I gotta get this bitch the fuck out of my apartment now, was the first thing Shadow thought as soon as the door closed after Hymnal and Vigil walked out. He spun to point at Bekah and tell her to get out, and Guardian came out in force. He surged forward so hard he nearly stumbled.
Bekah turned to the bedroom and dropped into the bed.
“You told them about me having sex with Mary?” he asked.
“Accidently, yes.” She sobbed.
“You never told them about your—”
“No. How could I? You saw what they are like. How could I ever tell them anything? How could I ever be honest about that sort of thing with them?”
He had so many things to say. Guardian was crushed, felt betrayed, and in the background was Shadow raging. Shadow wanted her out. Wanted her to get the fuck out of his life. Wanted her to fuck off as fast as possible.
Guardian sat. He let her cry and he ran it all through his mind.
None of the betrayal mattered. None of that was going to change the way he felt about her. Why bring it up? He would never ask her about it again. He took the way she looked away when he needed her in stride. Never for one second ever thinking about it again. To this day it doesn’t bother him. Just part of the job. Sometimes the people he loved most would just hurt him or betray him for no reason. Rose had done it. Less had done it, and now it had come from a source he never expected, but it was here.
He had learned his place. Learned this was no different than his life had always been. Guardian had thought that Bekah was his equal. That she was never going to hurt him, and she would stand beside him. In that moment, he knew better, he was in her service. It didn’t matter what she did to him. From now on, she was handled just like Less.
He wondered what was best for her. How could he protect her from this? If she left then Shadow might never let her back in. If she left the worst of it would become real. She would lose us forever. The wedding would be canceled. She would have to live a world without her soulmate. Guardian knew he could not let that happen. So, he locked the door.
He needed to get his arms around her again, needed to let her know that it was all fine. He didn’t care. Her betrayal was nothing. But he could not figure a way to do that. He had no move to make, so he leaned against the door and slid to the floor, sitting in front of the door so she could not leave.
Artist knew exactly what to do. In situations like this, all that was needed was beauty. He needed to cover her in beauty and light. If she was going to be healed, she needed romance.
He stepped into the bedroom and she had her face covered with her arm. She was sobbing and he looked at her clinically. Staring at her body and the way it lay. Staring at the tears. The arm. And seeing the problems, seeing what needed to change.
“We are not having sex again until the wedding,” she sobbed.
“Sex is the last thing I am thinking about right now.” He breathed. He knew it a lie before he said it. The only thing that would heal her was his body. Artist had known that for months. Every time she was upset, he could talk to her all night, but it was only making love to him that eased her soul. He knew she needed him, but she was just out of his reach.
He clapped the lights off and walked to stand in the corner. He muttered to himself for a minute and dropped to the bed. She scooted over and he leaned in over her.
“Just let me lay here for a minute. Trashy’s trying to make me scare everybody off. I just need to lay here long enough for her to leave. I don’t want everybody to leave. I want to be right here. On this bed. Next to you,” Artist whispered to Bekah.
She froze. She stopped crying. She remembered. She remembered the night when we first got together, the way he had talked to her and the voice that had brought her in. She was in the wind of his wings now, drifting back to a memory that had changed her life forever.
“Oh, really.” She stopped crying. Just the sniffles and a bit of hope.
“Yes, right here. This is where I want to be. I’m gonna give you the bed when she leaves. I don’t have to stay here but,”
Bekah grabbed my arm. “Don’t leave.”
I paused. Let the image of Trashy stomping out of the house go through her mind. Then I leaned in close to Bekah’s ear and said, “This is the part where Trashy kicks Burg in the head.”
“I have a secret,” Artist said.
She blurted out, half crying, half hopeful, “I already know what it is. Just tell me.”
“I can’t stop thinking about you,” he said. “And I would do anything just to hold you tonight. You’ve been drinking. I would never let you take your clothes off or take mine off, would never allow things to get past a certain point with you in the condition you’re in.”
“I’m not as drunk as you think I am.”
Guardian stepped forward and took her hand. “No matter what happens tonight, you keep your clothes on. Can I just hold you? Can I just put my arm around you and feel you against my body? Feel you fall asleep and maybe sleep with you?”
She looked up at him, her eyes wide, breath short. “Do you wanna kiss me?”
Guardian did want to kiss her. It was all he wanted to do. But Shadow jumped forward. He kissed her passionately and began to undress.
She undressed too, and Shadow fucked her for the first time. He had made love to her before but there was no love in what he did that night. When he was almost done Guardian pushed his way forward and took her tenderly in his arms. He pulled out of her body and held her. She gripped tight to him and she gasped.
“It’s never been like that before,” she said, stunned.
Guardian said nothing. He didn’t know what to say. He just held her.
“She did what?” Bell said.
“She just sat there,” Shadow said. He wanted to take one of their cigarettes, but he didn’t. “She let them call me a corrupter and she just sat there.”
“This house smells like sex all the time,” Burg said.
“Her parents just yelled at you, in your fucking house?” Bell said.
“We are not moving in together when we get to Springfield, I guess,” Shadow said.
“Well, I guess not,” Burg said. “You still going?”
“Yeah, I got in, all I have to do is get housing. I’m going to make her fill out the papers,” Shadow said. “Then I’ll get my education.”
“What about the wedding?” Bell said. “You still going to marry this chick?”
“Don’t know, probably,” Shadow said.
“Yes, I am still going to marry her. She had as bad a night last night as I did,” Guardian said. “She just needs time to heal.”
“What the fuck are you talking about, man?” Burg said. “You sound ridiculous. You are either mad at her or you aren’t. This skipping back and forth thing won’t work. Make a decision right here and now. Are you going to marry this girl?”
“Yes, absolutely,” Guardian said.
And that was the moment. If Shadow had been out, then he would have said no, and I would not be in this house with this girl right now. But Guardian had taken over, so the wedding was still on.
This would be the way it would go now. Whoever was out and in control of the body would make the decision on the floor. Sometimes that meant a shitty thing being said to the one we loved. Sometimes that meant romance.
Times would come in Springfield when Shadow would be out, and the topic of Bekah would pop up and he would go find a girl to flirt with. There were other times when Bekah would come up and Guardian would go be with her and hold her.
Our compass was out of whack.
Shadow never defended Bekah to Rose anymore. When the topic of Bekah came up, he would sit with Rose and laugh at everything she said. A few times Rose would ask if the wedding was still on because of the way Shadow treated the subject. He would shrug and walk away and behind him Rose would laugh.
The Street Rat was furious. He was done. He only came for sex and to say the occasional shitty thing and claim to be joking.
The knight was terrified. He knew now that he was in service of someone more important than him.
Bekah began to sense Shadow’s anger and push back against it. She would get flippant and Guardian would rush forward to protect her from Shadow. He would take the hit and apologize. He would try to make it up to her.
This was our life now. One alter hating her, the other two protecting her. When we got as far as college Artist got distracted and made things even more impossible, but for now, Guardian was holding on as tight as he could.
Shadow was just a Street Rat, enraged.