Chapter 163: Shahin
Tell me what you know
Tell me what you gone and done now
Addergoole was a good education in any number of things Shahin hadn't expected from a reform school (or any school at all). One of the things she had learned was how different having friends was from simply watching people and trying to get a rise out of them.
She didn't know if it was simply having things to talk about now, or having people to talk to them about, or a combination of both, but the urge to talk endlessly - about herself, Emrys, the wedding, and the small creature growing inside of her - was growing harder and harder to resist. She had to remind herself to act reasonably.
Hardest was the locker room, which had turned into their own private club. She felt like she was bubbling over with things to tell them. She settled for "I felt the baby move this morning." It had been the strangest feeling, a combination of the physical shifting and a small premonition, like her son saying "hi, mom."
Even that seemed to be too much for Kai, who got the unhappy little lip-twist she'd been getting since Emrys proposed. Shahin would have thought it had to do with Kai's own unwelcome passenger, but Kai willingly talked about her own two indiscriminately, about Jamian's early pregnancy, about Mabina's twins… about anything but Shahin's baby.
A feeling of rejection and frustration won out over manners. "What is it?" she asked sharply.
"What's what?" the girl blinked, wide-eyed. God, she was the world's worst dissembler. Maybe they'd work on that another day.
"We need to teach her to lie," she murmured to Jamian. "Kai, every time I talk about the wedding, or the baby, you get upset. What's wrong?"
She hesitated for a moment, clearly caught, before breaking down. "I should've told you."
"Should have told us what?" She tried not to snap.
"About you and Emrys... I... I knew, Sheen. I'm sorry." The redhead looked down at her hands, twiddling her fingers nervously.
"About… oh. About that." She shook her head. "When did you know? And how?" It seemed like everyone had been keeping information from them; was she going to have to shake Jamian upside down to find out what she'd known?
"After that strange woman at the Rennaissance Faire talked to us, I looked up that word she used. Aeosthena. I found it in the library, here, in the Old Tongue books."
Shahin relaxed. "By that point, Kai, the damage was done. I was already pregnant."
"But you weren't, I mean..." She flailed her hands about helplessly before finishing plaintively: "And then you told me you were getting married."
"And you didn't want us to be unhappy." She nodded, beginning to understand. "Kai, it's okay, I.."
"So what did the word mean?" Jamian interrupted.
"It's, um." There was her lying face again; cheeks scrunched, eyes cast upward and to the side, teeth on her lip - it was like watching a silent movie where you were expected to know exactly what someone was thinking just from their facial expression.
"Honestly, Kai," Shahin interrupted.
Kailani sighed, nodding. "It's a man who sires children by many different mothers, to pass on his traits or legacy."
Shahin bit her lip. "Considering.. well. Yes. That does appear to describe our father pretty well." She was still wondering how much, if any, choice he'd had in it.
"But I should've told you! And, and I wanted to, I really did, but I just couldn't."
"It's all right. It does seem kind of horrible from the outside, I know."
"So you're not mad?"
Shahin shook her head. Kai looked so open and vulnerable right now; how could she be? "I'm not mad," she reassured her friend. "I'm - well, this whole thing is a mess, Kai."
"A big mess," Kai agreed. "You still want to go through with everything, though?"
Of everyone who knew, Kai was the first to be that blunt about it. She heard and ignore Jamian's gasp, and shrugged eloquently. "Dr. Caitrin says that we're fine, genetically - though it would be a little late to worry about that anyway, wouldn't it? And…" She'd been thinking about this a lot. "He's my Emrys a lot more than he's my brother, if that makes any sense?"
"No?" Jamian offered.
"I didn't grow up with him. We don't have childhood memories or childhood, really, anything in common. We were strangers when we met, and then we were lovers practically before we knew each other. That's a lot more real than having shared a father neither of us knew until we came here."
Kailani was nodding slowly, absorbing it all in her methodical way. "No, it really does make sense, when you describe it that way."
"If you found out you were related to Conrad…" Shahin offered.
"It would probably be the least of my worries," Kailani sighed. "I see where you're coming from."
"I love him," she agreed. "And he loves me. And, really, I don't think anyone else would put up with either of us." There was a moment of silence, while she suspected her friends were agreeing with her, before Kai broke in again.
"So how's the planning going?"
"Pretty well," she smiled. "We're finally getting everything into place. That reminds me, Kai… I have a favor to ask of you." And now that she understood Kai's problem with the wedding, she felt free to ask it.
"Of me?" She seemed flattered, which wasn't too surprising really; she clearly wasn't used to being approached for help. "Of course, whatever you... what do you need?" Sadly, that newfound caution wasn't surprising either. The power of words had been a forceful lesson, and they'd all been stung.
"We were hoping to have ice candles on the tables," she whispered. "Sort of a symbol of, well, us?" And better than just setting the tables on fire.
"You mean, candles actually made of ice? That sounds neat, but how are you going to make them stay like that?"
"Magically," she smiled, suddenly giddy. "Like everything else about this wedding."
"Yes, that could work," Kailani replied thoughtfully. "Who can make something like that?"
"Well…. I thought you could?"
She paused for a moment, and then smiled broadly. "You know, I think I could."
Shahin relaxed, smiling. "Wonderful. Would you?"
"Of course I will. I'll have to try out a few things, see what I can put together..."
"Thank you so much!" Shahin hugged her friend impulsively. "Oh, that's one less thing to worry about!"
"You're welcome. I know I could use one less thing to worry about."
She made a sympathetic moue. "What's on your mind? The babies…?"
"Yes, actually, but that's not what I was thinking of. I'm trying to figure out how to help someone."
"Again?" Jamian cut in, a little impatiently. "Kai, you barely avoided getting in real trouble the last time. And the time before that…"
"And there are still big problems out there. There's still Bowen."
"Oh," Shahin breathed. "Shh, Kai, quieter."
"Oh!" Kai nodded quickly, lowering her voice. "Yes. But you know what I mean. I ran into Agatha the other day."
"Oh, dear." Shahin frowned. She couldn't argue with the point - Aggie was pretty horrid to everyone, most of all to her Kept. But she worried for Kai.
"I heard her, Shahin. I heard what she was thinking. She's a horrible little monster. We can't let her go on controlling another person like she does." Kai's fervor was evident as she continued; she must be really serious about this. It didn't do anything to assuage Shahin's concern.
"Okay, okay." She set her hand on her friend's arm reassuringly. "It's okay, Kai. Just… be careful for now, all right? Don't dive into anything, don't go shouting it from the rooftops. We'll figure something out."
"I will," Kailani nodded. "After all, you showed us it can be done, kind of. The way you challenged Xaviera."
"Well," Shahin admitted, "I was using my 'secret weapon.'" She bit her lip. "Kai… I don't know what Emrys will do, if this comes to a head. Aggie is his sister."
"What Emrys... wait, what? His what?"
"Half-sister. And… Kai. She's Regine's daughter."
"Regine's daughter? That explains a lot." Kailani sighed, shaking her head, before looking back up at Shahin quickly, eyes widening. "Wait..."
"Wait?" she asked, wondering what leap her friend's odd brain had made.
"That means she's your sister, too!" The accusatory tone was to be expected, she supposed.
She shrugged as nonchalantly as she knew how. "So is Mea. And it appears some First Cohort named Tristan is my brother. Aeosthena, remember?"
Kailani composed herself before they drew too much attention from the rest of the locker room, thankfully. "I suppose so, yes. I'll have to figure this one out on my own."
"Kai…" She frowned, glancing at Jamian for support. "Kai, you're my friend. She's not."
"Maybe once I come up with a real plan, I'll get back to you, then. In the meantime, I'll figure out your candles."
"Thank you." At a loss for what else to do, she hugged her again.
"We'll figure it all out." Jamian, she noted, didn't sound that hopeful.
Copyright © 2009-2012 Lyn Thorne-Alder with Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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