Part XI: Hard Goodbyes
The moment we came home, Caroline decided to make some tomato sauce in advance for tonight’s dinner, letting it simmer all day in some thingy that I didn’t know. Although we had a full kitchen at home, it mostly made toasts and microwaved pre-bought food. Ian could throw a birdarang at a running target a hundred yard away while blindfolded but kitchen knives were out of his league… Not that I was any better but I didn’t have kids.
A few minutes before Homeroom came, Caroline’s phone rang. She took it out of her pocket and stated at the screen.
“Is it…?” I asked, omitting the last two words.
“It’s my mom.” Caroline answered with a heavy sigh, just staring at the screen of her phone some more.
“Aren’t you going to answer?”
“I don’t know if I really want to…”
“I’m sure she just wants to apologize.” I said. As terrifying as mama bear could be, I didn’t want her and Caroline to be at odds because of me…
“I guess you’re right.”
She got up and went outside to talk. I kind of wanted to follow her and not leave her alone. But I couldn’t just butt in family business…
To my surprise, Caroline came back only a minute later, clutching her phone nervously. She wasn’t upset, which was a good thing, but I could still see that she wasn’t 100% a-okay.
“So?” I asked.
“She wants to see me like right now.” She said with a small sigh.
“Oh. Want me to come with you?”
There were a few seconds of silence as Caroline thought about it.
“Only if you want to.” She then said.
So I got my coat on.
“Ready to go.”
“Alright.” She said giving me the tiniest sliver of a smile.
We went out and the moment the door was closed, her hand found mine. I could feel how tense she was so I gently squeezed her hand which seemed to help. We didn’t talk on our way to the gate, instead I could just see Caroline being lost in thoughts, probably going through a thousand scenarios of what was about to happen.
“Who’s that?” Caroline asked once we arrived at the gate.
I looked and I saw that Shavek was the one on guard.
“Oh that’s Shavek. They’re a Shivat, they’re a castaway, really nice, just don’t be weirded out by their speech pattern.” I explained.
Shivats were one of the alien species we’d encountered, but unlike the Itharii, Gimelians, Venusians or Tzaries, they didn’t have a population on earth. Three years ago, a misunderstanding had caused one of their scout ship to crash on earth. The mess had gotten fixed and the Shivats sent home but Shavek had been accidentally left behind.
Shivats are these colorful insect-like creatures, which varied strongly depending on their type. Shavek being a warrior. Since I’d spent quite a bit of time at Ravenhold with Ian, I’d gotten to know them. Although I still wasn’t sure about their gender; they’d told me they were ‘unmale’ but since Shivats had a separate group called queens which did the breeding, I wasn’t sure if that made them female or some third category…
Caroline and I came foward and Shavek’s head and their big bubbly eyes turned toward us.
“Greetings unmale shivat-untype fledgelings.” Shavek said, they didn’t really do names, instead using titles such as ‘fledgeling,’ ‘warrior’ or ‘worker’ to refer to different people. Shivats didn’t have vocal cords so Shavek relied on a translator to turn the chirps they could make. “How may Shivat-self assist?”
“Greetings Shavek, we need to leave the colony for ten minutes to meet unself mother.” I said, motioning to Caroline. One thing I’d learned was that trying to mimick the Shivat speech pattern typically resulted in easier communication.
“Affirmative. Shivat-self requires identification.”
I took out my school ID and let them scan it, Caroline doing the same. That done, Shavek opened the gate for us.
“Thank you. Have a safe and efficient day-cycle, Shavek.”
“Have a safe and efficient day-cycle, fledglings. Transmit Shivat-self greetings to fledgling queen.”
I nodded and we left the school ground.
“What did that mean?” Caroline asked, whispering as if trying not to let Shavek know she hadn’t understood.
“They want you to say hi to your mom for them. Queen and mom are synonymous for Shivats and the translator can’t do the difference.”
“Oh… Well, that was weird.” She said with a chuckle.
“Shavek’s really chill once you know how to talk to them. Like once you get pass the big bug thing, they’re a really nice person. Heck, they have their own ‘dear Shavek’ advice column in the school newspaper.”
The thing had apparently begun as a joke after a student had allegedly said they’d ask the Shivat for advice and then had done so and it had become a thing until it had been put in the newspaper as to not distract Shavek 24/7. Oddly enough, Shavek had kind of become a darling of the students after that. And really other than being a big bug, they were really nice and always so dang helpful and polite.
“You’re kidding?” Caroline asked, she just stared at me like she was expecting me to be pulling her leg.
“Nope. It’s pretty wild.” I answered with a laugh. I looked around and found Mama bear leaning against her car’s hood. “Hey, there’s your mom.”
“You mind waiting here for a few?” Caroline asked.
“Sure. I’ll be right here if you need me.” We were far away I wouldn’t hear the conversation unless it’d turn to screaming. I kind of wanted to know what they’d talk about but it was more important to respect Caroline’s privacy.
“Mind holding this for me?” She then asked, taking her big leather satchel off her shoulder and giving it to me. I took it and put it on my shoulder, opposite the one where my utility belt hung, hidden under my coat.
With that done, Caroline slowly walked toward her mom, leaning on the hood as well. I looked around and found a stone bench that was meant for the shuttle bus that went back and forth between Ravenhold and Havenport.
So I sat down for a few minutes, trying not to stare at Caroline and her mom. I shot a few text to my dad, telling him Caroline had accepted the dinner invite, something I’d forgotten to tell him when he’d driven us home.
Eventually, Caroline kissed her mom goodbye and she drove away in the family car. Caroline staying in place.
I got up and went toward her.
“Are you alright?” I asked. She turned toward me and I saw the conflicting emotions hiding behind her eyes.
“Yeah, it’s just goodbyes are hard.” She said.
I wrapped my arms protectively around her and she hugged me back gently. We just stayed like that for a moment.
“Well, we better get to class.” She said. “Or we’re going to be crazy late.”
“Alright. What about the gift?”
“Eh, I’ll put it in the house at lunch time.”
I nodded and we hurried toward class, arriving a few minutes late. Thankfully Ravenhold wasn’t too pointy on class attendance so long as you performed well enough, didn’t get into trouble and it wasn’t too common.
Homeroom passed really quickly, Caroline and I just cooperating and helping each other through her lesson; I was better at math while she was better at english so it was win-win. After which was lunch time, where I settled for delicious tacos.
We were in the middle of lunch when Michael or Rook — whatever you want to call him — stepped toward us.
“Class three of year one. It’s nice to see you’re all assembled here, that makes everything easier.” He declared. “Some of you have had the luxury of skipping our first class. I believe it’s time we rectify this.” He said.
My head turned toward Allen, I couldn’t help but smile.
For once Michael was going to do something I’d appreciate; hurting Allen. And call me awful but it was going to be fun to watch.