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Within Lund House

"Sometimes, it's bad to be one floor above the boys!" Kara sighed the next morning, preparing for school. "Especially is Sa's room. Will those boys every stop playing those stupid games?"

"Probability equals 0," Audi said with a yawn, combing her short hair. "And I'm not saying this because I'm a math whiz, either."

"Of course not," Kara chuckled, "you live with the guy, too."

"Well, on the weekends anyway. Any other time, that idiot Crispien and you mother are on my back."

"Figures. After all, mom is overprotective." Kara sighed, adjusting (then again, more like fumbling) with her the black tie of her school uniform. She didn't get as much sleep as she wanted to, and since today's block started off with Pre-Calculus, she wasn't exactly thrilled. "I feel like a wreck. All night, I've been feeling weird vibes, and that doesn't exactly help me sleep."

"Weird vibes?" Audi stopped combing her hair, turning to the southern belle. "Okay, now whenever I hear that, the rest that follows is never anything good."

"Don't freak out on me, Audi. I'm not saying these vibes were bad. I just felt like some other force was around aura. Like the ones I feel whenever I approach the people who live here. Only the only person I've felt that much is Crispien..."

"And with his ego, that's pretty hard to feel." She continued to comb her hair, sighing. "I hope that fine-tuned sense is right, hon, because we need somebody to put him in his place. In fact, I think you should tell him...shake him up a little."

Kara chuckled. "Oh, joy. Talking to a brick wall about my fun, but unfortunately, it's necessary."

"Good morning, ladies." Audi and Kara turned to see Maria right by the door, smiling. "How are you today?"

"Well, if it isn't my fair lady!" Kara said, heavy on her southern accent. "My, my, this is a first. You're actually letting yourself be seen before classes."

Maria blushed, placing her hand on a dark caramel cheek. "I must think that this isn't like me, stopping my your room in all."

"Of course," Audi chuckled, placing her comb on her dresser, "you hardly look at anybody in Lund House unless you are in a meeting, or you're in class!"

"Well...I promised my mother and Ethan that I would make some friends this semester...and I must admit, it's hard for me. But...I was wondering...can I walk with you two to class-" her voice dropped, mirroring her uncertainty. -"that is...if you don't mind."

"Don't mind?!" Audi's squealed. "Of course you can come with us!"

"This is a miracle," Kara added. "You've actually decided to stay and let us see you leave, you're actually associating with people more, and before you got all quiet on us, I could actually -hear- you!"

Maria blushed even more. This certainly wasn't her style, but then again, nothing seemed to be constant anymore. She used to avoid the social scene, and she found it hard to walk up and make friends because she was so used to her lifestyle. Now, she was here at Madison, and things were changing. Granted, she was still a shy, docile woman, but she was a shy, dolice woman who was become more social and actually spent time in places other than her room and in school. "Well, it's better to hear me the first time than to strain, no?"

Okay, that was constant, too...

"Aww Kay, come on, eat with us."

Kay Kiliken laughed nervously, stepping away from her friends. "I'm sorry guys, but I gotta do something today...I"

"You, study?!" One girl asked. The other three girls stared at her, shocked. "Damn girl, what have you been drinking?"

"Nothing! It's just that pre-calc is bringing my grades down, and I really need to study, or else dad'll kill me. We can eat dinner, though." She frowned, her speech a torrid combination of nervousness and anxiety.

"Oh...all right then, we'll see you at dinner," said another girl. "However, don't bring any books because we won't be studying."

"Okay," Kay chuckled. "Bye!"

"Bye" Her friends chirped.

Kay watched as they ran to the dining hall. She could feel a little sweat on her brow as her heart pounded against her chest, trying to tear its way out. The coast had to be clear. She couldn't let anyone see her going to her "special place". She looked over at a dark corner that lied between the male and the female dormitory. Everything seem to be in order. But if it wasn't... That would do it. It would ruin everything. Her status her reputation, her life...

No...that wouldn't happen. She didn't have to worry, because it wasn't going to happen.

Everyone is no one will catch you. You needn't worry.

A warm smile spread across her face. He was here. Here in the forbidden garden, here to see her glowing face.

And nobody knew it but here. Nobody. Of course they wouldn't. It was her little secret, and no one elses.

Love... She giddily trotted over to the corner, two electric blue eyes greeting her arrival. "Umm, love..." she whispered, "I missed you so-

"Umm..." Kay didn't have a chance. The feeling of his lips passionately crushing against hers was too overwhelming, and there was no fighting it.

"Hush, baby, I'm here, just like I said I would." He smiled, flashing those all-to-beautiful pearly whites. "Now, have you been a bad girl, baby?"

"Very bad," Kay responded huskily. She gasped, startled by the feeling of his soft fingertips moving across her inner thigh. But excitement and enticement flooded the pangs of fear, her desire for this man far greater than any fear this world had to offer.

"Show me how bad," he whispered seductively against her neck. "Have you done what I asked?"

"Umm...I've heard stuff about the newbies...the Enchanters and the regular guys have been talking about them. Nobody told them why their here with everything paid for. They're clueless. They may have quirks, but they don't know how to use 'em properly.

"Ah..." He seemed to get a rush out of it, and she liked the sound of that. "Very good, my little girl. Now, I'll reward you like I promised you. Very well, even...well done..."

He lowered her onto the ground, his adept hands removing her school uniform, their intention very clear. She knew what the reward was...that's what made the job all the more attractive! And the she loved secrets.

"" She let him take her...after all, he was repaying her.

" little star..."

-Commerical Break-

"I've been feeling these bad vibes since last night," Kara said rather quietly. She would have liked to speak a bit louder, but her advisor's aura was just screaming out "ego trip". "I usually don't let auras get to me, but this was an exception." Even for you.

Crispien looked at the Southern Bell sternly. She would feel herself shying way. With those stern looks, not only could he kill, be he could instill a lot of incertainty in a girl before she died.

"I heard that." Kara silently cursed at herself, realizing how much a telepath the Dark Knight really was. "But no matter, it's good that you've brought it up, even though it could just be a hallucination."

"Hallucination? Since when have you know auraists to hallucinate? And don't say 'when they're high' either, because I am a lady, and a lady does not hurt her body."

Crispien chuckled dryly, leaning in his chair. "I wasn't going to say that...but because I like your spunk, I won't say a word. However, you shouldn't be so overexcited about these vibes you are feeling. It's probably nothing."

"No, Crispien, I know it's something. It has to be!"

"Don't raise you voice. I hear your perfectly. And I'm telling you, it's nothing. Other auraists would agree with me. After all, I haven't heard anything of them complaining, and they powers are fine tune."

"Oh...oh." Her voice went flat. The nerve of that bastard. Just because she was a new student didn't mean that her powers weren't in tune. "Now wait a min-"

"I hate to cut your rebuttal short, but I have 95 chapters of Great Expectations to attend to. I will see you later." And with that, we walked away.

Kara gritted her teeth, trying her best to contain her anger. Ladies didn't get angry. But then again, this was Crispien she was talking about. You had to be a dog to get through to him.

In that case, good manners don't matter. Growling, she hissed, "that son-of-a-bitch!"

"Whoa, whoa, woman, calm down, half some dip!" Kara turned to see Audi coming into the room, a look of shock on her face. "Whatever has got you acting out of character, we'll fix it, I promise you."

"I'd love for someone to fix that jerk, Crispien. He's such a...a...ignoramus." She knew that choice of words was a bit weird, but she wasn't about to curse again. "He didn't even take me seriously."

"So you told Crispien about the vibes?" Audi asked gently.

"Yes...and he didn't even take me serious. I knew it would be no use talking to him. He's impossible!

"Uh, oh. Me thinks I smell a bad talk here."

"Yes, it was a bad talk," Kara growled, frustrated. "He said I was hallucinated, implying that I wasn't a good auraist because my powers aren't - fine-tuned - like the other two girls."

"Say what?" Audi's face darkened, sharing the anger of her friend. "That was wrong."

"I know this...but does Crispien know? I don't think so." Kara sighed. "If I wasn't so nice, I'd beg mom to kick him out."

"She won't do that. She needs him here as much as all of us. Even if he is an asshole."

She nodded. Audi was right. The Children of Gaia where here for a reason. But even so, she didn't have to like him, or what he was doing. Crispien was the rotten apple that spoiled the bunch. He was one of the major spoil factors of her stay at Madison."

"I need to go and rest, I need to go to bed. I'm too worked up, I need to calm down."

"You do that," Audi replied, watching her roommate walk away to her room. "I'll be here later, hon, tonight, Sa and I are going to the arcade."

Kara simply nodded before walking into her room. Sometimes, I wonder what keeps me here at Madison...

Later that night...

"So, are you going to keep an eye out on things for me, darling?"

"Of course, love. I'd do anything for you...anything your little heart desires."

He chuckling, running his fingers through her hair. "Good. I'll be here tomorrow to see what else you've picked up. If you give me what I need, your reward shall be a lot more wealthy than this.

Kay squealed, grinning like an idiot. "Then I won't do you wrong."

"Good. Now, go back to the others and find what's going on."

"Aww..." She whined, disappointed, "do I have to? I want to be with a little while longer..."

"All in good time, love. But for now, you have work to do."

"Oh...all right." Silence. Her whisper was timid. "Can't you reward me one more time..."

He sighed, then chuckled. "Why deserve it. However, it'll be quick. I have work to do...I must put things in motion."

"All right." She didn't care...just as long as she got some more.

She just couldn't stay in there.

Strangely enough, Maria didn't feel like studying in her room that night. Her sanctuary, her place of comfort and privacy just didn't seem like the right place to study pre-calculus that night. Instead, she wished to study someplace else, and thought that baffled herself, which wasn't very easy to do.

Gathering the heavy book, her Five Star 3-subject notebook, and a small pencil, she headed out the study, the small library on the first floor she remembered Mrs. Meacham telling her about. Her footsteps were quiet, meek, in sync with her personality. She still wasn't sure. She wasn't sure if she should be doing this, going out to the study. Surely, her room was enough. All other times, it had been...and yet this time, it wasnt sufficient.

Gaia help her, this school changed her in ways she was quite afraid of.

Maria entered the study slowly, cautiously, the door softly creaking when opened, much to her dismay. She hoped no one was in here. It wasn't that she found it hard to be around people, but instead, she simply wanted to be alone. It was her nature anyway. It wasn't even three weeks, and already the whole school knew that. Baffled they may be, but they knew it.

She stood at the doorway for a moment, looking around the cozy, classic room. There were shelves and shelves of books, and a few oak-finished tables. But so far, no one. She looked back and forth, hoping that she was right...

In the mist of her search, however, she spotted him.

Oh Goddess, she thought to herself, sighing. Of all people here, it had to be Crispien, her advisor. The one person she made a point not to see. The one person that made solitude and even better lifestyle.

Of all the nights to come out from my cave, it had to be a night he would be here. Sighing, she looked down at her books, gently pushing aside some hair from her face. For one, she let it down, something she wasn't used to, but then again, this was a night of differences.

It's now or never...I just hope he doesn't want to talk to me or something. Fear knotted within her stomach, and her heartbeat quickened. Inhaling softly, she headed into the library.

And here he sat, immersed in a paperback..."Great Expectations", she read. It seemed as if he wasn't really paying attention to all that was around him. All the better for her to get away. Maybe even take a seat somewhere...a place where she wouldn't be seen...

This of course, would take place after she took a moment to look at him. She wanted to walk away with just a quick glance, but her eyes had already befallen upon him, and, despite her internal protests, she couldn't turn away. Goddess, he was still handsome. Not that she expected it to change, but she didn't expect to notice. Even though he sat comfortably in his chair, should couldn't avoid looking over his features again. The well-chiseled chest...a six-pack, to be brutally honest. The fair, golden skin that -looked- so incredible soft, the urge of touching it was so credible strong. And his eyes...the way the library lights shone upon them, they could have been stars...

"Maria." The voice shattered her stupor, sending her into shock. She feebly looked down to see him staring at him, sterness all over his face. Oh dear...he doesn't look very happy. "Miss Chase, might I ask what you were doing?"

Regaining her composure seemed like a hard task. "I...I'm here, Mr. Sill." At least her voice was still quiet.

"What? You've decided to come out of hiding?" Crispien sounded bemused. "That's a first." His voice became cold and calculating again. She winced. "However, I don't think one of your lessons requires you to study me."

Why did he have to be so cruel? "I'm aware of this. I'm sorry if I inconvenienced you."

"You didn't...but try to pay more attention next time. It's not good if a student is off in some other world."

Well, duh. "Yes, Mr. Sill. Now, I do believe I'll get to studying pre-calculus now, sir, if you do not mind."

"I don't," Crispien said, rising from his chair. "However, we have a meeting tomorrow, so I suggest you don't stay up too late. I wouldn't want you to go off into your little world again."

"I understand, sir. I shall keep that in mind." Maria gently walked past him, heading for a table at the far end of the room. It was a way of saying he wouldn't effect her on this night or any other night. After all, no one else in her life did. "Good night, Mr. Sill."

He hesitated before speaking. "Good night, Miss Chase."

Maria had already immersed herself into studying when she heard the door close. Strands of silky black hair caressed her face. "Why does he effect me so?"

Crispien stood by the door of the study for a moment. Damn it. She'd done it again. Despite the fact that he was a bastard and a warrior, the fact that he was one of the most respected and feared men on campus, she'd made him feel guilty about being so mean to her. He had a rep to keep, but he felt himself wavering, wondering why he'd done so much to sour a girl who followed him with trust and a thirst for knowledge.

She wasn't like any other student here, and he knew that. That's why he felt so guilty.

And she looked so different, so...beautiful. Her hair, for once, was down. He could see that silky black hair in all its glory. She wasn't wearing her glasses, and that was all the more better. She looked more alive...vibrant. Her brown eyes were more appealing, and she looked more feminine than ever.

And she admired him. He knew it. The way she looked at him...that was no look of genuine friendliness. She found him to be beautiful, he could feel it...just like her found her to be an ancient beauty.

Damn it! Maria, what are you doing to me?

Disliking his reactions, he stormed through the halls, making his way to the door. I gotta get some air. I've gotta vent. Get stuff off my chest. I gotta get out.

He didn't bother to get a jacket, but instead, he swiftly walked away from Lund House...away from her. She wasn't about to break his barriers...NO ONE could do that. What made her so different? Nothing at all.

She was just a new student...she was clueless, probably having no idea of how to use her powers. What made her so different? Absolutely nothing. And yet she effected him.

Since day one.

And he hated it. It infuriated him.

It violated him.

It scared him.

He stopped in his tracks. But now, he was off-campus and in Newberry Park. It scares me...that someone actually makes me feel guilty about being stern? That can't be right. He looked into the dark sky, shaking his head. This school year wasn't right ever since the last of Gaia's Children were brought in. Everything has been topsy-turvy, and I don't like it. It's not of my nature. And it never will be...

-Swoosh!- His thoughts were interrupted. His breath was violently cut short as a huge, muscly wrist wrapped around his neck, pressing against it tightly. His circulation snapped like a wishbone after supper, and his strength dropped like a thermometer during winter.

"Help!" The word came out in a hoarse, breathless whisper.

A soft chuckling grated within his ear. "Crispien, you old rogue. Remember how you never told me I'd never be able to drain life from you through strangulation?"

"" The sounded so familiar..."

"Well, that's no way to treat your old friend now, is it, Crispien...or should I call you "King"?"

Crispien's eyes narrowed as his gasped for air. "Page..."

Chapter 2