In Which Trina Gives Mackenzie An Eyeful
The aftercare instructions didn’t mention bubble bath or salts but I still thought they weren’t a good idea. In fact, it pretty much consisted of “don’t play with the piercings” and “if they get dirty, sore, or start to bleed, re-apply the elixir.” Other than that, it just said to apply the elixir daily for seven days and then they’d be set.
Seven days… I wondered if they were going to be tender and raw that whole time. It hardly seemed worth it. I didn’t know how people with multiple piercings could stand doing it more than once
I skipped my robe, since I didn’t want it to get soaked, and simply hurried down to the bathroom in my wet underwear with my towel and robe in my hands. Feejee was dozing in her accustomed tub when I got into the bathroom. I did my best to be quiet and not wake her, but of course the water doesn’t come with a volume control.
“Hey, Mack,” she said sleepily as I was stripping off my slinging my wet stuff up over the curtain rod from inside the tub.
“Hey,” I said. “Have a good afternoon?”
I opened the curtain.
“I said, did you have a good afternoon?”
“Oh!” she said, in a heart-melting, face-scrunching tone of voice that sounded like it was saying, “You brought me puppies! My favorite!”, “Did you do all that for me?”
“What, the piercings?” I asked. “No, they’re for Amaranth.”
“No, I mean… you shaved all your hair off down there,” she said. “I had been thinking how much better it might be… when I saw, I thought maybe you were thinking…”
“That’s for Amaranth, too,” I said.
“I thought she was an herbivore,” Feejee said.
“It’s not for… it’s a sexual thing, okay?” I said.
“Oh,” Feejee said. “I thought that hair down there was. That’s why I assumed you getting rid of it meant you… well, never mind. I guess why you originally did it doesn’t matter. I appreciate it all the same.”
“Well, don’t,” I said. I remembered what Amaranth had said. “Oh, Amaranth wants to talk to you about… all that.”
“She does? Great,” Feejee said. “She seems really understanding. I’m sure we’ll be able to explain our position to her in a way that makes sense.”
“Yeah, um… I don’t think it’s going to go like that,” I said. “I think she’s looking for some kind of middle ground, though I can’t imagine what that would be.”
“Maybe if we just took half… ooh, wait. Are we sure she’s an herbivore?”
The door opened and Trina breezed past, talking into a very familiar-looking sleek black octagonal mirror case. I was so shocked by the sight that I didn’t close the curtain.
“Oh, my fucking Lord Khersis, Gladys, she’s showing off her new elven wax and tit piercings, and Feejee’s slobbering all over her,” Trina said, heading back towards the showers. “She used to be cool before she turned gay. It’s tragic.”
“Tell Amaranth we should talk soon,” Feejee said. “The sooner we get this done, the fewer people are going to think I’m gay for you.”
“Hey!” I yelled at Trina, stepping out of the tub. Feejee’s skewed priorities and her kneejerk not-gayness could wait. “Where’d you get that mirror?”
“Why?” Trina asked. “Do you want to break this one, too? My mom rushed it out to me so she could keep in touch with me, if it’s any of your business… which it’s not.”
“Oh,” I said. I supposed it might have simply been the same model from the same house, especially if Trina’s mom had ordered one locally for speedier delivery. As far as I knew mine was safely in my coat pocket, or on my dresser, or wherever I’d left it. “Sorry.”
“Can you believe this, Gladys?” Trina said into her mirror, turning back towards the showers. “The little freak is sorry my mom sent me a mirror, after she broke my last one.”
“That’s not… at least I don’t have a fat ass!” I yelled.
Trina froze with her hand on the shower curtain.
“I’m going to have to get back to you,” she said. She closed the compact and put it down on the bench, then turned around to face me. It was my turn to freeze. Her one bigger eye seemed to be bulging out of its socket as she stalked across the bathroom towards me. When she was eye to eye plus one with me, she let a snort of hot air out of her flared nostrils. “What did you say to me, you disgusting little feeb?”
“I… sorry,” I said.
“What are you doing, looking at my ass anyway?” Trina asked. “My ass is not here for you.”
“I’m sorry,” I sputtered. Amaranth was going to kill me. That would be her performance on Saturday. Killing me. “It was… it was rude and inappropriate and…”
“The only thing that’s stopping me from grabbing you by the hair and smashing your face into the first open toilet is I’d have to touch your hair, and there’s not enough soap in the world for that,” Trina said. “So instead I’m just going to tell you that everybody in the gladiator program knows your supposed ‘boyfriend’ is fucking that psycho barbarian coach.”
“Yeah, I’m sure you’d rather do that than fuck him, which is probably why he ended up with her,” Trina said. “Khersis knows she’s grody and scary enough as it is. Kills one student at the start of all her classes, just so the rest know she’s serious, you know.”
“If you wanted to convince me that Ian’s cheating, you should have shut your mouth after that,” I said. “Each thing that falls out of it is more ridiculous than the last thing that… fell out of it.”
“Oh, wow, witty comeback,” Trina said. “Were you there for the first day of her class? I don’t think so. Otherwise you would know that she cut some elven kid in half with his own axe for smarting off at her… the long way… and it wasn’t that big an axe!”
“She gets away with a lot of shit but she wouldn’t get away with murder,” I said. “Much less in every single one of her class.”
“Yeah, well, I heard that there’s a clause buried in the middle of the liability waivers that says that melee coaches can’t be held responsible for anything on the first day of class,” Trina said. “They call it the First Day Clause. It was put there because students would show up and start shit and get injured on purpose so they could sue, then dropped the class.”
“You heard? Trina, you had to have signed one of those things,” I said. “You have to know what’s in it and what’s not.”
“Who can tell, for sure?” Trina asked. “The way they’re written they could be anything. It’s all lawyers.”
“What does that even mean, ‘it’s all lawyers’? It’s a simple, straightforward… for fuck’s sake, it’s not even that long,” I said.
“Well, I’ve heard this from more than one person, so you’re calling all of them liars, and since you’re the demon I don’t thin you’re qualified to do that,” Trina said. “And whether or not she did kill one particular student, she’s definitely fucking your ‘boyfriend’.”
“Trina… that’s ridiculous,” I said. “And I want you to know the only reason I’m not kicking your ass is that I couldn’t do it without hurting you.”
“Oh,” Trina said. “Oh. You’re worried about hurting me.”
“Yeah, Trina, I am,” I said.
“You let a nymph beat you up,” she said.
“That’s… that’s not a very good characterization of what I do,” I said. “But the key word is ‘let’.”
“You’ve been in a fight like every day since you’ve been here and you’ve lost every one of them,” Trina said. “Mariel had you on the floor crying for mercy in like three seconds.”
“Fucking hell, Trina… do you believe every rumor you make up?” I asked.
“I don’t have to make shit up,” she said. “I just keep my eyes open and my ears to the ground. This is stuff everybody knows… like how the golem fought you off the first time you tried to rape it.”
I couldn’t answer that. It was taking every ounce of self control not to punch through her face. I remembered how badly I’d freaked her out when she’d caught sight of my flaming eyes when I was hungry. I pushed the anger I was feeling into a tight little ball and I lit up.
And Trina just stood there. She smiled smugly, reached into the pocket of her robe, whipped out a seasoning shaker, and threw a bunch of garlic salt in my face.
“Fuck!” I yelled. Eyes of fire may be cool looking, but they don’t do much to protect you from having particulate matter shoved into them.
“I toldyou I keep my ear to the ground,” Trina said, continuing to throw the seasoned salt at me, though luckily not in my face. “I know your secret weakness is garlic.”
“Fuck!” I yelled again. “Trina, it’s not a weakness… you threw salt in my fucking eyes.”
“Whatever, it’s totally your weakness,” she said, and she turned and walked back to the showers. “There’s plenty more where that came from, and I’ve always got it with me.”
“No, you idiot, my weaknesses are holy power and magic,” I said, my eyes squeezed shut. “That just fucking stings.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Trina yelled back. “Why would you tell me that if it were true?”
“You know, if you can get some garlic-infused olive oil, it might be even stronger,” Feejee called to Trina.
“Don’t freaking encourage her,” I said, trying to rub the stuff out of my eyes.
“Well, I don’t want her thinking I’m gay,” Feejee said. “And quit doing that, you need to flush them out. Turn off the water.”
The tub, which I’d forgotten about, was almost full now. Opening my eyes a sliver for a split second at a time, I found the knobs and shut it off as Feejee shifted her tail into legs and climbed out of hers. She grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the showers.
“I’m okay, Feejee, really,” I said.
“Quit touching your eyes, you’re only going to make it worse,” she said. “You need to stand under cold water and…”
“Fuck, no!” I said, pulling away.
“Lukewarm water, then,” she said.
“What’s wrong with hot?”
“I’m just saying what they taught me in my intro to alchemy lab,” Feejee said.
I heard Trina say, “Oh, I am fucking out of here,” as Feejee pulled me into the showers. A shower turned off, then another one turned on. Feejee put her hands on me and pushed me into an icy cold stream. Fuck.
“It’s about half hot, half cold,” she said, clearly lying or deluded. “Compromise. Tilt your face up like this,” she said, moving my head, “and open your eye.”
I forced my eye open, but the sight and sensation of water thudding into it as well as the sting forced it closed.
“Keep it open,” Feejee said. “Mother Ocean, you smell so damned good. Keep your eye open.”
It was weird and it was hard, but the water on my eye actually did seem to help, and then I did the other one for a bit.
“I’m just gonna…” Feejee murmured, and she stood behind me, her cool breasts pushing against my skin. I could feel her breathing in near my neck and the side of my face. The way she was standing, it was impossible to miss how similar her build was to Amaranth. Feejee was a little wider at the shounders and while she looked just as soft and feminine, her flesh was tauter and firmer all over, to say nothing of colder.
She was Amaranth without the softness and warmth, and full of sharp pointy danger instead of love.
But for all that she was chickenshit about being seen as gay, she’d reacted to seeing me in pain by administering the proper treatment. It seemed as hard for me to wrap my mind around her ability to see me as both a friend and a meal as it was for her to see the conflict there.
Her mouth closed around the side of my neck, her teeth flat and human. She murmured, the sound transmitting as a hum into my flesh. I moaned. She opened her mouth and withdrew a tiny bit.
“You know how I said… I didn’t want… that it was weird…?”
“Uh huh,” I murmured. My eyes still felt scratchy even with all the salt flushed out of them. I could taste garlic in my mouth, smell it in my nose.
I was unbelievably horny, considering I’d just been assaulted with spices. My butt tingled in memory of where Amaranth had spanked me.
“I think… I’m gonna…” she said, and then she bit down hard, with her still-untransformed teeth. I let out a yelp and that was all it took.
She stayed mostly human, except for her eyes and her teeth, and her teeth went everywhere. She licked my face, especially around my eyes, and everywhere else that the garlic salt had stuck, though it had long since dissolved and washed away.
As far as vivid illustrations of the difference between being invulnerable to harm and being invulnerable to pain went, having salt thrown in your eyes was a pretty good one… but it couldn’t hold a candle to having a predator tugging on a piece of metal jammed through a sensitive part of your anatomy.
The spell kept the piercings from coming undone and my own nature kept me from coming undone… it was a “something had to give” situation, and there was nothing to give but my ability to process pain.
I was coming hard before she even got below my legs, and when she did…
Or maybe eat.
Feejee looked even more self-conscious than she had after last time when she’d finally had enough. I was on my back in the middle of the showers, and she was getting to her feet.
“So,” she said. “That should get the garlic stuff out of your eyes.”
“Yeah,” I said, weakly. “Thanks.”
“I’m going back to my tub,” Feejee said. “Um…”
“I’m just going to go to bed,” I said.
“Celia hasn’t been back to the room the past two nights,” she said. “If you wanted…”
“No!” I said. “Thank you.”
“Oh, I’m not going to… I wouldn’t… not before I talk to Amaranth,” Feejee said. “I just thought…”
“It’s fine,” I said. “Thanks but no thanks. I have a lot of stuff to do tomorrow.”
“Well, okay,” she said.
I headed back towards the door, grabbed my robe and threw it on, scooped up my towel and my underwear and bolted out into the hall… where I almost collided with Kiersta, who was standing there cross-armed in flannel pajamas and bunny slippers, the perpetual dark circles around her eyes making her look like a belligerent panda.
Behind her was Trina with her shower kit, the Leightons with toothbrushes, and Oru with… something that might have been a hairbrush and might have been a bed of nails for a particularly disciplined hamster.
“Who else is in there?” Kiersta asked me.
“Get them,” she said.
I stepped back and opened the door a crack. “Feejee, uh, Kiersta wants to talk to us.”
“Can’t she come in here? I just…”
“Get out here now,” Kiersta said.
There was a splash as Feejee hurried to obey, joining us a few seconds later.
“Was it just the two of you?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said, ducking my head.
“Mack was trying to eat me!” Feejee blurted.
Kiersta gave her a look.
“The showers are not for sex,” she said.
“We weren’t!” Feejee said. “Oh, Kiersta, I swear I didn’t…”
“Neither are the bathtubs or the stalls or the lounge or anywhere else that’s not your own room, and if you’re that noisy, you can take a place in town,” Kiersta said.
“Kiersta, I swear…”
“Don’t swear,” Kiersta said. “Just don’t fuck in the showers. Everybody else has to use them. From now on, when you’re in the bathroom she isn’t. When she’s in the bathroom, you aren’t.”
“She sleeps in the bathroom!” I said.
“Not any more,” Kiersta said.
“What?” Feejee asked. “That’s not fair. I can’t sleep in a bed.”
“Get used to it,” Kiersta said. “It’s not fair to everyone else that you’re in there all the time, especially when… yeah.”
“I’m not fucking gay!” Feejee yelled. “I have a boyfriend. I like boys. I don’t like girls. I’m not gay.”
“Pipe down and go to bed,” Kiersta said. She turned to me. “Close your robe and go to bed. Everybody else, do what you need to do, the bathroom’s clear now. Unless there’s anything in there I should know about?”
“No,” I said.
“Good,” she said. “You two are going to be cleaning in there for a week.”
“But you said we can’t be in there at the same time,” I said.
“Alternate days,” she said.
“But that’s an odd number of days,” I said.
“Then you can do it for one week and she can do it for the next,” she said.
“I don’t even think you can do this!” I said.
“Yeah, I don’t think I can, either,” Kiersta said. “You want to come with me and help me look up what I’m really supposed to do when I catch you having sex in the public spaces?” I said nothing. “No? Then you can clean the bathroom for a week. I’ll tell housekeeping not to bother. Come see me tomorrow when you’re ready to do it and I’ll unlock the supply closet for you. No getting your golem to help.”
“Stop calling her my golem,” I said. “She has a name.”
“If you can call it that,” Kiersta said. “Look, I’m sick of dealing with everybody’s shit. People treat you badly, human oppression, I get all that… that’s no excuse for you people to act like animals all the damn time. It’s hard enough being a resident advisor in this dorm.”
“Yeah, poor you,” I said as she turned and opened the door to her room. Looking past her, I could see empty liquor bottles on the windowsill and dresser. “Oh, that’s nice. Room full of booze.”
“Hey, I have a racial exemption,” she said.
“Only fucking human in this madhouse,” she said.
“Hey!” Tara and Sara both said, having stuck around to watch while everybody else went about their business.
“You heard me,” Kiesta said, and she slammed her door.
The twins looked at each other, then looked at me and smiled evilly before heading for the bathroom. I turned to Feejee, the only person left out in the hall.
“I’m going to talk to Amaranth tomorrow,” she said. Her skin was tinged a more visible and less healthy green than normal. “Maybe once you’re… they won’t think I’m…”
She turned and headed into her own room without another word, leaving me alone.
“Oh, fuck!” one of the Leightons yelled from inside the bathroom. “Watch where the fuck you’re… oh my Khersis, all over the seat!”
It was going to be a long week.