Chapter Two: Natalia
"What're you looking at?" repeated the Telepath.
I blinked quickly before averting my eyes, a submissive move humans used when encountering Telepaths. It diffused their anger most of the time. "I was admiring your pin. Are you an officer?" I asked. I already knew the answer.
The guy opened his locker. "Not yet. Training begins next year."
He closed his after grabbing one of his textbooks and just stared at me as I chanced small glances at him. His reaction was common for most guys who crossed my path, a curse of my Molecular genetics. "You're cute for a human."
I tried to look grateful, but I was pretty sure my disgust was written clearly on my face. I hadn't stepped into the character of a well-behaved human yet. I was going to be in serious danger if I didn't hurry and change my attitude.
"Thank you," I replied. I kept my eyes on the locker door I was closing as I tried to regain my composure.
The guy circled me like a shark. I could feel his eyes on the back of my neck. He was taking in my auburn locks and body language that held too much confidence for a human. I noticed him staring at the green mixed among the brown of my contacts as if he could see the full emerald irises underneath. I was regretting the pale green necklace around my neck.
"If only you were a Telepath," he stated. I let out a breath I was holding in.
I smiled weakly. I wasn't in the mood for his superior Telepath attitude. After my back to back problems with Alex and Jesse, my emotions were wreaking havoc on my mind. There hadn't been a chance for me to lock them back up in their jail cell before walking into the school. That's why the next few words left my mouth against my better judgment.
"If only I was interested." I leaned into him, taking in the smell of rain on his clothes. It was like he had sat in the middle of a rain cloud this morning. "I wouldn't be caught dead with you now or in the fantasy world you just created in your head." The guy was stunned into silence. I pushed past him to head to class, praying his wasn't in any of mine.
What I had done was the definition of stupid. Humans never challenged a Telepath and lived to tell the tale. If they decided to spare you, you became their one and only obsession as they tried to break your spirit.
So much for blending in.
I spotted Jesse outside the school, between the main building and the trailers, pacing back and forth. I exited the school and kept heading toward the trailers as if Jesse wasn't there. "Can we talk?" he asked as I passed by.
I stared behind me through the glass doors to see the Telepath guy starting after me. Today was the day my big mouth finally got me in trouble. "This is not the time or place."
Jesse glanced in the direction of the door, spotting the Telepath. "Fine. Meet me after school."
The Telepath was getting closer to the door. Soon, he'd have a vantage point where he could see Jesse and me. "Can't. Just meet me back here tomorrow. I'll try to shake the Telepath."
Jesse opened a portal behind him. "Stop provoking him." He stepped through it.
"That's easy for you to say," I mumbled.
I quickly scurried into the classroom, finding my seat in the middle of the room far from the desk with the water droplet in the corner. The Telepath was going to be in this class, but thankfully I had some space to breathe.
The Storm Telepath entered the classroom and immediately walked over to the girl sitting in the desk next to me. "Take my seat up front," he ordered; I let out an inaudible sigh. The girl quickly grabbed her things and headed to his seat up front.
He sat down next to me smiling. I was a mystery to him, one he was going to figure out. I only hoped there was still time to free myself from his curiosity. "Looks like we'll be spending some time together," he said.
I stayed in my seat with my eyes facing forward like a good little human. I didn't want to provoke him anymore. "Yes."
The Telepath nudged my shoulder with his index finger. "Come on. Where's that spunk I saw a few moments ago?" It's still here.
I took a deep breath in. This was the loophole I was waiting for. "I'm sorry for being rude earlier. I had a bad morning. It won't happen again, sir."
The Telepath poked my shoulder harder. "Liar. I see how tempted you are to put me in my place. Go ahead, human."
I turned to the guy, finally making eye contact with him. I was being dragged into his game and, slowly, becoming a willing participant. I hated how easily my own ego could be bruised. The years of acting like a human hadn't tamed my Telepath spirit, and it was about to get me in a whole lot of trouble. "What you see is the work of nerves," I stated coldly.
He smiled. "Do I make you nervous?"
I narrowed my eyes. "If I say yes, will you leave me alone?"
The Telepath shook his head. "No. I want you to say what's on your mind. You were clearly fine doing so in the hallway."
I flipped my legs over my chair, so my feet were in the aisle separating the Telepath's chair from mine. There was no doubt in my mind that I'd regret my actions in the near future, but how could I pass up such a simple request like this?
"Just remember, you asked for it."
I sent out tiny tendrils of power to the Telepath's unguarded mind. It was cute how he thought he was safe here among us. He should've learned you're never safe in this world. The feelers I sent out were tiny projections of my conscious and unconscious mind. As a Molecular Telepath, I had a little more control over the workings of my mind than most Telepaths.
"Do you mind if I hold your hand?" I asked the Telepath shyly.
The Telepath rested his soft hand in mine, loving my small request. I rubbed my thumb over the back of his hand smiling as I traced his knuckles. He was relaxing, opening more of his mind to me. This wasn't even going to be a challenge for me.
"This facade you project here at school is to cover up the scared little boy you truly are." He began pulling his hand away before I clamped my fingers around his. He was realizing how bad his idea was.
"Your mom tries to protect you from your father, but she can never dull the harsh reality of your daily life. You're a disappointment to him." I paused for dramatic effect the way psychics did in old movies. "He's the reason you're in this hell hole with us. He doesn't want you to be a burden to the teachers at the Telepath prep school where the rest of your little Telepath friends are."
I didn't look up and I didn't need to. I could sense the look of horror plainly written on his face for the rest of the class to see. He'd given up trying to free his hand at this point. He knew it was all over.
"Most likely you live in the shadow of an older sibling with much more potential than you. A brother maybe?" I looked up at him for a brief moment to see I hit a nerve. "Sadly, you'll never surpass him in your father's eyes even if the world sees you succeed in doing so." I patted the Telepath's hand before returning my feet under my desk.
The Telepath pushed his desk to the side, causing it to hit the empty desk to his right. He hovered over me, ready to strike me down, I could feel the electricity in the atoms surrounding us. If it came down to it, I'd let him electrocute me even though every inch of my being urged me to take him on right here. It wasn't a question of whether or not I'd win, I could take him with my eyes closed. He got this freebie so I could keep some shred of my human cover intact.
"How dare you speak to me like that?"
I didn't dare look up. I provoked him enough today. "Was I wrong?" Guess my mouth had other ideas. The Telepath huffed and puffed beside me. "Didn't think so." I really needed to find my off switch because at the moment, it was nonexistent. The Telepath walked out of the room to regain his composure.
I wanted to leave the room with him because I could feel the wandering eyes of my human classmates. What I did was unthinkable for any human or even a relatively powerful half-telepath. I kept my eyes down and focused on the random patterns on my desk. The teacher thankfully walked in, saving me from having to explain myself to any of my curious classmates.
After first period, I headed inside the building for English. The Telepath never came back to biology class after I exposed him to our human classmates. I prayed he wouldn't show up anywhere else today either. The embarrassment I put him through had to be enough for him to leave me alone. I couldn't be more wrong.
Sitting next to my assigned seat was the Telepath once again smiling. "Came back for round two?" I asked him.
The Telepath pulled out his schedule. "Yes." His schedule mirrored mine exactly.
I smiled, grinding my back teeth as I did. "You must really like being embarrassed by a human in front of all your slaves."
He smiled back at me, but this one was genuine unlike mine. "I don't care what they think. I do care what you think of me." Ugh. "I'm Todd by the way."
I glared at him, wishing I could shoot lasers out of my eyes right now. "Are you going to tell me your name?" he asked.
My look of anger never wavered. "How about you come up with it yourself?" I was challenging him once again. I knew he couldn't locate my name in my mind if he tried. My defenses were too strong for most TWA officers, let alone future trainees.
Todd shook his head. "You and I both know I can easily take it from you. I want you to say it."
I locked my jaw. "Natalia," I spat.
Todd scooted his desk, noisily, closer to mine. "That's such a pretty name." I rolled my eyes.
The fact he was trying to be a decent human being made me wish he was trying to make my life a living hell. Maybe that was his game plan in the end. It would be more bearable than this.
Another guy sat down next to me on my right. From the corner of my eye, I could make out curly brown hair. "Alex?" He turned to face me; he had a nice shiner adorning his right eye. "What happened?"
Alex covered his eye with his hand as if he could erase the image from my mind. "I ran into Billy."
Todd snickered behind me; I punched him in the shoulder, hard. "I should've been there. Does it hurt?" I reached out toward him wanting to heal the broken capillaries. It would be easy for me to fix.
"Not bad." Alex pulled away. "You can't always be there to protect me."
Except I could. Billy always orchestrated it so he could find Alex alone without witnesses, so he could beat him up. He never took anything from Alex, except his dignity.
"Besides, I got a couple of punches in." I grinned and that was all he was really looking for. He beamed with pride at such a small gesture. Humans were easily pleased.
"I'm glad for you, human, but I need you to stop talking to my girlfriend."
Alex flinched. Human was a trigger word for him. "You're dating him? Since when?" asked Alex.
Todd wrapped his arm around my waist, pulling me closer to him. "She practically begged me to give her the light of day this morning. How could I say no to such a gorgeous face who so desperately needed an upgrade from you?" He caressed my cheek.
Todd was getting really close to a trip to the nurse's office with a broken nose. "We're not dating and we never will." I peeled his arm off my waist. "If you ever want me on your arm, you'll have to use mind control on me."
Todd wasn't discouraged. It would've been too easy if he was. "I like a challenge. You'll fall for me. By the end of this year, you'll be begging to be my girlfriend."
I turned my back on Todd, wanting him to disappear forever in a worm hole. "How was your first period, Alex?"
Alex relaxed with the change of subject. "I saw Sally in choir. I did exactly what you told me to and guess what she said."
"Yes?" Alex nodded; I wrapped him in a large hug, hoping it made Todd jealous.
Alex's had a crush on Sally for years, but never had the courage to ask her out. I finally took matters into my own hands. One day when we were out with a group of our friends, which included Sally, I read her mind. She was waiting on the edge of her seat for Alex to ask her out. I relayed the information to Alex, hoping it would be the final push he needed to muster up the courage. It seems it was.
The teacher walked in. "I'm so happy for you," I said as I pulled away from Alex.
"Settle down, students. Young man, separate your desk from that girl's." I kept my eyes down, trying not to attract the attention from my classmates once again, but I could feel their eyes slowly moving my way. It was going to be a long school year.
School finally ended after seven annoying hours of Todd's unrelenting stares. I rushed out of my last class and to the carpool line. The smell of rain on Todd earlier this morning pointed to him riding a cloud here. I hoped he'd be riding that cloud home.
Someone tapped me on the arm. I pulled my fist back behind my ear, ready to slug Todd with a little extra force from the molecules around my fist. However, Alex was the one standing beside me. He cringed; I lowered my fist as I opened it to a flat palm.
"Sorry. I thought you were someone else."
"Who did you think he was?" I turned to find Todd on the other side of me. "You run really fast."
I closed my eyes. "Aren't you taking a cloud or tornado back home?"
Todd smiled. "My mom's coming to pick me up."
Alex tapped me on my arm again but more timidly this time. "Can I get a ride home? My mom called and said the car was back in the shop."
I smiled. "Of course." Alex stood beside me, silent.
Todd spun me around in my own little tornado so I was looking right at him. I didn't appreciate the invasion of my personal space. "Are you busy Friday? I was invited to Anthony's party and I want you to be my plus one," said Todd.
I'd heard about this infamous Anthony, although I'd never seen him with my own eyes. He was a Telepath who threw the best parties, or so I'm told. If you were among the "lucky" humans, you got to be a Telepath's date. I had no desire to be one.
"Great. I'll be by to pick you up at six. Wear something sexy." Todd left for his car; I sighed.
"He's really into you," said Alex.
I brushed back strands of hair that escaped my ponytail throughout the day. "It's my fault. I provoked him." I spotted my mom's beat up van among the rest. "My mom's here."
Alex followed directly behind me. The back door of the van was already open waiting for us. "Mom, Alex needs a ride home." My mom beckoned us both in.
We drove to the stop sign at the end of the carpool lane with a smile on her face. "How was school?"
Alex chuckled. "Eventful for both of us." I was about to be in major trouble.
My mom looked into her rear view mirror. The smile was fading from her tired face. "Oh really?"
Alex nodded. "Both of us have a date." My mom's eyes met mine.
I bit my lower lip. "It's nothing."
Alex raised his eyebrows. "I wouldn't call your Telepath suitor nothing."
My mom slammed on the brakes before she could hit the car in front of us. "What?!"
I took control of Alex's mind setting him in a vivid daydream about Sally. He was oblivious to the world around him immediately. "Mom, don't overreact."
"What happened to blending in?!"
I shut down Alex's hearing pathway. I didn't want it affecting the daydream I set in place. "I tried, okay? I had a bad morning and wasn't over it before running into a Storm Telepath. I'm handling it."
My mom started moving toward the neighborhood. "The hell you are. You know not to engage with Telepaths at school." She flipped her blinker on to turn down the road to our neighborhood. "When is this date of yours?"
I crossed my arms and sunk down in my seat. Thanks a lot, Alex. "Friday. I've been invited to a Telepath's party."
My mom's knuckles began to turn white as she gripped the steering wheel with a steel grip. "We can't afford anymore slip ups."
I restored Alex's hearing first. "I know. I promise I'll be the perfect human from now on." I gently stirred Alex from his daydream, returning him to reality.
My mom turned into our neighborhood. "Make sure you are."