Chased by the Past
Part XIII: Progress
“Good Afternoon Jaeger,” she said.
“Hey,” I replied, sitting on the bed. She attached some electrodes and ran some basic checks. ECG, simple eye and reflex tests. She also took some bloods and checked my sugar levels. I thought that would be all but she turned to speak to me again afterwards.
“How are you settling in?” she asked.
“Fine,” I replied.
“You making friends?”
“A few,” I said, shifting uncomfortably.
“Good,” she said, her cranial decorations moving in a happy fashion. “I know you said no at the time but if you ever want to know your life expectancy don’t hesitate to ask.”
“I’d rather just live without thinking about that,” I chuckled.
“I understand,” she nodded. “This isn’t just a physical exam but also a psychological evaluation, so can you take a seat?” she motioned to the chair opposite hers. I felt my muscles tense immediately but left the bed and sat as asked.
“Let’s start with your family history,” she suggested.
“I have none,” I shrugged. “Only child, never met my dad, mum died before I could remember,” I explained.
“What about your adoptive family?” she asked. I hesitated, I knew my records were sealed; I fully intended to let the Raven know what Charlie did however a quick look told me a lot of my file was redacted anyway.
“I was adopted by Heppenheim, he’s the one who did this,” I said, gesturing to my body as a whole.
“Is it okay if I ask what you had to do for the him?” she asked.
“For Heppenheim? I mostly just assisted him in the lab with his experiments. After my failed chimerization no one bothered me,” I explained.
“So you were never in the rings or trafficked?” she asked.
“Not really,” I replied.
“Not really?” she repeated with a questioning expression.
“I was thrown in the ring once by a different boss and… yeah,” I trailed off uncomfortably.
“Jaeger, this is a safe space. Everything you tell me will be kept between us,” she told me. “It’s important to talk about the experiences you went through, it’ll help you process,” she explained.
“I process just fine,” I muttered.
“Do you ever experience flashbacks or nightmares?” she asked. I set my jaw into silence and she let out a soft sigh.
“Jaeger, I can’t pass you if you’re not open to talking about these things. We need to know that you’re able to cope with a stressful situation without potentially being triggered. It is completely expected that someone in your position would have complex post traumatic stress disorder.”
“I told you already that I’m fine,” I insisted.
“Jaeger, you need to talk to me,” she pushed.
“About what? That was I indoctrinated into the Syndicate with a horrible test that involved killing to survive? That I had to abandon good people along the way? That I’ve been abandoned by people who I thought I could trust? That I was mind controlled by a fucked up pedo who sexally assaulted me?” At some point while talking my voice had grown louder and I had stood up, my body was shaking. Doc Venus reached into her desk and removed some tissues to hand to me. I didn’t even realise I had started crying.
“Take as much time as you need. I won’t send you back to class like this. However, I will insist you start therapy,” she explained as I furiously wiped my eyes. I didn’t have the energy left to argue with her. I managed to calm down after a minute and excused myself.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied. My voice felt thick and heavy and I recognised the familiar disconnect. I hadn’t experienced it much since getting to Ravenhold. In fact I’d been surprisingly present. I was used to feeling a detachment between my mind and body whenever I was doing work for the Syndicate. It was how I dealt with what I did.
“Jaeger, I can’t tell you this will get any easier, but everything you’ve just told me was really good progress. And I’m not obligated to tell the school officials any of what you’ve just told me. It’ll remain between us,” she explained. I nodded, vaguely relieved. I wasn’t sure about her calling what just happened ‘progress’ though.
“My duty is to my patients well being, and your wellbeing is very dependent on not going to prison,” she finished.
I left the clinic room and headed back to the house to shower and change. I checked my tablet and saw that we still had an hour left for lunch. Apparently extended so that Doc Venus could see everyone before this afternoon. Sanjay, Mace, Yougen and Jamie would be the last ones Doc Venus would see in that time. I’m guessing mine was the longest appointment because of the psychological evaluation. When I got to the cafeteria Sanjay was already gone, heading for his appointment I guessed. I joined Charlie and Caroline who were holding hands. They were being particularly sickly in their affections of each other today for some reason.
“Are you grabbing anything to eat?” Sage asked, who was also sat at the same table.
“Oh, yeah, I should probably eat,” I replied. I stood up and grabbed some rice with chinese style chicken and vegetables in it. I listened as the others talked around me, not really there, and ate my food. When I was finished I just left without really saying anything. I returned to the house where a few of my other classmates were. I opted to go straight upstairs and when I opened the door I saw Sanjay was home, looking at his school tablet.
“Hey,” Sanjay said, looking up from whatever he was doing.
“Hi,” I replied, sitting on my own bed. “How long until we have to get to the gym?” I asked.
“We should probably head out in ten minutes,” he replied. “How did the appointment go?”
“Fine, usual crap,” I shrugged.
He arched a brow. “Are you sure?”
“Yup,” I replied curtly. I had no intention of repeating back any of what I told Doc Venus to anyone else, let alone him. “How about yours?”
Sanjay just shrugged. “Doc said everything was perfectly normal…” He trailed off.
“That’s good,” I said.
“I dunno, Doc Venus was kind of weird, she left me for a while but then told me the instrument had a little glitch and everything was fine.”
“She is an alien. Maybe it was just a case of different social norms?” I suggested, frowning.
“I guess, it was my first time meeting her and I’m not exactly an expert on Venusian social cues…”
“She knows her stuff,” I shrugged. “I wouldn’t worry about it.”
“Right, say would you mind practicing combat maneuvers with me later? I thought I was better than what I did this morning.”
“Sure. Maybe it was the pressure of the exam? I know you’ve done fine with your suit,” I replied.
“Maybe.” He shrugged. “Still wouldn’t hurt. Although we have the afternoon exam to survive first.”
“Yeah, never a boring day at Ravenhold,” I chuckled.
Sanjay laughed. “That’s true. Well, I better get suited this time, see you in a few?”
“Yeah,” I replied, standing up and heading downstairs. The others who were here already having left for the gym. Outside there was a brisk breeze and I pulled up my hood for the walk back to the gym. From the way students were talking all of the classes were going through exams. I hadn’t even thought to contact Harley and ask how they were doing. I decided not to yet in case they were busy.
The gym had been organised into a jungle gym of apparatus, with the swimming pool integrated into the course. It was pretty obvious the goal was to get through the obstacles as fast as possible. Seemed fairly straightforward but I expected physics hijinks knowing this school so far. Juggernaut waited until everyone arrived before addressing us.
“Good afternoon students and welcome to our monthly obstacle course.” She made a sweeping motion at the course behind herself. “The rules are simple, you must make it all the way across in the least amount of time, you must not cross the hazard stripes to stay on the course, but apart from that anything is fair game to get through.”
Sounded simple enough. Everyone lined up at the start of the course. I slipped immediately into echo. It would allow me to know where the others were so I didn’t collide with them and I would be more accurate identifying obstacle in echo than with my own eyes. I saw the distortion in echo when Juggernaut said go, everyone immediately responding. I purposely held back to avoid someone knocking me back. I made a point of seeing where others went wrong if they fell or slipped so as not to repeat it. There was one moment where myself and Charlie were on the same set of bars but she slipped. I knew I could’ve reached out a hand and helped her, but instead I focused on my own finish line.
I hesitated when we reached the pool. I had no choice but to leave echo. The sound distortion in water made using echo far more difficult. I prepared to dive across the gap into the water when something wrapped around my ankle and yanked me back. I nearly fell onto the ground where the hazard strips were but just about managed to hold on. I glanced up and spotted Charlie sticking her tongue out at me before jumping into the water. I muttered a curse as I tried to pull myself up, but the splashing water had made the landing slippery. I was about to fall down any moment when Sanjay caught up and yanked me back up.
“Thank,” I murmured.
“Teamwork and all, right?” he replied, grinning behind the suit.
I came in fourth in the end, with a finishing time of 22 minutes and 46 seconds. Charlie had nabbed second place, beating me by 31 seconds. Based on her smirk she was going to lord this over me for a long time. Tyler came in first place, being able to fly probably helped a lot. Ahti came last, although they had done really well in the swimming pool. We were sent back to the changing rooms to shower. As I yanked on a fresh set of clothes I could feel growing agitation, my body was restless, fidgety. When we returned to the gym we were told where to go tomorrow morning for the next part of our exam – written tests. I just about bit back a groan. Now I remembered why I had skipped school so much.