Dinner was fairly uneventful. Rae wasn’t talking all that much because of exhaustion, Aria went to sit and theorize with her siblings, and Everett was content just sitting and eating quietly. When he was just about finished eating, Rae turned to him and yawned.

“Well, I am tired, so I am going back to my room,” she stated as she yawned once more.

Everett nodded. “I think I’m gonna go back to the cabin.” When Rae slowly stood up and hobbled a few steps, he revised his statement. “I think I’m going back to the cabin… after I carry you back.” Rae nodded at him tiredly, her eyes half closed. He sighed, picking her up bridal style and, ignoring the strange looks other students were giving him, he walked out.

By the time he had gotten to door ninety eight, Rae was already passed out in his arms. He sighed deeply when he realized how difficult it was going to be to open the door. Just as he was shifting Rae’s weight so he could reach for the doorknob, the door opened for him seemingly by itself. He was about to check if anyone was behind the door when someone spoke.

“Everett?” Avery said from her chair.

“Avery?” he quirked an eyebrow. “What are you doing here?”

“Uh, I live here,” she said somewhat confused. “Um, you’re kinda glowing white, with these little wispy spiral things… I don’t know what that means.”

“Wait,” he said, so stupidly confused. “But Rae lives here.” Avery nodded slowly, confused as Everett.

“They make siblings stay in the same room, you know.” Everett nodded, but it took a few moments for it to register in his mind.

“Oh,” he said, his eyes widening. “You and Rae are sisters. That makes so much sense,” he said, sighing as he moved forward.

“Which one is Rae’s?” He asked as he motioned to the two beds.

“The left one with a baby catapult on the bedside table.”

Everett nodded and moved to lay Rae down on the bed. He stood up and turned back to Avery. “Um, I think I might come here in the morning to help Rae, you know, get places,” he told Avery as he gestured to her ankle.

Avery smiled politely and nodded before turning back to whatever she was working on.

Everett sighed again before making his way to the cabin. He found the pine tree, located the knot on the side of it, and walked in that direction before walking up the few steps to the porch and then in the door. He sighed and looked around. He really liked what they did with this place. Might be nice to have a tv though, he thought, then I can watch movies in here too.

Everett made his way over to his art supplies, and grabbed the things he would need for a watercolor painting. I also need a speaker, he thought as he put in his earbuds. He began to paint, as a particular acoustic song started playing. He painted quick but soft strokes that flowed and matched each chord played on the piano and each small beat. Then he increased the pressure on the brush as the music slowly grew in intensity. When the song changed to something a little slower and quieter, his brush strokes became slower, more deliberate. As the songs changed, the way he painted changed as well, and, unbeknownst to him, so did the colors around him.

The last song that played was a particularly sad song. Everett felt tears start to slip out of his eyes and up his cheeks. As the song reached its emotional climax, he set down his brush and put his hands to his eyes. He didn’t know where all these tears were coming from. He didn’t know himself well enough to decide what he was upset about. So instead of thinking, he just let it out. Crying does relieve endorphins, he thought.

Once the song, and the playlist, ended, he calmed down. When he pulled his hands away from his eyes, the painting was something completely different than what he had started with. What originally was a painting of a seascape was now a small cabin in the middle of the woods, shrouded in a glow of blue.

Everett swallowed and took off his glasses to rub his eyes. Deciding that he was tired, he moved over to the large couch and fell asleep.

→ ←

Rae woke up in the early morning light. She squinted and threw an arm over her shoulder, but then the thought hit her: How did I get here?

She flew up in bed. “Avery!” she gasped.

Her sister didn’t respond, still fast asleep in her bed.

“Avery, wake up. It’s an emergency,” Rae said as she chucked a pillow at Avery’s curled up sleeping figure.

The girl groaned and rolled over to face Rae, still not opening her eyes. “Why do I have the feeling that this really isn’t an emergency.”

“I don’t remember anything,” Rae blurted out.

“What else is new,” she muttered.

“No, I mean I really don’t remember anything. I went to the Mess Hall and then… then it’s all fuzzy. How did I get here,” she said, motioning towards her bed, “last night?”

Avery paused, content to let Rae suffer for a few moments longer, before starting to laugh. “Your man carried you back.”

My man? Who on earth was that? Rae wondered. But then it dawned on her. “Wait, do you mean Theo?”

“Mhmm,” Avery said, nodding her head as she pulled the covers up to her chin and rolled back over.

Rae sat there for a minute, taking in the conversation they just had. This wouldn’t be the first time Everett had carried her, but this was the first time anyone associated him as her man. Rae actually started to color at the idea.

“Oh my gods. Are you actually blushing?” Avery sputtered.

“What? No I’m not!” Rae defended, pulling the covers up over her head.

“You actually like him!” she squealed.

“I haven’t admitted anything!” Rae’s voice was muffled under the covers.

Avery teased for only a few more minutes before her alarm went off, reminding her that she had been going to get up to go meet Austin for breakfast on this fine weekend morning.

Rae didn’t uncover herself until she was alone in the room. She started to get ready, but never had she been so precise in her morning routine.

Should I wear eye makeup today? Would I look good in capris or a skirt? Maybe I should brush my hair out… No. No. Bad idea. Don’t want frizz mess today, so I’ll just leave it go, she thought.

Rae shook her head then, unsure as to why she was so concerned about it. When did it start to matter?

Looking up slowly in the mirror at her reflection, she started to blush again. She knew exactly why it mattered. Rae had started to fall for a boy was only seventeen. She was only eighteen herself, and Rae didn’t usually go for the younger guys. But… There was something different about Everett, her Mood Ring.

Twisting her mouth to contain a smile, Rae dressed in her capris and put on just enough makeup that anyone really looking would notice. She put a lace headband on her head to keep back her long and unruly waves before heading out the door, then stopped when she remembered she didn’t have her crutches. Her palm still on the door handle, she made herself back up and actually contemplate what she was about to do.

I’m going to ask him out on a date, she told herself as boisterously as she could. But was she really going to hobble and hop to the Mess Hall like an idiot, her entrance anything but grand, to ask him out?

Fear settled in her stomach as she realized she was already losing her nerve. But just then, a knock sounded at the door.

She flung it wide to reveal Everett on the other side, slightly startled that she had opened up so quickly, his hand still in the air mid-knock, and his glow a bright burst of tie dye.

“What are you doing here?” she asked with no small amount of surprise. It might have come out a little accusingly.

“Oh. Um… I just remembered that you still don’t have your crutches, so I went to get them this morning. They were in the registrar lost and found. I was going to bring them to you, but then I thought that if I was coming all this way to your dorm I might as well carry you to breakfast, ‘cause I figured that’s exactly where you’d be going. That is where you’re going, isn’t it? Of course it is, of course,” he babbled as Rae’s jaw hung open slightly. “Anyways, I dropped them off at the Mess Hall, but I could go get them if you wanted. Or I could take you to them if you were planning on eating or going anywhere else for that matter.”

He finally took a breath. Rae started to smile with her lips closed.

→ ←

Everett was a little scared. He didn’t really know why, though that seemed to be the usual thing lately. But when Rae smiled like that he didn’t know whether to be happy or frightened. She held her arms towards him as if to choke him. Frightened it was. When she wrapped her arms around his neck and jumped, he flinched a bit but still caught her.

“What does gray mean?” she asked quietly as he walked down the hall, eyes wide.

He shrugged. “I dunno,” he mumbled. Everett felt strange, all the other times he carried her he hadn’t felt like this. He hadn’t felt nervous. He really wanted to get to the mess hall. Taking the shortcut through the woods, he paused when he heard a familiar sound.

“Not again,” he said when Sayer and his goons stepped out in front of them.

Sayer smiled maliciously. “What, glow worm? You scared?” he sneered.

“Does he look scared?” Rae quipped. “Look at his glow, idiot. It isn’t his scared color.”

“Oh, really?” he asked. “So red doesn’t mean you’re scared, glow worm?”

Everett set Rae down gently but quickly. “No.” He glared darkly at him. “I’m angry,” he stated simply before bursting into flames. The three boys’ eyes widened in fear as Everett approached them slowly, ready to fight, but then he heard Rae.

“They aren’t worth it,” he felt her say through her mind. He felt her nervousness bordering on fear, and he felt the rage melt away. But as he felt it go away, Sayer saw it too.

Quickly regaining his arrogant manner, Sayer took a step forward. “What does gray mean? I bet gray is your scared color,” Sayer said, motioning his goons forward.

Everett took a shaky breath. Gray was his scared color, and as they approached him he remembered the pain he felt the last time they beat him. Not exactly knowing what was happening, he ran and lifted Rae, running as fast as he could in the opposite direction.

Rae gasped then yelled in his ear and thoughts, “You should join track!”

“Huh?”

“You’re really fast! Like, godly powers fast.”

It was only when she said the word godly that Everett realized the world was speeding past. Almost like his time manipulation but he could tell that it wasn’t time speeding up, it was him. He planted his feet and skidded to a stop.

“Did I just…” he paused looking for a word, “superspeed?”

Rae nodded excitedly. Her excitement was contagious, and Everett began glowing a deep purple, and unknowingly, sprouted cloud like wings coming from his shoulder blades.

→ ←

Rae peeked over his shoulder from where he had picked her up in a front hug. “Um, Theo? Today might be a little overwhelming for you, but there’s one more thing you should know.”

“What?” he asked, almost scared of what the answer might be.

She looked him in the eyes to smile and say sweetly, “You also have wings.”

Rae continued to smile at him as he stared without a reaction. Then his brows started to furrow together and he said, “No I don’t.”

She leaned over his shoulder again. “Uh, yes you do. They ripped two holes in your shirt actually.”

Hesitantly, he glanced behind him to see the tips of his wings. They were a sort of opaque white that made them look almost cloudlike. As far as their texture, they looked like the fluffy angel wings you’d see in movies or television, just blurred so that you couldn’t see individual feathers.

Turning his face back to Rae, Everett looked like he was going to be ill.

“They’re amazing, Theo,” Rae encouraged. “Really, quite spectacular. I think I might be a little jealous.”

Everett grimaced, but he seemed to look a little better in how he was handling the information. “Eh, well, thanks.”

“Mhmm,” Rae said with a nod. “Now should we try those bad boys out and head to the Mess Hall? I’m not any less hungry.”

→ ←

Everett rolled his shoulders a couple of times to see if he could actually control his wings. After about the tenth shoulder roll he finally felt something new from his shoulder blades. But, try as he might, they didn’t flap when he tried to move his shoulder blades.

“Well, that didn’t work,” he said dejectedly but still mostly excited that he could at least feel them.

“Take a page out of my book and just tell yourself you can do it. Sometimes it’s all a mental thing,” she suggested.

Everett thought about it. It did make sense. So, rolling his shoulders one last time, he closed his eyes, strictly for dramatic flair, and he thought about his wings flapping. He heard Rae inhale sharply. When he opened his eyes, he saw that they were hovering a few feet above the ground.

“This… is… awesome,” he heard Rae whisper.

Everett nodded slowly, and looked over his shoulder. He saw his cloudlike wings flapping, but he could only feel them if he moved his shoulders.

“So shall we go to the Mess Hall now?” Rae asked again, obviously very hungry.

Everett nodded and he smiled ear to ear as his wings flapped and he flew to the mess hall.

→ ←

Rae clung tightly to him the whole way, both afraid and exhilarated. Everett didn’t take them too high, but still the sensation was paralyzing. She forced herself to keep her eyes open all the way until they landed on the top step of the Mess Hall entrance.

“You can let go now,” Everett mumbled after a few moments of just standing there. Rae had been wondering why he hesitated.

“Oh, right,” she said, reminding herself that she couldn’t expect him to carry her everywhere.

Everett handed her the crutches left leaning outside the building and his color turned a soft periwinkle. As his glow changed, his wings retracted. Rae grabbed him by the shoulder, whipping him around to see only the holes left in his shirt and two faint lines from where the wings had slid out of his back.

“Sorry if this is… weird,” he mumbled.

But Rae just laughed at him. “Weird is my specialty.”

They entered the Mess Hall a little close to the end of breakfast, so Rae scrambled to get as much on her plate as possible before the staff started to clean up.

The two ate amiably together as other students began to clear out.

“So did you do have any plans for today?” Rae asked hesitantly, knowing that this was her chance.

“Not really. You?” he answered.

Now, Rae. Do it now, she told herself, but instead blurted out, “Mind if I tag along with you today? I’ve got nothing planned either.”

“Oh, yeah sure. That’s fine. I was thinking about going to the art building to see what kind of supplies they had.”

It wasn’t exactly what she had in mind, but it was better than nothing. Rae kicked herself internally over and over for not swallowing her fear and just asking him if he wanted to go on a date with her. She kept her thoughts in check, though, avoiding the word date altogether, just in case he was listening. All he would hear was that she was frustrated with herself.

“Shall we then?” she asked, standing and positioning her crutches, forcing a smile on her face so that he knew she actually did want to spend time with him.