Mental Games

Redemption

In all of the confusion, one of the cops had apparently panicked and fired his weapon.  No one was sure if he thought the Korean boy was about to fire or not, but the young man fell to the ground after the gun was discharged.  Adam stared in disbelief at the boy's body crumpled in a heap and Adam was unable to detect any movement from him at all.  At the same time, the officers hurriedly closed in around the fallen boy, just in case he was able to point the gun at someone again. 

“He didn’t speak English and was just protecting himself,” Adam screamed.  “Those other guys brought the gun here and aimed it at him first.  The Korean boy had just taken it away from them and was only using it to keep them from attacking him again.” 

As Adam was continuing his rant, many of the other Koreans were screaming in a mixture of Korean and English and crying.  The entire situation had gone horribly wrong from the start and now it appeared as if the Korean boy was dead.  Even though Adam was distraught, he began to mentally communicate with the officers.  Eventually, one of the cops came over to him, so he explained the entire story about what he and Mike had seen both times.  Adam also pointed out the group’s translator, whom he thought could verify his story, along with his parents.  Adam's mom and dad had rushed to get there after they heard the gunshots, because they wanted to make sure Adam and Mike were all right. 

Once the police had this information, they handcuffed the rowdy pair that had started the problem in the first place and put them in a squad car.  The cops also asked Adam, Mike and Adam’s parents if they would come to the police station, so they could take their statements.  They were also going to do this with several of the others that had been present when this happened, including the translator.  Once George, and the others agreed, the police vehicles began to drive off, right after the emergency squad arrived and began to take care of the fallen Korean boy. 

“I blew it again,” Adam mumbled to Mike, once they had moved away from the others.  “I tried to send him mental images of what I wanted him to do, but I should have been concentrating on the police instead.  I should have been trying to make them understand what was going on and letting them know that the boy didn’t speak English.  If I had done that, he might still be alive.” 

“It’s not your fault,” Mike responded, comfortingly, as he guided Adam back to his parent's car. 

Mike, Adam and Adam’s parents were all separated once they arrived at the police station, along with the other witnesses, so they couldn’t discuss what they had seen with each other.  Each of them was then required to give his statement independently, so the investigators could determine precisely what had occurred and who had been at fault.  Unfortunately, the few detectives doing this began with the other witnesses first, because they had schedules to keep.  Since Mike, Adam and the Washburns had told the detective they weren't in any rush, they were left to be interviewed last. 

When it was Adam's turn, he was determined to make sure the police understand exactly what had transpired, from the initial confrontation with the southerners and up until one of the officers shot the young man from Korea.  He also wanted to tell the detective about the time that had elapsed in between the two events, which included the awful things the two southerners had said to the Korean boy.  He hoped to make the detective see that the person they killed had only been protecting himself and was completely blameless. 

“I thought the two southern guys had left after they first tried to push the Korean kid around and he had defended himself against them,” Adam explained.  “But I guess they must have just left to go get a gun though, because they didn’t have it during their first confrontation.  If they had, I’m sure they would have used it then.” 

‘Please let me know you understand this,’ Adam thought, as he directed his message at the interviewer. 

“I think you’re right, but I have a suspicion that’s not all they did.  I have a feeling they also took a few minutes to drink some liquid courage as well,” the detective informed him.  “After we put them in the patrol car, my partner and I noticed both of those guys smelled like a brewery.  This prompted my partner to give each of them a Breathalyzer test to determine how intoxicated they were.  He didn’t tell me exactly what they blew, but he indicated it was significant.”

That cleared up something else for Adam.  It explained the reason he'd had trouble talking the two southern boys down.  Adam had discovered previously that he had difficulty getting through to people that were under the influence.  This was just more proof to support that conclusion. 

Once Adam finished giving his statement, he still had to wait for Mike and his parents to do the same.  Unfortunately, this was taking a very long time.  First of all, the same detective was now conducting each of the interviews, because the others had been sent off to search the southern boys' homes and look for other evidence.  It also allowed the detective to mentally compare the various statements that had already been taken, so he could base his next questions accordingly.  This, when added to the fact that several others had been interviewed before him, had left Adam plenty of time to think. 

As the last person was taken into the room to go through the interview process, Adam had an idea.  After spending the past few hours at the police station, he thought the two southerners might have been there long enough to sober up a bit.  If they had, he felt he might finally be able to get through to them, so he decided to give it a try. 

‘You two guys that attacked the oriental guy,’ he projected. ‘I'm sure you must be eager to tell everyone what you did today.  Damn!  You are responsible for making sure that kid paid for how he humiliated you.  You should be proud of that and anxious to tell anyone that will listen.  You have to let everyone else know that you had to go back and confront him, especially after he had embarrassed you like that earlier.  You have to make everyone you talk to realize that you are extremely proud of defending yourselves, as well as standing up for your country against these foreigners.' 

Adam knew this was a strange approach to use in order to get the pair to admit to their actions, but what other choice did he have?  He didn’t think he could find a deterrent that would be sufficient to keep them owning up to the trouble they’d caused, so he was forced to use a different approach and decided to plead to their egos instead.  This strategy was not only meant to get the southerners to confess, but Adam hoped it would also keep them telling the truth, even after he’d left and the effects of his other suggestion had worn off. 

For that reason, Adam was willing to appeal to their inflated sense of superiority and misguided patriotism to accomplish this goal.  He felt it would be best to convince them that they should be very proud of their part in the altercation.  He wanted them to be willing to brag about how they had made the Korean kid pay for embarrassing them in front of others and showing them how real 'Mericans treated unwanted outsiders.  Adam felt that by doing it this way, it would keep the two southerners boasting about what they’d done for as long as they were incarcerated, or even beyond, and it would show others how truly vile they were. 

Once his parents and Mike had finished giving their statements, they were finally ready to leave.  After they returned to the car, George offered a quick suggestion concerning the rest of the evening. 

“I’m certainly glad this happened after we’d finished our tour of Williamsburg and Mike had a chance to visit all of the places he wanted to see, but we missed lunch,” he pointed out.  “It would have been a late lunch as it was, but looking at the time now, I suggest we just grab an early dinner before finding someplace to spend the night.” 

The others readily agreed with his proposal, since they were all very hungry, so they drove around looking for a nice restaurant.  When they found one they thought would have something for each of them, they stopped and went inside.  It happened to be an Italian restaurant and everyone found an entree on the menu that appealed to him.  George even ordered a bottle of wine that they could share, because he felt that after what they’d been through earlier they might all need a little alcohol to help them relax and unwind.  Adam had one more glass than the others, because he was still deeply troubled that he hadn’t been able to prevent what happened to the Korean boy. 

Once they finished eating, George drove them most of the way to their next destination, before locating a motel where they would spend the night.  Once again, the boys had their own room, and after they were alone Mike confronted Adam again.  He could tell that Adam was still blaming himself for what happened earlier and wanted to convince him that it wasn’t his fault. 

“You didn’t do anything wrong!” Mike insisted.  “There wasn’t much you could do, since the Korean boy didn’t speak English and the other two were drunk.” 

“They might have been drunk the second time we saw them, but I’m not so sure they had been drinking before I dealt with them the first time,” Adam confessed.  “Although I wasn't sure if I had much of an effect on them, they did walk away after that first incident.  I just wasn’t convinced if they stopped and left because of what I had suggested or if they took off because they were embarrassed by what the Korean boy had done to them.  Now, I have a feeling I was the reason they walked away, so it means I could have done more.” 

“Ok, but what difference does that make and what else could you have done?” Mike wondered. 

“It means that if I had been thinking ahead, I should have planted the suggestion with them that they weren’t to come back to bother the Korean boy again,” Adam stated.  “I didn’t do that, so they returned later, but this time they also had a gun.  They'd also had enough to drink in between that I had difficulty getting through to them when they returned.” 

“You can’t be sure that they still wouldn’t have come back, no matter what you did,” Mike insisted.  “You weren’t exactly positive you were the one that got them to leave in the first place, so maybe they'd already been drinking and just took off to get the gun.” 

“That's a possibility, but I don't think it was the case now,” Adam countered, mildly disagreeing.  “After thinking about it some more, there was no other reason for them to just walk away so easily.  They were having fun harassing the boy, and even though he’d defended himself and took them on one at a time, there were still two of them.  They could have easily ganged up on him and got even that way, but they really had no reason to just take off.  That’s why I'm pretty sure I was the one that got them to leave.  I just made a mistake after that by not doing anything to keep them from coming back.  That’s how I screwed up and it’s what got the poor boy killed.” 

"That still might not be the reason they left," Mike objected.  "Yes, there were two of them and they could have ganged up on the boy, but maybe they were worried that some of the other Koreans knew that martial arts stuff too, and after seeing what the first boy had done to them, that some of them would step forward to help him out." 

"Yeah, I guess that might have crossed their minds, but I still think I could have done more," Adam relented. 

“Well you tried to stop the cops from shooting him and that didn’t work either,” Mike pointed out. 

“That’s because I wasted my time screaming at them first, instead of using my power to mentally tell them what was going on,” Adam countered, getting agitated again.  “Either they had been unable to hear me over the other noises or they were blocking out every other distraction so the could concentrate on the boy.  I should have been sending them my thoughts instead.  If I had done that, I might have been able to get them to understand the situation better.  Instead, I wasted my time sending mental images to the boy and trying to get him to put the gun down.  If I’d focused on the cops the minute they showed up and used my power on them instead, maybe I could have explained the situation adequately and kept them from shooting that poor kid.” 

“That’s an awful lot of ifs and maybes,” Mike reasoned, almost pleading with Adam.  “Even if you had done each of those things, you still can’t be certain the situation would have ended differently.” 

“Maybe you’re convinced of that, but I’m not,” Adam replied, looking even more depressed than before.  “And it’s the third time now that I’ve screwed up.” 

“The third time?” Mike questioned. 

“Yes!  Did you forget about the guy at Denny’s or those two guys in the woods at the lake?” Mike shot back.  “Each time I could have planted the thought to have the situation end without any violence, just like today, but I didn’t do it.”

“Come on.  What happened at Denny’s was a long time ago, when you were first learning how to use your powers,” Mike reasoned.  “You can’t possibly count that.  The second time we were facing two armed men and you did a great job just keeping them from shooting us.  You also can’t be certain they actually harmed anyone else after they let us go either.  Besides, you’ve done a lot of other good things and have helped a lot of people.” 

“Yes, I do alright when someone contacts me and I have time to work things out in my mind first,” Adam agreed.  “I just don’t do well on the spot or under pressure.” 

“Look, you have done a lot of good so far and you’ll get better at handling the situations when you’re under pressure,” Mike assured him.  “I’ve already seen you improve.  Back at the lake, even though you were under tremendous pressure to save us, you still came up with that stuff about the search parties and law enforcement coming out to find us if we didn’t return.  I would have never thought of that.  It was pure genius.” 

“But they could have killed someone else later because I didn’t plant the seed to prevent it, ” Adam pressed.  “And if I’m getting better, then why didn’t I save the boy today?”  

“Because it was the first time you’ve had to deal with someone that didn’t speak English,” Mike responded.  “The next time you’ll have a better idea about what you should do.  Come on, you know you’re improving all the time, so you can’t give up now.” 

“I’m not as sure about that as you seem to be.  I’m not convinced I’m getting better at any of this,” Adam objected.  Even though nothing had been settled, they agreed to end the discussion anyway. 

The boys settled on watching TV for a while, as a distraction, and then they showered and got ready for bed.  Mike could tell Adam was still troubled, so he decided he needed to do something to take his lover's mind off his problems and get him to relax.  Mike didn't have to think very long or hard about what he could do to accomplish that goal and quickly began to service Adam orally.  That definitely took Adam's mind off his problems, and his release cause Adam's body to totally relax, so Mike merely crawled into bed beside Adam.  Mike also cuddled with his lover and held him in his protective embrace, while hoping that would allow Adam to get a good night’s sleep. 

The following morning the boys were awakened by a phone call from Adam’s father.  He explained that he wanted them to get dressed, so they could go out for breakfast.  He also told them they were going to load everything into the car and check out first, because they wouldn’t be coming back afterward. 

As soon as they’d chowed down, George made the short drive to their next destination.  He had planned for them to spend the day at Virginia Beach, so of course he had told Mike and Adam to wear their swimsuits under their clothing and to bring a towel with them too, which they left in the car while they were eating.  After applying a generous amount of sunscreen to their bodies, the four of them made their way down to the beach and looked forward to having a little fun in the sun and surf. 

Although this was supposed to be a relaxing activity, Adam was still quite depressed and not in a very good mood.  Regardless of what Mike attempted to do in order to cheer Adam up, it didn’t seem to make much of a difference.  He wasn't able to distract or comfort his boyfriend for very long, and any change was only temporary.  Mike was unable to get Adam to totally loosen up and smile, so Mike was at a loss for what he should do next.  Even Adam’s parents tried to help, because they could also tell their son was still bothered about seeing the boy shot the previous day, although they didn’t know he was blaming himself for letting it happen. 

“He has always been a very sensitive child,” Rita told Mike when Adam wasn’t around.  “I just didn’t expect him to take that boy’s death so hard.” 

Mike agreed with her, but didn’t bother to delve into the reason this was troubling Adam so badly.  He knew Adam wanted to keep his ability a secret from his parents, as well as everyone else, and Mike wasn’t about to betray his trust.  Instead, Mike merely agreed with the Washburns and listened to their suggestions about what they thought they might do to help. 

After Adam realized his parents were worried about him, he talked Mike into moving farther down the beach, so he could get away from his mom and dad for a while.  Adam wanted to spend some time alone so he could think, but Mike continued his attempt to convince his boyfriend to take a dip with him in the ocean.  Before Mike could accomplish this, however, the boys heard a woman scream.  Mike and Adam quickly looked in that direction, in order to discover what was wrong. 

“He’s taking my son!” she yelled, as she pointed at a man carrying a young boy and running toward the parking lot. 

Mike and Adam immediately gave chase, but they knew they weren’t going to reach the man in time to prevent the abduction.  That was when Adam spotted a group of young men walking from the parking lot toward the beach. 

‘Stop that man running toward you!  He’s trying to kidnap the boy!’ he mentally commanded.  ‘Don’t harm the guy though.  Just stop him.  The mother will be there shortly.’ 

The young men suddenly sprang into action and confronted the man, while also preventing him from leaving the area.  Mike, Adam and the boy’s mother caught up to them a few seconds later.  When the mother moved closer so she could retrieve her son, one of the young men looked at her and spoke. 

“Do you want us to beat this pervert and teach him a lesson?” he asked, while glaring at the man. 

“No!  He’s not a pervert and wasn’t trying to take my son for that reason,” she stated, emphatically.  “He’s my ex-husband.  He’s just unhappy with the court’s recent ruling about custody.  He wanted sole custody so he could take our son to live with him out of state, but the court denied his application.  I guess he wasn’t going to let that stop him though and that's why he was attempting to take our son with him anyway.”  

Suddenly, the young man’s glare softened a little, when he realized the man wasn’t a child molester.  This didn’t mean what the guy was attempting was right, but at least it wasn’t what he’d first suspected.  He and his friends did, however, make sure the father stayed there until the cops arrived and were able to arrest him for disobeying a court order, parental abduction and custodial interference. 

“Thank you!  All of you!” the mother gushed once her ex had been taken away by the police.  “I’m not sure if I would have ever seen my son again, if my ex had gotten away with him.” 

“I’m sure the authorities would have been able to get your son back for you, since you have legal custody of him,” one of the young men countered. 

“I’m not so sure of that,” she replied.  “My ex still has family in Peru and I was afraid he’d find a way to take our son there before the authorities could act.  If he’d been able to get the boy out of the country, then it would have been almost impossible for me to get my son back.”

Once that had been cleared up, the boys each told her they were glad they’d been able to help.  Then, everyone went back to what he had been doing prior to this happening.  As Mike and Adam returned to the spot where they had been previously, Mike spoke to Adam. 

“Did you get those guys to stop the father from taking his son?” he wondered. 

“I just asked them to keep the guy from getting away,” Adam admitted. 

“I’m surprised they didn’t just start beating the crap out of him before we got there,” Mike pointed out.  “I could tell by the looks on their faces that they thought he was a child molester and each one wanted to teach the guy a lesson.  I wonder why they didn’t do that?” 

Adam knew what Mike was getting at, so he decided to fill him in about what he’d done. 

“Ok, so maybe I suggested they shouldn’t hurt the man,” Adam confessed.  “I had a feeling they would if I didn’t tell them otherwise, so I let them know they should just stop, but not harm him in any way.” 

“So you mean you learned from your past mistakes?” Mike pressed, while eying Adam for his reaction. 

“Maybe I did,” Adam agreed, while looking slightly annoyed.  “It still doesn’t mean that I didn’t screw up those other times though.  I still made mistakes I regret.” 

“That may be so, but there’s nothing you can do to change any of that now,” Mike pointed out.  “The thing is, you’ve learned from your past mistakes and are now making sure you don’t repeat them, like in this case.  It’s just like I told you before.  You can use those incidents as learning experiences and they will make you even more effective in the future.” 

“I hope you’re right about that,” Adam sighed, as he began to relent to Mike's point of view. 

“I am and you know it,” Mike shot back, while giving Adam a look of profound respect.  “What you’re doing is important and there’s no one else who can take your place.  For that reason, you can’t let anything get you down or lessen your resolve.” 

Adam didn’t respond to what Mike said, but he thought about it for a while.  Even though he had a power no one else possessed, he still didn’t see himself as being special.  He also wasn’t ready to give in and agree with Mike that he was some sort of superhero.  Sure, he had helped people in need and was able to correct situations that were spinning out of control, but that just meant he was a good guy.  He didn’t have some fantastic superpower that would save the world, so he wasn't a superhero. 

After finishing their discussion, Adam and Mike continued to make their way down to the ocean and were soon frolicking in the waves.  Adam was a completely different person now.  He was relaxed, even smiling, and ready to have some fun.  Adam’s parents also noticed the sudden change in his behavior. 

George and Rita had seen the boys running off earlier, but didn’t know the reason why the boys were doing it.  They had been farther away from the woman and weren’t able to hear what she was saying over the roar of the ocean and the breeze that was blowing.  They merely watched as Mike and Adam raced toward the parking lot and then noticed the other group of young men stop the man with a boy.  After they watched the woman take the boy and return to the beach, they saw Mike and Adam both smiling, so they felt whatever had just happened had helped to lift Adam out of his funk.  They were glad about that, because now they could relax and enjoy themselves as well. 

Throughout the rest of the morning and early afternoon, the four of them swam in the ocean and sunned themselves on the beach.  They continued to do this until about 2:00, when they decided to grab a bite to eat. 

“You appear to be in a better mood this afternoon,” Rita said as they were eating. 

“Yeah, I guess I let yesterday get me down a bit, but I’m feeling better now,” Adam confessed.  “Mike helped see to that.” 

“I’m glad he’s looking after you,” she responded, while giving Mike an appreciative grin. 

Once they finished their meal, they got into the car and began the trip home.  It was a fairly long ride, so they didn’t arrive at the Washburn house until evening.  Unfortunately, Adam’s parents had to go to work the next day, so they quickly brought their luggage inside, put it away, cleaned up and went to bed.  While they were doing this, Mike and Adam took their things to Adam’s room. 

“We’re going to be leaving for college in another week,” Adam pointed out.  “Is everything ready for me to use?” 

“Yes, it’s all set,” Mike agreed.  “All I have to do is make the new files live, but I didn’t want to do that until you were back at Johns Hopkins.  It wouldn’t have done any good for you to be getting requests before you were actually in Baltimore.” 

“No, I guess it wouldn’t,” Adam conceded. 

The pair then discussed what day they were going to leave and that’s when Mike made an unexpected announcement. 

“Since you said it was going to take you an additional semester to finish up your coursework,” he began, “I’ve decided to apply to do an internship for a semester.  It will get me known by the members of one of the Georgetown law firms and give me a little experience in a real world setting.  I’ll not only be able to help the lawyers do research for their cases, but it will also allow me to show them what I can do.  With a little luck, that will give me a slight edge when I start looking for a job.  I might even be able to convince some of the attorneys I’m working with to write letters of recommendation for me.  Even if I don’t get a job with that law firm, it should help move me closer to the top of the list for other firms as well.” 

Adam agreed this sounded like a good idea.  It also meant they’d be finishing up at the same time.  Adam would still have his residency to contend with, but this way Mike could start his job at the same time and they could work it so they would be in the same city. 

The boys went to bed that night feeling good about themselves and looking forward to returning to their campuses.  In fact, they’d be starting their classes at about the same time this year, at least close enough so neither one of them would have to stay with the other in between.  It was a small change, but it would eliminate some of the hassle.  It also meant their dreams were filled with other thoughts, as they enjoyed a very restful slumber.