I give you, Chapter Four..... Not polished, but really none of what I've put up here so far is what I'd consider polished, and ya'll haven't complained yet...
Jane got back to her apartment that evening exhausted. Meredith had quizzed them in her class, on anatomy and diseases of the respiratory system. Jane’s memory was good, but with all of the various ailments of a horse’s lungs, it was an overload.
She tossed her book bag in a corner and flopped onto the couch, breathing a sigh of relief that the day was over with. She loved being in school, and she was good at her classes, but sometimes she wished she could do everything but the riding class online. Keeping her shields up all the time was absolutely necessary in the highly-charged emotional environment of the college. So many people, feeling so many things, it was overwhelming if she let her shields slip at all.
She never wished she didn’t have her dual talents, but she often wondered what life was like for all of the people who didn’t have those odd little quirks that set her family and many of her friends apart from the majority of society. She wondered if life was easier if you couldn’t read people’s emotions, or talk to animals.
Her phone buzzed at her hip, and she groaned, but grabbed it anyway, looking at the caller ID. Seeing the name, she grinned, and answered.
“Hey, mom!” Jane propped one arm behind her head, holding the phone with her other. “What’s up?”
“Hey pumpkin, just called to give you an update on Buck. He’s settling in fine, but he still won’t stay in the pasture. He insists on being in a stall at night.” Marie Marx sounded tired, to Jane’s trained ear.
“Well, my vote is to let him go out when he feels comfortable. Just leave the door open on the stall. He’s not going to go very far from the herd, after all.”
“You’re right, and I finally got your father convinced to do just that. He thought we should lead Buck back and forth to increase his human contact, and I told him when Buck wants human contact, he’ll come get it. He’s a personable horse, he just needs time to heal.” Jane thought her mother sounded distracted, which was unusual. She was working hard with Buck, trying to help him as much as she could, without pushing.
“Ok, mom, what’s going on?”
“Nothing, pumpkin, everything is fine.”
“And I’m the Pope. Spill, you know you’re going to anyway.” Something was worrying her mother, and Jane was going to find out what it was.
“I thought you couldn’t read people over the phone!”
“I can’t, not that way, but I know you too well to miss that you’ve got something on your mind.” Jane smiled slightly. Her parents had never been able to hide their feelings from her, but her mother never stopped trying to be a mom and keep her worries from her child, anyway.
“Well, actually,” Marie sighed softly, “George is pregnant again.”
“Oh, no, mom, you aren’t listening in on the kits, are you? You know she always loses at least one of them. You’re the one that told me not to listen for them until they’re actually born!” George was a gray fox vixen that had lived under the shed at her parents’ ranch for as long as Jane could remember. No one really remembered how she’d gotten the name George, but the vixen was amused by it, and used to spend hours with Jane trying to say the name vocally. She’d gotten pretty good at it over the years, much to the amusement of Jane’s father.
They only rarely caught glimpses of George’s mate, and only once had he talked to them, when George got caught in a live trap on the neighbors land. They’d taken to calling the shy male Fred after George had made the attempt to introduce everyone.
“I can’t help it, sweetheart, I worry. Anyway, they’re just starting to really think, and everyone seems fine, except that they’re already thinking about how cramped they are. I think she’s got a big litter this time.” George normally had three or four kits to a litter, and had no problems, but gray foxes could have up to seven.
“Mom, there’s nothing we can do for her, or them. We just have to wait it out, and if it gets dangerous, try to convince her to go to the vet.” Jane knew her mother was in for heartache if she kept listening to the kits. She’d become attached to them all, and mourn the ones that were lost at birth.
A knock at the door announced Trev’s arrival, hopefully with food. “Mom, I’ve got to go, Trev is here to study. Stay out of George’s belly, ok? I’ll come down tomorrow and check on her.” Jane had always had a better record for reading pregnancies than her mother, and she could hear the babies more clearly. Her father thought it was the combination of her two talents, her mother thought it was because she’d spent so much time with the pregnant mares and cows when she was little.
“Ok, sweetheart. Thank you.” There was a little relief in Marie’s tone, and Jane felt better about her decision to go home and check on the kits. If it would ease her mother’s mind, it was well worth the drive.
“I love you, Mom, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“I love you too, pumpkin.” Jane ended the call as she pulled the door open to see Trev holding up two bags of take-out Chinese food in one hand, and a stack of papers in the other.
“Take these to your dad when you go tomorrow.” Trev handed her the papers and made a beeline for her kitchen, getting plates and silverware.
“Hi to you too,” Jane said as she glanced through the papers, “what are these?”
Trev turned from unloading the bags, a fork in one hand and an open container of fried rice in the other. “Flashes. I don’t know what they all add up to, but your dad asked me to write down all the bad stuff I get flashes of. I think he’s trying to find a way to make precog more useful, by collecting the bits and pieces we get that never make sense until after the fact, and putting them all together.”
“That’s actually a pretty smart idea. You fortune tellers never seem to see the whole picture until it’s too late, or nearly too late. If you’re not all seeing the same snippets, maybe they can be pieced together into something resembling a clue.” Jane laid the papers down on the coffee table and joined Trev in the kitchen, loading her plate with her favorites before sitting down at her tiny table.
“That seems to be the idea.” Trev sat next to her and started digging into his plate full of food.
“So who is trying to piece all of the information together? That’s gotta be a big job, there’s what, fifteen people with precog in the area?”
“Eighteen. My mom found a set of twins that just came into their talent last week. They’re only fourteen, but she says they’re strong.”
“But who’s the poor schmuck who has to go through all of that?” Jane stuffed a bite of broccoli beef into her mouth, savoring the rich flavor and feeling some of her tension ease away at the comfort of having her best friend with her. She could always count on Trev to know what she needed, sometimes before she did. They’d been friends for so long that they didn’t even bother finishing each other’s sentences anymore.
“Um. Your dad’s been doing it, but he’s going to ask you to take over this weekend. He wants to get the next two books out, before the conclave. It’s the empaths’ turn to finance it, remember?” The supe community took turns hosting the major event so that no one had too much of a financial burden. Jane’s father contributed the most to the fund for the empaths, because he had the most income.
Jane stopped chewing and stared at Trev. She swallowed hastily and glared at him across the table, “You couldn’t have given me a little more warning on this?” She couldn’t take on any more responsibilities, she was swamped!
“I only got it this afternoon. I think he hadn’t made up his mind that he couldn’t do it himself until he got the stack from the two new girls.” Trev looked sheepish. He tried to warn her of the big things that he saw that would impact her, but he didn’t always see everything.
Jane sighed, “It’s ok, I’ll find some way to do it.”
“You always do,” Trev said around a mouthful of eggroll. “Anyway, what class do you have a test to study for?”
They finished their meal, and broke out the books. The evening was full of quizzing each other back and forth, and laughter. It wasn’t the first time they’d studied together, and they had their routine down. When Trev finally left Jane was still exhausted, but she was in a much better mood.
She sat down on the couch, wanting to go to bed but needing to figure out how she was going to take on the added responsibility of sorting through all of the random flashes of the precogs.
She chewed her thumbnail and stared blankly across the room for a while, until her computer chimed with an email, drawing her eye. She laughed suddenly, much relieved. Then she got up and went to bed.