In that moment, James felt the strangest and most exhilarating feeling he'd ever experienced. What was meant to be a mere second became two, and then three, but then James pulled away, afraid of the complete openness in Kathryn's mind. He could read her every thought, see her every dream, feel her every feeling, while they were connected mentally as well as physically. It startled him.
As Kathryn's face pulled away from his and her eyes slowly opened, he found himself gazing into the deepest blue eyes he'd ever seen for the second time in his life. They were so deep that for a split second, he thought he saw into her very soul, and what he read there startled him even more, so much that it caused him to stumble backwards as a fear he had never had the chance to experience clutched at his heart.
"What is it?" she asked, looking at him quizzically, although she was a little breathless.
"Noth-nothing," he replied. "But… you didn't tell me you were a telepath!"
"I'm not," she said, even more confused than before.
"But you have to be!" said James. "We just shared a telepathic connection, and that doesn't happen between anybody except two telepaths."
"Well I'm telling you, I'm not!" she exclaimed. "Maybe you're wrong. You're not always right, you know!"
James sighed. He'd done it again. "I know." He said. "I'm sorry. But I am right about this… you may not be a telepath YET, but you definitely have the ability. Let me teach you?"
Kathryn considered him carefully. "Alright," she said, "can we start now?"
James raised an eyebrow. "Umm… sure. First, we'll sit down and do meditation exercises."
"Meditation?" inquired Kathryn.
"It focuses your mind and quiets you," explained James.
"Oh. Okay," said Kathryn.
Both sat down in the soft short grass that covered the floor of the clearing, right in the large circle formed by the escaped ray of late morning sunlight.
"All you do is breathe evenly and listen to the sounds around you," instructed James. "Try to pick out the quietest one, something you wouldn't normally pay attention to, and hone in on it."
Kathryn nodded and closed her eyes. James watched her face for a moment as it became relaxed and blank, then did the same.
Kathryn first concentrated on her breathing. In…out…. in… out… when it became regular and she was close to falling asleep, she opened her mind to the noises she had been tuning out. Suddenly she heard once again the deep, somewhat faint roar of the river, the gurgle of the little stream in the clearing, the chirps and songs of hundreds of birds in the surrounding area, the rustle of leaves on the trees around them, the scratch of squirrels' claws on the bark of the trees. Slowly, as she focused on each of them in turn, searching for the quietest one, she began to hear a steady beat—the faintest of them all. She focused on it and it alone, breathing in time with the relentless lub-dub-lub-dub-lub-dub-lub-dub.
James focused on his own meditation for a while, but over time he had practiced it so often that it was no great trial at all to find the quietest sound. When he got bored, which didn't take long at all, he opened his eyes and watched Kathryn in her own quest. Her face was very serene, which, combined with the effect of the bright light shining down upon her and making a halo around her blonde head, made her look even prettier than usual.
James eventually got bored even with looking at her, and was curious enough that he decided to see what she was thinking about. He tentatively reached out a mental tendril toward her and let down the mental barriers that would stop anyone who tried to look inside his mind. Just as his tendril had reached Kathryn, however, it was stopped and forced back. James was completely taken by surprise and had to stop himself from jumping instantly to his feet. He gingerly sent out his tendril again, only to be rewarded with the same experience, something that could almost be described as a mental "slap". This time, though, he felt the presence of someone else in his open mind, and before he could throw up his barriers he heard Kathryn's voice.
:Stop trying to read my mind!: she said, a bit angrily.
:You said you didn't know telepathy!: James replied, equally angry at what he assumed was a deliberate lie.
:I didn't know that I did: she replied. :It still gives you no right to barge into others' thoughts. If you want to know what I'm thinking about so badly, just ask!:
:Alright, what are you thinking about?:
:At the moment, how mad at you I am. You interrupted my other, better thoughts: said Kathryn's disembodied voice.
James pressed on. :Like…?:
:Like I'm going to tell you now!:
:Fine: James' mental voice was obviously very miffed, and with a strong mental push he shoved Kathryn out of his mind and replaced his barriers before physically getting up and stalking out of the clearing.
Kathryn opened her own eyes as soon as she was pushed out and got up to follow James. However, when she entered the forest in the exact spot he had, he was nowhere in sight. She listened carefully but heard no sound except that of the myriad of birds high in the trees and the gentle bubbling of the brook in the clearing behind her.
"James?" she called, starting to get a little frightened that she might very well be stuck in the unfamiliar forest. "James?!"
Nothing replied to her cries.
Seeing that she had half a day ahead of her, Kathryn decided to go ahead and try to get back on her own. She started walking in the direction she thought James had headed, although a straight path was difficult since trees were constantly in her way and she had to go one way or the other around them.
On she walked, and eventually the sun sank lower and lower, until she could hardly see five feet in front of her anymore. Hungry, thirsty, and tired, she resigned herself to spending a night alone in the dark forest.
Kathryn was lost.