Trent curled up on the big couch in the Cyberspace. He had to go home soon, and he wasn't looking forward to it.
"Trent?" Hayley asked. "About to leave."
He looked up. "Okay," he said tiredly, getting up from his reclining position to sit up on the couch and really get up. His feet dragged; he felt like he'd done a marathon. Of course, he'd never done a marathon. He'd probably done the equivalent, but he'd never done a marathon.
"You look tired," Hayley said, sitting down on the couch next to him. "Are you all right?"
"I could use some chocolate," he said. "But I should get home. Before Dad wonders where I am."
Not that Anton Mercer did. Or actually, his father *did* care, enough to not to want to know where Trent was sleeping. Having a monster inside you was enough. Trent knew that as well as his father. The only difference was, apart from his reputation, he was free of his monster.
"Ran across a dementor?" Hayley asked.
"Feels like it," Trent said honestly. Actually, lack of sleep and monster on top of it probably had to do more with that. "Mesogog hasn't invented a dementor yet. I hope."
"Yeah, Reefside doesn't need to become the chocolate-eating capitol of the world," Hayley agreed.
Trent nodded. "I'd better be going," he said, getting up.
"Trent, hold on," Hayley commanded. Surprised, Trent stopped.
Hayley crossed the room, reaching under the counter. "Just in case you run across a dementor."
"You have chocolate?" Trent asked.
"You never know what Mesogog might come up with next… besides, you never know when a friend might need some chocolate in their life."
It was some brand he'd never heard of, the name reminding him of a brand of cigarettes. Hayley broke off a piece and handed it to him. "Chocolate and orange," she said. "Don't worry; the Reefside IKEA has them in stock."
"Oh," Trent said. He took a bite, and something crunched in the semi-soft chocolate. It seemed, upon closer inspection, to be bits of orange candy that were giving the chocolate an orange flavor. "Interesting."
"That's everyone's reaction," Hayley said. "I like them personally."
"You have a stash in your office?" Trent asked. Of course she would.
"In my office, in the Lab… Tommy Oliver wants good tech support, I get to stash my chocolate there," Hayley said. "It's surprising what people do to keep on the good side of people who fix critical computers."
Trent laughed. "I'm not surprised at all." Dr. O would know things like that.
He wondered if Hayley and Dr. O had ever dated. He finished off the chocolate, feeling better. He wondered if chocolate worked against Mesogog's monsters as well. "Thanks for the chocolate," he said. "I guess I should get going." He had a campground to secure and dinner to make. Thank goodness for an attentive Dad and meals for campers.
Hayley nodded. "You be careful out there," she said simply. As if she trusted him to make his own plans and take his own risks.
It was a refreshing feeling. "I will," he said. "After Mesogog and his monsters? I can handle going home." He would have said "anything", but that would have sounded arrogant and made Hayley worry more.
He followed Hayley out the door. "See you tomorrow, after school," he said.
"See you," Hayley called back as he headed home. Or to his campsite. He'd get better at sleeping, at hiding. His father would be proud of him.
As he headed down the street, he smiled.