Abaddon woke up to find his room ruined.
His room, or at least the room he’d been assigned when he started the year. Before – before Gennie.
Gennie who would not release him and not speak to him. Gennie who had spent a week after he told her about the – about the problem – about their father – locked in her room, not coming out for anything, not even Luke.
There was nothing left intact in the room. This was the third time this week he’d woken up to this, but this had to be the worst. Abaddon sighed and started the Jasfe Workings. At this rate, he was going to be a top-notch furniture and clothing repair specialist before his first year ended.
I’m just going to break it again, snarled the Other, and again, and again, until she stops this bullshit. She has to stop this nonsense..
“She’s scared.” He no longer even thought it was strange that he was talking to himself. He barely thought it was weird when his self talked back.
She’s hurting us. Enemy.
“She can’t be our enemy, she’s our Keepe-” he fell quiet as the door swung open. “Gennie?”
Anyone could walk in here, of course. But it was Gennie, looking tired, haggard, miserable. “Genevieve?” He took a step forward, before he remember that he wasn’t allowed to touch her. You’re my brother, she’d snarled. I don’t want to touch you ever again.
“Find someone to take this incest-born monster out of me and carry it. Find someone to mother this damn creature for you, because I can’t. Find someone quick, Abaddon, and I might not jump off the roof.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He was pretty sure she couldn’t jump off the roof, but he didn’t want to risk it. Not with the whispers running around the place: Someone killed their Keeper? How? When? Why – you really have to ask why?
A week, two weeks ago, Abaddon would have had to ask why. Now he didn’t.
Gennie stared at him for a moment, as if waiting for him to say something. He didn’t have anything to say to her. He waited for her to leave.
“Soon,” she repeated, in a snarl that sounded more nauseous than angry.
“Yes, ma’am,” he repeated. She was between him and the doorway. She had to know that, right? He couldn’t leave without going through her, and he couldn’t go through her without touching her.
Throw a desk at her offered the Other, but without the Other out, he was pretty sure he wasn’t strong enough for that, and the Other, who was strong enough for anything, wasn’t allowed out around Gennie.
“This — this makes me sick. My own brother.” She paced back and forth in front of the door. “How could you? How could we?”
Abaddon swallowed and looked away. “We didn’t know.” They’d had this conversation before. “I’ll find a surrogate. I just have — I have to leave?” He gestured at the door behind her.
“What? Oh, fine. Here.” She stepped out of the way. “Soon. I might just figure out how to take it out on my own, otherwise.”
He wished she’d stop threatening him. He wished she’d stop yelling at him. He wished— he left the room and fled to Dr. Caitrin’s office
Dr. Caitrin frowned at him. “A surrogate? I — hrrm. You might ask Zita. Zita is serving as a surrogate for — well, for someone, this year, and she might know someone else who’d be willing.”
Zita. Zita was — the Other provided a mental image made up mostly of teeth, tiny and sharp. The Other approved of her. “She’s Kept by Sheba now,” Dr. Caitrin offered.
So to Zita it was, without stopping for anything, the press of Gennie’s orders leaning heavily on him.
She talked to him out in the hall, which seemed both horribly exposed and a lot more private than Sheba’s suite common room. Faced with talking to another student about this problem, Abaddon was suddenly shy.
“Dr. Catirin said,” he tried, “um. Um, she said, I need a surrogate and she said—” He took a breath and cleared his throat. “Gennie needs a surrogate? You might know someone.” His collar felt like it was going to choke him.
She tilted her head at him, looking more like a lizard he remembered seeing once, in a pet shop, than anything human. The Other rumbled in approval. She twisted her lips. “I might. Are you okay?”
That was such not a question he could answer. “Gennie — uh. She really wants a surrogate. Now.” He yanked on his collar, wishing for a moment that he could rip it off. His spikes were pushing outwards, the Other stretching inside him. It made his head ache.
“Tsk.” Zita — well, she didn’t look sympathetic. Thoughtful, maybe. “Well, if you need it now, you can cheat.”
“Cheat?” There were too many things that could mean, and he didn’t like any of them. He didn’t want to screw someone else just because he was screwed.
Screw them all. She said NOW.
“My Crew, Cya, can Find someone for you. You’ll ower her a favor, later, but she’ll be reasonable. Did you know you’re very handsome when you do that?”
“Do — Do what?” No, that wasn’t important. Favors, Crew? Weren’t they all first-years? “Cya — she’s the one Kept by Dysmas, right? Red hair.” Gorgeous. Everyone here was gorgeous.
“The cy’Drake, yes. You’re glowing.”
“Oh.” Tone it down, wouldja? He cleared his throat and shifted uncomfortably. “That’s Him.” He must be really off his game if he was being that casual about the Other. “This Cya. How do I — she’s Kept. How do I ask her without—” he didn’t want to get Keepers involved. That would get Gennie involved. Gennie didn’t want to be involved. “-without her Keeper—”
“Between classes.” The schedule Zita recited seemed far too precise, far too orderly, to have been thought up for him. Of course. If they were Crew, and Kept, they’d have to — it made his head spin.
He needed to get a surrogate for Genny. None of the rest mattered.
The Other took over and repeated the times back to Zita. “Got it. Thank you.” Abaddon was back in control again “If this works I owe you one, too.”
That wasn’t how it was supposed to work. He was Kept. He wasn’t supposed to be raking up owed.
But, it seemed, this was how it was going to work.