Vision in Silver Page 108

Despite his sister, Daphne, being shot and killed a couple of years ago, being able to hear the cars driving by hadn’t made him feel edgy. But he felt vulnerable now. He couldn’t rush forward to challenge an enemy or run fast enough to get out of the way if the enemy was too strong to face alone. Right now, he couldn’t protect his pack, couldn’t protect Meg.

He caught up to her when she reached the kitchen garden. It was, maybe, two stones’ throws from the Green complex, but he panted with the effort to walk even that far.

At least Meg seemed to be feeling better. Dr. Lorenzo had put a smaller bandage on her knee, mostly to keep it clean—and to discourage anyone from licking the healing cut.

He hadn’t licked the cut last night after Meg fell asleep on the sofa. Neither had Nathan. But licking her hand and foot, which had dangled off the sofa right in front of Wolf noses, had soothed them both enough that they could sleep for a couple of hours before their injuries made them hurt again. Didn’t seem like a bad thing to do, and if she’d been awake, he was sure Meg would have agreed to let them have a couple of licks for medicinal purposes, but maybe he should have asked permission first. After all, Meg was Meg, not a bottle of medicine.

“Look, Simon. The seeds we planted are sprouting!”

Little green things. Not edible yet. Wouldn’t be edible for weeks and weeks.

He wanted some water.

Simon looked at the pump nearby. The pump and the well had been there before the city had put in pipes for its utilities, and the Others still used that water, along with water gathered in rain barrels, for the food they planted.

<Meg? Water?>

<Meg will pump water for us?> Nathan asked, joining him.

She couldn’t hear terra indigene speech and he couldn’t shift to ask.

“Arroo?” Simon hobbled to the pump, followed by Nathan. “Arroo?”

Meg looked at the pump and then at the garden. She limped to the pump. “You think the plants need water?”

He didn’t know about the plants, but the Wolves would sure like some.

Nathan whined, then licked the pump’s spout.

“Oh, you want water.” Meg studied the pump for so long the Wolves sat down to wait.

“I wasn’t paying attention to the water when we planted the seed part of the garden, but I think I can do this,” she finally said.

Well, yes, she could work the pump, and water did come out. It wasn’t a trickle that could be lapped, and the bucket that should have been under the spout to catch the water wasn’t there. Eventually they got their drink, mostly from licking the water that was dripping off each other.

“Sorry,” Meg said. “There must be a trick to it.”

Simon stood there, unable to shake off the water because the movement would make his shoulders and forelegs hurt.

Someone coughed lightly.

He tried to pivot and almost lost his balance.

<It’s Vlad,> Nathan said.

Vlad let out a gusty sigh that sounded more like a laugh. “I leave the three of you alone for just a little while, and look what trouble you get into.”

<Didn’t get into trouble,> Simon growled. <Just got wet.>

“The bucket gets blown around, so it’s kept in the toolshed,” Vlad told Meg, pointing to the small structure.

“I wasn’t coming out to do anything except look at the garden,” she said. “But Simon and Nathan wanted a drink.” She looked at the Wolves. “You’re very wet.”

“They’ll dry,” Vlad said.

<See how much sympathy you get when Meg dumps water on you,> Simon grumbled.

<Meeting has been called,> Vlad said, no longer sounding amused. <There’s something you need to see before we decide what to do.>

<I can’t shift today.>

<No humans are invited to this meeting, so you don’t need to look human.>

<Meg shouldn’t be out here alone.> A Hawk passed over Simon, a reminder that there were terra indigene keeping watch.

<She won’t be alone. And we won’t be far. We’re meeting in my apartment.>

“Vlad?” Meg said, looking from the vampire to the Wolves.

“Business meeting. Simon is needed,” Vlad said easily.

“But he should rest today,” she protested.

“I know, but this can’t wait.”

She wanted to protect him, and that pleased Simon in all kinds of ways because he wanted to protect her too. But a leader couldn’t always be protected, so he started back toward the Green Complex and Vlad’s apartment.

Vlad talked to Meg for another minute, then caught up to him.

<Nathan will stay with her,> Vlad said.

<He can’t protect her against intruders.>

<No, he can’t, but he can sound the alarm if needed. And several of the ponies just showed up, including Tornado and Twister. No one will get near Meg while they’re grazing around the complex.>

Telling himself to be satisfied with that, Simon walked into Vlad’s apartment. When he saw who else was in the room, he knew this wasn’t just about yesterday’s attacks but something more . . . and worse.

*   *   *

Meg opened the door to the summer room beneath her apartment and waited for Nathan to go in. She hoped all the cuts on his face and forelegs would heal without scarring. It was upsetting enough to think of Henry, as man or Grizzly, with one scar along his right cheek. She didn’t want Nathan to look in the mirror every day and be reminded of human betrayal.

What did the Others think about her scars? Did the old scars matter to any of them except the few who understood what the number of scars meant to her life-span? What about humans? Was it difficult for them to look at her scars? She didn’t have any on her face, but the shorts and short-sleeve tops that were practical to wear in the summer revealed some of the scars on her arms and legs.

None of the humans who were her friends had said anything. Not to her anyway. What about the deliverymen? By wearing summer clothes, was she advertising that she was a cassandra sangue? With the plight of the girls who had been released and abandoned, and the mounting number of deaths caused by their inability to cope with the outside world, more people would understand the significance of evenly spaced scars. Wouldn’t they?

Although, now that she thought about it, the blood prophets weren’t being mentioned on the news or in the newspapers anymore. Now the news was about the foods that would be added to next month’s ration books and the shortages that were being predicted—and the accusations that the Others were to blame for the decrease in available food and the increase in prices. That didn’t have much effect on her. Except for pizza, she bought all her food from the Market Square stores, which were supplied by terra indigene farms, but Merri Lee and Ruth had said a couple of times that they were glad they were allowed to shop in the Market Square and even more relieved that they would receive a share of the food grown in the Courtyard.

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