Chapter 70: Shahin

What kind of debacle had they walked into, Shahin wondered, looking around the infirmary. People lay everywhere, on every flat surface large enough to hold a body. They were so overworked that a student, a Fifth Cohort at that, had been given an impromptu primer on healing by Doug to provide first aid. Shahin had been less than thrilled at having someone no more experience than her poking at her nose, no matter how sweet he was, but she had to admit it did feel better. So that was what Emrys had been talking about with Vi –jasfe tlacatl.

Her musings were cut short, however, as Dr. Caitrin finally returned, marching up to them with a scowl on her face.

“I hope you’re prepared to answer for this.”

Shahin glanced at Emrys, but the doctor was glaring at her, not him. Indignant and a bit off her game, she snapped,

“For what, getting punched in the face?”

“It’ll be attempted murder in my report, if I ever have time to make it. If we’re lucky, he might regain full functionality with extended treatment. A human doctor would’ve had no chance at all to repair the extent of the nerve damage.”

“I’m sorry, what? I didn’t…”

“Your weapon did.”

Ah. Understanding where the doctor was coming from now, she nodded crisply. She’d have to roll with this one as best she could. “Yes. Under extreme provocation, in a situation in which, being unconscious, I was unable to stop him.” She made an apologetic gesture that cut off the Doctor scolding her more, thinking about the way Agatha and Kailani had talked about their Kept. “I understand. He’s mine, he’s my responsibility to keep in check.” And she’d have a word with Agatha about taking care of her Crew when this was over. A very sharp, pointed word. “What can we do to help you?”

“Refraining from making more work for me would be a start,” she said dryly.

“Yes, ma’am. I’ll have a talk with him about being over-exuberant in leaping to my defense. I hate to ask more of you, considering your overtaxed state, but…” she gestured at Emrys’ snapped wrist.

Emrys sighed, extending his arm, but seeming glad not to be part of this conversation at least.

Caitrin echoed his sigh. “You’re lucky I don’t just put you in a cast and let it heal naturally,” she scolded.

“Sorry,” he muttered.

“There is something you could do to help,” the doctor added, as she ran her hands gently down Emrys’ arm. She was clearly talking to Shahin again, so she made an encouraging inquisitive noise.

“Professor VanderLinden’s cy’ree is helping to provide energy to the fallen students, and for the healings. However, without a source of energy themselves, they have a limited capacity.

“A source of energy?” Shahin repeated.

The doctor nodded, and paused to murmur a Working over Emrys’ wrist. “As I understand it,” she continued, “they most easily can draw energy from strong emotions, and, being cy’Linden, prefer sexual emotions.”

She raised an eyebrow, determined not to blush. “They raise energy by having sex?”

“Not necessarily through sex. Simply through strong emotion.”

“They don’t have to participate,” Emrys drawled. “They like to watch.”

She reminded herself that damaging him would just make more effort for Caitrin. “Hush,” she murmured instead. They had – however unfairly or inadvertently – caused the doctor more work when she was already overtaxed. “I’m not sure I’m up to a public show,” she demurred, “but if they just need the emotion…?”

Emrys looked skeptical, but waited for Caitrin’s further explanation.

Caitrin may have had more to say, but it was cut off by a purr, as two slim, smooth, perfect hands slid over Emrys’ chest, and a fall of scarlet hair trailed over one shoulder. “Oh, don’t worry, dear, we don’t need your clothes off. We’ll get a better rush from it if we get to touch… mmm, I could get a wonderful rush if you’d lend him to me for a little while…?”

Shahin caught Emrys’ eye, waiting a heartbeat for his reaction before she responded.

“Would you like that, Emrys?” she asked, wondering what she’d do with the answer.

“Anyone would like that.”

She didn’t react. She was too good for that. “Maybe if I get bored with him,” she told Ivette, smiling, “but not today.”

“Pity,” the redhead pouted. “Well, we can get everything we really need right here… although you’re awfully cold, aren’t you? I can barely taste you. Maybe we should take this into a back room, if you’d prefer... privacy?”

This barely even counted as an audience. “Here is fine.”

“Ooh, this will be fun.” She fingered the collar around Emrys’ throat as she straddled him. “I suppose I can’t really damage him…”

“No,” Shahin answered dryly, “although I understand the… oh, hello.” The most beautiful man she had ever laid eyes on had dropped to his knees before her. His shirt was off, revealing an absolutely perfect chest. Blond curls fell sweetly over his eyes and around the edges of the thin leather collar around his neck. His head was bowed, slim little points of ears just visible through the curls. She wanted to run her hands over that skin. She wanted to dig her nails into him.

She couldn’t damage him, anymore than she’d allow Ivette to hurt Emrys, who, it seemed, was enjoying himself a great deal, as Ivette nuzzled against him in ways that were probably illegal in this state. He’d pay later.

Or now. “May I?” she murmured quietly, and the boy nodded.

“Yes, miss.”

“Oh, aren’t you perfect,” she purred. He was eating her lust, wasn’t he, her desire? And yet it didn’t matter, the sight of him, and the feel of his skin under her hands, was delicious. “You’re rather sweet.”

He smiled, and nuzzled against her thigh, her skirt riding up over her knees. “You could take me in the back room, if you wanted.”

Emrys’s attention was at least momentarily diverted. “Hey, now...”

Joff licked his lips, his hands pushing Shahin’s skirt a bit further. “Well, you’re already occupied, and it’s not nice to leave a lady unoccupied.”

“Don’t push your luck, kid,” Emrys growled.

The boy just smiled, one hand riding at the top of Shahin’s thigh-highs. “My luck? I’m doing exactly what my Master told me to do… and pleasing your Mistress as well.”

And just like that, his perfect blond curls burst into flame.

“Stop,” Shahin snapped out. “Stop it.”

Emrys nodded in acquiescence, and nothing changed. Joff whimpered and beat at his hair while murmuring a Working rapidly.

“Emrys,” Shahin said, her frustration barely kept in check, “put the fire out. Right. Now.”

The flames vanished in an instant, leaving only a puff of smoke in their wake. The boy’s curls were crisped short, the rest of him intact and still gorgeous. Amazingly, he was grinning. “Mmm, anger.” He licked his lips. “Thank you.”

Ivette slipped off of Emrys’ lap with a final pat. “Let me know when he’s too much for you to handle,” she purred. “I’ll break him nice and good.”

Shahin ignored her, simply offering Emrys her hand. He took it, watching her warily.

She didn’t say anything, not yet, just stood, and led him into the hallway. Out there, in a long stretch of empty hallway, she pushed him into a niche and pressed him against the wall.

He didn’t say anything, just waiting to see what she was going to do.

“You almost killed someone,” she said softly. She needed to be calm. She couldn’t deal with him if she was angry.

“I... wasn’t thinking about it,” he replied, glancing downwards.

“Why not?”

“I was just mad.”

She couldn’t help a soft chuckle. “That seems rather unlike you.”

“Yeah, well.” He raised one hand self-consciously to the back of his head, rubbing at it.

“And Joff?”

“Okay he was just asking for it. And I didn’t really hurt him.”

“Should I have done the same to Ivette, then?”

“I gave him plenty of warning. Hell, he was probably actually asking for it, to feed off of.”

It was kind of nice, the jealousy and overreaction, but he was going to get her into trouble if he kept it up. She set a finger on his lips, and thought carefully about what she was going to say. “No more setting people on fire just because they annoy you, or because you’re jealous.” Remembering the way he’d worked out her deal with Phelen, she added, “please ask for clarification if that was unclear.”

He nodded slowly, processing all of that. “Right.”

She smiled sweetly at him. “Plenty of loophole room in there?”

“Lots of it,” he agreed. “But it was clear enough.”

She patted his shoulder. “It would be awfully nice if you didn’t get me into trouble I couldn’t get us out of. And if I end up having to bargain my way out of a mess, I’ll take it out of your hide.”

“Another one, you mean? Because this one is far from over.”

“You lit someone on fire because he knocked me unconscious because Agatha is a bitch. I might ask your help getting out of it, but I’m not going to hold it against you.”

“Right, then. Our defense should be pretty straightforward, I don’t envision a major problem in that regard. In the meantime, think about what you could possibly want from Taro. Technically speaking, we’re the aggrieved party.”

She smiled at him, not just because he was so very useful at the way he jumped on the solid ground of the law. “Kiss me.”

And he did, and the fire burning just beneath the surface ran free as he wrapped his arms around her.


Chapter 70b: Shahin

It was a nice kiss. It was nice, for a moment, to just relax in his heat. But they still had a lot of things to resolve, and they couldn’t resolve them by kissing. Eventually, she had to stop kissing him. “Okay.” She exhaled. “How much of a mess have you gotten me into?”

“Well, that kind of depends on how much they want to push it.”

“Now is not the time for hedging.”

“Well it does. It’s kind of like when a cop stops you for speeding, there could be all kinds of levels of trouble depending on his mood.”

“All right, so we’re on a scale of ‘get off with a warning’ to…?”

“Well, in theory they could expel you. I haven’t seen it actually happen.”

“How many cases of attempted murder have you seen?”

“Not many, but it’s not exactly something they make public if it happens.”

“I begin to understand why Keepers have their Kept on such short leashes,” she said dryly, wondering if she should have been doing so from the very beginning, if doing so now would do any good, either for the trouble she was in or her long-term goals.

“It’s true, as long as you Keep me, you are fully responsible for my actions.”

She smirked at him, wondering how far he’d push that on purpose. “Trying to get out of it already? It’s only Tuesday.”

He laughed. “No, but you wanted to know what was going on.”

“So, we have the extremes. I can’t be too upset about the whole ‘expulsion’ idea. What do you think is more likely.”

“Probably? A slap on the wrist after the circumstances are explained.”

“And to keep this from happening in the future…?”

“Dodging would be good,” he smiled.

Only he, of anyone she had ever met, could make her this frustrated. It had to be a special skill. Her fingers twitched, and she wondered how much she could hurt him without bothering Caitrin again. Later. Once they got back to her room.

“If you were in my situation,” she asked, “what would you do about you?”

“Not an easy answer. I’d have to think about it.”

So would she. “And what did you think I was going to do, when we left the infirmary?’

“I really don’t know.”

“If I don't get a straight answer to something soon, you're going to end up sleeping on the floor for the rest of the week.”

“Then stop asking me to predict your actions or answer hypothetical questions.”

She blinked at him, frowned, and swallowed a sharp retort. “Your round,” she acceded. And then, because he really did have a point, “thank you for-” He hadn’t really been defending her “-what you did, with Taro.”

“You’re welcome,” he nodded. “We should find out what the rest of the aftermath is, too.”

“With your crew?”

“And theirs, really.”

“I doubt their crew wants much to do with us right now – but I’d rather deal with them than Agatha.”

“Aggie’s not all that bad as long as you’re on her side.”

“Yes, but I’m not certain I am.”

“She stood up for you. Well, for all of us, but...”

She looked at him sidelong. “When?”

“While you were down. She pressed our advantage and won the day for our crew.”

“I’m not part of your crew, dear.”

“You were on our side, though.”

“Only accidentally.”

“Does that really matter?”

“She got what she wanted for her crew out of it.” Shahin shrugged. “Do you really want me to get along with her?”

“You don’t have to, just don’t be so quick to assume she’s only looking out for herself.”

She studied him for a moment, and decided it wasn’t worth pressing the point. He clearly saw something in the poisonous little bitch that she didn’t. On the other hand, it might be interesting to see them really interact, with him collared. “All right, let’s go.”

He nodded, taking her hand, and they returned to the suite.


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