June 28, 2016 by Lyn
And you can ride clean, shorty you ain’t gotta walk
But it’s still one rule, player don’t get caught
“Clear,” Kailani whispered, the breeze she seemed to be talking to ruffling her hair. If he didn’t know better, Jamian would think she was enjoying this.
“Seriously, we have to be careful,” he whispered back. “Ty was right; we really have been being watched.” He’d seen it, this past week, obvious once he knew to look. It was usually Ofir, but he’d caught Ib’s eye on him more often than was comfortable, which was to say ever.
“I’m being careful,” she assured him. “The only person that doesn’t register as a different body temperature to the breeze is Anwell.”
“Anwell, really? Because of his…” Jamian gestured expressively, but largely meaninglessly. “…thing?”
“He’s cold-blooded, yes,” she agreed. “Come on, before someone comes by.”
Jamian hastened across the hall with her. “This feels so ridiculous.”
“Well, I don’t know how to be invisible yet, do you?”
“Uh. Theoretically? I mean, I’ve never actually done it…”
“It would be neat to try some time,” she allowed, “but right now, I just want to get to this door.” She murmured another working, paused, nodded, and knocked on the door in question.
Channing answered her door after only a moment. “Hello?”
“Hi,” Jamian stepped forward. “We stopped by a few weeks ago…?”
“Yes… oh. Okay. Come in?”
Kai had run her printer overtime making their little anonymous info packets; Jamian handed Channing one as they stepped in. “So, we’ve managed to compile everything we got,” he began.
“Everything?” Channing took the packet, looking over the cover. “Wow, there’s a lot here.”
“There is,” Kai agreed earnestly. “Almost all of it things that the upperclassmen and the Administration either don’t think to tell us or don’t want us to know. It’s…”
Jamian cut her off gently. “It’s important. But be careful.”
“Things they don’t want us to know? Okay. I’ll be careful.”
“Thanks.” Jamian swallowed a nervous lump in his throat.
“You guys aren’t going to get in trouble for this, are you?”
Before Jamian could answer, Kai did so, rather precisely. “It’s not against any listed rules.”
“Oh,” Channing said in a small voice, clearly able to read between the lines. “Be careful yourselves, then.”
“We’re trying,” Jamian assured her. “But, um. We were never here?”
“Right. And I’ll…” She waved the document about, looking around her room. “Put this somewhere, I guess.”
“Read it,” Kai urged, as Jamian tugged her towards the door. Channing nodded thoughtfully, and Kai let herself be towed, closing the door behind them.
“Hrmm.” Jamian did his version of the people-sensor, searching for nearby emotions.
The coast was clear; on to their next person. It was going surprisingly well, all things considered; of course, they were starting with the easy ones.
“I wonder if she’ll throw it out,” Kai mused.
“I think she’ll at least read it. She had her share of strange experiences.” She’s a blow-fish girl; she IS a strange experience.
“I hope so.” They knocked on their next door. Jamian watched Kai nervously; this suite had a fifty percent chance of being answered by a naked redhead.
This time, however, it was answered by a mostly-clothed blonde: Joff, with his shirt off but an apron on. “Come on… um. Rafe?”
“Come on in,” the wolfish boy called from the couch. Jamian exchanged a glance with Kai and stepped inside. These people were supposed to be safe, but could he come right out and say what they were here for?
Kai seemed to be having the same thoughts; and Joff appeared to be reading their minds. “We’re safe,” he assured them. “We only bite for fun, and stuff. Cookie?” He lifted a tray of freshly-baked cookies off the counter.
Jamian reached for a cookie without a second thought; he had wondered what smelled so good. “So, uh. Is Renata here?”
“She’s in our room,” Rafe nodded. “Go ahead on in.”
“Thanks.” He stuffed the cookie in his mouth and bit down; it tasted as good as it smelled.
Kai headed for the door, smirking at him with his mouth full of cookie. He let her take the lead; she knew Renata better than he did, anyway. They’d at least been on the trip together. While he’d stayed home and gotten stalked by angry bullies. It was kind of unfair.
“Come on in, Kai… Jamian. What’s up?”
“Well, we’ve kind of put together this handbook, I guess you’d call it, for the Fifth Cohort.”
“‘Welcome to being on the bottom; here’s how to survive?'” the blonde quipped.
“It’s not quite like that? Well, not entirely, at least. But we put together as much as we could figure out of the actual rules and Laws and such.”
“Oh, you mentioned that, didn’t you, Kai?” The way she looked at Kai reminded Jamian, more than anything, of the girls in high school; it seemed to hit his friend the same way. She nodded, close-lipped.
“And here it is.” Jamian produced one of the documents, holding it out to her. “So, you know, if you had any problems. Hopefully it helps.”
“Joff and Rafe are pretty helpful,” she answered, smiling with some clear affection at the closed door. “I guess they had it pretty bad last year.”
Meshach locked me in the closet… “So they’re being extra nice to you?” If it was true, it’d be a nice switch from what seemed the more commonplace reaction.
“I guess they are, yeah,” she nodded thoughtfully.
“That’s nice. We won’t waste any more of your time, then.” Kai was starting to look like a wilted flower, anyway.
“I’ll see you around,” Renata nodded, not getting up to see them out.
“Should we do Kylie too, while we’re here?” he asked Kai quietly as they left the bedroom.
“If she has her clothes on,” Kai muttered in reply.
“That’s not quite fair,” Jamian protested, although he’d been picturing her the same way. No, not picturing her, that wasn’t right… agh.
“Just accurate,” she pointed out.
He cleared his throat as they stepped out into the main room again. “So, uh, Rafe… is Kylie in, do you know?”
“Nah,” Rafe shrugged, “she’s out at Doug’s.”
“Doug’s?” Kailani blinked.
“He is her Mentor,” Jamian reminded her.
“Oh. Yeah.” She was, he could tell, trying to hide something like jealousy. Strange.
“Anything else I can help you with?” Rafe offered. “More cookies?”
“I won’t say no to another cookie,” Jamian grinned.
“Of course you wouldn’t,” Kai smiled, and then looked ruefully down at her flat stomach. “One, please.”
Rafe sent them on their way with their hands full of cookies, on to the next safe room. “Well, that wasn’t…”
“…I’m glad she had my necklace, from the field trip,” Kai interrupted, loudly.
“Necklace?” he blinked, puzzled. What was she talking about? It wasn’t like her to interrupt like that.
She pulled it out of her neckline, a pretty thing with a horse pendant. “I know, everyone here thinks jewelry around the neck is the equivalent of a collar, but when we were out there, well, my grandmother gave me this, and I’m glad I didn’t lose it.” She kept walking, taking them around the corner.
Slowly it dawned on Jamian what she was up to. Kai was usually so forthright, the unexpected subterfuge was harder to penetrate. “That’s nice,” he agreed, trying to catch up with the conversation. “Was that it? You mentioned ‘errands’, plural?”
“Yes,” she nodded. “Thanks for coming with me. I think after a week back, Conrad’s getting a little sick of my constant presence.” She kept chattering cheerfully as they walked past Adrian. “I lent Nydia a t-shirt when we were out, and I keep forgetting to go get it back. Well, forgetting,” she blushed. “You know.”
“I’m not sure I do,” Jamian said slowly, still trying to wrap his brain around this new, sneaky incarnation of Kailani. “But let’s go to her suite.”
“Agatha,” she muttered softly and uncomfortably.
“I’m with you, it’ll be fine.” Because there was really anything he could do. The thought seemed to reassure her, at least.
“Thanks.” She leaned in closer to him and let him do the knocking.
It took a moment, but the door opened to Jamian’s knock, and he found himself eye-to-eye with… someone’s stomach. He craned his head back to see Anatoliy’s smiling face.
“Hello,” the big man boomed. “Come on in.”
Next to him, Kai shuddered, just a little, obviously trying to hide it. “We’re here to see Nydia?” she murmured.
“Oh,” Anatoliy said as he stepped back, clearly a bit surprised and, to Jamian’s senses, maybe crestfallen. “I think she’s in her room.”
To Jamian’s relief, no one else seemed to be in the common room; Agatha wasn’t in evidence.
Still, Kai hesitated, looking at Tolly. “Did anyone tell you?”
“Tell me what?” he asked, looking between her and the closed door to Dysmas and Nydia’s room.
“I…” carefully, she took his hand, curling her fingers around his thumb, and set it across her stomach. “Twins. One yours. One Conrad’s.” Jamian wondered if the big guy noticed how much Kai’s hands were shaking.
He nodded slowly, barely moving as his hand touched her. “I’ll do whatever I can for you.”
“I…” that answer clearly took her aback. “We should talk to Nydia.”
“Okay,” the giant said, nodding again as he stepped back.