“Now, what were you saying about the drainage?”
Ice looked around. The hole where the house had been was filled in. Flat for a few meters then sloping down into the ravine.
They had plucked out the eroded hole that had been under the front corner and shifted it out about three meters, and filled in behind it. Then stuck the broken slabs of the former driveway all over to form a three tiered waterfall . . . or what would be a waterfall if there was any water . . .
Lucky Dave grinned. “Oliver had a waterfall sort like that, almost there. Of course in Makkah he re-circulated the water and everyone kidded him about using up a year’s worth of water every time he held a party.”
Ice looked back at the “waterfall.”
“That’s quite spectacular. Or will be when there’s water.”
Foo snickered. “If the water goes where we planned.”
Ice looked around at the President.
“As someone who lived in the Gothic horror for eight years, I recommend you don’t let anyone build too much while drunk on magic. Thank you for this fascinating . . . demonstration of the peaceful use of magic. Unfortunately, I’m have to get back to the office now.” Izzo grinned. “I hope you’ll invite me out to see the progress occasionally.”
“Glad to, sir.”
Drunk on magic? Yeah. It did sort of feel like that.
With their usual efficiency, they were gone in minutes, leaving Ice alone with Keiq.
“So, umm . . . Do you like it? Were you impressed? Or did we terrify you?”
“Yes.” Keiq stepped up to the gap in the side wall and looked in. “I guess I need to hunt for pictures of the inside and find out about these end rooms.”
“Patios, I think. At least on the upper floor. See the ledges where beams could go across? That’d be nice balcony for the half-circle room up there.
“Down here it feels weird. The foundation at that wall of the basement, ends there with concrete steps up to here, then a solid concrete slab across the rest. Buried under all the dirt and leaves that have blown in and composted.”
“Steps? You can feel them?”
“Yeah, I can see the density of the concrete, and the steel reinforcement. It’s . . . umm, a lot like a recognition point, for teleporting, now that I think about it.” Ice frowned at the weedy soil beyond the yellow tape. “I wonder why they bricked up the doorway, down there?”
Keiq snorted. “And how many skeletons we’ll find behind it?”
“Ahh . . . that hadn’t actually occurred to me.” Ice turned and strolled back to the driveway.
“I don’t mind skeletons, ghosts would be a bit much, though.”
“Hmm, you know it's odd? All this magic, all scientifically explained . . . mostly . . . and people still believe in ghosts.” Ice turned as a car zoomed around the curve of the driveway, and screeched to a halt. “Ah. The building inspector.”
The man slammed out of the car. “What do you do to Due! She was hysterical . . . and . . .”
He stared, slack-jawed at the house. “Ah . . . How did you . . . There is not a construction company in the region that would contract a job like that without a permit. Without insurance! What . . . how . . . You, you have broken so many laws I don't know where to start!”
“A few regulations, perhaps. Laws? Nope. Warriors are exempt.”
“Are you freaking crazy! You ignorant, jumped-up, social-climbing Native! You. Are. Not. A. Warrior!” He flapped his arms like he was trying to take off and jumped back into his car. Slammed the door. Peeled out leaving rubber on the old driveway.
“Goodness. I think he's upset.”
Keiq snorted. “But what are you going to do?”
“Ignore him as long as I can?” Ice shrugged.
Keiq looked at her watch. “Quitting time. No point in going back, unless you’ve got something you need to do?”
“Have you been upstairs? You should see the view from the half-circle room.”
Keiq looked at the crisscrossing yellow tape over the front entrance. “I guess I might as well join you in flaunting the law.”
Ice snapped the top two bands and Keiq stepped over the lower two and walked cautiously across the room to the ladder.
Ice followed her up, pretending he wasn't admiring her shapely derriere in well fitted slacks.
Their timing was excellent, the sun just touching the horizon, shining through the windows on the right.
“I think we might even get the sunrise, from the other side.” Ice eyed her. “It's make a great living room, or for that matter, apartment.”
Keiq sighed. “Yes. It would. Still trying, eh?”
“Well, you're probably wise to steer clear of me until all the legal stuff has been dealt with.”
Snort. “Well, I suppose someone needed to test all those old laws that exempted the Warriors from so many of them.”
He put his arm around her shoulders and watched the sun sinking.
“Mind you, they didn't exempt themselves from the important ones. Just traffic laws and unimportant things.”
“Like permits and insurance?” She leaned a bit of weight on him, relaxing against him.
“I did actually buy insurance, I'm covered there. So . . . I should clean up and feed you?”
“I talked to Wacky on the way here. She said I should bring you home with me for dinner at least.”
“Good plan. I need to take Azek apart and grill him for important boyfriend information.”
She pulled away and glowered from under lowered brows. “What sort of information?”
“I have no idea when your birthday is. Or . . . favorite colors, styles, places you always wanted to see . . . zip. I’m failing at the boyfriend thing.”
“Eighteen Shawwal.” She paused at his wince. “I am forty-one. Most years I celebrate with a week tour of someplace I’m curious about.”
“I completely missed your birthday last fall . . . and the year before. No wonder you don’t consider me husband material.”
“In 1420, the election had me too busy to do anything. But as I was moping at my desk about turning-forty-and-nobody-loved-me this handsome man walked in and asked me out to lunch. Made passes and jokes, talked like he realized I was intelligent, made me laugh, and left me blushing as all his fellow workers were quite certain that handsome fellow had totally fallen for me.” She grinned suddenly. “Then when I got home, I walked into a surprise birthday party, complete with black crepe paper hangings and a toy vulture. It was an excellent birthday.”
“Umm . . .”
“Last year we were both so busy I missed my birthday.” She grinned. “Now, what’s your official birthday, and does it bare the faintest resemblance to your actual birthday?”
“Twenty-nine Nicholas, 1384 officially, 1378 actually, and give or take a week for uncertainties in calendar translations, as to exactly what day. You young punk.”
“Humph! And here I thought I was cradle-robbing. How’d you get away with claiming to be . . . what? Sixteen when you registered?”
Ice bit his lip, then pulled out his comp and pulled up a very old file . . . “My picture at the registry office.”
She leaned to look. Choked, cleared her throat.
“Go ahead, laugh. I was not quite the image of an under-aged pencil-necked geek.” He huffed out a laugh. “My voice was still squeaking. On Earth, at the university, everyone assumed I was a child prodigy or some such. I think I finally stopped growing a year later, and started muscling up.”
“Typical Very High Oner delayed growth spurt and puberty.” She snickered.
The sun sank and the world darkened. Ice pulled a little heat and formed a globe of light. They picked their way through debris and back outside.
Ice nodded. “So . . . See you at your place?”
“Yep.” She slid into her little car and he headed for the ute.