The Fire in My Blood: Ch 7

Dressed back into my trench, I directed him to the door.  “Thanks, Medicus.  I’ll drop by in the morning,” I said over my shoulder as I let us out of the clinic.

“Take care, Lunam.  Go easy on him.  He’s going to take some time.” Medicus nodded toward Sanctus as I waived my understanding and let the door swing shut.  

Sanctus waited for me on the other side.  “We’re going to Vestitor’s.  He’ll get you some proper clothes.” I pointed us back in the direction of the warehouse.  He swallowed and followed me as we went deep into the labyrinth of the massive converted facility.  At one point it had been an aerospace floor.  Monstrous parts to planes had been assembled there.  It was a full half a mile long building.  Offices at two ends of the factory had been converted into apartments, small businesses, meeting chambers, and the Court of Caeruleum.  The main floor was now communal space, save for the fleet, salvaging pile, and Wrench’s station.

At a door marked with a graphic for a shirt, I knocked.  Sanctus had lost all his energy, what little he had.  He clung to me and followed me like a beaten dog.  My heart hurt and I wasn’t sure what to do to make it better.  The door cracked open.  Hot cotton and leather. A man taller and skinnier than me with bottle cap thick glasses threatening to fall off the end of his nose greeted us.  “Ah, good, Nigrae Lunam.  Maria Mater told me you would be dropping by.” He opened the door wider to invite us in.  “I take it he is the new guy from the Rubrum raid?” he tilted his head toward Sanctus.

“Sanctus.  This is Vestitor.  Vestitor, Sanctus.  I need to get him a couple sets of clothes.  Three shirts, three pairs of pants, respective socks, undergarments, shoes, bedclothes, the like.  A hundred chips work?” I asked as we walked into the stocked shelves that was Vestitor’s business.  Bolts of cloth and used clothing was shoved, meticulously, into every available space that could be found in the room.

“I still owe you for securing the line and keeping Columba and Dumi safe when the Aurantiaco tried to take over Guillotine street.” Vestitor waived off my bid.

“That’s duty, Vestitor.  If I don’t keep Caeruleum territory, then what good am I?  I’ll pay for the clothing.  It keeps you in business, and lets others know I don’t take advantage.” I smile amiably.

“If you insist, boss.” Vestitor pointed Sanctus to a small raised circular platform in the center of the room.  Sanctus waited at my side.  “He gets…nervous about taking the coat off in front of people.  Angelus seems to work over Imperian,” I whispered quietly in Vestitor’s ear when Sanctus didn’t make a move.

“I’ll keep that in mind.  Gemma’s a heartless bitch,” Vestitor seethed.  He’d know.  He had been in the Rubrum.  He had been one of the kids I had saved from one of her rings.  He still had sessions with Medicus for nightmares.

“Couldn’t agree more.”

Vestitor went to a corner and pulled a tri-fold screen from in between the wall and the shelves.  I raised an eyebrow.  Nifty trick.  He unfolded it and set it up, walling off a tiny nook of the room.  “That should give him some sense of privacy,” Vestitor’s teeth flashed a proud smile.

“Go behind the screen, Sanctus.  Take the coat off.  Vestitor will bring you clothes.  Put them on.  If they don’t fit, tell him.  He will find you clothes that do fit.” I gave him directions.  No please.  No coercion.  I hated it.  I hated the fact that I had to know that I probably sounded like Gemma.  I glanced at Vestitor and swallowed.  He gave me a gentle nod.  He knew what was going on.  Sanctus went, not exactly willingly, but eventually put himself behind the screen and my coat ended up on top of it.

“What is with Gemma and not providing her people with clothes?” I hissed at Vestitor, irritated.

“Oh, her people get clothes.  Her toys don’t.  I mean, what’s the point of toys owning clothes?  She doesn’t even give them the pleasure of a pronoun, only referring to them as ‘it’.  She dresses them up when it pleases her, otherwise,” Vestitor shrugged.  “He was one of them I take it?” he popped behind the screen momentarily with a measuring tape, returned, and rummaged through a pile of undergarments.

“One of the three Providentia,” I explained as he handed Sanctus a small stack of fabric.  He glanced back at me.  “He’s the Sanctus of Canals?  You took Sanctus Jude from Gemma?  Oh, damn.  She’s gonna be throwing fireballs at you by tonight.”

“As I’ve been informed.  Sanctus Jude?” I asked as he fished through more clothes, holding up a couple shirts for me to look at.  I point to a soft beige button up.  It would be easier to get on his back then a pull over shirt.

“Sanctus, like all the Providentia, is his Alias. Jude is his given name.  The Providentia weren’t given the same…” Vestitor wrinkled his nose as he stared at the shirt.  “Mercurius has the other two.  They weren’t given the same dignity as the rest of us.  Sanctus Jude of Canals, Sanctus Aurelia of Lakes, and Sanctus Paul of Rivers.  From what I understand, they all got dumped in here after the Hade’s Purge about the same time you did as a package and got split up between Gemma and Mercurius as a truce when they formalized their territory lines.  Mercurius took less land for the extra Providentia.” He took the shirt and another two button-ups to Sanctus and returned to rummage through pants.

“You’ve never met Sanctus before?” I asked.

“No.  I had heard of him in passing from the guards.  I wasn’t exactly high up on the food chain.  Crap Catalyst meant I wasn’t good for her army or anything else by her thought.” Vestitor shrugged and held out the pants for me to look over.  I pointed out a couple that resembled breeches, short to the knee, but somewhat fitted rather than the jeans that had been patched to within an inch of their life.  He handed them over to Sanctus.

“Do they suffer Repercussions like the rest of us?” I asked.  I had heard of the Providentia, but had never paid them much mind.  To me, they had always been myth, a bizarre outlier for those of us afflicted to be Ustor.

“You’ll have to find out from him.  He was kept separate from the rest of us.  He was how she was so powerful when she took the Purpura territory.  From what I understood, she’d keep him chained to her throne, just within arm’s reach for whenever she needed a hit.  When she wasn’t using him, he had a birdcage of sorts she’d leave him in overlooking her throne room.  If she was feeling particularly generous, she’d send him out with some of her generals if she wanted them to take a line quickly.  That’s about what I know of his treatment.  Again, I was kept elsewhere, so I don’t know how accurate most of that is, just rumors I heard.”  He took socks and shoes back for Sanctus to try on.

“Generals?” I raised an eyebrow.  His description matched one of the men.  The one I had thrown over the railing.  Oops.  Looks like I had taken one of her major lackies and her shiny toy.  Put another check next to level of pissed off Gemma was going to be with me.

“He’s dressed.  I think everything fits,” Vestitor told me.

“Come on out, Sanctus,” I encouraged.  His footsteps were clunky.  He hadn’t worn shoes in a long time.  He stared up at me, pleading in his eyes.  He seemed confused and out of his elements.  “Does it fit?” I asked him.  He nodded mutely.  “Do you like how it fits?” I tried a different method.  He placed his hands across his chest and pulled a bit at the shoulders of his shirt.  I glanced at Vestitor, hoping he might have an idea.

“Your coat was the first bit of clothing he’s had on since he came from Gemma?  That ripstop and aramid’s pretty heavy with the plates.”

“I think so,” I nodded.  Vestitor had made the coat for me when he first joined Caeruleum as thanks for pulling him out of one of Gemma’s traveling rings.  He had asked me for the one item of clothing I dearly wished to have.  He laughed when I told him a bomb proof trench coat.  He had thought I would ask for an ermine cape, whatever that was.  Let’s just say my Catalyst keeps Vestitor in business.  I thought the trench was a brilliant idea.  Thing had a hood, reinforced shoulder straps, good sized pockets, and sleeves that could be rolled past the finger tips for protection. The thing was double lined with the inside quilted.  The panels held small metal plates around the torso, chest, and back.  It was ridiculously heavy, but having served with the Angelus for as long as I had, it felt nice having the weight.  It was also convenient to toss on victims in the midst of a firefight.  

“Probably looking for that weight, that comfort, then,” he explained as he went to yet another pile of clothes.  He pulled from it a buttonless vest.  I raised an eyebrow.  “I used it for quite a few years as I got used to being around people.  It’s weighted.  Not as much as your coat, and it’s not aramid, so it won’t survive a fire, but it’ll work,” he showed me the inside lining where small quilted squares held buckshot.  “Medicus was the one to suggest it for me.  I don’t use it anymore.  He can have it.  Free of charge,” he cut me off as I went to offer to pay for it.  Sanctus put the garment on willingly.  He relaxed into it a little, holding onto the edges of it.

I shrugged into my trench.  I was right.  Sage, rosemary, and copper.  The smell would linger for weeks.  

Vestitor got me a bag of clothes that would fit Sanctus put together and I paid him what I owed.  “Suggestion.  Take him down to Scriba’s,” he mentioned as we exited his door.

“The librarian?” I asked.  It had been a while since I had been down to see her.

“She can get him set up with some pencils and a journal.  Medicus had me write in one.  I still write in them.  It helps me put my feelings somewhere when I have to work through stuff.  He’s going to be counseling him, right?” Vestitor asked.

“He said he would after his back is healed and to just go easy on him for now.” I shake his hand.

“He’ll send him to get a journal then.  Might as well grab it while you’re on this end of the building.” Vestitor closed the door behind him.  I turned to Sanctus, who was looking washed out.

“Do you want to go see someone else, or do you want to see your room?” I turned the decision over to him, hoping he would answer.  He blinked up at me, his eyes hollow. “I think you’re probably done.  This has been a lot to deal with.  Come on. I’ll show you where you can sleep.” I led him back across the main floor to the other side of the building.

Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.

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