Shortly after breakfast the next day, the doorbell rang. Svetlana bounded over to answer it.
“REYNOLD!” she exclaimed.
“Svetlana!” came the surprised response. “I didn’t realise it was you who had requested this potion. I got told this was for Kenner Charleston’s mission.”
“Well, it is, but I’m helping him out.”
Kenner walked through, grinning.
“Did I just hear the name Reynold?”
Svetlana stepped aside to let a familiar fair-haired, green-eyed black-winged Guardian walk in.
Reynold looked Kenner up and down admiringly.
“Is it my failing memory or have you gotten handsomer since high school?”
“Blimey, Kenner, everyone just falls in love with you, don’t they?” said Svetlana. “How many members are there in your fan club?”
“Oh, thousands,” Kenner replied. “I keep the love letters in a drawer in my bedside table at home.”
Reynold crossed his arms, raising an eyebrow.
“If I remember correctly, Kenner, you’d never let me write you a love letter. Or even a tiny sonnet for that matter.”
Kenner smiled slightly.
“Come, now, Reynold; isn’t it ... Cory Wisteria you’re into these days?”
“My, my,” Reynold said serenely. “Word does travel fast. Yes, ‘Teria and I share a lab. Actually, he’s head of the team so I have to do what he says.” Reynold grinned. “Isn’t that sexy?”
“Cory Wisteria?” repeated Svetlana, surprised. “Isn’t he that guy who was a really talented pianist? I always thought he’d go into a musical career.”
“He’s a big fan of stars,” Reynold replied. “He says they’re inspiring. I’d show him how to make them explode, if only he’d let me...”
Kenny coughed politely.
“Oh, don’t make that sort of joke around Kenner,” Svetlana told Reynold.
“Oh, Kenner, have you not coupled yet? With your looks? Really, my friend, you should try to find someone. It’s incredibly fun.”
“He has a love interest,” Svetlana said, grinning.
“Oh really?” Reynold asked, suddenly fascinated. “What’s his/ her name?”
“She’s human,” Kenny said flatly. “So I can’t have her.”
Reynold strolled further in and sat on the sofa, producing a purple glass bottle from a pocket in his sky blue lab coat and placing it on the coffee table. Svetlana went over to join him and Kenner walked across the room to sit in the armchair.
“Well, actually, Kenner, that may change. A little bird told me the Council may be authorising an experiment into how to date a human unChaotically. Cory, being a big romantic, hopes it’s our lab that gets it.”
Kenny stared at Reynold, so shocked that he couldn’t even tell if he was happy or not.
“Keep staring at me like that, Kenner. It is such a thrill.”
Kenny looked away, extremely embarrassed.
“Sorry,” he mumbled. “But ... are you serious?” He looked at Reynold again, his expression under control this time.
“Well, strictly speaking, it’s a rumour, nothing more. But ... I think it’s safe to say it’s a trustworthy one. The team are all working really hard because we think Cory deserves to get this experiment. If he does, I’ll get to see his eyes light up with passion. Now that’s a sight and a half.”
“Best of luck to you,” Svetlana said, smiling. “Both with Cory and the experiment.”
“Thank you, Lana.”
“Wait... the mission will be called off if you succeed in finding a way for humans and Guardians to be together, won’t it?” asked Kenny.
“Indeed it will. But you need to carry on till then because none of this is official and I’ll get in trouble if I make a Guardian believe he can stop trying to avert Chaos.”
“That seems a bit unfair,” Kenny admitted.
“Kenny, we don’t even know this experiment will yield positive results. Better to be safe than sorry. And I saw a certain certificate when I was helping Frey with his filing: that Joel’s a jerk for what he did to you.”
“I did provoke him,” Kenny murmured.
“Kenny, don’t even think about trying to justify what happened to you. It’s criminal and Frey thinks so too. Myself, I almost hope there’s no way for a human and Guardian to be together without causing Chaos so that Joel never gets to see his girlfriend again.”
Kenny winced at the results that that would produce for him and Jennifer’s prospects.
Svetlana noticed, winced slightly herself, and changed the subject.
“Reynold, would you like a drink? Let’s talk about this potion you’ve concocted.”
“Hmm, could I possibly have a tea? Milk and two teaspoons of sugar.”
“I’ll get that,” Kenny offered. “Svetlana’s going to be the one administering it.”
“Ah yes, it’s a good idea for you to leave the room, Kenny. Your face does rather distract me: I might accidentally give Svetlana instructions that would poison Joel... although I might do that anyway.” He grinned wickedly.
Kenny rolled his eyes.
“Yes, and a wonder that would do for Order, Reynold.”
“You’d make up for it with your subsequent missions.”
Kenny went to the kitchen, grinning. While making Reynold’s tea, he overheard the instructions for the use of the potion:
“10ml - so two teaspoons - should be enough to make him angry and unsociable for five days. Now, the moment he goes home, his family will probably notice the change in his character, plus perhaps a certain haze around his wings, but since it should take them a while to find a scientist to reverse this change - I’m proud to say it’s feather-proof - it should have the desired effect, i.e. it should upset his girlfriend enough that she doesn’t want to be his girlfriend anymore. You say it’s an unstable time in their relationship, which is incredibly helpful.”
“Brilliant,” said Svetlana enthusiastically. “Anything else I should know? I was going to mix it with tea. Will that be all right?”
“Oo, I don’t know what the caffeine will do. We should test that.”
“But that’ll make one of us angry and unsociable...,” said Svetlana hesitantly.
“Fear not, Svetlana. I have the antidote on my person.” His voice dropped slightly. “Can we give it to Kenner? I’ve never conducted an experiment on Kenner before.”
“I heard that,” called Kenny as Svetlana stifled laughter.
“Your result will be more representative because you and Joel are both guys,” Reynold called back.
“Better,” Kenny called, grinning.
The kettle having boiled, Kenny made the tea and brought out a tray with two mugs and the sugar bowl on it, one which contained Reynold’s tea. He put this down on the coffee table
“How d’you make Joel’s tea, Lana?” Kenny asked.
Svetlana looked startled.
“Kenner, are you sure?”
Kenny smiled slightly.
“You forget that this is actually supposed to be my mission.”
“Oh, I love it when you’re possessive like that,” said Reynold.
Kenny ignored him.
“Oh, um, Joel likes it with milk but not with any sugar,” replied Svetlana.
Kenny carefully poured a bit of Reynold’s tea into the other mug.
“Mind if I add the potion?” Reynold asked Svetlana.
“Oh no, go for it.”
Reynold produced a plastic pipette, seemingly out of nowhere, and opened the potion bottle. He filled the pipette quite accurately to the 1ml mark. He dropped this into Kenny’s tea and watched him intently.
Kenny picked up the tea and blew upon it before sipping.
“It still tastes like tea,” he remarked, putting the mug down. “That’s good for preventing Joel from suspecting anything.”
“Actually, you only can’t taste it if your sense of taste is awful.”
Kenny frowned, feeling insulted.
“What d’you mean?”
Reynold leant back, folding his arms.
“Well, Kenner, I’m not surprised. You’re not perspicacious in any other area either.”
“What the...? What’s wrong with you, Reynold?!” He stood up furiously. “You know what, you can just leave! Go on - get out.” He pointed at the door. He felt black hatred for Reynold: how could he have ever felt like they were friends? “I don’t know why Svetlana let you in: all we needed from you is the potion.”
Reynold smiled slightly, leant forwards and tipped a green glass bottle into the tea.
“Drink your tea, Kenner.”
Kenner blinked, startled.
“Wow, that was powerful...” He sat down, sipping the tea and instantly starting to feel calmer.
“From that, I think caffeine must accentuate the potion’s effect,” Reynold told him and Svetlana. “Which is only helpful for you.”
“But he won’t start getting violent with the animals, will he?” Svetlana asked, concerned.
“No, he shouldn’t do. The potion is just meant to affect your attitude towards people. He might even start talking to the animals about how annoying people are, which, if his girlfriend overhears, will help you further.”
“Well, I think you can congratulate yourself on a potion well made,” said Svetlana, smiling.
Reynold added sugar to his tea and stirred it before sipping from it. He put the mug down and asked “Can my reward be a hug from Kenner?”
“Just a hug?” asked Kenny warily.
“Well, I might be tempted to do more than that...”
“Then I’d prefer you talked to Cory about your feelings for him,” said Kenny.
“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised,” Reynold sighed. “Oh well, at least I got to see your gorgeous face again. Keep doing whatever it is you’re doing, Kenner. I should’ve brought my camera.”
Kenny rolled his eyes while Svetlana grinned.
Reynold ended up staying for lunch. Kenny didn’t mind: the scientist was good company when he wasn’t making Kenny feel awkward by flirting with him. When he left, he even felt a bit sad, like it would’ve been nice for him to stay even longer. But a mission was a mission and Kenny knew he had to see it through to the end.
‘Let this potion work,’ he thought as he wrote about today’s events in his mission report. ‘So I don’t have to resort to the Heartbreak Arrow.’