Leivell was never happy with his heritage. As long as he could remember, he had been at odds with his father and the others on the paternal side of his family. It seemed that he was the only one with Pret genes that wasn't rotten to the core, something he had come to blame his mother for.

He never understood how such a kind, caring woman had fallen in love with Pret Ha Gi Da Fa. His father was a monster, proud as could be of his lineage and just as disappointed with his son. "Four thousand two hundred and eleventh in the Pret line and you act as if you're some child of a dehoused. Where is your pride? Where is your class?" It was a lecture Leivell was only too used to.

But despite all of this, when he questioned his mother about marrying such an evil man, she always looked at him with pity and sadness in her eyes, and tried to explain to him that his father was not a bad man through and through, and that she had fallen in love with him for a reason, and would continue to love him for the rest of her life.

Leivell, however, could not love the man, and it wasn't long before he denounced the Pret name. His mother sent him off to a school in a different cluster, and he began life again on his own, with his new name masking his old life.

He wasn't very talkative, and refused point-blank to speak about his past or his family, but he seemed to have inherited the charm of the Pret line (though he convinced himself it had come from his mother) and it was not long before he'd made himself some friends and was beginning to fit in.

Kifa was a newer friend, but he liked her the best of all, and was always happy to see her, even though she insisted on calling him Gigi most of the time, ever since she'd figured out it was his real name.

Giki, however... Giki was not a friend. He was not a friend of anyone. The closest to friendship he received from any of the other students was tolerance or being politely ignored. Which happened to be the way he liked it. Giki was, as the other students liked to say, a tifi, a term Kifa had explained to have originated from tech-fiend, which seemed to suit the boy pretty well. But he was, at least, not an enemy of Leivell's either.

Leivell was glad for this. Dealing with enemies was prickly business, and he was relying on this going smoothly. He didn't want to cause a scene in the middle of the studyroom, regardless of the session being over.


The young man looked up from what he was doing and straight into Leivell's eyes. He was very clearly unafraid, and Leivell thought he could also be very dashing, if he put his mind to it. It seemed as though whatever blockade it was between Giki and the rest of the students, it had been created by Giki, and apparently by choice.

When Giki did not respond (at least not verbally), Leivell pressed forward. "Do you have a moment? I'd like to talk to you."

Giki closed his portacomp and folded his hands on top of it. "I am very busy right now. Why should I spend my precious time speaking with a Pret?"

Leivell was surprised, but he managed to contain the feeling. "I'm a Pret by blood, not by choice," he said, very quietly. "I'm just interested in what you have to say."

Giki regarded him for a moment, and Leivell felt almost as if his soul was being searched. Finally, he said, "What do you want to hear?"


The End

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