August 28, 2013 by Lyn
“Are you sure you don’t want to go home for a while?” Basalt rested his hand on Ahouva’s round stomach. “It’s not like your mom can yell at you for this.”
“My parents will yell at me for anything they feel like. Even if they did set me up for it. Besides…” She shrugged. “If Dr. Caitrin is right – and I kind of think she is – only one of my parents is my parent, anyway. Dad’s real. Mom’s… not part of the project, I guess.”
“You think she doesn’t know?”
“Well, do both of your folks know?”
“I’ve only got my dad, and, yeah. He knows. We talked about the collar, after my first year.” He propped himself up on an elbow to look at her; they were sitting out in the meadow, under an apple tree, on a blanket he’d provided. “Hey. We could go visit my dad for a while. I mean…” His sudden puppy-happiness faded just as quickly as it had come. “I mean, if you want to. If the peanut is okay with a road trip.”
“The peanut should be fine with any road trip that has bathroom breaks. Dr. Caitrin says I’m doing fine. But… would your dad want to see me?”
“Are you kidding? My dad would love to see you. And, I mean… well, that’s wh… I’m bad at people.” He kissed her gently.
“You’re fine, Basalt. You’ve been all weird since you took the collar off.”
“No I haven’t… have I?”
“You have.” She kissed both of his cheeks, because she could. “Like you’re waiting for me to not be there or something. Or like you’re really not sure what to do with me when you’re not totally in charge.”
“Wellll, both of those are fair, I guess.” He sighed, and kissed her cheeks, mirroring her gesture. “I’m not really sure you’ll stick around. Most people don’t, when the collar comes off. I didn’t.”
“Well, do you want me to leave?”
“What? No! I like you.” He caressed her back. “I like you a lot. It’s just, it’s just not how things go around here. And it’s not like we can plan for the future all that well.”
He had a point. She sighed, and kissed his cheeks again. If she was kissing him, she didn’t have to be talking. “We can plan for the future.”
“But the future is going to involve me graduating a year before you.” He sounded horribly hang-dog about the whole thing.
“So? So you go off to college a year before me. That doesn’t mean we can’t talk about what that means.”
“Addergoole messes with everything.”
“Of course it does.” She took a breath. “Darn it, Basalt, if you’re going to make me be the reasonable, calm, thoughtful, responsible one, then you ought to let me collar you.”
There was silence for a while. Basalt looked at her, closed his eyes, and then opened first one eye and then the other. “You…” He closed his mouth and opened it again. “Me…”
Ahouva fought not to flinch. She wasn’t scared of Basalt. She wasn’t. No. She’d had months with him. She wasn’t collared anymore. She wasn’t scared. She wasn’t. There wasn’t a “wrong thing to say” when you weren’t collared. Right?
He kept making fish faces at her, and, finally, just as she was going to give in and apologize, he laughed. “Sorry. Sorry, that was stupid.”
“I’m sorry. I know it was a dumb question-”
“No, no.” Basalt cut her off, actually put a hand over her mouth. “No, you were fine. It’s reasonable. I’m, hell, I’m half acting like it anyway, trying not to scare you away. I was being stupid.” He smirked. “I’m better at being stupid than you are, anyway.”
“Mmmf?” She tried to hold onto his wrist, but it was bigger than her hand’s reach. “Mmf?”
“Sorry.” He moved his hand. “What were you saying?”
“You’re not stupid, and I wish you’d stop saying that. And it wasn’t a stupid reaction. I mean, the collar…” She touched her throat. “I can’t blame you for sputtering.”
“I didn’t really have a bad time of it, when I was collared.” He shrugged. “But I know… well. Would you ever go under the collar again?”
“No, no! Well… probably not?” She touched her throat. “It would have to be exactly the right situation and the right reasons. That’s why I shouldn’t have asked you to.”
“Heh. I didn’t even ask you, I just eviscerated the Keeper you had. It’s a fair question.” His hand went up to mirror her gesture, touching her neck. “Give me a day to think about it?”
It had been a joke. But it was tempting. “Sure.”
This was written to Rix’s donation and request for more Basalt and Ahouva.
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