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Chapter 16: Llew

10

December 19, 2012 by Lyn

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Llew wasn’t allowed to leave the suite right now, and it was driving him bonkers.

He had already cleaned everything in the kitchen until it gleamed – despite hating cleaning, despite the risk of irritating Kees, and despite that meaning that he was giving in to the restrictions placed on him.   Then he’d risked irritating Rory to dust and vacuum the living room, and decided he didn’t want to irritate himself cleaning the bathroom.

His homework was already done.  He’d read ahead a month in everything.  He’d finished the last of his Christmas shopping.  There was no way he couldn’t have fulfilled the order to “go be productive for a bit.”

It was time to bother his Keeper again.

Adelheid was in their room, working on a project.  She looked like she didn’t want to be disturbed.  But she usually looked that way, like she wasn’t sure what he was doing there, or like he wasn’t who she expected to see when she looked up.

She’d grabbed him.  He had been trying to get in the way of her grabbing someone else, and he had, but she’d made the decision to take him.  It never stopped irritating him that she couldn’t seem to remember that.

He gauged the set of her back now, the tilt of her head at the screen.  Engrossed in something.  If he went over to his corner, she’d never even notice he was in the room.

“There are people getting hurt out there.”  He aimed his words right at her neck. “There are people getting hurt, and I’m not out there protecting them.”

For a few minutes, she said nothing.  She kept typing, the number scrolling down her screen.  When the numbers paused, then, only then, did she bother acknowledging him.

“The goal is to make sure that you’re not one of them, Llew.”

“Not one of…!”  He paced the length of her room and back again.  “I want to be helping.  I don’t want to see my friends get hurt.  I don’t want to be sitting here safe while they’re getting clawed up.”

Only then did she turn to look at him.  “You want to protect them?”  He wasn’t sure, but he thought she might be curious.

“Of course I do!”

“Is that why…?”

“Why I got between you and Xanthia? Yeah!”  He glowered at her. “What did you think, I was a moron?”

He was pretty sure she did, actually.  She’d had him for three weeks, and barely talked to him.  She’d had him all this time, and she could barely stand to look at him.  It was getting under his skin.

“You were … ah, ha.  Ha.   You were trying to… ah, oh, departed gods!” It was a little chuckle at first, slowly building.  “And then I… oh, Lordie.  And now…” Her guffaws finally devoured her words.   She put both hands over her mouth, but that barely muffled the sound, and did nothing to hide the shaking of her shoulders.

Llew’s cheeks burned in humiliation.  “I know it was stupid.  But it was better me than her, with that look like Ahouva and Akaterina got.”

“You…”  She gasped through another laugh, and then shook her head, suddenly sober again. “That explains so much.   Oh, Llew, I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry?”  He tugged on the necklace she’d bought for him.  “Does that mean…?”  Did he want it to mean that?  She barely wanted him around.  He didn’t want to be following her around obeying her all year like some pitiful puppy.  He didn’t want to be her bitch.  He didn’t want her to let him go.

…wait, what?

Llew backed towards the bedroom door.  Something was going wrong with his brain, and he didn’t like it.

Heidi flapped a hand at him. “Stop that.  Come here, and let’s talk this over.”

“There’s still people getting hurt out there.”

“And I still don’t want you to be one of them.”  She didn’t have to argue with him; he didn’t have any choice in following her orders.  He stood by her chair, twitching, fingers drumming against his thighs, and didn’t answer.

She stood up, the better, he supposed, to not have a conversation with his belly.  “Do you want me to let you go, Llew?  What will you do, if I release you?”

“What?  What do you mean?”  Looking her in the eyes wasn’t comfortable; he let his gaze skitter over to the wall.  “You know, go to classes.  Help my friends out when they’ll let me.”

“Do you at least get it, now, why some of them can’t let you?”

He ran his fingers under the necklace. Collar, really, even if his didn’t look like something you’d put on a dog. “…yeah.  Yeah, I get it. Most of them, really.”

“And do you want me to let you go?” That question again.

“You don’t want anything to do with me!”

“It has nothing to do with you!”  Adelheid sat back down with a thump.  “Please… Llew, it’s not you.”

“But I’m the one you got a collar on.”

“And if it had been Xanthia… If I’d grabbed Xanthia instead of you, it would have been different.  Maybe not better, I guess. But different.  But you volunteered – whatever your reasons.”

Llew sat down on the bed. She wasn’t going to let him go until she was done talking, and he found that, since she almost never talked to him, he really wanted to hear what she had to say.

“But?”

“But I’m still in love with someone else, and I don’t think that’s going to change.  You’re cy’Fridmar, and I thought…”

“Oh.”  He’d laugh, if it weren’t so ridiculous.  “Oh.  Of course.”  He was cy’Fridmar.  Penny had told him to watch out for that.  “So, what now?”

“Well… look.  If you’re going to go be mister white knight protector, you really ought to spend a little time under the collar first so you know what you’re protecting against.

“I’ve already…” He tugged at the necklace.

“At least half a year.  And you should have some back-up with your white-knight stuff, until you learn what the combat is really like here.”

“I’m not sure I can stand half a year of you glaring at me for not being who you expect to see.”

The words were out before Llew had thought about them, and then it was too late to do anything.  Adelheid’s head jerked up, and her mouth opened as if to say something – or yell something.

Instead, she shut her mouth with a snap, and nodded.  “Okay, that’s fair.  It’s not fair to you, no, but really, the complaint part is fair.  So, what do we do about it?”

“Let me go?”  He didn’t mean it. He wanted to take it back the second he said it.  But it was out.

She shook her head no, slowly.  Llew tried to ignore the surge of relief that rushed through him.  “Like I said, I think it’s educational to be under the collar for a bit.  Especially for cy’Fridmar.”

“That again?”

“That again.  Just because your cy’ree has Penny doesn’t mean it didn’t have Bowen and Baram and Phelen.”

“But it has me, too.”  He sighed.  He could never budge her on that.  “Okay, you don’t want me, and you don’t want to let me go.”

“There are worse situations to be in, you know.”

“I know.  Someone’s probably out there getting beaten up by a monster right now.  That’s pretty bad.”

“Why didn’t you end up cy’Luca?”  She shook her head in what he hoped was amusement.  “Seriously, you really want to rescue the whole world, don’t you?”

“Don’t you?”

“I know where my limits are. I don’t think you do… that’s a pretty cy’Luca thing, by the way. Not knowing limits.”

“Could you stop with that?”  He knew he wasn’t supposed to yell at her, but that had been more of a suggestion than an order – he could tell, because he could do it.  “Seriously. I’m not cy’Luca.  I’m not a white knight, I’m not one of his little soldiers, and I don’t want to dive headlong into battle.  I’m not!

“So, instead, you’re a cy’Fridmar who wants to rescue people. Do you want to hoard them?”

She didn’t get angry when he yelled, she got calmer.  It made Llew want to shout and throw things.  “Yes! No! What’s the answer that will make you stop picking at me?”

She slapped a hand over his mouth.  “Llew!”  Oh, good, he’d made her raise her voice.  His cheeks stung, and she wasn’t moving her hand.  “Llew, by the thirteen departed gods.  I’m sorry, okay?”

What?

“Mmmf?”

“Look.”  She removed her hand from his mouth and took his shoulders instead.  “I’m sorry.  You aren’t what I expected.”

“Shouldn’t – ”

“Be quiet for a bit and let me talk, okay?”

Damn.  He nodded.  Quietly.

“You aren’t what I expected, and you’re right, you’re not…”

Anwell.

“…what I’m used to.  And I can’t do very good for you as a romantic partner.”

Romantic?  What?

She must have liked his expression; she smiled, at least.  “You hadn’t thought about that?”

He shook his head.  This wasn’t romance.  This was a well-padded prison.  This was slavery.  It was a leash. It was being her pet.  It was…

“The Bond doesn’t have to suck.  It doesn’t have to be slavery.”

He pursed his lips at her.  He was being silent because this was fun and games, right?

“Really.”  She pushed her knees against his, and moved her hands to his arms.  The touch felt like it was burning through his sleeves and pant legs.  “When I Kept Anwell, it was because he wanted to be Kept.  It was different from what we have, you and me, but we got along really well.    Not like jailor and prisoner, but friends.  Lovers.  I could be your friend – but another Keeper, you could end up with something really good with.”

Another Keeper.

“Uh.” It came out without sound.  She hadn’t told him he could talk yet.  But he could shake his head, and did, pretty clearly, he thought, suggesting his answer was no, no, no, no, no.

Wait, why not?

No.  No, she was his Keeper.

But…

“Llew.  Focus.  Here, look here at me.”  She shook his shoulders once, firmly.  “Dude.  It’s okay, I’m sorry.  I forgot how badly the Bond was gonna whiplash you on that one.  It’s okay.”  She hugged him tightly, making it hard for him to look at her.  “I know, you don’t want another Keeper, right?”

He shook his head.  He didn’t, thank you very much.

“You can talk again, sorry.”

“I don’t want a Keeper at all.  If I have to have one…”  It didn’t make any sense.  He frowned, and thought about the words coming out of his mouth. “What did you do to me?”

“I Kept you.”

“I knew that! I mean, what did you do to my brain?”

“Kept you.”  She held up her hand, so he didn’t yell again.  “It’s more than obedience.  It’s the way your brain works around being someone else’s.  Sort of sneaks in and makes you like it.”

“That’s fucked up.”

“Language.”

“Sorry.  But it’s really messed up.”

“It is.”  She squeezed his arms.  “And it’s hard to work around.  I can make it worse, or do my best not to make it bad, but that’s about all I can do. It’s still going to push on your brain.”

“So not only am I trapped, everyone here is trapped here, in this slavery, but the magic makes me like it? That’s fu- messed up.”

“It doesn’t make you like the abuse.  If there’s abuse.  It doesn’t make you like the things you wouldn’t.”  Her voice was quiet, and she wasn’t looking at him, seeing him, at all.  “Anwell told me that.  It doesn’t change who you are, not really.”

“That’s a relief.”  He couldn’t stay angry when she was like this.  “Anwell.  He… you…”  He didn’t want to be jealous.  That meant there was something between them.  There wasn’t anything between them but slavery.

“He’s come to visit.  Once in September.  Once in October.”  She didn’t look at him.

“And then you ended up Keeping me.”

“…Yeah.”

“What are you going to do when he comes to visit?  I can sleep on the couch, I guess.”

She was quiet for so long that he couldn’t help but look at her. Her lips were pursed together, and she was looking at him, really looking at him.  “You mean that, don’t you?”

“You keep being surprised by everything I say.”  He couldn’t stand the look in her eyes, like she was trying to look right through him.  “Like you’re talking to someone else.  Not him, either. You like him.”  Damnit, Llew, shut up.

“Not him.  You wouldn’t mind if Anwell came to visit?”

“Of course I’d mind! But I want you to be happy.  I want people to be okay, not hurting.”

“How are you cy’-”

“Stop. Asking. That.  Please.  Please just stop it.”  He needed to be moving again.  He stood up, doing his best not to look at her.  “Just because my cy’ree had Baram in it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have me, okay?  Just because I don’t want to play cy’Luca’s reindeer games does not mean I’m out to kidnap pretty girls and bring them home, even if that’s the game everyone around here wants to play.  All it means is that I got along better with Professor Fridmar than Luke, and I thought he could teach me well.  Okay?”

She held her hands up.  “Okay.  Okay.  Damn.  You should really meet my father.  He’d like you.”

That was a new one.  Llew leaned against the wall and tried to look at anything but her.  “Your dad?”

“Yeah.”  He could hear her waving her hand at him.  “Later.  So… look, I know it’s really going to make you uncomfortable.  The bond does that.  But we should find you a Keeper you can get along with.”

“One who wants me, you mean.”  He glowered at his shoes.  “Are you just going to go get Xanthia if you release me?”

“No.  She’s been spooked, anyway.  And… I don’t really want her, either.”

“You want Anwell.”  He didn’t think too hard about the lump in his throat.  “What if I don’t want another Keeper?  What if I want you?”

“You want to spend a year miserable?”

No.  He wanted her to want him.  But that was another can of worms.  He just shrugged at her.  “Can I go fight evil now?”

At least that got her to stop frowning at him; she was even startled into a little laugh. “It’s a pity you don’t like guys.  I should introduce you to my brother.  My other brother, not Rory.”

He knew that one.  “Leo, right? Sorry, still not really into guys.”

“That’s all right.  It’s not the easiest road to walk, here or anywhere.  Look, if you want to fight evil-doers, let me kit up, and I’ll go with you.”

“Go with…?”  It was his turn to stare at her in confusion.  She just grinned.

“I’m Aelfgar’s daughter.  I might not be Arnbjörg, but I can still kick some ass.”

Sunday, December 14, 2003, later

His Keeper had a wooden battle-axe.  She had a wooden battle-axe, and she knew how to use it.

Luke had taken one growly look at the two of them, and then, although clearly displeased, let them pass. “Be careful when the lights go out.”

Llew had been thinking ahead; he had two flashlights and a torch.  Hiko could mess with the flashlight, but he’d gotten Quintus to do a Preserve Working on it, back before either of them ended up wearing collars.  He also had two short blades, but neither of them were wood.

“Try not to kill anyone.”  That had been Luke’s parting advice, helpful as that wasn’t.

Adelheid’s to Llew hadn’t been much better: “Try not to get killed or maimed.”

“What about the people we’re rescuing?”

“Try not to maim them, either.”

She was more fun like this, he decided.  She moved like a lioness, sleek and quiet, so different from the way he’d pictured her, and she came at recon like a Navy SEAL.  If SEALs had magic.  Which, come to think of it, they might.

Llew forced his attention away from the smooth way she moved – this was not the time to get distracted, and she was not the one to let distract him.  They were in the third floor, and that had, in recent weeks, become a war zone.

“Recent activity here.  You can see the heat paths.”  Her voice whispered in his ear, better than a radio frequency, and she presented the image to his eyes: the trails of energy, fading quickly, moving down the halls and into the wall.  “They do this thing where they go through the walls.  I’m not sure if it’s like Porter or like Kat, or something completely different.”

She pointed to the ground, where a single sock lay forlornly.  “Think they left that?”

He shook his head.  The stripes around it, red-blue-red, he recognized from PE class.  “That’s Ahouva.”

“Well, I guess you might get to fight evil after all.  Or at least people that we don’t like.”

“They’re different things.”

“Keep on telling yourself that, kid.  Okay.  This way.”  She slipped around the corner, axe at the ready.  Llew had never seen a hotter sight.

Focus.  He had to focus.  He gripped his knife the way his father had taught him, and followed her around the corner.

“Well, shit.”

“What, what is it?”  All he could see was her back.  She’d stopped dead, and, while he was taller than her, her axe was blocking his view.  She wasn’t swinging it, that was a good thing, right?

“You sure that was Ahouva’s sock?”

“Well, I’m not a sock forensic expert… what is it?”  Any other woman, any other person, he would have moved them aside by this point.  But she was his Keeper, and she was Adelheid.

“You…” she chuckled throatily.  “You have to see this.”  She stepped aside.  “You’re good at Tulac… body, right?”

“Decent, why… oh. That’s definitely not Ahouva.”  He looked at the figure at her feet, big Amadeus, the collar still looking out of place around his neck.  ‘Deus was curled tightly around little blond Sofia.  She had a bloody nose and a chunk of hair missing; he had a long cut over one eye and scraped knuckles.  Both of them were unconscious, or, at the least, their eyes were closed and they weren’t moving.  “Or Ciara.”

“No, it’s not.  Can you wake them?”

“I think I can.”  He knelt down next to them, and pulled up his Tlacatl lessons.  “Jasfe Tlacatl Amadeus oro’Ciara… dormer.”

“Dormer?”  He ignored Adelheid’s scoffing and focused on fixing whatever had put ‘Deus to sleep.  “Shouldn’t you have woken Sofia up first?”

“You didn’t specify.  Guy with the collar gets it first.”

“That’s not the way the world works, Llew.”

“Fine.”  He glared at the slowly-waking Amadeus.  “Jasfe Tlacatl Sofia cy’Solomon dormer.”

Amadeus glared right back at him, although, it appeared, the oaf was trying to stand up already.  Sofia stirred in his arms.  “Oh… what?”

“I have to get her to Caitrin’s.”  Amadeus struggled to get to his feet without letting go of Sofia.  “I have to get her to Caitrin’s.”

“You don’t… oh.”  Sofia shifted in his arms.  “Here, let me help you.”

Llew didn’t care about her at the moment.  The big oaf looked miserable.  “Where’s Ciara?”  Have to probably meant an order, an order probably meant Ciara.  Unless she’d traded him or sold him or something.

There were reasons Llew wasn’t cy’Luca, okay?

“She’s that way.”  He pointed, still holding Sofia with the other arm.  “It took her.  She… I have to go.”

“We’ll get her.”  He got out of ‘Deus’s way, but not so quickly as to not see the relief on the guy’s face.

“Funny watching him wear a collar.”  The hallway they’d been in appeared to be a dead end; Adelheid began muttering Workings at the walls.  “Turnabout and all.”

“That didn’t look really funny.” He’d looked miserable, all tied up in orders and worried about Ciara.

“Ci’s not a bad Keeper, for a first-year student.”  Adelheid smiled.  “Been there, although I didn’t have to challenge mine.”

Llew knew that.  He tilted his head at the wall.  “Are we going through there?”  Please, monsters.  Fighting evil.  No more thinking about the guy that wasn’t him.

“Yeah.  Blades ready? Working ready?”

“Yes, ma’am.”  This school needed a ROTC program.

She muttered a bit more at the wall, and then pushed her hands apart, spreading the wall apart in front of them.

It wasn’t a real wall.  No drywall, no studs.  Their enemy had made the wall, then.  Or their people had.   He’d seen the staff do that a couple time, Work up temporary walls to protect an area.

“This is surreal.  I really ought to go get Noam.”  It was a weak joke, and he didn’t think Adelheid would get it, but it made him feel better.  “He loves the dungeon crawl thing.”

“Only if he’s a cleric.”

“Rogue, sorry.”  Hunh.  He hadn’t expected that from her.

“Too bad… unh!”  The grunt punctuated a sudden swing of her battle-axe.  Llew got out of her way, ducking down to the left and under her swing so he could see what was coming at her.

Water-giant, he decided: red eyes, blue skin, blue hair, tall enough that he had to duck.  And broad, way too broad.  He was swinging a sword, something clearly made of wood.

Llew had been drilling for months.  One hand flew out, tossing the darts Professor Fridmar had custom-made for him. He hissed out a Working at the same time, one of what Dr. Caitrin called her “dirty dozen” of very non-healer Workings.

Adelheid swung her axe at the same time, sweeping towards the giant’s midsection.  The giant was reaching for her; Llew slammed up with a knife to parry.

He missed the parry and drove the blade into the giant’s wrist.  Still worked as a deflection, though it threw him off-balance and into the wall.  And the giant had his knife now, and another hand to slam into Adelheid.

Llew’s head felt imbedded into the wall. On the upside, this angle gave him a good vantage point behind the giant – enough that he could see the flap of red cloak back there.  Ciara, probably.   “Found her.”  He started muttering another Working, the second in the dirty dozen, the Penny Special.

“Get her when you get an opening.”  Adelheid was swinging the axe again.  The giant grunted in pain, and then, as Llew’s Working took hold, in distress.  The noise moved quickly from a grunt to a keen that ripped at Llew’s ears.

“Going.”  He muttered the fourth of the dozen, skipping the second half of the Penny Special for now.  The giant’s noise cut off as suddenly as it had started, as the monster found himself without functioning vocal cords and with his mouth sealed shut.

“Whatareyoudoing whatareyoudoing what are you doing?”  The voice was tiny and tinny and shrill, and was coming from behind the giant.  Llew, who was taking the giant’s distraction to slide along the wall, under a flailing arm, thought for a moment that it was Zita coming at him.

The squeaking, yelling person was small, at least as tiny as Boom’s terrifyingly tiny member, although a second glance told him her hair was far fairer and her body was thinner.  She was, he was alarmed to see, just as sharp.

Zita bit people for fun.  Llew had discovered this his second week here. This one, this one had long fangs too, but she didn’t look like she was enjoying anything at all.  She was still shouting, too.  “Why are you hurting him! Whatareyoudoing?”

As long as she was still shouting in English, and not Workings.  He held up his forearm with its heavy denim jacket, just about at tiny-goblin-girl-mouth level.  “We’re just trying to get our friend.”

“She’s our friend now! You can’t have her anymore, she’s ours now.  Oursnowoursnowoursnow.”  She was a lot more shrill than Zita.  That was not fun.  And she was between him and Ciara, and stomping her foot.  And, shit, that was a Tempero, wasn’t it? Yep.  “Tempero Eperu…”

He began muttering the Penny special again, going as fast as he could.  “Sorry, kiddo, Qorawiyay  Tlacatl stoma sfragísei.”

“Can you put them to sleep?”  Adelheid’s voice sounded strained.  Shit, he’d gotten distracted with the goblin-girl.

“Yeah, that one’s easy.  Keeping them asleep is trickier.  Tempero Tlacatl kai Intinn ýpnos gamma.”  He put as much energy in it as he could, since he didn’t know their names.

“He’s really freaking out.  Shit, shit, Shit.”  The thump right after that sounded painful.  “Llew.  Can you carry Ciara?”

“What? Of course I can, she’s tiny.”

“Okay.  Get this oaf off of me, I’ll grab his buddy, and we’re heading back to town.”

Llew swallowed a chuckle and pried the sleeping giant off his keeper. “Back to town?  You really are a closet nerd.”

“Nothing closet about it.  Go get Ciara before we get ambushed again.”

~

Sunday, December 14, 2003, even later

“You’re already pretty good in combat.”  Adelheid was ticking things off on her fingers.  “You deal well in a tense environment, and you think fast on your feet.  You’re not afraid to attack a girl.”  The seats in Dr. Caitrin’s waiting room were designed to be comfortable, but after three hours, even they could only do so much.  Llew’s stomach was growling, and his feet were falling asleep.  “That’s a big one, by the way.  A lot of white kni-“

“I’m not a white knight.  I’m really not.”

“Nope.  White knights make mistakes you’re not making, for the most part.”

“Not all white knights.”  Luke had finally come out of the back room.  “Llew, who taught you those moves?”

“Dr. Caitrin, sir.  She called that one-”

“-her Penny special, yes.  I might need to have a talk with Penestemon about that. You do know…”

“-that some fae can survive suffocation? Yeah.  So even if I seal of her nose, it won’t kill her.  On the other hand, it stops Working.”

“I was going to say, that older fae don’t need to vocalize to Work.”

“Oh.  Well, it’s a start?”  Luke always left him feeling like this.  That was one reason he wasn’t cy’Luca.  One of many.  “I mean, does it even…”

“It slows them down quite a bit.  I just wouldn’t want you to get surprised.”

“Thank you, Luke.”  Adelheid cut over the conversation before it could get weirder.  “I’ll have a talk with Professor Fridmar, if you’d like, and make sure Llew’s combat training is all in order.”

Llew wasn’t really good at nuance, but really, he wouldn’t think of Adelheid and Luke as being big on subtlety, either.  They were staring each other down, though, in a glower-fest that seemed to have tons of subtext he wasn’t getting.

Her family tended to go cy’Doug or cy’Luca a lot, didn’t they?  And she hung out with Doug’s cy’ree… but she’d gone cy’Maureen.  For the first time, it occurred to Llew to wonder why.

Luke’s face suggested he was wondering something, too, and then he coughed.  He didn’t break eye contact, but he seemed to cede the field without actually giving up any ground (Llew would have to figure out how he’d done that).  “We managed to get some information from Tokko.  I thought you’d like to come in and see what she had to say, since you were the one who captured her.”  His wings flared and folded back in on themselves.  “We’re going to need to start telling students what’s going on, no matter how much some people want to keep it quiet.  I told Regine you two should be the first.”

Llew knew a peace offering when he heard one.  He elbowed Adelheid lightly in the ribs until she broke her stoneface routine.

“Thank you, sir, that would be very much appreciated.”  She couldn’t help one last dig, though, could she?  She stood up, stretching, showing off… showing off to Luke?  Llew didn’t want to think about that too much.  “Like my Mentor always says, knowing your enemy is the first step in planning any attack.”

Ciara

Sunday, December 14, 2003, even later still

“Key, damnit…”  Amadeus angry was not the most pleasant thing to wake up to, but it had advantages.  For one, it meant she was probably safe.  If not, it meant he was with her, which reassured Ciara more than she wanted to admit.

“You like saying that to me.”  Her voice was weaker than seemed normal.  She coughed, and tried again.  “You like yelling at me when I’ve been hurt.”

“Only when it’s my fault.  I spend too much time staring at you in the doctor’s office.”

Doctor’s office.  She risked opening her eyes.  Amadeus’ worried – but healed – face glowered down at her.  “You could not stare, you know.”

“I don’t know what else I’m going to do.  Pace?  I tried that for a while, too.”

“You’re okay?”  It was a change of subject, but she needed that right now.

“I’m fine.  Sofia’s fine – and that was a shitty thing to do, Ciara.”

“It was the logical thing to do. She was more injured than I was by far.”

“But you’re mine.”

“Mmm?”  She barely had any energy left, still – she must have tanked herself out more than she knew – but she attempted the Look anyway.  It must have worked; he started squirming.

“Okay, okay, I’m yours. But you’re my Keeper.  And I’m pretty sure I get to worry about you, right?”

“You get to worry about me.  But thank you for bringing Sofia here.”

She waited for him to grumble that he hadn’t had a choice, but he didn’t.  He was almost bouncing from foot to foot.  “What is wrong with you?”

Now he went from bouncing to glowering. “They’re your orders.”

That didn’t tell her anything. “You don’t have to stand here, if you have to use the bathroom.  You don’t have any orders like that.”  Unless she’d been writing orders in her sleep, which would be a neat but not very good trick.

“I don’t have to take a piss!”  His glare looked more like the old Amadeus than he’d looked in a while – violent and angry and full of himself.  Ciara caught herself flinching.

“Well then what is wrong with you?” Nerves made her angry, which made her snap.  He didn’t get to glower and snarl at her.  He’d lost the challenge.

“I can’t touch you!”

Oh.  Well, there was that.  He didn’t have any allowances for “when we’re in the Doctor’s office.” “Why didn’t you say something?”

“Because it’s humiliating.”

“Yelling at me is not a good way to be less humiliated.”  She took his hand anyway, even as she saw the realization start to sink in.

“Shit.  Shit, I’m in trouble, aren’t I?”

“When we get home.  For now… come here.  You may touch me.”

“Thank you.” It wasn’t a very grateful mutter, but it was something.  “…Mistress.”  He crawled into the bed and pressed against her, cautiously reaching around her shoulder.  “The Doctor said she healed everything, but you still weren’t waking up.”

“I’m awake now.  I… I was having nicer dreams than reality had been.”

“Did that freak…”  The rumble in his voice boded ill for anyone that got in his way. Ciara tried to remind herself that he wasn’t actually threatening her, but her body wasn’t listening.

Amadeus noticed faster than he had in the past.  His rumble vanished, and he stroked her arm nervously.  “Hey, hey.  I’m not… sorry, sorry, Mistress.  I just don’t like the thought of anyone hurting you.”

“It’s all right.  He wasn’t pleasant, but he only broke two ribs.”  She hugged him close to her, wondering, once again, what she was going to do with him.   “I’ve survived worse.”

“I know you have.”  He didn’t mention, and neither did she, that he’d done worse. “I still don’t have to like it.”  He hugged her tighter to him, and she didn’t move to stop him.  After the creature in the dungeon, she could use a little overprotective warmth.


Addergoole: Year Nine updates every Wednesday evening EST. Want more?

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10 comments »

  1. capriox says:

    aw, so much awesome in this chapter. Yay awkward pairings! Yay Luke being Luke-tastic!

    • Lyn says:

      *grins and purrrs*

    • Gudy says:

      Even more yay for the people in those awkward pairings starting to figure out how to make them slightly less awkward. 😀

      Typos:
      “Do you want to horde them?” horde -> hoard

      “he had long cut over one eye and scraped knuckles” -> missing “a” before “long”

      “although he was, it appeared, the oaf was trying to stand up already” -> might be intentional, still sounds awkward.

      “Ciara,
      probably” -> extra new-line

      • Lyn says:

        Typos fixed, thanks.

        I think Heidi and Llew will always be a bit awkward as a couple, but possibly not as a Keeper-Kept pairing.

  2. Rix says:

    We know she’s in love with Anwell, but showing off to Luke?

    I wonder if he wouldn’t take her as a Student?

    I think I have a typo: “They we staring each other down”

  3. AlpineBob says:

    Crap, it’s getting to the good stuff and I’m all caught up.
    ::wry grin::

    “So even if I seal of her nose, it won’t kill her.”
    off

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