Purchase Negotiation 22: College Prep

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If pressed, Leander would never have admitted that he was nervous about bed time. Even if ordered, he thought he would have found a way around it. Possibly just getting an aneurysm and passing out.

But pizza had led to sitting on the couch while Sylviane watched TV, played on her computer, and chatted with her friends and Leander mostly watched the TV and wondered if he was going to need to pick up a hobby.

No, he’d remembered, he was going to be going to school. To college. He was going to have to learn how to do homework.

“When does school start?” he asked, because he wanted to think about anything but this is nice enough but a little boring and what comes next?

Generally at about 9 — oh. Wednesday. Today’s Sunday,” she added helpfully. “So we have to get you late-added, well, tomorrow, I guess.”

“This might be a bad idea,” he warned her. “I mean, it’s gonna be obvious I don’t know anything.”

“It’s not going to be that bad. Because you can just sit next to me and be quiet, and they’ll think you’re the quiet brooding type, something like that. Or you can ask questions.”

“Not gonna help if the question is something everyone learned in high school.”

She snorted. “Come on, most people don’t remember anything when they come back after summer break, much less two or three years later.”

“All that school and people don’t remember it?”  She had to be putting him on. 

“Most people just don’t care.  People who do, they learn where to find information.  You only memorize stuff long enough for your next test, and I mean, I can either teach you a Working to do that or do it for you.”

A Working for that was almost certainly something with Mind Magic.  “I’ll figure it out on my own,” he assured her. “As long as I keep passing, we’re good, right?”

He had no idea if he could, he was serious, but not having someone do Mind Workings on him was plenty of motivation to keep his grades up somehow.

“As long as you keep passing, we’re good.”  She wrinkled her nose at him. “I have no idea if you’re selling yourself short or if you really are going to have trouble with classes.”

“Well, you don’t actually know me.”  He thought it was a reasonable comment. From the frown on Sylviane’s face, however, she didn’t think it was nearly so sensible. Leander held as still as he could. Maybe if he didn’t say anything else, didn’t do anything else, he could manage not to make whatever he had done even worse.

Her frown deepened; she opened her mouth a little as if to say something, and instead just made a small noise that meant nothing at all. Leander didn’t move. It was a skill that he’d had to work very hard at, but he’d gotten very good at it, too. 

His urge was always to move, to do something, to shift around, the tap his fingers, tap his feet, say something even if it didn’t mean anything, to go elsewhere. Kid learn to that one the very hard way. So he held still. In his mind, even while watching her, watching to see if she gave any sign that he needed to do something else quickly, he ran his metal fingers over a piano keyboard, white, black, whit,e black, white, black, white, white and so on. He’d gotten up an octave before she spoke. 

In his mind, his hands froze. 

“You know, you’re absolutely right.” Leander couldn’t hold any more still, not even in his head, but he tried. “I suppose I shouldn’t really expect to know what you’re going to do, or how you’re going to react in any given situation, should I?”

Leander examined this question for traps. He didn’t find any, but he examined it again anyway. After all, he was pretty sure she was asking him exactly what he just said. 

“No,” he agreed, picking one word at a time, “I figure it will take me a while to know how you’ll react, too,” he offered.  He held his breath. Would it make whatever was happening better, worse, or blow up in his face. This woman was proving to be very stressful.

She laughed, which didn’t help his nerves, his confusion, or anything else, at all. “Okay, that is entirely fair.” She giggled again. “I don’t come with any sort of manual. And I don’t suppose you do either?”

Leander let out a kind of half-snorted laugh. “A user’s manual you mean, an owner’s manual? Sorry, that’s all with the other papers I didn’t come with” He couldn’t even remember if he said that to her or her father; he was getting tired and a little silly, and if he wasn’t so worried about where he was going to end up sleeping, he might have suggested that she wanted to put him away for the night.

As it was, he just smiled at her and hoped it wouldn’t go too far south.

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