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Lexi focused on the box of Chinese in front of her, refusing to let her eyes stray to the stern elf in front of her. She wanted to ask him about Sven. She wanted to comment on the position they were in. She wanted to know if they were together or if it was just comfort and nothing more. The more rational side of her mind though, reminded her of the lack of etiquette in the inquiry.
Dillon did all of the talking instead. He, too, seemed determined to avoid the subject of the two while sitting at the table. Lexi picked up a few phrases as she picked through her rice, absently counting the number of peas and carrots mixed in. Phrases like "magic exhaustion," and "utilizing her power."
Roger seemed oblivious to the effort that the two were making on his account, pointing with his chopsticks at Dillon while speaking on what Lexi assumed were serious matters. She wondered if he remembered cuddling up to the boy like the way she'd seen them, or if just happened on coincidence after all.
"Lex?" Dillon looked over at the girl, curiously. "You alright?"
"Oh. Yeah. Sorry." Lexi looked over to see both he and Roger staring at her. "What's up?"
Roger crossed his arms and sighed. "We were talking about your lessons for the next day or so. But apparently that's not important enough for you to pay attention."
"No no it's important!" Lexi scratched her head nervously as she set her box of rice down with the other hand. "I'm sorry. I was just distracted…"
The older man seemed unconvinced, but continued anyways. "So I think in the morning you and I should wake up early and go to the roof. That way if some strange wind blows it won't set off a flag to the humans."
It was a foreign thought to her that Lexi couldn't consider herself truly "human" anymore. She didn't feel any different than she did a week ago. Not physically, anyways. However, she knew that she could no longer consider herself "normal." Not after she almost killed a man with some power she never knew she had. Which was another idea her mind didn't want to accept. She had men hunting her down so that she could be taken back to Warren, who was really Wren, and become queen of a rebel group of magical creatures that wanted to take over the world.
When people said to her that the teen years can be rough, they had no idea.
Their conversation stopped as a shuffling in the hallway drew the three of them to attention as Sven appeared in the entryway, hair disheveled up on his head, face pale and tired. Roger was on his feet before Lexi noticed, making his way to the blonde. "You should be in bed."
The fairy looked up at him, pain still showing in his amethyst eyes. "I'm just hungry…" His voice was soft and weak as he wrapped his arms around himself, grimacing.
Roger placed a hand on the blonde's forehead. "Do you think you could keep anything down?" His voice was gentler than Lexi'd have ever thought could come from the man.
"Maybe some of the soup?" he looked up at the man, hopeful. "I'd like to try." He leaned against the wall as another wave of pain hit him, squeezing his eyes shut and biting his lip to keep from screaming.
The taller man leaned down, gently taking Sven into his arms. "You need to be in bed. I'll bring you some soup." He was already carrying the boy back to the guest room. Lexi could hear them talking, but the distance made it impossible to understand.
Lexi shared a knowing glance with the young elf across from her as Roger made his way back into the room. The two were silent as he poured soup into a small bowl and grabbed a spoon.
"Well aren't you two just adorable." Leave it to Margeux to bring up the subject no one wanted to touch on. "Are you two a cute little item now?"
Roger didn't respond. Instead, he grabbed a glass from the cabinet and started fixing a glass of ice water.
"So you don't know yet." The witch chuckled, leaning back in her seat. "This is precious. Big bad Roger falling for innocent little fairy boy."
The man took a breath, calming himself from her teasing. "First off, his name is Sven." He turned to her. "Second, I don't know how I feel about him, but I can't do that to Carol." He picked the ice water and started to walk away. "Nothing will come of this."
"Of course not. And we all know Carol loved you so much she'd rather you be miserable for the rest of your long long life," Margeux smiled as Roger's footsteps faltered, "instead of finding happiness in a boy that will live as long as you do."
Roger sighed deeply and kept walking. He didn't come back from Sven's room to join them at the table, leaving Lexi and Dillon to deal with a gloating witch. The subject was now an open book, and Lexi couldn't resist. "Is that kind of stuff looked down upon in the realm?"
"Elves and fairies? No not really. I mean some elves think that fairies are too crazy and some fairies think elves are all stuck up so it's not common, but not really looked at badly." Dillon shrugged.
"No… no I mean two guys."
"You forget, Dilly. She comes from a group that has only recently accepted that not all love is the same." The witch looked over at him from next to Lexi. "Poor Lexi here grew up in a community of people known for ostracizing those who live different, love different, and look different."
Dillon looked over at the blue-eyed girl curiously. "You don't look down up on it, do you?" His eyes were wide at the thought.
"Of course not." Lexi shook her head, smiling. "I love when two people are in love. Doesn't matter the gender, or race." She took a quick glance down the hall. "I just want them to be happy."
Dillon gave the girl a warm smile. "Me too. Roger's been stuck in the past for way too long." He stretched tiredly. "And this day has gone on for way too long." He laughed. "I think it's about time we get some sleep."
Lexi's sleep was short-lived, she felt, as Roger woke her up the next morning. She glanced over at the green numbers of the alarm clock next to her. "Roger it's 4:30, what do you want?"
"Time to wake up. You're going to be training all day so get some breakfast in you now." The man shoved his hands into his pockets as he left the room. "Something light." He called as he walked away.
Lexi didn't bother figuring out her hair. She'd stopped caring that the back wasn't spiked, the natural wave was set into the sides, and the purple was fading. There was a lot to worry about when being chased after by an evil fairy, so her looks weren't top on her list of priorities. She brushed it down quickly, brushed her teeth with a toothbrush they'd gotten at the gas station, splashed some water on her face, and headed to the roof with a slice of bread hanging out of her mouth.
Roger was sitting on the ledge when she met him. His glasses low on his nose as he pushed his hair back out of his face. The stubble along his jaw had been getting thicker in the past few days, and the color in his face had been fading. "Are you sure you're okay to train me?" she asked.
The man nodded gently. "I'm not going to be the one using magic. You are." He pushed his glasses up and leaned back a bit, crossing his arms over his chest. "So go ahead."
She blinked, waiting for him to say more before responding. "Go…ahead and what?"
"Use magic." He told her, simply.
She waited again for more of an answer. She hoped for some sort of instruction, or advice from the elf as he watched her, quietly. "Uhm… how do I go about doing that?"
"Same way you did before."
"I don't know how I did that."
"Figure it out."
Lexi stared at her feet, unsure of what to do. She tried everything as she stood in front of him. She thought about wind, hoped for wind, prayed for wind, and nothing came. She tried to put herself back in the shoes she was in before, but couldn't get the panic to rise up in her the way it had when Garrow had attacked Dillon.
After what seemed like an eternity of making a fool of herself in front of him, Roger stood up and walked over to her. He put his hand firmly on her shoulders as he stood behind her. "Calm down. You're thinking too much."
"Well I don't know how to—"
"I know." Roger kept her turned away from him with his hands on her shoulders. "But magic comes from the mind, and the heart. The heart has to want it, and the mind has to make it." Lexi nodded, trying to memorize his words, in case they came in handy somehow. "So you can't cloud your mind with a million thoughts racing through it. What were you thinking when you used it last time."
She shrugged. "That I didn't need him to be around. After that I don't remember. I just remember not wanting him around."
"Exactly." He let go of her and sat back down against the ledge. "You didn't want him around. And you didn't have to think about that fact. So your power took over." Lexi looked over at him as he crossed his arms back over his chest. "Now use magic." He pointed at the banner advertising the sale at the supermarket next door, hanging off of the side of building where the roof exit was. "If you can get that thing flying against its ropes we'll move on to the next lesson."
Lexi glanced at the banner. Move. She told it. She knew that wasn't going to work, but she couldn't help her mind hoping for it to. She cleared her mind, trying to do exactly as Roger told her. It seemed, however, that focusing on emptying her mind was probably the most difficult way to empty her thoughts. She tried to focus on her breathing, but continued to internally remind herself to focus on her breathing. It had to be impossible to think of nothing.
She kept staring, kept thinking about not thinking, and kept hoping for a strong gust of wind for what felt like hours before anything happened. Her knees hurt from standing still. Her feet hurt from being planted on concrete. The sun was starting to rise and her eyes were being blinded by the light. All she wanted was to go inside. She wanted that banner to move. She needed it to move.
So it did. The banner flew up suddenly, only being stopped by the ropes holding it to the bricks. She thought it was a freak coincidence at first, perhaps the wind really had blown, but Roger stood up, seemingly satisfied with the performance. "It's about time." He told her. "I wouldn't think it'd have been so hard to empty that head of yours."
Lexi glared at him half-heartedly. "Yeah well some of us don't have minds that are already so empty."
"More like yours is so hollow that sounds are echoing." He smirked lightly. "Lesson two."
Lexi and Roger were outside from sun up until sun down, only stopping for restroom and snack breaks. When they went in Lexi would find Sven in the living room, having made his way to the couch while they were training. She could tell his energy was returning based on the way his cheeks began to fill in with color.
Roger spent his meals on the couch, bringing in an extra plate for the fairy there. Lexi ate lunch with the two, asking how Sven felt, and whether the food was any good. During those short pauses in her training, she could feel like a normal teen again, enjoying food with her friends. She'd smile when she saw Sven sneak a glance at the man who sat next to him, and blush when Sven made an offhanded comment about Dillon.
Dillon had been in Margeux's potion room from the moment Lexi woke up. She wasn't sure why or what he was doing, but Roger just told her he was working on his own training, and she let the subject drop. She couldn't keep her mind from wandering, but she didn't ask about it again.
Margeux was backed up with customers. After a full day of being unexpectedly closed, bell after bell rang as superstitious citizens walked through the front doors of the psychic's shop.
After more than sixteen hours of training, lessons one through four, which included not only using her powers, but of stopping her attacks, controlling the strength, and aim.
"When you have to use your strength in an actual fight it's going to be a lot harder." Roger warned her. "You're going to have people attacking you back and you'll have to keep your mind separated into the half that moves your body to dodge, and the half that moves your energy to attack."
She nodded tiredly. Her head was hurting from the exercises. She could see now a portion of what Roger and Sven had gone through on their way to Margeux's shop, and respected them even more for it. She thought back to all the times Roger had used magic to save her, and made a mental note to make it up to him as soon as she could, but she didn't think she'd ever really be able to.
Dillon greeted the two for dinner with trays of frozen pizza. "Have a good day at school kids?" He smiled brightly as he sat down at the table.
Lexi smiled softly, but couldn't bring herself to respond with any energy.
Sven was already seated at the table, wings finally gone from his back after two days. "They finally retracted again." He told them. "That means they're all better." He smiled warmly at Lexi. That was the best part of her day. The guilt had been weighing down on her since the moment she'd seen him get hurt. She knew the fact that he was well again didn't make up for him getting hurt in the first place, but it at least made things a little better.
"You all need to get out of my house at some point then, since you're all healed up." Margeux fell into an empty seat at the table, pulling a slice of pizza from the pan onto her plate. "Do you know how much work I had today? I had so many girls coming in to ask me about high school boys and so many women coming in to ask me about men they work with or their husbands. Sometimes both." She sighed dramatically as she continued, "and to top it off I had a woman come in sobbing about her missing dog. She even told me about her kids that were looking for it."
"What'd you tell her?" Dillon sat down across from the witch.
Margeux's lips curved into a frown. "I tracked her damn dog while she was in the waiting room. I made her let me see its food bowl before she came back to the reading room."
The young elf smiled, amused. "So you have a soft spot huh?"
She glared at the boy. "I have to get some credentials in the area. I have to get people talking about me for good business. That's all. And I charged her more because I was working on a dog and not a human." Lexi laughed lightly at the woman as she defended her low morals. "When are you all leaving, anyways? I really should be charging you rent for being here so long."
"Tomorrow." Roger told her, looking over at Sven. "Since he's better we can jump back into the car. That way we can leave before someone else attacks here."
"Yes. Please do. I have to order another crystal ball now because someone shattered mine. Do you know how irritating it is to have twenty-two people ask you 'if you're a psychic where's your crystal ball?' I left it somewhere, okay? Bend over and I'll see if it's still there."
Dillon laughed. "Well we'll be gone tomorrow so no worries."
Roger finished his plate before standing up. "We should all get to bed. We'll be heading out early to the realm tomorrow."
"Where is it at again?" Lexi looked up at him, not really wanting to push herself back to her feet after the day's events.
"It's not that long of a trip." Dillon told her. "Next stop, Nashville."
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