The Fire in My Blood: Ch 9

Morning graced my window, illuminating the room in soft orange cream.  I went to stretch and bumped into something.  I drew in a startled breath, only to remember that Sanctus had climbed into bed with me last night.  His breathing was soft, but told me he was on the verge of waking.  I eased up to look down on him.  He had somehow obtained more than half the small bed, and I had ended up wedged close to the wall.  He had also somehow ended up with the pillow.  I chuckled and breathed a sigh of relief at his comfort.

I slipped a hand down the blanket over his ear, drawing him out of his waking dreams.  He blinked, bleary-eyed.  His fingers flexed, burrowing deeper into the warmth of the blanket.  He released one hand to reach out, tracing the outer seam of my jeans.  It tickled and did nothing for my morning predicament.  I pulled my blanket over me, hiding what I could.  He closed his eyes and his breathing went back to a soft snore.

You’ve got to be kidding!  I brushed his head again, rousing him once more.  “Sanctus?” I asked softly in the dawn light.  He hummed under his breath as he fought to open his eyes.  He brought them into focus, turning in his cocoon to look up at me.  He blinked, confused.  “Where’s Aurelia?” he asked.

Who’s Aurelia, Sanctus?” I asked.  He blinked once more before he fully realized where he was.  He scrambled back as adrenaline, sage, and rosemary filled the space.  I reached for him, but not fast enough.  He crashed to the floor, a sprawl of bedding and limbs.

I’m, wait…where am I?  What? I’m sorry,” he stammered.

Careful.  Sanctus.  Do you remember coming into my room last night?” I asked him.  He bit down on his lip as he searched the space, shaking his head.  His eyes swiveled to mine before he looked down at himself and his blanket.  He tugged at his shirt collar experimentally.

You crawled in some time past midnight and turned me into a space heater.  Took over most of the bed and the pillow to boot,” I chuckled as I extracted myself from the twisted sheets and straightened them out.  Sanctus scuttled back, bumping into the wooden tub behind him.  He glanced back at it, popping his head up over the edge to see what was inside.

I don’t.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to,” he turned back to me.  

I waved him off.  “Sleepwalking, or just not comfortable on your own.  I won’t fault you for it.”  I went over to my basin and filled it with clean water to wash my face and brush my teeth.  “So, think any further about talking to Medicus this morning?” I asked, making this situation feel as neutral as possible.  I know he needed to know boundaries and have boundaries of his own, but I also didn’t want to have him feel ashamed for needing contact.

I – I don’t know,” he admitted.  I shrugged.

At the very least, I’m going to take you down to Clavis and have him take that chain and manacle off for you.” I shoved my toothbrush in my mouth.  Sanctus looked down at his wrist where the manacle still dug into his skin.

I think I’d like that.” He nodded, touching the tender bruised flesh around it.  I spat out the toothpaste into the bucket I was taking downstairs.  A thought occurred to me when I turned back to him.

I know Medicus said no baths, but do you want the knots taken out?” I asked, indicating his hair.  He reached up to his locks and ran his fingers along the edges nervously.  He picked at a knot, dropping his eyelids.  His cheeks ran a deep pink.  “You okay?”

He shrugged.  “Been a long time since I had a brush,” he muttered.

Since you had it washed?” I asked.  He nodded mutely.  “Did she ever let you get clean?” I pressed.  He shrugged, a slight shake of his head punched a dagger through my heart.

The water’s cold, but if you want…?” I offered, waving to the tub.  I waited.  He flicked a suspicious glance my way.  He needed quite a few minutes of pondering the water before giving me a slight nod.

Why don’t you go get clothes you want to wear for the day?  Pants from yesterday are still drying.” I pointed to the rack that had his pants and the rest of my clothes.  He rose to inspect them.  

“You’re a wizard,” Sanctus told me.

I chuckled.  “If only.  It would take less work if that were so.  Go grab you clothes.  Bring the bandages with you.  Medicus said to change them.

He left with his blanket and returned with what I had asked him to bring.  He set them down on the bed.  “You okay with taking your shirt off?” I kept my distance, left him with space.  He swallowed.  I turned from him to light one of my oil lamps, providing the space with more light, and driving the intimacy out.  I heard fabric rub against wool.  I brought the oil lamp over to the counter over the fridge and set it down.

I shifted over the used water tub next to the bed so that I’d have somewhere to sit.  “Here, kneel down, and we’ll get your hair done over this.” I pointed to the bucket I needed to take downstairs.  He did as he was told, though his fingers trembled in his lap.  I brought over the remainder of the oil that Maria Mater had given me and my bone comb.  I folded myself down onto the bed and draped a spare towel over my lap.  I shoved the tail of the comb in my mouth as I doused my fingers in oil.  Working them into the ends of his hair, I slowly but surely started detangling his locks.  His scalp needed a good disturbance.  He sat patiently, and at a certain point he laid his head on my knee and fell asleep.

The sun shifted from dawn to early morning, lighting the space as I worked.  I found myself talking to him, if only to fill the silence.  It was nice to speak Angelus once more.  Not as many Ustor had made it out of Angelus as the Nympha had.

“I grew up in New Taos. The Windstorm had set down near there back when Throni et Inferni was settled.  My folks put me up with the Angelus military in exchange for doing a dangerous job.  If they died, the government had to give me a step up into a better position.  Lakota and Muraco.  I don’t remember them.  But I took my Alias from my father, if only to honor his memory.  He was the main digger, the one who hit the fracture when it blew.  Muraco.  It means White Moon.  Mom was only half Native.

My great-grandmother raised me.  Olivia.  She was originally from some place called Blechepsin.  Part of the Cherkess.  She married my great-grandfather Viktor before they came over to the US.  This was long before the disaster.  Born on Earth.  They came over on the Windstorm, when things were still normal.  Great-grandpa died way before my time.  I think my grandmother was maybe three when he passed.  He was from Dagestan.  Part of the Nogais.  

Olivia kept journals.  When she passed on, I was allowed to go back to her apartment and clear out her things.  I learned a lot through those little notebooks.  She was meticulous, though it took me ten years to decipher most of them.  She only wrote in the old language.  Now, six years since I’ve touched her words, I doubt I could read more than the simplest of phrases, if anyone even remembers.

They moved to Post-Pueblo, before the disaster and had my grandmother Yvette and Jonas.  Jonas died when he was one from pneumonia.  Great-grandmother was deeply broken up over his death.  She lost a piece of her soul.  Then Great-grandfather died.  She was broken but decided that she needed to live for my grandmother, for Yvette.  She took up meter reading and waitressing to put food on the table, even if she struggled with the language every day.  When she would get home and put my grandmother to bed, she’d play audiobooks to listen to and she would quote her favourite lines as she did housework.

The disaster hit.  She wasn’t one of the well-off, to become Electi.  She was herded in with the other towns near the border walls.  Indentured servitude.  Maria Mater explained the term to me.  I always thought it was normal, but she told me that what the Joiner Petroleum Company did was collect slaves to run their oil.  

Grandmother died in the Cardinal Wars.  She succumbed to the pandemic after a bad mining accident.  That was several years after my mother and father had married, but before I was born.  So, I never got to meet her.  My grandfather, Adooeette, walked away when she died and never contacted my family again.  I don’t know what happened to him.  I searched the records when I got the chance but couldn’t find him in Angelus.  I can only assume that he checked out.

So yeah, I grew up in the military because my parents wanted me to be more than an oil rigger.”  I rinsed out his hair, working oil and dandruff out of his scalp until it was pink and thoroughly clean.  At least it gave me a moment to check for lice.

“Your great-grandmother sounds nice,” Sanctus sighed.  I was surprised.  I thought he had fallen asleep.

“The few memories of my early years are warm.  I miss our apartment and a little lion doll.  The strange things we remember.  After I was sent to the military, she moved, downsized her possessions, and put the money away that I would send her when I had any.  There was enough for me to have her buried proper in a churchyard like she had asked in her last journal.  I never understood religion.  The military didn’t really teach it, so it never occurred to me.  But it was important to her.  I wanted to honour her.  I took her journals and that silly little lion doll home with me when I emptied out her apartment.  Some things I still miss from my years in Angelus.” I got his hair finished and combed out.  I pulled the towel on my lap around it and wrapped it.  He put a hand to it as he leaned back.

“Want me to step out, and you can get yourself a sponge bath?  I can help you with your back when you’re done?  I can grab breakfast and bring it up?” I asked, trying to give him a bit of privacy.

“Okay,” he nodded.

“Awesome.  Let me get dressed in something other than what I was wearing yesterday real quick.” I rose from the bed and rummaged through my rack.  My fault for tossing the wet trousers on top of all the dry clothes.  Khakis and an olive collarless button-up would suffice.  I stripped out of my jeans and pulled on the new, only to make the stupid mistake of turning to be captured by a pair of wide cognac eyes.  Swear I could bottle that colour and make a fortune, or at least drown out all my fears.  I swallowed, trying to still the sensation of a hunted rabbit.  “I-” I turned back to my corner and finished with what I was doing.  I cleared my throat.  “Sorry about that.  Sort of…used to some military things still.  Getting dressed in front of others is sort of normal to me.  Didn’t mean to,” I apologized.

“I’m okay,” Sanctus’s voice crept down my spine, and I was about to make that corner home for the next century.  I reached for my trench coat and pulled it on.  Baggy clothing hides a lot of feelings.  The infernus was this?  I had gotten dressed in front of enough men and women to not be doing this like a cadet.  I drew in a shaky breath and willed myself to imagine everything I could possibly muster to return my body back to a semblance of normalcy.

“Right.  I’m off.  Take your time.  Breakfast is always a rush.  Any requests?” I asked as I took the long way around the tub, well out of reach of Sanctus.

“Food?” He offered a soft smile.  If I wasn’t wrong, I saw a laugh hidden in there somewhere.  Progress was being had.  That was all I could ask for.  

I just about ended up headfirst into Cortex’s fist, though, as he went to knock on my door when I opened it. “Cortex! Sorry, good morning,” I greeted, steadying him.  He cast a curious glance toward Sanctus before turning his attention to me.

“Maria Mater said Luto had to bring the girls back last night.  The Accendium were complaining too much.  Night terrors.”  He gave me the rundown of other things that had transpired overnight as we went down the stairs.  Gemma had set up a  barrage on the edge of Caeruleum territory.  It was easy enough to keep her out at the bottleneck, though.  She didn’t have as wide a line as Mercurius had running along Caeruleum.  The worst to transpire from her bombardment were some bruised egos and new insults.  Without her Providentia, she wasn’t as tough.

“Where are they at the moment?” I asked as we slipped into the line at the commons, and I grabbed up a pair of plates of pastries and fruit.

“Waiting with Scriba.  She’s trying to see if the older one can read.  Figured maybe she could work them through a map of Aurantiaco’s territory to find where they came up from the Inferis.” he grabbed a plate for himself and motioned toward where Praesepe and Tempestatis were already setting up camp.

“Told Sanctus I’d bring him up breakfast, but I’ll bring him down.  I need to have Clavis take that manacle off.” I walked over to the table with him for a quick moment.

“Know what it’s made of?” Tempestatis asked.  

I shook my head.  “The chain’s steel; I’d assume the manacles the same.”

“I’ll let him know to expect you.”

“Thanks, Tempestatis.  Sanctus’s pretty shy about people,” I hedged.

“Sounds like he’ll get along fine with Clavis.” Tempestatis waved me away.  I nodded my agreement as I turned and left back to the stairs, plates in hand.

Arriving at my room, I pushed the door open with my shoulder.  “Got food,” I greeted as I let myself in.  Now he was the hunted rabbit.  At least he had stripped down to get everything clean.  I walked past him, keeping my eyes to my own business as I shoved the door closed with my heel.  I set the plates down on my counter and rested my hands on the aluminium sheet.  I studied the stained space above it that had once had a piece of paper that now left a border of distinctly different colours.  

I cleared my throat, refusing to turn back.  “Tempestatis’s talking to Clavis about getting your manacle off.  Before I was sent to Requies’s yesterday, I pulled a pair of Accendium out of Aurantiaco’s territory.  Maria Mater left them with Scriba to babysit.  I know Medicus wanted to talk to you too,” I explained, fiddling with the edge of one of the forks.  He hummed, acknowledgement that I had at least spoken.  “My plan is to get you to Clavis first thing when we get downstairs.  Then over to Medicus.  Scriba’s a good lady.  She’ll entertain the Accendium for a while yet.”

Why are you nice to me?” His voice was small in the room.  I kept my eyes to the wall.  The soft splash of water and the hiccup of breath was not helping my willpower this morning.  I ducked my head to study my hands.  Him washing was all that was running through my brain, and it was screaming at me to watch him.

“I take in those from the Rubrum and the Aurantiaco.  I see to the care of my people.  You are Caeruleum.  I take care of you,” I explained in the most inelegant way possible.  I usually wasn’t asked too many questions about why I rescued people.  It was just what I did.  “Maybe…” I trailed as I watched the clouds roll by my transom window.  “Maybe it’s how I ask forgiveness,” I admitted.

Because of what happened in Angelus?” he continued with his ablutions.  The room had dimmed with the rolling clouds, bringing the space into a tight intimacy.  What is with small spaces, and how comfortable it is to talk about certain things in them when it’s dark?

“You know what I did in Angelus?” I shifted uncomfortably as I poked at a blueberry.

I saw it first hand,” he whispered.  That had my attention.  I turned to see the expression on his face.  Was it condemnation?  Was it pity?  Instead, his back was to me.  All I saw were the stitches and scars of years of torture and a burn that ran up from his mid-thigh to his hip.

You’re the boy.” Cognac eyes.  My memories came crashing down as I sank down to lean against the fridge.

Aurelia and Paul.  Do you remember them, too?” he asked, rubbing a washcloth along his shoulder.  He winced as it caught in one of the stitches.  I wanted so badly to help, but I sat there, mortified.

Vestitor said something about them yesterday?” I couldn’t dislodge the lump in my throat.

They are younger than me by three years.  Twins. They have a different father than mine.  Mine died in a rigging accident, like your folks.  Mom had lived through the pandemic.  We ended up with this stupid power.” He curled into himself.

“And I put you here.” I tasted the words with revulsion.

“Can you help me with my back?” he asked.

“You sure you even want to be in the same room with me?” I asked as I scootched across the floor.

You haven’t hit me,” he said.

“That I will not do,” I swore as I took the rag out of his hand.  He braced for the cold.  I dipped it into the tub and did something stupid for an infernus of an apology.  I heated it in my hands until it warmed.  Carefully, I worked over his back.

It’s warm.” He relaxed against my hands.  I savoured the note in his voice.  He glanced back at me as a smile wobbled unfamiliarly on his lips.  “Your eyes are going black,” he hedged, concern flicking across his face.

We’re just gonna deal with it.  Medicus’s right, anyway.  I can produce more when I’m hungry,” I explained.

You really want me to talk to Medicus?” he asked.  At least he was more conversational then he was yesterday.

I’m going to leave that up to you.  Some of my people find it cathartic to talk to him about their problems.  He’s a good guy.  He got tossed in here a couple years before me.  He’s served Caeruleum since Maria Mater formed as the ground sibling of Thalassius.  I don’t think most of Caeruleum would run as smoothly as it does now if he wasn’t seeing to our health.

“And you make your money by providing your…secretions?” he asked.

“Most everyone here does some kind of work.  Chips show you did the work and someone valued it.  I protect Caeruleum with Maria Mater, but it doesn’t make me any chips.  It’s just something I do.  Manage people, go retrieve others.  The anaesthetic and coagulant are valuable commodities, and Medicus pays for them.  Otherwise, I don’t have much time to find other ways to make chips.  Bureaucracy is a voluntary thing, not something chips should have any room in.  We’ve seen how well that went for the Ustor from Nympha and Angelus, huh?” I asked, handing the rag back to Sanctus.  I slid back from him to regain my spot at the fridge.

“Why are you and Maria Mater co-leaders if she formed Caeruleum off Thalassius?”

“Was just a bodyguard for her and Cortex and Tempestatis.  Circumstances happened, and I had to step in a couple times with some old codgers.  Maria Mater figured it was easier to have a co-leader to deal with pigs who didn’t want to listen to her.”

“So, not really something you tried to get yourself into?”

Nope.  It was just a position of need that I filled. Cortex and Tempestatis could have done the same thing, but it’s not in their personality.  Grew up in the military.  We don’t put up with bullshit for very long.

“I don’t know what I can do here,” he whispered.

“That’ll take time.  You have time.  For now, let’s eat, shall we?” I asked, handing him his towel.  He nodded mutely as he studied his wet footprints on the concrete floor.

Breakfast was a quiet affair.  I left Sanctus to his own devices while I emptied the rest of my wash tub into their containers. He was content to sit quietly on the bed and watch me move about my space.  I helped him into a fresh set of bandages and barely remembered to have him take one of the pills Medicus had provided us with the day before.  Dressed and fed, we emerged from my room.  I lugged the wastewater down to the dumping bin on the commons floor.

“Hey, Lunam!  Good morning, Sanctus!” Tempestatis greeted us when we headed toward Clavis’s station.  Sanctus pulled close to my side, hiding behind my shoulder.  Cortex approached on the other side to give me a once-over.  “Should I ask what you lit on fire, boss?” he whispered surreptitiously.

“Medicus asked me to help fill out his inventory,” I evaded.

“Ah.  I’ll leave you to ruminate in misery then.”

“Morning, Tempestatis.  Did you get a chance to talk to Clavis?” I cast a glance towards our mechanic.

“Yeah, he said he’d get the things off.”  Tempestatis waived us over into Clavis’s sacred grounds.  Clavis glanced in our direction and sniffed.  I waved once to him.  He nodded his head and tilted his chin to a metal stool near his primary workstation.

Sanctus, why don’t you go sit over there?” I pointed it out to him.  He hesitated, and studied the scene.  His fingers tightened on the back of my sleeve.  I walked over to the seat with him in tow.  He stared at it first and then turned to study Clavis.  Clavis regarded him with veiled indifference.  “Don’t wanna, do ya kid?  Not comfortable.”  Clavis came around from his bench, wiping his hands on an oily rag.

Sit,” Clavis said in neutral Angelus.  Sanctus immediately sat down, his hands holding to the edge of the stool in a death grip.  It caught me by surprise.  Clavis was born in Imperium.  I raised an eyebrow at Tempestatis.  The blond nodded back towards Cortex who was loading up one of our supply transports for the siege at the line.

So, word had gotten out.  Sanctus responded to commands in Angelus if he was hesitant.  I had to hope that knowledge would not be abused.

Clavis came over, and it was all Sanctus could do to remain where he sat.  “Gonna melt the cuff off.  Mind if I have your hand?” he asked.  At least he had also gotten the memo of no touching without permission.  Sanctus extended his arm and everyone was privy to how badly this frightened him.  Clavis took a look at the manacle and clicked his tongue in frustration.

“Gonna be difficult?” Tempestatis asked, peering over Clavis’s shoulder.

“Back up,” Clavis growled.  He liked his bubble to be quite wide when it came to personal space.  Tempestatis did as he was told, if a little disappointed.

The mechanic ran his thumb along the keyhole of the manacle and held it for a moment.  The metal glowed red under his fingers.  With a sharp crack, he halved the brittle metal in two, releasing Sanctus from the trap.  His skin was pale and bruised from where the manacle had sat.  He looked at it in surprise and touched the emptiness.  “A’right.  Let’s get a look at this chain,” Clavis sat down on the floor, took Sanctus’s foot, and did the same with it. The metal dropped with a clank.

“Should about do it.” Clavis tossed the metal into the melting pile.  Usually he would have kept the chain.  Having usable links was better than forging new.  He caught my questioning glance and shrugged as he returned to his bench.  He pulled out a massive canning jar full of screws from below his bench and dug out a couple handfuls of screws, and dumped them on his table.  Sanctus watched him with open curiosity for a moment as Clavis started categorizing the screws by size and tossing them into respective bins.  He turned away from his task after about twenty-five.  “That power is definitely something different, boss,” he confided.  Tempestatis and Cortex walked over to look at the pile on the table.

“How so?” I asked.  I had never seen Clavis walk away from his Repercussion.

“I don’t have to finish it right now.  I’m done.  What did you do?” He knelt down in front of Sanctus to try and get a good look at his face.

“Long as you touch my skin when using a Catalyst, the Repercussion isn’t as overpowering,” Sanctus whispered in broken Imperian and Angelus. 

“Use my power, so you don’t have to use yours.”  I quietly translated for him.  Cortex, Tempestatis, and Clavis all turned to look at me.  They were as obvious as the covers on Scriba’s books.  I ignored the unasked question they all were commiserating to have me answer.

“Thanks, Clavis.  How much I owe you?” I asked, reaching for my wallet.

“On the house, boss.  No one should have to pay to be free.” He turned back to his regular work.

“If you’re fine with it.” I motioned for Sanctus to join me.  Clavis didn’t appreciate people trying to pay him for things if he didn’t want to be paid.  He’d get grouchy and then would walk off to go scavenge for a week in the outer edges of Urbs Aquarum.

“Cortex, Tempestatis,” I commanded.  They jumped to, following behind Sanctus as we walked through the shop floor and out back to the clinic.

“Boss?” Cortex asked.

“Have we heard word from Aurantiaco after yesterday?” I asked.

“There was mutterings along the line that Mercurius wasn’t pleased to find one of his men dead.  I thought you killed both of them.  Nothing’s been said about the Accendium.  Not yet, anyway.”

“Be ready for him to send a diplomat.  Keep the Accendium out of the receiving hall when he does.  No one sees their movements until we can tell if he knew about who his guys had.  Emissary is taken to the Court of Caeruleum only.  Don’t need them snooping.

“He won’t attack our line right now.  At least not yet.  He doesn’t want to thin his troops when Rubrum has more to spare if he’s distracted with us.  And Mercator at Requies’s?”  Hopefully Gemma will let up soon. I could expect another four weeks out of her before she gave up on getting her Providentia back.  At least, that was my bet.  Last time I took a general off her, she put up a fuss for a good month before calming down.  Helped that Mercurius had gone and meddled with some of her northernmost troops to distract her about the same time.

“Mercator said Requies’s has been quiet.  We dumped the bodies on Gemma’s line just to spite her, though.  Tacked a note on the one with the flag on his jacket telling her to pay up for damages.  I doubt she’ll get it, but it felt good,” Tempestatis told me.

“Give her a couple days.  She’ll send in her emissary to talk.  Has Maria Mater been kept apprised of the movements?” I opened the door to the clinic.  Sanctus stepped in while I finished talking with Cortex and Tempestatis.

“She took the morning to sleep in.  The Accendium were apparently up all night with her.  She told me if she was woken up before she was ready to be, and I quote, ‘All infernus shall rain from Coelum.  Lunam.  If he wakes me up, I will personally see to his funeral as Prosperina.’ end quote.” Cortex smiled, chuckling.

“Sounds like Maria Mater.  I didn’t realize that they’d be as much trouble.  Has to be tough, getting separated like that and then ran around by Aurantiaco.”

“Do we need to be doing anything specific about Rubrum?” Cortex pressed.  We were far enough from the line that we would not hear or see anything, but he glanced back toward the horizon nevertheless.

“Currently, keep those holding the line stocked.  Try to keep our side from antagonizing.  Don’t need to get hot blood everywhere.  I saw you packing up our transporter earlier.  You have access to all the necessities?” I asked.  Cortex nodded.

“All right.  I’m going to get Sanctus settled in with Medicus.  I’ll head over to Scriba’s when I can to collect the Accendium and figure out where to lodge them.  Might let her know I’ll be on my way to help her with the Accendium.”

“Boss?” Cortex reached for my cheek.  That response.  Pine.  I could have stepped into the high hills on a Mensis Quintilis day.  I quelled that shiver as my stomach turned into a raging fireball of pain.

“I know.  I did it on purpose.  Medicus needs his inventory replenished,” I tried to ease his worry.

“I’ll stick around Scriba’s, ‘k?” he kept his voice low.

“I’ll be out of anaesthetic and coagulant for a few hours,” I cautioned.

“How much did you burn out?” he asked.

“Remember Sanctus’s wounds?  Medicus put him back together.  I helped him get it clean this morning, and cold water seemed like a misery,” I explained.

“Small job then?” he pressed.

“A hot wash rag isn’t going to make me jump someone.  At least not for the next several hours.  I can put it off.”

“You can’t put it off all day, boss.  It’ll backfire if you don’t fix it.”

“I know.”

“Save back some, and I’ll wait.”

I sighed in displeased agreement.  Tempestatis and Cortex left back for the facility.  I regarded the skyline where Cortex had looked to.  I hated knowing I had people on that edge for a decision I made.

I turned back to the clinic and walked into the familiar smell.  “Good morning, Medicus,” I greeted as I pulled my vials off the shelf.  “Want me in here for this?” I turned to Sanctus, who had already sat down on one of the two chairs.  He nodded his head.  “All right, but you’re talking.  I have to get Medicus’s scripts filled.” I held the box of vials up.  Sanctus swallowed and nodded again.

“Sanctus?” Medicus came around the wall with his notebook and pencil and sat down in the opposing chair.  I slid one of the gurneys on the other side of the wall over until I could sit on the edge and observe them.

“Yes, sir?” he responded timidly.

“How is your back doing this morning?  I see you got your hair combed and some new clothes.  It looks nice on you,” Medicus complimented. 

A smile touched the corner of Sanctus’s lips.  “Nigrae Lunam helped,” he confided.

“He’s the helpful sort,” Medicus cast me an appreciative glance.  I would have smiled if not for the fact I had a fang stuck in a glass vial.

“I knew him,” Sanctus studied his hands in his lap.


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