158: Steff Undressed

on February 15, 2008 in 06: A Period of Conflict

In Which Healing Begins

The mental healing annex was on the side of the healing center, with its own separate entrance and waiting room.

“We actually have counselors available immediately if you don’t mind talking to a student,” the receptionist said when Steff told her she needed to make an appointment.

Steff turned around and appealed to me… I couldn’t tell if she wanted me to give her permission or an excuse to leave. Maybe she didn’t know, either. I just nodded. I didn’t have any pressing plans, and if she got one session in, she might be that much more willing to come back and do another one.

“Um, okay,” Steff said.

“Just fill this out,” the receptionist said, handing her a pen and a form the size of a post card. Steff took her time filling it out, her pen hovering over some of the spaces as she deliberated. I resisted the urge to step up and try to get a glimpse. “Did you want to see somebody, too?” she asked me.

“Um, not today, thanks,” I said. I had issues of my own, certainly, but most of them began and ended with me being half-demon. No amount of talking things out would fix that, and mental adjustments would probably be downright dangerous.

“She’s just here for immoral support,” Steff said, giving a shaky laugh. She grabbed my hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. I lifted her hand to my mouth and kissed it. She smiled wanly.

“Okay… Steff,” the receptionist said, referring to the card for her name. “If you’ll come on back, we’ll get you set up with Jacob.”

“Um, could I talk to a woman?” Steff asked.

“Sure,” the receptionist said, and then she ushered Steff down the hall and out of sight.

I sat down and prepared myself for an indefinite wait. I knew an hour was the stereotypical appointment length, but I didn’t know if that would apply when the sessions were free and the counselors weren’t getting paid by the hour. I mean, if they were an hour long and you had more to talk about, couldn’t you just go for another hour?

There was a TV attuned to the station out of Enwich. The local news was on.

“You can change the channel on that,” the receptionist said when she came back to her desk.

“This is fine,” I said. I’d never watched much TV. I mean, I watched it when it was on but aside from Mecknights and a few other similar shows, most shows seemed pretty interchangeable to me.

There were pamphlets with names like “The Subtle Magic of the Mind” and copies of Mental Healing Today scattered around, along with old glamour magazines and a couple issues of Popular Enchantment. I picked those up and leafed through them… like just about everything else, PE had a bit of a tendency to focus on arms and armor more than I liked, but at least they covered the aspects of the subject I’d find most interesting.

I was reading a half-decent article comparing the merits of building protective enchantments into clothing versus making armor more comfortable and less obtrusive when I heard an irate voice in the hallway. I looked up from my magazine before I placed it, and realized it was two voices that just happened to be very similar.

It was the Leighton twins, bickering with each other. My first thought was “What are they doing here?” My second was that it was none of my business, and my third was that it wasn’t all that surprising… they were forced to share the same body. That would probably give anybody issues.

“I don’t know why you have to lie,” Tara was saying as they came towards the reception area.

“I’m not lying,” Sara replied as they came into view. “I saw him first. Just because I didn’t throw ourselves at him doesn’t mean…”

“Ooh, Sara, Sara,” Tara said, interrupting her sister, and pointing at me. Sara turned her head towards me and raised a hand to cover her mouth and suppress a snerking sound.

“What exactly is so funny?” I asked, giving them a dirty look instead of burying my face in my magazine. They’d been giggling and snickering behind my back practically since the year had began, and I was through being embarrassed by it. They were the ones acting like immature idiots, not me.

They both burst out laughing, and I blushed and buried my face in my magazine.

“Are you sure you don’t want to talk to somebody?” the receptionist asked me when they left.

I didn’t respond.

The article ended by concluding that armor that was sufficiently lightened and otherwise enchanted had such advantages over clothing that in the future, we’d all be going around in full plate. I couldn’t really see it.

Steff ended up taking nearly an hour and a half. The sun had long since gone down and it was very nearly full dark. She looked like she’d been crying, but since she’d looked like that going in, it was hard to be sure.

“You okay?” I asked her.

“I’m better,” she said. Her voice was kind of flat. She sounded tired. “A little, anyway. I don’t know if I’m okay. We talked. It took her a while to understand I wasn’t there for my, you know, gender issues. She gave me what she called a ‘nudge’ at the end, to help me keep my emotions level, short-term.”

“Well, you can keep coming back,” I said, hoping I wasn’t sounding like I was nagging.

Steff nodded.

“I made an appointment,” she said.

“Do you want to get some dinner?” I asked.

She nodded.

We walked in silence from the healing center towards the pent and the student union. There were a few people sparring in the pent despite the late hour. The dining hall was a bit more full than I expected, though more with people who were lingering and finishing up than just arriving.

“Hey, don’t tell the others, okay?” Steff said once we’d got our food. “About what I was doing… or the mental healing.”

“I can’t just lie about it,” I said.

“You don’t have to lie, just don’t tell them about it,” Steff said. “You can tell Amy, but I don’t want it getting around.”

“You’re going to tell Viktor, right?” I asked.

Steff thought about it, then nodded.

Neither of us had taken that much food, but we ate slowly and mostly in silence. I hoped that my presence felt comforting to Steff rather than awkward. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to pry.

The night was well and truly on when we left the union. The day had been sunny and pleasant, and I was badly underdressed for the sudden chill. I hung back in the doorway, my body yearning to stay with the warmth.

Steff put her arm around me and drew me close. A full-blooded elf’s not usually that much warmer than room temperature, but compared to the cold air, Steff’s half-elven body was like a magic blanket. I leaned into her, rubbing up against her in a way that probably would have looked sexual. I don’t know. Maybe she took it that way. I wasn’t even thinking, though. I was just trying to get closer to the warmth.

Most of the fighters had left the pent, though there was still one guy left, drilling with a sword and shield all by himself. The wind carried the sounds of a distant–but not too distant–howl.

“Astera’s almost over,” Steff said. “It’ll be Calendula in a few days.”

“Veil,” I said.

“What?” Steff said.

“It used to be my favorite time of year when I was little,” I said. “It was cold, going around town in a fairy princess costume, but I loved dressing up. Pretending I was something I wasn’t.”

“And the candy,” Steff said. “I suppose you loved that, too.”

I nodded.

“I think that had something to do with it, too,” I said.

“You and Two,” Steff said. “You know Veil’s originally an Arkhanite holy day?”

“I’ve heard that,” I said. “I wasn’t allowed to celebrate it after I moved in with my grandmother.”

“Why’d you…”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I said, too sharply. “Sorry. I don’t mean to snap.”

“It’s okay,” Steff said.

Instead of heading back to the dorm, Steff was leading us towards the dragon fountain. I didn’t mind. The campus wasn’t wholly safe after dark, but the lighted paths had protections on them. The area of the pent was among the safest, being in the center of the campus and in the middle of a network of paths.

She let go of me when we got to the fountain and we stood, staring at it, for several minutes. I wasn’t sure what she was seeing, but it seemed like it was more than the dragon heads spouting phantom flame and trickling water.

“Would you get in it?” she asked after a while, her voice still unnaturally level.

I gave her a confused look.

“I don’t mean will you,” she clarified. “I’m not asking you to. I just mean, could you see yourself ever… like on a dare, or just because, or whatever.”

I shook my head.

“I’m not a very daring person,” I said.

“I am,” Steff said. “Or I like to think so.”

“It’s probably freezing,” I said, cringing at the thought.

“It is,” Steff said. She pulled off her blouse and tossed it aside.


“It’s okay,” she said, taking off her padded bra. She undid her weapons belt and then pulled her skirt down. She was in her panties and boots now, and she sat down on the edge of the fountain to pull off her boots, and then she was just in her panties.

Then, she wasn’t in those.

I looked at her face, focused in on it. It was the only part of her that was still Steff, without her clothes.

I realized I’d have to deal with the rest of her if we got any more involved than we already were… though, from what I understood of her preferred form of sex, she would have to be behind me and so I wouldn’t really see her if she was naked. There was no real reason she couldn’t wear a skirt, anyway.

“Steff, what are you doing?” I asked, though it was perfectly obvious she was going to go into the fountain.

“Nothing, just watch my stuff,” she said, climbing up on the wall.

“Steff, this is crazy,” I said.

“I’m just going to be a minute,” she said, standing on the edge.

“Is this something the counselor told you to do?” I asked, though that seemed pretty unlikely.

Steff shook her head.

“I’m just going to be a minute,” she said again, and she lifted up a foot like she was going to step into the water, but she brought it down again. She rocked back and forth a bit. It was like there was an invisible barrier.

“Steff…” I said, whining a little. Somebody was going to come by and see. Or something would penetrate this deep into the campus and I was the only one of us with weapons.

Steff sighed and stepped backwards, down off the shelf. She mostly kept her back to me as she gathered her things up and got dressed. She had a very girly-looking ass, and much more feminine-looking waist and hips than a human male would have.

When she was fully dressed, she turned around and said, “I want to fuck you in the fountain.”

I didn’t say anything. The time was all wrong, of course, but even if it wasn’t, there was no way I could do that… too cold, too exposed.

“I don’t mean now,” she said. “Not tonight. But… some time.”

“I can’t,” I said, apologetically. “I couldn’t.”

“Well… I suppose Amy will,” she said.

I nodded. Amaranth had more protection from the cold than I did, and she could have sex in public, legally. Nothing nymphs did was obscene.

“I don’t like being afraid,” she said as if this explained everything. “Of anything. I can’t… I can’t handle it.”

“Everybody’s afraid of something,” I said. There was another howl, and I jumped. The wind was picking up, too, and it was getting colder. “Can we go back to Harlowe?”

“Okay,” Steff said.

She stood behind me, wrapping her arms around me like a jacket, and we walked back to Harlowe like a pair of lovers. Her dick was hard against me by the time we parted in the first floor hall.

I almost asked her to come up with me, but it would have been the wrong time in so many ways. She needed to talk to Viktor, anyway, and he could probably give her what she needed more than I could.

When I got up to our room, Two was doing homework at her desk, writing out some kind of essay in a notebook. She rebuked me gently for being out after dark, until I told her it had been necessary.

“Steff needed help with something,” I said.

“Oh,” Two said. “That’s okay. Helping friends is important.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “It is.”

She dug around in her backpack and pulled out a lemon yogurt cup.

“I didn’t know if you would remember to eat dinner,” she said. “So I got you this.”

“Thanks,” I said. My eyes were tearing up. Not for any reason relating to the yogurt cup, of course. The emotion of the evening was catching up to me. “Thank you, Two.”

I loved Steff so much. I loved Two so much, too. They’d both had so much pain… we’d all had so much pain in our lives… but we had so much love, too.

“You’re welcome,” Two said, and went back to her homework. I thought about asking for a hug, but I didn’t want to disturb her further.

She’d spent her entire life being used, in one way or another, and had been turned loose at school with what most people would see as a massive handicap. It seemed like she was enjoying herself, though… making friends and discovering hobbies. Cooking. Bingo.

She gave me hope. If she could outgrow the tragedy of her origins, maybe the rest of us could, too.

Maybe even I could, a little.

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2 Responses to “158: Steff Undressed”

  1. Ryzndmon says:

    Immersion therapy.

    Current score: 0
    • nobody says:

      High risk but high reward.
      Like teaching a person to swim by throwing them into deep water.
      It can give fast results, at least in the beginning.
      Though it could also (just as easily) result in the person “drowning” literally or figuratively.

      Current score: 1