Fourth Date: Cya and Manus

A bit later than:
Cya gets ready for a date and Almost Out the Door for a Date and Trying Again and Blind Dateand Catching Up and Getting to (re-)Know him
and Also Needs a Title
and More Cya Date and So, Tell me About your Day

See also: Red Thorns.
For their fourth date, Manus brought her a town.

It was more of a settlement, really, a very small grouping of people who all looked at her with big, worried eyes and seemed to be very worried about their lot in life.

She’d known something was up when her normally-peaceful boyfriend was armed and suggested she do the same. “Should I bring a bodyguard?” she’d asked, mostly joking.

“no, that will spook them too much.,” his answer was a lot more serious. “You’ll be safe. you outpower all of them.”

“Them” was this settlement, twenty-three people in a burned-out town that probably hadn’t seen real inhabitance in decades. They looked up at her, and looked at Manus, and looked back at her.

“They want to fly the Cloverleaf flag,” he told her. “We caught them raiding, and stopped them pretty thoroughly, but they looked more hungry than fierce – sorry, guys – and, well..”

She walked up to one who had dropped his Mask and looked like a ragged, sad, coyote. She pulled aside his shirt and saw two red thorn marks. “Raiders?”

“Former Raiders,” Manus clarified. “They agreed to stop raiding, but one of their terms was that I try to get you to talk to them. Since I know you, well, I agreed to that.”

“So.” She looked them over. “You want to fly my flag.”

The coyote one cleared his throat. “It gives us a little bit of protection, ma’am, and considering where we’re from, we could use that protection.”

She looked at the next one over. No thorn-marks on his skin, but he had the old scars of a collar. He looked worried, and too thin, but they all looked too thin.

“And where exactly are you from?” She aimed the question at the one in front of her. She thought he might be human.

He shied away but forced himself to meet her eyes. “We belonged to the Shenera Oseraei. We didn’t want to belong to them anymore.”

“Halfbreeds,” muttered the woman on the other side of him, “and slaves. We ran away.”

“I hope you ran far, because I’m not in the mood for a war.”

The one on the end waved their hand weakly. “Teleporter, and Eo’sedek there can mask anything. So we should be safe. We came here, this far, because of Cloverleaf.”

“What do you think?” she asked Manus, although she could already guess, since he’d brought her here.

“I think they could do with some structure, and with some protection, and probably with some running water and a little help with food.”

“All right.” She studied them. “You fly my flag, you follow my laws. You want my support, you do what I tell you.”

One of the ones that were probably human stepped forward. “We want to be free, not just under another master.”

“And you will be. I won’t force obedience, but I will force lawfulness and I will give you homework.” She looked around the group. “In return, I’ll give you aid, help you rebuild this place into something comfortable, and you can fly my flag, with all the protections involved.”

“Homework?” asked the coyote suspiciously.

“Ah. Sometimes I forget I’m a teacher. Assignments to do or think about when I’m not here, as a – a human teacher might give a student.”

They shifted, looked at each other. “Like what?” asked the human one who wanted to be free.

“Well. First assignment, and I’ll be back in two days with food, water, and some other things: come up with one to four rules for your community that you can all agree on. Things to bind all of you. No bullying people into them; they have to be comfortable for everyone.”

“And we can fly the Cloverleaf?” The coyote’s ears were back. Poor thing was worried.

Poor thing had attacked her city at least twice.

“And you can fly the Cloverleaf. And those of you with thorns, I grant you the obvious exemption that you can enter your own town within the three years of your oath. Do we have a deal?”

They looked at each other. After a moment, the coyote nodded.

“We have a deal, sa’Doomsday.”

“Excellent. I’ll see you in two days.”

They wandered off slowly, Manus and Cya, to where Isra was waiting to teleport them home. “You looked like you were having fun?” he asked.

“That was a wonderful gift,” she assured him. “Thank you.”

“Do I get homework, too?” He grins insouciantly at her, and she found herself grinning back.

“Only if you want it, my dear, only if you want it.”

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Throwing Things – more of the Cya Carew Story

Directly after Rocks

She took his hand, because she needed to reassure herself that he really was fine. “I don’t-” she started, and fell quiet. There were too many ways to end that sentence and she didn’t like any of them.

He glanced over at her, and she recognized the expression, even if he looked nothing like Cabal, nothing like Gaheris. “I got it.” He was quiet for a minute, as she led him out of Leo’s house and down the quiet neighborhood street. “You don’ like, uh. Being emotive.”

She snorted, laughing at herself, at his phrasing, at the whole mess. “Let’s be honest,” she said, dryly and more openly than she usually was with her Kept. “I don’t like having emotions. But Leo – thinks that’s a mess, and Dr. Rexinger agrees, and if I’m going to be entirely honest, if one of my Kept told me they didn’t like having emotions, I’d spend the whole year helping them work through that. So I try to have emotions. But I don’t -”

“How long?” he asked, when she had found no words to finish that I don’t…

“Not feeling? Trying not to feel? Decades. A long time. Since after school.” Since after school. Since she learned that she couldn’t help Leo with Eriko, and that showing emotion around that crew, her Keeper’s crew, was an admission of weakness and an invitation to correction.

Cya didn’t like being wrong. She hadn’t liked being wrong, being corrected, as a teenager, a lifetime ago.

“That’s a long time,” he said, and for a child of twenty-three, that sentence in and of itself was a fair assessment. Then he looked up at her, looking worried. “That’s a really long time to be pretending you weren’t angry.”

She looked away. “When – when I let Leo know, sometimes it messed with him. When he was really crazy, it could send him away, either actually or just make the conversation get lost. So I stopped, well, I stopped feeling it, so I didn’t send him off into the deep end.”

“But he’s been sane for a while, didn’t you say?” He sounded a little uncertain, like he didn’t want to push and yet thought he ought to. She couldn’t blame him for that one.

“He’s been better for quite a while. But then, well. I had to get better.” She laughed, although it had no humor. “Habits, I’m all about habits. I get messed up when those get shaken, you know?”

“I-” He didn’t sound like he knew. She couldn’t fault him for that, either.

“…I stopped feeling it, and then I forgot I could again, and by that time, I’d stopped feeling things as much as I could.”

“But now you’re learning how to feel again?” he guessed.

“Yeah.” She looked over at him. In the dim light of the streetlights, his face looked like it could be anyone’s. That made this all the weirder, like she was talking to generations of her Kept. No, she reminded herself firmly, just one. Carew. We’re here, today, and that’s it. “Now,” she tried the words on for size, “I’m letting myself feel. And it’s-”

“Weird,” he offered. “Like learning a skill. Did you tell me,” he offered, “something about learning a new skill every decade? And all the messed-up pots and twisted ankles and bad phrases in Russian nobody ever sees?”

“…I did.” Every once in a while, one of her Kept actually paid attention. “Yeah.”

“So,” he offered, “this is a skill, right? Like, uh. Like teaching Jeska how to exist around humans, and how to have leisure time? Something that’s gonna come with some trial-and-error?”

“..Yeah.” She nodded slowly. It stood to reason that the Kept who’d befriended a former Nedetaka might know about learning skills most people took for granted.”Yeah, I guess it is a skill. But, k- Puppy, Carew, when I mess up throwing a pot it doesn’t send you fleeing to Leo’s.”

“Well,” he offered, with a crooked smile that looked too much like one she sometimes glimpsed in the mirror, “if I thought Leo – sa – Lightning – you know – if I thought he’d come talk you down from messing up pots, I might.”

She hugged him, because he was a clever boy, and she was going to miss him when his year was up. “Thanks, puppy,” she whispered. They both ignored the way his tail wagged happily at that.

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Rocks – a Cya/Carew story

Cya and Carew, Carew’s POV – what happens when Cya starts feeling things she’s been repressing.

He could have gone to his crew.

They were here, now. Cya had Found them and offered them a ticket to Cloverleaf via her teleporter, and, much to Carew’s relief and occasional confusion, they’d all agreed.

(He’d spent six months wondering why they hadn’t come to find him when he graduated, only to find out that they had, just the day after he’d left, and nobody they’d asked had known that Cya had taken him.)

But he didn’t want them to get the wrong impression and, besides, this was the second time, and he was sort of hoping someone would do something, so when Cya started throwing things – pebbles, rocks, stones – at the wall, he’d slipped out the back door and run to Leo’s house again.

Leo had gotten a strange look on his face and left. Carew had settled in to teach Jeska some more card games and anything else that could keep his mind off of my Keeper is throwing shit at the walls.

She was in therapy. She was supposed to be getting better. She seemed to be getting… more emotive. He thought that was supposed to be better. Most days it was better.

Not today.

She came back a couple hours later, walking in with Leo. Her face was red; she’d been crying. Of course she’d been crying. But she looked like she was over the bad part.

“Hey.” She sat down next to him and held out a hand.

He took it without thinking, then wondered if it was a good idea. What if he’d done something wrong?

She never hurt him (except in the good way), even when he messed up, which did happen on occasion. But sometimes she could be scary anyway.

“I’m sorry. I’m getting used to having emotions again – I did a really good job of making them go away for a really long time – and, uh. I’m feeling things I’d forgotten about. But that doesn’t mean I should make you suffer for it.”

A really long time. Carew looked at her cautiously. She was older than the end of the world.

“So, uh,” he hazarded a guess, “things from Addergoole?”

“Things from Addergoole,” she admitted. “Want to come home so I can make it up to you?”

“Wait, it’s a choice?” He regretted the words the moment he’d said them, but she didn’t look offended.

“Tonight, it’s a choice.” She leaned in and kissed his cheek. “It’s not like I don’t know I messed up.”

“No,” he shook his head, then hurried to finish the sentence. “You didn’t mess up, boss. But I won’t mind some making up, anyway.”


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Oh, it’s Autumn. (A piece involving Cya, Carew, and Leo) (Still Sword/Lady timeline)

This involves sidelong descriptions of really rough sex.

“That… was different. He was different.”

Cya had come home scraped, bruised, and smiling, wearing different clothing than she’d left in, leaning on Leofric as if she might actually need the support. The smile was a particularly lazy, pleased version of her sated expression.

Carew knew her sated expression. He’d put it on her face more than a few times — especially in the last few weeks. Not like that, though, and not with bruises like that, either.

She’d handed him a pile of clothing, her expression turning slightly-abashed. While she’d dished out the casserole she had waiting — because she was Cya, and she almost always had something waiting — Carew had unfolded the clothing.

Every single piece was cut, like it had been sliced off of her.

No question why she’d given him the clothes, then. Carew wiggled his nose and the clothing came back together. If being a mechanic didn’t work out, he thought, not for the first time, he had a good future as a house-elf.

After that… after that he’d been looking at his Keeper’s bruises with a combination of jealousy and wistfulness. He wanted to have put that expression on her face. He wanted someone to put marks like that on him. Even at her roughest, Cya never marked him thatmuch.

“Leo,” Cya had said with cheerfully sharp edges, “you probably shouldn’t tease my Kept if you’re not willing to bruise him all up, too.”

He hadn’t been expecting that. He hadn’t been expecting Leo’s expression, the one that made Carew wonder for a moment exactly which one of them had the predator Change and which had the prey Change.

Hard to miss those antlers, though. Hard not to think of what those antlers could do to you.

Now… now he was having other thoughts about predators and prey. He sprawled across the bed, pressing his knee gently to Cya so he could stay in contact with her. He was bruised, scraped, aching, and absolutely sated. “That was…” he repeated, but he had no words for what it was.

“Autumn,” Cya filled in, in a voice that sounded like he felt. She’d watched. She’d watched the whole thing, and Carew’d had absolutely no doubt she was loving every minute. “That was autumn and Leo. Buck,” she added, as if somehow Carew had missed that. “But I wouldn’t mention that part to him. I don’t think he likes it.”

Carew considered that for a moment. “He looked like he was having fun?” he offered cautiously.
“He did, didn’t he? Mmm. Don’t proposition him on your own.”

He already had fidelity orders. He was also not suicidal. “Yes, ma’am.”

“But if you liked it—”

“Yes, ma’am!”

“-then I’ll see if he wants to have another round before autumn’s over.” She considered things thoughtfully. “Not for a couple days, though.”

Carew stretched, feeling every bruise and scrape. “Not for a couple days,” he agreed.

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Finding a Doctor

This is in Lady/Sword timeline, and is after everything posted to date. Leo needs some help… Cya Finds it.

“I don’t like this place.” Isra looked both ways and frowned. “There’s something… wrong here.”

“I know.” Cya murmured. “It’s almost Stepford, isn’t it?”

“Like that movie… those movies?” Isra frowned. She’d gone to Doomsday; she’d gotten used to Cya’s references to things that had happened before the world ended, but sometimes it still seemed to throw her.

“Just stay close and be ready to go in a hurry.”

She didn’t really need to tell Isra that. The place was creepy. It was clean, everything crisp, the wall surrounding the town looking more like a suggestion than a wall until you realized that it was topped by three lines of electrical fence.

She had up heavy-duty “we’re not out of place” Mind Workings, and she didn’t think they’d be enough if they were here too long. Luckily – well, planning, not luck – they’d shown up in their target’s front yard.

Cya rang the doorbell. Isra shifted from foot to foot.

The woman that answered the doorbell looked, Cya noticed first, old. She seemed to be in her late 80’s by a pre-apocalypse judge of age, a thin woman with medium-brown skin that seemed fragile and tissue-like and a short halo of curly white hair.

“Ma’am? Doctor?” Cya already had a Working up that projected her voice only in a thin line to exactly where she wanted it to. “I’m hoping you might be willing to come with us. My friend desperately needs a therapist… one who can understand him…. and I have a feeling you might want a new place to live. We’re from Cloverleaf,” she added, and because they had traveled quite a ways to get here, “a small city in what was once Montana, in the – well, it was the US a long time ago.”

The woman stared at them with eyes that were very sharp before nodded crisply. “You’d best come in – if you have no intention of harming me.” She ushered them into her home and closed the door.

Inside, the cottage was as antiseptic and unreal as on the outside. “Is this the friend?” the woman asked. “I’m Billie Rexinger, by the by. Dr. Bilyana Rexinger, Planting-Hands.” She looked down at her shaking hands and frowned. “That was a long time ago.”

“I’m Cya Dayton, Red Doomsday.” She hadn’t used that last name in a long time. Maybe she should steal Leo’s…. no, probably not. “This is Isra, Moonlight, Moondance.” Dr. Rexinger hadn’t been the first one by a long shot to assume he applied to the long, lean Isra with her tight-queued hair and her businesslike clothes which obscured sparse curves. “She’s not the one who needs help, no. My friend, my crewmate, Leofric Lightning-Blade, he…” She sighed. “A long time ago, we were both hurt by our Keepings, by our Keepers.” It had taken her most of that long time to admit it had been both of them. “His… shattered his mind. He was delusional for a long time.”

“But not now.” Dr. Rexinger might look ancient, but her mind was sharp.

Cya reminded herself that she, herself, would look older than this woman if she Masked at her calendar age. “But not now,” she answered carefully. “He fought himself back to himself some time ago. But recently..” She winced. “Recently, we’ve been working on his self-esteem and other issues. I’m a fairly good mind-healer,” she admitted. “I’ve had a lot of practice. But – I told him something that, ah. It broke some of his belief foundation that I didn’t realize was still holding him up. Some ways he’d dealt with being Kept and being abused. And..” She swallowed. “I can Find anything. So I went looking for what he needed to put himself back together.”

The woman was still listening. Cya had a feeling she had practiced that listening face a lot. It was calming, encouraging, and rather impressive. Cya wasn’t sure she liked it being used on herself.

This visit wasn’t about her.

“What he needs is therapy, someone to listen. Someone to help him sort it out. And I, I’m too close to it. I was there for the whole mess. I was there through everything. I hate the woman who hurt him, and I can’t… I can’t hold back enough to help him.”

She hated that. There weren’t words for how badly she hated it. But it was the truth, and right now the truth was important.

She cleared her throat. “What I’m offering is a home, a proper house, in Cloverleaf, which is a settlement -”

“I’ve heard of Cloverleaf,” the doctor cut her off.

“Oh!” Cya ducked her head. “This far away? Well. A house in Cloverleaf as least as big as this one,” she looked around, “with a yard. A stipend while you treat Leo, and a smaller stipend for ten years after that. References to other people who might need your services, and help finding anything you need for relocation. And,” she looked around. “I offer quick and immediate relocation, via Isra, who walks the shadows.”

Isra bowed. She liked it when Cya was melodramatic about her titles.

“You care very strongly about this Leo.”

“He’s my crew. He’s the most important person in my life after my children – and my children are all grown and gone.” It was that simple. It was always that simple.

“Will he cooperate?” The doctor was already opening up a bag and moving things into it. “There’s a wine crate in the kitchen. I like the pans, and there’s food that’s still good in there.”

“He swore to obey me,” Cya murmured. “That’ll get you past the first visit. After that is up to you.”

“Well then.” The doctor nodded. “Twenty minutes, ten if you and your moon-dancer help. And then I can see this Cloverleaf for myself.”

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For Cal: Is He…?

For Cal: This comes after a number of things, including Jeska and Carew wandering around the city talking, Convincing each other to tell their Keepers that they were jealous of… (in Carew’s case, Leo, and Jeska’s case, the cat)… and Carew doing some thinking. Sword/Lady timeline

She hadn’t been angry with him.

Carew wasn’t sure if it was the long talk with Jeska or the fact he was pretty sure Leo – sa’Lightning Blade – was probably still mad at him – but he’d really been expecting Cya to be angry with him. Punish him, even.

(Even if his punishment would probably have Jeska rolling his eyes and very politely suggesting it wasn’t punishment at all.)

But now that he knew she wasn’t angry… now he had something else to ask.

And she was distracted, doing paperwork, frowning at something. Not the best time to ask questions.

He cleared his throat. “Cya? Ma’am?”

She put down the ledger she’d been working in and gave him a smile that looked about half worried and half affectionate. He’d told her he was jealous of sa’Lightning Blade, and she’d told him she’d pay more attention to him. That wasn’t how it was supposed to work! That wasn’t – well, it wasn’t what he’d been expecting, but it was the only way to get Jeska to agree to talk to Leo about feeling second-place to the cat, which really had to happen.

Are we friends? Jeska had asked, and, well, if they were friends, friends looked after each other. Even if…

“What’s up, Carew?”

Sometimes she talked like she was out of one of the movies she liked to watch, pre-War things that made no sense at all to Carew but made her laugh and cry with no rhyme or reason that he could see.

He cleared his throat What’s up meant what’s on your mind?

“Ma’am, is sa’Lightnin – is Jeska a Nedetaka?”

“Why do you ask?”

Why do you ask wasn’t no, it was show your work. “Well, for one, he talks about ‘Shenera Endraae’ things ​​like they’re unfamiliar to him. He grew up being taught that what he wanted was irrelevant, that half-breeds are impure, and I’m pretty sure that humans are useless. His idea of punishment is – I’m not sure, but it sounds bad. And, um. He’s not an Addergoole grad, he’s a decade older than I am – he thinks – and he’s twitchy like he just got out of a bad Keeping. And his crew whipped him.”

He watched her eyebrows go up as he ticked off points. When he ran out of things, she nodded slowly.

“We – no. Leo. Leo stole him from a Nedetakaei camp. I found him someone willing, and he got him out of there – although he hasn’t been forthcoming with the details. So yes, Jeska wwas raised and Named Nedetaka. Now Leo has him.”

Carew considered that. He considered the way Cya’s eyes were on him. Judging him, he thought. She did a lot of that.

He cleared his throat. “He asked me if we were friends.”

“And are you?”

“…Yeah. Yeah, we are.” He lifted his chin. It was worth getting punished for, to have a friend, to be Jeska’s friend.

She kissed his cheek. “Good. I’m glad. I think that’ll be good.”

Carew relaxed as she looked back to her paperwork, more confused than ever.

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Cya, Leo, and Boom – untangling the timelines

So, it turns out, when you get [personal profile] inventrix and I together, what you end up with is a whole lot of different timelines for the same characters.

This is as comprehensive as I can come up with a list of Cya-Leo-Boom timelines we might have posted stories for.

[personal profile] inventrix, if I’ve missed something, misrepresented something, or mislaid something, please let me know!

It appears that the turning points are:

1) When Leo (and thus Cya) gets sane. In canon, and in timelines that could be canon, that happens after Cya builds Cloverleaf, which itself is ~40 years after they attend Addergoole (see Ghost Story).
2) Whether Cya Keeps Leo or he swears an oath of obedience and service to her.
3) If/When they come to the realization that what Cya wants from Leo is not what Leo can provide

“Cya cried,” he says, a little too matter of fact, “because she’s accepted I’m not going to love her back.”
“…The fuck you say?”
“Not the way she wants, at least.”

“So, the basics are simple enough, you’ve got me,” he holds out one hand, “and Cya,” he holds out the other, “and we both care about each other way too much. The problem is, Cya has like a tragic romance thing going on because she wants me to be in love with her back, but like… whatever the hell I feel, it’s not that, and I don’t care what that stupid kid says,” he adds in an annoyed mutter, “I’m not going to go pretending to feel something I don’t when it’s just going to fuck everything up in the end and it’s none of his fucking business anyway.”
Leo pauses and clears his throat a little awkwardly. “…anyway, so. Her side, nice, fairly straightforward, normal romantic obsession. My side, some kind of weird martyr Kept knight thing. Which would be fine except like, the one thing Cya wants more than anything in pretty much the whole world is to be attached to just one guy who will actually, you know, love her back? You’d think after–” He stops himself from tangenting this time. “So since I’m obviously not that guy, I talked her into trying dating so she’s at least meeting people who aren’t fresh Addergoole grad Kept with issues.”

4) Whether they all flip the F out and kill everyone their first year.

Is Absolutely Canon
Addergoole: Year Nine
Addergoole: A Ghost Story

Probably Canon
That story about Cya ordering Leo not to die.

Could be Canon but aren’t Yet.
The Sword and Lady Timeline — this includes most of the currently-posted stuff on DW/LJ, where Leo gets punched by Carew, Luke tries to apologize to Mike, etc.

The Thistle Timeline — hey, it couldtotally fit within canon! This is the one in which Cya dies but resurrects(reincarnates) and Leo has to cope with all of that while Thistle-Cya copes with being 10 years old with memories of a 100-year-old in love with Leo.
I’d just re-read Thief of Time.

Definitely Not Canon
Sane!Cya Timeline — I think the only thing posted of this is something called “Sane!Cya and Panlong,” in which the man who unwittingly participated in Cya’s son Yoshi’s torment as a Kept, Panlong, actually doesn’t end up getting TOO horrid of a deal…
This is the timeline where Leo has a psychotic break after Cya locks him in the barn (this is a fixed moment in time) and comes out the other side sane.

Black Knight/Chess Timeline — In which Leo gets an army, starts taking over the West Coast, and achieves godhead. Also in which Luke ends up Kept by Cya, flappy wing bongage, and such things.

Expelled Timeline — in which we’re not entirely sure what happened but Boom gets expelled in their first year, their memories wiped, and sent home, or in Cya’s case, to a foster home.

Leo Dies — in which we misread Inventrix’s rp, Leo suicides, Cya tries to blow up the earth with Abatu Eperu (destroy Earth), and in the end Howard talks her down and she and Zita heal Leo’s body, find his soul, and shove it back in.
Cya feels strongly about Leo dying, okay? 🙂

Fixed Moments in Time
These happen in pretty much everything but Expelled

  • The Ranch: As the end of the world looms, all of Boom, their kids, and their closest allies (and some allies’ kids) go to live on a ranch in wyoming and slowly take over the territory.
  • Cya Locks Leo in a Barn: She has a cell for such things, because Cya believes in being prepared. So when delusional!Leo decides he’s going to leave them all so he can go fight monsters and probably die but they’ll survive, the crew tracks him down, literally force him into the van, and tie him up in the cell until he promises not to do that
  • Cloverleaf and Doomsday: Cya gets sick of putting Addergoole people back together after the fact and builds her own school in what was once Montana. Because she’s like that, she also builds a city around it. And then starts trade routes. And then…

I might add links later. I might bribe people to add tags to things later – I’m totally willing to do that! But for the nonce, this is what I’ve got.

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Assumptions (Cya, Carrew, Lady/Sword Timeline)

In the Sword and Lady timeline, after
Cya Yells at a Kept which itself followed (but was posted before) Faking it.

“Leo and his Kept are coming over tonight — for dinner and to sleep over.”

Cya said it like she expected it to be nothing, just another day, but her eyes were on Carew and he had no doubt she was gauging his reaction.

She did that, said things without any tone and waited to see what he made of them. Carew still wasn’t sure what he made of that.

“So…” He tried for casual. He almost made it. Leo was still angry at him for the face-punching thing, at least as far as he knew, and, truth be told, he couldn’t blame the guy. It had seemed like a good idea at the time… “Extra lasagna for dinner, then? And I’ll sleep in the guest room — or do you want me to go hang out with Dev?”

Dev was Magnolia’s — not Kept, but might-as-well-be, he called himself her pleasant-revenge lover — and he was just about Carew’s age. They weren’t exactly friends, but they’d been in Addergoole together, the women they lived with were sometimes perplexing, sometimes terrifying, and sometimes wonderful, and they liked the same beers.

“I didn’t say I was kicking you out. It’s a big bed, hon.”

It was. Four of them would probably fill it comfortably. He’d always wondered why she had such a big bed — now, he supposed, he knew. He worked around a lump in his throat and tried to show nothing. “All right, sure. So lasagna?”

“Lasagna’s a good idea. I’ll start on the filling if you start on the noodles.”

He let the companionable working-peace fill the room for a few minutes before coughing. “So, uh, why’s Leo coming over? Over night, I mean. Is that why he’s bringing his Kept?”

“He’s… having a bad week, and I don’t want him left alone.”


Lots of stupid things went through Carew’s mind, like Isn’t that what HE has a Kept for? and Is that where you were last night? and If you’re just going to sleep with him — with THEM — what do you need me for? He focused on the noodles and said none of them. It wasn’t his first rodeo.

“What is it?” she asked. Carew swore internally. He didn’t think he’d been showing anything at all.

He cleared his throat and looked away.

Her hand on his shoulder almost made him jump. “It’s okay, Carew. I’d rather know than not know, all right?”

“It’s just… your whole world seems to revolve around him,” he muttered.

“Well… To some degree, yeah. It’s like this, here.”

Here wasn’t an order, but he looked anyway. Her left hand was held out flat at chest-height, marking a level.

“So,” she brought her right hand up, marking a line a little above the left. “There’s my kids. Then crew.” Her right fingers touched her left. “Then Kept—” a little lower on the right, and Carew’s heart did something weird up in his throat “-and then my project, which right now is school,” her hand moved down, “and city,” her hand moved down a bit more. “Except right now, I don’t have any kids in the nest, so,” her left hand moved up a notch, “and Leo’s the only crew in the city with me… So, yeah, my life kind of revolves around him. What?” she asked gently, although Carew had no idea at all what his face was doing. “Haven’t you ever had someone you loved? Or a crew you’d kill for?”

“Yeah…” He worked his throat, fighting with emotions he really, really didn’t want to deal with right now. “Both. But, uh. They were older, and they didn’t come back for me.”

“Well.” She patted his shoulder. “Did you tell them you wanted them to?”

“No, but…” He frowned. “Why wouldn’t they?”

“See, that’s the thing about assumptions. Maybe they assumed you’d come find them. Maybe they got there a few days late.”

“Wouldn’t the school have told them where I was?” He turned back to the lasagne just to have something to do with his hands.

“Well, depends on who they asked, and what mood they were in.” She turned to the food, too, but her eyes were still on him. He could feel them, feel their pressure. “Luke knows, because he’s still not entirely convinced I’m not locking Kept up in a dungeon… non-consensually. But if he told them would depend on if they asked, and if he approves of them, and any number of other factors.”

“Wait.” He put his hands on the counter to steady himself. “You lock Kept up in a dungeon consensually?

“Well, some of my Kept have been pretty kinky, and so am I and—”

“You never said anything!” He slapped his hands over his mouth, but he’d already said it, and he’d already interrupted her.

Her eyebrows went up. “Now, remember what I was saying about assumptions? And then I went and assumed you weren’t the type. Well.” She patted his ass affectionately. “We’ll talk about that tomorrow night, mm? And this coming weekend, maybe we can talk about Finding your friends and crew.”

Carew swallowed. “Yes, ma’am… thank you, ma’am.” Both of his hands went to his collar. “Thank you, ma’am.”

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So, Tell Me About Your Day… (Cya’s Date Continues)

After Cya gets ready for a date and Almost Out the Door for a Date and Trying Again and Blind Dateand Catching Up and Getting to (re-)Know him
and Also Needs a Title
and More Cya Date
They ordered dinner. There was a moment where it looked like Manus expected Cya to order for him; then he coughed and ordered his own food. Something different than she’d have picked; she wondered if he did it out of some residual defiance.

She hoped not. She didn’t want defiant, because defiant meant he was still thinking of her as an authority figure. Domme, maybe. She could definitely get behind (ha) that. But not authority figure in the rest of his life.

“So,” she asked, over delicious white bread that tasted all the better for remembering years where white flour was hard to come by, with a dipping sauce of Cloverleaf-grown olives (one of her proudest accomplishments was that tiny greenhouse orchard). “Tell me more about being a judge-and-diplomat?”

“Well, like I said,” he smiled at her over his wine, “it’s something of just getting people to talk, nothing fancy.”

“Well, give me an example?” she coaxed. It was all in the tone of voice. She didn’t want him thinking anything like orders.

“Okay, so. Couple months ago, Neihart Mountain, it lost two trade caravans headed up to MinuteTown. You know, up in the mountains, that place nobody thought would survive.”

“I remember.” She’d pulled three kids from there the year they thought it would collapse, the three that were the right age to take to Doomsday. The city had stayed standing. The kids had chosen not to go back.

“So, every once in a while, they get it in their head that they need something some other city near them has. And when they do, well, they go attacking. They’re not much better than bandits with a decent home base at this point, and seems like they’re suffering some brain drain. The ones that can get out, the smart ones, tend to leave.”

Cya looked guiltily down at her plate. “We encourage that, on occasion.”

“Good. People that are smart enough to get out of there ought to. Something I figured out a long time ago, Cya. People aren’t required to go down with a ship just because it carried them for a while.” He tapped her nose lightly, then pulled his hand back. When she peeked up at him, he looked mildly worried.

She stuck her tongue out at him so he’d know she wasn’t offended. “So they were raiding Neihart?”

“Trying, at least. But let’s be honest, even if Neihart can take them down with one hand tied behind their collective back – and they can – it’s a drain on resources and it’s demoralizing. So I got myself together a collection of some very terrifying people, a couple former cy’Dougs and ah, couple people you might recognize their names, and had them arm and armor themselves to the teeth, and then they followed me… and I talked.

“I wasn’t just going to bully them, I knew that wouldn’t work. So I brought a wagon of flour and bread and sausage and some of that really good goat cheese, and three baskets of vegetables, and seeds. And Dory Antelevron, she’s a genius with anything planting and she can teach an idiot how to be a genius. She volunteered,” he added. “And I explained to them that what was going to happen was that Dory was going to visit them under guard, and teach them how to not be stupid with their own food stores. And they were, in payment for listening to Dory, going to get a wagon full of food and not get wiped off the map.

“The thing about a cy’Doug with a sword,” he added, with a bright and cheerful smile, “is that you don’t even think can she kill me? You’re mostly thinking how long ‘till my breathing irritates her? They agreed. They were in a damn hurry to agree. And Dory thinks some of what she taught them might even stick.”

“Brilliant.” Cya grinned at him. “Sounds like a fun job.”


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Just a drabble of Cya and Change – Sword and Lady timeline – mostly for Cal

This is concurrent with the stuff with Luke thinking and talking to people about Deep Thoughts, and with Cya “yelling” at her Kept. And with [personal profile] inventrix’s stories about Leo and his Rescue Kept, Jeska

It had been a year for “firsts” and for changes. Sometimes she lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, trying to process all the new things.

She had stagnated, she knew, for a long time. It had been comfortable. It had been safe.

She had a city because of the last time she’d decided to stop being safe.

Now Leo had a Kept. Now she, Cya, had a boyfriend. Now Leo had sworn to be her sword and obey her.

Now she knew for sure that Leo didn’t love her, and knew just as certainly that he would be with her forever.

It was time for more change.

She threw on her “field trip” clothes and went to Find Leo. “Hey. You have a few hours free?”

“Oh, yeah. Just let me tell Jeska when I’ll be back, if that’s okay. Ah-” He grinned sheepishly at her. “When will I be back?”

“By dinnertime. I want to scout out a couple sites for something, and I need someone to watch my back and keep me safe from dragons. And, well. Someone to bounce ideas off of, too. Isra’s a great teleporter, but she doesn’t really like reading or study, much to my chagrin, and her idea of fighting is ‘run away; they can’t follow.’” She smiled, a little abashed. “She’s a really good teleporter, though.”

“Ha. Yeah, sure, I’ll be right back. Should I bring anything?”

“I brought lunch already.” She held up a picnic basket. “Although if we’re attacked by dragons, I don’t think it’ll do much good.”

“What are you scouting for? The best site to fight dragons?”

“That’s-” She cut herself off. “I’m not telling you that. But I’m not scouting for it, no.”

“Awww.” He grinned at her. “Here I was hoping you’d tell me where to fight them.”

“When they attack us, how’s that? There’ll be plenty of that, I’m sure.”

“I suppose.

He was far too much fun when he was mock-pouting. Cya swatted him lightly on the ass, because otherwise they’d never get going. “I’ll meet you at the square with the fountain – Denver and Seventh – in ten minutes.”

“Ma’am, yes ma’am.” He was grinning widely. Cya found she was, too.

It was time for another project.

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