It's an ordinary Friday night in November; cold and rainy, but the apartment they're in these days has good baseboard heaters, and Erik's got enough blankets on his bed that he's never cold. Tonight he's anything but cold, and even one blanket seems like too many. He shifts and squirms on his bed, kicking the covers down to his feet. Carefully, he presses his fingertips to that spot on the back of his head, the "joining spot" at the base of the skull, his soul's-home. The spot itself feels normal when he touches it. It's sensitive, and it gives him a shiver that's gotten more and more exciting for the last year or so... but tonight something about it feels different.
When Edie knocks at his door, Erik jumps, scrambling to pull covers up over himself. "Mom--!"
"Erik, are you okay?"
"I'm fine, I'm fine!" He's answering too fast, too loud. He tries to take a few deep breaths, get himself together. "I'm fine, I'm okay. You can come in."
She tries the door, but it's locked. That's mostly a suggestion on his part; stopping when she feels the resistance is mostly a courtesy on hers. The lock on the door doesn't do much good when your mother can control machines-- and at its heart, a lock is a machine. It may be unpowered and simple, but it has moving metal parts. That's all Edie needs.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, go ahead."
The lock clicks open, and Edie opens the door. "What's going on, sweetheart?"
She doesn't give the tangled blankets a second look, but she zeroes in on his hand, still touching the base of his skull. He quickly drops it, rubbing his palm against the sheet. "Nothing! Why do you think something's wrong?"
"You know the heaters?" Erik nods. "One of them snapped a coil. And you've been kind of keyed up lately, so..."
"Oh." Erik bites his lower lip. He hadn't realized he'd been warm enough to reach for the coils in the baseboard heater; this isn't the first time he's done something to the metal around him, either. When he was really little, all he could do was make pennies jump, or move quarters around. He figured out how to turn the dials on those little vending machines in the front of grocery stores without having a quarter at all, and snuck away with a lot of candy before Edie caught him at it. "I'm sorry about the heater. Did you fix it?"
"Yep. But I thought I'd check on you and see if something was going on."
He sighs and points at his head again, at the back of it, trying not to be crude while still making sure she knows where he means. "It's warm."
Edie raises an eyebrow. "Warm?"
"My--" He reaches back, touches the back of his head, low down, just above the hairline. Like every other kid his age, he's been told things like don't just keep touching it, you'll go blind, and of course he knows he shouldn't do it around other people, especially his mother, but... it itches, and it's warm, and it feels strange. It's a little scary. "Right here," he says. "It feels different."
"To the touch? Or inside?"
He considers it, feeling carefully around that spot. "Inside," he says, definitively. "Like there's--"
There's something. For twelve years he's just lived with that spot, quiet, inactive, obviously there, but... he's never felt anything from it, certainly never anything like this. He looks back at Edie, blinking quickly. "I can feel something."
"Like a path?"
He shakes his head. "Like a, um--" He sketches out a pair of tall poles and draws a line between them with one finger. "Like a telephone pole, like the wire in between. Except not always. Like, if I turn my head this way--" he cranes his head to the right-- "I can't feel it at all, but this way--" and he turns his head to the left-- "and it's kind of there. But it's like one of those things with the mirrors, I can't look right at it, it goes away."
Edie takes a seat on the edge of Erik's bed. "Do you know what emergence means?"
"Of course," Erik says, rolling his eyes. "Emergence is when you first feel your soulmate on the other end of the--" Erik's eyes go wide and round. "Oh."
Edie smiles at him and slips her hand over his. "You're a little young, but not by much. If we were settled down somewhere--" and she gets that look on her face that she always gets when she's apologizing for the way they live, the day-to-day traveling life they've led ever since Erik can remember-- "you'd probably have gone through bond ed classes the way most kids do these days. And you'd be in Hebrew school somewhere-- between that and whatever regular school you were in, you'd have more people your age to talk to about it."
Erik nods. He knows what people say about the soulbond; he knows he probably shouldn't be talking about it now, either, not now that it's so, so obvious what this is. He turns his head to the left again, trying to feel his way through it. He can tell it goes off into the distance, but nothing more. "What was it like for you?" he asks, and then almost immediately blushes; his mother's always said he could talk to her about anything, but... she's his mother.
"When I first sparked," she says softly, and then trails off for a bit. He can tell she's trying to be delicate. "For me it really was like sparking. Little flashes in my vision now and then. I told your grandfather about it, because I thought maybe it meant I needed glasses, or maybe something was wrong with my brain. But we talked for a while, and he figured it out with me the same way I just figured it out with you. And after a few months, the sparks cleared out of my vision, and I could feel your father all the time."
Erik almost holds his breath; it's rare that Edie talks about Erik's father. He's almost afraid to ask for any more detail than that; usually if she gets started talking about his father, she'll end up sad or angry-- or, worse, she'll start packing, putting them on the road again. They've only been in Eugene for three weeks, not even enough time to meet anybody.
But curiosity gets the better of him, and he asks, "Was it like sparks for him, too?"
She smiles. "No. Jakob always said it was like a river. It started out with a stream, and by the time we met it--" She cuts herself off, turning her face away, but he can see a slight flush on her cheek when she does, and he squirms a little, too, wondering if he was right the first time and shouldn't have brought it up with his mom in the first place.
"Anyway," she finishes, lightly, "that's what's going on with you. And as the two of you get older, you'll feel more and more of it, until you can feel what ey's feeling and know where ey is."
"Ey's that way," Erik says, pointing back behind him, the direction the pull feels the strongest. "Is that... east?"
"I hope so. Otherwise ey's either in the ocean or somewhere in Asia, maybe. It'd be easier if ey were just further east."
Erik winces. It's a good point. "Thanks, Mom."
She catches his hand again and squeezes it. "You can talk to me about anything you want. But I'll see if I can find you some books, okay? So you don't always have to ask your mom about this stuff." She winks, and he sighs with relief; thank goodness she gets it. "Good night, honey. Try to leave the heaters alone, okay? You can shut yours off and open a window if you're too warm."
"Okay," Erik agrees. "Good night."