13: Tangent

A/N: a short chapter which kind of went in a different direction than I thought it would. Hope you enjoy. PS, Caution’s throwing the F shot around like nobody’s business in this one, so if you’re easily offended, consider yourself warned. Happy reading 🙂

“But he has to,” Caution said as she ran to match Creep’s stride. “He absolutely has to.”
“He may not,” Creep said flatly.
“Creep, hold up a sec,” Caution said, grabbing his wrist. “I’ll go with you.”
Mr. Creep looked like he might object, but they were interrupted by a soldier of the imperial guard nearly walking into them.
“Many pardons to you, trollop,” the soldier said with a smile and a bow.
Another soldier, standing near the first, turned to Caution quickly. “Pardon him, m’lady. He’s drunk, but a loyal soldier to M’leo and the King.” He turned to his friend. “That is the future Queen you are speaking to.”
Caution looked to the second soldier, then back to the first. A number of things were going through her mind, not the least of which was: why are they speaking English?
“Oh yes,” the first laughed. “The future Queen. Do not worry. She speaks not one word of M’leoian.” He turned to Caution. “Do you, whore?” He turned back to his friend. “What does she mean, wandering about in a night dress?”
“She’s ignorant of our ways,” the more understanding soldier reasoned. “It is not a fault in her.”
“Don’t pretend you respect her. See how she holds tight to her Chonti dog. She’s worse than a common whore.”
Caution realized a few things, in no particular order—perhaps all at once: They weren’t speaking English, her necklace was translating; she and Creep had stopped walking when the first soldier approached them and they probably should be going; if she could understand them, they would be able to understand her; and her hand had slid from Creep’s wrist and was now resting comfortably in his.
“What? Do you think he will tell her what I said?” the first soldier was saying. “I could kill him here and now and face nothing more than a harsh word. I can do anything I like to him. I can—”
“You can shut the hell up,” Caution finished for him. “That’s what you can do.” She could tell by the looks on the faces of everyone near by that they were hearing her in perfect M’leoian. “Now, I can put up with being called a trollop or a harlot or a whore. I can understand how a society as ridiculously sexually repressed as yours would have issues with a woman showing the lower half of her legs in public.”
“M’lady,” the second soldier said. “Let me apologize, for myself and my friend.”
“Dude, if he’s sorry, he can say so. In the meantime, don’t interrupt me.” Caution looked squarely at the first soldier and tried to ignore the crowd she was attracting. “I can put up with a lot of shit, and frankly, your opinion doesn’t really matter to me anyway, so I don’t really care if you think I’d be a bad Queen—but if you threaten Creep again, you’re going to have a lot worse than that stick up your ass to deal with.” She paused for good measure, then added, “I’ll see to that personally.”
The first guard stood perfectly still, with his mouth hanging open while the second got tongue-tied trying to apologize.
“Come on, Creep,” Caution said, walking past Creep and pulling his hand. “Let’s get out of here.”
Creep followed, without a word. The crowds of soldiers parted for them after that. Some of the guard even bowed their heads as Caution passed. She had to smile at that. Even back home, she had never commanded that kind of attention.
As they got closer to the castle Caution let go of Creep’s hand, settling instead for linking arms with him. “So,” she said after a while, “After all this is over—the prophecy, the war, whatever—after all that, why don’t you come back with me?”
“Caution—”
“No, really, Creep. I’m serious. I mean, I’m not saying it would be an easy adjustment, but it’s got to be better than being here. These people are all insane. At least back home no one’s going to threaten to kill you because they don’t like the way you look. I mean, some places they will, but nowhere you’d need to go.”
“Caution, I—”
“Plus, you’d have me around to show you the ropes. You already speak the language. Money wouldn’t be a problem, obviously, but if you want something to keep you busy, I’m sure I can get you a job no problem.”
“You cannot.”
“Can too,” Caution laughed. “I could even hire you as my personal body guard. I mean, it’s not like you don’t have experience.”
“You cannot go home.”
“Well, no, not yet—”
“Not ever.”
Caution could feel the colour drain from her cheeks. She let go of Creep’s arm and took a step back. “What are you talking about? Why the hell not?”
“They would not understand.”
“What? Where I’ve been? I’ll pretend I have amnesia or something. It doesn’t matter; they’ll just be glad I’m alive.”
“They will not believe it,” Creep said gravely.
“Creep,” Caution said slowly. “One more time. What are you talking about?”
“Do you recall the walk we took after the Abiku attacked you? You tried to return to the site of—”
“Yeah?”
“Do you remember what I told you?”
“You said they wouldn’t pin it on me.”
“I promised.”
“Yeah. You did. I don’t get how—”
“I performed a spell. Your police will have found six bodies. Five men and…”
“And what, Creep?”
Creep looked at the ground for a moment, as if showing emotion twice in one day was too much for him.
“And what?” Caution repeated.
“And you.”
Caution let out a short, choked laugh and covered her mouth. “No. I mean, you didn’t—I mean you wouldn’t—” For a moment, she was sure she’d be sick. Except she was too angry to be sick. “They think I’m dead?”
“I did what I had to to protect you.”
“They think I’m dead? My parents, Marylin. They all think I’m dead?”
“They do.”
“Are you out of your mind?”
Caution wasn’t aware that half the imperial guard was staring at her, but if she had been, she wouldn’t have cared.
“Seriously, are you out of you fucking mind?”
Creep didn’t answer.
“It’s not bad enough you’ve been lurking around my house since I was a kid, that your messed up vampire cousins came gunning for me, that you dragged me here to be queen of the most useless intolerant little armpit of a country anyone could imagine, to fight a war for people who hate me, wear stupid clothes and risk my life—all that’s not bad enough, you have to destroy any chance I ever had of going home?”
“Caution, I—”
“So all this time I was going nuts, thinking they were worried about me—thinking about how horrible it was that I haven’t even tried to contact them—all this time. I trusted you. And you said nothing?”
“I did not want to upset you.”
Oh, you didn’t want to upset me? Well, that makes it alright then, doesn’t it? As long as you didn’t mean to upset me, I forgive you for making my friends and family think I’m dead! I forgive you for destroying my whole damn life!”
“I am sorry, Caution.”
“Well that’s not good enough!” Caution shrieked. “It’s not fucking good enough!” She shoved Creep hard in the chest. “To think that I thought—that I—I would have been better off saying yes to Andy. At least then, I might have something remotely worthwhile to do with my time—I mean, if I’m going to be stuck here for the rest of my damn life.”
Caution started to walk away. This time, it was Creep who had to speed-walk to catch up.
“Where are you going?” he asked, in his infuriating monotone.
“Where do you think?”

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