Her sad expression turns to disgust.  “That was inappropriate.  I’m not his mom.  Even if I meant well, that could create doubts in his mind about his mother.  I wish I hadn’t weakened to say such a thing.  I just hate being forced to watch my girl enjoy time with everyone else while I’m stuck…*sigh* doing what I got myself into.  I fully understood this responsibility when it was given to me.  That doesn’t mean I love having to miss Faye’s life so much, and when I see Mercy barely around, I guess it reminds me too much of my neglect for my daughter, so I feel bad for Paul.  I guess?”  Ally tries to avoid eye contact with Duplica as she finds this to be a very humiliating discussion.  “Why am I even a teacher at this school if I’m not here half the time?  I’ve never understood such redundancy.  I can’t raise my own child…” her voice drops with the next line, “…I can’t teach other kids.  I’m always stuck alone on the backside of some desert somewhere with all these thoughts and no one to tell them to, no one to teach from the lessons that I’ve learned.  What’s the point of learning and becoming a teacher if I only have so many classes I’m actually available for?”  Ally sighs and walks away.  “Thanks for listening, Cat.”

    “Teach me,” Duplica sweetly suggests.

    “Teach you?  What do you mean?” Ally is highly confused.

    “I know you’re always very busy, but you’re the best System Guard I know.  I, on the other hand, am like a spicy kettle of fish.  I’m hotheaded and my attitude stinks.”  Ally is definitely not depressed after that line.  Cat goes on, “You can’t always be here to teach the kids, and I know that some System Guard missions take you to odd places that mess with the Infinite abilities.  Science is weird like that.  But I want you to know that you’ve got a student right here that wishes everyday she could be even half as disciplined as you.  I see my daughter growing and maturing, but I can tell she’d be a lot farther ahead without having to unlearn all her mom’s hasty habits that she has to live with every day.  Your daughter, on the other hand, has YOU to mimic; big advantage.  And I’m not saying that to beat myself up or to say Gigi is immature.  She’s, ironically, very sweet for how we all tease her and assume she’s always as impatient as she used to be.  Paul or Faye matures, and every cheers.  Gigi grows and we still tease her like nothing happened.  But the point I’m trying to make is that, well, can I have a mentor?”

    The two women look each other in the eye, and Ally gives the condition.  “Will you teach me how to balance work with my kid?  And will you teach me how you solve riddles so quickly?”  The two friends laugh at the second condition.  “Cat,” Ally takes Duplica’s hands, “you know, I thought it was funny when Faye used to want to be Elfie’s sister, or that Tiffany girl’s sister, or Gigi’s sister.  I just wrote it off as her being lonely, like her wanting to date and such.  But I have to say it reminds me of when I was younger, much younger.  There was a girl I met once that came along during my darkest hour, when I was a total jerk to everyone I knew.  She took it upon herself to be my friend, my sister.  I still talk to her, even though she lives quite a good ways away.  I guess, after losing my husband and becoming a System Guard and then a teacher, ha, I always thought I’d get the chance to be that mentor to other people.  Any chance I can get to repay my sister’s kindness by sharing it with others makes for a good day.”

    Cat Rug firmly grasps Ally J.’s hands and offers, “Then the obvious answer is for you to be my sister.  Might as well, since everybody else has one.  Don’t tell Abbie though.  She’ll think I’m replacing her.”

    “Oh, yeah!  You do have a sister who up and moved to the Juniper District to get away from Dogwood, don’t you?” Ally shakes Duplica’s hands.  “Then we can be sisters, and I won’t tell Abbie.  He he, this feels silly, like we’re high schoolers.”

    “Speaking of high schoolers, I’ve got six of them to march through a time portal.  I need to get going.”  Putting her hands on her hips in interrogation mode, Cat laughs as her hastiness kills the sentiment of the moment.  “Seriously though, Ally, I wish you’d open up more instead of trying to handle it all yourself.  You can’t visit, but you could always call me when on the field.  Ever think of that?”

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