Chapter Eight

“What do you think?” Septi asked Ferinequell, searching his face anxiously. She had just told him her idea, and she had a feeling that he’d nix it.   “I think that while it is doable, we oughtn’t.” Septi’s face fell.

   “Why?” she demanded, thoughtfully.
   “Isn’t it a tad… gruesome?”
   “Are you afraid of the bodies?”
   “Not afraid. I just want to be respectful.”
   “Respectful?” Septi echoed.
   “Yes. They were real people. We should give them the dignity of a proper burial, at the very least.”
   “But there are no real solutions as to how we’ll do that,” Septi pointed out bluntly.
   “I’ve been doing some research, and when Lord Victor bought this land eight-teen years ago, he paid for it free and clear. So this land does belong to us.”
   “Yes, and-?”
   “We could bury them on the land. There’s a rather nice spot a distance away from the building that would work.”
   “Yes, but if somewhere along the line we want to move the hideout, we couldn’t exactly sell it.”
   “We could sell the building but not the burial grounds,” he countered. “You’re not planning on moving the VI4C any time soon, are you?”
   “No, I’m not. But you never know what might happen.”
   “But if we pay too much attention to the ‘might’s, the ones that most likely won’t happen, we lose sight of the definate.”
   “And what is definate?” Septi asked, her face and voice remaining smooth, untouched by the emotion that was rampaging just beneath the surface. Her eyes, however, did show the emotions. Pain, exhaustion, and a silent question appeared in them.
   “Nothing really on this earth. the past, I suppose, technically is set permenantly. And our future is the same, though we don’t know it, and we have our choices. I suppose we will all die eventually.”
   “Death,” Septi spat the word out like a bullet. “Yes, it is certain.” Ferinequell, obviously sensing Septi’s tension, cleared his throat and spoke again.
   “I contacted Miss Evens earlier today. She said that she was a nurse, not a doctor, and that she no longer lives in the area, so she doesn’t know of any safe doctors.” There was an odd, almost reminiscent look on Ferinequell’s face, and Septi stared at him curiously.
   “You knew her?” she asked curiously. Ferinequell gave a start and started to blush.
   “Ah- well, yes, I did, many, many, many years ago,” he stammered.
   “You liked her or something?” Septi prodded, surprised by his reaction.
   “No, not her,” he said, a partly guilty, partly closed look appearing on his face.
   “Who then? And when was this even?” A naughty glint ppeared in Septi’s eyes, and a slight smile played on her lips.
   “Ah, I guess it must have been nine years ago, or so.”
   “Nine? That’s not many, many many years ago!” Septi teased, her smile growing wider. “You would have been what, twenty?”
   “Yes,” he said, sighing slightly.
   “So, who was she?” Septi asked, smiling coyly at him.
   “Sarah,” he said reluctantly.
   “How old was she?”
   “Enough younger than I that my feelings didn’t matter. She died shortly after that anyways.”
   “Oh.” Septi looked slightly abashed about the situation she managed to get herself into.
   “Don’t worry,” he said, glancing at her and seeing the slight blush that was coloring her face. “It’s been a long time, and I was young and stupid.”
   “Was she a mutant?” Septi asked hesitantly, and he nodded slightly, closing his eyes.
   “You know, there are times when I wonder what she’d be like now if she hadn’t died,” he said quietly. “Her friend, Guin, has changed a bit over the years. Talking to her showed me that. Death does funny things to the people left behind. Have you ever noticed that, Septi?” Septi hesitated for a second, thinking.
   “Yeah,” she said, tilting her head thoughtfully. “It makes us see just how mortal we are. Especially when you see a younger person die.”
   “So you do know that,” Ferinequell said while staring at her, equally as thoughtful. Septi flashed him a startled glance. “You act as though the whole world belongs to you, and like you think that you’re immortal.” Septi laughed slightly.
   “I act like a great many things, Chuck,” she said scornfully. “But none of it is really who I am.”
   “Then who are you?” He asked. Septi looked down at the floor. An intense silence fell in the room.
   “I don’t know,” Septi said finally. “I do know that it isn’t the person called Renee any longer, but that she’s a character of the past, now.”
   “Yes, you did tell me that last night,” he said. “I don’t know for sure, but I think that is something we all go through at some point in our lifes. Identity loss.”
   “I think I may just have this worse than the rest,” she said, still staring at the floor. “I mean, I have this power that makes it possible for me to be anyone that I want to be. And yet-” she paused, unsure of herself. “-it’s been this way since I moved to America. I’ve not been entirely sure…” her voice trailed off, and Ferinequell nodded.
   “You’re not the only one searching. I just wish I knew what to tell you. I mean, you have certain likes and dislikes, and your own particular style, but that’s not what makes a person, I don’t think.”
   “There’s gotta be more,” Septi said, staring up at him suddenly. He nodded in agreement.
   “I have to agree with that conclusion. It’s all so meaningless- pointless- otherwise,” he glanced down at his watch and sighed. “I need to get searching if we’re to find a doctor.” Septi nodded and got to her feet.
   “Does anyone outside of the organization know about the fight?” she asked him. Ferinequell shook his head. “Good. Let’s keep it that way.” He nodded, then walked out of the room.
   Septi sat back down, and started to massage her temples, thinking of all the work she had to do. There was going through Steppe’s paperwork, and cleaning up the building, then she also had a handful of personal things to do as well- calling the college, moving her stuff from her mom’s to the hideout, catching up with Nito, and maybe making up with Jade.
   Then she stood again and left the room. Walking to the office, she hestiated at the door, then opened it. The smell hit her like a wave and she pulled back, choking and coughing. She slammed the door shut and started trying to get rid of the smell, which was still in her noce.
   “I think i’ll wait on doing the paperwork,” she said to herself quietly, leaning against the wall. “At leaast untill the bodies are removed.” She straightened up and turned to walk down the hall, toward the cleaning closet.
    ‘Blood; on the walls and carpet. We’ll have to replace the carpet before we do anything with this place. The white walls might need to be repainted. I wonder if there are any gashes in the walls?’ she thought, digging through the cleaning supplies. ‘The carpeting in Steppe’s office- my office- will have to be removed, definately. Blood and who-knows-what-else will have stained it beyond repair.’ She pulled out some cleaning solution and a sponge.
   She was halfway down the hall when someone called her name. She gave a slight start and spun around. Raram was rushing up to her, wearing bleached and frayed jeans and a paint splatter sweatshirt.
   “Septi! Thank goodness I caught you,” Raram panted. “Ferinequell’s having the bodies in your office moved, sent to the morgue. Val’s got the windows opened in there, and Mes and I and the rest are working on cleaning the rest. The top two floors are fine, ‘cus no fighting took place up there. We’re working on the first floor and the ground floor, and Mes said to find you and see if you could help.”
   “Okay, well, I was on my way to do so,” Septi said, motioning to the stuff she had in her hands with a tilt of her head. “What wing?”
   “East wing, and the central parts of the building,” Raram rattled off. “It really doesn’t seem possible that just last night we were fighting. Or that you’re the commander.” She glanced at Septi, a wicked smile playing on her lips. Septi vaguely wondered what Raram was plotting.
   “Yeah,” Septi sighed. “I guess the hardest part is getting used to the title. I’d been doing the work since Angel and Danae died last summer, so there’s not that much of a difference in the work load.”
   “Hey, since you’re the commander,” Raram began.
   “Oh, no,” Septi murmured. “What do you want?”
   “To be able to have the easy chores,” Raram said, her voice very matter-of-fact. Her face, however, was mischevious. Septi sighed again and rolled her eyes.
   “And why should I do that?” she asked, a tone in her voice somewhat deadly.
   “Because I’m your friend, and you just love me that much?” Raram said, her tone somewhat hopeful. Septi laughed dryly.
   “Yeah, and it doesn’t mean that I have to favor you,” Septi said, smiling and relaxed. “Besides, if I favor you, then what’ll Mes do? She’ll want the easy jobs as well.”
   “You don’t have to give her the easy jobs!”
   “I don’t have to give them to you either. My answer is no. Though I still love you.”
   “Yeah, right,” Raram grumbled. Then she shrugged her frown off. “Oh well, I was expecting that.”
   “You should have known. You know me so well, or so you think,” Septi said, smiling charmingly. Raram laughed, and rubbed her arm self-conciously.
   “You’re so different from how you were last night. What happened to you, girl?” Raram asked. Septi bit her lip, obviously thinking.
   “Well, I’m cleaner and more comfortable. But mood wise, I’m not sure. I s’pose that Oracle’s death kinda… woke me up, shall we say. I do know that I was tired, hurt, and irritated. I was angry over the whole loss-of-possition thing. It was like I lost part of me, y’know? Maybe you wouldn’t know…. I sure didn’t till it had happened to me.” Raram shrugged non-commitally. Septi sighed. “I don’t know. I just know that I was overwhelmed. Maybe I’m PMSing?” Raram couldn’t keep a straight face. She laughed loudly and happily.
   “I don’t care what it was, Septi,” Raram said finally, still giggeling. “But I’m glad you’re back.”
   “Me too,” Septi agreed, gently nudging Raram with her elbow. “So, when we get the hideout cleaned, do you and Mes want to go to the mall in exchange for helping me move my stuff from my mom’s place to here?”
   “I can’t answer for Mes, but I’d totally love to go to the mall!” Raram responded enthusiastically.
   “That’s what I thought,” Septi said grinning.
   “And we, Mes and I,  are now legally old enough to drive! We’ve gotten our learners permits and… hey, you’re eight-teen.” Raram’s stream of chatter ceased suddenly, a sly look on her face. Septi groaned slightly as she figured out what Rara was thinking.
   “No, you may not drive my car!” She exclained. “I forbid you from trying it!”
   “Forbid me as Septi, mi amici, or forbid me as Septi, the commander?”
   “Both! Neither!” Septi paused. “I mean, I forbid you as Septi your friend, and if you won’t listen to me as your friend, then I forbid you as your commander. But I really, mainly, forbid you from driving my car as Septi, the owner of said car.”
   “That’s a lot of Septis,” Raram said, her voice mild. “Kinda overwhelming if you ask me. I mean, one Septi is enough, but-“
   “I am all of them!” Septi st her off. “It’s not like each individual aspect of me has it’s own body, and is running around.” Raram’s eyes widened.
   “That would be terrifying,” Raram said in a hushed voice. “I wonder what would happen if one Septi got mad at the other Septi?”
   “War?” Septi suggested. Raram started to laugh again.
   “That would be EPIC.”
   “Yeah it would be,” Septi said. Just then, Mes’s voice drifted over to them.
   “Stupid blood stains!” she was yelling. “Come up already!” Septi flinched slightly.
   “Should someone tell her that hypnotysing inanimate objects is impossible?” Septi asked Raram under her breath. Raram shook her head.
   “Nah. She scrubs better when she’s trying to hypnotise it and it doesn’t work. ‘Course she’ll be completely and totally exhausted when she’s done, but that’s a small price to pay.” Septi smiled slightly.
   “Hey, Mes, want reinforcements?” Septi asked, rounding the corner.
   “That… would… be… nice…” Mes panted, glaring at a rather large, but obviously faded, hot pink splotch on the wall.
“Wow. Who the hey has blood that color?” Raram asked, sounding seriously impressed.
   “I don’t know, and I don’t care!” Mes sed, rinsing her sponge out in the bucket sitting beside her. “I just want it to come off!”
   “That would be nice,” Septi agreed, staring at the stain. “C’est gross et magnifique (It’s huge and magnificent).”
   “I disagree,” Mes said, correctl guessing at part of what Septi said. “It isn’t magnificent in any way, shape, or form.”
   “Though you won’t deny that it is gross,” Raram countered. “The amount of blood it would take to make a stain that size-!” Mes shuddered.
   “Don’t!” she protested. “It’s bad enough that I have to scrub it off! Don’t remind me of it’s origins!”
   “Calm down you two,” Septi said,calmly. “We mustn’t fight.” Mes and Raram exchanged a glance, rolling their eyes. Suddenly Septi felt like an outsider. “What?” she asked, trying to cover the awkward moment.
   “Nothing,” Raram said, biting her lip. “What’s up, Septi?”
   “Nothing,” Septi lied smoothly, her face void of emotion and almost mask like. ‘Calm down, Septi,’ she thought. ‘You’re probably just imagining things.’ But dep down, she knew that she wasn’t. ‘Things have changed since Steppe locked me up.’ Mes and Raram were both looking at her like she’d grown a second head, and she set down the cleaning supplies that she was still holding onto.
   “Septi, you okay?” Raram asked. “‘Cus you sure don’t look it.”
   “I’m fine,” Septi insisted, her voice sharp as she battled tears. ‘Cut the mellow-drama crap,’ she thought, angry at herself. ‘You’re obviously hormonal. But you can’t cry, Septi. you can’t.’ “Let’s get to work on this stain.” Mes and Raram nodded, each taking a sponge from Mes’s bucket. Septi got set up beside them, feeling like she was so close, and yet so far.
   Apparently Mes and Raram were on a Lord of the Rings kick, because that was all they talked about. Septi, who had read the books and seen the movies, had no idea what they were talking about. She sat there scrubbing and listening, feeling an invisible wall go up between her and the other two. Occasionally she tried to get in on the conversation, but she found the entire subject drab and pointless. Especially when they began to fight about “Figwit”.
   “I mean, Figwit is so cute! He should have had more than his whole five seconds,” Raram said, sounding every inch an excited fangirl.
   “Fig-what? Okay, so what are you guys talking about?” Septi asked, feeling stupid after the look that Mesmer and Raram gave her, and already regretting asking.
   “Figwit. He’s in the Council of Elrond scene,” Mes began to explain.
   “He appears right when you’re sposed to be thinking ‘Frodo-Is-Great’, but then you see him, and you’re thinking ‘Frodo-Is-Great-Who-Is-That?’. Hence the name Figwit,” Raram said, cutting Mes off. Septi bit her lip hard, trying not to roll her eyes. “The reason he catches your attention, though, is ‘cus he’s such a hot elf, even though you only see him for, like, five seconds. He’s in the chair next to Aragorn, and you know that you shouldn’t be looking at him, ‘cus he’s not the big deal.” ‘What geek came up with this nonsense?’ Septi thought, nodding slightly and scrubbing.
   “How many times must I tell you that he’s cute, but not hot?” Mes retorted hotly.
   “How ever many times you want to. I’m not gonna change my mind.”
   “Yeah, right. What say I change it for you?” Mes asked, a dangerous tone in her voice.
   “No, you will not. You’re forbidden from using your power on other team members,” Septi said absentmindedly. Mes made a face at her then glared at Raram, who smirked back.
   “You gotta listen to your commander, Mes,” she said, tauntingly. Mes’s glare deepened, and her hand tightened around her sponge. Septi sighed.
   “Do I have to seperate you two?” she asked, feeling very tired emotionally.
   “No, Septi,” Mes said patronizingly. Septi rolled her eyes, and Raram sighed.
   “Guys, what’s up? Honestly, you’re both tense!”
   “Nothing!” Septi snapped, knowing that she was proving Raram’s point.
   “I’ve only been scrubbing a wall for the last three hours, I would expect to have tensed up,” Mes said sarcastically. Septi averted her eyes, staring at the patch on the wall that she was wokring on. ‘Playing stupid games like that?’ Septi thought. ‘I never would have expected it of Mes.’
   “Mes, that’s not what I meant, and you know it!” Raram reprimanded Mes. “And Septi, you stink at lying.” Septi sighed, and rested her head on her damp hand.
   “Whatever,” she said quietly. “It’s not that important.”
   “It obviously is to you,” Raram said persistantly. “Septi, what is it?”
   “It’s nothing,” Septi said insistently. ‘It wouldn’t be fair to unload on them,’ she reasoned. Mes stared at her for a couple of seconds, somewhat questioningly, then she glanced back to the stain, which was now half of it’s original size. ‘Besides, what they don’t know won’t hurt them.’
   “Alright, fine,” Raram said, holding up her hands in a submissive gesture. “Be like that. But there is something wrong, whether you’ll admit it or not.” Septi snorted slightly, and Raram gave herok. “Look, Septi, I don’t know what your problem is, but you’re acting like a- an… an… I don’t know what!”
   ‘I was locked up for ages, being tortured and starved and generally mistreated, and in that ime you two have grown all chummy and life has been wonderful to you, and so on and so on, and you expect me to be like I was? Act like nothing ever happened? I can’t forget the turture. I can’t.’ Septi thought, her temper flaring. She bit her lip to keep from lashing out at Raram, though.
   “I’ve changed,” was all she said aloud, scrubbing at the stain vigerously. Mes and Raram exchanged looks again, then they too returned to scrubbing.c

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