The next day Juliet is absent from school. And the day after that, and the one after that too.
Anders seems exhausted beyond words, and it still slumped in Seo's side.
Seo holds Anders closer. "Good plan. Is Nat close by?"
"The fact you have to ask someone else is troubling. I'll text her."
Harriet points at Anders.
I can fix that.
"...no. Ask him first. Don't merge alternate universes version of us without permission."
Anselm, can I please change you with your alternate self who isn't droopy?
Anders pales even further, and lifts his head to stare at Harriet, horrified. "What did you call me?"
There's a version of you that can actually handle being called his birth name. I was hoping to swap you with him.
"What the fuck-"
He looks up at Seo in a panic.
She can't hear my side, dumbass, I'm not projecting. Can I swap you with him so that they can interact with an "Anders" who has his shit together?
"I- I'm going home. I can't-"
Anders hugs Seo tightly, fingers digging into her, and then kisses her forehead. "I can't be around her."
He reaches over to hug and kiss Lorie good bye too.
"Wait. No. Harriet, whatever you just said to him. You can't do that. You need to leave. Thank you for everything you've done today, I will think more about what you want from me. But you can't do things like this to my friends. I'll show you the door."
"She doesn't know any better. She's Soulless."
Anders loops his bag over his head. "I've got to get back anyway. After last night, Irving's on a rampage."
Harriet seems more bored by the events than anything.
"She's not an idiot. I'll drive you." She kisses Lorie, untangles herself and picks up her keys. "You gonna stay here?" she asks Lorie.
Harriet blows a raspberry.
"I'll call mum to come get me. I should get started on finding us a time-traveler anyway."
She grips Anders' hand once, then lets go.
"Seo, please, I just-"
His hand tightens on his bag strap, and then he slumps. "Fine."
"Eventually everyone bends to my will, but you just keep being surprised." She ushers Anders out the door and to the car.
"Can't be bothered fighting," Anders says, tiredly.
He clambers into her passenger seat.
"Exhaustion. My one true ally."
She hops into the car and - pauses. There's something on her steering wheel.
It's a note, in Nat's unmistakable handwriting.
You're a bitch. Also, if you need someone experienced with 'timey-wimey' bullshit, ask around for Kasper.
I miss you. Fuck you.
Seo sighs and thumps her head back against her seat. "You heard of someone called Kasper?"
"If they're not in our group, you can assume with safety I haven't."
She figured but doesn't hurt to ask. She quickly takes out her phone, snaps a shot of the note and sends it to Lorie.
"Can we eat before I take you home?"