198: Reflections Of Love

on April 17, 2008 in Book 8

In Which Mackenzie’s Hotness Is Remarked Upon

Saturday, Calendula 3rd, 222 (late morning)

Before we left the library, Amaranth excused herself to go use the public mirror, with a list of law firms in hand. Two had already headed back to Harlowe about an hour before, due to her prior commitments with Hazel. That had taken me by surprise, though I’d known she had plans. It was just jarring to hear her announce that she was going off on her own, of her own volition.

It was good for her… but it was jarring.

I didn’t expect Amaranth to have much luck in h search, but she was all smiles when she came back.

“Two tomorrow,” she said.

“What?”

“That’s when we’re meeting your attorney,” she said. “Or rather, the first prospective attorney. We’ll see how the meeting goes.”

“How did you get an appointment for Sunday, and on one day’s notice?” I asked. I chose to ignore for the time being the implications of “first prospective.”

“It was pretty easy, once I found one that wasn’t just redirected to an answering service,” Amaranth said. “Mr. Jenkins knew exactly who you were, and I told him that you were already meeting with another firm on Monday but you would prefer to speak to somebody sooner, if that was possible.”

“But that’s not true,” I said.

“Wouldn’t you prefer to speak to somebody sooner?” Amaranth asked. “You can’t be afraid to use your strengths when you’re negotiating, baby… and you’re a hot property, so to speak. If you had a publicly listed mirror, you’d probably be fighting off offers already. ”

I didn’t say anything. This was exactly why I didn’t want to deal with lawyers in the first place. I wondered if it was too late to tell the school to forget the whole thing and pretend it had never happened.

“Oh, don’t go all pouty,” Amaranth said. She put her arms around me, and I felt a little better.

“I’m not pouty,” I said. “I just don’t want to spend half my college career dealing with lawyers.”

“I promise, we’ll get this done as fast as we can,” Amaranth said. “But that means you can’t drag your feet.”

“I’m not dragging my feet,” I said.

“And don’t be contrary,” Amaranth said.

“I am not being…” I started to say, but Amaranth cut me off with a stern look over the rim of her glasses. I started to duck my head, before I noticed her lip quivering. She burst out laughing.

“So cute,” she said, and she kissed me on the nose then twirled away and started walking towards the doors, swaying as if she were dancing to music only she could hear.

The sight of her so completely happy made me feel ridiculously happy myself.

The night before, she’d been so badly burned that her body might have died, if not for the actions of Steff and Dee… and it had been my fault. She could insist it had been her decision to throw herself on top of me all that she wanted, but I had made that decision necessary.

There was no hate in her, though, and not even a trace of anger. She’d slept on top of me as naturally as if I was her mattress, or she was my blanket.

It was love, of course. Love was like that, apparently. It seemed absolutely incredible to me that any force in the world could be powerful enough to let us overcome everything that had happened, but if something had to be, it was no surprise at all that it was love.

“Baby, are you coming?” Amaranth asked from the doors, and I realized I hadn’t taken a single step after her. I ran to catch up, almost stumbling over my feet. “Careful,” she said. “Don’t hurt yourself.” She giggled. “It’s a good thing you’re invulnerable. I don’t think you’d make it through the day otherwise.”

I blushed.

“Anyway, it’s your day,” Amaranth said. “What do you want to do for lunch? Cafeteria… food court… order something in?”

“Can we see what Ian’s doing?” I asked.

“We can do anything you want,” she said. “But if you don’t mind, let’s go back to Harlowe first. I want to check in on Mariel, and Dee.”

“Do you think Mariel wants to be checked in on?” I asked.

“There’s really no reason we couldn’t be her friend again,” Amaranth said. “Don’t you remember how it was back during the first week? When everybody was getting along?”

I thought her memory of the first weekend was somewhat idealized; our group had been somewhat fractured to begin with, with Puddy establishing Barley and Mariel as “hers” and trying her hardest to put me in that category. Barley had put up with it probably in part because it gave her a connection to people that was her own, not Amaranth’s… and definitely in part because she’d wanted a “shot” at me.

Amaranth had a pleading look on her face, though, that I don’t think was exactly directed at me. She was pleading with life. She wanted to believe that things had been okay back then and they could be okay again.

“Well, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to be nice,” I said.

“Of course it wouldn’t,” Amaranth said.

“Hey… can we order pizza?” I asked. “For lunch, I mean.”

I regretted it as soon as I said it. We certainly didn’t have unlimited funds between us, and Amaranth couldn’t or wouldn’t eat anything with animal products. We’d essentially be getting a whole pizza just for me.

“Of course, baby,” Amaranth said. “We can see who else is up that wants to get in on it. Maybe Shiel or Oru will split a cheeseless pizza with me.”

“Can you get cheeseless pizza?”

“Well, I don’t see why not,” Amaranth said. “I think if you’re paying for somebody to make something for you, they’ll pretty much do whatever you want with it.”

“Okay,” I said.

“You still want to talk to Ian, though, right?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Before we order. We can see if he’s doing anything.”

When we got back to Harlowe, Amaranth went to Dee’s room and knocked softly on the door. She waited several seconds without receiving a response, and then knocked again, louder.

“Dee?” she said. “It’s Amaranth.”

“If she was awake, she would already know it was you,” I pointed out.

“Hush, baby,” she said. She knocked again. “Dee? We’re just checking to make sure you’re okay.”

“She’s a pretty light sleeper, normally,” I said. “Maybe she’s not in there?”

Amaranth frowned.

“I’m sure she’s fine,” I said. “Elves don’t get sick.”

“That’s what worries me,” Amaranth said. “She took a lot of sunlight yesterday. Do you know what that does to her people?”

I shook my head.

“Neither do I,” she said.

She chewed on her lip a bit before apparently deciding there was nothing left for us to do. She stopped and checked back in her own room, but Mariel had left it with the door unlocked and her keys on the bed. “Poor dear,” Amaranth said. “I hope she’s okay.”

A door opened as we headed back into the hall, and Sara and Tara stepped out. It sounded like they were mid-bicker, but they stopped when they saw us and then started laughing.

I started to duck back into Amaranth’s room, but she put her hand on my shoulder and held me in place.

“Hi!” she said to the twins. “We were thinking about ordering some pizza. Would you guys like to pitch in?”

“‘Ordering pizza’?” Sara asked, in a big exaggerated “What is this ‘pizza’ of which you speak?” fashion. “Is that some kind of weird sex thing?”

“I think it is,” Tara said. “I think that’s where like, one person lies on the ground and the other one takes a dump in their mouth, or something.”

“Fucking nasty,” Sara said, and then she said something that I couldn’t understand at all, which made Tara laugh. They headed past us down the hall.

“You could just say no,” Amaranth said, which made them snicker. “We won’t be ordering for a bit, if you change your minds!” she called as they disappeared into the stairwell.

I was a little irritated that Amaranth had invited them to join us without checking with me, when it was supposed to be “my day.” When I looked at Amaranth and saw the disappointed and confused look on her face, though, I just couldn’t be mad.

“It bothers you that there’s people who don’t like you,” I said. “I mean, it really bothers you.”

“Well… not just me,” Amaranth said. “I really don’t see why everyone can’t treat each other better, but really… I’m nice, aren’t I? I mean, I’m a pleasant person.”

“I think so,” I said. “But I might be biased.”

She giggled at that.

“You go talk to Ian,” she said. “I’ll see who I can round up for pizza.”

“Um…”

“What?” she asked. “Go ahead and say it.”

“You don’t have to, you know, ask everybody,” I said.

“Oh, don’t worry,” Amaranth said. “I’ve made my outreach attempt for the day.”

I went over to the alcove by the lounge where the public mirror was. Given that Ian’s dorm had mirrors in the rooms and that intra-campus use was free, I really probably should have taken advantage of it more often. So far I’d only used it when I had a specific purpose in mind, like inviting Ian over for meals. Would it kill me to use it just to talk, sometimes?

Of course, it wasn’t like he lived in another province or something. I knew where his room was. I could just go over and say “hey” if I felt like it.

But would he appreciate that? Me popping over unannounced? Especially considering I had access to a mirror that I never really used… what was the protocol here? My dubious second-hand knowledge of relationships told me that guys didn’t like girls who “smothered” them, but I was so far from smothering Ian it wasn’t funny. The question was, how close was I supposed to get?

“Baby, did you talk to Ian?” Amaranth asked, making me jump. I saw her standing behind me, in the mirror. “Oru, Shiel, Honey, Hazel, and Two are all in, but we need to get moving if the pizza’s going to be here before Two has to leave. Also, Hazel needs to use the mirror after we make the order.”

“Sorry,” I said. “I guess I spaced.”

Amaranth gave me a look of concern.

“You’re doing that a lot today,” she said. “Are you okay? If you want to talk about anything… like anything that happened yesterday…”

I shook my head. I’d made it through my ordeals. We’d come through our trial by fire together. There was no sense reliving any of it. Some of it, I’d probably have to go over with lawyers and the arbitration committee, anyway.

“I’m fine,” I said. “Just… thinking a lot about stuff.”

“Oh, okay,” Amaranth said. “Just don’t dwell. You do pretty good, when you don’t overthink.”

“I know,” I said. How to explain it to her? I was as happy as I could ever remember being, and I wasn’t sure how to handle it. As problems went, that wasn’t a terrible one to have. “It’s not bad stuff I’m thinking about, really… just… relationship stuff.”

“Well, don’t overthink that, either,” Amaranth said. She kissed me. “You have people who love you, and whom you love in turn. That’s really all that matters, in the long run.”

“Do you really believe that?”

“Yes,” she said. “Absolutely. More than I believe anything else. Love is the main thing, and all the rest is details.”

“Yeah, well, I like having the details worked out,” I said.

She gave me something that was between a pat on the butt and a swat.

“Make your reflection,” she said. “I’m going to see if I can get a response from Dee again.”

“Okay,” I said.

She left me alone, and I asked the mirror for Ian. It took him a while to answer, and I’d almost given up when he came through.

He was shirtless, and his hair was messier than normal. So cute. He looked like he’d just woken up, too, which made him cuter.

When he failed to stifle a yawn and then asked, “What are you doing up so early?” I realized that there was a very good reason for this.

“It’s after eleven,” I said.

“On Saturday,” Ian said. “Don’t you ever sleep in?”

“Two gets up pretty early, and that usually wakes me up,” I said. “Don’t you have a roommate, too?”

“He’s asleep,” Ian said. There was a grunt of protest from out of frame. “Or was. What’s this about?”

“I just wanted to see you,” I said, and his look of irritation softened.

“Oh,” he said. He looked a little embarrassed, actually. He was edging back towards cute.

“We’re going to order some pizza,” I said. “You want to, um, come over?”

“Sure,” he said. “Are you… um… still…?”

“Am I still what?” I asked. He blushed, and then I did, too, realizing what he meant. “I don’t know,” I admitted. I usually bled for just under four days, but very little had gone according to plan or schedule for the past week.

“You don’t know?”

“We can check,” I said. I quickly corrected myself. “I can check. Before you get over here. It should be done now, if it wasn’t already.”

“Oh,” he said. “Okay.”

I reflected that even if my period never gave me problems again, it would be more inconvenient from here on out simply because for the first time in my life there were other events I might want to schedule for the same venue. That could get annoying fast.

“So… how’d your thing go?” Ian asked.

“My thing?”

“Last night,” he said. “The senate election.”

“Oh,” I said. It seemed odd to me that he alone didn’t know all about this already, and it hit me how out of the loop he was. I really needed to start using the mirror more often. “I didn’t win.”

“Sorry.”

“It was another tie,” I said. “There was this whole tiebreaker thing but it was just leading to another headache I didn’t have time for, so I conceded.”

“Oh.”

“There’s more,” I said. “But I’d rather not say it out in the hallway.”

“Okay,” he said. “Just let me throw on a shirt and some pants…”

“You’re not wearing pants?” The image cut off above his waist.

He blushed. I blushed.

“I was asleep!” he said. There were more noises from out of frame, and then a pillow hit Ian in the back of the head. “Look, I’ve really got to get dressed and get out of here. I’ll see you in a bit, okay?”

“Okay.”

“Bye, Mackenzie.”

“Goodbye,” I said, as he leaned forward to wave the reflection away. “I love you, Ian.”

I saw the surprise on his face in the moments before the image dissolved completely.

Fuck.


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9 Responses to “198: Reflections Of Love”

  1. Anthony says:

    Oops. Too soon to pull out the L-word?

    Current score: 2
  2. MentalBlank says:

    Anyone else think Amy missed the perfect chance to say “All you need is Love.” ?

    Current score: 2
    • zeel says:

      Hey now, we got enough of that with the Gazebo of Darkness.

      Current score: 0
  3. Cadnawes says:

    The best time to pull out the L-word is when you didn’t have time to self censor. one of the many things I’ve leearned in life; it’s preferable to sieze the day in matters of the heart than to not say what you feel when you should, and sometimes even when you shouldn’t.

    Current score: 8
  4. nobody says:

    Mr. Jenkins

    My first thought was to hope that his first name is Leeroy.

    Current score: 3
    • Mike says:

      Yeah, before the original comments went away there’s was a huge thing about that.

      Current score: 1