November 20, 2012 by Lyn
Friday, November 21, 2003
The one thing this school was good at, if it was good at anything, was special order music. Shang turned the volume up another notch on his headphones so he could catch all the nuances of the synthesizer. With the headphones on, he could be going someplace normal, in some normal school, not in this freak parade. He could…
A hand snaked out of the corner of his eye and grabbed his headphones right off his head.
“Hey.” Shang turned, reaching for his headphones. His custom mail-ordered headphones. “Cut that out.”
The skinny, dark-skinned, dark-haired boy with neat braids grinned at him. There were either feathers braided in his hair or growing from his hair. He was wearing black, and had a black leather dog collar around his neck, complete with puppy treat shaped silver tag and a big ring at the front. Shang had seen him, here and there. Nab, or something like that. A freak like everyone else here.
“Just a minute,” Nab said, slipping the headphones on his own head. They were standing very close together, to allow the cord to stretch between them.
This was closer than Shang wanted to get to another guy, but he didn’t want to hurt his headphones. He scooted a bit closer, to not stretch the cord. “You like it?” He’d be willing to forgive quite a bit of freakishness for liking his music.
Nab tilted his head to one side and listened. “Yeah, I do. It has a nice beat. I could dance to it, maybe.” He didn’t start dancing, though he did shoot Shang a direct look.
“It’s better on big speakers.” Shang couldn’t decide if the guy was hitting on him, or just liked music. “I’ve been working on a massive set for my room, and some sound-dampening stuff.”
“Yeah?” Nab grinned at him, nodding along to the music slightly.
“I’ve got some better tracks, if you’re interested. Or I could burn you off a CD.”
“Oh, mm.” Nab grinned more broadly. “That would be great.”
“Yeah? My room is just over there.” Shang gestured vaguely. He knew where his room was, but mostly by theory. If the girl with all the scarves hanging off her door changed her decor, he was probably boned.
Nab offered him his headphones back, still smiling. “Lead on.”
“This way.” Probably. Shang led the way. “So, are you into indie bands?”
“I like all kinds of music. Especially the weird stuff.”
Weird. Shang twitched a little bit. “Random Penguins isn’t weird.”
“Hey, no,” Nab backtracked, “Just stuff other people think is weird, you know? Like my mom was always on me for not liking Mozart enough. Like I needed Mozart in my life for my life to be complete.”
“Hunh. I have a couple neat modern re-imaginings of Mozart.” Shang relaxed a bit. Some people thought ‘weird’ was a good thing. Especially here.
I’d love to hear those.” Nab sounded faintly surprised. Shang was, himself, a little surprised, too, but he rolled with it quickly. Bull by the horns, and all that.
“Well, lucky for you, I’ve got CD’s.” Shang swung his door open with a flourish. Shang had CD’s. Shang had CD’s like some people had clothes.
“So, can I come in?”
“What?” People here and their weird formal shit. “Yeah, sure, come on in. The acoustics suck in the hall. ”
“Cool. You live alone?” Nab came in, arms folded casually.
“Yeah. Not really into the dating scene here.” Shang’s sound system was the center of his room, almost a shrine. He picked the CD he wanted and slotted it in, his back to Nab.
“Why not?” Nab’s voice was from close behind him.
“I, uh, prefer dating humans?” His line seemed a little more lame, here, with this guy this close to him.
Nab laughed, and kept laughing. “Oh, wow. Kinky.”
“Dating humans is kinky?” Shang rolled his shoulders. “I mean. I’m human. ” Maybe inviting this guy here hadn’t been a great idea. Even if he did like Mozart and Random Penguins.
“Tense?” There were hands on his shoulders, kneading.
“Hey.” Shang twitched away. “No thanks.” He turned the music up.
Nab let him go, though he kept one hand on Shang’s hip. “This is nice. The music.”
“Yeah. It’s one of my favorite CD’s.” Shang turned, not wanting the other boy behind him anymore. Either sensing that or just having some common sense, Nab wandered away, to sit on the bed and listen.
As the song came to an end, he said, “I can see why.”
Shang paced. He liked to pace while he was listening, letting the song wash over him. “Yeah?” He smiled cautiously. Okay, maybe this would work out.
“I’ve never heard these guys before. They do a lot of stuff?”
“They’ve got five CD’s out, but a lot of people haven’t heard of them.” Shang pulled out the stack of CD’s. “I could burn you a copy of my favorite stuff.” Someone who liked music! Shang was willing to forgive a lot for that.
“Awesome.” With a please, even. He booted up his computer with a toe and flopped into the chair. He wanted to ask about the collar, but most of his friends who had gotten ridiculous jewelry had gotten all tense and miserable when he asked about it. Of course, most of his friends were Ninth Cohort, like he was. He was pretty sure this guy wasn’t.
“…You’re not a Ninth, are you?”
“Nah, Eighth. Why?” He’d known it! The Eighth Cohort had a different sound to them than the Ninth.
“Uh.” Shang shrugged. “Just wondering.” If you were brain-washed by your girlfriend, too. If it wasn’t just a Freshman thing.
Shang squirmed. “Yeah.” That thing. That really, really obvious thing.
“My boyfriend gave it to me. You don’t like it?”
Boyfriend. Shang struggled not to show anything. “It’s a bit big?” he offered weakly. It wasn’t like his friend Quintus wasn’t in a gay relationship. It wasn’t like he didn’t have gay friends. Here. He’d never known anybody gay back home.
He hadn’t known any non-humans back home, either.
Nab hooked a finger through the ring and gave it a playful yank.
“Well, that’s what people like. Bigger is better.”
Shang found himself blushing, and looked back at the CD rack. If Nab was a girl… but Nab was (probably) (just) a guy. “I really hate this school.” He’d never had questions like are they really a guy? back home.
“Why? Not human enough for you?”
“All this magic shit.” He’d learned better, for the most part. But the collar made it harder to remember Nab was an upperclassman. And “magic shit” was probably better than “not knowing if I’m talking to a guy or a chick.”
Nab studied him. “Magic? Really? Not what people usually mind.”
“What, the horns and ears and shit?” Shang, still devoid of horns or ears himself (except the
normal ears) had to admit that he was happier that way.
“Okay, people do mind that stuff. Some people.”
“What about you?” he couldn’t help but ask. Some people. He didn’t know why everyone didn’t mind turning into something freakish. Or wandering around pretending to have Changed into something freakish. Shang’s jury was still out on that one. Almost everything he’d seen could be easily faked.
“My changes aren’t that bad,” Nab said. “Sorta cool, I think.”
Shang had made it this long without asking, but the guy had been nice, even if he was qu… with a boyfriend. “Yeah? Feathers?”
“Really? That’s pretty mild.” If all Shang got was feathers, he could probably handle a Change.
“It doesn’t suck.”
“Yeah?” He stuck another CD in the player and set the Random Penguins to burning off a copy in his computer. If Nab really liked it, he could send the Penguins a donation. “I dunno, I like being human.” He really did. Being human was simple.
“Why? You get sick, you get your ass kicked, you die young. Younger.”
“Yeah, well, being magical got me locked in a prison.” Shang was still really irritated at just about everyone about that.
“Good point. Speaking of….”
“Speaking of prisons?” Shang eyed him cautiously.
“If you don’t do dating, d’you hook up?”
“Uh.” Shang was blushing, wasn’t he? Damnit. “Nobody’s really caught my eye here?”
“I bet there’ve been people who’ve been trying.”
“Yeah?” Shang shrugged. “Maybe one or two?” There were a couple girls who had followed him home a few times. And a squirrel.
“So, what’s wrong with me?”
“Uh.” Shang shrugged uncomfortably. “I’m not into guys.” And he’d never “hooked up” in his lifetime, with guys, girls, or squirrels.
Nab was grinning. That wasn’t a good sign, was it?
“I can work with that.”
“Uh?” Shang took a step backwards towards his computer.
Nab stood, and wandered over, trailing a hand along Shang’s collarbone. “I can work with that,” he repeated.
Elsewhere in the building:
“Cya, could you find Nab for me? He wandered off again.”
“Cabal, I swear, you should put a leash on that boy.”
Shang took another step backwards. “I’m not into guys,” he repeated. “Straight.”
Nab stepped forward, leaning in to whisper in his ear, “When I have my lips around your….” His voice dropped as he completed the suggestion.
Shang flushed. “You’re still a guy,” he stammered. Nobody, nobody, had ever offered to do that for him before.
“If you’re on top, how much does that matter, hm?” Nab stroked his hand down Shang’s chest.
“It’s not like I wouldn’t know.” He was running out of room to step backwards. And… “don’t want my first time to be with a guy.” Had he said that out loud?
Nab’s grin was toothy. A point of cold metal was in his hand, suddenly, pressing against Shang’s side.
“Oh, is that all? Maybe Thessaly and I can make a deal.”
Hey!” Shang squirmed back further, but he was up against his racks of CD’s. “What the fuck?”
“Calm down,” Nab laughed. “What?” He used the knife to push Shang back against the racks, toying with the band of Shang’s pants.
“If I put him on a leash for a week, will you find him for me? Please?”
“You know I will, Cabal. If I didn’t have Kheper…”
“He wants to go to bed with you, you know. Nab.”
“Dude, back off.” Shang held his hands up, nervous. Nervous, and maybe a tiny bit turned on. What was wrong with him?
“Mmm. He’s a little rough for my tastes. But tempting.”
“He calms down when he’s helpless.”
“Here you are.”
Someone knocked, and a male voice said sternly, “Naberius.”
The knife went away, and Nab stepped back, grinning disarmingly. “Yeah, sure, sorry. Just playing. Get me those CDs, will you?”
Shang squirmed, trying to shake the feeling of dirtiness. “Sure. I’ll bring them to your room?”
“That would be great. I’m just across the Pod, number four.” Nab grinned. “Thanks for having me over.”
“Yeah. Thanks for not stabbing me.” Thanks for not raping me. Um. Would that be rape?
Naberius laughed. “Man, I wouldn’t have stabbed you. I’m not a jerk.”
“Yeah. Uh. Your boyfriend’s calling.” Was it all just a game? Was he seeing how far Shang would let him go?
“Bye.” Naberius slipped out the door, closing it behind him.
Shang shoved the dresser in front of the door, and flopped onto his bed. Stupid place with no locks. Stupid place with knifepoint dating. Knifepoint gay dating.
He wanted to go home.
This story was written as a roleplay with Wysteria; Naberius and Cabal are characters created by her.
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