"From Below the Mask"

"Wake up you slacker!" yells the teacher, Snapping a yardstick toward Epsilon, who has had his head down for the majority of the class. Keeping his head down in his left arm, he quickly holds up his right arm and catches the yardstick effortlessly.

"I'm not asleep…" he mumbles, as his grip tightens on the stick, noticeably agitated. Amber, sitting beside him takes notice of his mood and puts her hand on his shoulder and quietly whispers to him.

"Epsilon please". He lets go of the yardstick and puts his arm back down on the table. The annoyed teacher walks back up to the board and begins his lesson again where he left off.

"Thanks" Epsilon whispers back to her, and her cheeks go slightly pink. She looks up at the board and thinks to herself " a few weeks ago I would've done the same thing the teacher did, it's hard to believe he always passes when he never pays attention". She looks across the table and sees Pete and Rowyn, Epsilon's best friends, staring at her.

"Why'd you have to stop him? Man what I'd give to see Epsilon deck Mr. Johnson for all the shit he gives him," Pete says quietly to her.

"Why does it bother him so much anyway? Epsilon aces every test, so what if he doesn't pay attention? At least he doesn't cheat," Rowyn chimes in.

"Who would he cheat off of," Pete chuckles, "us?" he says sarcastically to Rowyn. "He wouldn't be getting A's then." The two boys laugh.

"Quiet in the back!" Mr. Johnson exclaims.

Whispering again, " I just wish he would stop, one of these days Epsilon is just going to get to mad and not be able to stop himself."

"Well as long as you're around it seems it's under control," Rowyn says softly to her and he cheeks go bright red as she looks down at the table.

The lunch bell rings, and as usual, Epsilon springs right up and is at the door before everyone else, Amber grabbing onto the back of his shirt just to try and keep up. Once out of the classroom Amber pulls tight on his shirt to try and stop him from going any further, and he stops and turns to face her. "Are you ok?" she asks him.

"I can't help but sleep in class, I don't get much sleep in the forest, you know."

"Then why wont you just sleep in my room?" she looks down at the floor.

"You already know why", he touches under her chin and lifts her face back up, then removes some of her long brown hair from her face and he smiles. "Why do you hide your face? You're so beautiful."

As her cheeks get hot she looks to her left at nothing in particular, unable to bring herself to look him in the eyes. "That's not fair…" She turns her head to the left but looks through the corner of her eye back up at him, "You don't show your face either." He looks a bit hurt.

"That's true, but I don't have the ability to show my true face here, you know I can't, if I could, for you I would. I can't but you can."

"But…I don't like my face, it's boring. I wish I could be like yo" He cuts her off mid-word by turning her to face him and pressing his lips to hers, and her eyes shoot open from surprise, but after a few seconds she accepts the situation and closes her eyes. Just in time for Epsilon to pull back and leave her flustered and confused. He covers his mouth up with his hand and seems very tense.

"Wha, what's wrong?" she asks shakily.

"Don't worry," he says slightly muffled by his hand. "I'll tell you later." He takes her hand and they go outside into the chilly January air, and the snow-covered ground, headed for the tree they sit under every lunch period.

"So, come on. What was that all about back there?" she asks, "You looked pretty hurt…did I do something wrong?" She looks down and touches her lips thinking she kissed him wrong.

"Don't worry, it's not your fault." He laughs a bit, "We Fey have something called Iron Sickness."

"What do you mean?"

"We are all, every race, allergic to iron, any refined metal. It's sort of like you humans' motion sickness. We get nauseous and wherever we make physical contact stings. If you touch it directly for too long it will actually burn you like a brand."

"That's awful! But wait, why does it hurt to kiss me?"

"We are in Ironside right now, Human side, most everything in the general public these days contains some metal, so much of it around us, it all adds up and we get sick, since you've been living all around it your whole life it's only natural that I can feel it on you; I can even smell it on you."

She lifts her shirt to her nose and sniffs it trying to see what he means.

"Not your clothes." He laughs at her. "You."

She then holds her arm up to her nose and tries again and he laughs even harder. "Look, you're not going to be able to smell it, your' nose isn't sensitive enough for it." He takes her hand in his away from her face and down to her side and holds it there.

"So, are you going to come over tonight so you can actually sleep for once?"

"I'll come over, but I don't know if I'll be sleeping over. You know what happened last time you were left alone with a Faerie."

"Ya I do, but you're different then they are, you wouldn't feed me spiked food."

"I suppose that's true, but it wasn't just the food that got you like that, just the fact that they were there. The one thing that you humans are powerful enough to smell, is us, our scent messes with your chemical balance, that's why you always feel so light-headed when I don't have my glamour on."

"Glamour?" She says questioningly.

"When I don't look like a human, when I'm real, I only look like this now because we can use our magic to change our features to look like practically anything we want, that's called glamour."

"Oh, so basically what you're telling me is that you don't want to sleep in the same room as me because you think I wont be able to control myself?"

"Correct."

"Well, I still want you to try." He looks down at her reddening face with surprise. He then smiles softly after thinking about her decision.

"So you say Amber." She looks up at him surprised to hear those words again after so long, which brings to her attention a new question.

"Speaking of that, I don't really remember it very well, but, when you came to rescue me that day in the cemetery, you killed those trolls and another elf, I don't know if it was just me but I couldn't even see you, you were so fast."

"Nah that wasn't just you, before I met you, I was trying to join the royal guard, bringing you to the Tithe was my final test. Before the final test for an Honor Guard is administered, he is made to choose an elite specialty skill. Ya know how, in video games everyone has something they are better at then everyone else? That something that sets them apart? Well it's like that. For my choice, I chose to increase my speed dramatically, the higher ups create a passage for you to speak, a spell, to activate it so that you may use it. I don't expect anyone noticed, but when those trolls were holding me, I was muttering the words to myself, when I finished the passage, I attacked, that was when you fell to your knees beside me."

"Oh, I get it, that's really cool! None of them could even see you!"

"Thank you." He smiles at the sky leaning back against the tree.

The bell rings again signifying that they must return to class. Back in the classroom the two sit down and Epsilon's head immediately falls to the desk, preparing for another power nap. Amber slowly running her fingers through his long white hair. The teacher comes back into the room shortly afterward and begins his lesson, with a plan in his head.

Halfway through the block he casually takes a walk around the room, keeping an eye on Epsilon the entire time. Thinking to himself "He must have saw me coming last time, this time I'm gunna get that ungrateful kid." He continues his walk and gets up behind Epsilon, failing to see that Amber is still running her right hand through his hair trying to soothe him. Once directly behind him, he stops using his yard stick as a fake cane, and raises it quickly then snaps it back down toward Epsilon's back, Amber sees it coming but she reacts the wrong way.

"Wait, N..Oww!" as the stick comes down on her wrist whacking it loudly. She had tried to pull it away, but instead it moved to shield Epsilon from the hit, and she pulls her arm back quickly and holds her wrist in pain.

Ahh..Amber I'm..sorr" begins Mr. Johnson quietly, But Epsilon, not missing a beat, Shoots up out of his chair, turns to his teacher and grabs the smaller man by his shirt, lifting him off the ground and cocking back his fist while holding him in place. It all happens so fast that at first the rest of the class doesn't react, but all at once they gasp, Pete and Rowyn start hooting and cheering Epsilon on, but everyone soon goes silent after a closer look at him.

One girl in the class is able to manage a few words in her shock. "His eyes are…turning black..!

All around Epsilon's eyes is fading to black, his hair is very slowly, barely noticeably growing longer and becoming more stringy, and his ears are starting to grow and the points stick out from under his hair. After hearing the girl's words, Amber looks back up at him and immediately jumps up and holds his arm back trying to prevent him from swinging.

"Epsilon please stop!" She yells. "I'm ok, I promise, please just don't do this!"

"No way Amber, not this time, this time I can't just let it go!"

"You have too! Epsilon they can see you!

He finally realizes what he's done, letting himself get so angry that he forgot to keep up his glamour, he tosses his teacher to the ground and runs out of the classroom leaving Amber, and everyone else behind.

That afternoon Amber gets off the bus and runs into her house and up the stairs into her room. She immediately whips out her cell phone and calls Epsilon to check on him, but she hears a phone ring in her closet behind her, she turns around and the door slides open, and out steps Epsilon, fully un-glamoured. She walks quickly to him and puts her arms around him and he takes her in close and holds her tight.

"Are you ok?" she asks urgently. "I really thought you were going to kill him."

"I'm fine, more importantly are you ok?" he looks at her wrist.

"Ya…I'm..no, it really hurts." His lips purse and his eyes tense but he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a wrap bandage.

"Here hold out your arm." He instructs of her and she does as she is told. He wraps it tightly around her wrist and ties the two ends in a knot once he is done.

"Thank you," she blushes and smiles timidly. "What happened to you?"

"I got too angry from seeing you get hurt, I became to distracted and forgot about my glamour, so it began to fade."

"Oh, ok, well I'm glad that you stopped."

"I wouldn't have if you weren't begging me to. But..i guess it's fine." He walks and sits on the edge of her bed with his hands together on his lap. She slowly comes to rest beside him trying not to agitate him.

"Look it's ok…no matter what you do I will not hurt you." He holds out his hand to her, she pauses for a moment, but she then accepts it and takes his hand. "So how are we lying our way out of this one? The whole school probably thinks I'm an alien or something."

"Lets worry about that on Monday, for now I just want to relax." They hear a car pull up the driveway.

"Your sister is home, I've gotta go." He stands and she grabs his hand.

"Wait!"

"It's ok, I'll be back, I promise, tonight I'll come back and I'll stay." He smiles and pulls on her arm and she stands up, he leans down and kisses her softly, his smell filling her senses and sending her head spinning.

As he pulls back "Ok." She says slightly slurred. She lets go of him and he opens the window to let himself out. "Will you be here when I wake up?" she asks at the last second. He turns his head to look her in the eyes.

"So you say Amber." He smiles at her once more before dropping onto the roof of the garage, then jumping off and onto the ground ad running to the tree line. Amber stands by the window watching him the whole way.

"See you tonight," she says softly, as she closes the window and walks away.

The End