Nurse Melanie insists on examining them all once the strange building disappears. Jessica, of course, is proclaimed 'overtaxed' and has to remain in the infirmary overnight; the rest are dismissed to their dorms. Roxis insists on accompanying Vayne back to his room, complaining the whole time about how this whole ordeal has cut into his studying time and that it'll be all Vayne's fault if he fails. Vayne suspects that it's all for show, but he lets Roxis rant and once he's run out of steam, apologizes for the trouble.
"Well. It's not really something that was under your control, now was it?" Roxis flashes a rare smile. "I'll forgive you if you promise to show me how to synthesize a Shining Grail. It's almost certain to be included in the final exams." He claps Vayne on the shoulder as they reach the hallway where their paths split. "I'd better see you in the workshop bright and early tomorrow morning. There's no time to lose."
Vayne smiles faintly at Roxis' retreating back. More and more lately, Roxis has been actually friendly to him, not just because his Mana was forcing him. To think, he'd nearly missed out on seeing Roxis unbend...
Sulpher's meow reminds him that he's standing in the middle of a hallway. "Oh yeah. Sorry. I bet you're tired, aren't you?" When they get to their room Vayne goes to the closet to dig out the cat bed Nikki had given him the previous year. Sulpher usually prefers sleeping on Vayne's bed with him but Vayne doesn't think he's going to be sleeping any time soon. Rather than disturb Sulpher with his tossing and turning he sets up the cushion by the window. Sulpher sniffs it disdainfully but eventually settles down and falls asleep quickly.
Vayne, though, is too wired to sleep. He gives up after an hour and decides to wander around campus for a while. His first stop is the workshop - he's pretty sure they didn't clean out the cauldron before venturing into that strange dungeon. It's been scraped recently, though, and he can smell the cleaner that Anna uses. Of course she would be the one to think of coming here and taking care of their equipment.
The halls are quiet, which isn't surprising at this time of night. The lights are off in all the rooms he passes in the main building so he goes outside. Most of the buildings around him are also dark, except for a light shining in one window nearby. He recognizes it as the infirmary, and having left it not long ago, he knows that Jessica's the only patient.
Opening the door reveals that the nurse must have gone to her room for the night, so Vayne clears his throat to get Jess's attention. "Is...is someone there?"
Satisfied that she's awake, Vayne sticks his head around the curtain. "Hi Jess."
"Vayne!" She sits up and gestures him over to the side of the bed. "Are you ok? How are you feeling?"
Vayne laughs, embarrassed, and runs a hand through his hair. "Shouldn't I be asking you that? You're the one in the infirmary."
Jess giggles. "I'm fine, really. Nurse Melanie just worries about me because of my condition." She frowns, remembering. "Vayne, how could you do that to us? Don't you know how much we would all miss you if you disappeared?"
Vayne squirms. Now that he doesn't have that voice in his head or that power throbbing in his veins he can think more rationally. "I...don't really know what I was thinking," he admits. "That other me, I used to hear him in my head. He wasn't very nice."
"Oh Vayne." Jessica grabs his hand and squeezes it. "Why didn't you tell us sooner? We could have helped you."
Vayne nearly misses her question, distracted by the warmth of Jess's hands around his. "Um. I don't know. Like I said, I wasn't really thinking straight. I mean, I was ok until Ms. Isolde told me that I wasn't hu- told me the whole story about my dad. And then once I knew I couldn't really think about anything else. Just about the power I had and what I'd done with it, and how dangerous I was."
"You're not dangerous," she yells, yanking on his arm for emphasis. "You won't even hurt Tony and Renee when they're trying to mess us up!"
"Owww..." Vayne rubs his arm. "I know, it's just...like I said, I wasn't really in control. But now that it's gone, all that power, I think I'll be better."
Jess smiles, making his stomach do a little flip. "That's good. It means you'll be able to work on curing me, right?"
"Uh, yeah. Of course, Jess." He can feel a blush rising on his cheeks as she pulls him in for a hug. "Anything you say."
"Anything?" she echoes, letting him go so he can see her eyes sparkle. "You'll let me do all the syntheses I want? I haven't had a chance to work with some of the new materials we've been gathering!"
Vayne can't hide his dismay at the prospect of letting Jessica loose in the workshop. "I don't know, Jess. If you blow up anything else the VP may expel you for real this time. And we're so close to graduating..."
Jess bursts out laughing. "You're so gullible, Vayne! I don't want to get into any more trouble at school." She runs her hand up his arm and brushes the backs of her fingers against his cheek. "Hey, where should we live after we graduate? It's got to be somewhere you can find a lot of alchemy materials."
Ducking his head away shyly, Vayne shrugs. "I don't know much about living outside of Al-Revis. I mean, I was just living in a forest somewhere with Sulpher when the teacher found me."
Jess tilts her head, thinking about the possibilities. "Hmmm...when I first got sick, my parents took me to Athlum because there were a lot of medical people there. That could be a good place to start. We'd have to check with Nikki, Flay, and Roxis, though, since they're going to help too, right? And Anna, when she graduates."
"Yeah. I'm sure with all of you deciding, we'll find somewhere good to live." They sit in companionable silence for a few moments, Vayne watching Jess out of the corner of his eye. He's gathering his courage to take her hand again when she yawns widely, ruining his plans. "Hey, you need to rest," he tells her. "Roxis and I are going to be studying in the workshop pretty early tomorrow. Come by when the nurse lets you out, ok?"
With a bright smile she promises to meet them, then reaches out for another hug, a longer one this time. Vayne's unable to resist stroking Jess's hair, just a little bit, and it's as soft as it looks. Flustered, he stands and clasps his hands behind his back. "Well, uh, good night," he stammers as he flees the room.
"Oh Vayne," Jess murmurs. "You'll figure it out soon enough."
The Mana of Wind pops into the room with a soft snap, doing backflips over the empty bed opposite Jess. "I don't know about that," it replies, darting towards her, then away again. "He's not the most observant guy around."
Jess lies down, arranging her hair across the pillow. "Don't worry," she responds with a grin. "I'll give him all the help he needs."