My eyes snapped open at about a half-hour past when I had wanted to be awake. ‘Oh well.. that’s as close as I’ve ever gotten to actually waking up when I wanted to…’
I hauled myself out of the bed and ran a wet comb through my hair. I tried to tamp it down enough so it wouldn’t attract stray magical attacks because it looked like some sort of creature- then again, last guy who tried that ended up with a permanently seared part of their bodies.
I did all the things a usual guy might do in getting ready for a hot party- I shaved, applied aftershave. I then cursed the maker of the aftershave for making it with the scent of burning pitch. I spritzed some cologne on, and tried to get my uniform jacket to look halfway decent. I then hauled myself out of the room and started walking down to the building’s lobby/reception/party area.
“Hey, Red’s finally here!” I look down and see Alex’s face grinning up at me from the bottom of the stairwell.
“So, any excitement yet? Or did the life of the party just arrive?” I cracked a smile.
“Well, Sarah arrived and I let her in again… I don’t know why, but I just did.”
“She talked to me about it…. She thinks you’re scared of her.”
“Don’t get any ideas, Red. I may be brave, but I’m not going to insult the first person to master that move.”
“If you mean that Wind-tech that could give your North Wind a run for its money, I believe you.”
The soft ‘click’ of a pair of feet landing gently behind me attracted my attention.
“You came. Too bad on my part.”
I turned around and came face-to-face with Blazer.
“Wh-whoa…. Sorry I didn’t escort you from your dorm room, my alarm went off late again….but why ‘too bad on my part’?”
Blazer laughed. “Because I had a bet you wouldn’t get here until it was just about over- twenty dollars to your sister.”
I fish in my pocket and pull out an old, wrinkled twenty that no shopkeeper in their right mind would ever consider taking. “Here, give her this, and tell her the two of you are even now.”
Blazer let a little laugh escape her lips. “You two are a laugh riot when you’re together.”
She walked off- presumably to pay her wager- and I wandered over by the drink table. I picked up a can of beer and managed to finish off four cans by the time Blazer found me again.
“There you are. Come on, I want to dance.”
She grabbed my hand and pulled me away toward the middle of the room, where several couples already were dancing their hearts out.
I flared my power somewhat to burn some of the alcohol from my system- hey, being a Fire-type does have its perks- and immediately tried to dance. (I say ‘tried’ because any other way to describe it would be to go find a picture of a cow on roller skates.)
“You know, you’re much different than Flare at one of these events.”
I look up. Blazer has her feet and her body moving to the music, and her body has my mind going crazy. “What do you mean? Besides the fact that I actually know what ‘relax’ means, and the fact I’m not four hundred pounds of solid immovable muscle-“
She laughed a bit, then looked me in the eyes. “No, what I mean is you’re actually fun to be around. You don’t spend your time at a party hovering around your date- hell, you even arrive later than your date. That means you actually trust me- which I like.”
I blush a little bit. “Actually, it means I have to ask Sarah to loan me ten bucks for a new alarm clock- last one I had I tossed at the intruder who tried to make off with my perfectly-working vintage artifact Playstation.”
Blazer let a grin creep onto her face. “Relaxed. I like guys who can relax. You don’t worry over everything that happens- even if another guy tries to hit on me.”
“Hit on you I don’t mind, lay a hand on you when you tell them not to- that’ll earn them a Flame to the seat of the pants, or if Alex catches them, ‘eternal ice cubes’.”
“Why didn’t I notice this sooner? When I came to the academy two years ago….”
“Two years ago I weighed almost three hundred pounds- not all muscle. It took me all that time to shed about seventy-five pounds and get my muscle power up.”
Blazer shook her head. “I remember something you told me after I turned you down flat for a date when you were like that.”
“You looked about ready to go jump off a cliff- but then you looked me in the eye and said:
‘Sometimes you have to go by more than looks. The better-looking guys are more apt to cheat on you.’
That cut me right to the bone- and I remember telling my friend before she went out for a date with the best-looking guy in her age range. She scoffed at me, but when she came crying back to my room thirty minutes later, she told me she had found him with another woman- Instructor Miaka, no less.”
I almost bust a gut when I heard this- mentally, of course. “You’re joking.”
“Nope- but the student newspaper got a picture of the two of them and we never saw the student again. Everyone knew Miaka had pulled some strings, but the administration came out with that hot new training center after that, and-“
“Huh. Well, go figure. Anyways… what’s your story, Jaclyn? Why did you come to the academy? “
She looked around at all the people at the party and shook her head. “No- at least not here. Do you want to go back to your room in the dorm?”
I shook my head ‘yes’. ‘All right, genius, let the big head keep the majority of your thoughts. You use the other one later, if she lets you. Remember what happened to the last guy who tried to force her… he didn’t come down for three days.’
I opened the door for her and let her step in. I followed, closing the door behind me. I cleared off some old pizza boxes from the bed and let her sit down there while I sat in an old La-Z-Boy I picked up for torching some guy’s brush pile when he needed it- he wanted to burn a perfectly good chair, I told him I’d light it if I could have the chair, and here we are.
Jaclyn bounced up and down on the bed a few times, and then settled down, turning your head to me.
“You wanted to know how I came to be here, right? Then it’s best to start at the beginning….”
“I was born not far from you- except under what one would call VERY different circumstances. I was born to a family from another country- I believe it was Norway- and we were here on vacation. Mom went into labor in the middle of a tour, and, well, there I was.”
I chuckled a bit. “Sounds just like you. You didn’t want to wait until the hospital, you decided you wanted to come into the world right then.”
“Anyway… I went home with my parents and lived a fairly uneventful life- until about two years ago.”
She looked down at the floor. “I’ve never told you my last name, have I?”
I shook my head. “No,” I said, not sure where she was going.
She took a deep breath. “My full name is Jacqueline Katrea DeRyshiana.”
“Wha- you mean- th-“
She shook her head ‘yes’. “Yes…. The President of the Republic of Northern Europe- happens to be my father. Surprised?”
“Well, at least you didn’t drop an anvil on my foot, but still….”
“Well, you remember reading about the revolt that was put down in the Republic?”
“Yeah. They wanted to remove and execute your family by the reports, but it never happened because a windstorm fired up the night of their attack and blasted their headquarters in the northern forest into kindling.” Something dawned on me at that second.
I looked over at Jaclyn and she nodded.
“First manifestation of Mindforce power- is always the most destructive.”
I shut my mouth and we were silent for a few minutes. Then Jaclyn spoke up.
“Well, as much as I don’t want the night to end, I have a friend coming from the Republic to visit me here tomorrow, and I need to get some rest if I’m going to meet her at the airport at nine in the morning.”
“Well, all good things have to come to an end sometime- it was actually kind of fun.”
“It’s going to be another cold night up here- you going to be all right?”
“Yeah- I have my blankets, I have my heater, and if I need more hot air, I’ll just turn on the television and tune in Jerry Springer.”
She got up. “Well, I’ve got to be going now…. Thanks for everything, Red.”
I got up from my chair and showed her to the door. “Well, good night, then. Maybe we should do this again some time.”
She smiled and walked out. I closed the door behind her, and walked over to the bathroom and proceeded to wash up for bed. I rinsed my face off, answered the call of nature, and proceeded to wash up. Which is when I heard the door of my room get blasted open.
I raced out of the bathroom, a Flame attack on my mind, but the explosion had kicked up the month’s worth of dust in the room- and by the time it cleared to the point where I could see, the intruders were gone.
“Son of a bitch!” I yelled, racing out the door to find the representative of the local police that patrolled the building.
“Well, it looks like all they were after was the heater, but you should be on your guard. They might come back- but we’ll have extra officers around here. Just relax, and if we find your heater, we’ll let you know.”
“Thanks….” I muttered as the policeman turned around and walked back to his squad car.
‘Fat bastard. He was busy sucking back three dozen Krispy Kremes when he was supposed to be out on patrol. As usual.’
I returned to my room and got under the blankets, in preparation for a long, cold night. I was about to fall asleep, prepared to wake the next morning encased in solid ice, when I felt something warm slip onto my shoulders. I looked over- hands?
“Don’t cry out. I came because I figured you needed something to help you keep warm.”
I leaped from the bed and turned around. “Blazer, what do you think you’re doing? Shouldn’t you be leaving now to get back to your own room? I’ll be fine- you warmed the blankets up for me, that’s good enough.”
A slight laugh came from the lump of blankets on the far side of my bed. “Whoever said I was going to leave?”
I started. ‘Don’t say something stupid, don’t say something stupid, don’t say something stupid-‘
“You know what you’re implying, don’t you?”
‘Way to go, Romeo. Can’t get much more stupid, can you? What are you going to ask her next, ‘is it OK with you if I sleep in the same bed with you?’ Like that college down in Missouri or wherever they are?’
Blazer let a laugh out. “Of course. You, me, in the same bed, we love each other very much, and whatever happens happens.”
“You’re absolutely sure? You know what’s going to happen if you put your hands on me again, right?” I said with a stupid grin on my face. (Sure, I looked like a stupid cow or something like that. But what do you want me to do, take advantage of her and act like some stupid ass?)
“Yeah- normal guy reaction. And I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want it to be like that. You’ve shown me a new world, Red. And made me decide that there is more to life than someone with muscles for brains.”
Nothing more needed to be said. I walked back over to the bed, and after some hesitation, pulled back the blankets and got back in. Her hands went up to my shoulders again, and the rest, as some might say, is history.
(No, I’m not going to describe the graphic details of it for you, there’s plenty of stories like that already on the internet. Use your imagination if you have to.)
To Chapter Seven
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