Chapter 5: Assessment
"Focus your eyes on me," Gale instructed. Slowly, he waved the flashlight back-and-forth in front of her eyes.
"How much longer?" Kali asked impatiently for the umpteenth time. "It feels like we've been here for hours with no progress to show for it."
"You've sat for no longer than five minutes," I withheld laughter as her lips formed a smile. "We'll be here for much longer if you continue to pester the good doctor."
"Well said," Gale smiled at the both of us before refocusing on the real patient. "Kali, last we spoke, I reminded you to keep up with your physical therapy. Have you removed yourself from mind to do so as of late?"
"Yes," She answered with the utmost respect as her eyes stayed focused on me. Her eyes were soft and filled with warm affection, but it only lasted a moment before she felt the need to open her mouth to brag unnecessarily. "The beneficiary of my most pressing session will say the same."
"You thrive on arrogant remarks over your own sexual prowess," I commented with a smile. "It's nice to see you jest again, though I don't think Gale would appreciate listening to the great Kaliska boast over such intimate things."
"Of course," She responded with a mischievous grin. "Apologies, Gale."
"Do not concern yourselves with me. I am only humbled to be favored so highly among alphas," He dismissed the words with a smile, and looked to me. "Since her freedom from enslavement, Kaliska has continued to improve significantly but it is imperative that you continue treatment alongside her as previously discussed. How has your diet progressed since our last appointment? Have you eaten real meals at-least once a day?"
"No," I answered honestly. Though to be fair, this was not the only thing to have changed since Kylan's passing.
"When did you last consume blood?" He asked, taking notes down on the pad in his hands.
"An hour ago, perhaps." I guessed to the best of my ability. "From Kaliska, of course." I added, in case he thought to ask.
"I'll assume you feed from her thrice daily, if not more?" He raised his head briefly as I nodded in confirmation. "It's possible that extensive blood loss over short periods of time could be causing her episodes, though this is just theory. Her power and durability extend far beyond the rest of the family, but it's difficult to diagnose her without Xion or Siha to compare properly."
"You mention past lives," Kali took notice. "You think these happenings are guardian-related?"
"Perhaps," He touched the subject tenderly. "To be casted out so young, we not only lost our laurels but potential knowledge as well. Michael refused to help us after crimes were committed against other holy creatures and Denarius - love or hate him- was the only creature to know our kind in such depth after the casting."
"Knowledge taken from the cruel treatment and massacre of many Originals," I frowned over his mention. If it weren't for him, half of the families would still be among the living. "While your intentions are most appreciated, do well to remember that your patient is one of two surviving family members of Denarius' foul hands."
"I speak with poor words," He bowed his head apologetically. "Forgive me, alpha. However, as it stands, Denarius would likely know what ails your other half."
"And it is your job to know more than that jackal,"Murrain stood in the doorway of the office, late and unwelcome. His body was tense at the mention of Denarius, clearly offended by Gale's lack of care for his alpha's law. "You forget yourself and shame the Sineca family. Discussion over the black-eyed demon is strictly prohibited, Gale. Continue to speak his name, and you will find yourself far from-!"
"Over ruled," Kali spoke with higher volume, glaring at the late-comer. "You may continue, Gale."
"Kaliska," The current alpha on rotation pressed further. "As you sit unable to make proper decisions for yourself, you do not have authority to speak over-"
"Over ruled," I spoke on Kali's behalf. Their eyes turned to me, though Kali simply nodded in gratitude. "Continue but I would have Murrain's mind at ease, Gale; please refrain from mention of the black-eyed demon for the remainder of his rotation."
As Gale continued discussion, Murrain approached me with whispers below their level of hearing. "The good doctor speaks of the demon responsible for the current condition of Kaliska, and I stand helplessly forced to watch you defend the shadow of a man she once so fondly referred to as dominus."
"Denarius has been forgiven for past cruelty as commanded by Kali," I reminded him with matched volume, not wishing to linger on the subject. "He deserves to see justice, I agree, but I will not move against the woman known to all as my heart and alpha."
"You now hold position to over rule her as you so hastily over ruled me," He suggested. "I remember the day she pardoned him as if it were yesterday. Your heart ached over her decision and you pleaded with her to reconsider such thoughts. Forgive me, if I refuse to believe you've finally made peace with the same immortal that torments you with obscene remarks during her constant visitations."
"Do not speak of this again," I warned him while already knowing that he knew more than he previously let on. "She struggles with Kylan's passing as I do; leave her be, please, and allow her to regain peace of mind without memories of punishment crueler than the loss of her first son."
"As you say," Murrain responded softly and bowed his head briefly. "While I have you, my family has been removed from the premises as previously commanded by Kali. I was not provided with opportunity to defend my actions but I apologize for overstepping. I only wish to see justice for those responsible, Ashaa, as I wish to discover who was able to step foot on claimed territory without notice."
"Gratitude," I whispered, "but Kaliska and I have already made plans to return once this appointment concludes. We seek to properly give tribute and reunite our son with his personal belongings."
"I can arrange for proper escort, if you wish."
"The gesture is well-received," I smiled as he did. He and Kali did not always see eye-to-eye; they weren't even capable of agreeing on agreeing. Like Kali, he was impulsive, but he was as protective and chivalrous as he has always been. "However, recent tragedy does not change lifelong habit. We move together but only together."
"Your will then," He gave nod. "I submit to-"
"Submit to nothing in regards to my wife," Her eyes shifted between the both of us, though her hardened stare fixated on Murrain jealously. Shortly after, she looked to me for explanation though she seemed far more annoyed over the fact that my attention was focused on Murrain rather than her.
"Do not make such sour faces," I moved closer before she could say anything else, and placed my hands lovingly upon her shoulders from behind. Though her response was slow, she eventually relaxed and proceeded to melt under such touch after finally withdrawing from her stand-off. "You know well that there is no competition for my heart," I whispered affectionately into her ear, careful to not let our audience hear as Kali nuzzled the side of her face gently against my lips. "I am yours, little rabbit, and only yours."
"And I am yours," She pecked at my lips with a sweet smile. "Forgive me," She added the apology last second. "An empty stomach makes me cranky."
"I suppose you deserve a full meal for the patience you've so clearly displayed since our arrival," I teased her, watching her ignite beneath me from promise of food as I moved my arms to drape lazily around her neck. "What other news have you, Gale?"
"Kali has confirmed ability to take pain with little effort while you tended to Murrain," He looked at the both of us. "I would like to test such an ability and see how her body responds to such stress."
"Stress?" Murrain interrupted. "How does she stress from use of inferior talents?"
"Such fault is mine," I admitted, remembering that he wasn't present when we discussed my diet- or lack thereof.
"Forgive me if I'm wrong for speaking out of turn but this appointment- as intimate as it is- requires mate, not extended family." Gale spoke up and voiced his concerns directly to me. "While I do respect Kaliska's command on the subject that is Murrain's presence and do not wish to see my own blood alpha turned away by my request, I must urge you to reconsider such terms as the next few minutes may twist you both uncomfortably, so much that I fear an audience will cause extreme unease."
"Tell me," I said before kissing the top of Kali's head. "What subject did you wish to-?"
"He wishes to discuss Kylan," She informed his intent and broached with great care, though he was right to think I'd twist uncomfortably. "No one here would dare to challenge this issue with either of us but you have the final say, Ashaa. Murrain does not need to be present for this, nor any other alpha or family member."
She was as sweet as ever, but was there even any need to think it through? "Remove yourself until called upon," I commanded without looking to him, hoping he'd leave without fuss because they were both right. This particular discussion was meant for the two of us and the family doctor, no one else.
The three of us stayed silent as Murrain acknowledged my current position of power. "Your will," He sympathized with soft tones; the shuffling of his feet could be heard from where we stood and we waited until the door had closed before anyone had dared to speak.
"This next part is nothing but observation," Gale turned to us and explained. "Over discussion of Kylan, Kaliska's only responsibility is to respond accordingly."
"You aim to provoke her phasing?" I frowned.
"I aim to see how she mourns," He reasoned. "I do not believe Kaliska capable of phasing like the rest of us but we will proceed with care. As we speak, Murrain and several members of my own family stand outside, ready to step in and interrupt the session should anything happen; they might be what keeps Kaliska from Michael's curse of self-mutilation."
"Then let's get on with it," Kali muttered impatiently. "I'm starving and I'd like to eat soon," She reminded me gently, though it felt more like she was trying to lighten the mood for my sake.
"Continue," I sighed softly against the back of her head and watched on as the scene unfolded.
"Ready?" Gale asked her as she nodded with confirmation. "Let's start with something easy; why don't you speak to me of a moment that you remember fondly, something that caused you great joy?"
Moment of great joy? "When Ashaa named me his mother," I answered instantly. There was no greater moment than that, and yet Gale twists his expression as I had answered incorrectly. Did I misunderstand the question? It didn't feel like I did. In fact, I felt more sure of his question than I did with my answer. Perhaps there was a moment greater that that?
"You're sweet but I think Gale meant for you to speak of moments with Kylan, not me." Ashaa pressed with soft kisses as she whispered into my ear, but now I only thought pleasant of her.
Auburn hair. Pleasant but dyed out of preference. Natural blonde, light complexion. Beautiful blue eyes, no.. phenomenal. Angel father, human mother. Angel haze gifted at birth but had no effect on me. Affected only humans, I was born an animal... but I wonder how the haze felt? Nice? No, probably not. Made people look at her weird, she said. Felt uncomfortable in the presence of those that looked at her so. But it wasn't as uncomfortable as being inside my head. Thoughts were too fast, she said. Mind and mouth were out of sync. Preferred that I spoke like a human, designed with an imperfect dialect because of the melding process. Grew worse after significant time at the fortress. Words worked when I spoke out loud, not so much in my head. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. But never judged. She never judged. Loved me just the same. Preferred to stay out of my head though. It was understandable. Confused her often.
But that was not the focus. No, the moment that caused me great joy- aside from Ashaa's existence- was that of when Kylan opened his eyes for the first time. That moment, holding him in my arms as his mother slept- it was a feeling like no other. I was overwhelmed with joy and it felt like my heart had soared to new heights, to see my son looking up to me. It took years to finally convince Ashaa that I was ready to start a family and I couldn't blame her for thinking otherwise. In my youth, family held little to no meaning. All I needed was Ashaa by my side; I didn't want kids and I certainly had no interest in leaving Sanctuary to live amongst the coven she called family. I just wanted to serve as the lead alpha, to prove to Michael and all holy creatures that they chose correctly by granting me the position of honor.
"It's fascinating," Gale pulled me from my thoughts. "Kylan is lost and yet her mind still focuses on Michael's purpose for her existence."
"It does not," I fought the urge to growl. Perhaps I did not make myself clear. "I miss Kylan as she does."
"Your response would speak otherwise," He countered with blank expression. "I ask for moment of great joy and you quickly answer your heart's name. You didn't even call Kylan by name."
"I did," I defended my previous answer. I said Kylan's name; I wasn't afraid to say his name out loud. He was my wife's son and I loved him as my own; hell, I had even mentioned my previous disinterest for family. "You failed to hear correctly. He did, didn't he?" My last words directed to Ashaa.
"By name, no." Her grip around my neck tightened. "You didn't say his name, Kali, but it's okay." She tried to comfort me for my failures by toying with my ear. "It doesn't mean that anything's wrong with you, okay? This sort of thing happens, rabbit, to many people around the world."
"No," I insisted. "You both weren't listening!"
"Perhaps you failed to speak aloud?" She suggested, and the thought had not crossed my mind. "You tend to do that," She muttered gently against the side of my face.
"I apologize if I came on too strongly," Gale bowed his head respectfully. Warm smiles swept across his face, in light of his kindness. She was right; he was a good doctor. "I do not mean to suggest that you don't miss your son. We all grieve differently, Kaliska, and I failed to remember that your mind wanders in different directions simultaneously. Again my apologies, alpha."
"Is that all then?" I waved the apology away. All I wanted to do was eat. "Can we leave now?"
Gale laughed. "Of course," He looked at Ashaa, who had not moved from behind me. "I see no cause for alarm. However, I will suggest that you stay on the shores of Lantau until this matter is resolved. I also recommend that you refrain from feeding off of her over the next few days; the loss of Kylan affects her as it affects you. Because of this, I wish to see if the additional stress of blood loss may be causing her strange episodes."
"No biting," She repeated softly. "I understand and I will refrain from temptation."
"This'll be interesting," I tried not to laugh. Her refusing to bite at my neck was like asking me to not openly berate the idiocy of others, or asking her to keep hands behind her back to stop from physically pleasuring herself. It wasn't going to happen.
"You don't think I can do it?" She dared to question but I wasn't wrong.
"I know you can't," I rolled my eyes before turning my head to look at her. "Even on your so-called diet, you desperately fought not to pierce flesh."
"I didn't though," She smirked.
"You wanted to," I countered. "I saw the lust in your eyes, begging to have just one little-"
"But I was successful nonetheless," She concluded victoriously. "Not once did I pierce flesh."
"Come then," I kissed her cheek tenderly, as if rewarding her, and rose from the bedding. "Let's see Kylan off properly this time."
Translations and other things:
∴ Dominus = Master