April 5, 2013 by Lyn
Directly after Chapter 28: Timora
It was like a floodgate somewhere opened. Timora started laughing; Arundel’s guffaw quickly caught up and overtook her little squeak. It was a huge release of tension: the creepy people were gone, and everyone agreed they were creepy. Even the creepy goblin-lady.
“They are.” Arundel barked out another little laugh-sound. “Poor Lee.”
“I know. I’m going to try – I don’t know. The limb thing would have probably have gotten me in trouble. Again. More. Still.” Zita looked thoughtful more than worried. Timora wondered if she’d really have done it.
“I didn’t think you guys cared about that. The trouble thing.” Arundel tried to shift and grunted again.
“Getting in trouble? Not so much. It’s not like we’re going to be followed around by it in college. ‘Dear college admissions, they cast very naughty spells and you should watch out for them.'” Zita was, at this point. leaning against the wall, looking far more relaxed.
Her joke startled Timora into yet another laugh. Hastily, she scribbled out a note. I never thought about it like that. College. Eep. College with a voice like a cheese grater and what, two kids? And magic powers.
“What’s with the notes, Arundel? Timora says ‘college, eep,’ by the way.”
Timora flushed. Right, Arundel couldn’t read her notes right now; he still didn’t have eyes. And she guessed not everyone knew about her Change.
“Her Change changed her voice.” Arundel frowned – his lips frowned, at least – clearly in thought, for a minute. “It scares people, her voice. She said it scares Lee, even in his coma-thing.”
“Huh. Here’s to annoying Changes, I guess, though I guess it’d be useful sometimes?”
“It got Calvin and Tigg off her back on Hell Night.” The pride in his voice made Timora blush and cuddle against him, stone or no.
“That’s pretty impressive. Mine’s really only good for….” She waved a hand. “A weird reputation, I guess.”
“I don’t know, I wouldn’t want to be bit by you.” Arundel was laughing, clearly not actually worried. Bit? Timora looked up, curious, her ears pointing at Zita. There was something her Change was good for, at least: the horsey ears did directional hearing and expressiveness better than human ears.
“I’m some sort of… well, as far as we can tell the teeth are basically snake-based. Venom. I don’t know, the mental Changes are the big thing. Like yours, right?” She asked Arundel.
Arundel’s Change? Timora frowned, wondering… oh! Oh, yes. She stroked one stone wing. She’d never thought of it like that.
Arundel was laughing. “That’s what everyone keeps telling me. I dunno, it never really felt different.”
Snake-based. Mental Changes. Venom? Timora mimed fangs at Zita. Everyone else had the coolest Changes.
Zita passed a hand over her eyes, and by the time it was down at her side, her Mask was down. She was almost a foot shorter, eyes absurdly large and dark, lashes pronounced, and when she smiled, her teeth were very sharp. Her hands and sandaled feet were clawed.
“Oh, Wow.” It was out before she could stop herself. She slapped her hands over her mouth. “Neat.” It came out muffled but understandable. She could hear Zita muffling a whine.
“Mask down?” Arundel grinned. “Zita’s got an awesome Change.”
Zita’s face moved from a face-scrunch to a grin. “Thanks. I mean, I’m one for wings, myself. Two kids so far by winged fathers. Best I can do is a weird hover thing.”
Timora glanced at Arundel. Had he and Zita…? She didn’t think Sylvia would have gone for that, but sometimes the otter-girl was strange.
Zita giggled, clearly reading Timora’s expression. She was transparent, she’d been told. “Not Arundel, sorry. Luke and Gabi.”
“Luke?” Timora’s jaw dropped. Luke. Big, bad, and handsome, sad and protective and… Luke. She hardly noticed Zita’s eye twitching this time. It was, all things considered, a pretty mild reaction to her power. Maybe she was getting better. But Luke?
“I mean – I didn’t have an affair with the gym teacher! There was a girl hiding in the library and he was helping and only the English teacher and that was like one time and anyway he sleeps with everyone and now you’re laughing at me, aren’t you.”
Timora shook her head emphatically no. No, she was not laughing at the tiny frightening poisonous nice lady. Not at all. Only once, though? She held up one finger.
“I didn’t sleep with Professor VanderLinden.” Arundel, on the other hand, might be laughing. Of course, he was made of stone right now. Zita probably couldn’t bite him very well through the stone.
Zita flung her arms up in dramatic despair. Which was better than biting anyone. “I give up. I’ll be outside if you guys need anything, okay?”
Timora held up a card. “Sorry?” That one got a lot of use too
“Don’t be, I’ve been playing hooky. Gotta go woman the desk.”
Another card: “Okay.” And a third, quickly. “Thanks.”
Zita smiled, Masked, and left them to themselves. Timora cuddled up against Arundel’s rocky chest, and napped briefly, dreaming of wings.
Soon afterwards, late in the evening.
Cynara was still in her pajamas. Three years later, this was a luxury kept up with – because she could. However, this meant that she was still in her pajamas when Zita mentioned – casually, of course – that Lucian might be stopping by for a chat. “He has wings, you know.”
Zita had come home an hour earlier to nap on Leo’s shoulder, following her pattern in recent days of alternating napping and snapping at people. It was late, and they were all exhausted after a day of clean-up. And all snappish, not just Zita. It took Cya a moment to process what Zita actually meant.
“…Ah. What do we want from him?”
“Damage control. Lee, at the very least. Seems like good timing, since Lee’s damaged goods right now.”
There was an edge to her voice, the usual Addergoole frustration. Cya could empathize. She could also see the temptation in helping out a ninthie. But.
“What are we going to do with Lee?” It was something to consider, after all.
“Let him go. He’s had enough being Kept by anyone’s standards. I mean, I guess we could set him up with Leo, but – I don’t really see it, do you?”
Cya snorted. “No. Although… I think Reese is interested. All right. We want Lee. I can lie about why.” After she got some sleep. Preferably a lot of sleep.
“Then the question’s what we want from Reese? Which, presumably, starts with a promise to take him to someone for Jasfe everything.” Cya winced. Yeah. Lee probably needed everything Repaired. Zita kept going. “Yeah, say we want him for a footrest. Or orgies. A footrest for orgies? Or a babysitter. We have enough babies.” Zita was apparently not as tired as Cya. Cya wasn’t sure Zita was ever actually tired.
“A babysitter for during the orgies.” Cya smiled. “All right. Tess isn’t going to indulge Lucian to get him out of here?” She did not understand that couple. If she had gone evil, she would have done it much more tidily.
“She’s knocked up by Lee. By accident, presumably. Get Lee some guarantees for, I don’t know, decent baby treatment, visitation, if you can.”
“I’ll see what I can do. Gah.” She found her brow furrowing. “Some things just suck.” Like the fact that they were doing this and not, say, the staff. Educational. Sure. Her Keeping had been educational. Lee’s was likely just torture. And they were rewarding it.
“We’re doing a service for the community,” Zita offered, making an equally unpleasant face. “Imagine Lucian as a 5th-year, only one left in school from his year. He’d enjoy it.”
Cya laughed shortly. “Okay. You have a point. Still. Gah.”
“He does not get visitation,” Zita added firmly. “Not that I think he’ll want it.”
“Agreed.” She didn’t want that guy near her kids, that was for sure.
“Good.” They hugged, and then wandered off to Kept and Keeper, respectively, for exhausted snuggles. The deal-making could wait for the morning.
em>This story was written in response to Trix’s donation and request for the scenes with Zita
For every $5US donated, I will write 300 words on the character or situation of your choice. In addition, every donation will bring you to a small snippet of story – a new snippet every Wednesday! Want more?