The first boy came into the fishbowl with Richard’s arm around his shoulders. “Jeffery Taylor, this is Nox Sétanta, he wants to talk to you.”
The boys brown eyes were down cast. He was broken on the inside. He was the younger of the two boys, his records said he was 11 and the youngest in his family. The last child, their baby and his parents didn’t see how broken this boy was.
He sat down across the table from me with his arms in front of him and his head hung. Richard stood behnd him and I frowned up at the older man. “Can we speak privately? This isn’t for anyone elses ears. Survelinece has been turned off. No one needs to be in on this conversation.”
I was mostly saying it for Jeffery’s benefit. But Richard nodded and headed for the door. “Jeffery I’ll be right outside.”
The boy didn’t turn to see his headmaster off, nor did he look up or have much reaction at all. I kinda wished Dev was here with me. He could read his thoughts. It was funny that I thought of the rockstar bartender. He was cute, and he tasted … I had to focus.
The chair squeaked as I got up. The polished wood of the table slide against my fingers in a smooth motion while I walked around to sit next to Jeffery.
I didn’t hold out my had to the boy, I simply said, “Hi.” He shifted in his seat and the creeking sound of his chair was the only sound that returned.
“Can I tell you a story?” I asked him.
The brown eyes lifted a little and he looked at me through short eye lashes with curiousity. “When I was five I was afraid to go to sleep at night. I saw images of fire and my mother throwing things at me. I saw Garrett in my mind trying to make me spark. I didn’t feel it until I was older. Marks weren’t left, but I always woke with fear. And then I started to see Dr. Silverman and she helped me the best she could.”
His eyes light up as they lifted to mine at the mention of Dr. Silverman. “Has she helped you?”
“No.” He shook his head, but he smiled. “I saw her a few weeks ago, she was nice.”
“She is.” I agreed however mad I was at her, she was still a great therapist.
“Are you going to keep seeing her?”
“No.” Some of that light was gone from his eyes while he continued, “My parents say I’m not crazy. I don’t need to talk to a shrink.”
“Just because you see a shrink doesn’t make you crazy.”
“You see a shrink.” Jeffery blurted out.
I laughed. “Are you implying I’m crazy?”
“Aren’t you?” He asked. He pointed to my hair and my hands. “You bring in people for trials. Are you too afraid to kill something that hurts people?”
“I’m not afraid to kill people who hurt people.”
“Why didn’t you kill Garrett then when you had the chance.” I could feel his hatred of me in that moment. If I’d let the fire burn he’d have been saved. “That wasn’t an accident. Everyone knows it. You tried to kill him. Why ddin’t you finish it.” He fell to his knees in front of me, the tears were flowing and I didn’t know what to do so I told him the truth.
“I was six. I was afraid. Why did you tell anyone he was hurting you. It could have saved Emma and Sam’s torment?” I asked.
He looked up at me. The horror in his brown eyes was plain and raw and I reached down and pulled him against me in a hug. I whispered, “Because you were afraid, and he told you if you said anything he’d hurt you worse. So you kept quiet. Like we all did. Every one of us who was hurt by him stayed quiet. We let it happen to everyone after us. But no more Jeffery.” I pulled him away from by the arms and held him but I needed to see his face. “No more kids will be hurt by Garrett. That means you, or me, or anyone else.”
“You know how to shield from telepaths and such?” I asked cautiously.
He nodded. “I can help you extend that protection to your dreams if you allow me to.”
“No. My parents don’t think I’m having dreams.”
“But you are. You know me from them. We’ve never met before.”
He sighed. “I know but I’m not crazy.”
Venatori fucking parents! “You’d rather get beaten every night?”
All blood from Jeffery’s face fled, he looked sick to his stomach and whispered, “No one knows. I hide it.”
I nodded. “I know, I did too until after I graduated.” I took his hand and snaked it around my back. I didn’t want him to see the years of abuse, but his fingers froze on my back when he felt the mangled mess and he started to cry. I was still frozen from the touch. My fingers were like ice against my skin and his. He looked up at me and wrapped his arms around my neck and cried. I held him close. I whispered, “I think I can make him stay away if you let me. He won’t hurt you again.”
There was a slight nod against my neck and I closed my eyes and pulled the boy into my lap and I held him tight while he cried. Why the fuck did no one help these kids? Why didn’t they help me? I reached for the pack magic again and let it flow through me. I knew it was pack. I didn’t know how. But I extended it to the boy in my arms and I felt him gasp against my neck.
We sat there for the remainder of the hour on the floor with my back against the plate glass wall in silence. When Richard knocked on the glass Jeffery jumped but when he looked at me he smiled. He seemed lighter more alive. He leaned down and whispered, “Thank you. I can feel it working already.”
“I’m glad. You might not want to tell your parents.”
He laughed. “I won’t. They think you are crazy.”
I stood up and offered him my hand and he took it with a firm shake. “I might be a little crazy.”
He smiled and snickered too. “I am glad you are.”
The boy went with Richard back to Dae’lin’s office and I sat down in the chair again. It was best not to be threatening when meeting new people and I didn’t want to scare the next one any more than he already was.