Changes

I am never having children, Robin swore. It makes you irrational!

Scott's parents, Leonard and Rachel Michaels, had finally left their son alone after Scott had feigned exhaustion.

Her mage fell back on his bed and threw an arm over his eyes. "I love them. I do," he muttered.

Robin sat cross-legged by his head. "But they make you tired." Scott nodded weakly and she chuckled. After a long explanation that all Scott's parents could do was file a complaint against Gerald's clan and the college, well...

"Do you have parents?" Scott asked.

Robin smirked at the question. "I do. You are unlikely to ever meet them." Her sire was exploring other worlds and her mother was content raising her eighteen siblings. Neither of them were particularly interested in what she was doing.

Now one or two of her siblings, though...

Robin smiled at the upside down face of her mage. "Would you like some privacy? I have a few things to do."

Scott's eyes flew to the door, then nodded.

It was understandable, his apprehension. Robin had given him the choice of staying in the dorms, Head Gerald's clan, or borrow a room with another clan. The college did not approve of mages not living on campus, even for a night.

Scott had chosen to return to Gerald's clan. His things were here and Robin had pointed out that she'd protect him.

Robin stood and raised a shield that would both repel and alert her to anyone seeking entry into the room. "I'll return before nine," she murmured.

Scott looked around the room as she faded out. Robin had promised him that she'd always show up as something, either herself or a sleeve, unless she had previously told him that she was going to hide away.

Nothing. He really was alone.

He sighed deeply and smiled. Between his parents and Robin, he'd felt watched all day.

MMM

There were several things to do. Robin grinned to herself. She was going to enjoy herself!

Her first stop was a supply closet in the administrative building. She carefully chose several pieces of paper and enchanted them the way she wanted.

Half an hour later, Robin folded the four letters into thirds and sent them on their way. Three were to people she knew and the last was to the appropriate person at home. Gerald's clan would be under watch for a long time. Decades, since familiars didn't mark time as humans did.

Those three acquaintances of hers would be eager for the gossip, enraged at harm coming to her mage, and...

Robin smirked evilly.

MMM

Scott sat up at the sound of a bell. But there aren't any-

Robin appeared in the room by the door. "I thought I'd give you some warning. Anything happen?"

"No one even knocked on the door." Was that because of Robin or did no one care enough to even ask how he was?

"Me," Robin said, examining the bookcase. "In that spell is a sign with very largely printed words."

"Don't feed the animals?" Scott asked with a small smile on his lips.

"Mine. Don't Touch." Robin chuckled and sat down on the floor, taking off her short black boots. "You have classes tomorrow." She tilted her head. "Would you like breakfast from New Orleans?"

MMM

Robin watched Scott as he went about his normal morning routine. He ate breakfast. He didn't look at anyone as he walked out the back door of the house. This behavior continued as he made his way to his first class, choosing the less-taken paths.

He sat in the back of the lecture hall, near the end of an aisle, but not within reach of anyone walking by. No one in front of or in back of him by two rows.
Her mage was one of the first ones out of the class. His next errand was the library where he went up the back staircase.

He avoided people and checked where he was going before setting foot on the staircase. If there was someone close, he left the area until later.

This behavior was not to continue. Her mage did not need to hide!

She let him check out his books and proceed out of the library. But when he would have chosen the path that went in-between two buildings, she looped her arm around his.

Scott stopped and stared at her in shock.

"Offended?" she asked, his expression open. He shook his head. "Then why don't we go this way?"

That way was the front entrance to the building that held the cafeteria on the lower level. There would be lots of people there, all jostling each other.

He opened his mouth to say that, but Robin beat him to it. "Anyone tries anything," she stressed, "and I will flatten them."

His eyes widened and he shook his head. "No," she said, raising a finger and pointing at him. "You are my mage. There will be none of this 'they're better than I am.' or 'there must be something wrong with me.' They are a bunch of intolerant assholes and that's that."

She tugged at his arm and he went obediently. She steered him competently through the throng of hungry students and staff until they reached the cafeteria.

Robin saw him through the line, making conversation and looking around. She hadn't paid attention to the familiars at this college in years. The younger ones tended to flock to the newer mages which meant that there wouldn't be too many that she knew.

However...

Scott hesitated with his tray after he'd swiped his lunch card. "Um, should we-?"

"Come with me," she said gently. It was crowded in the cafeteria and backpacks were strewn about like someone had thrown handfuls of confetti.

After picking her way through the tables, Robin stopped a booth against the windows. "Talon, would you and your mage mind some company?"

The male familiar shrugged and nudged his mage with the elbow of his black leather jacket. "Si, want to move your stuff over?"

The woman raised her head from her textbook to look at Talon with confused eyes. "Hm?"

"Be nice and share the table," Talon said plainly.

Sierra's gaze moved from him to the table's surface. The other side of the booth had her backpack and messenger bag taking up the seats. Her tray, soda bottle, textbook, and notebook were spread out on the table. "Oh. Sure."

Talon picked up the bags and put them on the floor by Sierra's side. "Grab 'em on your way out," he told her. She nodded, picking up her notebook and flipping it closed.

Remembering her manners, Sierra nodded to her fellow student. "I'm Sierra, nice to meet you, have you got enough room?"

Scott blinked at the rapid influx of information "Scott. Um, yeah."

Robin saw Scott into the booth and took the outside seat. While he unwrapped his chicken sandwich, she caught Talon's eye. "So how have you been?"

Talon shrugged. "Fine."

"Family?"

"Good."

"Mage?"

That perked Talon up a bit more. "Sierra. Two years."

"Scott. Two days."

Talon raised an eyebrow. "He the one that...?"

"Got all his energy taken? Yes."

"Huh," Talon grunted. "Shame you can't do much about it."

Robin grinned nastily. "I wouldn't say that. Do you think those boys will have familiars for a while?"

"Nope." Talon glanced at Sierra. "Si, you gonna eat that or look at it?"

Sierra stabbed at her tray with her fork, hitting nothing but tray. Talon sighed and slid the part of the tray that had food on it under the fork. Her second try was more successful.

"Focused," Robin observed.

"You have no idea." Talon sighed. "At least it only lasts until classes and homework are done."

"Then she's a party animal?" Robin said dryly.

"She remembers to eat."

Sierra looked up, giving her familiar a dark look. "I'm not that bad."

Talon grinned and put an arm around her shoulders. "Of course not, my little rocket scientist-in-training."

Sierra huffed and put her book away. "I'll prove it." Talon removed his arm. She looked at Scott. "I'm a math major. You?"

Scott chewed quickly. "Biology."

"What did they," she waved back and forth between the familiars, "mean by you got your energy taken?"

"Um..." Scott wasn't really sure he wanted that talked about. "It was just a prank."

Sierra frowned. "Hm. You're not the guy that almost died day before yesterday, right?" Scott grimaced. "You are."

"Yeah," Scott muttered. It wasn't his fault. Things like this just... happened.

"Head Gerald's clan?" she asked. Scott nodded. "Okay. Talon, I'm not joining that clan."

Talon shrugged. "'kay."

"So, Robin," Sierra said, drawing the older familiar's attention. "Do you know Talon?"

Talon groaned. Robin smirked at him. "I know his family. Specifically, his father and older brother."

"Anything you can share?"

"I could, but Talon wouldn't like it." Robin chuckled. "Just be glad you got the one that's responsible with his mages."

Talon scowled. "I'm good at keeping her in one piece."

Robin would have replied to that, but the group of young men that she thought were going to go past them stopped at the table. "Hey, Scott," one of them said, feigning concern. "We heard you almost died. Are you okay?"

Scott tensed. "Yeah," he said quietly. Go away, go away, go away, he thought frantically. This was his first conversation in a long time that wasn't either full of pity or scorn.

Robin met the eyes of the only familiar with the men. He nodded and spoke softly to his mage.

"Derek's not in trouble, though." The second man smirked at Scott. "They'll get a chance to try again."

The male familiar put a hand on his mage's arm and tugged. He was shaken off of the third man.

The first man nodded, echoing the second's statement. "I hope you do the right thing and die next time."

Scott flinched. It always hurt when someone wished him dead. And reinforced the feelings that he was worthless.

Sierra's jaw tightened. Why wasn't someone over here? "Hey-" she started, ready to tell the boys what scum-sucking lowlifes they were.

Talon quickly looped an arm around her shoulder. "Watch," he whispered in her ear.

Robin put her right elbow on the table and leaned her cheek on her hand. "Really?" she purred. "That sounds like a threat to me."

The second man shot her a look. "Just saying. He's a nerd."

Robin chuckled and covered her face with her hand to stall the noise. "I cannot believe you," she said, turning back to them. "Scott almost dies and here you come to tell him that you wished he had."

"Yeah. So?" the first man said.

It was a threat. Scott had not been touched. So there wasn't too much she could do.

Robin looked past the first two to the third's familiar. "Did you try to get him to leave?"

"Yes." The male familiar scowled at his mage. "He didn't listen to me."

"Reconsidering?"

The male familiar hesitated. "Yes."

"I'll stand for you if it's necessary." The familiar nodded to her in thanks.

Robin's attention turned back to the first two. "Now since this is just a threat at this point, I'm going to let you go. But not before pointing out a few facts to you." Robin pointed at Scott. "I'm his familiar. You just threatened my mage without provocation. You will have a complaint against you."

"But more than that," Robin continued. "Every familiar in here saw what happened. We talk. It is entirely likely that you two will never have a familiar look at you twice."

Robin dismissed them with a wave and turned back to Scott. "How's your lunch?"

"Mist!"

Robin stiffened. That was an insult. To say that she was so young, she couldn't hold even the shape of a sleeve.

She slid out of the booth and stood in front of them. "Not a warning after all," she purred.

"Robin."

She didn't turn. "Yes, Scott?"

"I'm used to this."

Rage flooded through her. Her mage was 'used' to this behavior?

Talon snorted. "Wrong thing to say." He stood up in the booth. "Anyone think that these guys are assholes?"

Every familiar either stood up or raised a hand. There wasn't a shortage of dirty looks being thrown at the three men. Or sympathetic glances at the one familiar with them.

"I call for a public mark of intolerant," Talon said casually. "Seconded?"

"Aye!" a chorus rang out.

"Robin?" Talon invited.

Robin flicked her fingers at the two of them and the word for intolerant showed up on the right side of their energy. Any familiar looking at these two would see it.

"You can't do that!" the second one shouted.

"Of course we can," Talon told him, crossing his leather-covered arms over his chest. "And did."

The mage's face screwed up with anger and he lunged at the table. Sierra's eyes widened and she pressed backwards into Talon.

The male familiar thrust an open-palmed hand at the man. The force of the spell hit him and threw him backwards where other people scrambled to move out of his way before they were hit.

The man slammed into a spell wall of Robin's. "Temper, Talon," she said playfully. "Don't break him."

"What's going on in here?" A uniformed security officer finally arrived.

Robin sighed. Life with Scott wasn't boring at least.