Eseme's Bonus Story
Good In Deed
Week Three, Year Five of the Addergoole School, after Friends Will Be Friends
“Hey, Smitty,” Richard called across the hall; his crewmate Coy was waving at him. Smitty was tired, drained after a grueling class in fine-application magic, but they both looked kind of urgent, so he crossed the hall to talk to them.
“What’s up? It’s my turn to cook dinner…” Not that he was allowed in the kitchen without a fight, but, damnit, he was going to make the effort. Again.
“The pretty little girl in the kimono is in your crew, right? Zumi?”
Panic hit Smitty’s stomach like an avalanche of boulders. “Azumi. Yes.” Damnit, Richard and Coy were supposed to be good guys. He hadn’t thought they were the sort to take her off, at least not without some sort of warning.
“She went off with Dysmas maybe five minutes ago.” Coy pointed unnecessarily down the hall towards the suite Anatoliy and Dysmas shared with Agatha. “We thought you might want to know. I mean, she looked willing enough, but with Dysmas…”
“Yeah.” Smitty frowned. With Dysmas, looks were deceiving and volition was a matter of opinion. “Thanks, guys.”
He should get Finn first. He’d seen Anatoliy fight in gym class training sessions; the giant barely had to exert effort to flatten people. Both Dysmas and Aggie fought dirty and sharp, and their new Kept were unknown qualities. He should have back-up – Finn at the very least, maybe call in a couple favors here and there – before he went in guns blazing.
All of this went through his mind in the seconds it took him to run to Dysmas’s door, and he discarded all of it. Azumi could be in danger. He pounded hard on the door. He couldn’t just barge in. He might, if she were hurt, Law be damned, but he shouldn’t.
That shouldn’t was a tenuous thread holding him outside the door, waiting for it to swing open. He couldn’t protect Azumi if he was thrown out of the school.
Of course, if she was already hurt, that wouldn’t stop him. But he could wait a moment for the door to open. Just a moment, though, and hadn’t it been minutes since he knocked?
He lifted his fist to pound the door again, and barely stopped himself from slamming it into Bowen’s face as the kid opened the door. It wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t his fault. Slowly, Smitty lowered his hand to his hip and tried for a smile. From the look on the kid’s face, he wasn’t managing anything remotely reassuring.
He swallowed hard and tried to remember that it made Azumi nervous when he snarled. “I hear a member of my crew is visiting,” he grated out. “I’d like to come in so that I can escort her home.”
Bowen looked pale but resolute and held the door partially closed. “Who do you think is here?” he asked, his voice rising to a squeak at the end, “sir?”
Smitty clenched his fist at his side, reminding himself that the kid wasn’t in charge of his own actions, that picking a fight with him would put him in the wrong in dealing with Agatha – something she’d be quick to exploit – and that he didn’t know yet that anything was wrong with Azumi.
“Azumi cy’Akinobu,” he snarled. “About yea tall, black hair, kimono, kind of quiet.” He took a deep breath, noting the terrified panic growing on Bowen’s face, and tried again, a little more quietly. “Robert and Coy saw her come this way with Dysmas. Is she here?”
Bowen didn’t answer right away; his mouth opened but no sound came out except a strangled choking noise. His face twisted in distress; Smitty wondered if this was the first time he’d tried to go against Agatha’s orders. As the thought crossed his mind, his anger at the kid vanished. He was just a tool.
“If you can’t let me in,” he said, trying for gentle and, it seemed, succeeding this time, “can you go get someone who can? I will wait out here all day if I have to. I don’t want Azumi to have to walk home alone.” It sounded so rational like that. It didn’t sound like I’m going to break your door down if someone doesn’t hand me my friend Right Now. It didn’t quite sound like he didn’t trust anyone in this school except Finn to take care of his friends properly. More importantly, it didn’t sound as if he was going to hurt the poor kid if action wasn’t taken.
Bowen didn’t seem to appreciate that distinction. He nodded shortly, and closed the door in Smitty’s face.
Popes had been beatified for less saintly acts than what Smitty did next: he stood there. Perhaps he smiled a little, since he certainly was not snarling at a doorway. The door hadn’t done anything to him, and neither had Bowen.
Two or three eons passed, long enough that Smitty began considering his options. He could break down the door. He could go through the wall. (He could go back to their suite and be sure that Robert and Coy hadn’t been fucking with him, that Azumi wasn’t waiting at home). He could try to Work Bowen into opening the Door.
He could wait, and not break every Law of Sanctity while he waited patiently. He could remember what it would be like if Agatha got him bent over a Legal barrel. (He could think about Azumi caught in Dysmas’ spider-snare, lost inside her own mind and helpless as Dysmas drained her dry).
He could remember that Agatha was cy’VanderLinden and stop being a moron. She’d get him as worked up as she could if she thought it would work to her advantage. He could catch her in the halls tomorrow between classes and break her nose before anyone knew what had hit her.
The door swung open slowly, and Agatha smiled sweetly up at him. “What an attentive friend you are,” she gushed. “One would almost think you were Azumi’s Keeper, the way you’re hovering – or her Kept.”
He couldn’t see into the suite, even looking over her head; they were set up that way for privacy, he supposed. So he had to play along. “One could think anything they want, Agatha – or whatever has been put in their minds.”
She pouted playfully at him. “But we would never do such a thing, you or I, would we, Smitty?”
“Of course not,” he drawled sarcastically. “Not standing on your threshold, at least. Can I come in, Agatha?”
“Be welcome as our guest,” she said formally, stepping away from the door, “if you mean no harm to us or ours.”
He stopped as if he’d hit a wall. That little bitch. “I’ll do no harm to you or yours while I’m within the walls of your Home, of course.” He almost managed to sound polite about it. “What tomorrow brings, Agatha, neither of us knows.”
“So cautious,” she laughed. “Come in, Smitty. I trust you to be honorable.”
That was more than he’d say for her, but he didn’t need to trust her. He followed her into the suite, trying to brace himself. If he looked up and saw…
…and saw Dysmas, just looking up, both of his hands curled possessively around Azumi’s punctured wrist, a tiny trickle of blood dripping down the side of his mouth. Yeah, if he was seeing that, he might just fly into a rage and break his sworn word, the Sanctity of their home, and Dysmas’ face.
Smitty. Azumi’s mental “voice” dashed cold water on his mind. He struggled to control his rage, and spoke calmly.
“Azumi. Are you all right?” Of course she wasn’t all right, she was still dripping blood. But she was smiling, that faintly-tolerant smile she used when he was doing something silly – fairly frequently, when it was just the five of them at home, as if it were their personal joke.
I’m quite fine, Smitty. Please stop worrying. She pulled an embroidered handkerchief from her sleeve and bound it around her wrist, tilting her hand so that Dysmas could tie a tidy knot in her makeshift bandage. Smitty swallowed another snarl.
“You know I can’t stop worrying,” he said, trying to keep the plea out of his voice. She’d hear it anyway, but that didn’t mean Agatha had to. Or Dysmas, damn his face!
Smitty-kun, she thought gently at him, it is okay. I am okay. Please, calm down.
He frowned, glaring at Dysmas so that he didn’t glare at Azumi. The vampire was smiling at him, trying to look abashed, although the streak of blood really ruined any illusion of innocence. “I give you my word,” he said, smoothly and rather softly; damnit, was he trying to placate him? Well, swearing oaths was a good way to start… “I swear, I didn’t mess with her mind, with Azumi’s mind. I didn’t coerce or mindfuck her.” He shrugged apologetically.
The words were soothing, but there were so many ways that they could be lies while still being the truth.
But they are simply the truth. I know what Agatha is. I did not allow her in my mind.
“I… needed, well, what I need.” Dysmas managed embarrassed this time, almost believably. “And Azumi said… well, thought… that she wanted to help.” He shot Agatha a look over Smitty’s shoulder; Smitty tensed for an attack, but he heard Aggie’s footsteps retreating. “I can’t take blood from Nydia as often as I need blood. It would hurt her. And Aggie won’t stand for it.”
Smitty glanced back at the room, only to find it empty. Aggie and Bowen had vanished, and he hadn’t seen Nydia or Tolly at all. “Your crew won’t help you out?” All of his snarl had faded, and he found himself feeling a little bad for the guy.
“We’re not that sort of crew,” he shrugged. “But Azumi was willing to help me.”
“Of course she was,” he grumbled.
I like to be helpful
“I know, ‘Zumi, but you could have been hurt. I wish you’d be more careful.”
Dysmas promised me that he would not hurt me. And I think it is foolish to stay within our own house and not help others.
He blinked at her, wondering if Dysmas could “hear” her, wondering if the egg on his face was as visible as it felt it was.
“You want to be good people,” he said slowly.
Is that not what you and Finn said you wanted to do? Be “the good crew?” Differentiate yourselves – ourselves – from the others, from people like Agatha ? From the smirk on Dysmas’s face, she was definitely letting him in on the conversation.
“It doesn’t take many good deeds to be a better person than Aggie,” the vampire said softly. “Thank you, Azumi.” He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it briefly.
Shh, she whispered in Smitty’s mind, as he contemplating snarling again. You’re welcome, Dysmas-kun. Should you need me again, perhaps…
“I’ll be sure to let your crew know first. And maybe we should meet at your place.”
She smiled brightly. Perhaps we should. Smitty buried deep the flash of anxious jealousy that her smile brought forth, but it was hard to bury things deep enough to hide them from Azumi. She turned to him, offering him her hand. I have done my good deed. We should go home now before someone starts to worry.
“Before…” he sputtered at her, before catching the mischievous smile she was trying to hide with her veil of hair. “Just for that, I’m cooking dinner.”
For that, I will suffer through you cooking dinner, Smitty-kun.
Copyright © 2009-2010 Lyn Thorne-Alder & Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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