August 20, 2015 by Lyn
A little bit insecure
A little unconfident
‘Cause you don’t understand
I do what I can
But sometimes I don’t make sense
Jamian stumbled blindly from Professor VanderLinden’s office, trying to make sense of everything the professor had told him. Everything Ty had somehow neglected to tell him.
“Coming to dinner?” Speak of the devil, Ty appeared at his side. He looked repentant and cautious, but Jamian was in no mood to be generous or forgiving. He kept walking.
“I’m not hungry.” It was a lie; he’d skipped lunch and his stomach was growling. He’d figure something out.
“You’re mad at me.” Ty kept up easily with Jamian; without running, he wasn’t getting away. He stopped instead, grateful this portion of the hall was empty, and glared at Ty.
“Everyone knows,” he spat. “You told me you’d keep my secret, and here it is waving in everyone’s face. Complete strangers know!” He thrashed his tail for emphasis, the damned thing that told everyone what he was, and plowed on. “And everyone knows I’m your ‘pet,’” he spat the word, trying to make it sound as dirty as it felt, “that I ‘belong to you,’ which is just great, since apparently this means something to everyone here. I just thought we were dating. I didn’t know it came with a bill of sale.”
Ignore for the moment that “dating” in and of itself was terrifying, that dating someone who changed genders at will outed him as easily as this stupid tail did. No-one here seemed to care if he was gay. Considering the giggles and rumors he’d heard about VanderLinden…
Shit. “And now everyone probably thinks I’m fucking the Lit professor, too!” he added angrily.
“Are you?” Ty’s voice sounded strained – was he jealous? How absurd was that from the guy that lived with his ex-girlfriend and his ex-boyfriend? Not to mention the absolute absurdity that he actually might think Jamian was sleeping with a teacher.
“Of course I’m not!” He shook his head, more than a little astonished at the question. “Ty…” He dropped his voice to a near-whisper. “I can’t handle the idea of being naked with you, and we’re… dating, or something. Do you really think I could manage that with a teacher? Practically a stranger?
“Although,” he added in a fit of pique, “at least Professor VanderLinden tells me things. Then again… so did Melchior.”
Ty’s face twisted angrily. Jamian braced for his anger, suddenly afraid he’d gone too far.
“You…” Ty swallowed, and shook his head. “You’re right,” he said humbly. “Once you’d gone through the Becoming, I should have told you. I’m sorry. But,” he continued, while Jamian gaped, “Jame’, you have to understand, please. When I met you – I didn’t know you were going to Change into a full-blooded Daeva. No-one in school history has been a true Breed. I thought you were going to be like me, all the toys, none of the upgrades.”
He sounded tired and a little bitter. Jamian fought down the urge to pat his shoulder and tell him it was okay. After all, it really wasn’t okay yet.
“So I meant it, when I said I’d keep your secret. But then you sprouted horns and a tail, and, well…”
“What? You forgot?”
“I was kind of hoping VanderLinden would tell you.” He had the grace to look at least a little ashamed. “I thought you might ask him. Please don’t be angry.”
Jamian sighed. “I didn’t really have enough room to myself to think about it. I’ve kind of been floating for the last week or so.” He frowned at Ty, realizing he was no longer angry, realizing he still wanted to be angry. “You’re doing that, aren’t you?” Ty looked innocent and perplexed – was he wrong? It seemed pretty outlandish that Ty could just –
– just say “hush” and he’d find himself hushed, unwilling or unable to speak. Just say “Wait right there,” and he would be unable to cross the room. Just say “don’t be angry,” and he wouldn’t be angry anymore.
He could still be sick, though. Sick was different than angry. He swallowed hard, hoping Ty could see the disgust on his face. “Is that what ‘Belonging’ is all about? I thought you liked me. I thought you just wanted to date.”
“I do like you,” Ty said earnestly, “Jame’, I really do like you. You’re sweet and you’re innocent and you’re just a really nice guy, and I like that about you. And I do want to date you. But Belonging is just… just Addergoole’s answer to dating.”
“Dating.” He still couldn’t work up a good angry, but he frowned anyway. “I’ve never tried it, but I don’t remember it involving that much blind forced obedience. This is more like slavery.”
Ty winced. “Please don’t say that.”
“All right.” He didn’t have a choice anyway, did he? “Then what would you call it?”
“I…” Ty gulped and shook his head. “Can we take this conversation out of the hallway, please? My room, your room? The grotto?”
Jamian examined himself mentally and found no pressing urge to go along with Ty’s wishes. Maybe that hadn’t counted as a command to whatever power was forcing obedience.
“Why do I have the overwhelming urge to do what you tell me to?”
Ty looked even more uncomfortable, as if, Jamian thought uncharitably, he really had to go to the bathroom. “Belonging is one of the core Laws of um, our people.”
“Faeries. Immortal faeries.” He dug for the word Nikita had used. “Ellehemaei.”
“Ellehemaei, yes,” Ty said, hurriedly, not really listening. “Shenera Endraae, those of us who are obedient to the Law.”
“There’s a choice?“
Ty ducked his head, looking more and more miserable. “Jame’- Jamian – please, can we go somewhere private with this? Please?”
He could be ordering it, and he was still saying please. Jamian relented. “Okay. Let’s go to my room.” He tried to ignore how good it felt to see Ty relax and look happy again.
“Look,” Ty muttered softly as they walked, as if he didn’t want to be overheard in the mostly-empty hallways, “the Laws are what make us what we are, what make us the good guys.”
“Good guys?” Jamian stared at him. “You call ensl… fuck… forcing obedience on your date being the ‘good guys?’”
“Compared to what the bad guys do, yes.” He hadn’t even flinched. “And I don’t think I’m that bad, really.” He smiled ruefully. “I’ve seen people do a lot worse, here, even. And I’m learning. I’m trying, at least,” he added rather hurriedly, “I am. Sometimes I just need a kick in the head.”
“Is that my job?” The idea had its merits, but he wasn’t sure – “Can I even do that? Being… Belonging to you?”
Ty hesitated. “We’re almost to your room.”
They were, but why did it matter? He waited the ten steps it took to get there, and then let himself in, Ty following close on his heels. “Why all the secrecy?” he asked, more than a little cranky. “Are you ashamed of me, all of a sudden?”
Ty shook his head fast and emphatically. “No, no, gods no, Jamian. Anyone in this school would be proud to have you as their boyfriend – and not just because you’re Daeva. You’re just a nice guy, Jame’.”
“A nice thing, you mean.” He couldn’t help the bitter nastiness in his voice, but he regretted it the moment it was out.
“No.” It elicited another firm headshake. “Right now, you think of yourself as a guy, so you’re a guy. It’s how we work, at least around other Ellehemaei. My, uh, maternal parent is like I am,” he added shyly, “like you grew up. It’s why this is easy for me, why sometimes I forget that it’s not easy for normal people.”
“Normal people?” He sagged against his bed, unsure how he felt to have Ty here in his private sanctum, his personal mess. “Since when am I normal people?”
Ty laughed humorlessly. “You think like a normal person, you act like a normal person. Everything you do is just… being a normal person with a secret to hide. You had an ordinary normal-teenaged childhood and did ordinary things… and then you were thrown here against your will. Me, I was born here.”
“That’s why you think these laws are all right, that they make you the good guy.”
Ty winced. “I’m going to try not to order you to do things, okay? I guess it just comes off my tongue really easily.” Even now, he was sliding a suggestion of innuendo into his words, glancing slyly over to see if Jamian was thinking about what else might slide off Ty’s agile tongue and… and yes, yes he was, blushing and trying not to, torn between embarrassment and desire and the last stubborn vestiges of anger.
Ty bit his lip. “It’s easy for me, I mean, to just be bossy. But I guess that’s not something you’re going to be comfortable with.”
“Not really, no.” Even if he was fighting an urge to say whatever you want me to be comfortable with. I’ll do whatever it is you want.
Ty nodded. “So I’ll try. But, Jamian, please, please, when you’re talking about the Laws, please be careful. The Laws are – well, there’s more at stake, here, than a school, more important things going on than two kids’ romantic problems.”
Romantic. He gulped, and nodded slowly, trying to show he understood, even though he didn’t. Ty kept going in an earnest near-whisper.
“There is an entire culture, call it a shadow-society, thousands of years old, behind these Laws. There are Ellehemaei all over the world, and every one of the Shenera Endraae obey the Laws. It’s not a decision – the Laws enforce themselves.”
“Natural laws,” Jamian cut in. So that’s what Niki had been talking about. “Like rowan and hawthorn.”
Ty looked at him sharply. “Sort of, yes. Who’s… never mind. Um, there is no Law about the rowan and hawthorn, but there’s no Law that says we live longer than a human lifespan, either, or that we’re really, really hard to kill otherwise.”
“Okay,” he said, still not sure where this was going.
“I just don’t want you to get in trouble for saying things that you don’t mean. Because I’m going to tell you about the Laws, and there’s a good chance you’re going to hate them, and hate me. And I can’t bear the thought of you hating me, but what would be worse is if you said the wrong thing about the Laws to the wrong person, a teacher or even an older student, and they took it the wrong way. Because to be outside of the Laws and Ellehemaei is to be a monster.”
“So, you’re going to tell me about the laws that allow you to tell me what to do, and if I hate them too loudly, people are going to…” He could read the results in Ty’s face. “They’re going to hunt me down. Attack me. Maybe kill me.” A single nod.
“Wonderful.” He sank back onto his bed and mustered up a sick smile. “Well, at least you’re telling me something.”