What The Cat Dragged In Ch. 12

bypsyche_b_mused©

On the way home, they'd stopped for dinner and spent most of the evening dozing together on the sofa. Just hearing him breathe was comforting. His heavy arm resting on her back made her feel safe from the world. After getting so little sleep while he was gone, she didn't fight the little naps that overtook her.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Creed woke up to the sound of a vibrating cell phone. He opened his eyes and saw the frail's handbag moving slightly. She was still deeply asleep so he shifted her carefully and grabbed the phone.

"Creed." He glanced at the sleeping girl, and walked into the kitchen.

"Oh." There was a long pause. "I thought I dialed Kelly's number."

He recognized Joe's voice. "You did. She's sleeping."

"Is she alright?" The voice was instantly concerned.

"She's never been tired before?" He didn't attempt to hide the sarcasm in his voice.

"That's not what I mean, it's just early and she said she would call."

"If she wakes up before it gets too late I'll have her call you back. If not, she'll call tomorrow. Either from the road or when we get to wherever we're gonna spend the night."

"So you're leaving tomorrow then. How long will it take you to-"

"A few days."

"Alright." He paused. Creed knew he was going to say something else. "She really is alright? She's not...sick or anything?"

The question irritated him. "You wanna know the truth? I think she's used to me fucking her every night before she falls asleep, so while I was away she didn't get as much rest as usual. That what you want to hear?"

There was a long silence on the other end of the line. "Have her call. I know Anna wants to talk to her."

"Sure." He ended the call and dropped the phone back into the frail's bag. She was still curled up on the sofa, though if he hadn't seen her hair he might have thought there was nothing there but a crumpled blanket. He lay down and started carefully shifting her again. This time she woke up.

"What?" Her voice was thick with sleep.

"Nothin'. Got up to answer your phone."

"Sorry. I didn't hear it." She shifted so that he could get comfortable. He pulled her back against him again.

"S'okay. Was your grandfather. Said your grandmother was anxious to talk to you about something."

She groaned. "She wants to lecture me."

"She hasn't even seen you. What the fuck could she want to lecture you about?" His fingers combed through her hair. He could feel the little shivers of relaxation chasing each other down her body, but he could smell the tang of anxiety too. She stayed silent. "Well?"

"She wants me to live there," she said. Her face was hidden against his shoulder.

There was a painful tightness in his chest. "That what you want?"

She looked up at him. "No. I don't want to lose touch with them again, and I know that Cody needs them, but I don't belong there permanently."

The tight pain dissipated as quickly as it had come. He started moving his fingers through her hair again. "She didn't like that answer?"

She settled against him, the anxiety gone from her scent. She shrugged. "To her I'm still a little girl. She doesn't want to even hear about anything that's happened in the meantime, or at least she isn't ready to hear it yet."

"You ready to tell it?" That surprised him.

"No, at least not most of it. I can't just pretend it didn't happen though. That makes it worse."

Her face was hidden, but he could feel the little tremor that went through her body. The scent of anxiety returned and it brought the tightness back to his chest.

She sat up, her hair hiding her face. "I should call them back."

He held her arm and waited for her to look at him. After a moment she glanced out from around her hair. He moved the rest of her hair aside so that he could see both of her eyes. It was another one of those times that Wilson, or Jimmy or anyone would have known what to say, would have known how to offer her comfort or warmth or something besides silence. The moment stretched between them while he got lost in her sea glass eyes, searching for the right words, the right gesture. In the end, she made it. Kelly moved his hand off of her arm, turned it palm up, closed his fingers gently and kissed the base of each claw.

"Thank you." Her voice was barely a whisper. She was up and gone before he had a chance to say anything.

Fucking frail. Always inside his head even when she wasn't and still able to surprise him at every turn. A little smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.

*~*~*~*~*~*

By the time Kelly got off the phone with her grandparents she had a throbbing headache. She paused in the doorway. Victor was sitting up, flipping through television channels. The perpetually bored look was back on his face. The softness he'd shown only half an hour before was once again hidden as if it had never existed in the first place. She'd expected no less.

"I was going to make myself some tea. Do you want anything?"

He didn't even glance at her. "A beer."

Kelly smiled a little, turned, and went back into the kitchen. Strange as her world was, his gruff silence made her feel like everything was right with that world.

*~*~*~*~*~*

The next morning, Kelly lingered over her packing. This shouldn't have been so hard. As expanded as her wardrobe was, it wasn't so large that sorting through it was terribly difficult or time consuming.

"What the fuck is taking you so long?" He was growling, his jaw was tight.

"What if this is a really bad idea?" The question was out before she could consider it.

He sat on the edge of the bed. "Frail, why do you always pick the worst goddamn times to be a pain in my ass?"

"I'm not trying to-"

"Just a natural talent of yours huh?" He lounged back on the bed.

Kelly turned away so that he couldn't see her deep blush. She searched through the top drawer of her dresser and put enough underwear for a week and a half in the bag.

"You may as well tell me."

Kelly felt his eyes on her. She looked up at him. "They live in Ohio."

He rolled his eyes. "Well that just clears it right up."

She grabbed five pairs of jeans. "You know CoH has chapters all over the country."

"Yeah. So?" He watched her.

"Michigan and Ohio have two of the largest proportions of CoH members in the country. There isn't an even distribution, but I still feel like we're walking right in to CoH territory." Kelly put neatly folded turtlenecks and a couple of sweaters in with the jeans.

He was silent, thinking about what she'd just said. "You know where it's the densest?"

She looked away. "No. I know Stan had that information, but he never said it out loud when I could hear it."

He got up. "They're gonna be looking for the bony frail from the picture and expecting her to skulk around, trying not to be noticed. You don't look like that anymore and you sure as hell ain't gonna act like that."

"But-"

"You got ten more minutes. If you're not downstairs and ready to go by then, you're going with just the clothes on your back. Understand?" His usual commanding tone had returned.

Kelly knew he wasn't kidding about making her go with only what she wore. She turned her attention back to her packing.

"Frail." His voice was softer. She looked up at him. "I protect what's mine."

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