Witching Hour

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So the Drama!

The week once more was a slog. All the excitement was in Monday, which reduced the rest into a mundane droll. Minos and Marcy did not dare to show their faces in class. Come Thursday, even Norman stopped showing up. Marcy and Minos Samantha couldn’t care less -in fact, to her, Minos not being there put her mind at ease- but she felt gutted when Norman didn’t show. Knowing it was all her fault. The sad looks she gave when he thought he wasn’t looking, the grief that always accompanied it, in her mind and her words- even when she wasn’t addressing him in any way, she couldn’t help but feel that tinge of guilt, and that drove him from her sanctuary, from learning.

Ayn, of all people, offered to give him the notes from the days he missed, to tutor him, but that didn’t take the stone that had settled into her gullet, the pebble that became a boulder by Saturday “morning”. She lumbered to the restroom, once more giving tribute to her porcelain prince. She prayed that this would be the day the stone would be gone, that it would take with it all her loathing and anger.

Sadly, John wasn’t that giving. And wasn’t pleased that she thought he would. Her phone buzzed with a message, back on her bed. And it kept buzzing. She lumbered back to her bed, slumping into it, and wrapped herself in the blanket as she checked her cell and the flood of messages on it. All from Lola.

Sup, bitch? Finally awake yet? Ready to ride me?

Oh, right, she thought, grimacing at that screen. I forgot to tell them I was planning to stay in this weekend... She shook her head. I mean, am I still staying in? I don’t really feel like dealing with Marcy, if she shows up at all. But I did promise her a night in...

She groaned, and simply stared at her phone for the longest time. It tried to fade to black so many times, but Lola kept spamming that same damn message, buzz buzz buzzing away- but, thankfully, a new message shown. At last.

I know you are busy jilling to my books, but could you hurry? We’ve got shit to do, bitch!

Samantha rolled her eyes, shook her head, and heaved a weary sigh. I haven’t even had time nor the energy to read those... Maybe I’ll do that today. If Marcy doesn’t show.

Sorry. Just not feeling it tonight, she sent.

That’s just budding institutionalization talking. Come on! Let’s go have some fun.

I’m serious. I’m not feeling well.

>:( Don’t make me come in there and drag your slut ass outta bed.

Look! I told you. I’m not feeling it today. Okay?

No! It’s not!

Well, too bad.

Fine... but next week you are totes joining. Even if I have to drag you out by the short hairs on your crack.

Whatevs... Btw, thanks for setting all those alarms last week.

Eh? OH! HELL NO! I AIN’T TAKIN THE BLAME ON THAT. TANYA DID IT.

Really? You’re gonna blame Tanya?

Don’t let her fool you! She loves to play pranks! I watched her open your phone and set all those alarms.

It’s true. Tanya sent. I Did. :3

She just told me she sent you a message, saying I did it! Lola sent. OMFG. YOU HOES ARE GONNA BE THE DEATH OF ME DX

Lola is now ranting and bullying Tanya, Bridget sent. I don’t know what happened, but you aren’t coming with us tonight?

Not tonight, Samantha sent her.

Well, okay. Hope you feel better. We worry about you being down there all the time. Maybe tomorrow? A bit of fresh air will do a lot of good.

We’ll see.

BICH! YOU ARE COMING WITH US NEXT TIME! REMEMBER SHORT HAIRS ON CRACK, Lola sent, and it was the final one from them.

We’ll see about that, Samantha thought, tittering, and put down her phone as she simply... fell back into her pillows. She wrapped her blankets tighter, and simply... gazed at the stainless steel above. The lights dimmed away in the bedroom, but, since she left the bathroom open, they stayed on. Their lights seemed to make the ceiling ripple, matching that soft whining.

Time seemed to lose meaning in that warbling space. Meaning, itself, lost all its meaning. It was only her, that whining, the lights- and then her stomach. It growled, disturbing the known universe before her, and she was forced to leave the bed at last, dragging the stone in her belly to the fridge.

She looked at the milk, both regular and almond, in chocolate and normal, then at the case of yogurts. No matter how many times she saw them over the last week, as much as she loved them, she was not feeling those flavors anymore. Familiarity breeds contempt? Instead, she was wanting vanilla, strawberry-banana, or even the ones you could mix in sweets –normally, the ones she didn’t find all that appealing.

She opened the freezer at the bottom, gazed upon the slabs of bacon, the rolls of sausage, and even some sliced ham... but didn’t find nor have any sort of inkling to make them. It was kicked shut with the back of her heel as she made her way to the ice chest- but opted for the pantry further away. She didn’t even find the toaster pastries in there appetizing, but her stomach continued to fuss, demanding something, anything, if but to make the stone float.

So, she decided upon a s’mores-flavored pastry, a glass of regular milk, and returned to her bedroom and its desk, opening her laptop as she took a d-

Her door creaked open.

Samantha was about to tell Marcy that she wasn’t sure if she wanted to hang out with her when, instead, all words failed her. Her hunger faded, taking with it the colors of the room. Save for those pair of reds before a sweeping set of horns. She fell backwards out of her chair, heart racing as she scrabbled up on her bed, scrambling across it. She was heading for the restroom, but Minos simply stood there, hugging himself.

“Sam,” he said. His voice sounded utterly defeated, so soft for who he was, but it didn’t matter. Hearing him at all made her want to scream, but she held herself together enough not to.

“Go away,” she said, backing into the restroom. She gripped the door, the metal already starting to groan as silver rose from her hands. “Stay away from me.”

“Sam. Please.”

He took a step into her room, and the door shrieked. Metal spilled from it and flew across the room. But it didn’t remain solid. No, it splintered, thousands of times over, becoming smaller than finer nails. They all thinned out, becoming as long as the fingers they would adorn but so sinfully thin. A thousand, shimmering needles, pattering, ringing as they struck and stuck to the ground around his feet. Thin, molten metal dripped across each one, pulsing, daring him to take another step.

“Just go away, and stay away,” she whispered.

“Can’t I tell you I’m sorry?”

“I don’t care! After what happened with Norman-”

“Norman was the one that told me to come see you!” He huffed, his gaze darkening at the confession. “Really, I would have preferred to stay in my room until you were gone for good, but Norman pleaded me to come see you so that we may ‘bury the hatchet’. I mean, I call my schlong many things, but never occurred to me how fitting that is. After all, pussy is sometimes called a gash or an axe wound, so-”

“If this is your way of warming up to me, then you can just go.”

“This is my way of saying I want to move passed this.”

Samantha leaned her head against the wall, unsure whether to shrink behind it or send even more needles.

“I’m not sure I can... How do I know you won’t go berserk again? How do I know that it won’t only be Norman but any of the others next time, or even me?”

He recoiled a touch, as she winced at her own words. He seemed to double over as he pressed.

“I don’t know... I don’t even know why that happened. I smelled something... bad. Like really, really... really bad... and all I could see was... red. All that went through my mind was to tear, gore, eviscerate, maim, ravage, exterminate, destroy, DESTROYDESTROYDE-” A needle sunk into his shoulder, which pulled him out of his rant. He plucked it free, dropping it with the others before. “Thanks... but yeah. I simply wanted to... destroy whatever that smell was... and whomever or whatever was making it.”

Tears shimmered in his red eyes as he snorted, averting his gaze.

“If it wasn’t for Peter, I would have killed Norman... If it wasn’t for Norman, I would have killed you.” He shook his head, and took a step towards her again. He clasped his hands before him, and winced as he trailed over the metal, leaving blood on the carpet. “Please. Tell me, Sam. Who was that? What was it?”

“It was but a kiss, a peck on the back of my hand... from an elf.” She eased off the wall, sauntered through the room. Around him, circling him as he tried to follow. Needles flowed in her wake, trembling in the still air, waiting to strike if he did anything more than twitch.

She made a complete loop thrice, the needles only growing denser... then settled at her desk. The laptop whirred to life, mouse clicking away as she opened her browser, and started to type Minotaur when it auto-finished for her: Minotaurs and elves. Lilith...

“Now,” she blurted, humming, mulling through the search results, “unless you are from whatever mythical land Dragonlance takes place in, there doesn’t seem to be any reason why he was an elf was an issue.”

“But it has to be.”

“And why is that?” She spun around in her chair, glaring at him, fear replaced so easily by her anger thanks to the small armada that was ready to strike him down... then remembered something else Lilith said. Fuck! I’m not allowed t... If it comes down to it, my life matters more than this cowboy. Besides... “Maybe it’s because you think I am yours, your territory. Your property... And you got mad when another decided to show a bit of affection. Perhaps it’s because I don’t reek of you, and, if that’s the case, I’ve got some news, buddy. After what happened in the classroom, there is nothing between us. Zero.”

Minos scoffed. “That’s not it, either. Norman has touched you. Monica has. Peter, Junmei both shook your hand. It’s not another man, or another person, that caused it. It was because he was an elf-”

“Or an outsider to you in this metal box.”

Minos snorted, but knelt before her. It was so sudden, so quick, that a few needles loosed, digging into his back. But he didn’t care, nor seem to notice. Which stole all the color from the room again. Those fourteen points shined on his bronzed back, but he was too focused on taking her hands. The metal continued to close in, but he still didn’t even bat an eye as it scraped along his brow, his gaze locked into hers.

“Sam... please. Trust me on this. It was because he was an elf.”

She revolted and wrenched her hands free, holding herself tight... but refused to break that gaze.

“Then explain it to me. Why would the scent of an elf enrage you that bad?”

“I don’t know... Why don’t you ask Lilith, or maybe one of your friends? Maybe one of them knows himan history, but know this, Sam: I am not the possessive type. I may treat women like fuck toys, but I don’t claim any of them.”

“My, how progressive... You done?”

“I suppose... So... we cool now?”

“It’s at least down to a broil.”

“Oh good! That’s not far from being steamy again. Just how I like it.”

He winked as Samantha rolled her eyes, but was quick to stand and leave. A few more needles struck into his back, into his thighs- his arms- ANYTHING to get a reaction... but no. Even as she widened the tips, stuck deeper, he didn’t even twitch. The metal followed after, giving him plenty of... motivation to keep marching out and to his room, but now she knew. Even if he did show, it was all a ploy, an act.

The shards bonded with his door, sealing him in, and only then did some color return to her vision. Mostly red, at that. However, his visit had at least broken the stone free from her gullet, crumbling as she stood. The last of it gave one last rumble as she looked back at her laptop, at her search. Thankfully, it had only shown one of her searches with Minotaur.

Praise be to Incognito Mode, she thought, chuckling a little to herself, and heaved another sigh, taking with it the last of her fear-

With a fresh tinge added as a bright blur attached itself to her.

“Heya, Sam,” Marcy exclaimed, giggling as she let her go, but the harpy was still bouncing in place. Hidden in the plumage on her left arm were several DVDs, while in the right was a laptop and a projector. “Sorry I’m running a bit late, but I had to make sure the right movies were in their boxes. Where can I set this up? I was thinking across from the bed, but I don’t think you want us both on it –ooh! What about down in the classroom? We can carry the mattresses down, prop them up, and just hook my computer to the white board’s projector. It’s better quality, anyways. But then the others would notice –like Junmei! A coincidental date sounds kind of nice, but he’s hanging with Peter today-” She snapped her fingers, bouncing even more. “There we go! If we can’t hook you up with tall, dark, and horny, maybe you’ll have better luck with somewhat shorter, darker, and brooding?”

“I don’t think that would be wise,” Samantha grumbled. “To any of it. Especially Peter. Besides, he doesn’t like to deal with girls.”

“Ah, but maybe that’s because he hasn’t found the right one.”

“Good gods, no! Just... no! What is your fascination with trying to hook me up?”

Marcy gasped, and the DVDs clattered to the ground as she clasped her chest.

“You wound me! I am but trying to fan the flames of love!” You’re definitely trying to fan some flames. “There’s somebody for everybody, even in the darkest places on Earth.”

And I can assure you this is one of them. Sam simply shrugged. “I don’t really mind us sitting on the bed, but don’t you dare try to spoon or cuddle with me.”

“No fear there. One hundred percent straight.”

“Really? This is what I walk in on?” Monica exclaimed, growling as she plopped into the desk chair. Her wardrobe was sunny as ever, which it surprised Samantha just how many different, pleated skirts she owned... and not a single pair of underwear for any of them. Her tops only became harder to define as such as the weeks went on, with the Friday before little more than a few (faded) pasties. And not even in the right places. “Here I was hoping to catch you two about to engage in some naughty time and join in, but no. First thing I hear SLAUGHTERED my hopes. Massacred, hacked to pieces... This makes me a sad Monica.”

“What are you even doing here?” Samantha said. “I mean... what inspired you to come?”

Monica tittered, her cheeks glowing a bit red. “Well-”

“Here. To come here. To arrive at my room at this specific time. What catalyzed you wanting to check?”

“Oh, I heard Minos leave Norman’s and the stairs then heard something clatter and thought things were getting hot, so I bee-lined my way here –and yes, actually bee-line. I was slipping and sliding and bobbing and weaving all across that hallway. Seriously, why did they mop it today?”

“I didn’t have a problem,” Marcy said, and stuck out her black tongue at Monica. “Then again, I walked... but yeah. Sorry. That was me simply dropping my movies-”

“Wait.” Samantha blurted. “You heard the commotion and only arrived when Marcy dropped the movies? Did you see her, Marcy?”

“I did. She was slipping and sliding the entire time.”

“It wasn’t funny!” Monica whining.

“It was hilarious!”

“And here I thought about pleasuring you!”

“Please. Don’t. I can smell the diseases.”

“Ha! Jokes on you; Fangs can contract them!”

“Then they must have been before you were turned... Which, from your appearance, you must have been quite popular when you were a k-”

“What movies did you bring?” Samantha cut in again.

Monica’s mood, once so angry, completely switched, beaming and jiggling as she bounced.

“Yeah!” She squeaked. “Any good ones?”

“None that may pique your curiosity-” Marcy began, but was silenced as Monica oohed.

“They remade these?” She said, and sighed. “I remember seeing these when they were first made in the 50′s, 60′s, and 70′s. Tell me, how did they update the bank heist? There must have been far more to work around.”

“L... like you wouldn’t believe, though one of the weakest links is still how Ocean not only knew his torturer but the way through the building.”

“I mean, there were schematics-”

“But, if he had checked them out, that would have red-flagged him instantly.”

“True, I suppose. That would be a place to drop the ball h-”

“I like heist movies,” Samantha blurted, and plopped back on her bed. She grabbed one of the pillows and pushed it against the wall, laying back against it. “I suppose get it all hooked up and we can start, Marcy. Thanks for visiting, Monica, but I did promise Marce that we’d hang out today.”

“Monica is more than free to join u-” Marcy began.

“I said we would hang out. Us. You and I.”

Monica giggled, and eased her way onto the bed, laying against Samantha’s right.

“Too bad. I here to stay. I like movies... and cuddling.”

“Well, isn’t somebody going to make the popcorn?” Marcy said. “I’ll be having my hands filled with setting things up.”

Samantha looked to the door, expecting. Maybe it would be Minos again, swaggering in with a cauldron filled to the brim with exploded golden kernels. Or Norman, swaying and acting cute... Any takers? Anyone? Anybody else want to butt in on this day?

Apparently, no. Thank gods... Although she hated abandoning her pillow to the Monica, it was better than allowing her to keep playing with her leg. She rushed into the kitchen... but why? She never searched before nor even seen popcorn in there- but, lo and behold, when she opened the pantry, it was sitting on top. Four boxes’ worth, each holding forty bags. One was extra butter, another regular, unsalted, and the last cheddar cheese. Samantha was not going to give those up, so she popped three of the extra butter and returned in time to see the opening credits roll on the first movie.

Monica wiggled back a moment for her to lay down again, but was quick to paw at her leg once more. Then her chest. She was stopped, though, by the bright yellow bowl she placed her popcorn in, and the night faded into cinematic bliss. The same fate befell Sunday, and another week slogged on. Without an interesting start that time, so it was more of her mental gymnastics trying to teach. When the weekend came again, she was more than happy to go out with the witches... but... admitted to them that she would make this an every other week sort of thing. She had fun with Marcy, arguably the most sound person in the Black Halls. Although Monica did join in, simply vegging out and watching movies was a nice treat for the Hell class had become.

They seemed fine with it, but gave “maximum effort”, which made her dread the next Monday. Minos returned to class, but the atmosphere had yet to lower itself beyond a hissing powder keg. Even after two weeks. Peter was always tense in his seat, ready to reach over and grip Minos if need be; maybe it was because of this Minos only showed two days out of five. Meanwhile, Norman came and stayed back, happier than ever. It was a dark mirror between the two, but it was only made clearer with how much Norman did shine, how much he talked with Samantha and stayed by her.

Samantha laid in bed that Saturday, another weekend with Marcy and Monica... She reflected upon this as she waited for the knock on her door.

“It should be the other way around,” she mumbled. That thought had crossed her mind more often than not when the real matter was it should have never been... but it was. She grimaced and turned over in bed, cringing at how Norman greeted her at the door, day after day. He carried her bag along with his; even dropped it in the nook of her podium and carried back up to her room, where he bowed. How he smiled, beamed with such purity, such warmth, innocence... before he skipped either to his seat or his room, making her grimace seeing his back. It was still so twisted... but healing. The least she could have done was clear his conscious, the only reason she “made up” with Minos at all. But that matter still remained: “He saved me.”

She closed her eyes, but as soon as she did there was a knock at her

door.

“I’m up. Open,” she called to the door, and rose, expecting Marcy to enter.

Instead, it was Norman, and Jack. And Norman had a package in his hands, wrapped in bright, blue paper.

Samantha lumbered to her feet, her bright red tank paling compared to Norman’s, while her legs were covered in black, satin pants, thanking her intuition for slipping them on before going to bed.

“Norman?” She began, mouth agape at... everything before her, really. What’s this?”

He handed it to her, then gave her a hug, beaming.

“My way of finally saying thank you.” Norman said, and backed up, patting Jack’s shoulder. Jack, meanwhile, looked incredibly uncomfortable, looking anywhere but at Samantha. Which meant the feeling was mutual. “It took a bit of goading, but I finally got him to wish for another so we can all play. He’s a big softie at h- get over here!”

He pushed Jack in front of him. And into Samantha’s arms. They both exclaimed, reeled back from each other, a challenge to guess which one was more revolted. Jack was the apparent loser, though, the first to regain composure, and cleared his throat, waiting for Samantha to open the parcel.

Inside, there was a purple handheld game console, as well as a white box with a picture of four people in outlandish armors fighting what could only be described as a monster –hunting it, if the box was to be believed.

“Yes, well, you aren’t so bad for being a breeder, so I thought you would be the perfect fourth to our little hunting party,” he said, waving to the room. “Mind if we come in? I know it’s a bit late for that, but- whatever. You get the gist.”

“I... I thank you guys,” Samantha said, sniffling, and gave a soft laugh. “Especially you, Norman, but... but today, I had plans with Marce.”

“You did?” Norman said. “Then why did I see her talking up Junmei?”

“What?” She pushed passed them, and saw Marcy in the middle of the hall talking to the naga. He had been on his way to see Peter, but it seems the two had run into each other by complete accident. Accidentally on-purpose, more like. “Hey! Marce!”

Marcy jumped a bit, and turned to Samantha.

“Hey, Miss Coffey! How are you today?”

“‘Miss Coffey’? Why the sudden formalities!”

Marcy chuckled, though the look she gave Samantha was warning.

“I’m always formal with you. It’s the proper attitude for a student to have with their teacher. I was simply talking with Junmei about class, and had hoped he could tutor me today. I’ve been meaning to ask the last few weeks, but always just missed him. I know you have done an excellent job, but I had hoped he could... make things a bit clear.”

“Ah... very well. You guys have a good one.”

Marcy winked at Samantha, who returned a smirk (hiding the venom she wished to truly spew). Samantha wathced her follow Junmei back to his room, leaving her to wheel and shrug to Norman and Jack.

“Looks like I’m free today. Probably every other weekend now.” The fucking using bitch!

Norman was about to cheer- when Jack snorted, shaking his head.

“On second thought, let’s do this another day,” he said, goading Norman to the door.

“What?” Norman said. “Why?”

“Because she has to set up her system to begin with, get it updated, the game updated, download the extra content, make a character-”

“None of that should take too long.”

“Let’s simply make it tomorrow.” He shot a dirty look at Samantha... then down to her legs. Specifically, in between them. “By then you should be good, yes?”

“Y-yeah,” Samantha said, a bit thrown off by what he- Oh. Oh no. “Sounds good... Thanks again, guys.”

Jack nodded, then pushed Norman down the stairs. In a rush. She shut the door and went to the restroom. Just in time; if she had been a second later, her pants would have been ruined. She reached under the sink and grabbed a pad, catching the first drip.

Did Jack really smell it? Were Fang’s senses that acute? That didn’t really explain why Monica hadn’t shown yet, but why ruin her mood. She had a new toy to play with, after all.

Samantha removed the machine from the box, and wondered why it didn’t come with a charger of any kind. Did she have to replace the batteries? She had never used one of these systems before. Ron tried, but she simply didn’t understand the appeal of something that could only do one thing: play games.

One thing was certain: it was heavier than she expected. She put her phone in one hand, and the device in the other. The phone with the case was a bit heftier, but only just. Even though the machine was easily an inch or two longer. She tapped the buttons on the top of it, four in all, each one clacking almost... joyfully, happy that they were being shoved down into the body, while the button on the bottom made a blue light pulse.

She opened it, making a loud clack, and found the interior was black, clashing against the, as the box put it, cosmic body it was housed in. It had an analog “stick”, little more than a rounded top that you pushed in a direction, a directional pad underneath it on the left, and a nub like a laptop as well as four face buttons, labeled X, Y, A, and B. There was, also, start and select buttons, separated from each side by a screen, lighting up. The screen on top was flanked by a pair of tiny speakers, as well as two sliders, one for sound and the other for the 3D. Surprisingly, when she tried it, it refused to budge.

As she looked it over, the screen grew brighter, and brighter, and brighter. What was once an endless landscape of darkness was now taken by light, crackling, sparking color before it flashed back to darkness. The blue light on the bottom had died... only to illuminate even brighter than before. The screen flashed with data, dates, times, flying by in atoms, while a (familiar) skull in the back started to manifest before disappearing to a basic home menu. With a basic welcome message that sent a chill down here spine.

Hello again, Samantha.

That’s not creepy at all, she thought, but it was out of sight and out of mind as she closed it. She opened the box to the game that came with it, clicked it in, then opened it once more. The message had disappeared, replaced with the trumpeting and fanfare of the game.

Dulled by a series of rapid knocks on the door.

Buffy didn’t even wait for her to stand, opening it herself, and swooped over to her, looking at the device in her hands. She squealed, bounced in place as she held up her own, the red that once covered the back flaked off to a dingy black. Her feathers ruffled so, biting her lip as she plopped on the bed beside, and Samantha once again wondered where her clothes were. She knew the harpy possessed them; she wore them every day to class.

“Hooray! A fellow female hunter!” She shrilled, but joy was lost to determination as she clacked open her device. Come on! Let’s do this!”

“... I just got it, you know?” She said. “I haven’t even made a character yet or understand what the fuck I am doing or- how the hell did you know I just got it?”

“I heard the music. It called to me.”

“... How?”

Buffy shushed her, caressed her shoulder as she eased herself down beside. She nestled into her shoulder as she chuckled. She held up her game, and stuck out her tongue, still tittering.

“It’s okay. Now, let’s get you all set up. I’ll teach you as you go along.”


“Okay! Are you ready?” Norman exclaimed, the four sitting in the classroom Sunday evening. Four names shown on his bottom screen of each device, his in red: Hiro, Hadash, Penny, and...

“What’s with that name?” Jack said, snickering. “Ophelia Mo?”

“Mornhall wouldn’t fit all the way, okay?” Samantha said, glowering at him.

“Still-”

“You already have rare-3 armor?” Norman said, frowning. “How long did you play last night?”

“I didn’t have a choice,” she grumbled, and shot a dirty look at Buffy. Both of their eyes were bloodshot, though somehow Buffy still had a bit of bounce in her feathers. They flared through her chair behind, also held by a pair of loose white shorts, matching her black tank –“gifts” from Samantha. “Someone decided to sleep over.”

“Someone needed to teach you how to play,” Buffy said, smiling so smug, almost singing. “Now, let’s power through to high rank at l-”

“We already are.” Jack stated.

“Well we aren’t! So suck it.”

“Can’t we all just play and have fun?” Norman said.

“That depends. What are you nerds up t- oh. Miss Coffey,” Minos said. He stopped at the door, seeing her... and paled a little. He started to turn around-

“Get back over here, you big lummox,” Norman exclaimed, grabbing his arm, and “pulled” him in. For someone as tiny as he was, Norman really was able to move mountains. Norman smiled up at Minos, “dragging” him into the seat between him and Samantha, and nudged his shoulder before he stuck out his tongue at Jack, tittering. “Now, the sooner we get these two to high rank, the sooner we can take on some real challenges!”

“Yeah. Sure. Let’s waste six hours of our lives for them,” Jack grumbled.

“Wouldn’t have to be if you waited for me,” Buffy said. “I could have easily had her to that point otherwise.”

The pair continued their squabble. Norman watched them, shaking his head, but all were ignoring the tension between Minos and Samantha, quivering, thickening only to thin, fading into smiles as the day fell into the grind. Laughter, mirth, agitation flew by until the buzzing began, and they closed the games, having reached their goal. It’s not how Samantha wanted to spend her weekend, but she could see the charm in doing this every once in a while –which was fine, since her “friend” decided to ditch her entirely, all for a guy-

“It really is like high school all over again,” she grumbled, and headed up to her room, passing out as soon as she flopped into bed. “No wonder I dropped out.”

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