|Her Black Knight|
|Participants||Ciel, William Wiggin|
|IC Date:||20 October 2200|
|RL Date:||15 October 2010|
|Location||UC San Angeles|
<Radio: G - Hacker Chat> Mister Famous transmits, "Do you want a spoiler, Dr. Mallory?"
<Radio: G - Hacker Chat> Ciel transmits, "I'm gonna regret this, but sure."
<Radio: G - Hacker Chat> Mister Famous transmits, "William Wiggin loved you with all of his cold, black heart. He spent his life protecting you from Grandmaster Meio. You were more precious to him than anything in his life save serving his father."
<Radio: G - Hacker Chat> Mister Famous transmits, "I have now explained the past twenty-five years of your life."
The single occupancy dorm room was one of the few concessions that UC San Angeles had made for the thirteen year old freshman. A shelf was filled with the various medical textbooks and fantasy novels she loved best, her clothes were sorted away, and she'd put some posters up, including the one sheet for Labyrinth that hung next to her bed. The ancient film had been her latest fascination, especially its villain (a fact she didn't share with her parents). Even so, the room felt empty, despite her efforts to make it feel like home.
She had always been a lonely child, and had no friends her own age. Her best friend had been her physical therapist, and the only other people she talked to besides her parents were a few medical 'pen-pals' she had never even met. Here she had nobody, not even her parents, and the smirking face of Jareth the Goblin King could do little to alleviate the emptiness she felt inside. Looking outside only made it worse, she discovered, watching all of the new and returning students chatting, laughing, tossing a frisbee or kicking a hackeysack, all of them so much older than she was.
Had this really been a good idea?
It was then that she noticed the boy. He was thin but not frail, light-skinned, his face framed by hair the same color as that of the long-dead musician that dominated her favorite poster. He looked to be her age, or very nearly so. Was he looking at her? She couldn't see his eyes from the fourth floor window of her dorm, but his face had an intensity to it that made a chill run down her spine. Who was he?
Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock on her door. It was one of the guys down the hall, inviting her to a party after the evening's floor meeting. When she returned to the window, the boy was gone. In her excitement at the invitation, the strange boy slipped from her mind.
She drank her first beer on a dare that night, and spent most of the rest of it fighting a brief but futile war with the contents of her stomach. College had begun.
It was late October, and her coursework had begun to suffer, a fact she had been able to hide from her parents so far. She'd found friends, or at least something like it, in a group of guys in her dorm that referred to her as "our little sister." She suspected that none of them would have treated their sisters the way they treated her, but being the center of attention was nice, as was the availability of drinks and the ability to get into R-rated movies. She wasn't sleeping well, however, and she'd already missed more than a few classes for one reason or another.
She wasn't sure what time it was, only that the sun hadn't risen, the haze of whatever it was she had drank blurring her vision. She cried quietly as the warm water of the shower poured down on her, soaking her clothes as she huddled in the corner of the stall. What blood there had been had already been washed away, but she still hurt. She hadn't realized how badly it would hurt.
"Are you all right?"
It was the boy. She rubbed her eyes, trying to tell herself that she was really seeing him again. He was handsome up close, and the resemblance to the poster on her wall was almost eerie, but he still had that same intense look on his face. It was almost scary, the way he looked. She nodded in response.
"Your name is Ciel. Ciel Mallory."
She nodded again, not sure what to say to him. How did he know who she was?
"I'll help you get back to your room."
He didn't complain about her soaking wet clothes. He didn't ask about her tears. He didn't even ask what had happened to her. He didn't say much at all as he helped her back to her dorm and back to her room. He left without saying goodbye, but all the while he had that look. The way his eyes looked scared her and thrilled her at the same time.
The "big brother" responsible for what happened that night didn't show up the next day. They wondered where he'd gone after a week. After two, they assumed he had dropped out.
It was a few weeks later that she learned the name of the boy who had helped her: William Wiggin. He was only a year older than she was, a boy of few words, but always with that eerie intensity about him. In many ways they were similar: both were early entries into college, both were seemingly alone, and neither had many friends.
Over the next few months the circle of "big brothers" fell apart. Several of them withdrew from school, at least two just vanished. Those who remained kept their distance from her. She didn't notice, or at least convinced herself not to. William had been there for her, and it was William she clung to now.
He was her knight in shining armor.