Monday, 30 November 2009 - 9:25 pm

Little bit of love

I snuck upstairs this morning. Masterson was downstairs, talking with Kostoya, so I took the opportunity to see how Sally was doing. She’s had plenty of time to rest.

The baby is doing well. He wakes, he eats, he makes a mess, and then he sleeps again. He isn’t any more complicated than that, and I’m hoping that whatever was keeping the boys deep in conversation will bear that out.

His mother isn’t so good. I peeked into her room to see if she was asleep – I’m not cruel enough to wake her – and she was gazing listlessly at the ceiling. That was all the invitation I needed; I let myself in and went over to the bedside.

There’s something about that room that makes you step lightly. A hush, as if the walls might reach out and shush you at any moment. Perhaps it’s the softness of Sally’s breathing or the quiet left by the lack of the baby’s crying. I looked around for him, but the cot was empty and he wasn’t lying with his mother. Janice probably had him somewhere; she seems to have stepped into the role of nanny for now.

When I looked at Sally, I forgot about the baby. My curiosity about him fled as sickened concern rose in the back of my throat. She was grey. Grey and slightly clammy. What the hell had the baby done to her?

I swallowed and forced up a smile when her eyes stumbled sideways to find me. “Hey,” I said softly – no speaking loudly in this room, not now – and took her hand. It was cool and damp, but not in a good way.

She smiled when she saw me and her fingers closed around mine. She seemed glad to see me; that’s the only reason I pulled the chair over and sat down. She was so small and lonely in that bed, deflated and… wrong. She didn’t look good at all. I tried not to think about the Sickness, about poison and creeping undeath.

“How’re you doing?” I had to ask. What else was there to say? Of course I had to ask.

“The baby’s fine,” she said. It seemed important to her that I know that. “I’m all right. David says I lost a lot of blood, that’s all. He found some medicine somewhere, though. It’ll all be fine.” She smiled again, the expression trembling on her lips as if ready to topple off with her next breath.

I didn’t tell her where Masterson got the medical supplies. I knew he’d never thank me for it, or for any of the things I’d stolen from Haven’s infirmary. I was just glad that all the stress and danger was worth it. Helping Sally made it worth it.

“Good,” I said instead. I wanted to ask more, but she seemed so fragile that I turned the conversation elsewhere. I told her about the others asking after her. She said she missed them; she’s very lonely up here, I think. Shy, retiring Sally has grown used to people and misses their company now. I promised to send them up, a few at a time, so she’d always have someone to talk to.

“David looks after me,” she said at one point. She was very insistent about it, as if afraid that I thought he was neglecting her. I did think that sometimes – he makes sure she’s in good health, but he’s clumsy with her heart. His hands are calloused and she needs gentler handling than she’ll ever ask for. I used to wonder why she stayed with him, beyond the need to have someone, but I don’t think she’d know what to do with real tenderness. She’d run away from it and hide. I think there’s a part of her that believes she deserves rough treatment; she knows it and is comfortable with it. Anything else frightens her.

She makes me look at myself in odd ways sometimes, and that’s not something I enjoy doing. Our reflections are not always kind.

Desperate to change the subject, I asked her if she had named the baby yet.

Her whole face changed. Not just her expression – it’s as if the girl behind it brightened several shades. She’s a mother now and that shines through the pallor of her skin; she wants nothing more than to be what that baby needs and loves. Her free hand roamed about the bedcovers restlessly, as if searching for where the tiny body might have got to.

“Not yet. David’s been so busy, with the tests and everything, we haven’t had a chance to talk about it.”

It was touching that she didn’t want to name the baby without him. She wanted the child to be theirs. Masterson might be resistant but I have the feeling that she’ll get him to engage eventually.

“Do you have any ideas yet?”

She went quiet and looked down at our hands. Teeth chewed absently on her lower lip. “I’ve been thinking about it. I’d like… do you think it would be okay if I named him Felix?”

Felix is a cat’s name: that’s the first thought that came to mind and I bit down on the urge to say it. I blinked at her vaguely and shrugged. “Sure, why wouldn’t it be?” The name meant nothing else to me.

“It’s… it’s Sax’s name.”

I blinked at her in surprise. Of course, I knew that Sax had had a real name. What was surprising was that she knew it. I looked down at our hands, processing that and trying to think past the sudden lump in my throat. Sally and Sax had wavered between being friends and completely at odds – I remember that he was hard on her at one point. Then they spent time on the boat together with Masterson, while the rest of us went to Dillon’s house, and came to an understanding. I had no idea they had become that close.

She could see my confusion, because she added, “He was more of a father to me than my dad.”

I looked up at her and was struck by the plea in her expression. She was desperate for some kind of approval, scared that she was doing something wrong or bad. I think she was frightened of it being some kind of mistake that would doom her poor boy.

I smiled at her and squeezed her hand. “I think it’s perfect. You should give him a name that means something to you.” I couldn’t give her much, but reassurance was easy. The wrinkled red baby was nothing like the big black fella, but that didn’t make it inappropriate. It wasn’t about that.

“You don’t think the others will mind?”

“The others will love it.”

She looked relieved and relaxed back on her pillows. I hadn’t realised how tense she was until then. How long had she been worrying over this? “Do you think David will like it?”

“I’m really the wrong person to ask about that. I seldom know what he’s thinking.” I managed to keep my tone light; I didn’t want the awkwardness between me and her man to make things hard for her. “Are you giving him his father’s name as well?”

“As well? You mean, as a middle name?”

I nodded and Sally looked at me blankly.

“I hadn’t thought about it. We could.”

“He might like that.”

She smiled again and we were both relieved.


We talked about unimportant things until she started to look tired, then I excused myself so she could rest. I closed the doors behind me and turned around, and almost walked right into Masterson. He was standing there in the hall, his glare fixed fully upon me. His mouth opened to say something – probably for me to keep away from his girl – but I beat him to it.

“Is she going to be okay?”

He stared at me for a moment and the muscle at the corner of his jaw twitched. He swallowed back whatever he was originally going to say. “Probably.” As answers go, it wasn’t very reassuring.

I had to ask. “Is it just blood loss?”

His gaze flicked away from me. “At the moment.” I couldn’t tell whether or not he was lying.

I had a million other questions for him. I had so much I wanted to say, all those ways I think he’s wrong or needs to change. But he was having a hard time, too. Somewhere deep under his scowls and snapping words, he was struggling with this. I couldn’t pile more on top of him, even if he might deserve it.

“If she needs anything – anything at all – just ask, okay? Any of us. The others are worried. You’re not alone in this.”

He wanted to argue with me but he held it back. I could see it brimming behind his teeth. “Are you done?” he said instead.

I nodded and he pushed past me. I’m not sure what I had hoped for, but I didn’t get it. I hate that dealing with him leaves me feeling so rocked and reeling, like an emotional weeble given a hard shove.


There was a dull ache under my sternum when I went back downstairs, and I went to seek Matt out. I needed a hug and the glow his affection gives me. I needed to remember what love looked and felt and tasted like.

“How do you do that?” I asked after he kissed me. I leaned on him and felt like I could breathe again.

“Do what?”

“Know exactly what I need.”

He smiled and pulled me closer. “Magic. And a little bit of love.”

I couldn’t help it; I smiled back. “Just a little bit?”