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Prudence, Chapter 56

Mark made a special point of watching the flow of energy as the three of them cavorted in the shower. He wanted to know how much energy they could actually raise with sex, and how much of it would make it to Kristen. He'd really thought that he'd probably get too distracted to pay much attention, but he found himself to be fascinated by the shifting colors and patterns, even when he was most occupied.

He could see the energy building, strong enough that he could even see it, faintly, with his eyes open, and he could see it flowing from him to Kristen, and from Kayla to Kristen. As well, energy flowed from Aaron into him, and added to what he was giving his wife. It didn't seem like much of what was raised actually went to her... a lot of it seemed to get lost in the transfer, but it was some. Enough that it had to help.

Still... he'd hoped for more, and it was hard to contain his disappointment, even in the midst of such wonderful distraction. He bent his head and nipped at Kayla's neck as he slid into her from behind, and she groaned and clenched her hand in Aaron's hair. Mark closed his eyes as her cunt tightened around him, squeezing and rippling, and because he was still half-heartedly watching the energies, he saw it when all of the lines rippled, wavering for a moment.

Then, for a few seconds, the energy seemed to pool around Kayla, swirling thickly around her, and then blinked out, disappearing for just a second before it started flowing again... but this time it was flowing from her completely. The lines wove themselves into a braid around the gold Kristen-strand, and grew much, much stronger in the process. Mark's, Kayla's and Kristen's strands made up the solid core of the braid-- blue, green, and rapidly brightening gold-- but Aaron's silver, now flowing directly into Kayla rather than passing through Mark, formed a delicate filagree around the braid, seeming to strengthen it, and to keep the energy contained as it followed the path to Kristen.

The last thing Mark saw, before the physical sensations of what they were doing became too much for him, was the energy suddenly pulsing bright and strong as Kayla came again around his cock and on Aaron's face.

Afterward, as he knelt in the tub, holding her cradled to his chest because her legs were too limp to hold her, he looked again. Things were back to normal, in a way, but there had been some definite changes, as well. His bond to Aaron, instead of existing as a weak, potential thing, had strengthened considerably. As well, a new bond had formed between Kayla and Aaron, and he wasn't sure what to make of it. It just didn't 'look' the same as the lifebonds. It seemed to be both a tighter and a looser bond at the same time.

It was odd how easily he accepted that the things he 'saw' were real, when he'd been doing it for such a short time. But he didn't doubt them, or the other magic that had entered his life. And if he had the occasional moment of wondering about his sanity, the rewards of that potential insanity were most certainly worth it. Still... he wished there were someone he could ask about these things without being afraid they'd have him committed.

Smiling, he opened his eyes and looked down at the two teenagers who shared the tub with him. Kayla had her eyes closed, and her black hair fell in sleek ringlets around her shoulders as the warm water cascaded over her. Kristen would have loved to paint her like that: Goth Angel In The Rain.

Aaron was half-kneeling, half-laying in the tub, his head resting against Kayla's hip, looking utterly exhausted. Mark cast a quick glance over the boy's back, hoping their activity hadn't hurt it too badly, and stiffened with shock.

He reached behind him to turn off the water, then jiggled the girl in his arms a bit. "Um. Kayla, look. Look at his back."

She flinched, scrunching her eyes more tightly closed. "Is it bleeding again?"

Mark shook his head and turned her around. "No, look at it."

Reluctantly, she opened her eyes, and then gasped. "Oh! Wow... How the fuck?" She touched Aaron's back gently, her eyes full of wonder.

It wasn't totally healed. There were still a few bruises, and even a couple of cuts that weren't quite well, yet, but it was very close to it. It looked as if the beating had happened three weeks ago, rather than the night before.

"And you've developed some sort of bond with him," Mark said, softly. "It's... not the same as mine. Somehow... tighter and looser, it just looks... damn it, I don't have the words to describe these things!"

Her lips trembled as she stroked the newly healed skin, and Aaron smiled up at her, rubbing his cheek against her thigh. Another perfect image: Fallen Angel In Supplication. "Gods... thank you," Kayla whispered, then started to cry.

Mark held her close as she sobbed brokenly, her whole body shaking helplessly, as if she cried for something she hadn't dared mourn and had never expected to return.

These tears had been long in coming, he knew, so he stroked her hair and let her cry. Eventually, she sniffed, then took a shaky breath and opened her eyes.

She smiled weakly at Aaron, who still knelt beside her, watching with concern. Reaching out, she stroked his hair like one might a worried child's... or an anxious pet's. "At... At l-least I c-can fix the damage I cause."

Mark squeezed her tightly. "And other damage as well."

She wiped at her eyes, and then looked up, suddenly worried. "Shit. Do you think any of the energy made it to Kristen? Or did I use it all up?" She looked down at Aaron and added hurriedly, "Not that I'm not happy to have you healed, it's just... however bad it was, it wasn't fatal. Kristen's situation could be."

Mark shook his head. "Actually, I think Aaron was just... incidental. It looked like he was... um... sort of containing the energy that was going to Kristen. I think he got healed as a side effect." He smiled down at her proudly.

"Wow." She looked like a little girl at Christmas time, somehow given the gift she'd known she couldn't have. "So... if it had been on purpose, it might have healed it all the way?"

"I think so," Mark said, nodding. "You probably helped Kristen and Angie a lot." He tilted her chin up with one hand so he could look her in the eyes. "I don't want to say I told you so, but..."

She ducked her head, but not before he saw the sweet smile of childlike wonder on her face. "Maybe I've finally earned it," she said, softly. "Somehow."

"I don't think you needed to earn it," he said. "I think you just needed to realize it."

She shook her head, and gave him her normal, cynical grin, but her eyes were still awfully soft and dreamy. "It doesn't matter how I got here. I'm just glad I am," she said. "Let's go see Kristen."

"Let's," he said, smiling, then a thought hit him. "Wait. Let's see if you can 'see' the bonds yourself, now."

She shrugged, and closed her eyes. After a few seconds she shrugged again. "Maybe. I don't know if I really do, or if it's just wishful thinking."

"See if you can see her link with Angie," he urged.

Kayla was silent for a moment, then she frowned. "I can't see it. But... I think I can feel it. Raw and sore."

Mark nodded as she opened her eyes. "Yeah. Exactly like that. So... now that you know what it feels like, maybe next time, you'll be able to focus the healing on it more directly."

She frowned thoughtfully. "It definitely feels like an injury... a wound. Not like ours at all. It's a vacuum rather than a fountain. I think, anyway."

"Yeah, it's dark," Mark agreed. "I think part of that may be Angie's condition-- I think Kristen's still supporting her."

"I... don't think so," Kayla said. "Well, actually, yes, but not exactly. I think the link's taking energy from both of them. Because they're not... ah... 'feeding' it."

"Hmm. That would make sense," he said. If we can just get Angie over her hang-ups, then...."

"Ugh." Kayla wrinkled her nose in distaste. "That would be difficult. I already told you she had religious issues. Big time."

"I know. I know." He sighed deeply. "Why don't we try to raise energy one more time, and this time you concentrate on physical healing of Angie, Kayla."

She made a face and looked at him irritably. "I'd rather try to heal Kristen, but... maybe you're right, and if the link is draining her because Angie's not strong enough to make it on her own, then I guess that would be the best way to do things. But I still don't like it. I'll do it, but I'm not exactly happy about helping her right now, you know. If she weren't bound to Kris...."

Mark caressed her cheek. "I know, love. I know," he said softly. "But she is. So if she hurts, Kristen hurts, too."

Kayla sighed and closed her eyes, rubbing her cheek against his hand. "Yeah. I know. I'll do my best."


Kayla's 'best' turned out to be quite a bit. Mark was only able to catch a few fleeting glimpses of the flowing energies, but what he did see was impressive. He didn't know how she did what she did, but the 'braid' of force she sent out pulsed with strength, her bright green strand glowing so powerfully it tinted all of the others. Aaron again showed up as a silver filigree, surrounding and containing the others, but Kayla's energy seemed to reflect from the lacy strands, making them gleam a sharp, metallic green from time to time.

Mark knew that he didn't have the experience or the knowledge to be sure of the meaning of what he Saw, but he couldn't help but feel that something powerful had happened. Something amazing, despite Kayla's protestations that she wasn't even sure she'd done anything. He just kissed the top of her head, holding her close for a moment, and resolved to spend some time working on her self-doubts as soon as this current emergency didn't need all of their concentration. Aaron, kneeling by the bed with his head on Mark's thigh, sighed softly and looked up at him, his green eyes full of understanding. Meeting his gaze, the boy gave slight nod, then turned his head to kiss the back of Kayla's thigh.

His confidence seemed to be justified when they finally made it to Kristen's hospital room.

The room was a semi-private, separated into two areas by a white curtain on a sliding rail. The curtain was drawn around the far side of the room, so Kristen's bed, the one by the door, was the only one immediately visible.

She looked better than when he'd left her the night before. A lot better. The breathing tube was gone, though she still had the IV and he could see the tube of a catheter coming from under the sheet. She was still very, very pale, but her skin was no longer dry and brittle looking, her face no longer tightly drawn. She didn't look gaunt, anymore, just sick, and her breathing was steady and regular.

Mark closed his eyes, momentarily overwhelmed by relief, and gave a silent prayer of thanks to any god that happened to be listening. Then he opened his eyes again and indulged his need to just look at her.

She was so beautiful. She lay there, still and quiet, the blankets turned down neatly, and her folded hands rested on her chest. Her long, red-gold hair was spread out across the pillows and blankets, as if someone had gently combed each shiny curl and laid it carefully, perfectly in place. The long black lashes that rested against her pale, perfect cheek and her soft, slightly parted lips were the only splash of color in that pale face. It made her seem somehow unreal, ethereal. An artist's dream of Sleeping Beauty.

He reached out, brushing his fingertips along one soft curl, and decided he shouldn't wake her, however much he wanted to see her eyes, hear her voice. He let himself look at her for another moment, then squeezed Kayla's hand and released it.

"I'm going to check on Angie," he said in a soft whisper. Not that he wouldn't love to just stay there and watch every beloved breath, but he knew that Kayla and Aaron probably wanted-- and certainly had earned-- a chance to have some time of their own with Kristen. So as Aaron pulled a chair over to the bed and held it for Kayla, and she sat down and reached hesitantly for Kristen's hand, Mark headed for the curtain and peeked inside.

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