434: Of Breasts And Self-Examination

on March 8, 2010 in Book 15

In Which It Really Helps To Get The Joke If You Realize She’s Pronouncing “Quasi” With A Long “I”

After logic class, I found myself wondering if I should head back to Harlowe or go straight to history… usually I went straight over and got there in plenty of time before the class started, but I had an inkling that it would be nice to walk Steff to class on her first day of being out and about with her new body. I had another inkling that it would have been good to make that offer before, when we’d all been together… she’d said she would almost certainly be there for Hart’s class, but I wasn’t clear on whether she was going to any afternoon classes before that.

The instinct felt protective… Steff was more than capable of taking care of herself, under normal circumstances, but she might have still been a little wobbly. Her altered appearance could make her the target of harassment, whether from people who knew what she used to look like or just guys who noticed a surprisingly well-endowed half-elf in revealing clothes.

I realized I was picturing Steff in an outfit more like the one Amaranth had first pitched, with one of her old peasant blouses converted into a chest-hugging belly shirt… even if she had gone with that instead of a simple alteration to one of her elven-style gowns it was unlikely that she’d be showing any more skin than she would have in the garment’s previous configuration as she went out and about on a cold fall day. I’d even thought about the practical realities of such an outfit when Amaranth first brought it up… but sometimes fantasy was more interesting than reality.

But then, for all the difficulties that Steff’s reality posed, it was an intriguing fantasy all its own. Those breasts… I’d seen them… I’d even touched them, or they’d touched me… and all while Steff was as visibly hard-up as anyone with a penis could stand to be, and yet it hadn’t been sexual. The context had made that so. Steff’s exhaustion had ruled out doing anything even more exhausting. Now that it was over, though, my mind kept turning the sights and sensation over and over again. Those breasts… Steff’s breasts, fresh and new and ripe like magical fruit grown to maturity overnight. I wanted to touch them, not just feel them pressed up against my body but press my whole body up against them… well, really just my hands.

Though also my face… and my mouth, which was obviously part of my face. My lips, parted slightly as I brushed them against her smooth skin and opening as I approached her nipples to allow my tongue and teeth to experience them. And my own breasts, small as they were… I wanted to lie chest-to-chest with Steff, feel how those wonderfully protean new parts moved up against me.

And maybe also my stomach if she were to drag her chest across it as she slid down the length of… okay, so “my whole body” probably was closer to the truth than not.

Steff’s body was still Steff’s body… she was still recognizably herself and so she stirred all the same feelings that I associated with her. But there were new feelings being stirred, mixed in with the old… confusing feelings, like that protective impulse.

Amaranth was my girlfriend… that fact was so obvious that I felt ridiculous for having tried to dodge it so many times. One corner of my mind still rebelled rather noisily at the label. She was my girlfriend, and my first experience with such. I didn’t know how much truth there was to the stereotypical view of lesbian couples, where one person took on the role of the “man” or “husband”… but it didn’t apply very well to our relationship. Amaranth endeavored to be all things to all people, or at least the horny ones, but I had a feeling that butch fell somewhere outside her repertoire. I was the plain one, I was the one with the meager hips and flat chest, but I was no more of a man than she was.

And yet, we had different roles staked out. She was my owner, I was owned. She took care of me, more often and to a greater degree than I took care of her. It wasn’t a one-sided relationship… she clearly got something from me that was lacking in her other couplings, no matter how much emphatically she believed that love was at the root of all of them. But we didn’t do the same things for each other, and if either of us could be characterized as looking out for the other, she was looking out for me. To a large degree, that was how we’d got together in the first place: Amaranth saw me confused and in distress, she reached out with her warmth and her calm strength.

I didn’t have so much of the calm or the strength, emotionally speaking, but I was on more of an even keel than Steff. Was this something I could do for her, at all? Okay, Steff was a better fighter than I was, and she was also more experienced when it came to anything beyond living in a small town and having an existence bounded largely by a school, a house, and the shortest path between them. But none of that meant Steff didn’t need help, in terms of support from her friends, and maybe I was flattering myself but maybe I could be the person to give it to her.

She clearly liked Amaranth as a person aside from sexual attraction, but she didn’t seem to take her seriously. There was a sort of flippancy in her voice when she talked about Amaranth… like everything that came out of Amaranth’s mouth was exactly what someone who’d lived in a hippy farming commune her whole life would say. She wasn’t wrong in thinking that… but that didn’t mean everything that Amaranth said was wrong, either.

I was sheltered and naive in my own way, but I’d lived my life out in the same real world that Steff saw herself pitted against. I’d had similar problems. Steff seemed to listen to me, sometimes.

I wasn’t sure exactly how my presence would help… I seemed to be as likely a target for harassment as she was, and I wasn’t exactly the most capable fighter in the world. But then, Amaranth said she got a lot more attention from guys when she wasn’t with me, and despite a few ugly incidents I could usually make it from place to place without being assaulted.

Without any other clear plan, I ambled over to Smith Hall like normal. I decided to wait out in the hallway so I could have a chance to talk to Steff before we went in.

I was feeling a small stabbing pang of loss at the sense of a missed opportunity for what seemed like a bit of girlfriend-ly niceness. Sure, I could always offer to walk with her in the future, but this was a kind of a milestone, a first… though maybe she wouldn’t want it to be marked as anything momentous. It occurred to me that she might prefer not to be treated any differently.

As soon as I thought about that, I began to suspect my own motives. Steff was stirring new feelings in me… the fact that I was way more interested in her breasts now that she had them wasn’t terribly surprising, but why was I thinking about protecting her and taking care of her? Why was I suddenly interested in walking Steff to class?

Was I thinking of her as a girlfriend for the first time, just because she now had breasts and hips? What had I thought of her as before? As much as I’d been dead set on the idea that Steff was a girl when I first got to know her, had I been viewing her differently from other girls once I knew about her equipment?

I supposed there was no real way to answer that, because Steff was different from other girls.

She was an individual girl.

She didn’t conform to the archetype of “girl” perfectly in how she acted… but then, who did? She was also different to me in particular, because of how we felt about each other and how she acted towards me. Could I possibly separate out how much of the difference was because of the parts she had, how much was knowing what she wanted to do to me with them, and how much was just Steff being Steff and not someone else?

Did it even bear thinking about? If I ended up changing how I acted towards her out of a fear of treating her differently on account of the change, wasn’t that doing exactly what I was trying to avoid? On the other hand, if I didn’t think about it… well, wasn’t that the very definition of being thoughtless? Usually when I’d hurt someone I cared about or said something horribly unfair to someone, it was because I had said or done something without thinking… had I ever managed to make things worse by thinking?

It was definitely possible to miss opportunities to act while being lost in thought, but really, all the stories about wishes gone awry that the professor had alluded to came down to the same thing: people not thinking through the consequences. Even Steff, as reckless as she acted, couldn’t help but think about the implications of her changed appearance. She’d already mentioned what it would mean if she went back among the elves… but what about our classmates?

In an ideal world, nobody would notice or care… or at least they wouldn’t say anything, wouldn’t make the class about Steff and their reactions to her… but we were hardly living in an ideal world. If that wasn’t preying on Steff’s mind, she’d be sure to get a rude awakening sooner or later. She could… and probably would… try to laugh it off, or brush it aside with a sharp retort, but it wasn’t something she could pretend wasn’t there.

That line of thought just made me wish I’d thought to offer to walk with her to class all over again…

It seemed like the only thing I actually could do was try not to treat her differently but be aware that her situation had changed. That wouldn’t necessarily be as easy as “just treating her like anybody else”, but she wasn’t anybody else. She was Steff.

“So, do you need a ring of free movement to get around on that plane?”

She was also there… I looked up from my reverie to see her looking down at me, grinning the most lopsided of grins. I had a second of wondering if a secondary effect of the potion had been to make her much taller, and then I realized she was wearing a pair of black boots with absurdly tall heels.

“Oh, yeah,” she said, lifting one foot and twirling it in half-circles. “I got these forever ago, but they never fit… leather alterations typically cost enough hide to make a whole ‘nother set of boots, but apparently they’re not actually that hard. I’ve always thought they just charged more for doing leather because leather stuff’s more expensive than cloth…”

“What plane?” I asked, once my brain had caught up to what she was saying.

“The one your mind disappears to all the time,” she said. She smiled. “I envision it as a sort of quasi-elemental plane of boobage.”

“‘Boobage’ isn’t even a quasi-element,” I said.

“It is,” she said.

“An element is a building block of existence,” I said. “A quasi-elemental substance is one that can fulfill the role of an element while not fulfilling the full definition of an element. Breasts aren’t a building block. You can’t make anything out of them.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Steff said. “Sometimes when I get bored I think about what I could do with certain other peoples’, if I got my hands on them… I think it could make for an interesting arts and crafts project.”

“That… that’s not even close the same,” I sputtered. I wasn’t sure why I was in full-on nerdish indignity when this was clearly far from a sagely debate for Steff. “That’s like saying paper’s an element because you can fold it into a hat!”

“You mean it’s not?” Steff said. “Anyway, boobage is definitely a quasi-element.”

“How is it a quasi-element?” I asked.

Quasi say so, silly,” Steff said, reaching out and poking me in the nose. I groaned and rolled my eyes. “So, where were you, if not the demiplane of demitasses.”

“Isn’t that a coffee serving?” I asked.

“Is it?” Steff said. “I just picked that word up gazing at bras this afternoon. Of course, if staring at tits really builds vocabulary, you could probably narrate a dictionary.”

“Sorry,” I said, shifting my gaze to her feet instead. That seemed more sexual… my eyes might have happened to fall to rest at about chest level, but I wasn’t actually looking at her, actively. Watching her fidget in her heels, on the other hand… she seemed so lively, so full of energy, so much more present and real and there than she’d been in my bed.

“Eyes: I have them,” Steff said, touching my chin with her fingers and tipping my face upwards towards her. “So do most people, you will find.”

“Sorry… anyway, I was really just thinking,” I said, and she gave me a very eyelash-fluttery eyeroll.

“I know,” she said. “You do a lot of that… does it ever do any good?”

“After considerable thought,” I said, and she favored me with another roll, “I’ve concluded that it beats the alternative.”

“So, you never wish you could just turn off your brain?” she asked.

“Not really,” I said. “I mean, there are particular thoughts I’d maybe like to be able to pull out of general circulation… but if I try to shut my brain down all that does is let them roam around without any competition. Even with everything that’s happened, I don’t know how much different I’d be from how I was when I first got here if I didn’t take time to, you know, process everything. I’d just be reacting all the time.”

“I don’t know if that’s a bad thing,” Steff said. “Your reactions can be pretty hot… I mean, it’s cute when you get worked up over nothing, but the way you blush, the way you squirm… you know, I think I’m going to miss those things if you ever decide to be fearless.”

“Not likely,” I said. I could feel my cheeks heat up from the attention, and I could feel my pulse quickening at the thought of the times Steff had me squirm… holding me down, lying on top of me… I was the one with the predatory blood, but when we’d fooled around on the edges of the woods my body had reacted like she was the hunter and I was the prey.

Probably with good reason… now that the nerd rage had subsided, I kind of wondered what she’d meant exactly by the “arts and crafts” remark earlier, though not nearly enough to ask her to clarify.

“So?” she said.

“So, what?”

“So… what were you thinking about?”

“You, mostly,” I said, blushing… my eyes started to slip away from her face, but stopped when I saw she was blushing, too. “What?” I said.

“I’m never sure how much you actually like me,” she said. “And how much of it is just that I’m here and I’m putting myself in front of you.”

“You’re joking, right?”

“Sure I’m joking, Mack,” she said. “People frequently joke about being insecure when they’re not. It’s universally regarded as comedy gold… you know, much like sarcasm.”

“Steff… you’re like pure sex,” I said. “You know that, right?”

“I’m not pure anything, hon,” she said. “Oh, sure, I sound pretty good on paper… if I describe myself right I can cram in about six different kinds of ‘exotic’… but so can you, and with a slightly different description, we’re both maladjusted freaks, and underneath that all, or so the story goes, we’re both just people, and most people have doubts and can’t read minds. So, yeah, I’m serious about the not knowing.”

“I like you,” I said. “I want you. In fact, before you got here I was thinking about asking to walk you to class.”

“Hmm… okay,” she said.

“Okay, what?”

“Okay, you can walk me to class,” she said. I stared at her in disbelief, and she sniffed and scuffed the tile with the toe of her boot. “Unless you don’t care to be seen with me…”

I glanced over towards the door, just a little ways down the hall… Steff could probably have crossed the distance in three or four long strides.

“What, all the way over there?” I asked.

“Well, you shouldn’t have offered if you didn’t want do it,” she said.

“What? I wasn’t offering…” I said, but my attempt to clarify died when I saw Steff’s face falling like a gelatin mold that had been left out in the sun. My heart was crushed for the half second that it took me to realize she was fucking with me, and then I was kind of pissed off for the few seconds it took me to realize that she was also offering me a chance to salvage my missed gesture. Or maybe she was taking the chance to enjoy it for herself… I wasn’t sure what the difference was, or if it was important, so long as we both enjoyed it.

I held out my hand and she took it, and we walked into the classroom. I was focused on the feel of Steff’s hand in mine… warm and vital… that I didn’t register the activity at the front of the room until we were halfway down the aisle to our seat.

Professor Hart was already present. He had laid out across his desk… and across part of a folding table he’d placed alongside it… an elaborate battle field with hills and trees and miniature soldiers, much like the ones that Shiel used in her game. Several of the guys in the class, who rarely seemed fully engaged with the class, were standing around watching as Hart placed more troops on the field.

The figures that Hart used were painted metal, and larger than the ones that Shiel carved. All the ones he’d placed so far were wearing capes dyed imperial scarlet… the legions of the Old Empire. War history was not my best area, but if the landscape was supposed to represent any of the battles of Magisterion’s War then it was either a minor one or else the set-up was pretty abstract.

“Oh, wow,” Steff said.

“Good evening, class,” Professor Hart said, looking up. He had a grin on his face that was so avid it was almost avaricious. “For those of you just coming in, our topic today is going to be ‘War: What Is It Good For?‘ You’ll want to get a notebook out, because this could get extensive.”

Tales of MU is now on Patreon! Help keep the story going!

Or if you particularly enjoyed this chapter, leave a tip!

Characters: , ,

43 Responses to “434: Of Breasts And Self-Examination”

  1. cnic says:

    I’ve always liked the introspective chapters. I’ve never thought about what friends go through when someone transitions, so this one was intriguing. But somehow I feel you trumped your own chapter with the preview of the next chapter.

    Current score: 0
  2. MistahFixIt says:

    Normally I find history dry as toast and inescapably boring…

    However. If a professor can effectively teach history with tabletop miniatures, then even MY interest is piqued. I think Professor Hart just became one of my favourite characters. >:3

    Current score: 0
    • Oni says:

      I’m one of the lucky few who had professors who liked this kinda stuff. I’ve got a degree in Political History, and one of my favorite professors frequently worked with several of us students to do miniature replicas of various historical battles.

      Current score: 0
  3. Schulze says:

    I don’t even know how to speak it in english…

    Current score: 0
  4. Malaky says:

    It’s going to take a lot of effort to avoid using “Quasi say so.” today…

    Current score: 1
    • Alexander says:

      Yeah, so, initially, when I got to that little segment, I was thinking to myself “Quasi-element? The hell? That’s not a pun.” And then I read a bit more. *Thank you*, Miss Erin. I cannot convey my groan strongly enough.

      Current score: 4
  5. Engstack says:

    “Any, boobage is definitely a quasi-element.”

    Current score: 0
  6. Brenda says:

    Very nice, and now I’m looking forward to class!

    A few possible typos:

    One corner of mind still rebelled rather noisily at the label.
    (One corner of *my* mind?)

    “You mean it’s not?” Steff said. “Any, boobage is definitely a quasi-element.”
    (Should be “anyway”?)

    Also, the title of the professor’s lecture appears to be “War: What is it Gooa For?” – the edge of the margin cuts off the top of the italic “d”.

    Current score: 0
  7. Orange Lettuce says:

    FINALLY A NEW PIECE OF THE STORY oh my goodness so happy. This is amazing.

    Current score: 0
  8. Maraak says:

    …Absolutely NOTHING! Say it again, yeah!

    Current score: 4
  9. Ryan Prior says:

    In this chapter: Mack walks from one building to another, bloviating in her head about stuff we already know.
    In this post: unbidden moaning about the pace of storytelling.

    Current score: 0
    • athsryk6l says:

      Have to agree with you on that one, though the ending was better and the next chapter looks more promising.

      Current score: 0
    • Drudge says:

      Indeed. It’s rather frustrating since we just got a timeskip of AN ENTIRE HOUR. It says something about how quickly this story moves when a skip of an hour feels like some sort of great length of Drowtales proportions.

      Current score: 0
    • Clifford says:

      That pretty much sums up most of the chapters for this whole series/web novel/whatever.

      Mack thinks about boobs, time moves so slowly the story stops making any sense.

      Current score: 1
  10. Zathras IX says:

    In which Mackenzie
    And Steff engage in lots of
    Really quasi talk

    Current score: 1
  11. Drudge says:

    Steffs expression when Mack tries to clarify.

    Am I the only one who thought “trollface.jpg”?

    Also, donations. Whats the money count at? PLEASE let it be enough for Aidan. The suspense is killing me.

    Current score: 0
    • I’ve got to look backwards and total it up… I got a bunch of unexpected ones while I was traveling and that utterly fucked my rudimentary bookkeeping system, but I’m pretty sure it’s at least close.

      Current score: 0
      • Drudge says:

        Awesome, if I had ANY money to spare I’d send it right now, ah well.

        Current score: 0
  12. S. Rune Emerson says:

    Dammit! Now I’ve got that song stuck in my head! *laughing*

    *walks away, singing “War-huh! What is it GOOD for? Absolutely NOTHING! Say it again-yeah!”*

    Current score: 2
  13. Readaholic says:

    Om nom nom nom nom.. ok, my MUppeite is satisfied – for now.

    Oh, and delicious, btw. Now I have an image in my head of an elemental plane of boobage – how do I get it to go away??

    Current score: 0
  14. bangaren says:

    “Of course, if staring at tits really builds vocabulary, you could probably narrate a dictionary”

    then having Mack hang out with Steph must builds knowledge of synonyms, cuz it results in the saur ass

    Current score: 3
    • Lysaea says:

      hohoho, classy bangaren. I’ve been playing too much WoW lately, cuz first I was like “Is that a Saurfang reference?” But I get it now. -15 points for bad pun =p

      Current score: 0
  15. Yay! Prof. Hart! And minis! And war! And boobage!

    If there is a demiplane of demitasses, I’m formally requesting access to the nearest planar gateway!

    Current score: 0
  16. Arancaytar says:

    “Eyes: I have them,”

    Did Steff just use a 4chanism there? I can totally imagine that as the caption on some spoof motivational poster. 😛

    Current score: 1
  17. Tyler says:

    Readability report: It’s not white and your using a graphite text colour. I would descride it as “Lovely!”

    Current score: 0
  18. Xander says:

    i think the new layout is too busy, but it’s not Bad, per se.

    Also, need easier navigation through the chapters and books..

    Current score: 0
  19. Dan says:

    Liking the new design a lot AE, but I preferred the Sans-Serif font you were using, just a little easier on the eyes.

    Took me a while to get the joke, until I realized “‘Boobage’ isn’t even a quasi-element,” wasn’t your joke 🙂

    Current score: 0
    • I can’t make everyone happy on the font, but way more people found the Sans hard to read than the other way around.

      Current score: 0
  20. Reid says:

    …I just groaned with my SPINE. That joke… *shudders* I kept stopping at each line, looking for the joke, and then I got to it… I would have banged my head on the desk, but there’s not an uncovered part that isn’t a sharp corner.

    In short, you are AWFUL. By which I mean AMAZING.

    Current score: 0
  21. Siji says:

    Hi I’m Siji! You may remember me from such stellar comments as “Amaranth is an idiot”, and “Mackenzie is a spineless git” 😀

    Alright what’s all this, Steff has a new body? Sheesh, I leave for a few (okay, several) months and Steff gets a new body, Mackenzie FINALLY admits Amaranth is her girlfriend. “…sheltered and naive in my own way”? Oh honey, you’re just sheltered and naive, period. Wake up and smell the sex already. What an Epic Noob. Phrases like “she was an individual girl” are the stuff of legends. Glad (or sad?) to see she at least hasn’t changed that much.

    Steff also seems to have Amaranth pegged. (Yes, in every sense of the word :P). I know I haven’t been around recently but in my experience, everything that comes out of Amaranth’s mouth DOES sound like what a hippy farm girl (especially one that thinks she knows it all) would say. No offence to the hippy farm girls out there, I realise Amaranth can be amazingly brainless on occasion :-/

    Aaand, I’d like to say I’m missing the whole boobage/quasi-element joke. First I’m not even sure which of them is supposed to be pronouncing quasi with a long i and when imagine both of them doing it, they just sound like a pair of dorks mispronouncing a word. No joke there :-S (I skimmed it, donchaknow)

    Okay so i read a bit more and I got it. Can’t be arsed with deleting the above now. For future reference, a long i sounds like eeeee as in eel, and a short i is well, short, as in ink. I was imagining her pronouncing it like Kwazeeee. I suppose American pronounciation might be different, but even with the pun, it’s still a short i: The i in Kwazi is as short a sound as in Kwazai

    And that right there is my cue that i’m overanalysing an obvious joke. I’ll get my coat. See you in another several months!

    Current score: 1
    • Future reference is going to be the same as past reference, I’m afraid, as your information is incorrect. “Eel” is a “long e” sound, actually. A “long i” sounds exactly like the word “eye”, or the pronoun “I”… in other words, how we pronounce the letter “i” all by itself. It’s the “i” in “ice” and (ETA: at the start of) “icicle”.

      Current score: 1
      • Brenda says:

        “icicle” might not be the best example, unless you want a word with both a long AND a short “i”…

        Current score: 1
  22. tigr says:


    I *still* don’t get the joke — maybe it has to do with me not being native english speaking? But anyway, would someone please be so kind as to explain it to me? Thanks!!


    Current score: 0
  23. Keith says:

    When are the posts going to get more consistent again? The last two months have been sporadic hit and miss. Even now its been a week since the last post at least – we need our fix!

    Current score: 0
    • Keith says:

      also you can see the effect in the lack of posts… where there used to be 150 comments… now you’ve got only 37? after a week?

      Current score: 0
  24. Jechtael says:

    I quasi what you did there, Alexandra ^_^

    Current score: 0
  25. Lara says:

    “Sure I’m joking, Mack,” she said. “People frequently joke about being insecure when they’re not. It’s universally regarded as comedy gold… you know, much like sarcasm.”

    This made me laugh a lot XD

    Current score: 0