“How did you like the book Meridelle?” Samson enquires, sitting calmly on a chair in front of me. We’re in a room adjoining his office, furnished with a chair, a couch and a single window.
I’m on the couch, irritated to say the least as he stares back at me with a brown notebook and a pen in his hands. I cross my arms over my chest, rolling my eyes.
“How did you like putting me to sleep like a fucking child?” I retort sarcastically. Fucking dick.
His eyebrow cocks upwards.
“You knew about the rules. I understand your frustration but you simply aren’t allowed to leave your room after 10,” he says calmly.
“This doesn’t explain why you had to use sleeping gas to put me to sleep!” I reply heatedly. I want to leave this place.
“You can’t leave right now—”
“Stop getting inside my head!” I shout, standing up. I glare at him, patience wearing thin and ready to run out at any moment.
“Meridelle you know I have the means to make you cooperate. Please don’t make me use them,” he states calmly.
I clench my fists, feeling power mounting through me, ready to burst out at any moment. But his gaze doesn't waver.
“Go on. Try.”
Grumbling, I slump back on the small couch. I didn’t want Derek to mess with my mind, nor did I want Tristan or Ed to mess with my emotions. They’re unsteady enough on their own.
“So the book?” he probes again. “What did you think about it?”
“A complete waste of time. Didn’t make sense. Left me unsatisfied,” I snap.
“Unsatisfied? How so?” Samson digs, jotting something down in his notebook.
“One learns lessons in books. I didn’t learn anything.”
“You read the book on the first level of comprehension--”
“It's like I'm hearing my English Lit teacher,” I huff. “Let's make something clear alright? I read for the pleasure of reading. I don't give a fuck about what this word really means and what this and that symbolizes. I read to escape this fuckery that is life and that's it.”
“And don't you find that this makes you a bit like Alice? Alice escaping to Wonderland?” he enquires, pen poised to write.
“No. Not at all. Because for all I know, Alice doesn't know shit about losing someone to the hands of Death. She ends up in Wonderland because her mind is unstable.”
“But why is she unstable?”
“I don't know! And I don't care! Am I done talking with you now? I have nothing else to say!” I stand up.
“I'm sure you have plenty to say Meridelle. Especially about your sister. But I understand you are not quite ready.”
“You're delirious if you think I'll ever talk about her to you,” I snap.
“Your thoughts might just speak for themselves then,” he exhales loudly. “Fine then. You're free to go join the others. But I need to know something first.”
“What?” I groan, dropping back on the couch.
My skin tingles at the mention of his name.
“What about him?” I ask between clenched teeth. I try emptying my mind almost immediately, thinking about ice and snowflakes and snow. I don't know anything, I convince myself.
“Did you see him yesterday between one and three?”
Snowflakes. Ice. Snow. Frost. Anything. I don't want t think about it. I can't think about it.
He squints, eyeing me up and down.
“Your thoughts are a jumbled mess: you know there's no point in lying right? I have security cameras in numerous rooms, including yours and Payne's. You weren't in your room and there was a system failure in his room at 2:22 precisely.”
“Why would I be in Liam's room? I hate fire,” I remind him. “And you claim you know my story,” I scoff.
“You were with him for supper,” he counters.
“And? You asked me to mingle with the others and that's exactly what I did,” I snap, overly annoyed.
“He wasn't supposed to be there for supper: his recovery was quicker that it's supposed to be normally. You're hiding something.”
“Why wouldn't I be? I. Don't. Trust. You,” I enunciate.
“You don't want to be on my bad side either. I'll find out what you're doing Meridelle and I'll put a stop to it before it's even started'” he lets his threat hang for several seconds, expecting me to fess up. When I don't, he sighs. “I'll be seeing you at the end of the week then.”
I glare at him, both of us standing up simultaneously.
“Just know that I'll be keeping tabs on you,” he concludes, opening the door to his 'therapy' office.
I roll my eyes and step out, rapidly walking down the corridor leading to the common room.
It’s only when I’m a good 10 feet away from Samson that I realize that my random thoughts were the product of Harry’s gift. Maybe we do have a small chance to get out then. Maybe. I need to find Liam and tell him I’m slightly more inclined to join his little experiments.
When I do enter the common room, I practically feel Liam’s absence. Like a throb. I see Louis lounging on a couch in the common room, munching peacefully on a carrot in a Bugs Bunny fashion. Multiple eyes fall on me as I walk towards him but I pay no attention to them.
“Where’s Liam?” I ask.
“Hello to you too Snowflake. How are you on this wonderful day?” he replies sarcastically, finishing up his carrot. “And why does my presence matter this morning when it clearly didn’t last night?”
Right. He was Disciplined yesterday.
“How are you?” I enquire.
“How am I? You have freaking healing powers,” Louis accuses, his tone hushed as I plop down in front of him. He looks around, making sure nobody was paying any attention to us. “You have healing powers and not only didn't you tell me, but you decided to help only Liam,” he hisses, as if we were talking in a library. “What did I ever do to you?”
“I don't have healing powers,” I retort, just as quietly. “What I did to him was a onetime thing―”
“What did you do to him hmm? Jack him off and it miraculously regenerated his supernatural essence?” he mocks. “Pop into my room next time alright? I wouldn’t mind the treatment.”
“You’re disgusting,” I grimace, standing up. “And how was I even supposed to know you were in pain? I thought you weren’t supposed to feel any.”
“Usually I don’t. But when my essence is removed, guess what? I'm human enough to feel my cells twisting themselves and attempt to create cartoon elements. And that fucking hurts,” he snaps. “Like a billion tiny needles poking through your skin.”
“Well like I said, I don’t have any healing powers. I don’t know what Liam told you―”
“He told me you simply put your hands on him and gave him an adrenalin rush. That pretty much sounds like an orgasm to me―”
“Well it wasn’t! I don’t even know the guy! I’m not the type of girl who’ll simply go around jacking boys off for no reason!” I state angrily.
I turn around as I feel a pair of eyes on me. I gaze back at Harry, who’s sitting in front of a chessboard.
“Our conversation isn’t over love!” Louis protests as I spin on my heel and head to where the curly-haired boy is sitting.
“Yeah it is!” I retort, not even bothering to look back at him. Harry doesn’t lift his head up from his game as I drop down on the chair in front of him.
“Thank you for last night’s lasagna,” I say after a couple seconds of silence.
“You’re welcome. How did your talk with Strife go?” he enquires, still not looking at me.
“He knows something is up. He just doesn’t know exactly what. Whatever you did to my head kept him in the dark. I believe you have a 95% chance of getting caught.”
“And the other 5%?”
“Maybe you can make it out,” I shrug. There’s a short pause.
“Samson knows something is up simply because Louis and Liam are clearly involved. He’s been keeping a watchful eye on both of them for a while now,” Harry explains, moving a black chess piece.
“Or he saw something on his cameras,” I suggest. “If he has them all over the place like he claims, we are going to get busted in no time,” I sigh, taking my head in my hands.
Harry finally looks up at me.
“We? As in you want to collaborate?” he questions, the shadow of a smile forming on his lips.
“I thought you could decipher intentions,” I mutter.
“I can. I just want to hear you say it.”
“I decided that I’m not staying here if it means that he gets to control everything I do, including when I go to sleep. I’m not a child,” I explain, feeling some of my anger mount.
“Does he know you want to leave?”
“It crossed my mind and he saw it,” I acknowledge. He bites his lip.
“That puts you at a disadvantage then. He won’t be as nice with you as he was before. You might end up in Discipline if you’re not careful enough,” he exhales.
“Can’t you hide the part of my brain that wants to leave? Just like you hid what happened between Liam and I?”
He shakes his head, moving a white chess piece.
“He’ll know I had something to do with it and I can’t jeopardize myself. Just lay low and avoid disobeying his rules and you should be fine,” the green-eyed boy reassures.
Louis arrives beside us.
“Sorry if I was an ass Meri,” he states. “Last night was rough on me and I didn’t find it fair that Liam had the chance to eat last night’s lasagna and I didn’t,” he apologizes. I look at him in disbelief. “What? I love lasagna and it’s one of the only good meals in their shitty cafeteria,” he defends. I shake my head, rolling my eyes. “And to make it up to you, I’ll tell you where Liam is.”
“Where is he?”
“Burning off some calories at the gym. Get it?” he chuckles. The sound of cartoon laughter and clapping resonates out of him.
“You guys are allowed to work out?” I state, surprised.
“Why not? It allows us to blow off some steam. But obviously, we’re under heavy surveillance when we do work out. Pascal takes sick pleasure in reminding us that he’s in charge. He control’s one’s level of strength and energy. One time, he made Liam so weak he couldn’t even lift his hand, let alone stand.”
“When aren’t we under surveillance?”
“We always are,” both boys respond.
“What about when we’re at the bathroom?”
“We’re watched,” Zayn huffs, sitting beside Harry and in front of Louis. “And that since Louis and Liam decided to try to get the whole building to blackout by playing with the electrical outlets in the bathroom,” he trails on in annoyance. His presence makes my skin crawl.
“It would’ve worked if we would’ve gotten a little more help,” Louis butts in.
“Your idea was thoughtless and didn’t have a structure. I didn’t see the point in helping what was helpless. But if we actually take the time top map our ideas out with Meri and Payne, things are a little more interesting.”
“Not that your gift is practical in these types of situations anyways,” I mumble.
I regret the words I spoke as soon as I feel my body calling out for Zayn’s contact. I clench my eyes shut, a low moan stuck in my throat as the pores of my skin beg for Zayn’s attention.
“Mate stop that,” Louis demands. “Liam is going to roast you alive.”
“She’s not Liam’s.”
I moan as the dark-haired boy’s leg grazes mine under the table. I feel his hand inching up my thigh. And then the pull stops. I’m breathless.
“My gift is very practicall darling,” Zayn states. “It’s the reason no boy has approached you so far except us. Because believe me, two thirds of the boys in this room want to bed you. I know, I feed your arousal with theirs.”
I feel sick.
“Female company is a necessity when you’re at our age. At least eight boys in here have fantasized about seeing you naked and doing other things. Payne is one of them.”
“You are one of them too,” I accuse.
“I have indeed touched myself to the thought of you. I look forward to the day that you’ll be touching yourself with the thought of me.”
My stomach flips.
“Enough Zayn, you’re making her nauseous,” Harry says.
“You’re making everybody nauseous,” Louis confirms, his skin a sick shade of green.
“You’re not innocent either Tomlinson.”
Louis looks down guiltily and I find myself scooting away from him.
“You want me on your side Meridelle,” the darker boy ends.