Chapter 164

               “Anything else?” Dr. Moran’s voice wasn’t probing or pleading, she made it clear that this question was up to Vince to answer. If there was another piece of information he wanted to convey, another topic he wished to discuss, she was presenting the opportunity. If not, then they could move on to the next topic.

                “No, like I said it was a pretty normal Christmas break. Mrs. Daniels made us lots of home-cooked food, we hung out with a few of Hershel’s old LARPing friends, and then we trained whenever we could.” Vince leaned back in the chair, far more relaxed than he had been when these sessions first began. Despite his initial skepticism of both Dr. Moran and what she offered, there was no denying that he’d been feeling far more stable and centered since they began actually talking about what was going on inside his head.

                “Training over break? Nothing to ostentatious I hope.”

                “Just light sparring in Hershel and Roy’s back yard. Don’t worry, there’s no way I’d risk accidently burning their house down just to squeeze in a little extra practice,” Vince said.

                “And it’s certainly not as though you need it, I heard about the results from the semester exam. It seems you’ve made great strides of improvement. In fact, I was a bit surprised to see how efficiently you went after your targets. In your earlier Close Combat test as well, you had no hesitation in attacking your fellow students. Even the female ones.”

                This wasn’t the first time Dr. Moran had tried to broach this topic, she’d been skirting the edges of it since the test had first occurred. The change in Vince’s demeanor seemed to be rooted in what he’d experienced over summer, and he was exceptionally tight-lipped about that subject. Still, she brought it up when there was occasion, because as much as it was her job to accept the patient’s wishes; it was also her duty to help them deal with their issues. She wasn’t expecting any different results this time, but Vince managed to surprise her.

                “That was one of the things I had to learn to get past during… when I was fighting Coach George all summer.” Vince’s body language grew more closed off as he drew his limbs to his torso; however, he pressed on. “Up until then, I was always strong enough to hold back, or at least try to, and only get serious when it counted. Fighting George made me hit a lot of my limits; forced me to either grow past them or give up. I had to stop hesitating when I fought him. I had to stop holding everything back, and instead learn how to control the power I struck with.”

                “It must have been terrifying for you,” Dr. Moran observed, more from how he was reacting to the memory than from his actual words.

                “At first, it was really scary. Trying to hurt someone, hitting them with all I had... I was so afraid I was going to accidently kill him. But, in a way, I guess it was a good thing. Do you know what happened when I went against George with everything ounce of power I could muster?”

                “From the story you reported when you first came back, I’d assume it failed to defeat him.”

                “Exactly.” Vince nodded his head, curiously excited about the fact that he’d spent a whole summer losing. “I barely slowed him down, and that was sort of awesome. I know it sounds weird, but I’ve always been scared of my abilities, of what could happen if they went wild. Fighting George showed me for the first time that they aren’t unstoppable. I’m not unstoppable.”

                “It sounds as though the experience made you feel free to start truly testing what your powers could do.” This much, Dr. Moran had been able to figure out from how Vince was conducting himself in battle; the real victory was in getting him to say it out loud.

                “Exactly. This was the first time I’d thrown everything I had at something and not managed to win. It was impossibly frustrating at first, but eventually I realized that because I’d been able to do that I hadn’t really been training my abilities, not like everyone else. My only strategy was fight hand-to-hand or throw energy all over the place. Learning to actually use my ability, I guess it made me less afraid of it.”

                “That tends to happen with most things in life,” Dr. Moran said. “We fear the unknown, in the world and in ourselves, but once we’ve faced something, and learned about it, that is when fear gives way and we find a new sense of control.”

                “Sort of makes me regret how long I spent trying to avoid using my abilities in the first place.”

                “Then I’d advise you take the lesson you learned and apply to other things in your life,” Dr. Moran said. “Don’t always shy away from things that confuse or scare you, face them head on. Unlike your abilities, they may not always be there, and instead of regretting wasted time you’ll have to look back on missed opportunities.”

                “I’ll keep that in mind,” Vince said. His body and spread out once more, but the look in his eyes had grown distant. Clearly her words had provoked a train of thought in his head; one she could make a fairly educated guess about the content of.

                “At any rate, we have a little time left before your session is over, was there anything else you wanted to discuss? Perhaps the situation you told me about with your former lover, Eliza?”

                The tips of Vince’s ears went slightly red, a controlled blush that nonetheless told Dr. Moran she’d hit close to her mark. After coming clean about the whole story with Eliza, Vince had pointedly refrained from talking about her again. Her… and the other woman that her presence created a conflict with.

                “No, nothing new on-” Vince stopped himself mid-sentence, then started again. “Nothing I feel up to talking about.”

                “That’s perfectly alright, Vince. We’ll get there whenever you’re ready.” She had to hand it to him; he’d been doing a much better job of acknowledging subjects he was avoiding instead of pretending there was nothing to discuss. The boy was honest to a fault, and now he was starting to turn some of that truthfulness inward.

                Dr. Moran couldn’t guarantee that Vince would make it through the program, nor did she consider it her job to do so. All she could hope for was that Vince could face his future with a well-adjusted mind, and that she damn sure intended to help him with.