Rae had been cutting it close to her next class, so she decided to take her trusted shortcut through the woods. As she dashed through the trees, something gleaming caught her eye in the leaf litter. Usually easily distracted, especially by shiny things, Rae stooped to pick the object up. It was a pair of glasses. A thick pair of glasses, glasses she had seen before.

Her eyebrows knitted together as she tried to understand why Everett’s glasses were lying forgotten in the forest here. But just as she was considering to go look for him, the sound of leaves crunching under foot met her ears. Her head snapped up to see Sayer just as he emerged from somewhere deeper in the forest.

And then everything made sense. “You. Little. Punk,” she growled. Rightly so, he looked shocked. These were her woods, and he had been caught not just trespassing but most likely tormenting Everett as well.

Before he could decide what to do next, Rae threw her hand out, releasing a solid ice snowball at his face. He ducked and the ice shattered on a trunk behind him. Just as he stood up, Rae was upon him, grabbing him by the collar, her hand going icy so as to burn his skin.

He grabbed her wrist, twisting until she let go and then he threw her to the side. This wouldn’t have been the first time they quarrelled. Their spats in the training arena usually gathered a decent crowd, but the fight always ended without a winner, stopped just before things could go too far.

His pride swelling, Sayer meant to walk past her. Wrong move. She grabbed him by the ankles, taking him out and pinning his legs. He kicked her brutally until he could stand on his feet again, but Rae never backed down, even when it was good for her.

Where Sayer’s moves usually involved precise jabs and punches, including a mean right hook, Rae’s techniques were more of a get ‘em on the ground and make them eat dirt kind of approach.

They grappled until she managed to take out his legs again, this time jumping on him immediately. He reared back his arm to deliver his signature punch, but Rae knew that move too well. She let her hand turn to solid ice, blocking his blow at the same time it broke a few of his fingers. The arrogant boy let out a howl of pain, which Rae quickly stifled with a hand over his mouth.

Over his muffled cries, Rae heard laughter. “Shut up,” she whispered at Sayer. Yes, that was definitely laughter she heard, which meant Sayer hadn’t come alone. She dove off of him, leaving him to nurse his broken fingers as she took off deeper into the woods.

The first sight she saw were the two bruisers who were usually hanging around Sayer. Then she saw the object of their laughter and all the blood drained from her face. Unadulterated rage flared inside her stomach. She lashed out her power, freezing their feet where they stood before they saw she was there.

She didn’t hesitate to kick one of them in the groin. “I was your mentor,” she said, coordinating each word with a slap. “And what did I tell you? I told you precisely not to get caught up with Sayer. And what do you go and do?” She kicked him in the shins. “You go and become his groupie!”

The other boy had just managed to release himself from the ice and was picking up a rock to throw, but Rae turned on him. He dropped the rock and took off running.

Leaving the other boy to moan in pain on the ground, Rae swiftly walked over to Everett, untying him as fast as she could. He sagged to the ground, a black shroud of light around him, but before she could ask if he was all right, he took off at a run.

“Theo! Come back,” she called.

At that moment, Koa showed up. “I saw how you left Sayer,” he mentioned as he nudged the other boy left in the dirt. “What did they do to deserve your wrath this time?”

Rae rolled her eyes at him. “They ganged up on Theo. They actually tied him to the tree,” she said, her fists balled and shaking. Nothing riled her more than out right bullying. A good hazing she could appreciate, but this had been cruel and unnecessary.

“I’m gonna go look for him,” she announced.

“Guess that means I’ll stay and clean up after you,” Koa muttered, but Rae had already took off.

She followed the trampled path Everett had left deeper into the woods. Pushing aside a thick tangle of branches, she found him doubled over, a mixture of bile and blood spilling from his mouth.

Rae approached cautiously, not wanting to scare him off again. She laid a hand on the small of his back as he emptied his stomach. Tears were leaking out of him, but they floated up into the sky instead of falling to the ground. Just another one of his quirks, Rae thought.

He plopped down onto the ground, bringing his knees to his chest. She sat down next to him and pulled his glasses out of her pocket. The earpiece was bent and the lense had popped out of the cracked rim. She used her nail to tighten the screw and then gently replaced the lense, using a bit of her ice power to fuse the crack in the rim. They weren’t perfect, but at least they were usable again.

“Here,” she said, putting a hand under his chin to lift his face. She placed the glasses back on his head and then used her sleeve to wipe his remaining tears away before they could fall… up.

She let her hand cool but not freeze, leaving it on his swelling mark under his eye. “This should help the swelling,” she explained, then used her other hand to cool down his aggravated brow cut.

She wanted to ask if he was okay, but she had a feeling he wasn’t. It was his first day… She could tell by his mix of white and black glow that he was feeling anything but okay.

Opting for distraction instead of comfort, Rae stood and extended a hand. “C’mon. I want to show you something. I promise you’ll like it,” she encouraged when he hesitated to take her hand.

At last he stood and let her lead him by the hand. “You see that tree?” she asked as she pointed to a pine that stood over all the others. “You can see it from anywhere in this forest. It’s the tallest one. If you find that tree, you can find anything, including my surprise.” He barely responded, making her wonder if he was hurt worse than she thought.

They made it to the tree and Rae pointed to a large notch. “Just point yourself in the direction this notch faces, and in a hundred paces you’ll find it.” They walked a bit further until they came to an old abandoned shack.

“You can come here anytime you want. I’m the only one who knows about it, apart from you now. You’ll be safe here. I could help you fix it up, if you wanted.”

→ ←

Everett remembered nodding slightly in response to Rae’s statement, but after that, well he was too dazed from his moderate concussion to remember and too injured to care. Everett reached up to his face to rub his eye until he hissed in pain as he remembered that he had a black eye.

“Gods. Everett are you alright?” Everett sat up groggily and opened his good eye. He saw the fuzzy outline of a small frame, with two dark blurred lines going down the front.

“Avery?” He asked as he closed his eye again.

“Yes. Oh Holy Hera, I’ve seen some of Sayer’s other victims, but…” Avery sighed.

“Where?” Everett asked as he tried to sit up.

“No. No, lay back down, you’re in the infirmary.”

“Why?” he tried to continue his thought, but he was cut off.

“Why are you here? Well that has a pretty obvious answer.”

Everett shook his head at her, which only made his head throb more. “Why are you-”

“Why am I here? Oh. Well to see you, of course. I came as soon as I heard, or, well, you see, Austin works here when he doesn’t have classes and I come sometimes to hang out here, so I was technically already on my way here when I heard.” When she finished babbling, she looked at him.

“Can you get-”

“Get someone to help?” Everett nodded slightly, and Avery stood up to turn around and walked out the door. She returned a few moments later with Austin and a third blur that Everett didn’t recognize.

“Hey Everett,” Austin greeted warily. “This is my half brother, Benjamin. He’s one of the best healers here.” Everett gave a weak thumbs up, not wanting to nod anymore in fear of his head hurting worse.

“Yeah. So here’s the deal, Everett,” Benjamin spoke, his voice sounded soft and calming. “The first option is, I can tell you what’s wrong with you, and then I can heal you. Your second option is, I can skip the boring, yet somewhat important list of things wrong with you, and just get on with healing you.”

“I will go with option two.” Everett whispered.

“Good choice.” Benjamin said, before getting to work.

→ ←

Rae was on her way to the infirmary when she ran into Avery. “Going to see Everett?” she asked.

“Yeah, why? Did you see him?”

She bobbed her head. “Mhm. He’s in and out of consciousness right now, but Benjamin was almost done healing him when I left. I have a class to get to. Rae, someone told me that you were the one who found him. Please tell me you didn’t… I mean I know Sayer was involved, but did you…?”

Rae understood her younger sister’s unspoken question perfectly. “Don’t worry. I left them with Koa. I’m surprised you didn’t see them in the infirmary, though. Maybe they told them to stop whining and sent them away before I brought Theo.”

“Oh, Rae,” Avery sighed, understanding then that her sister had of course taken matters into her own hands. “Wait, did you say you brought Theo here? By yourself? While he was unconscious?”

“Well, that would be the obvious. I slung him over my shoulder. Drug him by the ankles on the soft paths. My arms are killing me, to be honest.” She rubbed at her upper arms. “He’s not that big of a kid but he’s still got some muscle mass to him.

Avery looked at Rae incredulously. “Everett passed out and you drug him to the infirmary?”

Rae nodded casually, but in fact she had been a lot more than carefree when he collapsed in the woods. She had been terrified and panic stricken. Her only thoughts were that she needed to get him help but that she couldn’t leave him alone in the woods either. So she had done the first thing that came to mind, which was hefting him herself by the arms onto her shoulders, his feet dragging behind them and his temple trickling blood down onto her shirt. Her adrenaline had been high enough that she was able to carry him more than half of the way before her arms gave out and she had to drag him. After she had dropped him off, she went back to change and calm herself down.

Truth be told, Rae was practically giddy with relief at the news her sister had given her. Everett was okay and almost completely healed as they spoke.

Avery shook her head in disbelief at Rae, a funny response coming from the younger and tinier sister. But age didn’t usually mean much between them. They felt more like best friends at times. Except when Austin was getting handsy with her younger sister. That was when Rae pulled the older and wiser card.

“Thanks, Aves,” Rae said genuinely. “I’ll see you later at dinner,” she called, already heading towards the infirmary.

When she arrived, Everett was just starting to sit up in his bed. His wounds were only faint lines now and his black eye had faded considerably.

As he turned to look at her in the doorway, Rae beamed at him. “You get hurt a lot, you know?”

→ ←

Everett still had a headache, and he still couldn’t see since nobody thought to leave his glasses with him. So when he saw another human shaped blur standing in the doorway, he was thoroughly confused, that was until she spoke, and he knew it was Rae.

He laughed at her. “I guess I do,” he stated simply, when another thought came to his head. “Hey, so I’m guessing that Benjamin kid has some sort of healing powers, right?” When Rae simply nodded in response he continued. “Okay, because in all the other times I’ve been beat up, I don’t think I’ve ever healed this quickly,” Everett said, oblivious to what he just revealed.

“Just like how you’re a son of Pathos, some kids are sons and daughters of other gods. It’s not that difficult to understand,” she added when she saw how confused he looked. Then as an afterthought, she asked, “You get beat up often?”

“Oh, did I just say that?” He put a hand to his head. “Yeah I guess you could say that I did.” He smiled awkwardly in an attempt to get her off the topic. “But that whole healing thing is cool.” he shrugged, looking around for something else to say.

“Hey are my glasses around here, because all I’m seeing is blurs, and if they are around I can’t… well I can’t see them.” Everett heard Rae chuckle and saw her move around the bed to grab something that looked nothing like glasses off of the small table. Then he felt the bed shift as she sat down, and as the glasses were brought to his face, he could see her face clearly. He took the glasses from her hands and put them on.

“I guess they got a little messed up,” Everett said as he tried to get the one side to fit over his ear. “Do any of those, Hephaestus,” he paused as he tried to form the word, “know how to fix glasses?”

Rae arched an eyebrow. “They are master weapon and armor artists. If they can’t fix a pair of glasses, I’m gonna have to put in a word that we reinforce their basic level curriculum.” Everett giggled at her when the door opened.

“So,” Benjamin said as he walked in. “You are almost good to go, Everett, I just need to tell you to watch your head, bla bla bla, be careful, and you might still have a headache for a while so here.” Benjamin held out a small bottle filled with bluish capsules. “Pain meds, courtesy of the Asclepius kids.”

Everett raised an eyebrow. “Asclepius?”

“Greek god of healing and medicine, technically he’s my brother, but that’s an entirely different, unrelated, and unnecessary story. Now take the pills.” When Everett took them, Benjamin continued. “You can take one of these every four hours, if you need them, and if you have any questions or concerns, the Asclepius kids are in room 25.”

→ ←

“I can take you to see about getting your glasses fixed, if you want,” Rae offered as she followed Everett out of the infirmary. “There’s a girl in my dorm that is usually more helpful than the Hephaestus kids in the armory basement workshops.”

“Sure,” Everett said with a shrug, and Rae wondered if he actually wanted to be left alone.

“All right,” she said hesitantly. “Then let’s go.” She walked at a leisurely gait next to him instead of her customary stride of ten paces ahead. No shortcuts today either, she decided.

When they came to girls’ three story dormitory building, Rae paused on the top step before opening the door. “I’m not really supposed to be bringing boys in here, seeing as how it isn’t visiting hours, and also seeing as how I’m a mentor and orientation coordinator, it wouldn’t be good if people knew I was bending the rules for you. So just… don’t tell anyone.” And with that she whipped open the door, pulling Everett in by the collar before anyone saw them. She drug him down the hall to a first floor bedroom, her eyes darting around nervously and her foot tapping impatiently as she knocked on the door.

“Who is it!” someone called from inside.

“It’s Rae!”

A pause, and then the voice sounded again. “I’m going to reinforce your catapult with Elysian steel. We’ve been over this.”

“That’s not why I’m here,” Rae tried.

“Oh. Well I’m not hungry so find someone else to go to the Mess Hall with you.”

“Leia! Open the door! That’s not why I’m here either.”

The door opened as a dark haired and towering girl said, “Then what in the gods’ names do you want?” She paused when she looked down at Everett, her eyes narrowing before pinning on Rae again.

“He needs a favor. Mind fixing his glasses for him?” Rae asked charmingly.

Leia stepped aside for the two to walk in. There was a set of bunk beds and two workbench tables. Weapons hung on the walls and heaps of parchment used for blueprints and instructions were scattered throughout.

“It’s hot in here,” Rae complained.

“I like it that way,” Leia retorted. “Here, take a seat,” she said to Everett, patting a wooden stool.

He sat down, still looking a bit dazed from the day he’d had.

As she removed his glasses, Rae had a sudden and striking thought that she wasn’t so sure she wanted Leia to fix them. Their crooked angle just added to his adorableness. The moment she thought it, she wondered why she was thinking that in the first place. But he really is adorable, she said in her thoughts. There’s nothing wrong with admitting truth.

→ ←

“What?” Everett turned to Rae. She thinks I’m adorable, he thought. Rae blinked at him.

“I didn’t say anything,” she stated simply before turning back to Leia. Everett shook his head. Maybe it’s all in my head, he reasoned with himself.
“The one lense is slightly cracked,” Leia turned to him, “what’s your prescription?”

“I have no idea. I’m fifty four eighteen.”

“It’s blind old man prescription,” Rae said. Leia blinked.

“Okay, I guess I’ll just have to copy the other lense,” she huffed before getting to work. “Actually,” she said. “I’m gonna go do this in my workshop. I’ll be back in like ten.” Leia grabbed his glasses and left.

Everett looked at the blurred outline of Rae. “Well, it seems like I’m blind more than I’m injured,” he whispered to himself rather dejectedly.

“You got that right,” Everett heard Rae say.

“Well, thanks,” he told her.

Rae turned to him blinking again. “You’re welcome? Why exactly are you thanking me? By your tone I’m guessing you aren’t thanking me for the obvious reasons, such as, saving you from Sayer’s goons and taking you to the infirmary and the other dozen things I’ve done for you.” She raised both eyebrows as Everett started glowing white with the spirals again.

“You, you just said, you got that right.” Everett was even more confused by the look of surprise blooming on Rae’s face. Rae shook her head.

“No, I did not say that. I thought it, but-” she stopped, and her eyes widened. “You can feel other people’s emotion.” Everett nodded.

“I believe that has been established,” he said slowly, but Rae was already smirking.

“What if you can read minds too. I’m guessing that earlier when you turned to me and said what, you heard me say something, am I right?” She spoke to Everett as if he were five.

“Yeah, I heard you-”

“That’s not important right now,” Rae cut him off. “What’s important is that we just figured out that you can read minds.”

→ ←

Leia returned with glasses in hand to find Rae smirking devilishly at Everett who was looking like he might be sick.

“I think I’m gonna go lay down,” Everett said after they thanked Leia and were headed out of the building.

“No, you’re not,” Rae said, catching him by the arm and steering him towards the Mess Hall. “You need to get some food in you. Have you even drank anything since this morning?” But she didn’t stop there, she went on to say in her thoughts, “Plus I need to test you out.”

“Please stop,” he groaned, putting a hand to his temple. She fell silent for a few more paces. “Thank you,” he said, but just a little too soon.

“Can you hear me now?” she asked in her head.

Everett released another groan, answering Rae’s question.

She pestered him all the way to the Mess Hall but settled down once she had a plate of food in front of her. Everett laid his head on the cool table the whole meal until Rae released him once she had forced him to drink something.

On the way out of the hall, Sayer appeared, standing up from a table by the doorway. His hand was splinted and bandaged and his eyes gleamed with fury.

“C’mon,” Rae said to Everett. “If he’s smart, he won’t mess with me again.” She added the last part in her head. Saying it aloud would have been an outright provocation, and she wasn’t in the mood for a visit with the headmaster tonight. He could only ask why she beat the crap out of a kid so many times and in so many ways.

But as she strode past, Sayer threw out a foot, kicking her in the back of knees so she stumbled out the door. At the bottom of the stairs, she looked up seething anger, but as she tried to rise something caught her eye and stopped her.

Glancing down at her foot, she mumbled, “Um, I’m not sure it’s supposed to look like that.” The foot was bent awkwardly in the opposite direction her leg was lying. “I can’t feel it,” she stated plainly. Shouldn’t it hurt? She wondered about it but the longer she dwelt on it, the more distinct a pulsing agony grew in her ankle. So she refocused her attention. “Anyone gonna help me out?”