I walk along the hollow space between one wall and the next (about three feet across, since the walls aren't very thick; they just look it from the outside), taking my time and sneaking until I reach Lykouleon's unused study. (He uses the library more often than not, probably to keep an eye on me.)

I climb up a ladder to go over the doorway, peek through the small square of one-way glass to see where people are, and am glad to see no one in the immediate vicinity.

Cesia enters from the hallway.

Well, shit.

She turns around in a circle, looking at things very closely. "That potted plant seems to have been moved," she says over her shoulder and Gil comes into the picture, blinking as if he wonders why he's here.

"Okay." He, too, looks around the room before sitting in the corner of a small couch.

Cesia frowns and strolls over. I mean it. She actually strolls. "I thought you said you liked things to have consistency?"

"A potted plant on the other side of the room's not going to kill me."

"Have it your way." While I'm trying to get the Burger King commercial out of my head she sits on the desk across from him, twirling a lock of curly, frizzy hair around her index finger.

I walk quietly across the boards that make the top of the doorway and jump instead of going slowly down the ladder on the other side. I land on cat feet and stalk quietly to the next doorway, climbing up to the top of that one, too, and peeking through that one-way glass to make sure no one's coming. I wait a few seconds to be sure, then backtrack and slip around to the back of the room, where I exit through a small door that looks like a piece of wall and is conveniently behind a table with a tablecloth and potted plant on it.

I peek under the cloth to make absolutely sure nobody's here. I begin to climb out, and actually am up to my waist, when Kitchel and the girl with short, stringy hair from my English class walk by, talking. I freeze as the girl I don't know looks over and stops. She tugs on Kitchel's loose shirt. Kitchel stops and looks over, hands in her vest pockets. (It's a sorta weird style: tight vest and loose shirt.)

I'm not entirely surprised when Kitchel asks, "What the hell are you doing?"

"Stretching," I inform her a little snidely. I think I deserve to be able to let go once in a while when nobody important is around.

"No, I'm serious." I wonder what gave her the impression that I'm not. "Who're you trying to hide from?"

Well, Cesia, but considering that she and Kitchel are friends I do the smart thing and simply smile stupidly.

"Ah." She nods in understanding. Must be some weird, psychic, girl thing. Her eyes brighten. "Hey, you on your way to The Group?"

I nod.

"Come with us," she grins and waves her hand. "This is Delte. She's in some of your classes, right?"

"English," I inform her.

"And math and history," Delte adds. This is news to me.

"Wow." Kitchel blinks as we enter the room for The Group. During the brief moments I'd been away from the room Bierrez had shown up. He bristles when he sees me, and it's at this time that I start wishing he has cat ears and a cat tail, just so I could see his ears fold back to lie against the top of his head and his tail twitching and swishing angrily behind him.

I stop imagining this scene when I realize how perverted it can turn. I'm not going to question my sexuality again. That was weird enough the first time.

"Hiya!" Kitchel says cheerfully, sitting on the arm of the couch and leaning right on top of Gil. He twitches in a mildly uncomfortable fashion, his eyes not leaving my face. Cesia gives me a vaguely regal nod, staring down her nose at me. Her eyes keep flickering over things, taking everything in.

As Thatz comes in I inform her, "You've got a bit of a twitch there."

Thatz backs out again. I watch this curiously before being subjected to the ominous feeling of death coming from a certain frizzy-head's direction.

I turn to her with a blink and a smile. "Yes?"

I think I am being polite, but it seems we have a difference of opinion.

"You," she whispers with a tremble, "come in here, uninvited, and—"

"I was invited," I point out.

Cesia pauses. "No, you weren't."

"Yes, I was."

"No, you weren't."

"Yes, I was."

"No, you weren't."

"Yes, I was."

"No. You. Weren't!"

"Yes. I. Wa—!"

"BY WHO?" the banshee screeches. "There's nobody in here who would invite you!"

"Kitchel did," I reminded her.

"We revoked your right to come here right after that incident," Cesia informed me stiffly. She held her back straight with her hands clasped behind her back, and I suddenly wondered if she was from a military family.

"No. I mean, she invited me today."

There is a pause. Bierrez is munching on popcorn from who-knows-where and Delte sits perched daintily on the opposite side of the couch from sleepy Kitchel and watchful Gil, sipping some drink out of a teacup (probably tea) with a small smile. Cesia turns to Kitchel, and the once sleeping girl is suddenly wide awake and walking out of the room with a casual stance while saying, "You know, today is a good day for traveling. Delte said it, and she's always right. . . ."

This confuses me, until I take in the gauzy clothes that Delte is wearing. Besides her light coloring and non-black hair, she looks like a gypsy. She has many clip-on earrings on her ears, with bracelets adorning her arms and legs over fake-jewel encrusted sandals. A crystal clip-on on her nose catches my attention as she turns to watch Cesia give chase. From her choice of jewelry, it seems pain really hurts her.

"All of those are clip-ons," I tell her, not because I think she doesn't know, but because it confuses me. Why not simply get piercings? It would probably be easier. The pain would last for about two seconds.

She gives me a look that is at once kind and informs me that she already knows she's wearing clip-on jewelry. "The body is a temple," is her answer to the non-question. She shifts, and the many folds of her two non-matching skirts hide her feet and legs.

"Meaning: no holes besides those already there?"

Bierrez gives me a dirty look (he's blushing) while Delte says, "Exactly!"

Being ADD (I have a feeling that all people suffer from it, if even a little bit—I'm one of the less-extreme cases, obviously), I stop to think about people's expressions, because although I can't read expressions well I can't help but notice that Kitchel hadn't looked particularly scared as Cesia chased her out. . . . "Where do you think Kitchel and Cesia are?" I ask the room at random, although I only expect Delte to answer, as she seems fairly friendly.

I'm not disappointed.

"Probably a few rooms away," she smiles, like she's proud of me. Then she adds, "Talking."

"Oh." A pause. I tilt my head and smile back. "What are they talking about?" The only reason I ask that is because (and this is weird for me, I might add) I have a feeling she knows.

"You," a voice intrudes rudely into our public conversation. Bierrez crosses his arms over his chest to give me a hard look. "If you weren't here it would happen in this room, like it's supposed to, but—" and here his voice is quite frosty, "—you came."

"I was invited." And saying that phrase is getting repetitive.

Now, I could do the nice polite thing and leave to never come back, even as others continue to be rude to me by glaring and such, but I'm not a nice, polite person. So I'm staying, if just to bug Cesia, Bierrez, and anyone else who hasn't said anything about my presence but is still bothered by it.

. . . Nevertheless, this is a depressing thought. So I change my mind. I ignore whatever it is Bierrez is snarling (seriously, why all the hate?) and wave goodbye to the room in general. Delte and Gil wave back.

I turn, but can see Delte's smile fall from the corner of my eye.

Thatz enters the room before I can reach the door and obligingly moves to the side. I smile in thanks before actually escaping.

Behind me, there's silence. I think Delte says something when I'm a ways down the corridor, but I'm too far away to hear.


AN: No, Rath's not gay. But I'm of the opinion that everyone questions their sexuality at some time or another.

Also, I'm going to go over the past eight chapters and revise them, because there are inconsistencies, I know. And then hopefully get the plot moving faster! Although, well, these chapters aren't very long, and not that much time has actually passed in the story. . . . I'm just a slow updater. I'm sorry! Hopefully that will someday change. (And by someday, I mean within a year. Keep your fingers crossed.)