August 6, 2016 by Lyn
This story takes place immediately after Looking for Trouble.
“Just because Tya didn’t want you anymore,” Massima was purring, as Shiva got close enough to hear, “doesn’t mean you’ve got what it takes to hold your own around here.”
“And you would know, of course,” Nikita was replying, his voice lazy, velvet over barbs, “what it takes to survive intact as a Kept. Have you ever worn the collar, ‘Sima?”
Acacia barked out a laugh. “Ha! The little bitch thinks he’s got more balls than you, Sima, just because he hid behind the switchblade’s skirts for a year.” Both of the Thorne Girls’ were slurring their words – just a little; they probably weren’t drunk enough to slow them down in a real fight. Fortunately, this probably wouldn’t come to a fight.
“And why would you think it takes more to be Kept than to be free?” Massima challenged him. She was right up in his face now, bare inches away. Departed gods, if she laid a hand on him in violence, Shiva was going to have to fight her – and all of her crew. She hoped fervently that Mags was up to it; hoped even more that she could end this before it got that far.
“Well,” Niki drawled, not helping the situation one bit, “if you’d ever been under the collar, you’d know. But since you haven’t, I guess you’re going to have to take my word for it. Being Kept takes – what did you call it? – balls, at least if you want to come out sane.”
“Right.” Acacia shook her head. “You’ve clearly got cojones, going after ‘Sima. So why aren’t you Kept?”
He smirked widely. Shiva was glad it wasn’t her on the end of his humour this time – even as she worried how badly this was going to go. She could stop him before he said anything, but he seemed to be having fun.
“Well, that would be what they call guessing wildly without enough facts, ma’am. Assuming.”
“Well, if you’d answer a straight question…”
“Now that would be assuming I was straight.” He said the line straight at least – one raised eyebrow subtly mocking the bullies. Shiva wondered if he was trying to get her ass kicked.
“Honey, after a year with Tya, no-one thinks you’re anything but bent.”
“Ah, but see,” he grinned triumphantly, “there we go with assumptions again.”
Acacia shook her head. “What are you aiming for, boy? ‘Cause from here, it looks like you’re trying to get a beat-down, and I didn’t figure you for quite that crazy.”
“I’m just trying to correct mistakes,” he said innocently. Shiva slipped between two observers to bring herself to the center of the gathering, standing between the quietly-waiting Allyse and the very jittery Finnegan.
“So you’re saying that I’m mistaken?” Acacia didn’t even glance at Shiva. There was a chance she didn’t see her there, although Massima certainly did.
“You’re free to take what you want from my words.”
“I think I’m free to take whatever I want from any of you, not just your words.” The bully stepped up closer to Niki, while Massima slipped behind him. “And I think we will, too, you wise-assed little bitch.”
“I’d rather you didn’t,” Shiva cut in, stepping forward to complete a triangle around her Kept. “I’m not really a big fan of sharing, all things considered.”
“Shiva.” Massima’s smile was as sharp as her own. “I didn’t know you liked this sort of game.”
“I don’t, normally,” she answered frankly. “But I’m rather fond of Nikita, there, and I’d rather not see him become ah… a Thorne bitch. Not that you’re not good to your boys, mind you, but they’re a little sharp and edgy after you’re done with them, and, really, I don’t like all those prickly bits in bed with me.” Never mind that he started out prickly.
“So are you taking responsibility for the little bitch?”
“I suppose I am, yes.” She draped an arm over Niki’s shoulders. “Would you like me to gag him for you?”
“Shee-” he began indignantly.
“Hush, Nikita,” she cut him off. “The grown-ups are talking.”
He fell silent, glaring sullenly at her. She patted his head, and turned her attention back to the Thorne Girls.
“So you’ll take the flack for his running mouth?”
“That’s what being his Keeper means,” she answered lazily. “Though I don’t see he’s done any harm.”
“Aah, but that’s our call, isn’t it? He’s a smart-mouthed little bitch.”
“Well, yes,” she agreed levelly, “but he’s my smart-mouthed little bitch, and you’re drunk. Not the best time to get into a challenge, when your Words get mushy around the edges, is it?”
“Don’t think we need Workings to take your furry little ass,” Acacia smiled lazily.
“Of course not. But it’s not you against me any more than it’s me against just you, Acacia. Not around here.” Her posture was lazy and arrogant, and she hoped passionately that the Thorne Girls’ noses weren’t as good as hers – under the sleepy-kitty act, she was terrified. They were bigger than she was, they had her outnumbered and surrounded, and Ty wasn’t here. “So how about this. I’ll take Nikita back to our suite, and punish him suitably. You’re welcome to come watch.” And wouldn’t that be fun? “If you still feel like calling me out when you’ve all sobered up, let me know, and we’ll settle it then.”
Acacia considered it, or at least gave the appearance of doing so. The Thorne Girls were, hands-down, the most combat-able crew in the school – but Shiva’s crew fought dirty. And no real insult had been given.
“Your word you’ll punish him sufficiently? I don’t need to watch.” Her lip curled at watch.
“My word,” Shiva nodded. “I’ll punish Nikita appropriately. Hush, Niki.” She covered his mouth with her hand, obscuring his sulk.
“We’ll talk later then. Enjoy the party.” The bullies ambled off, and the crowd, denied their fight, broke up.
Shiva turned to face her Kept, smiling with all her teeth. “Come on, sweetie. Let’s go home.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Was that fear she smelled? Delicious.
Category Bonus Stories, Restricted Section, The School Years, Year 5 | Tags: acacia, allyse, massima, nikita, shiva
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