I woke up in the middle of the night completely unsure as to where I was. The darkness made everything seem even weirder until my eyes settled on Sam’s face watching me. School–the academy. I was at the academy. And just had a vision…
I reached up to partially shield my eyes. “Sorry for waking you,” I mumbled, sliding out of bed. The nightmare had been fairly bad… not the worst but definitely far from the best.
“You all right?” Sam turned on the light and I flinched. “Boy, you weren’t kidding when you said you shouted terrible things.”
“I’m sorry–I’m really sorry–“
“It’s all right. You warned me.” His hand pressed against my arm. “Is there anything I can do to help? Glass of water or a warm cloth or something?”
“I j-j-just want to g-get a shower,” I croaked, wanting to scrub away the horrible feeling.
Without warning his arms enveloped me in a hug that lasted maybe two seconds. “‘Kay, come on.” He guided me out of the room, plucking a towel from the wardrobe’s drawer as we went. Before I knew it I stood in a shower stall with him waiting out in the main part of the bathroom.
I scrubbed and scrubbed until I felt marginally better. I wanted to cry but didn’t dare with him out there. When I stepped out he handed me some clean clothes I didn’t realize he had brought with him. “Your eyes looked really different,” he said as I changed.
“They d-do that. Dunno why. Thanks for not screaming at the sight of them.” I tried to give a weak laugh. Sam smiled though it seemed fake. “Maybe you should wear earplugs or something at night, I know it’s not easy hearing tha–“
“Dude, it’s nothing compared to what you go through. I was already awake anyway. I told you, I barely sleep.” He guided me back to our dorm and pulled out a bottle of water and bar of chocolate from under his bed. “Is there any way of stopping these–these things? Not the, uh, visions. The uh… you know, from them actually happening? The events?”
“Not to my knowledge. I’ve tried writing down my dreams though sometimes I don’t. The visuals and clues and everything never really give me anything much to go on.” I took a swig of the water, my hand still shaking.
“Do you actually… see everything going on?” he asked in a slightly frightened tone.
I couldn’t stop the tears. I turned away so he wouldn’t see them. “I try not to look but it’s like I have to see. Either I turn to see the actual thing or I can’t look away… and it never really feels forced just like, I’m frozen and can’t move. I feel guilty. Like–oh jeez, I dunno even know to explain that part of it.”
“Like, it’s your own fault for staring,” Sam said and I nodded, reaching up to casually wipe away the tears. I felt pathetic and miserable knowing I couldn’t save that woman from the violence that would happen to her. No names, no places mentioned. I barely even saw what she looked like and I hadn’t seen his face.
I jerked as a tissue appeared in front of me. I hadn’t even heard Sam move. “Thanks.” I took it and blew my nose, feeling a bit less childish for crying. “If you want me to move out I’ll understand completely.”
Sam fell onto his bed. “You only leave if you want to leave. I don’t want you to go somewhere else. S’up to you. For now, just try to get back to sleep. Uhhh, can you? Or is it like, all used up now or…?”
Now I did laugh, an actual one. “I can try to. Sometimes I manage, sometimes I don’t. Hey, uh, thanks. For helping me…”
“Meh. I have nightmares a lot so I know someone being there helps a lot to adjust to being not in the horror.” He turned off the lights. “If you need anything, lemme know.”
I curled back up and eventually got back to sleep. In the morning when I awoke, he was already awake and dressed. I wondered a bit about why he didn’t sleep much and the nightmare thing he mentioned, but I didn’t say anything about it. I just got dressed and followed him into the kitchen to have some pop-tarts. While we ate he mentioned wanting to show me something important.
“I should have shown you yesterday but it’s not something to just gloss over on a tour,” he explained as we went into the common room. “It’s a pretty big de–oh, it’s occupied.”
We stopped short at a couch that looked icy and indeed a boy was stretched out, his eyes closed, glasses falling off his face. I figured he was asleep but when we stopped one eye opened. “Oh, hey Sam,” the boy said as he yawned, sitting up.
“Hey Booker. How was your summer?”
The boy pulled a face as he adjusted his glasses. “Lectures, lectures, and more lectures. And I got grounded for staying in the chimney for two days.”
I stared in disbelief at that statement then simultaneously remembered Sam mentioning the name before and realizing what the boy’s skin and eyes indicated: a vampire. “You sat in the chimney?!” Sam laughed.
“What? Father wanted me to accompany him on some business trip so I disappeared till he left. Mother was furious. Who’s this?”
I introduced myself as Apollo and he introduced himself as Booker Kinsgley. Ahhhh. Yes, Mr. Hunter had mentioned the Kingsley family and Sam had said Booker did what he wanted because of his family.
“I was gonna show him the ice couch,” Sam said.
Booker hopped up and flourished an arm. “Have at it. It’s just already such a hot day…”
“Booker, you don’t even feel the freaking heat,” Sam snorted. Booker just smiled and shrugged. “Okay, okay. Apollo this is the ice couch. Yes, it’s made of ice. Have a seat!” Suddenly he and Booker were watching me with great interest.
“Er, any particular reason?” I asked, sensing some sort of practical joke on the horizon.
“You’re not really a student at Hunter until you’ve sat on the ice couch!” Sam protested. “And the longer you stay on there the cooler you’ll be. Literally and figuratively. Come onnnn!” he begged. “You have to.”
Reluctantly I sat down, finding it very shocking that the couch was, indeed, made of ice. “How in the world…?!”
“Dude, magic,” Booker yawned.
Soon my butt grew cold but remembering what Sam said (if he told the truth) I needed to stay as long as possible. Colder and colder until it got to be too much. “Okay my butt is frozen!” I got up, rubbing the seat of my pants while Sam laughed and Booker flopped (yes, flopped) back down onto the ice block.
Before I could ask what any of that was really about, there came a very loud squeal. “OmigoshomigoshomigshSaaaaaammmmm!” and then Sam was lifted off the ground as a faerie flew in and hugged him, spinning him in a circle. “Sammm!” she squealed again. “It’s so good to see you! I missed you, like, so much! I’m so glad I got to come this morning and not, like, in the afternoon! Hi Booker! Hi new kid!”
Sam–safely on the ground–waved his hand at me. “This is Apollo, he’s our age and my new roomie.”
“Oh wow!” Now I was being hugged and lifted off the ground in a dizzying and slightly frightening manner. After my feet touched the floor she continued hugging me. “It’s so good to MEET you! My name is Lilah Nazah! I’m so happy Sam has a roommate, it must have been so lonely for him last year.”
“He’s not immortal so he does need to breathe, Liles,” Sam said.
Lilah released me though kept her hands on my arms. “Sorry about that!” she giggled. “And I am so sorry if you’re not a huggy person! I always forget to ask!” She stepped back, looking rather horrified. “I’m so sorry!”
“It’s all right, I uh–don’t mind hugs too much,” I mumbled.
“That’s good, cause I know some people, like, don’t like being touched and I am always forgetting to ask and then I freak out and worry that, like, I’ve upset them or emotionally harmed them in some way and I get really upset and I hate upsetting people I just like people being happy and so I hate forgetting but it happens.” She finally took in a breath. “Welcome to Hunter’s!”
I glanced at Sam. He threw an arm over Lilah’s shoulders. “Yes, she’s for real.” Lilah stuck her tongue out at that. “Heyy, it’s good to see you again,” he added as he hugged her.
I looked around, seeing more students coming in. More reunions. Kids greeting other kids. I marveled at all the supernatural-ness. Wings, pointed ears, glowing eyes–all sorts of things. There were two blue girls, a green girl, and a white guy. “I haven’t met many rainbows before,” I said while glancing around. “It’s cool there are–“
Sam’s hand went over my mouth. “Dontsaythatwordifyourelookingathim!” he hissed.
Too late apparently. The white guy had snapped his head up and I had been looking at him when I said it so our eyes met. I knew even before Sam finished his sentence that I had made some sort of mistake. The guy walked over getting bigger and bigger as he drew closer. I swallowed and stepped back, Sam and Lilah stepping backwards with me.
“Hi Casimir!” Lilah said in a very nervous tone. “I hope you had a good–“
“Shut the fuck up Navi,” the guy snarled, not looking away from me. “What did you say?”
“I–w-was–talking–about–them,” I somehow got out, indicating the blue girls who were watching. In fact everyone in the room now stared. Silently. Oh crap.
The guy’s hand shot out and I was being lifted again though far from the dizzying manner that Lilah provided. Instead a painful one. A very painful one. He easily strode the couple of feet to the wall and slammed me back against it, holding me up by the throat. “I am not a rainbow, kid,” he growled, squeezing a bit.
“Come on, dude, he didn’t mean it!” Sam said, tugging pitifully and pointlessly a the guy’s arm. “He wasn’t even meaning you–“
Wham! Sam stumbled back from a painful sounding slam from the guy’s free arm before the guy faced me again. “I think you need a lesson in manners, kid.”
“I’m sorry–I really didn’t mean–I’m so sorry–” I gasped out, legs kicking a bit, wondering if I would be murdered.
“Damn right you’re sorry.” He let go and I hit the ground hard. Sam and Lilah were at my side in an instant, helping me up. “If I ever hear you calling me that again you will regret it.” His eyes narrowed then he punched me. Hard. Right in the jaw. “And you can be damn sure I have good hearing.” He spit on my shoes and then stormed off. Everyone backed out of his way as he went and a ripple of fear spread through the room when he stopped and turned back to face us. “And by the way. If you ever touch me again, Miser, I’m gonna rip those stupid ears off your head and wear’em as a necklace.” Then he left the room, off to the boys’ side of the floor.
Sam and Lilah began fussing over me. “I should have warned you before but I didn’t think to–you okay, man? Is it broken?” Sam asked.
“Ih hurfs,” I moaned, cradling my jaw. “Oh Wah’her.”
Lilah leaned in and kissed my lower cheek. I stiffened in both surprise and… well, the fact this was the first time a girl’s lips had touched me that didn’t belong to someone of relation. “There, that should help it,” she cooed.
“Could you get my arm?” Sam asked, rubbing his shoulder. Lilah shrugged then kissed Sam’s neck.
“That should get it, if it’s too far up, like, let me know all right?”
“You a’right?” Sam focused on me once more. “Ohhhh! Oh that. Hey, don’t get too worked up. Lilah’s lips here are magic. And I don’t mean in the makeout way.”
Lilah put her hands on her hips, pouting. “Well you’ll never know about that! But I’ll have you know that Marlon said my kisses were, like, sweeter than chocolate!”
“Of course he did, he’s freaking lactose intolerant!”
“I’m never gonna kiss you again if you keep that up, Samuel Sparks!” She stomped a foot then noticed I still had a bit of a glazed look. “I can heal,” she explained with a bit of a blush, “by kissing the area. Your jaw is, like, totally feeling better, yeah?”
I blinked and snapped my attention back to my face. “Oh hey yeah. It is. I didn’t even notice. You did that? With the kiss?”
Lilah beamed. “Yep! Omigosh you didn’t, like, think I was making a move on you? Ohhhh I’m sorry! I should have explained first!”
“It’s fine!” I promised, fascinated by the idea that someone could heal a (possibly) broken jaw just by kissing it. “Brings a whole new meaning to the kiss your booboo thing,” I said and they both laughed. “So who was that?”
“Casimir,” Sam explained as we found some seats. Well he and I did; Lilah just sat in the air. “He’s a werewolf if you didn’t guess, so his hearing is very sharp. He pretty much hates everyone. And takes extreme offense to most things involving him, especially his looks. He’s an albino, not a rainbow.”
“Actually a lot of people here might look like a rainbow person but aren’t,” Lilah added. “Like the twins over there? The blue ones? They’re water nymphs. But we do have some, like Professor Webb.”
I remembered the blue and red man from the day before and nodded. “Why did he call you guys Navi and Miser?”
Lilah glared while Sam answered, “To piss us off. He finds nicknames that get under your skin. Honestly Miser doesn’t bug me that much. He first tried calling me Legolas but I didn’t care so he changed it to the Miser cause he said I looked like a lovechild of the Heat and Snow Misers from that Christmas movie. It’s not the worst but I pretend to hate it so he doesn’t choose a new nickname that does make me mad. Now Liles here, she hates being called… uhh… you know. I’m hoping you know why…”
“Mmmmhm,” I said, having played ‘Ocarina of Time’ with Grandpa.
“Still better than what he calls me,” said Booker out of no where. He sat up on the ice couch and gave us a miserable look. “I swear next time he calls me Edward I’m gonna bite his head off!”
The next couple hours began to blur together as I met several older students before Sam and Lilah took me outside to bask in the gardens. When we came back inside I got to meet two more of my classmates. We were going up to the common room with the intention of stopping by the kitchen for some lunch when we heard an explosion in the hallways between the common room and the boys’ side.
“–NOT TO TOUCH THAT!”
“Keep screaming like that and you’ll pop a blood vessel. Mmm somewhere about… there.”
“AND DON’T TOUCH ME EITHER!”
The three of us looked down the hallway to see the smoldering remains of something metal, a very angry looking boy, and a very amused looking faerie. She hovered a foot off the ground, laughing heartily while the boy kept screaming at her.
“You ALWAYS mess up my EXPERIMENTS!” the boy shouted, waggling a finger at her. “You RUINED this one! It’s going to take me a week–a WEEK–to fix this!”
The faerie stuck her lower lip out. “Oh noes! A whole week? Poor baby!”
“You insufferable b–“
“Hey guys!” Sam interrupted and both of them looked down our way.
“Tell Varuna she needs to keep her filthy magicky hands to herself!” the boy snarled.
The faerie did her best to look innocent. “I did nothing! Just a little… spark. I can’t help it if Eli makes things that go kablooey if you so much as look at it the wrong way.” The boy’s face went bright red and he began shrieking out nonsense while the faerie began giggling. “So, this the new kid that Casimir broke in half?” she asked, studying me with interest.
“Only his jaw was broken,” Sam said. “This is Apollo. Apollo, this is Varuna and Eli.”
I greeted them both, a bit glad Varuna wasn’t the hug-me-while-flying-in-circles type like Lilah had been. Eli’s face had gone from bright red to merely blotchy and he stuck his hand out. “I suggest avoiding Varuna as much as you possibly can, especially if you value your electronics,” he said darkly as we shook hands.
She turned to me, eyes flashing. “And I highly suggest avoiding anything Eli makes if you value your limbs!”
“You’re the one who causes the most problems with things I build!” Eli snapped.
“Oh, that is such a lie. Besides, a little tiny spark of faerie magic shouldn’t make something MELT LIKE THAT!”
“It was a VERY DELICATE MACHINE!”
Varuna rolled her eyes. “It was a stupid machine. Anyway, it wouldn’t have done a damn thing and you know it.”
He folded his arms over his chest. “Well, we’ll never know now will we?”
“Apparently in a week we will!”
“Except you’ll probably just destroy it like you destroy everything!”
“Me?! You’re the one who builds faulty things when you’re not purposely blowing other things up!”
The two began screaming at one another again while Sam and Lilah pulled me to the boys’ kitchen. When I asked if they were always like that both my new friends nodded. “We’re just waiting for the inevitable day all that sexual tension takes over,” said Sam. “Speaking of which, feel free to join the pool.”
“The, uh, pool?”
“Everyone in our year has placed bets on, like, whether Varuna and Eli will kill or kiss each other,” Lilah said, inspecting her nails. “Personally I totally think it will be both.”
Dinner that night was held in the dining room and everyone glanced my way when the three of us entered, or it seemed that way. We found some empty seats at a table and waited for the meal to start. The two girls we sat with gave me curious looks.
“You’re Apollo, correct?” the blue girl asked, offering her hand for me to shake. “I am Ginny, it is a pleasure to meet you.” Her eyes glanced at my jaw so I figured it wasn’t the new kid thing so much as it was the idiot who set off Casimir. “I admit that I am rather surprised that you managed to get a spot in Hunter’s this year instead of last year.”
“Subtle, Gin,” Sam said.
“My cousins got letters not me,” I explained. “But because of my–er–abilities that cause problems in a non-magic-school setting, we thought maybe I’d be able to, uh, come here so we, um, wrote and… er, yeah.”
Ginny frowned just slightly. “How eloquent. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it here. Hunter’s Academy is a very prestigious school.” She flipped her hair back in a way that seemed smug somehow. “I would say it’s only for the best but sometimes it seems as if that is not the truth.” I followed her gaze and felt a bit embarrassed to see she had referred to Clifford who had a chew toy in his mouth. “And I previously believed Casimir to be the blot on the otherwise excellent school record.”
I couldn’t just sit back and have her insult my cousin, even if he was a total lunatic. “Cliff’s not that bad. He’s pretty smart with a lot of things.” She looked confused so I smiled and added, “He’s one of my cousins.”
Since the other girl hadn’t introduced herself I decided I might as well be nice. “And you are?” I asked.
She shrank back a bit and scooted closer to Ginny. “This is Mia,” Ginny said, putting a rather protective arm around the girl. Then the girl made a few shaky movements with her hands and I realized it was the one Sam said didn’t talk. “She says hello.”
“Oh, hi. I, um, don’t know any sign language right now but I’ll do my best to learn quickly,” I said. Mia–Miaka?–widened her eyes a bit then her lips twitched into a tiny smile. Ginny looked rather pleased.
Just then Mr. Hunter came into the dining room so everyone went quiet. He made a speech about welcoming back the older students, greeting the new students, telling everyone that hopefully the year will be a good one–the typical sort of thing, I’d imagine. Then the doors to the kitchen opened and platters of food started floating in. I noticed several adults with wands out guiding the platters. After all the food got set on tables Mr. Hunter sat down and we began eating.
Ginny crinkled her nose up when she put some stuff on her plate. “How ordinary.” She folded her arms and there was a bright poof of smoke; her chicken and potatoes turned into lobster. “Would you prefer something else, Mia?” Mia signed something and began eating. “Sam? Lilah?”
“Oooh could you turn mine into dessert?” Lilah asked happily.
“Really, now,” Ginny sighed but she folded her arms and poof Lilah’s food became cake which she began eating happily. “I am a genie,” Ginny added as an explanation. “The only genie to ever come to Hunters, if we must be honest.”
“Oh and we must be honest, mustn’t we?” Sam asked causing Ginny to scoff and make a disgusted face. “Aw, Gin, you know I’m only teasing you.”
“You are uncouth.” She turned to look straight into my eyes. “You mustn’t let his terrible manners rub off on you. So. Apollo. Tell me about yourself. Where did you grow up? What do your parents do? Any siblings?”
“Oh uhhh… Storybrook County,” I muttered as I hoped I could avoid mentioning my deceased father as long as possible. “My dad is an IT guy… my stepmom works in business… and I have three sisters; two older, one younger. And an older brother.”
“Very interesting. I am an only child, but it is very difficult for genies to have children, you know–of course my mother says that they got it right the first time!” Ginny laughed happily and I realized she had only asked me about my family in order to talk about hers. “I suppose technically I am only half-genie, as my mother is a mortal. She found my father and used her final wish to set him free. They have been devoted to one another since.” Ginny gave a romantic sort of sigh.
Sam changed the conversation pretty quickly to Ginny’s annoyance though she went with the flow. He had been right about–arrogant, but nice in her own way. She did monopolize the conversation, however. And translate for Mia while helping me learn a couple simple signs before we finished eating. Mr. Hunter gave another small speech and sent us off. Even though it wasn’t late everyone went to their dorms to finish getting ready for the next day. We had our class schedules so Sam and I got together the books we’d need for the first day and he told me about the teachers. Then we played some card games, took some showers, and headed to get ready for before
When we came back into the room he hesitated for a second while I took off the bathrobe I had worn. In nothing but my boxers, I opened the wardrobe to find something to wear to sleep. Sam, though, remained robed.
“Okay, okay,” he suddenly said. “That’s not very nice. And illegal. Peeping is illegal. I think. Get out right now before I find a teacher.” I turned to him wondering what the heck he meant. Before I could ask I heard giggling. Female giggling. I yanked my robe back on while the giggling got louder though I couldn’t see anyone. “Come on,” Sam said, pointing at the door.
More giggling and then a girl shimmered into view. She had been invisible. “But Sam, it was about to get fun!” Her eyes roved up and down my body. “And such a good view.”
I burned bright red. Sam groaned and stepped between us. “I told you last year if I find you spying on me again–“
“I wasn’t. I was spying on Apollo here.” She bit her bottom lip while her eyes settled on my midriff. “Nice muscles. The body of a Greek God to go with the name.”
“I’ll go if Apollo wants me to go.”
“Ahhh–y-yeah uh–that’s–illegal–and–uhh–uh–” I sputtered. The girl dissolved into another fit of giggles as she sashayed closer to me. “You shouldn’t b-be here.”
“Good thing I don’t do what I should do.” She gave me an extremely alluring gaze that sent wild shivers all over my body and blood rushing to places besides my face. “Mmm. It seems I’ve embarrassed you… how adorable. I’ll go, though. I don’t want you boys to lose any of your beauty sleep.” Her lidded eyes pierced mine. “I’ll see you in the morning, though–ah–less of you, unfortunately. Goodnight. Sweet dreams.” She wiggled her fingers and swept out of the dorm.
“Oh Watcher. I am so sorry!” Sam slammed the door shut.
“Kiley.” He threw his bathrobe off angrily. “I wish I could say it surprised me but no, no it doesn’t. That’s her.”
I recalled his vague warning. “So she… peeps… a lot?”
“Meh. She’s just really horny all the time, or at least acts like it. Who knows if she really is or just does it because she thinks its fun to flirt. I don’t think she’s ever spied on anyone when they were completely naked.” Sam paled just a bit. “I hope not, at least.”
I had planned on just wearing boxers to bed but after that I decided to yank a tank on too. “How’d you know she was here?”
“I kinda have a sort of sixth sense of knowing when someone’s around. Not, like, an ability or anything. Not like Liles heals people with kisses or you see the future. It’s just a talent that developed.” He frowned, looking out the open the window. “But never mind. We should get to bed. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow.”
I crawled into bed and sent some texts to various family members before pulling the blanket over my body. I got the sense that there was a lot more to Sam than meets the eye… I couldn’t really put my finger on it. Then again we had only known each other like, a day. But something seemed a bit off.