Sky’s The Limit
Part VIII: Their Soft Warmth
I managed to stumble back to my feet, using a nearby tree to steady me. My heart was beating erratically in my chest as I slowly returned to normal oxygen levels. Allison glanced at me, seeing I was still recovering. Their expression softened at my pain before hardening to determination. They faced the Rook – who had happily declared it was now two versus one. Suddenly Allison’s body changed, fire erupting from an ethereal form. I stumbled backwards as the temperature of the air rose. It was a good thing there was few trees around as fiery energy erupted from Allison to the Rook. Somehow he managed to avoid what was clearly a deadly blast. The plant life taking the hit instead. He tried to fight and distract them but they was persistent, destroying a tree in their relentless campaign. I felt heat rise in my cheeks, which could’ve been due to all the flames, or possibly the idea that Allison was doing this for me. I was so distracted by these thoughts and by Allison’s beauty I didn’t notice the Rook until I was eating dirt. He yanked Charlie’s utility belt from me and ran to another tree, while I lay on the floor hopelessly trapped.
“Sage!” Allison screamed, momentarily pulled from their focus on the Rook. It was all the time he needed to arm himself. They turned, charging at the tree but he was prepared. There was a loud pop and explosion of form as Rook threw something at them. Charlie rushed over and freed me from the bolas and retrieved something from her belt to help Allison I assumed.
“I will consider that a win for myself,” the Rook declared. I was far too exhausted to even entertain the idea of challenging him.
“What the hell is this?” Allison cried.
“Capture foam,” Charlie explained as she dumped the stuff on the huge ball of gooey stuff.
“Can you get me out?” they asked.
“I’ve already applied the dissolving agent, should take five to ten minutes,” Charlie said. Allison merely let out a growl of frustration. Conversation stopped though as Jaeger got ready to take his turn. I admit I felt some shock when Jaeger asked for a gun, it wasn’t the usual weapon of choice for a hero and was more commonly found in the hands of villains; who had no care for protecting the lives of those they fought. Sanjay supplied him with a laser weapon and Jaeger faced the Rook.
The fight between them was immediately different to any of ours – if you consider that Allison was on an entirely different level. His first attack he did some damage. After that their fighting became more of a blur and I struggled to follow it. Against my better nature I decided to peek inside Jaegers mind. The experience was very jarring as the way he was envisioning the world was very different. I could see his focus on the Rooks heartbeat and there was a cold, automatic nature to his thought pattern as he fought. I pulled myself out, shuddering a little. No one noticed though, they were busy watching as Jaeger pulled the Rook to his knees. He hesitated to deliver a final blow though and the Rook gained the upper hand again. Jaeger tried to fight back once more but eventually conceded.
After the fight ended some of our classmates moved on, but myself and some others lingered.
“You okay?” Sanjay asked which Jaeger rolled his eyes at.
“We should take you to Doc Venus,” Charlie suggested. Jaeger accepted this and tried to stand. I think he might’ve have fallen back down but Sanjay reached out and caught his arm. Jaeger quietly thanked him.
“I need to stay with Allison but I hope your arms okay,” I said, the memory of his mind still bothering me a little. I knew everyone was different, and I knew little of Jaeger’s past but I didn’t feel 100% comfortable in his presence. Besides I needed to find a way to thank Allison for everything they did for me. Jaeger nodded and left with the others. I sat next to Allison and waited patiently for the form to died down. I searched for something to say to fill the silence but instead I sat there pensively, aware of how useless I had been. What kind of hero could I be if I had to rely on the others to protect me? There was wet crack sound as Allison suddenly broke through the foam that had finally softened and thinned.
“Are you alright?” I asked as they pulled themselves free and stood up, grimacing at the stuff smearing their skin and clothes.
“Yeah, but I think I’m going to need a shower or twelve. How’s your shoulder?” they asked.
“It’s alright,” I replied, having honestly forgotten about it. I quickly remembered it when I tried to push myself up.
“It hurts like hell doesn’t it?”
“Totally,” I said, laughing. “Nothing serious though.”
“Glad to hear that.” I felt the familiar blush at their smile. “Let’s get back.” I nodded and we walked back to the house. Allison went straight for a wash understandably. I went into the kitchen, aware I should probably eat something but not feeling particularly hungry. My shoulder also twinged when I tried to use it too much. I sat on a stool and waited. Ravenhold had been my biggest dream come true, but that dream was quickly turning to harsh reality. I heard Allisons footsteps and pushed away the negative thoughts. I didn’t want them seeing my doubts.
“Hey, I’m squeaky clean now,” they said as they walked in, placing a hand on my shoulder. The small touch was nice.
“That’s nice,” I replied before looking up at them. I blinked as their hair, now free of braids, flowing in soft waves.
“You undid your hair?” I asked.
“Yeah, I had to,” they replied, sounding unhappy about it. I chewed my lip a moment before replying.
“Well, I think you look great like this too.” They returned my smile and I hoped they somehow sensed I wasn’t just paying them a compliment.
“Thanks.” The front wasn’t looking hopeful.
“So, we’ve missed like half of science class. Guess we should just wait for the next one,” I said, changing the subject before I could over think it more.
“Eh, honestly I’m so done for the day. The gunk gave me a headache and the refractory period is just kicking my ass on top of the usual.”
“So you’re cutting class?” I replied, raising an eyebrow.
“Yeah. Want to join me? It’s going to be a heck of a lot less boring with you around.”
“That sounds fun and scary. Think we’re going to be in trouble for it?” I spoke quickly, hoping they didn’t notice my blushing.
“Either way, classes are recorded so we won’t be missing anything,” they shrugged.
“I guess we can stay in then.”
“Awesome. Say, do you want to hang around my room? Rowan typically only goes there to sleeps so we’ll be alone for as long as we want.”
“Okay,” I replied, internally scolding the direction my thoughts briefly took.
“But first; Food. I’m starving.” As if to prove the point, they found a tray of leftover sandwiches and quickly consumed a whole bunch. I hoped they didn’t give themselves indigestion with the speed they were eating.
“You weren’t kidding when you said you were starving,” I commented, trying not to laugh.
“Well, we skipped lunch and I hit the refractory period of my power, which made it worse.”
“What’s it like hitting a refractory period?” I asked, having never experienced one.
“You’ve never had one?” They looked genuinely shocked as they spoke.
“I’ve never used my power enough,” I replied, shaking my head.
“Well it comes into two flavors of suck; weakening and shut down. Weakening is the first to come; your powers stop responding as quickly and you need more concentration and effort to do less. Shut downs happen when you’ve pushed past your limit; Your powers just stop working and it’s weird, it’s like a piece of you is missing… Either way, fastest way to recover is plenty of high calorie food and rest.” I nodded, mulling over what they had told me. I’ve never even felt weak from using my powers. I wondered if my refractory period was shorter since I’ve not used my abilities much. I’d never thought of my powers as having a set limit. It was probably similar to any physical muscle, but there were few ethical ways I could practise my abilities.
“So, my room?” they asked.
“Yeah.” I followed Allison to their and Rowans room, immediately smelling their familiar scent mixed with Rowans more musky one.
“Obviously this is my room. Uh, please avoid touching anything, no offense but if things aren’t in order it makes my OCD act up.”
“Oh alright… Well, your room is pretty much identical to mine. Say, is that yours?” I asked, looking at their bass.
“Yeah. It was a gift from my mom a few years back. I’ve always loved the way bass sounded so she got it for me on my birthday after plenty of begging for one. I still play it, although I do most of my music with synthesizers now. Mostly drum and bass or electronica in general.”
“Oh cool. I primarily play the piano as well as some cello and the flute. I did a lot of classical music.”
“That’s pretty cool. We could start a band.” they joked. “The Enbies of Ravenhold.”
“Oh yeah, bass and piano. That’s going to be a hit.” I replied, rolling my eyes.
“Totally.” They said, their tone becoming determined and confident. I immediately laughed.
“You know, I’d love to hear your music one day,” I said honestly.
“Maybe you will. Plus, I’m registered for music as my art elective,” I felt my heart sing.
“Guess you’ll hear my play sooner than later.” they said sitting on my bed. I sat next to them, feeling some my earlier nerves gone. “How about a movie? Anything you want,” they offered.
“Sure, do you have any musicals?”
“I can get anything.” They said.
Allison went to a streaming site and found a cute animated musical adventure based on Igbo mythology. We both crawled under the cover with our backs to the wall, Allisons laptop on their lap. It was a good musical so I didn’t feel embarrassed about being so close to them for long. I could sense growing discomfort peripherally from Allison and glanced at them concerned. With the physical touch there was a certain amount I could sense whether I wanted to or not.
“Are you alright? You don’t look so good,” I asked, which was half a cover and half true, they looked pale and a little shaky.
“Eh, I’m kind of beat from the fight and everything.” I said, rubbing my temples. I immediately felt bad, not only had they had to protect but had also really hurt themselves in the process.
“I could help… If you want me to that is,” I offered, wanting to help in anyway i could. Although I was aware it was a little odd to offer my healing abilities like this.
“Alright,” they replied without a moment’s hesitation.
“Are you sure?”
“Of course, I trust you.” I felt my cheeks flush.
We moved closer still and I could feel their breath on my cheek. I raised my hand and touched Allison’s cheek, pushing away the urge to caress them. I closed my eyes and focused, seeing the source of their pain glowing in their brain. I let my powers flow through them, feeling the waves of relief from them as I did so. For some reason I couldn’t quite break contact with their cheek. I opened my eyes before they did and hovering my lips close to their neck. I stopped myself before I did anything I couldn’t take back.
“Are you alright?” I asked, dropping my hand and pulling back a little.
“Yeah, it was just a little intense…” they said, looking away with their cheeks flushing. Wait, did they- “The movie’s still playing,” Allison said before I could complete the thought.
“Right,” I replied, not really caring about the movie anymore. I turned back to the laptop and pretended interest, all the time aware of Allison’s body pressed beside mine. Thank god hormones stopped anything rising the way their chest currently was. I realised nothing was going to happen after a few minutes and pushed away the thoughts. Whatever Allison was thinking, they weren’t interested in doing anything. Or we were both as cowardly as each other, although after the fight I found it hard to imagine Allison not going for whatever they want. I took in the film more fully and mollified my own disappointment by resting my head on their shoulder. They felt so comfy and the bed was warm and soft, their scent swirling around me.
“Sage?” they murmured beside me. I think I replied in some form but my eyes were already closed, feeling heavy.