Author's Ramblings: I added quite a bit more during the edits for this piece, including filling in a few gaps that a proofreader of mine managed to find. (Thank you! ^_^) I hope I am staying true to character here, as it has taken some effort to get back into character for these two. Such fun with the dialog and especially this last conversation between them. Thank you so much for the comments/feedback last week, it helps when I edit for the upcoming installments. Happy reading and have a terrific weekend!
“You're not going to make this easy for me, are you?" She asked at last, when her tongue finally recovered from the earlier abuse.
"No." He said simply, sipping the steaming brew.
Eira blew on the surface of the cup. "Why?"He perked a brow.She sighed. "okay fine."Silence reigned for another moment or two and then he smiled.
“If I were to make everything easy for you, would it not defeat the purpose of your discovering yourself?"
"huh?" Eira blinked. "Um, okay. Hold on here, before you start getting all philosophical and over-my-head just because you can and all that-please do make sure I'm following you."
"Ima-what?!" Eira opted for the next way out, a sip of the scalding tea. It burned its way down her throat, but wasn't all that bad.
"Perhaps we should retry this." He suggested. "I will attempt to rewind my-er, never mind. I do not intentionally mean to confuse you, but it appears that is what I am doing anyway. We shall start again. I do believe the phrase assigned to me as a trademark is the following.” He cleared his throat, eyes still laughing. “Is there any way I may be of assistance?"
"You are the Dark Phoenix, right?" Eira set the cup on the table. She’d been hoping for some huge, obvious sign of some sort to confirm this stranger’s identity, but there hadn’t even been a medal about the house anywhere. Her fingers twitched, and she suddenly wished that she was still holding the cup of tea. In his suddenly piercing gaze methodically sweeping over her, it chose to focus on her now empty hands.
He blinked, returning his gaze to his own cup. "I am. Is there something in particular I need to do to convince you of it?"
Eira closed her eyes. "No. Just no." The whole conversation had taken more than one turn she hadn't quite anticipated. "Look, I uh, I appreciate your hospit-"
"You wanted me to train you." He said simply. “A yes or no would suffice.” The sentence cut through the near retreat Eira had decided on.
"Well, I, uh." She stammered for a moment, then retrieved the steaming cup. Her hands desperately needed to be busy. There was no safe answer to this loaded question. Her future was hanging in the balance, and yet, so much more. Her headache began to surface once more. "Yes. I was. I-I mean, I did, I-just-uh"
"Then why are you so eager to leave?"
"I wasn't leaving!" The headache responded with a sharp jab in the very center of her head to punctuate her exclamation.
"You were." He took a sip. "You were. And if I didn't say anything, you would have, is that not true? Both the past and present tense must never intertwine to muddle one's future." He rose from his chair. "You are, however, far too tired for this conversation to sensibly continue. Time for bed.” He rose from the chair, taking the last sip of tea. “Stay for the night, the choice is up to you what you wish to do by tomorrow. Whatever you decide, I shall respect. And whatever you were running from will not dare to enter my realm while you are still under my protection. Please take the room to the left near the refresher. You'll excuse me, I'm sure, if I decide to retire at this particular moment."
Eira stared after him as he moved from the room to the sink where he washed the cup and set it in the tray to dry. She hurriedly gulped hot mouthfuls of tea. It was bearable now, and the heat helped with her head.
He punched in something on a key pad and returned briefly to inform her that he'd activated the nightly security system. "Good night. Please don’t go poking about anything, the security alarm with trigger and I’d rather not have to get up after I’ve fallen asleep.""er, good night." Eira managed, moving to her feet to follow the short way to the kitchen.
There was a quiet chuckle. “It’s not hard to trigger, but I will make an allowance for your energy signature. Rinse that, if you would?”
Eira drained the cup, crossing to stand in the kitchen. “You keep saying that.” She slowly wrapped her fingers around the empty cup. “How can you feel my signature? I haven’t even-”
“You do not have to use your energy in order for me to sense you. Using it once was more than sufficient, but your energy is completely knitted together with your life force. It is quite unique, which makes it easy to narrow down.” His mouth twitched. “And of course the fact that you are less than three feet away helps.”
He moved from the hallway back to the kitchen, to stand in front of the sink. “The closer you are, the stronger your signal is. The stronger it is, the easier it becomes to narrow down every unique point within it, once done, no matter where you are, I will always find you.”
“That’s a…good thing?” Eira swallowed.
The perfectly groomed eyebrows arched in sync. “It isn’t necessarily bad, if that is what you are suggesting.”
“I’m not suggesting anything! I’m just thinking that this whole thing is really, really weird!”
“Weird?” The word was pronounced with a tone of disgust and accompanied by a look of distaste.
“You don’t even know my name!”
“Because I don’t use it, or because you haven’t introduced yourself and I consider it impolite to tag you with something you have not given me permissiont to use?”
“I do believe I made my identity quite clear, you, on the other hand, did not.”
“Whoa! Hold up here!” Eira felt her temper prickling again. It didn't help her headache any. “You didn’t even give me a chance to-”
“You’ve had plenty of time, Eira.” He held out a hand. “If you wait for your predicted chances in every other area of life, I am truly amazed that you have made it this far.”
“Do you just always talk without making sense or do you just go on as if-”
“Can I have it please?” He interrupted, wiggling his fingers.
Eira blinked. “What?”
“The cup.” He nodded towards her hands. “I like to have the dishes back where they belong.”
Eira stuck the cup out. “Suit yourself! How do you know my name if I didn't tell you? Did you read my mind!?"
"Why does one always assume that their mind has been read when they, themselves have absolutely no proof of it, nor have they felt the mental invasion that would be the evidence of such a breach of privacy and-"
"So you didn't?"
"Of course I didn't. That would be extremely rude and against whatever regulations the League still has me under." He shuddered. "Quite frankly, I've never seen the purpose of reading someone else's mind. It's always as twisted and wretched as our own and then of course, once you've read it, you can't un-read it and therefore it is stuck in your head."
"See! That’s another-”
“Your name is as plain as what you are. You're an energy box, frankly speaking and quite easy to read. Your name is plastered everywhere in your energy, it practically screams your identity to whoever is willing to listen or unable to close their minds off quick enough. I would suggest diverting your energy to more useful...er..." He sighed. "Never mind, I've obviously lost you. Again. Let me try this from a more...general standpoint, shall we? Everything in this house has an energy signature.” He continued, as if he hadn’t heard her speak. “That is how I can civilly keep up a conversation with you.” The expression on his face smoothed to a look of pity. Now, in spite of his shortness and once-laughing eyes, the Dark Phoenix appeared to be much older and much wiser in years. “I store my energy in everything in this house, because if I were to bottle it up inside me as you are doing with you own, I could kill a lot of people-without even trying.” He rinsed the cup and set it on the drying rack. There was a soft white tremor of energy and then he picked up both cups and crossed the kitchen to place them in the correct cupboard. “Right now, you are an annoying little bump in the energy streams flowing through my living space. I’ll sort it out in the morning, because I really don’t want to deal with a headache tonight. I would suggest phasing yourself into a deeper sleep and to stop fighting your own powers. You’re giving me a headache.” He brushed past, his shoulder lightly touching her own.
Eira turned to stare after him and stopped when she felt a distinct coolness sink into her head. Her jaw dropped. He’d taken her headache.
He paused at the end of the short hallway and tapped a door beside the refresher. “Your room. I’m two doors down there. Try not to need me for whatever reason.” He continued down the hallway and the lights within began to dim and click off as he moved further away.
Scrambling, Eira snatched up her bag and hurried to the door. She was pleasantly surprised to find a neatly prepared, simple, guest bedroom awaiting her. Unable to resist, she opened drawers and checked beneath the bed. There were the fresh changes of clothes in varying sizes and three pairs of bedroom slippers beneath the bunk. A handful of generic toiletries were neatly lined on a shelf near a dresser and chair, with a vase carrying a single, blue flower.
“Wow.” She slowly eased onto the bed, kicking off her shoes. Her toes wiggled freely in happiness as she tugged her fingers through her tangled hair. Washing her head in the sink had made a mess of it. She grimaced. “Tomorrow.” She muttered aloud, rummaging through her bag for a change of clothes.
The coolness that had rested in her head was now slowly trickling down to register in her stomach and lower. A yawn escaped and without thinking, Eira lay down and let her eyes close.
Four rooms over, the Dark Phoenix lay awake, staring up through the clear ceiling of his bedroom to the sparkling night sky above. His brow wrinkled and he winced, before reaching one hand to touch the left side of his head. The wrinkle smoothed away and he smiled, closing his eyes and drifting to sleep.
© Sara Harricharan