Jossus had twenty minutes to see one of his best friends before visiting hours were over. He supposed whether he saw her tonight or tomorrow didn’t really matter. From what he understood of her condition, she would never know the difference. Still, he wouldn’t feel right if he didn’t make an effort to see her as soon he could. For four days, doctors would not let anyone see Lillas who was not family, or paying the bills as was the case with Evera. But even he couldn’t see her for long.
He squeezed Beth’s hand as he walked down the corridor. Nema had warned him that their friend was in worse shape than they’d ever seen. She was near tears as she talked to him. He tried to remain calm. No matter what shape Lillas was in, Evera would never let anything happen to her; he’d never let her die. So, there was no need to be worried. None at all. None.
He paused in the doorway. Without his will, his jaw slacked until his mouth was almost completely wide open. Nema was right. He’d never seen her like this. Arms and legs covered in plaster and held in the air by braces and ceiling attachments. She looked like a broken marionette. Every inch of her was covered except for her eyes. An IV sat next to her, dripping what could have only been some sort of sedative and painkiller. His chest tightened as he surveyed the scene. Whatever he thought he was going to find when he entered her room, this was not it. Nema should have warned him.
“Oh, my God,” Beth said. He didn’t notice. Didn’t notice her pass him and enter the room.
“Jossus.” A voice too deep to be Beth’s caught his attention.
“Oh, Evera.” He might have known the himmel would still be here. He sat with a book on his lap. Something depressing, no doubt.
“Oh, hi Evera,” Beth said.
“Ms. Lawrence,” he said, giving her a cordial nod.
“I actually didn’t see you sitting there. How are you? Stressed out I bet. Jōs says you care for her a great deal.”
“I do. And it is quite stressful.”
“She lives a very dangerous life.”
“Yes. She does. But she loves and she’s good at it. This was just a very special case.”
“It’s kinda late for you to be here, isn’t it,” Jossus asked.
“Funny that you should say that.”
Jossus shrugged. “This is the first chance I’ve had to see her since she’s been in here.”
“And will you be reporting this to your queen?”
Jossus gave him a look then cut his eyes towards Beth.
“Don’t worry about her,” Evera said.
“Well, then no,” Jossus said. “As I’ve said before, she only cares about her relationship with Ravenna.”
“How long does she plan to continue this?”
“If you’re so interested, why don’t you ask her? Really, I’m tired of you two. You’re like divorced parents who use their children as pawns. I’m sorry things didn’t work out between you and Daniya, but that is no reason for you to take it out on the rest of us. I don’t want to spy on Mik, but we both know that right now I don’t have a choice.”
“You’ve been spying on Lillas?” Beth asked. “Jōs, what’s going on? What are you two talking about?”
Jossus looked at Beth. “Sweetie, would you mind going to get me a sharpie from the front desk, please. A massive Sharpie. The biggest one they have.”
She glared at him. “Do I look like your Girl Friday?” No sooner had she said that then she followed it with, “I’ll go see if they have any up front and try to bring you one.”
Once she was gone, Jossus looked Evera. “Thanks,” he said, acknowledging the himmel’s influence in Beth’s decision to leave. “Anyway, feel free to intervene anytime you want. Yeah, but that would require you actually talk to Daniya and we both know you won’t…” He paused to give Evera a chance to refute that statement. He didn’t. “Then this is where we’re at.”
He leaned over Lillas and looked down at her eyes. Then the rest of her. He tried to remind himself that she was in the hands of Evera, the all-powerful himmel. But damn if she wasn’t fucked up. “It’s different this time, isn’t it? She’s in a lot of trouble isn’t she?”
When Evera didn’t answer right away, Jossus looked up at him.
“She paralyzed,” Evera said after taking a swallow. “…from the neck down. It’s going to take more time than usual, but she will be okay.”
“Oh, my God,” Jossus said, feeling faint. “What could do this to her. And don’t say demons. I know demons can’t do this.”
Beth returned. “Well,” she held up a giant Sharpie. “You’re in luck.” Smiling, she handed him the pen. “Biggest one they had.”
“Perfect. Thank you.” He put an arm around her and kissed her on the forehead.
The opened the marker, the scent quickly filling the room. He looked her over, trying to decide what he wanted write. Something sentimental? No. One of her other friends could do that. Something funny. A picture? Nah. He was the stick figure master, but he couldn’t think of anything good enough. Maybe the reenactment of a joke. Ah. Not a bad idea. Hmm. Jokes. Jokes. Louis C. K., bad puns, Norris… Oh. Norris. Perfect. He leaned over her forehead and began writing him note. When he was finished he stood back to take a picture with his phone.
“Oh, my God, Jōs,” Beth said, laughing. “Really? I can’t wait ‘til she sees this.”
“it’s brilliant. She’ll love it.”
“Are you putting that on Facebook?”
He frowned as he messed with his phone. “Of course. What else would I do with it? And I will be making a meme later. I bet it goes viral in a day.” Once he had sent the photo, he glanced at Evera who was trying to ignore them, then he turned his attention to his girlfriend. “Alright, ready?”
She shrugged. “If you are.”
He held his hand out for her. She took it and allowed him to guide her out the door. “Ev,” Jōs said. Evera locked eyes with him. “Could you let me know when she wakes up?”
Evera’s look gave Jossus a very clear answer.
He breathed a sigh of frustration. “Look, I know the circumstances of my meeting Mik are sketchy, but she is much my friend as she is yours. You know I’d never betray her. Why do you really hate me so much? And don’t tell me it has anything to do with Daniya.”
“It has everything to do with Daniya,” Evera shot back. “Despite what you think your relationship is with Lillas, you are a tool of Daniya’s and she will use you against her.”
“Yes. Of course it is. She can’t move against Mik. You know that.”
“She can. And she will if it means getting what she wants.”
Evera paused, looked away, and tapped his book on his knee. “You know how much she hates Ravenna. Do you really think death is not an option for her if she can make Ravenna suffer?”
Jossus looked down then scanned the room. His queen’s torrid hatred of Ravenna was well-known by just about everyone in the non-human world. There was almost nothing Daniya wouldn’t be willing to do to get vengeance on the vampira. That much Evera was right about.
“You are the closest ankhil to both Lillas and Ravenna. Do you think that’s a position Daniya has taken lightly?”
Actually, he never thought about it. He was close to Lillas, but he never thought of his relationship with Ravenna as close. He couldn’t stand her any more than anyone else could. But now that Evera mentioned it, he supposed he did have more knowledge of her than any other of his species. Hm. That was not an honor he wanted in the least.
“No matter what you think,” Evera continued, driving the stake further and further into Jossus’s side. “You are a weapon in waiting. That’s my problem with you. And until you sever your ties with your queen, you and I will never be on good terms.”
“I can’t sever relations with Daniya. She’ll kill me.”
Evera sat back in his seat. “Then you know where we stand.”
Jossus gave an irritated smile. “Okay. I’ll see you around, Ev.” He stormed out of the room.
“What was that about?” Beth asked. “Who is…um…ooh. I forgot what I was saying.”
“Did you?” Jossus asked, not surprised in the least.
She released his hand then locked her arm in his and smiled up at him. “Don’t worry. I’m sure Lillas will be fine.”
He patted her hand then smiled as they walked out the door. “Yeah. Yeah. I’m sure she will.” But he wasn’t sure that he would be. A weapon in waiting. The information he had been passing along to Daniya had been pretty useless. As far as he knew. But what if Evera was right? What if Daniya didn’t have him on some pointless spy mission? She was cunning and focused. He couldn’t believe he never considered her real motives for having him of all people build a relationship with the incarnae. If he had done anything to harm his friend, he would never forgive himself. On the upside, if his actions did have any part in harm coming to Lillas, Evera would kill him before he had time to dwell on it.