How is anybody supposed to properly focus on toenail painting around here? Especially with a ninja looking at you like she’s a lost and helpless puppy. (She’s seen a lot of those, tagging along with dad on the job. Usually in sacks.) That, and big decisions tossed onto your shoulders! Wow, it’s a lot!

“Weeeeell...” Elodie says. On the one hand, if she’s too nice, she won’t have any cred with Annalee. And Alex, but Alex is kind of an oaf, isn’t she? Hardly worth worrying about. On the other hand, helpless puppy ninja.

“...you’ve got to give somebody a chance,” she concludes. “Like chess, or poker, or laser tag. If she wins, she gets to go free. If she loses, you get to do all the magic you want on her. Either way, she also has to explain why she was snooping.” Elodie nods, satisfied with how ably she’s managed to thread the needle.

She scoots over and offers her hand to the ninja with a dorky smile, one shoulder loose from her oversized shirt, her hair a mess. “That sound fair to you, Miss Ninja?” And though she’s just a little breathy because she’s been breathing quickly with the high stress of a ninja being thrown into the room, well, someone flailing for a life preserver in the middle of shark-infested waters might see that as more.

[That’s a lucky 13 on turning our Ninja — Carmen? — on.]