Project ZEAL

Scene 37 - Lenina Crown (chronotriggerfreak)

The knocking at Garg's door was faint, but he heard it clearly. He'd been waiting for it since the elder and Eyram Green had left his room an hour ago. His reply, an invitation to enter, was just as soft, but the caller at his door heard it just as well. The door inched forward and the elder's secretary slipped in, slowly pushing the door shut until it clicked. Meticulous, it was. That's what Garg liked about this one so much.

She turned to face him and they stared intently at each other for a while. The corners of Garg's lips curled downward a bit, and she seemed to recognize this; her gaze grew more and more anxious. He was upsetting her, and with damn good reason, he thought. She'll soon learn what it means to screw and screw with Garg Wardell.

It wasn't long before she cracked, broke down into a fit of sobs and incoherent mutterings and rushed to him, arms outstretched, taking it for granted that he would catch her, hold her close and whisper assurances into her ear. But he didn't stand up, and when she fell down on her knees and wrapped herself around his neck, he didn't move. She could cry into his shoulder all she wanted, but he wasn't moving, and every second she continued to blubber about, the risk of some passerby noticing the sound increased -- just what she had been trying to avoid in her careful entry.

She seemed to realize this, as her bawling trailed off and she backed up, looking inquisitively at him. He tried to stay sober, but it was difficult. He turned his head to the side, glancing into her eyes, as puffy and watery as they were. He wouldn't give any sign of emotion, no, but damn if he couldn't help thinking that she was a pretty one all right, and if ever there was a one worth keeping it'd be her. Too bad he couldn't.

"What's wrong?" she sniffed.

"You come in here howling and leaking your face all over my shoulder and you're asking me what's wrong!" he said. "Bloody hell, Lenina, I thought you were more fashionable than this."

Lenina broke out wailing again, choked out her words in between sobs. "What happened, Garg? What did they say?"

"It's not what they said, girl. It's what you didn't say."

She shook her head, not understanding. Garg snorted.

"You come in here as prim as can be and all you say is 'Elder'll be here soon.' Nothing more, not a word."

"B -- but, Eyram, Mr. G -- Green -- "

"Don't give me that. You know perfectly well as do I that you were deliberately aloof as possible. Tell me, did the elder say he was kicking me out? That he was going to let Eyram run the case without my testimony and take the spoils for his own eldership? What did you know!"

"Garg, I -- I don't un -- understand, I just -- "

"Or did he know he was too much of a plum fool, and that he'd screw up the case, and so he was going to kill me and drop the matter before it became public embarrassment? Tell me!"

Lenina couldn't stand to face him anymore, buried her head in her hands. Garg stood up, kicked a thing or two around. He'd been saving up all this cruel rage since she walked off earlier, but he hadn't thought to be this angry with her. He must have been channeling some of his anger at that smug Eyram Green, too. Either way, he was letting it all out now.

She finally composed herself enough to let out a whole sentence in one breath. "Garg, please don't be so angry with me... I l-love you..."

He rounded on her, slammed his foot upon his chair and leaned forward on his knee, drawing as close as he could to her face without touching her. "Not one person has ever loved me, and I think I'll be able to tell the difference when one does." He stared into her eyes, already regretting how far he'd taken this whole ordeal, and searched for the hint of deceit in them, the sign that she knew what she had gotten herself into and would be able to get over it soon enough, that she knew he was right and she'd be fine with it. When he found that, he held onto it, because it was the only thing preventing him from breaking down.

She had touched a nerve, all right, and it was an acid touch. Even as he tried to concentrate on the purpose of things, he found his stance deteriorating. The thought of his parents never did anything but destroy him. They loved each other, sure, and they had treated him fine, but they never had any love left over for him. He knew that. If they had loved him, it was guaranteed that his families would love him now, but they obviously didn't. They had disinherited him, and for what? To come crawling back twenty years later, when they realized that he had a shot at becoming more of a lasting legend than they could have collectively in their entire lives? And Garg had patronized them, had let them in on the fame and fortune, all because he was too compassionate, too human to deny them because of his dead parents' negligence.

The dead parents who wanted him to study interregional law years ago...

"Get out," Garg said.


"I said--"

"Shut up, Garg, and listen to me, for your own damn good."

Garg dropped the deceit and saw the spite in her eyes. She held some malice, too, it seemed, and Garg noticed that she was still pretty even with her face all scrunched up.

"You want the truth? Honestly, you're a bitter asshole and the only reason I argued with the elder not to throw you out was because you know how to please a girl."

A game, that's what it had all been. She'd only just begun to play her part. Well, Garg wasn't going to let her take her crown.

"Doll-face knows how to hate, huh?"

She slapped him and stood up, storming away. She was serious, but that didn't make it any less of a game, and the simple fact was that she didn't realize it soon enough to win. She turned around at the door.

"I'm not surprised no one ever loved you. You'd probably have no idea of how to react and wind up slitting their throat, you miserable thief."

It was a strong blow, all right. Garg commended her for playing valiantly, but still, it took more than that to make a last-minute comeback against Garg Wardell.

"Listen, Queen Leene, would you mind doing your job while you're busy running away? Tell the elder that he couldn't throw me out if he wanted to, because with or without his funding, I've already got a ticket for the next ferry to Porre and I sent my formal request for schooling to the dean there a week ago. I leave in an hour, toots."

She slammed the door behind her.

* * *

The image of Garg's victorious grin burned in Lenina's mind. If she had something to throw at him, she'd have taken out one of his eyes, or maybe walked closer and took a shot somewhere lower on his body. She rushed past the main desk, grabbed her coat and, without stopping, made for the exit.

"Idine," she called over her shoulder to the other secretary at the desk.

"Ms. Crown?"

"Tell Elder Openhal I'm out for the day, Idine, and that if that Gargeth Wardell hasn't made good on his promise to get the hell out of here when I come back tomorrow, I'll get rid of him myself."

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