I visited Aeolus when time permitted and a week bled away. My routine was kept in check by the regular ticking of class, exams and responsibilities unrelated to my increasingly strange personal life. I grew more and more attached to Ilythia and Wind and they likewise welcomed me into their family. We would play cards by Aeolus' bedside when he was done grumbling about feeling like a cripple. His condition slowly improved, although he developed a slight infection that had to be treated with antibiotics.

It was at the end of the week that I found myself soaking in the bath tub that I shared with my boys when Gerald slipped into the room. It had been a stressful day of exams and lectures, so when he started unbuttoning his shirt I waved him away.

"Not now, I'm not in the mood."

It was then that I noticed a glassy look over his eyes. He ignored me and stripped down.


He turned and quietly slipped into the waters opposite to me. It took a moment for his eyes to rotate and meet mine. They had a peculiar look about them. It was when his lips curled into a soft smirk that I realized that Gerald wasn't home. He swirled the water absently with his index finger.

"You." I growled, feeling a cold sweat begin to bead on my brow.

"Don't be so dramatic, dear." She said with a voice that was distinctly not Gerald. It was a strange thing, seeing those words spill out of his mouth. The voice was authoritarian, cold and distinctly female. "It's not exactly like this should be a surprise for you."

"You stabbed Aeolus. What am I supposed to be, cheery?" I barked. I wrapped my arms around the edge of the tub and made it clear I wasn't budging. I was in charge. This seemed to bring her immeasurable pleasure as that smirk laughed softly.

"Listen. I did you a favor. With him out of the picture for a couple of days his little investigation will suffer. That's longer you get to spend with Hanz and Gerald before he takes them away in bondage. Plus, I didn't exactly kill him. If you haven't noticed, I know the human body quite well."

"I don't think you did anything for me."

"No. You're right. I needed to buy myself time. I needed to... prepare myself."


"You're going to visit them tonight."


"You're not going to play cards."

I narrowed my eyes into slits as she moved Gerald's feet around playfully in the water. She leaned closer to me. I could see that Gerald's body was sweating heavily. The water was warm, but nowhere near hot.

"You're going to read them a story."

It sucked the life from me as the creature behind those now cruel eyes regarded me. Was she really asking me to do what I suspected was the plan all along? Did she really want me to deliberately spread her influence to Aeolus and his family?

"No." I said quietly.

"No? We had this discussion before."

I marshaled all of my courage and shifted my gaze to her. It was easier to have my suspicions by in the future and vague. But now they were very much in the present and concrete.

"I'm not going to give Aeolus." I said.

She just laughed.

"Oh my, sweet heart. You're really not that stupid are you? Aeolus? Now why would I want that emotionally damaged barbarian? He was damaged goods long before I came to these parts. No, thank you. You may find his type appealing, what with his masculine stink and his big, hunky muscles but I find his sort repulsive.

"No. My dear, I want Ilythia. The little bird that tweets on his shoulder. Similar genes, different gender. Different mind. "

Ilythia wasn't unintelligent. But she was young and from a different culture. She was naive and young. It fit Altima's M.O. to want such a person. Hanz wasn't exactly the most forceful individual on the face of the earth. It disturbed me to think of the terrible things she'd do to that girl.

I clutched the side of the tub and tried to draw strength from it's unmoving bulk. Altima sloshed with Gerald's body and continued to play footsie beneath the soapy water.

"They're mine." I said and felt instantly silly.

"You're going to play this card? No, you're not. Don't get into a dick wagging competition with me, sweetheart." She said as droplets of Gerald's sweat began to fall into the soapy surface of the tub. "Because I have the biggest pecker of them all."

She eased back and clutched the sides of the tub. Our hands touched just barely.

"You claimed Gerald and Hanz. Fair enough. They were mine, but they're not useful to me in the long term. My control over them is fleeting and I've taken enough from them to grow stronger. Yes. You may have my seconds if you'd like.

"But five? No. Your little harem cannot grow to accommodate everyone I set my eyes on. Or else before long you'd have a very big harem indeed. I don't think you have the kind of moxie one would need to control so many. You may be like me, but you are not me."

She narrowed her eyes. I saw the muscles in Gerald's face twitch and strain. I stretched my mind into the narrow space between us and clawed at the mind ether. The predator that was her real self was reserved. I kept my distance for fear of drawing her attention in the realm which I was must vulnerable. But it felt more powerful, yet more restrained. She was a loaded gun with the safety on.

I had long suspected she would one day ask for my participation. I had argued with myself over what I would do when the time came. But I had already made my decision and I didn't want to continue to prance around, indecisive and feigning ignorance. I had decided that I would give them to her for the sake of my Gerald and my Hanz. To be able to spend one quiet evening alone with them. To lay with them one time without her there in the shadows watching us and guiding their hands on my body.

I stood up. She stared at my body hungrily and I fed on that.

"I'll bring you to them. But you've found a new home. You're going to leave us alone."

"Absolutely." She said while staring at my breasts.

"And when they leave, you're going with them." I stepped out of the tub and picked up my towel and started to dry myself off.

"Oh, I don't know about that." She said. "I think I'll always be with you. If just a little."

I turned to face her again, but she had vacated Gerald's body and retreated to where ever she went when outside of their minds. A worried expression creased his face as his eyes darted around.

"Wendy. You're not really going to do that. Are you?"

Offering him a sad smile I could only wrap the towel around myself and prepare for that evening.


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