A/N: Almost half way finished! Two years later and it's still a present for MissPalm! We'll get to chapter 20 eventually!

The Mirror's Reflection
{Chapter Nine}

Didn't everyone hate Mondays? It had to be a universal fact. But Darin hated this one more than others simply because he was tired, far more tired than he had ever been before. He didn't regret sneaking out the night before and most definitely didn't regret the events of the night before- it was just…He and Brent had stayed out in the forest parking lot till four in the morning and he was beat.

The other students of his second period English class laughed along as their teacher Mrs. Bly made fun of the poem that they were analyzing by trying to find ridiculous sexual meaning on its reference to blooming berries. Darin saw the reference and even believed that the poem was really and truly about virginity after it talked about seeing the berries through a white dress but after that he couldn't bother himself with thinking too much.

Kirstin happened to be in his English class and the boy had poked and prodded Darin to speak about his date and even the weekend which he had disappeared for. All Darin wanted to do was sleep and he ended up just laying his head on Kirstin's shoulder, carefully on account of his horns, and simply closing his eyes.

He was nudged awake by Kirstin about thirty minutes later and he stretched and blinked around the room to find the classroom quiet and students hard at work on some new assignment. Confused, Darin opened his notebook to a clean page, scribbled a note and passed the spiral notebook to Kirstin.

'What the hell is going on?'

Kirstin smirked and Darin whined a little in response but the boy had already taken advantage of the situation and wrote out his demands.

'I'll tell you the assignment if you tell me where you were all weekend and what you were doing!'

Darin snatched back the notebook so that the exclamation mark at the end of Kirstin's note smudged but he replied with a simple: 'I was with Brent.'

Widening his eyes, Kirstin didn't bother to write out his response and simply mouthed: 'the whole time?'

Darin nodded and then covered his mouth to hold in a giggle and then reached for the notebook to quickly pen: 'He told me that he loved me! Ahh!'

Kirstin thought of Thomas and how he had acted during lunch last Friday and felt a cold stab of pity for the other boy, little did he know that Thomas was already aware of this sad fact. He clicked his pen and drew a little smiley face before a description of the assignment on Plath.

'She killed herself, you know. By sticking her head in an oven, I think.'

The dragon blinked, eyes flickering to the boy's arms and the raised scars that seemed to sleep there. The whole table was aware of Kirstin's past and how he often thought of terrible things but he had stopped hurting himself since joining Darin's band of merry teenagers. Still, it was always good to check…

Darin turned the notebook towards Kirstin after scribing a simple message of: 'Remember the fuzzy feelings :)'

Kirstin smiled and nodded, turning to his computer and pulling up Naruto fanfiction instead of finishing the Plath assignment.

Lunch had started but no one had made it to the middle table yet except Lawrence, which was a first considering he spent most of his time practicing football in some way or another. This Monday, the coach was out due to some unfortunate food poisoning and had called in sick from his bathroom, or so the rumors had said, and the bear demon was left to review the team's strategies with another junior during their free period.

In a way he was glad that he was able to get to lunch early so that he might get to talk with Darin alone for a while, which they rarely got to do. Lawrence wasn't too sure about Brent and Darin in that he was as skeptical as almost everyone else at the middle table and he knew a few shady football players who knew the reclusive Brent; the stories about him were not flattering.

But Darin wasn't at lunch early this Monday which was as strange as his disappearance last Friday and it worried more than just Lawrence. Kohei and Celine strolled through the human side of the hall which was often kinder to a mixed pair such as themselves as the other, demon side and they sat on Lawrence's side of the table, without a word and waited with him. Everyone was missing Darin and there was an unspoken terror that Brent would steal him away from the middle table. There had never not been a middle table according to those who entered high school with Darin three years prior. The young dragon had sprinted to the center of the hall and immediately claimed the table that was placed there- it was a sacred haven for those who didn't wish to pick a side.

Thomas shuffled through the hall and sat facing Lawrence, his back to the expected entrance of Darin which was a surprising occurrence, though it was something of an unspoken agreement among those of the middle table that no one would speak an opinion on the situation until Darin himself had given his. And so they waited. Simon, the demon with floppy dog ears, joined them again and exhibited signs of understandable confusion but stayed silent and scratched at the tight ringlets of golden curls on his head.

A shriek came from the center of the demon side of the hall and those whose ears could perk up, did. Darin had tripped again and smacked someone with his tail, they were all sure, and it seemed to lighten the mood of the table. No one was sure but it was feared that Darin had somehow changed and become someone more foreign and unapproachable. The dragon bounded from the crowd of demons, dragging Kirstin by the wrist behind him.

"My loyal subjects," screeched Darin as he drew closer to the middle table, "your king has returned!"

"Oh, joy," said Celine, rolling her eyes, but in all seriousness she was, as well as everyone else, smiling and happy to see him.

Lawrence nudged Thomas, who was looking less than thrilled at Darin's reappearance, before jumping up and giving the dragon a bear hug. "Eyyyyyy!" He slurred while ruffling the straight black tresses at the back of Darin's head, careful of his horns, of course. "Long time, no see!"

Darin giggled and seemed to be the very embodiment of the sun on a rainy day. "Well, you know," he began, pulling Kirstin to sit between him and Thomas before continuing with a terrible British accent, "I got to travelling around my kingdom and it took ever so long! But look! I've brought back with me, here, this peasant!"

"Now that's just offensive," chuckled Kirstin.

Celine interjected with a snort, "The accent or the fact that the son of a British Embassy member was just called a peasant?"

"Hush up and explain to me what these 'tea and crumpets' are so that I might attempt to try them," demanded Darin, patting Kirstin on the back.

Lunch continued like this, Darin winking at the Simon whose cheeks remained a constant shade of pink, Lawrence laughing at Celine's short, witty remarks about Darin's decrees and accent, and Kohei providing tie-breaking information about whether a crumpet was a vegetable or a pastry. But Thomas and Darin never once looked at each other, or recognized each other's presence for that matter which no one seemed to notice, except for Lawrence.

The bell rang and Darin was already gone, arm in arm with Kohei as they went in search of Xyon and a certain science worksheet and it's correct answers which he might possess. Lawrence had planned on confronting Thomas but the shaggy-haired youth had slipped out of sight almost as soon as the bell had rung and soon Lawrence was left, alone again in the hall. Darin seemed to be his same old flamboyant, blissfully happy self but there was something in the air was the bear demon could feel and it unsettled him.

Football practice was after lunch but since the coach was out, the players were left to roam around the school or practice their throws and tackles on the field but it was abnormally hot outside and Lawrence, like all the other players, decided to lounge in the air-conditioning. He leaned forward and snuggled into the nest that he had made for his head with his backpack and his arms and was almost asleep when the middle table surged and shook as someone sat opposite him, in Thomas' seat.

Looking up, Lawrence foolishly expected to see Thomas, which was impossible because he had some kind of computer technology class after lunch. Instead, seated there before him, was Douglas Lampwick. The demon's eyes met and they each exchanged a customary curt nod.

"Lampwick," stated Lawrence, welcoming Douglas in the kind of forced friendship that all football players extend to one another. Even so, he never once considered lifting his head from its cozy make-shift pillow or even keeping his eyes open to attempt a conversation with Douglas because Lawrence was quite positive that he was a major asshole.

"Knightly," muttered Douglas, no happier than Lawrence to be talking him. "No practice today…" he began by stating the obvious.

"No," said Lawrence sarcastically as he lifted his head for a moment to chuckle, "You don't say!"

Ignoring the bear's comment, Douglas continued, "It makes me want to hit something, you know? Practice is my stress release."

"Really? I just do it for fun."

"No one asked you, Knightly."

Lawrence signed, "What are you doing here, Lampwick?" He was losing patience with conversation and longed for the nap that was awaiting him.

The words can fast, like water from a broken dam, and Douglas' voice got lower and he got angrier as he went. "Was that faggy dragon's name Darin Creech? I hear that he's turning all the guys into queers. Has he really sunk his fuckin' fangs into my buddy, Brent? He's a good guy, Brent, and I never took him for a homo. Hell! I even had him stay over a few times. He won't call any of us back and we haven't seen him since Thursday!"

Lawrence immediately sat up, abandoning his nap completely and leaning calmly across the middle table, grabbed Douglas' blue collared shirt with a huge, paw-like hand. "I'm sorry," he paused to rub a sleepy eye with his free hand and drew Douglas closer and growled, "I don't respond well to assholes trash-talking friends of mine. Care to re-phrase your question?"

Pulling at the hand over his collar, Douglas squirmed but spit back his retort, "Shit, man! He's gotten you too! Fight it, Knightly! The football team can't lose you because you've turned into a pansy!"

"Grown a brain, dip-shit," rumbled Lawrence, tightening his grip on the polo. "You'd be wise to back the fuck off, Lampwick, Thomas told me about your snooping; if anything happens to Darin, I'm coming straight for you and you're gonna wish that you were trampled by elephants rather than mess with me!"

Douglas opened his mouth to hurl another remark but Lawrence had had enough and pulled back his free hand and punched the other football player square in the face. Douglas went flailing backwards, his legs catching on the bench connected to the table and his head knocking against the cool linoleum. He lay there like some kind of retarded starfish for a few moments. Grabbing the back of his head with one hand and his nose with the other he proceeded to shout a long, pain-stricken screech consisting of the word 'fuck' but mostly of its first two letters and capping off with a softly articulated 'ck'.

Lawrence smirked, even as the school principal marched into the hall and grabbed his forearm with her cold, spiny fingers. And as he walked past Douglas, who was being attended to by a nurse, as he was carted off to the front office, Lawrence couldn't help but snarl, "Get the picture, Lampwick?"

Douglas glared at the bear demon as he was dragged, smirking, out of the hall.

End Note: Yeah, no big deal. Lawrence is a badass. Would you believe that I just thought up Douglas, out of the blue? Hah. I figured that the story needed some more drama, although what he does later was actually planned so it worked itself out quite nicely! You'll see, soon enough!:3

R & R will be returned! Thank you!