Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Dec 29, 2007

Cold Blood: Sheen and Haden

THUMP. THUMP. THUMP. Haden winced as spikes of pain shot through his skull. Someone was hammering on the door. He considered shouting at them to go away, but the agony he knew would result didn’t seem worth the effort. Fighting down nausea, he climbed off the bed and opened the door. This turned out to be a poor choice as well, because the hallway was brightly lit. Haden cringed and Sheen glared at him.

“Are you still in bed? I thought you were going to go get us another invitation to that party thing,” she declared without preamble.

“Not . . . not right now,” he said with an effort.

“What do you mean, not right now? What’s wrong with you? Are you hung over again?”

“Oh, how I wish,” Haden said, stumbling back to the bed and lying down again, his back towards the door. Refusing to take the hint, Sheen walked right in, sitting down on the end of the bed. Haden fought down the nausea again.

“What’s wrong with you?” Sheen demanded for the second time. “If you’re sick, maybe Thea can help or something . . .”

“No,” Haden hissed. “Thea can’t help. Nothing helps. Even drugs barely take the edge off. Just go away. I have to wait until it goes away on its own.”

“So you are sick?”

“No, I’m not sick. This is perfectly normal . . . for me.” Haden was startled to feel her begin rubbing his back. Oddly, the contact caused no pain. He sighed.

“What do you mean?” Sheen asked, her voice soft and gentle.

“Do you know what I am?”

“Well . . . no. I didn’t think it was important. So you’re a little . . . odd-looking. Who cares?”

“A lot of people around here are Planetouched . . . that means that one or the other of their parents is descended from a planar being of some sort. Most Planetouched are either Tieflings or Aasimar . . . their parent had either fiendish blood, or celestial blood. I’m both. My mother . . . my mother is fiendish, and my father is celestial.”

“That can’t be very common,” Sheen said.

“No . . . as far as I know, I’m the only one. The two parts of my heritage . . . don’t get along very well. I get terrible headaches, nausea, the light hurts, noise hurts . . .”

“Why didn’t you just say that from the beginning?” Sheen asked. She was still rubbing his back. It felt . . . good.

“It’s not important.”

“Not important? It’s debilitating! Is that why . . .”

“Yes,” Haden hissed between his teeth. “That’s why the drink, and the drugs . . . a hangover is better than this. It doesn’t always work, though.”

“You should have just told us.”

“I don’t like people to think that I’m . . . weak. That I’m a liability.”

“You think you’d play it up to get women,” Sheen said. Haden could hear the smile in her voice. He snorted, then winced.

“Ow.” He sighed. “You think I’m easy? That I’d sleep with anybody?”

“You certainly act like it. I wish I could do something to help you. I know what it must be like.”

“No, you don’t. I appreciate the sentiment, but you don’t know what it’s like. It’s always the same. You start out pitying me. Then it starts becoming a problem. You’ll find yourself wondering just how pathetic I am to be so debilitated by a little headache. Then you’ll start to despise me.”

“No,” Sheen said. “When I . . . when Gyderic turned against the Council, they thought I was involved. They . . . shredded my mind, to get at the truth. Tore me to pieces. It was months before the pain started to recede. I couldn’t see straight, I could hardly keep food down . . . the slightest noise was like a spike in my brain. I don’t know how I survived. So I know just how ‘little’ these headaches of yours are. I really do wish I could do something. Watching someone struggle with pain is not a pleasant sensation.”

“Thank you.”

“I’m sorry I’ve been so judgmental.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

Sheen frowned, thinking. “You know, maybe there is something I can do.”

“Like zap me with your powers, or something?”

“No, nothing like that. But I can try to teach you some meditations . . . the mental discipline of psionics may help you with the pain. I can’t promise any results, mind you . . .”

“If it takes my mind off of my misery, I’m all for it.”

Sheen smiled. “All right. We’ll start tomorrow, then. When you’re feeling better.”

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