Monday, February 19, 2001
Cya felt like, if she held herself perfectly straight and perfectly still, nothing would fall off. Otherwise, she was afraid, she was going to shatter into a thousand pieces.
She kissed Dysmas and made the appropriate wiggle as he grabbed her butt with both hands and pulled her in towards him, then headed off to class, not straightening her skirt until she was out of sight. Nobody tried to hit on her; Alexander looked over at her with sad eyes and she pretended she couldn’t see. Save your sadness for someone who needs it.
She sat down in class in front of Howard and next to Zita and gave them both her normal smile. She thought it felt pasted-on, but Howard patted her shoulder and called her darlin’ like nothing was wrong, so maybe she had it right. Leo would be here soon. She could see how his new Keeper…
How his new Keeper…
“Do you like this skirt?” she asked Zita. It was grey wool, pleated, almost a kilt. “I was grocery shopping and I stole a few minutes to go look at clothes.” Dysmas hadn’t noticed. Dysmas had gotten his hands all over it, but he hadn’t noticed.
“It’s very fetching,” Zita agreed. “It goes nicely with that sweater, too.”
“Thank you. I-” She trailed off as Leofric came into the room. He looked – well, he looked more comfortably-dressed, differently collared, absolutely no different otherwise. His expression didn’t look quite right and he was only walking into the classroom, it seemed, because Luke was walking directly behind him.
Zita waved. “Leo. Sit, sit, sit.”
“Hey, man,” Howard added. “How’ve you been?”
Cya forced herself to remember how to speak. “Hey, Leo.” She smiled brightly at him. “It’s been quiet without you.”
No, no that was the wrong thing to say, but Leo barely seemed to notice. He sat down in his normal seat, said something to Zita that Cya didn’t quite follow, and proceeded to talk to them about – well, Cya had no idea.
He was – back? Not exactly. Happy? No. She pressed her spine into the back of her chair and tried to follow along with the conversation, but she kept losing track of things. She didn’t lose track of things, that was ridiculous. But she noticed the way his hair brushed across his forehead and the way his ears were pointed through the hair and the set of his shoulders and –
Howard’s hand landed gently on her shoulder while Leo and Zita were discussing – a monster? Maybe. “Everythin’ all right, darlin?” he murmured.
Cya’s hand lifted to her neck, stopped, trailed towards Leo, stopped. “I’m fine.” She smiled brightly for Howard. “Looking forward to the weekend. I found a new section in the library and I want to explore it. Maybe there’s something in it about…” Her hand lifted and then dropped. She had strange ears now. She’d had them for several days, but the first thing she’d done, the absolutely first thing, was spend three hours in Professor Drake’s office learning to hide them.
Howard was not fooled. “About dyin’ your hair? In’t that just a tlactl Working? If you can’t do that, someone else can do it.” He gave her a look that entirely belied the dumb act he’d been putting on.
“About Changes,” she murmured as quietly as she could and still hope to have Howard hear her. “Like, you know.” She made the gesture she’d made several times now, hands splayed to either side of her head. “Like my father. Antlers.”
“You didn’t get antlers, did you, darlin? Because I’m pretty sure that you’re a girl, and those are -”
“No, no. Nothing like that.” Dysmas had, once he had been done being irritated at her for having trouble yet again, called her change cute. Adorable. And then he had started making comments about vampire minks.
She did not want to give birth to a vampire mink. And if she was pregnant…
If she was pregnant, Dr. Caitrin had been very, very clear, she could not be fed on nearly as much. Maybe one day in seven. One day in twenty would be far better.
Dysmas did not need to feed every day, the doctor had told her. As if that changed anything. Dysmas did not need to feed every day. Humans did not need to eat every day, and they didn’t need to have sex at all.
As she understood it – as Dysmas had explained to her from time to time, in varying tones depending on his mood and how irritated he was with her at the moment – drinking blood was for Dysmas somewhere between the two – and almost always involved the latter if he had any choice in the matter.
Hearing him say If I have any choice in the matter had been strange and a little uncomfortable. He was Dysmas. He was in charge.
She’d looked at that thought pattern, considered that it was un-helpful, and then stopped thinking about it, because he was in charge. He had absolute control over her life right now, right down to, should he choose, her thoughts, her emotions, her very breathing.
She hadn’t needed many demonstrations of the power he had, and Eriko, damn her awful tainted soul to the deepest reaches of an unforgiving hell, had given her more than enough demonstrations with Leo as her unwitting test dummy.
“Darling?” Howard’s hand brushed over her shoulder. “Come back to earth, darling. You’re floatin’ somewhere in the stratosphere.”
“Hell,” she muttered. She felt her cheeks heating with a blush and sighed. “I was thinking about hell,” she muttered. “Not heaven.”