Chapter 183c: Jamian
"He talked to her! When I told him not to! When I told her not to." Ofir's protests, too, were losing steam. He glanced up at Professor Valerian, found her frowning, and looked back to Luke.
The PE teacher sat down on the desk with a thump. "I think sometimes we err too much on the side of 'realism.' Sure, out in the world there are people who will challenge you for looking at their Kept wrong… Mike and I have both dealt with a few of them. But there are also people who will challenge you if they think you don't deserve your Kept."
"Luke, is this necessary?" Regine's voice and the tiny leak of emotions from her suggested anything but.
"I think it is. I think they need to understand what's going on it we're going to deal with it. Because we don't have anything set up for this, 'Gene."
She sighed, and sat down, somehow pulling the room's attention to her. "I believe we should focus first on this Word of its."
"First, all right. But not to the exclusion of everything else." Luke leaned back, clearly giving the Director the floor.
"Jamian, do you know what this 'Word' of yours does?"
"It Works enchantment. Magic. It pulls apart spells. It's better when I have the Word - like working on Eperu Workings - but it works either way. I mean, not just pulls apart spells, I jasfed a couple, too. That's what happened with Conrad's collar, and Kai…"
She clearly didn't want to be there. Neither of them did. But she gulped, and nodded. "I believe that's what happened with his crew's suite, too. He fixed the dismantled Working that had changed the environment, much as he did with the Working on Conrad's old collar." She squeezed Conrad's hands as she spoke, and leaned heavily against him. She'd been crying. "It's clearly a Working, although his first uses of it appeared accidental."
"Thanks, Kai. So, when Ofir was attacking me, I did what Manira and I had drilled on-"
"Manira, because she is in your crew?" Professor VanderLinden interrupted.
"Yeah." He leaned against Ty. "I could go off and practice with her without anyone yelling." He smiled apologetically at his Keeper. "There was a lot of talking."
"Talking." That was Regine, but he didn't care at the moment; he needed to hear what Ty would say.
His Keeper, his lover, his everything, squeezed him tightly. "It's all right, Jame'. I'm not mad. I wish you'd told me, but … I should have noticed, too. It's okay."
He could breathe again. "Thank you," he whispered. He twisted back in Ty's arms to look at the grown-ups. "Talking. Trying to figure things out."
"Gene," Luke cut in, "we are running a school here. The kid was trying to learn."
The Director sighed. "Yes. Yes, he was. That's good, of course. So you used this Frod… this Word to disrupt Ofir's attacks?"
"And then Kendra, you felt the 'Bond' break?"
The mouse-girl nodded.
"Well." She steepled her hands. "This is an interesting case."
"Director, I think it would be best if we explained. I know it's against policy, but considering it's directly affecting them now, they should understand."
"Yes. Unfortunate, but yes. Ty, Kailani, Ofir, Kendra, I am going to need to ask you to promise not to reveal what you learn here this afternoon, and to order your Kept to also keep it secret."
This place had way to many secrets. Jamian twisted to look at Ty, but his Keeper was nodding, slowly. "I promise not to reveal to any student of Addergoole what I learn here this afternoon. And Jamian, you won't, either."
"Fine." What else could he say? Around him, everyone else was making similar promises, all of them holding their breaths.
"Very good. Some of this, you may have discerned on your own already. The Belongings within Addergoole are not true Belongings, bound by the Law, because…"
Jamian finally got what Manira had been trying to tell him. "Oh, shit!"
Everyone turned to him. "Sorry, sorry. It's just… because we're still students, and the Law says 'and then… not stacking."
"Oh!" Kai squeaked. "Oh, that's… that's cheating!" She looked between the adults, frowning and giving off waves of dismay. "You're using a Working to imitate all the parts of the Bond?"
"And of promises." She gave off no emotional cues, but Jamian was pretty sure Regine was proud of her Student.
"But that's horrible! Slavery, the things it does to the Kept's mind, the things a bad Keeper can do, the abuse… this isn't part of being a fae then, it's something you're doing to the students, allowing to happen! That's horrible!"
"It's a Working." Jamian agreed it was horrible, but he was still hung up on that part. "Just a mind - gotta be mind and hugr, right? - Working? So I took apart part of the Working?"
"Not just a Working." Regine wouldn't know a tone of voice if it bit her. "A very complex Working, a portion of which you dismantled, yes. It can, of course, be repaired. As to why," she continued, over the beginnings of at least three sets of protest, "although there have been abuses here, abuses we are working to correct, the school still provides a sheltered environment in which to learn about the potential pitfalls of being an Ellehemaei. Here, because of our social terrarium, a Keeping can last at the most four years. In the world, it can be eternal."
"So." Jamian tried to feel his way through this one carefully. Carefully, because if he was quick about this, he'd call the Director a heartless bitch. "Tell your girlfriend you'll be hers forever here - sorry, Ty - and it lasts for a couple years, and if you're lucky, you get Ty or Kai. If you're unlucky - or trapped at Hell Night, or someone does a mindful…. sorry, a Mind Working on you, you get Ardell or Agatha." Agatha, he remembered, was the Director's daughter. He didn't feel like sparing her feelings right now, though.
"Or Meshach or Shadrach," Ty pointed out.
This time, it was Professor VanderLinden who frowned. "We know there were problems in the past. We're working on correcting them. But in order to have the whole 'terrarium' concept work, the Laws have to hold. We can't go into students' rooms. We can't break Ownings once they've begun. And we do try to respect the students' privacy in general. Clearly, we went too far in the direction of privacy," he sighed, "with Shad and Meshach. But imagine, if you would, what the other direction would look like."
The room was silent for a moment. Kai broke the quiet with a soft, choked noise. Jamian, who was picturing cameras in the bedrooms and teachers asking him uncomfortable questions about his eating habits, was too busy squirming in embarrassment to be horrified.
Professor VanderLinden nodded. "You see. It's a delicate balance we're trying to maintain."
"And this is why we need to correct the broken Belonging caused by Jamian's intriguing Word." Regine slipped it in so smoothly, it was as if they'd coordinated it. Perhaps they had. "In the real world, there would be no Working that could break a Belonging."
"No." To Jamian's surprise, and possibly to everyone's, it was Ty that spoke up. "No, but in the 'real world,' there'd be me."
"Ty…" Professor VanderLinden began. Luke barked out a laugh.
"I beg your pardon?" Regine demanded. Ty was on a roll.
"In the real world, you wouldn't have asked me to keep my power in check, and I wouldn't be doing so because you asked nicely and it was no skin off my nose. And my Kept clearly likes Kendra. So I would have walked up to Ofir and taken her. Months ago. Probably would have dealt with Bowen, too, although that might have been a fight. And then, if I was feeling really like indulging my lover, I would have started a crew war between our crew and Ardell's and taken Shira and Aneislis. And probably their suite, to, since I'd have needed more room for that." Ty's voice was lazy and casual, like it always was, but there was steel behind it Jamian had never heard before. "And there's those problems dealt with. Tell me you don't think I could do it. I dare you."
Jamain was pretty sure his jaw was dropping. Not just because of what Ty was saying - his Ty, lazy Ty, party-boy Ty - but because of the way the teachers were reacting.
"You could do it." Professor VanderLinden answered very slowly. "I thought we'd taught you better than that."
"Taking what I want, just because I can? I'm not the Student you need to teach that to." Ty gestured at Ofir and Kendra. "If you give her back to him, I will challenge him for her. And I'll win. I should have done it when this trouble started."
Jamian had never been so in love with, so in awe of, his Keeper as in that moment.
Copyright © 2009-2012 Lyn Thorne-Alder. All rights reserved.
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