In third period, Koltira dropped into his seat at the back of the room beside Grimory, who was chewing on a toothpick. It was a habit his ranch friend had, but usually with a piece of straw.
“Fucking chemistry, man,” Grimory said.
“Fucking chemistry,” Koltira echoed. He cocked an eyebrow as the strange girl from earlier walked into the room and handed the teacher a note.
Grimory sat up. “Yeah, Mr. Stormrage?”
“Move over there.” Mr. Stormrage, the brother of their coach, pointed on the other side of the room and two rows up, right under the windows.
Grimory scoffed and made noises of protest. “Why’s it gotta be me? I ain’t done nothin’. Kolt’n I been behaving.”
Koltira chuckled as his blond friend’s drawl grew stronger with his irritation. “Your hick is showing.”
Grimory shoved him. “Man, shut up.”
As Grimory slouched across the room, the new girl walked back, turning herself to walk in a strange way that put her back to the windows. Koltira eyed her in her crimson hoodie, black skinny jeans, and red tartan Chucks. She slid in beside him and he automatically straightened from his slouch as though he needed to look like a good student for her. He cleared his throat.
“I, uh, like your shoes.”
She paused in organizing her things and looked at him, one eye hidden behind her hood and the other half-covered by the thick frames of her glasses. “Um. Thanks? I mean, if you really do like them, I guess. Because you might be just saying that to get me to talk to you and oh, wow. It worked. I’m s-so s-sorr…y…” She went back to her things as Koltira stared at the side of her hood.
“So, you’re new?”
She tittered softly into a black glove covering her fingers. “I didn’t freak you out? I guess that’s a good sign.”
“I’ve seen some shit,” he said as though challenging her.
“Including a home-schooled-albino-freak going to a real school, knowing it could kill her?” She frowned in shock. “Wow. Okay. T-M-I. I have no idea why I just told you that.”
Koltira smirked and leaned a cheek on a fist. “I can most assuredly say I have never seen a home-schooled albino-freak. But apparently I have seen a home-schooled albino.”
The blush that flooded across her cheeks was a bright scarlet, emphasized by the paleness of her face. “O-oh. Heh. Y-you charmer, you. Heh.”
He grinned and held out a hand. “Koltira. Deathweaver.”
She gingerly took his hand and let him shake it. “Anarchaia. Starling.”
A blond boy spun around and flashed a charming smile at her. “And I’m Gildwynn Steamvolt. So nice to meet you. And may I say that you have the most beautiful skin I’ve ever seen?”
Koltira balled a fist as he stared pointedly at Gildwynn’s expensive haircut, manicured fingers, and designer clothes. The boy merely winked at the distraught Deathweaver.
“If you ever need a ride anywhere, and I mean anywhere, I’ve got you covered. If you have your own wheels, I can do any fixes you might need.”
The girl beside him spun to include herself in the conversation. “And if you got a hole, he can fill all your needs.” She flicked her crooked auburn pony tail over her shoulder and laughed.
Anarchaia eyed the girl, who’d done her makeup in bright red, her lips lined black and filled in red beneath a septum piercing, which a black half-hoop with spiked tips hug from. Her shorts were cut-offs that matched her black jean half-jacket over her red racerback, her belts a series of different sized chains hitting her torn fishnets. Under the desk were her knee-high boots with thick soles and spikes on the toes.
“Damn it, Aub!” Gildwynn shoved her hard enough to knock her seat over and dump her onto the floor. “Just butt outta my business.”
Aubyne laughed from the floor. “Virgin.”
Gildwynn spun around, ears a fiery red, and folded his arms. He glared up at the dry-erase board as Aubyne returned to her seat.
Anarchaia pursed her lips, feeling personally embarrassed for the boy. “Hi, Gildwynn. It’s really nice to meet you.”
He cocked an eyebrow over his shoulder at her. “Thanks.”
Mr. Stormrage stood, putting up his hands for quiet. “Look at the person beside you. This is your lab partner for this semester.”
Grimory raised his hand. “I don’t have a partner?”
The teacher checked his notes. “Ah, right. Your partner will be in this class tomorrow. I guess there was a schedule mixup that’s being resolved. Now! P.P.E. Who can tell me what it is?”
Anarchaia raised her hand. “Personal Protective Equipment. It’s for lab experiments and you wear it…to… Heh.” She cringed as everyone looked at her. “I-it’s pretty self-explanatory, I guess. Heh.”
“Very good, Anarchaia,” Mr. Stormrage said. “Class, please welcome Miss Anarchaia Starling to the school. I hope you’ll all help her out if she looks a little lost.”
The girl shrunk in her seat as all eyes turned on her again, sizing her up and judging just how helpful to be. When everyone’s attention was turned away, Koltira leaned closer to speak to her quietly as Mr. Stormrage continued to teach them lab safety and rules.
“So, is that, like, your deepest, darkest secret?”
“Being albino isn’t a secret. It’s kind of obvious,” she hissed on a laugh.
He chuckled. “No, I mean, it killing you.”
She turned to give him a small smile, half cut off from her hood. “I suppose it is. Facing my fear of dying to sunlight exposure, just so I can feel like a real kid like in the movies.” Her eyes widened. “Wow, okay. I guess you’re getting my whole life’s stories, here?”
Koltira smiled and leaned closer. “That’s okay. We all have secrets.”
“Even football players?” She motioned at his letterman’s jacket.
“Yeah. That. I, um, actually hate football. I joined to help keep my brother safe.” He blinked and stared ahead at where the teacher was writing a list on the board. “I’ve never told a living soul that. Sorry.”
She laughed into her glove as she copied the list into her notebook. “I guess the over-sharing is contagious.”
“Well, since I’m already infected, might as well just roll with it.”
“Sorry, Mr. Stormrage,” Koltira said, laughing.
Anarchaia bit her lower lip and shook with silent giggles.