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    Dabeagle
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

House of Frost - 12. Chapter 12

 

First: Do no harm - Hippocrates

“Look, all I'm saying is all that sweetness must mean he's the opposite in bed. Right? You know, like the conservative librarian who turns into a dominatrix in the evening?” Al asked.

Somehow a game had developed about Ty and myself, but Ty wasn't here to push back in the lunchroom. When the teasing had first started I'd unwittingly 'stepped in it', as Ty told me, when Tess was making comments about us showing up at the hospital with me wearing Ty's clothes. I knew I couldn't say it was because I'd been shot and my clothes had been ruined by blood, but that left them to the assumption that we'd had some form of sex some hours before we actually did.

I wasn't sure what the big deal was, but since they were smiling and teasing, I assumed there was something I was missing. Besides, not everyone gets to see who a person is when they share their body with you. I liked that I knew and didn't feel compelled to share.

“Are you picturing Ty in leather with a whip?” I asked Al.

“Rawr,” Donna said with a laugh. Continuing, she said, “Kind of neat you found contacts to match Ty's eye color though.”

“Tess,” I asked, since she'd started the teasing today, “How's Topher?”

She sighed. “Christopher is...a work in progress.”

“Trying to change his evil ways?” Zumibia teased.

“No,” Tess said, shaking her head. “Just...learning more about other people changes how we act, right? He's been...sheltered in a weird way. He's kind of comfortable being a Chad, but I think he's better than that, because of some things he does – not says. He can say some awfully dumb things, but credit – he will talk about it and admit someone else makes fair points.”

“Why wouldn't you date someone you agree with more?” I asked.

Tess moved her mouth to one side and then looked toward me. “Because talking to someone that doesn't see everything the way I do is...interesting. We don't fight about stuff, and it's fun to debate some things. I like how he keeps my mind working.”

“I'll bet you do,” Cara said, quietly.

Tess arched an eyebrow. “Like you have any room to talk? I'm sure you find Brad stimulating.”

Cara smiled and blushed.

“He is very good-looking,” I said to her.

“Hey! Keep your eyes on Ty!” Al teased.

“Ty agrees with me. I think,” I said. “He recalled me telling Brad about him having his shirt off so much.”

“So you and Ty want a three-way with my brother? Is that it?”

I laughed and shook my head. “I'm not sharing Ty with anyone.” I shot a mischievous look at Cara, “But I won't turn down looking at Brad if he wants to keep taking his clothes off.”

“Bad Nick! Bad!” Tess said with a laugh.

Ever since Ty and I had bonded I'd been feeling more confident, able to talk to Ty about things I didn't understand about the normal world and socialization, since I'd had such an unusual experience with that.

I didn't think the situation, as it was, could last. My studies of leukemia and web casting were on a collision course, and that was slowly raising my stress level. Jay was starting treatment for his cancer, but because he'd kept quiet and his father hadn't realized, the outlook was anything but rosy. Although he'd largely held steady for the month, it was obvious he was starting to decline. He was losing weight, had less energy than before, and just generally looked like he wasn't well.

On a Wednesday night I was studying again, feeling as if time was running out, when Ty wrapped his arms around me from behind, breaking my concentration.

“Babe,” he said quietly. “I think we have to do something.”

“About Jay you mean?”

I felt him nod, his chin on my shoulder. “We have to tell him, and give you a chance to try.”

I let out a slow breath. “It's not just him. We'll need to convince our friends.”

He loosened his grip enough to walk around me so that we faced each other. “We do? Why? How many?”

“The why is the web casting,” I said. “It's... Each person has a soul. That soul is like a car battery – it starts everything. The body also has a spark, which gets started by the soul and then powers the body throughout life – expanding the energy the soul gives it.”

“Okay,” he said, believing even if he couldn't see proof. “Go on.”

“So you've seen me draw on the energy of my own spark to heal. When I ran low I supplemented with calories, but I was too weak to cast on your father afterward. I tapped into his spark to make him compliant and then mix up his memories.”

“Are you saying...” He frowned slightly as he worked through what I'd said. “That you'll need more energy than just your spark?”

I nodded. “A lot more. More than just Jay's, too. Leukemia starts in the blood-producing parts of the bones, as I understand it, so it's not like a bullet wound, where you repair one spot intensely. With this I'll have to comb through his entire body and replace damaged cells – billions of them. That's where web casting comes in.”

“Okay. What is it?”

I held my hands up, fingers splayed out. “I link people together by their sparks, creating a web of energy to draw on to heal him. The more people, in theory, the more power and the better job I can do.” I sighed. “The thing is...web casting isn't a rare skill, but it's exclusive to life magi. I consider myself to be one, but I don't know that I'll be able to cast it. Or how effective I'll be.” With another sigh I said, “I also...I've never tried to cure something so complex. I'm...afraid.”

He moved in and held me, and I wrapped my arms around him. “I love you,” he said. “I know you'll do everything you can. I want you to know whatever that turns out to be, it's enough. No one will give any more than you could.”

His words didn't ease my anxiety. I had a plan for convincing our friends, but I wasn't sure how he'd feel about it. I told him, and he protested mildly – sometimes, despite what he'd seen, it wasn't easy to believe what he'd always thought to be true wasn't. In the end he trusted me, and that was both awe inspiring and terrifying.

^*^*^*^*^*^*^

Jay was sleeping; we'd gathered our group in the garage. I was standing while everyone else was seated. I met each of their gazes briefly: Ty, Tess, Brad, Cara, Al, Donna and Zumibia. Before things became overly dramatic I started to speak.

“I'm going to say some things you may have trouble believing. Please hear me out and give me the chance to prove it,” I said to them. “I have to start by telling you that I'm not like the rest of you. I have a blessing you don't.”

“Ty's sweet, but a blessing?” Al asked.

I smiled gently at them before continuing. “I'll be happy to sing his praises later. Right now I have little time to tell you, convince you and act.”

They looked at me with curiosity, and Ty with confidence.

“The reason I don't give specifics about where I came from is that I don't think you'd believe me, not without proof. Ty has seen this proof.” I paused. “I am a magus.”

They remained mute, looking back at me expectantly.

“When a magus graduates what might be called school, we have a test. The Magisterium, the governing body, sends us out on this test. Mine was to come here and survive – very open ended.”

They looked back at me blankly, waiting for the joke to be revealed.

“I'm a life magus. My blessing is the ability to heal. I know you'll need proof of this, and I came prepared. I want you all to know before I start that I will be fine. Please remain seated and quiet.”

They were now glancing among themselves and looking mildly concerned.

“Guys, this isn't a joke, even though it sounds like it,” Ty said. “I know what he's going to do. Please, just watch and try to not to yell or anything.”

I'd considered slicing with a razor, but Ty had pointed out that there are fake blades made to ooze realistic blood. I needed something more dramatic. So I knelt down and placed my hand flat on the concrete floor, turned my nerves off and pulled a claw hammer from my waistband. With two quick, sure strokes I smashed my hand.

“What the fuck!”

“Nick! Oh my God!”

“Nick! Holy shit!”

I held my other hand up, dropping the hammer. They all were in various states of rising to stop me from doing further damage or in shock. Ty had stood and was holding Brad back from rushing to me.

“Please,” I said, cutting into their outbursts. “Please. Listen to my voice. I'm not stressed or hurt.”

“Nick! Your fucking hand, dude!” Brad said, his voice filled with fear and confusion.

I held up the damaged hand, well mangled. “You all needed to see this,” I said. “Witness and believe.” I channeled my blessing, healing my bones and ligaments. For them it must have been like watching a movie in reverse as bones popped back into place and healed as if by, well, magic. Ten minutes later I flexed my hand and wiggled my fingers at them.

“I am a magus with a blessing to heal. And I need your help.”

Brad approached me and grabbed my hand, feeling over the skin and bone to verify what his eyes were telling him. He looked up at me and asked to see the hammer, which I handed him. Slowly the group surrounded me and examined my hand and the hammer.

“How...I mean your hand was...how did that not hurt?” Cara asked.

“I can turn off the nerves. That lets me focus on healing instead of pain,” I replied.

“That was...freaky,” Donna said. “What's the trick? Show us how it works.”

I shook my head. “No trick.”

Al took my hand and turned it over, tracing my palm. Looking up they said, “My aunt believes in alternative healing. I always thought she was a little crazy.”

“Things like Reiki work on transferring body energy,” I said. “Those that can are likely adepts – those with a slight connection to a blessing and channeling that enables them to heal someone.”

“I don't buy it,” Donna said. “I mean, it was neat, but a magus? Like a magician? It's all just smoke and mirrors.”

I nodded. “May I see your hand?”

She gave me a confident smile and held her hand out.

I took it and pressed my lips together. “Donna, I'm going to switch off feeling to your left arm. Once I do, I'd like you to touch it and tell everyone else what you feel.”

She nodded, though I could tell from assessing her that she was somewhat nervous. Assessment isn't mind reading so I wasn't sure if she was nervous I'd succeed or embarrass her or what. I pushed my blessing into her and she jolted slightly at the sensation, then I turned off the sensory nerves in her arm – I wanted to numb it, not make it useless.

I let her hand go and she reached across, touching her arm. Her eyes grew wide as she looked at me. “What's going on?”

“What do you feel?” Tess asked.

Donna looked around, eyes wide. “Nothing. Nothing! It feels like...dead meat!”

“Let me put it back,” I said.

“Fix it! Put it back!” she demanded. I placed my hand on her arm and reversed the blessing. She shook her arm and touched it, staring at me. “What are you?” she asked, her voice dropping.

Fixing my gaze to her, I said, “I'm a life magus. I need your help to try and help Jay.”

“You can heal him?” Tess asked.

“You can fix him?” Brad demanded. “Why haven't you done it? He's suffering!”

“Easy,” Ty said to Brad, stepping between us. “It's complicated, and he needs our help.”

“Help how?” Brad demanded, spreading his arms out. “Take me. Fix him.”

I placed a hand on Ty's shoulder to let me have a clear line of sight to Brad. “This is why I'm telling you all today. I have a possible way to help him. I need to try to link us all in order to have enough energy to be able to help him.”

“You keep saying try. Can't you just...or is that why you say try? You're not sure if it will work?” Zumibia asked, her voice sounding like she was rattled.

I nodded at her. “That's exactly it. Jay waited too long. The cancer is in deep, from everything we know. It's not as easy as healing my hand, which you all just saw. I need more energy to-”

“Then stop talking,” Brad said. “Take mine. All of it. Fix my brother.”

Ty pushed him back from me gently. “No one's dying, Brad. It's not that easy, either.”

“As I said, the cancer is dug in. It will take time, maybe more than a single effort. I need you all to help, to give me energy as I try to help him.”

“I'm fucking in,” Brad said with determination.

“Me, too,” Tess said.

Donna shook her head. “I don't know what's happening here, but I'm out.” She turned quickly and left the room.

Al took my hand and studied my face. “I trust you. I'm in.”

“I'll help,” Cara said quietly and took Brad's hand.

Ty turned to me. “Okay, Babe, what now?”

I nodded to them. “We need to go to Jay, and I need to link you all before I start working on him. We need to not be interrupted.”

“Well, we're not going to fit in Jay's room,” Tess said. “We need to get him out here. Besides, if we all go in there, Bea or my dad will want to know what's going on. Out here they pretty much let things be.”

“Okay. We need him out here on the couch,” I said. “Then I need you all in the room, fairly close together, so I can start.”

“Now?” Brad asked. “We can do this now?”

I nodded. “Now.”

Tess and Brad leapt into action, moving the couch and organizing seating so that everyone could be close for me to reach them. Ty went and pried Jay from his room, guiding him to the couch where he collapsed in exhaustion.

“You're such a shit friend,” Jay said with a smile. “Can't you let me sleep until I'm dead?”

“Nope. Need your cheerful personality,” Ty teased.

Everyone seated themselves in a semi-circle around the couch. Jay looked at us with mild amusement and asked what was going on.

“We're going to try and help you,” I said.

“Guys,” Jay said with a sigh. “I know this is hard. I'm sorry for the situation, but honestly-”

“Just shut up,” Ty said.

“What?”

“Shut. Up. Let us try,” Ty told him.

Jay sighed and threw his hands up lightly. “Okay. Go for it.”

I nodded and let out a deep breath. I placed my hand on Jay's forehead and soothed him into a light sleep, slowly lowering him into a resting position on the couch. I then turned to the group.

“First I need to spend some time delving into his system to see how widespread the damage is and figure out where to start. This may take some time, so you may want to eat or drink and use the bathroom, because once I establish the web...if I can, then you can't leave.”

They nodded hesitantly, then I turned and dismissed them from my thoughts. Placing my hand on Jay's forearm, I delved into his system. The irregularities in his blood were familiar and easy to detect. I spent a fair amount of time identifying which cells were correct and which were deformed, so that I'd have a template to work from. Then I started to work from bone to bone to identify where the cancer had taken root. There are over two hundred bones in a human body, and while I could have saved some time by leaving out the small bones in the hands and feet, I couldn't afford to skip a place where the marrow might be compromised.

Next I compared healthy marrow to cancerous marrow, marking down in detail how each was constructed and how it produced the damaged cells versus healthy ones. From there I moved on to tertiary tissue damage from the cancer, then went on to examine Jay's spark. His spark was steady but fragile. I estimated that he had perhaps a month to six weeks of life in his current state, something that would deteriorate quickly due to the cancer advancing and the lack of nutrition entering and being distributed to his system.

Eventually I leaned back and stood, stretching my joints, which popped from having been in place for too long.

“Well? What's the word?” Tess asked.

I turned to them. “The cancer has spread through his body. If we can't help him, it's a matter of weeks before he loses this fight.”

“Okay, well, we've been waiting for three hours. Brad is bringing us food,” Tess said.

“That took a while,” Ty said, placing a hand on the back of my neck. “You must be worn out.”

“I'm okay,” I said to him. “A few calories will help.”

We waited for a short time until Brad entered the room with a pizza. We ate in relative silence; once the food was gone, it was time to start.

“I've never cast this before, so please be patient,” I said.

“Start with me,” Brad said.

“It's better if I start with Ty,” I said.

“Ty's his friend, but I'm his brother,” Brad protested.

“Brad,” I said gently. “It's not about your dedication. This is about me. I'm familiar with Ty's spark. It will make it easier for me to start with the familiar before going to another.”

Brad's eyes were wet; he nodded, then wiped at his eyes. I reached out to him and pushed my blessing into him to bring some calm before turning to Ty.

I smiled at him. “Are you ready, beloved?”

He leaned his forehead against mine. “Don't get flowery, Frost. I'll get in your bed later, don't worry.”

“I love you,” I said softly, then took his hand and pushed my blessing into him. Finding his spark was simple, but the next part would be a challenge – linking it to mine. I thought our bond would make it easier, but at first it seemed not to be the case. I let out a slow breath and looked to my own spark, mentally reaching from me to him – and jolted when I felt the connection.

A faint line of green, twisting in my sight, went from my chest to his shoulder.

“What?” he asked.

I licked my lips. “Our sparks are linked. Move slowly, nothing sudden, and I'll try to add Brad.”

I let go of Ty, pushing my will into the green thread to keep it stable. I reached out and touched Brad, pulling from the center of the thread and reaching for his spark. Each time I got close, the stream would snap back into place as if I were pulling it beyond its limits. It took more effort to establish the connection than it did to maintain it so I pushed harder, pulling the line to Brad's stomach, where his spark shone brightly to me. I made a connection for a split second, but it broke, shattering the entire connection.

“What was that?” Ty asked, reaching for his shoulder. “I just felt something cold.”

“Me, too,” Brad said, one hand on his stomach.

“I lost the connection,” I said. “Give me a second to start again.” I took a few deep breaths and reached out to Ty's spark. I quickly made the connection and then pulled quickly toward Brad – and snapped the connection again. Not waiting I connected again to Ty's spark and pulled gently but steadily toward Brad's spark, providing consistent pressure to reach him – and then he was connected. I took a few deep breaths, letting the connection stabilize before I tried adding someone new to the web.

Somewhere in the house was a loud bang. We all clearly heard – or I assume we did because I did – Bea demanding, “Who are you?”

Tess's father made a shout, but then everything went quiet. We all turned, my concentration letting the web drop as the door from the house to the garage space opened and a small woman in an out-of-date dress with frills at the cuffs stepped into the garage, her small heels clicking on the concrete surface. She placed her hands on her hips and glared at me.

“A web casting? Are you absolutely out of your silly head?”

I blinked. “Grandmother?”

“Haven't you gotten a single message I sent you?” she demanded.

I shook my head, somewhat in a daze. “I got the one with father's ring and the berries, but nothing since.”

She snorted. “It figures. Seems this little test was fixed from the start. We need to talk. Let's go.”

I shook my head. “I can't.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Can't or won't?”

“Both,” I said. “I have to help here. Then I can go with you.”

She tilted her head to one side. “Is that so? And pray tell, why would that be?”

I straightened. “I have bonded, grandmother. I have made friends. One is in mortal danger, and I must help him. I will not leave him in this condition.”

Her eyes narrowed. “A normal needs help, and you'll risk everything for that?”

I nodded my head at her. “If someone needs help, it's my calling. I'm a life magus, grandmother.”

She nodded. “So you are. I got the message about bonding. Needless to say I was...surprised.”

“Message?” I asked and then hit my forehead, having forgotten. “The librarian.”

“Yes,” she agreed. She glanced around the room and her gaze settled on Ty. “You and I will have words.” Looking back to me she said, “If you're serious, we need precautions. Fools and murderers are afoot. You, girl, assist me.”

“I'm not 'girl'. You can call me Al. What do you need?” Al said smoothly, not impressed by my grandmother.

My grandmother's eyes narrowed. “I like you. I need a marker or some paint – something that doesn't wipe off easily.”

“Spray paint,” Brad said. His body jerked as if he was surprised, and then he moved to a cabinet. He and Al brought over several cans of spray paint to my grandmother. She picked one up and started to shake it and instructed them to each pick up two and do the same. She moved to a wall and began to spray a rune, one for warding of some kind. It was complicated and messy with the paint, but then she touched it and with a word it turned black, smoking for a mere moment and then was gone. She moved over a foot or so and kept going until the can was dead before taking one from Al. She went around the room, using up six cans of paint.

“There,” she said with some satisfaction. “That should keep the nincompoops away for now.” She turned to me. “A web casting? You do realize that's like a magical flare? Seen for leagues around because of the power involved? Easier to divine your location than if you just told them where you are? And how are you doing this, exactly?”

“I've been studying with the librarian,” I said.

“What librarian?” Ty asked.

I glanced at him. “Remember the female figure from when we researched about bonding? We call her the librarian.”

“Oh.”

“You're too young to be powerful enough for a web casting, even with a bond,” she said. She reached into her hand bag, a small clutch as if she were out for an evening. She pulled out several items too large to fit in the bag, tossing them aside.

“Wow. Your bag is like a Tardis!” Cara said with wonder.

“It's supposed to look like a Balenciaga,” my grandmother said with a sigh. “All right, here we are.” She handed me a green marble, about two inches around, with beveled cuts as if to refract light like a cut crystal.

“Use this, start with your bonded and then connect to me.”

I stared at her.

“Did I stutter? I'm already testy, Nicholas.”

“Well, we do want to avoid a fit of pique,” I said with a little smile. She growled at me, and I quickly channeled from my spark to the marble, feeling the immediate increase in power of the connection. Using the marble as a connecting point I reached out to Ty's spark, finding it easily and connecting it. From there it was like running a thread of yarn from my grandmother to Brad, then Cara, Tess and Zumibia.

I finally took the connected web of sparks and pulled it through mine and focused the energy on Jay. It was tedious work, starting in the left hand and working my way up through each bone, catching and destroying the deformed white blood cells and sending the healthy marrow into overdrive to produce healthy white blood cells. I scoured the left arm to the shoulder and then carefully worked toward his neck, but found cells were sliding past me and into the cleansed arm. I had to double back, clean again and then set up something akin to a check point in his system, blocking and destroying deformed blood cells. I could repair other things first, but I needed to remove the bad cells and keep them out of places where I'd fixed things already.

With that in place I moved to his head, down to his neck and shoulder, to form a new check point that blocked off both areas. For each new gain I had to reset the screen to make sure bad cells didn't get back into his repaired bloodstream, repairing the marrow as I went. It was slow work, boring even, but I kept moving steadily to repair his body.

At last I stood up, my back sore from crouching, and let the connection to the web drop. There was a collective sigh in the room. My grandmother appeared to one side with Ty on the other.

“That was impressive,” my grandmother said. “A life magus it is.”

“Are you okay?” Ty asked. “I feel tired, you must be exhausted.”

“I'm okay,” I said quietly. “I just need some calories.”

“We can do that back at the house,” my grandmother said.

I nodded and turned to face the group, who were tired and sweaty. “He should be okay,” I said.

“It worked?” Brad asked.

I nodded. “You all should eat and get some rest. I'll come check on him tomorrow.”

My grandmother picked up her bag. “I'm too tired to teleport and you'd just throw up. How does one get around in the normal world?”

“I have a car,” Ty said.

Twenty minutes later we were home and Abelard was serving us food. As I ate my energy levels balanced out, and I didn't feel quite so drained.

“Grandmother,” I said. “I'm just now wondering – what brings you here? You said we had to talk. Doesn't you being here break the rules of my test?”

She crossed her legs at the ankle petitely. “This whole thing has been a setup. Your uncle is dead, and I am sure Michael is coming to kill you.”




 
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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