Frederica held her hand out over the portal and let the pendant slide off. It tumbled end over end and disappeared into the black vortex. Carmen waved her hand and the portal vanished.
“Is it done?” Marcus asked. “He’s not going to be, like, trapped in that pendant on the other side, is he?”
Carmen shook her head.
“Once he’s back in his own dimension, the binding charm won’t be able to hold him,” she said. “You know, if you hadn’t spoken up, he’d never have made it that far. I underestimated you. If you could apply a bit more of that creative problem solving in class, you might actually have potential.”
“Thanks,” Marcus said. “I think.”
“Anyway, this has been entertaining,” she said, “but I’ve got things to do, places to be. Toodles.”
She strolled to the exit without looking back. Marcus glanced at Frederica, who just shrugged.
“I feel so foolish,” Norman said, rising from his seat. “I thought I could take this all on by myself. But I was wrong. I should have trusted you, Cy. I shouldn’t have pushed you away.”
Cyrus smiled and squeezed his husband’s hand.
“You were trying to help someone in need,” he said. “That’s nothing to be ashamed of. It was… very brave. Though my blood pressure would appreciate it if you never do it again.”
“I’ll… see what I can do,” Norman said.
Cyrus laughed and the two men headed for the door. Cyrus smiled warmly at Frederica and Marcus on the way out, then he and Norman were gone. Frederica turned to Marcus.
“You hungry?” she asked. “I’m about to go meet my friends for lunch. You’re welcome to join.”
Marcus stared at the ceiling and ran his fingers through his curly hair.
“Maybe some other time,” he said. “But thanks.”
“Alright,” she replied. “See you in class?”
He smiled faintly, nodded, and walked out the door.
“Well, it’s a start,” she said, and followed.