Ty could not help but feel a little worried. He was to leave the Los Angeles Institute in three days to start his training at the Scholomance. He was not distressed about that, his decision had been made and it was final.
What had him concerned was the change in Julian’s behavior that Ty had noticed in the past week. He seemed to be either lurking about, or avoiding him, and had started to bite his nails again. Something he had stopped doing since he had started dating Emma.
Ty was almost certain it had nothing to do with Julian’s relationship with her. After all, Emma had appeared to be in high spirits over the past few days, smiling broadly at Ty when she came across him in the corridors, and even winking, as if they shared a private joke.
Ty made the decision to confront Julian about it. As Julian was pacing in front of his bedroom, Ty opened the door, startling him, and invited him in. Julian seemed both relieved and anxious.
“You are leaving for the Scholomance in three days,” Julian started to say, stating the obvious. He moved to sit on Ty’s bed and, in a sudden movement, seemed to think better of it and stood.
Ty was beginning to feel really anxious himself, he had not seen Julian in such a state in a while.
“I am. I hope you have not changed your mind about me going…” he started to say.
“No, no, of course not. I respect your choice,” interrupted Julian. “It’s just that… You are going to meet people outside the family circle. Make new friends. And, maybe, someday, one of them will become more than a friend…”
“Like a Parabatai? We are not…”
“NO ! CERTAINLY NOT LIKE A PARABATAI !”
“... allowed a Parabatai at the Scholomance. Why is your face so red?”
“My face is not red. Well, anyway, no, that is not what I meant.”
Julian took a deep shuddering breath. It did not change the color of his face, which was, straight to the tips of his ears, a deep shade of crimson.
“So, I guess you’ve seen a lot of documentaries on animals. And maybe... animal reproduction?” he chanced. In an absent gesture, he ran his paint-spotted hand through his hair, his shell and sea-glass bracelets making a clicking noise as he did. He seemed to be in pain. Ty was starting to feel really bad for him.
“Not really. I have read about it, though.”
“Ok. Sure. Makes sense. So…”
“Julian? Are you trying to have the “sex talk” with me ?”
“What ? No... I mean yes... Wait- who told you about that ?”
“Don’t bother Julian ... Mark beat you to it two weeks ago.”
“WHAT ? What do you mean ?”
“Well we were playing a video game and he suddenly paused, in the middle of it, and told me that violence was not the only way of life, that as much as the body could cause pain, so could it bring pleasure. It was a very long conversation and I was really looking forward to going back to the game but I didn’t want to upset him. I had already defeated him three times.”
“He told you ... how?”
“Well, he showed me, using two of Emma’s teddy bears. Not that it was all news to me, but I let him have his moment. He even drew a few things to illustrate his point. His drawings are certainly not as good as yours but they did the job.”
Julian clapped his hand over his forehead. “Drawing ! Why didn’t I think of that ?”
“He even showed me how to put on a condom.”
“He did WHAT ?”
“He showed me. With a cucumber.”
“And WHAT did he do with the cucumber after that ?”
“He ate it of course.”
“I wish Mark had told me,” said Julian, leaning against the kitchen counter. “It would have saved me from a few sleepless nights…”
Aline smiled and waved her wooden spoon at him. “I was feeling bad for you... I almost gave Tiberius the sex talk myself. I am happy Mark did, though. A much better choice than either of us anyway.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Well, you and I only know how to please women. Mark also knows how to please men.”
And with that, Aline winked and went back to cooking her frittata.
Tiberius was sitting on his bed, leaning against the headboard, his headphones on.
He was glad he had cleared out the situation with Julian. Why was everyone so worked up about this? It was not as if he planned for anything to happen at the Scholomance.
After all, he had never thought of anyone in that way, never wanted anyone in that way… Is that so? said a little voice in his head.
He increased the volume of the music playing in his headphones - Vivaldi, Le Quattro Stagioni, Violin Concerto in G Minor, Op. 8 No. 2, RV 315 "Summer": III, Presto, by Camille Berthollet - until it was blasting in his ears. He started rocking on his bed, squeezing his eyes shut, but it did not help. Fiery blue eyes were staring at him, as if they were printed under his eyelids.