That was embarrassing.
I sat in the back, next to Kyle, trying not to freak out. Just as I’d gotten back there the jet had nearly crashed. I’d fallen over, and Kyle had just stopped me from hitting the floor.
“Thanks,” I muttered.
He grinned at me. “See? I’m not total pond scum you know, sweetheart?”
“I told you to stop calling me that,” I said distantly, my mind on other things.
I wondered why Elle was so good at reading people. And why she was so nosy. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew it was her way of caring, and she really wasn’t that nosy… But, I would never admit that. I guess it was just part of being stubborn.
The truth was, there had been one moment when I’d kind of started to have feelings for him. It’d been back when Tara had first captured me. I’d woken up in the basement of that hut, scared, cold, and alone. Then he’d appeared out of nowhere, and freaked me out.
I’d been scared of him at first, but he wasn’t cruel or harsh or anything. He was honestly really sweet. I’d told him I was cold, and he gave me his jacket. He’d managed to find me something to drink- actual clean water- using his space powers to filter out any toxins. Then he’d left, and promised he’d come back.
There’d been two more visits like that. Then Finn and Elle showed up, and that stopped. But I didn’t forget it- and I don’t think he did either.
Case in point- we sat together in the back of the jet. He refrained from putting his arm around me, but I could tell he was looking at me.
“So how long are you going to pretend to hate me for?” he asked. “I know you were getting used to me. You know...Before?”
“That was before I found out you were Tara’s lapdog,” I snarled. “And that you dote on her. And hang on her every word. And were in love with her. And I saw what you did to Finn, who is one of my friends by the way.”
He sighed. “Hey- I had a reason. That kid broke the oath that we made when we were kids- a blood oath, no less. The rules are strict in the wastes, and the punishments no less. I’m not going to break those rules- not even for my own brother.”
“Rules were made to be broken,” I rolled my eyes. “If a rule like that requires you to hurt someone who obviously cared about you, then you don’t need to follow it.”
“You really don’t get it,” he sighed. “Rules in Koran are super important. Without them, we’re no better than the crazed that live in the city. Our lives are dictated by them. And Finn broke them. We had to deliver the subsequent punishment. And besides…” he shook his head thoughtfully, “I was mad at him.”
“You know, you act like such a child sometimes, Kyle,” I rolled my eyes.
“Well I’m sorry. I’m working on that, I promise.”
I rolled my eyes again, and he grinned. “I’m getting to you, darling. Admit it.”
“Never,” I grinned back.
We both looked up to the front, where Finn was patiently teaching Elle how to fly the jet. Finn had turned the autopilot on and was pointing to different buttons and levers, explaining what they did and giving Annella flying technique.
I heard their voices carry back.
“So, I would just… do this?” Elle pointed to a few buttons. Finn chuckled.
“Exactly! You’re getting it!” His eyes sparkled and he let his guard down. She giggled at him and her crystal eyes gazed into his green ones.
“Cute, aren’t they?” Kyle whispered. For a moment, I forgot where we were. I forgot it was Kyle, and what was happening. For just a single moment, I got lost in their happiness. I smiled and nodded at Kyle, turning only to see his face much too close to mine. I was happy, for only a second, before it was gone. Before I realized that it was Kyle and we were here, now. I pulled my face back, turning an unattractive shade of red.
“Back off, sweetheart.” I whispered venomously, hiding my blush. He finally didn’t have anything to say. He was caught off guard, although he recovered quickly.
“Whatever.” He rolled his eyes, his cheeks flushing, “I’m going to do… something.” He paused and then ran off into the closet that Finn had been in.
Elle turned away from Finn, looking back at me.
What happened? She mouthed.
It’s nothing. I rolled my eyes and grinned.
“We’ll be to the academy in about an hour,” Finn commented, “Be prepared.”
“For what?” I asked.
“You don’t think we’ll be in trouble for running away?” he replied.
“We’ll just tell them what happened with Tara,” I shrugged. “It’ll be fine.”
To my surprise, Finn laughed. Laughed!
“You think it works that way?” he shook his head. “No. Tara comes from a rich and powerful family- and we’re all kind of known rivals. It’ll just sound like framing.”
“Who would believe us?” he continued, shaking his head. “A mage no older than 16 trying to do something as crazy as causing a nationwide disaster? We’d be laughed at and ignored. It’s better if we craft some well-constructed lie. That’s our best bet.”
“He has a point.” Elle agreed.
“Could you use one of your illusions?” I suggested.
Finn sighed. “Maybe. But if we’re lying to a teacher, they’d most likely be able to detect magic being used. That could be risky. It’s better to sound convincing without magic.”
“He has another point.” Elle nodded her head and Kyle suddenly poofed up next to me.
“Do you have any of your own points?” He asked irritably, nodding towards Annella. Finn glared, slipping his arm around Elle’s waist and pulling her towards him.
“Drop the protective boyfriend complex, Kyle,” Finn rolled his eyes. “Just because your girlfriend is wrong…”
“Finn, shut up,” Kyle rolled his eyes. “Anyways. That little whisper you got? Bet that’s from Tara. Have you told your beloved girlfriend what that says yet?”
“You really like going offensive, don’t you?” Finn rolled his eyes.
“That’s enough,” Elle interjected, her usually gentle voice taking on a firm tone.
“I would have to agree with Annella.” I said, narrowing my eyes towards Kyle, “That is enough.”
He rolled his eyes. “Kay’, whatever you say.”
“Honestly, Kyle, stop acting like a spoiled five year old,” Finn added.
That’s probably the meanest thing he’s ever said to anybody. It sounded like they’d had this argument many times. Kyle just laughed.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Go back to teaching your girlfriend how to fly, will you?”
“Go back to being your girlfriend’s puppet, will you?” Annella spat bitterly.
“For your information, I am not her puppet,” he rolled his eyes.
“Yes, you are,” I laughed. “You most definitely are. You turned on Tara just because I kissed you. Come on, admit it. You are the most puppet-like person in this entire world.”
He turned back to Elle. “I’m not as much of a puppet as your boyfriend.”
“At least my boyfriend loves me.” Annella fumed. Finn turned an odd shade of green and Kyle laughed.
“Enjoy it while you can,” he smirked.
“Kyle…” Finn said quietly. And then Elle did something that I never would have expected, at least not out of her. She balled her hands into fists at her sides, pulled one back, and punched Kyle in the face. He pulled back in surprise. Then his eyes narrowed.
“Oh, so you want to fight now? I’m a space mage. I could beat you without even touching you.”
“Elle, don’t,” Finn said quietly. “He has a point.”
But, Elle was gone.
“Elle, stop!” I yelled. She was too far away to hear me.
“Let’s take this out of the jet.” Kyle laughed and then he grabbed her wrist and they disappeared.
Finn swore quietly. “Just what we need. For Kyle to lose his temper.”
“Um, Elle did too,” I pointed out.
“Don’t blame this on Elle!” he snapped. “It’s because of my stupid, stupid brother that this is happening.”
“Okay, okay, I don’t want to fight with you,” I put my hands up quickly. “But we need to find them.”
“Why not?!” I demanded. “Elle is my friend and your girlfriend- I don’t want her to get hurt!”
“And you’re worried about Kyle?”
“Maybe a little, but that doesn’t matter!” I groaned. “He’s a space mage! He’s going to kill her!”
“No. Not kill,” Finn sighed. “But it’ll be bad.”
“The point is,”I sighed, “we need to find them. Why can’t we?”
“Kyle is a space mage,” Finn pointed out. “That means he could have gone almost anywhere with her.”
“But he wouldn’t.”
Finn raised his eyebrows. “And why not?”
“Because that’d drain him too much,” I pointed out. “He might be close. We just need to… you know, fly around and look for them.”
“Easier said than done,” he muttered.
“We’ll just… I don’t know, look for magic,” I shrugged. “But either way, we need to find them before they seriously hurt each other.”
He nodded, gripping the controls tightly, his knuckles practically turning white.
Now, let’s notice that I hadn’t had a chance to talk to Finn alone since we’d first arrived at the Academy. Elle had always been there.
“Hey, I’m sorry for being a jerk to you,” I said embarrassedly.
He glanced up, a slight smile crossing his face. “It’s ok. Don’t worry about it.”
“I’m serious, Finn.”
“And so am I.” He glanced away from the controls for a moment to meet my eyes. “I didn’t mind then, and I don’t mind now. Now let’s go find my brother, and keep him from killing my girlfriend, shall we?”