August 17, 2015 by Lyn
Reid was sitting cross-legged on an overstuffed leather Ottoman in Regine’s living room, his storklike limbs jutting out in a way he’d long since learned to be unselfconscious about, his consciousness slipping through the passageways of the school. In front of him, sitting comfortably in the matching armchair, Regine waited.
Reid blinked back into himself. “Everything appears to be holding up properly,” he told her, the lines of the wards glowing in his mind like a wiring diagram. “The parts that are meant to have some flex are being pushed and poked at, of course.”
She frowned, and he repeated the same mantra he’d been telling her for five years. “They’re teenagers, ‘Gene, and twenty-somethings, young, bright, curious, and determined. If we make the controls too restrictive, either the wards will shatter, or their minds will.” He’d seen both happen. It was his expertise with such things that had brought her to recruit him in the first place, and why she listened to him. Still, her frown deepened.
“I don’t want another case like Aella sh’Rachel,” she told him. Again. He frowned back at her.
“Aella was both unique, and a First Cohort. We’ve fixed the problems that caused her situation.” He walked a thin line with her; Regine did not approve of defiance, but certain things had to be handled delicately to ensure that her pet project didn’t blow up in all their faces. “If anyone really starts challenging the precautions, we’ll deal with them individually, as we have before,” he added. He minded his tone of voice, keeping it level and calsm, with neither pleading or controlling suggested; subconsciously, even Regine responded to such things.
Her expression, such as it was, softened, so he added, “And you know I keep an ‘eye’ on students in my classes. I haven’t seen anything to be concerned about – except your Student, and I assume you’re going to handle her.”
“Of -” The door to her master suite opened, and Ambrus stepped out, straightening the cuffs of his shirt. He seemed to not notice them until Regine finished her sentence, smoothly – “of course, Reid. I’ll take care of her. Good evening, Ambrus.”
Having jumped at “of course,” by the time she greeted him, the boy had his game face on; Reid admired his ability to mask his emotions so adeptly. “Good evening, my Lady. Doctor Solomon.” He bowed deeply, as if they were at some formal event and not in his own living room.
“Hello,” Reid greeted him, relieved. His presence often softened Regine’s sharper edges.
“Were you going out, Ambrus?” Regine asked, an edge to her question that startled Reid. He looked at the boy again, and was surprised to see him dressed in what he was pretty sure were no longer referred to as “cruisin’” clothes.
Ambrus seemed almost as surprised, though he covered it well. He straightened his cuffs again, eyes down. “I do have things to attend to,” he answered nonchalantly.
“Tonight?” Regine asked, sounding tenser by the sentence. Reid had never seen this sort of discomfort in her before; certainly not since she acquired the boy; he dipped lightly into their minds, curious.
Regine’s mind was, as always, foreign, alien, more like an immensely complicated diagram than a human mind. What he could determine was that the part of her diagram she labeled “Ambrus” was out of kilter, no longer feeding properly into the rest of her carefully-ordered patterns.
And he… was confused, a little out of sorts, a little guilty feeling, but also a little defiant. Two petite girls hung in the forefront of his mind, one pale and black-haired, one sweetly rosy and red-haired. Want, need, hunger, all the feelings Reid expected to see were all there, but defiance and confusion were in the forefront.
And then he caught Reid’s probing, and his emotions spiked nervously. A dark, black image/feeling of Regine, angry, stern and foreboding, almost a nightmare version of the Director, sprang to the forefront of his mind.
The boy thought he was going to tell on him! Reid wouldn’t put himself in the center of that storm for anything, but he supposed there was no way that Ambrus would know that. He cleared his throat. “Well, if you’re done with me, Director, I’ll be heading back to my apartment.”
She nodded, a little too crisply. “Of course, thank you, Doctor Solomon. Have a good evening.”
“You, too, Regine. Ambrus?” He held the door open, catching the boy’s eye and winking deliberately.
A brief startled glance, and then gratitude. “Thanks, Doctor.” Ambrus hurried to follow him out the door.