Kystel took two and three steps at a time, and throwing the door to the roof open, ran to Ryall. He was where she had left him, pale and shivering. His dark wings were in constant change, colors and transparency. She watched in horror as his wings faded and then became solid again. There was no physical feeling when her wings appeared or disappeared. They were just there and then they were gone. There was no way to know what he felt or what it meant. He looked like he was hurting but was it the constant state of change or the injury? Kystel’s brown eyes filled with tears. She felt helpless. Ryall found her, brought her here. She had a home because of him.
“Look, this is pretty new to me. None of us have ever been injured where our gifts are involved. I’ve healed human injuries. I don’t know what it will do to his wings.” Emelia was frowning.
Kystel shook her head. “Don’t start thinking you’re gonna fail before you even try. You have to try – do something! Tell me what to do. Come on, Emelia!”
Emelia laid her hands on Ryall’s wings and closed her eyes. Kystel looked from her face to Ryall, hoping to see a change. Emelia made a small noise. “I can see it, it hurts.” she said quietly.
“This isn’t working. Kystel we need to try something. Take my hand in one of yours and leave the other on Ryall. Sloan, you got Lolly?”
Sloan moved up closer. “Yeah. She didn’t like waking up with me inside her head, but she’s with me now. Arkin and Ralph are on their way.”
Emelia looked at Kystel. “I don’t think I’m strong enough on my own.”
“I’m with you. We’re all with you!”
Arkin and Ralph ran to them. “Ryall! What happened?”
Kystel, not moving, said, “No time – come here and put a hand on him.”
Lolly silently eased into the circle around Ryall. “Being in Sloan’s head wasn’t enough.” She grasped Sloan’s hand and placed her other hand on Ryall who was writhing with the changes. Emelia looked at each one and nodded. She closed her eyes and Kystel glanced at her, then holding tight to each other’s hands, and to Ryall they closed their eyes. This time something happened.
The air smelled of summer, fireflies, grass, and honeysuckle. Heavy and electric summer thunderstorm, when the heart beats a little faster because you know something is going to happen. A soft breeze lifting hair, rustling clothes, between them, through them, surrounding them until they were connected but separate. Silence thick, ear popping, Kystel wanted to scream but there was no sound in this place.
The globe Emelia wore around her neck, at first cool and pink, then glowing purple to deepest blue. The tiny copper rings around it were spinning faster and faster. Blue and green sparkling light, flowing out and holding them in place. Thoughts piercing through Kystel. Lolly and Sloan’s voices together, Emelia taking on Ryalls’ pain and sending herself out to all of them, Arkin, a piece of self, cloaked and dark, Ralph all laughter and wires and machines. She wanted to run away from the intensity, ebbing and flowing with the solidity of Ryall’s wings..
Ryall arched his back, as though something pulled him and then Emelia slumped against Kystel. The glow faded until nothing was left but sparks floating up into the dark.
Ryall opened his eyes. “What just happened?” He said weakly.
Kystel squeezed the hand she was still holding tightly. “Oh Ryall, you’re okay!” Everyone was grinning and starting to talk at once. Everyone but Emelia. Kystel still had one arm around her. Sloan and Arkin moved to help her. Emelia whispered. “Did we do it?”
Sloan picked her up. “Yes we did. You did! Let’s get you something to drink and to bed!”
“Sounds good.” She was pale and let her head fall on Sloan’s shoulder.
“Go ahead, Sloan. Take her down. The rest of us will take care of Ryall.” Kystel was shivering and looking around, realized that they all were going to need rest. Power was work and power had changed them. This was going to need thinking about later. For now she was just grateful that Ryall was safe and uninjured. They helped him up and stumbled down the stairs to the great room where Ralph’s workshop was. They were exhausted but not ready to let go of each other. Emelia was already asleep on a pile of blankets, Sloan curled up nearby.
“Kystel I hope you are up to cooking in the morning. I think I could eat a gazillion of your pancakes.” Ralph grinned and climbed up on his workbench, wrapping his coat around him and pulling his goggles over his eyes. This wasn’t the first time he had slept on his bench.
“Sure Ralph. In the morning.” Kystel yawned and pulled a quilt over Ryall on the couch. He was asleep almost immediately. She laid down on the floor in front of the couch, not wanting to get too far from him tonight. The rest found places to crash and they slept as a family, realizing maybe for the first time, how much they needed each other.
Arkin snuffed out the lamp and in the dark no one could see Lolly as she stared at the spot where Ryall slept holding Kystel’s hand. In the dark, she let the hurt and anger grow a little. She had been fighting it since Kystel arrived. Who was she kidding? Ryall barely noticed her now. Nothing was ever going to be the same.