Binding Moonlight

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 17 (v.1) - Chapter 17

Submitted: January 14, 2019

Reads: 11

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Submitted: January 14, 2019

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Gabe sat at the big table in the library, bored out of his mind. Every book, which wasn't many, sat in a pile beside him. Normally he prided himself on his ability to read quickly, but now he was cursing the talent. He read the majority of the stack, but now his eyes hurt. The kid, Theo, told him not to wander too much while he and the white-haired guy were gone. The restriction didn't leave him with much to do. Sure, he could pop in and out at will, but they were already on thin ice here. He decided it was best just to stay put and not piss people off, even if he could teleport on the sly.

Grumbling to himself, Gabe tossed the book he had been reading onto the table and rubbed his eyes. All of the words on the page started to blend together. Pushing himself to his feet, he put the books back on the shelves and took himself back to his room. Kicking off his boots, he flopped down on the bed and combed his fingers through his hair. There was an old non-holographic television on the dresser, so he turned it on and started channel surfing.

Here are today's top stories,” announced a newscaster. The pretty reporter's flat expression bored Gabe. “Earlier this afternoon, a privately-owned interplanetary vessel was stolen at gunpoint—

Gabe flipped away from the news before she finished the story. He clicked through a hundred channels before eventually settling on the Jet Boarding finals. His eyes glazed over as he stared at the screen. He wasn't sure how much time had passed when his door buzzer went off, startling him.

“Come in,” he called, folding his arms behind his head. The door opened, and Max stepped into the room. Gabe smirked at her. “Hey! I was just thinkin' about ya,” he greeted.

“I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that,” Max answered, her voice flat. She sat down on the bed next to him, peering straight into his eyes. “I just came to see how you were doing.”

Gabe shrugged. “I'm fine. Bored ta tears, but fine. Once we talk ta the kid about Robyn, I'm gonna find another job. My retainer wasn't much, so finding a new place ta live won't be so easy. My parents don't appreciate me comin' and going'.”

Nodding, Max's gaze fell into her lap. “Do you have any friends from past jobs?” she mumbled, fiddling with a crease in the bedding.

“Not really, no. I mean, I don't tend ta keep in contact with people I've met on a job, y'know?” Gabe said, frowning. “They never really mattered.”

“What about us? Do Ekie and I matter?”

“Yeah, of course. Despite the bullshit between us, I still think yer good people. What's really botherin' ya Max?” Sitting up, Gabe spoke softly, his drawl fading just a little.

Max pursed her lips, pretending her fingernails were the most important thing in the world.

“Max, I have a little sister, remember? I know that look,” Gabe said, his tone chiding.

A tinge of pink colored Max's cheeks. “What look?”

“The one yer wearing right now,” Gabe replied with a smile. “Tell me what's wrong. I promise I won't be a pervert or anything. You can trust me.”

“I think I'll just go.” Max tried to get up, but Gabe snagged her sleeve and pulled her back down.

“Max, I was teasing. I'm a good listener, honest.”

She continued to frown at him.

“Please?”

Biting her lip, Max sighed heavily. She stared across the room, her eyes glossy. “I don't know what's going to happen, Gabe. I can stay with my brother if I have to, but what about Ekie? You two are my only friends, and I'm afraid if we split up, I won't see either of you again,” Max explained as tears spilled down her cheeks.

“Max, darlin', I'm smart enough to know this has nothin' ta do with me. You know Ekie would have to be a complete moron to leave a girl like you behind,” he told her, holding her hands.

“Gabe, it isn't like—”

“Max, I'm being serious here. Maybe ya don't see the little sparkle in his eye when he looks at ya, but it's there. But you know how he is. It's gotta be you who talks to him because he'll never say anything.”

Max blushed darkly but smiled. “You kind of remind me of my brother.”

The corner of Gabe's mouth curved upward. “And just like that, my chances fly out the window.”

Leaning over, Max kissed his cheek. “Don't delude yourself, Gabe. There was never a chance.”

“Ah well, a guy can dream. But hey, I guess now I can focus my affections on the cute little brunet kid,” he replied with an enormous grin.

“Gabe!”

 

***

 

Theo couldn't hide his excitement when he and Adonis arrived home. He loved giving people good news, and today he had the best news of all to give. They spent their day delivering the thumb drive to the hospital. They spoke with the Chief of Medicine, who assured them the labs would be working overtime until they had a functioning antidote for the Amaran virus. She told them if everything worked out, the first batch could be synthesized and distributed within the week.

“I'll let Tobi know,” Theo said, taking the stairs two at a time. He could no longer stifle his smile as he walked down the hall to Nrekeeka's bedroom.

“We do have a buzzer, y'know,” Tobi said, answering Theo's knock.

“Yeah, but I grew up in a regular house with regular doors. Is 'Keeka awake?”

“Your house is anything but regular. Yeah, she's awake. Why?”

“I have some news I think you'll both want to hear,” Theo replied, bouncing on the balls of his feet.

“Well come in then,” Tobi sighed, though he was smirking.

“Feeling better?” Theo asked Nrekeeka as he sat at the foot of her bed.

She nodded, leaning against her headboard and crossing her legs. “Much better, thank you.”

“Good! I've got something to tell you which will make you feel even better!” Theo declared, glancing from Tobi to Nrekeeka.

Tobi groaned loudly, rubbing his hand over his face as he flopped down next to Theo. “Just spit it out, would you?”

Theo raised his hands. “Okay, okay! So, as you probably know, Adonis got everything we needed when we were at the PDHW building. He and I went to the hospital today and gave it to the Chief of Medicine. She told us if everything went well, they could have something working as early as the end of the week. Shelsea will be the first one to receive treatment,” he explained, grinning from ear to ear.

Nrekeeka's eyes welled with tears, but she shared Theo's grin. “Are you serious?”

“Completely. She took a look at all the information we had and told us it seemed like the medicine was designed to repair the damaged muscle as well. If it works as well as they expect it to, regeneration could take under twenty-four hours. She said it had something to do with biological nano-organisms. It was a little over my head, but I definitely want to learn about it,” he added sheepishly.

Nrekeeka's bottom lip started quivering. She launched herself at Theo, wrapping her arms around his neck. “Thank you so, so much.”

Theo returned the hug with a startled chuckle. “Just doing my job. Speaking of which, I really ought to help Adonis get dinner ready. His cooking is improving, but I don't quite trust him not to burn the kitchen down yet. You'll be joining us tonight, yes?” he inquired, extracting himself from her embrace and getting to his feet.

“Of course.”

“Theo, can I talk to you in the hall for a second?” Tobi asked, his expression frighteningly serious.

“Uh, yeah, sure.” A frown creased Theo's brow as Tobi guided him through the door.

Tobi leaned against the wall after the door closed and crossed his arms. He let a slow breath pass between his lips. When he raised his head, he was smiling. “Thanks, Theo.”

“For what?” he asked, wide-eyed.

Tobi turned away again, face unreadable. “You made Nrekeeka happy. Shelsea is the only family she has left, and you've told her she'll be getting her back. It's been so long since I've seen such an expression. She always pretends nothing is bugging her, but I know better. She had a genuine smile on her face, so...thank you,” he said, running a hand through his hair.

Theo shook his head. “Don't thank me. You know I don't have a family, but since I moved here...I'd do anything for you guys. Oh, and while we're at it, stop trying to pay me! I don't need, or want, your money.”

Tobi let out a bark of laughter and pulled Theo into a bone-crushing hug. “You have no idea how glad I am to have you around.” His words were muffled.

Theo pushed back against Tobi's chest. “What has gotten into you?”

“You've put me in a good mood,” he answered as Theo started squirming in his arms.

“Well good,” Theo grunted, worming his way out of Tobi's grasp. “But I've got things to do. Make sure you come to dinner, okay?” Walking away before Tobi could grab him again, Theo gave Tobi a little finger wave and disappeared around the corner.

Chuckling to himself, Tobi went back into Nrekeeka's room.

Nrekeeka gasped, clutching her towel to her chest. “Don't you ever knock?”

Tobi grinned as he covered his eyes. “Sorry. Didn't think you'd be up.”

“And I thought you'd go shower,” she grumbled.

Tobi lowered his hand from his eyes. When he didn't get yelled at, he put his hands in his pockets. “I was planning to, but I wanted to check on you first.”

“Didn't we go through this just a little while ago when you were sick?” teased Nrekeeka. “I'm a big girl, Tobi. I can manage for a little while.”

“Okay. I'll, uh, be going then. Call if you need anything.” His eyes darted from her to the floor, and back again before he left the room. Crossing the hall to his room, he went straight to the bathroom. Standing in front of the sink, he took a deep breath and stared at his reflection in the mirror. He was surprised to see he was actually blushing.

 

***

 

Dinner turned into a repeat of lunch. Everyone stared down at their food, silverware tapping and scraping against the plates the only noise. Occasionally, someone would glance up and open their mouth to break the ice. They would always change their mind, turning their attention back to their dinner without speaking.

Max was the first to get fed up with the silence. She set her utensils down, exhaled a sharp breath and turned toward Nrekeeka. “I'm really sorry.”

“For what?” Nrekeeka asked, glancing up from her food.

“Everything! I was a complete bitch the moment I met you, and it was absolutely unjustified. I was so blinded by what Robyn was promising because it played right into my naïve hatred. I didn't see how wrong he was until someone I'm close to got hurt. And a chat with my brother showed me how misinformed I really was. I can't say enough how sorry I am,” explained Max, brow creased.

“It's fine. I don't really care. It was hardly the first time someone was belligerent with me just because of my Deldin blood. I'm more concerned if I can trust you or not now. People don't change their minds this easily. Particularly on matters of morals,” Nrekeeka told the girl.

“No, I understand completely. I'm not sure what I can do to gain your trust, but I'm done with Robyn. He's a disgusting, psychopathic creep,” replied Max.

“We're with Max,” Gabe added, pointing to Ekie.

Nrekeeka offered a smile she hoped appeared more genuine than it felt. “It's fine. We'll see what happens.”

“Thank you. And again, I'm truly, deeply sorry.” Max returned the smile.

“If you're really interested in helping us, I suppose it will be easier if you just stay here until everything is done with,” Nrekeeka said, leaning back in her chair.

“I didn't have anywhere better to be anyway,” shrugged Gabe. “Nice of y'all ta put us up.”

“It's no problem. We have a little extra space,” Tobi replied.

Max raised a hand, glancing at Gabe with her mouth open. “I have a warning if we're staying here. It's best if you ignore almost everything Gabe says.”

“What? How come?” A touch of fear colored Nrekeeka's voice.

“He hits on everyone,” grumbled Max.

“Oh, is that all?”

“I do not!” protested Gabe.

Max just raised an eyebrow at him.

“Okay, maybe I lied.”

“Maybe?”

With the ice finally broken, the group began chatting openly. Adonis and Ekie remained silent, observing the others.

Tobi shook his head, grinning. “Hey, guys? Can we continue this after dinner?” he asked with raised eyebrows. He knew he shouldn't trust these three, but he didn't get the sense he needed to worry. They were all just teenagers, and Tobi knew from experience how quickly teenagers could change their minds. He would even go as far as to say he liked these people, at least he believed he could be friends with them if given the chance.

“Where's Ninaria?” he asked Theo as the group settled in the common room after dinner.

Theo flopped down on the couch between Adonis and Gabe. “Probably sleeping somewhere. She is a cat, after all,” he replied.

Nrekeeka's brow twitched in confusion. “Who's Ninaria?”

Theo flicked his eyes toward Tobi. “My cat. Turns out she's an animorph named Ninaria.”

Tobi ignored Theo. He wouldn't tell Nrekeeka anything until she was ready. He liked and trusted Theo, but the kid didn't know Nrekeeka like he did. She was strong, but she needed time to recover. Waiting until after Shelsea was home would be the best option. She had enough to deal with right now.


© Copyright 2019 Kristin Kuffner. All rights reserved.

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