203: In The Golden Afternoon

on April 26, 2008 in Book 8

In Which Mackenzie Promises

Saturday, Calendula 3rd (afternoon)

Although I would have been very happy to spend the entire afternoon lounging against Amaranth’s warm, nude form in the company of friends, the gathering had to break apart sooner or later. Ian had to meet his fellow band members and Amaranth wanted to get a jump on her weekend’s work so she could be free on Sunday.

Before he left, Ian hashed out the details of our meeting for later with Andreas, and then I frittered away the rest of the afternoon reading through the parts of my history text that would have been covered in the weeks I’d missed, doing my logic problems, and playing around with ideas for the reflectiveness spell I was working on in enhancements.

It was sort of relaxing. I had hours to fill and I was able to go from one subject to another as I pleased. In its own way, this was as nice as the little pizza party and bull session had been. I liked having friends but I was used to being alone, to being stretched out on my bed with a stack of books alongside me. Being confined to the healing center had chafed because it had been against my will, but a few hours of solitude in my own room, on my own bed, on my own time? That was golden.

I found myself missing Steff at odd moments, though.

I didn’t resent her time with Viktor. Apart from over night, when presumably they had to sleep at least a little bit, I probably saw her as much as he did during the week. I got the feeling they went for quality over quantity with their time together… rather than spending every minute of their lives with each other, they aimed for intensity of experience.

My thoughts of Steff were interrupted by a quick, light rap on the door. I wondered for a moment if it would turn out to be her, if she had been missing me too… but then I looked through the peephole and saw Sooni, with her mountain of braids piled between her fox ears and her most plastic of smiles painted on her face.

I considered for a moment pretending I wasn’t in, but I hadn’t exactly been stealthy in running to check the door. The last thing I wanted was for her to pitch a screaming fit right outside my door because she thought I was giving her the cold shoulder.

“Can I help you?” I asked through the closed door.

“We have to talk about our strategy,” she said.

I opened the door a bit, but stayed in the opening so she wouldn’t take it as an invitation to come in.

She was wearing her tiny two piece bathing suit, and had her hair cap in her hand. I wondered how much enchantment the top had, to keep her boobs from spilling out. I stared at them, unable to believe they wouldn’t pop out at any second.

“Well?” Sooni asked.

“They’re nice,” I said without thinking.

Strategy!” she said. “But thank you.”

“Uh, yeah… can we do that tomorrow?” I asked. I was glad that she was apparently taking my offer to work together to heart, but I didn’t want to deal with her at the moment. “I’m kind of taking a ‘me’ day today.”

“Oh, you are so selfish, Mackenzie!” Sooni said, though she seemed positively overjoyed to observe this. “Anyway, tomorrow will be too late. Come swimming with me.”

“I told you I don’t even have a suit,” I said. “And I thought the senate meeting isn’t until Monday.”

“I’m not talking about the senate meeting!” she said. “This is much more important than that!”

I stared at her. Was she serious?

“Sooni, if the next sentence that comes out your mouth includes the words ‘science’ and ‘princess’, I’m shutting the door in your face,” I said.

“But there’s no TV in the lounge and we’ll miss Pretty Neko Science Princess!

I sighed.

“Why don’t you just go into town and buy yourself a TV?” I asked.

“My father has forbidden it,” she said.

“So? Buy one anyway,” I said. “It’s not like he’d know.”

“My father has forbidden it,” Sooni said, very slowly. “And besides, I have already spent most of my money on… other things.”

“That’s really too bad,” I said. “I guess we’ll have to wait for summer reruns.”

“You are such a bad fan!” Sooni said.

“There’s ten other lounges in this hall alone,” I said. “We’ll just go downstairs and try the big one in the basement. I bet nobody else will be up at five in the morning on Sunday unless they’re going to temple, anyway.”

It took me a moment to realize I’d said “we”. Well, that couldn’t be helped now.

“I do not want to count on your ‘bet’!” Sooni said. “What about a back-up plan?”

“Then we’ll try another lounge,” I said. “Okay?”

“Who do you know that has a TV set?”

“I don’t know,” I said. Oru and Shiel had a small one, I remembered, but I didn’t know them that well. “Nobody I feel like waking up at five in the morning. We’ll work something out.”

“If we miss it, it will be your fault,” Sooni said.

“Fine, okay,” I said. “Everything is my fault. The whole world is my fault. Can I please go now?”

“I suppose you may as well, if you’re not going to come swimming,” Sooni said.

“I don’t have a suit!” I yelled, forgetting to control my voice.

“You don’t have to shout at me!” Sooni said. She somehow actually got her big black eyes to fill up with tears, like she was really hurt by this. “You are such a bad friend!” she said. “And not at all heroic!”

This last bit seemed to cheer her up a bit. It seemed like she was trying to make sense of our respective places in the cast of characters, in light of the events of the previous night. Any flaw she could perceive in me made it less likely I was the “main girl”, apparently.

“Sorry,” I said. I was sorry for yelling, anyway. That was against Amaranth’s rules. I’d have to be spanked for that, at the very least. It would be welcome. I was feeling all wound up, just talking to Sooni.

“Fine, then,” she said. She nodded her head then turned around and headed back across to her own open door. I watched her stupid fox tail swishing as she walked away, just to make sure she was really going. She stopped just as she got to the threshold, though, and turned to face me. “And you’d better not forget your promise to me.”

“I won’t,” I said. Apparently even just saying “we’ll go downstairs and watch TV” counted as a promise to her. It wasn’t worth the effort trying to correct her on that score, though.

“Promise you won’t.”

I rolled my eyes. This was getting ridiculous.

“I promise I won’t forget my promise,” I said. “I promise that I promise. I swear that I swear. Okay? Is that good enough for you?”

“There’s no reason to be ridiculous,” Sooni said, and she stepped inside her room and slammed the door. I sighed and leaned against my door frame. There was nothing like Sooni to ruin my nice, relaxing day. There would be no way I could focus on school stuff after the way she’d butted into my mind.

It was time for a bath, I decided. I didn’t have any bubbles or salts, but I could spend an hour or so lounging in the hot water and letting my mind drift away from Sooni and her infuriating… everything.

Depending on how much I ended up spending on clothing and everything else, some cheap bath stuff wouldn’t be a terrible idea, I decided… along with that bathrobe Ian had suggested. True, I normally just kept my clothes on until I got to the tub, but a big fluffy robe would be more convenient.

Possibly warmer, too, once the weather turned really cold.

Both tubs were unoccupied. After a few moments of indecision, I took the one that Feejee normally occupied. The memories of Sara and Tara chucking their cigarette butt and toilet paper into “my” tub were too strong. I didn’t think I’d be able to relax or feel clean in it.

I filled the tub with steaming water and sank down into it, letting my mind wander as it pleased. Unfortunately, for the first half hour or so it mostly wanted to wander back towards Sooni, and her slutty bikini that barely covered anything.

If only to distract myself, I very cautiously let my hand explore the path that Ian’s had taken hours before. I was tangentially aware of the dirtiness of touching myself, but it was like my dream with Feejee: it didn’t really count. I was in the bathtub, in the water.

I wasn’t really masturbating. I was just curious. Anyway, it gave me something else to focus on besides Sooni’s bathing wear. She might as well have been topless, which was how I pictured her, rubbing tanning oil on her breasts. Though, it would be totally unlike her to do something like that for herself. No, she’d make somebody else…

My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of voices out in the hall, right outside the door… Feejee, and another one I couldn’t quite make out.

“Stop it!” Feejee said, laughing, and the other voice, low and male, said something in response.

The door opened. I turned and leaned out of the tub expecting to see Feejee coming in. I wasn’t wrong, but she wasn’t alone. Her boyfriend Rick was following her in.

“Hey!” I said, grabbing for the curtain to pull it closed. It ripped free of the supporting rings instead, falling over the side of the tub. I held it over me.

“Get out of here, you goof!” Feejee said, giving Rick a push.

“I want to hang out with you,” he said. He seemed oblivious to my presence, which was fine with me.

“I told you, I need a bath,” she said. “I’m drying out.”

“So we’ll go to the pool.”

“I don’t like the pool,” she said, giving him another shove. “Get out of here, before you get us in trouble.”

“I thought you were friends with the R.A.”

“Let’s not push it,” Feejee said. She finally got him out the door, then returned to the bathing area. She gave me a cheesy grin. “Sorry about that.”

“What the fuck?” I said, dropping the wet curtain onto the floor. “This is the girls’ room.”

“Would it really matter, if nobody else was taking a bath?” Feejee asked. “It’s not like he’d be peeking in the stalls and showers.”

“It’s a boundary thing,” I said.

“Oh, like you’ve never inflicted your personal life on others,” Feejee said. She turned on the water in the other tub. What she’d said to Rick about the pool jogged something in my memory, from the last bath I’d taken.

“So, what do you know about the dwarves?” I asked her once she’d settled into the tub. “I mean, here on campus.”

“Who said I know anything about dwarves?” Feejee asked.

“You did,” I said. “Or started to. Yesterday, when we were talking about the pool. You kind of trailed off.”

“Oh,” she said. She gave an unconvincing shrug. “I don’t know what I was going to say.”

“It’s just… I’m going to this party,” I said. “And I wanted to know…”

You’re going to a dwarf party?” Feejee asked.

“Um, yeah?” I said.

“You?”

“Yeah.”

“Were you invited?”

“Yes!” I said. “What’s so hard to believe about that, exactly?”

“Normally they go for girls with more… well, you know.” She cupped her hands beneath her massive breasts and held them up. “Maybe they know that you, you know.” She dropped her breasts, opened her mouth and bobbed her head back and forth with the fingers of one hand circled in front of it.

“What do you mean I… that?” I asked.

“You’re not exactly private with your private life,” she said. “And anyway, the walls here are like paper.”

“I have a boyfriend,” I said.

“And a girlfriend and another boyfriend,” Feejee said.

“Two girlfriends and a boyfriend,” I said. “Though they aren’t my girlfriends. One’s my… you know, never mind. I’m being private with my private life.”

“Okay, whatever,” Feejee said. “I’m just trying to make sense of this.”

“Hazel’s boyfriend invited me,” I said. “Well, me and Amaranth, but…”

“Oh, that makes sense, now,” Feejee said.

“So, you’ve been to the dwarves’ hall?”

She hesitated, then nodded.

“It’s not something you want to talk about, if you want to get invited back,” she said. “And trust me, you’ll want to be invited back. Their mead is awesome, and they’ve got about a hundred different beers…”

“I don’t drink,” I said.

“Oh.”

“Anyway, what’s the big secret?” I asked.

“I don’t think there is one,” Feejee said. “Just lots and lots of little ones. They like their privacy, you know?”

“So, are you going to be there tonight?” I asked.

“Possibly,” she said. “If Rick drops his barnacle impression for five minutes.”

“Isn’t he invited, too?”

She shook her head.

“They don’t invite a lot of men,” she said. “Apart from some of the fraternities they’ve got alliances with. I think the Rampant Badgers are going to be there tonight, actually.”

“Oh,” I said. Drunken frat boys. This was sounding better and better. “What kind of alliances?”

“Mostly mutual alcohol exchanges, I think,” she said. “They’ve got lots of mead, but not so much beer and other stuff because they’ve got to trade for the grain.”

“Ah,” I said.

“So Hazel’s dating a dwarf?”

“Andreas,” I said.

“I thought I saw her around the gathering hall a couple times,” Feejee said. “She’s kind of hard to keep track of, though.”

“Yeah,” I said. “So… what happens at these parties?”

“Drinking,” she said. “Mostly. And there’s some drinking songs and drinking games, and I think there’s sex, but only in the side tunnels. They’re happy just having a little eye candy, mostly. Oh, and hey… you like pig, right?”

“What?”

“Pig,” she said. “Pork.”

“No,” I said. “I mean, I don’t know.” I couldn’t really remember ever having pork in and of itself. I enjoyed the taste of bacon. I’d had pork sausage a couple times. “I like bacon.”

“Well, they usually cook up a whole bunch of pork,” she said. “You should try it. I really think you’ll like it.”

“Um, okay,” I said. “Is it cold?”

“No, they cook it,” she said. “They have fire. Though, if you know who to talk to, they’ll let you have some raw.”

“I mean, down there,” I said.

“Oh,” she said. “Not that I noticed, but my cousin Iona says it’s chilly. She doesn’t really have my padding, though.”

“Maybe I should bring a coat,” I said.

“If you want to be invited back, you should probably show some skin,” she said. “Maybe leave your shirt in your room.”

“I really don’t think so,” I said. “In fact, I’m starting to have second thoughts about this whole thing.”

“Oh, don’t!” Feejee said. “You’ll have a great time, I’m sure. Anyway, it might be nice to talk to you, away from the dorms. We can go swimming.”

“Well, okay,” I said. I had already told Ian we could go, after all, and I had my excuse for leaving early. “I’ll go.”

“Awesome,” Feejee said.

“If you’ll excuse me, I kind of want to just soak for a bit,” I said.

“Sure,” she said. “We’ll talk later, anyway.”

The water had cooled down quite a bit by that point, so I drew very lightly on the fire element to give it a little jolt of heat. My body was settling back down to normal, and it was nice to be able to use magic without worrying about overdrawing and killing myself.

The party was sure to be interesting, anyway. Even if I didn’t like it, I could at least say I’d given it a try.


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5 Responses to “203: In The Golden Afternoon”

  1. Arkeus says:

    Damn Mackie, you really know how to both tune out what Soonie say and promise stuff to her you have no idea about just because you want to fuck her.

    You are such a man.

    Current score: 5
  2. tordirycgoyust says:

    I’d always thought “the cognitive dissonance is strong with this one”, but this takes the cake.

    Current score: 0
  3. Ryzndmon says:

    Ah, an Alice in Wonderland reference. Disney Geek Cred for the win.

    Current score: 0
  4. Anon says:

    Hmm… Is a promise to not forget a promise a valid promise if the promise was made after the promise was already forgotten? I don’t think you can promise something retroactively, especially after it was already broken…

    I’d suggest asking Sooni for a written copy of the formal rules of promises, but it would probably be written in Yokano or something.

    Anyway, the sheer number of forgotten promises definitely shunts Mack out of the rival or sidekick slots and firmly into ‘love interest’ in Sooni’s story.

    Current score: 5