OT: Tales of AU – The More Things Change

on August 27, 2013 in Other Tales, Tales of AU


Getting into the school’s carriages turns out to be a snap, as the whole system is automated and keyed to our student IDs. Getting into town is… actually a little easier than I’d expected before I looked into the carriage system. Even though I’ve never been to Enwich, I already knew that most walled towns have safety measures that can be a little… broadly constructed. The good news is that the identity validation stuff built into the carriages gets us pre-cleared through with only a mildly invasive divination.

Alea doesn’t seem to get scanned at all. I don’t know if the wards don’t distinguish between shades of elf because they’re progressive like that or because it doesn’t come up often enough.

Anyway, the minor discomfort… and the minor uncertainty of then dealing with the city’s public transportation, which I didn’t think to research… is worth it to see Alea’s reaction to the downtown area.

Enwich isn’t one of those new plan cities where everything’s laid out in a grid. The city center in particular is a maze of buildings, with streets intersecting at odd directions or curving and few able to go more than a few blocks before taking a sharp detour. All the compartmentalization an underworlder could want, and a view of the night sky if she wants to look up but no pressing need to it.

I wouldn’t have ever thought of it as a benefit, but the city lights also have the side effect of making the night sky look more like a ceiling somehow.

We wander around downtown long enough for me to get a little nervous about how late it’s getting, but I don’t know how to suggest we find an inn. She wants to be pursued, but how forward is too forward?

“If you want to stay the night, we should probably find some place,” I say. “If you wouldn’t rather go back to campus, I mean.”

That covers the possibilities.

“Some of these buildings seem to be offering private accommodations,” she says.

“We might find something cozier closer to the walls,” I say. I’m afraid to ask what even the dives cost, downtown.

“Then I will defer to your expertise… in this area,” she says, and somehow the way she emphasizes the last three words is suggestive enough to make me extremely not picky when it comes to the budget inns.

The place we end up isn’t exactly a dive… okay, it is, but it’s self-aware enough to call itself the Dive On Inn and that makes it… kind of cute? The night clerk’s a dwarf who doesn’t even look up from her TV before giving me the room key.

I feel… excited. Really excited. And I’m not using that as a euphemism for being turned on, because the weird thing is that I don’t feel anything like I normally feel when I’m, you know, considering the sort of matters that I’m maybe probably looking forward to know. This is all nervous energy. I never would have thought it’s possible to be giddy and terrified at the same time, but I am.

Alea takes the key from my limp fingers, and takes me by the wrist. She’s saying something about the numbers on the doors. It’s not that I’m not listening, I’m just not hearing. She’s far away and the blood in my ears is so much closer.

The room is… well, cozy would be one word. Alea had hitched the hems of her layers of garments up before we entered the office, and she does so even higher now as she looks around.

“Open that closet,” she says.

I obey. The tone might have been a little, I don’t know, presumptuous, but it looks like she’s afraid to touch anything in the room and as long as she’s not running from the room in terror, I’m inclined to do what she says.

Actually… I’m kind of inclined to do that, anyway.

Her face is a blank mask as she studies the inside of the closet, but I have a feeling she’s disappointed. I can imagine why… even with the door open, there would be no way to hang her clothes up without them touching the back wall. And it’s not like oozing with mold or anything, it’s just… not very nice looking. I have a feeling she’s not strictly worried about physical contamination. I wouldn’t want to leave something nice in a place like this, and her clothes aren’t just nice. They’re… significant.

“I’ve noticed that plastic bags are treated as disposable,” she says. “Has that bag held anything before, or is it intended for a single use?”

She’s talking about a plastic laundry bag hanging from the end of the rod. I wouldn’t be surprised if this place reuses them, but it doesn’t look worn or unusually wrinkled.

“Probably not,” I say.

“But not definitely not,” she says.

“We could find another place,” I say.

“Take off your clothes and cover the top of that table,” she says. It’s more of a sideboard, I guess meant to serve as a desk or vanity for anyone unfortunate enough to have to do business or be vain in a place like this.

Again, I do what she says. She’s telling me to get naked, which, you know, takes a lot of uncertainty out of the process. It doesn’t make me feel like I’m super smooth or anything, but I’ll pass on the opportunity to play cool if it means I can avoid the chance of completely blowing it.

Also, I can kind of see where she’s going, and it’s kind of flattering that she considers my clothes to be clean enough to insulate hers from contact with this particularly fallen bit of world. And while I probably would have just let my clothes fall to the floor, now that she’s got me thinking about the state of the carpet I’m glad for the excuse to put them on a surface that at least looks like it’s been cleaned.

I’m going to leave my underwear on, figuring she probably doesn’t want her clothes in contact with them, but then she says, “Leave nothing against your skin that you wish to remain in a wearable condition.”

And suddenly, just like that, the kind of excitement I’d expected all along is there. The tingle shifts from the pit of my stomach to somewhere a little bit lower.

But… indecision. Do I actually want my underwear to be destroyed? That would be kind of cool. But… from a purely practical standpoint…

“Take them off, Kegan,” she says, and that settles that.

Her clothes end up being folded and stacked in a neat pyramid on top of the protective layer of my jeans, t-shirt, and underthings… first her cloak, then her outer robe, then her inner one. There’s nothing beneath her innerwear, even if it’s not precisely underwear. It takes me a while to process the fact that she’s naked and I’m looking at her and I have no idea what to do next…

As it happens, Alea has several.

I’ve never even had a girlfriend, but I have a very precise and exacting teacher. She’s tough but fair, and by the time the period of instruction ends, I’m very satisfied with the report she gives.

I think she’s satisfied, too. She lays sprawled across the bed, not moving… possibly not breathing, which is kind of scary but I assume she knows what she’s doing. I’m still between her legs, in terms of actual position, though I’m sitting up. The bed’s not huge so I’m kind of constantly almost slipping off the edge, but by the same token that it’s not huge there’s not really any room to snuggle up alongside Alea and she doesn’t seem inclined to de-sprawl or move over.

“You’ve done that before,” I say into the surprisingly comfortable silence.

“I think it would ordinarily fall to the person in my position to say that,” she says. “And in this case I am certain it would not be true, though you gave me no cause to bring it up.”

“I mean, you know… the instructions,” I say.

“In point of fact, I have never done that,” she says. “I never had the opportunity. What I did have was plenty of time to think of what I would say, given the chance. The chance, sadly, never came.”

“You mean you haven’t done this before?” I say.

“I have had partners,” she say. “But my most recent and memorable one… no, we never did this. I did for her. ‘More in giving than receiving’, as one of her other partners said under somewhat different circumstances.”

“She had multiple partners and she still didn’t… reciprocate?” I say. I’d almost said “put out for you”, but I’m really not sure about the actual valence of the out-putting in this situation. Alea probably doesn’t know enough sexual surface slang to notice if I fuck it up, but still, I don’t want to be too much of a blushing virgin right after my first time having sex.

“She… didn’t know how.”

“She must have had some idea how it went,” I say. “I mean, I would have said I didn’t know, if y… someone else had asked me, but I was still willing to learn.”

“She didn’t know how to learn from me,” she says. “It would have been… demeaning.”

“She said that?”

“Oh, no,” Alea says. She gives a laugh. It’s a beautiful laugh, but not a nice one… there’s more pain in it than hurt, though. “She would never say anything like that. She would bend over backwards to avoid saying anything like that. It’s true, though. She was never more than a little worried about the propriety of our relationship… which probably doesn’t sound very bad if you’ve never been in love with someone who is a little worried about the propriety of being with you… but part of how she alleviated that concern was by being very careful of her station. To take instruction from me, especially on an intimate matter, would have been… well, you would say beneath her.”

“I wouldn’t say that,” I say.

“What I mean is, that is the way you would describe her views, in your idiom,” she says. “It is the inverse of ours. There is a saying I encountered in a book: ‘up is down and black is white’. It’s an apt summation of the viewpoint shift I must make to be understood in your language.”

“So you fantasized about telling her how to go down on you,” I say. “I think when most people have sexual fantasies, part of the idea is for it to be a perfect sexual encounter.”

“Yes, which is why I took care as to how I would instruct my partner, knowing it would be her first time,” Alea says.

“I mean, I think the usual fantasy is a partner who doesn’t need to be told… someone who just sort of knows.”

“Ah, yes, but as one who has dealt with telepaths, I can tell you that precisely formulating thoughts in words is still important,” Alea says. “In fact, the stronger the raw emotion of the moment is, the more important it becomes, which is why I was so careful to formulate my desires into words.”

“I didn’t necessarily mean a telepath,” I say. “Just… that they’d know. Like, the ideal partner is someone who doesn’t have to be told. That’s part of the fantasy.”

“…your ideal partner is someone who through sheer happenstance has desires that absolutely coincide with and complement your own?” she asks.

“No, not exactly,” I say quickly, though she sounds more confused than critical or hurt. “Just… that’s how the fantasy goes.”

“Really? That doesn’t sound very… useful.”

“You know, I don’t think most sexual fantasies are constructed along strictly utilitarian lines,” I say. “They’re more about immediate gratification than, you know, long-term goals.”

“Ah,” Alea says. “You can’t do both?”

“…it never occurred to me to try,” I say. “I mean, yeah, I hoped that the things I’d think about in the shower would come in useful someday, but it was more… hoping than planning.”

“So you hope that events will unfold in the manner about which you fantasized, with a partner who will coincidentally exhibit impulses that are perfectly symmetrical to your desires,” Alea says. “Doesn’t that inevitably lead to disappointment?”

“…probably, but I’ve never had the opportunity to find out,” I say.

“If you had said that to me yesterday, I would have supposed that you’d simply never had a sexual encounter,” she says. “Which I would not suppose to be unheard of for a woman of your age. It certainly wouldn’t be strange in Durakesh. But given the events I have direct knowledge of, I have to wonder if you spend your time in the shower imagining a naked woman giving you instruction.”

“I… uh… something like that,” I say.

“So this was, by happenstance, your ideal encounter?” she says. I think there might be a teasing tone in her voice. “Or at least, close enough to not be entirely disappointing?”

“Alea, believe me when I say I never imagined my first time would be like this,” I say. “And also believe me when I say there’s nothing disappointing about you.”

“But you do enjoy being told what to do,” she says.

“…I like knowing what’s expected of me,” I say. I don’t know why I’m hedging when she clearly enjoyed calling the shots. It’s just… it’s a weird thing to say out loud.

“I may be houseless, I may be mindblind, but I can tell when a surface dweller is being evasive, Kegan,” she says. “I told you how to please me. Tell me what pleases you.”

That. That pleased me. That was what did it for me… did it for me? Was that a thing people actually said? I wasn’t sure I’d say it again.

“…being told what to do,” I say.

“You like to be instructed?”

“Yeah, or… commanded,” I admit. “I mean… I’ve thought about it, you know?”

“When you’re in the shower,” she says.

“Yeah.”

“And seeking… immediate gratification.”

“Yes.”

“There is a shower,” she says. “Show me.”


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32 Responses to “OT: Tales of AU – The More Things Change”

  1. Luke Licens says:

    The more that things change
    the more Keegan stays the same
    but not quite like Mack.

    Current score: 1
  2. Burnsidhe says:

    Rawr, cuddly!

    And it’s nice to see that the only difference between Mack and Kegan, is that Kegan is more honest with herself about her desires, at the same stage of her life.

    Mack certainly fumbles words just the same.

    Current score: 0
    • Malcolm says:

      The main difference between Mack and Keegan is that Keegan is a functional human being. Where as Mack is an emotionally stunted and psychologically damaged individual from years of abuse.

      Current score: 0
      • Sejemaset says:

        I never really thought about Mack as being emotionally stunted and psychologically damaged from years of abuse… and I’m a little bit concerned about why I relate to her so well.

        Current score: 0
        • Anvildude says:

          You’d be surprised what “Modern convenience” can do to some people’s development.

          For example- a large proportion of the population (what was it, a third, a fourth?) have tendencies and physiological/psychological markers that make them well suited for the Hunter/Gatherer and Nomadic lifestyles- but these people are shoehorned into a society of Farmers. Think on just what it does to a person when their first instinct to trouble is to kill it or leave it and go somewhere else to start over, but they’re forced through their entire life to instead sit and take responsibility and keep working and picking at the problem until it either goes away or erupts into something uncontrollable.

          Think what it means for someone who needs to constantly experience new things to be expected and forced to work an unchanging schedule for 40 years- and self-preservation is warring with that wanderlust and inquisitive nature, because they know that the only escape has long been paved over and put in a GPS system.

          And that’s just for the people who tend towards hunting instead of farming. Now imagine what it must be like to have half your nature literally telling you to eat your classmates and neighbors, the only person who knows where that comes from dead, and your primary caregiver truly and honestly willing to kill you if you misbehave to the extent of wetting the bed.

          Yeah, Mack’s a little emotionally stunted.

          Current score: 0
          • Mist42nz says:

            As someone who is actually a dairy farmer, and has been in other parts of work and social society ( from security work, factory labour, sales, computer programmer, to working in marketing and advertising, and film making)

            I can categorically state the huge majority of human society wouldn’t have a clue when it came to being farmers. Not even slightly.

            Current score: 2
            • pedestrian says:

              Mist42NZ, you got that right!

              “What do you mean, this meat wasn’t grown in a factory?” actual sincere quote I once endured, from a nice, if confused person, who eventually would become a vegetarian.

              My joke: Why is vegetarianism immoral?

              Cause their prey cannot run away!

              Current score: 2
            • yo says:

              At least we kill meat first, which is much more than can be said of many animals, and for vegetarians…some plants you just tear bits off of when needed, and we don’t have any real proof they don’t feel pain. plants are just alien enough we wouldn’t be able to tell if they did. I hear the screams of the vegetables.

              Current score: 0
            • V says:

              Watching their skins being peeled…
              Nice shout-out to the Arrogant Worms, if that was your intention.
              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmK0bZl4ILM (music starts around 0:49)

              Current score: 0
            • Maxwell says:

              Pain is a function of a central nervous system, a signal that travels along nerves to be interpreted by a brain so that it can respond to injury.

              Plants do not have nerves and do not have a brain. That is absolute proof that they do not feel pain.

              Not to mention that the means used to slaughter livestock is neither quick nor humane – being boiled alive is a common process, used to remove fur.

              I suggest you do your research to avoid making yourself look silly in the future.

              Current score: 0
          • yo says:

            I don’t think gran was really going to kill her, and in retrospect mac seemed to say the same when considering the duration water would be capable of remaining blessed(very short term)
            it was more a fear tactic to force her to control it quickly… otherwise granny would have demonstrated the blessing on mac’s hand instead of putting her own in boiling oil. a nice scar would drive the message home even better than a scary visual.

            the only option she could see was quick and total repression of anything demon to avoid having to put her rampaging grandaughter down. she’s a paladin, naturally going to come across more harshly than an empath in that same situation.

            now if mac has truly lost control and started eating people I’m sure Brimstone would make certain she was going to be the one to stop her, but thats different. she even came to school with the intention of helping her when it a student may have been eaten. Yeah, she’d have also been there to deal with the situation if it had been true, but priority 1 was to determine what happened and her default position was “it wasn’t her until you prove to me it was, scratch that, I’ve gotta be the one to get that proof to believe it” throwing an unabridged steel cornered bible at anybody who suggested otherwise.

            if she was how mac thinks of her she’d just have killed her at the beginning and been done with it.
            story wise though I think ae’s saving that so mac’ll only end up thinking of brimstone differently once she dies fighting the man which mac set up, and even then brimstone will still have been terrible. just a more well meaning terrible than initially thought

            Current score: 0
            • pedestrian says:

              Yo, I agree with your reasoning from the storyline.

              And for personal experiences of a situation that could easily be as misconstrued from a child’s viewpoint.

              ‘Having to listen to your child scream as they are being strapped down for emergency medical treatment.’

              Memories that can still make my stomach churn after all these years.

              Current score: 0
            • Ryzndmon says:

              It doesn’t matter if Gran would or wouldn’t have actually doused our Mack in holy water. She was cruel enough to
              1) Shove her hand in a pot of boiling water in front of a 9yo girl to demonstrate what would happen if she did throw blessed water on Mack,
              2) convince said 9yo, orphaned child that she had the water on hand (and, being a paladin, she could have consecrated water with a thought),
              3) make a ritual of describe, every single month, what Gran had to do to get Mack’s food, while describing exactly how the cousin’s reacted to it,
              4)spend a lifetime convincing a child that it didn’t matter how good she was in life, she was doomed to Hell just for existing,
              and last but certainly not least
              5) do everything in her power to ensure that Mack was isolated. Even in school. Gran’s local power and influence made sure that nobody found it worthwhile to befriend or treat Mack with kindness.
              So, yes, by any test, Mack was abused. Every single action Gran took can be found listed in any “Are you being abused” pamphlet.
              Mental cruelty is just as wrong, lasting and insidious than physical and sexual. And when done to a defenseless child?
              Gran is, IMHO, no better than a church leader who molests altar boys, maybe even worse. Altar boys only have to be aroung the priest on Sunday. For Mack this was all day every day.
              I’d say it’s a miracle that Mack has turned out as well as she did, but miracles are Khurdogs department, and that dog won’t hunt. Not for Mack’s kind of people.

              Current score: 0
            • pedestrian says:

              Ryzndmo, I am sorry but I have to disagree with many of your conclusions.

              Mackenzie, as a half-demon, in the context of the MUniverse is damned. Once every moon-cycle she has to feed on about a cup of human virgin blood.

              Mack has to understand at too young an age that she is in mortal danger because she is a mortal danger to others. That is the story.

              Until you are raising children you cannot understand the visceral horror of listening to that child screaming, in ignorance, as they are being strapped down for emergency medical treatment.

              Brimstone Blaise understands the grim realities of the society she lives in. A violent society where blood-feuds and lynchings are a common occurrence. That compromises have to be made with what influence Paladin Blaise could muster to permit her grand-daughter to allowed to live and be educated.

              Think of Typhoid Mary, a nice modest girl, who did not want to spend her life locked up. But OUR society had no other solution except to murder her. Whenever she was at liberty, she spread death everywhere she went. What choice would you make to deal with her? If your family was in danger?

              Current score: 0
    • TheTurnipKing says:

      I think what I’d say is Kegan is less repressed.

      Current score: 0
  3. pedestrian says:

    AE, terrific new chapter the AU. And interesting to compare Kegan’s experience and deliberate efforts to build a relationship with Alea. With that of Mackenzie just sorta ‘falling’ into her relationships with Amaranth and Steff.

    I’m sorry, I really hate this part but I’m such a loquacity geek, that I have an addiction to finding unknown word usage.

    ….valence…., did you mean ‘relevance’?

    Cause if you stretch the meaning of the valence, it does sort of work in this context as a subtle political commentary. Both with the powerplay between Alea and Kegan and also, Alea when she was back with Dee.

    From the dictionary, valence is the combining power of an element
    That would be relevant in-joke with ‘Elemental Magic’. From the root words: valentia ‘power, competence,’ & from valere ‘be well or strong’

    And, uhmm yes, I do mean biting the head off of chickens.
    Yummy snacking!

    Current score: 0
    • Lokean says:

      I would assume that Kegan is using valence in the linguistic sense, which is sufficiently specialised that, really, it’s not likely to turn up in your dictionary. It refers to the number of arguments that a verb takes (compare “it’s snowing”, which takes no arguments, to “She is painting him a picture” which takes three arguments)

      I assume the indecision comes from whether Alea’s partner would ‘put out’, ‘put out for you’, ‘put herself out’ &c. As such, it is likely that Kegan’s issue is not only to do with the valence of the verb but also the proper transitivity, in the sense of correctly identifying the accusative and dative objects.

      I should stop…

      Current score: 0
      • pedestrian says:

        Thanks Lokean, I did not know that usage for valence.

        I appreciate the heads up, I’ll add it to my tiny collection of things I do not know.

        Current score: 0
  4. Erm says:

    Dive On Inn

    Heh.

    Current score: 0
    • Mo says:

      Yay for dwarven cunnilingus puns!

      Current score: 0
    • Brenda says:

      I’m traveling, and yesterday passed a motel called the “C’mon Inn”…

      Current score: 0
  5. Just Some Guy says:

    Aw, that was sweet.

    I see Alea can snark as well as Dee. “So you hope that events will unfold in the manner about which you fantasized, with a partner who will coincidentally exhibit impulses that are perfectly symmetrical to your desires”, indeed. Maybe it’s a subterranean-elf thing?

    Although it’s going to be difficult not to think about Dee differently now that we have a diffferent perspective on her. Not that she doesn’t beat herself up about the relationship dynamics, but we’ve never seen it from someone else’s point of view before.

    Current score: 0
    • Tamina says:

      I think it shows the huge gulf between “I feel kinda bad for doing x but I will keep doing it” and “I am having x done to me”.

      Plus, and this is the impression I got from canon MU as well, Alea simply seems slightly more intelligent and vastly more socially aware than Dee. Dee has so much privilege that even *noticing* that it exists is difficult, whereas Alea has spend a lot of time thinking about the specifics and whys and wherefores.

      Current score: 0
  6. Nezeltha says:

    I just read this @ work on my phone… I’m pretty sure some of my customers were wondering why my face was so red…

    Current score: 0
  7. Spartakos says:

    First, let me say it was awesome and I loved it, and I like Kegan/Alea way more than Mack/Amy.

    That said…I was really, really looking forward to some eloquent smut, and I am a little let down by the ‘fast-forward’ through the act itself.

    But not enough to stop reading, of course. 🙂

    Current score: 0
    • Trystia Indraea Olyphis Farrower says:

      Oh, I was hoping for some more description too, but then I realized that I get to imagine it any which way I please, and that’s at least as much fun if not more so. Far too often a writer/director/etc will explicitly show something that won’t live up to my expectations, whereas leaving it unseen would have been so much better.

      Current score: 0
      • Spartakos says:

        I get that…but I can imagine my own sex scenes anytime I want. AE can write some (and has) that really stoke my iron, and I enjoy that.

        Wonderful writing is why I read these stories…and that applies to sweet-but-kinky sex scenes just as much as scenes of Jill Callahan being totally awesome. 🙂

        Current score: 0
  8. PrometheanSky says:

    I must say, that was quite enjoyable, if less graphic than I expected.

    Besides that, I’ve always found Mack’s shame=hot proclivities to be a tad squicky for my tastes. Kegan’s ‘tell me what to do’ attitude is something I identify with wholeheartedly though.

    Current score: 0
  9. megacheez says:

    i would have liked it to be a tad more discriptive. not full hardcore details but a little bit ear reddening would have been nice. especially curious in how she reacts to the demands/commands , how their bed play goes back and forth. the voyeur in me wants visualize the events unfolding and let imagination fill in the details. (puns intended 😛 )

    Current score: 0
  10. Cadnawes says:

    I like that Kegan seems to have a submissive streak as Mack does. This is relevant because of their different upbringings. People try to explain WHY people turn out kinked the way they are, but if you ask around, there just aren’t any good predictors. (Tho I think there may be story reasons why half demons in particular might be wired thus)

    I think it is nice to see sadomassochism treated in fiction in such a way as to make it clear that kink does not signify brokenness. Mack may have arrived at college as a wounded bird, but evidently that’s not why she suubmitted. Good.

    Current score: 0
  11. Zathras IX says:

    Command performance:
    A demanding position
    But quite rewarding

    Current score: 0
  12. Anthony says:

    Grid-plan cities aren’t all *that* new. Salt Lake City was built on a square grid, for example, at about the same time as the Civil War, and it’s probably not the first such city either.

    Also, this will make forf a very interesting topic for her next call home, to her mom who likes to read trashy romance novels involving dark elven princesses…

    Current score: 0