Content warning for more … post-trauma magical thinking. I really don’t know what to call it but Ahouva’s brain is not a fun place to be and she’s not very nice to herself.
Out the back door of the classroom, down a side hallway, if she turned left here she could make it to the place where they went outside for kaana lessons. She planned out her route, even as she examined Basalt’s orders – and not just the very few he made orders directly, but all the other things he said that didn’t force obedience, just tested it.
She didn’t have an direct rules about where she should be after class, but he had said “I’ll meet you after your class.” That could just be courtesy, but it was probably a test. Probably a test she was in the process of failing. Just because Calvin creeped her out. Bad girl.
Chastising herself: she knew better. She knew to do what she was told. If she did what she was told, Basalt would at least have less reason to be unhappy with her, to punish her. He hadn’t punished her yet, except these lists, but that just meant it would be horrid when he finally did.
She slowed down and, forcing her feet to keep going, turned around. She had to go back. It was the only chance she had at understanding what he wanted of her. It was her only chance of minimizing her punishm-
“Ow! You bastard!” Ahouva stopped inside the doorway again, trying to stay hidden and still listen. That was Calvin, wasn’t it?
“If you ever,” Basalt’s voice was low and menacing, a rumble like a volcano about to erupt, “say anything like that where Ahouva can hear you, I will break more than your nose, you pissant little piece of shit. You leave my Kept alone.”
“You can’t get away with this shit.”
“Watch me. Bring your useless little friends, and I’ll bring my friends, and we’ll see how that goes.” He was terrifying. She pressed herself against the doorway and tried to become invisible. “Get out of here. I don’t want her to have to deal with you.”
“Now now, you aren’t. Get out of here.” Ahouva heard someone walking away, hurrying away, what a wonderful idea. She should…
No, she shouldn’t. She made herself smile faintly as Basalt rounded the corner, and stopped, frowning.
Frowning. Frowning was bad. She took an involuntary step backwards. “I’m sorry?”
“I didn’t want you to hear that.” He wiped his hand on his jeans, leaving a wet streak on the black denim. Ahouva gulped, and stepped back again, cursing herself as Basalt’s frown deepened. “‘Who, I’m sorry. Believe me, I didn’t want you to hear that.”
“I believe you,” she answered dully.
“Oh, balls, honey, come here,” he grumbled, holding out a hand. Unwillingly, she reached out for his hand, putting her fingers over his fingers. “Ahouva, Calvin is a grade-A asshole. I don’t want him bothering you. What are you…?”
“This stupid list,” she muttered, scribbling in it. “It’s still after class and…”
He peered over her shoulder. “Oh. Well. Let’s go talk about that, okay?”
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