195: Making Concessions

on April 10, 2008 in 07: Pitched Battles

In Which Steff Is Underhanded

Friday, Calendula 2nd (Night)

“Fuck,” I said.

Had she cheated after all?

“An ace! I win, I win, I win!” Sooni said, almost mad with glee at the sight of the card. She threw her arms around me and began planting messy, artless kisses all over my face. She also stepped on my foot. “I got an ace! I win!”

“Hold on!” Hazel said. “Nobody ever said aces were high.”

“That’s right,” Two agreed. “Nobody did ever say aces were high.”

“What do you mean?” Sooni said. “Of course aces are high. They’re aces! They are the best card. Nothing beats them. And I drew an ace, because I am the best and nobody beats me!”

“No, you aren’t,” Two said.

“Shut up, feeb!” Tara said.

“Hey!” I said, along with Hazel. Amaranth grabbed Steff’s arms.

“Yeah, shut up, feeb,” Sara echoed.

“Are you going to let them say that?” I asked Kiersta.

“It’s just words,” she mumbled. “It’s a free republic.”

“In some games, they are or can be declared to be high,” Amaranth said. “But the actual value of the card is one, and it wasn’t specified otherwise. Though, since the default ranking of suits goes…”

“Look, let’s just draw again,” Kiersta said. “I want to get this over with.”

“Why should we draw again when I have already won?” Sooni asked.

“Cheat!” Maliko yelled. “Cheat!”

“Cheap!” Suzi echoed, sort of. “Cheap cheap cheap!”

Sara and Tara and Hazel and Steff were all shouting at each other while Amaranth tried to get somebody to listen to her about the suits. Trina looked like Khersentide had come early. She was trying to look everywhere at once, with some success due to the independent motion of her third eye. Feejee looked embarrassed by the whole thing. Dee had closed her eyes and looked stricken.

“Everybody shut up!” Kiersta said. “We’re drawing again.”

“But are aces high or low?” Amaranth asked.

“I don’t care,” Kiersta said. “We’ll say high.”

“Then I already won and we are not drawing again!” Sooni said, stamping her foot.

“We’ll take the aces out,” Kiersta said. “Aces are nothing.”

“I’m not drawing again!” Sooni said.

“Then we’ll give it to Mack,” Kiersta said,

“You cannot simply declare who is the winner,” Sooni said.

“I think Sooni’s right about that,” Amaranth said. “This was really poorly planned, though. It seems like the only fair thing to do is…”

“Will you please climb out of my ass?” Kiersta said. “I’m the R.A. here, not you.”

All of this for a stupid senate seat? One out of at least dozens. There were better ways to draw attention to the problems on campus. I had a reporter from the student newspaper looking to interview me as it was.

Also, I didn’t really have time. It wasn’t just my schoolwork, or the possible lawsuit, or my personal life… I didn’t have time for it at that moment. Maybe Puddy was sober. Maybe she wasn’t. I didn’t like her being alone with Mariel.

“Sooni, you win,” I said.

Nobody was listening to me, including Sooni. Everybody was still yelling and arguing or watching other people yell and argue.

“Sooni wins!” I said, more loudly.

“Of course I win!” she said. “That is what I’m saying, but Kiersta and your big naked breasted lesbian girlfriend aren’t listening!”

“No, I mean, I concede,” I said. “It’s not worth fighting with you over it.”

“What?” Sooni asked. “You can’t do that!”

“It’s what you wanted,” I said. “Isn’t it?”

“I wanted you to step aside because I’m the better candidate!” Sooni said. “But now I’ve won, fair and square…”

“Okay, whatever,” I said. “It’s not worth fighting about.”

“But I won!” Sooni said. She stomped her sandal right on my foot. My eyes watered and I cried out in pain. There was no doubt it was on purpose. “There is nothing to fight about because I won!” She stomped again. I gasped. “And you lost!” And again.

My foot felt about flattened. It was getting slightly less arousing, especially when she did it another time.

“Sooni, please stop doing that,” Kiersta said. “I’ve got a bad enough headache as it is.”

“Kiersta, you make her say I won!” she said. “Right now!”

“You won,” I said.

“Like you mean it!” Sooni said. She sounded near tears. “Like I really won, for real!”

“I don’t have time for this,” I said, talking quickly. “If you want my help with representing the floor, or whatever, I’ll give it. If you want some ideas for issues to raise, I’ll give you them. You wanted to be friends anyway. So we’ll be friends. We’ll work together on it… and you can be the senator. I don’t want it that badly.”

“Mack, no!” Hazel protested.

“But you’re the better candidate!” Two said.

“Lame!” the Leightons said in unison.

“Fine, whatever,” was Kiersta’s response. “As long as we’ve got a senator. Sooni, your first meeting’s Monday.”

“But…” Sooni said.

“I’ve got to go,” I said, heading for the door.

“Wait!” Sooni cried, her voice shrill. “Wait!”

“I’ll talk to you later,” I said.

“Baby, where are you going?” Amaranth asked as I hurried past.

“Sorry,” I said. “No time.”

I ran down the hall as fast as I felt I could without tripping or plowing into the wall, tripping and plowing into the wall in the process. Sooni caught up with me as I was picking myself up from the rebound.

“Come back to the lounge!” she said, half helping me up and half tugging me back in the direction of the glass wall.

“Why?” I asked. “The meeting’s over.”

I gestured back towards the lounge. The others were already leaving. The shorter folk had already disappeared back into whichever of their rooms they were heading for. Amaranth, Two, and Steff were heading towards us.

“We’ll bring everybody back!” Sooni said. “We’ll make them stay!”

“Why?” I asked again. “It’s over. It’s done.”

“But I want to concede to you!” she said. “Because we’re friends and I care more about our friendship. Because it’s not worth fighting over!”

I stared at her, momentarily forgetting my purpose. Was she for real?

Of course she was… and yet she wasn’t. She was following a script, living out one of her stupid comics. That’s why she’d been so glad I hadn’t dropped out after all, why she’d smiled at the tie, and why she’d wanted to draw last. It was all so very dramatic.

But I’d gone off script. Did she fear that she wasn’t the “main girl” after all? Did she think I’d usurped her position?

“Sooni, this isn’t a ‘better friend contest’, or whatever,” I said. “And I don’t have time to deal with your shit right now.”

“What’s going on?” Amaranth asked.

“I want to talk to Puddy before she does something stupid,” I said.

“I think you’re way too late for that,” Steff said.

“I’m serious,” I said. “I don’t think Mariel voted for me and I think Puddy knows it.”

“Baby, you can’t live other peoples’ lives for them,” Amaranth said.

“Amaranth, tell your stupid slave that she has to let me concede to her!” Sooni said.

“Sooni, if you don’t want to be senator, I’m sure you can step down,” Amaranth said.

“That isn’t what I want!” Sooni said.

The nekos had caught up to their mistress by now. They seemed to be completely at a loss, unsure if they were supposed to congratulate or console her.

“Sooni… remember your father,” Maliko said, a little nervously.

“Yeah, Sooni,” Suzi said.

That must have meant something to Sooni, because all of a sudden she looked a lot more conflicted about the whole concession issue. I turned away and headed towards the end of the hall, leaving her to sort it out for herself. Amaranth and Steff followed.

“Mack, baby, what are you going to do?” Amaranth asked.

“I’m just making sure Mariel’s okay,” I said. I knocked on Puddy’s door.

Fuck… off!” Puddy yelled from within.

I listened. There was no sound that I could detect. Well, what had I expected? If she’d been doing anything, she would have stopped at the sound of voices outside, to say nothing of a knock. That wasn’t conclusive one way or another.

“I just wanted to talk,” I said.

“Go away.”

“Thanks for voting for me,” I said. “That meant a lot.”

I heard a chair moving, and then heavy feet stomping the floor. The light beneath the door went off, and then the door opened halfway.

“Don’t you start,” Puddy said.

“I mean it,” I said.

“You should have won,” Puddy said.

“I don’t care,” I said. “It’s student senate. There are other ways to get the administration’s attention.”

“Oh, fuck that noise,” Puddy said. She pushed the inside knob in, let the door slip open a bit more so she could squeeze through and then pull it closed and locked behind her. “You’re just doing what you always do.”

“What do I always do?” I asked.

“Let people shit all over you and act like it’s okay,” she said.

“Yeah, I guess you know all about that,” Steff said.

I held up a hand.

“Drop it, Steff,” I said. “That’s not going to help.”

“You were robbed, Mack,” Puddy said. “And on my watch. Now I look like an idiot.”

“Puddy, nobody’s even thinking about that,” I said. “Nobody knows…”

“I told a whole table full of people that we were voting for you,” she said. “They can do math, I bet.”

We all jumped as the stairwell door opened.

“Hey, what’s goin’ on?” Celia said, hissing badly on the end of “what’s”. Her eyes were half-filmed over and her pupils were so wide beneath the membranes they almost looked round.

“Nice of you to show up for the meeting,” Puddy said. “You lost Mack the election!”

“Ah, ss-shit,” Celia said. “Was that tonight?”

Steff twitched and then went rigid.

“Oh, you little sack of shit,” she said to Puddy. She tried to push past Puddy to the door, but Puddy blocked her. “Let me through.”

“Back the fuck off,” Puddy said. She grabbed Steff by the arm.

“You let go of me!”

“What the hell are you all doing now?” Kiersta asked, and Puddy abruptly released Steff.

“I don’t even know,” Celia said. “Is it really Friday?”

“They’re trying to break into my room!” Puddy said. Then, more quietly, “And Mariel’s trying to sleep.”

“She must be having one painful nightmare,” Steff said. She looked around at the rest of us. “Can’t you hear her whimpering? Crying?”

“Maybe she’s sad because she did something she regrets,” Puddy said.

“You’re going to regret it if you don’t step aside and let us in,” Steff said. “Mack, move her. Break the door.”

Don’t fucking break the door,” Kiersta said. “If I have to call maintenance one more time because of you people and your fighting, I swear to fucking Khersis, I’m going to quit.”

“What would be the difference?” Steff asked.

“You’re not even supposed to be here,” Kiersta said to Steff, then to Celia, “you’re out of your gourd on something, and you,” she said, turning to me, “you eat people. So let’s everybody just mind their own business and go back to their own rooms, okay?”

“Why are you even an R.A.?” I asked.

“Same reason as everybody else,” she said. “Room and board. You guys think you’ve got problems with all your stupid interpersonal shit? I’m going to come out of my senior year without enough credits to graduate, and that’s assuming I manage to pass all my classes with brawls and stupid drunken shit going on all the time.”

“It’s too bad there’s not somebody around to stop that kind of thing,” I said.

“You look tired,” Kiersta said. “Go to bed.”

I gave Puddy a pleading look. Maybe just knowing that we were onto her… and that Kiersta would now be somewhat on the alert, no matter how unmotivated she was… would be enough to put a stop to whatever she’d be doing.

Or maybe she’d just wait a bit and go at it with renewed rage.

“Come on, baby,” Amaranth said, putting her arm around me. “You did what you could. Let’s go to bed.”

“Hey, Kiersta, you coming?” one of the Leightons called from by their door.

“Yeah, in a minute!” Kiersta replied. “Are we all done here?”

“Whatever,” Steff said. “Goodnight, Amy, Mack.”

She turned for the stairwell door. Puddy reached for the doorknob. She’d only just turned it and started to push the door open when Steff darted forward, ducking under Puddy’s arm and hitting the lights as she went through the doorway.

Puddy grabbed her by the back of her blouse and yanked her back out of the room. Steff turned around and decked her on the side of the face. Puddy staggered, but so did Steff, rubbing her knuckles.

Puddy recovered quicker, and unslung her axe. Steff’s daggers were out in a moment. Amaranth screamed.

“Oh, I don’t even fucking care anymore,” Kiersta said, heading back to the twins’ room. “I didn’t see this.”

“Stop it!” I yelled, getting between them.

“Out of the way, Mack,” Steff said.

“If you think I’m not willing to go through you, think again,” Puddy said. “I keep offering my friendship and you keep pushing me away. You can only push me so far.”

“Puddy, I only want to help,” I said.

“Fuck you,” Puddy said. “You don’t help me. I help you.”

“Why don’t you want help?” I asked.

“I don’t need help,” she said. “I’m fine.”

“Puddy, there’s nothing to be ashamed about,” Amaranth said. “Everybody…”

“Don’t you flap your pussy lips at me,” Puddy said.

“You know what?” Steff said, flipping her daggers back into their sheaths. “You aren’t even worth it.”

“Pussy,” Puddy said. She adjusted her axe grip and reached for the door.

“Puddy, may we please talk to Mariel?” Amaranth asked. “Just briefly?”

“She doesn’t want to talk to you,” Puddy said. “She doesn’t like you guys.”

“Well, we’re going to bed, then,” Amaranth said. She put her arm on me again. “Come on, Mack…. goodnight, Puddy. Goodnight, Mariel!”

“But…” I said.

“There’s nothing else we can do,” Amaranth said. “Come along, Two… Two?”

It seemed that Two had disappeared at some point. Puddy gave a shriek of outrage and flung the door open. I darted inside after her. Two was in the middle of the room, hugging a shaking Mariel.

Puddy lunged, her hand stretched out towards them, towards Two.

The world turned a little red.


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2 Responses to “195: Making Concessions”

  1. Aurael says:

    Puddy seems to be in the well-beaten path of “about to have a really bad day”. ‘Bout damn time.

    Current score: 2
  2. Anon says:

    Here, Puddy, let me lay out the logical steps of why you done fucked up.

    Mackenzie is a half demon. As in, the daughter of a demon.

    Two is Mackenzie’s sister.

    You tried to attack Two. As in, you deliberately and with intent to inflict violence attempted to lay hands upon the sister of the daughter of a motherfucking demon.

    As your name is not Khersis fucking Dei, this course of action was neither wise nor prudent.

    Current score: 9