Carmilla sat at the edge of the circle and watched as the ceremony progressed. The voluval of several friend and corp mates, an addition to the tribe. It should have been a joyous occasion for her, but the events of the evening had proven less so. A darkness filled her, a dread that she couldn't name. And it scared her.
She watched Rek and Aphox as they prepared, taking a casual interest in both, but her mind on other things. Reaching around she touched her own voluval and sighed and leant against Orchid.
"I wish I could be happier, but my head is still swimming with the drink and my heart torn."
Orchid, her sebiestor guardian slipped her arm around her and smiled as she squeezed her.
"Do not worry, it is important that you turned up. And you knew before that you were dead to her."
"Yes, but it's one thing to hear it from others, it's something different to hear it from her lips."
They watched as Ava performed the voluvals, heard the names of their marks and saw the joyful look on their faces. Now they were complete. With sad eyes she looked over at Kikia, her heart leaping. If only she was there when she awoke. Then she wouldn't have needed to drown her sorrows. Then she wouldn't have run into Ithiria.
By the spirits, even after all this time her head still spun when she thought of her. If Alizabeth wasn't there, who knows what would have happened. But then Aliza was always good at keeping a sensible head on her shoulders. And she couldn't count how many times she had needed to ask her advice when others had not been available. Maybe it was her choice of drinking establishment. The Ivory Tower. Of all the places to end up.
"Take me home Orchid. Please, just take me home."
Carmilla openly wept as Orchid supported her and walked towards the landing platforms. Putting her into the shuttle and strapping her in she pulled a small hypo from a pouch on her hip and pressed it against Carmilla's neck. She watched as her eyes shut and she drifted into a sleep and then locked the shuttle and walked back.
She found them all, now drinking and celebrating and walked over to Rek and Aphoxema, bowing towards them both.
"If I may, Rek, Aphoxema, I hope you will not take offence to... Carmilla's absence. She has had a trying day and is in need of rest."
"Is she allright?" Aphox looked at the little sebbie with concern.
Orchid looked between them at Kikia and smiled softly
"She is lonely. And Kikia has been busy with affairs of late, it's taxing to her. For one such as she to put all her love on one person, well, she goes a little melancholy. It rings of past endevours and she gets restless. Luckily we are there to keep her straight, and the others who know and care for her."
"Where are you taking her?"
Rek turned and looked at Kikia and Ava both deep in conversation.
"Home. Our... home."
"To the Geisha House?"
"Yes. I am not sure how she will react if she wakes up alone again. I don't want to risk it in the state she's in. She's also not been sleeping well."
"I wonder... Maeve...."
"Yes. That's the name she calls out in her sleep."
"Leave it with us Orchid. One of us will talk to her tomorrow, probably me."
"Rek, take care of her. She needs someone to be there. Someone strong or she will revert to type."
"I know. That's why I'm worried. Where was she earlier?"
"The last ones I know of were the Tempest Gardens, the Last Gate, and the Ivory Tower."
Rek shook his head at the mention of the last.
"I'll have words with her. Go, look after her and bring her to me tomorrow. You'll know when."
The little sebbiestor bowed again and scurryed away as Kikia walked over.
"Was that Carm? She looks different."
"No, was Orchid, one of her girls."
"Where is she? I wanted to see her."
"She's gone. Kiki, we need to talk about Carm."
Rek watched as the shuttle took off and departed. Then he smiled and laughed. She could wait til tomorrow, tonight was his night, his and Aphox's. Tonight he was a man! And he would celebrate as was custom!
Carmilla awoke the next morning pressed in between her two girls. She looked up at the glass ceiling and saw the three of them together, like sisters.Sighing happily she closed her eyes and let her mind wander.
Maeve sat on the end of the pier and she sat down next to her. Looking over at Maeve she smiled and pulled her close and just held her.
"You dont have to say it Maeve, I know."
"She does love you. Shes just distracted. If you are not there when she awakes though, she may be as you were yesterday. Go to her."
"Right away.... "
She leaned over and kissed Maeve and opened her eyes, sitting up and slapping both of her girls on their rumps
"Come on, we're in teh wrong place. My kikia isn't here!"
Kikia awoke slowly to the feeling of bodies all around her. To her left and her right and slumped across her legs were three almost identical sebeistor women, all with red hair, yet only one covered with snake and dragon tattoos. Carmilla! She looked left and right and nodded. And her girls. She smiled and entwined her fingers in carm's hair and laid her hand on her stomach. Sometimes it was easy to forget someone who was so necessary to her, but the tribe comes first. Carm moved slightly and moaned in her sleep and she smiled wider. No, she'd never forget Carm. Nor would her daughter. With a lighter heart than she had known for a few days she drifted back into sleep, her hand still gripping her Carms hair tightly.