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Pen Your Pride

Born Immortal Chapter 10

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The next week passed quickly for Astyr in the same routine she had established during her first week with Grima. Astyr would get up in the morning and take the bus to school, where she would attend her classes with the sophomore honor students, eat lunch with the rest of the cheerleading squad, finish her afternoon classes with the same kids as before, and then ride home with Hakon and Gunnar after practice.

She was getting to know them better and she was getting used to both Gunnar's playful flirtations and Hakon's smoldering intensity. Gunnar was her almost constant companion, shadowing her every step except for fourth period when she went to Chorus and he went to Agriculture, and at her afternoon cheer practice. He was very friendly and loved to joke around with her and was even friendly with the rest of the cheerleaders since he always sat with Astyr at lunch and she always sat with the cheer squad. Hakon, however, even though he sat with them at lunch, still only spoke with Astyr and Gunnar and would only spare words for anyone else if pressed.

It was getting close to Homecoming week and the girls were starting to spend more of their time talking about the dance and who would make likely dates. A couple of them were already sure of their dates since they had boyfriends who were locked in already, but everyone else spent all of their time speculating.

Astyr was eating lunch on Friday and just listening in to the conversation when she heard Jenny ask Gunnar if he had asked Astyr to the dance yet. Astyr was a little amused that everyone just assumed she would be going with Gunnar but could hardly blame them considering how much time he spent with her.

"Ah, no," Gunnar started, sounding a little depressed, "I'm not actually going to be here for Homecoming." This was news to Astyr and she was glad that Jenny asked him right away why he wouldn't make it. "I have some personal issues that are going to keep me away from school for the next couple of weeks." He explained.

"Are you going to be gone, too?" Gwen butted in rudely, addressing this to Hakon.

"No," he said to her in a voice that conveyed his reluctance to being dragged into this conversation, "I'll be here." He stood up and headed for the door as the bell started to ring and everyone else followed to get to class on time.

Astyr didn't have a chance to talk to Gunnar about his impending absence until late that night after the game was finished and they were driving with Hakon to Grima's house. "Why are you not going to come to school for the next couple of weeks, Gunnar."

"Well," he said, "you know my sixteenth birthday is coming up soon. I just have to stay home for a while to get ready for it."

"What does that mean?" She asked. "Are your parents letting you skip school to plan a party or something?" She was astounded that they might let him blow off school for something like that and she sensed there was more to the story than what Gunnar was telling her.

"No! It's nothing like that." He said with a laugh. "The closer I get to starting the regeneration process, the more unstable the energy levels in my body get. It's just easier to stay away from everyone until it all gets finished."

"Why?" She asked. "What happens?" This was getting more confusing with every answer she got out of him.

Hakon took over the explanation at this point. "We can absorb energy in many different ways, Astyr." He said. "We get energy from the sunlight, from plants, from animals and other living things, and also in small, steady quantities from the earth itself. The energy we get from the sun and the earth absorbs into our bodies through our skin, but to get energy from plants and animals, we need to take them into our bodies like humans do when they eat to get calories." He paused to make sure Astyr was keeping up and then continued. "Just like with getting calories from food, some things have more energy in them than others. Plants will only give you small doses of energy and only if you eat them freshly picked. Warm-blooded animals will give you larger amounts but it depends on the size of the animal and how long they've been cooked for, the heat breaks down the energy. The best way to get energy from a living creature is from their blood because that is where you find the highest concentrations of their life force, but the animal has to still be alive when you take the blood or it will be useless, and hominids have the highest concentration of life force of any animal."

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