December 25, 2012 by Lyn
This is a bonus guest story, because of the timing of this particular bit of Lemon’s plot.
This bonus story was written by Rix Scaedu.
Lemon had been looking forward to going home for Christmas. It would have meant two full days’ travel to get there and back but she would have had three days at home with her parents, brother and sister. Three days of family celebrations and a chance to sit down face to face with her parents to explain that they were going to be grandparents before she finished her first year of college. That was not a conversation she wanted to happen over the phone or in a letter. There were some things she wasn’t looking forward to explaining at all and she still had the sinking feeling that they were going to be disappointed in her.
Luke had told her that it was too dangerous for her to leave the school. Doug had agreed and then one or both of them had called her father who had agreed with them. So Lemon wasn’t going home for Christmas. Most of her crew were staying as well and they were planning a Christmas dinner with guests and presents – it was going to be fun. On the down side, she’d gotten the feeling over the last few days that she was being watched. Followed even. She’d mentioned it to Yolanda on their way back from training last night and the other girl too had thought for a moment that someone was there. Neither of them had any idea who it was.
None of the upperclassmen had seemed interested in Lemon for ages. Once they’d found out she was pregnant most of them had gone looking for other prey. Dirk had hung around longest, and she had to admit he talked a good talk, but Olifur had sent him on his way shortly after Lemon had moved into the suite with the crew. Then Olifur had warned her about Dirk in no uncertain terms – Lemon had looked up the unfamiliar phrases in the library and decided that Olifur had probably been right to do so. So it probably wasn’t Dirk.
Of course, he wasn’t the only thing lurking in the halls. People were being beaten up. Something had happened to Jovanna. Then in the two weeks before Christmas break Nilam, Ciara, Amadeus and Sofia had all gotten chewed up and there were rumours… That could be why in the last couple of training sessions Doug had been emphasising situational awareness. Something she should be exercising now on the way to the store. The shopping list in her hand was for their Christmas dinner. The word ‘chicken’ at the top had been crossed out, not because it had been replaced by the ‘turkey’ below it but because they’d opened the fridge to check the milk and OJ supply to find a fresh chicken sitting on one of their plates inside. Lemon had slipped out to do the shopping while Wylie was expounding his never-empty-cookie-jar theory to the others and Cody was swearing blind that it hadn’t been there when she last snacked.
The easiest way for Lemon to check if anyone else was around was a quiet, “Idu hugr.” She imagined the effect of the words rippling out around her like the aftereffects of a stone thrown into water or like radar. And felt an echo of satisfaction shaded with a few harder to identify feelings come back to her from one of the alcoves ahead.
Hylakaros was pleased with himself. It had taken him three weeks after the plane trip to get work out of the way and then experiments with a couple of different bedwarmers had shown that although they provided physical release he didn’t sleep as well with them as he had with the girl on the plane. So he’d gone to find out where the tracking device he’d put on her coat was and it wasn’t working anymore. That was…interesting and got his attention. He’d hacked the passenger lists of the airline and gotten her name and then he’d managed to find her departure from airport where they’d parted company. That had led him to a part-time airport in the middle of a wheat field. It had taken a while to find the warding. Longer to get inside. What he’d found in this ashanevai hive-nest was both intriguing and appalling. He could feel the Workings that bound this place trying to twist and enthral his mind, creating a discomfort that meant all he wanted to do was grab the girl and get them both out of here.
Well, they were in a camera blind spot and there was no time like the present. He walked out of the alcove and was within four feet of her when he dropped his glamour.
They spoke simultaneously.
Lemon, shocked, “You’re the guy from the plane.”
Hylakaros, calmingly, “I’m here to rescue you.”
Lemon stepped backwards. “How did you get in here?” A thought occurred to her, “How did you find me?”
“It wasn’t as easy as it ought to have been,” he admitted smoothly. “You need to come with me now. This place is twisting your mind against you. I can get you out of here to somewhere safe.” He took a step towards her and held out his hand.
Then, “You’re the one who tagged my coat!” Shock, surprise and fear showed on the girl’s face as she took another step backwards and turned to run. He lunged after her and caught her in three steps, both arms around her torso and a sweet little morsel of prey she was too.
He was on her in a moment, wrapping his arms around her and trapping her own arms at her sides. Lemon drove her heel down into his instep, tried to jab one of her constrained elbows into his solar plexus and threw her head back as hard as she could, trying to hit his face. His boots and jacket seemed to be too heavy to let any force from her blows reach him and he lifted his head and all she hit with the back of her head was his jacket. She started screaming at the top of her voice, “Luke! Doug! Stranger! Help!” She hoped that would bring someone but before she could repeat it he shifted his hold and while one arm still pinned her arms and torso to his chest the other was clamped firmly across her mouth.
He spoke quietly into her ear, “If the Working in this place wasn’t twisting your mind into this, I would be getting very angry with you right now, sweetling. Now, settle down-“ Lemon bit the palm of his hand as hard as she could.
He took the hand off her mouth and held it in front of her face so she could see that her teeth hadn’t penetrated his skin. “You can’t hurt me, sweetling, and I appreciate your determination but I think your first lesson is going to have to be obedience. Now, let’s get out of here.”
Lemon’s vision focused on the marks she’d left on his palm. Her eyes began to burn, her skin and scalp felt like they were on fire and she screamed in pain instead of screaming for help. While she whimpered her captor turned her around in his embrace and picked up one hand. Her vision was blurry now but Lemon thought she could see shining marks on her arm. He chuckled, “It’s alright. You’re Changing. Shhh, now,” he picked her up in both arms and cradled her against his chest, “let’s get you somewhere safe.” Lemon lay there feeling warm and snug, the tears rolling out of her burning eyes. She really did feel better with him holding her.
“I’d say that’s about enough.” Luke’s voice seemed to echo through the halls. “Our doctor can take it from here.”
From another direction came Doug’s voice, sounding more like Luke’s than usual and at the same time deeper and angrier than Lemon had ever heard him. “Let her go.”
“This one is mine. I’m not interested in the rest of your pets. Let us leave and there won’t be any trouble.” Hylakaros glanced down at the tear-stained face resting against his shoulder, “Besides she seems to like being held, by me.” He went to take a step but his foot wouldn’t move.
“She does seem to.” Luke’s voice was steady, but growing closer. “Which bears study. Let us take the girl to the doctor and we can discuss matters.”
Hylakaros shifted his weight and tried to move his other foot. It didn’t budge either. “I would prefer to leave and make my own arrangements for her, thank you. I take it that this effect is an attempt to make me do things your way?”
“She is my Student.” Doug managed to agree with Hylakaros and assert possession in his four-word near-grunt.
Closing in, Reid’s voice was a calm, rational note to the rumblings of the other two teachers. “We’ve sworn to her care and protection for her time here; we can’t let you take her out of the school. And the longer you stand here arguing, the longer she’s in pain.”
Lemon opened her eyes again to find that the world was still blurry and that having them open didn’t make them or anything else hurt more than having them closed. “Doug is my Mentor,” she agreed, adding, “I am not a pet and I do not Belong to you.”
Hylakaros swore in something Lemon didn’t recognise but the tone was unmistakable.
“Even if you swear at me and even if you holding me makes me feel better.” She closed her eyes again. “Besides, there are at least three of them and one of you. You seem to know this stuff better than I do but I don’t like your odds.”
They seemed determined to all be on the same page, all repeating the same line.
“Very well,” Hylakaros wasn’t happy but sometimes you had to pick the ground for your battles carefully, “we’ll take her to your doctor but I carry her, as a sign of mutual good faith.”
“Lemon?” Doug’s voice was still a growl. “That okay?”
She opened her eyes again and looked as closely at Hylakaros’ face as her position and her blurry vision would allow. “If he promises to behave himself, on your terms, yes.”
“What?” Hylakaros was growling at her now.
“You’re tricky,” Lemon explained. “Beautiful but tricky. You’re planning something.” She closed her eyes again and rested her head back on his shoulder.
Doug barked out a laugh, one echoed by several other voices. “She’s got you there.” That was, Lemon thought, probably Niassa cy’Luca. “I’d make the promise if I were you.”
Hylakaros was definitely outnumbered and even the girl in his arms was working against him. “Very well, what do you want me to say?”
“Doug will give you the words,” a few more tears slid down her face and she grasped his lapel with one small hand, its back carrying several glowing marks, as if she were trying to pull herself closer to him.
Doug rumbled unhappily. “Promise to take her to our doctor’s office, no-where else, and to abide by the doctor’s wishes. Then we’ll talk.”
“I promise to take this girl to your doctor’s office, no-where else, and to abide by the doctor’s wishes,” Hylakaros smiled, “and then I promise we will talk.”
Doug rumbled and nodded. “We will. This way.”
The halls were empty, except their escort of glowering teachers and students, and it took less time than it seemed like it should to reach the doctor’s.
“This way.” Caitrin’s voice was crisp and professional. “I’m sorry, young man, your name…?”
“Hylakaros.” He paused, “You’ll have to forgive me, I didn’t manage to slip in here before, where do you want me to take her?”
“Right through here.” The doctor swept into her examination suite and opened a door. “Set her down on the bed there, although you can hold her hand if she wishes.”
“Very well.” He walked over to the bed. “I’m going to put you down now, sweetling, so you’re going to have to let go of my jacket.” He was pleased to see the girl release the lapel of her own volition. She was listening to him, that was good. “Down you go.” As soon as he let her go the tears started flowing again and he saw her bit her lower lip. Then she opened her eyes, looked at him and grabbed his hand in hers. “So you do want to hold my hand?” She nodded, relaxing to grip on her lip a little and he put his other hand over hers while she turned her attention to the doctor.
“Interesting.” The doctor pursed her lips, and waved off the crowd of people gathered around the bed. “Give me room to breathe. Give the girl room to breathe. Now, Lemon…” she paused to mutter a string of words under her breath. “Where does it hurt?”
“My skin feels like it’s on fire everywhere except my neck and face. My eyes feel like they’re burning too and my vision’s gone blurry.” She swallowed. “If I’m Changing, then this’ll be over soon, right?”
“It should end rather soon. All right.” She handed Lemon a small cup of water and a blue pill. “This will help with the symptoms, and you are, indeed, Changing. This young man appears to be the… catalyst.”
Lemon put the pill in her mouth and washed it down with the water. She had to let go of Hylakaros’ hand to do that but grabbed it again as soon as she’d drained the water and finished swallowing. “Him or his abduction attempt?” As soon as she’d asked, Lemon realised that the question hadn’t been tactful but she had a feeling that the answer might be important.
Caitrin muttered again for a moment. “The abduction attempt. That you feel better holding him is something we’ll have to look into in more depth.”
“Yes, ma’am. How do we do that?” While the girl was talking to the doctor, Hylakaros evaluated his likely opponents. A short, pureblood Hunter; a bespectacled man, fully Masked; the one called Doug, Masked, probably a Hunter and giving him a look that promised death; two girls, one horned, probably students, but athletic and physically competent; and a boy dressed with an eye for buckles, including a collar, tall and spiky. It wouldn’t do to dismiss the doctor either, he knew how much damage tlacatl could do. The girl herself, well from what he’d seen so far he could easily overpower her and what sort of name was Lemon? The adults were the main threat and together they’d overmatch him. His best chance would be to face them one by one but that would be difficult to arrange. He would have to wait and watch for his chances.
“We’ll need to involve Dr. Mendosa. And I think we’ll need to hold this nice young man for study while you’re here. Would you mind being kept overnight for observation?”
“If you think I should stay, then I will,” Lemon thought that was only sensible. She remembered why she’d left the suite in the first place and turned to her crewmate, “Niassa, I’d give you the shopping list but I dropped it back there.”
“I think I can come up with something – or Wylie can. You sit tight, Lemon. Stay here where it’s safe.”
Dr. Caitrin looked directly at Hylakaros. “I’d like you to stay with her, so long as you mean her no harm nor ill-will.”
“I have promised to abide by your wishes, doctor.” Hylakaros growled that out then glanced at Doug.
She nodded crisply. “Good. It bodes well for her well-being if you can continue to do so. Stay with Lemon tonight, then, and do her no harm, nor take her from this room.” She coughed. “There’s a toilet and a sink behind that screen.”
“Thank you,” he meant that sincerely. He looked around the room, “I’d appreciate a chair too.”
“I’ll bring a couple in.” Luke’s voice had clear threat in it.
“I did promise,” Hylakaros reminded him.
“You did,” Lemon agreed, looking up at him. “Are you a nice young man?”
He gave her a feral grin. “No, I’m not.”
“Then you’re probably looking for a way around, through or after your promise to get what you want,” she commented calmly. “Like I said, beautiful but tricky.”
Luke coughed. “Lemon, you seem rather… fond of this intruder?”
She turned so she could look at Luke but didn’t let go of Hylakaros’ hand. “Aside from him trying to kidnap me and saying he’d teach me obedience, he makes me feel…safer. Holding his hand or being held by him either makes my Change not hurt as much or makes it easier for me to tolerate the pain, I’m not sure which. When we sat next to each other on the plane on my trip here I fell asleep all over him, I’m not sure for how long but I remember that I had good dreams.”
“Mmmm.” The PE teacher growled quietly. “Then I suppose he’s going to need to stay.”
“Well.” Caitrin shooed the rest of Lemon’s impromptu rescue party out the door. “Your babies are fine, Lemon, and you will be fine as well. I’ll send in Doctor Mendosa to observe, but for now, try to get some rest. And you, young man, try not to stress her unduly.”
Hylakaros watched impassively as the ashanevai filed out the door, the one called Doug and the unmasked Hunter glaring at him as they left. He was sure the Hunter would be back in a few moments with the chairs, it would be a long night. “So, sweetling, how did you get pregnant?” He kept his voice light, as if he was speaking of something inconsequential.
She sighed and admitted, “The teacher in hugr class.”
His chortle was unexpected and she looked at him sharply. “Your lot aren’t that different from my people, then,” he told her. “Payment in kind?”
“No, nothing like that,” she shook her head. “One of the other students got carried away and the Professor and I went all the way. In front of the rest of the class.” She blushed.
He looked her up and down, “I can’t imagine he objected.”
“Actually, it seems rather embarrassed about losing control,” she corrected him.
“It?” He smiled. “You got your first born sired by a Dragon? Clever girl!” He leant over and kissed her forehead.
“Not a Dragon.” Luke’s growl seemed to fill the room. “A Daeva.”
He brought a chair round to the Nedetakaei in silence then returned to the one he’d left on his side of the bed. They sat opposite each other, Luke glaring at Hylakaros and Hylakaros gazing back at Luke. Lemon looked at them both, sighed, and tried to nap.
She may have drifted off; either way, Luke and Hylakaros hadn’t moved when Dr. Mendosa walked in.
“Dr Mendosa,” Lemon greeted her, “good afternoon.” Both men switched their gaze to the psychologist rather than each other.
“Good afternoon, Lemon, Luke, and…”
She had brought in her own chair and sat down very close to Lemon and Hylakaros.
“Dr Mendosa, this is my stalker, Hylakaros,” Lemon made the introduction. “Hylakaros, Dr Mendosa is the school psychologist. Doctor, Dr Caitrin said you were going to observe?”
Dr. Mendosa nodded, clearly barely hiding a smirk. “Yes. There appears to be a connection between the two of you, and I – and the rest of the Administration – would like to learn what it is. If you could hold Hylakaros’ hand and focus on the feelings that brings forward?”
She held out her hand to him and he took it. Lemon closed her eyes and concentrated on how she felt. It was jumbled at first but then it settled: safe; protected; in a still moment of everything being right with the world.
The doctor murmured a long, complex Working, and then, more quietly, simply “Hrrm.”
She murmured some more Workings and then, a few moments later, “and how long have you known each other?”
“We sat next to each other on the plane from Seattle to the airport I got the plane to here from,” Lemon said slowly, “and then there was today.”
Hylakaros replied with a touch of amusement, “The plane and today plus some time trying to get her alone after I got into this place.”
“We noticed,” Luke’s grumble was getting deeper and more threatening.
“Very interesting. Well, Hylakeros, how old are you? How long have you been an Adult?”
“Twenty-four and a little over five years.” He still sounded faintly amused.
“Very interesting. So you’re still rather young, as the fae number things, and not, ah, too far distant from Lemon here.”
“And that matters?” He raised an eyebrow at her and crossed his arms.
“Yes, I’d say it does. Tell me, young man, why did you break into an enemy stronghold for a girl you’d met once in passing?”
He hesitated and flicked his glance between Luke and Dr Mendosa. “I don’t see that this is covered by my promise but I don’t get to not answer, do I?”
Luke nodded almost imperceptibly.
Hylakeros sighed and spoke to Lemon. “You weren’t the only one who fell asleep all over the person next to them on the plane. I just woke up first. It was the best I’d slept in months and the best I’ve slept since, too. I tagged your coat in case it was just you but I thought maybe all I needed was a bedwarmer.” A wry twist to his lips and an almost laugh. “That was a…mixed result. Certainly didn’t help my sleep, so I thought I’d track you down. That was when I found my tracker wasn’t working anymore and that, that was very interesting.”
Lemon didn’t say anything but looked at him with an interested, thinking expression on her face, the crease between her eyebrows making her look quite serious.
“You’ve bonded.” Mendosa’s explanation was succinct if unhelpful. “It may be a function of one of your Changes or both; considering Lemon’s ancestry, I’m certain hers is at least a portion of it. But as Lemon is Promised to this school for the duration of her education – well, it looks as if we have two choices.”
Luke cracked his knuckles.
“I see,” Hylakaros’ voice sounded relaxed but that was not how Lemon read his body language.
“Excuse me,” if she didn’t ask now perhaps she wouldn’t get to ask at all. “What is “bonded”? And what are the two choices?”
“I’m still discovering the extent of it, but it appears that your innate powers have determined that you are two halves of the same whole – mystically connected. It’s similar to a mutual Keeping in some ways – ah, I should see if Mabina and Cassidy can come visit.”
“And the two choices,” Luke growled. “The boy stays here. Or he dies.”
“I see. Thank you.” Lemon thanked Luke gravely and turned to Hylakaros, “Under other circumstances I probably wouldn’t like you very much.”
He gave her the feral grin again. “Having you like me didn’t come that much into my plan, sweetling.”
Lemon nodded in acknowledgement and added with a catch in her voice, “But I’d rather you didn’t die.”
“So would I, sweetling.” He rubbed her hand soothingly as he turned to Luke. “I don’t think I’d go down without a fight but I think it’s time for my second promise to Doug to come into effect.”
“Indeed.” Luke nearly growled the word out. “He’s her Mentor, after all. Doctor, if you would…?”
Dr. Mendosa nodded and left the room, presumably to fetch Doug.
The three of them stayed there in silence with Luke glowering and Hylakaros rubbing Lemon’s hand until Doug and Dr Mendosa returned.
“Talk,” Doug grunted.
Hylakaros kept rubbing Lemon’s hand. “My options are stay here or die,” he glanced briefly at Luke. “I prefer that I don’t die and Lemon prefers that I don’t die.” He grinned humourlessly, “You can check with your friends that I’m not putting words in her mouth if you like. So, what are the possibilities under ‘stay here’?”
Doug’s frown, if anything, deepened. “Lemon…?”
“I don’t want him dead,” she agreed in a small voice.
“Fine.” He cracked his knuckles. “Be hers. Like a student here.”
“What?” Hylakaros looked confused.
Lemon on the other hand, sat bolt upright, her eyes wide in shock. “You want me to Keep him?”
“He needs to be controlled. Keeping’s easier than mind control.”
“Hang on,” that was Hylakaros, “she’s your Student and she can Keep?”
Lemon was looking Hylakaros up and down but spoke to her Mentor. “I would need you to tell me what orders to give him.”
“Fine.” He cracked his knuckles. “Belong to me for her time here.”
Behind them, Luke barked out a laugh.
“That will be how long?” Hylakaros asked. “And what happens when she finishes here?”
“She’s in her first year of four,” Luke answered. “And when she finishes here – the four of us will talk. We cannot let her go to the Shenera Oseraei,” you understand.”
“I don’t see that as a problem myself,” a wry twist to his mouth, “but I can see that you would want her to be like you. I would hope to have significant amounts of time with her when she is not engaged in her studies or other tasks.”
“Course,” Doug grunted.
“Since that’s why we’re letting you live,” his father clarified.
Hylakaros took a deep breath in and let it out again. He squeezed Lemon’s hand. “Very well. On those terms and with those understandings, I agree to be Kept by Doug for the remainder of Lemon’s education in this school.”
Doug nodded, with a little grunt. “For the rest of Lemon’s education here, you’re mine.” He glowered over Hylakaros at Lemon. “He’d better be worth it.”
“Yes sir, I hope so.” She squeezed Hylakaros’ hand back.
“Good,” he grunted. He tilted his head at Hylakaros. “When you leave this room, come immediately to me.”
“Yes Master.” Hylakaros bowed his head. Doug looked at him sharply but left the room after patting Lemon on the knee and giving Luke a quick nod.
As Doug left Niassa entered carrying clothing. “Sir,” she nodded to Luke then explained to Lemon, “Lemon, I’ve brought you one of my nightshirts to sleep in. It fits me so it’ll probably be a bit big for you,” she shrugged her shoulders, “but what can we do? Oh, and don’t worry about the Christmas shopping. Wylie and Cody found the list and we’re good to go.” She handed Lemon the nightshirt.
“Thank you,” Lemon smiled at her crewmate. “Oh, yes. Niassa, this is Hylakaros oro’Doug. Hylakaros, this is my crewmate Niassa cy’Luca.” She smiled tentatively at them both.
“Come on, Niassa,” Luke grunted. “Let’s let Lemon change.” He glared firmly at Hylakaros as he pulled his student out the door.
“I’ll just go behind the screen,” Lemon slipped off the bed. “Could you wait here please?”
“Fine.” He smiled.
She took about five minutes and that included the toilet flushing. Niassa’s night shirt was too large in the neck and left her bare almost to her shoulders. The three quarter sleeves almost reached her wrists and it ended below her knees.
Hylakaros’ first words when he saw her come nervously out from behind the screen, carrying her clothes were, “It suits you.” Followed by a predator’s wolf grin.
“I’ll just put these down here,” she put her clothes down on top of a cupboard that probably held useful things, dropped her shoes on the floor beside it and turned around into a fierce embrace. A little readjustment later, one of his arms was across her shoulders and the back of her neck to support her head while he leant her over backwards in a kiss while his other hand grasped her ass and pulled her into him. Her arms were up inside his jacket so her hands could cling to the hard torso under his shirt.
He broke off the kiss. “So, do you like that?” The wolf grin was still there.
Lemon was flushed and her eyes were sparkling. “The Professor was very nice, but I think I prefer this version, without the Working.”
“Let me oblige you then.” His mouth descended on hers again and his lower hand started hitching up the night shirt.
She was the one who broke off the kiss when he succeeded in getting the bottom of the night shirt out of the way and kneaded her bare buttock with his fingers. “What are you doing?” The flushed giggle that followed made it clear she was neither serious nor offended.
“Being thorough,” he shifted his lower hand slightly, spread his hand and lifted her off the ground. “Let’s get you back on that bed. Now, hold on to me while I get these covers out of the way.” He walked over the bed and used the hand from around her shoulders to flip the blanket and top sheet out of the way. Then he sat her, bare assed, down on the bed. “Knees apart, sweetling, that’s right.” He took off his sheepskin jacket and dropped it on his chair without taking his eyes off her face, then stepped up against the bed to pull her against him once more and kiss her thoroughly again.
Luke’s cough broke the moment. “Already?”
“Oh!” Lemon looked over her shoulder and her flush turned into a blush.
“Yes,” Hylakaros said calmly, “but as you’re back, I suppose no.” He sighed and let Lemon go then picked up the thrown back covers in one hand. “You’d better lie down, sweetling.” When Lemon had swung her legs up on the bed and put her head on the pillow, he pulled the covers over her then rubbed her cheek affectionately and promised, “Another time.”
Luke rumbled warningly in their direction. “Only if that’s what she wants. We’re not letting you live to have her be your pet.”
Hylakaros bowed his head in acknowledgement. “That would make things…complicated. On the other hand, aside from anything else, a practical demonstration of what I can offer would do my case with her no harm.”
Luke spread his wings slowly, as if thinking of mantling but not sure it was necessary yet. “You want to seduce her into turning?”
“Thank you for the idea but I was trying to seduce her into letting me into her bed on a regular basis, if my Master allows it.”
“Hrmph.” Luke grumbled. “I imagine her Change will encourage that.”
“I’d like to think that I might have some influence on her decision.” Hylakaros’ face was impassive as he gazed back at Luke.
From the bed Lemon offered, “One of the things I liked about it was that we weren’t being Worked into it.” Her blush renewed. “I wanted to go further, I didn’t feel like I was being pushed into it.”
Luke flushed, and nodded, settling back in his chair. “Good, then. Not while I’m here, please.”
“No sir,” Lemon agreed fervently. “Not in public again.”
“Good,” he harumped. “Try to get some sleep, you two.”
That got, “Yes sir,” from Lemon and a nod from Hylakaros who put on his jacket, moved the chair a little closer to the bed and sat down again. Lemon turned towards him and the two of them held hands on the edge of the bed. Five minutes later they were both asleep, Hylakaros leaning against the bed, his head almost touching Lemon’s.
Luke was still there when Hylakaros woke, dozing in his chair. Lemon was still asleep and to his eyes the glowing marks on the skin of her forearm seemed to be fading.
As soon as Hylakaros’ eyes opened, Luke’s did as well. He seemed to be trying to pin Hylakaros in place.
“Looks like she’s almost through it,” Hylakaros’ comment was pitched so Luke could hear him but not loudly enough to wake the sleeping girl. “How long was I asleep?”
“It’s almost time for breakfast.” Luke sat up a little straighter, his wings spreading. “You’re not a child, kid. You understand.”
“In four years, will she be old enough to understand?” Hylakaros almost touched her face but he didn’t want Lemon to wake up yet. “And if your Dr Mendosa is right and we’ve ‘bonded,’ what is killing me going to do to her?”
“Probably devastate her.” The older man’s wings twitched in acknowledgement. “But if you hurt her, have no doubt that I will make you wish we were killing you.”
“Duly noted,” Hylakaros acknowledged, “but which of you and my Master would take the lead in that?”
“Your Master is my son. I don’t think he’d stop me.”
“So, he’d concede the lead to you and just hold me down?” Hylakaros was grimly amused.
Luke raised an eyebrow. “You’re not worried.”
“You’ve warned me and I know you’ll do it. Avoiding the action leading to the consequence is up to me.” A grim smile and, “I admit that the format of such potential punishment has a certain perverse interest.”
“Hrmph. Should have let Mike deal with you.”
“Mike? Who’s that?” Nonchalantly said but information was always useful. He glanced down at Lemon, certain that she would be waking soon.
“The Daeva who got her pregnant.” He rumbled out the information unwillingly, and then added, far more nakedly, “Protect her.”
“With the bonding thing that would have been interesting on several levels.”
“Yes,” the older Mara agreed. “Best as it is. Listen – she will need protecting.”
Hylakaros’ interest sharpened, all nonchalance or pretence of it gone. “From someone or something in particular? Or just generally speaking?”
“There are threats here – problems with the way the school was originally laid out. And there are upperclassmen who don’t always know how to take no for an answer.”
“The first, more specifics would be useful. The second,” he bared his teeth with his grin, “do you want me to help teach them to take no for an answer, if my Master permits?”
Luke’s smile back would have done any Hunter proud. “Don’t kill or maim them. That leaves you a lot of room.”
“So, nothing that can’t be fixed with more than a few scars as a memento.” Hylakaros’ grin extended to include the creases in the corners of his eyes. “How’s the good doctor at replacing bones?”
“Hunh.” Luke was eyeing him with more respect now. “She could do that.”
“Good, I can keep that in my list of things I can do to them then.” Lemon shifted and her eyes opened. “We can talk more on that later, if events permit. Good morning, sweetling.” He turned his attention to Lemon.
“Good morning?” she smiled at him. “What time is it?”
“Our chaperone tells me it’s almost time for breakfast.” He looked at her critically. “Your eyes have changed colour and there’s something nice going on with your hair.”
She blinked. “My eyesight’s back to normal and my skin only stings a bit now.” She sat up and looked at her arm. “I’m still glowing though. I don’t suppose there’s a mirror?” She looked from Hylakaros to Luke and back again.
“Getting one,” the PE teacher grunted. He exited, leaving her alone again with Hylakaros.
Lemon smiled impishly at Hylakaros, “We’ll only have time for a kiss won’t we?”
“You’d like to fill our time up with that?” He smiled back at her.
“I’d like to go back to what we were doing last time Luke was out of the room, but we won’t have time for that.” He noted that when Lemon made this expression she had dimples.
“We won’t or just enough to annoy him again,” Hylakaros agreed. “So, just a kiss,” and his mouth descended on hers.
Luke’s cough this time sounded a bit less annoyed, a bit more amused.
When they broke apart, it was Luke who received the impact of Lemon’s broad, happy smile. “We tried not to be embarrassing this time. Were you able to find a mirror?” Her eyes were now, Luke noted, almost exactly the same colour as those of the older half-sister she didn’t know she had in the Sixth Cohort.
He held up the mirror for her to look in, conveniently hiding his own smile.
She looked at her reflection intently for a few minutes, turning her head this way and that then pulling locks of hair selected in the mirror forward so she could look at them. “It’s not an unattractive Change, is it?” Her voice had an analytical tone. “It’s something I can get used to without being upset about it. I hadn’t considered getting my hair streaked, but this looks good.” She looked away from the mirror to consider the skin on her arm, “I’m not sure what’s happening with my skin though, it looks a bit like the glow is leaving marks. That doesn’t seem to go with the eyes and the hair though.” She looked at the two men, “Do Changes often come in bits that don’t match?”
Luke coughed uncomfortably. “That could be from your father’s Change.”
“My father’s Changed?” She considered for a moment, “Of course that makes sense. Are you allowed to tell me what he looks like?”
He coughed again, clearly a bit uncomfortable. “Rooster-like, complete with a tendency to crow.”
“A rooster? Does that make me some sort of hen?” Hylakaros almost laughed at her expression. “What about my egg-donor mother? And my Mom?”
“Neither of them Changed, though your egg-donor was a nice woman. Caitrin has your records, if you want to read them.” Luke was getting decidedly uncomfortable.
“Luke, what’s wrong?” She looked at him consideringly, putting the mirror down in her lap.
He shook his head. “You’ll find out eventually.”
“What? Something you don’t want to tell me or something you think I shouldn’t know yet?”
“Both.” His frown was turning into a very uncomfortable glower. “Ask your Mentor or Caitrin.”
“Very well.” She nodded then reached out her hand to touch Luke’s arm, “It will probably be okay. I won’t bother you about it anymore.”
Caitrin stepped in, breaking the tension. “How are you feeling, Lemon?”
“Much better, thank you doctor.” Lemon rubbed her arm, “I can see properly again and I’m not sure what my skin is doing but it hardly hurts at all now.”
“It’s certainly lovely.” Caitrin nodded approvingly. After a brief Working, she nodded again. “Very good. You should be fine when you wish to leave, although certainly remember to have breakfast today.”
“Something substantial,” Lemon agreed. “I don’t think I’ve ever completely missed dinner before.” She turned to Hylakaros, “I can’t invite you home or take you to breakfast, but I could walk you to Doug’s?”
“I’ll leave you two to it, then.” Luke stood, looming for a moment in silent threat, before he and Dr. Caitrin left.
Lemon and Hylakaros looked at each other for a moment. Lemon commented, “If Luke thinks we’re taking too long he’ll come back, won’t he?”
“Probably,” Hylakaros agreed, “and the three of you shouldn’t go hungry for too long.” He held out one hand over her lower belly and kissed her. A few minutes later he asked, “When the doctor said babies, she did mean twins and not more than that, didn’t she?”
“Yes, I’m only having twins,” Lemon looked thoughtful, “I do think two at once is enough, don’t you? Do you want to use the bathroom, such as it is, first?”
Hylakaros went first, then when he was finished Lemon hopped out of bed and took her clothes behind the screen. Hylakaros was faintly amused but he didn’t think his help would get her clothes on faster.
Lemon emerged from behind the screen fully clothed, with Niassa’s night shirt over her arm and almost as nervous as she had been the previous day. “I suppose this is where we go out and face the world, isn’t it?” She smiled at him. “Perhaps one more hug before I take you to Doug?”
They left the room five minutes later with Lemon happily flushed. Lemon took them the shortest way to Doug’s office, the tight look on Hylakaros’ face making her think that conversation would not be a good idea but she held his hand the whole way anyway. When they reached the plain door, it was Hylakaros who knocked.
Doug answered the door, and nodded at both of them. “Come in,” he grunted to Hylakaros.
“Excuse me, Doug,” that was Lemon. “Just so you know, he didn’t have dinner last night and he hasn’t had breakfast this morning.”
Doug grunted. “I’ll feed him. You can have him back after your training.”
“Thank you, sir.” With that Lemon went back to her suite to eat and contemplate getting a larger bed, buying several more Christmas presents and how much wardrobe space you should provide for a hopefully sleeping-over boyfriend who was Kept by someone else.