Darn it. Almost 50 chapters...

After taking great care to remove the ice spear from Logan's side and trying to stem the flow of blood from all of his students' wounds, Martin somehow managed to get them all back to the house in one piece, though he had Alice in his arms, exhausted and so shocked at her actions that she was incapable of moving, and, though it was a strain, he had Logan on his back. Really, Noah was the only one not seriously injured -- but he was soaked to the skin, and needed to get inside or he would get seriously sick.

Now Martin waited in the living room, having found some dry clothes that fit Noah fairly well (said boy was now asleep, curled up in an armchair with what few scratches and bruises he had having been patched up, including one nasty cut that Lola had closed up with some bandages.) In just three weeks under his supervision, all but one of Martin's students had been taken out of commission for what, with their healing pace being as quick as it was, may be a few days at least.

"How did I let this happen…?" He murmured to himself, his head in his hands.

"Mmm?" Noah shifted in his sleep and opened one bleary blue eye, "you say somethin'…?" His voice was still hoarse from taking in so much cold sea water hours before.

"Just talking to myself, Noah," Martin sighed, and the boy nodded, closing his eyes.

"Just checking…" Noah rolled over on the chair, stretching out so his arm hung off the side and his legs were draped over one of the arm rests.

"I'm going to go see how the others are doing," Martin stood up as he spoke, "you'll be all right up here alone?"

A soft, almost inaudible snore was the only answer he received.

The first thing Martin saw when he went downstairs was Owen, sitting upright and looking pretty much healed, save for the annoyed look on his face.

"Martin," he said, his expression was suddenly a smile, "can you help me out? I look okay, right?"

"You look much better, yes," Martin agreed.

"Then can you try and convince Lola that I can get up? She won't let me leave, I'm fine…"

"You're fine when I say you're fine," Lola said matter-of-factly, not looking up from what she was doing (which was currently trying to get Willow to sit still while she dabbed a green solution on a nasty gash on her forehead), "and if you wander around you'll open that wound right up."

Owen looked rather put out, but her couldn't come up with a decent protest. He was quickly realizing that there was no point in arguing with Lola.

As he thought of Lola, Martin looked over at her, and it was as if she could read his mind right off the bat. She gestured over to the far corner of the infirmary, where Alice lay on her back, silent. As soon as Martin approached her, though, she sat up and looked at her feet. Martin realized with horror that she was expectant -- she thought he was going to yell at her again. As if to prove her wrong, he just sat down next to her, saying nothing. After awhile her shoulders seem to relax.

"I'm sorry," was the first thing she said.

"And I told you back at the cave how sorry I am," Martin told her, "Alice I can't help but think that this whole thing was my fault. Alazne," Alice winced at the name, "she wouldn't have been able to get into your mind if I hadn't screwed you up so much. I meant everything I said in that cave, Alice. I don't want any of you guys to feel the way Lola and I used to every day. Nobody deserves that."

"Do you think they'll forgive me?" Alice finally asked.

"Ask them yourself," Martin then called over to where Alice's teammates were, "you guys forgive her, right?"

Arabella nodded from where she lay next to Logan, who gave her a thumbs up. Willow wanted to answer, but she was cut off when Lola pressed a damp cloth to another one of her cuts, "ow! Yeah…"

"Eh, I guess."

"Owen," Martin urged. The boy laughed.

"I'm kidding," he clarified, "if you had any choice in what you were doing, Alice, you wouldn't have done it. You're okay now, so we're good."

Alice couldn't believe it had been that easy. She smiled to herself -- if they were willing to forgive her for all of that, then they must really trust that she would never hurt them -- and they were right. If she had had a choice, she wouldn't have laid a finger on any of them.

"Alice," Martin said after awhile, "I want you to know that, like it or not, you are the leader of this group -- but I went about all of that stuff the wrong way. Somehow I made it sound like you could never ask for help if there was something you couldn't handle. Alice, something I forgot was that the mentor is just as much as part of the team as the Xabiere are, so I'm not going to make you feel like everything's up to you. If you need something, you come to me or Lola. That goes for all of you," he added to everyone else.

They all suddenly heard the door upstairs open, and Noah's sheepish voice filtered through the room.

"Lola…remember how you told me that if I slept on my side funny then that big cut would open up…?"

"How do you manage to hurt yourself while you're sleeping?" Lola sighed and grabbed a towel and a roll of gauze, when she looked him over, she saw that blood was seeping through the sweatpants Martin had given him, "oh boy. That's another set of clothes you've gone through today…"

Martin had debated washing the clothes after Noah's were dry, but he'd officially decided that the cat-boy should probably keep them.

It would still be awhile before Martin got used to the idea that he was a teacher, and that there were six kids relying on his skills. It was a little nerve wracking…but as he watched Alice snicker at Noah being fussed over, he decided that maybe everything would be okay.

And...that's the end of book one! Keep an eye out for book two, which should be up fairly soon!

Thanks for reading and see you next time~!