239: Party Formation

on June 16, 2008 in Book 9

In Which Two Is Deliberately Excluded From The Plans

Feejee made one more attempt to get me into her room, by asking me if I wanted to help her change her barbells. She said she had a hard time doing it by herself. I told her to ask Iona or Rick, and watched her get an extremely guilty look on her face at the mention of her boyfriend. Had she not considered how her new obsession with me would look to him, maybe?

Well, if she started taking the time to reconnect with him a bit, she’d have less time to spend bothering me.

Steff was waiting in the lounge when I came out of the bathroom. When she saw me, she came running over with a bag.

“They have the book, then?” I asked.

“Yeah!” she said. “And I also got some other stuff. While I was over there. Check it out!” She pulled out a notepad-style planner with a plain black cover. “I figured you didn’t want something covered with either weapons or flowers, which were the only real choices,” she said. She flipped it open to the start of Calendula and handed it to me. “But look!”

She’d written “Date Night” in the square for Friday, and filled the space around the block letters with a swirling explosion of hearts. She’d also drawn a lute in Wednesday’s square, Two’s runes surrounded by streamers on the following Tuesday, and a ghost wearing a mask for that Saturday.

“Is that the Veil Ball?” I asked her.

She nodded.

“That’s awesome,” I said.

“I also got some blank note card we can use for invitations for Two’s dealie,” Steff said. “You got to figure she’ll want us to do everything up right, right?”

“Yeah, probably,” I said.

“I figured you can do the envelopes, because you’d probably know how to all the fancy scribal stuff,” Steff said.

“Well… yeah,” I said. “But I thought maybe you could do it by hand, for that extra touch.”

“With my hand writing?” Steff asked. “Come on, we want this to look nice.”

I didn’t press the point.

She hadn’t got any deodorant. I didn’t say anything. The fact was that it probably wasn’t my armpits that were the problem, and using some super-strong warrior brand every day would just serve to remind me what was wrong with me.

“I just want to put on some body spray and get dressed,” I said.

“Mack…” Steff said, looking pained.

“What?” I asked, getting ready for another volley. She couldn’t tell me I smelled fine. I knew what she really thought.

“I love you,” she said.

“Oh.” I blushed. “I love you, too, Steff. Why don’t you come in?”

She did, but seemed oddly embarrassed about watching me when I took my robe off. Instead, she looked all around the room, despite having seen everything in it a bunch of times before, less than an hour before. If she hadn’t just told me that she loved me, freely and without invitation, then I might have been worried. With that reassurance so fresh in my head, though, I was fine.

In fact, I think the two things had something to do with each other. Steff was being self-conscious about me seeing her watching me on the heels of her declaration. I couldn’t say why this should be, but I thought it was true all the same, and I thought it was cute.

I went right up to her while I was still in my panties and bra and I startled her with a kiss.

“Friday night, right?” I said.

“Yeah,” she said, giggling and covering her mouth with her bent fingers. “It’s in the date planner.” She giggled more. “Day planner, I mean.”

“No, but I mean, we can… have sex,” I said.

I’d taken a moment to search for the right words and not really found them. I’d picked up the habit of referring to sex as “fucking” from the rest of the group, and while I didn’t have much of a problem with fucking, I didn’t want to suggest that this was all it would be. “Do it” just sounded juvenile. “Make love” was perhaps the most applicable phrase, but I had very little doubt I could never pull it off.

“Oh!” Steff said. “Well, um, the thing is… Viktor hasn’t exactly said.”

I sighed. I’d heard those words before. He was as stingy spending his words as I had tried to be with my coins.

“He wants to sit down with Amaranth and talk, with all four of us there, on Thursday night,” Steff said.

“Do you think he’s made a decision, or is he waiting to see how it goes, or what?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said. “But… you know what?” she asked, rocking and bouncing on the balls of her feet and swinging her hands at her sides. “I don’t really care. I don’t. Oh, I don’t mean that I don’t want to fuck you, hard… but… I want to go on the date anyway.”

She seemed so nervous about admitting this. It was just adorable.

“I do, too,” I said. “Um… but we kind of have to figure out exactly what we’re doing. You know, where we’re gonna go and stuff.”

“Oh!” Steff said. “Well… um… you could surprise me?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I could. Okay.”

That settled that. Except for the small, tiny, inconsequentially miniscule matter of actually figuring out where to go. Well, I had a few days. Maybe Amaranth would have an idea? Or Two and Hazel… they knew the way around town better than I did.

There was a little bit more kissing before it was time to start meeting up with the others for dinner. We headed downstairs and ran into Amaranth, heading upstairs.

“Hey, baby,” Amaranth said. “Hello, Steff. You two are certainly all smiles, again.”

“It’s a great day,” Steff said. “I got to watch Mack go orcshit on a stuck-up wannabe paladin, I got Steff-handled by a hot warrior chick, and if I’m lucky I’ll get a repeat performance of that tonight.”

“Wait, my Mack did what?” Amaranth asked.

“I had to!” I said.

“It was class,” Steff said. “She finally opened up and started fighting.”

“Oh,” Amaranth said. “Well, I guess that’s okay. Anyway, I gave you a ‘flect but there was no answer.”

“Oh, I forgot about the mirror,” I said. “I went to get it after mixed melee and then ended up taking a bath.”

“That’s okay,” Amaranth said. “I was just going to tell you to meet me at the union, if you’d answered, and let you know not to wait around for Two.”

“Why not?” I asked. “Did something happen?”

“She’s just working an extra shift,” Amaranth said. She frowned, looking a little guilty. “She says she spent too much money on Sunday.”

“Oh, she should have said something,” I said. “We didn’t need all of that stuff.”

“I know,” Amaranth said. “But she says she thought it was okay since she can take extra shifts. I hope she doesn’t end up stretching herself too thin. Anyway, do we want to eat in the food court so we can see her, or go into the dining hall?”

“I don’t think it’s really fair to make you and Dee comb through the menus to find stuff you can eat,” I said. Then I remembered the incident at lunch. “Is Dee coming?”

“I really don’t know, baby,” Amaranth said. “I haven’t seen her. But I know I’d certainly appreciate the added choices of the dining hall, and since Two doesn’t really like to talk when she’s working… you’re probably right.”

“On the subject of Two working,” I said, “we’ll have to tell her not to sign up for anything next Tuesday.”

“Why, baby? What’s next Tuesday?”

“You tell her, Steff,” I said, noticing that Steff was grinning like a loon. “It was your idea.”

“Next Tuesday is now Two’s Day,” she said. “The official unofficial celebration of the Twoness in our lives.”

“Oh, that’s a wonderful idea!” Amaranth said. “We can have a party in Hazel’s room… or… oh! We could book one of the rooms here!”

“What, like the dance hall?” I asked. “I think we were thinking just like her close friends.”

“Well, no, I meant one of the smaller ones,” Amaranth said. “There’s conference rooms that students can reserve, and a little play room. I’ll look into the venues. That’ll be my job. Let’s see, we’ll have to invite Dee and Hazel, of course, which means it will only be polite to invite Honey. Then there’s Celia. She asked her to come to dinner, remember? And her friend Kyle from work. We’ll have to ask Hazel if she has any other friends from class, or that she’s mentioned.”

“Here’s a thought,” Steff said to me. “Why don’t we ask Amaranth to plan the whole thing?”

“Oh, and I’ll bet Hazel would love to do the menu, if somebody will help her,” Amaranth said. “Wait, is it like a birthday party? Are we doing presents?”

“I think we are,” I said. “Maybe we should make it clear it’s an option, on the invitations? We don’t want to put people on the spot.”

“That’s good thinking, baby,” Amaranth said. She rattled off more ideas on the way to dinner, including a color scheme—pale blue and white or silver—and a place of honor for Hand Wash, her teddy bear.

“Oh, we’ll have to ask her if we can borrow him,” I said. “I don’t think she’d like it if she came back to the room and just found him missing.”

“Oh, no, you’re right,” Amaranth said. “But, should it be a surprise party? I’m not sure Two’s that fond of surprises.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I think a nice surprise might do her some good, you know? Help her see that life can throw good things at you. And she’s probably familiar with the idea of a surprise party. I think she’d be comfortable as long as it’s in the framework of what she expects.”

“Ooh, that means we’ll have to get hats,” Amaranth said. She actually clapped her hands. “Fun!”

“Oh, no, I’m not wearing a party hat,” Steff said.

“She’ll expect them,” Amaranth said.

“Maybe we can get something better than the standard dunce cap?” I suggested.

“This’ll mean another trip into town,” Amaranth said. “We’ll have to find a party supply store… I’m so excited!”

Dee caught up with us after we’d already found a table and got our food. She was the absolute picture of composure. If anything, she looked more dignified and reserved than ever.

I was glad that she seemed to be handling it, but I also hoped this wasn’t the end of her attempt to loosen up.

“Feeling better, Dee?” Amaranth asked her.

“Strangely, yes. After I spent the afternoon sequestered in prayer, I attempted to attain some measure of satisfaction,” Dee said. “My attempts to immediately meet with the editor-in-chief were rebuffed, but I expect to be given an audience tomorrow. I have already submitted a strongly worded letter to the editor, which I have been assured will receive special consideration for inclusion in tomorrow’s edition.”

“That sounds like a wonderful start,” Amaranth said. “You’ll have to let us know if it goes any further. You came out to support Mack. Of course we’ll all do the same for you.”

Steff snorted.

“I’d love to see my dad’s face if he knew I was demonstrating on your behalf,” Steff said.

“I hope it will not come to that,” Dee said. “However, I thank you for your presumptive support.”

“Didn’t you have any classes this afternoon?” I asked Dee.

“I… told my instructors I had a family emergency,” Dee said.

“Well, I suppose that was true,” Amaranth said. “It isn’t like you’re going to have a ton of these situations come up, or you’re ever going to have to stay out because of sickness, anyway.”

“Indeed,” Dee said. “On the subject of absences, though… where is ‘my friend’, Two?”

“She had to work,” Amaranth said. “But that’s okay, because we came up with a great… um, I mean… Steff, why don’t you tell Dee about your idea?”

“Amy helped with the details,” Steff said. “But I thought that we should have something like a birthday party for Two.”

“I… see,” Dee said. “I am uncertain of the appropriateness of commemorating the artificial creation of life.”

“It’s, um, actually more like a celebration of all of us meeting her,” I explained.

“Oh,” Dee said. “Well, that is a different matter. Shall we be gifting?”

“I think only if people want to,” Amaranth said.

“I would not know what to provide. Among my people, a common birthing gift is a piece of fresh fruit,” Dee said. “For Dehsah, it is always plums, or nothing else. I do not think there is another elf of our kind, living or dead, who has eaten more of them.”

“Well, Two does enjoy a nice, sweet treat,” Amaranth said. “Maybe a fruit basket?”

“Do people give fruit baskets, in these lands?” Dee asked.

“Oh, yes,” Amaranth said. “In more rural areas, it might be something like a bushel of apples or a pail of fresh-picked berries, but even in the city, grocers can usually put together a nice assortment for you.”

“I see,” Dee said. “I wonder how expensive it would be to put a spell of preservation on such a basket.”

“Well, we’re talking about next Tuesday,” Amaranth said. “So, if you got it on the weekend, it should probably still be fine. We could even pick one up for you.”

“I apologize, I was merely thinking aloud,” Dee said. “Yes, I do not think such a spell would be necessary for this case.”

“This is going to be great,” Steff said.

“You seem inordinately pleased at the mere thought of this,” Dee said.

“What’s inordinate about it?” Steff asked. “Two’s probably had a shittier life than all of us put together, and she hasn’t done a single thing to deserve it.”

“I apologize,” Dee said. “I am pleased to see you so selflessly concerned with the happiness of another. I did not mean to imply there was anything wrong with it.”

“I think we’re all pleased,” Amaranth said. “Oh, but the thing is, this is meant to be a surprise. You know Two’s mind the best, Dee. Do you think she’ll appreciate a surprise party?”

“I believe that she might,” Dee said. “She does not like disruptions to her routine, but a party is that by its very nature. I do not think she will begrudge that fact.”

“Wonderful,” Amaranth said.

I was inclined to agree. I hadn’t contributed much to the conversation, but instead had sat back and basked in the radiated excitement of the others. How much did Viktor know about Steff’s relationship with Two? I didn’t necessarily want to see her coming to his attention in a big way, but if he thought our love was having a positive effect on Steff, what would he think about Two’s friendship?

Steff had been right… Two’d been given a rougher deal than just about anybody. She had a long way to go still, but even with everything she had to overcome, she still managed to bring us so much happiness as a group.

Really, could there have been any better a reason to throw a party than that?

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5 Responses to “239: Party Formation”

  1. MackSffrs says:

    Oh wow, I just saw something:
    1 Mack signed an unlimited and unending liability release for Victor.
    2 Victor may become “concerned” about Steff’s friendship with Two.
    3 Two was once lower than low, not even people, a golem [slave].
    (That’s maybe lower than Mack on Victor’s totem pole. Add to that that Two must irrevocably obey only Mack’s orders.)
    Result: Mack has a, “Don’t you touch Two!” moment… with Victor.

    Current score: 0
    • Hoopla says:

      Two is the best. I wish she were real. She would brighten the world and make it a better place for all who dwell therein. She being a golem, would also never age, which would allow her goodness to persist through the ages. She might even be ellected world ruler eventually. Ahhh, if only.

      Current score: 2
  2. Daniel says:

    “No, I do not would like to complicate tax code.”

    Current score: 4
    • Duke says:

      If Hoopla’s supposition that she does not age is correct, then how would she qualify for Social Security (if such a mechanism exists in the IRM) as one who will never reach 55? Too late Two you have already complicated the tax code 🙂

      Current score: 0
  3. Pharo says:

    I just got that Dee was considering getting a basket of plums and having it preserved to bring it to Dehsah.

    Current score: 8