~*~ Part Four: A Scare and 'The Project' ~*~

Saffron was curled up, her body floating in the air, slightly above her mattress. She didn't like sleeping on solid things, no matter how soft they were. After all, she was accustomed to air . . . it was the most comfortable way to sleep. To her at least. And, the worst thing was -she couldn't sleep like so in front of Sarah. So many things she couldn't do here, not with Jareth's -Flavor -of- the- Century hanging around her at all times. Oh no, that'd be giving the game away, damn it all. She wanted to scream out loud from it. However, there was one consolation . . . so far, Mordred had not shown himself and it had been days since she'd arrived. Either Jareth had a new burst in pride for her, he had decided to wait to send Mordred, or the little prick of a sprite had forgotten his job. That second one was most likely, though the other two were more likable in her opinion. Too bad her opinion couldn't be a fact. She grimaced, closed her eyes again . . . and then the door opened. She was laying on her mattress in a blink, knowing very well she hadn't been seen. Saffron opened her eyes slowly, pretending as though she had just been awakened at her roommate's entrance.

"Good morning, sleepy head. Have a good cat nap?" Sarah smiled at her, going directly to her own bed and dumping out some books from her book bag. With that done, she gathered up two other hardbacks and stowed them in her pack. "Don't you have a class now?"

"Oh, no!" The other girl cried, hopping off her mattress and glad she'd stayed in her clothes she'd worn out earlier. "I completely forgot about Psychology when I came in after Creative Writing!" She went to her trunk and got her book, then grabbed out a compact mirror and checked her face- for Sarah's sake. The 'make up' she wore was natural for her. It had been for 420 years. From the 'eyeliner' to the 'glitter'. It was the same for most females in the Underground, and for some males as well - no matter what they were or had been before coming there for the rest of their lives. Only the goblins were spared from it totally. The goblins and those little talking worms.

Sarah, she knew, had already become suspicious of it. Of her makeup, and of the collar she never took off. 'Why doesn't your makeup ever smear?' and 'Why don't you take off that choker, even to go to bed?' Were the questions of the first days they'd known one another. Saffron had cursed Jareth for it all, then excused the make up as smudge proof (I lived in France for a while, wow -do they make great cosmetics!) and the collar as a gift from an old friend (It's a good luck charm he gave me, just like the crystals I have. It's taboo for me to take it off.) Yeah, I'm gonna unleash it on him when I get back home, Saffron growled in her mind as she explained these things. She knew of course, at the sake of Sarah's shaking head, that she was not believed.

"You know, you can just out and say it." That was Sarah then as well, breaking her thoughts. She put down the mirror and looked into the other girl's face.

"What?" Saffron asked, her voice shaking a little. Had she been found out, and how? Her heart was beating fast - practically ready to rip through her chest at the pace it was going, and her small hands had gone sweaty. Jareth's gonna kill me! Was all she could think.

"Your makeup is a tattoo, isn't it? That's why it never runs!" Sarah wagged a finger at her, though she was smiling. The girl was obviously proud of herself. Releasing a breath of relief, Saffron nodded her head.

"You got me" She threw up her hands, then brought them to her face, and rubbed at her 'eyeliner'. "All a tattoo."

"Didn't it hurt?"

"At times." Saffron told her, truthfully. For, how she'd come by her present 'markings' was rather painful . . . for her soul at least, even if there were times when she thought that had left her too. Then, her blue eyes went to the alarm clock on Sarah's desk. "Oh, and I gotta go. I'll see you at the Library like yesterday!"

"Good!" Sarah called after her. "I hate going into that cafeteria alone!"

"I hate the cafeteria!"

"But, it's the cheapest place to eat!" Both of the yelled at the same time, finishing the saying.

~~~

A while later, the two roommates met up again. They had gone to the cafeteria, and had taken their purchases out on the grounds to enjoy the weather while it was still so warm. Both were in rather good moods, and Sarah was giggling over a joke that Ronni had just told her. After a few moments though, Ronni had stopped the merriment on her own part. Her catty eyes were narrowed, and Sarah was sure the girl was repressing a hiss. Turning her face in the direction her roommate was looking, she saw a young man. He had long, black hair and was dressed in a fishnet shirt over vinyl pants and clunky looking boots -all of which was black of course. Around his throat was a black leather dog collar that was decorated in silver spikes. Both of his arms were wrapped with matching silver snake bracelets that started at his wrists and went to his elbows. Sarah had never seen anything like it. Ronni, however, obviously knew the guy -and her thoughts were not happy in his presence.

"Who is he, Ronni?"

"This guy I'm working with." She replied, finally looking back at Sarah. At the moment, Saffron was glad she thought all of this out and relayed the story line to Jareth when she'd had the time to. Mordred would know his role, and wouldn't confuse their prey unnecessarily and blow their cover. "His name is Derrick Redmore. We have a Psychology thing due at the end of semester."

"He looks like your type . . . so why the glaring?" Sarah ventured further.

"He's eyecandy, I'll give him that. But, he's also a pompous ass."

"Ah." Sarah nodded. "No need to explain further . . . I've dealt with the kind before."

Just then, they were joined by Ronni's 'Project Partner'. He was very handsome close up, and Sarah noticed that he was also wearing body glitter. His eyes were a very pale shade of gray, almost silver, she noted. That was odd, but also to be envied. Not unnatural though, after all . . . one of her friends from highschool had violet eyes -and those had not been contacts. He glimpsed her briefly, then turned his attention to Ronni and sat at her side on the tree root where the girl had been eating. Sarah noticed she looked highly uncomfortable, and she moved away as soon as he got too close. Another note made in her mind was the disappointment he showed for a second before an emotional mask came over his face, and he began on his conversation.

"So, how's your part of the project coming?" He began. Sarah liked his voice. It had a familiar accent to it as well, not like Ronni's . . . but still very familiar.

"I'm doing well with it, thank you. Which is something you cannot say for your part." She growled back, making him laugh.

"You were to initiate it, not me. But, I'm ready to pitch in. Just tell me when is best." His smile seemed bewitching to Sarah, though it was directed at her new found friend and not herself.

It too spoke of something familiar, something she'd forgotten. Every time she tried to think of it, the image of her crystal popped up. It was, after all, such an enchanting crystal. Enchanting . . . now, why did that word make her feel skittish? She shook of the feeling, then heard as Derrick bayed his farewells. She waved at him, and received a nod.

"He didn't seem too bad." She stated to Ronni, who was still glaring at his back.

"Give him a bit . . . you'll see what I mean." She replied.

"So, what's the project anyway?"

"Hypnosis. Intriguing bit too."

"Mind if I see the notes sometime?" Sarah asked, picking her sandwich back up.

"Sure, give me a few more days though - Derrick has his work to do, after all."

"I think you like him, and you're just scared to explore that."

"Think what you like, deary. Think what you like." With that, Ronni got up and stretched. "As for me, well . . . I think I'm going to go back to the library for a bit."

"Okay, see you back in the room." Sarah watched her friend leave, then went back to her sandwich once more - her own mind turning to thoughts of her crystal back in her room.

Little did she know that Jareth was planning now that she'd fallen under the spell his minions were weaving about her.

***********

More Soon!