That's Just Fucked Up
Queen Karla of Glacia glacial_queen
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The Queen's Chambers, Sidra, Glacia, Evening, Kaeleeran Time
An assassination attempt. There was no way around it, that's exactly what she'd faced today. Someone or someones had wanted her dead and had fabricated an elaborate scheme to get her isolated and vulnerable. With most of her First Circle and the most powerful Healers in Sidra en route to the mountains in the north, she would have been easy pickings for anyone who'd stumbled over her in the wake of the crash. Blood shields protected against invasive harm--none of the shards of glass or splintered wooden stakes would have penetrated--but that wouldn't have protected her from impact damage. The Coach had crashed and rolled with enough force to shatter bones, pulverize ribs, induce unconsciousness...With just Craft at their disposal, even if they had survived the crash, they likely wouldn't have been in any shape to pull themselves out of the River Sid. The depth and current alone claimed lives of several perfectly healthy people every year.

Wrapped once more in her warm, blue bathrobe, Karla sat in front of the fire and tried to make sense of everything. Her maid was hovering around her, trying to convince her to eat, but Karla wasn't interested in her food. Her stomach twisted at the very notion. Trying to figure out who wanted her dead? It might be easier trying to figure out who didn't.

Warren had finally gotten to a point where he could stand and walk without needing to take constant breaks to lean against things and remind his legs that they were still in proper working order. He'd also miraculously managed to get back to Kaeleer with only one stopover (blissfully short by the standards of the reality he'd been stuck in, several hours by Glacia's reckoning) along the way.

And now he was home. Home. One of his wings was still dragging unceremoniously behind him, and the other was slowly working on resembling a wing again. He was still streaked and smeared with blood, and every now and again he'd pause where he was walking to grasp at a piece of glass or stone or splintered wood or bone, and rip it free from skin that was having difficulty healing around it.

He was mostly sure it was good to be home, but he was somewhere between numb and homicidal, and if anything got in his way between the front door and Karla...

Anything, like, say...the Master of the Guard? Because Julian was definitely planning to get between Warren and Karla. In fact, Julian planned to get all up in Warren face.

Most other days, Julian would have seen the condition Warren was in and realized that he'd probably had a damn good reason not to have been around. But today was not most other days. Today his Queen had been attacked and injured. And when he looked at Warren, all he saw was the male who had sworn to defend and protect and then, when he'd been needed most, hadn't been there.

"You son of a whoring bitch!" Julian snarled, lunging at Warren, intending to slam him against whatever was closest, be it a wall or the floor or a decorative table. "Where the fuck have you been?!"

Warren ducked.

Warren didn't speak, or even snarl. He didn't give Julian the satisfaction of that much of a reply. There was somebody between him and Karla, and that somebody was actively slowing down his progress to Karla, and before he so much as dignified or even really processed Julian's snarling accusations, he had ducked, and stepped to the side, and tripped him up over his dragging wing before lunging in return to kick out the back of one of his knees.

Julian, attend.

"Dead," he answered in a low, too-calm voice, only once Julian's knees hit the floor. "I've been dead."

Go ahead and try that, Warren. You didn't hold his leash--Karla did. And Karla had been the one in danger today, while Warren had been off fucking around wherever he'd been for the past six weeks.

"You're about to be," Julian growled, turning his landing into a roll and then leaping back up to his feet. "You abandoned Karla! She nearly died!"

The fact that Warren's presence or absence likely wouldn't have mattered much one way or the other was vastly unimportant. Warren had sworn a vow, had accepted her blood, and when he'd been needed the most, he hadn't been there.

If he wanted 'been dead' to be an acceptable response, he should have stayed that way.

If Warren's voice had been all too calm a moment before, now it carried a chill in it, something ragged and cold and with absolutely no patience for accusations or taking more time to justify himself to Julian.

"Where is she?"

He wasn't going to ask for details. Details would take time. Julian would tell Warren where she was, or else he would go through him on his way to rip every room in the estate apart until he found her.

"Oh and now you care?" Julian lashed out, both verbally and with a fist towards Warren's face. "Where was that concern earlier, when people tried to assassinate her?!"

Oh, Julian. Now was a bad time for this. Warren snarled, planting his feet against the floor and simply lifting his hand to catch Julian's fist directly in front of his face.

This time, he used his other hand to swing back, hard, for Julian's stomach, claws digging deeply into the hand he'd just caught.

"Prince Hagen," he said, softly, "you will stand down. You, as Master of the Guard, were entrusted with our Queen's safety in my absence. Where were you at the time?"

He didn't have time for this. Somebody had tried to kill Karla. Warren was going to tear somebody's spleen out with his bare hands. But he couldn't do that with an enraged Warlord Prince taking swings at him.

Julian...did not seem at all ready to stand down, no. If Warren was going to grab onto his fist, Julian was more than happy to return the leg sweep from earlier.

"I had been sent by our Queen to provide emergency rescues to victims of an avalanche in the mountains!" he shouted. "Avalanches that didn't happen! Avalanches that had been made up in an attempt to isolate our Queen! Which she all but was, because you'd disappeared!"

Warren might have had his feet planted on the floor, but he was still hardly in any shape to avoid a leg-sweep from a pissed-off Warlord Prince. He went down, hard, landing on the flat of his back with a crunching sound that was all too telling of just how much progress his healing factor hadn't yet made.

His only consolation as he writhed on the floor, breath rushing from his lungs at the sudden reminder that he was still capable of feeling even more pain, was the fact that his claws had been well and truly pushed into Julian's hand, and he hadn't let go on his way down.

He did give a good yank once his wits returned to him a moment later, at least.

"And how is Karla right now? Is she safe? Have you found the parties responsible for the attempt on her life yet?"

Okay, so Julian could have lived without having his hand lacerated, but he had no problems falling onto the Consort--knee first. Into his sternum.

How's your hollow bones enjoy that, Warren?

"If you wanted to be kept in the loop, you should have been here for her! Been with her when she was attacked!"

Warren's hollow bones didn't enjoy that at all. His heart enjoyed it less, and there was a moment of held-breath horror where, in spite of all he'd been through and knowing that it took more than that to kill him, Warren couldn't help but gasp as he felt it stutter in his chest.

The hand that reached to grab Julian by the throat then was not putting up with any more shit.

"Hypocrite," he snarled. "I had Karla's blessing to be away, every bit as much as you did. We both failed her. And now you're keeping me from my Queen. You will let me to my feet, Prince Hagen, or I'll explain to her later why I had to tear out the throat of her Master of the Guard just to be able to see for myself that she's safe and well."

Warren's day had been worse than yours, Julian. Trust him on this.

"Prince Hagen, I am only going to say this once. Attend."

Julian didn't look like he was in any mood to listen, but the choice was taken right out of his hands.

"My lords!" A firm hand came over, pinching Julian's ear and dragging him off of Warren. It was Helene, the leader of the Black Widow coven that Karla had lived with years ago. "What is the meaning of this! Brawling! In the middle of the hall! I am ashamed of you!"

It was stupid for someone to interfere with a Warlord Prince on the killing edge, but if anyone could do it, it was an old and powerful Black Widow.

Warren didn't have a response right away, didn't have a reply as he remained on the floor long enough to let a few of the injuries Julian had inflicted on him try to start healing again. But really, most of them were going to have to get in line. He did curl into a ball on the floor for a moment, gasping as the pressure on his chest was relieved.

He wasn't too proud to breathe, no.

But once he had staggered to his feet again, he was willing to swallow what was left of his pride long enough to lean forward in a bow to Helene, as deep a bow as Protocol would allow him to give in this situation, ignoring the searing pain that tore through his wings and torso as he did so.

"My apologies for the disturbance," he said, not trying for a moment to justify it, and holding the bow the entire time he spoke. "Lady Helene, I hate to ask a favor so immediately after displaying such behavior, but I need to know; Where's Karla? Is she safe?"

"You look like you were just dragged facedown through Hell," Helene sniffed, smacking the back of Julian's head as he continued to struggle. It was more than just a physical slap, as Julian's eyes rolled backwards and he sagged against her.

Helene didn't have time for your bullshit, boyos. Either of you.

"Use your head boy! Where do you think she is? She's in her room. Resting." And her look suggested you should be as well, Warren. "And she's safe enough here. The estate is secure. Though what you think you could do about it in your condition is a bit beyond me."

Through Hell? Warren was contemplating getting a summer home in Hell. It sounded pleasant compared to where he'd been. He gave the faintest of nods, straightening up again and looking her in the eye.

"Probably not a lot," he at least had the decency to admit. "I was asking that much mostly for my own peace of mind."

He had a lot of monsters chewing at the doors up there at the moment. He needed something to hold on to.

"I'll seek out a Healer as soon as I let her know I'm home. I've been away from her for too long already, I can't let that go on another minute."

"See that you do," Helene said, snapping her fingers to float Julian's unconscious body several inches off the floor. "You look a mess and the last thing any of us need is to look vulnerable right now." She gave him another cross look. "And the next time you need to roll around on the floor to prove a point, do it in a room, where not just anyone can discover it. Let's not add public dissension in the ranks to our list of obvious weaknesses, hmm?"

Warren gave her a faint smile, the sort that said that he was properly chastened but too tired to grovel about it, before falling into another bow.

"Of course, Lady Helene. Again, my apologies. I do know better. I'm not at my best at the moment in any respect, but that isn't an excuse." He held that pose for a moment more, and then straightened himself up again. "I'll take my leave now and get out of sight before anyone else sees me."

Or before any of Karla's other males decided now was the perfect opportunity to take pieces out of him for having the gall to be otherwise indisposed this afternoon.

He was just lucky that he was obviously in such bad condition or it wouldn't only be Karla's males who wanted a piece of him. As it was, she just dismissed him with a nod and continued her stately walk down the halls, Julian floating behind her like a train.

"Oh and Warren," she cautioned just as she was turned a corner. "Use your head. The last thing you want is calling down yet even more trouble. Unless the outcome is worth it, of course."

Warren tilted his head at her for that one, quietly confused. Why would he call down more trouble? What was that vague tidbit of wisdom meant to mean?

He decided that he'd mull on it, and gave a slight nod of his head.

"Of course. I'll keep that in mind, thank you."


He'd forget within the hour.

Julian attacking him in the hall wasn't doing wonders for Warren's mood, but it did put him on a more singularly direct route to Karla. His wings would have been mantling at his sides, if he'd been capable of doing so. But there was a curl to his lip, baring teeth at anybody that he walked past in the hallway, and his hands were at his sides, fingers flexed, displaying his claws for anybody who got too close to see.

Outside the door to Karla's rooms, his, "Where is she?" snarl was likely loud enough to be heard through the door, the force behind it lingering, even as a few of the estate's unwitting staff stammered to explain that Karla was just inside, and she was going to be okay.

Warren didn't stand around to hear them out. He damn near took the door off its hinges as he opened it, though.

Raven had been hovering over Karla as well, refusing to leave her side since the assassination attempt. She'd begrudgingly allowed her to keep the bruises. Her own mood was almost as dark as Warren's, her demon side still close to the surface and itching to find who had been responsible for causing the accident. Daydreams about what she would do to them played through her mind.

When the door crashed open, she leapt between it and Karla, eyes flaring red. If someone was here to try to finish the job, they wouldn't survive taking another step toward Karla.

Warren stood there, taking silent stock of the scene set out in front of him. Raven's glowing eyes barely registered, though he did at least have the sense to realize when she was simply being protective.

He appreciated it.

"How is she?"

Raven relaxed noticeably as she recognized Warren, and she moved to the side so he could see Karla for himself.

"She will be fine," she said. "She suffered a concussion and a broken nose before I was able to teleport us from the Coach, but those injuries have been healed."

"She is also right here," Karla grouched. "And completely capable of speaking for herself."

Not that that grumbling was keeping her from leaping up from her chair and flinging herself at Warren, pausing at the very last second when she saw the miserable state he was in.

"Hell's fire and Mother Night!" Concerned fingertips reached out to brush over a cut on his cheek that still hadn't faded. "You look worse than I do! What happened?"

And with her dual black eyes, cut lip, and enough bruises to make her face and arms look like a patchwork quilt, that was saying something!

"They're called Sentinels," Warren replied, flatly, before reaching his own hand up to take Karla's. "That... it doesn't matter, right now. Are you okay? What can I do?"

Maybe make your next request be something light on the actual physical activity for at least a little while, Karla.

...Had he really said 'Sentinels?''

"I'm fine," Karla said, hesitantly wrapping her arms around him. "Raven healed me right up. I made her leave the bruises on my face and hands. I'm not going to hide what happened. I want everyone to be completely and utterly aware that there was an attempt on my life."

Warren nodded, gingerly folding his arms around her in turn. He leaned forward for a moment, too, to press a kiss against her forehead.

Leaning forward more than that was a painful proposition, and he had a little more healing to do before he could pretend he was at all okay when he did so.

"I understand," he murmured. "I'll be careful about what I touch your face and arms with until I get a chance to clean up some more."

"Should Raven...?" Karla asked, turning to look at Raven for permission to offer her skills. "You look terrible. Your Healing factor can't keep up."

"I would be pleased to help speed your healing along," Raven said, nodding to Karla.

"And with this recent attack upon her life, I think it would be for the best that you be in top condition in case there is another attack to come." Yes, she wasn't the least bit ashamed to use that tactic to get him to allow her to heal him.

Warren frowned a little, but he nodded, resigned. He couldn't argue that. He'd almost been ground into paste again on his way in, after all, by a Warlord Prince looking for somebody to blame.

"You don't have to be especially thorough," he noted. "Make sure my bones are set, please. I've got more bullets and shrapnel in me than I care to spend time worrying about tonight, but if you take care of my wings, at least, my own healing factor should be able to handle the rest."

Added bonus, he'd be able to actually grab Karla and fly if something were to attack them.

The only way Raven was going to accept not doing a full healing was because of his healing factor, so she nodded. She stepped to Warren's side and laid her hand gently on his arm, closing her eyes as she began to draw his injuries into herself.

She gasped in pain as she felt the extent of them, and her knees almost buckled. Sitting down for this would probably have been wise. Her power swept over his bones first before she turned her focus to his wings. Agony ripped through her back as she took the damage into herself. She didn't have wings, but it felt like she did now, broken ones.

She took as much as she could from him before pulling her hand away and staggering back unsteadily. Floor. Floor was good.

The floor was pretty great, wasn't it? Warren had spent a lot of time on various floors and patches of ground within the past 24 hours. He could relate. It was easier to care enough to try to relate, considering just how much relief he was feeling for the first time since the protest.

"Easy," he murmured as he gave his wings a tentative stretch, and then shifted them to rest at his shoulders. "It was bad, I know. If there's anything you need..."

Well, he'd figure it out.

"Thank you."

Unlike some people, Karla hadn't gotten so chummy with the floor recently as to be blasé about people toppling over. She leapt from Warren's side to catch Raven right as her legs gave up entirely and she started pitching backwards.

"Steady, steady," she said, gently lowering Raven to the ground. "I don't even want to know what you're feeling right now, do I? Just let it go, sweetheart."

Weird. There was just something about that phrase that just seemed right to use as a Queen of an icy country. Huh.

"Don't hold onto it a second longer than you have to."

"I am glad that I could help," Raven said wearily. "I just...I just need to rest for a moment."

Or a few hours. Maybe a day.

"You need a goddamn nap," Karla said sternly. She meant a full night's sleep and then some, but she figured that Raven could more easily be persuaded into a small rest than she would actually going to bed.

If they just happened to let her sleep for as long as she needed, well, that was just one of those things that happened, wasn't it.

"Why don't you go lie down," she urged. "Rest a bit. You can even lay down on the chaise in the small parlor in my suite. This way you'll still be close by if we need to call for you."

And she wouldn't have to expend any more energy getting back to her own chambers.

Hey now, Karla. He was better off, but he'd talked her down to only knitting his bones and patching his wings for a reason. Warren wasn't going to be leaping forward to catch someone in a fit of daring for another few hours, at least.

And he wasn't going to worry about not being able to until his heart stopped bleeding out, from there. It took him a moment to turn to face them both, even after Karla had jumped to Raven's aid.

"Here... we can help you get that far," he murmured quietly. Something like getting up and actually moving had to feel like a hopeless prospect. He could relate to that much, at least. "If you like."

"Yes, I should remain close," Raven said. The pain was slowly dissipating, but it left her dizzy and light-headed, and for once she wasn't going to argue.

She looked up at Warren. "I am glad you are back. I know Karla will be safe with you." Not that she didn't think Karla was fully capable of protecting herself, especially in her own chambers, but after what had just happened, she didn't want to take any chances.

"She will," Warren agreed with a firm nod, crouching down to offer Raven a shoulder to lean against so that he could escort her into the other room. "I'm sorry I wasn't here. I had meant to be back sooner..."

He ignored the pang in his chest as the reason why he hadn't been came back to him, and murmured as he helped Raven to her feet, "Thank you for being there for her."

Karla followed, helping Raven onto a chaise and calling in a blanket woven with warmth and soothing spells to tuck around her.

"Thank you for saving me today," she said, bending down to kiss Raven's forehead. "And everything else you do for us. Sleep now, darling, and we'll see you when you wake up."

Warren waited until Karla was finished tucking Raven in, and then reached for his fiancee's hand.

"Come on," he murmured, nodding back toward the other room. "She needs her rest, and you and I have a lot of catching up to do."

Karla nodded, clinging to his hand as if one of them might vanish if she let go. His four week trip had stretched out for six and then he'd come home battered and bruised to find her in a similar state.

A lot to catch up on indeed.

"What happened to you?" she demanded as soon as they were out of Raven's room and the door had been closed behind them. "You were supposed to be home days ago! A message and then nothing? Your world has Sentinels now?!" She shuddered, an image of Genosha rising in her memories until she could throttle it back.

"Apparently," Warren replied, frowning a little, shaking his head. "How is it that you know what they are?"

He hadn't had a clue. Apparently they had been a thing in his world for quite some time, but his father had kept him sheltered, and it wasn't as though they'd gone stomping around and killing people the way they had in the park, before.

Yeah, he wasn't exactly offering up details just yet. Considering he still barely knew what had happened to Karla while he was away, at least he was in good company, there.

Hey now. Warren had been worried about Karla for all of ten minutes now. The whole Court had been worried about Warren for weeks.

"Because Jono's world has them," she said quietly. "And I've seen what they can do. They destroyed an island called Genosha once." She shuddered. "Millions of mutants destroyed in minutes. Millions."

Licking her lips, she look back up at him. "Are you going back?"

He wasn't an X-Men, no, but if they'd called for him, she couldn't see him turning them away. Especially knowing what the Sentinels were capable of.

Warren swallowed heavily, shaking his head and wrapping his arms around himself. He managed to keep from shuddering, but there was a droop to his newly-mended wings that said practically the same thing.

"No point," he said, softly. "I'm dead."

"Dead?!" Karla asked. Her hand crept up to cover her mouth. "What do you mean, dead?"

Before Warren could answer, Inga, Karla's ladies maid, bustled back into the room, holding a tray with a steaming kettle and mug on it. "My lady, I brought you your tea. You didn't--" She stopped when she saw Warren. "My lord! You've returned!"

And looked terrible.

"I'll fetch your valet at once, my lord!"

"That won't be necessary," Karla declared. "I'll be helping Warren this evening. Please tell the rest of the staff that we are to remain undisturbed for the rest of the evening. Thank you, Inga."

"But, my lady, the tea--"

"You can set it down before you go," she said, trying not to snap. What did she care about stupid tea for? It was tea! She could brew a hundred pots if she wanted. "Thank you, Inga."

Warren watched as Inga made her way from the room, scurrying off as though the hounds of Hell itself were at her heels, before looking down at himself, still bare-chested and blood-smeared.

"I suppose I have been in better shape before," he allowed. "God, I just..." He paused, and then shook his head a little, dazed as the day's events caught up to him. "I'm sorry I wasn't here for you, Karla. I should have been."

Karla felt bad watching Inga flee the room, but honestly, Inga. Tea? What was so bloody important about tea?

It was just the whole assassination attempt thing. It had everyone acting as if the least task were suddenly of Monumental Importance, especially when it involved her.

"From what it sounds like, I'm just lucky you made it back alive. Mother Night, Warren, if I knew there were Sentinels, I don't think I would have let you go at all." Ignoring the blood smeared across his skin, Karla wrapped her arms around Warren and held him close. "I'm not actually sure I want the details of what happened to you back there."

"You probably don't," Warren allowed. "I don't entirely know if I'm ready to talk about it just yet. It's been a long day all over, I guess."

Apparently so.

"Can we just... get cleaned up and not worry about anything for a while? Sentinels, assassinations, any of it? We can let real life come back around in the morning, but right now, today has sucked, and I'm more than ready to call it done."

"That sounds like the perfect plan," Karla agreed softly. "C'mon, I'll scrub your back in the tub, deal?"

Leaning up on her tiptoes, she pressed her lips softly against Warren's, ignoring the brief flare of pain from the cut she was still sporting there. "I missed you."

Oh, Warren had needed that. He'd needed it perhaps more than even he had been aware, and his breath caught at that feeling, that warmth of her lips against his.

Whatever else was going on in the world, there was this. Whatever else had happened outside those doors, he had Karla.

He wrapped his arms around her, folded his wings forward around her, and then kissed her again, softly and tenderly and for a few seconds more.

"Missed you too," he murmured. "You know, you're going to have to pry yourself out of my arms from here on?"

"That sounds about perfect right now," Karla admitted. "Can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be."

She kissed him again, opening her mouth under his and holding him tightly to her. They had been six weeks apart, six weeks of loneliness and worry, and now several hours of adrenaline and fear. This was perfect.

Well, almost perfect.

"Except maybe in your arms in the bathtub," she admitted. "You need to wash, Worthington."

Warren chuckled, ducking his head a little to rest his forehead carefully against hers, even while his hands toyed at the belt holding her bathrobe shut.

"Then we'll start with that," he decided, dropping a few more kisses against her face before reaching to slip the robe down over her shoulders, letting it puddle at their feet on the floor. "And move on to forgetting about the rest of the world from there."

"Mmm," Karla said with a small shiver, tilting her head so he could nuzzle at her throat, too. "I think you've hit on the only thing that could redeem the events of the day."

Tugging on his hand, she lead him to the bathroom where a bit of Craft already had the huge tub filling with hot water. "C'mere," she said, her peeking up at him from under her lashes. "What do you say we get started on that forgetting right now?"

"I'd say," Warren purred, closing the bathroom door behind him, "that's probably the best suggestion anybody's had all day."

[Post 3/3 and thanks to everyone who read and, of course, to trigons_child and not_a_parakeet for being invaluable. NFI, NFB, OOc is love!]