They whisper at me, it fills my head and rings. Rushed words that mean nothing, they jumble in my head and spill.
“Shhh! Shh stop I need...I need to listen!” The whispering won’t stop, if anything the words get more intense. I cover my ears, but the speaking turns into an intense ring that makes my head pound.
“S-stop!” I drop to my knees as the ringing grows to a blinding pain, I scream with the ringing. Make it stop.
“Wake up!” My body launches upwards, I cry out and swing my arms in defense at whoever yells at me. Beckett stares down at me from beside my bed, I can barely see him in the dark room. It’s barely lit by the sun that is still waking up.
“What the hell, Beckett.” I mutter, rubbing my tired eyes. They’re wet, was I crying in my sleep? The whispering cubes take place at the forefront of my mind, what on earth was that?
“Rise and shine. Time to train.” His voice holds no remorse for the sleep he is taking from me. I groan, my body sore from yesterday.
“C’mon. My arm and back are killing me from all the throwing you made me do yesterday. Let me rest-”, he ignores me. Instead he lifts my blinds, and bright ember rays spill over my bed.
In this orange light I can see him clearly, and my cheeks rush hot at the reminder of his closeness to me yesterday. The sparks that always rush when he is near me grow more intense, but I ignore them.
Does he feel this electricity like I do? I resist asking, for the sake of not wanting to sound stupid.
“You can rest after you defeat Parallax.” His tone is resigned, like he knew I was going to argue and had prepared for it.
“Ok, could you at least make coffee?” Beckett turns to leave my room, opening the door and stepping out quickly.
“Not your maid, see you in fifteen minutes.” Ugh, what an ass. Would it kill him to be nice at least sometimes? Any excitement I had about his touch fades quickly. Any positive emotions towards him leave, irritation itches at my neck. He knows how to get under my skin.
I get up with a huff. The nightmare stays in my mind, I try to push it down. In a zombie walk type of slumber I slip on a clean sports bra and sweatpants. The cool water I splash on my face wakes me slightly, as does the mint from my toothpaste.
I leave my room and meet Ember in the kitchen. She, unlike her cranky brother, knows what a girl needs. In her hands is a coffee mug for me, I grin at her widely and accept it greatful.
“You really know how to make a girl happy.” We laugh and sip in silence for just a moment. “How was your errands yesterday? I never got to see you again…” I trail off in hopes that I don’t sound weird and lonely.
She shrugs and takes another long sip, “they went fine.” Her slightly hard tone tells me I shouldn’t pry, so we leave it at that. “Well, my brother is probably waiting on you-”
“-and he’s not a very patient guy,” I finish her thought for her in a knowing tone. I’ve only known him for a few days and one thing I’ve learned is that Beckett is not the patient sibling.
“No, he’s not.” Ember replies laughing, she hands me a bottle of water and I raise a double fisted drink as I leave to the training room. I finish my coffee before I’m down there, and I take a few small sips of my water to hydrate.
In the training room I’m surprised to see Alatar waiting with Beckett. They stop conversing as I enter, and I freeze in my tracks.
“Ah, there she is. I hope you are ready?” Alatar says in a joyful tone, I try to smile back.
“Erm, ready for what?” I hope he doesn’t say what I expect him to. In no way do I feel ready for that.
“To learn how to channel your energy safely, of course.” Oh, of course. Because it’s not like it’s dangerous or anything. Not like I’m a dangerous weapon that could kill us all.
Fear washes over me and brings goosebumps to my flesh. It’s like I’d forgotten until this moment how truly dangerous I am, how immensely hazardous I am.
“I don't know-, ” I start, but Alatar beckons me close with a wave of his hand so I put my drinks down and meet them on the mats.
“This is scary, right?” He asks, and I nod. My forehead breaks out in a sweat from my anxiety, and it balls in my chest. I feel like I can't swallow, my mouth is incredibly dry. “Well, let's just stretch you out ok? Beck says you're sore from yesterday.”
I look at him pointedly, but he makes a show of avoiding my eyes. Did he tell Alatar this because he wanted to mock me? Or did some measly part of him pity my situation? I choose the latter.
Alatar comes behind me and with warm hands he gently crosses my arms across my chest, pulling the muscles in-between my shoulder blades in a way that hurts so good.
His fingers trace down my sore arms, they glow orange as they did before when he healed Beckett. My arm twinges slightly before loosening and feeling completely better. It is as if I'd gotten a full tissue massage in just seconds.
“Better?” I nod, so much better.
“Thank you.” I mean it. Alatar has been kind enough to open his home to me, to give my aunt a nice funeral, and to answer all my questions.
“Certainly. I'm going to take the suppressor off your emotions now okay? So we can work.” His fingers are light on my forehead, and the ripping commences. I wince, gritting my teeth. Then it's over, and heaviness weighs on my heart once more.
It was easier to handle the anxiety of everything with the suppression, now I feel physically sick. I swallow hard and focus on slow breathing. On reflex I force my fear down, putting up a wall between myself and those emotions. I needn't be afraid of myself. Not when I can learn to control it now, and never have any issues again.
“Tell me about your energy, Astra. Describe it to me.” Alatars words are kind, and he takes a step back to give me room. I close my eyes, trying to ignore Beckett's stare.
Under my bare feet, I feel the cool mats, nervous sweat beads down my back, and I can smell incense wafting off of Alatar’s skin. Doing this makes my nerves slow, and makes my rushing heart calm.
“It’s gold, like my eyes. It makes my body feel warm, almost too warm. But it feels right, like…like I'm releasing pent-up emotions. It glows, and it comes from my palms.” I picture the time I released it at my aunt's funeral, how afraid I had been.
“Are you afraid now?” I shake my head, “then release it again. Carefully.” I let out a slow breath, raising my palms upwards to the ceiling. Slowly, I take down the wall I’d put up in my mind.
As I do so, I feel the emotions push on my soul; trying to crush me. I breathe through them, not allowing the fear or sorrow or rage to suffocate me. I channel it into the push of energy through my arms.
I feel them warm, as they’d done before. This time I didn't extinguish it. I open my eyes and amaze at the orb of golden light that I hold in my hand. It grows brighter towards the center, it shimmers and flows outwards on the outsides.
I smile at it, the essence of the stars that I hold in myself. “I did it.” I grin, looking at Alatar who looks back with pride.
“Don’t be afraid to let it grow,” Alatar instructs kindly. I turn my palms into each other, and the orb grows with the connection; it grows larger the further I pull my palms apart. I don’t let it grow past what I can handle, I am in charge.
Myself as a weapon is not something to hate, my aunt knew of my powers my whole life and loved me despite that. She would not be happy if she knew I had a distaste towards myself because of my creation.
I pull my energy back in, until the orb diminishes and the warmth in my arm leaves.
“Great job, Astra!” I look up at Alatar who beams, “great control!” Pride swells up inside me, as well as confidence. Beckett scoffs, of course, he’s never pleased.
“She’s gonna have to do better than that if she’s going to be ready for an attack.” He says, in his usual icy tone.
“Now, Beckett-”, Alatar begins to warn but it’s too late. Annoyance creeps it’s way into my chest, and I grit my teeth.
“You want me to learn how to attack? Be my guest.” His eyes shine wickedly as he accepts the challenge, he goes to the wall of weapons and grabs a shield which he slips onto his arm quickly and comes back to me.
“Titanium. It’ll hold off your little balls of light. Give it your best.” Beckett grins, again his grin could be handsome but it’s too cocky to be attractive.
I look at Alatar, who looks wary but doesn’t say no. So I lock eyes with him, and release the energy down my arms into my hands again. I cock an eyebrow at him, he asked for it; and it’s about time I show him I’m not some useless girl.
I throw my first ball of energy, following through with it the same way he taught me to throw knives. It makes a loud bang when it collides with his shield, and I watch with satisfaction as he stumbles slightly with wide eyes.
“Ok, I’ll give you that one. Again.” I glance at Alatar who looks at me with raised eyebrows, a look that says ‘well, go on’. I shoot a second and third ball that he deflects easily, I furrow my brow and push all the energy I can; it beams out my palms and connects with his shield.
The force of the connection is intense, he lets out a cry while trying to push the shield towards me. I push back harder, to show him what I’m capable of; it causes him to yell stumbling and falling onto the ground, I gasp and stop the beacon of energy.
“Beck- '', I start but Alatar is already at his side. He moves the shield to show an unconscious Beckett, with a deep gash in his forehead. The shield had connected with his skull, and knocked him unconscious.
Oh no, I did this. “Alatar I’m so sorry.” He holds up a hand to stop me coming closer, and I’m hit with the heavy force of guilt. Alatar uses his fingers to heal the wound, and almost immediately after Beckett’s eyes flutter open.
“Holy shit man, I said give it your best not kill me.” He's making light of this situation? How could he? I’d acted too rashly. Alatar sits him up, Beckett is chuckling but Alatar and I are both staring wide eyed.
“You acted too rashly, Astra. You let the desire to prove Beckett wrong cloud your judgment and he could have been severely hurt if I wasn’t here. You need to learn to control your emotions.” Alatar uses a harsh tone with me, taking the smile off Beckett’s face.
I messed up. I’m new to these emotions and I let them get the best of me. I'm a dangerous person and I can’t let things get the best of me. I just wanted to prove him wrong.
“I’m sorry…” I say again, trailing off. I’m not sure how to express this guilt I feel.
“I’m sure you are, but you need to really think about how you want to use this gift of yours Astra.” Alatar gives me a hard look, his stern eyes making my chest ache. Beckett looks at me as well, I can’t read his eyes. I take a long look at them before turning and slowly going up the stairs, past Ember, to my room.
“Astra? What’s going on?” Ember says to me poking her head in, I slump onto my bed and stare at the ceiling. My eyes burn with tears that want to escape, and a rock in my throat prevents me from answering.
A small sob escapes my lips as I press my palms into my now streaming eyes.
“Woah, hey it’s alright. What happened? Was it my brother? I know he can be awful but I swear he’s not all bad.” She hurries to my side, I roll onto my side as she sits beside me and the mattress dips.
“It’s nothing,” I sniffle. “I’m just being dramatic.” I force a wall up in my psyche to prevent an energy burst, which I already feel heating my arms.
“I don't believe that at all, I don’t think you’re dramatic. Whatever is bugging you is something we can handle together, plus, you’re new to emotions; of course you’re going to struggle to grasp them.” I peak up at her with teary eyes, she smiles down at me with her warm eyes.
“Ok,” I sigh. She lightly pushes a wet strand of hair back off my face, away from the tears that soak it.
“Tell me everything.” In her understanding tone I feel like I can let how I feel loose, like she won’t judge how I feel.
“I hurt your brother, by accident. He’s ok now, because of Alatar. But I could have seriously hurt him and that makes me feel so afraid. I’m a deadly weapon, and I don’t know how to control it. And your brother he just,” I let out a small laugh, “he knows how to get me going.”
Ember laughs with me, she knows this to be true. He’s a testy guy, and I wish for just a moment he would stop walking around like a dark force.
“Don’t I know it, he loves to push buttons. As do most men, I’ve come to realize. But Astra, your powers aren’t something to be scared of. I’m sure right now you’re so overwhelmed. You lost family, learned of your powers, and a whole new world in just a few days. Anyone would be overwhelmed, even people who have had their whole lives to learn how to cope with emotions.”
Her words barely pack a punch, the guilt of harming another human gnaws at me. At the time I hadn’t thought I was going to hurt him, I’d only thought he needed to be knocked down a peg or two.
I made a rash decision, and I injured Beckett in the meantime. How am I to trust myself? I don’t want this life, I can’t handle it. Someone who’s cool and collected, like Ember, should be in my position. I promise myself, then and there, I’ll never use my powers again.
Even if it is my destiny.