AN: Okay, first of all, i apologise for the wait; i don't even have an excuse, i just couldn't be bothered to write :D But anyways, i'm back now, with this chaper and then 2 1/2 others, so upload should be pretty quick this week :) enjoy..

Chapter 7

I couldn't get back to sleep so I went down to breakfast at six o'clock. I wouldn't have gone down to breakfast at all if Leila hadn't come knocking, well, knocking is a mild term for it; banging the door down may have been more suitable, at ten to six, Dylan standing unhappily next to her.

Apparently she woke up at twenty to six. I tried to tell her that I wasn't hungry but it is really hard to say no to Leila.

"You have to eat something!" she says, looking at me as if I'd just said that I'm going to try jumping off the empire state building for my birthday, or as if I said I was going to walk to the top of the Eiffel Tower to see what Paris looks like at Christmas,

"Someone told me that they only give you the food you need and that isn't very much. It's because of all the infiltrating and stuff you have to do on missions where you have to get in with the main subjects who live in hiding, and they hardly ever get food. It's all preparation. If you make it through your AC, you'll be ready for anything,"

So Leila dragged Dylan and me down to the food hall.

"I tried to tell her I didn't want to come down yet as well. Do you know what she said?" Dylan asks me in a low whisper so Leila won't hear, "She said 'so you can do the dibs thing and end up cleaning the gym closet for a week, but you can't walk down to breakfast so you won't starve for five months?' Who does she think she is?"

I decide to make a joke out of it, seeing as we won't get many laughs over the next five months, "She thinks she's Leila Stratford, and she's you're worst nightmare!" we end up in fits of giggles and we annoy Leila even more by not telling her why we're laughing.

So I'm dragged down to the cafeteria, and I try to force down some food, without taking much interest in what I'm eating. I manage a slice and a half of toast, and I'm struggling to keep even that down. Kerry comes down at ten past six.

"You really should eat a bit more," she says, looking at my remaining toast crusts with a disapproving look, "you know they give you…"

"Hardly any food, I know!" I snap, finishing her sentence for her.

She looks at me, waiting for the apology she knows I'm going to give. Kerry's been like an older sister to me the past few weeks.

She's helped me with my martial arts, when Leila and Dylan have been too tired or too busy with homework. Or too afraid that I'm going to woop their backsides!

She's talked to me when there wasn't anyone else who'd understand. She's made me laugh when I needed cheering up.

"Sorry," I say, tucking my hair behind my ears, "I woke up early. I didn't get enough sleep. I blame it on Helen and her stupid party!"

Leila puts her spoon down into her empty bowl. "You know you shouldn't get stressed. It'll only make you more tired." She says matter-of-factly.

I look at her, annoyed, "How-are-you-staying-so-calm?" I say in a desperate voice, "thinking about the next five months is all I've done since I woke up this morning. And it isn't helping my stress levels, I can tell you that right now!" she smiles at me. Now I'm really annoyed.

"You just answered your own question." She says, "you're only thinking about the next five months. I've been thinking about the weeks, the months, the years, after. They are definitely worth five months."

I slump down in my chair. She's always right about things like this. Which makes her an amazing friend.

"Yeah, I get that now." I turn to face her, "why didn't you tell me that earlier?" I say, trying my best to sound angry. But happiness creeps in without permission, and we end up laughing our heads off, Dylan included.

The big clock on the wall in the hall was edging closer and closer towards half past six. I couldn't sit still, despite what Leila said about thinking about what is coming up after the next five months.

I was out of my chair pacing around the table before it had even reached quarter past.

"Would you sit down?" Dylan says, after I'd paced around the table at least ten times. I collapse into a chair, but continue to bounce up and down.

"I'm going to sit on you if you don't just sit still!" Dylan threatens. I smile at him and see his glowering face darken from across the table.

"I'd like to see you try!" I retort. His face darkens even more. It's actually quite scary.

By the time we get to twenty past six, I'm surprised no one has tried to sit on me. I've bounced up and down, stood up and sat down again and done cartwheels aroundthe room but I guess they're letting me get it out of my system. Kerry leaves at quarter past six to go and run a few laps before lessons. She wishes us all luck, which I'm pretty sure we're going to need.

We leave the food hall at twenty-five past. There are only nine of us doing our AC this time which is bad news for us because the teachers can keep an eye on us just that little bit easier.

We aren't the first ones there but we're not the last. Three girls have already arrived, Lucy, Jemma and Alice, and are chatting quietly by the gatepost.

Leila launches into one of her detailed 'strategy' lectures, insisting that we need to think about what we're going to do when it gets to the final task. I block most of it out. We can sort this out later. From the blank look on Dylan's face, he's blocking it out too. We've heard it all before, in so many words.

I concentrate on the other kids here instead. Us obviously. Three boys, Carl, Harry and James, then the girls.

Then, my attention turns to the actual training area; it's empty. No signs of life. Not even grass. Just mud, and dust and a lot of wood that looks like it's been thrown together at the last minute. Then I notice something else.

Nothing's changed. But there is something so small that you would only see if you were looking really carefully.

I walk up the gate, supposedly locked, leading into the compound. I stare hard at the bolt holding the gates together, then and the bolts in the ground holding them in place. I was right, not for the first time.

"Leila, Dylan, come see this." I call over my shoulder.

Leila comes up behind me and says, "You didn't listen to a word I said did you?" and I turn round, grinning, and say "No. More important things on my mind. Look at the gate." I say nodding at it.

They both come round to stand beside me. Puzzlement crosses their faces as they stare at what they think is a dead end.

"I feel stupid, what are we looking at?" Dylan says after a while.

"Oh, come on, you can't see it?" I ask. When they don't answer I try to explain it to them, " we're waiting for the training Instructors, right? And they are supposedly going to unlock the padlock on the gate with whatever special kind of key thingy they have.

"But where's the padlock for them to unlock? The gates aren't locked, they're just bolted into the floor!"

What did you think? I left it on a bit of a cliffhanger, not a big one though :) Please review, i love feedback, feedback is in fact my best friend :) Hope you enjoyed :D