Wherein C.F.Barrón does his thing...

from Fenix Rising: Emotional Complications

The world had been laid bare before his gaze. On his left, he could see the last rays of crepuscular light as the sun nestled into its home. To his right, he saw the piercing whiteness of the moon waking up, and all around, he saw Gaia's mask of cityscape and grasslands. A powerful gust of wind rung in his ears. He shut his eyes and listened. He stood in silence for what seemed an age on the top of the grey tower, hoping to replace the sound of his thoughts with the sounds of life below. Here, merchants were shouting their last minute sales, there, a high pitched squealing signaled a children's game of queimada. But always, the words persisted. "He's gone." The general commotion of people leaving the Inner Circle and making their way back home to the Middle and Outer circles might as well have been a whisper. He's gone. No matter how much you want him to find you up here and tell you you're overreacting- he won't, because he's gone.

"Nice night, no?"

"How do you figure?" he responded before looking at who was addressing him.

"The view." Julie said.

"Had Fenix opened his eyes at that moment, he would have known that she was not, in fact, referring to the city life beneath them.

"Is this still your favorite place?" she asked.

"More or less." he replied, eyes still shut. "It feels like it's yours now too. " he added.

At length, he regarded her and was surprised to see her not just out of uniform but in a formal gown. Sapphire blue chiffon traced the curves of her shape before cascading into a short train. The gown was adorned with sparkling gems along her shoulders and neckline with the pattern of gems continuing along her upper back. She looked ethereal in the moonlight.

"Why do you frequent this place?" he asked, tearing his gaze away from her.

"I don't. I only visit when I need to clear my head." she said.

"It's an excellent place to do that." he admitted.

Julie nodded, her raven blue hair bobbing as she did so. Silence fell over the two of them, and they stood in it together for a time.  The breeze soon had Julie shivering, and Fenix promptly removed his cloak and draped it over her. It was warm on her shoulders, and she was thankful for it. Pipe smoke and almonds.  He smiled at her, before looking back at The Pass. He didn't like asking personal questions, it felt like prying to him, and being an Empath he felt he did enough of that without even trying.  So rather than ask Julie about the dress, he concentrated on listening to the world again. He found that he could scarcely hear anything over the sound of her heartbeat. Rather, it was all he could feel. She was nervous.

"Do I still intimidate you?" he asked.

"A little." she lied.

He shook his head.

"You're more famous than I am at this point, Julie. Or at least have more of a reputation."

"But I know more about you than most people." she countered.

"I'm not my abilities." he sighed.

" I never said that."

"You implied it."

"Bu-" she paused. "I never meant that your powers intimidate me. You do. Because you're...you. You're the man I..."

Her face flushed as she caught herself and she turned away to hide it. Despite the charm around her neck, he could feel the emotions coming off of her like a heat. Whatever she was feeling, it was powerful. More powerful than anything else he'd come across. He could press against the barriers of the charm, peek into her heart if he wanted. He doubted even the charm could prevent him at this point. But he refused. Julie was entitled to the right of emotional privacy, and he would not break her trust nor his vow to keep his Empathy in check. No, he wasn't sure what she was getting at with this discussion, but as a friend, he had to trust her to communicate her feelings.

"Fenix..." she shook her head. "Horus."

His head snapped up.

"I-"

A hissing sound came up from below their feet as a cloud of crimson smoke filled the area at the top of the bell tower. It was Umo's signature entrance. Once the smoke cleared, the Eagle of Reflections stood between them with a feral grin.

"There you are, newbie. We have a date with a contact of mine."

"I beg your pardon, Master Umo, but Fenix and I-"

"You can catch up later, Julie. This is official business. Until then, you're dismissed."

Julie's face was a mask of indifference as she saluted her two superiors and left.

"What was that all about?" Umo asked, feigning ignorance.

"I wish I knew. How do normal people understand each other without knowing what the other person is feeling?"

"They don't." Umo laughed. "Let's go, my contact is in the Middle Circle."

Fenix sighed. "Lead the way."

***

“Well it’s just that ever since I learned that skimming technique he’s been impossible to talk to!”

Fenix had to yell over the clamor of the tavern. He noticed the burly man’s intent to hurl a stool at him before the man himself had much of a notion for it, so when the piece of carpentry shot across the commotion, over heads, and directly at Fenix, the young Eagle barely blinked before catching it with a levitation spell and hurling it back.

“Fenix, you learned that thing after you saw him do it once. Once! It wasn’t even a spell I created and it ticked ME off.”

Umo punctuated her sentence with a swift quick to a patron’s groin, followed immediately by smashing a wine bottle into the mans head.

“It is Not. My. Fault. That I am a quick study. “ The young Eagle matched the rhythm of his punches to his cadence, making a point of landing a gut shot with every one of his pauses. “Empathy has its drawbacks too.”

He flipped the man onto a hard wood table when another telegraphed a tackle. Using the thug’s momentum he directed him face first into the edge of the bar.

“I know..” Umo said, lunging forward and stomping on the pommel of a bald man’s sword. From a kneeling position the enforcer fought against the weight of her boot, trying to unsheathe his blade. He received an elbow to the nose for his trouble.

“I have to actively try not to feel what everyone else is feeling…Oomph!”

A broad shouldered patron succeeded in ramming Fenix into the wall and crashed his meaty fist into his stomach. The dark haired warrior responded in kind and followed up with a vicious head butt and swift uppercut.

“I know…” Umo choked from across the room. She was currently pretending to struggle in an overweight man’s headlock while picking the man’s pocket. As soon as she had finished nabbing the man’s purse, Fenix assumed a martial stance and struck the air in the man’s direction. The telekinetic punch knocked him flat as Umo slipped out of his hold.

“Don’t even get me started on the shadow web-”

“I wont.”

“ Yea the thing keeps me breathing, but I slip for an instant and I might as well be the people I’m fighting.”

His fists blurred into motion as another patron swung at him with broken bottle. The techniques might as well have hit all by themselves. Open the Sun. Shatter the Stone. Snuff the Light.

Umo sighed from behind the bar. “Newbie, I know…” she took a long swig from an expensive looking bottle before dodging a chair.

“Anyway, did you get it? Ughf!”

The young eagle had gotten tackled by a pair of thugs and a dog pile of bodies quickly ensued.

“Oh I got it an hour ago, I just wanted to start a tavern fight.”

“I know.” Fenix said, having appeared next to Umo and now sporting an expensive bottle of his own. “We should probably flee the scene now that you have accomplished this.”

“Feel better?”

“Much, actually.”

The two toasted, swigged, and then ran at the first sound of Shields landing nearby.