It was a new-found fact that Silas hated large groups of people in a small space. More specifically, parties. "I hate this," he grumbled to Tyler as they hovered near the punch stand, watching the swarm of students...well...swarm.

"Silas," Tyler said, strain clearly in his voice as his brown eyes glanced about nervously, "The party just now started. I'm sure it will get better."

"Yeah, man, chill out," Josh, who had just walked between them, said with a smile on his face, "I'm sure this place will start pumping soon."

"I doubt it," Silas commented, "From what I've heard, school-established events are usually dull."

Just as he finished his statement, lightening flashed over the area and darkness enveloped everyone temporarily. "Dull enough to turn out all of the lights?" Josh said with a laugh.

"How did he even do that? Aren't we outside?" Tyler asked, then seemed to catch himself, "Right...time pocket..."

Silas and the others watched as lights flared to life above them in an array of colors, spinning and bouncing. He had seen similar lights from the doors of clubs in the big city near his village and assumed the staff was trying to emulate a night club. Minus the alcohol and drugs. Music heavy on the bass began pounding from inside the largest cave, the interior acting like a massive speaker. Josh bobbed his head and bounced on his knees, setting down his cup. "I'm going to go find someone to dance with," he called over his shoulder as he wove his way into the crowd, raising his arms with his hands balled into fists.

"Good luck!" Tyler called, "You'll need it!"

A finger was raised from the ginger boy as he vanished and the crowd swarmed faster due to the music. Silas and Tyler stood there until Pamela appeared before them, dressed in a flattering gold and scarlet tunic with leggings. Silas did not hear what the Indian ambassador said, yet he noticed that Tyler had disappeared soon after along with the vampire girl. And so, he was left by himself, at the punch table, like he had been on the first night; Silas resorted to people watching once he came to the conclusion that a sassy fairy Paige was not going to pop up this time to save him from the awkward loner role he seemed to be stuck with often.

It appeared that most of the student body had scrambled to pair up with a date, or they had assumed that in order to party, one required a partner of the opposite sex. Otherwise, each gender amassed into large clusters to do as they pleased, often the entertainment resorting to dares and laughter once dancing lost its initial rush. For the first time, Silas noticed just how diverse the population was. Skin tones as well as accents ranged from dark and thick to honey and strong to pale and faint. Perhaps there was a spell cast over the school that enabled each member to understand each other regardless of language. Guess that saved money for personal translators.

Within a few minutes, a large dog like figure loped out of the crowd, snarling. Silas had a wild thought that perhaps even lycanthropes attended the school, yet his mind was put to rest when he saw that it was merely Zechariah. The hyena blinked grumpily at the crowd then cast his gaze around for someone he would know. "Ah, Silas, how are you?" he called once he spotted the towering Mancer, trotting up to him.

"I'm alright," Silas lied, looking down at the hyena. That smile still sent mild shivers down his spine.

"Well, I, for one, am pissed, to put it lightly," Zechariah complained, glowering.

When he did not continue, Silas asked, "Why are you pissed? I thought you would be one who enjoyed this kind of thing."

The hyena swung its gaze back up to Silas' face and narrowed its eyes. "You thought wrong," was the simple retort.

"I'm sorry?" Silas offered up, shrugging his shoulders.

"Silas, you need to expand your vocabulary. Don't always be 'sorry'," Zechariah scolded, "Sympathize. You didn't do anything."

"So...you would prefer to have pity rather than an apology?"

"Yes," he answered, "Well...no, not pity. I don't need pity. I need love."

What? Silas was mildly baffled by this. "Love?" he echoed questioningly.

"Yes, love...you see, I find you Mancers hard to gather," the hyena lifted himself onto the table so his head was at least at normal human height. And to lap in the punch bowl, "Back in my city, I was surrounded by women, great and small, blonde and brunette, tall and short. They love me. But, here, there is nothing for me. Except maybe Benjamin, but she's a griffin."

"Is there something wrong with griffins?" Silas asked, glad he had already spooned out a cup.

"No, not at all! Don't get me wrong, she's wonderful company. Just not in the way I need."

Silas decided that it was best to leave that conversation there. He had absolute zero interest in what kind of attention Zechariah claimed to receive from 'his women'. His eyes wandered back to the crowd, unconsciously scanning for another one of his friends. "Silas! Why aren't you listening? I need an ear upon which to unload my bitchery!" Zechariah exclaimed, showing his mouth right next to Silas' ear.

Silas jumped half a foot in the air; he had not noticed that the ghoul had continued to talk as his eyes had turned away. "Pardon?" he asked absentmindedly.

Zechariah narrowed his eyes at him, peering. "Are you-" he began, before squealing erupted from the crowd before them. Both men turned their eyes to the writing mass. "They sound like bacon. I mean pigs," Zechariah commented.

Silas nodded, smiling as he replied, "Mil would appreciate that joke."

"Ah, Milkshake," Zechariah stressed each syllable, ending with a drawn out sigh.

Ignoring the continuous squealing, now accompanied by giggles, Silas glanced over at the ghoul. "Don't care for Mil?"

"It's not that I don't care for him..." Zechariah rolled his eyes, "It's just that I don't appreciate said individual making a certain comment as to the proportions of my-"

"Silas!" a voice yelled as a body rocketed into his own, making Silas stumble backward and fall.

Arms locked around his waist as he looked down to see ginger ears and hair, as well as the singular golden eye of his familiar. Pain once again rocketed up his spine from his tailbone. What was with people and falling on top of him? "Silas! Silas! Hi, Silas! Silas, Hi!" Mil crowed, his tail swishing violently as the werecat grinned happily- or devilishly- down at him.

"Mil," Silas muttered as girls of all sorts drew in close around them. They gave the impression of vultures descending on carrion. "Why aren't you wearing clothes?"

"I'm not just going to cart clothes around," Mil said, wrinkling his nose at the thought, "Do I look like a mule?"

"No, you look like a naked man dressed for a fetish convention," a girl's voice called from the mass as Zechariah grumbled, "Unnatural..."

Mil looked up and shot a wink in the direction of the voice as well as Zechariah. Silas rolled his eyes and shoved Mil off of him. The damn cat was going to get him expelled. Silas swiftly removed his turtleneck and tied it around Mil's waist before hauling the werecat up. "I told you!" Zechariah called as Silas led the werecat out and away from the ring of girls, "Now, ladies, if I could direct your attention to me..."

"That bastard's always stealing my thunder..." Mil grumbled as they marched toward the door.

"Stealing your thunder-? Mil, we have bigger things to worry about!" Silas hissed as people turned to stare at their passing.

Mil turned and gave him a look accompanied by a raised eyebrow. "Not that way!" Silas was immensely grossed out and cringed as they walked into the frigid school.

"Whoah, look at that!" Mil shouted, pointing and grinning form ear to ear.

Silas did not have to search long for the source of Mil's ecstatic yell. Before them stood a gigantic black dragon, at least fifty feet high with wicked looking teeth and spines stretching down the curve of its body. Its huge midnight wings were tucked in close to its body, and the massive tail flicked about like a cat's. For once, Silas did not feel like a giant, in fact he felt like less that a dwarf next to this massive being. The bright blue lightening thrashing about the hulking figure did not help matters any, either.

The source of the lightening was quickly found out to be headmaster Zanthus, the pale face stretched in a grin similar to Mil's. While Silas could not pick out the words, he heard the headmaster yelling up at the dragon in his usual buoyant manner. The cane whipped around in occasional white circles. "Silas, look," Mil whispered to him, cupping his hand about his lips to Silas' ear, "It's a dragon."

"Really? I didn't notice," Silas managed to choke out as his arms crossed protectively around himself, partly from cold.

The room was filled with a dull rumble as the dragon replied via speech to the headmaster. While Silas cringed as the sound filled his chest cavity, Mil leapt up and down while his tail twitched uncontrollably. "Mil, what is wrong with you?" Silas murmured, rubbing his arms from the cold, "Also, aren't you freezing."

"Not when I'm this excited. My people and the dragon-born go way back," Mil did not take his eye off of the ebony figure in front of them.

"Well, that's great, but can we go?," Silas hissed, the chill bumps feeling like they were pulling his skin away from his flesh and beginning to hurt. He grasped Mil's arm once again and steered him to the men's dorm, "We both need full clothing or else Miss Ramsey will...do...something, I don't know."

"But...but Silas," Mil whined, nearly dragging his feet in apposition, "It's a dragonnn..."

Silas prayed Zanthus would not notice them, yet just as the thought crossed his mind, he heard the chipper voice call, "Not going to break one of my rules, are you, my dears?"

Silas froze, half literally, on the stairs. He felt like lightening had just paralyzed his legs...which in fact, it had. Pale blue- or, rather, aqua- lightening crackled about his ankles, rooting him to the spot. "Hi there, headmaster!" Mil called.

"Hello, dear kitty boy! How wonderful to see you, though I would much prefer you had clothing..." the voice lost a fraction of its entertained tone toward the end.

"I find clothing hard to keep up with, switching between cat and human. Clothing just doesn't want to stay on me," Mil replied, making Silas wish he could just dissolve into the floor. Better to be constantly stepped on rather than be in this room now, he imagined. Zanthus would surely be furious, right? Or, Gaea help them all, he agreed with Mil.

"Yes, well...I recommend you transform into this form before you come through the Portcullis next time, dear boy," Zanthus replied, thankfully.

"Who's the dragon?" Mil asked wistfully, blatantly ignoring Zanthus, looking up at the black figure. On that note, Silas sure wished he could turn around and not have the hulking dragon that could potentially breathe fire to singe his butt behind him.

"This here is Malcom, dragon-born and currently attending Patrikiya Academy," Zanthus introduced gesturing in the general area of the dragon.

"And he's mine, so back off, kitten," a familiar voice called.

"Hey, I wasn't planning on it," Mil said defensively, "Is that the fairy girl? Paige?"

"Yeah, hi there. Thanks for taking so long to notice me," ok, seriously, this was unnerving. Silas craned his neck to look around at the mammoth dragon, whom now peered down its snout at the two of them. He now noticed a small spec standing between the two huge blue eyes, fluttering ever so often in the unmistakeable flash of fairy wings.

"I'm sorry, you're just, what, three inches tall and on top of a fifty foot dragon?" Mil said.

Oh, hell. "I am five inches, thank you."

"You're welcome. Hey, Silas, can we skip the clothing and just hang here-?"

"No," Silas replied bluntly, yanking on the arm. He was freezing, freezing, freezing. Gaea, he was freezing. Why-

"Headmaster," Akira's voice rang from the right, making Silas jump, "Someone just came through...the...port...cullis..." Apparently, she just caught sight of Malcom the dragon, looming over Zanthus.

"Ah, yes, thank you, darling. Did you bring the ring for me like I asked you to?"

After a pause, Akira mumbled, "No, one moment."

As Akria walked quickly away, Zanthus returned his attention to Silas.

"Silas, my boy, why are you still half naked on the stairs?" Zanthus asked, his bright pale eyes slipping over to where he was still anchored to the stairs.

"Honestly, sir, I can't move," he gestured to his ankles, "Also, it's very cold in this school."

"Silas, it's like seventy five in here," Mil said with an eye roll.

"Seriously, dude, man up," Paige agreed.

"I'd offer to help, but I don't want to incinerate any of you..." Malcom grumbled apologetically. Silas detected an accent, possibly a Scottish one.

"No, that's alri- aiiie!" Silas began to say, before yelling as the lightening was extracted from his ankles.

"Terribly sorry, my boy, it tends to twinge a bit when I take them off," Zanthus apologized with a smile, "Now, go fetch yourself clothes."

"Silas, just so you know, I can see your nipples from here. They look like they're going to fall off," Paige announced.

"Thanks, Paige?" he replied before turning and scampering up the steps.

He had to drag Mil the entire way and ended up throwing the cat boy onto the bed while he practically dove into his bag, pulling on another turtleneck. As he extracted his upper body, he grasped a pair of pants and a shirt, tossing them over to Mil. "Please don't fight me on this," Silas pleaded as Mil gave him a look, "You're not a cat anymore."

"But I slept on these. Jeez, Silas, don't you do laundry anymore?" Mil sniffed the shirt and wrinkled his nose, "Does my butt really smell like that?"

"Yes, it does," Silas said as he sat at the desk chair and waited for Mil to dress himself. "You waved it in my face enough when you were a cat."

"I still am a cat, Silas."

"Thanks, I was having issues with that," he snapped.

"Silas, why is it called 'portcullis magic'?"

"What?" The question caught him off guard, yet he could not help but think, because you need to put your clothes on, as he rolled his eyes.

"Transportation magic. It's called portcullis magic." Mil cursed under his breath as he trust a leg through the pants.

"Yes. A portcullis is a gateway." Put your damn clothes on.

"But gates are meant to keep people out...why would you call a transporter a word that means gate?"

"Because in a portcullis, the gate can be lifted and allow entrance. Put. The clothes. On."

"The clothes are on. But then why not call it 'entrance' or 'door magic'?" Silas turned in the seat to glower at Mil. He sat there innocently looking down at his toes.

"Because...well...because damn it, we're wizards and we can't name stuff normal things people would be able to pronounce on the first time!" Silas yelled, throwing a glare at Mil. At least he was, indeed, dressed. Thank Gaea, because otherwise, Silas would have to choke someone, and Mil was the closest living thing. "And I'm fine, thanks for asking. School has been alright, the teachers are fine. I'm adjusting well, thank you for your concern, and no my sleeping schedule isn't completely fucked up or anything."

At this point, Mil began to say something, but Silas cut him off, "And, yeah, I have been worrying about you because I was afraid you would just show up one day in the halls stark naked and be lost in the school for hours and be discovered by Zanthus and be thrown out. But, no, you showed up a day late, still stark naked, in the middle of a school function, and people have been talking about me anyway, so no big damn deal."

Silas sat there with his chest heaving, staring heatedly at Mil. He had no idea where- no, that was a lie. He knew exactly where that had come from. He had been worrying for the past few days about Mil, and had no way of releasing the stress caused by the worrying and adjusting to being at school, away from what he was used to. Frankly, he was surprised that he had not exploded at Josh or someone earlier.

Mil sat with his feet together, his hands clasped neatly over the middle, staring evenly at Silas now. "Are you done?"

"Yes, I think I'm ok now."

"You sure the mantrum is over?"

Mantrum? Like a tantrum for men? Ok, Silas could dig it. "Yes, I'm sure the...'mantrum'...is over," Silas grumbled, narrowing his eyes.

"Now, what was going on when I passed through the door?"

"Portcullis. It was a school party thing...with a lot of people."

"Yes, I noticed. Now, since you've already told me how you've been- which I was going to ask you by the way, I'm not a complete ass about it- I've been ok, I've been traveling around the world, thinking and not knowing what to do with myself."

He paused, glancing back down at hsi toes before smiling back up at Silas, "Can we go back and look at the dragon now?" He sounded like a small child.

"Malcom," Silas corrected, not feeling too keen on going back to the giant fire-lizard. His mind kept returning to Mr. Hills, the salamander, who could possibly set fire to an entire room with one huff. He could only imagine how much fire the fifty foot dragon could produce. Absentmindedly, he shifted uncomfortably on his chair, his arse feeling twitchy.

"Yes, Malcom..." Mil's face took on a vacant look as he tilted his head slightly. Silas could almost see the wonder and excitement washing over his cat's face.

"How do dragons and were-cats...work, I guess?" Silas inquired, cupping his chin as he leaned forward, resting his elbow on his knee. Might as well hold him off as long as possible.

"Oh, well...my kind, were-cats," he gestured unnecessarily to his ears, "kind of see dragons as omnsicient, beautiful, dangerous, powerful creatures. Strong, flying, and deadly. The werecat...hierarchy..." he now looked uncomfortable, "Came in just after the dragons. Both species are a sort of...adviser and protection for the others. They have what we lack, in a sense- a stronger magical resonance, strength, endurance, et cetera. We were-cats, while incredibly quick, agile, and wise- I suppose- have very weak bodies. Dragons like us because we serve as messengers, once they reach a certain age where they are too large to travel without being seen..."

Silas quailed at the mere thought of Malcom, whom was probably only...twenty, at the oldest. He could only imagine how large a full-grown adult could be; he had only read facts and figures in books, yet had never come in contact with one until tonight. Dragons, like other magical beings, had either migrated to places humans could not live, like the bottom of the sea or the poles, or had turned to rune stones to take on a human shape and live on in peace. Needless to say, meeting Malcom today had been quite an eye-opening experience. A small curiosity now tugged at the edge of his mind about the dragon, and Silas stood, gesturing to Mil. "Want shoes?" he asked before turning to the door.

"Are we going to go talk to the dragon?" Mil perked up like a toddler promised candy. His eye shone, and a huge smile stretched over his lips, fangs poking over his bottom lip.

"Yeah, might as well." Silas said, "Again: do you want shoes?"

"I hate shoes. I like feeling floors with my human toes. Did you know you all have ten? It's so weird."

Silas lifted an eyebrow then proceeded out of the room. Milkshake followed close behind him, and Silas heard him borderline hobbling and offered his shoulder for stability. "I've got this," Mil said, shaking his head, "I just need your shirt."

"You have a shirt."

"The back of your shirt, Silas," Mil gave him a borderline condescending look as he grasped the fabric and pulled.

"...oh," sometimes, there was just too much going on in Silas' head for that thing called common sense.

Oh, Gaea, the draft was terrible.

Silas led the way down the hall and the stairs, and was relieved to see Malcom and Zanthus still standing in the main area. The thought of how the fifty foot dragon was going to maneuver the school grounds now puzzled him as he descended the steps carefully, making sure Mil would not fall. Zanthus had mentioned something about a ring...

"How nice to see you both with clothes," Zanthus greeted.

"Silas, you are one pasty man," Paige, whom now simply sat on Malcom's forehead, greeted. She looked quite dolled up for the party, dressed in her usual neon.

"Um...nice to see you up close?" Malcom added after a pause, lowering his gigantic head to see eye-to-eye with Silas.

Silas felt dwarfed, and cold. Mil was pawing his back in excitement, being so close to a dragon. "Mil, stop..." Silas murmured, turning to glower down at his familiar.

"Is that a were-cat?" Malcom said, his large midnight-blue eye snapping and roving over the thin frame of Mil.

"Hi there, I'm-" Silas could not understand what Mil said, and assumed it was the werecat language. He concentrated hard on the barrage of mewl and guttural growl sounds emanating from the short man behind him. This was Mil's actual name...and it simply sounded like a couple of alley cats growling at each other. Silas decided that perhaps calling Mil by his actual name would be futile, as he could not even hope to start memorizing, much less vocalize, what he was hearing.

"...but you can call me Mil," he ended with a smile and reached out a hand and gliding it over the scaly brow before him.

It lifted in surprise and the head drew back. "One of the family's here, eh? I thought you were supposed to be in-"

"Yeah, well, those plans changed," Mil interrupted quickly. "Circumstances arose, and I found Silas, here, and things just kind of clicked."

Mil was supposed to be somewhere? And what did he mean, he had found Silas? Had Silas not found him, covered in a milkshake, on a balmy day in an alley? Silas looked at the back of the ginger head. He became aware that the blue eye was once again upon him and met the gaze. The color struck him suddenly, the curious chiaroscuro of blues.

"Silas, stop coming onto Malcom," Paige's voice cut through Silas' contemplation of the kaleidoscope iris.

He glanced up and saw her now laying down and glowering at him as she possessively stroked the scale in front of her. "Easy, I'm not going to-"

"Paige, dear, that tickles," Malcom cut through, lifting his lips in a dragon-like smile.

Paige's attention was immediately taken from Silas as she smiled and continued rubbing the scale, except more intensely, "Yeah? What're you going to do about it, huh?"

Malcom shook his head, chuckling deep in his belly, "I'll discharge you from my face, is what I'll do."

"Good luck, dragon boy," Paige was heard giggling.

Silas smiled and glanced over at Zanthus, whom held a large rune stone in his hand. He was actually frowning, perhaps because no one was looking at him. All mirth was gone from his face, his eyes now two white stones framed by white lashes in a white face. He, in all terms of the word, looked quite intimidating. Silas was now aware of just how tall and powerful this Mancer was, despite his usual gay attitude. Lightening streaked over whatever visible pale skin there was like veins, throbbing, perhaps, in time with his heart, and leaping about like some crazed and deadly animal. The rune stone danced between Zanthus' fingers, faster and faster. The eyes slowly turned to Silas and the smile spread immediately back over the pale face as he said, "Akira's having a hard time finding what I sent her for. Can''t trust young people these days."

The eyes remained as stones, flat, inexpressive and unnerving. Silas gave him an uneasy smile then turned back to the dragon and Paige, as the ground had shook with a thrash of the humongous tail. Paige was now full-on attacking Malcom it took Silas a moment to realize that this was a tickle fight and that Malcom could not do anything to Paige due to her miniscule size other than try to dislodge her. Even when he succeeded, she would simply fly right back to him and begin again. Malcom's scales glittered brilliantly like a million little stars and it was quite a spectacle to see the light dance off of them in waves as the dragon moved about. Upon closer inspection, Malcom's scales were not pure black, but a very dark brown with an astonishing amount of iridescence. Like gems just over dirt.

"Ah, there you are! I was beginning to wonder if you had gotten lost!" Zanthus said suddenly as Silas felt a chill run down his spine.

The group turned to see Akira walking smoothly toward them, her long tresses pulled back into an intricate braid. In her hands, she carried a dull cylinder of metal. If the headmaster counted this as a ring, what did he call a gauntlet? Silas found himself wondering as he mentally analyzed the object. "Headmaster, you were sending me rune-texts the entire time," Akira said with a mildly irritated undertone as she handed Zanthus the metal cylinder. Hie eyes were back to their normal brightness.

"Yes, well, you were taking for-ever," he said to her before turning to smile up at Malcom, after which she gave the back of his mullet a full-on death glare, "Paige, darling, now would be a good time to stop. I need to explain this to Malcom."

Paige stopped her attack of Malcom, whom turned his head to examine the metal object. Up close, Silas could see runes engraved into the metal, yet could not understand them. Perhaps it was another language of rune that he had not studied just yet. "This, my dear, is a ring that will help you maneuver the grounds a little better. Once this is on your ear," Zanthus paused and gestured for him to lean down, which he did, "It will change your size to better accommodate the room dimensions."

That is a neat trick. Wait, Malcom has ears? Silas peered more closely, and, sure enough, spotted a thin pair of elongated ears. Zanthus popped off two clasps on the cylinder and attached it to the ear, then said, "This will pinch," before closing it.

Malcom did not even bat his eye when the cylinder clamped onto his ear. Immediately, he straightened to his full height and looked around. "I, ah, assume I will not shrink in here," he said.

"That would be a correct guess, darling," Zanthus nodded with a smile.

"Where do you want me to go?" Malcom asked, "Where will I be rooming?"

"You are welcome to stay in one of the various caves we have outside," Zanthus gestured to where the outside area was, "Though, there is a school function going on, so you may want to wait until curfew- which is at eleven- to go pick one out. The rest of the school is open to you, though we would appreciate it if you would stay out of the classrooms right now. And the girl's dormitory. Our main rules are: no sex, no drugs, be in by curfew. I'm sure one of these two," he gestured to Paige and Silas, "Could inform you of the rest of the rules. Breakfast begins at seven and ends at about ten thirty every morning. A faculty member will contact you tomorrow at noon about your schedule."

Malcom nodded and smiled down at Zanthus. "Thank you very much, sir."

Zanthus clasped his hands behind his back and twirled his cane, turning to go observe the party. "Oh, one more thing, there is another student currently in one of the caves. I would...recommend to simply ignore him if he begins annoying you. He...very easily gets under the skin. His name is Zechariah, and he is a ghoul in the form of a hyena. I'm certain he is in the...third cave from the right. Ta~"

Malcom nodded and the group watched as Akira and Zanthus walked together to the outside area. "Oh, Zechariah," Paige sighed, cracking her knuckles, "He just makes me want to do violent things to a wall... "

"I know the feeling, except I more feel it to his face," Mil commented.

"Want to head to the party, Malcom?" Paige asked, looking down at the large eye just under where she stood.

The dragon became very tense, and his eyes grew alarmed. "No, thank you. I'm...tired from flying here."

"Alright, then, shall I give you the...grand tour of the grounds?" she offered instead.

Malcom blinked, considering, before answering, "Sure thing, little love bug."

Silas froze, staring up at Paige. He hoped for Malcom's sake that she did not have any sharp objects on her person, as she would clearly stab him.

Then she started laughing, and Silas breathed a sigh of relief. "Want me to come with you?" Silas offered, Mil also hopping up to accompany the dragon.

"No, I think I can handle this," Paige gave him a look, to which he smiled and nodded.

"Alright. Have fun, and follow the rules!" He called as Malcom began walking and Paige began talking.

Mil looked quite downcast as he avoided Malcom's tail and watched the two move away. Silas felt borderline sorry for the were-cat, then decided it was best to keep him from brooding. "So, let's go find Isabel or someone at the party..."

Mil looked him up and down skeptically. "You hate parties."

"Well...maybe I've decided to turn over a new leaf."

Another look. "Silas, it's been a week."

"A lot can happen in a week," he said defensively, "Leaves can be turned over in a week..."