Fangs

 

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Chapter One

Nicky Silver bade his friends’ goodbye and picked up his heavy holdall bag. He went inside the old school building to the front foyer, where the list of roommates for the year had been posted on the notice board outside the reception. His friends, Kieran and Oliver, Nicky saw, would be rooming together in the West Wing of the school. He was in the North Wing, rooming with someone called Daniel MacArthur. Nicky knew most of the people in the school, but that name was unfamiliar to him.

Nicky went to the reception to pick up his timetable for the year, his room key and several of the usual forms that needed signing, before shouldering his holdall, and going to find room DN57 in the North Wing.

Green Valley Boys’ Boarding School had opened a hundred years before, when the last owner of Brookshire Castle had died, and asked that the castle be turned into a school in his memory. Named for the lush valley at the top of which it was situated, the school had grown each year to the size it was today, with almost four hundred boys boarding and learning within the castle and the various extension buildings that had been added over the years.

One hundred boys boarded in the separate Wings, North, South, East and West, and had their lessons with other boys from their Wing. Meal and leisure times were shared between all the Wings, giving the boys’ the chance to mix with others from outside their Wing.

Nicky climbed up to the fifth floor of the castle, where the dormitories for the Year Twelve and Thirteen boys were located, and wandered down the corridor until he found his new room, DN57. He stood outside the heavy wooden door for a moment, wondering whether his new roommate had arrived, and who it could be. After a moment of indecision, he knocked on the door, and waited to see if he could hear a reply. After waiting a few moments, and hearing nothing but silence, Nicky unlocked and opened the door, and stepped inside.

He had always liked the dormitories at the school; they were decorated a pale blue colour, with deep navy curtains hanging from the tall windows, and a dark carpet. A plush, oriental-style rug was laid on the floor between two beds, one on one side of the room. Two large desks were situated at the foot of each bed, with desk chairs and lamps beside them. Each side of the room had three long shelves running above the beds, and another tall floor lamp stood beside each bed. There were two dressers and small wardrobes at the far end of the room, framing the window. A closed door beside one of the desks led to a small bathroom.

Nicky put his holdall down on one of the beds, seeing the other was already taken. A small suitcase was open on the bed, half-unpacked. Nicky unzipped his holdall and began quickly stacking his clothes in the dresser and hanging them neatly in the wardrobe, organized between school uniform and leisure clothes. Once boys at Green Valley reached years twelve and thirteen, the rules about school uniforms were relaxed slightly. Although they still had to wear black and white, they could choose their own shirt and trouser styles.

Nicky turned around as he heard the bathroom door open. His new roommate stepped out. Nicky immediately recognised the boy from one of his classes the previous year. He had a swimmer’s slim physique, dirty blond hair that fell almost to his shoulders, and sparkling blue eyes.

“Hi,” said Nicky, stepping out from behind his open wardrobe door and making the other boy jump.

“Hello.” The boy looked at him warily for a moment, before he smiled. “I’m Daniel MacArthur.”

“Nicky Silver. I’m your roommate for the year.”

“I figured... What with finding you unpacking in my room, and everything.” Nicky grinned, and resumed his unpacking.

“You were in my science classes last year, weren’t you?” Nicky asked the smaller boy and he too resumed unpacking.

“Yes. And your maths class.”

“Which subjects are you taking this year?”

“Art and design, history, geography and ICT. You?”

“History, maths, biology and psychology.” Nicky answered. He glanced at his watch, and pulled his running shoes from his holdall and slipped them on. “I’m going for a run before dinner. See you later.” Before Daniel could answer, Nicky had left the room.

Nicky ran down to the front lobby, where Ollie and Kieran were waiting for him. He greeted them with a nod, and they set off down the long gravel drive until they reached Dean Forest, half a mile away. Although still part of the school grounds, students rarely came down to the woods; tales of the trees being haunted, particularly at night, kept the woods helpfully clear for the three friends. When they were deep in the trees, Nicky stopped jogging, feeling his body start to tingle with anticipation, looking round to check they were completely alone.

Once he was certain, Nicky let his entire body relax. He felt the momentary discomfort as his muscles and ligaments began to tear and re-align; his bones groaned as some lengthened and some shortened, and he felt the uncomfortable prickling of sprouting fur all over his body. A second after it began, it was over; his vision was suddenly so much clearer, his senses of smell and hearing heightened.

Glancing round, he saw Kieran and Oliver had morphed beside him, and were waiting for his lead. Of the three, Nicky was the strongest; therefore, he was the leader of their ‘sub-pack’. Lifting his muzzle to test the air, Nicky caught the scent of a red deer, deep within the forest. With a soft, high yip of excitement, he shot off through the trees, Kieran and Ollie flanking him closely. They raced through the trees, dodging boulders and fallen logs, splashing through streams and crashing through brambles.

***

Back in his room, Daniel was puzzling over the abrupt departure of his new roommate. Finally finishing his unpacking, he shoved his suitcase underneath his bed and looked around the room. His shelves were crammed with books and notepads. Six photo frames held pencil sketches of his family that he had drawn over the holidays.

He looked over them for a moment; his ‘parents’, Jacob and Emily were in the largest frame, their arms around each other as they smiled towards an imaginary camera. The other frames held sketches of his ‘siblings’, his oldest brother Damon, his oldest sister Martha, Lucy and Bethany, who were his age, and his youngest brother, Harry.

Glancing over to Nicky’s side of the room, he saw a couple of photo frames sat on the desk. He went over and picked one up. It was obviously of Nicky’s parents, taken on a beach somewhere at sunset. They were both attractive people, and Nicky had inherited their dark colouring; deep brown eyes, near-black hair and olive skin. Another photo held a picture of Nicky and a younger girl, presumably his sister, dancing in a garden beside a barbeque. The final photo contained a portrait-esque photo of an older boy, in his early twenties, who also looked like Nicky.

They seemed like a happy family, but Daniel had a strange feeling about them that he couldn’t place, or understand. Frowning, he replaced the frames and turned back to his side of the room. Glancing at the clock, and seeing he still had an hour until dinner, Daniel went for a long, hot shower.

When he went back into his room, Nicky was back. His roommate was lying on his bed, shirtless, his eyes closed, arms folded behind his bed. Daniel stared at him for a moment, drinking in the sight of tanned, toned skin, before Nicky’s eyes snapped open and darted over to Daniel.

“Bathroom’s free, if you want it,” Daniel said quietly, motioning Nicky’s sweat-streaked torso. Nicky grinned and left Daniel alone. Daniel heard the shower being turned on, and quickly had to force his thoughts away from the image of his roommates’ body beneath a cascade of warm water. It had been a long time since he’d had thoughts like that, particularly about someone he’d only just been introduced to.

Daniel quickly dried himself off and pulled on a baggy pair of jeans and a loose sweatshirt, before he grabbed his favourite notebook and pencil and left the room. He wandered out through the front lobby and turned towards his favourite spot in the school grounds; a secluded patch beside the lake, where three tall weeping willow trees gave shade and privacy to anyone sat on the west bank.

Opening the notepad to the next blank page, Daniel lowered his pencil to the paper and began to sketch. As so often happened when he was drawing for comfort, Daniel experienced a sort of ‘mind-blank’, where he didn’t have any particularly distinguishable thoughts. He just drew whatever his pencil happened to put down for him. Finally, he heard the bell ring for dinner back at the school and glanced down at the drawing, and groaned. A perfect sketch of Nicky lying on his bed was on the paper. Smothering a sigh, Daniel snapped the sketchbook shut and stalked back up to the castle for dinner.

***

“So, who is your roommate?” Kieran asked Nicky as they sat down with their trays. “Do you know him?”

“He was in my science and maths classes last year. I think he came at the end of Year Ten.” Nicky looked around the rapidly filling cafeteria. “That’s him over there. The blonde one.” Ollie and Kieran looked over to where Nicky pointed.

“That loner kid’s your roommate?” Kieran asked. Nicky nodded.

“So, what’s he like?” Ollie asked. Nicky paused, before he shrugged.

“Quiet… I think he likes drawing though. Instead of photos of his family he has sketches.”

“Are they good?” Ollie asked. Nicky nodded. He glanced over at his roommate again, sitting quietly in a corner, working his way steadily through a steak and kidney pie.

“Are you coming out for a run tonight?” Kieran asked Nicky after a few minutes of silence. “Carlo said he thought we might go up to Waterside and back.” Nicky shrugged.

“I’ll see if I can get away. Daniel might notice if I’m gone all night.”

“So what if he does?”

“I don’t want him reporting me on the first night. You know we’re not allowed out of our rooms after the bedtime bell rings.”

“Wuss,” said Ollie with a grin. Nicky glared at him.

“I’m not rooming with either of you. I can’t just slip out whenever I like.”

“Sure.” Kieran grinned and nudged Ollie. “I reckon it’s just an excuse to spend time withDaniel.” He smirked at Nicky, who frowned.

“I don’t like him,” he said, nettled. “Not in that way. I just think that if I can become friends with him, then when I do want to sneak out, he’ll cover for me rather than reporting me.”

“Well, do it quickly,” said Ollie. “Full moon’s in five days. You’ll have to go out then.”

“I’d best get moving then.” Nicky stood up, took his empty tray to the stack beside the door, and went back up to his room.

When he went inside, Daniel was already there, stretched out on his bed, reading. Nicky lay down on his own bed and pulled out his notepad and pen. There was silence in the room for a while, before Nicky glanced over at Daniel.

“What’re you reading?” Daniel looked up at him.

“Fantasy book.” Daniel mumbled.

“What’s it about?”

“Basic fantasy story formula.” Daniel grinned. “What’re you doing?”

“Writing… Or trying to, anyway.”

“Writing what?”

“A novel… A fantasy one.”

“What’s it about?”

“Basic fantasy story formula.” Nicky grinned. Daniel rolled his eyes and turned back to his book. Nicky turned back to his notepad, when his phone buzzed in his pocket. He pulled it out and glanced at it.

Hey, little bro. Coming out tonight?Nicky glanced over at Daniel, and quickly replied to his brother.

Can’t tonight. Got a new roommate. Don’t think he’ll cover for me if he notices I’m gone. Be out on the full moon though.

Alright… See you then.Nick slid his phone back in his pocket.

“Who was that?” Daniel asked, curious despite himself.

“My brother, Michael.”

“The one in the photo?” Nicky nodded, glancing over at his brother’s photo. “What about your sister… And parents? What’re they like?”

“My sister’s Chloe… mum and dad are Joseph and Karen. They’re all a good laugh. I think you’d like them.” Daniel smiled. “What about your family?” Daniel glanced at the sketches above his head.

“They’re Jacob and Emily, my adoptive parents. Damon’s my oldest brother, Martha’s my oldest sister, Lucy and Bethany are my age, and Harry’s the youngest.”

“You’re adopted?” Nicky asked.

“Jacob and Emily can’t have kids of their own, so they adopted all of us.” Daniel looked up at the sketches for a moment.

“Do you remember your real parents?”

“I remember my parents a bit… they died when I was young.” In reality, Daniel’s parents had died in World War Two, in a bombing raid. Daniel was eighteen at the time, ready to go to war himself, when he’d been turned. He had just, technically, celebrated his eighty-seventh birthday.

The pair lapsed back into a friendly silence until the bedtime bell rang at eleven. With a sigh, Daniel shelved his book and began getting ready for bed. Nicky followed suit, pulling on a loose t-shirt and boxers, before he wriggled beneath his blankets. Daniel smiled over at his roommate.

“‘Night, Nicky.” His roommate glanced over at him for a second, before he returned the smile.

“‘Night.” Daniel waited until Nicky was sleeping peacefully, before he pulled out his sketchbook and pencil, and began to sketch the sleeping boy. Daniel, like most of his kind, could get by with very little sleep each night, something he found very helpful during exam times, when he could revise late into the night and not feel exhausted the next day.

After finishing the sketch, Daniel slid away his sketchpad and pencil and curled up beneath his blanket, watching his roommate sleep. It was almost four in the morning before Daniel slept.

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Chapter Two

Daniel awoke before Nicky the next morning. He went for a shower and dressed quickly, before he went over to the still sleeping boy. Placing a hand on Nicky’s shoulder, meaning to gently shake him awake, Daniel received what felt like an electric shock, except it was ten times as strong. Nicky sat upright in bed with a yelp, staring around wildly. Daniel jumped back from him as Nicky roommate glared at him.

“What did you do that for?” Nicky demanded, hopping out of bed.

“I didn’t do anything. The waking bell’s about to go, so I thought I’d wake you up. When I put my hand on your shoulder, I got a… shock, and you woke up.” Daniel shrugged apologetically. The waking bell rang just then, breaking Nicky’s slight glare away from Daniel. After a moment’s silence, Daniel left the room. Nicky watched his roommate leave, before he went for a hot shower. Something about his roommate felt strange; something he couldn’t place.

***

Daniel hurried down to the canteen, his entire arm still tingling with shock. Something still felt strange about Nicky. He sat down to a large plate of bacon, eggs and sausages and tucked in with gusto. He watched the other people who had come to the cafeteria early, seeing small groups of friends laughing and conversing together. Although he was quite happy by himself most of the time, Daniel couldn’t help occasionally wishing he had a friend or two to laugh and talk with.

“Hey.” Daniel jumped violently as Nicky slid into the seat beside him. “Sorry.” His roommate grinned. “I’m sorry I snapped at you earlier. I’m not much of a morning person.” Daniel smiled.

“That’s all right. I don’t know what happened. I just touched you and got a shock.” Nicky rubbed his ear thoughtfully. He’d had an idea earlier, about why they’d both been ‘electrocuted’ by the other.

“Are you…?” Nicky paused, wondering whether he should ask.

“What?”

“Nothing… it’ll sound stupid. And if I’m wrong, it’ll get me in trouble with...”

“What?” Daniel frowned at him, wondering what he was talking about.

“Nothing,” said Nicky again. Daniel rolled his eyes and stood up.

“Well, it’s been nice listening to you waffle, but I have an art class to get to.” Daniel ran back up to his room and collected his rucksack, before making his way to the large art room on the other side of the school. He liked the way the school ran the timetable for the Year Twelve’s and Thirteen’s. Because their year groups were small and their classes even smaller because of subject choices, they had entire mornings or afternoons of one lesson, which began later and finished earlier than the other years. Once he got to the empty art room, Daniel took an empty table and pulled out his homework diary and timetable.

Monday - 9.00-12.00 Art, 12.00-13.00 Lunch, 13.00-16.00 Geography

Tuesday - 9.00-12.00 History, 12.00-13.00 Lunch, 13.00-16.00 ICT

Wednesday - 9.00-12.00 Art, 12.00-13.00 Lunch, 13.00-16.00 Geography

Thursday - 9.00-12.00 History, 12.00-13.00 Lunch, 13.00-16.00 ICT

Friday - Study Day

He glued his timetable in the front of his diary and began doodling absently around the edges while he waited for the rest of his class. Five minutes later, as the bell rang for the first lesson, the rest of his classmates came in. There were only four of them in the class this year, which was one of the things Daniel loved about being in the Sixth Form.

He recognised all three of the boys, who had been in his art class the previous year. William Slater, Harry Bell and Ben Jackson. All three of the boys glanced over at Daniel at his table, and immediately took their own tables on the other side of the classroom.

A moment later, their teacher, Miss Walsh, a young, slim-faced woman, came in and put her folders down on the desk. She looked around at them for a moment, before she sat down behind the desk and smiled at them. She opened her mouth to speak, when the door opened again and a short, black-haired boy entered the room.

“Sorry I’m late,” he said, closing the door and walking over to the desk. He handed Miss Walsh a slip of paper. “I’m new, and I got a bit lost.” She smiled at him, signed the paper, and gave it back to him.

“That’s alright. Take a seat; we haven’t started yet anyway.” The new boy glanced over at William and the others, before he eyed Daniel sitting by himself and came over.

“Hi. I’m Scott Howard. Do you mind if I sit here?” He indicated the table beside Daniel’s. Daniel shook his head, subtly looking at the new boy. His eyes were almost as dark as his hair; he had a toned body, but less so than Nicky. He was built more like a swimmer. Daniel realised, almost subconsciously, that the kid was cute.

“Alright, everyone. Let’s get started. This year, as well as your final exams in June, you are all required to produce coursework that shows how yours ideas have developed throughout the year, into your final piece. You’ll all produce various compilations of work that show how you selected your subject, various compositions of your chosen subject, and explanations of why you chose your subject, and why you chose to depict them in the way you have. You can do a drawing, a clay model, or a painting, whatever you like, as long as you show your ideas developing throughout.”

“What’s the topic?” Harry asked. “Or can we choose our own?”

“The topic this year is ‘People. You’ll use various techniques to show different perspectives, shading work, coloured pieces, everything you can think of. You can choose your own subject; it could be a classmate or a family member. So, today, I want you to think of a model you might like to use, and begin some preliminary sketches from memory; see if your chosen model is a good subject for you. You can’t have them in the classroom for you to draw from life, so you need to make sure you can recall from memory.” Daniel blocked out the rest of the teachers words as he began to think about whom to use as his model. He immediately thought of his brother, Damon, whom he was always sketching in the holidays. Damon had beautiful pale grey eyes that seemed to see right through you when you looked at him.

It was a few moments before Daniel realised the new boy was talking to him. He looked back over at Scott.

“Sorry. I blanked out for a sec.”

“I noticed.” Scott grinned. “You okay?” Daniel nodded.

“What were you saying?”

“Just asking how long you’ve been here.”

“Since the end of Year Ten. Just over a year.”

“Do you like it here?”

“Yeah. Most of the teachers are nice, and now the timetable’s a bit more lenient, which I like. Where did you move from?”

"Up north. I… had some problems at my old school. The people there… well, let's just say, they found out something about me, and it didn't go down well with them." Scott looked sad for a moment, before he smiled at Daniel. "So, what's wrong with you?"

"Pardon?"

"What's wrong with you?" Scott repeated.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, first thing I see when I walk in is the cutest boy in the class sitting all by himself. And I wondered why that would be." Daniel stared at Scott for a moment, before he blinked and glanced away.

"So, you're gay?" He asked tentatively. Scott smiled.

"I never was any good at hiding it,” he said ruefully, before he smirked at Daniel. "If it's a problem here, then I'll either deal with it, or I'll move again. Depends on how bad it is. I kind of hoped you were too, since the others in here seem to be avoiding looking at you."

"Oh, no, that's not why they- I mean, I am- They don't-" Scott broke him off with a chuckle. Daniel smiled sheepishly. "I am gay, but that's not why they avoid me."

"Why do they then?" Daniel shrugged.

"They just do. I'm used to it."

"Does everyone do it, or just those three?"

"Most people do… Some people talk to me sometimes, like you are now. I don't mind, particularly. I like being alone, for the most part. Except when I'm with my family. I like being around them."

"Well, that's never a bad thing." Scott said, looking faintly bemused.

"Sorry." Daniel blushed. "I'm not very good with people… Especially people I don't know."

"Alright,” said Scott, pulling out his sketchpad and beginning to sketch half-heartedly. "Let's play twenty questions. Then I won't be a stranger." Daniel smiled and nodded.

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Chapter Three

"So," said Scott as they left the art room for lunch that day. "Would you like to go out with me sometime? I mean, if there's anywhere we can go. And if we're even allowed to… I really should have found some of this out before I asked, shouldn't I?" Daniel smiled.

"The school grounds are huge. And all of the old castle outbuildings have been converted into rooms we can use. There's a coffee shop near the lake, a massive library away from the school where people can have a bit more quiet to revise in. There are some gyms and a pool dotted about too. I'll take you around, if you like. Show you where everything is." Scott nodded eagerly.

They entered the cafeteria and got their lunch quickly. Scott followed Daniel to a table in the corner and sat down opposite him. They were silent for a while.

"So, what lessons are you taking?" Daniel asked finally. Scott fished his timetable from his bag and handed it to Daniel. "Art, same as me, you have geography at the same time too. Biology and photography. You can do an A Level in photography?" Daniel asked. Scott nodded.

"So I like taking photos,” he said, seeing Daniel's look. Daniel shrugged.

"Well, I don't know who teaches photography, but Mr Middleton, who takes biology, is nice enough. As long as you do your homework. Which Wing are you in, by the way?"

"North. You?"

"North. I'm in DN57."

"I think I'm in DN45. I'm on my own at the moment, since everyone else was already paired up."

"You're just down the hall from me. Stop by if you're feeling lonely. I don't think my roommate will mind. That's him over there." Daniel pointed out Nicky, sat with his two friends on the opposite side of the cafeteria.

"Is he nice?"

"So far." Daniel replied. "I knew him by sight, but only really was introduced to him yesterday." He opened his mouth to say more, when he felt the familiar feeling wash over him. The entire room disappeared, except for one boy, sat half way down the cafeteria. The room was silent, except the thunderous thudding of the boy’s heart, which Daniel could hear as though it was his own. The boy had cut his finger on a foil yoghurt lid. Daniel couldn't help but stare at the boy, his own heart beginning to beat harder in expectation. He could feel adrenaline flooding his body, feel the anticipation of the hunt begin.

Daniel stood up quickly, startling Scott, who he barely noticed.

"I'll be back in a moment. I've forgotten something in the art room." Daniel half-ran from the room before Scott could reply. Daniel shot across the entrance hall, past the office, and out into the grounds, where he ducked behind the nearest clump of bushes he could find, breathing heavily. He sat down on the damp grass and closed his eyes, waiting for his body to calm itself. His stomach growled loudly in protest at being denied a meal.

Before his body could entirely restore itself, Daniel heard footsteps approaching. He scrambled to his feet, expecting Scott, and was surprised when a small Year Seven boy walked past the bushes, heading for the nearby coffee shop. Before he could really register what he was doing, Daniel had caved in to his body's demands. His hand shot out and grabbed the boy, his other arm clamping firmly over the kid's mouth so he couldn't scream. Daniel felt the boy's heart being to race, adrenaline flooding his system as he squirmed and kicked, trying to break free.

Daniel let his fangs, almost an inch long, very slightly curved inwards, like a snake’s, and gleaming white, distend rapidly. He twisted the boy's head to the side, baring his neck; Daniel could almost see the boy's veins throbbing. He allowed his fangs to gently graze the kid's neck, numbing the site, before he plunged his fangs in deep. The boy fell limply against him, whimpering softly, but Daniel barely noticed as the blood flowed into his mouth, iron-rich and strengthening.

Daniel drank for only a few moments, before he forced himself to move away. He retracted his fangs and quickly licked the boy's neck, healing the puncture wounds. The numbing agent in his saliva would prevent any pain later on. Swinging the boy to face him, Daniel looked deep into his eyes and probed his thoughts gently, before removing the past five minutes. He gave the boy a gentle push towards the coffee shop, checking to make sure he was walking steadily by himself. Daniel quickly made sure his clothes were blood-free, and wiped his mouth, before he went back inside.

Scott was still in the cafeteria when he went back, waiting for him. He had taken their empty trays away, and was waiting with their rucksacks.

"What was that about?" He demanded as Daniel came over and shouldered his rucksack.

"What?"

"Well, you got a weird look on your face and shot off before I could say anything."

"Like I said, I forgot something. Come on. You've got geography with me, so I'll take you up now and show you the department." Scott followed, still not looking entirely satisfied, as Daniel took him to the geography block and quickly showed him all the classrooms and equipment rooms.

***

After dinner that evening, Daniel hurried up to his room to change. Nicky was there, spread out on his bed, his notepad open in front of him. Daniel smiled at him, and quickly began pulling clothes from his wardrobe, wondering what to wear.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm changing."

"Oh… Into all of your clothes at once?" Nicky asked.

"I don't know what to wear."

"Okay. What's the occasion? Back to school celebration?"

"I have a date. With a guy I met five hours ago."

"You're gay?"

"Yeah." Daniel glanced over at Nicky. "Is that going to be a problem for you?" Nicky shook his head.

"Just a… surprise." Daniel looked at him for a moment, before he smiled.

"Good. As long as it's not a problem. Otherwise I would've had to hurt you." Nicky burst out laughing. "What?" Daniel asked indignantly.

"You couldn't take me,” Nicky said. "Trust me."

"I'm a lot tougher than I look. Trustme." Nicky rolled his eyes.

"Whatever you say, Daniel." He yawned and put away his notepad. "So who's your date with? And where are you going?"

"It's a new kid. I don't think you'll know him, since he was in my lessons all day. Not sure where we're going."

"Well, there's a nice cake shop in town. Sally's. They do great muffins."

"Who have you ever taken into town?" Daniel asked curiously, smirking. "Someone from St Ellen's Girls Grammar?"

"I sometimes go with Kieran and Oliver. Is that alright with you?" Nicky asked moodily.

"Just asking,” said Daniel defensively. He surveyed his clothes a moment longer, before he selected a deep blue button-up shirt and his smartest pair of jeans. "Does this look oaky?" he asked Nicky once he'd changed. "Kind of… smart-casual."

"You look like you've tried too hard,” said Nicky, his eyes wandering over Daniel's slim body.

"Really?" Daniel looked down, worried. Nicky chuckled.

"No. You look fine." He gave Daniel a shove towards the door with his foot. "Shove off. I'd like some peace." Daniel stuck his tongue out at Nicky and darted from the room before his roommate could throw a large book at him.

***

"So, where are we going?" Daniel asked Scott as they made their way off the school grounds and towards the town.

"Actually, I have no idea,” said Scott. "I figured you'd pick someplace, since you know this place better than me." Daniel thought for a moment.

"My roommate mentioned a nice cake shop that does muffins." He supplied after a moment. "But I don't know where it is."

"That's helpful,” said Scott dryly. "Don't you know the town?"

"Not particularly. I've never really had anyone to come in with, so…" He shrugged. "Let's… wander around until we find it."

"Or, we could ask someone." Scott grinned. "What's it called?"

"Sally's. And they do muffins!" Daniel called after Scott, as he went inside a small shoe shop.

"So, you like muffins?" Scott asked when he came back out. "It's on Church Street, the next left."

"I guess I like muffins. Nicky said they were good, so I want to try one." They found Sally's, a tiny little shop set a little way back from the street, and went inside. There were only three small tables inside, and five bar stools tucked neatly underneath a marble worktop that ran in front of the window. A long, brightly lit counter ran along the back wall, holding a large selection of homemade cakes and pastries. Daniel immediately felt his mouth begin to water.

"What would you like?" Scott asked him as they approached the counter.

"Erm…" Daniel stared at the muffins for a moment. "A hot chocolate please." He told the girl behind the counter. "With whipped cream. And… one of every flavour muffin, please."

"That's twelve muffins." The girl clarified, frowning.

"Yeah. Thanks. Oh, and whatever Scott wants." Daniel pulled out his wallet as Scott ordered, and paid before Scott could protest. They sat down at one of the little tables. "Now… which one do I want first?" Daniel stared thoughtfully at the muffins, before he picked out the blueberry one.

"Good?" Scott asked, sipping his coffee. Daniel nodded. "So, we don't have to return eleven muffins?" Daniel shook his head.

"I didn't know which one to get. So I got them all." He shrugged. "They'll get eaten. I do that a lot. If I can't decide which to get, I'll get all of something. Last year, I bought five pairs of trainers in a day, because I could decide if I wanted the ones with blue stripes, or yellow stripes. So I got ones with all the stripe colours the shop had." He shrugged again, and took another bite. Scott stared at him for a moment, before he burst out laughing.

"Alright." He eyed the muffins thoughtfully. "Are you going to kill me if I eat one of these?"

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Chapter Four

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Chapter Five

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Chapter Six

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Chapter Seven

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Chapter Eight

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Chapter Nine

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Chapter Ten

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Chapter Eleven

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Chapter Twelve

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Chapter Thirteen

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Chapter Fourteen

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Chapter Fifteen

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