Ty was winning. He knew it, they knew it. The Director was glaring daggers at him. His Mentor - his father - was trying to hide a smile.
For at least the third time that evening, Ty wished for the ability to read emotions. Not just theirs, but Jamian's; his lover was looking at him with a strange expression. But there were bigger matters at hand. He looked at Ofir. It wasn't really the little shit's fault that he was a little shit, but he'd have to outgrow it eventually. "You owe me for what you did to my Kept today. Do you argue that?"
The kid opened and closed his mouth a few times, looking more like a fish than a bat. "No," he finally agreed. "If you will swear your Kept was not attempting to interfere with mine."
He didn't need to ask Jamian, and doing so would just make them look weak. "I swear it." Once the air had settled, and feeling like he was channeling someone else, Ty continued. He had to make them safe, and do this right. Jamian had gotten attacked, and he hadn't been there to protect him. "In return for that attack, you won't fight this, and you'll leave Kendra alone for the rest of this year."
Ofir nodded sullenly. "You still owe me from last time."
"I still do," Ty agreed. He looked at the Administration, feeling a surge of power. "You always knew I could have done this. And it's the way around your… issues."
Issues. He'd never really cared, until Jamian had started pointing things out. It was easy to not care, when you couldn't read people's emotions. He wondered what Mike - what Professor VanderLinden's - excuse was.
"Let powerful students bully the weak?" Regine scorned. Luke laughed out loud, echoed by Professor Valerian.
"You already do, Regine. We just hobbled the most powerful. Ty, you should have spoken up years ago."
"I have more motivation now." He pressed Jamian close against his chest. When they got home… first things first. "Jame' cares so much. His friends care so much." He tilted his head at Kailani, who really needed to sit down somewhere before she fell over. "Conrad, you should take her home and rub her feet now, man."
"Yeah… yeah. Come on, Kaia." He looked dazed, and obeyed without thinking. The hazards of the collar; Ty would never put himself in that position.
He looked around the room, and then back at Regine, who was frowning dangerously. "There, I dealt with it within the rules. We can pretend I challenged Ofir and won, because that's more or less what happened, and keep this secret project of yours a secret.
"But," he added, feeling more than a little drunk on the power, "it would probably be a brilliant idea if you'd tell Jamian what's going on, so he stops sneaking off to practice with someone else's Kept.
The Director stared at him. She could be an incredibly intimidating woman, but Ty had very little to fear from her. Less, since he'd learned that her crew included his father. He'd always done everything she'd asked him to. He was carrying Jamian's baby when he'd sworn he'd never be pregnant again. He'd seduced and knocked up her baby Daeva. She could give him this.
Slowly, she nodded. "Jamian, I have lessons with Kailani this coming Monday at seven p.m. Come by then, and I will explain what I can to the two of you."
Ty didn't need to be an empath to read the joy and triumph in his lover's expression. "Yes, ma'am."
"If that's all, then…"
"You still owe me," Ofir informed Ty, cutting in before he could be ushered out of the room by his Mentor. Said Mentor, Ty noted, was frowning, but it looked more like it was hiding a smirk than anything. "You still owe me something."
"I do," he agreed. He almost felt sorry for the little shit; he was pretty sure he knew he was outclassed. Maybe he could send some help his way so he didn't end up this screwed next year, too.
"I don't have anyone for my bed since your Kept… since you challenged me and took away my Kept."
Kendra, Ty saw, was inching towards the door as Ofir started talking about her again. He let go of Jamian so he could talk to her, and shifted his mien to female. "I didn't think I was your type, sailor," she teased.
"I don't care how you do it. But I want a girl - or a girl-shaped person - on my arm at Saturday's dance, and in my bed Saturday night."
She pursed her lips. Shahin and Emrys still owed her a favor. "It will be done."
Copyright © 2009-2012 Lyn Thorne-Alder. All rights reserved.
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