164: Pillow Talk

on February 23, 2008 in 06: A Period of Conflict

In Which Two Approves Of Mackenzie’s Messages

I took three of the herbs on my way back to the dorm. It did help the cramping, but Lynette hadn’t been kidding about the numbness… I also chewed up the inside of my cheek without realizing it. I spit the herbs out when I tasted the blood.

I used another leaf–just one this time–when the pain started to creep back up to intolerable levels. I went through the afternoon and evening sore but manageable. My flow seemed to settle down to a more reasonable trickle, too.

After quizzing me about my trip to the healer’s, Amaranth opined–at dinner, naturally–that I might have brought on the initial downpour by overexerting myself in one of my lab classes.

“Can you think of anything you did that sounds like that?” she asked, and I just looked down and mumbled at my lap while she delivered a lecture about how some women can tap magic more easily during “their time” but how they have to be careful because their bodies are vulnerable to stresses.

Yeah, I’d actually overexerted myself in both my classes, but I wasn’t in the mood for anybody to be right about anything, so I didn’t tell her.

And of course Celia was full of “I told you so,”, and the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like it could possibly actually be time for my period… so I didn’t think about it.

By the time I was getting ready for bed with my nether parts not-so-lovingly-ensconced in what felt like a diaper, I was starting to wish I’d looked for a brand name on the wrapper of the pad I’d got at the healing center. It had done a great job and had also sort of masked the smell, which was obvious to me even if everybody else (except Celia) said it was in my head.

Of course, the best thing about my day was that I got to go through the whole thing again in the morning.

I spent a long time sitting on my bed, my back against the wall, watching Two go through her evening routine. As usual, she seemed to have a lot of homework. I had some diagrams I could have been drawing for logic, but they could wait. They weren’t due until late in the afternoon.

I just sat and watched Two. She looked like she didn’t have a care in the world. At the moment, I don’t think she did. She was busy. She was working. She was happy. I would have traded places with her in an instant… just until her tasks ran out, obviously, which is what made the impulse incredibly selfish. I would have stolen her happy time and then left her to her own personal hell when it was over.

I realized in that moment that I wanted to find everybody who’d ever hurt or abused her and force-feed them their own limbs one by one. In fact, I would have been happy if somebody broke into our room with the intention of abusing her, just so I had an excuse to do that sort of thing.

I wanted to punch something. My body ached, I felt awful, and I wanted to do violence.

Two, meanwhile, changed into a towel and left the room with her shower caddy. She was only gone for about fifteen minutes. She’d probably spent a good five minutes brushing her teeth. How could she shower that fast? I usually spent that long just enjoying the feeling of the hot water before I did anything else. I’d done that after dinner, in fact.

Hot, clean. What wasn’t to like about showers? A bath would have been nice, too, but… no. Not under the circumstances.

I watched Two change into a pair of white satin shorts and a top whose bottom fell just below her breasts, her sleepwear for the evening. Who had picked this stuff out?

I didn’t have the energy to feel weird about watching her change. She didn’t think anything of changing in front of me, so I didn’t, either.

“Two, what would you think about getting some different pajamas?” I asked her.

She glanced at the closet door, then over at her dresser.

“I think I have plenty of pajamas,” she said. “I would like to get more sweaters, though, because winter is coming and I like my white sweater.”

“I meant different pajamas so you don’t have to wear those kind all the time,” I said, gesturing at her outfit.

“But I like these pajamas,” she said, looking down at herself. She smiled. “They’re pretty.” The smile disappeared, like a candle being blown out. “And I have my own room here with you so I don’t have to worry about anybody climbing on top of me and doing sex things while I’m trying to sleep.” The smile returned. “So, it’s okay to wear them.”

“Two… are you talking about your owner?” I asked. I would have expected my blood to boil, but I felt a cold sensation sliding down inside me, like I was slowly swallowing a snowball.

She shook her head.

“Who?” I asked.

“Boys… at the group home,” she said. “At Hearts of Clay. Some of the males were more functional and they had needs. They liked me because I wanted to do what I was told. When Miss Ruth told me not to do any more sex things with them, they started sneaking into the girls’ wing at night.”

I shivered. My temperature had been fluctuating all day, but I don’t think that was the problem.

Charitably, it could be assumed that the other golems’ view had been that she was free like they were and would have objected if she didn’t want their attentions.

Charitably, it seemed like a golem with a powerful sex drive had obviously been created to serve a purpose and setting them free without any thought of how they could continue to find the release they needed was as callous as discarding somebody like Two.

I didn’t feel like being charitable, though. If one of those walking dildos had been present in the room, I would have cheerfully maimed him.

Well, not cheerfully. I didn’t feel like being cheerful, either.

I noticed Two’s eyes were leaking around the edges and her lip was beginning to tremble. I’d dragged this out of her, and dragged her out of her happy place in the process.

“Two… would you mind if I slept with you tonight?” I asked.

She blinked once. I braced myself for any number of answers that anybody other than Two would have given me.

No. Gross. Of course not. Are you crazy?

Her face turned calm.

“Okay.”

That was it. She turned on her heel and began folding her dirty clothes and putting them in the hamper. She folded her dirty clothes. So damned cute.

“Would you like me to help you deliver your letters again?” she asked when she was done.

“What?” I asked.

“The campaign letters on your desk,” she said. “Would you like me to help you deliver them? Like we did before?”

Oh, right… I’d written up another batch of campaign letters the day before. I’d forgotten about them, though.

What was the point? There were only three days left before the election. It wasn’t like I was going to change anybody’s mind.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t know if I should bother.”

“Yes,” Two said, nodding emphatically. “You should. If you don’t do anything else then nobody new will have any reason to vote for you and it will be another tie.”

“I don’t think I could even manage a tie, at this point,” I said.

“But you are the better candidate,” Two said. “You’re supposed to win.”

“Things don’t always happen the way they’re supposed to,” I said.

Two nodded.

“I’ve noticed,” she said. She made a face, crinkling her nose and scrunching up her mouth like she’d tasted something bitter. “I don’t approve.”

I laughed.

I changed pads before going to bed. My grandmother had always bought the nighttime ones anyway… her attitude had been why bother with two separate kinds when the sleep kind worked just fine during the day.

Two scooted her pillow over closer to the wall and then climbed under the blanket, adopting her sleeping princess pose, with her arms over covers and her hands clutching her teddy bear.

“Do you mind if I bring my blanket?” I said.

“I do not mind,” Two said, shaking her head, her hair rustling on the pillow case.

She lifted her arms while I spread my blanket on top of hers, and I climbed in beside her, curling up on my side facing her.

I was greedy for the extra warmth, after the day I’d had. Getting an extra blanket or two for my bed was probably a good idea, with the weather getting colder. I wasn’t so sure of my elemental abilities that I’d go pulling fire around bed time.

I shuddered, bad associations from my childhood popping into my head. My grandmother had kept three big washtub-like buckets by my bed. The first two, she’d said, were just ordinary water.

The third one, rimmed in white…

I recoiled at the memory of the demonstration she’d given me. I’d never had more than two accidents a night even in the early years of living with her. Eventually, she’d got rid of one of the regular buckets… and then the other.

The bucket of holy water had stayed.

I decided to ask Two about something else.

“Two, how do you feel about Steff calling you ‘pseudowench’?” I asked.

“I like it,” Two said. She yawned. “I do not would like for everybody to call me pseudowench because it is not my name but it is Steff’s name for me and that’s okay. It’s like how she calls Amaranth ‘Amy’ even though it’s not the same sound.” She stretched a bit, and then moved her head around to get it centered on the pillow again. “Also, it is better than ‘Twoey’.”

I was laying on my side, and could see her in profile. She made the same face when she said Amaranth’s nickname for her that she had when she’d voiced her dislike of things not happening like they were supposed to.

“That is not my name,” Two went on, in the same tone of voice she used to complain about rule-breaking. She was ranting a bit, but she was doing it about a personal preference and I could have danced for joy to hear it. Well, maybe not danced. “My name is Two. It says so on my forehead. I do not have an ‘EY’ rune on my forehead. I do not think there even is an ‘EY’ rune and so I do not would like Amaranth to keep calling me that.”

“You can tell her that, Two,” I said. “When one of your friends is doing something that bothers you, let them know.”

“Okay,” Two said. “Thank you.”

She said nothing for a while after that, and I started to think about rolling over to face the other way. I was staring at the side of her face while she laid in bed. That didn’t feel creepy, but it felt a little weird that it didn’t.

“I’m glad I didn’t have Hand Wash at the home,” she said, a little bit after I finally rolled over. “Because some people believe that teddy bears will protect them from bad things in the night, and if I’d had him with me then, I would know that is not true.”

“Nothing bad’s going to happen while I’m here,” I said.

“I know,” Two said, sleepily.

“If I see anybody hurt you, I’ll hurt them worse.”

“I do not think you should do that,” Two said. “Amaranth wouldn’t… hmm… wouldn’t like it.” She yawned and stretched again. “I do not think you would, either.”

She was probably right. I’d hate myself for hurting somebody badly, even if they deserved it.

If they hurt Two, though, I’d pay the price.

The thought of Two being hurt made me think of when she’d been burned by demonfire. I never had talked to her about that. This seemed like the time. Two was of the opinion that the time when people were in bed together was the time for talking.

“Two… why did you summon a demon?” I asked.

There was no answer.

“Two?” I asked, quietly.

I noticed the change in her breathing before I’d finished rolling back over to face her.

She’d fallen asleep.

I sighed. Another time, then.

I decided I would finish the letters tomorrow. Somebody like Sooni shouldn’t be made a student senator. If it happened in spite of me, that was one thing, but I wouldn’t let it happen because I’d given up.

Two would not approve.


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9 Responses to “164: Pillow Talk”

  1. Arkeus says:

    Two is by far (currently) the best presence in Mack’s life.

    Current score: 9
    • Hoopla says:

      She’s the best presence in everybody’s life! She is AMAZING.

      Current score: 5
  2. P says:

    Agreed. Diamond in the ruff.

    Current score: 0
  3. capybroa says:

    How is Mack JUST NOW getting around to investigating Two’s summoning attempt? Y’know, the one that put her in the emergency room? The problem with this circle of friends is that they’re compassionate but highly self-absorbed at the same time. Two needs somebody who can put her needs above their own and pay steady attention to her.

    Current score: 1
    • C says:

      Or perhaps not. Perhaps she needs a sometimes inattentive, if loving sister, who accepts her for who she is and can grow right along with her.
      Instead of being made a charity case.

      Current score: 5
      • nobody says:

        Also keep in mind how much else Mackenzie is dealing with at the same time, such as her recent starving rampage and Steff showing suicidal behavior, both within at most a few days of that.

        Current score: 4
  4. Jechtael says:

    Maybe it’s just because I’ve read Chobits, but I thought it was even odds by the end of the first weekend whether Two’s creator made her as a sexy assistant-cum-sextoy or a replacement daughter who could hang around the lab without getting in the way. Since then, it’s seemed more and more like Two was made as an unsuccessful attempt at replacing a probably-dead daughter than as a sex toy, and even if that wasn’t the case it’s still possible that she was designed to be physically low-maintenance without being hard on the eyes and just happens to be somewhere between hairless pedobait and breast-having teen. Not that the latter is totally likely, but it frustrates me how our Miss Blaise refuses to think about alternate possibilities once she’s assumed something (like Amaranth, except that Mackenzie is actually learning).

    Current score: 6
    • Kanta says:

      That was basically AstroBoy’s backstory. Also, hi Jen!

      Current score: 0
  5. Anon says:

    Someday, somebody will tell Two “if things are not the way they are supposed to be, and you do not approve, and it is within your power, fix them”.

    And she will.

    And that will be a terrifying day.

    Current score: 6