First: A beginning of a story which obnoxiously cuts off just before the description,
Previous: In Which Mieve is Uncertain and Unhappy.
Amrit stalked to the garage behind her — behind his captor, because she refused to be something else. She was scared. He could tell. He ought to be happy about that, but it was just making him more angry.
He handed her the turkey piece by piece and snarled the Workings at the fridge that would keep the inside cold for a while, adding three large blocks of ice to the freezer. The thought made him smirk, even through his fury. “Icebox,” he muttered. “Height of Betty Boop technology.”
She snickered. “At least you don’t have to carry it up the stairs.”
“Yeah, well.” He shifted his weight uncertainly. “What now?”
“Now, I’m going to cook up the leg I put aside, and we’re going to have that with dinner. And cake.” She sounded defensive about the cake. Who was defensive about cake? Who was defensive to their slaves? “Thanks… for the turkey. It’ll be good food.”
“Yeah, well.” Was she mad at him or happy with him? Amrit rolled his shoulders. “What do I need to do for dinner?”
“Just clean up. Unless, uh. Unless you want to play heat source for the pan?”
“You’ve got the stove, right?”
“I have a limited amount of stove fuel. I could heat up the wood stove, but…”
It wasn’t that cold out, not really. “I can do it Just give me a couple minutes to clean up?”
“Yeah, of course. I’ll get everything prepared.”
What was up with her, anyway? She was pleased with him, she was apologetic, she was angry, she was… Amrit eyed her sidelong. She had hormones, he was sure, but he was pretty sure this wasn’t some sort of fae PMS.
He washed his hands like he was prepping for surgery, and then washed them — and his arms, all the way to the shoulder — again, just to give himself something to do. His shirt wasn’t all that dirty, but he left it off to let his arms dry off.
She had everything waiting for him, so he sat down at the table, ignoring her far-too-thoughtful gaze on him. “Low, medium, high?”
“High at first, and then the best all-over medium you can do. Do you need a new shirt?”
“What, you keep a clothing store in your garage?” He’d been in her garage. He hadn’t seen anything of the sort.
“I have a few shirts and such in my closet. There’s some in your closet, too,” she answered, a little uncertainly. “Most of it ought to fit you okay.”’
Amrit didn’t want to think too closely about that. He did the Workings to make the pan hot just where he wanted it hot, and held it in the air, the turkey leg sizzling.
“You have people just run out naked?” The more reasonable answer was she killed them and buried them in her garden, but that didn’t really seem like her.
“Not naked. But.. Sometimes they don’t stop for a change of clothes.” She looked away. “And, uh, sometimes I trade for stuff and it doesn’t fit me well or at all, but I know there’s going to be someone new that it might fit eventually.” She swallowed. He watched her throat work, and wondered what she was worried about.
“And… when people attack here, I mean, it doesn’t happen often, but I make sure they don’t tell anyone else about this place.”
Amrit looked at her over the crackling turkey leg. “I’m not going to be bothered by wearing dead man’s clothes,” he told her levelly, “as long as there’s not still blood and bullet-holes in them. It wouldn’t be the first time. Hell, these pants, I got them out of someone’s house. Not sure if they’re alive or dead. It’s the end of the world, you know?”
“I know. Most of the stuff I trade for, it’s about the same, you know, might be something from a store, more likely something from a house. I don’t ask where the scroungers get their stuff. And they don’t ask me questions, either.”
She was babbling. She was nervous. Amrit stared at the pan for a moment and muttered a series of fine-tuning Workings. He didn’t need to do them, but it let him concentrate on something other than her worried voice.
He rolled his shoulders, stared at the pan some more, and did a couple more Workings. “I’m not great at, you know, repairing Worked things. If I was, I figure I’d either be set for life or chained up in a sweatshop somewhere, which, I suppose, is also set for life.” He smiled crookedly at her. “I could use a shirt. I could use a shower,” he admitted. “Or a bath. I kind of smell.”
For some reason, that got her to smile. She turned away for a moment, as if she didn’t want him to see her smile – did she ever make any sense at all? “You get used to it. But bath, that’s easy, especially seeing as you can do the whole heating thing.” She settled down into a chair and seemed to force herself to look at him. “Thank you. For the turkey.”
He rolled his shoulders. “You said that already.”
“Yeah, well. It’s important?” She took a couple breaths. What was wrong with her? “Thank you for the promises, too. I know you didn’t have to do it. And I know you didn’t do it just to get the gag off.”
“Not gonna keep the gag off anyway, is it?” She was making him antsy. He made himself look at her.
“Well.” She smiled crookedly. “I could ask you to be Mine again.”
“You know what I’d say.” He knew what he’d say, too. Didn’t he? He cleared his throat. “I’m not the rules sort. Not the Keeping sort.”
“I know. But you’ll make promises?”
“Easy to make promises not to attack you.” The turkey was almost done. Good. That would give them something else to talk about.
“Even though…” She looked down at her hands.
“Look.” Amrit sighed. “You didn’t enslave me. You bought someone you expected to be already Kept, nice and wrapped up in a ribbon for you. I wasn’t, and I’m not going to be sorry for that but I get why you kept the gag on and the chains and stuff. And the leg – relax about the leg. I’ve had worse than that. Seriously. I forgive you, if there was any forgiving to happen, you have it. You don’t need it; you told me exactly what was going to happen and then you did it.” Now he was babbling. What was wrong with him?
She looked at him for a minute. “Time to take the turkey down to a very low heat, okay?”
“What… yeah.” He did the Workings and surrounded the turkey in a ball of heat before setting it, carefully, on the stove. “That should hold it.”
“Thank you.” She shifted in her seat, staring at him.
Amrit sighed. It might just be easier for her to put the gag back in.
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