Interlude: The Kept
Kendra sat in the corner of Ofir’s room, quietly, so quietly, watching him have fun with his friends. Rowan, Wyatt, and Aneislis were over, and Rand, and Rafe with Renata; they were drinking beer, playing video games and gossiping about the rest of the school.
She was supposed to be at a cy’ree meeting, but Ofir had ordered her, early on, not to leave the room without asking permission first, save for classes. She would have asked permission, but he’d been annoyed with her at dinner (She hadn’t been trying to make him look stupid; it wasn’t her fault he didn’t know the answer, but no, it was her fault, wasn’t it? It had to be someone’s fault, and it couldn’t be Ofir’s). He’d ordered her into silence, and hadn’t bothered to rescind it. With her luck, he’d probably forgotten by now.
If he didn’t remember by breakfast tomorrow, she’d write him a note. He really wasn’t all that bad to her, and he always made sure she could function in class. She had a feeling he would order her to study, if it wasn’t that she studied so much on her own.
Aneislis wandered her way with a soda. “Everything okay?” he murmured softly, under the conversation, which had turned loudly to sports. She glanced over at Ofir, but he seemed to accept that Annie, skinny and non-aggressive and so very clear about being gay, wasn’t a threat; he was ignoring them. Still, how could she answer that?
She made a so-so gesture; Annie grimaced, seeming to understand.
“That sucks. Want me to say something to him?”
Annie could probably get away with it. But it was always a “maybe,” and Ofir was no fun angry. She shook her head. She didn’t really mind being quiet.
Agatha was in a mood again. She’d been acting strange for the last week, since the mess with Kailani, which had somehow (he wasn’t very clear on the details) involved Bowen. Tolly had been yelling at her, and left, and then she’d done that thing where she cuddled Bowen until she fell asleep.
He didn’t mind the cuddling; the physical contact was nice in a way he hadn’t expected. But when she was like that, she would get angry if he moved, and get angry if he talked, and god forbid she fell asleep and he managed to roll away from her in his sleep. He’d gotten three new bruises from Tolly’s sudden crises of conscience, and the pretty redhead wouldn’t look at him in class anymore.
And today, she was raging. She wouldn’t rage around Tolly anymore, or even around Dysmas, so she’d dragged Bowen into her room, muttering to herself about upstarts and challenges and nerve.
Bowen didn’t know what was going on. He didn’t want to, really; when he knew things, they ended up getting him hurt. More hurt, he corrected, as Aggie threw him to the bed. She was almost a foot shorter than he was, but he’d learned very quickly not to fight back. He flopped onto the bed, looking up at his Owner, at the way her hair bounced in perfect curls, not thinking about what happened next. If he thought, he’d cringe. Aggie didn’t like it when he cringed. Her curls bounced more as she straddled him, and then she was grabbing his hair with both of her hands, pulling him towards her. He didn’t make a noise. He wished she’d order him quiet; it would be easier than remembering.
“I don’t want you talking to any Fifth Cohorts,” she snarled, “at all.”
Uberto and Aviv really enjoyed the grotto. Secretly, Shera thought a large part of their reason had to do with the absence of Ardell and Delaney in said grotto; the rest of their interest was clearly the plants that grew in the back of the garden, interesting plants with mind-altering fruits and smoke-able leaves.
Shera liked the grotto, too; it was warm, and in the skimpy clothes Uber liked her in, she could really appreciate the warmth. She was growing to like the content, addled feelings the purple berries gave her, too, that made it easier not to question things, and Uber himself was easier to deal with when he was a little bit stoned.
On top of all that, when they were in the grotto, sometimes, like tonight, they’d bring their guitars and play. Her goldfish boyfriend might not be much to look at, and Aviv, well, under the Mask, who knew? Put guitars in their hands, though, and they turned into rock angels.
Uber found her a place to sit, just off the path with her back against something that pretended to be a tree, and handed her a measured handful of the purple berries. “If you want more, ask me. Don’t go get them on your own.”
“Yessir,” she grumbled, but she took the berries he offered. “Thank you.”
“It’s not safe off the path,” he told her. Since he was rarely in the mood to explain, she thanked him again, this time a bit more sincerely.
The berries popped in her mouth, the juice like sweet red wine, washing over her tongue. The soothing effects would come in a few minutes, but she was already relaxing. In the tropical warmth of the grotto, watching her boyfriend tune his guitar, it was almost like being normal again.
Copyright © 2009-2011 Lyn Thorne-Alder with Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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