I opened my eyes and shivered slightly as I gazed into icy blue depths. I thought about what Ross had said earlier about cold fire and pictured Ross's internal fire as the blue fire of a Bunsen burner flame.
Do you want me to overpower your mind?
I sat up and sighed. "I ... I don't know, Ross. Yes, I'd like to empathise with you completely and feel punished for what I put you through, but nobody really wants something bad to happen to them."
Ross moved his hand away. "You're a lot less eager than you were before."
"Well, you kind of got rid of my negative emotions when we kissed. Did you enjoy that, by the way?"
"Enjoy it? Enjoy feeling like I would die if you disapproved of me in any way or that I couldn't survive if you didn't love me? No. It was horrible. I was scared for my life."
"I've felt that way before. It's not horrible. It binds the lovers together. It means they'll always want to protect each other."
"I didn't like it."
"Well, I suppose we should both be glad I won't do that again, then. I never want to control your mind like that again."
"And I never want you to either. Do you know how much more of a horrific experience you made it for me?"
"No... What did I do?"
"You didn't even try to hide the fact that you were horror-struck and scared. I felt every single ounce of your terror and it was all I could do to not give in and panic too."
"I ... made you scared?"
"Fortunately not in the way you mean it, but your fear was scary. I was encapsulated in it. No escape: just being pressed down on all sides by a force overcome by fright. If I didn't have a stronger core, I could have gone insane."
"I...-I'm sorry," I mumbled.
"Do you want me to make it that bad when you're overpowered?"
I shook my head. "And I'm sorry you had to go through that. I thought it was unendurable for you as it was."
"Well, let's get this over and done with then. Hopefully this will totally put you off trying to break any of my walls down again."
"And it will be good for me to feel what I've put someone else through," I said bravely.
"If you want to see it like that, then okay. Now close your eyes."
I did so. I suddenly felt frightened of what I was allowing Ross to do to me. I reminded myself that Ross hadn't really had a choice when I did it to him, though. I felt slight comfort thinking that now our situations were going to become similar.
‘You make this sound like a good thing, Rosa.' I was startled by the sudden open space in my mind and Ross's cool mental voice.
‘Well, perhaps it is,' I thought.
‘You won't be saying that afterwards.'
‘Well, get on with it and prove yourself right,' I thought, feeling slight annoyance at his reluctance to see this as an opportunity to bring us closer to each other. I was also annoyed because he was his usual cold self, the self I was still able to detest after knowing it for about a dozen years.
‘Are you doing this or what?'
I'm waiting for you to stop being annoyed. It's like a big wall around everything other than your current thoughts.
‘Oh, sorry.' I allowed myself to calm down. I sent gratitude to Ross for doing this for me and something like the feeling behind an apology to emphasise the fact I was sorry.
It was quite daunting as I felt Ross's thoughts enter my mind. I felt myself automatically trying to shield my deeper thoughts and feelings from him. I tried to relax but I could still feel the walls rising.
I sent my feelings of apology to Ross but he sent me back a feeling of understanding, though like all his current thoughts, it was tinged with that awful coldness which seemed woven into his nature. The faint warmth of his thoughts helped slightly as he applied gentle pressure to the walls I wasn't able to stop putting up. At least I could prevent myself from resisting him.
It was scary, though. Feeling a foreign presence in my mind trying to get deeper and knowing he was going to do something unpleasant. It was like letting someone put you in between them and danger. A part of my mind was saying ‘At least he isn't forcing your mental barriers down.' I agreed with this reassuring part of my mind that that had been a lot worse.
Right. Last chance to back out of this. Are you sure you want me to carry on?
On your own head be it.
I tried not to panic too much as I felt Ross's thoughts slowly spread out across my mind. I felt a chill run through me as my thoughts were slowly engulfed by this thick fog. Creeping tendrils glided over every thought and emotion till I felt I should be shivering. And then, everything changed. As the blanket settled over my consciousness, I felt ... calm. There was no other way to describe the nonchalance which resulted from the stifling of all my other emotions. I also strangely found myself thinking I'd be tolerant if Ross treated me as his slave. I suppose that was necessary in a way because he was controlling my mind. Odd how no chills ran through me when I thought of that fact. It was simply a fact that I was not uncomfortable with. To be quite honest, this was like being half asleep. The lines between reality and dreams were blurred and this state was simultaneously an oddity and full of clarity.
If Ross was at all bothered by my subdued, submissive state, he wasn't letting on. The layer above my thoughts was neutral.
I sat patiently and waited for him to give me something to do. I certainly didn't have enough power in my thoughts to do anything of my own accord and I didn't really have the will to either. My will. Shouldn't that feel bound to Ross's?
You practically gave it to me, Rosa.
I was vaguely surprised by this revelation, but mostly indifferent (as I was to everything around me). I was just expecting an instruction really.
When Ross did give a command, it was shocking. ‘Ask Jack out again,' he thought quietly. ‘I'm not ready for this relationship. Yesterday, everything seemed so simple and I'm sorry you were so ready for this. I can't do this though. Not yet.'
I wanted to scream out ‘NO!' but my thoughts and feelings were stifled. I felt myself standing up and heading to the door. I was mildly panicky. I tried to resist compulsion. Then my will did feel bound. It felt like it had fallen down somehow and Ross was standing on it but in that position he was able to control it. I felt the fog over my consciousness thicken, bear down on me more. I would have been scared if that hadn't had a direct impact on my already suppressed emotions. Part of me was wondering how he was able to maintain his control over me now that we weren't touching.
‘Don't do this,' I thought, with the small part of my mind that still had some control.
But Ross said nothing. All around me I could hear my thoughts echoing Ross's command. I was opening the door now, stepping out into the hallway.
Suddenly, I felt Ross play one of my memories. I saw it in my mind. It was from today. The moment when Jack had asked me if I wanted to forget Ross.
‘Remind him of this and say you want to change your mind.'
‘No,' the small part of me thought weakly.
‘Be quiet, Rosa, or I'll completely overpower you.'
‘Don't,' I thought-whispered. ‘Don't do this.'
I felt a wave of cold fury roll over my thoughts. I felt the fog push down with a greater force on my thoughts.
‘Fine. If you want to do this as a mindless zombie then we'll do it that way.'
I felt overwhelming pressure on my mind as the fog took complete control over me... And then it was simple. I was his to do whatever he wanted with me. My will was enslaved, my feelings ... just weren't there because no instruction he'd given me had involved them and my thoughts were all of one accord. Obey Ross.
I was out of the room and I walked towards Jack's room with no thought other than to follow Ross's order.