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chapter ten | the beginning stages of hero worship

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"You're being melodramatic," Nettles hissed, face still hidden from Jean-Luc as the young man pulled her into the living room. "Keep my hood on, Bayard. If you don't, I will--"

She cut off with a startled yelp as he unceremoniously dumped her onto the couch, pain searing through her body and frying her nerves.

Bayard blinked down at her with a blank expression before turning to his parents. "I need bandages, hot water, and any of those... what do you call them?"

"You're going to have to cauterise it." Nettles jaw was clenched, the words barely escaping her lips. The hand that had held her side she now pulled away, and Jean-Luc could see the blood dripping down pale skin, falling through the air, splashing onto a wooden floor.

Alec and Lise were spurred into motion.

Bayard stepped back and leaned against the doorframe, his back to Jean-Luc, while Lise sat down next to Christine and started pushing aside her cloak. Her hands paused.

Hidden beneath the fabrics, the jagged edges of a broken arrow shaft was now revealed, buried in her left shoulder.

"I need a knife," Lise said, pulling away the roughly woven cloth that had been wrapped around their head, necks, shoulders, and around Nettles' wound. Lise tossed them onto the floor.

Nettles groaned as she moved her right hand to her side, fingers wrapping around a hilt and pulling out a sharp knife that she offered to Lise. "I used it earlier tonight."

"I noticed," Lise wryly remarked, eying the dirty blade, only sections of it able to glint in the firelight.

Bayard sighed long-sufferingly and straightened up. With a deft motion, he unsheathed a long knife and offered it hilt first to his mother. She took it and smiled gratefully, before slipping it beneath leather and cutting through Nettles' shirt.

"Get out, Bayard," Nettles commanded, opening one eye to glare at Lise's son. "And take the kid away."

Lise ignored her patient as Alec bustled back into the room, carrying bandages and water and several jars of unknown contents. Bayard frowned down at Nettles before whirling around, his gaze locking onto Jean-Luc's as if he'd known where Jean-Luc was the whole time.

Jean-Luc startled. He was almost sure Nettles hadn't noticed him.

Bayard looked down at his feet as he left the living room, calmly striding up the stairs. He scooped Jean-Luc up, the twelve-year-old too surprised to do anything except let out a yelp of protest.

"What are you doing?!"

Bayard had reached the top of the stairs and he dropped Jean-Luc roughly onto his feet. "Ants doesn't want you to see her, and neither do I. You can't forget something like this, so it's better not to see it."

Jean-Luc watched the older boy shrug off his coat as he navigated his way down the hall, away from the light. There had been a door Lise and Alec kept locked at all times, and Bayard bent down to study the lock as he pulled his shirt over his head.

There was blood on the shirt, Jean-Luc noticed, eyes wide as Bayard straightened up and removed long metal pins from his belt. He bent down again, inserting the pins and moving them around.

Jean-Luc walked closer. "What are you doing?"

"Unlocking my bedroom door." Bayard glanced at the younger boy. "I always lock it and throw away the keys. It's a necessary pain."

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