Catching Up: Part Four
"Patricia!" Lianar called, her clear voice cutting across the chatter in the Dark Faerie dormitory.
Heads of dark navy or black hair turned all around the room towards the lone Light Faerie who stood in the doorway. Eyebrows were skeptically raised, and the Dark Faeries whispered and giggled to one another.
Patricia, who sat on a bed that had evidently been dragged out of some sort of storage for her arrival and plopped in the only spot where there was room for it--against the far wall--stood up, reluctantly, and approached Lianar.
"What?" she asked when she was near enough to the Light Faerie for easy conversation.
"Did you find Earth and Fire?" Lianar said without preamble.
Patricia glanced around her dormitory sharply, then stepped out of the room, shutting the door behind her. She leaned against the wood surface and listened to the momentary silence caused by this; then the giggles and whispers surfaced once more.
"Look," Patricia said, raising a dark eyebrow at Lianar, "this won't work."
"What?" Lianar said, innocently.
"You coming here, and telling everyone within earshot that we're forming a group," the Dark Faerie said, rolling her eyes to the ceiling. "And yes, Lianar, I have found Earth and Fire."
Lianar, who had been looking depressed, brightened at this statement. Her wings fluttered eagerly as she asked, "Who?"
"Therisa," Patricia said, "and Emm."
The Light Faerie frowned. "Do I know them?"
"Probably not," the Dark one said with grim humor. "Therisa is one of the Fire Faeries in our class; she's the tall one."
Lianar thought back, and nodded. "Who's Emm?"
"Remember that Earth Faerie who was talking to Ms. Evea about forests?" Patricia asked.
The Light Faerie nodded.
"Well, I asked her, and she's in." The Dark Faerie raised her eyebrows and leaned back against the door, crossing her arms. "What about Air and Water?"
Lianar smiled, brushing a wisp of platinum-blonde hair behind one pointed ear. "I asked Arielle for Air," she said. "And Ms. Evea recommended Lillian to me today, so I'm going to ask her tomorrow at practice."
"Lillian?" Patricia asked.
"She's a Water Faerie," the Light Faerie explained quickly, smiling.
"Yeah, I'd guessed that. Why were you talking to Ms. Evea, anyway?" the Dark Faerie asked after a moment.
"Oh--" To Patricia's surprise, Lianar flushed. "I got detention for being late to math class," she said, glancing down at the floor. "Ms. Evea was in charge of the room."
The Dark Faerie nodded. "So, are we going to talk to her tomorrow after class, then?" she asked.
"If Lillian agrees," Lianar said, brightening.
Patricia hesitated, then said, "Why don't we go talk to her now? Get it over with," she added, faking reluctance.
Lianar smiled, but shook her head. "I have work to do. Tomorrow morning I'll try to catch her before one of her classes."
The Dark Faerie nodded. "Right. Well, see you tomorrow." She disappeared promptly into her dormitory again without giving Lianar a farewell.
The Light Faerie hesitated for a moment, and then walked swiftly away, towards her own dormitory and her homework.
Lianar didn't pay any attention at all in her classes the next morning; she was too caught up in planning out ways to run into Lillian to listen to her teachers. Instead of notes, she doodled the floor plan of Faerie Academy on her notebook, and drew arrows in to represent where she had seen the Water Faerie. She even labeled them with the time.
But Lillian seemed to be better at evading her, even unknowingly, than Lianar was at finding her. The Light Faerie still hadn't located her when the bell clanged for the end of the class she had just before Faerie Cloud Racers.
She knew Lillian was in her class, at least, Lianar thought, and nodded. That would work, then. She set out for the Racing field quickly. If she got there soon enough, maybe she could even ask Lillian before class started.
Lianar got to the Faerie Cloud Racers field in plenty of time, but Lillian wasn't in evidence. Lianar paced back and forth instead of standing with the other Light Faeries.
Patricia watched her, one eyebrow raised. "Lianar."
"Stop shredding up the poor grass by walking all over it. Therisa would have a fit."
"She could heal it," Lianar said absently, but she stopped pacing. "Should we call a meeting?"
Lianar shrugged. "Of all the Faeries we have so far, anyway. I see Therisa over there."
"So do I. That doesn't mean we have to have a meeting." Patricia layered scorn on the last word. "I'll tell her to stay afterward, though. You stay here and watch for Lillian. And don't pace."
Watching Patricia head across the grass toward Therisa, Lianar shook her head and smiled.
Lillian didn't come until just a moment before the bell rang. She walked across the grass to join the other students as Ms. Evea greeted them.
Lianar fidgeted, watching Lillian out of the corner of her eye. She wished class was over so that she could talk to Lillian.
The Light Faerie glanced up quickly. "Yes, Ms. Evea?"
"Would you help me with a demonstration?" the Fire Faerie asked, amusement in her voice. She had been watching Lianar's fidgets.
"I'd be glad to, Ms. Evea." Lianar stepped forward, and then paused. "What sort of demonstration?"
Lianar was the first one in motion when the bell for end of class rang, moving even before Lillian did. She raced over to catch the Water Faerie, tugging on her sleeve as she caught up to her.
Lillian turned and frowned. "Hello?"
"Hi! I'm Lianar," the Light Faerie said. "And you're Lillian. Do you want to join our team?"
Patricia joined them, a faint smile hovering about her lips. "Say please, Lianar. It's polite."
The Water Faerie looked from one to the other, as if not quite believing her ears. "A team," she said at last. "A team for Faerie Cloud Racers?"
"Yep. We needed a Water Faerie for our team and we thought, well, why not Lillian?"
"No." Lillian turned away.
"Good, we can get--" Lianar paused. "No?"
Lillian looked back at them. "How stupid do you think I am? I know Ms. Evea told you to ask me. She's nice and all, but, well, no."
"How about we leave Ms. Evea out of it." Patricia tucked her hands behind her back and raised dark eyebrows at Lillian. "She doesn't matter, not really. It's the team that matters. Us."
"I don't even know half the people," the Water Faerie said wearily. "None of them, actually. Now, can I go? I'll be late for my next class."
The Faerie turned around again at Lianar's call. "What is it now?"
"Will you just try it? Ms. Evea can write you a pass afterwards. And, well, we want you to. If you don't like it, you can leave and we'll ask someone else."
Lillian hesitated, glancing up to the main school building. She sighed.
"All right," she said, "one meeting. You can't hold me to any more than that."
Lianar grinned. "Thanks!"
The Light Faerie darted away to gather up the other members of the team, who had scattered. Lillian shook her head and looked at Patricia.
"Is she always like that?"
"Worse," the Dark Faerie said, swallowing a grin. "Shall we?"
The Water Faerie shrugged and glanced around. "I don't see many other alternatives."
Patricia smiled and led the way.
Ms. Evea watched the girls approach, hiding a smile of her own. Lianar skipped sideways, talking animatedly about something to Arielle. Arielle, who looked as if she was only half listening, stepped and glanced around at the others. Emm strode. Therisa was taller than all of the others, but looked shorter: she skulked, hunching her shoulders to fit in. Lillian fixed her eyes on Evea and looked bored. Patricia, on the other end of the line from Lianar, watched the others and smiled.
They moved so differently, and yet they were already becoming a group. The Fire Faerie could see it: in their posture, in the way they were aware of all the others, of where they were and what they were doing. Yes, she thought, she had made a good choice in having Patricia and Lianar work together. And they had made good choices in who to ask for the rest of the group.
It was odd, Evea thought, how Faeries had a knack for that, sometimes. They could instinctively tell who to ask and who to stay away from--who would break apart the group and who would strengthen it.
They came to a halt, nearly simultaneously, five feet away from Evea. The Faeries stood in a loose half-circle. All of them were watching her now, not just Lillian.
"Good afternoon," Ms. Evea said, bemused. "Welcome. You are the first group in your class. You will be known as Alpha."
Lianar's hand shot up.
"Are we flying today?" the Light Faerie asked.
The Fire Faerie raised her eyebrows.
"No. That won't come for a while. You will continue to learn in class how to fly a Racer and how to pilot it. We don't need to do anything more in this time with that.
"Instead, you will learn how to work as a team. If you set foot in a Racer in this time before the end of the year, I'll be surprised. It takes time to learn your teammates' abilities and shortcomings, and to acknowledge them--not aloud, but inwardly, so that you know when to let them go and when to give them a little extra help."
She paused to scan their faces, and was pleased to see that even Lillian was showing a little interest now.
"Sit down," Evea said, "and we'll get started."
To be continued...