June 28, 2016 by Lyn
You never know who’s planning to jack
That’s why I’m trying to warn you people
Watch your back!
Jamian bustled about the suite Sunday morning, full of excitement. The field trip was due back today, and he couldn’t wait to talk to his friends again, hear about everything they’d seen and done, and find out who had won the final challenge
“Hey.” He hadn’t even realized Ty was awake yet until he was there, standing in the living room in his sweatpants, looking upset.
“Hey,” he replied, his smile not quite cracking as he took in Ty’s expression. “You wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?”
“Well, the other side was empty. What’s got you up and so eager?”
“Everyone comes back today. I want to see them, talk to them about the trip. I mean, it won’t be quite like having gone, but, y’know? So hey, lemme make you some breakfast and you’ll feel better.”
“Breakfast sounds nice,” Ty allowed. “Don’t you think their boyfriends and friends will want to see them, too?”
“Well, yeah, of course they will… wait, ‘and friends’?” Jamian paused on the way into the kitchen. “I’m one of their friends!”
“Their crews, then,” Ty temporized. “Give them a little space, Jame’.”
“Okay, okay. I guess you’ve been here long enough you know how those trips go, huh?”
“Yeah, I’ve had my share.” He plopped down on the stool, leaning his still-naked chest on the kitchen counter. “They’re always fun.”
“Not really dissuading me,” Jamian joked as he rummaged around in the refrigerator.
“Yeah, well,” Ty snapped, “I think you ought to give them some space.”
“Huh? Wait, you’re not just talking about today, are you?”
Ty shook his head. “No. Jame’, people are starting to talk.”
“Talk? What do you mean, talk?”
“Didn’t you say something about breakfast?” Ty stalled. “Look. You know that I’m responsible for you, right?”
“I’m working on it… how do you want your eggs? And, yeah?”
“Over easy. So, if you go messing with upperclassmen, they can call me to task for your shenanigans?”
Jamian nearly dropped an egg. “What? Messing with upperclassmen?”
“Ofir,” Ty answered blandly. “Agatha.”
“I haven’t been messing with them…” Had he? Did his conversations really count?
“Are you sure?” Ty pressed.
“Well… kind of? Mostly? I mean, what are we talking about, here?”
“They – well, primarily Ofir, but he’s getting the others up in arms about it – they think that the Fifths are organizing. That you’re organizing them.”
“Organizing? Me?” Hell, that hadn’t sounded the least bit innocent. He’d really have to work on that.
“You really need to work on your guilty-face, Jamian. You look like I just caught you with your hand in the cookie jar.” Ty paused. “Did I?”
“Agatha’s cookie jar? Nonono…”
“Ew. No. Nobody wants to touch that mess.”
“Okay then…” He fought to relax, under the strain of his own nerves and the feeling that he’d done something wrong emanating from his Keeper, washing over him in waves. “So what exactly are we talking about?”
“They think you and your redheaded friend are up to something. They’re worried you’re going to interfere, rock the boat.”
“We’re just trying to learn. This is a school, right? Isn’t that the point?”
Ty’s posture shifted, and he leaned forward over the counter. Jamian got the sense that he was suddenly paying quite a bit of attention; he was smiling, although it was a small, curious sort of expression. “Trying to learn. Hrmm. What are you trying to learn?”
Jamian swallowed the lump in his throat. “Everything, really. The Laws. Belonging. Sanctity. How it all works, how it interacts, what it means for us.”
“There are some,” Ty paused, and glanced at Shiva’s door thoughtfully. It stayed closed, and he turned back to Jamian. “Some who would say that you learn everything you need to know from your Keeper.”
“But we all have different Keepers, and learn different things. When our Keepers are gone, we’ll have to make sense of it all. That’s what we’re trying to do – put the pieces together and see the big picture.”
“And what are you seeing, then?”
“Hopefully, the plain physics of how it works, without the emotional barrage of Belonging coloring everything. By putting together everyone’s experiences, we… Kai called it ‘understanding the phenomenon’.”
Ty tilted his head. “She’s very bright, isn’t she, your little friend?”
“She’s probably the smartest person I’ve ever met,” he confirmed, nodding. Where was Ty going with this?
“It might be a good thing if she can learn to act less bright. Rozen thinks she’s clever. So do Cay and Allyse.” He paused. “Aggie doesn’t, but then, Aggie beat her.”
“I hear Agatha’s not stupid either,” Jamian muttered. “But… other people are talking about her?”
“And you,” Ty affirmed. “You’ve really got Ofir’s panties in a twist.” It didn’t sound, entirely, like Jamian’s Keeper was disapproving of his actions.
“Uh.” Was “thanks” appropriate? “Right.” Ofir was one thing; Ofir he could handle, he hoped. On the other hand… “Rozen and Acacia?”
“I’d worry more about Ib, if I were you. Ib wants to ‘deal with you.’ I can keep reminding him that means dealing with me, but Jame’, I want to know what you’re getting me into, if you’re getting me into something.” He made a dismissive gesture. “Rozen and Acacia are more your friend’s problem.”
Ib. Callista’s Keeper. Jamian swallowed hard. “I don’t think it’s a big deal; we’re just getting, y’know, everyone’s contribution, and sharing them. I mean, we’re not threatening anyone or anything…”
Ty frowned. “There are people who really thrive on keeping their Kept ignorant, Jamian. They’d find it quite a threat.”
“How? I mean, they’re already Kept, right? It’s not like knowing how Keeping works is going to stop that.”
Ty looked a bit mollified. “Well, true. Although there are some parts of the Bond that work better if your Kept is ignorant of them.”
“And what about Sanctity? Are there really Keepers that don’t want their Kept to know that they no longer have a threshold? That they can’t invite people over their Keeper’s threshold?”
Ty, to his credit, looked a little abashed as Jamian listed off things he himself had never explained. “Probably not,” he admitted.
“I’m really not sure what their beef is, then,” Jamian shrugged. Better to keep his mind on that for now, and not dwell on the idea of those people watching him, talking about him. The thought… not dwell on it, Jamian!… right. Easier said than done.
“They don’t like anything that rocks the boat.” Ty paused. “I won’t tell you not to, right now. But you might want to warn your friend.”
“I’ll do that,” he nodded. And he would. What had Ty just said, about dealing with Jamian meaning dealing with him? Kai didn’t have that protection, he realized. Sure, her crew would help her… wouldn’t they? It wasn’t the same, though.
“Good.” The rest of breakfast passed peacefully enough, but it was almost three before Ty would let Jamian go see Kai. He kept making up excuses, stalling him, kissing him, and finally flat-out ordering him to do his homework for a while. Finally, everything else was done and taken care of, and Jamian made his way to Kai’s suite and knocked on the door.
“Jamian! Hi! Come in!” The redhead, freshly sprinkled in freckles, attacked him with a hug before he was through the door.
“Erk! Hi,” he grinned as he recovered from the glomp. “So, tell me all about it?”
Jamian blinked at the terse statement. “Well, yeah, everyone is I guess… was there a problem?”
“They said Yngvi did, too… so that’s everyone but me.”
“Oh. Well, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be,” he joked.
She poked his horn with an angry finger. “How can you say that? You’re a pure blood!”
“And a fat lot of good it’s done me…”
That seemed to calm her down. “Didn’t you have fun, while we were gone?”
“Well, it was okay, but not as much as you guys I bet. What’d you do?”
“Got stalked by some strange Ellehemaei, set off some metal detectors…” She smiled ruefully at him. “You know, a normal field trip.”
“Strange Ellehemaei, really? Like… people like us, but not with the school?” Of course, in theory they had to be out there; probably lots of them, hiding in plain sight. It was different to actually picturethis kind of thing topside, though.
“She was very… stern. Doug faced her down, though.” Admiration was clear in her voice.
“Stern.” The word brought to mind disapproving adults, faceless and suited. “Huh. Good for Doug, I guess? So, who won the last contest?”
“Oh, we did,” she answered breezily. “It was rough there for a minute – Shahin is smarter than she looks – but Caity came through in the pinch. She’s brilliant.”
“And you just weren’t going to mention it, right?” he laughed, before sobering. “Hey, I do need to talk to you for a minute though, about something more serious. There may be trouble brewing.”