Over the next few days he started getting used to life at the school. Time began settling into a fairly steady routine; classes, getting German drilled into his head by Janey, studying for his other classes for the last hour or so before lights out, and spending the time in-between everything else either wandering the school looking for clues about what might be happening or chatting with other students in the hope that one day they might unknowingly drop a useful piece of information. But he hadn't gotten anything yet, hadn't even successfully identified another psychic though every so often he caught a feeling like a buzz of energy against his skull that told him one was somewhere close. As long as they weren't actually doing anything with their powers he couldn't pick up exactly who the sensation was coming from. Even if he took the risk of searching for them with his own mind, potentially leaving a mental trail back to himself even with the buckle hiding his powers if someone strong enough kept an eye out for it, it wouldn't do any good. He wouldn't pick up any stray thoughts from someone revealing that they were psychic if they were so weak that they didn't know it.
The one thing that might prove valuable that he had picked up on was that every-so-often, during the same class period when he had algebra, he could feel a larger than usual group of them somewhere off in the distance. But he didn't have the time to hunt down where they were and get to class on time, and if he was gonna be in the school for awhile he figured that pissing off the one teacher he had who was almost as bad as Sasha pretended to be by being tardy or skipping outright probably wouldn't be the best start to his time there. Even if nothing worse happened, detention would be a giant waste of what little time he had to work in.
And maybe part of the reason he was willing to hold off was that he didn't want to find out that the one lead he might have was just a bunch of psychic kids coincidentally taking an art class at the same time or something. As long as it was obvious from the fact that they kept getting together day after day at the same strength that nothing was going on which seriously needed to be stopped ASAP, no new round of brain harvestings in a new location, it was good to know he'd possibly found a clue instead of just finding out that he'd been dumb not to write it off as something Sasha would have checked out long since.
But when something really finally shifted it happened on the one afternoon that he expected to be a near waste of time; the day he'd been given to audition for the gymnastics team. He only went at all because Sasha had told him he wanted him to, left to his own devices he would have made an excuse about needing more time just to settle into his new school schedule before he started looking at any clubs and went on his way. It wasn't like he even had any type of bodysuit, or whatever it was high school gymnasts usually wore, he had to show up in his gym clothes when he went.
They really must have been hurting for someone to take the empty slot on the team, because the audition turned out to be pathetically easy. Coach Bailey basically just pointed him at the school's equipment and told him to show them his stuff. It was like pointing a fish towards water and asking it to prove how well it could swim. Only even better, since metaphorical fish Raz would be in a lot of trouble with the family curse dogging his flippers and all. The equipment they used for the circus might have been different than what was used by gymnasts, but it wasn't as though it were hard for him to jump up onto the balance beam and pretend that it was the world's widest tight rope or throw himself between the parallel bars imagining they were the trapeze. He'd performed using stranger equipment before, both in the real world and within people's minds. Making the adjustment was a snap.
When he was done some of the members of the team were looking at him with respect. Others just seemed bored, waiting for their chance to get to work.
One looked outright hostile.
"Fine, so he's got a few fancy moves," the boy said, his narrowed eyes fixed on Raz, "but he's no match for Rachel. He's all flash and no form."
"Don't take Tim's dickishness personally," a girl on the team who he vaguely recognized from gym, Mindi or something like that, whispered out of the side of her mouth as Raz wandered back over to the group. "Rach is his sister, and that family had a lot of plans wrapped up around their kids getting, like, scouted for the Olympics or something that got all messed up when she broke her leg. It kinda screwed them up, you know?"
Before anyone else could chip in with their views of Tim's dickishness level and the reasons behind it the guy himself was storming out to take Raz's place on the floor, glaring back over his shoulder at him as he went. "Watch and learn, newbie. This is what a real gymnast looks like, not someone who's just performing for the crowd at the big top."
"You should kind of take it as a compliment; if you weren't good enough to take his sister's spot he wouldn't be acting like such a jerk," the girl went on comfortingly. But Raz was barely paying attention. He was watching. And learning.
And feeling a horrible pity instead of awed, or impressed, or cowed, or whatever it was Tim was hoping for. Because the first time he flipped himself through the air Raz realized that he'd identified his first psychic, and that meant that whatever dreams Tim and his family had about Olympic gold would never come true. Even just a professional career in the sport would be beyond his grasp.
His powers were just as weak as Ford had told Raz the psychics at the school would be; if he hadn't been right there in the room watching him Raz would never even have picked up on the slight boost of levitation the guy was using, pushing his body a little higher, making his landings a little lighter. He doubted that Tim was even aware of his powers to be doing it consciously. In fact, he was sure he wasn't, or he wouldn't be wrapping himself up so tightly in his identity as a gymnast.
The thing was, nobody was gonna test that deeply for psychics when it came to a high school sports team. If somebody's skills stood out enough to be suspicious scans would be done, but nobody would ever bother for someone like Tim, whose powers just pushed him into a level of 'very good' that was still believable for a mundane person. It was more-or-less assumed that if a kid were gonna use psychic powers to cheat they wouldn't be able to resist pushing it further than that, seeing how much they could get away with. But when it came to turning a sport into a profession the scans became impossible to avoid, and any psychics discovered would only be allowed to compete against other psychics.
And a mundane level of very good placed Tim's talents light years behind anyone who competed at a psychic level. Put his sister there too, if she owed her talent to the same source. Whatever dreams the guy was building his vision of the future on, in a year or two he'd find out that they'd never even had a chance at coming true.
And Raz couldn't even warn the poor jerk. Not without breaking his cover. Normal student Razputin wouldn't be able to sense the psychic potential of a pineapple.
He didn't know if learning about Tim, and potentially his sister, would actually do him any good. He doubted that whatever was going on in the school included sinister plans to break a girl's leg and leave Principle Morten depressed about her pet team's chances. But at least it was something, gave him somebody to keep an eye on as he tried figuring things out instead of working completely blind.
It was just too bad that it was someone who was already making it obvious that he wasn't about to let Raz buddy up to him for the sake of the investigation.