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A/N: When the quotations are 'insert something here' around a sentence, it's translated from Cantonese, which is the language spoken by the family who owns the Paper Lantern.

Chapter 6; Paper Lantern and Lunch with Peace

Valerie's POV


'Val! Go talk to the hippie, she needs advice.'

I set the dishes down.

'Why me? You're better.' I called back.

Warren walked into the kitchen. 'Because, you're female. Plus, consider this part-revenge for Save the Citizen.'

I threw the towel I was holding on the counter. 'Fine.' I scowled at him, walking out to go talk to her.

I slid into the booth across from the Hippie. "Hey. Layla, is it?"

She looked up, startled. "I didn't know you worked here."

I shrugged. "Technically, I don't; I just help out because I feel like it. So, what do you need advice for?"

"How do you kno-" She started then realization dawned. "You know Warren."

I scoffed. "Of course I do. I've lived in the same house as him for a long time, why wouldn't I?"

She opened her mouth, then closed it in thought. I waved it off. "Long story." She nodded.

"Okay, so, I have this huge crush on Will Stronghold, but the problem is that he likes someone else, and she's perfect."

"Okay, let me start off with this, Layla." I commented. "No one, absolutely no one is perfect. It's a law of the world." I moved my hands in a circle for effect.

"Second, what did Warren say?" I asked.

"He said he thinks true love left unspoken is the quickest route to a heavy heart. But he got that off a fortune cookie. I think."

I chuckled. More ammo for me. "He may have, he may not have. He's a pretty deep thinker, if you know him. But he's right; just tell him. Break the norm, ask him to homecoming."

Layla looked down at the table. "I.. I'm just nervous he'll refuse or something."

"Do it. Or I challenge you to save the citizen or something equally violent. And I know you hate violence."

She sighed. "Fine. But what happens if he already has a date?"

I leaned in close to her, to make sure my sometimes-eavesdropping brother couldn't hear.

With a mischievous smile, I said; "Take my brother to the dance."

Layla looked up. "Who?"

"Who else? The one who is, pretty much, the Arch enemy of Stronghold."

Her eyes widened. "Peace is your Brother?" She whispered.

"Yeah."

She was just silent. "Don't tell anyone, okay?" I asked, placing a hand on hers. "Plus, I'm sure whoever you go to homecoming with, you'll have fun."

She looked up; I think her eyes had a tear or two in them. "Thanks." She swallowed.

Layla looked down again, then back up. "I didn't know you have tattoos."

I looked down at my wrists. "Not tattoos; it's a quirk of the Battle power line."

"Quirk? Of the Battle Power line?" She was clearly confused.

"For some strange reason, someone in direct descent from a Battle will get tattoo-like markings on their forearms that correspond to their power. Warren has flames; Baron had fire-breathing dragons. That's actually how he chose his name, Dragon Tongue."

"I never knew that… It's an unusual quirk; Magenta's purple hair streaks are a side effect too. You're hair streaks and Warren's, are they side effects too?"

I nodded. "Yeah, they are. Kind of annoying, dye won't take to them. As with most side effects like that."

I cocked my head to the side. "Say, what is your power? You never did participate in Power Placement."

"Oh, I control plants; I can cause them to grow where I want and rapidly. So, I guess I could sort of use them in offense, but I think defense is more likely."

"So, like a shield woven out of vines or something?" I asked, slightly curious. I've never met someone with this power; I think it's neat.

"I guess so…"

I stood up. "Well, I'll see you around. Keep in mind what I said about Will, and what to do if he has a date. Bye." Walking from the table, I heard her soft voice. "Yeah. Thanks…"

I'm so going to smack Warren. He knows I hate giving advice.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Layla's POV

Sitting next to Will on the bus was slightly awkward; he told me he was going to Homecoming with Gwen Grayson.

Will broke the silence first.

"Oh yeah! I almost forgot, what's your Homecoming news?"

"Me? Oh…" I wasn't sure what to say, but then I remembered Valerie's words; let's Hope Warren will end up agreeing... "I'm going too!" I said.

"Really? Who with?"

"Who with?" I asked, confused.

"Yeah, who asked you?"

"Oh, who asked me… Warren Peace."

Will just stared at me as the bus landed.

He finally managed to speak as we made our way through the halls.

"Warren Peace?! Layla, you can't be serious, the guy's a PSYCHO! Plus, he's like my Arch-Enemy! When did you even start hanging out?"

I whirled around to look him in the eye. "Last night; eight o'clock, the Paper Lantern."

I stalked into my class, leaving Will on his own.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Valerie's POV

"Hey Warren."

Who has the damn right to be so cheery on a Tuesday? I was up late last night, so I am not in a good mood.

Oh sure, with my powers, you'd think I would like the night time. You're right, I do. But I also like sleeping. Too little sleep and I'm not responsible for my actions.

Both Warren and I looked up, to see the Hippie sitting with us.

"Did either of us do, or say, anything last night to make you think this was okay?" Warren growled. Yeah, for not enough sleep, he was the same way as me.

"Funny. You'll never believe this." She said, pointing her fork at Warren. "I was just about to ask Will to Homecoming, when, wouldn't you know it, I said I was going with you instead!"

"I don't remember that being the plan…" He said, a very pissed-off expression crossing his face.

It took all my will power not to laugh.

The girl with purple hair streaks, Magenta, sat down next to Layla. "Hey you do the History homework?"

"What are you doing?" Warren shot a death glare at her. I can tell there's going to be a lot of glaring coming from Warren.

"It's called sitting." She replied, no emotion crossing her face.

"No one sits her, but me. And her." He pointed at me.

Magenta just twirled her pencil. "Mm-hmm…" She turned to Layla. "So, what you get for number four? I wasn't sure if…"

"Are we sitting at this table now?" Popsicle kid sat next to Warren. "I feel extremely dangerous."

"Whoa…" Warren hates anyone sitting next to him; even family. It's one reason I sit across from him.

I would hazard a guess and say he's really uncomfortable right now. I'm so dead. "Whoa…"

Glow-kid sat down on Warren's left. "Hey, this guy bothering you Magenta?"

"Try the other way around." Warren's voice was stressed; Yup, he's uncomfortable. "Does anyone else need a date for Homecoming?"

Popsicle kid's hand went up. Note to the wise; if Warren asks a rhetorical question, you don't answer. It might you get you burned.

I learned that the hard way. But it was funny.

Suddenly, Layla started to force laughter. "Warren, you are crazy!" She cried, as Stronghold walked by.

Her face took on a more serious expression as soon as Stronghold was out of earshot. "Please, I'll make this as painless as possible."

"So, you're not doing this because you like me or anything; you're doing this to get at Stronghold."

"Yeah…"

"Then I'm in!" To my surprise, Warren smiled. He never smiles! "But I'm not renting a tux." I can't remember the last time he smiled…

Grabbing his bag, he smacked Glow-kid in the shoulder and left.

"Hey, if he's not here, is this still the tough-guy table?" Popsicle asked.

I shot him a glare, which made him cringe.

"So, Layla, mind introducing me to who the hell these people are?"

This was one strange lunch, to say the least.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"All right, Val, spill."

"Spill what?" I asked, trying to keep an innocent expression on m y face; I knew damn well what he wanted me to say.

"What you said to Layla last night. Spill it."

"All I said was that she should ask Will to the dance and that no one's perfect."

"You said more than that. You told her to take me if Will had a date."

My innocent expression was not working. I couldn't keep a straight face.

Snickering, I responded. "Maybe."

Lilith was watching with great interest.

"You did, didn't you?"

"Maybe; Noun. A mere possibility or probability."

"… How I live with you is beyond me."

"Makes two. But, yeah, I did. Whatcha going to do about it?" I taunted.

"This." Before I knew it, my dear brother had pinned my to the couch I was sitting on.

And proceeded to tickle me.

"Hey! Unfair!" I yelled in between laughs. "Lilith! HELP!"

She just laughed and shook her head. Wow, what a helpful parent…

Drawing my hands back slightly, I powered up just enough to shove Warren off me.

"Ha!" I cried, wrestling my brother.

"No powers! I can't use mine!" He choked out.

"Not my problem!" I yelled, tickling him back.

After a while, we both just laid on the floor, panting and laughing.

"Tie?" I asked, holding a hand out.

"Tie. For now." Came his response. Ah, doomed…
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