We went back to the house after training. I was still thinking over the new development, Alkaia’s daughter power and her insistence on not using her voice. It was a powerful weapon, but useless if she was too afraid to use it. I needed to teach her how to use it, teach her not to be afraid. I was glad I had Kimball with me, I had no experience with that particular power, but he could help me. As time passed I was getting more used to him, I couldn’t imagine my days without him and I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing.
After cooking me dinner, Kimball took me to my room and cleaned my wound again, he gave me some medicine and then dressed my wound again, he looked happy with the results, I was healing well.
“Your leg is already so much better,” he said, “you’re healing faster that I expected.”
“Is all thanks to you and your care.”
“Is the least I could do,” he said, and then he playfully bowed to me. “Do you need anything else or do you want me to leave you alone?”
“Why don’t you stay with me?” I asked. After all he had done for me, I felt like I had to give him something back, I was being selfish, using him but not giving him something in return. I knew he wanted me, I could give myself to him. At least I knew he wouldn’t hurt me, and he wasn’t bad looking, it wouldn’t be so hard.
I pulled him closer and started to take his belt off.
“What are you doing?” He stopped me, taking my hand off him.
“Isn’t this what you want?” I was confused.
“No, I want you, not what you can do for me. I don’t want a moment of pleasure if it’s going to wake bad memories for you. You don’t really want to do this, you just think you have to do it, but you’re wrong. I want you, but only if you want me too. I won’t do anything that could hurt you.
“But I want to do this, I want to show you how much I appreciate everything you have done for me.”
“Do you think you have to pay me for what I’ve done? Do you really think that only because I’ve been nice to you, you have to sleep with me?” Again I felt like he was reading my mind. I didn’t say anything and I’m sure I didn’t even move, but he was reading me. “It’s been like that for you in the past, isn’t it? After Agmong, people expected you to pay them for being nice to you, even if you didn’t want to.” It wasn’t a question, he knew. I thought of Agis and how mad he was because I wouldn’t go back to the way things were before Agmong. I had been able to pay Vasuman, mostly because he never gave me a choice, but I couldn’t give Agis and the others what they wanted from me. But with Kimball was different, I wanted to do this for him.
“Just let me try, I want to do this for you.”
“If you are going to do it, do it for yourself, not for me. I can see you are not comfortable, your offer is out of duty, not desire. You are scared, the last thing I want is for you to be scared with me.” I felt ashamed, he knew me so well. “Now, if there’s nothing else you need I will go to my room.” Before I could say something he was gone.
I couldn’t sleep, I feel guilty for what had happened, and frustrated because I wasn’t normal anymore. I knew that before Agmong things had been different, I used to spend my nights in a different bed each day, and I did it because I enjoyed being with them. But Agmong had taught me to fear sex, he made sure that I wouldn’t enjoy it anymore. If I thought about it all that came to my mind was the nightmare that was living with him.
And as I fell asleep the nightmares were waiting for me. I was trapped in my memories, I couldn’t fight back, I couldn’t defend myself, in my dreams I was at the mercy of my torturers.
“Kaiserin!” I heard the scream and the nightmare shattered. I opened my eyes and saw Kimball, he was holding me, shaking me to wake me up. “Is not real, it’s just a nightmare.”
“I’m fine.” I answered automatically, not even thinking about it, still feeling dizzy and confused while I tried to separate what was real and what wasn’t. As my mind cleared I felt ashamed that once again Kimball had been witness to my weakness.
“Are you sure?” He let me go and took a couple of steps back, giving me space. “Do you want me to go?”
“You said the other day that you stayed with me because while you were with me I didn’t have nightmares. Was that true?”
“I like to think that,” he said, “when the hallucinations stopped and your temperature went back to normal I tried to leave you alone, but often your screams or crying brought me back. But once I decided to stay with you you slept well. I like to think my presence here was what made the difference.”
“Could you stay with me again and chase the nightmares away?” I asked before I could think about it. I hated myself as soon as I asked for being so weak, but Kimball smiled, he seemed happy because of my request.
“Only if you’re sure that is what you want.” He took my hand and then sat on the floor, in the same spot I had found him when I had woken up before.
“I won’t be able to sleep knowing you are uncomfortable,” I remembered how bad he looked before after sleeping in the floor, “I don’t mind sharing my bed, I know I’m safe with you and I will sleep better if you are here.”
“Are you sure?” he looked at my eyes and he found his answer there, because before I could answer him, he walked to the other side of the bed and climbed in, he took my hand again and kissed it. “Sweet dreams Kaiserin.”
“Sweet dreams,” I repeated his words. I was surprised, because despite my confusion and the fact that I I was in a vulnerable position with him in my bed, I felt safe and I was able to fall sleep in just a few moments.
I woke up the next morning feeling rested and better than I have felt in a long time. Kimball was right, having him next to me helped. During the night I had moved even closer to him, my head was resting on his chest and I had one of my arms over him. I was surprised, I had woken up like that a lot of times with Vasuman, but mostly in the cold nights when I needed his body heat to stay warm, but I had done the same with Kimball for no reason. When I sat up I noticed Kimball’s morning erection and I froze. Memories of other morning came to me, even Vasuman wouldn’t let me out of bed until I took care of what I had caused. Would it be the same with Kimball? Despite what I had tried the night before I wasn’t sure if I could do it.
“It’s a natural reaction,” Kimball’s voice interrupted my thoughts, “it doesn’t mean anything. Well, having a beautiful woman by my side might have helped, but don’t worry about it.” I didn’t say anything, just stared at him, trying to understand. “You haven’t completely woken up yet, and you look terrified.” His words were a wake up call, I needed to stop letting my past affect me.
What was going on with me? It was like my past was catching up with me, it had been a long time since the memories had bothered me so much. Kimball put his arm around my shoulders and hugged me.
“It doesn’t make sense,” I said, taking comfort from his hug, feeling safe with him. “I don’t understand why I feel like this, I’m not afraid of fighting, I don’t get scared going into battle, I don’t cower in front of my enemies… but sex terrifies me. I’m supposed to be strong, I’m supposed to be able to face any challenge, but in reality I’m just weak.”
“No, you’re not. You are the bravest woman I know. I saw what you did to Dowe, I saw you facing your fears, you didn’t freeze or lost control, you did what you needed to do. I just want you to know that you don’t need to fight me, I will never do anything you don’t want.” I believed him, he had his chances, I had even offered myself to him, but he didn’t take advantage of me. “Can I ask you something?” He said after a while.
“Who is Malkia’s father? You must have conquered your fear at some point to have her.”
“Vasuman is Malkia’s father,” I said, after considering what I could say to him. I decided that I could trust him, I wasn’t afraid of talking to him, he had already seen me at my worst, so there was nothing I could say that would change the way he saw me, not much anyway. “I met Vasuman a few weeks after I killed Agmong, he was also my superior so I didn’t have a choice in the matter, I became his lover. I think that after a while I got used to being with him.”
“What do you mean you didn’t have a choice?” His voice sounded just like before, but my empathy let me know that his feelings were changing, he was getting restless, angry.
“He was the general of the sector where I was, he was the law, whatever he wanted we all had to obey. He decided I had to sleep with him and I had to do it. It’s a common practice in most of the Clans. But it wasn’t that bad, he never hit me or hurt me on purpose.”
“So he was just like Agmong, another superior taking advantage of his power.”
“Not really, they were different.” After everything he had told me and done for me, I wanted to share my past, and make him understand where I was coming from. “Agmong was my superior, but he wasn’t supposed to be. When my mother died, I lost my head, I was so sad and so angry that I let my guard down. My half-brother Caracalla took advantage of that, he convinced my father that I was a threat to them and my father took my memory away, and my powers too, he was going to send me to a sector where no one could recognize me and I could go unnoticed, but my brother had other plans. Caracalla arranged for me to be taken into sector 32, no one there would know who I was, but that wasn’t all, he knew my life would be a living hell there. Before that I was a captain, but I was sent there as a simple soldier, even with my memory gone, I knew that I was supposed to be more, so when Agmong started bossing me around I didn’t follow his orders. My first night there Agmong decided to teach me a lesson, so he raped me, and then let his men do the same. I tried to fight back, I really did, but they blocked my powers, without them I was too weak to fight back.”
“How old were you?”
“I was seventeen, almost eighteen. But mentally? I was only eleven, the only memories I had were those of my time in the Burrows.” I felt his body tense, his arm was holding me tighter, but even that felt good, because it was him. “Despite my fear for Agmong and the horrible first night I had, I kept trying to fight them, I had to accept Agmong as my superior, but I couldn’t do the same with the others.”
“You were just a child, I’m so sorry you had to go through that. What happened after that?”
“I spent two days in the infirmary after that first night. When I went back, I had already accepted that I had to submit to Agmong, and he loved to make me suffer, he whipped me for any transgression, real or imaginary, he was always hurting me. But I wouldn’t let the others do the same, I was able to fight them back when it was only one or two of them, but Agmong didn’t like that. After almost four months there I was feeling better, I was able to keep most of them away from me, I had learned to keep my mental block at bay and I could fight better, and one night, when one of Agmong’s men tried to rape me I gave him a beating. Agmong wasn’t happy. When he found out he blindfolded me, blocking my powers that back then depended on my sight, and then he ordered every one of his men to rape me, even those that were like me were told to use me, he said that maybe that way I would learn that there was no one lower than me. When they finished, he took the blindfold off me and looked at me, he said that I haven’t learnt my lesson, that I still dared to challenge him with my eyes. I think that all that was occupying my head at that time was how I would take revenge on them, and he knew that. He punched me, he beat me until my face was so swollen that I couldn’t keep my eyes open, then he dragged me to the bathrooms. He cleaned me and then tied my arms and legs. A squad was coming into the baths when he finished with me, he gave me to them, and they abused me too, all of them. Word got out of what Agmong was doing, and more people arrived to use me, all day long. I asked them to stop, I threatened them, I pleaded, but it was like they couldn’t hear me. That day I felt like something inside me had died, and I finally understood what Agmong was telling me: I was nothing. After that day it didn’t even cross my mind to disobey him again, if he sent me to entertain his friends I did it, it didn’t matter that most of them were like him, that they couldn’t find pleasure unless I was in pain. That’s my problem, that’s what I think about when I think of sex.”
“I’m sorry.” Kimball was stroking my hair, and I found the gesture comforting and relaxing. His feelings were weird, I could feel his fury, incredulity, pain, respect. I was glad that I couldn’t feel pity. “How did you end up with Vasuman?”
“Some of my friends found me a couple of years after I ended up with Agmong, they helped me get my memories and my powers back, after that I was able to kill Agmong and a few others. I got cocky, I was feeling invincible and ended up challenging Vasuman. He defeated me, but instead of killing me, he took me for himself. He never hurt me like the others, but I never enjoyed being with him. I guess I got used to it, and after a while I decided that it wasn’t that bad, at least he made me feel cherished, protected, safe, I endured our sex life because that made him happy, but I could have lived without that part.”
“I’m not Vasuman, and definitely I’m not Agmong. I won’t ask you to do something you don’t want, not ever. But if you want me with you, I will be. If you want me to protect your dreams I will. But believe me, you don’t need to give me anything in return.”
“But that’s not fair, you have done so many things for me, you should get something in return.”
“I have, today you gave me your trust, you confided your past to me. That is more than enough for me.”