> I pointed out the flaws in his logic cuz he assumed I was a fucking moron, apparently he crumples when you raise your voice
> Why do you even care
Aaron almost vocalized his groan that time. Could Max not guess?
He hit the nail on the head back in the woods, for stars’ sake. But if he had to explain it, how could he word it so that Max wouldn’t brush him off out of spite and get both Varis and
Eris mad at him? > Believe it or not, Eris’ problems tend to become my problems.
> Besides, it’s… weird. He seems genuinely concerned about you. I honestly didn’t think he had it in him.
There, hopefully that got the message across well enough. It was a hard balance to strike between genuine concern and ‘flippant enough not to freak Max out’, but it was one he’d have to learn to master if he was going to get anywhere with him. Good lord, though; Aaron actually liked Max (albeit for reasons that eluded him) but walking yet another tightrope was a headache he didn’t need. “Mister…”
As if on cue, a sudden voice made Aaron look up from his phone to see a plump woman with chestnut brown hair in the doorway, dressed professionally in a lab coat and A-line skirt and reading a chart. Squinting at the page, she pulled a set of turquoise glasses down from the top of her head, blinking for a moment before her eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Oh! Mr. Starag!”
Looking a little bit flustered, she perked up immediately, dropping her clipboard to her side and approaching Aaron’s chair with an outstretched hand. Aaron stood to shake it and she looked a little surprised, smiling brightly up at him. “A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Starag. My name is Dr. Ogden, though most people call me Shelley.”
Aaron returned her smile with one of his own, nodding as they each sat back down in their respective chairs, with the doctor glancing back at her clipboard on the table. “Nice to meet you, Dr. Ogden. Most people call me Aaron,”
he chuckled, before quickly clearing his throat. “I hope this doesn’t seem rude, but I usually see Dr. Adad. Does she have the night off?”“Hmm…”
Shelley looked pensive for a moment, tapping the end of a pen on her clipboard before shaking her head. “Oh, no. She only does appointment visits. Otherwise it’s me and Dr. Jameson who do walk-ins.”“Ah, I suppose that makes sense.”
Aaron gave the doctor a nod, making a mental note of the difference. Truth be told, he’d never realized there was a distinction, but he supposed that was yet another pitfall of his upbringing. They were piling up fast, it seemed. He wasn’t sure how comfortable he was making any more people than necessary aware of his medical history, but he supposed it couldn’t be helped. “Yep! Don’t worry though, I’ll take good care of you.”
Shelley gave him a jovial smile and a wink before sliding down her glasses once more and reading down her clipboard. “So… it says here you’re in for a bit of an injury,”
she said slowly, before turning back to Aaron. “Let’s take a look at that, shall we?”“Oh, of course.”
Aaron moved to the examination table and pulled off his shirt, revealing the tortoiseshell pattern of welts on his arms and shoulders, the oldest of which were just starting to darken from red to purple. Shelley stood to examine them, looking at them closely and very gently prodding and pulling the skin. An expression Aaron could only describe as ‘mildly troubled’ crossed her face as she backed away a bit, but whatever was bothering her, she didn’t comment on it.
Sitting back in her chair, she raised her glasses and wrote a few notes on her clipboard before turning back to Aaron, hands in her lap. “Well, looks like nothing too serious. We’ll have you fixed up in a jiffy.”
She gestured for Aaron to return to his chair, glancing back at her clipboard. “Now, it says here you have a biiit of a dependency on life magic. That won’t be an issue, but it just changes how we handle things a bit. Nothing you need to be concerned about, though.”
She smiled. “Is there anything else you want to address before we start? Aches, pains, anything? ‘Cause it’s best if we do it all in one go.” “A bit of a headache is all,”
Aaron replied, “although I do have something for you.”
Producing the envelope Varis had given him, he handed it to the doctor, who seemed surprised to be holding something bearing a noble seal.
Breaking it, she took a moment to pull out the letter and read the contents, expression falling as she did. “Uh-huh…”
Aaron tilted his head. “Is something unclear?”
Shelley shook her head, brow knitted together as she read the page a few more times. “Not really, just… a little out of the ordinary,”
she replied hesitantly, tossing the letter and envelope in her trash bin like it was something dirty. She took a deep breath, closing her eyes for a moment. When she was done, she perked up, wiggling her fingers. “Alright, let’s get this show on the road then. Just do me a favour and relax...”
She wheeled her chair closer to Aaron’s and placed one hand on his shoulder, the other on his forearm, closing her eyes. Immediately Aaron felt a comforting warmth wash over him, a familiar sensation almost like being submerged in warm water. The tension left his shoulders and the throbbing in his arm subsided, his headache melting away along with it. He felt his phone buzz in his pocket, but he didn’t really care.
He let out a long breath as the doctor did her work, though he was a little disappointed to find that it ended earlier than he expected. “Alright, all done!”
Aaron opened his eyes skeptically, glancing down at his arms. For a moment, he wasn’t really sure what he was seeing; there were still some brownish-yellow shadows where the bruises had been, not nearly as dark as before but still noticeable. For a moment he even thought he might just have been dirty, but that made no sense. “Pardon me, but… we’re done?”
he asked hesitantly, gesturing with his arms.
Shelley looked just as displeased with her work as Aaron was, but she sighed. “Yeah, I’m sorry. It said in the letter to just fade them rather than completely heal them,”
she replied, displeasure clear in her voice. “I think that maybe used to be a treatment for dependency, but it’s outdated. Still, rules are rules I suppose.”
Aaron nodded, casting one more exasperated glance at his arms before pulling his shirt back on. He doubted it was an outdated treatment - more likely, Varis didn’t want him to forget his shameful
fragility too quickly - but he’d let her believe that. “That’s true,”
Standing, he shook the doctor’s hand again, the two exchanging pleasantries until Aaron remembered something. “Oh, my Master did want me to ask about… resistance?”
Shelley raised an eyebrow, looking puzzled. “Um… ‘resistance’?”
she asked incredulously, “Is there… something more specific?”
Aaron nearly sighed, knowing what he was about to request was ridiculous. “My Master is curious whether there’s some way to develop ‘resistance’ to things like this,”
he explained, shrugging his arms again. “Ah,”
Shelley looked decidedly unimpressed, releasing a nervous laugh before shaking her head. “I think your, um…”
she tried, wrinkling her nose in distaste and lowering her voice a bit. “I think maybe he’s overestimating life magic a bit.”
Yeah, no kidding. Aaron could have told him that, but it was better to get the information from authority. He gave the doctor a sympathetic smile, offering her a nod. “No problem,”
he assured her. “Good evening.”
He thanked the receptionist on the way out, and turned sharply out the door in the direction of the campus post office. As he walked, he pulled his phone out of his pocket, finally reading a reply from Max. > He’s making a big deal out of nothing, you’re better off ignoring it
Ha! Aaron almost laughed. Just ignore it? If only anything were that simple!> Ha, ha. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you I don’t really have that luxury.
Still, it was probably unwise to keep pushing it if he wanted any hope at all of getting on Max’s good side. All the same to him; he didn’t need another headache tonight. > But, fine. Good luck with all that. Let me know if there's anything I can do.