More than a Game


Life is more than a game you play. Because, after all, how can you win a game that has no rules? Drama/Romance

A/N: My first real WITCH story. To explain this a bit: In this story our WITCH girls aren't Guardians anymore, they have been relinquished from their duties and they're all grown-up now, to match with the realistic tone of the plot. It's a story in its entireness and every chapter is told in a different point of view, forming the cycle of WITCH (Will, Irma, Taranee, Cornelia and Hay Lin) since this story involves all the five girls, so you have to read every chapter in order to understand the story—it's possible that important stuff for (just an example) Will's storyline can occur in Hay Lin's chapter.


Chapter 1: Will


The scratching noise of the chalk as I begin to write, screeches into my ears. And apparently, into all the ears of my students as well, especially the ones sitting on the front rows. I have to giggle at the hilarious sight, forgive me, when I glance behind me. One of the girl students presses her hands against her ears to prevent the reaching of the waves of the squeaking sound. Nonetheless, I continue scribbling the notes on the black board, much to the displeasure of my students.

After I am done with the writing the notes, I turn around to face my students and ask them. "Did everyone understand everything?"

Some of them give me a nod or roll their eyes in a way of 'duh, I'm not an idiot', others don't respond at all. But a teacher like me, always have a few tricks up her sleeve to find out. First of all, I can see by their facial expressions and my second is to give a tiny, unannounced pop-quiz about the past few lessons. I rather not give them the surprise test, but sometimes a teacher has to stand her ground and show their students which one is the boss. Then again, they aren't difficult with me, so I don't feel the need to be a strict teacher.

Now, unfortunately, I decide to give them a test. To defend my case, I need to have more marks by the end of the semester or otherwise I won't have enough marks to fill in for their daily work.

As I sit down behind my desk, I scrape my throat quietly. "Everyone, take a sheet of paper and a pen. It's time to make a test about the enzymes," I demand, well not really demand, but that's the mere point.

Everyone groans, but obey anyway. "This is a small quiz, so there's only going to be three questions," I say to set their minds at rest. When I see that everyone's prepared to start the test, I begin to dictate the questions. "First question: what is the function of an enzyme?"

Abruptly, I stand up from my chair and begin to walk around the students. I wait a couple of seconds, so everyone can easily write down the question. I think about the first time as a teacher that I dictated the questions to my disciples. It was a complete disaster, I tell you. I was talking to fast and I had waited to long near the end of the lesson, that as result they didn't had enough time to even finish the test. Therefore, I had to postpone the thing. But from your faults you can only learn.

"Second question: where does the digestion of protein initiate and by which enzyme?"

A pause of another couple of seconds. "Last question: on which two concepts does an enzyme depend? I'll give you ten minutes, then you'll hand the sheets in," I remark, while I stroll back to the front of the classroom and sit down on my chair again.

Out of blue, I feel my cell phone vibrate in the right pocket of my trousers. While the students are busy answering the questions of the pop-quiz, I can easily take a glance at my cell phone to see who, in God's name, would have dispatched me a message. Everyone of my friends and Matt should know I'm busy instructing a class full of pupils! Sneaky as I am, I slip my cell out of my pocket and check the name of the sender: 'Irma Lair'. I clap my hand in front of my eyes, which arouses curiosity of the pupils who witnessed my sudden action. I blush crimson (I'll never get over my shyness), when I observe all those arched eyebrows. With a pointed finger at the clock hanging above the class door, I indicate them to proceed on with their test. I smile as I scan all their heads bow down again, meaning not gaping at me anymore. Sometimes I do abuse my authority as a teacher. But a girl can have a little fun once in while! No harm there.

My smile fades, when I remember Irma's message. Reluctantly, I return my attention back to my cell phone. I press the button to open the message:

Hey redhead,

come to the Silver Dragon immediately after school! Taranee is going to be here too, we can hang out together!

PS: so hilarious, it's like the good old days when we were WITCH! hihi.

Because I have to fight back the urge to clap a hand in front of my eyes again, I simply roll my eyes. This is so typical Irma Lair. She's always the adventurous one of the group. Back in our good old days (as she calls it), she was always the most eager one to head for another mission. I guess it has to something to do with her father, Tom Lair, being a retired police man. The thirst for danger may be flowing in her blood because of that. Actually, it's weird why she didn't become a police officer herself or even a stand-up comedian, the reason is beyond me. She preferred becoming a secretary. Why? Nobody knows except Irma herself.

Anyway, I type rapidly 'ok' and send it back to Irma, before any of the students can detect what my hands are doing underneath my desk.

Riiiing.

The school bell's clinging sound rings through the entire building, even in my classroom. That's everybody's cue to stop scribbling down answers for their test. But to be sure I exclaim. "Pencils or pens down, everyone. Time's up. Hand every sheet over to the front rows."

Immediately, all the students hesitantly and reluctantly put down writing material down and pass the sheets to the ones in front of them. After that, they quickly tuck their books and etuis in their bags. They all hurry to the door to head home, to watch their favourite program or to listen to music. Some will actually do their homework due the next day. While they strode to the door, I hurtle out to my students. "Don't forget to read pages 15 to 25 in your biology books!"

But they don't listen anyway. I know perfectly well that in high school there's a huge lack of attention to school. Who likes school anyway?

I never did, so I understand them perfectly.

Reminiscing my own school days, I scramble every needed paper and equipment from my desk. Then I cram them in my bag to go head home myself. Or better, to head for the Silver Dragon.

On my way over, I accidentally bump into Orube, or a.k.a. the former Rebecca Rudolph. All of us call her by her real name, Orube, but in public places we're forced to call her Rebecca Rudolph to not arouse any suspicion from people. That's why we had given her the alias of Mrs Rudolph's cousin and had given her another forename.

Since we're almost alone on the streets and since the passer-by's barely acknowledge our presence because of their extreme haste, I can greet her by her actual name.

"Hey, Orube! What a pleasant surprise!"

Orube, who looks frankly a bit shocked to run into me, shrills. "Will! Nice to see you, but I got to go."

"Wait," I interject, as she strolls by me, to stop her. "What's with the haste?"

"N- nothing, really. I have to go to work, the pet shop, that's all."

Oh yes, the pet shop. I remembered I persuaded the grandfather of Matt, Mr Olsen, to give Orube a job when we were still WITCH. She still works there, but since Mr Olsen passed away three years ago, he handed the pet shop over to her in his will. Because he knew Matt wouldn't have any business in the shop, since he has other dreams: becoming a huge rock star. Which he still hasn't succeeded in unfortunately.

"Oh," I answer, quite disappointed.

Although I comprehend it completely, I'm still devastated by the fact that our little gang has drifted apart (only a smidge, but still too much for my comfort). Okay, I'm certain this is all the course of life, you know, for everyone to go their separate ways: have a family, make a living, chasing one's dream. Still, it pains me to realize we all have apart lives.

"Can't it wait for a while? I'm heading towards the Silver Dragon. Taranee, Irma and Hay Lin are going to be there too. We can all catch up a bit. Please?" I beg while making big puppy dog eyes to convince her.

She smiles weakly, it looks more like a failed attempt to smile. Then she shakes her head. "I want to, but I really can't. Perhaps some other time?"

"Fine," I heave a sigh. "Some other time then."

Now, her smile widens, but it still doesn't reach her eyes (meaning it's fake). She hugs me briefly, before she scampers away out of my sight.

That was an awkward and weird position for me. Her entire expression and body language radiated 'I need to go away from you desperately. I did something that made me guilty to be near you.' Maybe it's only my imagination. I do tend to exaggerate in those things. I remember when Orube just started to work in the pet shop and that I was extremely jealous of the fact that she was spending an awful lot of time with Matt. I was starting to see signs that they were falling in love with each other. Which was absolutely ridiculous, because Orube would never do such a thing to me. Neither of my friends, actually.

I decide to shrug the previous scene away and begin to continue my walk to the Silver Dragon.

Finally, I arrive at my destination. Not much has changed since Hay Lin took over the restaurant in honour to her parents and grand-mother. You see, the situation is that the Silver Dragon is a family business. Her great-great-grand-father established the restaurant when he arrived in the United States of America and when he deceased one of his children decided to keep the restaurant in the family, so he/she (I don't know if it was a boy or girl) carried on the restaurant. Since then, always one of the children continued with the restaurant. After Hay Lin's mother got paralysed from a car accident and can't walk ever since (she has to use a wheelchair and needs her husband's care), Hay Lin thought it was for the best that she took over the business.

Although Hay Lin has a steady job now, she still has some regrets of her decision. She always wanted or better said, has always wanted to be a fashion designer. That has been her dream since she was a little child. But now she can't pursue her dream anymore just for the sake of the Lin's family honour. She, as everyone else of the family, know how hard it must have been for her great-great-grand-father to move out from China in order to get a better life in the US.

I push open the doors to get inside. There, I see Irma sitting at one of the tables having three glasses of long island ice tea (one of them empty, the other still full and the last three quarter left). I amble over to her and seat myself down on one of the other chairs of her table.

"Drinking already?" I retort, arching an eyebrow jokingly.

A grumble is all I receive for an answer.

"Sorry, didn't mean to offend you," I snap back, then I cool down knowing that something must be troubling our brunette. "Okay, what's wrong?"

"Nothing."

"Irma, don't try to fool me. I think you know I know you better than that."

In my head I giggle at my reply 'you know I know'. Which person says that? I think it's rather funny.

"There's nothing to tell, Wilma!"

Okay, now it's personal. Nobody calls me 'Wilma'. I hate that name more than I hate any of our old enemies. I know it's Irma's speciality to give nicknames, especially for Cornelia. She always reserves the name 'Corny' for her, which the blonde absolutely despises. Of course, Irma knows this and that makes the pleasure only bigger for her. But she shouldn't push the matter too much sometimes. For example, right now, I try to be nice for her and then she throws that awful name at me. Wilma reminds me too much of the Flintstones and I'm tired of being compared to that cartoon figure. You know, sharing the same name and hair colour makes the teasing all too easy.

"Don't you dare to call me Wilma, ever again," I sound really threatening, I just discover a new side of me. A side I don't want to bring to the surface anymore (tough, only when it's absolutely necessary).

Irma buries her face in her hands. "I'm sorry, Will," she apologizes and I can't really stay mad at her. "It's just-... I'm sick and tired of everything."

"Of what, precisely?"

The younger girl takes a deep breath. "Of the whole dating process. I mean, all you guys got the perfect boyfriends. Hay is already married, you got Matt, Taranee got Nigel and for goodness sake, Cornelia has three boyfriends. Me, I don't have zip, nada, nul, zero, nothing, null, nolla ... I can go on with the languages, but it all comes to none."

"Oh, Irma," I smile genuinely at her. "The right person for you will show up. You just have to give it some time. Don't worry."

"Well, I'm tired of waiting. I guess I'll just turn out into a spinster, an old maid."

I roll my eyes at her comment. Even tough Irma is the sarcastic one of our group, she sure can overdo it sometimes. Like now, she is overreacting. Okay, I understand it's probably not easy if all your friends have good luck in the love area and you're the only one who gets left out of it. But I'm certain her prince charming will walk into her life. Mark my words!

"Don't roll your eyes at me, young lady!" She points an accusatory finger at me. "It's not because your lover boy returned your affection, that means everybody has it that conveniently."

"Come on, don't-..."

"I want a boyfriend!" she wails in an overdramatic way, which catches the attention of everyone (which are a few by the way) in the restaurant.

I blush furiously at all the staring faces (see, I'm never going to get over my shyness) and scratch the back of my head timidly. "Nothing to see here, folks. Just continue your meals," I insist.

Lucky me, they avert their gazes and proceed on eating their suppers. As I noticed before, I wonder why there are so few customers. Normally, the Silver Dragon is crammed full with people, sometimes there's a huge waiting list. But now, there were, what? Like, five other people! What's going on? That certainly mustn't be good for business.

Suddenly, Irma's whining voice breaks my trail of thoughts.

"I want a boyfriend! I need a boyfriend!" She plops her head down on her arms, which are lying on the table.

I groan. "God, woman, pull yourself together! If you keep on complaining like that, no man will ever fall for you. I don't want to be rude, but that's just the truth."

"Whvr," she slurs and I can't understand one bit she's saying. I pinch the bridge of my nose annoyed. "Irma, articulate and enunciate!" I demand, which she obliges to as she raises her head slightly. "Whatever! I mumbled whatever!" Then she drinks another glass in one huge gulp.

"Irma, I think you ought to back down with the booze. It's clearly fogging your mind," I suggest wisely. I rather have a funny sarcastic Irma, then a pissed off sarcastic Irma. I can't really deal with the latter.

"You know, Will," she hisses as if my name is some kind of curse. "You can't always play the little leader you used to be. You can't always save everyone's lives. Maybe you should allow me to screw this up. Maybe I'm meant to be alone. The universe is against me, it's against the world, it's against us. The aliens are planning to invade-..."

Whoa, stop right there! Aliens? I was right, the alcohol is rising in the back of her mind. And it's clearly taking over her. She's being delusional now and muttering God knows what. I wonder how many of these long island ice teas she has drunk by now (even before those three glasses).

Thank heavens that Taranee walks in and sits down next to me. I (finally) have a sane person to talk to now. "Hey Will, Irma," she greets silently.

"What's up with the huge, dark shades?" I inquire curiously, no more listening to Irma's rambling.

She pauses for a second, and because of the shades I can't read her facial expression. Then she shakes her head lightly and replies. "Nothing, I wanted to wear them for a change. I bought them last week and they were really over-expensive, so I have to wear them time from time."

I bob my head as she speak out her words. Although her explanation is very logical, it seems fiction to me. Her words sound so... hollow. Nonetheless, I decide it's probably for the best if I don't give her the third degree. Besides, Taranee is always been very honest. And if there are troubles in her head, she is always the first to not bottle it up, and speak about it. So if there's a complication now, she won't hide it, especially from me.

Irma, on the other hand, doesn't feel the same way. "I think -hiccup- you're hiding something, Cook," she accuses, while she squints her left eye and waving a threatening finger in front of the Afro-American girl.

After Taranee pushes her shades further up her nose, she scrunches up her nose in disgust from the reek of Irma's breath. I too can't avoid the awful stench and I hold my hand underneath my nose to at least try to deflect the smell.

Abruptly, Irma stand up (with a little staggering-… okay a lot) and retches. Taranee and I stand up as well and lay a hand on each of Irma's shoulders, while Taranee asks. "Are you going to be alright?" Irma nods, but then the retching increases and she runs as fast as her legs can bear towards the toilets.

Again, that action awakes the attention of the other folks in the restaurant. Which, of course, makes me flush crimson once more. Taranee, observing my pink cheeks, whispers in my ear. "Don't mind them, just ignore the stares. It's how I got over my shyness."

"Easier said than done."

"Or change your focus."

I raise an eyebrow inquisitively.

Taranee smiles at my ignorance. "Just focus your attention on me, not them."

"That can be arranged."

"Good." She sits down again and I follow her lead. "What's wrong with Irma? Who drinks that amount of alcohol at this hour?"

"She's having major love problems."

"What?" The younger girl furrows her brow, even tough I can't see it, I merely guess so. "She doesn't even have a boyfriend."

I snap my fingers. "That is the exact problem, the not-having-a-boyfriend-part."

"Don't we all have love issues, boyfriend or no boyfriend?"

I simply giggle at the rhetorical question. Of course, everyone has love problems. I sure had, or more have my share of complications with Matt. Well, not really love problems, more problems around the… sexual area. It's no biggie, it's just… we haven't had sex in a very long time (okay, that is a biggie!). But it's probably because Matt has to concentrate on his developing career lately.

I actually think that Hay Lin and Taranee have the least love problems of us five. Because Irma is having trouble finding a boyfriend and Cornelia, our America's most wanted top model has difficulties with choosing one between three guys. I guess Irma envies the blonde because of the aforementioned.

Taranee's boyfriend, Nigel, has recently moved in with her (they're still moving some furniture and all that) and they have been happy together ever since they first laid eyes on each other. Too bad that Nigel's brother, Danny (amazing that they worked things out years ago), is staying there for a couple of weeks, because there was a fire accident in his apartment building. Our dear Hay Lin is married to Eric almost three years, she even changed her last name to Lyndon. So if she doesn't have luck, then I don't know it anymore.

"Sorry, I'm late with the orders, but there was something I needed to attend something in the kitchen," a newly voice intervenes.

"Don't worry, Hay Lin," Taranee reassures our Asian girl.

A huge, toothy smile creeps over our energetic girl. "Thanks, so what do you want for drinks?"

"I'll have a latté."

"And for me, a-…," I bite my lower lip as my eyes move over the menu. "a rose bottle tea."

Hay Lin scribbles our orders down, then glances at the empty chair where Irma sat a few minutes ago. "Where's Irma?"

"She's in the bathroom, probably puking all the alcohol out," I pinpoint, as if nothing's wrong with the whole picture.

While our former Air Guardian runs a hand through her long hair, she snarls. "I knew she was having too much to drink, I guess she sneaked into the kitchen while Eric and I weren't watching her. I know it must be awful to not having a boyfriend, but she doesn't need to overreact. Eric and I already set her up for a date tomorrow."

"Really, who?"

"Some friend of Eric's. They shared a dorm in college, and they reacquainted last week at the post office. Then Eric invited him over for dinner to catch up and his friend revealed his single. So… we thought it might be a good idea to pair him up with Irma."

"What's he like?"

"Well, he's really funny. I swear when he had dinner with us, he was telling all of these hilarious jokes, that a little pee came out. He's tall and handsome, not my type tough, but I think he's Irma's type."

"Let's wait and see how it went," I conclude.

"Good idea." Hay Lin winks at me. "I'll go fetch your drinks," she says, while retrieving back to the kitchen.

"So how is Matt doing?" Taranee asks, the moment Hay Lin is out of sight.

Nervously, I tuck a strand of hair behind my ear. "Fine, fine. He's sending out demo tapes of his band Cobalt Blue to label records."

"And?"

"No respond yet, but he- I mean, we still got our hopes up," I smirk. "I know he's going to get famous one day, he's meant to be." Then I remember something that happened earlier today, that I need to talk about. "Taranee, I got a question to ask."

"Shoot."

"Have you noticed Orube's weird behaviour lately?" I see her shaking her head, which means she doesn't really get it, so I explain further. "It's just-… I bumped into her today and it felt like-… like she desperately wanted to get away from me. I don't know. Maybe I'm seeing stuff."

Taranee chuckles. "Maybe. I don't think Orube is trying to avoid you. She's not that kind of girl. Trust me, it will turn out to be a misunderstanding."

"Yeah, you're probably right."

Then Hay Lin comes back with our drinks. She softly places them on the table and gives us the bill (okay, we may be her best friends, it's still her living). She sits down on Irma's formerly chair.

We both quirk an eyebrow at her (you can see a raised eyebrow above Taranee's shades).

Her eyes widen at our facial expression. "What? Eric gave me permission to sit a few seconds with you. Besides, the place is almost empty today," she reasons herself.

Taranee glances at her red-leathered watch, and exhales loudly. "Irma is been gone for long, that it's starting to worry me. I'm going to look for her."

I nod and wait for her (with Irma tagging along) together with Hay Lin.

But the waiting doesn't last long, when I hear Taranee shouting after me.

"Will, come quick!"

Immediately, as if my natural instincts work faster than my brain, I sprint towards the bathroom. There, I find Taranee bending over Irma, who is lying unconscious on the floor. Taranee whips her head around to gaze at me, and I can read all the worry in her big, chocolate eyes.

"I can feel a pulse, but she's not breathing! What are we going to do, Will?" she begins to panic, when she steps up to me and grabs my shoulders roughly.

I pant as panic starts taking over me too, but I close my eyes to regain a hold of myself. When I open my eyes again, I gently push Taranee aside and walk over to Irma. Then I crouch over her to give her CPR. Before I start tough, I demand Taranee to call an ambulance.

After three minutes or so, Irma has started breathing again and the ambulance arrives (that's really fast, they may have been around the block). It's horrifying to see one of your best friends being placed on a carrier and pushed inside the ambulance. Since, none of us are actual related to her, we're not allowed to ride along. Which even scares me more. What if something terrible happens to her along the drive to the hospital?

Hay Lin, Taranee and I decide to drive together to the hospital in Hay Lin's car. Along the way, Taranee calls up first Irma's family, then she calls Cornelia on her cell phone to inform her as well.

All I can think about, is the sight of Irma lying unconscious. I never would have thought, she has it that bad. I believe Hay Lin is feeling the most guilt in the pit of her stomach, since it was her who served Irma the first glass of alcohol. However, it wasn't her fault that Irma sneaked (without Hay Lin and Eric knowing, of course) into the kitchen to pour herself some more drinks, whilst Hay Lin had told her before she had had enough for the day. Irma knows where everything is, we all do. God knows how many times we have been standing in that kitchen.

When we arrive at the hospital, Hay Lin sprints to the receptionist and yells with all her might. "In which room is Irma Lair located? Is she going to be alright? Tell me, woman!"

The receptionist, with the forename Nancy (I can tell by the name tag), is first taken aback by Hay Lin's wild behaviour, but she calms herself quickly. I suppose she is used to such actions, I believe there were a lot of people who behaved even worse than our Chinese girl.

She types something on her computer and afterwards focuses her attention back to our untamed artist. "Ms Lair is being operated now. You can sit in the waiting room."

We do as told, although Hay Lin is protesting a bit. Luckily, Taranee calms her down and walks her to the waiting room.

"It's going to be alright, Hay Lin. I promise," she sooths.

The youngest of the gang clenches her hands into fists and shrills furiously. "You don't know that! How can you be so sure? It's all my fault she's in here in the first place!"

"This is not your fault, you shouldn't blame yourself. Besides, Irma is a fighter, one way or another she will struggle through this."

Hay Lin only nods at Taranee's comforting words. She closes her watery eyes and lays her head on Taranee's shoulder, while I'm sitting on the opposite side of the waiting room. I dearly hope Taranee is right, I know that Irma is a true warrior by spirit, but this is really terrifying.

"When are her parents and brother coming?" I ask, but it's barely above a whisper. I think I'm too frightened to attempt to find my voice.

Taranee averts her eyes away from the magazine she's looking at and gazes directly into my light brown orbs with her shades. "Don't know, her parents are on their way, but they said it could take a while since there's a lot of traffic. As for Christopher, I couldn't reach him. But, I'll try again later."

"Okay."

Out of nowhere, a doctor appears at the entrance of the waiting room. He surveys the room and then calls out. "Are Ms Vandom, Ms Cook, and Mrs Lyndon present in this room?"

"Yes," I reply timidly.

"Good, can you come with me into the hall-way?" He indicates with his hand to follow him outside the waiting room, which we do.

Taranee blurts. "Is she fine?" As we wait for the doctor to answer, I bite my lower lip from anxiety and Hay Lin doesn't even dare to look the doctor in his eyes.

He scrapes his throat first, before he answers. "Yes, you don't have to worry." He waits a bit while we cheer silently, then he continues. "You came right in time. If Ms Lair had drunk more amount of alcohol it could have been fatal. But fortunately, that's not the case."

"Can we see her?" Hay Lin asks with fresh tears in her eyes, this time more out of happiness than sorrow.

"Perhaps later, Ms Lair needs to rest now."

"We understand."

The doctor give us a nod and then staggers of to do more healing work. After he's gone, I turn to my friends and give the two a tight hug. Taranee and Hay Lin head back inside of the waiting room, while I press my back into the wall in the hall-way and sigh loudly from relief.

I burry my face into my hands to prevent myself from crying. However, it doesn't work. I suppose I was in too much shock before, and tried to contain myself in front of Hay Lin. But now, I can let it all out and it feels so good. Thank heavens that Taranee was right, even tough I know it myself that Irma is a fighter. Still, there's always that opportunity that something horrible can happen.

After I regain my composure, I still ponder over Orube's behaviour earlier today. Why was she trying to avoid me? Does she feel bad about something? Does she resent me for some reason? Or is she feeling guilty about something?

For now, I decide to not dwell on the matter and go back inside to Taranee and Hay Lin. If something's up, I'm sure Orube will tell me when she thinks the time is right.


A/N: I dearly hope this story will have lots of success, because I think I'm going to enjoy writing this. Well, folks, reviews make me happy, they're my babies!

7/16/2006