Breed Book 3, Part 52

“Don’t react,” Kara said flatly. Most of the bush they were standing behind wasn’t actually there. It was a fabrication she embroidered with telepathy to make them more difficult to spot from the road.

“Hi,” Drake said, appearing behind them.

“Did a dude just appear behind us, or am I stressed out enough I’m hallucinating?” Simon asked.

“He’s real. His name’s Drake. Drake, Simon- Simon, Drake. He teleports, and he’s our ride out of here if we draw too much attention.”

“Uh, she’s right about that,” Drake said nervously. “And I’m going to assume that this is an extenuating enough circumstance that I shouldn’t be irked by you rifling through my head.”

Kara cracked her knuckles, smiling wickedly, “Rifling, you say…”

“Not a challenge,” he said.

“I was kidding. And I knew you’d feel that way, and agreed. Normally it’s very uncool to tell someone what’s in somebody else’s head.”

“I thought telepaths didn’t read thoughts as a matter of politeness,” Drake said.

“For those who can control it, that’s true. But there’s no such thing as a typical telepath. We’re all different, some wildly so. For me, not hearing thoughts is, well, like trying not to hear my roommate with her vibrator. I mean, I try to tune it out, but I can’t not hear. Believe me I’ve tried. I put in industrial grade hearing protection, under noise cancelling headphones. With death metal on. I don’t even like death metal. Still, any moment that isn’t filled with percussion and screamed German profanity I can hear her…”

“The way you describe it I think I hear it.”

“Yeah, uh…” she blushed, “I was oversharing. Some telepaths do that, too. It’s subtle, with me; you might not even know it, even now, but I was likely broadcasting elements of the experience directly into your mind.”

“You’re sure you’re not just a vivid storyteller?” Drake asked.  

“She isn’t,” Simon said, and she punched him in the meat of his upper arm. “Ow. I mean, that isn’t it. We tried it, once. Put me in her noise-cancelling headpones. I couldn’t hear a word she was saying- but I could still see what she was describing. She hit me, then, too.”

“You were being a perv,” she protested.

You told the pervy story. Biology was why I reacted the way I did.”

“No more details, or I’m going to hit you, too,” Drake said.

“It can be mildly embarrassing for me,” Kara redirected. “Some of us, though, especially telepaths on the spectrum- some of them can’t filter it out. They have to learn other coping techniques, like meditating. It is not easy meditating while talking to someone.”

“I had no idea.”

“Some telepaths don’t like to talk about it. Some don’t feel it’s their place to. Personally, I don’t like the idea of contributing to a stigma. We’ve all had issues with our abilities.” Drake was about to deny, but stopped himself. “You want to tell him, or should I?”

Drake rolled his eyes. “I went through a phase, in high school. I’d seen just enough movies to be titillated about the girl’s locker room, but wasn’t yet mature enough to realize it was just a room filled with stinky girls pressed too close together- and pretty much not in a hot way.”

“That’s accurate,” Kara said.

“Anyway, if I wasn’t careful, and let the fantasy become too active in my brain… I’d accidentally teleport there. I nearly got expelled, because it kept happening. The only reason I didn’t was the administration couldn’t figure out how I did it- and just as crucially, couldn’t prove that I wasn’t being shoved in by bullies.”

“Yeah,” Simon said. “Gave myself frostbite one of the places you least want frostbite.” Kara laughed.

“I’m not sure it’s funny,” Drake said seriously.

“It gets funnier,” she said, continuing.

“Dad was on a business trip. So I had to tell my mom to take me to the emergency room. Where my aunt worked as a nurse, and was inexplicably working a weekend shift. And my grandmother met her for lunch. They were surprisingly mean about it.”

“To be fair,” Kara said, stifling still more laughter, “they waited to be mean until they were sure you hadn’t done any permanent damage. At which point they became truly savage- like the Geneva Conventions against torture were violated- and I’m not sure I’m exaggerating for comedic effect.”

“She is not. It was a weird way to learn that the matriarchs in my family were Olympic-level practitioners of cool, cruel, dry wit.”

“You seem more zen about this than… I can understand,” Drake said.

“Thankfully, I got my dad’s disaffected nature. I was laughing with them by the end of it. But it was a trial by fire.”

“Speaking of,” Kara said, nodding in the direction of the sound of boots.    

“You did that on purpose,” Drake said. “Distracting us.”

“Didn’t take a psychic to see we were all a little too tense; and it didn’t take telepathy to know a little humor would puncture that tension. But you’re up, Si.”

He sighed deeply, and as he exhaled, Drake could feel the air get colder. “Jeez,” he said, shivering. Drake noticed patches of frost in the street spider-webbing, growing wider and denser as they swallowed up moisture from the air.

“And they just want snow?” Simon asked, closing his eyes as he concentrated.

“Snow to start. The next corner is going to hit them with freezing rain.”

“So I’m trying to drop their temperatures- at least of their clothes- get them as close to freezing as possible to supercool the rain as it hits. That’s kind of evil. I love it.” He exhaled again, and this time Drake couldn’t stop shivering, even under his ski coat.

“I can feel the temperature drop when he does that,” he said.

“Not as much as they can,” Simon said, as the first of the ICE agents crested the hill. There were a few dozen of them, marching brokenly as the cold made it harder for them to move. “Believe it or not, you’re just feeling the ripples of cold I’m directing at them- they’re getting it full-on. One of the agents exhaled, and his breath crystalized in the air, and fell to the road, where it shattered.

“Shit,” Kara said. Drake saw it an instant after her. One of the agents was staring right at them, whispering to the agent next to him. “We need to get out of here. There’s a few seconds before they all notice us.”

“On it,” Drake said, putting a hand to each of their shoulders. An instant later and they were inside the student center back at the campus.

“Wow, that warm air,” Kara said, unzipping her jacket.

“They rotating you back in?” Drake asked.

“Not if they can help it. Since the name of the game is deniability, the idea was to never have them see the same person twice. You know, until you decided you should be on the front line their entire trek.”

“Yeah,” he said, squinting. “Maybe not the best time to call an audible.”

“No, I think you were right. Given the choice, I’d rather have to divide some of my attention masking you than worry about trying to get you to us in a hurry. One panicked, confused thought and the whole damn thing could fall apart. Plus, us telepaths are pretty good about reinforcing each other, even over a distance.” She smiled, pushing an image into his mind. It was a block and a half from where they’d been, looking through the eyes of another telepath. “You should go, before they’re in ‘view’ of the march. It’s always easier to hide someone who’s already there, than to try and intercept someone who just pops up out of thin air. And thanks for the help. We felt safer having you with us.”

“I did?” Simon asked.

“He has some trouble admitting it- even to himself; toxic masculinity’s a real bitch- but he did.” “Anytime,” Drake said, and disappeared.

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