((A/N: Yes, this is the next installment. Truth be told, I haven't been inspired because my muse went on vacation. The following chapter is a result of manipulation by the person that Lina is based on. See... I owe her money. And she'll charge me interest for each day this is not on fictionpress.com. She's very crafty... but, of course, I'm the one who agreed to it. And, like the selfless soul I am... I asked for nothing. I guess the satisfaction of saying that I've updated will be good enough. Or... more specifically... oodles of reviews will reflect my satisfaction. Yes.

Oh, also, a wonderful reader (Michael), when referring to my story, said that, "...I mean, I'm sure you've embellished a detail or two..." Just to insure the communication between the readers and me is perfectly intact, I'd like to say that... the characters based off of real people... aren't embellished in the least. Certain events might not have taken place, but I assure that I really am surrounded by insanity.

Finally, I would like to extend a personal apology to Hypatia, who was expecting this chapter much sooner. I highly recommend that people read her stories (especially "Caligo") because she -- like many others on this site -- is a very talented writer. Enjoy!))


The night air hung low and stifling, and the velvety blackness covered the land like a heavy drape.

The land of Sevrawd, home of the backwards little people, was completely silent. This was because the people knew what happened when the sun settled down for its rest. They knew that if one word was uttered into the inky blackness, they would come. They were the most feared on the entire continent of Elpoep. No one in his or her right mind would mess with them.

            On this night, the leader of the village made a dire mistake – he sneezed. Now, sneezing was entirely fine, but the leader's sneezes always sounded like the word "horses." Not being able to detect the difference, they came. They were cloaked, and the tallest (and the one clearly in charge) approached the village first. When the figure entered, it pulled its hood back to reveal… a gorgeous foreigner with a sexy accent who answered melodiously to the name "Brennan."

"Ugh… kill me now!" I complained while staring down at the notebook in my lap.

            This wasn't the first time something along these lines had occurred. Whenever I tried to concentrate on writing, Brennan would just... be there. And every time I started to resent him -- I couldn't.

            Yuki rubbed her nose and didn't respond to my outburst. She clearly didn't hear me; she was too enveloped in her book. You know... the one written by somebody. I glanced at Una, but she was too busy working on an art project to pay me any mind.

I sighed. I had no idea how the simple concept of "hanging out" turned into a literary/artistic work session, but... it did. I glanced at the empty desktop where my computer was supposed to be. Huh.

"I can't work like this!" I vented as I chucked the notebook into the dark recesses of my closet. Una snorted in response as she whipped out her Prismacolor© colored pencils, and Yuki was still too engrossed to hear me.

"Let's do something!" I said, poking both Yuki's and Una's foreheads at the same time.

"I am doing something," Una snapped. "This picture is due tomorrow!"

Well, yeah... I knew that. But our teacher was always lax with deadlines. However, Una was usually running behind, so I guess I could understand why she was trying to make it this time. I had gotten my picture done a couple days earlier. It was a nude sketch with the flare style of famous artist Paul Gauguin. But, of course, I didn't have karate class three nights a week or a 30-hour-a-week job at Rite Aid -- so it's obvious why Una didn't have that much time to do stuff.

            Yuki looked up from her book and pouted, "But this is a really good part!"

            Yuki had finished her picture the day it was assigned. And it was wonderful. She's that good. So now she was reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban... for the fourth time.

            I had read it a couple times myself, so... "Which part is it?"

            She grinned mischievously and replied, "When Sirius Black is--"


            Both Yuki and I looked at Una. She was staring at us and cleared her throat again.

"Oh yeah..." I started, "I forgot you haven't read it yet."

            Una was also the kind of person to pick up several books at once... but she had the tendency to not finish them. She'd been working on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for about eight months now. She'd get far into it, put it down, pick it up a month or so later, than have to start over because she forgot what she had read.

            I really should have just downloaded the audio version for her.

            "I'm outta here," I said while getting to my feet and stretching.

            I ran down the stairs two at a time and slid into the kitchen. To my surprise, my friend Haeli was sitting at the table across from Lina. One of Haeli's beautiful flower arrangements was in the center of the table.

            "Um... hi," I said slowly. "Did I miss something?"

            Lina shrugged. "I brought Haeli over."

I blinked and Haeli grinned while saying, "Lina kidnapped me. Good thing too. I was bored."

"Well, I'm off," Lina said with a sigh. "Stuff to do, people to see."

            "Wait... you're leaving already?" I asked. "But you just got here!" I said excitedly.

            "Actually Shae, Haeli and I've been here for an hour-and-a-half," Lina said through a yawn.

            I looked at Haeli, who grinned in response and nodded. I couldn't believe this!

            "Why didn't either of you… gee, I dunno… come up to say 'hello?' " I asked, slightly annoyed.

Lina sighed and unsuccessfully tried to pout, "…All those stairs…."

"Argg! You're kidding me!"

            "Nuh uh, Shae," Haeli said with a smile. "As a matter of fact, we were talking about that for, like, twenty minutes."

            "What horrible friends I have!" I shouted dramatically to the ceiling.

            "Besides," Lina added, still smiling, "Nathan knows we're here. We asked him to get you for us."

            "Yeah," Haeli said with a theatrical sigh. "We thought you just didn't want to see us."

            As if destined, at that precise moment, Nathan bounded down the stairs and into the kitchen humming a song, but stopped in his tracks when he spotted all of us.

            "Hey Shae," he said smoothly, "um... Lina and Haeli are here."

I loved my brother. I really did, and no one could suggest otherwise, but I was bored for a very long time when solace was downstairs sitting at my table!

            "Why on EARTH didn't you tell me, Nate?" I asked loudly while approaching him.

            I could tell he was trying to think of something witty to say, but he gave up and said, "Your room was too far away -- and I wanted to hear a song on the radio."

            "You were in your room... the one RIGHT next to mine?" I asked and he nodded with a playful smirk.

"You are SO DEAD! It might not be now... or later... but I will get my revenge!" I collapsed into a chair next to the table and sighed.

"Oh... hey Nathan..." Lina started, almost cautiously, "I'm heading to CosmicLand Comics. Wanna come with?"

            And now Lina wasn't inviting me to the comic book store? I looked up to protest, but the look she was giving my brother stopped me. She was practically embarrassed. I looked at Nate -- he looked the same as Lina for a split second, but recovered and said, "Sure, why not? Let me grab my jacket..."

            They left soon afterwards into the warm, October air.

            "Did... you just see what I saw?" I asked Haeli, was had a hint of a smile in her eyes.

            "Of course I did!" she said with a laugh.

            I tried to hide my shock and said, "Oh, really? I heard that really short people couldn't see much of anything -- except for knees and ankles."

            "Har Har... Roar! One of these days, Shae... we short people are going to fight you... you... tall people!" Haeli managed that with a laugh and I couldn't help but grin. I always made fun of Haeli's height. I couldn't help it! She was all-around lovable. She barely pushed 5' and she was just plain cute. She had a gray skirt and peach shirt on her tiny frame, and her sandy blonde hair was pulled back in a small, bobbed ponytail. She was 20 (as old as Danny) and people always mistook her for 15. I'd known Haeli since I was one and she was three, so we grew up together.

            "So, what's new, Haeli?" I asked in attempt to veer the attention from Lina and Nate.

            "Nothing much. But if I see another flower I'll kill someone," she stated with a frustrated smile. "Arranging flowers has sapped my creative energy. There's nothing left."

"But you're so good at it!" I was shocked. Oftentimes her teacher would let her know that she was the best student in his class.

            "But it's not fun anymore, Shae. I need something new..."

            "Do you have any idea what?" Haeli was so excited about becoming a florist...

"Dave's dad is going to set me up at his store. I'd be a..." she shuddered at the thought and said, "cashier."

            Dave was Haeli's fiancé and Dave's father owned a Kroger's grocery store in town.

            "Well... at least it's work, I guess," I said.

            "Yeah... now what was that exchange between Lina and Nate?" she asked with an unmistakable glimmer of mischief in her eyes.

I shrugged, and in hopes to forget about it, I commented, "I don't know. And I don't want to."


Nothing weirder seemed to happen between the two for the next few weeks, so I just dismissed the odd encounter. I was busy with my detentions and worrying about writing, and I finally finished my research paper for Rolly about fiction writers.

            In her class, on the day it was due (Monday), I was sure to hand her mine personally. I swelled with pride when she flipped through it and had no complaints. I had never worked so hard on a writing assignment. It ended up being 14 pages long with at least 22 different sources (almost all from reference materials -- not the internet).

            Everyone else filed into the room, a few with dark circles under their eyes (suggesting a late night of paper-writing). Yuki plopped into her seat and yawned.

"I've decided something Shae," she said, obviously tired.

            "What's that, Yucks, my love?" I asked while drawing designs on my hand with a pen.

            "I've decided... that Japan is dumb," she said bluntly. The pen in my hand slipped at her remark and ran a line of blue up my arm. "I mean... if it wasn't there, I wouldn't have had to do a report about it."

            "Yeah, Yucks. And you wouldn't have been here to write the report," I pointed out with a smile.

            "Darn your insidious logic, Lovey!" Yuki said, shaking her small fist at me. "I even had to miss Water Polo practice, she added sleepily."

            "Did you even get any sleep?" And my question was answered with a small snore. Yuki was asleep on her desk.

"She waited a bit too long, didn' she?" Brennan asked, while sitting in his desk and looking at Yuki.

"Yep. I'm guessing you didn't? You look like you're well slept... kind of," I said with a hint of cynicism. Lately Brennan and I'd become accustomed to random spouts of sarcasm. I never knew he had it in him.

            "And surprisingly so, ye do too, Shae. Yer tellin' meh that ye weren't up until dawn writing that paper?"

            "That's exactly what I'm saying Maguire! You can take that to the bank. I promise you." I winked and Rolly came over to our group of desks before starting class. She was decked out in a royal blue dress covered in electric eel-looking vines with large bumblebees in the background.

            "Brennan, I talked with your father last night and I need to discuss some things with you. Can you stay after class on Friday? I have meetings all week and that's the only day I have free," she said in a sickly saccharine voice.

            "Eh... sure. No problem."

            Rolly seemed very satisfied with herself and proceeded to begin class.


Within the next few days my detentions were over and my world was at peace again. Before I knew it, another week flew by and it was Monday again. Everything was going wonderfully! For a while, at least.

"Mornin' Shae!" Brennan greeted cheerfully as he walked to his locker.

"G'morning Brennan! Pleasant day?" I asked with a grin as I pulled my algebra book from the upper shelf of my locker.

"Was there ever any doubt? The sun rose in the East, I've been blessed to live another day, an' I got an 'A' on that killer paper in Rolly's class," he said with a wink.

My jaw dropped as I gaped at him. "Okay... how is it you got to find out? I thought that went against any... and ALL of her rules! She said we wouldn't know our grades for another month!"

"Well," he began as he placed his bag over his shoulder, "ye know how I had to stay after class with her Friday because of that conference with my Da', an' she asked how I was 'adjusting' -- "

"Adjusting? You've been here for a month-and-a-half!" I interjected with mock disbelief.

"--an'," he continued as if I hadn't spoken, "she offered to tell meh. So she did."

I snorted and shut my locker.

"It's just because you're cute and you've got an accent." I taunted, poking him in the chest. "You know what it really is, don't you?"

A smile remained on his face. "What?"

I got close to his ear and whispered, "Rolly's got a thing for you." Before I leaned back, I took in his nice scent.

I laughed and rested against my locker, watching his disgusted expression.

I could handle this. I could just enjoy his friendship and company. A crush was a stupid thing, and if something were to happen (and it wouldn't), everything could get ruined, and I wouldn't even have him as a friend.

"That's just sick, Shae! But now that ye mention it... she does 'help meh out' a lot, doesn't she? Now ye've got meh scared," he commented, shutting his locker.

I couldn't help but chuckle at him, but I couldn't think of a retort fast enough because Camden hurried up to me.

"Shae," she breathed, "I've been all over the school looking for you. Terrible news...."

Her eyes indicated great worry, and I looked at her questioningly.

"What's wrong, Cam?" I asked, trying to keep the worry out of my voice. When Cam took something seriously, it was important.

Her tiny shoulders were slightly hunched as she gazed at me sadly with her gray eyes. She lowered her voice a great deal and carefully said, "Derek's back."

My book suddenly felt like a ton of bricks, and I dropped it loudly, echoing slightly in the crowded hall.

"Tell me you're not serious, Cam," I managed. "Please tell me you're joking."

She bit her lower lip and averted her eyes. "I was just in the office and he was there. Apparently his parents got transferred back here... and... he even asked about you. I'm surprised he even remembered who I was."

I could barely hear myself, but I asked, "...And what did you tell him about me?"

"Nothing! Just that you still went here... and he looked relieved when I told him that."

"Derek?" Brennan asked thoughtfully, "Who's he?"

"He's just a random idiot," I mumbled as I grabbed my book from the floor. "I'm going to go to class."

For my first three classes I couldn't concentrate on any of my work. Mr. Lee had a field day with that in AP Chemistry and even made me stand in the hall after I couldn't remember how to balance a simple formula. I had other things on my mind...

Fourth hour rolled around, and I was tuning in and out to Rolly's lecture on iambic pentameter and other poetic devices.

I was staring at the blank piece of paper before me, for Rolly insisted we take notes, but I was too busy letting my thoughts wander. What was Derek doing back here? And why was I so upset? I should've gotten over what happened after two years, right? It just didn't make sense--


I quickly turned my face up to meet Rolly's scowl. By the look in her eyes, I could tell she'd probably called my name more than once. She glared at me expectantly, but I didn't say anything (I bet to her shock).

"Would you please grace us with an example of a traditional haiku?"

I couldn't stand that woman. What an attitude.

I suppose she thought she'd make a fool of me to ask me for one off the top of my head, but I had just read an accumulation of poems by Zander Mierz about a week ago, and one stood out in my mind.

"Wandering Samurai," I stated softly, "by Zander Mierz.

Birds chirp, the sun shines,

as he walks along, smiling,

sworn to save the weak.

Five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables. A traditional Japanese haiku."

I rambled all of this lifelessly while staring at her, and I think she was unnerved by my lack of conviction.

"Y-yes, well, can someone give me an example of a nontraditional haiku?" She asked while quickly shifting her gaze from mine.

"Miss Rolly? You're wanted in the office." I could hear Miss A's sweet voice from the doorway, but I didn't bother to look. I just watched my paper intensely as the clacking of Rolly's flat-heeled dress shoes grew further and further away.

"Shae, what is with you today?" Yuki inquired worriedly from the right side of me.

I almost didn't hear her, but I sighed, picked up my pencil, and began to doodle a faerie absently on the paper.

"Not a good day," I muttered quietly.

Just then some genius decided to open a window and a gust of wind sent everyone's paper flying off their desks, scattering on the floor. People let out moans of annoyance, and I glanced up to see Doug, the "genius." I'd known him since I was three feet tall, and he had always been a friend of mine. Sometimes he was irritating, though.

"Whoops! Sorry about that, folks. It'll just take me a second," Doug said as he struggled to pull the window shut. Eventually a person with actual muscles helped him out, and he sat down, slightly red-faced.

I sighed lightly and looked over the left side of my desk for my paper, and I realized it was in midair. Brennan's arm was stretched, reaching over the vacant desk separating us, with my paper in hand.

I took it and met his eyes, which struck me because they were full of concern. Over me? I smirked internally.

'Yeah right.'

I took the sheet, said a quick, "thanks," and turned away.

"Alright people!" Rolly exclaimed as she entered the room. "We have yet another student in our class. He's-- Say... where'd he go?"

My stomach churned in fear as I looked up to find Rolly gazing out the door expectantly.

'Okay Lord...if it's not Derek, I'll definitely become a pastor. I PROMISE! I'll even write it down to rememb--'

A guy walked slowly into the classroom. Or was it more of a strut?

His sandy blonde hair was much shorter than I remembered it, gelled up, so it was spiky, and his exquisitely hazel eyes peered out from behind stylish, oval, wire-framed glasses. His face, which always was blemish-free, was the same: chiseled features, but yet still a soft enough complexion so he would be allowed to age with grace. He finally grew into himself, too. Last I saw him, his hands, feet, stomach, and ears were far too big for the rest of his body, but now he was considerably taller, much more toned, and very tan. He was wearing a red Polo shirt and beige Dockers, and he looked all-around fabulous.

I loathed him.

His looks wouldn't make up for how horrible he truly was.

"This, class, is Derek Weisenburg. Derek, would you like to come up and tell us a bit about yourself?"

Rolly was gushing again. Ugh... couldn't she find guys her own age?

"I'd be glad to," he said, flashing a now flawless smile (before, he had a slight over bite and a crooked smile) as he strolled to the front of the room.

I took note that his voice had changed and become much deeper, too, and that many of the girls in the class were just staring at him -- much like they did when Brennan first arrived.

I fought the urge to avert my eyes, and I just gazed at him with a bored expression on my face. I set my bent elbow on the desk while I propped up my head and rested my chin on the palm of my hand.

"I used to live in the area, and I went to this school, but then my parents got transferred to California just before the end of freshman year. They were transferred back, and here I am," he finished with another award-winning smile.

"Well," Rolly grinned (which made her appear as if she was in pain), "we're glad to have you! Take that empty seat between Brennan and Shae, and we'll continue with the lesson."

I glanced at the vacant seat next to me in alarm. This was cruel and unusual! He sat down and glanced at me. I refused to look at him, though.

Rolly continued with her fascinating lesson.

"Hey Shae..." he started softly, "how've you been?"

I smirked at the desktop. "Fine."

"...Can I talk to you after class?"

I sighed and faced him. "No. You can't."

I wasn't going to fall for any of his deceit. Sure I was bitter, and I should have let bygones be bygones... but I'm pretty sure anyone would have felt as hurt as I two years ago, and still feel the effects of it later.

Class ended about ten minutes later and I stood up as the bell rang. All the other students, including Rolly, filed out speedily for lunch, but a voice hindered me.

"Shae, really, I--"

"Leave me alone, Weisenburg," I warned as I glared at him. "No matter what you say, I'm not going to believe it. Seems ironic, don't you think?" I added.

He looked at me pleadingly. "But if you'd just listen..."

I was about to reply when I heard Brennan's voice.

"Look, Shae doesn't want to talk to ye. Didn' ye hear her?" He said while standing next to me.

Derek sneered and turned to Brennan, sizing him up. "This isn't any of your business, is it?"

Geez... I was feeling suffocated at the amount of testosterone around me. Derek was pestering me, and Brennan was "defending me" or whatever. All I wanted to do was go eat lunch or get a good swing at Derek without risking expulsion.

"O' course it is," Brennan retorted heatedly.


Brennan seemed to be contemplating his possible answer, but before he could say anything, a voice chimed in.

"Because Brennan's Shae's beau!" exclaimed Yuki from behind me.

I didn't even realize Yucks was still there. I thought she would have gotten out while she still could.

"What?" I asked looking behind me.

She was grinning and enjoying every moment of the stupid predicament.

"Ay! S'right." Brennan replied, placing his arm over my shoulders and gently pulling me close, "We're seein' one another."

'If only...'

I would've been so happy, being so close to him... like everything was going to change and angels would sing as a single ray of heavenly light broke through the clouds and shone down on us... but I was much too annoyed with Derek, AND I was late for lunch. All of the lines would be at least a mile long after our hesitance.

"Is that true, Shae?" Derek looked almost distressed as he asked me.

Time to play along.

I wrapped my arm around Brennan's waist and stared defiantly at Derek. "Shocked I was able to get over you, Derek?"

He was speechless, so I stepped away from Brennan and grabbed the hand that was over my shoulders. "I'm hungry. Let's go to lunch... DEAR," I added loudly.

I stormed out of the room, leaving Derek there to sort things out (if he ever could), with Brennan close behind. Yuki followed, laughing really hard.

"Priceless," she managed, "just... priceless! You're so great, Lovey!"

"Yeah, you're okay, too, I guess," I said as I flashed her a smile and our paces slowed. I felt a lot better after I got out of Derek's presence... and the best part was that, though I had taken it while I was angry before, Brennan's hand was still holding mine as we walked. He either didn't really notice... or he didn't mind.

As we rounded the corner leading to the cafeteria, Una strode over to us.

"Hey guys! What took..." she glanced at our joined hands and smiled at me, "you?"

"Well," Brennan began, "that Derek guy showed up, and now Shae an' I have to look like we're goin' out. Sounds foolish, I know, but if it gets him to back off... ye know."

Una's face fell slightly in disappointment and she looked at me.

"Yeah," I agreed forcing myself to smile, "you should've seen his face."

So that was it. Brennan was just being kind, looking out for me. He was being a good friend, and that was all. My heart sank as I felt his touch under my fingers. Of course he was aware his hand was still there. This was all just an act.

I began to feel very self conscious of Brennan's hand and I regrettably took mine from his. He looked at me questioningly, but I kept the forced smile.

"I should go to the choir room. I really need to practice my sight reading. I got rusty over the summer and all."

In other words, I wanted to run away.

"But Shae," Brennan argued, "ye said ye were hungry. Sumthin' wrong?"

"Course not!" I exclaimed with an obviously false, high-pitched laugh. "See you guys!"

I rushed off without as much as a glance back.

((Warning: Because I am not entirely happy with this chapter, I may modify it in the future. I'll give you guys notice, though. I might expand it or something, but the major ideas will remain the same. Okay.... just wanted to let you know.))

Now = Review Time! Huzzah!


© Elek Devlin