Chapter 1

The Arrival

1.

Page woke to her alarm.

She cringed, each buzz hammering so hard she pictured her ears bleeding. Ducking failed and, giving up, her body stretched, bone cashing cheques her muscles couldn't cash, leading to cramps. She groaned twisting and jerking in ways that would have made a gymnast blush.

Her socked big toe tapped snooze. The buzz was replaced by a thumping beat that smashed all thought. Instinct sat her up. She pulled blonde locks off her face. They rebelled under gravity's banner, a curtain against the light piercing her eyelids to interrogate the back of her skull.

She scanned to adjust to the light, cursing the blinds.

Why were they open?

Not a thought past it, her eyes travelled from the window to the door, Yamamoto Jin, the window, back to the blinds.

The weight of the moon pulled on her.

Jin?

She yelped, ducking under the covers. White silk couldn't keep the sun from making him out. Her eyes darted right to left, up and down. Every time locking on him.

Jin's right next to my bed!

She pulled her hair over her face, heart drumming unceremoniously against a chest afloat with billions of butterflies. He wasn't supposed to be there or anywhere. He was supposed to be dead.

Popping out the covers…

"How'd you get in here!"

Hers a meek voice, scraping against her pride.

What if he'd taken advantage of her? Her night gown hung loose, yellow panties and bra below, if anything she was over dressed. It was an awful, illogical, stupid, senseless thought but she couldn't help it.

"Page, you let me in!"

For a second, it looked as though he were going to fall, he recovered in a way that made it look planned and practiced. His head cocked to the side, eyebrow raised. Seeing his thin but rough features, unusual so for any seventeen-year-old, should have been humorous.

His white shirt, beneath a black blazer and pants, had long browned where not covered in soot; it looked look as though he'd crawled through every chimney. There was a lipstick stain from her having fallen asleep waiting for the bus. A month ago.

His confusion only to added to hers.

"I did?" Her eyes darted to the bed, the door then at the window. "When? How?"

What was he talking about?

Backtracking was in order. She'd clearly gone to bed and hadn't gotten up for the night.

That wasn't true. She'd gone to the toilet and… no… that didn't matter. What happened after that? She'd gone to bed and therehewas.

Breaking in wasn't a thing. The whole building was locked tight, with paid guards.

Someone could've let him in.

Nope.

They knew him by name.

He stared with the eyes of a man who was about to yell, break things but couldn't, it was her.

Then… it… changed.

She'd never seen someone so resigned about something so important so quick.

"Look, there's no time. Just… get ready for school. I'll meet you outside."

He stretched, every action an exercise in pain. How long had he been sitting? He ruffled uneven hair and walked out.

The door closed with a soft click. It would've been better if it slammed.

Page waited 'til her heart rate dropped enough for her slink out of bed, hands shaking, trembling without justification.

Am I scared of him? No, you know exactly what it is. But… that's irrelevant because... Because it is damn it!

She checked for evidence of him.

No!

That was her friend dead or not, even if... her mind drew blank... even if she'd woken up with him looking down on her. Her face reddened, shame burning through her chest.

Her lips pursed; eyebrows furrowed while her mind created awful but well-illustrated 'what ifs'.

She wiped tears from her eyes and checked anyway, hating it. At least she hated herself. If only counted for something.

She, when sane enough to move, showered.