March 27, 2013 by Lyn
Monday, February 23, 2004
Luke had finally gotten around to doling out punishments to the people involved in the ceiling-crashing fight: Thorburn and his crew, Zita and her crew, and, although they weren’t sure why, Ahouva, Ceinwen, and Kheper.
“You’re grounded,” he’d grunted. He’d apparently made the time to punish them by multitasking with getting a gut wound healed. Ceinwen focused on his face, and tried not to close her eyes.
“We’re confined to our rooms anyway.” Ahouva seemed to have no problem arguing now. Good for her. Except the part where she might be pissing off a wounded, cranky gym teacher.
“You’re confined to your rooms when not in classes until at least April. Except when you are helping the clean-up crew clean-up. Which you will do. To the best of your abilities. All of you.”
“Together?” Cynara looked amused. Actually, all of Boom looked a little bit amused. Ceinwen wished they’d let her in on the joke.
“In teams as chosen by me, Doug, Hayley, Valentina, or Sakamoto. And if… damnit, Cait.”
“If you’d hold still, it wouldn’t hurt.”
“If I catch any of you doing anything like this again, you will be grounded for three years after you graduate.”
“Why are we being punished, too?” Kheper voiced the question all three Kept were probably thinking. Ceinwen knew she’d been wondering that for the last five minutes.
“You didn’t stop them.”
“Hey!” Ceinwen slipped between Thorburn and Basalt to glare at Luke. If everyone else was going to argue, so was she. “Seriously? You expect us to stop our Keepers? The ones who can tell us what to do? Who can shut u-”
Thorburn pushed a hand over her mouth, proving her point and silencing her at the same time.
“Yes.” She wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or bad that Luke managed a smile. “I expect you to talk sense into your Keepers. And no, I don’t care if it’s unfair. Go see Valentina for your first assignments. Except Zita. You’re on permanent assignment here with Dr. Caitrin.”
“Try not to yell at Luke.” Thorburn’s whisper tickled Ceinwen’s ear. “He’s having a bad everything.” She nodded, and he removed his hand. “Yes, sir. Come on, guys.”
They filed out, following on Boom’s heels; nobody except the Kept seemed the least bit dejected. As a matter of fact, Basalt was humming.
And then Howard was whistling.
And then Curry was singing, do-do-do.
And then Cya was singing along to the same tune Ceinwen didn’t recognize.
And then Leo started whistling too.
And then Thorburn grabbed her hand, and they were through the door and outside and the music stopped. “Right.” Thorburn coughed.
“He wasn’t that mad.” Cynara seemed pleased.
“I thought he was going to fry my eyebrows off.” Curry held a hand over his face.
“Exactly. Not that mad.” Cynara smirked at all of them.
“He knows he’s got no room to complain.” Howard did not sound pleased.
“I don’t know what I—”
“Leo. Shut up.”
To Ceinwen’s surprise, Leo shut up. She stole a glance at Thorburn, wonder what he was thinking, and found him looking back at her.
“Sorry you got dragged into this.”
“Come on, you would’ve had her help even if it hadn’t been Luke’s idea, wouldn’t you? I mean, she’s your Kept.” Curry’s rather-common rant sounded less forceful today. “Right?”
“Curry?” Basalt was cuddling Ahouva close, and hadn’t said much up to that point.
“Just shut up.”
“Damn.” Curry shut up. Ceinwen peeked up at Thorburn again.
“You’re happy.” She ignored the nickname. He’d never used it outside of the bed before. She wasn’t sure how she felt about that.
“Well, it’s a lot better than it could have been. And, I mean, everyone’s on lockdown. At least we get to do something.”
“At last my evil plan comes to fruition.”
“It wasn’t your plan at all, Cya.” Kheper was far less happy about this.
“Nope, and I don’t do evil. But the thorn-bear has a point.”
“Don’t call me that.” Thorburn grumbled it without any real rancor.
“It’s a cute name. And you do have a point.”
Ceinwen risked butting in. “That we get to get out and do something?”
“Yeah. It’s not fighting monsters, I know.” She patted her crew-mates’ backs. “But it’s better than staring at the wall.”
“You may not think that after a few hours.” The woman in front of them was green, with green freckles and red hair. It looked surprisingly good on her. “For those of you that don’t know me — I’m assuming you’re Ceinwen, Kheper, and Ahouva, hello — I’m Valentina. I’m the groundskeeper and plant-tender around here. And right now I’m helping with the clean-up of this catastrophe.”
She was holding mops in one hand and bucket handles in the other. She looked around the group, pursed her lips, and nodded. “Okay. Leofric and Currumbyn. Cynara, Thorburn, and Ceinwen. Howard, Basalt, and Ahouva. Leo, Curry, Kheper, you’re with Professor Akatil. Howard, Basalt, Ahouva, you’re with me. Cya, Thorburn, Ceinwen, you’re with Doug. Try not to irritate him.”
“I irritate him by existing.” Thorburn didn’t sound exactly proud of that, but he didn’t seem to think it was a bad thing.
“You’re mistaking him for his father. Go on, you can meet Doug on the third floor, near the stairs. I hope you kids have had breakfast.”
As they headed back to the school, Thorburn started humming again. This time, Ceinwen caught the tune. “We’re off to see the wizard?”
“Alice in Wonderland doesn’t have any catchy tunes,” Cynara explained. “Although Akatil’s really the wizard.”
“You guys are weird.” If she said it to Cynara, maybe Thorburn wouldn’t take offense.
No such luck. “Careful what you say.”
“It’s fine. Really. She’s calling me weird.” Cynara smiled broadly. “That’s not that much of a stretch. You should relax a little, Thorn-bear.”
“This is me relaxed.”
“I can’t believe that.” She pursed her lip and tapped Thorburn on top of his head. “I can’t believe this is you calm and laid-back.”
“It’s the most laid-back I’ve ever seen him.” Ceinwen was really pushing her limits now, but somehow, having Cynara there made her feel braver. Not that Thorburn wouldn’t correct her in front of people, but still… “He’s even smiling.”
“That suggests he needs to be more relaxed normally, not that he’s actually calm and relaxed now, though. Thorburn, come on, loosen up.” Cynara made as if to punch Thorburn in the arm.
Without thinking, Ceinwen caught the mink-girl’s hand. “Don’t do that.”
Cynara stared at her. Thorburn stared at her. She stared at her hands, wrapped around the upperclassman’s fist. Around the fist of a member of Boom. “Eep?” She swallowed, and carefully released Cynara’s hand.
“Ceinwen…” Thorburn tugged her behind him, his eyes shifting to Cynara and staying there.
The mink, in turn, held up both of her hands, palms flat. “I’m not the volatile member of Boom. It’s okay.” She was, Ceinwen noted, smiling rather broadly. “Is that an order, there, Thorburn?”
“What?” It took him a second. “You mean, what she did? No! What kind of asshole would I have to be to do that?”
Cynara coughed, and let that question hang out there for a while. After a few uncomfortable moments, Thorburn thumped his fist against the wall. “What?”
Still nothing. Ceinwen was beginning to get uncomfortable. Cynara was still watching.
Thorburn punched the wall again. “Damnit. That was different. I’m bigger than she is.”
“And she was still your Keeper.”
“Do we have to talk about this?”
“Of course not.” Cynara’s smile vanished. “I just wanted to know if you were following in your Keeper’s footsteps.”
“Why do you care?”
Ceinwen watched the two of them like a particularly unpleasant ping-pong match.
“I cared when it was you under the collar, didn’t I?”
“I don’t know, did you?” Thorburn had his fists clenched at his sides. He wasn’t looking at Ceinwen at all. She was afraid to break in, but, damn it, what was this woman doing?
“I did. And I talked to her.” Cynara held up both hands again. “I’m sorry. I’m intruding.”
“Now you figure this out?”
“Now I apologize. If you two are doing fine, I’ll stay out of it. Ceinwen?”
“What?” She found her voice was a little bit sharp. She took a breath. She didn’t want Thorburn to yell at her for being loud. “Sorry. What?”
“She wants to know if we’re doing fine.” Thorburn uncurled one hand and set it on Ceinwen’s back. “You may answer her fully and honestly.”
That was new. She blinked up at him, and then looked at Cynara. “We’re getting better. I don’t like being Kept.” She felt his hand on her back, not tightening, but holding very still. She took a long breath. “I do like Thorburn. And we’re working out the problems.”
Cynara’s lips twitched in something like a smile. “I guess I’ll worry about someone else, then.”
“What about your own Kept?”
“What about him?”
“Is he happy?”
“Pop psych can wait.” Doug grunted irritably at them as he approached. “Kheper’s happy. Ceinwen’s happy. I’m not.”
“Sorry, sir.” It was strange to see Cynara get polite and deferential. Stranger was Thorburn echoing not only her words but her manner.
“Where do you need us?”
“This way.” He led them to the hallway near the Store. The third floor had, when Ceinwen started school, looked more institutional than any other part of the building — that boring speckled tile, walls painted off-blue, acoustical ceiling tile — as if they hadn’t really bothered the way they had with the classroom and dorm levels. Now, it looked like a nightmare. The hall a few feet away from the (closed) Store doorway melted into stone. Half of the remains of a dead… something… lay in the narrowed hallway.
Thorburn cleared his throat. “I can do okay with transmuting the stone but not getting rid of it, and I’m really good at repair.”
Ceinwen learned something new every day.
“I can get rid of it, if it’s covering up the old floor.” Cynara smiled crookedly. “I’m really good at Abatu.”
Doug nodded, almost a grunt. He handed Cynara several photos of the hallway, and gave Thorburn a couple blueprints. Then his gaze settled on Ceinwen.
“Me?” She was mortified to find her voice squeaking. “Um, I can control and make, shape and know. I’m okay in Unutu, worked stuff, right, and water, but I can’t do stone at all.” She looked down at the animal corpse. “I’m okay with beasties but I am pretty bad with destroy.”
“Good enough.” He nodded. “Cynara’s in charge. Remember to protect pregnant women.”
Thorburn looked startled, and, Ceinwen thought, maybe a little offended. “Of course.”
“Good. I’ll be over here.” He pointed down the hall, and then moved in the direction of his point.
“All right.” Cynara looked around. “I’m going to start by clearing stone, and then you two can work on shaping the walls under it. Hey, Ceinwen, do you have any huamu?”
“Not very well. I can sort of croak it out, at least.”
“We might do some improvements while we’re down here.”
“Why?” Thorburn was getting stubborn again. “What sort?”
“Well, we hang out here, don’t we? Why not make it nicer? Also, I thought you didn’t want to get stuck back in your room.”
“…okay.” He squeezed Ceinwen, out of the blue and with no explanation given, and then stared at the wall. “Let’s go.”
They fell into a sort of routine. Cynara would destroy the stone coating the hallway, and then Thorburn would repair the walls and Ceinwen would shape them back into something attractive; Cynara would come back and work with Ceinwen to shape paneling over the smooth walls and carpet over the floor, and they’d move on to the next section.
It was exhausting. Ceinwen had done small Workings in class, but she’d never done this sort of sustained Working. She kept going, even when she felt tired, because Thorburn and Cynara were still going. She smiled and tried to soldier on, not wanting to look like a weakling.
“Sit down.” Cynara stopped what she was doing and stared at Ceinwen. “Thorburn, go get her a drink. Something with calories.”
“The Store’s closed.”
“Clever.” He patted Ceinwen’s shoulder and headed down the hall towards the Store.
Ceinwen sat down. “What did I do?”
“You’re young, you’re inexperienced, and you’re pregnant.”
“Well…” She folded her hands over the stomach. “Yeah? Most of my friends are.” It sounded silly to her ears. “Thorburn said we had to.”
“We do. And that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be pregnant; he’s right, it’s a requirement around here, damn it. But it takes energy to be pregnant. Trust me, I’ve done it before.”
“Twice?” That was what Thorburn had said: everyone had to have two. He’d fathered one already, and that was all he’d say on that subject.
Cynara frowned, as if the thought had just occurred to her. “No. One. Yoshi, by my first Kept, Cabal.”
“Cabal.” She knew him; he had one class with her, and she’d seen him around the halls. “You must have a very lovely child.”
Cynara sat down next to Ceinwen. “I do. He’s a beautiful boy and I love him dearly. Do you know what you’re having, yet?”
Ceinwen giggled. “An owl, or so I’m told.”
“An owl. That’s interesting. Usually we ask the doctor and not the psychics; we get better answers for buying baby clothes that way.”
“Well, I asked both. But it’s kind of fun not knowing yet, and it drives Thorburn nuts.”
She wasn’t sure she should say that, but she smiled up at the other girl cautiously, and was rewarded with a big smile in return. “If he lets you get away with that, good for you.”
“He has this idea that the baby parts are my business and… well, that they Belong to me. Which seems a little odd, but I’m not going to argue with it, either.”
“I wouldn’t.” Cynara looked thoughtful. “He reminds me a bit of my first-year Keeper.”
“You were Kept?” Somehow it was easier for Ceinwen to imagine Thorburn Kept than Cynara. Then again, she’d been inside Thorburn’s dreams. She’d never been in Cynara’s.
She wasn’t sure going into Boom’s dreams was a good idea.
“I was. Leo was… we all were, all of Boom. Our first year, or at least part of it. Mine was a vampire.” She made a fangs gesture with her forefingers.
Ceinwen giggled. “A vampire. With fangs.” She imitated the gesture.
“Yep. And yours is a thorn-bear.”
“A Thor’s Bear.” Thorburn returned, carrying a liter bottle of fruit juice and a couple sticks of pepperoni. “The Store hasn’t been stocked in a while…”
“You are going to be so lost when she has her baby.”
“She’s going to have her baby over summer break.”
Cynara went as if to punch Thorburn again, and stopped. “Okay, don’t be a moron. She’s having your kid…”
He held up both hands. He was smiling, so Ceinwen wasn’t too worried, but he was giving in. She’d never seen him do that with anyone. Like, anyone. “I know, I know. Look, I’ll figure it out, okay?”
“You’d better. Don’t make me Find you.”
“You’ll have graduated.”
“Some things I feel strongly about.”
“What if I don’t want him there?” Ceinwen was feeling very brave, for some reason.
“Sorry, sorry.” The brave feeling went away very quickly.
“She is my Kept.”
“I could challenge you, and then she’d be my Kept.”
“Please don’t.” Ceinwen’s voice was very small. “I like him, and he needs me.”
“Those are different things, Ceinwen.”
“I know they are. But they’re both true.”
“Is that true, Thorburn?”
“Aren’t we supposed to be fixing the walls?”
“Not until we eat something. Drink something, Ceinwen.”
“Yes, ma’am.” She sipped the juice carefully. Thorburn hadn’t brought a cup, so she drank from the bottle.
“Good girl. So, Thorburn…”
“Are you always this nosy?”
“Yep. It stands me in good stead. Also, people tend to be afraid of me.”
“I’m not afraid of you.”
“Good. Answer me.”
“…Yeah.” He looked down at his toes. “Yeah. I mean, I don’t know about the liking me part. That’s new, I think. She hated me before. But I need her. And I like her.” He added the last part like it was more important.
Ceinwen peeked up at him. “That’s new.”
“You liking me is new, too.”
“So.” Cynara folded her hands in front of her chin. “You like each other. Ceinwen takes care of you, Thorburn… I don’t need to know how. That’s a good start. But you might not want him there when you’re giving birth?”
“Well…” She fumbled, nervous now, not wanting to make Thorburn more upset.
“It’s okay. He’s not going to yell at you about this, because if he does, I’ll yell at him, and I’m the louder of the two of us by quite a bit.”
“Boom.” Ceinwen giggled it nervously.
“There’s a reason they call us that. So?”
“I… I’ve gotta have this kid. And they’re mine.” She folded her hands over her stomach and tried to picture the little peanut of a baby inside her.
“Nobody’s trying to take your baby away from you, Ceinwen.” Thorburn sounded unhappy. She peeked up at him, only to have Cynara squeeze her hands.
“Hey, look at me. Let him grumble. This isn’t about him… well, it is, but it isn’t his conversation.”
Ceinwen looked at Cynara. “You don’t have to go home to him.”
“No. But I will challenge him for you if he gets too unpleasant about this, and he knows it. So… why don’t you want him there?”
This woman was not going to drop it. “He’s so bossy!”
“I do own you.”
“I don’t want you telling me what to do while I’m in labor! I want you to be there and quiet, or supportive, or somewhere else, but not standing there being bossy!”
Thorburn coughed, and then laughed a little bit. “You don’t want me there because you don’t want me telling you what to do?”
“Well…” Him laughing at her made her question it for a moment. “Yes!” Yes, she really did feel that way. “Yes… I mean. Okay. You own me. But there’s some situations where it’s just not okay.”
“When I caught her, she wouldn’t have said there was a single situation where it was okay.” He was clearly talking about her to Cynara. Ceinwen decided it wasn’t worth complaining about.
“Mine have been the same way. The question is, how did you convince her it was all right?”
Ceinwen peeked up at her Keeper. She wondered what he’d say to that. What he’d do. He hadn’t felt any need to punish her in quite a while. But she’d brought this topic up…
He took a deep breath. “Practical demonstration.”
“Hrrm. That shows her that you can do it. That she can’t fight back.”
“It’s okay, okay?” Ceinwen was getting really sick of this. “Look. He’s not hurting me. He’s not like Kendon was, or Agravain is, or any of the other assholes. My dreams don’t look like scared-spider nightmares. I know. I can see them. Okay? he’s my Keeper, and I mean, I’d like him to be my boyfriend instead of this collar thing, but that’s the way things are here, and it’s him, and not some asshole.”
To her surprise, Cynara was smiling. “All right, then. Thorburn, you hear that?”
“I hear it.” His voice sounded choked. He dropped an arm on Ceinwen’s shoulders. “Eat up, okay?”
“Eating, sir.” She drank more fruit juice and chewed on the pepperoni stick. “You’re not mad?”
“Mad? I’m proud as hell.” He kissed the top of her head. “I’m glad you’re mine, pretty bird.”
“I’m…” She didn’t want to lie to him. “If I have to be wearing a collar, I’m glad enough that it’s yours.”
Cynara chuckled. “Well said. Maybe you should have been cy’Drake.”
“Break over.” Doug grunted at them.
“Where’d you come from?” Thorburn was suddenly between Ceinwen and the grumpy assistant gym teacher.
“Down the hall, working.”
“Ceinwen’s pregnant. She needs a break.”
“Good. You two aren’t.”
“Slave-master.” Cynara muttered it with good humor. The look Doug gave her had far less amusement in it.
“It was only a little part of the building. Besides. You guys are pretty picky about what you notice.”
Doug harrumphed. “Yes. Working on that. Not psychic yet.”
“Okay, that makes sense.” Cynara shrugs. “Come on, thorn-bear, back to work.”
“Stop calling me that.”
“But it’s fun.”
Doug looked down at Ceinwen. “Doing okay?”
“Hmm?” Oh, yeah. I’m okay. I just got a little faint.”
He nodded. “Baby needs energy too. Sit and rest a bit more.”
“I’m on detention the same as my Keeper.”
“Do you ever really talk?”
He smiled. It was strange; she’d never seen him smile before, not for real. “Nope.”
Doug kept them cleaning up the hallway until late into the evening, although Valentina did bring them pizza twice along the way.
They went home exhausted and sweaty, but they’d cleaned up a good section of the hallway. It felt good, using her magic, using it to make something look better.
She wasn’t so sure about going home, alone, with Thorburn, after Cynara’s… call it benign meddling. She stepped inside, took off her clothes, and watched him, wondering if the other shoe was going to fall.
“Shower.” He grunted it; he was clearly as tired as she was.
“Yessir.” She kept her voice quiet and assumed he meant he wanted to take a shower; she unbuttoned his shirt and then his pants. When he caught her wrists, she tensed. Here it comes.
He pulled both of her hands up to his mouth. His eyes weren’t quite on her when she risked a peek; he was looking somewhere, she thought, in another world. But he kissed the knuckles of both of her hands. “Both of us, together.”
“Yessir.” She was already naked — except the collar — so she just finished peeling his clothes off. “About earlier…” Damnit. She was no good at keeping her mouth shut.
“Yeah.” He looked down at her. “Cynara does that. She did that to me last year, when I was… well, last year. Not as much. I guess she doesn’t think I’m as much of an asshole.”
“As…” She gestured uncertainly.
“Yeah.” He took in a long breath. “You’ve heard the name by now.”
“Indigo. You know her.”
“I’ve seen her around.”
“I’m sure you have. She doesn’t try to talk to you, does she?”
“Only once. I told her… I told her I didn’t think you’d like that.”
Thorburn narrowed his eyes and looked down at Ceinwen — although there wasn’t so much down, since her Change. “Did she try to talk to you?”
She squirmed. Almost nobody hit on her, since Thorburn had sealed his collar around her neck. Almost nobody. “She started with talking.”
“I bet she did. And she probably told you that I wouldn’t mind sharing, didn’t she?”
“She’s not the only one.” She whispered it. “But I told them you wouldn’t like it. Was I wrong?”
“Were you…” Suddenly, his arms were around her. She tried not to flinch, but it was hard not to be worried. “No, beautiful. I’m sorry she did that to you. I’m sorry I didn’t make it clear enough. Who else?”
“Curry?” It was nearly a squeak. She didn’t want him to yell didn’t want him to yell please don’t yell…”
“Hrmph. Figures. I’ll give him hell for it later.”
She peeked up at him. “You’re not mad?”
“I’m not mad at you.”
“And you’re not mad about Cynara? Or the baby thing?”
“I’m not mad at you for anything right now.”
“That’s novel.” She pressed her lips shut. Where had that come from?
Thorburn laughed. “It is. I think I’d take it, if I were you.”
Good mood. She could handle a good mood. She peeked up at him and smiled. “That sounds like very good advice. Shower?”
“Shower.” He picked her up and tossed her over his shoulder. “You still don’t weigh anything.”
“You told me I was fat when you Kept me.”
“I was being an asshole when I collared you.”
“That, I knew.” She twisted, trying to look at him, but all she could see was the back of his neck and his braids. “What changed?”
“I woke up one day and I felt like a different person.” He put her down, but held onto her shoulders, so that she was facing him. His eyes looked very serious. “And then, when we were in the infirmary…”
“I’m supposed to care about you, I’m your Kept.” She couldn’t quite look at his face. Months and months of untangling the chains around his dreams had made him her project, even if only when asleep. She’d never thought about what she’d do when his dream-self was all untied.
“I was going to say, when you told me what you’ve been doing. How long have you been… using your power?”
“Since the first week?” Now she had to look at him. His voice sounded so serious.
“I was angry. I don’t like having my mind tinkered with. But I thought — you knew that, and whatever you did, you did anyway. So I went to talk to Professor Pelletier about that.”
“The other day, when you said you were going out with the guys?”
“Yeah.” He turned on the shower. “So… you’ve been healing my brain, all year. You didn’t have to do that.”
“Well… no. But when I did, you started being more reasonable. So I kept doing it.” Ceinwen looked away again. She didn’t want to go into how much she’d argued with herself about that.
“But you didn’t know that when you started.” Thorburn, it seemed, did. Why?
“No. But… even if you were being a jerk when you were awake, you were hurting when you were asleep.”
“Was I that much of a jerk?” His hands tightened on her arms. “So much that you don’t want me there when our child is born?”
“I don’t like being Kept.” She spoke carefully. This was not the time to get him upset. This was really, really not the time to get him upset. “I don’t like — well. We talked about the clothes, when Basalt Kept Ahouva.”
“And the nightgowns.” Thorburn ran his thumb over her collarbone. “I thought you were happy with that. You got your nightgown when you got pregnant. And you’ve gotten all of your clothes back.”
“Even the ones you hate.” Not that wearing clothes he didn’t like was that much fun, when it led to bad-Kept guilt feelings the whole day.
“Indigo never did that.”
“I gathered. She said you were ‘back to dressing like a thug.’“
“Yeah. She hated most of my clothes.” He frowned. “I really do think the capri things look silly. I’m sorry.”
She swallowed. He was trying. She wasn’t sure what he was trying, but he was certainly trying something. “Okay.” She touched his cheek, and tried to think about what he wanted. It was hard; when he wasn’t giving orders he wasn’t all that clear on things. “So. Maybe we could go shopping, when the Store is open again, and find, like, five or ten outfits we both like? Things that look good on me? I’m going to need maternity clothes soon anyway.” She touched the collar. Things would have to work with the big, chunky, amber-ness of it. That made everything trickier.
He put his hand over hers on the collar. “If you want… there are a few students who do custom tailoring, too. I’ll get you a couple things that you really like?”
She still wasn’t sure what he was doing, or how long the nice thing would last, but she would take it while she had it. “I’d like that, yes.” She took a deep breath. “Thank you.”
Friday, February 27, 2004
He woke up from the weirdest dreams to find that he was still in a nightmare.
“It’s all right. Ilian, this is Doctor Caitrin. Can you hear me?”
Dr. Caitrin? There’d been the away team… and then the snake-lady, and then… then dreams. Dreams involving a lot of running, and a lot of stone.
“I can hear you.” Lee cleared his throat, and opened his eyes. Tried to open his eyes. “I can’t see anything! I can’t open my eyes!” He tried to move a hand, but nothing moved. “I can’t feel my arms. Shit, it’s like that Metallica video. I’m going to be stuck here forever. Shit, shit. Shit!”
“Ilian, calm down. You’re not going to be stuck like this forever. We’re taking our time healing you, but everything that has been done to you is healable.”
“I can’t move.” It was like being trapped in a box, but worse. “I can’t feel anything!”
“Lee, please calm down. Most of your body is still stone. We woke you up so that we can work on your optic nerves. It helps to have you conscious for the process.”
There was a giant weight on his chest. “Are you sure my lungs aren’t stone? I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.”
“Lee, please calm down.”
“You said that already. Oh, god, I’m going insane.”
“Ilian, are you claustrophobic?”
“What?” He laughed, although it came out sounding like an insane clown. Maybe he really was going nuts. “Don’t be silly. I’m not. Unless you have me locked in a box shit you have me locked in a box…”
“Sleep.” He could feel a hand on his forehead, and then everything was quiet.
Friday, February 27, 2004
“We could play Doctor again.”
“Doctor wasn’t that much fun.” Her Keeper had strange ideas of “fun,” usually, but Pania was learning to live with most of them. “Princess was a little better.”
“That’s because you get to kick and complain and stuff. What about chambermaid?”
“You only make me do chambermaid when you’re mad at me.”
“Or when the suite needs cleaning. Which it does.”
“Why don’t you be the chambermaid and I’ll be the picky employer?”
“Hrrmph. When you’re Keeper…”
“Which will never be, at least not your Keeper.”
“There’s always after school.”
“Yeah, like you’d agree to that.”
“Hey, you never…”
A knock at the door interrupted this somewhat interesting line of bullshit. Pania rolled her eyes, stood up, and answered the door.
She almost shut it again when she saw who it was, but the squirrel who’d borne Efro’s first child looked lost and worried. “Efro?”
“Reese. Come on in, if you mean me or mine no harm.”
The squirrel skittered in, glancing nervously between Pania and Efrosin. “Eff, I need advice.”
“So ask.” Efrosin leaned back in his chair, looking far too comfortable with this role. Damnit. Pania took her own seat, wishing Reese wouldn’t encourage this.
But Reese seemed to like it. The squirrel sat down on the floor in front of Efrosin, looking between him and Pania. “Can she…?”
“No. She can stay. It’s her room, too, Reese.”
“You never let me stay.”
“You gossiped like a parrot. Still do. Pania does not.”
“Fine.” Reese sulked, while Pania did the best to not show her pleasure. “Boom wants to make a deal with me.”
Art by Reymonkey
Addergoole: Year Nine updates every Wednesday evening EST. Want more?