Written to inventrix‘s prompt
Mike hadn’t done many of these new student pick-ups – Luke didn’t quite trust him to be adult about it, and he didn’t have the travelling resources that, say, Laurel did – but Tzivyah’s extended, adoptive family were friends of his from his wild days in the seventies and eighties, and the girl herself was a strange case. There hadn’t been a peep on Shira’s radar, to the point where they’d thought that she wouldn’t Change at all without serious prodding, not a whisper from either of the sensitives they employed in the Village, and then all three of them, at once, had come to Regine’s office. Yesterday. Pounding on the door. Insisting that right now, right now someone had to go get Tzivyah.
When your clairvoyant, your clairsensitive and your precognitive agree that urgently, someone goes, right then.
Mike had enlisted the help of a teleporter to drop him outside of town. It was a risk – everyone was very touchy about fae right now, and teleportation was very obviously fae – but Shira had been breathing down his neck so badly he’d thought she might end up getting carried along in the teleport.
Ten feet away from the drop spot, he understood why. Screams were echoing through the small farm community, screams and shouts and pleas. Mike broke into a run. He should have brought Luke. He should have brought Shira. He should have brought an army.
He had himself. The screaming was too far away, and yet it was too close. His skin crawled. Humans could be awful, awful people sometimes – people could be awful people. Mike had broken into a run before he knew it.
Too far, too far. He muttered one Working after another, making himself faster, tougher. He could get there. He had to get there. The screaming was only getting louder and more intense. Someone was panicking, someone was in pain. Not the same someone, probably.
He skidded into a clearing between three buildings. The noise was unbearably loud here, something like twenty people gathered together and all of them panicking. The last time he’d been here, there’d been a quiet fireside orgy going no. Now…
He pulled himself up to his current full height, muttered a Working to deepen his voice a bit, and borrowed Luke’s best teacher voice. “What is going on here?”
He was only a little surprised when it worked. Four people stood up, two worried and reaching for weapons, the other two looking for someone to fix things. He recognized one of them as Tzivyah’s adoptive father.
“Can you help? Someone has to help, please. Make them stop. Make it stop.”
Mike walked towards them with a brusque stride he’d borrowed from Luke. “What’s the problem?”
Tzivyah’s father – Donald, his name was Donald – and the other concerned-looking man began pushing and cajoling the crowd out of the way. “This is Mike Linden-Flower,” Donald explained. “He knows about this sort of thing. He can help.”
“‘Knows about this sort of thing.’” The weapon-wielder on the left was snarling and unimpressed. “You mean he’s one of them.”
Donald raised his chin in defiance. “No. I mean he’s always been one of us. And he knows about this sort of thing. She’s hurting. And they’re…”
Mike’s stomach twisted. Three women were holding down another woman, a young woman that had to be Tzivyah. A fourth was leaning over her with a saw. “What the hell?” he shouted.
The woman with the saw stood up. “They’re hurting her. And they’ll kill her. The horns, the protrusions, they’re causing her pain. And if we don’t cut them off, those people, people out there, they’ll kill her.”
Mike muttered under his breath, both swearing at the madness of people and making himself stronger. “So you’d maim her, torture her? No.” He scooped the girl up in his arms. “Hang in there, kiddo,” he murmured, just loud enough for her to hear. She had bony protrusions coming out everywhere, and the ones that had been cut were leaking ichor. “I’m going to get you somewhere safer, and help you deal with this, okay?”
He waited only long enough for a tiny nod before raising his voice for the crowd. “She is coming with me. And nobody is going to stop me.”
There were benefits in being able to sway the mood of an entire mob. If later they told themselves that the devil had taken Tzivyah, that was fine. Tzivyah would have been taken, and she would be safe.
Mike cuddled her as carefully as he could, muttering Working after Working to heal her ills as he strode out of the village.
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