I hope you enjoyed Renee and Frei rescuing Abby in the previous episode. One of the parts I love about writing scenes is when our little Missourian decides she’s popping in to say hi.
As, always, please excuse the typos.
Act 3 Scene 11
Renee winced as she splashed cold water onto her face. Now that she’d had the antidote for the venom, she could breathe far better but her eyes were still stinging. She could see blurry shapes so it made moving around a bit easier—she clunked her elbow on the bathroom cabinet and sighed—easier but a lot like her sight had been when she’d been declared MIA.
“Blondie, you doin’ okay in there?” Aunt Bess called through the door. “Or do I need to rescue you from the soap?”
Renee let through a pathetic chuckle. Her stomach clenched with panic. She ran a check of her visual field, wriggling her own fingers until she could see them. Her mouth dried until her tongue felt sticky. She had no visual field beyond a small window directly in the center.
“Blondie?” Aunt Bess called again.
“Fine,” Renee mumbled trying to keep the tears out of her voice. “Just assaulted the cabinet.”
She fumbled for the faucet and turned it on again, washed her face hoping it would hide the tears bubbling up.
The door opened and she grabbed for the towel to her right… somewhere… only to punch the rail.
“Blondie, as much as the rail can take you getting feisty, your paw ain’t gonna appreciate the bruises.” Aunt Bess took hold of her hand with her own warm, soft, big one and Renee tried to hold the tears in. They were much like Aeron’s hands but softer. “You looking like you need cookies.”
“I can’t see,” she managed and held onto the sink with her free hand. “I couldn’t see before.”
“Icy told me,” Aunt Bess said with a kind, gentle tone. “I don’t much like that you were in such a pickle.”
Renee shrugged. “I’m still in a pickle.” She tried to smile. “I know everyone who loves Aeron feels the same.”
“I get fretful about it but then I remind myself that Momma will be taking care of Shorty and that…” Aunt Bess pulled Renee’s hand to her heart. “In here… I know she’s okay… In a pickle maybe… but we’ll find her and rescue her.”
Renee peered up at the blurry shape of Aunt Bess’s face. “In here,” she said, pointing to her own chest. “I feel the same but—” she tapped her head, “—this isn’t listening.”
Aunt Bess chuckled. “That’s because you’re thinking too much with it.” She took Renee’s face in her warm hands. “They looking hurt… You need to see Susan.”
“I can’t see her,” Renee said and shook her head and Aunt Bess’s hands with it. “She was my POI. I had to make her believe we were in a relationship.”
“I got that but she’s kinda interested in Icy,” Aunt Bess said with a confused tone. “An’ Icy is interested in her, I’m sure of it… but then she’s also with that fella and…” She chuckled. “Reminds me of when I was a teenager. I was sneaking out to see a fella on O’Reilly’s farm… but I kinda met this other fella I liked as much.” She waved her hand around. “I weren’t sure which one I wanted.”
Renee tried to focus on Aunt Bess’s words—a way to make her feel calmer, a kind gentle way to offset the hurt—but it wasn’t working. “You weren’t?”
“Nope, but then they both found out and decided to get feisty with each other.” She let out an exasperated laugh. “I got involved and pulled them apart. Neither liked me much then.”
“Why?” Renee desperately tried to concentrate on each word but her tears were brimming again.
“Boys don’t like much being picked off their feet in front of other folks,” Aunt Bess said. “I’d grown a lot over the months I was sneakin’.”
Renee hugged herself. “Aeron was shorter until she was committed. She didn’t grow until she was in Serenity.”
“She takes after me with that. I was a skinny-butt twig until I was nearly heading off to the military.” Aunt Bess squeezed her by the shoulders. “Momma could still heckle me whatever height I grew. She’d just fix me with her eyes and I’d go scuttling up to my room.” She tapped her pockets. “Need a sweet.”
“In your sock.” Renee went to lean down to retrieve them only to stop when she couldn’t tell what was Aunt Bess and what was the towel rail.
“I got them,” Aunt Bess said then tutted. “Now, you were saying ‘bout Susan?”
Renee chuckled in spite of the heavy feeling in her chest. “Yes, I know she has so much trouble with her memory. I don’t really want her to get confused… or remember me and try and perform surgery.”
“Guess…” Aunt Bess said around her sweet by the muffled sound. “Want me to take a picture and show it to her?”
Renee shook her head. “The light damaged my retina. Doctor, surgeon or not, it’s not going to heal.”
“There you go thinkin’ with that head of yours again,” Aunt Bess said and her blurred shape moved to what looked like the doorway. “Shorty would heckle.”
Renee turned back to the sink as Aunt Bess closed the door and let a tear drip free. “Shorty would probably try and fix me then nearly drown herself washing it away.”
Her St. Christopher’s warmed against her skin and the image of Aeron holding onto her face when she’d healed her in St. Jude’s flooded her mind. Warm hands on her face, love pouring through them, light filled her heart because, even locked in her mind, Aeron’s love, energy, sheer electricity from her presence surged deep into her and pulled her to the surface.
She placed her hands in the water and closed her eyes.
St. Jude’s, before they headed to Black Ridge Mountain, the sun streamed through the windows to the Heroes’ Hideout. Aeron hadn’t been able to say much since she’d found out Renee had bought her the place. Then Aeron had fitted and Renee had been worrying and hadn’t slept much.
“I… er… you want me to get you somethin’?” Aeron said with an awkward smile and rubbed the back of her neck with her hand as Renee wandered into the living room.
“A conversation?” She mumbled trying to sound grumpy but the smile on her face must have given her away. Aeron had tried to make dinner… with some help from Zack. “You made me dinner?”
Aeron blushed then pointed to the plates and then shrugged. “You need to eat.” She rubbed her the back of her neck again. “You should eat.”
Renee wandered over and surveyed the food, love thudding through her enough that she felt like giggling. Instead she smiled up at Aeron with every happiness she felt. “Are you eating with me?”
Aeron shrugged and scrunched up her toes. “Zack thinks you don’t eat enough.”
“Does he?” She studied soft brown eyes then leaned up and smiled. “And what ‘bout you, Lorelei?”
“I eat.” She rubbed her stomach but as though it was wriggling more than because she was hungry. “I just didn’t want you to think…” She blushed then scrunched her toes again. “My stomach likes your cookin’…” She stared down at her toes. “I wanted your stomach to get fed too.”
Renee ducked her head to catch Aeron’s gaze feeling the warm of it bathe her like a smooth reinvigorating shower. “Uh huh.”
Aeron’s eyes deepened. “You know… that… Zack an’ me… well… we like you for more than just food.”
Renee cocked her head. “Do you?”
“Sure, he likes that you take him for milkshakes too.” Aeron nodded then blushed then studied her toes again.
Renee placed her hand to Aeron’s diaphragm sending love through her touch. “And what about you… are you going to talk to me?”
Aeron closed her eyes and let out a long happy sigh. “Nope.”
“Then I guess I’d better eat dinner.” She leaned up and kissed Aeron on the chin, lingered enough her skin prickled with the electricity. “Thank you.”
Aeron wobbled and held onto the counter. “He got you milkshake too.”
Renee looked up from surveying the very soggy fries, some kind of salad swimming in water or grease from the fries and a milkshake. “You cooked them?”
“No, I kinda needed to ask Martha.” Aeron took a seat to the side of her, close, so that Renee could feel their toes brush against each other. It shot more joy through her. “… She put some kinda sauce on it for you.”
So Martha and Zack were trying to help Aeron open up then.
“I should go eat with her then, huh?” Renee reached out and gave Aeron’s hand a squeeze.
“You could if you want to,” Aeron mumbled then shrugged as she stared at her own plate. “You don’t have to eat with me.”
“I want to eat with you, dimwit.” Renee took Aeron’s hand and kissed the knuckles, held it to her cheek her forehead and lips again. Energy wriggled up and she let go. Professional. She was meant to be professional.
Aeron’s breathing punctuated the silence. “I like eating with you too.”
Renee winked at her. “You going to try that conversation?”
Aeron stared down at her plate. “Nope.”
Renee chuckled and leaned on her fist as she ate. Aeron’s toes were next to hers, her knee close to hers, her hand on the table within reach and… maybe… without conversation, Aeron was saying more.
Renee pulled her hands from the water, seeing how it shimmered over her grazed and bruised skin. She could see the towel rail to her right without moving her gaze and the wall to her left. She felt her heart find a gentle rhythm, her stomach muscles relax, and she slumped onto the edge of the bath.
“How did you manage to help me even without being here?” She muttered to the room. She felt the St. Christopher’s warm again then smiled. “Hopefully, I’m helping you too, dimwit.”
Aeron’s smile flitted across her mind and she dried off and headed out to find Aunt Bess.
“Thought with your heart then,” Aunt Bess said without so much as looking up from making dinner. Oddly, it looked a lot like the dinner Martha had made. “I got the idea to make fries. Hope you’re hungry.”
Renee’s stomach grumbled as Aeron’s always did and Aeron’s smile flitted across her vision again. “You and your stomach, Lorelei,” she whispered and went to help with setting out the plates. “You and your stomach.”