The following eighteen months were simultaneously uneventful and stressful.
The day after their heart-to-heart, Noah added Scarlett to the chore list as a floater. The newcomer helped most often with farm and cleaning duty, though she didn’t mind laundry duty. Joining the court on these tasks not only proved to the angels that she could contribute well with minimal supervision, but get along with her peers.
As regular floaters, Wellington and Chloe worked with her the most, so the two younger teenagers took to her almost instantly. Julian was usually paired with her for early morning livestock care, and Scarlett experienced a bond with the child that she had not expected. She taught him how to perform the required tasks more efficiently, and by the end of their second chore day, Julian had invited her to sit in on his next guitar lesson with Eric. While she wanted more than anything to decline–she did not like Eric–she couldn’t say no to the young boy’s pleading gaze and caved under the pressure. They barely made it ten minutes into one session before Julian had thrust his guitar into Scarlett’s lap and requested that she show him what she knew, if anything at all. Satisfaction bubbled up inside her as she strummed delicately, playing part of the song her father had taught her and leaving Julian to pick his jaw up from the plush carpet.
Eric, on the other hand, was not caught off guard. He simply smirked and continued the lesson, a knowing gleam in his hazel green eyes.
Cleaning duty gave Scarlett a chance to work with everyone in the court one on one. Alice liked to stick earbuds in and blast music, working without pause until all her work was completed. Wellington, who was normally quiet, liked to chat here and there as a way to pass the time. Chloe was similar to the porter, if only a little more talkative and always light-hearted. Aria handed out compliments by the dozen, praising her chore partners with a sincerity that baffled the newcomer. Eric was almost the complete opposite of his sister; his kindness was disingenuous, and after his attempts at conversation led down inappropriate paths that Scarlett simply refused to acknowledge, he eventually made passive-aggressive remarks and gave her the cold shoulder.
Noah made sure to keep the two separate after that; speaking of, the Callahan brothers were her favorite angels to work with. They were quick, focused, and managed to draw her in with gossip and intriguing debates on trivial matters. She told herself that she was only indulging their outgoing personalities, but she found herself legitimately enjoying the days when one or both brothers were around.
Aside from Eric, the only other member of the court that Scarlett couldn’t seem to get along with was Ginnifer. It wasn’t that she disliked the psychic, and she posited that the mindreader bore no ill will toward her. At the end of the day, they were simply two quiet people: Scarlett was never one to speak needlessly, while Gin was far too shy to utter more than the occasional apology whenever the older teen passed. They were introverts on opposite sides of the personality spectrum–Scarlet was assertive and Gin was passive, meaning the former usually took charge while the latter went along with whatever everyone else did, whether she wanted to or not. The days where these two girls were paired for cleaning duty were filled with an awkward silence that Scarlett came to accept; at the end of the day, Gin was afraid of her own shadow. She found comfort in the things she knew well, and Scarlett, to her, was an anomaly.
Where the psychic truly seemed to shine, however, was in two unexpected places: the first was laundry duty, where her knowledge of each individual member’s laundry preferences came in handy. She overcame her bashful nature just in time to stop Scarlett from using the wrong soap on Aria’s unmentionables, and Gin even managed to give the newcomer directions once or twice. Scarlett found herself admitting that Ginnifer was far from the pathetic, pitiful, whimpering coward she had previously believed and was actually a valued and productive member of the court.
Then she caught the way Gin’s face blanched following her silent revelation, and Scarlett realized that the psychic had overheard her every thought that day. She tried to keep her mind blocked off, and the two did not speak much for the rest of that week.
The other arena where the reserved psychic seemed to shine was, unexpectedly, during the court’s seasonal meets with the Poseideans. These meetings were exclusive to spirits holding positions in leadership–and, thanks to Scarlett’s promotion a mere six months after her recruitment, she was granted a firsthand account of Ginnifer’s uncharacteristic behavior during such events.
Wednesday, 25/ 5 / 2135
It all began in May of the previous year when Scarlett was spending most of her free time with Noah. Whenever she came back from scouting or supply runs, she visited the healer, giving him first dibs on whatever she found. When they weren’t slated for chores, the two teenagers were hanging out together in one of their bedrooms, swapping childhood stories and sharing interests. There were times when a handful of other members–Alice, Aria, Gin, or Isaac, to be specific–came to call upon the healer to share gossip, ask for advice, or simply spend quality time with him, giving Scarlett a chance to see how they all interacted with one another when an extra person was thrown in the mix. Alice was surprised at first, though pleased that Scarlett had made a friend. She, Aria, and Isaac were their usual friendly selves with her around, and they wasted no time in trying to engage the newcomer in conversation.
Gin, on the other hand, was predictably flustered to find Scarlett lounging on Noah’s bed and reading a magazine; she sat stiffly at the edge of the bed for a total of five minutes before she jumped onto her feet.
“I–uh–I h-have to–there’s this thing I–” she had tripped over her excuses, her voice a squeaky whisper as she desperately tried to convey to Noah that she wanted to leave.
Scarlett sighed and sat up. Great job, Scar. You managed to make someone who isn’t horrible hate you. “Gin?”
The psychic spun around on the spot, her hands gripping the bottom of her hoodie. “Y-Y-Yes?”
The newcomer looked the meek girl directly in her nervous eyes. “I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable. I suck at interacting with other people, but I’m working on it. If you really want to leave, then that’s fine, but don’t go because you think I don’t want you here. Got it?”
Ginnifer blinked once, then twice, her teal eyes growing wide. A soft gasp passed through her parted lips. “A-Are you a tsundere?”
Scarlett frowned. “A what now?”
Noah, who had been rearranging his books to allow space for the two volumes on anatomy and disease that Scarlett had brought him that morning, let out a hefty guffaw and turned to face the girls.
“You’re kinda right, but I think she’s more of a kuutsundere.”
Gin gasped again. “Ohmigosh, you’re so right–!”
“What in the actual fuck are you guys talking about?” Scarlett demanded.
Gin squeaked and fidgeted with the strings of her hoodie. “W-W-Well, um, there’s this, uh, trope in ani–uh, um, have you ever, uh, watched anime–?”
“Take a breath, dandere,” Noah teased her, prompting the psychic to pull her hoodie over her head and pull the drawstrings until her red face was hidden. “So you remember how I borrowed manga from Aria the other day, and you read some of it?” When the newcomer nodded, he added, “Well, the animated equivalent to Japanese comic books is anime, and if you consume enough manga and anime you’ll learn to pick up on different tropes and character designs. One popular trope is a tsundere, or a character who’s temperamental but has a secret soft side that they only show to a select few–particularly their love interest.”
Scarlett cocked an eyebrow. “ ‘Temperamental’?”
“Yeah, that’s why I was saying you’re more of a kuutsundere, which is a subgroup of tsundere who ain’t all hot and cold. You’re mostly calm and collected, but you’re sarcastic and blunt to the point of rudeness.”
She resumed her previous lounging position and returned her attention to the magazine in her hands, her cheeks burning as she muttered, “Yeah, okay. Whatever.”
“U-Um–” she peered up to see that Gin had loosened her scrunched-up hoodie until just her strawberry-tinted face was visible. “I-If you want, I c-can lend you s-s-some manga. Anime, t-too.”
It was Scarlett’s turn to blink. Did she just take the initiative? “Ah… Yeah, that’s cool. At least then, I’ll know what the hell you guys are talking about.”
The three court members hung out at least a few times a week at the guest house. Scarlett bonded with Gin over music, manga, and fashion choices. The psychic never really got over her sheepish nature, but she eventually managed to complete full sentences. Sort of.