Luckily for me, my nap means I only have one lesson left today.
Unfortunately it’s Gifted Skills.
I straighten my spine and tuck my hair behind my ear, letting my multiple piercings and chain glint in the light. I give him my black glare as I pass to sit next to him.
He still hasn’t moved seats.
I must be losing my touch.
“Looking…scary.” Alex comments, lip twitching.
I hate him. I hate him for making my outfit feel ridiculous, for making me feel self conscious in it. I hate him for the heat I can feel building in my cheeks.
I can’t think of a comeback in time so chose to ignore him and just keep my eyes on the front.
Control, The Real Power for a Gifted Human.
Ha, after the event this morning maybe I should pay attention. It wouldn’t surprise me if they’d changed the lesson plan especially for me.
“Control,” Alex muses. “And power, funny how they tend to go hand in hand isn’t it?”
I rest my chin in the palm of my hand and sigh.
So he was feeling philosophical.
He shrugs, still with that ever present smirk on his thin lips. “You tell me.”
Mr. Matthews was teaching today as Mrs. Vulcan wasn’t in today.
Mr. Matthews was a Mover, but not any Mover because he was an Upper too. He couldn’t just move chairs and throw your bag across the room, (a particularly annoying trick of a Mover), he could move groups of people.
Male teachers were fairly rare here. They always had some job to do in the government. If their Quirk wasn’t so great they could train up, hit the gym and become a body guard.
But Mr. Matthews was nearing seventy so was probably retired and had decided to come and teach us reckless adolescents about control while his maids cleaned his mansion.
“Hello fellow, Others.” He smiles as if we’ll cheer at his use of our own term.
I have to admit, I appreciate him trying but it’s kinda cringey.
“As I’m sure you can all read, you’ll know that today we are focusing on control and the power it can give you. Some believe that it is losing control that gives you the most power, letting loose, throwing it all out there. But…that leaves you vulnerable. As I said, you have lost control.”
Alex leans forwards, fingers linked, elbows on the table as he rests his mouth against his hands. Looking around, I notice quite a lot of peeked interest.
Maybe his little “Other” stunt worked better than I thought?
I slouch in my seat, doodling in the corner of my notebook.
“We all strive for control, we all want power. But to get power, you need control. I don’t mean being a manipulative person, far from it. That’s not power, that is fear and will only last as long as you stay young and intimidating. Real power, comes from respect, people following you, not because they have to, not because they fear the consequences if they don’t, but because they want to. Nelson Mandela,” He holds up a finger, clicking his laptop to show the friendly, lined face. “Gandhi,” another click, Gandhi in bright orange with a red paint spot between his brows and big round glasses perched on his nose. “They still have power, though they are no longer with us, though they are old, ordinary people.”
He clicks the laptop again.
Hitler standing proud, hand outstretched towards the crowd of people, swastika flags caught in a long ago breeze.
“Hitler had power, immense power.” Mr. Matthews says in a admitting tone, shrugging and raising his hands. “He convinced millions that ordinary people were evil, they’d sabotaged the first world war. He killed many, many people. Now? He’s laughed at, mocked, hated. Same with Stalin. They are the brunt of jokes. Loathed.”
He clicks again. A large question mark comes up on the screen.
“So, let me ask you, who has the real power in our society at the moment? The prime minster? You? Normal civilians? Discuss amongst yourselves.”
As the room erupts into chatter, about half of which is actually about control and power, I sigh and turn to Alex.
“Who has the real power, Alex?” I ask in a bored tone.
He raises an eyebrow. “You really want to discuss this?”
“Then why bother?” He shrugs as if this is obvious.
“Because sometimes we have to do things we’d rather not, to do something we really want to.”
He scratches the back of his head, fingers getting lost in the black, curly locks.
“There are always ways around it.”
I stare at him, so he’s a rich kid then.
I hate him even more.
And only a small portion of that is because I’m jealous.
“Maybe, but you can’t avoid everything.”
He opens his mouth to argue but Mr. Matthews claps his hands loudly, the lights flickering on and off as the switch on the wall is knocked up and down by an invisible hand.
“Now, for you…for us, control means learning to deal with your ability. The level of control needed obviously increases depending on your ability. Elementals can quickly cause havoc should they lose control, sudden forests, fires, floods, mini tornadoes… we’ve had them all here. Things that can affect your control include tiredness…”
I wasn’t sure, but I thought he shot me a glance.
“Hunger and stress. Now, get into pairs and we’ll move on to a little practical. But!” he cried as everyone started scraping back chairs and preparing to move. “Remember the objective of today’s lesson. Control.”
I suppress a groan, the main advantage of sixth form is we were no longer subjected to this humiliating pair up crap.
Even worse, Alex wasn’t moving.
“Looks like we’re together.” He smirks, giving the words double meaning.
“Oh goodie. How lucky I am.” I say in a bored tone and fold my arms, sinking down in my chair.
Mr. Matthews casts his eyes around the class room, making sure we pay attention. My respect for him climbs dramatically when he meets mine.
“Now, when I say! I want you to hold hands…”
Alex starts chuckling.
“And begin to use your ability on the other individual, slowly increasing whatever it is you can do. Obviously do not physically harm your partner.”
Alex stops chuckling.
I grin so wide my cheeks hurt.
Mr. Matthews starts talking to the Elementals, making sure they are paired up with someone with the same element so they don’t hurt each other.
Alex pulls a face at me.
“What?” He barks.
“I take it back, I really am lucky!” I laugh.
“Whatever,” he stands up and holds out his arms like a zombie. “Let’s get it over with shall we?”
I jump up and grab his rough hands, meeting his nervous eyes.
He nods, eyes wary.
I start a low thrumming, only soft, barely even irritating, the rush of blood you get after pins and needles. He channels it away easily, firing it back at me.
I turn it up, make the pain sharper. Stinging nettles, bee stings.
My hands tingle, I’ve never zapped myself before. Alex smiles, looking bored.
If we do it this slowly, he’ll be able to channel quite a bit.
And I’m not the self-harm type.
I make a slightly bigger jump. Painful cramping. He jolts, going tense as he tries to work against multiple cramps and spasms, soon I start to feel it myself.
I hiss, biting my lip.
More. Burning blood, agonising heat, cramps, spasms, tingles, everything I have, I throw at him.
His legs give out beneath him and the rooms falls quite as he grunts, the pain slowly wearing off.
Mr. Matthews gives me a wary glance and frowns at Alex.
“Remember control class, it gives you power.” He says, trying to keep his authority.
I crouch down to Alex’s level, sweat beads on his forehead, temples and on his upper lip.
“That was…” He snarls, trailing off as he tries to think of a word harsh enough.
I smirk. “Scary?”