There are many people that a gang could set upon on a night, and even get away the victors. But even with the advantage of numbers, attacking the four tipsy people who'd been weaving down the street has turned out to be very much the wrong decision. Because the four tipsy people are in fact military trained. That they're tipsy barely impedes their reactions. It doesn't take them long to have it over with, breathing a little rushed, faces flushed with adrenaline and grins.
The gang members are in various configurations of "on the ground, defeated". Except for the one that showed any common sense by not joining the fight and declaring surrender even before any of his gang mates was knocked to the ground.
One of the gang members, possibly their leader, is promising all kinds of horrible torture towards the "traitor".
Said traitor is standing still, watching the victors attentively, his face hard to read. His lack of reaction is only causing the possibly-leader to get madder and louder. Too loud for someone that just lost a fight.
The gang's leader says something that sounds awfully close to "dyke".
"You saw me earlier, I think four and a half hours ago. Me and Jeffrey," he points at one of the fallen, "were waiting in an alley and you spotted us and was immediately suspicious of two guys in an alley. By your disapproval I'd guess you subconsciously notice the smell of Jeffrey's cigarettes."
He sounds very confident of his assessments of Aaren's emotions. Less so of his inferences.
Percy smiles back at Aaren.
Then he tenses and appears to dodge an attack from behind before his wound be attacker even moves. Said attacker manages to lift himself up enough to see that Percy changed places and then falls to the ground defeated. Percy's hands go up again.
That reaction would've be hard to pull off even if it was choreographed somehow. The street is too noisy, there was no obvious visual tell even if Percy was looking that way.
"They know where I live and DeLarge would definitely torture me. He has been waiting for an excuse to torture someone for a while."
He doesn't immediately react to the strange reaction times - he's seen more peculiar things, and he's started to get the impression this kid is anything but mundane. "Strath?"
Strath looks up at him. "We'll get the cops to deal with this, Sarge," she assures.
"Thanks," he says gratefully. "Alright, kid, you're with me. C'mon." He jerks his head, and half turns to leave, waiting half a beat to see if he's being followed.
"My house then," Aaren decides. "You might regret that when you realise 'not alone' includes a teenage girl - my daughter 'Chelle - and her best friend Lan on top of that."
He nods to the last. "Clearing the bed probably won't take too long, but if you just want to collapse and sleep, we can make up the sofa."
Percy mentally debates his options and recent nutrient intake. He figures he doesn't need to closely observe Aaren's cooking to balance out vitamins, fibers and fat, but... "Do you want help? I would enjoy helping you cook and I would like to contribute."He turns to Lan and smiles. "Not that I wouldn't like to watch Young Frankenstein, I expect it to be fun."
He takes the cue and seats himself, positioning so he can look at everyone else in the room. He starts eating mechanically, but pays attention to everyone's taking bites of their bowls like they are eating a vastly different and superior meal.
(Unless someone catches him and feels uncomfortable, then he will stop.)
"It's really no trouble," Aaren says as he leads the way up the stairs, and around the landing to the spare room - there's only three doors noticeable off the landing.
The spare room at the end of the hall is small, in a cosy way. There's a bed tucked against the wall behind the door, a bookshelf diagonal to that, with a chair next to it.
"Here we go, all yours."
Percy lets his face relax and soon does the same with his body. Not at easy. More like releasing puppet strings from your grasp.
He forgets his body and lets go from his senses one by one. Letting himself drag deeper into the final sense. He watches as the people in the house through it.
Slowly he drifts off into sleep.
"Dad feeds you, probably figures out what to do with regards to your education, we spend an afternoon redecorating the guest room so it's less impersonal. It's funny movies on a Saturday night, and poker games, sneaking out to the swings with me in the small hours of the morning. It's knowing that even if you leave, we're just a phonecall away if you need us." She shrugs. "Alternatively: it's whatever you want it to be."
'Chelle turns enough to look at him and explains where they're going. It's on a council estate rather than the suburb 'Chelle and her Dad live in.
"I probably don't need to say this, but if things aren't quite right with the house, don't mention it, we're here to irritate Teo, not insult him."
Percy sits and observes.
Trouble in the family? that much is obvious and those are not the right set of emotions for "can't access my phone". There is some plan involved. Maybe.
Paradoxically, Percy is curious about what happened, but in a way where he doesn't find the thing on itself interesting like other people would.
"You want some help?"
"Thanks," Percy says just as quiet.
Then they can watch the misadventures of four spies: The wannabe James Bond, played by an ugly actor with a good looking body-double; the female fatale spy that complains how she can't get a second date (they all die, because of her!); the spy kid played by a 25 year old pretending to be a high schooler; and the janitor that stumbled into a super-secret spy project that turned him into the perfect killing machine.
Aaren clearly has experience working around teenagers munching things in his kitchen while he cooks, and in fact, there's a sense that he likes doing so.
"So," he says as he starts chopping things, "Percy, you given any more thought to what you want to do? You want to stay here, or want us to figure something else out?"
Aaren is quiet for a moment, focused on his chopping, and then he sets his knife aside and turns to lean against the counter. "I feel like you have some idea of what you think we're hiding?"
It's not evasive, and there's no intent to not answer, but Aaren wants to know exactly where he needs to start this explanation.
"That's good to hear," Aaren decides. "I'd like you to have a think about whether you would, logically, benefit from knowing more about yourself, about this? There isn't a right or wrong answer here. If you decide you want to, Ange has a library bigger than this house. If not, well. You're still Percy, and I think we'll like having you around. We certainly have so far."
He thinks for a moment. "Is there a downside to knowing more? It sounds useful in case there is more to it than absorbing emotions and sensing danger." He does not pause. "I should tell you... the absorbing emotions has a moral component to it. And if I am a good company, it's mostly because you are good company."
'Chelle giggles, and navigates them through both doors into the living room, pulling them all down onto the sofa and flopping over Lan and Percy's laps. "Alright, so, as much as I'm against French telenovelas, I figure Lan's going to pout if I don't at least offer to introduce you to them. And I suppose I can spend the entire time judging them."
Aaren eventually meanders in, smells of cooking and baking wafting after him. He squints at the screen, before flopping into the armchair. "So, has Étienne convinced Fleur and Delphine that the love of his life is in fact Gaël? Or are they still intent on dueling each other?"
Aaren can be heard whistling as he fusses around in the kitchen - loading the dishwasher, putting things away (or getting them out? it isn't entirely clear).
Eventually, he reappears in the living room, flicking the lights out, and balancing a cake with lit candles on the other hand - it's nothing special, just a chocolate sponge, but Aaren's iced the words 'Welcome Home Percy' on the top of it.
'Chelle beams. "So, the Ogg family in Pratchett is massive. And they have a variety of ongoing spats. But the minute anyone outside the family becomes involved, the entire Ogg family turns on them like a well-oiled machine. Which is exactly what we're like. With less internal feuding."
The surroundings are quite worthy of admiration! The house is definitely old, but it carries it well, with a definite modern twist to the decorating. Despite a feeling that the hallway should be dimly lit, it is, in fact, bright and airy, with a beautiful chandelier suspended from the ceiling, and banisters around what is obviously the landing of the second floor - the hallway alone might give a sense of scale to the place. It is big.
Angelique and Aaren exchange pleasantries as Angelique leads them along a hall and into what is, very definitely, a library. Rows of shelves can be seen in either direction from the double-doors they enter by. Directly ahead of them, there's a table that does, indeed, have tea and cakes on it.
Aaren waits until Angelique's finished pouring tea before he explains the situation - starting with a vastly abridged version of how he and Percy met, covering the fact that Percy will be staying with him and 'Chelle (and Lan) now, and finally coming to the part about Percy's apparent lack of personal emotions, and the fact that he is a rather impressive empath.
"I will, thank you." Pause. "Anyway. On with the matter of your powers." She waves around her. "My library is...quite extensive, but I can hardly claim that it is comprehensive. We are, almost certainly, missing something. But there's more way than one to find information."