Please note: there are two chapters after “in which they stop kissing…” which have been deprecated. This re-write begins from Amrit and Mieve ending up in bed.
This is another commission from @Momerath@wandering.shop for another chapter of Beekeeper, (there’s one more of about the same length coming, too). Thank you so much to Momerath for your patience!
The screams were almost a relief. Almost.
She hadn’t been entirely sure that Amrit was still here. Maybe he’d found a hole in his promise. Maybe he’d decided to test being forsworn.
Maybe he was the one in one billion who could not be bound by oaths, although she was still pretty sure that was a myth.
Amrit’s attack had done what it had been intended to – or, at least, what she assumed it had been intended to. She no longer had a knife to her throat.
That gave her the moment she needed to shove the asshole attacking Amrit away from him, to summon the axe to her.
Armed, check. Amrit protected for the second, check.
She turned to see Theron struggling to his feet, slurring out a pained but coherent Working to knit his leg back together.
She hadn’t known, when her clearing was invaded, that it was him, but she’d guessed. When he’d put the knife to her throat, for a moment she’d been lost in a nightmare where she couldn’t move and she’d forgotten that she could, indeed, move, could protect herself.
But when she turned towards him with the axe, the same thing happened again.
She couldn’t move. She couldn’t hurt him.
She fought her muscles, but they wouldn’t listen to her. Nothing would listen to her.
He laughed. It wasn’t a nice laugh – for a few months, he’d had a very nice laugh. He’d been very nice in almost every way she could think of, to be honest.
And then… well. And then.
Behind her, under her, Amrit groaned.
It shook her into awareness.
To the left, one of the – thugs, she was going to go with thugs – was whimpering under an onslaught of bees. Mostly wasps, to be honest – Mieve wouldn’t ask more than 1 in 20 of the bees to actually sting if her life wasn’t actively in danger – but it turned out this thug was actually allergic to the stings.
To the right, another one was pulling himself to his feet, swearing as his leg knit back into its proper shape.
Gonna have to do better than that, she scolded herself.
She braced herself and began another Working.
“Stop it there, mistress,” Theron hissed. “Or things are going to get a lot worse.”
She shoved him back with her power again, caught someone coming up behind her and gave them a push too, and then gave the whole area a good solid shove for good measure.
“You can leave now and that will be it,” she told him. She was proud her voice didn’t shake.
“I know you’ve been a little isolated, but I always thought you could do math. Four of us, two of you – if your little pet there even wants to protect you. Oh, wait. He doesn’t get a choice, does he?”
The venom startled her. “Theron, what do you want?” she tried.
“Me?” He laughed. It was definitely not one of his nicer laughs, all the more so because she could hear the niceness running through it. “Come on, you know what I want. You don’t have to play dumb this time.”
It was like a slap across the face. Mieve swallowed. “Play… dumb?”
Amrit coughed. She shifted again. He was tough, but he did take some time to heal. She had to protect him, and she had to figure out what to do about these – these invaders.
Theron was still looking at her. He’d raised one eyebrow; he was waiting.
She looked back at him. She’d thought he was attractive, hadn’t she?
He looked worn, and ugly, and petulant, and she could still see the vestiges of the smile she’d loved so much.
Thereon, and three thugs. One down for the count by her wasps, one not moving all that well thanks to Amrit.
She pushed the third one back and glared at Theron. “What do you want?” she repeated.
He stared at her. “Are you serious? Are you really not playing dumb? Are you that stupid? All that time, talking around the fire, fucking, all that time owning me and you don’t know what I want?”
“It turns out-” It hurt. It hurt more than she’d imagined words – words that weren’t magic – could. But it was just, just words, and there were more important things to handle right now. “-turns out that you did a good job of making sure I didn’t know anything about you. So no. I don’t know what you want. You probably know what I want, though.”
She could hear Amrit. His voice was breathy, raspy, like something was wrong in his lungs, and barely audible. She hoped he had a good Working in mind again, something intense — something efficient.
She lifted her voice a little like Theron was getting to her. “In case you’ve forgotten,” she continued, while he sneered at her, “What I want is to be left alone in safety.”
It worked. She’d hoped to get the anger to rise a little bit, and it did. He snarled at her.
“To be left alone,” he mocked. “But you don’t want to be alone. You want to be alone with your slave, until you’re done with them, and then – and then you want to just be able to leave them off like throwing out an old pair of pants! You don’t want to be alone, Mistress, you want to- aaaaaaaaah!”
What he thought she wanted was lost in a long scream as he collapsed to the ground.
He was echoed a moment later by screams from two of the other three. Mieve didn’t turn around. Looking at Theron was bad enough. He looked like a broken puppet.
He groaned up at her. She moved fast, grabbing up the nearest thing on the ground with her telekinesis and shoving it in his mouth.
“No Workings,” she warned him. “Don’t even think about another Working.”
He coughed and didn’t answer. Not that he could.
“Just peachy.” The cough belied the words, but then again, so did the tone. “I’ll be fine in an hour,” he reassured her. “The question is more your friends here.”
“You can do a little healing, yeah?”
He hesitated long enough she thought maybe she’d misremembered his Words. Then he huffed. “Took a lot of energy to break them up, you know.”
She thought he might be laughing. That was a good sign – she hoped.
“Not them. It’s just the one with the bee stings – he’ll die quickly if he’s not treated at least a little.”
“I’m pretty sure he was trying to kill me. And I’m pretty sure his intentions for you aren’t exactly nice.”
“I know.” She took a couple deep breaths. “But I’d rather – I don’t want to be what they are. I’ve tried hard not to be what the monsters are, Amrit.”