June 12, 2013 by Lyn
“No, Lolly.” Jeremiah caught his Kept by the back of her pretty pink collar. “I said no.”
“Aaaw.” She pouted at him, complete with batted eyelashes and stuck-out lower lip. “But Jere-mi-ah…”
“No. If you cannot behave, I will put you in time-out again.”
“I’ll be good.” She folded her hands in front of her, resting on the poof of her ridiculous skirt.
Some people had Kept they wanted to sleep with. Some had Kept who were fun, or maybe fought a bit, but generally behaved themselves.
Jeremiah had a Kept he couldn’t get his second child off of, a sociopath who was stopped from being a serial killer primarily because he had a collar on her.
“That’s my good girl.” Because her definition of “good” varied from day to day, and they really did need to make nice with the basement people, Jeremiah clipped a lead to her collar. “Stay near me, and do not speak unless spoken to.”
“Yes, sir.” She tilted her head down submissively, although they both knew it was fifty percent an act.
“Good girl.” He kissed the top of her head. When she was “on,” having a good day, things could be very good. It was just that the good days were entirely unpredictable and increasingly uncommon. He’d have left her in their room – but that lead to a whole spate of other problems.
With Lolly as restrained as he was willing to make her, Jeremiah led her to the suite the Zeroth Cohort was sharing. His shoulders prickled; this had a large chance of ending up badly.
“You’re worried.” Her voice was subdued, unusual for her. She patted his hand. “They’re just people.”
“And so are we.”
“Exactly.” She tilted her head in that way that suggested she was somewhere else. As far as everyone could tell, she didn’t actually have any precognitive powers. Jeremiah had never been absolutely certain that was true.
A tall blond man answered at his knock. “Are you our six o’clock?” He was smirking, or maybe leering. Jeremiah had never been that good at telling them apart. “Or is this the hospitality delivery service?”
“Arlyn!” A woman’s voice came over the blond’s shoulder. “Stop teasing the guests.” She sounded pleasantly amused,rather than nagging. “And maybe let them in?”
“Tilda, he’s got a girl on a leash.” He called it over his shoulder, while somehow never taking his eyes off of Jeremiah.
“And so? Some people like that.”
“And we know damn well that some people are forced into it.”
“Both.” Lolly waved cheerfully. “I like it, even if it wasn’t my idea.”
“And did he tell you to like it?”
“No, but mostly he keeps me from killing people anyway.” She shrugged, still sounding every bit as cheerful. Jeremiah knew from experience that she’d sound just as chipper if she was ripping someone apart.
“One minute.” The blond – Arlyn, presumably – looked at Jeremiah again. “She’s like Anita, or like your Anita… Zita?”
Jeremiah gave the question the consideration it deserved. “She is similar to Anita, from what I know about her, except with less control . Her weapon, however, is her mind, not a poison.”
“My mind is a poison.”
“Yes.” He patted her shoulder. “That it is.”
Arlyn didn’t even try to hide his shudder. “You are one creepy little girl.”
“Thank you.” Lolly curtseyed.
“You’re not going to try to kill anyone while you’re here, are you?”
“You should ask my Keeper. I don’t get to make those decisions because I make them wrong.”
“By which she means that she tends to decide based on what would be most interesting. She doesn’t appear to have a moral compass.” Jeremiah was getting increasingly uncomfortable standing out here. “Or, for that matter, much empathy. I say ‘much…’“
“I take it that means you’ve seen her exhibit some at some point? You can come on in, as long as you mean me and mine no harm and you’ll keep your Kept in line.”
“That’s why she’s my Kept.” He stepped in, letting Lolly follow him. “It was that or the basement and, well…”
“…the basement isn’t really an option anymore. What do you think they’ll do, with all the ‘extras?’“ Arlyn gestured at a love seat; the woman who, presumably, had been speaking was perched in a second love seat. She was a lovely girl, handsome rather than pretty, Mask up. The Zeroth, he’d noted, with the exception of Caiside, seemed to prefer remaining Masked.
“It’s a good question.” He took the offered seat and steered Lolly onto the couch next to him. “The ones like Lolly or Zita, they can be kept under control until they learn to control it – or until they graduate. I don’t know what the plan is for after school. But some of the other basement students don’t appear to have any potential control of their power.”
“Yeah.” Arlyn flopped in the seat next to the other woman. “Ah. Tilda, this is Jeremiah cy’Pelletier, and Lolly oro’Jeremiah. This is Tilda, my partner.”
Partner. Jeremiah bowed from his sitting position. “Nice to meet you.”
“Likewise.” The woman smiled like a cat; she did everything like a cat. It made Jeremiah’s fingers itch to pull her Mask off, somehow. “You were talking about control? There was one they sent down to the basement who didn’t last more than a week.” She pursed her lips in disapproval. “His power kept pulling him apart into animals, and one time, I guess he just couldn’t get himself back together.”
“It didn’t help that Anita – and probably others – would eat the little beasts.”
“Is that cannibalism, do you think?” Lolly’s voice was dreamy. “If you eat a shape-shifter when they’re a cow?”
“Or a hundred rats?” Arlyn shrugged. “That was one of the bad ones. I mean, other than like Aodh, who’s another case entirely.”
“I’ve met Aodh.” Lolly perked up. “I am getting very good at practicing my burn-healing with him.”
At this, Tilda shuddered. “Poor kid. I wonder if they ever teach him to control that.”
“And if they can’t, what are they going to do?” Jeremiah had Seen some of the options. None of them were pretty, and most of them were just horrible. “Do you think that this…” He hesitated. This wasn’t why he’d been sent here. But still…
Arlyn saved him having to make the decision. “Do we think that the ones like Aodh or Tim are because of what the Director’s doing? We’ve talked about that a few times, and we just don’t know.” He gestured at Lolly. “What about her? What about any of us, whose powers could be really bad? Does this happen, out in the world?”
“We should find out.” Lolly bounced in her seat, setting her leash to jangling. “We should track down the answers, like detectives.”
“We should.” Jeremiah set a hand on her shoulder, to keep her more or less still. “That sounds like teamwork…” He raised an eyebrow in invitation at Arlyn and Tilda. “And they wanted us to work together, didn’t they?”
Addergoole 9 is on one-week hiatus between quarters! Stay tuned for guest stories & outtakes!
This story was written in response to Rix’s donation and request for cy’Pelletier visiting the Basementers.
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?
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