Tag Archive | character: mieve

In Which There are Second Thoughts… and Third

First: A beginning of a story which obnoxiously cuts off just before the description,
Previous: In Which They Stop Kissing Long Enough to Talk.

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She lay in her bed staring at the ceiling. As far as she could tell, Amrit was still asleep. His breathing was even and he made little noises, sometimes, that did not quite sound like speech.

He was warm next to her. It was a petty concern, but she liked it. He was warm — and it was stupid, but she was coming to trust him.

Not stupid, she argued with herself. He’d made promises. Oaths. He hadn’t had to do that. And here they were…

Here they were, in bed together. Warm together, although it would be months before that was a real necessity.

She shouldn’t let herself get attached.

Too late.

She shouldn’t let herself trust him. He might be wearing a collar, still – he hadn’t said a word about that, and maybe he understood that it helped her relax – but he wasn’t Kept and he was far too fae to accept slavery without Keeping.

Too late.

She found herself thinking with his help, maybe I could sell some food at the market and not just honey, and wouldn’t it be nice to have fresh meat more often? and even hot baths. Hot water and what he’d said the night before,

If everyone could heat things up like I can, they wouldn’t need firewood.

He’d be useful. That was why she’d bought him, wasn’t it? Because she wanted someone useful around the place. Because she wanted someone to keep her company and it was hard to get a cat to do enough work to balance out their keep, and besides, cats weren’t great conversationalists.

He rolled over and looked at her, eyes still half-lidded with sleep. “You’re thinking very loudly,” he commented, his voice a soft rumble, like there was someone he didn’t want to wake up.

“Don’t tell me you’re a telepath, too.” She smiled a bit, even though he had no Keeping bond pressing on him to think that might be an order, no reason for her to need to soften it.

He smirked back at her. “Ha. No, it’s just something about your body language. Something’s saying ‘deep thoughts’. It’s kinda early in the morning for those, isn’t it?”

“Best time for ‘em,” she countered. “Before it’s light enough to get anything done, when it’s still a little chilly even most of the summer and I don’t feel like I have to start moving yet.”

“I suppose you have a point. Me, I never woke up before I had to until — well, I suppose even here I woke up when I had to.” He smirked and waved his far arm around demonstratively. “Nice to not be tied down. Nicer to be here with you.”

“Glad you approve.” She hesitated and then, because it was honest if not kind, “I’m glad you made the promises. I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to trust you, otherwise.”

“I’m not sure you would’ve. I’m not sure I would’ve trusted me,” he admitted. “I was pretty nasty when you brought me here.”

“You were pretty angry when I brought you here. You haven’t told me to fuck off in days.”

He smirked at her. “Well, I was pretty sure you’d gotten the point. So… I’ve still got almost three weeks on that set of promises. What do you want me to do with that time?”

“Oh, do I have to plan three weeks ahead?” She smiled lazily at him. “I was thinking more about the next ten minutes.”

His eyebrows lifted and he grinned widely at her. “You don’t say? Only ten minutes, though? I think I could fill at least the next hour.”

“I suppose the woodpile will still be there in an hour.”

“And the bees, and the garden. Yeah.” He leaned towards her to kiss her – and froze as he was suddenly half-over her.

Mieve froze as he did. Was he – no, he was frowning. She caught the back of his neck, above the collar (the collar, they’d have to talk about that sometime) and pulled him down. “You were saying?”

He grunted, startled, his lips barely an inch from hers. “I was saying that the chores would wait.”

“You know, I think you’re right.” She held on to the back of his neck and kissed him, long and hard and not at all scared.

He didn’t move when she released him, just stared at her for a moment. Then his tongue darted out and he licked his lips, letting a short laugh escape him. “You’re something else. And you know what? I like it.” He rolled onto his back and held his arms out for her. “Come here, boss. Chores can wait, right?”

She could kiss him for that. She should kiss him for that. Mieve straddled him and did just that, one hand on his shoulder and the other behind his neck.

He ought to be swearing at her and trying to get away. He ought to be worried, or nervous, or angry or…

No. He wasn’t the least bit submissive. She didn’t think he’d ever be. But he was under her, and he was moving under her and…

“Oh…oh.”

And for a while, she wasn’t worried at all.
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In Which the Kissing Continues

First: A beginning of a story which obnoxiously cuts off just before the description,
Previous: In Which They Have Nerves.

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The kiss was meant to be a promise, but it turned into an invitation. She liked the way he kissed, like he was taking he time with it, tasting her. She liked the way it felt when he put a hand on the center of her back to steady himself.

She twisted the rest of the way around, hands on his shoulders for support. His shoulders were tense; his brow was furrowed. His hands slid down her wet sides to her hips and held her there, delicately, like he was holding an egg, like he was afraid she might break.

She hadn’t lived this long in the end of the world to break easily. She ran her hand up the back of his neck, pulled him to her, and kissed him again. There was nothing delicate about her grip, and from the sound he made, he approved.
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In Which They Are Dirty

First: A beginning of a story which obnoxiously cuts off just before the description,
Previous: In Which There is a Kiss.

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“So,” she murmured, her head against his chest, his heartbeat pounding in her ear, “what next?”

“You’re asking me?” She could hear the way his chuckle rumbled and then caught. “Well. I think we could start with another kiss.”

“That sounds very nice.” She sat down on the floor and tugged on his arm, encouraging him to sit next to her. The carpet was soft here – two layers of throw rug criss-crossed. It made for uneven walking but kept the place warm.

Not what she should be worrying about at the moment, either. She looked at Amrit, considered the logistics, and squirmed until she was sitting in his lap, straddling him.

He pressed his hand against the small of her back, holding her close, and gave her a wry smile. “This, I admit, I never thought would happen. Not with you, maybe not ever again anywhere. Not that I’m complaining…!”

“Well, that’s a first,” Mieve teased. She saw his expression start to darken, his nose wrinkling, and ducked in to plant a kiss on his lips. “I’m glad you’re not complaining.”

“Me too.” He looked a little startled by that, enough that he repeated himself, a little more slowly. “Me, too. I’m glad I’m not — I’m glad I’ve got nothing to complain about.”

“There will still be work tomorrow,” she warned him — reminded herself, same thing, in the end.

“I’ve never minded the work. Keeps me busy. I mean, if you wanted to keep me busy some other way…” He grinned down at her.

“I imagine I could manage a little bit of that,” she allowed. “If you think that would hold your attention.”

What was she doing? Well, she suggested to herself, maybe she was kissing him. That sounded like a good idea, so she twisted in his lap and kissed him again.

He made a warm, throaty noise in the back of his throat that she found sent little shivers up and down her spine. His hand snaked inside her shirt and for a very brief moment, Mieve had a very pre-war sort of I am not dressed to be undressed sort of feeling.

Neither was he, and still a bit stinky from the exertion and the woods, she reminded herself. WHich gave her an idea. “You said you needed a bath… I could use one, too.”

“You can go first.” He sounded a little hurt. She suppose it sounded like she was trying to cut things off here. “I’ll get the water all heated up for you.”

“I was thinking… it’s quite a large tub. Bigger than you’d expect, in a cabin this size.” She forced herself to sound casual, even as worried as she was that he’d take that wrong, too.

“I can heat up a lot more than a tub… oh.” He looked at her face, and then looked again. “Oh, really?”

“Even for your gigantic height, yeah. Plenty of room for two.” Now she grinned at him, because his expression looked anything but reluctant.

“I’d like that.” His voice had gotten husky again. “If you would…?” He brushed his hand lightly against her cheek. It was a surprisingly tender gesture from him, and it made Mieve’s stomach flip-flop oddly.

“It’s not the sort of thing I’d offer if I didn’t want it.” She didn’t want to sound snappish and forced her voice level and friendly again. “So… shall we?”

“Yeah. Yeah, let’s do that.” He scooped her up in his arms and stood up all in one movement. Mieve clung to his neck.

“Amrit!” She did not squeal. Her dignity insisted that it wasn’t a squeal. “What are you doing?.”

“Going to the tub.” His grin was far too mischievous for her liking. It made her cling just a little bit more tightly to his neck. “I would’ve thought that much was obvious.”
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Beekeeper bonus interlude: In Which there is a Kiss

First: A beginning of a story which obnoxiously cuts off just before the description,
Previous: In Which Amrit Explains Something..

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She was doing it. She was really doing it. She was…

Her lips touched his and her hand went around his back to steady herself — when had he gotten so tall? Was that part of his power? Magical healing, grow an inch every time he broke a bone?

His lips were chapped, but after a moment, that didn’t matter. His hand found her back and splayed there, fingers leaving five warm places just below her neck.

He kissed like he was going to fuck her, rougher, more intent than anyone she’d kissed in a long time, maybe ever. He kissed like she was the only thing in the world, and, for a few moments, he was the only thing in hers.

She pulled back ruefully only when her toes complained. “You,” she murmured affectionately, “are far too tall.”

“I could be shorter,” he offered. “But I like being tall.”

She chuckled and, much to her surprise, hugged him, arms around his waist, pulling him in as tight as she could. He grunted once and then hugged her back, not loosening his hold until she released hers.

“I think,” she whispered, “I like having you here.”

“I think,” he admitted quietly, “I like being here.”
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In Which Mieve Actually Says Something

First: A beginning of a story which obnoxiously cuts off just before the description,
Previous: In Which Neither Amrit nor Mieve Communicate.

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If there was any forgiving to happen, you have it.

She didn’t know whether to feel dismissed, pleased, or worried. She felt a little bit of each.

“I had a Kept. I had a lot of Kept, but I had one, well.” She caught her breath, counted to ten, and tried again. “I thought things were fine. I treated him well and we were even sharing a bed. But when I released him, he attacked me.” Her lips twisted. “That was the last Kept I released here. After that, I took them miles away first.”

For a minute, he didn’t say anything. Then Amrit smirked at her – which had not been the reaction she was expecting at all.

“You know, that makes it sound as if you took them off and shot them in a field somewhere.”

Mieve was startled into a chuckle. “No.” She shook her head, trying to make the giggles go away. “No, nothing like that.” It wasn’t really funny, but she snorted again. “More like ‘go now, you’re free, fly, you’ — oh, I can never remember the quote.”

“Something like ‘magnificent creature’ or something.” He smiled crookedly at her. “So catch-and-release?”

She found herself snorting again. “Catch and release, yeah. Because…” Just like that, her good mood was soured.

He looked serious. “Because the one attacked you. You don’t mean ‘said bad things’, do you? Swore at you, called you a bitch, that sort of thing?”

“No.” Mieve bit her lip, thinking about it. “No, I don’t. He tried to kill me. Nearly succeeded, too.”

Amrit gave her a considering look. “You didn’t sleep with ‘em again after that, hunh?”

“Ha.” This time the laugh had no humor. “No. Well, for warmth, sometimes, but not like regularly. Not as a lover.” She looked out the window, thinking about it.

“What did you do? To the one that tried to kill you?”

Mieve winced. “Something stupid.”

“Stupid would be slapping him on the hand and sending him away.”

“Sort of. Knocked him out, drove him hours away,and left him there with a day’s worth of food.” She remembered the way she’d felt, the knot in her gut, driving away with him still unconscious.

“Why didn’t you just kill him? It would have been fair. Would have been safer.”

She gave him the answer she kept telling herself. “There’s too few of us left to go killing them.”

“That didn’t stop him, did it?”

“Yeah, well.” She rolled her shoulders and sniffed at the turkey. “Cooking nicely. I…” She made herself look at Amrit. “I was fond of him, okay? Couldn’t bring myself to kill him.”

“That’s not stupid, you know. It’s just human — well, it’s part of existing, I guess.” He patted her hand a little awkwardly. “Okay. I promise you that, unless you attack me with intent to cause me real damage, I won’t ever attack you.”

Mieve stared at him. “Really?” She processed that. “… wait, ever?”

“Ever.” He nodded solemnly. “You have my word.”

She sat, stunned, for a moment, watching the turkey in the pan, watching his face. He looked uncomfortable — nervous? No, he had no reason to be nervous. Did he?

Mieve licked her lips. “If I promise not to attack you, I don’t have any defense against you trying to run away, you know.”

“I guess I’m just going to have to not run away, then.” Amrit gave her a crooked smile. “Okay, look. I’ll stay — I’ll stay here with you, under your terms, until the last snow has melted — here in this clearing — from this coming winter. I promise it, okay?”

Mieve just stared at him. “I wasn’t…” She worked her throat and dug for words that made some sense. “Thank you. I — why?”

“You always ask that,” he complained.

“You keep doing strange and wonderful and completely surprising things! And acting like — I don’t know. You’re angry and you hate being here but you promise not to attack me, you promise to stay here, you’ve promised not to run off once already. It can’t just be because you hate the gag…”

“It helps,” he admitted, looking embarrassed. “I don’t like the chain, I don’t like the gag. But come on, I was never going to attack you more than I had to, to get away. I’m not that sort of ass. And you’ve been fair and kind when you didn’t have to, and you don’t treat me like a thing.” Suddenly, he glowered. “You would not believe how many people can’t say the same.”

“I probably would, actually,” she admitted. “The people out there, well, there’s more than one reason that I don’t go out all that much. And a lot of it is just people.”

“It’s a nice place, here.” He frowned. “Your Kept, did you ever find out why he attacked you?”

“He was, uh. He was angry that I’d Kept him. He didn’t like the idea of being enslaved.” It sounded a lot like Amrit, enough that she eyed him sidelong. “He said he wasn’t a thing. And that putting a collar on him meant I thought of him as a thing.”

“Did you? Consider him a thing? Like your footstool or your shovel?”

He looked alarmingly intense. Mieve met his gaze. “No.” She gave the question a little more consideration, still looking him in the eye. “I considered him a subordinate. Some people, I know that’s how they treat their Kept. Maybe he’d had a Keeper like that before me. But I, heck, I live out here all alone.” She smiled at him, feeling it stretch her mouth with a sort of humor she hadn’t felt in a while. Maybe that was unwise, with him staring like he was trying to read her soul, but she couldn’t help it. “If I wanted someone to help out and not be a person around me, I’d have gotten a dog. I mean, I have the Words for animals.”

He smirked slowly. “That’s really why you took the gag off every night.”

“A little,” she admitted. “But it motivated you to work harder, didn’t it?”

“You’re kind of clever, in a scary way,” he admitted. “So, you get lonely? That makes sense, just you and your bees.”

“That sounds a little bit pitiful.”

“No.” He shook his head, a thoughtful, considerate gesture. “No, I don’t think it makes you sound pitiful. I think it sounds reasonable, all things considered.”

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In Which Mieve is Uncertain and Unhappy

First: A beginning of a story which obnoxiously cuts off just before the description,
Previous: In Which Amrit sulks Usefully.

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Mieve had done her best to stay busy, even if she was being a bit more violently busy than she needed to be. She weeded, she sorted through her food stores, she cleaned the kitchen, she washed all the sheets and hung them in the brisk breeze. She made a list of things she’d need for the winter — they’d need for the winter — the stuff they could make here, and the things they would have to trade for.

She should find out his Words. Meentik, yes, and obviously tempero and Tlactl. Not Panida. So he could make things — what things? Making flesh didn’t seem all that useful — and he could control bodies. Good if they were attacked. Didn’t happen all that often, but sometimes roamers came upon her little hide-out, and she didn’t like attacking with the bees if she could avoid it.

Could he work with earth? More importantly, could he do that very nice Working her last Kept had, to turn earth into fuel oil for the stove and the back-up furnace? Could he work with heat and make the cooler into a fridge, so they could store leftovers in the summer?

She put some lentils on the stove with the last bit of sausage she’d traded for. Rice, she missed rice, and while she could grow legumes just fine here, rice wasn’t happening. She wondered how good he was with Huamu, with plants.

All of this was moot if he was just looking for his trick, for his way out. She ought to put the chains and gag back on him before he could attack her, before he could steal her tools, steal her honey or her stores of winter food.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, the beehive buzzed. She quieted the noise with something human, the way she always tried to do – a crossword puzzle. She was running out; she’d need to find a new one the next time she went out trading. Or get Amrit to start playing board games with her.

Again, could be a moot point. She put a lid on the lentils-and-sausage and started looking around for something nice for dessert. Not more apples, she was sick of apples. Maybe something like a cake? Or brownies – no. Chocolate. Another thing she missed more than she cared to admit.

She distracted herself with the trivial and the long-gone for a good hour while the sun slowly sank behind the trees. Crossword puzzle, cake, check on dinner, fret about stove fuel, crossword puzzle. She paced, walking down a groove she’d paced many times before. She sorted her books, putting back the few that had fallen out of place.

He was never coming back. He had run, somehow, despite all his oaths. She was going to have to move, or put up wards that would exhaust her, or…

He walked back into her clearing carrying a dead turkey. It was already field-dressed, she saw, and he looked both proud and abashed.

Mieve made herself walk, not run, out to the clearing. “That is a big bird.” She couldn’t help a smile, and not just because he’d come back. “That will feed us for quite a few days.”

“I missed meat,” he admitted. “But I forgot about uh, blinds, for a while. Sorry it took me so long.”

“Most of the meat out there is crepuscular anyway. Next time… maybe go out there just before the sun is going to set?” She looked him over. “You’re wet all over.”

“It’s summer, I’ll be fine.”

“It’s spring, and still cold. Let’s get this thing into the kitchen and decide what we’re going to do with it.”

“You have that fridge in the garage… we could probably use that as a cooler. It’ll hold a kwxe Working nicely, pull it down to zero super fast and put it in the freezer area. Surround it with blocks of ice, maybe?”

“I, we. One of my old Kept, he did that. It’s a good idea,” she agreed. “It’s why I kept the ‘fridge.”
He eyed her thoughtfully. “You haven’t asked me about my Words.”

“The gag sort of made that moot.” Past tense? Why had she used the past tense?

“Planning on putting it back in, then?” His shoulders tensed. Mieve couldn’t blame him.

“Depends,” she answered, even though she wanted to say Of course not. “Your promises will run out.”
“They will.” He stalked into the cabin, leaving Mieve to trail along behind her. “And you haven’t asked for new ones,” he called back over his shoulder.

“I didn’t need to, the first time.”

“I was feeling generous, the first time.” He dropped the turkey on the table. “How do you want to handle this?”

She studied the bird. “I’ve got it, just give me a second.” A series of long Panida Workings — it might be dead, but it was still an animal — and a couple judicious cuts with a cleaver later, the bird was ready for the freezer. She wrapped it carefully in butcher paper — another thing she would miss badly when it was gone. Like running water, like new clothes, like grocery stores. “There. Ready for flash-freezing.”
“Are you going to answer me?”

“You didn’t ask a question. But I’ll give you an answer anyway — after we get this turkey dealt with.” One leg quarter she left out, tossed into a pan for dinner.

“So these Workings are fine but then you’ll gag me?”

“You want your hard work to be useful, don’t you?” She should have told him she didn’t plan on gagging him. She should have assured him she wanted to know his Words. But that’s what he wanted, wasn’t it? For her to trust him?

“What do I have to do?” he snarled. “For you to believe I actually want to stick around? For you to trust me?” He slammed his fist down on the table, making the pieces of turkey bounce. “No, don’t answer that. I don’t really want to know how many more hoops I have to jump through. You line ’em up, I’ll jump. I told you I was here through the winter, and I’ll do that. But, let me tell you, I never liked-” he cut himself off with a wave of his hand and started freezing the turkey with angry, spat-out Kwxe Workings, pulling out all the heat in quick movements.

He was good, Mieve had to give him that. As a combat tactic, that would be terrifying. And he hasn’t started with that, any time he’d tried an attack.

She didn’t know what to say. He was furious… and she was a little bit scared.

“Thanks.” She gathered up the turkey and helped him carry it out to the freezer. “This’ll.. this’ll be good.”

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In Which Amrit Reaches and Mieve Backs Up

First: A beginning of a story which obnoxiously cuts off just before the description,
Previous: In Which Amrit Makes Sense.

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Every night, she sent Amrit to his bed, in his bedroom, and even though she wasn’t chaining him to his bed anymore, she still locked him in.

He wasn’t gagged and he wasn’t chained. It was a useless move, and she knew it. And yet, there she went, every night, and then slipped into her own bigger, more comfortable, softer bed.

He wasn’t swearing at her recently; he wasn’t arguing (much) with the chores she gave him, and even without the motivation of losing the gag for a couple hours, he was still cooperating and doing he work she set in front of him.

She lingered by his doorway this time. His leg was paining him less; she could tell by the way that he swung it when he moved, and by the way he wasn’t gritting his teeth as much when he didn’t know she was looking. He’d said five days; it’d been four. Pretty soon he’d have the splint off.

And then? She still had his promise, that was good for a few more days. And there was no reason to chain him up if she had all those promises. So why was she nervous?

“Something you need?” His eyes were closed, but he could hear her, of course, and the fact that the door hadn’t closed yet.

“No… no. Good night, Amrit.” What she needed was someone to grab her by the back of the neck and shake her, and even if he was going to volunteer for that, she didn’t think she wanted him to.

She closed the door, locked it, and went back to her bed. It had been warmer and more pleasant with Jerome there — but he’d left without a good-bye or a backwards glance when she’d freed him. Every other slave or Kept had done the same — except the one that had attacked her. She was better off keeping Amrit locked in his room and she in hers.

She stared at the ceiling for a while, the shadows dancing in the dark, before she managed to fall asleep, no matter how tired her body insisted she was.
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“You know I can haul water,” he was insisting, early enough the next morning that the sun was still tinting the trees instead of hanging in the sky. “Come on, you don’t have to do all the hard labor around here. Isn’t that why you brought me here?”

“You’re still injured,” Mieve argued. “And it’s not easy to keep your balance while hauling buckets of water, much less while limping.”

“There’s only so much I can do about anything while I’m injured, and it’s driving me bonkers. Come on,” he wheedled. “There’s only so much firewood a guy can chop. There’s only so many seeds I can stand sowing.”

“There’s a lot to be done,” she countered, but her heart wasn’t in it. “All right. Watering the garden is fine.”

“Maybe you can talk your bees into a little honey for the bread?” he offered, with a playful smile she’d never seen from him before. “That was really tasty the other day. You don’t sell all of it, do you? Your honey?”

“A lot of it. But no, I keep some.” She couldn’t help but smile in response to his look. “We can have toast and honey with lunch today.”

“You’re the best.” He graced her with yet another smile. “Show me everything that needs watering? I want to be sure I don’t water your weeds.”

She pointed out the beds of dirt and tiny seedlings that held plants, and he nodded and repeated it back to her. “Buckets, well, watering can. I can do that.” He glanced at her, then seemed to make a decision. “Do you sell your honey very often? You haven’t gone anywhere since you, uh, brought me here, and I didn’t see you bring back anything but me, then.”

Mieve frowned. “That could be useful information, couldn’t it?”

He held his hands up. “I’m just saying, if you need to make a run, I could help — or you could tie me up with chains and promises.” He huffed quietly. “I want to run, okay? I’m not going to lie. But in the meantime, I don’t want to screw up your whole routine.”

“Why not?” She twisted her lips; that hadn’t been the smartest thing to say. She followed it up with… well, she hoped it was an explanation. “You weren’t exactly happy to be here. What changed?”

I broke his leg.

That was not a reasonable thing to change someone’s entire attitude towards the positive.

“I, uh…” He frowned, and seemed to be arguing silently with himself. “Well, it’s like this. You could’ve done a lot of things when I broke the chain and ran — tried to run. You could’ve enjoyed the chance to punish me. I mean, you weren’t even all that bad before, even when I was being rude and miserable. You still fed me, you kept all your bargains.”

He coughed and shifted most of his weight to his good leg. “So, you know. You kept your word. I knew what that meant; I knew that if I ran, you’d keep your word again, you’d break my leg. Right? I knew I couldn’t get caught, I knew what I was getting into. I mean, yeah, I hoped if you caught me you wouldn’t…” He flapped both his hands at her in frustration. “You’re getting that expression again. Don’t, please don’t, okay?”

Mieve cleared her throat. “What, uh. What expression.”

“The one that says I’m a horrible person, I tortured him. You’re not – I think, I mean, I don’t know you that well yet, and you didn’t. You kept your word, which is what I expected. But you let me do it myself when I explained, so you weren’t, uh. You didn’t need to hurt me, you didn’t need to damage me, you just had to keep your word, no matter how much you hated it.”
“I’m not a monster.” The words went out of her mouth without consulting her first. She ducked her head, knowing she was flushing, feeling the heat in her cheeks, and sighed.

“And someone said you were, didn’t they? The humans, they all think all of us are monsters, and, you know, I see why. If you first experience with the fae is, like, the bastard calling himself Zeus or that bitch Hera that took over New York City, or some Nedetakaei monster that took advantage of the chaos, yeah. They’re gonna hate every fae they see for a while after that. But that’s nothing to do with us.”

She cleared her throat. He was trying so hard to be kind, and it was doing anything but helping. She didn’t want to stop him, but she just couldn’t listen. “It wasn’t a human,” she whispered. “Wasn’t even one person.”

“You’re not hiding out here because nobody spooked you,” he pointed out dryly.

“No. No, I mean. There’s always humans saying things like ‘the only good fae is a dead fae.’ I mean, I don’t know, they could be fae saying it, just to fit in. I knew I couldn’t risk being out in public too much, and I’m not strong enough to take on a whole hunting pack of Nedetakaei or anything. But that’s…” She shrugged. “Like you said. They’re scared, and they’re lashing out. That’s different.”

“Then who… shit.” She looked up in time to see Amrit lean against the wood behind him and sigh. “Shit. Your former Kept? Shit. Because, what, you buy slaves?”

“Well, you weren’t exactly happy with me for that,” she pointed out.

“Yeah, well, I suppose an argument could be made that you’re supplying the demand so they’re supplying the slaves, but it’s not like, uh. Well, you’re not that bad, you’re not bad at all.” He shrugged. “You’re not a monster. You’re right. And, you know, that’s why I don’t want to screw up your life here. I’ll stay through winter, okay? I’ll make sure I’m doing my share, because I don’t want to just be mooching off of you and then leaving. And you can have all that in a promise, if you want… and, yeah. Yeah,” he sighed. “I was pissed. I was really pissed. I’d been stupid enough to sleep where I could be grabbed, because I can’t be attacked all that well unless you cut off my head— hell, for all I know, I’d grow a new body, but let’s not try that, okay?” He grinned suddenly at Mieve; she smiled back, although less enthusiastic than his wide, open expression.

“I…” He shrugged and his smile twisted a bit. “I was pissed. And, uh, like I said. I don’t take orders well. And I really, really hated that gag. The one they put on me,” he added hurriedly. “The one you put on me was, well, pretty good, for a gag.”

“That was the idea,” she admitted. Hesitantly, because they were getting along so well and she didn’t want to ruin it, but she needed to know, she asked, “why are you telling me all this?”

“In a blatant and probably-futile attempt to get you to trust me a little bit,” he admitted. “And, uh. Well, I can talk to you.” He worked his jaw. “I can talk. So I’m feeling talkative? I figure sooner or later my promises will run out and you’ll put the gag back in, and then we’ll be back to where we were.”

The thought filled Mieve with disappointment. She frowned, puzzling over it. “Maybe?” she offered. “I mean…” She shook her head. Like he said, he was trying to get her to trust him. He was just playing all the cards he had at his disposal for that, and guilt was probably one of those. “Nah. Forget it.” She shrugged. “You’ve got a couple days left in your promises. If you want to go hunt, the bows are in the garage.”

She stomped away, doing her damnedest not to examine the emotions roiling around in her.

I just want you to trust me. She’d certainly heard that before. She had even believed it a few times. And, to be fair, the people she’d believed it from had wanted her to trust them. She still had some of the scars.

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In Which Mieve thinks too much – a continuation of BeeKeeper.

First: A beginning of a story which obnoxiously cuts off just before the description,
Previous: In Which Amrit Makes a Run For It.

Her captive was sitting in the shade of her biggest tree, his splinted leg stretched out in front of him. He was fiddling with the grass and rocks within reach and looking around, shifting his weight around, working his mouth around the gag like a horse champing at the bit.

She knew all this because she couldn’t focus. Mieve had found herself working in circles around him.
He’d promised not to run off… she made another circle. The bees were fine without her. The carrots and potatoes and turnips had been watered.

He hadn’t promised not to attack her… she made another circle. The squash had recently been debugged. (One of the advantages to post-hardware-store gardening she had and others didn’t: Abatu Panida, destroy animal, did wonders with a good book of garden pests for magical fumigation).

He had broken his own leg. There were so many ways that Working could have been twisted to attack her, and he’d done none of them. She made another circle, but there was nothing left that really needed plowing and there was nothing left to weed right now.

She could chop wood, but she’d have to go into the woods to do that. She made another loop. He was braiding bits of grass into sad little pieces of rope, holding down the end with a rope. He looked, she thought, miserable.

She made herself work on the garden for a few minutes. She could keep an eye on him there. She shoved the pitchfork into the rough soil she hadn’t planted this year and turned it over. She’d nearly slammed an ax into his leg. She’d nearly slammed an ax into his leg.

“Why?” Her voice was hoarse, and she wasn’t sure if she was asking him or herself. She felt as if she’d been screaming, when she’d been silently walking in circles.

He looked up, as if he’d been waiting for her to say something, and gestured at the gag with a shrug of both shoulders.

“Yeah, yeah.” She hadn’t really expected an answer, anyway. “That’s another why for another day.” She stared at the ground and thrust the pitchfork in again. There was still time for a few short-season crops, never mind that it gave her something safe to attack. The more food she had put away, the safer they would be when the winter came. And all the signs pointed at a bad winter.

“Do you ever stop working?” one of her early Kept had asked her. Implicit in the question – he’d been unused to any sort of hard work – had been another; did he ever get to stop working?

She’d grinned at him at the time, not because it was funny but because she’d spent the first year after the fall having the same argument with herself. “Winter,” she’d told him. “In winter we rest.”

Amrit gave her an answer, probably just to prove her wrong in not expecting one: he mimed eating and raised an eyebrow at her.

“Am I going to keep feeding you?” She stabbed the pitchfork into the ground again, turned over the soil, and stared at him. He was lean – no, skinny. There was muscle on his frame, but he’d clearly seen hungry days.

Everyone had, really. The world was not a kind place.

“Of course I’m going to feed you. You’ll eat what I eat – which, some days, might be a little thin, but I haven’t starved through a winter yet.”

He considered, then, after a moment, mimed something. He pulled one hand back to his ear and held the other one out, then pointed out the pointer finger near his ear.

It took her two repetitions to see the imaginary bow he was drawing and the imaginary arrow he was loosing. “Generally, I use snares,” she admitted. “Sometimes, if things are getting lean, I’ll use Workings, but it always seems creepy.” She leaned on her pitchfork. “You know, I’m really good at calling animals, so here I am, all Snow White – do you remember Snow White?”

He shrugged. That could mean anything. She explained anyway. “All musical princess, singing to the animals or something, and then, bam, killing them. Creepy.” She wrinkled her nose. “Although I’d be thrilled if I could find some chickens. Nobody wants to sell any.”

He looked up at the sky for a moment, then made an elaborate gesture. He repeated it twice, and, finally, Mieve saw the top hat he was taking off and the rabbit he was pulling out of his hat.

“Sadly, I don’t have the ‘create’ Word. You do, though, don’t you?”

He made a so-so gesture, and then made rabbit ears on top of his head. He followed that with a negation.

“Ah, so much more the pity.” She stabbed the pitchfork into the ground and turned over a few more feet. He couldn’t make animals. She couldn’t make animals. “I suppose I’ll just have to go out looking again, then.”

She surprised a frown on his face, or, at least, what she thought was probably a frown, since the gag obscured anything he was doing with his lips – by looking up at exactly the wrong moment. He shrugged and looked away, as if to say it was up to her.

“I haven’t done much exploring,” she mused. “All the years here and I go maybe four places, and that only when I have to.” She turned over a little more dirt, not looking at him. She wasn’t sure she wanted to see his expression. She was certain she wanted to know why he’d been frowning.

Finally, she gave in. She’d turned over a long patch of dirt, all of it a little more aggressively than it really needed. She wasn’t going to get anything else done while she was puzzling over her captive. Obsessing over him, if she was going to be honest with herself. She put the pitchfork back in the garage and gathered up her basket of walnuts.

“Bored?”

He snorted and nodded.

“All right.” She sat down beside him and handed him a chisel and hammer. “This basket needs shucking. This is how you do it.” She picked up a walnut and showed him how to crack the outer shell and get the green skin away from it. “Got it?”

He studied the chisel for a minute. Mieve’s heart was in her throat. Then he made a noise through the gag. It took her a moment to identify it as a chuckle.

Curiosity took only a few seconds to overcome caution, and she used a finger of telekinetic power to unlock his gag. He snorted in surprise as the gag fell out, caught it, and set it down next to him. It was harder than it ought to be; she should take it easy for a bit.

“Coulda used this instead of the ax,” he snorted at the chisel and hammer, and then chuckled again. Mieve stared at him for a moment before letting herself giggle
.
“Might’ve been easier,” she managed, before the giggle turned into a laugh.

He grinned at her, the grin turning quickly into another laugh, and before long, both of them were laughing and snorting.

It took Mieve a good few minutes to pull herself together and catch her breath. “So…” she offered. “Maybe we can skip the walnuts ‘till tomorrow.”

“Oh, I don’t know. Chiseling some shells might be fun. You trust me with this?”

“With a chisel? Yeah. I trusted you with an ax.”

“I was chained, before. And you hadn’t worn yourself out with Workings.”

She really wished he hadn’t noticed that. She knew she went still for a moment, and she knew he noticed, because his expression softened just a bit.

“It’s not like I can do much, my leg all a mess.” He gestured at it. “But, uh. Here. I promise for, um, the next month, I won’t attack you or, like, your bee hives or other things you need to survive, and I won’t, uh, use magic to try to escape or coerce you into letting me go.”

She stared at him. That was… “That’s kind,” she managed. “Thank you.”

He rolled his shoulders uncomfortably. “Yeah, well. I figure you didn’t, like, buy me to be a drain on your resources, and you didn’t buy me to chain me to your plow and make me do all your work. It’s not like you’re an awful person.”

“…I just broke your leg.” Why was she arguing with him?

I just broke my leg.” He shrugged. “You’re not a jerk. I don’t have to be a jerk. I mean, I still want to leave. I don’t belong to you and I don’t want to be a slave. But I don’t have to be an ass, while I’m here.”

There was something he wasn’t telling her, but Mieve had a feeling she wouldn’t find out what it was by pushing him. She picked up the second chisel and hammer, instead, and started working on the walnuts.

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In Which Amrit Makes a Run for It- a continuation of BeeKeeper.

First: A beginning of a story which obnoxiously cuts off just before the description,
Previous: In Which Amrit and Mieve Share a Little.

His “owner” was in a foul mood when she chained him to the bed. Still, she’d given him time to brush his teeth and use the john, and she made sure the chains weren’t cutting into his skin.

Amrit couldn’t quite figure her. She didn’t like him. She didn’t trust him. She didn’t want him here – hell, they agreed on that, at least. She got pissed fine when he taunted her, but then she tucked him in like she was gonna give him a teddy bear and a bedtime story.

He pulled on the chains holding him. He wasn’t going to get out of them, not short of destroying his hands. He’d wait. Eventually, he could cut the shackle she used when he was working. A quick dash for the trees, and he’s never have to think about this place again.

The pie’d been good, though. All the food was good. The bed was comfortable. The gag was even comfortable, even it it sucked. The truth of the matter was, even with hard work, even with chains and a gag, she was giving him a better berth than anyplace he’d been since the world ended.

But there were chains. And a gag. And he really didn’t like being a slave.

“Uggit,” he muttered around the gag. He’d be gone as soon as he could. Someone else would give him a berth in return for food. Somewhere.

~

The next three days passed in relative peace. Amrit did the work he was offered – plowing, chopping down trees, splitting firewood, He worked hard, and earned his hours without the gag in every evening.

She didn’t have much to say to him, after the first night, but the food stayed good and she kept her word.

He slept hard, chains or no. She was working him to exhaustion – he’d wonder if it was on purpose, to keep him docile, but she worked herself every bit as hard as she worked him, and then some. Amrit looked for openings to escape all day, but at night all he did was sleep.

Finally, four days after their first conversation, he had a moment where she was communing with her bees. The axe went down hard on the chain and split it in two strikes. Amrit started running the moment the chain split, leaving the axe where it had fallen.

He was out of practice, running, but it hadn’t been all that long that he’d been in chains. He stumbled once, caught himself, and was off again, as fast as he could move and as silently as he could make that speed. She was way on the other side of the clearing; he ought to be able to make it to the trees before-

He ran into a wall and fell backwards, sprawling. He pulled himself up to his feet and moved cautiously forward. There was nothing there, nothing visible, at least. But when he reached out his hand, just before the treeline was a wall as hard as rock.

He felt the grip around his neck before he noticed she was coming towards her. He held up both his hands in surrender.

“You’ve got an impressive swing. But you know what comes next.” She pulled him towards her as she walked to him, tugging on the invisible tether around his throat. “I warned you.”

She looked sad. For a moment, Amrit almost felt guilty. But she had … shit. His leg. And she was picking up the axe he’d dropped. Amrit bit hard on the gag. This was going to suck worse than getting kidnapped had. She was lifting the ax already, getting ready to swing.

The back of the axe was going to shatter his leg into pieces. Even with his healing, it was going to be a bitch to put it all back together, and it might never heal properly. She didn’t look like she liked the idea. She looked like she was steeling herself as much as Amrit was.

He took a gamble and held up both hands, grunting out the closest to wait he could manage.

She set the axe down. “I warned you what would happen,” she repeated.

He nodded. “Eh. Uh…” He whined in frustration. Making himself understood through this thing was frustrating in a good situation, and this didn’t count as good. He tapped at the gag. “Eee?” he pleased.

She frowned. “All right,” she allowed. Her telekinesis was still holding him firmly, and Amrit wouldn’t have tried moving even if it wasn’t, but she still circled him carefully, as if afraid he was going to attack.

He supposed it was a reasonable concern. Amrit held very still and tried to look as nonthreatening as possible.

“This is not the time for anything stupid,” she warned him, as the gag came out.

“No, I know, I won’t.” Amrit stayed still. “It’s… I heal fast?” he offered with a sigh, “so things heal bad really easy. And if you, well, here,” he held out his hand, where his pinkie finger had healed wrong years ago. “An axe, a hammer, anything, it’s going to be awful.”

He held up his hands to forestall whatever she was going to say. “Look. You said it, I did it anyway, I don’t mind taking my punishment. I’ll even fix the chain, if you want me to. But uh, I can break it. With a Working. And it’ll still be broken and it’ll still hurt like hell and… it won’t hurt for the rest of my life, is all I’m saying.”

Her face had softened, a bit, until he said Working He’d feared that would happen. “And if it’s a trap?”

“Then you knock me unconscious with your power there and smash my leg. Or both of them. You’re the boss. But it’s not. It’s really, just, I get freaked out by things like that because when they heal bad, it really sucks.” He rubbed at the side of his mouth surreptitiously.

Not subtly enough. She winced. “The new gag…”

“The new one’s nice. It doesn’t cut at all. The old one, that was bad.”

“If this is a trick, any sort of trick, then I am going to break both of your legs.” She looked him in the eyes. Amrit was suddenly glad that it wasn’t any sort of trick. “But you can do it.”

“Thank you.” He sounded a little pitiful. He was okay with that. “Can I, uh, may I sit down?”

“Yeah… yes. go ahead.” The TK she’d been holding at his throat loosened.

Amrit sat gingerly and stretched his left leg out straight in front of him. He said the Words carefully, so she didn’t have any question what he was doing: first an Idu, a Know, so he knew exactly what he was doing, and then a Tempero, shattering the bone in two places.

He got through the Working before he swore, loud and without shame, a long line of ”Fuuuuck, fuck fuck fuuuuck.” He slammed the ground with both fists and leaned back, trying to find a position where it didn’t hurt.

“Can you set it?” She was crouching in front of him, her hands near but not touching the break. “Or do you need me to?”

Setting it, shit. “I… Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck… yeah. I can…” He gritted his teeth, pulled himself together, and did another Tempero Working to set it in place. “‘Bout… five days,” he told her through gritted teeth. “If it’s splinted or held together somehow. Longer if I jostle it.”

“Okay. Here, hold it still for a minute.” She picked up two boards from a stack near the door and muttered a Working on them, then shaped them around his leg as if they were putty. In two minutes, she’d entirely immobilized his left leg. “You really thought you could make it? Or you wanted to see if I’d do it?”

“Thought I could make it. You were… unh. All the way on the other side of the clearing. Talking to the bees. You go all not-there when you’re talking to them.” The splint took a little pressure off, and his body was already trying to repair the damage. “Gods. How’d you even see me?”

She stood off, brushing her hands off. “You’re going to need crutches… I didn’t. See you, that is. You’re right. I got buzzy when I’m talking to them. One reason I don’t talk to people much.”

“…You didn’t?” She was already Working some wood into a pair of crutches. He noticed when she faltered halfway through the Working, and put two and two together. “Have you been keeping up some sort of…”

“Shield. Here, try these for size.”

“That’s nuts.” He took the crutches and began pulling himself to his feet. It hurt; he bit his tongue and hissed. “…That’s fucking nuts.”

“You weren’t exactly cooperative.”

“No, I mean. Well, I mean it’s nuts. I wasn’t cooperative, sure, but you had me chained.”

“And you broke the chain the minute I stopped paying attention.”

“Well, yeah, but… how much energy have you been pouring into that?” He got himself onto the crutches and tested them with a couple steps.

“It doesn’t seem all that wise to tell you that, now does it?”

“I mean… this is a good height on the crutches. Shit. Okay.” He leaned against the woodpile to get his weight off his leg. “I, uh. Well, I can’t go anywhere for a few days, but for…. the next month, I promise not to leave the clearing without your permission, okay?”

She stared at him. “What? Why?”

“Because you’re swaying on your feet from a minor Working and that’s dumb! And, uh. I don’t want to be here, don’t get me wrong. But I’m not going anywhere until I heal up anyway.” He looked at the woodpile. “I guess you can put the gag back on me and I can try splitting some more wood.”

She hadn’t stopped staring at him. “All that fighting and you just agree, like that?”

“Well…” Amrit glowered. She wasn’t going to stop talking about it. He was going to have to explain.

He really missed living out in the wilderness. Alone. In the cold, with the bugs and the rain. “I lost, right? You won. I’m stuck here. And I even did it to myself.” He shrugged shortly. “And you need your energy. That’s why you were looking for a Kept, right? Because you need more energy than you have in a day?”

“Yes, but…”

“Right, I don’t care.” He raspberried. “I don’t like being bought and sold. But I’m not a total asshole, all right? You feed me, you shelter me. Eventually, I’m going to escape. But until then, I mean, why should I be an actual drain on your resources?”

Was that enough? She was still frowning. Amrit shut up and hoped she’d accept it.

“You… have an interesting way of looking at the world. I accept your promise. Want to throw in one about not attacking me, and I can leave the gag off?”

He studied the gag, studied her. “Hrmff… put the gag back in for now. I’ll think about it tonight.”

She didn’t look disappointed, which was interesting. “All right.” The gag went back in, with the now-familiar mouth-stretching feeling and the slight sensation like he’d eaten too much. “Take a break for the rest of the day. Give your leg a little time to heal before you try to chop wood on it.”

He wanted to complain, but he’d already let her put the gag in. He gestured, to the gag, to the woodpile.

“You heal in record time,” she pointed out. “There has to be some punishment to trying to run away.”

Amrit huffed and agreed, or at least nodded at her.

“Find a place to sit down. Have no fear, I’ll have enough work for you once you’re healed up.”

Fuck you, Amrit thought, but he didn’t bother to vocalize it this time.

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Amrit and Mieve Share a Little – a continuation, once again belated, of BeeKeeper.

First: A beginning of a story which obnoxiously cuts off just before the description,
Previous: In Which Amrit & Mieve have a quiet evening .

Fae Apoc, approx. now.

Content Warnings: This setting, although not this ficlet, contains rape, mind control, and dubious consent situations.

This particular story contains kidnapping and slavery, bondage, violence, and will eventually contain Stockholm Syndrome.

Mieve

Her captive — Amrit, his name was Amrit, and how her fingers were itching to get to her dictionaries and her baby name books, to see what that name could hold in store for her — Amrit was quiet now, looking rather thoughtful.

Mieve was not stupid. She didn’t think this was more the the calm before the storm, but she had had too many storms in the last few months. She’d take any calm she could get.

“The first one was a bit of an accident,” she offered after a while. “After school, I didn’t think I’d ever Keep someone again. I didn’t really mean to. But I recognized him — he’d been at school with me, four years after me — and I, I don’t know, I felt like I had to get him out of there. I couldn’t leave someone I knew in the slave market.”

“You went to a school with other fae?” He worked his mouth again, like he was feeling at the edges where the gag had rubbed. She wondered if he knew she’d noticed how fast he healed, now that the poison of the hawthorn was getting out of his system.

“I did. A boarding school for Ellehemaei. It — well, like your Mentor, ours set us up with practice Keepings. But ours weren’t just for a month. The school year, usually.”

“Sounds like a hell of a school.”

“Well… It taught me enough that I’m still here. I found this place when I was running, and for the first two years I just kept waiting for the owners to find it. I guess they never made it out.” She was still both sad and relieved about that. “But I had to stay alive long enough to get here. And then, once I was here…”

He nodded. “Lots of people died, yeah? Couldn’t hack it, couldn’t figure it out.” He shrugged jerkily. “I probably wouldn’t’ve, but I’m tough.”

“I’ve noticed. And then, what? The slavers…?”

His face tightened. “Yeah. Caught me in my sleep, fuckers. And then you bought me.” He tugged on the chain. “And here I am. Chopping firewood.”

“The pie’s ready. Can you smell it?”

He sniffed the air, caught off-guard. “Yeah. Yeah, it smells good.” He leaned forward in his chair. “You’re really gonna give me some?”

“I’m not going to offer you something and then take it away.” She was a little offended, and then a little amused at herself for being offended.

“Don’t see why not.” The more he talked, the younger he seemed. She wondered if he’d even been Changed when the world had ended. “Lots of people do.”

“That’s not who I want to be.” She unlocked his chain. “Come on.”

“It’s gonna get pretty tiresome, leading me around on a leash all the time.”

“Oh, it will. I imagine it will get pretty boring being led around on that leash, too. Give me your word not to run away?”

“Yeah, right. Leashes can break.” He sneered it at her, even as he was moving placidly enough to the table. “Promises can’t. I’m not stupid.”

“No, I don’t think you are. And you don’t trust me to release you from your oath, and you don’t want to put a time limit on it.”

“I don’t want to be here. Pie or not.” He flopped down angrily in his chair. “I got kidnapped, wrapped up in chains, and sold. That does not make me cooperative.”

Mieve held up her hands, even as her TK locked his tether to the bolt in the floor. “I know, I know. I’d be cranky, too. I was cranky, when it was my time. But it doesn’t mean I don’t want to explore the options that don’t lead to you being on a leash the whole time you’re here.”

“Why?” He glared at the pie as she floated it to the table.

“Because it’s a pain in the ass.” It wasn’t good for him, either, but she wasn’t in the mood to have that scoffed at. “For both of us. That, the gag… not being able to trust you with Workings…”

“See? You don’t trust me either!”

“And I have you living in my house, in my hidden sanctuary.” She dished out two generous slices of pie and passed him a fork.

“Hey, you brought me here.”

“I did.” She was going to leave that slave-master with pants so full of bees he’d never be able to walk again. Maybe he was allergic. Maybe it would kill him. “And now we’re both stuck with it.”

“Just let me go, then.”

“No.” She glared at him. “Honey is worth a lot these days, and I spent a lot of honey on you. Besides, you’re not even all the way healed up.”

“Suddenly you care about my welfare,” he sneered.

Mieve sighed. She was going to have face the possibility “Eat your pie. I want to go to bed.”

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