So, this is a birthday fic for my awesome friend NICOLE (otherwise known as Twilight the dark angel). It's pretty cracktastic, but I tried to keep it somewhat in character. I have no idea when in the Midnighters timeline this takes place. It just DOES.

Also, I went to the Bixby public school site, and they totally do offer German. I was having a whole episode trying to figure out if Jessica should learn Spanish, French, German, or Latin. (I don't even know.) So, sorry Bixby for stalking you so relentlessly. I don't mean to.

You Just Lost

After all this time, Rex thought he might be used to it. He'd been through way too much with these four to be even remotely surprised at anything they did (unless it was something like, say, Dess failing trig or Jessica acing it). He'd fought supposedly nonexistant creatures with them, was saved by Jessica's flashlight, traded memories with Melissa, gone flying with Jonathan, and was given algebra-induced migraines by Dess.

And yet, one day at lunch, when Jessica announced, "I just lost the game", Rex could not help but be...surprised.

And more than a little confused.

"You what?" Dess asked, blinking behind her glasses.

"The game," Jessica said sadly. "I just lost it." She looked like someone had killed her puppy. If she had a puppy. It was an expression that Rex had never really seen on the peppy flamebringer, and it was both worrisome and off-putting.

Jonathan suddenly sat up straighter. "I hate you," he said, looking thoroughly horrified.

Rex blinked, wondering if he was the only one who was still confused. He looked around at the other midnighters, and was gratified to see that Dess and Melissa, at least, were blinking back at him.

"Uhhh..." Rex said intelligently. "What are you talking about?"

"The game, Rex," Jessica said, as if it was the most important thing to ever be discussed. "I lost the game!"

"Dammit!" Jonathan said. "Quit doing that!"

"If you two are breaking up, I call dibs on Flyboy's class ring," Dess said, returning to her lunch. What was left of it, anyway.

"What the hell is the game?" Melissa asked, her eyebrows drawing together. Rex could tell that a mindcasting headache was coming on. Whatever the game was, it was clearly something that Jessica and Flyboy had trouble comprehending.

"Basically, everyone is playing the game, whether they know it or not," Jessica explained. "And if you think about the game, you lose the game."

"...that makes no sense," said Dess, ever the voice of reason. "How do you win?"

"By not thinking about the game."

"How do you win a game you don't even think about?"

"By not thinking about it."

"That makes no sense!"

"It does when you think about it!"

"But you just said you weren't supposed to think about it!"

"Guys!" Melissa snapped, her hands clamped firmly over the sides of her head. "Would you quit thinking about your goddamn game?"

"Sorry," Dess said, though Rex could tell from the tone of her voice that she really was not sorry at all.

"Can we stop talking about it?" Jonathan asked. "I keep losing."

"The game," Melissa said, her lips twisting into a somewhat malicious smile despite her headache. Rex couldn't suppress his smirk. Seeing Jonathan get knocked down a few pegs was always one of Rex's favorite things.

Jessica noticed Rex's smirk and kicked him under the table. He tried to glare at her, but it was difficult when his shin was in such pain. For someone so little, she kicked hard.

"So..." Dess said.

"Did you do the German homework?" Jessica asked.

The conversation settled back to normal. Jonathan went back to stuffing his face, and Melissa put her head back down on her arms. Rex sat there, blinking. What had just happened again?

"No," Dess said. "Do I ever?"

"Don't they capitalize all their nouns?" Jonathan asked around a mouthful of peanut-butter-banana-bread sandwich. "Why would you do that?"

"They have cool names, though," Jessica said.

"Easy for you to say," Dess muttered. "You got Wendla. I'm stuck being Greta."

"Yeah, you just can't win, can you, Desdemona?" Jonathan asked. Dess punched him hard in the shoulder. "Ow!"

Rex had to grin, and shook his head. Just another lunch with the other midnighters. It was nice like this, he thought. Not having to worry about saving the world (okay, well, saving their crappy little town, whatever), or about his crazy father -- it was as close to normal as they were going to get. He looked at Jessica, her green eyes bright as she laughed at something Jonathan had said; Dess, a sly smile on her pale face; Jonathan, grinning over the success of his probably stupid joke. It was...

Rex groaned aloud, a sudden realization coming to him.

He had just lost the game.

Happy birthday, Nicole! You are the super-awesome-ultra-special Brownie of AMAZING. Plus, now you can drive! (The state of California is quaking in our boots! Not that we own boots. But if we did!)

(And look! Now you guys can all be like the midnighters, and LOSE THE GAME. HAH. I'm so evil. Mwahahaha. Mine is an evil laugh! Or something. This is the longest author's note I've ever written.)

Also, for those of you who don't know, Wendla is a character from the excellent play and musical, Spring Awakening. Jessica just seems like a Wendla-type. (Plus, she looks a ton like Phoebe Strole in my head.) Poor Dess got Greta, because I'm just MEAN. (Also, if Rex took German, his name would totally be Moritz. Or possibly Wolfgang.) Melissa takes French, and Jonathan takes Spanish, because it is the easiest A he's ever gotten in his life. I can't believe I even thought this out, what is my life.

Review, blah blah blah.

The Peace