She scowled at him and turned to look at Mr. Rosco. Mr. Rosco looked annoyed, but he nodded. “It was a test, but the last task was for a specialized rank of Illusion magic. One that a young teenage girl who was trying to get a Level 1 permit shouldn’t have to take.”
The man in the lab coat cringed and rubbed the back of his head. “I might have been a tad overzealous. But who could resist testing out a subj- a girl with such extraordinary potential.”
Raven glared at the man. She still wanted to hit him, preferably multiple times. Her hand tightened on the bed and for a second she could hear the creak of metal.
“Ah, I see. Maybe I went too far,” the man admitted and he took a step closer.
Raven flinched back.
He paused, frowning. “Oh.” He looked helplessly at Micah then back at Raven. Looking perplexed, he looked between the two of them as if searching for an answer to a very complex question. Finally, he seemed to come to a solution. He reached into his pocket and pulled out an ID card and a small silver ring.
Raven blinked in surprise. “I did?”
The man hurried forward, holding out the badge and ring to Raven. Raven looked at them, not sure if she should take them. Finally, she grabbed them. She looked over the badge. It had the picture she took when she filled out her application for Core awakening. Next to it was information stating that she had the right to use illusion magic, but…
“It says I’m a rank two,” she said in disbelief.
The man nodded in excitement. “Honestly, you should be a rank three after the demonstration you pulled off. But since the test wasn’t exactly approved, this is the best I can do.”
She stared at the badge with a mixture of happiness and anger. She wasn’t sure how she should feel. With not only having passed the exam but also becoming a rank two in Illusion magic she had a good chance of getting into a specialized school, even if her Core magic didn’t turn out as strong as she hoped it to be.
“I’m sorry,” the man said, sheepishly.
She looked up in surprise. The man’s face creased with worry, and his blue eyes no longer held the zeal they did before. She wasn’t sure how she felt about it. She had almost died and he had been responsible. Yet, at the same time, he had given her some leverage she could use.
“Who are you?”
The man’s eyes widened in surprise and then he smiled. “That’s right. I never did introduce myself. I’m Dr. Kesson. I’m the Director of Research at the MDE.”
Raven blinked. “W-what?”
He laughed. “I guess you’ve heard of me.”
She nodded slowly and then something else clicked. She looked between Micah and back to Dr. Kesson.
Micah nodded. “Yes, he is my father, something I’m currently not too proud of.”
“Micah, don’t be that way,” Dr. Kesson pouted.
“I’m tempted to report you myself,” Micah said flatly.
Raven couldn’t help feeling the son seemed more mature than the father. Her thoughts swirled around her as she trying to make sense of the situation around her.
“Look, Raven has forgiven me, so you should too.”
“I haven’t,” Raven said.
The room filled with an awkward silence. Raven wondered if she shouldn’t have blurted that out, but she couldn’t muster up the energy to care. She could still remember the feeling of being paralyzed on the floor. If she closed her eyes she knew the sensation of her body shuddering as she struggled for air would be there.
“It would be a good idea if you all let her rest for a little longer,” Micah said.
“Understood. In the meantime we should report this incident,” Mr. Rosco said, giving Dr. Kesson a pointed look.
“I guess you’re right,” Dr. Kesson said looking like a kicked puppy.
Raven felt a twinge of sympathy, but it quickly vanished. Mr. Rosco and Dr. Kesson left, leaving her with Micah.
“I’m sorry for my Dad,” Micah said. “There’s no excuse.”
“Yeah,” Raven said, leaning back in the bed. She stared at the ceiling before turning to him. “They listen to you. Is that because you’re part of the MDE?”
Micah nodded. “My Dad still outranks me and he’s of course, my Dad, but in this situation, I’m in charge.”
She frowned in confusion. “Why’s that?”
“You’re my patient,” he said simply.
They both stared at each other, and Raven felt heat creep up her neck and settle on her cheeks. She looked away from him. For the second time today she was grateful that her brown skin helped to cover up her blush.
“You’re a healer?” she asked, fiddling with the blanket.
“Yes,” he said. “It’s my Core skill.”
Raven nodded and then stiffened. “The Core Awakening! Please tell me I didn’t miss it.”
Micah shook his head. “It won’t be for another hour.”
Raven relaxed. “Good.”
Micah looked concerned. “You’re not thinking of going, are you? I don’t think that would be a good idea. Your body has been through a lot of trauma already and Core Awakenings are very stressful.”
“You healed me, didn’t you?” she insisted. “I’ll be fine.”
Doubt was clear on Micah’s face. “Yes, but you still need to rest. We can always reschedule it.”
Raven immediately shook her head. She had been waiting for months. She didn’t want to have to wait even longer when it would delay her applications for school. “Please. I can do it. You can even be there for my Awakening to make sure I’m okay.” She reached over and took Micah’s hand. “Please.”
Micah looked surprised at the touch and a faint blush dusted his cheek. He pulled away and crossed his arms, trying to look stern. “Okay, but I’ll have to be there.”
“Deal,” Raven said, smiling brightly.
Micah looked at her like he was thinking of saying something else, before deciding against it. Instead, he turned to a door to the far right. “There are some clothes for you to change into. Your clothes were pretty damaged.”
Raven looked down and realized she wasn’t in her jeans and favorite shirt. Someone had changed her clothes. Her eyes widened in terror. Did he see her naked? Of course, he was a healer, so it made sense he would need to check her over, but…Inside her brain, she started to scream.
“The nurse changed you,” Micah said, not quite looking at her. “If you’re worried.”
“Oh,” Raven said.
The room fell into an awkward silence.
“Um, I should go, check on my patients.”
“Yeah,” Raven said, wishing she could think of something better to say, but her brain had already given up for the day. “Will you be back?”
Micah turned to her, looking a little surprise. “Do you want me to come back?”
“Yes,” Raven said quickly. “I mean. I need someone to show me where to go for the Awakening.”
“Oh, yeah,” Micah said. “I can walk you there if you like.”
“Yeah, if that’s not a bother,” she said, fidgeting with the blanket.
“I want to,” Micah said firmly and that made Raven’s heart beat faster.
He smiled and there was a spark in his eyes. “I’ll see you in 45 minutes. Rest until then.”
She nodded and watched as he walked away. As soon as the door closed, she flopped back in the bed. “Did that just happen?” She twisted around in the bed and screamed into the pillow. She turned on her side. “This is too much.”
She almost died, got a Level 2 Illusion permit, and Micah Kesson was flirting with her. At least she thought he was flirting with her. Ah, she had too much to think about, especially the whole ‘almost died’ part.
“I could have died,” she said softly, the words echoing in the room.
She placed her hand against her chest. She let herself sink into the reassuring feeling of her heart beating.