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Susanna shook her bodyguard-slash-houseguest awake. Maggie gasped and sat up. “Where’s my sword?” she asked with a raw voice. 

“It’s right here,” Sue said. She almost picked it up from the floor beside the couch but felt uncomfortable about touching the weapon.

Mags steadied her ragged breath. “What’s happening?”

“You were talking in your sleep, almost shouting. It woke me.”

“I’m sorry.”

Susanna brushed Mags’ hair back in a motherly gesture. “It’s fine, really. Are you ok?”

Maggie had dreamed of the cheerleader again, the one who reminded her of her old friend, Angst. Another lost friend. Except her cheers weren’t rousing, inspirational chants; they were dark, whispering rants. Cruel poetry, words that cut deeper than a demon’s claws. Maggie reached down to touch the katana; it couldn’t cut through ghosts but it made her feel stronger knowing it was there.

“If I say I’m fine will you tease me again about deflecting?”

Susanna smiled. “Let me brew some tea.”

As the woman she was supposed to be guarding for the Professor, and whatever bizarre scheme he was running now, moved into the kitchenette, Maggie shivered and pushed the last echoes of the nightmare from her mind.

“I hope you get attacked soon,” she said, “so this arrangement doesn’t feel so one-sided.”