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6 - Advanced Placement

Advanced Placement

Katlyn Rogers was a genius. That wasn’t a fact she went out of her way to advertise, although it wasn’t difficult to guess, looking at her as she sat alone in the college cafeteria, ignoring her plate of chicken fingers as she stared intently at her e-book reader, lost in her reading, the only motion around her that of her finger lightly pressing down on the Next Page button ever so often. She didn’t attend college, of course - while there are some, and she usually wished she was one, very few thirteen year olds do - but she took a couple classes. She’d have preferred to take them all there, rather than at the high school she was actually enrolled in. She was pretty sure her high school would rather have it that way, too, since they didn’t really know what to do with her, other than send her here, but they couldn’t just pass her off so quickly, unfortunately for everyone involved.

She giggled at her book, absent-mindedly reaching for her glass of soda and taking a sip, her eyes locked on the screen the whole while. She was used to eating alone, as she’d been doing it ever since her teachers had stopped forcing their classes to all sit together at lunchtime. She enjoyed it, usually, though it was better here than at her real school, like most things. Generally, nobody tried to bother her here, and if she got there at the right time, it was rather quiet.

Every once in a while, however, some concerned, overly nosey individual would come over and ask if she was all right, if she was waiting on her big brother or sister. The first time it had happened, she’d thought it would be simplest to just say yes and leave it at that. That only led to more questions, unfortunately, like who exactly that might be. The concerned party was convinced that, with her honey colored hair and sparkling green eyes, she was related to a Phylia, which was a name she didn’t realize people were still using in the modern day. She’d been curious to meet someone named that, but the mysterious girl didn’t show up before Kat’s helper had to leave. Now she just told people no when they asked, and hoped they didn’t require more of an explanation.

And that was just what she was preparing to do as she felt the shadow of someone fall over her that day. She ignored it for the first few seconds, hoping they’d decide against pestering her and just walk away, then sighed and turned around when it was clear that wasn’t happening. She was somewhat startled to see not one, but three, people standing behind her.

They were, as she would later be told, Wren, Robyn, and Mina. Wren was the shortest, only slightly taller than Kat, and just a little round, a brunette with hair reaching down nearly her whole back. She was fairly shy and, as much as any of them could manage when they were almost always together, kept to herself. She was Katlyn’s favorite. Robyn was the tallest, with a patch of flaming red hair atop her head, short and spiky, a patch of freckles dotting her face, and she was anything but shy. Mina was between the other two in height. Her jet black hair fell between the others’ in length as well - Kat would later see that it reached just to her shoulders, though at the time, it was done up in a pair of tiny pigtails. She seemed the hang around the other two to watch what they did and laugh at them. Kat had never used the word before, choosing to refer to the girls who picked on her at her real school at idiots and children, sure they would grow out of it one day and feel bad for how they’d treated her and anyone else “different” from them - though Mina provided proof that not all of them would - but Mina was a bitch.

The first thing, in fact, she said to Katlyn was, “I think you’re lost, love,” quickly followed, after Kat’s bewildered look in response, with, “Grayson Elementary is a couple streets over.”

Robyn smacked her on the arm, giving her a reproachful glare. “What she means to say,” she corrected, “is how are you doing?”

“I’m… good?” Kat glanced between the three, currently strange, girls, trying to glean whether this whole thing was some sort of trick.

“Great!” Robyn exclaimed, beaming. “How long before your next class?”

This bewildered Kat all the more. Did they know who she was? Did they just assume that, despite her youthful appearance, which at least one of them had clearly noticed, she was an actual student? Either way, the answer was, “About half an hour.” She had two classes at the college, straddling lunchtime, twice a week. The schedule had seemed silly to her at first, though that gave her enough time on campus that her mother could run an errand or two, or whatever it was she did, between ferrying her from school to school.

“Do you wanna hang out with us?” It seemed an innocent enough question. Part of Kat wanted to just keep reading on her own regardless, but another was flattered that real college students actually wanted to spend time with her, and that, despite Mina’s little joke, they seemed to be treating her as an equal, rather than a small child.

At least until Mina chirped in with another little joke. “Yeah, we could use some spare cash, so we decided to give babysitting a whirl.”

“Just ignore her,” Robyn rolled her eyes. “You can beat her up when we get to my room. Or just tape her mouth shut.”

Kat was still uncertain, glancing up at the clock in the cafeteria with an “I don’t know…”

“We won’t let you miss your class,” Wren spoke up finally. “Don’t worry.”

Only semi-reluctantly, she gave in. They didn’t do much, just sat on Robyn’s bed and chatted, but she couldn’t deny that it was nicer than sitting alone and reading, which she could do when she was at home. After that, she almost always found them in the cafeteria, waiting for her with an empty chair at their table, or just a few minutes behind her coming in. She became fast friends with them, or at least with Robyn and Wren. Mina, for her part, learned to tell when she was feeling especially insecure, and usually went easy on her then, which was about as good as it got with her. Suddenly, the three days a week she spent at her real school during lunch felt rather lonely.

When her birthday came around, near the end of the school year, and, as always, her mother asked her if she wanted to invite anyone to celebrate with them, for once she could say yes. She was a little reluctant to ask them - there was a difference between simply hanging out during lunch, since they were already there anyway, and asking them to go out of their way to come to her house, when she was sure they had better things to do than go to some kid’s birthday dinner. It wasn’t even a party, really, though her parents insisted on calling it that, even when it was just them and her.

“Well… We’ll see,” came the answer from Robyn, glancing at the other two nervously.

“You don’t have to!” Kat had quickly told them, not wanting them to feel obligated, though she really would have liked it. Even expecting it, she couldn’t deny it had hurt a little that they hadn’t immediately said yes.

“It’s just that we have finals coming up soon, you know?” Robyn sounded strangely uncertain; Kat was starting to resign herself to spending another birthday alone, and hoping she hadn’t spooked them off entirely. Maybe they didn’t see her as the kind of friend they did that sort of thing with.

“Yeah, some of us have more than two classes to study for,” Mina butted in.

“I know,” Katlyn said quietly. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…”

“Of course we’ll be there.” Kat glanced over at Wren, still slightly surprised to hear her say anything, much less something so assertive. Wren was perched at the edge of Robyn’s desk chair, glaring at the other two. “It won’t kill us to take a night off.”

“You’re right,” Robyn conceded, turning to Kat. “She’s right. We’ll be there.” She smiled a little as Kat beamed, unable to hide her pleasure. “Hey, could we get your mom’s phone number so we can get directions to your house?”

Now that they’d accepted, she had a whole new batch on anxieties bubbling in her. Would they think her house, or her parents, were lame? She had no control over those things of course, but would they want to see her room, since she’d spent so much time in theirs? Would they think it was too kiddy? To try to avoid that, she started to hide her stuffed animals, taking down some of her older posters. Would her parents like them? She didn’t know that she wanted them to like her friends TOO much, really, but enough that they didn’t forbid her from hanging out with them. She started to regret inviting Mina, but how would she have asked the other two without her?

It turned out she needn’t have worried. She had been waiting in her room when they arrived, so her mother beat her to the door. She stopped her rush towards the door for a moment, suddenly shy about having to walk in and immediately introduce everyone, unsure whether she should call her mother “mom” or “mother”, not wanting to sound like she was trying too hard to sound mature, but not wanting too sound too immature either.

Down the hall and around the corner, she heard, “Oh, hello, girls! So good to see you again!” That gave her another pause, but she pretended she hadn’t heard it, walking in and acting normally, though one of Mina’s off-hand jokes from that first day they’d met was haunting her. Had they really just been babysitting her all along? She couldn’t really imagine her parents choosing them, of all people, but that would be what made them such a good choice.

She couldn’t help but wonder about that as they ate dinner - it was a nice change of pace from worrying how well her friends and her parents would get along, as she’d been expecting to do.And it would explain a lot, really, such as why they would’ve ever bothered to talk to her in the first place. She started to think about ways to find out for sure, and what she would do if it was true.

She was broken out of her thoughts a few minutes after dinner, first by the presentation of her cake and the blowing out of the candles, and then by her mother clearing her throat and giving Robyn a meaningful look.

Robyn spoke up, strangely shy for her. “We, uh… We have a present for you.”

Kat had already opened her presents that day, not wanting the girls to see, as she was unsure if she could trust her parents not to give her something silly and childish in front of them. She hadn’t even thought about them giving her anything. She gave the customary, “You didn’t have to do that!”, though she had to admit she was rather curious.

“No, no, it’s our pleasure!” Robyn replied, completing the ritual. “Well… We can’t really give it to you, 'cause it’s not that kind of a present, but… Well, we’re taking a road trip the week after classes end to go look at grad schools, and we wanted you to come with us.”

Kat looked up in surprise, her eyes darting from the girls, somewhat bashfully smiling at her, to her parents. “It’s fine with us,” her mother told her. “We’ve been talking about it for a week now, and I think it’s a sweet idea.” Kat quickly thought back, and it had been just a little over a week since she’d given out her mother’s phone number - she HAD thought it a little strange that they hadn’t just asked for her address so they could Mapquest it.

Kat breezed through her finals, as did the other girls. She didn’t see them as much, but whenever she did, she was searching for a crack in their armor, some sign that they were just pretending, that they didn’t really want to take her along. But if they were at all reluctant, they hid it well, mixing complaints about what their teachers had put ont their tests despite claiming they weren’t going to with telling Kat how much fun they were going to be having in just a few days, and how glad they were they had managed to talk her parents into it. They’d met her parents for coffee, they said, and had to all but submit to a background check before they finally agreed.

“It was all Wren,” Robyn claimed, and Kat didn’t doubt it, not least of all because Robyn would surely have taken credit for it if it had been her, and Mina would never have done anything to convince them she was capable of looking after anyone. Wren just shrugged, not feeling the need to elaborate.

Kat had already started packing by then - despite her worries that this had all been set up, she couldn’t deny that she was excited about it. She managed to beg a couple new outfits out of her parents for the trip, getting what she thought looked like a very sophisticated skit and suit coat combination for the official part of their visits to the schools, even though she knew they wouldn’t really be looking at her just yet. She also spent several minutes debating with herself on what length of mini-skirt to buy, trying to find one that she wouldn’t have to fight too much with her mother over, that she’d be comfortable in, as she wasn’t used to wearing anything like that, but that would still look more mature than her other clothes. Her mother didn’t even question the one she settled on, making her worry she’d gone too conservative with her choice, but it would’ve been too suspicious to suddenly change her mind just because she’d gotten no other response at showing it off that, “Okay, sweetie.” It wasn’t like she had anything to show off yet anyway, though now that she was a real teenager, past that preliminary year, she was sure that would come along soon enough.

She used her mother’s old suitcase, a big yellow one with flowers that had been painted on years ago, and were now chipping off at the edges. She was glad she’d gotten her e-book reader for Christmas the year before, or else she’d have needed a second bag just for books. As it was, she only managed to fill her baggage up about halfway with clothes, though that left room for her pillow - her mother told her that hotels generally had terrible pillows, and she was very particular about that sort of thing.

Finally, it was the first day of the trip. Her mother woke her up early, got her started moving, then let her change into the old, holey pair of jeans and a T-shirt she’d helped paint the living room in a year or two ago, one of the outfits that had been chosen for the days they were just driving, while she fixed her breakfast. Kat wasn’t usually a breakfast person, but her mother insisted on it, making her French toast with strawberries, bacon, and scrambled eggs with cheese, telling her it was hard to tell what the hotels would have for her in the mornings, apparently unable to hear that she didn’t really care. Kat ate as much as she could manage, and then the girls were pulling into the driveway outside in the Tahoe Mina said she’d borrowed from her step-father.

Kat’s father hauled her suitcase out for her, then returned to the porch with her mother. Kat gave them both a quick hug and a, “Bye!”, then hurried out to the car, ready to go. Robyn started the engine back up, but Wren reached up from the back seat, where she was sitting with Kat, and touched her shoulder. Robyn seemed to understand, leaving the vehicle in park as Wren turned to Kat and said, “Go say goodbye.”

“I did,” Kat protested. “Let’s…”

“No.” She didn’t think she’d ever heard Wren interrupt somebody before. “Really say it.” Kat stared at her for a second, then rolled her eyes, sighed, and got back out. Wren probably just thought she would feel more homesick if she didn’t, which peeved her a bit, as she was usually the best of the three at treating her as an equal and not a little kid. But then, as they pulled away and Kat watched her house and parents get further and further away, realizing that, for the first time, it would be longer than just that evening before she saw them again, she couldn’t deny that she was glad to have gotten her kisses, and to have told them she’d miss them, even if she had felt silly doing it while she was certain the girls were watching.

She lasted perhaps two hours the first day before the movement of the car and the lack of rest from the night before, as she’d just been too excited, lured her to sleep. She woke up for just a moment in the middle of a storm, then fell asleep again. She re-woke slowly to an argument, a clear sky, and a curiosity as to just how long she’d been out.

“There’s bound to be some awesome bars there,” Robyn was saying. “It can’t be that hard to find wh…”

“Morning,” Wren said abruptly, marking the second time Kat had seen her interrupt. The other two fell silent as Kat stretched, looking around nervously. It felt odd, having been asleep around them, or really anyone not her family. She hoped she hadn’t been snoring, or talking in her sleep, or anything else embarrassing.

“So sorry we’re so boring to you,” Mina told her as she yawned again. When they’d first met, Kat would have been desperate to say that wasn’t so, that she was just still a little drowsy, but by then she knew to just roll her eyes and ignore her.

“Do you want to read?” Wren asked. “We’re gonna stop in a little bit anyway, so we can get your book out for you if you want.”

“No, it’s fine,” Kat said. “We can just talk. What were you guys talking about before?”

Robyn glanced over at Mina, then shrugged. “Nothing, really. We were trying to keep quiet so we wouldn’t wake you up.”

“You didn’t have to do that,” Kat blushed. “I can sleep through most anything.”

“Good to know,” Mina grinned.

There was still a long ride ahead of them, and Kat nodded off a couple more times, though never for too long at a time. Road trips, she was discovering, were not always terribly interesting. But finally, they pulled into the parking lot of what looked like a group of teepees, which, she had to admit, was at least intriguing. Robyn went inside to pay for a pair of them, and then they were off.

Kat was a little surprised at how much stuff the girls had brought with them, wondering if she appeared woefully unprepared with her single suitcase, which she was working to wrestle into the “room”. It felt rather odd, being inside what basically amounted to a concrete cone, but she couldn’t deny that it was… different. She supposed that was why they’d chosen it. She was sure her parents would have just drove on by, but the girls had seemed all at once to decide on it when they’d first seen the sign for it.

There was a small bathroom behind the main room that she gladly made use of while Wren, her roommate, started to unpack. Kat watched for a minute or two before finally asking, “Aren’t we just leaving in the morning?”

“It makes it feel like home,” Wren explained.

Kat thought about that for a moment. “Isn’t the point of a road trip to get away from home?”

Wren, of course, had the answer straight away. “You can never leave it fully behind. It’s better to just accept that.”

Kat unpacked a bit of her suitcase, but quickly got bored and decided it was good enough. “What are we going to do tonight?”

Wren paused for a second, then shrugged. “It’s hard to tell. I guess whatever Robyn decides.”

Kat nodded, wondering, not for the first time, if Wren ever got tired of Robyn making all the decisions. Wren was certainly capable of taking charge when she had to, but Kat assumed she just didn’t like to, seeing as she rarely did.

What they were going to do, it turned out, was go to a Chinese buffet first off. They’d driven through a McDonald’s for lunch what felt like ages before, and Kat had eaten only a chicken sandwich, so she was feeling quite hungry. It felt a lot like being back at college, and she was having the good time she’d expected the whole trip to be like. She should have expected the driving part to be lame, she had to concede - it was what happened after that made it worth it, clearly.

“What now?” Mina asked the inevitable once their bellies were all full. Kat had spotted a miniature golf course not too long before they’d reached the hotel, but she was a little afraid to suggest it. Was that something lame and silly that only kids did? She couldn’t help but hope one of the others would suggest it, though.

Instead, Robyn said, “I was talking to the receptionist, and there’s a semi-decent club not too far from here.” It was clear from her tone that this was not a suggestion.

Kat squirmed in her seat, wondering if, perhaps, Robyn had forgotten about her. She didn’t want to spoil the others’ fun, but she wasn’t sure what else to do, so she spoke up quietly with, “Umm… I don’t know that they’d let me into a club…”

“Of course they wouldn’t.” Wren shot Robyn a look, which was met and countered. “We could always go later,” she suggested.

“We can’t go too late,” Robyn replied. “We need to get moving in the morning, don’t we?”

“I can go back to the hotel,” Kat offered, happy to be able to provide such a simple solution, even if it wasn’t one she wanted them to take.

“Yeah, it’s probably just about your bedtime anyway,” Mina said. To her dismay, neither of the other girls said anything to contradict her, or even tried to change her mind.

“You have our cell numbers if you need us,” Wren said before they drove off, leaving her alone. She sat down on her bed with a sigh, holding out the remote control and flipping on the television. There weren’t many shows she really liked, and, of course, none of them were on. She tried to read for a little while, but couldn’t concentrate.

Finally, she got back up from the bed and walked outside of her teepee. It was just starting to turn into nighttime, the air still warm, but starting to hint that it would be cooling down in an hour or two. She sighed and stared up into the sky, watching the first few stars twinkle.

Another sort of twinkling caught her attention from the corner of her eye, and she turned to see fireflies dancing in the field behind the hotel. She giggled a little as she watched them, halfway tempted to go chase them, before reminding herself that she was on a road trip with a bunch of college students - she was way beyond doing something so silly. Instead, she went back inside and tried to watch the television again.

Within an hour, she was asleep.

She woke up still exhausted, her head aching, her mouth dry and her stomach empty and growling. She groaned, sure that she’d gotten sick on the first day of the trip, which was just going to make them regret bringing her along even more. As she sat up, however, she had something new to groan at, some strange, unfamiliar feeling around her waist.

Confused, she pulled her covers away from herself, trying to remember when she’d covered up in the first place. She was no longer wearing her ratty jeans and t-shirt. She was in one of the nightshirts she’d brought along, but rather than the sleep shorts she’d brought to go with them, she was wearing a diaper. Her heart stopped for a moment as she saw it. What was going on?! When had that happened?

She heard Wren stirring in the bed beside her, and quickly pulled her covers back around her. She sat there like a statue for several minutes, then slowly got up, dragging her sheets with her, wrapped around her. There was just a little light coming in from the window, enough to show her that the digital clock that was sitting on the dresser at the foot of the beds was unplugged. She couldn’t remember if it had been when she fell asleep or not. She saw the watch Wren always wore beside it, though, so she walked over and picked it up, surprised to see that it read 10:15 already. Weren’t they supposed to have left forty-five minutes ago?

She turned the watch over in her hands idly, worrying that the other girls had left them behind for some reason, or that she was throwing the whole schedule off. Wren began to move again, and Kat quickly set it back down, biting her bottom lip nervously as she tried to decide whether she should sit back down quickly and pretend she hadn’t been up, or try to grab some clothes and get changed in the bathroom in the hopes that Wren had nothing to do with her current outfit.

She went with the former, diving back into bed and attempting to throw her covers out over her in a somewhat even manner. “You up?” Wren asked sleepily a few seconds later.

Kat yawned. “Uh-huh.”

Wren nodded, started to get up with a stretch. “Ohh… Long night.”

“Did you guys have fun?” she asked, blushing as she realized how accusatory she must sound.

Wren blushed. “I’m sorry about that, Kat, it’s just…”

Kat shook her head. “No, it’s fine. I know you guys don’t want to spend every minute with me.” Wren gave her a sympathetic look, walking over to her and putting her hand on Kat’s knee, where it was sticking out from beneath the covers. Kat quickly withdrew her leg, now her turn to blush.

Just then, Robyn and Mina came bursting into the teepee, fully dressed. “What are you two doing in here?” Robyn asked.

Mina, on the other hand, was making a beeline for Kat. “You checked her yet?” she asked Wren, almost gleefully. Before Kat could let out even a squeak of protest, Mina had ripped her blankets away, revealing her diaper in its full glory, to the surprise of apparently nobody. “Wow, she actually looks dry.”

Kat was mortified. “Wh-What are you…?”

“You were right, kitten,” Mina said, giggling to herself. “You really can sleep through anything. We got back from the club last night, and you were soaking wet. We had to get you new sheets from the front desk, and make a run out to the store to get you some diapers so you wouldn’t do it again. Really, you should have told us ahead of time you wet the bed, love. Did you really think you could keep it a secret?”

Kat shook her head, tears stinging her eyes. “I’m not!” she protested.

“Oh, I’m pretty sure we’ve got some pretty compelling evidence saying otherwise…” Mina grinned, starting to pull out her phone. Kat gave out a sound like an injured animal, wanting nothing more than to drop dead right there.

“Stop it!” Robyn smacked Mina’s head, giving her a dirty look. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

Mina rolled her eyes. “Lighten up. It was just a joke.”

“A-a joke?”

“That I have pictures,” Mina clarified. “But you really did pee yourself like a three year old.”

“Go pack the van,” Robyn ordered her. Mina rolled her eyes, gave a mock salute, and left, not before pinching Kat’s bright red cheeks. “Kat, really, it’s not that big a deal.”

“Yes, it is!” she wailed, starting to cry despite herself.

“It really isn’t,” Wren insisted, putting her hand on Kat’s shoulder. “We don’t care, Kat, promise. We don’t think of you any different.” That made her cry all the harder - did that mean they saw her as someone likely to wet the bed all along? Wren sighed and pulled her into a hug, sitting with her for a long while until the rumblings of her empty stomach grew too painful for her to ignore, and too loud for anyone else to. “Let’s get you something to eat.”

“I’m not hungry,” Kat lied.

“Well, I am,” Wren said. “Come on, why don’t you get ready first?”

Kat nodded reluctantly, grabbing up a random outfit and heading to the bathroom. She pulled the diaper off angrily, throwing it into the tiny trash can, which it nearly filled up on its own, then took a quick shower and got dressed. She stood in the bathroom for several minutes before getting up the courage to face Wren again. She saw Wren’s suitcase sitting on her bed, neatly packed, and began to do the same with hers, throwing the few clothes she’d unpacked over the package of diapers that was now in there, until Wren came back out and they headed to the main teepee.

Kat was a lot hungrier than she’d thought, feeling physically weak at just the short walk they were taking. She ate several of the tiny boxes of cereal the hotel had laying out, and a few pieces of toast with various kinds of jelly. Robyn and Mina were busy talking about the route they were going to take, but Wren stayed silent with Kat, who was far too humiliated to even think of opening her mouth to do anything other than shove food into it.

The sun seemed strangely high in the sky as they went back to their rooms to get their stuff, but Kat didn’t think too much of it, as she was feeling rather disoriented as a whole. Things only got worse as Mina followed her into her room. “Is she in her diapers?” she asked Wren, as if Kat wasn’t standing right there.

“Don’t be an ass, Mina,” Wren shook her head.

“It’s my parents’ car,” Mina said. “And you never know when she’s going to fall asleep. We can’t have her peeing all over.”

“I swear to God, Mina, you a…” Wren started, sounding more angry than Kat had ever heard her. It made her happy in a strange sort of way to know that it was over her, but she knew that Mina had a point.

“It’s all right,” she sighed. “I understand.” She opened her suitcase and took out one of the diapers, taking it into the bathroom. She came back out a few minutes later, the diaper still in her hands, looking quite lost. “I… umm…”

“Honey, don’t worry about it. Mina is just being a pain.” Wren told her gently.

“No, I’m not. Do it for her, Wren.”

Wren shot her a dirty look, then shook her head. “Fine. Take our stuff out to the car and we’ll be there in a minute.” She waited for Mina to leave, then had Kat lay down and pull down her jeans and panties, and quickly diapered her.

“Thanks,” Kat said quietly.

“You were probably just sick,” Wren said. “I’m sure it was nothing. There’s really no reason to be so embarrassed, Kat.”

Kat just shrugged.

They reached the first grad school that afternoon. Kat had originally planned to go with them to tour the campus, but instead told them she wasn’t feeling well, and stayed behind in the hotel. Wren offered to stay as well, but Kat knew she really wanted to see the school, so she let her go.

“Are you feeling any better?” Wren asked when they got back early that evening. “We’re going to get some dinner, and then there’s this neat old theater near here, and we…”

“I called my dad,” she said. “He’s going to be on his way tomorrow morning.”

Wren sighed. “Kat, come on, don’t be like this. We really, really don’t care.”

Kat shook her head. “I want to go home.”

They drove back the next day. She told them they didn’t have to, but Robyn said it was no trouble. They met up with her dad back at the teepee hotel, where they all spent the night, since none of them could get back to where they needed to be before dark anyway.

It was around midnight when Kat woke up, glanced over at the bed Wren was supposed to be in, and found it empty. She tossed and turned for a few minutes, then finally got up and went outside. The Tahoe was gone, presumably still at whatever club had been so exciting a couple days before. She leaned against the door of the teepee with a sigh, her diaper crinkling beneath her nightshirt.

Wren hadn’t put her in it, of course. She told Kat over and over that she knew it was just a one time thing, and that she didn’t need them. And she had yet to actually use one of them. Even Mina had relented on forcing her to wear them in the car, since they’d all decided they didn’t need to tell her father about it, or have him find out. They’d left the package of diapers in the trash can of the last hotel. Kat, however, had retrieved it, stuffing it into her suitcase beneath all her clothes. She hadn’t unpacked at all that night, and been careful as she pulled out her nightclothes and pillow, making sure to keep the suitcase closed afterwards.

She felt so stupid. This whole thing had been a stupid idea, she knew. She wasn’t sure what she’d been trying to accomplish, exactly, or what she’d expected. But she should have known better than to try to spring all of this on her friends.

She’d loved the idea of diapers for a long, long time, as long as she could remember. She always known it was strange, though, and knew she couldn’t tell anybody. And then these three came along, people she could finally think of as her friends… If anyone would understand, they would, surely. But instead of just telling them, she had to try to trick them. And then the trick had worked too well. They were just so understanding, so kind - well, except for Mina, of course - and she knew she could never tell them it hadn’t been real. But she couldn’t keep pretending that it was real, either.

“I’m a terrible person,” she told herself. Not only had she peed on the hotel’s sheets and mattress, she’d made her friends clean her up - though she hadn’t intended to be asleep for all of that, for them to notice what had happened right away like that, and immediately fix it for her. She’d even made Wren, the person she thought of as her closest friend, diaper her. She didn’t know how to do it herself, true enough, as she hadn’t actually worn before, but still… She could tell Wren had felt so bad about it, and there was no way she could tell her not to worry, that she liked it.

Or she should have. She should have loved getting to wear diapers, and getting to wear them around her friends, and with their knowledge! That was what you were supposed to do with things you liked, wasn’t it, share them with your friends? She felt so confused. She knew she’d done something wrong, but she wasn’t sure what. Was it the act of wanting to like the diapers in the first place? She knew she shouldn’t, of course. She wasn’t a little kid anymore, and she knew she shouldn’t act like it. She even tried not to, but it just wouldn’t work.

After the next morning, she’d never talk to the girls again. They’d call her cell, but she wouldn’t answer. She told her teachers and her parents that the college classes had been too much for her still, so she could take a year off from them, giving the girls time to graduate. She was soon in college herself, of course, and eventually found new friends, though she never dared to tell any of them about her interest.

She threw the diapers away in the dumpster behind the main teepee that night, after changing back into her regular panties. They wouldn’t be the last diapers she ever got, though they were the last for a while, and the last she didn’t pay for herself.

But before she did that, out in the dark in her nightshirt and diaper, she looked over at the field, and saw the fireflies, still dancing. She paused for a moment, and then she ran off after them, giggling. For a few minutes, it didn’t matter if she was a kid trying to grow up too quickly, or someone too grown up, trying to ignore her responsibilities for a little while. If she had discovered how to capture that feeling like one of the fireflies she cupped gently between her hands, it would have been the most important lesson she could have learned, but, genius or not, that was something that would take her much longer to master.