July 17, 2013 by Lyn
Wednesday, July 7, 2004
“Llew? Come on, man. You can’t spend the whole summer in your room.” Quintus had been banging on Llew’s door for the last week. Llew didn’t care.
“Watch me.” He muttered it, rather than shouting it. He didn’t want to give the midget any more reason to bother him than he already had. “I can if I want to.”
That just sounded childish. Llew didn’t care. He went back to destroying the heavy bag. Again. He was getting better than he’d ever thought he’d manage at Jasfe Unutu, at least when it came to repairing punching bags.
“Llew, man. I know you’re upset…”
Upset? No. Upset was something small, something you got over. He kicked the bag again. This was… damnit, this wasn’t even something he had the words for.
“Llew, come on. The basement people invited us over for beer. That’s got to be better than sulking in your room all summer.”
Sulking? Llew punched a hole through his heavy bag. Sulking? It was fine for Quint to talk, he still had…
Zeke had been a Sixth Cohort.
He still had…
Like Anwell had left Heidi at the end of Year Four.
He still had…
Heidi was a Seventh. She’d be around for another year. She was pregnant, pregnant with a child she assured Llew was his. She’s said she wanted to stay friends. Friends.
Quint and Zeke were still as cute as anything, collar or no, cuddled up every time Llew saw him. Quint still had Zeke, at least until September. Llew had a… a what?
She was carrying his child. Their child.
She was in love with another man.
She wanted to be friends. He was out of bag to hit and didn’t have anywhere else to point his anger. He punched the wall, ignoring the pain.
She thought he was a nice guy. Fist, wall, slam. She thought he was sweet, cy’Fridmar or not. Fist, wall. She thought he had potential. Head, wall.
Sweet. Punch. Nice. Kick. Potential. Head.
“Llew!” That was louder than it ought to be, coming from outside the door. “Llew, goddamnit. Llew.”
“Don’t wanna.” His head was swimming. There wasn’t so much a dent in the wall as the wall was a dent. “Don’t wanna come out.”
“Llew, if you’re going to stand there and concuss yourself, I’m going to stand here and swear at you until you get annoyed enough to hit me instead.”
“Don’t wanna.” He wasn’t really feeling up to hitting the wall again. He slid down to the floor, staring at the blue carpet. Why blue? Why royal blue, of all colors? Brown or red would at least hide the blood.
“You don’t have to. But you have to come over here for a bit, okay?” Quint had gone from swearing to coaxing. At least, he thought it was Quint. He still wasn’t looking. The carpet was soft, softer than any rug had any right to be.
“Don’t want to. I’m fine.”
“Okay, ‘Don’t want to’ is just being stubborn, but ‘I’m fine’ is flat-out lying. Llew, if you don’t come over here, I’m going to make you.”
“Can’t.” His head was swimming. He thunked it against the wall again, which seemed to stop the swimming.
“Can’t cross my threshold.”
“Nope. But I bet Luke can if I holler loud enough. And if that doesn’t work, well, there’s always Tempero Tlacatl Llew cy’Fridmar delta sikothoún, stand up. Ta pódia sto édafos, get your feet on the ground. Gloutoús méchri. Get your ass up.”
Llew’s feet landed flat on the ground, without an decision on his part. His seat lifted off the floor, dragging the rest of his body along with him. “Quint! Quint, damnit!” Being puppet-stringed up to his feet was probably the most uncomfortable feeling Llew had ever experienced – and he’d fought trolls in the basement. “Quiiint.”
“Walk on your own two feet or I will keep walking you.” His friend sounded strange, firmer than usual, more draconic. “You are going to the doctor’s office whether you want to or not. And then you are going to Dr. Mendosa’s. And then you are going to take a shower and eat something.”
“I don’t need a doctor. Either sort.” Llew was pretty sure that was at least half a lie<s>, but he didn’t need a shrink</s>. “Don’t need a shrink.”
“Bullshit. If you’d come out on your own, I would have let you get away with it. But since you haven’t, you’re screwed.”
“Look, if you don’t walk yourself out of that room and down to the Doctor’s in the next five minutes, not only am I going to borrow Lee to explain to you what Keeping can suck really looks like, but I’m going to Keep you my own damn self, since you so obviously can’t take care of yourself yet.”
“Not gay.” It was a lame response and he knew it. Llew took a step towards the door, hoping he could get Quint to go away without getting dragged to the doctor’s. Or worse. “‘Sides, you’re still Kept. Can’t stack it.”
“Just a necklace. Zeke graduated, remember?” Quint shrugged.
“Don’t you have your own problems, then? Shouldn’t you be spending every minute you can with your boyfriend, since he’s leaving soon?” That many words hurt Llew’s head. But if he could get Quint to leave…
“Yep. I do. And I’ll still collar your ass. Tempero Tlacatl Llew cy’Friedmar epsilon…”
“I’m moving, I’m moving. Departed gods, don’t burn yourself out with an epsilon.”
“Good, good, you do still have something like human feeling left in there.” Quintus held up his hands, and no Working pressed on Llew’s legs and feet.
“I’m not human. Neither are you.” And he was nothing but goddamned feelings.
“No, but we both still feel. Come on, Llew. Are you moving, or not?”
“Moving.” He took one step, and then another, feeling like he was a thousand years old. I wonder if it gets better. He repeated the thought out loud.
“If what gets better? Punching walls? If it does, I hope you’re not still living in an underground bunker with me, because that could get messy really fast.”
“Ha, ha. I mean. We live for a thousand years, right? Or longer?”
“So they tell us. Move, Llew. I’m serious.”
Llew took three more steps. “Does it ever stop feeling like hell, do you think?”
Quint’s voice got serious. “The Bond? Probably not. They say it was designed to control wayward gods, like the rest of the Law. And, I mean, we’re going to be wayward gods for the rest of our lives, really.”
“I don’t feel like a wayward god.”
“Well, to quote Zeke, you’re also a teenage. I’m a teenager. I imagine that the being-a-teenager part wears off after a while. But, I mean, we could ask Luke. Or Professor VanderLinden. They might know.”
Llew Found his lips twisting. “If you want to ask Luke the Hawk-Face if he’s ever been in love, you’re free to. I’m not going to.”
“Well, I mean, Doug’s his son, right? I mean, if Doug’s his kid, there probably had to be a Mrs. Luke at one point.” Quint smiled, like he was inviting Llew to share the joke. Llew managed something like a smirk.
“Mrs. Luke. Ouch. I’m still not gonna ask the gym teacher about his love life.”
“Me, neither, truth be told. But look. Look, yeah, it hurts.”
“You still have yours!”
“But the bond, that still hurts.”
“You’re still wearing his collar.”
“Yeah.” Quint’s hand went up to the necklace around his neck. “I am. But he graduated, and the Keeping broke, because it’s not real, it’s not forever, it’s just for school.” He shook his head. “Yeah, it hurt. Come on, man. Get out of there or I will collar you.”
“You’re Kept.” Llew knew it wasn’t true. He kept saying it anyway, and he didn’t even know why. “You can’t.” Or. “you’re my friend. You wouldn’t.” It’s not real. It’s not forever. He’d always known it wasn’t forever but Heidi was still here, she was still in school. And he didn’t have her, and he wouldn’t again. “She wants to be friends.”
“If you are not across this threshold by the time I count to seven, I will sure as fuck Keep you. Because you’re my friend, damnit, and you’re bleeding all over your blue carpet and, fuck it, Llew. Llew?”
He’d hit his head too many times, he thought. Either that or he was having some really fucked up late-Change sort of thing. The world was spinning and his knees were buckling. “Don’t… sure. nothing matters.”
“Llew, let me in. Llew.” Quint sounded frantic. Quint was also like a foot shorter than Llew, a pretty-boy sort with no muscle on him at all.
And Quint was willing to knock down his door to get him out of here.
“Don’t want…” He was losing consciousness. That could be nice. When he was unconcious, he wasn’t thinking, wasn’t feeling anything. He wasn’t missing Heidi. “The Bond?”
“The Bond fucks with your head. Llew. Let me in.”
“I got it, man. You don’t like guys. That’s fine. I’m not trying to fuck you, I’m trying to save your life.”
“Yours.” The word was mangled, but he managed it. “Yours.” He fell quiet, hoping it would be enough. The world was spinning, twisting, turning.
“Llew, you’re Mine.”
Llew let go.
Later the same day
He woke feeling like his head was stuffed full of cotton.
He was laying flat on his back, and a moment of closed-eyed exploration told him that he was restrained hand and foot. He wanted to open his eyes, but his head was pounding as if he had an entire marching band doing double-time in there.
And he felt weird. The place where the betrayal and anger and hurt had been, that was still there, but it felt a long way away.
The pain in his hands, in his feet, and the pounding in his head, on the other hand, felt very real indeed.
He cleared his throat. “Did I…?”
“I am told that, given the state of your room, you really did slam your head repeatedly into drywall covering concrete, yes.” He’d recognize Dr. Caitrin’s voice anywhere, and she was unimpressed. “I have called Adelheid and given her a piece of my mind. Two and a half piece of my mind, to be precise. She never should have let you in such a state.”
“It’s not her fault.” She had warned him not to all in love with her. She had made it very clear that she was already in love with Anwell, and that that wasn’t changing any time soon.
“It most assuredly is. It was irresponsible or her to allow you to go off like that, and not paying attention to your emotional state.”
“I didn’t want her to pay attention to my emotional state!” He opened his eyes, and then squeezed them shut as the light stabbed him. “I didn’t want her to know there was a problem. She had Anwell, yeah. She doesn’t need me being a wreck.”
“And you don’t need the emotional stress of trying to deal with a bad bond-lash on your own. She was irresponsible.”
“She’s in love with another guy.”
“And she Kept you. The two are not mutually exclusive. Quintus, for example, is in love with Sequoia, and he Kept you.”
“I’m not…” In the face of the Doctor’s cool assessment, he couldn’t very well go there again. He sighed. “Not likely to fall in love with him?”
“And there’s that, of course. But that is irrelevant to Adelheid’s irresponsibility.”
“Please stop saying that. Look, I was a moron and I know that. Can we just.. just leave it there?
“You wish to not discuss the matter?”
“Yeah. I don’t want to talk about how I couldn’t stop being a moron over a girl I knew couldn’t love me.”
“She could have. Many people can love more than one person at a time. But that’s beside the point. I will stop discussing it. However, in that case, two things will happen.”
That sounded like a trap. “What two things?”
“First. We are going to discuss exactly what you did to your body, and what it will take to heal it. In detail.”
“I can handle that.” He could stand learning more about Jasfe, even i he was using his own body as the learning tool. “And?”
“And you are going to have at least four sessions with Dr. Mendosa, more if she finds it necessary.” She finished the sentence with a snap that suggested she wasn’t going to negotiate.
Llew hissed anyway. “I don’t need a shrink.”
“I can go speak to Adelheid right now.” Her voice lilted up as if she was leaving.
“You’re blackmailing me?” He opened his eyes long enough to focus on the doctor’s dry expression.
“If I have to use blackmail to keep a patient safe and whole, I will. Of course, I could negotiate with your Keeper, instead?”
“My… shit. That wasn’t a dream.”
“I believe it was not. And Quintus was able to get Sequoia into your room to carry you here, so it is very likely to be truth.”
Llew closed his eyes, blocking out the doctor’s apologetic smile. “That’s why everything feels weird.”
“Emotionally, possibly. The physical weirdness, as it were, is simply a side effect of you being stupid.”
“Are you supposed to call your patients stupid?”
“When they have been phenomenally stupid, and reminding them of that fact may stop them from being stupid again, yes. But, if it’s any consolation, it could be worse.”
He had to open his eyes again. She sounded so sugary. “Worse how?”
“I could be talking to your Mentor about this.” Her smile was something to behold.
Llew closed his eyes. The world still hurt. “You’re really mad at me, aren’t you?”
“I am worried about you, Llew sh’Jezebel. And I am angry at you, because you needed help – need help – and, instead of asking for it, you drove yourself into a state.”
“I didn’t want to bother anyone. And I didn’t really want anyone to know what a mess I was.”
“Well, you’ve failed on both accounts.” Her voice was back to its normal crisp self. “Now. Will you speak to Dr. Mendosa willingly?”
“Only because you’re blackmailing me.”
“That will suffice. Now, about the injuries. I’ve healed the very beginnings of the concussion, but left the rest for the moment. The cerebral edema has been dealt with, however. I did not want to risk permanent brain damage, and brains are difficult things to put back together properly, even for me.”
He lifted one arm enough to test the restraints. “Why am I tied down?”
“Because you have, to date, exhibited no self-preservation at all and, to be specific about it, have proven to be a danger to yourself. You will remain restrained until your Keeper or Doctor Mendosa believe that you no longer present a threat.”
“This is a lot of attention for someone who just banged his head against a wall. Isn’t there some messed-up Kept or something that you could be paying attention to?” Could you let me go back to my cave?
“The nice thing about it being summer vacation is that there are very few people who need my attention, at least in the ‘messed-up Kept’ department. The nice thing about the changes we have made over the years is that there are, even during the school year, very few ‘messed-up Kept.’” Her voice got sharper with every word.
Llew opened his eyes again. “Now you’re angry with me for real.”
“Now I’m angry with you for real.” She nodded slowly. “I understand that you are hurting, Llew. But you are being unpleasant for no reason other than to be unpleasant, and that is not acceptable.”
“Mostly I just want to be left alone.” He felt a little ashamed about the whole thing, now.
“I know.” Her expression softened, just barely. “And I can understand that urge. However, it’s an unhealthy urge.” She tapped his leg. “As for ‘messed-up Kept.’ We don’t always see every case. We missed Lee this year for far too long, for example. You, who I am fairly certain has a ride-to-the-rescue urge quite stronger than your primarily Daeva and Grigori ancestry would suggest, should keep that in mind. Keep your eyes open, young Llew. Pay attention to those who are collared, and remember what it is the Bond does to you.”
“Are you deputizing me, Sheriff?” He tried to make it a joke. “I thought that was Luke’s job.”
“Luke and I – and, indeed, the rest of the staff – share responsibility for this. And yes, if you would like to look at it that way, I am deputizing you. Students are often very clever about the ways they hide things from us.”
“And less clever about hiding it from each other.” Llew looked thoughtful. “My cy’ree…”
“Yes. Your cy’ree has quite the reputation for such things.”
“And you’re not worried about me?”
“I’m not.” She pursed her lips. “Adelheid mentioned to me a… few things about the nature of her choosing to collar you, and the misunderstandings thereof, all around. You are not only not the stereotype of your cy’ree, most of your cy’ree currently are not that stereotype, either.”
“Fran and Penny graduated.”
“Yes.” She pursed her lips. “That is a concern. But I have faith in those of you that remain.”
“You have me strapped to a bed right now.”
“I’m fairly certain this will be a temporary situation.”
“Fairly certain. Thanks.”
“You’re already beginning to sound better. But now, you are going to sleep, so that I can work on repairing your body without causing you further distress.”
“I don’t feel tired…” He’d forgotten, he supposed, about magic. She’d no sooner said it than he was unconscious.
Friday, July 9, 2004
Llew was beginning to feel antsy, and not just because he was strapped down to a bed. Quintus had stopped in for a couple hours yesterday, and a shorter time the day before, but he hadn’t been in at all so far today, it was almost dinner time, and Llew didn’t know what to do with the feelings going through him.
It’s the bond. He’d reminded himself of this for at least eighteen or nineteen times in the last half hour. This is not love. It might not have been love with Adelheid. It was the bond, pressing into his brain and making him want things. Want his Keeper, want his Keeper’s approval and attention.
If I broke out of here he’d notice me. That was probably a bad idea. But he’d notice.
This was the longest he’d been left alone since he woke up here. He didn’t have to piss so much as, being unable to move, he was starting to wonder what would happen if he did have to take a piss, which, of course, made him want to take a piss.
“Hey.” Quintus stood in the doorway. He was, notably, not wearing a collar anymore. And he was holding something in his hand.
Llew swallowed. It’s the bond. It’s being Kept. You are not falling in love with your friend; that would be stupid. “Hey.” He jerked an arm in something like a greeting, pulled short by the restraints.
“We’re breaking you out of here. Well, with the doctor’s permission, of course.”
“Of course.” Llew swallowed a lump of strangeness in his throat.
“I just want to talk about a couple things first.”
“Sure?” The lump was a brick now, and getting bigger. Quint sat down on the edge of the bed, and it got worse. Llew couldn’t have moved if the restraints were removed; there was a boulder on his chest.
“Okay. First, you’re gonna keep your room. I mean, it’s summer, I don’t think anyone will mess with you, and since I’m sleeping with Zeke, it would get a little awkward.” He smiled crookedly.
“Yeah.” Llew managed to answer the smile with something that probably turned his lips up.
“We both know about being Kept. So you’ll hang out with me for at least an hour every evening.”
“You’ve only got the summer with Zeke…”
“I know. I do know. I’ll make sure I have time with him. But you and I…”
“You and I?” He did not squeak. He was not the sort of guy to squeak.
“You are not spending any more time sulking in your room. You are going to stay busy; I am going to make you stay busy. You’re getting a summer job, you’re training with your Mentor, and you’re going to pick an independent study and do it.”
“I’m not going to have time to sleep.”
“You will. But you’re probably going to be exhausted and fall straight asleep at the end of the day, and if you don’t, I can help with that. You’re done moping. And you are, outside of sparring, not allowed to hurt yourself. No punching walls. No kicking walls.”
“What about the heavy bag?”
“Only with supervision.”
Quint frowned. “I know it sucks. But you temporarily lost your heavy-bag privileges when you used a concrete wall as a bag. I’m sure Luke will supervise if I’m busy.”
Llew grimaced. “Not Luke, please. He doesn’t like me and I don’t like him.”
“Doug, then, or Professor Fridmar, or one of the Seventh Cohorts, if there’s someone you can stand.”
“Hunh. I’ll think of something.” He didn’t ask more questions, in hopes he’d be able to avoid more orders.
Quint was smarter than that. “No combat practice of any sort, except stretches, unless you’re supervised. You can train with your Mentor as much as he says is acceptable and reasonable, and you will tell him it’s up to him to determine a reasonable level. You can tell him your new Keeper is being a prick about it, if it helps.”
“I’m not making you explain why you really have that restriction.”
“… okay. Thanks.”
Quint nodded. His forehead was pinched in a frown. “I’m going to leave it there for now. Well, I’m going to, more or less, plan your entire week – your whole life, really – for a bit. But I won’t put any more standing orders on for now.”
“Thanks.” Llew didn’t make it sound as sarcastic as he could have – because he wasn’t as sarcastic as he might have been. He’d had a lot of time to think in the last couple days – and a couple long conversations with Dr. Mendosa already. Quint had probably saved his life, or at least his brain. And, after all, the guy was his Keeper, and he was taking time away from his own boyfriend to deal with Llew.
I’m a horrid Kept for doing this.
Well. Dr. Mendosa had been working on this one with him. I’m just going to have to figure out how to do better, then, aren’t I?
Something must have showed. Quint smiled crookedly at him. “You’re going to be fine. Come on, I’m going to get those restraints off of you.” He lifted the hand holding the something Llew had been pointedly ignoring, and then colored, as if he’d been ignoring it so well himself that he’d forgotten about it. “And, uh.”
“It’s all right.” Llew coughed, and tried to sound less harsh. “It’s okay. I know what a collar is. And I get it. This is kind of a punitive Keeping, anyway.” He smirked dryly around it. “As long as it doesn’t have bells on it or anything.”
“Bells. Ha. Maybe I ought to… no, that’s not anywhere you want go. Anyway, no, I mean, no. It doesn’t have bells. It’s leather and stuff, but I figured it’s… well.”
“Quint. If you get me out of these restraints, it could have flowers on it and I’d be okay with it.”
And finally, Quint smiled again. “No flowers. I promise you, no flowers. Just leather.”
For the first time since Adelheid had freed him, Llew thought, maybe, things might end up being okay. “No flowers. Great.”
Friday, July 9, 2004
“I… don’t really understand.”
Shang had been saying that a lot in the last couple months. Ever since he’d made an agreement he’d thought he understood (to be a joke) with a girl he thought he understood (to be deluded) to deal with a monster he’d thought he’d understood (to be a hoax).
He’d been saying “I’m sorry” a lot, too, but that, at least, he sort of understood. He didn’t mean to upset Damaris, and he honestly thought she was trying not to be offended. But Shang had never, really, had a girlfriend before, and Damaris was… well, she was something, and he wasn’t really sure what.
That was the problem. He wasn’t sure of anything anymore. Nothing he was told made any sense at all. But nothing he’d believed did, either, when he looked at the evidence.
“You don’t have to understand this one.” Damaris patted Shang’s leg. He hated that it made him feel better, to be patted like a dog, but she did it a lot, and it made him feel better every time. “This is just a girl thing, not a faerie thing.”
“O…kay? So you’re not going to explain?”
“I have it on good authority that if I try to explain exactly why mauve is different from rose, for example, the only thing I do is hurt guy’s brains. And I’m really not trying to hurt you.” She smirked a little, enough that Shang felt safe responding with his own smirk. “I like having you around.”
“I’m glad.” It was a really good thing, actually, since she seemed determined to keep him around for a good long time.
Friday, July 9, 2004
“Mmmm.” Speed leaned backwards off the bed until his hair brushed the floor. “You’re sooo good to me.”
“I enjoy being good to you.” Gregori traced circles on Speed’s stomach, moving down to his hips. “Almost as much as you enjoy it when I’m bad.”
“That’s not bad, Master. That’s deliciously, properly right.” Speed put his feet flat on the bed and his hands flat on the floor, and streetched until his navel was as close to Gregori’s nose as he could get it. “You know I like everything you do to me.”
“Almost everything.” Gregori bit the smooth flesh of Speed’s stomach, hard enough to send a pleasant frission of pain through him.
“Almost everything. There was that thing…”
“And when you left me here for like a day by myself.” He pushed the arch further, wondering how high, how long, how hard he could stretch.
“It was three hours.” Gregori licked Speed’s hips, making it harder and harder for him to concentrate on the pose.
“It was at least a day.” He’s been leashed to the bed, cuffed, and blindfolded. It had been fun… at first. Until he’d figured out that Gregori had left him. “Even if it was only three hours.” His pose was wavering; he focused on making it perfect. “It was mean.”
“Sometimes I’m mean. And I don’t know what your limits are, unless I find them.”
Speed let the arch break and collapsed back to the bed. He curled around Gregori’s knees and looked up, smug, at his master. “Haven’t found many, have you?”
“I have not. And that has pleased me more than you know. You’re nearly the perfect sub.”
“Nearly.” Speed wrinkled his nose. “I don’t want a baby.”
Addergoole: Year Nine updates every Wednesday evening EST. Want more?