February 28, 2016

In Which Darry Dreads That Time

September 19, 1198

"So." The flare in his hiss and the ice in his eyes would have made for enough of a shock if Nato had been in the habit of waiting for Darry outside of his bedroom door. As it was, Nato kept to his own room more often than not, and couldn't be said to have much more than a nodding acquaintance with any of the other seven men at Libra House. The shock of his appearance, plus the venom about his usually indifferent presence, was enough to make Darry forget that he had both the size advantage and the better standing with their housemates. "Mind telling me about this trip home of yours?"

Darry squinted, mouth falling agape. It wasn't difficult to figure out which days someone had classes if that person lived in the same building, but he wouldn't have guessed Nato to have been paying much attention. And it wasn't often that a student left campus on days they had classes, particularly for the span of more than a day, beyond a death or a wedding or some other such event--but, again, he didn't see what reason Nato had for caring. "...Sorry?"

"I happened to walk by the top of the staircase when you and Yvanette were talking at the bottom. You've been gone a few days--and according to my sister, so has she. Family matter, I take it?"

He and Nato might not have been friends, but the same couldn't have been said for their parents--particularly their mothers, who'd been thick as thieves long before either of their fathers were ever in the picture. Darry swallowed. "Surely your mother would have been among the first to know anything urgent."

"Only if your mother told her--or anyone." Which begged the question as to why Nato, of all people, was prying. "Yvanette mentioned one of your other sisters; she meant Aspen, didn't she?"

"Aspen." Darry bit his lip. She had, in fact, met Aspen. "Since when are you and Aspen close?"

"We're not." Not that it seemed to dissuade him from this confrontation. "She made herself sick again, didn't she?"

Darry blinked. Twice. "How do you know about--?"

"Ask her yourself how I know, when she's feeling better. Just tell me what happened this time."

"Why should I? It's none of your business."

"It is if I can do anything to get her to stop doing this."

"Well, you can't." Nobody could. And not for lack of trying. "She's too stubborn, and too good. She sees it as an obligation."

"She is not obligated to make herself ill so someone else can get better." As if that hadn't been what Darry and Yvanette and their parents had been trying to tell Aspen ever since it all started. "Who was it this time? And what does she have?"

"There was a fire in the kitchens. We managed to put it out before it could cause any irreparable damage to the structure, but some of the servants inhaled a little too much smoke."

"So Aspen took it on." Nato scowled--and Darry had to frown. In all his years of knowing Nato as his mother's friend's grouchy, aloof son, he recalled only a disturbance of privacy being able to get much of a reaction out of the man. "Fuck."

"She, uh... she's better now, if it helps." Not that it ever really did, but Darry didn't care to drag this out any longer than necessary. "It's just a light cough now. She'll be fine."

Nato sniffed. "This time."

Darry scuffed his boot across the floor. This time. He supposed Nato had a point there. Sooner or later, it was bound to be... that time. "We do our best to keep her from anyone really sick if we can. We didn't let her near my Uncle Searle when he was dying."

"Damn good thing you and your parents keep track of every dying person in the kingdom, then."

"What, you think I'm disagreeing with you? She's my sister! I care about her, you know--a hell of a lot more than you do." And to that, Nato could say nothing--finally. "What do you expect us to do, even? Do you really think she'd listen if we told her to keep it to minor scrapes and runny noses?"

"No, but perhaps you could persuade her to start here early. There aren't a whole lot of sick people on campus, and you can talk her out of healing hangovers by pointing out that the regular offenders might take advantage. And maybe she can get some perspective while she's here, if she picks the right studies."

Darry sighed. If only it were that simple. "Well, thing is... with powers like these, you do need to use them every now and then..."



Van said...


Winter said...

I'll say one thing for Nato - he's got the death glare down pat. The surprise about his displeasure and even his presence was really well done from Darry's perspective. It took me a minute to recall why Nato would care at all if Darry went home and why.

*sigh* Aspen. She does need a bit of protection against herself, but Darry was right about her being taken advantage of at the university. Not every student would even be accepting of her power, much less care about how using it affected her..It's good that Nato is so concerned, but Aspen clearly can't be contained right now. She might have to learn the hard way, and hopefully it won't be too great a cost

Van said...

Nato may or may not have spent most of his time since his last appearance secretly smitten, but he's such a master of the death glare that no one would suspect anything. ;)

Aspen is a dangerous combination of strong moral compass and loose cannon. She obviously means well, but she's reckless about it. Self-destructive, even. Hopefully she learns how to pick her battles before she does something she regrets. :S