The Snug is packed when I walk in and Leo sits by himself, laid out on the sofa.
It’s not like anyone would sit next to him anyway.
“Move your legs,” I say, he gives me a questioning look, taking his headphones off, letting a guitar solo wail into the air.
“What?” He sits up, leaving space for me to sit anyway.
“Never mind, where are Rin and Roan?”
“You mean Rinan? Or would it be Roin? But that sounds like rowing…”
He nods to the corner.
On a computer, Rin sits on Roan’s lap as they share headphones, laughing and pulling faces at each other.
“Ugh, you can just imagine the cartoon hearts can’t you?” Leo cringes.
“Mm.” I agree, sitting beside him.
“She was asking about you at break.” He drops his arm on my shoulder, idly playing with a few loose strands of my hair.
He shrugs, a frown forming on his forehead.
“I don’t know. Roan was getting her some food and she just blurts out “So is the sadist really as powerful as people say?”"
I frown myself. “What did you say?”
“I said, “yeah she is and if you start bitching about her I’ll gladly tell Rose and you can find out for yourself.”" He grins. “She shut up after that.”
“Leo, I doubt she was going to start slagging me off. She’s new to the group, she may have Roan wrapped around her little finger, but she’ll want us to like her too.”
“Maybe, but right now, all she cares about is the love sick sap Roan’s turned into. Holy hell he’s undressing her right out in public!”
Sure enough, Roan is helping her take off her beige cardigan.
In our group of black wearers, she sticks out like sore thumb.
“Leo, she’s taking off her cardi.”
“Who wears a cardigan anyway?” He grumbles.
Suddenly I notice the Uppers using the Foosball table, talking amongst themselves and shooting us looks.
Leo jerks his chin at them.
“Alright?” He asks warningly, shifting closer to me.
Matt, the strongest fire wielder we have in the whole school, juts his chest out and starts to saunter over.
“Here we go.” I murmur and move to the edge of the sofa as Leo stands up.
He’s not as tall or as big as Matt, but he’s an Outsider, the Body Snatcher, his reputation is much larger then Matt could ever be.
“No I’m not, someone here…” Matt says, raising his voice so it eventually falls quite. Roan practically drops Rin off his lap to come and stand beside us.
I’m so grateful I almost hug him.
Rin hovers in the corner, not sure what to do now we are up against her old friends.
“…has been leaking information about us, all of us.”
There are murmurs and people begin to turn away.
We’ve already heard this, few of us really care.
Surely no one would dare leak anything serious.
Matt smiles. “Well, everyone but you guys. There’s not a single thing about the Outsiders.”
The interest is back and we get even more glares than usual.
“Well that’s because no one really knows anything about us here do they? None of you talk to us.” Roan argues. “And how are we supposed to know anything about you? Where would we get the information from?”
He sneers. “Her!” He points a chubby finger at Rin who begins to shake, finding herself all alone bearing the snarls and comments.
Roan flushes, anger making him seem even taller.
Leo steps back.
“You leave her out of this. She has told us nothing about you except how readily you dropped her when you found out she was different!”
“She lied to us!”
Roan took a step forwards. “She did no such thing!”
“Just admit, one of you is the Mole!” Matt growls, eyeing each of us. “Maybe it’s the Sadist, she likes causing pain.”
My anger flares and I step forward, joining Roan.
“I’d like to cause you pain you-”
Leo grabs my arm before I can get any closer.
Balls of flickering flame start to grow in the hands of the Elementals. Ready to fight for Matt.
“Oh yeah? Once you were done, I’d be fine. No harm done.” A flame dances into life in his hand, making his ice blue eyes ghostly. “A round with me however?” He chuckles, the flame circling around his bare forearms. “You’d have third degree burns.”
I smile meanly. “Evidence to get you expelled dumbass. Not the smart one are you?”
He glares, cheeks colouring in embarrassment.
“You bitch!” He cries and grabs my arm.
Searing heat burns my skin, and I cry out, automatically zapping him as hard as I can.
He crumples to the floor and I cradle my arm, watching the skin begin to bubble.
Leo’s arm shoots out and Matt is pulled to standing, eyes’ blazing as his body is controlled against his will.
“Say sorry now!” Leo roars.
The growing crowd step back, looking fearful.
Matt clamps his lips together, glaring at me with hatred so much hotter than his fire I’m surprised I’m not burnt a second time.
I feel as though I’m still burning now and I want to cry with the pain but don’t dare in front of all these people.
“Say sorry or I’ll make you.”
Matt heaves his breaths, trying to fight Leo’s control and fuming with rage.
“Sorry.” Matt spits and falls to the floor as Leo drops his arm, releasing his control.
Leo puts his hand on my back and steers me out, I still cradle my arm as Roan beckons Rin to follow.
The cold air both stings and relieves the burn a bit, but I need to run it under cold water to stop it from cooking.
“Rose, are you alright?” Roan asks nervously, trying to touch my arm.
“Don’t even touch her!” Leo cries, stepping in front of him. “She got burnt because of you!”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Her!” Leo snarls, pointing to Rin. “This all started because you had to take in the stray!”
“She is not a stray! She’s an Outsider just like us.”
“She will never be one of us!”
“Guys!” I butt in. “Can we please run some water on this because it freaking hurts.” I wipe my cheeks as silent tears slip out between my lashes.
“Of course, Rose.” Roan moves in the direction of the kitchen.
“No, you stay with the stray. I’ll take her. It’s not like you’ve given us one thought until now anyway.”
Roan doesn’t argue. Leo’s beyond anger now, speaking quietly and firmly.
“I’ll check up on you later.” He says to me before taking Rin’s hand and going in the opposite direction.
“Come on, let’s go sort that out.” He leads me away and I cast a reluctant glance behind us.
Roan never looks back.