97 Days Until Signals And the Uncertain End (part 2)
Zeydar sat with Marjorie waiting for the Superior council session to begin. He had all his paperwork in order and was ready to speak about his class, and the fifteen complaints he’d gotten that week. And about Kony, and how Kony was actively refusing to participate in classes. In part that was Zeydar’s fault. He had told Kony to focus on getting the connection solid between defensive and offensive. They had learned that Kony knew the magic but it would take time to make it instinctual, and perfected. The more that Kony practiced the way he was told in school, the further he moved away from that instinct. So he had said he would refuse to practice at school with his classmates and stupidly Zeydar had agreed.
It was not the wrong choice, but it was going to cause a scene which made Zeydar more perturbed about it than the fifteen complaints he’d gotten. At least those were simple issues. Zeydar thought to himself deeply as he prepared when he noticed Majorie starring. “Yes?”
She shook her head.
Zeydar should have let it go. He knew that. He knew better than to engage with her. She was starring at him for some reason that was beyond him and now that he had called her on it, she was avoiding his gaze. Drop it? No. He knew he should but… “Is there something you’d like to say?”
“Nothing of importance.” Marjorie answered calmly. The way she glanced back at him held warmth that he had not seen from her eyes. Ever. For a moment he was close enough to deluding himself that she actually cared.
“She means to say you look like Tyler when you concentrate.” Zeydar had not known the Superior Anthony had come. However his voice left little to be desired as Zeydar was forced to confront the man. Zeydar met the man’s eyes, seeing what looked like disdain and joy all at once. The man found pleasure in the fact that Zeydar and Majorie were estranged in the way that they were. Zeydar never let himself imagine having a mother. Circle Ones were not given that luxury. Most were taken from their parents and raised by different Superiors as to ensure that they were not favored or given bias. It was only when the children became Superiors that they were often allowed to reconnect with their biological parents. Majorie looked at Zeydar as if Zeydar meant something to her. Maybe he had once. Maybe he could have. Maybe she regretted what she had done, not that it stopped her from doing it.
Zeydar had little time to work through her problems as well as his own. She was his mother, yes, but he could not sympathize with her. “I would hope so he is my father.” Zeydar used the words as a strike. He wanted to lay the line clearly. Class Ones never used the words parents, mother, or father. Marjorie was as much blood to Zeydar as Tyler was, but she would never be his mother and he would never identify her as such in public.
“Your eye brows knit together when you concentrate.” Anthony sat in his seat, commanding the room towards attention, which meant focusing in on the once private conversation Zeydar had been having. Once more he was the center of focus and Superior Anthony kept Zeydar in that position. “Very much like Tyler. As is your attachment to your charge.”
“I never did ask you why you gave Tyler to me.” Because he wasn’t given to Tyler. Tyler was given to him. “He hadn’t finished his teaching requirement before he conceived me, and those two things alone should have resulted in disciplinary action.”
“They did.” Marjorie answered. There was something about her tone that made Zeydar consider something he never fully had. He knew that Tyler had drugged him, at behest of the Superiors, and in that way Zeydar could not blame Tyler. He knew the man had done something wrong, but Tyler had still strove to teach Zeydar as best that he could. There was no way Tyler didn’t know when Zeydar was laying off the drugs when he was a teenager, because Tyler would have been watching. It meant that Tyler had lied for him, perhaps believing that Zeydar truly had control over himself and that it was time for him to try. Where Majorie did what she was told Tyler had trusted him, and believed in him. The Dreams were necessary as a child, Zeydar figured that was what Tyler assumed, but as Zeydar got older Tyler began to trust that Zeydar could do it himself. It was because Tyler believed in him that Zeydar thought he could too.
Then Zeydar relapsed because of Evester, which he didn’t blame Evester for. For it was in part Evester, in part Zeydar’s body craving it in a way, and in part falling out of his strict habits that had left him sober in the first place. Then Zeydar had to try to work from scratch again, then the Catastrophe came, and Arcadia fell and Zeydar turned to Dreams because of the trauma. However he remembered when The Catastrophe had happened, and Tyler told him about the collapse of Towers. Tyler had gotten a call and had asked about Marjorie.
At the time Zeydar hadn’t known who she was. He didn’t learn that until later when Zeydar was her charge and he had seen his face in her’s. When she had looked at him scowled, and her eyes had watered. Tyler was younger than Marjorie. Tyler had gotten her pregnant when he was about Zeydar’s age shortly after becoming a full Superior. Tyler had taught classes, in Zeydar’s memory, but only until Zeydar was ten — the ten year requirement — while taking care of Zeydar. The Superiors had made Tyler raise Zeydar in punishment. Zeydar wouldn’t have been surprised if they were going to take Zeydar away from him, and Tyler had fought to keep him. And they let him because of the punishment of having to keep his own son drugged.
It was a punishment to take care of him, he understood then. He’d never asked how it happened, or why. However based on Marjorie and Tyler’s reactions, Zeydar had to assume that they actually had cared about each other deeply. That they were separated, in punishment. That Marjorie had to work in Havelia, which was a costal Tower as well as a reform school for Stars. Maybe his mother had cared and he had never given her the chance to explain herself. Yet… When she had gotten Zeydar she had done little to bring them together. She knew he was traumatized and instead sedated him. She feared him. He could not blame her for that. But in that fear they did not love each other.
“Why me?” Zeydar asked, hearing his voice carry upon the quiet room.
“He had to learn the consequences of his actions.” Majorie answered. There was resentment in her voice. She did not resent Tyler or Zeydar or herself. She resented the Superiors. That, Zeydar could recognize. He felt it tug at his soul in the connection. She was bound to it like Tyler was, like Zeydar was, like they all were. How much of it was because she feared him, he wondered. How much of it was because she was forced to by the bond that held her throat tightly and forced her to be Anthony’s second in command.
“And you didn’t?” Zeydar always wondered how she had been chosen as the second.
“I did.” She answered solemnly. Zeydar’s heart sank when she avoided his eyes.
“But Marjorie had already finished her tenure as a teacher, and she was of age to be allowed to conceive.” Anthony elaborated unnecessarily because Zeydar was already certain of it. If Majorie had completed the steps in order, then her only mistake was picking Tyler instead of a better match for her, and in many ways Zeydar didn’t want to ask how their relationship had even formed. Yet she had picked him, and he was stupid enough to agree. Her punishment had been watching Zeydar grow up far from her, away from her, with Tyler knowing she could never be a part of their family. She had loved them. Instead she was separated from Tyler, and forced to watch as Tyler struggled with teaching and raising a child, all without being able to make contact.
And then Tyler had died.
It was, in some ways, no surprised that Marjorie hated him. He was the reason she had lost Tyler, multiple times. Zeydar hated her too. She was the second in command. The next to be the head of the Superiors once Superior Anthony stepped down. She was powerful and cruel, and made that way both by the bonds on her soul, and the actions she was forced to commit. It didn’t matter if she did all the things because of magic, she still did them and thus they ripped at her soul and her relationship with Zeydar. They had stripped from her the only things she had ever loved and wanted. The whole system was set up to destroy families, destroy relationships, and make it so that every member was isolated and thus forced to rely on the only community they had with the bond. It was terrible but effective.
They wee trying to do it again with Kony. “I see. So you are doing to me what you did to Tyler.” Their circumstances were different but the same in the end.
“Tyler turned to be a magnificent Superior, once he learned control and grew up.” Which was to say this was meant to break Zeydar, just as he had thought, just as they had tried to break Tyler and had broken Majorie. Yet Tyler was the one who lied to them about Zeydar taking the Dreams. There was no way that they would have let Zeydar exist without them, considering what they had done to him with his trauma. Tyler had believed in him and had fought for him. He just wasn’t strong enough to take them down, but he did think Zeydar was.
That’s why he had Zeydar call him Tyler, and didn’t deny the truth when Zeydar asked if they were related. How he told Zeydar not to call him dad, but didn’t chastise him unless they were in public and it happened. Zeydar never called Tyler Superior Tyler. Zeydar rearely called the Superiors by their title at all these days. They were his equals and he would use that.
Zeydar had trusted Tyler more than anything. Tyler had wanted Zeydar to care enough about himself and about those important to him, so that when it came to rebel against the system that controlled them, Tyler wouldn’t be alone. When it came to rebel, Zeydar believed that he could, and knew how to do it because he trusted himself and his powers. Tyler had always trusted Zeydar and Zeydar had trusted him. When all the other Superiors feared him, Tyler had loved him.
And in doing so. The punishment that they had tried to give him was never a punishment at all. Just as Zeydar teaching Kony and teaching students wasn’t either. Because all it was doing was giving Zeydar an edge. Tyler wasn’t strong enough to take down the Superiors but he’d made sure that Zeydar would be. And Majorie, might not have been strong enough to rebel on her own, but she had the knowledge that Zeydar did not.
“Yes.” Zeydar agreed stacking his papers and looking at his mother for the first time for what she was. “Tyler was a magnificent Superior.”
Zeydar thought of Evester and the thousands of rules that he did not know of the Igilistal family. He thought of the weight and pressure that came from that. And in looking at his mother, in thinking of his father, Zeydar wondered if love was meant to be so painful. Or if it was meant to be liberating. And if forced to chose the way his parents had, would he? He was not sure. He did know that he never wanted anyone to ever have to choose again.
He did not forgive her. He was not sure he would ever forgive her. He was not sure he could forgive any of them. However they were all products of the system he planned to destroy. And if anyone was going to stand by him, with Kony, Zeydar had a feeling she would. He had to free her, and once she was freed. Once she knew there was nothing they could do to hurt her more… Then maybe, just maybe, Zeydar would be able to show them all that pain was not the answer. They did not have to dream of a better world, and pray. It could exist. Magic existed, and their happiness could as well.