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Cold Shoulder

Tiffany Korta

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Something had been playing on Cathy’s mind all day, well several things sometime it felt like all the things. Life in the big city was certainly a confusing mess for a girl from a tiny village from Scotland. For most people this wouldn’t cause much problem, just a quiet little girl with a wide eyed looked at everything, but when Cathy was nervous she lowered the temperature around her making it pretty obvious to anyone around her.

She’d managed to keep herself busy for a while sat on her bed doing her school work in her carefully neat handwriting, she wasn’t the smartest in a school with literary geniuses but she was diligent in keeping up with her school work. Finally she could bare it no longer and worked up the courage to say something.

“Erm Raina you okay there?” it wasn’t the smoothest of opening lines.

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"I was going to ask you the same thing," Raina replied with a wry twist in her voice, a voice that was somewhat muffled from under her pile of bedclothes. She'd gotten a half dozen extra of the thin and starchy institutional dorm blankets from somewhere, and was laying under all of them as she doodled in her journal. "I can't feel my nose, which usually means something's stuck in your craw." At Raina's desk, Merlin was operating his laptop while swimming in one of Raina's sweaters. He chirruped in agreement, rubbing his own nose with both furry paws. 

Edited by Electra
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“Aye sorry about that. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a little better control of things soon.”

She swallowed and tried to calm herself down a little, she wanted Raina advice on something but first there was something that had been playing on her mind. And as her mum said if you wanted to know something you should always go straight for the source.

“You know Madison been mouthing off again about what happened to you parents? She’s a complete scunner, but I’d like to hear the truth of it. If you don’t mind sharing.”

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There was a minute of silence from under the bedclothes, as Raina stopped doodling in her journal and was still. Across the room, Merlin ceased working as well, some sort of blueprint that involved a large vault door, possibly, and turned to regard Cathy as well. Finally Raina muttered, "Fine, but you gotta give me your blanket first." Cathy had a lovely, soft, warm cover on her bed, much nicer than anything Raina had on hers. "If I talk now, my jaw's gonna unhinge and fall off from chattering."

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As much as Cathy did like to cocoon herself in the various blankets and duvets to try and get as warm as possible, though it never quite seemed to help as much as it should, she also wanted to help Raina where she could. And the fact that she was cold was all her fault after all, she gently bundled up the blanket and tossed it over to Raina.

“Here we go that one’s pretty good, keep me warm at night.”

A thought struck her and she searched through her clothes until she found what she was looking for, a knitted hat complete with bobble.

“Here you go little Merlin, this will keep you warm as well.”

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Raina sat up and swiftly wrapped herself in the duvet, snuggling in and pulling one edge over her head so that only her face peeked out, then draped the rest of her blankets over her shoulders and lap. Merlin gave the human-size hat a curious look, then sat in it and pulled it up over his knees. "Okay," Raina said with a sigh. "You know my parents are in jail, right? They're awaiting trial on charges that they were trying to summon a greater demon from a hell dimension and gain its power, and that doing so would've put the whole world in danger. But nothing is proven, and nothing is gonna be proven, so Madison is just talking out her fat stupid mouth because she thinks having superhero parents makes her better than everybody else." 

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Cathy wasn’t built for subtle, she tended to get nervous around more confident people, but she knew for certain that a certain amount of careful handling. She was sure that if her parents had done something wrong then she’d defend them to the hilt, even of she suspected that it was true. And she definitely didn’t want to upset one of the few friends she had in this school.

"That’s good right? If they were doing nothing wrong then it should be a pretty open and shut case. The evidence must all be pretty circumstantial right?”

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Raina looked down for a minute, her nose disappearing under the cover as well. "They claim they found demonology texts and tools for wielding infernal magic," she muttered. "They claim that they found evidence of... of bad stuff my parents did, and other people had done, to gain power and wealth over the years. Like you need sacrifices and evil magic to keep the mayorship of a town of a hundred fifty people." She scoffed, but her heart just wasn't quite in it. "It's all supposed to come out at the trial, but of course they want to force a plea bargain so they don't have to show how weak the case is. That's why my folks are stuck in Blackstone, in an anti-magic field. It's like hell. You'd say almost anything just to escape." Raina shuddered. 

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Now it was like a scab, she knew she shouldn't keep picking at it, but she wanted to see the truth behind it all. And she wasn’t sure if Raina believed it all or was trying to convince herself as much as anyone.

“What do they have to say about it all? I assume that you’ve been allowed to visit.”

She was now watching Raina intently her homework, mostly done, was long forgotten.

“At the very least they must allow you Skype or e-mail and text or even just write to them.”

She didn’t know how she’d cope sometimes without her weekly chats with her mum and dad, they kept her sane and grounded at this crazy school.

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"They don't get to have any of that stuff," Raina said with a shake of her head. "They're really paranoid about magic users. No technology, no personal items. If I wrote a letter, it would get opened and read by a magic user first to make sure there were no spells hidden in it, then they'd read it to my folks so they wouldn't get to touch the paper or anything. Pretty much all they get to do is sometimes watch a TV in a different room through a glass screen. They don't even get to be together." Raina tugged on the ends of her own hair and blinked hard a few times. "I'm allowed to visit twice a month, but they don't want me to go too often. They're afraid the field will stunt my power development. And it's so creepy..." She tugged a little harder, twisting blonde strands around her fingers. "They've promised me it's not true, that they'd never do anything to put me in danger or have me taken away from them. And they've got good lawyers. I just have to wait. And not punch stupid bitches like Madison hard enough to get me sent down there with them." 

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“Oh wow that pretty bad, but hopefully things will get sorted out soon. Do you think I should start looking for a new roommate now?” Cathy managed a weak smile at her rather lame attempt to improve the mood

“Beside I wouldn’t worry about Madison to much she justs says mean things to try and upset people, most don’t even listen to her. Every school has one just like her jealous of the prettier looking more talented members of the school.”

Actually her school had never had anyone like that, beside her powers got a lot of the attention from the other kids being the only power in the area. Mostly she was pulling from the High School drama’s she’d seen on TV, and they must have some basis on truth.

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"I'd say wait till the weather gets warmer before you start looking, won't get many takers when it's already getting cold outside." Raina quipped, shrinking down further into the blankets. For a tall girl, she was surprisingly good at making herself compact. "So what's the deal with the cold, anyway?" she asked. "I mean sometimes you have control and the room feels normal, and sometimes it's fifty-five degrees and I can feel hypothermia setting in. What's going on?" 

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Cathy was more than a little relieved that Raina had changed the subject, though she was a little reluctant to talk about herself normally.

“Sorry I can't help it it just happens when I get nervous or sad or most emotions really. And I don’t notice the cold anymore, not since I changed. I don’t feel the warmth either.” there was a note of sadness in her voice.

“That why I bundle up with so many layers so I can feel any warm at all, but all I can get is a sort of meh feeling.” and true to her word the temperature began to drop a little.

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"Holy goddesses below the earth, please don't make it any colder in here," Raina begged. "Think warm thoughts. Do your meditation, or whatever. Nice, calm, relaxed, peaceful." Merlin abandoned his post on the desk and scrambled awkwardly in his oversized sweater to get on Raina's bed. She opened up the comforter enough for him to crawl in as well, completely disappearing as soon as she closed it back up. "Cause if it gets any colder, I'm going to have to start setting things on fire for warmth. What's got you nervous or sad or whatever?" 

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"Sorry, sorry! Give me a second I'll see what I can do, I won't be able to get rid of it completely."

She closed her eyes and tried to calm herself, she'd already worked out a few of her own plus what she'd be taught at the school.

"Unfortunately it can happen if I get to excited as well, normally I keep that under some kind control. Easier than when I get nervous. Is that any better now?" She looked rather hopeful that she had been successful.


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Raina cautiously stuck one hand out of the comforter and waved it around, her pretty rings glinting as they caught the lights. "Getting there," she allowed, "but it'll take a few minutes for the thermostat to catch up. Here." She hummed a nursery rhyme under her breath and flicked her ever-present lighter to life. Catching the flame in her cupped hands, she shaped it like a child might shape a snowball untill it was a pretty little globe of flame emitting a warm orange light. "If I don't let it touch anything, it shouldn't smoke enough to set off the fire alarm." The little fireball was definitely warm in the cold room, chasing away the residual chill. "There we go." 

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Cathy watch the little fireball with some fascination the pure wonder of other powers hadn’t quite worn off for her yet. She couldn’t tell how effective it was however as it’s warming effects wasn’t felt by her.

She sat on the edge of her bed hands clasped together trying her hardest to keep her powers in check.

“I’d like to ask for you advice and help on something. You always seem to have everything so together and know exactly what you want and how to get it.”

She took another few seconds to keep herself calm, even talking to Raina normally sometimes made her nervous and this was even more important than normal.

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Raina's eyebrow quirked at that assessment, and from under the comforter she could hear Merlin's sardonic chuckle. Silently she willed him to silence, or at least to less audible mirth. If Cathy wanted to believe she had her life together, who was Raina to dissuade her? She sat up a little, bringing the fireball in towards her chest like a coddled pet. It cast weird shadows over her face, but her coloring was so fair and her face so harmless, it couldn't even be described as spooky. "Go ahead," she invited, "shoot." 

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Cathy took a deep breath and began to try and explain what was going through her mind, a bit of a jumble of thoughts that seemed to spill out.

“Well I’ve had these feelings for some time and I couldn’t talk about them back home it’s not like they wouldn’t understand, it’s not like we live in the dark ages, but it’s a small village and gossip spreads like wildfire. And my parents we’re already dealing with so much with my powers, though they’d be proud either way.” She had to slow herself down a little or her accent was almost impossible to understand.

“I like girls.”

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"Well you're probably in the right place, there's a hell of a lot of 'em around here," Raina pointed out after a moment's cocked-head consideration. "Just stay away from Madison. Robin said that Riley said the first thing Madison did when she saw him was try and get a selfie with him and tell him she approved of his alternative lifestyle. She's got problems way beyond being an insuffrable bitch," she counseled. With the air thawing a little, she shrugged the blanket off her shoulders and let it pool around her crossed legs. "Are your people back home going to freak out about it, or are they cool?" 

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The truth finally out Cathy relaxed a little letting out a breath that she wasn’t aware she was holding.

“Aye it’s an all you eat buffet here, I'm spoilt for choice really. And don’t worry I’m not sure if I have a type, but I’m sure that it’s not Madison.” she gave a little laugh.

“I really don’t know how my parents will react, I mean they’ve already had to cope with a lot what we me gaining my powers. And they’ve been pretty cool with it all but as accepting as they are traditions run deep. It’s easier to accept when it’s those strange people from the Mainland rather than under your roof.”

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"You don't have to tell them right away, do you?" Raina asked, lazily beginning to juggle the ball from hand to hand. "It's not like you've got a girlfriend or anything yet, right? Maybe by the time you've actually got something to report to them that they need to know, they'll have had some more time to absorb the whole having-powers thing. It's 2015, having a gay kid isn't as weird as it used to be. I mean, I come from Bumfark Indiana and even I knew gay kids at my extremely expensive private school." 

An injudicious move of her hand brough the tip of Raina's finger into physical contact with the ball. She hissed and popped her finger into her mouth for a moment. "Anyway," she continued, her words slightly garbled, "after they dealt with the whole superpowers thing, you'd think this would be easy." 

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"I don't think I'll suddenly appear on there door with a girlfriend, not unless I meet a nice teleporter. Skaw, my home village, is the further north you can go and still be considered Scottish. It's incredibly remote and that fosters a certain... inertia."

She considered her word carefully before adding.

"My parents I have no worries about whatsoever, they love me no matter what. But there might be someone in the village who could and would hold it against them. And in such a tiny settlement that could be a really big deal. It's sounds really stupid, and it is, but I don't want my parents to go through all that."

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"Maybe they'll move," Raina offered. "Sounds like a pretty crap place to live, no offense, way up in the cold and the dark, far away from anything, in a village full of nosy assholes. They could come to Freedom City and be with you, and you'd all be happier. I don't know anything about the gay scene here, but they've got a club scene at all, so it's better than where you or I either of us came from." 

Merlin crawled out from under the blankets and stretched, careful to avoid singeing his fur on the fireball. Hiking up his sweater, he headed back to the computer, but took the time to suggest that Headmaster Summers could be an invaluable resource in helping the parents of a metahuman teenager immigrate to the US. 

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“I won’t lie it’s a harsh life but it’s a beautiful place to live with a real sense of community, apart for the odd bad seed. I don’t think my parent’s would ever want to live anywhere else. Maybe when they retire, but that a long way off.”

The talk of going to a club cause Cathy to give a look of near terror, though not for obvious reason.

“I don’t have the control to do anything like that yet, you saw what I do when I get even a little bit nervous. Back home a girl I like, Moira, gave me a little peck on the cheek and I froze a whole classroom. Just think how bad it could get if I got more erm... intimate.

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