A/N: I am quite sorry about the time it took me to update this. I'm on a very serious Avengers kick, and really the only thing that managed to light a fire of motivation under me to get this done was because I wanted to be justified in writing a fanfiction. Of course, once I started, I remembered why I did love this story and the words flowed! Thanks for sticking with me, and also, I have enabled anonymous reviewing, so please feel free to review! I'm sorry about that, by the way—I didn't know I had it disabled! Thanks again, and enjoy.

Chapter Five: Dreams, Porcelain and Pearls

"Ow!"

"Oh, don't be such a baby," Noel chided me. Her fingers probed around the edges of the goose egg on the back of my head, prodding it, testing its sensitivity. I didn't appreciate the attention one bit. "You're fine. Tell me again what happened?" Her fingers retracted, leaving the bump on my head to throb on its own.

"I told you I was fine," I muttered, rubbing the spot lightly. "Don't know why you insisted on touching all over it. Sure didn't help much."

"Will."

I sighed. "Alright, but it's really embarrassing, so don't laugh."

She stared at me, waiting patiently. We were at lunch, just the two of us sitting at the table she had occupied with me and Jenni the day before. Apparently, Jenni was sporting an awful hangover and wasn't coming to school today, and Harry and Simon didn't go to this school. The other teens in the cafeteria were paying no attention to us, just milling about and minding their own business. Still, I glanced around to make sure that this was the case before continuing.

"I fell in the shower."

"You…fell? In the shower?"

"Yeah, last night. The power went out, the water went cold, and I got startled and tripped over the edge of the tub."

Noel was fighting not to laugh. I could see it clearly in the way her dark eyes danced and glistened and how she bit her lip. I sighed. "Okay, I guess you can laugh. A little."

The laugh burst out of her with tons of force, so much so that several pairs of eyes turned to us. Including those of Silas, the absolute last person I wanted to lock gazes with in my moment of embarrassment. My cheeks flushed and I kicked Noel, hard, under the table, but it did nothing to staunch her spirits.

"And you were naked!"

I eyed her darkly. "That does tend to be what people are in the shower, Noel."

She laughed harder and I buried my face in my hands. This was a nightmare. Honestly, it was. I couldn't believe I'd told her. "Oh my god, I'm sorry," she tried to get out around her laughter.

"Yeah, well, it doesn't seem that way. Seriously, my poor mom—"

"Please don't tell me she found you like that."

"…who else would have…?"

She laughed harder. "So there you were, laying naked on the floor, and your mom just walks in?" Her entire frame shook with her laughter, and for just a moment, I allowed myself a smile. Okay, so it was a little funny.

"But that's not even the weird part," I cut in, and slowly, with a few gasps, Noel came back around to herself, her hand covering her mouth.

"So what is the weird part?"

"Well, okay, first, let me explain that I have never been one to have dreams that made any amount of lucid sense. But ever since I moved here…" I paused, not sure why I wanted to get this out, but feeling like I ought to anyways. I felt like I could use someone to confide in, someone who wouldn't think I was totally mental or start worrying for me overly much. I mean, there was every chance that Noel would not be that person, but I wanted to trust in her, and the only way to really know if you could trust someone was to make the leap of faith and just do it. So I was going to. "Ever since I got here, I've been having these weird dreams."

"Dreams?" she asked, sounding genuinely curious.

I nodded. "Yeah, dreams. But the dreams…it's like they're telling a story, you know? Like an important story. I don't know, maybe I'm crazy and reading too much into it but—"

"No, no," Noel said, reaching across the table and placing a dark hand over my own pale one. "My dads always taught me that dreams were important. They're like, the things in your head that you know are true, but can't come to grips with, 'cause it's too much or hard to handle. But you'll never really know yourself unless you look into them. If you think they're important, then they probably are. What are they about?"

"I don't know if it's like that," I began, chewing nervously on my lip. This was when the trust would come in, because I knew that what I was about to say was going to be nuts. "I don't think they're really my own. I think…I think they're someone else's."

Noel's face contorted into puzzlement. "Someone else's? Like, whose?"

I shrugged helplessly. "I don't know. But last night, when I fell and hit my head, I had another. And it suddenly dawned on me that…what if it's all real? What if it's stuff that actually happened? You know, like in the past or something."

"You think you're seeing visions of the past?" Noel said, and I could hear the doubt in her voice, could almost feel the judgment that was about to rain on me. "Then…I guess I believe you."

I winced, opening my mouth to explain that no, I wasn't crazy, that I must have just hit my head too hard or something, and that she should forget I ever said anything. Then I realized that she hadn't said I was crazy at all. That she'd said she actually believed me. I let out a breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding. "You mean…you don't think I'm nuts?"

Noel laughed. "Oh, no, I definitely think you're nuts. Just not because of this. It is weird, don't get me wrong, but this is Savannah. We thrive on the weird and inexplicable. But what happens in these dreams of yours?"

I smiled. "Thanks. Really, thanks, but as for what happens…well, at first, it was the same thing. Over and over. Like, an old bar or speak-easy or something, from like the 20s, only everything was broken. Like the whole place had been ransacked or something. But last night…it was different."

"Different like how?" Noel asked, seeming intrigued despite herself.

"It was…well, it wasn't anything all that exciting. Just me—although it wasn't me, it was someone else, like the bartender—sitting behind the bar and cleaning a glass. And then this woman comes over, and she's like, drop-dead gorgeous—"

"I thought you were gay," Noel teased me lightly, punching me on the shoulder from across the table.

"I am," I laughed, "But that's why it felt like it wasn't me. This bartender, he really had it bad for her. Like, totally and hopelessly smitten. But when she came over and started speaking, I couldn't hear her voice. Just watched as she laughed and spoke and…well, I felt what he felt. And it was so strange, I don't know how to explain it. But I feel close to them now. Like…what if what they want, what they need, is some kind of closure? I feel like I need to find out more about them. Like who they were and—"

"And whether or not they actually existed?" Noel suggested, quirking an eyebrow. Her voice was soft, though, and filled with concern. It wasn't that she doubted me, I didn't feel like. It was more about not getting my hopes up, in case it turned out that I was just looking too much into it, which I had to admit was a big possibility. I had to look at this with a more skeptical eye. Otherwise, I ran the risk of becoming one of those loony mediums they had on television.

"Yeah," I said, blushing, "That, too."

The bell rang, releasing us all from lunch and we stood, Noel and I. She quickly reached over and hugged me. "How about you meet me at the library after school? I don't know if we'll find anything, but if you feel like you need to investigate this, I'm backing you all the way."

I smiled. "Yeah, thanks. See you then."

She left, shifting seamlessly into the crowd. I watched her go for a moment longer before sighing and grabbing my backpack off the ground, slinging it over one shoulder. I then reached and grabbed my tray, moving to dump it in the trash.

As I turned to make my way to class, however, a voice suddenly caught me off guard, and I turned to figure out who it had been. I felt my tongue thicken in my mouth, as if it suddenly weighed a ton as I tried to stammer out some kind of words that could pass as a greeting. I tried my best to mask my reaction, not wanting him to know that I was struggling violently to figure out his motivations for approaching me. Turns out I didn't have to wait long.

"You dropped something," he said, bending down to pick up what it was. My gaze followed his long, graceful fingers, taking in the perfectly varnished (though unpainted) look on his well-cut fingernails and the faintest glimpse of scars that decorated the fingertips back of the hand…and then my blood turned to ice in my veins as I saw what it was he was reaching for. The bracelet. I didn't remember picking that up this morning, or taking it with me to school. And yet here it was.

Silas caught my glance and then followed it to the bracelet. His eyes narrowed and slowly, I reached for it. "I…uh…thanks."

My fingers closed around it, mere centimeters from his, almost brushing. I wondered if his skin would be as cold as he seemed, like touching a porcelain doll. I wondered also if he was as fragile as a porcelain doll. He seemed it, all of his features delicate and doll-like, but something in me recognized him as a very real threat, someone that would not break if touched too roughly but who ran the very real risk of breaking you instead. He may have looked like a doll, but he seemed like an oncoming storm, much like his eyes.

He held on to it a moment longer than what I felt was necessary, then, slowly, he let go. "Don't go dropping your girly shit around here, Mercer. I'm not picking it up again."

And then he was gone, pushing past me. I nearly stumbled, but managed to just barely keep my footing. I felt my pulse slowly decelerate and clenched the pearls in my hand. Forcing my mind off my impossible crush on a guy who thought I was dirt beneath his feet, I allowed myself to question how they had gotten there, and if maybe, just maybe, these pearls had some kind of connection to the dreams I'd been having. I didn't see how, but there was definitely something strange about them, and I meant to find out what exactly that was. After all, the dream hadn't changed until I'd found these pearls. That had to count for something…

Or maybe I was just crazy. The bell rang, and I started, cursing quietly to myself. Second day at school, and already, I was going to be late to class.