We were all a little strung out. All a lot tired. Faelen was quiet, but he clung to Matt’s hand while I lingered with each of the boys checking on each of them. We hadn’t been far from our original camp. It was destroyed now though. Much like the first one we’d come to earlier in the trip. There wasn’t anything left, and what was there was burning. We took a break while I put out all the fires.
When I sat down completely exhausted Matt asked, “You okay?”
“I’ll be fine.” I said to him. He gave me that smile that said I know you are lying but I’ll let you maintain your dignity and not push. He was a great kid.
Faelen on the other hand spoke in a hushed whisper, “You look like shit.”
I grinned at him. “I’m just tired. I’ll be fine.” And it wasn’t really a lie. I was tired (or knackered). I was draining my power and all my reserve power was linked far away in New York. Matt put his hand on mine as it rested on the log between us. And the world just clicked into place again. The fog of sleepless nights, the drain of power left. I stared at him and saw the tiredness in his eyes and I yanked my hand from under his. “I love that you want to help me. But you need to stay strong, no one else is standing here taking the lead if something happens to me.”
Matt grinned. “And none of us will be standing here to lead if you fall. Let me take some of it from you, Nox. We’ll do better together, than separate. My mom always said she wished she could take me with her, to ground her when she needed it in the heat of the moment.”
I grinned. “You’d be dead too then.”
Matt nodded sadly. “I know. My dad blames me for it. Said I could have saved her but I was a boy, she was protecting me.”
“Like a parent should.” I said.
Matt smiled. “My dad is a good man. Like your father. Tradition engrains them. He says I have to follow mother in her footsteps. It’s why I’m here.”
“No Matt, you aren’t going to be a hunter. Not if I have any say in it. Not because I don’t think you can, cause you can. But you make better all around support. Your gift, you can help others recover quickly. You could work your magic on unsuspecting customers and they’d never know that as you relaxed them with a massage that you were healing their magics.”
“You think I should be a masseuse?”
I grinned. “No, it was an example. You are a service, not a fighter. Use that head of yours, don’t hunt. Half you boys need to find something else to do. You aren’t hunters. Patrick should be going to MIT with Jerry to study engineering. I want to see the two of you build a building that rivals the AU building or the Night Life in terms of supernatural tech. Vampires who can walk in daylight has nothing on what the two of you can accomplish.”
Patrick laughed, “My dad won’t let me do that.”
“He will. Trust me.”
Jerry asked, “Are you going to threaten our parents to make them do what you want?”
I shook my head. “Nope. I probably won’t even talk to them. I have the ear of the most powerful man you’ll ever need in the Academy. The one who tells your parents, what you need to be doing.”
Nate laughed, “You are going to tell Dorian and he’s going to retest isn’t he?”
“Probably. Look, our world isn’t black and white, you don’t just become hunter or scrin with your head in the books. Be productive to our society – to the world. I’m a hunter, because I had no choice. I probably wouldn’t be much good at anything else because I have to work my ass off to understand half my schooling. None of you short of maybe Brock is made for this. And honestly I hope Brock gets that NFL ride he wants. But go to college, get that degree too. Football only gets you so far.”
I’m not sure how my feeling like shit turned into a speech about life and standards, but the boys all seemed a little bit better than they had been. Except Matt, he’d taken my fatigue into him and he looked tired. I smiled at him. “Give it to the earth.” I whispered to him.
He looked at me quizzically. “You can see what I do right?”
He nodded. I put my hands into the dirt below us and I closed my eyes and summoned up the elements but I didn’t use them. I surrendered to them. It’s how you heal. I surrender for them, and it heals the wounds. But it works in reverse. I didn’t know how to tell that to Matt so I just showed him.
He said. “I can’t manipulate the elements.”
“I know. I’m not doing anything. Just open up to it, relax. Life wants to survive. It needs to.”
I watched Matt do it skeptically. But he gasped when the elements swirled around him with a life of it’s own and took the fatigue away, healed the little wounds that had lingered from the hike. He hissed, “Wow.”
I smiled, “Together then?”
He stood up and smiled back. “Together.”
He called to the rest of the group and took Faelen’s hand and headed into the direction of camp. We still hadn’t found Dylan and Mick and their lives hung in the balance.