436: Imaginary Conflicts

on March 20, 2010 in Book 15

In Which A Nickname Introduced Almost Four Hundred Updates Ago Is Explained

It seemed amazing to me that we’d made it through the entire class without someone deciding to make an issue out of Steff’s altered appearance. It seemed like the focus on Hart’s unusual props had kept most of the attention on the front of the room, though with the end of the session it was almost impossible that this luck would hold.

As everyone started standing up and turning around, though, I felt a terrible feeling of apprehension that quickly crystallized around Keri La Belle as her eyes fell inexorably on Steff. I saw the confusion on her face… not exactly an unusual color on her, I was sure… that quickly turned to disdain.

“Nice ears,” she said, and then she walked out, leaving Steff and me flabbergasted, though a second later Steff burst out laughing. She clung to me for support, giggling as we left the room. I enjoyed the contact, but was frustrated by not understanding the source of her mirth.

“I don’t get it,” I said, scrutinizing Steff’s ear to see if it had been affected by the transformation. I couldn’t spot any difference.
“She thinks my ears are fake,” Steff said, steadying herself. She didn’t let go of me, though… her grip on me tightened as she got a grip on herself, and she pulled me towards a recessed doorway.

“Why would she think that?” I asked, more than happy to let myself be led around physically but unable to let go of the puzzling anomaly. “If anything, wouldn’t she think your breasts were fake?”

“Humans are more likely to want to look elven than the other way around,” Steff said. She turned me around and pushed me into the corner, smirking down at me. She looked so happy, so full of life… and more than a little bit, well, hungry. “Humanish boobs with elvenish ears… that’s clearly a human trying to be an elf. So, fake ears.”

“I think Dee would disagree with you that they’re ‘humanish’,” I said. I blushed and swallowed, as a less nit-picky response popped into my head. “I happen to think they look good on you.”

“Hmm, I don’t know,” Steff said. “I think I’d like to see how they look on you again.” She leaned in, pressing her chest up against me, then kind of shimmied forward. Her dick was a hotspot on her otherwise fairly cool body… I could feel the warmth of it against my thigh.

“But you’re not solely human or elf,” I said. “She should know that. I mean, she’s seen you before…”

“Do you really want to talk about this now?” she asked, nuzzling my face with her cheek. Her lips brushed my ear, and I drew in a sharp breath.

“I just want to understand,” I explained. “Otherwise it’s going to bug me.”

Steff sighed and drew back.

“She probably didn’t recognize me,” she said. “I don’t think humans can handle too many details at once… she probably only saw the new bits, or something.”

“Steff, just because human eyes aren’t elven doesn’t mean they don’t work,” I said.

“I didn’t say they don’t work,” Steff said. “I was describing how they seem to work, to me.”

“I just can’t believe she could be so oblivious…”

“People who live in opaque houses shouldn’t cast blindness spells,” Steff said.

“That’s the worst metaphor I’ve ever heard,” I said. “Why would a blindness spell be damaging to…”

“Seriously, Mack… you do realize I want to fuck you stupid, right?” she asked.

“The thought had occurred to me,” I said.

“Good, because I was starting to wonder if someone else didn’t get there first.”

“Don’t call me stupid,” I said. “At least I can recognize someone that I see every day.”

“And how many people in our class could you pull out of a line-up?” Steff asked. “You recognize me because we’re fucking.”

“We’re not just… fucking,” I said, blushing harder. It wasn’t the word alone, even in its literal connotation, that was embarrassing me. It was the whole topic of sex and romance and feelings of both the tender, fluffy type and the hot and heavy one. “We’ve gone out…”

“Fucking is the end result,” Steff said, running her hands down my back to cup my ass with both hands as she said the key word. She put her face in close against mine, rubbing the tip of her nose between my eyes and licking the tip of mine. It was weird how good that felt. “Otherwise ‘going out’ is something you could be doing with Two. Mack, I’m not sure you understand how desperately horny I am right now. I have felt more turned on for the past seventy-two hours than I’ve been in my life and I’m just now in a condition to do something about it.”

“Weren’t you unconscious for most of that time?”

“Like you never get turned on in your sleep,” Steff said. She giggled. “I bet you make the sexiest noises when you’re coming in your sleep.”

“I think Two would disagree with you,” I said.

“Then maybe I should find out for myself,” she said. “Though I don’t know if I’d be able to just let you sleep… I think if you started I’d have to join in. Though if I could keep you asleep the whole time, that would be even hotter.”

“I’m not sure how much I’d enjoy that,” I said.

“I think you’d probably experience it, somehow,” Steff said. “I mean, you’d still be feeling it. And if you didn’t… eh.” She shrugged. “It’s not like you would not enjoy it, if you were completely unaware of it.”

“What’s wrong with having sex when I’m awake?” I asked.

“Nothing,” Steff said. “I’ll take you awake, asleep, or any other way I can get you.”

“You can take me any way you want me, but not right here,” I said.

“Fine, let’s find an empty classroom,” she said.

“Now’s really not the time for semi-public sex, Steff,” I said. “There’s a lot going on around campus, if you don’t remember.”

“Of course I remember,” Steff said. Her body underwent an inversion, where the bulk of her that hadn’t been stiff before suddenly was and the part that had been suddenly wasn’t. “Do you really think I could forget? I mean, there’s a lot going on in here, too,” she said, pointing at her head. “I’ve been dealing with the thing with Leda since it happened… her death doesn’t make everything better but it doesn’t suddenly make everything worse.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t word that well.. of course I didn’t think you’d forgotten. I just meant, with various people inclined to throw blame at both of us… it’d be the worst time to be caught doing something ‘depraved’. Think how it would look.”

“Fuck how it looks,” Steff said. “Like a whole campus full of teens and twenty-somethings is going to stop screwing just because something ‘tragic’ happened? I guarantee you there were hookups going on in Harlowe yesterday. If you’re going to live your life according to public opinion, you might as well snuff yourself now because that’s what the world wants for you.”

“I don’t think we need to live and die with public opinion,” I said. “But I think there’s a slender middle ground between killing yourself because the world hates you and showing absolutely no regard for consequences when you’ve been targeted in a murder investigation.”

Steff let out a labored sigh.

“Okay, fine… your place or mine?”

“Mine,” I said quickly, which made me think of something else. “Um… Viktor’s not going to have any objection to this, is he?”

“No,” Steff said. “We talked about this. The kinds of attention Viktor give me are usually great at bringing release, but right now I need something a little more direct than he’s willing to do. He’d much rather I get relief from someone else.”

“But from me in particular?” I asked. “I mean, he’s never been…”

“He suggested I use you,” Steff said. “That was the exact word he used: use. I think he’s hoping that if I fuck you a bunch now when I’m all hard up, I’ll start seeing you as nothing more than a hole to be filled.”

“Do you think that’s likely?”

“No,” she said. “I already see you as a hole to be filled, as well as other things… it’s not all tied up in my head, though. I’m not going to forget that you’re fun to tease, or kind of cluelessly nice, or amusingly geeky…”

“Your compliments aren’t very complimentary,” I said.

“I’m not charging for them,” Steff said. “The point is, I’m already using you for sex. If I use for sex more, then that’s another reason for me to hang around with you, which is good because of all the other reasons I like you, that aren’t affected by sex.”

“And you’re not worried about Viktor being disappointed?” I asked. I didn’t even try to wrap my head around distinguishing between liking someone for sex and liking the same person as a person, separately. That was probably the least of our differences when it came to thinking about sex.

“I’m not responsible for his hopes,” Steff said. “I love him, but our little dynamic works the least when he tries to control my access to other people I like. I think he’s figuring that out.”

“So he’s giving up the ‘right’ to keep us apart?” I asked.

“No,” Steff said. “And the last thing you should do is suggest that to him… I think he is recognizing that his life with me is better when he doesn’t try to exercise that right.”

“It seems to me that the whole ‘ownership’ thing starts breaking down when you start getting into stuff like that,” I said.

“Oh? And so do you not belong to Amaranth just because she doesn’t control your every move?” Steff asked. “I belong to Viktor completely, Mack… if I could give myself to him legally and still go here I would. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a free spirit… hell, if you’re going to own a person you might as well own a person and not a mindless automaton, you know? And whether or not I put any limits on how he treats me doesn’t change the fact that he’ll get more out of it if he’s treating me certain ways. Not necessarily the way that’s ‘right’ according to everybody else, mind you… anyway, if we’re going to your place, let’s go.”

“You still want to…”

“No, I’ve decided I don’t like you any more after you said something kind of thoughtless,” Steff said. She grabbed my hand at the wrist and dragged me out of the alcove . “Come on, Mack… if you ever say something so bad I can’t stand it, I’ll just take that as a sign that it’s time to shove something in your mouth.”

“I didn’t think it was that bad,” I said.

“A minute ago you thought it was enough to put me off you, and now you’re defensive over it,” she said. “Things like that are why I’m not sure it’d be worth the aggravation to ask you if that was or wasn’t the best history class ever.”

“It… wasn’t bad,” I said. “I think he could have done the same thing without the models… and without shoehorning in a plug for his new extracurricular group. I mean, if you take away the advertising, then there’s no reason for the miniatures to be there in the first place.”

“No reason except they’re cool, some people are visual learners, it kept the focus off of me… though that’s not so much a reason as it is a fringe benefit,” Steff said. “And anyway, what do you have against a miniatures club? I’d think you’d be all over that.”

“Because I love war so much?” I asked.

“Because you hate physical contests,” she said. “It’s not like you’re against mindless imaginary violence. I mean, what’s that show you watch all the time about? People riding around on motorcycles and having rational discussions about the serious issues of the day?”

“Not exactly,” I admitted. “But… it’s fantasy. In real life violence doesn’t solve things because the good guys can lose, bystanders can be hurt, and in fact the whole issues of ‘good guys’, ‘bad guys’, and ‘bystanders’ are a lot more likely to be confused.”

“Right, Mecknights doesn’t have the horrifying cost in collateral damage associated with playing with toy soldiers,” Steff said. “Khersis, Mack… taking all the physical bits out of fighting and reducing it to an intellectual contest is about the nerdiest thing ever. I’d think you’d be all over it.”

“I like some things that are considered nerdy,” I said. “That doesn’t mean I sit and think, ‘How nerdy is this?’ before I decide if I like it or not.”

“So, you did actually have some sort of thought process before you decided you didn’t like war games rather than going ‘ooh, war, how distasteful’?”

“Why are we even talking about this?” I asked as we got to the outside doors. I pulled my hand away from Steff so I could get my coat zipped up and shielded from the cold. “I’m not sure how we got from sex to moving little tiny men around on a mat.”

“This in particular?” Steff asked, stepping through the door while I held it open for her. “I don’t know… I’m thinking about signing up for the club. I think I could use some activities not related to my major or my personal life or both. You know, a hobby.”

“You could draw,” I said, latching onto her and her slight warmth as we stepped out into the cold.

“I do draw, but that’s not going anywhere,” Steff said. “Anyway, making and painting my own minis gives me an excuse to mess around with artsy stuff without having it be about the art. I was getting into Shiel’s game, anyway… if someone’s going to make a big structured thing out of it, that might help keep me from fizzling out on it.”

“How do you think Shiel’s going to feel about having the interest her game started co-opted?” I asked.

“I don’t know and I don’t care,” Steff said. “Maybe she’s involved in this, or maybe she’s not… but either way she could look for a sponsor to start a campus group of her own if she wanted to. If she’s not interested in doing that then she’s got no reason to complain if someone else does. It’s not like she invented the idea.”

“No, but she definitely sparked the fad here,” I said.

“So what? Does that mean that nobody’s allowed to play anything similar if they don’t play with her?” Steff said. “Maybe she’ll be peeved, I don’t know… but you don’t have to go borrowing offense on her behalf. She can imagine enough fights for herself.”

“I’m just trying to see things from her point of view.”

“You need to be a lot shorter to do that,” Steff said. “Your head’s too far from your ass… and don’t start sputtering a denial. You’re not a fan of Shiel, you’re just taking what you think her side will be so you can attack the idea of me playing war games. Even though she plays them, too.”

“I don’t dislike Shiel,” I said. “I don’t think any of us is in a position to judge her views or where she’s coming from.”

“I think anyone in earshot’s in a good position to judge whether or not someone’s annoying,” Steff said. Her hand slipped down my back to grab my ass, as well as she could through my thick coat. “Anyway, to get back to your question… the reason we got from sex to something else is because if we didn’t have something else to talk about, I don’t think I could wait.”

I shivered, and not from the cold.

“You know, everybody else is done with class before us,” I said. “My room could be occupied.”

“So you’d rather go to mine?”

“That is not an option, Steff,” I said.

“Two’s got friends,” Steff said. “She can find something to occupy her. If Amy’s there…”

“Why do you call her that, anyway?” I asked. Her nickname normally didn’t bother me, but I was feeling perhaps a twinge of irritation and the way she kept reframing my objections. “Amaranth has such a pretty name.”

“Pretty to you,” Steff said. “It just sounds like mangled Elvish to me… my dad’s name is Amarantos, Mack. Imagine having sex with someone with a Paxified version of your dad’s name.”

“I don’t know my dad’s name,” I said.

“Imagine that you did.”

“I think our paternal situations are a little bit different,” I said.

“Sure, my dad’s not a demon so clearly there’s nothing squicky about the thought of me having sex with him,” Steff said. “Anyway, to get back on topic… if Amy is there, I don’t really see the problem if you don’t. I mean, we’ve all fooled around with each other, and you guys have had at least one threesome, I’m sure.”

“Wow,” I said, stumbling a bit before Steff caught me… my brain chose that moment to decide to stop talking to my legs.

“Wow, what?” Steff asked.

“Just… sudden intense awareness of the fact that I’m the sort of person who has threesomes,” I said.

“You spend that much time contemplating your navel and you’re only now noticing this?” Steff asked. “What were you doing on Saturday night, again?”

“It’s a bit of a change for me,” I said. “You know that story about the frog in the pot of water that gets hotter so gradually that it doesn’t notice the change until it’s cooked?”

“I don’t think it notices even after it’s cooked,” Steff said. “Also, hon? You should get a dictionary and look up the meaning of the word ‘gradual’. I don’t think it involves jumping into something headfirst.”

“Okay, so maybe it’s like a frog in the pot and the temperature changes so fast it doesn’t notice,” I said. “The point is, my image of myself hasn’t had time to catch up to what’s been going on.”

“On a related subject: the fact that you don’t burn means we could have some fun roleplaying if we could get a pot that size, or an oven,” Steff said. “Amy might get jealous, of course… but on the other hand, she may get a vicarious clit boner off of it.”

“I really think we should stay away from anything that has to do with cooking or eating,” I said. “There are way too many wrong ideas that could be got from that.”

“I thought you didn’t want to live and die with public opinion,” Steff said.

“I don’t want to die from it, either.”

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31 Responses to “436: Imaginary Conflicts”

  1. Cindy says:

    “she made get a vicarious clit boner off of it.”
    I think “made” should be “may”?

    Plus, “Saturday night” looks like a link, but it goes no where.

    Current score: 0
    • Justin says:

      It’s a link with a title and no target. It’s done intentionally so that when you mouse over the link it gives a tooltip. In this case, it’s “(The night Mackenzie and Amaranth gave their performance at the Tomb.)”

      AE put a couple of those in the last chapter as well.

      Current score: 0
  2. Lizzie says:

    How is it that no one has responded yet??
    And you’d better not just be playing with us saying there will be a Mack/Amy/Steff threesome next chappy… because I want to see that!!

    Current score: 0
  3. Lana says:

    “Amy might get jealous, of course… but on the other hand, she made get a vicarious clit boner off of it.”

    I believe “made” should be “might” in this case. c;

    Lovin’ the story. It’s so clever, to the very core.
    You’re so inspiring. I’d love to do what you do.

    Current score: 0
    • Lana says:

      Oh, looks like Lizzie beat me to it, and corrected properly. XD

      Current score: 0
  4. Drudge says:

    Plot? MU doesn’t seem to be a plot so much as a bunch of stuff going on :p.

    Current score: 0
    • A Random Pooka says:

      Sounds about like life too .. I think that’s why I like it. Especially because interspersed with all the life happening, a lot of really good stories happen too. I especially like the chapters that detail the lessons, honestly. Not that I don’t enjoy the romps and social craziness. I just love to see Alexandra Erin flex ALL her writing muscles. It’s impressive to see how much range she’s got.

      Current score: 1
  5. Zathras IX says:

    If you’re going to
    Own a person you might as
    Well own a person

    Current score: 1
  6. Zathras IX says:

    If you’re going to
    Own a person you might as
    Well own a person

    Current score: 0
  7. CinnamonBrandy says:

    though that’s no so much a reason as it is a fringe benefit,

    only works if Steff is suddenly Scottish…

    Current score: 0
  8. SongCoyote says:

    Your dad’s a demon?
    And didn’t have sex with you?
    Aren’t you lucky!

    Current score: 1
  9. tjhairball says:

    Love the closer. “I don’t want to die from it, either.”

    Current score: 2
  10. Kitsune says:

    Great chapter, I can’t wait for the next one. This one has got me all wet and horny.
    I really like how their relationship is playing out, and their discussions are interesting to say the least.

    Current score: 0
  11. Sai says:

    FWIW: The frog-in-pot thing only applies to frogs who’ve had most of their brain (except the hindbrain) removed.

    Kinda changes the import, eh. 😛

    Current score: 0
  12. Potatohead says:

    The embedded links are a nice new touch. Also, the snarky ‘previews’ need to continue, they’re extremely entertaining.

    Current score: 0
  13. Guest says:

    Special thanks for the first half of their conversation. Reduced some confusion about my still-new and strange lovelife. 😀

    Current score: 0
  14. Peter says:

    A little conversation, a litte more action please. All this aggrevation ain’t satisfactionin’ me.

    Current score: 0
  15. Tomo says:

    a nickname explained
    steff and mack bothdo not want
    to fuck their fathers

    Current score: 1
  16. Krey says:


    Especially with Intimate History being on hiatus I’ve been so hard up…

    Current score: 0
  17. Oni says:

    Oh, that was such a tease.
    When the heck do we find out what “Unnameable Emperor” means??? 😛

    Current score: 0
    • Arakano says:

      I think it will probably be similar to the reason why the Jews of old were forbidden to call God by name (and I believe that actually still applies to Jews and Christians, no clue about Muslims).

      Current score: 0
      • Christy says:

        Not Christians. I think only Jews aren’t allowed to call God by name. Mind you, He has a lot of names… though Yahweh is the main one, I think.

        Current score: 0
        • Leishycat says:

          It’s technically Yhwh, as Hebrew doesn’t have vowels. This gives the side effect of nobody really knowing exactly how it’s supposed to be pronounced. :p

          Current score: 0
  18. Holy crap. I’m not generally the sort of person who thinks people should have cocks stuffed in their mouths to make them stop talking, but sweet baby Jebus Crow, Mackenzie, SHUT THE FUCK UP.

    Current score: 1
  19. Larry SS. says:

    Just wanted to say I think the links in the page are a great idea. With such a massive story, new readers are clueless sometimes, and some of us just have bad memories.

    I think that’s a great way to leverage the strengths of this particular medium

    Koodo’s for the great idea.

    Current score: 1
  20. MadnessMaiden says:

    Reading this on my break at work. I’m out of time and freaking out. GOD, do I want a Mack/Amy/Steff three-way.

    Current score: 1
  21. Sher says:

    I wish this book could be written without Mack in it!

    Current score: 0
  22. Z-Dawg says:

    I think there should be a chapter titled: Clit Boners
    With the sub-header: “In which Ian and Steff cross swords”

    Current score: 4
    • Jechtael says:

      The actual content: Mackenzie and Callahan are turned on by a fight between Ian and Steff in the arena. Callahan shouts something along the lines of “CUT ‘IS BOOBS OFF!”

      Current score: 1
  23. Jechtael says:

    Mack Daddie. Thea Man. The Manette. Il Mana.

    No, it doesn’t really work. Maybe he’ll turn out to be named “The Unfading”, and Mackenzie can share in Steff’s squick.

    WAIT. “The Maranth”! …wait, no, that’s horribly stupid. Forget I typed it.

    Current score: 0