October 10, 2013 by Lyn
“My crew…” Amadeus shifted from foot to foot. Ciara was pretty sure he wasn’t aware he was doing it.
“Gregori and Hemlock?”
“And Speed and Tigg and Æowyn.”
“Yeah, it is, a little, but I mean, my crew…” He paused, clearly expecting her to interrupt again. Ciara gestured for him to continue. “The crew’s been talking about it, and I’d – we’d – like you to join, if you want.”
“I have a crew.”
“You do, but…”
“But it doesn’t suit your plans?”
“But I want to see my friends this year!” He took a breath and glared down at her. “Damnit, woman, can’t you take a compliment?”
“What part of that was a compliment, Amadeus?”
“The part where I want you at my back in a fight and so does my crew. The part where we trust you and want you to be in our suite, and in our lives.”
“I thought this was about being in your bed.”
“We could find a way around that. I could sleep in the living room, or Tigg could….”
“You’ve actually thought this through.”
“I have.” He was still glowering. She noted with interest that it didn’t frighten her at all anymore. “I do that, you know, on occasion.”
“I’ll take your word for it.”
“Gods curse the sky, Ciara. Why are you being so antagonistic about this?”
“Because…” She stopped herself halfway through the sentence. Why was she being this angry about it? “Because you swayed my entire first year, Amadeus, and now you want to steer my second year, too. I think.”
“No!” He shook his head. “No, and, I mean, you Kept me, not the other way around. I didn’t ask to be Kept by you…”
“You asked to Keep me.”
“I know, I know. But would you have rather it was Thessaly or something?”
“Irrelevant. If you’re not trying to control me, then what?”
“I want…” He fell silent for a minute. Ciara let him think; she found she was a bit curious about the answer. “I want to have my cake and eat it to. And I like you and, um, I respect you.”
“Um respect me?”
“I’m trying, Ciara!” His voice took on the characteristic angry-Deus growl. “Cut me a little slack, will you? I thought…” He growled again.
Finally, Ciara noticed the way his shoulders were held forward, his hands clenched. That wasn’t a combat pose. He was worried.
“…that I was fond of you?” She tried to pitch her voice more gently.
“That you’d decided I was worth more than just keeping me from attacking you.”
“I had. I am.” She touched his shoulder gently. “I have a crew, though, Amadeus.”
“Do you? You have a couple… and they don’t seem to get you.”
“Do you think you do? Do you think Gregori and Hemlock – or Tigg and Speed and Æowyn – will?”
“I think we might, better than they do.” He touched her shoulder cautiously. “And, Ciara… I…”
She let the heartbeats pass. He would either finish the sentence or he wouldn’t.
“I like you.” He jerked his shoulders forwards. “I didn’t think I would, without the bond. But it feels like I’m still Kept. Enough that I wouldn’t fight it if you put a collar on me again.”
“And you want me to be part of your crew.”
“And I want you to be in a crew with me.”
“Can you give me a little time to think about it?”
“Of course.” He took a step backwards, as if planning on fleeing.
He froze, and then shook his head. “What?”
“Just because I haven’t said yes to being in your crew…” Yet. Although Shandar and Ellen would flip out. Maybe because Shandar and Ellen would flip out.
“Do you want me to grovel more?” The growl was back.
“No. No, no. Could you come in for a bit?”
“I’m here.” He gestured at the threshold to her living room.
“I meant… in.” She gestured quickly behind her.
“You want me in your bedroom?”
“I’m inviting you, aren’t I?” It wasn’t like he hadn’t been there before…
“Well, yeah, but… okay. Yes, I can come in. If you’re inviting me.”
She stepped backwards to the door to her room. “Come in.”
“Ciara…” He waited until they were both in the room. “Why?”
She didn’t quite need to steel herself. She just had to figure out how to approach it. Not from the side… straight-on, then. She was a cy’Luca, after all.
She stepped in and wrapped her arms around his waist. This felt, if not normal, at least like something she’d done before. She set her head on his chest, not bothering to try to look up at his face.
“I like you too.” She knew from the way his body shifted, from uncertain to tense, that he’d heard her. “And I want to be friends.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed Addergoole: Year Nine. Want more?