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Chapter 88: Shahin


May 19, 2016 by Lyn

Friends will be friends
When you’re in need of love they give you care and attention
Friends will be friends
When you’re through with life and all hope is lost

Saturday morning came slowly for Shahin, wrapped in the warmth that was Emrys, safe in his arms, dreaming of a place by a river where everything was safe. Slowly, she slipped out of the dream, and back to a reality that was sharp, painful, and uncomfortable.

She didn’t open her eyes at first. She thought the world might be better if she never had to open her eyes again. But thought pricked at her from the sides of the pain, and she remembered what else had been in her dream. Not just them, their broken little family.

“Our friends,” she whispered. Damnit, even if that included that horrid bitch Agatha.

“Mmm?” He stirred against her, and it felt like a thousand tiny papercuts wherever his flesh touched hers.

She stifled a whimper with effort. A pill would stop the pain. A pill would make everything better… “No,” she said, softly but firmly. If she could survive a monster, she could be stronger than a damn pill.

“No what? Are you awake, Sheen? You’re okay. We’re home. Talk to me.”

His voice was too loud, this early, too much to deal with. “Shut…” she caught herself, and swallowed. She’d lost too much edge; she would have to work to get it back. “Shh, please, Emrys. I know we’re home. I just,” she caught her breath, and swallowed the rest of the sentence. “Good morning.”

“Good morning,” he whispered, the loudness of it reverberating in her ears. “How’re you doing?”

“Alive,” she answered dryly. “Not certain yet that that’s the preferred state. Yourself?” Find some footing. Bring things back to where she understood them. Shut down this soul-nakedness before it became a habit.

“I’ll be okay if you will.”

I’ll be okay as long as you’re here with me. She opened her eyes, slowly, to look at him. “I’ll recover. I don’t think I’ll ever look at an aspirin again in quite the same light.” Or a naked man. Especially this naked man. Or a knife. She shuddered, remembering the way he’d looked, limp and bleeding, dying.

Now, he was none of those things. He was whole, and holding her close in his arms. It was comforting, albeit in a sandpapery way. “We’ll get through this, Sheen.”

We. It would be a lot more comforting if it didn’t feel so one-sided. “We should let our friends know that we’re okay.” She sighed. “That we’re back, at least.”

“I guess we should, yeah. Where do you want to go first?”

She considered the clock. “Your crew first.”

“Fair enough.” He gently disengaged from her, fingertips lightly brushing over her like burning needles, and rose to dress.

Dressing itself was a problem. She stood naked in front of her closet for several minutes, knowing all of her favorite clothes would chafe and stab at her, that the corsets would be unbearable, the lace intolerable.

She coughed out a little sound that was somewhere between a laugh and a sob. “I… I have nothing to wear,” she choked, amused at the irony and yet wanting to scream with frustration. Wasn’t even her image her own to control anymore?

She sighed softly, and went through her closet again. That skirt was soft enough, especially with her favorite tights. Ballet flats. “Give me your T-shirt. Please.” Nothing she owned wouldn’t feel like misery. And if Aggie made fun of her – well, she’d deal with that then.

He handed her a t-shirt, smiling. “Y’know, that could be cute on you.”

“‘Cute’ is not normally a look I go for.” She slipped the shirt on. “I was thinking more of ‘bearable.’ Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Are we ready, then?”

She pulled out her softest mitts and slipped them on. “Now we are.” She braced her shoulders and took his hand before they left her room. He walked with her, hand in hand, to Agatha’s suite.

She didn’t really want to do this. But they were his friends, poisonous and creepy or no, and they had a right to know. She rapped on the door, trying not to cringe at the bone-on-bone feeling.

Bowen answered the door, wearing his typical hangdog expression, but he smiled just a little at seeing them. “Hi guys.”

“Hi,” Shahin smiled, making her expression as gentle as she could make it. Poor thing. “We’re just stopping in to visit for a moment.”

“Hey, that’s great.” He stepped aside to make room as Tolly lumbered up to the door. “There you are! Come on in!”

Shahin couldn’t hide the wince this time; Tolly was loud normally. Today, he was unbearable. Still, she stepped over the threshold, far enough in to let Emrys enter as well.

Tolly scooped them both up in a great big bear hug. She didn’t scream, even though it felt as if her whole body was being crushed in a vice. He wouldn’t understand. “Tolly,” she squeaked painfully, wondering when a squeak had been added to her repertoire.

He set them down gingerly. “Oh, sorry,” he roared at close range, eliciting another wince. “Guess you’re still fragile, huh?”

“I… yes. You heard what happened?” She whispered, hoping that would encourage him to whisper as well.

“Not entirely,” he replied in a duller roar.

She winced. She neither wanted to interrogate him nor explain. “Monster,” she tried to explain, very quietly. “Ki- Kidnapped us.” It sounded somehow insufficient, but she didn’t think she could bear giving him the details.

“Man.” He shook his head. “Well, you know, if there’s anything you need, we’re here.”

“Thank you, Tolly.” She glanced at Emrys, to reassure herself that he was still there, to see if he wanted to say anything.

“Yeah, thanks,” Emrys said. Dysmas and even Agatha had stepped up behind Anatoliy in the meantime, and they nodded their agreement.

She looked them over, too raw still to hide all her surprise. Well, they were Emrys’ crew, after all. “Thank you,” she repeated, this time to all three of them. “I can’t – well, won’t – speak for Emrys in this, but I think all I need is time.” And a padded white room.

“You’ll be fine,” Dysmas agreed, with an almost knowing tone.

Dysmas was owned by Delaney his first year here, Emrys had said. Maybe he really did know. She turned back to Emrys. “Next stop, then?”

“I guess so, yeah. Thanks, guys.”

“Do you want to stay here for a while? It’s not like anyone’s waiting for me, exactly…”

“We were just going to watch a movie,” Dysmas offered. ”Stick around?”

“Yeah, that’d be nice,” Emrys said, glancing to Shahin.

She nodded, relieved to have something he wanted that she could give him. ” “Sounds lovely.”

Dysmas put the movie in as they settled down in the living room – she saw him put away something bloody and violent, and pull out a comedy instead – and, for a little while, if she ignored the harsh jangling of her nerves, life was almost normal.

Everyone was being nice; even Agatha seemed to be making an effort. Although things seemed a little strained still between Aggie and Tolly, the tiny woman’s newfound politeness was a relief to Shahin’s raw senses. Maybe the girl had a shred of humanity in her, after all.

Emrys, for the most part, acted like it was just an ordinary day for him. As much as she was trying to do the same, she wondered how he could just sit there like everything was okay. But now was not the time to ask. Now was the time for stupid movies and friends acting like friends. Even if one of them was a vampire.

She was almost reluctant to leave when the movie was over, but… “We should go find Ayla and Vi.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” Emrys nodded. “We’ll see you later, right guys?”

“Of course,” Dysmas agreed. “We’re glad you’re back.”

“Me, too,” Shahin said with feeling. She’d never thought she’d be glad to be back in this madhouse, but it was nice to be around friends. To hold Emrys’ hand like there was nothing wrong.

It wasn’t a long walk, and she didn’t have much to say they hadn’t already said, but she spent it trying to figure out how to ask him to knock this time.

He needed no help with that it seemed though, and when they reached Ayla’s door, he rapped lightly upon it.

“Thanks,” she murmured.

Ayla opened the door before he answered. She looked first annoyed, and then, very quickly, startled, happy, worried, and annoyed again. “Sheen!”

It wasn’t as bad as Anatoliy. No normal-sized human could be as loud as Tolly. She managed not to flinch back too much – but Ayla was more observant than the giant, perhaps because they were almost at eye level with each other. ”Shahin? What’s wrong?”

Oh, gods. She gulped and looked at Emrys silently for help.

“She’s still a little shaken up,” he said. “If you could make an effort to be quiet? And not touch her too much?”

Ayla glared at him. “Shaken up?” Her voice was, Shahin noticed, a lot quieter. ”What did you do to her? Come in, come in,” she added.

I do? Well fuck you too.” Emrys spun on his heel.


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