44: Second Thoughts

on August 2, 2007 in 02: Love In The Time Of Magic

In Which Steff Gets Mackenzie From Behind

I left the suitcase with my enaction figures in it with Amaranth, with a promise from her that she wouldn’t look inside it. She thought the urgency with which I extracted this promise was adorable, but I was pretty sure she’d keep her word, anyway.

I then surprised myself, first by actually going to my enhancements lab and then by managing to produce a very short-lasting sharpness effect on my “blade” by the end of the class. I’d expected my mind to be chaotic and unfocused, but I think that somehow, admitting that I’d somehow enjoyed being humiliated had given me a smaller version of the sense of release I got when Amaranth spanked me. It somehow gave me a sense of… peace… or calmness, or clarity, or something… as did the idea that I belonged to her.

I left all that out of the lab book, when I wrote up the methods I’d used and the results I’d achieved.

As the period ended and I was faced with the prospect of leaving the structured world of class for the far more fluid one that seemed to exist in the residence hall, old doubts and fears that I’d managed to push to the edges of my consciousness started to worm their way back towards the center of my being. People didn’t belong to each other. They just didn’t. It was… well, it was Sooni-kind of thinking, to imagine that they could.

Also, I’d wondered before how I could enjoy Amaranth’s attention so much without also enjoying Puddy’s… I wondered that even more strongly now. If I really enjoyed being dominated… being humiliated… maybe even being hurt… then shouldn’t I have really liked all the things that Puddy did?

Amaranth had me pegged as a submissive lesbian, but to me, the smart money seemed to be on me just being profoundly fucked up.

I felt like I needed some time to myself, or at least, some time away from the people who’d become my life in the past five or six days… some time where it was unlikely I’d bump into Puddy… or Barley… or Belinda… so I went to the library. I hadn’t been there since the weekend, with Amaranth. It seemed odd to think that I’d spent almost a week with access to so many books, not to mention the free ethernet access, and had used it so little.

The fiction section was smaller than I’d expected, but still larger than my high school library had been… and I don’t mean it was larger than my high school library’s fiction section. I mean that the entire library in my high school would have fit on the shelves of the MU library’s fiction section. Given that it was an institution of higher learning, I guess it shouldn’t have been surprising that it had more of a “literary” bent than fantasy or magic fiction… but they seemed to at least have a lot of the works that were considered classics. They did have one of my favorite alternate history books, Iron Horses… it was about a world where a sort of mechanized infantry had changed the course of the Great Wars. I’d read the thing at least five times before, but at that moment I was looking for easy comfort and light distraction.

I didn’t really find it.

I laid down the book and wandered over to the crystal balls and touched one, opening my mind and letting it wander. In the past, I’d found some interesting sites this way. Today, the only things that came into focus seemed to be fetish sites… which, I figured were the last thing I needed to expose myself to. I focused on Mecknights instead, finding my old familiar tapestry… but somehow, the camaraderie I’d always seen on the tapestry seemed forced and hollow now… the arguments seemed more pointless… the complaints more petty… all in all, it was kind of like going back to a favored childhood haunt and noticing how small it was. It was… disconcerting.

I’d always figured that, no matter what protestations I might offer to the contrary, there was something at least a little unhealthy about spending so much time on the net, and only having friends I only knew by a screed name… but now that I had friends I knew in “the meat plane”, I couldn’t honestly say it was a lot healthier. My least confusing relationship was with Two, probably followed by Steff. Steff’s lifestyle might have been exotic and strange to me, but she herself was pretty refreshingly straightforward.

For instance, there was the straightforward manner in which she crept up behind me and tickled me in the sides while I was preoccupied with my thoughts.

“Fucking hell!” I said.

“Sorry, sorry!” she said, laughing. “I was just passing by and I had to come over and see what you were gazing at so intently… hey, what is that… Mecknights?” she asked, peering over my shoulder. “That cheesy animation show?”

I waved the images away as fast as I could.

“I… um… I was looking for…” I said, trying to find a way to frame a denial without lying.

“It’s okay,” Steff said with a laugh. “You’ll stumble across all kinds of really stupid shit while searching for more legitimate science-related sites. Um, so anyway… are you… okay? About earlier?”

“I think so,” I said. “Amaranth and I… we talked about some stuff.”

“Yeah?” Steff said. I’d kind of intended “we talked about some stuff” to be the end of the subject, but she had other ideas. “Like what?”

“Well,” I said, my face growing hot. “I… um… told her I want to… belong to her.”

If not for my earlier experience with Puddy, I might have called the hug Steff gave me “bone-crushing.” The squeal of delight she let out attracted the attention of a library worker, who cleared her throat, and saved me from having to pry Steff’s arms off of me.

“Steff, we’ve warned you about that,” the librarian said.

“Sorry,” Steff said, giving a sheepish, apologetic grin. The librarian gave her a skeptical look, but then turned and went away.

“They warned you about hugging people?” I asked, curious.

“Not really about hugging, per se,” she said, with a shrug. “Anyway… wow. Are you excited?”

“I’m… confused,” I said. “Steff, please don’t take this the wrong way… but, I don’t think I’m like you.”

“Who is?” Steff said. “I could spend all day listing people who aren’t like me.”

“That’s not quite what I meant,” I said.

“Look, I know what you meant,” Steff said. “You aren’t like me, and I’m not like you… so it would be a mistake to try to measure yourself against me, or the committed relationship you’ve entered into with Amaranth against the one I have with Viktor.”

“It’s not really a committed relationship,” I said. “She told me I can date boys, if I want to… isn’t that what you call an ‘open relationship’?”

“Oooh, lesson number one: the opposite of ‘open’ is ‘closed’, not ‘committed’,” Steff said.

“That’s semantics,” I said. “You’re still not ‘committed’ to one person if it’s an open relationship.”

“Says who?” Steff asked. “Look, don’t you suppose it’s possible for two people to have a sexual relationship with one another, and nobody else… but fail to connect with each other, be there for each other, or go the extra mile for each other?”

“Well, yeah,” I said. In fact, the cynical side of me guessed it probably happened a lot, though I didn’t say this. “Are you saying that’s a good thing?”

“I’m not saying anything is good or bad,” Steff said. “Would you say those people have made a commitment to each other, though?”

“But why would they be…”

“It’s a yes or no question,” Steff said with pleasant firmness.

“No, I guess not,” I said.

“You’re right, they haven’t,” Steff said. “So, you’d agree that just because a sexual relationship is ‘closed’ doesn’t mean that the people in it are committed to each other?”

“You know, you don’t seem very submissive to me,” I said.

“I am, but it takes one hell of a Dom to bring it out,” Steff said. “Anyway, if two people enter into a relationship with each other, if they agree to be there for each other above all others, to honor and trust one another, and to be as honest with each other as they are with themselves, isn’t that a commitment, no matter what specific arrangements they come to as to who they’ll have sex with?”

“I guess,” I said.

“I guarantee you, if you saw me and Viktor together, you wouldn’t say ‘I guess’ if somebody asked you if we were committed,” Steff said.

“Okay, I’m sure you guys like, love each other,” I said. “But, if you’re both cheating on each other all the time…”

“Well, what’s cheating?” Steff asked. She sounded a little indignant, for the first time since the conversation had begun. “Breaking the rules, right? Well, what rules are we breaking? Society’s? We break so many of society’s rules just by being in the first place, to say nothing of being together…”

“Okay, so ‘cheating’ was a poor word to use,” I said. “But it’s just… I was taught…”

“You were taught that sex is the most degrading, depraved, disgusting, disturbing, nasty, noxious, filthy, foul, venal, evil, sinful and just plain wrong thing in this plane of existence, and you should only share it with the person you love most?” Steff asked.

“Well, um…” I said. When she put it that way, it sounded dumb.

“Look, forget what you were taught, forget what you know… forget what you think,” Steff said. “Because right now, in the place you’re at, thinking’s just going to dig you in deeper. Let’s talk about how you feel. How does Amaranth make you feel?”

“Safe,” I said, without thinking. “Loved.”

“You love Amaranth?” Steff asked.

“I… yeah,” I said.

“How does it feel, to be hers?”

“It feels… I’m not supposed to like stuff like that!” I said, a wave of fresh shock breaking out of automaton-answering mode.

“That’s what you’ve learned, what you know,” Steff said. “I’d ask you again how it feels, but you just told me: you like it.”

“Just because you like something doesn’t make it right,” I said.

“So, go tell her you don’t want to belong to her,” Steff said.

“I… I couldn’t,” I said.

“Okay, I’ll do it for you, then,” Steff said. She actually turned and started to walk off, as if she were going to do just that, right that moment.

I lunged and grabbed her arm.

“Ooh… my, you’re strong,” she said.

‘I’m sorry!” I said, letting go of her arm like it had bit me. She started gingerly probing where my hand had squeezed her… I could tell already she was going to have some nasty bruises in the shape of my fingers.

“No, I mean, you’re really strong,” Steff said. “I think you might even be as strong as Viktor.”

“I’m so sorry, Steff, I didn’t mean it,” I said. “I… I wasn’t thinking, and I…”

Steff put her finger on my lips to silence me, as Amaranth had done.

“I hope your new owner doesn’t mind me taking this liberty,” she said, giggling. “I’ll get formal permission from her, for the future… but, anyway… you weren’t thinking, and that’s the point. You know how you feel. You know what you want. Amaranth is your happiness… don’t let a bunch of icky thoughts mess that up. Hey, I’ve gotta scoot… but I’ll see you two tonight, if you’re still up for it.”

Then, without breaking contact with my lips, she leaned forward and gave me a kiss on the forehead, before turning around on her heels and skipping away. It took me several seconds after she disappeared between two rows of shelves to even remember what she had been talking about when she’d said she’d see us tonight, if we were up for it: her “circle”, whatever that was.

Amaranth had told me I would enjoy it, if I kept an open mind. I was hoping she was right about that, because I wasn’t really up for any more shocks that day.


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5 Responses to “44: Second Thoughts”

  1. Greyman says:

    — “You were taught that sex is the most degrading, depraved, disgusting, disturbing, nasty, noxious, filthy, foul, venal, evil, sinful and just plain wrong thing in this plane of existence, and you should only share it with the person you love most?” Steff asked.

    Ohh!… Brilliant …

    Current score: 10
  2. BMeph says:

    My newest entry in “my favorite collection of quotes” right up there with “…the penal system is not something we enjoy. It’s something with a name that makes us giggle.”

    Current score: 1
  3. pedestrian says:

    If consensual sex wasn’t all those things, the human population numbers would be a lot smaller.

    Current score: 0
  4. Psi-Ko says:

    Steff, you’ve almost, ALMOST become my favourite character so far. The only fictional being I’ve found that shares my views almost exactly to the letter!

    Current score: 2
  5. […] “You were taught that sex is the most degrading, depraved, disgusting, disturbing, nasty, noxious, filthy, foul, venal, evil, sinful and just plain wrong thing in this plane of existence, and you should only share it with the person you love most?” Tales of Mu […]

    Current score: 1