July 20, 2016 by Lyn
The world kept insisting on being full of pain and blood.
She could really do with some nice clouds, a little breeze, maybe some rain, but the world kept arguing back with more pain and more blood. She was drenched in sweat, and none of it made any sense at all.
Not nearly forty weeks. It was becoming her mantra. Something was happening to her body that was wrong, but it couldn’t be what Tolly thought it was. It wasn’t time.
“I’ll be back in a few minutes, Kailani, dear. Just hold on.” Dr. Caitrin patted her knee and left her alone, staring at the ceiling. Would the Doctor be angry if she Worked a rainstorm? The drains in the floor were very well-hidden, but they were there.
“Well, how the uppity have fallen.”
Agatha. She knew that she’d come, but did she have to come so soon? Kai struggled into a more comfortable position. “Aggie.”
“Not even your boy here to comfort you. You’re supposed to tell them what to do, you know.”
She bit her tongue on a groan as another cramp gripped her. “He was unhappy being with me. Angry with me. And I would rather have him be angry and not here than not himself at all anymore.”
“Stupid ideals.” Aggie shook her head. “And even your friends are tired of your ideals, aren’t they? They’ve left you high and dry.”
“They’re angry.” Kai knew the argument was weak. “They’re made because ‘Lisha and Mea… they think that’s my fault.”
“Well, it is your fault.”
“I didn’t do anything to them!”
“No, but you have been causing enough trouble. Didn’t you think it would come back on them eventually?”
“I was trying to help people,” she spat. “Trying to help your Kept when the dragon hurt him got me hurt enough!”
“You shouldn’t touch other people’s Kept, or tamper with them. It’s against the Law.” Agatha looked so perfectly prim. If Kai hadn’t been so tired, she would have slapped her.
“And raping people isn’t. I know, Agatha. I researched it. But I’d say I paid for that one sufficiently.”
“But not for taking Bowen from me! From turning my friendship with Tolly against me.”
Does she really think it’s a friendship? “You think this is fair?” Kai gestured at the bed, at the empty room, and then let the pain take her for a minute. She knew her voice caught as she continued. “Leaving me alone, with nobody here while I…” She swallowed a sob.
“Of course I think it’s fair, you stupid twit. You took Bowen away from me. You took Tolly away from me. So I took your friends away from you.”
She bent over in pain because she knew she was no good at lying with her face. “You… no. Mea’s temperamental and ‘Lisha’s… well, more temperamental. And they think I’m an interfering busybody. But this wasn’t you.” Okay, she’d have to be stupid and naïve to believe that… but that’s what Aggie thought she was.
“Not me?” Aggie sat down on the side of the bed with a considerable thump for such a small girl. “I told you, I promised you I wouldn’t forget your slight against me.” Her voice dropped to a hiss. “And you think this is just a coincidence?”
Kai blinked up from the pain. “You did this?”
“Of course I did this, you stupid twit. Are you sure you’re my cousin?”
“You… did something to Mea and ‘Lisha? Made them all… angry and throwing things?”
“Yes. I turned them against their lovers, and their lovers turned against you. This is what you get for messing with me, you pissant little brat.”
She blinked up at her. “But… How? I mean, ‘Lisha loves Vlad.”
“I Worked her Hugr, what do you think I did?”
“You tampered with Vladimir’s Kept?”
“And Taro’s pretty little whore. And now everyone hates you… because you couldn’t keep your nose out of other people’s business.” She caught the look on Kai’s face, and laughed. “Oh, come on. I’m the Director’s daughter. Who’s going to believe you over me?”
“Eyewitnesses,” she whispered.
Emrys and Shahin stepped out of the Working hiding them from sight on one side, and Mabina-and-Cassidy and Conrad from the other, Conrad’s tail twitching and his hands stutter-shaking against his sides.
“Eyewitnesses.” Mabina’s tone was crisp and firm. “We’ll thank you to put our crew-mate’s Kept back the way you found her now. If you also put back Mea to her normal self, we may overlook demanding other payment.”
Aggie looked between the five newcomers, her hands shaking, a frown growing on her face. When she turned back to Kai, her lips had already curled into a snarl. “You absolute little shit, how dare you. How could you think you could outwit me?”
I’ve done it twice now. She’d had help this time, though. “My friends were counting on me. Vlad needs his ‘Lisha back.”
“And you think this stupid stunt is going to make me do something?” Her fingernails, Kai noticed, were growing extremely long and sharp.
“Agatha.” Shahin’s voice was crisp. “You can’t tamper with someone’s Kept. It’s against the Law.”
“You upstart little freak, this is all your fault!”
“Har-” Shahin barely had the word out of her mouth when Agatha dove at her. Then, things began happening fast enough that even Kai had trouble keeping up.
Emrys stepped in front of Shahin, his hands lighting on fire. Conrad dove in front of Kai, leaping over the table in a move that startled her for its grace. And Bowen, from out of nowhere, grabbed the tiny blonde menace by the back of her shirt and yanked her off the ground.
“Aggie, there’s no reason to attack Shahin.” Emrys let the fire dwindle in his hands.
“You were mine until she came along,” the bitch hissed. She struggled against the grip holding her in the air, reaching behind her with claws out. “Put. Me. Down.”
“No.” Bowen sounded gleeful. He was probably the only one in the room that sounded happy. He looked at Kai over Aggie’s shoulder. “Anatoliy called me. He said he thought Agatha might try to do something.” The skinny boy, no longer looking so skinny or so scared, gave his former Keeper a shake. “And I figured I kind of owed you, so I stopped by.” He turned to look over his captive’s other shoulder at Emrys. “She can’t stand being out of control.”
“She seems to be turning red.” Shahin’s voice was very calm. Kai wondered how she wasn’t giggling; if her stomach wasn’t cramping up, she’d have been laughing.
“She’s going to claw you.” Emrys’ voice was almost an exact echo of his wife’s tone.
“I have a lot of practice avoiding her claws. And now I’m not being ordered to hold still.” He did something complicated that ended up with him holding her up by her wrists instead of her neck. “See?”
Aggie, Kai was interested to note, had fallen still when he grabbed her wrists, and looked frankly terrified. “Emrys…” she squeaked.
“Weren’t you just attacking my wife?”
Mabina cut in before things could get more heated. “I believe we were discussing the matter of Vladimir’s Kept and Taro’s girlfriend, weren’t we?”
Aggie struggled in Bowen’s arms. “Whatever. I’ll fix them. I’ll put them back better than new.”
“As they were will be good enough.” Cassidy looked far more amused than Mabina did. “You’ll do that right now?”
“As soon as he puts me down, yes.” She wriggled again, but Bowen was stronger than he looked. “Which could be any time now.”
“Your promise.” Mabina stepped forward, until she was blocking Kai’s sight of the girl. “I’ll have your promise that you will do as you said.”
“My promise, my promise.” Her voice was getting reedy. “Can you make him put me down?”
“I don’t think anyone can control him now, thanks to you. But I’ll ask nicely. Once you’ve promised.” Bowen’s laugh, low and nasty, underscored her words.
“I…” she paused, and then Bowen laughed again. Kai, unable to watch, reached for Conrad’s hand. Her stomach was still not cooperating. “I promise I will correct what I did to tamper with Alisha and Mea, as soon as Bowen puts me down.”
“And harm them nor tamper with them never more,” Mabina prompted.
“And… stop that! And never tamper with them or harm them again.”
“Very good. See? You can learn.” What else she said was lost in another wave of pain, and Kai’s attention was brought sharply back to her body and its unreasonable rebellion. As the doctor hurried in, she heard, very fantly, the sounds of people leaving, and felt Conrad’s hand pressed against hers.
They’d fixed it. As a second hand took her free hand, she heard Mabina’s lilting voice murmur soothing nothings. Everything was going to be all right.