“Does everything run on paperwork?” Aladdin grumbled, finished poking at the door lever. “It sounds worse than the Kou Empire!”
And you aren’t nearly as innocent as you look, Tiburon realized, catching that flicker of worry in blue eyes. You’re stalling. Letting Alan have another moment to breathe before he has to try and put on “I can handle it” again.
“And now you know why empires are evil. They invented bureaucracy.” Simon waved a hand through air that still shimmered a little with heat, casual in a way that made Tiburon relax despite himself. “No repair bill, this time, but you’re going to knock our air conditioning through the roof.”
“We are not building a Danger Room,” Ja’far said, with the air of one who’d had to say this many, many times before. “You have a dungeon. We’ll use that… what?”
Tiburon shook his head, kicking himself for letting his observation skills slip. “When did you go out enough in the sun to get freckles….” Wait. What the-? “Are you okay? Your hair-!” Because after all, Chernobyl. Who knew how ancient magoi might react with latent radiation exposure?
Ja’far started, hand rising to those flecks of white roots before he sighed, and pinned Simon with a sharp look. “I blame you.”
“Me?” For once, Simon looked surprised, if still amused. “It’s your magic.”
“I’m not blaming you for the white hair,” Ja’far said, very precise; gray eyes just slightly narrowed and dangerous. “I am blaming you for the fangirls. Who are going to be gossiping all over school that the stress of managing you turned me prematurely gray, I was vain enough to hide it long enough to go white, and now that you’ve got a dungeon with actual dragons in it, I’ve just given up. They’ll be at it for months. Years, even- Simon?” He raised a still mostly-dark brow, as his friend and principal couldn’t hold back the snickers anymore. “Oh, go ahead and laugh. Just realize any film you accidentally take of me is going to have to be continuity checked and edited in post-production later, for as long as it takes to grow out.”
“My god, the man listened when I talked about post.” Simon clapped his hands together gleefully. “Pictures? Please? After all, this would be an interesting touch to add to a lot of genre films, and one of the seniors had an idea for a short werewolf-hunter sketch that might find makeup in that vein very apropos.”
“Either I’m dreaming, or I shouldn’t have let Simon anywhere near my water bottle,” Tiburon muttered. “Your hair’s turning white and you’re worried about how the kids will take it?” Simon, you great flamboyant goof. You’re living proof that having people’s eyes on you can be a good thing. If I can get Alan to calm down and watch how you do it… how can I get you and Alan hanging out in the same place?