December 14, 2015

In Which Nato Can't Take It Back

October 14, 1196

"Look, I get that you're trying to be nice, but it's not a big deal. Jadin does stupid shit like that all the time, and it's always Severin or me who ends up paying for it." Nato wiped his palm's latest gush of blood onto his tunic. If he could get to his room, let it clot, and change before his mother saw him, everything would be fine. And maybe his idiot little brother would stop trying to befriend every visibly unfriendly chained up dog he walked past.

But it figured that it would happen on a day when his cousins Alina and Viridis were only a couple minutes behind on their walk back from the school, and doubly so on a day when they'd chosen to bring Aspen home with them. "Aren't my cousins waiting for you at my Uncle Lonriad's?"

"They can wait a few minutes." Aspen offered a hand toward Nato's own injured one, but he pulled it back. It hadn't been too many years ago that Aspen had been his parents' friends' annoying daughter who liked to follow him around and always found him no matter how cleverly he tried to shake her. He'd finally gotten used to her being a tolerable human being who could keep their acquaintance to friendly nodding. Surely she didn't want him losing that progress. "Nato, you're hurt."

"I'm fine." He folded his arms, tucking the injured right hand into the crook of his left elbow, as if hiding it from view would make her forget it. "If it bothers you that much, I'll get one of the maids to fetch me an ointment or something. Just get out of here before my mother sees you and you blab and I get in trouble."

"I won't blab!"

"Yes, you will. I've known you since you were a baby, remember? You haven't shut up since you learned how to form a syllable."

"You don't know me. We're not friends. Actually, you don't seem to have any friends--and it's not hard to see why." If she was at all apologetic for that remark, she did well to not show it. Everyone said that Aspen was the exact image of her father if he'd been a girl, but that blunt tongue had to be her mother's. "Hand. Now."

"No." Nato scowled. "And I do have friends."

"Your sister doesn't count."

"I didn't mean my sister!"

"Well, neither does your brother--or your dog." Shit. He'd been thinking of the dog. "Give me your hand."

"Go home."

"No." With a strength he didn't quite expect of a scrawny fourteen-year-old, she pried his arms from their fold and grabbed his injured hand with her own left. Nato fought to keep her from pulling it to her eye for inspection, but she kept her gaze on him anyway, green and stubborn and annoyed, just squeezing his hand as if the touch were all that mattered.

But it wasn't half a minute before she let go, leaving his hand both warm and numb, as if he'd been sitting on it.

Warm, and numb--and without the stinging remnant of the bite.

Nato jerked back the hand and stared down at the palm. Fleshy, clean, unmarked. "What the--?"

Aspen glared at him. "There. I could have already been halfway to your uncle's from here if you hadn't been such a baby about it."

"How was I supposed to know that you were just going to do... that? Hell, I don't even know what that--" He stopped as he noticed her left hand dangling at her side, clenched in a fist--with a ruby red liquid leaking between her fingers. "Shit!"

She may have surprised him with her strength, but a knight's oldest son didn't go through his training without developing keen dexterity and quick reflexes. He pried open her hand and stared down at his own wound of seconds prior, now wreaking havoc on someone else's hand. "No. No, no, no. You couldn't. You didn't."

Aspen said nothing. She just looked away.

"I can't let you do this. Give it back."


"Yes." He squeezed the hand, trying his damnedest to mimic the motion she'd used before. All he got for his trouble was her blood on his fingers. "For God's sake, Aspen, give it back!"

"I can't." She yanked her hand back and hid it against her other arm. "It only goes one way."

"Just to you?" That wasn't fair. That wasn't fucking fair. "How do you do this?"

She shrugged. "I don't know. I've just always been able to."

"How often?" Nato grabbed the bottom of his tunic and tore off a strip of fabric. At the very least, he wasn't going to let her walk away with his wound without bandaging it up. "You don't do this all the time, do you?"

"No. Usually just for my siblings. My parents don't want me doing it at all; they don't want anyone to know." She gave up her hand for his makeshift bandage, but not without some reluctance. "You didn't have to ruin your tunic."

"To hell with my tunic. I have six more just like it." He wrapped the strip around her hand as many times as it allowed, then tightened it up and tied the ends together. "If it's supposed to be a secret, then why let me in on it?"

She snorted "Who would you tell? Your dog?"

"I'm not going to tell my dog!" As if even his dog would believe him. "Or anyone, all right? But I'll walk you over to my uncle's place."

His Aunt Morgan would have definitely had a suitable medicine on hand, but he didn't think he could go the day not knowing whether or not Aspen got some of it.



Van said...

It has been quiiiiiite some time since we've seen either of these two. Especially Nato, who I'm pretty sure appeared last as a toddler.

Winter said...

Aspen has really grown up lovely - better even than her namesake, it seems.

As much as is possible, she seems to have lucked out with her power. It has a positive impact and isn't random or threatening to her. (It could be in a different sort of family or kingdom, but nobody will be compelling Aspen to heal against her will.) She's got that tender streak in her that her father bestowed upon Rona in his former life, and the power underlines it.

Nato's grown up really well! He's a bit gruff and rough around the edges, but in a good way. I have a feeling Aspen's days as annoying younger child in his books are at an end...

Van said...

She's quite a gorgeous Sim. :)

Definitely! It's not harmless-if-annoying like Darry's, but at least she has control over it. Aspen's got a good heart, so the power will get exercised every now and then, but she's not so indiscriminate as to risk revealing herself or being taken advantage of.

Haha... teenage Nato is, I suspect, the worst of both his parents. XD But, the worst of either parent really isn't bad.