Hi! I really missed the MBS, so I decided to write another story about these fabulous characters. For the record, this is set four years in the future; Reynie is seventeen. ...Weird, huh? But hey, with any luck, this will seem appropriately IC. Carpe diem, people!

Stonetown was singing that day; the throngs of pedestrians gabbled merrily, the seagulls wheeled overhead, and not one person in the whole of the city could be caught frowning.

It was a beautiful day.

Likewise, perched on the sunny window ledge of Mr. Benedict's exceedingly ancient house, Reynie Muldoon was smiling for absolutely no reason at all. Well, no, he did have one reason—summer. After a wearisome year crammed with tedious college exams (Reynie had finished college at the fresh age of seventeen) he was truly looking forward to three months of reposing. He dangled his feet into thin air as a small child would have done, relishing the limitless sensation of his future. There had been setbacks, of course—failing an exam on molecular biology despite Sticky's extensive coaching, and nearly quitting school due to stress. But Reynie was not a quitter, so he persevered. Now, he felt a need to sort out his thoughts and give his summer a fresh start.

Reynie had recently concluded a harrowing growth spurt, putting him five inches taller than Miss Perumal. This annoyed Sticky and amused Kate, both of whom were shorter. Constance, of course, had always been petite, and therefore considered it her duty to compose teasing poetry. Reynie was unperturbed by this, and often returned the "compliment."

He and Sticky had sailed through college, and were considering their current options. Reynie wanted to work with Mr. Benedict, as did Sticky, though Sticky was sorely tempted by the glories of the academic world. He often dreamed of becoming a renowned professor. Kate, on the other hand, was more the physical type. Reynie grinned, imagining Kate slogging through schoolwork at some university. Not likely, to say the least. Then there was Constance, the ever-talented poet. She certainly had a knack for sarcastic humor. Her psychic abilities had greatly improved, though she didn't advertise this fact. The entire house was cheery and companionable; its inhabitants had become a supportive family through passage of time and circumstance.

Reynie ruffled his brown hair, stretched, and frowned, thinking he had just heard footsteps in the courtyard below. Indeed, Kate appeared, her long mane of blond hair hiding her face from view. Reynie almost called out to her, then thought better of it, choosing to observe her instead. She plopped down in the center of the courtyard, turned her face up to the sun, and was still. This, thought Reynie, was odd behavior for Kate. A moment after that, Sticky came strolling along, his spectacles reflecting the brilliant sunlight. He joined Kate, and they began talking animatedly—though too far away for Reynie to hear. He eventually realized that his contented smile had vanished, replaced by pensive expression and furrowed brow. He was irritated with himself; irritated with the inexplicable stir of envy that arose when he watched Kate and Sticky's forms.

Averting his gaze, he peered at his watch, casting about for a distraction. From within the house, a peal of laughter shattered the stillness, followed by more laughter. Feeling somehow isolated by this, Reynie eased back through his window and into the gloom beyond. The first floor corridor was devoid of people, though one could hear Number Two clacking away on her computer at the end of the hall. Heading for the stairs, Reynie took them two at a time, looking around to make certain that Constance wasn't lurking nearby. She wasn't. He strode into the sitting room, relieved to have found company. On the sofa sat Miss Perumal with Mrs. Perumal beside her, knitting away. Rhonda was sorting through a monstrous pile of books, Mr. Washington coughing from the dust. And sitting on the floor—it was an old habit of his, though he no longer suffered from narcolepsy—was Mr. Benedict. Reynie absorbed this pleasing scene in a few seconds, smiling at everyone and going to sit by Miss Perumal.

"What have you been up to?" asked Miss Perumal, looking moderately concerned.

"I was on the window ledge," Reynie informed her. "Amma, it was quite safe," he added in response to her widening eyes. "I was only sitting and thinking about—everything."

Miss Perumal patted his cheek. "I don't doubt that."

Her mother, Mrs. Perumal, interrupted. "Isn't anyone going to congratulate my accomplishment?" She brandished her finished product, a sort of lump of blue yarn.

"It's lovely, Mrs. Perumal," said Rhonda. Her voice was somewhat muffled, due to the stack of books from behind which she sat.

"Yes, well, I've been knitting like a fiend," said Mrs. Perumal.

Reynie smiled to himself, and wished Kate had been there to witness this moment. Remembering that she was chatting with Sticky in the courtyard, he fidgeted restlessly.

"Reynie," said Mr. Benedict, "you haven't seen Constance, have you? I can't recall seeing her any time after lunch."

"Well," said Reynie, "she might be in her room. I can check, if you like." He glanced questioningly at Mr. Benedict.

"Thank you, Reynie, but I should really go look for her." He grinned ruefully. "I'm astonishingly lazy; this is good for me."

"Don't say that," admonished Miss Perumal. "As if we're any better."

"What's that about an Irish Setter?" Mrs. Perumal leaned toward the others in order that she should hear more clearly.

Reynie squeezed his grandmother's hand. "I don't think you heard right," he informed her. "Amma said—well, never mind. Besides, your version of the story was more thought-provoking anyhow."

Mrs. Perumal looked mollified.

Feeling lonely for his friends, Reynie rose from his seat on the sofa, and went off in search of the others. He nearly collided with Number Two, who was hungrily devouring a pear. "Excuse me," she apologized. "I'm off to speak with Mr. Benedict. He's still in the sitting room?"

"Yes," Reynie chuckled. "Reading."

Number Two thanked him and hurried off.

Reynie arrived in the courtyard a minute later and spotted Kate and Sticky right away. He hastened over.

"Hey, you two!"

They turned around, smiling expectantly. "Reynie, where have you been all this time?" Kate tweaked his ear. "Reading?"

"Not this time, no," he admitted. "I suppose I just needed some time to think…and reflect."

"By the way you're speaking, you make it sound as if we're all living in a giant puddle."

Sticky chuckled.

"Sometimes I think I was born with my eyes facing the wrong way. I'm always in my head."

"It's not just your eyes that are facing the wrong way!" Constance had arrived on the scene, smirking impishly at Reynie. "I believe your ears are facing the wrong way t—"

"Put a sock in it," Kate advised her.

Reynie pursed his lips, trying not to laugh at this exchange. "Hello to you too," he grinned.

Constance rolled her eyes. "You are revoltingly polite, Reynie Muldoon."

"And you are revoltingly—revolting!" Sticky burst.

"Oh, Sticky." Kate shook her head. "Four years of college and that's all you've got to say?"

Sticky blushed and glanced sheepishly at Reynie. "Sorry about that."

"Sticky, you're a genius! Your brain is too busy formulating brilliant ideas to waste time coming up with retaliations."

"Thank you," said Sticky. He had reclaimed his dignity, thanks to one exceedingly polite friend.

Until next time...

-Spark Writer-

Your thoughts are always welcome!