A/N: Here's a little story I wrote today. Not finished yet, sorry, but I'll work on it. I warn you now, I am not nearly as regular with my updates as I want to be (school has a habit of controlling my life) so if I don't post for a while, don't worry, I'm still writing. I just finished reading the midnighters books again, and I wish there was more in there about Dess, since she is obviously the best. That wish is from whence this story came.
Read and enjoy it, and don't forget to review!
Dess was awake. She lifted her head from the pillow, brushing dark hair out of her eyes to glance at the ever-precise clock on Geostationary. 3:53.47, it told her. She groaned. 9,373 seconds before her alarm went off, and since she had only been asleep for about 10,800 seconds, the extra time would have been nice. School would not be fun today.
Dess snorted. Like school at Bixby High was ever fun. After Melissa, Jonathon, and Jessica had left town, Rex had all but dropped out of school: caring for Madeline turned out to be a full time job. Combined with taking care of his father, Rex needed more than one extra hour to cope with going to school and doing homework.
So Dess was alone at school now. She didn't exactly mind it at school, but the secret hour was too lonely for her liking. With the other midnighters gone and Rex absorbed in the lore piled up in Maddy's house, the blue time had become rather empty.
Good news was, darklings were making a comeback. Dess grinned, remembering the excitement midnight, when she finally got to slay something with her new toy, Exceptionally Idiosyncratic Conceitedness. A stainless steel telescoping tripod, each portion of each leg exactly 39 centimeters long and inscribed with Phoenician numerals and thirteen-pointed stars, it could be dismantled for extra people to use or reassembled for maximum fire power. It was her baby, and Dess had tested it out on a psychokitty last night. It had performed beyond her expectations, and she wished she had someone to share the triumph with. Rex, holed up in the crepuscular contortion, probably couldn't care less.
A sighed slipped from her mouth as she sat up straight, refusing to mope. With 12,600 seconds before she had to leave for school, Dess had plenty of time to continue work on her new project. To offer more protection to the general population of daylighters should the events of Samhain ever occur again, Dess had been making midnight jewelry and ornaments and selling them to people. It had the added bonus of providing much-needed income, and by her reckoning, about half the town was now protected with her work. Over at her desk, several half-finished pieces lay waiting near a pile of finished works: thirteen-link bracelets with thirteen-pointed star charms, rings inscribed with foreign numerals up to thirteen, wind-chimes with thirteen chimes. She sat down to work, fussing with Ada Lovelace and picking up a disk of steel to solder a guitar string in a thirteen-turn spiral.
School passed in a haze of teachers and lectures, the sights and sounds blurring together to form a cloud of boredom surrounding Dess. Sometimes she wondered why she even bothered going to school. The answer, of course, was graduation. Colleges didn't like it when you didn't graduate, even when you were a math genius. And research labs liked it when you went to college. And without someone to fund her ground-breaking work, it would never happen. So despite the intense boredom, school was worth it in the end. Or so she told herself.
At last, the final bell rang, and there was a mad dash to the door. Dess took her time, preferring not to get caught in the crush of students escaping trigonometry for the day.
"Desdemona?" Sanchez stepped forward. "Would you mind staying for a moment?"
She looked up at him, then sat back down at her desk. "Sure."
"There's someone I'd like you to meet. He'll be here as soon as he can."
"Mm." Dess reached back to the shelf behind her, pulling out a textbook and flipping to the answers section, preparing to correct any wrong ones.
Five minutes later, as she was redrawing a graph formerly drawn by an idiot, the door to the temp opened. Heavy footsteps crossed the floor, and stopped in front of her desk.
"Ah, James, good of you to come by." Sanchez stood up.
A new voice spoke, a low rumble that made the back of Dess's neck tingle. "So you're Desdemona?"
She looked up, pushing dark hair out of her face. The first thing she saw was a belt buckle, metal and shiny and made in the shape of a thirteen-pointed star right at eye level. From there she looked down long legs clothed in black jeans to heavy black boots. Thumbtacks were stuck in the sides of the soles, thirty-nine per shoe exactly, Dess's mind told her. There were thirteen holes for the laces, through which wire was threaded. Surprised, she looked up. Over the black cotton of his t-shirt lay necklaces in beautiful patterns: An interlocking chain of thirty-nine thirteen-pointed stars fit between delicate chains of steel, and a mesmerizing gyroscope-like charm thirteen millimeters across hung from the lowest necklace. A tattoo hid just under his ear, a symbol Dess knew she recognized from the lore. Eyes narrowing, she looked at the boy's face. Pale skin, narrow chin, aquiline nose, eyes hidden by dark glasses, and a thin, sarcastic mouth that quirked at her perusal.
Dess frowned. Who was this guy? The mouth seemed to suggest a wealth of quips hiding behind his tongue, and there was something funny about the shades. She leaned a bit closer, squinting up at them. It looked like something was inscribed around the edges, something that resembled—Sumerian numerals? Base sixty, she was informed by her brain.
No. This was improbable. She glared at the stranger, wanting him to reveal his secrets.
"—just moved here from California. James is the only junior in my advanced calculus class, so I thought the two of you might get along well." Sanchez stepped back, appearing to have finished his introduction.
"Who are you?" Sanchez coughed a little at her impudence, but Dess didn't really care. She had to know who this was, and why he was wearing midnight protection.
That mouth drew up at the corners into a crooked smile. "James Black, at your service."
"How do you like Bixby so far?"
The smile grew. "Water tastes funny. Weird dreams."
Okay, now Dess was sure. She had found another midnighter. Rex would be delighted if he was another seer. "I have to get going," she told Sanchez, and headed for the door. "You coming?' she called over her shoulder to James.
She heard him excusing himself to Sanchez, and hurrying to catch up with her. "So…."
"So what?" Dess winced at the argumentative tone.
"I have a message for you. From Melissa."
She stopped abruptly. "You've seen Melissa?"
"Yup. And Jess, and that acrobat Jonathon too."
Oh. It was all making sense now.
James continued. "She said to tell you they're doing fine, that it looks like midnight is now occurring at all intervals of twelve, including the already existing ones." He started walking again, but Dess remained standing stock still.
"Already existing ones?"
"What, you thought you were the only ones? Well, I guess we did too, until your friends showed up."
"Where? When? I mean, how long? How many?"
He laughed, seeming to make sense of her convoluted questioning. "Thirty-sixth parallel, hundred-twentieth meridian-" Oh. That made sense. The digits added up, just like they did for Bixby. 3+6+1+2=12. Both numbers were absolutely stuffed with twelves. "-Centuries, even millenia, according to our lore, and eighteen of us, spanning three generations," he finished.
Dess was stunned. "That many? Really?"
James laughed again, sunlight glinting on the lenses of his glasses. "Really, that many. Your friends were surprised too; I take it you've only met five others?"
"Yeah, well, there were some issues with the last generation. What talents?"
"Let's see. Two seers, five acrobats, three elementals, a mech, and four mindcasters."
Dess felt something fall inside her, something she didn't even realize had risen. No polymaths. She shook her head and made a face, ignoring the disappointment. "Four mindcasters? How do you stand it? I haven't heard of elementals or mechs, though."
He grinned. "It's true, mindcasters can be a pain, but sometimes they're quite helpful. Anyway, elementals work with the elements. We have two metallurges, who can sense what's in the earth, and a windwatcher, who deals with weather. The Acrobats we have also have different types of talents: two of them can fly like Jonathan, two have hyper-increased speed, and the last one is extra strong."
Dess had a sense of wonder, like child at Christmas. Rex was really going to love this boy. "But what about the mech?"
James merely smiled at her. "I'll let my sister explain. I have to go pick her up from school. Coming?"
"Sure, but what does—"
He cut her off, turning toward the parking lot. "My sister's the mech."
She followed behind, still digesting all the news. Perhaps James was simply a daylighter who knew about the blue time, like Jess's little sister. Maybe his sister had made him all that protection. Dess sighed, finding that she didn't like the thought of him being just a daylighter, unable to share the secret hour with her. At least there was one new midnighter in town, even if it was just a little girl.