Chapter 1: Slow

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        Fiona ducked and rolled, narrowly missing getting hit by the white projectile. It splattered harmlessly against the pale stone of Spirit dorm. Laughing, she hurled a snowball of her own. Perry jumped out of the way, leaving Chay open so that it burst against his chest.

            He turned towards her, glittering spheres already in each hand. They flew towards Fiona and she leapt away. She was just able to dodge one, but the second one got her square in the back. “That’s ten,” Perry called, grinning. “We win.”

            “Damn,” she said, smiling, before she began brushing the snow off herself.

            Chay grinned. “You put up a good fight.”

            “Better than last time,” Meredith replied, her brown braid liberally flecked with white flakes.

            “Next time Gadget,” Fiona said. “Next time.”

            The other three stared at her which only made her chuckle and shrug. Perry and Meredith stared for only a moment before they both nodded. Chay continued to stare and frown until the satyr, eyes dancing, whispered in his ear. Chay made a face, Fiona assumed Perry had taken the opportunity to insult him, but relaxed.

            It was odd how often he, of all people, forgot that she was human. Fiona often wondered if he was doing it on purpose or if it was leftover prejudice, that he couldn’t really believe she was human because she wasn’t a horrible person. She supposed it didn’t really matter. Though if she was going to have to keep reminding him, she thought she ought to tattoo human or something across her forehead.

            “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m sweaty after that,” Fiona said, her cheeks pink with a combination of the chill and exertion. While the weather was hovering around freezing, it was still cold enough that she was glad for her coat. “I think I’m going to hit the showers before lunch.”

            Chay nodded. “I’ll walk you back.”

            Perry grinned. “I won’t. But I will see you in the cafeteria in say, an hour?”

            “Sounds good,” Fiona replied, before turning to look at Meredith. “Is that okay with you?”

            The selkie nodded, smiling. “I wouldn’t mind a shower as well.”

            “See ya then,” Perry said, waving at them before bounding off across the white expanse that the courtyard had turned into.

            Meredith led the way towards the opening under Spirit dorm, walking just ahead of Fiona. Chay fell in step beside her, watching for several moments before he asked, “Has Mr. Bishara talked you about getting off the island over the break at all? I know last year he organized a trip for everyone staying so they could go shopping if they wanted.”

            Fiona blinked then shook her head. “I’m not staying,” she said, eyes flicking briefly to her roommate. “Mer invited me to come home with her.”

            The selkie turned to look at Chay briefly, a tiny smirk on her lips. “Slow,” was all she said.

            Chay flushed. “I-You didn’t mention that.”

           Fiona shrugged. “I thought everyone would be heading home, and I really didn’t want to stay here by myself. Even Asahi and the twins are heading home for Christmas. And…” she trailed off, not wanting to admit that if she spent Christmas by herself, she’d probably end up crying half the time. She’d finally gotten o being okay on the day to day, as long as she didn’t think too deeply about her mom being gone. But as soon as she thought about how she’d never see her again, how they’d never spend another holiday dinner cooking and eating together, the tears welled up.

             “That makes sense. I guess I’ll head back with Perry then. I know his mom wanted us both to come over for Christmas dinner.”

            She hid a frown, wondering why Chay, whose parents were both still presumably alive, would be spending the holidays with Perry. She’d gotten the impression that his family weren’t… close, and Perry had dropped a few tidbits that made it clear that Chay’s prejudices mostly came from them, so maybe it was better this way. She still hoped everything was okay.

            “We should have a little party for all of us before we head home,” Fiona said after a moment of quiet. “We can smuggle some food out of the caf and watch movies or something, Maybe do a Secret Santa among all of us.”

            “That sounds fun. We could have it at our dorm. I want to invite the twins. They might even volunteer to make food, I know they both miss cooking,” Meredith replied

            Chay winced. “I’d like to come, but if it’s at your dorm…”

            Fiona shrugged, slowing as they reached the end of the path to Flesh dorm. “I’ll talk to them. I’m sure I can convince them to let you in for just one night. If not, there’s the conference rooms in the library. There are always a bunch of empty ones so we could easily steal one. Depending on how many people we end up inviting. I want to see if Tyna, Jordana, Aura, Alex, and Duarte want to come.”

            “I have the feeling they’ll invite more people who’ll invite more people and this is going to turn into a giant party,” Meredith said, smiling as the three of them stopped in front of the building that was their home. “I’ll be the beach trip all over again.”

            “The more the merrier,” Fiona said with a laugh. “And it’s not like we can’t take over one of the other dorms if it gets huge.”

            Chay nodded. “We could probably have it at Air. I’d just have to talk to Howard before so he doesn’t freak out. He doesn’t like it when a bunch of people from other dorms show up and he doesn’t know about it. He gets kind of twitchy.”

            Fiona shrugged. “Well, we should know before, just by talking to people. We’ll figure it out as we go. I just want to get together before we all head off. Three weeks isn’t a super long time, but I’m still going to miss everyone.”

            “I’m going inside,” Meredith said, eyes on both of them for a moment before she hurried into the warmth of the building.

            They both barely heard her, Fiona offering a half wave, their eyes on each other. Chay smiled at her, running one finger down the side of her face. “I’m going to miss you too.”

            She blushed a little, but didn’t look away. Instead she smiled. “It could be worse. You could still be in a coma.”

            That made him laugh which in turn caused her to grin. Fiona felt like she really belonged at the academy, her humanity notwithstanding.

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