Chapter 82: Shahin
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need
I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night
Time had no meaning. Shahin woke, she slept. She shivered in the chill, and clung to the fleeting warmth of... something, it didn’t matter. The creature, perhaps? It did things to her, things that seemed wrong, but it brought her pills. That was all that mattered. She couldn’t keep going without the pills. The world was too sharp without them. He wanted her to be his, but she couldn’t, she wouldn’t. She belonged to the little white bottle, not the hand holding it. The cycle continued.
She awoke, and something was different. There were hands on her; that wasn’t new, though these hands were soft and gentle. And there was a voice… Emrys? It wasn’t quite Emrys’ voice, but she thought it might be calling her name.
The manacle was gone from around her ankle, the lack of drag making her feel like she was floating. No, she was floating, while someone muttered, alternating cursing with Working. What was he doing? She struggled in a sudden moment of panic, but the clouds came back so quickly. She floated, cold and empty.
“Shahin?” That was her name again. “Shahin, can you stand?”
She didn’t think so. She didn’t think she could even sit up anymore. Sitting up made her head too strange. “No?” No was the right answer. No was the answer that got her more pills.
“Shit. I need you to try, just for a minute, okay?”
“Okay?” She echoed. The edges of the world were getting sharp again; the floor hurt her feet and ankles as he set her down. If she thought really hard, she could stand up.
“Jasfe intinn Shahin cy’Pelletier,” he murmured. “Come on, little black mage, I need you awake and on your feet for a few minutes, hurry… Jasfe tlacatl Emrys…”
“cy’Drake,” she murmured. If he was healing Emrys, then maybe, maybe things could be okay.
“cy’Drake,” he picked up without missing a beat. On the floor, the chains gone but the horrid collar still around his neck, Emrys slowly opened his red and red-rimmed eyes.
“Sheen,” he gasped weakly
“Emrys,” she moaned, and stumbled towards him.
“We have to hurry,” their rescuer… Ambrus, it was Ambrus, Emrys’ father… repeated. “Come on, we’ve got to get out of here before it gets back. Move!”
Getting back before the monster got back sounded like a really good idea. Although… didn’t he have the pills? Caitrin had more pills. Ambrus would get them to Caitrin. Caitrin could heal Emrys, and give her more pills. She was already moving, stumbling over her own feet but moving nonetheless, reaching out for Emrys with every step. Then he was holding her hand, although Ambrus’s hands on each of their backs probably had more to do with their continued locomotion.
He got them in the back of an expensive-looking car, though the two of them barely fit together back there. Shahin didn’t mind too much; it pressed her up against Emrys. It was heaven just to be touching him again; as long as she avoided all the bloody-looking places – which was most of him, it seemed.
“Hold on, kids, it’s going to be bumpy for a bit.”
It was something beyond bumpy, every bone and muscle in her body screaming out in protest, but she gritted her teeth – she seemed to have less teeth than she should, but she’d worry about that later – found an un-bloody part of Emrys to cling to, and tried not to whimper.
“It’ll be okay,” he croaked out, sounding worse than she felt. His neck looked so naked without her collar around it. Stifling a sob, she reached out and touched him, tracing where her hair had lain. Had she done the right thing? She hadn’t given in to the creature, and now they were both alive… unless this was another dream. She didn’t quite suppress the sob that came at that thought.
“It’s all messed up now,” she whimpered. “I screwed up pretty awfully, didn’t I? Nothing’s ever going to be the same again.”
“It’ll be okay.” He smiled wryly, the expression looking like it hurt a little. “And I’m still yours for the rest of the week, right?”
Had she imagined that, too? Her memories were fuzzy and indistinct, and she wasn’t sure if she could trust them anymore. “Yes,” she agreed. That was safe, with him, wasn’t it? “You’re still mine.”
The tiny backseat went cold and then hot in a small rush of wind. He smiled faintly and slumped against her.
“Maybe it wasn’t a dream,” she murmured. She felt clearer than she had since coming to the cabin, but the clarity came with sharp, chilly pain. “Are there more pills?” she asked weakly.
“No more pills for a little while.” The man in the front seat – Ambrus, it was Ambrus, but somehow she’d pictured him sounding younger, weaker. “We need to get you back to the school and let Caitrin take care of you. Then she can give you pills if you need them.”
“Okay.” She leaned back against Emrys. “I didn’t take very good care of him,” she said ruefully.
“That’s two of us,” he replied quietly. She wasn’t sure she’d actually heard him; things were still more than a little hazy. The world outside the car was moving awfully fast, too, but that at least made sense, right? He was in a hurry.
“You rescued us.” She was beginning to believe this was actually real.
“I did.” He sounded a little surprised about that himself. “They just kept talking, and arguing, and planning, and he’s my son.” He glanced very briefly back in the rear-view mirror. Yes, his eyes were brown and not the red of Emrys’, but she could see the similarities. “I had to.”
“Thank you. I’m not sure…” It galled her to admit it. She had always been so very strong. “I don’t know how much longer I could have lasted. I’m not sure how long I did last.” She looked over at Emrys. “I… that thing hurt him when I disobeyed. And then it hurt him just to hurt him, I think.” She ran her fingers through Emrys’ hair, hoping she wasn’t hurting him. “Are we really safe now?”
“You’re free from that creature, and I’m going to take you back to Addergoole. Dr. Caitrin will be able to heal everything.” His voice was soothing, and calm, and… she giggled softly. Giggling wasn’t too painful.
“Yes?” he asked her, smiling at her in the rear-view. Their smiles were different. Ambrus’ was more contained, Emrys almost an attack. But…
“I can see where he gets it from.” Emrys hated this man, so she felt a little disloyal in being friendly. But he had just rescued them.
“Gets what?” It was painful how quickly the smile shut down. She hoped Emrys never looked that bruised and cautious. She phrased her answer lightly, hoping to bring the smile back.
“The well-turned phrasing. The answering without answering.”
“Ah.” The smile that returned was sad. “I was hoping you wouldn’t notice that.”
“He’s rubbing off on me.”
“Yeah?” His shoulder twitched in an abortive shrug. “I’m glad he got something from me, and not just my eyes and my tattoos.”
It was a strange thing to say, as if they were strangers. Were they? “You two don’t get along well?” As long as she kept talking, she wouldn’t have to think too much about what had happened. She wouldn’t have to think too hard about being naked in the back seat of a car with her blood-smeared lover.
“No.” No what? For a moment, all she could think of was their lopsided captor, forcing pills down her throat. She could use another pill. Her wrists hurt, and her ankles, and…
“His mother hated me for not leaving Regine for her.”
“She didn’t understand?”
“I don’t think she wanted to understand. It was easier just to be angry.” He chuckled ruefully. “I guess that’s where he got that from.”
Thinking about Taro flambé, she winced softly. “Yeah. He can be a little,” she coughed, “hot-headed on occasion.” She touched the wooden contraption around his neck, realizing she was wearing one as well. “This is what’s making everything so blurry, isn’t it? And why he didn’t burn the place down?”
“Blurry?” He hesitated for a moment. “What’s your innate… ah. You’re the precognitive, right?”
“I wouldn’t have put it that way, but yes.”
“Then it makes sense that it’s blurring your vision. They’ll get those things off you as soon as we get to the school. I was in a bit of a hurry to get out of there.”
“I understand.” The precognitive. “You know a lot about us, don’t you?”
He chuckled. “Being the Director’s… lapdog does have some advantages.”
Lapdog. He said it like he’d heard the epithet before; she wondered how many times Emrys had hurled it at him. But…
“You’re not wearing a collar.”
“Ah, no.” He touched his neck uncomfortably. “I didn’t exactly ask before I came here.”
“Aah.” She settled back into her seat, becoming conscious of how much everything hurt. “I don’t feel very well,” she admitted, startled at her own weakness. “Could I have another pill?”
“There aren’t any pills here,” he answered gently, “but I could help you sleep, if you wanted. It might make the drive easier.”
“Sleep.” Sleep was like the cloud-place; things didn’t hurt so much when she was asleep. And with the collar on, she wouldn’t even dream. “Sleep would be nice.”
“All right then.” He touched her knee gently and murmured a few words. “Sleep well, Shahin, little black mage,” he murmured. She was lost to the cloud-place before she could wonder what he’d meant.
Copyright © 2009-2011 Lyn Thorne-Alder with Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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