Uoy II

Underworld of Darkness

Ch.1 part4

1.

"Are you sure? Is that...really what you want, Shou Lang?" she asked looking down at the green rug. "You're sure that...you don't need the dagger anymore?" she asked looking up into his yellow eyes.

He put a hand on her shoulder, "It is for the best," he said quietly. "It'll only put you and myself in more danger. I must defeat Monde by myself...do you understand?" he said firmly with his yellow eyes blazing.

"Yes but..." she faltered and swallowed hard. "I'll...never see you again!" she cried taking hold of the black dagger in her hands.

He looked at her without an expression, "That is up to fate alone," he said. Then he looked over at Salem and Kithara. "We...don't belong here, this is your world..." he said then looking back at her.

San felt as if something was being torn out of her, she nodded her head and looked at the ground. "Oh...I see..." she said.

"Oh San!" cried Chip jumping in her arms. His tears wet her neck and shirt, "I'll pine away without you! If this is the last time I'll see you..." he trailed off and then starting wailing. "I'll never forget you, San!" he cried.

"Remember what you said on our little walk, eh, San?" said Salem grinning at her.

Kithara didn't say anything.

"Now San," said Shou Lang taking her shoulders in his hands again. He leaned his face toward hers so she could see his bright yellow eyes blinking at her, they were softer, kinder than before. "Will you promise me that you'll listen to Ms. James?"

Ms. James nodded her head, "Don't worry about it, she'll listen," the old woman croaked.

San cuddled Chip closer to her and put her face in Chip so that he wouldn't see the tears falling down her face.

"San? Will you promise not to go in the well?" he asked her in a gentle voice, he squeezed her shoulders. "Promise me, alright?" he said.

I need to get a hold of myself, she thought closing her eyes to keep the tears in. What's wrong with me?! Why am I crying...?!

"You'll take care, won't you?" called Salem, she heard the trapdoor opening and then footsteps walking down the stairs.

Chip whimpered, "Goodbye San," he said.

She pulled her face from his and set him down so she could turn her back from Shou Lang. "Tell Nitro hello...for me..." she said with her eyes welling up with tears. "Tell him...goodbye for me too, will you do that, Chip?" she said trying to keep the strain out of her voice.

Shou Lang put his hand on her shoulder again, "You didn't promise..." he said after a while.

She shut her eyes and nodded her head, "I promise...now...you should go!"

His hand remained on her shoulder, "San..." he said quietly.

She opened her eyes but didn't turn around.

"You...take care of Ms. James for me, will you?" he asked her.

San nodded again and let a tear fall down her chin, "I get it, ok? Just go already."

She heard him sigh, "Alright then...remember your promise, ok?" he said with his hand slipping from her shoulder.

San already felt as if she was missing them already, she bit her lower lip to keep herself quiet and nodded her head again. "Ok...Goodbye..." she said choking out the goodbye.

She heard Chip's little sniff, "You too, Ms. James, take care of her for me!"

"Alright," said the old woman taking San in her arms. "Bye, Chip."

"All right, you," she heard Shou Lang say. "That's enough crying, wipe your eyes, rat! You're so pathetic, you're supposed to cry when we leave!"

"Can't help it," she heard Chip sniff.

"Take care you all," Shou Lang's voice bounced along the walls. "And San..." he said.

With the old woman's arms comforting her she turned to look at him, he was smiling at her.

"Thank you...for all the things you've done for me," he said perching Chip on his shoulder. He seemed pleased by her look of surprise, "This is the last time I'll ever see you so I can thank you, can't I?" he said with a laugh.

San looked at her feet and turned away again, "You're welcome...get going, Shou Lang," she said giving him a sideways glance as she wiped her eyes.

Shou Lang opened the trapdoor and slipped through, "Farewell you two!" he called as the door slammed shut.

San stared at it along with Ms. James, then like a dam exploding San was able to cry in the old woman's arms.

"There, there," said the old woman gently. "Calm down, you'll make new friends, won't you?" she said tilting her face up. "Dry your eyes, love...like Shou Lang said...fate will decide when the day you shall meet with them again, so until then, trust in destiny," she said tapping her nose.

2.

Destiny...the word echoed in her head at the memory.

"SAN JAMES!" cried her teacher smacking her ruler against the chalkboard. "You stop with your daydreaming or I'll kick you out of my classroom! Is that understood?!" she yelled slamming the ruler on her desk.

San jumped and nodded her head meekly, "Sorry Ms. Yurts," she said pulling at her fingers nervously. "It won't happen again..."

"That's what you said the last time!" Ms. Yurts said stomping away from her desk and pointing up to the chalkboard. "Now...tell us, the whole class, what is wrong with this sentence?"

San stood up and ignored the giggles and snickers from her classmates and looked at the chalkboard biting down on her lip. "Um...uh..." she mumbled.

"As I thought," Ms. Yurts snapped, "You weren't paying attention at all! Sit down and copy this sentence in your notebook! I want the correction made by the end of class," she said wiping down the sentence on the board. "Honestly, I can't spend a minute with my back turned without you dazing off into space!"

San sighed heavily and copied the sentence in her notebook already blocking out Ms. Yurts from her head.

Someone giggled behind her, a boy snickered which was followed by the jeers of the cheerleader girls sitting beside her.

"That's right, can't you pay attention?" asked one in between giggles.

San ignored them and looked back up at the board at Ms. Yurts, it seemed that when someone else was talking they didn't get caught, but with her, she was always caught.

"Now, turn to page 297 in your textbooks," said Ms. Yurts pushing up her glasses with a finger. "Steven, why don't you read out loud for us, start at the beginning," she said.

San sighed and flipped dully in her book, grammar was so boring...

She stared at the page and then took the dagger under her shirt and held it up to inspect. It shone black and beautiful with the light, she smiled and tucked it back under her shirt.

Destiny, she thought staring into the pages of her grammar book. Fate alone will bring us together, she thought and smiled. I will see them again, she thought looking up from her book to stare at the wall. I wonder what they're all doing now...

3.

Finally the bell, she thought with relief and stood up to stretch. The classroom scattered around and then out of the room outside. She was in no rush, she scooped up her backpack from her backseat and walked to her locker with a nonchalant expression on her face.

She passed the cheerleaders and ignored their smirks and snickering, she only took it as a sign that they were jealous of her. She held her high and opened her locker door and stuffed her homework in her backpack.

"San!" called a voice from behind her.

It was one of the football jocks, San made a face and turned around resuming with what she was doing.

"Hey there, San," he said and slid up beside her with a smirk on his face. "How are you lately?" he asked with a cheesy voice.

"I was doing just fine until you showed up, Derek," she snapped at him and pulled out her backpack.

"Aw, c'mon, now, don't be like that," he said flashing her a smile. "I just wanted to ask you a question that's all!" he said with his green eyes flashing.

San tucked her coat in her arm and started walking away, "Go bother someone else!" she muttered carelessly and brushed past his shoulder.

He walked up beside her, standing next to him made her feel like a dwarf. He was the tallest boy in the football team standing six feet and four inches tall.

"Hey," he said taking her elbow. "You trying to be an ice woman or something?" he asked and started snickering. When she didn't stop he jerked her in front of him putting a dead grip on her arm.

"Stop that, Derek! Let go! Can't you see I'm busy, if I miss the bus you're driving me home!" she said smacking his arm with her fist.

He released her and grinned, "Don't be like that San, listen, huh?" he said stepping in front of her so she couldn't leave.

"What do you want?!" she demanded shrilly.

Derek had a sly look on his face, "I just wanted to ask if you're going to the freshmen dance...are you?"

The dance, she had completely forgotten about it. She snorted and started to walk by him again, "You're wasting my time!" she snapped.

"Wait-!" he grabbed her wrist, she stopped to glare at him. "I just wanted to ask..." a group of cheerleaders walked by. "...will you go to the dance with me?"

"Get a clue!" she yelled and jerked her wrist away from him. Then she turned on her heel and strode out the school building.

The cheerleaders laughed and giggled as she left.

San adjusted her backpack and turned into the parking lot, she found her bus and jumped on and sat in the front seat.

Derek rode her bus so he would be joining her shortly, he made it a habit to try and sit next to her every time he came on. His buddy Gregory would have a fit of laughter every time she refused and sent him on his way. She was told that it was a bet for one of them to sit next to her first. The winner would get a twenty- dollar bill from every cheerleader, but that was what she was told. She guessed that Derek asking her to the dance was a bet too.

She snorted and pushed her backpack beside her so no would sit next to her.

The bus slowly loaded up and then Derek and Gregory came on the bus laughing and pushing each other like all stupid boys did her age.

Derek leaned in her seat, "Changed your mind?" he asked her.

"What makes you think that after the entire year I'd want to sit next to you, the answer is always the same, so quit asking me everyday!" she shouted at him. "Get lost!"

Derek looked at Gregory then snickered and sat at the seat beside her, Gregory sat with him. "That's not what he meant," said Gregory with a laugh.

San looked out her window ignoring him.

"I meant the dance," she heard Derek say. "I thought that maybe you were just playing-hard-to-get out there, so I figured that you-"

"You thought wrong, airhead!" she snapped at the window.

She heard Gregory and Derek laughing beside her, but she ignored and stared outside as the bus starting rolling off into the street.

"C'mon you guys," said a sophomore girl from in front of her. "Why can't you two just grow up and leave her alone?"

"Shut up Ginger!" said Derek with a sneer. "Who asked you anyway? It's not like I'd ever ask you to the dance!"

"Not that I care for a freshman, anyway," said the sophomore girl.

She heard Derek snort, "Whatever, you don't even have a boyfriend, no doubt."

"My boyfriend is Chris Dander," she snapped at him. "So there!"

San sighed and settled by the window staring blankly outside. The noise of the bus always irritated her, she wished that she had her learner's permit so she wouldn't have to ride the bus everyday.

"So..." said Derek picking up her backpack and scooting next to her. "What about the dance, you never answered my question," he said trying to be cool.

The girls behind her giggled and poked each other.

San snatched her backpack and gave his leg a kick, "Get out of my seat, loser!" she said angrily. "Why can't you just leave me alone?!" she said and then glared outside.

"I think she really wants to go out with you," said Gregory laughing. "Ask her again, I bet she'll say yes."

"I know she will," said Derek sitting back in his seat. "She knows she wants me," then both boys laughed.

"Cut it out," said the sophomore girl. "Why are you always bothering her? Everyday the first thing you do is try to annoy her to death, just leave her alone for once."

"Shut up Ginger!" said Derek laughing. "You're not going with Chris Dander, he's a junior isn't he?"

"Yeah, and the best tennis player in our county," said the sophomore in triumph. "You can even ask him," she said.

"Tennis? Tell him that I said that's gay," he said and then Gregory and Derek started laughing again.

I wish I were home, she thought leaning in her seat sighing.

"San! Hey San!" called Derek but she ignored him and glared out of her window.

"She's being shy," said Gregory snickering.

"Listen, I know you want to go out with me and all, so I'll pick you up at your place on Friday, Ok?" Derek said laughing with Gregory.

"Oh Derek, I love you!" Gregory mimicked her voice. "I'll go out with you!" he said then laughed.

"Shut up man," said Derek, then he lifted up her backpack so he could sit next to her again. "Hey San," he said and grinned at her. "You're dead sexy!"

"You're gross, you pig!" she shouted and hit him snatching her backpack and stomping out of her seat and sitting in another.

"I want to go out with you San!" he called after her laughing. "Come back and sit with me! Let me take you to the dance!"

San rolled her eyes and sat in an empty seat glaring out the window.

The bus turned into her neighborhood, she looked out the window smiling and thinking of her Ms. James.

The bus went to a stop and she stood up and started down the aisle not looking at anybody but straight ahead of her.

When she passed Derek he stood up and quickly unzipped a part of her backpack, she kicked his foot and went outside the bus. Once the bus rumbled by she took off her backpack and looked at the part he unzipped. It wasn't a big part but the part where she put her pencils. Inside was a slip of paper, she glared at it and zipped up her backpack taking out the note but not reading it.

She walked to her house and up the driveway, already her mood was improving, she was home now. She let herself in and dumped her backpack at the bottom of the stairs, then she padded into the kitchen.

"Ms. James? Ms. James?" she called.

She sat down in the kitchen chairs looking around vacantly, then she remembered the note in her hand and read it. It read, 'San, please go out with me, Derek.'

She crumpled it up and tossed it in the trashcan, "He's such a dumb ass," she muttered and stood up and walked to the garage door. Ms. James' car was parked in the garage, so that meant that she was there in the house.

"Ms. James?!" she called again, but once more there was no answer. "Ms. James? Where are you?"

"I'm upstairs with a guest," called down Ms. James from upstairs. "Come up and meet her," she croaked.

San nodded and jumped up the stairs and into Ms. James' room, strangely enough she found herself looking at a black woman with long braids.

The woman turned and smiled warmly at her, "San!" she said. "You remember me, don't you?" she asked her.

"You're...my cousin..." she said uneasily. "From Vermont, right?" she asked offering a polite smile.

She nodded her head, "That's right, I came to bring you bad news. About my sister," she said and placed her hands on San's shoulders.

"She's...been in a car accident, she passed away, I'm sorry to tell you this," she said shaking her head sadly.

San felt bad, but not terrible. It wasn't like she knew the woman, even now she was trying to remember the names of her two cousins.

"I'm sorry," said San numbly. "I don't know how you feel because I've never had a sibling before, but I'm sorry, really..." she said patting her back. "Your sister meant a lot to you."

"And you meant a lot to her too, San," she said with her brown eyes wavering.

San nodded her head, "I'm very sorry," she said and gave her cousin a polite hug.

"You're all I have left," said her cousin hugging her tightly.

"She wants to know if you would like to live with her, San," said the old woman looking forlorn.

San felt the wind leave her lungs, her cousin hugged her tighter. "That's right, I know you have friends here, and you love Ms. James, but...we're family." She looked into San's eyes sadly. "Family sticks together no matter what," she said.

San backed away, "I...don't know..." she stammered.

"I have all legal rights to take full custody over you," said her cousin firmly. "All you need to do is say the word and you'll be with me, ok? I know this is a hard decision that I'm asking you to make very quickly, but I need an answer."

San looked back at Ms. James but the old woman was looking out the window without an expression. Then she looked back at her cousin backing away, "I don't mean to be rude but...I just-just met you once! I don't know anything about you!"

"I know," she said and took her hands, "but we can get to know each other! You'll see! I'm a nice person, I can provide for you and raise you like my daughter, would you like that?"

San looked at her feet, then looked back at Ms. James, "I...I...I..."

Her cousin's eyes wavered again, "We're all we have left of our family, San...you and I are the last...don't you understand?" she said squeezing tighter to her hands. "Can't you see how important this is that we stay together?"

San's breath caught in her throat, she was finding it hard to breathe. "I...it's been so long since I've seen you last! Almost a year, hasn't it?" she cried shrilly. "I...I don't even remember your name!" she cried.

"We will get to know each other..." she said taking her face in her hands and kissing her forehead. "I want you to live with me, it would mean the world to me."

She couldn't breathe, "I can't! I...I'm sorry! I just can't!" she cried with her eyes welling up with tears.

"Why not?" her cousin demanded painfully. "Don't you like me at all?"

"I can't!" she cried breaking free and running out the room. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"

She knew she was acting like a baby but she just couldn't stay in the same room with her cousin pleading her like that. A woman that she barely knew, just a memory, she didn't even own a picture of her. How could she live with a woman like that, family or not, she loved Ms. James, and she could never part with her.

"I'm so selfish!" she cried into her pillow and beat her fists on it. "She's the only family member alive...and I'm just..." she rolled over on her back and stared into the ceiling. "I can't leave Ms. James, she needs me here..."

There was a brief knock on her door, she sat up wiping her eyes. "Ms. James?!"

The old woman sighed, "She left...you made her very upset the way you ran out of the room like that. It would mean a lot if you lived with her, love," she said stepping into her room and staring at her.

"You...want me to go?" she whispered.

"No," said the old woman taking San in her arms. "Never...I love you," she said and kissed her forehead. "I've never had a child before, San...you're like the daughter and grandchild that I never had..."

"Ms. James!" she cried hugging her. "I love you too! I know it isn't fair to my cousin but...it isn't fair for me to live her when I want to live with you!" she cried.

"I am old, San...pretty soon I won't be able to take care of anyone."

"No," she breathed looking into Ms. James' face, "I'll take care of you, don't say things like that, Ms. James...you'll see...!" she said hugging her tightly.

Ms. James nodded her head and sighed, "You're sure about this, San? I really think you should call your cousin."

"And what would I say?" she cried wiping her eyes again. "I don't know her...I don't know anything about her, I want to be with you!" she cried.

"San," the old woman sighed. "Settle down, settle down..."

San closed her eyes and hugged her again, "I'm not leaving you."

"Come now," she said wiping her face with the apron she wore around her waist. "Before you came in I was baking a pie, you're a mess, go wash up and meet me in the kitchen. We'll eat the pie together, all right?"

San wiped away another tear, "All right," she said standing up. She started for the doorway and then stopped and looked back around. "Ms. James...I meant what I said. I'm not leaving you...ever."

The old woman lowered her head, "Go wash up, I'll meet you in the kitchen."

4.

"San...wake up, you'll miss your bus," said the old woman shaking her awake. "Wake up, love. I already packed your lunch in your backpack," said Ms. James patting her cheek.

San groaned and rolled back over on her side trying to fight for extra sleep.

"Now, now," said Ms. James pulling the covers off of her. "Get up, showered and ready for school," she said knocking a fragile hand against her forehead.

San jumped out of bed and yawned, "Good morning, Ms. James," she said.

"Good morning, San," she said opening the curtains of her room.

"I'm going to take my shower now," she mumbled stretching, then padding out into the hallway.

The dagger felt heavy against her chest, she touched it and shut the bathroom door behind her.

...

The bus pulled in front of her, she adjusted her backpack on her shoulder and stepped onto the bus sitting down in the third to first seat. The bus started again and rolled down the street.

Several juniors got on and one senior, they sat in the back with the rest of the juniors and seniors. Most of the bus was half asleep, which didn't bother her since she liked the quiet.

Then it was Derek and Gregory's stop, they came on the bus pushing and laughing like they did every morning, then Derek stopped in front of her seat.

"I like what you're wearing today, can I sit next to you?" he asked modestly.

She ignored him and stared outside the window not saying anything back.

After a while he sauntered to the back of the bus and left her alone, his little sidekick followed close behind him.

I wonder what my cousin is doing, I hope she doesn't take this the wrong way, I like her and all...it's just that...I don't remember anything about her. The last time I went to her house a demon nearly killed me, she shuddered at the memory and swallowed hard. Veto, she thought with a sigh, I'm so glad that he's dead. That guy gave me the creeps!

The bus rolled into the school parking lot and she got off the bus still trying to get the scaly demon out of her head. She remembered him as if he was right in front of her, he had shining red eyes, scaly skin and always wore a dark baseball cap on his head.

Veto...she thought narrowing her brown eyes. He forced Shou Lang to nearly lose in the tournament, she thought looking up at the other students. Shou Lang had to do whatever he said, because of those demons behind us. I'm so glad the tournament is over...been over...how long has it been?

She made a face, "A couple of months...it was winter when I last saw him, and now it is spring," then she sighed.

It's strange that I've thought of them recently, she thought picking up her pace. The bell was going to ring very soon, she started to jog. I forgot all about that trapdoor and the well...why have I thought of it now?

She ran into the school and made it to class just as the warning bell sounded, she sat down in her desk and put her backpack on the back of her seat breathing hard.

Another day of school, she thought making a face and taking out her pencil bag.

...

She hugged her books close to her chest and looked around the hallway with an annoyed expression on her face. It was the jocks picking on Herman again, Herman Granger was a lanky boy with glasses and red hair, all of the popular kids made fun of him because he was smart.

Now they were knocking down his books and kicking them down the hall, San sighed, then knelt down to help him pick up his books. She gathered three into her already falling pile of books and staggered over to Herman who was brushing himself off glaring at the whooping jocks disappearing down the hall.

"Here are your books," she said walking up to him and dumping them in his hands.

"Why thank you," he said grinning at her.

"Don't mind those guys," she said with a sigh. "They pick on everyone," she said and smiled at him. "By the way, my name is San James."

"I know who you are," he said fixing his glasses on his face. "Everyone knows who you are," he said studying her with large green eyes.

San cocked her head, "How come?" she asked.

"All the guys know how hard-to-get you are," said Herman smiling at her. "They talk about you all the time in the boy's locker room."

She took it as a compliment, "That's interesting," she said and shrugged.

Herman sighed, "They made a new bet about you, Derek, he gets to go out with Brittany Mills if he gets you to go to the dance with him and dance to a slow song."

San rolled her eyes, "Doesn't he ever quit? I don't like stupid boys like that!" she said and then shifted the books in her arms. Then she looked at the clock and started down the hall, "Well, nice meeting you Herman!" she said.

"Hey!" he called after her. "Can I sit with you at lunch today?"

"Sure!" she called over her shoulder and ran into class.

5.

Lunch! She thought and took out the lunch Ms. James had prepared for her, I wonder what's for lunch for today!

She sat down at an empty table, because she always sat in an empty table everyday at lunch. She opened her lunch and grinned. "Potatoes, ham, pie, and soup! How does she expect me to eat all of this in 30 minutes," she cried then happily went to the lunch line to buy herself a skim milk.

Herman bumped into her, "San!" he said in surprise.

"Herman!" she said and smiled. "Didn't mean to bump into you like that, sorry."

Herman grinned, "Not a problem, where are you sitting?"

"Oh yeah, you wanted to sit with me!" she said then laughed and pointed at the table with her lunch bag, "I'm the only person that eats my herself," she said smiling. "You can't miss it, it's the only empty table in the cafeteria," she said and walked into the lunch line.

She felt a hard push and whirled around, it was Derek with two cheerleaders. She ignored him and started looking for the milk cartons. She found them and dug out thirty-five cents.

A hand on hers stopped her, "I'll pay for that," it was Derek. He picked up the milk and walked to the cash register.

"Hey!" she said trying to reach for her milk. "What do you think you're doing? I never asked you to buy that!" she told him angrily.

He gave her a cool smile and paid for the milk, then handed it to her. "Say you'll go to the dance with me?"

"Forget about it!" she snapped and strode back for the lunch tables.

"You're making a big mistake!" he called after her but she pretended that she didn't hear him.

She found Herman sitting across from her spot, he had his glasses off and a sandwich in his mouth.

San smiled and sat down across from him, "Hi Herman," she said brightly.

He nearly choked on his sandwich, "S-San!" he spluttered.

She opened her thermos and took out a spoon and blew on her soup to keep it warm. She was aware that Herman was watching her.

"You make your lunch every day?" he asked her.

"No..." she said smiling at him. "Ms. James makes me my lunches, she's a really nice old lady," she said and sipped her soup.

Herman nodded his head then looked up at her from his sandwich, "How come you eat all by yourself every day? You can sit with me and my friends if you'd like to sometime," he said chewing thoughtfully.

San found herself smiling, "Thanks, I might just do that sometime. But I like eating by myself, you see...I live with just one person in my household, so our meals are very quiet. I like things when they're quiet..." she said.

Herman nodded his head, "My friends and I are quiet, you can join us anytime you like! We'd love to have you over there..."

"Thanks for the invitation," she said drinking her milk. "I've never eaten with anyone other than with my friends from out of town and Ms. James..."

"What everyone says about you is so untrue," he said after a while. "Everyone talks about how mean you are, but you don't seem mean to me."

She sighed, "I can be mean if I want, but I try to be nice to people. And most rumors you hear around this school are fake," she said looking at him gently.

He stared at her for a long while and then gave her a wide dorky-looking smile. "I know, don't you have any friends at all that you hang out with?"

"Um...no..." she said looking at her milk carton. "I've never really thought about it until now."

"You can hang out with me and the guys if you want," he said brightly.

"Hang out? Sure," she said forking her potatoes and putting it in her mouth.

Herman seemed pleased, his whole face seemed to be lit up, she drunk her milk again.

Then Gregory passed by, "Hey, would you look at this? Dork boy meets ice girl, you two have a lot in common!" he said laughing as he walked by their table.

Herman scoffed, "Don't mind him. You aren't an ice girl."

"I'm not offended," she said and sipped on her soup again. "Are you?" she asked him.

Herman shook his head, "I've been called Dork boy since the second grade, I'm kind of used to it," he said with a grin.

"Well...you aren't a dork," she told him forking her potatoes, "Don't let them pick on you without you defending yourself."

"It's no use," he said shaking his head. "They call me Dork boy anyway," he said biting into his sandwich again.

San looked up at him, "So you just let them call you names and you don't tell anybody?" she said. Then she shook her head, "Herman, if they call you names, tell a teacher, then they won't tease you anymore."

"Nah, I don't really care anyway," he said sipping on a coke.

San lowered her eyes and blew on her soup again keeping an eye on Herman while she blew.

"Hey!" Derek cried with Gregory by his side. "What are you two doing sitting together?" he asked crossing his arms in front of his chest.

"Eating lunch, now leave us alone," she said throwing him a dirty look. "Go on, get out of here before I tell a teacher that you're bothering me again."

Derek sat beside her and took her hand, "C'mon San! Come to the dance with me, I promise that this isn't a joke. I really like you and I want-"

"You're pathetic!" she said jerking her arm away. "How stupid do I look to you anyway?" she said snorting. "Go away, you're bothering us!" she said raising her chin a notch higher.

"Why don't you believe me? I want to go with you to the dance," he said in a pitiful voice. "Are you already going with Dork boy or something?"

"Don't call him that!" she snapped at him. "Leave us alone!"

Gregory started snickering, "Hear that?" he said. "She's sticking up for her new boyfriend, way to go Herman! You've melted the ice girl's heart," he said nudging Herman in the chest.

"Grow up guys," he said pushing up his glasses.

"Beat it, Derek! I'm trying to eat my lunch, you're making me sick!" she said turning her head from him in disgust.

"Fine!" Derek said pushing out of the seat and stomping away.

After they left Herman started laughing, "You were great!" he said laughing. "That was really good how you told them off like that!"

San shrugged, "They're annoying," she said.

"Hey listen, come to the arcade with me and the guys on Friday night, unless you're going to the dance."

"No...I had no intention of going," she said finishing the last of her milk. "You're going to the arcade? Cool...you mean the one in the mall, right?" she said.

Herman nodded his head and finished his sandwich, "That's right."

"Fine," she said grinning. "I'll go, thanks for inviting me. I've never really hung out with people before."

"It'll be fun," Herman assured. "You'll like it, I promise. So...be there by 5:00, ok?"

San nodded her head, "Sure," she said.

"Great," he said standing. "If you don't mind, I'm going to throw away my stuff, I'll be right back," then he walked over to the trashcans.

San sighed and ate the last of her lunch chewing reflectively. "The arcade, huh?" she said to herself. "Sounds like fun," she said. She watched Herman return back, he sat across from her and looked at her lunch.

"Are you going to throw anything away, I'll do it for you if you want..."

"Oh no, that's ok," she said standing with her trash. "I can do it by myself, but thank you anyway," she said walking to the trashcans.

When she returned Herman was looking up at her from where he sat. "That's a very interesting necklace that you have there."

San touched her dagger and looked at it, "Yes...it is..." she said absently.

"Can I see it?" he asked eagerly.

San hesitated, but then slipped it off her head and put it in the palm of his hand, Herman dropped it and held his hand. "Ouch!" he cried.

"What's wrong? Did it shock you?!" she cried touching his arm. "Herman...are you all right? Are you hurt?" she asked him.

"No it's just...hot!" he cried pointing to it on the floor.

San lifted it up and weighed it in her hand, "It isn't hot, Herman. Come and touch it," she said offering it to him.

Herman just barely touched it with his fingers and he pulled away blowing on his fingers. "It's hot! Hot! Hot! How can you touch that thing! It's like touching a burning light bulb!" he cried.

San gasped and looked at it, "Really? Is it that hot?" she asked touching the blade of the curved dagger with her finger. "So...only I can wear it after all..." she breathed.

"What was that?" Herman asked.

"Nothing," she said quickly and slipped it over her head. "I didn't say anything..."

"That dagger thing is cool," said Herman pointing to it. "It looks so cool, where'd you get it?" he asked her.

"I...uh...found it laying around in my house," she said with a nervous laugh. "I just...uh...happened to find it one day!"

"It looks ancient," he said squinting at it. "And very...beautiful!" he said quietly. "I've never seen a necklace like that in all my life," he said adjusting his glasses.

"Thank you," she said uneasily. "It really isn't all that, it's probably made from some cheesy toy store," she said.

"I don't think so," he said shaking his head. "It looks pretty real to me," he said looking at her. "You're lucky to find such a beautiful artifact," he said.

San bit her lower lip and smiled nervously at him.

6.

That night San stared into the bathroom mirror and looked hard into it at her reflection. She was still the five feet and seven inches she was and the same brown eyes along with the same skin and teeth.

It was the dagger, she stared at its reflection and touched it on the surface of the glass. It felt smooth and cold on her fingertips.

"It felt hot when Herman touched it," she said to her reflection. "If humans can't touch it and demons get shocked...then...I'm the only one that can operate the navigator!" she gasped and backed against the wall breathing hard.

Oh no!

"I'm...the only one who can...locate the Uoy stones!" she gasped and looked away from her reflection and lifted up the dagger. "That means that...forever I'll be hunted down for the navigator!" she groaned and slumped against the wall. "Not fair!" she cried.

Then she looked back at her reflection while touching her dagger lightly with her fingertips. The dagger glowed and gleamed mysteriously, she looked down at her dagger and made a face. "Why'd you pick me? Why do I have to be the navigator?" she asked the dagger while stroking it in her hand.

It was cool to the touch; she put the blade to her face and shut her eyes. "Was I supposed to find you in that cellar downstairs? Was it meant for me anyway?" she whispered and looked into her reflection.

The dagger glinted with the light as if answering, she looked at her reflection for a long moment, and then dropped the dagger, it bumped against her chest.

She turned off the bathroom light and crawled into bed pulling the covers under her chin and closing her eyes.

It isn't like the dagger matters anymore, she thought sighing and burying deeper in the covers. I'm never going back to that world ever again, she thought. I promised him that I wouldn't the day he left, she opened her eyes and sighed. And Ms. James...she thought closing them again.

The dagger is as good as a normal dagger now, she thought drifting off to sleep.