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“If we don’t leave soon, we’ll miss our chance.” Marian stood by the window, pretending that she wasn’t looking into the street below and timing the guard’s circuit around the boys’ dorms. “And if I’ve wasted my time sneaking over here for-“

Owen shook his head ever so slight, just within her line of sight and not within that of his best friend, Rei. “Just keep timing him,” he said, quickly. “It’s not that late yet. Come on, Rei. It’ll be fun.”

“I don’t need fun. I was having a perfectly decent Friday afternoon right before-” Rei bit off the rest of his words when Owen elbowed him in the side with more force than neccessary.

“The rest of us would like to go out,” he said, meaningfully. “That means you’re going to help us.” He reached up to tuck his blond hair behind one ear, exposing the dull triple studs in one ear. His soulstone only functioned under sunlight and after an exhausting day in the practice fields, the last thing he wanted to do was pry the power out of them.

Marian fidgeted in her corner, her lips moving silently as she counted the paces that the guards took before the change over. “Feels like we’re prisoners instead of trainees,” she muttered. One hand was clasped around the ruby pendant that hung from her neck–the exact shade of the eyebrow ring over her right eye. It glimmered proudly in the single light of Rei’s bedroom.

Owen swallowed, well aware of the destructive power hidden behind the red gem. He’d had far too much experience with Ruby users and the last thing he wanted was an irate Marian on his case. As one of the few female cadets that consisently ranked in the top tier, she was powerful enough to throw her weight around–if she wanted to.


“Owen…” Rei sighed. “Not happening.”

“Now’s our chance,” Marian said, pushing away from the window. Her free hand was currently tapping through the air, counting the time, even though she couldn’t see the guards. “Now, Owen. You promised.”

Owen winced and turned back to Rei, who was studiously avoiding Marian’s dagger-eyed gaze.

“You couldn’t pay me to set foot out of this room,” Rei said, stubbornly. He turned away, his lean arms folded over his chest. A ray of light caught the blue crystal cross dangling from one ear–the exact shade of his cerulean eyes.

Owen and Marian exchanged a look. He’d done the best that he could, but Rei was one of the lucky few that could avoid his usual charm.

Marian stepped forward, linking her arm through Rei’s. “Sweetie, darling–cupcake,” she purred, barely stifling a shudder at the too-sweet endearments. “I’d never venture anywhere outside without you.” The ruby pendant fell from her hand, shining brightly where it nestled in the ruffles of her fancy blouse.

Rei snorted. His blue earring glowed faintly, a hint that he was caving in. It would always direct him towards the safest choice and from the looks of it, he was safer going along with Marian than not.

The look she gave him said that she knew fully well what was running through his head and that she wasn’t above using her stone’s abilities to manipulate him. She tapped her foot and her left hand continued to time the guard’s circuit.

“Fine. We’ll go, but I’m not participating in anything,” Rei said.

Owen smirked from behind as he pushed his glasses further up his nose. He knew just how to break that resolve. Rei’s synchronization with his soulstone meant that they would all get lucky tonight and that detail made the unplanned excursion worth it in every way.

(c) Sara Harricharan

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