Mary stopped outside a door. “Okay, just don’t freak out. Promise me?”
“I promise, but why—”
She opened the door and strode in. After a short hesitation, Beth followed.
She gasped at what she saw.
“No freaking out! You promised,” Mary reminded her.
Storm was lying on his front, shirtless, his wings limp and their tips falling off the bed he lay on. That wasn’t what shocked Beth, however; a large red stain of a substance that was quite obviously blood pooled around him.
“Is he okay?” Beth asked, worried.
“He’s fine. This is normal,” Mary said as she walked over to his bedside.
She picked up a syringe from the bedside table and dropped it carefully in the rubbish bin. She sat on the edge of the bed.
“Storm?” Mary said. “Storm?” she asked, slightly louder. “Shem?” Now, her tone and intonation was different, like the language that Storm himself spoke.
“Don’t call me that,” came the mumbled response.
“So you do yet live,” she said. Beth noticed in her voice how relieved she was as she said the words. Storm said nothing in response. “Baby?”
“What?” he finally said. He still hadn’t actually moved though.
“How are you feeling?” Mary asked.
“Just fine. Now, fuck off.”
“No. Jibby wants to know when you’re next coming to see her.”
“Whenever I have time,” he muttered.
“Oh, baby, don’t be like that. Your niece wants to see you.”
“She’s not my niece.”
“Just as I’m not your sister but we may as well be.”
He grunted in response. Mary trailed the tips of her fingers through the white feathers of his wing, finally getting a physical reaction from him as his right wing twitched.
“Your tricks won’t work, woman,” he said.
“They usually do, angel,” Mary grinned as she kept her fingers on his feathers.
He flicked his wing at her, in an attempt to get her to stop.
“Do I have to go and get Noah?” Mary asked, finally sounding irritated.
“No,” came the immediate response, “you don’t need to get Noah.”
“Cunning little witch,” he said as he began to move a little bit.
“Don’t you know it,” Mary replied with a wide grin.
Storm shuffled his wings around, stretching them before letting them settle back in place against his skin. He slowly sat up. He turned his head to Mary and whispered something that Beth didn’t hear. In response to whatever he said, Mary clutched his hand tightly and gave him a reassuring smile.
“Hello, Beth,” Storm said as he reached across to the bedside table for his blade that was stabbed into the wood.
“Hi,” she murmured.
He got off the bed and walked over to the dresser, all without facing Beth. He reached for a cigarette and put it to his lips, lighting it and holding it between his lips while he opened one of the drawers and pulled out a shirt.
It was at this point that Storm finally turned around. Beth stifled another gasp at the sight of a long, thin puckering red line. This was obviously the source of all the blood. It ran from just below his right collarbone, down to his left hip in a slightly curved line.