Vince didn’t snap back to consciousness as much as he sluggishly drifted into it. Whether the gradual awakening was an effect of the blow to his head or Selena’s song would be difficult to determine without trial and error, a method Vince wouldn’t be terribly eager to engage in. He blinked a few times as the smooth white tiles of the infirmary ceiling slowly came into focus. It took a moment, but eventually he figured out that he’d been laid down on one of the cushy cots for healing treatment. With great care he began to pull himself up to a sitting position. He might not remember smacking his face to the concrete, but the dull ache at the apex of his temple and forehead told the story quite well. Vince had taken enough knocks on the noggin to know that sometimes reorienting yourself came with dizziness and motion sickness.
This time, thankfully, he didn’t encounter any serious trouble. Now that his torso was upright, he could look around the room. The first thing he saw was also the last, because it so utterly ensnared his focus that all thoughts of observing his surroundings were abandoned. It was, of course, Camille, positioned a few feet away from him and still sleeping soundly. She’d been cleaned up and bandaged, but from the looks of the unmended scratches on her face, she hadn’t been healed yet. Her rest seemed peaceful, so Vince assumed she’d at least been given something for the pain. It still didn’t quite explain why she was still untreated.
“Oh, you’re up already,” said a male voice from behind him.
Vince turned to see a fellow student who looked familiar but whose name either escaped or had never been known to Vince in the first place. “Who are you?”
“I’m Ed, one of the healers on staff today. And you should take it easy, that was a pretty nasty hit you got.”
“I’m fine,” Vince assured him. “Why hasn’t Camille been healed yet?”
“Her injuries weren’t life threatening, so I treated her, gave her some pain meds, and made sure she was comfortable until she woke up.”
“That doesn’t explain why you didn’t heal her,” Vince said, swinging his feet to the ground and pulling himself to a standing position. He realized he might have looked more intimidating than intended when Ed took a few rapid steps backward.
“Look, I wasn’t trying to neglect her or anything. It’s just that with those injuries to her face I thought it would be better to let her heal herself. My power only accelerates the body’s own processes, so it can leave scars. From what I’ve seen, hers negates every injury entirely. I just thought she would prefer it that way.”
“I can understand that.” Although Vince wasn’t especially vain, he did get the concept as a whole. “I must say, it’s a little surprising that they’d have a match day with only one healer, especially one with your limitations.”
“There’s an actual healer on staff who oversees us,” Ed corrected. “She likes to let us do most of the work, since we’re the ones getting trained. Unfortunately, there was a bit of an incident with the other group, so she was pulled away to the cells.”
“I see.” Vince turned his attention back to his Camille, who stirred softly as she readjusted.
“We’ve got two other students as well, but one had her own project to work on today, and obviously Camille was in the matches.”
“Camille works down here?”
“Sure, all the healer students do. It’s part of our training,” Ed explained. “Plus, it saves the staff from having to hire more than one dedicated person with healing abilities. Those can be pretty expensive.”
“Where does she find the time?” Vince wondered aloud. His head throbbed once more, and unconsciously he reached up to touch the tender area. He was a bit surprised to find his fingers brushing gauze rather than skin. “You didn’t heal me either?”
“Just a bit of a patching up.”
“I’d like to be healed now, please.”
“Are you sure? That gash you got along with the impact was pretty deep. If I use my power you’ll end up with a scar by the hairline on your temple. Camille will probably be up soon.”
“I don’t care about the scar. Just heal me, please.” Vince could deal with scars; he’d had an abundance of them before the incident when he was sixteen. What he couldn’t deal with was the knowledge that something could be affecting his head. He’d come a long a way in getting comfortable with his powers; however, anything that might inadvertently make him lose control was far too dangerous to tolerate. Especially with innocent people so close by.
“I guess it’s your choice,” Ed agreed reluctantly. He walked over and carefully pressed his fingers onto Vince’s forehead. There was a moment of nothing, and then Vince felt as though the wound was being swarmed by mosquito bites. It itched beyond description, beyond even understanding. Before he could cry out, let alone try to scratch it, the sensation was gone.
“Sorry about that. I know it’s pretty unpleasant, but it works.”
Vince tenderly pulled off the bandage and felt around. Sure enough, there was no tenderness or pain anywhere on his noggin. Ed’s method might not be as painless as Camille’s, but it did still produce results.
“It’s what I’m here for. You’re free to go now; we were only holding you until the wound was treated.”
“I’ll stay here until Camille wakes up, if that’s all right.” Vince’s tone and expression were both the peak of politeness; however, there was a buried edge in his voice that told Ed one way or another he was staying, so it had damned well better be all right.
“Sure, no rules against it, but don’t you want to know how your team did?”
“I’m certain they’ll come straight here as soon the match is concluded,” Vince said. “Besides, I already know how it ended. We tied.”
Ed cocked an eyebrow of curiosity. “You a telepath?”
Vince smiled at him in reply. “No. I just know my friends.” He pulled a hard plastic chair over from the wall and set it next to Camille’s bed. It became evident within seconds that it would be an intensely uncomfortable place to sit while he waited. That was okay; Vince was well acquainted with discomfort. He settled in and trained his eyes on his wounded teammate. He would be here when she woke up.
He owed her that much at least.