Again with 'Long-haired'. Does he have no imagination whatsoever?

"Um, I'd prefer it if you called me Laura-"

"I'll call you what I want! You embarrassed me in front of the whole college today, why are you here?"

Actually, I'm quite sure it was your own fault you got embarrassed in front of everyone. Best not to say that out loud though...

"Well, actually, I happen to live next-door and I've locked myself out. I wondered if I should go to the porter or the patrol officer to get the emergency key. Ahahah." Awkward laughter shows I'm friendly. I'm being friendly. Friendly?

"Well, that's pretty stupid. Obviously you should go to the porter's lodge."

Thanks. Please, do reciprocate my attempt at getting along with more spite and bile.

"I thought you were smarter than that, actually. Someone like you would already know that it was the porter's lodge. Aren't you just pretending not to know to try to make friends?"

Ohh, well that's interesting. Turns out he's quite sharp.

John leant against his door frame, arms folded. His eyes were stitched with suspicion. He really is quite sharp isn't he. I might've gotten lucky beating him earlier. If he had kept his cool it would probably have been dangerous for me.

"You're quite a deceptive character aren't you. You're totally different from when we fought. Right now you've got that look on your face that's slightly blank and slightly stupid. It pisses me off. When we fought you were completely expressionless, like you could have killed me without blinking. Like a murderer."

Well, isn't that a lovely thing to say to the girl next-door? Smile and be nice, maybe the situation can be salvaged...

"Ahhh, yeah, I've heard I look quite scary when I fight too, but I must have just gotten lucky. I was quite worried you'd beat me which is why I ran..."

"That's bullshit. You weren't lucky and you weren't worried. You weren't even a little worried. You ran because you knew I didn't expect it. You baited me and I bit. From that point on you had me. You even waited for me in a place you knew I'd want to put on a show. You had me dancing to your tune and acting like an idiot right from the start."

Is this even the same guy I beat up earlier? He's acting like a way more dangerous and capable opponent now than I would've imagined at all from how he behaved before.

"I can see how you made it in a year early. You're really a genius of sorts aren't you. Best of all, you hide it to stay under the radar as much as you can. That way you avoid unwanted attention from the professors and supervisors so you can take them unawares when it comes down to the final exams. It might even be more fitting to call you some sort of monster. Where'd you concoct such a devious plan from huh?"

Shit. I might really have to break his arms to keep him quiet. There's no way he should have been able to figure out that much about me. If I can drop him off the bottom of the rankings and have him expelled, he won't be able to expose me. The rumours are already bad enough, if he reveals everything, I'll be targeted by everyone in the whole college, no, the whole uni.

"You're thinking of challenging me right now aren't you? Best not. To be honest, this wasn't all me talking."

So he already discussed it with someone else. If I hurt him now, it'll only look like I was trying to cover up, and that'll be worse. Urgh! He's got me in a corner...

"Relax, noone else knows about your strategy. These are instructions from our tutor. He says we should team up." John glared at the blank space in front of him. Laura was, frankly, flabbergasted.

"He was the one who figured it all out. I'm not happy about it either, but this is what he told me. He says you and I have the best chances of surviving if we stick together. Something about us both drawing bad attention... In any case, he seems to have some sort of plan. We're not to fight each other, and not to challenge anyone until we've consulted with him. He wants to meet with us tomorrow in his office. That was his message."

... I think I underestimated my tutor. He's the one who's the most devious. He's completely inscrutable, idiosyncratic, frenzied, bumbling, idle, and always so weirdly cheerful. Then he comes out with something like that... He's very dangerous. I'm glad he's on my side for now  though.

"So. He wants me to team up with you." Laura didn't really phrase it as a question.

"Didn't I just say so?"

"Well, I was just wanting to confirm. I wondered how this arrangement would be advantageous to me given how embarrassingly inadequate your performance was earlier..."

John made a face like he'd been slapped. Laura was almost beginning to enjoy how easy he was to wind up.

"Now look here, I don't like it any more than you do, if you're not happy with it, let's go, off the record, right here, right now, huh?!"

John took three steps. On the first, his fingers curled into fists, Laura let tension run into her legs, ready to spring at him. On the second he drew his hands up into a guard position, his eyes like dark glass, hard and blazing. He was looking much more dangerous. Laura let a long breath flow in and out of her. He wouldn't fall for the same thing twice. She'd have to take him out properly this time. On the third step, John's door swung shut and locked with a neat snick.

"Shit, my keys! No, oh fuck." John rattled his door handle frantically, battered his door, and generally cast around in a panic. He was a little like a lost dog who didn't know where his stick had gone. It was really quite funny.

"Aha! Ahahah! Ah, you're priceless." Laura leant against the wall of the corridor in fits of giggles.

"Go to hell, long-hair. This is your fucking fault! None of this would've happened if it weren't for you!"

"Excuse, me! It's your fault you're so hysterically easy to wind up, besides, it was you who wanted to have an off-the-record fight in the first place. And for God's sake, stop calling me Long-hair, you sound like an idiot, and my name is Laura!"

"Huh, so even your composure can be broken by something like that. I guess you aren't that different from a regular girl after all, with all that giggling and shouting."

Laura flushed a little.

What's with him, making a comment like that? And he's right, that's the worst thing... Pretty unsightly showing myself like that in front of this guy. And what the hell does he mean 'you aren't that different from a regular girl'- I'm a completely regular girl!

"And for once, the long-haired honour student is lost for words. Well, isn't that refreshing." John smirked a little. He had an infuriating smirk. "Well, nothing for it, I guess we'll head down to the porter's lodge, since we both need the master key now..."

"Hey, you wait for me. And I said don't call me that. And don't go around calling me 'honour student' either, I don't need you advertising that I'm both younger and more talented than the others. It'll make me a target."

"Ohh, haven't you changed your tune? I thought you were a bit of a klutz who 'just got lucky' in your fights? What happened to that miss younger and more talented?" John smirked again. Laura gaped.

God, damn him, he's annoying! I can't believe I'm letting this moron get me flustered!

"Still, it's easier to get on with you this way. At least I know what you're thinking when you're being honest. I much prefer this to your quiet and calculating personality and all those fake faces you put on."

Laura huffed expansively.

"Don't worry, I much prefer you this way than when you're trying to look cool and swagger around like some sort of imbecile with that stupid hairdo." There was more than a little spite in her voice.

"Stupid hairdo?! What do you mean by that, my hair is awesome!"

"Oh yeah, it looks good, but you also look like an arrogant and snarky prick who's asking to get pounded."

"Coming from you! You're the haughtiest seventeen year-old I've ever met! Waltzing around with your I shine brighter attitude."

"I do not have an I shine brighter attitude! At least I'm not stupid enough to pretend I'm better than I am, then publicly humiliate myself!"

"Fuck you!"

"Fuck yourself!"


They proceeded to the porter's lodge and back in silence.

Laura slotted the master key into her door and unlocked it. She tossed the key to John, who caught it cleanly in his left hand and transferred it to his right before opening his own door.

"What time's our meeting with our tutor tomorrow?" Laura's composure was mostly back. She spoke in a low voice with a hint of curt displeasure. Like addressing a particularly ugly frog you'd accidentally trodden on that had ruined your shoes.

They did not look at each other.

"He said around midday, in his office. I'll see you then."

"Tomorrow then."

Laura's pulled her door to.


"What?" She stuck her head back out.

"Goodnight." John ducked into his room and the door shut with a neat snick.

 What's with him...

Laura shut her door, flicked off her lights and went to bed.

The End

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