June 15, 2016 by Lyn
The message is clear but it’s hard to hear
So listen to what we say
What do you know?
Events and upperclassmen had conspired to keep Jamian and Kai from completing their rounds of the Fifth Cohort, but with so many students missing, it seemed a good time to try.
Jamian, left to his own devices, abandoned Kailani’s alphabetical list and, instead, started at home. Phelen had moved Manira into his room, which meant she was around more often, but also meant it was trickier to get to her without upperclassmen around. Jamian decided to settle for with-her-Keeper, in a moment when the three of them, Phelen, Manira, and Jamian, were the only ones in the suite living room.
“So, how’re things?” he began casually, his body language aiming the question more at Manira than her Keeper.
She smiled warmly back at him, as if he’d said something immensely clever, although he could sense a tiny spike of apprehension from her. “‘Things’ are doing well,” she allowed.
“Very well,” Phelen agreed with a smirk. “How about with you?”
“Pretty good, I guess,” he replied. “Doing a little better with Ty.” He lifted his voice just the tiniest bit there, hoping he was implying the subtle question.
“Good,” she purred, running a possessive hand down Phelen’s arm. “It’s always good when these things work out well.”
“Yes, right,” Jamian agreed, nodding quickly. She seemed to be doing just fine, really; and he didn’t think Phelen would mistreat her, anyway. Not seriously, at least. “How’s the school treating you, in general?”
Again, there was the faintest hesitation, but she smiled warmly. “Can’t complain.”
That could mean anything. Nothing to complain about, or was she actually barred from doing so? Jamian glanced to Phelen for a moment, hoping to read a cue from him; he only revealed that little smirk he wore so often, although there was a certain feeling of smugness about him. It didn’t seem malevolent, however, so Jamian dismissed it as just Phelen being Phelen.
“All right, then,” he smiled. Maybe he could catch her without him around sometime. “I’ll leave you two alone.” The whole Fifth Cohort wasn’t Kept yet, not quite. There had to be someone he could talk to. Who was next on the list, anyway? Kendra was away, and he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted another run-in with Ofir anyway. That’d be Kylie, then. And Mark, probably; Eris was on the field trip, and Renata, but Rafe would still be around.
He excused himself before the couple moved on from the necking they’d started to something more intense, and headed down the hall to the suite in question. It was Ivette who answered the door though, much to his surprise.
“Hi,” she purred. “Come to visit me?”
“Um,” he stammered, reflexively looking her up and down, from her crop top to her Daisy Dukes. “Actually, I was looking for Kylie.”
“She’s busy with Mark,” Ivette pouted, but it was quickly replaced by an impish grin. “Do you really need her?”
“I’ll go finish up for her and send her out.”
Ack. “Um, thanks.” He waited in the doorway uncomfortably. Was his whole cy’ree like that? The evidence suggested as much, although, recalling their “meetings,” he realized he wasn’t the only one sometimes uncomfortable with the show. He was still mulling it over when Kylie appeared, wearing a man’s buttondown that covered just enough of her legs that he couldn’t tell what, if anything, was under it.
“Oh hi,” she said, putting on a smile. “Come on in.”
“Thanks. Um. I can come back some other time…?”
“No, no, you’re here now.” She flopped down on the recliner, idly straightening her mussed hair. “What’s up?”
“Kai.. Kailani, that is, and I, we were talking about…” not about panties. Couldn’t she be wearing pants?…making sure all the Fifth Cohort knew what was going on here.”
“Going on here?” she blinked. “In my suite?”
“No, no,” he said hurriedly. He didn’t really want to know too much about that! “Here, in the school.”
“Oh, yes. Well… what is going on here, then? I mean, if I didn’t know, I wouldn’t know that I didn’t know.”
He blinked, processing that one. “Well. You know about Keeping, I guess, right? And about the babies?”
“Yes and yes,” she agreed, folding her arms and sticking out her tongue in distaste.
Okay, what else did he know about? He scrambled for something. “And the Laws about what you can and can’t do to someone else’s Kept?”
“To someone else’s Kept?” She crossed her legs, possibly nervously, but definitely distractingly, and he almost missed the rest of what she said. “No, what’s all that about?”
He coughed. “Well, the way I understand it, it’s part of the Sanctity that says you’re not supposed to mess with other people’s things or their Home, right? So, say, hitting someone else’s Kept isn’t okay, but talking to them or, say, carrying them to get medical attention should be fine.”
“Carrying them… isn’t that what Kai did?” Kylie squinted, crinkling her nose adorably. “I heard she got… in trouble.”
“And if she’d known it wasn’t against the rules, Aggie wouldn’t have been able to do that to her. It’s why we want to spread the information.”
“Well, that’s nice of you. Is there more?”
“Well, the best way is to see what everyone knows. Is there something you know, you think, that others don’t?”
“I don’t think so?” She tilted her head back, raising two fingertips to her mouth and nibbling on them as she pondered. “Being Kept is nice.”
“Well… thanks.” She couldn’t be Kept now; she’d let him in. And he wasn’t going to get any help here. ”We’ll bring you a copy of the notes when we’re done.”
“Okay,” she agreed. “Thanks.”
Well, that had been a waste. Who could he bother next? Kai had taken all of the really smart members of the Fifth with her. Well, there was Marjolaine; without Kendra around she’d likely be bored, although Alexander was probably remedying that. Or he could talk to Shera.
He’d have to get her away from Uberto, though, and Uber already seemed to have it out for him. Jaya could probably get an invitation into that suite, but Jamian wasn’t that desperate. He’d go find Marje first. He knew where her room was, from Kai’s notes; he might as well try there now.
Something went right; she was in her room, by herself, studying and not particularly keen to continue doing so. He seemed to qualify as “safe, interesting distraction” for her, so he ran through the spiel in the safety of her room. Unfortunately, she didn’t have anything to add, although it seemed like Alexander hadn’t tried to Keep her, which was a refreshing change.
Well, he knew Melchior and his friends were good guys. So, who was left who wouldn’t get his ass kicked for looking at? Bowen, Finnegan, Shera. All of those were in that dangerous ass-kicking category. Wyatt, but he wasn’t at all sure he even wanted to help that bigoted jerk. Everyone else was on vacation, except… Yngvi.
Well, Shahin’s friend ought to be safe. Resisting the urge to straighten his shirt or change into something more presentable, he headed for the blond boy’s room.
“Just a minute,” came Yngvi’s distracted voice in response to his knock. It was actually several minutes before the door opened, and Yngvi stood before him, impeccably dressed and groomed as always. “Yes?”
He swallowed a frustrating desire to go brush his hair. “Hi. Uh, we’ve been talking to all the Fifth Cohort… can I come in, please?”
“We?” Yngvi asked, glancing pointedly at the empty hall behind Jamian. “You can come in. Who’s we?”
He stammered uncomfortably as he stepped in. “Kai and I, I mean, but Kai’s gone on the field trip, so right now it’s just me, though Sheen was helping, too…”
The other boy seemed to relax, although without Jamian’s empathic senses he’d never have known. “Alright, then. What’s this all about?”
“Trying to collect information and spread it back out, so that we all know as much as we can about this place. The upperclassmen can’t or won’t tell us much, but if we put together everything we do know…”
Yngvi nodded thoughtfully. “Okay, I’ll grant it’s a good idea. So what do you know?”
Jamian began detailing his knowledge, referring back regularly to the notes Kai had written up. It was a good thing, he supposed, that Kylie and Marje hadn’t been able to give him anything new; his notes weren’t going to be nearly as good as hers.
He had just gotten to rather uncomfortably detailing the “graduation requirements” when Yngvi’s expression went from incredulous to pained, and he bend over, clutching his head.
“What? I mean, I know, it’s bad, but… Oh!” This was no reaction to his words, this was something else entirely. He must be Changing! “Come on, we’d better get you to the clinic.”
“I’m fine,” he grated out. “Just a rather sharp headache. A very sharp headache. I’m fine.” Jamian wondered if he noticed where his sharp headache was making his hands bleed.
“No, man, look at your hands. We’ve gotta go, now.”
“My… oh.” He blinked at the red trickles on his hands, and sighed. “I suppose it was inevitable. Tell me I don’t have rabbit ears?”
“Not yet at least, but I can’t tell. The doctor will know – come on.”
Finally, Yngvi hauled himself to his feet, two short horns already visible through his skull. “To think,” he muttered, “I was worried about fitting in.”