Leaving the Darkness
Part IV: Ignorance is Bliss
I felt far too aware of eyes on me when I walked into the class late. It had been a long time since i’d felt self-conscious of my paramorphic features, but that’s all I could think as these strangers watched me walk into the class. I picked a seat next to a dark-skinned girl who reminded me vaguely of Kellen. She sent me a cursory glance before looking back at the teacher. Discussion on lethal force in crime fighting? I guess I should be thankful the Legion are so lenient. I tried not to feel too bitter while thinking it.
“I’m Charlie,” the girl murmured next to me. I hesitated but didn’t want to be outright impolite.
“Jaeger,” I replied.
“What accent is that?” she asked, watching me now. I tried not to squirm under the stare, something about her eyes felt intuitive.
“German,” I said, not meeting her gaze head on. She made a ‘huh’ sound and focussed on the class. I breathed an internal sigh of relief. I tried not to take any of the listed pros of killing a villain personally as they were spoken.
“Alright, what are the cons of killing your opponent?” the teacher asked, her eyes scanning us expectantly.
“If you make a mistake, you can’t take it back,” someone near the front suggested.
“People can change, the dead however can’t…” a girl trailed off uncertainly. I had to remind myself I wasn’t drawing attention to myself but there was an ongoing silence and no one else had spoken.
“It makes things personal,” I finally said, trying not to think about Heppenheim as I spoke. “Even w-” I cut myself off quickly, what on earth had I almost done? “They… have friend and family,” I recovered. I don’t think anyone noticed. Hopefully they would blame it on english not being my first language.
“Also a good point, what about pros for not killing?” the teacher asked, taking attention away from me.
Some more people gave one sentence suggestions and then the girl next to me spoke up, surprising me;
“While you do have to hold back, you also don’t escalate the situation; thieves, smuggles and many other crooks aren’t going to kill you; the last thing they want is being wanted for murder, being the subject of a massive manhunt isn’t good for business,” she explained. Some of her words rang with a very old memory I hadn’t thought about for some time. Discussion continued and I brushed it aside. Now wasn’t the time to think about him. Eventually the teacher brought up working alongside the police and I admit I drowned out some of the rant. It felt surreal being in a classroom again. I had never been a good student.
I let my eyes wander to look at the others who were paying more attention than me. I’d never expected such a mixture to be honest. It was refreshing at least. Everyone was attractive in their own way which they would be. Hero types had to look the part after all. Even the Itharii had a fuzzy adorable-ness to them that the public would fall in love with. A girl with bright red hair questioned the teacher on aliens that resulted in a further lecture. I took a copy of the book passed to me and handed Charlie one.
“Already read it,” she murmured, not bothering to open it. I cocked an eyebrow at her but she was looking at the teacher. It wasn’t like I was after an in-depth conversation anyway. Eventually the class ended and I followed the others to the next classroom.
“So what took you so long to join us?” A dark haired asian guy asked. I tried to think up an excuse but thankfully Charlie rescued me.
“That’s none of our business Mace,” she said, careful not to let her tone sound aggressive.
“Oh, you’re right, sorry,” Mace murmured, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. I mumbled it’s ok under my breath and thankfully no one else bombarded me with questions as we walked. Turned out I wasn’t the only new person though which was something of a relief. A tall black guy and short white haired person were waiting in chairs near the front. The guy stared at us with an array of emotions that told me he’d not seen a lot of mutants. Something told me he would be fun to mess with so I took the chair next to him. His eyes immediately widened upon seeing my features. I pushed aside my own anxiety because this guy just yelled ignorance.
“Right, I understand you’ve all met Jaeger Smith. The last latecomers for your class are Mr Allen Elster and Mx Sage Skylar. Jaeger, I’m Mr Martin. All three of you newcomers need to do a quiz on your tablet and then I will speak to you individually. Everyone else, you know what to do next with your studies.” It took me a second to realise the guy speaking was Defender. I tried not to feel too intimidated at the thought. This guy had one hell of an impressive track record with catching villains. Although there was no point me getting worried. The legion had already caught me.
“What’s Mx?” the guy next to me murmured, frowning.
“It a gender neutral honorific,” I replied. He jumped at my reply before looking at me. He at least had the decency to cover the immediate expression of disgust. “I’m Jaeger by the way,” I added, choosing not to respond in a similar childish manner. It was tempting though.
“Allen,” he replied, shifting awkwardly in his chair. I realised he was trying to distance himself from me.
“I don’t bite you know,” I said, raising one eyebrow. I began tapping at my tablet since he seemed too thrown to respond. “I’m guessing you haven’t met many paramorphs,” I said as I frowned at the questions. The last time I’d done any kind of schooling I had been thirteen. After that I got more rebellious and Heppenheim sort of gave up.
“What’s a paramorph?” he asked, starting the quiz on his own tablet.
“Mutants with physical difference to humans. Like me or that person,” I said, motioning to the big black monster thing whose name I hadn’t learned yet. Allen visible shrunk back into his chair upon looking at them and it took a lot not to laugh at him. That would hardly help the situation though.
“So genefreaks,” he murmured. My grip on the stylus tightened at the word and I briefly shut my eyes to stop myself doing or saying anything stupid.
“I’d recommend not using that word in the future,” I murmured. I had a pretty good feeling others had overheard it as well.
“Why the hell does someone need a gender neutral honor whatever?” Allen asked. Wow, and here I was worried I’d be the dumbest in this class.
“People who are non-binary need it, “ I explained. He gave me a blank look and I sighed. “Not everyone fits neatly into the girl or boy tick boxes.”
“Oh, you mean like trannys?” he asked. I sat up a little straighter at the word, glancing around cause there was no way others did not hear that one.
“Jesus, are you trying to make people hate you?” I muttered.
“Don’t say that,” he murmured, looking like a puppy who had just been kicked by his owner.
“Say what?” I asked.
“Jesus Christ’s name like that,” he replied. I blinked at him once and then twice. Oh great I thought rolling my eyes, a religious type. I could feel a headache forming behind my eyes as I rubbed my forehead.
“Let’s make a deal. I won’t say Jesus and in exchange you won’t say either of those words,” I said, holding out a hand. He stared at it like it was a loaded gun. “Wow,” I whispered, dropping my hand and shaking my head. “Just consider it a good piece of advice buddy.” With that I concentrated on the quiz. Maybe I should’ve just sat next to Charlie again and let someone else deal with the idiot.