A Whateley Academy Tale
By Maggie Finson
Mom, I Don’t Feel So Good
Kansas City September 15th, 2005
Nick Reilly got up from his bed and wished he hadn’t. Every part of his body at least ached, with sporadic jabs of pain from individual parts that informed him they weren’t at all happy with things as they were. As that was being imprinted on his fogged brain, his stomach gave a sudden lurch that had him running for the bathroom. “Ahhh, maaan!
“Nick?” His mother’s voice penetrated his misery, barely. “What’s the matter, honey?”
“I dunno, flu maybe.” The boy managed to answer between bouts of nausea and stabbing pains that made him feel worse than he ever remembered in his thirteen years of life. “All I know is that everything hurts and I feel like my stomach is trying to crawl up my throat and find somewhere else to live until it’s over with.”
“I haven’t heard of any flu going around.” His mother worriedly answered while resting a hand on his forehead. “But you’re burning up. Go back to bed and I’ll call the school to let them know you won’t be going today.”
“Thanks, mom.” Nick staggered back to his room, making sure that a trash can was close to his bed, just in case he needed to puke again and couldn‘t make it back to the bathroom in time. He was asleep before even registering that his mom had followed, making sure that he was covered and feeling his forehead again.
* * * *
Nick dreamed while he slept. A woman, at least the figure had a female shape, approached him through a moil of shifting colors, flashes of dim to blindingly bright light, and the sound of wind. Her large violet eyes bored into him with an intensity that he couldn’t bear up to, but she held his gaze as if chained to him. Flame red hair flapping in a wind he couldn’t feel framed a heart shaped face of a beauty that was inhuman as it was breathtaking. The figure said nothing, simply watched him, and he felt as if she was seeing right into him, down to the core of his being and beyond.
“Ahhh.” The vision nodded sharply with a soft, but still chilling smile while speaking in a voice that sounded of harps and birdsong. “You fear me, child? There is no need, I bring you no harm, only change. Great change and a chance that the last one I chose threw away. I would have preferred another, but you are the special one, the Thousandth of my kind to reenter the world of men. And I will be there to guide you through all the travails you will meet on the way to your destiny.”
“I am Aunghadhail, and have other names that will be made known in time.” The inhuman beauty gave him another, warmer smile as she reached out to touch his fevered face. “The change comes upon you even now, child of Man. At my touch we are bound, you and I, for eternity and beyond.”
Nick woke up screaming, and didn’t even recall the nightmare that had started him doing so.
* * * *
A look into the bathroom mirror nearly brought those memories back. His eyes had changed! Instead of the soft brown he was used to seeing, the orbs peering back at him from the mirror were a deep violet, and the shape of his eyes had altered. Now they were nearly almond shaped, and seemed much larger than he was used to seeing in the mirror.
“Mom!” He almost screamed once he had seen that.
* * * *
“I’m taking you to see Dr. Travis.” His mother firmly told Nick the next week. Not only had his eyes changed, but the whole shape of his face had followed. Going from the squarish oval he had gotten used to seeing in the mirror to a near heart shape. Plus his facial features had become finer and more, well, feminine.
Worse, his body seemed to be following suit. It had slimmed down, not that he had ever been even close to jock material, with a noticeable widening of the hips proportionately to the rest of his body and the beginnings of what had to be small breasts on his thin chest.
“Ok, mom.” Nick was past arguing about much of anything after the past week. He hadn’t been sleeping well, and when he did, the sleep was filled with really weird dreams and images. Plus, the changes in his body and face were really scaring him.
What frightened him most of all, though, was that his once mousy brown hair had thickened and turned to a bright flame red. Like an image he couldn’t quite identify, but knew better than he wished to. Every time he looked into a mirror, he saw an image that wasn’t himself, but something -- someone -- he had been seeing all too frequently in his restless dreams.
* * * *
“Well one thing I can tell you for certain,” Dr. Martin Travis told the worried mother and frightened boy. “From your description of what is going on I did some quick research and came to the tentative conclusion that Nick is a mutant, and showing the typical changes that hit such people at puberty. The distinctive eye color is a trademark of the mutations humans go through.”
“A mutant?” Nick’s mother questioned, not in fear, but in concern. “What kind of Mutant?”
“It’s really too early to tell that with any accuracy.” Dr. Travis answered slowly. “And I’m not really qualified to administer all the proper tests that would be required to discover what, exactly, this whole thing might entail. We need to send to him to experts in the field in order to find out much of anything beyond the obvious physical changes that I‘ve noted in this examination.”
“Are you sure about this?” Mrs. Reilly questioned, though from the tone of her voice and expression on her lovely face, she already knew the answer to that one.
“Very sure, Lucy.” Dr. Travis let out a long sigh. “And so are you, if you’d just let yourself admit it. Look at him, look closely, and tell me what you see.”
“My son.” Lucinda Reilly answered firmly, then added. “Who is changing into someone else in front of my eyes.”
“That’s right.” Dr. Travis nodded with a sad look. “I’ve been your personal physician since before you were married, Lucy. And I’ve watched Nick grow from a fairly boisterous infant into the intelligent young man he was up to a week or so ago. Now I’m seeing him grow into something else altogether and without proper testing or evaluation, it may be fatal to him. You do understand that don’t you?”
“Yes, I do, Martin.” Lucy replied with a heavy sigh. “Do you know of anyone in the area here who might be able to evaluate Nick?”
“I can find out by tomorrow.” Dr. Travis answered, then gave the boy another long look. “There is one more thing that should be fairly obvious in this change, too.”
“What?” Nick asked, though the itching in his chest, and other changes that had already become very evident made that question almost needless. “I’m turning into a girl, right?”
“Well, in a word, yes.” The doctor nodded with a grimace. “Your blood work came back with a fairly normal hormone level -- for a thirteen year old girl -- sex changes aren’t all that common in mutations as I understand it, but they do happen. Given the rate of change in your appearance over the past week or so, I’d say that you’ll look completely like a teenaged girl within several months, and would likely become fully female as early as age sixteen or seventeen. I can’t be sure of all that without running more tests, which I recommend, but that is my best guess based on what I’ve seen and on your development so far.”
“Great, just great.” Nick grumbled then let out a shuddering sigh of his own. “But I don’t WANT to be a girl.”
“I don’t think you have a lot of choice here, Nick.” Dr. Travis gently told him. “In the cases I looked up that involve changes of sex -- only a few, I didn’t have time for any real in depth study of the phenomenon -- not one of the cases responded at all to hormone therapy to restore either the loss of masculine or feminine traits the mutation triggers.
“Well if it has to be, I suppose we may as well make the best of things, right Nick?” His mother said with a shake of her head and a small smile. “I’ll be here to help you adjust all I can, I promise.”
“Oh, that really makes me feel better about all this.” The boy grumped, crossing his arms across his chest and immediately dropping them as he encountered an unaccustomed softness there. Also, he knew from experience how his mother was when she decided that something was going to happen. Woe to anyone or anything, including forces of nature, that dared to oppose her once her mind was made up about something.
“I’ll make some calls and get back to you by tomorrow with the referrals to the specialists, Lucy.” Dr. Travis gave Nick’s shoulder an encouraging pat. “We’ll get your problems figured out and find a way for you to deal with them in everyday life, Nick. That’s a promise from me.”
“What’s Dad going to say about this?” Nick questioned no one in particular. “I can pretty well make book on the fact that he isn’t going to be happy when he hears that his oldest son is going to be his daughter pretty soon.”
“You leave your Father to me.” Lucy gave him a hug. “He’ll come around to the idea eventually. It’s not as if this is your fault, dear.”
“That one I’ll let you take.”
“I just want to make sure that you get the best testing and whatever else you need to become well adjusted to what you’re going to be in the future.”
“Umm, Dr. Travis?” Nick looked at the physician. “Would any of those specialists maybe be a shrink or something? I’ve got the feeling I’m going to need one really badly here, and soon.”
“Counseling will come with the rest of the evaluation procedures, yes.” The doctor gave Nick a long, searching look. “Is there something you would like to tell me now? Anything you’re feeling that is giving you problems? It could help a lot when I call to get your referrals set up.”
“Well...” Nick hesitated for a moment, worry clearly showing in his face and now very expressive violet eyes. “Not something I feel so much as hear. Everything around me has this low buzz, or makes a sound of some kind. It’s driving me nuts, I can’t even get a decent night’s sleep with all of it.”
“Ummm, yeah. Everything.” Nick waved at their surroundings. “I hear the walls, the floor, all the stuff in here, in fact. And don’t even get me around a lot of plants and stuff. If I’m not crazy now, all that is going to make me that way. Plugging my ears and closing my eyes doesn’t help at all; I still hear the stuff.”
“Is it causing you any pain, or giving you anything other than the mental anguish you’ve described to me here?”
“No, not really, it doesn’t seem to be connected to my ears at all. It’s all in my head, like my brain is some kind of super radio receiver or something.”
“Do you hear other people in your head?”
“No, just things, plants, animals, stuff like that, but no, no people.” Nick decided that telling the doctor and his mother about the strange red haired woman he had seen the first day, and still heard off and on, wouldn’t be a very wise thing to do if he wished to remain reasonably free and not locked up in some loony ward.
“I’ll get you something to help with that a little.” Dr. Travis nodded while scribbling something on a prescription pad. “That information will also make the preliminary evaluations by the specialists much more helpful for you. Is there anything else you can tell me about what’s happening to you now?”
“Well, yeah, I suppose, but you’ll probably think I’ve already gone around the bend to the left field bleachers and kept on going once I got there.”
“I don’t think that is going to happen to you, Nick.” The doctor said quietly. “What else are you experiencing with this change?”
“I see lines.” The boy shook his head as if at a loss to describe what he was seeing any better. “On the ground in places, running from one thing to another, and I can sort of feel them too. Like a string someone plucks, you know.”
“Hmm. I can see that we need to get you into that evaluation as soon as possible.” Dr. Travis nodded. “Is that interfering with your normal vision at all?”
“No, it’s just kind of like faint colors laid over everything I see.”
“All right. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?”
“No, that’s all.”
“Ok, I’ll get on those referrals right away, then.” Travis handed the prescription form to Lucy. “Get that filled at the pharmacy here in the building, and have him take one right away, it‘s a very mild sedative is all. He may get a little sleepy with it at first, but at least it ought to help him rest properly for a change.”
Nick had a hard time with even thinking about what was happening to him for the rest of the day, and night that for once wasn’t filled with restless dreams.
Not that he didn’t worry about what the doctor had told him, or actively worked at NOT thinking about his now uncertain future. The boy was still in more than a little shock over what had been confirmed during his doctor’s appointment, and shied away from what it all meant. As if trying to ignore it all would just make it go away. But that didn’t last long, Nick was too intelligent to just let it go on it’s own and really didn’t want any MORE surprises involved with his mutation than absolutely necessary.
So, what kind of mutant was he becoming? And why did the mutation insist that he become a girl?
And the most often asked question of teenagers through all time... “Why ME?”
There just weren’t any answers to those questions yet, and Nick needed a way to deal with them SOON. Before worrying about them drove him nuts.
“Well, I suppose I have to do this.” he muttered, moving towards the bathroom to wash the night’s sleep out of his eyes and brush his teeth. “Wonder what I look like this morning.”
He really did his best not to look squarely into the mirror over the sink, washed his face with closed eyes (with the excuse of not wanting to get soap in them) and tried brushing his teeth the same way. It didn’t work out too well. Finally, giving in to morbid curiosity, and necessity, he slowly opened his eyes.
“Awww, maaan.” His face had changed more overnight. The violet eyes had enlarged, not really all that much, but he was certain they had, and now possessed a definite upward tilt at the outside corners. There was no epicanthic fold, as in the eyes of an Asian; these were actually tilted a bit in his skull. His chin had definitely narrowed, giving his face a distinct heart shape instead of the oval it had been the day before... With his thicker, actually shining, flame red hair framing his face as it did he showed a delicacy of feature that could never be taken for a male’s face even with a beard and crew cut. Especially set atop his slimmer neck that had lost all traces of the nascent Adams Apple he had been showing only days earlier. In spite of the short hair, the image in the mirror already just about screamed girl! in his mind and he knew how his classmates would see it with a shudder.
“God, I can’t just can’t face the world like this. How am I going to show this face to the kids and teachers at school? Or anyone else who knows me?”
In the kitchen, Lucy took a look at her son’s downcast face and closed her eyes, privately asking any Powers That Be why they were putting her boy through such a painful experience. Outwardly she remained calm and almost cheerful even if inside she wished she could scream her own anguish for her child.
“Morning, honey.” She said while being very careful not to stare at the lovely, but inhuman face her son now wore, or the way his clothing seemed to drape in slightly oversized folds over his form. “Did you sleep well last night?”
“I guess so.” Nick nodded tiredly. “That stuff Doc Travis prescribed for me puts me out like a switch was thrown. No bad dreams, no waking up in the middle of the night with more twinges and pains...”
“But what?” He asked with a little frown that she didn’t dare tell him was really cute. “Mom! I’m only turning into a FREAKING girl right in front of your eyes and the changes are worse every time I look in a mirror. And the girl I’m starting to see is a babe! But I don’t think she’s even human from the way she looks. Why in the world would a little something like THAT ever bother me?”
“I know it has to be hard on you, dear.” Lucy moved to give her son a tight hug. “But there isn’t much of anything we can do about it from what I’ve been told, other than to make the best of it and get you through it with a minimum of difficulty.”
“Hard?” he fought back tears, something he hadn’t had to do since he was seven and his Dad and brother had moved to Cleveland after the separation agreement had been reached prior to the divorce. “I wasn’t the biggest, most buff guy around, or any kind of a jock, but I was starting to get some size and bulk at last. Then this happens to me. I don’t think I can take it. I’m a guy, Mom! I don’t want to be a girl!”
“Well there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do to stop that from happening honey.” Lucy tried to soothe the upset boy as best she could. “Being a girl isn’t such a bad thing, really. I’ve gotten along just fine as one all my life.”
“Yeah, but you were born that way.” Nick sullenly answered.
“Well, there is that.” Lucy said quietly, then stared into his startling violet eyes for a moment with determination in her own. “But you are just going to need to adjust to the idea of being one yourself. You were never a whiner, Nick, and even though this attitude you have is understandable, it needs to stop. I’ll help you every way I can, either personally, or through others. You have to help me help you, though or none of it will do any good, okay?”
“Sure Mom.” His answer was far from enthusiastic, or even close to convinced.
“I know you’re worried, honey, so am I.” His mother said as she gathered him into a hug. “We’ll get through this one too. I promise.”
“How?” his voice broke for a moment and the shine of tears filled his eyes.
“One step at a time, honey.” She whispered into his ear, noting with a small thrill of fear that it came to a small point at the top. “We’ll just have to handle things as they come up then move on.”
* * * *
“Mooommm!” Nick protested once he saw the garment she was holding out to him. “I’m still a guy! I can’t wear that thing! I’d never be able to show my face in public if I did.
“You need it Nick.” Lucy Reilly insisted as she held out the nylon bra she had purchased earlier in the day. “Otherwise you’re going to jiggle and shake all the time, and people will really notice that you’re growing breasts. Now, come on and let’s see how this fits you.”
“Oh, all riiight.” Nick hung his head, then glanced at the other package his mother hadn’t opened yet. “But do I really have to wear panties, too?”
“Have a look for yourself.” His mother answered while pointing to the full length mirror hanging in her bedroom where she had pulled him for this fitting. “I think they’d be a lot more comfortable for you, at least physically. Just try these things, would you?”
Giving a reluctant look into the mirror, Nick again saw his small breasts rather prominently showing through his thin T-shirt, especially the arrogantly pert nipples that tipped them. The breast weren’t huge by any stretch of the imagination, an A cup if that much according to his mom, but they did a lot of shifting, bouncing, and other uncomfortable things whenever he moved. “Oh all right, but I still don’t like it.”
“You’ll get used to it.”
“That’s what worries me.”
“Now quit fidgeting and get that shirt off so we can get this on you.”
“Okay, okay. Just give me a minute here, this is really embarrassing you know.”
“A first bra is almost always embarrassing dear.” His mother said with a small smile. “I remember how mortified I was when my mother had me wear one for the first time. And don’t start with that ‘But you were a girl’ stuff either. You need this, and I won’t have a child of mine flopping around like some teenaged hooker everywhere she -- umm, he goes. Now get with it.”
As the bra touched his skin, he felt a distinct crawling sensation, that gradually grew into an itch. “This doesn’t feel too good, mom.”
“I imagine it is kind of strange for a first time.” Lucy soothed.
“No, I mean it really itches!” Nick squirmed uncomfortably as the itch grew, and began to scratch his shoulders where the straps went.
“Don‘t be such a baby about it, Nick.”
“Its bad, mom. Really!” Nick told her with tears starting to form in his eyes. For once he didn’t get upset about that. “It feels like I’m being burned here! Honest!”
“Let me see -- Oh, dear. Take it off, hon, and I’ll give Dr. Travis a call.”
It turned out that he was allergic to synthetics. All except plastics for some reason. So wearing nylon and Lycra was definitely something he wouldn’t be doing at all in the future. Though that gave him only a short respite from the lingerie. Following careful experimentation he had a selection of silk, satin, and pure cotton underwear in his drawers. Underwear that his mother not only expected him to wear, but insisted on.
Trying to handle a cast iron skillet was an equal disaster. Another allergic reaction, but this one gave him something like a mild burn when he held it. Steel was okay, as were other metals, even if they contained iron. But plain iron was added to the list of things Nick wasn’t able to touch.
* * * *
Nick Stood outside the doors leading into his High school and just stared for a few seconds before working up the nerve to enter. He hadn’t been to classes at all for the past week or so, and really wasn’t going back yet, but needed to pick up his assignments, and have a new student ID card done since his appearance had changed so drastically.
It wasn’t something he either wanted to do or was at all looking forward to. But his psychologist, Dr. Elaine Redmond had just about insisted that he at least do that much, as a way to face up to the changes he was going through. Fortunately, the physical changes had slowed their pace enough that he wasn’t changing into someone unrecognizable on a daily basis any longer. Unfortunately, they were still happening, just in places where most people wouldn’t see them.
The silk bra and panties he was wearing made him even more self conscious, though with the dark shirt and sweater he was wearing no one should notice those necessary additions to his underwear drawer. The bra because his breasts, though still small at an A cup, were large enough to be uncomfortable if he didn’t wear one. The panties just fit his slightly altered shape below his narrowed waist better than the boy’s briefs he had worn before all the changes set in.
He’d initially protested about the lingerie, loudly, until getting a look at himself in a shirt without a bra, and feeling how uncomfortably his old briefs and boxers sat around his hips and bottom. With a shudder he also idly scratched a still red welt across his shoulder that had come from trying a nylon bra first. That had been an absolute disaster.
He got a few curious looks while walking towards the office, and was sure some of the guys were actually checking him out. Closing his eyes for a moment, he steeled himself, then pulled open the office door to enter.
“Can I help you, miss?” The secretary asked as he hesitantly went up to the desk.
“Yes, I’m here to pick up the assignments for Nick Reilly, and to have a new photo ID made up for when I come back to class.”
She did a slight double take, then to her credit nodded while turning to collect a pile of papers. “Your mother and doctor contacted us about the changes you were going through, Nick. I have to admit, though, what they told us didn’t prepare me for actually seeing you. Sorry for the staring.”
“I’m kind of getting used to it by now.” Nick answered with a nervous grin. “But only just. It’s still a shock for me to look in a mirror and see this.”
“I suppose it would be.” The secretary answered sympathetically. “Would you like for someone to go get your books from your locker wile I get the photo for your new ID taken?”
“No, I can do it. But thanks for the offer. My psychologist says I need to start facing the different things my changes are going to cause when I interact with other people, and this is one of my assignments from her to do that.”
“Well, I hope this turns out okay for you, dea.. Umm Nick.”
“Me too, and thanks.” Nick glanced around the office and moved towards the area where the background and camera for the IDs waited and seated himself on the small stool. “I’m ready, I guess.“
“You look fine.“ The secretary, he remembered that her name was Mrs. Kent, assured him while getting the camera set up. “All right then, smile for the camera, hon.“
Nick did, and tried to not frown when he realized Mrs. Kent was talking to him as if he was a teenaged girl instead of a guy. He shrugged inwardly while thinking unhappily, May as well get used to it, HON. You’re going to BE a girl soon enough if Dr. Travis is right.
A few minutes later he left the office with a wave he forced to be cheerful, his new student ID and class assignments list in hand.
His hearing had improved a lot through the changes, and he faintly heard the woman letting out a sigh and saying. “Poor kid. He really looks more like a girl than a boy, and he makes a really pretty one, too.”
“Gee, thanks.” He muttered while making his way to his locker. “Like I really needed to hear that.”
Since it was during classes, he managed to retrieve his books, and the other things he would need to complete his class work without running into too many other students.
What Kind of Name is Leon for a Wizard?
On his way back to the car where his mother was waiting to take him to the appointment with a wizard, of all things, Nick again noticed how the boys hanging out around the school were staring at him. Their expressions held more than simple curiosity, and the boy started sensing things about his watchers.
Every one of them, older boys, was staring at him and feeling... Well broadcasting desire, and even worse emotions in his direction. Nick shuddered at the sudden onslaught, and nearly staggered from the impact. They all wanted him, with the hunger a boy shows for a pretty girl he sees. He was sure enough of that simply because he’d felt much the same things while watching a pretty girl before his changes took him way too close to the other side of the gender fence for comfort.
Stopping in near mid-stride, he glared at the offending boys for a moment, only to get another, stronger dose of the raw emotion he’d felt earlier coming from them.
Just as he was about to turn and run for the car, a soft but powerful voice in his head said. Enough of this! I will not be gaped at like some half-breed cross between a shellycoat and Ban Sidhe! How DARE they demean me and my host in such a manner?
Something directed Nick to reach out with his mind to grasp the faint lines he saw running just about everywhere, and he began weaving them together into something entirely different than what they had been. Something that was to be aimed at the offending boys.
“Ugghh!” The sound worked its way out of his mouth, more shocked surprise than pain, since the experience was far from painful. In fact it was wonderful. Nick felt like he was brimming over with energy, and actually felt better than he had in weeks. Then realized that he was doing something really strange, and something he’d never thought of before the unsettling changes had started in and brought that strange, softly lilting voice with them. The threads of Magic, for he knew that was what the things he was weaving were, unraveled.
But didn’t go away. Instead, they coalesced into small balls of purple fur with ridiculous looking chicken legs and feet. The things hit the ground running, scattered, and incidentally managed to run over the boys who had been staring and broadcasting such powerfully raw emotions his way.
The boys ran, as any halfway bright person would have done seeing those silly purple balls of fur open incredibly huge mouths filled with jagged teeth aimed in their directions.
Skittering after them, the now gnashing teethed balls of fur suddenly stopped their near manic pursuit, hesitated a moment, then disappeared in small puffs of purple smoke.
“What were those things Nick?” His mother reached him and stopped in front of him with an amazed, half fearful expression on her face.
“I don’t know.” Bemused, the boy could only shrug. “I was feeling things from all those boys, and getting really upset about it.”
“Feeling, feeling what?”
“I don’t know, desire, lust, wanting me.” Nick shuddered at the memory. “Then something inside of me reached out and grabbed those lines I’ve told you I can see.”
“You caused those, those things to show up?”
“Uhh, I think so.” Was all the answer he could manage at the time. “I lost my grip on the lines and then they showed up.”
“Oh, Nick.” Lucy hugged her shaking son, then led him back to the car. “Maybe seeing this wizard isn’t such a bad idea after all.”
“After this I kind of think it would be a good idea, Mom.”
“Then let’s get over there.” His mother began hustling him away from the schoolyard and gathering of staring, whispering students who had seen the incident. “The sooner the better.”
“Yeah.” Nick nodded wincing as an internal sense of satisfaction filled him, accompanied by that voice that was his, but not him. Not bad for a first time. Not bad at all.
* * * *
“Are you sure this is the right address?” Nick questioned while giving a very dubious look at the very mundane ranch style house with its well tended lawn and shrubs. “It sure isn’t my idea of where a wizard would live.”
“What?” A rich tenor voice reached him as a totally unremarkable looking man in appearing to be in his early thirties walked easily out to the car. “You were expecting a dark tower in some forbidding forest or on a mountain top?”
“I don’t really know. I never met a wizard before.” Nick said quietly in response.
“Well, that’s a good start.” The man smiled and waved towards the house. “My name is Leon Maynard, I’m the wizard you’re supposed to see. If you’re Nick Reilly, that is.”
“I am.” Nick answered, then stopped as the man grinned while holding up a hand to stop the next question before it came out of the boy’s mouth.
“Before you ask, my name is Leon, I like that name, I’m used to it, and that’s that.” The guy grinned. “Satisfied?”
“Umm, yeah, I guess so.” Nick found himself smiling back. “Are you a mind reader or something?”
“Not really.” Leon grinned. “I just get asked that question a lot. Actually I’m what people call a diviner. I look at things, or people, and am able to tell them what they are, what they do, and what they might be able to do.”
“Oh.” Nick wasn’t sure he really understood, but nodded anyway. “Okay.”
“Come on in to my office.” Leon gestured towards a door in the side of the house. “And we’ll get started on figuring you out, kid.”
“Can my Mom come too?” Nick questioned watching his mother take in the conversation with a concerned expression on her face. “She’s awfully worried about me, and I just did something a little while ago that has us both kind of up in the air right now.”
“Of course your mother is welcome, Nick.” Leon nodded while giving Lucy a pleasant smile. “In fact, I would have insisted on her being with us anyway. Now what is this about you doing something? Never mind, tell me once we get inside and I can get my books, computer, and other stuff working on the problem.”
Once inside the man’s office, which looked pretty much like any other office a slightly disappointed Nick noted, he went back over how things had changed for him over the past weeks, finishing up with the incident in the school yard earlier that day.
“Well, to begin with.” The Wizard picked up an intricately carved stick and held it in front of Nick. “This is a divining rod, of sorts. It will help me find out a little more about you, the mutation you’re going through, and give me a rough idea of where to look for more information. Do you mind if I check you with it?”
“That’s what I came here for, isn’t it?” Nick grumbled as he gave the rod a wary look. “Go ahead, I don’t mind.”
“It’s the nature of the magic, Nick.” Leon replied with a smile. “I have to have your permission to look at things as closely as I need to here. Otherwise the results might be skewed a little, or completely wrong. I also need your permission, Mrs. Reilly, for it to work the way it really should.”
“You have it, Mr. Maynard.” Lucy agreed with a wan smile. “Just please find out what’s happening to and with my boy. That’s all I ask.”
“Call me Leon.” The wizard nodded as he closed his eyes and began making passes in the air around, and over Nick. “Ummm, this is interesting.”
“What?” Lucy gave her son, and the still entranced wizard a worried look. Interesting when connected to Nick or what was happening to him was a word that made her nervous by then.
“Just a minute, nothing to really worry yourself about...” Leon waved the question aside while passing the rod in an outline around Nick. “I’ll have it in another few seconds... Ahh! Got the basics here now.”
“Umm, what did you find out?” Nick questioned anxiously. An emotion mirrored in his mother’s pretty face.
“Well for starters, even though from your appearance it may seem obvious, you’re mutating into a Faerie type, definitely one of the Higher orders of The Sidhe, I would think, just from the way your features are shaping up.”
“I’m turning into a Fairy?” Nick grimaced at the thought. “Like Tinkerbelle?”
“Definitely NOT like Tinkerbelle, Nick.” Leon gave the boy an encouraging smile. “I said Faerie F A E R I E. Magically powerful beings who are thought to have once ruled a large part of the world.”
“Oh, you mean like the Elves in Tolkien? The Lord of The Rings?” Nick asked with some interest.
“Not exactly.” Leon put the carved rod down and moved to his computer. “The Sidhe were powerful, but not all that friendly with humanity. Oh there was more than a little interaction, but the human ability to breed so fast unnerved the Sidhe. So they tended to keep their distance from humans when possible. When it wasn’t, they would either help or harm, depending upon their mood at the time. Sometimes they managed to do things that accomplished both at once.”
“So how does that affect Nick?” Lucy asked point blank.
“That’s what I’m working out now.” Leon absently replied while bringing up window after window on his screen. “Now this is interesting.”
“Umm, not to seem like I’m ungrateful or anything...” Nick put in quietly, then raised his voice slightly. “But do you think you could be a little more specific about interesting? I’m starting to really hate that word lately.”
“Well for one thing, Nick, you appear to be the one thousandth Faerie mutant recorded in modern history. For that purpose, modern history runs from around the early sixteen hundreds to now.”
“So what does that mean?”
“I don’t really know.” Leon shrugged apologetically. “Just that it was considered to be an important number and milestone for the Race of Faerie in our time.”
“I’m a milestone?”
“Your coming is supposed to be.” Leon nodded with a half smile. “It may have nothing to do with you personally beyond that. One Thousand was thought to have been a rather special number by the ancient Celts, who were the tribe of Humanity closest to the Sidhe. The number was important to the Sidhe themselves according to legends passed down from the times when they were more numerous.”
“I understand. I think.” Nick drew in a breath, then asked. “But why am I turning into a girl?”
“Well, Nick, and Mrs. Reilly.” Leon reached into an open drawer of his desk to remove a sheaf of printed papers that he handed to Nick. “Each mutation that comes has what is called a Template -- a design for the body it needs to hold it. That handout I just gave you Nick explains it in more detail, and you can go over it as much and as slowly as you need to. Evidently, in your case, the mutation has a female template, so your body is becoming more female the further this mutation progresses.”
“Is there a way to change this thing, this template so I don’t change into a girl?”
“No one has been able to do that yet, Nick.” The wizard shook his head. “I wouldn’t rule out the possibility completely, there are always new abilities appearing, but any attempts to do that so far have failed. More than a few of them in what are called catastrophic failures, meaning the person died. So I wouldn’t advise trying it.
“Wow.” Nick said. “Either I die of embarrassment, or from trying to change this stupid template thing that’s turning me into a girl. Wonderful.”
“That sums it up as neatly as I’ve ever heard it.” Leon chuckled at the boy‘s acerbic response, then gave Nick a sympathetic look. “On the plus side, Faerie types are generally very robust. Meaning that they are seldom if ever ill, and their life spans are very long. So you’ll be looking at a long, healthy lifetime.”
“As a female.”
“Afraid so, Nick.” The man agreed with a shrug. “As a rule, the template helps the person it is changing to adjust, so in time you’ll get used to it.”
“Oh, now that’s encouraging.” Nick replied. “I’m turning into a female here, and one that I think is going to look pretty good, but that’s okay because I’ll get USED to it. Plus from what you say I‘ll have a LONG time to get used to it.”
“Just how long could he live?” Lucy Reilly questioned, mostly to deflect the direction her son’s responses were heading.
“Well, the oldest Faerie type recorded since these things were kept track of changed in 1695 and is still alive, healthy, and showing no visible signs of aging today.”
“Oh my god...” Lucy trailed off, turning a bit pale herself while Nick looked like he was swallowing something lumpy and full of sharp edges in his throat.
“The handout I gave you there gives you a list of reference materials, books, articles, things like that which should give you at least a basic idea of what this mutation means to Nick, and what exactly the Sidhe were in the distant past and are in the present. I’d strongly suggest that you get at least some of those on the list and read them. There is a lot of documentation on Faerie types in general, and more speculation. The definitive texts are underlined in green, the iffy ones in yellow, and the purely speculative ones in red.”
Nick silently handed the papers to his mother then asked. “Ok, I’ll have to deal with whatever happens with this template, I understand that all right. But WHAT is it that I do?”
“Why don’t you explain to me what exactly you’ve been feeling, seeing and hearing since you began changing?” Leon suggested. “I’ll likely be able to tell you more after hearing that.”
Nick drew in a breath then detailed everything he could think of, up to and including the purple fur balls he had seemingly brought out of nowhere.
“Umm hmm. Well for starters, those broad lines you see are called Ley Lines. They are connected to the magnetic fields of Earth and are generally considered to be conduits of Power for anyone who is able to see and use them.”
“Like electric wires?”
“Good analogy, far as it goes, Nick.” Leon nodded. “But with Ley lines the person who taps into them doesn’t need to be at one end or the other to get to the power, and these lines crisscross the Earth without ever really ending, so that’s a good thing. Being able to see them is a pretty normal ability for Faerie Type mutants. The ability to tap directly into them, which you seem to be able to do, isn’t. You’re a Wizard yourself, a magic user if you want to call it that.”
“Is that what happened to me at the school?” Nick asked in something like fear. “I used magic?”
“That’s exactly what happened.” Leon agreed quietly. “You drew on the Lines around you and created something from the energy you got. Then you lost your concentration, didn’t you?”
“Well, those purple balls of fur were what is called Hobgoblins. They come from uncontrolled magic, and are actually alive for as long as they last. Are you sure that all of them disappeared?”
“Yeah. I felt them go away when I saw them go up in puffs of smoke.”
“Good.” Leon grinned. “I absolutely hate chasing down loose hobgoblins. The magical energy that creates them runs out after a while, like I said, but they tend to seek out ways to last longer. They’re more of a nuisance than actually dangerous, but getting rid of a flock of them can be a real pain, believe me.”
“Ok, I’ll try not to make any more of those.” Nick promised, then grimaced. “What about these voices I hear all the time?”
“Well, that is a very good confirmation that you’re a Faerie Mage, with strong connections to the Earth. Everything you hear came out of the earth, whether it is, was at one time, or never was alive.” Seeing the confusion on the boy’s face, the wizard tapped his desk. “This desk came from a combination of trees, and ores that were all rooted into the earth at one time. They never really lose that connection, and you’re reading those connections. Those are the voices you keep hearing. I can help you shut them out, selectively, or completely, if you want.”
“If?” Nick nearly bounced out of his chair. “They’ve been driving me crazy! I have to take pills just to get a halfway decent few hours of sleep at night.”
“That isn’t good.”
“Tell me about it.” Nick grumbled.
“All right, I’ll show you a fairly simple technique to shut them out right now, and you can try it here. Ok?”
“You bet it is.” Nick fervently nodded. “That part of things is even worse than turning into a girl!”
“Then I want you to close your eyes, and try seeing the source of these voices you hear.” Leon waited while Nick did that then asked. “What do you see?”
“Colors, and little thread-like lines of stuff running away from me to things all over the place.”
“Very good. Now I want you to picture a solid silver ball around you, one that deflects all those threads. Can you do that?”
“Sure, I have the silver ball up now... Hey! The voices are GONE!”
“Try holding that ball around yourself now while you open your eyes.”
“Ok.” The boy’s eyes opened slowly, almost hesitantly, and he grinned once they were open completely. “It still works! This is great!”
“Well, it’s going to take practice to keep it up, and to be able to open little doorways to reach the threads you want, but you got the basic technique down more quickly than anyone I‘ve ever seen, Nick. Very good!” Leon actually did seem impressed with the accomplishment. “I think you’re going to be a pretty strong wizard, Nick. You need training I couldn’t give you, I know that much.”
“Where could he get that kind of training?” Lucy questioned while watching her changeling son actually appearing to be almost comfortable for the first time in weeks.
“There are several places that come to mind right off.” The wizard answered carefully. “All of them are boarding type schools that teach the gifted kids they take in how to make use of their abilities with at least some safety for themselves and the ones around them. Whateley Academy in Dunwich, New Hampshire is very highly thought of, and the first choice I’d recommend to anyone.”
“In New Hampshire?” Lucy closed her eyes. “I suppose the tuition is pretty steep there?”
“Regrettably, yes it is.” Leon shrugged, then brightened. “But they do offer full scholarships, and work programs to deserving kids. If you need it, I’m sure they’d work something out for Nick here to help defray the expenses. I went to Whateley myself, and can tell you it’s the best there is among those kinds of schools.”
“Well it is something to consider.” Lucy agreed half-heartedly. “I don’t think the expense would be much of a problem for his father, or me if we really need to send him there.”
“I’ll get you their brochures, and you can take them home with you.” The wizard gently answered, knowing that the woman was not anxious to send her child halfway across the country for schooling. “You can look them over at your leisure, and talk it over with your husband. I do stress the need for proper training for Nick’s abilities, but won’t push you into anything you don’t really feel that you want to do.”
Lucy Reilly took the offered brochures, and put them in her purse with the other information the wizard had given her. “Okay. I’ll give it serious consideration.”
“Please do that. I can’t give him the kind of training he really needs, the abilities Nick is already showing are different enough from my own that all I could do at best is be a guiding hand with suggestions that he try this or that. He needs a real teacher, Mrs. Reilly.”
“I understand.” She said quietly.
“Good. It’s never easy telling parents things like this about their children, but I have to be honest with you. Now is there anything else you’d like to talk about today?”
“Welll...” Nick nodded slowly. “I told you I can sort of know how other people are feeling, right?”
“Well right now, I get the idea that you’re sad about having to tell mom the things you did, but excited about me. Mom is worried, scared, and sad, too. What is that? Is it part of the magic?”
“No, it’s called empathic talent, and is actually a form of ESP.” Leon answered carefully while adding something to the notes he had already made. “Can you make other people feel what you do?”
“I don’t know, I never tried.”
“Would you mind trying it with me right now?”
“Ok, here goes...”
“Whoa!” Leon sat back and watched the boy with something like astonishment on his face. “I caught fear, frustration, anger, and even a little excitement of your own in that. Is that what you’re feeling, Nick?”
“Yeah, mostly. I shut it off really fast. Doing that really bothers most people, and then I catch their feelings, and...”
“No need to explain, I get the idea.” The wizard nodded. “Do you hear other people’s thoughts?”
“No, I just kind of know what they’re feeling, and can pass along what I feel to them.”
“Well, that would put you down as a receiving and projective Empath. Someone who can read the emotions of others and pass their own along.”
“Sheesh. Faerie. Girl. Wizard. Girl. Hobgoblins. Girl. Special School. Girl. Empath.” Nick counted items off on his fingers, looked up and shook his head. “This is getting complicated, you know.”
“I know.” Leon answered. “I’ll help you along as much as I can. If you’re willing to come see me at least once a week until I can’t show you any more. Would that be doable?”
“I think so.” Lucy thoughtfully nodded. “I’ll have to check with my insurance company about the fees first.”
“I’ll waive all but a token fee on this one.” Leon told her. “Money really isn’t a problem for someone who can walk down a wooded path and find valuable stuff. Which I do, and I also make a bundle on consulting. So let’s say I charge you a flat hundred dollars for this visit and not charge you for the rest of them, would that work?”
“We can afford to pay you.” Lucy responded with a little heat.
“I’m sure you can.” Leon nodded then showed a wide, almost childishly happy smile. “But to be honest, I’d do this one for free. So pay me whatever you think it’s worth, and I won’t argue, just don’t stress out your bank accounts to do it, okay?”
“Hey!” Nick stood up and glowered at both of the adults. “Did either of you think of asking me if I want to come back here every week?”
Actually the idea thrilled him. But he wasn’t about to let the grownups know that without wringing some concessions out of them.
Nicholas Reilly negotiated the crowded hallway carefully, headed for the first class of what he expected to be yet another miserable day in a life that had gone from pretty good to absolute crap in a matter of months, then back to at least halfway bearable. Most of the time. At least he could almost ignore the whispers that followed him everywhere, the laughs and giggles, and most of the taunts his fellow students threw his way. Almost.
“Hey girly boy!” Alan Hastings, and his three stooges, Frank Stodge, Les Chang, and Bobby Christian were suddenly blocking his way and showed no signs of moving. Or of letting him simply turn around and find another way to class. Alan proved that assumption true by poking Nick in his sensitive chest and announcing. “Hey freako, I’m talking to you.”
Letting out a small sigh of resignation, but for some reason determined not to be the victim that time Nick looked up at the bigger boy and quietly answered. “What? Can‘t you just let me get to class in peace?”
“Now is that any way to act when all I wanted to do was ask you a question?” Alan grinned nastily while eyeing the visible swellings at the smaller boy’s chest. “Me’n the guys were just wondering if you’d gotten out of training bras yet is all.”
There was general laughter in the hallway, and a few gasps as other students started gathering to watch the spectacle they knew was brewing and hoping something interesting would manage to happen before a teacher interrupted it.
“I don’t really think that’s any of your business, Alan.” Nick answered, reddening with anger he had been holding in check for months. “Do you think I like being this way? That I did all this to myself on purpose?”
“Do you?” Alan questioned, reaching forward to grip Nick’s shirt and pulling on it. “Like it , I mean? I bet you do, Nikki, and that you wear those weird contact lenses and dyed your hair to go with the girlie look you’ve taken to showing all the time.”
“Let go of me,” Nick told the other boy through gritted teeth as his vision went all strange. There were colors everywhere, on -- no -- in everything he could see. And lines holding those colors together or apart. Even the faint movement of the air had a hazy light blue shade that he could follow without straining. More, he had the absolute certainty and experience to know, that if he reached out -- just so -- he could not only touch those colors, but make them do things.
“Come on sweety,” Alan coaxed in a sugary voice while pulling harder at Nick’s shirt “Let us see your bra.”
Too late, Nick realized that instead of pulling him towards the larger boy, the motion was upwards and his shirt went over his head before he could do anything other than scream in outrage. The result of that was to leave his pale upper body bare, from his narrow waist to his thin chest and shoulders. Well, almost bare. The black silk bra that held the embarrassing mounds of flesh from shaking and distracting him even more than they already did was still in place. And showing an amount of cleavage with 32A cups that many girls his age in school would have envied.
Nick would have happily let any one of those girls have all of it, if he could have gotten rid of the things. But they just kept growing, and insisting on the kinds of attention a real girl’s breasts would need. Like the bra he was wearing. It was silk because nylon irritated his newly sensitive skin.
“Ohhh, pretty!” Alan jibed, staring at the exposed girlish flesh of Nick’s chest and the expanding nipples because of the cold air in the hallway. “Nice set you have there Nikki. How come you’ve been hiding them away from us? Must’ve taken a lot of hormones to get ‘em that size.”