Roxy had been working at the garage for almost five years. It was the closest thing she had ever had to a home and Zed had been the closest thing that she had had to a father. He had named her his benefactor in his will. It was a lost that she would have to find a way to deal with. Everything she had was because of him.
As she went through the letters on Zed desk she found one with her name on it from the Anchor list. It appeared after years of being free to do whatever she wanted to. She was about to be responsible for someone. She wasn't happy about it but she knew she had no choice. Anchors couldn't turn down a match. Empaths were too valuable. At least that was what people told her. She climbed on to her motorcycle and made her way to the address and the empath that would take away everything she cherished.
It was a completely uneventful morning walk, for the morning that uprooted Devika's life.
It was about a fifteen minute walk from her woodland cottage to the place where her mail was delivered. That gave the poor mail clerk time to get in and out before the unanchored empath took her walk. In her three years there had been only a few close calls - a lost group of campers once and a very aggravated bear the other time. Mostly, she took her weekly walk unhindered and alone. She liked it that way.
Today was just another day. She went through the stack of mail, tossing junk and flyers that somehow still reached her out here. There was her stipend check from the government, her reward for living off the map but on record. Then there was another, thicker envelope with the same official seal. More money, perhaps? Maybe her yearly health check was early?
She tore open the letter with a fingernail and read it, dread increasing in her belly and startling off animals for a half-mile radius. After all this time, they found her an Anchor? It seemed like a joke. What wasn't a joke was the date - this letter was almost 2 weeks old! And the date of arrival was... today?!
She headed back to the house at a jog, desperately trying to remember if she had any spare sheets.
Roxy debated stopping to get a moving truck. She was supposed to move the empath into the city. They were supposed to lived together until the formed a bound strong enough for the empath to be protected from the emotions of others. She was hesitant about that part. From what she had read the stronger the relationship between empath and anchor stronger the shield which allowed the empath to live among the population. But Roxy hadnt had many relationships so she didnt see that one happening quickly. Which meant that she was going to have make room for a stranger in her life and that wasn't going easy.
Eventually she decided to wait. She needed to know how much the empath had before getting a truck. Besides not getting the truck meant that she could ride her bike longer. She had no desire to be in an enclosed space any sooner than she had to. She followed her gps until she reached the house where the empath lived. She knew nothing about the woman inside except her name.
Roxy looked around as put the kickstand down. She couldn't imagine living here. She was a city girl. She had lived her whole life on the rough side of town. Out here she would be bored out of her mind. Luckily out here the empath was useless here so they would have to go back to the city eventually. She made her way up to the door. She took a deep breath before knocking. This moment would change her life forever.
The door opened without a question, the usual 'who is it' or any variation. Devika stood there with her arms full of sheets, her brown eyes staring behind her glasses. She looked the other, skinny woman up and down, with an absence of expression on her face.
"Didn't get the letter until this afternoon. The government's timely as usual." With that as a greeting, she backed up from the door and headed down the hall. "I'm still setting up your area. Just... put your things anywhere, I guess." Her voice vanished down the hall.
Her cabin was small, but in a cozy way. She had pictures on the wall, a little living area with a cozy couch, some thriving houseplants and a kitchen area. All tidy, but not spotless, just - lived-in.
Devika herself was making up the spare bed with something close to anger. Not true anger, she didn't let herself feel that way anymore. Just a bitter tang of annoyance at having to do this at all, not to mention having to do it so fast. Almost 6 years all alone, and now suddenly she had to get an Anchor? Wasn't she just fine, alone? Why did she need to be 'normal'?
She had a plug-in fan running in the room to try and clear out the dust, and had shoved her collective junk into a closet. She had no idea what this woman ate, or didn't, or how she slept, or how the heck they would be getting along. She snapped the covers taut with a huff and folded them over, and sneezed. "Ugh. All of this sucks."
Roxy hadn't know what she had been expecting but it hadn't been the person who had opened the door. She was used to being dismissed but not like this. Her understanding was that most empaths were eager to rejoin society. Apparently hers was one of the few who didn't want to rush back because no sooner than Roxy enter the small house than the other woman rushed off saying something about setting up space.
Curious she followed the empath down the hall. The woman seemed to be straightening a spare room. Roxy leaned against the door frame and watched for a few minutes. At least her empath was interesting. That wouldn't make fitting the woman into her already complicated life any easier. "I couldn't agree more." Roxy commented when the other woman mumbled that this sucks. Apparently she wasn't the only one not welcoming this sudden change in her life.
"I am guessing from your actions that you didn't take the time to read the letter. I am not staying here. You are moving into to town." Roxy clarified. She hadn't packed anything because she hadn't thought she had needed to. She was under the impression that the empath would be ready to go when she arrived. She didn't mind staying a few hours while the woman packed. She could probably even manage a couple of days. But no more than that.
Devika stopped, with her arms full of sheets, staring directly at the other woman. "W-what? You're... no, you're joking. The letter says you're supposed to come here -" She dropped everything right on the floor and stomped down the hall, snatching up the letter and starting to read. "...To miss Jones, your selected anchor, blah blah, morning of today, blah blah blah, rehabilitated into society - month trial run rent paid apartment no-" As she read aloud, the words started to stumble over each other, as her tongue tripped over the realization. "Oh no, no I- I can't go back, it's been too long. I-- I can't be around people, I can't - I can't, they said I was too young when I started, and now too old to Anchor, and - and-"
She wasn't breathing now, sweat starting to bead on her forehead. "I can't go back to the city."
Roxy had heard that empath were fragile. Those who didn't find an anchor within their family and friends were more so. She wasn't known for her comforting nature. She had no idea how to help the empath deal with this. So she went with blunt. They didnt have time for anything else.
"Breath!" She snapped at the other woman. "Panicking isnt going to do either of us any good." Roxy didn't know what Devika was so upset about. But the empath's fear was real. "You have no choice Devika. Empaths are a rare. You're a commodity." Inwardly she flinched. That made the other woman sound more like an object rather than a person but in a way it was true.
"The government has paid for your upkeep since you went into isolation. They expect you to pay them back." Roxy explained. They had no choice. They were expected to return to the city and Devika was expected to find her place among the populous. She had no idea how to make this easier for the empath.
"Look it isnt as if you're going to be thrust into the middle of time square on New Years. I'm not exactly a social person. You'll have a chance to get used to society slowly." Roxy assured the other woman. It was really all she had to offer the empath.
Devika had her hands clutched to her head, but this woman's sharp voice cut right through the panic surrounding her. She could feel her irritation, solid as a rock in a river. "That's..." She inhaled slow, filled her lungs, and let the breath expand her as she'd been taught. "I have to go. You're right." She breathed again, and again, shoving her panic down.
"They expect me to be useful. And I can see my parents again, too." She smiled weakly, staring at Roxy. "You really are immune to me, huh? That's so crazy. I don't feel my emotions rebounding from you at all."
Slowly she raised up, shaking off the last vestiges of panic. Somehow the firm reprimand had set her mind back into place. "Thank you. You were Roxy, right? I'm Devika. It's going to take me some time to pack. I could have it all done by tonight, I think. There's leftovers in the fridge if you want to eat something." She couldn't remember much else about having people over. "Uh. I'll start packing, then."
Roxy flinched when Devika mentioned her parents. She had figure that would be one of the first things the empath would want to do. After being isolated from the world for some many years most people would want to see family. She had no idea how she would deal with meeting with the empath's family but she would figure it out. "Yes I am immune to you. I also create a bubble that will dampen the emotions you experience from others. Not enough that you can't work in the law enforcement field but enough that you won't be overwhelmed."
Roxy sighed when Devika indicated it would take time for her to pack. Just what she needed. She had a business to get back to. She hide her irritation. The other woman had indicated that she had just gotten the letter stating that this was happening. It wasn't the empath's fault that she wasn't ready to go. "It's fine. I'll help you pack. Tomorrow I will go rent a truck but I need an idea of what size you need first."
Staying wasn't ideal but there wasn't any choice. Luckily Roxy worked for herself and set her own hours. This extra time wouldn't cost her anything. She would just have to feel the time with something other than work and practice. She supposed getting to know Devika was the most logical thing to do. They would have to live together for awhile so she needed to know how the empath was going to fit into her life.
Devika exhaled slow, and nodded. "You're very nice, to help. Most of what I have is books, honestly." And that was the truth. Devika had little in the way of possessions. She used to have more, but donated or threw away most of it when she moved away. Clothes and shoes, and lots and lots of books, mostly.
She started to pack. Luckily, she had a lot of old boxes from her initial move-in. Also luckily, the furniture there was more or less rented. Aside from the actual bedsheets and the electronics, most of the cabin was staying in the cabin. Devika packed and worked, unable to say much to the new stranger in her space. Her mind was still too full of possibilities - and fear.
Soon, sundown was sliding through the windows. She had a hall full of boxes and a few more large things.
"Uh, miss Roxy. You can... spend the night here, I guess. I haven't taken the sheets off the beds. They are clean."
Roxy snorted when Devika said that she was nice. She wasn't nice. She didng have a nice bone in her body. She couldn't not if she wanted to survive the world she lived in. She wasn't sure how the empath would fair. It would take some time for them to adjust to one another. She would have to give up things that mattered to her at least for a little while. Part of her didn't mind. She was glad to be able to help someone who needed it.
"I'll stay here tonight it's easier. In the morning I'll go get a moving van so that we can load up the stuff that you want to take with you." Roxy helped moved the boxes. She made it so they can go through the halls. She placed the objects in order according to size as much as possible. She wanted to make it as easy to load the van in the morning as possible.
It wasn't idea. She had never slept in place that was so quiet. Luckily she had her phone. Normally a place this far out wouldn't have good signal but empaths had to be able to stay connected to society and support themselves while they waited for an achor so Roxy was sure she would be able to listen to so music. Anything was better than silence. She hated ssilence almost as much as she hated enclosed places.
Luckily, the wifi in Devika's cabin was excellent. It was the only way she could stay connected to the people in her life - her family, mostly, and a few online friends. She made sure Roxy had the password. She packed as well, working hard all day and then stopping when it got dark. It was strange, how the other woman seemed to be bristly and tough, and yet exceptionally organized.
"I guess we'll finish up in the morning. Thank you for your help. I truly appreciate it."
As she settled into bed, she realized how much she'd miss the quiet. The soft chatter of animals, bugs, the glittering stars out of her window at night. All of those things would be gone.
Roxy shrugged. She didn't think she had done anything special. Just lined up some boxes. It would make loading the truck tomorrow easier. She settled down on the bed. It was too quiet. She hated the quiet. He pulled out her phone and pulled out her phone. She plugged her head phones on and turned on some music. And much as she hated sleeping with headphones, because they would come out at some point during the night, she needed something. She couldn't stand the silence.
She tossed and turned all night. Occasionally she would whimper. The sound was so soft most people won't hear it. Nightmares making sleep nearly impossible. Eventually she gave up. Nightmares were one of the reasons she lived alone. She never shared space with anyone before and doing so was going to be a challenge. She wasn't the type to trust lightly. And now she was going to have a stranger in the middle of her world.
Devika woke up bright and early, making a double pot of coffee and playing soothing music through her headphones as she started up breakfast. She could feel the other woman's presence, but not her emotions. It was odd - she knew that Roxy was there but there was nothing else. Was this what regular people felt all the time?
Fifteen minutes had a big breakfast on the table. Scrambled eggs, milk, toast and even some sausage. It would be easier to pack up the fridge if they ate well. She set out her plate, and almost forgot to set a second place for Roxy. This was going to be... so odd.
She went to her spare room, peeking in to see if Roxy was awake. She seemed half-asleep, so she padded away again to start packing. It was early still, but she'd gotten used to rising as the sun did. More time for packing.
Meanwhile, the glorious scent of fresh coffee and food filled the little house.
Roxy was awake when Devika looked into the room she was staying in. She simply chose to act like she wasn't awake. She had no idea how she was going to deal with having someone in her life. She had been alone a long time. Even before she was old enough to move out. Once the other woman left Roxy slid out of bed. She got dress in her leather pants and black t-shirt. She didn't pull the jacket on just yet.
She made her way out of the rooms. She hesitated at the kitchen. She had no interest in breakfast. The coffee smelled good but she could get that later. "I am going to run into town and rent a moving van. I shouldn't be gone very long." She explained. It was awkward to have to explain her plans to someone else. Even though those plans involved that other person. Roxy was used to doing what she wanted when she wanted.
"Oh, okay." Devika looked a bit disappointed, but then shrugged. "I suppose I'll save breakfast for you." She grinned vaguely before sitting down. Sure, this was going just great. As soon as Roxy was gone, the smile faded.
"This is going to be... a chore." She tucked into her meal with a disappointed sigh, and drained 2 mugs of coffee. Once she was done, she put away Roxy's share in the microwave. Then she got up and started back to work. Packing things away, and then cleaning up afterward.
Roxy didn't hear Devika's disappointment. Mostly because she was trying to avoid an awkward scene. Which was sort of pointless. There was going to be awkwardness. She wasn't a social person and Devika hadn't had a chance to interact in years. Neither of them was going to be good at small talk.
She jumped onto her bike and headed to town. She tired to think of a way to fit the empath into her life. It wasn't going to be easy. Even though anchors and empaths did it all the time. Her life was alittle more complicated than most peoples.
Roxy rented a truck big enough to store her bike in. The man at the rental place tried to rent her a trailer stating she would never get her bike into the van but she proved him wrong. Once her bike was inside the van she climbed back inside and headed back to the house.
Even with the windows rolled down she had to fight claustrophobia the whole drive. Which only made her mood worse. The last thing she wanted to do was to take her anger out on Devika but she didn't know how to keep that from happening when she had no way to vent it out here.
Devika heard the van rolling up, the noise of it almost unnatural in her sanctuary. She taped up the box of books she was working on, and rose up to meet her. She could see, even through the front window, that Roxy was not alright.
"Um..." Devika put the box down on the ground, and quickly rushed to her side. "You look ill. Do you want some water or anything?" She wasn't sure what to do besides that, so she took a deep breath and focused on calm. A slow, soothing wave of emotion poured out from her, and it was a strong one. It could probably stop a fight if it ever needed to. But right now, she just wanted to make Roxy feel a bit better. She was pale looking and sweaty, and Devika was worried that she'd faint or something.
"I am fine." Roxy had to force herself not to growl at Devika. It wasn't the woman's fault that she was struggling. Not really. Now that she was out of the van she felt like she could breathe again. She froze as strange emotion hit her. It was almost calming. It wasn't like anything that she had experienced before. While to reduced her tension and made her feel calmer she wasn't sure that she liked it.
"Do not do that again." She glared at the empath. She had fight to long to get control of her life. She wasn't going to give it up. Not even something as an emotion that she didn't want to feel. While Devika might be trying to help Roxy did not like that the other woman took that from her. They need to understand each other and one thing that Roxy wanted clear right aways was that no one controlled by anyone.
"Oh, right." Devika flinched slightly, and backed away. "Sorry. I didn't mean anything by it, I was just trying to help." She managed a weak half smile before sighing softly.
"I am not going to use my powers on you without permission. I understand that now. I really am sorry." She went back inside without another word, going right back to boxing things up. Inwardly, she was cursing herself. She'd been so sure that she was helpful that she didn't even stop to think and ask for permission. And they were supposed to be working together. Roxy was right to be angry, it was just as intrusive as touching someone without their say, which Devika hated. She continued to work in silence, until she had several stacks of boxes just waiting to be put in the van.