"Hi!" I yelled out the window. "What the hell are you doing?"

He was sneaking around the back of the complex, looking for all the world like some kid playing spies.

He held up a finger to his lips, and gestured for me to come down.

Once outside, I started to sweat. Figures. Hi had his back to the wall, and was crouching down, scanning the yard. I stifled a laugh as Cooper jumped him.

"Tory," Hi whined, wrestling Coop. "Call him off."

Chuckling, I whistled. After barking a couple times to show who was in charge, Coop ran to my side. I offered Hi a hand and helped him up.

"What are you doing?" Shelton joined the picture.

"Hiding from Ruth." Hi mumbled, eyes darting. "I'm still on lockdown. Let's get Ben and head to the bunker."

"Where is Ben?" Shelton asked.

Hi and I shrugged. Then I grinned. "Check this out."

I knelt down before Coop. He cocked his head, and licked my nose. I laughed. "Ben, Coop. Go get Ben!"

Cooper charged down towards the dock, barking at the top of his lungs.

"What's he going to do?" Shelton, wary.

"Is he going to hurt Ben?" Hi, hopeful.

"Just wait and see. Hi – um, no."


Two minutes later, we heard barking, and a string of curses. Hi and Shelton looked at me, not sure what to expect. I grinned as Coop charged back into site, the hem of Ben's black shirt in his jaws. With one final joyous bark, Coop let go and headbutted Ben into me.

"Oof!" I huffed as we hit the ground, noses skimming. I met his dark eyes, and blushed furiously. "Uh, you can get up now."

"I would, if your dog wasn't sitting on my back. And he's not exactly a puppy anymore. " Coop leaned over Ben's shoulder, and licked my cheek.

"Yeah, yeah, love you too boy. You mind getting off?"

He yipped, but stayed put. Hi and Shelton burst into hysterics.

I sighed, and thought of the cotillion event I had tonight. Me and the Tripod, stuck hosting the evening. Madison with her snide remarks about my borrowed dress...


I opened golden eyes, and saw Ben raise his eyebrows. This close, with the flare, I could see every minute detail of his face.

And it didn't look bad.

I shook that off, and pictured the flaming ropes connecting our pack. Finding the one attached to Cooper, I mentally shook it.

Get off!

He yelped and jumped off, tackling Shelton. I laughed as Ben pulled me up.


"Can we please get down to the bunker before my mother misses me?" Hi whined.

I grinned. "Fine. On one condition."


"Lose the diamond earring."

He pouted. "Tory!"

I crossed my arms. "Whatever. You know, I haven't talked to Ruth in a while –"

Ben chuckled.

"Fine!" Hi pulled out the diamond and slipped it in his pocket, muttering about black mail the whole way down to the bunker.

The place had been completely redone. Pieces of dark wood covered the dirt floor, comfortable chairs and couches replaced the rickety chairs and benches, and a glass deck table replaced the spindly old kitchen one.

I flopped down on the couch, and huffed as Coop jumped up on my stomach. I nodded at Hi. "Spill."

He nervously rubbed his toe on the ground. "Okay, but don't freak."

Oh, damn, that didn't sound good.

"My mom was doing the whole 'community watch' thing, and she saw you a couple times the past few days. Running, going down to the dock, walking Coop, fooling around with us." He paused, toe moving faster. "She said there had been a guy following you all of those times."

Dead beat of silence. Then Ben and Shelton started chattering.

"What do you mean, follow –"

"What did he look –"

"What do you think he wants –"

"Hold up!" I yelled. "One at a time."

"Why would he be stalking Tory?"

I rolled my eyes. "Gee, thanks Shelton."

He spluttered. "That's not what I meant."

"I think it's obvious." Ben muttered.

"Spill it, Blue."

"The Flares."

Goddamn it.

Chaos erupted. General shouts of "how could they know?" and "what are we going to do?" and just plain curses.

I tossed a cushion at Hi in the middle of a rant containing some very unpleasant four-letter words.

"Shut up, let's think this through before we go all apeshit."

Ben smiled at me, before realizing what he was doing and his stare went blank again.

Ah, hell.

I was a Viral with seriously messed up DNA, and a stalker. The last thing I needed right now was boy-drama. I already had to deal with Jason tonight.

"Oh shit!" I yelled, checking my watch.

"What?" The boys demanded.

"Cotillion thing in half an hour. Whitney's gonna kill me."

They smirked.

"Screw you guys. I have to spend the night with the Tripod and Jason."

"Need a ride?" Ben asked.

I shook my head sourly. "Apparently, I'm required to bring a date. So unless you're volunteering, Whitney already set me and Jason up."

I groaned and kicked the wall.

I left the guys laughing behind me.