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August 5, 2016 by Lyn

Christmas Break, Year Five of the Addergoole School

Ty had given Jamian a choice. By this point, he’d learned how rare that really was, to be given clear-cut choices. It hadn’t made the decision all that much easier; in the end, what had decided him was the fear that he’d be sitting at the dinner table and switch from “him” to “her” in front of his stepfather. He wasn’t sure whether Charlie would have a heart attack or just murder him, but either way, it would end badly. At least if he swapped in front of a bunch of strangers, the lynch mob that killed him would be nothing personal.

He tried not to think too hard about the part of him that couldn’t stand to be away from Ty. He tried not to think that “choice” was a stupid thing to offer when the bond was leaning so heavily on everything he did. Ty didn’t like it when he thought that way.

So, given the choice-that-really-was-a-choice-really between heading home for the holidays, spending it at Addergoole with many of the other students, or going to a ski resort with the crew, he’d decided to go hang out with the crew and relearn skiing.

It was turning out to be a lot of fun, too, far more than he’d expected. She’d expected: Ty had suggested that she might want to try out being Jaya in a public setting, and there was something fun about playing ski bunny where no-one was likely to jump her randomly. She made, she was beginning to learn, a pretty attractive girl.

“Hey, girlyman!” The voice made her jump. She’d heard guys like that in school (he had, but she was holding tight to Jaya, didn’t want to switch in the middle of the ski lodge), usually just before things erupted into a fight. But she wasn’t being Jamian right now, wasn’t looking anything like a girly-man. So…

“C’mon, pussies, are you just gonna sit there looking pretty all day?” Over there. Some strangers getting taunted by the locals… no, not strangers. She recognized the jacket, totally inappropriate to the ski slopes. Damn. Niki would just make things worse, left on his own; yep, she could hear the low murmur he used when he thought he was being clever. And Anwell had no more spine than a jellyfish and less venom. She crossed the lodge as quickly as she could.

She almost wasn’t fast enough. The bully in front – there were two of them, big farmboy types – was just shifting posture to punch the smug look off of Nikita’s too-pretty face. While she could really sympathize with the desire, she wasn’t gonna let someone do it just because his face offended them.

She skidded to a halt in between them, and had the pleasure of watching the bully’s face twist as he stopped a punch in the nick of time. There were a few advantages to this whole being a girl thing. “Woah, boys.”

Of course, now that they’d decided not to hit her, she was going to have to turn right around and change their minds about that. She couldn’t just haul off and slug them without provocation.

Luckily, they looked easy to provoke. “Hey, sweetie, be right with you.” The front man grinned as if he thought he was clever.

“Yeah, right. Look, you look like nice enough guys,” well, they did, really. But assholes like this often did, “but I don’t really think my friends are your type.”

Yeah, that was gonna do it. She could taste the swirl of their emotions: indignation, then confusion, then anger, as her suggestion hit home.

“What?” was all he managed. His friend’s snigger didn’t help matters, though.

Jaya laid it out patiently. “You’re cute. But I don’t think you want my guys here. They’re not really your type, are they? You need a nice, big man to cuddle…”

His surge of indignant rage gave her warning that the strike was coming, but she didn’t try to dodge it, just stepped aside a bit so that it didn’t catch her as hard. “Did you see that, Nick?” she asked, grinning. She could fix the stinging pain in her jaw later.

If nothing else, the obnoxious little bitch knew a cue when he heard one. “I did, JJ. Totally unprovoked brutality.” Somewhere behind both of them, Anwell coughed out a surprised laugh. Good; he was still alive. Hard to tell with him sometimes.

“Good. That means anything I do can be considered self-defense.” Totally wouldn’t hold up in court, but they didn’t have to know that.

Nor were they worried. “Come on,” the big guy scoffed. “Do your worst.”

Oh, that was the line she’d been waiting for. He wasn’t all that much taller than her (she was tall for a girl; she liked it that way and it was easier than remembering which clothes were for which gender), and she was wearing heeled boots; she landed a solid punch on his nose while he was still laughing at the idea.

His nose broke with a nice satisfying crunch, and he folded up around his face with a startled yelp. “Fuck, ow, fuck, you fucking bitch!”

“Pussy,” she smirked gleefully. “Come on, guys, let’s get out of here.”


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