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Once again. A nucleoside is formed by attaching a.. a.. nucleobase to an.. um.. deoxyribose ring. Whatever that is. And a nucleotide is a..

Kate looked up, concentration broken, and frowned.

Again? It’s been half an hour already, how much longer..?

She turned back to her screen, scrolling back through some text to try and re-find her place.

So you get nucleotides from eating, and also through the function of the liver. This ties in with them providing energy, wait it’s.. yes, chemical energy through the cell. So these functions are oh My Lord..

Kate looked around her desk, trying to find her headphones so she could listen to some music or literally anything else, but they were not anywhere to be seen. Her desk was half buried under a whole load of sketches she had made, including one she was currently working hard on of a girl posing next to a wall, who looked suspiciously like a certain someone from across the way, not that Kate would ever admit to it.

Ugh, come on Kate, let’s concentrate. I have to try and get my head around this. So: nucleotides provide energy to help the function of a cell. Such functions include things like amino oh I can’t, I just can’t.

Kate stood up feeling a little vexed, sorely tempted to raise her voice and let her displeasure be known; but she kept her temper in check and instead decided to try a more diplomatic solution. She left her room and stood awkwardly in the corridor, trying to summon the courage to go knock on the door but fearing the terrible consequences she could face. She went to take a step forward, but her courage failed her; legs turning to jelly as the dread portal ahead seemed to loom larger and larger.

The sound of a door opening behind her offered her some welcome distraction, and she turned to see Taylor marching quickly towards her. Kate gave her a friendly wave – they’d become, if not firm friends, then definitely more than just casual acquaintances.

“Oh hi Taylor, how are you? I thought you’d be out at this time on a Fr-” Taylor ignored Kate and marched right up beside her, glaring at the door.

“YES YOU ARE HAVING SEX WELL DONE WE DON’T ALL NEED TO KNOW THOUGH!” she yelled, causing Kate to reflexively cringe. There was a sudden silence, and Kate saw another door open behind her as Dana poked her head out to see what was happening. Taylor looked at Kate with a big grin on her face as if to say ‘See? That’s how you do it!’; which swiftly vanished when they saw Victoria’s door open, followed by her bare shoulders and a face that poured pure destructive energy down the corridor at them. Kate felt like she was being blown backwards by a sudden icy wind, goose bumps appearing on her skin despite the heating being on full blast within the dorms.

“Taylor..” growled Victoria in a voice that sent shivers down Kate’s spine and caused funny feelings in her stomach. Taylor looked at Kate with a panicked look on her face before grabbing her arm and dragging them both into the safety of Dana's room, who quickly closed the door. All three looked at each other before bursting into nervous laughter; Kate feeling quite excited at what was going on. It was all so ridiculous and silly and fun, and she realised that she was genuinely happy – doing silly things with people she could definitely call her friends (at the least); it was like how she had imagined going to this school should have been all along.

“I can’t believe you said that,” she gasped, mortified. Taylor shrugged nonchalantly, while leaning against the door.

“Well it had to be said; it’s been going on for long enough tonight and I don’t need a reminder of how I can’t get some right now with the person I want too,” she said huffily, before looking at Kate’s reddening cheeks. “Sorry, don’t mean too.. well, you know. Anyway, you heard it. Everyone heard it.” Kate was feeling a little embarrassed, although not at the thing Taylor thought she might be – the idea of having sex with someone she cared about was beginning to gradually edge into Kate’s consciousness, much to her confusion. All of her life she had been told how bad it was, how wrong it was, how anyone who even contemplated it was going to be confined to the depths of the fiery pits of hell and damned forever; yet she couldn't see why now, why someone like Max would be punished so, when she couldn't see what harm it did to her or anyone else? And the aspect of it she should condemn in particular – no, what she was supposed to condemn – was something that she was beginning to maybe want to experience for herself.

This was all, of course, not helped by the examples of such things she had been hearing through thin walls of late; what made it worse right now was the particular person who occupied those thoughts about currently being within touching distance. Kate was terrified that somehow this fact showed on her face whenever someone talked about these things, and she quickly avoided Taylor’s gaze, looking down at the floor.

“Well you can’t hide here,” Dana said with obvious amusement. “If Victoria comes knocking then you’re on your own; me and Kate aren’t hiding fugitives.” Kate chanced a glance at Dana, who had a very amused look on her face a she spoke to Taylor and then winked at Kate, making her blush even more. Taylor protested her innocence, before pointing a calculating finger at them both.

“It’s too late anyway, you are both now complicit! There’s no escape from her for you either!” Kate looked between the two girls, suddenly feeling a little worried – she didn’t relish the prospect of facing an angry Victoria, even if it was likely to be just bluster.

I’m pretty sure it would only be pretend; she’s not really like that.

I think.

Some primeval part of Kate’s brain seemed to conjure up an image of a Victoria striding towards her, face hard, cold and cruel; a feeling that she was horribly dangerous as she came seeking vengeance, and it all seemed so horrifically real that she shivered slightly; before scolding herself for even thinking of such a thing - but that very thought had managed to unsettle her a little.

“Well should we not try to escape? Won’t she come and find us, hunt us down and.. and..” Kate looked around, feeling a little panicked as if expecting Victoria to suddenly materialise right then and there, until she felt a gentle hand on her arm.

“No need to panic, Kate,” Dana said, “I mean what’s the worst that can happen?”

“Well,” began Taylor, “she could -”

“How about we all go somewhere,” said Dana brightly, interrupting Taylor before Kate got even more anxious. “It is a Friday night after all, no need to be cooped up like this.” That sounded like a great idea to Kate and she nodded eagerly.

“Yes! That sounds lovely! I'll get my coat and things, one second!” Kate quickly walked to the door, oblivious of the sly look Taylor gave Dana, which caused her to give Taylor the finger along with a scowl.


Kate wasted no time in grabbing her jacket, bag and cell from her room, taking a moment to briefly check herself in the mirror – something that would not have even crossed her mind to do a few months ago – before stepping back out into the corridor and heading towards Dana's room. Dana was halfway through tying her hair back with a hairband in her mouth when Kate looked in, and Kate found herself just quietly watching Dana get ready. Dana looked at her and smiled, and Kate felt a familiar warm fuzzy feeling go through her stomach.

“One sec,” Dana said, tugging her hair tight before looking around for a suitable jacket. Kate heard Taylor's door close and she looked over to see her approach, wrapped up in an oversized jacket and white woollen hat, blond hair tumbling loosely down across her shoulders.

“You girls ready?” she asked, before looking Kate up and down. “We really need to get you a new jacket, Kate, that one looks like you've had it since junior school.” Kate looked down at her plain, navy blue winter coat and frowned.

I have had it for a while, but what's wrong with it? It's sensible and plain and..

.. boring. Dull. Suitable. Oh so suitable, so appropriate.

 “I.. I think I might take you up on that, Taylor,” she said, apparently to Taylor's surprise. “I have had it a while, might be time for a change. Something new.”

“Oh, great. Cool. Well, let me know when.” Taylor looked at Kate for a moment, as if thinking of something, before looking into Dana's room. “You ready?”

“Yep.” Dana came out, shrugging into a thick sports jacket and pulled her door closed, before turning to look at the girls. “So, where -”

TAYLOR!” Kate jumped in shock at the sound, heart leaping into her mouth. She found her head forcing itself to turn and look down the corridor – there, standing in the middle dressed in something white, tight and silky was Victoria; pointing a finger down the corridor at them all, seemingly shimmering in the light, eyes bright and piercing; Kate found her brain shutting down as she looked at her, eyes fixated on the unearthly vision in front of her that made every single nerve in her body tingle with a fission of excitement and fear.

“Oh shit! Run!” Kate felt a hand grab hers and drag her away; the spell was broken and the three of them fell in a spate of giggles and tangle of limbs through the doors and down the stairs.


They had decided that the best place to go was an ice cream parlour down near the waterfront which was open until late. Kate had never been there before, and she was eagerly looking forward to it – they apparently also supplied coffee and teas amongst other things, and she made a mental note to maybe go there with Max one time. She suspected that Taylor (and maybe, probably, Dana) would have liked to have gone somewhere livelier and probably more illegal; but she was glad that they had not even suggested it as she didn’t want to disappoint them by refusing.

Kate settled for her usual couple of scoops of vanilla although she added some strawberry sauce and sprinkles as an impulse at the last moment, having had a sudden desire to try something a little bit more daring. Taylor had settled for what looked like a simple mint chocolate concoction, while Dana had some enormous multi-coloured monstrosity that would have made Max proud.

The three of sat comfortably at a table, idly talking whilst enjoying their respective ice creams. Kate found herself glancing from girl to girl, as if confirming to herself that she was actually here on equal terms with two of the most popular (and attractive, a little voice said in the back of her head) girls in school.

“So, um, Taylor,” she said, “I’d have thought you’d be out doing something else on a Friday, not um.. you know..” She waved her hand vaguely around the parlour. Taylor paused eating her ice cream, spoon held halfway up to her mouth.

“Are you saying I wouldn’t enjoy a place like this normally?” Taylor said, but it was in a good-natured tone. “I do like me some ice cream. But yes, I should have been doing something with V tonight, but.. well, she was clearly busy, and now I have to plan so I can change my identity and start a new life.” Kate covered her mouth to hide a giggle, as Taylor turned to look at Dana.

“Didn’t expect you to be in either though, Dana. I thought you cheerleaders had a big social thing on a Friday.” Dana suddenly found a lot of sudden interest in her ice cream, taking her time to ensure that an errant globule was contained before being consumed.

“Yes, that’s true, but I didn’t feel like it tonight,” she said carefully. “I was quite happy to just hang around with.. with whoever was about tonight.”

“Oh, like Kate?” asked Taylor innocently, turning her gaze onto Kate who found she was suddenly very nervous about the answer Dana might give, as if it was really important in that moment for some reason she couldn’t fathom, eyes flicking between her ice cream and Dana.

“Well obviously. I mean who wouldn’t?” Dana replied, looking right at Kate who suddenly felt like her heart might explode. Kate managed to hold her gaze and even managed a smile, which Dana returned in full. Taylor glanced between the pair with an enormous grin on her face which Kate finally noticed, finding herself going red as she gained an inkling of what Taylor had been insinuating.

“Um.. I.. Taylor, have you found a university yet?” Kate said quickly, desperately trying to change the subject and stop any further probing into areas that she was not ready to go yet. “I mean have you made up your mind where you want to go? Assuming you do, of course.”

“Oh.” Taylor's grin vanished and she became much more meditative, looking thoughtfully at her dwindling pile of ice cream. “Yeah, I have actually. I've been thinking about applying to Medical School. Well, that's not true, I have already applied to some.” Kate blinked in surprise, visibly impressed – she had heard how hard it was to get into those sorts of places and would never have guessed that Taylor would apply.

“Goodness Taylor, that's amazing!” she said. “Where are you thinking of going? Have you had any responses from them?”

“One or two, so.. I think it looks OK.” She paused, as if debating something with herself. “Like, I got a reply from UCLA, which I'm pretty happy about.”

“UCLA?” said Dana with a low whistle. “That's really impressive, Taylor. Isn't it like one of the best places in the country for medicine?” Taylor shrugged noncommittally, concentrating instead on her ice cream.

“I guess. I mean.. I.. you know me, I just hang around and stuff. Party girl, that’s me.” Kate exchanged a glance with Dana, trying to work out why Taylor was suddenly acting a little strange.

Shouldn't she be proud of getting into such a place? I would be if I had got such an offer from UCLA or anywhere else!

“I guess UCLA would make it handy to see Steph” Dana remarked, “so that's a bonus.” Taylor looked at Dana guardedly, and Kate wondered if there was a whole load of subtext happening that she was missing out on.

“Yes.. I.. hadn't even thought about that really.. Lucky they replied to me, I guess..”

“And lucky you applied in the first place, isn't it?” Dana said, licking her spoon in a manner that Kate found terribly distracting.

“Well what about you two? Where have you both been looking?” Taylor shot back, looking a little annoyed to Kate although she couldn't work out why; so she thought she'd try and defuse whatever was happening by answering herself.

“I've been looking at some mainly art-based courses to help develop my drawing, and maybe with some writing too. At the moment it's mainly the north-east, like Chicago. I've had a promising response from them, and so has -”

“I've been thinking of some form of sports therapy or physiotherapy,” Dana said, talking over her. “I was thinking of maybe eventually getting onto some franchise as one. It’s not like I’m going to really make it as a cheerleader, nor do I particularly want too.” Taylor looked at them both, before settling her gaze on Kate with what she thought seemed to be a knowing smile, as if she had had something confirmed to her. As she went to reply her cell rang, and she looked down at the screen.

“Oh, shit, it’s Victoria,” Taylor said. “What do I do?”

“Um maybe answer it?” Kate said, to which Taylor looked at her as if see was crazy and instead just cancelled the call. It immediately rang again, and Taylor scrambled to turn her cell off before looking defiantly at them both.

“What? She’ll have calmed down by tomorrow and forgotten, so.. it’ll all be good. All good.” Kate found Taylor’s reaction quite amusing until she remembered that she was still slightly afraid of Victoria, even though she rationally knew that it was a silly thing to still be so – Taylor’s reaction was clearly not one that was serious, and she had been around Victoria enough now herself to know that underneath everything was an unexpectedly good person.

Although I shouldn’t think unexpectedly, should I? Everyone has decency within them, as God would –

Her thoughts were interrupted by her cell ringing this time.

“Oh hi Max, how are you? What's up?”

'Hey Kate – I'm fine, just relaxing with Victoria. Um, just out of interest where are you guys? I heard you'd gone out with Dana and everyone.'

“Heard? Who from? Yes, I'm out with Dana and Taylor. We're having ice cream. It's very nice.”

'Oh that sounds great! Victoria told me she had seen you, that's all. Would you mind if we tagged along? We've got nothing else planned tonight.'

“Of course! We're at -” She covered the mouth of the phone and looked at Dana questioningly. “We're at Cream of Arcadia, it's just around the corner from that costume shop we went to.”

'Yes I know it, cool. Well we'll see you in – what? Victoria, that's just.. fine, OK, whatever. We'll be there in ten minutes, apparently, assuming we don't get stopped by the police. No, it's just a matter of time, I keep telling you – look, we've gone through this and – sorry Kate, I'll see you in a bit! Bye!' Kate put her cell down, a smile playing across her face. It never stopped amusing (and amazing) her how Max was able to argue back so effectively with Victoria, apparently putting her in her place with no repercussions whatsoever – and Kate was immensely glad that she did so, as it had apparently transformed Blackwell for her and everyone else.

“Did you just tell Victoria where we are?” asked Taylor, looking at her with wide eyes.

“No, I told Max,” Kate replied with a smile, before getting a spoonful of ice cream and enjoying every bit of it.

I mean, it's not actually a lie, is it?

“She's my friend, so.. why not?” she added, sticking her spoon back into her ice cream for another go.

“We have to leave!” Taylor said with faux urgency, tugging at Dana. “Let's go!”

“Shush, I've not finished, and neither has Kate,” Dana said, gesturing with her spoon. Taylor pulled her hat down over her head with a loud, dramatic groan which made Kate giggle.

“I'm so screwed,” she said. “Sold out by Kate Marsh, of all people.”

Kate laughed and then looked back at Dana, finding she was looking at her with an expression that seemed to say everything that she wanted it too, and managed to hold her gaze just long enough to try and make it seem like she understood.

All in all, Kate felt like things were slowly changing - and she realised, much to her surprise, that she was happier than she'd ever been.