Her heels clicked on the perfectly polished floor as she walked down the hallway towards Jasper’s room. She swiped her security pass and pushed open his door without hesitation.
“Good Morning. Who have we got today?” Lyra said, trying not to sound tense or let her exhaustion show.
“I think her name is…Sherry?” came the smug and amused response.
“Sheree…” corrected the dark-haired young nurse, who was hastily smoothing her dress, a pink tinge to her cheeks, “I was…I was just giving Mr Black his…um, medication.”
‘Mr Black’ looked up at Lyra from where he sat on the chair with a smirk and a wink, shaking his head.
“Sherry is a terrible liar…”
“Sheree…” the nurse mumbled again, shaking her head and turning a darker shade of crimson. Those wicked blue eyes widened and Jasper shrugged, slouching in his seat.
“Whatever,” he said, eying Lyra with a mischievous glint in his gaze. She turned her eyes on the young woman and smiled. It was not a kind smile, but cold and wolfish.
“Yes,” Lyra purred, “Sheree, certainly is…” then, to the nurse, “Miss Walters, if you could kindly give us a moment. I would like to speak with Mr. Black.”
‘Miss Walters’ nodded and bit her lip, mumbling a response in the affirmative and hurrying out of the room. Jasper watched her go in silence, his lips curved in a wholly self-satisfied smirk. When the door clicked shut, he flicked those cobalt hues to Lyra, a brow lofting as he tilted his head.
“Forgiven me already? Or have you come to yell at me about something new?” There was no malice or challenge in his tone, merely mild curiosity.
Lyra didn’t smile, though she wasn’t evidently upset. In fact, she didn’t show any signs of emotion at all.
“I have come to notify you of a small change in your treatment. Due to recent study indications…a merge with a reluctant identity may still be possible, with co-operation from the core.”
Jasper blinked and watched her for a moment, assessing her words, his lips curving into a genuine smile not long after.
“Is that right?” he asked, “Well isn’t that interesting…” his gaze lowered, drinking her in from tits to toe and back again, “Very interesting.” He met her gaze again and waited.
“No. ‘Interesting’ is what I call very specific security faults around the same exact time that my visitor register has a page carefully cut out and shredded,” she replied, watching him carefully, “‘Interesting’ but not ‘Committed to Recovery,'” she added.
-I’m on to you, Black-
He laughed in delight, shaking his head, not even bothering to deny it.
“Oh go on, so I wanted to fuck someone other than these goddamn boring nurses…sue me…” he pouted at her, batting his eyes, “It’s lonely in here Lyra, and Baelian is driving me up the wall…I figured a little tough love wasn’t gonna hurt anyone…much…” he tilted his head again so that his hair fell across his face, exposing the fading scratch mark over his right cheekbone, “Okay maybe it hurt a little…”
Lyra blinked. She had thought it might have been Luxx with another lot of pills.
He hadn’t deleted footage of any other of his conquests, and it sure as hell hadn’t been Bethany or Bella…
“Asinoe?” She felt a little hollow echo of what would have been betrayal. He bit his lip, shaking his head.
“Not telling. You’ll just get angry. It could have been the submissives…or maybe I sent for one of Barbuto’s girls…” his words trailed off when he saw the unimpressed look on Lyra’s face, “Okay, yes it was Sin, but it was a necessary evil. I don’t know if you know what their addiction to each other is like, but it goes both ways…poor Asinoe was beside herself without her Baelian…I gave them some quality time so that he’d sleep and I could wake up without a pounding headache after he spent all night slamming his head against a wall…” He made a face, eying her through the veil of his dark hair.
“And for your information I don’t know anything about any security faults,” he sniffed haughtily, almost as an afterthought.
She smiled calmly, hopelessly. Whether it was Asinoe or Luxx she would never be sure…nor did she particularly care.
-Of course, he’ll keep playing. Of course, we’ll all run around and corrupt everything we touch, if it wasn’t corrupted already. None of it has consequences for us.-
“If I am the only one prioritising your recovery, it is best I know now,” she said pointedly. Jasper pouted again, slouching further into his seat, his head falling back as he stared at the ceiling.
“You’re asking a sex addict to stop fucking the people he loves cold turkey, as well as taking away his booze and drugs, Dr Monére,” he muttered sulkily, “I haven’t had a drink or any pills but what you’ve given me for weeks…sue me if I want someone to come hurt me once in a while…” his words trailed off and he blinked, rolling his head to look over at her, “It’s what I was raised to do.”
Her face flickered a sneer, but it fell away back into the disconnected void in the pit of her stomach.
“We treat many addicts here, Jasper…though to be honest, you are progressing comparatively well in your recovery considering most of the others housed in this wing,” she walked briskly to his chart, left where the nurse had abandoned it on the bed, and pulled out a pen. “Perhaps if you are very good, you can have some ice cream…” If she had not said it so coldly, it may have been a jeer.
“And will you feed it to me, Dr Monére? It’s been so long I’ve forgotten what you taste like…” his eyes followed her to the bedside, that something darkness dancing in his gaze for a moment as he watched her. “Oh, I’m sorry…I mean it…I’ve forgotten what ‘it’ tastes like…” He leaned forward in the chair, wriggling within the straightjacket as he stared up at Lyra. “I can be good,” he offered after a moment, studying her.
She looked at him, almost sickly amused by his ‘progress’.
-Baelian will even you out- she thought to herself.
It would take time, and work, but what else had she to do if not this? She had come too far to shie away from it now.
“You’re an addict, Jasper, not a cripple. Surely feeding yourself isn’t too much to ask?” She clicked the pen, hovering over the dosage of her new prescription almost nervously.
“Yeah now see…it’s funny how much you just can’t do in a straightjacket…you’d think after Belladonna we’d be used to it…” he shrugged and rose from the chair, flexing his legs and giving her plenty of time to retreat if she needed to before sauntering over to peer at the chart over her shoulder.
It had been ages since someone had been near her, and some small part of her wanted to dive on him and hug him, begging him to tell her that she was going to be ok…that she had a family and friends.
‘He is not your family.’
No. The small part was squashed without even a nod in its’ direction. He wasn’t her brother, he owed her no comfort, and she deserved nothing more than her current path would give her.
She tapped her pen on the page, ignoring the familiar scent of his skin.
“I’m considering your new medication…and a new visitation policy.”
Jasper nodded and inched closer, blue eyes scanning the chart.
“Okay, so what do you need me to do?” he was practically leaning on her shoulder now, surreptitiously breathing her in, “I can play nice…” he glanced at her then returned his attention to the medical record, “You’re not sleeping either are you?”
“No,” she said softly, clearing her throat a little, “No. I don’t have time nor the inclination. You are…a tricky case and your previous doctor’s notes are…complex.” She started jotting down names.
Please contact – Grigori Katorga, Eden Dream…
“A tricky case…” he echoed softly, watching her write, “Sounds like me…” He waited a moment longer then pressed his chin ever so gently against her shoulder, “Can I tell you a secret, Lyra?” he murmured, brows furrowing at the names she jotted down, “I’ve done some of it for you…”
“Have you now?” she sounded almost amused.
“Mhmm,” he replied, resting on her more fully as he watched her scribble away, “I smooshed her. She’s gone. One down.”
The name danced through her mind and she blinked in surprise, resisting the urge to kiss his cheek.
“That is excellent news…” she replied calmly, “Was this after the first change of medication or the second? Did one feel different from the other?” she paused, “Dibs on telling Grigori…” He sniggered and turned his face into her neck, breathing her in and leaning against her back…as well as he could considering his restraints.
“No way,” he murmured into her, “Not until the perfect moment for maximum impact…and then maybe if you’re nice to me you can tell him…” he smirked, then looked at the chart again, “I don’t know when it was…one day she was just gone.”
Lyra nodded and thoughtfully bit the pen, shifting away from his slightly, distracted.
“Well,” she scribbled out a number and changed it, “What about Niki? You’ve been more….assertive, lately…” It was not the word that the reports had used, but she wanted to tread carefully.
“What about him? I don’t know much…no one ever really talked about him to me except the Professor…” he moved away suddenly, turning to lean back against the bed, peering at her carefully, “What’s he like?”
She looked at him then, giving him her undivided attention, her senses on high alert though she hardly knew why.
-The Professor talked to you about Niki?-
She considered her options and the possibilities, then decided it was best to be honest.
“Nikolai displays typical psychopathic behaviour. No doubt he is the part of you that we were all supposed to grow up to be. Very social, charming, manipulative…he has your intelligence with the focus and lack of attachment to utilise it…” a slight frown painted her features as memories surfaced, “I didn’t have a good chat to him the few times I met him as an adult. I have either been unable to speak, hospitalised, or trying to encourage other people to maintain a safe distance…” she looked at him.
-Tiptoe…through the tulips…-
He tried and failed to hide his amused smile, his eyes closing and his head bowing as a chuckle escaped wry lips.
“So…tell me the bad news?” he opened his eyes again to look at her, perking a brow and smirking, “At least I’m not trying to kill myself or crying in corners…” he paused then frowned, studying her intently, “Did you ever wonder if maybe all we’ve been fighting this whole time is ourselves? Maybe we’re already what we were supposed to be and we’re just not dealing…”
Lyra smiled at him politely, Simon’s face flashing into her mind.
“Why no. It never occurred to me at all,” she pursed her lips and put down the file, “There is no ‘bad’ news, there is simple fact. Good and bad are too objective for medicine…” she stopped, hearing her mentor’s words coming out of her mouth, and tried a different track, “Is it something you are concerned with? Becoming something other people wanted you to be?”
“Sarcasm is wholly lost on you, isn’t it?” he laughed, then all at once turned solemn, “No, I know who I am…unlike some people. I’m not anything but what was intended…Cry-baby on the other hand, he’s forgotten that he’s not real…that’s why he’s so fucked up about it all. No understanding about his place…” a slight note of irritation crept into his voice, “Not like you and I.”
She was about to defend Baelian, to point out that he was a part of the whole and thus a person in his own right, but the last line threw her and she stiffened.
“…And what place is that?”
He tilted his head and blinked at her, his expression becoming more serious as he noted her reaction to his words, “The place where we make the rules and don’t spend our lives running around in circles for the amusement of others. Do you even remember what that’s like?”
“Don’t play me. I have already committed everything to helping you,” Lyra’s face said more than her words could, and a frown ghosted her features. She rubbed her eyes wearily, frustrated with the annoyance flecking her tone, “I am sorry. That was unprofessional.”
“I’m not playing, I’m speculating…and don’t tell me that you’ve never thought about it…” his tone softened and he frowned at her, “I appreciate your help, you know. I know I don’t say it enough, but I do…” Blinking at her with those wide blue eyes, he gave her a wistful smile, “I’d, like, be all affectionate and shit…but I have no arms.”
Lyra smirked then looked at the clock, grateful for the change of topic.
“Did ‘Sherry’ undo your jacket and allow you to stretch? Of course, she didn’t… She was too busy…” she gestured with a finger to call him over. He grinned at her and shuffled sideways along the bed till he was almost in front of her.
“Sherry had better things to worry about. A girl has to prioritise…” he teased.
“I’ll bet,” she chuckled, shaking her head as she undid the straight jacket, carefully guiding his arms out of position.
-God, I’m a sap- she thought to herself. She knew…she knew it was a bad idea, letting him loose when she was alone with him, but something inside her spurned her on. Maybe it was that glint in his eyes.
“If Baelian taps in, you’re going straight back in. I don’t have the patience to clean up tears and blood off my walls…” she told him firmly, waggling a finger at him and pulling the restraints off, “Now roll your shoulders, you were bound a bit tight…” She placed the straightjacket at the end of the bed.
“Oh, fuck me…” he groaned, flexing as he was told beneath the thin cotton shirt that remained. He made a face, bright eyes glimmering at her as he frowned. “Firstly, I’m insulted that I’m now less of a threat than Baelian…and even if I wanted to do something to you I’ve lost all feeling in my fingers…gah!” He flexed and wriggled again, lifting his hand and flopping it around. “Ooo look I’m a muppet…” His eyes lit up, “I’m GRIGORI!” He collapsed into laughter, then winced as if his neck had twinged, “I don’t suppose you know Thai massage?”
Lyra had lost it at the muppet/Grigori impression, her expression slipping as a girlish giggle escaped her lips. Then she shook her head. ‘Sherry’ was fired.
-Servicing him is one thing, but ignoring the wellbeing of MY brother and patient?-
“For god’s sake, turn around,” she grabbed his neck and pushed him to swivel on the bed, digging her fingers into the muscle, “I know muscles…I am a doctor, remember?”
“I remember a lot of things actually,” he murmured, making a thoroughly satisfied purring sound in his throat at her touch, “You know you’re different than what I thought you were…” his head tilted back against her and he smirked, “I don’t know how I missed it.”
Lyra raised an eyebrow and smirked, resting a hand lightly behind his ear to guide his neck sideways, stealthily check his heart rate as she did.
“Is that so?” she asked, digging into a tense muscle on the other shoulder. He grimaced at the jab of her fingers, a masochistic smile dancing at the corners of his lips as he watched her, lashes fluttering slightly as she kneaded his shoulders.
“It is indeed,” he replied, “Little Lyra Monére, imaginary friend extraordinaire, all grown up and surpassing her mentor. The old cunt is probably wanking himself into a stupor in his grave, thinking about how far you’ve come…the perv…”
She dug her finger in deeper, a little spitefully. His breath caught at the sudden jab, eyes widening as that darkness pooled and swirled in their depths again. He glanced at her.
It was a sore topic.
Lyra gave him a pointed look, guiding a hand behind his back and pressing an elbow into his shoulder-blade.
“He may be…if he ever gets over the resentment,” she smirked. His lazy smile widened and he let his lashes droop, head bowing slightly as he sniggered at her words and he shifted to accommodate her ministrations.
“True…but do we care? No, I don’t think we do.”
Oh, she cared. The Professor’s resentment was, to her, just another unanswered question.
-That time already, is it?-
His breath had quickened somewhat, coming in even but short intervals, his tongue snaking out to wet his lips as a tremor ran through his form.
“So, are you gonna ask me?” he murmured to her. Lyra had noticed the change in his demeanour and carefully slipped off her heels, smiling in answer to his question and shifting her hands, her eyes flicking to the door.
“Ask you what?”
He shrugged nonchalantly, flinching as the movement seemed to pinch a nerve, those shimmering eyes flicking causally her way again.
“You said we’d never had a moment to speak, so I’m just wondering…as a medical wonder-kid you must have questions. Ask me…” A hand came up and he curled and flexed his fingers, studying them absently, “Sherry sucks at cutting nails too…look at that, I could gouge someone’s eyes out…”
“Oh, now. See. We were doing so well,” She chided him and sighed, “but then, the arrogance, the implied threats….” Her hands trailed off his shoulders, disappointment filling her features, “I was hoping the slow recovery would have given you manners…” She smiled, her tone turning cold. His arms crossed over his chest and he shifted on the bed to face her more fully, brows lifting as that amused smile continued to dance at the edge of his lips.
“I was merely pointing out the flaws in the service here,” he said evenly, “I hardly need to imply anything. And as for arrogance, Doctor Claudia Monére, there’s only one of us here with hoity toity bloodlines…though I’m pretty sure old Armand would be scandalised by your lack of shoes…” he pointed at her feet almost smugly, “Planning to run, are you?” he winked.
“You were ‘merely’ trying to unsettle me. Rather slapdashedly, might I add…perhaps I should send Grigori in here, it might work better on him? If he’s conscious he may even muppet for you…” she paused, then added, “I don’t run…it’s undignified.”
He snorted good naturedly, making a face that clearly told her what he thought of Grigori and his ‘muppeting.’ She felt a flicker of familiarity, playfulness – even though more dangerous now – and that familiar back and forth. She realised with a start that she was smiling. It was contagious, his blue eyes shone with mirth and he threw her a feigned look of repentance.
“So, I have some self-preservation habits that may be considered hostile…it’s not the worst of my traits…” he offered, then held out his hand to show his nails, “Look, did I lie?”
She shook her head.
“Never called you a liar.” Her eyes moved to the door again.
-You should leave-
She had achieved her reason for coming…but, she admitted, she was interested in Niki’s state of mind…and lonely for the company of anyone other than the servile or inane.
“No, you called me a psychopath,” he teased, “Which is probably fair, from your perspective, if somewhat hypocritical…but then, it’s always easier to point the finger at others, isn’t it Doctor?”
“I am not a psychopath, clinically speaking,” she pointed out, “I have no problems seeing my faults, they have been written up in detail…like all of ours…and I have spent all but the last few days studying them day in and day out.”
“Mmhm, I see…” drawing in a breath, he raked a hand through his unruly hair, pouting a moment later, “And my massage stopped why?”
“It stopped when your manners did,” she tutted, “Jasper at least would pay lip service to the magic words.”
“Yes, well, the child wasn’t raised to be King of the world now, was he?” came the reply, “It’s not in my nature to play nice for nice’s sake, Claudia…” He thought for a moment, his expression becoming pensive, “Is that what I am? Clinically psychotic? According to whom? Your sterilised, pruning sugar-daddy?” He didn’t seem bothered by the label, merely curious about its implications, “Is that what you think of me?”
“Every diagnosis is just a label,” she sniffed, “It isn’t who we are, it’s something someone names us that we navigate one way or another. What I think of you, or rather, the forming opinion, has very little to do with any diagnosis.” She gestured to the bed again. ‘Please and thank you’ aside, if he gave her a reason to stay and chat more, she would take it. He blinked and gazed at her in silence for a moment, weighing up her words and his options before moving on the bed into the position he’d originally been in.
“How far back do you remember?” she asked, curiously, sliding her hands to his shoulders again.
He shuddered when she touched him, then relaxed and wrinkled his nose. He didn’t answer for a moment, then shrugged.
“Bits and pieces from everywhere…” he said carefully, “But to be honest, with all the fabulous intoxicants it’s hard to know what’s mine and what isn’t.”
She froze, curious and a little jumpy at his shudder, watching him as he settled before easing her hand back around his shoulders and starting to find knots to work on.
“You said last time it was easier to ‘tap in’ with Baelian out of action. Are you finding it easier or harder on the new medication?”
“It depends on how upset he is. He’s holding on for dear life, that one. You’d think he didn’t want to get better…” He thought for a moment, then shrugged, “Which suits me fine, let’s be honest.”
Lyra frowned and continued to knead his muscles, teeth grazing over her lower lip.
“I notice you aren’t asking me to keep you all separate any more. As my favourite agent of all things chaos, I would have thought you’d be the first one signing the petition,” she paused, “Do you feel like your role is no longer required?”
He’d closed his eyes and let his head loll forward, dark hair falling over his face. His hands pressed against his knees, fingers curling and uncurling, knuckles turning white and he made that sound again, that half purr half growl in the back of his throat, lips curving into a blissfully serene smile.
“My fate will be what it is, I see no point begging and crying about it. That’s Baelian’s job…”
Lyra lowered her head and worked in silence for a moment. She recognised the sentiment, it was the very one she expressed when she committed herself to curing Jasper.
“Yes,” she said finally, softly, “For us both.”
“On the plus side, we made it this far. Who’da thunk, right?” his head tilted towards her, blue eyes veiled by errant locks, “And here we are, old chums, sharing the gossip over a massage. Forgive my lack of chocolate to offer…hospital cotton chic doesn’t come with pockets…” He winked to soften the jibe, his grin telling her that he couldn’t help himself if he wanted to.
She habitually reached out and pushed the hair from his eyes, fingers curling it delicately over his ear.
“That’s ok. I think I can go without the extra calories and sexual assault.”
His hand was clamped about her wrist in an instant, surprising both of them – his eyes had widened and for a moment he looked as if he wasn’t sure if it had been him that had moved at all.
Then blue eyes narrowed, his smile becoming more predatory, his breath quickening instantaneously as a strange light flickered in his eyes. There was a strange glazed look in them when he looked at her.
“Jacob,” he said coldly, “He used to wear that Jackal mask…do you remember? He was the Jackal and I was the Wolf…and we’d wear those things and hunt the little girls through the ballroom. Do you remember the smell of blood? I always wanted to smell your blood, Claudia…they wouldn’t let me…not for the longest time…” His grip tightened.
“Yes,” she replied as coolly as she could, “I imagine the Professor put him in the Jackal mask to incite a sense of betrayal without showing me his face…you are hurting my wrist.”
She said it calmly, trying to push the urge to enjoy the pain aside. There was no Professor now, no White Room…she didn’t need to feel.
It was easier if she didn’t.
“What’s a little pain between friends?” He squeezed her wrist tighter, blinking and shaking his head, “Isn’t that what we are? Two of a kind…” His free hand had come up to make a grab for her hair, an unbalanced laugh falling from his lips, “Pretty little Claudia Monére…give me a kiss and I’ll give you a treat…”
She batted his hand away.
“No, we are not friends.”
With a sudden rush that came from months of exhaustion, rejection, loss and hate, Lyra dove on his lips with a violent needy kiss, pulling away sharply seconds later…disgusted with herself. Niki almost fell off the bed, both her willing kiss and her retreat so unexpected that he hadn’t guarded himself against gravity. The hand that gripped her wrist flew out, slapping palm down onto the mattress as he steadied himself.
For the longest moment he was completely lost and overcome in a haze of lust, lips parted as heavy and ragged breaths escaped him. Then he blinked, clearing the fog, staring at Lyra before collapsing into hysterical giggles. He slid off the mattress and onto the floor, laughing delightedly as if he’d just discovered something utterly wonderful.
Lyra stared at him in bewilderment, then started laughing too. It wasn’t the laugh of something wonderful, but of hopeless amusement at her own loss of control. Unsure of what else to do, or even if he could get up alone, she offered him a hand.
“I don’t think you’re ready for that, Claudia Monére…” he crooned, looking up at her with a shake of his head, his chest rising and falling with laboured breaths.
“Shall I leave you on the floor then?”
“You could always join me…” he murmured, “But we psychopaths are unpredictable and violent at the best of times, or so I hear.”
“Temping as it is to try my hand against you….Monères don’t sleep with Katorga’s either,” she smirked and shook her head.
“A bit late for that, isn’t it?” he countered. Lyra shrugged.
“If you are good, I’ll visit soon to check on the new meds.”
He smirked, not even the least bit insulted though even he could not hide the slight disappointment in his gaze. She blinked at him, lingering only a moment too long before collecting his chart and heading towards the door, throwing him a glance as she reached for her passkey.
He was leaning back against the bed frame and watching her as she fussed with her papers, waiting until she had opened the door before calling out a single word after her.
“Kundalini,” he said softly, just loud enough for her to hear, an edge to his voice that was anything but pleasant.
Lyra turned and stared at him, wincing as images seemed to flick her in the face from out of nowhere and quite suddenly. She blinked hard and refocused her eyes on him again.
“What did you say?” Her breath was short all at once, the door clicking closed as she moved closer to him, reaching out a hand to the bed and guided herself down to the floor.
“What…” her teeth grit…she seemed furious, “What did you say?”
He seemed bewildered himself, frowning and shaking his head, a shaking hand coming up to brush back his hair. His lip curled in disgust and he glared at Lyra as she stared back at him.
“Kundalini…” he whispered again, half in awe and half in anger, “I’m supposed to tell you…sealed with a kiss…pudding and pie…”
-Kissed the girls and made them cry…-
She winced at the word again and then half threw herself at him, grabbing Nikolai by the shirt front and dragging herself closer.
“Who told you? The Professor?” she hissed at him, “The Reverend?”
He blinked, the colour draining from his face. Lyra ran a hand through her hair, smothering a hysterical laugh with the back of her hand.
“I can’t play these stupid games any more. I follow one path and it leads to hell…like, right back there again….and now another…what’s he playing at?” her last few words sounded as if she were mimicking someone, “Maybe he’s trying to drive me mad…like you,” she laughed, twisting his shirt in her hand.
“No…” he snarled, grabbing her by the throat instinctively and throwing his weight into her, forcing her onto her back in seconds, “Don’t you dare…don’t you FUCKING DARE! I don’t know what the fuck you are talking about so stop trying to put fucking ideas into my FUCKING HEAD!!”
Her head thwacked against the floor and she moaned softly, mouthing the word ‘sorry’ as her mind flickered again…
-…the smell of incense, heavy tomes, a man looming over her and yelling. The Professor explaining that science and religion ‘never got along’…-
Nikolai didn’t seem to hear her, or didn’t care. His grip had tightened around her throat and he’d climbed on top of her, sheer hatred blazing in his eyes. His lips were moving but no sound came out, his entire body had starting to tremble, then convulse as she gagged…and then all at once he was gagging too, letting her go and dry heaving on the floor next to her.
She sat up suddenly, instinctually scrambling to move closer to him, pressing herself against his back carefully and positioning herself between him and the metal bed leg.
“Shhh…shh… It’s ok…” She rubbed his back in slow measured movements, her own hand shaking, “You really should pick on someone your own size, Katorga…” she said softly.
He lashed out at her, a strong arm sweeping to hit whatever part of her face or body he touched first. His teeth bared like a wild animal’s and he snarled, choking out a few more choice words of seething contempt before doubling over again and retching, while trying to crawl away from her and her touch.
Lyra ducked away from his flailing limb and watched him crawl away, staying where she was. She knew the Professor’s handiwork when she saw it.
-That rage isn’t going anywhere-
She ran a hand through her hair again, her mind running through her options. If he threw up his meds, if he became resentful of her as his doctor…
Bracing herself and hoping there was enough of her brother in there to calm him, she crawled the small distance to his side and pulled him close, kissing him forcefully and biting him gently.
“Shh,” she murmured against his lips.
He jolted at the touch of her lips, moaning softly, then biting down hard. Again, he lashed out, growling like a rabid animal and kicking her away violently.
“Slut…filthy little harlot…stupid Monére castoff…touch me again and I’ll shred you apart from the inside like I did to your mother…I’ll crunch the fucking bottle so far into you they’ll be plucking shards out of your ribcage…fucking witch…won’t work on me…dirty cunt…I’ll kill you…idi obsosi tyaevo Professor, kak ti delayesh kazhdyi den, ti shluha yebanaya…” His hands scrabbled for the chair and he grabbed hold of it, swinging it at her seconds later. She scrambled out the way, still lightheaded, stumbling slightly, winded by a well-placed foot in her midsection.
A commotion sounded outside the door, orderlies and a security guard shouting to her.
“Ashes, ashes...we all fall…” she flung the words at him, gasping and trying not to be stung.
Down he went, crumpling unceremoniously and smacking his head on the edge of the chair leg. There was blood, of course, in this little melodrama there could scarcely not be…but the wound was superficial at best. A moan fell from his lips, then another string of Russian expletives, his entire body shaking.
The door had burst open, two rather large men in white and an armed security officer rushing in and heading straight for him, one of them plucking the straightjacket from the bed, the other shouting questions at her.
Lyra stood as gracefully as she could and waved them away.
“I’m not hurt. Check him…sedatives to calm him. The shaking is a conditioned response and will cease…once he stops being such a vicious little shit….stop looking at me like that Bernard. I am fine.” She watched the sedative needle slide under her ‘brother’s’ skin.
He struggled, insofar as he could beneath the vicelike grip of three men and Lyra’s trigger. Wide blue eyes stared at her from beneath dishevelled black locks, his breath coming in heavy rasping gasps, his brow furrowed as his body shook uncontrollably. He looked for all the world like some wild creature, half mad, raised in the forests amongst wolves and ghosts.
“Fuck!” came the exclamation from ‘Bernard,’ as the wild thing in question snarled and bit him, lashes fluttering as the sedatives started to take effect.
He moaned, his head falling back. Lyra leant back against the wall to steady herself, watching him in silence. She distantly heard a snarl in the back of her mind, something vicious and horrible she didn’t want to talk to just now. She tried to focus on the health implications of what had just occurred, but the noise in her head was too much. She needed to make notes. She needed…
“I’ll be in my office.”
Swallowing hard, she hurried from the room, sweeping her paperwork from the floor as she passed. He moaned something that sounded like ‘Claudia,’ but it was lost amongst the meds and the struggle of Oakleaf’s finest to secure his restraints. By the time Lyra left the room, he was all but unconscious, the blood from the gash on his forehead trickling down his face like war paint.
One of the men shook him, bellowing in his ear about concussion, then slapped him hard. His eyes shot open, blinking in surprise and bewilderment at the three unimpressed men man handling him.
And then he threw his head back and laughed, the broken and almost hysterical sound echoing through the corridor and after Lyra as she ran down the hallway. When she reached her office, she scrabbled for a pen, pushing aside her laptop and grabbing a piece of paper.
She started scribbling, frantically mapping out words, people, images…pulling rough inky lines between them, circling or crossing them out as she went.
Finally, she sat back, the thoughts stopping their swirling as looked at the paper.
In the centre of the tangled web of notes was a crucifix, a serpent with a forked tongue wound tightly around it.
“Well…” Claudia whispered, “How very interesting that you show up now…”
Her phone beeped an alarm with a one-word reminder.
Folding the paper and tucking it into her pocket, she smoothed back her hair and hurried off to the lab.
Written by Luna Madness & Natalie.
All characters and story lines remain the property of N.Ristovski and the Underground. All character writings within the Underground are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Copyright © 2016. Natalie Ristovski.