A friend drops by and Ami tries to convince him, and herself that there's nothing wrong.
I was still staring at the two teacups and place settings when the air began to crackle with electrical energy, tiny charges that would be undetectable to anyone who wasn't telepathic or possessing otherworldly senses but which ultimately heralded a Tomorrow Person teleporting in. I heard the snap and pop of the final energy build up and turned to flash a half smile at him, indicating the table with a flick of my hand. "I made tea. Couldn't sleep either?"
A quick glance at my friend told me that sleep probably really hadn't been the issue for him. Kevin Wilson was dressed in a baggy pair of jeans and a somewhat rumpled sweatshirt that while not the height of fashion said that he had taken time to get dressed and not simply rolled out of bed due to whatever disturbing and misdirected waves of anxiety I was broadcasting from halfway around the world. He raked his fingers through his dark, wavy hair and gave me a half-smile and a shrug, "I was awake. I got the feeling that you couldn't sleep, however. And it looks like you were expecting me."
I shrugged. I followed my instincts so closely these days that there were times, like now, that I didn't realize I was following them. "I think that I was expecting someone. I didn't know whom. Glad I didn't wake you. I've been on edge ever since I woke up." I hugged myself and rubbed away the goose bumps that crawled up my arms as the memory images flared up in my mind's eye again.
Kevin crossed the kitchen and enveloped me in a tight, sympathetic hug. Comfort and understanding flowed from him into me and I leaned my head on his shoulder allowing myself to relax just a bit. At times like this it still struck me as funny that the six-foot one-inch frame that I now had to look up to had once been the one looking up at me. We stayed that way for a moment, chastely hugging each other, before Kevin gently brushed my mind with his own. /I think that I have a good idea of what the dream was that woke you./
I took a breath. I pressed my forehead to his shoulder. I did not even allow my mind to wander anywhere near the images that he offered to share with me. I was really hoping that I was the only one. I didn't elaborate about how if it were only me having the memory dreams, I could chalk it up to a guilty conscience and side-effects of work. /Besides, I thought you said you were awake./
/I was. I still had the dream, though. It just happened to conveniently end when my alarm went off./
Kevin's response left me doing a quick time zone check in my head. Sometimes I forgot that England had a five-hour jump on the Midwest over here. It was easy to get these things mixed up when you didn't have to rely on telephones for communication or airplanes for transatlantic transportation.
/Oh!/ I jerked my head up and looked at him, stepping out of his embrace and the comfort he offered. "You have class, Kevin."
"Class will wait. I'm far enough ahead that it doesn't really matter if I miss one class." He slipped into one of the chairs with a teacup in front of it and reached for the sugar bowl, as though that settled the entire conversation. And if he thought that his graduate studies could take a backseat, then I wasn't going to try to argue. "Anyway, I think this is far more important."
I slipped into one of the other chairs, lifted my teaspoon to the teacup, but went no further than that. Now that I'd made the tea, I really didn't want it. I thought of several questions to ask Kevin, several ways to avoid getting to the crux of the situation but decided to simply get the pain over with. The best way to remove a bandage was simply to rip it off, right?
"You were dreaming about the day that Adam disappeared?" I asked softly. I added several teaspoons of sugar to the tea. It gave me something to do with my hands and an excuse to not look at Kevin.
"Yes. It's amazingly clear and strong, just like being there again. But you already knew that, didn't you?" Kevin waited. I didn't look up at him and I didn't answer. I added more sugar to the tea. In a few more minutes I was going to have a cup full of tea-flavored sugar.
Kevin continued to wait. The problem with trying to outwait Kevin is that it never works. Unlike the others to whom I was closest, Kevin had an endless font of patience. Megabyte would eventually get snappish and try to goad me into talking, Jade would get frustrated and begin having a one sided conversation with herself. Only Lisa rivaled Kevin in the waiting department, and even she would eventually resort to probing questions.
I took a sip of tea and forced myself not to grimace. It was too sweet. Finally, I set the cup down and folded my hands on the table. Forcing my eyes up to meet the gentle blue ones of Kevin, I sighed. "I've been having them for two weeks. It's like living the experience all over again. I haven't mentioned it because I really hoped that I was the only one who was having them."
Kevin took a sip of tea. He sat back in the seat, cup cradled in his hands and watched me. Still waiting.
"Because," I continued, "if it were only me having the dreams, I knew that they couldn't be significant or mean anything."
"I've only had four of them the past week," Kevin nodded. He knew that he'd gotten a full confession out of me and now he was ready to move forward. "But you're right. I think the fact that we've both had it means something, and there's a pretty good chance that maybe Megabyte, Lisa and Jade are having them too. If they are . . ." He trailed off, taking another sip of tea. That was fine; he didn't have to finish his statement, I knew what he was trying to say.
I had a question of my own. "How does yours end?"
Kevin blinked, unable to hide his surprise. It was good to know that I could still manage a little bit of unpredictability at times. "Huh?"
"How does your dream end? What wakes you up?" I leaned forward and licked my lips. "Remember how I had that vision on the beach that day? I never told anyone what it was until afterwards because I didn't even recognize it for what it was. In my dream, I always wake up after the vision."
"I didn't --" Kevin's gaze clouded, his concentration moving inwards. His eyes slid away from mine as he placed the cup on his table, forehead crinkling as he deepened his concentration. Then just as quickly his attention jerked back to mine, "That's not in my dream. I didn't even remember that you'd scared us all half to death until you just mentioned it.
"But that would make sense. The vision that you had, Ami, it wasn't integral to me that day. So, I forgot it." He reclaimed the cup and took several long swallows. "I always wake up after Adam, Megabyte and Jade teleport away . . . and the confusion starts."
My dream-memory never gets that far. I never have to relive the moments of Jade's panicky telepathic shouts, of Megabyte's gunshot wound, of arriving just in time to discover Adam missing and McCready's basement created laboratory and "time machine" about to explode.
"That has to be significant, Kevin. Doesn't it?"
"Maybe," Kevin shrugged. "I don't know. The only way to find out is to talk to the others and find out if they are having the same dream. Find out the details of what they're dreaming, if they are."
"I hate it when you're so logical."
"No, you just hate it when I say things you already know because you're trying to avoid saying or thinking them." Kevin smirked and lifted the teacup to his mouth again. He's incredibly, boyishly cute and it's only that attribute that saves him from being on the receiving end of a smack to the head when he gets that smug, know-it-all smile on his face.
"Well, I'm not talking to Lisa." A frown replaced Kevin's smile the moment the words left my mouth. The waves of concern emanating from him made me wish that I hadn't said anything at all. I shook my finger at him. /Don't say a word. I'm fine./
/But you don't want to talk to Lisa?/
"You do know that my company benefits include excellent mental care for all employees? I have a perfectly capable - therapist - that I've sworn to both Ben and Marty I will see regularly until we can all believe that there are no lasting ill effects." I knew there was an edge to my voice, but I didn't care. I got enough worry and lecture from Ben; from Marty as well, but as my employer, Marty was more concerned that I might have a breakdown and no longer be able to work at all.
"Ami, this isn't a joke. It's not something to be made light of. You were possessed -"
I pushed back from the table, loudly scraping my chair across the floor. I was not going to have this conversation with Kevin. So far, I had managed to avoid having it with any of my fellow Tomorrow People, filing it under the tab of 'things we don't talk about concerning Ami's job.' There was worry, and I understood that. It was wonderful to have such caring friends. But it also wasn't something that I wanted to rehash several times over. I had Ben for that because Ben was just far too protective that way. I also had Dr. Danning, who got paid an obscene amount of money to rehash it and make sure that I didn't suddenly develop a phobia towards the dead.
/I'm not talking about this, Kevin. Not./
Kevin didn't stand. He put down the cup and folded his arms across his chest. Clear blue eyes focused on me and stayed there, locking and holding onto my gaze. I mimicked his actions, my own arms folded as I leaned against the counter and glared back at him.
"AJ, I thought I heard," Ben stepped into the kitchen and stopped, spotting Kevin seated at the table. At least I assumed that was the reason he stopped, but I only had him in my peripheral vision. I was too busy trying to outstare and out-stubborn Kevin. "Hello, Kevin."
"Ben." Kevin never took his eyes off me. I had to give him bonus points for that. Considering the level of tension between Kevin and I, it was actually pretty impressive that he didn't even give Ben a second glance. He didn't even seem concerned that Ben was present at all.
"Is there something going on that I should know about?" I saw Ben coming closer to me. I could feel the energy crackling around him, a slow and steady build up of tension that came from his innate need to protect me. Not to protect me from Kevin, because Ben knew that Kevin wasn't a threat. No, Ben just went into overdrive and wanted to protect me on general principal. It was sweet. It was endearing.
And times like now, it grated slightly on annoying.
"No." Kevin and I answered in sync.
For obvious reasons, Ben didn't believe us and held his ground. "If there's something dangerous going on, something that could hurt you, AJ -"
I forced my eyes away from Kevin. It didn't mean that he'd won this particular argument. It just meant that I learned long ago that I had to choose my battles. Tonight, at this moment, that battle was with Ben; I simply wanted him to turn around and go back to bed, because I was not up to explaining this to him.
I turned to Ben and gave him a soft, slight smile, taking his hands in mine. "It's nothing like that, Ben, really. Kevin and I were just having a disagreement on how to approach a certain issue, but it's nothing that we can't work out."
Ben was less than convinced. I could see it in his coffee-dark eyes, in the way his gaze wavered back and forth between Kevin and me. He worried about me because of my work, he worried about me because I was a Tomorrow Person; Ben worried about me because he could worry and he wasn't going to stop just because I told him that he should. Despite that, he also knew when to step back. When it was 'Tomorrow People business,' Ben knew that he wouldn't always get a straight answer out of me and that sometimes it was just better if he didn't ask the question.
He didn't like it. He didn't like it anymore than I did keeping my nose out of his 'police business' and 'pack business,' but it was one of those uncomfortably necessary trades and compromises that we made within our relationship. After a year and a half, that compromise was working well for us, so there was no need to change it.
"All right, but one of you stop being so stubborn and wrap it up soon. I'm cold and lonely in there." Ben gave me his patented grin that brought out the dimples in his cheeks and made me tingle from my toes to my hairline. The parting kiss he gave me made me tingle in other places and by the time his back receded from my line of vision, I was ready to spill my guts to Kevin just so he would leave and I could go back to bed with Ben.
I know, it was totally and utterly pathetic that the man had that kind of effect on me. Somehow, Ben always managed to give a whole new meaning to the words 'animal attraction.' Pun fully intended; half the fun of dating a werewolf was being able to make puns about it.
"If I leave now, I can still make it to class," Kevin announced, rising. "I'll 'path you later, after you've gotten some sleep, all right?"
The words were friendly and devoid of anything that would have told an outsider that we'd been staring one another down only moments ago. But I knew better than that. Kevin wasn't going to let me off the hook that easily. Sometime during the past five years Kevin, when it became obvious that I wouldn't - possibly couldn't - reject the gifts and talents that Aunt Rose helped me to control and develop and would forever be tied to the underworld, had become my ally, my support and my confidante. He was one of the few Tomorrow People - and we'd more than doubled our number in the past five years - who understood and took any type of interest in the underworld. The others did their best to continue to ignore it and live outside of it.
I considered that both a blessing and a curse.
"We'll talk later," I agreed, although I really had no interest in holding that particular conversation. Ever.
I would just have to convince Kevin.
End of Part Three