Author’s Note: I really enjoy the quiet moments with Gekin and Anokii. They are so comfortable with each other.
Then, of course, my attempts to have a plot get in the way. 😛
“Can we blame my more amorous mood on the need to have something good after the horror that was today?” Gekin asked, combing his hand through Anokii’s hair. He had not let go of her from the moment they’d reached the same point in the catacombs, and she would not call it amorous as much as desperate. He needed to hold onto her, and she wanted to be held. She could not want anything else, except perhaps to cry. Knowing that so many had died today, that the king was back and responsible for many of those deaths, she could not stop shuddering, and he had soothed her as much as he’d soothed himself by clinging to her.
“You are not so amorous.”
“Of course I am, niniamant,” he said, pressing his lips to her neck and making her shiver for a different reason. “I love when you do that. Not that I should—there are too many unpleasant reasons for you to shiver, but when you do so because of me…”
“I know you well enough to know that you would spend all your time indulging us in the pleasant ones, but that is not the life we live.”
“You won’t leave now that Agache has revealed that he is alive, will you?”
She sighed. She did not know why he would ask her that, not now. “You would not truly leave. That is not who you are, not who we are. We may value our love more than most things in life, but not enough to let our people continue to suffer.”
“There is too much good in your family, too much obligation,” Gekin said, but she knew that tone of his. He always betrayed his affection in his voice, even if that affection came out grudgingly. He took hold of her and kissed her, and she felt as though she would melt into one of the catacombs’ puddles until he broke away.
“Someone is here,” he said, tensing, and Anokii almost smiled at the guilty look on his face, the same one he’d had when they were children just falling in love and every kiss seemed forbidden. He had always been more charming when he was sheepish, though she did feel somewhat uneasy when she thought perhaps he had forgotten that they were to meet Agache tonight.
“It is only me, cousin, and I have stumbled upon you and your wife in worse states before. This is nothing.”
Gekin grimaced, and Anokii laughed, for Agache’s words were true. “You seem… improved since I saw you last. You were able to sleep?”
“He sleeps? That is surprising,” the queen said, giving him a dark look. He smiled back at her. “Don’t smirk at me. I am still not sure why I didn’t just stab you instead of following you down here. I am almost certain that Malzhi drugged me again, and I do not appreciate being woken after that.”
Agache frowned. “You let him touch you?”
“Would you rather I killed him? That seems to be the only way to avoid his touch.”
“I thought you didn’t want to kill anyone.”
“I don’t,” she said, drawing her cloak around her. She closed her eyes. “How many people died today? Do we know yet?”
“The last count was twenty.”
She cursed in her native tongue, shaking her head. “Why would they do that? Killing their own troops is no way to win a war. It seems foolish at best and is worse than heartless.”
Agache sat down across from her. “No, worse is that I believe the king was among those making sure the troops did not survive their training.”
Her head jerked up, and she went as pale as one of their people. “He is back? Oh, tell me you have a plan of some sort to end this thing. I… I have been feeling as though his return means my death for some time now, and if we are going to act, the time must be now.”
“I agree. That is why I forced you from your bed.”
She glared at him, reaching for a handful of water and throwing it at him. “How can you lead a revolution when you are so… infuriating?”
“I suspect the king and Malzhi find my actions with the revolution far more irritating than you do,” he told her, smiling again. Anokii frowned. Although she had wanted to see her cousin’s spirit return to him, she had not wanted it to be like this. He was being too playful, and that worried her. If he was acting as though nothing were bothering him, he was doing it for the queen’s sake, pretending that he was fearless, but why should he make such an effort for her? Acting as though he were a child did not change what they were against, and he could not fool the queen forever.
Another reason for his behavior came to her, and Anokii cursed. “How much pain are you in right now, Agache?”
He closed his eyes. “Sometimes I hate how well you know me, cousin.”