I am very sorry for the long wait. I am frustrated with myself on how long it took me to write this. I have been busy though, then I lost my hard drive, then it crashed. I also have to apologize for formatting and spelling errors, in the transition from one computer to another through email, spell check and regular formatting were messed with. But enough excuses. Comments are wonderful! And Charcoal part 5:
“Soul, your name is no accident. Though your mother’s description of how you got it is as accurate as any, it, as many things, does not tell the whole truth. I also cannot tell you the whole truth. But I can begin to.” Soul realized then that this discussion was not going to be about his art. At least not entirely.
“Your mother was an extraordinary woman. You may not realize it now, and you may never really comprehend what she gave up to raise you the way she did. And it may not have been the best for anyone but it was what she believed in. she didn’t want you to know about your talent, and she did a damn good job. But there have always been people in your life, and there will always be people that want to draw it out.” This was stupid. Soul was just waiting for the camera crew to jump from the walls.
“This isn’t some weird fantasy movie. I don’t have some talent. I just like to draw, and according to you I’m not even that good. And if I do have so talent why wont you just say what it is?” The professor smiled warmly.
“I haven’t mentioned because it is so hard to believe. If I didn’t know your mother, if I hadn’t witnessed your birth and watched you grow up I would have sworn there was a mistake. There would be no way this quiet sarcastic- rude,” here he gave a rather significant look, could be the one that all the elders speak of in hushed voices. But there you are. Mysterious ways and all that. “Soul was getting frustrated.
“What am I supposed to be able to do? Why wont you just tell me?”
The professor looked down his nose at Soul, he didn’t speak for a moment. Right before Soul was going to gather his materials and leave he began.
“It is a sad story, your mother's. But I must begin there for any of this to make sense.” The professor turned away from the easel and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “If you are willing to listen this will be a rather long story. We should go somewhere more suited to talking.”
They ended up in a small student run cafe under the library. It was nearly empty and the broken in leather armchairs felt like a warm embrace. Soul sat forward in his chair, knees tucked under him. The feeling of being in the chair was too claustrophobic. He didn’t want any hugs, especially not one from a dirty old chair.
“Before you were born your mother lived a very privileged life. Everything she knew was given to her. Her family had enough money that jobs or finances were never spoken of. But there was also little freedom.” Scott had gone to get coffee. He set Soul's on the edge of his chair. Soul ignored it.
“Little freedom? Try none.” Scott curled, catlike into his chair. He didn’t quite meet Soul's eyes when the other boy looked at him, surprised. “I'm lucky they let me come here. If they knew you were here- well I guess that wouldn’t really make much of a difference.” Soul was becoming more confused by the second. If this was some sort of elaborate prank it was going too far. No one would like it if it were televised.
“Scott is right, in a way, but his life was also different than your mother's-”
“What the hell is going on? You should just tell me if this is real, and quit saying stupid vague things. If you are going to tell some long winded story then get on with it.” Soul took a deep breath through his nose, not understanding where the venom was coming from. He wasn’t someone who yelled, he stewed, and brooded, and held wicked grudges. But he never raised his voice.
“Your mother was raised Claire. Even if she didn’t have the Talent she was still forced to go through all the training, and she had enough of the Talent to pass it on to you. Claire is not a place as many people think, it is not a city made of glass or anything of that nature. It is closer to a state of mind. Many people study the discipline, but your mother's family, and Scott's, lived in a community with those dedicated to the art. There was no other option for her, or for Scott.” This explanation was far from satisfactory.
“What's the talent. You keep saying it, but I still don’t know what it is.” Soul managed to keep his voice close to level, but he was still frustrated.
“All in time.” The professor took a leisurely sip of his coffee, rubbed his temples and crossed his legs before beginning to speak again. Soul though he was going to burst. If any of this nonsense was true his whole life was going to change. But these two, with all the answers wouldn’t do anything to make what was supposed to happen clear.
“When I was in college I first thought I wanted to study parapsychology. I looked into all the lab trials that had failed to show evidence of ESP and realized that maybe there was something about the lab environment that was messing with the power, or talent, or skill. I went searching for people who could do the things I wanted to learn about. I started in Lilydale, but soon found that I was more interested in the actual act, not the show of it. For several long years I searched. It was difficult. Those who really have the Talent usually try to hide it, and those who don’t are usually locked in communities like the one your mother was born into. I managed to get an invitation to a ball through a friend of a friend and that is how I met your mother.” Soul frowned. This was sounding more and more like a bad TV show. Or maybe one of those crime shows. Maybe Professor White was going to lead up to some elaborate reveal of how he was some inbred child of a serial rapist or something. Or maybe his parents were from some sort of poly-amorous community where everyone was related.
“Are you like my dad or something?” The professor laughed and shook his head.
“If only I was, maybe I could be of more help to you.” I know very little, that is why I am being so vague, I don’t mean to be. That is where Scott comes in. But first I want to finish my story.” Soul stood and walked around the cafe. The barista behind the counter looked up suddenly, as if just becoming aware there were costumers. Soul scowled at her, and she quickly went back to reading her book.
“I met your mother, and was stricken with her beauty. I wanted her.” Soul made a face, the image of his mother and the Professor, together, was too disgusting for him to think about. “ I think she may have noticed me, but I will never really know. I will only know from that point forward I never could bear to be without knowledge of her for long. I had my friend send me updates about her life. And when she was paired, I crashed the ceremony. It was like a wedding, but fancier, and with more ritual, I imagined I could feel the magic in the air. I could tell, though, by your mother's face that she didn’t love the man she was to be with, she flinched whenever he leaned toward her. I couldn’t watch the end of the ceremony, well, I’ll spare you the details, but I was later told that is the night you were conceived.” People watched that? Soul was disgusted again, and more so that his own professor had been there to see it, that his own mother had- fornicated-in public. He shivered and walked back to his chair. He didn’t sit, still unwilling to feel the suffocation of its embrace, especially after hearing of his own conception.
“Later I learned that you had been born, then a little after a month after that, that your mother had disappeared. I spent years looking for her, all across the country and world, until I found you here. I introduced myself to your mother, and she remembered me after all those years. I watched you grow up, from afar, and after you began to draw, more than just what you could see I knew you had the talent your mother lacked. She knew it too and that is why she tried to protect you, by keeping you in the dark. When you came to this school I wanted to honor her wishes, to tell you nothing. But what you draw suggests that there are changes coming, and we need to know what this means. You have to develop you Talent so you can interpret your own works. That is what I have learned, both teaching and studying art and your family, no one but the artist can truly interpret the meaning.”
Soul sat back in his seat and considered what the professor was saying.
“You still haven’t explained yourself very well. How am I supposed to learn. I just draw what comes to mind. It isn’t some magical prophesy.”
The professor nodded.
“That is where Scott comes in.”
Scott turned slowly in his chair, still not looking into Soul's eyes.
“When you were born, my family claimed you as my intended. It is not a practice that is often observed anymore, and many on the counsel though it had been made illegal, well it hasn’t been. I was bound to you, I don’t think you mother finished your side of the bond. But I can't break it ever. And I always felt something was missing. Until I started drawing. There was always a figure that I wanted to draw, but never came out right, until I drew you sulking in the window.” Scott laughed. “I asked my mother, and she told me I was stupid, that it was impossible. She told me what she has always told me, that she is very sorry the bond wasn’t finished, and that I should get used to the idea of being alone. I had hope when I first met you, that maybe- but after I talked to you it was certain that you didn’t feel the pull.” Scott finally met Soul's eyes, Scott's were glossy like he was close to tears. Soul broke the gaze first. He had never been one to like eye contact, especially after such an intimate confession. He turned to Professor White who simply smiled.
Soul felt quite uncomfortable. He had to admit that keeping him hidden was something his mother would do. She was terrified of letting him go to school. He had never gotten his license because she 'couldn’t find his birth certificate' now he wondered if he even had one.
“Even though you were gone, the bond didn’t resolve. They know you are still alive, and assume your mother is too. It's hard for me not to tell them, but it would hurt more for you to be taken away. I want nothing more than for you to be happy.” Scott looked broken. Nothing like the arrogant jerk that Soul had seen that first week.
“I had to do something with my life, since I couldn’t have you, I don’t have the Talent, but those around me seem to get better at it. I learned how to help people use their Talent, how to protect their minds from getting too caught up in the Unworld. I would like nothing more than to help you.” Soul sank down into his chair slowly. It was too much to take in. Professor White watched quietly. He hoped that everything would end up okay, but knew that there would be a long way ahead of the boys. Even if Soul did agree to work with Scott.
“It sounds like there are a lot of creepy obsessions going on.” Soul looked down at his hands and wondered if it could all be true. Could his forest of hand and smoke mean something? He wondered how his mother had gotten away, if she really had no skills. How he could learn a skill he didn’t even believe in. “First you and my mother, now Scott.” He ran his finger through his hair and thought.
“Your mother was amazing. Even after she was pared with someone she didn’t love she had a wonderful life, she could have anything she asked for, she gave it up for you, she didn’t want you bound, and didn’t want you to be forced into a loveless match. She gave it all up for you. If it was a wrong choice, or even a drastic choice, she still made the only sacrifice, the only decision she knew how.” Professor White looked determined, like he was expecting argument. Soul didn’t have the words to disagree, or to inquire more. Scott looked like his heart was breaking, and Soul wondered how Scott's life was so different from his mothers, they had both given things up, both for him, both our of love, or some twisted version of it.
“If I did agree, what would I have to do?” Scott's eyes brightened to an almost fanatical delight. Soul leaned away, unsure if he was making the right decision. Scott saw the reaction and tried to temper his own.
“I don’t mean to be too, forward. It is just hard to be away from you, and it had been years.” Scott smiled and sighed reaching out a hand to Soul's face, drawing away at the last second. “We were supposed to be a powerful pair, that is the only reason they put us together, apparently both our families Saw it. I don’t know though. You really seem to hate me.” Soul sighed.
“I don’t hate you. I just-” He didn’t have the words to explain himself, he still didn’t know if he believed any of it. “What would I have to do?”
“To start,” Scott began “you have to trust me.”