A Sorcerer in Downtown Atlanta Ch. 1
Here we go! Chapter one of the sequel to “A Genius in King Arthur’s Court” is here at last! For those of you who have not read this aforementioned story, I highly recommend you do so. Otherwise, you’ll likely be completely lost. Also of note, the sexual content for this story will likely be about on par with the previous story. It’s there when appropriate, but certainly not the focus, i.e. not a stroke story. I hope you enjoy!
A Sorcerer in Downtown Atlanta
Chapter One – Busted
Cindy Brighton clutched her backpack as she entered the parking lot of her brother’s apartment complex. All the while, she fidgeted nervously, still worried about the upcoming physics quiz on Monday. Thankfully, her big brother was the teaching assistant of the class. If anyone could help her feel more comfortable with the material, it would be him. After adjusting her glasses and tying her long brown hair into a ponytail, she slid her key into the lock and opened the door to Dave’s apartment.
“Hey, Dave. Sorry I didn’t text, but that quiz on Monday has just been festering in my mind all night, and I wanted to get a jump… oh!”
“Uh… hey, Cindy.”
Cindy now stood openmouthed at the sight before her. Her brother was reclining on the sofa with a gorgeous redhead lying on his chest. Dave Brighton, known around campus as “Babbling Brighton,” looked to have finally gotten lucky. Though both of them were clothed, the look in their eyes and the empty pizza box made the truth quite clear: they had spent the night together.
“I… didn’t realize you had company over. Who’s this?” Cindy asked.
“Oh, Maddie, this is Cindy, my sister. Cindy, this is Madeleine. She’s… my girlfriend.”
Cindy’s smile disappeared at this. “Girlfriend? My nerdy, socially awkward brother who could never even talk to pretty girls suddenly has a girlfriend that he apparently spent the night with?”
“Yeah, that’s right,” Dave laughed.
“Bullshit! Where’d you meet her?”
Maddie began, “Well, you see-”
“Not to be rude, but I’d like to hear from my brother,” Cindy cut her off.
“I… met her around campus a couple of weeks ago. She’s an exchange student from England, and-”
“Dave, just stop. You really are a terrible liar,” Cindy sighed. In addition to being a psychology major, she had known Dave her entire life. She knew all his tells when he was trying to hide something. “Why are you lying to me?”
Dave took a deep breath and replied, “I traveled back in time to medieval Camelot, saved her life, and brought her home with me.”
Cindy recoiled a bit at hearing this. Her brother had said some harebrained things over the years, but this really took the cake. After a moment, the smartass grin slowly appearing on his face told her what she needed to know.
“Dave, you are so full of shit,” Cindy sighed, rolling her eyes.
“Wouldn’t be your brother otherwise,” Dave said with a slight laugh, relieved she had bought it.
“Whatever. We gonna study or not?”
“Uh, yeah. Maddie, you ok on your own for a bit?”
“Of course, I’ll just do a bit of reading. Mind if I use your bedroom?” she asked in her sweet British accent.
After a quick kiss on the lips, Maddie giggled and said, “I love you.”
Though Dave’s breathing quickened at knowing that Cindy had heard, it wasn’t enough to stop him from replying, “Love you, too.”
Maddie took a moment to grab Dave’s copy of The Once and Future King from his backpack before glancing at Cindy. “I hope you won’t run off when you two are done. Dave’s talked so much about his sister, and I’d love to get to know you,” Maddie said.
“Oh, don’t worry. I will definitely need to get to know you,” Cindy replied, narrowing her eyes with a sly grin.
“Fantastic! I’ll, um, be in back if you need me,” Maddie said before adjourning to the bedroom.
As the door shut, Cindy turned to Dave. “The ‘L’ word? Seriously?” she asked with skepticism.
“No, don’t you ‘Cindy’ me, Dave. Get your head out of your ass and pay attention. We need to have a little talk as brother and sister.”
“So, you don’t wanna study?” Dave smirked.
“No. More important things are on my mind all of a sudden,” Cindy shot back. Taking a seat in the Ikea chair across from the sofa, she asked, “How long have you known her?”
“Two or three weeks.”
“And you never once thought to tell me about her?! Why?!”
“Because it’s my first serious relationship, and I needed to be sure we were both on the same page,” Dave lied. “And to be honest, we weren’t even official until last night.”
A brief pause, then Cindy asked, “So, you two have had sex then?”
“Holy shit, I’m not talking about my sex life to my sister!” Dave moaned.
“I’m not giving you a choice, Big Brother! I wouldn’t be doing my job as your sister if I didn’t look out for you!”
“Look out for me?” Dave laughed. “I’m the one about to graduate, Cindy!”
“Yes, but I’m the more experienced one in the realm of relationships, and even you have to admit to that,” Cindy replied. “Now, I ask again: have you had sex with her?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“Because I’m afraid she might be using you, Dave!” Cindy said in exasperation.
“Well, you can just cut that shit out. She isn’t using me.”
“How the hell would you know, Dave? I’m assuming you were a virgin before you met her, right? Don’t you see? You finally lost your virginity and all of a sudden fell head over heels for her because of it! That’s so easy to take advantage of!”
“It’s not like that at all!” Dave insisted.
“Really? Why not?”
“Because I was her first too!” Dave said angrily.
A brief pause, then, “She told you that?”
“Yes, but there was also no disguising it,” Dave replied, remembering the spotting of blood on his first night with Maddie. Softening his tone, he continued, “This is real, Cindy. We’re serious.”
Studying his face for a moment, she replied, “You really mean that, don’t you?”
“I do. She’s special; different from any girl I’ve ever met.”
Another brief pause, then, “Ok. I believe you.”
“Thanks,” Dave sighed in relief.
“Well, I did see what book she took with her to read just now. If she’s as much a nut for King Arthur as you are, it’s no wonder you’ve fallen for her,” Cindy smirked.
“Hey, she is English, after all. Arthurian lore is kind of her wheelhouse,” Dave laughed.
“So how exactly do you know her? Traveling back to Camelot or some such bullshit?”
“Hah! As I was trying to say earlier, she’s studying abroad, originally from England,” Dave replied, hoping she’d buy it this time.
“Biology, focusing primarily on marine life.”
“Nice. Tough major. Where’d you meet?”
Thinking fast, Dave answered, “The Starbucks a block down from the campus bookstore. I was just relaxing in there, reading The Once and Future King, and all of a sudden, I hear this sweet giggle. I look up and there she is, asking if she can join me. At first, it played out like you’d expect, me being unable to speak, but she wasn’t scared off, amazingly enough. She was so patient, and soon we started talking about the book and King Arthur. By that time, it was like I was a completely different person. I couldn’t not talk to her, as into T. H. White as she was. We hung out for a while, got together several times over the next couple of weeks, and decided to make it official last night.”
“Still can’t believe you never told me about her,” Cindy said, rolling her eyes.
“I wanted to, but… a part of me was afraid it was all too good to be true. I had to be sure, ya know?”
“I guess that makes sense. How ‘bout you ask her to join us?”
“Sure, just give me a sec. I wanna let her know everything’s ok, since I’m sure she heard the first part of our, um, conversation,” Dave replied.
“Yeah, I guess we did get a bit loud,” Cindy blushed.
Entering his room, Dave found Maddie stretched out on her back, holding the book over her face as she read.
“Dave, is everything all right?” she asked. “I heard most of-”
“We’re fine,” Dave said. “Why don’t you come join us? Cindy wants to meet you officially.”
“Of course, I’d love to!” Maddie said, bouncing up from the bed.
Dave felt his chest tighten as her auburn hair bounced with her. “Damn…” he had to mutter.
“Oh, just the way you bounce around like that. It makes me want to do things to you,” Dave replied in a low voice.
After a quick kiss on the cheek, Maddie said, “Behave yourself. We have a guest, after all!”
“Fine,” Dave sighed melodramatically, eliciting a giggle from Maddie. Escorting her back out to the living room, Dave said, “All right, official introductions. Maddie, this is my sister, Cynthia Brighton. Cindy, this is my girlfriend, Madeleine Saxon.”
“A pleasure, Cynthia. Dave has told me so much about you,” Maddie smiled, shaking Cindy’s hand.
“It’s Cindy, please. The only time I get called ‘Cynthia’ is when I’m in trouble with the parental units or my brother’s trying to annoy me,” she replied, shooting a playful glare at Dave.
“And it works!” Dave smirked.
“Boys,” Cindy sighed.
“Whatever would we do without them?” Maddie giggled.
Taking a seat on the chair across from the sofa, Cindy asked, “So, Dave tells me you two met a couple of weeks ago?”
“Yes,” Maddie replied, hearing Dave’s earlier conversation in her mind thanks to their mind merge. “I was just in for a mocha, and I saw this good-looking guy in the corner. He looked so shy, buried in his book, and then I saw just what book he was reading. Any man into the Arthurian Legend was one I simply had to get to know! Took a little coaxing to get him to open up, but once he did, the connection was instantaneous. I just knew I’d hit the jackpot.”
“Figures you’d meet a girl using your little obsession,” Cindy teased Dave.
“Hey, it only took me a decade and a half!” Dave laughed. “But yeah, safe to say that we bonded over The Once and Future King. She knows those stories about as well as I do!”
“Oh lord, Maddie, you have no idea what it was like growing up with this guy. It was always ‘Arthur this’ and ‘Merlin that’. Such a dork,” Cindy giggled.
“Sorry, but I’d have loved every second of it,” Maddie replied. “My father would always regale me with the tales and adventures of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Every night, those were my bedtime stories.”
“You and your dad are close?” Cindy asked with a smile.
“Oh… not anymore. He passed away recently,” Maddie replied somberly.
“Oh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t realize-”
“It’s all right, I have nothing but fond memories of him.”
Seeking to steer the conversation back to more pleasant topics, Cindy asked, “Um… who’s your favorite character from the books?”
Maddie visibly relaxed at this question. “I think I would have to say that Merlin is my favorite.”
“Really? I would have pegged you as more of a Lancelot and Guinevere gal,” Cindy replied.
“Lancelot and Guinevere are certainly… interesting. But I’ve always found it difficult to read their parts of the story because of how immoral they are,” Maddie said. “After all, it was due to their actions that Camelot fell. But Merlin remained that steadfast moral compass the entire time, always trying to show Arthur the good and just path to take.”
“Yeah, I’ve always been an Arthur guy, but I have to admit that recent events have made me a bigger fan of Merlin,” Dave agreed with a grin.
“It’s not surprising. He was a wonderful teacher after all,” Maddie giggled.
At that point, Cindy went quiet as she watched Dave and Maddie. She no longer doubted that they were genuinely in love, seeing their interactions, but how they were talking confused her to no end. The way they discussed Merlin and Arthur, it was as if they were reminiscing about old friends, rather than analyzing literary characters. To top it all off, she suddenly remembered that the Starbucks Dave had mentioned had been closed for renovations for at least a month, maybe longer. She knew Dave’s account of meeting Maddie was completely plausible, but she now realized he was still lying to her for some reason. As she tried to piece it all together, she kept going back to his line of insane bullshit about traveling back to Camelot. He had shown none of his typical signs of lying whatsoever. There was no logical explanation for it, but Cindy couldn’t ignore the facts in front of her face.
“Dave, what the fuck is going on here?” Cindy whispered, her voice trembling.
“Huh? What do you mean?”
Maddie’s face suddenly grew concerned. “Are you all right, Cindy? Your face… it’s pale! What’s wrong?”
As Maddie reached over to take her hand, Cindy jumped out of her seat. “Don’t touch me! What the fuck is going on here?!”
“Cindy, calm down! What are you talking about?” Dave asked, placing himself between Cindy and Maddie.
“You didn’t meet Maddie in the Starbucks near the bookstore, because that Starbucks has been closed for renovations for over a month!” Cindy said, now seeming more fearful. “I’m a psychology major, Dave, not to mention that I’ve known you all my life. I know when you’re lying. You lied about meeting Maddie in a Starbucks and you lied about her studying abroad! But… you weren’t lying when you said you met her in Camelot. Or, at least, you believe you’re telling the truth when you say that.”
“Don’t bullshit me, Dave!” Cindy spat, slapping his hand away. “Tell me what the fuck is going on right now!”
“Dave, she needs to hear the truth,” Maddie whispered to him. “She’s your sister, after all.”
“What truth?!” Cindy demanded.
Sighing, Dave replied, “Cindy, I really did travel back in time to medieval Camelot. It’s where I met Maddie.”
“But… how?” Cindy asked, becoming weak on her feet.
“Easy there!” Maddie said, rushing to help steady her. “Come on, let’s relax on the sofa.”
“Oh, no… no, no, no… it’s finally happened,” Cindy moaned. “My genius big brother has gone insane!”
“I’m not crazy, Cindy, and I can prove it to you,” Dave replied. “But it is a very long story.”
Cindy just stared back into her brother’s eyes. “I’ve got time.”
Taking a seat in the Ikea chair, Dave began, “Well, it all started yesterday afternoon at archery practice. One of the other students fired an arrow that went high and flew off into the woods. When I went to retrieve it, I found the arrow stuck in a tree stump, almost like the Sword in the Stone. Upon pulling it out, I found myself in an unfamiliar forest, and soon heard shouting from a nearby clearing. There was an overturned carriage and a pair of horsemen attacking it. They quickly killed the two male occupants of the carriage, and that’s when I saw Madeleine. She was about to be raped and murdered by the last surviving horseman, so… I did what I had to do.”
Gasping a bit, Cindy realized, “You killed him, didn’t you?”
“Shot him clean through the head with an arrow,” Dave nodded.
“Dave, this is insane. You said you could prove you aren’t crazy!”
“I’m getting there,” he assured her. “Anyway, I come to find out that this place I’ve found myself in is the legendary kingdom of Camelot. A group of Arthur’s men found us, and since the man I killed was one of Mordred’s soldiers, they took me to meet King Arthur himself. In my conversation with Arthur and Merlin, I begin to understand that I had somehow traveled back in time. Worse, I realized that I had already taken actions that would change the intended path of history.”
“Change history? How?” Cindy asked.
Dave explained, “Madeleine is the daughter of Lord Byron of Saxon. Lord Byron and King Arthur had been in discussions to form an alliance against the forces of Mordred in an attempt to turn the tide of the war. But Lord Byron’s death put an end to those attempts. Moreover, the attack that killed him was also intended to kill Madeleine. According to historical accounts, she should have died, but due to my intervention, she didn’t. As you can imagine, Merlin and Arthur were pretty distraught upon learning of this from me. Arthur was at a loss for what to do, but Merlin formulated a plan to help send me home before I could cause any further damage to history.”
“Dave, seriously. This is too far out in left field. I’m going to need that proof,” Cindy pressed.
Standing, Dave replied, “Merlin’s plan was to use the time-travel spell to send me home. Unfortunately, the limitations of the spell made it so that he was unable to bring me to a time that he was not familiar with, i.e. the future. The only way to send me home… was to teach me to use the spell.”
“Use the spell? What the fuck does that mean?” Cindy asked, growing impatient.
With a flick of his wrist, Dave ignited a small flame from the tip of his finger. He allowed it to dance around his hand for a few seconds, manipulating its size and color for good measure, before causing it to dissipate. Poor Cindy was utterly speechless, mostly from disbelief, but also from fear. She knew what she had just seen, but it defied all logic and rationality.
“I’m a sorcerer, Cindy,” Dave said at last.
“A… a what?” she whispered.
“You heard me right: a sorcerer,” Dave replied gently. “Magic is real, and it can be wielded by a few select individuals in the world.”
Cindy blinked, coming down from the initial shock bit-by-bit. “Dave… this is crazy. There’s no logical explanation for this…”
“Actually, there is,” Dave grinned. “Have you heard of the 20% of the brain theory?”
“Of course. It’s the idea that the average human can only access one fifth of their mental capacity at a single time. I haven’t ever bought into it, considering that I’ve grown up around a genius big brother.”
“That is exactly my point,” Dave smiled. “The theory is fact, as there are a few individuals capable of accessing the entirety of their brains. These people have the ability to use sorcery. In essence, it involves focusing their mind to levels strong enough to manipulate the physical world around them. For example, the flame you just saw was one I conjured up by willing the necessary molecules to vibrate and combust into flames.”
“Wait… is it sorcery or science?” Cindy asked.
“Yes and yes,” Dave answered. “The fact that I can access the entirety of my brain explains why I have such a natural aptitude for science and technology. This also helps in practicing my sorcery; the better I understand the laws of physics and nature, the easier it is to master new powers and spells. And, even though we have yet to delve into how strong she is, Maddie has this ability as well.”
Pulling Merlin’s pendant from her pocket, Maddie continued, “The stone you see here is called a Channel. It is what allows a sorcerer to focus their mind to the levels needed to bend the laws of nature. This one belonged to Merlin himself, and he bequeathed it to me upon his passing, sensing that I could make use of its power. Dave’s Channel is contained within the ring he now wears.”
“Huh, I was wondering where that ring came from,” Cindy mused. “So, Merlin discovered you were a sorcerer, taught you magic, and that allowed you to return home?”
“If only it had been that simple,” Dave muttered sadly. “Merlin did teach me, yes, but not enough for me to travel through time by myself. Arthur’s war with Mordred was a costly endeavor, and as Mordred began to gain momentum, Merlin had to enter the war himself. Eventually, he discovered that Mordred’s mother, Morgan le Fay, had been possessed by an evil entity intent on destroying everyone in Camelot. While the legends do say that Arthur failed and Camelot fell, the level of destruction she desired would have changed the course of history. Merlin and I had to work together to try and stop Morgan le Fay, which we did… but at the cost of Merlin’s life.” Choking up a bit at the memory of his teacher, Dave turned away and said, “Sorry…”
Maddie continued, “With Merlin dead, it seemed that Dave was trapped in the past. But that was when we discovered who had brought him into the past in the first place: The Lady of the Lake. She explained that she had to bring Dave to Camelot to prevent irreparable damage to the timeline. He possessed a unique blend of determination and ingenuity that would be able to defeat Morgan. As we had succeeded in the goal she wished us to achieve, the Lady of the Lake rewarded Dave by sending him home.”
“With you in tow,” Cindy smirked.
“Yes,” Maddie blushed. “After all, Dave and I had fallen in love during his time in Camelot. And as Dave realized, I did not belong in Camelot any more than he did. I would have died alongside my father were it not for Dave’s actions, which could have had dangerous consequences for history had I remained. For me to return with Dave to his time was the simplest and most effective solution, all things considered.”
Glancing at Dave for several seconds, Cindy said, “You must really love her.”
“I do,” Dave replied.
“So, Big Brother, you survived a time-jump to Camelot, saved the world, and met arguably the most gorgeous girl I’ve ever seen in the process. What exactly is your plan now?”
Dave shrugged. “Graduate in a month, find a job, get married, and start our life together.”
“Yeah, just one problem with that,” Cindy replied.
“Maddie’s not legally a real person in this time, you idiot!” Cindy laughed.
Dave’s smile disappeared at this. “Oh.”
“Yeah, oh. Good lord, my genius brother can be such a dunce…”
“I had not considered that, either,” Maddie admitted.
“If you two want to get married, you’ll have to find some way to establish Maddie as a real, legal person first,” Cindy continued. “Otherwise, you won’t have the necessary paperwork. Not even the cheapest Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas would marry you without it!”
“True enough,” Dave chuckled. “Guess I’ll have to work on that…”
Cindy’s face turned serious. “You know Mom and Dad will have to meet her.”
“Now that I know,” Dave replied.
Sensing a silent understanding between the two siblings, Maddie asked, “Is there reason to worry about that?”
“With you, I doubt it,” Cindy answered. “It’s just that… Mom and Dad were never too thrilled with the guys I dated growing up.”
“Because they were losers,” Dave snorted.
“Oh, come on. Even youcan admit that!” Dave teased her. “I mean, remember Brad?”
“Lord… I’m tryin’ not to…”
“Who’s Brad?” Maddie inquired.
“Cindy’s one-and-only attempt at dating a jock,” Dave said.
“I, um, mistakenly thought I could civilize him. It worked for a while… until I realized he was only doing it to get into my pants,” Cindy grimaced.
“Oh, my. Did you allow him?” Maddie asked.
“Hell no! I’m no virgin, but I don’t give it up that easy!”
“And then there was Charlie,” Dave continued.
“NO! Don’t you dare mock Charlie!” Cindy scolded him as she attempted to stifle a laugh. “It’s not his fault he was just so… dumb. He was still sweet, a nice guy all around.”
“That means only one thing,” Dave smirked, holding his hands about ten inches apart.
Maddie’s eyes bulged and she broke into a giggle fit as she finally got the joke, while Cindy began to beat on her brother with a nearby pillow. As their laughter filled the room, Cindy began to realize something incredible.
“Dave, you seem so… different. I mean, you’re still you, just more… confident. Yeah, confident and comfortable in who you are. Is it all because of Maddie?”
Dave nodded, “In large part, yes, but not entirely. A lot of it is learning that I’m a sorcerer; it kind of helped things to make sense. I always knew I was different somehow, and this just explained it.”
“Guess that’s true, you have always been a bit of an oddball. Still, you’re my oddball, Big Brother,” Cindy grinned.
“Thanks,” Dave replied. “But honestly, the biggest thing that changed my mentality was being put into life-or-death situations. I’m gonna be honest, there were times in Camelot that I worried I’d never see you again. You, Mom, Dad… I was scared I would end up dead in the past, nothing but a nameless smear on the page of history. It tends to give you… perspective.”
“The same thing happened to me when I watched Father and Sir James die protecting me,” Maddie agreed. “Death almost came for me when I first learned the truth about Dave. I was fearful that my very existence would cause the world harm, and I nearly took my own life in a misguided attempt to correct it. I thank God the Almighty that Dave managed to stop me. Now, I at last feel like I have a purpose in life again. Perspective, I suppose.”
“So… no more suicidal thoughts, right?” Cindy asked warily.
“None whatsoever,” Maddie replied. “Dave and I are going to do great things together. Of that I’m certain.”
“Yeah, but to do those great things, we need to find a way to make you a legal resident of this time,” Dave said, reaching for his backpack. “Guess I need to work on some research for that…”
“What’s that little book in there?” Cindy wondered.
“It’s my Incantus, my spell book. In reality, it’s about five times this size, but I shrunk it for travelling purposes,” Dave replied.
“Cool!” Cindy grinned. “Actually, I’m getting pretty hungry. Why don’t I make us some lunch while you research?”
“Huh? No way! You don’t have to make me lunch!” Dave protested.
“Dave, reality has been turned upside down for me in the last hour. Cooking is a return to normalcy for me,” Cindy replied. “Besides, it’s just some grilled cheese sandwiches.”
“Great! Be a few minutes.”
“I’ll help you,” Maddie said.
Entering the galley kitchen, Cindy pulled out a couple of skillets and spatulas while instructing Maddie on where to find the sliced bread and cheese. While Cindy had expected Maddie to be frightened by the amount of technology around her, she seemed quite at ease. She was impressed by the advancements that had been made in a thousand years, of course, but none of it made her uneasy or nervous.
“I have to say, you seem to be adjusting to the modern world pretty easily,” Cindy remarked. “Is that due to your sorcery powers as well?”
“No, it’s actually because of a spell Dave performed about a week ago,” Maddie replied. “Merlin called it the ‘mind merge’. In essence, it allows two people to share a part of their minds with each other, granting them experiences and memories that they can draw upon whenever they are needed.”
“It is, though I am finding that there are limits,” Maddie continued. “For example, I have a theoretical knowledge of what a stovetop is and how it works, but I still have never used one before. I doubt I could simply turn it on and prepare a fancy dinner without some practice.”
“Well then, I’ll show you,” Cindy smiled. “Grilled cheese sandwiches are about as simple as it gets for stovetop cooking.”
“Ah, yes. I remember Dave introducing me to the concept of sandwiches. He took me on what he called a ‘picnic’ at a nearby lake.”
“Damn! Sounds like my brother has some game after all!”
“Game?” Maddie asked searching her mind. “Ah! You mean he knows how to romance better than you realized.”
“Yeah, that,” Cindy giggled.
“Yes, Dave has proven to be quite skilled in the art of wooing. Perhaps he simply needed to be placed in his favorite point in history in order to thrive?”
“Maybe so. Ok, we’ve got everything we need,” Cindy said. “Start out by placing the two bread slices in the skillet. From here, there are a couple of different ways to make the sandwich. Some use butter or mayonnaise, others mix bacon or pepperoni in with the cheese. Me? I’m a purist. No extra ingredients, but two slices of cheese for the perfect consistency.”
“All right, two slices of cheese… done. What next?”
“Now, push in that knob below you and turn it to the little picture of a flame.”
Maddie did so, hearing a slight hiss and a few clicks. A moment later, the stove lit up with a small fire.
“Oh! I knew what was going to happen, and it still surprised me!” Maddie laughed.
“New experiences are good! Ok, turn it to medium heat. Now, the final key to a masterful grilled cheese is to take your spatula and press down on the sandwich while it cooks. This helps get the cheese nice and gooey while keeping the bottom evenly cooked.”
As simple a scene as it was, Maddie was enjoying herself to no end. Times may have changed, but it seemed that the practice of bonding over food was still as prevalent as ever. She followed Cindy’s instructions, checking the bottom of the sandwich every few seconds until it was the perfect shade of golden brown. After a minute or two, she flipped it over to cook the other side. All the while, she felt like Cindy was becoming something of an actual sister to her. She could only hope that Cindy felt the same way, though judging by the grin on her face, that wouldn’t be a radical assumption to make.
Before long, they had a trio of grilled cheese sandwiches ready. Dave had found a couple of leads in his research to help Maddie become a legal resident of his time period, but nothing solid as of yet. After lunch, he took a break from that and got back to helping Cindy on the reason she had originally come to his apartment that day: Monday’s quiz. As he suspected, Cindy was actually quite knowledgeable on the material, but needed more comfort and self-confidence with it. During their study session, Maddie was surprised at how easy it was for her to also understand the concepts they were discussing. Much of it was from her access to Dave’s memories, but the comprehension of the basic science was due to her apparent genius-level intellect. After a while, Maddie had to excuse herself to become acquainted with the concept of modern bathroom facilities.
“Dave, she’s incredible,” Cindy grinned as Maddie left.
“Yeah, she is…”
“I can definitely see why you fell for her. In spite of the world of differences, you two seem almost perfect for each other. Still, there’s one thing that bugs me a bit. Not that this is a drawback on her or anything, but I know it could be a major difference between you two.”
“What do you mean?”
“Dave, you must have noticed how religious Maddie is, right?”
“Well, yeah. But everyone from her point in time was that way,” Dave replied, trying to brush it off.
“And we both know you aren’t.”
“So, have you told her the truth? Have you told her you’re an Atheist?”
A long pause, then Dave admitted, “No.”
“Because it doesn’t matter.”
“Bullshit! Mom and Dad brought us both up Methodist, but you decided for yourself that you couldn’t be a part of it any longer. And now you’re going to try and tell me that doesn’t matter?”
“It doesn’t matter to me that she’s religious, and it shouldn’t matter to her that I’m not,” Dave said emphatically.
“I’m not saying that it would cause her to no longer love you,” Cindy tried to explain. “It’s just that you need to make sure to handle it tactfully. As you said, there weren’t really any Atheists in 10thcentury England. It’s going to be a foreign concept to her, and if it’s not handled well, it could… become a point of contention.”
Dave sighed. “I get it. You’re just trying to look out for us, and I’m not exactly known for my tact sometimes. I’ll think on how best to tell her.”
“Good.” Punching him on the shoulder with a sly grin, Cindy continued, “I’m proud of you, Big Brother. She’s a keeper.”