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TS41: Seconds

That evening Jove and his friends were sitting around one of the cafeteria tables. The night’s dinner was a tofu stir fry with optional meaty mushrooms and grilled salmon for those so inclined. Jove noticed that Aden had the fish along with most of the predators. He also noticed that Julius had kept his meal vegetarian.

“I still can’t believe you took it so well.” Jove observed.

Aden shrugged, “I get pushed around by my magic all the time. I guess I’d be a bit more creeped out if I relied on it more regularly.”

Julius added, “It’s alright Jove. The Vorax that possessed Mark had me under a geas for a week and would have probably eaten me when he was done. You didn’t set that up.”

“Thank you for your trust.”

About that time, Tan entered the cafeteria and waved at the table. He got on line for food without a word.

Jove swallowed the lump in his throat. “Can you excuse me a moment… I’m going to get seconds.”

Julius offered, “I could get that,” but Chris put his hand in front of the bear, insisting Julius remain seated.

Jove stood up and got in line behind Tan. He had a lot of questions and was relieved that Tan didn’t seem to shy away from his presence. Then he realized that Tan was wearing a different set of clothing with a slight scent of drying fur. “Tan, did you shower?”

“I needed to clear my head.” The jaguar sighed. “I shouldn’t have freaked out. I wasn’t upset with you. It just dragged up a lot of things.”

“Like your parents saying you were a copy of Takrai?”

Tan clutched his tray tightly. “Can we pretend that’s what it is? It’s close enough.”

“Of course.” Jove smiled. “Until you’re ready.”

A few minutes later, they both sat down at the table, Tan with a double helping of Salmon and Jove with a new tray of tofu stir-fry. Chris was eating from Jove’s old plate which was still more than half full. Julius avoided Jove’s gaze and absently pushed his remaining fish around his plate.

Aden asked, “Is everything okay?”

Tan nodded. “Yeah. I was concerned about Jove making a duplicate of my magic.” He paused. “I have my own issues with magic. Maybe I should show you those.” He closed his blue eyes and thought for a few moments. “Jove, can you ask for him? It’s still easier with whatever you do.”

The fox felt everyone at the table look at him. He wasn’t sure he was doing anything magical when he asked for Tan or Rei. Jove made a mental note to check his spell log at the end of the day. “Rei, I think Tan wants you to meet his friends.”

The jaguar nodded and red eyes opened. “I’ve met them already. In the abyss, although I didn’t feel the need to introduce myself.” He smiled, “I am Takrai, potential Fire Venator.” His ears flattened, “I’m the reason Tan’s taking CBE. He burst before I did.”

Aden looked at Rei. He blurted out, “You have a different facing from Tan?”

“Our eyes are different colors as well. We’re basically different people.” His gaze regained its strength. “We don’t exactly share memories, but there’s been more bleed-through lately. You’re more interesting than the bullies he dealt with in junior academy.”

Julius grumbled. “You’ve been watching us this whole time. How can we trust you?”

“I don’t need to answer to you, retainer.” Rei scoffed at the bear. “Jove, do you want to relay his question?”

Jove winced at the attention and tried to pull himself into his chair. When that didn’t dismiss the looks from his friends, he forced himself to sit up. “Julius is not my retainer. Until I am sure I’m not affecting him through his magic, it wouldn’t be right.” He looked at Rei, “I trust you. Now, please respect my friends.”

Julius said, “That’s good enough for me.”

Jove asked Rei. “Have you heard about my magic?”

“Yes. I was listening.” He gave a wide, toothy grin. “I will honor Tan’s request not to explain things further. I will say that what you can do weighed heavily on his mind. And as I said, it’s gotten a bit easier to hear those since we met you.” He paused for a moment. “I trust you as well, if that concerns you.”

“It did.” Jove started to smile. He resolved to invite Rei to his Lucid game on Tuesday and I silently composed a message as the friends talked. Jove continued, “This could help you as well. Elsa asked me for help getting her to burst. Suppress her ability to, uh…”

“Go primal,” Julius offered.

“Go primal. Suppress that so she can burst normally.” Jove sighed, “I don’t know a lot about bursts but I have a basic idea. If it works, maybe we can do something like it to get you to burst, Rei.”

Rei rolled his eyes. “I’ll be fine. Let me get Tan, he knows more about bursts.”

Once again, Rei blinked and Tan was there. He mumbled to himself, “That’s odd. I normally don’t remember much when Rei’s out.” Tan shook his head and looked at Jove, “When were you thinking of helping her?”

Jove shivered a little. “Maybe this weekend. While I still have enough instinct to do something powerful but lack the control to keep spells active when the original goes away. At least, that’s the idea. I’m sure it’s not that simple.”

Chris added, “And before the council sends anyone. Which means tomorrow or Sunday.”

There was long silence at that. Even the otherworlders knew that sounded serious. Finally, Jove asked, “Aden, do you think you can get your fighting spell to the point you can reliably use it?”

“I think so. There’s a chapter on formalizing spells in the textbook.” The rabbit thought, “Tan can you help me with it?”

Tan nodded.

“I need to make sure I can borrow spells reliably as well.” Jove asked, “Chris, Julius, can you give me a hand?”

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