Old files have a tendency to be dusty. This does not come in handy when the agent looking through them has a tendency to be asthmatic.

"Good lord," coughed Aaron Hannel, taking another hit from his inhaler, "You'd think people would keep their documents in better shape." He pulled out the next file in the drawer, holding his breath while the dust settled. He paged through it, finding more of the same stuff he'd been seeing for the last few hours. Jeez, there've been loads of Hostiles passing through this town, he thought, thumbing through the pages upon pages of documented "weird incidences" that had taken place here. It's no wonder they went so Christian. Maggie would love this. He put the file back and pulled out another one.


After English class was over, Hugo and Brian had to part ways. As Brian's math room was on the way to Hugo's science class, however, they walked together for part of the way.

"So really, he's not actually crazy at all," Brian said. "He just sees reality differently from us."

"I believe you," said Hugo. Brian was very firm in his beliefs about Don Quixote, and Hugo wasn't about to contradict him. "Well, here's your stop," he said, motioning to the door of room 119.

"Cool," said Brian. "Thanks for showing me around and stuff." The boys exchanged a smile, causing Hugo's heart to flutter.

"Hey, do you want to come over this afternoon?" he asked on a whim. "We could work on our homework together. I've got geometry with Kravitz fifth period, so it would be the same."

"Sure," said Brian.


The rest of the day passed in a blur for Hugo, except for lunch period, when Brian had sat with him, Mary, Erin, and Carlisle. Mary had stared at Brian the entire period, seemingly enraptured. As much as this irked Hugo, he could hardly blame her. If it wouldn't have gotten him sent to some sort of summer camp (and probably resulted in the loss of the blonde's friendship), Hugo would've done the same. Instead, he'd concentrated on his sandwich.

Finally, only one period of the day remained. Incidentally, Hugo shared this class (p.e.) with all three-four now, he hoped-of his friends. He changed quickly for p.e., grateful he and Brian didn't share a locker row.

Mary and Erin were waiting in the gym by the time Hugo emerged from the locker room.

"Isn't he, though?" Mary was saying. "Oh, hey Hugo. Erin and I were just talking about how cuuu-uute that Brian is!"

"Were you now?" asked Hugo, trying to sound mildly interested.

"We were!" gushed Erin. "I must say, he is fine. Don't you just adore his hair?" Hugo did.

"And you've got to love his smile!" added Mary. Hugo did.

"His eyes!" Yep.

"His clothes!" Yep.

"His-oh, here he comes!" Erin said, dropping her voice. Indeed, there was Brian heading toward them.

"What did I miss?" he asked, flashing them all one of those amazing grins of his.

"Nothing!" giggled Erin.

Brian shrugged. "All right. So, what's going on today?"

"Dodgeball," said Mary. "We have a game once every month." She smiled at Brian. Hugo thought the smile made her look like a toad.

"Right, then," said Brian. "I'm obliged to warn you that I am the dodgeball champion of the world."

"That would be me, my friend," came Carlisle's voice. He walked up from the boys' locker room and smirked at Brian. "The Lord has blessed me with the awesomest dodgeball skills this town has ever seen. And I mean that quite literally."

"Bring it on, bro," said Brian. "I challenge you to a dodgeball duel. First one knocked out loses."

"You're on," grinned Carlisle. The two shook on it as the coach came into the gym. He ordered them to line up and assigned them sides, ending up with Hugo, Brian, and Mary on one side and Erin and Carlisle on the other. Mary assured Brian that she was rooting for him in the duel as they lined up on the wall.

At the coach's whistle, the students were off, sprinting for the center line where the dodgeballs were. Hugo ran forward without really trying-he didn't want to look like a wimp, but he also didn't want to get hit in the face.

Meanwhile, Brian had rushed to the center. He sure was fast-he'd been the first one there. He nearly hit Carlisle, but the boy had managed to dodge in the nick of time. Carlisle shot his own dodgeball back, and Brian ducked and rolled-actually rolled-beneath it, letting it bounce off the wall and fall to the floor.

It was a good game. Brian and Carlisle were both masters. About halfway through the game, Hugo was hit on the arm and retreated gratefully to the "out" zone, relieved it hadn't been his head.

Finally, it had come down to Carlisle, Brian, and the groups of girls who hid out by the walls. Brian was sending a near-constant onslaught of dodgeballs towards Carlisle, who was dodging well, but tiring.

For a moment, it looked like Brian was going to win, but then his supply of dodgeballs ran out.

All but one, which was far from Brian.

Never taking his eyes off of Carlisle, he scooted towards the ball. Carlisle stared back coolly. Brian was nearly to the ball when Carlisle casually-as casually as it got under such circumstances-tossed a ball towards the girls, on the opposite side of the court.

It sailed straight towards Mary. "Brian, help!" she screamed.

And Brian, always the gentleman, ran to help the damsel in distress.

He made a jump for the ball just before it hit Mary. He managed to bat it away from her face, but couldn't catch it. The ball bounced on the floor loudly, the resulting thwack signaling Brian's loss.

With Brian out of the game, it was an easy win for Carlisle. The match only lasted about three minutes longer. Mary was one of the first ones out. When she was hit, she ran to Brian's side and began apologizing loudly, grasping his arm.

"It's fine, really," Brian assured her, patting her arm comfortingly.

Hugo stood by and watched his team lose.


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