Written by Wysteria.
Zita watched her hands making dinner. She had claws now, and she loved them. A lot of the others seemed to be Changing and learning to wear a Mask as soon as possible, but Zita hadn’t. Between the shark-like teeth and the tiny (cute) claws, she felt like someday she’d be a big cat, not the kitten someone had called her on Hell Night.
The past few weeks had been easy, at least until her Change. No one here seemed to expect underclassmen to lie to them, somehow, so she’d figured out what was expected of her fast and she’d done what she needed to do to make people see who she wanted them to see. She had friends (a Crew, and she loved them so much, her Howard and her Leo and her Cya). She had a Keeper, which was far more necessary than a cute purse, and the Director of the school was so hot Zita wanted to die.
It was her Change that was the problem. Before the Change, the simmering anger about the way she’d been Kept had been easy to put away in a saucepan on the back burner, to take out in quiet moments when Eris wasn’t in the room (and Joff definitely wasn’t in the room, the empath sneak). Lately, it came and went like a flash flood, knocking everything over and leaving the room sodden, everything shifted around and messy.
Her hands were still chopping tomatoes. She and Cya had been swapping recipes, since they’d both ended up their Crew’s cooks. It was good that Eris was in the room. Sometimes, Eris seemed like the only thing that was real in this school. The flood never changed how she felt about Eris.
She thought she would have liked Eris very much, if Eris hadn’t tricked her into being a pet. It was a strangely solid relationship, for being built on a foundation of lies. Eris was so easy to hate, and so fun to kiss.
Zita was just putting dinner in the oven when she heard Eris choke on a sob, from the couch, and then begin to laugh. Or was it crying? Zita turned, looked, listened.
It was both. That was so not okay. Eris couldn’t – Eris had to be the center. She had to be, or Zita would fly apart. Rafe and Abe were both there, but neither were doing anything useful.
Eris was crying.
Zita took off her oven mitts and edged around to hover by Eris, blinking.
“Did someone tell a joke?” she asked cautiously.
“Zita,” Rafe said, in a tone Zita couldn’t quite read. He wasn’t important, anyway, when her Keeper was crying.
“Ha. Hehehe…. heh. A joke. One big fucking joke.”
“Not a very funny joke?” Zita asked.
“Heh. N-n-nno, not a very – ha. funny joke.” Her knees went up to her chest and her nails raked lines over her legs that healed as she scratched them.
She glanced up, wiping her eyes with a bloody hand. “Liz – no. Zita.”
Zita blinked at her Keeper.
Oh, hell, Zita thought, blinking as she processed the girl in front of her as something other than the fierce, impossible to deter presence that had shaped her first weeks at school. She’s really not okay. I can’t even be mad at her.
You couldn’t be mad at someone who was crazy for acting crazy. It was just not right, and you didn’t become one of the X-Men by being a bad person.
At least she could still hate Eriko.
Not a kitten, a seeing eye dog. The world settled, anchored. Zita had a job to do.
She went to her knees in front of her Keeper, and took bloody hands in hers, mindful of her own claws, tangling their fingers together.
“That’s right. I’m yours.”
“Not yours.” Eris made a noise in the back of her throat, almost a whine.
Zita lowered her voice, looking at Eris through her eyelashes.
“…you know, dinner will keep. Come to bed? Show me?”
“Show…” She raised her head, looking at Zita. “Yes. Show you.”
Zita glanced from the blood on Eris’ fingers to Eris’ face, and smiled.
“I think if you use those on me, we’ll qualify as kinky.”
That was a joke, too, Zita thought with bleak humor.
Eris chuckled a little shakily. “I wouldn’t mind being a little kinky. Bedroom, then.” Her expression looked a little fevered and her voice shook, but there was a smile on her lips.
Zita thought Rafe and Abe were watching them as Zita slammed the door with her foot, but it didn’t matter. She had a job to do.