Chapter 30

Friday has always been the blessed child of Time. It’s admired, looked forward to, and savored with each occurrence. Sure, the other days get to host occasional holidays or birthday parties that make them pleasant, though poor Monday seems always to come up with the short end of the stick, but none have the consistent excitement and magic attached to them that Friday does. It is then all the more powerful a statement that there was little joy to be found in the HCP students on the Friday before Monday’s test. Most were worried, some were excited, but a genuine sentiment of joy was quite the rarity.

Mary noted this as her teammates piled into the lobby: a mixed emotional palette with predominantly negative overtones. She couldn’t blame them; after all, their classes were far more taxing this year. Even she had to treat headaches after nearly every Focus class. She knew Professor Stone gave everyone the same assignments, but Mary would swear she was getting ridden harder all the same. They needed a break, and badly, but with the test in just a few days there was simply no time for it.

“Listen up, everyone,” Nick said as the final straggler came into the room. “We’re taking a break.”

“Very funny, Nick,” Mary all but snapped.

“Very true, my petite friend, and thank you for illustrating my point,” Nick rebutted. “Let’s be honest here, we all feel like shit. We’re tired, we’re worried, we’re just plain worn out. This year has been nothing but stress so far and that is not a mindset that’s conducive to winning. So tonight we’ll run through our drills and make sure everyone remembers our standard tactics. Then tomorrow we do nothing at all test related.”

“So what do you suggest? Another slasher marathon?” Alice asked.

“While that would suit me just fine, I was actually thinking it should be something the entire team wanted to do,” Nick said with a smile.

There was a beat of silence as his words sank in. “Wait,” Vince said slowly. “You mean you want everyone to decide together? Not just for you to hijack us into whatever activities seem like a good idea?”

“That is correct,” Nick confirmed.

“Wow. You really do think we need this,” Vince surmised.

“We might need it, but can we afford it? I mean, our first test is in just a few days. Taking a night off to screw around seems downright dangerous,” Mary pointed out.

“Not nearly as dangerous as not taking it off,” Nick replied. “Humans can only toil endlessly for so long. Every now and then we need to taste the sweeter things in life, to remember why we do the work in the first place. Much like Alice’s spa day, we need to be refreshed.”

“So what do we do then?” Roy queried.

“Consider the floor open; it’s our first matter of business,” Nick said. “Suggestions?”

“We could go bowling,” Vince said.

“We could go to a really fancy dinner,” Alice tossed out.

“Keg party,” Roy said without further explanation.

“Okay, so clearly we have some eclectic tastes,” Nick said. “Anyone else want to put in their two cents? Mary?”

“I’m fine with anything that isn’t horror movies,” Mary said.

“Easy enough to comply with,” Nick assured. “Camille? Alex? Any input from our non-resident members?”

Camille merely shook her head, but Alex spoke up.

“I do know of a party being thrown by one of the frats tomorrow night. There’s no theme, but they’re holding it on the top floor of the Rencroft building downtown, so it’s supposed to be pretty nice. They’re got a band, dance floor, and a dress code.”

“Sounds lame,” Roy snapped.

“There’s also an open bar after the twenty dollar cover,” Alex added.

“Sounds great,” Roy amended.

“That actually could be fine,” Alice said. “The dancing and fun of a club without the insane amount of people.”

“I’d be open to it,” Vince agreed. “Can we invite our other friends?”

“Of course,” Mary said before Nick could. She was still the leader after all. “I bet they need a night off as much as we do.”

“I do love the company of Thomas and his crew,” Nick agreed. In truth, he would have nipped the living shit out of the bud of that idea had he not been on the team with both telepaths. As it was, spending time around future competition could only be beneficial.

“It will make Selena happy; she’s been bugging me to take her out when we have time,” Alex said.

“Sounds like we’re more or less agreed then,” Nick announced. “Any objections?”

“I have one request,” Mary said. “Roy, would you mind if Hershel spent the first part of the night there with me? I’d very much like to dance with my boyfriend.”

“Nah, that’s fine,” Roy said. “In fact, he can have the whole evening. I kind of owe him: I’ve been using a lot of time for training.”

“Nonsense, you deserve to have some fun as much as the rest of us,” Mary said. “We’ll just bring you a change of clothes for after the shift.” Honestly, Mary would have preferred to have Hershel all night, but she also knew how worried he’d been lately over Roy’s need to have some fun. Much as she might have liked more romance out of the event, this was an activity for the team, and that meant putting the greater good first.

“Well then, seems like we’re all set for our break night then,” Nick said. “Now all that leaves are tonight’s drills.”

Though the group’s spirits sank a bit at re-submersion into the task at hand, Mary had to admit that the overall sentiment of her teammates was improved. Giving them something to look forward to had salved the weariness in their bodies and sharpened their minds. All of which she would try to keep in mind when she raked Nick over the coals later.