EoP – Part 121


Echoes of Power

Part 121


Back. And forth. One way and then the other, slowly and gracefully. The blade of grass danced in rhythm with the beats of his heart, slowly swaying from left to right and the from right to left. He could see it as clear as day. His eyes were closed, the sounds around him had all faded into the distance and he could barely feel the soft breeze or the warm sunrays on his face. His concentration was solely directed at his inner self, his thoughts and his feelings were focused on a single image: a lone blade of grass. It was a strange sensation that Alexandre had never quite experienced before. He knew he hadn’t moved from his spot on the grass but it felt like he was somehow floating around, he could still feel his whole body but it felt weightless.

In any other circumstance it would have felt completely to him to say this but at that precise moment it was as if he was one with the grass: floating around lightly and without a care in the world. It wasn’t as easy as he had thought to keep focusing his mind on a single object but somehow he managed to drive away any distraction that came his way for a period of time that felt like hours. He couldn’t say how long it had been however, perhaps even just a few minutes, and therefore he did not dare break his focus in fear of being reprimanded by Damian. The teenager suddenly noticed something peculiar however: as the blade of grass kept undulating it seemed to begin to glow slightly. It was almost unnoticeable, a sort of thin halo running along the border of the plant, however Alexandre couldn’t tell if it was the way he imagined the light around it or if it came from the blade of grass itself.

Just as he was beginning to focus on that strange vision, it disappeared. The teenager felt like he was suddenly pulled backwards, he was falling! He gasped and opened his eyes with a start. He had tried to yell but it had come out as a sharp gasp. His heart was beating loudly as he looked around and he felt beads of sweat roll on his face and arms. The sky was still as blue and as clear as before, the wind blew lightly on the hillside. The only thing that was different was the sun which had risen higher in the sky. Alexandre somehow deduced he had remained in his state of meditation (or whatever that had been) for a bit more than two full hours! As he calmed down his heart, his eyes darted all around, looking for the silhouette of the older man but, after a few seconds and having looked everywhere, the teenager realised that his teacher was gone. He must’ve left while I was deep in the meditation exercise.

“Without even a goodbye or anything…”, he groaned as he stood up.

Alexandre started stretching, taking that time to think about what he should be doing. If he left, does that mean it’s over for today or should I wait for him to come back? The young man was pondering the best option, carefully weighing the possible consequences to the next decision he would make, when he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. ‘Next week, same place, same time.’ That was all the message said, short and to the point. Even the number was hidden, but Alexandre didn’t doubt for a second that it was coming from Damian.

“Well then…”, he sighed after a few minutes of stretching his stiff limbs.

He ran off towards the city at a slow pace, preferring to warm back up a little before picking up the pace.


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EoP – Part 120


Echoes of Power

Part 120


Repetition?

Alexandre tried to understand what his master meant with that. Of course he knew the saying that said practice made perfect but how could this apply here? He was barely beginning training this way, how could he use his experience in something he hadn’t even seriously practiced once? Or… Perhaps Damian meant something slightly different? Bits and pieces of old memories flashed in his mind, his mother’s words, things he remembered having heard on television…

“Try counting in your mind,” his mother had once told him, “from zero to a hundred. My trainer gave me this advice when I started yoga. You just count and try to picture the numbers in your mind and you focus on it, you think of nothing but the numbers. Once you’ve reached one hundred you start again. Go on, try.”

She had smiled at him, inviting him to sit back down besides her and to try this exercise. It had been years since Alexandre had thought about these few days in the months where she would be home and try to do some activities with him. He had always been bored by her definition of fun -almost always doing boring things grown ups liked to do, at least that was how he saw it back then- but he still tried to participate to make the most of the time he could spend with her and to please her. He could also remember a few TV shows that she watched at the same time, giving pointers as to how one could relax and try to meditate. It was always the same thing: focus on a point of your body and just try to picture it in your mind.

So, something like a single thought. And then work from there?, he thought, trying to understand what Damian had tried to explain. Counting it is then? No, I always get distracted. His mind worked at full speed, trying to come up with a solution to his master’s request as fast as he could so as not to get reprimanded once more. Then what? What should I focus on? I’m never going to succeed am I…? He was starting to feel desperate, relaxation techniques had never really been his thing, especially when they were close to meditation. Come on, think! I just have to find something to focus on, it shouldn’t be that difficult! He took a deep breath and tried to relax.

The warm wind rustled in the grass. He could hear the birds singing around him and the distant shouts of children playing in the nearby school. Somehow a piece of an answer came to Alexandre. He listed in his mind all of the things that were in his surroundings, trying to form an image of something he could focus on. A tree. The sky. The sun. The birds. The sounds he could hear. But strangely the thing that left the most striking imprint on him was the grass. A single blade of grass. It wasn’t as if he could see it per say but if felt like he could somehow imagine a single blade of grass as it slowly danced in the wind.

He suppressed a proud smile, unwilling to unnerve his teacher, and tried to focus his thoughts on that image, replaying that moment like a short video. He saw it, small and green, dancing back and forth, to one side and then to the other. Flexible yet strong and tough. Somehow, and he couldn’t quite understand why, the blade of grass had taken over his thoughts without much difficulty. This is actually working!, he thought. Which he regretted immediately as he found himself distracted by his surroundings once more. Damn it… he swore before trying to focus back on the grass, hoping Damian had somehow not noticed any of this. The teenager slowly took in a deep breath before trying the exercise his master had imposed.


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EoP – Part 119


Echoes of Power

Part 119


“No.”

Alexandre shivered and corrected his body position for the third time in less than a minute as Damian tried to make him get in an uncomfortable sitting stance. The older man’s voice contained chilling accents and the teenager couldn’t help being affected by them.

“To begin training in the art of Empirium you must first learn the basics and to learn the basics you must first learn how to feel the flow of mana around you. Only when you manage to achieve the minimum requirements I impose on you, will you be able to begin trying to sense the energy circulating all around us. As I said, this training will not be easy.”, Damian said in a flat voice as he circled around the teenager.

The older man was slowly making Alexander correct his posture as he did so.

“Yes master.”, Alexandre replied.

“Quiet. You are not to talk anymore, not until I give you permission to do so again. Listen, learn and apply. That is all I require from you at the moment.”, Damian cut him off almost immediately.

“Now straighten your back, a little bit more… Good. This is the position you will learn to maintain while I teach you this exercise. Is that clear?”, he added as he kept circling his pupil.

“Yes master.”, replied Alexandre after an uncertain silence.

Damian did not speak, simply nodding (which Alexandre managed to guess, even with his eyes closed) and continuing to slowly walk around him. A few minutes passed like this in complete silence. The teenager could feel the warmth of the rays of light hitting his face and the soft wind rustling his hair. He tried his best not to move but he realized this was much harder than he had anticipated, it hadn’t even been ten full minutes (in his estimation) and he already wanted to get up, move his body, stretch his limbs and run around. He had also been able to feel the gaze of the older man fixated on him the whole time despite his lack of words. Finally, as he was feeling his legs getting numb, his teacher spoke.

“Good. Notice how your breathing has become slower and more even, this is proof that you are holding the right position,” Damian said, sounding satisfied, “what I want you to do know is to relax as much as you can, try to empty your mind as much as possible at the same time.”

Alexandre hesitated on whether to react to his master’s words or not, but decided to remain silent and simply do as he said. Moving or talking would mean breaking his position and he was almost sure it wouldn’t be well perceived. He tried relax, though it wasn’t really easy with him natural flexibility (or lack of, to be more accurate), so he quickly focused on emptying his mind. He had already tried a to do a bit of meditation in the past, mostly at the request of his mother and had heard quite a bit about it from her. Sadly he had never managed to completely focus on the task and always ended up distracted. This time was not exception. Each time he tried to focus on nothing in particular, a number of wild thoughts barged to the front of his consciousness. For a few minutes he struggled with it and it must have shown on his face because once more he head his teacher’s voice from his side.

“Stop. I can see you’re not doing this right, you’re going nowhere with this. You mustn’t force yourself to focus on nothing, don’t try to think about a void in your mind, you’ll only drive yourself crazy. That is the worst way to calm down and to clear your thoughts.”, Damian paused and Alexandre heard him walk in a circle around him a few times before continuing. “Exceptionally, and since this is only the beginning, I will give you a chance. Here is a piece of advice, the only one you’ll be receiving from me about this: don’t focus on nothing or on everything, start small. Try focusing on a single thought and work from there. Repetition is the greatest training.”


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EoP – Part 118


Echoes of Power

Part 118


The older man hadn’t looked away even once since he had begun his explanation. Alexandre could feel his cold blue eyes fixedly studying his reaction as he listened to him.

“What I am going to teach you,” Damian said after another short pause, “is how to sense, refine and use this energy to make it do your biding. It will not be easy, not even one bit. You will have to work extremely hard, harder than you have to this day, and potentially hurt yourself quite gravely to achieve any result. But if you do, in exchange, you will completely push open the doors to a world you can’t imagine yet, and perhaps you will be able to tread more safely along this path…”

“Now,” continued Damian, “I have already explained to you what geigers -the creatures that attacked you- were, I have given you a few indications about what Empirium is and you have seen for yourself some of what it could do. Do you have any question that you wish to ask before we begin? This is the perfect chance because after this morning, you will do everything as I ask. Though I must warn you: ask only questions that are worthy of answering because I am a firm believer that stupid questions exist!”

Alexandre nodded and remained silent for a while, pondering. He racked his brains in search of potential questions for a few seconds, unsure if he had any that wouldn’t seem stupid to his teacher (he couldn’t help feeling slightly weird at the thought of Damian being his ‘magic’ teacher).

“Yes master, I do have one question.”, he finally said.

Damian looked at him but did not reply, simply staring at the teenager as if silently inviting him to ask it if he dared.

“Why would you decide to show me any of this? You don’t know me so why help me back then? Why not… let me die?”

Alexander almost cringed as he spoke, only barely managing to keep a straight face. The question didn’t seem stupid to him, he wanted to know the reason why someone like Damian would decide to help him. There were a few reasons to that, the main one being that the blue-eyed man in front of him didn’t seem like someone who really cared about others. So why save him? Was there something behind this decision? He looked at his newly found teacher as the man seemed to ponder if his interrogation was worthy of an answer.

“Not bad,” Damian finally said, “that is a passable question so I will answer it.”

The man paused for a moment before continuing.

“It was not because I particularly cared nor because I am usually inclined to do this, I saved you simply because I felt it might be entertaining afterwards. The reason I am offering to train you now is mostly the same: I do this to entertain myself, nothing more. That is why, if I am ever discontent with your attitude or investment in what I kindly offer you, I will simply put a stop to it. So, if you want to learn as much as you can, you have better make sure to keep my interest up… Is that clear?”, Damian said in a casual tone, not looking away once as he spoke.

Alexandre swallowed with difficulty as his teacher went silent again. He had somehow been expecting that, that man wasn’t quite… normal, if that was the word. The teenager had a feeling things were not going to be very pleasant from then on…

“Yes master.”, he finally replied with a short nod.

Damian seemed pleased, or something akin to that, if anything. He stood up, towering over the teenager who was sitting on the ground, as walked behind him.

“Very well then, let us begin. Sit straight and close your eyes!”, he exclaimed, his voice clear but cold.


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EoP – Part 117


Echoes of Power

Part 117


“As I am sure you have noticed, there is something different about you, something… unusual, to put it in kind words.” Damian started as Alexandre sat besides him on the grass, “Those creatures that attacked you, they were real. I can assure you that much. You are not dreaming, this is not some hallucination, or delusion of your mind, this is reality. Cold and harsh.”

He paused to look the teenager straight in the eye. Alexandre had to refrain a shiver as he found himself immediately made uncomfortable by the two blue orbs, it felt as if the older man could look directly through him, into the deepest corners of his mind.

“If I hadn’t intervened, you would probably have died. It’s as simple as that.”

Once again he was silent, giving Alexandre time to take it in. If the teenager couldn’t at least come to terms with that then it was useless to waste time on him. At least he seems to be reflecting on that, Damian thought. That seemed a positive sign.

“I- I understand that,” Alexandre replied.

It was true, he did understand the point the older man was making. It had already started dawning on him some time ago and he hadn’t been able to refrain the icy chills since then. What if he hadn’t been there that time? The first time had been pure luck, the teenager still couldn’t say how he had managed to survive it… Plus he had a feeling it wouldn’t be the last time he encountered such strange -and dangerous- things, so he had to be ready, to be able to defend himself. Even if just a little. Damian silently nodded before speaking again.

“What I am going to teach you will not make you invincible, it will not make you strong. You will not learn to bend the laws of our world, at most, and depending on your hard work, you will be able to blur them a little, to curve them slightly. My teachings do not have the goal to make you a superhero or anything close. I will simply be opening your eyes to new possibilities and showing you the potential ways to go. Only you will be able to act upon this new knowledge and explore them. Is that understood?”, he then asked.

“Yes master,” the teenager replied, listening carefully.

“Good,” said Damian before pausing for a short moment as if he was pondering something. “Tell me, what do you know about mana?”, he then asked.

Alexandre furrowed his eyebrows, trying to think about what he knew. He knew that it was something used by video games as a magical energy but that it was based of beliefs and myths about a secret inner energy that could be shaped by one to affect their bodies and the world around them. Apart from the other names it had in different cultures he didn’t know much, though apparently it seemed important for what Damian was about to teach him.

Once again he older man nodded as Alexandre gave voice to his thoughts.

“Yes, you are partly right. Mana, under this name or others, appears in many cultures, mostly in video games nowadays. Why do you think that is? Because there is truth to it, like there is to many of the tales and legends that people tell,” the man in his forties explained. “To an empirist, one who trains in the art of empirium, it is the name of the energy -if you wish to call it that way- that we act upon to bend the laws of this world. It is somewhat akin to fuel that is used to power vehicles. To an empirist it is, to make another analogy, both the paint and the brush that we use to give form to our desires.”


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EoP – Part 116


Echoes of Power

Part 116


“You are late,” was the first thing the teenager heard as he approached the man he had met just a few days before.

“Yeah, I know, I’m sorry I-“, he began his reply but was interrupted.

“I told you not to be late,” he heard Damian say, cutting him in the middle of his sentence and

Alexandre looked at the older man, frowning as his surprise slowly passed. He almost grunted. Almost. The only reason he managed to refrain himself from doing so was that he had a feeling that in doing so he would earn himself another snarky remark. He was realizing too late he had been right in his negative premonition a few minutes earlier, almost regretting his decision to have come. Damian’s face was an unreadable mask as he sat on the ground, his blue scarf around his neck and his legs crossed. His hands were on his thighs and he was visibly doing something akin to meditation. The man hadn’t even opened his eyes or moved to greet the teenager even though Alexandre was sure he had heard him approach and recognized him. The light-haired teen was beginning to regret his decision to accept someone like that as his teacher, whatever the odds of him being killed by dangerous creatures in the future…

“Do you regret your decision?”, suddenly asked Damian, still in the same position, as if he had read the teenager’s thoughts.

“Uh…”, Alexandre began, his surprise making him hesitate, “no, no! I don’t regret it, I just…”, he paused again, unsure of what to say.

Damian remained silent, as if he was waiting for his student, inviting him to explain himself. Alexandre’s hesitation didn’t last long though. He had been prepared to anything when he had accepted Damian as his teacher, well, not anything, as he didn’t even know what would happen next, but he knew it wasn’t going to be something ‘normal’… Plus, despite the thoughts that had crossed his mind, he wasn’t ready to die yet and if that weird dude, sitting on the grass in front of him, could help with that he wasn’t going to say no. Plus he wanted answers, he needed answers. Whatever I have to do, he thought as he opened his mouth again, no matter if this is a bad decision.

“I just have so many questions that I don’t know where to begin,” he replied as he walked the few paces that separated him from the strange man who had agreed to tell him about what was going on.

“Alright then!”, Damian exclaimed as he finally opened his eyes, looking at the teenager with his unsettling blue eyes.

“I will answer your questions, that I have promised, but before we begin anything I must ask you, are you willing to let me teach you about the art of Empirium?”, he then said, still looking straight at Alexandre, before adding, “You know why I am asking that, don’t you? This is not going to be easy in the least, learning to read and use the flow of mana will come with a price, do you accept that?”

“Yes.”, replied Alexandre with a nod, not even letting himself a moment to think about it.

He wanted to know and he saw no other way, at least none in which he could keep it all to himself… Damian looked at him silently for a moment, as if he was evaluating the teenager’s resolve, before nodding and standing up.

“Very well. From now on you are my student, I am your master and that is how we will refer to each other. You will do as I say, no question, no complaint, just follow my orders. I will answer your questions, if you have any, when the time comes, that is when I decide so. I will do it then and only then. In the meantime you will know only what you need to know. Is that understood?”

“Yes!”, replied Alexandre, looking straight back.

The teenager saw Damian frown slightly, the man took a few steps towards him, their gaze never breaking off.

“‘Yes master.’, that is how you will reply to me from now on, only in that manner. Once more, is that understood?”

Alexandre almost froze again, the intensity of the gaze was barely sustainable as it became clear he hadn’t been wrong about Damian. This was not going to be easy.

“Yes master.”, he repeated, straightening slightly at the words.

Damian nodded, seemingly satisfied, before sitting back down.

“Now sit, there are things you need to know before we begin…”


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EoP – Part 115


Echoes of Power

Part 115


Alexandre woke up to the sound of his alarm. 7’15. Still got time to sleep a little more… He groaned as he shifted around in his bed, letting his mind drift back to the wonderful feeling of sleepiness. When he opened his eyes and looked at the clock again he cursed.

“7’40! Damn it!”, he exclaimed as he realized he had dozed off for to long.

The teenager had originally planned to stay in bed for another 5 minutes, leaving twenty minutes to get up, get dressed, eat a quick breakfast and leave, but now if he didn’t leave immediately he would be late. And, despite his excitement at the idea of getting his questions answered, he had a feeling he would regret it if he was late. He threw on a T-shirt, a pair of jeans and a grey hoodie before rushing out of his room, barely managing to reach the lower floor without falling, phone in hand and a glass of orange juice in the other. He placed it in the sink once it was empty before jumping in his shoes and rushing out, starting to run as fast as he could towards the rendezvous point after making sure the front door was locked.

It was Sunday but his father wasn’t there, he had told him he would be gone until late in the evening, some kind of exceptional management meeting from the main branch of the company he had to attend… Alexandre had welcomed the news with enthusiasm because that meant he had the house to himself but now it seemed an even better thing because it wouldn’t interfere with him having to go meet a middle-aged man who claimed he could do magic on his own, not that he was scared but he knew he would have had to lie to his father, had he not been away. The air was fresh, almost cold, and he could see the thin clouds of steam that rose over the gardens as he passed by. The sun was up but it wasn’t high enough yet to sufficiently warm the air. Alexandre was glad to have taken a sweatshirt with him.

He looked at his phone as he reached the bottom of the hill, near the hiking path that lead to the top. 7’58. Damn! New record! He had made the journey in less than 12 minutes! But he still had to climb the whole damn thing before reaching his goal, Damian had arranged the meeting at the top. To make things easy of course, he groaned inwardly. He groaned before resuming his race against time, already sweating and short of breath but determined not to be late. Well, not too late at least… After all, it wasn’t a few minutes more that would kill him. Right? Suddenly he felt a cold shiver run along his spine and increased his pace. Perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea after all. He definitely didn’t have a good feeling about this…


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EoP – Part 114


Echoes of Power

Part 114


Alexandre was left there, standing before the bus stop, unmoving. His mouth hung half-open as he could still faintly feel the slight coldness of the trace of moisture on his cheek. His eyes were looking straight forward but were unfocused, he could still see the red lights of the bus slowly disappearing far down the street. The night was cold and the light wind didn’t really help but the teenager was completely impervious to that, it didn’t bother him in the slightest. He even felt a bit hot at that exact moment. He closed his eyes, replaying the previous instants in his mind and couldn’t refrain a wide smile from spreading on his lips once again. Slowly he raised his hand and traced along them, from one corner of his mouth to the other, having a hard time believing what had just happened.

His skin was still tingling intensely at the touch, as if her lips were still on his, as if Chloe was still there, kissing him. A few moments passed before he opened his eyes again and let out a nervous yet overjoyed laugh, they had kissed… He and Chloe had kissed… This all felt like a dream, it was too good to be true, it had to be! As if the universe had sensed his doubt however, and had somehow decided to punish him for not believing hard enough, his phone rang at that exact moment. Alexandre sluggishly took it out and checked his notifications, he had one unread message. He felt as if someone had poured cold water over him as he read it.

‘Tomorrow, 8 o’clock, the hills. Dont be late. D.’

He had given Damian his number a few days before when he had agreed to teach him about Empirium. Alexandre had felt pretty good and confident at that moment but now it didn’t seem like such a good decision, he had the feeling the man wasn’t someone to trifled with, dangerous even, but the light-haired teen also began to fear he was going to be a very strict teacher… On the other hand he wanted to learn more about his abilities and Damian was the only one who knew something about it and cared to explain (not counting Bryan of course, but telling his best friend was not an option). No he had to go.

“Well,” he said out loud, though more to himself than to anybody around –there is no body around anyways– as he locked his phone and put it back in his pocket, “at least the evening was worth it. So worth it!”

He couldn’t help the giggle that escaped him and hastily looked around to make sure there was nobody around. He let out a small relieved sigh when he realized he was indeed all alone ont he street.

“Yes!”, he exclaimed again, throwing his fist in the air with a large smile.

Alexandre started to walk back home, the house was almost half an hour by foot but he didn’t want to take the bus. He wanted to take some alone time to wander around and think. He took out his headphones and started the music where he had left it earlier that evening while he waited for his date to arrive. Everything had went so well, he had a hard time believing his luck. Chloe was such a beautiful and nice girl AND she seemed to enjoy spending time with him and talking about all sorts of things (most of which interested him). Alexandre wasn’t really sure why she was interested in him, he wasn’t really that handsome per say and he was a bit dorky on the side, but somehow she had set her eyes on him and she hadn’t seemed disappointed after that evening with him, on the contrary! After all she had been the one to kiss him… And what a kiss! Wait ’till I tell you how this evening went Bry’, you’re gonna be so jealous!


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EoP – Part 113


Echoes of Power

Part 113


How many apologies since the beginning of the evening? Damn it! Not the time to be worrying about that, he scolded himself as he managed to straighten in his chair. He noticed after a quick glance that almost everybody around was looking at them, even the waiters were ready to spring into action the second the situation seemed to worsen. He made quick sign towards them to reassure them and drank the rest of his glass of water. Slowly he managed to calm down his heart and the burning feeling in his lungs, this was not remotely as bad as with the creatures in the alley –Alexandre! I said not now!– but it still hurt like hell.

Plus his pride had taken a hit too, he had managed to mostly ridiculize himself in front of Chloe… Not that she would hold it against him surely, she looked like she was more inclined to laugh than anything else, but it didn’t make him feel very confident, that was for sure! He took a few deep breaths before trying to speak again.

“My apologies, I wasn’t planning on dying tonight but apparently someone is not okay with that…”, he managed to smile as he said that.

“So it seems…”, nodded his date as she tried to stifle her laugh.

Alexandre found himself unable to resist the urge to smile and giggle with her and soon they were both laughing at his near near-death experience, both had tears rolling down their cheeks and had to restrain themselves so as not to bother every other client in the restaurant. Once he finally managed to calm himself the light-haired teen found that his pain and his anxiousness at the thought of having ridiculed himself in front of Chloe had both faded away int he back of his mind. He let his eyes wander on her figure, from her hands covered in numerous small scars -apparently she was an art lover and it was not as relaxing and fluffy as everyone might think- to her clear eyes and her golden hair.

“What?”, she asked as she finally noticed him staring at her.

“Nothing!”, he replied hurriedly, “it’s just…”, he paused, unsure once again.

He locked his gaze with hers, unsure why he hesitated, she cute, she was funny, she was intelligent and charming, he liked her and, most of all, she also liked him… Almost certainly as more than a friend. So why wasn’t he sure? He himself didn’t even know, he couldn’t explain why, it was something unconscious, nagging him at the back of his mind. As if a voice was whispering things in his ear… Why? He had no clue… Alexandre was trying to put his finger on what it might have been when he saw Chloe smile once again. All his doubts suddenly evaporated. No, it was different this time. He like her, he knew it, no, he was sure of it.

“Well?”, the object of his reflection asked as she seemed to wait impatiently for an answer.

Alexandre didn’t understand why he would even think of refusing this, a beautiful and charming girl had practically confessed her feeling for him, feeling which were mutual -at least on his part- and he had wanted for a second to say no? Hell! He had to get his head checked, this thing with the geiger must have left some brain damage…

“Well, it’s just that…”, he paused again, not because he was unsure this time, just to toy with her a little more, and to make this moment last a little longer, “I really like you too Chloe…”, he added, unable to hide his wide smile.


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EoP – Part 112


Echoes of Power

Part 112


“Sorry, could you repeat that? I didn’t quite catch what you said…”, he quickly apologized to his date.

Great. Very smooth Alex, very smooth… he scolded himself silently with a mental smack.

“Yeah, I guessed from the look on your face…” Chloe replied with a laugh. “Well you know what we say about ears and a good wash, don’t you?” she added, taunting him with a smirk.

“Yeah, sorry, I uh… sort of lost track of the conversation here…”, Alexandre explained, cringing slightly.

“It doesn’t matter, I know I’m not that interesting anyways…”, Chloe nodded as she took a sip of her drink and shrugged.

“No! That’s… it’s not what I meant,” Alexandre tried to explain, starting to uncomfortable.

He suspected she was just toying with him but he didn’t want a moment of inattention to ruin the evening… Plus she had seemed serious as she spoke earlier so he was pretty sure it was something important.

“I’m sorry for not listening,” he repeated once again, “so what were you saying?”, he then asked with curiosity.

The blonde girl looked at him for a moment, a look that Alexandre couldn’t quite describe or understand. There was something deep in her eyes as they sparkled with her usual playfulness, but at the same time he could tell she was slightly nervous. She was looking straight at him, as if she was pondering her options. He couldn’t for the life of him guess what was going on in her head at that moment, that was one of the things he liked about her. She slowly put her glass back on the table and he saw her shoulders rise as she took in a deep breath.

“Ok,” was all she said for a moment, breaking the silence only to let it take over again.

Alexandre was about to say something when she opened her mouth and cut him short.

“I quite like you, you know…” she added, pausing again. “That’s what I said…”

Alexandre almost didn’t catch the second bit, the short justification was drowned in a torrent of white noise as his mind went blank. Had he heard right? Had she really said that? Did she mean what he thought she meant? What was he supposed to reply? Why did the room suddenly seem to shrink? What kind of fish was that on the table over there? Focus damn it! He scolded himself as he looked at her, unable to (and mostly unwilling to make the effort to) hide the half-blank half-shocked expression on his faced.

“Uh…”, was all he managed to replied after a few seconds.

“‘Uh…’ what?”, Chloe asked, not looking very fazed by what was happening. “I just said that I liked you, is ‘uh…’ all you have to say to that? I thought you were better than that Alex, has a kitten gotten ahold of your tongue Mister Parson?”, she added, a small smirk spreading on her face once again.

Alexandre almost choked as he tried to speak, falling into a coughing fit for a second as he tried to get his breath back. He felt the heat quickly rise in his cheeks, which probable had turned scarlet red by that point. Damn! What a fool he was making of himself… Having seen his difficulty, the blonde teenager had leaned over towards him and given him a few energetic pats on the back to prevent him from really choking.

“Deep breaths, deep breaths!” she exclaimed as she did so, her smirk still half there.

The other half of her expression was something akin to worry. Oh god, she’s worried about me! Alexandre felt his cheeks become even warmer, if that was even possible. They would probably catch on fire very soon if this kept going on.


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