Author: IndiLovely PM
Love, heartbreak. Friendship, betrayal. Life, death. It all becomes a jumble of words to Jasmine as she feels herself becoming a mindless weapon for the brutal, unforgiving hands of the Academy. Can she find a way to survive without being drawn to danger?Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 16 - Words: 58,476 - Reviews: 28 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 18 - Updated: 08-09-12 - Published: 02-26-12 - id: 3000484
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Hello kind reader!
I think, just like every other author, I'm just going to have to stop apologising for being so late with updates. I have moments in my life when I'm in a writing mood, and obviously make the most of them, and I feel like I can only write to the best of my abilities when I'm in that mood. Along with this, I've recently acquired Skyrim, which is taking up the majority of my free time.
But enough with the excuses. Here's the next chapter.
**CHAPTER 14 – Perspective**
Girls' skirts were too short.
What was the point of them? So they could show off their (in many cases stumpy) legs to the rest of the Academy? If guys wanted to see girls' legs, they would ask them to their dorm rooms or pull their skirts up themselves to catch a glimpse. Many times, Zane had seen perverted professors' eyes straying to those practically naked rear ends. In some cases, even for Zane, the experience was just purely unpleasant.
Take Bree, for example. Right now, at a dauntingly great speed, she was bouncing towards Zane – literally. The professors were lenient when it came to the Academy's uniform; they didn't mind if the students added their own originality and spiced it up a little, so long as there weren't important visitors popping in. But Zane was surprised that no professor had stopped Bree yet. With the amount of buttons undone and skin exposed, very little was left to the imagination. Of course, Zane had seen all of those parts of her before, and more. But no need to delve into that now.
What was really getting on his nerves was that he was considering getting his sunglasses, because Bree's legs were so vibrantly orange that it hurt to look at them.
He didn't know if Bree had spotted him yet or not, so he decided that he really was not up to dealing with her today, and with that decision he flung himself around the nearest corner, which happened to be into the library. He breathed a sigh of relief, glad to be free of the mind-penetrating, squealing giggles that were echoing more and more quietly off the white walls as Bree retreated with her friends down the corridor.
It wasn't that Zane didn't like Bree; she was okay, when she wasn't trying to drag him back to his dorm room and ripping his clothes off at the same time (talk about multitasking women). It was just that Zane had other things to think about at the moment.
He was being an irrational idiot. He'd never been rejected by a girl, and never planned on it. Jasmine hadn't exactly rejected him yet; she was just… playing hard to get. She'd barely even crack a smile at his jokes, just like the porcelain doll people made her out to be. Her expression tended to turn stoic whenever she caught Zane's eye, and the soft blue in those irises turned to hard ice.
More than once, Zane had wondered if it was just a façade she was putting on, and she was concealing her true attraction towards him. He'd experienced that before with girls, and not once had he not been able to crack their shells. It just took longer, but that made it all the more fun.
Stop it, Zane. You're treating this like it's a game. But wasn't it? He was doing exactly as he had with all the other girls, and although he hadn't prevailed yet, he was confident he would. It was always a game with them, and he couldn't deny that he had multiple trophies secured in his cabinet.
But he refused to admit to himself that he was suppressing the unfamiliar queasy-but-pleasant feeling in his stomach that decided to make an appearance whenever those wide, blue eyes locked with his. Many times, he'd gritted his teeth when he'd seen her, and forced himself to wink egotistically to restrain himself from wrapping her in his arms, satisfying his incessant need of proximity to her. She only made it harder whenever that red blush tinged her cheeks when she got embarrassed by one of his multiple innuendos.
With a sigh that carried all the weight of his emotions, Zane advanced further into the poorly populated library. Most students were probably just leaving class, but Zane had… excused himself from Intelligence training, since he really had better things to do instead of sitting in front of a mind-numbingly simple exercise on a bright, headache-inducing computer screen.
But only moments later, his quest for solitude was once again interrupted. For about five metres away, there stood Malenthios, his eyes glued to one of the main touch-sensitive computer screens of the library, as he dragged web pages from one large screen to the other. Zane had rarely seen his brother so immersed in something, so he decided to investigate.
Since Theo was in a state of such deep concentration, it didn't take much effort for Zane to creep up behind him, even though few others could manage it. He guessed it was just a perk of growing up with this weirdo.
But once Zane was close enough, he saw the content of the web pages.
They were all… pages on therapy. For phobias.
"Got hidden haphephobia, eh?" Zane leered down Theo's neck, making the other twin whip round, his defences falling for just a split second. And in that split second, Zane saw the rare emotion of surprise flit across his face. Wow, Theo must have been more engrossed than he'd originally thought.
"No," Theo replied calmly. "Was there something you needed?"
"Aw, don't gimme that!" Zane exclaimed as he tried to look over Theo's shoulder to get a closer look at the pages, but as quick as lightning, the pages were closed, and the familiar, bright default wallpaper filled the screen. Zane sighed with frustration.
"If that's all," Theo said as he logged off, "I should go." And without another word, he strode off.
What was with him? Theo wasn't usually that jumpy – or jumpy at all, actually.
Unless he was with Jasmine, of course. Then he acted as jumpy as an epileptic frog.
Theo thought of them together brought a churning fury to Zane's stomach which, once again, he fought back. He'd been doing that a lot recently. Why, you may ask? When Zane had been hanging around with Jas, there would be a few sporadic moments when Jas' defence would falter, and Zane would see those blue eyes widen with shock, and the depths of them were open for Zane to dive into. But before he was welcomed into them, the expression always fled from her face, and she regained her usual cold composure.
Zane had also been noticing a certain pattern in those events. The expression always seemed to immediately follow a time when her and Theo's shoulders brushed, even so lightly that she shouldn't register it. The fact that Theo could gain this response from such a casual encounter – even when Zane put in his greatest efforts, he would barely earn a scornful smirk – filled Zane with the brim with a suffocating fire burning inside of him.
Theo two of them did everything together these days. At breakfast and lunch, they sat together, conversing quietly, until someone else attempted to include them in the group's discussion. It was usually Zane, at the point when he couldn't bear that burning feeling for a second longer.
But for the first time, in that gym, the red of the gym floor had seeped into his mind when he saw Jasmine and Theo laying so care-freely on it, clasping each other's hands like they were each other's lifelines. At the sight, Zane had let his emotions control him. He'd been rude and unnecessarily harsh to Jasmine out of bitterness, and he wouldn't be surprised if he'd just made things worse, and Theo was heading over to her dorm now to comfort her.
Zane's eyes moved back to the blank computer screen as he remembered what had been on it moments ago.
And just like that, his mind clicked. Theo would be comforting her… and counselling her.
Within the same second, Zane was logging back onto the computer, his mind frantic with his own new hopes and ideas upon the realisation.
Jasmine never wore skirts that were too short for her. Hell, she was so short that even if she tried to, the skirt would brush past her knees.
And no matter how undesirable that should have looked, just a fleeting glance at the pale, bare skin of her legs never, ever failed to send a shiver of longing racing up Zane's spine.
Never, in my entire experience as a human being, had I felt more like a pest.
During the walk back to my dorm after hearing Zane's words, it felt like I was one of those insects that people either threw a disgusted look, or just ignored completely. Since I had made a few friends at this hell of a school, I'd naïvely assumed that people had just magically stopped judging me as some inexperienced newbie-alien-freak. But Zane had shattered that unrealistic fantasy and dropped me smack bang back in the middle of pure loathing. Without my friends with me, I felt vulnerable to even the youngest students.
In some ways, I was grateful towards Zane. He had reopened my eyes, and made me realise that I was being selfish in trying to make friends with people like Frankie and Dee, who could be compared to the kind-hearted people who walk along streets and feed stray animals instead of just treating them like dirt. But none of those generous people expect the animals to follow them home and beg for food, shelter and love. Because that would just be greedy of the animals, wouldn't it?
I unlocked the door to my dorm room (the hand scanner had already lost its novelty that used to lift my mood) and standing in the middle of the room, with her tanned arms crossed, was Kathy.
"You," she began venomously, pointing a manicured finger at me, "need to tell your robot to start cleaning some of your shit up." She gestured to a few scattered clothes on the floor. "It doesn't seem to answer to me, which proves that the new robot generation is full of the crappy chunks of metal I knew it would be." John stood in the doorframe of the kitchen, absorbing the words without a flicker of emotion. I wished I could do that. "And to top that off, the piece of junk claims you 'told him to leave it there'. I mean what the hell? Is it retarded? Dysfunctional?" She glared at me, demanding an explanation with her cold eyes.
In fact, when I was in a grumpy state this morning, I hadn't wanted John there while I got ready, but hadn't wanted to offend him. So I'd told him to stop picking up all my crap, since 'everything was in a specific order on the floor'. He had obliged, slightly baffled, and left me in peace.
Normally, I would've unleashed my own personal version of hell to rival against Kathy's current one, causing John to try once again to break up a fight that Kathy would certainly win. She used her fingernails like claws. But today I just murmured 'sorry' and began to pick up my clothes around her. Not only did I not feel like having a brawl with her, but I had also gained some sort of twisted trust of her, since she made her opinion of me obvious, without any façade of friendliness.
I could feel her incredulous stare on the back of my neck. "Did someone else die or something?" She sighed when I froze, feeling cold flooding through my veins. "Okay, low blow. But seriously, you're acting like you saw someone eat a kitten."
"Sorry," I repeated, without having anything to actually apologise for. "Nothing happened. I'm fine."
John decided to intercept. "Jas, would you like some coffee?"
"I'm fine," I repeated through my teeth, nothing but annoyed at his hospitality. "You can go for the night." I was getting closer to the bathroom.
"Are you sure there's nothing else –"
"I said I'm fine!" I screamed at the robot, my self control thrown out of the window as I poured out my frustration on the incessantly clingy robot. "God, you're so annoying!" And with that, I finally reached my destination, and slammed the bathroom door shut behind me.
And you think Kathy was being harsh? I thought bitterly to myself in the sudden silence. He was only trying to help.
The weight of exhaustion made me drag my feet as I started to get ready for bed. Come to think of it, I really could have used that coffee. But it was a little late for that now.
When I was in my pyjamas, freshened up and ready for bed, I left the bathroom and began to head towards my longed-for bed –
But I didn't reach it. Because blocking my path stood Frankie and with her, the ultimate boulder that I'd never be able to move: Dee. Their expressions were a mix between concerned and thunderous. Well, Dee's was more of the latter.
"Jas!" she screeched. "We thought you'd been killed by Theo when you didn't report back to our room with everything that happened!" She yanked me into a breath-depriving bear hug.
I choked out a sob when her touch burned me, and my vision turned hazy as Rafael forced his way into my mind once again. But remembering the techniques Theo had been through with me, breathing in Dee's scent and remembering that I was safe, brought me very slowly back to my dorm room. I stood wordlessly in Dee's arms, praying that none of them had noticed my outburst.
Kathy spoke up from the corner. "I thought Francesca and Deborah would now if something had happened. I'll leave you kiddies to it." With that dismissal, she left into the bathroom, undoubtedly to perform her daily evening facial routine.
John was nowhere to be seen. I felt guilt stab through me like a knife for what I'd said to him.
My throat felt tight, and only partly because Dee was squashing it in her hug. It was mostly because I was beginning to feel the weight that I was loading on both of the girls' lives. Hell, even Kathy went out of her way to make me feel better. I pushed back the tears threatening to fall, and had half recovered by the time Dee pulled away.
"Did something happen?" Frankie asked from next to her, sounding as caring as the mother I no longer had.
But she wasn't. She was a teenage girl, who had her own life to run. She shouldn't even have been my friend for all that time, for the amount I kept demanding from her. "Sorry," I said for the third time that night. "I was just tired. Training took it out of me."
"Nuh uh, don't give me the 'tired' bullshit," Dee demanded, even though it was half true. She kept her hands on my shoulders so she could give me a glare. "Did something happen with Theo? Did he do something?"
I shook my head quickly. "No, no… Theo was fine. I just had a talk with Zane on my way back."
The pairs of the eyes of both girls in front of me widened simultaneously. "You mean," Frankie breathed, "he told you he…?"
So they knew? They'd been talking about it behind my back? Oh well, I thought dully, might as well get it over with. "He told me I was being bothersome to everyone. That I should just leave you all alone." With a deep breath, I looked up to meet their incredulous gazes while trying desperately to keep a hold on my dignity. "So, I'm sorry. You don't have to be here. You should go get some sleep."
If they chose to leave now, all the connections between us would be cleanly cut off. There was a moment of silence in which I assumed they were processing the words.
"The fuck is Zane thinking?" Dee muttered, clenching her fists.
"But more importantly," Frankie began, sounding hurt. "Why would you think we don't want you around?"
I let my eyes fall to the floor, ashamed, as a hollow feeling started to spread through my chest. "Because I've been a burden, and you know it. I've been loading my crap on you ever since I got here, and I know you've both got enough to deal with already." My voice grew thick, and I had to swallow back tears. Keep it together, wimp. Crying won't help.
Another look of pure disbelief. "What the hell, Jas!" Dee shouted, her eyes shining with tears. "That's what friends do! They help each other get out of their shitty problems! We know you'd do the same for us, so you don't need to be so dramatic and self-loathing by thinking otherwise."
"Oh yeah?" I found myself raising my voice, and felt a tear drop down my cheek. "When have I ever done that for you? It's been months, and the help has only been to me and not to you! Zane said it himself – I'm useless to you."
"Useless?" Frankie cut in, her usually bubbly demeanour changing into one of fury. "Have some self respect; you look pathetic right now! In this world, you can't just isolate yourself from everyone and everything when something goes wrong; that's what we build up defences for, so that we can work with other people without letting our personal lives get in the way."
"Otherwise," Dee finished, "your vulnerability gets you targeted and you're killed, or worse. Which, at this rate, is going to happen to you the minute you step out of the Academy doors."
"You don't think I know that?" My voice grew cold. "Rafael took me, and my family, and made my little brother scream. Of course I know what's going to happen to me out there. I'm trying my best, okay?" With a sigh, I shut my eyes and gestured to the door. "Just go. Please? I just want to go to bed."
Dee spun round and stalked through the door, shutting it behind her with a slam so violent it made the door shake on its hinges. Frankie hesitated for a moment, pleading with me through her tear filled eyes, before following Dee, letting the door shut with the softest click.
Emotionally drained and physically exhausted, I fell onto my bed and was out cold before Kathy even peeked her head around the door of the bathroom.
Dee let the poor boxing bag have it. It wasn't like it deserved it, but she needed to let out her anger in some form. And she preferred using a bag rather than a person.
By the time she heard the door open on the other side of the gym, she was coated with sweat, and panting heavily. She didn't stop, and dared the intruder to interrupt her.
And as a matter of fact, he did. "What's the matter?"
Frankie whirled around to see Jack, his hands in the pockets of his sweat pants. His blonde hair was a shade darker from being damp after a recent shower. Dee tucked her hair behind her ear and stared at the floor. "What makes you think there is one?" she grumbled, not caring that she was giving it away.
He walked up to her, and said with a smile in his voice, "You always feel the need to beat the crap out of something when you're upset. I personally am glad that this time you made it to a punch bag. Although, you should've worn gloves; those hands are gonna need some patching up now."
And with that he walked off, obviously expecting her to follow. Dee hadn't noticed the pain in her hands while she was training, but now little stabs of pain shot along her knuckles, so after hesitating for a moment, she caught up with him.
He led her to the empty sports office, and got out a first aid kit and an ice pack. They sat down on opposite luxurious couches, and Dee glared at her hands as he dabbed the ice pack gently against her knuckles. Despite the calluses on his hands, they were surprisingly gentle, and Dee felt her remaining anger seep away through the cold ice.
The professor sat watching her patiently, even when she lifted her glare to his hazel eyes. "It's not fair," she growled after a minute or two of silence.
He raised an eyebrow.
"You know what I mean, Harding; Jasmine. She's so fragile. This school is already peeling away her defences, and she's practically suicidal already from how much hate she's getting. She won't survive one minute in the real world. You're giving her a death sentence by throwing her out there with Theo."
Jack let out a sigh, and returned to tending to her wounds. He traced each of her knuckles with the ice pack, which helped immensely to cool her returning anger. "It wasn't an easy decision. But, if you really look at her, you can already tell that she was born for this. She's already begun noting everyone's weaknesses with remarkable speed, and although she doesn't yet know how to use that skill to her advantage, Theo will teach her. He's so professional that I knew he was the best choice. And, like I said, they fill in each other's gaps. They're the perfect pair."
"But you've decided her fate for her," Dee said softly. "Everyone has."
He applied bandages, and said nothing for a while. She thought he wasn't going to reply until he said, "Everyone's fate is decided here, Debbie. Jas is no different. No one would get anywhere in life by staying in their comfort zone; by peeling off her old defences, Jas is going to gain new ones. She will adapt, and become a beautiful fighter, just like you." He was finished with fixing her hands, but kept his hold on them, his sincere eyes meeting hers.
Wow. Not to get off topic, but the professor's eyes threw her off. As she stared into them, she could see the depth of the genuine care in them, and how he wasn't holding anything away from her. Trust was a rare thing in the Academy, and there were only a very few people who let down their defences around her.
Jack had very nice eyes. Her heart stuttered for a moment.
They both pulled away suddenly, Dee standing up and almost tripping over her own feet at the same time. "Shit! Sorry, excuse my French. Uh, thanks for this," she said, awkwardly holding up her hands. "I'll see you later."
He smiled slightly at her, but those eyes lacked their previous depth. "See you."
She jogged out into the fresh air that cooled her heated cheeks. For a moment, she stood outside the gym, staring up at the starry sky.
What was that all about? He was her teacher. He was the epitome of out of bounds.
Dee pounded her heart with her fist, forcing it to calm down. Oh, damn.
Bit of a filler chapter – I think there's going to be a lot of drama in the next chapter, since I think it'll be the start of the dance. But I still haven't decided who Jasmine should pick… so I'd love your opinion on who she should end up with, since I'm sitting on the Zane/Theo fence at the moment.
Be sure to post any ideas in reviews. Thanks so much for reading!