After the boys were safely on their way to their summer up north, Brother Lapis went back to the Institute and busied himself putting away the last of the detritus of the school year. The grounds were deserted by the time of afternoon tea, which he decided set out for the remaining two revelers. Sister Loxley was already in the great room when he brought the tray in. “How do you feel? I don’t recommend fasting,” he said to Loxley, who was sitting a little too still. Loxley carefully picked up a cup and sipped.
“I could have cared for myself, you know,” she smiled weakly.
“What did you experience?”
Loxley hesitated and sighed. “A flock of volatile mustaches.”
“Hmm, sounds like a potent hallucinogenic. Any religious imagery?”
Lox thought about that, but just then Brother Scorpio had found his way to the great room, walking much more carefully than his usual jovial manner.
“Well, well, well,” Lapis started. “I see you put in your application to become a Father.”
“Oh? Did you have a chance to look at it?
“Just the end of it.” Lapis smirked and waited to see how awake Brother Scorpio was. Not very, it seemed, so he went on. “Oh, did you submit a written application too?”
“Me?” Loxley looked at Lapis.
“You? It looked like you were helping him with his application, Lox.”
“I helped him organize the paperwork and follow the procedures. Yes.”
“I would have thought sixteen signatures from respected Fathers would be help enough for me,” said Brother Scorpio.
Lapis brought his hand up to his mouth in a well practiced thoughtful gesture. “I suppose he was filing it then?”
“The Sister’s help has been much appreciated,” stated Scorpio firmly.
Lapis leaned back in his chair was watched the pair. “Riiiiiight,” he said at last.
“Lapis, what is going on?” Loxley stared across the table at Brother Lapis, while Scorpio struggled to catch up.
“How much of last night do you remember?”
“Terrible dreams of mustaches,” started Brother Scorpio. “Though a mighty hammer beat them away at some point, I believe.”
Loxley was more contemplative. “Gangplank. Crazy Scorp. Walk. Mustaches, Piggyback ride. Void.”
Lapis became serious for a change. “You and the boys were all sick last night. You all ate that pie at the Gangplank. Riddler came in covered in vomit, and Claudius was in a complete daze. I let them think that I didn’t see it.”
“I thought it tasted strange, but then I had never tasted cinderberries,” said Scorpio.
“I think you ingested a hallucinogenic. It can be unpleasant even if you expect it. Mr. Lighthouse has never met a medicinal he would not experiment with, from my knowledge of him. He’d have a field day with what we keep here.”
Scorpio looked confused now. “The mustaches were following us. Then chasing us. And they chased me in my dreams too, I believe. It is rather foggy at this point.”
Lapis cut to the chase. “Do you remember sleeping together?”
“What?!” Scorpio erupted.
“Heavens no!” exclaimed Loxley.
Lapis studied their faces and decided they really did not. “Nothing? There is no one else here. I checked. We won’t be overheard.”
“I had thought I had slept on the floor… At least, that is where I woke up,” said Scorpio.
“Let’s just hope you passed out together then.” Lapis’ composure broke into a wry grin. “Or you’re going to be a Father sooner than you think, Scorp.”
Loxley narrowed her eyes. “We were found in no such position. Right?”
“Sorry Lox, he wasn’t on the floor when I found him.”
Scorpio’s eyes widened. “No! No… no….”
Lapis leaned back in his chair and sipped his coffee in a comfortable manner while his comrades struggled to sort themselves out. The timing was perfect, as both Rudyard and Scorpio were competing for Father Pizzaro’s soon to be vacant position. Lapis had chosen to support Rudyard, for reasons of his own, rather than compete for the position himself. “This is going to look very bad on your application, Scorp.”
“What would it matter,” said Loxley. “If we were hallucinating? Not under our own volition.”
“I don’t think Nature cares about that,” said Lapis.
Scorpio swallowed his tea in one glup and reached for more. “There are no rules against coupling that I am aware of after the age of consent.“
“With your own Sister?”
“But it is a logical extension of our positions to assume it is forbidden,” said Loxley.
”You’ve jeopardized her placement here, Scorp. Possibly her entire career.” Lapis rubbed his fingers together and smiled. Loxley narrowed her eyes at him. “What do you want, Dom?”
Scorpio eyed Lapis dangerously. “Laying together after an experience such as that is not against the rules. And I will not be blackmailed. And as for what anyone heard, again, we were under the influence of a psychoactive medicine. Any noises could have been anything. I highly recommend you keep any theories to yourself.”
“You know,” started Lapis. “I have come to reconsider my position towards Moreaus. Especially the Lapines. Take Brother Falodir for example. His hearing must be quite acute with those big ears of his.” Lapis smiled. “I find that a useful skill. Don’t you?”
“Again,” insisted Scorpio, “it could have been anything.”
“Oh, I don’t think so. He has become quite the mnemonist.”
Loxley set her jaw. “Name it.”
“Key to the medicinal locker.”
“Never!” swore Loxley.
Lapis smiled, knowing Sister Loxley would never give up the key to her cabinet. But this next request, what he truly wanted, would seem more feasible, “Very well then. I want to know the dosing. The entire school. And access to your inventory records.”
“Why are you so keen on knowing the dosing?”
“Because I want to know.”
“Fine. Consider it done.”
Scorpio folded his arms. “Well, I for one refuse to be blackmailed. If you believe you have a strong case, then bring it. If you really want to know information reserved for the Fathers, why not put your name back into the running?”
Lapis listened to Scorpio’s arguments again, but found he was in too good of a mood to try and justify his political strategies to someone who had had a more traditional career than his own.
“No reason to make this messy,” said Sister Loxley.
“No. No reason. I have what I want. Enjoy yourselves.”
And with that he got up to enjoy the quiet of a school on summer vacation.