Maia When the bell rings, Maia gives Antares a knowing nod, and strolls out of class and over to the principal's office, while the other kids are taking off for the weekend (except those who have detention).
Furud slips into the boys' bathroom, just down the hall from the principal's office, and waits, fidgeting quietly.
Antares strolls into the girls' bathroom near the gym. A minute or so later, she walks out, a thread of smoke following her as the door closes.
Antares She pulls the fire alarm as she passes by.
Maia Meanwhile, Maia is twiddling her thumbs waiting to get past the secretary.
Principal Johnstone comes out of his office. "Was there anything else, Julia?"
Principal Johnstone His eyes fall on Maia. "Ah... Maia."
Maia shrugs towards the office.
Principal Johnstone "Cordial as ever, I see. Come in, then."
Principal Johnstone He shuts the door behind him. "You have new information for me, I take it?"
Maia "Something you did really upset Antares. The school thing, maybe. She didn't take it well."
Maia "She knows you won't kick her out, though, so she's more pissed than anything. She was talking to me about pulling the fire alarm during detention today."
Maia "I just thought you should know."
Maia As if on cue, the alarm starts going off.
Principal Johnstone removes his glasses and polishes them. As the alarm goes off, he sighs. "I would be disappointed if she hadn't been upset. Thank you, Maia. This will make the investigation into who pulled the alarm significantly less tedious than usual."
Maia "Well, you know me. Helpful."
Maia pushes open the office door and exits without looking back.
Principal Johnstone puts a few things into files and then puts them into a drawer, locks it, and then departs himself. "Julia, I'm going to accost our perpetrator. See to it that the evacuation goes as normal.
Furud listens at the door, grinning to himself as the alarm blares through the building. His eyes glitter, and he tenses, waiting for the principal and his secretary to both clear out.
Principal Johnstone whistles a cheerful tune as he leaves the offices and walks down the corridoor in an easy stroll. Moments afterward, his secretary leaves and ehads in the other direction, towards the quad.
Antares is headed for the door at a normal pace, saying into her phone, "No, don't worry, I'll take care of dinner. Sorry, can't hear you over the fire alarm."
Principal Johnstone walks past Antares and grabs her firmly by the phone arm. He smiles cheerfully.
Furud wipes his palms on his jeans and slips out the door, heading for Johnstone's office. He takes his time, making sure that nobody thinks he's up to anything - and that nobody else is around to report him.
Principal Johnstone "Where's the fire, Antartes?"
Antares looks down at Johnstone's hand with a clear 'move that' expression on her face, then up at him. "Don't we have fire departments to figure that shit out?"
Principal Johnstone does not let go.
Principal Johnstone "I'm sure. I prefer to take a more direct approach to the problem."
Furud Seeing no one, he slips into the office and stops at Johnstone's door. He crouches next to it, one palm flat against it, the other hovering over the lock. He closes his eyes and feels for the tumblers. The mechanisms are slightly familiar from the last time he'd done it, and he gets the first one to drop quickly.
Principal Johnstone twists the arm and slams it against the wall, pinning Antares there with suprising force. "So, is this just another case of petty high schooler anarchism? Or do you already know?"
Principal Johnstone His tone remains cheerful. "Is that it? Are you experimenting, testing the limits? Show me, Antares. Show me the fire."
Antares "Get your fuckin' hands off me," Antares says in a barely recognizable voice. "RIGHT NOW."
Principal Johnstone "Oooh, that's better, yes." There is a faint smell of smoke, and a sizzling noise, like frying bacon...
Furud cautiously sends a trickle of force around the second one, pushing it to the left and then down. He takes a long breath and holds it while he nudges the third. Halfway there.
Antares Antares' free hand beats against the wall in a fast tapping pattern for a second, like she's unconsciously picking up the beat to some faraway music. Then she lunges at Johnstone, punching for his throat.
Furud pauses suddenly just as he's about to touch the fourth... realizing that it's... well... trapped somehow. He spends several long minutes analyzing the positions and paths.
Principal Johnstone Johnstone lets go of the arm, his palm clearly glowing raw. He falls against the wall, flattens against it.
Antares follows, slamming her weight against the principal and bracing one forearm against his throat while her other fist hurtles toward his stomach.
Maia catches her fist from behind at the last moment, and grabs Antares around the chest with her other hand, pulling her back.
Furud He smiles to himself - this was where he'd gone wrong the last time. The sixth one clicks into place, then fifth, and he is only one tiny nudge away from getting in...
Maia "Antares! No!"
Principal Johnstone He still comes up smiling. "The fire.... yes? You've felt it your whole life... that's why they were interested in you... that's why you were sent there..." He chokes out the words.
Maia "It's not WORTH it."
Principal Johnstone "That's why you survived, Antares.... all those people..."
Antares wrenches her arm viciously, trying to pull it from Maia's grasp and bodily dragging her a half-step forward as she tries to lunge at Johnstone again.
Principal Johnstone "Something made you angry that day, didn't it? You've never told... I never did find out."
Furud slips through the door, hoping Antares and Maia are keeping up their part. He closes the door almost all of the way before moving rapidly to the file drawer Maia had told him about. He searches for a key in the desk drawer first.
Maia is hurled into the lockers as Antares jerks forward, and slumps, but keeps a hold on her arm.
Principal Johnstone is winded, leaning against the wall for support.
Antares snarls at the principal, harsh breathing the only answer coming out of her mouth. Maia still has her arm, but her legs are longer and she kicks hard at Johnstone's knee.
Furud swipes Johnstone's favorite pen in retaliation for him taking the keys with, and turns to the file drawer. He kneels again, and places his hand over the lock. Slowly, carefully...
Principal Johnstone The blow connects, and he crumples to the floor. His composure drops as he winces in pain.
Maia comes up again, wincing, and grabs Antares from the front this time, pushing her back, in a bear-hug more hug than bear.
Principal Johnstone "I wonder how much you knew, back then."
Maia "Shut the fuck UP, Johnstone, JESUS!"
Furud This lock is simpler, and he moves rapidly through the series. Until he gets to the last one, which resets the whole thing with an irritating *snikt*
Antares Maia's grab makes Antares' follow-up kick at the knee miss its target. As she struggles to get away from Maia, one of her hands beats against the lockers, leaving scorch marks on the paint.
Furud punches the file cabinet, biting back a tirade of swearing. He closes his eyes again, forcing himself to calm. Once he has it, he starts again. The last one clicks into place, and he smiles.
Maia "Antares, just stop. Stop. Please." She holds on for dear life, breathing heavily.
Principal Johnstone "Did you mean to do it? Kill all those people? As you felt the fire build, did you want it, Antares?"
Furud rifles quickly through the files, pulling out all the ones with star names, and tossing them on the copy machine. He casts worried glances over his shoulder at the bright green light that shines out from between the platens.
Principal Johnstone "Maybe that's why you've never told... you've tried to forget..."
Antares brings her arms up between herself and Maia and then lashes them outward, breaking Maia's hold temporarily and leaving blistering red marks on Maia's arms. She takes a long step and brings her knee into Johnstone's forehead where he slumps against the wall.
Maia "Oh Christ."
Maia throws herself back on top of Antares, sending them both sprawling to the ground, and grabs madly for her wrists, heedless of the burns.
Furud 's own file, Merope's and Antares' take an extra long time to run through the machine, and he starts pacing. He takes the opportunity to flip through Johnstone's mail. Most are addressed to Principal Johnstone, but one is to S. A. Johnstone. He pulls the letter out and tosses it in the copy stack, then carefully returns the rest of the files to their folders.
Maia Furud notes that Maia doesn't seem to have a file in the drawer.
Antares Antares struggles blindly until the smell of burning winds into her nostrils long enough to stick. For the first time since the whole thing started, she seems to recognize Maia, at least for a second.
Furud He re-stacks the mail how he found it, slides the file drawer closed, and crouches down to re-lock it. He keeps thinking about Maia... he's going to have to ask her what the hell is going on with her and the principal.
Furud tucks his stack of copies into his backpack and slips out the door, locking that behind him as well. He's careful to make it look like it was locked normally, instead of the trap being set off.
Maia "Superstar?" Maia pants, lying heavily on top of Antares, tears running down her face.
Furud shrugs his backpack onto his shoulder and saunters off down the hall.
Antares After a wild second of staring up at Maia, Antares nods wordlessly. She opens her mouth, but nothing comes out.
Maia "Are you okay?"
Antares Antares closes her eyes and laughs soundlessly, because she can't think of an answer to that question. She shakes with it, trying to roll onto her side and slide her arms out of Maia's grip.
Maia tries to hold on, but the burns on her hands make her lose her grip, and Antares gets away, Maia rolling onto her side, then sitting up next to her, then slumping back again.
Antares curls her knees up to her chest, hands clenching around each other as she shakes. "Say something," she whispers hoarsely. "All I can hear is the music."
Maia "I love you."
Furud hears the words as he's about to turn the corner and stops.
Antares Antares, facing away from Maia, hunches her shoulders as if the words had physically hit her.
Antares "I'm sorry," she whispers. "I'm sorry."
Maia looks at the back of Antares's head, searchingly, and opens her mouth to speak, then closes it, and stands up.
Maia "We'd better get out of here," she whispers.
Antares rolls to her feet with a fragile grace, looking over at the stunned Johnstone as if she was seeing him from miles away. "Yeah," she says softly. "We'd better."
Antares She takes a half-step toward Johnstone, then pulls herself away and rounds the corner, straight into Furud.
Maia follows her, sees Furud, and sighs in relief, falling into him for support.
Furud stumbles back a half step, catching Antares with one hand and then Maia with the other. "You guys okay?"
Maia Maia isn't really sure how to respond to this, since she's covered in burns.
Antares throws a look back at Maia, and her face goes white as she really takes in the burns for the first time. "Do you have it?" she asks Furud in an empty voice.
Furud smells the smoke, and scorched flesh before he sees the burns, and his eyes widen. "Yeah.. yeah I do. You set a real fire?"
Antares starts walking for the door without answering, dreading what Maia will say.
Furud looks down at Maia's arms and the hand-shaped burn-marks. Then he looks up at Antares as she walks away.
Furud "Antares, wait!"
Maia "Uh...we should...go."
Maia "Can you...help me?"
Furud "We need to call Heka... let's get out of here."
Maia "What? Heka? No, fuck that. We'll go to my place."
Furud "He can help you."
Maia "He'd probably have to touch me first."
Maia "Let's discuss this OUTSIDE of here, huh?"
Furud looks down the hall and sees Johnstone's unconscious body sprawled and somewhat scorched on the floor.
Furud "Uh... we... need to cover this up somehow."
Antares made it to the door but waits there, arms folded against the door, forehead resting on her arms.
Maia "Why? Smoke inhalation, heated metal."
Maia "Please, Furud. I need to...sit down."
Furud "Gimme a second."
Furud transfers Maia's support to the wall, walks over to Johnstone, lifts the unconscious man's arm around his neck, and hefts him up, dragging him into the girls' bathroom, where even now smoke is still leaking out. He dumps the man on the floor near the flaming wastebasket unceremoniously, and kicks him a few times for good measure.
Antares When Furud leaves, Antares pushes herself away from the door and walks hesitantly back to Maia, looking at her face searchingly.
Maia looks back at her, her face displaying nothing but fatigue.
Antares Antares looks like she wants to say something for a minute, then leans gingerly against the wall next to Maia, touching shoulder to shoulder.
Furud crouches down and whispers, "Don't threaten us." Then rises, and crouches below the smoke. The air is getting thick and hard to breathe, and he scowls down at Johnstone. "Fuck you." He mutters, then grabs several handfuls of paper towels from the dispenser across the room, drenches them in the sinks and starts chucking them into the fire.
Maia 's head droops onto Antares's shoulder, and she closes her eyes.
Furud When it's down to just glowing embers, he pushes the door of the bathroom open, coughing at the smoke, and stops across from the two girls. "We can go now."
Furud pauses. "Hmmm actually..."
Antares turns her eyes up to Furud, not moving her head from where it rests against Maia's.
Furud shrugs. "Eh, screw him. Let's go." He walks over to Maia and offers her his shoulder, looking at Antares to see if she wants his help as well.
Maia grabs Antares's arm before opening her eyes to see Furud. She hesitates, then takes Furud's arm with her other arm.
Antares stands carefully, easing Maia up between her and Furud.
Furud walks quietly out of the school, gently supporting Maia, towards his car.