Addergoole
Chapter 77: Kailani
I don't mean to be demanding
But I want some understanding

“Idu kaana,” Kai murmured, as the air started getting thin.

“Air?” Tolly asked, his voice sounding shaky. And no wonder; the air was all wrong. What had Jamian been thinking? What was the Word he’d been using? It had sounded like “repair;” “repair” and a Word Kai had never heard.

One thing at a time. The air in the room wasn’t a breathable mix right now; there was too much carbon dioxide, and no oxygen. She couldn’t transmute the CO2 into O2, but maybe she could shove the excess CO2 into a corner by making some more oxygen?

She had to work quickly; she was getting woozy herself.

“Meentik kaana… oxygen,” she chanted, wishing she knew the ancient Greek for oxygen but in too much of a hurry to fret over it, “Meentik kaana,” over and over again, fighting for air, until she was no longer gasping.

Everyone else was having similar difficulties, and most of them clearly had no mastery of air. Anatoliy seemed a bit less affected, perhaps because of his size, and began chanting as well once he saw what Kailani was doing. “Aposyntheto kaana,” he intoned. The air began to sparkle faintly around his head, iridescent motes falling like glitter.

“Good idea,” she smiled, for a moment forgetting the mess they were in. She let him keep working and turned to Conrad, checking his pulse and breathing before moving on to her hosts – first Shiva, then Nikita. She paused as she went to shake the boy, though, noticing the collar-like-necklace around his neck.

“It’s all right,” Shiva nodded reassuringly. “I’ll go check on Mags and Anwell, you can get him and Ty.”

Confused but reassured, she shook him awake, and, since he was looking rather woozy and sick, created a little pocket of pure oxygen for him to breathe. He smiled uncertainly at her, but with none of the beaten, broken look she’d seen in Bowen. “Thanks.”

That left Ty, the handsome blonde. And Jamian, but Shiva hadn’t mentioned him. So Ty first. She went through the same routine, giving him a pocket of O2, then sat back on her heels, looking at the slowly-recovering room.

Jamian was conscious now, rubbing his head ruefully, so it seemed like a good time to ask. “What…” she began, but Shiva beat her to it.

“What in hell was that, Jame?”

Jamian looked flustered and nervous. “I don’t know! I was just trying to…” he glanced at Kai uncertainly, and trailed off.

“What?” she asked, trying not to snap.

“You were upset,” he mumbled uncomfortably; “everything was a mess. I was just trying to fix it.” He bit his lip uncomfortably.

“That’s nothing invasive about that,” Ty pointed out quickly. “Jame’ was just trying to help.”

“‘Hugr’ is emotion,” Kai argued. “The thing you said, ‘frodleikr,’” the word grated on her tongue, but she forced it out. “That’s not … that’s not even a Word.” She looked around, nervously. “It’s not!”

“No, it’s not.” Shiva looked, Kai was pretty sure, thoughtful.

“Who cares?” Magnolia demanded. “What in hell happened, that’s the important part. Ty?”

Ty shook his head. “I don’t know, Mags. Jame’, you’re sure that you were just trying to fix emotions? I can’t think of anything that would be ‘repaired’ that would lead to… whatever happened.”

“Too much carbon dioxide, no oxygen,” Kai offered helpfully.

“Yeah, that’s not a ‘repair’ of anything,” Conrad frowned.

“Maybe we…” Kai bit her lip. “Is there a useful adult here?’

Shiva chuckled. “We were just talking about that, actually. Useful Mentors, and the lack therof.”

Kai could figure out pretty easily where that had come from. She blushed slightly. “So, um… who’s useful then? For something like this?”

“Probably no-one, at this time of night,” Shiva pointed out. Glancing at a clock, Kai blanched. She’d come knocking on the door at nearly midnight.

“Oh, god, I’m sorry! I didn’t realize it was so late!”

“It’s okay, it’s okay. But you’re going to have to give me a day or two to think over this one, okay? It’s not easy.”

“Okay. I’m sorry,” she repeated. She reached blindly for Conrad’s hand.

His hand found hers, wrapping around it and squeezing gently. “It’s okay, Kaia. Let’s go home.”

“When we find out what’s going on,” Jamian offered, “we’ll tell you. I’m sorry about um, almost suffocating you.”

“It’s okay.” It really was, oddly enough. “Accidents can happen, and we caught it quickly.” She smiled shyly at him, looking around the pod. “I should have come here and not to the Thorne girls for advice,” she murmured to Conrad.

“Well, it’s a bit late now. But no sense crying over spilled milk.”

She squeezed his hand. “I’ll listen to you next time.”

~~

She hadn’t thought she’d sleep at all, after what happened, but, safe in Conrad’s arms, she managed to doze. When she woke, it was to soft conversation in the suite’s living room. It didn’t seem urgent, and a glance at the clock told her it was still very early, so she dozed for a little longer. As long as she lay here, she could pretend nothing was wrong.

That wasn’t a productive way to get through life, though, and she was still curious about Jamian’s “frodleikr” accident, so she pulled herself out of bed, kissed Conrad’s sleeping forehead, and dressed for the day.

She stepped out into the living room, frowned, and nearly fled back into the bedroom. Sitting in the living room, nestled under an afghan like she belonged there, was the girl that had caused all the trouble the other day – Mea. ‘Lisha was perched on the coffee table in front of her, offering her a cup of steaming cocoa, ‘Lisha, who was never nice to anyone.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, not even bothering to worry about how rude she sounded. Mabina wasn’t awake to yell at her.

“Taro brought her here.” ‘Lisha sounded different today, but Kai wasn’t sure quite how or why. “She says she saved his life.”

“Oh.” She sat heavily in the remaining armchair, staring at the wan-looking Mea, who didn’t look nearly as threatening, wrapped in a blanket and sipping cocoa, trying to figure out how she felt about that.

“Sorry,” she smiled faintly at Kailani.

“What?” Kai blinked at her. “No, saving Taro’s life is good. He didn’t … oh, the monster.” She put her face in her hands. “Oh, god, the monster?”

“I don’t know. He was encased in a block of ice, in the hall.”

“Where did he go?” Ice? Well, ice probably meant he hadn’t started another fight with Emrys, at least.

“To find Regine, I think. Freeing him took a lot out of me. I kind of crashed.”

“I was waiting for someone to wake up, so I could go find her crew and let them know she was here,” ‘Lisha murmured. Kai blinked, but put it together quickly enough.

“Oh, because you couldn’t let them in?” That sounded rude, she realized. “Sorry. Um, are you sure it’s safe out there?”

“I’ll be fine,” she said, holding her chin higher with a bit of pride. “No-one wants to mess with my Vlad.”

Kai watched her leave ruefully. She could wake up Conrad, but that didn’t seem like a good idea either, not with Mea here. “So…” she began lamely.

“So,” Mea echoed, and sipped her cocoa.

“Thank you for saving Taro.” It only seemed polite to repeat it. “But I’d rather you not…” what was the term? Flirt? Flirt sounded safe “..flirt with Conrad anymore, please.”

She made a moue. “I like Conrad.”

“Me, too,” she agreed. Could she be honest with this girl? She’d saved Taro, she couldn’t be all bad. “And he’s…” she blushed, and bulled on forward. “He was my first. And I don’t want to share him.”

“Oh, honey, that’s alright.” She smiled, just a little, in that just-between-us-girls way. “My first was Rozen.”

She shuddered, thinking of the way he’d grabbed her, the things he’d said he’d do to her. “Oh…. Oh.”

“So, I understand,” she nods. “But you weren’t Conrad’s first, you know. It’s not like you’re not sharing him already, in that way.”

She frowned, getting angry all over again. “I know.” Well, she hadn’t asked him right out, but she’d assumed. “But he’s mine now. And I prefer it that way.”

“Well, that’s fine, but you don’t have to be so grumpy about it.”

“Well, you didn’t have to drape yourself over him, either,” she snapped. “Isn’t that what the collar is supposed to tell you? Keep off?”

“I wasn’t hurting him,” she protested.

Kai glowered at her. “Apparently, around here, helping someone’s Kept to the infirmary can be too much touching.” She caught her breath. This woman had saved Taro’s life. She shouldn’t be yelling at her. But how could she get it through her head?

She put her hands up. “Hey, if you’re not friendly, I understand.”

She took another long, deep breath. “I’m sorry. I’m trying to be friendly.”

“But you don’t want anyone else touching your things?” Her tone sounded like she was trying to understand.

“Why would I?” she frowned. Then, realizing what Mea meant, she frowned even deeper. “He isn’t a thing! I just... I don’t want anything to happen to him that he doesn’t want.” Without meaning to, she curled her knees to her chest.

“Well, neither do I. But I wouldn’t deny him what he does want.”

“And neither would I,” she answered, very quietly.

Conrad finally emerged from the room, headed for the kitchen, but paused when he saw their guest. “Well good morning.”

“Good morning,” Kai sniffled, struggling with a surge of self-doubt.

“Hey, hey,” Conrad said quickly, turning to stand beside Kai. “What’s wrong?” He glanced over at Mea, who just smiled at them and sipped her cocoa, still looking a bit shaky.

She leaned against him, grateful for his presence, and tried not to be shrill. “Mea and I were talking about...” well, about what? “About you.”

“Yeah?” He set a gentle hand on her shoulder. “What about me?”

Well, if he was upset by it, she could always backpedal. “I asked her not to flirt with you anymore.”

“Oh.” He nodded slowly. “That’s probably for the best.”

“I thought so,” she agreed nervously, “but Mea thinks I’m being unfair to you?”

He chuckled, ruffling her hair, and glanced over at Mea as he spoke. “Mea believes in more... open relationships, am I right?”

Mea just nodded, looking a bit bemused.

“Oh.” Kai nodded slowly. “I…” Could she say she didn’t, considering what she’d just done? She just hugged him, hoping he’d understand.

He hugged her back tightly. “It’s okay, Kaia. You’re the only girl for me.”

She snuggled close, relieved he still wanted her. “Thank you.”

His answer was cut off by the suite door swinging open. ‘Lisha slipped in, frowning curiously at the situation. “I found Mea’s crew.”

“Thank you,” Mea said quietly.

Kai looked up, to see the horse-faced Smitty standing impatiently in the doorway. “Come in,” she called. She looked back at Mea. “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand. I’m pretty bad at that sort of thing.”

“It’s okay,” she shrugged, looking away slightly. “I don’t expect you to understand.”

“I’d like to, though.” She really did. “And you saved Taro’s life. That’s important.” Even if he was an obnoxious pain. “Could we…” she hesitated, glancing at Conrad, not sure how to say what she wanted to without making more trouble.

“Could you what?” She tilted her head quizzically as she stood to approach Smitty, keeping the blanket wrapped around her.

“Could we talk sometime?” That ought to be safe enough.

“Sure,” she smiled. “Just come on over.”

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