Friday, April 13, 2001
Arnbjörg had just finished running laps of the gym, after a session with the heavy bag and enough weights that her shoulders and back had that happy ache to them. For once, she was enjoying walking through the halls unbothered.
“No! No, I’m not going to… let go of me!” A flash of lightning ripped through the hallway; the lights flickered and burnt out, leaving only the dim “Hell Night” red emergency lights.
Arnbjörg reached for a weapon she didn’t have anymore.
“I think you should leave him alone.” The lights flickered but did not turn back on, as a second voice chimed in, similar to the first one and both familiar…
They were her half-brothers, Arnbjörg realized. Ragnvaldr and Leofric.
“She might seem nice now, but she’s not stable, and it’s not a healthy situation.” The new, third speaker released his quarry, however, and stepped back until he was silhouetted against one of the red lights. “Rory, I’m just saying…”
“Do you think I don’t know all that?” Ragnvaldr countered as Leofric stepped between him and their assaulter. “What’s more, do you think it matters? Really? Of course she’s unstable. Wouldn’t you be, after what she went through?”
“I’m just trying to help…”
“Don’t.” This time, the two boys standing there spoke at the same time. Leofric, silhouetted against the red lights, looked more like what Arnbjörg saw in a mirror than he did like Rory. He still felt like family in that moment.
She chimed in, right on their heels. “I’d listen to what they said.”
The upperclassman sighed. “I don’t want to see anyone get hurt.”
“Maybe you ought to back off, then.”
“Backing off… but I’d fix those lights before Luke gets here.” With a much-put-upon sound, the upperclassman – she still didn’t know who he was – took his leave. If the Aelfgar-get wanted to stay in bad situations, his shoulders seemed to be saying, he wasn’t going to take on a whole family of electrical madmen to help them.
Rory muttered up a light and stared at the two other Sixth Cohorts. “Thanks. Now, um…”
“Um, indeed.” Arnbjörg looked up at the lights overhead and muttered a Working. “I think you just blew a fuse.”
“It could be a lot worse…” she glanced at the third of them, their half-brother. Leofric was looking up at the light fixtures, grinning. “Right. So, if it’s a fuse, we just need to Idu our way to a fuse box and hope we beat Luke there.”
“It’s—” Leofric started.
“Too late.” On the plus side, at least the gym teacher sounded amused.
The lights wound up not being as hard to fix as she’d expected — and Luke had sent them on before they were really all done. Now she was finally back in the suite and in the shower — and she had time to think.
She liked it better when she was dodging punches, then her mind didn’t wander off places she didn’t want it to.
Like don’t go around like the world is so fucking bad. You’ve got it easy.
Or your girlfriend is a Daeva. Think about that. Before you seriously hurt her.
Or the look on Jaya’s face, sometimes, when she didn’t think Arna was looking.
She toweled off and went into the room, still in towels. It wasn’t like any of the men in this suite were going to give her trouble, after all. Howard was an actual, honest-to-goodness gentleman. Phelen had a very strong sense of self-preservation. Nikita… Nikita didn’t have the spine.
She thought about what she was doing and then, very carefully, she knelt by Jaya’s chair.
“Two things,” she said, her head bowed, her hair dripping all over the place.
Jaya looked at her. She could see her knees move until they were pointed in her direction. She could hear her breathing start to speed up. “Yes?”
“First… Can you give me a baby? Maybe not this year, maybe next year, but can you? Will you?”
“…What? Arna, please, get up, come on, up here. Please? You want – you want a baby from me?”
Jaya was stammering. Arna got up and sat down on the bed, as close to Jaya as she could.
“I want a baby from you. I – I don’t want a baby from anyone else? And I neew two babies to graduate, and I love you, and I know you have two kids already, but, maybe-”
“Yes.” Jaya scooted her chair until her knees were touching Arnbjörg’s and brushed her hand over Arnbjörg’s cheek. “Yes, I will. If you said that again.”
“Say- oh.” Arnbjörg knew she was blushing. She looked away and smiled. “I love you. And I want a baby from you.”
“Then yes. Next year. And, if you ask very nicely, I might carry the baby, too.”
“Seriously? No, Jaya, you said you had a baby last year, you can’t-”
“-I am not a fighter,” Jaya pointed out. “You are.”
“We can argue about that later.” Arnbjörg didn’t want to argue. She wanted to say “Yes, yes, please, of course!” But she didn’t think that was all that fair to Jaya.
“You said there were two things?” Maybe Jaya thought if they ignored it, Arnbjörg would just never get around to picking the argument back up.
Of course, she didn’t really want to talk about this, either. She swallowed. “I- I’d like to know more about you being a Daeva. And- oh, I guess there were three things. Sorry.” This could only be more awkward if Jaya turned into a boy right now.
Jaya turned into a boy. Right there.
“Ah. Yes. And… I think I want to do more to help people, like you were talking about.” She hurried through that. “But first, ah, yeah?”
“You can’t look at me when I’m like this, can you?”
“What?” Arnbjörg was squeaking. Ack. “I mean,” she lowered her voice, “what?”
“It makes you uncomfortable?”
She glanced over at Jay- at Jamian. “I’m not sure what to think about you being a guy sometimes.”
“I was – well, I acted like, at least – a guy for most of my life until I came here. But I like being a girl for you.” She shifted back into her female form. “But that’s the thing. The more time I spend switching, the more it’s like, I don’t know, picking a pair of shoes. Most guys only have one pair. Now I have two. Well, three.”
“Three?” Now she knew she was squeaking.
“Three. But I can show you that later, if you still want. Uh. So two landmines and one totally unsurprising thing, hrnh?” Jaya looked at her. “I really, really want to just kiss you and, uh…”
Arnbjörg smiled slowly. “I’d like it if you’d, uh, too.” She dropped her towel on the bed.
“Then maybe we’ll talk about saving people, uh, in a little bit.”