Maybe getting whacked was tolerable after all.

No, Charlie Dalton couldn't blame himself for the sudden and unexpected thoughts springing into his mind on his way to Hagar's office.

For the one person, one alive, breathing, redheaded female was blocking his way at the door.

One with very—ah, let's say—attractive backside—okay, figure would be a more appropriate word.

After backing away a few steps into the Men's room for a last-minute, hurried hair/face check—no way he'd change the dull Hellton uniform—Charlie resisted the urge to try 'tricks,' and went on with the simple, gentlemanly elbowing. "Hey, lost your way, love?"

The girl turned her heart-shaped face towards him, green eyes surveying his face. "No," her unusual tone, an accent unfamiliar to his ears, British, he supposed, had an upbeat, hint of arrogance, lifting the end of her short word in a high note, "Are you?"

Oh, this is fun. She's asking me back.

He cocked his brown eyes at her. "Must be waiting for a good whacking, then?" he asked cheerfully, corners of his mouth lifting into a grin.

She rolled her eyes. "I suppose you are, but the lucky fate's not for me today, thank you."

God, what a girl

He didn't watch her mouth while she spoke, his eyes wandering, taking in her plain, ordinary face, shining eyes, and those, those tiny pair of rosy lips. She was not clad in Henley Hall uniform—good, for one thing—not wearing those red jackets from Chris's school, but a classy knitted sweater and a light green cardigan matching her eyes over her long checkered skirt.

Darn. Long skirts.

He gave her a curt nod. "Right, Ms…?"

She returned his fleeting smile. "Not getting it that easy, Mr…?"

Right before he was about to answer, Hagar's voice boomed out, "Dalton! IN HERE! You're late!"

He grinned briefly at her, pointing his index finger at the door, in what he fancied was a cool, transient enough "I've got to go, but I'll think of you," gesture, and went in to face his (usual) doom.

Her mouth twitched in hilarty, her words echoing after him. "Got it. Dalton."

Unnamed Random British Girl: 1. Me: 0.

xxxxx

"But where is she from? For God's sake (if He's ever considering my girl problems), a Brit?"

Charlie was lounging on his favorite couch in the study room, pondering on the mysterious suspect, while his fellow Dead Poets studied the night away.

Cameron's red head targeted him. "Haven't you got some trig to do?"

He lifted his pipe, pretending to shoot the obnoxious redhead (another redhead, what's wrong with the world?). "Oh, don't be such a killjoy, Cammy."

Immediately 'Cammy,'s' mouth moved in a mutter of noiseless demeaning words for a few seconds, (few uncounted for seconds in his life), its owner turning back to the monstrous pile of textbooks on the main table, behind which Neil (safely sheltered in his glasses) and Knox were safely hidden.

Neil adjusted his glasses, sparing a glance at him, his sentence dubious and incredulous. "What girl? What are you talking about, Charlie?"

Knox ruffled his hair, "Haven't seen any around here for ages, except, well, you know—" his voice drifting off in a hesitant, dreamy tone.

"—yeah, I know, Chris," Charlie repeated, his eyes closed, recited, almost, crystal clear of his boredom, "You just can't stop talking about her."

With seemingly arduous efforts, he dragged a Trigonometry textbook down from the table to his lap, and opened to the assigned page, stifling a yawn at a lift of his pencil. "Whatever, whatever, I don't care. Such a hot illusion, though," muttering to himself audibly.

Really.

He was this close to getting her name.

Okay, slim chance, but still.

"Hot?" exclaimed Knox, Neil, and Cameron as one, Charlie lifting his face up slowly from the page. "But Char—"

The door to the study slammed shut, and a dazed Meeks was pushed in, followed by the ever-towering Pitts.

"Go on, go on in," whispered Pitts, Meeks locked in his own world and oblivious to actions around him.

"It was—" Meeks mumbled, "It was…"

Unconsciously, the Dead Poets crowded themselves around Meeks, asking, "It was what, Meeks, c'mon, do tell!"

"A girl!" Charlie clicked his fingers, grinning, "Told ya I was right. Isn't it, Meeks?"

The only reaction as dazed as this happened the one time Meeks actually glimpsed Chris.

Meeks simply gave a robotic motion of his head as a yes.

The heads turned to Pitts for an explanation.

"Ah, uh, well," Pitts fingered his outershirt, shy at being the center of attention, "We were walking down the hall, and this girl asked us in this weird Brit accent where the library is. Meeks almost fainted, if I hadn't—"

Charlie cut him off, excited, "There! A Brit! Did she tell you anything else?" he asked.

Pitts shook his head, "Um, no."

He raised his eyebrow and came up with a simple. "Oh."

"So?" Neil laid his hands on the table, "Has Nuwanda found his lady?"

Charlie hit Neil playfully, "Don't use theater words with me, O Puck," he said, "It's not my 'lady,'" his voice spelled disdain at the word, "Just a girl I needed finding out. Acted like some sort of mystery."

Knox started to whistle a familiar tune. "Bait, Nuwanda. Your bait."

xxxx

The girl was there again.

In front of Hagar's office, regrettably.

"Are we ever going to meet somewhere else, m'lady?" he said, smoothing out his outershirt, questioning her. There. Some obvious theater crap. Blame him for being a hypocrite.

There was laughter in her eyes. "I don't know, maybe."

"So are you in for it again?"

He flipped the gold trinklets on his shirt at her, "Nope. Just on good behavior mode, and you?"

She shrugged. "It's hard to find my way around here. Still using this place as my starting point."

"Hard?" he pretended disbelief, "Where did you come from, old England?"

She licked her lips. "Got that one right, Dalton."

He smiled. "It's Nuwanda."

"Didn't know people have such weird names nowadays," she commented, stepping around.

Weird. Ha. Boring Charlie.

"What about yours?"

"Ah," she said softly, "Not as weird as you, but not as common."

"Of some foreign origin, then?"

She gave a reluctant, quick nod.

"Are you going to keep me guessing, honey?" he couldn't help it. He had to call her something.

She was about to answer (again, the de ja vu playing itself out before his eyes), when Hagar's voice called out.

"Come on in, dear Audrey, aren't you here to see me?"

Wait, wait, wait the hell a minute. Hagar calls her dear? Dear Audrey?

"Audrey," his mouth shaped her name, and she half-scowled back, briskly stepping into the office and disappearing from his sight.

Audrey. Nice. Like the actress.

Audrey: 1. Nuwanda: 1.