A long table awaited them as they walked into the dining room in a perfect line of synchronized steps. She was standing beside the head of the table, as tall and menacing as usual, her long blonde hair pulled back into a perfect ponytail, with no single strand of hair daring to misplace itself.
Yves was the first to step into the room. She had an aura of confidence and elegance around her, always looking ahead with pristine posture. She was Her favourite. Not because she was more obedient than the rest, quite the contrary: her free-thinking mind lent her a lot more insight on their endless studies, and she was always ahead of the curve when it came to Sheaspearian or Homeric literature. She was smart and witty, but also poised and controlled — the perfect pupil.
She was followed by Chuu, a small girl whose eyes were forever fixed on Yves. She wasn’t as bright intellectually, but she was very bright nonetheless. She had difficulty getting her smile to fade to look poised, and her tiny body was always overflowing with energy, which led to a lot more trouble concentrating and even standing still. She wished she could be more like Yves, but then again she also wished they could be closer again. It had always calmed her down to have Yves hold her hand under the table. The days when they were close, though, were long gone.
Next was Go Won. She had jet black hair and a timid expression at all times, her small movements barely keeping up with everyone else. She was smart, sure, but she was also too shy to flaunt it, leading to a lot of humiliating instances of forced public speaking that only made her fears and smallness worse. Maybe one day she would disappear altogether, and She wouldn’t be able to pick apart her poor posture and her less-than-ideal confidence. Until then, she just tried to lay low and be obedient. Obedience was always key, and she was a master at it. Never do anything that She hasn’t specifically said. Maybe one day, it would be enough.
Last in line was Olivia Hye. Olivia was the youngest, although younger than Go Won by not that much time, and also the most contradictory of the bunch. She was the most rebellious in ideal, the most resistant to the studies and the elegant lifestyle of perfection obsession they were forced to lead, but in action, she was the most docile, never being mentally strong enough to stand up. Instead she preferred to just stand down and rebel in details and touches, always careful to stay in line just enough to be immune to scrutiny.
They stopped walking as soon as each of them reached their assigned place at the table, stopping just beside the chair. Yves sat to the right of the Doctor, which is how they referred to the tall woman — not by name, but by title. Then, beside her, would sit Chuu. To the right of the Doctor sat Olivia Hye, and beside her Go Won. There was an order to this, as Olivia and Yves were by far the most intelligent of them, both naturally, although it showed in very differing ways. They were competing at all times. There were certain privileges to being top of the class, and none of them were stupid enough to let that pass without fighting for it.
— Sit. — Said the Doctor, pulling her own chair while the girls did the same in unisson, sitting in front of their own already made plate.
Yves starred at Olivia, her eyes filled with rage being met with equal hatred. Go Won observed from the side, lamenting what they had become. There was a time, long gone by now, when they were all close friends, inseparable even by stupid contests and privileges thrown at them by the Doctor. Then, when Chuu’s head would always be by Yves’ shoulder and their fingers would always be intertwined, when herself and Olivia would tease them about it constantly. They were everything each other had. None of them knew what lied after the gates of the academy where they were raised since creation, and they were fine with that. They could face the Doctor’s cold heart by keeping each other warm.
But then Yves got bored. She was the first one to change. At first, she moved away from Chuu, and their affections were less and less common. Their unbreakable bond got thinner and thinner until there was nothing but Chuu’s look of admiration left. Yves started to treat her as a nuisance, the high and bright energy she exuded suddenly turning annoying instead of cute, leaving behind just a second guessing mess.
Then she disappeared for a couple of months, and so did Olivia. And so did the fifth of them, the one they didn’t talk about anymore — although this last one never returned. She escaped their cold world, maybe. It was hard to be sure at that point. Yves and Olivia were chased down by the Doctor and brought back forcefully, and then they weren’t seen for another two months, stuck in solitary confinement while Go Won and Chuu tried to keep it together.
When their friends were back, everything had changed. Yves and Olivia hated each other’s guts and were always ready to fight (which would be disastrous. Yves and Olivia were stronger and taller than the other two, and they’d probably be in solitary confinement for another four months if the Doctor had to separate them). Go Won had this somber sensation that something far more sinister than just a fight had happened, that maybe one of them had done or caused something terrible. That the fifth girl was maybe dead.
It was too sinister to think about it, though.
— Eat. — Said the Doctor, and in perfect synchrony, they grabbed their forks.