Epilogue: Cynara

It didn’t hit her until Howard had left for the plane home.

They all had plane tickets.  Round trip, arranged by their parents back when they came here.

She hadn’t come by airplane.  The closest her father had come to being involved in her coming here was trying to keep her away from this place — something she ought to thank him for at some point.

Some students had headed out to the village area; she wandered out there to see what was going on, only to see Wyatt getting into a car. Continue reading

Epilogue: Abednego

“I’m not going home.”  Abednego lifted his chin up and stared at Luke, daring him to tell him differently.  “I am never going back there.  And if I see Shad or Meesh now, I’m gonna do something I’m not ready to do right.”

“Some students don’t go home,” Luke answered mildly.  “You don’t have to.  But.”

Abednego tensed.  “But, sir?”

“Come with me.” Continue reading

Epilogue: Arnbjörg

Graduation Day, 2001

They’d watched Sheba and Magnolia graduate with all the appropriate fanfare, cheered them loudly and left Howard and Magnolia and Sheba and Zita to say goodbye as they wanted.

In a startling show of empathy, Phelen had wandered off, leaving Arnbjörg and Jaya alone, and they, in turn, had grabbed a blanket and headed out to the meadow.

The sun was bright and warm over them.  The air felt just right, like you could lie out in nothing but skin and be perfectly comfortable.  And Jaya was pressed against her, Mask down and not wearing a whole lot more than skin. Continue reading

Epilogue: Leofric

Graduation Day, 2001

It was over.

All the older students were in graduation right at that moment, so even if any of his crew still Belonged to any of them, it wouldn’t have been for much longer. The back of Leofric’s neck itched, his hair falling back against it where he hadn’t been able to feel it for… since the school year started. His eyes itched, too, in a weird feeling like he wanted to cry, or had been crying, but he couldn’t imagine why. They were free! They could leave.

Somehow he didn’t feel like packing up to leave yet, though, and besides, all his stuff was already packed up from– Continue reading

Chapter 72: Cynara

Tuesday, June 5, 2001

Cya sat quietly in her room, on a cushion on the floor between her two chests, her fingers working slowly on a tiny rainbow sweater without consulting her mind.

It had been two weeks.  She didn’t get faint anymore when she stood up.  Dr. Caitrin said she was nearly recovered.

Nearly recovered.  She hadn’t even known there was anything wrong with her.  Nearly recovered.  And now she struggled against this sick feeling in her stomach every time she thought about Dysmas. Continue reading

Chapter 71: Abednego

Thursday, May 31, 2001

Abed was wandering.

There were parts of the school he hadn’t seen.  There was a whole floor of the school, and all he’d seen of it was the front of the Store.

His room had been exactly as he’d left it on Hell Night.  Rafe, apologetic and twitchy, had helped Abed move what few things he had and cared about back to the room.  

The first thing he’d done was to buy new clothes.  Kilts.  He’d seen the bull-guy in kilts, and he had to admit, they suited his new legs better.  Shirts that didn’t have anything to do with home, weren’t hand-me-downs, didn’t smell like Rafe or like his brothers or like anything except himself. Continue reading

Chapter 70: Arnbjörg

Sunday, May 20, 2001

“So are we gonna do it?”  Arnbjörg was shifting her weight from the balls of her feet to her heels and back again.  “I mean.  I know Leo went a little…” She considered the room and forced a little bit of tact to come out of her mouth. “Well, he was having some trouble with blackouts when he was here?”

Zita looked at her pointedly. “I don’t know. Are you going to do it?” Her tone was too pleasant to be real.

Arnbjörg looked straight back at Zita. “Should we?”

“Eight months ago, sure. Now?” Zita shrugged.

Arnbjörg considered that answer, looked at Zita again, and decided it was a yes.  Continue reading

Chapter 69: Leofric

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.
Continue reading

Chapter 68: Cynara

Monday, May 14, 2001

The air seemed lighter in the suite.

Cya had felt the ghost leave – they all had, she thought.  The thing had sighed out of their lives with a remember and a sort of smug, self-satisfied feeling that it didn’t really seem like she’d earned.

Zita was safe with Sheba and seemed happy.  Howard might not like the collar (what collar? All he had was a flower in his hat) but he and Magnolia were happy together. Leo was – well, Leo was almost Leo again, and he was doing pretty well with Aviv.

All the major problems of the year had been solved.  It looked like even Lily had gotten rescued by an irate Arnbjörg and a very amused Jaya. Cya had seen the aftermath – Rand spewing blood from his nose and sputtering as he was escorted to Dr. Caitrin’s.  It was the sort of satisfying finish that a book ought to have.  Continue reading

Chapter 67: Abednego

Saturday, May 12, 2001

Every time Abednego thought things had settled in to something like normalcy, they shifted again.  He thought he’d stopped getting comfortable with things, just to find that he was dumped on his tail all over again.

Rafe couldn’t settle on what he wanted.  He would pet Abednego for a few minutes, then shift away guiltily, give him an order and then tell him it wasn’t an order.   

Saturdays and Sundays were the worst, and this time Rafe had gone through the cycle five times in less than an hour.  When Abednego found himself wishing for his corner and rules that, if horrible, at least made sense, he sat up straight, shaking off another cycle of petting. Continue reading