Marked for Death
Part VII: Coming Out
Just a little before dinner, everyone came back from classes, Emma included. She came and found me right in the sunroom where she’d left me in the morning.
“Haven’t moved an inch, have you?”
“Why would I? It’s so comfy.”
“Well, lucky for you, I wrote down notes for all those classes you’ve missed.” She said holding up a note pad.
“Thank you.” She gave it to me and I kissed her cheek. “So, how was your day of masquerading as a Ravenhold student?”
“Cool I guess. The teachers didn’t mind my presence, I said I’d take notes. Although your gym teacher made me run the training regiment.”
“Not too hard?”
“I’ve hard worse.” She said with a smirk.
“Tyler, possibly Amber and I are going to see a movie tomorrow. Are you in?”
“Sure, I guess.” She said sitting down next to me. “Are you sure you didn’t want me by your side?”
“It’s alright, I was just reading all day.”
“Well your friends are pretty interesting. Especially the little Itharii.” She said with a smirk. “Kept calling me your clutchmate and being super excited to talk to me, even invited me to play boardgames with them.”
“That’s Ahti for you.”
I got up and Emma helped me get all my things back to my room before we joined Ahti’s boardgaming run along with Rowan. The two of them had formed an odd pair. In the last few weeks, they’d gotten a lot closer, even having become sleeping buddy. Which suited me, as much as I liked Ahti, sleeping with someone other than my girlfriend felt wrong…
We were halfway into a game when everyone’s ID badges let out a beep and recalled us to the dorm where I already was. I joined the others assembling in the common room and we all looked at each other, not knowing what was up.
A few minutes later Mr. Martin came in for a surprise inspection, doing a quick tour of the rooms, noting only a handful of infractions of the housing rules, including Imugi whom I wasn’t technically allowed to have. He quickly told me how to register Imugi. Since she was living in an aquarium, it was just a matter of getting an ‘all-clear’ from a vet that she wasn’t dangerous and confirming it with administration.
“Now to the other reason I came here.”
He walked over to the door and opened it, letting a flood of people walk into the houses. By the time my brain had processed what was happening, my parents were by my side.
“Mom? Dad?” I mumbled, my brain still processing everything.
“It’s us darling.” My mom said coming closer and hugging me.
“I’ve missed you so much.” I returned the hug tightly.
“We’ve missed you too.” My dad said, doubling the hug on me.
“You left in such a hurry, we never had time to properly talk about what happened and then your doctor called us, said you were having heart surgery…”
“It’s been kind of crazy, running away, getting to stay here, adjusting to my new powers, then the surgery. I haven’t really had the spoons to keep in touch.”
“That’s alright.” Mom answered.
They let me go and I guided them to the upstairs living room which had yet to be claimed by one of the visiting families.
“How have you been?”
“I’ve been dealing with everything alright…” I sighed. “It’s been stressful, wondering every moment how you are all doing.”
“What happened back home?”
“Kind of a long story… I hope you don’t mind but I’ve got to go to the bathroom first.” I lied.
I practically ran to the bathroom, my thoughts simultaneously at a standstill and going a hundred miles an hour. What was I supposed to even say? It wasn’t like I could tell anything resembling the truth without them freaking out…
I splashed my face with cold water, hoping it’d help clear my thoughts but it didn’t. Only a moment later the door opened and via the mirror I saw Amber come in. I turned around and she came forward, gently slipping her hands over my hip, she dropped a quick kiss on my lips before pressing her forehead against mine.
“Are you okay?” She whispered.
“I don’t know…” I sighed. “As much as I’m glad to see my parents, I don’t feel like I can tell them anything…”
“Partly, I don’t know what they’d think… But also about the whole magic thing, I’m schizophrenic, there’s no way they’ll believe me…”
“Are you? Not to sound weird, but couldn’t your schizophrenia just be another magical thingy?”
“I kind of doubt it.” I said with a chuckle. “Unless you know the magical or spiritual significance of hearing the voice of a nagging middle age woman annoying me about anything, hearing my sister remind me of stuff or that one voice that just spouts random words.” When it came to hallucinating, those three voices were around ninety percent of it, with my meds I was pretty darned stable.
“Okay, touché.” She said with a smirk.
“But what about you?”
“What about me?”
“I noticed nobody’s there for you.”
She bit her lip. “It’s alright. I didn’t really expect my parents to come. They’re probably busy with something more important than me… Just like usual, all because I wasn’t born perfect like June…”
“Nobody’s born perfect, Amber.”
She let out a dry laugh at my comment.
“You don’t understand.” She sighed in frustration.
“What is it then?”
“I wasn’t born like most kids.” She said, pausing briefly. “And I don’t mean that in the ‘Special way’ I mean I wasn’t given birth to… June and I were made in a lab, our parents wanted the perfect children; stronger, healthier, smarter than normal. They removed all the bad bits of DNA and added what they wanted, including the VNG genes so we’d be mutant. Out of a dozen embryos, only June and I survived the treatments. They got two daughters worth over three million dollars a head. They paid for perfection and all they got was me…”
I couldn’t find the words to answer. I knew these designer babies technically existed for the filthy rich, but knowing Amber had been the result of one of those programs shocked me… And all it had brought her was pain…
“June was everything they wanted… Successful at everything she tried; academically, socially and physically. She was one of the top students here, she fought in the Tzari war and survived. And then she died like an idiot for me…” She clenched her fists and jaw. “She pushed me away from the car, letting it and the drunken asshole hit her instead… I would’ve lived, I’m tougher than she was…” Tears poured down her face at full volume, her words interrupted by the periodical sob.
I wrapped my arms around her, squeezing as tightly as I could.
“It’s my fault she’s dead…”
“Don’t say that, it’s not true.”
“Well they sure as hell see it that way!” She shouted back before driving her nails into her skin, right where the scars ran down her wrists. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have shouted.”
“It’s fine, I know you’re not angry at me. You have every right to be upset at how your parents treated you.”
She just leaned into me, burying her face in my shirt for a moment. I held her, the two of us quietly embracing until she calmed down.
“You go first, I’ll leave in a minute, that way nobody will notice.”
“You know what? No.”
“I don’t want to push you away and hide you. I’m going to tell my parents about you.”
“Are you sure?”
“Hell no… But I have to. I can’t keep hiding from everything and I don’t want to spend the next few hours or days away from you when I need you by my side.”
We shared one long passionate deep kiss, the type we only shared during those rare moments when we were away from everyone’s sight.
“I’m right behind you, just give me a sign and I’ll come over?”
“That works.” I nodded.
I took a minute to pump myself before going out the bathroom and climbing the stairs back up. Amber came up with me but stayed in the stairwell, waiting for me to call her over.
“Sorry I’m back.” I said sitting down.
“So, what happened?” Emma asked, undermining my confidence and plan to tell them about Amber…
“It’s complicated…” I sighed. “I got caught in a robbery during lunch, a hero showed up and one of the Yakuza took me hostage, which caused my powers to manifest. I got away but the Yakuza tracked me down, they took what happened very personally to say the least…”
It wasn’t the whole truth. The Shigeo-kai wouldn’t have been too bothered if I’d just been a mutant, but they were very serious about maintaining their grasp on the magical community of San Francisco… On top of that, I had the guts to have been born from a Korean family. They still had very imperialistic attitude and weren’t too kind of non-Japanese Asian people… especially Koreans.
“So I’m here at least until things have had the time to cool down.” Another big fat lie. With the stunt Síthmaith had pulled the chances they’d forget was about zero. If anything they were probably even more determined to get me… “I’m still not sure if I really want to be a hero.” That one was true, even after nearly a month I hadn’t really had the time or energy to ponder the question.
“Whatever you choose, we’re right behind you.” My dad said.
There was a moment of silence and I refocused myself.
I took a deep breath. “Mom, dad… There’s something else I want to talk about… Or rather someone I’d like you to meet…” I looked at Amber and she walked toward us.
“This…” I paused, wrapping an arm around her waist. “Is my girlfriend, Amber.”
“Your girlfriend?” My dad echoed, it wasn’t really a question.
It took a second for the words to come out of my throat. “I’m gay.”
My father got up, all quiet, and stepped toward me. I could feel my power stirring in my guts, awakened by the anxiety…
And then he wrapped his arms around me.
“I’m so proud of you.” He whispered, squeezing me even stronger.
“I takes courage to live your life the way you are.”
“And I still love you.” My mom said, kissing my forehead. “Emma?”
“Way ahead of you both on the news.” She said with a grin. “About time you finally told them.” She gave me a quick hug. “Welcome to the family Amber.” She then added, hugging Amber who froze.
“Thanks…” She said with a melancholic smile.
We talked about everything and nothing for a few minutes, my parents drilling Amber on a thousand different subjects until the call for dinner was rung. All the while Amber looked a little overwhelmed…
“Are you okay?” I whispered, taking her apart from the group.
“Just a little overwhelmed… I’m not used to seeing a family actually being a family.”
I gave her a hug.
“Well, you’ve heard them. You’re always welcome at our home, I know it’s a little far and we’re kind of stuck here, but I guess it’s the thought that count. And hey, maybe one day we’ll actually be free from all the drama and bullcrap.”
“I’ll have something to look forward to for once.”
“That’s the right attitude.”