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Beyond Measure

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Session 2
Whisper

7 months earlier

Mai was there when it happened. She wouldn't admit it but she had been watching him, awed by his slackened jaw and relaxed body. Somehow he had fallen asleep without her notice, half-stretched across the couch, arm placed delicately over his eyes as if he had meant to open them again. A few manila folders rested in his lap, forgotten.

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Present day

"Oliverー"

Noll jerks unceremoniously back into reality, jackknifing halfway off the therapy couch. He runs a hand through his hair to calm his racing heart and glances around, searching wildly for the source of the shout. When his dark gaze only finds a pensive Doctor Arainn sitting in a chair a few feet away, he sighs. "What is it?"

"I know experiencing the death of a loved one is hard," she says, tapping her pen nervously on the edge of the notebook, "but talking as if you are them is–"

Noll feels his expression darken. "I'm telling you what I remember."

Arainn pauses, confusion clouding her grey eyes, creasing her eyebrows. "I'm afraid you're going to have to explain."

"It's..." he pushes his fists into his eyes, searching for the right words. Martin had tried to research the twins' bond any number of times, but he'd only ever succeeded in establishing parameters. Apparently, there were none. Noll and Gene could have been half a world away from each other and it wouldn't matter. "Selective telepathy – that's what Martin called it. Gene and I could share our thoughts and occasionally our memories. My connection with Mai was no different, except, perhaps, for her fantastic lack of control."

Arainn jots something down in her notebook, "what does that feel like?" She asks softly, undeniably curious.

Noll shrugs. "It just feels like an out of body experience."

If they had not been in her office, in the middle of a session, Arainn might have giggled in her excitement. "Right," she says, "and you had this... bond with Miss Taniyama, correct? And previously with your brother?"

Noll nods; then remembers the tape that is supposed to be recording his every word, "Yes."

"Just to be clear: the bond is what allows you to share 'selective telepathy'?"

Doctor Arainn's tone doesn't changed but to Noll, it sounds just a tad bit like she's mocking him, testing to see if his answer will change. He avoids her prying eyes, choosing to glare at the plush brown carpet instead, responding in a way only a scientist would. "There is a positive correlation, yes. You could say that."

She makes another note then clears her throat. "Sorry for the interruption. Settle back and restart."

Noll hesitates to return to his not-so-comfortable position, but lays his head back on the arm rest and allows the memory to take over...

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7 months earlier

Mai was there when it happened. She wouldn't admit it but she had been watching him, awed by his slackened jaw and relaxed body. Somehow he had fallen asleep without her notice, half-stretched across the couch, arm placed delicately over his eyes as if he had meant to open them again. A few manila folders rested in his lap, forgotten.

She watched his chest rhythmically rise and fall. He had never looked so...peaceful.

Luella poured her a cup of coffee before sitting down next to her. "He is stoic. Even as a child I almost never saw him smile." The woman smiled at her sleeping son.

Mai felt her cheeks flush. She was looking at her shoes, hoping to avoid Luella's gaze, when she noticed something odd. The floor was shaking.

All around the girls, things were starting to move. Glasses falling off counters before shattering into a million pieces, the cordless phone dismounting itself from the wall so it could crash onto the counter top.

Luella screamed. Mai jumped up.

The table the two had been sitting at rose a few inches off the ground and was now revolving slowly in the air as it shook. Mai motioned for Luella to move away from the table but her eyes were fixed on something in the other room.

"Noll!" The blonde haired woman sprinted to her son. Mai slowly backed away from the precariously floating table and followed behind Luella. Maybe if they woke Naru up he could tell them what was happening.

But one look at the boy sent shivers down her spine. His eyes were pinched shut, his arm bent awkwardly behind him as he lay crumpled on the floor. As she watched, his free arm reached out into the air. "Gene..."

"Oliver, stop this!" Luella shouted, brushing her son's bangs out of his face. She tapped him lightly on the cheek. "Wake up!"

Mai didn't know what to do. She sank to her knees beside her boss, watching his eyes dart back and forth under his eyelids. Without thinking, she reached out for his hand.

Ice water crept down her spin. A green haze settled over the scene as the cabin began to morph before her eyes. The walls disappeared behind the thick haze and bedrock snaked across the wood floor. A glittering light kissed her shoulders, warming them as the gentle waves rocked her.

Mai should have been scared, suddenly finding herself at the bottom of the lake but instated she felt... at peace. Experience told Mai she was just dreaming again, having a vision. But her gut told her it wasn't her vision.

Go back.

With a start Mai realized she was staring at Naru. He was smiling like he always did in her dreams but something was off.

He reached out to her; eyes glittering with something that she knew wasn't sunlight. Why were they here? Mai stretched hesitantly forward, feeling like she was both beside Naru and a million miles away. When their fingertips touched it was something like ice that froze her spine.

She jerked away and just like that Mai was standing in the cabin. Gasping, she tried to forget the feeling but it crawled up her arm and encompassed her whole body. She jumped to her feet, desperate to get away.

The movement made her head swim.

Lights flickered. The coffee table beside them was suddenly flipped on its side. Around the room, objects were beginning to take flight.

Was this... Naru?

Mai jumped at the loud bang! the door made when a disheveled looking Lin came rushing into the room. He took one look around before his eyes fell on Noll. He barely dodged a flying chair as it danced across the room.

Lin ran across the room and into the kitchen. Mai couldn't take her eyes off Noll. He was relatively still now; his head lay on his mother's lap as she screamed for Lin to do something. That's when Lin bounded across the cabin, a cold water bottle in hand.

In one motion he uncapped it and sent the liquid spilling onto Noll's face.

The room stilled.

Noll's eyes snapped open, crying out as cold water soaked his shirt. He jerked up, sputtering, but was almost instantly pushed back to the ground. Lin held his shoulders fast to the hard floor. Noll fell silent and Mai wondered if he had fallen back unconscious. But his eyes were still open, staring wide open at the ceiling.

"Noll? If you can hear me, blink." A few moments passed in silence. "Nollー"

"I'm still alive," he scoffed but his voice was raspy and low.

Barely.

Mai heard it; the whispered thought that seemed to echo through her head. It sounded both exactly like Naru, and yet nothing like him. She searched his face, absolutely sure she hadn't seen his lips move.