Kate lands somewhere to his left, just one more shadow in the darkness, and Reynie takes one step towards her, opening his mouth to speak.
"Just be quiet,” she hisses, and he rolls his eyes.
"Don't be paranoid," he whispers. "There's a spring two meters to my right that will obscure any small noises we make." Kate pauses, listening for it, and then relaxes fractionally. Reynie knows he's right - the water is fairly loud and he knows how to speak quietly. Sticky slides down the rope next, landing so lightly they almost don't notice him, and Constance follows him. They gather in a circle and Kate motions, decisive hand gestures that split them up and send them down corridors.
"That really didn't work as well as I'd hoped," Reynie sighs. Sticky shrugs behind him, the slide of his shoulder bones on Reynie's back familiar.
"Maybe contacts wasn't such a fantastic idea," Sticky says, and wiggles his bound hands expressively. "No glasses to polish." Reynie grins and pushes back with his shoulder.
"Your hands are tied," he points out, and knows that Sticky's grinning too. Neither of them is all that bothered. Kate and Constance and Kate's Bucket are still out there in the darkness, and they aren't dead yet.
Somewhere on the camp’s perimeter, there’s a thud. No one else hears, because no one else is listening for it and the accompanying hawk scream.
“Eight minutes thirty seven seconds,” Sticky says conversationally. “And you and Kate’s record is beaten. Finally.”
“Aw, man,” Reynie says. He’s still sulking when Constance unties them both triumphantly.
Sticky makes eggs benedict for breakfast, and Kate groans and plants her head on the table.
“At least I have a genuine sense of humor now,” Sticky says, patting her on the shoulder, and she just mutters something about funny guys and digs in. Constance thinks it’s hilarious.
“You have to make some for my sixteenth birthday,” she says. “And we aren’t allowed to have any cases that day. Number Two may beat us over the head with a stick if we do.”
“We apologized!” Reynie says. “We couldn’t help the timing.”
“And yet somehow she still carries a grudge,” Kate says. “I can’t imagine why she would, it was only our welcome home party.”
“Yeah, it’s weird,” Constance grumbles, totally missing the point. “Why did she get mad? We were saving the world.” Reynie ruffles her hair. He’s the only one who can get away with it. She’s stopped biting people, but that’s mostly because Kate taught her where to kick them.
“Which reminds me, I still haven’t taught you guys how to free run,” Kate says. “Not really, at least.”
Sticky groans theatrically.
They suit up again a few days after Constance’s birthday, Kate checking their packs to make sure they’ve got everything they need and a lot of stuff they probably won’t need. They’ve all said their respective goodbyes to parents and Mr. Benedict and Number Two and Rhonda are standing at the dock to wave them off when they leave. Kate’s latest hawk flaps to her wrist as they stand on deck, and despite any amount of shooing refuses to leave.
“She fits in so well,” Constance says with a grin, and they wave vigorously as the boat starts to slip away.