363: On The Stick

on March 16, 2009 in Book 13

In Which Steff Lets Mackenzie Have It In The Library

Steff couldn’t keep her hands off me in the library. Though to be honest, I don’t think she was really trying very hard not to… and to be even more honest, I didn’t mind the failure all that much.

In fact, I would have loved to go back to my room with her… or at least find some place more private… and let her do more than run her hands over me.

Amaranth could pull gently on my heart without even trying. Steff had the same effect on the rest of me, only it wasn’t particularly gentle… and even if she didn’t have to try, she threw some extra effort into it, anyway.

The briefest look, the lightest touch, the barest whisper… all were sufficient to render me into jelly. But Steff’s looks tended to linger, her touches trailed, and her whispers echoed in my ears. She had her hooks sunk deeply into my skin, and she was jerking them, hard.

It would have been bad enough even if she hadn’t looked ten times as drop-dead gorgeous as normal.

It killed me a little to think about the fact that it was for Viktor, not for me… but then I realized that she probably hadn’t been lounging around in bed in the gown, which meant she’d decided to get all dressed up just to leave him for a bit. Why else, if not for my benefit?

But even while she couldn’t seem to keep her hands away from my ass, even while she seemed as hot and ready to go as she ever was, she also seemed bizarrely focused on looking at every book in the staff and pole section. Not just finding one that seemed okay, but actually going through them point by point.

“Steff, come on,” I said, picking up the one we’d just looked at. “C‘mon, what‘s wrong with this one?”

“You don’t want to half-ass this, Mack,” she said.

“Why not? You half-ass everything you do,” I said.

“Everything I do but your ass,” she said. “And my ass is worth like ten of yours, so I can half-ass and still come out ahead. Anyway, anything worth actually getting out of bed and doing is worth actually getting out of bed and doing right, right?”

“If Callahan wanted me to have a particular one, she would have said so, so let’s just take one and go, okay?” I said.

“You want a good one for you,” Steff said. “I mean, I think at this point you can pretty much give up on the idea of impressing Jillybean, you know? Just passing would be a good thing.”

“Great, so let’s just grab a book,” I said.

“Look, you’re not even paying attention,” Steff said, which seemed like an unfair accusation when her hand was slipping inside my shirt. “You should be more into this.” If she’d been talking about the way her dick was pushing against the seat of my jeans or her fingertips were brushing the underside of my breast, I was way into that. “It’s a staff… the nerdiest of nerd weapons. When you get your own, you can even put a stupid glowing crystal on top of it and load it up with a bunch of lame magic-detecting spells.”

“Why can’t you just pick one out?”

“I’m trying to figure out what’s best for you,” she said, emphasizing the pronoun by pulling me closer. “I’d want one that has visual guides, but I think maybe you’re more of a bookworm… do you think you might do better if you could start with detailed written instructions?”

“Look, I don’t know,” I said. “I’ve never honestly given this much thought before.”

“Right, which is why we have to figure it out now,” Steff said.

“Isn’t it enough that I get this in class from Callahan?”

“Do you really need me to answer that?” Steff replied.

“Come on,” I moaned… I mean, really moaned. Steff seriously needed to make up her mind what we were doing. “Even Dee’s getting in on the act now… she’s going to have me start bringing a staff to meditation or something.”

“Oh, that should be awesome,” Steff said. “Unless there’s another hilarious double standard, she would have been combat trained since she could walk… and she’s a martial combat major up here, isn‘t she?”

“Uh… I‘d forgotten about that, actually,” I said. “But I think she’s more a divinity major who’s also studying martial combat.”

“Oh, will you knock that off?” Steff said. “Damn it, Mack, we all know you’re not above fighting when your back is to the wall…”

“Yeah, then why do I have to keep proving it to everybody?” I asked.

“You don’t,” Steff said. “You just need to quit acting like learning how to fight is going to, I don’t know… demean you somehow. Not only is that going to get your sweet butt killed some day, but it’s kind of insulting to those of us who do know.”

“I don’t mean it like that!” I said. “I mean, it’s okay for you…”

“Strange, I feel like I’ve had this conversation before,” Steff said.

“Okay, look at it this way,” I said, trying to think about just why I had such a visceral resistance to this kind of thing. “I know that I need to be ready to defend myself, but… if I get all gung-ho on fighting then it’s like I want it or something… like I‘m saying it‘s going to happen… does that make any sense?”

“You think if you learn how to fight, you’re just going to end up doing it?” Steff said. “Ah, abstinence only self-defense classes… that’ll work real well.”

“Well… I’m not saying it’s completely rational,” I said. “It’s just maybe how I feel…”

“Or maybe it’s bullshit you’re stringing together to find an excuse for the fact that you’ve got a hate-on for jocks,” Steff said. “I don’t care what Amy says, Mack… it really is okay to hate, but my fuck… at least hate intelligently. Hate responsibly, as the commercials say. Hate the bitches that live on your floor and the dicks that run the newspaper. Hate the people who leave blessed shit lying around for you to stumble into. The world is full of people who are worth your hatred. Why waste it on people who’ve done nothing more than learn something you don’t know how to do, especially when you could learn it for yourself if you’d just get over it?”

“Is that really what you think this is about?” I asked. “Jealousy?”

“Part of it, yeah,” Steff said. “Or sour grapes… you don’t know how to fight so it can’t be worth anything. That’s a stupid attitude to have towards any skill, but you need this one, Mack, which means you need to person up and get over it… and trust me, hon, we’re all as sick of this conversation as you are, but you’re the reason we keep having it.”

“Like your life’s been an uninterrupted stream of progress from point A to point B,” I said.

“Oh, right, I cut myself with a vampiric dagger, so that means it’s okay for you to flunk a weapons class and then get killed by an angry mob you don’t know how to defend yourself from,” Steff said. “

“That’s not what I…”

“If you’re looking at me for license to screw this up, you don’t have to look that hard,” Steff said, working up to a rant. “I’d give you permission, but you don‘t actually need it. Fuck up whatever the fuck you want to fuck up, okay? It’s a free empire! I’m not paying for your education, and I honestly wouldn’t judge you for failing a class or even blowing it off entirely. You think I care what grade Jill gives me? I’m there because of her, because I love baiting her, making her react… getting her to bait me back. You’re in there, for what? Because Amaranth told you to? Because you need to learn to defend yourself? Because you have to have your WP credits? All of those are maybe better reasons than mine, but if all together they’re not worth actually, you know, doing it, maybe you should just stop wasting your time entirely.”

I stared at her, not sure what to say to that. Before I could gather up a response, one of the librarians came hurrying out from between the rows.

“Damn it, Steff, don’t make me kick you… whoa,” she said, literally and metaphorically stopping in her tracks at the sight of her.

“Sorry,” Steff said. “I was just, uh, sharing my passion for learning.”

“Yeah, well, you know the rules about sharing your passion, too,” the librarian said, and she turned and left.

“Okay, look,” I said to Steff. “Compromise… just pick out a book. Honestly, they’re all the same to me…”

“They won’t be if…”

“Right now, they are,” I said. “So let’s pick one out and I’ll give it a try and if it doesn’t make sense for me or whatever we’ll come back.”

“But you’ll seriously try it,” she said.

“Yeah,” I said.

“Okay,” Steff said. “Let’s get this one,” she said, picking up one that had a lot of diagrams illustrating stances and moves as well as some full animated images. “The guy’s supposed to be pretty good. He’s won all sorts of awards: All-Imperium bo master, two time gold medalist in quarterstaff, recipient of the prestigious Order of the St…”

“I get the idea,” I said, looking at the book: Staff of Defense: A Warrior’s Art, A Wizard’s Tool. “That actually… I don’t know. Part of me wants to think it’s lame that they…”

“Got fighter cooties all over your mystic arts?”

“Something like that,” I said. “But I guess it might be a better approach. So, uh… let‘s go get this checked out, and then we can… um…”

“’Um’ here meaning ‘go get started reading so you’ve got something new to show Jilly’?”

“That’s not quite what I had in mind,” I said.

“But it’s what you’re going to do, isn’t it?”

“Steff, we haven’t seen each other…”

“Since the day before yesterday,” Steff said. She leaned forward and gave me a quick kiss on the lips… not her usual kiss, but nothing I‘d turn down. “I love you, too… and I’m horny as fuck, and I’d love nothing more than to punish the inside of your ass for all the sins of the world, but you’ve got something you need to do.”

“Damn it, why’d you have to wake up all reasonable?” I asked, giving her what felt like the kind of wistful half-smile she was more likely to give me. Considering the source, it was probably more like a dopey grimace.

“Because the alternative might be not waking up one day,” she said.

“In that case, let’s just go with it,” I said.

“Yeah, good idea.”

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16 Responses to “363: On The Stick”

  1. pseudopoiuytfgh says:

    recipient of the prestigious Order of the St…”

    order of the stick? lol refrence to dnd based webcomic? or coincidence?

    Current score: 10
  2. JJ says:

    Mack is so bratty. I would stoped reading this if you wouldn’t made it clear that you are aware of her attitude. I hope that a chapter which redeems her comes fast … I kind of lost sight what makes her friends stay. Okay Amy and Steff I understand because Macks behaviours makes me wanna hit her, but Two and Ian and Dee … I don’t know.

    Current score: 1
    • HollowGolem says:

      To be fair, because Mack’s our narrator, and we can see more of the stupidity bouncing around inside her head than they can, she probably seems worse to us than to them.

      Also, as someone who knows a decent amount about developmental psychology, and the sort of long-term damage to her personality someone like Martha was capable of doing to her in 9 years of living together, I’m a little more accepting of her glaring personality flaws.

      Current score: 12
  3. pedestrian says:

    I suspect that Brimstone Martha will develop a more interesting character then a child can understand. Until you have been in the situation of having to listen to your own child or other love one screaming in pain and fear while medical personnel are trying to administer emergency treatment, you will never comprehend what desperation Martha has endured.

    A clever demon deliberately seduced Martha’s daughter {twice!} The death of the mother left Martha with the responsibility of succoring a half human, half demon beast. And at that age all children are beasts who need to be trained to join the rest of humanity. Every parent carries the burden. And as often as we fuck up one of the most important responsibilities of our life, it’s a wonder the human population survives.

    It is evident that Martha made every attempt possible to protect and raise Mackenzie, the best she knew how, with the limited resources available. In a tiny, rural community of narrow-minded and violent bigots. It would have been easy/simpler/condoned if she had just drowned the monster’s child in the tub of holy water.

    No one in her community would have criticized her, more likely they would of celebrated with a tastefully solemn religious ceremony. While slaves buried the child’s body at a crossroads with a brick in it’s mouth or a stake driven through it’s heart.

    Current score: 3
    • Arakano says:

      Except she might have been brought to trial for murder if any halfway decent official person heard of it.

      And FUCK your post, sorry. “She tried her best” is a valid excuse for a seriously abusive treatment of a child? Sorry, pedestrian, but I thoroughly disagree with you on that. Also, apparently SOMEONE forced Mack’s mom to give her first child up for adoption… who if not Martha, I ask? I feel no pity for that old paladin…

      Current score: 7
    • BlackWizard says:

      There’s also another sort of truism that’s at work here. “Everyone knows” how easy, fun & wild a catholic school girl is, as well as a preachers kid. One of the fundamental reasons WHY such children are usually such sexually promiscuous and/or rebellious type teens or young adults once they get away from their upbringing or just going to a regular college is BECAUSE they were so repressed and rigidly controlled by their parent(s). Like most stereotypes, these are based on a pretty broad board of actual facts. Just as it’s “known” that blacks can dance or are real athletic. In real life, of course, not all catholic girls are freaks or all blacks can dance and/or play basketball, but if you see it so much, if it ACTUALLY happens so often, so consistently it’s what perpetuates the stereotype in the first place.

      In Mack’s case, is it any wonder that she is so out there sexually? Is it any wonder that because she was beat down mentally not only by society as a whole but by her own grandmother, that she is so shy and so socially awkward? She was raised in the kind of environment that she could have easily become a sociopath instead of a person trying to grow DESPITE how she was raised instead of because of it.

      Current score: 2
      • Rey d'Tutto says:

        Spoiler alert!!!

        Someone can’t keep his or her or its yap shut.


        Current score: 1
    • Anthony says:

      Agreed. For years, it really felt like the author was trying to set up Martha as a complex character in a bad situation, whose methods, while harsh, were shown to make sense when we see what happens when the iron self-control she’s instilled in Mackenzie slips.

      Then Martha actually made an appearance in person, and the character od Dan Harris (the sort of blatant Mary Sue that Amaranth only wishes she could be) started showing up in the OT stories, and all that interesting ambiguity went out the window, to the great detriment of the story. The upcoming chapter where we meet Grandma in person was one of the most disappointing in the entire series.

      Current score: 0
      • WsntHere says:

        Oh dood, yer SSSOOOOOOOOOO cooooolllllll to have read the whole story then come back through and let everybody in on the good stuff so no one has to read it for themselves…

        No, on second thought, you totally suk.

        Current score: 4
  4. Arkeus says:

    Thank you Steff.

    Current score: 3
  5. tegid says:

    Hahaha order of the stick!

    Current score: 1
    • Duke says:

      It’s a good thing most of the characters seem to be looting treasure type O fairly regularly.

      Current score: 1
  6. Sher says:

    I love Steff for all the things she said to Mack, and I hate Mack for just brushing it off.

    Current score: 1
  7. Lara says:

    I loooove Steff.

    Current score: 0