Davi flipped the page of her fashion magazine disinterestedly, eyes narrowed in annoyance. It had been nearly half an hour since she'd awoken in the infirmary, after which she had changed into a pair of oversized, striped pajamas with pants that were too long and only allowed her toes to peek out, and a short-sleeved, button up shirt. Her old clothes were destroyed, blood-soaked. A nurse, insisting her temperature needed to be taken, had shoved a thermometer down her throat, only adding to her aggravation.

The door to the wide, open room swung out, revealing a tall, slim, blond boy and a slightly shorter redhead, who nearly trotted in as if he was on his way to something much more pleasant.

A doctor that Thomas seemed to be well acquainted with met them at the door and uneasily admitted them, unnerved by the dreamy, vacant expression Red had once more taken on. Even when spoken to it did not falter, his voice almost sing-song.

Davi had been waiting for them. Seated on the edge of the cot, thermometer tucked under her tongue, she looked up from her magazine at their appearance, grimaced, shut the booklet, and grumbled incomprehensibly while trying not to let her lips part.

Red glided over to the cot across from her and sat down, slumping over and treating her with that same blank, almost doll-like smile he had given her when she'd come to his dorm.

Thomas and the doctor came over together, both looking rather stern and professional, as though Thomas had some sort of control of the situation and the doctor had a cure. While the pale student began to voice Red's apologies to Davi, the doctor took the thermometer from her mouth and observed the temperature it presented.

Thus free to speak, Davi interrupted Thomas' elaborate speech and snapped, "If he's so sorry, why doesn't he tell me himself?!" Her voice was hoarse, throat still raw from coughing up a little blood. She'd never forget the sickening taste of the coppery fluid.

"Sorry," murmured Red in a whimsical voice, head tilting to the side as his eyes remained unfocused, smile eerily unchanging.

"He gets like this," Thomas explained matter-of-factly, "after he has such an experience. Whenever he gets really sick, like he did today, or even last night, he sort of...retreats off into his mind. It's his way of retaining his sanity."

Davi's eyes narrowed. Her long, black hair tumbled over her shoulders in messy waves, curling at the ends and over her gray eyes, and one fist tightened in the sheets of the cot. "He's NOT sane. I thought he was ok - I thought we could be friends. But then he ATTACKED me!"

At the sudden outburst, Red's eyes widened and his facial cast altered and slipped into something totally different, something almost terrified. "I didn't attack you though," he insisted in such a childish, awe-filled voice that all present were taken back. "I was trying to protect you! If you'd come any closer you would've been hurt and touching me when that happens is only harmful for the both of us! Tell her, Thomas, tell her it's not good to touch me."

"No," agreed Thomas. "He is not to be touched when he's out of control. It's best to let him wear himself out."

"And I wouldn't want to attack you, Davi," the teen with auburn hair continued, his green eyes widening. "You brought me my homework and you're my friend. You're the only person I trust besides Thomas. Did you see how she made it stop, Thomas?"

Davi was, if anything, frightened by Red's comments. His friend? They'd only met two days before, and all meetings had been brief and not too friendly. "What's he talking about, Thomas?" she demanded.

"Well, a fit like that usually lasts for hours with him," he said in a voice that hinted he was catching on to something, coming to a realization. "As soon as you ran out there, the rain began to purify. There must be something about you that makes him calm down quicker than I've ever gotten him to."

The doctor seemed interested in this as well. "Are you insinuating she has some sort of affect on his talent? That she can help to harness it?"

"Perhaps in a different environment, she could even tame it."

"Are you sure about this, Thomas?"

"Does anyone know Red better than me?"

The doctor was silent a moment. "Perhaps a transfer to Eden's household?"

"Yes, I think he would flourish there. But I suggest the move is made immediately - you've seen the damage he can inflict. If he is made to stay here, other students may be put in danger. Do you think you can pull some strings?"

"For my favorite nephew? Of course."

~~~~~

Davi didn't question the new and sudden transfer - these sort of things happened all the time at Dancing Swords Academy. However, two things had sparked her interest. One - Thomas was the nephew of the top doctor hired to care for the students? Two - She was going to Eden's household. At the Academy, this told her one thing only. Eden was a person who lived somewhere on the edge of campus, and she also owned a house. Now, if she owned a house, this meant she also had roommates, for no one was privileged enough to have a whole house to themselves, and these roommates were her teammates.

But what was the team about? What did they do to earn their keep? And how old were they, exactly?

Davi finished folding the dress shirt of her last uniform and laid it in her suitcase, next turning to her casual clothes that she wore on the weekends. Those were easily dealt with, packed away quickly and carelessly. Then, with a sigh, she closed the front of her suitcase and snapped it shut, smiling.

Moving was a big break. No more dorm life, no more homework, and no more classes on campus! If anything this would be her schoolwork, taming Red. Plus, she'd most likely learn whatever trade Eden and her crew were working on.

Lugging her heavy bags out into the hall and around the corner, she found to her surprise that Red and Thomas were already standing patiently by the elevator, waiting for the doors to slide open with suitcases weighing heavily on their hands. She burst into a tripping run to catch the elevator as well, calling out their names as she went.

Both boys slowly rotated their heads around to look dully upon her, neither seeming pleased with her appearance. Red appeared to be in an especially foul mood, scowling and glaring and eventually looking back to Thomas with an agitated expression.

She stumbled just before them, tipped forward, flailed, and fell flat onto her face. No one laughed save herself, and she quickly picked herself and her bags up, hurrying in behind them as the doors slid open to admit the trio into the elevator.

"So," she managed to say while drawing in a deep breath, running a hand through her now messy hair, "any idea what we'll be doing when we get to Eden's household?"

Thomas shifted uncomfortably in the cramped space and pressed the button that would take them to the ground floor. "Learning the trade," he said simply.

Red yawned, covering his mouth with a hand as his fingers curved to attain a claw-like position.

"What's the trade?" Davi asked, still adamant about making conversation. After all, Thomas and Red were going to be her new partners, it seemed, and she wanted to be friends. She was quite sure they were great people once they warmed up and got more personal.

"Assassination."

Davi dropped her bag numbly as her fingers lost all strength, just like the rest of her body. "Assassination?! I'm just going to help Red, right?! I don't have to do that, do I?!"

"Honestly, Davi, someone has to take care of the Academy's enemies." Red turned to face her, smirking. "And do you seriously think you can help me? No one can help me - I'm dying and there's no good reason why. Therefore, you can't stop it, and you definitely can't control it."

"It's just a story we told my uncle to get us into Eden's team," Thomas continued for Red, who had turned and lost interest in explanations. "I admit, it was a spur of the moment thing, but everything just fell right into place, didn't it? No one can even begin to hope to counsel Red - his power ebbs and rises unpredictably and the most we can hope to do is protect ourselves."

Davi gulped down a lump in her throat, shakily whispering, "So it was a lie...?"

Red stepped out into the hall as the doors pushed back with a shrill 'ding'. His luggage dragged behind him, muffling his voice as he replied, "Yes, but don't worry about it. You should be thankful we're taking you along for the ride. It'll be much better where we're going."

Thomas was at his heels, directing them towards a waiting vehicle as he enthusiastically said, "You won't even believe the difference!"

~~~~~

"This Eden..." Davi had been having second thoughts since the elevator, but they all came flying at her full force when she glimpsed at the spacious looking two-story house from the end of the driveway, where the car had dropped them off. "Is she - I mean, will she mind us being sent here?"

Thomas laughed softly, as if she had just told a joke only slightly amusing. "Eden is a he, not a she. And no, he probably was a few people short anyhow. From what I've heard he's very ambitious, and if you don't show your obedience immediately, he'll feel the need to break you in. So don't give him any trouble."

"Ok..."

Davi struggled to keep up with the two boys as they trudged on ahead, leaving her to scurry along behind with all her heavy bags dragging along the cement of the curving driveway. Up ahead, in front of the house, was a rather large fountain in the center of a grassy patch of yard. The closer they got, the more detail she picked up on. It was a rather long driveway.

Sitting on the edge of the fountain appeared to be a young man, though she couldn't make much out about him, and on the porch were three other figures. From what she could see, one was female. And, when they finally drew only a few yards away, it became apparent that another person, a boy, was lying on his back in the grass.

What unnerved her most was the way the young man sitting on the fountain stared at the boy in the grass, as if he wanted to leap forward and pounce on him, as if he wanted to wrap his fingers around his throat and choke the life from the child.

She glimpsed into his keen, golden eyes and saw them flash and radiate with hatred and interest, like a bird of prey observing a field mouse. Her mind picked up on a few thoughts.

"The boy is symbolic of all that is impure in this household. His sins coat the walls and make them black as coal - coal is to charcoal as that is the color of his hair. Charcoal and burnt like a dead ember and dead amber is the color of his eyes and his eyes are lifeless and so should be his body. His blood should coat the walls and I will make him suffer... Righteous."

Davi shook her head and cleared away the insanity of the man's voice as his thoughts drifted off and she blocked him from her mind. "I don't like this already," she mumbled, petrified with fear and trying not to let anyone see.

One of the figures stepped down from the darkened porch and into the blinding sunlight. It was a man, perhaps in his early thirties, with thick, dusky brown hair that was cut short and spiked up, a few strands flopping over his lime green eyes carelessly. His long, tan face looked grim as he squared broad shoulders and began to walk towards them.

Davi, looking for something other than the intimidating man to focus her attention on, diverted her eyes and realized that in the back yard she could see waves crashing upon sand. They had a beach in the backyard! She had not heard nor smelled it before due to her paranoia.

"I'm Eden," the man said as he stooped to pick up Davi's bags and swung back up, pale green orbs scanning the group. "You must be the three new recruits. Which one of you is Red?"

Red answered, "I am. Why?"

Eden ignored the question. "So you must be Davi," he said, nodding at her, and then to Thomas, "and you are Thomas. Let's get you settled in."

The boy who had been lying in the grass sat up, brushed the dirt off his clothes, and looked inquisitively at the newcomers. He couldn't have been more than fourteen, a little younger than himself, Red decided as he paused to watch the kid.

Eden noticed his interest and swung around, frowning. "Guess I should introduce everyone. That's Dutch right there."

The slender boy waved, his eyes lifeless just as the other man had thought, Davi noticed. However, there was a smile on his round, pale face - his ashy black hair hung shaggily about his face, framing it. "Hi," he called out softly.

"And there is Ivory."

Ivory, the man sitting on the edge of the fountain, was tall and lean and although strong in appearance, obviously weak in the sanity department. He did not smile, but rather let his full lips part to reveal straight, white teeth in something of a snarl, a grimace, whilst his golden eyes shone in his boyish, alabaster-skinned face. Platinum blond hair, a little longer and unkempt, fell across his forehead, and he raised a long-fingered hand to push it aside.

"Ah, and over there..." Eden nodded towards the porch, where another man and a woman were standing. "That's Bree and his sister Bonnie."

The pair were obviously twins, both dark-skinned and with black hair. They even smiled alike, crooked and genuine.

Eden stepped up onto the porch and bade them to follow once more, leading them into the house. Red was last in line, shuffling along behind Davi. He pushed and jostled his way past her into the doorway, anxious to get a look at the house, but never got the chance to, for that was when the bloodcurdling scream erupted from outside, when Bree and Bonnie cried out in alarm and there were the sounds of an obvious struggle. And before he could move out of the way, he caught one glimpse of Eden spinning around, face tight with anger, and then, quite roughly, he was shoved to the ground by the older man and trampled as Eden flew out the door.