231: Good Morning

on June 4, 2008 in Book 9

In Which “Dorktastic” Is So A Word, No Matter What The Author’s Spellcheck Says

After Steff helped me back over to our side… my side, I mean… of Harlowe, the rest of Monday passed in a kind of blur. There were a lot of hugs and kisses from Amaranth, and after a while, from Steff, too.

We told Amaranth what had happened together. I ended up with a fairly strong impression of Amaranth musing aloud about me being resistant to brain injury, then wondering if it actually was the case, and being assured by Steff and Two that it was, then starting the whole thing over again.

I just wanted to lay down and go to sleep, but Amaranth kept me from doing that for a few hours at least, “just in case.” Just in case I was suddenly not invulnerable? I didn’t know.

In any event, I woke up in the morning, secure in my little cocoon, and kind of wondered where the previous day had gone to. Remembering my head non-injury brought back the memory of how it had been non-inflicted, which carried with it a momentary flashback of terror followed by sweet, unbridled joy.


When we held each other close, and I felt her getting hard against me… when I saw the raw want in her eyes…

I loved her like burning. I loved her like aching. I loved her like breathing.

And, despite all of her “I’m not in love with you!” protestations, I knew that she felt the same. She had Viktor. I had Amaranth, and Ian… Ian was my rock and Viktor was hers. Amaranth was my owner and Viktor was hers. We had comfort with others, and yearning with each other.

I smiled. It was Tuesday. Lab with Ian… fighting with Gloria. It had been over a week since we’d seen each other. That should make it easier to patch things up, I thought.

Wednesday there was a dance, my date with Ian. Friday, there was Steff. The only ugly specter hanging over me was my arbitration case with the school, and that wouldn’t be resolved for a while so there was no sense worrying about that.

As soon as I thought about my case, though, I was struck with worry. The borrowed mirror. It had been folded up in my jeans when Viktor tossed my clothes into the hall, when Gwynedd had kicked them away from me. I’d felt it in the pocket when I got dressed, but I hadn’t thought to check on it.

I bolted out of bed. My clothes from the day before were in the brand-new laundry hamper, a fact which annoyed me to no end since I immediately looked for them on the floor next to the bed.

There was nothing in the pockets of the jeans. I dug through the hamper’s contents—which didn’t take long—and found nothing but neatly folded clothes.

I had a moment of panic before I realized that it was unlikely that everything would have fallen out of my pockets at some point after I recovered them and put them back on, and even less likely that Two (who else folded dirty clothes?) would have put them in the hamper without checking the pockets.

I found my coin pouch, my temporary ID, and—most importantly—the mirror sitting on my dresser. The mirror was okay, thankfully. The sight of the ID reminded me that I’d never gone to get a new one made. I could do that after breakfast, since the office was at the back of the union

It was just about breakfast time, too. Two must have been told to let me sleep in instead of waking me for meditation. I was a little disappointed to have missed it, but I blamed that on the circumstances of the previous day. I probably wouldn’t have cared to be awakened at five in the morning after the pounding I’d received.

Picking out my clothes had never really been a challenge before, except insofar as finding some that were in a suitable state to wear. Now I had an actual wardrobe, which entailed making actual decisions. I thought about wearing my silver spiderweb shirt, but I kind of wanted to save that for Friday, in case we ended up doing something that wasn’t too dressy… though I didn’t know what I’d wear if we did do dressy. I ended up wearing a plain t-shirt, but one of my new ones, that had a scoop neck and shoulders that were more round than square.

I did break out the butterfly belt, though… that was for the paddle. I didn’t really need a belt, since I’d squeezed my expanding ass into the tightest pair of jeans that I owned.

After getting dressed, I opened the door to go look for the others and found Amaranth raising her hand to knock. We both kind of jumped.

“Oh!” she said. She giggled and shook. It was… worth seeing. “You startled me, baby.” She looked down the length of my body and then back up, and smiled knowingly. “You look nice today. I won’t bother to ask the occasion.”

“Sorry,” I said. “I was just thinking it was about time for breakfast.”

“I was thinking that, too,” she said. “How’s your head and arm?”

“Good,” I said. A good, long sleep had removed the last trace of pain, and my head was as clear as ever. “Fine.”

“Wonderful,” she said. “Two and Dee were heading over to the union after meditation to work on some papers in the ballroom there, so we’re just going to meet them there after we collect Steff.”

“Okay,” I said. “We’re not going over to the boys’ side, are we?”

“No, she’s waiting downstairs,” Amaranth said.

That was good. I didn’t know if Gwynedd would actually have spent the night with Viktor and Steff, especially with classes today, but I didn’t really want to chance a run-in with her. Now that I wasn’t all, you know, concussed, I felt a little bit more up to dealing with her shit… but I didn’t want to ruin my mood.

Had I mentioned Gwynedd to Amaranth? Probably, I thought. I’d bring it up later, when we weren’t about to go be sociable, just in case.

I got the surprise of my life when we got downstairs… Steff was wearing an elven dress, flowing and diaphanous. It was made of diamonds of golden-white fabric of varying sizes joined together, with the ends of the sleeves and the floor-sweeping hem fringed with diamond points.

Call me mushy, call me sentimental, call me six and a half years old… but she looked like a princess.

I looked over at Amaranth, but found I’d left her behind. She gave me a gentle push on the small of my back, and then a slightly less gentle swat on the rear when that failed to get me moving.

Steff had her face lowered, with her eyes turned up. She looked nervous. Her hands, folded in front of her, were shaking a little.

Mine were steady as rocks.

They were itchy and sweaty and kind of felt like they might light themselves on fire at any moment if I didn’t keep tight control, but they were steady.


“H-hi,” I sputtered. “Your dress,” I added, in a technically successful attempt to say something about her dress.

“Do you like it?” she asked.

“It’s gorgeous,” I said.

“I was going to wear it on Friday,” she said. She giggled. “But… I’m no good at waiting.”

“Yeah, I noticed,” I said wryly.

“I bought it in a little shop that sold elven-style clothes, when I was on vacation with my mom,” Steff said. “Of course, it’s a bit shorter than the authentic elven style, and tighter… but, it’s still pretty, right?”

“Very,” I said. I was confused, though. “Why couldn’t you just get a real one, though?”

“They, um, don’t make them in my size,” she said.

“Oh,” I said, feeling stupid and clumsy.

Steff had never managed to look any closer to boyish than “androgynous” in my eyes—and that was wearing boys’ clothing and no makeup—but in the elven culture, she was hopelessly butch. A physically female half-elf might be able to squeeze into one of the larger sizes of elven dress, but Steff couldn’t.

“Don’t you just look a dream,” Amaranth said, hurrying over. “Did you dress up just for Mack?” Amaranth asked.

“And myself… but, well, yeah,” Steff said, turning her head and blushing as she scuffed at the floor with the toe of one shoe. She looked back at us. “I’m sorry,” she said, though I couldn’t think of anybody who’d ever sounded less sorry about anything. “I just… we made it. I really thought I fucked everything up again, but we made it, anyway,”

I nodded. I knew what she meant. I knew how she felt.

“I woke up this morning and I took my potion and I… I just feel wonderful,” Steff said. “I even watched Viktor plunk away on his keyboard with the sound off for half an hour, with his serious-business-frowny face on because he just couldn’t get the notes right or whatever, and I just thought, ‘I love him. I love him so much.'” She stopped, looking wistfully off into space, and for a moment her face was like a perfect ivory carving. Then, it came back to life. “And then I came down here, and I saw you, and I saw the look on your face when you saw me… and… if I died today…”

“Don’t say that,” I said quickly.


“Don’t say, ‘if I die’,” I said.

“Oh,” she said. “I just mean…”

“Let’s not tempt fate,” I said. “I’ve already got a big enough target painted on my forehead.”

“Oh, don’t be silly,” Amaranth said. “Fate isn’t out to get you.”

“Yeah, okay,” Steff said. “No worries. We can just… bask.”

“Just bask? Don’t we get to kiss, too?” I asked.

Steff leaned in, and I turned my face up to hers

“Oh, I just love seeing you two being so in love with each other!” Amaranth said.

Steff jumped at this declaration like she’d been pinched, but she didn’t say anything, either to confirm or deny it.

“Let’s get going,” she said instead. “You didn’t have any dinner, so you’re probably… well, I’m hungry, anyway.”

Without any spoken negotiation, I held Steff’s hand on the walk over and Amaranth walked behind us. I think she was “admiring the view”, in an emotional sense. I didn’t know if or how she perceived love, but I’m pretty sure she liked what she saw.

The fact that my love for Steff could make Amaranth so happy was like a thick layer of icing on a cake that was already made entirely of icing, maybe with a silver lining or two thrown in for good measure.

I remembered how Steff had gone nuts over Ian and me, bumbling our way through a conversation on the hall mirror. What would she think if she could see herself, giddy as a school girl as we held hands on the way to breakfast?

I giggled.

“What?” Steff asked.

“Dork love,” I said.

“You’re a dork,” she said. “And it’s adorable.”

“You’re one now, too,” I said. “It’s catching.”

“Don’t make me use that paddle,” she said. She gave my hand a gentle squeeze. “Not just yet, anyway. Let me bask a little longer. I’ll turn that cute little butt of yours red soon enough.”

“Not quite so little, any more.” I sighed.

“Oh, stop,” Amaranth and Steff both said.

“Your body’s human-ish,” Steff said. “It’s supposed to be a little round. Look at Amy.”

“Amaranth isn’t fat, though,” I said.

“You clearly don’t read any fashion magazines,” Amaranth said from behind us. “Which… by the way… don’t. When I was newer, I used to read them, just for the sex articles, and a little bit to look at the clothes, but then I sent one on to Mother Khaele, and did she have something to say about them… I swear to her, I thought I was being smote, she yelled so loud.”

“No fashion magazines,” I said. “Got it.”

“I used to read them, too,” Steff said. “I had the idea in my head that they’d teach me how to be a ‘real woman.'”

“You’re way more of a real woman than some glammed-up model in a polyshopped picture,” Amaranth said. She’d come up alongside us now that we were all talking. “You know that, right?”

“Oh, honey, Viktor is more of a real woman than some of those models,” Steff said.

Dee and Two were waiting in the ballroom when we arrived at the union. They’d finished their homework and were doing something that involved sitting in chairs facing each other and not talking. I guessed Dee was practicing something. Two’s eyes were moving a lot and her face was kind of twitching the way it did when she was really lost in thought, but she didn’t seem to be in any distress.

Amaranth held up a hand to hold us back until they finished, about a minute later.

“I beg your pardon,” Dee said, rising to her feet and giving a slight bow. “Two has been telling me of her life, and… there is a saying: the mind outstrips the mouth.”

“It’s okay,” Amaranth said. “I’m sure she likes having a friend she can, um, think to… right, Two?”

“Right,” Two said.

“But, of course, you can talk to me about anything, too,” Amaranth said.

“I don’t like talking about some things,” Two said. “Dee’s way is easier and better.”

“Okay,” Amaranth said.

“Well, well, well,” Dee said, eyeing Steff’s dress. “Look who’s dressed semi-appropriately.” She was smiling the faint ghost of a smile that meant so much from her. “Is something amiss?”

“Not a thing in the world,” Steff said.

Breakfast was simply very pleasant. Two was a comparative chatterbox, talking about her friend… well, Hazel’s plan for what she was calling “The Saturday Morning Harlowe Cafe”. Apparently, Amaranth’s idea about using the floor activity fund to provide breakfast had kind of snowballed once it reached Hazel’s little ears, and now she had an ambitious plan to let anybody from all the floors sign up.

It sounded complicated. Logistics aside, it would probably be hard enough to get Kiersta’s cooperation, to say nothing of all the other resident advisors in Harlowe. Two was excited about it, though, and it sounded like her… Hazel was, too.

After breakfast, with a little reminder from Amaranth, I went and got my ID replaced. That bit of dealing with officialdom was as nerve-wracking as always for the approximately two minutes it took, and then it was over and done with and I was officially myself again.

And that was just fine with me.

When I got to my morning lab, Ian seemed surprised by my mood.

“You’re awfully smiley,” he said, as I gave him a peck on the cheek before Professor Bohd arrived.

“I’ve got a lot to smile about,” I said.

“Like what?”

“Like… Amaranth, and Steff, and… you,” I said, giving him the most absolutely dorktastic of dorkiest smiles I could imagine, and meaning it, and not caring what I looked like.

Ian started to blush, but shook his head like he was trying to shake it off.

“Well, that’s good, I guess,” he said. “I just kind of wondered if you were going to be upset about that thing in the paper.”

Tales of MU is now on Patreon! Help keep the story going!

Or if you particularly enjoyed this chapter, leave a tip!

Characters: , , , , ,

5 Responses to “231: Good Morning”

  1. BMeph says:


    Current score: 2
  2. pedestrian says:

    Our Mack is in a happy dork space. Time for fate {or at least a ingannatative worshiper of Coyote as our author} to deal us another wild card.

    Current score: 3