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Catherine 'Kat' Barras

Kat : One lone Friday

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Posted (edited)

One lone Friday
 

A voluptuous yawn stretched Kat’s mouth as she woke up, the sunlight softly caressing her features as it spreaded its rays throughout the teen’s room. The sort of routine she had established with her Dad started to kick in. Waking up early, jogging, shower, breakfast, school. Except there was no school today. Kat slowly mulled over that thought as she let her right leg hang out from the side of the bed, still lying on her queen size mattress, glancing at the room she was gradually getting used to.

The walls were painted ruddy blue and duck blue, the darker hue on the window’s wall and the opposing one, the lighter hue on the two remaining walls. The wood work was covered in a delicate layer of chocolate cosmos paint, the whole room giving soothing colors, yet contrasted enough to please the eye. The room in itself had a lot of space, a rough three hundreds and fifty square feet, enough to contain a bed, a wide white wardrobe, a white dresser and a large black desk, as well as what Kat liked to call her “art corner”. When she was younger and went to her dad’s during holiday, she would spend afternoons drawing and painting on her easel, or playing some music, either on one of her guitars or her synthesizer.

She sighed, the sight of her art corner reminding her she had to leave her Cort KX 300 in Rennes, as well as her Cordoba Mini II MH Acoustic, and two very old electrics she had not touched in years. She still had the synthesizer, a red and white Fender Telecaster Pau Ferro, and her favorite plug-in acoustic, a blue Rogue RA-090 outlined in black, but man did she like the Cort. The telecaster and the plug-in acoustic were currently hanging from wall mounts, right above the synthesizer, a Roland Cube-GX amp, a Vox AC15C2, and her latest purchase, a Marshall JCM 25/50 2555X Silver Jubilee Reissue, which she had been really enjoying using last week-end, as well as several effect pedals and a soundboard. Kat had been playing the guitar since her eighth birthday. It was her Dad who got her into it. She knew he had a “secret” room in the basement, with every guitar he had ever bought. She was still not allowed into it. He once had shown her the room, in fact, at her eighth birthday. She remembered the day very well. He had taken her on his shoulders, taking her to the door of the forbidden room. He had opened the door, and presented her to what he called his little world. A dozen guitars were hanging on the walls, amps, pedals, a real piano, and pictures of him, Kat and her mother there and there. Then he’d set her to the floor and told her to pick one of the acoustics. It was her birthday gift. She suddenly wondered what had happened to the pictures after the… divorce.

Her gaze shifted to the very right of her art corner, where her desk was. On top of it, sitting there, her ROG G752. The “Beast” was getting old, but still held up. Further back on the desk a couple piles of colorful paper, the sum of every drawing of hers, throughout the years.

A gentle knock on her door pulled her out of reverie. “Hey, baby girl. Morning jog in ten, don’t make me drag you out of bed !” Her father’s voice came muffled through the wooden door, sounding rather joyful. She did did enjoy these morning runs with her father, even though she had a real hard time working on her stamina. Josh was a loving father, but a ruthless coach. Kat slipped out of bed, her bare feet meeting with the fresh wood of the floor. She quickly left her night attire - a simple cotton short and a tee-shirt with a big panda head on it - and opened the drawers from her dresser, grabbing underwear, sport bra, a sport short and a synthetic tee-shirt, then stopped for a moment, staring at herself in the wardrobe mirror. She didn’t have much of those curves boys loved, but the naked silhouette looking back at her was undoubtedly feminine. Her gaze gently caressed every line of the tattoo adorning her skin, from calves to shoulders. A chef-d’oeuvre. Kat had always wanted a tattoo, and along the years, her dream rather turned into a project. A piece of art. She ultimately came up with the design she wanted a couple months ago, and she had spent two weeks drawing it. Making it happen had been expensive, and she probably wouldn’t have had the guts, if it weren’t for Alice’s support.

A couple minutes later, Kat was noisily hurtling down the stairs. Her father was waiting for her, almost about to knock at her door again. “Hey there, sunshine.” He gave her an encouraging smile, gently ruffling her hair. “Ready or not, let’s hit the road !” He went to the main door to open it, and a fresh morning breeze invaded the hall. With a half-hearted smile, followed by a sigh, Kat went after her father, into the sunny morning.

Edited by Catherine 'Kat' Barras
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Posted (edited)

Her limbs were still shaking, even after the careful stretches she had taken. Warm water was running off from the shower, streaming over her hair as she breathed erratically, her two hands against the tiled wall. Steam was slowly filling the second floor shower. Her dad’s program to get her back in decent shape was proving to be a challenge. The way he proudly looked at her when they got back home proved he strongly believed in her, but man ! She was really going through hell.

Kat arched her head back, to feel the warm flow over her face, and her neck protested at the movement. It was a strange feeling, to be in pain, physically exhausted, but to somehow enjoy it. She felt alive. Her whole body was reminding her this was not a dream. Or rather a nightmare. Crazy.

Her hair was still damp when she came down the stairs, to the kitchen, where her Dad was enjoying Tessa’s handmade… pancakes ? Pancakes ! Her growling stomach reminded the kitchen’s occupants that a teenager lived with them, and Tessa flashed the petite redhead a wide grin. “Good morning, honey.” With a discreet movement of her chin, she indicated a chair and added, “Have a seat ! Have a pancake !” Kat needed not to be told twice, and pulled the wooden chair back with a famished grin. “Hey, Tess. Pancakes ! What a treat !” She said, playfully combing a lock of hair behind her ear in a dramatic manner. She pulled a plate, setting a pancake flat on it, with reverence, then slammed jam all over it like most teenagers do. Without restraint. Tessa stared at her in feigned horror. “Careful ! It’s gon’ drown !”

Her father followed the whole scene with an amused eye as he mulled over something. “Kat.” Then. “Tess.” The two women turned to him, curious. “I’m not working on Monday.” Joyful acknowledgement lit up in Tessa’s eyes as she understood what was about to follow. “I don’t have a free Labor Day every year, so I was thinking maybe… all three of us could spend the afternoon at the Carousel.” He looked at his daughter with an affable smile. “I know you’ve never actually known Labor Day as we do in Shelly, since you always had school in France around that date, so I thought it’d be nice for you to discover what we do then.” He punctuated his sentence with a quick wink.

“Dad, trust me, if I could use every holiday date in the world just to skip school, I would. But yeah, sure, I’d be glad to spend an afternoon at the carousel, even if I’ve got no idea of what you’re talking about…” Kat said between two bites of her superjam pancake.

Tessa flashed her a warm smile. “This is a great idea, you’ll see, it’s gonna be fun.” Then she gave her an amused look. “What ?” Asked Kat, before noticing the paper towel she was holding her. It was at this moment, that the jam decided pancakes weren’t its natural habitat, far more comfortable on low-cut jeans purchased two days ago.

Edited by Catherine 'Kat' Barras

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Posted (edited)

Kat’s left fingers were going up and down the blue Rogue, her right fingers fluttering over the strings, as the backing track sank in, covered by the arpeggios she extorted from the guitar, freezed focus painted on her face. She had plugged her instrument to the Cube, on a classic setting she particularly liked, giving rich bass and clear highs, turning every vibration of the strings into a cascade of notes flowing like rapids.

She had left her jam-stained jeans for a short skirt, and was now sitting in her art corner, on a comfortable stool, her back to the wall, and her naked legs extended to catch the sunlight bathing her room through the open window. Her father had left for work an hour ago, and she had decided she needed guitar practice. Music helped clear her mind.

She rose to her feet and reached for her laptop, to switch to the next backing track. She wanted to try something, and it would be far easier with a track she knew by heart. Going back to her stool, she waited for the 4 metronome ticks she had inserted in the backing track, then began focusing solely on her job, the intro. Thirty-nine seconds. It could seem short, but time’s rules are bent when the lone guitar opens the song. Each note lasts for an instant and an eternity at the same time, as if you were on stage and the crowd’s pressure was getting to you.

The rhythmic part kicks in. Kat closes her eyes, reaching for something locked in her mind. Unlocks it. Opens her eyes. Her fingers are still caressing the strings, synchronized with the sounds flowing out of the amp.

The feeling was far less overwhelming than it was in Great Falls. Less people. A quieter town. The stars were more scattered around her. Less noise, apart from the song a part of Kat was invested in. She noticed that the world around her seemed darker. People were the light. A world without living beings would feel terrifying. What a strange sense, she thought. Forty seconds left. She was now trying to stop it, but it revealed harder than she thought. The notes she stroke from the guitar took a more desperate sound as a pearl of sweat began running down from her temple. The music stopped, clapping hands brought Kat back to reality, and she couldn’t help but release a sigh of relief.

Tessa was staring at her from the open door of the room, an appreciative smile stretching her lips. “That was very nice.” She addressed the red haired teen. “Thanks.” Kat replied, gratitude in her eyes. “I have to go to the club, my shift begins in thirty minutes. I’ll see you at three, k ? Make sure you have a decent lunch !” Her dad’s girlfriend added with a wink. The petite redhead grinned back. “Kay, see you, Tess !”

Kat relaxed against the wall, her calves tasting the sunlight with delight. A triumphant grin crossed her features. She did it.

Edited by Catherine 'Kat' Barras

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Kat face-dived into her pillow, her frustrated scream muffled by the soft fabric. She had no idea what she was doing. Or what she had to do. She simply lied down on her bed, head stuck into her very fluffy pillow. Good fluffy. She liked fluffy. Except her grasp on her powers, whatever they might be, was everything but FLUFFY ! Ensued another frustrated scream.

It was a good thing for her not to be in Great Falls right now, she thought. Or this whole “let’s try and see if I can control my voodoo stuff” would’ve gone south sooooo earlier.

They had to defeat the Dark. And there she was, packed with Shine like a goddamn ready-to-burst waterskin, a useless, tasty daft, lost to the plot, naff twitty wazzock of a treat for the Dark. She was such an airy-fairy git she couldn’t even stop her own sensory stuff without an outsider to anchor her ! She would thank the neighbor’s self-invited squirrels for helping her out later, as she was currently too busy exploring and screaming her imperfect knowledge of british slang, both in thought and aloud, to her pillow.

“I’m fucking pants.” She whispered, weary, to her trusty pillow. Now that she thought about it, she was also hungry. Noon already ? She had spent that much time trying to stop the bubbly spheres thingie ? She let out a muffled death rattle, not finding the energy to scream a third time. Her hunger won the battle over her frustration, and soon she was hurtling down the stairs, to the kitchen, unsure of what she was about to eat. She was about to eat something, that was for sure !

Pasta. Beef. Salad. Oranges. Phew. Quantities. She probably had overdone it. She was leisurely staring at the town from her window, her hands cupping her chin. Her eye caught a glimpse of fur in the foliage of the oak standing in the neighbor’s garden, some fifty feet away. Squirrels, she thought. Young tree, she thought, probably a little more than a hundred years old. She glanced at her art corner. That was probably a good idea, she thought.

She pulled the stool in front of the easel, grabbed a couple pencil, and began drawing.

Squirrels fooling around in a world full of stars.

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The position, the moves, the routine, all was coming back to her, piece by piece. She was no longer holding that sharp and dry pencil perfect for discreet outlines and layouts, but a thin brush. At her feet, a wide case containing small jars, most of them filled with water paints, and a few of them with oil paints. She had to make a choice. A mixture of both kinds would look terrible. Oil, or water. The former was expensive, but the latter easier to paint with.

On the easel, the large paper sheet was covered in very thin lines of carbon, almost imperceptible to the untrained eye. The pencils she used were resting under the easel, exhausted by the hour of hard work they had been through. It was as though they were as much shaking as Kat’s hands were, clamped tight around the brush handle.

She wondered why, why had she stopped painting ? She mulled over that thought while heading towards the kitchen. She needed an OJ. She didn’t touch a single brush in at least a year, and the memories grasping one had brought back were overwhelming. She poured herself a huge amount of orange juice, in a huge glass, then spent a minute staring at it. The trembling in her hands was slowly fading away. “Fuck you, Erwann.” she muttered to herself.

“Why do you keep on painting ? You’re wasting your time, you got such a huge brain, it’s not gonna help you using it.”
“I’ll paint if I want to ! I like it, what’s your problem, Erwann ?”
“I dunno… I’m trying to help here. You spend your time on paints when you could be spending it improving… like math, physics, school stuff you know ? I’ve never actually seen you working, I’m worried.”
“How dare you talk about my grades ? They’re perfect the way they are. Remember who almost didn’t make it into the S section last year ?”
Erwann kept mum, shamefaced. A moment later, he added, “That… wasn’t nice…”
Kat crossed her arms, her features closed. She was angry. “You’re the one not being nice here, I’m only sending back the ball.”
“Hey, listen, I’m sorry. Maybe I’m repeating myself, but I’m worried. In class, you’re always somewhere else, I’m amazed you actually remember anything the teachers talk about.”
They had been at this for hours. It wasn’t the first time the tone of the conversation had gone up between them, but it had been the first time it ended up with Kat slamming the door and leaving the Jaffré’s house.
Erwann didn’t use to be a workaholic. She never should’ve helped him get his shit together last year. Sometimes it was better for people to take the wall straight in the face.

Orbs. Fur. Darkness. A flicker of neon blue. A harsh golden sparkle. A mild dart of beaver. A crystalline salty pearl, ran over the petite redhead’s left cheek, desperately holding on to her jawline. Kat shook her head. After what seemed to be an everlasting curve, the tear shattered on the jar lid of her closed water paints.

 

She loved painting.

 

“Fuck you, Erwann !”

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Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.

The oil painting was slowly drying as the afternoon was about to reach an end. Kat was lying on her bed, like a starfish, once again trying to unravel the mystery behind the balls of emotion populating her world whenever she tried and opened the treasure chest hidden deep within the wild and animated jungle that was her mind. She had been doing this the wrong way.

When she had been done with the painting, it felt as if the missing piece of the puzzle slowly fit into the whole. She never should’ve stopped painting. Painting felt like mental gymnastics to her, like juggling with colors and shape and infusing them with emotions. Maybe dealing with her mind-jungle was not so different. But taming the wild beast-thoughts dwelling in there was so much harder.

Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.

Kat is surrounded by dense foliage, wood, vines, bushes, and dirt. Mosquitoes, everywhere. Motion. This whole place is alive. And dear Lord of the Sith, it moves. Chaotic. That was the word. Yeah, it kind of nails it. And here she is, trying to turn this into some sort of garden. None of it makes much sense. What would an eastern gray squirrel be doing in a jungle, uh ? Still, all of it isn’t what she is here for… yet. She is looking for something. And it calls to her.

And she finds it. Strange to think it is in a glade. Last time it was in a cavern. Guessing it all depends on the approach wouldn’t be far from the truth. She still is fumbling, but she doesn’t fear anymore. Because she set her mind not to be afraid of it, anymore. And she won’t be, anymore. Because it is part of her now, so what would be the point ? She only has to accept it. Accept the fact that she isn’t in France anymore.

Why is it so hard to let go, then ?

“Move on, Kat.” Says Alice. Except that she isn’t Alice. She is Tess. Wait no, none of both. It’s strange. “What good will it do to you, to wail and lament on the past ?” The friendly figure approaches, slapping the petite redhead on her bum. “Where has gone the Kat I know, who wants to have fun ?” Alice-Tess slides an arm around Kat’s shoulders, then points at the chest gleaming at the glade’s center. “There’s a shit ton of fun you could have with this stuff. Dwelling on the past won’t help you to find out how. Use that stuff, go out and have fun with your new friend...s. What about that Jason, uh ?” She nudges her. “Isn’t he cute ?” She gives her a playful wink, hiding her chin behind her shoulder with a devious grin.

On the edge of the glade, a pair of grey sweatpants is walking by, and suddenly Kat can feel her cheeks on fire. She dismisses the thought. “Alice, this isn’t helping me focus !” She turns back, only to note that whatever was talking to her is gone.

“Fuuuuuuuun…” Echoes through the jungle, and the trees shiver with excitement. Kat smiles. Right. Fun. She approaches the chest, nervous, clamping on the golden key she is holding. Why would she lock her powers away ? She looks at the key, then at the lock. They both vanish. She rests her hands on top of the chest, feeling the wood with her fingers. Then she opens the chest.

The feeling was getting familiar now. She recognized the two squirrels, fifty feet away. The neighbor’s wife, not far away from them. She had felt them before. Her mind swiped the close neighborhood. All of this was familiar. She wasn’t feeling their emotions, like in Great Falls. She probably had done something different.

Motion. It gets intense. She closes the chest, unsure of how to keep it in control.

She lied on her bed, like a starfish, a wide grin crossing her features. “Room for improvement,” she muttered to herself.

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The rasping sound of a pen dancing on a sheet of paper. The caress of a summer-y breeze through the room. Kat was sitting at her desk, taking physical notes, since she knew oh too well mental notes were easily lost in a micmac of thoughts, for her. After sweeping through her surroundings with her mind, it appeared, crystal clear to her, that she was using some sort of telepathy. Each time she touched a human mind, she felt like she was in front of them, and could talk to them. She wouldn’t dare trying it… After pondering, she decided she would ask Sean about it.

Something else bothered her. She perfectly remembered what happened on Tuesday. And right before she got that damn headache, she did something. Something that had nothing to do with telepathy as she apprehended it. Since her first chemistry/physics classes in France, she had known roughly what was the molecular composition of the Earth’s atmosphere. But that day, she could feel it as if the very atoms appeared to her. And she tried to do something to them. To… thicken the air, yes ! Also, when she detected the five shrieking beasts in that corridor, she wasn’t using her Third Eye - as Jason had called it - the way she did today or on Wednesday. It felt different. Its telepathic version was clearly like poking at living beings, and nothing else. The other version of it, that she used on Tuesday, felt way denser, she didn’t see the group of teenagers as static minds, but… The mental image she had was quite hard for her to describe. That day, the teenagers were radiating… Shine, yes, that’s what they called it. They were radiating it like waterskins ready to burst. And the space between everyone that day, it didn’t feel as empty as it did when she used the telepathic Third Eye. There was something, but she was not able to put a name on it. Like strata to reality. It wasn’t quite there, but it was.

She was writing her thoughts down, when a catchy tune rang in the room, pulling her out of her reflexions. Her phone was ringing. She left her chair to grab the mobile phone, vibrating and ringing on her bed, and pressed the little green button on the tactile screen.

“Allo ?”

"Hey. Kat? It's Sean," flowed her buxom guide's distinctive melodious voice through the phone. "I, uh, just wanted to call, to see if you're okay. You've seem... distracted the last few days, kinda bummed. Is there anything I can do to help, even if it's as a pair of ears to let you vent."

"Oh, hey, Sean ! That's sweet. I've been doing a lot better. I actually slept last night, so that helped."

"Good, good. That's good. I didn't know you weren't sleep well. Was is stuff at the hospital, or something else? If you don't mind me asking," Sean added hastily. "I'm sure it must be rough on you, feeling like you're playing catch up."

Kat remained silent for a short moment, then replied : "Uh, playing catch-up sounds about right." After another pause, she added : "What you said yesterday actually helped me. I've been fiddling with my... powers ?"

She heard Sean murmur in acknowledgment. "Mmm. We all started somewhere. Some earlier and more extensively than others." It was Sean's turn to be silent for a pensive moment. "I hope any, um, accidents, if any, were minor ones."

She couldn't help but snort a little. "Actually, no accident, yet. I've been doing a lot of thinking, taking notes, and I think that, I'm a telepath. I'm not a 100% sure, but I think I am. But there's more to it, and I don't really know what." She took a quick look at her notes, then went on with her thoughts. "Remember when we were in the hospital ? I tried to do something that had nothing to do with telepathy, like... restructuring the air or something. And, uh... I think I have two different kinds of... Third Eye ? That's what Jason called it, right."

Yes. Third Eye, if we are using classical psychic terminology," Sean agreed. If Kat was a telepath, he wished Sara had stayed instead of moving out of state with her father, at least to give Kat a few pointers. "Most of us have a more tightly focused type of psionic expression, even if that focus is quite versatile, but I think a few of us have a broader... array of application." Kat heard a rhythmic tapping, as though Sean were typing or rapping his fingers in some sort of surface. "If you'd like someone to bounce ideas off of or help you figure out what you can do, I can see what I can do. Or see if Jason is free - he might have a better chance of helping you if you can manipulate molecules."

Kat kept silent for a moment. "Hmmm... Actually, I just thought about the fact that I wanted to call you, but I gave you my number and didn't ask for yours. I know tech is your area of expertise, and I'd like to get a good gaming rig. I wanted to know if you'd help me with that. But I guess you could also help me getting this... stuff, with superpowers, sorted... yeah, I'd very much like you to help me with that."

"Sure, I wouldn't mind at all with that. And I can build you a sweet gaming rig." Sean sounded chipper, enthused, able to help with something he had remarkable experience with, even before all the mojo and voodoo. "I think I have all the components here to build you something decent, but if you want something particularly top of the line, I might have to take a run out to Sulli's in Great Falls."

She sat on her bed, delighted. "That sounds great ! Can we do that tomorrow ? Oh, and I'm paying for it. No arguing about that."

Sean made some insistent noises that it wasn't necessary, but not for long. He did assemble PCs as a side hustle, and was justifiably proud of his work. And he was having some ideas of converting his Grand Cherokee to electric, and that wasn't cheap. "Only because you're insisting." Kat could hear the smile in Sean's tone. "And Saturday is fine, perfect. I didn't have any big plans." That wasn't quite true. He'd been taking huge strides on coding and playtesting Regenesis the last few days. But he could takes a few hours of his time to help the petite and cute redhead.

“Nice !” Through the phone Sean could hear the wide smile accompanying the word. “That’s a deal, then ! Thank you Sean.”

“I’ll pick you up, say, at 2PM, that works ?”

“Yeah, sure ! See you tomorrow !”

“See you, Kat.”

She hung up, then dropped the phone back on the bed.

“Yay !”

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Posted (edited)

“I won’t be long, it’s just a walk ! Back in time for dinner, I promise !”

Kat had decided to know Shelly better. After all, she knew her Dad’s address, but what good would it do to her if she had to use her phone to find her way ? The weather was gorgeous, way different from Brittany, and she kinda liked it. After Sean called, she felt like she needed to go outside, having spent most of the day inside. She had bartered her short skirt and her tee-shirt for a clean pair of slim black cotton trousers, and a linen plaid blouse - teal and redwood - she had gotten from Wednesday’s shopping, and elected her favorite Franco Sarto booties to be graced the contact of her delicate feet. She didn’t feel at ease enough, in Shelly, to stroll around showing off her naked legs.

Earlier in the afternoon, Tess had come back from her shift and complimented her on the painting still drying on the easel. Kat had no idea what to do with it, but she didn’t want her first painting - even if it was on a thick sheet of paper and not a canvas - after a year long break to end up in the piles of drawings and paintings on her desk.

She was mulling over that thought while striding around the neighborhood, enjoying the contact of the sunlight like she never had in her life before. Guess I needed big changes in my life to feel alive. Her phone buzzed in her back pocket, and she shifted her leather jacket from her right to her left hand, then grabbing the device and unlocking it.

//Encore un weekend sans toi. Nul. Pk ta daronne a fait ça ? :((( // Another weekend without you. Sucks. Y ur mom had to do that ? :((( //

The petite redhead grinned at the text message, her thumb fluttering over the tactile keyboard to answer it.

//Toi aussi, tu me manques. // I miss you too. //

Alice’s text quickly followed.

//On se fait un FaceTime ASAP, ok ? Je suis bientôt rentrée. // We FaceTime ASAP, ok ? I’m home soon. //
//
😘 //

//Sure 😘 // Kat replied with a smile. She then tucked the phone back in her pocket.

She had been quietly walking for ten minutes, randomly using her telepathic Third Eye to scan the surroundings, getting more and more used to the mechanic, when an oddly familiar feeling came to her. She had spent some time with that mind in the past days, she knew it. She glanced at the restaurant the person seemed to be in. The sign read ‘Bunnee’s Burgers’. And behind the glass, sitting at a lone table, minding her own milkshake, Courtney.

Edited by Catherine 'Kat' Barras

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Kat paid for her Ice Tea, then headed towards Courtney’s table, glancing at her surroundings. The waitress was nice. She definitely liked the place, and decided she would come back there, and try every burger. But not now. She was curious. If she remembered what Courtney did to her in the conference room correctly, then they were both some sort of telepaths. She had to talk to her.

“Hey, can I sit ?”

The gorgeous redhead, hair immaculately styled and with her cherry-red lips pursed as she drew on the straw in her milkshake in such a way that it might cause a monk to rethink vows of celibacy, looked up from whatever solitary thoughts she was indulging - and she did look deep in thought - as Kat's voice intruded on her consciousness. The momentary look of irritation at being interrupted by whoever disappeared as she recognised the petite French girl, and she smiled and waved Kat to the seat opposite.

"Kitty! - Do you mind if I call you 'Kitty'? 'Kat' seems so... flat. No offense." she said cheerfully, honey-shaded eyes warm as she leaned forwards. Her cream-coloured blouse was low cut, and also translucent enough that one could make out the red bra underneath as she smiled. "How are you finding Shelly? Other than... You know." She made a little 'grr', obviously meant to be a horrible Dark-spawned abomination, then uttered a little whispery scream as though she were frightened, pantomiming the entirety of Kat's first day in Shelly with two sets of noise and gesture.

"Uh..." The petite redhead took a seat in front of Courtney, setting her drink on the table. "Sure, whatever... Town's quiet, weather's nice. I might get a sunburn !" She took a sip of Ice Tea, sighing in relief. "Hmm, good God... Okay, so, I've been working on my... Shine, today, and... You remember what you did in the conference room ?" She put her hands on both sides of her own head, shaking them a little. "I'm pretty sure I could do that with... say... a lot of training. Lemme try something."

Kat once more reached inside of her jungle-mind, opening the wooden chest with golden frames, then tentatively poked at the redhead's mind in front of her.

And encountered a solid wall that formed almost as a reaction, so suddenly that it felt like she had walked into it and bumped her nose.

"Whoa there, cowgirl." Courtney admonished as she sucked on her straw with a smile, but her eyes were warning. "You did not just walk up and stick your hand in my blouse, Kitty. Well, no you didn't, because if you had, I'd probably be okay with it. But that thing you just tried without my okay? That is a no-no." She put her head on one side, consideringly. "So, you definitely have the ol' TP. But you can't just go dipping into brains, Kitty! Especially with other 'Shinies'. There's risks and stuff."

Kat blinked twice as she bounced of the wall and lost her focus. Bamf. The chest closed. She rubbed the back of her head, pink softly flushing her cheeks. "Kay... Sorry..." After a couple seconds of brain lag, she processed what she just heard and her cheeks turned crimson as she added, confused : "W- What ?

"R-I-S-K-S." Courtney rolled her eyes fondly. "Like, some brains you want to feel the edges of first before just diving on in - because some people have minds like a sewer. Major ick. I don't mean having sex thoughts or picturing you naked 'ick', either." she added darkly, then smiled reassuringly. "And, of course with Shiny people, there's things like my barrier, which you just felt, or like Devin - who has some kind of weird mind that's slippery - you can feel it, and his emotions, but you can't actually get in there very easily, like his thoughts are as all over the place as his body. And then there's Jason." she finished, offering no clarification of what that meant.

Once again, Kat blinked twice. Okay... "Thanks for the tip. And what I meant was..." She raised a curious eyebrow, still feeling the heat in her cheeks. "You'd be okay with my hand in your blouse ?" She wasn't very comfortable with the question, but it escaped her lips before she could hold it back. She took a long sip of her drink, trying to hide her discomfort.

"Oh, you are just too cute." Courtney peered at Kat over her milkshake with a glance that was equal parts 'aww' and wicked as the tinier of the two redheads felt a foot lightly caress the inside of her calf. "Well, I'd have to say I'd prefer it in a less public setting... Nothing like a little cuddling to get one's mind off problems. Buuut... Your mind is on my mind rather than on my body." She arched an eyebrow. "Right?"

The petite redhead almost coughed her drink out, managing to swallow it with extreme difficulty. Fuck. "Right..." She took a moment to compose herself. "Jason said I was a packed lunch for the Dark, yesterday, and he..." She tried to pick the words that felt right. "He offered me a training session on Sunday, so I'm trying to... do my homework before the test, you know. That'd save both of us some time. What can you do with telepathy ? You made my mind clearer the other day. What other areas should I dig in, can I actually speak in your mind, can I... transfer thoughts, images, like the Cloud, you know ?"

<Yes, speaking mind-to-mind is easy> Courtney said whilst taking a drink of her 'shake. <So long as the other person cooperates. Transferring images, sensations, thoughts and so on, likewise easy. I can feel and alter emotions, read thoughts, probe deeper memories and even alter them - though that gives me a headache and is hard to do - and I can link several people together so they can all talk mind-to-mind. Not read each other's minds - other people only get what you send.> She smiled brightly at Kat. "Anything else you want to know?"

"Wow." She took a moment to consider the gorgeous redhead sitting in front of her, surprise painted on her face. "Smooth. Real smooth... I already said that..." Once again, she rubbed the back of her head. "I guess all I have to do is experiment... with Sean, or Jason, whatever... or you ?"

"Well, I had Dr Cook and his eggheads helping me, and I still learned how to do most of what I can do alone..." Courtney said, plainly mulling something over. "I'll do you a deal: I'll show you what I've picked up, but you get me in with the group training seshes. I'm tired of being on the outside of the Shine group."

Kat pondered the offer for a moment. She really liked rubbing the back of her head. "Hmmm. I guess there's no evil in trying. I'm spending the afternoon with Sean tomorrow, so I'll ask him to bring that up to Jason... I don't know if there's any group training planned, to be honest, Jason only mentioned making me a harder meal for the Dark to get, but that only makes it another question to ask. We need all hands on deck, right ?"

She offered Courtney a quick smile. "That's a deal for me."

"Great." Courtney smiled brightly, her foot still caressing Kat's leg. "I can't wait to get to grips with Jason... 's training." she said as though there had been no significant pause. "So, when we're there, I'll share my insights with the gang - and you." She took a happy pull on her straw, then asked in her mental voice <Sooo, what are you doing for the rest of the day?>

Kat didn't know how to answer that question. She was neither confused, nor puzzled, but rather confuzzled. She wasn't one to crave for heeds, but even if Courtney's approach was unsettling to the tinier redhead, the latter didn't resent the attention, far from it. She realized she actually didn't have any plans for the evening.

"Well... I told my Dad's girlfriend I'd be home for dinner, but apart from that, nothing much..." She said as she once again rubbed the back of her head. She then shot a glance at the redhead sitting in front of her. <You ?> The question, sent clumsily, reached Courtney, carrying the scent of uncertainty, curiosity, and a hint of boredom.

"Well." Courtney finished the last of her shake with a decorous slurp, then blotted her lips with a napkin. "I'm going to take a little drive around Shelly. It's a nice afternoon, the sun is out, and there's likely to be plenty of skin on display at the playing fields. It's a lovely day to drive around with the top down. Do let me know if the gang agree to let me join in their reindeer games." She jotted down her number on the napkin and slid it over, then gave Kat an arch look as she stood up. <And if you want to join me, maybe we can do more fun stuff than driving - I'll be outside for a few minutes still...>

She sashayed off, and when Kat glanced at the number, it was hard not to notice that the digits were written over the red lipstick print... Or that there was a little heart at the end as punctuation.

Kat stared at the napkin for a couple seconds. Her mind was empty. A feat that few people achieved with Kat. And Courtney did it twice. And only once with Shine. It was all clear now. Next week or so, they might all be dead. Rotting corpses in a Dark world devoid of its Light.

Kat grabbed the napkin, carefully folded it, and stuffed it in her leather jacket’s pocket, then followed Courtney outside.

Fuck it.

Who would care if she was a little late for dinner ? Why not have fun ?

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“See you on Sunday, then.” The gorgeous redhead shot a playful wink at the tinier redhead. “Bye, Kitty !” Kat stepped on the sidewalk and closed the car’s door, waving as the cherry-red convertible slowly moved away, then out of sight. Her fingers skimmed over her lips as the phantom of a kiss faded away. How she felt about that, she was uncertain. Three hundred and seventeen days ago. That was the last time her lips met with someone else’s. At least until today. And today had been her first time with a girl. It didn’t go farther than first base, but she still felt strange about it.

The ride had overall been very nice. Courtney spent a good hour unravelling Shelly High’s rumor mill to Kat, to the petite redhead’s amazement, and, she had to admit, delight. She had never been in a convertible before, and driving with the top down, with this warm sun and good company, had been an experience she enjoyed, a lot. Courtney had been really cool with her. And… something else. Like an open, lavish offer to pleasurable shenanigans. An offer Kat had decided to accept. She wasn’t one to turn down fun times.

Her Dad’s voice interrupted her train of thoughts. “Hey, baby girl.” She turned towards the open door, only to notice her father’s pressing gaze to his own wristwatch, accompanied by a raised eyebrow. “I assume you were with one of your friends ?”

Kat rubbed the back of her head, her features painted in an apology she struggled to voice out. “Yeah, I… She...” She fell silent.

“Next time, maybe you could send Tess a text. You had her worried !” Her father’s tone was soft, but is features were closed enough, and she recognized a rebuke when she heard one.

“I’m sorry, I was having fun and I completely forgot…” The petite redhead’s cheeks were burning with shame. Had she not been so busy making out with Courtney, maybe she’d have noticed the three missed calls her phone was displaying right now.

Her father’s face grew brighter as he relaxed. “It’s fine. I know there won’t be a second time. Right ? Come on, we left you some chicken.”

Kat wished there was a hole she could bury herself in, but there wasn’t any. She walked up the couple stairs leading to the main door - her father gently brushed her hair as she passed the frame, heading to a dinner her stomach had been demanding for quite some time now.


 

The End

Edited by Catherine 'Kat' Barras

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Side Fic Wrapped:  + 2XP  Good characterisation, development of the character and showing her finding her feet after a tumultuous first week in Shelly.  A fun read.

 

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