Of Thorns and Lightning

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We’re All in This Together

“Well, I’ll be seeing you all in therapy.”

♦️

Day 1

Peter stood nervously outside the door of William’s office that would be used for the Gods’ group therapy sessions. Peter happened to be first in line out of all the new Gods; each were to receive a counseling session before the therapist could help them work through their problems as a group. Their dynamic wasn’t going to have an easy remedy, since they all seemed to have a myriad of underlying problems that had to be dealt with first before they could all start dealing with each other in a healthy way.

Peter felt like he was waiting forever before the therapist opened the door and asked to see him.

“Mr. Lannigan?” She asked. He turned his attention towards her.

“That’s me,” He spoke. The doctor was dressed in a well-tailored navy-blue pantsuit and an ivory blouse, her chestnut hair pinned up into a French twist. Even though she was a stranger, Peter got the sense that she would be easy to talk to. Someone good that was sure to help them.

“Come on in, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Dr. Enders. Please, take a seat.” She introduced, the two of them going into William’s office. She sat in the chair while she invited Peter to take a seat on the couch. He uncomfortably sat in the middle, his posture stiff and his hands clasped in his lap. The doctor picked up on this immediately.

“What’s on your mind, Peter? You seem uneasy.”

“Yeah. I just don’t know what I want to talk about, you know? William wants this from all of us, but I don’t know how I can give him what he wants all the time. I get the feeling like I’m his golden boy and in more ways than one he’s like my dad, but I still feel a lot of pressure here.”

“It seems like you know exactly what you want to talk about.” The doctor chuckled, letting him open up to her. If Peter just talked freely without any pressure to answer to a specific prompt, everything would soon be revealed.

“He always wants me to be the friendly, neighborhood Arachne, but he’s always working on some new technology and never lets me use it, but I still feel like I have so much to live up to. And my two best friends are mini-Gods too, and I can’t help but sense that it’s all changing. Maize, oh god. Maize’s in Asgard, and I know she’s going to come back a fucking superhuman and a real, bona fide Thor. She’s going to be a different person, and I’m afraid I’m going to lose my best friends, especially because Jordie’s crushing mad hard on Maize and I KNOW Dike feels some sort of way towards Meaghan and I don’t know how I feel about either of that.”

“Have you tried voicing these concerns to your friends?”

“No, I just keep quiet about it all. Mind my own business around the rest of these guys. I don’t want to cause any trouble, since I know there are some people here who actively seek it out to make a scene. People change, and I’ll deal with it on my own. I guess I’ll find new friends if I lose Meaghan and Maize. I’m sure I’ll find someone new. I’ve got to, right?” He spoke.

“How do you often feel around the group?”

“Tense, but detached. I don’t get involved in all the drama a couple of them like to create. I feel like there’s an inner circle and I’m not exactly part of it. Maybe that’s because I’m not an original God, I’m kind of the new addition around here.”

“You’re just as much a God as they are. Also, you don’t want to find new friends, Peter. I can tell. You want to keep Meaghan and Maize, they seem very important to you. If you want to keep them, you have to communicate with them. You’re right, people do change, but you must realize you’re changing with them. Tell me, why does Meaghan and Dike’s relationship bother you, as well as Maize and Jordie’s?”

“Well, I think Meaghan and Dike are the same person so it’s kind of freaky and I think if they hook up, the whole universe will be off-balance and like, the Matrix will open up or whatever. I think it’s still kind of weird. But they both seem happy from what I’ve seen and heard, so,”

“And Maize?”

“I don’t know. I just don’t want her with Jordie.” He spoke, ending that conversation strain softly and abruptly. But he knew exactly why he didn’t want them together. The doctor knew it too, she knew that he didn’t want to say it.

Peter wrung his hands together.

The doctor wrote it all down.

Talia was next.

Day 2

Everyone knew that Talia didn’t want to go to her counseling session. She made that point loud and clear, since she sent the message to everyone that she didn’t need it, it was stupid and if the whole team wasn’t such a mess due to everyone else’s imperfections but her own, they wouldn’t even need to have this group therapy.

She blamed it on Maize.

Talia, Angelina and Ariel were all sitting in the living room together a little while before Talia’s scheduled appointment. Talia was pacing the floor and Angelina and Ariel were sitting on separate chairs.

“If she didn’t go and cry about the club, then none of this would be happening right now.”

“Talia, you were the one that was, like, verbally abusing her in the club.” Ariel spoke bravely. “In a way, you caused this too. Of course, she was going to cry! I would, too!”

Talia stopped pacing right in her tracks.

“Really, Ariel?”

“Yeah, really. You said a lot of really shitty things to her that night, and this whole time.”

“I agree. I don’t like her all that much, but I do agree that sometimes you were unnecessarily mean. Like, you went out of your way to humiliate her about her father. That was uncalled for. So maybe this will be good, Talia.” Angelina piped in, following in Ariel’s fearless steps.

“And to think you two were on my side!” Talia scoffed.

“Talia, sometimes people are going to disagree with you, you can’t expect your friends to follow you blindly and agree with every single thing you say.”

“Whatever, don’t even talk to me anymore, I don’t want this shit.” Talia spoke, storming off. Ariel and Angelina looked at each other with the same look in their eyes, then got up and went about their day.

Talia stormed into William’s office where the therapy session would be held. She was a few minutes early, and she startled Dr. Enders.

“Oh! Talia! I wasn’t expecting you for another half an hour!” She exclaimed, jumping a little bit in her seat at the sudden commotion in the office. She put her pen down and put her glasses on.

“I don’t want to do this, but I have to do this against my will, or I’ll be grounded for basically my life. Let’s get this over with, already.” Talia huffed, plopping down on the couch. Dr. Enders got herself situated before beginning.

“So, Talia, I’m aware that there is a lot of tension in the group,” She began, Talia running wild with it from the start.

“Oh, we’re doomed, there’s no doubt about that.” Talia spoke confidently.

“Why do you think that?”

“Because half the so-called ‘Gods’ that got picked by some terrible mistake in the search and the processing cannot possibly be real Gods. It has to be some sort of horrible joke, I can’t work with these people! I can’t stand Maize! She’s supposed to be the god of thunder and I don’t even trust her to not fuck up something simple.”

“How so? What has Maize done to upset you, or mess something up?”

“She walked into the gym one morning and it ruined my whole day. She walked over to Angelina on the beam and Angelina slipped and fell! My father spends more time with her than he does with me, just because he thinks she’s special, or whatever. He’s so invested in figuring her out that he rarely ever talks to me anymore, except to yell at me when I yell at Maize.”

“I think your issues with other team members are stemming from a deeper internal issue, and I think it’s starting with Mr. Townsend. But explain to me how Maize’s presence ‘ruined your whole day’. What bothers you?”

“Everyone is so captivated by her and I don’t get it. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again here, I think she gets special treatment, more attention, even though everyone insists she doesn’t.”

“Is it jealousy? Do you feel like she takes something away from you, like you aren’t getting adequate positive reinforcement, or attention?”

“Of course, I’m jealous of her. Everyone is. She is the kind of girl that can get whatever she wants. Have you seen her? She’s gorgeous, and to top it off, she’s a god. But what bothers me the most is that on top of her beauty and status, she’s got the whole ‘fucked up childhood, daddy issues, has never known real love and acceptance from family members’ persona going for her, and that’s why everyone sympathizes her. I see right through her.”

At Talia’s last statement, it was clear to Dr. Enders what she was encountering. She wrote on her notepad, next to everything else she had observed, circling it and underlining it.

God complex.

Talia assumed that she knew everything about everybody and that it was painfully obvious, and everyone else had to be below her for not seeing it, or is to blame for some reason.

It threw a wrench in the machine, but that didn’t discourage the doctor.

“It seems to me that you’re not worried about the capabilities of the team as a whole. I sense an imbalance in the group that includes this image you have of Maize that may not necessarily be the truth.”

“This isn’t High School Musical, okay? It’s not supposed to be all fun and happy games. I don’t like Maize, and I’m not sure if I care that what that’s based on is true or not. That’s just the way it is with me and her.”

“So, will you not consider working through your emotions about Maize and trying to create a connection that would ultimately help the group during intense battles? That is a time when the group has to trust each other and work with each other to minimize casualties and be the most efficient against an enemy.”

“No. Because unlike Troy and Gabriella, we are not all in this together.”

Day 3

It was Meaghan’s turn for therapy. The night before, she was hanging out with Peter in his room, talking about what Peter had encountered during his session.

“I don’t know, I think it helped a lot. I got a lot off of my chest that had been sitting dormant for a while and I was glad I had a neutral, uninvolved person to listen to it all. She didn’t really ask a lot of questions, she sat back and let me talk, and I kind of just opened up.” Peter spoke, spinning around in his desk chair slowly. Meaghan laid backwards off of his bed, her head hanging off the foot of the mattress. Her blonde hair touched the floor and blew slightly in the wind Peter was creating with his spinning.

“Do you really think it’s going to help us as a group, or do you think this is just a hail-Mary, last resort kind of plan for William in a desperate hope that we’ll finally work together?”

“I really think this will help, Meaghan. I don’t know how, but maybe after listening to everybody she can pinpoint our strengths and weaknesses and she can really get us together.”

“I sure hope you’re right, Peter.”

The next morning, Meaghan wasn’t looking forward to the session, but she kept an open mind. It’s what Dike would do.

The door was open to William’s office, and Meaghan knocked on the door lightly. The doctor stood up and turned around, inviting Meaghan to come in and sit down, to make herself comfortable. She was friendly and really seemed like she wanted to help. Meaghan sat down on the couch, her ankles crossed, and her fingers laced together, wishing that they’d skip the small talk and get right into questions.

“So, Meaghan. Can you tell me what problems you have encountered with the team? What is hindering you all the most from working together as a group?”

Meaghan knew the answer, and she was glad Maize was in Asgard.

“I’m not saying Maize is the problem here, but there’s no denying she took the longest amount of time to adjust to this whole setup, and I think that’s where Talia’s notion that she gets special treatment or whatever has stemmed from. Maize needed a different approach to it all, and William did everything he could to figure out what would work for her. She got a lot of attention focused on her with that, and then again when she started passing out, having visions and getting constant nosebleeds. William swore that he would help her figure it out, and a lot of time was devoted to her cause. Talia obviously didn’t like that. I think it’s all just a big misunderstanding.”

“And what about you, personally? How has your experience been with the team?”

“It’s actually been great. In the beginning, Talia did threaten me and try to intimidate and scare me, but I accredited that to her adjusting to others in her territory. This was her life and her home long before we came along, and William is her father. She seems like a dominant alpha female, and I know how that can be. But how can I complain? I have my two best friends on the team with me and having Dike mentor me is a dream come true.”

“Talk to me about Dike, Meaghan.”

“What do you want to know? I mean, I don’t have any nitty-gritty details for you. I think he and I have a really good connection. I can talk with him about anything, and he always seems to have a calculated and intelligent answer for me. Even though we’re supposed to be the same person, he has this uncanny ability to see from perspectives that I can’t, and that helps me better understand things like conflict. He knows what’s going on between me and the other members of the team, and we’re very close. He knows just what to say, and even in the bigger, more difficult times and events he’s always there to comfort me.”

“That connection you talked about, being very close and open, can you see that happening with the team right now?”

“Right now? No way. Maybe with lots and lots of therapy with everybody’s full cooperation, sure. I think I got lucky with Dike, and I don’t know how the rest of us are supposed to function the way we are now. There are some people that refuse to even try to make things work, and that’ll be the downfall of us all.”

Jordie was the next to be counseled. For being Menoetius, he sure was shy and didn’t have a lot to say. He was oddly reserved for someone with a power so forthcoming and outright.

“Honestly, I’ve kept to myself. I know what I’m capable of, I know the amount of damage I can do. I don’t always know how to control it or what will set it all off, so I don’t engage with the group. That doesn’t mean I don’t listen or pay attention to what goes on around me. I see it all, but sometimes I have to stay so far away because a lot of the things that happen make me angry. I don’t like how some of the girls are being treated, or how some of them are treating each other. Recently we all went to a club together, but I knew it was supposed to be just Maize, Meaghan and Peter. They had planned a friendship reunion weekend, but that got stomped on by the others. I tagged along to the club and I still wish I had Menoetius-ed out and intervened, but Maize got shit all over, and that was the worst event between us all to date. Maybe if I had said something all this time, things would be different. But then again, at this point, we might be too far in to fix.”

“Do you feel guilty about some inaction, though you were looking out for yourself and the sake of everyone else as you prevented yourself from becoming explosively angry?”

“Yeah. I do. I know that there are some things I just can’t let slide, but I do because I don’t always know how to control myself. I know that’s my weakness and I’m doing everything in my power to change that, and that’s how I can alter the group dynamic, but sometimes it doesn’t feel worth it. I feel like we’re all going to fall apart anyway, and it won’t matter what I do.”

Day 4

Ariel and Angelina were both scheduled on the last day of individual counseling to have their session with Dr. Enders. Ariel was lined up to go first, but the two girls conversed outside of the office before they were called in. Ariel was the first to break the silence with a bout of courage. Angelina was hesitant to follow her lead this time.

“I’m going to tell the truth in there, Ange. I’m going to answer whatever she asks me honestly. That’s the right thing to do, and I’m not afraid that Talia’s going to come at me for saying what I feel. I don’t think I should be scared of her anymore. I think I’m going to start doing things on my own now.” Ariel said, coming to terms with her own morals as she was thinking about therapy.

And just like she promised, she told the truth about exactly how she was feeling.

“I actually like everyone here! They’re a lot of fun from what I’ve seen, and I really wish I could have gotten to know them better because I feel like I’d be friends with everybody. But ever since the beginning I’ve been pressured to be by Talia and back up Talia, so I feel like if I were to try and make friends now, they’d all assume I was being fake and reject me. I thought Talia was my friend at first, and she really was doing her best to look out for me. I thought she had my best intentions in mind, but now that each day passes and new things happen, I see that she doesn’t. I think we’re all falling apart. We all got a bad start, all of us got off on the wrong foot, you know?” Ariel spoke with hope for the future, but solemn since she was aware of the negativity.

Dr. Enders took notes.

Angelina decided that she had to tell the truth, too. No one else was going to know what she said, and even though she had a hard time believing this would benefit anybody, she had to be open. She had less hope than Ariel, but she took a very important step towards healing.

“It’s not that I don’t like Maize. I just never got to know her. It doesn’t seem like we have anything in common and we don’t train together, so she’s still a stranger to me. Talia told me that she was bad news and since I didn’t know anything else, I believed her. Now I’m starting to doubt it all. I know that I might not like her for real once I get to know her, but I’ve gotta try to start. That’s what being a team is all about. We still have to try and work together to reach a common goal, despite if we like each other or not. But it helps, if we know each other and don’t have to be separated all the time. I mean, I’m open to starting over. I think we really should, and as soon as possible. I think we don’t have the basic foundation to grow upon, and that was our biggest mistake of them all.”

Day 5

“What’s the verdict, doc?” William asked after a long week of sessions as he sat with Dr. Enders in his office. She was beat, this was a kind of case that she had never seen before and she was full to the brim with information and psychological analyzations of six young adults who had so many different personalities and perspectives.

“Everything you could possibly expect upon gathering a group of young adult strangers and making them live together. Angst, a couple of identity crises, borderline personality disorders, and a boatload of sexual tension, William.”

“That’s what I was afraid of. I guess we’ll have to see what happens between the time Maize returns from Asgard and I send them out on their first mission together.”

“William, you can’t just wait and see what happens. Now is the time to take preventative measures and start them working together. I’ve heard all this week that they feel like they all got off on the wrong foot and they’re just misunderstanding each other. They’re all still strangers. Now is the most important time for them to learn how to communicate with each other, despite god complexes, personal vendettas, past history and present notions. They all have to be in this together, and it’s been made clear to me some obviously don’t want to. You’ve got your work cut out for you, Townsend. It’s only a matter of time before they crash and burn.”

William refused to let them fall apart, and damn if it wasn’t a whole new team when Maize returned from Asgard before their initiation ceremony.

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