amadhay: (Default)
 It was easy enough to find Amaya again. He just had to follow the loud voices and laughter. The closer he came to the Arche Loralyn’s study, the more he could understand what was being said.

“And so I told her, ‘Look, I am really sorry that your twine ran off with my friend, but no, I’m not going to pay for you.’” Hynnkel was apparently in the middle of a story, and Croy-li assumed he’d come in on the punch line, because all of the others laughed.

Unsure whether he was welcome or not, Croy-li hovered at the door, listening as Amaya asked Hynnkel more questions. Deciding that she probably wanted time with her family, Croy-li turned on his heel to instead look for Blu and nearly ran right into Amaya’s sister. The girl, an inch or two shorter than Amaya but otherwise almost identical, aside from facial spoors, gave him a sarcastic smile.

“Smart Ass,” she acknowledged him.

“Milky,” he replied in kind, making her eyes flash at the cloaked insult of a nickname. For a moment, he was sure that there was something strange with the sky blue of her eyes because it looked darker than normal.

“Amaya, your pet princeling is out here,” Amadhay announced, stepping past him and into the room. “Maybe tell him what to do? He’s not so good figuring it out on his own.”

“Join us, Croy-li,” Amaya’s cousin, Kelly, invited, opening the door. She smiled widely at him, brushing her dark hair back over her shoulder and holding her hand out for him to take. Glancing past her, he saw Arche Loralyn quietly chiding Amadhay, with Amaya practically sitting on Hynnkel’s lap, Princess Anne and Nolando sitting side-by-side with their son sleeping peacefully, and empty space on a loveseat.

“I dunno,” Croy-li said, watching Amaya, who never so much as glanced at him, “I don’t want to invade on—”

“Don’t be a dummy,” Kelly stated, cutting him off and taking his hand. “Kel’s just telling us funny stories about his time away. You’re practically family anyway.” She led him to sit next to her on the loveseat, sitting a little closer than strictly necessary. She didn’t let go of his hand.

“Did anyone throw themselves at you?” Amaya asked pointedly, not looking at Kelly, but not having to for her cousin to get the point.

Flushing, the older teenager pulled away from Croy-li, her brown eyes glaring at Amaya, who was smiling sweetly at Hynnkel.

“Have you looked at me?” Hynnkel boasted. “Of course. I had people offering themselves every turn.”

To keep Kelly from taking his hand again, Croy-li pulled out his forceps and a small device that would work to scan for biological presences in a certain area from a single sample of air—once it was done anyway.  At this point, it was just a mess of exposed wires and fuses on his hand-sized circuit board. For a few clicks, Kelly watched him, but was quickly pulled into Hynnkel’s stories about all the people he’d met.

“None of them were really good enough for me though,” he said with a shrug, his smirk bothering Croy-li, though the boy wasn’t sure why. In fact, the entire conversation had bothered Croy-li for some reason he couldn’t put his finger on.

“Right, because Fallora’s the one you wanted, right?” Kelly asked with an enchanted smile. He glanced up at his cousin’s name, looking at Hynnkel who gave another shrug. Right, Croy-li remembered, Fallora and Hynnkel are promised.

“Not really.”

The general joyous attitude died down rather quickly. The adults looked to Hynnkel in silent surprise while Kelly and Amaya looked to Croy-li, who was staring at Hynnkel in disbelief.

“Does she know that?” Amadhay asked, the only one in the room who seemed to still be enjoying herself.

“I would assume that Khale told her.” There was very real contempt in the way the aelfe spoke Croy-li’s brother’s name that had all eyes turning to Croy-li, who immediately went back to tinkering, trying to pretend that he hadn’t been paying attention. He was neither his brother nor his cousin and had no part of whatever situation had gone down between the three of them. It was a sense of loyalty that, considering he didn’t owe it to his brother or cousin, was unwarranted that had him uncomfortable.

Still, Croy-li couldn’t help but to think, Hynnkel is an ass.

"What happened?" Kelly asked, exchanging intrigued looks with Amadhay, who covered her amused smirk with the back of her hand and tried for the same concerned look Kelly had. She didn't do it very well.

Hynnkel just shrugged as if he hadn’t just acknowledged he had, at some point, cut off his entanglement with a queen and not had the decency to tell her. Croy-li tried to keep a straight face, but he found himself exchanging a look with Princess Anne that said ‘He thinks an awful lot of himself.’ “We grew apart,” he finally said when no one else spoke.

“Sounds like you grew apart and kept it quiet,” Kelly said accusingly, glancing again to Croy-li, who tried to keep his attention on the objects in his hands, though most of his attention was on his peripheral, watching the others.

Hynnkel shrugged again. “I would figure she got the message a few months ago.”

Amaya and Amadhay both snorted, as if he’d said something funny, though Amadhay, at least, had the humility to pretend to be ashamed. Amaya only glanced at Croy-li before asking her cousin another question. “Did you decide before or after leaving that you were done with her?”

“Can we stop talking about Fallora? I was gone for a year. Don’t you want to hear more about what I did, where I went? Fallora can wait.”

“Can she?” Arche Loralyn asked softly, giving Hynnkel a disappointed look. “Does anyone but you know about your plans to detangle?”

Hynnkel gave another shrug. “All of you? Khale. And since both du Kays now know, I’m expecting it’ll get around to her pretty soon.”

Amaya sat up straighter, giving Hynnkel a look that wasn’t quite threatening, but wasn’t the same enraptured one she’d been giving him. She pushed herself onto the arm of the chair Hynnkel was seated in and glanced to Croy-li, who caught her eye. He gestured with his head toward the door, sliding his forceps into his pocket and making a face. Amaya made a face in return, flashing her eyes at Hynnkel before shaking her head slightly at Croy-li. The boy shrugged in response, ignoring her request, and stood, slipping his invention back into its appropriate pocket.

“—and see? He’s going to run off and tell her now.”

Croy-li frowned, looking to Hynnkel. He hadn’t paid any attention to what he was saying, considering his own, silent, conversation with his best friend, but he knew when he was being accused of something. And he didn’t like it. “I’m leaving because I don’t like your company,” he said bluntly, tossing an apologetic smile to the others.

“And my Cole doesn’t blabber,” Amaya spoke in a hard voice, sliding off of the arm of the chair to stand. “If you want your message to get to the Queen Ora, then you should take it yourself.” She smiled sweetly, before adding in an acidic tone, “That’s what a real aelfe would do.”

Hynnkel didn’t even seem bothered by the attack to his character. “Your Cole, huh?” he asked, eyeing Croy-li speculatively. “I’m thinking you could do better.”

“Wow,” Amadhay and Kelly blurted, once again exchanging looks. Amadhay was far too amused by the entire situation,

Knowing that Amaya’s fuse was blown by the way she tensed, the way the muscles in her arm looked ready to grab her bow—which was thankfully nowhere near her at the moment—and the way her eyes widened, he quickly intervened, placing a warning hand on her hip. He had to reach all the way across the room and it was an awkward gesture, particularly given the way she was so close to her cousin, but that didn’t make him move his hand from her. It was the only thing keeping Hynnkel from getting a fist—at the very least—to his face.

Amaya turned her head to him when he moved across the room to stand beside her, keeping his hand on her hip in their ‘don’t do it’ gesture. He put his other hand on her shoulder, their ‘think about it’ gesture. “Let’s go find Blu,” he suggested, choosing not to waste any more breath on her cousin.

She looked up, at his eyes, and when she raised an eyebrow, he shook his head. She let out a sigh and relaxed. Croy-li knew from the silence in the room that her family was watching them, that they were silently judging, probably wondering what had happened, why it had happened. He had no plans of telling them that their team all had those little on and off switches taught into them by the Thief Lord. He definitely wasn’t going to mention that he had saved Hynnkel from some kind of pain, possibly even his life given the way Amaya had been on edge in regards to others’ lives the past few months.

Instead of wasting breath on explanations he didn’t really want to give or fighting with Hynnkel, he pulled Amaya to the door. As an afterthought, he turned back to acknowledge Anne and Nolando who, as the crown successors of the Tierdom throne, were the only ones higher than he in status. “See you at dinner,” he said, not sure what the correct way to excuse himself and Amaya from the situation would have been and honestly not caring. He hated nobility politics. They were stupid.

Anne and Nolando nodded at him and so with only a nod to Arche Loralyn and then Kelly, he and Amaya left the room. Once out of the room, Amaya walked beside him with barely contained amusement.

“So, you build things, huh?” she asked, as if everything between her leaving him with Barthew Base and them leaving the room hadn’t happened. That was her normal way of dealing with things she didn’t want to, she didn’t. And his way was to go along with her, so he did.

“Shut up,” he whined. “I was blindsided. You set me up for failure.”

I did?” she countered. “I didn’t even know that he was someone you were going to go happy puppy over.”

“He’s Barthew Base,” he exclaimed, following her as she led him out to the gardens. He assumed she knew where she was going. “I can’t believe you’ve known Barthew Base for two years and never introduced me to him!”

“Well,” Amaya started, hopping onto the low gate separating one of the vegetable gardens from the walk path. “Maybe I didn’t want you to make a fool of yourself,” she teased.

Croy-li crossed his arms over his chest and followed her, spotting a familiar head of auburn hair inside the gate, tending to some of the plants. He hadn’t known Blu worked with the vegetables. “If I’d been ready I wouldn’t have embarrassed myself. Did you think, at any point to tell me that the Barthew freaking Base was your family physician?”

Amaya shrugged, crouching down low on the gate. “I didn’t know he was that big a deal, honestly,” she stated, dropping down to sit on the gate with her legs on either side. She glanced to Blu, who looked toward them before going back to her work.

“You didn’t—how could you—I have a poster of him in my room, Aimy!”

“Your room room or your building room? ‘cause if you’ll remember, we spend most of our time here ‘cept when we need to grab one of your toys. I dunno if I’ve ever been in your room.”

Croy-li thought about that for a moment. It was possible. “But I talk about him all the time,” he added.

She shrugged. “You talking about scientists and inventor people is boring and I don’t listen.”

Croy-li stared at her for a moment. That was blunt and mean, two things he wasn’t normally the recipient for, not from her. She poked him with her foot when he didn’t respond and her questioning smile made him smile back.

“Well, you’ve got to make up for this, you know.”

“Okay,” Amaya said before standing up again. “Bart!” she yelled, waving her arms around. Blu looked up in surprise and Croy-li caught her gathering something up before Amaya turned him around so that he could see Barthew Base approaching them, a glass jar full of something green in his hand.

“Ah, there you are,” the phantom stated, reaching into his pack for something. He stopped a few steps away from them to rummage through the overly full cloth bag, awkwardly holding the jar with one hand as he held the flap to his bag open with an elbow and searched through it with his free hand.

“My Cole is upset that I didn’t introduce you two, so to make up for it, will you sign something for him or something? He’s apparently in love with you and I forgot that.”

Croy-li ducked his head, once again shocked mute by the mere presence of Barthew Base. The phantom grimaced and some papers fell out of the bag. Noting that his idol seemed a bit flummoxed and that Amaya was hardly going to do anything to help him, Croy-li jolted forward.

“Here, let me,” he picked up the papers that the phantom hadn’t even seemed to notice he’d lost and then took the jar so that the man had both hands. He glanced to Croy-li thankfully before going through his sack to pull out a second jar, this one with a sack attached to it. After the scientist pushed the second jar in Croy-li’s direction, he traded the papers for it.

“That is a protein shake both of you need to be taking,” the resident physician said, smiling slightly when Amaya and Croy-li exchanged disgusted looks. Amaya hopped off of the gate and took the smaller jar from Croy-li, eyeing the mess inside.

“Um,” Croy-li said, glancing to Amaya. “What’s in it?” he asked.

“Just proteins needed to make up for your lack of appetite. It will help to keep your magic level. Your tutors mentioned that the two of you seem to be a bit unfocused and Arche Loralyn and King Khale both suggested that both of you have been missing meals.”

Amaya’s lip curled in disgust when she opened the jar and sniffed it. “Is the alternative death? I’ll take death,” she stated, trying to hand the jar back to Base, who wouldn’t take it. Croy-li took a tentative sniff of the green in the jar and quickly closed the top. Base shook his head at both of them.

“In the future, perhaps taking proper meals would help, but at the moment, you are both lacking in major nutrients. Also, your bodies are straining, so perhaps cutting down on the physical exertion would be a good idea, okay? I’m not going to ask what you’re doing, because I know you won’t tell me,” he was looking directly at Amaya, who looked at him blandly. “But I am also going to strongly suggest that whatever activities have been keeping you from resting adequately, keeping you from meals and eating away at your magic reserves, should stop for the foreseeable future.”

Amaya shrugged. “I will take that into consideration,” she stated, glancing to Croy-li, who was staring at the jar to keep from blurting anything.

“In the meantime, both of you have to drink the Green Sludge to make up for what you aren’t doing. And while I can’t force either of you to take this, I’m afraid I may have mentioned to a few people that I was giving you medicine to take daily for the next few months.”

Months?” Croy-li cried out, looking at Amaya, whose face scrunched up.

“Months,” Base confirmed. “Perhaps less if you take my advice. Longer if you don’t.”

“How do you know I need them?” Amaya countered. “Cole was in there, and look at him, he probably needs something. But me?”

“I keep track of you,” Base stated calmly before turning his attention back to Croy-li, who was weighing the jar between his hands. It was full of the green muck. “And you left some things I thought you might want returned.” He gestured to the small sack attached to the lip of the jar.

Once he opened it, Croy-li patted at his pockets. Yes, he had left his miniature electric fuser and the mouse toy. Seeing it, Amaya grabbed it out of his hand.

“You still have this?” she exclaimed, apparently forgetting all about the green muck. She stuck the jar under her arm as she studied the tiny robot.

“Well, yeah,” Croy-li said, rubbing the back of his head. “It was—”

“The first thing you made for me,” she said softly, smiling up at him. She abruptly turned to Base. “Have you seen this?” she asked, showing him the toy.

He smiled kindly at her, making Croy-li flush when he saw how unimpressed he was. “Yes, Lady Herald. It is very cute.”

“Cute? This thing shot off lasers when we were four.” She glanced to Croy-li when Base did. “What does it do now? Fly and drop explosives?”

Croy-li shrugged. “I was just trying to put it back together the way it was originally,” he said.

“But?” Amaya prompted.

“I think it scans for weapons. I don’t know where I messed up,” he said in exasperation.

Base plucked it up from Amaya’s hand, ignoring her indignation. She grinned and winked at Croy-li, making him think that had been her plan all along. The phantom studied the mouse for a few seconds before laughing softly. “I see,” he said before tilting his head at Croy-li. “You altered this to shoot lasers?” he asked in surprise.

Croy-li shrugged self-consciously. “It blew up after two,” he added.

“And you collected all the pieces and made them working again,” Amaya pointed out.

“But it still blew up,” Croy-li countered.

“Still impressive,” Base corrected. “Do you like computers?”

“He’s a technopath,” Amaya said, as if trying to sell Croy-li, because the boy was silent again, staring at Base in shock. “He loves computers. But mostly, he invents stuff. Cool stuff.”

“If you’d like, I could look at some of your inventions,” he offered, smiling at Croy-li’s dumbstruck expression. “I like to screen people before I let them into my lab,” he added, chuckling when Croy-li looked like he had shut down from shock.

Amaya looked from her friend to the white-haired phantom. “You have a lab?” she asked, genuinely curious. “What do you do?”

“For Thief’s sake, Aimy!” Croy-li exclaimed, looking at her exasperatedly. She looked at him expectantly, but Croy-li was suspicious. “You’ve been here for two years and never found out who he is?” She’d had enough time to figure out that he was a major inventor and the brain behind almost all the technology they had. In fact she should have known that given how many times the Thief Lord had wanted something from him.

Amaya shrugged. “He’s Bart,” she replied, looking to the phantom for backup, but he was leaving them.

“I hope to see you before you go home, Croy-li,” he threw over his shoulder to the boy who was categorically going through every invention Base had ever made, in order of importance. “And don’t forget to drink the Green Sludge.”

“So…he invents things,” Amaya interrupted him only a few clacks into his explanation.

Yes,” Croy-li responded. “Like your DS? He made the technology.”

“Wow, so he must be super smart.”

Croy-li gave a dramatic sigh. “Yes, Aimy. He’s smart.”

Previous  Chapter  Next

amadhay: (Default)

Christein woke up with no idea where he was. He was tired and confused and seeing his little cousin lying on top of him only made it worse. The last thing he remembered was fighting Hynnkel. He looked down to try to determine if that had been a nightmare or real, but he couldn’t get past his shirt being torn open. What had happened?

He sat up carefully, holding her against him gently. He frowned. It wasn’t like her to sleep through someone touching her.

“Amadhay?” he whispered to no response. “Amadhay? Wake up.”

She looked peaceful. He couldn’t remember the last time he had slept as peacefully as it seemed she was. He had to wonder how she did it. He had nightmares every night. He dreamed of the people he’d hurt for Arne Riff. He dreamed of his weakness, of not being able to keep Amadhay safe. He dreamed of his rejection. Then again, she didn’t have those problems. She didn’t share his memories or his failure. Maybe it was easier for her to sleep because she didn’t know what it felt like to be ruined.

Her entire body cringed, and then she was limp, her head lolling back as if she had no bones in her neck.

“Amadhay? Wake up. Please?” he pleaded, sitting her up into his arms so that he could see her face. She cringed again but this time, her hands moved, clutching for someone. Black shot off of her, encompassing Christein.

Christein froze instantly, panic lancing through him as he realized he no longer had his cousin in his arms. He could see something, something small. It was her, he realized with only the slightest relief. She lay curled up in a small ball, her hands covering her ears as if she were trying to block some noise out. She was scared. He couldn’t see what she was frightened of, only that she was. It was a tight fit where she was.

He was suddenly surrounded by light. He glanced down and saw his hands were smaller, much smaller. He was immediately sure that he knew where he was. He could feel Amadhay’s fear. It was overpowering. She couldn’t talk, couldn’t cry, couldn’t run or attack. She couldn’t do anything. She was at the mercy of the small room. It was closing in on her.

Then Christein was himself again, seeing baby Amadhay for the first time. Her tiny face was so scrunched up. Her hands were reaching out though, it seemed, to him.

And then it was gone. A new scene took its place. This time Christein knew what it was immediately. Three-year-old Amadhay pulled on his tail “Monkey!” she exclaimed happily. Just like then, he smiled and tried to correct her, but she was stubborn. “Monkey,” she decided, petting his tail. “Pretty Monkey.” He was smiling at her when it changed again.

Now his smile dropped off of his face when he was looking into the face of his father. He glanced down and sure enough there was a little Amadhay, staring in something between fear and anger. Riff backhanded Christein, making his head smack against the wall much too hard.

“Leave him alone!” cried the brave little girl right before she bit Riff’s leg hard enough to make the man scream. She dashed away to get to Christein. Christein tried to reach her before his father did, but as always he was too late and the little girl was grabbed away from him and shaken.

The image changed again, but this time it wasn’t a memory of a time long ago. This was only six years ago and a day he would never forget. He was leaning against a wall, smirking. He bopped the nine-year-old’s nose, which she responded to by punching him. When he tickled her, she laughed until Riff had entered the room with a man, his knot, and their son who was only a few years younger than Amadhay. Riff ordered her to kill them all. Amadhay had looked to him for guidance, for protection, but all he could do was shrug. He shrugged and handed Amadhay a knife. She had looked at him, her big blue eyes pleading, but he had looked away.

This time when the image shifted, Christein was back on the bed, his bare chest heaving and eyes wide. He let go of Amadhay and made a dash out of the room, his hand over his mouth. He made it to a bathroom just in time. As soon as he was in front of the toilet, he threw up everything in his stomach. Staring at the blood swirling down the drain as he flushed the toilet, he tried not to think of the memories Amadhay had just forced him to relive.

He went back to her bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed, putting his head in his hands. He was sick of missions that ended with him regenerating. He was so sick of feeling like he’d let Amadhay down. And he was sick to death of his brother. He opened his eyes when Amadhay made a pained sound. He started when her body shuddered violently on the bed.

He launched himself across the room. “Amadhay, hey!” he started shaking her in hopes she would wake up. “Wake the fuck up!”

Her eyes snapped open. “Monkey?” she asked, frowning. There was a strong confusion in her gaze until everything seemed to fall into place.

He hugged her tightly. “Don’t do that!” he yelled at her, making her confused again. “What in the Water is wrong with you?”

She shook her head in confusion. “Do what?” she asked, though she didn’t move from his hug. “Monkey, are you alright?”

“You’re sick, Amadhay, you need help.” Amadhay tensed when he said those words. He wondered what she thought he meant, but he continued before she could say anything. “You weren’t waking up. You were having seizures.” He pulled her even closer, resting his head on hers.

Amadhay swallowed. Christein enjoyed having his cousin in his arms. She closed her eyes and he simply enjoyed the comfort he felt at knowing she was safe with him. “It’s nothing to worry about.”

Christein closed his eyes too, feeling sick again, but this time it wasn’t a physical feeling. “But does it happen often?” he whispered.

Amadhay shrugged before she pressed her cheek against his chest. “Depends on what you call often,” she admitted. “You okay?” she asked him softly, looking up at him.

Christein opened his eyes slowly and looked down at her for a long moment. He saw the way she was looking at him with those big eyes and couldn’t help but remember when they were blue and hopeful. Back before he had failed her the first time. He let go of her and pushed her off of him gently. He picked his belt up off of the floor and started putting it on and re-buttoning the few buttons left on his shirt, completely ignoring her latter question.

“Do you have any food here?” he asked, looking around her room.

“Aw, Monkey,” she pouted instead of pushing the subject. “Why’d you hafta get dressed? I was enjoying the view,” she teased him.

When he gave her a less than amused look, she gave a small sigh before smiling at him. She edged off of her bed and dropped to her feet, tugging down the same shorts she’d been wearing the previous day. Both of them were very much aware of how much skin she was showing in her tiny shorts and torn tank top. Hs eyes were locked on the curve of her waist, where her shirt was so torn that it hardly covered anything and her sandy skin was stained with blood that he hoped was his. He should have told her to change and shower, but Christein chose not to say anything when she grabbed his hand.

“It’s my place, Monkey. ‘course there’s food. There’ll always be food for you here,” she told him. He thought about asking her why she would put it that way.

“What do you have?” he asked instead, smiling as he followed her. He didn’t want to give her any reason to decide against giving him food all the time.

“Dunno,” she responded after a moment of thought, shrugging her shoulders. “I buy whatever and throw it out when it gets bad.” She let go of him and gestured at the fridge.

He laughed uneasily, wondering what she ate then. “Works for me. Chances are you’ll have something I’ll eat. You know how I’m a picky eater.”

She nodded and shoved him toward the fridge. “Take what you want,” she ordered, settling herself on the dining table rather than one of her seats. She watched him.

Christein frowned when he opened the fridge. “Not much,” he stated.

Looking over his shoulder, she sighed. “Tricksy fridgey,” she muttered before hopping off of the table. She pushed Christein to the side and closed the fridge. Then she reopened it to reveal it to be much fuller than before. “There. That’s better, wouldn’t you say?” she asked him with a grin.

He blinked at her. “How did you do that?’ he asked warily.

She grinned. “My little secret,” she answered before hopping back onto the tabletop.

Instead of wondering why Amadhay’s fridge had an illusion on it, he listened to his stomach when it growled. Christein took out pita bread, cheese, and ham before sitting in one of the seats opposite to her. He made a sandwich, well aware that she was watching him with more worry than he wanted from her.

He kissed her cheek. “Thank you,” he told her sweetly before starting to eat.

She sighed dramatically. “You only like me when you’re getting something from me,” she accused, turning her back on him so that he wouldn’t see the expression on her face. But even without seeing her expression, he could tell that she meant what was supposed to be a joke.

He supposed he deserved that, given the way he had treated her since she had told him about her time with the Palnoki. She’d had the chance to get way from all of this, two chances in fact, and she had just given them up. It pissed him off, especially since she kept blaming him for her decisions, kept saying that she couldn’t keep him safe if she were with the Palnoki or hidden and safe with Nolando. He didn’t need her to keep him safe. It should’ve been the other way around. He should have shielded her from his father’s ambition. If he had, she wouldn’t have been dealing with the horrible things she had to do to survive the life she was living.

“Not true,” he told her, leaning forward until he could hook her side and drag her back across the table, to him. She didn’t make it easy, giving him absolutely no help, but it didn’t stop him. He pressed his face against her side comfortingly, smirking when he felt her relax at his touch. “I like you all the time.”

“Liar,” she muttered, still trying her hardest not to look at him.

Christein stretched upwards and stood. Where they had been closer to the same height with them both seated at different levels, he now towered over her again. He pulled her to him so that he could hug her from behind and she all but melted. He thought about all the things he wanted to say to her, but didn’t.

“What about something to drink?” he asked, before adding jokingly. “Got any alcohol?”

She smiled, nodding her head. “Yup, cupboard next to the fridge,” she told him.

He raised an eyebrow at her. “What kind?” he asked, before finishing his sandwich.

“Dunno,” she answered evasively. She shrugged, tucking hair behind her ear in an action Christein knew meant that she wasn’t telling him something. “I just buy stuff. I dunno what I buy,” she lied to him.

He faked a laugh and let go of her, moving to the cabinet. Opening it, he was vaguely surprised by the sheer variety of alcoholic drinks the 15-year-old had stashed in her place. He wasn’t even aware that she drank outside of the court functions. Actually, he was almost positive that she didn’t drink, including at the court functions. Alcohol bothered her Gift, which he knew from the one time he’d convinced her to take a swig of rose wine with the celebratory meal he and Ben had made for her after her induction into the Phoegani three years ago. So why did she have so much?

Why did she have so much of everything?

“You’re so lucky,” he whispered, just coming to terms with the sheer magnitude of it all. Life seemed to be falling into place for her just as it was falling apart for him. “You get your own place, your own life…everything.” He clenched his fists, staring at her drinks. They were all unopened and most were either gingerbread or peppermint flavored. He couldn’t help but wonder why she was stockpiling alcohol. They weren’t even good for cleaning or burning, only drinking.

“Yeah, if you say so,” she muttered. She crossed her arms over her chest, looking younger than she had in quite some time.

He looked back at her for a long moment, frowning. Silently, he grabbed one of the unopened peppermint vodka bottles and closed the cabinets, moving to her side. He uneasily sat on the table beside her, watching as she gave him a weary smile. “What’s wrong?” he asked softly.

“What do you mean?” she asked with wide eyes, faking another smile. This one slipped off of her face quickly when he didn’t buy it.

Christein took a long swig of the alcohol, making a face at the burn. She was hiding something from him and he would admit that it bothered him. She had never bothered to hide anything from him before he had failed her and the Palnoki had taken her. He couldn’t help but worry that she had lost her faith in him.

He sighed, shaking his worries off and deciding that getting her to open up required regaining her trust. He had never thought that he could lose it. “If I tell you what’s wrong with me, will you tell me what’s wrong with you?”

He stared at her as she stared at him, a strangely calculating expression crossing her face. It disappeared and then she was sitting on his lap, looking much too young. “Go ahead,” she urged him.

He wondered if she knew what she did to him. Deciding that she couldn’t, that he was the only fucked up one, he took another long swig of the alcohol before handing the bottle to her. She gave it an experimental sniff before setting it away from them as he leaned back to sprawl on the table. She stayed on his lap.

“I’m sick,” he said softly.

“Sick how?” she immediately countered. She looked like she was considering lying down with him, but stayed sitting upright.

“Sick as in I don’t know how many more times my body will heal before just shutting down. Sick as in my body is fighting me every moment of the day. I can hardly eat anything without being sick. I’m barely sleeping anymore. Sick…just sick, Mayday.” He finished it with a self-mocking smile and a shrug.

He got a kind of sick pleasure from watching her eyes widen. If he didn’t know her better, hadn’t known that she hadn’t truly cried since she was eight, he would have thought the sheen to her eyes was her holding back tears. “Sick as in…death?” she asked falteringly.

He shrugged again as if it didn’t matter. “Don’t know. They won’t tell me.” Both of them knew that ‘they’ meant their superiors in the Phoegani such as his father. “I’m just sick. I’ve been thinking that maybe…” he trailed off and glanced at her and quickly closed his eyes. She looked so young, younger than she had in years, actually. Her looking that young is what kept him from continuing.

She didn’t understand that he was doing it for her. “No, maybe what?” she demanded, leaning forward so their faces were closer.

His eyes snapped open, willing her to move back even though he didn’t want her to. “None of your damn business,” he snapped. That made her sit up slowly. “Why should you care if I live or die?” he spat nastily, knowing that it was a low blow and completely unfair to her, but still needing to hear the answer.

Amadhay scoffed, dropping off the table. “I don’t know. Why should I care?” she responded sarcastically, turning her back on him. “Maybe because you’re the only one in our family who doesn’t either think I’m dead, want me dead, or try to run my life for me. Maybe because you’re one of the few people who at least pretends to care about me.” She abruptly turned back to him. He eyed her warily, though he didn’t sit up. “Maybe because you’re my best friend or because I don’t want you to die because I can’t imagine my life without you. Maybe because I—” she cut herself off abruptly, avoiding looking at him now. “Nevermind,” she said, turning away to leave the room.

Christein sat up, his arm reaching out fully to grip her arm. “Now hold up one damn clack!” he exclaimed, scrambling for purchase. “We made a deal,” he reminded her, knowing that she always tried to hold to her promises. Her word was her bond. “What’s wrong with you?”

She scoffed. “You couldn’t tell?” she sneered. “Something keeps attacking me in my sleep. Food is unappealing. I’m tired all the time because I have to keep using my gift to keep myself from being killed and none of the energy is coming back to me.” She paused and took a breath, still facing away from him. “And I don’t know if you noticed, but I was kidnapped right from my home, in broad daylight, by our worst enemy and held captive for six months. Since then, I’ve failed more missions than I have in my life. My Gift is getting harder to use the more exhausted I get and my magic is practically running on ebbs nowadays.” He chose not to mention that her ebbs was still more power than most people held in their entire bodies. She wasn’t finished yet.

She jerked herself from him. “And despite getting this nice little house all to myself as an apology for letting me get kidnapped right on base, I feel really alone. I feel like they shoved me here so that when Atlas decides he wants me again, he can just come. He sends me gifts, Monkey. He knows I’m here. I get notes from him in my bed.” She was shaking.

That made him jump off of her table and hold her close. “That bastard isn’t going to get you again, Mayday. I swear.”

Next Chapter
amadhay: (Default)
 in which amadhay meets darach



Just as she had expected, Christein was outside of the Interrogation Department, waiting for her.

Snatching her mask off, she grabbed him before he knew she was behind him, making him flinch purely on instinct. She hugged him from behind, thinking about her mask for a moment and forcing her cousin to turn his head at what had to be an uncomfortable angle to look back and down at her. There was something strange about the way Atlas looked at her.

“Monkey! Darach Devalier. Atlas’ll give me more if I bring him in. But…” She trailed off as she realized what bothered her. Atlas was looking at her the same way he did when they were both at parties and he didn’t know she was looking. Though she didn’t want to believe it was possible, given that Atlas knew that Arne Riff was Lord Phoenagis, proven when he hadn’t reacted to her purposeful slip up in using her uncle’s first name, rather than his title. Atlas knew who she was. That was a rather frightening thought.

She shifted to stand in front of him when Christein gave her an impatient grunt to imply that she should move. She gave a shrug, pushing the situation with her identity to the back of her mind to focus back on the current problem. She gave a meek smile before admitting the problem. “I have no clue where he’d be.”

“Darach? I know Darach. He’s the head of the whole Information Department. I have to report to him a lot.” A man with black hair in a long braid became visible next to them, his headphones radiating soft music. He had a tendency to sneak up on them like that and Amadhay honestly still couldn’t tell how he did it with music playing yet not have them notice. He still refused to tell her, which was just as frustrating as it had been for the past three years, since it had the potential to make her even better at her job. For a moment, Amadhay wondered why he was even in this part of the building, before coming up with the only likely conclusion: he’d been looking for them for some reason.

Christein scowled at him, attempting to grab Amadhay’s arm, though she easily sidestepped him. “Ben, will you shut up? She asked me, not you.”

Benjy turned his music up loudly as he turned on his heel, walking backwards down the hall away from the interrogation rooms. “What? Sorry, can’t hear you,” he called as he headed off, but just as he started to turn the corner, he called back to her, “Info Depo’s this way, Amadhay.”

Amadhay wiggled her fingers over her shoulder in a wave to Christein, calling, “By the way, there’s a puddle of kitten pee I need you to clean in there,” back to him as she caught up with Benjy.

 Benjy waited until he was sure she was following him to add, “Which you would know if you actually followed the rules and reported your mission findings.”

She made a face as she grabbed his arm and linked hers with his. “I do too report my findings,” she argued. “To you and Monkey and Lord Phoeganis. I figure if it’s important enough, someone else reports the rest.”

The phantom rolled his dark eyes. “Dolt,” he told her fondly, “Now they’ll think you’re a new recruit or something.”

She grinned up at him. “What they don’t know can’t hurt me,” she teased before giving him a look that meant she needed to pick his brain. “Do most people report directly to Darach?” she asked, wondering if it was strange that Atlas wanted him. She had honestly never heard of a Darach Devalier in the Phoegani, and it bothered her that he would know someone that she didn’t. So, really, this was her trying to determine if Darach was well known, or if she should be wary that Atlas was asking for specific people.

“No,” Benjy answered, tilting his head to tell her to turn left. “He’s under Lord Phoeganis and the same level as Head of Delegations and Head of Procedure.” He paused, giving Amadhay an interested look. “So it’s strange that Lord Palnoki would want him.”

“That’s what I thought,” she admitted, “I’ve never heard of Darach.”

“And the only reason I know Darach is because I’m the Voice of the Masses.” He opened an unmarked door that she assumed led to the Department of Information Requisition. “And, of course because I’m the one they send on all the most important information retrieval missions.”

“Like they used to send me on the good ol’ bloody missions,” she countered, feeling decidedly glum. She was tired of boring missions. It had been three weeks of locating and scoping missions. This was the first mission she’d had since Madra that wasn’t the absolute worst. Which was surprising, considering that she had been pretty sure, going in, that it was a suicide mission.

“Oh yeah,” Benjy said, steering her by the arm down a long hallway with far too many doors. “What happened to Madra? I thought you had to go there?”

She flinched slightly at the reminder of the botched job that had her on interrogation duty. “Noneya,” she replied as good-naturedly as she could, not really wanting to talk about it.

“Oh,” Benjy said, eyeing her closely for a moment before he squinted at her. “So you met someone?” he asked cautiously, turning his music down low enough that she couldn’t hear it anymore, though he kept the headphones covering his ears.

Her first question was why he wanted to know. Her second was why he would assume she met someone from that short of an answer. She didn’t ask either. She really didn’t want to talk about this.

“Maybe,” she said sweetly, giving him a faked giggle and a small shrug. The image of Lizu flashed before her eyes. She hugged Benjy’s arm tighter.

“What does he look like?” he asked casually.

She gave a real giggle this time. “A girl.”

“Eh? Really?” he laughed, “Didn’t think of you like that.”

Amadhay gave him a soft shove. “You know you’re still my only,” she teased.

“That’s a downright lie,” he snorted.

She giggled, letting go of his arm and waiting until he was looking at her to flutter her eyelashes prettily. “Well you’re still my favorite,” she flirted.

“Only because I put up with you,” he replied casually as they reached the information desk.

Amadhay gave him a side-glance. While that was incredibly true, she wasn’t sure that she was comfortable with him recognizing the truth in the statement. “So where’s this Darach?” she asked him, changing the subject. Then she added, “And what should I say to convince him to come with me?”

“I heard my name?”

The duo turned to stare at the tall man who stood in the doorway just off from the empty main desk. He was as pale as Atlas, yet with black hair and eyes. A single gold streak was swept from the front to the back of his hair. His suit was impeccable and when Amadhay gave him an admiring look, she could feel the strength of the distaste Benjy threw at him.

Benjy nodded down at Amadhay. “She has a message for you.”

Darach’s pitch-black eyes flickered over Amadhay and she felt as though she were being carefully categorized on sight. He licked his thin lips. “I’ve never seen you before. But you’re not new, are you?” He gave a smile, but it did nothing to diminish the feeling she got from him. It was like he was missing something. She barely suppressed a shiver at the sight of his teeth, razor sharp and in two perfect rows.

She critically went over her own appearance in her mind, not looking away from him, to determine if she was presentable for him, and to try to decide how he was most likely categorizing her. Tight black sneakpants, creaseless and unwrinkled, she was someone who was regularly in the field, moving around and needed her pants to be more like a second skin so they wouldn’t inhibit her in any way but would save her skin from needing grafts if she went skidding. Black ankle boots, low heeled and zipped to the top with the bottoms of the sneakpants tucked in, she was vain and liked the idea of fashion, while still being functional. She hadn’t been out in her preferred field today, too clean. Red top, long sleeved and tight enough to show off her curves, meaning she used seduction as one of her preferred methods. Sleeves loose enough to hide blades and telltale bumps to imply that she was armed, dangerous. No mask, but a single ribbon, red, holding her hair back in a ponytail at the center of her head. Perfectionist and well-known.

She felt quickly to be sure that the bow was centered, with equal ribbon hanging on either side. She saw him take that in and the briefest lights of knowledge coming to him. She wondered if it was the need for symmetry or the red that gave away her identity, but she knew the moment he knew that she was the Phoegani’s assassin Red Robin and Lord Phoeganis’ protégée, Amadhay.

She smiled. Her crimson eyes locked onto Darach’s and she entwined her fingers together in front of her. “I was hoping that you would come with me to an interrogation room where I’m holding Atlas Palnoki. He asked, specifically, for you.”

Darach’s eyebrows shot up. “Ar-Atlas? Atlas Palnoki? What is he doing here? I’ll come.”

His slip up wasn’t missed by either of the other two. Benjy made a pointed noise for her attention while Amadhay only narrowed her eyes the barest of a fraction for a split click. She kept her smile firmly on her lips. “I brought him in today for questioning,” she alerted the man, turning on her heel.

Darach moved from his doorway to follow her. “Ah…? Really? Interesting,” he paused, glancing at Benjy once more before making after Amadhay, who hadn’t paused. “He’s probably extremely bored now.”

“He is,” she answered, before pouting dramatically. “And he won’t talk to me anymore.”

“But he asked for me? Figures.”

Amadhay wasn’t sure what to make of that, merely looking back to him with a smile. “Mmmhmm. So come along, will you?” she suggested, implying that he could move faster.

‘Don’t trust him,’ she caught Benjy mouth out of the corner of her eye. She turned on her heel and appeared before him, giving him a chaste kiss on the cheek before whispering, “Do I ever?”

And then she was back before Darach, leading him to the interrogation room. Benjy smiled after her and shook his head, but then he decided to follow them, slowly. She didn’t mind.

Next Chapter


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