244: Hearty Breakfast

on June 23, 2008 in Book 9

In Which A Heart Breaks Fast

Ian hadn’t made it over by the time we finished showering, so after I got dressed, we left the door open. The new decor was starting to grow on me. I reflected that in a different dorm, with different floormates, it might have been halfway to becoming a cool hangout spot.

Then again, the three of us were hanging out, and only two of us were officially roomed there, so maybe it was a hangout spot.

When he arrived, Ian had much the same reaction to the room’s transformation as Steff had: he started to back up out of the room in confusion. Then his eyes locked on me.

“Hey,” I said.

“Hey,” he said. “Did you win a sweepstakes, or lose a bet?”

“Two and Amaranth picked it out,” I said.

“Oh. It’s… very nice.”

“Thank you!” Two said. “And hi, Ian!”

“Uh, hi, Two,” he said. “Amaranth.”

“Hello,” Amaranth said. “Have a nice shower?”


It was hard for me to pick out what was different, but Ian looked really nice. His hair was wetted down, but would probably soon be as unruly as ever. I wondered if he was growing it out. He was wearing his same too-small denim jacket. The white t-shirt underneath it was clean, but he didn’t have a habit of wearing things stained with pizza grease. The jeans were also nothing special. It wasn’t like he was wearing make-up.

Then I noticed how happy he looked. Maybe that was it? Or maybe it was that I was so happy to see him?

“Wednesday,” he said, smiling. “Dance tonight.”

“Got it all marked down in my date book,” I said.

“You’d better enjoy it,” he said, his smile turning into a teasing smirk. “Pretty soon they’ll be asking us to play at the dances, and you’ll be left all alone.”

“Oh, I think I can find someone to take me,” I said. I went up to him and put my arms over his shoulders. “If you don’t want to ‘take’ me first, that is.”

“Oh, I think… are… are you wearing perfume?” he asked.

“Scented body spray,” I said.


“I wanted to smell nice, for a change,” I said, pulling my arms back.

“You smell like a candle store,” he said.

“Thanks,” I said sourly. “I try doing something a little bit different…”

“Oh, it smells fine,” Ian said. “It’s just… a bit much.”

“Maybe next time, use about half as much?” Amaranth suggested. “Artificial scents should compliment your natural one, not overpower it.”

“I think she smells yummy,” Two said. “Raspberries and cream. Like in the song.”

“Come over here and smell Two, baby,” Amaranth said. She took Two’s arm by the wrist and raised it towards me.

“No, that’s okay,” I said, stepping back.

“Well, maybe next time, you can watch Two apply hers, or she can help you with yours,” Amaranth said. “You’ll show her how to do it, right, Two?”

“Okay,” Two said.

“I don’t know why you need to bother,” Ian said. “I mean, you smell fine to me by yourself.”

“Well, maybe I’m doing it for me,” I said.

“That’s cool, too,” Ian said. “Um… breakfast?”

“Oh, yes. I don’t know about anybody else, but I could eat a horse,” Amaranth said. “Well, I wouldn’t literally eat a horse, even if I did eat meat. I have a lot of respect and compassion for them, and their tremendous, um, intelligence. It would be such a waste of a proud… powerful… well-muscled animal…”

“Uh, right,” Ian said.

Two told us that Dee had asked not to be disturbed for breakfast, so we went downstairs and met up with Steff. I got Ian to walk a little ways apart from the others so I could let him in on the Two’s Day plans. I needed to talk to Steff alone, too, but I figured that would be best done after breakfast, in case she wanted to talk more, or to be alone.

“Yeah, we haven’t talked about anything special for Tuesday,” Ian said. “I think it’ll probably be fine. Do I need to bring anything?”

“Just me,” I said.

“I think Two already has one of those,” he said.


“Cute ass.”

Apparently, even the fact that I’d somehow managed to reek even worse than usual wasn’t enough to put Ian off of me. There seemed to be a giddiness under his surface, matching my own. We were both dorky enough to be excited at having a date for a stupid dance put on by a student organization.

Our first date had been the same, and it had been a very mixed bag, with freak outs and overreactions all around. It hadn’t put us off of the concept, though.

Breakfast went by far too quickly. I kept stealing glances at Ian and seeing him smiling like an idiot at me when he thought I wasn’t looking, and I’m sure he caught me doing the same thing.

Heartbreakingly, though, Steff was doing it, too.

Amaranth kind of nudged me towards Steff as we were leaving the union. Okay, she gave me a big old swat on the rear towards Steff. I said goodbye to Ian, and we shared a kiss. I went over and had one with Steff, then asked her if she’d like to take a walk.

Actually, what I said was “wake a talk”, but she got the idea.

“Sure… sure,” she said, giggling nervously.

We were just like two kids out on their first date.

Oh, that was a fun thought to have.

Hand in hand, we set off south across the pent, heading past the fountain. I remembered weeks ago taking a similar path with Amaranth and ending up beneath a tree. I consciously chose to take a different branch on the sidewalk. Steff was not Amaranth, nor should she be.

We walked in silence. I hadn’t really noticed how fast the trees had changed colors, but fall was well and truly upon us. The evidence was rustling in the wind, and swirling down lazily all around us.

“You, uh… seem… happy today,” I said finally. It seemed a great way to start the conversation. Yeah, let’s just highlight the positive emotion I’m about to destroy.

“I’ve got a lot to be happy about, even aside from Viktor and you,” she said. “I had a very… cathartic… night, last night.”

“What do.. oh, the thing with Callahan?” I said, remembering her appointment at ten.

“With Jill, yeah,” Steff said.

“So, you did have sex after all, then?”

“No, no sex,” Steff said. “But, you wouldn’t believe the things she did to me.”

“Like what?” I asked.

“I’m not sure you’d want to hear,” Steff said. “It was pretty… extreme.”

“Come on,” I said. “I’m hardly some naive little girl, not after the month I’ve had.”

“I don’t know… I don’t want you to freak out.”

“Just tell me one thing, then,” I said. “As a test. You can judge from that if I’m going to freak out or not.”

“Judge by whether or not you’ve already freaked out, you mean,” Steff said.

I glared sideways at her.

“Okay, fine,” Steff said. “If you insist on knowing… she fed me my own cock.”

I stopped walking, though not all of me froze at the same time and my feet were the last to get the message. Fortunately I had been sedately strolling and not running, so I managed to avoid scraping the hell out of myself when I hit the path.

Steff was laughing, but she was helping me back up in a second.

“Oh, honey, I’m sorry,” she said, still laughing and even wiping away a tear. “I thought you’d flip your shit, I didn’t think you’d… oh… I’m sorry.”

“Well, at least I got my pratfall out of the way early today,” I said, brushing off the knees of my jeans. They didn’t seem to have been damaged. “Obviously, there’s some other meaning to that phrase that I’m not getting?”

“Not really… though it wasn’t really for real. We were using the really sophisticated spectral weapons they use for matches,” she explained. She shivered. “It was… intense. Did you know she’s not even human?”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “Of course she is.”

Steff shook her head.

“I didn’t figure it out until I saw her naked, but her bone structure’s all wrong,” she said. “I asked her about it, and it turns out there isn’t a drop of human blood in her. She’s a bigger mutt than that creep down the hall from you could ever dream of being.”

“She’s got to have some human blood,” I said. “She said she’s a Khersian.”

“Her human stepmom had her anointed and took her to services,” Steff said. “But her birth mom’s a dworc and her dad’s an ogrelf.”

“You’re pulling my leg,” I said. “Or she’s pulling yours.”

“Oh, she was pulling a lot more than that,” Steff said. “And thanks for not saying ‘you’re shitting me’, because there’s just no way to turn that into a double entendre without ‘um, ew’.”

“Seriously, though… she’s petite,” I said. “Muscular, but petite.”

“Elven blood,” Steff said. “Plus dwarven stature. Look at her muscles some time. Human woman don’t get ripped like that, usually, without taking a lot of potions.”

“Who says she didn’t?”

“Look at her skull,” Steff said. “Her jaw. Her forehead… she looks like she could head butt a brick wall and walk away.”

“I didn’t notice anything like that,” I said. “Except maybe personality-wise.”

I had to admit, it was pretty easy to picture Coach Callahan head butting a brick wall.

Steff shook her head.

“You only notice the pretty ones,” she said.

“It’s not like she’s invisible to me,” I said. “I just didn’t stare at her, trying to pick apart who her grandparents were.”

“I don’t know if I can wait until Friday,” she said.

“Let’s not,” I said quickly. Steff looked at me in confusion. “Tomorrow night. Viktor wants to sit us down and have a talk before we do anything else, right? So we could go right after.”

“Okay, yeah, we could go out… but what about the rest?” Steff asked. “You have class the next morning. You’re not worried it’ll interfere?”

“I’ve done stuff with Amaranth on school nights,” I said.

“What about Two?” Steff asked. “We haven’t really thought about… I mean… where are we going to go back to, afterwards? I’d say an inn, but… that might be pushing it, on a school night.”

I sighed. Damn it. She was even being considerate about my classes.

“Maybe just dinner on Thursday, then,” I said. “I mean, it won’t be just dinner… it’ll be you and me. I’ll figure out some place nice to go, and we can get all dressed up.”

“It’ll be fun,” Steff said. “And anyway, if we do the date Thursday but have to wait until Friday to do the other stuff, well, I was already thinking I’d have to wait until Friday for everything. Getting part of it early is just… a wonderful bonus.” She giggled. “Not that I wouldn’t take it all on Thursday, if I could. You know me. Instant gratification, just add water.”



“I kind of have plans Friday,” I said. “That I can’t really get out of.”

Steff looked at me, stony-faced.

“You made other plans… without knowing that I’d say yes to the change?” she asked.

“I actually made them first,” I said. “But, I was so excited about you and me… I forgot about them. The thought of you swept everything out of my mind. Can you understand that?”

“I guess… I guess I can,” Steff said, and she smiled again. “I mean, its not like I never left my common sense at home when you were involved.”

She gave me her hand and we started walking again.

“So… what are you doing?” she asked.


“Friday,” she said. “Something with Ian?”

“Um, not exactly,” I said. “Or at all.”

“What, then?”

“I’m actually going out on a… thing… with Sooni.”

This time she stopped in her tracks and I kept walking. I stopped when my hand broke away from hers, and once again my feet got tangled up and I took a spill. This time, she didn’t help me up. She stood there, dumbfounded.

“Steff, I promised her,” I said, picking myself up and turning to face her. “Remember? In the healing center? I was just trying to get rid of her…”

“Tell her to fuck off,” Steff said quietly, so still that her jaw wasn’t even moving. It wasn’t like she was deliberately using her vocal magic. It was like she was forgetting she was supposed to move her mouth when she spoke.

“Steff, I promised,” I repeated. “I can’t break my word…”

“Fuck that!” Steff said, bursting angrily into animation once more. “Do you think she’s worth your word?”

“We’d have the same room problem Friday night,” I said. “So…”

“Yeah, except on Friday we could get a room somewhere, if it came down to it,” Steff said.


“I’m with Viktor,” Steff said. “Which, I told you that when we were setting our date.”

“Sorry,” I said. “What about during the day? Saturday, or Sunday… Two’s at work, so my room’s free, anyway.”

“Oh, yeah, let’s stop and work out the logistics of how to break our date!” Steff said.

“I’m just trying to make this work,” I said. “Anyway, even if it’s not quite what we expected, maybe we should just be grateful for what we get, you know?”

Steff laughed bitterly.

“What?” I asked.

“If you’d met me a year ago, Mack, I would have thought that,” she said. “There have been times this year I’ve thought that way, too… that I should just accept whatever I can get, because it’s more than I deserve.”

“That’s not what I…”

“But Viktor has done so much to show me that’s not true, and right up until this moment, I thought you were doing the same,” Steff said.

“I don’t mean like that,” I said. “But… I treasure every moment with you.”

“More than you treasure a chance to live out your wet dreams with the bitchiest of bitches?” Steff asked.

“You have to understand, Sooni’s crazy,” I said. “She’s sick in the head.”

“More reason to tell her to fuck off!”

“She lives across the hall from me,” I said. “I’m not going to be able to avoid her for the rest of the school year. Can you please understand why I don’t want to completely alienate her? Anyway, I did promise, so it’s my fault, and I hate that you have to suffer because of it, but other people are going to suffer if I break my promise, and… and it was a promise. You think I’m so stupidly good, or whatever, and you think it’s cute, but it also means that I have to do this. Can you understand that?”

Steff sighed and wiped off her cheeks.

“Let me take you out Thursday, and then all day Sunday, I’m yours,” I said. “I promise. Even if we find an opportunity to mess around Thursday night. Which, we might. I hate to put Two out, but she loves you, so… anyway, I’ll… um… I’ll put together my revised white and black lists tonight.”

I knew I wasn’t supposed to use the lists as bargaining chips, but really, my personal lines had moved in a couple places and I had never officially changed them. I still wasn’t sure I was completely ready for anal sex, but I had the feeling that I could wait forever and never be completely sure about that. I wanted to try it, though. I wanted to give myself to Steff, that way.

“All day Sunday?” she repeated.

“All day.”

“So, if I want to wake you up at five and make you miss your stupid shows?” Steff asked. “That you watch with Sooni?”

“Sooni can fuck off,” I said. “Because I promised you.”

I waited with bated breath… literally, as without a conscious decision I was holding it… for her to respond to that.

“You’re breaking my heart, Mack,” she said, shaking her head. She was smiling again, though. “I want you to know that. I’ve got enough of it now that I can spare a little for breaking, and part of that is thanks to you, but I want you to know it all the same.”

“I know,” I said. “I’m sorry. I’ll make it up to you.”

We took each other by the hand and headed back towards the dorm.

“Don’t ask Two,” Steff said. “If I see an opportunity, I’m taking it… but let’s not kick her out of her room, especially since we’re probably going to be getting back late, anyway.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I wasn’t really thinking through when I said that.”

“Any previews about what these revised lists will feature?” she asked.

“For starters, no spectral weapons,” I said.

“Only real ones. Got it.”

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11 Responses to “244: Hearty Breakfast”

  1. pedestrian says:

    It hurts so good?

    Current score: 0
  2. Arkeus says:

    Dammit, Mack, you should own up to breaking promises you shouldn’t keep. Damn growing up with grandma plus Amy brainwashing plus Soonie breasts…

    Current score: 0
  3. Anthony says:

    I believe that was the sound of the other wooden sandal dropping…

    Current score: 0
  4. Hoopla says:

    I really wish she would have elaborated on what “fed me my cock” means. I am trying to picture what was going on there but am having conflicted images…. WAIT A DARN SECOND! She put her cock in the mock box and then attatched the spectral to the strap-on! That is my final hypothesis.

    Current score: 0
    • J says:

      No, this is pretty straightforward, I think. The spectral weapons used in skirmish matches actually simulate dismemberment. Callahan lopped off Steff’s dick and made her eat it.

      Current score: 3
      • MentalBlank says:

        Or she simply folded (or cut?) Steff in half….

        Current score: 0
        • Leila says:

          No, almost 100% sure J’s right, the upgraded mock boxes have been mentioned before.

          Current score: 0
          • zeel says:

            Not so much before as later… but yes I think she mentions the possabilty along with her initial description of the device.

            So yes, the encounter is made of squick.

            Current score: 0
  5. nobody says:

    J is correct.
    Look and one piece of proof is Steff stating the use of spectral weapons specifically and not a mockbox being used in the meeting.

    Current score: 1
  6. Jechtael says:

    Were I in Mackenzie’s place, I think I would prefer spectral weapons. They would actually have an effect, unlike mundane bladed weapons, and wouldn’t be hugely dangerous like enchanted weapons. I get that she’s had unpleasant experiences with Gloria and spectral weapons, but it’s probably way less than the average high-school skirmisher deals with on a regular basis and it’d be better to list “no feeding me the flesh of humanoids, including spectrally, as a sexual thing” if that’s her concern. (That last bit would also mean “no chopping off your body parts and feeding them to me, in case it puts me in a frenzy”, but so far Mackenzie doesn’t seem to have put quite that much thought into what goes on her blacklist.)

    Edit: Oh, and “Amaranth convinced me I had to keep that promise to Sooni. She didn’t order me, but it made a lot of sense… at the time…” The impression Mackenzie is giving to Steff is WAY different from the impression I got from reading the chapter of the actual discussion (at least from her perspective).

    Current score: 2
  7. Anon says:

    It occurs to me that if/when Mack goes to meet Ian’s parents, she should not wear perfume. Maybe work up a good sweat first. His father seems like the type to appreciate a whiff of sulfur.

    Current score: 1