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Sep 22, 2019 7:17 PM
change the way the story's told
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Kaleva hugs him. "It's okay. They're not going to send you back for not understanding how to subtract fractions."

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Being hugged is nice. "And it's not even like I don't know that, I know they're not going to send me back for being bad at this one kind of math, but it's not just subtracting fractions, it's everything, and —" 

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"It's everything?"

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He pulls his hair again. 

"Not everything everything — I understand the social studies and English questions fine I just can't —" 

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"Hey, hey, it's okay." Kaleva hugs him. "Probably I messed up designing the curriculum, because I designed it when I was sixteen. We can take a break so you aren't overwhelmed and then you can try to talk me through it in a bit, okay?"

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"Okay." 

He's not sure that'll help, but. He moves into Kaleva's lap. 

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He rubs Sasha's back. "You're going to be fine. You can, I don't know, get a job as a masseuse at the bathhouse and write science fiction novels on the side and it turns out none of that requires the ability to subtract fractions."

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"I bet it requires the ability to know what I'm being asked for, and the ability to sit down and get things done." 

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"--I'm sorry. I am bad at people. I don't know what thing to say to be comforting."

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"You don't have to," he says, and trips over his words for a moment before landing on "You're my people." 

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"Okay. I think-- I might be able to help if I understand what the problem is?"

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"We can try, anyway." He doesn't get out of Kaleva's lap. 

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He kisses Sasha's shoulder. "What does 'can't sit down and get things done' look like?"

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"Like, with the Remedial Goodness book, I'd tell myself 'okay, I'm going to do the reading in five minutes,' and then three hours would pass and I wouldn't have done the reading, or I'd put it next to me and say 'I'm going to do the reading as soon as I'm done with my English' and then I'd get distracted tracking down a poem and wouldn't read it, or —" 

Another, sharper hairpull. 

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"Is it because the subject is boring and sucks or--"

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"No. It's like that with all my classes, that was just the first example I thought of." 

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"Sounds like-- some kind of brain problem. Like the thing that makes things start isn't there. Was it that way when you were on the Isle?"

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"Sometimes? But the things got done, because if I didn't do them I'd starve or I wouldn't have a gang anymore or —" 

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"I don't know how you feel about mind control but one thing we could do is try to find a fairy to help. --It wouldn't have to be, like, 'now you're blissed out and you can't think', fairies can get rid of seizures or make people smarter."

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"...I'm not definitely against mind control but I don't think I trust a fairy." 

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"--Uh, part-fairy, the mortal ones with human personalities, I'm not going to subject you to the tender mercies of Fairy Godmother or you might stop wanting to kiss me."

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"You'd better not," he says, but there's no heat in it. "But I don't think I trust the part human ones either." 

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"All right. Would it help if I sat and talked you through it?"

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"...maybe? I don't know." 

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"We can try that, and if that doesn't work we can try something else, and if nothing works you can always be my sex slave."

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