73: Revising History

on September 27, 2007 in 03: Virginal

In Which Professor Ariadne Applauds Mackenzie’s Attitude

Steff didn’t show up for history. On any other day, I wouldn’t have thought much of that, as she didn’t appear to take the subject very seriously. I might have actually been relieved at the chance of making it through a class without any distractions… and without attracting any additional ill-will from Professor Ariadne.

Today, however, I was worried. Given the level of animosity she’d shown towards elven culture, it was understandable why she might not find the subject of elven history worthy of her full attention… though that left open the question of why she’d even take the class in the first place, didn’t it?

So, was she not there because something had set her off about elves in general… or because she didn’t want to run into Delia Daella now. Or… and my heart lurched when I considered this… was she avoiding me?

When there was only a minute or so left before class actually began, I moved closer to Delia Daella. If I couldn’t talk to Steff, I could still try to clear things up with her, at least. We exchanged terse and awkward greetings–guess whose was which–and I launched right into my explanation of Steff’s earlier remarks.

“So, I can take comfort in the knowledge that it is for the faith to which I have chosen to devote my life that Steffain despises me, and not for the skin with which I was born,” Delia Daella said, when I had finished.

Before I could answer, Professor Ariadne swept into the room, her recitation of elven lore begun even before she was completely through the door. I gave her my full attention. I loved history, and elven history in particular was so alive… no dusty lists of dates and facts here. This might be my only chance to enjoy the class without interruption… though I felt guilty for being even momentarily glad that Steff was gone.

I realized then that if I never told her, Steff would probably assume I didn’t mind it when she spoke to me in class… and given that she’d now received permission to “play” with me, to use her word for it… and especially given that her favorite form of such “play” so far consisted mostly of talking…

I shivered. The thought of Steff’s whispered invectives caressing the inside of my ear while Professor Ariadne wove her own vocal spell about the room was strangely compelling. I wouldn’t be able to react too strongly, not without attracting the professor’s attention… and what would she do if she felt I wasn’t giving her subject the attention it deserved? How might she punish me? It didn’t even bear thinking about… but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Damn… even when she wasn’t there, Steff had managed to distract me from elven history. I forced my mind back on track, or at least, back onto the more productive off-track track it had been on. I had to let Steff know that even if I enjoyed her attentions, I didn’t enjoy them during class. In fact, I thought it would probably be a good idea to let both Amaranth and her know that no matter how important they were to me or how big a part of my life Amaranth in particular became, the point of college was college and I really couldn’t let anything get in the way of that.

Among other things, I couldn’t afford to be at MU without my scholarships, and they depended on my grades.

As quietly as I could manage, I fished my notebook out of my book bag. It was already flipped open to the page with the current draft of the list. I wanted to get the idea down while it was still in my head, so I didn’t forget about it. This kind of thing wasn’t exactly second nature to me, after all.

Plus, I told myself that if the instructor saw me writing something down in a notebook during her recitation, it might do something to erase her impression of me as an inattentive student.

After some thought, I wrote “Nothing that interferes with my schoolwork, prevents me from attending a class or doing homework, or distracts me during class.” I hesitated before I wrote the last clause. As I only had one class with either of them, it would be pretty obvious that I was speaking directly to Steff with it… how would she take it? I almost erased it, before I realized that the point would be lost if I didn’t make it clear that talking to me in class was off-limits.

I put my pencil down, and looked up… at Professor Ariadne. I realized then that the poetic lecture had stopped at some point, when I’d been distracted by other things. Her eyes rolled down the page of my notebook. I hastily flipped the notebook over, but apparently not fast enough to prevent the professor from reading it, even upside down.

“I applaud your academic rigor and your dedication to your studies, Ms. Blaise,” she said, in a tone of voice that told me she had seen the page clearly and had a pretty good idea what it was about. “Would that all students shared your determination not to let extracurricular activities interfere with their schooling. So very, very commendable.”

She launched back into her epic poem almost immediately, and I slumped forward, my head on my desk, utterly mortified. Nobody else in the room could have had any idea what the little interlude had been about, but that somehow made it all the more embarrassing. What could they be thinking? What could they make of it? I knew that if I didn’t let it get to me, all they would see was the teacher interrupting herself to make an apparently complimentary comment on my note-taking… but I couldn’t not let it get to me. I kept my head down on the desk for the rest of the class, trying very hard not to light my face on fire.

My mind kept replaying Professor Ariadne’s words, in varied tones of strictness and sternness, with different buried implications and deprecations. I remembered her freezing me in place with a spell in a previous class, when she’d posed me as a tree. That had been embarrassing enough, but there were more embarrassing and less comfortable positions she could have put me in, and I couldn’t stop imagining them.

I probably would’ve walked out of the classroom if I thought my legs would manage it… but then, I probably wouldn’t be able to show my face in it again. Though, if the teacher wasn’t going to cut me a break, maybe dropping elven history wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Except, it had been the one class on my schedule I’d really wanted, for reasons having nothing to do with my major and its requirements.

Approximately forever later, the class ended. I kept my head down until it sounded like almost everyone had left the room. Even then, I half expected to see the professor glaring at me from behind her desk. I was almost disappointed to find she was gone… though Delia Daella was still seated beside me, a look on her face that might have almost been a kind of concern.

“I would not take the professor’s conduct personally,” she said as we left the classroom. “The faint elves know no higher good than to make another creature feel inferior before them.”

“The what elves?” I asked.

“Faint elves,” she said. “That is what my people call the elves whose skin has faded to an unnatural white color. It is not meant as a pejorative, but rather a simple description of their appearance.”

“Oh,” I said. “But…” I started to correct her, but stopped myself. It was like the Mechans. If she wanted to believe that black was the natural skin color of elves and “faint” elves were the aberration, it didn’t actually hurt anything, did it? “I’ve never heard that term before,” I finally said.

“Indeed,” Delia Daella said. “Here comes your friend. I shall see you in class Wednesday.”

I wanted to tell her not to go, but once again she left so quickly that she might have vanished from the spot… and I couldn’t exactly follow her, when as she’d said, Steff was heading down the hall towards me. She gave a kind of self-conscious wave when she saw that I’d seen her. I returned it. She seemed unusually nervous about something, so I approached her instead of making her come to me.

“Um… you’re a little late for class,” I said.

“I was sulking,” Steff said. “But I figured… you, being the sort of person who blames herself for the sins of the world, would be likely to wonder if it was your fault that I wasn’t there.” She leaned forward and gave me a kiss on the forehead. “It wasn’t.”

I felt my eyes tearing up.

“I… I did wonder,” I said.

“No,” Steff said. “I’ve just got… shit… I’m dealing with. It’s not because of you, though… you honestly make it all so much more bearable, and I really can’t wait for the chance to show how much I… appreciate… that.”

I shivered.

“Amaranth wants us to take it slow,” I said. I had to say it.

“I picked up on that, yeah,” Steff said. “I wouldn’t ask you to disobey her.”

Feeling like I was pushing a spear very slowly through Amaranth’s lovely body and twisting it, I said, “I think she’s a little… jealous.”

“It’d kill her to admit that, don’t you think?” Steff said.

“Probably,” I said.

“But it’d kill her to think that she was the reason that two people… any two people, anywhere… weren’t getting it on with each other,” Steff said. “So… we’ll just have to be careful of her feelings, I guess. Like, we don’t have to do anything in front of her, or…”

“I’m not going behind her back!” I said quickly.

“I just mean, we don’t have to rub her face in it,” Steff said. “Like, not talking about our play in front of her unless she opens the conversation.”

“Yeah,” I agreed. That made sense, though I could see how this might get uncomfortable. “And… and please don’t take this the wrong way… but… I love her so much, and if I ever do have to choose… I mean…”

Steff held out a hand and put her finger gently on my lips, muting me.

“Don’t,” she said softly. “Just don’t. You are in love with Amaranth… anybody who’s seen the way you cling to her can tell that. You might be, or might some day fall, in love with me, but it won’t be the same love you share with Amaranth, and I’ll still be in love with Viktor. Let’s not screw up all our other relationships, and our own, by pretending that we need to be anything more than we are right this moment. We did the whole ‘I love you, I love you, too,’ thing on Saturday, but that’s friendship. Let’s not cheapen or denigrate it by saying it has to be any more than that in order for it to mean something.”

“But… aren’t we more than friends?” I asked.

“Well, yeah… we’re two friends who make each other horny as fuck,” Steff said, giving the word “fuck” just a touch of her vocal magic, a subtle inflection which existed only to remind anyone in earshot that the word had other uses besides being a large notional quantity.

I couldn’t recall anybody using the word ‘horny’ in my presence in the entire time I’d been at school. It seemed odd, given all that had happened, but I think it gave the word a disproportionate impact on my ear. It wasn’t a particularly dirty word, not when measured against the sort of explicit and implicit descriptions of the things one did while horny that I’d been subjected to. It was a vulgar word… in the sense of being common, anyway… and I was sure Steff could come up with a much more poetic way of describing the effect two people could have on each other than “horny as fuck.”

It did have an effect, though.

“How… how horny is fuck… exactly?” I asked, breathlessly.

“Exactly very horny,” Steff said. There was a hint of a leer on her face, and a hunger in her eyes that was almost frightening, and that almost made a surprising amount the difference.

“On a scale of one to ten?” I asked, closing my eyes, wanting her to go on… wanting her to talk dirty to me, about me. “How… horny… do I make you?” I felt like such a fake saying “horny” like that… like a bad actress in a worse porn movie.

“On a scale of one to ten,” Steff said, “with one being a schoolgirl at the first blush of womanhood and ten being a nymph coming out of a month in solitary confinement…”

My eyes flew open.

“A nymph couldn’t go a month without another person, she’d die,” I pointed out.

Steff’s finger was again on my lips.

“You know… sometimes, you really are a…” she said, though she trailed off without telling me what I really was. She looked like she didn’t know whether to laugh, scream, or cry. My cheeks burned; I realized I’d ruined a moment. Steff took a second to compose herself and then started again, as if I hadn’t said anything. Her finger was still on my lips to prevent a recurrence. “With one being a schoolgirl’s first blush and ten being a nymph coming out of solitary… you make me horny enough to sneak into the classroom, throw you down on the teacher’s desk, and have my way with your little whore ass in six or seven distinct ways.”

She didn’t specify, but I thought it was pretty clear she was talking about our history class… about the desk used by Professor Ariadne. That made it more exciting, somehow. A kind of hidden revenge on the bitter banshee? I wasn’t even phased by the choice of wording. Steff had seen the black list, and I knew she’d honor it.

I felt a serious need to whimper… tried not to, in order to obey the imperative of silence, and ended up whimpering more.

“I… I have class,” I said.

“You can ditch,” Steff said, and there was an urgency and need in her eyes and voice that told me better than any confused metaphors about sex-starved nymphs exactly how horny as fuck was. Her eyes held me… or maybe I clung to them. Our eyes held onto each other, as if they knew they would drown if they let go. Damn, and I had thought Steff’s metaphor was confused? “Just this once. It’s only the second week. You can ditch.”

Not breaking our gaze, I shifted my book bag off my shoulder and groped around inside it to find the notebook, which I handed to her. It was still open to the list.

She looked at it, perplexed… but of course, she’d seen most of it before. It was only when she came to the bottom and saw the new addition at the bottom. I saw her take it in, and digest its meaning… in particular as it applied to her suggestion. She seemed to deflate a little. If eyes could go limp, hers did, but I didn’t break contact. I didn’t want her to take this as a rejection.

“I’m sorry!” I said. “I didn’t mean to sound like…”

Steff muted me again.

“Don’t,” she said. “Don’t apologize for your black list, and don’t feel guilty for anything you put on it, okay? Just as you should never feel ashamed for liking what you do–sexually, I mean… you should be deeply and terribly ashamed of your tragic taste in television shows and reading material–so you shouldn’t feel ashamed about anything you’re not yet willing to do. Your partners can live with the occasional disappointment. Anyway, there’s always later… is this your last class?”

I saw where she was heading, and felt deeply conflicted. On the one hand, I think I would have to admit that Steff did indeed know how to make me “horny as fuck” and I would have loved to give in. On the other, I kind of wanted to wait until I’d had a chance to put my first date plan into effect before I consummated–if that word applied–with Steff. Dating did not normally enter into the sort of social and sexual arrangement Steff apparently favored… but for most people, dating and sex still went hand in hand, and it wouldn’t do to put the horse before the fucking hell! Thanks to Amaranth, I could never again safely think of the word “horse” within fifty miles of the idea of sex.

“Um… it is my last class,” I said. “But…”

“But?” Steff asked.

I turned away, hating myself for it… but I couldn’t stand to see her reaction when I said, “I’d rather we didn’t… ‘play’ with each other… right now.”

“Oh,” Steff said. I had such a powerful visual imagination and she had such an expressive voice that I was treated to an image of her face wearing a look of profound and soul-crushing disappointment on it. I might as well have just looked. There was no way reality could be as bad as what I saw. “Oh, well… if that’s… how you feel…”

I spun around. Her face was relatively composed, but I could see the disappointment in her eyes. It was understated, but it was there, and if it hadn’t been as bad as I imagined, it was worse for being realistic, and for being real.

“The thing is that I’ve… um… I’ve asked Amaranth for permission… to do something,” I said. I didn’t want to go into any detail, because I wanted the moment have a feeling of spontaneity when I asked Steff out, so it would seem sincere and not like a game. “Special. With you. And she won’t be able to give me the okay right away, but I think it will be better if we don’t… ‘play’… until after. It’ll be better that way.”

“Oh, well, that makes sense,” Steff said. “At least, I’ll assume it does. I’m not usually one who likes to wait to open a present, but if you say it’ll be better… okay. Well, it’s your call, anyway.”

She didn’t sound completely convinced, but I didn’t know what else I could say.

“I really have to head to class,” I said. “You’re coming to dinner with us, right?”

“Um… probably,” Steff said. “But if I don’t, try not to worry or take it personally, okay? I really am fine… or will be, anyway.”

“Okay,” I said. I leaned forward a bit, and Steff kissed me on the cheek. I only realized as her lips brushed my skin that I’d been leaning forward for that purpose. I hadn’t blushed at the kiss, but I blushed at that realization, for some reason. Steff giggled, as if she’d read my mind, and then turned and skipped away down the hall. I thought I saw a slight blush on her own ivory cheeks the moment before she turned.

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3 Responses to “73: Revising History”

  1. Mickey says:

    Minor typo, in “…that was almost frightening, and that almost made a surprising amount the difference.”

    I believe it should be “…made a surprising amount of difference.”

    Lovely, lovely writing. I’m up way too late, re-reading it. Again. 🙂

    Current score: 0
    • Elxir says:

      “There was a hint of a leer on her face, and a hunger in her eyes that was almost frightening, and that almost made a surprising amount the difference.”

      Mack was specifying that the ‘almost’ part of “almost frightening” is what kept it from actually BEING frightening, and instead being very, VERY sexy. The only typo in that section is between amount and difference, should be ‘of’ instead of ‘the’.

      Current score: 0
  2. ElectricHarpsichord says:

    “A kind of hidden revenge on the bitter banshee?”
    Don’t they use “bansidhe” in the MU-niverse?

    Current score: 0