Senga shifted herself between Allayne and Erramun quickly. “Don’t kill her, either,” she whispered. “Allayne, this is Erramun, sa’Death Comes Silently, a former associate of my great-Aunt Mirabella’s and, ah, currently, thanks to Great-Aunt Mirabella, my Kept, my bond servant. Oh, we got the Manor, too.”
Allayne looked Erramun up and down. “Forget the Manor, your aunt gave you a man? How do I get to be part of your family?”
“Generally,” Erramun answered, with a dangerous rumble to his voice and an obvious lack of being impressed by Allayne, “by losing some of your current family, often violently. At least, that’s what seemed to happen to Senga here. Sa-” He frowned down at her. “You can’t call me sa’, you own me. And I can’t call you sa’, I don’t know your name.”
“You seriously Own him. You Own him. You went to a funeral and came back with a man. Only you, Senga, only you. I told you you should have taken me with you.” Allayne clucked cheerfully. “Well, hello to you, Erramun oro’Senga. And if she wants to call you sa’, I wouldn’t argue with her. She had a fun sense of protocol. Probably comes from growing up with Mirabella as family matriarch. I know that would make me absolutely crazy, and I think Senga here just sublimated it into some strange manners.”
Senga coughed. Erramun looked a little off-put and a little confused. Allayne often had that effect on people she wasn’t in the middle of hooking in.
“Allayne. I survived the funeral, I have to figure out relocated Erramun and then relocating us to the Manor-”
“-you have a bond servant now. Delegate. He can figure out how to move himself, he can figure out getting us into the Manor, and then you and I can gossip about your horrible cousins.”
“She has a point,” Erramun pointed out. “I can get my stuff.”
“You don’t have a car here.”
“You are…“ He trailed off, turning a slightly-funny color, and bowed. “I’m sorry. My temper got away with me.”
“That was your temper getting away with you?” Allayne asked. “I mean, man, I can see it, you shouted and threw shit and-”
“Erramun,” Senga asked carefully, “what am I missing?”
“Other ways of getting from one place to another,” he answered, and then frowned.
“You know -” she trailed off. He wouldn’t thank her for talking about the way the Bond was pressing on him in front of Allayne. He probably wouldn’t like it even when they were alone. “If you want to go get your things on your own, you can feel free to do so. Be back before dark, and if you have more than will fit here and in the garage, we’ll have to work something out.”
“I don’t have much.” He bowed and left – presumably before she could give him any more orders.
Senga spent the next hour fending off questions from Allayne she didn’t want to answer, packing up as much of her stuff as she could, fending off questions from Chitter once Allayne had gone there, and trying to remember Monmartin Hill Manor.
She’d been very young when they moved out – not quite to her fifth birthday – and she remembered mostly the feeling of being torn from a place rather than many details. The closets had been huge for a four-year old. The whole place had been bigger than she could even fathom at that point.
Putting all of her team in there was still not going to fill it.
Maybe she could put Erramun on the far side of the building. That would make him happy.
No. She folded another set of dresses into a garment bag. No, it wouldn’t actually make him happy; that wasn’t how being a bound servant worked. He’d think he was happy right up to the point where he was screamingly miserable, and then it would echo through the building.
No, she’d accepted responsibility for him; she was going to have to actually accept him, one way or another.
She was in the middle of packing up a box of weapons when he stomped back into her room. He was carrying three large duffle bags and wearing a glower – as well as older jeans and a t-shirt. He looked at once more comfortable and less.
“This is it.” He hesitated, and then said, when she didn’t question him, “I put three boxes in storage with a friend of mine. Stuff – I don’t want anyone else getting their hands on.”
“Anyone but your friend.” She wasn’t offended, she told herself sternly. He didn’t even know her. Of course he didn’t trust her.
“He won’t open them and he won’t touch ‘em without my permission. He’s a good friend.” He smirked crookedly. “Offered to kill you for me.”
Senga tensed, and tried not to show it. She could tell he noticed from the way his smirk shifted. She was really going to have to up her game around him.
He snorted. “I said no. The day I can’t handle a collar is the day you kill me, not the person holding the leash. And besides,” his smile faded into a grimace, “those damn envelopes.”
“I know the feeling. She liked her blackmail, didn’t she?”
“Mirabella? Always got the feeling she liked knowing things. Blackmail was just a convenient result of knowing a lot of things.”
“You knew her better than I did.” Senga sat down on the edge of her bed and looked up at him thoughtfully. “I get the feeling there’s a lot you know better than me, actually.”
He looked down at her for a moment before his smile faded and he sat down slowly on the only chair in her room. “Well, I should hope so,” he joked weakly. He wasn’t quite meeting her eyes. “I’ve got a few years on you, I think.”
“Probably more than a few. So – how would you feel about advising me?”
“I’m not your Mentor, I’m your Bond Servant.” The retort had very little heat in it, and she thought he’d surprised himself with the concept. “But – you’d take it? Advice?”
“Probably better than most of my family, though that’s not saying much. When I’m on a job, I’m not going to want you following me around telling me what to do – especially since my job might be the one area I know what I’m doing more than you do. But the rest of the time, yeah.”
“What exactly is it that you do, anyway?”
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