Chapter 231: Impossible PositionsAlexandra Erin on July 28, 2014 in Volume 2 Book 7: Courtly Manners, Volume 2: Sophomore Effort
In Which Glory Learns To Share
I started to regret giving in as soon as I realized that it would only be me weathering the night in Glory’s room, which was big enough for everyone to camp out in. I tried to make the point that if it was so dangerous for me to head back to the towers after dark, it would be risky for everyone else, but that didn’t fly.
“I’m not looking for a sleepover in pretty-pretty princess land,” Steff said. “Sorry.”
“You’re going to leave me here all alone?”
“You won’t be alone, baby,” Amaranth said. “I’m sure Glory or someone will help you with anything you need.”
“You could at least stay,” I said.
“I’d feel like I was intruding on Glory’s turf,” she said. “And, anyway, don’t you think it might be nice to have a chance to get to know Glory a little better, one on one?”
“I think I’d be well enough to go home, if I was well enough for that,” I said.
“Smart ass,” she said. “I just meant… you know, spending time together.”
“I thought the whole idea was spending the time asleep,” Ian said. “I wasn’t crazy about this idea to begin with… knowing that she’d be conked out most of the time made a little more appealing.”
“Really?” Steff said. “You feel better about leaving your girlfriend in a strange place with strange people if she’s going to be unconscious the whole time?”
“Thank you for your vote of trust,” Glory said. Her tone was sarcastic, but I didn’t know if it was aimed at Steff or Ian.
“Look, us all camping out together somewhere new isn’t the sort of thing that’s likely to lead to sleep,” Amaranth said. “And if we’re awake all night talking, we’ll be more likely to keep her up, too.”
“I’m tired, I’m not dead,” I said. “You don’t have to talk about me in third person… fine, you go, I’ll stay.”
“I’m sure Nicki will be downstairs, if it makes you feel any better,” Amaranth said.
“That makes me feel slightly better,” Ian said. “Slightly.”
“I’m sure Amaranth could find a bed somewhere under my roof without much trouble,” Glory said. “If that will resolve everybody’s assorted worries… otherwise, anybody who thinks I’m planning something nefarious is welcome to sleep on the floor, or the ceiling, or out in the hallway, or wherever they think will provide the maximum benefit. Just as long as we can actually move things along and stop talking about everyone as though they’re not here, including people with really good hearing who are standing two feet away. Trust me with your lady-love or not, but you will not stand around insulting me.”
This was received with a chorus of apologetic remarks and looks.
“I will stay somewhere close, thank you… I’m sure that will be enjoyable for everyone,” Amaranth said. “Ian, Steff, I’ll walk you to the door?”
“Sure, Amy-doll,” Steff said, twining her arm around Amaranth’s waist as the three of them headed for the door. “Goodnight, Mack!”
Grace and Nicki lingered a few moments longer, as if unsure of what to do, but at a look from her sister, Grace touched Nicki on the arm and led her towards the door. Nicki looked over her shoulder and mouthed the word “sorry” in my direction… I’m not sure what she was apologizing for. I was pretty sure she didn’t know, either.
“So… alone at last,” Glory said.
“Yeah,” I said. “Sorry about that whole… thing. I guess I should have asked before I tried to convince them to sleep on your floor.”
“I will admit to a twinge of irritation… but if you really wouldn’t have been comfortable, I wouldn’t have wanted you to stay,” she said. “Anyway, it needed figuring out.”
“It seemed like everybody else had figured on dumping me here, until I opened my mouth,” I said.
“Is that how you feel? Dumped?”
“It’s… not a bad place to be dumped?” I said. “But be honest, this probably isn’t how you imagined me spending the night in your bed.”
“Oh, I’ve never even imagined that,” she said.
“Never?” I said, my surprise maybe coming out a little too sharply.
“Well… it’s my bed,” she said. “I wouldn’t let someone else sleep in it lightly, you know.”
“So I guess ‘sleeping together’ really is just a euphemism for you,” I said.
“You know, I’ve never really understood where that one came from before,” Glory said. “I always figured it was because human sex was so boring you might as well be asleep.”
“You’ve never noticed that human couples tend to actually sleep in the same bed?”
“Most of the humans around me are college students who live in tiny little rooms with tiny beds,” Glory said. “You’d practically have to sleep on top of each other to fit in one of those, especially with human sized bones and bodies. I really can’t imagine someone doing that willingly… I figured that it happened, but only when people were too tired to go back to their own rooms.”
“Okay, but what about like… closeness, afterwards?” I asked.
“You can be close awake,” she said. “But once you’re asleep, how would you even know? Well, obviously you’d feel them moving around and hear their breath and their heartbeat and smell their skin… so I guess the real question is, how would you sleep, if you know?”
“I’ve always slept better with people crowded around me,” I said. “It makes me feel… safer.”
“It makes you feel warmer, probably,” she said. “I mean, what’s warmer: a blanket made out of cotton, or a blanket made out of nymph?”
“I’m pretty sure there’s more of an emotional component to it than that,” I said.
“You would know better than I would,” she said. “But anyway, my bed is for your use tonight. I’ll sleep elsewhere.”
“I really don’t want to kick you out of your own room,” I said.
“Honestly, I don’t know what’s more insulting: that you think you could, or that you don’t recognize my generous hospitality,” she said. “Would you feel better about displacing someone you barely know, who doesn’t have another bed to go to? Because that’s the alternative here.”
“No, but… wait, are you not going to just kick one of your followers out of her own bed?” I asked.
“Not from a certain point of view.”
“What point of view is that?”
“The one that says that all the beds are mine, regardless of who’s using them,” she said.
“Then I’m going to be displacing a near-stranger either way,” I said. “Now that I know that, I might as well do it.”
“But you’re already here,” she said. “Doesn’t ‘might as well do it’ apply just as well?”
“But you’re also already here,” I said. “It’s a question of displacing one person, or two… anyway, your bed is huge. It’s way too big for a single person… of ordinary stature, I mean. But there’s no reason you couldn’t share it with me while you’re still using it.”
“I am sharing my bed with you,” she said. “That’s how you’re allowed to use it. There’s no reason for me to sleep in it, though, while it’s occupied.”
“I’m not comfortable kicki… putting you out of your own bed, and I’m even less comfortable being the reason anyone else gets turned out of a bed they’re using,” I said. “And you said that you don’t want me to do this if it makes me uncomfortable.”
“That’s a low blow, Mackenzie Blaise,” she said. “But if it will end the argument, fine… but you must let me help you move over to make room.”
“If I must,” I said, though I really didn’t mind. I’d honestly been trying to move a bit from time to time since I’d woken up, with very little success. Never mind sleeping together, I couldn’t imagine how anyone would ever have sex on those impossible pillows.
Of course, as soon as I thought that, my brain started trying to imagine it anyway… Glory or Steff probably could have managed some of what I envisioned with, but I wasn’t nearly that acrobatic, and even then, I wasn’t at all sure that any of the positions came up with were even possible.
But then, I wasn’t sure that what happened next was, either…
Glory lifted a leg and stepped easily over the rail like she would step onto the piled pillows, though instead her foot sank between them almost as smoothly as if they weren’t there. She swung her other leg over and it did the same thing. Waist-deep in pillow, she waded through them as easily as if they were water… or air.
They weren’t intangible. I could see them moving or squishing aside for her, leaving as little trace of her passage behind her as a druid moving through the underbrush. She helped me roll over a couple times until I was closer to the side. It still felt like there was room for another person between me and the rail.
“Here,” she said, bending over and reaching for the hem of my shirt. “Let me help you with that.”
“Hey!” I said, blocking her with my arms. “I thought I was supposed to be resting!”
“Yes, and that’s why I’m offering to help,” she said, stopping and taking a fluid step backwards. “I hope you don’t think I’m in the habit of assisting others with their clothes, Mackenzie Blaise.”
“I can’t imagine anything I’d need to take my shirt off for that would qualify as ‘restful’,” I said.
“Why do I need my shirt off to sleep?”
“Well, I don’t know,” she said. “Personally, I prefer silk… you’re the one who sleeps naked.”
“Oh,” I said. “Yeah, I usually do. I hadn’t actually been planning on that, though… you kind of caught me off-guard. I’m a little jumpy about the idea of… well, pretty much anything having to do with sex and false pretenses, or going anywhere and false pretenses, or… pretty much anything to do with false pretenses.”
“My, what an unusual hang-up,” she said pointedly.
“Okay, so no one’s really a fan of false pretenses,” I said. “I just… have reasons to be touchy about certain things.”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’d promise that I wasn’t thinking anything remotely sexual, but that would pretty much always be a lie. I wasn’t intending anything sexual, though.”
“Not even in a ‘let’s just get her shirt off and see where it goes’ kind of way?” I asked.
“I don’t see where things go,” she says. “When it happens, I plan to have a very definite say in where it goes, I can promise you that. Is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable?”
“…do you mean, to put me at ease after that, or physically?”
I thought about it, and then thought of how often I went to sleep with clothes on and woke up naked… and then imagined having to hunt through the pool of pillows for a balled-up t-shirt and panties in the morning. That could easily become a big production. It would probably be better if I could lay them carefully aside before falling asleep.”
“If you could help me sit up, I guess I actually wouldn’t mind getting undressed.”
“If you’re sure…”
“I am,” I said. Now that I knew what Glory was up to… or what she wasn’t… I kind of had a bit of a giddy thrill about the idea of her seeing me naked. It would be like a safe way of skipping ahead, since it was something that otherwise probably wouldn’t happen for a long time.
“Okay,” she said. “Tomorrow you can fetch me as many stars from the sky as you can carry, but tonight, I don’t want you doing anything more to please me.”
Once she had me sitting upright, I realized that it was more than a lack of anything to push or pull against that had been making it hard for me to get myself up. Maybe it really had been a good idea for me to stay where I was.
“Maybe I could use a little help getting this up over my head,” I said, touching my shirt.
“Are you sure?” she asked. “Because I’m serious, Mackenzie… I wouldn’t want you to do something you don’t want, just to protect my feelings. My feelings are important, but they’re not spun glass. You don’t have to keep them up on a shelf.”
“It was the shirt-taking-off in general that I was iffy about,” I said. “Nothing about you. And I’m not iffy anymore.”
She didn’t argue any more, which was good… I wasn’t sure that I had it in me to push it any further. After a certain point, I didn’t think it would matter how comfortable I was, because it was obvious that if she didn’t know for sure that I was really okay, she wouldn’t be.
Which was a nice thing to realize. I wondered at the fact that Glory had either managed to rise to a relatively high position in Treehome in spite of qualms like this, or that she’d managed to develop those qualms despite having occupied such a position.
Once she got my shirt off, she didn’t need nearly as much prompting to get my bra off.
“So, those are the piercings that caused so much trouble,” she said.
I blushed and looked away.
“I tend to forget about them,” I said. “I’m so used to them by now that if someone isn’t touching them, I’m barely aware they’re there.”
“After everything you went through?”
“Yeah, after all that,” I said. “Which I guess might be part of the lesson, if there is a lesson. The longer I’m at school, the less I believe in lessons.”
“That’s a pretty sad statement on things, considering it’s, you know, a school,” she said.
“The funny thing is, I really never stop looking for them.”
“Mackenzie Blaise, the idealist?”
“I’m not sure ‘the shitty things in life should at least teach you something’ really qualifies as an ideal,” I said. “Whatever, though.”
“Not to sound eager, but were you going to sleep in your jeans?”
I thought about that. They were the most likely thing to stay on through the night, and if they did, my panties would probably stay where they belonged, too… and also, it was unlikely that I’d have a problem with wandering hands during the night. I think the stories the others told me about my nocturnal habits were probably wildly exaggerated, but it would be embarrassing and probably inappropriate if I ended up getting a little too excited while sleeping next to Glory.
Why did I insist on her joining me, again? I asked myself.
On the other hand… they were my tight jeans, and they already felt uncomfortable.
“If it will help you answer quicker, I think we can eliminate most possible answers if you restrict yourself to yes or no,” she said.
“I was considering,” I said.
“No sense doing it by half measures,” I said.