No, not giving up with Nexilis. Been steadily working on that for a looooong time. Call this a one-shot, and pardon the fact that it is not very good at all XD I wrote this as a way of developing my characterisation skills. Or lack thereof. Clarissa was an enigma of a girl. Her expression was carefully chosen, from one moment to the next, to betray as little of what she was feeling as possible. It felt to me, more often than not, that she was hiding from the world, shielding her thoughts and emotions from those around her - even those that held her dearest. But, occasionally, her eyes would give away just a little emotion, reveal a little of her past, and then I could not help but wonder what she had seen before she came here, to the safety of the quiet little village. Every morning, I could see her walking to school — the same school as mine — alone, her long, dark hair waving lazily behind her, steered by her steps and the wind. Her wiry arms clutched a simple black bag, and her grey school uniform was covered, at least for now, by a navy-blue hooded jacket, which always looked to be slightly too big for her. When she first started the school, she was harassed by a curious crowd, trying to learn who she was and what entertainment she could be to them. This didn't last long. If she answered their questions at all, it was only dismissively, and soon, they grew bored, leaving her to her own devices again, which seemed to make her feel a little better, at least. But that left her with a reputation of being a loner — even after being at the school for three years she was still seen as the new girl. People tried to get into her shell, believe me. Some found the air of mystery that followed her deeply attractive, some were merely nosey. But she kept pushing away anyone who tried to learn about her, even if it was for the most honest and noble of reasons, and she remained that way for a long time. I had never attempted to make contact with her, seeing that the efforts of all others in the school were futile, I felt that if no-one else could break Clarissa out of her shell, I certainly couldn't. Instead, I was content to simply live my life, and smile at her if she ever looked at me. It was my way of assuring her that I was no threat to her and that I was friendly, without trying to encroach upon her. She never gave any indication of whether she approved of this or not, so I stubbornly continued, hoping that I wasn't irritating her with my refusal to withdraw the olive branch I extended. The teachers and other staff had little more success. Attempts to involve her in classes were usually futile, and she would often respond simply and matter-of-factly to questions pertaining to the work, and simply ignore any others. This earned her several trips to higher-ups, who became exasperated at her seemingly asocial behaviour, but they clearly did nothing — her marks were usually good, and she never caused trouble among students. They probably assumed that they had more important people to deal with, those that would actually hinder other students' learning and, occasionally, well-being. People like Damian Price, for instance. Damian was a huge, square-set boy. Fifteen years old, he would have been perfect for the rugby squad if he wasn't so dangerously stupid... and stupidly dangerous. Although he was not necessarily nasty or evil, he did seem to have a problem containing his temper at times, which got him into fights very often for hundreds of reasons; from tiny things like having pens flicked at him for a laugh, to people actively attacking him to attempt to prove that they could best him — a seemingly unbeatable street fighter — in physical combat. The problem with this was that he was so strong, and so stubborn, he couldn't simply knock someone down and walk away. Any slight on him was taken as an act of war, and at times, it looked like he would have quite easily have fought to the death if his better instincts hadn't kicked in. There was a constant murmur around the school about when he would finally go over the edge and get himself expelled, but it never seemed to happen. The teachers either underestimated the danger he posed, or knew that no other school worth bothering with would take him. This was, of course, until he decided to take offense at Clarissa. It was early Spring when the incident occurred. It was one of the first sunny days of the year, and so everyone was sitting on the field, enjoying their lunch and their time away from studying — even if they technically should have been. There was a constant buzz of chatter and activity, from the groups of girls giggling to each other to a slightly unorthodox game of football spanning half of the field and using at least two balls, and the supposedly secret romances where couples thought they were hidden from view, but in fact weren't. I was moving between groups of people, as I often did — never really fitting into one clique or another, I just conversed with everyone, never getting too involved. This wasn't by my choice, but more my inability to feel like I fit into any one group of people - I would quickly feel like I'd done something stupid and disappear, cursing myself for humiliating myself again. Clarissa, on the other hand, never even tried to enter a group or make conversation, but that surprised no-one. She simply sat in one corner of the field, underneath a huge old oak, studying something or other. Interestingly, she seemed incredibly content and almost happy — her mouth was turned up at the corners, just a little, and she was humming to herself very gently. She seemed to be enjoying whatever she was reading, and I couldn't help feeling both happy and slightly envious — she looked like she neither cared about nor needed social contact, whereas I thrived on it and could never truly achieve it. Returning to my conversation, I watched the football game with disinterest, and observed Damian dump-tackling two or three boys to the ground when they got in his way. Unhurt, they sprang straight back up and charged towards the ball again, determined not to let the bigger boy score yet again. He dribbled the ball, seemingly effortlessly, past the half-way line, past one, two, three twelve-year-olds trying to fit into the game, and then he drew back his massive foot, and smashed the ball, way too hard, with the side of his foot. It went flying, curving away from the goal, and powered straight towards the old oak, completely off target. Straight towards Clarissa. It struck her in the head when she wasn't looking, and she reeled backwards, smashing the back of her head on the oak tree. Clarissa clutched her head in pain, and I ran over to get a closer look at what was going on. To my complete and utter shock, she was crying, hot tears rolling down her face and off of her chin, splashing the ground. She stood up, then, suddenly, and marched over to the football, which lay a few feet from her, forgotten. Picking it up, she threw it over the back fence, into the fields behind the school. It immediately disappeared into the sea of crops growing behind, lost. "You... what did you just do?" Damian's voice boomed. It was deep, and slightly hoarse from all the shouting he had done on the football pitch, and commanded the attention of everyone on the field, who slowly edged in, their eyes locked on Damian, to what was surely about to happen. I felt slightly sick. Damian stood there, feet apart, and red-faced, twitching angrily. Clarissa, on the other hand, had sat down again, and was simply packing her books back into her bag again, not even noticing that Damian was closing in for the kill. Her expression had reverted to usual, completely blank. She pushed the last book back into her bag, an old and leather-bound tome, before looking up, noticing that Damian had completely lost his temper, and was thundering towards her with the ferocity and might of a rhinoceros. What happened then, no-one really understood. Damian stopped just before he reached Clarissa, and raised his hand, swinging the momentum of his whole body into his fist, seemingly attempting to break Clarissa's skull. She panicked. She raised her hand as if in slow motion, placing it mere inches from Damian's stomach, and her eyes seemed to glow a ghostly white. Her sleeves drew back slightly, and I could see her veins shining, too. Damian seemed to suddenly freeze, mid-punch. His fist never connected to anything, and he just hung there, frozen in the air. His eyes betrayed his utter, utter fear, and he struggled to move. Clarissa then swung her hand down, hard, and his body plunged into the ground like a meteor. A sickening crunch was issued, reporting that his legs had both broken. Time seemed to return to its normal pace, suddenly, and the crowd stood, completely stunned. Clarissa's faÃ§ade had completely broken, and she panicked, pushing through the crowd and running away. No-one dared follow her, or even meet her eye. They all stood, transfixed on Damian, who rolled over painfully and groaned, revealing his shattered legs. No-one said a word. Several people soon walked fearfully over to Damian. One surveyed his legs, grimacing, and nodded to his companion, who scurried off in the direction of the school office, surely to call an ambulance. Still others just sat down, wondering aloud what just happened. I walked away from the scene, as subtly as I could. I had no idea why, but I decided to go and find Clarissa. For better or worse, my mind was set. It was time to find the truth.