It took forever to get to the hospital, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to find once I got there. I trusted Kimball to save our son, but part of me still felt afraid that something could have gone wrong. I felt like I was failing them again, I felt like I should have used my powers to see the future and assess the risks, or even gone with them and used my powers to keep Ethan stable, but I haven’t, and all I could do was trust that Kimball would keep our son alive.
The psychic headache had finally arrived and I had a constant and painful ache that had forced me activate my suppressor, not because it took the pain away, but because it helped keep my powers from trying to make it worse. The downside was that, even surrounded by loyal people, people I trusted, I was feeling insecure and fearful, scared that something could happen to me and I would be unable to fight it back. After a battle like the one I had endured, I preferred to go and hide in a safe place to recover, but I couldn’t do that, I had different priorities, and the main one was Ethan, I had to make sure he was ok.
As soon as we arrived at the hospital, I noticed that something was going on in there, the tension was so strong that I could feel it, even without my powers. I noticed some of my men there, even a few that I haven’t realized that had already left the school, but had obviously left before me. I watched the hospital workers running around, looking with fear at my men and just the soldiers in the place.
“I think you still have a few patients waiting for you in that area,” Khalid told a young nurse when she tried to get to the area he was guarding.
“We usually attend people depending on how bad their injuries are, not by the order they arrive, and the men that just arrived…” she was trying to explain.
“Their injuries are not important, the scratches and bruises on the teachers and students are a bigger priority that the injuries of those who hurt them,” Khalid said, his cold voice making it clear he wasn’t going to discuss it, but the nurse was not ready to let it go.
“If those men are not treated right away, they could die because of their injuries,” the nurse said, trying to get around Khalid. I had to recognize her bravery, she really cared about her patients an her job, no matter what kind of people her patients were, or maybe she just didn’t see those men as the bad guys.
“If your wish of saving the warriors that had no problem hurting innocents is keeping you from helping those innocents, maybe I should just get rid of them so you could focus on your job,” I said, getting closer to where they were talking.
“That won’t be necessary,” the nurse said, her voice betraying her fear. “I will go back to the students.”
“Do you know where Ethan is?” I asked Khalid. Trying to ignore the nurse that was getting away from us as fast as she could.
“I think he is in the OR,” he said, “but the one who knows is Mbali, I can take you to where she is,” Khalid offered, and I nodded my agreement. As we walked away, I saw the nurse beside the door to the student’s room, and I knew she was going to try and get to the injured guards as soon as she had a chance, ignoring our warnings.
“Ivan gave me a list of the people you wanted to keep alive for interrogation, and they are already stabilized, a few other guards are still holding, but I assure you, none of them is going to be able to get away. Our people is inside and around the hospital, keeping it safe and making sure no one can get in or out without our saying,” Khalid informed me.
“It doesn’t seem fair that while Ethan is fighting for his life, the people who helped put him there is ok,” I said, angry ant the unfairness of it all.
“Let’s be truly fair, and recognize that no one involved with hurting him is alive, the only ones still breathing are the ones you chose to keep alive, the rest didn’t even make it outside the auditorium.”
“That’s how it should be,” I said, without an ounce of remorse for my actions, just remembering Ethan in a pool of his own blood was enough to make my own blood boil.
We turned around a corner and found Mbali coming our way.
“I’m glad I found you, they were moved to a private room, and everything is supposed to be fine,” she said as soon as she realized it was me.
“They?” I asked.
“Kimball gave his blood to Ethan, and the doctors put him on bed rest until he recovers from it, it was a lot of blood.”
“He will be fine in a few minutes, I have witnessed him recovering from worse, I’m not worried,” I said, earning a look from Mbali that I couldn’t decipher. Was she mad at me for not being worried about Kimball? Or was she agreeing that he would be fine in no time?
“Here we are,” she said, pointing to a door. I got in and the first thing I saw was Ethan in a middle of a bed. I felt conflicted, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to feel relief that he was alive, or guilt that it had been my actions that had put him there in the first place. I kept failing him.
“Kaiserin? Is that you?” Kimball asked from another bed, he sounded like he wasn’t sure I could be there. Unlike Ethan, he was sitting on the bed, and looked well. I knew there was nothing to worry about him.
“How are you? I heard you gave your blood to Ethan?”
“He needed blood, and we couldn’t waste time. I knew I was a match and I couldn’t risk anyone else giving him blood and him having a reaction to it. Kaiserin, you did a good job,” he said, sincerely, and I couldn’t understand why he would say something like that. “You know that my family’s regeneration can be a great aid or a curse, he could have started healing the wrong way, closing his vein shut, but because of your actions, because his blood kept flowing, the vein was already repairing itself as it should. The surgery was a success, they repaired what was left of the damage easily. With the help of the doctors and my blood, he will be just fine.”
I wasn’t sure that what I had done had helped that much, but he was already convinced that I had, and nothing I said would make him change his mind. I just let the knowledge that Ethan was safe reach me and make me feel better. I went to his side and took his hand between mine, he kept sleeping, and I knew he would stay asleep for a while longer, thanks to the anesthesia.
“There are a few of my men cleaning up the school, and Thalia is there to make sure that the guards that we post there are only loyal to us, so this won’t happen again,” I told Kimball.
“I’m sure everything will be fine. We knew that after Faakhir’s death, something like this could happen, there’s many people interested in his position. Things like this just happen,” Kimball said, and I knew he was just trying to ease my guilt, but knowing that something like this could happen, and still letting it happen made me feel even worse.
“I made a lot of mistakes, and those mistakes could have taken Ethan’s life.”
“You were doing your best, that’s all you can do. You can’t blame yourself for what other people did.”
“I could have done a better job at preventing them. I was sure I had it under control, I have no idea how I managed to let things get so out of hand. I allowed Ethan to take unnecessary risks, you know that,” I was waiting for him to berate me, to recriminate me for my actions or lack of them. It wouldn’t be the first time I had been accused of being a bad mother, and part of me wanted someone to tell me that and confirm what I was thinking.
“I think part of this was my fault,” Kimball surprised me by saying. “I know what happened in there. I think I pushed Ethan too far by denying him his freedom to fight, he acted like that because he was trying to prove himself, and I know that you supported him in that, that’s why you allowed him to act like that, to prove something to me.”
“And all I managed to do was put him at risk. I know Ethan needs more freedom to act, and I know he’s strong and capable and maybe that’s why it was so difficult for us to see how much it was costing him to act like that.”
“You mean, how difficult it was for me to see it, you have already told me that Ethan needed more freedom, but once he found his friends I thought he would be ok.”
“I agreed that he needed to hide his abilities,” I didn’t like Kimball blaming himself, even if I agreed with part of what he was saying, “it was the role he had to play to stay safe. When I took control of the Dominion, the last thing on my mind was how Ethan could stop pretending to be weak, it never occurred to me to change his role, he had to take control of his own life and change his role by himself. Now, all we can do is see what is going to happen to him and how the new dynamics play out.”
“None of us thought about Ethan and how his circumstances had changed, we both failed him.”
“I feel guilty that he had to take things into his own hands. I never wanted Ethan’s life to be like mine, I wanted things to be better, and I failed him, he has suffered just by being my child.”
“Ethan is eleven years old, same age as you when you had to fight and kill your way out of the Burrows, isn’t it?”
“Ethan was only five when Faakhir tried to use him against me, and eight when Jonas kidnapped and tortured him. I should have done something to spare him, and I didn’t, I failed him. Just like I failed him today.”
“What happened today couldn’t be avoided, but maybe it could be a good thing. After what happened today, people will think twice before trying to hurt him to get to you. Most of the guards died, and those who survived won’t talk again or will have other sequels from the fight for the rest of their lives.”
“How do you know all that if you stayed with Ethan?”
“Mbali kept me up to date, telling me what the reports were saying.”
“I’m scared that this is only the beginning, that there will be more attacks. My men are working on preventing something like this from happening again, but I’m afraid it won’t be possible, like it wasn’t possible to prevent what happened today. There are so many dangers, so many things that could go wrong.”
“Today was bad, but we will learn from our mistakes and won’t make them again, soon everything will be back in its place. Before the year is over, we will bring Sophia back, with everything that implies. There won’t be more fear or tyranny, we will be free, and happy.”
“I don’t think it will be that easy. There’s a lot of work to do, a lot to rebuild.”
“It won’t be easy, I know, but we will make it. It will be ok,” Kimball got out of the bed and took my hand, dragging me back with him. “How’s your head? You have the suppressor on, right?”
“The pain is under control. You know it’s normal to have a headache after a fight like the one I had, but it will pass.”
“You should take the chance to rest for a while, I will wake you up as soon as Ethan does.”
“There’s still a lot to do,” I protested.
“Maybe, but you have capable people working for you, and you can spare a couple of hours to rest. I can see that you are in pain, it’s not only the headache, your body also hurts. So take a few minutes to rest, and give your body a chance to get better.”
“Just for a moment,” I accepted, but as always happened with Kimball, a sense of wellbeing surrounded me, making me feel so safe and relaxed that I fell asleep.
I woke up a few hours later, when Kimball got out of bed. When I opened my eyes, I saw that Ethan was awake, and Kimball was with him.
“Are you in pain?” Kimball asked, and Ethan made a gesture, so, so. “The damage was extensive, but you will be fine. It’s one of the advantages of being a hybrid, right?” Ethan tried to smile, but his face contorted in pain. “Try not to talk or move too much, at least for today. We had to put a suppressor on you, I wasn’t sure how much you had used your powers, but I was pretty sure that you abused your powers and didn’t want you to have a psychic headache making everything worse and working against your recovery.”
“With the way he fought the guards and everything else he did, I’m pretty sure he must be feeling a headache,” I told Kimball. Ethan looked at me, as if he was just realizing I was in the room. He tried to smile again, and he moved his lips, mouthing the words: Thank you for helping me. “I should have done more…” I started to say, but Ethan was already shaking his head and hurting himself in the process.
“I think that Ethan doesn’t blame you for what happened, same as I don’t. Now that Ethan is awake, I will start working on getting him moved to the Palace. I will feel better if he is in a more controlled environment,” Kimball said.
“I think that’s a great idea. I will go and walk around the hospital, I have to check on our prisoners. I will catch up with you later.”
“That’s a good idea, is best if you are not seen with Ethan, that they don’t see your interest in him,” Kimball agreed.
“Ethan,” I said, getting closer to his bed, “I’m proud of you and what you did today. I want you to know that you are a great warrior and I couldn’t ask more from you, you were perfect.” Ethan threw his arms around my neck and hugged me, surprising me with his speed, I was expecting him to be too hurt to move like that, but I should have known better than to underestimate my son, he was strong, and he would recover from his injuries in no time.