Cat stopped abruptly and pulled open the expansive wooden exterior door of the school on back of the main building.
The small action sent every muscle in her body to screaming. She whimpered.
“What are you smiling at?” Cat asked a grinning gargoyle snidely, which sat on the corner of the school, looking down at her. Its mortar gray body dripping wet with rain water as it fell from the sky.
With the storm clouds as a backdrop, the normally chipper looking gargoyle took on a more sinister appearance.
An appearance that Cat brushed off with a tired wave of her hand.
“Whatever, look all menacing if you want,” Cat said aloud. “At this point, I’m too tired to let my imagination do anything useful with it. You’re just wasting it on me.”
The thunder over head rumbled and the storm cloud darkened sky brightened as lightning streaked across it. The rains had come, yet the dark clouds remained
Cat stepped in the door, and stood in the shadows of the doorway.
Starting the day off getting hammered into the ground by her father, only to be followed up by a three-mile run, in the rain, did not a happy body make. The tardy bell rang.
Cat looked morosely at the long walk laid out before, in the form of one now very empty school hallway and she groaned at the prospect.
This would make two class in a row now in which she was tardy today…
A new personal best. The fact that it was her first two classes, and the only two she had so far, did not set a good precedence for the rest of the day. If she kept this up, they were gonna so start ticking off days on her perfect attendance. Can’t have that.
“Just throw your head down and get it done.” Cat mumbled to herself, in a mantra her father had drilled into her head more than once. You didn’t have to like a chosen task, but you always, always had to finish it.
Head down, she secured her bags, which felt now more like lead weights to her shoulder and began the slow, painful shuffle that took her down the long vacant hallway towards science class.
She tried to valiantly swallow the squeaks that whimpered from her throat with every step, but failed. Utterly. OK, this was ridiculous and unneeded.
Despite her father’s warnings to never use her special skills in public, with a quick glance around the hall, to make sure she was indeed all alone, Cat stepped quickly and easily into the shadows, merging with naturally in the darkness. They became one. Desperate times, desperate measures…
You know the drill.
Blah, blah, blah.
In the blink of an eye, or more pointedly in the darkness that resulted from the blink of an eye, Cat traveled the rest of the way down the hall on the darkened wings of swirling shadows, reappearing by the door of her chosen destination.
“There.” Cat smiled, with a self-satisfied huff. “With no pain and even less effort, just the way I like it and none the wiser.”
So pleased was she with not only her skills, but at negating the painful effort it would have taken her to get here, she almost missed the whisper soft sound of movement in the hallway behind her. Uh, oh. Cat froze, her heart racing at the prospect of being caught in the act.
She jerked her head to look down the hallway in the direct from whence she came. Her eyes scanned quickly. Nothing. Breath baited in expectation of discovery, Cat let it out in a ‘whoosh’ of air when she realized it was just her imagination…
That was all.
A gentle breeze tickled her hair causing it to dance at the edges of her chin and the wooden door at the end of the hallway slowly slid closed.
Her father always warned her about her gifts. She would just have to be more careful on how she used them in the future. Not seeing the cause of the disturbance in the air, Cat thought nothing else of it and she turned back towards the classroom door.
Happy that her painful impatience did not lead to the discovery of her special skills and by someone she would have a hard time explaining them too she emptied all thoughts of it from her mind.
The sounds of class underway reached her ears long before Cat reached the door handle to pull open the science lab designated door.
The Junior class was nothing if not a noisy bunch. Few teachers could handle the rambunctious crew, when all were present and accounted for, with the ease that Mrs. Steele exhibited by doing nothing more than turning down the volume reception on her hearing aid.
A method that worked well for all involved.
She was such a dear.
Looking through the small rectangular window by the door handle of the wood classroom door, she saw that any hope she had of sneaking end would come to naught. Mrs. Steele was already taking roll. Figures. Cat grasped the brass door handle and gave it a jerk.
She moaned once again, thanks to the door pulling action that sent her abused muscles screaming and all eyes were suddenly upon her.
Marigold grimaced from her seat in shame that she hadn’t waited for Cat, once Cat had double back for her after running the full distance herself, running back with her to the locker room so she wouldn’t have to enter it alone and last, yet again. In reward for this valiant gesture, Marigold had gone on to class while Cat showered up, after her doubly extra long run.
Guilt sat heavily on Marigold’s already hunched shoulders.
Hair still slightly damp from her shower, Cat’s legs were as sturdy as pudding columns with Jell-O inserts as she walked into class.
“So glad you could join us, Miss Fox.” Mrs. Steele said loudly, a little louder than necessary, without looking up from her podium as she made the adjustments to her rollsheet. “We were worried you got lost coming back from the gym.”
“Sorry, Ma’am.” Cat said, heading quickly to her seat. Mrs. Steele turned back towards the chalk board and she continued to studiously write on it what they would be studying today.
Darwin’s Theory of Evolution verses Intelligent Design.
Cat limped in front of the class, past Inn who sat in the front row, along with Mickey Jackson and Matt Cooney, who had been placed there respectively as punishment for talking too much, heading to her own desk for this hour.
Brad Beck snickered at Cat as she passed him sitting in his seat, while he whispered something to Izzy behind him, who turned to watch her pass with a snarl in her eyes and a curl of her lip.
Izzy was rewarded for that look, by a swift kick to the back of her chair by BJ who sat immediately behind her and had been awaiting Cat’s arrival, not appreciating the look at all. At this point BJ needed only the slightest provocation to act on her hatred for Isabella Pepper, especially after what she had learned in gym.
David had taken Izzy home after the concert his band, Rancid, gave at the dive bar on the outskirts of town, up the northern ridge, called artfully, The Bone Yard…
Since it overlooked the town’s local cemetery, it seemed fitting, if grossly disturbing.
David and Izzy, of all people?!
BJ had overheard Mickey and Izzy glorying in every scandalous, tantalizing detail in the locker room before their run.
BJ had wanted to kill someone.
More specifically, David.
She fumed at the very thought of David having such low standards, even if it was a brief hook-up and had stormed out of the locker room before she did something she might regret.
What did it matter who David diddled with? BJ angrily scratched in her notebook, not looking up. It didn’t, not at all. Especially to her. Then why did she so suddenly feel like crying, BJ wondered sadly.
Cat slid into her seat positioned between Marigold and BJ, slipping her book bag, artist case and purse on the backrest of her seat and knew she wasn’t the only one to take note of the fact that AC and BJ were not sitting as closely as they had just the day before.
BJ did her best to pretend no one existed outside her own little world of desk and paper. She was pouting about something and just as soon as Cat finished moaning in pain, she would find out why exactly.
BJ was so high maintenance.
Initially she assumed it had to do with the fact that AC & Cree took up two seats beside each other in the last row of the classroom, making her odd man out.
Cat smiled at David as she settled noticing that David took up three seats in the back of the class.
That’s when it hit Cat that BJ’s present pout probably had more to do with David, than it did her present almost, but not quite, ex-boyfriend AC. Just a quick, by-the-hip assumption based on the fact that after they had left the locker room, BJ had run hell-bent until she caught up with David halfway down the Troy mile already, his long legs eating up the pavement easily…
Only to get in a shoving match with him, ending horribly with David laughing in BJ’s face.
A fact Cat had seen as she approached them from a distance, too far away for her to stop BJ from whacking him in the head with a stick she found on the side of the road after David had turned away from her.
Cat turned in her seat, just slightly enough to shoot a glance back at David, who sat quietly in the back of the room.
He was gently fingering the knot on the back of his head. Cat grimaced, turning back around. That was probably going to scar.
Ignoring her looks, as well as Red’s obvious agitation with him, David sat in the chair slid as far back as he could get it, in the back corner of the room using one desk to prop his booted foot in. On the other desk, his guitar sat straightly, like an apt pupil waiting for a lesson.
David sat in this position in every class, few teachers took him to task for it.
After all, as long as he showed up, that counted for something, right?
A smattering of students filled out the remaining chairs, leaving few vacancies with the exception of those that dare not go into ‘No Mans’ territory being anywhere close to David or anywhere near Marigold Dorsey and they did this for absolutely polar reasons.
No one sat close to David, because with the exception of Cat and BJ, everyone was scared spit-less of him.
No one sat close to Marigold Dorsey, because she was considered gross, because she ate glue in kindergarten and no one let her live that down.
It happened in kindergarten, get over it already Cat grumbled inwardly.
“Bunker – Incoming!” Ever watchful, BJ whispered the warning to Cat.
Cat harrumphed with narrowed eyes, watching as Mickey was handed a wad of paper by Matt, who promptly laid his head down on his desk, covering his head with his arms to hide his snickers, just as Mickey turned and let the wad fly directly at Marigold’s head, in a bunker shot over Matt’s bent head.
Just as BJ had so astutely predicted.
BJ was that good and Matt and Mickey were nothing, if not predictable.
Mickey was bold, to take such a forward action with her so close at hand, Cat had to give her that…
Stupid, yes, admittedly so stupid and a good aim.
Cat’s hand whipped out instinctively and caught the wad before it could hit the poor harried girl, Marigold. Cat’s hand had stopped the assault directly in front of the girl’s face with a winning catch.
Marigold remained unaware of the invents as they transpired, her big shoulders hunched, as she tried to be as inconspicuous as possible to all of the bullies in the classroom. A plan that just never really worked out for her.
Mickey hissed at Cat for ruining her fun, knowing Cat would never retaliate against someone she perceived weaker than she was.
Mickey was secure in this…
However Mickey paled quickly, whipping around in her seat as Cat whispered over to BJ, because BJ was another matter all together.
Whispering in her ear, Cat talked while BJ listened.
BJ was writing furiously in her note pad, taking notes, as Mrs. Steele wrote definitions on the board. She was obviously doing everything in her power to ignore the boy, AC, who was shooting daggers into her back with his eyes and David, who watched her with a similar look.
Mickey barely made out the words, though she tried. Her ears strained, but when she did catch a word or two, she grimaced.
“I bet you my extra lunch chocolate milk you can’t still stuff her in a locker?” Cat grinned evilly, watching Mickey flinch as she whispered the words purposefully just loud enough for Mickey to hear, in BJ’s ear.
Cat smiled over at he best friend and tossed the wad of paper that had been wrapped around a rock inside the metal compartment of her desk. It hit the back side of it and echoed like the beginning gong, for a fight bell.
It was so on.
“Who?” BJ asked, not looking up, her pencil racing furiously across her notepad.
“Your two chocolate milks against mine?” That peaked BJ’s interest enough to have her looking up. After all betting chocolate, in any form, was a serious matter.
Thinking, pulling the rubber-band she had around her wrist for her hair, into a slingshot position between her thumb and forefinger of her left hand. BJ slid a pencil, eraser end first, into the crevice of the rubber band and pulled it back. She took aim. “Too easy. What kind of friend would I be if I wasn’t honest about that? So let’s make it challenging for me and make it both Mickey and Izzy, in the same locker, and you have yourself a bet.”
Mickey squeaked, seeing BJ take aim at her with her pencil, point first, apparently having seen the wad thrown at Marigold herself, then the subsequent hiss at Cat.
With a twang of the rubber-band BJ let it fly in absentminded retaliation.
More because of the Cat thing, than the Marigold one simply because Mickey knew BJ consider Cat ‘hers’ and fact of the matter was, BJ didn’t like Marigold either.
Heck, no one did, save Catherine Fox.
The proverbial goodie-two shoes.
Squeaking, Mickey all but fell out of her chair as she dodged. The pencil whizzed over her head only to stick deeply embedded in the cork-board beside the chalkboard about a half an inch deep at the front of the classroom.
It vibrated in the wall with the force of its impact.
Spinning in her seat, Mickey gave BJ a look dark enough to singe her eyebrows, but said nothing as she turned back in her chair. She was stupid after all, not suicidal.
BJ just smiled winningly at her, having successfully proved her point.In more ways than one.
Catherine might not retaliate on her own behalf against someone weaker than herself, but BJ had no such qualms…
So watch it. Cat was off-limits.
And Matt, for his part in the whole debacle, stopped snickering, his eyes growing wide as he stared in shock a the pencil.
Mrs. Steele, god bless her, in the way of the best of teachers, was oblivious to it all.
Cat stared in awe at the pencil as it stuck out from the wall, stabbed into the calendar that hung on the wall, gored center-most into the square marking today’s date.
BJ’s casually easy skills and deadly accuracy was quite disconcerting.
“Wow.” Cat said awestruck. “Nice shot.” Even as best friends that they were, BJ could be a little scary.
“What do you mean?” BJ asked, using the rubber band to pull back her hair, piling it on top of her head. Reaching behind her she pulled another pencil from her backpack on the back of her seat without sparing Mickey a glance. “I missed.”
Cat laughed, only half convinced BJ was joking. For someone who claimed not to have red hair, she sure had the temperament to go along with the characteristic.
Time to change the subject to happier, less disturbing matters, “So, both Mickey and Izzy in the same locker for my two chocolate milks?”
“Yep.” BJ tested the tip on her pencil, before she renewed her note taking. Nice, sharp and deadly, just the way she liked it. “If they don’t both fit, you get mine.”
“They’ve kinda filled out since you last tried it, I don’t think you can get them both in there.”
BJ shrugged, “The fun’s in the trying.”
“Totally right.” Cat held out her hand, and BJ shook it, “Deal.”
The classroom door opened and a boy stepped in.
Cat felt the hinges at her jaw loosen their normally controlling grip, while still holding on to BJ’s hand.
It was him. It had to be him. She had gone all tingly inside.
“Who’s that?” Marigold whispered beside her, mirroring her own question.
The whispers in the classroom began like an ocean wave, rolling from one end of the classroom to the next.
“Oh.” BJ grinned, looking at him in healthy female adolescent appreciation. “New guy.”
BJ tried to turn around in her seat, but was stopped. Cat still held her hand in a death grip that was only growing tighter. Hmmm “Are you going to keep it,” BJ asked her, eyebrows raised looking pointedly at her hand. “Or can I have that back?”
“What?” Cat asked, staring at the doorway, cutting her eyes briefly to BJ who simply held up their linked hands, shaking them briefly. Cat blushed. “Oh, right. Sorry.”
Cat let go.
He stood out clad in parachute camouflage pants, tucked into combat-boots colored a dark, and worn brown, scuffed and scarred. A bankers blue stripped dress shirt over a tight dark blue wife-beater, which hugged his chest, he walked into the room. No, that wasn’t right. He didn’t walk, he swaggered.
Cat felt drool pool into the bottom of her open mouth, a mouth dropping further open with each heartbreakingly beautiful step he took. That was him – It was her guy. She would recognize those shoulders anywhere.
“Nicely put together.” BJ hummed deep in her throat, tapping her pencil on her desk with one hand, while she propped her chin on the palm in the other, “Dreamy even.”
“I know him.” Cat whispered distractedly.
A long, wide blue scarf-like cowl lay wrapped around his shoulders, bunching behind his head in a way that it could easily be pulled over his head, shoulder he choose to use it for a hood. The ends dangled tantalizingly over broad set shoulders, its ends frayed, slightly unraveling. An army green canvas tote bag, its strap hung easily from his shoulder.
“Wait…What? No way!” BJ gasped over at her, jumping in her seat, the metal legs of her desk ringing loudly against the aged linoleum of the classroom floor as she scooted closer to Catherine. “And you kept it from me? Just when did this miracle occur? Leave no detail out, now matter how small and feel free to embellish any hot lip on lip action for my salacious fantasies.”
His, hair, Cat thought as she stared at him, was golden-brown like the sands of the desert, or the full mane of a lion.
Shoulder length dark-brown hair, so rich under the lights it seemed to shimmer with blond, light, sun-streaked highlights, she wondered dully if it was as cool and as silky as it looked.
Her fingers itched to touch it.
Poke. “Cat?” BJ hissed in her ear, as she poked her with her pencil eraser. “Hello?”
But even as immaculate as the whole package was, and boy was it ever, that’s not what drew Cat’s unblinking gaze.
Gallant slashing brows accentuated his eyes…
Those amazing, magical eyes.
Long lashes fan his chiseled cheeks, as they blinked over liquid mercury colored eyes, and he cut them to the side to glance over the students in the class, as he made his way across the room.
Cat’s breath caught.
Who knew gray, silver, could be so inviting, but they were. Like the gray storm clouds that seemed to envelope their fair town, his eyes encased her in invigorating stimulation.
BJ sighed at Cat’s continued disregard of her and flipped her pencil over, lead point first. BJ fingered the tip. It was still sharp.
That should do it.
“Ouch.” Cat gasped, holding her side, staring at BJ angrily. “Hey!”
BJ raised her brows innocently, saying simply, “Explain.”
Prying her eyes away from him as his sensuous mouth smiled a half-smile, a dimple winked at it’s corner, Cat sighed as Mrs. Steele walked up to him while he waited calmly in the doorway.
“This is going to sound bad.” Cat began, leaning down close to BJ’s ear, her mouth pulled down in the corner, her eyes unable to pull away from him. He was so close, but yet so far. Cliché? You bet. But true nonetheless.
“O, badness! I likie already.” BJ egged her on, scooting closer. “The best stories usually have the badness just all in them, so carry on.”
Cat took a deep breath, leaning over she whispered directly into BJ’s ear, “I met him this morning after he jerked me into the alleyway behind the feed store and held me at knife-point.”
BJ was taken aback. And for her to even think the words ‘taken aback’, that was saying something.
“You – Really?” BJ asked, eyebrows raised for she knew her friend and what she was capable of, if tried. Interesting.
Checking him out in earnestly now, BJ studied the newbie with considering blue eyes. The boy liked to play with knives, huh? No biggie there, after all, so did she. And since Cat was sitting beside her, unharmed, she could give him a pass, “And you just let him?”
Cat waved off the question, “It was a misunderstanding.”
OK. Still with the passing, BJ nodded, “Which accounts for the fact that he’s still breathing, I get that.”
“He just thought I was some Big Bad, or something. Obviously I’m not, so we talked about it, then we just talked and since I held a knife on him too, well it all worked out for the best.”
If there was one thing BJ knew, it was Buffy-speak, “So he was being all heroic?”
“I think so, yes.”
“With you,” Cat shook her head. “I knew there would be an ‘or’…”
“He was using it as an excuse as the new guy to hit on girls in town.” BJ smirked with humor so uniquely her, “Mutual knife hold, after all, I hear is the new speed dating.”
“Oh shut up.” With BJ maybe a guy would risk it. Leave it to BJ to go there. Cat rolled her eyes, “Of course, because yes, the whole holding ‘em at knife-point ploy is a great way to have the girls swooning at his feet.”
“And yet here you are, slack-jawed and swooning.” BJ nodded, making a point to highlight out the obvious. “So don’t discount it. Personally, as games go, I think it’s pretty tempting new line, especially if you add in the whole damsel in distress like angle, which I just don’t get to play at often, neither for that matter do you, which is why I think it worked.”
“Oh, he played it alright.”
“Then once we had all the details of the misunderstanding worked out…”
“Is that how we are referring to it?” BJ asked, just for clarification. “The Misunderstanding?”
Cat nodded, as she continued, wanting to get to the good part that she knew BJ would get all jealous over, “…He bowed to me, all regal and respectfully, before he disappeared.”
“What?” Respect? From a boy? That was a new one.
“Yes,” Cat nodded, putting emphasis on the word. “Bowed.”
“Better and better.” Now BJ was getting impressed. The boy had some moves.
“He was hot. And not hot in that he was sweaty, but hot in that I was.” Cat cut her eyes to her friend, knowing if she appreciated the story up until now, she would just love this last part, “He wore a mask.”
While her boyfriend was complaining about parking spots, some guy was bowing to Cat, wearing a mask and holding her at knife-point. BJ pouted. Life just wasn’t fair at all, “You suck.”
Cat laughed. That alone made the whole morning worth it.
Cat and BJ whispered a few more moments back and forth, and watched as the newbie handed Mrs. Steele some papers, which she carefully looked over.
All of the girls in class however seemed to lean towards them, as if battling to catch a word that would buffer their hopes that this young man was definitely in the right spot.
If there was a god above, he would be right where he was supposed to be.
Taking the papers, Mrs. Steele patted him on the shoulder as she turned towards the class. “Class, we have a treat this morning.”
See, there was a God and he was grand.
“I would like you to introduce you to our new student. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Leonidas Pope.”
Finally he had a name.
Leonidas Pope. The name so fit him. Cat had the strangest urge to stand up and applaud. He was in the right spot, right within her reach – Thank you God! Cat blushed as she resisted the impulse. Just barley.
BJ snickered and elbowed her in the side.
Turning to face them fully however, he didn’t shirk from the introduction as most new student would have in his situation in embarrassment, but threw his shoulders back, and arched one of his eyebrows in a way that exuded a corporeal arousing confidence.
“Well hello there, Sexy.” Izzy all but purred it, leaning up, bracing her forearms on her desk she ate him with her eyes.
This time it was Cat that kicked the back of her chair.
BJ busted out laughing in surprise at Cat’s very uncharacteristic aggressive reaction, covering her mouth with one hand, her shoulders shook with mirth, as Izzy whipped her head around in BJ’s direction.
BJ just silently laughed, shoulders shaking, she pointed towards Cat with a laugh shaking hand.
Izzy rewarded her with a one fingered salute.
BJ stopped smiling.
That’s it, she was so going into a locker!
Cat frowned furiously at the back of Izzy’s chair as she spun around, but only for a second, not wanting the loser to take any attention away from Leonidas.
Looking back up at him, he was all but staring at her now in amusement, catching the by-play between her and Izzy.
Once again, she had his full attention. This time minus the knife. This was actually much better. Her already blush stained cheeks stained a deeper red as her face grew hotter. For a moment in time, their eyes seemed to collide. Silver and green intermingled and time slowed to span single, individual heartbeats.
Cat could feel her heart beating in her throat, her increasing pulse made her vision throb in it’s all encompassing beats.
Someone cleared their throat in the classroom, and Cat shook her head as the spell was broken, lowing her eyes to try to gain a bit of composure, she raised her yes to look him again.
His eyes were downcast as well, as if he too needed a moment to shake free of the spell and in that moment it was then that Cat saw the scar that ran the length of his right cheek, up to the bottom of the corner of his eye, puckered and angry red. After raising his head, noticing the direction of her gaze, he tilted his face to the side as if daring her to stare at it.
As if needing to see her reaction.
Shoulders back, legs wide, he seemed to be bracing himself for her reaction.
But instead of his eyes, his scar drew and held her attention now, as if submitting to his silent request. It was a horrible looking scar and one that should have detracted from the rugged, masculine beauty of his face…
It didn’t. Cat’s eyes caressed it, as she gazed upon his face and a soft smile drifted across her lips.
Instead of blemishing it, the scar made Leonidas’s face strangely bearable to look upon what would have otherwise been a faced marred with only the curse of perfection. It was easy for her to pull her eyes away from it, to gaze back into his beautiful eyes, the scar seen, acknowledged and just as easily discounted.
Leonidas smiled at her, just for her and there was not a soul student in the classroom that didn’t notice. His eyes crinkled in the corners…
Just the way she remembered.
For a second, as their eyes met…
Cat’s world began to tilt and just like that, she was falling. Hard.
Cat could feel it and she mentally fought for balance in a world that suddenly didn’t make any sense, flooding her with emotions she couldn’t name, much less pinpoint, but they were strong, real and oh so very breathtaking.
Leonidas was unlike anyone she had ever seen before. Dangerous, gorgeous, brave and yet attractively insecure about something so beyond his control and even with his scar, he had the most beautiful smile she had ever seen in her whole, entire life.
She was a goner and she knew it.
“Now that the introductions are out of the way, please Mr. Pope, take one of the empty seats so we can begin.” Having completely Mrs. Steele nodded to him. She then turned from him, walking back to her desk with the papers he gave her, she sat down to fill them out quickly, so she could then file them away.
“You can sit by me, Leonidas.” Mickey hummed at him, with a flirtatious tilt of her dark head, crossing her long dark legs, her cheer-leading skirt riding up to a dangerously high degree and giving him a wave of her graceful hand.
Beckoning him closer.
“Uh, I’m sitting by you, Mickey.” Matt gently reminded her. “And I’m not moving.”
“Shut up.” She hissed, having so quickly forgotten about Matt’s presence and then mad at him for not offering Leonidas his chair.
“No, he can sit by me.” Izzy stated, sitting up further in her desk chair, leaning out further over her braced arms to give the gorgeous newcomer a good flash of her chest, framed in her tight, black cheer-leading sweater, if he was so inclined to take a little peek.
“Only if he wants to catch something he has to have a prescription to get rid of.” BJ scoffed loudly, making the class mutter with laughter.
Izzy sat back with a quiet huff, but stopped herself from turning around to sneer at BJ after a quick glance up at the pencil still sticking out of the wall. Hating BJ, but not stupid enough to cause her to retaliate, which she undoubtedly would.
The temperamental witch.
“He can sit behind me.” Marigold spoke up, stating softly, surprising Cat.
Heck, surprising everyone.
Marigold never spoke out in class.
It was almost as if she was afraid to bring attention to herself. So for Marigold to put herself out there and make a statement that was designed to bring everyone’s attention in her direction, Cat reasoned that Leonidas’s powerful attraction didn’t effect just her.
He had that effect on everyone.
“Ew, god,” Mickey rolled her head instantly, glaring behind her at Marigold as she hissed. “You’re disgusting, why would he want to sit by you.”
“I know, right?” Izzy twittered up to Mickey. “Marigold not only looks like a cow, but she smells like one too.”
Marigold gasped in physical pain at the vicious verbal attack, as Cat gasped in outrage.
“How long have you’ve been saving that one up. Did Mickey write it down for you?” Not one to take up the banner of lost causes herself, that was Cat’s job, but this time even BJ was disgusted enough to speak out, “Jesus, Izzy, you’re such a tool.”
The cow remark was a sadistic remark meant to maim…It did the job as a large part of the class laughed uncomfortably at the unusually nasty comment usually said behind hiding hands instead of stated so boldly out loud.
The girls brutal attack was meant to impress the newcomer.
It, however, did just the opposite.
Cat felt her jaw lock in anger as Marigold’s shoulders shook in shame beside her, as she went silent once more. In fact Cat had just raised her foot on a growl, to kick the back of Izzy’s chair again, when Leonidas stepped forward.
Apparently their mission to impress him failed.
“Does the offer of the desk, come with the use of your book as well?” Leonidas asked smiling gently at Marigold now, the smile only for her, his eyes steady as he walked forward. “As I have not been by the library to pick up my own, I hope you do not mind if we share yours.”
Marigold looked up and stared at him in surprise…Then around to everyone in the classroom who was staring at him in open-mouthed astonishment.
Was he talking to her? Baffled, Marigold felt stupid, knowing he surely couldn’t be talking to her, but nevertheless she pointed to herself as she gasped at him in surprise, just to be sure, “Me?”
He merely smiled at her, his eyes gentle. He shrugged. Blushed. “Is that acceptable, Miss?”
Nodding so quickly, it was hard not to liken her to a bobble-head doll and just as hard not to nod your head along with her, as shock settled in over everyone in the classroom.
No one bucked convention, well except for Cat, and befriended those the majority of the student body deemed unworthy.
Such as Marigold Dorsey, David Zulu and Inn Ruin.
It just didn’t happen.
Apparently this new guy, this Leonidas Pope didn’t know that.
He was actually being nice to her – Marigold, The Glue Eater – And talking to her…
In front of people.
It boggled the mind.
Students looked around at each other in shock not knowing how to respond, as if someone had just told them there was a herd of pigs flying outside their window.
Nice to Marigold?
What did one do with that?
“Well, good.” Mrs. Steele said absentmindedly, having only picked a smattering of conversation thanks to her hearing aid set on low as she concentrated on her task. Ignoring any conflicts was a sure way for her to make it through her day with just a tad bit left of her sanity, she had learned. “Now that that is decided, let me just finish taking care of this paperwork and we’ll get on with our lessons.”
Cat wasn’t the only one who was a little thrown by Leonidas’s reaction to the taunting of Marigold.
She realized this when Cree murmured aloud to AC, his deep baritone voice carrying easily up to her from the back of the classroom, “Huh. He must have a thing for fat, ugly chicks.”
“Actually, I like my women strong, able to bear up under the oppression of others. ” Leonidas answered Cree instantly, directly. “It shows character.”
Again, not something anyone generally did as a rule, respond to Cree. Leonidas walked towards his claimed seat behind Marigold, with a careless shrug.
“Stout of heart, brave of soul is the way I appreciate them. I have no use for vindictive, mongrel bitches,” The whole room gasped in unison, mouths dropping open as Mrs. Steele sputtered from her seat, apparently even her bad ears picked up that word, but he continued on as if saying curse words in class were a common occurrence. “Which is why I’m sitting back here with this true beauty,” Leonidas smiled as he patted a gasping Marigold on the shoulder, as he passed her heading towards his claimed seat. “And not up there with those ugly, vapid, mongrel dogs. You see Sir, I actually have taste.”
Marigold looked like she was going to pass out as Leonidas slid in his claimed seat behind her, having successfully defended her from Cree Feral, Mickey Jackson and Isabella Pepper of all people.
It just didn’t happen.
Cat had to hide her smiling face behind her hand, as BJ poked her in the side again with her elbow, wiggling her eyebrows at her.
Apparently swooping to save the day was indeed something Leonidas did often, no matter what form ‘evil’ took.
Real or imagined.
“Mr. Pope!” Mrs. Steele snapped, finally getting her stuttering under control, she pushed up quickly from her chair. “That is enough!”
“Did he just call us a bi–…?” Mickey asked, gasping towards a shocked Izzy. This never happened to her before. Everyone loved them.
“Yeah,” Izzy nodded, completely flummoxed. “And he called us dogs, too.”
“It means the same thing you Teflon coated, intelligence rejecter.” BJ hissed from behind her.
OK, Mickey silently corrected herself, giving BJ as evil an eye as she dared. Almost everyone.
Seeing the look, BJ pulled the rubber band from her hair, each movement full of purpose. The action had Mickey squeaking and spinning in her seat.
They can be taught! BJ smirked at Mickey’s back, putting her hair back up.
“Mr. Pope, you will come with me right this instant.” Mrs. Steele shrilled. “You have set a record young man. You haven’t been in my class even five minutes and you are already on your way to the Principal’s office. Congratulations.”
Leonidas sighed, and slid back out of his desk. This High School thing was indeed going to be just as trying as he thought. Mother was not going to be pleased. Grabbing his bag off the back, he slung it over his shoulder as if being drug out of the classroom to the principal’s office was nothing more than a minor annoyance.
There wasn’t a student in class that didn’t appreciate his nonchalantness.
Walking sedately behind Mrs. Steele as she flew from the classroom in agitation, Leonidas looked back over his shoulder and addresses Marigold. “I hope that offer to use your book is still extended tomorrow, despite my boorish behavior?”
“Boorish?” BJ mouthed to a still smiling Cat, who just shrugged, snickering watching him in wonder.
No one talked like he did. Simply no one.
Marigold smiled, ducking her head coyly as she blushed and the whole class watched bumfuzzled, as she nodded shyly in response to Leonidas’s question…
Cat wasn’t sure what surprised her more, the fact that he was so brazenly unaffected or that Marigold giggled. Heck, Cat didn’t even think she could laugh. It was sad to think that she had never heard it. Even sadder to realize Marigold never had a reason too.
Looking quickly from one to the other, Cat finally looked back at Leonidas, holding her gaze easily, realizing finally that he stood in the doorway who as if waiting for something.
Cat quickly figured out what as soon as her eyes flew up to his.
He winked conspiratorially at her, before he ducked out in the hallway after one last screech from Mrs. Steele, “Mr. Pope!” called back to him from the hallway.
Cat felt her breath leave her in a ‘whoosh’ as she continued to stare at the door even as it slowly slid closed. She felt the result of that flirtatious, playful look like a kick to the stomach. She felt kind of sick, like she needed to throw up…
But not in a bad way.
“Wow.” BJ, still watching the doorway as well and reached out with a steady hand to push Cat’s dangling jaw closed. That’s what best friends were for after all. “Impressive.”
Cat whipped her head around guiltily to see if anyone else had caught her mouth-open admiration for the boy who just stepped into her life and without one word said to her, swept her off her feet.
No one noticed, she saw in relief, they were all still staring in shock at the door…
And at what had just blew in and out of their lives.
Or more to the point, who.
Marigold sighed, still in shock herself. But this time, when she spoke up, remembering Leonidas’s words, she put a little steel in her spine. “You can say that again.”
“Wow.” All the girls whispered romantically in unison, the sound carried easily on breathy sighs as they all sat looking towards the now closed-door.
“God.” David groaned in response, with a roll of his eyes in disgust. “You women are so easy.”
It was said to all of them, but directed to BJ.
What was she looking at the door that way for – Didn’t she have a boyfriend already?
It was an accusation, directed at her, plain and simple and BJ heard it loud and clear.
“But some of us more than others, right?” It was the excuse she had been hoping for. BJ, in response, turned quickly and threw her book at him, catching his square in the chest.
It hit with a thump, dead center, into his chest.
BJ was scary-accurate with whatever projectile she was umm…
“Stop hitting me, woman!” David roared at her, leaning forward, teeth barred.
Everyone cringed at the sound.
Well, everyone but BJ.
Unfazed, and satisfied to having got such a reaction out of him, BJ smiled sticking her tongue out at him, before turning around in her seat.
Perfectly content to go back to ignoring him, now that she was assured she had his full attention and would so for the duration of class.
She had AC’s as well, not that she cared, and David again noticed the venomous looks AC was shooting at BJ’s back from his seat beside Meathead in the back of the room.
It unsettled him.
There was anger there, with a little bit of embarrassment and maybe something else.
Rubbing his chest, David picked up BJ’s book as he looked over at Precious Alexander Cesar Troy. Slipping her book in with his, in his desk, David vowed to keep a close eye on Precious to make sure he didn’t do anything he would regret.
Most importantly, to BJ.
It was the break in tension needed to get the whole class speculating with tantalizing twitters.
“Who was this guy?”
“Where did he come from?”
“What house did he move into, in town?”
And so the chorus went.
“It wasn’t a h…h…house.” Inn stuttered uncomfortably, as all eyes turned on him with this bit of news.
He hated to be the center of attention.
It just never worked out well for him.
His ears burned bright red.
“What do you mean it wasn’t a house?” Matt asked out, from beside Inn, after giving him a swipe in the ear with his thumping finger. Those were targets he could never resist.
Inn ducked, covering his ears and he grimaced in pain as his assaulted ear burned. He answered, “H…h…he moved into the old abandoned ch…ch…church on the south end of Main S…s…street.”
“His whole family moved into the church…By you?” BJ asked Cat, but she already knew. “Nice.”
That was by her. Cat thought. Figures he would move to town close to her, just as she was going to be out on the outskirts of town with BJ at her ranch.
God hated her.
BJ turned towards her with wiggling silent eyebrows. “We should stop by…Take a bunt cake.”
“There is j…j…just the two of them.” Inn explain, ignoring BJ. The best way to deal with her really, especially when Cat had given her free rein. “J…j…just him and his mom as far as I kn…kn…know.”
“But that old church? It’s old, run down and just ugly.” Mickey shivered. “Not to mention kinda creepy, why there of all places? Are they like poor or something?”
Mickey made it sound like being poor was a cardinal sin.
Gads, what a snob!
Cat looked at BJ and BJ looked at Cat, both rolled their jaws staring hard at the back of Mickey’s head.
“She’s an scientist. An archeologist, I th…th…think. Even wrote and published a couple of books on all her discoveries, so I know they’re not poor.”
Shallow was too deep a word for Mickey Jackson.
She’d probably drown in a kiddie pool.
“I heard they needed the space,” Cree interjected. “And the cellar underground to keep safe all the stuff they brought back from their travels and digs around the world. Some more fragile than others, if you know what I mean.”
“Actually I don’t.” AC groused, trying not to sound too curious, even though he was. He didn’t like this new guy Leonidas, he was just too good-looking, even with the scar, to give him competition. And AC didn’t like any guy he considered better looking than himself. “What kind of stuff?”
“Dead stuff.” Cree smiled menacingly, nodding. So glad someone asked. He had been dying to mention it. Get it? Dying. Cree laughed out loud. He just cracked himself up.
“Oh, shut up.” Cat rolled her eyes, turning in her seat to look back at him. “Dead stuff? Get real, Cree – No way.”
“Oh, I’ve got something that will shut you up.” Cree leered at her. Never really liking the fact that someone as small as Cat Fox wasn’t afraid of him. But to be honest, it kinda turned him on.
“Watch it.” David growled in warning, making Cree shift uncomfortably agitated in his seat at the response.
“No really,” Cree clarified, loving all the attention as every eye in the room focused on him. He did his best to ignore David. After this morning, he didn’t want to get into it with him again. That, he was saving for later tonight when he could catch the colored jerk off guard and make him squeal like the boy he was. “My Mom got all the deets from Gregory Ruins this morning before she went to work. Then, when she was heading to the feed store, driving down Main she told me she saw this huge moving van in front of the old church, over the tracks. She said everything was hard to make out because of the fog, not that she was really paying attention…”
“Because you know she’s not nosy at all.” David snorted.
Cat and BJ laughed, and Inn covered his smirk with his hand. David, Cree would ignore and did as he continued, but him, Inn thought, he wouldn’t be so lucky and he would suffer Cree’s wrath if Cree saw him.
“…And she saw guys carrying all sorts of stuff into the old church by way of the cellar doors.” Cree paused for effect. “She said this one thing looked like a saracopia.”
That had everyone stumped.
“A what?” Brad asked engrossed, turned sideways in his seat, leaning back over the backrest of his desk, staring at Cree.
Cat just kept her mouth shut and cut her eyes towards BJ, who slowly turned around in her seat and gave Cree a dark look. Surely Cree couldn’t be that stupid.
“You know,” Cree waved his hand in Brad’s direction, speaking down to him, in an erroneously preconceived notion that he knew what in the heck he was talking about. “One of those old things they buried bodies in like in Egypt or something.”
OK. He was actually that stupid, Cat thought with a huge internal chuckle.
Cat sent a laughing look in BJ’s direction, while covering her smiling mouth. There were very few things that got BJ as mad as just blatant stupidity. It drove her batty, to the point to where she could never resist pointing it out.
Why was she surrounded by morons? BJ wondered, sighing dramatically, noticing Cat’s look. She shook her head, rolling her eyes and rubbed her forehead. Cree didn’t scare her and she wouldn’t have kept quiet even if he did. It just wasn’t BJ’s way, “You mean a sarcophagus, you idiot.”
Cree barred his teeth as a few of the braver kids in the class laughed at BJ’s remark meant to insult his intelligence, which it did. In embarrassment, Cree recklessly lashed out, “Watch who you’re calling an idiot, you stupid cow.”
AC laughed, loving the jab at his beloved, but just had enough time to duck, as a text-book came flying at them from the side, hitting Cree squarely in the side of the head…
Knocking him out of his chair.
It was BJ’s book.
The one she had tossed at David earlier.
Fitting, as well as ironic.
Cat who had turned quickly in her seat at the sound of the loud ‘thwack’ when David hit Cree with the book, gasped as the back wall of the classroom seemed to drip with rivers of blood, raining down from the blood soaked ceiling.
On a blink, and with a quick shake of her head, Cat closed her eyes, opening them quickly seeing nothing out of the ordinary, but the poster covered, ordinary white of the classroom walls.
No blood. It was gone as fast as it had appeared.
A quick glance around the classroom, clued Cat into the fact that no one, but her had seen the display, as the rest of the class were all staring in rapt attention at Cree and David as the tension built.
Lucky her, or lucky them…Depending on how one looked at it, Cat supposed.
David, who had thrown the book at Cree at the insult he had tossed out To BJ, stood up slowly. “I told you to watch it with the ladies, Meathead.”
Cat stood quickly, more than happy to have a possible fight distract her from non-bloody, bloody walls, and held her hands out calmly towards a raging David, while studiously avoiding looking at the back wall, just in case, “Whoa there, big fella…It’s all good.”
“Good, hell?” BJ frowned up at Cat, only to turn to wave her hand at David in a go ahead manner, towards Cree. “Kill him.”
“Barbara Jean!” Cat admonished with a slap to her arm, but BJ just shrugged innocently at her.
However when David took a step forward towards Cree, apparently intent on doing just that, BJ bolted up from the chair, throwing out her hands in a panic, “Kidding, David! Geesh – I was kidding!”
Inn stood up quickly as well, interjecting as fast as possible, in hopes to avoiding a fight by getting everyone distracted as Cree growled, pushing up from the floor, “I think C…c…Cree’s right.”
The fact that anyone could ever thing Cree was right, about anything, much less Inn, who Cree tormented endlessly, on a daily basis, immediately gave everyone pause.
David and Cree included.
Now that he had everyone’s attention, and bloodshed was averted Inn said, “Mrs. Pope is supposed to be some world-renowned archeologist. I heard my parents talking about it the other night in the study after dinner. She’s supposed to have some wicked collection of ancient religious artifacts, so if she does have a sarcophagus in her collection, I guess it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to me or that big a stretch as she lived in Egypt for a number of years.”
David was one of the few people, with the exception of Cat, whom Inn respected and the last thing he wanted was for David to get expelled again…Even if it was for beating up Cree.
The jerk just wasn’t worth it.
Both Cree and David returned to their seats, but kept a wary eye on each other.
“What would s…s…surprise me however, would be if there was s…s…still an actually mummy in it. Highly doubtful.” Inn shook his bright red-head, scratching his chin. He scrunched up his nose, as he adjusted his glasses with a push of his finger, “I d…d…d…don’t think they let people just walk out of tombs in Egypt with one of those th…th…things, world-renowned archeologist or not.”
“If she’s so excellent, why did they move to The Fare, of all places?” Matt wondered what they were all thinking out loud. “Haunted armpit of the world. What the heck is she going to do here?”
Cat, once again back in her seat, wondered the same thing. Turning to face the front in her seat, she tilted her head just slightly, and cut her eyes, to glance back at the back wall of the classroom, for one more quick check.
“Retire maybe?” Brad answered, shrugging at Matt.
Relieved, Cat was just turning her head back towards the front of the classroom however, as a body covered in torn, dirty rags seemed to drop down from the ceiling, with a noose around its neck, just out of the corner of her eye, by the classroom’s door.
It was doing the dance-wiggle of death.
Cat started, when she jerked her head to look directly at it, only to see nothing there.
What in the heck was going on with her today?
BJ, watching Cat’s reaction, in tune to it even, saw Cat’s hesitant glance to the back of the room, then she saw her start, her jerked head motion towards the front of the class, but following Cat’s gaze she saw nothing out of the ordinary.
“What?” BJ asked Cat silently, with a gentle hand on her arm. “Too much caffeine?”
Cat’s green eyes shot to BJ’s concerned blue ones. “It’s nothing.” Cat told her, but added, “Nothing.” If but to do nothing else than convince herself.
“I heard from my Dad that her husband was murdered.” Brad said, because it was just too juicy not to put it out there.
“Your Dad is the just the athletics coach, how would he know anything?” Cat asked, head down, her hands bracing on both sides of her face, intent on seeing nothing else today, she stared hard at her desktop.
“He knows,” Brad said the picture of affronted youth. “Because he was at the school board meeting where Principal Jackson broached the possibility of Mrs. Pope subbing here, and in order for her to substitute here, there had to be full disclosure on her past history with the board…As a result we get the deets on murdering goodness.”
“Ooo yeah!” Brad stood and high-five Matt.
“Their inanity is glaring. Surely their parents gave them a lobotomy and just didn’t tell anyone…” Marigold whispered to Cat, nodding to Matt and Brad, careful so no one would notice. “Starkly obvious, or is it just me?”
“Murdered?” Matt grinned hugely up at Brad. “That’s awesome.”
Cat smiled at her, peeking around her hands, shaking her head, she reached out quickly and patted the larger girl’s shoulder. Marigold had a real dry sense of humor if anyone took the time to notice. Seldom did. Cat enjoyed her.
Not so much the bloodied fingers that seemed to grasp Marigold’s desktop as something appeared to be hiding underneath.
Cat jerked her eyes back down to concentrate on her desktop, again her hands desperately framing her face to keep her from seeing anything else.
She had seen more than enough today thank you and was about to reach her limit.
“Ew.” BJ saw the exchange between Cat and Marigold, and grimaced at Cat, while shaking her head saying silently so Marigold wouldn’t hear her. Cat after all, hated when that happened. Holding out a hand in front of Cat’s framed face BJ counted off two words on her fingers, of the utmost importance, punctuating why Cat shouldn’t touch Marigold, “Glue. Eater.”
Cat returned the favor by silently whispering two words at her friend, after shoving her own hand in front of BJ’s face, counting them off on her fingers as well, “Get. Over’it.”
“That’s not two words.” BJ informed her archly, slapping at her hand.
“It is if you say it fast enough.” Cat replied back, as she resumed her facial blocking posture.
“It’s murdering goodness and awesome only if you’re not Mr. Pope, or his family.” David interjected, knowing what it was like to lose a parent in such a horrible fashion, remembering his Mom, but as usual he went ignored.
No one wanted to speak to him directly.
He scared them all too badly.
Plus, the life he led, without a mother, or a father, being raised by a crazy aunt was not a life any of them could identify with, connect too…
It was just too depressing.
Not even the most out-casted of the lot, Marigold Dorsey.
BJ turned slightly around in her seat to give David a soft smile of support, but he had already dropped his head back down, his black dreadlocks framing his face is a silken curtain, and he was lost too deep in his perpetual brood to notice.
BJ coughed loudly, shifting in her seat, trying to cover her instinctual nurturing actions towards David, as if that was the cause of her movements, but Cat sitting beside her caught the caring, concerned looks back to David and she knew better…
So did AC who snarled silently in his seat beside Cree. Vowing that BJ would get hers. He would see to it.
Brad’s voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper, as he continued. “I hear he was butchered by a bunch of thieves that invaded their excavation site in the desert just outside of some town called Qumran…At least I think my Dad said Qumran, or maybe Iran…Whatever, who knows, who cares, but he was butchered & that is so cool. That I do know.”
“Nice to know you just picked out the important parts. ‘Butchered’ by ‘thieves’. Ok, got it.” Pfft David scoffed, still looking down. Who cared if no one talked to him? He didn’t need anyone anyway. “Yeah right.”
Even though he answered him, Brad didn’t look in David’s direction. The dude scared the crap out of him! “I kid not.”
They say some of the scars on David’s body were inflicted by his aunt, branding him as a child, and rumor is that David had enjoyed the pain so much, he had continued the process and had given himself scars ever so often, ever since…
Because he just loved the pain and got off on it. How very Emo of him? Brad thought, thinking of the scale-like brands he had seen on the palm of each of David’s hands. And from the looks of it, he had some nice fresh gouges on his neck to add to all the others. Damn, those looked like they hurt, but David probably enjoyed them too. Brad shivered in his seat – Talk about freak!
Knowing that, why would anyone ever consciously speak to David Zulu was beyond him, Brad thought to himself, but said out loud, “They say he was eventually beheaded and get this, hot molten iron was then poured into the hole. His body was this dropped into the Nile, to be chawed on by the crocs.”
“Excellent.” Matt nodded.
Cat had enough of their idiocy, especially since Leonidas wasn’t here to defend himself or his family, “I’m impressed too Brad. That’s a lot of details to be remembered by such a little brain. Just how much of that did you make up?”
Brad ignored the insult, and let it pass, because Cree was still rubbing his head in the back of the room from when David beamed him with the book for insulting one of the girls, proving at least to Brad’s mind, his brain wasn’t as small as everyone thought, “I didn’t make up any of it. It’s the truth, so says my Dad.”
“Iron?” David whispered, his brow furrowing in concern, as he hunkered over in his desk, rolling his fingers over the top in a successive beat as his mind began working the possibilities. The specificness of that bothered him. A lot.
“Ouch.” AC automatically replied, however still staring with eyes burning with hatred at BJ’s back.
As was the way of most morbid teenagers, the talk of murders and the dead quickly diverted any thoughts of fights, confrontations, or even differences.
But the brewing adolescent hatreds just continued to bubble under the surface, charging the room on all fronts and from all corners.
“Ouch is right,” Brad laughed. “Someone really wanted to make sure that dude was not only dead, but stayed that way.”
“I’ll say.” David whispered, but the manner of Mr. Pope’s supposed death began to nag him. It just didn’t sit right and sounded way too specific to be a coincidence and just a tad superstitious, not to mention supernatural. Did his way of death mean what David thought it meant?
“Weird.” BJ and Cat said simultaneously, each separately lost in thought. Hearing each other, they laughed uncomfortably at each other’s reply and shifted uneasily in their seats.
Cat rolled her eyes at the statement, because coming back from the dead was what, a recurring problem that must be addressed where Leonidas was from?
Iron? BJ thought, there was something about the strangeness of that hideous death resonated with her, even if she couldn’t pinpoint the cause. Why iron? She remained strangely quietly contemplative, for that matter so did Cat, as the talk around them continued, each thinking about the new boy and each for completely polar reasons.
“Who cares if he died?” Izzy Pepper, not one to be left out of the center of attention without a fight, said with a toss and a flip of her vapid blond head, “It doesn’t have anything to do with me.”
“Aha!” BJ snapped her fingers, unable to stay quite at such an egotistical response. “Proof to my hypothesis that Black Holes are self-sustaining, but have no real intellectual thought processes,” BJ said looking at Cat, pointing at the back of Izzy. “See.”
“Hey,” Spinning in her seat, Mickey looked at Izzy excitedly, ignoring BJ. What she said about her often made so little sense to her, Mickey figured it wasn’t something to get worked up over. “What if in that ‘coughing’ thing…”
“Sarcophagus.” BJ growled out, rolling her eyes heavenwards, praying for deliverance, she slapped her desktop with the face of her open palms. “Oh, for the love of all that’s hol – It’s called a freaking sarcophagus!”
“Whatever.” Mickey waved BJ’s clarification off, still looking at Izzy. BJ didn’t merit a direct address, shouting at her that way. “What if it has her husband in it?”
“Well, ew.” Izzy shivered. Brad was quick to try to comfort her, with an arm around her shoulders, as he tried to get a peek down her tight black cheer sweater but was given a solid slap in the chest as a result of his efforts.
“What, seriously?” Brad frowned at her. “So you missed the ‘fed to the crocodiles’ part?”
Cat finally dropped her framing hands and looked to a moaning BJ, then back up to an excited Mickey. Watching Mickey form conclusions was like watching someone bash themselves in the head with a hammer, over and over again.
Painful to witness, but you just couldn’t turn away.
“No. Just…No. Probably not.” Propping her chin in her hand, Cat simply muttered, to BJ sitting at her side, “And yet further evidence to your hypothesis that Black Holes are self-sustaining, but aren’t free thinking…Yay for you.”
BJ nodded in Mickey’s and Izzy’s direction, “I’m thinking science fair.”
“Funny,” Cat smirked with a shrug. “I was thinking mental ward.”
“Har-har.” Undeterred by the holier-than-thou-art Catherine Fox, Mickey turned to her with condescending eyes, “Well, if it doesn’t have a body in it, then why keep the disgusting thing in the first place?”
“That’s a very good question, Mickey.” Cat said thoughtfully surprised, head turning to stare with sightless eyes out the classroom window. All her thoughts were centered on a Pope, the one very much alive, now that the specters floating about today, had finally seen to it to give her a bit of a reprieve. “A very good question indeed.”
“I think we should ask him.” BJ offered, with a wiggle of her brow, and a nudge of her shoulder to Cat’s as her voice was resolute with determination.
“You know what,” Smiling at BJ, thoroughly pleased with her, Cat turning back towards her friend, agreed. Now that was what best friends were for. “I think you’re right.”
“So do I.” David silently concurred, his mind racing with the possible horrific implications of what it could mean if the use of iron was intentional and not an accidental rite. “So do I.” A rite to stop evil. Who was this Leonidas Pope and just what had he brought with him to The Fare?
Time to find out.