The Kodiak in Winter
A Whateley Academy Story
The Kodiak in Winter
by E.E. Nalley
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
“Come in, Wyatt,” invited Dr. Bellows. “Won’t you sit down?”
Doc Bellows always had a way about him of trying to make folks comfortable. I suppose it loosened up lips that would rather stay shut. There were times I’d have given anything for recordings of what got said in this office. I imagine he probably had to suppress a chuckle or two from some of the head cases that have come through this school. He had coffee ready, and give the doc props, he made good coffee. Of course, he spoiled his with sugar and cream and some kind of hazelnut syrup. Me, I like my coffee like life, give it to me straight up, black, warts and all. “What shall we talk about today?”
“Doc, you ever notice how things repeat?” I asked around my first gulp of his excellent java.
“You mean how history repeats itself to those who don’t study it?”
“No, more like short term history, personal level stuff.”
He turned on the recorder and steepled his fingers to stare at me. “I’m not sure I follow you, Wyatt. Why don’t you tell me what you mean?”
I sighed. This was going to be a long session. “I’ve gotten used to a lot of different emotions since I’d manifested. Mostly they were positive emotions; things that I liked feeling and did so as often as I could. I always liked how I felt around Freya. It was a powerful feeling; a feeling like I was king of the world and everything I touched would turn to gold. I liked the feeling of being the biggest big man on campus, the shark in an ocean of very big fish. It was everything my dad had told me the glory days of high school could be…”
“I had plenty of attention from the ladies. Not as much as people talked about, but my share and a bit more, and no teenage male would ever be upset about having a reputation like I had. I got to fight against people I didn’t have to worry about seriously hurting, but where I could cut loose and really have a good time. That was fun too. I even got to go a few rounds against Champion when he came by my freshman year.”
“As I recall, you lost that fight, but proceed.”
“Champion had some damage to show for it too.”
That had made me a very big man on campus. That a freshman could deliver and take a beating like the fight I’d had with one of the world’s greatest superheroes even had seniors stepping out of my way in the halls. That fall of my freshmen year had been the best time of my short life. But, you know, it’s funny, my luck always seemed to change in the winter. It was in the winter of my freshman year that Wildman had come looking to pad his own reputation.
Wildman was a junior who’d been held back a year. I liked fighting juniors and seniors, when I won, my reputation soared, and even when I lost I got a bump up because I’d fought and walked away. Wildman wasn’t a very good fighter, he depended too much on his regeneration and the mental games he played with his opponent’s emotions, but I thought he was a good punching bag I didn’t have to worry about hurting. The problem came when the fight was over, Wildman was beaten, but he wouldn’t stay down. Normally, I like tenacity in an opponent; after all, if your heart wasn’t in the fight, what was the point? But the third time I put Tony down, it was with a broken arm and leg.
Sure, they were healing as everybody watched, but that didn’t change the fact that the fight was over. It was like in those dopey Star Wars movies, when you hurt someone bad enough, the fight stops. For them, it was cut off a limb, for this, it was broken bones. Unfortunately for Tony, it was then that he made the worst mistake of his life.
“Where are you going, you little punk? You running home to mama?”
“You’re beaten, Tony. Come see me after you learn some moves.”
“Before or after you suck on your bitch’s tit, mama’s boy?” He directed his empathic power directly at me and starting talking about my mother. Normally, the spirit of the Kodiak protected me from mental attacks, in addition to my own extremely high Exemplar status, however Wildman’s power wasn’t exactly mental, there was a pheromone element to it. I smelled something that didn’t really have a smell, you know? He just kept going on and on and I got so angry.
I still don’t really remember most of it; just this red haze and a wet feeling against my fists. I remember Pendragon pulling me off. Art, he’s no coward, and considering that rage I was in, it was probably the bravest thing anybody’s done on this campus in a while.
“It may interest you to know everyone who saw it still has nightmares about that fight.”
“I ain’t proud of that. If I could take it back, I would.”
“That’s old news, Wyatt, you don’t have to defend yourself again.”
I won’t ever forget looking around Art’s headlock at the paramedics working on Tony. Wildman’s head was a sack of skin full of broken skull and brain mush. He hadn’t died, but there were plenty who felt it would have been kinder if he had. It had taken the better part of a month for his regeneration to heal the damage, and when it did, they found the mind of an infant in the body of a seventeen year old. I had damaged Tony’s brain so severely that the regeneration hadn’t repaired his brain, but grown a completely new and blank one. It was the fact that Tony hadn’t technically died that kept me from being expelled. It did give me an ultra-violent armband for the rest of the year.
Then no one wanted to fight me; not in the simulator, not in the sparing ring, no one and no where. It had made for a lonely end to my freshman year, and while I didn’t know it at the time, it had gotten me noticed by a sophomore named Freya.
That summer had been hard as well. When I’d tried to bring up the difficulties I’d faced with my dad, I found him uninterested in helping me deal with the guilt of what I’d done to the other boy. The only thing he was interested in was reliving his own glory days through me. You have no idea how creepy it is for your own father to want to hear about your ‘conquests’. I had tried to turn to mom, but how do you tell your mother you practically beat someone to death with your bare hands? For her part, despite the pressures of her practice, Mom still tried to help me, and she worried about what it was that I was keeping from her. But the summer was too short in Alaska and being one of only three chiropractors that worked in Barrow, Dr. Katherine Cody’s time is in much demand by the roughnecks and hard working oilmen that worked the frigid north shore.
“Still, she was able to send email and began to correspond with me. Of course my ethics wouldn’t allow me to disclose what we discuss here, but I did promise to take an interest in you during your sophomore year.”
So the fall returned and once more I was back at Whateley Academy. Or at least as far as the train station in Dunwich. That’s when Freya and her sick little right arm Songbird came after me.
“You’re Wyatt Cody,” the voice behind me had said. There is a odd reverberation to it that a lot of sirens have when they use their power, mostly when they’re saying two things at once, one the words you hear. the other the command they’re trying to plant in your subconscious. I felt Kodiak rise up in me to protect my mind so I turned to see who was risking their life trying to mindfuck me.
“That’s what it says on my ass kicking license,” I said as I turned. Now, I swear, you’d think you get used to the girls on this campus, that being around that level of just raw hotness will make you a little jaded, but it’s not so. I turned and I got hit full force by Freya’s Brisengamen Effect and the fact that I was sixteen with enough hormones for three normal kids and in front of me were these two smoking hot, stone cold babes. While Kodiak protected me from most of the Brisengamen Effect, what got through made sure I’d have trouble walking for the rest of the day. Still, I did have a little self control left, so I demanded, in what I desperately hoped was a gruff and macho voice, “What can I do for you two ladies?”
“How charming,” Freya replied as she turned up the juice on her smile and her power trying to take me. “Every bit the Casanova. Why, you’ll make Maria and me swoon, Mr. Cody.”
Kodiak ‘spiritually’ bit me on the ear. Hurt like…well, you can imagine what being bitten on the ear by a bear would feel like, but at least it got me thinking with the right head. “Fear not, ladies, should one of you be overcome by my manliness, I’m here to catch you when you faint.”
Songbird looked like she’d rather chew broken glass than be ‘saved’ by me, but Freya always had a quirky sense of humor. Some would probably say sadistic, but at least her smile was a bit more genuine now. “Actually Wyatt, can I call you Wyatt?”
“You can call me collect if you want,” I replied. I had no idea what they wanted, but I’m man enough to admit that I desperately hoped it had something to do with getting one or the both of them in the sack.
Freya just smiled wider and poured on the charm. “Wyatt, as you know, a group of friends of mine hang together in Melville and some of the other cottages. We call ourselves the Alphas and there’s a place for you there. We’ve always thought it wasn’t fair that you got stamped with a UV arm band over defending yourself from that idiot Wildman last year. We’re quite close with Mrs. Hartford and I’m sure that’s an embarrassment you won’t have to suffer this year.”
“That’s very kind of you.”
She smiled again and man, I knew if the sun ever goes out in our lifetime, all we’d have to do is hang Freya in the sky and her smile would keep us all warm. “Do stop by the pledge party so we can rush you and make things formal. It’s tomorrow.”
I nodded in what I hoped was a noncommittal way. “I’ll think about it.”
“Be there,” intoned Songbird. “You don’t want to disappoint Freya.”
Oh, I was going to be there, between fantasizing about Freya in some party dress and the never mind how remote chance of getting her out of it, there was no way I wasn’t going to be. I wouldn’t figure out for years that it was Freya who’d sent Wildman out to start something with me last year. Or that it had been a triple play on her part, getting rid of Wildman from the Alpha’s, making sure I was what was advertised on the tin, and a bone Freya was throwing to this devisor kid Keystone who Wildman had roughed up on his own time. Give the devil her due, doc, everything Frieda did turned two and three and four times like that. Bitch had the whole school wrapped around her little finger.
That was something Donny boy could never wrap his head around, why Freya tolerated the techies. I guess Freya never had one of them make something for him. Me, I got a closet full of toys the techies made over the years, and a notch or two from some of the prettier ones. Anyway the party was just like Freya had said; all formality.
I was kind of astonished how fast I rose in Freya’s organization. I’m not dense, I knew she was using me, but hey, I was using her back just as much. It wasn’t like it was hard work. Whenever someone caught her eye and she wanted them ‘persuaded’ one way or the other, she sent me and Songbird. If the siren couldn’t change their mind, well, nobody wanted to go ten rounds with me after Wildman.
He sighed and reached for his pen and pad to take notes. “I’m disappointed, Wyatt, I had thought that the strides you had made in your sophomore year…”
“Doc, they were,” I interrupted. “I didn’t want to have anything like Wildman happen again. So, what’s the best way to make sure there are no fights in the pack? Be Alpha male, right?”
Dr. Bellows snorted as he removed his pipe from its dish and put it into his mouth without lighting it. “That, my dear Mr. Cody, is one of the most spurious chains of logic I’ve heard in a while in this office.”
I spread my hands in a broad gesture. “Doc, since when is the American teenager at all logical?”
“Point, Mr. Cody, continue.”
The rest of the year Freya had Songbird and me making sure of her place next year. She already was Alpha in everything but name, it didn’t matter what Epoch and Archangel said or did, Freya had taken over the Alphas and she was in charge. Songbird and I said so and that’s all there was to say. Naturally that was never enough for somebody like Frieda. She was going to be Alpha Female next year, the crown jewel in her reign at Whateley.
Things really were turning around it seemed like. All the crap I’d had to endure the year before was gone. Sure enough, the UV Armband was off and stayed off. Freya made sure I made the acquaintance of a small, but memorable collection of young ladies. I was placed as a team leader on Team Phoenix and I finally got to mix things up a bit safer.
I should have known it was too good to last.
“That’s the way things usually work, Wyatt,” Dr. Bellows intoned. “That summer, that was the incident with Humanity First, wasn’t it?
“Yeah, not that it spoiled anything.” That summer, oh, man, Doc, what a summer that was! Mom had arranged for one of her class mates from Medical School to come up and cover for her that wanted a real Alaskan Adventure. We took the family plane down to Anchorage, rented a Winnebago, and we did the forty nine state thing.
“Your father doesn’t work?”
“He spent most of the money he saved from his three seasons with the Raiders on this heavy equipment dealership in Barrow. He’s got contracts with Halliburton and Chadux Drilling to be their sole supplier on the North Shore, but it’s not like he works or anything. Mom’s the one doing the living now, he just lives in the past when he’s not trying to live through me.”
“Interesting,” the Doctor observed around his pipe.
Despite everything that was a great summer. Dad spent most of it in a bottle of Budweiser, but Mom and I, we really got to bond. We stayed up all hours driving through the night, keeping each other awake, swapping stories, just, you know, family stuff. The H1 thing happened in New York. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a country Bby and I’ll never be at home in a city, but there’s just something dirty about that town. I didn’t say anything because Mom had always wanted to shop on 5th Avenue and see a real play on Broadway.
Well, the play was ok, but then I never got the whole play thing. I guess it’s like when the film geeks go on about live TV or something. For the price Mom paid for those tickets, you would think there wouldn’t be any line flubbing, but that wasn’t so. But hey, it was Mom’s dream and I was happy to sit through it for her. She had a good time, and that’s what mattered.
It was the next day that it happened. The Midtown Meltdown or whatever they’re calling it these days. Too old to be current events and too new to be history and if it didn’t concern me directly I wouldn’t have cared. I know what you’re thinking, Doc, I know that look, if I didn’t care so much why did I get involved? I didn’t give a damn about the Humanity First bigots, dealt with my share of them back home. There were twenty or thirty of them, a double handful of American Nazi Party brownshirts and an assortment of other fruit cakes looking for a straight jacket and a one way trip to the loony bin in my book.
Hel…heck, let ‘em shout I say. Whenever they open their mouths they prove what kind of idiots they are. If they’d restricted themselves to making jackasses out of themselves and shouting, I wouldn’t have got involved. Me, I think the founding fathers had such a boner for free speech so that the village idiot would open his mouth and let everybody know who he was.
No, I wouldn’t have cared if they hadn’t been picking on a mother and her kid.
She was a GSD case, mostly reptile you know? I don’t know if the kid was hers or if she was just baby sitting, didn’t matter to me; a real man doesn’t rough up a woman. I could tell she was scared, trying to ignore the crowd and find some way out. But they smelled blood.
When I decided I was going to do something I turned to Mom. She was worried, but when she saw my eyes, she knew I was going to get involved, that’s the first time I saw real fear in her face. “Go call the cops,” I told her, inclining my head towards the store. “From in there and you don’t come out until the cops are here.”
Not sure why she didn’t argue with me. Usually Mom was always warning me about hurting myself and over doing it. She’s a doctor so I guess it comes natural. This time she just opened the door to the shop we’d been window shopping and in she goes. I crossed the street and got as loose as I could on the way. There were about five people between me and the ring leader, the ones that didn’t get out of my way on their own didn’t slow me down. Then I got a hand on the loud mouths shoulder and brought him up to eye level for our chat. “Why don’t you leave the lady alone before I have to do something permanent to your face?”
For my very first superhero fight line, it wasn’t the greatest. Didn’t exactly have the effect I wanted, either. But at least they left the girl alone, but just about instantly I had fifteen guys on me. Clubs, fists, bottles, two knives I think, none of it did much, but I’ll be honest, I was thinking about Wildman and how these wastes of skin were a lot more fragile than he was. So I started giving out broken bones, trying to stick to the extremities. It usually took the fight out of ‘em, but it was a pretty big mob. By the time the cops got there, twenty of the worst hadn’t managed to get away. The girl and her mom were long gone. If my mom hadn’t had a camera in her phone I’d probably be doing time.
“Overnight at least,” Bellows said calmly. “We would have interceded on your behalf had it been necessary, however we were quite proud of how you handled the situation. It may interest you to know we’ve made the incident a training simulation, however most don’t choose your direct approach.”
I shrugged with a grin. “It’s tough being a trendsetter.”
“Evidently your mother thought so,” the psychologist observed softly.
“Yeah, Mom took that pretty hard. I don’t think she really ‘got’ what a mutant really was until then.” We were hours dealing with the cops and the paramedics. Mom helped out, but I’d waded into a genuine riot, put down 7/10ths of them, and the worst I had to show for it was a couple of bruises and split knuckles. I hated the way she looked at me, doc, like she was afraid of me, of what I could do.
The trip was kind of muted after that. Dad drank a lot, big surprise there, and Mom, well, we didn’t talk as much the rest of the trip. I like to think it was just that she was getting road weary, but I think once she dropped me off at school she couldn’t wait to turn in the RV and get back home. So here I was, a big bad junior and this was supposed to be the year before my year, right? I made friends with one of Freya’s new ‘acquisitions’ Arnold Harvey and for a Superman clone, the kid’s got a pretty devious mind.
Still, as direct as I am, just about anybody seems devious in comparison. Anyway, Arn and I hit it off in kind of a big way. We’re both country boys, but neither of us want to hang with those redneck idiots Bronco and Silo or those bigger idiots the Good Ol’ Boyz. “It was Arn that first started cluing me in on just how fu… uh, much of a freak Freya was…”
“Continue,” Dr. Bellows commented while rolling his eyes. “And I appreciate your efforts to clean up your language, Cody.”
“Yeah, well, you’re welcome, Doc.” I knew Freya was, well whatever you called it, but I guess I had to see it myself before I realized how bad things had gotten. How bad I’d helped things get. When I first met her, I would never have admitted I’d be as… obsessed for lack of a better word, with her as I have this year. As a freshman, Elaine Nalley wasn’t much to look at. I mean, she was really strangely tall and I guess being as thin as she was, bean pole kind of came to mind.
Must be tough to be a girl here if you can’t measure up to the exemplars.
“You have no idea,” the Doctor admitted around his pipe, patting a stack of folder’s on his desk. “I’ve had some interesting conversations.”
Like I said, she was really tall, but otherwise I wouldn’t have given her a second look if what happened hadn’t happened. We were at the drink bar at the Crystal Hall, Freya, Songbird and I. We’d just gotten lunch, and I was waiting to use the fountain. Elaine was just finishing up getting a glass of sweet tea, and like most techie freshman, she was running around in that stupid looking lab coat.
I told her, “You don’t want to wear that.”
She was startled that I’d spoken to her, based on the doe-eyed stare she came up at me with. “Ah, what?” she drawled. Give the girl her props, between those unnaturally green eyes under that scarlet mop of hair and her voice.
“Man, doc, I could listen to her just talk all day.”
“Redheads with green eyes are actually one of the most rare genetic combinations,” Bellows replied. “That usually makes them striking and memorable.”
“I said you don’t want to wear that,” I told her again as I reached out and gave the lab coat a tug. “People will think you’re a nerd or something.”
I guess I must have embarrassed her. She turned on her heel and was going to dart, but unfortunately Freya had come up behind her. Nothing I could do in time so the two of them collided, and in seconds Freya was wearing Elaine’s sweet tea. “I’m anointed…!” Freya laughed as Elaine just gushed apologies for the accident.
Of course, I knew the look on Freya’s face by now, and I knew the claws on her cat-like sense of humor were about to come out. Then something happened that neither of us expected. Elaine reached out and took Freya’s hand. “Your ring!” she exclaimed. Freya let Loophole bring up her hand and that ridiculous diamond ring that Sebastiano had given her. The supposed four carat ‘diamond’ was sweating and seemed to be having trouble holding its shape. Elaine rubbed it between her finger and thumb, causing it to collapse into a wad of paste.
“This was a long chain polymer resin,” she said after a long moment. “It must have reacted with the tannic acid in mah tea. Ah’m so sorry, Ah hope it doesn’t have a lot of sentimental value. Ah can make you another one…?”
Instantly Freya’s demeanor changed. No matter how many times I’d seen it happen, it was always a little creepy to watch. “I didn’t know it wasn’t real,” she said. “You can determine if something is real or not? Is that your power?”
“Ah don’t have a power, really,” she replied. “Ah understand systems is all and Ah do all right with machines Ah guess. Oh your blouse, you should get it to the wash or that stain will set.”
“It’s just a shirt, darling,” Freya purred. “I can’t tell you how much I am glad of this service you’ve done me. My name is Friedeslinge, but people call me Freya. What’s your name?”
She paled at hearing the name so someone must have warned her. “Elaine…” the redhead stammered. “Elaine Nalley. Ah’m so sorry…”
“Nonsense!” Freya pronounced and a wave of the Brisengamen Effect blasted out of her. Most of it was focused on Elaine, but there was plenty to go around. “Not another word, darling. Now, my friends are having a party this weekend at our dorm. Why don’t you come by? Kodiak, see that Elaine is on the guest list, won’t you?”
“Really?” she murmured, all but stoned by the Effect.
Freya turned it up a notch. “Of course. Someone of your talents and skills has a place with us! Now, don’t let your lunch get cold.” Elaine stumbled off without bothering to refill her tea.
“Odd, I grant you, but it was happened next that started me believing some of the stuff that Arn had been trying to tell me.”
“What was that?” asked the Doctor.
Songbird leaned in close to Freya. When she was really deep in her plotting the two of them would sometimes forget I was there. “I want her,” Songbird whispered in a way that told me what ever she wanted Elaine for, Elaine wouldn’t like.
“So long as she’s not permanently damaged you can have her,” Freya replied, watching the red head depart. “But I have uses for Miss Nalley so I don’t want her spoiled, you understand?”
“Kodiak? Sebastiano has lied to me, see that he’s punished.”
They say every cloud has a silver lining and, yeah, that was the up side in that particular cloud.
“You like hurting people, Cody?”
“Naw, naw it’s not like that all doc. But some folks have a plate of crap coming to ‘em, and I got no problem being the waiter. Especially not for somebody that has a honeywagon’s worth coming to him like Sebastiano.”
“So, what did you do?”
“I passed paranormal law,” the senior shot back. “So I won’t be committing spontaneous utterance of guilt to my ‘shrink’ whose relationship to me has never been formalized and might not withstand a privilege challenge.”
“So you did, continue.”
Loophole became one of Freya’s favorite tech heads. For her part, I guess Elaine had never been popular before because she ate it up with a spoon. Of course between me and Songbird, Freya had made it clear Loophole wasn’t to be messed with. After Christmas break, I had more important things to worry about.
“Cavalier and Skybolt,” Bellows guessed.
There are times my head is heavier than others and this was probably the worst of my life. I let a good man down. Sebastiano lorded it on the QT that he’d done it. Of course when you teachers looked into it he could say ‘not me’ and pass a lie detector. But what woke me up was Freya’s reaction. I asked her, “What are we going to do about this?”
I’m not afraid of much, but the look she gave me still gives me nightmares. It wasn’t conniving, it wasn’t hand wringing eeeevvvvviiiiiiilllllll, no, and that stuff I could wrap my head around and fight. The world is full of evil people, what’s one more with superpowers? No, what got my attention was that she thought it was funny. “Why should we do anything?” she laughed. “One man has conquered his rival, isn’t that something primal like you’re always going on about, Cody?”
“Cav is a good man, a hard fighter, nobody knuckles under like that!”
She laughed, laughed again. “Evidently not.”
Winter and my luck had turned again. I had no idea if Sebastiano could follow through on his threats about my mind and putting me in my place. The Kodiak had been able to protect me up till then and my avatar was pretty confident he could still, despite what mental trick Donny might have picked up. Neither of us liked being penned up like we were for the rest of the year.
I took a long, hard look at the ass I’d become and how I’d gotten here. My room mate Pendragon practically didn’t speak to me the rest of the year. I didn’t have many friends, and I was lucky that Arn was one of them. Arn was working overtime trying to figure out what had happened to Cav and Sky. They’d gone home for Christmas and were in France, and Arn was able to account for the fact that the Don was in Puerto Cabella the whole vacation. We couldn’t put him near Cav and Sky except for maybe thirty minutes at JFK that their planes all overlapped on the way back here.
We totally missed the fact that Hekate had an entire day in Paris before she went on to Greece.
“Hindsight is always 20/20, Cody.” Bellows remarked in sympathy. “Even the faculty was fooled.”
“Does that help you sleep at night, Doc?”
“No, son, it doesn’t.”
“How are they doing, anyway?”
“They’re healing,” Bellows admitted finally. “Beyond that I really can’t say. Their relationship with me has been formalized.” He sighed and gestured with his pipe.
“Where was I?” Oh yeah, winter. Between Cav and Sky and what Arn had been telling me, I figured I’d opened up a pretty serious can of worms. Still, even after Snapshot killed himself, I wasn’t acting. Give Elaine her props, when she found out about Snapshot she came tearing into our common room mad enough to chew barbed wire and spit nails. “Freya!” she screamed as she entered, “You bitch, you set me up!”
Icer, that little punk, decided to rush her. It was a clumsy, half-assed attempt too. I’d never seen Elaine fight before, and the ease with which she sidestepped Icer’s grab and used that baton of hers to make him need a trip to the dentist was a thing of beauty. I didn’t think she was that much in the hand-to-hand department, but I saw I needed to rethink a lot of assumptions I held.
Freya, as always, was as cool as Icer should have been. “Leave us,” she commanded, like she stared down enraged women every day. “Take Matthew with you. Elaine and I have a lot to discuss.”
Of course, Sebastiano was still smarting from that ring fiasco, and the fact that Freya called his ‘mind slave’ bluff and he’d folded like a busted flush. It didn’t surprise me he was looking for every opportunity to get back in her good graces. “Freya…” started Sebastiano, but he was waved to silence.
In spite of Loophole just knocking a boy twice her weight out, Freya was laughing. “Don’t beg, Lorenz,” Freya ordered him with a chuckle. “It’s undignified.”
The Don considered that for a moment before deciding to reduce his losses and left with the others. Surprisingly, Freya gave me the nod to leave too, so I collected up Icer and his missing incisor. I didn’t know who’d be alive come the end of this chat, but my money was on the freshman.
Our floor’s kitchen sink brought Icer back to consciousness, where upon he started howling like an infant. “I’m gonna kill that bitch!” he mumbled through the towel he was using to try and staunch the blood streaming from his mouth.
“If I were you, sport, I’d head to Doyle Medical to see if they can save your pretty girly smile,” I told him as I tossed the tooth into the sink with a clink. “Loopy is obviously out of your league.”
“What are you gonna do about it?” he snarled.
“Watch her kick your ass,” I told him with a laugh. “Again.”
I walked back out of the kitchen and I bumped into Elaine coming the other way. Her shoulders were slumped and there was such a hang dog look about her, I realized that yet again, Freya had come out on top. “Hey Red, why so down?”
“Ah got a boy killed,” she whispered.
“Snapshot? Nonsense, girl, he…”
“Ah made that gun, Kodiak!” she snarled at me, flinging an arm back down the way. “She fucked with his mind, she just bragged about it! Ah’m done! Ya’ll can go to blazes! Ah…”
“Whoa, hold on there, Red! She told you…”
“Oh of course not, you big ape!” she snapped. “You know her better than that!” The hallway was a little public for the conversation I wanted to have with her, so I led the way to my dorm room which wasn’t that far. Art was out, so that made things even easier.
“Things are gonna change next year,” I promised her.
“Ah’m supposed to believe you are gonna change them?”
“Redneck’s honor! You think I like being a part of what’s being going on? I didn’t want to believe it myself, until Aries started telling me. Between the three of us…”
She sighed and shook her head. “Ah don’t know, Cody. Ah don’t know anything any more. A boy is dead, and… and…” She was on the edge of tears so I gave her friendly hug to try and help her calm down. Then something happened I wasn’t expecting.
Somehow, The Kodiak joined my mind and hers. I saw blank spots in her memory over and over again, always centered around Songbird’s room. Kodiak raked the block with his claws and suddenly we both remembered.
After a long silence, Dr Bellows took the pipe from his mouth, “Remembered what, Wyatt?”
“I don’t know that I should really tell you that, Doc. Hell, I hadn’t meant to bring it up!” I shot to my feet and started pacing. “What is it about this office? Is there some kind of spell or something that makes people just start spilling their guts to you? Is this your mutant power?”
“No,” he said quickly. “Nor if I had such a power would I ever use it on you or anyone else without your explicit agreement!”
“My experience with projective mentalists says otherwise, Doc. From where I sit, once they get an opening to fuck you, they unzip the old mental fly!”
“Wyatt, calm down,” he implored me. Don’t look so surprised, I know a couple of multi-syllable words. I’ve even been known to use them every now and then. “Tell me what it was you saw.”
“Songbird used her power on Elaine, made her… do things…”
Dr. Bellows’ mouth was very dry. “What… kind of things, Wyatt?”
I thought long and hard about not answering, really I did. Just on the principal of it all. I sometimes wish that Kodiak hadn’t made me aware of it. Nobody deserves to have their dirty laundry aired without their consent. But, there was a part of me that also knew Dr. Bellows was really just trying to help. I get the feeling the staff is getting really antsy about all the stuff that’s been going on under their noses and now they’re getting bent out of shape about it. Better late than never, I guess. “Sexual things,” I finally told him.
“Maria raped Elaine? Is that what you’re telling me, Wyatt?”
“Look doc, The Kodiak made me aware of this so I could help her. Because he could undo the mental blocks Songbird had put on what she’d done to Elaine.”
“I want to help her, too, Wyatt! It’s why I’m here.”
“Ok, fine, whatever else you want to know, you get from her. I didn’t tell you this. Besides, Songbird is long gone, there’s nothing…”
“We’re well inside the statute of limitations…”
“NO,” I ordered him. “If you’re just going to drag her through the muck, just forget I told you. Elaine is over what happened, and she got her own revenge. Let that be enough.” He sighed and put the unlit pipe back in his mouth.
“I’ll speak with her and provide a sympathetic ear. If she wants to tell me, she can. Otherwise I know nothing as the German sergeant used to say.”
“Thanks, doc.” He obviously wasn’t happy about the compromise, but I knew he’d stick with it. “As you can imagine, Elaine was pretty shook up about finding out she’d been repeatedly raped over the last year and then adroitly ordered to forget it happened.”
Shook up? Basketcase was more like it. Not that I wouldn’t be if that had happened to me. But one of those fancy titles The Kodiak used once was Court Healer. I haven’t merged fully with the furry so-and-so to that level very often, but when we do it’s usually really intense. That time was no exception. Somehow, The Kodiak walked her mentally down this road about what had happened, showed her that it wasn’t her fault, gave her the strength to rise above it, and somehow make what happened her own.
It was way after curfew by the time Ol’ Baloo got finished. She fell asleep in my arms some time during our romp through her memories and, I have to say, it took a lot out of me too. I remember thinking I had to figure some way of sneaking her back into her dorm, and then it’s morning.
“I’m sure however you managed to keep Miss Nalley’s honor intact and detention free was very interesting,” Bellows drawled. “As sure as I am you’re not going to tell me about it.”
“Unimportant details,” I assured him. “I had a little ‘chat’ with Maria about keeping her partners consensual. Freya wasn’t happy about it, but it wasn’t important enough to deal with by that time. We were only days from graduation and…wait, that’s it.”
Dr. Bellows blinked. “I don’t follow you son, what’s it?”
I stood and polished off my coffee. “Sorry doc, I got somebody to see before curfew. Thanks for the joe.”
“Anytime,” he chuckled shaking his head. And, if I was a little abrupt, I had to be; had to strike while the iron was hot. Of course, normally when I needed something magical, I’d look in house first, problem was, the in house Alpha mages had been responsible for this particular pickle and I wasn’t about to make things worse.
Still, you couldn’t live in Melville and not have heard Hekate rail about the girl who was my next appointment. Jealousy is an ugly thing and for Hekate, this was naked, fetid jealousy. And since that sick little bitch only cared about power, that had to mean the person I was going to see had scads of it. Just the thing for what I had in mind. So, despite the disapproving stares of Mrs. Horton and some of the other Poesie head cases, I made my way to the room and knocked on the door.
It was the black girl who opened it, the room mate, and you didn’t need to be a mind reader to know she wasn’t happy about seeing me. “What do you want?” she snarled.
“Not you,” I told her with a chuckle. “Sheath the claws, Chandler, I’m here to talk to your roomie.”
Fey had been at her desk, now behind the door, studying one presumed, and now came out and around. For a moment, there was a nervous little freshman there, then her spine straightened and her chin rose and you could tell somebody else was in the mental driver’s seat. “It’s all right,” she announced. “The Kodiak and I have some catching up to do. Won’t you come in?”
“It would be easy for me to let the old bear out,” I told her through the gritted teeth of keeping the Bear in his cage. “Let him and her mightiness sort things out. But this is my fuck up. I have to make it right, not him, so if you don’t mind, I’d like to talk with Nikki Reilly about two friends that I have to help.”
For one of those long moments, I didn’t think madam unpronounceable was going to let go. And man was the Kodiak yelling at me for being a disrespectful snot. Yeah, I get that a lot, so nothing new. But, finally, the timid little freshman was back, obviously worried what I wanted with her, and, likely what about me was connected with her avatar. “What is this about?” she asked finally.
“Cavalier and Skybolt.”
“Aunghadhail can’t help them, I’ve already tried.”
“I know she can’t,” I told her. “I can, he can, but for that I… we… need your help.”
Elaine rolled her eyes and twirled her finger in the chest hair of the big Alaskan she was using as a pillow. “All of that, because Ah asked if you knew anything about why Dr. Bellows might want to see me?” she asked drolly.
Cody grinned as he ran a hand through her long scarlet hair. “I told you I’d always tell you the truth, not much good if it’s not the whole truth and nothing but the truth, right?”
“Is that a lawyer joke?” she snapped.
“I plead the fifth,” he replied with a grin.
“So, is she going to help you?”
He nodded thoughtfully, his eyes distant and on the coming challenge. “We go to ARC tomorrow. I don’t know if I can heal them both, but I know I have to try. It’s time for Jean-Michel and Elaine to come home.”