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Kristin looked up from her book with a smile and called out "Hey Elias!"

Elias had, she was aware, been avoiding her since the unsavory incident with Kat's room. Perhaps worse, he'd been avoiding Kat as well and Kristin was eager to settle any bad blood between the two. Reconciliation between the pair seemed like a good idea given the situation - while Elias might have crossed a line in his efforts he had clearly been trying to help, and Kat's violent response was obviously a reaction to the stress of an awful situation.

The problem then, was how to get the pair to be in the same place at the same time. Kat was reasonably easy, she was about due to arrive in the gym, ostensibly for a friendly sparring session. Elias had proved to be rather more difficult and rather adept at avoiding people, and as a result Kristin had been forced to set up an ambush. She knew the telepathic teen was in the library to study, so she had simply set up camp near the exit where he would have to walk past her.

"Don't you think it's about time we got together in the gym again?" she asked with a grin. "You know we can both benefit from testing out that telekinetic trick of yours and I've got a couple more ideas I want to try out on how to maybe extend it."

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He drew to an abrupt stop, looking at her flatly for a moment. Then he just sighed and shook his head. He knew she was up to something, but then he knew it was kind of insulting to inquire as to her true intent, just like it would be to sweep her surface thoughts. So he just nodded. "Fine." Of course he had an armload of books, being a bit of a resident nerd among his year at the school, despite his little to no formal education, though biology had been amusing, as he had done the dissection without some much as a batted eye, and with a disturbing amount of efficiency. Which they were still having a hard time placing him, because his knowledge tended to be erratic and all over the place. He moved with Kristin, walking towards the gym. "What are you planning." There was a small beat, before he continued, "You are better with this than I am."

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Kristin bounced to her feet and fell into step with Elias to walk out the door.

"Did you want to drop those off first?" she asked as she eyed the armload of books Elias was carrying rather dubiously. "Actually, bring them along, they might come in handy. I figure the next step for you is to start using your telekinetic abilities to try lifting and moving objects, the books will be great for that. Next step for me, well I've been trying to expand my ability to feel things around me with my telekinesis. I'm hoping you might be able to help out with that."

The young Australian give Elias a grin. She could tell that he was suspicious, but she hadn't felt any attempts to read her thoughts and she was pleased that he hadn't done so. "I didn't really have any specific plans for how to go about it. I figured we could just make it up as we go" she said in her best innocent tone.

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Of course he was suspicious. He was always suspicious. Altruism was not something he had felt in his life. His mother's reason for running from New Freedom and taking him was as much drive by spite and fear as it was for concern about him. But, right now, he had no reason to doubt her, no reason to question her motives. So he gave her the benefit of the doubt. He had taken to wearing gloves, as there had been some scarring in the incident with Subito, and he didn't really like any additional reasons to be stared at.

"Alright. My room is in the opposite direction of the gym." She knew that apart from the gym he was in the library, his room, or the meditation garden. He just never stuck to a schedule, and he pushed himself insanely hard. Training not just with her, but with Eve, and Mali, in addition to what he was doing on his own. So continued along with her to the gym. Not entirely certain how to do it, but then he had some recently moments of burning clarity about his abilities.

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Kristin chatted on about telekinetic mechanics as the pair made the - thankfully short - walk to the gym. As they arrived she used a light mental pull to open the door, then grabbed hold of it to keep it open and ushered Elias inside. "Okay, I might have been planning something..." she admitted as the none-too-complicated plot became plainly obvious.

"Hey Kat," she called out to the diminutive girl. "I brought another friend along too, I hope you don't mind. Figured you two might benefit from having a little chat after how your last meeting went."

The Australian teen was actually pretty tense as she headed into the gym, ready to spring between the two if Kat reacted badly to Elias. It seemed unlikely, but they hadn't exactly gotten along so well last time..

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When Kristin had come to her about doing a little sparring, Kat had jumped on the chance, not so much for the fighting as the spending time with Kristin that came along with. She found something snug and breathable to wear and got there early to do her stretches on the mat and squeeze some of the tension out of her limbs. When Kristin threw open the door Kat was facing the other wall in full splits.

Kat waved back in the general direction of the door. "One sec!" Pushing herself up off the floor, she turned all smiles and cheer. "Hey Kristin," she said, opened her mouth to say something more when her eyes found Elias, and just like that the smile went poof, like mist in morning. She made her stance a little wider and crossed her arms.

She very much did mind. Of course Kris would have tried to get them to make up; she was way too nice. It was her fault for not realizing. Kat sighed. "This was never gonna be about sparring, was it?"

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Elias stopped, standing still for what seemed like forever, and then he looked to Kristin. He opened his mouth, about to say something, but he just closed it, and then closed his eyes. "Body language, closed, challenging." His tone neutral when he narrated that bit. "Nothing I can say will matter. Please don't do this again Kristin." Not that Elias was particularly skilled at hiding his feelings. His voice strained, slightly, the closest to an actual emotion he had expressed thus far. He turned and walked away back towards the door, having no urge to fight, to struggle over this topic.

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"You can punch me later." Kristin replied to Kat, then wheeled to face Elias as he headed for the door. "Elias, you get your butt back in here, now!" she demanded in a voice that carried an unmistakeable tone of steely determination which seemed rather at odds with the usually light-hearted personality of the Australian girl.

"So you got off on the wrong foot," she spat as she looked back and forth between the pair. "Get over it!"

She folded her arms across her chest as she fixed her gaze on Elias. "You can't hide from anything you think is a problem for the rest of your life," she pointed out. "You think I haven't noticed you avoiding me? Avoiding her? Hiding in the library or the Zen garden isn't a solution. You're not comfortable with people, I get that. One of the reasons you're at this school is to get better at it. With people comes conflict. You tried to help, in a way you did help, but in other ways you made the situation worse. It happens. Deal with it."

"You," she continued in the same harsh tone as she turned on Kat. "Have glared daggers at him every time he's happened to be anywhere near you. Like you think it was his fault or something. News flash, it wasn't and he just tried to help you. You punched him in the face for it. Sure, it was a stressful situation, sure he invaded your privacy when that was the last thing you wanted. But those aren't reasons, they're excuses. If you think what you did was right or justified then maybe you ought to take a good hard look at yourself."

Green light flickered faintly around the Australian teen as she stood between the pair, still ready to intercept any actual violence that might break out. "I'm not saying you have to be best of friends, I am saying that you both screwed up. So what are you both going to do about it?"

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Everything was ruined. Everything was falling to pieces. It was going to be nice and pleasant with maybe a little talk and fun and now it was all this. Kat shook her head and ran a hand over her face. Couldn't Kristin see? "I'm sorry I hit a boy peeking into the heads of a whole floor of girls out of it, once." Kat said through her teeth, don't you see why I'm right?

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Elias could allow a lot of leash for these sort of things, a lot. Then there was a point where his emotional conditioning failed him, where he just had it. And he turned slowly, and dipped into a crouch to set his books down, and shrugged off his backpack. No sense in anything in it getting broken. And then he walked over towards them his eyes level with both of them. His head inclined forward, as if he really wasn't paying attention to what was happening. That was far from the truth.

"I have avoided you because I did not want to associate myself with you or Kat, because she was afraid of their being a connection formed in the minds of others. A connection I know will be made. I made an error in how I helped. I do not regret what I did. Even if I never get to forget it. I got my lectures, and I had to make promises. But I don't get to forget those feelings crawling in my head forever. I don't forget anything. I don't get to turn my powers off. So if I don't feel comfortable spending time in the presence of someone who hates me, I am allowed. If I want to be alone, because I am trying to shut all of you people, your fears, your insecurities, out of my mind, I am allowed!"

His heart was beating loudly, all he could hear was the rush of blood to his ears now. It sounded like the ocean. Still he pressed on. He was angry.

"I can't run from memories, from someone else's fear and anger and hate in my head. Do you know what feels like? I can... I can...!" His words dying his throat as he was so angry. Elias was not a scary person, but as he got angrier it started to... leak out, to spill over Like whispers at the backs of their minds, inarticulate little things as he advanced to them both, his face still twisted about in rage.

And then it was gone, and he looked tired, just.. exhausted. There was more, it was clear he was just cutting himself off, and closing himself up again. Despite him wanting to talk or something. "And it doesn't matter. You aren't listening. You've both made up your mind and I don't have the words to change them. I will respect your wishes and stay away." And he walked back to his books and backpack. Capitulation was always the easiest path, and it made him sick to his stomach at that realization, and the adrenaline coursing through his veins.

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Kristin winced inwardly as Elias described what it was like to live with his abilities. She had known that they were problematic at times, but she knew that she had just seen a glimpse of what it must be like. It was no wonder that the boy was so solitary. She hoped that Eve and Vrix could help him get a handle on things, and made a mental note to call the young Frenchwoman later - likely she already knew the extent of the troubles Elias dealt with, but it couldn't hurt to check.

With her arms folded across her chest she looked over at Kat. "He wasn't peeking into the heads of girls, he was finding out who attacked you." she pointed out. "And he did it knowing he would suffer for it. You still think you're so right that you don't need to talk it through?"

She eyed the younger girl impassively. While she still thought the pair needed to work through their differences she wasn't going to push the issue further - there wasn't any point in making Elias suffer further if Kat was just going to rage at him - so she just let the telepath walk away.

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There were a lot of things Kat had to deal with without a real frame of reference since she'd come to Claremont. Power pity parties were just one of them. Here at least, Kat didn't feel entirely out of her depth; she didn't have much experience with telepaths, but she'd heard teenager's talk about how hard life was. It was an appeal; listen to me, here are my problems, now give me what I want, please and thank you.

To be fair, he was probably alone in dealing with it most of the time. It probably kept him up at night. Distanced him from people he might call friend. But it was a good thing that the appeal was aimed at Kristin, because Kat knew these things, and she did not care. Kat felt a little of the tension evaporate away and breathed a little easier, and that was all that mattered.

Kat put her hands on her hips and measured Kristin with her eyes. She weighed words in her head for a moment. "Hero boy meant well." Kat acknowledged and dismissed it with a shrug. "So what? He wanted to find out who did it. So what?! He knew it'd get on his rap sheet. So what?!"

"Did'ya think he never thought, with that antenna for a brain, that there were a ton of people who didn't do anything? You think he couldn't tell I didn't want him there?" Kat shook her head. "He knew. Just didn't care. Really believed that stomping over me, over everyone, was okay, if he just nabbed the bad guy. Still does."

She scrunched her face up in a flat, stiff characterture of Elias. "'I don't regret it.' Did you not hear that? That sort of thing happens again, only difference is he'll go lone wolf so no one falls with him and no one stops him. Why he did it doesn't matter!" Kat held up her hands, looked up at Kristin with big eyes, her voice wavering like a child in front of the bogey man. "He's not safe, Kristin."

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She was right. He wasn't safe, he knew that. He remembered the conditioning, the indoctrination, and then what came next. He never felt bad for what happened, or felt that others should be sorry. All he was trying to do was explain to Kristin why he didn't want to be around Kat. He closed his eyes, and he rocked a bit, and he smiled a little bit, laughing then, as he shouldered his backpack, and turned to them both. "You don't even know what I did, I shouted into a room and looked for who lifted their head. All I felt was just the reaction to what I shouted. I controlled how far I reached, only on that floor. So don't hide behind some sort of moral outrage. You are only half mad at me for that, you are as mad for what happened to you. I am convenient scapegoat for your anger because she is gone, and because I did something wrong. I am sorry, not because I got punished, I am sorry for actually doing harm to you. I didn't consider the consequences, I acted rashly." His voice soft as he looked at Kat, no longer aimed at Kristin.

"I don't hate you, I wont ever hate you. I don't fear you. Though you are right, I am more dangerous than you. I never had the normal life you did, I don't have the same compass you did, a rudder to guide me. So I can't be sad for it's loss. I was raised to survive, and that is a selfish mindset, so I must consciously choose to do good, even if costs me. It doesn't help that I came into this world with these powers, powers I don't hate. They are a part of me, always have been, and I don't hate myself. But I have never been safe. I have seen the worst in the people for years, but I have no malice." He closed the distance between him and Kat, slowly, as he walked right up to her, unafraid of her. "I know you held back when you punched me. I know you could have shattered my jaw or worse. And I am not afraid of you. Because I know fear. I know it is conjured by us to fill empty spaces, it doesn't exist, unless we choose it to. I chose a long time ago to not let consume me. But I have to correct you, there are no lone wolves, only a wolf that was kicked out of their pack." He hooked his thumbs under the shoulder straps of his backpack as his eyes studied her. "People's circumstances are only as different as they imagine it to be, like you echoing what Dorothy said about you, just to me."

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Kristin reached out to put a hand on Kat's shoulder and opened her mouth to speak - then shut it quickly when Elias rejoined the conversation. She looked over at him and gave the younger girl a reassuring squeeze on her arm as he walked back over. As she listened to Elias she chewed on her bottom lip, rather relieved that he seemed more relaxed and willing to engage Kat in conversation. Now if she could just get Kat to relax a little...

"And what do you think Dorothy said about you to the headmaster behind closed doors after Vrix dragged her out of the dorm, Kat?" she asked quietly. "None of us are really safe if you look at it a certain way. I'm a mutant, I can lift a cargo ship just by thinking at it real hard. You can be wherever you like in an instant, you hit like a truck, he's a telepath and he struggles with some things most people take for granted because of how he was brought up."

She looked back and forth between the pair and gave Kat another squeeze on the shoulder. "When I first came here I couldn't have a roommate and everything in my room had to be screwed to the floor," she said. "Every time I had a dream stuff rattled around like crazy. Even when I got a roommate I scared the hell out of her a couple of times. We're all here to get better at what we're bad at. I don't move stuff in my sleep anymore. You've got your teleporting nailed down. Elias won't barge into a girl's room again. When he says he doesn't regret it I don't think he means 'I would do the same thing again', I think he means 'I did it, there's no point in dwelling on it, I'll do better next time. Right Elias?"

"So he screwed up, he hurt you even," she finished with a little edge to her tone. "Do you judge him forever? Brand him monster and be done with it?" It was a cheap shot to use Dorothy's words and Kristin knew it, but she wanted Kat to think on it. "Or do you give him a chance to learn from the mistake?"

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If Kristin had been scowling when she said it, Kat could have excused her as being to angry, but she was smiling and her touch was gentle in the way a comforting friend's was. If Elias had been mad Kat could have rolled her eyes and dismissed him as spiteful and treacherous. But he was not. Kat closed her eyes and breathed a uneven breath.

Dorothy's vandalism had been nothing. Not by itself. It'd been like a letter in the mail, a note slipped under the doorframe. 'Get out. You're a monster. You're not safe.'



Kat looked like a girl who'd realized she'd flushed a live goldfish. She ran a hand over her face, too late to hide it. Her mouth opened and closed. When she'd first come to Claremont over the summer, she'd needed her own rooms, with heavy nullifiers. Between awakening powers and learning to make them do what she wanted, she could've slipped and woke up in the Arab deserts, or disintegrated whatever she was sleeping on. And even now . . . well, learning to make it do what she wanted could never change the nature of what her powers really were.

She held her arms stiff by her sides. Kristin was not a monster. Elias was not a monster. Biting down on the inside of her lip, she looked between Kristin and Elias. The least accusing accusers she'd ever seen. "Okay," she choked. "Okay." She lifted Kristin's hand off her shoulder and stepped toward Elias.

By then she'd managed to smooth her expression over, a little, a least. "I said awful things." Kat held a hand out toward Elias, breathing in deep. "I'm . . . sorry."

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"Hi, I'm Elias, I'm from New Freedom. I'm not easy to get along with." He took her hand, shaking it, a little awkwardly, and whatever he had screwed together to be able talk that much kind of faded at this point. He left his hand fall from hers. "So... forgiven." And he looked down and shrugged a little, before glancing to Kristin, expecting a little self-satisfied expression the happy telekinetic's face. He had more rant, but it wasn't really needed now, wouldn't do any good. Besides, he'd tell them more as needed. Already had learned, from talking with others, that apparently his childhood was more than a little deviated from the norm. Not that anyone in this school could really complain overmuch on that. All of their childhoods were off.

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Kristin breathed a small sigh of relief as she watched her two friends apologize and shake hands. She hadn't really been sure how to get them past the initial hostilities, but everything seemed to have turned out quite nicely. She gave Elias a small grin when he looked at her, then decided to break the remaining tension properly. "Alright, I expect I deserve a punching or two for being so sneaky and manipulative to drag the pair of you here," she chuckled. "So how about we get a few rounds of sparring in? I chose the gym for a reason after all!"

She grinned at Elias again. "And once Kat gets too tired from kicking our butts around the ring I do have a couple of ideas to try with that telekinesis of yours."

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"Damn right you do," Kat said, but there was no heat in it. "Get your stretches done and let's go." She took the excuse to turn away and marched on bare feet toward an empty, dark-colored square on the mat, reaching back out of habit to check and double-check her hair tie. She'd heard that Kristin did Judo, but Kat wasn't sure what that meant. It didn't seem like martial arts liked tangling with each other much outside of MMA, and Kat did not care about MMA.

Kat stood in the square and kept anyone else from deciding they wanted to take it, leaned forward as deep as she could on her right leg and touched the top of its foot. The stretch looked smooth and practiced, and she cycled through more, and when that was done she cycled through more.

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He pursed his lips a little, and then sighed a little, as he unshouldered his backpack and let it slide to the ground. "Alright." And with that he leaned forward, and stretched. His arms wrapped around his legs as he brought his face down to his knees and held it for a moment. Then he uncoiled and started bouncing from one foot to the other as he looked at them. "I am still learning..." The way he watched them, it wasn't just what she was used to. Elias had an unwitting way of being a little unnerving, of looking like he was dissecting someone. Not with any malice, just like he was working out the various outcomes. He shook his arms as he kept hopping, kept moving, changing his base, keeping his stance fluid, anticipatory.

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Kristin grinned at Kat's tone as she peeled off her jacket, then dug into her back to retrieve a couple of pairs of padded sparring gloves. "Here try these," she said as she tossed a pair to the pint-sized teleporter. "Means you won't have to hold back quite so much to avoid breaking my jaw. Elias do you want to let us go first? You can pick up some pointers by watching, then we can rotate through so everybody gets a go."

Reasonably limber the Australian didn't take too long to complete her stretches, and she donned her own gloves then grabbed a mouthguard from her bag as well. Green light flickered around her as she moved to stand opposite Kat. "I'll use my barriers to absorb your shots so you can hit harder," she explained. "Just hand to hand though, I won't use any telekinesis apart from that."

She wasn't holding any illusions about her ability to compete with Kat hand to hand. While her Judo and the training she participated in at Claremont held her in good stead against unpowered opponents she knew full well that meta-humans were a completely different matter. With her defenses in place however she could at least make herself a good training partner.

"You ready?" she asked with another smile.

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Kat smiled, catching Kristin's gloves out of the air and murmuring a thanks as she stood up from her stretches. She slipped them on—a little big, Kat thought, but not worth rejecting. Kat stood sideways, standing where memory told her she should. "On three, then," Kat said, her body miming a bow like it was the most natural thing in the world. She fell back into an easy stance. "One, two . . . Three."

Her first instinct was to kick, but those hadn't been padded like her hands had been. Kat couldn't judge the strength of Kris' barrier. What if it wasn't strong enough? She slipped in, quick and close and gave it an experimental hit, but it became quickly clear the jab'd been far better at hitting her target than doing anything worth mentioning to it; did less than Kat had expected, actually. It was difficult to push through Kris' defenses—the field's strong enough, she thought, her mouth quirking up with the hint of a smile, her eyes going a little narrower.

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He shrugged and slowly crouched down, and untied his shoes then, waiting. He breathed slowly, feeling them, their weight shift and move. He didn't believe himself to have much of a chance of winning. But then, this wasn't about winning. He settled into a kneeling position before he opened his eyes and watched them. Intently. But then, it has been noted that Elias seem to hold no interest in other people in that way. Of course he had explain to Subito why, plus as a telepath he had a... dim view of people sometimes.

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Kristin smiled as the testing jab bounced off her telekinetic barrier instead of off her nose. She was pleased that Kat was sensible enough to start out with a test instead of trying to take her head off, but she was also sure that her defenses could withstand far more power than that.

"You can hit a bit harder than that if you like," she noted as she circled to her left and then moved forwards behind a couple of jabs that went nowhere near hitting her skilled little opponent. "I'll let you know if you're getting close to breaking through. And a few bruises never hurt anyone anyway."

Still moving forwards she flicked out a roundhouse kick at Kat's leg - it was fairly quick, but in the spirit of friendly sparring there wasn't much venom behind it at all.

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Kat took a step backward with Kris' first jab, that's her reach, some part of her noted, and she dodged and ducked by inches rather than let Kris drive and seize the flow of the combat. She paid for it when Kris went after her leg, and Kat had to retreat to keep away; a little victory for Kat's senior.

Breathing even, Kat slid forward with the soft squeak of feet skidding over floor and hit Kris hard as she'd dare with an outstretched heel; usually, competitors would fold under that kind of pressure under a few blows; she felt bad using it on Kris but the shield should reduce the . . . No. She could feel it creaking under her foot, wanting but refusing to give.

No letting up, then. No holding back, then. She let her foot touch ground and got close, up in Kris' face and showered her with hard, sharp strikes with her hands. The barrier creaked and cracked and sometimes it even let Kat's strikes through, but they were feeble things with little force behind them by then.

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Kristin backstepped as Kat went on the offensive, her arms working overtime as she did her best to defend against the onslaught. While she picked off many of the strikes and even avoided some, the sheer volume, accuracy and power of the assault meant that she couldn't possibly stop them all. The force of the blows that rattled against her telekinetic barrier was quite astounding, and she was surprised when some punched through and thudded into her body.

A well timed counter-punch forced the diminutive martial artist back and gave Kristin time to reset her defenses. "Have you sparred with Mali yet?" she asked with a smile. "You two are going to get along great!"

She stepped forwards to engage again, throwing a combination of punches as she tried to set the tone and put Kat on the back foot.

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