Leaving the Darkness
Part XII: Nurse Sanjay
I slumped into a seat next to Sanjay and half-listened to the teacher’s lecture about how the academy came to be. We had to watch a boring slideshow. I rolled my eyes at the whole ‘anyone can choose to be good’ ethos they were selling with the lesson. As if choice came into it. The only part that made the class enjoyable was making more short jokes at Charlie’s expense.
“You know she will get you back for those,” Sanjay commented dryly.
“I’d like to see her try,” I snorted. I lent with one hand on the desk and glanced over at his desk. He wasn’t taking notes, not that a lesson like this was a note heavy one. A quick internet search would provide you with everything.
“What are you doing this evening?” I asked. “Let me guess, lab?” I added before he could reply.
“Are you still annoyed from earlier?” he asked, frowning.
“I’ll be ready for the re-match,” I replied, well aware I sounded far more superior than I actually felt right now.
“I meant science class,” he said quietly. I clenched my fists on reflex and shook my head.
“I’m fine.” I thought I heard Sanjay make a tut sound under his breath but ignored it.
After class the group separated, with Caroline and Charlie going off for their own thing. I didn’t feel like going back to the house or bothering Sanjay more so I just grabbed some clothes and explored the campus. I found the gym soon enough. It was already full of students working out with various equipment. I went to the changing rooms, glad they had separate cubicles. I wasn’t interested in going on any of the machines so looked into the other rooms.
The sound of crashes and groans echoed from the far end of a corridor and I peered into a window on the wall. I was overlooking what must have been a basement level area. It was an expansive space made up like an outdoors tournament, and inside students were fighting.
“I see you found the arena.” The Rook smirked at my jump. “You need to be on your guard more.” I couldn’t try to argue but settled for sending a mini glare. The door into the arena opened and students poured out, some look hurt but proud whilst others look far from happy. The Rook glanced over his shoulder at the lot and apparently recognised someone.
“Ah Vanessa,” he said, speaking to a tall, lithe person. They had a thick mane rather than hair and sharp claws. I felt a chill run down my spine when she half-turned to look at us. I saw a brand on the right side of her neck that I knew all too well. This person had been a ring fighter chimera, created and used by the Syndicate. It’s almost what happened to me but Heppemheim managed to stop it. Although in that moment I was very aware of the brand on my left shoulder Kellens uncle was kind enough to give me.
“Hello,” she said, their voice low and masculine. At odds with the name the Rook had called.
“This is Jaeger. He’s another chimera. I thought maybe you’d like to show him the ropes with the arena,” The Rook said. Vanessa looked me up and down, frowning.
“He’s hurt. He won’t last a minute in there.” I felt my jaw tighten at the comment and their response was merely to cock an eyebrow.
“How about I just take you one on one then?” I suggested. She assessed me more closely before shrugging.
“I’ll be nice and avoid hitting your hurt arm.” I followed her to another set of rooms where there were mats and weapons already set up. Once again there was little in the way of firearms. However she completely ignored the weapons, so I did too.
“How’d you wind up a chimera then?” she asked as we circled each other, waiting to see who would attack first. There was no way I was telling the truth. I needed to have as few ties with the Syndicate as possible here; and there was no telling what she might or might not know if I said the wrong thing.
“I don’t have many memories of my past,” I lied. It was pathetic but whether she believed or not she accepted it. I wondered how well the lie would work on the others in the house though. Sanjay at least seemed to be perceptive; maybe too perceptive.
Vanessa lunged at me and I concentrated on the fight at hand. Letting echo guide my movements where required. I couldn’t help grinning as adrenaline took over. In the end we both took as many hits as we gave. I asked if she wanted to spar again another time and she agreed. I’m not sure why I made the offer though, it was risky to spend more time with her. Exhausted I grabbed a shower at the gym and headed back to the house, my heated skin enjoying the cold night air.
The house was quiet when I got back and I noted that Sanjay wasn’t in his lab. I moved quietly through the house, careful not to disturb anyone. I assumed Sanjay was asleep but when I walked into our room he was awake, reading something. It looked big and probably full of complicated English words I didn’t know.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hi,” I replied, heading straight for my bed to dump my used gym stuff. I went to the bathroom and got dressed and immediately winced. Apparently I had overdone it, I could feel pain spreading through my back. A quick glance in the mirror told me I’d managed to put too much stress on one of the deformed wings. A small tear had formed where the wing protruded from the skin near my shoulder blade. I must not have noticed until now thanks to the high of fighting.
I walked back to the bedroom and searched my things, looking for first aid supplies; although I wasn’t sure if i even had any.
“Are you okay?” Sanjay asked.
“Fine,” I replied. My hairs stood on end and I turned around to see he had stood up and was obviously examining my back. “It’s rude to stare you know,” I huffed.
“You’re hurt, I can help,” he offered. I ignored him at first, still searching for supplies before giving up.
“It’ll be fine. I’ll take care of it in the morning,” I said.
“You’ll wear yourself out if you keep getting hurt like this,” he muttered.
“I’ve dealt with worse,” I laughed, shrugging. I immediately regretted the movement, letting out a hiss of pain.
“Sit down, I’ll get the Medkit from downstairs,” Sanjay insisted. He left the room before I could stop him. When he returned I didn’t bother putting up anymore resistance. It felt kind of strange having someone care like this. Sure, Heppenheim and even for a short space of time, Kellen had cared for me but I knew the expected cost for that. What did Sanjay want from me?
“Done,” he said, before handing me some tablets.
“You trying to roofie me? You’re not very subtle about it,” I joked.
“They’re pain tablets,” he replied. “Label said they work fast and I figure your back and your arm is going to make for difficult sleeping.” I studied him but he had gone back to reading again. I stood up from my bed and sat on his, frowning.
“What?” he asked, sounding annoyed now.
“Nothing,” I said. I don’t know what my head is thinking today. Too much had happened. The fight with the rook. That stupid science teacher. And Vanessa who was a victim of the Syndicate. I took the pills and immediately felt them hit.
“Work fast is an understatement,” I muttered. Sanjay frowned at me and I realised I’d probably spoken in German without thinking. I think Sanjay replied but I slumped into sleep too quickly. I felt something warm and soft under me and vaguely realised I’d slumped onto Sanjay, in his bed of all places. If I were more alert and not about to fall asleep I probably would’ve cracked some kind of inappropriate joke.
“I’m starting to wonder if I’m your roommate or your mum,” Sanjay sighed, his voice sounding close. It was probably the drugs but I said far more than I needed to.
“I may not know who my mum is but I do know that’s not possible. You look about twelve.”
“I’m sixteen,” he replied.
“Heh, baby. I’m seventeen,” I said.
“Yet you need my help in class all the time,” he joked. I tried to think up a good witty response but the medicine was really hitting me now. I was struggling to keep my eyes awake. At least he smelled nice.