Full Summary: Chite lived in a fantasy world within his soap operas, but that all changed when he met Falcon, a mysterious man with beauty unmatched…and an ancient enemy hell-bent on revenge. Herein, Chite finds that life can be just as interesting as his shows--and much more dangerous.

Reuploaded: 9-16-05

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For Love of Evil

By Xandra

Chapter One: Bird of Prey

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"Chite? Boy, are you still here?"

Vivid green eyes shone with tears as they remained locked on the television screen, analyzing the situation being depicted. The mind he possessed could have easily deciphered the very coding with which this machine worked, but he was too busy watching what was going on to care about the science and hard work that went into both the television and the show. He sniffled and blew his nose again, then discarded the used tissue in the bin nearby with the others, popping a Gummy Bear into his mouth with frown. "You BITCH!" he shouted at the screen. "Roberto is NOT your boyfriend! Get off'a him or Brit's gonna pound you!"

A sweeping curtain of black hair suddenly blocked his view and he looked up at the white-clad woman standing there. "Malachite Sable, what do you think you're doing?"

"I THINK I'm watching Sunset Boulevard, and I think YOU are making me miss the best part!" He tried to look past her at the screen, but she blocked his view again. "Aww, come ON, Crystal! Jennifer is trying to steal her sister Brittany's boyfriend Roberto again and I wanna see if Brit's gonna sock her or not when she comes in with the groceries! Just five more minutes!"

His older sister huffed. "You and your Soap Operas…honestly, a teenage boy should NOT be eating candy and watching daytime television! You were SUPPOSED to be gone ten minutes ago! You've already missed your bus!"

"My school isn't going anywhere," Chite argued, stubbornly, forcing her away from the screen with a quick foot to her hip. "But they won't repeat this one until next season!"

His sister growled, then snatched the remote from him and turned it off, receiving a fierce glare from her little brother. "Fine, you wanna know what happens? Brittany gets caught up because a cat runs past her and makes her drop the groceries. She falls in a puddle and messes up her new dress, and the groceries spill everywhere."

"Damn! That was a nice dress too!"

"Roberto blows Jen off but she tries to hit on him more, Brittany finally comes in as Jen tackles Roberto onto the couch, they break up and Jen loses about a handful of hair in a cat-fight. End of episode, now get up, get your pants and some deodorant on and get the hell to school!"

Chite huffed, then snatched the remote and turned the TV back on. He folding folded his arms. "I'm not moving until I see the rest of it WITHOUT your butt in my way, Crystal."

"Oh YES you are! Push me and I will have Jasper walk you to school in one of my dresses!"

"Try it!"

"JASPEEEEEER!"

A loud thud followed by a grunt rung from upstairs, and in moments, their redheaded older brother came sliding down the banister with his shirt flung over his shoulder and his pants on backward with the fly open. "Wha'cha want, Crys?"

Chite laughed and went back to his show while Crystal quickly explained to Jasper about his clothing. He was a moron, Crystal was prissy and Chite, well, he was somewhat effeminate and rarely social. They were an odd family.

"Jasper, make him go to school!"

"YOU never went to classes, either," the redhead retorted as he readjusted his pants. She punched him in his arm and he grunted, then cleared his throat. "Er, I mean, c'mon, Chite, you have to get an education. It's only right. Besides, Child Protective Services will be at our door again if you don't show up at school. You know the rules: minors in the care of legal guardians gotta go to school."

"I'm sixteen, I can take care of myself. I'm man enough." He paused as he watched Jen jump on Roberto. "BITCH! Get your LUMPY ASS off'a him!"

Crystal sighed, putting a hand to her forehead. "Yeah, man enough. Jasper, talk to him!"

"Wasn't it YOU that had him watchin' Soaps with you when he was a toddler because you didn't want to miss the Young and the Restless?"

"Oh, shut up and get him to school, Jasper!"

The elder sibling sighed and nodded, then strode to the couch, reached over the back and snatched the remote. He shut off the TV. "Chite, you gotta go to school, man, or they're gonna take you away, and we don't want that. Besides, at a foster home, you wouldn't get away with HALF the shit you get away with here."

That was true. Sighing, he stood up and accepted the jeans he was handed, then jumped into them and tucked in his shirt, scowling as his sister began brushing his ebony hair for him. It didn't take much effort, his hair was really short (not counting his bangs, but he was NOT cutting them until they reached his chest), but it was annoying to have your eighteen-year-old sister brushing your hair at sixteen. "I can brush my own hair."

"Then you should prove it and do it more often," she retorted. Taking a handful of hair from the side of his face, she gave it a cruel yank. "This needs to be cut, it's all split ends!"

Chite took his strip of bangs back, running his fingers through the chin-length black strands. "Leave my hair alone. Yours is down to your ass."

"I'm FEMALE, it's allowed, and don't swear." Crystal looked at her watch, then shoved him to Jasper, who handed him his book-bag and caught his arm, dragging him out the door. "Do your work today or I'll unplug the television AND your radio and pawn them BOTH to buy myself a new DRESS!"

"Don't you dare!" Chite cried over his shoulder.

Jasper laughed and shoved him the rest of the way out the door, then closed it behind him and gestured to the blood-red metallic convertible with gold detailing. "School time, kid. Get in."

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"I can't believe you people are making me do this. Why can't I just take the senior test and get out of here?"

"Because you would turn into a Soap-watching maniac, get fat and die on the couch."

"Oh, bite me."

"Don't tempt me. Out of the car, bug-eyes."

Chite scowled at his brother and got out, adjusting his large, gold-wire-framed glasses, then grabbed his backpack and glared at him. "I'm missing Sunset Boulevard because you're trying to be the good parent."

"Next time, ask me and I'll tape it so you can watch it after school without Crystal in your face."

"AWW! I hate you."

"I'm your brother, it's my job to make you miserable."

He scowled. "It isn't like ONE DAY would make a difference," he muttered.

Jasper smirked. "You never know. It only takes thirty seconds to change your life forever."

"So if I stand here for thirty seconds and nothing life-changing happens, can I go home and catch the end of SB?"

Jasper paused, then smiled. "Yeah."

Chite sighed and checked his watch, then began timing, but before the tenth second struck, something happened. He was hit by a soda can. He jumped, then looked at his brother, who burst out laughing. "What the hell--?!"

"I'm sure you've never been hit by a can in your life, especially not one thrown by me. I win, go to school."

Chite growled and stamped his foot. "Ah, damn you!" he cried. Jasper laughed and he scowled at him again. "You know, tomorrow that won't work."

"I'll throw a bottle at you, then. That should do it."

"And after that?"

"I have a spare tire, how about that?"

"And after that?"

"I dunno, I'll stock up, but I will pummel you with every object in the house until you start going to school without argument." Chite went to open his mouth, but Jasper cut him off, "And as soon as I run out, I will just start running you over randomly. If that doesn't do it, you're too nuts to go to public school. Get in there before you get marked absent or tardy."

Chite scoffed and moved to head for the school, then froze as the late bell rang. He growled. "AWW!"

"That's what you get, bug-eyes! BYYYYYEEEE!" With a rev, the scarlet drop-top disappeared into the distance.

He huffed, then stormed into the building. Taking the quickest route to the top floor and dropping his coat in his locker, Chite hurried to class and grudgingly opened the door. Everyone there turned and stared at him.

"Well, well."

He slipped silently into his seat as the rest of the class stared at him, whispering, pointing, snickering as if he were somehow amusing.

The professor narrowed his dark eyes on him. "If it isn't Mr. Sable."

"Good morning, Professor Velen," he sighed.

"Ah, YES it is, Malachite. Pray tell, why are you so late? Did your brother eat your homework again?"

The class laughed and Chite frowned.

"I missed my bus, sir."

"No excuse. It says right in the code of conduct--you know, the rules in your student handbook, if you know what that is--that missing the bus, sleeping in or skipping school for no reason counts as an unexcused absence and/or tardy. You're getting marked for it."

"I'm sorry, sir," he sighed. Honestly, Chite was a good boy, a lot nicer than he seemed at times, but since puberty and the reacquaintance with the fact of his parents' death, he had been sort of defensive, afraid to let people near him. That was why he gave his brother and sister a hard time. That was why he gave EVERYONE a hard time. His Soaps were all that he had. They were the lives he wanted, and the place he wanted to be…which was anywhere but where he was. That was why he had no life, no friends, and no interest in being in public where people could tease and hurt him.

Velen nodded, smirking in his direction. Lucky for him, on top of having Biology for first-period, he had the meanest, youngest teacher teaching it. Why was he mean? Because the year before, his first year as a teacher, being scarcely older than Crystal was now, he had been given the rudest, loudest, dumbest, most disrespectful room of students, and they'd not only pissed off, hurt and embarrassed the kind, shy teacher, but turned him into their worst nightmare. One day, he'd just snapped and had them all doing push-ups and scrubbing desks and chalkboards with their toothbrushes from home, standing on their heads, washing windows and doing triple homework. Last year, he'd heard all the stories of the rookie teacher, stories that had started out as joke-rants and turned into horror stories. He failed kids left and right, took their stuff, embarrassed them and got them in trouble for no reason, and he still held these practices up currently. When he'd seen the name 'PROFESSOR L. JERARD VELEN' on his transcript his first day, he'd been ready to hang himself from the flagpole.

Chite had learned the hard way how evil the teacher really was, bringing his portable Walkman into class with him wearing an ear-piece beneath his bangs the first day to listen to audio tapes of City Life, another Soap. Velen had nailed him almost instantly, practically reached into his pocket and ripped out the tape deck (which he would never see again) and the piece from his ear, with a barked, "There will be NO insolence in my class, SABLE! Push me and I will make your life in here MISERABLE, BOY! DO YOU COMPREHEND?!" That had been the number-two most frightening moment of his young life. Velen had a very soft, smooth speaking voice, and he was good at being scary at just above a whisper. When he raised his voice, he was utterly terrifying. Chite tried to stay on his good side (that was, assuming he still had one).

"Homework. Pass it up, names properly in the upper right-hand corner. I should not have to say this, children, you are old enough to know this."

Chite checked his bag as the girl in front of him reached back over her shoulder with an open hand to accept his paper. He wracked his brain to remember the assignment--and realized he'd done it, but left it at home, on the couch. /Oh DAMN!/

The girl finally took her hand back and looked at him. "Well?"

"Don't have it," he murmured, softly.

She raised an eyebrow. "What? I didn't hear you."

/Uh-oh,/ he thought. He knew if his voice got up any higher, Velen would bust his chops for not doing his work. He didn't accept late work, not even if it was a second late. It didn't matter to him. He used to have a policy that he accepted NO late work, not even that of students who missed school for medical reasons or emergencies, but the school board had slammed him for it and he'd taken it back. Now it went that you had one day after you came back for every day you were gone, and no matter how long you were gone, if you were half-dead and bleeding on the floor, if there was class-work and you weren't done by the deadline, you got an instant zero on it. Even if you got every answer right, phrased perfectly. Hell, it didn't matter if you won a Nobel Prize for it, he still wouldn't take it. Velen was insane.

"What did you say?" she repeated.

Chite sensed Velen's head snap up and the man's dark eyes burned his very skin. "I don't have it."

"OH?" the man asked, slowly. He swept around from the row of desks he had been in and was instantly at Chite's side. "You didn't do my work, hmm? Too busy with your childish fancies to finish homework."

"I did it," he said, carefully, though he knew it made no difference, "But I forgot it."

"Excuses. Endless excuses. Another zero for you, Mr. Sable. I would have flunked you by now, boy, had I not possessed the desire to get you out of here. I would rather be torn limb from limb than see a slacker like you in here again next year."

See? He was a nutcase. Chite sighed and nodded, then mentally frowned as he watched the sick grin cross Velen's narrow face. He wanted to bridge the small space between them and bite his pointed nose right off, to tell him that he was a maniac and that he had no right to take his anger out on them just because he had no social or romantic life to speak of. However, he didn't dare so much as move. So much as a flinch and Velen would claim that he'd argued with him. That was grounds for a detention, and of course, the meanest teacher did detentions. An extra hour with this guy? Never!

Slowly, the older man's musky breath was off his face. Throwing his long, golden ponytail back over his shoulder, Velen strode to the front of the room. Like an undertaker, the man only wore black, and he was tall, thin and strode with his hands clasped behind his back. Like he was waiting for someone to die so he could box them up.

He was nuts.

Snatching the remaining papers from the desktops, Velen threw the neat pile of papers down onto his desk and turned to the class, leaning against it at the front as if to sit, but not exactly. He did this when he was lecturing too. It was somehow very annoying. "Now, if all permission slips have been turned in, I will excuse you to go to the lockers and gather your things. Those who failed to turn them in will be staying in the library with three book assignments, due tomorrow morning the moment they hit the door. For those of you attending, be certain to bring at least one notebook and several sharp pencils. A package of fifty UNsharpened pencils does you no good."

Chite blinked. /What is he--?/ but it came to him before the thought finished. /The fieldtrip! I didn't get him my permission slip!/

Before he could so much as request calling his sister, however, Velen looked directly at him. "Mr. Sable, your…" his expression softened momentarily, "…sister…" he shook it off, "…ahem, called to make up for your lack of permission slip, so you may attend as well."

Chite beamed privately. That was the ONE thing he had going for him. Somehow, during an open-house at the beginning of the year, Crystal had gotten a hold of the good professor and dragged him away somewhere for most of it. Ever since, even a mention of her dropped him from terrifying to awkward. He just prayed she didn't marry him. Crystal Sable-Velen? Ugh! The horror of having him as a brother-in-law!

"Move, ladies and gentlemen. Get your things, I haven't all day."

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The fieldtrip, which got them out of school for the entire day, was to the city zoo. Of course, it came with an assignment. (Velen never let up; it didn't matter if you were dying of the plague--he'd make you write a report on the symptoms, how it felt and what caused it, not to mention the figures of how many died from the original outbreak. He was really crazy, no joke!)

/'Five animals. Walk around, look at the exhibits, and pick five animals. Talk to the zookeepers, reads the pamphlets, do what you must. I want a seventy-five-word paragraph about each one separately; markings, eating habits, etc., will be expected of you. Full sentences, best handwriting, written in pen. If I see so much as a blotch of ink on the paper, you lose ten marks. Go now, and be back at the bus by one o'clock.'/

That was easy enough…so, of course, he made it worse.

/'Oh, and Mr. Sable…I want ten from you, to make up for mistake this morning.'/

/'Because I forgot my work?'/

/'No, because you were ten minutes late. Seventy-five words or more, and if you so much as misspell a name, scribble on the paper, or forget your punctuation, I will flunk you for this semester, despite my distaste about seeing you again.'/

See? See? He wasn't just nuts, he was a maniac.

Chite checked his notes. Nine animals. He'd picked a bottlenose dolphin, a hammerhead shark, an African elephant, a Burmese python, a naked mole rat, a Syberian tiger, a polar bear, a howler monkey, and a macaroni penguin. He'd even written about all of them already, being sure to write slow and neat to avoid getting flunked. He just needed ONE MORE ANIMAL…

He strolled casually around, looking here and there for something interesting.

And he found it.

He stopped as his eyes fell upon a wild looking youth leaning against the railing of the bear caves exhibit. His hair was shoulder-length and voluminous, deep chocolate brown up at the scalp and faded to gold at the tips, speckled with golden specs that glittered in the sunlight, and his eyes were honey-brown, narrow and lined with thick, dark lashes. He was tall and wiry, and wore a buckskin vest that reached well down to his thighs, decorated and lined with soft brown and gold feathers. He even had a pair of long wing-tip feathers to match threaded through a circular, metal hair-clip that held a hank of fudge-colored hair back out of his face on either side, just above his ears. He had sun-kissed skin and wore lace-up knee-boots, close-fitting raw hide pants and a belt decked with assorted animal fangs driven through the leather. Staring at him was dizzying. He was devilishly handsome--a handsome young wild-man, like Tarzan in clothes, only hotter! He looked like a Soap star, one of the heartthrobs that everybody wanted! /Oh God…he's beautiful…/

As if hearing his thoughts, the youth looked at him, his piercing eyes narrowed sensually, and his full lips turned down in a soft scowl. He raised an eyebrow. "What are you staring at," he spat. His voice, unlike his outlook, was soft despite the harsh words. He reminded him of Velen in that sense, except for the depth of his voice. Velen was a high tenor, a very high voice for a full-grown man, but this man had a deep tenor, almost baritone voice.

He blinked, absently. "You…" Then, he paused. "Er, nothing! Oops, I mean, you're not nothing, but I'm--!"

Suddenly, his eyes softened and the corner of his lip twitched up in a momentary smile. Small and short-lived as it was, it was a beautiful smile. "What is it you want?"

/For you to hold me in those arms of yours,/ he thought, quivering in the gaze of the other's golden eyes. Then, he realized that this was a guy. He shook off the foreign feeling of alienation at his own actions and quickly held up his notebook in front of his face, as if to block the spell the man's eyes cast upon him. "I-I'm doing a project for class!" he said, louder than he meant to. "I have to write about animals! I need one more or I flunk!"

A long moment of silence passed, and Chite slowly peeked over the top of the notebook to make sure he was still there. He was, but he was closer now and reading his list of animals. Soon, the stranger took the book from him and inspected it.

/Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow,/ he thought, peering up at him, weakly. He WAS gorgeous! It was impossible to ignore!

Finally, he answered, gruffly. "No birds."

"What?" Chite asked, blinking. "A penguin's a bird!"

"A bird is classified as an animal with feathers that can fly. A penguin is not a proper bird." And then, he smiled, slightly. "A bird of prey, perhaps."

Chite blinked again, and moved to ask a question, but the one forming in the back of his mind came out wrong. "What's your name?"

The man raised an eyebrow and the dark-haired boy scowled, mentally. He'd meant to say 'what's your suggestion?' not 'what's your name?' Oops.

"Uh, sorry, I just--"

"Falcon."

Chite blinked yet again and looked up at him. "Falcon? Your name is Falcon? Like the bird?"

"Do you have a PROBLEM with my name?" he asked, suddenly very visibly tense.

"Oh no! I like it!" Chite exclaimed. "I was just making sure I heard right!" Then, he paused and smiled, shyly. "I'm Chite."

"Kite? Your name is Kite? Like the thing you fly on a string?" Falcon asked, cruelly.

He huffed. "No, Chite as in short for Malachite."

Falcon's strong features relaxed again and he smiled ever so slightly. "How very clever."

"Clever? How?"

"You're named for a type of green jewel-stone, akin to jade but not as precious, and your eyes are a very bright green to match it."

He blushed. "I think that was the point…my Dad liked jewels. M-my sister's Crystal and my brother's Jasper." Why he was telling him this was beyond him.

"Blue and red. Very clever indeed." Falcon smiled fully this time, and it was utterly beautiful. It was so warm. He handed him his notebook again. "Perhaps a bird of prey, being that you have everything else."

Chite scribbled number ten down without thinking about it: FALCON. "Do you know anything about falcons, Falcon?" he asked dumbly.

The man nodded. "Very much, in fact. I know one."

"You mean you own one?"

"No, I KNOW one."

Chite blinked. "How can you know a falcon?"

The man frowned. "There are intelligent creatures, far more advanced than human beings at times." Chite blushed, bashfully, and Falcon eased off. "Ahem. In any case, yes, I know a great deal about birds of all types."

"You said you knew a falcon. Is it in one of the cages?"

"Currently, yes."

"What's that mean?"

"He is visiting a friend.

"HE?"

"Yes, of course. I would not keep the company of a female falcon, they're much too dangerous."

Chite smirked. Somehow, that figured. "He have a name?"

"Aureáte."

"Aureáte? How do you spell that?"

"I have no idea. It's a hybrid of the adjective 'aureate' with an accented 'a'."

"Okay, I'll freehand it, then." Chite attempted at a spelling that came out something like Ahreeahtay, then sighed. "All right then. What's he eat?"

"Anything but lettuce, cabbage or tomatoes."

He laughed, though it was apparently not a joke. "What kind?"

"He's level-headed. He hates all kinds."

"Heh, heh. No, I mean what kind of falcon is he?"

"Oh. He is a peregrine falcon."

Chite finished his notes, then nodded to himself. "Thank you," he said. Then, as he stared up at the tall, handsome man, something else occurred to him. "Uh…if you don't mind me asking, where'd you get a unique name like Falcon?"

"My parents, I would assume."

He blinked. "You…assume?"

"I never knew my parents."

His mouth fell open. God, this was too good to be true! "M-me neither…"

Falcon's golden eyes dropped from gazing at the skies and he stared at him. He blinked, confusion written on his face. "Excuse me?"

Chite lowered his head a bit. "They died a bit after I was born…" he admitted, "Car crash…I wasn't even one yet."

"I apologize. It seems we have more in common than unique names."

"Yeah…"

Suddenly, there was a loud screech and Chite looked up just in time to see a pair of talons and a flash of golden feathers before he hit the deck at Falcon's feet. The wild-looking man--whom he realized was younger than he had first thought--didn't even flinch.

He moved to get up again, then gasped as he heard that awful scream again and saw that it was a large bird coming straight for him. "Uh-oh!"

But before it could hit him, Falcon stopped it--verbally? "Stop that!" he shouted. The bird stopped in mid-attack and beat its wings a few times to stop itself from falling out of the air, then looked at him questioningly. It squawked, but the chocolate-haired man shook his head, shaking a finger at the thing. "No. He's not a threat. Behave, or you'll stay here." It squawked again. "Yes you will. Behave."

Obediently, the bird landed on his shoulder.

Chite stared, wide-eyed and shaking. "W-w-wha?"

"Aureáte. He saw you close to me and thought you a threat to me. Forgive him, his manners are a bit off."

/A BIT?/ Chite blinked a few times at the nearly one and a half foot animal balancing on his shoulder. It was all brown with a black helmet-like area around his head, and his eyes were gold. His plumage was dark brown speckled with golden and copper spots, and his wingtips were almost silver. He was really a beautiful animal, but BOY he was scary! "Eh heh, wow…"

"How old are you?" Falcon asked, suddenly. "Twelve? Thirteen?"

Chite stared, then growled. "I'm SIXTEEN you twit!" he exclaimed. "How could you think that?!"

Falcon blinked, as did Aureáte, then blushed slightly. "Oops! Sorry, I didn't realize! I mean, you're so much smaller than I am, and your glasses--" he stopped. Chite felt himself turning red, partially from embarrassment, partially from anger. Before he could explode, however, the young man bowed to him, bending at the waist with his hands at his sides. "I apologize, I didn't mean for it to sound that way. It's been a long time since I've seen someone my own age."

The black-haired teen jumped, his anger evaporating completely. "YOU'RE sixteen?!"

"Yes."

"You look so much older!"

"And you look so much younger," he shot back. "We're even, then."

Chite moved to frown at him, but that handsome, amused smile crossed Falcon's face and he stopped. Slowly, a smile crossed his own face and he sighed. "All right…hey…what school do you go to?"

Falcon's smile disappeared that fast. "I don't."

"You DON'T? At all?" He shook his head and Chite stared at him. "Why not?"

"I was never enrolled."

"Never?"

"Never."

A paused, and then, carefully, "Would you like to be?"

Falcon raised an eyebrow. "Why?"

"I dunno, just to see what it's like."

The youth ran a hand back through his sun-kissed chocolate hair, thoughtfully. "Huh…what is it like? Is it interesting?"

"Yeah, sometimes, and you learn things."

"Well, then it's better than standing here all day," he said, finally. Aureáte nodded in agreement.

Chite smiled to himself for no apparent reason. "Then come with me!" He grabbed Falcon's hand and pulled him away from the bear exhibit, then through the zoo and to the bus, where Velen was waiting, reading a thick book and leaning against the doors. "Professor, can I talk to you?"

Velen looked up at him and instantly spotted Falcon. He raised an eyebrow. "A zookeeper, I assume? What did you do now?"

Falcon scoffed and Aureáte squawked in his defense, but Chite just rolled his eyes. "He isn't a zookeeper, he's a teenager and he's never been to school. Is there any way we could take him back to school with us and get him enrolled?"

"Dressed like THAT? Not very likely, no."

Chite frowned. "Isn't it your job as a teacher to make sure students get an education?"

"No, my job as a teacher is to educate students. Not to take in homeless boys."

"I am NOT homeless," Falcon objected, suddenly. "Quite frankly, sir, I don't CARE what you think of me or my clothing, because that has nothing to do with it. I was simply requesting that you help me enroll, but if you won't then I won't bother trying. No point, after all. Besides, I'm probably FAR too intelligent to attend a normal school anyway."

Chite blinked as the blonde teacher's eyebrows lifted, curiously. /Is he baiting him?/ he thought. /No, he couldn't be. He doesn't KNOW that about Velen!/

Velen hated kids, but what he hated more than anything was a kid that thought they knew everything. His favorite hobby was quizzing them in Biology until they either gave up and apologized or got so embarrassed that they ran from the room.

Falcon smirked, then looked at Chite. The smirk melted into a heart-stoppingly brilliant smile. "Thank you for trying to help me, but I'll be going now."

"Wait one moment, if you will," Velen spat. The request sounded more like an order.

Falcon turned and looked at him. "Can I help you, Professor?" he asked, giving him a roguish smile that made Velen flinch. Chite flinched too as he looked at his teeth. All perfectly straight and white, of normal size…except for his canines. They were sharp-looking, like they'd been filed down, and they were a bit bigger and longer than those of any other person. It was hard to notice unless you were really close, but he was really close.

Velen shook off the daze, then cleared his throat. "Do you know anything about tenth-grade biology or first-level algebra and metrics?"

"Very much about all three."

"Then tell me this. What are the four stages of cellular division?"

"Prophase, metaphase, anaphase and telophase."

Chite blinked. He'd missed that question on the last test…/Wow, that was good./

"What are two differences between plant and animal cells?"

"Animal cells lack a cell wall and tend to be round or oblong in shape," Falcon said, simply. "Plant cells tend to have angular forms, thanks to the walls."

"What organelle does a plant cell have that an animal cell does not?"

"Chloroplasts, the organelle that creates chlorophyll, a substance used in photosynthesis."

Velen blinked, then scowled at him. "Very well, what does the symbol Ne stand for on the Table of Elements?"

"Ne is neon, one of the noble gases."

"And H?"

"Hydrogen, the only element without a single a neutron."

"Au?"

"Gold, an unnatural element thought to have originated in space long before human life."

"U, then."

"Uranium, one of the man-made elements. It's radioactive."

Chite stared. Even HE didn't know this stuff and he was IN the class!

Velen didn't look pleased, but he looked interested nonetheless. "Tell me, how is it that you know so much without having ever been to school?"

"Library."

"Very well, then answer me this. How many feet in a mile?"

"Five thousand, two hundred and eighty."

"How much is three tons in pounds?"

"Six thousand."

"How much is fifty-five-hundred pounds in tons?"

"Two and three quarters."

"If X is three point four and X is squared, what is the answer?"

Falcon smirked. "Eleven point five…six."

Velen stared. He'd snapped out questions as fast as possible and this stranger--this uneducated kid--had answered just as quickly, without pause to think or stall. Falcon had survived the speed-quiz and come out on top! "Stunning," he said, almost approvingly, "You're the first to ever answer such questions so quickly and with such accuracy. What an interesting variation it would be to have an intelligent student in one of my classes…" He frowned a moment, then nodded his head. "Do you still desire to attend school?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very well, then. As long as you agree not to become a discipline problem, I will speak with the principal." Velen almost smiled at him, but refrained visibly and pulled a pen from his clipboard, turning to a sheet with notes on bad behavior scribbled all over it. "Your name and age, if you would be so kind."

"Falcon Faulkner, sixteen."

Chite looked at him as Velen scribbled that down. Faulkner? He'd heard that on television somewhere. Didn't that mean something like 'one with the birds of prey'? It either meant that, or 'master of the falcon'. It came from the word 'falconer'. Either way, it figured; his name pretty much said wild. It didn't matter though…it was a pretty name.

"Very well, Mr. Faulkner." Velen handed him a nicely-printed card with his name, room number, and the school address. Chite peeked at it, but Falcon pocketed it and he backed off. "That is the school address. Go there tomorrow and head for the front office. By then I'll have spoken to them. With any luck, they will give you the papers and you'll be enrolled within an hour. School starts at seven thirty."

Falcon nodded. "I'll be sure to do that, sir."

Chite blinked up at him, then looked at Velen, who smiled, briefly, before bringing a silver whistle from his pocket and blowing it, shrilly. The sound was earsplitting and he flinched, then covered his ears with his hands. Falcon barely reacted.

"Very good. As for you, Mr. Sable, I hope you did your work."

"I did," he said, flatly, handing his notebook over.

Velen raised a golden eyebrow, then sighed, almost regretfully, and stepped aside as students began piling into the bus. "This had better be good."

"I believe it is," he replied, curtly. Velen rolled his eyes and got into the bus, but before following, Chite turned and looked at Falcon and Aureáte, who were staring at him. "Thanks for helping me," he said, softly. "I probably would have failed for sure if you hadn't."

"Somehow, I think you would have survived without me," Falcon said, flashing him a slight but devilish grin.

Chite struggled to keep his knees from going out. /God, don't swoon, don't swoon!/ Too late, his knees went out.

Before he could hit the pavement, however, there was a streak of brown and gold, and a screech in the background. Strong arms caught him around the waist and he was in midair before he could so much as gasp.

The boy blinked, shaking his ebony bangs from his face, then looked up and gawked as Falcon stared at him. He was practically lying in his arms. "Wha?"

"Be more careful, you wouldn't want to fall out here," the wild-looking young man said, setting him on his feet.

/He…he caught me…?/ he thought. /But how did he move so quick?/

Aureáte screeched as he landed on the broad shoulder of Chite's savior, but Falcon just reached up and pinched his beak shut, silencing him. He fluffed up and struggled for a moment, but soon stopped as his master gave him a chastening look. That was the end of THAT fight.

The boy blushed slightly as Falcon gave him another slight grin, baring his beautiful teeth, and he once again noted his canines and their size. A senseless thought shot through his mind. /Is he a vampire?/

Falcon blinked. Apparently, he'd made a face at the thought. "Is something wrong?"

"Uh, no!" /Stupid! That was a dumb thought! Vampires aren't real!/ He blushed. "Nothing at all…"

"Sable!" Velen shouted from the front seat of the bus. "Enough chitchat, get in here or I'll rip up your paper!"

"Quite the gentleman," Falcon murmured.

Chite smiled, weakly, then turned for the bus--and paused again. "Maybe I'll catch you later," he murmured, "If you come to school…would that be cool with you?"

"Definitely," he said.

The dark-haired teen's smile widened and he sighed, touching his own chest gently. "Goodbye, Falcon…nice…meeting you."

"Not goodbye, Malachite," Falcon said, simply. He looked at him and the other once again bared his teeth in a beautiful smile. "We'll meet again, so it isn't goodbye, per se. It's just…until we meet again."

He smiled. "Then until we meet again." He boarded the bus, reluctantly, gripping the strap of his bag on his shoulder. He was displeased to find that every seat was packed except the front one, where Velen was sitting near the aisle. He sighed, then bowed his head, politely. "Professor, could I sit here, please?" he asked, miserably.

Surprisingly, Velen gave no speech, no words of annoying wisdom and no reprimand. He simply stood up and gestured him into the window seat, which he took quickly. The young teacher sat down next to him--grudgingly, of course--then handed him his notebook with a 100 at the top of his paper in red ink. He said nothing.

Chite blinked at his first hundred in this class, then smiled and put it in his bag as the old yellow bus started with a rumbling roar. He looked out the window at his newest acquaintances, Falcon and Aureáte, one of whom was waving calmly while the other seemed to be leering at him. He gave a weak wave, then sighed and watched as they moved away from the zoo and the wild-looking young man and his 'friend' disappeared from sight.

He leaned back in the seat as Velen started grading papers with a tight frown on his face. Somehow, he didn't hate him as much right then. He was almost sorry for him, having to be so mean because kids had pushed him too far. It really wasn't right, but he knew his opinion would change tomorrow when Velen started persecuting him again.

/A vampire,/ he thought, wryly, smirking to himself. /Come ON, Chite, you actually thought that about him? Just because he's gorgeous, charming and ingenious, because his teeth are a little pointed and he…/ He froze in mid-thought as the scene of his falling replayed before his eyes. /…Moves with ungodly speed…? No, I must have been seeing things./ Still, the insane suspicion remained, but the fluttering in his heart was just as persistent.

/'It only takes thirty seconds to change your life.'/

Chite smiled, weakly, despite his foolish suspicion. He'd just met the perfect man…

…Who just might be a vampire.

'-'-'

Falcon turned away as the bus disappeared, then frowned as a familiar tightening in his stomach brought a small twinge of pain to his attention. /Hungry again,/ he thought, sighing aloud. /Oh well, I'll have to get something to eat then./

/--"I don't like it."--/

"Are you jealous?" he asked, looking at Aureáte.

The hawk-like avian seemed to scoff. /--"That is highly unamusing."--/

"Oh, I find it funny," Falcon said, matter-of-factly. He buried his hands in his vest pockets and headed off toward his home, his friend perched on his shoulder tensely.

/--"I would have a word with you, boy."--/

"Have your word, then, but if it concerns Malachite, I'd rather not hear it."

/--"Don't trust him, he may be dangerous."--/

"If so, he hides it well."

/--"We are still in search of the Enemy, Falcon. We have no time to tarry with the folk of this place. He is near, and if you let anyone close, he might attack."--/

"I'm ready for him."

/--"Foolishness! You remember well what he did to you, nay?"--/

Falcon stopped and scowled darkly at his feet, then closed his eyes. Blood-curdling shrieks, fire, and red flashed before his eyes, and a familiar form lay lifeless before him. All of it shot back to him in a flash, and it only sobered him further. "I could never forget, but I still see no trouble in the boy Malachite. He seems like a good boy."

/--"Looks can be deceiving."--/

"You would be one to know."

/--"Peace, urchin. I am not in any mood."--/

Falcon smirked to himself, but it quickly faded to a frown as his stomach rumbled again. "I better eat soon. I'm foolish when I'm hungry." He pointed to the bird. "Don't say it."

/--"Very well."--/

"Thank you."

/--"I was just going to mention that you've proven foolishness before, even without hunger."--/

He scowled. "Aureáte."

/--"You said 'don't say it.' You did not specify how long before I could say it, Falcon. Learn these things, they will save your life."--/

"I think I'm enough of a smart-ass on my own, thank you."

The bird went silent and Falcon headed off into the dark woods, feeling more at home in the shadows than the daylight. The bird of prey sunk into the darkness and vanished from sight, unnoticed by pedestrians and zooworkers alike. This was natural; no one ever noticed him and remembered.

Now, to find something to eat.

----

To Be Continued