3:11 p.m. - 2010-05-12
first draft, no editing. 3700 words in two hours? damn.
“Goddammit, get everyone in here, now!” Fear snaked up my spine and I stood with my shoulders hunched, hands flat on the work table in the garage. I took slow even breaths to dispel the feeling that I was about to fuck up. “Mother, help me.” Still breathing I pulled my short knife from its hiding spot at my waist. I traced a star with the tip, inhaling and exhaling as I went. “Earth, air, fire, water.” Over and over and over, when I hit spirit at the apex of the star I centered myself and sent the fear swirling above my head. I had no use for that tonight. I wasn’t going to lose Kay and not the baby either.
No innocents. Birth isn’t a healer’s ritual. Its blood and pain, in terrifying quantities. And the mother almost losing her shit because of that.
“Get on the circle, I’m almost set up.” I spoke with my back to them, but I knew that no one would challenge me. I felt everyone as soon as they touched the circle and felt their power whisper across my skin. I shucked my shoes and tossed them into the corner. The circle followed my lead and the power grew with every new contact.
Skin is always better, you can feel it in your bones, the power grows until it fills you to your eyeballs. And with Kaytin screaming every 6 minutes, I needed every drop of the power to hold her conscience. I didn’t have the first clue of what the hell to do. I’d never been pregnant and I had no younger siblings. I couldn’t leave Kay screaming.
“You aren’t a healer.” Caes was staring holes into my eyes. His lids were half closed, giving him a misleading sleepy look. He was dangerously close to hauling me off and locking me behind a steel door.
“I’m not an addict either. I can channel enough to save her. I can call on the Mother of us all, and she will guide me. Can I do this? That’s the easy part. The hard part will be coming down after the power shock.” I stared him in those sleepy looking eyes. “Promise you’ll wait until after we deliver this kiddo before you haul my ass out the door.”
“Can I take you, if you’re all hopped up on everyone here?”
“If you can’t, promise you will stalk me until I start coming down. I’ll crash eventually.” I ran a hand through my hair snagging on the windblown knots. In the glare from a single light bulb the hair on my arm was standing straight up. I would have been easier with someone else who knew a release ritual. But since I was the only on in the room that was any higher then a basic, I could only hope that I would run away from the farm and into the woods. “The fear is leaking in, Im going to have to say something.”
“Not surprising,” he said quietly, “She’s screaming like a metronome, you could set a watch to her.”
I grabbed his forearm turning him towards me. I ignored the crawling feeling that snaked across my arm, his doubt was not my concern, and might save my ass later on. “Promise.”
“I promise, Gen.” His eyes glittered. I couldn’t spare attention to figure out why. Or to wish for someone else in his place.
“One of the males is terrified, I need him off of the circle, but he’s young. I don’t want to embarrass him directly by kicking him out for being scared. Get him to show you a running vehicle, preferably a van with the seats removed. If he can’t drive us, you will have to. Get it running and in front of this garage. Im going to get her and the baby through this and then we need to get her to the closest Centre.” Because I’m not a healer.
“We’re surrounded Gen. Exactly how do you expect to..”
“They won’t see us when the time comes.” I interrupted, already becoming distracted by the circle over my shoulder. I didn’t have time to be polite. The kid’s fear was spreading.
“What do you mean they won’t see us?”
“Stop asking questions, just be prepared for a big power shock, and ride it goddamit. Get the male, we’re running out of time.” I could feel the power threading through my voice, making it ring softly against the walls. I let a thread of power wind around his arm.
He stiffened. “My lady.” A tiny bow and he had shrugged my hand off and was circling around until he found the male. He wasn’t legal age but he had started his training. Something had caused him to start early, and Im guessing it wasn’t simple curiousity.
The tense knot between my shoulders eased as soon as his feet left the white line.
“Mother, guide my hand.” There wasn’t any more time.
I turned and faced the circle. Power was humming around them. I placed a hand on each shoulder in front of me, silently asking entrance. They stepped back and pivoted, to let me walk between them. As they closed their bodies back to face the center the power snapped together behind them. Sealing me in, and promising a fight if I wasn’t ready for this.
“Mother, you can hear your daughter in pain in the next room. Guide my hand. Fill me with your wisdom. Lend me the Power to bring this child into the world.”
A woman in a torn red shirt stepped forward
“Who are you to ask this?”
“I am Genevieve, and I ride the wind.”
“The wind will not help you in this task”
“Mother is the only one that can help me. I am your vessal, your body, your hands. Help your daughter through me. I invite you all in.”
The wind was suddenly howling outside. My element was screaming to come to me. But the circle held it back.
“Males, I need your strength, your fortitude, your ignorance in order to do what must be done. Females, I need your endurance, your knowledge, your calm. Pour into me everything that you can, but hold enough back for yourselves. I am no healer, this is not a healer’s work. A mother’s body must be torn in order for the child to be born. Earth, air, fire, water. These are not the gift that you hold. Spirit, fill me.”
I felt the floor drop away as the surge of power flowed through the circle and into the center where I was standing. My hair cracked with static and my skin felt taut against my muscles. My body seemed to inhale the power and soak it up until I was filled. I dropped to the floor and landed lightly on my feet. I marvelled at the tiny lines of my hands. Kaytin screamed and I whirled around and ran for the door into the house.
The circle entire sagged towards the floor and I hoped to Mother, that they had remembered the first lesson and saved some of the power for themselves.
The smell of blood and sweat hit me as I threw the door into the wall. I passed the hall mirror with only a vague impression that a stranger with wild eyes was running in my place. Kay was limp on the floor in the kitchen, the blood between her legs was sticky, caught on her dress and bare legs.
I could feel a part of my mind shy away from looking at her. The power thrummed I my veins, with every beat of my heart I felt the strength I had taken from the twelve in the garage. I knelt beside Kay’s head and she stiffened.
Her eyes fluttered. “Another one..”
I took her hand and said ‘Kay, crush my hand if you have to. I need you to keep your lower body as relaxed as you can. Let your own muscles work the way Mother intended. Don’t fight the pain, embrace it.”
She gritted her teeth and gripped my hand in both of hers. The scream was ragged and mostly trapped in her throat as she tried to suck in a breath.
“You can do this. Kaytin, you are built for this, you can do it.”
“I, Gen, I can’t.” She gasped when the contraction slowed.
I fed a little power into her hands.
“Let me help the baby come.” I whispered. Her eyes widened as the power snaked through her arms into her torso.
“Let me help you, Kaytin. Let me ease the pain.”
“There’s something wrong Gen, something wrong with the baby.” Her voice was stronger, as her body eagerly absorbed the power.
I helped her push into a seated position and I gently pressed my hands to her belly. The baby’s head was right there.
“The baby is breach Kay.”
“Oh Mother. Please Gen, please help my baby.”
“Im going to have to get you off the ground. Do you trust me?”
Kaytin breathed and screamed and moaned her way through another contraction.
“I can’t do this, goddamn I can’t do this.” Kaytin was speaking through clenched teeth and her eyes were fixed on a point of the floor a few feet away.
“Kay, Im going to move you onto the table, so that I can see. I’ll steady you, and hold you there. You’ll be safe and I’ll help your baby from there.”
I poured out power into her skin and felt it crawl with fear
“Relax, Kay. I’m not going to hurt you.” I spoke softly and gently used the power to lift her. I moved her over to the table and set her on top.
Another contraction incapacitated her and I let her grip my hand again. She was breathing heavily and only had about ten seconds when another contraction hit.
“Gen, oh mother, Gen!” She screamed. And I poured more power into her. I suddenly hoped to Mother that I had taken enough into my body to sustain her. I pushed away thoughts of how this would end if I hadn’t enough in me. She collapsed at the end of the double contraction and I used the few minutes to check how far she was.
The baby’s butt was peaking through, but after two more contractions, it was clear the baby was not moving. I used the power in Kay to push with her body, hoping to move the baby along. The birth was stalled.
“Gen, Gen!” Her voice cracked and there was a note of panic in it.”I have to push, Gen! What, what..” She gritted her teeth.
“Don’t push Kay! Wait until the next one.” It was a double and she pleaded with me. “No Kay, just wait. Please, hang on. The next one.” When her upper body relaxed I moved down between her legs and used power to pull her towards me. I no longer felt like I was full, or even half full. I was coming to the end of my borrowed strength, and I was losing Kay a little more every time her body doubled up on the contractions.
She clenched her teeth together and I recognized that as the sign another was coming.
“I want you to push with this one Kay. Push!” I used power to grip the baby in my hands, careful not to touch Kay, I gently pulled on the child as she pushed with everything she had.
“Five, six, seven, eight. Kay breathe, don’t forget to breathe.” She had propped her upper body on her elbows and was staring at me without seeing. The pain made her blind to everything but the sensations coming from her body. I hoped she could still hear me.
She didn’t waste a single breath on words, she just kept her eyes on mine, and I slowly eased her baby out of the birth canal.
Thirty minutes, an hour. Ten contractions, twenty. Kay had collapsed on the table and I didn’t know whether it was her pushing or her body taking over for her.
I formed arms out of power and extended them to her knees, careful to shield the baby from the extra strength I poured into her again. I didn’t know what this much power flowing through a tiny body would do to it.
“Kay? Answer me, mother. I know you’re tired but I need you here, with us.”
“I’m here.” I heard a weak version of her voice. “Where else would I be?” and she giggled. I cursed inwardly. She was gone and wouldn’t be back until the power wore off.
“Now, or never, little one.” The next contraction rolled through Kay’s body and I pushed with one ethereal set of arms and gently worked the baby out with my other set. I reached in to dislodge the tiny shoulders and in a gush of blood and fluids, Kay’s son was born.
I rode the power reverb and sucked it into myself. I clamped and cut the umbilicus. I worked the fluids out of the tiny mouth nose and eyes. I didn’t know I wasn’t breathing until the baby wailed with its first breath.
“Thank-you Mother” I whispered, my eyes filling up. I wrapped the child in the blanket Kay had brought from her things.
I set the babe aside and helped Kay’s body with the afterbirth. I lifted another blanket from the counter, and wrapped Kay in it. I rolled her over and pulled Kay up with power and checked her irises. There was no response to the fading light. She was still bleeding. And I was down to my last reserve. I put a holding pattern over her and left her hovering a few inches above the table.
I brought the babe outside to find a whitefaced Trellen, his arms unfolded from his chest as I brought him his son.
“He’s very tired.” I said quietly as I handed him the bundle.
He took it, and gently rocked the little one, as he slept.
“Hello, my son.” His eyes filled and I turned toward the van, not wanting to see the emotion on his face. Kay was still bleeding.
Caes hopped out of the driver’s side of the van.
“Start it up, call for some blankets. I want it ready in 5.”
“My lady.” I gritted my teeth at the tone. I ignored it as best I could and ran lightly back inside the house. I gripped Kay and towed her outside. She was floating at eye height, so that I didn’t accidently bang her into anything and I lowered her into the back of the van, onto several worn but clean blankets. I briefly wondered where Caes had gotten them. Trellen got into the back with us and laid the babe in between him and Kaytin.
He looked at me with wide eyes and nodded. I sat cross legged behind the passenger’s seat. I had to be in the back to keep an eye on Kay and the babe. Although what I was going to do I had no idea. Kay was still bleeding out, and the power I was feeding her kept her unconscious but I didn’t know how long her body would last.
Caes started the van slowly but increased the speed until I put a hand on his shoulder.
“Get us there in one piece, yeah?”
“She’s still bleeding.”
“How the hell do you know that?”
“I can smell it.” He growled the words, and licked his lips. I suddenly noticed how on edge he was.
I leaned over to his seat and up onto my knees. “Maybe you should have thought about that before getting into the driver’s seat. But it’s a little late now to complain about the blood. Just get us there.”
I put a hand on the ceiling and flooded the van’s paint job with enough power that we should appear like a shadow to anyone posted to the check points. Unless there was a Watcher in one of the towers, we should pass by without incident. Most check points wouldn’t sound an alarm because of the hair standing up on the back of a scout’s neck.
Caes took the corner into the Centre too hard and I held the van upright and glared at the back of his head. He screamed to a stop and I stood in the van, using a power extension of my arms to hold our precious cargo from braining themselves on the ceiling.
“Mother curse you, you dumb ape! Im down to the last bit and you force me to spend almost all of it so that you can squeal the tires on this piece of shit? Get the fuck out and help Trel get the baby inside.” I gritted my teeth and knelt by Kay’s head. I checked her breathing and her eyes again. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for, and I hoped to Mother that I would come down soon. I was starting to get gittery.
I heard Caes slam the call button at the side of the emergency garage door. Fifteen seconds later I had four healers in various sleeping clothes wrapping Kay in the blankets and lifting her out of the back of the van.
One of the women looked at me, squinted and said “You’re not a healer.”
“ You don’t need to heal to help a woman give birth.” My voice echoed in the van and I grabbed the back door and slammed it, effectively shutting out the cool voice. I was itching, my skin crawling on its own. I sat down and hugged my legs together, gripping my forearms. Where the hell was Caes? My eyes were burning, and I couldn’t seem to look around fast enough. I felt the material of my jeans and shirt, my underthings holding me together. Holding me from rolling on the floor, from rubbing my skin right off my body. Overstimulated. I was flushed. I ran a hand over my face and couldn’t stop running it over my lips and back again. Across my cheek, under my earlobe and down my neck.
He stomped out of the side door and over to the van. His boots reminded me of where I was and pulled me out of the feeling of my own skin. He paused before he opened the driver side door. I bit back a scream of rage and waited. I moved my hand back to my forearm and dug my fingernails in.
He landed lightly in the seat and started the van. His nose raised a bit.
Why, what can you smell on the air, furboy?
“No, Im not. Fucking drive already.”
“Where am I driving?”
“A motel, far away from here, and from the farm. And drive fast. But know that I can’t stop a crash, so don’t be reckless.”
He snorted. “I’m never reckless. And before we go anywhere, I’m tying you up.”
“If you open any of these doors, I’m going to launch myself out, and I’m going to find the snotty healer who thought to take me down a peg.” And I’m going to suck her dry. I didn’t voice the last thought, because its insane. I’m not a junkie. I don’t suck on anyone. I make a circle and they give me what they want.
I suddenly slammed my hand down on the floor of the van, looking for the camopower I left in the paint. I sucked it back in and unclenched my teeth as threads of power coursed up my arm. What the hell was I doing?
I heard Caes take a deep breath. And curse.
“Why didn’t you tell me this would happen?”
“I fucking did tell you.”
“Not the junkie part…“ He took another deep breath and started climbing over the seats into the back of the van.
“Gen.” He was crawling slowly towards me. His nostrils flared as he breathed in, and he rubbed the side of his cheek against his shoulder and ran his shoulder along his neck in a feline motion that my body seemed to recognize.
“Don’t touch me.” I was shaking with the effort of keeping my arms and legs together. Keeping myself from reaching out and running my hand through his hair. Mother, I bet his lips are as soft as they look. I shook my head as hard as I could. Better to black out, than to give in to this. Why didn’t I know about this part of the comedown?
He stopped close enough to me to be maddening. I shut my eyes and slammed my body sideways, hoping to hit my head hard enough to black out. Caes caught me and pulled me into his lap.
“Don’t do that, kitten.”
“This isn’t real Caes, its just part of the comedown.”
“That doesn’t mean that it isn’t real. It just means that there aren’t any emotional strings attached to it. You’re a female who’s strung out and reacting to the closest male.”
“What are you doing, back here? You should be driving us the hell away from here.”
“I can’t drive with you like this, behind me. I have to be able to see you.”
“If I move, I can’t be held responsible for what happens. I can’t control myself.” I refused to meet his eyes as I said this. Being in his lap was one thing. Looking into his eyes would completely undo me. I was still gripping my forearms, not daring to stretch out any part of me. Caes’ arms were wrapped around mine and he was sitting cross legged, so that I sat sideways, with my ear over his heart. He wrapped his arms tighter and somehow got me to the passenger seat. I was distracted by his heartbeat, drumming into my skull.
He moved behind me and I felt something circle around my arms and back.
“This will help kitten, you can grip my belt if you feel an urge to lash out. Just stare out the window. When we get to the motel, we’ll figure something out.” I could hear him wet his lips, and rub a hand over his stubble, making a rasping sound.
He dropped the van into drive and pulled a u-turn. Trees whipped past my view and I was lulled by the sound of my wind outside.
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