November 2, 2012 by Lyn
Friday, October 24, 2003, just after Chapter 8
He hadn’t been sure that Hemlock would let them go to the Doctor’s. Like he hadn’t been sure Hemlock and Gregori would let him and Damie go, at the end of the last school year. Something about Hemlock just turned Agra back into a scared kid.
And Hemlock had walked with them all the way to Caitrin’s, since Agra wouldn’t promise Hemlock anything, not even that the sky was blue. It might be green that day, and then where would he be. He’d left Agra at the door, though. Small blessings and all.
There was no-one at the nurse’s station, so he sat down to wait, cradling an unconscious, bloody Akaterina.
He probably should have remembered that sometimes students – Caitrin’s Students – worked the nurse’s station. He probably should have been expecting Zita. Zita cy’Caitrin, a school anomaly, Kept for her entire school career, or so he’d heard, her Crew’s voting proxy on the student council, and, most importantly, a busybody.
The tiny, tiny, big-eyed goblin popped up, seemingly from nowhere. She was wearing a neat white nurse’s uniform and a matching white leather collar, with a buckle made of someone’s antler. Leo. Leo had antlers. Agra blinked at her, trying to shake himself out of his funk.
“Oh, dear.” Zita blinked down at them. “Well, she’d definitely better go into one of the exam rooms. Four is always nice. Come along, you.”
Even on a good day, Agra was a bit confused by Zita. She was a definite don’t-bother, both by his Crew’s standards and by Hemlock’s crew’s, but she was Kept and stilled bossed everyone around. Everyone. Still. He stood, cradling Kat, and followed where she led.
“I need the Doctor.” Kat needed the doctor.
“She and Nurse Jo are on break. You don’t think they work twenty four hours and seven, do you? Honestly. We’ll see what I can do.”
“Somebody attacked her.” It was part covering his own ass – I didn’t do this – and part anger. Someone had attacked her. Someone had attacked his Kept. His voice wound up a little bit more. “She’s hurt.”
“Put her down on the bed there.” Zita sounded gentler than he’d thought she could be. “Then get out of my way.”
And then not gentle at all. He bristled, feeling the hair on the back of his neck stand up. “She’s mine.”
“My dear man, if you want to argue questions of ownership, you’ll need to go find Leo. I suggest you do, and leave me to work.”
What? He set Kat down on the bed. He needed her healed. He needed her taken care of. Feeling grumpy and five years old, he found a wall and leaned against it. There. Out of the way.
“Do I have your formal permission to use healing magic and touch your Kept, Agravain?”
She was mocking him, wasn’t she? Why would that be funny?
“Yes. Thank you.”
Satisfied, Zita started healing, interspersing whispered spells and gentle touches with off-handed comments to the unconscious girl. One, that verged just into the audible, sounded something like, “What’s the nasty man done to you?”
Agra bristled again, more. He felt his anger rising to the surface, and struggled to only snarl. “I’ve never hurt her. Hemlock…!”
“Oh, trust me, I’ve seen what you do.” Whatever that meant. “What was that about Hemlock?” She asked, bubbly, with a chipper – and pointy – grin.
“Hemlock had her. I went to find her when she didn’t come back from class, and Hemlock had her. Like this.” Some small sense of honesty caused him to add, “He said he didn’t do it.”
Kat stirred on the bed, blinking awake. He hadn’t ordered her to stay asleep, after all, just to sleep so it didn’t hurt.
“The princess awakens.” Zita smiled at her without teeth. “How do you feel, Sleeping Beauty?”
She woke, startled, not sure where she was. A little goblin in a nurse’s cap was leaning over her, smiling, a closed-mouth smile that made her even less certain. Exam room. Doctor’s office. She’d been here before. Agra, standing in a corner, looking sullen. She sat quietly, wondering what was going on. How do you feel, Sleeping Beauty? Even if she could have spoken, she wouldn’t have known how to answer that.
“Agravain, I need her to be able to talk to me.” The goblin – Zita, that was her name – sounded calm and reasonable. Kat wondered if she didn’t know Agra.
“Oh… oh. Kat, I take back the silencing order.”
“Thank you, sir.” Her voice came out thready and weird. She glanced back at Zita, wondering exactly what the question was supposed to be.
“Hmm. Where does it hurt, and what name do you prefer?”
“My… my ribs.” Thinking about them made her cough, but the cough cleared her throat. “My lungs? My back hurts a lot.” Agra had wanted her to answer. Thus, she could answer this one honestly. “I like Kay, or Katerina.”
“Kay. It’s nice to meet you, I’m Zita sh’Noemi cy’Caitrin oro’Leofric. Which means I’m a nursing student, and I’m healing you.” sh’Noemi cy’Caitrin oro’Leofric. Kay parsed that slowly. Daughter of… student of… belongs to. Agra’s crew used oro’ like it got rid of the others, but this girl didn’t.
Zita had started murmuring, Workings, probably, something soft. She glanced cautiously over at Agra.
“Kat.” He made the T sound loud and hard. “Are you okay? Did Hemlock hurt you? What were you doing in the hall?”
“Someone attacked me.” She pulled her knees up to her chest. “I tried to stop them, I really did.”
“Don’t make me kick your ass, Agravain.” Zita’s whisper was barely a breath on Kay’s ear, but it still made her tense up. No. No, please no. She shook her head in panic.
“Who attacked you? Who’s been touching my Kat?”
“I don’t know. I really don’t know. They were invisible.”
Zita patted her shoulder. It was probably supposed to be reassuring. It was, Kay had to admit, a little bit.
“I know.” What did he know?
Zita looked up from Kay to study Agra. No, please no.”You know, there’s some stuff that’s delicate… I think I had best call the doctor. I’ve done the preliminaries. Agravain, if you’d come with me?”
Agra, seeming somewhat cowed, followed Zita out of the waiting room. Kay flopped down on the bed and stared at the blue ceiling. With clouds. Somehow, Agra was going to find a way to make this her fault. She was going to be naked for a week or something. Running laps in the gym.
Running laps in the gym didn’t actually sound that bad…
“Ah, Akaterina. How are you feeling?”
“Sore?” She could talk to the Doctor. She could always talk to the Doctor; Agra had been very clear that he had nothing to hide from Dr. Caitrin and didn’t want her to think he was hiding anything, either. “Less sore, though. Zita patched me up…” It was almost a question. What was so bad that the doctor needed to see her, too?
“Mmm. Idu Tlacatl Akaterina sh’Elizabeta cy’Maureen oro’Agravain. She’s still a Student, so it behooves us to check her work. That’s all. Jasfe Tlacatl.” She rattled off a long string of Greek under her breath, none of which Kay caught. “There, right as rain. Just wait a few minutes, and your Keeper will be in to see to you.”
“Thank you, Doctor.” She had been surprised, at first, that the teachers took Keeping as a matter of course. Now, nothing surprised her.
Nothing except the look on Agra’s face, when he and Zita walked in a few minutes later. He looked worried. And something she couldn’t identify. And he took her hand, carefully, like he was afraid he’d break something.
“I… This wasn’t your fault, Kat. And when I find out whose fault it is, I’m going to hurt them.”
Angry, she understood. ”I tried,” she muttered.
“Or, if he wasn’t a gigantic guy, ‘I care about you and I’m sorry you got hurt.’“ Zita sounded like she thought she was being helpful.
“I… that.” Agra leaned down and kissed Kay’s cheek. ”I’m sorry you got hurt, Kat.”
It came out in a rush. He was being all worried, but this had been his fault in the first place! “I couldn’t even Work.” She meant it to come out quietly. Agra probably meant his expression to be less horrid, or less visible to Zita. As it was, it got him an elbow to the ribs.
“Give her a self defense standing exception, dummy.”
“Hey.” Did Zita really think riling him up was helping?
Apparently not. She spread her hands in acceptance that she probably crossed a line there.
And it seemed to work. ”I guess that makes sense,” he allowed. “Kat, you can, even when silenced, use Workings to defend yourself if attacked by someone other than me or Damaris.”
Other than them. Of course. “Thank you.” Because she needed to know before it came up, she added, “Kendon?”
Agra, she thought, might actually know what a jerk Kendon could be. ”If Kendon tries anything, yes, you can Work him into a puddle. Just don’t kill him.”
Zita giggled. ”I think you’re a lucky man, Agra.”
“Yeah?” For once, Kay agreed with him. What?
“I think I just fell a little bit in love with your Kept.” As they stared at Zita, she added, ”In a non-invasive way, obviously.”
“You what?” Kay squeaked it out. Who what how now? What had she done?
“You. You’re fabulous.”
“You are.” Who what the hell now? Agra didn’t quite make it believable, but he was trying.
“Thanks?” Kay wasn’t sure she what else she should say to that.
“Anything else you want, while we have you here? Change that tattoo, maybe add or subtract a bit?” Zita didn’t wait for an answer. “I guess I’ll leave you two, then.”
“Thank you.” Agra sounded more sincere this time.
”Either of you need anything – Agra, if you want to talk about how Kept think – you come see me. I’m always around.” She exited on that strange note. And, even stranger, Agra took Kay’s hand.
“It really wasn’t your fault, Kat.” This time, he made it sound believable.
This outtake was written in response to Rix’s donation and request for more Akaterina, possibly including Agra getting a clue.
In addition, large portions of this were written as a roleplay with Wysteria, who created Zita. All Zita’s lines here (and many of them elsewhere in the story) are her writing.
For every $5US donated, I will write 300 words on the character or situation of your choice. In addition, every donation will bring you to a small snippet of story – a new snippet every Wednesday!