Title: Conventio Custodis (loose title. Open for suggestion, might be changed at a later date)

Author: Calex

Rating: 18

Disclaimer: Not mine. The Covenant belongs to… whoever it belongs to. Just playing with the characters, here.

A/N: Alright, my first attempt at writing a Covenant fic. Hope you guys enjoy.

There was something weird with Ipswich, Massachusetts. She'd known it ever since she first drove through the small town with its buildings that she didn't think existed out of TV shows with Sheriffs and festivals with pie eating contests, but apparently it did. It was such a mind trip to be in America after so long, and despite being open to new challenges and new things, she just couldn't help but be apprehensive about her parents' decision to move out of England and to America especially before her senior year.

Her family had moved around a lot due to the fact that her father's job at the Embassy, but she'd lived the first six years of her life in America, because of her mother. Danielle Graison-Crawford was an American heiress who'd lived in New York, where she'd met Reginald Crawford, the English Ambassador from London. They'd fallen in love, or so her mother had said, and they got married not a month after meeting. Danielle wanted her daughter to be close to her American roots so no matter where they moved, Taine had always been enrolled into an American school.

The past few years, her father had wanted to go back to his home, and they were lucky when that transfer in England had opened up. The Crawfords had moved back to London, where they had stayed until a few months ago, when Danielle had gotten a call from her mother to say that her father was ill. So they'd packed up and moved back to New York. Then they had transferred Taine to Spencer Academy in Ipswich of all places. Ipswich. What was up with that? There were plenty of good schools in New York, but Danielle had insisted. It was a good school, it had a good reputation of getting its students into Ivy Leagues. Then Grandfather Crawford had said that it was where he had been sent and that was that.

It wasn't that she hated Spencer. She'd been there for two months, and it seemed okay. Well, aside from the dead kid in the woods after the party. God, she still got the shivers about that, it was so gruesome. Worse was because she knew him. She wasn't stupid, she knew that violence and badness existed outside of newpapers, news and the movies, but it was another thing to have it close to you. He had been assigned as her Chemistry partner and sure, she didn't really know him that well, but he'd seemed like an okay guy. She'd started to get to know him and now he was dead. It fucked with the mind.

Then there was that fire thing at the Putnam Barn. What was up with that? And the other new kid, Chase Collins, had evidently disappeared. No one had seen him that night, and the scariest thing was that the last person he was around was Spencer's Golden Boy himself, Caleb Danvers. The whole situation was just so odd, and the weird thing was, Caleb didn't seem to be in trouble with the police or anything. It was so strange, she knew that if something like that happened in New York or London, Caleb would be in big trouble. Maybe he had an alibi… but no. Rumour had it that it was Caleb that had called the fire department, and told them about a body. A body that was never found.

Not that it would ever affect her, of course. It wasn't like she made it a habit to talk to Caleb and his friends, the ones that everyone called the 'Sons of Ipswich'. Ultra rich, ultra cool, ultra popular and ultra hot. Aside from Caleb there was Pogue Parry, Reid Garwin and Tyler Simms. And she'd already found herself following in the footsteps of most of the girls of Spencer and drooling over the fantastic four. The one that especially caught her eye, though, was Pogue, though that was definitely something that had 'don't even go there' written all over it, and it wasn't just because Pogue was already going out with someone. Oh no, the reason why she was so wary about Pogue Parry was that he reminded her of her ex-boyfriend.

That day, all she wanted to do was crawl into her bed and sleep. She had woken up later than usual and had missed breakfast and was lucky she got to class at all. As it was, she had been a minute late, and had been scolded by her Lit teacher, but thankfully he'd left her with a warning. Hardy was a complete stickler for the rules, and Taine knew she got off easy only because her record in class so far had been good, and because she'd aced her English entrance exam.

It didn't' get away from the fact that she had been brought to everyone's notice, though, and as she went climbed up the stairs to the only available seat, she noticed that a few people were shooting her sympathetic looks, or were just smirking at her misfortune. Taine just ignored them as she slumped into her seat, taking out her books and a notepad before pasting on a 'I'm ready and listening to everything you're saying with utmost concentration' look on her face. Hardy must've bought it, because he started the lesson shortly after.

Sighing, she slumped in her seat, twirling her pen absently between her fingers. God, she was tired. She'd been up late last night, chatting to her friends in England until the little hours of the morning. She'd finally crashed at about four and got up at seven fifty, leaving her ten minutes to get ready and get to her first class. It was not going to be a good day, she just knew it. Forget having powers of looking into the future, she just knew it. It didn't take a psychic to realise that she would be in a complete zombie-like state in all of her classes, considering the fact that she had a pretty heavy work schedule in front of her.

"Late night?"

Taine turned to face the guy next to her, at the murmur by her ear. When she saw who it was, she let out a noise that sounded strangely like 'meep'. The guy smirked at her from his attractive mug. Oh god, oh god of all days she got saddled sitting next to Pogue Parry, Reid Garwin and Tyler Simms, it had to be the day that she knew she looked like the Bride of Frankenstein. She groaned, but tried to play it cool, despite the fact that all she wanted to do was to hit her head repeatedly against the table, or for the floor to open up and swallow her whole. She shot him a weak smile as she tucked her hair behind her ear, effectively hiding her mouth from Hardy.

"You can say that again," she murmured back with a sigh. Pogue let out a little laugh at that.

"Pogue Parry."

"I know." She grinned at the surprised look on his face and bit back a laugh. "You shouldn't be surprised, you boys are hot news in Spencer."

"Yeah, well…" Cute. She swore that he looked embarrassed as he fiddled with his pen. "Lies, all lies."

"I'm sure that's not completely true," she teased. "I'm Taine Crawford."

"Taine?" he asked, brow furrowed. She actually did laugh, then, though she made sure she kept it low enough not to disturb anyone. Despite that, Reid Garwin and Tyler Simms turn around to look at her, and she swore that Reid raised an eyebrow at Pogue.

"Right, like Pogue is so a normal name," she shot back, tone sarcastic. Then she tipped her head to the side, looking thoughtful. "Scottish, right? Meaning 'from the pool or pit'." At his look, she laughed again. "I like to know the meaning of names."

"So what, you know the meaning of every name?" Reid asked sarcastically. She snorted, knowing that was a farfetched idea at best, and so did the boys. So she went for honesty.

"Of course not. I got curious so I did a little checking up. What?" she laughed again. "I wasn't kidding when I said that you guys are hot news. Besides, you have unusual names and after being saddled with the name Aurelia Taine, I wanted to know what the hell my parents were thinking."

"Aurelia Taine? Your first name is Aurelia?" Reid snorted. Taine half heartedly glared at him, because she knew that he was right.

"I know that I sound like the reject cast of the Addams Family, alright? Hence why I go by Taine."

"So what does you name mean?" Tyler broke in awkwardly, obviously only asking because he wanted to diffuse the situation. She smiled at him in thanks.

"Aurelia from the Greek meaning 'Golden' and Taine from the Gaelic meaning 'River'. Golden River." She sighed. "My parents are a bit much. I suspect that my mother would've liked to be a hippie, but no doubt Grandfather Graison probably vetoed it. With great passion."

"So what does my name mean?" Reid challenged, smirking. Taine rolled her eyes, but steepled her fingers together, leaning her chin on her hands, staring thoughtfully into space. She knew the meaning, but she always made sure to get the wording right.

"Reid, from the Old English meaning 'near the reeds'," she said, finally. Then she smiled at Tyler. "And Tyler from the Old English meaning 'a worker in roof tiles'." At Reid's burst out laughter, Hardy turned around and frowned disapprovingly at them, and Reid smiled in mock apology.

"Mr. Garwin, something you'd like to discuss with the class?" the professor asked, icily. Reid shook his head.

"Sorry, Professor Hardy. Taine was just telling me about the book."

"It's a play, Mr Garwin, not a book. AndI don't see that anything should be amusing about 'Hamlet'," the older man said, stiffly. And Reid shook his head in mock amazement.

"But what about when Hamlet was dumb enough to kill off his own girlfriend's old man? Dude's seriously whacked. We all know that isn't how we get the ladies." A few people laughed because, well, it was Reid Garwin, but Taine just rolled her eyes, though she had to admit that it was a good save. Professor Hardy sniffed.

"Well, if there are no more interruptions – "

"Nice save, Garwin," she murmured and he took a subtle bow which got her biting her cheek to keep from giggling. Pogue rolled his eyes, but he was hiding a smile as well, and Tyler just grinned at his best friend. But then he poked said best friend.

"What was with the laugh?"

"Man, the meaning of your name is lame."

"Like being called 'near the reeds' is so much better."

"Children," Pogue intoned, rolling his eyes. Taine did giggle then, though she made sure she kept it below Hardy's hearing range, especially as Reid mock-pouted at his best friend. Reid Garwin with his carefully cultivated bad boy image was pouting. It was too much. It made her miss her friends so badly, they all used to sit and joke around like that all the time, back in London.

"Sorry, mom," Reid said, sarcastically. At Hardy's glare, the four of them quietened and looked carefully studious, though Taine had to bite her lip to keep from grinning as she hastily scribbled something down in her notebook. Man, these guys were a complete trip.

"So, where're you from?" Pogue whispered from the corner of his mouth. "You're accent's different."

"Where aren't I from." Taine snorted. "My family moves around a lot because of my father's work, but I hail from London, England, most recently."

"London?" His eyebrows hit his hairline, but he looked interested. "What was it like, studying there?"

"I went to an American school," she shrugged. "So the academic aspects are the same. But London is a cool place. I miss it," she admitted.

"Oh year? What did you do for fun?"

"What kids usually do," she laughed. "Hang out with my friends. Go down to the pub. Go bar hopping, clubbing. Watch movies."

"Clubbing? Bar hopping?" Reid asked, eyebrow raised. He paused to look her up and down exaggeratedly before smirking. "No offence, but you don't look like the rule breaker type." Taine almost snorted out loud at that. Not the rule breaker type, ay? But then again, he wouldn't know any better.

It wasn't likely that the three of them had ever noticed her outside of class, or even properly before today. And besides, she had been keeping a low profile in Spencer, due to her parents' urgings. 'Just one year, then University and then you can do whatever you want to do', her mother had said. But hey, her pride was on the line. In England, no one would say it, to her face or otherwise. Then again, in England it was blatantly obvious that she wasn't the little miss goody-two-shoes that Reid apparently thought she was.

"Uh, Garwin, I know you're blond and all but there's this thing where laws are different in different countries." She raised her eyebrow at him. "In England I'm legal. The legal drinking age is eighteen. Though I wasn't when I first started out," she muttered quietly, but apparently not quietly enough because Pogue and Reid heard her as well.

"Wait, wait, wait. Little Taine Crawford's trying to say that she's a bad ass?" Reid just about died quietly laughing. "Whatever. You probably wouldn't know 'bad' if it bit you in the ass."

"I find it amusing that someone who so obviously doesn't know me can claim to know me better than I know myself," she said, tone slightly icy. Okay, pride was definitely on the line, here. Sure, she wasn't exactly proud of the things she did, nor was she ashamed, but she'd once thought it was cool. Back in pre to early teens, that is.

"Fine." Reid challenged. "What's your favourite drink. Alcoholic only."

"Tequila," she said, easily. "Slammers. Lime, not lemon. Anything with tequila suits me just fine. But my favourite 'tequila' based cocktail would be a margarita. Nothing with blue curacau, though, that stuff makes me down. Weird, huh."

"Riight," Reid rolled his eyes. "How do I know you're not lying?"

"You can't," she laughed. "It's this little thing called trust. I'm sure you've heard it before. If you don't, I'm sure I can find a Websters somewhere…"

"Cute," Reid smirked. Then he turned to Pogue and Tyler, as though she wasn't even there. "I like her. She's got a smart mouth."

"Whatever, Garwin," she sighed, flipping him off. Pogue snickered quietly to himself as she casually flicked her eyes to her watch. Then her eyes widened. Ho-ly shit, was that actually the time? She better pay attention to Hardy.

"- and remember to turn in your assignments on Friday." Hardy finished. "Class dismissed."

"Oh my god," she quietly hyperventilated. "I just missed the whole lesson. Talking. With you guys. Oh my god."

"You say that a lot," Tyler offered, and she shot him a weak glare before moaning and dropping her head on the desk. Then she did bang it a few times against the wood until Pogue laughingly cushioned her forehead with his hand.

"Hang in there," he teased. "I wouldn't want to have to carry you to the infirmary with a concussion." She snorted.

"Do you think that if I did get one, Hardy would lay off me about the assignment?" The four of them thought about it for awhile, then simultaneously said 'nah'.

"Hell," she sighed. "I'm going to have a great couple of days. Two days. Two days. And I haven't written any bloody notes on Hamlet. At all. Fuck."

"I thought you were Hardy's golden girl?" Tyler asked curiously, as they all packed up. Taine just groaned, running her hand over her face. What a joke. She was supposed to be, though. She was supposed to be this amazing English student that Hardy practically salivated over having. That was why he cut her some slack about coming late, that day. But in the past few days, she'd… well… hadn't really concentrated in class because she was talking to her friends in England online and god, everything was just so messed up. She told as much to the boys.

"I'm really behind in my other classes," she admitted, glumly. "I thought I'd finished off all my work and I wanted to just relax, but no, I had to forget about that stupid assignment."

"I'll lend you my notes," Tyler offered, shyly. She was surprised at this gesture, and seriously touched, and she guessed that it must've shown because Tyler started blushing a little. Taine grinned. She'd just made one of the Sons of Ipswich blush. Cool. Granted, it was Tyler, but still, major points!

"Thanks, Tyler," she said, gratefully. "That would be a big help."

"Aw, does babyman have a crush on the Golden River?" Reid teased, slinging his arm around Tyler's neck and messing up his hair. Tyler shoved his friend off of him and rolled his eyes.

"Whatever, man, you'd lend her your notes, too. You know, if you actually made any."

"Thanks," Taine laughed. "But I wouldn't trust his notes, anyway." At Reid's affronted look, Taine just laughed harder. "Don't be so sensitive, Garwin. I just know what you're like in class, that's all."

"Hey, I might surprise you," he said, suggestively, and Taine snorted again. It was weird, she thought, as she grinned at Tyler and Pogue. Before the class, she'd have blushed if Reid Garwin said anything like that to her, but now she just laughed it off. The class had been a hell of a lot of fun, just joking around with the guys. They were seriously cool, not to mention funny.

Just then, a throat was cleared and Taine whirled around to see Caleb Danvers…except maybe whirling around wasn't such a good idea because she banged her elbow against the metal edge of a seat, which made her see stars. Pogue caught her as she tripped, and both of them fell into the desk. Pogue winced at the feel of the edge of the table banging against his side, but it was Taine that voiced her discomfort.

"Ow. Ow. And ow."

"Tell me about it," he muttered, as he steadied her, and then got up. His hand was pressing against his side, and Taine felt a flash of guilt for making him hurt, rubbing her elbow. She was surprised by the concern in Pogue's eyes as he looked her over. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah, I just hit my funny bone against the chair. What?" she protested, at his incredulous glare. "It hurts, alright. Shut up, Reid, it isn't funny."

"Oh yes it is, it really is," he guffawed. Then something happened. Pogue slapped him upside the head. Gently, but he still did it. Taine's eyes got wide as she looked at Pogue, but he was just looking at Reid with a raised eyebrow.

"Quit being obnoxious," he said, mildly, and Reid glared as he rubbed his head.

"Alright, already. Geez, man."

"Uh, thanks," she said, but he sounded unsure. He just smiled at her, then turned to Caleb, who stood there, watching the unfolding scene with a raised eyebrow and a slightly confused expression. Confused looked good on him, but then again, most anything looked good on Caleb. He was just one of those guys that would look good, even if he was drooling and drugged up on pain killers. Not a good look for anyone.

"Caleb, this is Taine Crawford. Taine, I'm sure you know Caleb."

"Of, yes," she said, as she offered her hand to him for a shake. He had a firm one, good. And god, that boyish smile was really something. It made her want to hug him. Okay girl, get a grip, she said, mentally. You don't want to weird them out with your freakish displays of affection. Especially not to someone you haven't even talked to beyond the 'of, yes' of just now.

"Hello," he said, politely. "You're in Latin with us, right? And History."


"Hey, what does his name mean?" Reid asked, eagerly. Pogue and Tyler looked interested, too, and Caleb just looked even more confused.

"My name? Why would she know what my name means?"

"Taine's interested in that kind of thing," Pogue informed him. "She told us what our names meant."

"It's Hebrew," she said, quietly. "For dog." Reid just about died laughing. Again. Even Tyler and Pogue couldn't help themselves. "Seriously, I'm not making this up."

"Caleb's a dog's name?" Reid was snickering. Taine sighed and punched him lightly on the shoulder. "What? I'm not allowed to make fun of his name, now? Taine," he whined.

"In the Old Testament Caleb is the name of one of the twelve spies sent by Moses into Israel. Of the Israelites who left Egypt with Moses, Caleb and Joshua were the only ones who lived to see the promised land," Taine explained. Caleb, Pogue and Tyler looked impressed by her knowledge, but Reid was still snickering to herself. "Reid, stop it."

"What is it with people today?" Reid complained. "Can't a guy do anything without being lectured? Geez."

"Whatever, Garwin."

"Careful, Crawford, you're starting to sound like a broken record. Whatever, Garwin," he imitated in a falsetto, batting his eyelashes. Taine laughed at his antics as the five walked out of the classroom. Outside, seemingly waiting for them was a blonde. Caleb's girlfriend, she noted, Sarah Wenham. The other girl smiled at Taine.

"Hey," she said, tone friendly. "Taine Crawford, right?"

"Yeah. And you're Sarah Wenham."

"That's right," she grinned at Taine, as she looked at the guys who were joking around behind her. Caleb slipped around his friends to make his way next to his girlfriend, kissing her softly, then wrapping his arm around her waist.

"Bet sitting with those guys made you completely distracted during class, right?" she grinned as she said this, and Taine couldn't help but laugh.

"Got it in one. But Tyler's saved my life and said he'd lend me his notes."

"Oh yeah," Tyler said, as he swung his backpack forwards and started rummaging through it. Finally, he pulled out a black folder and took out a few pages. "There's the notes."

"Thanks, Tyler," she said again, kissing his cheek. And proceeded to make the quiet boy blush twice in the space of five minutes. Which only served to make Reid tease him about having a crush on her. Again. The six of them walked towards their next class, which they all had together, again. Something wasn't quite right, though. She was sure that there was something missing… Oh yeah. Wasn't Kate Tunney in their English class as well? She voiced her question to the group, and was confused by the tension that her innocent question wrought. Pogue especially looked stony faced, and Sarah seemed uncomfortable.

"She had to uh, get to her next class," Sarah mumbled, and if it was even possible, Pogue's face got stonier. Taine suddenly got an inkling of what might've possibly happened. Uh oh. Pogue and Kate couldn't possibly be over, could they? Hell, how had this not made gossip already? She was embarrassed by the faux pas and tried to break tension by making light conversation.

"So, History with Professor Blackthorne. Anyone got any coffee?" The laugh that her comment generated eased the mood somewhat, and made her sigh in relief. Obstacle one overcome. She really needed to be careful, though. And it seemed that Pogue's good cheer was a bit forced. Their conversation carried on in that casual tone until they got to class.

"So what do you think about Taine?" Reid asked, as he prepared for his next shot. They were hanging out in Nicky's that night. Reid, Tyler and Pogue were hanging out by the pool table while Caleb danced with Sarah. Reid's eyes narrowed as he shot, watching as red ball went into the corner pocket.

"She's nice," Tyler offered, sipping from a beer bottle. "I like her."

"We know you do, Tyler," Reid teased, and Tyler rolled his eyes. Reid had been going on and on about Tyler's apparent crush on Taine, and he was getting a little sick of it. He knew he should just ignore it, as Reid would take his denial as further proof, but he did feel the need to defend himself.

"I don't like her like that. She's nice in a friend sort of way, you know?"

"She's hot," Pogue commented, and watched as Reid overshot, and the white sailed into the pocket. Ignoring Reid's curse, Pogue grabbed the white and lined it up for his shot. "Funny."

"I knew it," Reid crowed. "I thought you were being a little too attentive."

"Whatever, man," Pogue rolled his eyes, watching as two stripes made it into the side pocket. He grinned. Perfect shot. "Just because I think she's hot doesn't mean I'm into her."

"Really? So you'd have absolutely no problem if I asked her out?" Reid watched in satisfaction as Pogue's shot went awry. He smirked as he took his place, watching the solids. "Oh yeah, definitely not into her."

"Shut up," Pogue muttered. But he knew it was weak. Truth was, yeah, she'd caught his notice. When she'd dropped into the chair next to him, he knew she didn't even notice who she was sitting next to. She'd looked so exhausted, but it still didn't detract from that fact that she was pretty. Even with dark circles under her eyes, her shirt buttoned wrong and hanging a little out of her skirt, she was hot. Taine had that whole exotic thing going for her, which everyone knew was his type. Look at Kate. But that was exactly why he didn't want to be into Taine. He'd just broken up with Kate the night before, and he felt it was somewhat disrespectful to her if he immediately went for another girl.

It was just fate, though, that Taine had to sit next to them and he'd have to notice her. Sure, he'd kinda noticed her before, what with her being in a lot of his classes, but he'd never really talked to her before. And he genuinely did like her. She was funny, like he'd said. Nice. Smart. Mouthy. Hell was she mouthy, but he liked that about her. He liked that she was sarcastic and dry and quick with her comebacks. He liked the fact that she could take teasing on her part with a shrug and a laugh.

Then there was Reid. He might've been acting like he was joking about asking Taine out, but Pogue had been watching him in English with her, and it looked like he was into her as well. And she and Reid seemed to get along in a scary kind of way. He had been completely distracted by her that day, she'd sat with them in all of their classes, since they went there together, and he just started noticing a hell of a lot of things about her that he liked.

Like the way she bit her lip when she was thinking, and how serious her grey eyes got when she was listening to their professors. The way that one lock of dark hair would always fall into her eyes and she'd brush it away absentmindedly as she wrote. Her laugh was like a punch in the gut, all low and husky. There were a hell of a lot of things about Taine Crawford that he'd discovered he liked, and it bothered him.

Just rebound, Pogue, get a grip on yourself, he told himself, sternly as he moved to take his turn. It's too soon after Kate, you're probably just missing having a girl. Just leave it. Yeah, that had to be it. Rebound, nothing more. He breathed out a sigh of relief as he took his shot, got it in and moved for the next one. He felt immediately better at that realisation. Sure, Taine was hot, but he just noticed her because he missed Kate. Feeling much more cheerful after that, and after pocketing Reid's twenty (which the blond had given over with reluctance), Pogue went over to the bar to order when he stopped. Because she was there, leaning over the bar so that an inch of pale gold skin showed over her snug, faded low rise blue jeans.

Rebound feelings, he repeated to himself, but a small part of him realised that it would take a lot of effort to remind himself of that, especially as she turned around when she caught sight of him and her flashed him a huge megawatt smile. Just rebound feelings.

Taine handed Nicky a twenty, then stepped back from the bar. It was nine o'clock and she was treating herself to some out-of-school time for finishing Hardy's essay in record time. Tyler's notes really had been a godsend. She had to hand it to the guy, Tyler wrote clear, concise notes. It had been so much help while she sweated out writing the essay. Three hours on the damn thing, which she'd gotten started on right after school, then she'd taken a bath and realised she had too much adrenalin pumping through her to sleep. So she decided to find the local bar that the other students frequented, Nicky's.

She had taken a bit of time getting ready. She knew that it was highly likely that the boys would be there, that night, since it was supposed to be one of their favourite hangout spots, and she felt that it was a point of pride to prove to Reid that she wasn't as much of a goody-two-shoes as he thought she was. Okay, there was also the fact that she wanted to look hot, just in case she bumped into them. It wasn't a crime, any girl would feel the same if they were in her situation. They all looked Hollywood worthy, and no one wanted to be the runt in the litter.

But there was the other side of the coin to that. She didn't want to seem to be trying too hard. She needed to settle for naturally hot, or at least hot-with-little-effort. So she put on a pair of snug, faded jeans, pulled on a moss green corset-style tank top with a low, scooped neckline. For shoes, she pulled on a pair of scuffed black combat boots, pulled her hair into a ponytail and put on the lightest touch of makeup before she walked out towards the parking lot.

Nicky's was… nice. It had lots of atmosphere. There were pool tables and foosball tables and a dance floor with people writhing to music that came out from a jukebox. She'd grinned when she saw the place and decided that it was her new favourite hangout spot and went to order some food when she noticed Pogue, Reid and Tyler by one of the pool tables. She'd grinned, and had to fight off the butterflies that clamoured in her stomach. It was stupid, she was perfectly fine with them earlier, but just the thought of being able to hang out with them now made her feel so unbelievably nervous. So she'd gone to the bar. But when she finished and saw Pogue looking at her…well. She smiled.

God, he's gorgeous, she thought, hazily. There should be laws against people being that hot. He should have 'Danger: Can cause spontaneous combustion' tattooed on his forehead. But she'd forced herself to keep calm when he answered her smile with that gorgeous half-smile of his and walked over to her. Okay, Crawford, calm down. It's just Pogue, the guy you were hanging out with all day. There's absolutely no reason to be nervous.

"Taine," he said, and she almost shivered. His voice was lethal. She had a thing for low, husky voices and Pogue's fit the bill all too well. No, she told herself sternly as she realised where that train of thought was going. No checking out of Pogue, no crushing on him, nada. You've already gone for the leather-wearing, husky voiced, motorcycle riding bad boy and guess what? He broke your heart. Don't even go there. 'But Pogue isn't Søren…'. Not even, don't go there.

"Hey, Pogue," she said, casually. She flicked a glance at the pool table to find Reid's gaze zeroed in on her and she smiled, waving at him. He smirked and elbowed Tyler who was taking a shot. Tyler shot him an annoyed look as his shot went off, but followed his gaze to her. When he saw her, he beamed. Tyler was such a sweet kid. Then she turned back towards Pogue. "What're you doing here?"

"Hanging out," he shrugged. "We come to Nicky's a lot."

"You do?" She wasn't sure how she kept her face straight as she said that. Like she didn't know that before. Pogue's sideways glance at her told her that he knew as well as she did that it was common knowledge. "I guessed. I'd hoped I would see you guys here."


"Yeah," she smiled at him. "You made my sucky, would-be-zombie-like day more bearable. I'd had fun."

"Me too," he murmured. Taine wasn't too sure, but she could've sworn that he didn't sound all that happy with it. But she just shrugged it off, mentally. "How's the English essay?"

"Done and dusted," she said, with complete satisfaction. "That means that I have a free and open weekend. Thank God. If I didn't, I would've screamed and committed murder or something." He laughed.

"Lucky for us that you did, huh? Listen, you want to grab a table? Reid and Tyler look like they're almost finishing up."

"Sure," she said, grinning. Score. A table with the Sons of Ipswich, who would've thought that she'd be there right now? And all because she didn't have enough sleep and was late to English class. Maybe the fates were kind, after all. Then she looked around. "Where's Caleb?"

"Dancing with Sarah," he said, as he called Nicky over. Nicky nodded and a little while later Pogue ordered, and the two of them talked genially while they waited for their food. When it came, Pogue gestured for Reid and Tyler to come with after they finished their game, then went to find a free table. Snagging one as a couple got up to leave, Pogue looked around the room for his other two friends. He tried not to frown as he saw his best friend slow dancing with his girlfriend, even though the music war far too upbeat for slow dancing. He couldn't help the stab of envy that went through him at the sight. He almost jumped when he felt Taine's hand on his arm, and when he looked at her, he saw her eyes filled with compassion.

"You okay?" she asked, quietly. He nodded, then sighed and shrugged.

"I don't know," he answered truthfully. "But I think I'll live. You know?"

"Yeah," she sighed as well, turning away. "Too well." He raised an eyebrow at that.

"Boyfriend problems?"

"Not anymore," she replied, dryly. "We broke up."


"It was way past time," she admitted, picking up her drink for a sip. Pogue took that as a sign to drop the subject when Reid and Tyler plopped down on the seats around them. Tyler said a soft greeting to her, which she returned, and Reid turned his chair around before straddling it, resting his chin on the back. He grinned at her.

"Well, I guess I'm going to have to believe you after all," he drawled, checking her out. Pogue fought an irrational sense of irritation at Reid's blatant flirting, and his friend's sideways smirk to him told him that Reid was very aware of the fact that Pogue wasn't all that happy with him. Taine, thankfully, seemed oblivious and chatted to Reid. Soon enough, Pogue relaxed and once again they began joking around like in Hardy's class, laughing and playing around.

A while later, Caleb and Sarah appeared, flushed, and Caleb looked surprised at the addition of Taine to their group, but welcomed her with a warm smile. Sarah hugged her and the two girls launched into conversation which just served to baffle the guys. Pogue leaned back in his chair, sipping from his beer and grinning as Reid and Taine got into a minor scuffle over her last fry. He was going to just enjoy himself and forget his problems. He deserved that, right? Just one night of being a normal guy with his friends. Then his eyes went to the door and he froze. Kate. And… Aaron Abbott?