August 17, 2015 by Lyn
For the second time in two weeks, Jamian woke up in a bed not his own, laying on his side on the slick silk sheets, with Ty’s lavender-and-leather scent in his nose, a hand carelessly flopped over him. This time, at least, he remembered how he’d gotten here; and this time, the horns and the tail were no surprise.
He twisted carefully in bed to look at Ty. He was sleeping soundly, the T-shirt and boxers Jamian had insisted he wear twisted up around his midriff, a devilish smile on his lips, his blonde curls falling rakishly in his face. Seen like this, it was hard to deny exactly what Ty was, with the tiny little breasts stretching the thin T-shirt, the flat stomach, the nighttime erection pushing against the boxers, and the pointed, elfin face that, when awake, switched genders so easily. Like this, Ty looked like someone permanently between genders. He wondered if he looked the same when he slept.
Well, no-one but Ty was likely to see that, were they? He was wide awake, and she looked like she could sleep for another couple hours, so he slipped out of bed as quietly as he could and slipped on his pants and a second layer of shirt.
Forgoing shoes, he slipped back into the central area of the suite. Maybe he could watch TV or something until she woke up. He hadn’t had a good chance to watch TV since he got here, although Sunday morning wasn’t the best time for it.
The couch, however, was already occupied: Nikita, munching on a bowl of Froot Loops and flipping channels. Jamian considered retreating back into Ty’s room, but Niki had already seen him.
“Morning,” he said, far more cheerfully than was normal for him, although his voice was pitched softly.
“Um… morning,” Jamian said cautiously, averting his eyes while trying not to. Niki was wearing plaid boxers and a thin black leather collar and, it appeared, nothing else.
“Help yourself to the cereal if you want. There’s lots in the cupboard, just don’t touch the corn flakes. Phelen’s already pissed at you.”
“Oh, um… thanks.” He’d nearly forgotten about Phelen. Being around Ty made everything else seem kind of unimportant. “So, how mad is he?”
“Phel is the kind of guy that doesn’t really let go of things, so he’s probably going to hold a grudge for a while.” Niki seemed inordinately pleased by that idea. “But he won’t do anything about it, because of Tya.”
“I could take him,” Jamian muttered, as he poured his Rice Krispies into a bowl he found in the dish drainer. “What’s his big deal, anyway?”
Niki laughed. “Chronic constipation. He’s got a rod jammed up his ass.”
Jamian choked on his cereal and managed to turn it into a laugh. “Oh, that’s priceless,” he grinned. As he chewed over his cereal, though, his mirth vanished. “Seriously, though, I can take care of myself. I don’t need to hide behind my-” Boyfriend. Girlfriend. “-date.” Knowing the words were absurd but needed the express the feeling behind them, he added, “I’m my own man.”
The boy just stared at him for a moment, long enough that he wondered if something was showing – other than, of course, the horns and tail. Finally, Niki said softly, in a little bit of awe, “Man, you really haven’t been told anything, have you?”
A retort was on his lips before he realized it was a lie. Well, technically, Ty had hinted at a couple things. Daeva. Callavanaei. A full-blooded Daeva, whatever that meant. And he really hadn’t asked any questions, either, accepting the horns and the tail the way he’d accepted his hermaphrodite girlfriend.
“What’s wrong with me?” he muttered to himself. At some point along the way, shouldn’t he have started to spazz?
He hadn’t been asking him, but Niki saw fit to answer anyway. “Addergoole’s wrong with you,” he said, sounding amused by the whole thing. “Come on, let’s take a walk and we’ll talk.”
Jamian eyed him distrustfully. Just when he’d gotten used to the self-satisfied spoiled-brat Niki, he went and changed again. “Why can’t we just talk here?”
Niki frowned a little, as if Jamian had caught him out, but his answer was facile and smooth. “They’ll sleep for another couple hours if we let them,” he answered, his gesture taking in the shut doors around the living room. “They did a lot of Working last night, and it takes a lot out of them. If we sit here and talk, though, we might wake them up.”
It sounded reasonable enough. “I’ll just go get my shoes, then,” Jamian said, standing up.
Niki shook his head nervously. “You’re fine. You don’t want to wake her up.”
He was acting awfully suspicious. Jamian frowned at him. “What’s going on, man?”
He made a little guilty-looking face. “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission, okay? I swear to you, I’m not trying to walk you into a trap. I just want to get out of here before someone tells me not to tell you.”
“Tya wouldn’t do that!” He said it without thinking, and then blinked, wondering if it was true. Niki smirked at him, as if he could read the thoughts on his face.
“I Belonged to her last year, remember? I know what she’s like.”
“That… that was different,” he stammered.
“It always is.” He shrugged. “It was different for Shiva than it was for me. But Tya likes her control, and she likes her secrets.” He stood, picking up clothes that must have been sitting on the couch, and shrugged into his tight t-shirt and pants. “She told you so much yesterday, didn’t she, even after Shiva threatened her?”
He bristled, not quite sure which part bothered him more. But… “No, she really didn’t.”
Niki walked over to the door. “She won’t. Trust me, I’ve been in your shoes.”
“Similar, maybe,” Jamian muttered. This could just a massive hoax on Nikita’s part, brought on by sour grapes and jealousy.
“Similar, yes,” he agreed. “You’ve already seen her magic surprise switchblade trick; I guess it doesn’t really bother you?” He opened the door as he talked.
“Not really,” Jamian answered defensively. Magic surprise switchblade trick. He wondered if Ty really could… not right now. He had to either follow Niki or let him leave.
Ty’s not going to like it if you leave. But why would he care? It’s not like he expected him to hang around and watch him sleep, was it? He walked towards the door, struggling against the squirming, uncomfortable feeling that he was doing something naughty and wrong.
Outside, the feelings intensified, and he almost darted back in the room before Niki shut the door. The boy took his arm, firmly, although Jamian was still sure he could have broken away if he wanted to. “It will get easier,” he said sympathetically. “Come on.”
He led Jamian, not releasing his arm, in silence for long enough that it began to be irritating. “Weren’t we going to talk?”
“We are,” he agreed, “but not here. If you start getting all angry, I want to be somewhere a little more private.”
Jamian glowered at him. “‘Getting all angry?’” he grumbled.
“Like that,” Niki grinned. “Getting your nose all bent out of shape. Here.” It was getting almost commonplace to see someone open a door where there was none; the only oddity was, he realized, that he thought of Niki as being an “underclassman,” like him. Still, he blinked as Niki pulled the door open onto a lush jungle.
“Yeah, it’s another entrance into Tya’s lagoon. Well, I think of it that way, at least. Watch out for the purple plants; they have thorns that can give you a nasty rash.”
Purple plants aside – and their thorns were well over an inch long – the artificial jungle was very nice. The concrete path was wide enough that they could walk without being brushed by the strange, often gigantic plants to either side, although they made a dense canopy over head; lights embedded in the concrete provided plenty of illumination. When they’d gotten far enough in that they couldn’t see the door, if it was even still there, they came across a set of benches in a small clearing. Niki sat down on one bench and gestured to the other bench. “How are you feeling?”
He shrugged, and then thought about it for a moment. “Better.” The twitchy feelings had settled a little bit, although he still had a slight urge to run back to Ty as soon as possible.
“Good. There’s a reason Tya likes to hide here. It’s calming. I think it might be in the walls.”
“In the walls?”
Niki shrugged uncomfortably. “Long story, and I don’t know how long we have. Or even where I need to start. Has Tya told you anything at all?”
He twitched again at the implied criticism, frowning at Niki. “Just because she broke up with you…”
“Woah, cowboy.” Niki smirked. “What do you know about what you are and what this place is?”
His tail thrashed agitatedly. It seemed to move without consulting him first, wandering all over the place if he wasn’t paying attention to it. “I… nothing. Nothing except that I’m a pure-blooded Daeva.”
“Which anyone could see,” Niki pointed out.
“Yeah, anyone,” Jamian snorted. “Because this is normal.”
Niki smirked at him wider. “Down here, it is. Listen, Phelen may have sounded fairly extreme yesterday, but he had a couple of valid points which you need to keep in mind.”
“What, it’s okay to abduct girls just because you can’t get a date?”
“Yes, of course, that’s just what I meant. Could you try to get your head out of your ass and listen to me?”
He glowered at him angrily, but stopped arguing. “I’m listening.”
“Good. This is important. Different rules apply down here – don’t give me that,” he cut off Jamian’s next interjection, “you already know it’s true anyway. Yes, no-one looks sideways at horns and tails and wings and vines in your hair. But that’s merely a side effect. The real issue is that different natural laws apply. Gravity still holds you down, magnets still repel each other, and so on, but there are laws that didn’t bother us when we were young and human up there.”
Niki nodded. “Laws,” he confirmed. “More like natural laws than anything instituted by the government. These people don’t really have a government, per se.”
“‘These people?’” He was beginning to feel like a parrot.
Niki chuckled at him condescendingly. “These people, Jamian. The fae, the Ellehemaei. The people with tails and pointed ears?”
Jamian blushed, flustered. “Oh. Those people. So they don’t have any government, but they do have laws?”
Niki nodded patiently. “Not legislation, but the world simply affects them differently.” He seemed to be struggling for an example. “Have you heard the old myths about faeries? How iron would burn them?”
Jamian nodded. “I think I read that in a fairy tale somewhere.” He’d had nightmares of red-hot pokers for a week after that.
“Right. Well, that’s a case of the natural laws being different for those faeries, right? Iron doesn’t burn humans. It does burn those faeries.”
“Don’t worry, you don’t need to start avoiding horseshoes and cemetery fences. Iron doesn’t hurt us – Ellehemaei – at least as far as I know. Rowan and hawthorn, on the other hand…”
“The herbs? What, are we allergic?”
“Yes, the herbs, genius,” he sneered. “They’re trees. And to Ellehemaei, they burn and poison us.”
His hackles up again, Jamian glared at him. “Now you’re just fucking with me. A tree can burn us?”
“Usually it’s a branch of the tree, but, more or less, yes. No-one’s really sure why, or, at least, no-one will tell me why, but it’s one of the absolutely certain ways to kill one of our kind.”
“…oh,” he said quietly. “Well, can any other mundane plant life suddenly kill me?”
“Not as far as I know. On the plus side,” he grinned slyly, “you’re not going to get old. At least, not quickly.”
“Wait, what?” He’d been looking around at the giant plants surrounding them, wondering if any of them were rowan or hawthorn, wondering how he could test this idea without getting poisoned, if it were true, or at the very least getting a nasty splinter; he turned back to Niki, sure he hadn’t heard him right.
“We age slowly, if at all. If you’re really a pure-blooded Daeva, you probably will have even more control of it in the long run.”
Jamian stared at him. “You can’t be telling me,” he said, the words sounding absurd to his ears, “that we’re immortal fairies.”
“Maybe you are,” Niki snickered. “I’m straight.”
Before Jamian could come up with anything resembling a response that didn’t involve flattening Niki’s face or bringing up the fact that Jamian was dating Niki’s ex-something, voices cut across the soft noises of the grotto.
“I’m telling you, man, the funny-looking pink leaves on the plant with the melon-like things. Dry them out, cut out the center vein, and smoke the rest of it. Best high ever.”
Some things were the same everywhere. Jamian glanced over Niki’s shoulder, where a magenta vine sporting long, white squash and hand-like pastel-pink leaves twisted wildly over a trellis; a violet flower hung right over Niki’s head, crowning him absurdly.
“Isn’t the stuff in here supposed to be off-limits?” The second voice sounded doubtful, and, perhaps more importantly, sounded closer.
“Relax. No-one ever comes in here except me.”
Jamian met Niki’s eyes; the voices were too close now to escape. Niki shrugged, seemingly unconcerned.
“And them, looks like,” the second voice pointed out, as the speakers came into sight.
The guy in the front looked too elegant to fit with the stoner voice of the first speaker; he wore a long, tight coat buttoned up to his neck and black leather gloves over a tall, angular frame; his hair was sleek, straight, long, and mauve, framing his face with two narrow, complicated braids. Only his green eyes held the hazy twitchiness Jamian associated with druggies and drunks.
The guy behind him was shorter by virtue of being a normal human height, though still taller than Jamian or Niki. His sunflower-yellow hair stuck out all over his head, gelled into spikes of seemingly random size and placement. What Jamian had first thought to be freckles or streaks of dirt seemed to be long raised stripes above and below both eyes.
“Them.” Mr. Elegant stepped out of the way to let Mr. Spiky see Jamian and Niki.
“Ooh,” Mr. Spiky drawled, grinning at them in a way that seemed smarmy and creepy and coincidentally (sure) showed off the baleen-like mess he had in place of teeth. “Kept bois, off the leash.” He moved around Mr. Elegant, nearly sliding across the floor, stopping between the two of them. His hair seemed to wriggle on its own as he looked back and forth between them, back and forth.
His left hand darted out and hooked Niki by the collar. “Who do you belong to, pretty boy?” he asked, almost purring. Jamian, stepping forward to defend him, found himself caught by Mr. Elegant’s arm.
The change in Niki was startling. His chin went down, his shoulders slumped forward, and his voice changed in pitch. “Shiva cy’Mendosa owns me,” he told him, looking at his toes and not even trying to get out of Mr. Spiky’s grip, “and Tya cy’VanderLinden owns him.”
What?! What the hell was Niki up to? Jamian struggled against Mr. Elegant’s grip, only to find himself suddenly released. “Ty cy’VanderLinden?” he frowned. “Uberto, isn’t that the Second Cohort who…”
“Yeah, so? Let it bring it.” But he released Niki’s collar, nonetheless. “What’s it gonna do, anyway?”
It. Jamian wanted to smash the smug look off of Uberto’s face, but Niki had grabbed his arm.
“You know what it can do,” Mr. Elegant countered. “We don’t want a war with Shiva’s crew anyway, do we? Delaney gets us in enough trouble as it is.”
And again, it. But Niki was tugging him backwards while the two of them argued.
“Delaney’s mellow this year, man, we haven’t even had a rumble. I think she’s domesticated or something.”
“Give it time, Über. It’s only the second week of school.”
They were out of sight by that point; as Uberto countered with “Screw give it time. Let’s make some trouble now,” they were at the door.
“Run,” Niki suggested in a whisper, and, since he was still holding Jamian’s arm in a death grip, he really had no choice but to go along with the plan.
Back in the suite a moment later, he tried to manage a glare through panting chuckles. “I don’t ‘belong’ to anyone, you know,” he told him; “I’m not really into that.”
Niki, grimacing, glanced at the bedroom doors. Finding them all still closed, he murmured “Did you say the words?”
“The words?” Jamian repeated, with an answering frown.
“Did you say you belonged to her? Or that you were hers?”
Say you’ll be mine forever.
“Oh.” He swallowed. “Yeah. I said I’d be hers.” Forever.
“Then you Belong to her.”