I sat in front of her with my glass, trying to figure out why she seemed different. I examined her carefully and my eyes widened. She was older. In her late 20s, it looked like. The last Michón we’d seen had been a very young 18. How long had she left us for? Dumbfounded, I gaped at her, holding my cup frozen in mid-lift to my open mouth. She laughed and touched my arm. “Relax. I will come back aged somewhat. I’m only here for this talk. I mean, me at this age will be back eventually,” she clumsily explained.
“Oh.” I blinked, still feeling odd. None of us had ever seen her as an adult. We were so used to her aging extremely slowly. The moment felt surreal. I kept staring at her, noting the differences. Her breasts were much larger; her hips, too. She no longer wore glasses (she’d switched to contacts at age 15) and no longer permed her hair. She also smelled different. To be more specific she had a new scent coming from between her breasts and I realized it was because they’d produced milk at some point. Seeing my sudden awareness she lifted her shirt to show me her belly. It was still flat (or rather flat again) but there were lines running from her belly button to her pubic area. I reached out to trace an ever-fading scar that ran horizontally instead of vertically in the space where her pubic hair began. A human would barely be able to tell it was ever there. “Michón, how did it turn out?” I asked in wonder.
She smiled warmly, eyes glittering. “My little miracle. The birth was not the way I’d pictured but everyone is okay.”
I set my glass down for a moment, slid down to my knees, and kissed the barely-visible scar. I ran my lips over her stretch marks, marvelling at how much softer the skin had become. “Wonderful,” I gushed. Tiger stripes, I thought. I began to worship her.
“Yes,” she murmured, momentarily lost in bliss. She sat still for a moment then straightened up and pulled down her shirt, shooing me away. Clearing her throat she said, “I wanted to tell you…since I’m finally brave enough to. I won’t be for a while. I’ll get there with your help especially. But I want you to be certain it’s not in vain.”
“I appreciate it.” I moved back to my stool a bit sadly, taking a swig of my drink. I wanted to explore the changes in her body and learn her again but now was not the time. Fuckin time travel!
“Everyone just discovered the nature of my relationships with Karia and Mikassa, yes?”
I nodded. “I don’t think anyone understands why you did it,” I shrugged and waited.
“Thanks for not yelling at me,” she sighed and worked her shoulders. “I can’t say everyone else was so kind… Anyway, you know Karia was my first sex partner, chronologically speaking.” She met my eye and took a drag on her cigarette.
“Well, yes. At least here in this story. Soleceet was the first anyone knew you had been with. And in the other realm Stuart was your first. In the past, from our point of view, Mikassa was first to lay with you. But in this story, from your point of view, Karia was your first,” I recalled.
“Right. The way I was…Karia didn’t judge me. He didn’t require anything else from me. He didn’t pressure me. It was what I needed, the catalyst for me being brave enough to pursue any of you. And then…I started writing Mikassa’s story. I realized where he came from and who he really was. He’s a god in bed but he really had fallen in love with me. He was safe in a way, too. And knowing how all of this would end up-or at least knowing in general-I had to trap him. I was the only one who could. Because he truly loved me. I’m worse than Aeryn.” Some tears sprang to her eyes.
“That’s not true. You planted the seed that saved us. Even Mikassa, once he levels out. I bet he’ll thank you,” I murmured, stroking her face.
“You think so?” She stared at the burning cigarette. “Maybe,” she whispered. Nervously, she cleared her throat. “Uh, but let’s move on. I want to tell you why I left and what I was doing. And I’ll share some future events with you. I’m really going to need your help, Damon. Mm, Damon, my daemon,” she smirked.
“I’m all ears, Mica,” I assured her.
*Caily’s point of view
I downed yet another glass and eagerly held it out for more. This burnt wine of Lombardi’s was fantastic. It certainly explained why he’d had so damn much wine stashed all over the ship. He’d spent most of his free time creating an entirely new taste. I was fairly impressed. And now here we were demolishing most of it. Josh was dancing drunkenly, singing an old song. Lombardi sat next to me with a comforting arm around me. He topped me off and then raised the bottle to his lips to chug some. “Do you think she enjoyed it? She wasn’t susceptible to his power of persuasion. Who knows how long this was for her?” I sighed. We’d been in here for weeks drinking and talking. But I doubted any of us had made any progress finding out Michón’s motivation. She and Mark had returned with Queen Aeryn shortly after vanishing. Mark was especially depressed. Everyone tiptoed around her, not willing to discuss anything heavy just yet. What with the shell-shock of all the abuse and horror we’d been through and the sounds of Mikassa’s broken laughs and cries drifting from his room, we all needed time. Damon seemed to be the most intact as he took up the role of caretaker, making sure the rest of us bathed and ate.
Michón kind of floated through, as if fearing the inevitable judgment about to rain down on her. So far, it hadn’t come. Most of us were more puzzled or saddened than angry. We merely wanted to understand. But for the first time in a long time, we rested. I curled up into Lombardi’s side, wondering if we’d ever be truly okay. And how long it would take. Lombardi ran his fingers through my hair. “She’ll let us know when she’s ready,” he replied wisely.
I was going to sigh again when there was a loud thump. Li and I jumped to our feet as Josh shouted, “What was that?”
“It came from the docking bay,” I called over my shoulder, already on my way out. Josh transformed and bounded down the halls ahead of us. I was much too drunk to transform myself (if you remember I could become a bull whenever I pleased). A few others joined us along the way. We all burst through the seal leading into the docking bay. From three of the other seals the rest of the crew appeared. A beautiful shimmering blue and gold ship had boarded us. Mark Ulf stood in front of it with a group of people. He held up his hands as if to placate us. He sent out calming energy but I couldn’t still my heart as one member of his group caught my eye. He stood like a soldier and held a very large gun in his hands. He wore a headband and the sleeves were torn off of his shirt. But the vest he wore was impeccable. Even though he’d grown his hair out he still presented a rather polished figure.
That’s why the pain in his eyes shocked me speechless. His green eyes looked as dark as Mark’s. My heart wrenched. I examined the gun again because it was too painful to look at his face. What does he need that for? It was a binding gun. It would pretty much turn a person’s muscles into useless rubber. My eyes widened as he stepped forward. “Where is he?” he asked in a battle-hardened voice. Where has my love gone? I stepped back, feeling lost.
“His quarters,” Stuart answered quietly.
John stalked right past everyone. I whirled around, staring after him in bewilderment. Rina came up quickly and grabbed my arm. “Hey, girl. You guys may want to stay out of this one. We’re here to liberate you guys for good. John specifically wanted to deal with Mik himself. Our job is to keep the rest of you out of the way while he does. Mark here filled us in on what went down. All you folks need to do now is decide where you want to go next,” she spoke in a low, soothing voice.
“But…what’s happened to him?” I wailed.
“We’ve seen some shit. We’ll let him tell ya. Suffice it to say we were doing damage control. Marduk fucked up a lot of places,” Oreo mentioned, shaking his head.
“My Johnathan,” I murmured sadly. I broke away from Rina and ducked into the hall after my husband. Mark Ulf and Blue followed me while John’s gang began greeting and talking with the remains of the A Seriesen crew. John took long, purposeful strides as he made his way into the bowels of the ship. I stayed about twenty feet behind him, wary. He reached Mikassa’s lair and stepped in without slowing. I ran to the door as I heard Mikassa scream in pain. John had grabbed his hair and held him in a painful grip. Both Marks stepped between John and me to stop me interfering. I gulped as John leaned down.
“I know what you’ve done. All of it. No more. You are the most disgusting creature I’ve ever met and that counts Ekin’s crusty ass. Your vile reign is at an end at long last. I’m here to pass judgment in the stead of Queen Aeryn. I’m here to make sure you feel all the pain you’ve put everyone else through. On behalf of Michón I will make you pay,” John said firmly and clearly.
“John, wait. About Michón; she consented. You know an elven bond won’t form any other way,” Mikassa tried to explain, his purple eyes filled with real fear for once.
“I don’t care. See, I’ve been in and out of time. I found out why she chose to do it. I know exactly why she married you and Karia. And I’m going to enjoy fucking you up proper for what you’ve done to her.” John rejected his plea, moving his face within inches of Mikassa’s. “You can feel it now. We’re going to have a lovely time of it,” he smirked, reminding me of Mark.
The Marks both looked forlorn. They edged back my way. “You should leave,” Mark Ulf suggested. “We’ll help John,” he promised.
I darted quickly from the room, terrified. Ariel met me a ways down the hall and grabbed my hand. “Give him time, Caily. Celebrate the fact that we’re finally free,” she suggested.
I nodded stiffly, still in shock. Is vengeance more important than me, more important than Mark? I knew John still loved him, or at least he had before he left. I blinked through my tears. Maybe I’d go back to finish off Lombardi’s burnt wine. Ariel came with me, not partaking herself but simply offering her silent support. John remained in that room with Mikassa for over a meshane. His gang stood guard while I imagined the Marks bore witness to the torture. Whatever was going on in there, none of the rest of us heard anything. The section was sealed entirely for sound. Slowly, the rest of us came out of our trauma-induced stupor. We were ready to decide what was next for us. We had Damon drag Michón out of hiding and we all met in the Black Tree room.