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Wild Before The Light (IC)


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Pan was in his bed, arms behind his head, resting on his pillow. Staring up at the ceiling, with nothing special on his mind, a heavy breath left him, at the boredom of it all, when his phone made a sound.

 

It was a special sound, a little ping, one that he had grown to notice very well. A quick glance over at Micah, he reached for his phone, brought it up and ready the message with a smile. The little smiling faces still amused him, while he typed a response.

 

"Decent? I thought I would rate a far bit higher than just decent 😉"

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Micah had gone to bed a little while ago; he'd cited being tired after the initial rush of "heavy socializing" that was move-in and the immediate aftermath. Pan hadn't ever known his roommate to snore, beyond maybe an occasional middle-of-the-night snort or the like that most any person made; however, he did occasionally shift or speak in his sleep. 

 

At the sound of the 'ping', Micah rolled from laying on his back to facing the wall; he was now facing away from Pan. A sound somewhere between a grunt and a moan popped out, which when combined with the slightly increased shine from his night-time power dampeners, suggested he was not having a "pleasant" dream. 

 

"No...keep away..."

 

Still, he didn't seem to be in true distress. Micah had bad dreams sometimes, everyone did. It was just part of the human condition. Pan had lived with him for two years now, and knew the signs that would require intervention to avoid risking overload of the dampeners (followed rapidly by highly-unpleasant weather conditions); so long as he kept an eye on Micah for a little while, everything should be fine. 

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That got Pan back a blown kiss - and then something interesting as his phone began glowing brightly. 

 

Gradually next to his bed, a familiar figure began to take shape. Eira was wearing a big, billowing black T-shirt with the words POWERWOLF emblazoned across the chest and tight black jeans, a cocky smile on her face as her blue-white hair came into focus. Well, almost entirely. If Pan looked closely, very closely, especially with his powers, he could literally see right through her. 

 

"Hello there, my little sovande skönhet," she said with a smile, leaning down to peck him on the lips, her barely-there touch like a firefly's lightning. "I was worried I'd get _bored_ tonight," she complained, "but then I realized the new hologenerator could bring me right to you." 

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Pan, for his part, was wearing far less. Just a pair of shorts that he slept in. Then again, he was really there. At least he thought he was. It was all so difficult to decide some times. He tilted his phone a bit, just to see what would happen, if Eira's image would move or not.

 

"Hello there," he replied, before returning the kiss. It was not really there, just a faint touch of light. "I thought that something was different about you, but could not quite place it." He shifted lightly, leaning a bit closer. "It is not like you to be quite this transparent!"

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Eira wobbled distinctly when Pan moved the phone, but stabilized quickly. "I am never shy about getting what I want," she told him. "and you are very lucky I have no nausea reflex." She looked him up and down, seeming to like what she saw, then reluctantly glanced Micah's way. "So how soundly does he sleep?

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"I had to try to see what would happen!" Pan defended himself, still grinning widely, making no movement to change his position while Eira looked him up and down.

 

He frowned lightly, looking over at Micah at the question. "Like a feather. He is having a calm night tonight, at least. Nightmares and thunder storms are not a good mix." 

 

A quick glance at the window. "Of course, this would not be the first time I made my escape, if you had something in mind."

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Micah had tossed a bit more as the two lovebirds spoke; he didn't seem to hear them, but it was also clear this was a bad night. He'd always been a lighter sleeper, Pan had had plenty of chances to observe that. But after the Valentine's Incident, it had gotten worse; Micah had confided in Pan shortly before summer break that he hadn't told his mother then. When they had a moment away from her cookie-infused love of both of "her boys", the weather-controller confessed he still hadn't told her. Which likely didn't help matters...

 

"No...stay away from her...don't...don't..."

 

Micah's movements became stronger, and even with the lessening of her inherent sense of technology, Eira could feel the inhibitors on his body ramping up. There was a spike in their power output...

 

"STAY AWAY FROM MY MOTHER!"

Micah shot up almost ramrod-straight in his bed; his eyes flew open even as his right hand shot up, palm-forward. He was breathing heavily, covered in a sheen of sweat despite wearing a tank top and having light covers over himself. He ran a hand over his face with a loud sigh.

 

"Sorry about that Pan, didn't mean to wake you u-"

 

Micah had started to talk without looking at his roommate. Mid-sentence, he'd noticed a strange amount of light in the room, and had turned to look at Pan. At which point he saw Eira. Hence freezing mid-sentence. Micah blinked several times before speaking again, this time more softly.

 

"Eira. I'm not running to the teachers or anything, but what are you doing in our room right now?"

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Eira's eyes widened as she stared at Micah, having moved automatically to place her projection between Pan and his night-terror-raddled roomate. When he addressed her she cocked her head and stared at him, eyes unfocused, blue-tinted hair falling loose behind her head. "I am not in your room right now," she whispered cooly. Sure enough, on closer inspection, Micah could see Pan and the wall behind through her. "Do you need medical attention?" she asked, uncertainty briefly creeping into her voice. "Is your mother well?

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Pan raised an eyebrow at Eira in an obvious "see?" statement, before standing up, casually moving a hand through Eira.

 

"See, she is not here at all. It is all just a very advanced phone call." His tone was matter of fact, like it was the most obvious and normal thing in the world. He looked at Eira, seeming at once surprised and not surprised at her reaction. 

 

"Did you dream about her again?" He had learn not to speak the name. The worry was clear in his voice.

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Micah took several moments to catch his breath. At Eira and Pan both saying she "wasn't there", he just gave them both flat, unamused looks. His attitude softened a bit at her concerned questions.

 

"I'm okay. Just...a bad nightmare. Borderline night terror. I get them occasionally. It's part of why I wear the dampeners. I haven't reached the point with my control that I can 'turn off' my powers when I sleep. I almost leveled my house and town when my powers first manifested and I had a nightmare. My...one of the Barnstormers dissipated the storm in time, and it didn't take long for the Headmistress to reach out to us. And my mother's fine, she was just in the dream."

 

He turned to Pan at his roommate's worried inquiry. For a few moments he just looked back, before he nodded.

 

"Yeah. She was...she was going after my mother."

 

He turned back to Eira.

 

"What have you heard about the incident on-campus on Valentine's Day last year?"

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"The psionic parasite? Yes, I am familiar with the incident," said Eira, sounding vaguely dismissive. "Such things are a concern but they are of no matter to me," she added. "I have no heart for it to take." She tapped the center of her chest, then shot Pan a quick grin. She was silent for a while, considering Micah's words, then said, "I am sure it must have been difficult. But it is unlikely such a creature would travel as far as your home to threaten your family," she offered, "there are much more appetizing targets here in Freedom City." 

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"That depends on what she wanted, does it now?" Pan said. "You mentioned that it kept saying something about you and Felix ruining the story. Perhaps it wanted the love story more than the heart? It had to have reasons for coming for Claremont, instead of the city at large, at least." He grinned briefly at Eira. "Besides, if it came to steal your heart, it would have to take it from me first."

 

His tone quickly serious again after the quick comment, he returned to Micah. By now, he was sitting cross-legged in front of Micah, resting his elbows on his legs, and his face on his hands. "What did you dream?"

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Micah stared at the wall; it seemed to help him stay calm and focused, more than looking either his roommate or said roommate's girlfriend in the eye would. 

 

"She latched onto Felix as easily to me; if you'd been single, I wouldn't just assume you weren't vulnerable, Eira. You have enough of a heart to come sneaking in our room after hours."

 

The hint of a ghost of a smile graced his face, and fell away just as quickly.

 

"Her last words to us were 'One day you will love me'. And one of the main things that helped break me out of her control, spell, whatever, was people reminding me that my beliefs mattered, and the thoughts and opinions of my parents mattered. That my mother's concern, and my father's advice, mattered. My mother, effectively, helped break her spell."

 

At Pan's question, Micah's gaze lowered from the wall behind his roommate, to his roommate's own eyes. Pan saw in Micah's gaze a cocktail of fear, sadness, and hints of rage.

 

"I was at home. Visiting my mother for Thanksgiving. That's when the whole Roebuck clan gathers at my father's parents' house. Me, mom, both sets of grandparents, my cousin Janet and her parents, and others. Like, twenty of us total. Grandma and grandpa have a big table. We were sitting down, just eating, and there was a flash of light."

 

He paused and closed his eyes; Eira and Pan saw his hands shake even as he clenched them together.

 

"Janet stood up, shouted something about everyone getting to the other room. Flash flash flash flash. They were...burned. Half my family, just...laying there. I stood up, my mom ran to the other room. A big flash, and Janet was on the ground. The house just exploded. It's just me and my mom. There's a figure of light, and I know it's Alice. Her voice wasn't human. She said 'Only one obstacle left before you love me', and raised her hands."

 

He opened his eyes and took a deep breath.

 

"And then I woke up."

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"That is hard," said Eira, her holographic hands folded in her lap, sympathy in her simulated voice. "You should see a therapist." She shot a glance at Pan. Eira did not dream and had not since she was a small child with an organic brain; something that had come up occasionally in their conversations. "Our memories of what we have done and what we have felt are what makes us a person. Understanding them and...coming to terms with them will make you feel safer." She smiled thinly and added, "Whatever it is that powers my..feelings, it is not the same as what powers yours. She would have as much luck taking the love of a character in a video game. That is not something I worry about," she lied.  

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Pan seemed to think it over some. He raised an eyebrow at Eira's, but didn't comment on it. He knew little of this world's therapists, whatever that was. Maybe it would be the choice to make, maybe it would not. He noted Eira's little lie, but had no reason to talk to her about that here. No, this was about Micah.

 

"She was powerful, yes? Did not seem like someone that would just stop? She affected your mind, your feelings, made you think what she wanted?" He paused briefly, like he was trying to figure out what to say. "So she makes you scared? Or angry? Maybe a bit of both?"

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"I...I talked to one of the school counselors a couple of times. But...he said that more than two meetings would mean we needed to talk to my mom about it. And I'm just..."

 

He hugged his knees closer and closed his eyes; his head tilted forward and rested his forehead on his knees.

 

"I'm ashamed, Pan. I feel like being fooled for even a couple of minutes by 'Alice' betrayed her, somehow. I...it's fuzzy, foggy, but I remember what I was saying and doing and feeling. I felt ready to just...forget and set aside everything they taught me, all the values and beliefs my parents didn't just 'teach' me but showed me and talked with me about. The counselor said she was using some kind of mind control, but part of me feels like that's just an excuse. I feel almost...dirty."

 

He raised his head at Pan's question about how he felt about Alice. Pan knew by now how thoroughly the devices Micah wore shut down his powers. Which was why he might feel the tiniest flicker of concern as the Oklahoma boy's eyes, usually as brown as fresh, living earth, were as green as the lightning commanded.

 

"I hate her, Pan. She scares me; the thought of what she might do to people I love scares me to the middle of my soul. But the way she reached in and took hold? It makes me angry. I've literally never hated anyone in my life. But I hate her. She made me almost hurt, or worse, someone that I actually lo-"

Here he stopped, blushed, and looked at the way, not wanting to meet either Pan or Eira's gaze.

 

"-like. Someone, some people, that I actually like. And am friendly with. Friends. I don't like risking hurting friends."

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Eira blinked a few times, studying Micah, sitting in that cool immobility that came from lacking a nervous system that would compel her to shift about unnecessarily. "There are psionic heroes who could empower your mind if you are interested," she offered. "The Blue Fox is one of my aunts. I could take you to her castle and she could help you improve your mind." That was Eira, the others knew - if there was a solution to the problem, one moved towards it. "In fact," she said suddenly, "we could perhaps go there now, if you are interested. It is heroic business after all." 

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"You were not at fault, Micah." Pan's voice was calm, solemn. So unlike his usual self. "No matter what it feels like, it was not you. It was what she made her."

 

He let his feet drop, planting them firmly on the ground. "Are you angry? Do you hate? Good."

 

His voice was rising. Growing louder, more forceful. It was a slow, gradual process, it was building.

 

"Be angry! Hate! Rage and scream and let it all out!"

 

His voice was like thunder now, so much like Micah's. He didn't even seem to notice that Eira was there for a moment. "Do not be ashamed for how you feel! You have every right to feel the way you do! Scream at the heavens! Bring your lightning and thunder! Are you afraid of hurting someone? Then we go somewhere remote, somewhere far away where you will not hurt anyone!"

 

He was grinning triumphantly by now.

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Micah stayed very still for several moments after Pan finished. Then, a tremor passed through his body, and Eira felt his power dampeners experience a brief surge. Pan saw his eyes glow green again.

 

"I need a mountain."

 

For a moment, that quote simply hung in the air. Then Micah looked back and forth between Pan and Eira.

 

"I need a tall mountain. Whatever the tallest, barest mountain in the Appalachians is. If I take these off and fly, I know I can make it that far without cutting loose. But I need a mountain, or mountains, to blunt the effects. Mountain ranges already block and alter weather patterns. I can use that when I'm done, to prevent major issues for anyone."

 

He looked at Eira.

 

"Eira, I...can you check if there are any major storm systems near the East Coast? Primarily from further inland."

 

He gave her a long look before he continued, his voice hinting, very slightly, at the amount of restraint he was currently placing on himself and his powers.

 

"If this doesn't help me at all, we'll go talk to your Aunt. Or maybe even if it does. Yeah. I just need to...let off some steam, first."

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Eira blinked a few times, looking levelly at Micah and said, "Mount Washington is closer and more geographically visible but mounted by a working observatory. Mount Mitchell is further away but the top is less populated. High Point State Park in New Jersey is 175 miles to the north." She considered that, then said, "I will be on the roof when you boys are ready. See you soon." She smiled at Pan and blew him a kiss before abruptly winking out into nothingness. 

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