After Knocking Over Pieces
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Cya answered the door when he knocked, looking something between amused and annoyed. “You live here now,” she pointed out, in a tone of voice that, in someone else, Luke might think meant strained patience.
With Cya, he didn’t think he could assume even that. He shifted from foot to foot, hating himself for doing it but not able to stop the shamefaced way he wanted to grovel and hide at the same time.
“It’s your house,” he tried, aiming for a gruff voice.
She raised her eyebrows at him. His wings twitched and he shifted his stance to a broader, more stable one.
“It is,” he pointed out. “I don’t want to intrude.”
Cya grabbed his collar.
She moved slowly, so he had no excuse for not stopping her if he wanted to; she made her moves clear, so he could see what she was doing, and she almost exaggerated them, such that he felt a pull before she even had her fingers under the front of the metal around his neck. Luke held still and let her; the moment she had hold of his collar, he leaned into her pull a little bit.
In the back of his mind, he was mantling and scowling and growling. They weren’t in private; they were on the doorstep of the Mayor of Cloverleaf, on the front porch. Anyone could walk by and see them! He was pretty sure there were people walking by: neighbors, people who might see him again, people who might know her.
Everyone knew her, he reminded himself. His body was following the tug of the collar with a sort of self-determination that normally only happened in training routines and high-sky flying. He ought to be worried about that, probably. He might be worried about it later, probably when he was back at Leo’s, glaring at the map again.
Right now his cheeks were burning, his throat felt like it was on fire where she’d touched him, and he had no idea what to do with his hands.
“You belong to me.” Cya’s voice seemed to sear itself into his consciousness, even though she was telling him something he already knew.
He tried to protest that. “I was there, you know. I made the agreement with you.”
“I know. And yet I don’t think you’ve quite figured it out yet. You belong to me. My home is your home. My will is your will. Got it?”
He flapped angrily. “I’m not some wayward child!”
“No. But you are doing a very bad job of remembering Kept 101. And if I have to hammer it home by embarrassing you, I will, Hunting Hawk.”
Luke folded his wings tight as a surge of unhappiness washed over him. “I’m not an idiot,” he muttered.
“Not at all.” She tugged him into her living room and threw a broad throw pillow on the floor in front of her couch. “Kneel.” She released his collar. “We’re going to talk over some stuff.”
He flapped – and knelt. “This isn’t why I came back, to get yelled at.”
“It never is. Well, all right, once in a long while, someone actually likes being yelled at. Tell me, why did you come back?”
“Leo ordered me to.” The words were out before he could think about them. Luke glowered at her as she sat down in front of him. “Why did you do that?”
“Because I didn’t want you to have time to come up with a lie. All right. Thing one: This is your home.”
Luke’s wings twitched. “No. This is your home. I have a home.”
“Do you? A house that’s yours, a threshold to call your own?”
Luke started to say something, and then sighed. “Not anymore.” He hadn’t had a house that was his since before this girl had been conceived.
“Good. Step one, there we go. Step two…. this one’s going to take a while.”
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