Chapter Five

I found Linden upstairs in our room. He was laying on his bed with the upper portion of his body propped up by some pillows, reading a book. I initially thought to look for him in class, but when I did, of course, I couldn't find him. It was Ffion, then, who told me he had returned to his room when I had found her in the hallway heading back from class.

I need to put some sort of tracking device on him or something...

I held the tea out to Linden, standing by his bed. "Here's your damn tea."

He reached for the cup. "Thank you." He put his hand onto a bit of mine in the means of grabbing the cup. It was purely by accident, I knew, and I knew he meant nothing by it.

But for some reason... I wasn't letting go.

"B-But... Y-You might not want to drink out of it..." I said.

My resistance seemed to have caught him off guard, and here we both stood, surprised by my protest. My red cheeks just added to the clause...

He raised those blue eyes to me in inquiry. "Why not?"

God damn, it was pressuring. I don't want to admit it, but I guess I'll have to...

"B-Because, I... Well, I... I-I kinda drank from it..."

"You drank from it?"

"Yeah, I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking, and... And I guess it just kinda slipped. I'm sorry..."

Great. Now he probably thinks I'm gross or something... But then again, he's kissed me three times before... And yes, I'm counting because that's how much of a creeper I am...

But instead of commanding me to retrieve a new cup of tea, he just laughed.

Wait.

He... He laughed?

"You're adorable..." He said after his fit of chuckles. "You know what that is, don't you? It's an indirect kiss."

Embarrassed by his whole response - the laughter and all his remarks - I turned my head from him in sad attempt to conceal an even redder face. "I-I know that!"

"And yet, just by knowing that you did it in your subconscious - must mean that you're unaware of your true feelings..."

"My true feelings? What the crap are you-"

He kissed one of my fingers - one among the rest that I had been using to clasp the cup with.

My heart pounded. The heat on my face burned.

If he keeps kissing me... I won't be able to... Resist.

"A-Ah..." I uttered quietly, unsure of how to respond. I drew my hand from the cup and partially from his hand, too.

I'm so stupid.

I have to change the subject.

"Wh-What are you doing up here, anyway?" I snapped, crossing my arms. "I thought you were going to class, you idiot."

"I was. But then I changed my mind."

My expression dulled. "Huh?"

What kind of idiot changes his mind?

"Classes don't start until eleven minutes from now. Heading to class now would only bore me until then."

"But... You're not doing anything up here anyhow."

He kept a gaze on his book, bored-faced. "... I'm reading."

"Y-You can read in class!"

He paused, left with nothing else to say but, "So?" after he sipped his tea.

God, he's so retarded...

I sighed. "Instead of reading, a better use of your time may be to clean up around here... Your room's a mess."

I glanced around his half of the room only to witness the horror of it all: a mess was made everywhere you looked. The messes ranged from scattered clothes, opened books, to cosmetics. I wasn't even sure which clothes were dirty and which were not...

Linden smirked at my remark. "Why do that when I can just order you to do it for me?"

My eyebrow twitched as I stared at him in annoyance. "... What was that?"

He stood from the bed and patted me on the head. "Clean my room like a good boy and we'll see about you going to the dance tonight."

"... The dance?"

He came to the door, almost to exit before turning back to me. "Are you in need of a suit or do you already possess one of your own?"

"I'm not... I mean, I don't... Have any other clothes, remember...?"

"Ah, that's right." His eyes trailed from me. "I believe I have a friend or two who could help you out. I'll see what I can do."


I waled out of class, examining a book.

Because of having to clean up that bastard's mess, I didn't show up to class until twenty minutes after ten. And when I got there, he didn't even have the decency to excuse my tardy as the teacher rampaged and chewed my brain out. He just ignored me the whole time, the bastard...

Whatever.

That book that he gave me that time at the library - has absolutely no title whatsoever. And what's worse is that it doesn't even have an author. It's a blue book with decorative, golden lining passing along the outer edges of it. There's not even a title or a name on the first page... But... The first page does read something... It reads:

Congratulations on finding this book. Please be aware that this book has no other additional copies and that you are holding the original copy in your hands right now. Any student who finds this book will be granted knowledge regarding the basic material of their enrollment in the Oran High Academy. In other words, you will learn how and why you were accepted into this school. It is assured that you will find answers to the most basic of questions of your enrollment. Any further questions henceforth must be found elsewhere in the library. Please understand.

- Anonymous

A book like this... Was obviously intended for readers of this school... It must be a secretive book if no other copies were made... And to question further: why is there only a limited amount of information compiled into this one book...?

My focus was disrupted when Persephone came to greet me: "Linden told me to tell you he found a suit for you. No payments necessary, thank you."

I raised my head and eyes to her. "He did?" But as soon as I did that, she was already walking away. She was carrying a loaded trash bag over her shoulder (like she was freaking Santa Clause or something...) "What's in the bag?"

"Wouldn't you like to know?" She paused. "It's a dead body."

"A-A dead body!" I panicked.

She forced a smile. "Heh, no. But I wish it were Linden's dead body..." She muttered.

I felt relieved, also pushing a smile. "Eheheheheh... I know what you mean..."

"You see," she began, "Linden comes from a very wealthy family so a 600 dollar suit is worthless to him."

"A... A 600 dollar suit!"

"And because the spoiled brat is so spoiled," she continued, "I'm stuck with having to throw out his garbage..."

"Wait." I paused. "Linden's really that rich?"

"He doesn't like people to know about it, but yes, he's very rich."

Well, I guess that would explain his tea addiction and his fancy use of vocabulary... Okay, maybe I'm being stereotypical here... But...

"Who got him the suit? His parents?"

"Yup."

"And you're throwing away a 600 dollar suit just like that?"

"Hey, I'm not throwing it away; I'm giving it to someone in need!"

I stared at Persephone, surprised by her response.

She saw me and blushed. "What?" She averted her eyes, embarrassed. "Don't give me that look. I do this sort of thing all the time."

Persephone's actually... I very kind person... I misjudged her before... But now...

I smiled. I was happy just knowing that.

"No, I'm just glad. I just thought... You were one of those people..."

"One of those people? What exactly do you mean!" She snapped. "Here, give me this!" She ripped the book from my hands and flipped through its pages, still blushing. She grew quiet, stopping on one page in particular. "... It seems... Linden has taken a liking to you..."

I was staring at her again.

She returned the book to me after gazing at it for a while and then crossed her arms very child-like. "He never used to help me out like that..." She mumbled.

"Huh?"

And then... Her expression saddened with her cheeks turning a brighter red than before. "It's because... I can't bring myself to tell him... That I..."

"... Um..."

"Arrgh!" She pointed an accusing finger at me, flustered. "You! Just forget everything I said! Okay? Y-You didn't hear a thing!"

"... Okay..."

"Good bye!" She whipped around, pressing the trash bag closely to her chest as she began to leave.

"... Hey, Seph?" I called out.

Her pet name... Jeez, am I really using that...?

She looked back at me, perplexed, probably wondering if she heard me correctly.

I put on an awkward smile. "I can help you find someone to take that suit if you'd like."

About an hour passed by. We skipped the next class in search of anyone in need of a suit. I think she wanted to thank me in the end, but instead... It just resulted in an insult.

I wonder if she always insults people she likes...


Mid-afternoon.

Is this what it's going to be like everyday? The repeated action of waking up and walking to and from classes, and then to bed? That's a very lonely way to look at it...

Should I try to find a way to get out of this school? Maybe if I negotiate with whomever's in charge, just maybe... I can get out of here.

I stepped foot into my bedroom, catching eye of Ffion, who was reading a paper in hands. She raised her eyes to me almost instinctively and held the paper out to me. "It's for you. It's a letter from your mom."

"What? Really?" I took the paper from her, anxious to read. Anxious to read this:

Honey, I'm so proud of you. Being accepted into such a high-privileged school must mean a lot to you, as it does to me. When hearing that you were transferred into such a school, I hardly knew how to react, but of course, I was glad that you were. No words could possibly describe how happy I am for you. Keep up the good work, and I hope to hear from you soon!

Love you!

- Mom

I raised my eyes from the letter. "hey, how come," I started to ask, but Ffion was gone. She had to have left sometime during my read. I paid it no mind as I came to my bed, noticing a suitcase laying atop it. I opened it to find clothes, a toothbrush, and other essentials alike... And then I found a sketchbook. My sketchbook. I flipped through its pages, closing it just as soon as I opened it. I stood staring at I don't know what. And all of the sudden... I felt very strange...


I walked down the corridor, heading to my room. Classes were over. The night was here. I read on my way.

"Aiyeeeh! Get off of me, you jerk! Asshole! Bastard!"

I heard a woman's shrill cry coming from the room to the right of me. I went to go investigate.

Inside the room was Persephone laying on top a bed. And sitting on top of her was Linden, straddling her against her will. He seemed to be enjoying himself as he meant to apply some sort of purplish lipstick to her face. "Hold still," he said. "I'm only trying to make you look pretty for the dance."

"No you're not! You're going to ruin me, you prick!" Persephone screamed and shoved, trying hard to free herself as Linden approached her.

"Ruin you? How could I ever ruin such a pretty little face?"

"Linden! You better not! Get off of me this instant!"

"Hmm... On second thought, maybe I should use green instead. What do you think?"

"I think you should get the hell off me!"

Linden rose to his feet and withdrew a green-colored lipstick from a drawer to a nightstand. He contemplated his options as he weighed the two colors (purple and green) before his face, eyeing each one carefully. "Green or purple... Which one is a better choice...?"

"I'm not going to answer that!" Persephone lifted herself from the bed only momentarily before she flopped back down again. Maybe Linden had her controlled?

She sighed heavily. "You know... The dance starts in twenty minutes..."

"I know, which is exactly why I'm giving you a make-over now." He examined the two lipsticks again, at last revealing his decision: "No matter. I'll just use both."

Persephone's attention was drawn to him at once. "BOTH?"

I had to step in and ask: "Umm, excuse me," I started, "but I heard the dance starts in twenty minutes... Can either of you two tell me where to go?"

The two glanced to me in haste, projecting bored-like stares at me.

A spark set flare in Persephone's eyes as she was the first to make her speech: "Ah, Odhran, it's so good to see you. We're friends now, right? Would you mind doing me a favor and pulling me off this bed? I'd be very grateful if you did..."

Linden shot up to the remark. "What the-? Odhran, don't listen to her! Get out of here, now!" He seemed reasonably mad.

"Arrgh! Shut up!" Persephone snapped at him.

I just stood there, clueless to the whole event. "Umm..."

"Anyway, don't pay any attention to him, Odhran. Just listen to me and pull me off this bed. Please?" Persephone pleaded me with with daring, brown eyes, glazed in red.

Those eyes made me feel weak, and soon, I was giving in to her demise, blushing without control. "Ah, umm... Okay..." I approached her with a narrowed head as I took hold of her body. Linden was glaring, unhappy to the whole outcome of the event.

"That's a good boy," Persephone encouraged me. "Now, nice and steady, and-"

I pulled her from the bed without much thought or control over the matter, well fixed in a daze.

She dropped to the floor.

She raised a fist at me in anger. "Hey! Can't you be more gentile? I'm a woman, not an object!"

Linden sipped his tea, agitated. "Says who...?"

I suddenly awoke from my spell, looking all around me. "Huh? What just happened?"

Persephone stood and brushed herself off. "Linden can tell you where to find the ballroom. It's about time he gets off his lazy ass and does something for a change..." She walked out of the room.

Linden exhausted a sigh. "First, we need to dress you in your proper attire," he told me. "Then I'll show you to the ballroom." He began his leave. "Come."


Adjusting my tie, I came out; out from the bedroom to meet Linden who was awaiting me patiently. He had his arms folded and his back pressed to a wall when he raised his eyes to notice me standing there before him.

"Are you ready?" He asked.

"I'm ready..." I said.

"This way, then."

He led. I followed shortly afterward.

He was quiet. I kept waiting for him to say something - anything - but all I got was nothing. It was a little awkward, to say the least. Well, it was for me, anyway... I started to wonder just what he was thinking.

Time ticked by. We only kept walking. I contemplated on what to say, what to do, as I sneaked small glances at his face every so often.

And then... I felt a warm hand grab my own. It was his hand. An involuntary blush crept its way to my face as I bowed my head in hopes to keep it hidden from sight. "Ah, umm..."

Damn it. This is really uncomfortable... I think my hands are gonna start sweating... God, I hope not...

In the midst of my panic, Linden spoke up to remark, "You're quite tense, aren't you?" with a smug look taking form on his face.

I immediately ripped my hand from him. "N-No!" I crossed my arms, tossing my head away from him. "You shouldn't go and hold people's hands randomly like that! It's creepy!"

"It's not anybody's hand. It's Odhran's hand."

I blushed more, watching him carefully. "Yeah, whatever. It's still creepy."

He returned with nothing as he continued his smile. It was a wonder how he could be that much more attractive whenever he smiles... It killed me.

There came silence again. Only this time, it wasn't as awkward. I had to say something, so I did:

"Persephone told me that you were rich. Is that true?"

Linden first responded with a sigh, and then said, "That woman will do anything to get on my nerves... When did she tell you this?"

"Earlier today - when she told me of that suit you found for me."

It wasn't much of a reply, nor did it sound like he put much effort into it, but he merely replied with a "... Hm." And that was it.

I waited a bit for him to say more, but he didn't, so I went on to say, "Why does it bother you so much?"

"Because... It deals with my own personal affairs that others shouldn't-"

"No, I'm not talking about that. I'm asking why it bothers you for people to know why you're rich."

"... Because... I'm not any better than anybody else. People always assume that if one is rich, then one is of a higher status than their own. But in reality, we're all just the same..."

That was a true statement. I couldn't argue with that. And to be honest, I was actually a bit surprised to hear him say such a thing, when I knew of how selfish he can get. Well, I guess if he really means that, then he's not that selfish after all... Still, that's still no reason to throw a 600 dollar suit away... If he was that thoughtful, then he would have been generous enough to give it to someone in need... He could have just made up a lie, saying that he just found the suit, or something...

As I thought that, I happened to lay my eyes on Linden's tie that was strangely tied in an awkward fashion. I pointed that out to him:

"Oh, you're tie... It's all messed up."

"Oh, it is?" He said, going about to fix his tie.

Well, he tried to fix his tie...

I watched him struggle with it for a good while before I finally interrupted, asking, "Haven't you ever tied a tie before? Here, watch me." I undid his tie and began to tie it the correct way. "You just pull it through here, and then..." I glanced up to see if he was watching, and he was. He was staring at me with some bored-like expression with flushed cheeks.

Was he... Was he embarrassed? Or maybe... He was angry?

"Ah, umm... I'm sorry. Are you mad?" I asked. I then frantically went to go undo his tie. "I-I'll undo it if you'd li-"

Before I knew it, my wrists had been firmly gripped and pulled above my head and Linden was kissing me on the mouth.

My eyes widened.

When he was finished, he pulled away, leaving me with a beet red face.

"I'm fine," he answered at last, like nothing had even happened. He took my wrist once more to lead me again as we proceeded to walk again, avoiding eye-contact with me. "The dance is going to start any minute. We must be hurrying."

I couldn't stop staring at him.

"Ah, okay," I replied.

And I couldn't stop my heart from pounding violently.