Part IV: Weakness
I woke up covered in sweat, my heart giving off a million beat a second. I’d had the dream again. It was one of the only dreams I ever had, none of them were the good kind either. This time it was the fire; the heat, the smoke, the cries, the pain. They were all as fresh as the day it had happened five years ago.
The scars on my arms, shoulders, back and the right side of my face still burned after all these years. Docs said it was in my head but that didn’t make it any less fucking painful…
I got up and took my pills, gulping them down with the hot as piss water bottle I’d set on the bedside table the night before. Every morning it was the same story; a over dozen pills to take. A half dozen to fight Vaughan syndrome, another to counteract nausea, another three to help cope with the weakened immune system caused by the treatment, that one to give me some appetite and finally two little ones for the pain… And that was just the basics. If one thing got too high or too low, then we had to fix it. If Vaughan Syndrome didn’t kill me, liver failure from taking so many meds would.
Rather than go down and take a shower, I decided to get dressed, making sure to pack my knives. When I left the room, I found the all the others in the common room, All except one bunched around the counter and eating food which one of the girls — the one with the metal leg. Caroline I think? — took care of preparing.
They all seemed so cool and stuff, hanging out like they’d known each others for a while. All I could think of was how much I didn’t fit with them. So I didn’t even try to. I scanned the fridge and found some leftover pizza boxes. I took some and retreated to the living room where I was almost alone. There was the dark skinned girl there, but she — Wait that was Allison, I remembered what Sanjay had told me — They didn’t try to socialize, which was fine.But we didn’t stay alone for long. Mace came our way. I tensed up, bracing for his arrival and the inevitable nagging.
But it never came… Instead of coming toward me, he sat down next to the black girl. It didn’t take long for him to start flirting with them. Which made a knot form in my stomach. Guess he’d found someone more interesting after all… So I left. I didn’t want to hear anymore from them. I didn’t want to think about him. Beside, if that meant he left me alone, it was for the best. For both of us really…
Thankfully the first class of the year came about — not something I’d ever thought I would welcome with open arms — and we all headed there. We all got into place and listened to the Teacher’s introduction. He set them all with a quiz to take on the school’s tablet. I took one glance at the device before giving up; all I could see was a blur. Only a minute after he’d set everyone up to do some work, the teacher — Mr. Martin, I wasn’t going to call him by his superhero name of Defender — came toward me.
“Could I speak with you outside?”
I shrugged and got up. Following him outside the classroom.
“What is it?” I asked once the door was closed.
“I just wanted to see ask you how you were adjusting to the academy.” He said. “I’ve been briefed as to your particular circumstances.”
Oh great, another freaking babysitter who wanted to help me… It was just what I needed.
“I’m fine.” I grumbled. “Everything’s just fine.”
There were a few seconds of silence, where I think he was scrutinizing me.
“If you say so.” He said with a shrug. “If you’d like, I could assist you this afternoon after lunch and show you how to access all of our accessibility services and devices for blind students.”
“I’m not blind. I can still see.” I answered defensively. That made him sigh.
“Jaime, I’m here to help you. I know how hard it can be to adjust to life after becoming disabled.”
Doctor Wallace had been like that; Always pestering me to learn braille, to use one of those white cane or to use crutches to walk about. But I didn’t need any of those; I’m not weak, I can handle it.
“I’ll manage by myself. I always have.”
“Alright.” He said, raising his arms up in surrender. “At least let me show you how the tablet’s text-to-speech and low-visibility accessibility mode functions?”
I gave him my tablet and he fiddled with it before giving it back to me. Rather than tiny blurry things, everything had changed to huge, high contrast letters which I could make out even if only a handful of words could appear on screen at the same time. He gave me an explanation of how things worked. Since I already had earbuds, he didn’t need to give it to me.
With it all set up, it meant I actually would have to do some stupid fucking schoolwork with the most inefficient setting ever. I felt so blessed to be here… Maybe jail wasn’t so terrible after all…
Thankfully the class ended, but it wasn’t the end of the day itself. Next was history with one of those Gorilla aliens. At least all I had to do there was pretend to listen. Lunch came about next and randomly picked one of the food counters and asked them for whatever as I couldn’t see the damn menus. I ended up with some tacos which was fine and found a lone spot at a table to eat before taking care of administration things, which took a while, the secretary chick taking forever to fill the damned forms.
I finally came back into the house and found the common room empty, save for Ahti curled up on couch by the entrance. It— No, not it… — They let out that same whistling snore I’d heard the night before. They seemed cold though, I could detect the faint shivering due to the way their clothes moved about. With good reason, with all the coming and going, the house had gotten pretty cold.
I reached out with my powers, scanning the house and found spare covers hidden away in a nearby supply closet. I grabbed one and draped it over Ahti’s sleeping body who even in their sleep grabbed it and curled up into a cocoon-like ball..
“There you go.” I muttered to myself.
I went upstairs to drop my things and came back down only for metal-leg girl to come up to me.
“Hey Jaime.” She said. “We’re having a party in the backyard in thirty minutes.”
“Can’t. I have stuff to do…” I mumbled before going out the door.
It took me a while to find the place I needed. I could’ve asked for direction but I didn’t want to bother anyone. Especially if it would have meant I’d have to explain shit. I didn’t want some random jerk’s pity. Finally after a half hour I found the doctor’s clinic, located a little away from the central buildings. I came in and registered myself using the ID I’d gotten at the administration just a while earlier before taking a seat. I had to wait about thirty minutes before the doc’s office door opened and the doctor called out.
“Jaime Santiago?” It said, dragging the ‘s’ along.
“I’m here.” I said getting up.
I faced the doctor and got a decent look at their blurry shape which told me a few things; they were big, blue skinned and wearing medical scrubs with opening for a large tail. Wasn’t hard to figure out it was another alien.
“Hello Jaime, please come in.” They moved aside and I got in. “I’m your new doctor. You may call me Sij or doc Venus. Just so you know, I’m actually a female Venusian, so please refer to me with she/her pronouns.”
“So I assume you’re here for your weekly blood replacement or was there something else you wanted to see me about?”
“Just the blood… Can we just get this over with?”
“Of course, of course. Doctor Wallace informed me about your status and of your disposition… But it’s no problem. If you’d please follow me.”
She moved around her office, opened on of the door which lead to a small corridor which itself left to a series of perfectly ordinary hospital rooms. Just like I’d done a million time I sat down and removed my shirt revealing the permanent IV port they’d surgically installed. The doctor went to work hooking me up to the monitor and transfusion machines.
Four hours for the process to finish. Taking out my blood drop by drop and replacing it with non-mutant blood. Four hours of hearing the heart monitor beep and the transfusion machine pumping. At least I had the iPod.
I couldn’t help but think about Caroline’s offer; Back at the house the others were probably having fun at that party. That’s what Ravenhold is supposed to be right? The adventure of a lifetime… Lucky them. I guess it was better for them that I was here; that way I couldn’t ruin their fun.
And if they didn’t get to know me, they wouldn’t care when shit would happen and I’d be done. It was win-win really.