Regine had practice remaining calm in the face of volatile personalities. She had plenty of practice, in fact, with this particular volatile personality; she and Luca had been working together, alongside Michael, for centuries.
It did not, thus, particularly faze her when Luke glared at her with another wide flap of his wings, although she did note that he must be particularly upset, as he normally was more mindful of her paperwork.
“We are doing good here, Luca,” she repeated, “both for our students and for the world.”
“Tell that to the ones that we don’t catch in time.” It came out as a snarl; that was a little excessive even for Luca. Regine allowed her eyes to drift down to the papers for a brief moment. “No, wait, don’t. I don’t think I could stand to watch you preach that sanctimonious bullshit to someone who’s stuck in a bad Keeping.”
“Luca.” Regine coughed, an altogether unnecessary affectation, but, then, she was not a robot, no matter what some people would suggest. “When we started this project, you understood the difficulties, and you agreed with its necessity.” She pushed a pile of papers forward. “The statistics suggest that sixty-three percent of these students would not be alive if it were not for our school.”
“Try telling that to one of your children after they’ve been raped, why don’t you?” Luke’s snarl had gone to a growl. “Oh, wait.” He wasn’t flapping anymore. For some reason, Regine found that worrisome. “Your kids somehow never end up with that sort of problem.”
“Luca, just because a child is of our bloodline is no reason to let ourselves become distractible. It is important to remain unbiased…”
And yet, his wings did not flare. His feet were spread a little bit apart, his hands were easy at his sides, and his wings were staying folded against his back.
That, Regine realized, with something of chill in her heart, was battle stance. And despite the shout of his profanity, his voice was otherwise quiet: conserving energy.
She didn’t think he would continue, but once again, he surprised her.
“It isn’t our job to remain unbiased, Regine. It isn’t our job to treat these children as subjects, separated by their Changes and genealogy and nothing else. If we’d wanted to do that – if you’d wanted to do that – you shouldn’t have sold it as a school.”
He took a step forward. It took every ounce of Regine’s not-inconsiderable self-control to not back up. “But we did. And we have been selling it as a school for generations now. As such.” He rolled his shoulders and his head before continuing. “As such, Regine, it is our responsibility to treat these students as people.
“As Students.” He continued, with another step forward. “Not just because they are our children – because you made damn sure each and every one of us contributed to the project so that we’d stay emotionally invested, didn’t you?”
“Yes.” There was no shame in that.
“Yes.” His mimic sounded angry, for all of that. “Not just because these children are our family, Regine, but because we are their teachers and Mentors.”
His voice dropped into something low and smokey. Regine could not, for a moment, remember where she had heard it before.
“This is what we’re going to do, Regine.” He’d taken another step forward. If he had a weapon, he could be skewering her with it about now. “You are going to take Students. A full cy’ree, every year. Starting now; I’m sure we can rearrange things.”
Ah, yes. That’s where she’d heard the voice. Regine swallowed.
“Students.” She tried not to sound nervous; she failed. That was interesting.
“And you are going to teach a class. A full rotation class, every day. Don’t give me shit about your responsibilities, Regine; the world is over. There’s a lot fewer people to manipulate than there used to be.”
Regine nodded. “As you wish it.” The last time she’d heard Luke talk like that, people had died.
A large number of people.
“If you feel that will help.”
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