ice storm hit L. B. Gould two days later, one of those freak
incidents of nature where rain freezes on its way down. In the
morning, every car in town was either trapped in a driveway with
its doors welded shut or in a ditch off the turnpike somewhere.
Normally, even this wouldn't be enough to cancel school-
unfreezing her car doors was an easy enough spell for Molly. But
the re-emerging Hageshoni presence left her exasperated enough
to want a day off.
the 'snow day,' there wasn't much in the way of snow, thus
inhibiting the recreation. The lack of safe transportation meant
that most kids simply claimed a quiet day at home watching TV.
group, however, was going to the mall. This included Kurt, who
skidded sideways through an intersection. He calmly corrected
his fishtail and continued along unfazed.
frazzled his passenger pretty good though. “Are... are you sure
you're okay driving in this?” Yuki cried.
chuckled, swerving to pass a road salter. “Sure, I grew up in
Wisconsin. Been waiting for a chance to try driving in this
settled down and continued on their drive to pick up Kathryn on
the edge of town. Seeking to calm Yuki down a little, Kurt
resorted to idle shop talk.
Unfortunately, he asked, “So did you get that room sprayed?”
made Yuki tense up. Yes, she had gone back and completed her
task afterwards, but the incident with Sho and Kamila still
bothered her. Problem was, she was sworn to secrecy. After some
soul-searching, she decided that Kurt wasn't technically part of
'the gang' and that Sho's presence in the dark room needed to be
but the first time I tried, someone was in there.”
shock, Kurt almost slammed on the brakes right there, which
would have been a bad idea on the ice. Instead, he turned
and stared open-mouthed at Yuki. Of course, this too was a bad
idea while driving, but not one worthy of italics.
man... what was he doing in there?”
looked away, and down. “Well... he wasn't alone. Kamila was in
Kamila and Sho are apparently going out.”
faced forward again. Disappointed, he said, “Oh.” That was,
unfortunately, consistent. “Did he do anything suspicious?”
scoffed. “Everything he did was suspicious. But it's not like he
can use magic with Kamila right there.”
yeah.” After thinking for a moment, he calmly came to a
conclusion. “Well, obviously we don't want to get her mixed up
in this. Maybe we should just talk her out of it so she doesn't
get too close to him.”
that's the problem. She told me not to tell anybody because she
doesn't want Marie and them to lecture her like that.”
Kurt shook his head. This was an annoying complication,
especially since he wasn't sure just how much it mattered. Sho
was an obvious suspect... almost too obvious. In a way, that was
his only source of doubt. And he wasn't about to interfere with
someone's personal life, odd as it was, unless he was absolutely
we should just let it go,” Yuki said. “I mean, if Sho is a
demon, you'll take him out secretly and we can either let Kamila
get over it or rewrite her memory so she never knew about him.”
“Perhaps, but what if he tries to sign her over?”
stared straight ahead, stunned at the thought. “She wouldn't go
for that... would she?”
I didn't think Donovan would either. I won't say anything to
Kamila today, but the sooner we get those those two apart, the
nodded. “Hey, if she's into that type, maybe we should fix her
up with Donovan,” she suggested playfully.
can't be that mean to her.”
the elements, all parties reached the mall safely. To the
surprise of some, this included Renee. Marie and Kamila
struggled to come up with a polite way of asking 'who invited
never got the chance. Renee led the group away from the entrance
toward the mall's inner sanctum. “This was a great idea. It's so
quiet. Bet we can get some serious shopping done.”
“Shopping?” Troy was confused. “I was never informed that
shopping was involved.”
clutched his hand. “It's optional. We don't have to. Although
since we are here...”
groaned. “Am I going to wish I had a Game Boy?”
shoes, I promise.”
chuckled and patted Kathryn's back. “So glad you're not a big
actually...” Kathryn rubbed the back of her neck. “I need some
new basketball shoes. Wore the last ones out and need to break
in a new pair before the playoffs.”
back, Kurt replied, “You need me around for that?”
there's a hoop in the store to try them out. I need a sparring
someone with money.”
laughed. “Yeah, this is your department. I got aimless wandering
aimless wandering!” cried Yuki and Renee, joining their de facto
raised his eyebrows, amused. “I see. The singles get to go have
tilted her head and blurted, “Well, but Kamila's not-” she
caught herself, but it was too late. The little squeak she added
when she realized her mistake didn't help matters. Neither did
Kamila's surprised grunt, nor the look she threw Yuki.
picked up on it, and armed with a sly smile she went in closer
to examine Kamila's avoidances and Yuki's look of horror. She
drew a quick conclusion and stared Kamila in the eyes.
what's his name?” she asked.
at Kathryn and Yuki intermittently, Kamila had no escape.
Busted, she uttered the name that sent everybody into fits of
disgust, disapproval... and in Yuki's case, guilt.
first vocal response came from Kathryn. It was one of confusion.
“Sho? Who's that?”
a hand on her shoulder. “Some creepy new kid. Spiked hair,
dresses in gray, evil eye...”
“Donovan?” Kathryn replied, still confused.
threw a hand up. “Hell no! Donovan's just a wannabe. At least
Sho pulls that look off.”
“Still... he doesn't look all that stable,” Kurt said.
don't know him,” she muttered.
heard an unhappy scoff from behind. It came from Marie. “I do. I
don't want to have anything to do with him. You know how I feel
about him and I'm not going to talk about it.” She marched away,
grabbing Troy's arm. “Come on, Troy.”
the tense looks on his friends' faces, Troy followed obediently.
“Yes, yes,” he said, eager to get away. “In fact, you should try
at Kurt and Kathryn one more time, Kamila turned around and
stormed off on her own. After Kamila gained a short head start,
Yuki jogged after her, with Renee following.
Yuki caught up, the pleading began. “I'm really sorry! It just
kinda slipped out!” Kamila didn't respond. “Kamila, it was an
accident, really! Please don't be mad at me!”
Kamila turned and barked back, “You need to be more careful,
okay? You saw how they got.” She huffed, trying to calm down,
and failing. “Even accidents hurt.” Yuki looked down, nodded and
see what the problem is,” Renee said, calmly sneaking up behind
them. “It's easy to not understand people. How long have you
didn't seem all that happy about Renee joining in on the
conversation, but answered, “Start of the semester.”
many times have you gone out?”
Kamila just looked annoyed. She folded her arms and looked away.
“Couple times,” she answered.
nodded. “What do you see in him that they don't?”
don't know.” She shook her head, trying to come up with a decent
answer. “He doesn't seem all that bad to me. He's just... cool.”
Chuckling, Renee sighed and leaned against a wall. “Yeah, I know
how it feels. It's happened to me too.”
pause, Kamila raised an eyebrow at her. “What has?”
attracted to someone that you shouldn't be.”
“Really...” Kamila turned back to her, too curious to avoid
asking, especially with the 'shouldn't be' part. “Who's this
blushed and Kamila went in deeper, lifting her chin and awaiting
an answer. Even Yuki started to hone in on Renee. Finally, Renee
relented, sighed and let out a name more humiliating than Sho:
Kamila shouted. “Are you serious? That idiot?”
thoroughly embarrassed, Renee tried to clarify. “It was just for
a second, and totally not romantically. Just for a bit I thought
I was interested in him.” When Kamila shook her head and turned
away, Renee raised her eyebrows at Yuki. “Definitely not now.”
Yuki nodded back, knowingly.
snickered. “For a second there, I thought you were going to say
cheeks reddened. Kamila saw this and grinned.
'cause I've always wondered. You've got a million other friends
you could hang out with, and yet you're always with us. And I
see how you are around Troy...”
please...” Yuki pleaded. Renee just stared back, frightened at
Kamila went on: “I mean, he fits Marie perfectly, but I don't
know why you'd have any interest in a dope like Troy. Still,
he's pretty weak and Marie's so passive... if you wanted him, no
Yuki intervened. “That's not what's going on! Renee, tell
couldn't speak. What Kamila was describing was awful. The
desperate tactics from the worst sort of nasty teenager. That
someone could accuse her of all that was only made worse by how
exposed she felt. Bad it sounded, Renee had no other plea but
Smirking, Kamila went for the kill. “Admit it- you have a thing
for Troy, don't you?”
was no escaping it. Kamila wasn't budging. Yuki could only stare
back, horrified that the subject was broached and even more
fearful that Renee would confirm it. But Renee had no choice.
She couldn't deny that she had been swayed by his positive
attitude, occasional spurts of courage and, unfortunately,
someone else landing him instead.
I kinda do,” she said, very softly.
such a revelation would give everyone pause, or at least create
enough chaos to throw any witnesses off their game. Certainly,
this was the case with Yuki, who stepped back, unsure what to
make of what seemed to her to be a perfectly good plot twist. Of
course, Kamila had already made the connection. She wasn't
surprised, nor did she revel in her successful 'outing.'
she drove her point home: “Then what right do you have lecturing
me on who I shouldn't be going out with? You can't even get your
own act together.”
looked away; one more point for Kamila. This was turning into a
away from them,” Kamila spat. “Marie's a good girl, but I know
you've got her beat in looks and smarts. You can have any guy in
school. Don't steal hers.” She turned around and walked away.
Neither Renee nor Yuki followed her. Kamila was on her own and
they got the feeling she wanted to be.
Yuki was still stunned. “So... you do like Troy?”
had been silenced herself. Kamila's words were half-threat,
half-plea and both seemed to hit her with full power. “Yeah,”
she whispered back. “How did she figure all that out?” Honestly,
Renee wasn't even conscious of the way she slowly gravitated
towards Troy. She had never considered the significance of her
turned away. She looked a little ashamed as well. “Well, it's
not just Kamila... Kathryn was thinking the same thing.”
Sighing, she looked up at Renee and frowned. “And I hate to say
it, but I'm kinda on their side with this. Sorry.”
like that, Renee was on her own too.
the time, Molly waited for new students to cause trouble before
breaking them. But every so often, someone would come along that
she just knew would be problematic. In those cases, she took the
initiative and called a meeting with the would-be freedom
fighter. As far as threatening her position, she doubted Sho was
all that dangerous. The quiet, scary kid was never going to move
an entire populace to revolution, at least not at this school.
But it was a good opportunity to feel him out.
day pushed their appointment back a day but he did arrive,
ignoring Claude and deliberately striding into Molly's office.
He moved slowly, took a chair before Molly asked him to and
glared at her. She wasn't sure if these were natural movements
or he was just trying to scare her, but they worked. It took a
moment for her to collect herself and remember her own arsenal
of intimidation tactics.
contemptuous as possible, she began, “I just wanted to welcome
you to this school. I understand Claude gave you the initial
introduction while I was away on business, but I like to meet
with new students personally so they understand what is...
expected of them.”
drawing out the 'expected' to make it sound more sinister made
kids squirm. Sho merely folded his arms; his head jostled a
little but his glare held.
the initial ground rules, detailing the mandated subservience to
faculty, administration and council, she handed him a folder,
embossed with the school insignia. “We also collect student
dues. Just a small payment every month or so to fund homecoming,
class trips, riot police, espionage, prom... the usual. Claude's
very good at reminding kids to pay up, so don't worry if you
forget the first time.” Sho took the folder, opened it, skimmed
the top page and looked back up at her- no reaction.
Normally, this was the part where even the most passive student
would be outraged by the blatant extortion attempts, giving
Molly the chance to crush them completely. His lack of emotion
made her worry. “Do you understand?” she asked, slowly. He
have any questions?”
shook his head, still slow, still glaring. Five minutes in and
he had not said a word nor inflected a thing. Molly felt it
futile to continue probing him. “Then you are dismissed.”
and slowly stepped out of the office, glaring once more at Molly
before shutting the door behind him.
you think?” Molly asked.
appeared, stepping out of a circle in the corner. He turned off
a video camera. “How'd you do this invisibility circle without
rolled her eyes. Molly had copied a few of the more useful
spells, but that wasn't what she meant. “What do you make of
if he is a demon, he's doing a really bad job of blending in.”
his head, a little concerned. “If we were looking for a Hokoni,
I wouldn't suspect him. But we're talking about a Hageshoni.
Sometimes they just aren't concerned with hiding themselves.”
can't accomplish much uncloaked.”
closed her eyes and took a few breaths. She was afraid he'd say
to be reassuring, he said, “That's why I taped it. I'll send it
to the office to look over.”
I'll just put it on YouTube. And that folder had a spell to
record biometrics. They can draw all sorts of stuff from that.
If he is a demon, we'll know in a few days and take him out.”
would have you capture a Hageshoni?” Molly said, not masking her
shook his head rapidly. The thought scared him too. “Not alone I
won't. I'll bring backup. And we'll wait for Miguel to take out
that mark again.”
Take out the mark, take out the demon... just like that.”
took a deep breath and nodded. One meeting with Sho and she
didn't know if she could last a week with him, let alone four
months if he wasn't actually demonic.
we do until then?” she asked.
drastic. Don't do anything to make him think we're onto him. If
you keep tabs on him, do it through Claude. I don't want you or
anybody else getting too close.”
reminded him of the Kamila situation. He wasn't sure if that
complicated matters or not. Kamila was a friend of the group,
and naturally somebody that had to be protected, but she was not
in the MST.
Molly caught him pondering the problem in his head and wanted
Grimacing, Kurt explained, “Oh, uh... one of Kathryn's friends
is going out with him.”
blinked. “Kathryn has strange friends.”
don't know if that interferes or not.”
and I can break them up.”
frowned at her. “That's your solution for everything, isn't it?”
Molly leaned back, somewhat offended. “Don't worry about it.
Kamila's tough enough to avoid being taken advantage of and I
don't want you making a scene.”
enough, Molly reasoned, but she still needed to do something. It
wasn't her nature to sit by and let the higher powers resolve
this. But resigned to his advice, all she could do was stand and
slowly walk out of the room with Kurt. “Understandable. I'll
still feel better getting regular reports from Claude.”
opening the door into the public world, Kurt said, “We'll take
care of this. We're not being caught by surprise this time.”
looked down. “I know. But given how badly they've handled prior
incidents and how unpredictable the Hageshoni can be... I can't
help but feel a little worried.”
opened the door, casually and absent-mindedly setting a hand on
her shoulder as they passed through. “Trust me, it's under
control this time.” Molly didn't shrug it off at first. Kurt had
to remove it himself before he walked out into the hallway. He
took one last look at Molly, who stared down blankly before
picking herself back up and turning to boss around Claude.
in paradise?” muttered Kathryn, somewhere where Kurt couldn't be
sure whether or not she was being sarcastic. Either way, she
startled him and he jumped.
He forced a smile.
was no sarcasm when she frowned and asked, “Is something wrong?”
looked back at Molly, who had miraculously recovered and was
barking at Claude. Turning back to Kathryn, he figured he had to
follow his own guidelines. “Just some routine business. Tying up
narrowed; he knew immediately that she'd sniffed out his lie.
“Doesn't look too routine,” she said, bitter.
I...” He tried looking her in the eyes, but Kathryn wanted
answers he knew he shouldn't provide. He didn't want to tell her
Kamila was dating a suspected demon. Even if she had heard it
from Yuki, telling her something that frightening was beyond
him. “...it's private. I don't want it going around. I'll talk
to you later.”
turned around and walked away, ignoring her calls for him. Cold
as he knew it was, there was no way he could tell her. And the
only way to avoid telling her was to leave her, much as both of
them hated it.
lasting image in Kathryn's mind after the incident had nothing
to do with Kurt. Okay, it had everything to do with Kurt, but it
was the vulnerable look on Molly's face that Kathryn was fixated
on for the rest of the day. Like most students, she had bought
into the notion of Molly being the unflinching stone wall as
pictured in the pro-council propaganda. To see her otherwise was
a bit jarring, particularly given whom she was with.
“Something wrong?” Troy asked. Normally, Kathryn had finished
half of her lunch before the sophomore trio arrived at the
table. Today she was well behind her pace, staring blankly at
the student council office at the other side of the room.
shook herself out of her trance and replied, “Yeah, Kurt was
talking to Molly again this morning.”
looked down. “Oh,” he said, not particularly enthusiastic. He
considered letting the conversation end there, but clearly
something was bothering Kathryn and it was sort of his job to
wrestle it out. “What for?”
won't say. That's what bothers me. And there's gotta be
something going on because Molly looked a little scared.”
his attention. “Molly? Scared?” After some thought, he added, “I
suppose that's conceivable.”
nodded. “Yeah, I guess. But honestly, she never looks scared.
God forbid she look human. But there she was... something's
going on, Troy.”
that?” Marie asked, as she and Kamila took their assigned seats.
Yuki was behind them.
nothing,” Troy said, rather unconvincingly. Marie narrowed her
eyes at him.
to bail him out, Kathryn said, “Another thing with Kurt. Don't
worry about it.”
worrying about it. It's fun,” Kamila said.
got your own boy to argue with now. Leave mine alone.”
shuddered. “Please. Can we not bring up him?”
nodded in agreement. When she noticed the empty seat next to
Yuki, a new topic emerged. “Hey, we missing somebody? Where's
Everybody looked at the vacancy. Indeed, Renee was gone. They
hadn't really noticed until Kathryn brought it up. The
speculation over whether she was in school that day went
nowhere. Finally, Marie settled it, pointing at a distant table.
There Renee sat, smiling neutrally and laughing politely with
three boys- all of whom could only be described using the word
were diverse enough- the skinny one, the overweight one and the
medium one with the extra-unsightly glasses and braces to
compensate. All perfectly decent gentlemen to be sure, but their
lack of social grace and unfortunate complexions left them
towards the bottom on the social ladder. Not that they cared:
their vast knowledge transcended the high school food chain.
Still, they greeted Renee's presence with some degree of
hanging out with Ben's group?” Yuki remarked, a little
clicked her tongue. “She ditched us for the geeks. That kinda
Kamila; she chuckled to herself. “Good,” she mumbled under her
Kathryn was on that immediately.
continued to snicker. “Nothing...”
turned away from Kathryn and found Troy glaring back. “What did
you do?” he said, surprisingly terse.
you a favor,” she muttered. “That girl's trouble. She needed a
kick in the pants and I gave her one.”
didn't know what that meant. He wasn't sure he wanted to know.
He also knew he wasn't going to get an honest answer from Kamila
anyway. Turning back to the far table, Renee seemed happy with
the geeks. Certainly, they had enough common interests to hold
her attention. But then she looked back and met his eyes. Renee
immediately frowned and looked away.
Marie asked. He returned his attention to the group. Kamila was
sneering back, while Kathryn was averting her eyes. “You okay?”
his head. “I would just like to know what's going on.”
Kamila snapped back. “She was making things uncomfortable. It's
better with just us.”
course it was uncomfortable. It's been uncomfortable since she
started eating with us.” Troy's voice grew louder. “What's going
on now that made you decide to... scare her away or whatever you
you sticking up for her all of a sudden?”
still a friend. And whatever you did to her, it's probably not a
good way to treat one.”
turned back to Renee's new table. There was no Renee. Scanning
the room, he found her walking out of the cafeteria. Troy
abruptly stood up and followed her, ignoring any of the
questions and comments from below.
was gone, Kathryn grumbled, “Uh oh.”
darted between her and where Troy had left the room. “You think
he's coming back, right?”
wasn't encouraging enough. Marie folded her arms and rested her
chin on them.
verifying that Troy really was gone, Kathryn turned to Marie.
“Hey, what are you doing this weekend?”
looked at Kathryn, but didn't move. “Nothing special,” she said,
a little sour, “Why?”
lifted her head. “Not in a long time. Why?
“Family's going up to Mansfield Saturday. Said I could bring
someone along. Interested?”
glancing at Yuki and Kamila, who were barely paying attention,
she turned back to Kathryn, surprised at the offer. “Well yeah.
But wouldn't you rather take Kurt or Troy?”
don't deserve it. Besides, it would be nice to get away from
them for a day and just have some fun ourselves. You know, talk
smack about 'em, have cute guys hitting on us all day. It'll be
nodded. “Yeah, that does sound pretty nice. Although like I said
I haven't gone skiing in forever.”
have I. Who cares?”
I'm in.” Marie smiled. In spite of the tensions with Troy, Renee
and Kamila, it did make her feel better.
we're left out,” Kamila facetiously muttered to Yuki.
not spying on Troy and Renee again,” Yuki replied. “Forget it.”
snickered. “You're no fun.”
caught up to Renee in the hallway and called her name. She
turned and stopped, standing upright. She looked a little
surprised, a little hopeful. “What's going on?” he asked. “Why
are you hanging out with Ben Wharton all of a sudden?”
sighed. “Ben and his friends are awesome. They're really great
looked down. “I don't feel welcome anymore.”
shook her head. “She was the one that finally came out and said
it. But it's her... Kathryn... heck, even Yuki.” Shrugging, she
added, “Marie too, I imagine.”
widened. Yes, he was aware that Renee struggled to gain
acceptance in his little circle. But he had always assumed it
was limited to mere awkwardness. Open hostility was another
matter, especially with Kathryn and Yuki.
going on with them?”
bit her lip and looked away. She had to say something. And bad
as it made her look, her only real option was the truth.
think I'm just trying to get closer to you.”
moment, Troy forgot how to breathe. Other than that, he didn't
really react. Once he was able to exhale, he replied, “Is that
sniffed. “Yeah, kinda.” Renee looked up at him. He was at a
total loss for words. She went on, “I didn't even think about it
like that. It didn't even seem wrong. I just... wanted to be
looked around. There were no hidden cameras or loudspeakers or
slimy henchmen in sight. She was actually doing what he thought
she was doing, with no catch.
she asked, getting him to immediately meet her eyes again. Once
he was staring back, it took her a moment to find the words.
“If... if I was maybe wanting to get back together with you...
w-what would you say?”
being unable to comprehend the question, unwilling to ponder the
consequences and unnerved by the whole encounter, his answer was
said, softly, but decisive.
later, Renee heard it. She needed to repeat it to make sure.
he shook his head. “I'm with Marie.”
drooped. “You really like her better than me?”
didn't say that,” he rushed to reply. “But I do like her. And I
would never do something like that to her.”
nodded. That was probably a positive trait, much as it worked
against her. “I guess I blew my chance, huh?”
scoffed. “Yeah... I mean, where was this when Molly was ruining
my life? She's keeping me away from everything after school,
having Claude follow me all the time? You didn't consider maybe
sticking up for me back then?”
sorry...” She looked down. “I didn't dream of it back then. I
didn't realize just how special you were. It just took some time
at the aca-”
stopped to let a girl pass through the hallway. She seemed a
little pained to pause right there. Troy waited for the
interloper to go by, then took Renee's wrist and fired off a
teleportation spell. They reached a shady spot behind the
school. “Go on,” he insisted.
shivered; it was still January. “Yeah, everything at the
academy, the way you fought those demons... you're amazing.”
didn't take the compliment well. In fact, he was almost ready to
cry. “You know, half the reason I was willing to play along with
the MST was because I thought I just might be able to impress
you.” He turned away. “Why'd you wait until now?”
shook her head. “Troy, it took time for me to see all that. But
Marie's not in it at all. She can't see any of it. She doesn't
understand what's going-”
likes me anyway,” he said, louder. Eyebrows narrowed, he was
suddenly angrier. “She doesn't need any of that. She doesn't
need me to cast a spell or save her life or fight demons. Marie
figured out what I have to offer from the start. Don't bring
magic into this.”
went- the one tenuous link to Troy she had been clinging to. She
was a mage, Marie wasn't, and that gave her the edge. Not so
much, as it turned out.
started into his trigger, looking ready to leave her there
without another word. But looking at her once more, he frowned
and said, “You know I wanted to believe that you really were
sitting with us so you could get to know me and Kathryn and Yuki
better. That you actually wanted to try being friends with Marie
and Kamila. I liked you, Renee. I really did. I probably still
do. But ever since you started hanging out with us I kinda hoped
that you weren't interested in me anymore. It would have made
everything you've done seem... well... decent.”
he could say any more, and he considered it, he teleported back
inside. Renee lingered in the cold for a while longer.
and Kathryn went to dump off their trays, hit the bathroom and
presumably have another heart-to-heart over the state of Marie's
relationship. Kamila and Yuki remained at the table, where they
were determined not to feel left out.
of some conversation to facilitate this, Yuki said, “So, uh...
how is everything with you and Sho?”
Why?” Kamila answered, absent-minded.
asking. It's still hard to talk about him around Marie, isn't
looked down. “Yeah.”
not really fair.” Yuki's own opinion of Sho aside, she did sort
of sympathize with Kamila. He was apparently important to her
and she was essentially forbidden from discussing him.
the table, Kamila lifted her head. “Hey, how about you? What are
you doing Saturday?”
open. Wanna do something with Kathryn and Marie gone?”
I'll bring Sho along. You can actually meet the guy. He's not so
hesitated for a moment. Whether the way her friends stifled
Kamila was fair or not, Sho was still a possible demon and she
was still leery of spending time with him. Still, it was
difficult to turn down an honest request. Perhaps it would help
the investigation. Heck, perhaps Kamila would prove to be right
and Sho would turn out to be a nice guy.
sure. Where should we meet?”
about outside the school? About ten o'clock?”
date!” Yuki said. Both she and Kamila smiled.
you've got a boyfriend too, Yuki?” Kathryn said, returning to
her seat with Marie.
Yuki and I are gonna hang out Saturday while you're out of
town,” Kamila replied. Kathryn nodded.
snickered. “Nope. To hell with him. Where'd he go anyway?”
arrived a few moments later, falling into his chair unhappily.
At first he didn't acknowledge the rest of the group, focusing
solely on what was left of his lunch. It had gone cold.
gently set a hand on his wrist. “Troy?”
turned to her suddenly, set his hands on her shoulders and
swooped in for a prolonged kiss. Kathryn and Kamila's eyes
bulged. So did Marie's, although she closed them immediately and
blissfully let him do his thing.
Troy finally pulled away, he went back to his lunch without
for the ride, Kurt,” Yuki said as he pulled his car up to the
school that Saturday.
problem,” Kurt replied. “Sure I can't tag along? With Kathryn
gone, I'm bored as hell.”
looked around the lot cautiously, then turned back. “Actually,
really bad saying this, but she's bringing Sho along. I don't
suppose you could keep an eye on us to make sure he doesn't do
frowned for a moment, but she was definitely serious. He
couldn't blame her. Chuckling, he replied, “No problem. Nothing
else to do today.”
sighed. “Thanks. I know I'm being a little paranoid, but he
still creeps me out.”
creeps everybody out. Except Kamila, apparently.”
don't think he'd attack me, do you?”
shook his head. “Even if he was a demon, he wouldn't attack you
with Kamila around. And I'm not so sure he is now. One test
already came back negative.”
raised an eyebrow. “Which test?”
sighed. “Sho had nothing to do with the marking in the dark
her uneasily, he replied. “Not really. We're at a dead end now.
And it doesn't help to remove the marking when someone can just
make a new one whenever he wants.”
Molly should get fingerprints from everybody in school. I'm sure
she can arrange it.”
Yuki looked out the window. “So I guess watching us would be a
waste of time?”
shrugged. “Like I said, I'm bored. Besides, this is technically
work for me, so I'll get paid for it.”
cell phone rang. She checked it, but didn't answer. “That's
Kamila. I'd better get going. See you!”
grinned. “Not if I can help it.”
Appropriately, Kamila was waiting by the practice field,
throwing a football to Sho. To Yuki's surprise, he actually
caught it and threw it back. It was an awkward, sloppy throw,
but at least he was playing along.
Yuki!” Kamila shouted, “Jump on in. Weather's perfect!”
looked up and smiled. Less than a week after the ice storm, the
sun was out on a beautiful 40 degree day. She could only wonder
how bad the skiing conditions were for Kathryn and Marie.
up!” An incoming football interrupted her thoughts. Yuki got her
hands up in time to bobble it. She picked it up from the grass
and threw it back. It flew like a wounded duck. Her form was as
bad as Sho's, without any muscle to compensate.
bounced once or twice before Kamila picked it up. “I'm dealing
So what are we doing today?”
know,” she replied, tossing to Sho. “Food. Goofing off. Same as
always, I guess.”
what you two usually do on dates?” Yuki asked.
returned the ball to Kamila. She sent it to Yuki and said,
“Yeah, pretty much. Sho's not really the romantic type.”
couldn't comment as it took all her concentration to catch the
ball. She managed to and heaved it back to Kamila.
everybody going through me today!” Kamila exclaimed with mock
anger. She threw it to Sho. “You two can throw it to each other
too, you know.”
As if on
command, Sho turned to Yuki. The girl steeled herself for his
pass. Although his throws had been far weaker than Kamila's,
something about the idea of playing catch with him made her
was no need to worry: the throw was not only weak, but high and
off line. Yuki made a half-hearted effort to catch it, but it
sailed over her head. She grumbled and chased after it. Not only
was that demeaning, but she'd also have to run all the way back
to enter the pitifully narrow range where she could actually
reach Kamila. Already she was longing for a new activity.
rolled up against the side of the school. As she picked it up,
she could feel the awful sensation of something heading her way.
By the time she turned around, the brick exterior of the wall
had jutted out of the building and enveloped itself around her
remained exposed, and she could see Sho striding slowly toward
her. His expression hadn't changed, but now his arms were out in
front of his face, hands on his shoulders. The wall around Yuki
started constricting. The moment she realized that he was a
demon was the same moment she realized that this demon was
trying to kill her.
screamed, but the wall prevented her heaving, squeezing tighter
against her chest. The only other person she could see was
Kamila. Kamila was still on the field, her head turned away and
her arms folded. Not concerned, not pleased... just impatient.
“Kamila!” Yuki shouted with one of the few gasps she figured
she'd have left. Kamila didn't respond. If she did, it was
nothing more than a head shake. It dawned on Yuki that they must
have been in displacement, where the unattune wouldn't notice
anything amiss. To Kamila, Yuki and Sho had just run off
somewhere and wherever they went, it wasn't out of the ordinary.
Help!” It didn't stop Yuki from trying again. The brick wall
threatening to crush her ribcage was a different matter.
the ground, Kamila sighed.