Lesson four: Be prepared, especially when it comes to visiting Earth

The first and only time I held Arvy in my arms, I knew the fate that awaited me - and her as well for that matter. My future had never been so clear. She smiled up at me with chubby rosy cheeks. Her little hand wrapped around my finger; her strong grip surprised me. I made a vow to her, to myself, that I'd do anything for the little angel resting peacefully against my chest. As if she knew my thoughts, she glanced up at me again and let out a little 'coo' noise. I wanted to stay in that moment forever, but that would do nothing for Arvy. I kissed her forehead, knowing this might be my only chance for such a direct fatherly gesture towards her.

"Luke!" A short chubby angel tried unsuccessfully to push past the two guards at the doorway to the circular room in which the top council held their meetings.

"Let him in," Luke requested calmly. The guards reluctantly parted, and the cherub like angel angrily threw a file down on the large table in the middle. His thunderous footsteps against the marble floor tiles rang throughout the space as he marched indignantly towards his superior.

"It isn't fair, Luke! After everything you've done! All your hard work!" Herbert's plump face flushed with frustration, the golden buttons of his snow white tuxedo bulged in and out with the upset angel's ragged breathing, dangerously close to popping off his suit altogether.

"What is it, Herbert?" Luke frowned.

"Do you know who your daughter has been paired with for the H.A.L.O.W. exam?" He whispered in a voice that was practically a hiss so the guards couldn't eavesdrop. Not that they cared to listen to any of the conversation, their sole purpose was simply to keep outsiders from entering and interfering with the top council's meeting. Right now the room entertained only the two guards, Luke, and Herbert, so Herbert's attempt to keep the information quiet didn't work; his voice bounced off the walls of the tall, spacious room. As angels traditionally frowned upon any form of gossip, there never had been a threat of the conversation leaving the perimeters of the room in the first place.

"Caleb North." Luke responded with a puzzled expression, not knowing where Herbert could be going with this.

"Yes, well, do you know what he is?"

"Human?" Luke assumed.

"Oh, no, no, no, sir. Look at the copy of the case file." Herbert's pudgy finger roughly tapped the case file on the meeting desk.

Luke picked up the case file, some of the papers of which had spewed across the table due to Herbert's forceful handling of it earlier. Luke scanned through them quickly, until he came across the certain piece of information Herbert had obviously wanted him to find.

"Oh." Luke paled. He didn't know how to respond at first to the disheartening information in front of him. He reread it again, making sure it wasn't a mistake. "Does Arvy know?"

"As if that changes anything! Someone wants to slander all your efforts by getting to you through her. She's been set up for failure!" Herbert cried in an outraged bellow.

"Does she know?" Luke repeated, a tinge of frustration slipping into his voice. Herbert had been with him through a lot, but the angel's dramatic tendencies grinded his nerves every so often, especially in situations better handled with a calm, rational mind. Although, he had to admit, Herbert often kept Luke from flying out of control in such situations himself; after all, what was the point of flipping out when Herbert's reaction sufficed for both of them?

Herbert nodded grimly. "She read the case file thoroughly before leaving for earth, I don't see how she couldn't."

Luke sunk into a chair, heaving a sigh. "It was her decision then. I don't see anything I can do about it."

"But all your efforts just to give her this chance!" Herbert insisted. Herbert, being one of Luke's closest friends as well as his subordinate, knew of the situation with Haley and Arvy all too well. He'd been present for many of Luke's well meant speeches about how he wanted to create a better heaven, how he wanted all angels to be seen as truly equal, each respected for their own special talents and capabilities. He'd fought along Luke's side faithfully through the many campaigns with the top council for even the slightest bit of leniency policies restricting the wing rights of mixed angels.

"This is dangerous for Arvy, you know that." Herbert tried taking a different approach to get Luke to see reason. "Caleb North doesn't even know what he is yet, but Arvy might…awaken him. That won't end well fo -"

"Enough." Luke interrupted. He stood from the chair and ran his fingers through his short blonde hair. "I need to think."

"No, you need to pull Arvy out of this ridiculous set up!"

"Don't tell me what to do, Herbert!" Luke's light blue eyes flashed with anger. "My daughter is capable of handling this. I have faith in her, and more importantly, I am coming up with a backup plan as I speak." As if his words calmed himself, he let out a deep soothing breath and allowed the grin of a proud father to spread across his face.

"She'll be fine."

"Sir, please, you can't save a soul that was born irredeemable!" Herbert exclaimed in a final attempt to persuade Luke to bring Arvy home before any trouble ensued.

"I personally don't think she'll run into any trouble at all saving Caleb's soul."

"So you've got detention huh?" Mars chuckled before taking another bite of his sandwich during lunchtime. Arvy wished she could disappear. She'd never misbehaved in her entire existence, not like this. Not only that, but this wrecked any chance of saving Caleb's soul going smoothly, as if there'd ever been any chance of that in the first place. She nodded, staring at the tray the cafeteria lady forced on her as if it contained a deadly virus. She had to admit though, she found the food tempting due to an unexplainable emptiness in her stomach.

"Here," Mars handed her the unbitten half of his sandwich, noticing her look of utter disgust.

"Thank you, but I'm fine," Arvy assured him.

As if in defiance, her stomach growled.

"You have to eat here," Mars said softly. Arvy took the half of the sandwich Mars offered her and hesitantly bit into it. It shocked her, how good this food tasted. Mars chuckled at her wide eyed reaction, grabbed a napkin and wiped a smudge of ketchup off her lower lip. Arvy blushed as red as the ketchup, not sure what to make of Mars Heaton. He'd helped her a lot today, perhaps more than was good for Arvy if she wanted to , and she must look like an idiot to him. Getting detention on the first day, not being able to eat without making a mess. After swallowing the initial bite, she set the sandwich down and focused on him, captivated by his eyes.

"How are you doing it?" Arvy whispered.

"I'm afraid I don't follow," Mars looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

"You're acting as if you've lived on earth your whole life!"

He leaned in closer to her, so that she could smell his peppermint breath, an almost intoxicating aroma. His close proximity made her nervous, but she didn't altogether mind.

"I have a secret," He whispered seductively.

"You do?" Arvy wondered what it could possibly be, and her spirits soared with the possibility of knowing a secret that might make living on this foreign planet easier to her. She involuntarily leaned in closer, so as not to risk missing one word.

"You see," He paused for a melodramatic effect, his eyes full of mischievous charm, "It appears unlike a certain someone, I read the earth study guide book."

Arvy jerked back in her seat, having been caught.

"I am going to, I just haven't yet." She tried to cover for being unprepared, but it was a lame excuse, even she knew that.

"So, did you two know each other before transferring here?" Sasha, without receiving permission from either of them, sat down next to Mars as if the spot was reserved for her.

"No," They both answered simultaneously; Mars in a calm and collected voice, Arvy with a slight shakiness. Technically, that didn't count as a lie, it's not as if she'd ever directly spoken with Mars in heaven, but she'd known of his existence, so it still felt the same as telling a fib.

"Oh," Sasha let out a sigh of relief, "It's just you two looked very…close just a second ago, so I was curious."

Arvy didn't understand the full implication of Sasha's words.

"So," Sasha said cheerfully in an attempt to change the subject. She smiled at Arvy with a look a big grin. "I heard you smashed an egg over Caleb North's head."

"How'd you find out?" Arvy gasped.

Sasha looked at Arvy in mild disbelief; did the young girl have no idea how rumor's in high school worked?

"I have my sources," She said with a crooked smile, trying to be mysterious and cool so Mars would be attracted to her. Unfortunately for her, Mars failed to notice her attempts to entice him.

"I didn't mean to! I mean, I did, but It was if I was possessed or something!" Arvy rambled, trying to explain her side of the story without much success. Because she couldn't explain it. Yes, Caleb really dug underneath her skin, but even so, throwing out all her values of turning the other cheek and nonviolence in a moment of fury. Fury. Before today, she'd never felt such an intense emotion.

"Is it true you have detention because of it?" Sasha tried to ask with a tone of sympathy, but one could tell it caused her great happiness Arvy ended up with detention on the first day of school. She didn't like Arvy; one, her hair was obnoxiously pretty. Two, she had a slightly slimmer frame. Three, Mars seemed to really like her. All reasons, that in her mind, merited loathing.

"Yes." Arvy admitted with a sigh.

"Bummer." Sasha pulled off an act of concern well.

Arvy took another bite of her sandwich, taking no notice of the fake show of Sasha's. Today's events replayed in her mind on a loop, and each time, she felt as if she was watching a ghost, or an evil clone of herself. In slow motion, she watched as her evil clone slammed the egg on Caleb's head again and again. Only, of course, she knew that she had no evil clone. The person who acted impulsively, and irrationally had been her.

"You!" Caleb stormed over to her table with a look of rage flaming in hi eyes. Only, unlike before, Arvy knew exactly who he was angry at, and unfortunately, it happened to be her. She wanted to slide underneath the table, but he'd already seen her. Caleb apparently washed the flour and egg out of his hair right after second period. He now wore a school shirt proudly boosting support for the school basketball team, an office loan he would never have worn under any other circumstances. He looked more ferocious than the snarling panther on the shirt.

"I'm really sorry!" Arvy began as he came ever closer.

"I tried being nice to you." Caleb hissed, now beside the table, looming over her. "Now I'm going to make your life hell."

Mars rolled his eyes. "Just let it go. You made her mad, I think you deserved it."

"Whatever," He spat before leaving. "I'll see you in detention."

Once he no longer could hear her, Arvy muttered under her breath, "Oh my. I think I'm going to die. I need to pray, I really need to pray."

The last bell rang all too quickly. Arvy would have rather stayed and listened to the history teacher's lecture on the significance of other countries' economies on the United States for another hour if it meant she didn't have to serve detention with Caleb North. For punishment, the two had to clean up the home economics classroom. After a long day of cookie baking, the room seeped with unsanitary culinary remains.

Arvy breathed a sigh of relief to find the classroom empty. Cleaning up the room by herself definitely was a daunting task, but she didn't mind, not if it delayed Caleb's wrath. Except she didn't have the slightest clue where the cleaning supplies resided in this room. A small closet in the back of the room seemed the best chance, so she eagerly opened it, to be greeted harshly by a rush of pots and pans falling on top of her. She crossed her arms over her face to protect herself as best as she could, but it didn't do much against the painful attack of the kitchen frying pans and various cookie sheets.

The force knocked her on her butt, causing more sharp pain to shoot through her system. Although she was relatively new to pain, she had to admit, it definitely proved itself to be an expendable aspect of existing. The last pot fell atop her outstretched legs before ricocheting off, spinning almost mockingly a few times before coming to a stop, settling on the floor with a soft thud.

"Ow," Arvy muttered, doing her best to hold back tears. Today was the worst. She'd gotten off on the wrong foot with Caleb, She'd neglected to read the earth study guide, so knew nothing about this planet and its customs, and now her body ached with rapidly forming bruises. It ached because today she'd also discovered she felt pain while on earth. Mustering up the willpower to stand, she shakily supported herself with her hands pressed firmly against the white tile of the classroom and pushed herself up.

Its then Caleb entered, and he stared at her and the mess she'd created in a look of disgust mixed with humor. When the initial shock settled and he found the ability to speak, his words dripped with both anger and sarcasm. "It would appear you bring trouble with you everywhere you go."

Arvy rubbed her hand across her temple; her head had been hit pretty hard, and now it screamed at her in loud and cantankerous manner. Her fingers touched a warm soft substance. With a feeling of dread, she brought her fingers to her face to find her hands stained with a red liquid.

Blood; the word flashed through her mind almost instinctively.

"How bad is it?" Caleb asked in a voice of indifference, as if he asked simply because the situation called for it. Arvy looked at him, her eyes scared. Her whole frame trembled at that first encounter with blood. She opened her mouth to speak, but it was so dry the words wouldn't form. Her tongue sandpaper, her throat a dessert, both unusable to voice her exponentially increasing fear. Her body couldn't simply cope with everything, its as if both the physical and mental toll of the day finally registered fully, and it overwhelmed her. Her reason became fuzzy, the edges of her thoughts blurred together in an indistinguishable wreck until everything went black.