Everett found it difficult to swallow his food. His throat had gone dry the second he saw Rae go pale. He reached for his glass of water and took a big sip.

“Are you worried?” He almost spit out his water when Austin slid in next to him.

“Because I’m worried.”

Everett swallowed. “A little,” he told Austin, who didn’t really register the fact that Everett had answered.

“I’m guessing you haven’t really heard the story of their dad?” Austin asked as he turned to face Everett. Everett felt bad that the answer was no. He didn’t really know anything about Rae’s background, but he couldn’t help it he had only been there for a few weeks.

“No,” he answered.

Austin sighed. “Well, I think Rae should be the one to tell you. She knows the story better than I do. She did live it, after all.”

→ ←

Rae opened the door to see Avery sitting in a chair, her hands clasped in her lap as she stared at the patterned rug under her feet.

The headmaster stood from behind his desk. “Ah, Rae. There you are. Please, have a seat.”

She took two steps forward, but instead of sitting down, she braced her hands on the back of Avery’s chair. It had always just been the two of them it felt like.

The headmaster gave her a look that said he didn’t appreciate Rae’s need to be difficult, but for now he would tolerate it. “Well, girls, I wanted to be the one to tell you this and I see no point in delaying the matter any longer. Your father has called to disenroll you both from Imitheos Institute.”

Avery gasped and Rae swayed. “What?”

“He didn’t give any details. In fact, he seemed quite rushed, but he’s coming in two days to collect you. I will try to talk him out of it again in person, but I can’t make any promises. I am truly sorry.”

“He can’t do that!” Avery exclaimed. Rae placed a hand on her sister’s shoulder to settle her.

“I’m sure there was a reason at the time, but once he sees us again and we remind him why he sent us here in the first place, I’m sure he’ll reconsider,” Rae said gruffly for both her and Avery’s sakes.

The man nodded solemnly. “I’ll do all that I can. In the meantime, I suggest you at least prepare yourselves over the next two days.”

Avery opened her mouth to argue again, but at the squeeze of Rae’s hand on her shoulder, she fell silent.

The two girls shuffled outside after muttering their goodbyes to the headmaster and convened outside the registrar building on the stone steps.

“Do you think something happened with him and Amy?” Avery asked, referring to their father’s human wife.

Rae shrugged. “Who knows. Maybe she left him and took the kids too. It would make sense if he’s feeling sentimental now. I can’t think of any other reason for him to want us back in his life.”

Rae lost herself in her thoughts, remembering a time when she and her sister lived with her father, his wife, and their normal kids. Rae and Avery had been the freaks of the house, scorned and neglected, made to feel like they were always in the wrong just be being alive. Their father had let Amy bully them and eventually he gave up on them altogether, sending them away at his first hearing of this school. Left hurt and wounded by their mother, Khione, he had never been able to get over her while Rae and Avery still lived with him.

Rae put an arm around Avery, rubbing her arm to console her. “I guess we'll just have to wait and see. If he really wants to make it up to us, then he will see how much happier we are here and let us stay.”

“I hope you’re right,” Avery said.

→ ←

Everett ran a hand through his hair, as he took deep breaths. After dinner in the little cabin in the woods, Rae explained the situation to Everett. He opened his mouth and closed it a few times. He swallowed.

“So you’re telling me,” he swallowed again as he paced back and forth. “Your father, mortal father, is pulling you out of school?”
Rae nodded dejectedly. “But we can probably talk him out of it,” she said trying to cheer him up. “Headmaster just told me I need to pack to keep up appearances.”

“I’ve always hated that phrase,” Everett grumbled.

Rae put a comforting hand on his shoulder. “It’s gonna be alright,” she said through her mind.

Everett looked at her, with tears in his eyes. “How?” he asked as he slumped down on the couch, and took his glasses off so he could rub his eyes. He jumped a little when Rae sat on his lap straddling his legs and grabbed his hands, pulling them away from his face.

“It’s going to be alright, because it’s going to be alright,” she said, wiping his tears with her thumbs. Everett looked up at her, his vision blurred by both the tears in his eyes and his near sightedness. Rae gave him a quick kiss to cement her statement and Everett couldn’t help but feel a little better. But the uneasiness from the prospect of Rae leaving brought other thoughts to his mind.

“Are you my girlfriend?”

→ ←

Rae stared at him at a loss for words, which was something she didn’t do normally. Her thoughts fired in multiple different directions, all of which Everett probably heard.

She thought about how concerned she had been just that morning, wondering if he wanted to define their relationship. Was this just a courtesy ask? Was he only asking now because he thought she was leaving and wanted things to be clear between them? Would he have asked her anyways?

And what exactly was he asking? Was he asking because he wanted the answer to be yes or because he wanted it to be something else? What else could it be?

And if he was asking because he wanted to define their relationship as a couple, then what would that mean for them if she really did leave in two days?

Rae shook her head to look at Everett clearly. He was transitioning between a confused white and a fearful grey.

She needed to keep her head straight and ask the first and most important question before bombarding him with all the others, not that he hadn’t already faced the onslaught of them in their minds.

She bit her lip and dipped her head, her eyes tilted up to ask, “Are you asking me to be?”

→ ←

He was, but he didn’t know how to tell her that. Why does everything have to be so complicated in my mind, he thought. Rae was also going to leave in two days, and he wanted her to remember him as something other than her old boyfriend who could glow. But I guess the correct terminology is ex, he thought rather dejectedly. He thought about different items he could give her to be sentimental. He could give her the painting of the cabin, but that didn’t really pertain to her so much as it was just a representation of his powers. He could give her his hat, but his mom gave him that hat, and it would be very hard to live without it.

Then he thought of it. Probably the best thing he could do right now. He took off the mood ring she had given him. He looked up at her, saw fear on her face, and he knew what she was thinking. She thought that he was breaking up with her.

“Rae,” he started a smile blooming on his features, “will you make me the happiest Mood Ring in the world by taking this mood ring and being my Mood Ring? If that makes sense.”

→ ←

Her nervous look shifted to a smile before she let out an unattractive snort. “Neither of us make sense, Theo. But yes, I will be your Mood Ring.” She relished saying the word your. Something about being his made her tingle with delight and excitement.

“So you’re okay if I start officially calling you mine?” she asked, and he smiled at her, nodding his head as he did. Rae let out a sigh. “Thank goodness. I would have gone crazy if I couldn’t have you.”

Everett opened his mouth, probably about to say that she already was crazy.

“I would have gone crazier than I already am,” she clarified. “Past the point of no return.”

“I’m not sure I can even fathom that,” he said with playful smirk on his lips as he wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her just a bit closer to him.

Rae leaned in, her lips inching towards his slowly. Every time he moved forward, she would stop, forcing him to wait on her. She played with him, seeing how close she could get to his lips to drive him crazy.

His yellow glow became a deep purple, his wings expanding behind him. Rae ran a hand along the edges of his right wing, sending shivers through Everett’s body.

“You have an impressive wingspan,” she said casually, although her thoughts were whispering other things to him.

She laughed when he started to blush at her thoughts. “You’re crazy,” he blustered.

“You like me,” she reminded him, finally bringing her lips all the way in to meet his.

“Yes, I do,” he said, his words muffled by her lips.

Rae knew she could have kissed him for hours before falling asleep in that little cabin with him, but just as he was starting to lean to the left, about to lay them both down sideways on the couch, Rae had a sobering thought.

Everett became aware of her mood shift instantly. “What’s wrong, Rae?”

When he spoke her name, she felt no small amount of pleasure and satisfaction, but the depressing thought was persistent. “I’m just worried. I don’t want to go away.”

She could tell Everett was worried too, but he tried to console her nonetheless. “Don’t worry about it. You said yourself that you would convince your dad to let you stay. And if I know anything about you, it’s that you are definitely convincing.”

His words made Rae smile. But still the doubt remained. “If he does… you know, make us leave… It’s only a three hour drive. I’ll steal his car on the weekend and come see you every chance I get.”

Everett raised his eyebrows. “You’re telling the truth, which scares me.”

“It’s endearing,” she said.

“But also truth.”

“Yes. That too. I would really do it.”

He shook his head at her, a light chuckle sounding. “I would like that. Just don’t get yourself into too much trouble.”

“I think we have different definitions of too much trouble,” she pointed out teasingly, poking him in the stomach. It pleased her to see him flinch at her tickling. The smile grew quickly and she saw his anxiety when she went in to tickle him more.

“No, stop!” he wheezed.

“Never!”

He lunged, hefting her over his shoulder. “I’m taking you back to your dorm, missy.”

Rae laughed, tears of glee slipping down her face. “I’ll behave,” she lied.

“You’re lying,” he astutely deduced. “But I’ll give you a second chance.” He set her down on her feet outside the cabin so they could walk back together.

She put her hands on her hips to glare at him. “I didn’t say you could put me down.”

He raised his eyebrows at her. “My apologies,” he said, then gently gathered up, her legs and arms wrapping around his middle.

Rae leaned into him, breathing in his scent on his collar. “You make me very happy,” she whispered before dozing off in his arms.