Chased By The Past: Part IX

Chased by the Past

Part IX: No Pictures

“TakecareJaeger!” Tachyon yelled as she and Sentinel headed towards the school gates.

“And make sure the next time you leave the school it’s through these things with a friend,” Sentinel said, pointing upwards at the gates as they passed under them. I rolled my eyes but smiled at them.

I was heading back to the house when I got a text from Harley asking to hang out. I mean, I’d be sticking to the rules if we did. Then a new text came from Caroline talking about a group of us going to an under 21 club in town. I stared down at my phone, remembering a time when no one contacted me unless it was Syndicate related. After Kellen and then Ace had left I just didn’t bother pursuing relations beyond casual hook ups. I shook my head and texted back Harley, telling them of the houses plans. They immediately replied to say they’d head over to the house to meet me in a few minutes.

“You!” I blinked at Charlie and slowly closed the door behind me. I quickly remembered the prank I had pulled earlier.

“Yes shortie?” I asked, smirking.

“That was a cheap shot.”

“It worked. If you still need help getting them down, the step-ladder is in Sanjay’s lab.”

“Fine. Gloves are off, you will pay.”

“Show me what you got.” I laughed and walked past to my room. Sanjay was there, looking up and frowning.

“Did you say the step ladder was in my lab?” he asked.

“It may have possibly found its way there. I couldn’t possibly comment,” I replied, doing my best innocent voice. He sighed behind me. “Are you coming to the club as well?” I asked.

“I don’t really do the dancing thing, even when Sana tried to get me to – plus, I’ve got this little munchkin over here to watch,” he said, nodding to the small girl curled up on his bed. I wrecked what memories I had of last night before Kellen.

“Oh…Vani, right?” I guessed, hoping I was right.

“Yep. That’s her,” he replied. I let out an internal breath of relief. Then realised there was an awkward silence hanging.

“Cool,” I said to fill it. I’d never dealt with little children in my life, being an only child and working for a crime organisation didn’t exactly come with babysitting on the side.

“So, dancing’s your thing?” he asked, after shooting me a smile.

“Ehh, I don’t mind it. Just figure it’s worth having a fun night out. I tend to dance better with alcohol though, which apparently this place doesn’t have…” I shrugged.

“Well, we are underage,” he pointed out. Yeah, because that was going to stop me.

“But eh, maybe I should try the dancing thing sometime, has to be something if two people want me to.” He continued speaking in that rambly way he usually did when he was nervous and I couldn’t help a smirk forming on my face.

I just never really got it, but maybe it’s one of those things that requires friends or— I’m rambling aren’t I?” he stopped himself.

“Just a little bit,” I teased. “Have a good night in,” I added. He bit his lip, seemingly amused by my response. I averted my gaze away from his mouth and focussed on picking stuff from my wardrobe.

“Have fun,” Sanjay said.

I grabbed some clothes, hesitating when I came across an old hoodie. I picked it up and put it in a bottom drawer to be forgotten. I then went for a quick wash. Normal ripped black jeans and a grey shirt. I checked myself in the mirror, brushing some of my fringe to the side so people could actually see the black eyebrow bar above my right eye. I went back to our room and grabbed a black jacket and black and red checkered beanie.

I joined the others downstairs when the doorbell rang. I opened it and Harley was standing there, wearing a black and white pirate skull and crossbones patterned vest top over a long-sleeve purple mesh top that wrapped around their palms, loping around their thumbs. I looked downwards to see another signature lolita style skirt, complete with purple ribbons, only this was noticeably shorter. Also heels with fishnet tights.

“Hello again,” they said, smirking at my expression.

“Hey,” I said, before clearing my throat. “Come on in,” I said. As I walked past I noticed they’d tied up their hair in an intricate french plait, leaving bangs either side of their face. I introduced them to the others going with us which were quite a few, including some of the housemates I hadn’t really spoken too. Harley flew past me, going out of their way to learn people’s names and something about them. It was kind of impressive to watch. Charlie gave the call for us to move and Sage had to encourage Allen to come join us. From his expression you would think he entered a lion’s den.

“Nice hat,” he said.

“Thanks,” I replied, frowning.

The club was called Annex and was a converted warehouse type deal. It didn’t strike me as any better or worse than the clubs I’d been too before. Unfortunately the Legion had swiped my fake ID when they caught me. Although the bouncers looked like they’d catch me if I had tried to sneak anything in.

“You need to sign this waiver before entering,” he said, handing a copy to me and Harley.

“Live band, nice,” they said. I bit my lower lip as I read  that the band used emotional psionic powers. More mental messing with. However I was also aware of the others waiting behind us and it was unlikely the band were going to zero in on individuals if they were going for a crowd effect. I signed it along with handed over $2 and followed Harley inside.

It was a large open space inside, with a generous dance floor and dotted tables and booths around the outside, a long bar on the right which only served non-alcoholic drinks of course. There was easy to dance to music playing along with strobe lights turning the dance floor into a rainbow of colours and swirling patterns.

“Let’s dance,” Harley immediately said, grabbing my hands and pulling me after them. I laughed but didn’t argue, and I certainly didn’t object as they pulled our bodies closer. After three songs we were sweaty and tired, I waved at the bar and they nodded. I took their hand and led them out of the moving sea of bodies. Drinks ordered we sat at a free table to cool down.

“So, you stole cars?” Harley asked. I choked on my drink a little, surprised by the question.

“What?” I asked.

“You told Shekaree that you hotwired cars. Which means you stole cars,” they explained.

“I could’ve worked as a mechanic as well you know,” I pointed out.

“Did you?” they asked.

“No,” I laughed.

“So. What I’ve established is you’re obviously here on a parole of some kind,” they said, watching people dance.

“Why are you here?” I asked. They considered the question before answering.

“I want to make my mum proud, and prove the rest of my family wrong,” they said.

“Are they not trans friendly?” I asked.

“Something like that,” they said, looking down at their drink, moving their straw so the ice moved. “What about you, was your family okay with you being trans?”

“Yeah,” I replied. Heppenheim had even researched and did my chest surgery for me. Suddenly the lighting around us changed, the music fading. We looked towards the stage where a band had set up. A tall, dark-skinned guy with long hair and lots of silver approached the mic stand.

“Good evening everyone,” he declared. “My name is Zayne and this is the Unkindness’ first performance of the year, glad to see the house is packed.” Some people in the crowd cheered, so they were obviously good and well-known.

“Are y’all ready to dance?” he asked, getting louder cheers.

“Let’s go,” Harley said. I laughed and shook my head, I wasn’t up for more dancing. The band started playing and the music was pretty good. Then Zayne started singing, and I felt the change. I’d spent enough of my life influenced by mind powers to recognise the influence. I tensed but reminded myself this was nothing directed at me, but at the crowd as a whole.

“Please,” Harley pushed, holding out a hand. I let the powers sway me and agreed, joining them on the floor again. I saw that Sage and Allison were dancing with one another, the chemistry clear. The band played a couple of songs, each one as good as the next. As the night progressed we moved closer, until we were kissing at regular intervals. Each time needing a minute to catch our breaths.

“Wanna get out of here?” I whispered while kissing their neck.

“Hell yes,” they replied. I smiled and led them from the dance floor again and waved at the bouncers as we left. We grabbed the bus and went back to the house. I saw the lights on in Sanjay’s lab so I knew our room was empty. Even so I quickly ducked my head in to make sure we weren’t about to scare Sanjays little sister Vani or give Sanjay himself a impromptu porno. Once I saw the room was empty we moved quickly, giggling, into the bedroom. They took a moment to stare at my side of the bedroom before turning to face me.

“No pictures?” they asked.

“No pictures,” I replied, not particularly interested in conversation. I kissed them and their tongue eagerly met mine. I pushed them on the bed and things soon escalated, with them failing to keep their moans quiet.

After Harley fell asleep easily, with a contented look on their face. I sat up next to them and looked across to Sanjay’s empty bed. I probably should’ve let him know in advance somehow that we were going to be in here. I got out of the bed quietly, making sure not to disturb Harley and grabbed some fresh PJs. I had a quick wash and pulled on the clothes. The house was still empty so the others must’ve still been out. I walked into the living room where Sanjay was sleeping and watched him for a moment, leaning against the door frame. It was easy to imagine a life where Kellen didn’t turn up, where I just let Ravenhold be my new world, where I could somehow answer all the questions Sanjay asked me. I shook my head to clear it of the childish fantasy and went back upstairs.

Mind Games: Part VIII

Mind Games

Part VIII: Date Night

After all the meetings were finished I waved my parents goodbye at the gates, hugging them both tightly before they left. I headed back to the house in time to hear Charlie yell.

“Batboy!” She racing into the corridor, pausing in front of me. “Have you seen Jaeger?” she asked.

“Not since lunchtime,” I replied, somewhat scared for my life.

“Dammit, he’s gonna get it,” she muttered. I listened as she walked into the kitchen to ask Caroline for help. I paused at her open doorway and peeked inside. It took me a second to realise what he had done; on the ceiling above her bed where pictures of Itharii. I opened and closed my lips a few times and then walked away. I wasn’t going to get involved, instead going to Allison’s room. When I walked in they were lying in bed asleep. I sat next to them, careful not to disturb them. It didn’t work as after a few seconds their eyes opened. They groaned and I placed a head on their forehead, making sure they weren’t sick since they looked shockingly pale right now.

“Are you alright?” I asked.

“Ugh… Today was exhausting…” they answered. “My everything’s killing me.”

“May I?” I offered.

“Oh hell yes,” they replied, slowly sitting up. They removed their shirt before turning over to lie on their belly. I tried not to blush at their bare skin. I got more comfortable myself and began to massage their back, letting my power weave through them, finding all the points of inflammation and easing it. I could still sense they had mind fog so I placed my hands to their forehead, helping clear it. I felt a little tired after I was finished but it was worth it to see how much happier they were.

“You have no idea how much I love you right now,” they said, immediately turning my cheeks red. Was I supposed to say anything back or-. Before I could finish the thought Allison grabbed the collar of my shirt and pulled me down to them for a kiss. Then just as quickly they rolled on top me, turning it into a full make-out session. They lifted their lips from mine and guided my hands to their hips.

“Woah…” I murmured, very, very aware that the only piece of clothing on the top part of their body was a bra and unable to help looking at their cleavage.

“I’m not moving too fast or being a little too rough am I?” they asked. “I just have a month’s worth of frustration to vent out of my system,” they added with a nervous laugh.

“Well, I’ve never, erm, been in a relationship before so…” I trailed off, feeling embarrassed by my own inexperience. “Can we maybe not go too fast with certain, erm, activities?” I asked.

“Of course,” Allison said. They let me sit up, and kissed me some more with their legs straddling my lap. “I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”

In answer I pulled them back to me for a proper make-out session, just enjoying the sensation of their tongue against mine. I couldn’t help letting my hands run across the bare skin of their back. I pulled back, steadying my breathing.

“Everything okay?” they asked.

“Yeah…” I said a bit sheepishly despite having a goofy grin. Allison hugged me.

“I have an idea. How about we go out and have some fun on the town? It’s a weekend, there’s no curfew and I heard about a club for teens from Charlie. You like dancing, right?” they suggested.

“If you’re okay with someone with two left feet. I’m better at music, not so much at dancing to a tune,” I replied, laughing. Maybe they had a piano I could hide behind to avoid it…

“I’m sure you’re just being humble,” Allison said. I choose not to argue my case with a story that resulted in my cousin going into the lake.

“It’ll be good to have a evening away from this house anyway,” I added.

“It’s a date.” I smiled as they stood up and pulled back on their shirt. As I sat up to stand up myself I remembered what my mum had told me this morning.

“Wait,” I said. They immediately turned to face me and I bit my lip. “I was thinking since we’re going to be a thing, that before anything happens… Maybe we should go and get tested, to be on the safe side? That’s not weird of me to suggest, is it?”

“It’s a smart idea.” they answered, leaning down and kissing my cheek. “Let’s go?” they said, holding out their hand.

For the second time that day I was at Doc Venus’ clinic. We were lucky it ran a twenty hours a day service. Lissa was of course not there at this time in the evening but there was a computer check-in system in place to cover that. Allison was called first so I waited, staring at my toes. These past few days had been insane. I saw my parents after what was the longest amount of time I’d ever spent away from them. Allen went and kissed me, and then Allison went and kissed me, and I was going on a date with Sheila. It was quite the turnaround for me in turns of a love life. When Allison emerged a few minutes later I walked on in.

“How can I help?” She asked.

“Erm, same thing as Allison, STD testing, to be sure,” I said, my cheeks feeling very warm.

“Oh, okay.” She went on to explain the tests which didn’t take long thankfully. I’d never had performance anxiety about peeing before though. She took some blood and told me the results would be in by Monday. When I walked back out Allison was looking at her phone.

“Well, looks like we won’t be alone.” they said with a chuckle. “I asked Charlie for directions and Caroline invited the whole class.”

“We better get dressed then,” I laughed, holding out my hand. Allison took it and we walked back to the dorm. I snuck my head in me and Allen’s room but it was empty thankfully. I’d grabbed lazy clothes, not dress up ones. This was technically also our first date, so I wanted to look nice. This would be a whole lot easier if I wasn’t feeling nervous. I grabbed some skinny blue jeans and a white shirt with a symbolic pattern on it and then I took the top back off.

“Even in guy mode this is hard,” I muttered. Then the door opened behind me and Allen walked in. I froze. So did he.

“Sorry, I’ll come back later,” he said, turning to leave. His voice sounded so much like a lost puppy though.

“Wait, are you coming to the club with us?” I asked. Based on his expression he hadn’t been told about it yet.

“I don’t have anything to wear,” he laughed. I immediately grinned.

“Help me and I’ll help you.” In the end I wore the original shirt I pulled on, along with a black blazer jacket. Meanwhile Allen was dressed in his usual jeans and a dark blue shirt. I tried to convince him to wear a hat but he wasn’t having that. I rolled my eyes at his defence of ‘hats are gay’ and pushed down the urge to point out he wasn’t exactly straight.

I headed downstairs first where Allison, Charlie, Caroline, Annabelle, Amber, Jaeger, one of his friends from earlier, Mace, Yougen and Yikaru were waiting. Charlie glanced around and announced the bus was leaving soon. I frowned and looked upstairs. Allen was hovering uncertainly still, so I opted to be forceful.

“Allen, get down here or we’ll miss the bus!” A few people were admittedly surprised, I guess I did make a point of being fairly quiet. Allen caved and walked downstairs.

The Annex was a big brick building with large windows that made it remind me more of a warehouse than a club. There was a small line outside the building where a pair of guys were making people sign something as they entered.

“First time here?” The slender man asked when Allison and me reached the front of the queue.

“Yep,” Allison said.

“Entry is two dollars, we take Ravenhold cards. Lockers need to be paid for separately, no alcohol or drugs allowed on premise.” His voice was monotonous as he spoke, so this was probably something he was used to saying. “The Unkindness is playing tonight, so you’ll have to sign a waiver.”

“Waiver?” I asked.

“They’re a parahuman band, so you have to sign this accepting the performance’s effect,” he explained.

“Oh alright.”

We signed the pad he gave us and showed him our IDs. The form explained the band used emotional and psionic powers. I glanced behind me at where Jaeger was standing, remembering his earlier freak out when he had learned my powers. Charlie was nice enough to cover the payment of a locker for our stuff. I promised to pay her back which she shrugged off.

Chased By The Past: Part VIII

Chased by the Past

Part VIII: Sage’s Power

Our team didn’t win, however we did a pretty good job. The only person to tap out was one of the wonder twins on the other team. There had been a close call when I ran into the Tzari and Harley together but Gabriella and I proved to be fairly formidable. I showered and dressed quickly – I always used the stall for a variety of reasons. When I left the stall Harley was leaned against the nearby lockers.

“Hey,” they said, grinning. “You’re really good.”

“You weren’t bad yourself,” I replied. “Were you in the auditorium this morning as well?”

“Yeah, by halfway through her speech I was ready to go back to bed,” they joked.

“We could’ve made a drinking game for how many times she said the word ‘hero’,” I pointed out, making them laugh. When we left the changing room the Tzari was there whom Harley introduced as Shekaree.

“Nice to meet you,” she said, awkwardly holding out her hand. “I am doing this right?” she asked Harley when I didn’t immediately shake it. I made my left hand a fist and tapped it against my chest.

“You’re were a really amazing fighter,” I said. Harley blinked at me.

“I did not expect anyone here to know Ren-Ta,” she said. Harley was now looking back and forth between us in confusion.

“I only know the basics,” I admitted. “I had a friend who was Tzari a year ago,” I explained.

“Oh, thank you,” she said, making the same gesture on her chest. “You were a good warrior too.”

“Ren-Ta?” Harley asked. I let Shekaree explain it.

“Shekaree has the bad luck of being one of my housemates,” Harley joked. “Wanna grab some food? My mum’ll be joining us, hope that’s okay.” I didn’t have anything better to do so I agreed.

“I distinctly remember making you Gulash earlier Dragă,” a woman said, walking over to us. She was a plump lady with dark skin, her friendly face etched with laughter and stress lines. Like Harley, she had a eastern european accent.

“I know, but I’m not sharing,” Harley replied, arms crossed. I made two assumptions from this conversation. One; she was Harley’s mum. Two; Harley was an only child. The cafeteria was a lot busier than usual today with the influx of visiting parents. Somehow we were able to find a table.

Harley and their mother quickly slipped into a conversation in their native tongue, leaving myself and Shekaree to talk.

“So, what was the Tzari you knew like?” she asked.

“She was nice, and an amazing mechanic. Any car I broke she could get back in working order,” I said.

“You broke a lot of cars? How?”

“Bad luck mostly,” I lied. In my various jobs with the Syndicate a few involved protecting important persons. A fair few enemies of these persons had no issues trying out a public gunfight. I only got caught for the speeding once and the police were too busy dealing with other trigger happy folks to really care about the ticket.

“She hated the way I hot-wired cars though. Said I left the motherboard in tatters,” I laughed.

“Hot wired?” she asked, having not heard the phrase.

“It’s a way to start a car if you don’t have the keys,” I explained.

“Oh, how did you lose the keys?” she asked.

“Like I said, bad luck,” I lied again. She frowned at me but didn’t pursue any further.

I sensed someone watching me and looked up to see Sage walking over. They motioned towards the open doors and I nodded. Outside there was a light breeze but summer was still clinging on. We found a more isolated spot and I turned to face them

“About yesterday … I want to thank you for your help. Even if it was a dumb thing to do,” Sage said,

“You’re not the first person to tell me off about it. I’ve already apologised to Allen about it.” They nodded in response.

“Look, I don’t want to alarm you or anything but see…my powers are mind ones, and…” I couldn’t hear the rest of their speech. Mind powers. Like…but now, Sage wasn’t like them, were they?

“Jaeger?” they asked.

“What…what kind of powers?” I asked, fighting back shudders.

“Oh, erm, I can do some mild healing stuff and calm people down if they’re panicking. If I’m touching someone I can get surface thoughts. I’ve only tried it with animals, but I can go into their minds and experience the world as they do.” I knew that right now, whatever having mind powers meant, they were describing it in a ‘I’m safe’ fashion. It still didn’t calm my heart rate any.

“I never got a chance to ask, what are your powers?” they asked.

“Just bat benefits. Mostly echolocation,” I shrugged.

“Oh, you just seem to be a very good fighter. I wish I was half as good.”

“It helps me in a fight. There are nuances to what I hear back that can tell me a lot about people. For instance.” I delved into echo and focussed on Sage’s body, immediately noticing more muscles and nerves in their right hand. I noticed the bones were shaped oddly in the left ankle, but it was old because their body had adapted around it.

“You’re right-handed,” I said.

“Most people are,” they replied, sounding skeptical.

“You also broke your ankle, probably when you were a kid at a guess.” Sage’s lips parted slightly.

“How did you know that?” they asked.

“The bones in your left ankle are abnormally shaped, but your other body tissues have grown around it now.”

“That’s….insane.”

“Sage….can you promise you won’t read my mind?” I asked. Syndicate mission aside, I did not like the thought of anyone freely delving into my mind ever again.

“Of course. I don’t go around doing that. Like I said, I was trying to help you after you fell and it sort of just happened. I don’t know what’s going on but if you need to talk-”

“I don’t. Thanks,” I said quickly, wanting to get away from them as soon as I could, even though I knew they were not like him. I looked around, to make sure no one had overheard our conversation and immediately saw Sanjay and his family cluttered around a bench outside. The words from our fight the other day swimming to the surface of my thoughts.

“You won’t understand, just go back downstairs to your nice, normal family.”

“You don’t know anything about me or my supposed ‘normal’ life and family, so how about you don’t just presume how my life is?”

“Okay, but the offer still stands. Us trans kids gotta stick together,” Sage said, pulling me back to present. I had to smile at the trans solidarity.

“I better get back to my parents, but thanks again,” they said, turning and heading off. I stood there for a moment, trying to collect and order my thoughts. Then someone tapped me on the shoulder, that someone apparently being Sentinel.

“What happened to you had work to do?” I asked.

“Hello to you too buddy,” she replied, one eyebrow raised.

“HithereI’mTachyon. Nicetomeetoyou.” I blinked at the girl next to her who was waving a thousand waves per second at me. Her right knee was wrapped up in plaster and she had crunches.

“Unfortunately someone has to make sure this girl doesn’t ignore doctor’s orders,” Sentinel replied to my original question, smirking at Tachyon.

“I’mfine!” she replied, sticking out her tongue.

“Uh huh,” Sentinel murmured. Her gaze then turned more serious. “I heard what happened yesterday-”

“You’re now the hundredth person to tell me off about that, I’m losing track of how many people I need to apologise too,” I sighed.

“I’m not talking about the punch you threw. I’m talking about sneaking off the grounds.” I froze, had they seen Kellen and I together? “You need to stop, or people might question how ‘reformed’ you really are.” I tried not to let my relief show on my facial expression.

“Right. I just find it difficult staying at the academy all day,” I shrugged.

“Why?” she asked. I blinked at the question.

“Ermm…I dunno, I just need a time out from the people I guess,” I replied, shrugging again.

“Ah, because you’re not making friends,” she said, raising a eyebrow.

“I talk to people, what more do you want?” I threw back. “It’s difficult, hearing the way they talk sometime…”

“From what I’ve been told you’ve not been doing yourself favours either, making derogatory jokes about capes and the like,” she pointed out. I snapped my lips shut and choose to remain silent. She just shook her head and chuckled.

“In all seriousness, I know this is a difficult transition for you. I don’t know the full details of what you went through Jaeger, but you’re safe here.” safe, yeah right…

“Ithinkthefirstteachermeetingisinafew,” Tachyon prompted.

“Oh, yes. Since I’m here I’ll be going to meeting with yourself and your teachers,” Sentinel declared, wrapping an arm round my shoulders. “You could at least pretend to be happy about it,” she joked at my frown.

“Right, guess we better go then. I’ll just tell my friends goodbye.” Admittedly I was glad Sentinel was here, it was nice to know she hadn’t just forgotten me. However I had a feeling my day was going to be full of ‘needs to interact with classmates’ type comments.

Mind Games: Part VII

Mind Games

Part VII: Mind Fears

When I went back inside my parents sent me a quizzical look. I whispered to my mama I would explain later, although I’m pretty sure she noticed I was blushing. When the talk finished Mr. Martin handed my parents a schedule. I noticed Allen’s step-dad turning his away before leaving the building with Allen. We had a fifteen minute slot with each teacher and these were spaced throughout the day. Since we had some time to kill I decided to introduce them to Doc Venus, whom I was going to be starting an apprenticeship with. She had told me I’d had to get through my first set of exams, whenever those were, and then I could begin working with her.

“So, where did you disappear off to?” Mama asked as we left the building.

“Erm…” I quickly realised I didn’t need to make an excuse. “Remember Allison?” I said.

“Yessss,” she said, drawing out the word with a big smile. My papa was fighting a wave of giggles beside her.

“Well, I’m kind of dating them,” I said. “And possibly their other partner. We’ve still got to go on an official date.”

“Wow,” papa murmured. “That is the raisin at the end of the hot dog,” he muttered in icelandic. We reached the clinic which had been set up in an open day fashion as well, apparently parents were sometimes interested in the facility that treated their kids if things went wrong.

“Just make sure you both get regularly tested whatever activities you do,” mama said after making sure no one was in earshot.

“Yes mama,” I replied, well aware I was blushing. Inside the clinic was mostly empty apart from reception. I was pretty sure the girl behind the computer was new. She had tousled blond hair and emerald green eyes. As I got closer to the desk I realised she was also in a wheelchair.

“Hi, I’m Sage. Would it be possible to see Doc Venus?” I asked.

“Sure, you’re the third visitor so far. I’ll let her know you’re going in,” she smiled. I returned the smile and noted her name tag.

“Thank you Lissa. I’ll be here in a few weeks doing a medical apprenticeship so figure I should learn your name now,” I joked.

“Oh, really? Nice. I’m here doing a gap year before going to university,” she explained. She hit a few keys on the computer and motioned for us to head on in to see Sij. We walked into Sij office. She had freed up some of the counter space and put some food and drinks on it.

“Sage, so nice to see you,” she said as I walked in.

“Hey, I brought my parents to meet you, I hope that’s okay?”

“Ah, I did recognise their scent. It’s nice to meet you both,” she said, standing and shaking both their hands in turn. “How can I help you?”

“I was wondering mostly about the apprenticeship program Sage is hopefully starting with you after their exams – I’m a nurse myself,” mama said.

“It’s a 1200 hours program over two years not including vacations – 12 hours a week. Sage would learn the basic of anatomy, medicine, first aid and medical ethics through hands-on experience and theoretical learning after which they would have the qualification to apply for a parahuman medicine license if they so please,” Doc Venus explained. Mama asked some more technical questions, Papa also asked about how the mental health of students were managed.

Then upon learning she was also a qualified therapist they had a geek out talking about some recent published papers. I exchanged a look with Mama and she giggled. We stayed there for about thirty minutes in the end. Taking us comfortably to lunchtime, so I led the way to the cafeteria where I spied Jaeger sitting with a Tzari, another student I didn’t know and an older woman.

“Grab some food and I’ll join you in a bit. I just need to speak to someone about something,” I said, heading towards Jaeger. He looked up, apparently sensing my presence and stood up, excusing himself. I motioned outside and he nodded. There were a few people eating on the benches outside, including Sanjay’s family. We walked a bit away from people so there wasn’t anyway people could overhear.

“About yesterday … I want to thank you for your help. Even if it was a dumb thing to do,” I begun.

“You’re not the first person to tell me off about it. I’ve already apologised to Allen about it,” he replied. I nodded, hesitating before speaking again.

“Look, I don’t want to alarm you or anything but see…my powers are mind ones, and when I went to help you up, I sensed you were distressed. I just wanted to make sure you were okay and-” I stopped speaking, because Jaeger had gone very pale. “Jaeger?” I asked.

“What…what kind of powers?” he asked.

“Oh, erm, I can do some mild healing stuff and calm people down if they’re panicking. If I’m touching someone I can get surface thoughts. I’ve only tried it with animals, but I can go into their minds and experience the world as they do,” I explained. “I never got a chance to ask, what are your powers?”

“Just bat benefits. Mostly echolocation,” he shrugged.

“Oh, you just seem to be a very good fighter. I wish I was half as good,” I murmured.

“It helps me in a fight. There are nuances to what I hear back that can tell me a lot about people. For instance,” I saw his expression change briefly, “You’re right-handed.”

“Most people are,” I joked.

“You also broke your ankle, probably when you were a kid at a guess.” I stared at him, mouth agape.

“How did you know that?” I asked.

“The bones in your left ankle are abnormally shaped, but your other body tissues have grown around it now,” he replied.

“That’s….insane,” I replied.

“Sage….can you promise you won’t read my mind?” he asked.

“Of course. I don’t go around doing that. Like I said, I was trying to help you after you fell and it sort of just happened. I don’t know what’s going on but if you need to talk-”

“I don’t. Thanks,” he replied. His gaze left me, looking at Sanjay and his family with a sombre expression. It didn’t take a genius to work out he was sad for some reason.

“Okay, but the offer still stands. Us trans kids gotta stick together,” I joked, hoping to lighten his mood. He lips quirked into a smile for a moment but there was obvious discomfort being around me. I was used to that happening when I told people my powers, I kind of hoped that wouldn’t happen here.

“I better get back to my parents, but thanks again,” I said, leaving him alone.

Mind Games: Part VI

Mind Games

Part VI: Falling in Polyamory

“Sorry I—” they began. I knew it was wrong what we had just done, but I just couldn’t sum any guilt. I placed a finger on their chin, silencing them with another kiss. I wrapped my arms around them and pulled them closer, more than ready to kiss them all night.

“Welp, guess I’m sleeping with Ahti tonight,” Rowan announced, making me jump a little. I blinked at them as they stood up and grabbed their pillow and blanket, leaving us alone swiftly.

“Well that was something that happened…” Allison murmured, their cheeks flushed. “I like you Sage…” I tried and failed to fight the wide smile hearing those words caused.

“I like you too,” I whispered, resting my forehead against theirs.

“You know… There’s enough space for two here. You don’t have to sleep on the floor,” they said, looking away again. I could sense the shame and understood why.

“What about Sheila?” I asked.

“Can we just talk about it tomorrow? I don’t have the spoons tonight…” they appealed, sounding exhausted.

“Of course,” I replied, pulling them into a hug. Even though I knew we did a bad, I was still feeling stupid happy. Even if in the morning they regretted it and wanted us to go back to being friends, it would be okay with me. I just wanted them in my life – and I got my re-do. I much preferred them as my first kiss than Allen any day. We snuggled under the covers, my arms wrapped around them.

“Goodnight Allison,” I murmured, breathing in the scent of their hair and skin. I didn’t know what the morning would bring and it was entirely possible it would involve heartache so I choose to enjoy this, the here and now. In case it was the only time I ever got to be this close to them again.

When I woke up Allison was still snoring softly beside me, their face relaxed. It took me a moment to fully wake up and realise yesterday evening hadn’t been a dream. I was really in bed next to Allison. We had really kissed yesterday. And Allison really told me they liked me. I shifted carefully, checking the time on their bedside table clock. It was still pretty early. I decided to stay where I was, holding them. After about forty-five minutes Allison moved, their eyes opening slowly.

“Hey, been awake long?” they asked, stretching next to me.

“A few minutes, I didn’t want to move,” I admitted. “I was afraid if I did, I’d wake up and it’d all have been a dream.”

“It wasn’t,” Allison murmured, turning so they were facing me. They kissed my forehead and briefly buried their face against my shoulder.

“How about some breakfast?” they asked. I stretched and sat up.

“Yes, bacon right about now sounds great-” I cut myself off, covering my mouth. “Sorry, it’s too early, I wasn’t thinking…” Recalling there was a strict Jewish rule about not eating pig. In response Allison sat up and flicked my forehead.

“Sage, I don’t keep kosher. I told you like twenty times,” they said, smiling.

“Right…I did say it was early?” I was surprised I slept so well, considering I’d forgotten to take my medicine last night. I probably wouldn’t manage it a second night in a row though. Allison sat up, stretching their arms.

“I’m going to take a shower and get my makeup done first. I can feel it in me, today’s going to be a girly day.” They innocently kissed me on the cheek, while my brain raced with less than innocent thoughts. The I’m-probably-having-a-guyish-day kind funnily enough.

“What?” Allison asked standing up. Apparently I had been biting my lips, giving myself away.

“I just…we could save water…” I left it there, feeling far too embarrassed. Had I really just said that to them? Allison’s cheeks turned beet red and they looked away from me.

“I’m kidding!” I cried. “I know we only just kissed for the first time yesterday. And we probably should talk to Sheila before going any further?”

“Right!” Allison nodded. I left the bed and grabbed my backpack and we both went to the bathroom, separate shower stalls though. I let the water run cold first to shut down those thoughts. Once we were dressed I decided to put on some make-up, only a little though.

“Ugh, eyeliner and me will never get on,” Allison muttered beside me.

“Let me help,” I offered. I used a wipe to clean where it had gone wrong and then redid the eyeliner. I tried not to feel self-conscious of how their eyes were watching me as I worked. After that we went downstairs for breakfast, where Allison made a point of eating enough bacon that I started to worry about their arterial health. We then went outside to broach the difficult topic. I mentally prepared myself for the worst as we sat on a tucked away stone bench.

“I love Sheila,” Allison started. “She was the first person I fell in love with, we dated for a while and for a time i was happy…Then she broke up with me…”

“What happened?” I asked.

“My stupid brain got in the way…” Allison pulled up her knees, making herself small. “I got a crush on someone else and started feeling super guilty. She saw it and decided to formally break off…If you really love someone, you’re supposed not to feel that way for anyone else…Like I feel about you…” I bit my lip, just about stopping myself from going on a long rant about heteronormative society.

“That’s just crap society likes to pummel into us. Liking more than one person is just how you are. It’s not wrong by itself, if you’re open about it and everyone’s on the same page and agrees, then no harm’s done,” I said, cutting down the speech considerably.

“I guess…” they murmured, not sounding particularly confident. I pulled them to me and held them.

“I like you too Allison.” So much. “And if you want us to be a thing, you just have to talk to Sheila and explain it to her.”

“You’re right. I’ll do it today when she comes over,” they decided, some assertiveness returning to their voice. “Will you be at my side?” they added in a quiet voice, looking at me.

“Of course,” I replied, fighting the urge to kiss them again, hugging them instead. When our parents and Mr. Martin arrived we were taken to the academy’s auditorium where the yet-to-be-seen headmaster appeared. She talked about the history of Ravenhold, the classes and staff, generic stuff parents liked to know. I was listening intently when suddenly the world spun. I blinked and gasped as it stopped just as abruptly. I covered my mouth, my stomach feeling far from stable.

“Oh my god,” I muttered. Allison’s arms grabbed my shoulders, keeping me steady.

“I swear you get used to it,” they said, before speaking over their shoulder. “Maybe a little advance warning next time Sheila?” I recovered enough to look away from the ground and realised we were on the roof with Sheila.

“Sorry,” she apologised. “What did you want to talk about?” My brain was starting to work again and I realised Sheila must have had a power that involved teleportation. I’d never realised she was a parahuman. I glanced at Allison who met my gaze briefly, before turning back to Sheila.

“I kissed Sage.”

“Damn,” she replied but I could tell from her tone she wasn’t upset or angry. “I thought it’d take you forever to work out the courage to do it.”

“You’re not mad?” Allison asked.

“Al, I just want you to be happy,” she replied, pulling them into a hug. “I don’t care if that’s by being with me or by being with Sage, whoever you chose is fine with me.” I couldn’t help smiling. Up until now I hadn’t seen this softer caring side of Sheila. She was a really sweet person.

“But you don’t have to choose,” I stepped in, taking Allison’s free hand, her other being held by Sheila. “I told you about my parents. I’m open-minded, if you want to be with both of us I’m happy to share.”

“Does that mean I get to join the fun?” Sheila asked. “And get a second cute little enby to play with?” I knew it was intended as a harmless flirty comment but the images that formed in my mind made me blush.

“I-if you want…” I trailed off uncertainly. I didn’t really know Sheila yet and would need to spend more time with her, but I trusted Allison’s judgement.

“Oh, I was just teasing, but I guess I’ll keep you under consideration then,” she replied. It was nice to be the one taking her by surprise for once.

“I guess that settle it,” Allison said. “Should we set some rules?” they asked, looking at me. I guess that made sense, I was the only one who had any experience of polyamory relationships.

“Are we going to be open or closed?” I asked.

“Don’t mind either way. I might be an unrepentant flirt but I don’t really have my eyes set on anyone right now,” Sheila replied with a noncommittal shrug.

“Personally I don’t really want anyone else,” I said.

“I guess it can just be the three of us. And who knows, if something happens, we can just talk about it?” Allison suggested. I nodded, aware my smile was turning into a goofy grin. Part of me couldn’t believe this was really happening, but it was.

“Suits me,” Sheila said. Allison kissed Sheila and then turned to kiss me as well. I glanced at Sheila, unsure if we were going to do the same thing.

“So…eh…” I murmured.

“Cutie or not, you ain’t getting anything without a date first,” Sheila said, touching a finger to their lips. “Allison knows what I like, they’ll give you tips.”

“I’ll be in touch then, unless there’s some rule you want me to follow on how many days before I call?” I replied, enjoying the easy going, jokey way I could talk with her.

“You call me anytime when you get to New York. Can’t have real fun in a small town now, can we? I heard there’s a bus every weekend, shouldn’t be too long until then,” she suggested. I decided to keep my opinions on big city versus small town to myself. Iceland was mostly small towns and I’d argue there was plenty to do. Then again, I’d never been anywhere like New York before.

“It’s a date,” I smiled.

“And now that everything’s settled; back we go to the lecture hall, I don’t want to miss anymore of it,” Sheila declared.

“Since when do you care about superheroes?” Allison asked, nudging her with an elbow.

“Since you became one, duh.” She replied. “Alright, let’s go.” She held out a hand and I shook my head, backing away.

“I’m going to find the stairs,” I said. I did not want a repeat of the teleportation thing anytime soon.

“I guess that works too,” Sheila laughed.

“I’m going to be escorting them,” Allison said, grabbing my hand and leading the way.

“Suit yourself,” Sheila said, waving at us before teleporting; bits of loose concrete and dirt on the roof whipping into the air briefly as she did. The roof access led to a janitor’s closet. I reached for the handle, contemplating how big a maze this building probably was, when Allison placed their hand over mine to stop me. I turned and they pushed me against a nearby shelf, meshing out lips together. I was definitely not going to argue, fighting back a moan as the kiss deepened. I was going to need another cold shower when we got home…

Chased By The Past: Part VII

Chased by the Past

Part VII: A Raven’s Message

I was pretty sure neither me or Sanjay slept well last night. I feigned being asleep anyway until he got up and left for the shower. A few minutes later I followed, pulling on my usual ripped jeans and a blue t-shirt, complete with usual hoodie as always. I took a breath before walking downstairs. I could hear the others talking and eating breakfast. I reached the downstairs corridor and froze. Allen was also there, walking to breakfast himself. His nose looked red and sore, his left cheek puffy and bruised.

“Morning,” he said.

“Morning,” I echoed.

We stood there in awkward silence for a moment until eventually I sighed.

“I’m sorry for punching you,” I said, practically forcing it through gritted teeth. “You still messed up, but I’ll cover for you as Sage did,” I added in a quieter voice.

“Thanks,” Allen mumbled, looking downwards with what looked like shame on his face. One difficult conversation at a time, but if he was still feeling this way in a few weeks I made a mental promise with myself to help him talk it out; and prayed someone did for me beforehand. We walked into the breakfast room where Sanjay was leaning suspiciously close to the door, had he been eavesdropping?

While I had never exactly gone out of my way to talk to people, I was very aware that suddenly I was the one they were avoiding. Was this what it had been like for Allen his first few days? I shook my head, I didn’t care. It wasn’t like any of the friendships I made here meant anything now. It was just a case of maintaining face until I jumped ship.

Mr Martin stopped by shortly after breakfast and led us to an assembly with the family. Of which I had none. I saw the headteacher for the first time and listened to a history of the academy; how it was created as part of the first Raven’s will after he died in some heroic battle. As we were leaving Mr Martin stopped to give me a brief telling off for yesterday, then someone parents stopped to talk to him and I could sneak away. First things’ first, pranking Charlie.

I went to the library, did a quick internet search and printed off some pictures. Thirty minutes later and Charlie had something interested to look at when she next went to bed. The fact she was too short to get them down was an added bonus – something I ensured by going into the utility closet and hiding the step-ladder in Sanjay’s lab. I figured he’d be out all day with his family.

Prank finished, I headed out to the gym. Not like I had anything else better to do since everyone else was out. I headed towards the arena area and noticed there was more of a crowd today than usual, which made sense. There were probably proud relatives watching their kids in there. I shook my head, I’d not let my being an orphan bother me, I wouldn’t start now. I’d closed that box a long time ago and it was going to stay that way. The Syndicate was my family.

I managed to find Leonine easily enough thankfully.

“Up for a spar?” I asked. She was taking a drink from her water bottle and already sweaty.

“Always,” she replied with a cat-toothed grin.

“Actually, I need to speak with him.” We both turned and I saw Raven standing behind me.

“Oh wow, what rules did you break?” Leonine whispered.

“I’ve lost count,” I murmured. I waved her goodbye and followed Raven into an empty sparring room. He grabbed a wooden staff and threw one to me.

“You want to fight?” I asked.

“I need to make sure you’re progressing,” He shrugged.

“Suit yourself.” Who was I to say no at the chance to beat the great Raven in a fight? He waited so I attacked first, launching myself bodily at him, swinging the staff out towards his abdomen. He sidestepped the blow and simply held out his own staff. By that point I had too much momentum so my neck hit the staff and I slid onto my back with a painful thud. I muttered a curse, reaching a hand round to the back of my head.

“Still too eager,” Raven sighed.

“What, you reading my school files now?”

“That is my job. So far you’ve continued to be rebellious. And then yesterday you instigated a dangerous situation.”

“Allen started that,” I muttered.

“You escalated it,” he shot back, his tone told me he wasn’t going to put up with my backtalk right now so I kept my lips sealed, reminding myself I had to behave. Expulsion not only meant jail for me, but that I couldn’t carry out the mission. He was the one who knew where the element zero was but there was no way I could outright ask that.

“You’re right, I fucked up.” He hesitated, apparently not expected me to concede so quickly. “What?” I yelled. “I apologised to the guy, what more do you want?”

“Did you really?” Raven asked, sounding skeptical.

“The guy’s a bigot, but I know when I’ve fucked up,” I replied, my jaw tense. Raven studied me for a moment, apparently deciding I was telling the truth.

“You’re a janitorial duty for a week. Stanko needs help keeping his lab clean,” he said.

“Stanko?! C’mon, any teacher but him,” I said, standing up.

“Then maybe you’ll think twice before hurting a classmate and sneaking off site for hours.” He put our staves down and turned to leave. “You’ve got one strike left Jaeger,” he called as he left.

“Shit,” I muttered. I rubbed my hands over my neck, it was still sore from hitting the staff. I was going to have be very careful over the next few weeks. I had the satellite images from Kellen but I would need to wait a few days at least before snooping around. Otherwise it would look suspicious, something I couldn’t afford right now. Leonine was waiting for me outside and frowned at the red mark on my neck.

“He kick your butt then?” she joked.

“Something like that,” I said. We went down to the underground tournament area. This week it was a rainforest set up. Teams were randomised and the idea was to get the flag in the middle of the room to your team’s base. We were put into the same team with three others. I blinked as Harley waved at me from the other team, smirking. I laughed and shook my head at them. I also noticed there was a Tzari on the other team which surprised me. We went to our separate arena entrances and waited for the mental grate to lift, letting us into the arena.

The other three on my team introduced themselves.  Thomas was a inventor type parahuman, equipped with plenty of devices in a utility belt, he was also a third year. I imagined he and Sanjay would get along great. Katrin was from Leonine’s class so when Leonine told me she was a capable fighter I had no reason to doubt her. Our fifth was a girl called Gabriella, she was a fourth year so she was the most experienced of us all.

All things went in this arena, you tapped out when you were beat, the expectation was that everyone was smart enough to stop before any serious harm was done. I’d seen James on the opposite team a few times in here, he was probably the one we had to worry about. He was a second year with flight, strength and was near-invulnerable to everything. Which meant I didn’t need to hold back. I grabbed two handguns and some throwing blades in case. Tom grabbed them from me without asking and attached a small device to each other.

“They’ll blow up when blood touches them,” he explained.

“Nice,” I smirked. The other two one the other team were twins with harmonic powers over ice and fire. Together they were formidable so our first job was to separate them somehow. Katrin loaded herself with a utility belt and various close combat weapons. Leonine had a sword but mostly relied on her natural fighting assets.

“Not bringing anything?” I asked Gabriella.

“I don’t need to,” she shrugged, her brown curls shifted with the movement. She me gave an appraising look briefly then turned her attention to the arena. I couldn’t help mirroring the action, even if I wasn’t particularly interested in finding anyone. Afterall, no harm in looking.

Mind Games: Part V

Mind Games

Part V: The Redo

When I returned outside Allison had heated up the pool, the air now reminding me more of a sauna. Then Allison’s partner/friend Found me.

Hello there.” She said, her tone low. She had a one-sided grin on her face as well as she very obviously looked me up and down.“I’m Sheila.”

“Hi,” I answered, wondering if I was missing something. Allison was covering their face with one palm when I glanced at them. Oh god Sheila, please don’t… I immediately stopped looking at Allison, frowning. Caroline had been practically yelling at me but it shouldn’t have been so straightforward with Allison. Unless…I had connected with them a lot, could that have had some unexpected effect? Sheila was messing with Allison, that vibe was clear.

“I’ve heard a lot about you,” Sheila said, drawing me from my musing.

“Hopefully all good. You’re Allison girlfriend, right? It’s great to meet you,” I replied.

“Good like you wouldn’t believe,” she chuckled, the words surprising me – what had Allison been saying about me?

“And we’re just friends, sort of.” It was similar to what Allison had said. I knew not all relationships were monogamous – my own parents were an example as such – but I wasn’t going to make assumptions until I had been able to speak to Allison about it. If I could ever bring myself to broach the subject. The idea of doing so made me blush.

“Oh, right,” I begun. “Are-” I stopped myself. There was no way Sheila was flirting with me, that just didn’t happen to me. “What do you think of Ravenhold?” I asked, opting for a safer subject.

“It’s fine and all, but I’m much more interested in the people.” Wow, I kind of envied her flirting skills. Except, she was definitely not flirting with me, wasn’t she? I saw Allison glare at Sheila and remembered the earlier vibe.

“Everyone here is nice. Well, avoid Allen, but everyone else is nice,” I said, smiling and trying my hardest to keep things PG. Sheila turned to Allison and began speaking in another language, I glanced between them. It was so tempting to just read their minds to know what they were saying, but I resisted it.

“I’ve heard you and Al are close,” Sheila said, suddenly resuming English.

“They’ve helped me settle in. I’m from Europe so everything here is kinda new,” I said, nodding. She muttered something else in another language, laughing.

“Well, it was nice meeting you, I’m going to be raiding the food now. Ciao-ciao,” she finally said in English, waving at us. I stared after her for a while, frowning.

“She seems nice…” I murmured, tilting my head. “Was she- nevermind, it’s not important.” It really wasn’t. I mean, she was cute, but it had only been a matter of hours since she and Allison had locked lips.

“She’s nice, don’t worry about her, she was just teasing you. She does that to everyone,” Allison said, answering my unfinished question.

I joined my parents in eating, hearing stories about Jeremy followed by me telling them about my classes. Mum of course teased me once or twice about Allison. When I shot them a side-glance it looked like they hadn’t picked up on it thankfully. The plus of being able to speak Icelandic. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Allen’s parents were okay, if very quiet. Allen himself looked like He wanted to be anywhere but there. I hoped he could resolve whatever was going on with him soon.

Eventually the evening came to an end, with Mr Martin taking our families back to the main gates. I kissed my parents goodbye and waved them goodbye, looking forward to seeing them again tomorrow. I helped with the clean up and then went to Allison’s room, knocking and chewing my lower lip until they answered the door. Gosh, why did they have to look so pretty?

“We’re still okay for tonight?” I asked, walking into their room.

“Of course.”

I nodded, remembering I didn’t have any of my PJs or toiletries. I didn’t feel ready to go back into that room with Allen alone.

“Is something wrong?” Allison asked.

“Do you want to come with me, get my stuff from upstairs?” I asked. “I don’t really want to be alone with Allen right now.”

“Sure.”

They took my hand as we walked, making the blush from earlier come back for a moment. The room was more of a mess, the corkboard on Allens side of the room was askew after a run-in with Jaeger. Allen himself was at his desk, looking at class notes. He heard our entrance and stood up, his eyes meeting mine. His gaze was uncomfortably intense but I couldn’t feel any ill intentions.

“Sage, I’m-” he started.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said. I wasn’t interested in an apology. Maybe later but not yet, I was still processing. He nodded and sat back down. My floor was chaos from the scene I had made when getting dressed. I rummaged my wardrobe and found some PJ bottoms which I put into my class backpack. Rather than waste time looking for more I decided to just grab that and fresh clothes. I was crashing on the floor anyway, I didn’t think Allison would mind me being shirtless too much… I frowned before remembering that my wash stuff was in a bag under my bed.

Speaking of Allison, something felt wrong. I glanced towards my bed where they were sat, waves of distress hitting me.

“Are you alright?” I asked.

“I’m… really not… Your room is making my OCD freak out,” they answered, twiddling their fingers nervously.

“Oh.” I grabbed the stuff from my floor and put it back in the wardrobe and threw the dirty stuff in the laundry basket. When I turned around Allison had grabbed the stuff I just put away. They folded them and put them in a different way.

“It wasn’t right,” they said, their voice defensive.

“Right?” I asked, trying to understand. Allison had mentioned having OCD but I admit it wasn’t a fact about them I had thought much about.

“Things need an order, they need to make sense and be right. If they’re not it brings all kinds of bad energies, everything’s going to go wrong. I know, it doesn’t make sense, but my brain won’t let it go,” they ranted, embarrassment flushing their cheeks. They looked down after speaking, hands crossed awkwardly in their lap. I kneeled on the carpet so they couldn’t avoid my gaze.

“It’s fine Allison, really. I’ll try to be tidier if I know you’re coming in here,” I said, holding their hands in mine.

“Thank you,” they whispered. I really wanted to kiss them. Not a passionate one, but a peck on their cheek or forehead. I didn’t, that wouldn’t be right.

“I got everything, how about we go back downstairs?” I asked, grabbing a blanket off my bed.

“Yes, sure,” they said, nodding. I thread my fingers through theirs as we walked, I could sense they were still a little shaken by their OCD. When we reached the room Rowan was already asleep in their bed.

“Guess I’ll make myself comfortable,” I said, placing the blanket on the floor next to their bed. The sofa probably would’ve been more comfortable but I felt safer around Allison.

“Wait,” they said and I glanced at them over my shoulder. Alison didn’t say anything and I frowned, standing up fully and facing them.

“Yes?” I asked, concerned. Still, they said nothing. “Allison?” I couldn’t help a nervous chuckle after I spoke. Then they placed their palms on my cheeks and moved closer to me. I saw in their eyes what they were going to do the moment before they did. I closed my eyes and felt the soft pressure of their lips on mine. The kiss was short and sweet – and so much better than the kiss with Allen. They pulled away quickly, their eyes moving downwards.