"Something In Between"
by JenX and Jinxo LALjenx2413@yahoo.com jinxoLAL@aol.com
Story #6 of the PABO Series
Disclaimer: Generation X and its respective characters
are property of Marvel Comics. Used without
permission. No copyright infringement is intended. Jen
and Alison are original characters. If you wish to use
them, you must obtain permission from the authors
(we're generally very nice about this sort of thing).
Please ask permission before archiving this or any
other PABO story.
Hot, wet liquid streamed down my face and I was
completely helpless to the effects of my emotions. I
did not care anymore. I needed some respite from the
adrenaline tempest that raged within my blood. That
break refused to come.
Oh, God, I needed to talk more than anything else. I
had never done anything to her -- why was she
punishing me like this? Why did she feel a need to
close me in like some little island without any
I couldn't even talk to Jono. Something firm had been
wedged between my contact to him -- even with the
link, such as it was. I was locked up like some kind
of bloody prisoner.
Why wouldn't she let me talk to him?
It had to be Emma's fault. She had to have done
something. Emotion so strong it produced tears had to
at least call Jono's attention, and he wasn't
responding, and this wasn't natural; it wasn't right.
Oh, hell. It wasn't even a matter of sheer stupidity.
I liked telling her exactly what I thought of her. I'd
wanted to on more than one occasion and I was so glad
when I finally did. I just didn't think it'd get me
confined to quarters like this.
My eyes were still burning. I let the tears come. I
felt my body shaking with the sobs, I was crying so
Why did I care so much about this?
Because it was unfair. It was completely beyond
unfair. She'd *shut me off*. I had no way to vent my
frustrations. I had nobody to talk to. I thought I
might be violently ill, and soon.
Why was it they always went straight for the heart?
They didn't care so much. If they really cared, they
would just let me be. My well being didn't really
matter to them. I could just leave and they might play
worried for a while, but in the long run it wouldn't
matter so much.
I wanted to get out of here.
I didn't want to leave Jono behind. Or -- hell --
even Paige, for all she was so normal, or even Jubilee
-- she'd been such a good friend. So Jubes wasn't my
best friend -- I didn't think that "best" friends
really existed -- as far as titles were concerned --
beyond grade school, where friendships were formed
with pacts and secret handshakes and notes written in
code. But Jubes had always listened, even though she'd
had her own problems to deal with. And yes, even Paige
and I had been getting along better. I think she was
beginning to come to terms with "the Jono thing" and
saw me more as an actual person instead of a threat to
a defunct relationship. We were a lot alike in so many
ways -- obsessive perfectionism in our own rights, for
one -- and so different in so many other aspects. We
had a lot to learn from each other -- a lot I was only
beginning to see from a precarious friendship that, if
broken now, surely couldn't be mended.
Alison had been my friend for years. She would
understand my reasons for leaving if no one else
would, sure, but I doubted she would accept them
And, of course, Jono -- such a mystery. I couldn't
leave him, and I would simply leave my reason at that.
It was decided: I would stay.
But what was staying worth when I couldn't even talk
to these people I held so dear?
I supposed this would be over with soon enough.
My nose was thoroughly clogged; I couldn't breathe.
In the dark, I reached blindly for the box of Kleenex
on my bedside table and found the flimsy cardboard
beneath my fingers. I used the tissue and threw it on
the ground -- no need to aim when I couldn't see the
garbage can anyway.
I closed my burning eyes. The rest of me was slowly
calming down. I was so lucky the adrenaline didn't
make me do something completely stupid or destructive,
like last time.
That was probably why I was locked up. So I wouldn't
do anything to hurt anyone else. Well, that was all
fine and good, because there was no sense in hurting
anyone else. Frost was the only one who deserved to be
hurt. Cassidy likely had a hand in it, too. But he was
indirect and subtle, where Frost was painfully blatant
-- I thought she was better than that. I mean, she was
a telepath -- she ought to have been a pro at mind
Maybe she was, and I just wasn't noticing it because
she was so good at it.
Tears flowed silently, plastering my cheeks with a
thin, sheer layer of wetness. I wanted my nose to
unclog, and all the tissues in the world wouldn't
clear these grossly filled passageways.
I wondered for a moment if Jono ever cried.
That was silly -- of course he did. Someone with such
pain as that had to cry sometimes. And my own pitiful
situation paled in comparison, but it still meant
enough to me. I didn't want to be isolated. I spent
most of my junior high and elementary years isolated.
I didn't need it imposed upon me now, when I was
finally beginning to form real relationships.
No, these were not real relationships -- these were
fictional and fake. These people didn't exist. They
were in a comic book. I was constantly forgetting
that. They were no more real than any other past
obsession was -- no more actual people than Fox Mulder
or Dana Scully.
For all I wanted to believe.
For all some part of me wanted to accept I'd found
something special here -- whether in Jono exclusively
or also in these friendships with Jubilee or Paige --
this other part was all too aware that they didn't
exist, not where I came from, and with Emma confining
me to my room, that non-existent part of my life was
throwing me so harshly back into a supposed "reality"
-- that of schoolwork and deadlines and superficial
responsibilities. My relationships had no part of this
reality. My music had no place there, either. I had no
piano in my room to play when things were harsh as
they were. Even my computer had been removed from my
room and taken to places unseen.
Now, more than ever, I not only wanted to believe,
but I needed to believe -- so desperately! -- in that
fictional reality of comics. I was an empath,
constantly aware of my powers. My aura could not now
be seen because of all my emotional interference, but
I knew it was there.
And if I closed my eyes and reached -- reached -- I
could still sense everyone in the dorm. Each girl was
in her own room, preparing for the night ahead -- or
so I would believe.
Or -- no, Jubilee was with Alison. And Monet was
Reach just a little farther --
Yes, there the guys were -- no, someone was not in
his room, but I couldn't place who. Probably Angelo.
Jono was where he should be, and Everett was too
responsible to be elsewhere past curfew. It was hardly
I was only strong enough to tell that Jono was even
there. I couldn't see his actions or emotions, and
communication was out of the question, despite his
Maybe I wasn't even that strong, and I was imagining
things. No matter. My eyes wouldn't open; the heat
behind them seemed to have fused them shut. I could
feel my breathing grow deeper, the unconsciousness of
sleep invading my system.
Maybe that was a good idea. Even if I couldn't
negotiate with Frost and Cassidy, I still could talk
to everyone during class. I still had to go to class.
They couldn't deny me that contact with others.
I waited for morning. Sleep came to claim me.
The alarm screamed at me. Not wanting to face any kind
of day, I silenced it with a sharp slap atop its
plastic façade. The alarm subsided and was replaced
with REM, reminding me that "Everybody hurts
sometimes." I glared at the evil appliance and pulled
the blankets over my head. It was warmer beneath them.
My eyes still hurt from last night's emotional
outburst. I did not want to get up. I would have to
deal with *Frost*. But for all I didn't want to face
the rest of the world, if I never woke up, I would not
see Jono and everyone else. And I had to talk to other
people. I needed them. I could not bear to remain
locked up, and school was my only way out of this, my
only means of communication with anyone.
And class had to be better than this.
*Anything* had to be better than this.
With that conviction, I turned on the light and
furiously rubbed sleep from my still-burning eyes. I
hadn't gotten enough sleep last night.
I moved muddily through the motions of getting ready
for class, skipping breakfast altogether -- not enough
time -- and made my way across campus to the
classrooms. It was not terribly cold out, but chilly
enough for May. The morning hour likely played a part
in the temperatures. I sincerely hoped it would warm
Cautiously, I made my way into the deserted hallways
and headed for the classroom. I was terribly close to
being late -- as close as I could be without actually
being tardy. Without a word, I walked to the back of
the room to my seat. I wanted to go back to sleep; the
light hurt my eyes, so I closed them for the few
moments before class started.
"Please take out your homework and pass it forward."
I didn't move. I had no homework. I didn't care.
I wanted to cut all my hair off. Get it real short.
And purple. That would be cool.
But that was completely beside any point there might
be. I sighed; my breath came thickly and easily.
Sweet, cold oxygen filled me -- more than usual, my
I just wanted to be able to talk to people, and I
couldn't, because I was nearly late, and there wasn't
any time to really talk. It wasn't as though I truly
had anything relevant to say, though -- it was more
the principle of the thing, and my ability to talk to
people also gave me a much-needed ability to vent my
frustrations, because they also couldn't stand Frost,
and since I couldn't have that, I was beyond
Yes, I decided, I would live. I would get through
this day, and perhaps I could even attempt to reason
with Frost at the next available time. And if I were
lucky, she'd allow me some respite from the
restrictions placed on me.
I had a feeling, though, that I was only getting my
hopes up. Either way, it still enabled me to plod
wearily through the motions of the morning and its
classes until we were finally given a collective break
for lunch. We abandoned the classroom.
Jono hung back, expressing one worried glance before
I sent along /Yes! Need to talk!/ but my sending was
apparently ignored as he joined Paige for an excursion
I sighed, disgusted with my own feeble attempts at
finding solace, but was surprised to find Jubilee
waiting for me. "Oh -- hi! I -- I didn't see you
there," I explained.
Jubilee grinned. "S'okay," she answered, shrugging
off my oversight.
I bit my lip and tried to laugh, but I found nothing
funny. "Frost has me confined to quarters," I
explained softly, quickly, to get my point across and
make absolutely certain there was no question as to
what had put me in such a terrible mood.
"Dude," Jubilee commented in amazement. "Way harsh.
I let out a long breath of air and tried to think of
some way to explain just what it was I had done
without making myself look like the evil bad student
that I probably was. "I wrote her a letter," I finally
said, and started walking towards the kitchen, hoping
Jubilee would follow.
She did. "One of those like totally nasty
'I-hate-you' things?" she asked.
I considered that. "Sort of," I replied. "Well, yeah.
But I only told her the truth, and I didn't just come
out and say I hated her, and if I didn't write
something like this, then nobody would."
"Yah," she agreed. "Having a telepath for a teacher
is kinda like that. Ya can't do anything without them
knowin', and when ya do get found out, they always
know yer the one who did it and stuff, and then
there's like that weird fear of getting like totally
I had to admit I was feeling masochistic and useless,
so I truly wouldn't have cared if my brain were to
become fried somewhere in the process of my
punishment. I supposed that, in the long run, I
probably deserved it -- but right now, it wasn't fair,
because I was only being perfectly honest.
"I remember one time back when I was with the X-Men,
and Betsy was cooking -- totally weird 'cause she's
like the take out queen -- and it was like scrambled
eggs and everyone was like totally weirded out and
stuff 'cause she was in this majorly pissed mood and
she said that's what she'd do to our like synapses and
stuff if she ever found out we did anything to her or
her stuff again. But I didn't do anything then, well,
I didn't think so, 'cause I don't remember if I did
but I woulda remembered if I did, and 'cause I don't
remember I guess I didn't, but yeah I see what you
mean about like telepaths an' stuff."
"Well," I broke in, "it's not that I'm so worried
about getting scrambled." I had Jono's ever present
shielding to protect me from that, so even if I did
commit a scramble-able offense, Frost couldn't do
anything about it. "It's this grounding I hate. It's
like I can't have a life. Well -- I don't have much of
a life to begin with, but it's mine, and I like it, so
I'd like to at least keep what I have, you know?"
"Yeah," Jubilee agreed. "I know. It was the same way
with me and the X-Men. I mean, I didn't have like a
real 'family', but ya take what ya get, and they were
like so great to me. Still are, even, and I don't want
to get them taken away. I think I'd like, die."
That thought had never truly occurred to me -- but I
was so glad she brought it up. Jubilee and I were so
different -- and yet we still managed to connect on
the levels that really united people. I liked that.
And it made me feel better. "I guess it's the same
with you guys," I admitted, even though it really
wasn't, but there was something similar, in a way.
"You're my friends. I didn't have many back home
'cause I was 'psycho'." I could sense this
conversation was about to take a decidedly mushy turn
-- not something I needed just then. I just wanted
everything to be normal. Fortunately, the kitchen was
just around the corner.
I opened the door and found Alison, Everett, and
Angelo raiding the cabinets. Shortly after I arrived,
Frost entered through the door opposite me -- mild
~surprise~ registering before she neatly composed
herself, straightening her jacket and stepping into
the room with an imperial air. *What are you doing
here?* she demanded.
I squirmed uneasily. Her telepathic voice grated just
inside my head with an invasive pressure -- why did
she insist upon using it when she could just as easily
speak to me like any other person? She shouldn't have
even been able to use her powers on me; the link
*You are to remain in your room,* she reminded me.
I turned to Jubilee for help -- or Alison, or anyone
-- but Jubilee had effectively removed herself from
the room (on account of Frost's presence, I guessed),
and Alison was following Ev and Angelo out of the
I was stuck. "Ms. Frost," I explained, as calmly as I
could, "how am I to attend class if I am in my room?"
Perhaps reason would work with her. I hoped it would.
"You are not to attend class," she informed me simply.
"Did I not make myself perfectly clear? Your
instructions were to remain in your room until you
were informed otherwise."
"But I'm hungry," I protested. "I need to eat."
Ms. Frost paused, contemplating some response and
likely some additional punishments for my breach of
conduct. "Fine," she acquiesced. "Fine. You may get
yourself something to eat, and then you will remain in
It wasn't much of a deal, but it was enough of one.
How was I supposed to know that I wasn't supposed to
go to class? I just figured I would have to. And I
hadn't even gotten to talk to Jono because he had gone
somewhere with that -- that Paige!
I took my sweet time procuring my meal, all the while
under Frost's watchful gaze that bore down on me and
itched something awful. She actually *followed* me as
I carried my sandwich and chips upstairs to my
room-turned-prison. This I didn't understand. On
nearly every occasion in which I'd been frustrated,
annoyed, or just plain mad, I'd retreated to my room
-- it had been a respite from the evils of Frost and
everyone else. Now, she used my own refuge against me.
I'd heard theories of what hell must be like -- that
gluttons were allowed to constantly eat, and gamblers
were allowed to constantly win -- and it would
eventually drive them mad. Of course, it was much too
late for me to go mad, but -- I just wanted to be let
out of here!
Fortunately, Frost didn't keep watch on me; she had to
teach afternoon classes. Theoretically, I could get
out of here and roam, but -- what? Someone stood
outside my door like a guard posted to prevent me from
escaping. The signature was strangely unfamiliar --
didn't I know everyone here? I opened the door a crack
and peered through the small opening to find that some
red and black mass crouched outside my door. The
girl's expression was vacant and bored; she, like I,
longed to be elsewhere.
I tried to broadcast ~peace~friendship~ because I knew
perfectly well that she could easily hurt me without
Giving off a pale but warm ~curiosity~, her head
tilted upwards towards me. I could see my reflection
mirrored in her blue eyes which seemed too large for
her characteristically red face, almost like an anime
character -- eyes so large were terribly disturbing,
but not nearly as disturbing as the girl herself.
I tried to hide my nervousness as I smiled and waved
gently. She was almost ~perplexed~. "Hey," I greeted
She just kept looking at me, examining me with that
intent, childlike curiosity, never giving any
indication that she'd even heard me.
"Um hello?" I tried again, but she still gave no
response. I was confused, sure, but I decided to let
the matter simply drop as an idea struck me squarely
between the eyes. "Hey could you do me a favor?" I
asked. I didn't wait for her to answer -- I figured
she just wouldn't -- and I went to my desk, searching
vainly for a scrap of paper or anything else to write
on. I finally found an envelope and scribbled a hasty
message on it.
I didn't get to talk to you earlier; I'm sorry. I'm
not there now because I'm stuck in my room -- grounded
or something. I tried contacting you, but it wasn't
working, and I think it's Frost's fault. --shrug-- If
you're not too busy after class, come visit, well, if
you want to, I'm not going anywhere. I'll understand
if you don't want to.
I really hate Frost.
I tore the section of envelope that had the note on it
off, and folded it, writing Jono's name on the
outside. I bent down to Penance's level and asked,
"Could you take this to Jono, please?"
As before, she remained silent and inert. It was like
talking to a brick wall. She was truly starting to
thoroughly irritate me. I sighed audibly and went back
to my desk, searching for a roll of masking tape that
I was sure I'd left in there. I found it in no time,
and went back to Penance's side. "Hold still," I
instructed, ripping off a piece of tape.
I didn't want to be too forward. There was no reason
for me to simply grab her arm to tape the note to it,
and I truly didn't want to be hurt, and I didn't know
what would provoke her to attack. She seemed placid
enough in the few moments she'd been here, but she was
an unknown entity. I had to be careful.
With that in mind, I calmly told her what I was going
to do. "Okay," I explained, "hold out your arm. I need
you to take this to Jono, and I don't want it to be
all scratched up and destroyed. So I'm going to tape
it around your arm, where you can't hurt it, okay?" I
held out my own arm in demonstration.
She looked at my arm.
I sighed. This wasn't going to work. "Please?" I
She looked up at me, turned and left.
Fat lot of good *that* did. I tossed the folded note
onto the floor and fell back onto my bed.
- Alison -
I walked slowly to class, trying to keep my balance
and not trip as my feet refused to do anything but
drag along the ground. I was so tried all of a sudden,
and my head was starting to ache. I sniffled - no, I
was not getting a cold. Nope, no way. Absolutely not.
And that was that.
That problem settled, I made my way into the
classroom and sat down wearily at my desk. I noticed
that Jen wasn't there - was she late? But a moment
later when Sean began class and she still wasn't
there, I began to wonder if she was even coming at
all. I hoped she was okay, but pushed my worries about
her aside as Sean went to the board and wrote down an
equation, turning around to speak to us as I tried to
force myself to concentrate.
Easier said than done - as he spoke, my eyelids began
to drift shut and my mind began to wander. I tried to
make myself pay attention more forcibly; this was
math, after all, and it would be a good thing to pay
attention. He was reviewing conic sections today,
however, and I was already quite familiar with them.
Thus, that made it even harder to concentrate, and
what with my attention span's already diminished
capacity to function, I knew it would only be a matter
of time before I would begin counting the dots on the
ceiling tile. If this ceiling even had tile with dots
" and what would be the range and domain of this
Oh, that was easy - it would be
Maybe that new Methos movie would be out; if I could
con Monica into going after sectionals, maybe I could
see it later. But Methos wouldn't be -
Huh? I blinked; the problem on the board was
different, and Sean was reviewing the equation of the
circle he had drawn.
" so since x^2 + y^2 = 9, the radius of the circle
Slaughterhouse - 5 was a good book, but I really
wanted to read Timequake. Maybe I could start it in
homeroom, but I still had to read -
" and this hyperbola would be at 5 on the y-axis
That webpage had been so cool - I'd have to go visit
it next time I went online. But I still had to -
" so when you take the negative square root, you
Methos and Mac sitting around a campfire, talking in
the dark about -
" y - 1 = (3/4)(x - 3), so the normal line to the
Swords coming at me were bad, I figured. But it was
so dark, everything moved so slowly, and I couldn't -
What had happened? Maybe it was Blair's fault - he
could have accidentally tripped on something, or maybe
he knocked over the lamp and that was why it was so
dark in -
"Alison? Lass, are ye all right? Are ye awake?"
"Hunh?" I looked up from my desk - no, I was on the
floor? Why on earth was I on the floor? How had I
"Alison, are ye all right?" Sean asked again; I could
hear intermittent snickers and whispers from everyone
else, most likely Jubilee and Angelo, as Sean reached
out a hand and helped pull me up into a sitting
position. I climbed to my feet, holding on to my desk
for support as the world I returned to seemed to spin
just a bit faster than I remembered. I was confused at
this point - really confused, in fact. What was going
"What happened?" I asked, causing more whispering and
snickering to resonate throughout the already
too-quiet room. All I remembered was Oh my God, I had
not fallen asleep in class. Had I?
"You fainted." Monet stated matter-of-factly.
"No " I'd never fainted before, why should I now?
Sean looked at me, concern in his spinning features as
I gripped my desk for support. He felt my forehead and
his brow furrowed deeper. Ye've got a fever, lass." he
informed me. "Why don'tcha go ta bed for a while?"
Personally, I couldn't agree more. Bed seemed like an
extremely nice place right now.
- Jen -
I stared at the ceiling. I'd been staring at the
ceiling for the past couple hours, trying to fall
asleep for lack of anything better to do. All this
punishment would do would allow me more hours of
I wondered how long this would last. Would I be
allowed out tomorrow?
This was ridiculous. I was seventeen and a half, and
I shouldn't be cooped up like some kind of child. I
would be a legal adult in a matter of months; this was
just plain silly.
The knock on my door woke me from the half-asleep
state I'd entered. I turned on the light, put my
glasses back on, and answered the door.
Alison stood there, looking rather pathetic. Her
curly hair hung limply in her face, her eyes were
slightly puffy and red, and she radiated a
particularly miserable sentiment that I did not enjoy
"What --?" I began.
"I'b sig," she explained, her speech impaired by her
"Oh," I answered, "I'm sorry. I'm grounded."
"Oh," she responded. "I'b sorry." She stuck her hand
into one pocket and pulled out a crumpled piece of
paper, handing it to me. "Jodo wadded be to gib dis to
you," she explained.
I took it, deciding to read it later, after Alison
was gone. "So you're up here because you're so sick?"
"Subdig lige dat."
I laughed good-naturedly at her interesting vocal
patterns. Of course, she found it necessary to burst
into indignant self-pity. "You're lavig ad be!" she
exclaimed. "Why are you lavig ad be? I cad helb id iv
I tog vuddy.
I sighed, resigning myself to her strange mood -- I
wouldn't want it to rub off on me; I was bad enough as
it was. "I wasn't laughing at you," I assured her, and
kept talking before she could comment on the truth of
my statement or the complete lack thereof. "Are you
going to get some sleep? You should. And get some
orange juice. That would help."
"Yeah," she agreed, "I'b goig do do dat."
"Right now?" I whined. Of course, I wanted her to
stay and keep me company, but I didn't want to catch
whatever she had -- it didn't sound too good, and the
last thing I needed was illness on top of all of this.
"Iv I dode, I'b goig do vall asleeb ride here," she
I sensed there was something more than just what she
told me, but I was hardly about to press the issue
since she seemed particularly crabby. "That wouldn't
be good," I agreed. "I'll see you later."
"Bye," she said, and left.
I was alone again. How odd -- my two visitors had
likely breached conduct by coming to see me, and Frost
had no way of knowing. I felt empowered, like I'd
beaten her. Granted, it was only Penance, who didn't
know better, and a sick Alison, who was allowed to be
up here anyway, but I couldn't help feeling victorious
over some evil that was most decidedly out to get me,
and it was a tremendous feeling.
I sat back down on my bed and unfolded the note from
Jen, for some reason everything has not been working
right lately. I don't know why. I can't seem to fix
it. I will talk to you later, if I can, I will come to
see you. I miss you. -Jono
I couldn't help laughing out loud. I had truly
conquered the evil Emma Frost! I grinned like a
madwoman, refolding the note and stuffing it into my
But until he was able to come here -- until class let
out in a few hours -- I would still have to compromise
my situation and find some way to amuse myself without
any real means to do so. I'd made the mistake of
misplacing my notebook -- well, truthfully, I knew
exactly where it was: on the piano, where I'd been
composing yesterday. So naturally, I still wouldn't be
allowed to get it, even though writing was an activity
that didn't require any of those items I wasn't
allowed to have.
If the link wasn't malfunctioning, I could just ask
Jono to get it and bring it when he came. I sighed and
pulled the cover over my head, hoping maybe I could
sleep some more.
Of course, that was silly. Why should I sleep all
day? I really ought to try and figure out what was
wrong with the link -- if I could, of course. After
all, it wasn't as though I'd been locked out of my
Cautiously, making sure I didn't touch upon Frost, I
extended my mind in an empathic search, trying to key
in on Jono's signature. He was in class, just as I
figured he would be, if his ~boredom~impatience~ was
any indication. I couldn't communicate with him,
though -- not even empathically; I thought perhaps the
distance put a limit on what I could and couldn't do
with my powers. He had to know I was there, though --
so why wasn't he even establishing that contact that I
knew he could initiate? He was certainly powerful
enough, and his telepathy had to be able to reach that
far. It wasn't even very far, just across campus.
But I heard nothing. Not even an emotional reaction
at my presence. He didn't even acknowledge that I was
there. This was so stupid. I couldn't believe I ever
thought this would work -- this stupid, stupid
relationship, not just this idiotic link that wasn't
even working anyway. I couldn't count on anything to
work, especially when he'd just ignored me completely
this morning, again, like I wasn't even there, like
Paige was so much better and wonderful and I didn't
deserve this because I was quite obviously psycho.
Well, no. The psychosis wasn't what was truly wrong
-- it was just that Paige was better.
Well, fine. He could have her. He could just have
her, and that would be fine with me because he was so
much happier with her and I just wanted him to be
happy and if he wasn't as happy with me then I would
just let go and I'd be okay with that because it was
all for him anyway -- why should I care one bit about
my own happiness? It didn't matter. It didn't matter.
I really wanted my notebook now. I scrounged around
in my desk for that scrap of envelope I'd written my
note on, hoping the inside was clean. Fortunately it
was, and I ripped it cleanly along the edge, revealing
the pure white writing surface that lay before me. I
wrote small to conserve space, letting my frustrations
bleed onto paper in free verse.
The same sort of crap that Emma insisted I abandon
entirely, ready to conform to her ridiculous ideals. I
was not perfect and I knew that. I embraced that -- I
welcomed my human flaws openly, knowing they were part
of me just as were my talents. I didn't strive for
perfection. I was most certainly not Monet. Nor was I
the model student that Paige aimed to be.
Bloody Paige. Why did she have to even be here? Why
did she have to be so much better? She only served to
make things more complicated for me.
I stared at the envelope's inside, half-covered in
flat-looking pen strokes. I had nothing more to write,
nothing more to say. The empty paper was plain and
boring -- disgustingly white. So pure white it made me
I closed my eyes so I didn't have to look at its
blinding whiteness and felt a chill run through me. I
squeezed my eyes tighter -- tighter, scrunched my face
up as small as it would go, and scrunched my whole
body up as small as it would go, burying my head in my
knees and wrapping my arms all around myself, letting
my own warmth fill me up and cure the chill that still
I hated Paige.
I didn't just dislike her. I didn't just wish she
would go away and leave me alone forever and ever. I
hated her with such a rolling, flaming passion that
seethed throughout every ounce of my being, and that
coursed through my bloodstream with intense adrenal
rage like nothing I'd ever truly experienced before.
This was more than the simple jealousy I'd felt in
years past for any of the others -- more than any of
the other girls who had been so much better than I
She was the pretty one. She was the smart one. I
could find no fault or flaw in her -- for all Monet
bragged her own perfection, she could hardly hold a
candle to Paige. She was the one who everyone adored
-- teachers' pet, everybody's friend, and above all of
that, she had Jono. I wanted to be rid of her. I would
find a way to be rid of her. I hated her.
I ripped up the envelope and scattered its confetti
all over the floor, bright white snowflakes falling to
the ground, then pulled the blanket back over myself,
hoping to hide far away from everyone.
My thoughts were interrupted, dismembered by a
demanding knock on my door. Dismembered -- that would
be a nifty way to get rid of Paige. I pictured her
with her legs and arms scattered as the paper on my
carpet, with her blood staining whatever was left of
her filthy shell, with her bones protruding
gruesomely, with her flesh torn where limbs had been
severed, and with her organs reduced to oily, fleshy
spots on the walls, painted with blood and --
*Jen, are you in there?*
Oh, it was him: the traitor. Reluctantly, I opened
the door he stood behind and returned to my bed and
its nice warm covers and images of death. I knew he
didn't really want to talk to me, so why should I
bother to pay him any mind?
Jono stood in the doorway, staring at me before I
could pull the blanket over my head. *Can I come in?*
he asked sensibly.
I looked to the floor, but nodded anyway. "I guess."
After all, I didn't want him to leave, and if he
didn't leave, he would have to stay.
*You guess?* he inquired. *What's wrong?*
Oh, dear, did it look like something was *wrong*? Of
course nothing was wrong. Nothing could ever be
*wrong*. Not here, not now, not with me. What a silly
idea. A sarcastic laugh escaped my lips, truly closer
to a cough than an actual laugh.
Jono walked across the room, extending a crisp white
envelope to me. I took it; my name was written cleanly
across its face in Frost's slightly angular hand.
*It's from Ms. Frost,* he explained.
I nodded. "Yeah." I could see that perfectly well.
"I'll -- read it later."
*Okay,* Jono answered, not really sure where to take
this next and apparently drowning in the uncomfortable
silence that followed. I had nothing to say to him --
nothing nice, anyway -- and if he had nothing to say
to me, then there was no reason for him to stay,
despite my earlier requests or my necessity for his
company. I certainly did not understand that
*I talked to Frost,* he offered.
I nodded ever so slowly, finally allowing the blanket
to fall. I knew perfectly well that I didn't need that
physical barrier when the other walls between us had
been built so high.
*She's worried,* Jono continued.
"Hah!" The burst of sarcastic laughter exploded from
my lips like a gunshot.
*No,* Jono insisted, *seriously.*
Keeping a skeptical eye trained on him, I crossed one
leg over the other and folded my arms in front of me.
This should be good. Frost was hardly one to be
concerned when she hated me. Fortunately, the feeling
was mutual, so I really had nothing to worry about --
aside from the lingering threat of fried brains, of
course, but I could expect no less from Ms. Emma
*She's worried about you. And* -- he paused for a
moment to collect his thoughts before sending them to
me -- *and so am I.*
That was unexpected.
Was it? Didn't I accept his concern -- unexpressed
though it may be? Didn't I know what he felt, despite
his attempts to hide everything from me?
Yes -- I could at least admit that much to myself. I
knew -- but I couldn't possibly tell anyone of my own
emotions, simply because I hadn't a clue what they
were. I could guess, sure, but beyond guesses I didn't
know, because my own thoughts were so tangled with his
that I hardly knew where I ended and he began. That
was the way it was when he was so near to me.
I didn't need to ask to know that that was the very
problem he spoke of -- the very concern he had in
"But if you're so concerned," I asked out loud, "then
why were you so -- I mean, you just -- " I couldn't
find the way to express my worries; the proper words
refused to come, and I finally gave up, frustrated
with myself. I had no kind words to describe Paige,
and I didn't want to misstep and potentially ruin
those unexpressed emotions that he must have held for
*Paige is a friend,* he explained. *She's -- well
issues needed to discuss. But that's between us.*
I looked at the floor, and chanced a glance back up
at Jono, as I smiled nervously -- though I couldn't
imagine why. Here was someone so truly beautiful, who
found in me something to worry about? It was hard to
*Just as this is between us,* he explained.
Right -- this. For all my understanding, I couldn't
be sure whether he was referring to some ambiguous
"this", such as some sort of real relationship that
obviously couldn't possibly actually be there, or the
link that still confused both of us. The former I
didn't have a clue about, but the latter -- well,
there were only two ways to really solve that problem:
either terminate the link, or learn to use it to our
advantage. But we couldn't do that. I couldn't.
Instead I gathered up bits and pieces of courage
which had been discarded earlier and collaged them
into one big lump that propelled me forward, allowing
me to ask the question that had been biting the back
of my head until I'd actually gone and asked it. "Why
did you shut me out earlier? I tried to reach you
during class -- I tried all day, but never anything.
~surprise~ *You did? I didn't hear you.*
For a moment I was certain he was lying, but I
brushed that suspicion aside, giving room to more
comforting notions -- like the truth. And the trust
that I wanted to believe in. "Well," I explained,
"later it was just empathic because, y'know, the link
wasn't working, and I was hoping you'd respond."
*Oh. I -- really didn't hear you.* He was quick to
continue in his explanation. *I know this must look
awful to you, but really, I'm not shutting you out. *
Despite the insistence that he could not possibly be
telling the truth, if only because it was so easy to
lie, I believed him. I couldn't imagine why I did
perhaps it was because I needed something to believe
in, even if they were only small words. I could give
him that chance.
I glanced at the envelope in my hands.
A chance was all she needed, too, if she was sincere
in her desire to prove herself. It was all I needed,
too, if I wanted to prove myself to her, and show her
that I was a perfectly capable human being who was
unafraid to declare her position and stand in it
instead of this wishy-washy creature she'd made me out
to be. I was prepared to take on anything, and I
wasn't willing to let anyone get the better of me or
make me conform to everyone else.
Because I certainly wasn't anyone else, and it was
ridiculous of anyone to think that I ever would be.
And Jono was here -- here! -- and he'd even said that
Paige was of no consequence, and if he thought that I
was better, then of course I must be better.
I smiled to myself, sighed, looked at the floor,
looked back to Jono, and felt the smile creep across
my face again. It broke into an actual grin, which had
indeterminate origins but that much of it was hardly
important to me.
I expressed real ~gratitude~, and
~acceptance~happiness~friendship~. It was returned
with comfortable, warm emotions that cushioned my
doubts and fears, surrounding and enveloping them so
they might encounter oblivion.
There was so much I wanted -- he knew that perfectly
well. That simple, aching need melded with his own
necessities just as our emotions blended. It was
beautiful. For the first time, I could really consider
it truly beautiful. It was so much more than I'd ever
really thought it could be. I scarcely believed I had
done it myself -- I doubted I had; Jono seemed to have
just as much to do with it as I had, instead of simply
going along as though this had been done to him
against his will. That he enjoyed this made it all the
more curious, but I wasn't about to question it.
Instead, I reached out physically, clasping his hand
in my own. That single act did no more to actually
strengthen the link, but it seemed to -- so much so I
feared I would burn myself out with all the energy. I
closed my eyes to prevent the room from spinning
wildly around me, hoping that the world might stop
moving in circles.
I sensed Jono's ~concern~ instantaneously, and I
vainly tried to insist that I would be okay. I could
feel everything -- the raw power he somehow managed to
keep a rein on, barely controlling it for all it was
controlling him -- I felt this power above everything
else, tempting me so sweetly, begging me to use it.
That was silly, though -- I couldn't access a power
that wasn't mine to hold. I resisted that temptation,
beautiful though it was, and tried desperately to hold
I could feel the power building up inside me -- for a
moment I saw myself through his eyes, felt my own hand
through his skin, heard my own thoughts through his
amazing, delicious power. It was like looking into a
hundred mirrors reflecting one another to infinity.
And then it ended.
The reflections, the strange passion, and the
knowledge of myself against myself stopped abruptly,
without warning. Everything was calm: the only audible
sounds were my own breathing and my heart beating
hollowly inside my chest. Between these shallow
breaths, I managed to force out words. "What --
happened?" I asked. I wasn't certain Jono would
actually know, but I hoped he would.
He didn't respond. Something caught inside my throat
and I tried to swallow it. "Jono?" I asked through the
lump; something burned my eyes. "Jono, are you okay?"
Still no response came. I tried to probe his
consciousness with the link, but it was as though
another wall had been constructed between us.
Light! Not again! Not now, not now! Frantically I
explored my options -- there was nothing I could
really do to help -- help! Had to get help!
I ignored the confinement placed on me and ran out of
my room to get someone. Nobody was in the hallway --
where was everyone? I tried to search for someone --
anyone -- and I thought I'd gotten a lock on someone
when some amazing force hit me from within my head.
It was purple, I noted absently before the pain
completely took over, pressing and exploding inside.
--- Jen ---
My head hurt. A steady throbbing pounded angrily in
the back of my head, spreading slowly to the front and
down my neck into the rest of my body. Desperately, I
searched the link for an empathic hand to hold and
I fell into a sick panic that didn't blend well with
the aching pain that threatened to consume what was
left of me. I swallowed deeply, feeling my breath come
shorter and the ache in my shoulders pressing from
within, like something longing to break free of these
restraining walls this body provided.
For a moment I felt everything: every mind in the
whole house, in the whole campus, and further --
spreading out until I was certain I felt the emotions
of every rational and irrational creature in the whole
of Snow Valley. And then it was gone. Not silent,
because I never heard anything to begin with, but
gone. Just -- just gone. My own emotions were as gone
as the rest of them, the world dead around my heart.
And the only thing I could have reached out to was
gone with it -- the telepathic link was -- it was
dead. Just dead. Not cut, not severed, not anything
like that. Just dead. Broken.
Under any other circumstances, the termination of
that which I held so dear would have certainly been
cause for saltwater to sting my eyes and fall to my
cheeks. But now the emotion that would bring tears was
as absent as the link it would have cried over.
I felt nobody. And nobody came, and nobody talked to
me, her feet echoing in dry footsteps on the hardwood
floor I sat on. She pulled me from the bench I
reclined against and propped my limp body against her
own, walking me down the hall and repeating my name in
my ear like an abstract litany.
"Jen? Jennifer, can you hear me?"
I nodded. I could hear just fine. I turned to the
nobody that helped me down the hall, the dark-haired
nobody -- Jubilee? What was she doing here? "I can
walk," I informed her.
Yes, I could walk just fine. And breathe, and talk,
and -- and I was here. But that was all. The bright
pink aura that I was so used to seeing around Jubilee
had also disappeared. I couldn't feel her. She might
as well not be there. She wasn't there. But she was
how could she be if I didn't feel her? Or anyone? That
was weird. She must have been there. I could see her
She drew her hands from me, relinquishing her
support, since she realised I didn't need it after
"Jen, are you okay?"
"Yeah," I said absently. I guessed I was okay. There
wasn't anything I could do, of course.
"Cassidy wants to talk to you."
There was something odd about her request --
something else I had to tell her -- right, some old
memory that tickled the back of my mind, reminding me
of some task I hadn't done. But I didn't know what it
was -- I t must not have been too important if I
couldnt remember. "Oh. Okay," I answered. I let her
take me to wherever he was, down hallways to a vaguely
unfamiliar office space. "By the way," Jubilee began
as we walked down the hall, "aren't ya supposed to be
grounded or somethin'? Why's Irish wanna talk to ya?"
I had to admit I had no idea; I shrugged. "Dunno."
"But how come yer like so out of it and stuff?"
I shrugged again. "Dunno."
Jubilee stopped in her tracks and turned to face me
directly. "What is up with you? Everything okay?"
"Dunno," I explained. I truly didn't know. Why did
she think I did? I was only being honest.
I walked into the office. It was dark.
"Thank ye, Jubilee," Cassidy said from behind his
desk, his words hanging in the air just outside my
This was a pretty office. The carpet was a deep shade
of forest green with little spots of brown, and the
walls were almost raspberry colored. No, not
raspberry, more like cranberry or currant. Yes, more
like currant, with richly finished dark cherry wood on
the desk and cabinets, and an eclectic collection of
tables and chairs, which were not necessarily
upholstered, and those that were didn't match. They
should have matched. Of course, that would've defeated
the purpose of "eclectic" altogether, wouldn't it?
Before any more could be said, the door opened
apparently of its own accord. Paige ran in with her
hair all messed up. "Mr. Cassidy?" she asked, her
voice small and rushed. "Sir, I -- I can't find Jono."
As soon as the words left her lips, she looked at the
floor, and I thought that through the blonde curtain
that hung before her face I saw her face flush
crimson. "I mean," she continued, trying to fix her
apparent errors (not that I saw any), "I mean I was
supposed to meet him over an hour ago. I've looked all
over the campus. I'm -- I -- I'm worried, sir." She
tried to smile but her face wouldn't let her.
"He's upstairs," I explained.
Paige's eyes went wide and then narrow and she looked
at me harshly, the hands at her sides curling into
fists. "What -- " she began.
"Paige, please, I'm sure he's alright," Mr. Cassidy
interjected, in an almost vain attempt to calm the
poor girl down.
I didn't understand why she was acting like that.
"Actually," I admitted, not sure I really wanted to
explain the situation to them -- but above all,
realising that I had to or Jono might not get better,
"he's not all that okay."
Paige tensed but said nothing, trying desperately to
remain calm under the circumstances and Cassidy's
He looked to me, with his eyebrows in unusual
positions on his face, and said, "What I have to talk
to you about will have to wait, then. Why don't ye
tell us what happened?" He pushed the door open to let
Paige and me out as I led the way back to my room.
"Well," I began, "I was in my room, and Jono came in
to talk to me. And we were talking when I don't know
I blanked out, I guess, I don't remember what
happened next --"
"-- anyway, something purple happened and Jono wasn't
answering me or moving or anything. I don't know why.
He's probably still up there or something ."
"Sir," Paige began, obviously addressing Mr. Cassidy.
After all, I was not a sir. "Don't you think Jen's
story ought to be considered more closely?"
He turned to her. "I do nae think there's anything to
consider about it," he told her, and that made me feel
warm and fuzzy inside. I was doing something right,
and Paige was wrong. I smiled, and it hurt. But then I
remembered poor Jono still behind the doorway that was
coming up on my left. I pushed the door to my room
open and he was on the floor in the same position he'd
been in when I'd left. This didn't look good. I didn't
know how they were going to make sure he was okay.
They couldn't easily check for breathing or a
heartbeat like they could with anyone else, since it
wouldn't matter anyway.
Paige got an idea and knelt beside him, methodically
unravelling his bandages. The bright orange-yellow
fire that should have been there, that I expected to
see, had been replaced by a calm, pale blue glow. That
was strange. He should have been orange. I hoped he
was okay. He wasn't okay.
There wasn't anything we could really do for him,
either, except wait for him to wake up. He was going
to wake up, because he wasn't dead. If he was dead,
then the glow would be completely absent, and the glow
was still there, so he was going to be okay. But right
now he wasn't okay.
"He needs medical attention," Paige explained. "Do
you think it's safe to move him?"
I had no way of knowing whether it was safe or not,
so I didn't say anything. I hoped Mr. Cassidy knew
what was going on, though, because I certainly didn't.
"I cannae tell," he explained. "Both of ye watch him,
and note any changes. I'll be right back."
I didn't know where he was going and apparently
neither did Paige. I didn't like being stuck in my
room with her, though. She didn't belong in here. It
was my room. I didn't want or need her in here.
Silently, I willed her to find some reason to leave
and act upon it, allowing me my solitude.
Instead, she actually had the audacity to speak to
me. "Can you do anything?" she asked, her voice soft
"Why would I be able to do anything?" She was
confusing me. Maybe she was being confusing on
purpose. I knew she didn't like me much.
Her face twisted up and she made a funny noise. She
visibly swallowed before yelling at me. "You can check
him. Find out what's wrong. I don't even know if he's
still alive! You do!"
She was doing that confusing thing again.
"The your thing. Link. Check on him!" Now she was
talking louder, her hair flying into her face. She
made no effort to brush it aside.
"I can't," I told her, "it's all gone."
Her eyes went wide and her mouth started working but
no sound came out. "What's gone?"
"All the people," I answered. I couldn't explain any
better than that. All the people were gone. I'd known
they were there before, and now they weren't there
anymore. And the person who had been there even more
than any other, the person I knew everything for,
well, he wasn't there anymore, either. Nobody was
"What are you talking about?" Paige demanded, her
hands in the air in front of her. She was talking
funny, stressing weird words, and I could have sworn I
heard some kind of accent creep into her voice.
"All the people went away," I repeated. "Him, too." I
added, indicating Jono. He didn't look so good.
Paige folded her arms. "Can ah hear this in English?"
I wondered what language I was speaking in if I
wasn't speaking in English.
"Are ya tryin' ta tell me that" -- she unfolded her
arms and brushed her hair behind her ears -- "that
your powers are gone?"
Powers? That was such a funny word. I didn't have any
powers. I was just Jen. Just me. Why would I have any
powers? "Yeah, I guess. But -- "
I was interrupted as Frost and Cassidy and all the
other students barreled into my room without knocking.
Mr. Cassidy and Monet and Everett took Jono away. I
didn't want them to do that. I wanted him here, where
I knew he was okay, and where I could keep watch on
him. Ms. Frost watched them leave, and with a glare
dismissed Paige and Jubilee and Angelo, who lingered
in the doorway, hoping to get in on the most recent
developments. She closed the door before turning to
me. "Would you mind explaining what in hell just
happened here?" she demanded. Her eyes were burning
me, and I couldn't look at her anymore without getting
"I don't know," I admitted.
"Why don't you tell me what you *do* know," she
insisted icily, taking a seat in my desk chair and
crossing one leg over the other.
I sat down on my bed, holding a pillow in my lap. "I
--" I began.
"Take that pillow out of your lap," Frost instructed,
and I could feel the telekinetic energy sizzle in the
air around the pillow, ready to snatch it away from me
if I dared defy her order.
I set it on the bed beside me, swallowing. If I told
her just what happened, I would certainly get in
trouble, since I was veritably grounded. "I -- he was
visiting," I explained. "And we were talking, and he
just wasn't answering for a long time, and I went to
get help, and then, I don't know, Jubilee found me and
brought me to Mr. Cassidy."
"I see," was all she said, never taking her eyes from
What on earth was I supposed to say to that? I had
told her the truth. Was there more to the truth that I
didn't know about that she did? "I --" I began again.
"You were under explicit orders," she informed me, a
definite edge to each word. "If I cannot trust you to
follow those orders, how am I ever to trust you? You
do not do as told in class. You do not do as told
outside of class. You don't seem to think the rules
apply to you. That may cost you your life one day,"
she explained. "I will not take that risk with you."
"Risk?" I echoed, not really sure what she was
talking about, but Ms. Frost didn't seem to hear me.
She didn't even seem to be aware that I had even
"How do possibly expect to survive in today's
society? Have you forgotten the way the world works?
It is not kind to women. It is not kind to mutants.
It's especially harsh to someone who is both a woman
and a mutant. Judging from your escapades this
evening, I don't believe you've even opened the
document you should have received by now. I suggest
you do. And read it. Read it well. I would hate for
such an opportunity to pass you by." She turned to
leave the room.
"But Ms. Frost," I protested, seeing the lapse in
her own reasoning skills, "Jono was here to deliver
that document. It's -- " I searched for it, hoping to
produce it as evidence to support my statement. I
waved it in the air once I'd found it, certain she'd
believe me now. "-- here. Right here! I have it."
"But you have not yet read it," she insisted.
"Jonothon was sent only to bring this to you. I see
now I've made a poor choice. In the future I shall
think what repercussions my choices may have. I
suggest you do the same." She left my room without
another word, and I opened the envelope jaggedly,
extracting the folded papers from within.
The document -- really a letter -- was composed
entirely in Ms. Frost's elegant handwriting, save for
the stationery heading at its top. I read it -- as
told -- though I expected no less than the same
lecture she'd just given me in person, and since my
reading was naturally forced, I certainly resented
every crisp word delivered.
I write this letter with a great deal of concern;
concern that I fear you will never see. I must admit,
I was surprised when you handed this letter to me. I
saw you writing it during my lecture on proper English
grammar yesterday, and I expected it to be tucked away
in a folder somewhere, or crumpled and tossed in the
trash. I never expected you to have the courage to
actually give it to me.
Still, you did so, and I suppose you deserve an
answer. Why do I spend so much time in your life?
Why do I hold you to standards and strictures that you
feel are confining, irregular, arbitrary, and unfair?
You might expect me to answer that "you remind me of
myself, when I was your age." But you don't. As
spoiled as I was, you are far more fragile than I was.
That you maintain any coherence over your own
thoughts is a marvel to me. Why? You're a female
American empath, maintaining a strong psychic link
with an unmedicated, clinically depressed British
male. I fear for your sanity, girl. Have you ever
considered that I just might have more experience in
the dangers of telepathic communication than an
I worry about your ability to make a single rational
decision when the situation involves an emotional
response. When the link shows him being upset, rather
than finding out what's wrong, you pout, because he
won't, or can't, tell you freely. When you're upset,
you cry when he can't, or won't poke inside your head
to magically tell what's wrong. When one of you is
upset, both sit and mope.
Jonothon is not doing well. I have not heard Jono
pick up the guitar in weeks. When I confronted him on
it, he confessed that he feels intimidated by your
musical talent, and has apparently abandoned music,
feeling inadequate. Haven't you felt intimidated by
the piano recently? When you first came here, you
played constantly; now it's infrequent. Jono is
projecting his emotions, and you seem unable or
unwilling to block them.
I want to help you. I really do. I don't want you
to be unhappy, not permanently so.
And I will help you. Because I can, and because you
really don't know half as much as you think you do,
and you are less than prepared to face a world where
coldness, anger, and hostility are the rule, with few
You are wrong to lock yourself in with your fictional
heroes. They may lift you to new heights, or they may
betray you; they may wound your soul or teach you to
love, but they cannot touch you physically. The
creatures of this world can, and will, do all of the
above, and you cannot ignore them. You have such
false confidence. You think you know what the world
holds, so you clutch your leather jacket to you and
defy the world to come and break your spirit, knowing
that you, unlike the others, have the strength to
resist, to remain innocent and wise in the face of
You are not the first psi-powered woman to think so.
You want to know when it will be your turn to make
When you make it your turn.
You want to know why you have to write inside the
Because that's all they can see. And too many people
see a free spirit as a spirit that must be broken.
Especially when she's beautiful and female. Don't
write me a letter about molds, about society's
constraints, about seeing what's inside other people.
I've been fighting on this battleground you find so
abhorrent for half my life.
Why do I emphasize my gifts? Not just my psionic
acumen: but the outside, the body too?
As you say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
And there's a lot of beholders out there, and if they
find your words, if they find your thoughts, if they
find your self ugly, they will take whatever beauty
you possess and destroy it. If they find you
pleasing, they will lift you higher than you dreamed
I know, I've been there. You haven't. How can I
convince you of this without putting you through the
horrors of what I've gone through?
When I was your age, all I saw for six months was
white: White walls, with even the staples where the
padding was held to the concrete were carefully
painted white. White coated men, with white, shaking
hands, their faces white as they realized what they
had willed themselves to do. And white noise, where
the pink sparkles used to be, as the cocktail of drugs
dragged at my brain, leaving me only able to gleam the
strongest emotions: Lust, Greed, and Hate.
When I was free, I looked around, looking for the
love, the tenderness, the joy, the emotions that I was
sure were missing due to the asylum. Nothing. Then I
supposed that it was the location. I was, after all,
homeless and living on the street, and that does not
encourage joy. So I attended my first Hellfire Club
meeting, and looked around. Surely one of these
people felt great tenderness, love, or joy. All,
again I found was Lust, Hate, and Greed, although
muted by a mild joy in material possessions.
So I made myself a persona, one to show the world,
and it welcomed me. The school you attend was built
with monies raised by my talents running
Frost Enterprises. And I have had to use my telepathy
a surprisingly few number of times to close a deal.
For the longest time, all I had to do was show some of
my legs, and CEOs would sell their souls to me, let
alone all of their stock options.
You think you are shattering my world? If I ever
feel that you're getting close, I'll send you home so
fast you'll swear it was teleportation. I am not
about to let you, or anyone shatter my world. I've
been shattered, almost more times then I can recall,
and put myself back together each and every time.
That's not true. I can recall every time, every
psychic cut, every iota of energy used in the psychic
surgeries on my own brain. All the pain. All of the
emotional drama, whether it was due to a misguided
attempt to use electronics to boost my telepathy, or
due to Fitzroy's attack, or due to relearning to use
my body after giving Drake his own back.
And it never shows. It doesn't, does it?
It doesn't show that I'm scared to death every
morning when I step outside my bedroom door. I'm not
a teacher, I never was. I can lead, and I can direct,
but I can't motivate you learn it for yourself.
I never learned how; why should I have learned? I'm
a much better administrator. But Xavier thinks of
himself as a teacher, when he's nothing more than an
overzealous general. And they pair me with an Irish
halfwit whose life story is full of beating the odds,
and expect me to keep you safe, and teach you to live
a happy life, when the odds are you will die, crushed
by the mass of humanity who are anything but human to
one another, or hunted simply because of your genetic
birthright, or die as some misguided zealot chooses to
attack the school. I can't train you to beat the
All I can do is resist training you students to be
another terrorist/anti-terrorist squad like the X-Men,
or X-Force. A well-adjusted bunch of mutants the
Xavier Academy turns out, hmm? Not one of them
outside of the original five have managed to live a
normal life amongst the humans, barring Colossus' time
without his original memories. Read the files
And perhaps you do have things to teach me. There
are colors to the world, more than black and white,
and my first students showed me that they could find
them. Your class shows me that perhaps I can too.
But not doing my job? You wrote:
"Over the course of this writing, I have shifted from
a mere rant to something that is specifically directed
at you, Ms. Frost. I should like to know what you are
going to do about it."
What am I going to do?
I'm going to throw away that ridiculous piece of
freeform poetry garbage that you turned in for your
last essay assignment, and substitute this in its
place. Congratulations. Your first "A" in my class.
But don't think it's going to be easy from here on
in. Don't think you can turn in reams of paper with
rants on them, bitching about every little
imperfection you find in this oh so imperfect world.
But if you can articulate your rage, define your
problems, and seek solutions to the pain, then there
may be hope for you yet.
Headmistress, Massachusetts Academy
CEO of Frost Enterprises
White Queen of the Hellfire Club.
I wiped the raw tears from the side of my face with
the back of my hand. I didn't think she'd be right,
nor did I think she'd ever evoke an emotional response
from me like that. Her words seemed to sing to me --
so much so I could scarcely believe she'd even written
them herself. I saw some other woman in that paper
than the one who insisted I follow her rules blindly.
She gave reasons for doing what she did, and for
feeling what she felt. I caught this wild glimpse into
Emma Frost's psyche, something so often blocked to me,
and she'd given that glimpse to me willingly, allowing
me to truly understand her.
I was really beginning to understand.
--- Jen ---
My powers weren't completely back yet. I knew that
much. I had no idea what had happened, not exactly,
but I supposed it was something like a blown fuse,
with too much energy coursing through my system --
more than I could actually handle. I thought I was
able to feel my own emotions, but I dared not try too
hard for fear I'd blow myself out again.
I hadn't been to see Jono yet. Not since the accident,
but I'd made a promise to myself that I would after
I'd eaten something. Because of the suddenness of the
accident -- I still felt terribly guilty for it --
nobody had made any dinner, and it was now nearly 9:30
and I still hadn't eaten anything yet. I made my way
into the kitchen.
I opened the refrigerator, found nothing of interest,
and closed it. I next opened the freezer and took out
something in a red box covered in ice flakes. It was
cold and started to stick to my hand. I put the box on
the counter and turned it onto its side with a loud,
icy clank. I did as the instructions instructed,
tearing the cover from the frozen meal and placing it
in the microwave for four minutes. As I watched the
box spin slowly in the microwave, I heard nobody come
into the kitchen.
"H'lo," I said, turning to see who nobody disguised
herself as this time. It was Alison, and her hair was
green. Right behind her was a grey nobody who was
saying things to her.
The microwave beeped just as Alison opened the
refrigerator. I took my dinner from the microwave and
stirred it with a fork I'd taken from a nearby drawer.
"Jen?" Alison called. No, not Alison -- she wasn't
here. Nobody. My dinner was hot; the steam came off it
in pretty waves rising from the thick noodles covered
with brown sauce. There was even a meatball. But there
were probably mushrooms in it. That wasn't good. I
would have to pick them out and throw them away. I
moved the noodles around with my fork and looked for
"Help!" Alison squeaked.
I glanced up. She was stuck to the refrigerator like
some kind of green-haired magnet.
"What?" I asked.
"I'm stuck to the refrigerator!" she said. She was
talking fast and loud like Paige was before. She
didn't need to do that; I could hear her just fine.
And I would understand her better if she talked
But she was most certainly stuck to the refrigerator.
"That's nice," I commented, and took my dinner to the
table. I stirred it again and found that there were no
mushrooms. That was good.
But I was getting cold. Maybe if I ate my warm food I
would be warm, too. Unfortunately, as soon as I
brought the noodles to my mouth, I found that they
were too hot, and I dropped the fork, causing sauce to
splatter all over my T-shirt. That would have to be
Abandoning my dinner, I proceeded to the sink,
passing the nobody that was still firmly affixed to
the refrigerator. She was muttering something under
her breath. I couldn't hear what she was saying. It
I took a towel and soaked it, wrung it out, and
attended to the stain on my shirt.
"Jen, are you okay?" asked the green-haired nobody.
"Yeah," I answered, finding no need to look up as I
"I'm stuck," she repeated.
I looked up at her sharp tone, which wasn't really
necessary. "Don't shout," I instructed. "It hurts my
The grey-skinned nobody snickered and played with his
orange yo-yo. It spun in circles around him, nearly
hitting the ceiling before coming back down and
quietly spinning by his feet. That was a neat trick. I
couldn't do anything with a yo-yo. Sometimes I wished
I could, so I could do neat tricks. It didn't matter
now, though. I was hungry and my head hurt.
I abandoned the towel, deciding the sauce would not
come out so quickly. My food was likely cooler now, so
I returned to the table to continue eating it.
It was brown and it was warm.
When I finished, I threw the package away and kindly
asked the green-haired nobody if she could retrieve a
cold Pepsi from the fridge that she was stuck to.
Instead of doing so, she gave me a level look and told
me, "Go away."
What, she didn't like me, either? I was thirsty, and I
couldn't get into the fridge if she insisted on being
stuck to it like that. But that was okay. Instead I
got a glass of water, and took it with me upstairs to
my room. It was getting late, and I wanted to go to
I thought I heard somebody calling my name, but
that was silly. There wasn't ever somebody. There was
only nobody, and he never called my name like that.
(*Can you hear me?*)
I thought I could hear him, but it would be even
sillier if I said that I did hear him when in
actuality I didn't really hear him. I ignored the
voice that couldn't possibly be there, and took my
glasses off and turned off the light. My room was
dark, and so was the ceiling.
(*I wish I could hear you, too. I hope you're
getting this. I don't know if it's working. It doesn't
matter if you do, I mean, I want this to work, but if
it doesn't I suppose that's okay, too. There's
something I want to tell you. No -- something I need
to tell you. But I can't tell you now. I have to tell
you in person. I'm getting better, Jen. That wasn't
what I had to tell you, but it's something, and it's
true. I'm getting better. That I can even talk to you
is proof enough of that. But then again, I don't know
if I'm talking to you, because I'm not sure if it's
That voice talking to me started to sound
(*I don't know what's happened, or why nothing
was working properly. I want it to work. I've never
had anyone understand me the way that she has. I don't
know if that's because of the link, or if that was
something that happened before the link. I wish I
knew. But I don't want to terminate it. That's odd,
isn't it? That I don't want it to end? The truth of
the matter is that I don't want to let go. I don't
want to lose her. She's different ... but I can't ...
The voice faded. I wondered for a moment if this
was all just my imagination. It had to be. After all,
Jono wasn't really here, and I had no way of knowing
if he was really talking to me, since the link was
broken, and it probably wouldn't be repairing itself
anyway. It just didn't work like that. It was just
dead and gone, and I couldn't fix it.
Of course it wasn't really Jono. I turned over in
bed and pulled the blanket closer around my face.
--- Alison ---
I watched in not horror, but a kind of detached
disbelief as Jen walked stiffly out of the kitchen,
right by me as if I didn't exist. And even if she
could have otherwise ignored me, wasn't it kind of
hard to ignore a person stuck to the refrigerator?!
This was not fun, in my opinion. I didn't even know
how this happened - one minute, I was pulling open the
heavy white door to get a diet pop, and then next I
was plastered to the front like a huge green-haired
magnet. I did not want to be stuck to the fridge, and
Angelo was not helping in the least; in fact, he was
making things worse. He stood across the kitchen from
me, flicking his orange yo-yo inches away from my
face, wearing the biggest smirk imaginable on that
malleable grey face of his. And it was annoying. He
reminded me of my friend from back home, Jason. He
went nowhere without his yo-yo, and probably would
have stood there and laughed at me in the same manner
in which Angelo was now doing. Great. Just Great.
"So, how's it goin', Lorna?" Angelo asked,
emphasizing Polaris's name. Yeah, there was that too -
someone, most likely whose name began with a J and
ended with a "lee," had decided that it might be fun
to put green hair dye in Alison's shampoo and make her
end up looking like an incredibly short Lorna Dane.
Not exactly my idea of a hilarious joke, but obviously
certain other people found it as such. I had tried to
wash the dye out about three times now, and it was
definitely not working. If anything, I thought my hair
was now a brighter green than it had originally
started out as.
"Shut up, Angelito." I snapped back, wishing he would
take that yo-yo and strangle himself for all I cared.
My head hurt, my stomach hurt, I was still thirsty,
and I was not feeling particularly wanted or cared
about at this point in time. And I still didn't know
why I was stuck to the stupid fridge, like Joseph on a
bad day. Or Lorna, more appropriately. And I wanted to
get off this Georging appliance before Angelo got it
in his sick mind to go find a Polaroid camera. God, I
hoped he wouldn't think of that. I hoped that almost
as much as I hoped that I would become magically
unstuck from the refrigerator, just like I had somehow
become stuck to it.
This wasn't my mutant power, I reasoned. At least, I
tried to reason - I really wasn't quite sure what my
power was yet, although Emma and Sean believed it to
be telekinetic or something like that in nature. But
that wouldn't have gotten me stuck to the fridge,
would it? Why me? I silently questioned the orange
disk as it whizzed by my face yet again. I was getting
fed up with it, as I was with this whole situation.
Just like Jennifer blowing me off - that was so unlike
her. I mean, she wasn't that taken with Jono, was she?
I certainly hoped not
"Angelo, stop it!!" I yelled, finally getting sick of
the stupid Georging yo-yo whizzing by my face every
two seconds. "If you're not going to get me off this
Georging thing, then either get someone who can or
leave me alone!!"
The yo-yo stopped, a bright pink tongue stuck itself
in my direction, and Angelo turned on his heel and
sauntered out of the kitchen, chuckling to himself as
"Suit yourself, Lorna." was what I could make out as
his form retreated down the hallway. Well, this was
just great. Now I was still stuck to the fridge, with
no one to help me get off of it. Jen was off in la-la
land, Angelo was busy laughing at me behind my back,
and no one else cared. I wanted to curl up and go to
sleep right there, but that wasn't going to work,
seeing as I was plastered across the magnetic front of
The kitchen fell silent, save for the electrical
humming of the refrigerator. I was beginning to get
annoyed - how the George was I supposed to detach
myself from this thing, anyway? Eventually someone
would wander in, but -
My thoughts were interrupted as Everett walked into
the kitchen; he stopped in his tracks when he saw me
and I could tell he was desperately trying to suppress
his laughter. It wasn't working very well.
"Fine," I sighed, looking at the floor and probably
inventing a new shade of crimson. "Laugh - I'm sure
it's funny, so go ahead." I crossed my arms and sighed
again. Everett laughed a bit, but to my relief he came
over, still smiling.
"So you really are stuck," he confirmed, shaking his
"Yes, I really am stuck. Do you think I'm just
standing here glued to the fridge because I want to
He smiled again, but grabbed my hand with both of his
and put one leg up against the white metallic door to
"Sure what "
He yanked hard and although I stuck at first, after
about five seconds of tugging I finally came free. Of
course, this caused us to fly backwards and we ended
up in a heap on the opposite side of the kitchen.
"Thank you!" I said, exasperated but thankful to be
rid of the refrigerator nonetheless. My back was sore
now, and my head hurt, and I'd probably never hear the
end of this. But at least I wasn't stuck to the stupid
"No problem." Ev grinned and stood up as I tried to
drag myself off of the floor by grabbing the table.
"I don't know! I was just in here trying to get a
pop, and suddenly I was stuck to the fridge. It wasn't
like a conscious choice or anything. I'd rather not be
stuck to any mechanical appliances, thank you very
much. And now everything hurts and I want to go to
bed," I whined.
Ev just stood there as I complained, and made no
effort to move as I stumbled out of the kitchen
towards the girls' dorm.
"Oh, Alison?" he called as I left.
I turned around and stopped to hear what he had to
* * *
I managed to make it up to my room without meeting
anyone and I slammed the door shut behind me as I
walked over to the CD player and punched the PLAY
button. I turned to volume up nearly as loud as it
would go and "Enter Sandman" filled the room as I
flopped down on my bed and stared at my plain white
ceiling. I felt, well, pretty darn crappy. My back was
sore, my head was buzzing, I was tired, I felt
unwanted and like an object of mere amusement, and on
top of all that, my hair was green. This was not fun.
I wanted a reason not to get right up then and there
and jump off the roof of the dorm, and unfortunately I
could not find one. Great, maybe I should just jump
off. Maybe I'd get better, and then I could go off to
Seacouver to visit Duncan and Richie Yeah, and while
I was at it, I might as well stop off in Cascade and
see how Blair's thesis was coming along, right? Sure,
Alison, you need some help. I suddenly missed Blair
and Richie and Jim and Methos and Duncan, and Joe and
even Amanda and Simon. Why? I was among Generation X,
practically the X-Men, and I missed Richie and Blair?
What was wrong with me? Wasn't visiting one form of
But no one cared here, either. Did they? Well, Ev did
enough to get me off the stupid fridge, but that
wasn't enough. I wanted someone to care that I might
actually jump off the roof, but I couldn't think of a
single person who would. I got the feeling that Jen
didn't care about a darn thing right now - she was
just kind of floating off in her own little happy
world without a care or a concern or a worry in the
world. Everyone else had someone else to worry about -
Jono about Jen, Everett about Jubes (and how I was
going to kill her), Paige about Jono, Angelo about
Paige in some way, Monet about herself and Penny about
nothing - which left no one to worry about me.
I found myself getting off my bed and walking over to
the window and leaning out. Was this high enough?
Maybe just high enough so that I'd break my leg or
something. Then maybe I could take a rest, sit back
and just watch life for a while instead of being so
privy to its every whim. That was getting old, and it
was getting old pretty darn fast. Then again, with my
luck my mutant power would suddenly decide to be
invincibility and no matter how high the precipice I
jumped off, it wouldn't matter, and that wouldn't get
anywhere. Then again, I could always die, and then I
supposed I wouldn't really be anywhere either.
Well, then, this was going to get me far, no? I
supposed I should postpone jumping out the window for
a little while at least until this next song was
over. I kind of liked it. I went back and sat down on
the bed again, sighing heavily and staring up at the
ceiling. So, what should I do in possibly my last
moments on Earth? Take some Tylenol - that was a
welcome option. But in that case, I would have to go
downstairs, and I really didn't want to do that.
* * *
When I woke up, I was very cold, and very stiff. The
room was dark, and upon inspection the glowing green
numbers of my alarm clock told me that it was 8:00 in
the evening. Great - that meant that I would have to
get up and face the world again. Let's just not, okay?
Regardless of my reluctance to even move, however, it
was cold in here. Shivering, I got up off my bed and
closed my window, which had been left open for hours,
if the clock and the absence of the sun were any
indication. Had I really fallen asleep? How long? What
time had it been last time I checked? I couldn't
remember. I went over and turned the power to my CD
player off, noting with some amusement that if I had
fallen asleep, which it did indeed appear had been the
case, it had been with none other than Metallica at
full blast in the background. Now, if that wasn't an
accomplishment, then what was?
Well, the fact that my stomachache had compounded
itself, for one. I felt horrible, more physically than
mentally now. Not that I didn't still feel like the
world's punching bag, but my stomach hurt more than my
ego right now, and I was willing to forego any
attempts at cutting myself off from human contact in
order to get some Pepto Bismol. Then maybe I'd come up
and consider the window again; but not until after my
stomach felt better.
I slowly made my way downstairs, wary of meeting
anyone on my way to the medicine cabinet in the
kitchen. Although most of the medical supplies were
kept appropriately in the med lab, the everyday stuff
was kept in a small cabinet in the kitchen. And
wouldn't ya know, the cabinet was over the
refrigerator. Great, just great - now how was I
supposed to get the stuff down? At least the kitchen
was empty, I thought, as I walked in and switched on
the light. My stomach hurt too much to find a chair
and all the phone books in the building to climb on
top of, and I still didn't want to get anywhere near
that refrigerator - I was not about to get stuck to
that thing again. I sighed and collapsed onto the
chair nearest to me, wondering how exactly I was going
to get the medicine down. I felt tired still, not
ready to do anything, and the pain in my gut was the
only thing preventing me from falling asleep again
right then and there. I wondered if I sat there long
enough and ignored it if then it might not be enough
to keep me awake. Who knew? Who cared?
I buried my head in my arms on the kitchen table,
wishing the pain away. That didn't work, so I tried
forcefully willing it away instead. No such luck.
Screw Riggs and Murtaugh, I was thinking, when a sound
from over by the doorway caught my attention. I wasn't
willing to lift my head; I figured whoever it was
could just tell me who they were, if they cared to do
so at all.
"Uh chica? Yo, Lorna?" Well, who else could that be?
Not lifting my head from the table, I managed a
"Mmf," or something considerably close. The footsteps
got closer, and I could practically feel Angelo
standing over me.
"Chica, you all right? You didn't come down for
dinner. We had pizza " he enticed. Oh God, the very
idea of pizza was enough to make me want to throw up.
I remained silent, trying not to think about food and
willing Angelo to go away and leave me alone. That
wasn't working, either, but it didn't stop me from
Then I heard another sound. Like a "whizz, whizz"
that I soon recognized to be the sound caused by the
motion of a yo-yo up and down its string. Oh great,
not that thing again. If it even almost got stuck in
"Goway." I decided to be slightly more direct this
time, given that my willing him away didn't appear to
"No." Now he just sounded indignant. Wonderful.
There was a pause, and the yo-yo stopped moving.
"Thibbit? What is that?"
I nearly laughed - something which I didn't really
want to do, considering my present condition. It came
out more as a laugh/"ow", which Angelo found more
amusing than my original "thibbit."
"Stop it!" I whined into the table. "It hurts!"
"What hurts?" Angelo managed to get out in between
"My stomach. Don't make me laugh!" I insisted.
"Well, did you take any medicine?"
"No." If I could have stuck my tongue out at him, I
"Well, why not?" Now he was starting to sound
"'Cause." I knew that if I told him the real reason -
that I couldn't reach the medicine - he'd never leave
me alone even more than he'd never leave me alone for
my hair and my speech and my life
I remained silent, refusing to tell him. Of course,
this was almost more direct than admitting it, because
when he next spoke there was definite mockery in his
"Oh, I get it. You can't reach it, can you?"
He laughed. "You can't!"
"SHUT UP!!! GOWAY!! LEMMELONE!!!"
"Fine, have it your way." He walked out of there
slowly, banging that stupid yo-yo on as many cabinets
as he possibly could in the process. It was so
unnerving that I practically got up and followed him
out of there to strangle him with it myself, but I
just wasn't up to it. I just wanted to sleep, but I
wasn't going to be able to do that until my stomach
stopped hurting, and it wasn't going to do that until
I got some medicine, and I wasn't going to do that
until I grew another two feet. Where did Emma keep
those butcher knives again?
My arm inadvertently slid out from underneath my
head, and as it did so it hit something. I lifted my
head, wondering what I'd hit, since the table had been
cleared when I decided to use it for a very
inefficient pillow. And there, sitting right next to
my head, was a bottle of Pepto Bismol and a Reese's
Peanut Butter Cup.
I trekked back up the stairs, not really feeling all
that much better despite the Pepto Bismol. Of course,
I was amazed and almost flattered that Angelo had
gotten it for me; unfortunately, I still felt as sick
and worthless and unwanted as ever. I was just in one
of those moods, and no matter how nice or caring
someone was to me, right now I was stuck in my
worthless rut and not planning on digging myself out
I groped through the hall, finally reaching the last
room and stumbling inside. The green numbers of my
clock glowed 1:57 AM in the darkness as I tripped over
a pair of jeans strewn across the floor. I crashed
onto the floor in a heap in front of my desk this
was just turning out to be the most pleasant night
As I climbed back to my feet, I hit the PLAY button
on my CD player, blasting Metallica I cared not how
loud, not caring what time it was or who might notice.
They didn't care about me why should I care about
them? It seemed perfectly logical to me. I crawled
underneath my blanket, wishing I felt better, wishing
someone cared, wishing I was someplace else.
--- Jen ---
It wasn't that I didn't want to fall asleep. I did.
Very much. But I didn't really seem to have a choice
in the matter.
I was glad that Alison had chosen the room down the
hall. I was glad I wasn't someone's roommate. I was
glad it was time to go to sleep. I was not, however,
glad that Alison had chosen the ungodly hour of two
o'clock in the morning to veritably blast Metallica so
that the angry strains of noise could be heard
throughout the girls' dorm. If she didn't turn it off
within the next minute I swore I would march down
there and turn it off myself.
Sixty seconds passed without relief. I threw the
covers off and, sockless, stomped down the hallway to
Alison's room. Out of sheer politeness I knocked, but
my knock obviously couldn't be heard, so I opened the
door myself and explained into the dark, "I am *not*
going to Never Never Land!"
I expected the light to turn on in the few moments
after that, but it remained off. She couldn't actually
be *asleep*, could she? How could anyone sleep with
such noise? I had come to expect the odd from her, but
this went beyond even mere oddity. Naturally, I didn't
get it, but went to the CD player, which was glowing
in the darkness, and hit what I thought was the stop
button. Beautiful silence filled the room, though my
ears still ran from my close proximity to the
"I was listening to that," a low, muffled voice
She was awake! "How could you listen to that?" I
asked. "It's two AM! And that was *loud*!"
"Mgfff," she explained.
"Oh," I replied. "Well, then. Some of us are
trying to sleep." With that I turned and left the room
before she could counter my statement with another.
--- Alison ---
I poked my head reluctantly into the open doorway,
glancing around the office until I saw Mr. Cassidy
seated behind his computer, partially hidden from view
by a stack of files and papers piled high next to his
"Mr. Cassidy?" I asked weakly, hoping to get this
overwith as quickly as possible so I could go hole up
in my room and shut out the world again. My nose was
only a little clearer since I'd woken up and my head
still ached with a ferocity; I wished the pain would
just go away for the millionth time as I heard the
clack of keys on the keyboard halt at my inquiry.
"Ah, come in, lass." Mr. Cassidy poked his head out
from around the computer. "How are ye feelin'?" he
asked as I sat down gingerly in one of the three
chairs across from his desk. He shoved the stack of
papers aside and came into full view as I sat there,
looking around the office and wondering why he'd
called me in there. I just wanted to be in bed.
His office was comfortably messy not to the point
of total chaos, but with piles of papers here and
there on the floor and a few discarded coke cans on
the desk. One filing cabinet drawer hung open, some
its contents apparently missing, most presumably
present in the stack of files on his desk. This was
much better than Emma's pristine, painfully clean and
immaculately white office, I thought.
"Eh," I said, "okay, I guess. Better, but my head
still hurts and so does my stomach."
He nodded, concerned. "I'm sorry to have to call ye
out of bed like this, but Ms. Frost and I need to have
a brief talk with you and Jen about yuir powers. We
figured it would be better to do this together in one
Oh, great. The words "brief" and "powers" did not
belong in the same sentence together. It just wasn't
possible. So they wanted to talk about our powers?
Then where were Emma and Jen? They must not be here, I
reasoned. I sighed, the air rushing loudly out of my
lungs as I contemplated the possible implications of
this "talk." This was definitely gonna take a while
Just then, a curt knock sounded at the doorway and
Emma walked in, sitting down in one swift motion in
the chair closest to the side of the desk, positioned
more behind it than the one I was sitting in and the
last vacant chair, presumably Jen's.
"Good morning," she said, looking at first Sean, who
nodded, and then me.
"Hi," I managed. I looked around the room again for
lack of anything better to do, as Emma leaned over and
whispered something to Sean before looking at his
monitor and reaching over to tap some keys and read
She leaned back in her chair again and folded her
hands, addressing me now. "I assume Mr. Cassidy has
informed you as to the reason you are here?"
"Yeah." I nodded. "You want to talk about our
"Yes," she said. "We feel that both you and Jen have
now reached a point at which you need to begin to
learn conscious control of "
"Hi what's going on?" Jen poked her head in the
door before coming in and sitting down in the last
chair, glancing nervously at Emma before focusing her
gaze on Sean.
Emma sighed nearly inaudibly. "As I have already
explained, Mr. Cassidy and I would like to have a talk
with you and Alison about your powers. More
specifically, developing more control over them."
"But I don't even really know what my power is!" I
interjected. "Is it even telekinesis?"
"Actually," Sean began, tapping some keys, "we've
come to believe that yuir power is not based solely in
telekinesis, but a myriad of other things."
"Your power has no specific signature in essence,
you have the ability to adapt to any situation," Emma
went on to explain.
Jen and I cast glances in each other's direction;
she silently mouthed "borg" before we looked once more
at Emma as she went on. "Your power is much like
Synch's, in that you can mold it into whatever you
require at the time. However, it differs in that you
do not need a blueprint to work from. You can change
the essence of your ability without the presence of
"Basically, lass, we're talking about something
on the level of Franklin Richards," Sean said.
"What?!" I asked, totally confused. That wasn't
possible Franklin was like the most powerful mutant
on Earth. There was no way I could even be remotely
close to being on the same level as him. Next to me,
Jen was practically visibly radiating confusion as
well, but that was probably due more to the fact that
she didn't even know who Franklin was.
Sean, on the other hand, was nodded despite my
disbelief. "It's true if ye can change your ability
into whatever you need it to be, you could be
Wow. That was insane not to mention about as scary
as you could get. What if it got out of control? What
if I blew up the entire school? That would be very
"And that is why it is our duty to ensure that you
receive the proper training," Emma said. "You need to
be taught to consciously control this power, so that
you do not, in essence, 'blow up the entire school.' "
I nodded slowly, taking this in. Next to me, Jen was
obviously getting bored and restless. "What about me?"
Emma considered Jen for a moment before answering.
"Your powers are not something to be taken lightly,"
she finally said. "There's no way to truly train you
in the uses of empathy. It is a skill you must learn
to master on your own. You're the only teacher you'll
ever really have."
She turned back to me for a moment. "The same applies
to you. We can't truly train you in something so
"Aye," Sean agreed. "All we can do is help you become
conscious and aware of your powers and eventually
you'll get that control."
I nodded, hoping that he was right. Control would
definitely be a very good thing. Jen bit her lip and
looked to the front panel of his desk; it seemed like
she didn't want to be here, didn't want to deal with
this. It was like she didn't even think this was worth
her time like Emma and Sean didn't know what they
were talking about and weren't sincere. I, on the
other hand, thought the complete opposite of what she
radiated. I understood that it was different with each
mutant you never knew what you were dealing with,
and though the general of learning how to control a
power was the same each time, each was specific and
every time they faced something new that they, in
truth, had no idea of how to control.
Jen sighed. "So what's this all about?"
"It's about taking responsibility taking the
initiative to learn about your powers and not simply
expecting us to magically come up with the answer,"
Sean nodded. "It's the same with any new student. We
know the basics of learning to control a mutant power
but it's different with every student."
There! What had I just thought? "We've never dealt
with powers exactly like yours before," he went on.
"It's true your powers are like Synch's, but there's
still a big difference between what you do. Even with
a mutation as general as telepathy, each telepath's
powers are different."
"I can lecture you on grammar and history," Emma
added, "and Mr. Cassidy can inform you of the finer
points of mathematics and science. I can explain how
your powers work, the mechanics of the astral plane,
or a metamorph's physical-chemical instabilities and
how they are applied -- but in all truth, mastering
one's own power is best compared to artistry."
Artistry? Whatever maybe she was just trying to
play mind games with Jen. Let them deal with that. I
just hoped that I would get to study with Sean rather
than Emma. I just wanted to get this control they were
assuring me I would eventually end up with I had no
idea what I was doing, and I definitely wasn't
consciously in control of my powers. Up to this point,
they'd always just happened, without any conscious
attempts by me to muster them.
"We will begin working on a way for you to maintain
conscious control over them on Monday," Emma added.
"Mr. Cassidy and I will go over all your files this
weekend in order to devise the best method for you to
maintain this control."
I nodded, glad that I would hopefully soon have a way
to control all of this. That, I decided, would be a
whole lot less detrimental to my existence.
"That is all," Emma said, and I got up to leave.
I nodded, glad that I would hopefully soon have a way
to control all of this. That, I decided, would be a
whole lot less detrimental to my existence.
"That is all," Emma said, and Jen got up to leave; I
was right behind her.
"Thanks," I said, Jen said nothing, and we left. I
closed the door behind me as the white walls of the
outside hall greeted me. Jen was already walking
swiftly away, as if she had some prior engagement.
Either that, or she didn't want to catch whatever it
was that I had that was making me miserable. I walked
down the hall, headed nowhere in particular, just
wandering wobbily as my brain got used to the idea of
standing up after having been seated. It didn't seem
to be able to handle the idea, however, and I made my
way carefully back down the stairs to the deserted
kitchen, where I sat in one of the chairs by the table
in hopes of regaining my balance.
I hoped it would at least come back before this
afternoon we had a training session in the Biosphere
later, and despite the fact that I couldn't yet get my
powers to work properly, I was still required to be
"Psyche, watch out!"
I blinked, confused for only a moment before
Jubilee's shout registered as my own codename. I
wasn't used to being referred to as anything other
than my given name. Something heavy hit me on the
right; I fell onto the hard ground and hit my left
shoulder as I did so. The pain came from both sides
on the left from my collision with the ground, and the
right from the lingering sting of impact. What had hit
me? I couldn't get up well, I could, but I didn't
want to. It would be best, I reasoned, to hide among
the low foliage so as not to be found.
For a long time the only sounds were my own breathing
and heartbeat; the only sight the orange-green behind
my eyes. It was nice there or would have been, if
not for the pain in my right shoulder. The breeze
washed over my too-hot body, cooling away the sweat
that soaked my red uniform. I concentrated on the wind
and the heat of the sun shining through the biosphere,
on the beating of my own heart and the rhythm of my
breathing. I could lessen the pain that way.
Footsteps crunched on the grass covering the ground.
I could hear them slowly coming closer. Had to
concentrate on my breathing
"Jen, are you okay?"
That sounded like Paige. At that point I would have
rather faced Ms Frost before I faced Paige. I did,
however, open my eyes to show her that I was at least
alive. She bent over me, the sunlight she blocked
casting a golden halo around her head.
She simply stared at me as one might stare at a car
wreck along the side of the road before she extended a
hand down to me.
I reluctantly accepted it, pulling myself to my feet
to stare her in the eye. I said nothing.
"I'm sorry," she apologized.
What on earth was she sorry for? Making contact with
my pitiful unworthy hands?
Catching that sentiment, she clarified, "During the
exercise, I was husking and my, ah " She knelt to
the ground again and picked up a bright yellow plastic
gauntlet apparently the cause of my pain, which I
could feel becoming a bruise on my shoulder. "This,"
she continued, indicating the errant costuming. "I
meant to just leave it and get it later like usual
but I guess that's not what happened."
Of course that wasn't what happened. She'd thrown it
at me, trying to hurt me. She wasn't sorry at all. I
remained silent, trying to keep a tight rein on the
bitter resent I felt towards her. It would do no good
to emote now. As Paige fastened the gauntlet back onto
her forearm, I went ahead of her into the main
building, where I sensed everyone had gone for
I took my seat at a round table in the smaller
classroom, keeping my head low to avoid eye contact.
Paige was only a few seconds behind me; she sat in her
place, fully prepared to accept the information that
would soon come to her.
As soon as she was settled, Mr. Cassidy began the
report on our activities within the biosphere.
"Ye've all done an decent job this time. M, excellent
performance, as usual." I could feel her ostentatious
pride radiating, even though I'd done all I could to
block everyone's emotions from bombarding me. Mr.
Cassidy pulled up the replay of our session,
fast-forwarding until he reached what he was looking
for. "Okay," he began, studying the screen intently
before turning back to us, "Psyche, it seems we've run
into some problems here. What's wrong?"
The truth of the matter was that I'd been keeping to
myself, tired from the prior exercises and hoping I
wouldn't have to deal with direct confrontation. But I
didn't dare tell him that I'd look like a fool in
front of everyone. Of course, I'd met my idiocy quota
for the day in the earlier attack by Paige's gauntlet,
so any further stupidity would go above and beyond my
recommended daily allowance. And anything I said would
inevitably come out sounding stupid.
Mr. Cassidy tapped his foot impatiently.
"Strategy, sir," I answered. With the way he
continuously went on about strategy during lectures,
it seemed like the best answer even if it was a fake
He raised his eyebrow skeptically. "Strategy," he
repeated disbelievingly before playing the tape again.
Onscreen, I disappeared from view, no flying yellow
gauntlet in sight. What --? I examined the replay
closer, but found nothing unusual.
I knew Mr. Cassidy wanted to say something his
emotions were colored of impatience and restraint.
Instead, he called on Jubilee, who hadn't done much in
the way of participation besides crack her gum. "Do ye
have any suggestions?" he asked her. "Any thoughts on
what could have happened here?"
She shrugged. "I dunno."
"Ye saw something before," he explained. "Ye were
shouting out on the tape."
"I don't remember," she told him, bored.
"Sir," Everett interjected with one hand in the air,
"I think I saw something on the tape. Could you rewind
Still skeptical, Cassidy rewound the tape and played
it back again. Nothing happened. Nothing changed.
"There!" Everett exclaimed, standing from his chair.
Cassidy paused the tape, and sure enough, a bright
flash of blue light had erupted just beside my head. I
admittedly had no recollection of the event.
"What was that?" I asked, confused.
"I think it's some kind of energy signature," Everett
explained as Mr. Cassidy allowed him to continue.
"Probably telekinetic or psionic. But I couldn't tell
you its exact origin."
"Nice work, Synch," Cassidy complimented. "Can anyone
tell me where it came from?"
Without raising her hand, Monet launched into her
explanation. "Considering that it is, as Everett has
already noted, psionic in nature, it can only be
assumed that it is the act of one of our own
psi-powered individuals. However, Chamber is still
recuperating from his incident, and Ms. Frost was
not in the area, nor was she participating. Variance
has thus far not exhibited any sort of psionic energy
manifestations though it's not impossible, given the
definition of her powers. She, too, was nowhere near
the area. Thus, we can only conclude that the
originator of the burst is Psyche."
I'd sat through her explanations before, but this was
absurd. "What are you talking about?" I exclaimed. I
had done no such thing. I was not Jubilee; I did not
go around creating energy bursts.
Mr. Cassidy silenced me with a look, then nodded to
Monet. "Go on, M."
"As I said before," she continued, "the blast was
rather near to you, and your powers *are* psionic. The
chances of a completely foreign attack are relatively
slim so slim, in fact, as to be nonexistent. It had
to be you."
"But I don't " I protested, cut off by Mr.
Cassidy's raised hand.
"Are there any other theories?" he asked the class.
Nobody said anything. "Good," he said. "Get changed
and get some lunch. We'll meet in the main classroom
at 1:30. See ye all then." He watched the other
I rose to leave, but again Mr. Cassidy's hand signal
kept me in place. Monet, as well, was retained.
"I dinnae want to keep the rest of class," he
explained before turning to me. "It appears ye've
reached a new level with yuir powers. I'll want ye to
discuss further training with Ms. Frost later, perhaps
during our break if she's nae busy. Until then, ye can
talk with Monet if ye're still confused." He left the
classroom, presumably to get out of that ridiculous
winged spandex costume. It was bad enough one teacher
wore her unmentionables around campus, that the other
had to wear spandex was mindboggling.
Monet turned to me. "I suggest you seek Ms. Frost,"
she said, and without another word she left the room.
I planned to take her advice after showering and
changing into some more comfortable clothes, all the
while praying I wouldn't cause some other blast like
Ms. Frost was in her office, speaking at some length
to someone else in there. I wasn't sure when she'd be
out, but I waited anyway I was at least in the right
frame of mind to talk to her. I hadn't a clue what I
was going to say; I had no prepared speech, no real
reason for coming, and no idea what was really going
on. The door soon opened, revealing Jono's tall, dark
shape emerging from the office.
He didn't see me; just continued on his way without
so much as an acknowledgement of my presence. Watching
him leave, I reached out empathically, but he'd shut
his mind off from me, his walls firmly in place. I
resigned myself to the fact that I just didn't matter
anymore and would have to get on with my life. I
pushed open the door to Ms. Frost's office.
"Psyche," she greeted. "Come in. Mr. Cassidy has
already informed me of the situation."
I nodded, taking a seat in front of her desk. "He
told me to see you."
"Yes," she agreed. "I've seen the tape; I am aware of
this unusual physical manifestation. I would like to
hear the events in your own words, though." She leaned
forward, propping one arm up on her desk and
apparently prepared to hear anything.
"Well," I began, "we were in the biosphere. Training.
And everything was going fine and normal when, I don't
know, Jubilee told me to watch out, and then I fell
because something hit me." I indicated my shoulder,
still in pain from the blast. Despite the discomfort,
I was apparently well enough to go about my daily
life. "I don't know how long I was down. Paige came
over to see how I was and told me that her gauntlet
had accidentally hit me when she was in the middle of
husking. I mean, obviously that's not the case,
because that isn't on the tape, but I don't know why
she'd say that."
Ms. Frost nodded slowly but remained quiet.
Her silence was unnerving. My mind drifted from her;
my eyes wandered around the too-bright white room.
There were no personalized comforts as any other
office would have: no pictures of friends or family,
no reminders scribbled across notes, no artwork
hanging on the wall Ms. Frost's office was pristine
with all the ease of a hospital.
Why, I wondered, would she want to surround herself
with blanched sterility? Her letter had said she'd
spent most of her formative years in a white room
why on earth would she impose such an existence on
herself when any normal person would want to run from
it? Why keep that reminder?
And what on earth had Jono been doing in here? I
didn't have a chance to even speculate; Ms. Frost's
voice broke through my thoughts to bring me back to
the situation at hand.
"As I'm sure you're aware, this comes as a surprise
to me. I'd imagined we'd covered the extent of your
abilities in prior sessions. Tell me, has anything
else unusual happened regarding your powers?"
I swallowed, thinking. There had been the boost
during the storm so long ago, and the recent erratic
behavior of the link "Only that sometimes it works
and sometimes it doesn't," I explained. "And sometimes
it works more than it should."
She nodded. "That is to be expected at least until
you've had further training."
"Of course," I agreed, perhaps a little too readily.
She waited for me to finish my sentence. In all
truth, it was a silly observation, one that likely
didn't mean much in the long run, but one that still
"But everyone else seems to have better control than
I do," I admitted. "And all this new weird stuff is
happening, and it's "
"Very frustrating," she finished for me. "I
understand. Psi-abilities differ greatly from other
mutations. You're expected to maintain your own
psychological stability while at the same time
attempting to gain control of these abilities. It's to
be expected that you would take longer to gain
control, by the very nature of your powers."
"So " I ventured, "it's okay?"
"Perfectly acceptable," Ms. Frost assured me. "I
would be worried if you were progressing any faster.
If there is nothing else, I will meet with you after
your 1:30 session with Mr. Cassidy to ascertain your
potential with this new development." She turned her
attention to some papers on her desk, dismissing me.
I left the office and headed for the kitchen, where I
detected everyone else was or at least, most
Alison sat at the table with her head in her folded
arms, as far from the fridge as possible. Jubilee
blankly scanned the refrigerator's contents like a
zombie. Everett appeared to be waiting for the
microwave to finish heating his lunch.
I pulled a chair up to the table. "Alison?" I asked.
"Is everything okay?"
"No," she muttered into her hands.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"No," she repeated.
Well, if she was going to be that way, I could just
go away. I grabbed an apple from a bowl of fruit on
the counter, then sat at the table again. "It's not
Everett, is it?"
Everett turned at the sound of his name and Jubilee
stopped staring vacantly into the refrigerator,
slamming it vehemently behind her. "What!" she
Alison raised her head to glare at me with forceful
eyes. She didn't need to speak; her expression alone
conveyed the weight of her anger. "You are so dead,"
she informed me darkly, and rose from her chair.
I conveniently ran from the room, taking my apple
with me. I wasn't sure what time it was, but it
certainly couldn't hurt to be early for once, so I
began walking towards the main classroom.
Once I arrived, the analog clock displayed that it
was only 12:00 or so, and I had no desire to sit
around waiting for an hour and a half, so I left the
classroom and went to the music room. It wasn't so
much an actual music room anymore as it was simply a
classroom that happened to have a piano in it. Music
was no longer a part of the curriculum at the
Massachusetts Academy; the room had been abandoned.
The desks had been cleared, but a few chairs remained
scattered about the room and on the risers: carpeted
steps along the back wall where a choir would have
stood. It was actually kind of sad the lack of
appreciation for music here. Jono seemed to
understand, but he hadn't been playing his guitar
lately. I had to admit that I, too, had become remiss
in practicing recently, and in an effort to correct
that, I sat at the instrument and stared at the keys.
But my heart wasn't in it. I really had no intention
of playing anything; there wasn't anything to play. I
was bored with music, and I wanted desperately to find
something that could lift me to the same heights as
music once had. Was the lack of appreciation spreading
to me as well? Or was I simply building an unwanted
tolerance to my passion? It was only slightly
I looked down at the black and white keys extending
to either side beneath my limp fingers. Halfheartedly,
I played a series of chords and then stopped, feeling
It wasn't just my music that was pointless. It was
What was wrong with me? Why was I feeling so out of
it? I sighed, my head crashing on the piano keys and
making a horrendous sound. I did it again. And again.
It started to make my head hurt, so I stopped but
everything seemed so empty and plain.
I should have been excited about this new ability. I
should have been so happy about a lot of things my
grades were up, I was getting along with Ms. Frost, I
was getting along with Paige but even though so much
was looking up, I couldn't feel happy. I'd gained
these good things by being good by being "normal"
and trying to fit in. Of course, that was what I
wanted: to fit in. But now that I did, I felt empty.
And I didn't want to play the piano.
In this empty state I was susceptible to other
emotions that might come along I soon sensed
someone's vague ~worry~ as he approached. I stood from
the bench and went to the door, anticipating an
arrival, but nobody was in the hall, so I retreated to
my bench and stared at they keys again. Before long, a
soft knock on the half-opened door called my
attention. I looked up to see Jono's dark outline in
I studied him for a moment, contemplating our
situation or the complete lack thereof in much the
same way I'd contemplated the piano keys. Back and
forth never deciding what we were to each other. I
would have liked to rely on emotions rather than
titles, but that left so much room for uncertainty.
"Hi," I said softly, not sure where exactly this was
about to go.
*Hello,* he replied. *Busy?*
"Eh." I glanced back at the piano. "Not really." And
then back to him, outlined by the light in the
hallway. He took a few steps inside the room. "What
are you doing here?" I asked. "I thought you were
*No,* he said, sitting beside me on the bench, *not
anymore. I'm fine.*
I gave him a purely skeptical look, the sort that
insisted I wanted to hear the truth.
*Frost gave me an 'evaluation' and all that,* he
Ah so that's what he was doing in her office. It
still didn't explain why he'd shut me out and for
all I knew he wasn't doing it intentionally, some part
of me still took it personally. "What are you doing
here?" I asked. I imagined he'd like to spend his free
time alone, or at least with a friend.
*Well,* he began with the sentiment of someone who
didn't want to talk about what he had to talk about.
He shifted on the bench to face me. *Yer know I want
this just as much as you do,* he explained.
Light, no. If he had to start that way then I didn't
want to hear the rest of it. I looked back at the
* but there've been some problems going on.
Oh, Light, he was breaking up with me. And before
we'd even really started. I wanted to disappear.
*And yer know I'm not one to just go along with
whatever Frost says .*
Sets of black keys among white ones: two, three, two,
three, two, three
* but wot if it happens again? I don't want to be
anymore incapacitated than I already am.*
He sounded like Emma. I could hear her accents and
mannerisms in his psionic voice.
*I don't want to do this,* he continued, *but I have
to.* He reached for me, his hand on my shoulder where
my new power had stung. And he simply drained himself
out of me as I stared at the keys before and below me.
Two, three black keys in a row. Two, three, two,
three, two, three, two, one. I held onto whatever
parts of him I could manage to salvage, as though my
meager power and my sheer force of will could keep him
there, inside my head with me, but the effort was
wasted. I couldn't expect to hang onto him like that.
Draining out two, three, two, one my voice was the
only one inside my head. I was not going to cry.
My resolution, however, could not be kept. In one
swift motion, I stood from my bench and summoned all
my courage perhaps more than I really needed and
feeling the thunder behind my eyes, stared down at
Jono: the reason I'd stayed here, the reason I'd
endured Frost and Paige and Monet and Alison, the
reason I'd managed to live this long. He was all this
and more, and he knew it, and he didn't want me
anymore. He just didn't want anything to do with me. I
refused to just sit back and watch, to just sit back
and accept it without question. I didn't want to hurt
him but oh, Light, I couldn't just let this happen.
I wanted that force I'd felt earlier, the one that had
knocked me down, in the hopes that it might knock him
down as well. I let the rage fly. "Why the HELL did
you do that?" I demanded.
*I told you!* he insisted.
"With your contradictory conditions and Emmaspeak," I
said. "That wasn't you. This isn't you. What
*I told you,* he repeated. *I'm sorry. I didn't want
to. I didn't have a choice.*
Now I wanted to cry. This wasn't right. This wasn't
like him. "You have a choice," I muttered darkly. "You
always have a choice. You're stronger than Frost.
You're stronger than me. You can control this. I can't
believe you'd do this."
He stood now, so that I had to look up to see him
I pushed my request into his eyes, forcing him to
understand my necessity. He was all I had; couldn't he
see that? "Please."
*I can't, Jen.*
His words hit deep and hard so hard I thought they
might strike real tears. I bit my lip, but all control
was lost. "Why not?" I asked, hearing the shaking
desperation in my own voice.
*I told you already.*
I understood. I understood just fine. He didn't
really want this. And if he just wanted to
No, I corrected myself. That wasn't right. He was
sincere; I could hear it in his voice, even if he was
trying to keep me locked out of his emotions.
*Maybe when you've got more control,* he suggested.
"More control," I laughed ruefully. "Sure." I knew
that day was a long way off.
*Jen listen to me.*
I listened. Reluctantly, of course, but I did listen.
*I know this looks bad. I know this must seem like
Im just doing wot Frost told me. Yer know as well as
I do that it doesn't that I don't work like that.
But here now she had a valid suggestion. A
catalyst, really, to put in motion things I'd already
"You were what?!"
*You have to trust me on this one,* he said. *I I
couldn't handle it. It's hard never sure where my
own ... voice is, always getting these spare thoughts
from you I just couldn't handle it.*
"So you're going to quit," I said flatly. It wasn't
really a question.
~helplessness~ *There isn't anything I can do.*
I just looked into his eyes, hoping to find some kind
of comfort, some reason to believe that the removal of
the link was for the best. He seemed to believe it
was. I wanted to understand him. I wanted to believe
him. He was the only person who had understood me in
the short time I'd been here perhaps one of the only
people who had understood me in my entire life. Why
couldn't he grasp the simple idea that I needed him to
be there, especially at that point in my life, when
the blandness and normalcy of life was threatening to
collapse around me? In truth, I reasoned, I couldn't
be without someone or something to help and guide me
through my days, whether they were painfully normal or
positively earth shattering. Yes I would live
without him in my head; I would survive another day,
and another day after that. But it wouldn't be easy,
and I didn't have to like it.
And as angry as I was as much as the odd
complexities of this usually simple emotion rolled
beneath my skin my need outweighed that feeling. My
need and something else, some stronger sentiment I
couldn't place. It certainly wasn't
*I don't want to hurt you,* Jono explained.
How true was that? I wanted to believe him .
*I'm sorry. I have.* He turned to leave.
I couldn't stand it any longer. He couldn't do that
he couldnt just *leave*! Not now! "Where are you
*Where I can't hurt you anymore.*
I ran out into the hallway after him, but he was
gone. My anger finally overcame that softer emotion to
send me spiraling down into disgusting, tainted black
depths. What in hell had Emma told him? I could have
killed her. Screw getting along. She wasn't my friend.
We weren't supposed to "get along". And she had
seriously messed with Jono's head in some way or
another. I'd make her pay for that.
Furious, I stomped down the hallway, praying I didn't
run into Emma or Paige in fear I'd kill either one or
both of them. Because now I had a way, even if it was
less reliable than some other mutations. I had a way
and I would use it.
If only I could figure out how.
But that was beside the point. I kept going down the
hall until I reached the main classroom.
I couldn't go in there, of course. Jono was in there
and if he weren't, he would be soon. And I couldn't
speak to him after what he'd done, even if there was a
perfectly good reason for it. Of course there was a
perfectly good reason, I reminded myself. But until I
knew what that reason was, until I knew exactly why he
felt it so necessary to kick me out of his life, I
would stay mad. What was this talk of hurting me? He
hadn't done that.
Sure he had.
That was the way these things worked with me. The way
they worked at all. Girl meets boy, boy hurts girl,
girl runs off screaming violently because she's not
worth it then girl decides all men are such idiots
and becomes turned off of them altogether.
I was not made for this: this dating thing. That
ritual of society, it seemed, was created for
fabricated girls to shamelessly promote themselves and
their lack of sense in nature's vain effort to
propagate the species. Pity nature never realized the
system was wasted on the short of mind. She just kept
And I, as a teenaged girl, was subject to her every
whim all the chemicals racing through my bloodstream
in terrible amounts, never really balancing, and
giving rise to the emotions I held so dear. How
strange that the very feelings I prized so highly were
only the results of unusual chemical imbalances! It
appeared my empathy, too, was wasted. Such an invalid
gift. Like the sudden decline in my musical interest.
It seemed I could only be rid of this ugly emptiness
when I was angry or when I was with Jono.
But now I couldn't even tell where he was. Light burn
I went to my seat inside the classroom and waited for
class to begin.
--- Jen ---
Letters floated around, stinging in my head letters
formed words formed sentences formed paragraphs formed
letters, unsent to old young people. I could never
articulate myself well those were parts of people
who could have been me I preferred to send notes and
letters. My past was littered with notebooks with
the things I'd sent or merely intended to send. I'd
written letters to real people, to fictional people
to adults and peers, to people I loved and people I
hated. Sometimes they got me in trouble; that's when
they took away my books and sometimes they broke my
heart with their ridiculous ideals of love that could
And it seemed that's all I looked for now
I felt obligated, somehow, to apologize for past
actions. I wanted to heal it, make it better to fix
the past that couldn't be fixed, actions of so long
ago. And Paige was not the girl I'd hurt; she wasn't
any of the girls I'd envied she was only one girl in
this day, who I hadn't ever really truly harmed or
scarred as I had those others but she served as
And with all the things I'd written lately, all these
things I'd sent to Ms. Frost, to Jono well, not
really I wanted to do this. It was wholly
We both cried. Remember that, back at the movie we all
saw right after I came? I looked over at the end and
saw you crying, too. So was I.
I wish I could express myself better verbally. Pen
and paper tends to come easier than speaking
sometimes, when that emotion strangles me. It's hard
living with this power, yes, but I'm not asking for
I can't control what goes on in my head. If that
bizarre mechanism decides I feel some certain way, I
cannot stop that. And I don't understand why that part
of me would choose to adhere to someone already spoken
for, who likely doesn't return my sentiments. Why,
some wonder, have my emotions pointed to Jono, just as
yours have? I can't explain that. I don't understand
the way the mind works.
I could not send that. I had to find the words within
me that might convey my true emotions, but all words
seemed inadequate. There was nothing I could say to
her. If I could just *show* her what I meant if I
could pinpoint these specific desires that were so
necessary: the need, the hope, the love and if I
could find her, I might know how to do that
My mind and heart were open, the energies flowing
freely. I felt people around school and just beyond.
Paige was not in her room studying my power directed
me downstairs and outside beyond the walls to the
biosphere. I entered the enclosure warily, not wanting
any further accidents such as this morning's. Sunlight
flooded the crafted wilderness, filtered through the
glass dome and painting all the foliage in hues too
intense to exist in a dimmer environment. The soothing
rays beat kindly on my shoulders and face, heat
welcome after the interior chill of the Academy and my
I could sense her just through the trees ahead, could
hear a single repeated thwok echoing in a staccato
rhythm. I was only slightly worried about the
incessant thwok-ing, but figured she wasn't in any
danger. I sensed her just beyond a thick cluster of
trees, and I headed into them. Through an opening in
the branches, I saw that she had found a tennis ball
and was slamming it against the brick face of the
building repeatedly with a tennis racket. Though she
didn't look it, her emotions were plainly angry with
something, or at the very least annoyed. I didn't
really want to bother her now. I couldn't she would
just get angrier with me, because I'd tried to do
this, and she didn't like me, or any of several other
reasons. It would be best to just go just get out of
here before I contaminated her presence with my
I pushed ahead through the branches, suffering only a
few scrapes as I did so. I ran ahead, not caring
whether or not he was behind me and feeling
particularly silly. Once inside, I began walking
just fast enough not to look incredibly stupid.
I had the full intention of wasting several precious
hours in front of the television, but found that the
set was already on, its blue glare flickering
aimlessly in the late afternoon dimness that barely
shone through curtained windows. Nobody, however,
occupied the room, so I picked up the remote and
changed the channel.
"I was watching that," a muffled voice informed me.
I turned, remote still in hand, towards the sound of
the voice. "Alison?"
A blanket on the couch bobbed, the vague form beneath
I flopped into a chair across the room, glad it was
only her and not not one of the others. "What'cha
"Kmbmmlib," the even cloudier voice responded
I shrugged and asked if I could change the channel.
"Mm," she responded.
Poor girl. She was always sick. I changed the
"Hey!" Alison protested loudly.
I muted the TV. "What? I am bored out of my skull.
There is nothing to do. Cassidy's shopping on the
Internet, so I can't even read my mail. I don't fell
like the piano, and my CDs feel old, and there's no
way I'm going to even attempt conversation with anyone
else; I'll fall flat on my face no matter who I talk
to. I tried writing, but even that comes out with no
plot. My poetry sounds like some odd hybrid of Tori
and Emily Dickinson, the latter thanks to Frost's
attempt to bridge this rift between us through
literature. She's busy, too, so even if I wanted to, I
couldn't request a lesson and I don't want to. You'd
think," I added after a careful pause, "that being
here would be infinitely more interesting." I sighed
and continued, whether she was listening or not. "I
mean, we're supposed to be superheroes in training,
right? There should always be something going on. Not
that I want any miscellaneous villains to show up at
our door or anyting, but Light, I'm so sick of being
cooped up in here."
The blanket rustled and Alison's still slightly
greenish head emerged. "Jubilee said something about
they're going somewhere tonight. Go talk to her if
you're so bored. I'm sick, and I'm watching Sam and
Al. I haven't seen it before, which is a miracle, and
I'd like to see the rest." She waved me away after I
turned the channel back to Sci-Fi.
I reluctantly left, and thought out. I could
certainly go out, even if I wasn't sure where we were
going or what we were doing. It was so much easier to
go out when someone else decided what we were doing
instead of leaving the decisions to me, because I
could never decide.
I wondered if Jubilee had meant to ask me if I'd like
to come along, or at least mention that night's plans
to me. It would be horribly rude to just invite
myself, particularly if she didn't want me along.
Still, it wasn't as though I actually belonged, and I
would wind up feeling like an extra wheel anyhow. So,
I resolved, I might as well make the best of it. The
worst that could happen would be that I would have to
stay here all night, and even then I could find a
decent chatroom to hang out in hopefully.
"DIE! DIE YOU EVIL SCUM!"
My search for Jubilee was apparently over, as her
familiar voice rang through the air though I
couldn't imagine who she'd wish death upon so
fervently besides Monet, and she likely wouldn't
lower herself to Jubilee's level.
I entered the next room to find her shoving Angelo
away both had been seated before a television,
apparently playing video games.
"Hey," I greeted halfheartedly, and willed the odd
sound in the back of my head to be quiet, it was
Angelo, of all people, and I was not interested in
him; I was interested in Jono, and would remain so
even if that interest was not reciprocated.
Jubilee didn't respond, intent on her video game.
Instead, Angelo looked up, grinning like a madman.
"Back for more?"
I blinked, but ignored his remark and seated myself
on the floor, approaching Jubilee again. "So what's
up?" I asked.
"Nothin'," she answered. She apparently didn't want
to talk to me, so I just got to the point and kept
talking. "So, you guys are going out tonight? Where
Angelo grinned at me. "You wanna come?"
Of course I wanted to come, that was why I was here
but I certainly didn't want to be associated as going
with him, in particular. I wanted to go with the
group. "Yeah, I guess where, and who's going?"
"Uhh " Jubilee answered just as the TV screen
flashed and her character died for the last time. She
turned, then, and addressed me. "Goin' up to town,"
she explained. "There's this swing place there, had an
ad in the paper, cheap tonight. So far who's goin's me
and Ev, and Ange, and no way's M comin', and I dunno
about Paige or Jono 'cause Jono's like gone "
"Gone?" I heard myself say.
"Eh " she floundered, scanning the ceiling. I could
nearly hear her silently chastising herself for even
mentioning Jono's absence. "Uh, yeah," she concluded.
"He'll be back, don't worry he does this. Y'know."
Sure. And he certainly wouldn't go out he was just
not that sort of person.
"You still wanna go?" Jubilee asked hopefully.
Well, Jono wasn't why I'd wanted to go in the first
place, so why should it matter whether or not he was
there? His presence or lack thereof simply wasn't a
real deciding factor. It would be even better, I
decided, if he wasn't there, because I did not want to
be anywhere near him after what he'd done.
"It'll be fun," Jubilee added. "We're leavin' at 6.
If you wanna come I think we're stuck with the van
y'know, the beat up one 'cause it's already like
wrecked and stuff and Frosty thinks we'll like trash
"I'm driving," Angelo added.
Weren't they trying to convince me to go with? It
didn't matter, though, my mind was made up. I wasn't
about to stay in this place a minute longer, Jono or
A few hours later, I arrived in the garage, where
Jubilee, Everett, and Angelo were gathered, the latter
grinning in the driver's seat with his hands on the
wheel and the last remains of a cigarette dangling
disgustingly from his mouth.
Paige arrived just behind me, breathlessly
apologizing for her lateness.
What was she doing here? And where was Jono? Oh,
Light I didn't think she would be coming. Didn't she
want to stay with Jono?
Ev nodded. "We can't leave until Mr. Cassidy brings
the keys," he explained. A good point.
Maybe this wouldn't be so bad. After all, Paige could
be tolerable when Jono wasn't around. It was just when
they were together when he was gushing over her
that I hated her so much. And, I realized, I'd only
hated her all the time because of that constant
reminder of Jono, and his thoughts that weren't about
She smiled. "Right. I talked to him earlier; he told
me to tell y'all to let me drive "
"What?" Angelo very nearly screeched. "But I was
"Just what he said," Paige answered, shrugging. "Oh,
and Jono's coming, too, if " She cut herself off
mid-sentence and eyed me apologetically.
I made it a point to avoid her look, pretending to
inspect the far wall instead. Somewhere between her
gaze and mine, thoughts surfaced thoughts I didn't
want to think, images of Paige and Jono so comfortable
and so close and so relaxed and so very much in
I needed help or I thought I would very well go
insane. "Be right back," I mumbled, and ducked out of
the garage. I hoped Cassidy wouldn't return in the
time I was gone; they might leave then .
I ran across campus to the couch where I'd last left
Alison. She had to come with, or I'd suffer some
bizarre kind of mental breakdown on account of Paige's
Alison was asleep.
"Wake up!" I insisted. "Please. You have to come with.
You have to. Wake up!" Before she even had a chance to
respond, I turned on the TV and turned the volume up.
She groggily emerged, looking awful. "Whuddya want?"
I didn't have time for this. "You have to come," I
repeated. "Paige is going. I'm going to go crazy. I
can't with her and Jono he's not missing, he
coming, and my mind is going to like explode or
something and this is bad."
"And you want me to yell at so you won't yell at
Paige," she responded.
"No!" I insisted. That wasn't it at all. But wasn't
it? She was going to act like my muse of common sense,
my marbles, a reminder of sanity where insanity was
destined to prevail. And yes a sounding board, an
aural punching bag. Someone I knew would listen and
understand. "Well maybe a little."
Wisps of reluctant emotion wafted from her as she
gave in. "Fine. I'll go. When?"
"Now," I told her.
"Now?!" she echoed.
I shrugged. "They're in the garage. Paige's driving."
I bolted from the room and back into the garage, where
the rest of the students were piling into the old
beat-up van we'd been given permission to use that
evening. I joined them, noting that Jono was indeed
there, sitting in the front seat beside Paige, though
Angelo was now absent. I made no comment regarding
either observation, but did explain, "Alison's coming.
She'll be here in a few moments."
Paige shook her head. "No, she's not," she said, and
indicated the far side of the garage, where Mr.
Cassidy was speaking with Alison on his way out,
apparently informing her that she could not
participate in that evening's venture into the outside
"What?" I asked.
"She's sick," Jubes muttered. "So's Ange. They're not
Great. Just great.
This was so weird and beautiful like stepping back
in time, even if only by decades. I had never been one
to go to dances back home, and those I had attended
had never been very fun usually a group of girls
would include me in their circle, but I hardly knew
them and I knew they were only being courteous
because nobody wanted to dance with them, either. And
I refused to be relegated to such a level, so I would
politely decline and stand around by myself, wishing I
had someone because that's always what it ultimately
came down to, and there wasn't ever anyone to remind
me he was there and that he cared.
I watched Jono and Paige take the floor. Though
tentative, they both seemed experienced as they moved
to the rhythm of the music. Other dancers spun around
them, couples and individuals and groups weaving
through one another, attempting unusual movements in
some dizzying cadence of arms and legs and hair and
time other people floating across my line of vision,
but my eyes as well my powers kept a lock solely on
Paige and Jono. She was so beautiful. He had every
reason to love her as much as he did as much and
more. I wanted to rip my eyes from her, to insist that
I did not have to watch her so intently, as though by
not looking at them together I could deny her
existence and yes, merge Jono's world with my own.
What I wouldn't give to get inside his head as he
danced with her to try and figure out what he saw in
her that set her apart from me. I could match it, or
at least try, and surpass it. I could be better I
could be better than myself and certainly better than
But there was no way I could cut in they Jono was
having too much fun.
Couldn't I get in her head, for only a moment, and in
that moment, feel what she did: his hands, his arms
around her, his eyes looking into hers?
Of course not. I wasn't even close to attaining that
kind of power. I was weak, and shallow, my gifts more
of a nuisance than anything else. Frost was wrong to
think they could ever really help. And even more wrong
in her assumptions that the link to Jono had been
making me unstable in fact, I was worse without it,
if only because I had had it, and I had tasted that
kind of intimacy and now it was ripped from me.
And I'd known he'd liked it.
So why the hell was it gone now?
Paige was so pretty.
I resisted the urge to run to her and break her
somehow, fought the adrenaline that demanded I let
loose somewhere, somehow. Instead, I sought my guide
but Alison wasn't here, either, she was stuck at home,
"I'm going to kill her," I muttered to nobody in
particular. "Not right away, no, but gradually, sort
of the way those awful cigarettes are going to kill
Nobody was paying attention to me. I didn't care.
This was the way things worked with me. How could I
feel so miserable when the music was so happy?
"She's so pretty," I went on, still referring to
Paige, of course. "Look at her. With him. I don't get
it. She's too pretty. Too clean. Too perfect and
pretty. I wonder, what's wrong with me?"
"You do this," a voice explained from my left.
What? Nobody had been listening to me. What who? I
turned , caught off guard, to find Jubilee looking up
at me. "You sit around and complain and stuff instead
of actually doing anything. We had this conversation
already, y'know and you like, tried that stuff
before, just lettin' it happen and stuff. So it didn't
work. You still want him? Just go for it."
Her words sounded hollow in my ears. I was really
only half paying attention; my eyes had again focused
on Paige out on the dance floor. Maybe Jubilee had a
I pushed through the sea of crowd, casting aside each
extra dancer until I reached my destination. They were
so close so real and Jono even more beautiful than
I'd ever seen him. So close and so unreachable. I'd
set her on a pedestal, and when he was with her, he
became part of that unattainable vision, too high to
actually address on an equal level. I was lowly scum
next to them -yes, even Jono, too, now, because he
was with her. And she was with him. Everything was
patched up between them; I was just some girl along
the way who served to strengthen their relationship. I
wasn't real; I was a plastic doll for the purposes I
served, and now that I was done with, I could be
discarded. I wasn't supposed to care anymore; they
were back together and I was out of his head
So close so real like watching it live on TV
Oh, Light I willed myself to stop, but to get
away before I did anything stupid or harmful in this
My feet slowly complied; I moved through Jell-O to
the ladies' room, the gelatin breaking and giving way
to water and air and I was running, aerodynamic, until
I hit escape velocity at the bathroom door and
lingered, stationary, in some twisted freefall inside
the ladies' room, staring blankly at myself in the
My face wasn't red; I hadn't been crying or
exhibiting any other drastic manifestation of my
current emotional condition. I appeared, for all the
world, relatively normal, if a bit flustered.
I vaguely sensed someone approaching before the door
opened and Paige's pretty face appeared from around
the corner. Again, I resisted the urges that directed
me to kill her, or at least hurt her. That would make
I pretended to touch up my makeup, ignoring her as
best as I could.
She applied another coat of lip gloss, stopped,
looked at me in the mirror, washed her hands, glanced
at me again, dried them, and then turned directly
toward me, her back to the wall. "I'm Jen, you
seemed upset. Is something wrong?"
Of course there was something wrong, but I couldn't
possibly tell her that, because she had no clue, and
she was trying to be friends, and I shouldn't hate
her, I should be nice. "Yes," I told her. "There is."
She hadn't expected me to say that. Neither had I
generally when someone asks if something's wrong, then
no, it isn't, but thank you for your concern and I
will be fine trying to maintain my sanity on my own.
"There is?" she echoed.
"Yes," I said. "I " I began to explain, but found
the words I'd wanted to use would not facilitate
peace, when in truth I wanted this to pass easily
despite my cravings for blood. "I don't want to make
this a big deal," I decided, "nor do I want either of
us to get mad." Of course, it was already too late for
that, but the point was well-meant and well-placed.
She nodded slowly, seeking comprehension.
It occurred to me that anything I said, no matter how
well-put or thought out, would have no effect. She
obviously cared for him a great deal, and he for her,
and I would only get in the way of their happiness.
And I did want Jono to be happy. I would have
preferred that he were happy with me, but he wasn't,
and I would have to accept that.
After all, my happiness was trivial compared to his.
"Never mind," I concluded, "nothing's going to
change." I tossed my paper towel into the trash and
headed out to be miserable some more.
Paige stopped me with a delicate hand on my arm just
before I pushed the door open. "This is about Jono,"
she stated, "isn't it."
Was it ever about anything else?
I nodded. "Yeah," I admitted.
She smiled demurely and glanced briefly at the floor
before returning her eyes to mine. For the first time
I saw her pretty blue eyes sparkling even in the
bathroom's ugly flourescent lighting with
friendship? "I know you're not gonna believe me," she
said, "but we're friends. Jono and me, I mean. I know
how it looks yeah, we were or thought we were
somethin' once, but " She shrugged, signifying the
relationship's apparent arrival in oblivion.
She was right I didn't believe her.
As if she were empathic herself and picked up on
that, she continued. "Jen look ah much as it
pains me to say it, he does care about you. If you
could hear the way he goes on about you " She
signed, interrupting herself so that whatever she
might have said next was lost to her own mind.
I still didn't believe her. If he cared the way she
said he did, why was he with her now? And why had he
severed our connection?
"If you don't believe me, you can ask him yourself,"
"As though he would even talk to me," I muttered. He
wouldn't not with her around, and certainly not with
all the other people around.
Paige's eyes unfocused on a distant dot far behind
the walls of the room, her mind clearly elsewhere. She
snapped back to reality a few moments later and said,
"He wants to talk to you."
I felt an eyebrow raise in even greater suspicion.
"So now you're linked to him."
She grinned. "Don't be silly. He's a telepath,
If an Aes Sedai had answered that way it would mean,
'Why yes, Jen, I am indeed linked to him now, very
strongly and happily so, might I add.' But Paige was
no Aes Sedai, and she still felt relatively honest, so
I followed her out of the room and found Jono waiting
I swallowed, and the action seemed to force my heart
into my stomach until it launched itself back into my
chest and pulsated faster than the lively music
clouding the air. "You wanted to talk?" I asked
slowly, in a very small voice.
*Well,* Jono replied, *not exactly.*
As he took my hand, I felt his emotions pouring into
me, filling up my missing pieces I looked behind me
for Paige, to see what she thought of all this, but
she was nowhere in sight. Still confused, in a
whirlwind of motion and emotion, I somehow found
myself on the dance floor, the rhythm sounding in my
skull until my beating heart complied with the music's
demands and fell into rhythm alongside the beat. My
feet moved of their own accord, my hands tangled in
Jono's; I could scarcely believe that old wish had
I didn't want to concentrate on the motions, but I
didn't want to step on his feet or screw up or
anything. Silent reminders carried from mind to mind,
and I let the music sweep me away so I didn't care
any longer about doing what looked right so long as it
felt right. The song the music ended and I returned
to the real world, breathless and excited.
Just before the high of activity faded the high of
being with Jono, who apparently cared as much as he
had before, as much as Paige had said he did the
next song began, its meter slow and its emotion real.
I glanced up at him, asking him without words if he
wanted to continue or sit out and he responded
without words as well, his actions speaking as plainly
as any thought would, as his arms pulled me closer to
his body. I allowed my own arms to encircle his neck,
my face against his shoulder.
We moved together, almost as one, to the lilting
rhythm of the music. His hands held me comfortingly,
banishing my demons and I could not believe this was
real; I could not think of any place I'd rather be.
I wished time could stand still in that single
moment. I wished it could last forever. I wished I
could capture that instant and set it free when I
needed hope and comfort and love.
Something like that.
--- Alison ---
"I don't wanna watch this." I complained, disgusted
with the complete lack of intelligent programming on
whatever channel it was that we had been watching for
the past hour. I was lying on the couch in the rec
room, still freezing despite the mound of blankets
that I had managed to pile on top of myself in an
apparently futile attempt to stay warm. This was not
fun, I decided. Very not fun.
"Well, neither do I." Angelo shot back from the other
side of the couch, where he was similarly lying
underneath a pile of blankets and pillows, drinking a
can of Mountain Dew and looking just as sick as I must
have at the moment. The rest of the student body of
the Massachusetts Academy had gone out and left Angelo
and me behind, due to our extremely non-well and
overall pathetic conditions. In other words, we were
too sick to go anywhere, and felt crappy enough that
we didn't really care at the moment. The only other
person on campus at the moment was Mr. Cassidy, who
was probably in his office shopping on the internet or
something. Whatever. Maybe he's buy something cool
"So change the channel." I said, hoping that
something better than the French drag racing we were
currently watching was on. Anything would be better
than this - well, almost anything. I wasn't quite to
the "anything" stage yet, but I was fast heading down
"Can't." came the reply. "The remote's on the table."
"So, I don't wanna get it. I'm too sick. Comprende?"
"Si, you lapiz." I told him. I looked over at the
table on which the remote sat; it must have been miles
away from the couch, and I most definitely did not
feel like traversing the all-too-vast distance between
my pile of (practically ineffective) blankets and the
coffee table. "Well, neither do I. You stretch - you
get it. You won't even have to get up." I reasoned.
"Too sick to stretch."
"What?" The boy was just lazy, if you asked me.
"You heard me - I'm too sick. I don't feel like it.
You have telekinesis. You get it." he countered.
"Telekinesis? I don't even really have it, and even
if I could get it I don't know how to make it work!" I
"Well then, I guess we're just gonna sit here and -"
"Saints preserve us - what happened to all the
Mountain Dew?! I just bought a new case for Jubilee
this mornin' "
Angelo and I glanced at each other and quickly shoved
the pile of empty pop cans underneath the couch as
best we could as Sean entered the room, looking
"Do either of ye know what happened to all the
Mountain Dew?" he asked, hands on hips.
"Um no." I answered.
"Sorry, didn't even know you bought any. We're too
sick to drink it anyway." Angelo added.
Sean nodded and sighed, seeming to believe for the
time being that there actually existed a state in
which one was too sick to drink Mountain Dew. Poor,
"All right." he said, walking around us to the table
and picking up the remote. "Since neither 'o ye
appears to be watchin' anything, I hope ye won't mind
if I watch something else?" he asked, indicating the
cars racing through mud on the screen.
"No." Angelo and I both answered in unison. Sean
turned to the TV and changed the channel, switching to
a more mundane station to watch
"I love Law & Order." he stated happily, sitting down
in one of the huge armchairs off to the side and
turning the volume up a notch.
"I hate law and order." Angelo and I noted, in unison
once more, as I contemplated all possible routes of
escape. Sean just looked at us, but after regarding us
for a brief moment, he shrugged and turned back to his
stupid show. As much as I didn't want to, I slipped
out from underneath my warm haven and grabbed the
topmost blanket, wrapping it around my pajama-clad
body and heading for the kitchen. Maybe I could escape
the evil lawyers in there. Angelo followed suit after
a moment, and we left Sean to watch his prized Law &
Order alone in the rec room while we were forced to
sit pitifully in the kitchen and suffer.
I sighed. As crappy and cold and achy and
terrible and downright sick as I felt, it appeared
that Angelo felt just as - if not more so - sick as I
did. Neither of us was having any fun, especially not
after having to evacuate the rec room due to our
mutual total aversion to Sean's show, and although he
hadn't said or shown a thing, he still seemed rather
amused with the fact we both hated it.
So we sat there in the kitchen, each at our
respective chairs across from each other at the table,
looking at the walls, ceiling, fridge, radio
Radio - I remembered that my tape had been in there
from a couple of days ago; maybe no one had changed
it. I slowly got up and traversed the cold kitchen
floor to the boom box sitting on the counter, and hit
the EJECT button. Sure enough, my tape was still in
there. Good. Angelo eyed me suspiciously, and even I
was beginning to doubt my actions at the moment.
I mean, I had only gotten up on this whim - this
totally illogical, fanciful caprice that had popped
into my head, and even now I didn't know why I was
doing what I was doing. You know how you always ask
people why they do things, and they say they can't
tell you, that they don't know why, and you never
believe them? Well, I didn't know why I was doing
this, but somehow I did it all the same.
I swear, whatever happened next was not my fault.
Perhaps it was just something to do; maybe it was my
way of trying to cheer Angelo up. I couldn't explain
it. It just happened. I hit the PLAY button and Mr.
Jones began, filling the kitchen with its captivating
harmony. I made my way over to the table, and thrust
my hand in Angelo's face, sure I was already turning
red from doing I still knew not what.
"Hunh?" he asked incoherently, looking at me like I
was crazy as the music continued to pick up in the
"Come on." I heard myself saying. "Get up, dance."
When he took my hand and used me to heave himself up
into a standing position, I think he was almost as
surprised as I was.
"I was down at the New Amsterdam, staring at this
yellow-haired girl "
We made our way clumsily around the kitchen, and
finally began laughing as we both realized how
completely pathetic we had to have looked right then.
I thanked God that there was no one else home, save
Sean who was in the rec room watching his stupid law
show and who probably would've thought the sight was
equally as funny as we both did. Angelo whirled me
around as we danced our crazy movements to the music,
just letting go and somehow living in the moment.
"Well you know, grey is my favorite color "
I laughed and twirled again, watching the room spin
crazily. This was kind of fun, even if I didn't know
the meaning of it and I didn't know what was going to
happen as soon as the music stopped or what was going
to happen later or tomorrow or the day after that. But
somehow that didn't matter - all that mattered was our
own little celebration right now, right here, as the
music played and we danced for no reason whatsoever
and neither of us cared why or even that we were both
sick with 102 temperatures or that we were coughing
and dripping and had red eyes and should really have
been in bed. That didn't matter, because this moment
was all that existed and it was more fun than I could
have had anywhere else on earth right then.
"I wanna be Bob Dylan; Mr. Jones wishes he was
someone just a little more funky, and when everybody
loves you, son, that's just about as funky as you can
We ended up doing a sort of tangoish thing, holding
hands and skipping around the room as best we could
while it was still slightly spinning, whether from
fever or Mountain Dew or even the experience I didn't
know. My mind was spinning more crazily than the room,
and I didn't know what to think or even feel outside
of dancing in this room with the haunting and
impulsive chords echoing in my head, running through
me and fueling the moment. I didn't know what we were
doing, what it meant or how I would explain this to
anyone - not that I was about to explain this to
myself, least of all anyone else. Oh God, how would I
deal with this once the song ended, what was I
"Mr. Jones and me, we're gonna be big stars "
The music faded away, and as we both stopped,
invigorated and exhausted both mentally and physically
all at once, there was a silence as neither of us
really knew what to do. I didn't think Angelo knew
what had just happened any more than I did, nor was he
sure of what to say any more than I was sure of the
words I was desperately trying to pull out of my
confused and spinning mind to try and break the moment
and explain it away, or at least do something because
I didn't know how long I could handle standing here in
silence just being in the room with him.
"My friend assures me, it's all or nothing; I am not
worried, I am not overly concerned "
The next song on my tape started - a slower one with
soft undertones and the moment was back, flowing back
with the music as we both began to sway again with the
tempo, both feeling the chords resonate throughout our
minds and I was living in that moment again,
invigorated and confused and embarrassed and loving
every sensation, even as my mind screamed at me that
this wasn't me, why was I doing this and Jen's gonna
make fun of me or maybe she'll see something I wasn't
ready for her to see but this was nothing we were just
bored and dancing and why had I done this thank God I
had I love this but what am I gonna do when it stops?
--- Jen ---
I didn't want this to end I didn't want to lose this
moment but the last notes hung in the air, fading
away slowly and the dance fading with them. I held
onto Jono, hoping that fate could freeze these last
few seconds, when everything was okay, and I didn't
need to worry about school or mutancy or life or
anyone else who would get in the way.
His arms held me tightly; my face against his
shoulder, breathing in the scent of him so beautiful
until I felt his warm fingers on the back of my head,
an involuntary chill running along my spine from his
I opened my eyes and glanced around the dim room,
then up to Jono, his brown eyes looking into mine. His
voice gently crept into my brain, as though relaying
his message through mere images and sensations instead
of individual words. *It's time to go.*
I certainly didn't want to go. It couldn't be over
not yet but the lights were coming on around the
room, the people moving in herds out the doors, every
sign indicating that the time to abandon this world
I released my hold on him though reluctantly and,
looking at the floor, headed for the door. I could
feel him approaching behind me, and without warning,
without words, he took my hand and walked with me.
Wouldn't Paige be upset that we were together? Didn't
this bother her?
I tried to shove those thoughts from my mind after
all, I had won, hadn't I? I'd gotten what I wanted,
and she'd willingly gone along with it she wasn't
the least bit upset. That was odd if I were in her
position, I would be furious. And I certainly wouldn't
tell her to just go be with some guy I'd been with, or
at least had the chance of being with, and obviously
liked a great deal.
Unless she really didn't care but that didn't make
Maybe they just didn't want me to be mad, and so
conspired to make it look like he truly cared about me
so I wouldn't blow up in public.
But I had no evidence to support that why not
simply accept it at face value?
The crisp night air was cool on my face and the stars
shone brightly overhead, silver paper cuts penetrating
the indigo sky. "Where's the car?" I asked softly in
the only volume my voice managed to attain.
Jono wordlessly led me in the right direction, back
to the old blue van that was both empty and unlocked.
I climbed into the seat I'd occupied on the way here
to my surprise, Jono did not take the seat in front
he'd had before, but accompanied me in the back.
And nobody was here but us. And it was dark. And it
was cold. And nobody was here and my heart finally
gave way, my throat suddenly dry as I realized just
what was going on.
Or what would go on, under normal circumstances.
Apparently that hardly mattered as I felt Jono's
arm pull me close to him, my head so close to his,
feeling the energy pulsating within him like a
heartbeat it quickened as my own heart did. Thoughts
swirled through my head with ridiculous pace, worries
of how he'd react to my actions what he was doing,
where this was going
-- could I even do that?
I brought one hand down across his scarred cheek as
my other braced myself against the seat, and he didn't
move; he just sat so still and looked at me. I saw his
eyes, the life behind his eyes, and I knew that
somewhere behind them lived a soul scared, and
apprehensive, and full of more emotions I wanted so
desperately to read.
-- oh, he was going to be mad, and Paige would kill
me even more than she would have killed me before, and
where was everyone and shouldn't they be getting back
Soft cloth brushed my cheek oh Light, he smelled so
good my soft, breathless lips met the ruined flesh
above his bandages and lingered for just a moment, and
his warm, cool fingers touched the back of my neck,
moving, touching, holding, gracing my own soft flesh,
down my shoulder.
Whatever happened to words?
They were inconsequential or at least, unnecessary.
This moment was even darker than the last, rich with
the unusual physical contact.
I kissed him again he didn't seem to mind the first
time and again, as his spare hand rested on the side
of my face and his thumb, his fingers reached my
mouth, perhaps to deter me from mistakes.
I pushed through his hand on my face, pushed through
to him and his scent and his emotions. His mild
~surprise~ was unexpected I found myself smiling as
I came so close to him again, laughing with disbelief
that this could even be real.
His feelings blended so easily, so readily with mine:
his quiet thanks and soft affection.
My breath came slowly, my joy real, and for the
moment I did not care about anything else. I wouldn't
want to be anywhere else.
Scattered voices floated through my thick emotion
from outside the van; the door opened
"Whoa! Look at what's goin' on in here!"
Mortified, the blood ran cold from my face, and I
froze. As Jono's hands pushed me away, I blinked
suddenly, the ability to move somehow slowly
Grinning wildly, Jubilee stepped into the van and
seated herself on the bench seat in front of me,
folding her arms over the back of the seat. She
surveyed the situation on her own, looking from me to
Jono and back to me again, before finally deciding,
"Too cool. This is just too cool! I can't believe you
guys are like, actually finally together and stuff!"
She sank back into her own seat, still laughing and
grinning and repeatedly reminding us all that this was
"Both of you, let's just behave, hmm?" reprimanded
Paige as she got into the driver's seat and turned the
ignition. A crisp, aloof emotion drifted from her
she was trying to distance herself from us, I
realized, trying to pretend that everything was okay.
"We've got quite a drive in front of us and I don't
want to be late. Buckle up and let's go."
We all complied, and the van drove off into the
(*Remind me to have a word with Jubilee later,*) Jono
whispered into my mind.
"Hmm?" I asked, still shaking and embarrassed from
the rude interruption. The thought made sense just as
he clarified, (*About that.*)
Yes yes, of course. That.
I stared out the window at the passing darkness at
the shadows drifting past in the night, at the
headlights glaring from opposite traffic, and at the
quiet solitude night provided, despite my close
proximity to the rest of the people in the van. Jono's
warm hand rested on my own, reminding me that he was
there and he wasn't about to leave.
So this was it, I realized. No matter what had come
before with or without the link no matter who
still remained, no matter what feelings had come and
gone this was it. I curled my fingers around his
hand and squeezed tightly, not about to let go.
* * *
I was almost asleep when the old van finally pulled
into the long driveway of the Massachusetts Academy. I
willed myself to stay awake, at least until I was in
"C'mon, you two, let's move," Paige's voice echoed
over my drowsiness.
Reluctantly I got out of the van I would've
preferred not to move at all; sleeping in the van was
fine with me at that point. But I did as asked,
following Jono back into the building.
Through blurry eyes I was vaguely aware of Jubilee
and Everett staring through a doorway at something
else, but because of the way she'd treated me earlier
I refused to talk to her, and tiredness outweighed
curiosity, so I began to trudge upstairs to my room
just before Jono stopped me. I turned.
*Thank you,* he said. *I had a good time tonight.*
I felt myself smiling. "Yeah me too." I wondered if
he would say
*So --* he continued, *see you tomorrow. Unless
you've got plans already?*
I laughed. What plans could I make in this school?
"Not really," I answered. "Tomorrow." I didn't want to
say goodbye .
To my surprise, Jono's arms held me one last time
that night or was it morning already? and I
accepted his embrace, returning it and gently kissing
him once before separating and heading upstairs.
I turned back to him briefly. "Night."
This was definitely good, I resolved as I finally
headed to my room. Definitely good.
* * *
Saturday morning arrived with memories of the previous
night still intact. I turned them over in my head,
hoping to recall every second and relive it over and
again. No such luck there were fragments, beautiful
fragments, but most of last night's events slipped
through my head and let go.
I rolled over and looked at the clock. 10:32, not too
bad. A demanding knock sounded on my door, accompanied
by Jubilee's obnoxious reminder of the time. She
opened the door without warning and bounced brightly
into my room.
"Hey," she greeted. "Y'know, after you got up here
last night the rest of us found Alison and Angelo in
the rec room practically on top o' each other."
Huh? That didn't sound like Alison the girl was
positively frightened of relationships; she would
never in a zillion years willingly enter into one,
much less amuse herself with the physical aspects of
"Guess you weren't the only one gettin' some last
Oh, yes I had to remind Jono to kill her, didn't I?
I glared at her and asked kindly, "Would you please
leave so I can get up?"
She nodded. "Sure. Meet me downstairs in a coupla'
What on earth was so important I couldn't just start
my day gradually? Still, I wanted to see Jono again,
now that I knew he would at least accept me with all
my bizarre faults and flaws now that I thought he
might want to see me, too.
I dressed with that in mind but not too far from my
usual style, and a few minutes later, met Jubilee
downstairs, as she'd requested.
She just kept grinning at me as I poured myself a
bowl of cereal. "They've been quarantined," she
explained. "Alison and Angelo. Or so says Banshee.
Y'know, I wonder just how sick they, like, really were
or how sick they were only pretending to be." She
"Right," I replied sarcastically. "C'mon, Alison's
got a phobia. She changes the channel when there's so
much as a hint of romance on. She's the last person
I'd expect to fake sick to be with some guy.
"Just tellin' ya what I saw," she clarified. "Anyhoo,
they're stuck down there in the rec room lucky for
them, huh? Rest of us are goin' to the mall, you wanna
"Eh " I began, lazily turning over mini-wheats with
my spoon. I'd wanted to spend some time with Jono
real time, not that apprehensive, cautious sort of
time our conversations had occupied. The tension
wasn't all gone, to be sure, but it was certainly not
as prevalent as before last night. If he still wanted
"Nah," Jubilee continued, standing and heading for
the fridge, "Jono's gotta, like, stay here, so you
prob'ly wanna stay here, too." She laughed, clearly
insinuating things that she shouldn't and had no right
to insinuate. "He can't go 'cause someone's gotta keep
an eye on Al and Ange and he's the only one of us
who can't, like, get sick or nothin'." She shrugged
and opened the fridge door, instinctively reaching for
something within that wasn't there. "Hey!" she
exclaimed. "Where's all the Mountain Dew?"
I shrugged. "I don't like Mountain Dew," I explained,
thereby absolving myself of all suspicion. I had to
wonder, though, how she could possibly drink the stuff
for breakfast. That was just wrong. "Hey," I asked,
catching her attention, "do you know where he is now?
Jono, I mean."
She scrunched her face up thoughtfully. "I dunno,"
she decided. "Basement? Or waiting on them already."
She jabbed a thumb in the general direction of the rec
room and shrugged. "Could you tell him to, like, yell
at them and stuff? For drinking my Mountain Dew? I
have this, like, feeling they, like, took it."
"I'll be sure to do that," I promised, mentally
adding that I would only after we'd dealt with her
appropriately for her actions and state of mind last
night. As well as this morning.
I empathically extended my senses into the area that
Jubilee had mentioned and found Jono's signature
somewhat near Alison's and Angelo's, the latter two
colored with certain discomfort. I waited just outside
the rec room door until Jono emerged. His emotions lit
up upon seeing me? but outwardly he showed no
change in emotion.
*G'morning,* he greeted.
I just smiled. "Hi. So, uh, I hear you're stuck
* yeah,* he replied, if a bit belatedly, his eyes
scanning the floor. *Where's Alison's room?*
"Upstairs," I answered quickly, and immediately felt
stupid. Of course it was upstairs. All the rooms were.
But what he could possibly want with Alison's room ?
For a moment he just looked at me, as though
searching for something beyond my face, his eyes
scanning mine for even a shadow of reason. I knew he
wouldn't find it, so I broke in before he came to that
conclusion. "What did you need from Alison's room?"
He blinked, not sure where I was coming from, then
realized he was on a mission. *She wants these
'Sentinel tapes'. You got any clue what she's talking
I laughed, and that single action eased all or at
least most of the tension in the air. Of course her
video tapes. The poor girl was one of the few rabid
fans of the UPN show "The Sentinel"; it would figure
that she would want to spend her sick day watching it.
Poor Angelo, he'd be subjected to several hours of
sci-fi cop show drama hah! He deserved it!
"Yeah," I said. "They're in her room." I led the way
I had to admit I felt odd going upstairs with Jono
so close behind me. And it was still so early in the
morning, or at least it felt that way. I worried that
I wasn't entirely awake yet, that my mind and body
would conspire against me to commit some sort of
bizarre crime I had nothing to do with. I hoped I
could remain lucid even in the midst of all these
Alison's room was the last one, at the end of the
hall. I opened the door and turned on the light and
searched empathically for the tapes.
*Jen are you all right?*
Oh, Light he was right behind me, and I wanted to
oh, I didn't know what was he doing here? did I
really mind? this was Alison's room!
"I'm fine," I answered, not turning to look at him,
just keeping my search for the tapes open, just trying
desperately to concentrate on that and not on Jono,
but he was there .
*You're shaking,* he observed.
I was not shaking, I was not shaking, I was so not
"My powers aren't working," I explained softly.
A skeptical sentiment drifted from him. *Yes, they
are,* he said, and from behind placed both hands on my
shoulders in attempt to calm me.
A chill radiated from where he'd placed his hands and
all through the rest of me. I closed my eyes and took
a deep breath, cooler all around, and
-- don't turn around don't look at him don't
I kept my eyes forward. Yes, I could deal with this.
I could and would. I spotted a cardboard box
presumably full of videos out of the corner of my
eye and went to it. "Here they are," I announced. "The
I lifted the box of videos and glanced inside. They
couldn't possibly need that many one tape held six
hours, and they could only take so much of the same
show. Of course, one could never be too sure with
Alison . "When do they need these by?"
Jono shrugged. *She didn't seem very urgent. Angelo
was still sleeping, I think I don't usually pay much
attention,* he added quickly, as though I might accuse
him of taking notice of another guy's sleeping habits.
His unspoken bitterness was evident the gift he'd
been cursed with now restricted him to the school, and
the worst part was that the restriction had been
placed against his will.
I wished there were something I could do, something
to make him feel better. But all I could do to appease
that frustration was stay here, and that was more for
my own purpose than anything else was.
He lifted the box of videos from my hands and carried
it downstairs into the rec room.
I woke up the next morning still freezing underneath
my pile of blankets, lying on one end of the couch in
the rec room. Sunlight streamed blindingly bright
through the windows, which were partially blocked from
my view by Angelo's red-socked feet. I felt horrible -
worse than I had last night, if that was humanly
possible. More cold than ever, and my head still hurt
and my sinuses felt like they were filled with cement;
my nose had decided to cease any and all function as
I groaned and shoved Angelo's feet out of the way -
he merely "Mmfhwamm "ed and continued sleeping, or at
least keeping up the appearance of doing so. Pulling
almost all of my blankets around me, I made my way
wobbily towards the doorway - it was impossibly far
away and the task proved rather difficult, seeing as
my head was swimming, my vision was swimming, and the
room was spinning like an out-of-control centrifuge.
I finally made it to the doorway only to find it
blocked off with POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS tape and a
hastily-scribbled BIOHAZARD sign taped to the door
"Huh?" I managed to get out, just as Jubilee turned
the corner of the hallway and came into view. She was
still in her pajamas: a pink shirt over too-bright
yellow shorts, her feet shoved into huge bear-feet
"Ah, so the lovebirds awaken," she said, her eyes
lighting up as she saw me standing there.
"WHAT??!!" Actually, I did not even want to know, for
fear of having to kill her, or perhaps even massacre
the entire household.
"Oh, come on - you know what I mean you and Ange,
way to go, 'chica.' "
"Jubilee, SHUT UP."
She feigned injury, but merely batted her eyes at my
"Don't even " I went on, trying to think of something
with which to threaten her. "I will - "
"Sure, sure, whatever " she said, not letting me
finish my sentence before apparently losing interest
in my obviously empty threats. "I know love when I see
So she wasn't as smart as I'd thought she was, huh?
"JUBILEE!! Shut up! You're just -"
"Oh, come on! Sleeping on the same couch? That seems
pretty darned romantic to me "
"Oh UGH!" I crossed my arms and turned on my heel;
that obviously wasn't the best course of action, as I
failed to keep my balance and toppled backwards,
hitting my already-aching head on the door frame as I
"Oh ow " I moaned, managing to elicit a hand from
beneath my blankets to rub at the sore spot on my
head. This was gonna bruise
"Hey, Al - are ya okay?" Oh, so now she was
"I'm fine." I half-growled, wishing I could just go
back to sleep and start the day all over again. Maybe
if I'd woken up at 7:15 with a leak in my waterbed
"I'm sorry - I'd help ya up, but you're quarantined
and all "
Darn. It was Saturday, not Monday. There went my
chance for starting the day over. "Quarantined?" I
asked. I recalled no such quarantine - in fact, I
recalled no quarantine, period.
"Yep," Jubilee informed me matter-of-factly.
"Banshee's declared you two officially quarantined to
the rec room for at least the rest of today."
"Oh, great," I muttered, finally attempting to get
back to my feet.
"Yep, uh-huh," she continued," just you and Angelo.
In the rec room. Alone. For the whole day."
Did the girl honestly want death that badly? "Lee,
SHUT UP before I kill you. Slowly."
"Okay, but I'm only stating the obvious, ya know."
She held up her hands and backed away to what she
deemed a safe distance before turning around and
continuing on her original path down the hall, singing
softly and off-key to herself.
"And I-eyy-iii will always love youuuu " *
* * *
Nearly an hour later I was sitting on the couch
sipping orange juice trying to ignore Angelo's feet -
man, that boy certainly took up a lot of room when he
slept - while channel-surfing with some moderate
half-interest. There was nothing on, despite the fact
that it was Saturday morning. I sighed, resigning
myself to the fact that Saturday morning cartoons just
weren't up to the same standards anymore. MST3K was
"Overdrawn at the Memory Bank", and as much as I loved
the show, I just couldn't take that movie any more.
Anything but that well, that or the Neptune Men
I finally settled on Power Rangers as an absolute
last resort, hoping to at least be able to make fun of
that awful Pink Ranger. Alas, she must have been on
vacation or something, so I was left with four rangers
and one heck of a crappy villain threatening to turn
all of Angel Grove's plants against them, or something
equally stupid and pointless along those lines.
*Gel?* The psionic inquiry startled me, and I turned
around in half-shock to see Jono standing in the
doorway. What was he, of all people, doing here? What
did he want? I was so not up to being ridiculed again
"Hmm?" I decided to risk asking.
*Um, I was wondering if yer wanted me to bring you
anything? You know, like something to do? Some CDs?
Wow - he wanted to help? I couldn't complain - I
still thought Jono would avoid me at any and all
costs, and I wouldn't blame him one bit if that were
the actual case. As I pondered his request, a sudden
thought struck me.
"Yes, please - that'd be great. Um, my CD case is on
my dresser - it should be on top, next to the lamp -
and could you get my box of video tapes? It should be
on the floor somewhere."
*Sure, be right back,* he said, turning to leave.
"Thank you!" I said, still surprised that he was
helping but definitely glad for it.
While Jono was gone, I amused myself by pulling off
all the red fuzzies on Angelo's socks, which were
quite overrun by them.
"Mmf. Hey, chica, what'cha doin' to my socks?"
"Oh, so you're awake."
"I am now. What're you doin'?"
"Just pulling all the fuzzies off."
"What the hell are you watchin'?" he asked, poking
his head out from underneath his own mound of
blankets, where previously only his unkempt hair had
"Power Rangers," I confessed, "but Jono went to get
some of my tapes, so in a minute it'll be something
much better," I went on to assure him.
"I hope so," he said disgustedly, just as Jono
reappeared in the doorway with my box of tapes and my
CD case. I thought I saw a shadow in the hall - was
that Jen? I waved, she appeared and waved back,
*Here yer go.* He handed the box to me as I made my
way over to the door carefully to accept it.
"Thanks again," I said, smiling.
*Sure. Hope you two feel better. Let me know if you
need anything else.* And with that, he and Jen were
"What's in the box?" Angelo asked, peering over the
back of the couch as I came back around to shove the
first tape into the VCR.
"Tapes," I said matter-of-factly, going for the
"What's on 'em?"
I grinned. "The Sentinel."
* * *
"Hey, Chief - wake up." A soft voice cut into the
blackness I had unknowingly sunken into, accompanied
by a flutter of movement that worked its way into my
consciousness that I began to associate with the
outside world a moment later.
"C'mon Al, time to wake up." More movement. "My arm's
asleep; I'm gonna need it eventually."
Huhwha?" I asked, shifting my position, opening eyes
I hadn't even known were closed. I looked up into
Angelo's face, who was apparently trying to
... get his arm out from underneath me. Oh GOD - I
rolled away, allowing him to get out from underneath
"Oh geez, I'm sorry - I'm so - I'm sorry " I could
feel my face turn hot as the involuntary rush of blood
to it began, turning me crimson against my will.
"S'okay Chief," he said softly, suddenly looking
down. He wasn't No He couldn't be
"Chief?" I asked, hoping to change the subject.
"Yeah. Chief." He looked back up, smiling. "You look
I nodded, smiling a bit now, wishing my face wouldn't
take its own sweet time on cooling off. "Oh," was all
I could say.
"Yeah, good show. You fell asleep almost two hours
ago, though. I been watchin' it, though good show "
The crimson flushed my cheeks once more - had I
really been asleep for two hours? In front of the TV?
On - ? Oh BOY. But wouldn't he have woken me up or
And another thing - I usually didn't fall asleep
watching TV. That was odd; but then again, I'd never
fainted in class before, either. Besides, I was sick.
That must be it, I reasoned.
"What time is it?" I asked, wiping the final remnants
of sleep out of my eyes, all-too-aware that my face
was still hot.
"Almost lunchtime," Angelo told me. "You hungry? I
could get Jono and Jen to make us something."
I thought for a moment, consulting my stomach to see
whether or not I could handle food. I finally decided
I could. "Yeah, kinda."
"Good. Man, I want some grilled cheese."
"Grilled cheese?" I thought a moment. "Hmm . I could
use some of that too. With tomato soup."
"Yeah," Angelo said. "That's what I need. Grilled
--- Jen ---
*Frost said it didn't matter where we went or what we
did as long as we stayed on campus,* Jono explained.
*She made me set up a temporary connection so that
whenever either of them wants something all they've
got t' do is think it so if I'm runnin' off, rest
assured it's not you.*
I laughed in spite of myself. "I'll keep that in
The scenery in the biosphere was just as pretty as it
had been before, though now a different radiance
infused the flora; the sun behind its glass seemed to
shine in private ceremony for only us. The shade of
the tree we sat beneath was welcome refuge from the
What on earth was I supposed to say?
Maybe, I reasoned, I wasn't supposed to say anything.
Maybe there was nothing to say. Maybe talking about
this whole thing was just dumb and unnecessary. Maybe
it was best to follow my own advice and rely on
emotion instead of specifics and details and titles.
For once, I should just quit worrying about what was
going through his mind while the link had taken care
of that before, it wasn't there now, and could do me
no good. I settled myself closer to him and rested my
head on his shoulder. This was so ... nice.
No it was better than just "nice". And yet I
couldn't shake the feeling that he didn't really care
about me, despite all the evidence to the contrary,
despite even the evidence that my Talent had allowed
me to perceive.
But I wouldn't complain I couldn't.
*Jen?* Jono's voice echoed through my head, shaking
me from the faint web of dreams that had just begun to
"Hmm?" I replied. I didn't want to move.
*Nevermind,* he said. *It's a silly question.*
A silly question sure. "There's no such thing as a
silly question," I informed him.
He glanced to me, and I grinned back up at him, and I
caught the clear sentiment of ~amusement~ as his eyes
shone with laughter. *Of course not,* he belatedly
agreed, his eyes still carrying remnants of that old
A moment passed as he contemplated the validity or
lack thereof of his question before it finally
surfaced in my own mind. *Why me?*
Why him? a small voice in my head echoed. How could
he not know why? We'd been linked he'd seen my
reasons and my feelings he knew all this already.
But I couldn't blame him for seeking confirmation ...
things gleaned through telepathic means were so often
of questionable truth. I couldn't be sure if I were
simply making facts up, filling in blanks with what I
hoped was true rather than what I knew was real.
Before I could answer him properly, though, he shoved
me off of his shoulder, dropping my hand as though I
was no longer important and had never been. Past my
initial anger at his sudden action, I glanced
questioningly at him for a moment before it registered
that it wasn't anything that I'd done. I stood and
followed him, though he seemed in something of a rush.
Almost, I noted, as though he wanted to get away from
me ... but I shoved that thought into an unused drawer
in my mind and caught up to him, never minding his
long, purposeful strides. Quiet anger seeped from him,
almost bitter in nature.
"What --?" I began.
*Angelo,* he informed me coldly, *wants a sandwich.*
Jono's boots thudded irritably on the floor.
I lagged behind a few steps and remained at the
entrance to the rec room as Jono went in. He came out
a few minutes later feeling extremely ~disgusted~. *I
should make them make their own bleedin' lunch,* he
muttered not necessarily to me, but rather to anyone
who cared to listen.
He stomped into the kitchen, apparently oblivious to
my presence. I sighed, following him in. "What did
they want?" I asked.
Jono opened up the refrigerator. *I can't believe
this. Why're they doing this?* He slammed the fridge
door shut and began searching through cabinets.
"They want sandwiches?" I asked.
*With tomato soup.*
I thought I remembered seeing some soup in the
pantry, where the bread likely also resided. "I think
there's some lunchmeat in the fridge," I suggested.
All in all, this was very odd. The soup was, in fact,
in the pantry. I removed it and followed the
instructions. By the time the pot of soup was cooking
happily in the microwave, Jono was still staring
blankly into the refrigerator. I knew he didn't eat
so of course this was rather cruel but he used to,
so he should have at least some idea of where things
I resigned myself to the fact that I'd have to do
this myself, and reached around him to get the
lunchmeat and lettuce.
*They wanted grilled cheese.*
Of course he told me now, after all the stuff was
out. I put it back and took out cheese and butter I
was pretty sure you used butter on grilled cheese. I
knew my mom had made this before; I'd watched her. The
butter went on the outside, with the cheese on the
inside, and it all went into the pan.
The microwave beeped like a happy R2 unit and Jono
took out the soup oh, Light, I thought he was going
to spill it but the pot had made its way to the
counter without incident. Thankfully.
"Bowls're in the cabinet on the left," I said,
indicating the location in question.
*You want any?*
I shook my head and flipped the sandwich over. "I
hate tomatoes." The bread, I noticed, was not supposed
to be that color. Well, tough they'd have to deal
with that. I wasn't about to make more. Perhaps they'd
believe it was Cajun-style grilled cheese....
I took out some plates and set the sandwiches on
them. The plates joined the bowls of soup on a cookie
sheet used as a makeshift try, which Jono managed to
carry into the rec room without spilling.
* * *
"They want what?" I exclaimed, dropping the last half
of my own sandwich on the plate.
*Comic books,* Jono replied grimly.
"Isn't it bad enough that we made lunch for them?" I
demanded. "I think they're taking advantage of us." I
resumed my lunch.
*Well, of course they're taking advantage of us.
Wouldn't yer do the same if you were sick?* Jono
Apparently he was forgetting that I had already been
sick or at least indisposed some time ago. "I did
not take advantage of you at all," I explained, if
somewhat indignantly. "I didn't ask for videos or CDs
or lunch or or comic books." The last came out
oddly, as though it wasn't meant to be said. I had to
admit it was a little strange what sort of comic
books did she expect me to get for her?
I sighed, burying my head in my hands on the table.
"Did she say what kind?" I asked, though muffled.
*She said you knew wot she liked. They each gave us
about $10 to spend there. I suppose they trust our
"I suppose." I looked up and considered the rest of
my sandwich, deciding to finish it. "Do you know where
we're supposed to go? Mall's kinda far ..."
Jono shrugged and consulted a piece of crinkled paper
he produced from his jacket pocket. *According to
your friend there's a shop in town that sells ...
that sort of thing.* He handed me the paper. On it was
scribbled a hastily drawn map of the surrounding area,
with notes in Alison's handwriting.
"Okay," I began, "how are we supposed to get there?"
Confusion passed across his eyes for a moment. *I
thought that was a map.*
What did that have to do with oh. I laughed. "No, I
meant transportation. They took both cars out, and
the other kids have the van." I grinned, shoving the
list and map into my own pocket. "Guess we can't go.
Oh, well. Why don't you break the news to them?"
*No,* Jono replied, *I won't.*
*C'mon, let's go. You an' me both.*
He wasn't serious. He couldn't be. Only minutes ago
he wanted nothing to do with this little excursion,
and now he insisted that we go?
*There's plenty of cars and such in the garage,* he
explained, only a hint of deviousness creeping into
Of course I'd seen Frost's extensive collection,
but he couldn't just take one without permission! It
was too late to talk him out of it, though he'd
already headed for the garage.
With great trepidation and enough fear to last me
several meetings with Frost herself, I followed
several steps behind. He finally selected one of the
many vehicles within an unassuming compact car whose
keys were hanging conveniently on the wall. This was
too easy. Something definitely had to be up. Wouldn't
someone notice we were gone? Wouldn't we get in
tremendous trouble for this? Light I was going to
die. I just knew it.
Though one comfort was crystal clear if I was going
to die for these sins, so would Jono, and I could rest
easily knowing we would at least share similar fates.
But I still didn't want to die.
My heart pumped wildly with this thrill. It seemed
like nothing to Jono as though he'd done this
several times before, as well he could have but the
experience was something almost deliciously obscene to
me. I wasn't a bad girl by nature; my evil side only
emerged when provoked, and even then she would do no
such thing as "borrow" Frost's car. I was rather
bland, actually, and sheltered, and good, with these
sickening ironclad morals. I suppose it was those same
morals that prevented me from doing anything ah,
drastic with the otherwise unassuming Jono even
though my imagination was certainly active.
Once free of the school's boundaries, the car flew
along the open, tree-lined road. We were no longer
students of the Massachusetts Academy, no longer bound
to codenames by our abilities and genes we were no
longer Chamber and Psyche; we were no longer Jono and
Jen, or even telepath and empath we were simply two
free spirits who had managed to seek and welcome each
other throughout chaos and tribulation.
For the first time in a very long time, I felt
ridiculously happy. Joyous laughter bubbled to my
surface and I could no longer contain myself.
Jono did not ask he did not need to and actually
rolled down the windows to allow even more sunlight to
come in and warm the car's interior. I shot him a
query he usually preferred darkness but thought
better of it and simply grinned.
I turned on the radio, and wonderful, exciting music
filled the air, with a driving rock beat and wildly
emotional guitars. The music though it came from a
radio and was not live was filled with all the real
emotion that ought to come with music, and it
strengthened me. I didn't recognize the song, but
hardly cared. I doubted life could get better than
That wonderful image, however, was soon broken when
words floated back into my mind, memories that warned
against our leaving campus. "Jono " I began.
*Wot?* he asked almost cheerfully.
He was too happy. I couldn't do this. I couldn't just
shatter his mood and, I noted, I'd been the one to
bring him to such a state. Or had he been the one to
make me so happy? I couldn't decide and it didn't
matter. I sighed, turning the radio up to signify that
whatever I'd meant to say wasn't important. I shoved
the guilt into a corner of my mind, where I hoped it
wouldn't bother me, and I prayed that we'd get back
before anyone else did.
Several songs later, we arrived in town, at the small
shop that Alison's map had directed us to.
We were going to be in so much trouble.
I trailed behind as Jono pushed the door open, and as
we entered I let out the breath I hadn't realized I'd
been holding. The store held more than Alison's prized
comic books something odd tickled the back of my
brain but I shoved it, like that guilt I'd promised
myself I would ignore, into a corner and took the list
from my pocket.
These were arranged alphabetically, I noticed, and
picked up a few of the issues scribbled on the paper
in my hand. I couldn't help but raise an eyebrow at a
lot of the cover art (Angelo's requests, I told
myself) but then something from the remotest corner
of my peripheral vision struck me. Amidst the sharp
lines (and curves), stuck casually between bright
glossy covers, was a half-forgotten slip of washed-out
pastel artwork. Informing myself that I did not like
comics and never had, I gingerly tugged the book from
the shelf, reading the title scripted across its
cover: Kabuki. Hm.
I turned it over in my hand, finally deciding to open
the thing, and was greeted with the most beautiful
watercolor work I think I'd ever seen certainly not
the sort of art I'd expected to find in a comic book.
It was chaotic almost like my own mind, or random
Tori songs playing in spliced loops back and forth.
From the looks of things, it had a definite Japanese
influence.... I picked up three issues and hid them
within the pile of books for Alison that I'd collected
I turned, looking for Jono, and found him standing by
the shop's door, waiting for me. I quickly made my
purchases, and then joined him by the car. "We're
gonna be dead," I informed him. "We're gonna be late
*Don't worry so much,* Jono replied casually. *We'll
be fine. Hold this.*
He'd bought something, too? I took the bag from him
as he started the car, slipping the thick paperback
out into my hands. The dark, haphazardly photographed
cover certainly looked like the sort of thing he'd
read.... I shrugged and put it back in the bag,
preferring to glance through the soft colors of my own
I'd only had time to page through the issues, only
beginning to read the first one in earnest, when I
found that we'd arrived back at the Academy. To my
relief, the cars that had been missing still were, and
nobody would ever know that we'd been gone.
Nobody would ever know.
--- Jen ---
Everybody knew, of course, that the best time to do
homework due Monday was on Sunday night preferably
somewhere between dinner and X-Files, if possible.
Everybody, apparently, except the poor misguided soul
who decided that that was the perfect time to knock on
the door of the empty classroom I'd found to finish
that weekend's work in.
Ordinarily, I would accept such a break, but I was
almost done with that particular problem set, and I
wanted to actually turn something in for once.
Right, I thought sarcastically, and sent that good
student right back to where she came from, because she
obviously wasn't me. I allowed the Procrastination
Queen to reign and set aside the ugly homework. "Come
in," I called, purposefully putting the math book in
its rightful place far, far out of sight.
The face behind the door, oddly enough, was Angelo's.
I'd expected Jubilee, ready to goad me more about my
relationship, or even Paige, attempting to forge a
friendship anyone, really, but Angelo.
"Uh," I said, "hi can I help you?"
He glanced at a spot near my feet, one hand rubbing
the back of his neck nervously. "I dunno," he replied.
"It's, um, never mind. No big deal. I'll go."
Okay, whatever I closed the door, deciding that that
was most certainly bizarre.
A knock sounded again on the door before I could take
my hand from the knob, and I opened it again to find
Angelo remained. What on earth was up with this?
"What's going on?" I asked.
He shifted his weight from one foot to the other and
now searched the hallway ceiling for inspiration.
"Alison," he admitted. "I mean, you know, you know
I had a vague idea of where this might be headed, but
I had no desire to assume anything; that would make me
no better than Jubilee.
"Yes," I replied slowly. "What about her?"
"Uh," he answered, glancing from side to side
perhaps hoping she wouldn't find him in here. "C'n I
I shrugged and stepped aside to let him in, heading
back to the desk I'd occupied before I was so rudely
interrupted. The poor boy oozed ~discomfort~
embarrassment~ as he finally decided to pull out a
desk chair and sit on it. "Okay, so, um," he said.
I could've sworn he'd already brought that point up
several times, but didn't comment. I simply sat there
and waited for him to explain what was going on.
"So, I, uh, Alison, right. What's I mean, how can
I, I mean "
"You like her," I deduced. How positively
enthralling! While she would never admit it, she
needed someone very much. I personally would have
thought Everett more her type, but he wasn't here, and
Angelo would do nicely. Almost anyone would do just
"Uh, yeah," he agreed, blinking in surprise. "You get
that from my head or somethin'?" he asked, indicating
his head as thought I might not be able to discern it
"No," I replied. "I'm not a telepath. But no, I
didn't get that from your emotions alone though they
are fairly obvious. Your actions are strong enough to
let everyone know what's going on with you." I
laughed. "It's no wonder Jubilee thinks you're up to
He ignored that last comment. "Okay, so anyway, uh
yeah. How do I y'know?"
I hoped he would clarify just what "y'know" meant
because I didn't know not exactly, anyway but I
certainly wasn't stupid, and would have to follow my
assumptions, much as I hated to. "You don't," I
explained. "She's not into that sort of thing."
Angelo's eyes widened in shock. "Y'mean she likes
girls? Oh, sh"
"No!" I interrupted quickly. "I seriously doubt that.
I just mean she's ah, very conservative regarding
"Hmm," he hummed thoughtfully, nodding. "So then
what?" he asked, leaning forward on the chair.
I shrugged. "I really don't know," I admitted. "Talk
to her," I suggested. If he could do that without
tripping over his words
"But," he sputtered, "but I I mean, what'm I
s'posed to talk about? I mean, usually it's just
y'know. Easier. But this is different."
I raised an eyebrow. "Different?"
"Yeah," he admitted, exuding ~discomfort~ again.
"'Cause I yeah. 'Cause she's not just I dunno.
I wondered briefly if he could form a coherent
thought or at least a phrase without the use of
"y'know". Doubtful, I decided. "No," I agreed, "she's
not 'just'. But let me warn you," I continued, my
voice firm so as to make sure he got the point, "if
you even think of hurting her I will hurt you back I
don't care how tough you think you are. I've known her
so long, she's like a sister. So just don't."
Angelo raised his palms before himself and grinned.
"Got nothin' to worry 'bout, chica I know just what
"Good," I replied.
"But what do I talk to her about?" he asked again,
reminding me of his previous question. "I try and she
doesn't seem to get it."
I thought back to the days and weeks following my
arrival here. I'd met Jono through music, and our
shared interest certainly helped to support our
relationship or at least it seemed to. "Is there
something you have in common?" I asked. "Some common
ground you can discuss?"
He appeared to think it over momentarily, vaguely
shaking his head. "Can't think," he replied.
Well, that was certainly an understatement. "Hmm," I
considered. "Just let the conversation flow. Start
with, I don't know, that show you were both watching,
or how bloody awful sick you were ."
Angelo thought about that, apparently decided on
something or another, and stood to leave, pushing the
"Just don't tell her first thing right out about how
you feel," I cautioned. "You want to tell her
eventually, but right away might scare her." And if I
knew Alison, it would certainly scare her.
Angelo nodded and started for the door. "Thanks," he
said as though it were a mere afterthought.
"Welcome," I answered. "Not a problem."
I settled back into place, though just before the
door closed behind him, it occurred to me that he was
Jono's closest friend here and wouldn't he have
something to say about me to his friends? "Wait," I
The door lingered open, and Angelo turned in the
Maybe I shouldn't ask about this. Maybe this was just
a bad idea. What if Jono hadn't said anything? What if
I just made a fool of myself by asking? "Does Jono
ever say anything about me?" I blurted, and
immediately wished I hadn't.
Oh, Light, it had been a stupid question. No he
didn't talk about me, or maybe he did but it wasn't
the sort of thing I'd want to hear, nor was it the
sort of thing Angelo would want to repeat. I seriously
wished I could retract my words and just forget about
it, but I couldn't. "Never mind," I muttered.
Angelo shrugged and left. Great help he was
I sat there for a few minutes more, glanced at the
unfinished homework that I ought to have been doing,
and decided that it wasn't worth my time. The clock on
the wall indicated that it was nearing nine, and if I
wanted to be on time for X-Files then I should get
Across campus, the rec room had been disinfected and
cleared of all potentially germy items (including, to
Alison's horror, her videos), and now the student
population gathered around the television with the
lights off, of course to witness the paranormal
exploits of Mulder and Scully. X-Files was one of the
few shows we all held at least some interest in some
more than others, I noted, glancing at Jubilee and her
fervent fangirlish expression. Perhaps it was because
we could all earn a File of our own certainly
genetic mutants fell under the sign of "X" in more
ways than one, I realized. And some of us, like Monet,
could be creepy even without mutancy.
I apprehensively took a place on the couch beside
Jono this was what was supposed to happen, right? We
were together; I needn't fear rejection.
*Hello,* he said, then as an afterthought, *Missed
I could feel my face flush but smiled in spite of
that. I could feel Paige's glare on me even if she'd
effectively hidden herself in the dim room's shadows.
Jubilee turned around, the light from the TV
backlighting her eerily. "Wouldja quiet down? I don't
care if it's just, like, telepathy, we can still like
hear ya an' stuff. Some of us wanna watch, ya know."
Right of course. I said nothing, as I'd said
nothing before, and hoped that maybe, just maybe this
once Jono wouldn't act so distant. These past few days
had been fun, but it seemed that whenever we weren't
alone he'd just close off from me. That bothered me.
Slightly worried, I glanced to his hand sitting
beside me on the couch, and took it in my own. He
glanced at me briefly, but remained silent, preferring
to let his actions speak as he squeezed my hand
tightly in return.
I knew that anything more than that, with other
people around, would be asking too much. Couldn't we
Probably but I couldn't ask him to come away, not
now and probably not ever.
The commercial break ended, and as the show began in
earnest I found myself caught up in its story. X-Files
was certainly enough to take my mind off the whole
situation, even if he was right beside me. It was
probably the only thing with enough psychological hold
on me to do so; I had been veritably obsessed some few
years ago, and though I was no longer quite so rabid,
I still enjoyed the series immensely. That this
episode was particularly riveting certainly helped.
When it was over, we each disbanded to our separate
tasks except for the two of us, who simply sat there
like a pair of dolts.
Jono stared blankly into the distance.
I wondered what on earth was going through his mind.
I just wanted to be closer physically closer even
this short distance seemed too far. I closed my eyes,
envisioning what that might be like I welcomed the
privacy of my mind sometimes, where he couldn't invade
on my visions sometimes. More often I wished for the
link to come back.
*But it is,* Jono's voice rang through my mind,
reverberating in fuzzy dimness of unused corners of my
I blinked, completely surprised and shocked by
that statement. Back? But how could -- ?
He faced me. *It never left,* he explained.
I felt my eyes instinctively narrow, my eyebrows
furrow. "But you " I began.
*Not exactly,* he interrupted. *Frost wanted me to
I she was worried about you. So she called me in,
asked me if I'd remove it.*
I couldn't believe I word I was hearing. "You lied to
me," I accused darkly. "You lied. You said she didn't
put you up to this. I can't believe this." I felt my
head shaking wobbly on my neck, desperate breaths
coming shortly to my lungs. How could he? How dare he?
*Calm down, Jen please, listen,* he requested, a
steadying hand on my shoulder, trying to keep me in
place, keep me from running.
"I will not calm down," I refused. "You said it was
your choice you were going to do this anyway. You
said," I concluded. "You said."
*It Jen, it was my idea.*
So I had every right to be mad at him. Good. At least
I was justified in my anger. I folded my arms and
turned from him, refusing to look at him.
*I wasn't lying when I said it was about that last
accident. Neither of us can control this. Admit it,
you can't I can't, either.*
I wasn't sure what to feel.
*I did it so you wouldn't be hurt,* he explained
Oh, Light he was appealing to that sensitive side
of me, and he knew I'd fall for it.
Well, I wasn't about to fall for it. "Well, you did,"
I told him. "You did hurt me."
*But I didn't do anything wrong!* he protested. *I
just don't want something awful to happen to you. To
this. To us. Just Jen, please.*
I felt his arms around me, encircling my neck as he
stepped close behind me.
My heart went so fast I thought it was simply
refusing to beat altogether. And my mind followed
suit, refusing to think properly until it began
chanting in endless litany, "This isn't love, this
isn't love, this isn't love ..."
It couldn't be love it was just a crush. An
infatuation. On accounts of both parties involved. It
just couldn't be and yet, that I would even believe
it wasn't only proved that it was.
Wasn't it, after all?
I turned, slowly, in his arms, and wrapped my own
arms around him, holding him so closely and he held
me, as though hanging on for dear life but so afraid
I'd break if he held too hard.
-- this isn't love, this isn't love, this isn't love
the silent voice continued.
--- Alison ---
"Ev?" I knocked on the wooden door hesitantly, hoping
that he somehow wouldn't be there - that he would be
somewhere else, watching TV, studying, reading, doing
anything anywhere but here -
The door opened and Everett's face appeared in its
aperture. "Yeah? Oh, hi Al. Come on in." He opened the
door wider to allow me to enter, even as I desperately
wanted to leave, not entirely sure of myself and not
wanting to have to deal with this...
Despite what was goin on in my head, I walked calmly
into his room and sat on the chair he motioned to,
next to his desk. He closed the door and sat on the
bed, looking at me, his face searching mine for the
reason I had come. We were good enough friends that he
didn't prod as to my reasons - he knew that if I was
going to tell him, I would tell him on my own
eventually. I was so thankful to have a friend like Ev
here - Jen was, of course, my absolute best friend,
and always would be. Nothing could change that, and we
both knew that. And although I could always tell her
anything, this just wasn't something I wanted to
confront her with, exactly. She was too biased; I just
didn't want to tell her this... yet. Ev, on the other
hand, had always been there for me in the same manner,
but somehow, if I was going to talk to anyone about...
this... it was going to be him. He would understand,
he wouldn't take me through the... not exactly
ridicule, just necessary jokes and jibes.... that Jen
would have to, solely through the nature of our
relationship. Don't ask me why - I didn't want to talk
about this with anyone, actually, but somehow here I
was, sitting across from Ev, bracing myself to ask him
I still knew not exactly what.
"Um... Ev, can I ask you something?" I crossed my
ankles, swinging feet that didn't quite reach the
floor, looking at them as they appeared and
disappeared beneath the chair seat.
"Sure, Al. Anything. What's up?" His voice was so
soothing, so ready to accept whatever problem it was I
was about to burden him with. I silently thanked him
in advance for that. I couldn't believe he could still
stand me after all that crap I'd given him so long
ago, just after we'd first gotten here and I couldn't
even figure out what was going on within myself. Well,
he was about to get some more crap, special thanks to
Alison and her totally confusing brain...
"Well... I'm - I'm not sure what exactly I want to...
I mean, I shouldn't even be here... I - um, Angelo?"
Well, that sounded effective. If he could figure out
the method to the madness in those last
ineffectively-strung 20 words, that was.
"Oh," he said. I looked up; he was gazing at me, not
smirking or laughing, just gazing calmly at me. "I
I nodded, hoping I wouldn't actually have to go on,
that he would get the point and explain this all to me
with no further effort - and therefore no further
embarrassment - on my part. Yeah, right. "I... I don't
know what to do."
"Do? Do how?" Great, so he did need more information.
Man, why couldn't he just synch with Jen or Jono or
Emma or somebody and get this directly out of my head
instead of me having to actually form coherent
thoughts, which obviously weren't coming out as such?
"Well... um... I mean, we got along fine before, and
then there was this weekend, and I... and he.... and
I... um...." Well, there was giving him a lot more to
go on. Way to go, girl.
"So you like him?"
Here came the red, heating up my face to a
temperature well beyond 98.6, flushing my skin scarlet
enough to match Penny's. I decided to concentrate on a
spot just in front of his feet, trying to get my mouth
to open in order to answer his question; but not
before I caught sight of him nodding slightly.
"Well," he began; obviously my lack of ability to
answer his question - not to mention to new pallor of
my face - was answer enough for him, and I think I
thanked about twelve different deities for that,
"you're going to have to tell him." No! That was not
what I wanted to hear! I wanted him to explain to me,
calmly and rationally, how to make this go away so I
wouldn't have to deal with it.
Or did I? I didn't want to ponder the consequences
that lay down that unventured road, the one that was
shrouded in fog and had a sign posted in front of it:
POINT OF NO RETURN. But something was tugging at me,
digging for my heart beneath my chest, pulling me,
begging me to disregard that sign. But I couldn't...!
"But... but I..." I sputtered, blinking and looking
up at Everett to see if he was actually sincere. "I
can't...! Ev..." I looked up at him, pleading. "How do
I make it stop?"
He eyed me, confused now. "Stop?" he asked.
I nodded desperately. "Ev, I don't want to feel...
whatever. Remember that whole Jono thing?" Dear Lord,
how could he forget?
He nodded, listening.
"It... doesn't work with me. I'm not that way. That's
how it is. And I don't want to be that way, either. I
want it to stop. Please. Tell me how." There. Now he
knew how horrible this was for me - that this was a
contradiction in every cell of my being, and that it
was going to rip me apart if it continued. I needed it
to stop, before something terrible happened, before I
betrayed my nature in a moment of weakness caused by
that stupid heart of mine that definitely could not be
Ev was silent a moment, and then he spoke."Al, I know
you know this... It's obvious."
WHAT was obvious?! WHAT was I supposed to know? That
it was dumb to feel this way? Or was it obvious how to
stop it? Oh, I wished would just tell me how without
rubbing it in...
Ev smiled a bit, cocking his head ever-so-slightly to
the side, studying me as I squirmed in the desk chair.
It wasn't him that was making me uncomfortable - not
at all. It was my emotions, which were betraying my
trust and fleeing from their hiding place in order to
make my heart race and my vocabulary dead and my
self-image cringe in fear and yet marvel at the
possibilities... No, STOP IT!
"He likes you, you know. You have to see it, and if
by some odd chance you don't, I'm telling you now - he
No, he didn't, why was Ev telling me this, was he -
"It shows in how he acts - he's nicer around you,
he... well, you know - you're there. But he likes you.
And Al -"
"What?" Please tell me how to make it stop, please
tell me you were lying two seconds ago...
"You're human, remember? Didn't we go over this?"
I felt like I was being drilled by a teacher, and
gave him a look that conveyed as much. I didn't mean
to hurt him, but... couldn't he see how this was
"I know you feel as though you're betraying
I nodded fiercely. Yes, that was exactly it, and if I
did then when it all ended - which it most certainly
would (if it ever started, which I prayed it would
not) when Ange realized how dumb it was of him to pick
me of all people to have to go and like - I would wish
it had never happened, and I would rather have it not
happen in the first place and save me all that
"But, " he went on, "you know how you truly feel.
Better than I do, obviously. But if you want to know
what I think, then I'll tell you."
"Sure," I muttered. He already knew the problem now,
might as well hear what he thought before ignoring it
and going off to find some way to make it stop.
"Well, I think that you should talk to him.
Regardless. You two have been acting stragely, and I
know neither of you likes it. We all see it - "
Great, just great...
"- and no matter what, you have something to work
out. And you can sit here and tell me whatever you
want about defying yourself and everything, but Al,
you do like him. I know you do."
But why?! Oh God, just make me Vulcan now, please!
And why did humans have to blush at every Georging
"And he likes you. I think you should do something
with that. Make an exception. But it's up to you, and
I honestly can't tell you what to do, other than sound
like a Disney movie and tell you to trust your heart
over your head sometimes."
I smiled at that, almost laughed. Well, now I was
back where I started, I supposed, not sure what to do,
but armed with advice leaning towards the direction in
which I did not want to go. Life was just too darned
"Sorry I'm not much help," he said, even as I shook
my head, stood to leave. He walked me over to the
door, then stood in the doorway as I exited out into
the hall. He had helped, though in a way I couldn't
quite explain. Just boosted my confidence - into
what?! my mind screamed at me - and perhaps helped fan
the spark into something more. But I was not going to
do that, I assured myself. I'd find some way around it
- I would. My head still screamed at me to put it out,
smother this before it became a forest fire, and I was
going to have to deal with that, or something, but I
still didn't know whether it would be by providing
water or air.
"No, thanks," I said. "Really - thanks."
It was all or nothing, I told myself. And I would
have to decide which. All or nothing, because I could
not go on living with this something in between.
Authors' Notes: A bit of our actual selves has crept
into this particular chapter. Jinxo really *does* love
The Sentinel; if you also like the show she'd be more
than happy to hear from you (we like to think she's
one of the show's two rabid fans, perhaps you could
prove her wrong!) -- and Jen simply *adores* David
Mack's Kabuki; similarly, if you know what she's
talking about and are not already on the Kabuki List,
then do drop her a note. (PS Read Kabuki. It's
awesome. - Jen)