Ty walked Jamian down the hall, trying to keep his emotions from leaking all over the place. From the strained, pale look on his lover’s face, he wasn’t doing so well.
Not your lover. Not yet. Gods, don’t even think that when he’s like this, or he’ll run away faster than you can sneeze. Think about pink elephants. Pink zebra-striped elephants.
It was a surprisingly effective mind-blanking technique, even if he did have a tendency to overdo it on the elephants’ details. Professor VanderLinden had taught it to him when he was little, and he’d used it before, usually in Professor Solomon’s class, when he wanted to keep his private thoughts private. It was working; Jamian relaxed a little, beginning to stand up straight.
It required concentration, though, and as Professor VanderLinden came around the corner, running like the house was on fire, shirtless and in a pair of skin-tight jeans, all of Ty’s concentration vanished. The professor skidded to a halt, Ivette and Mea falling in behind him like the back-up singers to a glam-rock star, not even breathing hard.
Jamian whimpered softly, and Ty pulled it together again. Pink elephants, with zebra stripes and blue-painted toenails. Hoofnails?
The professor was looking at him oddly. Ty took a deep breath, and squeezed Jamian’s hand softly. Swallowing his pride, he pleaded,
“As his Mentor and yours, that’s my job,” VanderLinden responded, so gently that it hurt. He turned to Ivette and Mea, giving Ty a chance to compose himself. “Go get Reid. Tell him to meet us in my office.”
Jamian was swaying lightly on his feet; Ty braced himself to better support him. VanderLinden frowned, and began speaking softly.
“Jamian, I want you to think of pink elephants, okay? That’s it, look at me, focus on my eyes, and thinking about pink elephants.”
“Pink elephants?” Jamian’s voice sounded raw and a little confused. He blinked at VanderLinden incredulously. “Like… puce pachyderms?”
The professor barked out a little laugh. “Yes. Puce pachyderms is good. Think about the color their ears are, sort of a sandy mauve underneath, and what their trunks look like. Are you there?”
He nodded slowly. “Magenta hair…” he murmured. “Why am I thinking of magenta mammoths?”
“It’s a focusing technique,” VanderLinden explained. “It helps block out unwanted, ah, noise. Close your eyes if you want, sometimes it helps eliminate distractions. And take Ty’s hand.” Jamian slipped his hand back into Ty’s, his eyes squeezed shut. Ty held him tight, trying to think of purple pachyderms himself. “Good. Focus on the wrinkles, on the way the sunlight plays on that pink skin. We’re going to walk now. Ty won’t let you trip.”
The professor caught Ty’s eye for a moment, something darkly concerned and serious in his expression. He was more worried than a simple power awakening called for, and he wanted Ty to see his concern.
Feeling protective and a little jealous – why did everyone but him know what was going on with his Kept - Ty bent his arm behind his back, pulling Jamian’s arm around his waist as he did so, bumping their hips together. “Come on, Jame’,” he coaxed, “off to see the wizard.”
“Well that’s an elephant of a different color,” Jamian murmured wryly. The professor shot them a worried look, and Ty couldn’t help but laugh.
“Anachronism,” he teased him. “He’s quoting a movie. Well, misquoting. I think it’s a good sign.”
“As long as he keeps picturing elephants, I don’t care what color they are.” This was terser than Ty had ever seen the professor, and it worried him. “I don’t want to have to… well, Reid will be able to help.”
Ty hesitated, staring at the back of the professor’s head and his anxiously twitching tail; Jamian stumbled a little as he stopped guiding him, and he caught him, turning all his attention to making sure his lover - Kept, his Kept. Pink elephants… was all right. When he finally was sure that Jamian was okay, blinking perplexedly at him but on both feet, he murmured an apology and looked back at the professor.
…who was humming A horse is a horse, of course, of course, And no one can talk to a horse of course… his tail still and a tolerantly impatient smile on his face. Had Ty imagined his dark mood? He shook his head, trying to clear his mind, and focused on pink elephants.
That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister Ed.
Copyright © 2009-2010 Lyn Thorne-Alder & Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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