Gathering

Luckily for Lauren, she didn't need to track down one of her fellow Acrobats – he came to her.

Just before her shift was going to end, Noah walked in, looking like he had just gone in for a book. He looked around, spotted the other Midnighter pushing a cart back behind the desk, and approached her nonchalantly. "Lauren, think you could help me?" he murmured, confirming her suspicions that he hadn't come in because he had learned from one of the others; he was just after a book.

"Yeah, what are you looking for?" she replied. She listened carefully while he described what he was looking for, then nodded and began leading him towards the section he was after. "I'm pretty sure it was put back on the shelf this morning . . . by the way, Noah?"

"Yeah?" the other Acrobat asked, sounding the same as always. Clearly had no idea about the upcoming secret Midnighters meeting that night.

"Chris spotted two others earlier this afternoon. They're not one of us. We're all meeting up at the clubhouse tonight."

Noah listened, than nodded. "I'll be there."

"Good." With that, she plucked the book off the shelf that the other Acrobat had been looking for and handed it to him, smiling. He took it and went back to the desk to check it out, while she went to retrieve her purse and leave the library to find Kang.

The drooling car lovers that had been all over Joel's Ferrari were gone, but she still had a few people to avoid when she backed her Porsche out of the lot. Growling under her breath, she briefly toyed with the idea of getting Jake to "fix" them, if only so she didn't have to run the risk of nearly killing someone every time she left work.

Pulling out and into the street, she went off to find the others.

XxX

It wasn't hard for Joel to find Mai – he was walking right out of his school when the Polymath pulled up in the streets in front of it. The Chinese-American recognized his ride right off the bat – who wouldn't? – and at Joel's urging, slipped into shotgun.

"Thanks for the lift," he said, dumping his backpack into the backseat and slouching backwards in the chair.

"Hard day?" the older boy suggested sarcastically, even as the Mindcaster reached back and fumbled around in his bag, looking for the medicine that he kept in there. Joel had always had a hard time understanding the pain that Mai, Jake, Caspian, and Anthony always had to deal with because of their powers, partly because he thought that it would make it easier in life to be able to read minds.

"Tell me about it. Had to deal with five teenage dating dramas that I couldn't tune out, and had to resist probing into the resident genius's head for the test answers," he replied, popping an aspirin into his mouth and swallowing, making a face at the bland flavor of the pill. "Can't wait for the blue time."

"Speaking of which," Joel said, pulling away from the curb and starting to cruise through the traffic of the mid-afternoon, "we're meeting up tonight at the regular place. Chris found others that he doesn't recognize. He thinks that they might be the ones from Bixby that Ari's told us about."

Mai was quiet for a few minutes, than said softly, while they were waiting at a red light, "And Lauren told you to find me and Kit and pass on the message, right?"

"Right."

The younger boy closed his eyes for a few seconds, then said slowly, "I'm not sure, but I think Kit's in the store ahead, buying more metal stuff for weapons."

"Let's check it out," the Polymath said, pulling over into an empty space and parking. He stepped out with Mai, and made double sure that the car was locked. Last thing he wanted was to get the car stolen again.

XxX

Finding Stephan after his latest, unsuccessful, job hunt wasn't easy. The Flamebringer was rather gloomy over it, but in the end his distinct taste made him stand out from the daylighters that surrounded him in the middle of Times Square.

Jake raced across the crosswalk towards the other Midnighter and firmly gripped his bare wrist. Stephan's eyes widened as the mental tide flowed between them, then relaxed and nodded as Jake hurried off. The whole exchange had taken less than a minute to transact.

XxX

While driving towards the place Kang took karate lessons after school, Lauren was quick to pull out her cell phone in a red light, ignoring the danger, and phoned Anthony's private line. His music store tended to always have a busy line, so she had to call him by his own cell instead.

"Hello?"

Good, so he had his phone. "Anthony, it's Lauren. We're meeting up tonight at the usual time at our usual hangout. Can you make it?"

The "usual time" was the start of the blue time, or as close as the Midnighters could make it. The "usual hangout" was the special area that Lauren and Chris had helped gain after Kit and Joel had mapped the areas in the Manhattan during the blue time, with some help from Ari.

"Yeah, of course I can."

"Good." And as the light turned green, Lauren hung up.

XxX

Kit was looking at a large necklace, with links of metal that numbered 13 times 13 (otherwise known as 169) when the other Polymath of their small band of Midnighters tapped him casually on the shoulder. When he pretended to ignore it, Joel got impatient and poked him several more times in the same area before Kit finally decided to hear out Joel, if only to get him to stop. He turned around to find Mai was with them, standing rather awkwardly close to the door.

"What is it, Joel?" Kit said impatiently, one hand on the display case for the necklace. Idly, he was wondering if he had enough money to buy it; it would be nice to give Lauren a break from supplying the Polymaths with their metal supplies.

"Lauren's called a meeting. Same time, same place, tonight." And with that, Joel turned and dragged Mai outside, back into his Ferrari, and away. Shaking his head, Kit went back to examining the metal.

XxX

It was hard for Chris, even for someone with his high-standing pedigree, to get inside the place that Caspian worked. He doubted that the older Mindcaster would come to their meeting – he usually didn't – but it was worth leaving a note for him in his mailbox at his place, and hope that he actually heeded their wish to join them.

XxX

Lauren waited quietly, her leather boots off, for Kang to show up after class. Even after a few weeks of knowing the other Acrobat, he was still too shy to tell her if he taught the class or was a student.

Finally, people began streaming out, and she went against the tide and walked into the classroom. Kang was there, helping clean up. He looked up, and rapidly blushed when he saw her standing in the doorway. She quickly made motions to meet him outside once he was done, and after he hastily nodded and ducked his head down again, she went back outside to wait him out.

About five minutes later, he came out, shyly approaching her. She had wondered why he had gradually warmed up to the likes of Joel and Mai but still remained shy around her, until Jake had informed her that he was really shy around girls that he thought were beautiful. Since, she had made a point of interacting with the Korean-American as much as possible without hurting Jake's feelings.

"Kang," she said, smiling at him, and he rapidly blushed again – his blood levels changed quite a bit with her around. "Kang, we're meeting up at in the contortion tonight, during the usual time. You coming?"

After a few seconds thought, Kang agreed to come. Smiling – which garnered another blush – Lauren turned and headed back to retrieve her shoes and get back to her car.

She still had parental units to deal with, after all.

XxX

Lauren – Inferna Firesword (aka Yours Truly)

Jake – Rockhound

Joel – Akaku: Master of the Winds

Mai – Hewkiinuva

Kang – Taka-Kun

Noah – Kagha

Ari – Toa of Awesomeness

Anthony – (. . . I completely forget his name xD)

Caspian – King of the Vahki

Chris – Toa of Awesomeness

Kit – The Power that Is