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Chapter 40: Kyle

4

June 26, 2013 by Lyn

Monday, June 14, 2004

Professor Drake regarded Kyle over folded hands.  “The other teachers have given you very good marks in all of your Working classes.  Low marks to attention span, of course-”

“Of course.”  Kyle sighed.  “I try, you know.”

“Yes, certainly.  However, they do not expect all that much attentiveness from first-year students, especially those that are Kept, as you are.”  The professor’s stoic expression barely registered a suggestion of disapproval.

Kyle just smiled.  His Mentor had been glaring at him about choosing the collar since it’d first happened.  “I am, yes.”

“And blissfully ignorant in the constraints of the bond.”

“Yep.  Well, I don’t know about ignorant.  I’m still doing pretty well in all my classes, after all.”

“Supremely well in the soft subjects, tolerably well in the hard sciences. Yes.  You will be able to parlay your education here into a suitable college – once, of course, you decide what you wish to do with the rest of your education.”  Another not-quite-a-glare.

Kyle shrugged.  “I figure I’ll start focusing after next year.  That gives me two years to really settle into the studying and then four or six years of college to specialize.”

“Are you planning on doing graduate-level work or merely lingering around the campus for an extra two years?”

Kyle smirked.  “You agreed to Mentor me, you know.  I doubt it was a favor to my mother.”  Speaking of which, he really ought to visit her.

“It was not, fond as I am of the Lady Foxglove.  No, you have quite the brain, Kyle; I simply despair of you ever focusing your attention for long enough to do anything with it.”

“Maybe I’ll come up with a way to get ADD kids to focus, and that can be my Master’s work.”  He grinned – but the idea had merit.

“I believe they have drugs for that.”

Kyle shook his head.  “They have drugs, sure.  They have things that shut your brain off and make everything fuzzy.  But a really good Intinn Working can just let you focus without all the crap.”

The professor leaned forward. “The Director did not mention that you have been studying your attention deficit disorder in her Intinn class.”

“I’m not doing it in class.”  Kyle’s chin went up and he met his Mentor’s gaze.  Whatever you do, pick a path and commit to it. It had been his father’s advice, and it had held him well in theater and in life.

Feu Drake raised one dark eyebrow. “You are experimenting with your own mind outside of the supervision of your instructors or your Mentor? And your Keeper is allowing this?”

“My keeper doesn’t know.”  Level, steady. I’m a smart guy; I know what I’m doing. And I have balls the size of cantaloupes.  It wasn’t a role Kyle played often, but he knew all the lines.

“Interesting.”  His Mentor actually sounded interested, too.  “Well, then, Kyle.  What have you learned in this unauthorized independent study?”

There will be a quiz. Of course there was.  Kyle leaned forward.  “Well, I’m learning the lines between Working Intinn and Hugr, of course.  And i’m learning that the disorder is far more complex than I thought at first.  I thought, initially, that I could use a basic Working, something like a meditation trick that Dr. Mendosa taught us.  But when I did that, my brain just did the same thing it does during non-Working meditation.”

He pulled out his notebook, suddenly really into the subject, and started drawing out diagrams.  “So then I tried something else…”

Fifteen minutes later, he glanced up to see if his Mentor was still awake.  Not only was Drake still paying attention, he even looked interested.  Intrigued, maybe?  Kyle hazarded a smile.  “You see?”

“Fascinating.  If you have time over the summer, you should talk to Dr. Mendosa about your work.”

“Um.”  Kyle shrugged.  “I wasn’t planning on staying here for the summer.”

“Indeed?”  Drake went from intrigued to surprised. “With your mother here…?”

“Yeah, I know.  I should talk to her about that.  But I have friends and stuff back home, you know.”

“‘Home,’ despite the fact that you grew up here in the Village?”

“I’ve kinda got two homes, you know?  And, anyway, I think my Dad misses me and stuff.  He doesn’t really write, but he wrote.”

“You are being imprecise again, Kyle.”

“I am.  Family makes me do that.”

“It  makes many people imprecise.  This is an affliction I would suggest you work on getting over.”

“I should be precise about my family?”

“About your emotional connections as a whole.  We – Ellehemaei – live for a longer time than pure humans, sometimes for an extraordinarily long time.  The word ‘family,’ after a time, ceases to suffice.  I’d suggest that you endeavor to learn the Old Tongue, Idu a’Iduþin.  The terminology in our ancestors’ language is much more adequate for our situations.”

Our situations.  “Pania said something about that a few months ago, just after Christmas.  About the true meaning of ‘Keeping’ in the Old Tongue.”

“Ah, yes.  Efrosin’s foster-father is occasionally learnéd.  And often rather willing to share his knowledge, regardless of the appropriateness of such.”

“I think it was appropriate.”

“Well, in this case, that may be.  It is, indeed, useful to know the true meaning of the concept of, as we call it in the vernacular, ‘being Kept’ or ‘Belonging.’ Oronta Apestla is a much more explanative term than ‘possession,’ certainly more so than some of the vulgar terms I’ve heard students use over the years.”

Kyle had heard some of those – a few from Addy, when she was having a bad day.  “Toy.  Pet.”

“Those, yes, among others.  So, Kyle, I would recommend you add studies of Idu a’Iduþin to your agenda, as well as, of course, a more thorough education in Greek, especially as it relates to your Words.  With Unutu, you can do quite a bit – if you have the appropriate terminology at your hands.”

Kyle smirked.  “It sounds like you’re saying if I’m not going to pick a direction, I ought to be sure to generalize well.”

“Well, we have four years to educate you, assuming you do well in all of your classes and otherwise live up to the graduation requirements.  As Adannaya is already pregnant, I assume you are not planning on rebelling in that particular case.”

Kyle felt the smirk falling off his face, and tried to keep looking his Mentor in the eye. Pick a path and commit.  “She’s pregnant, yes.  Not with twins, but, of course, I have three more years.”  He twitched one shoulder in something that suggested a shrug.  “It helps, for me, that I can talk to my mother about it, ask her why.  Most students here don’t really have that at hand.”

“Indeed.  most parents are not as forthcoming as the Lady Foxglove, either.”

“That’s one way to put it.”  Kyle shrugged.  “Yeah.  I’m not sure I like everything about this school, but I’m not going to hare off like a Zeroth or anything, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“I am not asking.  I did not assume that you would.”  The professor smiled, or at least, did what sufficed with him for a smile.  “You are an intelligent student, and you are my Student.  There are more effective manners in which to show your displeasure.”

“Know your target’s weaknesses.”  Kyle answered with what Addy called his fox-smile; it showed more teeth than most of his expressions.  “Addy’s pretty good at that, actually.”

“I am, in general, impressed with your Keeper.  She is a strong and resilient young woman; she is likely to grow into a formidable adult.”

Kyle thought about that for a moment.  Addy?  Yeah, that sounded like her.  “She is.  Though I don’t think most people see it.”  That sounded a little nicer than I’m surprised you see it; he was pretty sure the professor wouldn’t appreciate being underestimated.

“I am certain most people don’t, as most people think that you are a bumbling sort of overgrown child.  You two suit each other.  Have you given thought to the years after this one?”

“Didn’t we already talk about that?”

“In regards to your studies, yes.  But planning out your, shall we say, romantic life is a different matter entirely from planning out your academic life – although, especially in Addergoole, they are likely to be joined.”

Kyle coughed.  “So, you want to know about my love life?  That’s a first.”

“It’s hardly a ‘first,’ as you well know.  The well-being of my Students is always of interest to me.”

“Well-being and love life aren’t the same thing.”

“And you’re being obdurate and obstinate. When one is Kept, one’s emotional attachments are very intimately tied to one’s well-being.  And you are, indeed, under Adannaya’s Name and her aegis, are you not?”

“I’m not planning on staying that way through the rest of her time at school here, though!”  Even saying that made him feel bad; He looked down at the desk and shrugged his shoulders, trying to shake the bad Kept feelings running through him.  “I like Addy, but…”

“Is it the way you imagined it would be?  Belonging to another?”

“That’s not really a fair question.”  Kyle didn’t look up at his Mentor.  He didn’t want to see the unbearable I told you so smirk.

“Nevertheless, it is the question I am asking.”  His voice didn’t sound like he was smirking.

“I didn’t know what to expect.  I’d seen people Kept, but since nobody talks about it – since nobody can really talk about it at all – I wasn’t sure what it would feel like.”  Kyle paused, still staring at his fingers.  “I’m not sure any number of explanations would have helped.”  He sorted through the orders Addy had given him; there weren’t many, but those she had decided on had an echo of her former Keeper in their phrasing.  Do not speak ill of me.  He could do this without talking ill of her, he was pretty sure.  “The way an order feels, the first time – every time, really.  The way it feels when she’s angry, or just when she’s had a bad day.  Or when she’s happy with me, or having a good day.”

“Indeed.”  Something in Drake’s voice made Kyle, finally, look up.  The Professor was looking off into the distance, his lips faintly curled upwards.  “I recall the sensation, although it has been quite a while.  And I agree – words do not do it justice, in any tongue.”

“…What?”  Kyle’s question came out sounding strangled.  It only made his Mentor smirk at him.

“I believe you will find that there are very few of us on the staff who have not ‘done our time,’ as it were, under the collar.  I am not entirely certain about the Hunting Hawk, but I know that the Linden-Blossom has, and I am rather certain of most of the younger professors.”

“Only you could call someone a century old ‘younger.’“

“I am not all that ancient, just old enough.”  Drake dismissed that line of conversation with a wave of his hand.  “And, yes.  I have knelt before my Owner and said the words of submission.  It was quite some time ago, as I said, but she was – likely is – a formidable woman.”  He looked sharply at Kyle.  “And the experience taught me quite a bit.  Are you learning, as well?”

“I thought you didn’t like me going under the collar?”  Kyle dodged the question, half out of habit, and half because that was sometimes the only way to get his Mentor to come to a point.

“I doubted your reasoning, and your timing, that was all.  Also,” the professor sounded amused, “you, I have found – and your mother confirms – work best when you have a bit of resistance to your ideas.”

“You were manipulating me.”

“Were?”

“Probably are.”  Kyle thought about that.  He could have chosen another professor as his Mentor – could have even taken his mother as a Mentor.  He knew a few of them far better than he knew Drake.  “It’s part of the test, isn’t it?”

“Everything, young Kyle, is part of the test.  The question – the only question, in the end – is if you will rise to the challenge or fall.”  The smile was gone.  The amusement was gone.  There was nothing in Feu Drake’s voice but a sonorous solemnity.  Kyle swallowed hard.  “What if I fail?”

“My Students, Kyle oro’Adannaya cy’Drake, do not fail.”  The professor stood, his long coat brushing softly against the hardwood floor.  “I will see you again in one week.  I suggest you put together a plan for your next year of study, and how it will alter your plans going forward.”

Kyle stood, too.  He wasn’t sure he could have stayed seated if he wanted to. “Yes, sir.”  He managed a bow – not nearly as elegant as he knew he could do – and fled.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

“You know, most of the finals are already over.”  Addy plopped down on the bed next to Kyle.  She didn’t move quite as elegantly as she had at the beginning of the year, the weight of their child making her movements slow even if she did Mask over the baby bump. But, to Kyle’s mind, Masked or not, she was still lovely. He gave her a smile – most of his finals were over – but looked back to his book anyway.

She trailed her fingers down his back, lingering near the waistband of his pants.  “And yet you’re diving into those books as if your life depended on them.  What’s so interesting, lover?”

Kyle sighed.  “I’ve been obvious, haven’t I?”  He closed the book – a Lit text – over an unhappy-kitten bookmark and turned his attention in full to his Keeper.

“For the last two days.  You’ve been staring at books and taking notes as if the hounds of hell are after you, ever since your meeting with Drake.”

“I feel like they are.”  He reached for her, urging her onto his lap.  He’d been hesitant about that, at first: some girls, he’d been informed,  thought it was demeaning, or lessened them.  But he was not really a small guy, and Addy was not really a big girl.  She fit in his lap like she belonged there.

“What’s going on?”  She settled sideways, her head resting against his shoulder. “Problems with your Mentor?”

“I have no direction, and he has decided that cy’Drake Do Not Fail.”  Holding Addy was soothing; running his hand up and down her spine so that she made small noises of pleasure, that was almost a drug.  “So I have to come up with a plan of some sort, before our meeting next week.”

“While studying for finals?”

“While studying for finals.  My Mentor is a sadist.”

“Heh.” She kissed the side of his neck, sending shivers down his spine.  “Welcome to Addergoole.  So…”  Her lips kept doing wonderful things between the questions.  “What sort of plan?”

“Not totally clear.  Well, I mean, this coming year of studies, first.  Sort of ‘if you’re not going to plan your future, at least plan your next year.”

“You’re not planning your future?”  She paused in her kissing.  He couldn’t see her face, but her voice sounded worried.

“Well…” He shifted his weight from cheek to cheek, stopped himself, and drew figure-8s on her back.  “I’ve never really thought about it, before Addergoole.  A couple years of college, I thought, probably do something with the theater, but that’s a hobby, not really a career.  I’m not really… career-stage sort, though I could have fun with it.”

“You could be a singer.”  She went back to the interesting things with her mouth.

“My voice is good, but it’s not great.  I could do studio sessions to pay the rent – but I don’t really want fame, anyway. It can get tricky, being what we are.”  He’d learned that one from his mother – and, sideways, from Professor Reid.

“Mmm.  I guess it can.  I never really thought about that.  Then again, I’ve never really wanted fame.”  She kissed his earlobe in a way that made it hard to think about fame, or, really, anything at all, and then she made his brain engage again.  “What are you good at, I mean, Words-wise?  I remember Hiko and Intinn..”

“And Hugr and Unutu.  I could build an an AI that had emotions.”  Kyle smirked.  “I mean, I don’t know how good I’d be at that, since math is definitely not my best class.  It might end up all lumpy…”

“Build it…” She flapped her hand.  “Not an order.  You could make it like Tik-Tok.”

“Like…”  It was barely tickling a memory.  He looked at his Keeper, ears twitching, trying to make her words trigger something in his mind.

“From the Wizard of Oz books.  You had to have read them; there’s signed copies in the Village Library.  I’ve been reading them to Aswin at night.”

“Ah!”  The roly-poly mechanical wind-up man who talk-ed like thi-is.  “Yeah.  Hunh, I could do that.  I’m not sure about the career implications of making feeling automatons.  I was sort of thinking about studying brain chemistry and the way electricity works in the mind.”

“You’d need math for that, you know.”

“I know.”  He sighed, letting the breath move across the top of Addy’s head.  “I know. It makes everything a hundred times more frustrating, but there’s not much you can do with Hiko without math, and Intinn gets worse.”

“So unless you want to focus on Hu… emotions and be a performer or, I suppose, worked things and be some sort of craftsman, you’re stuck with the math.  Well, at least you have a good teacher for it here.”

“Yeah.”  He twisted so he could kiss the top of her head.  “I’ll figure it out.  He wants me to focus on languages first, so I’ll take a class in Old Tongue and a class in Greek, and maybe a second math class, maybe some sort of computer class.”  He smirked, feeling tired. “It’s a good thing I get along with Professor Solomon.”

“Well, if you didn’t, you could stick with the emotion and mind stuff and work with Mendosa and the Director.”

“Ha, yeah.”  He pushed the book off of the bed, listening for the pleasing thump.  “You know, there are other things to think about, other than academics.”

“Yeah?”  She looked up at him through her hair; her expression suddenly not at all amused.  Kyle swallowed hard through a lump in his throat. “Like what?”

“Like…”  He swallowed again, and took the coward’s way out.  “Like the little peanut in your belly.”

“She’s hardly a peanut anymore.  She’s more like a giant lead weight.”  She dropped the Mask, showing off not only the round fullness of her belly but the color-shifts of her Change and her pointed, delicate ears.  “See?”

“I see.  So we’re sure it’s a girl?”  He splayed his hand over her stomach, feeling the kick of a tiny foot.

“Dr. Caitrin is sure, and that’s good enough for me.  And she’s giving me more trouble than Aswin did.  They say that happens with girls.”

“Trouble?”  He didn’t know if the panic was the bond or his own emotions.  Maybe it was both.

“What’s going on, Addy?  You didn’t say anything.”

“I didn’t want you to worry.”

Don’t worry.  Kyle swallowed as the bond tried to suggest that meant he should stop worrying now.  “But, I mean…”

That was one thing about Addy; she knew the signs of an order going sideways, because she’d run into more than a little of that herself.  She patted Kyle’s leg.  “It’s okay.  If you want to worry, you can worry.  You know I don’t give you orders about your emotions.”

“I know.”  That had been one of their first serious-face discussions. “I know, and you know I really appreciate it.  But, Addy… it’s being bad?”

“Not bad.  But my blood pressure has been giving me trouble, and Caitrin keeps threatening to put me on bed rest.  Luke has me walking really slow circles around the gym in P.E., and you might have noticed the lack of salt?”

“I did.”  He shifted her, carefully, so her feet were in his lap, and started rubbing her toes through her socks.  “So… it’s not fun, but you’ll be okay?”

“Both of us will be okay.”  She patted his wrist.  “But you can keep up the rubbing, if you want.  That’s just awesome. You’re just awesome, when you do things like that.”

Kyle let the praise wash over him, and didn’t bother to try not to smile, the big, goofy, half-drunk smile he always got when she did that.  “I like making you happy.”

“I know.  You’re a lot better at being Kept than I thought you’d be.”

That didn’t feel quite as good. “Mmm?”  He blinked uncertainly at her.  His hands, however, kept moving.  She liked her feet rubbed.  He could do that.

“I wasn’t sure.  You were really… methodical about the whole thing.  That could have ended really badly.”

Kyle thought about that for a minute. “You mean, for instance, if I was a control freak, and that’s why I was being so anal about it?”

“I liked my word better.”

“You’re the boss.”  He focused on pressing his thumbs into the tender places on her feet.  “Why I was being methodical about it?”

“Yeah.  I mean, the reasons you gave me were perfectly rational ones-”

“Thanks you.”

“You’re welcome.  But they could have been the truth or they could have been just bullshit to cover other reasons.  And Eirena might be tired, but she’s really intimidating, and Brydan is pretty pushy, too.  So you could have been giving me the reasons I’d believe.”

Kyle nodded, but he kept his eyes on her feet.  It was rational, it was reasonable, and it was still hard to hear.  “And you thought I might flip out once I was under the collar.”  His voice was cracking.  Damnit, this wasn’t what he wanted to talk about.  This wasn’t how her wanted her to be thinking about her.  “But I didn’t.”

“You didn’t.”  She reached over and patted his arm again.  “You’re smart, and you didn’t always agree with me, but that’s fine, that’s okay.  I liked it.”

“Past tense.”  The panic was rising.  He gulped hard, and repeated himself.  “Past tense?”

“Oh, honey. Kyle.”  She pulled her feet out of his grasp and wormed her way back into his lap.  “Past, present, and future.  I like you.  I like Keeping you.   I like being with you, collar or no collar.”

And that, that had been what he wanted to talk about, back before he felt as if his heart was a lump of rock.

“I like being with you, too.”  It’s the best he could manage.  “I like… everything.  I didn’t expect to like it this much.  I didn’t expect any of it.”

“I think it hits everyone like that.  I dunno, maybe if it was your second or third time under the collar.”  She pursed her lips  “We could have asked Anwell, last year  Or we could ask Zita, I guess.  I can’t think anyone else who’s been under the collar more than once, around here.”

“Maybe later.”  He stole a kiss.  “You’re adorable when you get scientific.”

She wrinkled her nose. “Adorable.  Adorable?

He held up both hands before she could get actually upset.  “I know, I know.  I know.  I don’t mean to be demeaning.  You Own me, remember?  You’re in charge.  But you make me smile when you’re scientific.  Cy’Pelletier, and you love to know how brains work.”  He kissed her forehead.  “I think it’s awesome.”  And he knew better, knew better than to call her things like adorable.  “I get carried away.  Blame the bond?”  He gave her a cute smile, the “I’m-harmless-don’t-be-mad” one.

As he’d hoped, it got a laugh.  “All right, all right.  But you’re the adorable one.”

“Okay,  I can handle being adorable, as long as you’re not mad at me.  And… Addy?  I like being with you.  I like being…” He gave up and kissed her again. “I love you, okay? I really love you.”

He hadn’t said that before.  He’d been trying not to say it.  He’d been wondering if he did, if he did’t, if it was him or the bond, if there was really any difference between the two.

When he saw the look on her face, he didn’t know why he’d waited so long.  She looked like he’d just wrapped up the world and given to her.

“I would…” She couldn’t read her mind; well, okay, she could, if she really tried, but she’d always said it was hard.  “I’d wrap the world up for you, you know.  With a bow on it, and silver ribbons.  I’d give you everything in the world.”

She caught a soft noise in her throat, something like a gasp, something like a sob.  “Kyle…”

“What? What’s wrong?”  This panicking was getting to be a habit, and not one  he was fond of.  “What did I… what’s wrong?”

“Oh, you!”  She flung her arms around his neck and hugged him.  “It’s okay, Kyle, it’s okay.  Nothing’s wrong.  You’re just so sweet, you’re too sweet for words, it’s too much.”

She was crying on his shoulder, but she said nothing was wrong.  He patted her awkwardly. “It’s okay?”  He hated how much he needed reassurance, but, well.. he did.

“It’s okay.  It’s more than okay.  It’s wonderful.”  She kissed him, the sort of kiss that had been in short supply in recent months of heavy pregnancy.  And finally, he believed her.  “And I love you too.”

He tried not to ask himself why loving him would  make her cry.

Timora

Friday, June 18, 2004

Timora cleared her throat and, carefully, began speaking.

“Although it is common myth that the Native Americans all rode around on horses, and common knowledge that the Spanish brought horses to the Americas, few people know that horses originally evolved here, on this continent.”

She swiveled her horse-like ears towards her History class.  They were listening with varying levels of actual interest, but, more importantly – most importantly for her – they were not wincing, or flinching, or running away.

She smiled, and kept speaking.  Her final project was only nominally on the history of horses in America; she had used that as her framework for the history of horse-myths – both in America and across the globe – and the stories from which she and her brother’s Changes had come.

She told the class about Kelpies, about Centaurs – Cartimandua wasn’t in this class, but her name was murmured as Timora continued – about each-uisge and nixies. She told them about all the myths that resembled her Change, and the history of those stories, in broad strokes.

And when she was done, she watched as her classmates regarded her in something like interest – and something like an entirely different sort of fear.

“Thank you.”  She thought her next year at school might be interesting.


Recently,I put up these two polls: shell poll Addergoole poll re. July Camp Nano and what-should-I-write.

Right now, “Second generation” is winning, which leads me to the next question:

Who in the second generation do you want to see?

(Answers can either be names or, say, “Jamian’s kids” or personality-type or upbringing-type descriptions)



Art by Djinni

Image from http://www.dolldivine.com/mori-girl-dress-up.php

Art by Xrinettex


Addergoole: Year Nine updates every Wednesday evening EST. Want more?


Words



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4 comments »

  1. Gudy says:

    Thank you
    “This wasn’t how her wanted her to be thinking about her.” That’s two “her”s too many, I think. First her -> he, second her -> him.

    • Gudy says:

      !? What happened to my post? That’s only half of what should have been there.

      So, again, with less html-confusing goodness: I loved that chapter, all of it. And Kyle really is rather smart, isn’t he.

      Typos:
      “Thanks you.” Should be “Thank you.”
      “This wasn’t how her wanted her to be thinking about her.” That’s two “her”s too many. First her -> he, third her -> him.

  2. Kuro_Neko says:

    Good chapter.

    There’s a bunch of pronoun troubles during the talk between Addy and Kyle. I bunch of times you use female pronouns when referring to Kyle.

    Happy to see Timora is finally getting her voice under control.

  3. Kunama says:

    Finally, Feu Drake. Would like to see more of the professors.
    Liked all of that, actually.

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