A Learning Experience: Chapter One, Turn Eight

The afternoon classes pass without incident, and after dismissal the students attending the fencing tryouts assemble in the gym.

The piste, or playing area, has been set up on the gym floor. A center line divides the 14 meter by 1.5 meter piste into equal halves. This halfway point is bracketed by each player's starting line, two meters from the center. A similar warning line lies two meters from the end of the piste. A safety zone, where hits cannot be scored, borders the piste (Maintainer's note -- picture here).

Mr. Ravenscroft and Miss Kapatelis have traded their usual attire for fencing gear white unitards (leotards with the knee-length pants built in), white socks that come up to the ends of the unitard pants, and fencing shoes (Maintainer's note -- picture here). There are four students Valeria, Aidan Ryan, a slim girl with shoulder-length auburn hair held back with a hairband, and the dark-haired male sidhe from the cafeteria at lunch in similar garb currently doing warm-up exercises at one end of the gym; presumably they're members of the team here to help with the tryouts.

Miss Kapatelis claps her hands sharply once. "All right folks, listen up. All of you who are here for tryouts, come over here and give me your name, then sit down in the first four rows of the bleachers. Those of you who are here to watch, please sit behind them, starting with the sixth row up."

Bela takes a seat in the center of the 6th row (or what would be center in relationship to the fencing field). She got out her notebook and doodles in it while watching the team and those hoping to be on the team.

Trevor arrives in the gym in time to hear Miss Kapatelis' announcement. He is still wearing his "normal" school clothes: black sneakers, white socks, kilt and white shirt. Trevor heads toward Miss Kapatelis. If he notices any of his friends, he'll smile and wave to them.

A young girl, her dark russet hair pulled back in a ponytail, makes her way over to Miss Kapatelis just behind Trevor. As she steps up to give her name to the gym teacher, she gasps and colors for an instant, staring open-mouthed at the teacher.

"Kate, sweetie, are you okay?" Miss K. asks, concern evident in her voice.

Kate seems to get control of herself and nods. "Yes, Miss K."

Miss K. nods gravely, writes down something (presumably Kate's name) on her clipboard, and motions to the bleachers. "Okay, if you're sure you're all right, you can go sit down until I call your name."

Nodding, Kate makes her way to sit with the rest of the students trying out.

Niko enters, and looks to see if any of his friends are here yet. Noticing Bela, he goes and sits by her. "Did I miss anything?" He asks, placing his sketch book to his side and then taking out a pencil.

Trevor approach to Miss Kapatelis is derailed when he spots the girl with the dark russet hair. He ends up watching as she speaks to Miss Kapatelis - and as she walks away too. As she reaches the bleachers, Trevor spots Niko and Bela and happily waves to them. The girl apparently forgotten, he turns to Miss Kapatelis. "Hi, I'm Trevor Hamilton and I'd would like to be on the fencing team." He looks at her outfit and adds, "So is that the Fencing Team's uniform?"

Miss Kapatelis takes down Trevor's name and nods, indicating her mundane attire. "Yes, this is what you'll be wearing if you're on the team."

Bela was paying attention to the mortals, and doing rather rough sketches to flesh out latter. In response to Niko she lowered her voice low enough so that he could hear, "That girl just had a reaction to the satyr, like Aidan in English class."

Niko gives a slight nod, "Okay so there are a bunch of kin popping up, but why?" He goes about watching the rest of the students here with interest, looking to see if anyone else reacts.

Emmet dutifully wanders over to Miss K and queues behind any others trying out. He watches "Kate" intently as she reacts to the gym teacher's less-than-modest voile. After taking a moment to appreciate the sway of the girl's backside as she takes her seat, he scans the bleachers for Andromeda. Catching her eye, he gives a meaningful nod in Kate's direction.

Andromeda, for her part, seems puzzled by Emmet's look, and makes a show of miming some charades-like motions back to him. The nocker merely shakes his head and moves forward with the line.

When his turn comes up, he gives his name as "Emerson McDonald. Emmet." and sits behind Kate. Andromeda sits next to him.

"I didn't know Aidan was on the team," she mutters. "I was hoping to have some fun with him."

Emmet takes his iPaq from his vest pocket and taps out his reply, holding the unit so Andromeda can see the screen.

"What - her too?" She shrugs, then moves down to sit next to Kate. Andromeda leans in and whispers, "Are you experienced?" in her ear.

Kate jumps; as some of the mundane students nearby turn to look at her, a look of consternation comes over her face. Swallowing visibly, she sits ramrod straight, her hands clenched tightly into fists in her lap, schooling her face carefully into a neutral expression as she stares straight ahead.

"I've been thinking," Bela whispers to Niko, "There could be several reasons, couldn't there be? Fae blood, enchantment, or do you remember what you chrysalis was like? I thought I was losing my mind when one day I saw my step aunt and thought I was looking at Parvati, then she was just the beautiful sister of my step-father."

Niko shrugs his shoulders, "I was raised in a freehold, it wasn't really anything new to me." He looks at Kate, while speaking, "We're going to have to find some way to prove to them, that they're not crazy, or we might soon have dauntains on our hands and by that point it's really hard to get them back."

At Niko's comment, a girl in a ripped T-shirt with safety-pin earrings turns to look at him from the row directly in front of him and Bela and asks, "The Dauntains? I've never heard of that band before -- are they new?"

"Not that new, and not that good either." Niko gives her a slight smile.

Shrugging, the girl turns back to regard the three students preparing to try out.

By this point, everyone has found seats. A number of the students are chatting animatedly with one another.

"Ladies and gentlemen -- may I have your attention, please?" Mr. Ravenscroft's voice cuts through the chatter like a sword, leaving silence in its wake. The sidhe instructor moves to stand in front of the bleachers, his movements graceful as a tiger stalking prey. "We are nearly ready to begin."

Mr. Ravenscroft gives a short safety lecture and an introduction to the equipment (see link in previous post), then continues, "You will be called in small groups in alphabetical order -- when your name is called, go to the far end of the gym," he gestures, "and the team members will help outfit you. When you are finished outfitting, please form one line near the bleachers. You will be trying out one at a time; either myself or Miss Kapatelis will be your opponent. After the bout, you will be informed of whether or not you have made the team. When you are finished, the team members will help you out of the uniform; then you are to return to your seats. "

Miss Kapatelis calls out, "Kelly Babcock, Lissa Marie Grim, Trevor Hamilton -- you're up!"

Layla scurries up, waving at Trevor and Niko.

Trevor heads to the far end of the gym. Trevor smiles at Layla and Kate, where she sits on the bleachers, and says, "If you're nervous, watch them try and figure out how to get me into one of those unitards. It should be amusing. I don't think those things were designed to be worn over a kilt."

Niko picks up his sketch pad and jots a note down. Before paying attention to Trevor and the team. "I wonder how there going to deal with the kilt thing? " He mumble to himself.

Bela shrugs, "They will manage, how about we each focus on one of them, do you want Aidan or the girl?"

"I'll take Kate," Niko turns his full attention to the young girl, noticing everything he can about her, body language and such.

***

As Trevor reaches the four team members, the dark-haired sidhe looks him over appreciatively. "Aidan, I'll take care of this one, okay?" he asks in a smooth, rich voice. He offers Trevor a hand with a friendly smile that reveals his even, white teeth. "I'm Julian Montgomery. You're Trevor, right?"

Meanwhile, Valeria comes over to Layla as the auburn-haired girl approaches Kelly.

Trevor takes Julian's hand and smiles back. "Right, I am. Nice to meet you." Trevor releases Julian's hand. "So what now?"

Julian looks at Trevor's attire, his gaze lingering a little on the other youth's (mostly) bare legs. "Well, we go into the locker room and find you a uniform that fits. Come on." With a smile, he leads Trevor toward the boys' locker room.

In the meantime, Valeria and the other girl confer a little with Layla and Kelly, then lead them to the girls' locker room.

As Trevor goes off with Julian, he waves to his friends on the bleachers.

***

After a short while, the members of the fencing team return with the hopefuls; the three students trying out are now garbed in white unitards identical to the team members'. They have also been given foils and fencing masks.

Miss Kapatelis and Mr. Ravenscroft guide the hopefuls into one line -- Kelly first, then Layla, and finally Trevor.

***

Emmet gives Andromeda a wink then leans toward Kate and says, "I said, 'Do you have much experience with fencing?'"

Relaxing visibly, Kate turns toward Emmet and says softly, "A little; I took some lessons in junior high."

"You seem a little jumpy. Is everything OK?"

Kate swallows hard, a little shudder going through her. "It's...it's nothing." She seems to be trying desperately to sound convincing, but the attempt falls flat. "It's probably just nerves, that's all," she says, apparently attempting to convince herself as much as Emmet of the veracity of that statement.

***

Bela settles in to watch Aidan. Watching body language, listening to what is said. And looking for any trace of glamour.

She watches him quietly, her expression getting more and more pleased until she is smiling like summer sunshine. She reaches over to tug on Niko's sleeve, "He's got glamour, and something with it." Her voice is a forced whisper.

"That's a good thing." Niko keeps his voice low so only she can hear, "I can't tell with Kate, She's really nervous and she reacted to Andromeda or so it looked like. Well we know she can see chimera."

"We still don't know enough, I wonder if Trevor could look more closely when the change out of the uniform. Or you if you could go into the locker room." Bela's voice drifts off in thought.

"I'll try," Niko looks thoughtful for a moment, before he goes back to observing Kate.

***

Meanwhile, on the gym floor, Miss Kapatelis dons her mask, advising the girl Kelly to do the same. Mr. Ravenscroft moves over to stand a little bit away from the piste. His voice rings out, carrying to all corners of the gym.

"Fencers, salute your opponent!"

Miss Kapatelis faces Kelly, her foil held straight up, its tip pointing toward the ceiling. After a moment, the girl does the same.

Mr. Ravenscroft waits a few seconds, then raps out, "Begin!"

The match is short, but Kelly makes a credible showing of herself even though Miss K. wins the match. The gym teacher pulls off her mask and gives the girl a smile. "Very good, Kelly." She waits until Kelly moves off the piste and is taken in hand by Valeria, then takes up a position at the end of the piste again and calls, "Lissa Marie -- you're up!"

Layla goes up, and does her level best.

Layla's best is apparently not a match for Miss K's expertise, but the gym teacher nevertheless congratulates her on her performance.

Mr. Ravenscroft steps up to the piste, allowing Miss K to step back and retrieve her clipboard. He slips on his mask and beckons to Trevor. "Mr. Hamilton -- it's your turn."

Trevor dons his mask and walks over to the match area. It's hard to tell much with the mask on, but his stride at least reveals no trace of nervousness. Trevor stands in the appropriate spot, waiting to salute his opponent and begin the match.

"Fencers, salute your opponent!" Miss Kapatelis calls out.

Mr. Ravenscroft salutes with practiced ease; once Trevor does the same, the girls' gym teacher calls out, "Begin!"

Trevor does rather well for performing against the fencing coach, though he ends up outmatched by the Scathach knight's flashing blade.

"Very nice, Mr. Hamilton," Mr. Ravenscroft says as he nods to Trevor to leave the piste.

Trevor salutes the bleachers where his friends are before taking off his mask. Looking rather happy, he heads for the locker room, as per Mr Ravenscroft's earlier instructions.

***

Miss Kapatelis consults her clipboard and calls out, "Emmet McDonald, Lydia Mordrid, and Kate Richardson!"

A bespectacled girl with long dark hair worn in two braids trots over to where the members of the fencing team stand, pushing her glasses back up along the way.

At the sound of her name, Kate gets up and makes her way to the far end of the gym. She hangs back a little, almost as if she's afraid to approach the members of the fencing team.

Emmet follows Kate closely. He leans close to her as she balks.

"You don't have to be afraid, you know," he says softly, his voice pitched so only she can hear. "We don't bite."

He flashes her a grin and watches her face intently for any sign that she sees the sharp, vaguely metallic teeth of his faerie mien.

Kate takes a deep breath, sets her finely-formed jaw, and moves a little closer to the fencing team.

Noticing her hesitation, Valeria beckons her a little closer, smiling. "Hi -- Kate, right? I'm Valerie." She sticks out a hand; after a moment, Kate takes it, giving Val a shy smile. Her voice is soft. "Yes, I'm Kate." As if that's about all she's up to, she bites at her lower lip and says nothing more.

"Hey, Susan," Val says to the auburn-haired girl beside her, "Do you want to help Lydia while I help Kate here?"

"Sure," Susan says affably, leading Lydia toward the girls' locker room. After flashing a quick smile at Emmet, Val does the same with Kate.

Aidan watches the girls go off, and turns to Emmet. "Hi. I'm Aidan." He pauses. "Come on; I'll help you out with the uniform." He motions toward the boys' locker room.

Emmet allows himself a short laugh at Kate's discomfort, then follows Aidan to the locker room to change.

"You seem familiar, Aidan. Aren't you in my English class?"

Aidan grins as he and Emmet move off to the locker room. "Uh-huh. Period 3, right?"

***

Niko picks up his sketchbook and continues the picture, seeing that he is unable to watch anyone further.

Bela pauses for a moment then leans into Niko to whisper, "Switch. I'll study Kate."

***

Bela returns from the girl's locker room and sits back down next to Niko, "There is most definitely something about Kate. I think I'll see if I can talk to her after tryouts."

***

The next group of fencers returns in uniform, and Miss Kapatelis gestures them into a line near the piste. "Emmet, would you care to go first?" she asks.

"Sure," he says as he steps onto the piste and takes a few experimental swipes with the foil, looking for the balance in the weapon as he warms up with a few lunges. It's obvious that he's not new to the sport, though practiced eyes can see room for improvement in his form.

After a few moments he favors the regulars with his best teeth-showing grin. To Faerie sight, the light glints from his sharp, even teeth; the overall effect is vaguely unnerving.

"Who's the pin cushion?" he asks lightly.

"That would be me, Mr. McDonald," Mr. Ravenscroft says drily, with the barest hint of a smile as he steps onto the piste, his foil held with practiced ease. He dons his mask; a little bit later, Miss Kapatelis calls out, "Begin!"

Emmet raises an eyebrow as the knight takes to the piste. "Shit," he swears simply as he lowers his mask. "Shit shit shit." He seems to draw a little courage from his mantra as he takes a ready stance.

At Miss K's signal, he remains defensive, analyzing Ravenscroft's style and deflecting the knight's attacks as best as he can.

Emmet performs well, deflecting a number of the Scathach knight's attacks and even scoring a hit near the end of the match.

After Miss K calls a halt to the match, Mr. Ravenscroft inclines his head courteously to Emmet. "Good match, Mr. McDonald."

Valeria smiles and claps a little for each of her friends trying out for the team.

Lydia Mordrid doesn't perform too badly against Miss K when her turn comes to try out, and accepts Susan's good-natured congratulations as she goes off to change.

"Kate, it's your turn," says Miss K as Mr. Ravenscroft takes a place on the piste.

After a few feints, Kate performs very well -- in fact, she's one of the better students trying out this afternoon.

When Miss K calls a halt to the match, Mr. Ravenscroft comes over to shake Kate's hand. "Very nice, Miss Richardson," he says with a slight smile.

Kate beams under the teacher's praise, the expression transforming her face from its normal quiet prettiness into something extraordinary. "Th-thank you, Mr. Ravenscroft." She seems to be lost in a haze of happiness as she goes off with Val to change.

***

Bela smiles as she watches the candidates, clapping for each, but not loudly as she is sitting near Niko.

***

Trevor eventually reemerges form the locker room. He asks Miss K, "Can I go sit with my friends, or should I wait here?"

Miss K smiles at the charming youth. "Sure, you can go sit with your friends. You'll have to stay after for about a half-hour if you make the team, though, so don't leave just yet."

Trevor gives her a smile back. "Thanks. And I don't mind staying late." Trevor heads over to Niko and Bela, not quite running. He bounds up the bleachers at a reckless pace and plops down next to next to Niko. He gives Niko a big hug and blows a kiss to Bela. "Did I miss anything? How did Layla and Emmet do?"

Layla skitters upclose behind Trevor and hops onto the bleachers next to Trevor after giving each one a hug (Yes bela to). She looks very energtic and keeps running her hands over the fishnets on her arms and playing with the slits in her skirt.

"so what do we do now?"

Trevor watches her hands. "If we don't care about finding out who made the team, I've go some ideas,' he says, his eyes trapped by her fishnets. "You wouldn't mind if i felt those, would you?"

Layla kinda blushes but nods yes quickly and offers her arm to trevor,

"Umm, I umm... Why not?"

Trevor runs his hand over her arm. "That's so neat. I've never felt anything like it." He looks wide eyed and innocent.

Layla blushes and seems to get a bit flustered, anyone watching would see an obvious reaction to his (seemingly innocent) touch, se makes an attempt to look at his eyes

"ishingnets are comfy... and..."

she quite obviously can not take it anymore and even Trevor notices the shiver as she slowly draws her arm back towards her

Niko looks up at the scene and bursts out laughing, for apparently no reason, and drops his sketchbook. Still chuckling slightly he returns Trevor's hug and then hugs the scared looking Layla. "He's a teddy bear, I promise," Niko whispers into her ear.

Layla becomes even paler if possible, (she is already usually pale skinned)

Trevor looks distressed. "It's okay, I'm not going to do anything you don't want. If your not going to have fun, I'm not going to either, and then what's the point?"

Niko smiles at this at picks up his fallen book. "It's either fun for all, or fun for none."

Layla blushes.

"Its not that... Its... I'm just...I...Merowl!"

She seems temporarily defeated by her inability to talk then hops up quickly and gives both boys a quick peck on the lips and sits back in her seat like nothing happened (assuming they don't do anything)

"So what were your ideas?"

She gives them a Big Smile.

Niko at this point starts spouting nonsense, "huh and what and who, and oh hi Bella. "

Trevor grins at Layla "Well you just did one of them, though I was thinking of something longer." Trevor looks at Niko, glances at Bela, then looks at Layla. "And the other ones are even more fun."

Layla blushes and smiles sweetly, Niko would be able (barely) to hear her saying under her breath, (she forgot sluagh ears)

"if you wanted to head to my store we could see now couldn't we? but there's no way that they're really interested now is there? stop fooling yourself Lissa dear"

Niko moves in front of her and gently cups her chin so that he is looking her straight in the eyes. "I'm interested," He whispers softly before laying a light kiss on her lips.

Niko sees her brilliant purple eyes staring right back into his

"You heard me?"

She turns to Trevor.

"What about you?"

Trevor kisses Layla on the lips, with much less restraint than Niko.

Niko murmurs to himself, a smile playing upon his lips, "well that answered that question."

Trevor turns around and kisses Niko on the lips

Niko jumps slightly, but slowly parts his mouth allowing Trevor access if he wishes.

Trevor cannot resist the invitation...

Layla tugs on both their sleeves and leads them both off the bleachers...

Trevor has just enough presence of mind to say to Bela as they leave, "Could you tell them an emergency came up and we had to leave? Thanks!"

Niko follows like an obedient puppy and waves bye to bella before leaving.

Trevor adds to Bela as he leaves, "Layla and Niko need to come too - They're getting a ride with me. And if they can't find a Gwydion I can get a note from my Dad."

As the three make their way to the gym door, Miss K moves over to intercept them. "Hey, hang on a sec," she says. "Lissa and Trevor, don't you want to know if you made the team or not?"

Trevor looks from Miss K to Layla, distress apparent on his face. "Um..." he says looking at Layla, apparently unsure what to say.

Bela follows along the flow of conversation quietly, as Ms. K. interrupts the exit. "Guys, this all sounds fun, but well, don't you want to know what strange things those of us on watch duty saw?" Her voice is pitched so that her friends could hear.

"Of course not, its not like we can't continue this in a little while right.? just caught in a non moment, or a quasi moment, or something nothing of the sort."

Layla pauses for a moment

"Afterward then?"

She looks to both of the boys for a reassurance

Trevor reaches over to give Layla's hand a gentle squeeze. "Of course." He gives her a (hopefully) reassuring smile.

Niko smile, "Sure."

***

Emmet returns Sir Dariun's nod with a small bow of his own. "Thank you, Mi - ah, Mr. Ravenscroft," he says and heads to the locker room to change.

He returns in short order, and watches Kate's match from near the locker room before taking his seat next to Andromeda in the bleachers.

She greets him with a megawatt smile. "Not a bad match - for a scrawny computer geek against a veteran Scathach knight," she says, kissing him lightly on his cheek. "You did good."

"Let's not go overboard. Ravenscroft was holding back - and holding back a lot. My form was a mess compared to the others we've seen, Kate's especially."

Andromeda looks toward the girls' locker room, then back at Emmet. "Her form is divine... oh! You meant how she fenced," she teases.

Emmet gives a short guffaw in spite of himself, then turns serious. "Aidan is wearing something potent around his neck. That, or he's got a talisman of some sort embedded in his chest. Go tell the Swing Club over there to quit thinking about bumping uglies and stay focused. We're gonna have to talk when this lets out."

The redhead heaves a large, and obviously fake, sigh. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," she taunts, then leaves.

***

Once all the hopefuls have returned to the gym, Mr. Ravenscroft calls out, "Your attention please, ladies and gentlemen!" His voice carries to all corners of the gym.

"The following students have made the team -- Trevor Hamilton, Emmet McDonald, Lydia Mordrid, and Kate Richardson. Kelly Babcock and Lissa Marie Grim are alternates. If your name has been called, please remain in the gym for a few minutes while Miss Kapatelis and I tell you what is required of you." He pauses. "The rest of you are free to go."

Trevor's gaze remains fixed in the direction of the announcement and his lips move slightly. Then he whirls around and gives all of his friends nearby an exuberant hug.

***

Once all the new members of the fencing team are paying attention, Mr. Ravenscroft begins.

"Fencing practice is for two hours after school on Wednesdays here in the gym. Miss Kapatelis and I would like the new members to come here at two forty-five this Wednesday -- the day after tomorrow -- for uniform fittings and distribution of equipment. We will also have some forms for you and your parents to fill out.

"The first regular practice will be next Wednesday, September 18, from two forty-five until four forty-five." He pauses to make sure the regular members of the team are listening; satisfied that they are, he continues.

"Competitions are about every other month from September or October until the end of May; we will inform you of the date of the next competition at practice on the 18th.

"Alternates will attend practice, but will only compete in the event a regular team member is unable to do so." He pauses. "All of you also have the option to schedule an impromptu practice session with myself or Miss Kapatelis, should you wish for some extra practice."

He looks at the group of new team members. "Are there any questions before we adjourn?"

***

Andromeda stands off to one side, her back to the gymnasium wall, watching Trevor's celebratory dance with bemusement. When his excitement subsides a little, she moves closer to the group.

"Congrats, Skirtboy," she says with a smile. "I'm looking forward to seeing how you handle your sabre..." She holds Trevor's gaze for a long moment before turning to Niko and Bela. "Emmet would like to compare notes with you two once we're dismissed."

Trevor smiles back at Andromeda, happily caught in her gaze. "I'd...I'd be happy to show you anything you want..." he says hesitantly - perhaps even shyly.

Bela smiles at Andromeda, "I would like to. where?"

The redhead shrugs.

"Didn't say. I figured we'd all gather in a corner somewhere..."

Bela nods still thinking, "Meet you outside room 107?"

***

Once all the questions have been answered, Mr. Ravenscroft gives a brief, clipped nod to Miss K.

"Thank you all for coming -- we'll see the new team members after school on Wednesday." He pauses to take a look at the established members of the team, who've traded their uniforms for street clothes in the meantime, "Aidan, Julian, Susan, Valerie -- you're free to go, too."

The students file out of the gym singly or in small groups, some of them chatting with each other about various subjects.

Valeria waves goodbye to her teammates and joins the rest of the group. She smiles at Emmet, Trevor and Layla, flashing a thumbs-up. "You did good!" she enthuses.

Val's enthusiasm causes Trevor to grin at her. "Thanks!" he says enthusiastically - but quietly enough not to upset Niko's sensitive ears. "We all did!


Time: 3:40 pm, Monday, September 9, 2002
Current weather: Partly cloudy. Expected weather: Partly cloudy
This web site copyright 2000 by Midori Hirtzel-Church.
This page first posted -- March 3, 2003
This page last revised -- April 11, 2003

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