The Valkyrie’s Daughters: Part XI

The Valkyrie’s Daughters

Part XI: Catching up

Things happened and were said, but my brain wasn’t there. Slowly sound started making words again and words became sentences.

“So, what is everyone doing after classes today?” Someone asked, I think it was Avery. My brain wasn’t good at telling which voice belonged to who.

“I don’t know. haven’t thought about it.” Was all I answered, my octopus still in my mouth, I tried to think of anything, but my mind was blank.

“I don’t know either. I wanted to get to know more of our classmates though.” Riley was easier, they were the british one.

Then I lost track again. I heard the words but not the person.

“Me too. Probably I’ll avoid that Nine person though.” “I don’t know either. I wanted to get to know more of our classmates though.” “Nine?” “The one Drew said was rude.” “What did he do?” “Yeah. From what I saw you’d be good to avoid him. To say he’s a creep would be an understatement.” “But I am excited for today.”

I had no idea what to say anymore…

“I’m really excited to have more classes. They should be fun. Just… maybe not the fighting ones.” It was Avery,

That one I knew. “I don’t think we have combat today.” I said. “Maybe you can check the schedule on your tablet?”

I saw Riley looking at theirs for a moment.

“Oh, good. I don’t like combat. Why can’t I be a sidekick or something?” Avery said.

“There’s been psychic heroes; like Indigo or Esper. Legion too.” I said. “You can help with the psychic villains, there’s a lot of those.”

“But I don’t want to fight.” Avery said, that was good, being a cape had lots of fighting… “I would have to hurt people and that’s just not good. I get that you might need to, but I don’t want to be the one that does it. I’d rather just be someone who helps behind the scenes, you know?”

“I’m not big on combat either, but I really want to be able to help people with my powers. I’m sure there’s something you could do that doesn’t involve combat.” Drew said. “Michelle’s right! You can be a hero without having to physically fight.”

“Excuse me y’all. I have to uh go do something real quick.” Riley said.

“Okay?” I mumbled as they teleported away. I blinked and looked at the others. “Are they okay?” I couldn’t tell…

“I don’t think so. Any idea where they would have gone?” Drew asked.

I didn’t. This morning was just very confusing…  “Their room?” Was all I could think of.

“Maybe. Let’s check.” She said. “Do you think I said something wrong?”

“I don’t know. They looked at their tablet before leaving, maybe that was it?” It was dumb but it was all I could think off…

“I hear them talking to Teddy. Sounds like it’s around the bathroom. Wanna go see if they’re there?” Avery said.

“Yeah sure. Lead the way.” Drew said.

“Sure, follow me. I hope they’re okay.” Avery answered.

I followed quietly, maybe Riley just needed to go potty… Did they go potty with Teddy? Did Teddy needed to go too? Did— This wasn’t helpful thinking. Riley came out of the bathroom, I could hear flushing. Maybe they just did need to use the bathroom…

“Hey! Are you okay? We were worried about you.” Drew asked.

“Uh, yeah…” Riley answered, looking away, I looked where they looked and saw nothing.

“Are you sure?” I asked, hopefully they could tell us, because I had no idea… People are hard to understand… At least with papa and mama knew to tell me what they were feeling… It’s odd how allistics can just tell how people feel…

“Completely fine, just feeling a little nauseous is all.” Riley said.

I frowned, nausea wasn’t good… “Oh okay. Are you going to be okay for classes?”

They showed me their thumb and I blinked. Oh wait, that was a thumbs up. Maybe I needed a break from classes…

“Alright… if you need anything were here. You can tell us if anything’s wrong.” Drew said, putting a hand on them even though Riley said they were fine.

“I’m fine now, really.” Riley said.

“Okay…” Drew said. “What time do classes start again?”

“Eight. We have time for breakfast.” I answered. Breakfast was just what I needed, maybe then I could think…

“Good. I’m hungry.” Avery said. “Maybe they have chicken nuggets for breakfast. Or bananas. Ooh, maybe there’s smoothies!”

They all started talking about breakfast and I got lost in the words, they become nothing but noise…

***

We got breakfast, I got some sausages with toasts, which I ate away from the others, I needed some time with less words, let my brain get better at processing everything. I was almost done with my breakfast and making my brain work again when Ike came by.

“Ike?” I asked.

“Yes?”

“Did I do something wrong yesterday?” I asked. “You got all quiet.”

“Nothing….I… I probably should’ve just said but I didn’t bring any swim stuff and I get self-conscious of my chest… I mentioned top surgery to my mum once and her reaction was so bad I just kinda ignore it.” I blinked… That was a lot of words. It took me a moment to understand all of them.

“You could have kept your shirt on.” Was all I thought about.

“I can’t swim with my binder on.” Ike explained

“And I know if I had to remove it, you would’ve been totally fine and looked the other way, but I just felt embarrassed about having to strip off on the beach like that,” Ike rambled before sighing. “Sorry, I should’ve just told you all of this then, but I was feeling really good helping someone learn and doing something I enjoyed. I thought if I tried to swim it would undo all of that,” they sighed again.

I blinked. That was a lot of words. I think I understood most of them. Maybe. “Binder don’t sound fun.” I said.

Ike laughed, “They’re not. I’m worried about combat class with it to be honest.”

Michelle frowns. “I don’t think you’re supposed to do that.”

“Probably not, but I really don’t like seeing my chest. My ‘girl’ days are far and inbetween,” they laughed. “Are you looking forward to classes?” they asked.

“I always wanted to be a hero, but I didn’t have powers before, I kind of feel sad that Valkyra died she was someone I really adored and worshipped but now I have her powers and I want to make her proud.” Michelle says, quite rapidly.

“I’m sure you will,” Ike smiled. “I was used to feeling different, now I really am and-” they paused mid-speech, I think they were making a face. Odd. “Do you think people deserve second chances? Or… fourths?”

“I don’t know.” I said.

Ike gnawed their lower lip, mom didn’t like when I did that. “I don’t know either.” they sigh. “Let’s talk about something else.”

“I need to get my makeup done.” I said, getting up. I took a few steps before stopping. I always forgot goodbyes, Mom always told me it was important. “Bye Ike.”

“Bye.” Ike said.

I went into the bathroom and took out my makeup kit. I only had thirty minutes left… This was going to be a challenge… I’d done make up for many years but I’d never gotten good at it, I didn’t have the dexterity for it.

“Hi Michelle!” Drew said coming up to me. Unlike me, her makeup was flawless, so pretty… I was kind of jealous.

I wiped away my third attempt at eyeliner, it looked like a toddler had done it. “Hey…” I mumbled.

“What’s up? You seem frustrated.”

“It’s so hard.”

She came up to me and put her own makeup bag on the counter. “Here, need help?”

“I’ve been doing it for years but I never get better.”

“It’s okay. I’m pretty good at it now, but that’s only because I’ve practiced a lot. You’ll get better.” She said, I wanted to tell her I had practiced so much… “What are you going for? Like, do you want it to look dramatic or more natural?”

“Natural.” I said. “I do too, but I’m just so clumsy.”

“It’s okay, I’ll help if you want. Here,” she pulled out an eyeshadow palette and a brush from her bag. “Close your eyes.”

I did as she asked and she got to work. “Thank you. I wish I was as good as you, you’re really pretty.”

“Thank you. You’re rather cute yourself.” My cheeks got very warm. Was I pretty? I never really thought I was… I always thought my nose and lips were too big, I didn’t have pretty eye color… I was too dark skinned for Germany…

I opened my eyes and saw what she’d done. The eyeliner was sharp and perfectly applied, the eyeshadow made my eyes pop out.”It’s amazing!” I mumbled.

“It’s nothing, really.” She took out a tub of lipstick and I parted my lips so she could apply it. “Perfect.” She said once she was done. My lips were now a nice dark red that just looked so pretty without standing out too much.

“It really is perfect!” I big smile formed on my lips. “Can I give you a hug?”

“Of course.”

She opened her arms and I hugged them, with both my hands and my wings, tightly wrapped around her. She hugged back very tight, that was odd.

“Is everything alright?” I whispered, still keeping her in my arms.

“Just thinking about my dad. I really loved him, and I miss him every day. But you know…” She squeezed even harder. “I think I might just be alright now.” She answered in a low tone.

We let go and I saw her wipe her eyes.  “Yeah. I’m fine.” She said, grabbing her bag. “Come on, let’s see if we can go find the others.” She pat me on the shoulder. I remembered hearing that when people are honest they touch you… or something like that.

So I nodded and followed her out.

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Kioshi Origins 3

July 29th 2016- Evening

I crouched, resting my chin on the crib railing and staring down at the sleeping Hikari. She made a weird, uncomfortable face and began to squirm. I stood up from my crouch, reaching down into the crib to pick her up.

“Kioshi! Stop picking her up everytime she makes a weird face! Babies make weird faces!” Mother shooed my hands away from Hikari, “She’s going to get to the point that she can’t sleep without being held if you keep coddling her!”

I backed away, “But-”

“No but’s. It’s time you headed out anyway!’

“Right.” I went invisible and teleported out of the house. With a brief pause to crack my neck, I started jogging towards the target…

I teleported through the window of the darkened jewelry store, still keeping invisible as I went between the cases, dumping all the jewelry I could into my backpack. It was quick. Less than 10 minutes.

And it fell apart even quicker.

I teleported out of the store and was hit with lights, shocking me out of invisibility for a second, “Hands up!” I turned invisible again but something exploded by my feet and another on my shoulder.

I needed to get out of there.

But the lights blinded me, I couldn’t see where it was safe to teleport to.

I tried to sneak away, past the lights, so I could get out of there. There were more shouts but my heart was beating too loud to make out the words…

And then there was a hand on my arm, my knees on the ground, a hand on the back of my head, forcing my head into the pavement…

… into the pillow, a hot hand on my hip, pulling my hips up, reaching for my…

“No!” I screamed, bringing my knees to my chest and wrapping my arms around my head.

Then I felt the rough material of my shirt… I slowly pulled my arms away from my head and opened my eyes.

I sat in a small, dark room with two men staring at me from across a metal table. There were strange looking cuffs on my wrists and my head felt heavy. I stared at the door. I didn’t know if the other side was safe but it was my only chance. I tried to teleport… but nothing happened. More than nothing. It felt like something was missing.

“What’s your name, kid?” One of the men asked.

I continued to stare at the door, trying to teleport. Mother told me to never talk to cops.

They continued to ask questions while I stared quietly. Eventually they gave up, leaving me alone. My head felt strange and uncomfortable and it was all I could focus on in the silence. Until someone else walked in.

I glanced up at the man in the black outfit and bird mask. I looked down at my hands, tugging at the cuffs, wondering if they were why I couldn’t teleport.

“You have quite the track record, kid.”

Don’t talk to cops or heroes…

“You’ve gotten quite talented at it too.” The man laughed, then added, “reminds me of someone.”

Talented? Me? My ears twitched at the thought.

“You have no legal ID’s, no fingerprints, no DNA records except from other crime scenes, CCTV visual identification software have picked up nothing on you before past few months. All we know about you is that you’re a Syndicate chimera. Where did you escape from? A lab…? A fighting ring…? A sex slavery operation…?”

The word sex sent a violent shiver up my spine.

“Nothing to say?” The man asked, putting his hands down on the table.

Does shaking my head count as talking? I decided it didn’t and shook my head.

The man sighed, “You’ll be happy to hear that considering your situation, the DA will offer you a plea deal; Four years probation, most likely at the chimera refuge. If you refuse it, it’s a coin flip. Lockland until you come of age or as you aren’t an American citizen, deportation.” He paused briefly, then continued, “Shame though, you’re talented, you could use those gifts for something better, make something out of you… but clearly, cooperation isn’t in you.” The man started to walk away, slowly.

Better? Like what? What could I possibly be good for besides sex and stealing?

“Wait.” I said, before I could stop myself, looking at the man as he paused without turning around, “Yes?” he asked, not even looking back at me.

“What… is something better?” I asked, a strange, sort of hopeful feeling in my chest.

“Well if you don’t feel like living among other chimeras in a tropical paradise, we could put you to use, send you to Ravenhold in a month’s time, make a hero out of you. Of course that’s provided you plead guilty and accept the plea deal.”

“A hero..” Aaron’s words were stuck in my head, ‘a hero, like I always wanted to be…’ I looked him in the eye when he turned around and nodded.

“Are you saying you’d like that?” I nodded, “I’ll make some calls then. Your court-appointed lawyer will be here within the hour to discuss your options. You should see a judge for your plea hearing by morning.”

He took a step away then paused and looked back, “Before I go, what’s your name, kid?”

I’m not supposed to talk to cops and heroes but what if I could become a hero…? “…Kioshi.”

“I’ll see you at the hearing, Kioshi.”

July 30th- Morning

Once the courtroom cleared and I had plead guilty, the man from the interrogation room, the hero Raven, walked up to me, “You made a good choice, kid.”

I nodded, unsure how else to respond to the odd praise.

“Come with me,” Raven said, pointing to the door with his chin. I nodded and followed him as he led me to the men’s bathroom. He moved quickly, avoiding people. Once we were in the bathroom he pulled out a bag and handed it to me, “Here’s some clothes, get changed.” He entered a stall.

I got dressed quickly in the hoodie and jeans in the bag, still in the open bathroom.

Raven came out of the stall, dressed in business clothes and no mask. “There’s a month before Ravenhold begins, you’ll be staying with me. I thought it’d be better than sending you to Lockland to wait.”

He’s letting me stay in his home? His personal home? “Thank you.”

“I have a car parked out back. Oh, call me Ian.”

I nodded and followed him out of the bathroom and out of the court house. A guard let us out through a back entrance. He headed for a blue SUV. “You’ll get to meet my daughter, my son, and my dog once we get there. It’s a long drive, though, I warn you.”

I nodded, getting into the passenger seat. Ian drove the car out of the parking lot before stopping. He pulled his phone out of his pocket, handing it to me, “Is there anyone you want to call?”

I took the phone but kept it in my lap, staring down at it. I wanna talk to Nana and Aaron but… “You won’t know where it is?” I don’t want to get the Phantoms caught.

“Have you ever heard of the gentleman’s agreement?” He asked, his tone serious.

I shook my head.

“Now, law enforcement doesn’t give a crap, but it’s an unwritten rule of being a cape; don’t kill people, don’t fuck with someone’s civilian identity,” Ian explained. “It goes both ways for villains and heroes, sure not everyone follows it, but those who break the agreement can expect hell to pay. So your friends, until they put on their capes, we’re not touching.”

We don’t wear capes? I didn’t correct him, instead I dialed the Phantom’s house number, hoping someone would pick up…

“Hello?”

“Nana,” I whispered.

“Kioshi?” She asked, I could hear Hikari fussing in the background.

“Yeah…”

“Are you okay? Where are you? How are you calling me?”

“I’m fine, not sure, and the Raven let me borrow his phone.”

There was a pause, the only sound coming through the phone being Hikari’s half cries. Then Nana whispered, “…Oh…” I heard her pull in a deep breath, “Are you coming back?”

I held the phone tighter and pulled my knees up to my chest. “No… I’m going to a place called Ravenhold Academy.”

“I’ll wake Reese up! We’ll find you and come get you!”

“No, no!… I think… I want to go.”

Nana didn’t respond for a while. I waited for her as she hushed Hikari. It was a long time before she spoke again. “We will still come see you, bring you your things… make sure this is what you want.”

Nana hung up before I could say anything in response. I glanced nervously at Ian, worried he’d heard but he kept his eyes on the road and nothing in his expression changed. I put his phone down in the cup holder between us and turned to stare out the window, pulling my knees into my chin.

“We’re here, kid.” I woke up to a somewhat familiar voice.

“Who’s that?” A less familiar voice asked. My head hurt, I didn’t want to open my eyes at all.

“He’s named Kioshi, I’m taking care of him for a few weeks before he’s set to enter Ravenhold.” A hand gripped my shoulder, sending an uncomfortable feeling down my back. I threw his hand off me, pushing away from the door, my seatbelt stopping me from getting too far.

“Hey, it’s just me.” Ian said softly, backing away. “We’re here.”

I glanced around the space behind him. A short girl stood behind him, a large, fluffy dog at her heels. And behind her stretched a large, beautiful, expensive house. I unbuckled the seatbelt and slide out of the car.

“Let’s get you upstairs and settled into the guest room… Charlie, can you get Kioshi something to eat, I’m sure he’s starving.”

“Alright.” The girl answered, uninterested.

I followed Ian through his home, up the stairs, pulling the hood of the hoodie he gave me tighter around my face. Eventually we reached a room with light blue walls and furniture that looked fancier than any I’ve ever seen. “This will be your room, I hope it’s alright?”

It’s too good… Why would he give me such a nice room? The last time I was in a room this nice…

I swallowed down my memories and suspicions and nodded at Ian.

“Alright, one last thing. Can you give me your hands?”

Why? Why? WHY? I held my hands against my chest and shook my head.

“Relax kid, I’m just going to remove those cuffs,” Ian held his hands up.

I slowly held my hands out to him. He removed the cuffs and my head finally felt right again. “There you go.”

“Oh and I know what you’re thinking. You can try to escape, you might even make it back. But once you do that, it’s over. You’re a fugitive, the day you get caught again, if you’re lucky they’ll send you to Lockland to finish your sentence. If not, maybe you’re judged as an adult or they increase your sentence.” His voice wasn’t threatening, just matter-of-fact, “But you stay here and in a few years you walk free, your criminal records are wiped and you can do whatever you want, you can be a hero or retire. Either way, people pay good money to hire Ravenhold graduates, even if it’s just to teleport around, delivering parcels. Just think about it before you make a decision.”

I held my hands against my chest, “Thank you… I won’t run..”

He smiled, “Alright, get some rest kid.”

The short girl entered the room, carrying a menu. “Fridge’s empty. Want to order something?”

Feeling the emptiness in my stomach, I nodded.

July 30th- Evening

When it got dark outside and the house fell silent, I moved through it invisibly, pulling useless decorations that looked expensive into a bag. As many as I could fit, until it was almost too heavy to lift.

Then I teleported out of Ian’s home and into the front driveway, I did a dozen or so small teleportations until I was a couple of miles away.

When I felt that  I was far enough away, I curled up around the bag of goods on the side of the road and waited. After about 20 minutes a pair of headlights blinded me as a car pulled onto the shoulder. Nana fell out of the backseat and ran towards me. I had hardly stood up when she threw her arms around me. I hugged her back as I watched Aaron slowly come out through the passenger door.

When Nana let me go I bent down to pick up the bag and place it in her hands. “I got the jewelry taken from me but that might make up for it.”

Nana hugged the bag to her stomach and leaned forward. “You really aren’t coming back? Are you sure? I don’t trust this.”

Aaron came up beside Nana and frowned down at me, “I agree with her… This seems fishy…”

“I think Ian is a good person…” I focused on Aaron. “If I stay there I have the chance to be a hero… and if I can than you can.”

“You’re going to Ravenhold Academy?” Aaron whispered, his eyebrows pulling together.

I nodded, “You should join me when you can.”

Aaron looked away, “I- I don’t know…”

“If anything bad happens, try and call us. We’ll come get you.” Nana said, still looking worried and unconvinced.

I nodded, “I should get back before they notice.” I gave Nana another hug, the bag smashing between us as she hugged me back with one arm.

“Aaron, can I have a hug?”

I don’t know why I asked, he just looked so confused and far off and it was the only thing I could think of when I saw his face over Nana’s shoulder.

“You know that’s dangerous! My powers-”

I let go of Nana, “That’s only a problem is it’s skin to skin, right?”

“Yeah, but-”

“You won’t hurt me.”

Aaron bit his bottom lip as I pulled away from Nana and wrapped my arms around his waist, laying my head on his chest. After a few strong beats of his heart, he briefly and gently hugged me back. When he let me go he did so carefully. “You should get back.” He turned and walked back to the car, his ears red.

“Please don’t die on me.” Nana muttered, concern in her eyes.

“I promise I won’t.”

I waved at Reese in the driver’s seat as Nana climbed back into the car. I couldn’t see if he waved back.

July 30th- Night

I teleported back into Ian’s home, near to the base of the stairs. Something came towards my face, landing by my feet, “You’ve got guts coming back.” the girl, Charlie, barked.

Startled, I turned invisible. She leapt forward to tackle me and I teleported partly up the steps to avoid her.

“Oh no, you’re not getting away like this!” She leapt for me again, catching my ankles. I fell, my shoulders hitting the stair. But the pain felt strange and muted and I couldn’t feel her hands anymore. I couldn’t feel anything. I couldn’t move I was being held down, I was-

“Charlie, let him go.”

“He stole from us!”

“Charlie, honey, we’re billionaires, a few cluttering trinkets aren’t going to be missed. Come on, let him go.”

Charlie mutters something I can’t hear and then there aren’t any hands on me anymore. My head felt clearer.

“Sorry.” I whispered, not moving but ready to run.

“It’s alright. I hated that ivory Buddha.” Ian said, walking down the stairs to me and holding out his hand. “Come on kid, it’s late, better get you to bed.

I stood up on my own, not taking his hand and started walking towards the guest room.

Once I was back in the guest room Ian asked, “Did you do everything you needed to do?”

Is he mad? Is he not going to let me go to Ravenhold now? Is he going to send me to jail? I nodded.

“This time, I can overlook it. But it can’t happen again. Okay?”

No yelling? No hitting? I nodded again and whispered, “Sorry.”

“It’s alright. Get some sleep. If you need something, come and ask.” The tone of his last word was commanding and I felt myself nodding to his back as he left.

Kioshi Origins 2

January 13th 2016 – Evening

I stared at the piece of paper that had fallen to the floor when I opened Nana and my bedroom door. I recognized a few of the letters but not much more. Aaron came out of the room across the hall, yawning. He smiled and came towards me when he saw me, “Hey, Kioshi! Sleep well?”

I nodded, my mouth dry.

He glanced down at the paper in my hands, “What’s that say?”

I shrugged. I licked my lips in order to p

ush the words through them, “I can’t read…” My cheeks grew hot and I looked away.

“Oh… Can I see it?” he asked. I handed him the paper, not looking up. “Oh! It’s a note from Mother. She wants you and Nana to meet her in the backyard when you wake up.” He handed the paper back to me. I glanced up, accidentally meeting his kind eyes. My ears burned as I turned to go back into my room to wake Nana and get dressed.

When I left the room again, Nana following behind me, Aaron was still waiting. “I want to see what she wants… If that’s okay with you,” he smiled brightly at us. I nodded, looking away and hurrying down the stairs.

Mother greeted us with her hands on her hips when we stepped into the yard. “How long were you planning to sleep?!” Twilight fell around us so she kept her voice quiet but it was still strong enough to shake me. Dead grass crunched beneath my feet. A tall fence surrounded us, blocking the outside from view.

Nana thumped her barefoot, crossing her arms over her chest.

Reese stepped out from behind Mother, grinning arrogantly, “It’s about time the two of you pulled your weight around here.”

“Nana is pregnant!” Aaron’s indignant voice sounded from behind me.

“We won’t make her work when she is closer to her due date,  but we can’t keep taking care of them for free.”

“But-”

“I want to help!” I spoke up, cutting Aaron off. I glanced over to see his look of concern. I repeated, quieter, for him. “I want to help.”

Mother clapped her hands together, “Excellent! Now come closer, let me teach you everything you need to know about the world.

February 23rd 2016 – Morning

“Damn Kioshi! You’re getting better at lockpicking than I am!” Reese laughed, following me into the Phantom’s home. He dropped his arm around my shoulders…

… “Kioshi? You okay?”

I blinked, my eyes refocusing on a gloved hand waving in front of my face.

I glanced around, my head feeling full of cotton. I was sure I had just walked through the front door with Reese but I was in the upstairs lounge with Reese nowhere in sight.

“Kioshi?” Aaron leaned closer, peering into my face, worry in his eyes.

I nodded slowly.

“Okay…” He drew out the last syllable, not looking convinced. He straightened up and glanced away, rubbing the back of his neck, his cheek red. “So uh, a while ago you said you couldn’t read and since you seem to have some free time finally I was wondering if you maybe wanted me to read to you because I was about to sit down and reread my favorite book and-”

I nodded when he paused to take a breath. He grinned, “Alright!”

April 3oth 2016 – Morning

Aaron never took off his gloves. Even as spring settled in and it grew warmer he still kept all his skin except his head covered.

His voice was soft and deep and soothing as he read to me. I curled up in a holey bean bag chair, watching through heavy eyelids as he sat on an old worn armchair, his eyes flicking back and forth across the page. His smooth voice halted. He struggled to turn the page with his gloves on.

“Are you that cold?” I asked.

He looked up at me, “Cold?” his eyebrows knit together. He looked down at his hands for a moment then his eyes widened, “Oh you think-” he laughed nervously, “I guess you would think that. This…” he held his hands up. “… is because of my powers. I suck the life out of everything I touch.” He clenched his fists, his eyebrows coming together and his lips trembling slightly. “I was so excited when I first let out an energy beam, I didn’t even notice that the dog that bit me was dead. I thought it was my chance to be a hero like I always wanted.” He stood up. I winced at the sound of the book in his lap hitting the ground. “But someone who killed his mom when she was bandaging his leg can’t be a hero! Someone who kills anything they touch can’t be a hero!” Aaron began to pace, filling me with his nervous energy. I got up, wanting to do something, anything to help. But I had no idea how to help. “I’m lucky Mother and the Phantoms took me in-” Aaron stopped his pacing and wrapped his arms around his body, “there’s no way anyone else would…” His voice was hollow.

I picked up the book and carefully unbent each page before holding it out to him. “I’m sorry about that I’ll get back to the story,” he said, forcing a smile and reaching for the book. He took the book and collapsed back into the armchair. “Please sit back down, I’ll read some more.”

Instead of curling back up  in my bean bag chair I stood in front of Aaron, taking one of his hands in both of mine and pulling it up to touch the back of his hand to my forehead, “Kioshi, what-”

“I want to help but I don’t know how.” My voice sounded louder than I wanted it to. “Tell me how I can be useful to you.”

Through my grip on his hand, I could feel the tension leave his shoulders. “Oh Kioshi, you don’t have to be useful to me, you’re my friend… but I appreciate it.” He pulled his hand out of mine. When I looked up his head was already down, searching for our spot in the story, “Let’s just get back to reading.”

July 7th 2016 – Afternoon

I covered my ears, my fingernails digging into my temples and my eyes screwed shut. I didn’t want to hear Nana scream or see her writhe in pain.

The baby is coming.

That’s what Mother and Reese kept saying over and over and over again. I didn’t know why that had to hurt Nana. I don’t think I like this baby very much.

I wanted to help but Mother didn’t want us in the room. She ordered us upstairs and for a while I obeyed with Aaron and Reese. But when Nana called out my name I couldn’t sit around anymore. I teleported downstairs and Mother begrudgingly let me give my hand to Nana to squeeze.

I think it hurt…

It took hours before Mother was holding an ugly, squirming, screaming thing. Nana’s hand slipped out of mine, falling onto her chest.

For a few seconds there was something almost like calm.

Then fear filled Mother’s face. She pushed the baby, now wrapped in an old towel into my arms and called loudly, “Reese! Call Mia and tell her Nana’s bleeding a lot!” Then Mother turned to me, “Sit on the couch and watch the baby.”

I did as I was told. I didn’t look at Nana’s pale, sweaty face. Instead I glared down at the ugly thing that caused Nana so much pain. “If she dies,” I whispered to it, “I will kill you.”

Surprisingly, the baby stopped crying when I spoke to it…

I wanted it to start crying again. Without it’s sound the minutes of nothing went by so slowly.

Eventually a woman with brown skin and curly hair arrived to help Nana…

… I awoke to Mother pulling the baby out of my arms. “Nana?” I asked, glancing around.

“She’s in your room… She’ll be fine-” I pushed past Mother, standing up and teleporting back upstairs.

Nana laid in our bed, her face still pale and sweaty but as I got closer I could see that her breathing was even. With a sigh of relief, I slipped into bed next to her. I put a hand on her neck to feel her warmth as I drifted off to sleep.

The Valkyrie’s Daughters: Part X

The Valkyrie’s Daughters

Part X: Overwhelming Friendship

By the time we went home, I had a feeling I had done something wrong. Ike had just gotten quiet and withdrawn, but I couldn’t think of why… They wished me a good night and we went our separate way… I wasn’t tired yet to I went out for flight practice. I was getting better.

After a short night of sleep, I came out of my room still in my pajama. I stretched only for Avery to run up to me.

“Michelle! Hey, I was just wandering and it’s great that you’re here because I’m really bored and… wait, did you just wake up? I’ve been awake for over an hour. I didn’t sleep very well.” They said really quickly. I blinked and they sighed. “My hearing forgot to turn off and everything was loud.”

“I did. That doesn’t sound good, are you going to be okay for class today?” I said, frowning. “I stayed out late yesterday with Ike, then went to practice flying again.”

“I’ll be fine. I remembered to turn off my hearing now and I didn’t even hear you coming! Wait, you went fishing right? How was that?”

“It was so fun, I caught a huge fish and it was sooo good.”

“Ooh, that sounds cool! I don’t really like fish unless it’s breaded. Otherwise it’s slimy. Do you wanna go back to my room and talk for a bit in there before we have to go eat? I don’t wanna talk to new people.”

I took a second or two to process all that that before nodding. “Sure, it’s upstairs?”

“Yeah, follow me.”

I did. “I think I did something wrong with Ike…” I said as we reached the stairs.

“What happened?” They asked, turning to look at me, but just like me, Avery didn’t do eye contact, instead looking at my chin.

“I don’t know, we had a good time and then they just started playing on their tablet and kind of ignoring me… All after I asked them if they wanted to swim with me.”

“Maybe they’re self-conscious about their body? I know I don’t like swimming sometimes if I feel particularly bad about mine. Or they had a bad experience with swimming. You just gotta ask them, even if you’re sure that you messed up.” They sighed. “I had to do that once. I didn’t like it but it happens.”

“Maybe you’re right. I should talk to them later.”

“Yeah. Just don’t force them to tell you or you might push them away.” I nodded and we went up.  “Well, here’s my room. As you can see, it’s just like every other room.”

“Cool. I haven’t been upstairs yet.” I said. I looked around and saw Drew on her bed. I waved at her. “Hey.”

“Oh, look Drew’s back here! What’s up?” Avery said.

“Hey Avery! Hey Michelle!”Drew said, waving back. “Have you been by the kitchen? Watch out, There’s a massive creep in there.”

“Who was it?” I asked frowning.

“I think his name is Nine or something?” She answered, her arms wrapped around her torso. “I’m sure you’ve seen him, he has green hair and horns. Anyway he was being really creepy toward this guy Ryland about his friend, saying how he was ‘delicious’ and other shit. I left before it got physical. I didn’t want to get caught up in a fight.”

“That’s gross.” I said. “And I’m kind of hungry now…”

“I’m kinda hungry too, all I had was some juice.” Drew said. “We still have some cookies left over from last night. Want some?”

“Oh, do we still have oatmeal?” Avery asked. “Michelle, you gotta try them, they’re the best ones we made!”

“Yeah, we saved some just for you because you said they were your favorite.” Drew confirmed.

Right then, Riley appeared out of a portal right next to me. I froze. I hadn’t expected that…

“Good Morning!” They said.

“Riley! While I feel like I should be concerned that you can come and go from rooms whenever, I’m happy you’re here!” Avery said. “Want a hug?”

“I love hugs!” Riley said, Avery welcoming them into their arm.  “You give hugs that are almost as good as Michelle’s!” I blushed at the thought of my hugs being good.

“Hi Riley, want a cookie?” Drew asked.

Riley let go with one arm and picked a cookie from the plastic tub. “Y’all are great! Making biscuits last night was so fun we should make a regular thing of it!” They said, making me wish I’d been there.

With everyone in such a small room, I felt a little overwhelmed.

“Sorry that it’s so busy. I didn’t expect this to happen.” Avery said, coming out of Riley’s arms and coming to me.

“It’s fine, it’s fine.” I repeated, flapping my hands a little, focusing on the moment. “You said you still had cookies? Can I have one?”

“Yeah, here!” Drew held out the box to me. “You’ll probably like the oatmeal ones the best.”

I picked some of the oatmeal ones and popped one into my mouth. It was soft and chewy, just like I prefer them to be. “Those are good.”

“I made them! We have three types, they must be around here somewhere. Except I probably ate all of the chocolate chip oatmeal ones.”

Riley whispered to their shoulder and then sighed. “Sorry can Teddy have a biscuit? I told him they were yours and that he could have mine but he wants to try the oatmeal.”

I handed one of my cookies over to them. They picked it and brought it to their shoulder where it quickly disappeared in a shower of crumbs. I squinted my eyes and a darkish red blur on Riley’s shoulder. Was that Teddy?

“I think I can see Teddy… It’s kind of blurry.” I said.

Avery then came right into my field of view. “Michelle, I found the last chocolate chip one! Want it? I didn’t actually eat them all! I had a stomach ache yesterday after I tried to eat them all.”

I blinked and Drew laughed. “I told you so.”

I looked at Avery and then at the cookie they hand in their hand. It took a second for my brain to process it all and take the cookie. “Oh, thank you.”

“That must mean the wings are magic!” Riley said, bringing my attention back to them.

Wings? Magic? My brain was lagging behind, only remembering what I’d said to Riley about Teddy after a moment. “My sister says they are…” I mumbled. There was so much going on, it was getting really confusing… I popped my necklace into my mouth and started chewing, stimming always helped me focus.

“Sorry if I’m a bit much in the morning.” Riley said, I think to me, but I wasn’t sure of anything at the time. “I know not everyone is completely awake yet at this time.”

I felt the need to explain, people always thought I was weird. “I’m just not used to being with so much people at the same time.” I mumbled or tried to, my octopus still in my mouth.

“Teddy that’s rude!” Riley said out of nowhere.

“What did he say?” I asked.

“Nothing.”

“Okay…” I bit down on the octopus, everything was just getting so incomprehensible.

They continued talking and I lost track of everything. I liked my new friends, but I had a feeling everything was going to be confusing and overwhelming… I was used to only having Lina… Hopefully I’d get used to it soon…

The Valkyrie’s Daughters: Part IX

The Valkyrie’s Daughters

Part IX: Fishing

I came running out of the administration only to see Ike was still waiting near the entrance. Good, I wasn’t too late… They were packed with gear, it was quite impressive. I guess you needed that much gear to go fishing. It looked so complex.

“Ike!” I called, waving at them.

“Hey, ready to check out the beach?” They answered.

“Yeah! Sorry I’m late, Freyja got the costume department to make me some new clothes that fit my wings.” I explained, moving my wings a little, showing them their new mobility.

“Oh, awesome. That must be a relief. I’ve never thought about it but I guess having wings can be a bit inconvenient.”

“I had to cut holes in my old shirt and it’s like a huge gymnastic to get them in or out. I don’t have to do that with these clothes, they’re made with the same stuff they make superhero costumes out of, hyperweave it’s a—” I cut myself off. “I’m infodumping, am I?” I said, laughing nervously. I didn’t want to geek out and be too much of a dork.

“It’s fine, I infodump about history stuff. Kind of a history nerd.” They said with their own laugh, although I doubted they could

“Let’s go?” I proposed, smiling.

“Yup.” Ike said, I took a step only for them to speak again. “Are you going to be okay with the carrying and flying? I don’t want you to push yourself…”

I hadn’t thought about flying, I’d assumed we’d walked. I was kind of surprised they trusted me to carry them.

“Sure.” I said. “Just point me in the right direction.”

They explained the way to me, pointing west of where we were. I then picked them up, which was kind of awkward with all the stuff they were carrying. I took to the air and started flying in that direction, keeping fairly close to the ground to avoid attention and if something happened it was a short drop down…

After going over the wall then some woods, the coast went from rough slope to a small lagoon hidden by tall reefs. Unlike most of the island, there was a legitimate beach with white sand.

“Ooh this place is cool!” I said, letting us lower down to the ground where I let Ike down.

Ike slung their bag off their shoulder and onto the sand. They looked at the sky before speaking up, “looks like it’ll be a clear night so we’ll see the stars easily.”

There was an old ring of stones on the beach with some ashes in it. Clearly we weren’t the first there, but for now it was just the two of us. Ike gathered some wood that had drifted onto the beach and began making a fire. I just stared at them, not quite sure what to do to help.

“How did you find this place?” I asked after a quiet minute.

“Oh, I looked at satellite imaging of the island to get an idea of what was around. I noticed this secluded part of the beach and thought it’d be a good place to go if I ever needed time to myself.”

Secluded was right, the sea side had a reef and there was an incline about a meter or two high with thick bushes on the other sides.

“Coool.” I said. I looked around and removed my shirt. I’d switched to a bikini top earlier. “I love beaches, my parents and I went to Italy a few years ago and it was amazing.” I put it down by Ike’s bag before removing my shoes and letting my feet sink in the sand, enjoying the feeling of thousands of little grains softly brush against my skin.

“Not many people fish on this island, it’s all offshore with boats, so we should be able to get something.” They said as they finished the campfire, small flames starting to erupt on the logs.

“It’s so cool you can cook. I can only make curry.” Cooking was hard, there was so much stuff to know, so much stuff to watch out for, different techniques to master.

“Don’t worry too much about it. Everybody has different strengths.” They went to their bag and grabbed the rod, fiddling with it and doing things I didn’t really get. “So, do you wanna try out fishing? I’ve already put the bait on the hook.”

“Sure.” I came to their side and we went to the shore line. They made a little demonstration on how to cast the line and how to hold it and move it.

It took me a few tries to get it right. I had to be careful, didn’t want to risk mess up, have the rod slip and fly away…

“And now we wait and see if anything bites.” Ike said. They walked back toward the fire.

“How long does that usually take?”

“It varies. I’ve not fished here so I don’t know how long it could t-”

I let out a little scream, I’d felt something tug at the rod, almost panicked and dropped it. I froze then looked toward Ike who had come back. “What do I do?” I asked.

“Slowly real the line in, I’ll grab the net.” They grabbed a net and I reeled it in, very slowly. “Take it carefully, if the fish freaks out too much it could rip itself free.”

It was kind of exciting but scary, I had to be careful and steady. Ike’s encouragement helped me stay focused and not panic. After a long struggle, the fish got closer, started splashing water in the shallow and Ike caught it with the net.

“Nice catch.” They said, showing me the fish.

I grinned. It was big. I think. It was almost as long as an arm. It had gray scales with black lines. “I caught a fish.” I practically screamed in excitement. I couldn’t stop myself from flapping my arms in excitement, only to drop the rod. Ike caught it before it could hit the water.

“Sorry.”

“Close call, but it’s fine.” They said with a laugh.

“What is it?”

“Looks like a striped bass to me. I’ll prepare that, want to try catching another one?”

I nodded. “I won’t drop the rod this time!” I promised, casting the line again after Ike baited it.

This time, it didn’t bite right away. I looked back at Ike and saw them cutting up the fish. “What are you going to make?”

“I’m going to fry the fish in oil with some spices.” They kept their eyes on the fish, removing the fillets. “Got veggies cooking in foil that I just buried in the hot ashes.”

“That sounds good though.”

“Glad you like it.” They said.

There was a quiet moment, nothing was biting and Ike was focused on the food.

“Do you cook on a campfire often? It must be hard, it’s so hot.” I asked.

“I’ve done it once every other month for the past couple of years. I’d spend a lot of my holidays with my uncle when I wasn’t…away for family engagements.”

“What kind of family engagement?”

“Erm, charity balls, fancy brunches. All events to help my parents stay socialites, more my mum. She thrives in that environment. My dad just did it so he could catch up with other tycoons in the business. I was there to be a wallflower and help the family look good. Until I cut my hair. That really pissed off my mum.”

“But why?”

“My mum has outdated notions on what a ‘girl’ should and shouldn’t do. My dad didn’t get angry, but I could tell I disappointed him. My uncle Niels didn’t care though.”

I frowned. “That’s not good… Except for your uncle, he sounds nice.”

“He is, he took an essay I wrote and applied for Ravenhold for me, heh. I’d wanted to come here and mentioned it to him but I wasn’t in a good place with my parents and there was some other stuff. I wasn’t in a good place in my head either. I would’ve never had the courage to apply.”

“I’m sorry… ” I came back toward them.“Can I give you a hug?”

“Sure,” they replied, smiling.

I approached, only to realize I was still holding the fishing rod. I put it down and then gave Ike a hug, wrapping my arms around them, my wings too and holding on tightly. I kept them in my arm for a moment before letting go.

“Your wings are really warm and nice…” They said. “Oh, eh, Dinner’s ready.”

I smelled the air and the food’s scent mixed with the salty breeze of the ocean. “That smells so good.” I said. I grabbed the rod again and reeled the line back and put it down by Ike’s bags. “No luck on fish number two.”

“That’s fine, the first one was plenty enough for the two of us. Striped bass is a tough fish for a newbie too.”

“Maybe I’m gifted.” I joked. “I can fly, I can punch things really hard and I can catch fish!”

Ike laughed. “If we ever get caught on a deserted island, that’ll handy.”

“I’d just fly us away though.”

Ike took out paper plates and put fried fish along with potatoes and chopped corn on the cob they had cooked wrapped in foil. They’d prepared that ahead of time, it was really smart of them.

Ike laid down a blanket and we sat down on it, although I buried my feet in the sand, enjoying the sensation. With a plastic fork I took a piece of fish and put it inside my mouth; it was lemony, and peppery, the fish itself had strong flakes and a rich flavor, not like frozen fish I was used to.

“This is so good!” I said. “You’re amazing.”

“I’m just letting the fish shine with its own taste and freshness, you’re the one who caught it.”

“But I would’ve burnt it, or probably not been able to get it off the bones like you did.”

“I’ve had plenty of practice, you could do it too.”

We kept eating for a moment. The vegetables were great, they’d cut up some spicy sausage and cooked them in its juices.

“What do you think of the school?” I asked. “I think it’s great, even if Rook beat my butt.”

“I love it! The Rook beat all our butts so don’t need to feel bad … Although the fight against Erik was pretty funny. You’d think he would’ve been able to manage at least a few seconds if he’s come to Ravenhold.”

I laughed. Although to be fair we hadn’t well as a group except for one or two of us.

“Want to go swim? I haven’t gone swimming since I got my wings.” I asked once I was done with my portion of our dinner.

“We should probably wait til 30 minutes after eating.” They said with a weird little laugh.

“Isn’t that a myth?” I’d never had any problems before.

“It’s a myth you’ll drown but some people do experience discomfort if they swim immediately after a meal.”

“Oh. I really want to see how my wings take water. They were okay in the shower, but swimming’s different.”

“Okay. I’m not really up for swimming right now. It’s getting late and the water’s gonna be pretty cold. But you’re probably able to handle that knowing your powers,”

“Oh okay…”

I went into the water alone and slightly disappointed. I was expecting my wings to get heavy and take water, but they didn’t. Instead I found them useful to swim ever faster. On the shore, Ike was lost in his tablet…

The Valkyrie’s Daughters: Part VIII

The Valkyrie’s Daughters

Part VIII:  New Duds

Avery and I joined back with the others, who did not say anything about us holding hands, and a few minutes later the bell rang through the cafeteria, announcing the end of lunch break and the beginning of our third classes. Avery seemed to know where we needed to go so I just followed them.

We found ourselves in another classroom but back with Miss Contreras. She explained to us that as we were minor Ravenhold was by law required to provide us with education matching standard school’s standards. Homeroom was a time to work on our math and english, but rather than having the teacher give a lesson, it was all individual on the school provided tablets.

“I hope you don’t mind homeworks, because we do have to compensate for the time lost in the classroom because of your cape related classes.” She said.

She gave us a test to do and when that was done about a million different things showed up for me to do and I had no idea where to start.

“Michelle?” Miss Contreras called, almost like she’d read my mind.

“Yes?”

“Would you mind if we have a word outside?”

I nodded and got up, following her outside of the classroom and into another adjacent empty room. She turned toward me and I looked at her, well at the tip of her nose really. Her luminescence wasn’t so bright it hurt the eyes.

“How are you adapting to Ravenhold?” She asked. “And our cyberschool schooling program?”

“I’m a little loss…” I said, looking further down. “There so much stuff to do.”

“That’s alright, your parents have sent us your IEP, and told us about your difficulties. Normally, we give our student some freedom to work as they please, but seeing your difficulties, I was thinking we could work together your schedule for the next few days. Would that help?”

I nodded and she sat down at a table. Together we went through my tablet and the course options and we made a list of which one to do in what order.

“If you need any help, please come and see me. Outside of classes, I’m at my desk every weekday until six pm.”

I nodded, there was a second of silence before I remembered you’re supposed to thank people. “Thank you.” I mumbled.

“You’re welcome. Shall we go back?”

I nodded again and we went back to class. I sat down and she called Avery next for an interview. With my course procession decided, I was able to sit down and work on it, even if I really hated the math portions of it…

After much struggle with numbers, the class ended. I gathered my things and joined my new friends only for Freyja to come to me.

“Michelle.” She said.

“What do you want?” I asked.

“Well, there’s something I wanted to tell you at lunch, but our conversation veered away.” She said and I frowned. “I talked to the costume people here and got them to hook you up with some clothes that’ll work with your wings.”

I blinked. I hadn’t expected that. “That’s really nice of you.” I said.

“We’re going to need you for fitting, like right now.” She said flatly. “Come with me.”

I nodded and waved at my friends. Avery looked concerned… I think…

Freyja and I went to the administration building, then walked down into a basement and followed a hallway, Freyja seemed to know where she was going so I followed her. We didn’t say a word through the whole way. For a moment there was doubt in my mind, but then we arrived at a room with a ‘Costume workshop’ sign on it. She went in without knocking.  

I’d expected some kind of sewing room like mom had at home, but it was completely different. A huge machine took most of the left hand back side of the room and people were working with computers.

“I’m back with Michelle.” Freyja said.

“Ah, Michelle, welcome.” A tall white woman with salt and pepper hair came toward us. She extended a hand and I hesitantly shook it. “I’m Gardenia Nikolaev, I’m in charge of the costume department for all students and alumni.” She said, a hint of a Russian accent in her voice.

“I’m Michelle.” I blurted out without thinking.

She smiled at that. “Freyja informed us of your clothing situation and we can in fact help you with that. If you’d just step with me inside the fitting room, we’ll take your measurements.”

I nodded and followed her inside some high tech booth, she stayed outside. “Just spread your arms wide and stay still for a moment.”

I did and the booth light up, gizmos moving about with light kind of like a barcode scanner. It went back dark and still after a moment. “We’re done here, now we just need to select some clothes for you.” Gardenia said, opening the door of the booth.

“That was easy.”

“With the volume we handle, technology is essential to save us some time.” She smiled. She made a little hand sign for me to follow and we sat at a computer. “For now, we’ll get you seven items, one for each day of the week. We can make more for you when the start of the year rush is over with.”

“Start of the year rush?”

“We have all the new student’s costume to design. In addition, we offer clothes for paramorphic students who otherwise can’t find any.”

I nodded. “We’ve already worked the right algorithm so just point to me any style you’d like.” Her computer screen started displaying a gallery of different shirts, dresses and other assorted tops. I picked a few I liked.

“Can I ask for something specific?”

“Sure, if we can do it, it’s yours.”

“I really like my Komet shirt, but I can’t wear it anymore.”

She gave me a look, what it meant I had no idea. “Let me see.” She made a search and found some the Komet merch.

“Oh it’s this one!” I said pointing at an orange shirt with the big stylized ‘Komet’ logo where the ‘O’ was replaced by a tailed comet.

“That, we can definitely do.” She smiled. “Now just wait here, we’ll get them printed.”

“Printed?”

She nodded at the big machine in the corner. “It’s a hyperweave fabber.” My eyes widened, Hyperweave was the stuff they made superhero outfits off, it could resist bullets, it cleaned itself, changed shape! And my clothes were made of that? It was super expensive too!

She pressed some keys and the machine came to life, it was kind of loud so I covered my ears. One by one, seven items including a new Comet shirt were popped out by the machine, coming out neatly folded. When it was done Gardenia took the pile and gave it to me. It had a weird chemical smell to it.

“Don’t worry about the smell, it’ll dissipate soon. The clothes are self cleaning and can adapt to be fitted or loose depending on your preference.” She grabbed a little wrist watch thing and fiddled with it. “You can adjust the options with this.” My hands being full, she tied it around my wrist.

“Can I change now?” I asked, looking down at my old worn out shirt.

“Of course.” She guided my back to the fitting booth and I went in. This time it didn’t activate. I took out the Comet shirt and looked at it. It didn’t have holes for my wings… I checked the watch and couldn’t find a ‘wing hole setting’ either. “How can I put it in? There’s no holes for my wings.”

“Just try putting it on like a normal shirt, keep your wings spread and don’t try to fit them inside whole.”

I hesitated but did as she asked. I expected my wing to block once the rim reached my shoulder but there was only a little resistance before the shirt went down, coming all the way to my waist. I looked back and saw little holes had opened in the back of the shirt.

“How did it do that?”

“It’s smart fabric,” Gardenias explained from outside the booth, “It’ll shift to allow your wings to pass through when it detects resistance. We had to whip out the code in a hurry so we’ll send you patches soon, iron out any kink.”

“That’s amazing!” I grinned. It was so cool, much better than my old ones. The new shirt was also so nice; it had a good weight to it and it was so amazingly soft.

“I’m glad to be of service. Now, I hope you don’t mind but we have another client in need of our services.”

“Right.” I grabbed my clothes and came out of the booth, Gardenia giving me a bag to carry them. I left the costume department, Freyja was just gone, which was okay. I didn’t really want to talk to her after what had happened…

Then my phone beeped. I opened it and saw a notification I’d set for myself.

Meet Ike @ admin building.

Crap! I’d forgotten about that. I rushed out of the building, hopefully I wasn’t too late.

The Valkyrie’s Daughters: Part VII

The Valkyrie’s Daughters

Part VII:  Family Duty

After we got our desserts and sat back down, Freyja came up to us.

“There you are.” She said. “I gotta talk to you. Alone.”

“Oh sure.”

I waved a goodbye at the others and followed Freyja a little further away, standing in an empty spot by the walls.

“What is it?” I asked.

Well, for one I’m glad you’re making friends with chicks.” She answered, switching to our native German.

I think Riley and Avery are non-binary, actually.

Whatever,” she swished her hand dismissively, “what matters is you can get one of them pregger.

I frowned. “Stop it with that… It’s not funny.

I’m not joking, Michelle. I’m not gonna stop, if you die, mom’s legacy is probably gone. I won’t allow that to happen. Beside, it’s not like it’ll be hard for you, just stick it in a girl and you’re done.

I’m leaving.” I mumbled, I turned back only for Freyja to grab my arm.

If you don’t care about the legacy, then why don’t you give over the powers?” She said, a frustrated noise coming out of her mouth.

How? Can that even be done?

Grandma’s sister was the one who inherited the powers but she renounced and it jumped over to Grandma inherited instead, so I know it’s possible.”

My thoughts jumbled for a moment, trying to think about what would happen. “I won’t abandon this.” I said.

Thanks to the powers, I had friends, I had a purpose. I couldn’t throw that away. It had chosen me, not her and there had to be a reason for that.

You are so fucking selfish you know that? You have no fucking clue about all the sacrifices I’ve made for mom, for you, for this fucking legacy! All you care about is that you get to be a like your idol, is that it?” People were definitely staring at us now.

That’s not true… Why do you care so much it happens now? It’s not like I’m in danger now.

Maybe I was selfish, true, she’d trained all her life and I had been freed, but there was nothing I wanted more than to live up to Valkyra’s legacy, she had been my hero and idol…

Because mom’s legacy the only fucking thing I have left.” She mumbled those words. “I can’t live with the idea it might be lost and that I can’t do a fucking thing about it…

I’m sorry.” I tried to reach out for her, but she pushed me away.

I don’t want your damn pity. Just do your part for the family duty… Do it for mom.” Her voice was breaking, like she was about to cry.

Having said her piece, she walked away, all tense, while I just stood there. I wanted to help her, but how could I? The idea of doing what she wanted just felt wrong, they were my friends, I couldn’t just use them…

It was then that Avery found me. “Michelle, hey. What happened?” She asked.

“I don’t know… Freyja’s just so hard to deal with…”

“I’m sorry. Do you wanna talk about it?”

Should I tell her? Was it weird to talk about how Freyja wanted me to make someone pregnant… But then we were supposed to be friends, you’re supposed to trust your friends, right?

“She thinks I don’t take being Valkyra seriously…” I mumbled. “And that I’m selfish for not giving up the powers to her.”

“That’s crazy. You just got them, you can’t be expected to master them and start saving the world after this small amount of time.” They smiled and I had smile back.

“She wants me to have a baby.” I finally admitted.

“You’re not very old though.” They blurped out. “That came out wrong. You’re not an adult yet. Most people wait til they’re adults and can support one financially. Do you even want a baby? Like, I think it’s important to get the legacy to continue if I remember correctly, but still, do you want one?”

They were a little rambling, maybe they were flustered by the idea? I wished I could tell…

“I don’t know… But she says I need to have an heir for when I die so she inherit the power.” I sighed. “That’d be easier if I was a cis girl…”

Despite what Freyja thought, if I had been cis it would just be a question of getting pregnant, getting someone else to agree to carry a baby was so much more complicated… And the thought of not being able to do it myself resurrected that icky feeling I’d been plagued by my whole life… The thought I wasn’t really a girl, that Wycked and her ilk were right…

“That’s a fair point, but she shouldn’t be pushing you. I’m sorry she’s not being nice.”

“I was hoping I’d get a sister, but I don’t think it’s happening…” I mumbled. Thank you for being so nice.”

My body felt so gross at that moment, I wanted to hide.

“Can I have a hug?” I begged.

“Yeah!”

They pulled me closer and held onto me tightly. I did the same, with both my arms and wings. They smelled nice… Their natural scent wasn’t covered, just accented by the smell of unscented soap…

Everything felt so exhausting, I wanted to go back home and hide, collapse in my bed. I would have right then if Avery didn’t hold me… I was tired and felt so disgusted at my own body…

“Michelle, your thoughts are loud.” Avery said, still holding me. “This hasn’t happened before. But that doesn’t matter, because you’re upset I think. Wanna talk about it?”

“Sorry… I don’t mean to bother you… It’s just all this talk of babies and things make me aware of my body and how wrong it is…”

“I wish you didn’t have to feel like that. It’s stupid and bad.”

They hugged me even tighter and I just leaned against them, enjoying their presence. They were no nice… Cute too… Maybe they could be— I stopped myself, what was I thinking? Were they still reading my mind? Had they caught my dirty thought?

I focused on elephants. Repeating the words over and over.

“You feeling better?” Avery asked.

I nodded and let go. They were looking at my and my skin turned burning hot. “Let’s go back?” I proposed, muttering the words. I tried to look further from their gaze, my eyes going down. I saw their hand and had an idea… I didn’t think before saying it out loud.

“Can I hold your hand?” I asked.

They looked toward me for a moment before nodding shyly. I brought my hand closer to them and theirs brushed against mine for a moment, our fingers lacing together. They held on tightly, it felt so nice…

“Let’s go back now.” I said, a smile breaking through.