August 1, 2016 by Lyn
mid-June in the Third Year of the Addergoole School.
The last day of classes at Addergoole was no more focused than the last day anywhere else. Shiva bounced through her classes, thinking about summer vacation, pondering how she was going to manage just about anything when seven, eight, nine months pregnant, wondering what her mother was going to say. They’d told her that her mother had known what she was doing, sending Shiva to this place, but it was one thing to be told that, and another to have to go home and explain how she’d totally failed on the birth control thing and oh, by the way, here’s my sometimes-girlfriend sometimes-boyfriend Owner and yeah, s/he’s the one that got me pregnant, please don’t shoot him, I kinda like him.
She shied away, without even noticing she was doing it, from the question of whether Ty would even want to come with her, or whether Ty would let her go home. Callista had mentioned, in passing, that Ib wasn’t letting her go home, but Ty wasn’t Ib. Ty was absent and neglectful and pushy, but Ty wasn’t mean. He’d let her go home… wouldn’t he? She doodled uncertainly in her notebooks and thought about home, not noticing how much her thoughts were being gently shifted to other things – the creek in the Village, the superior birthing facilities Caitrin could offer, the warmth and comfort of her Owner’s arms.
By the time she got back to Ty’s room late that evening, she was thinking of nothing more than spending the summer in the Village, with Ty and DJ, some time with Mies, maybe, and the rest of Ty’s extended family. They could play in the creek and the pool, and Caitrin would be good for the baby, better than a human hospital…
Her brain came to a screeching halt when she found Ty packing a suitcase.
“What…” she managed, leaning heavily against the door.
“Oh, I thought I mentioned it,” Ty answered blithely. “I’m going to Hawaii for a couple weeks with DJ and its latest… friend.”
“What about me?” she asked, before she could find a less-pitiful way to voice it.
“What about you? Oh, shit, sorry, I totally forgot. Hold still.”
Totally forgot? Was there a gift? A ticket to Hawaii? A kiss good-bye? She held still, hating the way the orders wrapped around her brain, while her Owner walked over to her, reached around behind her… and took off her collar.
“I release you, Shiva cy’Mendosa.”
“What?” She stared into Ty’s blue eyes. “No, you don’t!”
“What?” Ty blinked at her. “Yes, I do.” He wasn’t happy with her. She hated it when he was mad at her. When he made that little frown that said she’d disappointed him once again, and his voice got all flat and not-fun. She didn’t want to make him unhappy.
She didn’t want him to go away, either. She hugged him fiercely, knowing that she was stronger than him. She’d been training, after all, mostly in secret (it didn’t take much to keep secrets from Ty; mostly he just didn’t ask anything and she didn’t tell him). She was getting pretty tough, even as impeded by her pregnancy as she was.
Of course, she was tough and crying her eyes out. “You can’t leave me. I won’t let you. Gods, please don’t leave. I’ll be good. I’ll do what you want.” She hated the words coming out of her mouth but couldn’t seem to make them stop. “Please? Please, Tya-mia? I’ll be good.”
Ty looked at her, those blue eyes cold and uncomfortable. “Shiva, Shiva, shh. It’s okay. We can still be everything you want, but I can’t Keep you for another year. It’s just not done.”
“Ib-” but he’d shushed her, and that was all that came out. She nodded mutely, hating the feeling, hating the inevitability and her own helplessness. What had she done wrong? What had she fucked up this time?
“I release you, Shiva,” Ty repeated. He wasn’t going to let her get away with staying, was he? Slowly, she lowered her arms, nodded. He released her. What the hell did that mean?
It hit her, then, like a mack truck, the bond breaking, ripping through her, tearing out emotions she thought were real, leaving emptiness in its wake. He’d… and he’d… and then he’d… She stared at the boy who had Owned her for the entire school year, swallowing the urge to slap him. It wouldn’t do any good.
“I’ll get my stuff, then,” she said quietly. “You have a good vacation.”
And now it was his turn to look as if she’d slapped him. “Shiva, you don’t have to go,” he protested. “Not right away, not… I can’t keep you, but we can still…”
“I know you, Ty,” she said, struggling to keep her voice level, and losing the battle, a sob escaping. “We don’t have to live together for that. Hell, I’ve seen you. We don’t even need a bed for that.”
“That’s not what I meant!” he protested weakly. “We don’t have to break up.”
She stared at him in awe and horror, then turned back to her packing. “You just broke up with me. You just released me, for no good reason. ‘It’s the end of the year’ is not a good reason,” she continued, plowing over his objection, her voice rising. ‘I’m going on vacation’ is a flat out shitty reason. You’re one of those assholes that leaves cats behind when you move, aren’t you?” She glared at him angrily for a moment, teeth bared and ears flat. “You don’t get to trick me into being your property, then dump me on the side of the road, and then go all ‘we can still date.’ You don’t date people, Ty, you own them.”
He blinked at her. “Don’t you think you’re being a little unreasonable?” he coaxed. “I mean, we had a good time together. Who’s to say we can’t still have a good time, without the collar. I didn’t want to let you go, but it’s really gauche to Keep someone longer than a year.”
She wrinkled her nose angrily at him. “Screw gauche. If you wanted to date me, you could have dated me from day one. You wanted a pet, and now you’re done with this one.”
“Shiva…” He had that Male voice on, which always pissed her off more from him than from a genuine guy. She bared her teeth at him angrily.
“Fuck, yes, I’m being unreasonably. Try being Owned some day and tell me you don’t have whiplash when you’re let go. Try being nearly seven months pregnant and having your boyfriend dump you. Goddamnit, Ty, just for once look beyond yourself!” In childish pique that she knew was childish, she threw a shirt at him – one he’d liked on her far more than she’d liked it on herself. “Go on your fucking vacation. When you get back, we can talk.”
“Shiva…” He stepped towards her. “I knew you wouldn’t be happy being leashed forever…”
“But you like to have control.” She nodded, slowly, and went back to packing, sorting out Shiva Clothes from Clothes Ty Likes to See On Shiva. “I know that about you. It’s pretty obvious.” She tossed the last of her stuff in a bag, wondering at how light a load it seemed. She’d need to buy more clothes she actually liked. And baby stuff. Ty had told her not to worry about that, but now – well, now she could worry all she wanted.
“Well, yeah. Doesn’t everyone?” Ty folded the clothes in the discard pile and started putting them into Shiva’s suitcase, oblivious, as always.
“Yes.” She didn’t snarl this time. If she snarled now, she’d claw, and she didn’t want to get in a fight with Ty. Not that sort of fight. In a week or two, she’d probably want to be his friend again. “Yeah, Ty. Most people want control. That’s why they don’t want to be on the bottom in a Owner-Owned relationship, either. That and the puppet strings.”
“Puppet strings? Oh, come on, Shiva, I wasn’t that bad!” Now he was getting annoyed, glaring at the shirts Shiva was pulling back out of her bag. “And someone has to be on the bottom. You can’t have everyone on top.”
“Yeah.” She set the discards aside again.
“I bought you that shirt.”
“You did,” she agreed. “It looks really good on you.” She sighed, and closed up her bags before the tarty clothes could find their way back into her stuff. “Look, Ty. Do yourself and everyone else a favor. The next time you Keep someone – find someone who likes being on the bottom, okay?”
“Okay?” Ty blinked at her. “Shiva, you don’t have to leave.”
“I don’t have to stay, either.” The thought was a bit liberating. “That’s why I’m leaving.” Before he could make things any worse, she put action to her words and walked out the door.