August 25, 2015 by Lyn
Handful of complaints but I can’t help the fact
that everyone can see these scars
Jamian woke to Ty’s worried face no more than a few inches from his own. His head felt blissfully free of pain, and, even better, free of anyone else’s emotions, but it also felt clogged, as if he had cotton stuck in his ears.
Clogged or no, Ty’s cute nose close enough to tweak was a very nice thing to wake up to, and, aside from the cottony feeling, he felt good, happy, almost giddy. He grinned up at his Keeper. “If we keep doing this,” he teased, “I’m going to think you’re just trying to get me on my back.”
Ty laughed, sounding a little startled. “We can’t have that, can we?” He kissed Jamian’s forehead, a gesture more tender than he was expecting. “I guess you’re going to have to stop getting hit over the head with these Changes, then, love, and make me come up with a new excuse to get you on your back.”
There seemed to be something a little wrong with Ty’s expression, but as cloudy as he was, Jamian couldn’t tell quite what it was. He reached out, stroking that soft cheek, and tried to find the emotional connection and understanding he’d had before… well, at lunch. The time between lunch and now seemed a little bit lost.
“Ah-ah,” scolded a voice from one side of him. Without thinking, Jamian snatched his hand back, tucking it behind his back, and then instantly regretted it. It didn’t take any magic powers at all to see the hurt cross Ty’s face.
He reached out cautiously for Ty’s hand, and, when Ty didn’t move towards him, he grabbed that hand with both of his, squeezing it gently. Only when Ty smiled at him, though it was a shaky little smile, did he look around to see who was watching them enough to scold him.
Everyone, it seemed. Well, in the small room – they weren’t in Ty’s room or his own, they were in Professor VanderLinden’s office – were crowded not only the Professor, but Professor Solomon as well; Ivette, the heart-stoppingly gorgeous redhead; and, for no good reason he could fathom, Phelen. Professor Solomon was probably the one who had scolded him; he was sitting on a chair next to the bed where Jamain was laying.
…wait, what? He propped himself up on an elbow, narrowly avoiding bonking his head into Ty’s, and looked around again. Yes, he and Ty were on a bed, Ty kneeling straddling him, partially blocked from the office by a screen that had been folded back to allow more people to see…
“God,” he groaned, and fell back to the bed. All these people, and here he was, straddled by his Keeper, unconscious, on a bed in a professor’s office. He didn’t even want to think about thinking about why Professor VanderLinden had a bed in his office.
No-one said anything, and he realized after a moment that they weren’t going to. Someone shifted a little, cloth brushing against cloth, but no-one was speaking. “What’s going on?” he asked, refusing to look at anyone. The blankets on the bed were velvet and satin. Ty smelled like lavender. No-one was answering.
“You came into your, well, a power,” Ty answered gently, his voice straining. Jamian reached to find out what he was feeling again, and again,
“No, Jamian,” Professor Reid said gently, and he felt himself gently rebuffed, as if he’d run into a padded wall.
Ty nodded agreement. “Be careful, hon,” he murmured. “From what they tell me, you came into it too quickly, kind of explosively. Shooting off fireworks, Joff had said. He nodded mutely, hoping Ty would go on. “It was kind of scary. It seemed like you couldn’t tell your emotions from other people’s.” Remembering the storm of love and hate and panic that had washed over him, Jamian nodded again. “But I guess that you can, if you’re not careful, uh,” he paused, and Jamian finally looked up at him. He was pale, unhappy, worried-looking – and he was looking over at Professor VanderLinden.
“When you’re not in control of your power,” the Professor said unhappily, “you can start pulling in energy from people around you as well as tasting their emotions. Literally eating their life force.”
“Their what?” Jamian stared at him. “You’re kidding, right? Like some sort of vampire?”
“If you get good enough,” Ivette answered, “you can transfer energy from one person to another. If someone’s doing a lot of really intense Working, they can use it to fuel that when their own energy runs out.”
That just made Professor VanderLinden frown even deeper. “Ivette, draining energy like that is a Nedetakaei trick. It’s why their Daeva are called Devourers.”
Jamian was too hung up on “eating their life force” to concern himself too much with Nedetakaei, devourers, or Workings. “Is that why Marje…” he gulped softly, “is that why all those girls were passing out?” Oh, God, he really was turning into a monster.
“We’re fairly certain it wasn’t you, or at least not all you,” Professor Solomon told him. Jamian nodded, trying to look as if that reassured him. He didn’t, however, feel very reassured at all.
“You don’t know?” he asked, twisting to look at the professor. “How… I mean… are there other students that do that?”
“Well,” Professor Solomon answered, maddeningly calmly, “As Ivette pointed out, several of the students have the ability. Well, most Daeva have it as well, from what I understand – both those in the Shenera Endraae and those in the Nedetakaei. It’s a matter of using it or not.”
Jamian nodded, beginning to calm down.
“I think it’s a matter of intent, too,” Ivette argued. “I mean, yeah, it’s bad to suck someone dry, especially if you’re doing it just because you want the rush.” She blushed a little bit, very prettily, and Jamian wondered why. He reached, wanting that understanding back…
“Not yet, Jamie.” Professor Reid stopped him again. “Give it a little time to rest. It’s like a muscle you overused.” He turned to Ivette. “I think the comparative ethics debate can wait, don’t you, Ivette?”
“I don’t know,” the redhead argued. ”Sometimes I think this place could use more conversations on morals.”
“Perhaps it just needs people who have morals,” Phelen hissed. It was a funny comment, coming from him; funnier still was the way it seemed to sting Ivette.
“Maybe it could,” Professor Solomon agreed. ”We could schedule a time to discuss the ethics of power use.” That seemed to silence Phelen, but it quieted Ivette as well.
Professor VanderLinden cleared his throat. ”That would probably be a very good idea. Reid, would you like to sit in on a meeting with my Students on this topic?”
Professor Solomon’s expression moved slowly from surprise to a warm, pleased smile, and he batted off Jamian’s “reach” without blinking an eye. “I’d like that a lot, Mike. I think it’s a brilliant idea.” Unable to try out his new sense, Jamian relied on the old ones, looking slowly around the room at the strange gathered crowd.
Ivette had a tiny puzzled frown on her face, as if she wasn’t sure if she’d gotten what she wanted, or if she’d gotten herself into something completely different and unexpected. Phelen looked smug and amused, like he’d been playing the situation for this result. Jamian wondered who his Mentor was.
Reid looked equal parts pleased and smug himself, and Professor VanderLinden looked worried. Very worried, as if there was a lot more going on here than anyone was saying.
What else is new? This tension didn’t seem as if had anything to do with him, despite his fireworks and life-force sucking and… oh, God, life-force sucking. Did I really hurt Marje? Am I turning into a real monster? How do I stop it?
He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. He’d find a way not to be a monster. Somehow.
Ty shifted on top of him, reminding him that he hadn’t finished looking around the room. He looked up at his Keeper.
“Perhaps we should talk to the other teachers about making this an across-the-board policy,” Professor Solomon suggested. “I’m sure some of them would be very interested in morals seminars.”
Morals seminars. He wanted to laugh about it, but Ty’s expression was so strange. Pained and worried and… he reached again, and this time Professor Solomon was too distracted to stop him.
Inadequacy flooded over him, miserable, self-loathing inadequacy. Not good enough. Not something enough. And around all of that was a massive maelstrom of conflicting emotions, all of them seeming volatile and none of them seeming to make any sense.
“Jamian.” The wild mess of Ty’s emotions went away, and Jamian was encased in cotton again. “You’re going to have to stop doing that until Mike – Professor VanderLinden – and Ivette can teach you how to shut it off,” Professor Solomon scolded gently.
“But…” he stopped himself before he could say there’s something wrong with Ty. He didn’t think that would go over well right now. He sighed, and fell back against the bed. “How long will it take to learn?”
“Depends,” Ivette purred, “on how fast you can learn.”
Above him, Ty tensed. Jamian bit his lip. He was pretty sure Ivette was hitting on him; he was pretty sure she hit on everyone, the way most people breathed. Delicious as she was… she wasn’t important. He wrapped his arms around Ty and hugged him close. “I’ll learn really fast,” he told her, “I have to.” In Ty’s ear, as softly as he could, he whispered. “I love you.”
For once, he wasn’t surprised when she started crying.