Shahin fled the Dining Hall, her pale complexion green around the edges.
Emrys sighed, shaking his head, and turned back to his crew. “See what I mean? Definitely something strange, there.”
Agatha raised an eyebrow. “Defective, you mean.”
“I don’t think so. Might be part of her Change, couldn’t it? I’ve seen stranger abilities.”
“What?” Tolly asked, “the ability to have free will? That’s pretty weird around here, I’ll grant you.”
“Regardless, it’s interesting. I wish I had more time to play with it.”
Tolly frowned at him. “She did just run out of the room sick,” he pointed out, “and you’re worried about playing with her?”
Emrys frowned in return as he stood. “You may have a point. I’m pretty sure no one would touch her, but...”
Agatha shook her head. “You’re crazy, you do know that, right?’
“You’re really going to go through with this week-on, week-off plan?”
“Don’t have much choice, unless she backs out.”
“I still say you’re crazy.”
“Like your mouth’s never gotten you in trouble? Man... I gotta go find her. I’ll see you guys later.”
“Already jumping up to serve her,” Agatha sneered. “It will be good practice for next week.”
“Oh, fuck you. I just don’t want anyone else trying to play with my pet.” As he walked away, though, he thought Agatha’s words might be closer to the truth. He was worried about her, and not just in a possessive way. Had he pushed her too hard this morning? It was his last chance, really, to make her surrender, to get himself out of this. Instead of buckling, she’d manifested this crazy ability to deny him. He was still bound by their deal, she was hurt, and he looked terrible. Hell, -he- was hurt. He was hurt because she was? Really? Fuck.
She wasn’t in the hallway, which was probably a good sign; nor had she left him a trail to follow. He thought he could hear her, though, inside the girls’ bathroom.
Well, at least she was unlikely to get jumped in there, and there wasn’t exactly a back door. He loitered outside, trying not to look quite as creepy as a guy loitering outside the ladies’ room sounded in his head.
She didn’t see him at first when she came out. She was smoothing her skirt, looking more vulnerable and open than he’d ever seen her in public; her cheeks had two spots of angry red color and her eyes looked red and bloodshot.
“Shahin,” he said quietly, unfolding his arms.
She didn’t look at him. She looked somewhere off to one side, as if she couldn’t stand the sight of him. “I’m too tired to fight you right now, Emrys.” She sounded beaten.
“Then you’ll have to either give up, or let me help you,” he said gently, setting a hand on her shoulder.
She didn’t move away from his hand, but neither did she move any closer. “Help me?” she asked, so quietly that he might have been imagining it.
“Yeah. Are you gonna be okay going to class today?”
“God,” she swore softly. “I…” the steel seemed to come back into her spine, and into her voice, although she still wouldn’t look him in the eye. “I suppose after breakfast, I can make it through just about anything.”
“Listen... I’m sorry, Sheen.” He felt as if the words were being wrenched from him, a bit of chagrin managing to creep onto his face.
She looked at him, then, although her expression was one of disbelief and she didn’t say anything, just stared at him with red-rimmed eyes.
“I shouldn’t have pushed you so hard. I’ve just never seen anything like that...” He chuckled shortly. “Hell, there’s never been a girl like you in any other way, why should this be different?”
Her lips curled up, just a little, in something that could be a smile, but her voice was unforgiving. “You Own me. You can do what you want to me.”
“That’s right,” he nodded, putting his arm around her more securely. “And I want to make sure you’re okay and help you feel better.”
She blinked at him, confusion clear on her face. A long, tense heartbeat passed, and another, and then she leaned into his arm just the tiniest bit. “I suppose there are worse prospects,” she relented, finally gracing him with a real smile.
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