August 6, 2016 by Lyn
This story takes place on St. Patrick’s Day on the 5th year of the Addergoole school.
“Well.” Yngvi looked around the pod at the stocked-in supplies.
“Well,” Ayla agreed, taking off her apron and throwing it into her room. “I think we have enough.”
“Did you invite the entire school or the entire state?” he joked, studying the stacks of green muffins and the interesting-and-yet-appetizing-smelling green pizza.
“In this place, that’s practically the same thing. But neither, just maybe twenty people.” She smiled, and stole a green cookie from the stack. “What’s wrong, big brother? Same old same old?”
“You make it sound like a chronic condition,” Yngvi complained, but his heard wasn’t in it. Which was, of course, the problem.
Ayla just laughed. “Come on, you know it is, for both of us. Here comes Io, quick, hide the booze,” she joked, as her girlfriend rounded the corner, carrying another plate of green goodies.
“Hurmph,” her girlfriend mock-grumped. “See how you like it when you end up pregnant, Miss hide-the-booze.”
“Then you can torment me endlessly,” Ayla agreed, not looking like she minded the teasing – or the concept – at all. As much as he wanted to be jealous, Yngvi smiled. Ioanna was good for his little sister.
“And speaking of babies,” the girlfriend in question murmured, “here comes my baby’s daddy.” They could hear his footsteps, no matter how softly he tried to walk or how well-muffled the floor was.
“I heard there was a party?” he boomed softly from one end of the pod, just as Elfred and Wren popped in from the other side.
“We brought cake!” Wren announced proudly, holding up a green-frosted three-tier confection.
“I’m going to gain fifty pounds,” Yngvi mock-complained. He swiped a muffin so Ayla would know he wasn’t serious, and watched Anatoliy’s uncomfortable dance around Io. He was still wearing that collar. That had to be… strange, to say the least, and uncomfortable. Vi didn’t think he could ever bring himself to Belong to someone else, not the way Shahin had, or Tolly… or Aneislis, though he tried not to think about that much.
“Deep thoughts?” Wren teased gently. “Here, have a bacon-wrapped-thingy.” She popped said thingy in his mouth before he could complain and, for a moment, Yngvi was in startled culinary bliss.
“Wren,” he announced when he could talk again, “you are a genius.”
“I know,” she grinned happily. “Elfred tells me that all the time.” She was wearing a collar, too, he noticed, a discrete band under the neckline of her shirt. He’d heard something about that – she’d talked Elfred into Owning her, rather than the other way around. He still didn’t understand it.
“So, uh, yeah, uh…” Tolly’s nervous stammering brought Vi’s attention back to him. “How’s…”
Vi frowned. The poor boy could barely talk. “I believe,” he translated gently, “that Anatoliy is trying to ask how you and the baby are doing.”
Tolly nodded his head up and down quickly. Sighing, Yngvi reached for the power he was only beginning to understand. “I don’t think, Tolly,” he said gently, “that Io minds you asking after her. It’s safe to ask.”
“Oh.” The big man took a deep breath. Looking down at Io, he offered her one of his giant hands. “How are you doing? How is…”
To Yngvi’s eternal relief, Ioanna proved capable of taking it from there. She set her hand in Tolly’s gently. “I’m doing fine. The little peanut is doing fine. Do you want to – you can’t really feel her yet, but you can try?”
Yngvi wandered away to Tolly’s stammered “I’d love to,” glad that had worked out all right. He still wasn’t entirely certain what Shahin had been up to, or how it had ended up with Ayla’s girlfriend pregnant, but he was glad everyone could manage a smile about it, at least.
He got himself a beer and a couple more cookies, and found a spot on the couch. The party was filling up, the music was playing, and people were happy. It seemed like a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day, for the messed-up climate that was Addergoole. Almost everyone was paired up or, in some cases, tripled up. They were cuddling, smiling, happy together…
“Hi!” The slender blonde imp, Joff, plopped down on one side of Yngvi, hip pressed against Vi’s, just as, on his other side, someone else sat down, hemming him in. Yngvi whipped his head to his left, narrowly missing gouging Anwell with a horn.
He pulled back, and hurried to get rid of the scowl. Was he destined to be surrounded by everyone skittish and victimized tonight?
“You looked lonely,” Joff informed him cheerfully. “And your couch was empty. Besides,” he continued, more quietly, “nobody will bother us if we’re with you.”
“Aaah,” he smiled drolly. “I make a good shield. That’s quite all right.”
Joff gave him a thoughtful look that seemed to peel right through his facade. “You could make more than that, you know, if you wanted. For either of us.”
“Ah,” he stuttered, suddenly at as much of a loss as poor Tolly had been. “I… you have a boyfriend. And a girlfriend, don’t you?”
“Renata’s busily sucking up every bit of Rafe’s attention right now, and she’s pregnant with twins, so I don’t mind,” Joff shrugged. “Ynvgi… we’re both cy’Linden, Anwell and I. It doesn’t have to be happily ever after…”
On the other side of him, Anwell nodded. “It could just be happily for now.”
“Aah,” Yngvi joked, to buy himself a little thinking room. “My own personal fairy tale.”
“Your own personal faery tail,” Joff agreed, grinning. “Cheers.”