When we got back to the dorms, I prepared myself for the talk I wasn't sure I wanted to have. I had asked Darell to throw the salt in the trash outside the building while I took a shower. To be honest, I was sure he'd take the easy way out and just dump it in the hall's bin, but when I was done scrubbing up he wasn't in the living room. I guess he really wanted that info. You know, he was being a good boy so he could definitely get the cookie.

So, I sat down on the couch and thought of a way to get him to understand what I was planning to offer.

About five minutes later, a light went off in my head and I sneaked into my room, grabbing 20 flashcards. I started scribbling on them things like "I love you" and "I'm scared." I was on my last five when Darell walked in, a light film of sweat on his forehead.

"Do you know how freaking hot it is outside?" he blurted before I could get a word in. His eyes instantly zoomed to the cards in my hand. "What's that for?"

Curiosity killed the cat.

"This is what you wanted to know. Now, take a shower."

"I already did, this morning."

I glared at him.

"Then, take another one."

"But, you bandaged my foot."

"I'll bandage it again."

"You're just trying to distract me!"

"My goodness! Are you afraid of showers?"

"No, I just know that you'll fall asleep or something!" he growled.

"Well, wash your face, then!"

"Fine!" He stormed to the restroom and I could hear the water running.

"With cold water!"

"Fine!" he snapped.

I smirked. Was it weird to think how cute his reactions were?


It was…

When he was done, he stomped up to me and stretched out his arms to show his bare chest. It was wet.

"There! Happy?"

"Ecstatic," the grin on my face was supposed to come off as sarcastic, but he was just so odd for even listening, much less going the extra mile to please me, that I couldn't help but appear amused. "Now, come on. In we go," I motioned to the room. He quietly followed me, but the feeling of "for all that is sacred, finally!" wafted around him.

He closed the door behind us and watched me as I walked to the center of the room. I came to a halt. Neither of us budged, each waiting for the other to make the first move. Oh, man, it had to be me…

"I thought really hard about this," I started, nervously bringing my right hand to my lips. His ears perked up at my voice and his eyes locked with mine. "I don't know how to explain it very well, because I don't know how you see things. I mean, I suppose it's a lot quieter, probably more balanced, but I'm not sure what balanced is, so I'm just spouting ideas of whats and ifs and maybes, and-" I stopped.

"You're rambling," he calmly offered, leaving the door and approaching me with slow, careful steps.

I sighed.

"Yes, I am rambling, aren't I?"

"And you're making no sense."

"I suppose not."

Another long pause ensued.

"So…" he nodded me to continue while grabbing my hand and gently pulling it away from my mouth. For a second there, I was caught in his gentle gaze. It was kind of hard to snap out of it, but I did.

"Here's a game I made to help." I shoved 10 of the 20 cards in his hand and backed away, awaiting his reaction.

"Oh, come on! I thought you knew I didn't want any games or running around!" he growled, pushing the flashcards back at me.

"No! You got it wrong! This will help!" I insisted, thrusting the papers to his chest. "It will! Oh, God, I hope it will!" This time, he took them.

"You don't sound very confident," he commented, still wary of the whole situation.

"That's because I've never done this before…"

He didn't say anything to this. Instead, he shuffled the cards around, looking confusedly at the writing on each.

"So, here are the rules," I snapped him out of his light reading. "Those are yours and these are mine," I waved mine around and he looked at me like I was stupid. "You read yours and I read mine." I smiled to myself as he shot me the I'm-not-a-moron look. "Now, as you go through them, if you read a card that's positive, I want you to rub the back of your hand, okay?" He nodded. "But, if you read one that's negative, I want you to hit it, instead. Okay?" He was quick to look alarmed.

"You want me to hit myself?" he was absolutely astounded by my request.

"It could be a light tap. Is that okay?"

After some thought, he reluctantly nodded.

"Well, then, let's start!"

He knew something was up, but went along with it like a good sport.

So, he started with the first one, reading "I won first place" and rubbing his hand. Then, he flipped to "I failed my test" and lightly tapped himself. Just as he was getting a good rhythm, I suddenly shoved one of my cards right in his face. He looked alarmed, and mouthed "Nothing goes my way," before looking at me completely bamboozled. You should have seen the shock on his face when I suddenly smacked his hand with quite some force. He practically jumped in the air.

"Ow! What the hell, man?!" he shook away the tingling feeling and I pretended that nothing had ever happened. "What's wrong with-?"

I shoved another of my cards in his face, making him read "I'm so lonely." My hand shot back up and smacked his again. This time, he yelped and pulled his arm out of reach.

"What the hell? Are you nuts?"

But, I gazed up at him with a confused look.

"What do you mean?"

"What's wrong with you?!"

I shook my head.

"Nothing's wrong. Why do you ask?" At this, I showed him a card reading "I found $100," before grabbing his hand and gently rubbing his reddening skin. "Keep playing," I reminded him and returned to my papers.

He eyed me like I was nuts but went through his stack, lightly tapping or rubbing his prickling hand. And, every time he thought he was safe, I'd shove my words in his face and smack him. At some point, he was so angry and so frustrated with my behavior that he growled and grabbed me by my shirt.

"What the fuck are you doing, hitting me?"

My hands flew up in defense.

"I didn't do anything!" I protested, though my sincerity was seriously lacking.

"Yeah, so my hand got red all on its own, huh?"

"How am I supposed to know why your skin changes color?"

He stared at me, flabbergasted.

"You little, liar! I saw you! You shoved your cards in my face and then slapped me!"

At this, I mock-gasped.

"My cards? That's not possible. That was all you!"

He snarled. Oh, yes he did. He bared his teeth at me and released this low rumble in his throat, which, under different circumstances, would have probably been more…attractive

Somehow, I managed to pry myself out of his grasp, but I didn't back down. I stood in front of him, chest to chest and eye to eye, as if we were having a face off.

"I followed what you told me and I read my cards!"


"So, don't give me yours!"

At this, I paused.


"Yes, yours! The rules were that I read mine and you read yours!"

I walked even closer to him, our bodies only centimeters apart. He looked down at me with apprehension and I smirked at how tense he was. He didn't expect me to snatch the cards out of his hands and quickly shuffle them with my own. He watched me as I raised the white papers to my eye level and I could feel the nervousness rolling off of him. My smirk grew.

In one quick motion, I threw the cards into the air. The two of us stood in the middle of the room, staring intensely at each other as they fluttered to the ground.

"Yours? Which ones are yours?"

His eyes blew up like balloons. He tore his gaze away from me and looked at the scattered flashcards on the ground. It was after some time staring that his eyes shot back at me with a glare.

"You made doubles! How the hell am I supposed to know which are mine and which aren't?"

At this, I shrugged.

"I don't know. But, I must warn you, if you don't pick all of yours in the next 15 seconds, I'm sending you to a therapist."

He jumped when hearing this. "What?!"

I shrugged again.

It was funny watching him growl while quickly getting to work. Bending down, he grabbed all 20 cards and held them up to my face.

"There! I've definitely got mine! Happy now?" He looked triumphant, like he'd tricked me.

At this, I smiled.

"You really think you can carry all that?"

He frowned.

"Why not?"

I couldn't help myself; I laughed.

"Each one weighs a ton!"

And that's when he blew up.

"Well, I don't fucking get it, okay?! First one thing, then another…Are you trying to piss me off?!" he shouted and threw the cards to the ground. I watched him in silence, my arms crossed and my face somber. "What are you staring at?" he scowled.

My cool gaze met his burning one.

"There's no need to get upset. They're just cards." I crouched down and gathered the flashcards. When I'd grabbed every single one of them, I headed to the small bin in the corner of the room and threw them away.

"I played your game, but I still don't know what's going on!"

"Then, take a seat," I pointed to his bed and he flopped on it, thankful we were going to do things his way. When I sat on mine, I turned to him and asked point blank, "Frustrating, isn't it?"

This certainly got his attention.

"Yeah. So?"

"So, can you imagine if this wasn't a game and every person you came across did that to you?"

"Did what? Throw cards at me?"

Was he stupid?

"No, smack you after throwing their cards at you."

He didn't say anything, contemplating a reply, and I studied him in silence. A puzzling thought was forming in my head and I said it before my brain could yell, "No, don't do it! Veto! Veto!"

"You know, for someone who picks things up so quickly…you're kind of slow today…"

He cocked his head to the side, his brow furrowing and his eyes narrowing. It was a weird mixture of confusion and simmering anger.

"For some reason, you assume that I know everything you're thinking about, so let me make this clear: I don't."

Holy shit! He was right! Why, Ma? Why did it have to be so simple with you?

"Oh…I'm sorry," I floundered, trying to find the right words to explain myself. "It's just those two months and-ugh!-I guess I just-I don't know! I just got used to certain things and it was so easy and so comfortable and…"

He quirked an eyebrow.

"Well, it's great that you're comfortable, but I'd really like to know what's going on."

I could have snapped at him, but then we'd go in circles again. And, that was fine by me. Circles were good. But, this had to stop and it wouldn't unless I put an end to it.

"Okay, alright. Alright. I'll just say it. I'll just say it…"

I didn't say it. I sat there, staring at the ground, hoping my thoughts would sink into his brain and I wouldn't have to utter a word.

"I'm listening…"

Tough chance that was going to happen… Crossing my fingers, I bit the bullet…

"I can, uh, I can pick up, um, others', uh, emotions? And sometimes their thoughts… It really does depend from time to time…"

I hadn't realized I was squeezing my eyes shut until I was faced with a long silence and started wondering about his reaction to my words. I sneaked a peek and, it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. He looked confused and surprised, but there was no anger or revulsion.


"Thoughts. Thoughts and emotions. I pick them up like a radio."

"Wait, like…like, you can read my mind?"

Huh? Oh, please don't feel uncomfortable!

"No, no, no! I can only read stuff you want me to know about!"

"So, Rick wanted you to know about his girlfriend?"

Oh, joy…

"Um, no. He was feeling it so intensely that he was broadcasting it to the world. Sort of. I think. I'm not quite sure how this works..."

The blond let out a long sigh and rubbed his forehead.

"So, let me get this straight, I'm rooming with a…a psychic?"


"I actually don't know what the definition of 'psychic' is. Um, I've been called intuitive and empathic. But, I'm not really sure 'intuitive' is the right word, either. I'm not really sure I am an empath! I don't know! I'm not sure about any of this. I just found out!"

"How could you just find out that you hear other peoples' thoughts?"

Wow, that disbelief is something I've only heard from family. Yep. He thought I was a hopeless case.

"First, I don't hear them; I think them," I clarified. "Second, oh God, how do I explain this? It's like the cards. Remember when you picked them all up? Yeah, well, it's the same, only that I thought they were all mine. 'Cause, I mean, they were shoved in front of me! If they weren't mine, who could they possibly belong to? I mean, I was feeling them…"

He abruptly stood up, massaging his temples. He went to his closet and grabbed a shirt, pulling it over his head.

"I need to think about this," he calmly said. "I'm an open book and all, but I don't know if I'm comfortable with someone who reads me like that…"

And with that, he left.

I sat on my bed, looking at the door he had just walked through.

Hm…Well, that certainly went better than I thought it would…