Mal was sitting with Bella and Di, and another neighbour who it turned out loved the same music Mal did, Savannah. She was concentrating on the conversation the others were having. Definitely. She wasn't watching Aurora dancing with her little brother under the fairy lights. She wasn't wishing she was with them too.
"I mean, what would you even call your band?" Di laughed. "The Suburbanites?"
"That's not bad actually." Savannah laughed. "Been thinking about that long have you?"
"Well it doesn't matter. My city band would beat you every time."
"Doubt it. We've got Mal."
"Uh uh, she's still got a bit of city in her." Di laughed.
"Does the fact that there are no bands, or possibility of creating them, factor in to this argument at all?" Mal chuckled, yanking her eyes away from Aurora.
"Not at all." Bella laughed. "Besides, you have to admit we'd make a killer band."
"A... killer... band..." Mal laughed. "Di you're rubbing off on her."
"I don't think that's a bad thing." He replied, before gently kissing Bella's cheek. She blushed as Mal and Savannah both wolf whistled.
"Well good luck Bella. You've got your work cut out, domesticating that one." Mal chuckled.
"Oi shut up. If you can be domestic, anyone can." Di retorted, laughing.
"That's like saying cats are domesticated."
They all laughed and drank some more wine. Bella settled gently against Di. Mal didn't know if he'd asked her out, but it was obvious that it was pretty much official now.
"Are any of you going to get up and dance or are you too scared that Phillip's got more skills than you?" Aurora called across. Phillip was spinning round and round, giggling. He lost his balance, fell on his behind, and started laughing very loudly.
"Come on Bella. Let's show them what we've got."
"You're getting in to a dance battle with a five year old?" Mal snorted.
"Hey, the kid could beat me. I've not danced for so long because my party buddy decided to go suburban." He winked and led Bella over to the lights.
"I should go." Savannah sighed.
"Really?" Mal frowned. It wasn't too late; it couldn't be if Phillip was still here.
"Yeah, I have to train some new recruits tomorrow."
"Army." Savannah shrugged. "That's why we didn't meet at Thayer's. One of the reasons." She growled his name a little.
"Not a fan?"
"Smarmy bastard in my opinion. But hey, that might be because he was a little shocked that I wasn't interested in him. And that he didn't think a woman could do my job properly."
"Ugh, pig." Mal replied, glancing to where Stephan was holding court with some of the guys from the neighbourhood.
"Don't know how that sweet kid came from him to be honest. Must be Rory's doing."
"Has to be." Mal agreed.
"If you're not a fan, why'd you invite him?"
"Didn't think he'd let them come if he wasn't. Besides," She paused dramatically, putting on her angel face, "I'm being neighbourly."
Savannah laughed and stood up, Mal following suit.
"Very good job of it you're doing too. We should go in to the city sometime with Di and Bella. I reckon I'd have fun with you guys."
"I'd like that."
Savannah gave her a brief hug and grabbed her leather jacket before waving at Di, Bella, Phillip and Aurora, and leaving. Mal stood watching the dancing people for a while before she chuckled, and began to move food inside. Anything left over went in to the fridge, and Mal poured herself another glass of wine from the fridge.
"I'll have one," Aurora said, making Mal jump slightly, "if you're offering."
"I almost dropped mine. What're you doing sneaking up on people?"
"I thought the Mistress of All Evil would have better hearing." Aurora smirked, leaning on the kitchen island. Mal closed the fridge and rested her glass on the island.
"You know I shouldn't give you a drink."
"I could just get one myself?" Aurora grinned, and reached forward to take Mal's glass. Mal slid it away from her, chuckling.
"What is it with you and taking my drinks?"
"It winds you up." Aurora smiled.
"And that's the best form of entertainment for you is it?"
"One of them." Aurora laughed. "Give it to me."
"Please?" She pouted, eyes sparkling with laughter. "I won't tell anyone."
"Do you even like wine?"
"Yes. Wine, cider and beer. I quite like cocktails but I only really drink them when I'm with certain types of people."
"You... don't take this the wrong way but you like a lot of alcohol." Mal relented, sliding her glass over to Aurora.
"I don't drink much. But I don't see the point in doing it unless you enjoy it. I don't understand why people do shots of things that taste vile."
"You're not like most people your age." Mal laughed.
"I think that's a good thing." Aurora smiled, taking a sip of wine. "Who wants to be part of a crowd?"
Mal laughed and shook her head.
"Not me, definitely."
"I'd noticed." Aurora giggled.
"You've got a lot of cheek for a Princess." Mal smirked, taking the wine back. "Especially one who knows she's talking to a dragon."
"You already know I don't believe that." Aurora smiled.
"Clearly I've not been working you hard enough."
"Really?" Aurora chuckled. "Not only am I taking your class but I'm also one of your dissertation students and I'm your assistant."
"And yet, still with the cheekiness." Mal raised an eyebrow and smirked even more at Aurora. She was enjoying their stolen moment of teasing.
"Got to keep you on your toes. Especially because I'm the only person who knows how nice you actually are. Besides Di I mean."
"I don't understand how you've seen me at work and still think I'm nice." Mal chuckled, swirling the wine around her glass and taking a sip before passing it to Aurora again.
"Oh please. The outfit doesn't make the person. Although they're pretty good outfits." She took another sip of wine.
"Thank you. I shop at Evil Inc."
"Sure you do." Aurora rolled her eyes. "But I mean not many people could carry it off. I couldn't." Mal snorted and shook her head. "What?" Aurora cried indignantly.
"You could've pulled it off at your job."
Aurora's eyebrow lifted and she pursed her lips.
"That's it, the wine is mine now. As punishment for your cheek." She stood up properly, taking the wine with her. She was giggling, and walking backwards towards the door.
"I think you'll find I'm the only one with the power to hand out punishments here, young lady." Mal grinned, following Rory who was holding the glass high above her head; a pointless attempt at keeping it because Mal was taller than her. "Give me the glass."
"Aurora, give me the glass." Mal grinned, stalking slowly across the room.
"What're you going to do? Make me read more boring essays?"
Mal stopped. Crap okay. This girl was her student. Stop. This feels too familiar, too comfortable. Too flirty. She opened her mouth to say something, she didn't know what, but the door opened and Di appeared. Mal was glad she hadn't gotten any closer; right now they just looked normal, distance wise at least. Mal was sure her eyes were panicking, but Di seemed too happy and slightly drunk to notice.
"Hey there you are! Phillip beat me, thoroughly!" He grinned and Rory. "You should come and dance."
"Okay." Aurora said, smiling. She followed Di out, stopping to take a sip of wine aimed at Mal before she did, to rub it in. She didn't seem to have noticed Mal's pause.
Mal let out a breath and put her hands on her hips.