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For once when the other students were staring at Alice, it wasn't so they could whisper about her being a slut or a stripper. Instead they stared at her in open shock, seemingly astounded at the evidence of violence on her face. And they couldn't even see the worst of the bruises Stuart had left. What Ace found really interesting was the amount of people that patted her on the arm or shoulder when she passed them. Word had apparently already gotten around that bad things had gone down in her world, and the student body found itself drawing her into its circle of protection as opposed to kicking her when she was down.

Not that everything was perfect. No, there were still those people that wanted nothing more than to see her gone. Be it the one or two guys who found the concept of her being beaten as appealing as her old vocation as a stripper, they seemed to love getting too close to her, touch her in a way that was supposed to be comforting like everyone else, but made her feel creeped out and dirty. And then there was Lexi.

"I guess you learned not to talk back to your pimp huh?" Lexi asked snidely as she paused by Alice's locker. Alice had been about to close it and walk to class when Lexi had made her little remark. Alice turned and smiled a Lexi, knowing it looked a little horrorshow with the stiches in her lip.

"Whatever you have to tell yourself so you can sleep at night." She remarked to Lexi. It was a little random, but the prima ballerina seemed to understand the implied insult. As much as Alice would love to consider Lexi a blow up doll with attitude problems, the diva was more intelligent than she really understood. "Have a good day." Alice brushed passed Lexi and walked towards class. She wondered a little what her friends would think of the bruises, and a little part of her was hurt that they hadn't looked for her at her locker before class.

She strode into Mr. Vega's class after reminding herself that in school, he had to be Mr. Vega. He could be Mal or Malcolm outside, but here and now she had to remember that he was her teacher. Even if her mind kept replaying that brief kiss yesterday.

The other students were whispering to each other and looking at Ace like always, but the notes dropped on her desk today weren't the crude invitations to sex like they had been. The student who's nose she'd bloodied friday slipped on over her shoulder that simply read: I'm sorry.

Most were people trying to find out what had really happened. Lexi had already started an anti-sympathy rumour telling everyone that Alice's pimp had beaten her and she'd deserved it, but a lot of students were asking her for themselves if she was alright and willing to say what happened. Mr. Vega was watching this out of hte corner of his eye as he went around dropping off the quizzes from friday. Alice glanced down at hers and saw that it wasn't the 100% she'd been expecting. There was a red pen message scrawled on the bottom near her 90% grading. Good arguements, but you could have taken risks. Don't hold back next time.

Alice smiled down at the message, annoyed that if another student had given in that exam it'd have been 100% but for her it wasn't good enough. Though it was a compliment, he expected her to be that good and wanted to push her. Maybe telling him she was an autodidact had been a mistake, she mused ruefully.

A knock at the classroom door drew everyone's attention up. Mr. Vega had been gonig over the answers so the class could figure out how their answers had gone right or wrong and he paused, surprised to see Mr. Bottomswell standing in the doorway. There was a police officer standing behind him, looking stern with her hair pulled back in a severe bun, heavily laced with gray hairs.

"Mr. Vega, Ms. Spade, Officer Bradley wishes to speak with you. I'll supervise your class and you may use the quiet room." the principal offered. He was trying not to stare at Alice's battered face and failing, but she didn't resent him for it. She did looke a little like raw hamburger. The presense of the officer just sent the rest of the class into a flurry of whispers and Alice ignored it and grabbed her bag, heading to the door where Mr. Vega and Officer Bradley were waiting. Mr. Vega took them over to the quiet room and Alice felt a knot of tension rise in her gut, making her wish she hadn't eaten breakfast today.

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