Chapter 167: Kailani
Your childhood eyes were so intense
While bartering your innocence
For bits of string, the grown-up wings you needed
"So I thought I'd talk with Tolly," Kai explained to Conrad. It looked less perfect in the harsh light of day, but it was still the only plan she had.
"With Tolly? It's not a bad idea I suppose; he does have some pull with Agatha. I wouldn't hold out much hope, but it's worth a shot."
She shook her head. "Not quite that … direct. I hate indirect, but nothing straightforward is going to work with that.. .with Aggie."
"Indirect is usually a better way of dealing with her, yes." Conrad folded his hands, considering this. "So what's the plan?"
She bit her lip. "Tolly offered to Belong to me."
He froze for a moment. "Really."
"If he was Mine, I could keep him from graduating," she plowed on.
"I... you... ye-e-es, I suppose you could."
"It would force Agatha's hand."
"Who's talking about forcing what, now?" Mabina's voice sang out as she entered the room.
Kai flinched, and forced herself to answer as if she had nothing to hide. "Bowen. There's not going to be anything left of him by the end of the year."
"Dear, dear," Mabina clucked. "I don't know what the poor boy's done, but you can't blame him. Any wrong he's guilty of can be laid at Agatha's feet, you should know that."
"That's what I mean. He needs to be free of her. She needs to let him go."
"Oh, well." She tsk'ed as she bustled into the kitchen to fetch some tea. "I don't think that's particularly likely."
"But it ought to be," Kai insisted. "If we all sit and do nothing, then nothing will ever change!"
"Agatha will be out of all of our lives in four months. Isn't that change enough, for her?"
Conrad sighed, leaning back in his chair as he just listened to them.
"So, what, just let Bowen suffer in the theory that, soon enough, Aggie will be gone?"
"What else would we do?" Mabina returned, bearing a tray. "Tea, dear?"
"Stop her. Challenge her. Make her give Bowen up. Even just tell her she's a miserable waste of space!"
"You're free to tell her, of course. But how would you possibly make her do anything?"
She jutted her chin forward, never mind that she'd been asking the same question herself. "The same way you make anyone do anything around here."
"I very much doubt persuading her with reason is going to work, and you certainly couldn't Keep her. Is your Intinn that good now, then?"
"It's getting better," Kai answered, and then shook her head. She was getting distracted from her point. "Why are you so negative about this?"
Mabina sipped her tea and shook her head. "I'm not negative, I just don't want to see you hurt again trying to confront her for nothing."
"But why would it be nothing to try to help someone who needs it?"
"Because you'll gain nothing; or, worse, he'll be punished for your attempts."
"If I had more help, I might be able to succeed," she exploded, tired of being told she couldn't do anything.
"Aye, let's all charge in and have open war again." Mabina clucked in disapproval. "You do remember the last time?"
She winced. "Why do you keep bringing that up? How do you think I could forget getting raped by a giant?" Raped. She never said the word, never really labeled it, but that's what it had been. Tolly had had a choice, and he'd chosen to rape her.
"Because," Mabina tch'd, "it seems like you continue to dive into things without thinking of the consequences, or even thinking of what you'll do to get these wild schemes accomplished."
"I have a plan!" Kai retorted hotly.
"Do you now? And what's this plan?"
She bit her lip. It wasn't a nice plan, but what Tolly had done to her wasn't nice. "Take Tolly up on his offer to make good what he did to me."
"So you'll have your revenge on him, is that it?"
"No!" She could feel the tears falling, but she tried to ignore them. "No, no, but Tolly's graduation is the only thing that might budge Aggie. It's all I've got."
"And if it doesn't? Have you given a thought to what might happen?"
"Of course I have," she retorted angrily. "But doing nothing because doing something might do more damage is just stupid!"
"It's stupid, then, to look out for our own? To not risk what we have, our crew, our safety, for just a chance to help someone else?"
"It's stupid to stick our heads in a hole and pretend other people aren't getting hurt, aren't getting raped and starved and abused!"
"So you'd have us take some of that abuse ourselves, on the off chance it might lessen what someone else gets? I worked hard for this security, Kai, Cass and I did, for a safe place where no-one would challenge us. And you want us to risk that? For a boy who doesn't have it that bad, in the grand scheme of things?"
"Not on an off chance! On a solid plan! How can we not? How can we just watch people get hurt?"
"Kai, dear. Stop and think about this for a moment. Your plan is to hurt Anatoliy, threaten to hurt Agatha, and likely end up getting hurt yourself, with the goal of lessening how much Bowen gets hurt for a couple of months?"
She glared at Mabina through the tears. "Can you really not care?" She didn't, she saw that now. "No wonder Taro ended up such a mess. If you sat and let Shad do whatever, so no-one got hurt, and then let Megan do the same to him… no wonder you ended up with nearly getting me in the same situation!" The tears were falling in earnest as she stormed out the door.
The halls were mercifully empty, and her anger ate up the walk with long, determined strides. It seemed like barely a moment had passed before her knuckles rapped sharply against the door of Anatoliy's suite.
Nydia answered the door, smiling uncertainly at Kai. "Hi?"
"Is Tolly in?" Her words were clipped and crisp; well, that befit the situation, didn't it? Nonetheless, the emaciated girl took a half-step back from her, turning into the room.
"Yes, um, Tolly?"
His answering rumble was loud and clear enough, delivered in his usual jovial tone. "Hey, 'sup?" As he hove into view, however, seeing Kai's expression, his face became more somber. "What can I do for you?"
He raped you. He could have said no, and he held you down and did it anyway. The voice in her head was sharp and acerbic. She held out a hand to Tolly, in part to shut up the voice. "Come take a walk with me?" she offered.
"Yeah, sure." He took her hand gingerly, and she could see Nydia's relief at closing the door on them as they stepped out.
Now that she had him in hand, she wasn't sure how to go about this. She started walking, trying to ignore the angry, panicking voice in her head. And now you're alone with him again. Brilliant. This was a pretty nasty plan. Tolly had, generally, been nice to her. He raped you. That's nice?
"So what's on your mind?" he asked quietly - well, quietly for Tolly, at least.
"You…" She wasn't Shahin. She couldn't make it sound pretty. "You raped me," she hurried out, before she could lose her nerve.
His steps faltered, for just a moment, but they were so large she didn't have to break stride to let him catch back up. For once, the giant seemed to be at a loss for words; he only nodded in acknowledgment.
The words seemed to come out in a flood now. "I know why you did it. I mean, you needed babies to graduate. And you let Aggie talk you into it, because Aggie can talk anyone into anything. I can't do that," she added bitterly, "I can't talk anyone into anything. But you said you'd try to make it better."
He nodded again, and his voice was thick when he spoke. "Whatever you need from me. I promise." For a split second, she could feel the thrum of energy from him where their hands touched; the current of power in the air crackled like static. She was never going to get a better chance.
"Be mine," she said, her voice far smaller and less certain than she wanted. Mabina was never going to forgive her.
Now, Tolly actually did stop, squeezing her hand gently. "You want me to..." He swallowed once, nodding, all the power of his earnest words coming back to him as he bowed his head. "I will. Kailani cy'Regine, from this day forth, I Belong to you."
"From this day until I release you, Anatoliy cy'Luca, you Belong to me," she agreed. Conrad was never going to forgive her. "You're mine," she added, in a whisper.
Copyright © 2009-2012 Lyn Thorne-Alder with Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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