Chapter Ten: Insight

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Content Warning:  Mentions of physical child abuse

The walk back to the diner was silent, save for the crunches of leaves underfoot. Luke and I trailed reluctantly after North and Silas whose strides were quite large, which meant I was struggling to keep up. Luke noticed and grabbed my hand, tugging me along with him. It wasn't long before we fell behind the two powerhouses in front of us—though, I figured Luke could have kept up with them if he'd wanted to. But instead, he chose to slow down to be with me.

"You don't have to do that, you know." I stepped over an unearthed root in my path. "I'd be fine by myself."

Luke nudged me with his shoulder, a small smile blooming on his face. "Yeah, I know, but I'm curious about you." His hand tightened in mine.

My eyebrows must have risen to my hairline by the amused look Luke sent me. "What? Why are you curious about me?"

"Well," Luke started, bringing his hand up to hold his chin in mock-thought. "Firstly, you're probably the cutest girl I've ever seen in my life." I almost tripped over another root, looking up at him in shock. "Secondly, you probably don't hear it enough."

"I wouldn't say that," I mumbled, thinking back to the moments when some of them had called me cute.

He sent me a curious glance, his eyebrows pulling together and his smile never wavering. "And thirdly, you're one of us now."

"Silas said that, too..." I stared ahead at his back and the way the muscles must have been shifting underneath his shirt, barely noticeable from our distance, but the thought was enough to make me look away quickly. "What does that mean?"

"You're a Possessor." He pulled up our hands until they were at my eye level and shook them in the air. "Some of us are literally indestructible. We've been around for a long time. Everybody knows everybody in the Academy and you're new. A breath of fresh air. It's only natural that we'd take you under our wing, right?"

I pressed my finger to my lip. "Are you supposed to be talking about this with me?"

He stopped walking, staring down at me quizzically. Flecks of a lighter brown shade danced in his irises, reflecting the rising sun beautifully, and his golden locks shone in the light, falling to just above his shoulders. He looked kind of ethereal like that—all long hair and immaculate skin tone that was just a smidgen darker than my own, basked in the gentle hues of the early sunlight. Immortality suited him. "Huh?"

"The others seemed hesitant to tell me anything," I admitted, glancing down at my shoes. "After they found out I'd been in the Headmaster's office, they..." His eyes widened and I trailed off. My hands suddenly seemed soaked with sweat and I untangled them from Luke's without much difficulty.

"You just keep getting better," Luke said, almost reverently. His eyes looked me up and down. "A private meeting with the Headmaster?" He whistled, winking at me. "You're a high level, aren't you?"

"Um, actually, I don't—"

"Hey, what are you two doing back there?" North yelled. He was standing at the edge of the woods, a bare patch of grassland stretching out behind him that I immediately recognized as the diner's yard. "We've gotta get a move on!"

Luke scoffed once North turned back around, fixing me with an exaggerated glare. "Quit your dilly-dallying, kiddos," he said in a deep, throaty voice. I was confused until he raised his arms and flexed, pointing toward the diner, and I realized he was parodying North. "The way to the diner is that way. Don't get lost, you hear?"

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