I stumbled into JavaKai with my sister for my usual Wednesday morning coffee and muffin (they stopped serving the strawberry poptarts right before they left), and went to sit at my usual spot, still exhausted from my latest, well, late night. Stupid college classes. I was just about to sit on the tropical couch when someone sped in behind me and stole the spot.

"Whoa, person," I snapped. Pre-morning coffee times are not good for my attitude. "I've been coming here every Wednesday morning since my friends went missing a few years ago. You can't just take that spot and expect to get away with it."

Then, I looked around and saw the rest of that person's crew. The rag-tag team was obviously not getting my point as their faces were contorted to annoyance and shock.

"Ashley? Amanda?"

I almost dropped my muffin on the floor.

"How do you know our names?" I asked. The pre-coffee stuff was gone. I was fully awake without the help of caffeine.

"It's us," one of them, a guy, stepped forward. What? "Heather, Lauren, and Katie."

"No you're not," Amanda glared at them. That was a touchy subject they were hitting on. Something Amanda sometimes didn't take well.

"Yeah, we are," brunette stepped forward to join oddly feminine looking guy. "Remember the strawberry poptarts, Ashley?"

"How's the High School at the College?"
"And Mr. Mangers' board?"

I was still stuck on the poptarts.

"It is you!" Amanda practically jumped them in a tackle hug.

"But they stopped making the strawberry poptarts," I mumbled. I really wanted a strawberry poptart!

"We thought you left us forever!" I joined in. Poptarts! Nom!

"Wait," this one guy with weird eyes said. "Where's Ryo?"

"Right here." The Ryo person had an odd expression on his face. Sirus turned to face my sister.

"Either there's two Ryo's in here or she has the same Alice," he explained. Wait, like Alice in Wonderland? I was seriously confuzzled.

"What's an Alice?" Amanda asked. Thank you. "And why do I have it?"

"If Sirus is right, then you can shape-shift into animals," new and improved version of Lauren replied. Wait. She can do what?! Not fair!

"How does he know that?" Amanda asked. Yeah, how does he? And why don't I have one, too?! Oh look! Harry Potter t-shirt!

"- sense Alices," blondie Katie said. Whoa. I really need to check if I have ADD or something. My focus sucks.

"Do I have one?" I blurted out. I had to get back into the conversation somehow.

"I'm not magical!" weird probably blind guy squeaked. Hehe. Guys can squeak. "I don't really control it. And of course you all want to listen to me NOW."

Can guys actually PMS?

Hold on. Odd looking guy next to possibly blind guy was really close to possibly blind guy.

"Are they…?" It would have been rude if I had said it out loud!

"No," blondie Katie (now she knows that blond is better! Mwahahahahaha!) said. "Lynn's just creepy."

Not another perv to ruin my life! AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

"Now that we have Alices, assuming Ashley has one, too, what should we do?" Amanda asked. Great job bringing the conversation back to reality.

"Practice using it," blondie said. Yay! Katie's blond. She's never going to live this down! "But keep it a secret. For now at least."

"Things are really dangerous now," Lauren added. Stop. No one told me about danger before this. "So if the time comes to do something, Kyo and I will come get you."

"Kyo?" Amanda and I asked. I swear this twin telepathy thing sucks! Don't believe the rumors!

"Yeah," Katie (apparently now Kyo) said, "I'm now Kyo, and Lauren is Luna."

"Cool! Can we get cover i.d.'s, too?" I seriously wanted to facepalm. Amanda was getting way into this.

"Later," Lauren, wait, Luna grumbled. Were they getting annoyed with us?

"We'll work on that another time," I consented, "but you are going to stay for awhile, right?"

"Uh, sure," Katie (Kyo. God!) said. We gathered around our usual spot and commenced in our usual conversation.

"Hey wait. Are you two…?" I looked over at Kyo and Sirus. What am I doing guessing stuff just using body language?!

"Yup," Luna snickered. Whoa cool! I was actually right this time.

"I'm going to just check the weather outside," Katie grumbled and left. Geez. I was just asking.

"She just keeps denying it, but we all know," Heather (er Haru) said. Sirus got up and shuffled to the door.

"I'm just going to check up on her," he murmured as he passed through the door. This whole encounter was beginning to get very weird. Well, it was only the beginning as I noticed Lynn silently inching toward the door. He winked at me (that perv!), made the signal to stay quiet, and silently sped out the door.

"… and it's been quite crazy," Luna finished. Wait. What did I miss?

"Huh?" Wow. I sound like such a blond. Maybe I can't even handle it.

"Oh," Haru looked over at me. Am I freakin' invisible or something? "We were just talking about what we've been doing since we left. Seriously, you do not want to get messed up in it."

"Lynn! You freakin' perv!" Lynn came running back through the door with an entourage of the cutesy goth couple following behind him. This was going to get ugly.

"I was just walking outside for a second! I didn't mean to sneak up on you guys!" Yeah right, perv. I jumped out of my seat and started towards to the door. Things were getting too weird.

"Leaving so soon?" Oh God. Lynn was right in front of me.

"Get out of my way." Okay he was seriously weirding me out. I had to do something! Oh, look! Knee-high converse!

"Lynn! What are you doing?!" Haru jumped up. Okay, back to reality and whoa! Back up mister! I pushed him off and wiped off my mouth. Seriously, gross.

"Bastard!" I slapped him and stomped out. How do those people deal with him?

* * *

"I'm going to try something," Amanda said. "Hold Lola for me."

I grabbed the leash and watched as Amanda took a few steps away from me. I blinked and saw a fox now standing in front of me. WTF!!!!

"You're- You're" I stammered. The fox nodded. AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! MY SISTER IS AN ANIMAL!!!!!!!!! LOOOOK!!!! CAPITAL LETTERSSSSS!!!!!!!

My brain officially hates me.

"So what's my Alice, power, whatever it is?" I asked to the fox who happened to be my sister. The fox went back to human form and scratched her head.

"In all truth, I have no idea," she replied. "Just try something."

I closed my eyes, and gave it a shot. When I opened them I was staring straight into a furry face. Oh God. No. I'M A FREAKIN' DOG!!!!

"So much for a grand surprise," I said as I turned back. "We have the same alice."

That's when everything disappeared.

"We can't just let her figure things out on her own! She's too dangerous!"

Hold on. Who are they talking about?

"Well, she's already figured out enough," the other figure said. "Someone's going to detect her, and find a way to control her for their own advantage."
Are they talking about… me? The two turned their heads to stare straight at me.

"Dangerous!"

"Evil!"

"You will be destroyed!"

"Shut up!" I grumbled. Hello. I was twisted in the covers of my bed (joy), but I was beyond wide awake. No caffeine necessary. I don't know why I decided to do this, but I tiptoed out of my house and walked to the nearest park.

"All right, Ashley," I told myself. "Turn into an animal or something again."

I closed my eyes for a few seconds and waited. When I opened them, I was still the exact same height. I looked down at my hands, exactly the same. Great. My Alice isn't working. How exactly did I do it the last time?

"Ow!" Blacked out again. Sorry guys!

"What are you doing! Get away from me! My dad's soo not going to like this!" I had to scream something to get whoever it was away from me. Apparently, it worked as my observation of my surroundings revealed to me.

"You are a talker, aren't you?" someone said. Oh look. Some professional looking guy. Go figure.

"I want you to tell me where I am and what you have done with me," I snarled. My caffeine free energy had been depleted long ago. I was purely cranky now. The pain on the back of my head wasn't helping either.

"Be quiet, Ashley." I know that voice. "You're only putting yourself in a worse situation."

Amanda walked over to me. What's going on here?!

"Amanda!" I glared at her. "What is going on here? This is the second time I woke up in a different place. I want ANSWERS!!!

She handed me a cup of Cuppy's Coffee (where did she get this?!) and sat in the chair next to mine.

"We're at the American Alice Academy now," she said. Back up! I did not sign up for any kind of private school. "You're just going to need to get used to it because you can't leave now."

"So is there a welcoming committee or something," I said. Give it a minute! Coffee takes a few minutes to dissolve my snarkiness!

"Actually, yes." Amanda smiled.

"Good morning, Ashley!" Holy crap!

A whole crowd of six students burst through the door clad in perfectly trimmed blue and black uniforms. We get uniforms?

"I am officially at a loss for words." I took another sip of my coffee. Work caffeine! WORK!!! MORE CAPITAL LETTERSSSS!!!!!!!!!

"Yeah," one of them stepped forward. "We kind of figured. Most of us don't get knocked over the head before we get sent here."

"How did you know that?" I asked. So that's why my head is so sore. Ow.

"We had to know you're entire background before we could meet you," a girl stepped forward. "By the way, I'm your roommate!"

"So this is like college, except it's high school?" I asked. Brain so confuzzled! I need more coffee!

"You could say that," the first guy said. Was that some European accent I detected? They grabbed my arms and stood me up. "Do you want to see your room?

"Uh, sure?" Really?! Answering with a question?! Is this coffee freakin' decaf? It has to be! They led me out of the room I was in and away from my sister. "By the way, what are your names?"

"I should be first to say since I am your roommate!" She is so chipper. "I'm Juliet."

"Like on Psych?" That character is awesome. Why can't she just get together with Shawn already?! Whoops. Wrong story! Back to mine!

"Sure…"

She doesn't know what that show is. This is going to be difficult to live with. I must convert her!

"And I'm Will," guy on my other side said. What accent is he using?!

"Not to be rude, but," Come on I had to ask! "Where are you really from?"

"Oh, Ireland and Scotland," he said. "I switched off with my parents then moved here when one of them finally got a green card."

OMG! OMG! OMG! Wow. I am such a sucker for Europeans. I have got to get a life. Wait. I was just handed one on a silver platter. Thank you world. I hope this isn't a dish best served cold. SOOO CHEEEESY!!!!!

"Ashley, are you ok?"

Shit! I had so been drooling and acting all crazy creeper-like while I was going through my daily existential rant. Why must you be so annoying, existentialism?!

"Huh? Oh yeah, I'm fine." No I'm NOT. Idiot!

Stop drooling. Stop drooling. At least try to look good. Why must I be such a hopeless romantic idiot?! Grrrrr.

"Well," Will said. Great, he totally thinks I'm a creeper now. "On that note, we're at your room now."

I walked inside and had to gasp. Everything was exactly how I would have wanted it if I could create my room in any way I wanted it. Well, at least it was on my side. Whoever was my roommate had a fetish for anything that had to do with the ocean. Sounds great and all, but I'm personally not a big fan of fish everywhere. It reminded me of how my bathroom used to look like when I was a ten.

"This is nice." I had to say something! My brain had very little time to come up with anything because I was too busy ogling at the Joss Whedon collage poster. Buffy and Dr. Horrible on the same poster equals epically awesome. There's no room to refute that.

"We're glad you like it," Juliet said as she plopped down on her oceanic bed. "The research time had a hard time finding out what you like. Your name is soo common."

Thank you, Juliet. It's always nice to know that there are 10,000 other Ashley Baker's on the planet.

"You all did a good job on it," I replied. "Thank you."

Oh my God! Autographed poster of The Script! Beyond awesome! Dream. Come. True.

"They also told us to make sure you saw the dvd case," Will said. I walked over to the direction he was pointing at and gasped a second time. Every nerdy film I could want plus every musical and opera I love. There has to be something wrong with this place. It is just way too good to be real life.

"Ummm, Ashley?" Juliet asked. "Are your okay?"

"What?" Shit! I was hugging the dvd case like I was having a mad love affair with it. Come on! I am such a sucker for almost anything nerd. "I just really like all the dvd's. Thank you."

"Mr. Wheaton." What? Will turned to see a teacher standing in the frame of the door. "You're late."

"I'll be there in a minute," Will said. " I just need to finish up things here."

The teacher left, but not without giving my awestruck expression a weird glance.

"I thought I was excused from that," Will muttered.

"Wheaton," I gasped. "As in evil Will Wheaton?"

Will spun back around to face me, the expression on his face unreadable.

"How do you know about that?"

"Evil Will Wheaton." Should I be scared now? "He's only like the absolutist king of Nerdfighteria. You don't really look like him at all, though."

Okay, maybe a tiny bit. Truthfully, he looked more like Angel from Buffy. Whoa. Nerd spasm!

"I think that you might be the only other person here who knows about that," he said. Should that be a downer on my end? "I'll see you all around."

"Bye," I said as he left the room. Oh my God! A non-creeper nerd! Yay!

"Evil Will Wheaton?" Juliet raised her eyebrows. "I think that could be a new nickname. I say we try to bring him down on the popularity charts with that."

"What do you mean by that?" Can someone please clear the fog in the room? I lost track of what was happening.

"Well," Juliet started, "He's about the most popular guy around here. All the girls, except me of course, fawn over him all day. It's annoying. Don't even waste your time getting to know him. That name you brought up though will be very useful in bringing him down."

"What are you planning?" I asked. "Also, why did you two act like you were all buddy-buddy when we were coming here?"

"First, you ask a lot of questions," Juliet stated. Thanks. I'm also a total stress monkey, but you won't need to know that until finals… if we even have those here. "Second, I don't like him because of how conceited he always seems to be. Third, I'm just planning a little destruction of the social system. Nothing dangerous, you know, just a little bit of fun."

What have I gotten myself into?

"Hey there, Ashley."

Whoa person. You so should not know my name. Whoever they were crept up and attack hugged me. Personal space was apparently not an issue with them.

"Who are you?" I asked, then felt stupid. There was a whole posse of people behind me and a hug war was about to commence. All of them vs. me. Eek!

"We're all in your class," attack hug girl said, "and we all just wanted to say hi!"

These people are chipper for being in such an isolated place!

"Give her some space, Mel." Wait. I just met that voice, but isn't he kind of… "She still needs to breathe, you know."

Evil Will Wheaton! Hehe. I just had to write that.

"I can fend for myself," I said. My goodness he was actually kind of tall and a little big… and kind of buff. Ahhhhh!! Concentrate!

"You're drooling again," he said nonchalantly. Again! And he noticed the first time! Major AHHHHHHH!!!!! 1… 2… 3… calm. Much better.

"You sound so cute when you say that, Will!" Three of the girls started to crowd around him. I actually kind of had to laugh at this because he soo revealed how awkward he felt around these girls. Hold on. Girls? He has a fan club?! Must figure this out!

"Hey, Will," I said with a little glance at the girls. "Could you possibly help me later on today? I don't know what my alice really is, and I could really use some help."

I jerked my head to the girls real fast in an effort to show that I was getting him out of the fanmob. Please get the hint!

"Uhh, sure," he replied. Score: Ashley-1 Freaky Fan Girls-0. Oh yes, this was going to be fun. "But, we're going to be having combat training today anyways. I'll just partner up with you then."

Works for me. I gave a snarky glare to the FFG, smiled quickly at Will, and walked into class. Did you know that we still have to get a regular education along with our Alice training? I am going to die.

"Hey, partner!" I ran up to Will happy to at least know someone in this old gym.

"Umm, hey," Will said. Something was wrong. I could just see it.

"Who is this?" Oh God. Who was she, and what was she doing practically groping Will's arm?

"It's just the new girl." New girl. Thanks for the generic introduction. How about life saver? Remember the Fan Club? "I was going to help her out today with her alice. She's not completely sure what it is yet, and I thought I could help her out."

"But you promised me yesterday that you would help me with my combat training." Was she making pouty eyes at him?! No way! "You're so good at the mental part of it."

Whoa girl! This is supposed to be a pg story! Back off!

"Sorry, Ashley," Will said. "I have to help her today. I'll work with you next week, okay?"

The look on that girl's face was priceless. I swear that I have never seen a darker glare at me in my entire life. That includes the death glare I got from my fight captain during a production of Romeo and Juliet. Creepy.

"Thanks anyway," I smiled and left to find another partner to work with.

"Hey, you." When will these voices become familiar? I turned around to see the most neon kid I've ever seen with the darkest glare I've ever seen on his face. Does that one beat snarky bitch? Still, really creepy. "You're working with me today."

He was obviously messed up and seriously freaking me out. Help!

"Okay," I stood next to him as the teachers simultaneously blew their whistles.

"Alright, everyone," one of them said. " face your opponent on the opposite side of the gym. You must start at least ten paces away from each other." She glanced over at Will and creepy bitch (who obviously shuffled two steps back). "That means you two. Now go!"

I faced my opponent (I don't even know his name), and waited to see what would happen. He simply brought his hands up and watched me as I fell to the ground.

Back up! I fell? What is this guy's alice?

"I manipulate magnetic fields if you haven't noticed," he sneered. "You're so dumb."
Dumb?! I'll tell you what's dumb! Justin Bieber is dumb! Shit. That was all in my head. I had to figure out how to use my alice, whatever it was, before I get seriously pwned.

"Aren't you going to fight back, yet?" he chided. I was so mad now. Work, alice, work! He pushed me down again with another harsh magnetic blow. Ow! "You're so weak. At least try something."

I got back up and stared him down. I could at least do that much. He just stared right back with a creepier glare. Eek! Okay, so I looked away after that, but it was a good thing.

"Weird," I muttered.

"What?" he snapped. I didn't care anymore. I saw stuff around people. Not like stuff stuff, but like auras. Blue, yellow, and green were everywhere, but the first one I latched onto was Will's. It was such an odd shade of red that I just had to focus on it for a second longer than anyone else's…

"Hey! I'm-" I snapped my head back and stared at him. He just froze. Just like that. I thought how odd it was that he just stopped and moved my head to the side a bit. He followed. Huh? I took a step forward. So did he. Hmm.

I could just slam myself on the ground, and he'll follow me, I thought.

Thud! He was on the floor and still unable to move. Holy crap! I did that! But I thought my alice was animal transformation or something like that! Human manipulation is so not my thing.

I looked up and noticed every face staring back at me. Did I do something wrong?

"I'm not finished, yet." The guy got back up again. Come on! I had to fight him agai-

Thud! That was me this time. Also, ow! This is so not fun. I had to do something to fight back again. Do what you did last time!

Each aura came up again, and I focused on the first one that looked interesting to me. Juliet's happened to be this bright shade of tropical blue that stood out from the surrounding yellow that had gathered around her. I turned back to the guy and waited for something to happen.

Problem. That thing that happened completely flooded the area where he was standing. Now I can control water?! My alice was seriously pmsing or something.

"Stop right now!" Finally. The teacher stood between the two of us before we could place another blow on each other. "I believe that we know what her alice is now."

Great. Now could you tell me? I obviously missed the orientation on this.

"It seems that we have a copy alice on our hands," she said as she pulled me aside. Like Peter Petrelli from Heroes? Cool. Wait, or am I like Sylar? Noooo!!! I don't want to kill people for their powers!! Ahhhhh!!!!! "Good job, Justin."

Did she set me up with him just to push me into finding my alice? Wonderful. I feel so loved by this school already.

"Nice job, copycat," Will said as I passed him. Snarky bitch just gave me her snarky glare. Eep! I really need to find a way to keep her from getting under my skin. Gosh I just need to…

Ok. So it had been some time since I passed out after that first combat training class thingy whatever it was. I was sort of treated like a different person, almost accepted by the posses of the school. I fit in best with the nerds, and super neon magnetic field guy (his name if Ryan) was actually pretty chill. I swear that the weirdest thing happened to me about a month after the whole crazy event.

"Will, go out with me! I'm sooo much better than Gretchen!"

WTF?

"No, go out with me. I'm an amazing cook!"

Seriously, WTF?!

I turned the corner to find a mob of teenage girls literally attacking each other for Will's attention. Ew.

Ok, maybe I should explain a few things before I continue to convey why I was annoyed with him. After the whole fainting scene, he decided to completely leave me alone (even though he promised that he would help me in combat training). What a jerk. Actually, wait. That's not the whole story. He ignored me, but he was still near me… with snarky bitch (who is apparently called Gretchen). Not that he was just with her all the time, they would seriously get their flirt on whenever they were around me. It was beyond disturbing.

Now you can see why I am majorly grossed and freaked out all at this new turn of events. I walked by with my head down in the hopes that I could get through without being dragged into the scene's gravity.

"Hey there, babe." Hand on my waist! Hand on my waist! "Can I talk to you for a sec… away from all these wonderful girls?"

Will dragged me off to a nearby hallway with a grip so tight on me I couldn't even breathe to shout at him. When we were far enough away, he placed me back on the ground (how did he lift me up in the first place?) and started to speak.

"What is going on-" I was interrupted by Will.

"I broke up with Gretchen, and now I need someone else to get her off my back. Help!" Shit. Not only did I get dragged into Will's orbit, I hit the Roche limit and became part of his planet. Why me? I'm so confuzzled! Why am I using smart astronomy terms?! Ahhhh!!!

"To get this clear, you want me to act as your rebound girlfriend so that Gretchen will leave you alone?" I asked.

"I guess that you could say that," he said. I hate him. That's it. I truly despise him.

"No."

Will took a moment to recuperate. There was no way in hell I was going to pretend to go out with him after how rude he was to me. Also, rebound girl?! That is so low. Just be alone for a little while.

"Look," Will tried again, "all I need you to do for me is look smitten with me for about a week or so. You can do whatever you want after that. I just need to get these girls away from me."

"Why don't you just use your manipulation powers to force a girl to go out with you?" I snapped. "Or do you still have enough pride to not go that low? Really, you should find someone else to do your dirty work for you."

"That's actually a good idea." Will said. Wait, oh shit! "Did you know that you're kind of clever?"

"You're not really going to-" Too late. I was already holding hands with him and walking back to the mob.

"Say anything about this, and I will make you do something much worse than this." He said. "Now play along nicely."

Did I already say that I hate him? I seriously do.

"Friday night's okay with you, right?' Will said as we neared the mob. Is there a nullification alice around here? I looked. Nothing useful. Grrrr. I had to play along.

"No," I replied. Will gave me a warning glance. Geez. I couldn't even play hard to get with him on this? "But I'm free on Saturday. How about then?"

Ow! Don't force a smile on me, Will!

"Perfect," Will gave me a smile in return. I really wanted to slap him, but, oh yeah, my hand was already forced to hold his. How adorable. "I'll come by at 7:30 then?"

"I'll be waiting," I said. Was he making me give him the flirty eyes? He freakin' choreographed this whole thing! That jerk!

"Bye, girls," Will waved to all of them before turning both of us around to leave. The only funny thing about this was that all those girls ended up looking like gaping fish. Teehee. I wasn't able to free my hand until we were near my dorm.

"I better be getting something in return for this," I said as I massaged my hand. Even without manipulating me he had a really strong grip. Ow!

"Why should I?" he asked. "I can get you to do anything for me without even asking."

He wasn't getting the point of this whole thing.

"Because I can do this." I turned around "Hey everyone, Will is-"

My mouth was immediately shut. Dammit, Will!

"Don't even try that," Will said. "Remember that I can make you do things that are much more demeaning to you."

"But you can't always control me," I shot back. He let go of me fast this time. "What if I find a nullification alice around here?"

That shut him up… which means- So there is a nullification alice around here! Yes!

"Fine," Will groaned. "What do you want?"

"You will owe me a favor for every time I feel that you are going to far with this," I said.

"No way!" Will snapped.

"Then find someone else. I'm not going to be pushed around for no reason."

"I can't find anyone else," Will grumbled. "They already think that we're going out together."

"Then it's either my way or no way," I said. "Take it or leave it."

Will stood there for a second. "Fine, but your terms of 'too far' have to be reasonable, okay?"

"Sounds fair to me," I said. This might actually be fun. "I'll see you around, sweetheart."

"Bye," Will started to walk away. "Find a better pet name for me, though. That one is way too sappy."

I just laughed and walked away. I could totally make his life a living hell now.

"Back up. You're what?!" Okay. So Juliet takes some time to catch on to all the latest gossip at the academy because this was a good couple of weeks after the initial deal. She can be slow at times.

"Well, I'm not technically dating him." I at least thought that she had the right to know.

"I thought that we were going to hang these signs all over the school, not make out with him!" She held up a poster of Will and Justin Bieber that said "The New It Couple." Hold on. Making out?!

"We are so not doing any of that," I squeaked. "Truthfully, I hate him, but I can't break up with him because he's forcing me into this!"

"He's forcing you to do this?" Juliet is really slow. Like snail slow. I explained everything to her about the potential blackmail and favors and whatnot.

"Couldn't you get him kicked out of the Academy for doing this?" Juliet asked. "He's using his alice for bad things."

"Tell me about it, but he'd still make me do something awful before he left." I'd already been through every scenario in my head. All of them either ended in being Will's personal slave for the rest of my life or me dancing in a banana suit during lunch. Either way, I'm screwed.

"Have you even done anything with him, yet?" Come on, Juliet! Get a bike or something!

"We only went on one fake date so far," I said. "Nothing happened. We just hid in an abandoned part of the old wing."

"So far?!" I need to get her tested for selective hearing. Is there even a test for that?

"We have another date tonight," I mumbled. This was going to get ugly fast.

"You're not going out with him," Juliet said. She picked up her poster and started to move to the door.

"It's either that or the banana suit." Or maybe the poster. That thing could look really bad now that I was technically the Justin Bieber part of the poster. GROSS!!!!

Knock, knock, knock!

"Hey, baby. Guess who?" I will kill him one day. Just watch me.

"Come in, sweetie." I was still rubbing the pet name thing in his face. He couldn't always shut my mouth.

Will knocked Juliet to the floor as he opened the door (thankfully the poster was crushed in the process). He'll never have to see that demeaning thing! Ahhh!!!! I'm giving him sympathy! Stop it!

"Sorry about that, Juliet. Are you ready to go?" Will jumped over Juliet, and (thankfully again) paid no notice to the poster.

"No," I glared at him. I still wanted to make things as difficult as possible for him. He was under my influence, too.

"Too bad." I was looking all cutesy girlfriend with him and walking out of the room before I could even breathe enough air to make a signature snarky remark at him.

"Don't even think about saying anything either," Will said as he closed the door on Juliet. "I can make you do much worse things than this."

Thanks for the reminder. I still hate you!

"So where are we going tonight?" My forced smile was really starting to hurt my face. Stop it, Will!

"I figured that I would surprise you," Will said. "That's what boyfriends are supposed to do, right?"

"So you're admitting to being my boyfriend?" Hey, I had to say something clever to get back at him.

"Don't get used to it." What? "You just need to be my slave for a little while longer. Then, I'll let you go."

"Slave?!" That was beyond demeaning! "I am not your slave!"

"Actually, yes," Will said. "You are, but would you feel better if I called you my mistress or indentured servant?"

"I hate you."

"No," Will stopped us in the middle of the hallway. "We're in public. You love me."

His eyes were looking directly at me. Like right straight at me. Almost like hypnosis or something. Creepy! Wait…

"Why of all people here did you pick me to be your 'indentured servant'?" I asked. Hey. I had a right to ask that.

"You'll find out one day, but you still need to act smitten for me," Will said. "Got it?"

"I still hate you," I said. I tried to glare at him, but he was still in full control of my face. Grrr!

"No, you love me. Do I have to make you say it out loud?" I will never say that! "Oh yeah, we're going outside so you might need this."

Will released me from his grip and took off his jacket. Oh no. No no no no no no NO!!!! Too late. I was nicely snug in his jacket as we walked outside in the dark, and oh my God. His jacket was awesome! Stop it! I do not like Will at all! Not even his jacket!

"You so like my jacket," Will started laughing, "and I didn't even have to force you to smile! Your walls are breaking down."

"I'm what?!" How could he see that?! "I still don't like you!"

"You didn't say 'hate' this time. I think that's an improvement."

"And you letting it slide?" Hey! I could actually move my face! Yay! Exclamation points!!!!!

"What music do you like?' That was a change of topics. Okay….

"That's a really broad question, but my favorite band is The Script," I said. Was my face still free? What does Will use to smell so good?! This jacket is just way too awesome! STOP IT!!!!

"Good."

"What do you mean by 'good'?" I asked. He should have known that I liked The Script without even asking. He saw my side of my dorm room.

"Nothing," Will replied. "We're almost here."

He opened the door to the music building, and I was seriously confused. This school had a music building?

"You can slap me or whatever now," Will said. "No one else is around here so it won't matter."

I was still way too confused, and the jacket was still consuming much of my attention. STOP IT WITH THE JACKET!!!! CAPITAL LETTERS AGAIN!!!!!

"Hmm?" Gosh. I have the attention span of a goldfish. Wake up and look at what he's doing!!!

"Ready?" For what? Oh my God. Will was up on their makeshift stage for the music students with an acoustic guitar in his hands. He wasn't really going to…

You touched these tired eyes of mine

And map my face out line by line

And somehow growing old feels fine

No way…

He wasn't really…

I listen close 'cause I'm not smart

You wrap your thoughts in works of art

And they're hanging on the walls of my heart

Dammit. I think I just fell in love with him. Was there love potion aroma on his jacket or something? Everything was absolutely perfect, and the creepy thing was that he actually kind of looked like the lead singer from the band. All he needed was an Irish accent. Snazz! He already does. Oh God. He was perfect.

I am such a hopeless romantic!!! Stop it!!

"Are you okay?" Will had been finished with the song for a few seconds and I couldn't say anything. "I'm not controlling you right now so you can say anything."

I stayed shut up for some time. Will walked up and stared at me for a sec.

"You're obviously in shock so I'm just going to put my guitar up." And he left. I was alone and still in shock. Just like he said.

He came back after a minute, and we started walking back to the main building.

"Listen," Will said, "if I did something wrong, then tell me. I didn't mean to cause you any problems. I just thought that you might like that. Sorry if I was wrong."

He forced me back into cutesy mode with him once we were back in the main building.

"You owe me one favor," I said.

"I've been doing this exact same trick with you for week!" Will said. "This is not going too far."

"It is if you don't have to force me to do it!" I shot back. Okay, now who was talking? That obviously wasn't me consciously moving my mouth.

"So you mean to say that you actually like me now?" Will started laughing. "Wow! That really worked!"

"Why are you laughing? It seems quite obvious that you like me, too. Don't act like it's nothing."

"Well," Will said. "I wouldn't necessarily-"

"You know what," I interrupted. "If you like me, then why didn't you just ask me out in the first place like a normal person?"

"But-"

"You can forget about this whole 'fake girlfriend' deal." How could he be so evil in the first place! "I don't care what you do to me as payback."

I threw his jacket at his face and stormed off. How could I have let him play me like that?! It was like I was his toy, and I didn't even care! I was so disgusting, and he was so much worse.

I slammed the door closed to my shared dorm room, grabbed the crumpled poster from Juliet's side of the room, and stapled it to the bulletin in the main hallway. He at least deserved a little bit of revenge for what he was trying to do with me.

"Hey," Juliet dropped another bucket of water on my head. I hate combat class. "Ashley. We're switching partners now. You need to go."

Great. Another piece of bologna kid who wants to pummel me for once being Will's "girlfriend". I'm seriously going to destroy their-

Oh shit. Will.

"Do you want me to go easy with you today or have you still not gotten off your high horse?" Will said. That jerk! "I'm fine with whatever you choose, but I'm still going to make it hard on you."

"Bring it."

I took my position facing him, and started scanning the people around me for potential powers. Orange, yellow, white… too weak. I needed- dark purple. Perfect. I turned my head back to look at Will and gave the power a shot.

"Nice try." Will had me pinned down before he even finished that sentence. Joy. "You chose the worst alice to deflect my power. Thanks, Justin."

"No problem!" some guy off in a corner said. How did he…

"You see," Will walked closer to me, a smug smile on his face, "I know more about your alice than you do. You should really go to the library more often. You might actually learn something."

"Let me go!" I spat.

"No."

No?! He's already won! Can't he just leave at that or does he just want to rub it in because he's such a asshole like that?

"Well," I said. "I'm not going to ask politely if that's what you want."

"Not at all." He forced me to stand up and look him in the eyes. God. Why did they have to be such amazing eyes? Stop it!

"What do you want from me then?" I asked. I didn't need him to force me to look him in the eyes. I could do it myself now.

"Give me another chance," he said. What? After all that he did. After how he treated me like I was his pet for a month. He wanted me to what?!

"You have got to be-"

"Listen, I'm sorry, okay?" Geez. What a wonderful apology (insert sarcastic tone here). But he looked so cute when he was kind of pouting and- and. Get a hold of yourself, Ashley! He's the villain here!

"I didn't mean to hurt you like that," he continued. "By the end there, I thought that there might have been something there, and it was actually starting to hurt me to control you. Actually, I stopped manipulating you after the first 'date'. You just automatically followed along with me."

I what?! Nononononono. I did nothing of the sort!

"This is taking a lot out of me for talking to you in the first place." He was still talking. And with that Irish-Scottish accent. That amazing accent… Stop it! "But could you please give me a second chance? Just as friends even?"

Okay. So I had absolutely no idea what to do.

"I-"

"Great!" Hey! I didn't even finish! "I'll meet up with you tonight at 7. I've got something great planned."

Then he ran out of the building and left me there with my mouth in full fish formation.

What have I gotten myself into again?

"What am I doing? What am I doing? WHAT AM I DOING?!!!"

Yeah. I was completely freaking out. I mean, I couldn't just slap him in the face and tell him to get a life. Wait, I could do that. But it would be so mean, and he looked so cute with what he did with his hair today and… and… No!

"You're going to go out tonight looking like that?" Juliet grabbed at my hair. "No way! I'm fixing this right now."

"You're wha-" I already had a wave of water on my face before I could finish the sentence. Fun!

"I need to do something with your hair and makeup," Juliet said. "It looked so good when you first came here, but you really let it go. Look up at me."

I looked at her. Ow! Another wave and soap was all over my hair. Then another wave, and I was clean.

"How are you going to-" Too late again. All the water was drained out of my hair, and a towel was wiping at my face.

"Let's start with your hair," Juliet my hair in a stylish flare in a matter of seconds. My gosh I looked cute already. "Now for your makeup."

Five minutes later, and I looked like the girl that walked around with girls glaring at her. Why are you doing this to me, Juliet?!

"Perfect!" Juliet pushed me out of the door. "Have fun tonight!"

Slam! Ow shit!

"Well, you seem to be in a hurry, don't you?" Thanks, Juliet. You just made me run into the one person I'm forced to hang out with tonight. You're so sweet.

"No, I uh," I stuttered. Wait. Stuttered! No way was I going to sound like a doof! "Juliet just kicked me out."

"Really?" Will started walking down the hall. "You seemed pretty eager about it."

"Well, aren't you on a high horse?" I snapped.

"Aren't you?" Will turned to look at me for a second before continuing down the hall. "You do know that you don't have to come with me, but it would be a waste of all the effort Juliet put in to make you look so nice."

Must he be like that? My footsteps followed him out of the main building and along the lighted sidewalk. Was he forcing me to do this?

"Just to let you know," Will smiled at me. "I'm not going to control you at all tonight so if you think you're walking with me against your will, you're wrong."

"How did you know I was thinking that?" Can he read minds, too?! Not fair.

"Don't tense up like that," Will said. "I can read body language fairly well, but I'm not a mind reader. I'm not a pro manipulator, yet."

"You mean that one day you could read minds if you wanted to?"

"You ask too many questions," Will smiled (how did he keep his teeth so white?).

"I do?" Dang it. He's right!

"Here." Will tossed me a gym bag. "Put these clothes on. We'll never be able to get out of here in these uniforms."

"Wait, we're-"

"Don't ask questions." Will already had his shirt off (abs!) and was changing into a t-shirt. "Just do it."

I turned around, found a bush, and changed into- my clothes from when I came here? How did he get those? Stop asking questions!

"Put your bag next to mine over here. We'll pick them up on the way back." Will pointed to a low shrub that he hid his bag under and- hold on.

"You're wearing a Captain Hammer shirt?" Okay, so he didn't look like Captain Hammer in that brown shirt, but still- Joss Whedon fan!

"I already told you to stop asking questions," Will said. "Now let's go."

We walked to the west wall and turned south until we found a loose stone.

"Everyone knows about this escape route, but they never talk about it," Will said as he opened it. "Just don't say anything, and you'll never have to deal with a personal investigation. I made that mistake with the last route."

"I still have no idea where we're going," I said. We slid through the opening and closed the chunk of wall behind us.

"We're going somewhere if that's what you want to know." Will actually looked really cute in the moonlight. No! Don't think about that!

"Lead the way o amazing tour guide," I said. Sarcasm! Good response!

We walked along an old bike path until we reached the town (a good ten minute walk). From there Will led me down a couple of streets in the old town area until we reached… no way.

"I love In 'n Out!" I squealed. I hadn't gone on a burger run in ages!

"You seemed like the California Dork to me," Will said. He opened the door, and the familiar scents filled me with such nostalgia that I almost wanted to find the nearest train station and go home.

"Are you a California Dork?" What a stupid question. He came from freakin' Europe!

"I told you no questions." Will turned to order what he wanted. "What do you want?"

"Just a plain burger with fries and a soda," I said. "I prefer to add on toppings by myself."

"Alright." Will ordered for me, paid, and found us a booth.

"You know what," I started, "I should be allowed to ask questions tonight because I have no idea who you really are."

"Fine, but they can only be about me." Will checked the receipt as the worker called out the latest number meal. "Nothing else."

"And you have to answer every question with the truth."

"Deal."

"Alright," I began, "to start off the investigation, what is your favorite TV show?"

"That's difficult, but I do like a lot of Joss Whedon." Will motioned to his shirt. "As you can see by this lovely example on me."

"Well, it looks good on you," I said. I complimented him! Ahhhhhh!!! Stupid! Stupid! STUPID!!! "Do you like any live theatre?"

Wow. I should have been born a century ago. Nobody likes live theatre nowadays except for old people and the actors who are in the shows!

"You mean like Rodgers and Hammerstein and Loerner and Lowe, right?" Holy crap. Hot guy who knows about good theatre?

"You can't be real."

"Yet here I am," Will motioned to himself. "Don't ask me about music. You already know that I like The Script. I just don't like rap, country, and screamo. They're either too sappy or have no straight melody."

This has to be impossible.

"You're gawking at me," Will gave me an awkward glance. "Are you okay?"

"I have one more need to know answer," I said. "If you're such an amazing nerd in real life, then how did you deal with your ex-girlfriend?"

"Gretchen?" Will laughed. "I didn't even like her. She pretty much threatened me to go out with her because she wanted to look like she actually had a boyfriend. I didn't realize that the fan club and stalkers was part of the package."

"So you never liked her?"

"No, no! She was a control freak and threatened to nullify my alice if I ever left her," Will said. "Good thing for me she found someone she deemed better. That and I completely freaked her out with all the video games I play."

"You're a gamer?" A hot nerd? It's so ironic it's awesome! Mine!

"Not that much," Will explained. "I just emphasized it a lot more to get Gretchen away from me."

"It sure seemed like you two were having a good time," I mumbled.

"It sure seems like I'm also a good actor then. I've never even taken an acting lesson, and I fooled you." The number on our receipt was called, and Will left for a second.

"Couldn't you be fooling me right now?" I whispered.

"You think that I'm lying right now, too?" Will returned with our food. "Look. I'm being perfectly honest. No shifty eye movements and shying away. I already told you that I would be honest with you tonight, didn't I?"

Well, he did, and he looked like he was being honest. I just hoped he was right.

"Why me?" I asked. I felt weird asking it over a burger and fries, but it was bugging me, and I felt like now was the only time I could ask.

"Why what?" He looked confused for a second. "Wait, you asked me this before, and I didn't give a straight answer. It's because you're different."

"As in…?"

"As in you weren't just a girl I could have just asked out," he explained. "Everyone else here is either completely obsessed with me or hate me, but secretly love me."

"Well that's a little arrogant," I snapped. So he liked me just because I wasn't easy? "What about Juliet?"

"She hates me because we used to be together, but we broke up. She was an absolute control freak." Whoa! Plot twist! "Listen, I'm not being arrogant here, either. You've seen the fan club."

Will shivered. The fan club was a little creepy.

"Why don't you tell them off or something?" I asked. "Or maybe they would leave if you stopped acting so Edward Cullen around them."

"I'm not Edward Cullen!" Will yelled.

"No. You're evil Will Wheaton, but you act like a Cullen. Why don't you just be yourself?"

"I can't do that…"

"You can't be yourself?" I was beginning to get confused. "All you have to do is act the same way your acting right now."

"I know, but will everyone else understand?" Will looked down at his shirt.

"So you're telling me that you care more than what other people think of you than who you really are?"

"That's not what I mean! I meant that, uh… I"

"That's exactly what you meant." I stood up and glared down at him. "You should think about figuring out who you are before you try to talk to me again."

I couldn't believe what I was doing when I walked out. Maybe it was PMS. Or maybe I respected myself enough to know that dating a fake of a guy is simply stupid.

"Ashley, wait!" Will called after me. I was already at the other end of the parking lot.

"Find another girl to be your toy!" I yelled. "I'm through with all your games."

I turned in the opposite direction of the school and started walking down the road.

Why am I doing this to myself? Am I really that stupid to just leave a guy like that? There's really nothing wrong with him. It's everyone else pushing a personality on him that's the problem. Yet, he can still fight back and do something. There has to be something holding him back, but what is it? Stop it! Just stop it! He's wrong for me. That's just it. There's no guy out there who will ever be perfect for me because I'm always too picky. There's always something wrong with them… and me. I have to go back for him! But he's still keeping things from me! What am I supposed to do?!

I walked back to the secret door in the wall, through the woods, and found the spot where the bags were. Will's was already gone.

That takes out the only chance to talk with him.

I changed back into my uniform and walked back to my dorm. I immediately fell asleep on my bed without muttering so much as a word to Juliet. Why did life have to be so hard?

"Ashley, get up!" I was practically thrown to the floor. Ow! "You won't believe what's going on outside."

I quickly put on my old glasses and stumbled out of the room. What I saw made me clean my glasses and take a second look.

"Holy crap," I gasped. Will was wearing a fedora and plastered nerdy buttons all over his backpack. The fan club had the cloned look of shock on their faces.

"Did the nerd fairy visit you last night?" one of them snickered.

"You look so ridiculous in that!"

"You have to be playing a joke, Willy. You're playing a joke on us, right?'

Will just stared at them for a second. "This isn't a joke. I believe I've made myself perfectly clear at least three times already. I'm not the stupid celibate vampire all of you always thought I was."

"I still think you're joking." Another one piped up. How stupid was this wall of girls? Will looked over at me and smiled.

"Do you need proof?" I don't know whom he was talking to when he said that.

"We just want you!" one of them yelled.

"Too bad."

He ran over to me, dragged me back in front of them, and kissed me.

…wow!

That changes everything. All the girls gave me the biggest wall of death glares I had ever received, and I smiled right back at them.

"Well this isn't fun anymore," a girl in the middle of the group said.

"Let's find someone else to stalk."

The wall of girls fell apart and left us.

"That fixes that," Will said as he looked at them leave. "Are you happy now?"

"I need some coffee to clear my mind before I can give you an honest answer," I replied.

"Let's go do that. By the way, those glasses look cute on you."

I smiled (and probably blushed like crazy). "Nice fedora."

"You don't like it?!" Will pulled it off his head.

"I love it!" I grabbed it from his hands and put it on my head. "But I think it looks better on me, don't you think?"

"You're not going to just steal my hat like that, are you?"

"That's actually a good plan." I started running. "You're gonna need to work to get it back!"

Will was probably about the coolest person I had ever met in my entire life. Granted, when I say coolest I mean nerdy cool- not asshole cool. The fan club ended up going after neon Justin kid aka the guy who almost kicked my ass in my first combat training. He eventually got rid of them too and went out with Juliet. They were a cute couple.

Snarky bitch Gretchen ended up just leaving the school. Nobody knew why, but they didn't care in the first place. It was actually a relief to not have her look at me like I was the reason for Will becoming a super nerd (which is totally awesome by me).

Nothing ever nagged me about a possible end to this, but those are always inevitable. Actually things were going great until the day they crashed.

"Hey, do you know where Will is?" I asked Justin. It was our two-year anniversary today, and I had no idea where he was.

" I haven't seen him around at all today," Justin replied. "What was weird though was that his side of the dorm was completely cleaned up. I've never seen him be that OCD. Not even before he cleans up whenever you come over."

I forgot to mention that Justin and Will are dorm buddies now. They act kind of like a married couple. Justin is a clean freak and always nags Will about his games being strewn all over the floor. It's really quite hilarious.

"Thanks," I muttered. It was so weird not knowing where he was. Maybe he was planning an extra special surprise for me today! I did see him talking to one of the teachers all secretively yesterday.

I went through the day slightly dazed and worried. Not only was I worried about Will because I just worry about him, but I also really wanted to give him his present. He had been wanting legit Dr. Horrible goggles since the movie came out. It was going to be perfect for both his anniversary present and his Halloween costume (which wasn't for some time, but I still thought that it was thoughtful). I also got him an Irish claddaugh ring. Hey, he had to get one to go with mine sooner or later.

"Surprise!" Someone grabbed me and started pulling me down the hallway.

"Rape!" I yelled. Okay. So I knew it was Will, but he hated it when I yelled that. The teachers always glared at him.

"It's not rape." Will set me down and kissed me. "I said surprise first."

"Fine," I smiled. "I'll let you win this time."

Will grabbed my hand and started leading me down another hall. His smile had disappeared.

"Listen, will you do something for me?" he asked. I was started to get a little weirded out here.

"Like what?"

"I can't explain it quite yet. Just follow me, and I'll tell you when we get there."

I tagged along behind him until we were a few hundred feet into the woods on the campus. That's when he dropped my hand and grabbed my shoulders. I already had the ring in my other hand. If I could just get him to turn around so I could give it to him.

"I can't stay here any longer." His eyes were so serious. I couldn't understand what was going on.

"Wha- why?" I stammered. Everything was going fine. Was it me?

"I've kind of become a target of some kind," he explained. "Some people started coming after me a long time ago, and I worked for them for some time until I realized what they were doing was bad. I stopped helping them when I met you and was able to evade them for some time. The problem is that I can't stay here and avoid them anymore. I have to leave now."

"I don't believe this." I had never seen him working with any shady group or something. What the hell?

"Come with me," he said. "I already packed a few bags for you. We can move to the middle of nowhere, work at a diner. It's just… I can't leave you here. I don't know if you'll be okay, and I don't know if I could live without you."

"I'll go with you." I didn't even think about it. I don't know why, but everything was so clear about what I had to do. Okay. I sound cheesy right now, but it was true. I had to leave with him.

"Good. We're going to leave through our secret door then go to the nearest train station. I should have enough money to get us out of the state. After that, we'll be on our own."

"Okay," I grabbed my bag and started to follow him through the trees.

"Don't make too much noise. We could be followed at any moment."

I nodded. We darted through the woods in absolute silence until we reached the wall.

"This is the moment of truth." Will grabbed the loose rock in the wall. "We have a fifty-fifty chance of getting through this wall alive."

"Well, good luck to the both of us." I said. Will stopped pulling for a second.

"I just want to say one thing before we go through." He turned to look back at me. "I love you, Ashley."

He kissed me and pulled my hand through the doorway.

"I love you-

-too."

Huh? I know that it was sunny outside and all, but I didn't expect it to mean that I would be back in the hallways of the school (which were for some reason stripped of every piece of paper that was usually on their walls).

Shit! I died! But I felt fine. I looked down at myself. No bullet wounds or any extensive gashes.

So what happened?

"Please ladies!" Will? "One at a time. You'll all get your turn."

Will! I ran down the hall towards his voice.

"Will!" I yelled.

Thud!

Holy crap. What happened to him? I mean, he still wore the same uniform, but his stature- everything was different. Like, sinister different.

"What do you want?" Will sneered. Holy crap! Gretchen and Juliet were practically on top of him! What the hell is going on?!
"I, uh, what's going on here?" I asked. This had to be a joke. A very bad joke that he thought would be funny on our anniversary. How cute.

"Get out of the way, geek." Will shoved me aside while Gretchen and Juliet shot me snarky glares. I'm so confused!

I ran all the way back to where my dorm was, opened the door, and plopped down on my bed.

"Huh?" I looked down at my hand. Something glittered in it.

I can't be a vampire! Besides, they only sparkle if they're gay. I'm obviously not.

Turns out it was a ring. Wait. It was the ring I never gave Will. Why didn't I just give it to him right before we left? Is this all my fault?

I sat up on my bed and looked around me. Seriously confused! My side of the room was completely bare while the other side was, well, not as conservative and cute as it used to be. What was going on around here? One glance at the clock told me everything.

Same time, same day, THREE YEARS AGO!!!!!! WTF!!!

I don't have a time alice, and what's more, I don't know anyone with a time alice. How could this have happened?! Did anyone else know? They all seemed to be acting normal. Well, normal as in nothing was wrong. My friends now considered me to be an absolute freak. AHHHH!!!

I ran out of the room and down the hall. I had to find someone who might understand. I had to find my sister.

"Amanda!!" I yelled as I banged on her door. "Let me in now!"

The door opened and oh my God. Was that marijuana growing in there?

"Never mind about letting me in there." I grabbed her out of the room. "We're going for a walk."

We walked down a few halls before we started talking.

"Have you noticed anything different around here?" I asked. What if she wasn't affected? What if she forgot about Roger? They were so cute together even though they never admitted it.

"Different?" Amanda scoffed. "This whole place has officially become hell in a matter of seconds!"

"I knew it!" I said. Now I was getting somewhere. "You traveled back, too."

"I knew something was up, but how did it happen?"

"That's what I want to know, too," I said. I wanted an explanation. Now!

"Ahhhh!!!"

Whoa! Two guys were just thrown twenty feet into a pole! Cool!

Wait. That was Katie. I mean Kyo. KYO!!!

"Oh my gosh, you guys!" I yelled as Amanda followed behind me. "Where have you all been?!"

"You guys remember us?" Heather (hold on- Haru) asked. What? They thought that we forgot about them? Why would we ever… oh yeah. Stupid time switch thingy!

"Stuff is different here now," Amanda explained. Duh! "We've been here working on our alices for three years."

"What kind of stuff?" Luna asked.

"Apparently, we'd be expelled if we told you," I said. "These new rules here suck."

"Which would suck considering our parents rejected us," Amanda chimed in. They did what?! When did this happen?! They would never do that to us!! I hate this new parallel universe place whatever it is! Life isn't fun anymore.

"Why did your family reject you?" Kyo asked. Yeah, I'd like to know that, too.

"I dunno. Maybe Amanda can give a better explanation." I glared at her. She just mirrored my image. Creepy twin thing.

"You see, most alices are here because their parents don't want them. It's probably the reason for all the bad attitudes."

Like Will's? You mean it's fixable? Yes! I can have my boyfriend back in a matter of months. I did a quick little jump in the air. Everyone stared right back at me. AWKWARD!

"That sucks."

Thanks, Kyo. I love hearing about how much you pity my now awful life. Now can I please run so that I can plot how to get Will back to normal? I don't like his perverted side at all.

"Yeah… so what classes do you guys have?" Okay. That just came right out of my mouth. Great job at running. Now I'm stalling. They handed us their schedules, and we looked over them.

"Oh, Kat-" Amanda began.

"It's Kyo," Kyo corrected.

"Kyo," Amanda began again. "You have biology with me next. I'll take you. Heath- Haru, you have math with the both of us afterward. Laur, er, Luna, sorry!"

I looked over everyone else's schedules and found some classes that matched mine. Luna sadly did not have any classes with either of us.

"Cool. Fun. School." Typical Kyo. So excited about everything (insert sarcastic glare here)!

"Um…" (what's his face?) Sirus (that's right!) said. "Point me somewhere? I don't know where the hell I'm going."

"Just follow Amanda," I grumbled. Hurry up you peoples! I need to plot!

"You and Kyo still together?" Amanda asked. I seriously facepalmed.

"What?!" Whoa. I could make a choir out of these people.

"He's mad 'cause I sent him somewhere when I died," Kyo explained. Holy crap. She died? She looks so real right now. I reached out towards her to see if my hand would go through her, but Amanda pulled me back.

"Where?' Peter, I think, asked.

"I'm pretty sure it was Canada," Sirus said. "Three days."

"Three days?" Like Kyo didn't know already? She sent him there in the first place!

"You didn't know!" Luna yelled. Thank you captain obvious.

"I freakin' died!"

Why can't I check if you're a ghost, Kyo?! Grr. This wasn't any fun to just stand here anymore.

"I was in a mental institute! Because, as they put it, 'His girlfriend was killed by people with magical powers and then she used hers to send him here'!"

Calm down blind kid. I'm sure there's a logical reason behind this.

"You were gonna die!" Kyo yelled. See, perfect explanation. Now can we get to class already?

"You did die!" he shot back. Oh snap!

"You guys cannot break up!" Luna pleaded. "Kyo, you're sorry, right?"

"I'm sorry for what he went through," Kyo began, "but I won't apologize for sending you away. I would not let you die just because I did."

And the tension builds up.

"Okay!" Ahhhhh!!! Perverted dude! Why didn't I see him earlier?! "Let's chill out here."

Wait. I did see his schedule, and it was EXACTLY LIKE MINE!!! NOOOOO!!!!

"We have to get to class," Sirus snarled. Just back away slowly and maybe everyone will be safe.

I ran in the opposite direction of most of them as I left for my class, U.S. history with the worst teacher imaginable. Why must I relive this horrible first year?!

I sat in the second to last row right behind Will. I could at least keep an eye on him as the teacher lectured. I could also have a perfect view of him totally flirting with Gretchen and Juliet. It was almost like watching a porno history class style. They turned everything into a raunchy joke! I could barely watch.

Halfway through the period, I stood up and left using some lame excuse like the bathroom or something to get out. I just couldn't watch him act like that. Not after what I had been through with him. Will still looked like Will to me, but it was like someone else's brain was stuffed in there instead.

When the bell rang, I slowly walked to my next class. He was in there, too, and I knew that I would probably be subjected to the same torture as before. Sure enough, he was there… with Gretchen and Juliet again. I aimed to get a spot in the front of the room which was, surprisingly, empty.

It was still useless. I could literally sense the three of them going all raunchy a few rows behind me. I didn't even need to see it to know what was going on! Gross!

This whole fiasco went on for the next few days. It didn't matter where I sat in the room of each class. I could always sense them doing something, well, raunchy, and it seriously disturbed me.

Everything I had before was taken away from me.

During lunch on the third day in this "new" life, I decided to just sit outside on a bench and not eat anything. Depression has a tendency to destroy one's appetite and social abilities. I couldn't even deal with my long lost friends and their new crew at a time like this.

"I hate this," I muttered to myself.

"Hate what?"

That couldn't be…

"Get away creeper!" I jumped behind the bench and glared at him. How long had he been sitting next to me?

"Oh, wait, I know," Lynn the creepy creeper said in his sing-song voice. "You hate how Will acts like such playboy, don't you?"

What? How could he have figured that out? I slowly stood up.

"How would you know anything about that?" I glared at him.

"Come on! It's completely obvious. You can't stop staring at him when he's in front of you, and you always wince whenever you hear them do something. You're easier to read than a kid's picture book."

Thanks, Lynn. I totally needed to know that I was looking like an obviously lost puppy in ALL OF MY CLASSES!

"And how could you be so sure of that?" I still kept my glare on him as I sat down on the bench again.

Lynn shifted uncomfortably and blinked a few times. "I, uh, yeah…. Umm."

"You have been staring at me the entire time?!" I squeaked. Wow. I must have been really out of it to not notice a pervert staring at me.

"Well, you see," Lynn stammered, "I kind of… yes. Okay! I was staring at you."

You know what, Lynn actually looked somewhat less pervy when he acted shameful.

"Go away," I commanded as I pointed to the main building. Lynn stood up, head still down, and started walking away.

"Can I say something?" Lynn stopped. Great. What? "You look cute when you smile. Maybe people won't think of you as weird if you did that."

"Go away," I said again and commenced in ignoring him.

I hate this new place. Everyone is either a creeper and hates me or a stalker and understands me. Shit! No he does not get any of this! He probably doesn't even remember anything from the time change. Ugh. Why me?

"Lynn, dear," someone cooed, "I haven't seen you all day!"

Who the hell was that?! I looked up to see Luna walking over. Luna? She's supposed to be with Ryo! What's happening to this place?!

"Hey, Luna," Lynn looked up just in time to see Luna tackle-hug him. I bet he liked that.

"Were you just talking with Ashley? That's so sweet of you! You're just too cute, you know?"

I slowly inched away from the bench as Luna quite obviously tried to smother Lynn with her crazy flirtatiousness. It was awkward, and I didn't want to be witness to yet another porno show on campus.

I trodded back to my dorm room and almost opened the door. When I say almost, I mean that there was a tie on the door. Anyone above the age of 14 would know what that meant. I backed away slowly and went to the library. Maybe I could finally be at peace there…

No such luck. Apparently, libraries are just as loud and crazy as the nearest club. Eventually, I found a somewhat quieter corner and stayed as still as I could.

Maybe if I pretend that everything is all right, if nothing really happened, I could bring everything back to normal. Maybe I will be outside again with Will blissfully on our way to who knows where. Maybe I could give him the ring I got him. Maybe we could…

"What are you, a freaking bear? Wake up!"

I'm up! Whoa. It's quiet in here. And dark. Who was it that-

Lynn. Of course. Grrr.

"Oh my gosh!" I screeched. "Get away from me before I yell rape! Do your handlers know where you are?"

"What do you mean by handlers?" he asked. I didn't respond until he took a few steps away from me.

"You're friends, duh."

"They're your friends, too, you know." He smiled. Did he seriously want to get slapped?

"Why do I see you more than them around here, then?" I asked.

He frowned for a second. "Maybe we should get you back to your room…"

I stood up and walked past him. "I'll walk by myself, thank you."

"Bye, Ashley."

I walked down the hall towards my dorm. Luckily, the tie was gone from the door so I went right in.

"Hey, Ashley," Juliet looked up from her bed. Oh my gosh! It was 3 o'clock in the morning! "Could you be quiet? We're trying to sleep here."

We? Oh no. Yup. Will was next to her. How are they getting away with this? Ew. I just didn't even want to think about what was going on. I went to sleep in my bed feeling extremely uncomfortable. This was so awkward!

I stepped into class as usual and took a seat in the middle of the class. Unluckily, Will and friends sat immediately behind me. It's like they know it bugs me so much! Plus, much to my nonenjoyment, Lynn sat right next to me.

"I hope you studied for the test today," he said. There was a test today?

"I thought that we never had tests in any of our classes."

"I'm just joking," Lynn smiled. "You need to lighten up a little."

I turned away from him and turned red. I am way too gullible!

As usual, the incest that was Will and friends began again and lasted throughout the period. I decided that today I would yell at them. Today I would make them shut up for once!

"You-"

Why is Lynn staring at me? Also, why am I falling out of my chair? Oh yeah, shock. Shock to catch Lynn in the act of giving me the up-down. Eww! Slap! I hope that gave him a shock attack for looking at me like that! Just because I am not 100% doesn't mean that I will ever be his toy! I jumped up, turned away from him, and stormed out of the room.

I hate everything about this place! Why can't it all just stop! Why can't I just forget about everything? No. That would be worse. That would mean three years of me gone. Three years of-

Who just sat next to me? I turned my head to see… Lynn. Why can't he just leave me alone?! I stood up to leave, but he grabbed my arm and pulled me back down. You do know that that does hurt, don't you?

"Listen, I'm sorry for how I've been acting around you."

Hello suddenly serious version of Lynn.

"Why do you keep stalking me in the first place?" I asked. It was starting to get beyond creepy.

"Because I can tell that you're in love with Will, but you're not in love with the version that is currently here."

Holy crap. I can't be that easy to read. "How would you know anything about that?"

"I can see it in your eyes," he explained. "You look at him like your trying to see that remnant of something else in him, but it's not there. I know that you think that I probably wouldn't understand a thing like that, but I'll just leave that up to you. See you around."

Lynn stood up, winked at me (that perv!), and left. I was so confused! AHHHH!!! Mixed signals are not helping me!

I walked into class again the next day fully expecting the porno show behind me and fully expecting myself to lash out at them.

"Will, you're too cute," Gretchen cooed behind me. Ick.

"Well, I think he's cuter," Juliet cooed over her. Seriously, gross!

"Girls calm down," Will's voice sounded slightly different. "I'm cute, and there's plenty of me to share, okay?"

Oh. My. God.

"WILL YOU ALL JUST SHUT UP?!!!" I yelled. Hey, after all the treatment I had to deal with, I deserved to tell them off.

"Leave if you don't like it," Will stood up to glare down at me.

"This is a classroom, not a brothel," I glared right back. Will's glare flitted to something more familiar for a second then went back to snarky.

"Under whose authority is this a classroom?" he asked.

"Under the door's authority," I shot back. "It says classroom 314. It's a classroom."

"That door of yours says that this is a classroom," Will's glare was starting to scare me, "but I say that this is a free for all zone. The teacher doesn't even do anything in the first place. If you don't like it, leave."

I left. I just couldn't deal with looking at him act like that anymore. I didn't even care if Lynn probably stared at me the entire time. Nothing really seemed to matter that much.

I felt cold and independent. I could stick up for myself.

"Kyo, Haru, Luna, Ty, Teito, Lynn, Shizuo, Sirus, and Peter- please report to the vice principal's office immediately!"

Whoa dang! What did they do this time? And on the first week that they're here? This is not looking good for them…

I grabbed Amanda and dragged her into a quiet hallway.

"Do you know what's going on with them?" I asked.

"No, but that announcement was weird…"

"I know. They're doing worse than us, and we've been wanting to get out of this hell longer."

"Something is up, and I want to figure it out."

"Me, too," I said. They weren't going to last here with theses new rules much longer.

We went through the next couple of days as normal goody students (turns out normal normal students like to use drugs and disrupt every class they can). The weird thing, though, was that all of our friends were gone. The crazier thing was that the names of our missing people were the same names as the ones that were announced on the intercom a few days earlier.

Weird.

Oh, yeah, Will also got a new beau. Her name is Bethany, and I'm pretty that she is the only person who beats my obsession with the color pink. Seriously, it's like someone just barfed pink all over her, and she didn't care to clean it off.

The weirdest thing of all out of these past few days, though, was Justin. I originally thought that maybe he just didn't go to this school anymore or something, but I was wrong. Turns out that he's now the little emo kid who sits in the corner acting dark. I didn't realize this until I tripped over him one day.

What should I do about sleeping tonight? I'm pretty sure that it's going to be another crazy night on the other side of the room, and I don't want to be witness to-

"Ow! What the- oh my god."

That's when I saw Justin for time. When I say emo, I mean black hair covering his eyes, black clothes, guyliner, and combat boots. He was the complete package. I missed his bleach blonde hair and neon jackets! I want old Justin back! Stupid parallel universe place!

Justin just gave me probably the scariest look I had ever seen from him.

"Go away," he hissed. I immediately ran. That threw my last chance of finding an old friend intact out the window. It's true. I'm completely alone now. Insert fake upbeat saying here because I seriously can't think of any.

"We're leaving."

Okay. First, my arm is still in pain. Amanda has an incredibly strong grip. Second, what?

"Leaving to where?" I asked.

"We're going after our friends, duh," Amanda said.

"But we have no leads."

Amanda pointed to her nose. "It's simple. I can transform into a fast animal with a good sense of smell. We could actually take turns since you can copy my alice. All we have to do is find a scent to follow."

"And where might we go about finding this scent?" I asked.

"We'll start at the gate," Amanda explained. "Hopefully, we'll find something there that will give us a scent to follow."

I thought about it for a second. It was going to be difficult to bypass security if it was as tough as what it used to be. Then, we'd have to deal with finding food and shelter while we were out on the road. The biggest problem, though, would be losing the scent completely and getting lost. The odds were obviously against us, but the risk was worth taking. I hated this school with a burning passion now.

"I'm in."

"So how exactly is this plan supposed to work?"

Amanda was down on her knees at the front entrance of the main building sniffing the floor. Gross.

"I'm checking to see if the coast is clear," Amanda said. "Once I'm sure, we both need to turn into mice, go to the front gate for the scent, and then turn into small so that we can fly over the gate. Did you know that security sucks here now?"

It sounded okay, but I didn't want to take any chances.

"I have a better idea for our escape. I know of a secret door in one of the walls. We could use that instead."

Why did I just mention that? I didn't even know if that door was still there!

"Wouldn't that just mean more work?"

Good point. Thank you for saving me from nostalgia!

"Touché. We'll go your way."

So that's how we went. The security was crap, and we were able to bypass it without a single alarm going off (really?). Turns out, though, that since we were traveling like animals, we had to literally be animals the entire time. I'm not just talking running around as cute cats or something. I'm talking hunting, eating, and sleeping.

It was so weird! How did Amanda ever cope with these animal emotions before?! I hated looking at the cute rabbits and thinking "Yum! Dinner!"

It was so nasty!

"I think we finally caught up to them," Amanda whispered to me from the next bush over. I barely even cared to listen to her chirping. Being a bird made me very hypersensitive. It definitely wasn't my favorite form.

I didn't see them anywhere, but I could sense a sort of apprehensiveness and anger in the air, most likely Kyo.

"Okay, everyone behind me and Peter!" Hello blonde guy. Mikage! OMG!!! We finally found our crew!

"Kyo! Luna! Everybody!" Amanda and I chorused as we jumped out of the bushes in human form (glad to no longer be a bird. Feathers don't suit my body type).

"We're here! Did you think we'd just let you go?" Hey, I was practically on cloud 9 here. Living off of nature food tends to get gross fast.

"Course not!" Amanda was practically climbing over me to see them. "We've been following you forever! You guys are fast!"

"And my alice could only do so much to keep up with this one." Hey, mine took twice as much energy as hers.

"I was your horse for miles!"

"A slow one."

Luna was between us before Amanda could shoot another attack my way.

"Okay. You guys need to stay here," Kyo said. As in right here for now or… leave them forever?

"No way!" Miles of running through forest and being under constant guard of being captured, and this is the thanks that we get? Who did they think they were? Gods?

"We didn't follow you out here for nothing!" Thanks Amanda for voicing my thoughts.

"Look guys," Kyo put her hands up in the air flustered.

"Do you think you can handle constantly having your life be at risk? Constantly?" Haru asked. What do you think we had been doing for the who know how long?! Why do they think they're the only one who are being attacked all the time? It's like they all believe that they are the only force that's keeping the alices of the world safe. If they are, then they are certainly not doing their job because we had to fend for ourselves to find them.

"We wouldn't be here if we wouldn't." Amanda seemed to be much calmer than me right now. That's weird.

"Then fine," Haru said. "You've been warned."

Who said I needed a warning? They must really think that my alice sucks when I could easily use any of their powers against them at this very moment.

"I have to go to the bathroom. Come with?" Luna grabbed Kyo's arm and dragged her off to the bathroom. Curious. I could tell that Kyo was obviously unhappy with the new circumstances, but Luna was harder to read. Hmm… What if I used an alice here to find out what was up with them?

I looked around at the alices. Amanda's was the usual familiar deep blue. I was already used to hers. Boring. Sirus's was passive. No point there. Lynn's was yellow and interesting to me. Odd since he acted like such and understanding idiot on the outside, but the alice seemed to be useful for my task. I thought of the color and was immediately teleported to a stall in the girl's bathroom.

"Dammit! This sucks!"

I walked out to find myself immediately behind her.

"What sucks?"

"How'd you- there?" Kyo stammered. Are they all the stupid to not even remember my alice? I'm pretty sure that it's one worth noting.

"I have the copycat alice so I copied Lynn's alice, duh."

"Don't… do… that!" I plan on doing that a lot now. Just for you, Kyo.

"Soo what sucks?" I turned back to my bubbly side.

"Don't worry about it." Fine. Be that way. It's not like you didn't travel all this way just to receive a very cold welcome by the people you thought were quite possibly dead. No. You just want to remain in your blissful bubble without the interruption of any noobs. I feel so loved.

I followed her back to the rest of the group where Peter handed me an alice stone that made my hair, wow, a full six inches longer. I am totally unrecognizable now. Not.

"What names do you want?" Haru asked. New names? But…

"Hey, Ashley! You look great today for some reason. Did you have a Buffy marathon without me?"

…Will.

"Robyn." Amanda said.

Well, if it was for my new guise. "Reinie."

"No!" Katie jumped in. "They should not be dragged into our issues! They have no experience doing HALF the shit we do! They will die!"

I so wanted to voice my opinion on this matter but-

"I agree." Curse you Luna. "This won't go well. At all."

"Well, you should have done something earlier rather than going into the bathroom and complaining."

Exactly, Mikage! I knew there was a reason why I thought you were kind of cool.

Punch! Kyo, Mikage didn't deserve that.

"Shut up!" She yelled. "You have NO idea what's going on here!"

"Yeah!" Luna backed her up. "For once, I'm glad she punched you!"

How could they go on like this? They had no idea what was going on with me and all the shit I had been through. My life had literally become my own personal torture since…

"Get out of the way, geek."

"Hey! You both have been pretty pissy lately! No need to take it out on the first person who speaks!"

Thanks, Haru. I think you just made it worse.

"Mikage," Peter tried to calm down the situation, "Why don't you take the others through, and we'll meet you over there. Find the earliest flight to New York."

I followed behind Mikage, but apparently, I wasn't fast enough.

"Frak this shit!" Frak you, Kyo. You're not the only victim here.

"So what's up with the angry duo back there?" I asked Mikage.

"How should I know?" Mikage stared straight ahead. "They've been keeping to themselves a lot lately, and Kyo doesn't like me all that much in the first place. Sirus might have a better idea."

Wonderful. Sirus was already way behind us. No answers soon.

We passed security without so much as a second glance even though I knew that I obviously looked like nature's ass. Weeks out on the road has been proven to cause uncleanliness.

The others soon met up with us, obviously still flustered.

"This was the earliest?" Kyo scoffed. The world can't revolve around you.

"Yes. Deal with it." Haru retorted.

"Look, none of us have slept in a few days. We're probably all fairly grouchy here." I'm sure you are miss I-don't-give-a-shit-about-my-not-as-close-friends. Go take a wonderful little catnap. I could see a fight brewing as Haru glared at Kyo. Kick Kyo's ass! Mwahahaha!

"Okay," Luna broke the energy, "I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to find a coffee shop."

"I'm gonna stay here," Kyo yawned, "and try to get some sleep…"

Yep. She was out fast and good riddance. She should seriously consider a leash if she acts like this all the time. Fewer people would get hurt.

I followed the group as they walked to the coffee shop, but drifted to the back and slowly ran off. Quiet place! Must find a quiet place!

Hold on. Why was I doing this? I was standing in front of the sink of the girl's bathroom crying… and it felt nice. It was the first real emotion I had felt since, well.

"I love you, Ashley."

"I love you- too."

Why did everything have to fall apart then? I should be working at a greasy spoon in the middle of nowhere not catching the next flight to New York. Whoever caused this is going to pay. Big time.

I sat next to the sink with my face in my hands for a little while longer. The emotion tore at me so much, but it felt good to actually physically show it after weeks of pretending to be fine in front of Amanda. Slowly, I stood up and walked out the door.

"Medium vanilla latte with a little cinnamon on top," Lynn placed the coffee in front of my face. It smelled so good, but I usually didn't get my lattes with cinnamon.

"You wanted to trigger my hormones!" I yelled at him. Anyone with a basic knowledge of spices would know that cinnamon triggers hormones that make a person feel like they're in love. No way was he pulling that on me! "I refuse to drink that!"

Lynn just stood there in shock for about ten seconds. Maybe he didn't know about the whole cinnamon thing…

"Sorry," I apologized and took the cup. "I know how much of a pervert you are, and I thought that you would probably try to pull a trick like that on me. But you have your hookers so I shouldn't be worried. Thanks for the coffee."

I walked away and took a sip. Mmm… real sustenance.

I soon caught up with the rest of group at the gate. Lynn was already there (stupid teleportation alices), and Kyo obviously looked distraught. Maybe someone knocked some sense into her about her rather cold welcome. Good.

"Mikage, Peter, time to convince the guard that we have boarding passes."

So that's why we didn't buy tickets. Great.

The airplane was tiny and cramped. I managed to snag a window seat in the hopes of maybe getting some privacy and sleep. Somehow, I ended up with Sirus sitting next to me and Lynn immediately behind me. Weird how I was suddenly surrounded by twins.

The plane soon lifted off, and I was on my way to blissful sleep.

"I think we're safe for now, Ashley. You should probably change clothes, though. We could still be followed."

I put on a fresh Buffy shirt and a new pair of shorts then discarded my previous outfit. Will turned around in a button-up shirt and jeans. I didn't care that his hair looked a little ragged after a day of being on the run. He looked perfect to me.

"Have your id ready," Will grasped my hand. "They're going to ask for it again before we get on the bus."

I took it out and looked at it.

Name: Faith Charles

Age: 20

Hair: Brown

Eyes: Blue

License Issued By: San Francisco DMV

I liked having this hidden identity, but my hair was obviously not- oh look. It is brown. I wonder when I did that.

"Reinie."

Shut up. I'm trying to catch a bus-

"The plane just landed."

Plane? Oh, that's right. I got carried away in dreamland and have now come back to awful reality. I'm awake now!

Ahh! Lynn and Sirus double stare at me! Creepy!

"You know, I think this was the first time you actually had a real smile on your face," Lynn commented. Stupid pervert! Stop looking at me!

I immediately slapped him and commenced in exiting the plane with the rest of the gang. I just want to be left alone for once! Why can't one thing go right for me?

"Come on! I want flaffles!" Hello hyper Luna.

"Plenty of people here," I commented. "It shouldn't be to hard to blend in."

"That's the idea," Kyo said. I so badly wanted to shoot a glare at her, but my self-control decided to kick in. Now I had to be normal Reinie to not hint at my newfound coldness towards them! Yay!

"However, we can't be careless," Haru said. Weeks in the wilderness taught me that. I don't need a lesson on the subject.

"We should split up sometimes," Mikage added.

"That's actually not a bad idea," Kyo said. "We'd be less suspicious that way."

"Alright," Peter jumped in. "How about we pick a meeting place, and are only all together sometimes.'

"Makes sense." Luna followed his lead.

"What do we do if we're attacked?" Robyn, we were taught combat, remember?

"Fight," Kyo said. "That's pretty much all we ever do."

"Robyn and I are fairly good with our alices." Play up the power role and, "but we should always be with at least one of you guys I think."

I have complete confidence in my alice, but I knew nothing about New York! I couldn't admit that I get lost easily! Plus, I totally just played a morally good person card. The Brownie points are mine!

"I agree," Haru said. Ten Brownie points to Reinie! "You may know how to use your alices in training and whatever else they had you doing, but real combat is different."

I could so easily kill her for undermining my training like that. I can so easily-

Huh? Sirus's hand was on my shoulder, and though I couldn't see his eyes, I could tell that he was warning me about my attitude. Fine. I'll calm down for the sake of the group.

"I can go with them," Luna appeared at the front of the group. Was she trying to make up for her welcoming attitude? "Work on training them and whatnot. Kyo should come, too."

Sirus elbowed me this time. That blind guy had good aim! I coughed to hide my reaction to the pain.

"Okay." No, Kyo! "Haru, can you find someplace to stay? Some place- smaller than last time?"

"Small?" Mikage asked. "But we won't all be together."

We were going to all share the same room?

"That might not be a bad idea," Teito commented. "If we are attacked, then there are others on the outside who can help rather than us all being captured together."

"Makes sense. So me, Haru, and who else will come look for a place to stay?" Mikage looked at the rest of the group. Lynn! Take the creeper!

"I'll go." Dammit! Ty, you're not Lynn!

"I'll stick with Luna and the others." Not Lynn. Good.

"Me, too," Sirus said. Fine by me.

"We'll meet back here in an hour."

I'm stuck with Lynn? Joy.

"Let's go to Central Park," Kyo suggested. "There's lots of wide open spaces there, and sometimes it's not that crowded."

"Okay," Luna agreed. "We can work with them there."

And so off the alice parade goes.

"Work on what exactly?" Amanda, the clueless act is really getting old now.

"Combat." Peter looked back at her.

"I learned a lot of stuff in Navy training." That won't help much here. "And we learned a lot of stuff at the academy."

Yes, we did.

"What kind of stuff?" Kyo asked.

"Well, we got together with a partner and took turns using our alices and blocking them a lot…"

"That won't work," Sirus said. "Real combat isn't like that. It's bloody, and you don't take turns."

Coming from the person who never went through a combat class, he seemed pretty cocky. The whole idea of combat training was to find your strengths and weaknesses through practice so that you could be ready for real combat.

"And you hardly ever know what alice or weapon the other person has."

But I can see their alices. Yours is dark purple because you're always in a bad mood. I don't even know if I want to trust it right now.

"Okay, so how do we learn?" Don't give in Robyn! We're strong already!

"Nothing teaches like experience." Peter led us to a clearing. "But until then, we'll just have to attack you."

And then I was on my back. I knew I couldn't trust you, Kyo!

"If you want to stay, you need to protect yourself."

"All I really have to do is copy your alice and throw it back at you." I glared back at her. She was not going to defeat me that easily.

"No." Luna stood in front of me. " You do that, you will pass out from exhaustion or even die. Didn't they teach you any of this stuff?"

I looked back at Amanda. I hope she would remember my first combat class.

"So alices have limits, too?" Apparently she did not.

"Wow," Teito rolled his eyes. She was an animal for weeks just to meet up with you guys, and it hurt her cognition some. Get over it. "Okay then. Yes, alices have limitations. Depending on what type of alice you are, the limitations vary. For example, passive alices, like Sirus's and Luna's, can be used a lot without getting too tired. Now, other alices like- the rest of us- we have active alices. There is only a certain amount of time we can use them before we wear out. Most of us can go about two hours without getting tired, but things are different for all alices. For example, Kyo would get tired before I would, because her alice is continuous. I use my alice in short bursts. It's all pretty complicated, but you'll get the hang of it."

I zoned out about halfway through the lecture. I had already trained myself to withstand long periods of time using my alice. I didn't even break a sweat on the way over.

"All right then. Let's see what they got." Ryo gave a cue, and off we went.

Kyo pushed Robyn back into me. Dude, that's my sister you're throwing at me. At least be a little nice about it.

"Seems a little mean." Lynn… "They're beginners."

Beginner? Please.

"They won't be treated like beginners in a fight," Peter said. "They'll be killed the same way as any of us."

Screw this. I'm mad. Let's see alice, alice, alice. Kyo and Lynn combo pack looked like it could get the message across. I threw Peter and Teito off in one direction, teleported to Lynn, and kicked him in the face. Perfect run.

"Nice," Kyo said. I would prefer awesome. "Robyn, your turn."

Amanda was levitated, turned into a bird, and slipped into the trees. Just like my sis to do that. Wait for it… surprise pin down attack! She can so pwn when she wants to.

"Fine." Kyo got up and brushed herself off. "That's good for now."

"Time to go! Haru's going to be back at the meeting place in ten minutes." Luna started twirling off.

"GLOMP TIME!!" Lynn ran over and followed. I facepalmed. Please explain how he could read me so easily, yet he acts like such an idiot.

"We found a motel a few miles from here, and it wasn't easy to find," Haru explained. "The clerk is a sexist pig, and the neighbors seem to be either quiet or dead. Good enough?"

That's like the royal palace compared to where I've been sleeping for the past who knows how long! Show me the place!

"Then," she continued, "we have three rooms. Two have three queen beds, one has two. How do you guys wanna split up?"

"The girls in the two bedroom." Peter took the lead. "The rest of us will just divide the others. Sorry, Haru. You'd be a boy in this."

"Why do you do this to me?" Haru squeaked.

Luna came up next to her. "It's okay. It's not like you're there the whole time. Only to sleep."

"Fine," Haru stomped her foot. "I wanna be a girl, dammit."

"Well, I'm sure Narumi would be happy to change you back if and when he finds us," Kyo said. Who's Narumi?

"He's not going to be happy," Teito grumbled. Wow. I haven't heard him say much.

"This is all hypothetical," Kyo began. "I'm not sure he even wants to find us anymore. I mean, if we pissed him off enough, do you think he'd just give up?"

"It's possible, I guess," Ryo commented.

"We still shouldn't assume that," Luna jumped back in harshly. Look who's being logical. "We have done that too much lately. There are people looking for us, and at some point, they will find us."

"That's optimistic," I was supposed to be the one with the fatalist attitude in this part of the story! Don't steal my tone!

"Okay," Haru stepped between the two of us. "Let's go before we start fighting- again."

We walked to the motel passing through narrow dark alleys in the process (ew).

"Do we spend a lot of time in crappy motels?" Seems that Robyn wanted something a little nicer after what we had been through. I don't blame her.

"No, just for now." Kyo started walking up the stairs.

"Which one is our room?" Luna asked.

"I call the bed by the window." Kyo jumped over the rest of us and levitated to it.

"Fine," I snorted. I wanted the bed by the window! "Safer for the rest of us."

"So, what are we doing? Just running?" Stop asking questions Robyn!

"For now, yes, but usually we are battling to the death for causes we don't always agree with, so this is nice," Luna explained. Woo. Adventures. I looked at Robyn to see her reaction, but couldn't see her face from my position. This was boring.

"Can we practice our alices some more?" I asked. I felt like training would maybe lighten up my mood.

"Sure, why not." Kyo led the way out the door.

When we got outside to an abandoned parking lot behind the motel, it was dark outside with only a few lights. It sort of reminded me of dark combat training when the academy was still cool.

"Okay," Kyo clapped her hands for attention. "Here's the drill. We're gonna attack you, you use strictly defensive tactics."

Not fair!

"How's that fair?" Thanks for reading my mind Robyn.

"Isn't," Luna glared back at her. "That's why we're doing it."

"Fine." I could do this. "Go."

The two disappeared into the darkness. Stay alert, listen for- oof! Luna had knocked my legs out from under me, and I was on the ground. I stayed there for a second as I watched Robyn transform into a bat then get knocked back down by Kyo.

Take two.

I jumped back up and, using Kyo's alice, knocked the two of them into a nearby tree. That should show my strength.

"Nice," Kyo said. Please, use a different adjective. I'm not nice anymore. "Now, Reinie, how are you feeling?"

What are you talking about? I feel…

Nice job, copycat.

Whoa. That's not right. My hand was on my forehead in an attempt to keep me from fainting. I was supposed to be well beyond this initial stage with my training.

"I'm fine, just a small head rush." Lame excuse! "All good."

"Your alice drains you quickly." No shit, Sherlock. I lost all my stamina I had gained from my training! I was stuck in my body from three years ago! Ahhhh!! "You need to be careful when you use it, for how long, and for how much. For example, it's easier for you to use it for your own personal gain than for combat because of your stress level."

"They're superpowers! Why do they have to be so damn hard?!" I feel your pain, sis.

"Sorry, but they're not like that. Be great if they were, but they aren't." Stop it with the kiddy lectures, Kyo! I'm not stupid.

"Hey guys," Peter came from around the corner. "You're four girls stuck in a dangerous town at night. Probably shouldn't be out here right now."

There's four of us. Four powerful girls against a gang of…

Head rush again. I needed sleep- or coffee.

"Good point," Luna said. "But they should learn defenses in the dark."

"It's five o'clock somewhere," Kyo scoffed. "We'll be fine."

I really wasn't feeling the training vibe anymore. "I don't know. I think I want a break… at least until morning."

Was that my voice? This was getting worse than when I first started. I needed to rest, now.

Kyo walked over to me. "Yeah, there are some new things you should know."

We walked back into the room (I more or less stumbled), and ended up sitting on the bed.

"Why am I so tired now? I didn't even really use my alice…" Did I just say that out loud?

"Because it looks like you suffer the effects of your alice after you use it," Luna explained. Shit, I did. "You really need to be careful in combat. You may use your alice to keep you alive as much as necessary, but after… you're out."

Lovely.

"This really sucks," I grumbled. Something wasn't clicking with me, though. "Can I last longer after training? I mean, when we were following you guys, I could go for at least two hours."

"It sounds like it's tied to your stress level," Kyo explained. "So you should be able to last longer after training, but not for your alice."

"Fine," I mumbled as I fell back onto the bed. "Let's work more on this tomorrow… I'm tired."

I turned out the light, got under the covers, and immediately fell asleep.

"So what do we do now that we're in the middle of nowhere?" I asked. It was literally nowhere. Prairie covered the entire place.

"We still have some food from the gas station, right?" Will looked over at the bag slung over my shoulder. I checked it, and sure enough, there was enough junk food to last another two days. I looked back up at Will for his answer.

"Let's have a picnic in the middle of nowhere," he smiled. We both walked deep into the field before us until we found a comfortable spot to sit. I pulled some soda and chips out of the bag for us to munch on.

"Do you think we're far enough into nowhere to be safe?" I asked. Will chewed on a chip for a second and looked up at the sky. I saw something glint in the grass for a second then noticed that it was actually on Will's hand. The ring I gave him on the day we escaped was still as shiny as it was when I got it.

"Truthfully, I don't think I want to settle quite yet," Will replied. This was so turning into a Twitard moment. The field, the sun, the (not in Twilight's case) awesome guy. Yet, everything was different because we could be together without the whole stupid "I'm too dangerous for you" attitude. Seriously, that was weak.

"Okay." I leaned my head on his shoulder. "We'll keep running."

I didn't care either way. The entire adventure had been so far, and I didn't want to lose a minute more of it.

"I think we should go to-"

"Stop!" Kyo screamed. I sat bolt upright in my bed. That was a great dream! I also totally realized that I still had the ring in my pocket. Wow.

"What?" Robyn shouted. She apparently heard, too, and was sitting up in her bed. I ran over as Kyo backed up to the nearest wall and fell to the floor. Oh my gosh.

"She's shaking," I said. This was bad.

"Nightmares?" Luna asked from behind me.

Kyo nodded her head. "I-I'm gonna sit outside. Need the air."

I moved out of the way as Kyo ran out of the room. She was acting really weird… and really freaked out. I tiptoed over to the door and kept an eye on her through the eyehole. The only problem was that she decided to sit down just outside of the hole's line of vision. I was about to just go back to bed (I was still exhausted) when I saw an obvious hooker trip over what I thought to be Kyo's legs.

"What the hell- what's the matter with you?" She turned her head to glance at Kyo. Hooker lady turned her head back, a bored expression on her face. "Got dumped?"

";lksadjf jhgjasb." Kyo grumbled. Well, not really that. I just couldn't hear her well through the door. Apparently, hooker didn't care much for the answer either since her attention had turned to someone coming up the stairs.

"I don't usually offer my services to people like you, but-" she started. "OHMYGOD!!!"

I put my eye closer to the hole to notice Lynn get tackle hugged by hooker lady. Typical Lynn. He's so well no for being a womanizer that even the hookers know who he is. This is sure to end with another splendid night for him.

"Wait- what?" Lynn pushed her off him and backed away a bit.

"You don't remember me?" she whimpered.

"No…" Lynn's face was quizzical. Either he was off the hooker drug or he was so rude to girls that he didn't even care to be polite to them. He could be such a jerk at times. She slapped him. Why did I actually feel a little bad for him now? He doesn't deserve my sympathy!

"You don't get this no more!" She stomped off down the stairs never to be seen by the rest of us hopefully ever again. Lynn made the same silly mistake as hooker.

"What- Kyo?" He was also shocked to see her sitting there, too. I pressed my ear to the door now. Maybe I could hear better.

"Stalking Luna?" she asked.

"Huh- no- wait." He quickly switched the subject. "Why are you crying?"

She was crying?

"I'm not- it's just…"

"Just what?" Lynn actually cared about Kyo's feelings? What was up with him tonight?!

"What's going on out there, Reinie?" I jumped as I realized Luna had been standing behind me the entire time.

"Nothing much," I replied, "but you can look through the eyehole if you want."

Luna leaned over me to peak out as I kept my ear to the door. I was starting to feel really exhausted, but I so wanted to hear more of this.

"…don't look Kyo-ish. Shouldn't you be beating the crap out of me or something?" I took that to be Lynnn's voice since Kyo would never refer to herself in the third person.

"Don't feel like it. Why are you here if you're not stalking?" Kyo had a point… Ear to the door still!

"It's- it's-"

I woke up on the ground with Luna's face staring down at me.

"You should really go back to bed," she said. Did I really faint?

"How long was I out?" I slowly sat up, but fell back down again. I barely used my alice!

"About a minute. Do you need any help?"

I tried to sit up again and was successful. "No thanks. I can just crawl over."

Before she could protest, I crawled back over to my bed and tumbled in. I can't remember if I even got the covers over me, but I was out like a light.

Thud!

I was tossed to the ground from my bed. What were all the guys doing in our room? I had little time to ponder the thought as I was dragged over to the wall they were lined up at. They dropped me next to Lynn (really?) and started to tie me up. Hold on. This was a hostage situation!

"Get off of her!" Lynn lunged at the guy who was tying me up. He was immediately punched on the side of the head and out cold in seconds. Those guys had strength. His head was bleeding. What's going on?!

That's when I noticed Luna. She wasn't with the rest of us. Instead, she was being held by one of the guys and forced to face us. Kyo was the last to be thrown to the wall. Was this an execution or something? I had to get out!

"Okay, you are all going to be captured, except for the one Luna chooses who will be killed. So, then, Miss Luna, choose." That leader guy was creepy.

"I can't kill anyone!" she yelled. "Fudge you!"

She never could cuss properly.

"Okay." One of them stepped forward, cocked his gun, and started moving it across our execution line. I seriously wanted to stop them, but I still felt too weak. Plus, I probably would have just caused more damage if I tried anything. Stupid hostage situations!

The guy with the gun then pulled Kyo, Ryo, and Peter from the line and aimed the gun at them. This was really bad.

"Stop!" Luna yelled. "No! Why are you doing this?!"

Yes, if they wanted us for our alices, then why were they going to kill one of them? Obviously, they weren't getting the value of each of us individually. I sound like an awful person now for measuring the value of a person by their special abilities! I'm sorry world!

"Who ya gonna save?" the guy holding Luna asked with a smirk. Maybe they just liked torture…

"Kypetryo!" What?

Bang!

I looked at the three in front of me, but they were all standing. Actually, all the guys who had captured us were on the ground. Huh? I looked back at Luna and- OH. MY. GOD.

She looked worse than death right now. There were dark rings around her eyes, and she was about set to collapse. Ryo and Robyn changed into animals to get out of their restraints. Bright idea. I followed suit and was out of my ties in seconds.

"Kyo! Get me out! I know what happened!" Teito was struggling with his restraints before Kyo finally got over to him to loosen them. "Ryo, lay her down! Everyone else, ice, ice!"

We grabbed all the ice and towels we could and soon had Luna wrapped up nicely. I grabbed an extra towel and brought it over to Lynn. I don't like him! I just felt like I had to help him out a bit since everyone else was fretting over Luna.

"That was a pretty tough blow that you took. Are you okay?" I asked as he sat up with the towel on his head.

"Nah, it doesn't even hurt at all. I'll be fine!" He smiled then immediately winced. Sure, he'll totally be fine. I pushed the towel on his head to both stop the blood and shut him up.

"…. she can speed up, slow down, and stop time. However, every time she uses it, the longer she holds it, her body temperature rises until she dies," Teito explained. That sounded like a wonderful way to go. It made my situation seem like a vacation. "She'll be fine this time though. I've worked with a lot of time alices and would be happy to train her…"

"She's not the only who needs it." Thanks for pointing that out, Sirus.

"Yeah, Robyn and Reinie-" But Kyo didn't need to rub it in.

"Not who he means…" Peter said. Huh?

"Then who?" Kyo asked, obviously interested.

"You." Sirus pointed at Kyo. "You're not as good as you used to be. No way you could be, but you fight with the same risks, and it's going to get you killed."

"Okay, then," Haru attempted to ease the tension in the room. "We could all brush up on our skills. Dying tends to change people. So if we-"

"Bet I could take you," Kyo glared at Sirus. They were adorable together! What are they doing?!

"Kyo," I jumped in. I knew I wasn't great at this stuff, but it was worth a shot. "We know you probably could-"

"No she couldn't," Sirus interjected. Well, I tried.

"Let's not find out! Didn't you two just finish fighting?" Haru's attempts at cooling down the situation weren't working.

"Actually," Robyn started her twopence of the situation. "They stopped fighting, but ever since Kyo started with her nightmares, she hasn't really talked to many people other than herself."

Actually, that was Lynn, but who knows? I could have just dreamed that. My goodness, I am tired!

"Sorry." Someone got the signature Kyo death glare. "I think it's something they should know. I don't like all this secretive stuff between friends!"

"More nightmares? Do tell." Sirus folded his arms and glared at Kyo. Bad idea. Kyo levitated a book and missed. Sirus responded with a punch that Kyo avoided.

"Aw hell. Five bucks on Kyo," Haru said.

"Twenty says it's Sirus," Lynn said. I rolled my eyes and watched the two fight. The two fought with each other almost destroying the room in the process. We were going to have an interesting time explaining this to the manager. It looked pretty even until Sirus pinned Kyo down to the floor.

"OKAY!" Haru stopped the fight. "That's good! Before anyone dies, let's call it!"

"Yeah… you two really don't mess around," I mumbled. They were a scary couple.

"Where'd you go there?" Kyo snarled. Eep!

Sirus smirked. "I just stayed in your blind spot. You're not good at levitating what you can't see."

The fight suddenly stopped as Luna started to wake. Everyone sped to her as she slowly sat up. These people really do care about each other. A lot.

"You okay, Luna?" Ryo asked as he sat next to her.

"W-what happened?" She asked as she rubbed her head.

"Time alice. Teito can help you with it," Ryo explained. "As for what you missed, you saved everyone, Kyo and Sirus beat each other up, and yeah."

Luna rolled her eyes. "Geez mom. Great job letting the kids fight."

She did realize that Haru was in guy form, right?

"It's not like I could stop them!" Haru blushed.

"Someone's feeling better," Kyo grumbled.

Luna looked at Kyo and raised her eyebrows. Then, she turned her head to Sirus. "So… you like it rough?"

OMG!!! Luna was officially back. No area of questioning left. That was totally awesome. Seriously, half of us were on the floor laughing.

"Kyo, I wanna talk to you for a sec," Haru said between gasps. They both left, and we slowly calmed down. I decided that I should be doing my part as a biological twin and went over to check on Robyn.

"Are you okay after, well, all of that?" I asked.

"I guess so. I mean I learned how to deal with emergency situations back in sea cadets so things could have gone worse, but it all looks good because we're still here… breathing. Yay!" Amanda sat down at the chair by the window. I was confused by the "yay" at the end of that.

"How could you be chipper after almost being killed?' I asked. Seriously, we could have been the ones on the execution block. Luna obviously didn't like the fact that we followed them here in the first place.

"We're fine," Amanda rolled her eyes. "Is there anything else to it? Gosh, Reinie, you really need to loosen up. You've been really sour lately."

"What's that supposed to mean?" I glared at her. "I been acting just fine. You haven't even talked to me that much since we got here."

"That's because you've either been in emo corner state or exhausted from training! What am I supposed to do when all you'd do is snap at me like what you're doing now?" Amanda fought back.

"Who said I would snap? You're my sister." She wasn't getting the point as usual.

"History says so," Amanda rolled her eyes. "You always act this way when a lot of things don't work out to your needs. Maybe I should let you know that you're not the only one suffering here. Everyone here is dealing with some negative aspect of that stupid time change, and all you're doing about it is wallowing in your own self-pity. You should really think about moving on soon or else everyone else here is going to leave you behind."

How could she-

"No! That's what I'm trying to tell you! I'm done with her." Why was Lynn talking to Ryo? I thought they were mortal enemies because of the whole stalking Luna thing. Hold on. He's done with stalking Luna?! The plot thickens!

"What?" Ryo asked, one eyebrow raised. "She doesn't meet your standards anymore?"

Burn.

"Wait, what? Do you want me to continue fighting for her?"

"No." Ryo glared at him. "I just don't understand why you would suddenly stop."

Lynn put his hand on his head. "I'm lost."

Yeah. Me, too. Shouldn't Ryo be happy that his girlfriend no longer had a stalker?

"Hey, Ryo." Look, Kyo's back! "Do you think you can help Robyn with her alice?"

Ryo smiled and nodded. Then, he turned his attention back to Lynn with perhaps the coldest glare I had seen to date. Eek!

"Look, I don't know what you're doing, and I don't care." Ryo could be creepy when he wanted to. "Just don't."

"I'm not doing anything!" Lynn whined. "I'm really not!"

Ryo just kept stone-cold glaring at him. Creeepy.

"Really!" Lynn shivered. "That face is really freaky. Knock it off! Please?"

"Lynn, I think it's best if you really don't say anything at this point." Kyo took a step toward them. I would listen to her.

"Well-"

"No. That was nice talk for shut up now."

Definitely listen to the girl with the goth boots.

"But I-"

"Don't make me hurt you."

Lynn smiled a bit. "That would be a lot more threatening if you didn't just get you're ass kick-"

Bad choice of words. Lynn's face was on the table under Kyo's fist in a matter of milliseconds. Ouchers.

"Done talking now?" Kyo lifted his head to face her. No response. "Good boy. So then, training time?"

This early? Why?

"Why is Lynn here?" I asked. I thought only Haru and Mikage were helping me. ONLY THEM.

"He just tagged along, but he might be useful," Haru said. It's so weird how she's a guy! "Now, get ready. Combat training has started."

Haru began by grabbing a large chunk of parking lot and threw it at me. I copied Lynn's alice, moved out of the way, and punched Lynn.

"You're catching on fast," Haru applauded me. Mikage facepalmed, and Lynn was whining about how I ruined his perfect face… again. Teehee.

"My turn," Mikage took a step forward. "Try to resist me. Now, sit down."

Holy crap! I was sitting nicely on the curb. Not fair!

"How am I supposed to fight back?!" I protested. My alice was copycat. Not nullification. Wait…

"Stand up," Mikage said. I stood up.

"Don't say anything," I said. Mikage glared at me as he tried to say something. Perfect copy. "Okay, you can talk now."

"Nice," Mikage gasped. "Now we should probably work more on physical combat. We're going to attack you, and you have to fight back- without using your alice."

"You better not use yours," I said directly to Mikage. I might actually have a chance with Haru, though. Again, Haru threw a giant chunk of parking lot at me. Instead of teleporting myself, I dodged the chunk and kicked Lynn. Giant chunk of parking lot went flying and slammed into Robyn.

"Holy crap! Are you okay?" I screamed as I ran to her.

"Well, I could be better, but you keep hitting me. I'm starting to like it," Lynn said. Perv…

"Not talking to you, Lynn," Robyn yelled. She rubbed her eye, and I noticed that it was quite bruised. Ow. "I'm fine. This is just going to hurt for awhile."

Typical sister. Always has to seem like the tough one in the group.

"That was good." Haru walked over. "But, next time, try to hurt fewer of our people in the process."

Okay, I had to snort at that. Lynn was being pervy stalker so beating him up felt justified. Plus, it was funny to watch him whine about how I ruined his face… again.

"Should we just call it a day, Haru?" Luna asked as she came up to look at Robyn.

"We might as well save our energy for better stuff. Okay." Haru walked back to Mikage. "I'll meet up with you guys later."

Luna, Robyn, and I all walked together back to the hotel room.

"What-?" Kyo obviously noticed Robyn first when we stepped in.

"Don't ask," Amanda put her hand in front of Kyo's face. I had to snicker. She looked so ridiculous with that black eye. The sea cadets never would have taken her seriously if she was ever seen like that. "And you, don't laugh at me."

"Sorry," I squeaked. She could be menacing when she wanted to be. I decided that it was best to just go to sleep now so that I wouldn't feel exhausted and/or faint within the next couple of minutes. Good plan. I was out cold on my bed the moment I plopped down on it.

"I think we might be safe now," Will said as he looked around. All that was around for miles was farmland… and one greasy spoon diner. Perfect.

"I'm glad this game of hide seek is finally over," I sighed. It was nice to possibly not be on the run anymore. "So, what do we do now?"

Will walked up to the diner and pointed at the "Help Wanted" sign. "We give them the help they want."

I woke up crying. Great. I still couldn't forget him even when I managed to get on the other side of the country. Not cool! I got out of bed and walked out of the hotel room for some fresh air. Eventually, I sat down with my legs dangling over the side of the rails of the second floor. At least I could kind of relax.

"What are you doing out here so late?" Relaxation destroyed. Thanks for coming, Lynn.

"What are you doing out here so late?" I shot back. Creeper.

"I can't just walk around when I can't sleep? I wasn't planning on acting like a stalker if that's what you were thinking," he said.

"No. I thought that you were just waiting for your room service hooker to get here."

"I'm not into hookers! I swear!" I'm pretty sure Lynn jumped ten feet in the air when I said that. But I think that he might have been telling truth. At least from what I saw when he talked with Kyo.

"I believe you," I muttered. I had to ask this. "So are you still being stalker with Luna or was what you said to Ryo also the truth?"

"I was telling the truth. Ryo is free to have her," Lynn held his hands up in the air. "I'm all clean now. No more acting like a womanizer."

"Really?" I raised my eyebrows. Okay, I had to try this. "Because you're really wasting yourself."

"Am I?" He was so going for it. I leaned my head on his shoulder and moved closer to him. This was too easy.

"Well, maybe you don't have to waste anything." Cue my flirty eyes. "I mean, I'm right here, aren't I?"

"Maybe you are," he said as he pulled me closer. He is so caught.

"You haven't changed one bit," I laughed. I pulled away from him and smiled. "You are definitely the playboy, aren't you?"

Lynn looked like a lost puppy. I don't think many people have ever fooled him like this.

"You just played me, though!" Lynn squeaked. "That's not fair."

"It was so fair, and you so went for it," I was still laughing.

"But you have to understand that I am a better person." Was he pouting?

"No. I do get that." Hey, I did see him completely reject that hooker. I could see a change in him. "But does everyone else?'

"Highly doubt it," Lynn sighed. "I'm me, and that's all everyone else seems to see. Gosh, that sounds stupid. I'm not trying to be sappy here, but it's true."

He did sound sincere this time.

"But why do you keep coming along with me to my trainings and stuff?"

Lynn thought for a second. Weird pause. "It's fun to watch you beat up everyone. It's never the same way twice."

"Except when I beat you up," I joked.

"Yeah, um, I'm tired," Lynn yawned, "I'm just gonna go back to bed now."

Before I could say anything, Lynn was gone. Did I do something wrong here? I was just kidding!

I stood up and started walking back to my room when a small rock almost hit me. Holy shit! Who threw that?

"Psst, Ashley." I'm not- oh wait. I am. Er, was. Who are you person?! "Ashley."

I cautiously followed the voice down the stairs and around the corner until. BACK UP AND RUN!!! WILL WAS THERE!!

But he looked like his normal nerdy self, fedora and all. That was… odd.

"Will, what are you doing here, and why don't you look like a playboy?" I asked.

"It's a long story," Great, "but I'll make it short. I don't know how it happened, but I got my memory back. Everything that happened before. I realized that I had made a stupid mistake in acting cold to you so I escaped and tried to find you. It took a lot of work, but here I am. Did you miss me?"

God I did!

"I have been going crazy ever since the time change." I was practically crying when I hugged him. "It's so great to have you back! You should join us. We're on the run from a bunch of bad people, but you would be fine. Your alice is really good in the first place."

Will shuddered. Did I say something wrong?

"I can't stay with you and everyone," Will said as he pulled me away and looked me in the eyes. "Their group is already large for a bunch of people on the run. I don't think they would give me a warm welcome if I decided to come along, would they?"

I remembered when I first came and how I was treated by part of the group. I was let off easy since some of them already knew me. Most of them would have been really upset if Will suddenly hopped along for the ride.

"You're right," I sighed. Not fair!

"I have an idea, though," Will smiled. I missed that smile so much! "But it requires a lot out of you."

Fine. "Okay, what?"

"Why don't we run away, together?" Will asked. What? "Your friends will be less noticeable with one person gone, and it'll be just the two of us running. We can go on forever or stop in some overcrowded city. We'll make it up on the way."

Now? But I couldn't just ditch everyone and hit the road. I mean, they were my friends and all.

"R-right now?" I stammered. "I-I really can't do this."

"Not now, silly," Will said. "Whenever you want. I'll find you every once in a while. When you want to go, then we'll go. Okay?"

I had time. Phew! It was so great to have part of my old life back, but it was going to be interesting to see how breaking from everyone will turn out.

"Okay," I said. I hugged him again (it felt so weird having him back, kissing him would have made it crazier).

"One more thing," he said, "don't tell them about me. I don't want them to cause you any problems because of me."

It was understandable.

"I won't tell them." I let go of him then walked away.

"Hey," Will said. I turned around one more time. "I missed you, copycat."

It was nice to know that.

I woke the next morning to more training! Yay! Not. I was beat to a pulp as I tried to avoid more giant chunks of parking lot (Haru was good), and I swear Mikage had at least three black belts in some forms of kick ass Asian karate. It was painful! After many painstaking hours of work, Kyo decided to break the chain of torture.

"Hey, we're gonna do something. Wanna come?" Kyo asked.

"Sure," Haru said. "Be nice not to work for awhile."

Says the one who has been pelting me with pavement for the past three hours. How is this fair?

"You're inviting me?" Oh yeah. Kyo hated Mikage. Fun!

"No, but I assume Haru won't come unless you do. So I won't kill you if you tag along." That's Kyo's nice talk for everyone. She really does hate him.

"I'll stay over by Luna," Ryo started inching away. "Maybe she'll talk to me."

What happened with all of them last night? They were obviously being very cold around each other. Creepy.

"So where are we going exactly?" I asked as we left our safe zone fleabag motel.

"It's New freaking York," Kyo said. "We're going wherever the crowds pull us."

Claustrophobia, here we come! We were, as Kyo said, pulled around by large crowds, but it was somehow awesome. I have to admit that I had never been to New York before this whole ordeal so getting out and seeing a giant city (besides LA) was definitely different. At least until-

"Sirus! OHMYGOD! Hi!"

Random hooker-looking girl jump tackled Sirus and started kissing him all over. I knew that New York was crazy, but I didn't know that people randomly come up to you and attack you with romance. Kyo was not going to be happy. At all.

"What. The. F-" Kyo was mad. This wasn't going to end well for the girl.

"Kendra," Peter pulled the girl off of Sirus, "what the hell?"

"I didn't know you would all be in New York right now! This is fantastic!" she twirled in her tiny pink heels. Was she allowed to walk like that in public? She was only wearing a spandex tube top and a miniskirt! All of it was pink. Even I'm not that into the color that much.

"Fiance?!" Yup. Kyo was mad. "Really?! This is usually something mentioned!"

"Calm down," Lynn said. That's not going to work. "We weren't sure."

Definitely not going to work.

"How were you not sure? People tend to know when they're getting married!"

"In normal families, yes. You met our parents. Kendra was an arranged marriage if Sirus never found anyone. Unfortunately, 'I know her from my sleep' didn't go."

"Okay, so we just say that he's unavailable." Hey, she's calming down.

"…with parents' approval." It sounds like pigs will fly before that happens. Oh wait. There is such a thing as swine flu.

"I'll leave the rest to him," Lynn said as he pushed Kyo back to Peter.

"Kyo, this is Kendra," Peter said. Why did I feel so much more sizzling hatred than before?

Kendra gave a perky smile that would have even made me barf. "I'm a levitation alice."

Oh snap!

"She's definitely no Kyo. Why aren't we doing anything?" Robyn whispered.

"Hellish beings that can make Mary Poppins into Satan," Sirus mumbled back. Let me guess…

"Our parents." Thanks, Lynn.

"Lynn dear! … and Sirus. So glad to see you!" When Sirus explained how awful these parents were, he wasn't kidding. They had the Stepford perfect life look down to the eyeliner (on the mom). Even I wasn't raised in such strict settings, and my parents were control freaks!

"Look. I left. There's nothing-"

"Did you find yourself a girl," the father interrupted Sirus right in the middle of his "I am independent" speech. That's a downer.

"Yes, but-"

"Oh God. It's her." The mom pointed one housewife-manicured finger at Kyo. That's my friend you're pointing at!

"She's not as bad as you think she is." Haru took a step forward. That's not going to convince them. "She-"

"I met her. She's way worse. Our boys deserve to be with proper ladies." That's it mother from hell! I stepped forward.

"Kyo is a proper lady!" I said. By the looks people were giving me, this might have been a bad idea. I just told off demon mother by telling her that Kyo was exactly what Kyo wasn't … there could be something in this. "She is… you'll see."

"Well that's just too bad," mother from hell glared down at me. I feel short! "It's too late. But, if she proves herself, maybe adjustments can be made."

"You watch. You've seen nothing yet!" I could turn Kyo into a lady in an instant. Some etiquette, dancing lessons, lighter make-up, and she'll make them all swallow their words. It can't be that hard to make someone act like a lady for a while, right?

"Fine. We're throwing a party in a few days for the happy couple," mommy took the challenge. Also, what happy couple? "See you all there."

The three Stepfords simultaneously turned and strutted down the sidewalk parting the crowd with their very proper presence. That works in New York?

"Okay, Reinie. Nice work there, but how are we going to prove any of that?"

"I've got it all planned out," I said. This was going to be fun! "I know how to do this."

"Sounds good to me," Kyo said. She was obviously being her usual nonchalant self. That was going to be the first thing to go.

We walked back to the motel where Luna was still with Ryo. Her expression was understandable when she saw Kyo's sizzling demeanor. This could get interesting.

"Sirus's fiancé," Kyo answered the white elephant in the room. And when I say "white elephant", I mean the question that was floating around… not Luna.

"What?" Luna was completely shocked.

"Apparently, he has a fiancé," Kyo said. That was the same thing as before.

"Is she dead?"

"Nope. And she makes you look emo." I had to agree with that.

"Okay, we have work to do." I latched onto Kyo's arm and started to pull her away. "I'm making Kyo into a lady! Who wants to help?"

"I'll help. Sounds like fun," Luna said. I agreed. She knew how to be proper better than anyone else here. She grabbed the other arm, and we pulled Kyo out of the room together.

"You're handling the situation pretty well," Luna said. She obviously didn't see the fit she had on the way back to the motel. She almost destroyed Times Square.

"Thanks."

"Alright." I shut the door behind us. "If we do this, we're going to need your full cooperation, okay?"

"Fine," Kyo slouched down in a chair. Lesson one: posture. "How are we gonna pull this off?"

"First off, when you sit, you cross one leg over the other," I said as I started pacing the floor around her. This was going to be way more difficult than I originally thought.

"When you walk," Luna walked across the floor as an example. "You stand up tall and don't speak. They don't seem to like it when women speak."

As I already experienced earlier with the proper parents.

"Everything cool? Can I help? This sounds fun…" Robyn stepped in. I thought I locked the door, but she could help with the table manners.

"Not really," Kyo said. Before I could come up with anything-

"I can help, too," Lynn said from behind Robyn. He could help with the dancing part. I mean, he also knew more about the family we were trying to please since he lived with them for however long he lived with them.

"No. Out!" Luna said.

"Luna, it's okay. I think he just wants to help." Kyo actually stood up for him. Now that was weird. Meh. She was going to dance with him when we come to the part where we surgically fix her two left feet. Wait. We don't have doctors… damn.

"Everyone will treat you like an object there, and you have to let them," Lynn lectured later one in the day. Kyo wasn't taking it well. She couldn't even keep the calm chin-up face that I taught her earlier.

"Remember RISK?" Kyo said. What's RISK? "I had to do that. Did that go well? It didn't."

This was going downhill fast. Cooperate, Kyo!

"This is different. You have to let them treat you like an object, but make it clear that you're not interested."

Even I was a little confused there. My lady training hadn't covered being a vague slut, but I think I got it.

"I don't understand," Luna said.

"I've got this," I said. "Come on, Kyo."

We stood her up and evaluated her from head to foot. I don't think there was a single trait of hers that was lady-like besides anything that was given to her by genetics. Even that wasn't much.

"Can you dance?" Lynn asked.

"Define dance." I would take that as a "no".

"Ballroom," Lynn clarified.

"No." I was correct.

"Okay, adding that to the list as well." How did Robyn get a pen and paper to write all that on?
"Yay. Can't wait." Sarcasm: another thing to be added to the list.

We worked with her for what seemed like forever. It was a pain to teach her! Tell her to sit like this, she sits like that. Tell her to speak softly, she wants to yell. It's like she didn't even see what would happen if she failed at this. I needed reinforcements.

I slipped outside while Kyo repeatedly stomped on Lynn's toes, a move I considered to actually be on purpose. No one really likes him even when he's not being a playboy. He's not as horrible as they all think!

Anyways, back to the story.

"Peter," I grabbed Peter from his room, "I need your help."

"With what?" he asked. For some reason he was still brushing his teeth. Odd…

"Kyo. She's not taking any of this work seriously, and I'm worried that she might not be able to get Sirus out of this whole arranged marriage fiasco," I explained. "I don't think she understands that her boyfriend's fate is completely on her shoulders right now."

Peter brushed his teeth for a minute. This was feeling really awkward.

"I can do that," he said. "She'll be the girl of the night at that party, even if she doesn't want to be."

"Thanks," I said as I started to leave. Watching people brush their teeth was really gross. "I knew you could help."

"Listen, Sirus should have a choice in this matter. He's old enough to make decisions without you know!" Mikage? I jumped down the stairs and around a corner to find the three Stepfords having a harsh argument with Ty, Teito, and Mikage. What was going on?

"His choice was wrong," evil mother declared. "Kendra is a much better match for him. I should know. I'm his mother."

"And I'm his friend- who's been around him much more than you have recently," Mikage shot back. Oh snap!

"I should have the right to be with my fiancé!" Kendra barbie whined. "He's mine!"

"My dear, you know women don't raise their voices. Please keep silent and smile," the father said. My lady training was obviously different. I was brought up to argue my point while still being respectable. Obviously, this family was still stuck in the Victorian era of etiquette. Eek!

"Yes, sir. How could I forget?" Someone teach this girl to have a backbone!

"No," Kyo walked up. Uh oh. She can't be seen by these people yet! "He should be with who he wants to be with. Deal with it."

"They're both ours! Go away!" Luna yelled as she came up. So now we have a crowd.

"Ah, Luna dear." What is mommy demon doing? "Have you reconsidered your position on Lynn? You two would be such a cute couple."

That won't work. Lynn doesn't like her anymore! I heard it with my own ears!

"Lynn can't have her." Ryo stood between the two of them. "She's taken."

"And I have no interest in Lynn. NONE." You go Luna! I swear she's the epitome of a proper lady. She could argue and still look confident- unlike Kendra.

"Lynn doesn't have much interest in her either," I said. It was the truth… I think.

"And Sirus has someone else. Accept it or not." Peter joined in.

"But go away," Ty added. They were really telling these people off. Go my friends!

"He has no choice in the matter because his choice is wrong. Very wrong." that's very circular reasoning satan mother. "You have three days to say good-bye."

But that's not fair!

"Bull-" Luckily, Kyo was stopped by Peter. She would have been permanently out of the picture if she said any more of that.

"Today was… interesting," Luna said as we all got ready for bed. It had been a rough day what with all the etiquette training and family from perfect little demonville coming along for a fiesta. That was not what I would call normal.

"You think? I learned a lot about you guys today," I said after I brushed my teeth. It was at least a little less weird when I was doing it, okay?

"Exactly how normal is this for you guys?" Robyn asked. Good question. I want to know before I run.

"This. This is not normal," Kyo answered. "Dying is normal. Mental breakdowns are normal. This just sucks!"

She's stressed, and it's partially my fault. Great…

"It does! And now they're trying to get me together with Lynn! LYNN! He's probably enjoying this whole thing right about now." Luna was ranting.

"… I'm pretty sure he's not…" I said under my breath. When will they understand that Lynn is not just the stupid guy they always assume he is? Okay, so he is a bit lady's man, but there is more than one side to him. Maybe if they stopped picking on him they would learn something about him. Oh gosh. I'm about set to break my pencil. Let's get off this subject!

"So, Kyo! We made almost no progress with you today, but we now have the issue of them liking Luna. What now?" Subject change successful. Thank you, me.

"It's simple," Kyo said. "Make them hate Luna. If we can make her so disgusting that they can't stand her, problem solved, right?"

"Worth a shot," Robyn halfheartedly agreed.

"Okay!" Take the opportunity, Reinie! Take it! "First thing in the morning! We are turning Kyo into a lady and Luna gross! Good night!"

I plopped down in my bed and shut up. What was I thinking?

Both of them were completely impossible. Kyo would constantly do something to mess up her appearance and use the wrong fork at the table while Luna kept wiping her face after eating with her feet. They just didn't understand how to, oh I don't know, act! And Kyo had always told me how good she was at it. Well, I was certainly not believing her now.

"Okay! No! NO MORE! I quit! I can't do this!" Kyo yelled. Okay, I had to facepalm. She hadn't even tried from the beginning. If I could just-

"It does suck. I really don't like acting like trash," Luna complained. It's not that bad! "I don't really-"

"Guys!" Haru interrupted. "Two days. Just deal with it for two days."

"You sure?! You sure that if I'm a good little fucking lady, it will stop?! Or will I have to keep the charade up forever?!" Kyo was really snapping under the pressure, but she kind of had a point. What if this did last longer than we planned?

"Okay, Kyo. Let's try calming down a bit…" She was so not going to listen to Lynn.

"I'm sick of people telling me to calm down!" See? Definitely not calm.

"Kyo, please-" Haru attempted to calm her down, too.

"Don't. I'm going out for a bit." And with that, Kyo stormed out the door and left us all in a state of shock.

"Good job, everyone," I applauded. "Now we're not going to get anywhere in this mess."

"This was all your fault to begin with!" Haru said. "We wouldn't be doing this to her if you hadn't run forward declaring how much of a lady Kyo actually is. You should apologize and fix this."

"Do you have any other suggestions to get Kendra away from Sirus?" I asked. "Because, from what I can see, the only way to get Sirus's parents to like Kyo is to make her a lady. So, if you have any ideas, please indulge me with them, and I will be happy to oblige."

"We could just tell them the truth and let them deal with it," Luna said.

"That's been done at least twice, and it obviously hasn't worked." I know that this whole plan sucked to begin with, but I don't think that they knew that it was the only way to fix everything. They all stood there quietly for a second. "You know what? I'm done with this for now. I'm going outside for a bit."

I stomped outside and slammed the door behind me.

I couldn't do this!

"You don't have to do this to yourself."

Holy crap! Lynn!

"How did you get here without- oh yeah." Stupid teleportation alices. "What do you mean."

"You always blame everything on you, and then you punish yourself for it nonstop," Lynn explained. "I think you need a break."

That sounded like it had an innuendo.

"Hell no, Lynn!"

Lynn teleported ten feet away and facepalmed. "That's not what I meant!"

He cautiously walked back over to me.

"What I meant is that you need to stop being so uptight about everything going wrong. I know that I don't know you well, but I can tell when you're stressed. Seriously, it's going to hurt you a lot more than this one day."

"And how would you know anything about this?" I questioned. Yeah. How is it that he could see through everything I've done? Not fair!

"I already told you before," he smiled. "It's written all over your face."

"That's not-"

"Bye, Reinie," Lynne interrupted as he walked away. WTF?!!! I don't understand any of his motives at all! It's not cool that he can guess everything about me, and I can't even tell for sure if he's still a womanizer or not. This is going to bug me for hours.

"Lynn can be such a pervert when he's around any girl," Luna commented as she walked up to me. What was she doing here? Also-

"Why does everyone here always assume that about him?!" Okay, so I decided to defend him. He at least deserved that for not trying to feel me up. Maybe he was different…

"You are so fooled right now!" Luna laughed. "You have to be joking right now."

This was really getting annoying. You know, the whole everyone taking the advantage in conversations with me thing.

"It's not funny!" I rolled my eyes. "I'm serious."

"What's going on?" Hello to you, too, Kyo… soaking wet Kyo. Okay, officially confused now!

"Why are you soaking wet?" Luna asked.

"Ocean." And that was it for an explanation from the infamous Kyo. "What's wrong?"

Alleviate this nicely. "Nothing. It's just Lynn. He-"

"What'd he do?" She just proved my point! Everyone always assumes he did something wrong!

"Nothing! You always think he's up to something, but he's not!" I was starting to sound weird. Hold back. "He's just a bit" think of a good word "strange."

Kyo gave me her signature "really?" eyes while Luna looked like she was going to have another laugh attack. Why does no one take me seriously here?

"I dunno. He's done a lot of –strange- things." Luna was seriously holding back a laugh now. Ugh.

"Yeah, I know." They were so not listening to him. Time to use some ethos! "But I talked to him…and… I don't know."

They so thought I liked him! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!

"I mean- I wouldn't date him…" I am not helping myself here! Am I blushing? Shit! "But he's different from what most of you guys think."

"Like what?" Kyo was giving me her curious glare. Shit!

"Like- I can't explain it." They are obviously not understanding me here. I give up. "Just different."

"Fine," Kyo said raising her eyebrows. Great. She assumed too much. There goes any scrap of respect I had around here. Screw this. I'm out of here.

I walked back to the motel room where I crashed on the bed and screamed into my pillow. I'm inadvertently the freaking mediator between Lynn and the rest of the group, and I am absolutely failing. I had to get out of here soon. Where was Will?

Knock! Knock! Knock!

"The door is unlocked," I yelled from my pillow. I looked up from my pillow muffler to see Lynn walking through the door. Why me?

"I wanted to apologize about what I said earlier," he said as he sat down next to me. "I didn't mean to sound arrogant or something, but I don't know."

"You should actually be thanking me." I had to start standing up for myself. "I've been defending your ass out there, and they are losing respect for me quicker than, well, I don't know, but it's almost gone now."

"It's nice to know that at least one person believes me," Lynn said. I'm over Luna. She was a toy that I wanted because I couldn't have her, but I get it all now. I was stupid before with that whole mess so I decided to grow up. I may still be stupid, but at least I'm not hurting anyone while acting that way. Still, thanks for standing up for me. I respect you for that."

"It's just that they think that since I'm new around here that I know nothing. You're the only person who seems to be sane around here, but to them you're insane. I just don't feel like I belong here at all." I was so spilling my guts to this guy. Great.

"You belong here." Lynn scooched closer and looked me in the eyes. Uhhh. "They just think I'm, well, me and that I am annoying. Don't let it bother you. I'll always be here for you. No matter what."

He is actually a really good kisser. HOLY CRAP!!! WHAT IS HE DOING?!!!! WHAT AM I DOING?!!!! I'm being a horrible cheater!!!!

"NO!!!"

All my rage and frustration and anger poured out. I punched him on the face and pinned him to the wall. This bastard was going to pay for everything he did!

"What did you do to her?" Luna and Kyo walked in. I ignored them and commenced with punching Lynn in the stomach before kicking him across the room.

"Nothing! She just snapped!" Lynn squeaked. Oh, no! You are not getting off that easy, mister!

"Did not you freaking liar! You were going to ask me out after telling me all your feelings for Luna!"

I went for an uppercut punch to his head.

"You still have feelings for me?!" Luna screamed. "You freaking perv!"

She joined in the fight and kicked him while I pulled at his ponytail. It was so stupid for him to even have his hair so long when he had to fight, but it was coming in handy for me now. Inflict more pain!

Kyo levitated him out of our clutches and moved him outside.

"I got this," she grumbled. But you don't know what he really did to me!

"He is so dead to me!" I growled as I began to follow them outside. Luna pulled me back.

"I want to kill him, too, but I think Kyo will probably do a better job for now," Luna said. I just gave her my darkest death glare and stood right in front of the door.

"I'll wait."

"Do you want to tell me what happened?" Luna asked.

"No."

"Are you sure?"

"I'm not in the mood to use words right now!" I snarled. I waited for them to walk back inside. Luckily, Lynn was the one who opened the door to meet face to foot with me. I hope that hurt a lot.

"Ow!"

"I'm going out," I said as I shoved him aside. Worthless piece of person. I walked down the stairs and hid in the nearest dark alley. All I wanted was to be alone. Will was right. I was just causing problems around here. Why don't I just run now?

"Copycat." Will? How convenient!

"Can we leave now? I want to leave now!" I tackle hugged him and just started to fall apart. "I can't stand being with these people anymore! They don't listen, and they treat me like crap!"

"What happened?" Will asked. He gave me his fedora and sat down on a nearby trashcan. "I promise to only tell the local rats."

He always knew how to lighten the mood, and his hat still smelled the same. I explained everything that had happened to him in the past couple of days. It felt good to have him around to listen just like old times…er, alternate universe times.

"Can we please just leave now?" I asked again. I was still crying from reliving all the awfulness of the past few days. Will bent down and kissed me on the forehead.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, "but we can't do that yet."

"What?" How could he?

"If you leave now, then they will come after us. Don't you want to make a clean break with them?"

"Would they really come after me if I never meant much of anything to them?" I just couldn't believe. Him, too? Why does everybody treat me like some stupid manipulative doll?

"Just wait a few more days," Will smiled. Okay, I couldn't stay upset for long when he did that. "I'll get you out of here, and we'll never be found again. It'll be just the two of us, okay?"

"Okay." I put his hat back on his head and kissed him before saying good-bye and walking back to the motel.

Just a few more days…

"I hear there are a lot of creepers in dark alleys around here." Lynn! I turned around to punch him, but he teleported out of the way.

"Explains why you're here," I snapped.

"I'm not like that anymore!" Lynn facepalmed. "I found you so that I could apologize for earlier."

Yeah, right. Like I was going to let him off that easy. He needed to do much more than that.

"Go to hell."

"I was also going to offer to help you out with picking your dress for the party, too, since I know what my family's circle of friends is like," he said, "but now I think I'm gonna go back inside and tell everyone about that wonderful guy you were just talking to."

He saw that?! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!

"DON'T DO THAT!!" I yelled. AHHHH!!!! "I'll do anything?"

"Anything?" Lynn raised an eyebrow. Is there something wrong with this guy's brain?!

"Nothing like that, you perv!" He was so annoying! I took a breath and paused for a second. "You can pick out my dress for the party."

"Be my date for the party, too, and we might have a deal," Lynn said.

"After what you did to me earlier?!" I screeched. "I'm already being very generous."

Lynn started walking back to the motel. "I guess the rest of the group would love to hear some gossip about you."

Not fair!

"Fine, fine," I grumbled as I followed behind him. "You're the sickest person I've ever met."

"I'll take that as a compliment." Lynn gracefully opened the door to my room. I kicked him in the stomach and slammed the door shut on his face.

"Freaking perv," I muttered as I collapsed onto my bed. How could I have been so stupid to think that Lynn was different from what everyone else thought of him? I couldn't even see that he was just pulling a grand scheme to get me out of my clothes. Gosh, I'm so naive! It's a wonder how I'm still even alive in this mess, and now I'm stuck with being his date to that ridiculous party in a possibly just as ridiculous dress. Maybe I should just go off on my own now. I don't need Will or anyone to help me out. I just need…

"Hold the fork like this." I could not believe I was still working through this with Kyo. I thought she was just going to quit already! Ohmygosh! She was going to kill me with that fork!

"Kyo, just calm down," Lynn said. Damn perv still followed me around like a hopeless puppy. I can't get rid of the guy!

"I'm trying," Kyo grumbled. She to see Luna wiping her face off with a neatly placed napkin on her foot. "Luna, they're never gonna buy it if you keep wiping off the food you spill on yourself."

"But it's so gross!" Why couldn't I just switch these two faces for a night? The bitchy parents love Lynn!

"I'm gonna take a break outside for a bit," Kyo sighed. I was getting nowhere with these people. Help!

"Kyo-" Luna started.

"I'll be back soon. Just ten minutes." Kyo walked out the door leaving Luna, Robyn, Lynn, and me to be puzzled by escape.

"I don't think we can do this to her," I said. It was obviously causing her more problems than it was solving.

"What else can we do now?" Rhetorical Robyn said. "The party is tomorrow. We're pretty much all out of time."

"I think she can do it," Luna said.

"She could barely refrain from stabbing Reinie with a fork." Thanks for pointing that out, Lynn. "We have better chances of causing world peace."

"Let's just call the whole thing off," I said. "She and Sirus can get married in a drive-thru chapel in Vegas or something. His parents can't object to that."

"Reinie, how could-"

"You've been doing the same thing, too, Luna! Both of you can't just act the way you need to for just a few minutes. I'm done."

Kyo walked in then. I had no idea what was going on in her head right now or if I was going to make it through the next thirty seconds. She can just be really creepy at times.

"Kyo-" Luna started.

"No, I'm ready," Kyo interrupted. Huh? "I want to do this."

I'm thoroughly confused.

"You pull anything slutty, and I WILL kill you," I snarled at Lynn. Usually, I like dress shopping, but because Lynn is picking for me, it just plain sucks! Kyo, Robyn, and Luna also came along to pick out their dresses. It was going to be interesting to see what they all come up with.

"Found one!" Kyo attacked a very steampunky dress. NOO! What was that dress even doing here?

"Nope," Robyn snatched the dress from her hands and tossed it. "Not what a lady like you would wear."

Kyo slumped over and looked back at the dress with little puppy eyes. Awww. She actually looks less menacing when she is sad.

"Try this." Lynn held up a very strappy red dress in front of me. Hell no!

"Try something else," I shot back. Lynn looked hurt, but he regained his normal stupid expression quite fast.

"Seriously, it will look better when you put it on. I swear." He had better be right, or else.

"You're such a pervert. I'm going to kill you when I put this on, won't I?" Lynn just shook his head and smiled as I snatched the dress from his hand. I grumbled a variety of curses under my breath on my way to the dressing room. I was so going to kill that guy.

I got into the dress and realized that there wasn't a mirror in the dressing room. Wonderful. I have to walk out in front of Lynn to see how it looked on me. I stepped outside and searched for the nearest mirror.

"LYNN YOU- oh wow," I gasped. I did look good in this. I could see Lynn's reflection smile in the mirror. He was so thinking that! "I'm not getting this!"

"Yes, you are," Lynn said. "I can tell you like it, too."

"You just want to get me out of it don't you?" I snapped.

"How could you be so cruel," Lynn whimpered as he turned around. "I was only trying to help."

I rolled my eyes. What a baby! But he looked really hurt by the whole thing. Plus, I was still being blackmailed for this. Grrr.

"Fine," I grumbled. "I'll get this, but you better not get any ideas. None!"

Lynn immediately jumped ten feet in the air and smiled hugely. Holy crap. "Not a problem! I've got you covered!"

"Don't ever say that again!" I growled. Kyo and Luna walked out- OHMYGOD! Kyo looked absolutely amazing while Luna looked like the piece of trailer park trash who tried to crash the after party at the Oscars. Ew.

"This will work," I managed to say. I just couldn't look at Luna in that ugly thing she had on her. I felt so bad for her. We bought the dresses plus two other ones for Kyo and Luna after the party. They both looked upset with the dresses that they original had to wear.

"Date's only," Haru read from our "formal" invitation to the party, "to celebrate the happy engagement of- psh. Screw that. They're not engaged if we have anything to say about that."

Kyo looked horrified by the amount of make-up I applied, and Luna looked like a suicidal clown. This was going to be a long night.

"Kyo, stop freaking out about your new face." Never going to work, Lynn. "It's what they like. Suck it up."

"Lynn, if you say 'relax', 'calm down', or 'suck it up' on more time, I will not hesitate, and your body will never be found." Exactly what I meant.

"Geez," Lynn looked really hurt again. "Just trying to help."

Kyo tried to jump attack him with a pen, but was held back by Haru. Thank goodness.

"Honey, you don't want bloodstains on that dress." Haru took the pen from her. Hold on. HONEY?! "Maybe Luna could use some, though."

"Shut up." Luna's frown just made the suicidal clown even more disgusting. I feel for that girl.

Haru quickly changed the subject. "Alright then, who's with who?"

"Lynn," I grumbled. Lynn stood behind me and grabbed my hand. Hell no! I jabbed my elbow into his stomach, and he let go. Good boy.

"Luna," Ryo said. They are such a cute couple!

"I don't have one," Mikage said. What happened to-? Now I understand the whole "honey" thing with Haru and Kyo.

"Peter can be your date," Kyo said. Gay couple! Everyone fell to the floor laughing at the expressions on their faces. Perfect.

"Fine," Peter reluctantly agreed, "but that still leaves Ty, Teito, and Robyn."

"Threesome!" Ty yelled. What?

"Really?" Robyn was not going to get in on this.

"Oh, yes. I am a total player," Teito said. Oookay.

"Ladies cover their mouths and giggle." Haru smacked Kyo on the back for apparently laughing out loud. Harsh.

"Guys get kicked in a certain place when they hit girls," Kyo shot back. Uh oh. Mikage jumped between the two of them.

"Don't. I kind of want her alive."

"Him," Kyo corrected. Lynn went for my hand again, and I stomped on his foot with my black stiletto. When will he learn? "She is a he tonight. And don't worry. I won't rip him apart- yet."

Oh snap! Tonight was going to be interesting.

We walked along the streets of New York for a few miles until we reached the site of the party. The place was huge! It seriously resembled something along the lines of a modern Victorian inspired castle. It was completely gorgeous.

"You need to act like my date now," Lynn said as he put his arm around my waist. "Looking grumpy will only make them think that I forced you to come."

"Didn't you?" I asked.

"Touché," he said. We skipped to the front of the line to get in. Odd.

"Lynn! How's it going?" the guard greeted. "I see you have another new girl."

New girl, huh? Lynn practically suffocated me as he held me tighter and gave me a warning glance. Shit. I have to smile and look dumb.

"I'm going steady with her," Lynn smiled back. Just keep looking happy and stupid and maybe no one will notice how annoying this is.

"Wow, you actually tamed the beast, huh?" The guard looked at me in awe. I flashed a cutesy glance back up at Lynn.

"I guess I did," I said casually as I dragged him inside. "What was that about?"

"I know everyone here," Lynn explained. Great. "They still think I'm a complete player."

"Great. So I'm your adorable hooker?" I scoffed.

"You're adorable, but you're not a hooker," Lynn said as he waved to some random people at a table. "I'm not paying you for this."

Lovely.

"I'm feeling a little thirsty," I turned and gave my light flirty eyes to Lynn. "Could you get us something to drink?"

"Right on it." Lynn skipped away to wherever the drinks were. I thought I would never get rid of him.

"Fancy seeing you here, copycat." Will! I turned around and hugged him. He looked more amazing than usual. His fedora was definitely new, and his suit had a hint of steampunk accents with the cufflinks and pin.

"How did you get in here?" I asked. "This is an exclusive party!"

"It's not as exclusive as you think." Will winked. "Care to dance?"

"I would love to." I followed him on to the dance floor where he guided me in a graceful ballroom dance. It was absolutely perfect. The scene, the sounds, the guy. I couldn't ask for anything more. I didn't even care to look over my shoulder to see where Lynn went. Everything else just disappeared.

"Ashley, are you ready to go now?" Will whispered in my ear.

"Yes."

Everyone here was having a good time tonight. They wouldn't miss me for quite some time if I left them now. They would probably never miss me…

The song ended, and Will and I stopped dancing. He put his fedora on my head to be sure that no one would notice me while we exited the party. Once we were outside, Will started running with my hand still in his.

"Where are we going now?" I asked. Will pulled me into a dark alley and stopped. Odd… "What's wrong?"

Will stood tall and turned around to look at me, an inhuman smirk on his face.

"You."

"Mmmm…" I mumbled. Oh, hey. My eyes are closed! When did that happen? I opened them, and wtf? Somehow, I was in a room with no windows chained to a wall. I was still in my dress from the party, and I was pretty sure that my hair looked like an absolute mess. The place seriously looked like a basement that was in serious need of some spring-cleaning. Was this some sort of torture chamber lab or something? How did I get in here?

"You."

Will! I looked around for Will, but found- Lynn? What the hell? He was chained up next to me still unconscious. What's going on here?!

"Lynn!" I kicked his leg. "Wake up, Lynn!"

"Reinie, you shouldn't…" Lynn shot up and almost broke both of his arms from the chains. "I knew that guy was bad news!"

"What are you talking about?" Was I dreaming? Lynn registered that I was there and almost pummeled me.

"That guy you kept swooning over!" Lynn yelled. "He was playing you the whole time. I-"

Slam!
"I see that you are both awake now." Will smirked as he walked into the room. Oh no. That wasn't the Will I fell for.

That was playboy Will.

"What's going on here?" I struggled with my restraints, but it was completely useless.

"You're just as naïve as ever, aren't you, Ashley?" Will continued to smirk.

"Hey, pig face. Her name's Reinie," Lynn said. Oh no.

"You have a very annoying voice, did you know that?" Will gave him a sideways glance. Lynn immediately froze, but his eyes were burning with rage. Will was using his alice on him.

"Get us out of here, Will!" I pleaded. Maybe real Will was still in there somewhere. "I don't know if this is some silly joke, but I want out of it now!"

"Are you that dense?" Will laughed. "Your Will is gone. He was stupid, immature, and just as naïve as you are. I still don't understand how he was able to keep R.I.S.K. from taking him for two years. The organization must have been lost without me."

"What?" I was completely lost now. Was he just acting like the Will I knew the entire time?

"Why don't I have Lynn explain some of this. Lynn?" Will relaxed his alice on Lynn.

"You're the Puppet master! Bastard!" Lynn yelled. He was furious, and it showed. "What are you going to do to us?"

"Well," Will thought for a second. "I'd like to continue my story first. Then, I might just kill you both slowly. I just want to enjoy it so much."

"Take me, and let her go!" Lynn said. Am I the weaker sex or something?!
"Let him go!" I yelled. "He didn't do anything wrong! I'm the one who got caught."

"Reinie…"

"Shut up! You weren't supposed to get messed up in this!" I glared at Lynn. I still wasn't even sure how he got here in the first place.

"Ladies! Ladies!" Will interrupted the conversation. "You're not leaving! As much as I love to see people fighting over sacrificing themselves, there's plenty of room for both of you here. So, if you could please be quiet. I believe Reinie deserves an explanation here."

I shut up fast. So I was finally going to die, wasn't I?

"Where to start?" Will thought for a second. "Perfect! Reinie, remember the day when you stood up to me in class about all the noise I made with my friends?"

I just glared back up at him.

"Good. You do. Well, you probably don't know it, but my alice has evolved." Will smiled. "I'm pretty powerful now."

"You can read minds now, too!" Lynn gasped. "I knew-"

"Hush, young lady," Will winked at him. "I was just getting to that. So my alice had evolved at a much faster pace than what was originally intended for me. When you looked at me that day, I saw who I was before what you call the time change. I was so oblivious to all that I could have had, and it was all because of you."

"You loved me before!" I struggled against my chains again. I had to get the real Will back! "Wasn't that enough?"

"To your version of me, yes. But that decision to be with you forced me to leave R.I.S.K. This life is much better." Will pulled a knife out of his pocket and started playing with it. "Instead of people trying to kill me, I'm the one doing all the killing."

"You had everything before!" Was I starting to cry? "How could you do this?"

"Meh." Will smirked. "I just did."

He put the knife back in his pocket and started pacing the floor, some stone now in his hand.

"You were so easy, Reinie. It only took one sappy song to melt you down." Will glanced at me. "I barely even had to act like you're version of me to get you here. I made so many silly mistakes that could have given me away, but you brushed them all aside. Now look at what you're doing. You're falling for this guy over here. He's really quite pitiful, too, but it just goes to show how dim you are. You just fall for anything don't you, Reinie? I was surprised when you didn't realize that all you would ever be to him was just another whore. He was just mad that he couldn't pay for you like he did with all the other girls. Truthfully, I think that's better. He could have gotten everything for fr-"

Lynn kicked Will's feet out from under him, teleported out of his shackles, and punched Will across the room. Will immediately took out his knife and started running back toward Lynn.

"DON'T YOU EVER CALL HER A WHORE!!!" Lynn snatched the stone from the floor and kicked the knife away.

"Come on, kid," Will said as he regained his balance. "Didn't you ever think about that?"

"No, but you did have a nice alice stone." Lynn pocketed the stone. So that's what it was. "It explains why I couldn't teleport out of my chains. Now, why don't you fight like a real man?"

I have to do something about this. They were both about set to kill each other, and it was all going to be my fault. Okay, lock onto Lynn's alice.

Oh. My. God.

Remember how in the beginning of the story Will's "aura" was that comforting shade of red? Yeah. Now it's the creepiest shade of black I have ever seen. I didn't even want to touch it. Meanwhile, Lynn's was gold. Weird.

I copied Lynn's alice and freed myself from the restraints. Now I have to stop this.

The two of them were fighting back and forth so fast now I couldn't even focus on them clearly let alone copy an alice again. I was already starting to feel a little off. I looked around for anything of use and noticed the knife still on the floor.

Maybe…

I picked it up off the ground and crouched down by the wall.

If I could just get in one stab somewhere. This could all end…

I closed my eyes, held the knife close to me, and lunged.

"Ahh!" The knife hit someone. What did I do?!

I opened my eyes to see Lynn standing between Will and me. The knife had gone cleanly into his shoulder.

What have I done?

"No!"

I pulled the knife out of his shoulder and watched in horror as he fell to the floor. This can't be happening!

"He never would have liked you in the first place," Will sneered. "You're too weak."

No! No! Nonononono. I couldn't ruin everything just like that. I grabbed Lynn from the floor and thought as hard as I could about getting out of that place.

"What happened?"

"Lynn, you bastard!"

"What did you do to Reinie?!"

"We were worried sick!"

Huh? I was back at the parking lot of the motel. Everyone was running up to us and yelling at Lynn. Why were they doing that? I let go of Lynn and took a few steps away as he collapsed on the pavement.

"I didn't mean it. I was just trying to protect us. It wasn't meant for him. I'm so sorry!" I had to get out of here! I had to-

I swear it wasn't my fault! I was faced with a choice! I really meant to-

Oh. Those words were all in my head. Hehe.