When We Were Young-

Year 4- Chapter 1- Exposé

Hustling bodies clothed in red and orange carefully danced around a small board with papers tacked over it. Some of the papers began to fall as students ranging in age from nine to nineteen traced across the paper with their fingers, looking for their names. A young boy hung back. His dark blonde hair was sticking up in all directions, making him look quite disorganised. He glanced between the people milling in the crowd, trying to find an opening. A much taller tenth year pushed his way past the boy as he tried to get a closer look. After a moment, he found a spot to slip into. He heard moans, cheers, sobs, and shouts as people found their names on the list. Dread was settling in his stomach as he looked at the people around him. If he didn't make a higher spot in the class, his father would be furious. And he was terrified of his father's retribution. Finally, the boy made his way to the board. He looked for his name from the alphabetical lists that covered every student in the Academy. After a moment of quick scanning, he found his name.

Theta-Sigma Epsilon. Room 163. Rank Number: 5

He nearly jumped with joy. He was fifth in the entire Academy after his testing scores had come back. He smiled triumphantly and edged his way back out. He started walking towards the east side of the campus, back to what would have been his room, until he remembered the end to the year before. His roommate, at the time another third year, had decided to take a new roommate, leaving Theta on his own. Of course, the Academy dealt with it and gave him a new room, but he was beginning to worry about his new roommate. He walked to the southern wing of the Academy which housed several of the dormitories, preparing himself for anything.

Maybe I'll just be partnered with someone normal. Maybe 600th in the rankings… And he won't care if I stay up late studying…. Theta hoped. As he neared the building, he saw the pile of personal belongings that had been shipped over for the new year of school. He pawed through until he found his brown pack and wrestled it out from between the two much larger bags it was wedged between. He looked at the numbers on the door. It was in the one hundreds, so that meant it was on the first floor. He walked up the stairs, beginning to panic anew. As much as he loved new things, new experiences, he wasn't sure how to react to being partnered with someone entirely new for a whole year. If he's really bad, I only have to deal with it for a year…. he tried to reason as he reached the entrance to the first floor. He walked down the hall, watching as the numbers inched down from ninety nine to sixty three. He stood in front of the door, bag slung across his shoulder, holding his breath. He raised a hand to the knock on the door. As soon as he made a gentle rasping noise, he heard a loud banging noise from the other side of the door, the sound of something falling.

"In the name of Rassalon!" a boy yelled. Theta cowered back slightly. After a moment, the door opened to reveal a much taller, black haired boy. He glared at Theta with cold, blue eyes before sighing. "You're the new roommate?" Theta nodded mutely. "Fantastic…I always wanted to be paired with a fourth year," he muttered sarcastically. Theta looked around the room from over the older boy's shoulder. It was chaotic. Papers were scattered across the two beds. Clothes, both clean and dirty were thrown across the room. Books were lying open on their bindings in the middle of the floor. Theta was mildly appalled at the treatment of the books.

"Theta-Sigma," he said, sticking a hand out. The black haired boy rolled his eyes and stepped back without shaking his hand.

"Koschei Mekail," he said. "You get the bed on the left; the one closest to the door is mine…" He glanced around and groaned to himself. "If something's in your way, just…. kick it somewhere else…" Theta inched into the room as Koschei shut the door.

"So… What year are you?" Theta asked, trying to make conversation.

"I'm a fifth year," he said, picking up some papers from the bed he had designated to Theta. "And if you see anything addressed to me, don't open it." Theta nodded quickly, wondering what made Koschei say that. At least there was an expectation of privacy.

"And your rank?" he asked. Koschei rolled his eyes.

"Nosy are we? Fantastic…" He shook his head. "Third." Theta's eyes widened. "And you?"

"Fifth." Koschei nodded after a moment.

"So, you're not stupid. That's good. I guess that means you'll have Borusa, too." Theta stared at him blankly. "The top ten students at Prydon have an extra class with Borusa to hone their skills in a subject of their choice. So really, you don't have much spare time to do anything during the week. It sucks, but Borusa's class is always interesting, so it kind of balances out." Koschei looked around the room one more time and then at Theta's pack. "That's all you've got?"

"Yeah?" Theta said, making it into a question by accident.

"Please tell me that you have a space-enhancer in there?" Theta nodded. "Okay, so still not an idiot…" He was interrupted by a knocking on the door. Koschei walked over and opened it. In the doorway stood a tall, brown haired girl with curly hair. She was dressed in an orange, high-necked shirt with a brown skirt and she wore her brown hair pulled back tightly into a knot at the back of her head. She looked at Koschei and gave an evil smirk.

"You got a fourth year!" she exclaimed, laughingly.

"Eh. He's fifth ranked. Better than yours. What is she? Six thousandth?" The girl looked at the ceiling.

"Pretty close, but that's beside the point." She strode in and looked Theta over. "Military, huh?" she asked. He blinked. "Your father's military, right?" He nodded.

"Yeah, but…. how did you… know?" Theta had to admit that he was thoroughly overwhelmed at everything that was going on. All he ever wanted was a normal roommate who wouldn't pester him, and he had had that not but a year ago. By this point, though, he knew that there was no way that would ever happen. At least not for another year. Room transfers were unheard of, and rumour said it was not allowed.

"You've got your hair cut like that." She motioned to his extremely short hair and noted, "You're standing like someone's driving pins into you. Not to mention you just give off that feel of strict childhood." She was teasing him and testing him at the same time, but Theta hardly recognised it.

"Uh yeah?"

"I'm Ushas," she said, sticking a hand out. Theta shook it and looked her up and down, as she had done to him. Her eyes lit up, as though she got an idea, and Theta had to admit that he was a little nervous. "You said he was fifth?" she asked, smile brightening. Koschei looked up from the papers he had picked up off of the floor and nodded. "That means you get Borusa with the rest of us!" she said, getting quickly excited.

"I already told him that," Koschei informed, raising his eyebrows in a silent challenge to her.

"What do you want to study?" she asked, ignoring Koschei's high and mighty tone. Theta sat down on the bed and shrugged.

"What do you mean?" Ushas swept the clothes off of Koschei's bed and sat down on it. She looked at the older boy teasingly.

"You obviously didn't tell him a lot," she retorted. He stuck his tongue out at her. "So, you know we've got Borusa. He's a specialized teacher for the top ten of the Academy, which now includes you. Anyway, we're supposed to choose a field and do research into it. Koschei's studying politics. I'm working with chemistry." Theta nodded vaguely. "So, I mean, you don't have to think of it right now, but… you might want to come up with something eventually. It's actually pretty fun." Theta vaguely remembered Koschei mentioning the choice of class, but there was so much to take in that he could hardly process all of it.

"I think you broke him," Koschei commented from the corner, shoving some papers under a small table as though it would actually make the room look cleaner. Theta looked at Koschei and then at Ushas.

"Yeah, well…" She stood up. "I've got to give my new roommate the whole 'don't touch my chemicals or you'll get blown up' speech before she… blows up." And she left without so much as another word. Koschei chuckled and walked over to the door. He shut it and grinned at the bewildered look on Theta's face.

"Yeah, she's a little…." He couldn't quite find the word he was looking for. The ones that did pop into his head weren't exactly words he would call Ushas in front of a stranger, anyhow.


"Obnoxiously so." Koschei agreed with a smile. "But she's good," he said, more seriously. "Better than some of the Deca…" Theta looked at him curiously, furrowing his eyebrows and knitting his hands together in front of him.

" The Deca?"

"Top ten students. It's what we call each other. One of Ushas' brothers organised it a couple years ago. He graduated and you took his spot. Well, kind of. He was sixth." An evil smile came over Koschei's face. "I wonder who you replaced!" he said, gleefully. "I hope it's Mortimus." Theta didn't like the idea of replacing an older student on the top ten.

"Um… Who?" Trying to pretend that he understood even part of what exactly was going on was useless, and Theta knew that.

"Mortimus is an ass," Koschei supplied with a bit of disgust sneaking into his features. "And hopefully you can avoid him as much as possible." He walked over to the table in the corner of the room and began stacking some books that were tattered and old. Theta walked over to help him. "The only person who can really keep him in check is Rallon. If one day you wake up, and I'm dead, it was Mortimus." Theta gave a small nod, unsure of whether or not he was joking. "Well, as long as you're not busy, let's go see if we can hunt down anyone else you should know." Koschei walked away from Theta and to the doorway, but Theta didn't move.

"I think I'll just stay here and… set my stuff up." Koschei gave a small laugh. He opened the door again and propped it open with his foot.

"I looked at your stuff. You don't have much. And I know it's a little overwhelming, but come on. It'll be fun," he offered, still holding the door. For some reason, Theta doubted it.

"If you say so," Theta conceded and grudgingly walked out of the room.

Next Chapter: The Deca