OT: Tales of AU – The More Things ChangeAlexandraErin 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.
“And seeking… immediate gratification.”
“There is a shower,” she says. “Show me.”