A Learning Experience: Interlude Five

(occurs during Chapter One, Turn Six)

The faculty room at Larry K. Dixon Senior High is dominated by a large table in the center of the room. About ten chairs are arranged along its sides; in its center are a napkin holder full of white paper napkins, a glass jar of biscotti with a metal lid, and battered copies of the Washington Post and Education Today.

The carpet is an indeterminate color -- perhaps tan, perhaps beige and probably several years old. The latter can also be said for the worn sofa sitting against one wall, which might have been blue when new, but has now faded to a shade between blue and gray. A table with a phone and a coffee maker is against the opposite wall; next to it, the doorway to the room's small adjoining kitchen can be seen. Tacked to the bulletin board above the sofa are notices of workshops, a school calendar for September, a sign-up sheet for cleaning the faculty room, and a memo from the headmistress reminding teachers that lesson plan books should be submitted to the office for approval every Thursday afternoon.

At present, seven of the ten chairs at the table are filled Lady Janelle sits at the head of the table, her normally serene beauty marred by an expression of worry.

Lord Preston sits at Lady Janelle's right, a quill poised over a leather-bound book with parchment pages. His mouth is set in a firm line of disapproval.

Sir Dariun occupies the chair to Lady Janelle's immediate left, wearing his normally serious expression, his clear silver gaze missing nothing.

Next to Sir Dariun is Umeko, the ninth-grade English teacher, clad in her usual voile a kimono of deep green silk with long, trailing sleeves, ornamented with the design of an Asian dragon around the hem. Her eshu heritage is evident in her dark, mysterious eyes, and her hair is arranged in a style reminiscent of a geisha's elaborate coiffure.

Elzbieta sits next to Umeko, her long, spidery fingers coiled around each other in a way no human being's hands could move.

Byron and Amalia sit together at the opposite end of the table from Umeko and Elzbieta. The greybeard satyr regards his fellow teachers with an expectant air, while his younger female counterpart seems less inclined to impassiveness, alternately twirling a loose strand of hair around her finger and tracing a finger along the handle of her coffee cup.

Lady Janelle turns to Sir Dariun. "You have something you wish to discuss, Sir Dariun?"

The Scathach knight inclines his head courteously to the headmistress. "Thank you, milady." His finely-drawn brows draw together as he continues. "It seems Aidan Ryan, one of our juniors, has a rather...interesting talent." His frown deepens. "He Sees us. I have no idea if he knows what he's looking at, but he Sees."

Elzbieta inhales sharply. "The Sight..." Her pale face takes on an unreadable expression. "It has been a very, very long time since such a thing happened." She looks at Sir Dariun with interest. "Are you sure?"

"Quite sure," the sidhe returns crisply. "The question is, what do we do about it?" He regards the rest of the fae faculty expectantly.

Byron looks around the room until it seems clear to him that no one else wishes to speak. "Perhaps his new talent is related to the other unusual happenings here, such as the appearance of the creature in the assembly. But no matter what the cause, it is our responsibility to help the lad cope with his newfound gift. We are his teachers after all. The only questions I see are, who is to teach him, and what does he need to be taught? Perhaps if we knew exactly what he was seeing, it might help us decide what he needs to learn."

Lord Preston looks up from his notes, a noticeable dent appearing between his brows. "Were this boy one of us, I could see doing that sort of thing, but he is mortal. Do we dare risk exposing ourselves to humanity with the attendant possibility of danger to a great many of our kind just to ease the discomfort of one mortal child?" He sets his quill carefully to one side and regards the rest of the assembled kithain instructors. "We must preserve the Escheat, after all."

Amalia stares at the deputy headmaster, her green eyes wide with shock. "You mean you're saying we shouldn't do anything? What kind of decision is that?" Her breathing speeds up and a flush rises in her cheeks. "Don't you even care about that poor kid?"

Byron places his hand on Amalia's bare leg, two of his fingers catching the hem of her tunic and giving it a bit of downward tug, hopefully unnoticed by Lord Preston. Leaving his hand on her leg and maintaining a restraining tension on her tunic, Byron says to her, "Now, I'm sure that isn't what Lord Preston meant. It is his duty to remind us of the Escheat, after all. He's just pointing out that we need to be discreet about this, and not act like the gaggle of young fae that would be telling all to this mortal if we did not act."

Amalia squirms, but remains seated, though the color doesn't leave her cheeks.

"Byron has a point," Lady Janelle says calmly. "Perhaps we should consider this further." She looks at the rest of the faculty. "Does anyone else wish to add something?"

Sir Dariun raises a hand. "Much as I must acknowledge the concerns of our esteemed deputy headmaster," his glance falls on the Dougal, his eyes chips of gray ice, "I feel Byron has the right of this. We might discreetly inquire what exactly the lad is seeing, and then decide what to do from there."

Lord Preston sniffs disdainfully. "And will you take on the responsibility of teaching him, Dariun, or will you vanish on some errand, as you Gray Walkers are wont to do, and leave us to pick up the pieces?"

Sir Dariun stiffens, then regards Lord Preston head-on, his breath hissing through his clenched teeth. The temperature in the faculty room seems to have dropped by about twenty degrees. His voice is carefully even, though his gray eyes have darkened to near-black. "I have no intention of leaving the lad to fend for himself, Lord Preston." His gaze locks with the Dougal sidhe's. "Of course, I can see where you might get that idea. After all, it is difficult to stay in one place when you are the only one of your kind left."

Lady Janelle puts up a restraining hand. "Both of you, stop this!" Her voice seems to reverberate in the ears of all who hear it as the very air of the room seems to sparkle with Glamour.

Sir Dariun and Lord Preston break off their glaring contest, and Sir Dariun gives a slight bow in Lady Janelle's direction. "My apologies, Lady Janelle."

Lord Preston murmurs something unintelligible; Elzbieta slants a quick glance at him. Then the deputy headmaster inclines his head to Lady Janelle. "I apologize as well, milady."

Byron gives Amalia's leg a gentle squeeze, then lets go. "I've got him for gym class. I could talk to him then. His fits could be construed as a health concern."

"A wise decision," murmurs Elzbieta. She turns to look at Umeko. "Shall we research incidents concerning the Sight, you and I? Perhaps we might be able to discern how to school the lad in the use of his new talent."

Umeko nods. "There may be some stories among my people as well. We can compare notes, and see what we can come up with."

Lady Janelle seems relieved. "Then, if we are in agreement, shall we adjourn?"

"So I'll talk to the young man next week then," says the greybearded satyr. "Though it would be good if someone informed me of whatever I'm suppose to be passing on before his next gym class."

Byron waits until the faculty has started to disperse before addressing Amalia. "Sorry about that. Maybe you'll let me buy you a drink after work to make up for it?"

Amalia flashes the older satyr a smile. "That's okay." Then her expression takes on a coquettish air. "But I'll still take you up on that drink." She heads out of the faculty room, her hips swaying coquettishly.

Byron looks down the front of the tank top that covers him to his thighs. "Reaction time is a little slow, but we're still in the game." Byron follows Amalia out of the room, whistling.

Time: 12:35 pm, Friday, September 6, 2002

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This web page copyright 2002 by Midori Hirtzel-Church.
This page first posted -- January 2, 2003
Last revised -- June 13, 2003
First uploaded to mirror site -- January 10, 2003

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