Addergoole, year 29. Mystral sh’Aikia, Gabriele, and Luca. 2860 words.
If he was honest, he was a little concerned about Mystral.
Not much, because the vast majority of his concerns about her upbringing had gone away in her second year, when she’d finally had a Kept of her own and realized what it meant. Hearing that she had apologized to Sigruko for the way she’d acted had been an enormous weight off of Gabi’s shoulders.
Being Mystral’s primary parent had been a challenge from the beginning. He’d fully expected Aikia to keep control of her daughter – but had never imagined at as Mystral grew, she’d begin to question what her mother told her, even from such a young age. Began to question why Aikia was so vehemently against a man Myst herself had never met. And certainly wouldn’t have ever expected Aikia to show up on Gabriel’s doorstep, as it were, and say that ‘hisdaughter wanted to meet herfather.’
Then when Mystral had asked to stay, around age seven, it had utterly baffled Gabriel – and infuriated Aikia.
Mystral had always wanted to know “why”. Wanted to understand the rationale behind each move, wanted to know that if something was happening, there was a reason it did. And if the answer you gave her didn’t make any sense, she’d tell you so. Thus, the straw man argument against Gabriel never held much ground in the young girl’s eyes.
Gabi had not been shocked in the least to find out that Myst had chosen Drake as a mentor. He wouldn’t have been able to suggest a better choice if his life had depended on it. (Fionn returning cy’Luca had also not shocked him, based on parentage and attitude alone. If Fionn had been anyone but cy’Luca, he would have been surprised.)
When Myst had come home for the summer heavily pregnant, Gabi had also not been shocked. She’d had her Kept, and knew she had requirements to fulfill. She wouldn’t have wanted to wait and have them hanging over her head – and she’d already lost a year. The child was born – a little girl – and Gabi breathed a sigh of relief when Mystral took to motherhood with tenfold more grace then her mother.
But then everything had stopped.
Her third year she Kept no one. It wasn’t a mistake or oversight – she told Gabi at Christmas that she was intentionally not Keeping anyone because she wanted to put her own mind in the proper space, after what she’d learned the previous year. He’d urged her to keep in contact with her former Kept, and she said that she was.
But when she came home for Christmas her final year, still with no indication of finishing her graduation requirements, Gabriel had to talk to her.
“Mystral, can I have a word, please?” The dark haired girl looked up from her book and nodded, setting it aside.
“Is something wrong?” she asked, voice just as calm as her mother’s – hell, both of her parents’ – often was. For a fleeting second, Gabi was jealous of his daughter’s ability to be the best of both parents with so little of the bad.
“Not wrong, in so many words. I’m just concerned.”
Mystral looked confused. “Concerned by what?”
“The fact that you don’t appear as though you’re on track to graduate at the end of the year.” Mystral’s hard hardened into the classic Aikia mask, and Gabriel knew he was on the right track. “Myst, though it’s not a perfect analogy, the feeling is the same – I’m not paying for you to fail out of graduating, and certainly not when the ability to do such is well within your grasp. I have no misconceptions that your grades are not stellar.”
“I haven’t forgotten, if that’s your question, Father.” She looked at Gabriel sideways, indicating how intelligent she thought that assumption might be. “I…I simply haven’t found anyone yet that I’m willing to have a second child with.”
Gabi went to answer, but then felt the familiar tug of his innate sense of “right answers”, and found something surprising. The proper response wasn’t to talk to her about what she was looking for – it was to push for the truth of the matter. His daughter was lying, and fairly blatantly. “Myst, you’re lying.”
She looked affronted. “Why would I lie to you?”
Gabriel just glared at her. “You cannot honestly tell an empath of cy’Linden that they are mistaken about someone’s truthfulness. Be honest with me, Mystral. What’s going on?”
Myst took a breath, watched Gabi for a moment, and rephrased her sentence. “I haven’y found anyone I’d ask to father my second child.”
That was an interesting change, and the angel quickly parsed through what she was insinuating. “So you’ve found someone, but you won’t ask them?”
The faint blush that threatened to creep up on Myst’s face was answer enough. “Perhaps.”
He tried to make his response as blunt as he could manage. “Mystral, I can tell you with full confidence that there is not a single person in all of Addergoole that you cannot ask to father your child, with the possible exception of Regine.”
That made the blush worse. “I have no intention of attempting a genetic manipulation with Caitrin’s assistance to have a child with the Director, Father.”
“Then what I’m trying to tell you is that you need to talk to whomever it is that you want to have this child with, and soon. Regine’s patience is limited. Who is it?”
“I don’t that that’s relevant to you.” She wanted to fight the issue.
“Why not? I’m your father.”
“I’ve told you, it’s not someone that I can ask.”
“So it’s a professor.”
Myst was mortified – supposedly. “I never said that.”
“No, but I know you and your mother and myself well enough to make an educated guess. Which one?”
“Father, if it is a professor, I’m certainly not going to ask them.”
“Why not? Students regularly have relations with their professors.”
If it was possible for Mystral to be more mortified by her father, she did it then. “I doubt it’s a regular occurrence.”
“You clearly haven’t been paying attention, then. Need I remind you again that I am cy’Linden? Half of Mike’s cy’ree – no, most – no, all save one or two of his cy’ree has slept with him.”
She eyed her father warily. “Including you?”
“Yes.” Gabriel didn’t miss a beat. “Yes, Mystral – I’m sorry if it ruins your world view, but I’ve slept with your literature teacher on more than one occasion.”
“I don’t know what to do with that information.”
“That depends on if your professorial crush is Mike or not.”
She shook her head. “I’m not interested in Vanderlinden.”
“Then I can narrow from there. It’s not a teacher you’d expect to be willing, and it’s not a female because it wouldn’t occur to you that you could have a child with one of the women. I can’t see Fridmar as your type, and also, he’s your mother’s Mentor. I can’t see any reason why you’d have met Akinobu, nor Akatil. I suppose it’s certainly possible that you’re interested in your own Mentor…” Mystral shot him a look. “But, from that reaction, I can rule him out. You know too well that Solomon is involved to some variety with your aunt Nyx, so while you know he’d sleep with a student, you wouldn’t ask him for reasons beyond propriety. And thus, I am left with only two people – either as likely as the other. So it’s either Luke or Doug. Ironic, attraction to this family must run in my genetics.”
Mystral flushed. “I didn’t say any of that.”
“But is it true?” She didn’t respond. “Then it is one of the two. Given that it’s well known in student circles that Doug sleeps with the vast majority of his cy’ree, I’ll have to assume that it’s Luke.” She didn’t respond again. “Mystral, why in the world would you think that you couldn’t ask Luke?”
“Do you know Luke?”
“Short, usually in a foul mood, big dragon wings, somewhat ruggedly good looking, teaches physical education? Yes, I know him.” Gabriel leaned against the wall behind him. “And what I’m telling you is that you’re mistaken. Tell me, Mystral. Name the top three values that Luke considers in the highest regard.”
She thought for a moment, and then finally came up with a decision. “Discipline, trust, and responsibility.”
“Yes. Taking responsibility for yourself and your actions is one of the top things that Luke believes in. Thus, if a student in her final year is failing to live up to her final responsibility to the school and have her final child, and she came to Luke asking if he would be willing to help her, what logic is there for him to say no?”
To that, she hesitated. “I…um.”
“You have no argument, Mystral. And besides – out of all the professors, Luke is the one that tries to cultivate a ‘friendly’ persona the least. He is who he is, and he knows that this doesn’t make him the most popular person on campus, as it were. The fact that an attractive young student has singled him out will probably flatter him.” Gabriel crossed his arms and stared down his daughter. “Now. I want you to promise me that you’ll talk to Luke when you return to school. I want your solemn promise.”
Mystral sighed, unable to keep up her argument. “When I return to Addergoole after the holiday, I promise that I will speak to Luke.” She paused, and Gabriel gave her a stern look, prompting more. “About the possibility of him helping me to complete my graduation requirements.” Another pause, and she finished. “Within the first two weeks of my return.”
“Thank you.” He gave her a gentle hug.
It wasn’t until the fourteenth day that the promise dragged her to Luke after class. “Sir?” Luke looked over at her as the pulled her hair up after class. “After my meeting with Drake, can I speak with you?”
Luke blinked, but nodded. “Sure. I’ll be here.”
Mystral nodded, and then promptly had an incredible amount of trouble focusing on anything else for the rest of the day. Luckily enough, Drake didn’t seem to mind it, and was managing to work around her distraction. Once the meeting was over, her feet dragged her back to the gym, where she stood outside the door for a moment.
It’s just a conversation, Mystral. You’ve managed to learn to summon rain clouds, and you can light things on fire with your mind. You can talk to your gym teacher about graduation.
She took a breath and walked in, going over to Luke’s office. For a fleeting moment, she realized that it seemed that all of the serious conversations in her life happened in the gym. She tapped on the door, and at the short return, stepped in.
“Mystral. What can I do for you?” He was standing, looking at something but turned his attention to her as she walked in.
She paused, collecting her thoughts before the spoke. “I’m not sure if it’s obvious, but…this is my final year of school and I haven’t yet fulfilled my final graduation requirement.”
“It is rather obvious, yes.”
She could feel her face heat up as she blushed. “I… I’ve been having…trouble finding anyone I’d care to…negotiate that with. And…” Her voice gave out, and she hoped that he’d take the hint.
Of course, he didn’t. “Nobody meet your standards?”
She sighed inwardly. “Well, I’d thought…but…” She coughed, her face burning brighter. “I was wondering if…you…might be willing to help me. Graduate.”
“Aah.” His expression didn’t change much, as he studied her gravely. “Why me?”
Myst’s mind went utterly blank as she attempted to come up with a response to that. “I…” She blinked, faltering, but then gathered herself together in something resembling composure. “I’ve been raised by empaths, sir. If I knew how to rationalize attraction or any other emotion, I’d be a much happier person.”
He chuckled gently, and she could feel a weight leave her chest. “All right, that’s fair,” he allowed.
In a desperate attempt to keep her composure, she tried to continue the conversation. “So…I’ve been told the usual student-to-teacher relations are a bit different here…in terms of this, but…I don’t know anyone else I’d want to ask.” She lost strength in her voice about halfway though, looking away from Luke as she spoke. It wasn’t exactly becoming of the fighter she was hoping to become, or the composed child raised by Aikia and Gabriel, but she couldn’t help it. “Would…would you be willing to help?”
Luke took a seat, gesturing to the other chair in the office. Mystral took it, trying to both watch him and not watch him at the same time. “I have conditions,” Luke commented.
She nodded. “All right. They are?”
“I want to know the child. Visit them at least twice a year. I don’t want you to poison them against me, tell them lies. And I’d like some say and input in their upbringing.”
Though she knew well enough that he wasn’t meaning it to be offensive, it struck her deeply. After spending so much of her time around her mother, and listening to what she said about her father…she couldn’t dream of doing that with a child of hers. “I’m coming to you because I like you,” she responded. “And I came from a mother that lied to me for years about my father. I couldn’t do that to any child of mine. Also, I’d very much want you to be part of the child’s life and upbringing.”
She hesitated just a moment before responding, first because she wasn’t sure what Luke was asking, and then because she knew that her father did not necessarily have the best reputation among everyone in the school. “My father? Yes, Gabriel.”
He nodded. “Under those conditions, yes. I’d be willing to father your child.”
She waited for a beat, but then allowed herself a small bashful smile. “Thank you, sir.” He smiled in return, a little more broadly than hers, and then his expression shifted into something almost bashful. “So…” She attempted to clarify again. “How…” She faltered, channeling her mother’s collected persona again, clearing her throat. “How would you like to go about this?”
“Dr. Caitrin is capable of implanting the seed, if that’s your preference.”
She wasn’t sure what his opinion on that was, but she knew what hers was – and promptly the blush came back. “I…well…” She put her arms around her torso. “Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but I was…thinking the more traditional approach.”
“I…” If she didn’t know better – and she wasn’t sure she did – it looked like Luke was blushing, just a bit. “I would not mind that.”
She’d been avoiding looking at him, but finally chanced a look up to his eyes, and managed a small smile. “I wouldn’t mind that either.” She waited a beat. “When?”
“Why don’t you come down to my apartment tonight?”
Tonight.Wow.Notwastingtime. She nodded. “Certainly. Any particular time?”
“Say eight pm.” He’d matched her smile, and she couldn’t help but feel a certain amount of pleasure swell up in her at the fact that she’d gotten a smile from Luke.
“I’ll be there.” She smiled a bit wider, still a bit bashful. “Thank you again, sir.”
“Thank you, Mystral.”
That took her by surprise. “Why…why are you thanking me?”
“For finding me a good choice.”
“Fi…” Her blush burned deep. “I didn’t think the teachers had a choice or a requirement to meet.”
“We don’t, per se. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be flattered.” Suddenly, her father’s words came crashing back into her. Thefactthatanattractiveyoungstudenthassingledhimoutwillprobablyflatterhim. Damn him when he was right.
“………Oh.” The blush wouldn’t fade, and she bit her lip. “Well, I can’t imagine I’m the first.”
“No. But you are the first in quite a while.”
“Really?” She was absolutely speechless at that. “I…it seems so…but you’re…” She stopped herself, taking a breath and forcing herself to finish a sentence. “I’m surprised.”
“I’m old,” he reminded her.
“You’re still handsome,” she muttered under her breath.
“Thank you,” he allowed. “And I’m sure you know you’re lovely.”
She would be lying if she tried to say her stomach didn’t do a bit of a flip at that. “I may have heard a few people claim that.” She smirked a little. “But I appreciate hearing it from you.” An honest smile crept onto her lips. “Eight, then?”
“Eight,” he confirmed.
“I look forward to it.” She stood to leave – and then took fate into her own hands and leaned forward and pressed a kiss to his cheek. The broad smile he gave her in return was well worth the effort – and she grinned, and ducked out of the office.
She’d never tell her father how well it went. He’d never get over it.