The next several days passed rather uneventfully. Everytime I saw Mora I would ask her if she'd made any progress, and she would say no, until we got to the point where she would say no before I'd even asked her. My Dad kept bugging me to take the driver's test, not realizing that I had.. other lessons on my mind. Christmas break was fast approaching, and everyone thought it was about time, seeing as it had started snowing in October. I was looking forward to finally being able to talk over everything with Catherine when she came home for the holidays. On Thursday, I had a good lesson with Teresa - she and Kevin both worked to teach me the basics of Wyr'kaka, a Draconic Martial Arts form that makes use of claws, jaws, and tails instead of fists and feet. Kevin wore a ridiculous looking pad on his stinger to keep him from accidentally killing us as we sparred, and he made one for me as well.
At the end of the lesson, as we were all getting dressed, Teresa invited me to the MLF Christmas party.
"Secret Organizations have Christmas parties?" I asked incredulously.
"No," she answered, "But the NPO's that front for them throw really nice ones. And the guest list tends to be rather selective - people we can trust. It'll be a good chance for you to meet some of the guys,"
"What about my parents?" I asked.
"Catherine comes home in a couple weeks, doesn't she?" asked Teresa.
"Yeah," I said, "Why?"
"Well, we invited her too," answered Teresa. "You two can just tell your parents you're going out for some brother-sister bonding event. It's the day before Christmas Eve. It's always a lot of fun,"
"It's downright stupid, that's what it is," said Kevin. In human form, he was a small, unassuming Jewish-looking man with a goatee. "If anyone from the government got ahold of the guest list for that party, it could compromise your whole organization. And if anyone was captured -"
"Don't start that again," said Teresa. "It's a risk, but I think it's a worthwhile one. We could all use an excuse to be cheerful for a couple of days, and Christmas is as good a time as any,"
"That sounds good," I said. I wasn't really sure it did, but somehow I didn't think Teresa would take know for an answer. Besides, it might be good to meet other Draconics.
Other Draconics, I thought. When did I start taking for granted that I was one? It seemed odd to me that so recently the idea had seemed impossible.
I decided that I should be able to drive before I learned how to fly, so I called the BMV and scheduled my driving test for the next day. I decided I should really go driving with my dad to make sure I was ready.
He was delighted when I asked. We weren't spending very much time together, and I guess he felt a cut off from me lately. My dad was a very good driving instructor -patient, unobtrusive, but he knew when to jump in (i.e. if I was driving in the wrong lane or making an illegal right turn on red). After I'd driven around for a bit, he suggested we stop for a warm drink. We found little cafe and went inside. I ordered a hot cider, he had a coffee.
"Son," he said, as we waited for our drinks to arrive, "Is there anything you'd like to talk to me about?"
"No..." I said, trying to look as bewildered as I could.
"I was your age once myself, you know,"continued my father, "Whatever it is you're going through, I've probably been through it myself,"
Oh no you haven't, I was thinking, Not this.
What I said was, "I'm sure you have, dad, but really, I'm fine,"
"Alright," he said, obviously unconvinced, "And are you doing any better in PreCal?"
For a moment this failed to register with me. I was good at PreCal, at least decenty enough. Then I remembered my lie.
"I think the tutoring is helping," I said, "I'd like to keep it going at least until mid-terms,"
"It's good that your not afraid to ask for help, son," he said, "I don't know if I couldv'e said the same when I was your age,"
The conversation dragged on uncomfortably for a while, but my father didn't manage to drag the truth out of me. I think he felt almost as bad about interrogating me as I did about lying to him. I hoped eventually I'd be allowed to tell him the truth. I wasn't sure how much longer I could conceal it.