Binding Moonlight

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

Chapter 29 (v.1) - Chapter 29

Submitted: January 19, 2019

Reads: 15

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Submitted: January 19, 2019

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It was hours before they were able to go home. They had been given an escort, so Tobi wasn't able to stop at the hospital to check in on Nrekeeka. He worried about her, and he knew he wouldn't be getting any sleep until he was allowed to see her. Theo knew it too, because Tobi had to reassure him he wasn't going to do anything stupid before the teen left him alone. He wasn't interested in sitting alone in his room and found himself pacing the halls. On his third trip through the building, he was heading to the kitchen as Ninaria came in from outside.

“What's up, doll face?” she asked, swishing her tails from one side to the other as she approached.

“Where the hell have you been?” he barked, balling his hands into fists at his sides.

The woman leaned her weight on one leg, crossing her arms. “Working. A girl's gotta eat, y'know.”

“Working? On what?”

“I don't see how it's any of your business,” she replied, looking down her nose at him, her cat ears twitching.

Tobi thumped his fists against his legs. “It's not my business? Isn't it your job to watch Nrekeeka and Shelsea? Aren't you supposed to protect them?” His voice broke and he had to swallow to clear the lump sitting heavily in his throat.

“Yeah? And what's your point?” Ninaria stared at him, her steady gaze piercing his shaky calm.

“My point?” The word came out strangled. “My fucking point is Shelsea is dead.” His vision blurred with tears.

Scowling, Ninaria shook her head. “What? You're not very funny, pal.”

“You think this is a fucking joke?” he demanded. “Why would I joke about this? Tell me that, you stupid bitch.”

The color drained from the animorph's face.

“You're done. I don't care what Tristan told you, or how long he wanted you to watch them. I want you to stay away from Nrekeeka. Keep whatever he paid you, I don't care. But if I see you again, I will kill you. Now get the hell out of my house.” His irises burned molten gold with anger, though his voice remained flat.

“Can't I at least talk to Theo?”

“Out. Get the fuck out!” Tobi barked the last word, startling the woman. She held his gaze for a moment before turning and disappearing out the front door. He let out a shaky breath and realized how exhausted he felt. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Without Nrekeeka here, he was lost and lonely. Maybe sleep was a good idea after all.

 

***

 

After four hours of heavily interrupted sleep and a shower, Tobi snuck out and drove himself in a haze to the hospital. The nurses were hesitant to let him see Nrekeeka, but after assuring them he had been screened for the new virus strain and wasn't showing symptoms, they gave in. He paused outside her door, taking a few deep breaths. Anxiety rooted him to the floor now that he could actually see her. He was terrified he would break down in front of her when she needed his strength the most.

Taking one more deep breath, Tobi opened the door. Nrekeeka sat up in her bed, staring at her lap. Her hair had been washed and she was dressed in clean scrubs, but dark bags underlined her eyes and her ears drooped.

“Hey, 'Keeks,” he greeted gently, entering the room.

Her gaze didn't shift.

Timidly, Tobi walked over to her bed and sat down. Reaching out, he took her hand in his and she finally looked up at him with red-rimmed eyes.

“She's gone,” Nrekeeka whispered.

Nodding, Tobi squeezed her fingers. “I'm so sorry, Sweetheart. I couldn't do anything even though I promised I would keep her safe.”

“I just got her back and she's gone again. I don't...I don't have anyone left.” Shaking her head, she turned her face away from him. Tobi could tell she wanted to cry but didn't have it left in her.

Tobi gathered her in his arms. “Not true. You have all of us. Theo, Adonis, Max, Ekie, Gabe. You have me. I need you.”

Nrekeeka's touch was light as she returned Tobi's embrace. “I need you,” she repeated as though the words were foreign to her.

“That's right. I need you. I need you to be strong, to not shut me out, to let me help you.”

Nrekeeka gripped Tobi's shirt a little tighter as he spoke.

“This is going to be painful for a very long time, and everyone will be pushing you to do things you don't want to do, and I'm sorry. But you know whenever it's too much for you, I'll be there to help. And I'm telling you right now, it's okay if you need to be selfish once in a while. No matter what you need, I'll be there,” Tobi whispered to her, stroking her hair. “We can do this together. Just like always.” He wanted to take her pain away so badly, but it had been so much easier when all he was protecting her from was the bullies at school.

Nodding, Nrekeeka let out a breath, resting her head heavily on Tobi's shoulder. Petting her hair, Tobi kissed her forehead.

“You can cry if you want. I understand, believe me. I'm doing everything I can to keep it together,” he told her, rubbing her back.

“You don't cry,” Nrekeeka told him, sitting up to look him in the eye.

Tobi almost laughed at her flat expression. “Sure I do.”

“I've never ever seen you cry. Not once.” Nrekeeka leaned back against her pillows, scooting over so Tobi could sit next to her.

Kicking his feet up on the bed, Tobi held Nrekeeka's hand. “Doesn't mean I don't do it. In fact, I cried most of the night.”

A soft, sad smile curved her mouth. “Shelsea would have made fun of you.”

“Yeah, I know,” chuckled Tobi.

The pair sat silently, staring at the wall as the clock ticked monotonously. Sitting here with her, Tobi's unease was calmed. Despite their setting, despite what had happened, despite what was to come, Nrekeeka made him feel at ease.

“Tobi,” Nrekeeka said, glancing at him.

“Yeah?”

“Take me home.”

“Of course.”


© Copyright 2019 Kristin Kuffner. All rights reserved.

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