Sunday, May 20, 2001
Everyone had noticed what Sheba’s crew was up to. Everyone, even the other cy’Luca – who he’d made some pointed comments at about being showed up by a bunch of girls, gotten into another fight, and been yelled at by Luke over, but it was worth it – had noticed them going around bullying all the shittiest Keepers into letting their Kept go.
Leofric would’ve thought better late than never, except the timing was less important than the one, significant, glaring gap in their rescue train.
No one had come for Cya. All these other rescues and they didn’t even so much as look at Cya.
He knocked – banged, really – on the door to Sheba’s suite, the suite where half his crew was being Kept.
After a moment, just long enough he was considering knocking again, the door swung open and his half-sister looked out. Arnbjörg, he reminded himself, and tried not to snap at her. She wasn’t in charge, it wasn’t her decision.
“I want to talk to your crew.”
“Pick one? All of them? Hi to you, too,” she quipped.
“All of them.” He frowned, not in the mood for the joke. “Whoever’s been making the decisions.”
“Sheba!” Arnbjörg shouted back into the suite over her shoulder. “My brother’s here for you!”
A moment later, Sheba suddenly appeared at the door and it took all his self-control not to jump and run. Stupid teleporting cats.
“Oh, that brother. Come on in, Leo.”
“Stupid doors,” Arnbjörg muttered.
“Stupid whoever makes Kept answer them,” he muttered back, stepping into the suite and turning to Sheba. “You guys’ve been busy.”
Sheba’s ears twitched. “Yeah. No reason not to be.”
Her pose and attitude shifted aggresive; Leofric noted it could easily turn into a fight, if he wasn’t careful. He didn’t feel like being careful. “So why’d you stop?”
“Stop? Lily’s out and Rory wants to say. Abednego’s free and even Abaddon’s out.”
Even Abaddon’s out. The implication that they’d scraped the bottom of the barrel of people to rescue – as if there was no one else! – pushed him from annoyed to pissed off. “What about Cya?”
Sheba’s ear tilted, punctuating her confused expression. “What about her? She’s not going anemic or anorexic the way his last couple Kept did, she’s not pregnant…”
Which all amounted to why would we? She’s fine. He barely managed to stop himself from punching her smug arrogant face in. He wanted an explanation or help; attacking the crew Keeping his crew wasn’t going to do jack shit for Cya. “The fuck does being pregnant mean? Why’s that a reason?”
“Because,” Sheba answered, her voice carefully level, “she’s being Kept by a vampire with not enough self control.”
“Oh he’s got plenty of self control,” Leofric snapped back. “He just doesn’t give a shit.”
“Leo.” Arnbjörg had moved back into the background when the conversation started, but took that moment to jump back in. “She looks fine from the outside. So – uh, this is super hypocritical of me, but calm down? And tell us why she’s not?”
Another time, he might have laughed at Arnbjörg being the one to tell anyone to calm down, but this time he just shot her a glare. “Because that’s not her.”
“Explain,” Sheba demanded.
Leofric hissed through his teeth in frustration. How? How do you explain watching someone disappear? How do you explain watching someone’s Keeper shape them into a soulless doll?
“I mean it’s not her. It’s a pretend Cya Dysmas made on top of the real one.”
“Okay, okay.” Sheba lifted up her hands in an unconvincing surrender. “Here, sit down, talk. We’re listening.”
“What’ve you been doing so far, then?!” Leofric stayed standing; this wasn’t a friendly social call, even if Sheba had decided to try not starting a fight. “What else do you need to know Dysmas is a worthless piece of shit who shouldn’t Keep anyone? How about mind controlling girls into fucking him?”
That finally got her attention; her ears flattened back against her head. “He what now?”
“How do you think he gets enough blood?” Leofric pressed the point, trying not to think about what he was saying, but he couldn’t not see the image – an overlay of dozens of memories of Cya, sitting in the suite alone, dejection turning into nothingness, while Dysmas dragged a parade of dazed-looking girls into his bedroom. “Asking nicely for volunteers? Visiting a blood bank? Ha.” He spat the last word out like he was spitting in Dysmas’ face, which was, at least, a little satisfying.
“Why didn’t you… you did.” The horror on her face shifted to something else he couldn’t read. “Can you… probably can’t get Aviv in here to back that up, can you?”
She thinks I’m lying. “What, a Kept’s word isn’t good enough for you?”
“Look, if I’m–”
“Zita said the same thing,” Arnbjörg interrupted, to Leofric’s surprise. “Bet Howard will, too. Bet he has been, actually, from the beginning. Just because Rand used orders and Dysmas uses – seriously, mind control is seriously a thing? Being fae is bullshit!”
Leofric didn’t really agree, but considering the situation, he sure as hell wasn’t going to argue with her about it. “If that’s still not good enough,” he shot at Sheba, “then fine, I’ll go get Aviv.”
“Please.” Sheba’s tail-tip twitched.
It was about what he expected. With one last snarl in her direction, he turned and left the room. He hadn’t told Aviv where he was going or why, but Aviv was a good Keeper and his ally and hated Dysmas almost as much as he did. He’d tell Sheba the truth, and maybe the stupid catgirl would listen.