Thorn sat on one of the plush couches in the office, Kenneth next to him. The light of the magelights in the room was homier than usual, sending out a yellower color than the white glow Thorn was used to seeing from magi. It was more like the artificial shine from a lightbulb, actually, and it helped relax him as he listened to Maibell speak.
The warm presence of Kenneth by his side helped even more.
“Now,” she said, her robes swishing as she sat across from the two men. “Lifemates are typically those who’s magic is identical—they are identical in power, so to speak. The resonance creates an increase in power when they are near, giving each person increased control over the aether.”
Kenneth nodded, clearly bored. Thorn leaned forward. The idea of resonance, at least, made sense. He had explored the concept often enough in his studies.
“New lifemates can have an array of side effects, of course. Increased control over the aether can sometimes have the paradoxical effect of a mage being intoxicated by it. Is that how you feel, Kenneth?”
“I…” Kenneth’s face reddened, blue eyes sliding over to Thorn’s face, and then up and down his body. “Not quite.”
“I see.” The doctor nodded, and Kenneth shifted on the couch. Thorn almost laughed. At least he wasn’t getting drunk off some invisible force. “Well, how do you feel, then, when Thorn is near?”
“I…” Kenneth spread his hands, his face red. “I feel amorous.” He cleared his throat as though lessening the embarrassing nature of his words. “I desire him. Physically. And when I do, and we…act on it, that’s when I begin to lose control to an embarrassing extent.”
Thorn realized she had a clock somewhere in the room when the silence made its ticking obvious. “I see,” she said finally. “I suppose in that case, a demonstration would be unwise.” Kenneth’s face was as red as a cherry, and the doctor laughed, the tension broken. “Do not worry, Lord Victeni. What you experience is common. In fact, it’s usually the easiest affliction to treat. Of course,” she held up a hand, and her gaze fell on Thorn. “Typically when it happens, both lifemates feel it. Do you, Thorn?”
“No,” he said, and regretted his tone when Kenneth’s face fell. “I mean, I am attracted to him, of course,” he added hurriedly, “but I don’t feel this…aether thing. I just feel the same.” Kenneth frowned, and it made Thorn’s stomach flip. Had he said something wrong? He was no mage, damnit! What was he supposed to feel?
“Well, I can tell you, Lord Victeni, that though you say your control fails during those times you are physically with your lover, your control at the moment is not as fine as you think,” Maibell said. “Even now, its fluctuating, testing and re-testing the aether.” Kenneth muttered something, his gaze distant. “This is very common in lifemates. You are simply not used to the level of power you now experience. But luckily for you, the cure for this is the same cure for your other little complication.”
“And…what would that be?” Thorn asked.
“You two simply must stay near each other at all times for a duration,” Maibell said. “Most likely, about a week or two. That will be enough time for you to re-establish control, Lord Victeni, and learn to deal with, ah, the distraction Thorn here presents you with.”
Thorn froze, blinking with surprise. On the one hand, he loved spending time with Kenneth. His mage was sexy, gorgeous, and kind.
But spending all of his time with a mage? At the magi collegium? Tension flowed through his body.
“Thorn?” Kenneth said. His brow was furrowed, his blue eyes full of concern. “I suppose we should talk about this, shouldn’t we?” he sounded disappointed.
Damnit, his reticence was hurting Kenneth, but he couldn’t think of a way to make it better. “Yes,” he said. “I…we should talk.”
“However you wish to organize it, give it a week,” the doctor said. “Then return if the solution does not work. I would be interesting to see if any unusual complications occur due to the…unique nature of your relationship.” She stared at Thorn, muttering something once more, then shook her head. “A talentless lifemate,” she said. “This could be revolutionary.”
The air outside the infirmary was cold, and Thorn pulled his cloak tighter. He enjoyed the open air, at least. The less he saw of the infirmary, where he had lain after Alder attacked him, the better. He flexed his metal hand, wishing he could hurry up and replace it with the new one he had designed.
“So, we stay together, for a week,” Kenneth said. “I…do you not want to do that?”
Thorn sighed, dropping his gaze away from Kenneth’s beautiful blue eyes. “It’s not that I don’t want to be with you,” he said. “It’s just…” he stared up at the collegium, at its imposing stone walls and towers. The knowledge of the wealth and luxury magi had, that he never would, sent a cold shiver down his spine. “It’s just that I don’t belong here,” he said. “Staying with you in the collegium…”
He’d be an oddity. The talentless lifemate, a power source to a mage. Just like he would as an Enforcer.
That was his fear, but he didn’t want to admit it to Kenneth. He would say it wasn’t true. And Thorn knew Kenneth believed that.
But he didn’t know if he did.
“Who says you have to stay here?” Kenneth asked. Thorn looked up with a blink.
“I’m the one with the problem,” Kenneth said with a faint smile. “And I’m the one who can more easily claim a week off for illness of this sort. What if I stayed at the inventor’s college with you?”