63: First Date Jitters

on September 10, 2007 in 03: Virginal

In Which Ian Completely Redefines Cool

There were quite a few people hanging out in the basement lounge of Harlowe Hall. More than a few heads turned when I made my appearance… I figured they were probably wondering who the hell I was. Nobody who looked like I did that moment had ever been seen around Harlowe before, after all.

The RAs were at work, putting chips and dip and beverages together in impromptu buffet on the front desk. A hand-made poster proclaimed movie night beginning at seven. I supposed they probably did something like this every Saturday. The fact that this time it happened to coincide with the dance was just that… coincidence.

Yeah, right.

Though Steff had done a lot to dispel my shame, I still had a case of jitters that had only got worse as I’d made my way (slowly… you don’t really think you use your ass for walking until you try it after a serious paddling) down the stairs… but now I was feeling resolute, determined to go to this dance no matter what.

Even if, for instance, Ian decided to stand me up, which was seeming more and more likely with each passing second.

What? Oh, no… he wasn’t actually late yet. I hadn’t even been waiting that long.

It was just seeming more and more likely, to me.


It was actually still a couple minutes before the appointed time when he made his appearance, poking his head nervously in through the door and looking around. He didn’t see me immediately, so he stepped in a little apprehensively, like you might slowly step into a pool of unknown temperature.

If the pool was filled with acid.

And the acid was inhabited by acid-resistant leeches.

And you owed the leeches money.

He managed to get both feet in the door and down the steps into the room proper. A boy with a hairy body and a canine face brushed past him, and he jumped as if he’d been shocked, though to his credit he didn’t cry out, and the other guy didn’t notice his reaction.

Really, the crowd seemed pretty tame, though I wasn’t put off by the appearance of any of the non-human students, so I don’t know what wouldn’t have seemed tame to me. I didn’t know most of them… there was Iona, the mermaid who was in my history class, and I thought I recognized Rorick the faun… though to be honest, I hadn’t paid much attention to his face the one time I’d met him before. The fact that his very erect penis had been shoved practically in my face had distracted me.

Okay, so that was a bit of an exaggeration… but being that it was the first time I’d seen a man in the flesh, in the flesh… well, it had grabbed my attention, and not in a good way.

Fuck. Was I a lesbian?

Steff’s words had made a lot of sense to me upstairs, but now that I was on my own again, my thoughts were running back into the same useless circles they always ran in. I leaned back against a large support pillar… well, I didn’t just lean back. I bent forward a little, and pushed my aching rear against it… the fresh reminder of the pain Steff had given me calmed me somehow.

I put my hand on the leather strap hanging from my belt and closed my eyes.





It comforted me.

Yeah, I’m a freak. By this point, I couldn’t really deny it… not to myself.

I suddenly realized that Ian’s eyes had gone right past me a couple times, and he was looking less and less certain by the moment. In fact, he looked like he was getting ready to bolt.

I started forward and called out “Hey, Ian!”

He jumped at the sound as if he’d been pierced. He looked at me and did about a quadruple take.

“Mackenzie?” he asked, dubiously.

“Yeah, it’s me,” I said. “Just how many girls from Harlowe did you ask?”

“What? No, I just… I didn’t recognize you,” he said. “You look… you look hot.”

“Put some more shocked disbelief in your voice when you say that,” I said, though I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks. A boy thought I was hot. Okay, so it was Ian… but Ian was still a boy.

Though, he’d actually said I looked hot, and something could look like something that it actually wasn’t.

It was still a compliment… from a boy… and I wasn’t going to scratch it and pick at it until it fell apart. I would simply accept the fact that a boy had thought I was hot, and be glad.

Except, if he thought I looked hot in clothes that I never wore with my face made up by somebody else…

Boy. Think. Hot. Glad.

“Um… should we… get going?” Ian asked, nervously. I didn’t like the way he glanced around the common room when he said it.

“You’re in an awful hurry to leave Harlowe, aren’t you?” I asked.

“You know,” he said, sounding a little hurt. “I don’t know why you even agreed to come if you’re just going to jump on everything I say. I thought that, being so different, you’d… be… different.”

“That’s… informative,” I said.

“See? You did it again,” he said. “I just mean, I didn’t think you’d be all stuck-up, like most girls.”

The words hit me like a slap. Stuck-up? How could I be stuck-up? You couldn’t be stuck-up without being up… I’d always been on the bottom of the heap, socially speaking, and though I’d made some friends, that hadn’t really changed.

“What? No… I’m not stuck-up,” I said. “I’m not. Ian, seriously… I’m the person the stuck-up girls laugh at and ignore.”

“You’re kidding, right? Aside from being… all the stuff you are,” he said. I figured he meant something like, “demon lesbian.” I wasn’t going to ask him to clarify. “People talk about you. You sit in that corner table with the nymphs and that Puddy person and all your friends. People watch you everywhere you go.”

“They… they do?” I asked, suddenly feeling a thousand invisible eyeballs crawling all over my skin. Amaranth, with help from Steff, had done a lot to cure me of my panicky reaction to public attention… or at least, to give me something else to think about when people might be watching me. Now, though…

“See, and you act like you don’t even know it,” Ian said. “That’s, like, the very definition of… of cool.”

He’d been about to say “stuck-up,” I knew.

“I’m not cool,” I said. “I’m…” Dangerous. Demonic. Bad. “I’m infamous. That’s why people… notice me. They’ve heard rumors. They’ve been warned.”

“Infamous inside of a week is pretty damn cool,” Ian said. “There’s people on my floor who don’t know my name, but you could walk into any building on campus and say your name, and everybody would know who you were.”

“You’re exaggerating,” I said, blushing. “Anyway… I don’t mean to jump on you… on everything you say, I mean. I’m just… nervous, and it’s making me touchy.”

“I make you nervous?” he asked. “That’s… um… I make you nervous?”

“Ian, you have to realize that I’ve never even been on a… anything this much like a date before,” I said. “Which just tells you exactly how cool I am not, doesn’t it?”

“Um… you’ve never been on a date with a guy, you mean?” he asked.

“With anybody,” I said, though I suddenly wondered… had the outing to Enwich been a date? I didn’t know what a date was supposed to feel like, but looking back, I thought that parts of the day had felt kind of… date-ish. It probably wasn’t, though, with Two and Steff there… or could it have been, if Two hadn’t been there?

Even before being exposed to the fact of polyamory, I’d known it was fully possible for somebody to go out with two people at the same time… but was it possible to do it literally at the same time?

Why did I want to know that?

“You’re kidding,” Ian said, cutting across my mental exploration. “You’ve got, like… six girlfriends.”

“Six?” I said. “Even if you counted Puddy, Steff, and Two–none of whom actually are or ever were my girlfriend–I would still only have four… and I really don’t know if I’d call Amaranth my girlfriend. I love her, but I don’t think it’s that kind of a relationship.”

“What kind of a relationship is it?” Ian asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “The kind I have with her.”

“That’s… informative,” he said, throwing my own words back at me.

“Well, I don’t know what else to call it,” I said, a little more sharply than I meant to. I was feeling irritated… not with Ian, but with myself, because it honestly bugged me that I couldn’t put this into words. Not without using the word “ownership”, which was comforting to me but would probably require even more explanation to an outside. “It’s our relationship. We love each other.”

“But… isn’t she a nymph?” Ian asked.

“Yeah, so?” I asked, defensively.

“So doesn’t she go around, um…”

It’s her job!” I said… well, yelled. I immediately clamped my hands over my mouth… and felt a bit like Two for doing so. “I’m sorry,” I said, turning a deep crimson. “I’m… I’m not supposed to yell or lose my temper. It’s… um… one of the rules.”

“What rules?” he asked, worried and trying to sound like he wasn’t. “Is this about you being a… you know?” He put his fingers up by his head to imitate horns.

“There’s a very nice, perfectly normal girl on my floor who just happens to have horns,” I said, keeping my tone even with some difficulty. “She shouldn’t have to be mistaken for a demon constantly because people rely on stereotypes like that.”

“You object to a stereotype about your race because it reflects badly on somebody else?” Ian asked. There was something in his voice, like skepticism… or maybe just confusion.

“Yeah… why?”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but… you seem like a pretty lousy demon, sometimes,” Ian said. “I mean, if I hadn’t been there when you… uh… torched my hand, I wouldn’t really believe it.”

I stared at him.

“I’m sorry!” he said. “I meant that as a compliment. It came out wrong.”

I hugged him… he went really rigid when I did, and I felt stupid even before I had my arms around him, but at that point it was obvious what I was doing and it would have been more awkward to stop than it would have been to finish it. I probably wouldn’t have done it, except for the embracefest earlier in the day… now, part of me was stuck acting like it was a valid emotional response or something.

“I’m sorry,” I said, breaking away after having waited what felt like long enough to not seem like I was eager to get away from him. “Um, anyway, to answer your question,” I said, eager to get the conversation back on track… then I realized where that track lead. “It’s… um… not a ‘demon thing’. It’s… well, there are these rules Amaranth gave me.”

“What, as conditions for dating her?” Ian asked.

“Kind of… more like… well, we aren’t really dating, per se. She’s… she’s my owner,” I said. “She owns me. I belong to her.” I actually kind of somehow tensed my cheeks in anticipation of blushing with embarrassment at this, but it wasn’t embarrassing.

I was proud to be Amaranth’s.

I was a little bit embarrassed to be proud of something like that… but… well, baby steps.

“Like a slave?” Ian asked. It actually made me feel better about him that he sounded outraged by that thought, but at the same time, I wanted to be outraged that he thought Amaranth would have a slave. Confusing, huh? I decided it was probably best if we just stepped around this whole topic for a while.

“No… not like that. Look, I can’t explain my feelings or my relationships or any of the interpersonal bullshit I’ve been going through in the past week,” I said. “And I mean it when I say ‘the past week’… no matter what it may look like to you now, my life was pretty damn boring before I came here. I’m just now getting to the point where I can begin to accept any of this stuff, and I’ve only been able to do that by… by accepting it, and not trying to explain or dissect or define or categorize it. I can’t explain any of this to you because I can’t explain it to myself. It just is.”

“But, how can you…”

“Ian,” I said, simply and forcefully. “Please. I just told you I can’t explain it. Anyway, we’re about to go to a dance together… with each other… like on a date… if that’s not enough reason to leave the rest of my relationships out of it, I don’t know what is.”

“Well, can I ask a question about something else?” Ian asked. “That’s got nothing to do with any of that interpersonal… stuff?”

“What is it about?” I asked, cautiously. There was really no end of subjects I’d rather not discuss that he might be curious about: my parentage… my dietary needs…

“It’s about… well, your outfit, I guess,” he said.

“Oh!” I said, turning away a bit and wishing the skirt were just a little bit longer. “Um… my friend Steff picked it out.”

“It’s.. well, um, can I ask a question about it, then?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said. I might get flushed and flustered fielding questions about my clothes, but at least I could handle it. It was kind of a relief, actually, to have the topic of conversation turn to something that wasn’t about me directly. “Ask away.”

“What’s that thing on your belt?”

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4 Responses to “63: First Date Jitters”

  1. Kalistri says:

    Umm, perfect match, right?

    Current score: 2
  2. BMeph says:

    If you’re talking her fist and his face,…
    …well, “A Girl’s Gotta Dream,” right? 😉

    Current score: 1
  3. pedestrian says:

    is it really a good idea to use the term match and Mackenzie in the same sentence, especially considering all the pressure she has building up. Wouldn’t want Macks temper to ahh, flare up. Wouldn’t want Ian to fall into “Love as a Burning Ring of Fire” would we?

    okay, okay, i’ll stop flogging this joke if you stop grinning at it.

    Current score: 0
  4. Liam says:

    “What kind of a relationship is it?” Ian asked.

    “I don’t know,” I said. “The kind I have with her.”


    Current score: 2