Book VI Chapter 22: Thorny Bastards
"You two... are an item?"Gabrielsqueaked, tilting his head asNa'thanandEvaembraced beside the table.
"Don't say it like that, Gabe," Eva started. "Is that alright with--"
"Eva, shh, shh. He didn't mean anything by it. He didn't know how well we know each other; I couldn't say anything in Aensdoun.Organizationprotocol."
Eva sighed a bit, stepping aside so Na'th could pull chairs before sitting beside him. "Sorry. Listen, Gabe-- I've been pretty rough with you. I wanted to apologize for that... getting away from home, I was kinda in a bad way, and you sort of... have this way of seeming to have everything thrown at you and getting out on top, you know?
"It was a little infuriating to watch from where I was, hah."
Gabe just shook his head. "No, no. It's okay. People have hidden problems all the time... I didn't hold any of that against you. How could I? I didn't know what your life was like away from the lab."
Na'th grinned a bit. "Besides, Eev, I think a lot of the people who work with Gabby feel like that, too. It just comes with the classification."
"The classification? And what classification would that be?" she asked, thanking the waiter as he arrived with their drinks and taking hers in hand.
Gabe fidgeted; Na'than paused, waiting for the waiter to exit the room and close the door.
"The Master's been sharing the reports fromSplitchawith me," he explained. "They get all kinds ofpsychictalent coming through there; people are classed by type and a number, to differentiate between how their powers manifest and how strong they are.
"Now, I know I can trust you two not to take anything I say here outside of this room, yeah?"
Eva and Gabe agreed.
"Good! So," he leaned forward. "Types are irrelevant, in this case-- sort of. Gabe's a beacon, which is generally understood to be a passive talent; no flashy stuff, at least not coming from the psychic's side.
"But! As far as the power scale goes, mm. We've got our best guys testing him--"
Gabe whimpered faintly.
"-- and out of a ten-grade scale, he's a seven."
Eva whistled. "That's pretty impressive, Gaunthier."
"I dunno. I'm still just a magnet with feet--"
"Hah, but it gets better," Na'th insisted. "See, the scale goes from one to ten-- ignoring zero, which implies no psychic talent whatsoever.
But seven is the highest rank anyone's ever gotten to, save one."
Gabriel rose an eyebrow. "Huh? Then why stop at seven? That seems a bit inefficient..."
"Eight and nine exist for the sake of scale-- the difference between seven and ten is greater by magnitudes. But the point is, you're hot stuff. And that level of ability isn't something that can be hidden, by anyone or anything.
"Remember that dragon in Aensdoun?"
"Or that thing in those rui--"
"HEY." Na'th pointed at him. "There are limits here, too. Some things shouldn't be mentioned aloud, end of."
"...right. Sorry," he said sheepishly as Eva eyed them both. "Anyway, I guess this is why everyone treats me like they do, huh? Everyone but you andDr. Dreamscar.
"If everyone thinks I'm a waste of space with some crazy magic power..."
He remembered thestern researcherat Splitcha with the ice-blue eyes and the petvoluxi, and wondered if he enjoyed putting him through grueling and deadly tests-- at least, up until the point that he managed to pass them safely.
That man never seemed to stop glaring accusatorily at him, as though Gabe had murdered his parents or something...
"If it makes you feel any better, Gabe, you're not alone," Eva said, setting a hand on the brunette's shoulder. "I'm not some crazy psychic, but I am awerewolfnow... they're apparently pretty damn rare outside of... certain controlled cases," she said cautiously as Na'th tilted his head.
"There are some guys in the Organization who seem to want nothing less than a chance at tearing me into chunks for their research..."
"Hey, what? Anom was supposed to be toning that shit down," Na'than growled. "Is he still giving you trouble, Eva?"
"Giving me trouble? No, not at all. Na'th, he thought you were as good as dead, and he has no idea about... us. He got right back to laying into me the moment he heard you were comatose."
She fell silent, clenching a fist. "As long as he has thatsceptre, I'm his little bitch... that's just it. Unless you can convince your master to do something about it."
Somehow, the admission didn't make Gabe feel any better.
"I don't think he knows yet," Na'th admitted, stroking her hair gently, "and I'm going to make damn sure that that changes..."
"I hate to interrupt, guys," Gabe said, rising to his feet with a weary sigh, "but I have another appointment at Splitcha with the good Dr. Giers."
"Good luck," Eva said. "If he keeps giving you a hard time, maybe you should threaten to blow up his fox."
"Somehow, I don't think that'd endear him to me any more," Gabe murmured as he made his way out.
Na'th sighed and shook his head, turning back to Eva. "Listen, can you keep a secret about Gabe? I should probably warn you, since the Master pretty much does it with all sevens, it's just a matter of when.
"It can be pretty jarring, and he's gonna need every friend he can get..."
Next Chapter: Book VI Chapter XXIII
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