Goldfish In the Ocean (Part 2)
A Second Generation Whateley Academy Adventure
A Goldfish in the Ocean
Friday, September 23, 2016 - 4:01 pm
BMA Training hall
“Come on, Vic! You have to twist your hips when you kick. Like this!”
“Like this?” Vic muttered before steadying his breath for an attack of his own, mimicking his tutor. Pulling back his leg before throwing it forward repeating step by step… though he did it so slow, he wobbled awkwardly, making it look like he was pulling some sort of balancing act.
“Yeah, that’s the stuff. You have to do it, ahem, faster.”
“Like this?” Vic muttered as he pulled back his leg and repeated the action, as asked, faster.
“Good! Again!” the instructor barked approvingly.
Vic pulled his leg back into the starting position and repeated the motion again. And again. Each time putting more hip into the swing. More power on the foot and less trepidation until the last one was too much, almost tossing himself down to the floor as his body spun.
“You need to be careful there,” the instructor laughed.
“I think he’s getting it,” said the onlooker.
“I can see that, Tanya. Do you want to take over?”
“I’m a bit out of practice. I tend to punch more,” was Tanya’s answer. Although the way the corner of her mouth tilted itself into a smile would tell the observants that she was just enjoying the time together.
“Very well. Now then, the next step is to try to aim higher. Your kick goes as far as to my hip and kicks like that can be dangerous… for you.”
“Really? Wouldn’t it hurt?” Vic asked.
“Yeah. It would. But there aren’t any organs in the hips, just bone, so you might feel the hard part. It’s also some people’s center of gravity, so that adds to the resistance… At least that’s how I was taught. I might be remembering it wrong though.”
“An exemplar remembering wrong?” Vic mocked, knowing that he would be paying back for that later.
“It was before I was an exemplar. Besides, you only remember what interests you… in most cases.”
“Now. What we might want to do is add to the range of the swing. Try to kick higher and reach my hand.” She presented her open palmand held it up to her head, only to, after Vic’s frowned looks, lower it to her waist.
“I’m afraid that’s as high as I go.” Already, Vic’s leg was starting to feel tired after a whole day of kicking, jumping, running and walking to class.
But regardless, he humored the tutor. It wasn’t until his foot left the ground that he realized he’s fallen for ploy. The moment his leg was in the air, it was suddenly caught by the girl’s nimble hand and, with an iron grip, lifted up higher and higher. “Ow ow ow! Okay Erica, that’s enough. Ow!” The foot made it as high as her chest, shoulders and almost to the head, but not without the toll to pay in the form of stretching ligaments to the breaking point that would definitely be felt much later. An uncomfortable burning agony down his inner thighs, knees and calves.
“See, Oma once told me. If you want to be flexible you have to stretch and break your ligaments and muscles so they grow stronger. It’s not simple…”
And that’s not mentioning the odd feeling of being exposed to a member of the fairer gender. While Vic could tell that Erica was probably blushing, even if her face wasn't red, at least she had the modesty to look away as she drove the explanation home.
“Erica please, that’s enough.” Tanya said though barely containing her laughs as Vic tried to hop around. Fortunately she obliged not long after, letting him land on the floor safely with both legs just in time to feel the inward scream of muscles die down. Certainly not the ideal feeling to have between two friends who happened to be cute girls, in particular Tanya.
“And here I thought this would be easy.”
“Hey, martial arts is all about practice and sweat, and blood and more practice. Not easy. Like the force.” Erica laughed. “You don’t want the easy route, right?”
“No, I don’t want the dark side. But I wouldn’t say I’m force sensitive.”
Picking Erica for this sort of training was quickly becoming something of a regret. But there was quite a limited list of people Vic could’ve approached asking for some unofficial tutoring with Basic Martial Arts class yesterday.
He considered asking Tolman-sensei for private lessons or a tutor, someone who could help him not get his ass handed to him during the sparring matches. But with no actual urgency to get better at it and still being within the first months of the school year, it would probably go as good as Tia complaining her ears being big to an elephant. Quite needless, if not laughable.
No. The simplest option was to get someone to teach him and, for convenience sake, he considered asking someone from his cottage first. Though selection was slim as he didn’t feel particularly tight with any of his fellow freshmen. Many were in Survival class while the few others like Hardnose or Bacon didn’t seem that well versed in self defense other than relying on their ‘always on’ super powers to deal with stuff. Not to mention they didn’t seem like the tutoring kind. Thinking of his closer circle of friends, there was Jimmy, who was busy most of the time, and Kenshin was Kenshin.
So, Vic had to fall back onto his girl-friends for help, as much as he disliked the idea of looking wimpy before them… but with the streak of defeats he tended to have in BMA, that was hardly a reason to play tough. At the end of the day, he could only aspire to get better and if he really wanted, he had to lean on others for help.
The first option was Laura, who claimed to have received proper training but had the look of a driven tinkerer most of the time, the kind he knew would be out of commission for at least a couple times a week. Probably doing something for Cally’s band or Morgana. Speaking of which, Welsh Morgana was also considered shortly after, given how strong she was in comparison. Although, the more he considered her, the more he remembered that her exploits in sparring performance were a result of her powers. And not just that, but he imagined she would end up cracking teases at him every now and then.
Bianca was also out of the question: there was no way he was facing the rumored ‘mafia’ princess in private lessons without facing any kind of social consequence. The same was triple for Hikaru (he anticipated her letting out a modest laugh and then asking if he was being serious were he to ask her).
Fortunately, the last two options were perhaps the best ones: Erica and Tanya. Cool and geeky while the other was friendly, loyal and cute.
“Now, you have to practice that several more times until it’s perfect.” Erica mused at the end of the hour, standing proudly while prompting herself a nervous smile as she saw Vic rest down on the ground, massaging his thighs and calves.
“I think I’ll have an even harder time walking back today.” He couldn’t exactly blame the sparring session for feeling with his limbs disjointed, but after long days and evenings with the same whip-cracking regime, exhaustion, if not boredom was already getting to him. “But I guess it’s something I have to practice on.”
“Relax. You don’t have to overdo it,” Tanya said offering Vic a bottle of water. A clean one.
“I just don’t want to fail BMA.”
“Pftt… you can’t fail BMA,” Erica mused.
“Can you, though?” Tanya asked, truly pensive. “Do we get graded on how many matches we win or lose.”
“I always thought of it more of a school year wide tournament. In which case I would be losing.” At least, knowing that he might’ve assumed wrong of the class was reassuring. For the best, he hoped that Erica was right because that would mean a load off his head and one less concern.
“Regardless, Vic. You don’t have to overdo it.” Tanya shook her head and corrected him.
“Yeah, you need to relax… what do you do for fun?” Erica asked, barely passing a towel over her brow.
“For fun?” Vic mumbled, trailing himself into a long “uh” as he made an effort to come up with something that wasn’t studying. Yet all options sounded much more like lies than anything. “I’m going to play the poor card.”
“Oh, really?” Erica blurted out. “You could’ve told me, I would’ve invited you to dungeons and dragons party wipes. What about you, Tanya?”
The lavender-haired-pint-sized wonder just made an effort to look aloof yet couldn’t keep her eyes away from her friends before she was brought to words. “Well… um, I usually help around with Miss Savage, and hang out with Sterling, though sometimes I do forget I was hanging out with her and it feels like… I did… nothing.” There came the realization that she was in no better standing than Vic.
“You two are a pair, did you know that?” Erica muttered with her eyes picking the brief moment both people blushed and their gazes avoided each other. She grinned, somewhat sadly, as she picked up on that.
“Hey… Didn’t we agree on going to Berlin this weekend?”
Erica snapped her fingers. “That’s right, we did. Are we still up for that?”
“We said tomorrow, right?” Vic muttered. “I’m down for with it.”
“I can… No, shoot. I can’t Saturday. Promised I would help a friend and I think we’d be cutting it close to make the preparations.”
“It’s okay.” Erica added. “I agreed to hang out with Chessa, polishing some character sheets for the rest of the day. I was actually thinking of going on Sunday. Gives me the chance to ask them if they want me to get them something from a game store.”
“Besides, I think we have to get permission from our house parents, right?” Tanya wondered.
“It probably wouldn’t hurt,” Vic muttered. “I’ll ask Mr. Filbert or Shawn when I get back.”
“And I’ll ask Mrs. Savage later today. I’m helping her deliver some stuff into Whitman.” Tanya said so earnestly, she got a small pat on the head from Erica.
“So we agree to it then? We go to Berlin on Sunday, spend some time looking around stores, malls or whatever. Get Vic a tablet or a new computer and then get nerdy stuff for fun.”
Poe Cottage, Front yard
At this time of the day, with classes having reached the end and the weekend upon them, many Poesies were making their way back to the cottage for some R&R. The secrets everyone within this cottage shared certainly made them a bit more of an isolated group when compared to the other cottages, but the bonds were strong… for the most part. And for the customary movie night, the idea of popcorn and drinks was incredibly attractive. As they reached the front yard, many would find Christina Cobryn, also known as Celerity, being in celebration for the next two days of sliding down easy street. The girl wasn’t exactly a ballet dancer, but she enjoyed showing out the things her body could do, while having fun.
She let her body roll over the concrete path, crisscrossing her legs before turning her way back and pulling a couple of fast jumps that bore incredible grace speediness, adding a couple of consecutive twirls which, with a bit of polish and practice, would’ve been at home at an ice skating show. She did this while amusing herself gazing at her friends’ reactions. Gwen held out her hand, almost preparing herself to catch her, while Ping just contented herself with smiling.
Despite Chris’s aloofness, she did end up falling at the climax of her triple jump. Every bounce off the ground had gained her more and more speed until she wasn’t able to handle the inertia on the landing. The saving grace was that her powers kicked in, surrounding her, in particular, her hands and arms, in a maroon aura.
Her fall and forward momentum slowly halted itself, as if the air around her became molasses, allowing her legs to catch up with her and stop the fall. And with a snap of her wrist, she released herself into a modest landing and carried on as if nothing had happened. Letting herself roll around the bench she’d reserved for the duration of her show. She made a simple skip, grinding on the edge of the seat with her skates all the way to the end, or at least, she tried to. Her steps stumbled near the end, forcing her to improvise a handstand on the back rest before finally putting her feet on neutral and on the floor.
“How was that?” Chris asked. “A bit too exemplary?”
“I don’t know. Don’t know much of the tricks people do at skate parks,” Gwen admitted.
“I don’t, either,” Chris said sheepishly, rubbing the underside of her nose.
“It feels a bit too show offy,” Leslie added. “I don’t think normal skaters can pull a handstand that easily when they are about to fall…”
“Fair enough,” Chris conceded, rolling herself around the bench before making a smooth sliding sit that would probably end up caking her pants with dust. An action Gwen felt would get her a reprimand from somebody in the future. “I do have to polish some of the moves. But I suppose it’s just a matter of looking natural.”
“Mhm…” Leslie smirked, reaching over to help her as she removed her rollerblades. “As natural as possible when you can suddenly accelerate or decelerate your body.”
“That was a reflex.” Chris argued, grabbing her shoes from underneath the bench and slipping them on. “I wanted to avoid falling. That can hurt, you know?”
“You are really set on being a roller jockey star?” Les pointed out, picking up the skates and trying to shake the mud off.
“No. I just want to… I mean. I want some fun. Some good ole fun,” Chris added shaking her head.
“She wants attention,” Gwen said with a knowing smile.
“Hey,” Chris pouted.
“Were you aspiring to be an athlete before manifesting?” Leslie asked.
Chris shook her head. “Nah… I was a normal teen. A bit on the overweight side before I accidentally screwed my BIT. Not sure what I would’ve ended,” having said that, she moved her arms down her body. “I suppose this was a good outcome rather than the one that could’ve been. I could’ve ended up as a tub of lard or an insect for all I knew.” When she got a look from Leslie she went into defensive. “It’s not like I couldn’t have trained hard into becoming a pro skater-slash-racer-slash-athlete. It’s not an option now.”
“There’s some prejudice against mutants when it comes to sport.” Gwen added into the conversation. “Heard of a gold medalist that was found out of having a mutant trait. Apparently, the MCO tested him positive in one of the sudden checks. All of the gold medals he had up to that point were revoked because of that. The man claims he wasn’t even aware of his powers.”
“Think I heard of that,” Leslie added. “The guy suddenly disappeared from the radar.”
“Regardless,” Chris weighed in as she picked up her rollerblades, cleaning them against the grass. “I want to show off my tricks and not the fact that I have powers that prevent me from getting hurt. The last thing I want is to be called a cheater.”
“You don’t want to be declared a ‘cheater’?” Gwen pointed out.
“Yeah… You know, by the people watching,” Chris said, dodgingly as she tried to walk past them.
“Chris, you’re not planning to participate in the contest… are you?”
“Eh… maybe? I mean, if the judges think I would be worth including during the final rounds or so, who am I to refuse.” She said sheepishly though the glint in the corner of her eye just told Gwen that she was hoping that was the case. “Come on, Gwen. You know I’m not that oblivious or reckless… or vain.”
Gwen raised an eyebrow. Though before she could scramble for the words ‘you’re not answering the question’ out of her mouth, Ping stepped in. “So, when are you two going?”
“It’s three of us. Malefis was there when I told them about the skate park, and she seemed like she needed a day in town. You can come too, Ping, if you want.”
“I’d love to, but you haven’t even told me when.”
“Oh, right.” Chris said sheepishly. “It’s in Berlin. Sunday sounds about right, don’t you think? Think that’s when the competition begins.”
“You’re not sure?” Gwen asked.
“I can check it out later.” Chris added almost instantly, putting an arm around her friend.
“Ease up, Star. It’s not a big deal. You and Malefis are probably going to hang around in the mall while Chris has her fun showing off.” Leslie giggled.
“I can’t help but wonder, what would our chaperone say if she knew you’re going to the skate park to show off. Those rollers of yours aren’t exactly conspicuous,” Gwen smiled knowingly slipping off Chris’ hold and unflattening her hair.
“Yeah, you know,” Gwen said slowly, though with her tone and Leslie chuckling on the side, it was apparent that the two roommates shared the same thought. “Please tell me you didn’t forget to get a chaperon.”
“We didn’t need chaperone’s last year,” Chris muttered.
“That was then. This is post Carson whateley. Rules are a bit tighter now.”
“And we did have chaperones in all those times out. You just never noticed them.” Leslie added while Chris’ face was lost in recollection. ”Do you remember Claudia, Joe and their bus? They were in the seniors in charge of the group visiting Berlin.”
“That’s why they tagged along?” Chris blurted out as if it were a solution to a mystery. “I always wondered why it was always those two seniors.”
“So… yeah. Without those two and their service, we have no way nor permission to get to Berlin.”
“Shoot. And I haven’t even told Caro about the day.”
“She does have to get her glamours approved by Whateley’s staff… but I’d worry more about finding someone that will take us there. From what I know, Sunday is either mourning for the end of the weekend or slacking and relaxing time.”
“Hmm…” Chris muttered clasping Gwen’s hands just to look at her eyes. Her head down and a quiver on her lips before saying in her sweetest and most immature “Gwen… can you help me find a chaperon?”
“Oh no no no no.” Gwen shook her head, almost frantically. “I’m not doing it this time. You have to take care of that.”
“But you know more seniors and juniors.”
“And so do you,” Gwen couldn’t help herself with a chuckle.
“Yeah, but they like you. Besides, you know I trust you to take notice of the little details.”
Leslie chimed in. “You probably need to find someone who’s already heading to Berlin this Sunday, because I doubt you’ll get someone to change their plans and jump through all those hoops for you.”
“Sorry, I’m still baffled that you didn’t realize Claudia, Joe and co were doing favors to us all those times.”
“I guess it slipped my attention.” Chris said, building the determination with her voice and hands. “Alright, Fine.”I’ll get us a chaperon by Sunday. How difficult can it be?”
“You can do it.”
“You shouldn’t ask that question. It’s basically asking for bad luck.” Leslie pointed out with a small bit of amusement. Though upon checking her wristwatch she frowned. “Well, I have to head back to my room. I’m pooped after classes and a good bed would probably be something my body yearns for.”
“Have a nice time.”
“See ya later.” And with that, Leslie walked back into the cottage.
“Gwen. Do you have any advice for my quest?” Chris asked once the waving stopped.
“The best option is to just ask around. House mothers are also another good option. They tend to keep track of who’s going to town, so maybe Mrs. Horton can point you in the right direction.”
“It’s worth a shot… though I wonder if she would tell me, knowing me.”
“Well, you should probably also talk with Caro. She might need to know ahead of time that she has to get her glamors tested by the magic and security department.”
“Right, I should probably do that now…” Chris scooping the phone from her pocket, she began to tap down the numbers at a speedy pace, making quite an impression when she paused.
“Oh, sorry, Gwen. But…” She said biting her lip by a side while directing her gaze to the side. “Did you ever get to talk with Dereck, about that thing that happened just before school?”
“No, why do you… is he coming this way?”
Chris nodded. “And he has a bit of a determined look.”
“Oh shoot, really?” Gwen muttered, her body already preparing itself to take off. Though, that trick hasn’t worked up in a while, she thought. The idea of acting aloof was also on the table, though she tended to confuse aloof with nervous, and that just made Dereck push the inquiry. She could head back to the cottage and hide out… though Dereck running into Staulfaust was already a recipe for disaster. Maybe she could get Chris to find the femnazi before…
“As adorable as you look when you’re all panicky and jumpy like that, I really need to ask you if things are alright with Dereck.” Chris muttered putting her arms on Gwen’s shoulders.
“They’re fine. We’re fine. It’s just that. You know how he is. He worries too much about things that don’t concern him.” Gwen tittered about the idea of speaking of this out loud, worried that Dereck would pop in sooner or later. “I mean, I’m his sorta girlfriend. But I’m trying to move past the incident and, it doesn’t help that he keeps bringing it up every time we’re together.”
“Well, to be fair with him,’ Chris said diplomatically. “You do act somewhat iffy whenever we bring that subject. Probably be a good idea to share what happened with your friends.”
“It’s because it’s not easy for me to talk about. Not because its something that deals with who I’ve become casting a look back to the past. Definitely something I want or even can discuss without breaking the ‘Poesie Oath’. And as if that weren’t enough, I’ve reached the point where the secret has become a huge pain to keep, well, secret.”
“Ah, yes. The mental toll of the secret and all that.” Chris muttered. “But that’s beside the point.”
“You suck at talking with your boyfriend.”
Gwen was almost flustered but other than turning red and stammering for a couple of words. “I-wha I.”
“There he is,” Chris cut her sentence, pointing over shoulder. “Do it.”
“Gwen!” Called out Dereck. The words “Teenage heart-throb” could be the most apt description for Gwen’s boyfriend. The first eye catch about him was the youthful face adorned by enviably smooth blonde hair that was stylized in the same vein as a teen pop star or movie actor. Carrying himself with the self respect and confidence that just happened to be the allure many of the girls were looking for. The second eye catch was the body, which despite being hidden under the layers of clothing, it didn’t leave as much to the imagination. Dereck’s figure was chiseled through workout and his genes and, Gwen was sure one of the homosexual boys from Poe might end up ogling him for too long to keep the cottage’s secret.
And that was the same to Gwen, who had already had to deal with those mixed feelings when she first came to the school with varying levels of success. Even as she’d now accepted her lot in life, found it quite hard to not bite her lips while staring at him. As Caro would put it, she had a nerd soul put into a hot body. As if that were the only difference…
“Should I leave you two alone?” Chris muttered
“Just help me out here, please,” Gwen whispered under her breath while cracking a comfortable smile at Dereck. “Oh, hai Dereck! “
“Gwen,” Dereck repeated arriving into the spot to plant a kiss on the lips of his girlfriend, with the grace of kissing gouramis. “Chris,” he added acknowledging her.
Chris replied the greeting with a small hand nod as Gwen spoke up. “How were classes? You came straight after them, didn’t you?”
“They were as good as they could be, all things considered… My dad and uncle insisted on me signing up for business. It’s so boring.”
“Hehe. Figures. Isn’t your uncle, Gigaton’s manager?” To Chris this was a telltale sign that her friend was struggling to act normal before everyone.
“He’s part of the manager team. But probably the most business savvy person in the family. Dad wants me to know it as well-”
“So…” Chris added, clapping her hands to cut the conversation short. “How about we chat about this while we walk around the cottage. It always helps to clear the head. I want to celebrate that we made it through another week at this school.”
“Oh, okay… But I was thinking of talking things out with my girlfriend.” Dereck muttered, to which Gwen’s head shook subtly from side to side.
“I insist.” Chris stammered already nudging the two, with her rollerblades rattling as she pushed them.
“Is it something private that even her best friend can’t overhear?”
“It’s not,” Dereck forced himself to tell the truth.
“Then we head off… All three of us and we can talk about what needs to be, right?” As the trio began to mobilize out of the way, heading down the paved path that circled the cottage. Away from the noise and some of the whistling's that came from the inside of some of the girls thinking they were going to have first seat to teen love or drama. And it wasn’t long before Gwen noticed why Chris had been so pushy. At the entrance of the cottage was Staulfaust walking out of the front porch with her team of amazons. Looking almost as if they were ready to start a fight.
Chris, though, happened to be right. The walk was somewhat refreshing as they moved away from the bustling front of the cottage, becoming slightly more serene, if not for the occasional music inclined teenager who liked blaring out her favorite songs from the windows. With Chris following shortly after, she did spot how her friend’s hand seemed to cling onto Dereck’s for the security and comfort the young man seemed to exude. Something she found some sort of envy upon for multiple reasons. But while on the subject of checking hands, her eyes spotted the tablet he was carrying in the other.
“Hey, Der. What’s that?” Chris asked.
“Oh… I was hoping to bring this up when it was the two of us.” Dereck casted a small spiteful glare at Chris direction, who she just shrugged. “But I asked around, using some of my uncle’s contacts. You were found in Plymouth Massachusetts, right?” He directed his look to Gwen.
“Oh, Dereck, you shouldn’t have.” She added.
“I should and did it. It’s my duty as your boyfriend to defend you. And if I couldn’t protect you, I sure as hell will avenge you.”
“Way to ruin that line,” Chris thought inwardly, now with nerd spite.
“So, I did some digging,” Dereck muttered, holding up the tablet as he scrolled down logs of messages from a texting app. “They tell me that, the day after you were checked into the hospital. The police made a couple of arrests. One was of a teen and the other of a man. Both were said to beat up two superheroes, almost killing one. Anyone capable of doing that, would surely be the one who injured you.”
“Does it say anything about the person?” Chris asked with a bit of interest, though she got a piercing glare from Gwen while Dereck was distracted.
“Sadly, no. But this is good, Gwen.” Dereck muttered, halting their walk as he held his girlfriend’s hand. “This is a good thing. Now that we have a place and a name, you can face your attacker, show him how bad it is to mess with the girl I like. I can pull some of my dad’s strings and get us a meeting…”
“It’s not that guy, whoever that is. And just drop it.”
And to that, Dereck was stunned by the answer of his girlfriend. There was a glimmer of frustration in his eyes, the kind of a person who worked all night on something only to discover he’d been wrong from the start. But more prominent was the confusion as he racked his head from side to side trying to make sense of his girl’s actions. “I don’t get it.”
“Just leave it, Dereck.” Chris muttered.
“It’s so odd. You said the police in the city took care of him right? Isn’t he in police custody right now?”
“I don’t know. Either he escaped, or made it to this school or is still on the run. I don’t want to think about it.” Gwen managed to speak up her mind with a breath of relief now that the words were out.
“But, I have to know.”
“It’s Gwen’s matter. If she wants to deal with what happened this way. You can’t tell her that’s wrong,” Chris said standing next to Gwen, arms crossed. Some of the ruckus actually brought the attention of some of the girls in the dormitory, peeking their heads out of their windows to see more of the scene.
“I… Ah…” Dereck was a bit of a loss, fingers clenched into fists and face somewhat redder, but containing itself with a cooling deep breath.
“Just… please, I like you. But you have to stop making this any bigger than it has to be… okay?” Gwen said softly, reaching over to stroke his face. With that, she leaned in closer to plant a kiss square on his lips, this time with a bit more passion than the previous one, though Chris couldn’t help but make a barfing gesture as a response, though there was a couple of “aws” from the onlookers as they returned back to their business, with the juicy bits of the argument over. “I’m trying to move past it, and that doesn’t include facing him.”
“I’m sorry, Gwen. I guess I got carried along with my investigation,” Dereck spoke once their lips parted and they completed their “staring into each other’s eyes” phase that seemed to follow. “I just want you to be okay, and that means, to show those that wrong you that they will pay dearly for that.”
“I shouldn’t have been so secretive about it.” And that almost made Chris want to facepalm. “But that’s not who I am.”
“Turning the other cheek? You’re way better than I. I think I’m very lucky for having set my eyes on you.”
To that Gwen blushed, following a look of genuine sincerity that easily melted any frustration yet that only made Chris roll her eyes. Her friend might’ve been a girl for a little over a year, but she really needed to get a better grip of her emotions. She had to take this as the need to intervene.
“Oh, Gwen,” Chris noted. “Shouldn’t we going in? It’s movie night.”
“Movie wha- Oh right. Yeah , Chris is right.” She looked at Dereck somewhat innocently. “It’s movie night.”
“And we agreed to help Mrs. Horton set up the chairs.”
“Right, we agreed to set up the chairs,” Gwen parroted, though Dereck seemed to buy it.
“Drat… here I was hoping to get at least an hour with you. It’ll have to be another time,” Dereck said, “I suppose it’ll be another time.”
“Yeah,” Gwen added leaning to plant a kiss on his cheek just as Chris dragged her by the hands back into the main entrance of the building. Dereck looked longingly though still bearing a good smile on his face after the quick make up and make out session they had. No doubt calling himself a player, Chris thought as they walked.
“Thank you for that… I’m still not comfortable enough to be that close to him.”
“You have the game of a puppy.” Chris noted amused. By the time they arrived back, the amazons had already left to god knows where, which spelled a peaceful night for most of the denizens.
“Back then, you said that the person who broke your arm… he could be in this school,” Chris noted. “Is he the teenager?”
“Is he still in prison?”
“I don’t know…” she answered slowly. “He might be. But I have the feeling my Dad would’ve told me.”
“Okay… just checking,” Chris added with a small sigh. “You really have to tell me what happened then.”
“I will… eventually. I’m not feeling it today.” Gwen echoed the exhalation with her own.
Twain Cottage, Room 217
“Noo!” Came out as a holler of gibbons or hounds that followed soon after, intermixed and punctuated by laughter. It wasn’t as loud, but in a quiet room, even a buzz could be a pain. The buzz got in the way of his studying, making it quite easy to lose one’s train of thought while trying to wrap their head around abstract concepts from the book of physics.
“I won!” Came Bloodhound’s voice as he made a fake howling, or at least, Vic assumed it was fake, as it came really close to the real thing.
“Not so fast!” Another voice called in. Hardnose’s rough deep rumble, sounding surprisingly jovial in the reverie of the night. “You didn’t call ‘UNO’! That means you have to draw seven cards again.”
“What? You’re kidding?”
“I’m afraid he’s right,” said another voice, Vic guessed it was Daniel. Even the mild mannered boy’s emotions rose up upon the excitement of the night.
“I didn’t make the rules.” Hardnose reassured, though the chuckle was still in his voice. “Now draw seven more cards.”
“Is that a real rule or are you making it up?”
“It is the rule,” Vic muttered to himself, letting a sigh escape his lips as he forced himself to sit up from his bed. It was embarrassing if he were to admit that he’d spent the last couple of hours since his training with the girls, sitting down and reading down text books. Despite the progress he was making in his academic side, just hearing the laughter coming out of Humorless and Doughnut’s room was too much to ignore, and enough to make him reconsider.
“Why do you think the game is called ‘UNO’?”
“I don’t know, marketing?” That got some chuckles out of the group. And that was probably enough for Vic to handle. Closing the book and stashing it away, he caught a glimpse of the school issued laptop that rested stashed to the side and quietly thought about his step sister’s, Ronni’s, words. And then of his brief conversation with Erica earlier that day. Certainly a school life centered around studying and personal pressures was starting to sound like no life at all.
Vic got up and looked around the empty room. Even Toby’s absence, which had been something of a source of relief and relax previously was cast under a different light.
“I let them get into my head,” Vic muttered, somewhat wondering if Erica somehow got herself in contact with Veronica.
But it helped him to realize how set on this way he was. The moment he began to play with the idea of joining the rest of his classmates, a myriad of objections suddenly roused up. Something about his friends words just helped him to put all those past him and move on forward.
Out into the hallway, he deftly avoided grumpy Red’s walk down the hallway, mumbling something about the noise to which Vic was almost tempted to agree… But the guy was so irascible and just plain unlikable, he passed along. He stepped over to the room with the noise, with the doors opened and tapped it with a knuckle.
“Hey guys!” His appearance halted the game with a bit of silence as each of the players turned to look at Vic at their own leisure, issuing a greeting that suited them, mixed their surprise with the usual greeting.
“Were we being loud?” asked Daniel.
“No. I was wondering if… um.” Vic knew he was bound to choke and stammer when stating his intention. Kind of amusing considering how he entertained the idea of bringing up how he’d played the game before. Which would’ve worked better than the uncomfortable couple of seconds they got. In the end, though, he managed to get the words out. “Mind if I join you?”
“Sure,” was a simple, immediate and unanimous answer that got Daniel and Bloodhound scooching to the side to make room for him.
“Do you know to play this friendship ender, Vic?” Hardnose smirked as he passed the cards to Daniel so he could do the shuffling.
“I mean, we barely know each other, so it won’t be much of a loss,” Bacon laughed, accidentally letting a couple of snorts slip in.
“No worries, I know how to play the game.”
Whitman Cottage, Main Lounge
“I’m trying to make sure you know the risks,” Caro highlighted, using her most serious tone possible, which, coming from the horned woman with scales peeking their way on her skin, that was saying something. Yet Shisa, the cat girl who was more cat and girl and the first customer of “Malefis’ magical remedies” (which, much to her dismay, was sure would become a thing once word began to spread), remained undaunted.
“I’m already a cat, Caro. How worse can it get?”
“It might be a huge cost you won’t be able to pay or, which is more likely, might end up falling down to the other side of the balance, becoming more cat-like. You can lose your ability to talk or even think. You can also end up as a monster. Your BIT can be deformed to the point it might not even be able to sustain itself. You can end up with a disability or a super disability, and I’m just putting it mildly. “
“Is it, impossible. As in, is there no chance in absolute that I can get any better than this?” Shisa said raising her paw hands to show her tiny digits.
“Well… uh.” In truth, she thought of a couple of stories of success in mutant history, individuals that got themselves halfway to what they aspired or even managed to achieve a full fix to whatever ailment they had… but those were long-shots one wouldn’t be certain could apply to this case. Yet it was in that moment of hesitation in agreement that Shisa called out her victory.
“I’m not asking to do it now or a full reversion. Just something to hope for. To hope that will keep me from being confused with someone’s pet when I graduate.”
As if you didn’t enjoy the attention and scratches, Caro thought before launching a counter offer. “I can try to make you a glamour that’ll allow you to talk to others on equal ground. Would that be enough?”.
“What? You mean an illusion?” Shisa’s ears perked. “That wouldn’t account for my shortness… nor the fur and tail.”
“The mind can be tricked. If you see yourself as the mirror used to greet you before manifesting, before long, you might end up feeling normal.” Caro offered. Of course, this was a tall talk coming from the girl that had yet to reached that level of mastery herself. Her best illusion was one that was undone by a sneeze.
“I guess that would be something… Though I’d prefer something more tangible in the long run. At least, get back my hands to use a normal phone.” Shisa looked up at Caro and placed her paw on her thigh, telegraphing she was preparing for her invincible discharge of directed cuteness.
Caro averted her gaze, staring down at her notebook of rhymes. “I just don’t understand why you would ask me instead of one of the teachers well versed in magic… Or a devisor, that seems more up their alley with their science and stuff. Oh right… it’s because it’s dangerous.”
Shisa shook her head. “I came to you because Assay told me about you.”
“Of course she did,” Caro mumbled with a roll of her eyes.
“She wasn’t exactly clear as to what you can do, but did say that if anyone could do it, but said that you were the closest thing I would have to a “fairy godmother”.”
“How flattering,” a voice within Caro purred in delight.
Great, she’s aware. “I’m not a fairy godmother.”
“But you can do strong ‘olde magic’, right?” Shisa asked, her insistence giving way to playful curiosity. “How does it work?”
“Er… Not sure if it’s exactly ‘olde magic’. It’s more of a medieval flair that is based in, what the examiners told me, psycho linguo canalization that taps into the arcane oblation paradigm-.” Caro shook her head. “To put it in mild terms. Yes, I can do things with ease the average wizard wouldn’t be able to achieve on regular conditions. And that’s what it boils down to with me. Conditions.”
“Mayhaps one ought to keep the sense of wonder when venturing into the world of magus and witches. Lest thy wish is to follow the path of meager fun.” the spirit in Caro’s head, Grimma, mused. “Alas, I look forward to seeing where this chapter will take us.”
“Some of the more quaint elements of my magic is that it can be like writing a contract. I can, like other wizards, pay the price with my own mana and then see the effects happen. As a matter of fact, I think I’m weaker than the average magic user. Grimma, my spirit, however, changes that. She’s either very well versed in the forms of traditional magic or is incredibly powerful but has a penchant for theatrics. Which it is, I don’t know.” Grimma let out a soft chuckle in the back of Caro’s head. “But the effects can’t be argued. I can boost the effect or lower the cost of casting by adding specific clauses. The more difficult it is to come up or the higher the price, the better. The inverse is applicable as well. The more ways one has to undo the contract, the stronger the effect can become.”
“Is that why you write things down on paper?”
“Yeah. It becomes really easy to lose track of what conditions undo magic or what chinks can be spotted in the wording. Other times, it is much easier to have a paper when you’re signing a contract.” Caro said showing Shisa the book. “And before you ask, the rhyming and verses are optional. Grimma says they are instrumental to casting magic, but part of me thinks she just loves the drama.”
“It’s like sleeping beauty’s maleficent… is that why you picked that as a codename?” Shisa said.
Caro winced. “Yeah, that was before I joined the Capes on a dare. Now I feel like a walking contradiction. And that is an apt example of what I can do. The requirement is a target, in her case, is an infant who is put a curse that will trigger on a single day sixteen years from there on. The effect is a deep slumber - I know the movies and books tend to argue that it wasn’t Maleficent who worded that part, but it still applies for the example: a strong consequence. And the dispel clause is that she’ll be woken up by true loves kiss.”
“Oh ho ho. Is that what they say?” Grimma mocked.
“So the conditions must be defined and met while leeway must be given to keep it from being impossible. Sleeping beauty could’ve lost the window of opportunity in the story and getting true loves kiss is a staple of fairy tales. But altering a BIT is not only outside of any fairy tale’s jurisdiction, but also dangerous for both you and me. I can work on it in my spare time, but I can’t guarantee that it’ll work or that you might be happy.”
“But it’s worth a shot, right? Assay said you had a spirit that it’s the embodiment of fairy tales. And fairy tales are always known for the bit of magic and their fare share of transformations. So it should work out.”
“Ooh, there is no more alluring source of glee than a woman turned into a swan or a man waking up as a frog,” Grimma mused.
“Just to be sure,” Caro remarked. “Assay might have the ability of identifying mutant traits. But she’s always had problems when cataloging avatars, much less spirits or magic users.”
“You mean she’s not a fairy tale spirit?”
“I have no clue,” Caro said, feeling Grimma’s silent giggle in her head. “The researchers that tested me can’t seem to agree on what she is. Some say think she’s an ancient trickster witch spirit that inspired the brothers Grimm to write their stories. Others believe she is a personification of the masses’ sense of wonder and fantasy. Some even believe she is an inter-planar deity that happened to fall in love with the concept of fiction in this world. Since Grimma doesn’t stick to the original fairy tales but, at times, also references poetic edas, tales from Hans Christian Andersen and Lewis Carol, and even a couple more contemporary works, it is quite difficult to settle on one theory
“All of those do sound powerful.” Shisa muttered.
“Yeah… Yeah they do.” Caro could only agree reluctantly.
“Have you tried asking one of the teachers to talk with her?”
“I have, but Grimma has a mindful tongue and keeps any speculation or theory from being ascertained. Think she finds people not knowing as something… amusing.” Caro sighed in the way of her argument’s defeat. Sure, Grimma was said to be powerful, and she had heard some success stories when it came to changing ones BIT… The issue was that she was still a student, and making a change like that would be far off her area of expertise. The worst of all, it would be on her . “See, at some point, I should probably ask you for a plan B or C in case the full reversion doesn’t pan out.”
“If I can’t fully go back to normal?” Shisa muttered, trailing off in thought. Perhaps the out for the evening Caro had been waiting for.
“Then, how about you take your time and think as to what you’d be able to live with. What you find acceptable and, should worse come to happen, what would you be willing to give up? We don’t have to settle on matters today, but it’d help me to know.”
“Alright,” Shisa nodded, putting her paws off the couch’s cushion before turning around and trotting away, her little cape fluttering as she turned around a chair leg. “Caro?”
“I’m sorry if I’m insisting you in doing the impossible. I’m just happy you agreed to even try,” Shisa muttered. “Everyone is always worried when I’m around but are too afraid to tell me to deal with my changes or that there is something I can do… so I’m easily forgotten and left to the side… Even if you can’t do anything for me, I enjoy these talks.”
She didn’t even wait for an answer, instead bounced her way out of the room like a skittish cat. Without a doubt, it was a bit of a heart to heart moment aided by the fact that, despite it being Friday evening, the Whitman lounge was empty for the most part… Well, except for Sterling, the shy freshman that had the superpower of being completely invisible to most. To most. As avatars like Caro or Sequoia, the RA, had a slight bit of resistance in the form of the spiritual presence that warded off whatever effect caused her powers.
The statuesque yet colorful girl was just staring the way Shisa had left, looking with a bit of sense of longing and envy while at the same time looking almost distraught as someone who barged in into a personal moment. It was such a burden of a power, thought Caro, considering herself lucky she hadn’t gone through that kind of change herself.
“Wonder if she’ll be considering in asking,” Caro muttered with a small shrug as she leaned back along side the couch.
“I like that Shisa lass. Tis a sorrowful that cat visage will be worked on. A fine familiar she would make.” Grimma’s mental voice filled in the void of silence.
“Yeah… though we’re dealing with things we don’t understand. I’m sure that is something you can deal with.”
“My magic is all powerful. Tis the limits you set that halt whatever progress you strife for. And not just you… but everyone.”
“Are you really that powerful to change a BIT?” Caro mumbled. “Then why do I have scales and horns.”
“A choice I went for. “Grimma mused. “I kinda like it.”
“You mean you could change that at any time? Of course you could. I’m not an exemplar, so I don’t have a BIT. What am I then? Cursed?”
“Thou art but tribulations you face. What would you be were not ostracized by those who you call friends?”
“We’ll have to talk about this possibility at some point.” Caro mumbled, fishing out her cellphone for the text. It was from Chris.
“Caro! Reminder that we’re going to Berlin on Sunday. Think you can make it?” Read the note over the span of three lines peppered with cheerful emojis.
Berlin in two days… Caro thought with a bit of a frown. Usually it was a pain to plan for that kind of activity, having to create a good enough glamour and get it certified by the security liaison weren’t details that could be quickly dealt with. It just felt like too much work for such short notice, especially as the last spells she worked on were still a bit short of functional certification. But then again, this was Celerity. It shouldn’t surprise her to receive this much of a short notice from her.
“Couldn’t you at least make me normal for a day. It would prove that you at least can.”
“Alas, that isn’t within the stipulations.”
“Figures,” Caro mumbled before writing down. “Sure, I’ll see you and Gwen on Sunday. If I get my magic to work.” Before getting to work down with her books of rhymes and enchantments. If she couldn’t get into a good start in rhythm and mood when writing the draft of the spell, odds would be she would spend a good chunk of her Saturday in her new lab writing. And time was everything. She had to get up early to start redacting and polishing the incantation. Testing and proofreading might require a bit of effort but she had to make sure to get her request and new spell to the schools security liaison before its closing time at five o’clock.
It almost used up the entirety of her weekend. But if she could get to spend time with her friends in a normal teenage girl environment, it would be worth it… that plus she could also present her glamour advancements in magic lab class.
“Careful Tanya.” Came in Mrs. Savage voice from down the hallway as steps were shuffled in, followed by the wrinkling of thick plastic. “I need you to stretch your arms.”
“I’m trying,” Tanya answered as the pair came into view. Mrs. Savage walking in, back first, wearing a rather colorful tracksuit and some comfortable shoes. Not exactly dignifying for a house mother, but quite fitting for the laborious task that she was working on.
“Mrs. Savage, do you need help?” Caro asked getting up.
“Oh, I’d appreciate the help, honey.” Mrs. Savage muttered hauling in a three sets of mattresses, each wrapped in plastic. Just by looking at it’s spotless presentation, the smoothness of the surface and the vacuum wrapping, that put an anticipating look on Caro’s face. “I’m quite surprised there aren’t many girls around, I could use some help.”
“Are those new mattresses?” Caro muttered.
“Correct. Lo and behold, these are the mattresses I requested to the school, arrived just about a month in. The administration sure took her sweet time.” Mrs. Savage laughed. “If you need a new back rest for your sleep nights, I can have one of these sent to your room.”
“Oh, I’d be happy for that,” Caro said politely. “Although I’m not sure what help I can be.”
“Um… Mrs. Savage? I don’t mean to be a bother.” Tanya groaned from the other end of the mattress. The new star freshmen was a prospective member of the Capes, a new Brick in town. As such, there was no doubt she could handle the weight on her own, it was the holding one side and the pause that was created by the small conversation that got her restless.”
“Sorry, Tanya. Let’s carry on.”
“It’s fine, Mrs. Savage,” Tanya answered with an earnest voice that was somewhat adorable. “If you want, I can carry all these things on my own.”
“That won’t be necessary. These are new mattresses and would prefer if we treat them carefully so they last. I know you can carry their weight with a finger, but doing so would probably result in them bending over their own weight.”
Not to mention falling over thanks to shorter arms, Caro thought with a small smile.
“I can try to help out if you need. I’m just not sure if I’m the ideal person for the job,” Caro’s answer came with her company guiding them down the hallway. She wasn’t as strong as many of the girls, at least not without using a spell on herself, but at the very least she could try to supervise. “How many more do you need to bring?”
“No worries. This is all the mattresses we received for now. I had to insist the staff for the urgent delivery. Some of the seniors were in dire need of new cushions.” Mrs. Savage mused as she turned around the corner, directing Tanya towards the cottage’s storeroom, a large set of double doors hidden beneath the staircase, which Caro had always thought was another exit to the building. “Tomorrow they’re bringing the rest. You can help us then.”
“Um… at what time?” Caro asked, supervising the transport by occasionally tipping the load away from corners and other girls.
“At about ten or maybe eleven. Do you have classes?”
“No, I don’t really have any classes tomorrow. It’s just that Chris, from Poe, wants to go in a group, us friends, to Berlin on Sunday.”
“Trip outside of Poe, huh?” Mrs. Savage said as she gestured Tanya to lift the mattresses over her head just as one of Penny Dreadful’s manifested zombies shambled its way down the stairs. The walking corpse had the staples of any horror George Romero story, with the pale skin, the fleshy bits showing from fake mortal looking wounds, the tattered clothes and the lumbering gait. It was hard to believe those were conjured by the girl’s mind.
Fortunately, the shock value, while still present, no longer had the girls running for the hills screaming that the zombie apocalypse was upon them. Now they knew that these zombies were simply glorified crude butlers meant to serve their mistress, being ordered to fetch or do something the goth queen wouldn’t deign herself to do. And without the puppeteer present, it was rather amusing to see it shambling over the stairs. That was an accident waiting to happen and, judging by Mrs. Savage glare as the thing bonked its head on the mattress only to carry on doing the limbo under the mattress, there would be another stern talk with Penny in the nearby future.
“Sometimes, I do wish some of the girls were as serviceable as you two,” Mrs. Savage said with a small sigh. “So, Berlin, right? That must be something tricky. I don’t get many GSD girls to go, which is a shame.”
“Which is why, tomorrow, I’ll be heading off to my lab and perfect my glamour spell for this trip. Make sure the chinks are ironed and that the magic holds just well enough to get this approved by security on campus.”
By then, the zombie had made it under the mattress and was carrying on in it’s way down the hallway, oblivious to the rest of the world, and already eliciting a couple of gasps and a scream from the girls startled by its appearance.
“Anyway, if you need any help, you can always contact me. Whether it’s my endorsement with security or a new mattress.” Mrs. Savage said wobbling the large piece of furniture as she tried to pry the door open. Fortunately Caro was there to open the door and hold it open, revealing the deceivingly large storeroom that housed from new versions of the standard desk and furniture regular rooms would have, cleaning supplies, bedsheets and even standard usables like toilet paper and emergency shampoo.
“Oh, I wouldn’t want to impose,” Caro muttered.
“It’s not imposing, sweetie. You’re always around helping. You were a lifesaver last year, and that gathering spell you’ve concocted has already proved itself useful on rounding this herd of cats. In case you ever think about becoming an RA next year, know that you’re already into consideration.”
“Oh, that’s so cool,” Tanya mused as she pushed the three new mattresses against the wall.
“Thanks, miss.” Caro said with a comfortable smile.
“Back to the trip.” Mrs Savage added. “Do you know the steps that you need to take to get approved by security?”
Caro thought for a moment. It was quite some hoops one had to skip through if they wanted to play things by the book. Campus security, in particular, had an eye out for GSD cases whenever they would try to leave the area. “For my glamour? I need to fill in a certificate, the approval of three teachers because of these horns and, lastly a way to go around town barely raising an eyebrow. Which is my glamor, which needs to work. The rest I think Chris is handling it out.”
Mrs. Savage could only raise an eyebrow. “How about chaperon?”
“A chaperon?” Tanya blinked.
“Yes, honey. A student that will look over you, make sure you don’t get into trouble. But more importantly your ride to the city.” Mrs. Savage clarified.
“I completely forgot of that,” Caro could hear Tanya whisper under her breath.
“Since it we’re doing this at Chris’ behest, I’m assuming that she’s on top of things. I’m assuming but now that I say that out loud, I don’t see the issues of having a plan B. Though I don’t think I know many students that go to town on Sundays, most prefer to spend the day around without bothering for the trip beaurocracy.”
“Funny how you mentioned it,” Mrs. Savage smiled. “Just before the bus got here, I was talking with Mrs. Nelson from Dickinson cottage. She was telling me about this senior student she has: Josephine Moore. Poor girl is an artist but is quite a shut in. Has few friends and just tends to prefer to toy around with the oils. A passionate artist is an apt descriptor from what I heard. Anyway, she has a van and makes regular trips on Sundays to the city to gather supplies. I’m sure if you ask nicely, she’ll agree to help.
“Really? Where can I find her?”
“She hours in the Art studio working. One of Imp’s regulars.”
“That’s worth a shot,” Caro said somewhat relieved as she produced her phone and began to text with swift fingers. “I’ll let Chris know and just hope she’ll handle with this.”
“Seems like a perfect match-up. Best of luck sweetie.Oh, you didn’t tell me if you needed a mattress as well,” Mrs. Savage gestured at the three brand new cushions that rested against the wall.
“I wouldn’t mind a new one. And perhaps a new one for Sofia as well? I know the girl could use a more stable sleep regiment.” Caro added with a bit of a sly smile that didn’t go unnoticed by Mrs. Savage’s years of experience, or maybe that magic necklace of hers.
“What are you planning to do?”
“To enchant her mattress. Make it so that she’ll sleep better and more profoundly.” Caro confessed without any reservations. Albeit, some facts distorted. Afterall, it’s not like she would really put the effort into carving the spell in.
“Absolutely not. No sleeping beauty spells on your roommate’s mattress. What would it happen if another student were to inherit that mattress and the spell was still working?“ Mrs. Savage also treated the admission as a joke, but the message was still serious. “Is everything okay between you two?”
“She’s getting drunk every night and sneaking back in. And I covered the first times but stopped some time ago, yet for some reason, she’s always managed to avoid getting caught. Even if she trashes the room in her sleep.” Those were the things she wanted to say but found her tongue stopping short after the the first s’. It’s not unlike her to be a snitch or a tattletale. As a matter of fact, she was so used to being the one that got away with mischief back in her old school. And she and her friends would rain fire over those who blew the whistle on her. It was frustrating when the wheels were turned and irony was a daily occurrence in her life.
“I might just be lacking some sleep, that’s all. The new mattress would sooth those feelings.”
Emerson Cottage, Room 210
Friday night was party night to many of the students. Many of the kind that loathed the homework for classes or considered themselves already too smart to care about education saw this as their time to decompress and savor the fleeting two and a half days of fun. After a couple of weeks into the new school year, the joy of the weekend to many wasn’t easing up yet.
Room 210 was one of the floors self described ‘popular’ rooms. The hangout space for a couple selected few where they would get very very rambunctious if not downright chaotic. Laughs were loud and messes at times were big. People were closer to assuming that this was a side party room for members of the “Dylans” but the kids had been proved drug free in the last on demand inspection.
Many people would assume that things were so fun that people lost all sense of inhibition and even control. At least that was perhaps the only explanation the school staff could account for for the inebriated like state: Fun induced ecstasy. An unsatisfactory argument considering the rumors that the students there were dealing with a new brand devisor alcohol that could even get drunk an exemplar.
Of course, both the RAs and the cottage parents weren’t exactly ecstatic of the idea of having students in campus brew and commerce with their own brand of bootleg whiskey (even though that was the most expected outcome, considering one of the students there was a chemical devisor). So, inevitably, they made a sudden appearances during several get togethers, seeking to confiscate the thing and enact punishment. They were sudden and swift with their intervention, so much so they were quite soon that the moment they would sample one of the alleged drinks, they would taste the alcohol or feel the effects.
They were surprised to discover that the supposed ‘screwdriver’ was just orange juice diluted by water, instead of the usual vodka. The only reaction the RAs could muster was an audible ‘what the heck!?’ before stammering into explaining to the cottage parents about this harsh alarm. Crossby and Peter, the ones living in the room, did nothing but throw wood into the fire, claiming outrage for the treatment and accusations. Crossby, being the son of a politician running for major, was quite versed in the ways to spin a story in his favor.
A couple of incidents similar to those, including borrowing breathalysers that somehow got a negative result, the RAs and authorities had had it with the efforts on trying to catch them red handed getting drunk and simply gave up on the endeavors. A resolution that just stung the RAs in particular as, when making their rounds, they would see people leave room 210, obviously inebriated. Yet when tested, the negative result along with the students sudden sobriety would be enough to make another scene.
“As my dad would say, silent condemnation is not something that can hurt you and it’s not admissible in the court of law,” It was Crossby’s usual answer whenever someone would bring out how the RA’s were giving him the stinkeye. Needless to say, it was hard to not feel like the king of the world. Getting away with his personal operation around, reaping the benefits without catching any of the flak.
Rumors quickly spread and before long, many of the students looking up for a try out his special devisor brewed beers, were more than happy to chip in and offer money or favors just to get a taste. Afterall, many of the exemplars and regenerators were practically immune to the effects of a proper cocktail. The curiosity for something they wouldn’t be able to experience at all was more than enough of a draw them to their club. And the experience will keep them coming back. Such was the case of the Masterminds, who felt that a good drink was an ideal way to celebrate the completion of some ‘nefarious plan’ or Golden Lion and his posse of rich buddies.
The kids from room 210 felt like they had all the reason to laugh, drink and enjoy the company. And tonight was game night. There was certainly nothing wrong with some fun calmed games of cards, gambling not withstanding, while enjoying a good movie. Nothing too extravagant, yet it was the added taste of alcohol that made everything ten times better. That plus the shifting guest list certainly made it sure they would get something.
In normal situations, having six people occupying the room might be pushing around with everyone’s patience. But every one found their own way to have fun. The card game was presently heated, with the gambles escalating at a steady pace and all three players finding themselves with some difficulty on choosing when to fold. As smart as they could be on normal conditions, to many students at Whateley, they had yet to discover such thing as prudence when gambling.
All but the ringleader of the whole group, Crossby Williams, also known as ‘Whiskey’ who upped his ante to the usual premium reward: a barrel full of his devisor whiskey to whoever would beat his hand. A nice thing to have, evidently a tad sought after by some, like Golden Lion, making it quite valuable. The fact that so far, Whiskey has been the only one to commerce the product was quite some testament to his skills.
On this occasion, there was Jeff Hayes, also known as ‘Lightbulb’. A sophomore who had the enviable task of handling the camera and the lighting for Venus Inc. Well into his drinks, the idea of winning the hearts of a couple of the girls with fancy cocktails was enough to loosen his thoughts into betting some of the casual and risque picture’s he’d taken of the group of young supermodels. A very bad idea if they were to find out.
Then, there was James Edison, also known as ‘Holo’. A gadgeteer who was quite interested in the illusory art of holographs. Being a Junior, he had already built himself top-quality displays capable of replicating images from a screen into three dimensions. He was more than likely to land himself a job in electronics development once he graduated Whateley.
“Just can’t believe her nerve on doing that to me. Swear my roommate couldn’t be any more of a meddler,” said a voice to Crossby’s right, peeling his attention off the drunken boys across the table, each of them struggling to keep their poker face and decided as to whether to fold or go all in. With his friend Peter, it wouldn’t take long before they were mentally nudged into recklessness.
“So many perks of having a telepath in the team,” Crossby mused in silence, leaning back as he looked down at the girl as she crawled over to his side. The cute latina bore a small smile and the somewhat dazed eyes that spelled out just how much of his product she’d imbibed. Despite of how feisty she played herself on day to day, now she was all but mellow and love.
“What’s wrong kitty?” Crossby mused as he reached over to stroke her chin. And unsurprisingly, Sofia let loose of her power to comply to what he wanted. Letting out a mocking meow as her ears climbed to the top of her head, twitching to reflect the triangular soft tuffs cat’s tended to have. Whiskers sprouted under her nose as her lips tempted themselves into slitting down the middle. Her eyes opened, shifting before his eyes into the feline slits.
Meow, she purred, letting out a realistic purr, putting her altered nose against Crossby’s hand. He had to put all that much effort into playing along and not pushing her away. Sofia Fontana was a cute girl with a sexy body. A social butterfly whose status and popularity could serve as the face of their enterprise. And that is not mentioning the connections she might bring to the table, being one of the few regular girls. The biggest issue was that she tended to have these animalistic moments when she hung around them drunk. A huge turn off for Crossby, who was often times ready to snap at the first person who would label him as a furry.
“So, kitty, what’s wrong?” Crossby asked once his girl rested her head onto his lap, closing her eyes. “Sorry, I wasn’t hearing.”
“Ah, yeah. Horns. What’s up with her? She put a curse on you?” Crossby said with a small smirk as James pushed his chips down onto the table and then fished down into his pocket for a flashdrive and his tablet, plugging them together to type down something. All the owner of the house could think of was that he would be earning himself some nice nudes for a ‘Full house’.
“Oh, she’d better not dare. That would be the last thing she would have to deal with. No, she’s just bothering me acting like my mother and all that. The other day, she kept on complaining and complaining about me getting back home so late. Says I make a huge mess whenever I drop back. Can you imagine that?!” As Sofia talked, her feline features slowly began to melt back into their human facets.
“Perhaps you could spend the night here,” Peter laughed.
“Well, I wouldn’t mind that.” Crossby muttered. Though the answer was vague and his attention shifted, with a grin, as he saw Edison toss the USB flashdrive into the money pile, mumbling something along the lines of ‘I’m not losing, I’m sure of it’.
“Though my girlfriend might end up getting jealous if you spend so much time with the boys,” another member of the gang, Trevor, added with a small mocking laugh, with the girl in his embraced adding a soft giggle before planting a kiss on his cheek.
“As if you would try something,” his lady mused reaching over to stroke Sofia’s stomach. “She’s such a good girl. I’m sure you will get scratched for your troubles for trying something. Not just from me,” she laughed.
It wasn’t that much after Sofia grumbled something as she woke up, holding her head with a bit of a daze. “Ugh, I think I should be getting back to the dorms. The house mother might really ground me if she catches wind that I was here this late. No doubt Caro must’ve tattled on me for that.”
“Oh, I think I need to head off as well. Could you accompany me to Melville?” Trevor’s girlfriend mused. It’s getting late and whateley can get very dangerous when you least expect it. You know, with all the demons and mafiosas around.”
“I don’t know. I hope to get home fast.”
“Would you do this for me, Sofi?” Crossby muttered, reaching over to stroke her chin as she pushed herself up. But once again, his attention laid to the game, just as Holo broke from his deliberation and reached in to sign the contract.
“Alright,” Sofia purred as she pushed herself up, stretching a couple of times while the Melvillian girl bid goodbye to her boyfriend in the interim. A drawn out process that followed the sickeningly sweet usual list of caresses and goodbyes almost every budding couple had to follow when parting ways.
“Could you hurry?” Sofia said.
“I’m on it,” the girl mused as she got up and made her way over to the mini-fridge that rested in the corner of the room, grabbing one of the dyed bottles that contained some fresh samples of the devisor booze. “One for the road?”
“No, honey,” Crossby said apprehensively while also trying not to break his poker face as both of the other players confirmed their all in.
“Bruh. Come on, Cross,” said Trevor with a small nudge.
“Promise I’ll be careful. Will just destroy the bottle if caught.”
“As long as you don’t get caught with it,” Crossby said dismissively.
“Alright!” the girlfriend giggled as they sidestepped the players towards the door. “Come on, Zoo. You can be my pony and ride me home.”
“How about I bite you?” Sofia said with a healthy, chuckle as they slipped out into the hallway as the lights in the hallway began to dim out.
“Hey, is it so hard to get her to stay just for one night?” Peter laughed.
“No thanks. She gets really wild. I’m worried what rumors will start to pop up,” Crossby muttered with a small chuckle as he laid down his cards on the table at the same time as the challengers. A large chorus of groans and a stream of curses soon followed.
“My uncle would be so proud of me,” Crossby thought as he eyed the flashdrive.
Saturday, September 24, 2016 - 6:58 am
Outside of the Crystal Hall
“Saturday! Saturday!” Chris mused, singing deliberately off tune, as she allowed her rollerblades to carry her along the walkways. Today, she was dressed in her regular clothes: a simple lackluster T-shirt that seemed to almost beg for someone to decorate it, and fitting shorts that didn’t limit her movements as she parkoured her way forward. Showing off as she grinded against the back of one of the stone benches that were kept around.
At least, that’s what she tried. The wheels clacked as she tried to find the pinching point and she ended up dancing before falling off against the pavement. Gwen’s immediate reaction was to quickly break into flight to catch her friend before she would end up breaking her back or neck against the hard ground. Showing off with a bit of recklessness was par for the course for Chris and to her friend, it never got old to worry about her safety. She only reminded herself about it when an aura immediately began to surround her friend in mid fall.
A strong red in color, the fall slowly cushioned itself against the air, halting her descent until it became like like a piece of wood sinking underwater until her back touched the ground.
How many times will I fall for that, Gwen thought while mumbling “That was close.” She walked up to the side of her friend just as the aura dissipated and she was pushing herself off the ground, dusting herself off while adjusting her rollerblades. “Stop showing off and hurry up. We’ll be late for class.”
“It’s costume class.” Chris smiled. “It’s basically a workshop.”
“It’s still a class and we’re running late,” Gwen countered, biting her lip as the smell of the fresh food from the crystal hall began to seep into her nostrills, making her wish today wasn’t a yellow flag day. “Why did it take you so long to get up? We haven’t even had breakfast.”
“Sorry about that,” Chris mused. “I had a bit of a light night of sleep. Spent a whole lot of time trying to reach the safepoint in my game.”
“Why were you playing a game before going to bed?” Gwen said with a smirk.
“Because it was Friday, mom?” Chris mused letting herself roll around her friend, offering a helping hand to relieve her from the duffel bags Gwen carried. Their personal notes and fabric samples. The making point for what would eventually grow out into their new suits for the seasonal brawl.
Gwen humored her. “Same deal as always?”
“Same breakfast deal,” Chris mused adjusting the two bags cross shoulder, drawing a rather uncomfortable ‘X’ over her cleavage, while drawing attention to her breasts that just propped out more. But this was Chris she was dealing with. Social miopia and fauxpas as were to be expected from her while dismissing any corrections. Corrections that came from Gwen, that is.
Still, before she could even try to point out, Chris was already rolling herself ahead.
“Don’t forget! I want some nice crepes to go. Crepes with plenty of chocolate is a big plus,” Chris called out before turning head towards the distance and zooming away.
“Sheesh,” Gwen could only shake her head at her friend’s antic before stepping into the cafeteria. Sometimes, she thought, it feels like Chris doesn’t even realize she’s a girl now. I guess it becomes a reality for some later than sooner… And that brought her back to her first year at Whateley.
Back then, it certainly felt much like she’d gotten accepted at Hogwarts or the Xavier school for gifted youth. So many new things and friends to be had. A complete adventure that even scared her a couple of times. Yet the biggest hurdle she could consider facing was perhaps coming to terms with her manifestation and her new body. Nothing was ever the same since then. Friendships gained. Friendships lost.
Still, Gwen wasn’t sure if she would accept or condemn the idea that it was all for the better. It was different.
Very different, the thought was punctuated as her eyes spotted a figure that was quite unusual to see up and about this morning. Usually, Dereck Seaver was the kind to just lounge about in his nest for a good couple of hours before actually getting up.
“Dereck! Hey!” She greeted him with a small smile, that was quickly taken as an invitation for a quick embrace. Arms wrapped themselves around her waist and his lips pulled up to hers to meet them in a quick smooch. The lip to lip contact was still giving her the butterflies in the stomach, with her heart skipping a beat as flush poured through her body, so much so she thought she would release some sort of blast. While it still felt right, she hadn’t grown used to it.
“What’s wrong?” Dereck muttered taking a step back, seeing how Gwen’s lip twitched between a smile and an uncertain quiver. “Was I too forward?”
“It’s alright. I never had a boyfriend before. I’m still not really sure how to act or move about.” The phrase ‘let’s take it slowly’ was nothing but a lifesaver to Gwen. Otherwise, as her sister put it, she might end up all over the wall with her bustling emotions.
“Well, we’ve been together for months.”
“Months?” Gwen said with a small smile. “The vacations don’t exactly count. We talked at about once per week.”
“To me those count,” Dereck stated as his hands fished for hers.
“So,” Gwen mused, taking the reins of the conversation. “It’s a bit early to see you around. Did anything happen?”
“Oh, you’ll love this,” Dereck said with a playful smirk, putting Gwen into a state of unease. As he got up. “I gave a call to my uncle last night, telling him about what happened to you. Before you say anything, he asked and pressed me into talking.”
“Dereck, I told you to drop the subject,” Gwen stiffled a groan.
“I didn’t intend to… But, this morning, about half an hour ago, I received a message from my uncle. According to him, the Massachusetts police confirmed the man is within their custody and kinda agrees to allow you to testify against him. Make sure he gets locked down.” Dereck muttered pulling out his phone and scrolling down. “Says here his name is Ichor and he’s a mage.-”
“I… Dereck. You don’t need to bother yourself for this,” Gwen muttered. “The person who broke my arm did it by accident… and he’s probably in a world more trouble than I can possibly imagine. Besides, it’s not that guy, it’s the young teenager that was in the report you told me off last night.” She wasn’t certain as to what possessed her into saying that. Perhaps her virtuous upbringing or that she was smart enough to think that keeping up a lie or keep on worrying her boyfriend was a bad idea.
Fortunately, that seemed to get the intended result as Dereck sighed. “You’re right… Fine. I promise I won’t bring up. But I say it because I’m worried for you. I don’t like seeing you hurt.”
“Trust me that I don’t get hurt easily,” Gwen said with a small smile, leaning forth to plant a kiss on Dereck’s cheek.
“You know?” Dereck muttered. “It’s the weekend, so I wondered if you would be interested in paying a visit to Emerson cottage. My roommate will be out for the entirety of the day, so we’d have the room completely for ourselves. We could probably spend a good time watching videos, movies, snacking or doing other things.”
Gwen blushed, briefly pressing her lips as ideas and thoughts ran through her head. Many of which she wasn’t sure if she found uncomfortable or appealing. “I… um, I promised Chris and Carol we would be heading over to Berlin, for a girls day out.”
“Oh, right,” Dereck muttered. “I just thought, you know, with Chris being in charge of it that plans would’ve already broken down and you would be available.”
“Well, she seems quite invested on the idea for some normalcy,” Gwen said with a small smile as she backed herself, slowly crossing the threshold of the cafeteria. “And, look at the time, I think I’m running late.” She said with a small laugh before turning around.
She cast a look over her shoulder to see Dereck, ever a sweetheart, wave at her with some suave confidence about him and that got Gwen’s mind, heart, stomach, bladder and many other organs acting like marbles in a tumbler dryer.
These lapses weren’t anything uncommon to her. Struggling to discover her new identity and the likes and dislikes that carried themselves with the body were perhaps one of the most constant brainworms. Things that she would find herself thinking over and over until something would take her mind out.
It wasn’t until she reached the classroom for Costume class that she had to quiet down a small profanity at the tip of her tongue for having forgotten her and Chris’ breakfast. Even without using her powers, she was sure her stomach might grumble a sort of painfully hard complaint.
Whitman Cottage, Room 247
Caro couldn’t really consider herself a heavy sleeper. It’s, in fact, the reason she’s experienced so many grievances with her roommate, Sofia ‘miss all animal party girl’ Fontana whenever she would stagger her way back into bed. Though that was part of the problem, the other half was that Whitman seemed to break with the idea that ‘men were boisterously loud and women were gentle quiet’. About twice a week would be the occasional eventuality, either of girls being overly loud when talking to each other about their dramas, brawlers like Tanya and Ratel having their late night bouts that would result in a couple of doors broken, or just the fire alarm ringing when something would suddenly break into flames.
Of course, solutions were aplenty. But she was not one to bend her will and deafen herself every night by sticking earplugs in her ear (elven looking ears, mind you, which Caro might assume were more sensitive than the regular). But she also wasn’t one to complain and act like someone’s mother (aside from Sofia, begrudgingly) to get her way. Ideas were a plenty to solve her dilemma were plenty, and now that she had one year of experience with magic, proposing not so mundane solutions was now on the table. Chris, at one point, suggested using one of her spells, given Grimma’s alleged history with the tale, a sleeping incantation could solve her problems. She was, however, incredibly reluctant to give herself a conditioned curse vouched over by a spirit that inspired stories around moral virtues, tricks and cruel ironies for somewhat obvious reasons.
Last night, though, it was one of those rare nights where she happened to have a perfect sleep. She went to bed early in the night, already expecting for Sofia to burst in from after her evening with Crossby, do something stupid and a lot of noise, either with her laughter or with one of those moments where she thought she was doing something amusing when in reality, all she was doing was joking for herself. Ironically, it was in the wait and in her imagination that she ended up dosing off. Her roommate spared her sleep and the rest of the cottage was peacefully quiet.
By the next morning, she found herself slowly waking up as she felt the rays of sun spilling through the closed curtains. And the nice night sleep had actually put her in quite a good mood thinking back. She recalled as to how she got herself a new mattress that just felt the perfect balance of solid and soft when she laid her head on the new matching pillow. Of how classes and her grades seemed to be going well, in particular, of how her homework was basically done for the rest of the weekend, letting her focus on completing her glamour and get the approval from security. And lastly, the trip to Berlin. If there was something someone in her shoes needed, was a fun day out with her friends, and maybe some newer shoes.
It all felt so good in her head, yet it all came down crashing when her body began to pick up on the abnormalities. First was the feeling of the of her left leg sinking into the mattress, almost as if the entire surface was lopsided. Something that shouldn’t even happen given how the thing was new. As she moved her foot, the extra looseness of the fabric quickly began to spur the realization.
The grungy distinctive smell of fur was what quickly got her up on the spot. And it was then that her blood began to boil.
To Mrs. Savage, Saturday morning were ideal to get herself into activity. A morning jog was perhaps the best way to kick things into overdrive for a good start. Trotting her way around the school was a decent way of measuring the feelings of the students, know what their attitudes towards productivity were and get glimpses as to the things to expect. She might not be a mutant on her own right. Not exactly strong enough to deal with half of those around… but it always took a certain something to be a house parent. A certain strength of will or conviction… but most of the time it was the weight of experience and habit she tried to project to her girls earning respect little by little.
Once all was said and done. It was quite amusing to walk down the corridor back to her personal room, making a round to see if there were any sort of troublemakers going about or anything that might need any form of fixing about. By then, most of the girls that had no commitments that pushed them off the beds stayed around, lingering and laying in for a snooze. Every now and then, Mrs. Savage would pass by a door left open by a roommate that had to leave for class, letting her peer into the other roommate. Ratel was sleeping clutching against a large pillow that resembled a punching bag that had seen its fare share of use. Shisa laid herself curled atop her bed, flexible body rolled into a ball, much like a cat. And then, there was just a room that felt completely empty at first glance, it wasn’t until Mrs. Savage spotted the note on the door, and after a bit of a headache, that she realized that the girl hiding behind the covers and with her head buried under the pillow was none other but Sterling, the poor forgettable girl. She was dressed up to go, but unsurprisingly, her spirits were so low she seemed to prefer to remain under the covers.
“I guess Tanya is taking a morning shower or something…”
Mrs. Savage, so far, had to keep her conversation with the girl on texting basis, given how Sterlings powers only affected the mind, not her actual existence. So the Internet, text messages and post-its were valid ways of interacting with the young girl. She thought about stepping in to see if she could maintain a conversation, despite the concern that she would end up forgetting about her mid conversation, making her feel even worst.
She would’ve done that, if she hadn’t felt the pull down on her chest as the ornate necklace that was wrapped around her neck began to softly hum a warning. A warning that there would be a situation demanding for defusing. And before she could even wonder what she was doing outside of Tanya’s room, she continued down her path where her prospective RA, Caroline, and Sofia slept in. And made it just in time to hear the sudden outburst.
“This is a new mattress! Damn it!” Caro almost shrieked with a couple of mumbled profanities, Mrs. Savage had to pretend she missed when opening the door.
“Stop yelling! My head is starting to hurt!” Sofia groaned.
“Girls? What’s the problem?” Mrs. Savage called out, tapping the door twice before opening it. Sure, it might be a bit of a sudden action and might certainly lead to some embarrassment if they were caught in a bad position. But as the denmother of a house full of teenage girls with superpowers, she figured a strong response would be the best cut and dry approach.
The door opened revealing the two girls standing one facing the other in what could potentially be considered a death stare contest. With Carol’s face red and fuming, making her horns look blacker and meaner while Sofia, on her other end seemed to just finish herself reverting back to human as the last fragments of a jaguar’s rossetta pattern slowly faded off her skin.
“Girls, what happened?” Mrs. Savage asked.
“Jaguar princess here tore to shreds my new bed!” Caroline stated, taking a step back so that Mrs. Savage could see and assess the damage. Effectively, the bedsheets had been pulled back to reveal the corner of the mattress. Indeed, it reminded Mrs. Savage when her friend’s cat tore through the couch’s cushions. Not an appealing sight, with the fabric cut open in multiple lashes letting the stuffing go out. There was even one of the mattress springs that had been forced off it’s axis. Not just that but Mrs. Savage assumed the bedsheets had also been damaged by the incident. All Sofia could do at the accusation was turn her head away, idly stroking her own arm, presumably the one that did the deed.
“Oh, dear,” was all Mrs. Savage could say at first, stepping in to survey the damage, though the damage was clear and no second takes would add much. “It’s such a shame.”
“Is there a way we can have it switched?” Sofia proposed as she rested her rear on the bed. “Are there more of the new mattresses in storage?”
“Sadly, not at the moment.” Mrs. Savage muttered. “The company that sent these called earlier to tell us there would be a delay with the shipment. It was quite nice of them to actually forewarn me just before I went out in my jog… though I doubt a policy like that will get them the approval of many of their customers… Anyway, they say the delivery might be delayed till Monday.”
“What?” Caro blurted out. Having already ha rad time containing herself at these hours in the morning. “That sucks!”
“It could be worse,” Sofia chimed in only to be challenged by Caro’s glare. She had no other choice but to relent. “I mean, it’s bad… I’m sorry.”
“Sorry won’t cut it!” Caro forced herself to take a deep breath to halt herself from lashing out verbally and instead tried to refocus. “I need a good sleeping spot. It’s even bleeding out the stuffing.”
“How did this happen to begin with?” Mrs. Savage asked, already gathering the stuffing from the carpet. She could already tell this room would probably need a good vacuuming if she just hoped to get it back into tip top condition… not to mention that Zoo’s damage on the carpet and walls was quite evident…
“I really really really sorry. I didn’t mean to scratch it.” Sofia almost struggled to say the words even if she sounded really honest about the deed.
Ever ready to jump into action, Mrs. Savage was already searching for her phone as she looked around the room. She’d made it a habit to delegate room inspections to the RAs, but, from her perspective, this was at the limit of messiness for a pair of young girls. She could spot some scratches along the wall, some long tuffs of fur over the desk and even a couple of hoofmarks and unfurled strands in the carpet that rested between the two bed. “Might as well get this place cleaned. Get some people to steam the carpet, rub the dirt off the wall and change the filter in the temperature control system.”
“What?” Caro blinked. “But I’m heading out tomorrow! I have to work on my glamour today.”
“I’m sorry, but you know how I feel about non-equitative work,” Mrs. Savage word’s were clear though didn’t the carry the ‘thou must’ conviction to them. “We’ll think of something. In the meantime,” with that, she turned to look at Sofia. “Are you having any problems controlling your powers.”
“N-no. I’m not!” Sofia muttered.
“Perhaps she could use a couple of nights at Hawthorne with a room that is clawproof. I’m sure they have many of those lying around.” Caro added on her side.
“I’m fine, Mrs. Savage,” Sofia muttered. “I have full control of my powers. I… I think I must’ve taken some catnip, extra strong catnip. on the way here… because I was feeling really woozy and tired.”
“You know what else can cause that?” Caro chimed in, amusingly, the tables turned as suddenly, it was Sofia who was on the offensive with the glaring. Staring back at her roommate as intently as if trying to manifest spark in the middle of the air.
“Do you know what can cause dizziness, euphoria and lack of concern for everything else?” Caro added with a bit of snideness in her voice.
There was certainly something there, Mrs. Savage thought. “Is there something you girls wish to share?”
And like pouring oil into a frying pan, the heat began to rise to an uncomfortable sizzle. “No, Mrs. Savage. There’s nothing else to this. It was just a clumsy late night incident. Wooziness stumbling in the dark.”
Under the scrutinizing look of the cottage mother, for a moment, Caro’s horns and scales were none existent and she was a normal girl dealing with a responsible adult, while also being aware she had the power to curse her old highschool looking like a fairy tale character. It was such a great difference, she easily found herself torn between those stances and perhaps a third one Mrs. Savage wasn’t seeing…
“No, Mrs. Savage. I-I have nothing to add. Think it might’ve been a bit of an incident.”
The cottage mother sighed, making a mental list of the people that would need mobilizing to cleaning around the carpets and the wall around, as well as to find a solution for the mattress dilemma. Of course, there was a good suggestion that came to mind, which she planned to spring it soon after, though she wanted to give the guilty party some berth to come up with it.
“Caro, can I talk to you in the hallway?” Mrs. Savage asked leaving the room.
The two roommates could only exchange conspicuous messages in the form of eye intensity and quiet mouth clenches before the sophomore with horns walked out.
When Mrs. Savage asked to go to the hallway, it turned out she meant leaving for the common area of the house. Caro could only assume it was so they would avoid Sofia’s possibly canid ears. And that could only clue her as to what might she get asked on.
“Caro. You know you can tell me everything, right?” Mrs. Savage whispered. “Is everything alright between you and Sofia?”
There was a fleeting moment of hesitation, intermingled with all the subtle telltale bits of a teenager frustration that were reflected in Caro’s face before she brought up a prompted answer. “Not exactly. I just don’t think I get along as well with her as you might’ve imagined.” Caro simply answered.
“You know. When sorting out the rooms and roommates, I try to take into consideration into who will make better pairs with who. You and Sofia have quite some things in common, I figured it would be no problem. But you’ve matured quite a lot since you manifested, I figured you might tame that party animal of a roommate. ”
Caro hesitated. She couldn’t even feint a smile at the joke. “I don’t wish to contradict you… but that feels a tad off.”
“It seems like it.” Mrs. Savage muttered. “If you really want to, I could try looking up for another girl you wouldn’t mind bunking with.”
“I thought I could, if it were okay, try to get myself transferred to Poe?”
“I know you have friends there, Caro. But switching cottages like that takes a lot more out of the administration that you can imagine. With the exception of Hawthorne, maybe.”
“That’s the answers I got from administration,” Caro mumbled before shaking her head. “Do you really think I can get through to that girl when she is all night out there getting… some fun with the boys at Emerson?”
“I suppose she’s a bit rowdy.”
“I just want to have a good night sleep and have a nice weekend with my friends.” Caro summarized, quite fed up already with the situation, as if the rude awakening was enough, she wasn’t exactly in the mood for this sort of talk.
“So are you giving me the go ahead to look for a girl to switch rooms with you?”
There was a pause for consideration as Caro looked around, just to wonder if there was someone overhearing the conversation. Fortunately, at this time of the day, many of the girls were either sleeping, queuing for a morning shower, having fun outside or at breakfast. “I don’t know. I want to say yes… But I don’t wish to be a quitter. Like, I thought I could deal with anything that would happen. Rowdy roommate or not. Can I come back to you later with this decision?”
“I don’t see why not,” Mrs Savage agreed. Not that many of the girls were willing to exchange roommates that she knew of, she thought inwardly, and giving her a room of her own might come across as too many privileges, specially with the rowdier girls. “It does make me think that Whitman needs some better bonding events. Much like Poe and Melville have. I actually have some ideas for a game night next week.”
“I could help organize that,” Caro said, taking a pause to bite her lips, a small gesture Mrs Savage didn’t think much of as she was already feeling her cellphone start to buzz as a message reached it. “I mean, sure.”
“Now then,” Mrs. Savage said giving Caro’s head a small pat between the horns. “Get dressed and go out for your day. I’ll have the room cleaned soon and hopefully, by then, I’ll have something sorted out for the mattress.”
“Alright,” Caro agreed with a small sigh. She still needed to get back in to change herself off her pajamas, not to mention face up with Sofia who would probably be around wondering what sort of things they talked about without believing her entirely. “Would it be okay if I curse her? Just a teensy tiny one that will get me to sleep better?”
“Are you really asking me that?” Mrs. Savage said, raising an eyebrow and throwing a good roll of the eyes for good measure before walking away.
“You didn’t say I couldn’t,” Caro muttered thoughtfully as she moved down into the hallway, passing a straight out of the shower dressed in a haste Tanya walking alongside Sterling, with the little purple lass trying very hard to prompt the tall exotic looking shy girl to carry on the conversation. Though it came across as somewhat amusing as Tanya kept on saying her name just to remind herself she who she was walking with.
“Morning girls. Tanya, Sterling.” Caro greeted off handedly as she passed by. A somewhat opportune reminder that she needed to remind Chris to get the girls a chaperon driver for the trip to Berlin. Last thing she might want for was to have these frustrations been for naught.
Advanced Costume Shop
Of all the classes at Whateley, Advanced Costume shop was perhaps one of the most lax courses one could undertake. Running in parallel to first with freshmen’s costumeshop, this one was under the tutelage and supervision of Mr. Syran. And his personal philosophy was quite different from Mrs. Ryan’s class. With just one big evaluation at the end of the semester and many random inspections leading up to it, the students were given free reign as to how they used up their time and their progress, and to many, this meant they could skip the classes if they wished.
There were evidently benefits to sticking in the room during the class hours. For one, Mr. Syran was as well versed on the subject of practicality, fashion and presentation as Mrs. Ryan’s, despite his younger age. Getting his advice was a big help to every struggling student. Be it on proper guidance for those creatively stuck or for instruction of proper sewing and costume crafting skills, such as sewing, metal and leather working, kevlar knitting and, for the more ambitious one, computer attire interfacing. And that was another plus of the instruction. Only when the costume shop was open they were allowed to use the specialized equipment. From the mystic forge for classic and more arcane metal works to automated nanoweavers and even industrial presses to make any sort of neat looking bootleg brand t-shirts.
With students belonging to second and third year, even with the somewhat loose attendance rules, there was quite a line to the use of such specialized equipment. The need for supervision for the freshmen and sophomore just meant there would be a need to make an appointment beforehand for both instruction and use.
Today, though, Christina Cobryn, aka Celerity, didn’t really have a need for those. With her current uniform having already passed “freshman level quality”. That meant she had the basics, now she had to strive towards the sophomore passing grade. It’s all made through stages, as Mr. Syran tended to say from time to time. Iterating and working on things is how quality gear is made. Making perfection from the get go is but a myth.
Standing up on her table, she stared down at the pieces of her current ‘combat uniform’. The layout of the design was quite simple: a full body skintight piece that would serve as the first layer of protection, with bits of padded armor that covered her chest, forearms, shoulders and kneecaps. It was okay for a first try, but to Chris, all that spelled ‘factory made’ and clunky. She wanted to add her own sleek style to it.
Not to mention, she needed a more customized helmet as the one she used for when practicing her parkour and rollerblading was incredibly generic, even had the designer’s logo stamped on the back. If she wanted to complete her suit, she would need to dabble a bit into the devisor and gadgeteer arts… or convince her parents to lend her enough money to commission some of the local talent to throw in her input. Mr. Syran’s rules allowed them to outsource one piece of their gear.
That being said, the prudent thing would probably be to outsource her rollerblades or boots, she thought.
Her fingers caressed the fabric, tracing down the joints before spotting a couple of holes, tears and even scratches that needed some mending if she wanted to present the current state of her attire to the teacher. That plus fixing some of the mistakes. Last year’s combat finals made it clear that there were some areas that needed improvement. Some places were a tad too constrained to be of any comfort and she definitely could use some reinforcement on the arms, shins and knees.
“Perhaps metal plates? Or alloys?” Chris thought amusedly, though at the same time trying to hide her grimace. She might have a “lady boner” for everything superhero related. Getting her own suit was perhaps, too much to handle for her when she first registered into this class last year. Although that was the extent of her prowess there. She was enthusiastic and had a lot of ideas about ways to make her costumes cooler (though eighty percent were just childish facsimiles of known heroes, which might generate some form of lawsuit, while about ten percent of the remnant were somewhat childish peacocking), but was quite inept when it came to the actual handiwork.
Needless to say, she wasn’t looking forward for the next couple of classes of cutting and sewing patches of basic grade kevlar.
To the side of her work, in her cottagemate and classmate spot, was Gwen’s own uniform, which she’d carefully laid out. And it was quite a sight to behold. Admittedly, Gwen, or Starsentry, was also in the camp of superhero fandom, even before she manifested her powers, but unlike Celerity, she already seemed to have a sort of theme going for her. The irregular eight pointed star resting on her chest was the center piece, drawing the colors in as crossing lines split the section into a sort of shimmering shield that traced its way around the body. Each thigh was were also marked with its own trail of lines that ended up in the boots, which were barely thicker than cloth slippers.
Mr. Syran congratulated Gwen on the design, though claimed it was a bit too much on the artistic side to be practical. His words were that the idea was still in its infancy, but had such a strong base in concept, the rest would be easy. As it was, the garment was a simple leotard, with no sleeves, gloves or any sort of protection. The designs on the chest were just that, designs meant to look well but wouldn’t any extra protection whatsoever. Not that she needed it, being an energizer exemplar combo, but at least she had the base to work upon.
“Perhaps I’m putting too much effort onto this?” Chris muttered taking a step back to look at her own work, seeing how the blue, black and white colors contrasted to each other. A choice she made last year while she was regarding some of her favorite heroes from the album catalogue, though now that she saw it, with a full year of experience on her attire, she felt the need to stamp more of her power identity onto the suit. Considering adding purple to the mix.
“And speaking of purple… Hey Tanya. What are you doing here? Costume Shop is downstairs,” Chris called out with a chatty smile as the pint sized wonder and the latest member of the Future superheroes of America, or the capes, skulked into the workshop, looking almost like a rabbit peering her head out of it’s hole on spring. Still a pleasurable surprise in Chris’ book. It was somewhat of a joy to meet the Freshman just some time ago when she was first introduced to the group. She was quite earnest herself and looking took in any piece of advice with the excitement of a fan.
She’s almost like me, almost, Chris tended to think every now and then.
“Chris! Howdy,” Tanya started her day at workshop class with her usual pleasant greeting. “I do hope I’m not interrupting. Where’s the teacher?”
Though at this time of the day and this early in the school year, many of them had decided to be no-shows. Not that she had anything against the Whitman freshmen, but despite being in two different cottages, she’d gotten to know the lavender brick. A capewatcher such as herself, member of the FSHA and an overall friendly lass.
“Mr. Syran left to get himself some breakfast. And even if he were here, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind you… um, why did you come here to begin with?” Chris asked as she looked around the workshop. Today was pretty much one of those days lax and devoid of activity. With the nearest presentation of progress being about two weeks away, today would probably be a bit of a low turnout. There was about one person per table (each table was meant to accommodate four to six chairs) working and tending on their own matters to pay much mind to the freshman, though not necessarily working. It was Saturday afterall, and not everyone was that interested in designing their own superhero getup.
“I just wanted to scout around… maybe get Mr. Syran’s opinion on my design before I present it to Mrs. Ryan’s,” Tanya said with a sigh, producing her notebook accidentally letting her set of pencils fall off as she scooped it from her bag. She made a small child friendly curse as she began to pick them up while handing Chris her booklet open in the last page, giving Chris a decent idea of what the freshman was gunning for.
“I’m sure that whatever Mr. Syran enjoys, Mrs. R will… Your mom was Invictus, right?” Chris said with a bit of admiration, probably something she’d been looking forward to saying ever since she learned the girl’s codename and power. Though she quickly realized how Tanya’s demeanor shifted, ever so slightly. It wasn’t really a sore subject, but she could imagine it might sting a little. So she halted her mouth, trying to think of another subject to drive the conversation to.
“Yeah. Mom was the one and only, Invictus,” Tanya said cracking a modest smile.
“Are you going to be taking on after her? I mean pattern and colorwise?” Truth be told, Chris was somewhat envious of Tanya, the girl had fully inherited her powerset and even appearance from a known famous superhero. One couldn’t get any more legacy status than that. “I really loved her costume design.”
“I… I don’t know. I mean, I want to do right by her and carry on with the name… But I don’t want people to think I’m copying her.”
“So, striving to honor her but no replicate her?” Chris said reaching over to give Tanya a slight pat on the back. “That’s going to be a bit tough… but all I can say is to take it easy. That’s part of the charm of school. No one really knows what they’re in for after it.”
“Thanks,” Tanya muttered, though barely came back to the same level of joy she held when she stepped into the room.
“You know,” Chris added leaning in closer. “She once saved my mom and me.”
“Yeah… It must’ve been about six or seven years ago. I was just your regular eight year old bo…ooy band. Boy band loving girl paying a visit to her mom in the city hall. She was dealing with a case revolving a criminal trying to get himself acquitted of trials, claiming he was actually a victim of excessive abuse from the hero that arrested him. The jury didn’t buy it and were close to finish deliberating when… well, long story short, the building was coming down, criminals were pouring in from the entrances firing guns and… well, we all thought we were done for.”
Tanya just listened enwrapped, even if the story came as incredibly abridged, she wanted to hear it out, and maybe ask alter.
“That’s when Invictus, your mother came in digging through the wrecks and pushing the fires away with her lavender colored aura. Her colleague, Sylph came down and began to lift the civilians up into the air and taking us to safety. It was like a movie. A real rollercoaster that I couldn’t stop remembering, even until I manifested.”
“Thank you,” Tanya smiled.
“There’s more to the story… But I’m not exactly a great story teller, as you can see.” Chris said sheepishly. “I kinda rushed up the telling. I almost thought you would end up more confused.”
“What? No. It was all a good effort. I’d like to hear a more complete version if that’s no problem,” Tanya smiled.
“I’ll work on it.”
“Though I can’t imagine you being into boy bands. I imagined you more of a rock and roll.”
“Heh,” Chris chuckled nervously while fighting the urge to slap her forehead. “I imagined myself like that as well. Though it was probably rock, I want to change my answer to rock. Anywho… My point was that I have a great respect for your mom and I’d do anything to help.” She made a bowing gesture that just couldn’t be taken serious. “I’m indebted to your family.”
Tanya burst out a small giggle. “I’m flattered,” she added. “But I don’t feel like keeping lifelong debts of gratitude.”
“I figured,” Chris smirked. “Well, I’ll let you be so the creative juices can get flowing. But if you ever need any help or suggestion, I’m just one poke away to help.” That was no joke, the two tables were barely a meter apart from each other.
“By the way, where’s Gwen?” Tanya asked as Chris flipped the pages to previous iterations. She seemed to be going for a similar style as Gwen: a simple leotard for the design from which to start padding and building onto.
“She’s getting breakfast. She dislikes being late to class and I like sleeping in my bed… so we compromised. I get up early and take her stuff to class and she, in turn, fetches me breakfast.”
“Dang, wish I could’ve talked Morgana into doing this favor for me…” Tanya muttered. “Having friends in other cottage does suck quite a bit.”
“Tell me about it,” Chris mused shaking her head. “My friend, Caro, lives at Whitman. Would be awesome if she would get to hang out with us at Poe. But she’s stuck there.”
“Because Whitman is the best,” Tanya mused.
Chris reply was to stick her tongue out.
“Oh, by the way,” Tanya quipped in, not long after she traced a line and was just stuck looking for inspiration. “You and Caro are heading over to Berlin tomorrow?”
“Yeah, we are. Did she tell you about that?” Chris muttered.
Tanya nodded. “My friends and I are also heading there tomorrow for some shopping and fun there. We were wondering if you knew how you would be getting there.”
“You mean a driver?” Chris muttered. Her face froze for a couple of seconds as the thought clicked. “Drat, I forgot I was the one organizing it! I was supposed to find someone.”
“Oh…” Tanya added dejected. “I was hoping you wouldn’t mind a couple of extra seats.”
Chris just grinned. “I mean, I probably should be asking you for the favor? One of your friends with a car sponsored by Hugh Heffner and another is, if I heard right, a Japanese princess. You don’t get any more elitist than that…” Chris commented, of course a famous freshman with bunny ears getting a deluxe car wasn’t exactly something one could easily disregard. Besides, Tanya’s clique of friends had some somewhat noteworthy friends.
“It would… but we planned for a small trip… and I don’t think Hikaru’s diplomatic stance translates well into permission to head to town. And I don’t know if Tia can drive us there without getting stopped by a cop…”
“Would be easier to ask for a favor to someone I know than to get to know this senior I heard about.”
“Senior?” Chris asked.
“Josephine Moore, also known as ‘Painted Oracle’. Mrs. Savage told us that she regularly drives her van to town every weekend to get art supplies and she usually tows students for a low fee.”
“Where can I find her?”
“Art class, I think. She spends quite some time there.”
“Perfect, I’ll ask her as soon as I can.”
“I’ll go as well… I have to stop by the security offices to deliver the paperwork,” With that, Tanya opened the flap of her backpack, revealing a somewhat hefty stack of papers.
“Paperwork?” Chris gulped repeating herself. “Paperwork? That’s the paperwork? That’s a stack.”
“Yeah, for the trip. School security worries if we don’t leave these. Might even refuse our requests…. You didn’t do those, didn’t you?” Chris’ face was a dead giveaway.
She just had to let the color return to her face and bring herself to a bit of a pained smile as she got up. “I think I know what I’ll be doing for the next couple of hours… and it’ll start with a trip to the security offices…”
“Hey Gwen!” Tanya greeted, cocking her head lower to see a new person entering the door. The fellow sophomore, while casually elegant as ever, seemed to lack a bit of her color, other than red, and the usual preppy demeanor.
She looked kinda tense, and Chris would’ve inquired further hadn’t she known that her friend was a bit stressed of being asked the same question as of late.
“Heya Gwen.” Was all she said as she walked, headed for the door. “Thank goodness you’re here. Mind looking out for my stuff as I head out. I have to run to the nearest security checkpoint. So, I’ll just take my sandw… Gwen? Where’s breakfast?”
Saturdays where he used to get up drag himself off his bed, like a mummy out of a sarcophagus, were slowly starting to grow more and more unfamiliar to Vic as days went by. It still didn’t keep him from yearning for those times. Back when his life seemed in order in his old school. Back when his mom was alive or even back when he had his friends to be there for him. So many things had changed and things seemed that they would continue in the direction of the unexpected, if not radical for a good while…
In a way, the promise to “be better” and his goal to be “self sufficient as an adult” seemed to keep his mind in check. Keeping him focus with a goal that would steer him away from nostalgia. It was only in the time between studies, work out and socializing he couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if he just indulged himself just a little bit.
“It’ll pass, I hope,” Vic muttered with a small chuckle as he looked down at the clock on his phone. It wasn’t even ten in the morning and he felt like he was done and waiting for the afternoon. Heading over to the Crystal Hall for a meeting with his friends certainly beats the average Saturday. As it should be, he thought, I have to shake things up lest I want to end as a stick in the mud. Given that tomorrow, would be their trip to Berlin, it all held the promise of goodies, leisure and treating oneself. Things that almost everyone seemed to parrot at him.
Miscalculating the time, he came to realize, as he spotted their empty table, that he would be alone for quite some time. “Not a big problem,” he muttered, to no one in particular, at the risk of sounding like a crazy person.
Killing time was something he’d grown used to, though it didn’t mean he actually liked doing it to make it through the boring parts of his week. The biggest issue was that Saturdays, and by extension, Sundays, tended to be quite stale. With nothing to do but study in his off time, he was looking forward to his incoming madness out of numbness. He wanted a TV or a computer with a stable connection just so he would have something else to think of during his free time. And all that brought him back to the credit card his legal guardian, Caroline Kythe. Or, I guess it should be Mrs. Kythe.
She’d been so nice to throw in five hundred dollars in his card for any expenses he might have. Truth be told, he was already tired of being the pauper boy of the group. Of having not even the most basic means to entertain himself, excluding his phone, which, being of a rather basic model, had certain limitations to the graphic or quality of fun that could be had.
He had the money but had yet to spend it. He supposed, quite often as the topic of money popped up in his head, he could be aptly called a cheapskate. But at the same time, one couldn’t blame him. His summer had been short of a nightmare for many reasons, one of which was the lack of resources. The want to keep themselves fed and healthy through legitimate means. That is to avoid stealing.
In that aspect, fortunately, they were able to get by just by spending minimal amounts. The boss of the local gang Vic and his friend, Josh, worked for really tried in their earnest to take care of them and keep them complacent and happy once he discovered the qualities they each provided to the table. Josh, being a devisor, began to design and prototype a good deal of low tech tools they could use, from cutting tools to improvised taser guns. And Vic was strong and capable of cracking every lock in a matter of seconds with just a bottle of water.
Of course, Vic made himself no allusions at Urresti’s intentions. The man evidently had a knack for power and was planning to use them for as long as possible in his crime family, and Vic having grown with influences from the other side of the law was quick to judge and distrust on their actions. That being said, the man wasn’t half as bad as a mob boss and was even kind enough to help them in their time of need. Many within the organization did. Donny made sure Vic would have a gym and supervision for working out, Egbert made sure he would have access to some educational books to keep himself from being a mere thug. And then there was Iggy who more often than not, stuck out his neck for him on the few jobs. Those where Vic was somewhat prone to making mistakes and Josh’s devices just tended to… make a lot of noise when they worked.
“Many of them are gone,” Vic muttered as he searched his pocket for a toy that he hadn’t used for a while. A lock. A common and regular Yale paddock. Dipping his finger into the bottle he always carried, the liquid was pilled and snaked its way into the keyhole, working and fiddling with the internal mechanism before the thing clicked a second later unlocking. His hand played with the brass and steel before locking it again and repeating the process.
The wounds were still somewhat fresh. But at least enough time had come to pass since that he’s at least able to think about it. He could remember the next morning of that day, waking up on the shore and finding that everyone was gone… He imagined it wouldn’t have affected him as bad, considering the reservations he had for those people and their career. But it’s always a pity.
About seven more clicks of the lock, Vic reached down to check for his phone only to discover that only a couple of minutes had passed since he arrived to the cafeteria.
“Oh, come on!” he grumbled as he sat up, leaning onto the side of the rail, gazing down at the lower layers of the cafeteria. He certainly had to thank Laura for the idea of having their own table here. Being above the heads of people had something quite soothing about it. He quickly felt like he had his entertainment in the activities and adventures everyone seemed to be having down there. There was always something interesting about here, a bit of a good show that would probably keep the sense of wonder afloat for at least a good month. Be it the odd GSD case (of which, out of common decency, he at least tried to avoid staring much) or a new toy, floating spell or exaggerated teenage drama being flaunted around.
He spotted some of his fellow freshmen from Twain gathering around for a late breakfast, coming around and joking about something. So far Vic had certain reservations about some, such as Hardnose being a bit too much of a stereotypical jock or as Playback, with his large ears, was perhaps a bit too much into music for Vic’s liking. But all in all, they were quite a nice group to hang about, last night was quite fun, just playing cards and talking about videogames, something Vic wondered if he would ever get back into.
On the way to one of the lower tables, Playback raised his head and just happened to catch a glimpse of Vic sitting close to the handrail of the second level. The other guys followed in suit (since with Playback’s bunny ears, craning his head ended up tickling Daniel’s nose, making him sneeze with Humorless letting out a deep chuckle. Hardnose looked up and gave a small greeting gesture with a mocking scowl. Last night one of the common running jokes with Vic was thinking himself as some sort of ‘elitist’ for getting to have his own exclusive table under his name and getting to hang out with many of the hot girls from the class (even if it came at the implication of being Kenshin’s lackey).
Not that he minded, but have to take whatever benefit I can get, Vic thought amusedly as his eyes strayed over to the side, wondering if he would end up spotting Erica or Tanya as they arrived into the Crystal Hall. And that’s when his eyes crossed with someone he didn’t expect at the time… yet the more milliseconds passed, the more he realized that it might’ve been a miracle he hadn’t ran into her before.
There standing rear end of the line stood two girls. One a nice looking girl, looking incredibly fit and sporting the nerdy sort of athlete vibe, with long black hair that had a purplish white streak running down the side of her head, she was loud talking to herself, not noticing that her friend had already zoned out as their eyes locked. Her friend was quite a knockout not overly statuesque, but definitely fit, with a poise that betrayed belief by bearing femininity and class without appearing snobby. Golden hair with Hazel tips and a face that bore a friendly smile. At least a sliver of it as it quickly melted the more she stared up at Vic. Her eyes slowly widened and her lower lip quivered while consciously grabbing her left arm, and then all that fear and guilt turned to frustration in the form of a stone cold glare…
His heart might’ve skipped a beat, but not for the ideal reason. “O-Gwen,” Vic muttered, correcting himself as a reflex even if there was no one around to hear him. Force of habit over something he had yet to grapple.
“How I didn’t see her before? Why didn’t I expect to run into her beforehand.” He wondered. Throughout the first week, he’d been so on the lookout for her, so caught up with the worries, while also coming up with potential things to say should they run into each other when turning around a hallway or bumping backs during one of the combat trainings (back when Vic had little idea as to what to expect for classes such as Martial Arts and Power theory). After the week passed and he’d seldom caught her around, he assumed she wouldn’t show up. That she’d been either so injured by the attack or so shocked by the events she decided to not attend school this week. Perhaps the flimsiest line of thought Vic’s head could concoct up and something he should’ve been worried for regardless, yet he bought it wholeheartedly and locked the subject away. At the time, he was beating himself for not asking Ronnie about her, or just wishing she’d brought up a bit more over her sister’s situation…
All thoughts and plans he’d made during that first week, all those were but forgotten by this point. To make matters worse, he couldn’t bring himself to make a scene before the cafeteria. Even if she was an exemplar he was still a boy that broke the arm of a girl, perhaps a bit of a harsh way by accident… Gwen seemed to be following a mirroring line of thought as she just focused on glaring back, holding her words.
All Vic could do was raise up his hand and all Gwen could do was just nod back before turning her face away. So all he could do was try to keep along with what he was doing, waiting and turning his gaze down to the table and to any other place but the line for the food. Trying to act as if nothing had happened would be a bit of a moot endeavor as all the memories from Massachusetts he’d so hard tried to put behind came back resurfacing. There was the stinging guilt of the harsh words and the situation, let alone with the growing feeling that he’d made a huge mistake in his decisions.
“And this is so dumb…” Vic muttered with a small sigh. “She must’ve been here for a good couple of weeks by now. I should’ve ran into her long ago or just faced her and try to explain… as painful as it might be.”
But that would have to be eventually, should the situation arise. Spying Gwen he could tell she was also trying to move on, taking a couple of steps forth next to her friend. And, as if summoned by his subconscious, he spotted Tanya and Erica arriving into the cafeteria.
To Be Continued