July 10, 2013 by Lyn
Sunday, June 27, 2004
Sandals, skirts, books, beach towel. Miryam had just finished putting the last of her things in a bag when her door opened.
“Where’re you going?” Agra had, from the sounds of things, been drinking. “You’re not going home, are you? They’re not going to know what to do with you there.”
“They never did.” Her wings fluttered, a memory of how things had been as well as the tension, thinking about how things would be, if she’d been planning on going home. “I’m heading to the beach for a week or two.”
“To the beach?” He stepped in, closing the space between them in a couple short steps. Miryam fluttered higher, until she could at least look him in the eyes. he was smirking at her. “And you think that will be better? A little freak like you, out on the beach?”
Miryam pulled up her Mask. “A little freak like me,” she agreed. “Out on the beach. It’s just two weeks, Agra.”
“I don’t know I like it.” He ran his thumb over her cheek. “Damie’s taking Shang out on vacation. You’re going to leave me all alone with Kendon.”
“And your Mentor, and the rest of your cy’ree. You’ll be fine for two weeks, Agra.”
“I could come with you. I like the beach.”
Miryam sighed. It didn’t matter if she looked a little put-out. It actually helped; Agra liked to inconvenience people. Well, he liked to inconvenience Miryam, especially. “As long as we don’t have to bring Kendon along.”
“We can lie to him and say we’re going home to meet the family. Then he wouldn’t come along if we paid him.”
“I’ll take it.” She sighed again at Agravain. “You could last just fine for two weeks without me.”
“But I don’t want to.” This time, his thumb rested just below her lips. “I like having you around. Especially since I don’t have Kat anymore.”
“How’s she doing?” Kat’s babies had come at the beginning of the month. But she avoided Miryam as much as she avoided the rest of the crew.
Agra shrugged. “She doesn’t want to talk to me. I named the twins, and she practically yanked them back out of my hands.”
“Well, can you blame her?” Miryam had done her best to get in Agra’s line of attention when he was on a rampage, but she didn’t imagine it had been easy, being under his collar, even with her intervention.
Agra smirked broadly. “Not hardly. I don’t really care, either. I named them. That’s the thing I needed to do. Sired ‘em and named ‘em. They’ll always have a piece of me in them… and I’m pretty sure she hates that.” He looked pleased with himself. “That’s what she gets for wanting to be free of me.”
Miryam just smiled, and then she put a bit of whammy into it, turning it into a smile. There was no point in telling Agra that what he had done was wrong. No point at all in trying to get him to stop. The best she could do would be to try to keep him distracted, next year, so that he didn’t get another toy to torment.
Agra moaned quietly. “If you’re going to do that to me, pretty little fairy, go all the way. You know the kisses don’t do it by themselves anymore.”
“You want a kiss, Agra?”
“You know I want a kiss. You know I want it all.” He set his hands on her hips – but carefully, because when he was feeding his addiction (as at no other time), he remembered that she was the only source of the smile.
“I want your kiss. I want your bliss…” He made it a sing-song. “Give it to me?” He leaned towards her; she leaned back away from him.
“You know what I want.” She was smiling, although not whammying him. She’d keep smiling as she danced across this tightrope; if she didn’t, the wolves would sense weakness and dive in for the kill.
Way to mix metaphors, Mir.
Agra growled. “I don’t have Kat anymore. What am I supposed to bargain with?”
“Are you telling me you don’t think you’ll have a Kept next year?” She was very flexible. Even Luke had commented on it.
“Kendon can’t ever have a Kept again. What does he pay you with?” His hands were tightening on her hips. His voice had a bit of a snarl to it now.
“Oh, this and that.” She flapped her hand lazily. “That’s my deal with him. I don’t share our deal with anyone else.” There was an art to looking nonchalant while a wolf contemplated your throat – a junkie wolf, at that. Miryam was getting very practiced at that art.
“All right, all right. And what if I don’t get a Kept next year?”
She’d cheer. “There’s the year after that. Or, if not that, we can make another bargain… You could serve me for a night, yourself, instead.” She tilted her head up to study his face. The tightrope was wobbling.
He showed her his teeth. “You wouldn’t survive, pretty fairy. All right. If you give me the kiss, the whammy kiss, I promise you one full night, six p.m. to six a.m., of my next Kept’s time, time to be set at your discretion but with right of refusal as discussed.” The words fell off his tongue, likely only from long practice. It had been almost a week since his last hit.
Miryam was surprised he could form words.
“You’ve been putting this off for a while.”
“I don’t like making promises I don’t know how to keep.” He leaned towards her, the growl deep in his throat. “Kiss me, Miryam.”
“Lay back, Agra. You know I don’t like it when you get all growly at me.” She pushed at his chest with both hands. She shouldn’t have let him go quite this long. He was hard to manage when he started really fiending – not like Kendon, who just whined.
“I don’t like it when you make me wait.” He let her push him onto the bed, though. As she fluttered above him, he started tugging at his pants. The need made his fingers clumsy, and he couldn’t quite get his jeans unbuttoned. “Mirrrrrr.”
“Easy, easy big boy.” She gave him another smile, the best whammy she could push through with just a curl of her lips, and straddled him while he was still floating on that flow. “Come on, give me your lips, that’s it.” No wonder he didn’t want her to go away for a couple weeks. She’d come back to find him twitching in a corner.
She would come back to Kendon twitching like that, but it served him right. And one problem at a time. She pressed her hands onto Agra’s shoulders – not that she could hold him down, if it really came to it, but it helped him remember – and paused, with her lips just above his, until he grabbed her headboard. “That’s it.” Only then did she kiss him.
Her smile had a mildly euphoric whammy to it that left people glowing happily, like a glass or two of wine, although far more addictive. Her kiss, by comparison, was a shot of heroin. She hadn’t known that when she’d started using her smile and her kiss to keep Kendon and Agra pleasant. She wasn’t sure she’d have done it differently if she had known.
Agra groaned into the kiss. His hips rode up, mindlessly trying to grind into her. His hands clenched on the bedframe until his fingers started to turn white. “Another…?” His voice was nearly a whine.
“Can you manage the Working?” There were deals she had made with them, with Kendon and Agra. This had been the hardest one to secure but, in the end, it was also the most important.
“Work… yes. Yess, I can do the Working.” He opened his eyes and flexed his hands. “Tempero Tlacatl …”
Miryam listened closely. She did not want a baby from Agra (almost as much as she didn’t want a baby from Kendon). When he had completed the Working to her satisfaction, she kissed him again, the kiss full of whammy.
Her antennae quivered. They could sense any addiction, she was fairly certain, but when someone was addicted to her, it sent shivers through her like little bitty waves of pleasure. “That’s it.” She murmured it into the kiss. “That’s what we needed.”
She made short work of the button that had been giving him so much trouble earlier, and shorter work of her dress. Moments later, she was fluttering above him, watching his hands clench and release on the bedframe. “One more?”
“Gods! One more, a thousand more, anything you want.”
Miryam smiled broadly. Once in a long while, she felt bad about this. Then she remembered that Agra had walked in here willingly – had brought her into his Crew willingly – had done things that had made her feel the need for self-defense. Then she didn’t feel at all bad, anymore.
“Nobody knows, right?” His voice was a whisper as she leaned down to kiss him yet again.
She brushed her lips over his. “Nobody knows, lover. This is between you and I and nobody else.”
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
“This isn’t quite what I had in mind when you said you were going to the beach.” Agravain stood on the hotel balcony, looking out at the Atlantic.
Miryam couldn’t help but smirk. “You’re the one who invited yourself along on my holiday plans. I didn’t think telling you which ocean I was going to would sway you.”
“No surf. And it’s chilly.”
“It’s not really chilly.” She dug her favorite bikini out of her bag and slipped it on while Agra’s back was turned. “I mean, it’s in the mid-eighties out there. That’s plenty warm.”
“You got us one room.” Agra seemed more scatterbrained than normal.
“I got me one room. If you want to bring girls – boys – squirrels – back, you’re going to need to get your own room.”
“How would I pay for that? How are you paying for this?”
“With money, I’d assume.” Miryam was enjoying this far more than she ought to. But out here, Agra wasn’t nearly as intimidating as he was in school.
“But where did you get the money?”
“Summer jobs last year. And I’ve been doing work for Professor Valerian and Valentina all year long.”
“I didn’t know that.” Now he was sulking. Lovely.
“Agra, there’s lots of stuff you didn’t care to know about me.”
“Like my opinions on just about anything, including being part of your Crew.” She shrugged. “It’s the way it is. I gave you three what you wanted.”
“But what if I’d wanted you while you were out doing things? You’re not going to keep doing it next year, are you?”
“If you’d wanted me while I was out doing things, you would have noticed I was out, and complained. Since you didn’t, I think it’s safe to assume I’m in the clear for that time.” She grabbed her towel and slipped flip-flops on her feet. “Come on. The beach awaits.”
He grabbed her arm. “Miryam! We’re talking here.”
“No, Agra. You’re talking. I answered more than I should have already.”
His fingers clenched on her arm. “What else have you been hiding from me?”
“Agra…!” Miryam wondered if it was the change of venue, or it just being the two of them, that had her snapping. Normally, she could keep a better lid on it than this.
She used his grip as a pivot and turned to look him in the eye, holding herself a foot above the ground. “Agravin cy’Linden. I am not your Kept. I am your Crew. Your reasons for offering me that choice might have been twisted, but that’s the choice you offered me. Yes?”
“Yes, but you’re hiding shit!”
“I don’t ask you what you do when you’re out on the weekends with cy’Linden – or whoever you go out with. What I do in my free time is none of your business.”
“If I knew you had spending money…”
“Exactly. Which is why I didn’t tell you.”
“I know now. Come on, you’ve got to share. We’re crew.”
Miryam sighed. “All right, Agra.” She leaned in and kissed him, hard, with a whammy behind it. He stepped backwards, forgetting he was still holding her, like a green balloon, bobbing along close to his lips. She kissed him again, and while he was still reeling, she whispered her working.
“You don’t need that memory, Agra. I’m sorry. I thought I could trust you.” And she really was. She kissed him again, and inserted a flip and far less honest answer to his question.
How are you paying for this?
My parents sent me a little cash.
He pulled her against his chest and gripped her ass. “Mmm… Kisses. Kisses everywhere. Kisses all weekend.”
“That’s enough kisses for you, greedy boy. That’s enough for you for now.”
He pushed her hard against his growing erection. “Now.”
“Later, Agra. I want to go to the beach.”
“Agra, you remember what happened the last time you tried that.” She kept her voice very steady. Raising her voice would just set him off. “You know what happens when you try to make things go your way and not mine.”
“You kissed me.”
“I did. But that doesn’t mean anything else has to happen. And right now, I want to go to the beach.”
“All worked up.” His grip was loosening. “All horny.”
“You’re welcome to use your hand, and there’s lotion in the bathroom. I’ll meet you on the beach when you’re done.”
“Need and want are different, Agra.” She pushed him backwards. “Go take care of yourself and get your head on straight. I’m going down to the beach, which is why I came here.” She stepped away from him, and floated backwards to the door.
“Mir…” He was wandering towards the bathroom. He knew well enough that he couldn’t push it; he’d learned early in the year that he couldn’t force her to give the whammy. And if he tried to force anything else, she withheld the whammy.
The beach. She landed on her feet and made sure her Mask was up before she left her hotel room. The beach. She’d been promising herself this since the second week of school. A couple weeks, out in the sun, playing in the surf, just being a normal teenager again, as much as she could be.
“Excuse me, miss?” The maid looked worried. “You shouldn’t be wandering around without your mom and dad.”
“My father’s dead.” Miryam grabbed her beach bag and pulled out her wallet. “And I’m an adult. I don’t need my mommy and daddy.”
Regine’s secretary Hayley was willing to help with any number of things, including, it had turned out, providing slightly adjusted ID’s.
She wouldn’t be 18 for two more years – but her license said she was nearly 19. She passed the license over to the maid. “See?”
“I’m sorry, miss. It’s just…”
“I’m short.” She cupped her breasts with both hands. “I’m not a kiddie, though.”
The maid blushed. “Sorry, sorry, miss.” She pushed the license back in Mir’s hand. “Enjoy your stay. And please…”
Miryam took pity on her. It wasn’t the woman’s fault that her Change had made her short. Or that she was carrying a fake ID. “If I was a kid, I’m sure my parents would be glad you were keeping an eye out. Beaches like this can be shark pits. It’s okay.”
The maid relaxed visibly. “It’s just, I really need this job…”
“I get it. I’ve been there.” She pointed a non-hi-test smile at the maid and hurried out to the beach before anyone else could stop her.
The beach. The beach. She skipped across the road in her sandals, barely remembering not to float, and hit the sand with both feet, suddenly acting as young as the maid had thought she was.
She’d been younger than that when her parents had brought her here. Every summer for five years – no, six. Six years, and then her father had died.
She swallowed a lump. She could remember him alive when she was here.
She kicked off her sandals and let the sand run through her toes. Where does the sand come from, Daddy? Why does everyone like it so much?
It washes up from the sea, honey. Shells and rocks, that the water rubbed and rubbed, until there’s nothing but sand left. And we like it… because that’s where we came from, too.
From the sea?
She remembered the quirky way his smile had twisted. Some of us, my mermaid. She wondered if her father had known any mermaids.
She wondered if her father had thought she would Change into a fish, the way Thessaly had. Or if he’d even known.
She would not wonder if he’d been her father. Akaterina had said one thing to her – one – since Agra had freed her. “They’ll have a father. I’ll make that happen. Agra was just a sperm donor.”
If Mason Tucker hadn’t been her biological father, it didn’t matter. He’d been her father until the day he died.
She laid her blanket out on the sand, in a place near a volleyball game and a mother with three young children. The sun was bright, the breeze just cool enough so the heat wasn’t oppressive.
Daddy, why is it warmer here?
I suppose it’s all the pretty bodies heating up the beach. Her father had grinned at her, sharing a joke her mother wouldn’t approve of.
Miryam, four years later, shared a smile with her father. She leaned back, pillowing her head on her arms, and watched all the hot bodies warming up the place.
Saturday, July 3, 2004
“You’ve got pretty good taste in beaches.”
Agravain was drunk, and not on Miryam’s smiles. Which was fine, because he had promised Miryam that he would be responsible for himself, so if he got arrested for underage drinking – he was no more twenty-one than she was – he could deal with it all on his own. And if he forgot himself and resorted to Workings and some Adult had to come and clean it up, well, that was also not Miryam’s problem.
She smiled brightly back at him. The sun had gone down an hour ago, and the beach on Fourth of July weekend was not a place for children. She had her own cup – soda, and nothing else; she’d checked (twice) – so that nobody tried to give her anything, and she was having as much fun as Agra appeared to be.
There was music. Around midnight, someone would probably complain – she remembered her father talking her mother out of the same – and the music would have to stop. But for now, there was stuff with a beat going down, and she was dancing with a gorgeous man wearing nothing but his swim trunks and a gold necklace.
After a year in Addergoole, the necklace did give her pause. At a break in the music, she ran three fingers up his chest – he had just enough chest hair to be nice, without being so much as to be icky. She hooked her fingers into his necklace, and smiled. “It’s a nice piece of jewelry.”
“Thanks.” He was cautious, but that could be for any number of reasons.
“Who bought it for you?”
In Addergoole, that meant something entirely different than it did out in the world; she wondered what it meant in other fae circles.
To him, it meant his cheeks darkened in the dim light. “Uh.” Over his shoulder, fireworks went off. “My mom, actually. It was a Christmas present.”
“It’s lovely.” She gave him the sideways smile that meant she wasn’t making fun of him, and kissed his chest just under the chain. Either he was being Kept by his mother – in which case, she couldn’t blame him for being embarrassed, really – or he was human, and it was just a nice necklace. She was going to bet on nice necklace.
“Can I get you more of what you’re drinking?”
“Coke?” She looked down at her cup. “No, I’m still fine, thanks.”
“Coke? I like that. You’re cute.”
Miryam would take “cute.” It was a start. “Like a kitten?” She smiled at him over her cup.
“No…. no, more like a mink. I’m betting you have sharp teeth under the cuteness.”
“It’s part of my charm.” So this was what normal human flirting felt like. She’d almost forgotten.
“I bet.” He sipped his own drink, which she was willing to bet wasn’t just coke. “So what brings you to Virginia Beach? Your accent doesn’t sound native.”
“Oh, I’m from Ohio. Just needed a break after school, you know?”
“I hear ya. I’m a townie, myself. Got an apartment right off the beach. It’s a pretty awesome way to kill a couple years before college, you know?”
“Just hanging out?” Not doing anything? She tilted her head, curiously.
“Oh, I’ve got a job, and then a second job. I’m saving up for college, and stuff. But mostly I get to hang out on the beach, since my weekend job is lifguarding down there.” He tilted his head down the beach. “Pretty awesome, yeah?”
“Pretty awesome.” One little smile, two little smiles, wouldn’t hurt anything. A little whammy wouldn’t hook anyone. She was pretty sure.
“So you here alone?”
No, my stalkery addicted-to-me creep of a crewmate followed me here. “Yeah. Just relaxing.” She swayed her hips to the music by way of demonstration. “Hanging out, getting my groove on a bit.”
“You really are adorable.” He grabbed her hips and swung along with her. “Getting your groove on. That’s sweet. Want to come up to my place and get your groove on a little more?”
Not unless you know a birth control Working. “Maybe later.”
His hands tightened. “What about now?”
“Oh, we were having fun.” She pitched her voice mostly-disappointed. I expected better of you. “Let’s keep having fun.”
“Mmm. I want to have fun.” He leaned in to breathe against her neck. “I want to have fun with you. With you, in my apartment. Come with me? I’ll get you something better than soda.”
“I want to hang out on the beach. I want to hang out here and listen to music, and maybe do a midnight swim. You can guard my life, lifeguard. Or I can go find someone else to guard my butt.”
“Hey, hey. Easy, honey. I don’t mean any harm. I’m just playing around.” His hands on her hips squeezed tighter again, scooting her skirt up. “I can guard your body. And then we can go back to my place and we can have a little more fun?”
“No promises. Right now, I want to hang out.” She slipped out of his hands; Kendon had given her lots of practice. The trick was not to care if you lost the skirt. Someone could Jasfe it, if she really cared, if things got rough.
This one wanted to get rough. He held onto her skirt, trying to press her against him. But she didn’t owe him anything, and the skirt hooked at both hips with snaps. She left him holding two handfuls of green fabric.
“Easy, sweetie. Don’t freak out, okay?”
“I’m not freaking out.” She smiled brightly. “I’m perfectly calm.”
“You ripped your skirt.”
“You ripped my skirt.” It was a pity he was turning out to be such an asshole; he was still really attractive. “You’re the one that grabbed me.”
“Grabbed?” He laughed. “I wasn’t grabbing, I was just flirting, honey. You have a serious case of disproportionate response.”
“I stepped away from a grip I didn’t want from a stranger. I don’t think that’s disproportionate.” She tilted her head, still smiling. Smiling.
“You know, maybe I should talk to you when you’re not on the rag.”
“You could do that.”
“Christ, you’re a weird one.”
“…or you could talk to me when you’re feeling like less of an asshole.” She didn’t know where this bravery came from. Maybe the echo of Kendon in Agra in her mind, maybe the freedom of not having any collateral damage risk.
“So this is somehow my fault?” He took a threatening step towards her.
“Honey, I came here to listen to the music.”
“Repeat yourself much? Look, you led me on, I took it where you led.” He grabbed her hips again. “And now you’re half-naked. Why don’t we just go to my place and forget about this silly fight?”
“Do you have a listening problem?” Mir broke one of her core rules and let her voice get higher-pitched and louder. “Or are you just going to keep repeating yourself until I agree out of exhaustion?”
“Calm down, geez. Look, let’s just go have a little fun.” He was a foot taller than her – most of the world was at least a foot taller than her, including some children still in middle school. It was far too easy for him to pick her up. “We’re just going to go up to my place until you calm down. Someone must have put something in your drink, because you’re acting crazy.”
Miryam wasn’t panicking, yet, but it was getting close. She couldn’t use a Working out here on the beach. Smiling at this guy just seemed to spur him on. Once she got into his room, sure, she could do whatever she wanted to him and he probably wouldn’t assume magic. But that was in his room, and a hundred things could happen between here and there.
“The lady said she wanted to hang out on the beach. Be the one guy who listens to her this week.”
Agra stepped up next to them and dropped his hand on the jerk’s shoulder. Miryam glanced at Agra, then back at her jerk. “He’s got a point.”
“He should stay the fuck out of this.” The guy grabbed her tighter, and shrugged out of the way of Agra’s hands. Agravain didn’t look all that threatening, Miryam knew. He was slender, not all that built, with long, pretty blonde hair. “He’s not my type.”
“And you’re not mine. Put me down. I’m staying on the beach.”
“She doesn’t know what she’s saying. She’s gotten something bad in her drink, and I’m taking her home.” He said it to Agra as if he believed it. Maybe he did.
“She sounds like she knows what she wants, and it ain’t you, buddy . Let her go.” Agra didn’t look threatening, but there was a whole lot of Agra that didn’t show. He grabbed the guy’s shoulder again, and squeezed. “She’s not going home with you. She already said that.”
“I thought you were here alone… ow, fuck. What the hell, man? Everyone’s freaking out here.”
“What if she is? She wants to leave alone, she’s leaving alone. Put her down before we have to call an ambulance for you.”
“Ow, fuck, what are you, crazy? I told you, she’s not feeling well.”
“If you were hauling me around, I wouldn’t feel all that good, either. Let. The girl. Go.”
This time, the jerk dropped Mir. “Fuck. Crazy fag hag and her faggot boyfriend.” He stomped off, presumably to torment other people with his poor logic.
“You okay?” Agra helped Miryam up; she let him, loath to let go of his hand.
“I’m okay. He was just a garden-variety jerk.”
“Unlike Addergoole jerks, who are at least jungle-variety?” He let her claim on his hand stay.
“Heh. Yeah. Agra… thanks.”
“Hey.” He hugged her – but very briefly. “Whatever else happens between us, you’re crew.”
Sunday, July 4, 2004
The hill just outside the Village turned out to be the perfect place to watch the fireworks – and the Village turned out to have a spectacular fireworks show.
Ahouva leaned back against Basalt and pillowed her head on his chest. “This was a great idea.”
“I’m glad you approve.” He ran his hands up and down her arms, as, above, flowers blossomed in the night sky.
“Is that magic?” She gestured languidly upwards. “The fireworks.”
“If so, it’s just in the way they line up the powders. Professor Akatil really likes his fireworks the old-fashioned way.” He planted a kiss on her neck. “Says some things humans just do better than the fae.”
“Mmm. Nice to know we can do something right. I mean…” She twisted to smile up at him ruefully.
He kissed her nose. “I got it. We were raised human. Our brains are humans.”
“Yeah. Exactly. Which makes me think, I mean, isn’t Independence Day a human – American, even – holiday?”
“I guess. But, I mean, if you talk to a lot of the teachers, they were born human too, right? And I know Luke considers himself American.” He fell quiet. “If you see him, today, you can tell. There’s a lot of pride, there.”
“That’s…” Ahouva thought about that for a moment, as the firecrackers whizzed up into the sky. “That’s kind of neat, actually. It makes them more real.”
Basalt laughed. “I promise you, if you’ve ever been punched by Luke, you’d know he was real.”
“I think I’ll pass.” Somewhere in her womb, their son made agreement with that, while above them, the finale began to sparkle and pop. “Born human.” She thought about that for a while.
“Changed into something else, yeah. But with, I dunno, human cores?”
She twitched a hyena-ear at him… and laughed. “You’re a poet, my love.”
He looked pleased. Bits of mica in his skin reflected the light of the fireworks back at her. “I try.”
Addergoole: Year Nine updates every Wednesday evening EST. Want more?