It was a cold November day, they’d be in this town for a few more days before they moved on and the medic tent wasn’t a warm place to sleep. Not that it mattered to him, Kieran had already died many years ago and a bit of cold wouldn’t kill him. Luckily when they had arrived, his medical supplies were replenished and the stock hadn’t been used much of late. It’d be an hour or so before the grounds opened to the public so he took the opportunity to take a small rest in the tent after he’d finished setting up for the day.
He felt tired these days, the winter always wore him down. Not to mention the fact that he hadn’t healed the young boy in the wheelchair. For so long he tried, yet for so long it didn’t do a thing but if he could help him in some small way then he was doing God’s work. Washing his hands in a small basin he wiped them clean from the grime of the hard work when he felt a presence enter the tent. When he turned around Jack sat in front of him. “Hello Jack.” He said in his thick Scottish brogue, “What can I do fer ya?” The boy had begun to sprout quickly into a man before his eyes, and he wondered where had the time gone?
He was seventeen and about to start something big. His first solo show- or something like it. He’d been practicing on the other carnies, drawing them… but townies was something different. Didn’t help that he woke with pain. “Hey Doc.” He said, wheeling himself into the tent. “Wasn’t sure I’d find ya, but glad I did.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out the empty bottle of laudanum. “Was wondering if it was possible to get a small refill.”
Jack was always careful with his meds, taking them only when he needed to. But even so, it seemed that if he went too long he’d get the shakes. He couldn’t draw with the shakes, between that, the nerves and the pain… he wasn’t sure he could draw that night. But his Ma was so proud of him he had to find a way to do it. Which is why he was there. If he could kill the pain, maybe he’d be square enough.
Brows knit together on Kieran’s face, a knee coming down so that he could be at eye level with Jack. A healing hand was placed on one leg, trying his best to quell the pain as much as possible. These days it seemed it didn’t work as well as the medication but the effects of addiction were already starting to show their symptoms and Kieran didn’t want the young boy dead before his time. “Are you sure you need it? It’s been quite a long time since I gave you this bottle.”
It had almost seemed to Kieran that Jack had begun to handle his condition lately and while he was a healer, he knew that often people needed to be able to heal themselves. His blue eyes glowed when one looked him straight in the eye and Kieran’s best defense was to maintain eye contact. His second hand came to rest on Jacks other knee and he used his strength to help as much as he could.
The pain dissipated a bit, something that always seemed to happen around Kieran. Just a shame he couldn’t be around all the time. He smiled to himself a little and shook his head. “Well, I guess not really. I mean, mornin’s are rough.” His fingers fiddled with the bottle. “Prolly just-“ In his mind. “Nerves makin things worse. Ma put up a nut for me to have a stall next to the floss joint and ring toss.” He ran a hand through his hair. He’d never really performed. Sure, his mom had pulled him on stage for a blow off because people seemed to get some sick joy watching the cripple hold a snake- hoping he’d get bit or something. But Tippy has always been there. This night he’d be alone. “Guess I just got my nerves up.”
A smile came to his face as he saw the 17 year old talk about his big break at the carnival. He’d seen his talent before and he did have some very good drawings. “That’s good news Jack, you’ll make a pretty penny.” The truth was he could still see the concern in his eyes. If it were possible, Kieran would watch over him to ease his pain, but as it was they were short staffed and he needed to be able to run the Ferris Wheel.
Maybe he could help with the nerves at least. “Let’s try something alright? Take a deep breath in.” Kieran himself demonstrated with a deep breath into his lungs and spoke as he hit the top of his capacity. “And slowly exhale.” He did as he suggested and blew the air out slowly from his lungs. If Jack really needed the medicine then he would always give it to him, but at least he could help him feel a bit more relaxed before he had to perform.
Jack did as guided, his fingers still fiddling with the empty bottle nervously. “What if no one stops? Or wants to pay?” His Ma had a gimmick and someone to pull people into her. She knew how to put on a show. He learned a lot from her, but he wouldn’t have a talker or a Bally. He was selling himself, not a spectacle. “What if no one-“ notices the cripple.
It wouldn’t be the first time people would avoid him. There was something safe about being in the tent, people felt free to gawk at him. But among the rest of the townies on the midway he was often ignored or treated as an inconvenience. He wasn’t born a freak like others. It was like he was a living reminder that any of them could end up in a chair too.
Kieran let go of Jacks legs and brought them up to frame his face. “Listen to me Jackie boy, you go out there, you show them what you can do and you leave the naysayers well alone. They’ll be crawling back to you when they see yer talent.” He looked the scared boy in the eyes and sighed before standing on his feet to rifle through his supplies.
He could refill an entire bottle for Jack but that seemed like it could be a recipe for disaster considering how nervous he was. Instead, Kieran decided on something better. When he found it he shook the pill into his hand before returning to Jack. “I will give you one, for right now. You can come and see me after close if yer in pain.” He handed the pill over to Jack to see his reaction. At this age, he could see anything from blind obedience to outright temper tantrum.
His folks had raised a respectful boy. Bein in a chair had humbled him too. His dad dyin when he was so young had him growin up fast. Well, to a point. He could still be impulsive and impatient and didn’t always make the best of decisions, but at least he tried. “Thanks.” Jack took the offering. He slipped it into his mouth and swallowed with a nod. “‘Preceate it.”
His hands ran down his thighs, he did feel better, part of him wondered if some of it had just been nerves. “And thanks. I am tryin to think positive on it. I mean I wanted this- be able to bring in coin myself so Ma doesn’t have to do all the work. Can’t really be a roustie or anythin else productive.” And he was old enough he should be pullin his own. If he’d not been in the accident his Pa probably would have taught him how to run a Bally like him. Maybe pick up juggling or something and get all the folk in to see his Ma.
Another life maybe.
Finding a spot to sit on an examination bed close to him, Kieran offered a smile. “Plenty of us to take care of that, you just focus on yer drawings, Yeah?” The kid was good, there was no doubt about it but Kieran had never had to sell himself like that so he might feel the same if he were put in that situation.
He was quiet for a moment before he dug into his pocket for his coin. He sorted through to find a shiny copper and tossed it to Jack. “Can I be yer first customer?” A jar of coin would look much better with some coin already in it, and it might help him feel better about the whole situation.
He caught the copper and laughed a little. “Yeah?” Jack shrugged slightly and reached into the bag that sat beside him in his chair. He pulled out a board and hooked a paper to it before pulling out a pencil and some charcoal. All in all the bag shouldn’t have been able to hold all those items.
“I started to draw when I was laid up.” He said, as he rested the board on his lap and started to sketch out the shapes of Kieran. “Kept me busy. While Ma performed.” Jack’s pencil moved over the page. His skills were a little rough, clear he’d not had any real training. As he drew he took in the strong but gentle features of the older man. Jack would be lying if he didn’t admit he’d found him attractive when he first started feeling ways about people. He kept that to himself though. It was a bit confusing, liking boys and girls.
Kieran sat as still as he could for Jacks portrait, listening to the boy talk about his beginnings. He wished he could remember his childhood, how he learned things and if he ever fell in love. He’d never know that side of himself and that made him feel a bit sad. It was quite nice to watch a young man go through all of it, he felt somehow young again. “Suppose that’s some good to come of it.” He replied, gently watching Jack concentrate on the paper.
“Do you enjoy it?” He countered, keeping his gaze on Jack. He had noticed the way the boy had grown into his body, leaving behind so many awkward angles and shape changes. Jack was becoming a man and Kieran noticed how much more handsome he was now. Still, Jack was only a child and he had so much more to learn before Kieran ever thought about that possibility.
“Drawing?” Jack asked, shrugging slightly. “Yea, I guess. I mean, it’s okay.” He really liked expressing himself. Being able to create something was nice. Really nice. It helped him get stuff out, thoughts and feelings. Not that he’d ever admit it. He had enough time being judged for being a weak cripple, he could only imagine if he started talking feelings like a girl. Not that he had the feeling that Kieran would judge him- at least not to his face. But it was best to not risk it.
“Does it really matter if it’s something I can do? We gotta do what we’re good at to make it. Not everyone can be lucky as some who are good at what they like. Bet you don’t really like running Eli as much as you can do it.” Granted running the Ferris Wheel was probably easier and nicer than some of the roustabout jobs.
A soft smile came to his face. “No, don’t suppose I do.” It wasn’t exactly hard work, but at least it was honest, and he got to see the smiling faces of children as they saw the world from a different view. Nothing could beat the feeling of watching someone else’s face light up with wonder. He recalled the first time he saw Jacks face when he came around the Eli.
“Ya know what I do like, Jack? I like helping people and I get to do that every day. It doesn’t require talent or charisma but it makes me happy.” There was a lesson to be taught here, and Kieran wasn’t going to let it fall by the wayside.
“Sometimes, ya ha’ to concentrate on the little things that make ya happy, and sometimes ya ha’ to do something that scares ya. It’s all worth it in the end, because ya tried.” He tried to resume his stance so that Jack could draw accurately, but in the end it didn’t much matter how the drawing turned out, just how proud he was of it.
“Yeah.” The teen knew the words were probably right, but shrugged as he put charcoal to the page, creating dark lines and shadows of the man’s face. He was actually better than he gave himself credit for- his drawings were very realistic, even if he didn’t have the finesse of a learned artist. They’d never pass the scrutiny of a high brow posh collector, but for the every joes it passed.
“Bet y’can’t help but feel good bout helpin people as a doc, huh?” He asked, listening but trying to focus and finish in a decent time without it looking like shit- more he could do more money he could make. But if they were shit, then no one would want one. It was a simple line he was walking. And his mentor didn’t want him using no magic to help.
His smile grew at that, it was more than that to him. It was his reason for being, his only purpose. “Sure. I care about others and I want them to be healthy.” Some days he couldn’t help. Those who were sick, he could only treat with medicine, and that made him sad. Still, he’d do his best with the injured.
“What makes ya happy Jack?” The boy had to have some interests and if drawing wasn’t one of them, maybe he had another passion he could explore. Something had to keep the young man going, the love for his mother perhaps?
He shrugged. “I like bein’ here. I mean Lowell’s was nice, but there’s somethin bout Zion.” Learning how to use his magic was nice. Even if he’d picked what his mentor told him was the hardest sphere to work with. Something had just drawn him to it. Maybe because he wished he could get good enough to change the accident- even though he knew he never could, but it was what he’d chosen, what he was good at. Learning Space has been hard. He was lucky he could do what he could. He just wished he could do more rather than reading about it. His mentor had him reading so much- which wasn’t his strength.
“Like makin things easier for my Ma too. She’s had to go through so much cause of me. I wanna do what I can. I like seein her smile when she doesn’t think I’m lookin- better than her cryin when she thinks I’m asleep.” Jack didn’t know why he’d actually admitted all that to Kieran. The man kinda was just easy to talk to.
A small look of sadness crossed his face. He didn’t like hearing Jack blame himself for anything, especially because he couldn’t help it. “Ya know ya got help if ya need it. Alls ya need to do is ask.” He offered. He could tell that Tippy was struggling, she was a single mother and the only man around spending any time with him was Kristoph.
He was happy that Jack was opening up to him, a young man like that needed guidance, so that he could live a wholesome life. There were so many ominous influences here that could lead him in the wrong direction. “Yer a good lad Jack, we’re all happy to help.”
“I know.” He said as he set his pencil down, fingers dark with charcoal. At least his hands had stopped shaking. “Thanks. Here.” He held out the paper to Kieran. “Flags probably up at the cookhouse, should probably get some chow before tonight. Folks’ll start comin ‘fore we know it.”
“I’ll treasure it forever.” And he would. For many years he’d hang that portrait proudly among his things. There seemed to be so much detail and courage in the way he depicted Kieran and he appreciated the sentiment.
“Don’t forget to come round tonight.” He added as the teenager left his tent. “If yer in pain.” He added, though if he needed an ear, Kieran would be there.
His ma was dead. He had wings- anyone who didn’t know he was different- magical- did now. He’d been in a coma for months because he’d not been able to let Tippy go. When he woke, Kieran was there. He’d taken care of him while he was out. Thankfully most his body functions had been sort of stasised thanks to the magical coma. That was two nights before.
Jack sat on the ground- his chair behind him- just staring out to the desert before them. Zion was outside of Tucson, it was cool and the stars were bright. He couldn’t help but think how much his folks would have loved it. They’d had a wake for Tippy, shared stories about her and said their goodbyes before they gave Jack her ashes. It had been nice- but sad and at some point he’d needed air.
He didn’t intend to be on the ground. His chair had hit a rock and the bottle had rolled from his lap onto the dirt and reaching down for it, he’d lost his balance and hit the ground. His forehead had a small gash from a rock but he didn’t care. He leaned back on a larger rock and pulled the cap off the bottle before taking a long swig. It burned as it hit his throat and he found himself coughing. “God Damn.”
For hours Jack had been missing. No one had seen him in the carnival or nearby and Kieran was starting to really worry. “Jack!” He yelled, the further and further away from the site he got, the more his worry began to set in. A portable medic kit was in his bag in case anything happened to him and he walked around with a small lantern.
“Jack!” He yelled again until a figure came into view, sat up near the rocks with what appeared to be a bottle of alcohol in his hand. Kieran rushed up to him and slid onto his knees to see if the young man was alright. “Jack where have ya been? I been worried sick.” More words came to his mind but he never liked to curse.
As the lantern was brought to his face he saw the cut on his forehead. “Yer hurt.” Placing the lantern gently on the ground he removed some supplies from his bag. Some cotton, an antiseptic, a bandage and tape. He looked at the wound and brought his lamp up again so that he could clean it.
“I’m fine.” He grunted, waving the other man’s hand away. “‘S nothin, just a tumble. Ground is better right now anyhow.” Jack looked back to his chair with a face that bordered hatred and sadness. “Had t’get away for a bit. Get some air.” Jack glanced back, he’d managed to get farther than he remembered- especially for someone not walking.
Eyes turned to Kieran, Jack had aged, grown up more than a bit since they’d met first, but the other man hadn’t aged. He was still the same scruffy handsome doc who looked out for him and the other carnies. “Ya know what I need. I need someone to drink with.” He pushed the bottle at Kieran. “Maybe everyone gets drunk enough they can stop wonderin if I’m okay.” He wasn’t okay. He missed his ma. He was stuck in a chair. He had been in a coma. God help him, he knew he’d be okay, but in that moment he just wanted to drink himself stupid.
Ignoring Jacks request, Kieran finished placing a bandage on his head and listened to Jacks slurring. His eyes softened as he listened, Tippy’s death had been hard on him too, but Jack was who was struggling most. He sighed and sat down next to him, taking the offered bottle from him and took a sip of it. “Suppose it can be a bit overwhelming.” He’d been pretty guilty of it himself. He was a healer after all.
He nudged Jacks shoulder with his own and offered a smile, passing the bottle back to him. “Ya know it’ll all be alright, don’t ya?” It probably didn’t make him feel much better but maybe just ignoring his pain right now was the best thing for him.
“Course.” He said, taking the bottle back. “Not the first I’ve lost, just-“ Jack didn’t want to cry again. He’d cried himself raw that night. “What good havin the power t’do stuff if ya can’t actually help the one who brought you into the world?”
He didn’t expect an answer, and took another drink. “An shit, ya know what’s the worst of it? I found out I got god damn wings. Not the most useful of wings, but god damn wings!” It must have been a sight, everyone standing there, seeing the boy draped over his mother with the sting like outline of colored wings flowing from his back. “And ya know who I wanna share that with?” His hand reached up and clapped on the box that held his mothers ashes.
Kieran’s eyes softened, watching the young man crumble beneath his grief. A hand instinctively came to rest upon his neck. Touch was often Kieran’s way of healing, for physical pain mostly but some part of him hoped he could help heal Jacks mental pain as well. Who was he to give Jack false hopes about life after death? Kieran himself was not sure what happened to him before his own. Maybe she would be out there somewhere with no memory of her past, just like him. Or perhaps she was nowhere.
“I’m sorry.” Was all he could say. For the first time in a long time, Kieran was at a loss of words. He took the bottle back from Jack and drank a rather large gulp from it, his hand still resting on the back of Jacks neck. “I think it’s important to know that if she were here, she’d be proud of you.” Maybe that was the worst thing for him to say but he couldn’t lie to Jack with promises of heaven and the afterlife.
His eyes closed at the touch. It was simple but rare for him to have physical contact of any kind with people. Kieran had always been an exception. He seemed like one of the few- sometimes the only one- who didn’t look at the chair and see a fragile breakable boy. Of course, he wasn’t a boy anymore. “I miss her.” Jack said, barely audible as he laid his head in the other man’s shoulder.
Jack looked up at Kieran. God damn he was nice to look at. He’d known for years his attraction to men and women, but never admitted to the former. The soft hand on his neck felt intimate- maybe that was the alcohol. In that moment he felt so vulnerable, lonely, lost. And very drunk. It was a bad combination, it lead to impulsiveness, like going for a ‘walk’ and ending up in the ground. It lead to mistakes that he’d hopefully black out and not remember the next day.
He wasn’t sure how it happened, Kieran looked down at him, their eyes met and then… their lips.
The lips on his own were a surprise and he felt himself lean into them easily. He couldn’t say he hadn’t ever thought about it, even having known him since he was much younger, but right now it was wrong. He let it happen until the kiss broke and leaned back to regard Jack, a hand coming up to cradle his jaw. “Jack…” he replied softly, cursing himself for stopping this, because he wanted it. He knew that now wasn’t the time.
“Yer so special, to me, just as ya are. I cannae do this with ya. Not now.” He tried to explain, his blue eyes shining brighter than usual. Jack was too fragile, and anything that happened between them would ruin the bond they’d developed over the years. He couldn’t bare the thought of losing that. He let go of Jack, grabbing the bottle of booze to take another long gulp of it. He wouldn’t leave him alone, but he couldn’t encourage their intimacies.
Shit. God damnit, he knew better. Not that he cared. He took the bottle when the other man was done and took a long pull- finishing off the small amount left. “Yea.” He said, leaning back on the rock behind him as he tried not to let the rejection get to him. He knew better. Kieran wasn’t a bad guy, least he wasn’t repulsed. Let him down gently. Maybe it was the chair, maybe he just wasn’t into gents. Maybe he was just… maybe sleep.
Jack looked up at the sky, letting a tear or two fall from his eyes for his ma. He started to hum a song she’d sung him when he was healing as he felt the pull of sleep. Sorrow was exhausting.
It hurt him to see how rejected Jack felt because it wasn’t him, he wanted it badly but with how vulnerable he was it would only end in heartbreak. Instinctively he went to put his hand on Jacks back but thought better about it. “Jack, yer a wee lad still, and I cannae say I don’t think yer worthy, because ya are, I think ya need to mourn ya ma.” He hoped that might help him feel better about himself. Things might eventually grow between him but he couldn’t let it happen like this.
He grabbed the bottle again, feeling the clear liquid burn down his throat. He must have snagged some moonshine because it wasn’t going down any easier. This time he couldn’t help himself, a hand came to his cheek to wipe a tear. He didn’t like to see anyone cry, especially someone he cared so deeply about. “I think ya need to get ya some sleep.”
Jack pulled on the rope that opened his wagon and backed his chair up the few steps. They’d been constructed wider and lower than typical just for him. The wagon was small and it didn’t seem like his chair should have fit, but somehow it did. He set his chair on the wall and lifted himself into bed with the thanks of the ropes strapped to the ceiling. It was an off day, no shows. Many acts took the time to rehearse, recharge. People ran into town for supplies, repairs were done. Jack, he had nothing really to do. So after grabbing breakfast he figured he’d retire to his room. As he pulled scooted back on the bed with his arm he saw Kieran doing something on the other side of the curtain.
“Hey, figured you’d be headin into town with Clay.” Jack commented.
Kieran had heard Jack come in and lately he tried to allow him to do things by himself. He’d always be there for Jack but he could let him rely on Kieran. Pulling the curtain back and securing it so that they could see each other. “Thought I’d spend a wee bit of time packing up my things.” He replied.
He was folding his few garments to place into his briefcase to take back to medic tent. It wasn’t as warm as it was with Jack but it was better than some of the other places he could be sleeping. “Gave him a list of supplies for the medic tent.” He knew that the agreement only entailed his help until Jack could take care of himself, and he was doing just fine now.
“Planning on going on a trip?” Jack asked with an arched brow as he leaned forward slightly.
He stopped what he was doing to look up at Jack. “No, I just thought I’d move back to the medic tent, now that yer doing better.” He offered, closing the suitcase as he scooted closer to the edge of his bed.
Things had been awkward those weeks ago when he’d been drunk and kissed Kieran. Honestly, he had figured that Jack wanted him gone.
Jack didn’t fully recall what happened the night in question. He knew something happened, but it was all very fuzzy. There was a lot of questioning if he did something or if he just thought about something. But even with the bit of awkward, it had been nice to share his wagon with someone. He’d never lived alone- his parents before. And he could only imagine how big and empty the small space would feel. “Ah.” Jack nodded. “Ya know, ya don’t have to. I mean, if ya wanna be on your own again I won’t stop you. But I won’t kick y’out.” He said with a shrug. “If it helps y’guilt I can fake it when your here.” He added with a chuckle.
A small grew on his face and the redness that came to his cheeks he’d had since he could remember, yet they seemed to brighten a bit at the invitation. It was kind of Jack to let him stay, especially considering the fact that it was much more comfortable there. “Ya? Well I don’t promote deception but I’ll gladly stay if yu’l have me.”
Kieran did care a great deal for Jack and if it meant he could keep a closer eye on him then he’d feel all the more better about staying. “To tell ya the truth, that medic tent is cold as ice.”
“Don’t know how I’d fare alone. And not like there isn’t room. What am I gonna do with a full wagon to myself?” He asked with a laugh. “Sides, if I were t’get someone else, don’t think they’d do nearly’s’well with my painful mornin’s as you.” It wasn’t every morning, but when the weather changed, or when they jumped between two drastic environments, his legs hurt a mighty bit more than normal. So he tended to wake in pain- occasionally screaming out.
Jack grabbed up some paper and started to sketch, just to do something with his hands. “Sides, y’know y’don wanna go back to the med tent.”
A small laugh escaped his lips and he opened his briefcase up again. He began to unfold his things again and place them neatly by his mattress. “Suppose I’m the only one who can handle yer screams.” He teased. He didn’t mind it, sleep was never really something he needed much of to begin with, so they worked as a sort of an alarm for him.
“I appreciate it, I do. Will be much nicer than the likes of the tents.” Any tent was bad during the winter. It was now in the thick of winter and the cold was no more biting on the west coast.
“Anythin’ your doin it for me.” He shrugged, pencil moving over the page. “Keepin me sane from bein alone, and someone t’practice drawin.” Jack commented. He was getting a lot better, and time didn’t matter as much since he’d started using magic to give him more. It did put less pressure on him and made for an interesting show for those who watched as his art just seemed to appear on the canvas.
Finding his things back in place Kieran watched as Jack began working on the drawing. “I’ve already got a collection going.” He replied, showing off the small space where Jack had done his years of portraits. Just like him, the depictions didn’t change much, just the attention to detail.
Kieran had noticed the way his drawings had become quicker, almost as if he’d frozen time itself. He’d known for a while of Jacks magic, he only hoped he continued to use it for good. “How are yer wings?” He asked politely, since he was still getting adjusted to them.
“Not come out again since…” Jack admitted. “Teach says it’ll only happen when I touch this thing called a lay line.” He shrugged. His mentor taught him a lot, but some of the stuff seemed unreal. “Like I guess there’s these rivers a’magic that flow round the world an’ I can touch ‘em.”
He placed the pencil down and pursed his lips as he sighed. “Honestly, kinda been avoidin’ tryin it again. Dun wanna end up like afore.” Being punished for stealing time by missing it.
A hand reached across to Jacks, a gentle reminder that Kieran was always there for him. He was careful not to touch him too frequently, Jack was still too fragile and he didn’t want a repeat of that night so soon. “Ya can’t avoid something because it scares ya. The things that scare us the most are often the most rewarding.” He loved to impart his wisdom but some part of it wondered if it was growing old to Jack.
Perhaps he should take his own advice for once. His hand gave Jacks a gentle squeeze before he retracted it again. Strictly speaking, they hadn’t talked about what Kieran was, but he’d never really asked so it remained unknown to him. Maybe someday he’d noticed that Kieran didn’t age. “Yer doing good lad, don’t give up.”
Oh he’d noticed Kieran didn’t age, but he wasn’t the only one in Zion who didn’t. It just wasn’t Jack’s place to question it. “I’ll admit I’d be lyin if I wasn’t curious. Kinda dun remember ‘em.” He reaches up and rubbed at his shoulder. “Not sure I’d know how to even do it again. Just knew at that time I didn’t wanna let her go.”
Jack had thought about it a lot. What if he just tried. What could he even do? He looked down as Kieran took his hand back and closed his eyes. He could feel the energy around them. “I think it’s how we move about.” He commented you himself before looking up to Kieran. “The lay lines. I never noticed until that night, but I can feel the energy.”
He couldn’t say what it was like for Jack, but Kieran did feel energy himself. His energy flowed from himself into others but it was still energy. “That’s a good sign then isn’t it?” He offered, perching his elbows on his knees and his jaw on his palms. He enjoyed watching Jack draw, the way it just seemed so natural to him, he could see what he got out of it, even after all these years.
“What’re ya drawing this time?” He asked, peering over the pad of paper to peek at what he was up to. He never ceased to be flattered by Jacks depiction of him, but he also enjoyed seeing other subjects.
Jack nodded to the cup that had served as a vase on the dresser. “Tryin’ to remember the flowers ‘fore they dried up.” They probably should throw them out. He looked to Kieran with a smile. “Maybe…”
It was a small thing, they’d already been dead- cut from the ground so it’s not like he was trying to bring something back from the dead. Shouldn’t be hard- or have any backlash. He closed his eyes and reached out a hand, focusing on the space around the cup. As he drew in energy those strings started to stream from his back, colorful and limp. Jack didn’t seem to even notice. He turned his hand slightly and the flowers slowly gained their colors back, petals replaced on stalks and the blossoms returned.
Kieran watched in wonder as Jack used his magic. It was mesmerizing. He suddenly lost his ability to speak and watched as the flowers began to regain their color. Finally he spoke. “Brilliant.” He finally replied and watched the magic flow through the room. He couldn’t sense it like Jack did but it was still a magic he didn’t quite understand.
Jack exhaled as he lowered his hand. It may not seem like it from the outside, but it took a lot of focus and energy to make sure the raw magic didn’t… erupt. It was the best word he had for it. The last thing he wanted was the whole wagon to get caught in a time bubble- unintentionally. He ran a hand through his hair and laughed a little. “I guess.” He shrugged, shifting slightly as he noticed the red- yellow- purple- blue- string beside him that didn’t seem to want to pick a color to be. Reaching down, he touched it and could feel himself touching it. It twitched- or more accurately his back twitched and moved the wing.
He’d been told he had wings- his mentor saying they sprung up when he tapped directly into a leyline as he had just done. But no one had told him exactly what they looked like. He didn’t know what he’d been expecting, but limp strings was the farthest from an option. “So, um.. Yea… I’m drawing the-” He gestured to the flower, trying to distract from his cripple wings. It made sense though, right? He was a cripple so they were as well.
It was clear to Kieran that Jack would be uncomfortable for a long while before he mastered his magic and he wanted nothing more than to help him along in his process. But Kieran was an angel, and that kind of magic was outside of his realm of understanding. He peeked over the page to observe the drawing and he offered up a small smile to Jack. “Looks good.” Came his reply, a word of encouragement to the boy who had just lost his mother.
“How is yer pain?” He wondered aloud. Some mornings were bad and anything he could do to help Jack feel more comfortable, he would. He sat closer across from Jack and watched his expression for any signs of pain. For years he tried to heal him, but his injuries were no longer injuries, they had healed but not the right way. He wished he could go back to that day and change things for Jack, but time was his specialty, not Kieran’s.
“Okay today. Didn’t have to take anything recently.” He informed, pleased that Kieran hadn’t commented about his wings. He was wondering how long they’d remain out. “Still have…” Jack reached into his pocket and shook the bottle of laudanum which was about half full. Between Kieran and the Professor, he had pain covered- most times. “But the seasons are about to change so… things are probably going to get worse.”
Kieran had seen wings in his time, he’d been around a touch longer than he cared to admit, and Jack was obviously still coming to terms with them so his face remained stoic in their presence. “Good, make sure to only use it when yer in pain. If ya want to take another on the same day, come to me and I’ll sort ya out.” He’d seen in war what men could become when they relied too much on medicine.
“Which’ll be easier to do as your not movin’ out.” Jack laughed.
It would be nice to have Kieran still around. Really, having another person in the wagon was a good thing. He’d never lived alone and didn’t know how he would do- and wasn’t looking forward to finding out. Besides, he had a wagon. Why make someone live in a tent when he had an extra bed? “Put on some music, yea? We’re not going anywhere for a bit.” He gestured to the shelf which had some bottles of beer. “Grab a drink too? Let’s celebrate your new place.” He chuckled.