TinySprite: (Wide awake now, cup of coffee in hand) Okay, I'm up now, so let's get this done properly!

Duke: I think it's my turn now.

Disclaimer: The authoress owns nothing but the plot and any OC's within. Well, for now she does...

Tiny:.....What was that last bit?

Duke: Something you didn't hear!


As they sat down at one of the store's tables, Grin thought carefully over what he wanted to speak with her about. There were so many questions buzzing around in his head that he didn't know where to start.

She began for him, "Were the books to your liking?"

The mallard blinked but nodded at her, "Yes, they were quite helpful."

Indeed they had been. He'd found a surprising amount of similarities in their cultures. Both had Nagas, Fairies, Ghosts and Dragons, although the Avian version was much closer to the serpentine Chinese Dragon than the more lizard like European version. That was just the beginning of it too, what with the similar Brownies (except the Avian one was more trickster than helper), Griffins, and Mer-people (obvious body differences on that one). There were still others, but those were the major ones.

The only problem he had now was trying to narrow down just what that guardian spirit could be. He hadn't received any more clues to it and the dream hadn't let up, coming to him once every night. It was getting exhausting. But that wasn't what he was here for.

Hesitating, he decided to start with something easy, "I'd like to know a bit about the store, if you don't mind telling me?"

She blinked at him before her face went blank, "Let me guess, you want to know about the rumors?"

He nodded sheepishly, wondering if it was a touchy topic for her. But she just sighed, bringing a hand up to rub her temple, "At least you have the decency to ask..."

She continued on before he could question what she meant by that, "First off, there is no tomb in the basement. I've been down there and aside from boxes upon boxes of things, along with a few large spiders, there is nothing supernatural down there. I'm quite sure my boss's wife was not a witch, but she did have a few eccentricities he's told me about her."

Grin pressed on, interested, "Like what?"

The girl shrugged, "She didn't like animals going hungry so she used to put food for them out back. She liked to experiment with her cooking, to see if she couldn't find some new tasty recipe. Things like that."

Grin nodded, pondering on that. The human went on, "Let's see...this is an old building, so a ghost might be present. I don't think I've met it though, so I'm not sure."

The gray mallard thought for a minute before asking, "What about odd objects?"

She blinked, seeming to think on that before answering, "Well...we do carry some curious items but nothing too out of the ordinary. Really, it's all just exotic bookends and knick-knacks. We do have some rare books, but you'd need to consult my boss for that. I'm only allowed to show them, not sell."

He nodded again, hesitant to ask this next question, "If I may...why did you throw Tanya's compact?"

The girl next to him was silent for a bit, before finally mumbling, "I....don't do so well with mirrors...."

Grin stayed quiet himself, curious as to why, but not sure how he should phrase the question. The store's interior seemed to be getting colder, making him feel like he might want to leave soon. He mentally frowned at that. Was it connected to her? It only seemed to get this way when her mood had obviously soured and it would explain earlier this week, when she'd clearly been upset.

She broke the silence that had uncomfortably settled between them, "Was that all or did you need something else?"

He thought about it, "Actually...yes, that was all. Thank you for your time."

She nodded, standing up with him as Grin made to leave, "Have a pleasant day sir."

He nodded at her, returning the sentiment as he left. Making his way down the street, Grin mulled over this new information. While he still needed to help that girl from his dreams, this one clearly needed help too. If she was a budding psychic, as it was beginning to look like, she'd need guidance in controlling her abilities.

But...something about the mirror thing still bugged him, though he couldn't say why. It was a detail he felt needed close attention even if it confused him. Stars, what he wouldn't give to have his sensei here for his advice...

Upon returning to the Pond, he was surprised to see several boxes next to Phil's office door. Looking inside, he found their manager rummaging through piles of papers, clearly annoyed. The man noticed him and gave Grin a weak smile, "Hey Babe! Your walk go okay?"

Grin nodded, eyeing the office, "It went well, are you cleaning up?"

Phil rolled his eyes, "I wish! Some one messed up my filing system and now I gotta fix it."

The large drake blinked. Phil had a filing system? What was it, a stack each for 'Promote' 'Sue' 'Undecided'? Deciding not to voice that, Grin instead said, "Do you need any help?"

The look of relief on the man's face told him he'd made the right choice, "Yeah, take those boxes next to the door and make sure all's there that supposed to be."

Grin nodded, moving to sit on the floor and opening a box, "Like what?"

Phil grumbled as a stack of neat papers almost fell over, "Just...they should just be past promotions and the paperwork for them. Anything like a lawsuit or something take out and hand over to me."

The mallard made an affirmative nod, poking through the first box. It seemed to be all in order, filled with files of old paperwork and photos of the various promotions they'd done over the last year and a half. Had it really been that long since they'd arrived on Earth?

He mused on that as he pushed the box to the side and opened another one. It sure didn't feel like it. Part of him dared to wonder how Puckworld was doing now but he put a stop to that quickly. It wouldn't do to think of things he had no control over or to worry either. Things happened as they happened, often for a reason.

It was on the third box that this was proven. Picking up one surprisingly thin file, a few pictures slipped out of it onto Grin's lap. Frowning he picked them up to put them back only to stop. Staring at one in particular, he reopened the file to double check it. This promotion was only a couple of months ago and had gone smoothly. Still, he turned to Phil, "Phil, about this one..."

The human looked up from where he'd been elbow deep in a stack of papers dealing with some plagiarism lawsuit, "Yeah, what about it?"

Grin stood to walk it over to him, pictures still in hand, "Was there anything that stood out about this one?"

Phil took the file and flipped through it, "No...not really. We didn't have any trouble that night outside of the normal stuff. You know Babe, fans complaining about luck and stuff like that."

The promotion in question had been done at an away game, in South Carolina. A raffle had been done that night, according to ticket numbers. The holders of the called tickets got a picture with the hockey player of their choice from the winning team after the game. The Mighty Ducks had won that night, so they'd been the ones for the pictures. Phil must have kept the extras.

The one that had caught Grin's interest was actually a picture of Mallory with two people, both of whom had had their tickets called. One was an older man with dark hair and brown eyes, dressed in a thick jacket, blue jeans and boots. He'd given a half-smile to the camera. It was the other that had Grin's attention.

She was a teen girl, with dark hair and blue eyes. She too wore a thick jacket and blue jeans, but with tennis shoes. She'd also given a half-smile to the camera, with just a touch more warmth than the man's. There was enough resemblance between their faces to tell they were father and daughter. The girl stood out slightly better in his memory because he remembered that she'd nearly fallen onto the ice due to her tennis shoes slipping when walking over for the photo line.

Phil looked at him, curious, "Something bugging you Grin?"

The tall mallard shrugged slowly, "Could we get the names of the people in the photos? Like this one?"

He handed that picture over to Phil who glanced over it before smiling broadly, "Oh I remember this one! Hah! That gal got Nosedive in a huff because she waved him off, saying she wanted Mallory for the picture."

Grin frowned, "I don't remember that."

Phil shrugged, "I think you'd already gone to the lockers. The guy said that they had to leave right after the game and they talked Mal into taking a picture with them before they left. That was about when Nosedive skated over and tried to tease the girl into getting a picture with him. They were gone by the time the rest of you guys had already changed."

Their manager handed the photo back, "Sorry Babe, but there's no way to track them down. They weren't required to give names and the photos were technically free. Why were you asking?"

Grin shrugged, "No real reason. Just curious."

Phil didn't seem to buy it, but dropped the subject anyway. Grin looked again at the picture, "Is it okay if I keep this?"

Their manager nodded, giving him a curious look, "Yeah, it's just a copy anyway. They have the original."

Grin thanked him and put the picture away in his back pocket for now. He knew it, that was the girl from his dreams. The one who needed his help.

However, this opened a whole new set of problems. For example, just how was he going to get to South Carolina and was that girl even living there? They could have been tourists that stopped by for a game before going on home.

Great...now he had a headache.


Tiny: (grumbling at coffee maker) C'mon I don't have all day!

Mallory: (whispering to Duke) You sure this is okay?

Duke: (whispering back) Hey, Tanya's the one that messed with that thing, not me!

Coffee maker: (Is making coffee at half its normal speed, making noises like it's about to break down)