The pitiful question and the pain and impending tears in eyes that had once been cold and hard haunted Vincent when he headed back to Quarry Hall. He had convinced George to eat a good breakfast and then spend the day reading and studying -- he knew better than to tell George to try to get some sleep. By the time he drove through the gates and parked his car, he had an idea of what to do to deal with this threatened, unwelcome breakthrough. It had happened only twice before since giving George a new home and identity, and both times the distraction tactic had worked. It would work again. Vincent had been praying hard during the short drive, and he nearly laughed aloud when the answer to the most important question of all came to him as he pulled up to the stable and attached garage, and waited for the overhead door to open. Su-Ma and BooBoo jogged around the back of the stable, both of them covered in snow, gasping great gusts of smoky breath.
"Su-Ma!" he called, with his window only halfway open. "You up for a new job?"
"Where and when?" she shouted back, and slid to a stop, bending over, hands braced on her knees, to catch her breath. Her big dog kept running, galloping along like a great clumsy pony.
"Not a where, but a who. When -- as soon as you can get your gear together." He opened the door and climbed out of the car. Vincent felt as achy, suddenly, as if he had gone ten rounds with a man a good ten inches taller than him.
"Who?" Su-Ma snatched at BooBoo, who had finally realized she had been left behind, circled back around her, and then raced toward Vincent with a loud woof that echoed off the stable wall. The Great Dane evaded her grasp and hurtled across the snow.
"George," Vincent said. He gestured down and BooBoo let out another woof like a grunt and skidded to a stop three feet from him.