Magical Security Taskforce




1 2 3 4 5 6

Chapter 34: See No Evil

Session One

A nasty ice storm hit L. B. Gould two days later, one of those freak incidents of nature where rain freezes on its way down. In the morning, every car in town was either trapped in a driveway with its doors welded shut or in a ditch off the turnpike somewhere. Normally, even this wouldn't be enough to cancel school- unfreezing her car doors was an easy enough spell for Molly. But the re-emerging Hageshoni presence left her exasperated enough to want a day off.

Despite the 'snow day,' there wasn't much in the way of snow, thus inhibiting the recreation. The lack of safe transportation meant that most kids simply claimed a quiet day at home watching TV.

Our group, however, was going to the mall. This included Kurt, who skidded sideways through an intersection. He calmly corrected his fishtail and continued along unfazed.

It frazzled his passenger pretty good though. “Are... are you sure you're okay driving in this?” Yuki cried.

Kurt chuckled, swerving to pass a road salter. “Sure, I grew up in Wisconsin. Been waiting for a chance to try driving in this crap.”

He settled down and continued on their drive to pick up Kathryn on the edge of town. Seeking to calm Yuki down a little, Kurt resorted to idle shop talk.

Unfortunately, he asked, “So did you get that room sprayed?”

This made Yuki tense up. Yes, she had gone back and completed her task afterwards, but the incident with Sho and Kamila still bothered her. Problem was, she was sworn to secrecy. After some soul-searching, she decided that Kurt wasn't technically part of 'the gang' and that Sho's presence in the dark room needed to be reported.

“Yes, but the first time I tried, someone was in there.”

“Oh, Donovan?”

“No, uh... Sho.”

In shock, Kurt almost slammed on the brakes right there, which would have been a bad idea on the ice. Instead, he turned and stared open-mouthed at Yuki. Of course, this too was a bad idea while driving, but not one worthy of italics.

“Oh, man... what was he doing in there?”

Yuki looked away, and down. “Well... he wasn't alone. Kamila was in there too.”


“Yeah. Kamila and Sho are apparently going out.”

Kurt faced forward again. Disappointed, he said, “Oh.” That was, unfortunately, consistent. “Did he do anything suspicious?”

Yuki scoffed. “Everything he did was suspicious. But it's not like he can use magic with Kamila right there.”

“Oh yeah.” After thinking for a moment, he calmly came to a conclusion. “Well, obviously we don't want to get her mixed up in this. Maybe we should just talk her out of it so she doesn't get too close to him.”

“Well, that's the problem. She told me not to tell anybody because she doesn't want Marie and them to lecture her like that.”

“Oh.” Kurt shook his head. This was an annoying complication, especially since he wasn't sure just how much it mattered. Sho was an obvious suspect... almost too obvious. In a way, that was his only source of doubt. And he wasn't about to interfere with someone's personal life, odd as it was, unless he was absolutely sure.

“Maybe we should just let it go,” Yuki said. “I mean, if Sho is a demon, you'll take him out secretly and we can either let Kamila get over it or rewrite her memory so she never knew about him.”

“Perhaps, but what if he tries to sign her over?”

Yuki stared straight ahead, stunned at the thought. “She wouldn't go for that... would she?”

“No, but I didn't think Donovan would either. I won't say anything to Kamila today, but the sooner we get those those two apart, the better.”

Yuki nodded. “Hey, if she's into that type, maybe we should fix her up with Donovan,” she suggested playfully.

“We can't be that mean to her.”


Braving the elements, all parties reached the mall safely. To the surprise of some, this included Renee. Marie and Kamila struggled to come up with a polite way of asking 'who invited you?”

They never got the chance. Renee led the group away from the entrance toward the mall's inner sanctum. “This was a great idea. It's so quiet. Bet we can get some serious shopping done.”

“Shopping?” Troy was confused. “I was never informed that shopping was involved.”

Marie clutched his hand. “It's optional. We don't have to. Although since we are here...”

Troy groaned. “Am I going to wish I had a Game Boy?”

“No shoes, I promise.”


Kurt chuckled and patted Kathryn's back. “So glad you're not a big shopper.”

“Uh, actually...” Kathryn rubbed the back of her neck. “I need some new basketball shoes. Wore the last ones out and need to break in a new pair before the playoffs.”

Glaring back, Kurt replied, “You need me around for that?”

“Yeah, there's a hoop in the store to try them out. I need a sparring partner.”

“What about Kamila?”

“And someone with money.”

Kamila laughed. “Yeah, this is your department. I got aimless wandering to do.”

“Yay for aimless wandering!” cried Yuki and Renee, joining their de facto leader.

Troy raised his eyebrows, amused. “I see. The singles get to go have fun.”

Yuki tilted her head and blurted, “Well, but Kamila's not-” she caught herself, but it was too late. The little squeak she added when she realized her mistake didn't help matters. Neither did Kamila's surprised grunt, nor the look she threw Yuki.

Kathryn picked up on it, and armed with a sly smile she went in closer to examine Kamila's avoidances and Yuki's look of horror. She drew a quick conclusion and stared Kamila in the eyes.

“So what's his name?” she asked.

Sneering at Kathryn and Yuki intermittently, Kamila had no escape. Busted, she uttered the name that sent everybody into fits of disgust, disapproval... and in Yuki's case, guilt.


Session Two

The first vocal response came from Kathryn. It was one of confusion. “Sho? Who's that?”

Kurt set a hand on her shoulder. “Some creepy new kid. Spiked hair, dresses in gray, evil eye...”

“Donovan?” Kathryn replied, still confused.

Kamila threw a hand up. “Hell no! Donovan's just a wannabe. At least Sho pulls that look off.”

“Still... he doesn't look all that stable,” Kurt said.

“You don't know him,” she muttered.

They heard an unhappy scoff from behind. It came from Marie. “I do. I don't want to have anything to do with him. You know how I feel about him and I'm not going to talk about it.” She marched away, grabbing Troy's arm. “Come on, Troy.”

Seeing the tense looks on his friends' faces, Troy followed obediently. “Yes, yes,” he said, eager to get away. “In fact, you should try on everything.”

Glaring at Kurt and Kathryn one more time, Kamila turned around and stormed off on her own. After Kamila gained a short head start, Yuki jogged after her, with Renee following.

Once Yuki caught up, the pleading began. “I'm really sorry! It just kinda slipped out!” Kamila didn't respond. “Kamila, it was an accident, really! Please don't be mad at me!”

Finally, Kamila turned and barked back, “You need to be more careful, okay? You saw how they got.” She huffed, trying to calm down, and failing. “Even accidents hurt.” Yuki looked down, nodded and sniffled.

“I don't see what the problem is,” Renee said, calmly sneaking up behind them. “It's easy to not understand people. How long have you known him?”

Kamila didn't seem all that happy about Renee joining in on the conversation, but answered, “Start of the semester.”

“How many times have you gone out?”

Now Kamila just looked annoyed. She folded her arms and looked away. “Couple times,” she answered.

Renee nodded. “What do you see in him that they don't?”

“I... I don't know.” She shook her head, trying to come up with a decent answer. “He doesn't seem all that bad to me. He's just... cool.”

Chuckling, Renee sighed and leaned against a wall. “Yeah, I know how it feels. It's happened to me too.”

After a pause, Kamila raised an eyebrow at her. “What has?”

“Being attracted to someone that you shouldn't be.”

“Really...” Kamila turned back to her, too curious to avoid asking, especially with the 'shouldn't be' part. “Who's this now?”

Renee blushed and Kamila went in deeper, lifting her chin and awaiting an answer. Even Yuki started to hone in on Renee. Finally, Renee relented, sighed and let out a name more humiliating than Sho: “Donovan.”

“What?!” Kamila shouted. “Are you serious? That idiot?”

Now thoroughly embarrassed, Renee tried to clarify. “It was just for a second, and totally not romantically. Just for a bit I thought I was interested in him.” When Kamila shook her head and turned away, Renee raised her eyebrows at Yuki. “Definitely not now.” Yuki nodded back, knowingly.

Kamila snickered. “For a second there, I thought you were going to say Troy.”

Renee's cheeks reddened. Kamila saw this and grinned.

“I mean, 'cause I've always wondered. You've got a million other friends you could hang out with, and yet you're always with us. And I see how you are around Troy...”

“Kamila, please...” Yuki pleaded. Renee just stared back, frightened at Kamila's deductions.

But Kamila went on: “I mean, he fits Marie perfectly, but I don't know why you'd have any interest in a dope like Troy. Still, he's pretty weak and Marie's so passive... if you wanted him, no problem, right?”

Again, Yuki intervened. “That's not what's going on! Renee, tell her...”

Renee couldn't speak. What Kamila was describing was awful. The desperate tactics from the worst sort of nasty teenager. That someone could accuse her of all that was only made worse by how exposed she felt. Bad it sounded, Renee had no other plea but guilty.

Smirking, Kamila went for the kill. “Admit it- you have a thing for Troy, don't you?”

There was no escaping it. Kamila wasn't budging. Yuki could only stare back, horrified that the subject was broached and even more fearful that Renee would confirm it. But Renee had no choice. She couldn't deny that she had been swayed by his positive attitude, occasional spurts of courage and, unfortunately, someone else landing him instead.

“Yeah... I kinda do,” she said, very softly.

Normally such a revelation would give everyone pause, or at least create enough chaos to throw any witnesses off their game. Certainly, this was the case with Yuki, who stepped back, unsure what to make of what seemed to her to be a perfectly good plot twist. Of course, Kamila had already made the connection. She wasn't surprised, nor did she revel in her successful 'outing.'

Instead, she drove her point home: “Then what right do you have lecturing me on who I shouldn't be going out with? You can't even get your own act together.”

Renee looked away; one more point for Kamila. This was turning into a rout.

“Stay away from them,” Kamila spat. “Marie's a good girl, but I know you've got her beat in looks and smarts. You can have any guy in school. Don't steal hers.” She turned around and walked away. Neither Renee nor Yuki followed her. Kamila was on her own and they got the feeling she wanted to be.

Besides, Yuki was still stunned. “So... you do like Troy?”

Renee had been silenced herself. Kamila's words were half-threat, half-plea and both seemed to hit her with full power. “Yeah,” she whispered back. “How did she figure all that out?” Honestly, Renee wasn't even conscious of the way she slowly gravitated towards Troy. She had never considered the significance of her movements.

Yuki turned away. She looked a little ashamed as well. “Well, it's not just Kamila... Kathryn was thinking the same thing.” Sighing, she looked up at Renee and frowned. “And I hate to say it, but I'm kinda on their side with this. Sorry.”

Just like that, Renee was on her own too.


Session Three

Most of the time, Molly waited for new students to cause trouble before breaking them. But every so often, someone would come along that she just knew would be problematic. In those cases, she took the initiative and called a meeting with the would-be freedom fighter. As far as threatening her position, she doubted Sho was all that dangerous. The quiet, scary kid was never going to move an entire populace to revolution, at least not at this school. But it was a good opportunity to feel him out.

The ice day pushed their appointment back a day but he did arrive, ignoring Claude and deliberately striding into Molly's office. He moved slowly, took a chair before Molly asked him to and glared at her. She wasn't sure if these were natural movements or he was just trying to scare her, but they worked. It took a moment for her to collect herself and remember her own arsenal of intimidation tactics.

As contemptuous as possible, she began, “I just wanted to welcome you to this school. I understand Claude gave you the initial introduction while I was away on business, but I like to meet with new students personally so they understand what is... expected of them.”

Normally drawing out the 'expected' to make it sound more sinister made kids squirm. Sho merely folded his arms; his head jostled a little but his glare held.

After the initial ground rules, detailing the mandated subservience to faculty, administration and council, she handed him a folder, embossed with the school insignia. “We also collect student dues. Just a small payment every month or so to fund homecoming, class trips, riot police, espionage, prom... the usual. Claude's very good at reminding kids to pay up, so don't worry if you forget the first time.” Sho took the folder, opened it, skimmed the top page and looked back up at her- no reaction.

Normally, this was the part where even the most passive student would be outraged by the blatant extortion attempts, giving Molly the chance to crush them completely. His lack of emotion made her worry. “Do you understand?” she asked, slowly. He simply nodded.

“Do you have any questions?”

Sho shook his head, still slow, still glaring. Five minutes in and he had not said a word nor inflected a thing. Molly felt it futile to continue probing him. “Then you are dismissed.”

He stood and slowly stepped out of the office, glaring once more at Molly before shutting the door behind him.

“What do you think?” Molly asked.

Kurt appeared, stepping out of a circle in the corner. He turned off a video camera. “How'd you do this invisibility circle without the book?”

She rolled her eyes. Molly had copied a few of the more useful spells, but that wasn't what she meant. “What do you make of Sho?”

“Well, if he is a demon, he's doing a really bad job of blending in.”

“Is that a no?”

He shook his head, a little concerned. “If we were looking for a Hokoni, I wouldn't suspect him. But we're talking about a Hageshoni. Sometimes they just aren't concerned with hiding themselves.”

“They can't accomplish much uncloaked.”

“They can attack.”

Molly closed her eyes and took a few breaths. She was afraid he'd say that.

Trying to be reassuring, he said, “That's why I taped it. I'll send it to the office to look over.”

“Another Cincinnati trip?”

“Nah, I'll just put it on YouTube. And that folder had a spell to record biometrics. They can draw all sorts of stuff from that. If he is a demon, we'll know in a few days and take him out.”

“They would have you capture a Hageshoni?” Molly said, not masking her concern.

Kurt shook his head rapidly. The thought scared him too. “Not alone I won't. I'll bring backup. And we'll wait for Miguel to take out that mark again.”

“When's that happening?”

“Sunday. Take out the mark, take out the demon... just like that.”

Molly took a deep breath and nodded. One meeting with Sho and she didn't know if she could last a week with him, let alone four months if he wasn't actually demonic.

“What do we do until then?” she asked.

“Nothing drastic. Don't do anything to make him think we're onto him. If you keep tabs on him, do it through Claude. I don't want you or anybody else getting too close.”

That reminded him of the Kamila situation. He wasn't sure if that complicated matters or not. Kamila was a friend of the group, and naturally somebody that had to be protected, but she was not in the MST.

“What?” Molly caught him pondering the problem in his head and wanted in.

Grimacing, Kurt explained, “Oh, uh... one of Kathryn's friends is going out with him.”

Molly blinked. “Kathryn has strange friends.”

“Yeah. I don't know if that interferes or not.”

“Claude and I can break them up.”

Kurt frowned at her. “That's your solution for everything, isn't it?” Molly leaned back, somewhat offended. “Don't worry about it. Kamila's tough enough to avoid being taken advantage of and I don't want you making a scene.”

Fair enough, Molly reasoned, but she still needed to do something. It wasn't her nature to sit by and let the higher powers resolve this. But resigned to his advice, all she could do was stand and slowly walk out of the room with Kurt. “Understandable. I'll still feel better getting regular reports from Claude.”

Before opening the door into the public world, Kurt said, “We'll take care of this. We're not being caught by surprise this time.”

She looked down. “I know. But given how badly they've handled prior incidents and how unpredictable the Hageshoni can be... I can't help but feel a little worried.”

He opened the door, casually and absent-mindedly setting a hand on her shoulder as they passed through. “Trust me, it's under control this time.” Molly didn't shrug it off at first. Kurt had to remove it himself before he walked out into the hallway. He took one last look at Molly, who stared down blankly before picking herself back up and turning to boss around Claude.

“Trouble in paradise?” muttered Kathryn, somewhere where Kurt couldn't be sure whether or not she was being sarcastic. Either way, she startled him and he jumped.

“Hey.” He forced a smile.

There was no sarcasm when she frowned and asked, “Is something wrong?”

He looked back at Molly, who had miraculously recovered and was barking at Claude. Turning back to Kathryn, he figured he had to follow his own guidelines. “Just some routine business. Tying up some things.”

Her eyes narrowed; he knew immediately that she'd sniffed out his lie. “Doesn't look too routine,” she said, bitter.

“Look I...” He tried looking her in the eyes, but Kathryn wanted answers he knew he shouldn't provide. He didn't want to tell her Kamila was dating a suspected demon. Even if she had heard it from Yuki, telling her something that frightening was beyond him. “'s private. I don't want it going around. I'll talk to you later.”

He turned around and walked away, ignoring her calls for him. Cold as he knew it was, there was no way he could tell her. And the only way to avoid telling her was to leave her, much as both of them hated it.


Session Four

The lasting image in Kathryn's mind after the incident had nothing to do with Kurt. Okay, it had everything to do with Kurt, but it was the vulnerable look on Molly's face that Kathryn was fixated on for the rest of the day. Like most students, she had bought into the notion of Molly being the unflinching stone wall as pictured in the pro-council propaganda. To see her otherwise was a bit jarring, particularly given whom she was with.

“Something wrong?” Troy asked. Normally, Kathryn had finished half of her lunch before the sophomore trio arrived at the table. Today she was well behind her pace, staring blankly at the student council office at the other side of the room.

She shook herself out of her trance and replied, “Yeah, Kurt was talking to Molly again this morning.”

Troy looked down. “Oh,” he said, not particularly enthusiastic. He considered letting the conversation end there, but clearly something was bothering Kathryn and it was sort of his job to wrestle it out. “What for?”

“He won't say. That's what bothers me. And there's gotta be something going on because Molly looked a little scared.”

That got his attention. “Molly? Scared?” After some thought, he added, “I suppose that's conceivable.”

Kathryn nodded. “Yeah, I guess. But honestly, she never looks scared. God forbid she look human. But there she was... something's going on, Troy.”

“What's that?” Marie asked, as she and Kamila took their assigned seats. Yuki was behind them.

“Oh, uh, nothing,” Troy said, rather unconvincingly. Marie narrowed her eyes at him.

Needing to bail him out, Kathryn said, “Another thing with Kurt. Don't worry about it.”

“We like worrying about it. It's fun,” Kamila said.

“You've got your own boy to argue with now. Leave mine alone.”

Marie shuddered. “Please. Can we not bring up him?”

Kathryn nodded in agreement. When she noticed the empty seat next to Yuki, a new topic emerged. “Hey, we missing somebody? Where's Renee?”

Everybody looked at the vacancy. Indeed, Renee was gone. They hadn't really noticed until Kathryn brought it up. The speculation over whether she was in school that day went nowhere. Finally, Marie settled it, pointing at a distant table. There Renee sat, smiling neutrally and laughing politely with three boys- all of whom could only be described using the word geek.

They were diverse enough- the skinny one, the overweight one and the medium one with the extra-unsightly glasses and braces to compensate. All perfectly decent gentlemen to be sure, but their lack of social grace and unfortunate complexions left them towards the bottom on the social ladder. Not that they cared: their vast knowledge transcended the high school food chain. Still, they greeted Renee's presence with some degree of celebrity.

“She's hanging out with Ben's group?” Yuki remarked, a little disgusted.

Kathryn clicked her tongue. “She ditched us for the geeks. That kinda hurts.”

Not for Kamila; she chuckled to herself. “Good,” she mumbled under her breath.

“Good?” Kathryn was on that immediately.

Kamila continued to snicker. “Nothing...”

She turned away from Kathryn and found Troy glaring back. “What did you do?” he said, surprisingly terse.

“I did you a favor,” she muttered. “That girl's trouble. She needed a kick in the pants and I gave her one.”

Troy didn't know what that meant. He wasn't sure he wanted to know. He also knew he wasn't going to get an honest answer from Kamila anyway. Turning back to the far table, Renee seemed happy with the geeks. Certainly, they had enough common interests to hold her attention. But then she looked back and met his eyes. Renee immediately frowned and looked away.

“Troy?” Marie asked. He returned his attention to the group. Kamila was sneering back, while Kathryn was averting her eyes. “You okay?”

He shook his head. “I would just like to know what's going on.”

“What?” Kamila snapped back. “She was making things uncomfortable. It's better with just us.”

“Of course it was uncomfortable. It's been uncomfortable since she started eating with us.” Troy's voice grew louder. “What's going on now that made you decide to... scare her away or whatever you did?”

“Why are you sticking up for her all of a sudden?”

“She's still a friend. And whatever you did to her, it's probably not a good way to treat one.”

He turned back to Renee's new table. There was no Renee. Scanning the room, he found her walking out of the cafeteria. Troy abruptly stood up and followed her, ignoring any of the questions and comments from below.

Once he was gone, Kathryn grumbled, “Uh oh.”

Marie darted between her and where Troy had left the room. “You think he's coming back, right?”

“He damn well better.”

That wasn't encouraging enough. Marie folded her arms and rested her chin on them.

After verifying that Troy really was gone, Kathryn turned to Marie. “Hey, what are you doing this weekend?”

Marie looked at Kathryn, but didn't move. “Nothing special,” she said, a little sour, “Why?”

“Ever been skiing?”

She lifted her head. “Not in a long time. Why?

“Family's going up to Mansfield Saturday. Said I could bring someone along. Interested?”

After glancing at Yuki and Kamila, who were barely paying attention, she turned back to Kathryn, surprised at the offer. “Well yeah. But wouldn't you rather take Kurt or Troy?”

“They don't deserve it. Besides, it would be nice to get away from them for a day and just have some fun ourselves. You know, talk smack about 'em, have cute guys hitting on us all day. It'll be sweet.”

Marie nodded. “Yeah, that does sound pretty nice. Although like I said I haven't gone skiing in forever.”

“Neither have I. Who cares?”

“Great. I'm in.” Marie smiled. In spite of the tensions with Troy, Renee and Kamila, it did make her feel better.

“And we're left out,” Kamila facetiously muttered to Yuki.

“We are not spying on Troy and Renee again,” Yuki replied. “Forget it.”

Kamila snickered. “You're no fun.”


Session Five

Troy caught up to Renee in the hallway and called her name. She turned and stopped, standing upright. She looked a little surprised, a little hopeful. “What's going on?” he asked. “Why are you hanging out with Ben Wharton all of a sudden?”

She sighed. “Ben and his friends are awesome. They're really great guys-”

“And we're not?”

Renee looked down. “I don't feel welcome anymore.”

“Is it Kamila?”

She shook her head. “She was the one that finally came out and said it. But it's her... Kathryn... heck, even Yuki.” Shrugging, she added, “Marie too, I imagine.”

His eyes widened. Yes, he was aware that Renee struggled to gain acceptance in his little circle. But he had always assumed it was limited to mere awkwardness. Open hostility was another matter, especially with Kathryn and Yuki.

“What's going on with them?”

Renee bit her lip and looked away. She had to say something. And bad as it made her look, her only real option was the truth.

“They think I'm just trying to get closer to you.”

For a moment, Troy forgot how to breathe. Other than that, he didn't really react. Once he was able to exhale, he replied, “Is that true?

She sniffed. “Yeah, kinda.” Renee looked up at him. He was at a total loss for words. She went on, “I didn't even think about it like that. It didn't even seem wrong. I just... wanted to be with you.”

He looked around. There were no hidden cameras or loudspeakers or slimy henchmen in sight. She was actually doing what he thought she was doing, with no catch.

“Troy,” she asked, getting him to immediately meet her eyes again. Once he was staring back, it took her a moment to find the words. “If... if I was maybe wanting to get back together with you... w-what would you say?”

Despite being unable to comprehend the question, unwilling to ponder the consequences and unnerved by the whole encounter, his answer was painfully easy:

“No,” he said, softly, but decisive.

Seconds later, Renee heard it. She needed to repeat it to make sure. “No?”

Sighing, he shook his head. “I'm with Marie.”

Her head drooped. “You really like her better than me?”

“I didn't say that,” he rushed to reply. “But I do like her. And I would never do something like that to her.”

Renee nodded. That was probably a positive trait, much as it worked against her. “I guess I blew my chance, huh?”

He scoffed. “Yeah... I mean, where was this when Molly was ruining my life? She's keeping me away from everything after school, having Claude follow me all the time? You didn't consider maybe sticking up for me back then?”

“I'm sorry...” She looked down. “I didn't dream of it back then. I didn't realize just how special you were. It just took some time at the aca-”

She stopped to let a girl pass through the hallway. She seemed a little pained to pause right there. Troy waited for the interloper to go by, then took Renee's wrist and fired off a teleportation spell. They reached a shady spot behind the school. “Go on,” he insisted.

Renee shivered; it was still January. “Yeah, everything at the academy, the way you fought those demons... you're amazing.”

Troy didn't take the compliment well. In fact, he was almost ready to cry. “You know, half the reason I was willing to play along with the MST was because I thought I just might be able to impress you.” He turned away. “Why'd you wait until now?”

She shook her head. “Troy, it took time for me to see all that. But Marie's not in it at all. She can't see any of it. She doesn't understand what's going-”

“And she likes me anyway,” he said, louder. Eyebrows narrowed, he was suddenly angrier. “She doesn't need any of that. She doesn't need me to cast a spell or save her life or fight demons. Marie figured out what I have to offer from the start. Don't bring magic into this.”

There it went- the one tenuous link to Troy she had been clinging to. She was a mage, Marie wasn't, and that gave her the edge. Not so much, as it turned out.

He started into his trigger, looking ready to leave her there without another word. But looking at her once more, he frowned and said, “You know I wanted to believe that you really were sitting with us so you could get to know me and Kathryn and Yuki better. That you actually wanted to try being friends with Marie and Kamila. I liked you, Renee. I really did. I probably still do. But ever since you started hanging out with us I kinda hoped that you weren't interested in me anymore. It would have made everything you've done seem... well... decent.”

Before he could say any more, and he considered it, he teleported back inside. Renee lingered in the cold for a while longer.


Marie and Kathryn went to dump off their trays, hit the bathroom and presumably have another heart-to-heart over the state of Marie's relationship. Kamila and Yuki remained at the table, where they were determined not to feel left out.

In need of some conversation to facilitate this, Yuki said, “So, uh... how is everything with you and Sho?”

“Fine. Why?” Kamila answered, absent-minded.

“Just asking. It's still hard to talk about him around Marie, isn't it?”

Kamila looked down. “Yeah.”

“That's not really fair.” Yuki's own opinion of Sho aside, she did sort of sympathize with Kamila. He was apparently important to her and she was essentially forbidden from discussing him.

Across the table, Kamila lifted her head. “Hey, how about you? What are you doing Saturday?”

“I'm open. Wanna do something with Kathryn and Marie gone?”

“Sure. I'll bring Sho along. You can actually meet the guy. He's not so bad. Honest.”

Yuki hesitated for a moment. Whether the way her friends stifled Kamila was fair or not, Sho was still a possible demon and she was still leery of spending time with him. Still, it was difficult to turn down an honest request. Perhaps it would help the investigation. Heck, perhaps Kamila would prove to be right and Sho would turn out to be a nice guy.

“Okay, sure. Where should we meet?”

“How about outside the school? About ten o'clock?”

“It's a date!” Yuki said. Both she and Kamila smiled.

“What, you've got a boyfriend too, Yuki?” Kathryn said, returning to her seat with Marie.

“Nah, Yuki and I are gonna hang out Saturday while you're out of town,” Kamila replied. Kathryn nodded.

“Ah. With Troy?”

Kamila snickered. “Nope. To hell with him. Where'd he go anyway?”

He arrived a few moments later, falling into his chair unhappily. At first he didn't acknowledge the rest of the group, focusing solely on what was left of his lunch. It had gone cold.

Marie gently set a hand on his wrist. “Troy?”

He turned to her suddenly, set his hands on her shoulders and swooped in for a prolonged kiss. Kathryn and Kamila's eyes bulged. So did Marie's, although she closed them immediately and blissfully let him do his thing.

Once Troy finally pulled away, he went back to his lunch without another word.


Session Six

“Thanks for the ride, Kurt,” Yuki said as he pulled his car up to the school that Saturday.

“No problem,” Kurt replied. “Sure I can't tag along? With Kathryn gone, I'm bored as hell.”

Yuki looked around the lot cautiously, then turned back. “Actually, uh...”


“I feel really bad saying this, but she's bringing Sho along. I don't suppose you could keep an eye on us to make sure he doesn't do anything?”

Kurt frowned for a moment, but she was definitely serious. He couldn't blame her. Chuckling, he replied, “No problem. Nothing else to do today.”

She sighed. “Thanks. I know I'm being a little paranoid, but he still creeps me out.”

“He creeps everybody out. Except Kamila, apparently.”

“You don't think he'd attack me, do you?”

Kurt shook his head. “Even if he was a demon, he wouldn't attack you with Kamila around. And I'm not so sure he is now. One test already came back negative.”

Yuki raised an eyebrow. “Which test?”

He sighed. “Sho had nothing to do with the marking in the dark room.”

“Well, that's good.”

Eying her uneasily, he replied. “Not really. We're at a dead end now. And it doesn't help to remove the marking when someone can just make a new one whenever he wants.”

“So what now?”

“Maybe Molly should get fingerprints from everybody in school. I'm sure she can arrange it.”

“Oh.” Yuki looked out the window. “So I guess watching us would be a waste of time?”

Kurt shrugged. “Like I said, I'm bored. Besides, this is technically work for me, so I'll get paid for it.”

Yuki's cell phone rang. She checked it, but didn't answer. “That's Kamila. I'd better get going. See you!”

He grinned. “Not if I can help it.”

Appropriately, Kamila was waiting by the practice field, throwing a football to Sho. To Yuki's surprise, he actually caught it and threw it back. It was an awkward, sloppy throw, but at least he was playing along.

“Hey Yuki!” Kamila shouted, “Jump on in. Weather's perfect!”

Yuki looked up and smiled. Less than a week after the ice storm, the sun was out on a beautiful 40 degree day. She could only wonder how bad the skiing conditions were for Kathryn and Marie.

“Head's up!” An incoming football interrupted her thoughts. Yuki got her hands up in time to bobble it. She picked it up from the grass and threw it back. It flew like a wounded duck. Her form was as bad as Sho's, without any muscle to compensate.

It bounced once or twice before Kamila picked it up. “I'm dealing with amateurs.”

“Sorry. So what are we doing today?”

“I don't know,” she replied, tossing to Sho. “Food. Goofing off. Same as always, I guess.”

“Is that what you two usually do on dates?” Yuki asked.

Sho returned the ball to Kamila. She sent it to Yuki and said, “Yeah, pretty much. Sho's not really the romantic type.”

Yuki couldn't comment as it took all her concentration to catch the ball. She managed to and heaved it back to Kamila.

“Jeez, everybody going through me today!” Kamila exclaimed with mock anger. She threw it to Sho. “You two can throw it to each other too, you know.”

As if on command, Sho turned to Yuki. The girl steeled herself for his pass. Although his throws had been far weaker than Kamila's, something about the idea of playing catch with him made her shudder.

There was no need to worry: the throw was not only weak, but high and off line. Yuki made a half-hearted effort to catch it, but it sailed over her head. She grumbled and chased after it. Not only was that demeaning, but she'd also have to run all the way back to enter the pitifully narrow range where she could actually reach Kamila. Already she was longing for a new activity.

The ball rolled up against the side of the school. As she picked it up, she could feel the awful sensation of something heading her way. By the time she turned around, the brick exterior of the wall had jutted out of the building and enveloped itself around her body.

Her head remained exposed, and she could see Sho striding slowly toward her. His expression hadn't changed, but now his arms were out in front of his face, hands on his shoulders. The wall around Yuki started constricting. The moment she realized that he was a demon was the same moment she realized that this demon was trying to kill her.

Yuki screamed, but the wall prevented her heaving, squeezing tighter against her chest. The only other person she could see was Kamila. Kamila was still on the field, her head turned away and her arms folded. Not concerned, not pleased... just impatient.

“Kamila!” Yuki shouted with one of the few gasps she figured she'd have left. Kamila didn't respond. If she did, it was nothing more than a head shake. It dawned on Yuki that they must have been in displacement, where the unattune wouldn't notice anything amiss. To Kamila, Yuki and Sho had just run off somewhere and wherever they went, it wasn't out of the ordinary.

“Kamila! Help!” It didn't stop Yuki from trying again. The brick wall threatening to crush her ribcage was a different matter.

Head to the ground, Kamila sighed.





Previous Chapter

Next Chapter