May 25, 2016 by Lyn
Nothing more than feelings
She was already Jaya, so she went that way to Professor VanderLinden’s office after PE. She was going to miss seeing Kendra in Eperu, and, considering the mess she’d made of things trying to jasfe Kailani’s hugr, she was a bit nervous about spending two weeks studying the new Word, but, it seemed, after two weeks, they were going to move on to their next Word whether they wanted to or not. At least Professor VanderLinden (she couldn’t bring herself to think of him as Mike, not with the slow sly feeling all of cy’Linden had when they said his name) VanderLinden would know how to handle it if she got out of control with the emotions thing again.
She realized as she was heading towards the Professor’s office that she had a shadow, a fox-eared redheaded shadow. At least out in the hall, Kylie had clothes on.
“Hi!” she greeted her perkily. “Are you headed to Professor VanderLinden’s office, too? I wanted to have Hugr with Mark last week, but I guess they wanted to split us up, so here I am.” Oh, gods. She was going to be in hugr class with a hot redhead with a terrifying boyfriend. She was doomed.
“Yeah,” she smiled, digging for small talk. “Last week I was digging in the dirt with Professor Pelletier.”
“And now you get to dig for emotional dirt,” she grinned. “Fun!”
Fun. Sure. She raised her hand to knock on VanderLinden’s door, and had to stop herself from knocking on him as it opened.
“Kylie, Jaya,” he greeted them. “Class will be in the pool area. Feel free to go change if you need to.”
She gaped. Oh, hell, no, swimsuits?
“I… don’t know how to swim,” Kylie admitted.
“That won’t be a problem, we’ll only be in the hot tub,” the professor assured her.
Oh, good. Jaya sighed. “I’ll be back in a few, Professor.” She dashed off to the Store, glad she was doing this part alone. Ty probably would have put her in some stupid little bikini thing.
She could just change back, she knew, but she would have to get used to this girl thing eventually; Ty would keep pushing her until she did. Besides, the girl form would be a lot less obvious about things like how much Kylie would distract her. Him. “Gah!”
He… damnit, not helpful… she grabbed a modest-seeming swimsuit off the rack, eyeballed her size, and hurried back to the locker room to change yet again, determinedly not looking anywhere near Kylie. This was going to be an awkward two weeks.
As they stepped out, she saw that Kylie did indeed have a little bikini thing, but it was anything but stupid on her. Following behind her distracted Jaya so much that she didn’t even notice the professor until Kylie slid into the hot tub beside him. His bare shoulders and chest rose up out of the water, and she had a funny feeling that she suspected was her body’s way of telling her the girl form was no better of an idea.
She focused as best she could on magic, although focusing on hugr wasn’t the most helpful of things. At least, since she didn’t have Idu, they weren’t talking about Knowing emotions; although VanderLinden being VanderLinden, she was pretty sure he knew exactly what was going on with her, and had probably picked the hot tub on purpose.
In a desperate bid to stop thinking about her emotions, Jaya asked, “Professor, have you ever heard of frodleikr?”
His brow furrowed. “I can’t say that I have… is it a place?”
“No, I, um, we think it’s a Word.”
“We tested you on all the Words of the Shenera Endraae. Where did you hear of this?”
“Um.” All the Words of the Shenera Endraae. Well, she was already getting the Don’t Be Evil lecture once a week as it was. “I was trying to jasfe Kai, well, her emotions, and when I tried to say hugr, frodleikr came out instead. Then everything went messy.”
“‘Everything went messy’, hrm?” He arched one pale brow. “What kind of ‘messy’?” He turned to Kylie briefly with an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry, we’ll get back to the lesson shortly. While we talk, you can go ahead and practice your Idu on us.”
“Oh! Sure,” she grinned, and began murmuring under her breath.
Trying to squish her dread, Jaya swallowed and tried again. “Kai said all the oxygen in the air turned to CO2? We told Dr. Regine, and she sent Professor Akatil to fix it.” She knew she was getting defensive, knew everyone else in the room knew it, but really! It wasn’t her fault her Words were all screwy, was it?
“Interesting, very interesting. Why don’t you try it now, then?”
“Um… another jasfe, or something else?” She thought about Conrad’s collar and winced, glancing at Kylie. Every time she tried this, someone got hurt.
“Jasfe will be fine. I’d like to see what you’re talking about firsthand.”
Kylie, meanwhile, was giving her a bit of a funny look. Oh, no. What was she reading, there? Jaya gulped. “Yes, sir. Aah…” Alpha, let’s go with Alpha. “Jasfe frodleikr alpha…”
“It doesn’t seem to be doing anything,” the professor noted, carefully looking around the room. “Perhaps something stronger?”
“Yes, sir.” If there was no frodleikr around that needed repairing, would nothing happen no matter what? Jaya found herself both hoping for that – Kylie would be safe! – and dreading it – god, the embarrassment! – as she murmured “jasfe frodleikr gamma…”
A few moments passed, with only the gentle gurgling of the water breaking the silence, and then VanderLinden smiled again. “You see? It’s nothing. You must have confused it with something else.”
She sighed. She knew it wasn’t nothing. Conrad’s hair standing on end and his scorched lungs hadn’t been nothing. But she was beginning to really agree with Kai – the teachers weren’t going to help them. “Yes, Professor VanderLinden.” She and Kai could experiment with it later.
“That’s settled, then. Now, Kylie; what was Jaya feeling, there? Describe how you sensed it.”
“Well, first she was sort of a dark grey and all cloudy, and then it got worse, darker, with some kind of icky black lines through it, and then it lightened to a sort of blue color while she was doing the Workings. Then… then she turned grey again, and then purple.”
Jaya blinked, a bit confused by the combination, and twitched the tip of her grey tail up out of the water to look at.
“Most people, at most times, will be a mass of different, sometimes conflicting emotions,” the professor nodded. “Go ahead and pick one of the colors you saw. You’re skilled with Qorawiyay? Shape it bigger, more intense.”
“Hey…” Jaya complained.
“Hrmm, the blue was pretty. Sort of a sky color. Qorawiyay hugr Jaya…” Jaya tensed, but found it hard to keep the tension as a feeling of peace washed over her.
“Aah…” she sighed, leaning back into the water. Everything was lovely; she’d done exactly what she needed to do.
“Now, Jaya.” The professor’s voice came to her as if through cotton, and she found it difficult to concentrate on. “Describe to Kylie how she made you feel.”
“Heavenly,” she murmured. “Ah… accomplished. ‘That job’s done’ sort of feeling?”
“Contentment, satisfaction with a job well done?” VanderLinden smiled broadly. “It’s a nice one. Now, can you say Aistrigh, Kylie? You should be able to take that and change its color, its meaning, but not its intensity as you did before.”
Jaya shivered, trying to ignore the thought that she was being punished for asking the wrong questions.
“I think so. What color should I make it?”
“Whatever color you’d like, dear.”
“There were traces of a deep fuschia, under most of it? I liked it.”
“That’ll be just fine.” Was the professor smirking? He couldn’t be. He could… He could do anything he wanted, as long as he kept doing it with his shirt off. Wow. Jaya swallowed hard, and sunk down further in the water.
“Could we, ah, go for a less pink color?” she squeaked. She didn’t think Ty would appreciate the thoughts she was having right now.
“Of course. Kylie, if you please, something else?”
“Hrmm… how about purple?”
Damnit, she was going to do this! She was going to take care of the problems! She was going to rescue Kendra! She was out of the hot tub and halfway to the door when the Professor called after her.
“Jaya! Come back here. Kylie, a nice light blue perhaps?”
She ground to a halt, confused. Things were okay. There was no need to go stomping off after anything. She slunk back into the hot tub, confused, feeling a bit like a puppet.
“Kylie, you’ve been manipulating Jaya here for the past few minutes. She danced to your tune. How does that feel?”
It sucks, Jaya didn’t say.
Kylie giggled. “It felt pretty cool.”
“I hope that illustrates to both of you how dangerous this power is that I’ll be teaching you. Jaya felt one aspect of the hazard it poses; Kylie another.”
“Nnngg.” Jaya slipped as far into the water as she could, as Kylie blinked at the professor.
“Yes, it is a powerful tool. But it can be all too easy to grow accustomed to its use, to rely on it, to use it continually. It’s a slippery slope and it doesn’t end well.”
It still sounded a bit, Jaya thought, like trying to describe purple having never seen it, but Professor VanderLinden at least sounded like he knew what orange sounded like. She left the class unable to quite look at Kylie and wondering what the Professor had really been up to.