month of boredom at Central Academy, the student invasion when
the new term started helped Renee immensely. Stuck in a
nearly-empty campus with just Molly and Donovan, forced to rely
on the library's internet connection and without the usual
bustle of activity she normally thrived in, her bout of
melancholy was as severe as any lasting effects of the attack.
Thankfully, all the activity of the new term lifted her spirits
and transformed the entire campus from dull to vibrant.
the down time did let her reflect on her career prospects with
the MST, namely how Donovan's demon now left her as the weakest
member of room 202. It bothered her terribly, yet she wasn't
sure what the remedy was. Molly couldn't help much, as Renee
grasped the concepts well enough, and her output was on par with
the student average. That was the problem: she was average while
Molly, Troy, and now even Kathryn and Donovan were superior.
lunch, she gained little sympathy from Kathryn. “If it makes you
feel any better, I don't think I'm all that hot at this either.”
seem to like your chances more than mine,” Renee lamented.
choice,” Kathryn huffed. “Besides, it's not like there's any
reason to be good at this. They never explain what we're
supposed to do with it.”
pointed a fork at her. “Well, Kurt's making a living with it.”
and I'm not doing that for a living. And it's not like you have
to either. You're a smart girl. You'll go to college and get a
real education. One with fewer bozos attacking you. Why worry
used to lagging behind everybody,” Renee replied, sadly. “I
mean, I'm happy that Troy's doing so well and Molly's got such a
head start on us... but the thought of being overpowered by
someone like Donovan's a little scary.”
stared back, suddenly sympathetic. She was rarely in a position
of weakness, but she understood the sentiment. It was why she
was always willing to help people like Troy and Yuki and Marie
find strong legs to stand on. Not to make too fine a point:
being subdued and knocked down really sucked.
heard about that. Sounded awful.” Both girls looked up as Prof.
Weatherstone had intruded on their conversation. “Mind if I sit
nodded. “Go right ahead. Professor Weatherstone, right?”
Weatherstone smiled and did so, setting a salad next to Kathryn.
“I'm surprised you remember me. It's been so long since you've
taken one of my classes.”
that she actually lectured at them,' Kathryn thought, wisely not
saying it aloud.
do we owe the honor?” Renee asked.
fact that I forgot to pack my lunch today. Professors have to
eat too,” Weatherstone said. “Anyway, is everything all right?
Heard there was a vrockrompir involved. Those are always
cast her eyes downward. Uncomfortable, she said, “Yeah, we're
okay. Little scary still having him around, but the procedure to
remove the curse went well.”
hear. That ruling surprised me too. Not like Chancellor Whalen
to do anything unorthodox like let Donovan stay on board.”
raised, Renee cocked it at Weatherstone. “Wait... we have a
chancellor?” Weatherstone nodded. “And how come I've never met
not very hands-on.” The professor shrugged. “Still, he does a
solid job and I'm sure he has his reasons for being lenient.
Can't say I'd want Donovan in my classes though.”
“Professor Melrose says he almost got a TA to quit out of
frustration,” Renee said. Her head slumped again. “And yet he's
stronger than me...”
sure you aren't more comfortable in a Thrusting program?”
Weatherstone's head was down to make it seem casual, but her
eyes cheated up at Renee.
head was still lowered. “I don't know. Sometimes I feel more
comfortable doing simple air spells, but Molly says it's a bad
scoffed. “You're not missing much.”
Weatherstone raised an eyebrow at Kathryn. “Neither are you, it
seems. Dismissive as you are about the field, I heard you used
temporal Thrusting in your incident with the Chioni last year.”
uh... yeah...” Kathryn scratched her neck, blushing a little.
seriously, Renee, we should at least check out your Thrusting
prowess. I've got office hours from three until four this
afternoon if you're interested.”
the slight grin, Renee shook her head. “Molly would kill me.”
more reason to give it a shot,” Kathryn mumbled, smirking
Chuckling, Weatherstone said, “A simple skills check isn't that
shady. And ultimately it is your guardian's decision. Hard data
would be harder for her to ignore.”
scoffed. Weatherstone added, “Okay, and I'm curious. Besides, it
some time for Renee to look up. It did seem to make sense: this
would settle once and for all which school she was best suited
for. Even Molly couldn't ignore cold data, especially when her
sister's lack of ability nearly got her killed. Still, there was
a sense of disobedience in having Weatherstone check Renee out.
She got a strong impression that Molly didn't want her to become
a Thruster, and movement in that direction, objective as it
would be, came across as rebellious.
to four, you said?” Renee asked, figuring she wouldn't miss
anything sneaking out of her demonic studies class early. She'd
had enough experience with demons as it was.
Renee's thrusting ability brought more work for her and Molly
than she had intended. She may have been a little too hopeful in
thinking that she could present her sister with the test results
with a 'lookit what I can do!' attitude, then watch Molly agree
wholeheartedly and shuffle Renee into a curriculum for gifted
Molly didn't even look at the results. She took the envelope,
calmly set it aside and said, “Now get an equivalent Weaving
check from Professor Melrose.”
like that, Molly was already back to work on something else.
This left Renee even more determined. “Fine. If I do, will you
look at everything fairly?” Renee asked.
looked up again. “Of course,” she replied, trying not to sneer.
take a few more days to arrange a check with Professor Melrose;
she was notoriously reclusive amid her research projects and
grant applications. But Renee went through the trouble and
finally made headway a week later.
skipped the basic proficiencies and went straight to the more
esoteric stuff that would actually demonstrate creativity and
ability. Any idiot Weaver could put up a shield, but it took a
little skill to coax a marble through a miniature obstacle
course without contact. Renee was daunted just looking the
contraption, mostly wondering how Melrose stored it in her tiny
in, the marble hadn't budged. Melrose sighed and mumbled, “Are
you even trying?”
I'm just...” But Renee realized that she wasn't really trying.
She assumed the task was impossible. And if Melrose could see
through it, Molly wouldn't treat that as an objective test. So
she was going to have to figure something out. She focused,
swiped her arm forward and hoped the marble would move somehow.
it did. Only it backed up and went off the table. Once on the
ground, Renee managed to set it straight again, but the route
underneath was just as treacherous. The marble rolled over
cracks, slogged through a small accumulation of slush... and met
its end at the hands of a nasty anti-marble force field. As
Renee mourned her lost friend, Melrose nodded silently, wrote
something down and shooed her out of the room.
way, she got her results. A neutral reading from two experts
that Molly could not ignore. This time, Molly didn't, poring
through both tests carefully as Renee watched with anticipation.
The waiting was especially painful as Molly refused to give away
any reaction. Finally, Molly set the papers down and looked up
Weaving,” she declared.
way!” Renee shouted. “Let me see that! There's no way my Weaving
test was better. I bombed it.”
filed the tests away before Renee could grab them. “Renee, I
can't even figure out Melrose's marble test. She says your
technique's still a little rough, but you used the kind of
imagination necessary in Weaving.”
Thrusting test scored marginally better, but you wouldn't get
much out of it if you switched. It would set you back a term or
two and you'd be resigned to mediocrity. In Weaving, you have
the basics down and there's still potential to be very
allowing retort, Molly stood and marched out of the room. But
Renee wasn't finished. She followed, taking the fight into the
commons area, even with Troy and Yuki studying at the table.
“Why can't I be successful at Thrusting? What's the difference?”
forced Molly to stop and turn around. “Do you want to accept my
decision now or would you prefer brutal honesty?”
paused and took a deep breath. When Molly recognized something
as brutal, it certainly would be. Worse yet, they had Troy's
attention. Still, whatever it was, she needed to know whatever
she was cursed with. It was the only way she could move forward.
She steeled herself and stared back at her guardian.
tried not to waver, but she needed a moment to collect herself
as well. Careful, but firm, she said, “In terms of innate
magical ability, you have always been the weakest in the unit.
Whichever school you choose and however well you master it,
nothing can change that.”
shouldn't have shocked Renee, but hearing in those terms was
devastating. Especially considering who else was in the group.
Needing to take her eyes off Molly, she found Yuki. “But what
from a rich magic lineage. Ability fully develops during
adolescence, but even now she is stronger than you.”
before he accepted his demon, his rare moments of success
demonstrate his potential.”
unwilling to face Molly, Renee needed a new target. She led her
eyes to Troy. He stared back at her, mouth agog. His head shot
back and forth between her and Molly. His lips quivered for a
moment, like he was about to say something to Molly, but nothing
emerged. After one last sad glance at Renee, he returned to his
Renee faced her sister. “Molly, how am I supposed to protect
myself as a Weaver? How is a lousy shield spell supposed to keep
me safe if I don't have the ability to fight back?” With more
force, she continued, “I just want to protect myself so this
doesn't happen again! I want to protect you the way Kurt does.”
loud breaths through her nose, Molly glared back for a while
before answering, “Protecting us is Kurt's job. And his alone.
What Donovan did to you was a failure on his part, and on mine.
Not yours. Furthermore, I will not compromise your education
here based on a perceived threat back home. You are being raised
to be a useful member of the taskforce, and you are better off
as a Weaver. Unlike Thrusters, clever Weavers can overcome your
Handicap? So now it was a handicap? Renee didn't get to ask
about it as Molly spun around. Clearly, she was finished
arguing, and Renee was too broken to continue.
Molly mumbled, “You're a Weaver that wants to be a Thruster, and
Kathryn's a Thruster that wants to be a Weaver.”
Renee nor Troy really heard it, but Yuki's potion exploded
suddenly, almost punctuating the statement. Although the smoke
was easy enough for Troy to clear away, a good deal of foamy
green liquid spilled out onto the floor.
stormed up to Yuki. “I thought this problem was fixed,” she
I... I... was just surprised that Kathryn...” Yuki stammered,
unable to complete her thoughts.
clenched, Molly sneered. “She hasn't said anything explicitly.
And don't put the idea in her head. But if you can't concentrate
under these conditions, what good are you under pressure?”
Yuki was almost in tears. “I'm sorry!”
the mess, Molly barked, “Clean this up.” Yuki jumped from her
chair and ran to the kitchen area, trying not to sob.
Wordlessly, Molly marched out of the room and shut the door.
returned with towels, barely containing herself as she obeyed
the harsh instructions. Renee was still paralyzed, clutching the
top of the sofa to stay balanced. Any more blows from reality
could have toppled her. Somehow, Molly left Troy unscathed. At
least, in a way.
he was left disturbed and frightened that Molly could dismantle
the two in such quick succession. Ruling the mob at the high
school was one thing, but what did this accomplish? How were
Renee and Yuki supposed to feel inspired and strive for success
in this atmosphere? This couldn't have been good for either of
them, and Troy sensed enough poison that he felt the need to
remedy it. Nothing else could have compelled him to follow Molly
out of the room. And nothing else could have formed the sneer on
his face and the courage to actually confront her about it.
anger lasted until the moment he stepped into the hall. Molly
hadn't gone anywhere. She was leaning against the wall, her arms
folded, her eyes closed and her head slumped and facing the
floor. Her slow, syncopated breathing and solemn head shake
silenced Troy. He couldn't criticize someone who looked that
still closed, she muttered, “What?”
longer he looked at her, the more pathetic she looked. This was
awful for Troy because he was still angry. She still did
something wrong and he still wanted to tell her. But if he
didn't have the courage to confront her in a moment of power, he
could never confront her when she looked this weak.
“Nothing,” he mumbled, walking past her, eager to find something
on this campus with a more uplifting spirit.
Donovan creeping everybody out with his insistence on
compliance, Renee moping over her major and Molly building
frustrations related to the two and unleashing them on everybody
else, the unit was a little uptight this term. No number of
visits to Reggie's room would be able to remedy the overwhelming
tension hanging over everybody.
insufficiency was a reason to stop visiting Reggie. Hell, Troy
and Kathryn had stopped by every other day the prior summer, and
that term was utopian by comparison. Even in this tumultuous
three weeks, Troy was still excelling in his classes, perceived
them as the correct classes for him, and hadn't attacked any of
his schoolmates (except for one incident involving Yuki and a
flame circle, which he sincerely apologized for when she
returned from the burn ward). This made him de facto ringleader
for all group Reggie excursions.
had friends outside the room he could call upon when he couldn't
stand the people inside 202. As he headed back to the room a day
after the dust-up between Molly and Renee, he was planning a
Reggie party for them too.
haven't asked her yet, but I'm sure Kathryn's in.”
other girls up there?” his friend asked. Co-ed Reggie's room was
even more exhilarating, but for some reason most of Troy's
friends either didn't have girls in their units or weren't on
speaking terms with them.
Renee on the couch. Having dismissed Molly and Yuki from
consideration, he replied, “I can ask one more.”
from her dejected look, Renee did need cheering up. While Molly
had put her foot down regarding Renee's schooling, the reasoning
still stung. Troy had never seen Renee this upset before. She
stared at her reflection in the gray television screen,
appearing ready to cry at any...
that. Her head lowered and she started bawling. This wasn't a
faint stream of tears, but a full-on, heart-wrenching flash
flood. Troy would have to call his friend back.
a few steps towards her, unsure how to handle this. They were
alone, so as far as consoling or reassurance, it was all him.
Fighting off the trepidation, Troy sat down next to her and
gently draped his hand on her back.
wrong?” he asked.
Sniffling, Renee replied, “I've never felt this worthless
shook his head. “Are you still worried about that? Don't worry
about what Molly says. Just work hard and you'll be fine.”
right though,” she muttered. “There's no way I can keep up with
you and Molly. And now I'm falling behind Donovan and Kathryn
too. And no matter how hard I try, there's no way I can catch up
her back, Troy framed his next statement. Something along the
lines of her being chosen for a reason, the MST and the unit
still need whatever abilities she can provide, and that hard
work always pays off over time. Fitting that into one sentence
was a daunting chore, so it took a few moments.
Meanwhile, Renee continued, rendering his hard work meaningless:
“I'm used to things being so easy for me. With school and with
friends and with everything else I don't have to think about it.
It was all just so obvious for me.” She turned to him, shaking
her head. “I'm not used to being this helpless. And this
limited. I feel so weak.”
“Well...” Troy paused. He did not have an instinct for every
little thing he did, so he found it hard to sympathize. “Nobody
can be perfect at everything.”
important, Troy!” she shouted. “There's all this stuff out there
and some of it might be going after Molly. I want to help her,
but...” She broke down again, her head falling into his
wrapped his other arm around her. At first, he just let her cry.
He really hadn't thought about that kind of thing. Yes, there
were demons and yes, they were clearly pretty evil, but that's
what the MST was for. He and his unit were just preparing for a
future career with them, not to fight off the menace themselves.
Did he want to go off and rescue his mother when the Chioni held
her captive? Sure, but he only did so under Kurt's leadership,
not thinking much of the fact that he couldn't have done it
what he went with when he spoke up, still holding her close. “I
know it's hard, but we can't worry about stuff like that right
now. Kurt and everybody else will help keep us safe until they
say we're ready to join the team.”
nodded. “But what if I'm not good enough?”
know. They'll figure it out. Besides, it's not like you can't do
anything else.” He pulled back and stared into her eyes.
“There's no reason for you to get worked up over something like
this, Renee. You're smart, you're kind and you won't have any
trouble finding something to do with your life. It's not the end
of the world if you're not as good at magic as Molly.”
eyebrow flared up. For a moment, the tears stopped. “You...” One
sniffle escaped, but she continued, “You think so?”
course. There's lots of things I'm not very good at.”
say that.” She smiled faintly, still staring into his eyes.
Maybe Troy's mind was playing a trick on him, but her face
seemed to glow and the stream of tears evaporated. “There's so
much you're good at,” she whispered, almost cooed.
heart started to thump and suddenly he felt uncomfortable. Even
the crying couldn't make Renee any less beautiful, and again it
might have been in his head but him being 'good' at something
seemed like a loaded statement.
Nervously, he replied, “And there's a lot of stuff I suck at.”
didn't respond. Now doubly nervous, afraid he had offended her,
he blurted, “Not that I'm saying you suck at magic. You're still
all right. You helped out a few times when we...”
smile grew and he knew he didn't need to continue. She was at
peace now. Something he had said must have worked. Or at the
very least got her mind off it and onto another matter entirely.
I...” She shook her head, breathing in and out heavily. Her
chest heaved- not that Troy dared look at it. He knew she wanted
to say something big. He didn't know whether it was a good idea
to listen, or how to respond if he did.
the delay, the front door slammed open. Whatever Troy's blood
pressure was during all that, it doubled in one heartbeat. Troy
turned around and hoped to God they weren't busted.
Thankfully, it was Kathryn. “Oh, it's just you,” he said,
stared back, unhappy. “What do you mean 'it's just me?' What are
you two up to?”
looked away, sheepishly pulling his arms away from Renee. Renee
faced Kathryn, forcing a chuckle. “I just broke down for a
second. Troy was just trying to help out and cheer me up.”
what was involved in that?”
Scoffing, Renee stood up and walked past Kathryn. “Kathryn, you
know I've been going through a lot. Just let it go.”
Kathryn's eyes followed Renee into the bathroom. Once the door
closed, they met Troy's. They seemed aggressive. He said,
“Nothing happened, okay? Don't read into it.”
worry. I believe you,” she replied, although it sounded hostile.
She stepped towards the couch and leaned over Troy. “So why the
hell are you acting like you're guilty?”
widened and he turned away. She smiled. At least he wasn't
consciously being defensive: that would have implied that he
actually was guilty.
for a segue, he mumbled, “Say, uh, the guys want to know if
you're up for Reggie's tonight?”
you even need to ask,” she said, borderline chipper now.
bathroom door flew open and Renee popped out, holding a
washcloth. “Did someone say Reggie?”
we're heading down tonight with some of my friends,” Troy
replied. “Wanna join us?”
nodded hurriedly. “Reggie's sounds so good right now.”
everybody else was supposed to be having fun at Central, Kurt
was back home in L. B. Gould doing his usual grunt work. Between
the usual rounds, investigating the whereabouts of demons like
Kendrick and a normal part time construction job to make ends
meet, it wasn't a picnic. Still, it was a life, and a pretty
decent one that let him go to bed every night satisfied with his
up wasn't so pleasant one morning. Instead of the usual clock
radio that chimed in with the latest pop single at 10:00, he
felt his earlobe wiggling at nine. It was a very abrupt way to
wake up, about as pleasant as a vibrating cell phone on your
forehead. He looked at his clock, looked through his blinds to
verify that it was in fact morning, and pinched his ear at the
conclusion of a long stretch.
morning, Kurt.” It was one of the relay operators from the
office. That usually meant trouble.
“Morning, Bill,” Kurt mumbled, his mouth dry.
detected a discharge of magic in your area last night. Please
nodded. That was what he figured. Both he and the office usually
monitored that sort of thing, but both he and the office liked
to get some sleep every now and then. Unless it was something
urgent enough for the poor guy on the night shift to alert him
immediately, it could wait until Bill compiled the discharge
reports every morning.
spoilers or do I have to check my Bloodberry?”
emanated from the local high school and may have been demonic in
Naturally, Kurt was surprised by this. “The unit's at Central.
Why would a demon be hanging around the school?”
for you to find out,” Bill replied.
took it slower than he should have. He still got up, showered,
ate breakfast and watched SportsCenter the way he usually did.
When he finally got to his Bloodberry, he didn't find much else:
the incident happened at 3:04 in the morning and did not involve
a displacement field nor did anyone see it take place.
treated it like any other minor investigation, even opting to
make a couple other routine stops like the old Golden Sun office
and the public library first. The Chioni were still gone and
Kendrick was still not loitering around. The daily grind helped
reassure Kurt that whatever had happened wasn't something to be
concerned about. This happy delusion helped him maintain a
semblance of cover when he finally got to the school.
in casually with the coordinates, he was able to blend in much
better than if he barged in urgently with his Bloodberry at the
ready. Now he looked like just another senior texting the time
thought that kid graduated last year,” Kurt heard someone
whisper. He ignored it.
coordinates led Kurt down the hallway, eventually telling him to
hang a right. Already he didn't like where this was heading. As
his tone grew a little more concerned, that's when someone else
spotted him. Someone he couldn't ignore.
What are you doing here?” Marie said.
her, Kamila added, “Yeah, Kathryn and Molly aren't here. Any
other girlfriends we need to know about?”
pocketed his Bloodberry and forced a smile as he faced the
girls. “Oh, uh, just checking some things out. We did some work
for Molly a couple weeks ago and I gotta check up on it. You
know, work stuff.”
nodded derisively. “Fun.”
they could continue the idle chit-chat, another student walked
down the hallway. He caught sight of Kurt and immediately
sneered, stepping in front of Kamila to eye Kurt down. Kurt had
never seen him before and felt uneasy immediately. The spiked
hair, large build and silent, menacing face was enough to freak
anybody out. The boy snorted and moved on, taking second and
third glances at Kurt as he left. In turn, Kurt kept his eye on
him as well.
groaned. “Sho,” she announced with revulsion.
just chuckled. “Don't sweat it, Kurt. He does that to
knew he was going to show up, I'd rather have Donovan back.”
Donovan's just a loser. At least this kid's got some real style.
Kinda cute if you ask me.”
Marie turned to her friend. “Kamila, don't say that. He's a
creep and I don't want to have anything to do with him. I wish
you wouldn't either.”
Kurt, but he didn't say it out loud. Sho's demeanor,
abrasiveness and general aura screamed evil. Of course, he was
used to demons like Kendrick that cloaked themselves brilliantly
and blended into any scene. He wasn't sure if a demon would roam
the school being that upfront about his nature, especially if it
was that Hageshoni that was supposedly lurking about.
and Kamila continued to argue whether Sho was hot or rot, giving
Kurt only a cursory farewell. Not that Kurt minded; now he
really had to get to the bottom of things. He pulled his
Bloodberry back out and followed its coordinates into the dark
room, as he had feared.
was locked, as he had forgotten to fear. That meant he was
forced to wait until the passing period ended, the hallway
emptied and he could teleport inside. Inside it was dark, of
course. Not due to the room's essence or anything- just because
he hadn't flipped a light switch.
braced himself before preparing a light ball. Even if nothing
had happened in here, Kurt had already replaced most of
Donovan's belongings. It was still clean and tidy, but all of
the old faux-occultish potpourri was back inside and he still
didn't like looking at that crap. He steeled himself for all
that, plus any other surprises, and cast his light ball.
as he saw the illuminated room, he dropped the ball in shock. It
trickled away on the floor and eventually flickered out, but it
didn't matter. What Kurt saw reflected the light right back into
his disbelieving eyes, and kept doing so even after the source
died. His stomach churned as it seemed to stare back at him,
Hageshoni had installed another mark.
have got to be kidding me,” Molly muttered, staring at the
marking. After more than a month out of town, it was not the
first thing she wanted to see upon returning.
only that, it's fresh,” Kurt said, arms folded. “The guys at the
office confirmed that Miguel removed the last one. Someone up
and planted it again.”
have my dark room back?” Donovan asked, sitting at his usual
place at the head of the table, eying them down.
Molly glared at him. They didn't know he was in the room.
need to sanctify and everything again?” Molly asked, still
staring at Donovan. He glowered at her.
“Actually, no. It's still new. We put a stasis spell on the
marking. It doesn't neutralize it, but at least it's prepped for
Miguel to come back and remove it.”
will he be here?”
two.” Molly groaned. Kurt shrugged. “Hey, if they're just going
to put new ones up all the time, we have to catch them first.”
nodded. That sort of made sense. “Don't suppose you have any
pointed at her, proud that he was not helpless in this regard.
“Actually, yes. What do you know about a boy named Sho?”
for a moment, she replied, “Name sounds familiar. Should I know
student here, apparently. Sure gave me and Marie the creeps.”
Scoffing, Molly said, “Then it's unlikely that he's demonic. I
doubt a demon would that obvious. What does he gain in scaring
talking about the Hageshoni.”
Molly flared her eyebrows and shrugged. “I'll dig up what I can
of him and keep you posted.”
turned to Donovan, pulling a curtain over the marking. “As for
you, if you leave this thing concealed at all times and try to
keep the hellraising to a minimum, perhaps I'll let you stay
grinned wickedly and hissed, “As you wish.” Molly stared back.
Indeed, he was scarier when he was obedient.
call the second annual 'Catch Up With Real School' convention to
order,” Kathryn announced, slamming her fist down like a gavel
on her bedroom desk.
you did this last year too?” Renee asked, looking over the mess
of textbooks, worksheets and post-it notes summarizing three
weeks worth of backdated homework.
barely pass even when I go to school. Without Troy, I'd be boned
missing three weeks,” Kathryn said. Troy nodded solemnly.
didn't you invite me last year?”
snickered. “Yeah, like Molly didn't cover for you.”
maybe,” Renee looked away. “Hey, why's Yuki here? She's a year
support,” Kathryn replied.
that's why she's dressed like a cheerleader?”
nodded, rubbing her bare legs with her bare arms. “Yeah, uh,
about that. I know it sounded cute on paper, but I forgot that
it's January. Can I go change?”
yeah, let's get on with this,” Troy said. As Yuki ran off to put
on something decent, he hovered over the pile of books. “Okay,
I'll take chemistry, Kathryn gets history and Renee gets math.”
what math class are you in?” Renee asked.
“Geometry,” said Kathryn.
Calculus,” muttered Renee. “How's that supposed to work?”
Kathryn wordlessly set their math books in front of Renee.
“You'll figure it out,” they both said.
grumbled. “Fine, but how are you supposed to learn this if you
don't do the homework?”
you get a free pass on history and chemistry,” said Kathryn.
history and chemistry! Besides, I get a free pass anyway.”
Kathryn motioned to move their assigned books to Renee's pile,
but she grunted them off.
each went to work silently, reading the material and completing
any necessary paperwork in triplicate. The only noises for the
next half hour were the constant pencil scratchings, the low
drone of Kathryn's radio and the occasional cry for Yuki to
fetch another soda.
point, Renee asked, “Wait, who's got English?”
uh, we tried that last year,” Troy said. “Turns out Mrs. Cohen
didn't like it when Kathryn turned in a Xerox of my essay.”
started giggling. “You guys really did that?”
shrugged. “Hey, we were desperate. Figured it couldn't be any
worse than what I would have normally turned in.”
well, it's nice that you're helping us out. Maybe we won't have
to get that drastic this year,” Troy said.
grinned. “Better be nice to me if you want your trig done then.”
Chuckling, Troy smiled back at her.
he could say anything, Yuki sounded an airhorn. They both jumped
and stared at her.
work, everybody! I didn't say it was break time!” Yuki
buried in her textbook, Kathryn smirked and mumbled, “Thank you,
Shizuka, please report to the Student Council office.”
command rippled throughout the school like a pulled fire alarm.
Which in L. B. Gould, meant it stole everybody's attention
immediately, but most students dismissed it as a joke. Really
now, was big bad Molly going to pick on cute little Yuki? Given
the perceived (okay... actual) student council influence in
getting Yuki into the school, how could she be accused of
defying the president?
yes, Molly?” Yuki asked, a little nervous. If she was contacted
over the loudspeaker, it must have been school business.
raised an eyebrow. “Is there a problem?”
her head rapidly, Yuki quickly answered, “No, ma'am! Just, uh...
hey is that more spray?” Indeed, a bottle of that purification
solution was on Molly's desk.
Miguel asked Kurt to spray the marking a couple times before it
gets removed. Kurt, in turn, asked me to do it. Thus I'm
nodded, but sighed. “That's fine. But why'd you have to page me?
dismissive shrug, Molly replied, “Keeps the populace guessing.
Go to work.”
took the spray and tucked it into her satchel. Unlike Molly,
Yuki had classes and clubs that required her attention before
she could tend to such matters. It wasn't until the end of the
day that she got around to doing the deed.
waited until late in the afternoon, hoping that Donovan would
leave the dark room and go home. Apparently, this had not always
been a given. Plus the school would be nearly empty and she
could unload Miguel's bitter concoction with few victims.
she ran into Blaine and Bryce as they left the school. They
carried stacks of textbooks with them. “Hey, guys!” she said,
greeting them happily.
talk. Trying to get Donovan's back homework together,” said
Blaine. He stumbled, dropping his load.
we should have kept up while he was gone,” Bryce muttered,
setting his stack down. “Silly that we thought we'd get a couple
you carrying them instead of teleporting?” Yuki asked.
needed a couple trips to get all the books together. Then we
couldn't teleport in there because there's still a few kids
anyone see us?” Blaine asked.
looked around and shook her head. “I think you're clear. Say,
has Donovan gone home?”
said Bryce. “And we're about to join him.” The two teleported
away, and Yuki confidently continued along to the dark room,
certain of her mission's success now.
she thought. Just as she reached for the door to get in, a
whisper froze her. Yuki put her ear to the door. The whispering
continued, but she found it totally unintelligible. This was odd
no matter the circumstance: nobody was supposed to be in there
besides Donovan and anyone associated with fixing the marking.
Other occult club members, perhaps? Yuki doubted there were any
other members, and none of them would hang around longer than
mumble,” continued the whispering. Yuki found that very
disconcerting, but it was an unfortunate side effect of
Lucidrol: when someone deliberately didn't want to be
understood, she was ill-equipped to eavesdrop. Eventually, she
decided there was no sense prolonging this stalemate and knocked
on the door.
voice hushed immediately, and mumbled a one-syllable word that
Yuki assumed was profane. She waited several seconds to see if
the whispers would resume, but she heard only silence. After
waiting long enough and hearing nothing, Yuki reasoned that
either something suspicious was going on inside or the voice was
just in her head. Lucidrol sometimes did that as well. She
opened the door.
almost slammed it back shut when she saw Sho inside, glaring
back at her with his trademark contemptuous sneer. Instead, she
was frozen with fear. Yuki knew how suspicious Kurt was of him,
and how Sho was the top suspect for secretly being a Hageshoni.
This confirmed it, and now he had no choice but to finish off
the poor thing who caught him in the act.
uh... Yuki...” Actually, he wasn't alone in there. Kamila was in
there too. And for once in her life she actually looked shy,
staring back at Yuki. She wore her basketball practice gear and
seemed genuinely frightened.
it gave Yuki somebody to talk to, not that she was any less
guarded. “What are you doing in here?”
tried to avoid eye contact. “Well... uh... you see, uh... Sho
and I are kinda...” She looked at him once. He was still glaring
at Yuki. So Kamila turned to Yuki and said, “We're kinda
Yuki shouted, a little too loudly. Sho snarled and stepped
menacingly towards her.
Kamila's cry stopped Sho. Yuki wasn't taking her eyes off him
now. But at least it snapped Kamila out of her bout of
bashfulness. “See this is what I was afraid of. You guys just
don't want to get to know him.”
continued to stare at him; he returned the gesture with twice
the intensity. Sho looked like he was ready to destroy her, and
Kamila's afraid of how well he'd get along with the gang?
better not tell any of them about this, okay?” Kamila asserted,
staring down Yuki with almost as much force as Sho. “Marie's
already creeped out by him and I can't imagine Kat or Troy
liking him either. So I just want to keep this between us,
nasty eyes on her and Yuki would have bowed to almost any
demand. “Uh... okay.” Looking up to Kamila, she added, “Look,
I'm sorry. Just caught me by surprise.”
turned aside and muttered, “What are you doing in here anyway?”
“Whatever. I gotta get back to practice before they notice I'm
gone.” Kamila started to walk out, passing Yuki on the way to
the door, barely acknowledging her.
“Kamila?” Yuki shouted, getting her to look back. “Let me know
if you want to talk, okay? I know it's hard to keep secrets from
your friends, so I'm sure you'd like someone to talk to about
this. Guess I stumbled into the job.”
paused, looked up, and then turned back to Yuki. She smiled a
little. “I'll keep that in mind. Thanks.”
walked out. And Yuki followed immediately to avoid being alone
in the dark room with that creep.