Chapter 274: Crossing Thresholds

on January 16, 2015 in Volume 2 Book 8: Elven Holiday, Volume 2: Sophomore Effort

In Which Mackenzie and Glory Grope Towards A Future

When we arrived at the poolside for the late night orientation meeting Glory had scheduled, there were only three of the other elves in our party there, along with Nicki

“We are a bit early,” I said, but Glory gave me a look that I thought was meant to suggest I shouldn’t make a big deal if the rest of the group didn’t show up.

Nicki was holding hands with Grace, the two of them dangling their legs in the pool. They both waved at us with their free hands, though I noticed Nicki dropped her gaze pretty quickly. I thought from what I could see of her smile that it wasn’t necessarily anything bad, just… bashfulness.

They and two of the others had arrived in their swimwear. We’d come straight from dinner, and were still dressed accordingly. I was momentarily confused that my suit didn’t get a bigger reaction, but of course the pool area was one of the most brightly lit areas on deck. Seen under the harsh light of safety, it was just slightly shiny black fabric.

While five more of Glory’s court did trickle into the pool area in the minutes leading up to and just after the appointed hour, they seemed to be the limit of who was coming. I wasn’t at all surprised that Grace and Nicki had been among the first, but what did surprise me was that Wisdom wasn’t there at all.

Glory went over the stuff she’d signed the group up for, though she presented each thing as an “in case you want to” rather than “this is what we’re going to do”.

I felt like I understood the look she’d given me… she hadn’t really expected this kind of turnout, but now that it had happened, she couldn’t exactly argue with it, either. She hadn’t just loosened the reins she held over her court in the early hours of the trip… she had basically demonstrated that they didn’t exist, for the purposes of this trip.

It was no surprise that half the group or so would have chosen to test the limits of their new-found freedom immediately, and given that, her choice had either been to crack down on those who had not shown up, or affirm the understanding that here up in the air, there was no court.

We weren’t dressed for swimming and I didn’t feel like changing anytime soon, so we didn’t hang around after the not-so-courtly business was taken care of. Instead, we took a stroll in the night air.

“It’s going to be interesting when we get back to campus,” Glory said once we were alone. “I’m not sure it will be possible to go back to the way things were after this.”

“Well… you wanted to head in this direction anyway, didn’t you?”

“Yes, but in a more controlled manner,” she said. “I thought I could offer a taste, a preview, to whet their appetites… I thought it would be necessary to coax them out of the hierarchy. Though I guess tradition seems more appealing when you’re the one who benefits from it?”

“Well, by the same token… maybe they won’t be in such a hurry to completely level the castle,” I said. “Not when there’s a fresh batch of newbies coming in on the ground floor, and more to come.”

“You have a point,” Glory said. “I guess I’ll have to play it by ear… fortunately, mine are very sensitive.”

“The thing I don’t understand is why Wisdom would snub you.”

“We aren’t choosing to receive it as a snub, if you didn’t notice.”

“Sorry, I did notice… but you know what I mean,” I said.

“I do. I also understand why Wisdom of all people wouldn’t have come, especially if it was obvious that some of the others wouldn’t,” Glory said.

“Playing hard to get?”

“Not exactly,” Glory said. “Just giving me space. I made it clear there would be no advantage to pressing her suit… excuse me, pressing her case… while we’re on vacation. So she’s not going to do something that seems like currying favor. If all or most of the court had been going, she wouldn’t have stayed behind, because that would make a statement. Here she’s avoided making one.”

“That makes sense,” I said.

“Anyway, if that clears up your confusion…”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I know you said you didn’t want to talk about that kind of stuff while you’re on vacation.”

“While we are on vacation,” Glory said. “I don’t want you to feel like you have to spend your time fighting for your job when you should be enjoying yourself… and me… and Nicki maybe Nicki.”

“Well… at the risk of running further afoul of that… I’m not so sure I would fight Wisdom for it,” I said.

“You have no reason to be intimidated by her,” Glory said. “Not in that area.”

“It’s not that,” I said. “I just… I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep up having two commitments to you, as I get into higher level classes and am doing a lot more enchanting work in more of them, and maybe trying to get an angle on a job I can keep past graduation, that relates to my interests.”

“I’m not an interest of yours?”

“My area of study, then,” I said. “If I had to choose between preserving one of the two relationships you have with me, I know which one it would be… and maybe what you said about opportunities is getting to me, but I’m wondering how much sense it even makes to worry about holding onto the other one?”

“I can’t really fault that,” Glory said. “And I guess I don’t mind you thinking about it, or us talking about it, as long as we’re not falling under the heading of drama… I mean, there are enough things I can’t stop worrying about during this trip, but since I can’t do anything about them, either, I’d rather just have fun.”

“Well, I don’t really want to dwell on this topic, either,” I said. “I think that’s probably why I threw it out there… so I don’t walk around for the next few days just going back and forth on it inside my head.”

“So… we’ve figured out what we both don’t want to do,” Glory said. “But the night is young, or at least it feels that way since we slept through the first half of it… we have no engagements, pressing or otherwise. So the question is, what do we want to do with each other?”

I blushed, because the answer seemed obvious… but I didn’t know what to say, because at the same time, it was anything but.

“Mackenzie?” Glory prompted.

“Sorry,” I said. “I was just… pulling my thoughts together.”

“Thought about what?”

“Are you worried that we’re still in the figuring out what we like phase?” I said. “Sexually, I mean… with respect to each other.”

“You think that’s a phase?”

“Well, sooner or later… I hope… we’ve got to figure it out, don’t we?” I said.

“I don’t disagree,” Glory said. “But I’d rather it be sooner and later… again, and again. For however long we are together, Mackenzie Blaise, I hope we never stop learning new things about each other. I hope we ever stop learning new ways to please each other. Is that not the goal?”

“I always figured the goal was to get comfortable with one another.”

Glory laughed.

“Sex should not produce discomfort, nor depend on it… but I’ve never thought about it as being about comfort,” she said. “We should be be comfortable enough with one another to do whatever it is that we want to do with one another, but in a broader sense? To me, being comfortable implies that we have stopped moving forward, stopped improving. There’s certainly a time to come to rest in bed, but it’s not during sex.”

“I guess I can understand that,” I said. “But let me rephrase my original question: are you worried about how far along we are in this ongoing process?”

“As compared to what?”

“Where we should be?”

“And how is that determined, and by whom?” Glory said. “If this bothers you, Mackenzie, then I suspect one or two possible causes: either you are unsatisfied with how far we’ve come together… how we’ve come together, so far… or you fear there isn’t much further for us to go.”

“I… I guess maybe I do worry about that second part, a bit,” I said. “But I’m more worried that you might feel that way. Either of those ways.”

“I don’t,” she said. “Would taking things further help to alleviate this?”

“Maybe, a bit,” I said. “I think it also might be something that needs to be talked out.”

“Well, you know we don’t have to choose between one or the other, right?” she said.

“Yeah, but how can we be sure we’re going to be in the mood for sex after we talk?” I said. “Or up for talking after sex? Our first time really did take a lot out of me.”

“No more than I put into you,” she said. “But who said after? I’ve met Amaranth, remember. I can’t believe the idea of having a discussion while having sex is completely alien to you.”

“Oh… yeah, I guess I was seeing it as a bit of a dichotomy,” I said. “I know that, you know… threshing out boundaries and stuff can be part of the fun, but I guess I never really thought about serious relationship discussions as being sexy.”

“Really? I see it as intimacy layered on top of intimacy,” Glory said. “And anyway, won’t we be talking about boundaries? Goals? Things that please us? Things we want?”

“…I guess I didn’t think of it that way,” I said. I could feel myself heating up… I wasn’t even thinking of anything in particular. Just hearing Glory saying the words ‘please’ and ‘want’ was making cold shivers run down my increasingly warm skin.

“The problem is, you’re seeing this as problems that have to be solved before we can do anything really fun,” Glory said.

“How do you see them, my queen?”

“As part of the fun. Are you ready to head back to the room?”

“I think so,” I said.

“Be definite.”

“Yes,” I said. “Yes, I’m ready.”

I started to look at my bracelet, but Glory seemed to have a pretty good idea what the most direct route back to our suite was, even though it wasn’t the way we’d come. We walked in silence, my hand in hers.. her leading, me following.

“I suppose sex in the window is off the table,” Glory said, pulling me into the room before shutting the door.

“And sex on the table is out the window,” I said.

“I don’t think that would be… oh, you were being witty.”

“Doesn’t suit me, does it?” I said. “I’m sure the bed isn’t going to be that bad… we both slept on it okay.”

“I’m sure it’s perfectly suitable,” Glory said. “But even with the window out of the running, it’s still in third place on the list of locations I’d want to try doing you.”

The stateroom was not that big, but I looked around it anyway. Nothing leaped out at me.

“Where did you have in mind?” I asked.

“Where do you think?” Glory said. “We have a shower and a bathtub that are both just about purpose-built for fucking.”

“Oh,” I said. I blushed, less with any kind of real embarrassment and more because that was what my face did when it got excited.

“That is assuming you’re not tired of hot, wet sexy times after the party boat.”

“Even if I was… that already feels like ages ago,” I said. “Like something that didn’t happen, and didn’t happen in another life.”

“Then would you prefer the shower, or the bath?”

“I… actually kind of really like showers for sex,” I said. “The heat, the steam… and it makes everything feel, I don’t know… more cleansing than dirty. We… I mean, Amaranth and I… we did fool around in the showers in Harlowe a few times when we were reasonably sure we’d have them to ourselves, but it wasn’t something I was comfortable doing because shared. And our shower now… well, standing up in a one person bathtub is not exactly the best way for two people to maneuver.”

“Poor dear girl,” Glory said. “I’m surprised you’ve been thinking of anything else besides the shower this whole time.”

“I… I don’t actually think about sex that often,” I said. “I just do it intensely when I do.”

“I’m pretty sure you think about everything intensely.”

“I mean, in a way that overwhelms everything else,” I said. “I used to… when I first started allowing myself to feel things, I would get… really distracted… in the worst places.”

“Like standing up in a bathtub?”

“Like in class,” I said.

“The things I still don’t know about you,” Glory said. “And you were worried that talking would get in the way of fun.”

“This is exciting?”

“Mackenzie, you just told me in your own charmingly roundabout way that you sometimes get so horny in class you can’t think about anything else,” she said. “How do you imagine that makes me feel?”

“I… I kind of expect most people would laugh at it?” I said, my eyes squeezing shut at the thought. Now my cheeks burned with embarrassed. I wasn’t any less turned on, though… if anything, I was more.

“Hold on to that thought,” Glory said, now leading me through the bedroom to its attached bath. “I’m going to want to hear more once we get going.”

“What about figuring out what we like?”

“I don’t know about you, but to me, talking about the things that make you too desperate to function sounds like an excellent place to start.”

“Okay… I just hope you don’t get your hopes up too much,” I said. “I mean, what if we can’t figure out anything that translates what I like into something you like, and vice-versa?”

“Then we’ll damn sure have fun trying.”


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14 Responses to “Chapter 274: Crossing Thresholds”

  1. Order of Chaos says:

    We’ll have fun trying is going on my list of things I need say.

    Current score: 5
    • N'vill says:

      Oh I’ve been there, and a few times too. Back to the old saying, it isn’t getting there that is important, it is the journey that is. Believe me having the fun trying is —- well it’s fun!

      Current score: 1
  2. erianaiel says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with Glory here.
    Bathtubs are really not very suited for the horizontal kind of fun (and the vertical variety just makes you feel awkward and silly, not to mention dangerous slippery underfoot). Unless they really are more like shallow swimming pools.
    Showers on the other hand …
    Though cold tiles on your wet back are a kind of brr… Takes a while to find the mood back after pushing against them. And shower curtains are utterly useless of course (and worse, they tend to be drawn inwards by the draft and cling to you). Glass shower walls tend not to be designed with withstanding vigorous activities in mind.
    As long as you remain peripherally aware of those limitations, showers are the best place for this kind of fun. Well, it really is hard to beat a washing machine in its spin cycle. Or a lake shore at a warm summer evening. Or … I guess there are many other fun places, but showers are pretty high up on that list too.
    And I wished I had been told much earlier that I should have started with the adventurous stuff, and leave the really vanila varieties for when the sense of adventure has gone away with the phsyical ability (long may that be in the future).

    Current score: 0
  3. sliversith says:

    I feel kind of like the explorations in Tales of AU (and actually, kind of that entire arc) are being slid into Mackenzie’s interactions with Glory… which kind of make sense, if you think about it, as Keegan is literally an alternate Mackenzie, with more martial training, more confidence, and an elven lover…… well, that is starting to be just what we have, isn’t it?

    I do miss some of the side arcs though 🙁

    Current score: 2
    • Yumi says:

      And shower sex with said elven lover…

      Current score: 0
    • Nocker says:

      Eh, Mackenzie still misses Keegan’s fundamental traits on a lot of levels. Keegan is present in a lot of ways Mackenzie is kind of distant(literally, Keegan thinks in present tense and Mackenzie does not), cuts to the heart of issues a lot faster(she figures out Feejee’s shape-shifting trick within seconds, as opposed to weeks), and generally prepares for things ahead of time in ways Mackenzie doesn’t(and ONLY Mackenzie. Keegan keeping an armored layer is shared between her, Wisdom, and about half a dozen humans. Mackenzie is kind of stupid about it.).

      You could give Mackenzie the biggest sword in the world and she’d come up short by comparison even then. There’s a fundamental difference in thought process that makes Keegan several degrees more reliable and capable.

      Current score: 4
      • Lunaroki says:

        “You could give Mackenzie the biggest sword in the world and she’d come up short by comparison even then.”

        Well, naturally. Mackenzie isn’t trained in sword-fighting, not to mention even if she was strong enough to wield the biggest sword in the world it would be damn awkward to wield, and Mackenzie is just a natural-born klutz.

        Current score: 2
        • Nocker says:

          Well we kind of have to contest the natural-born bit. It’s the whole point of the argument after all.

          Current score: 0
          • zeel says:

            I have to agree. Mackenzie could learn coordination (as Dee has offered to train her), she simply hasn’t. Though she has improved greatly since last year.

            Current score: 0
            • Nocker says:

              Of course “improvement” is relevant. She spent most of her childhood locked in a basement and basically got thrown in the deep end after. Improvements aside, she’s still got a whole bunch of mental issues to work through that she’s barely even addressed, and even beyond that she’s only more or less stumbled into fixes for the larger issues that come with being a demon blooded human.

              Statistically speaking, a whole lot more capable people in her situation have *died*, and she’s gonna need to work a whole lot harder to avoid an ugly meltdown.

              Current score: 0
  4. Zathras IX says:

    Sex should not produce
    Discomfort unless all those
    Involved prefer it

    Current score: 5
  5. Mike Conner says:

    “While we are on vacation,” Glory said. “I don’t want you to feel like you have to spend your time fighting for your job when you should be enjoying yourself… and me… and Nicki maybe Nicki.”

    Don’t get that last part. A word or two missing maybe? Also

    I hope we ever stop learning new ways to please each other.

    That ever should probably be a never.

    Current score: 0
    • Seth says:

      Grammatical errors while “talking about the things that make you too desperate to function” are allowed, I think. 🙂

      Current score: 0
    • Lucy says:

      the first Nicki is extra

      Current score: 0