October 8, 2012 by Lyn
Wednesday, October 1, 2003
Pay attention. People should pay attention.
Timora had actually given him the card. Ambrose carried it folded in his back pocket. It was a nice reminder – well, not a nice reminder, but it served to bring his mind back to it.
When he had been Regine’s, he had watched the cameras, and watched the emotions in the halls. When he’d seen something bad enough, he’d pointed it out to her, and always received the same response. “Very good, Ambrus, thank you.” Even the time the Very good had led to serious medical attention.
He ran his finger around the collar of his gym shirt. Three years “free,” three years in Addergoole, had not been enough to completely retrain himself.
“You know, if you wanted…” Thessaly had come up beside Ambrose without him noticing. Pay attention, indeed. “I know you don’t mind boys. Lucian and I would love playing with you.” She mimicked his gesture, tracing a collar around his neck with her fingernails. “I bet you’d like the collar. I bet you’d like being under me.”
Thessaly had come to Addergoole in Year Six. She’d never seen him playing Regine’s pet. She’d seen him Own, she’d seen him playing the game. But she didn’t know what he had been.
Her ignorance didn’t make him feel any better. “I’m not the sort you can collar.” He stepped away from her, leaving her pouting at him.
He made sure to leave plenty of space between them. Thessaly was not the sort that pouted without a plan.
Pay attention. Ambrose spared enough attention to his surroundings to be sure Thessaly was out of arm’s reach, and dropped down into his senses.
He could remember, if he thought very hard back, when he first started to sense emotions. At first, it did him little good – Dad’s mad. Teacher’s worried. Lee’s happy. As he passed from owner to owner, he learned to refine the reading and then, as he got older, learned to actually change the emotions he was reading.
Today, he didn’t want to change anything.. He just wanted to, as a wise girl had advised him, pay attention.
He sank into the emotion-sense. Next to him, maybe five feet away, Thessaly was stung by his rejection and plotting her next attack. Not too far from her, he could feel Abaddon. Calm, that was good. ‘Baddon had a very strong calm when he had it. It almost washed out other emotions near him.
Nothing could wash out Liliandra. Lolly had a bubbly personality that was reflected in her emotions – sharp, curious, bouncing from target to target. It felt, today, like she had taken an interest in Shander.
Shander, for his part, was in fight-or-flight mode, and aiming, it seemed, for flight. Ambrose didn’t blame him.
Aside from Lolly, none of those were Kept, not now, and Lolly had accepted the collar willingly. He stretched out his senses further, reaching through his class-mates, reaching for a seed of emotion, nestled in a corner.
His eyes flew open.
There, in the corner of the gym, was an emotion like enough to his own to feel like a mirror. There. He searched out a face, through the classmates in the way, the roil of juvenile emotions and active bodies. There…
His eyes met the skinny boy’s. Not his son, probably not. That would have been too much. Because in Speed’s eyes, in his emotions, Ambrose felt a remembered calm, a remembered comfort.
The collar around the boy’s neck was thick, and tall, and leather, and the feeling it gave him was one Ambrose had not felt in years. Peace. It left him feeling at peace.
Pay attention. He’d thought Timora had meant to the Kept Ninthies. Perhaps he needed to start closer to home.
This outtake was written in response to Rix’s donation and request for “more Ambrose.”
For every $5US donated, I will write 300 words on the character or situation of your choice. In addition, every donation will bring you to a small snippet of story – a new snippet every Wednesday!