Things Fall Apart

From the Story Arc: Hunting High And Low

Previous Story in the Arc: Remembrance by Victoria Victrix (Wednesday, August 13, 2008)

Next Story in the Arc: The Center Will Not Hold by Victoria Victrix (Saturday, January 10, 2009)

(posted Saturday, January 10, 2009)

Robin’s own Healers managed to put her back into some semblance of humanity and health by the time she stumbled through the Gate under the bridge in Atlas Park. It was dark, and a couple of Hellions in the park gave her the eyeball before they caught the half-mad glare in her eyes and slowly backed away. She felt raw inside, and wanted soothing, wanted calm, wanted peace, so she could put herself back together.

What she got, when she opened the door to their apartment, was nothing like any of those things.

”Where were you?” Red demanded, leaping to his feet and crossing his arms over his chest. “I must have been pinging your PDA every five minutes for the last four hours, and all I got was no signal.”

“There’s no signal Underhill,” she croaked, pulling off her helmet and coat of armor and tossing it on the floor.

“What were you doing Underhill?” He had been irritated before, now he was angry.

“Robin’s business. Something that couldn’t wait.” She peeled out of her armored trews and managed not to stagger towards the bedroom to get something more comfortable.

“Couldn’t wait long enough for you to call me and let me know what was going on?” He didn’t shout, but he might as well have. “I’m a Knight-Guardian too!”

“This wasn’t Knight-Guardian business. Not yet. It was my job to keep it from getting that way.” T-shirt. Scrub-pants. She pulled them on, turning her back on him.

As soon as she stood up fully, he had his hands on her shoulders, whipping her around to face him. “You could have called me. You should have called me! I’ve been out of my mind here—what the hell were you thinking of, going off alone?” He stared down at her in outrage, as if she was a kid that had played truant, or one of the stupid teenagers that blundered into things without backup.

“I had backup—“ she began, “And I’m sorry, it was urgent—“

He ranted on, oblivious, as she bit her tongue trying to keep her own temper—

I should have called you to tell you where I was going, just like you called me before that Portal trip?

She bit her tongue and balled her hands into fists to keep from saying it.

“What was it this time?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“What, you don’t trust me?” His eyes blazed with anger. Maybe there were other things behind the anger—fear, despair—maybe. She was no empath, she couldn’t read them if there were. All she could see was the anger, and her own finally blazed up out of control and the words came out before she could stop them.

“What, like you trust me?”

She bit down again, stopping herself before she added, like you trusted me so much you didn’t tell me where you were going, or why, and still won’t tell me anything, even though Shuma came back a wreck and without part of her powers, you came back looking like five miles of bad road and in rags and Ranc didn’t come back at all?

But the unspoken hung there in between them, like a rift through the air through which you could glimpse Hell. It stopped both of them, for just a second.

But it did nothing about her anger, which boiled up in another direction. She grabbed a few things at random, stuffed them into a bag, and shoved past him. A moment later she had slammed the door behind herself, for a moment not really sure where she should go. JM and Sera’s place? No, she wouldn’t disturb their peace, and besides, Shuma was there. Bella? No, Bella was probably spending the night in the CCCP base, sleeping on the cot in her office, she was doing that more and more these days—

--The CCCP base. That would do. Right now she didn’t want to see anyone but Bella. Bella would understand.

She was in the elevator before Red got the door to the apartment open again.

#

She comes. It seems forcing their tempers was successful.

Satisfaction. Are her defenses down?

The simplest of shields.

There must be no alarm.

Confidence. There will be none.

#

Vickie was too tired to fly. She could barely manage magic enough to look intimidating, and most of that was only because she was still almost too angry to think. But it wasn’t far to the tram, and from the KR station, it wasn’t far to CCCP. Mostly what was echoing in her head, over and over, was rage and outrage. How dared he? How dared he treat her like that? When she had been supportive, sympathetic, and above all, silent, when he’d asked her never to question him about where he’d been? All she’d wanted was just a little, a little of the same back! All—
She barely registered a shadow moving out of the shadows under the tram.

Then there was a sting at her neck.

Then nothing. Nothing but blankness.