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The Word Ch 01

Page history last edited by Sea Foam 5 years, 3 months ago

     “Pissing rain.” The boy cowering under the bus shelter had heard it for the first time earlier that day. It was so oddly vulgar, he couldn’t get the phrase out of his head. It didn’t make any sense; for one thing urine tended to be warm instead of freezing cold and for another it fell in a stream rather than a solid wall like this downpour. It was, however, almost as annoying when either one blew into your face. This last realization come to him accompanied by a sneeze. The boy groaned and wiped his nose. When was the bus going to get here? Even the humid interior of public transportation sounded appealing at this point, but the schedule at the stop was washed out and he hadn’t brought a copy of his own. Man…

 

“AUUUUGH!”

The boy looked up at the sound. The rain was like a curtain, but on the other side of the street he could just make out a woman in a yellow raincoat being chased by what was either a large rat or a wet pomeranian. It was a vicious little thing, barking shrilly while nipping at her rainboots. It wasn’t like the tiny dog could do anything even if it did manage to get ahold of her feet, but the woman seemed genuinely terrified of something she could punt down the block.

 

     Normally the boy would’ve just kept his head down and hoped that someone came to take the dog away soon, but he’d just moved to Monte Granito City. It was a place that was strange and new, the perfect locale to take build oneself anew. Did he want to be the kind of person that would sit and watch someone in trouble? No!

 

     With one final breath to steady his nerves the boy sprang into the deluge. He was across the street before his brain kicked in so he had no time to panic. Of course, because of that he’d also had no time to plan what he was going to do. As soon as he neared the dog it nipped at his toes too. Both he and the woman found themselves orbiting the tiny mammal doing its damndest to devour whatever digits it could reach The result looked like some form of African rain dance, and it was working.

“What do I do?!” The boy screeched in a voice only slightly less panicked than the woman’s screaming.

“Just grab it!”

“R-right!”

 

    The next question would be “how?” The pomeranian was tiny which meant it was easy to pick up, but at the same time there wasn’t a lot of it to grab. In one quick lunge the boy snatched up the hound underneath its forelegs and hefted it into the air. The beast’s incessant yapping immediately turned into a low growl as it focused all of its efforts into getting hold of one of his fingers.

“Here, you take it!” He exclaimed as he thrust the midget terror towards the woman.

“Nooo!” In shrinking back the raincoat wearing woman slipped and fell straight onto her back, her eyes never leaving the pomeranian.

“Bad dog!” The boy shouted as he desperately scanned his surroundings for a box or something to cram the animal into. There was nothing. Just as the boy was about to resign himself to being eaten, the jingling of a nearby shop’s bell announced the arrival of his salvation. A woman in an apron stuck her head out of the entrance to a nearby flower shop.

“Fifi?! Fifi?! Oh, there you are!” As soon as she saw the boy holding her pet she rushed over and scooped the dog out of his hands. “I’m so sorry! Mommy can’t take her baby to work ever, can she?” The dog barked again, but it’s owner just sighed and dug through her apron pockets. “I’m sorry, you two. I know this isn’t much, but please take these and forgive me.” With that the shop owner thrust a card into each of their hands and scurried off with her wet mop of a dog without helping the woman in the raincoat up or saying another word.

 

     At a loss for what to do next, the boy turned back to look at the woman still sitting on the ground. Her hood had fallen back revealing a mass of now soaked chocolate brown hair that flowed under a pair of earmuffs wrapping around her head. For the first time he also noticed her eyes. They were a brilliant aquamarine with a downturned slant. They were gentle eyes, but captivating. A perfectly normal human girl, huh? He’d lucked out; he didn’t know what he’d do if he ran into one of MGC’s many parahumans like this.

“Um…”

 

     Well, the next thing to do would be to help her up, right? With a wan smile he stretched out a hand which the woman took and helped haul her to her feet. They stood eye to eye at an equal 5’5” when she had her balance back.

 

     As the two looked at each other, the woman giggled. It started off small, barely noticeable, but it was infectious and the boy joined in too. The laughter continued to ramp up until both people were nearly doubled over.

“Y-you should’ve seen yourself!” the woman said with a quivering voice, “holding that tiny dog like it was a wolf!”

“You too! You were tap dancing like it could do anything even if it did latch onto you!”

Their continued laughter was so loud that no one heard the bass rumbling of a bus engine until it was already next to them, driving right past the stop at speed.

 

“Wait!” With all the humor suddenly knocked out of him the boy turned to run after the bus. He only made it a few steps before realizing he would never catch it; the bus had the light and since no one was there it hadn’t even slowed near the stop. He groaned.

“Oh man, now I have to wait another hour…”

“More like thirteen, actually.” she contested in her breathy voice.

“Huh?!” The boy turned to face her. “They run every hour on Saturdays, right?”

“Until six out here. The next bus isn’t until seven… sixteen tomorrow.”

 

    The boy’s shoulders drooped. It was a two hour walk home and he was already soaked from head to toe. The part of town he was in wasn’t a bad one, but he’d still prefer not to be as vulnerable as a pedestrian was in Monte Granito City of all places. The alternative was calling a cab, but he didn’t have much money and he wanted to save what little pocket change his parents could give him.

“Where do you live?” The woman asked.

“I’m off-campus at MGCU.”

“That is a long walk,” the woman mused with a hand on her chin. “Well, I can give you a ride.”

“I don’t know…”

“Do you really want to walk?” That was true. “Besides, I can’t let my hero walk the streets, can I?”

“Calling me a hero is a little…”

“I know, I know,” she laughed, “ Relax a little. I live that way anyway, just let me say my thanks, okay?”

“I don’t think—”

“Come on, don’t be shy. My car is right here.” The woman reached into her purse and a blue Civic three cars down beeped in readiness. “Shall we, hero?”

 

    Sometime after the woman nudged him into the vehicle, locked the doors, started the engine and pulled away it occurred to the boy that getting into a car with a complete stranger had less to do with not being a coward and a lot more to do with being really stupid. At least the person that half abducted him seemed normal enough, happily chatting as she drove.The boy tried to convince himself he was in good hands. She was human and she turned up the heater so she couldn’t be that bad, right?

“So you said you live off campus, right?” The woman asked, snapping the boy back to the conversation.

“Uh, yeah.”

“Does that mean you’ve gotta pay to do your laundry?”

“It’s not too much.”

The woman clicked her tongue and moved into a turn lane. A turn lane going away from the college.

“Where are we going?”

“My house. I’m going to dry your clothes and let you use my shower. You shouldn’t have to pay for doing a good deed.”

“Ah, no, see, I was already wet anyway, so I think I can walk and—”

“Are you trying to be rude to a woman that wants to thank you?”

“No…”

“Good! By the way I’m Kestrel. I didn’t catch your name.”

“I’m, er…” The boy hesitated.

 

     There was a superstition, an old one, amongthe residents of Cokyne that if you gave someone your true name it could be used to control you. It sounded a lot like voodoo, but to that day it was still a custom amongst parahumans not to give out their real name because of it. Of course, back home there weren’t many parahumans so he didn’t have one. His mother’s nicknames were all embarrassing and he hated what his roommates called him too. What to do? Desperate for a name the boy’s head darted to and fro looking for inspiration. Gearshift? No. Was that even a gearshift? Whatever. Glovebox? No. Coat? No.

“My name is, uh…”

“How about... Mouse?” The woman asked accompanied by a glance.

“Mouse?”

Kestrel giggled. “Sure, you’re cute like one and the way you move your head reminds me of one too. I think I even see your whiskers twitching.”

“Mouse, huh?” Hardly a flattering nickname, but it was better than what he was likely to come up with and he had to admit it fit. He sighed. “Fine.”

 

    Kestrel parked her car in the driveway of a single story house just beyond the area most people from MGCU rented houses in. He could probably walk there if he wanted. That also meant he could walk back home if he chose to. Instead Mouse shut the car door and followed Kestrel inside. He wasn’t entirely sure why.

 

    Inside the woman immediately began acting the part of a good hostess without even taking off her coat.

“Alright, here’s the bathroom, the shower gets hot, so be careful. You’ve gotta turn the knob the opposite direction you think you would otherwise you get cold water. I’ll get you a robe before you get in, so just leave your wet clothes outside and I’ll wash them. Let’s see, was there anything else?”

“I think I can handle the rest…”

“Okay, then enjoy. There should be a treat waiting for you in the dining room when you get out.”

 

    Kestrel had a really nice shower. The water was hot, the spray was even and especially after soaking in the rain the warmth was great. Mouse let himself sit under the stream for longer than he meant before finally turning off the water. the robe too was some kind of plush deal and very warm even if he wasn’t wearing pants. Or underwear. In a woman’s house. Mouse suddenly found himself aware of how little he was wearing as he walked out of the bathroom to find his pile of clothes gone.

 

    Without having been given any directions he walked in what he hoped was the direction of the dining room. The house wasn’t especially big, so he found it easily enough. There he found a steaming hot cup of what looked like hot chocolate waiting for him. Mouse cautiously took a sip and his eyes lit up. It was good! He happily sat down to finish the mug while he waited. Towards the bottom of the mug Kestrel appeared in a robe with a towel around her head covering most of her ears.

 

    Kestrel’s robe wasn’t anything like the one she gave to Mouse. it was black and silky and much, much shorter. On any day it would do a good job of showing off her legs, but the way she had it tied meant it also displayed a good amount of the fairly large breasts it covered. The poor boy had to look away to keep his mind from going somewhere it shouldn’t.

 

“So how is it?” She asked as she made a cup of her own and sat down.

“It’s really good!”

“I’m glad. I have secret ingredients no one eeeeever guesses.”

“Is it peppermint?”

“No.”

“Hmm… vanilla?”

“There’s some, but that’s not the secret.”

“Awww. So you’re really not telling?”

Kestrel giggled as she reached up to pull the towel off of her head. “A girl’s gotta have her secrets.”

 

    Mouse’s eyes widened at the secrets revealed when Kestrel took off that towel and began to pat down her hair. Big, springy elf ears popped out as the towel fell away. She was a monster?!

“It was my grandmother’s recipe, you know,” Kestrel continued after a stretch that also freed a glossy black succubus tail. “She was really proud of—”

“Please don’t rape me!”

 

     The boy shoved his chair back and bolted toward the door to the confusion of his host.

“Where are you going?”

Mouse turned his head in response to the question, running face first into the door frame as a result. Heart beating a mile a minute the boy spun from the blow then corrected his path and kept going. Which way was the door?!

“Mouse?” Kestrel called out, accompanied by the sound of soft footsteps.

 

     He picked a direction and ran. It was the wrong direction, it seemed; his path lead to more doors and none of them were the exit. He spun to try the other way to see Kestrel rounding the corner at the end of the hall, blocking his return that way.

“Pretty sure you’re misunderstanding—”

“Eeep!”  As a snap decision jumped through one of the doors. He found himself in an office and shoved a rolling chair out of the way to dive under a nearby desk. As soon as he was under he pulled the chair in front of him as a barricade. Kestrel’s bare feet approached his hiding spot shortly.

 

“What are you doing down there?”

“P-please just let me go! I’m a virgin and I’m only average-sized and my spirit energy isn’t that good so please don’t rape me!” Kestrel squatted to see under the desk.

“I’m not going to. I really just wanted to say thank you.”

“If saying thanks means having s-sex then I don’t want to!”

“Saying thanks means saying thanks. No tricks.”

“Then why did you hide your tail?! And your ears?!”

“Don’t your ears get cold? I was just keeping them warm. Is that so hard to believe?”

“Yes! You’re a dark priest, even your religion is all about sex! I’ll bet your secret ingredient is some kind of crazy aphrodisiac too!”

 

    The dark priest recoiled as if she’d just been slapped. The face that remained calm even when she was being accused of being an opportunistic rapist clouded. She sighed and stood.

“Alright, then. You can stay here if you want, I’ll bring your clothes when they’re dry. Just please don’t leave the house like that, you’re likely to attract someone that does want to rape you.” Without saying anything more the woman turned and left.

 

    Mouse stayed under the desk for a while. Somewhere a blowdrier clicked on, then went off and Kestrel walked past the room without slowing. The boy began to feel more and more like a heel the longer he sat. Had Kestrel really done anything that suspicious? If there was anything in the hot chocolate he certainly didn’t feel different. He slowly kicked the chair away and stood. He didn’t know where to go, so he crept back toward the kitchen and peered around the doorframe. Kestrel sat inside at the same seat, but now with dry hair and street clothes, playing with a cold mug of cocoa.

“Um…”

“Sit down, I won’t bite.”

 

    Mouse meekly obliged, but didn’t say anything. He really had no idea what to say.

“I’m really sorry. You’re a nice person but I went and said that... You’re mad at me, aren’t you?”

“I’m trying not to be.” The dark priest rested her head on her palm as she looked at Mouse. “The secret ingredients are cinnamon and white chocolate, by the way.”

The boy took a sip. Those flavors were there. “Oh. Would you tell your grandmother I’m sorry, too?”

“I would if I could.” Mouse flinched under the weight of that one. “Look, I know you didn’t mean anything by what you just did, but if you’re going to go to school here you need to get a few things straight. Not all parahumans are out to rape you, okay? Not even most of them here on Earth.”

“Yeah…”

“And the Church of the Giving God in particular is about sharing pleasure, not forcing sex. Those are two completely different things and all of our members understand that.”

“I hadn’t done any research.”

“I see.” Mouse continued to will himself out of existence, but Kestrel’s expression softened. He really was sorry, huh?

“Do you mind… if I ask you something?” Kestrel nodded. “ You’re a dark priest. You didn’t make any moves I don’t think; if your church is all about sharing pleasure why didn’t you try to?”

“First, I’d prefer to be called a raconteur. There’s nothing dark or evil about what I do and I’m a woman, so I’m not a priest. Also those robes look stuffy. Second, I already have.”

“Huh?”

“The shower felt good, right? The cocoa was delicious, right? Both pleasant sensation and good flavors are a form of pleasure.”

“That counts?”

“Sure. Good books, fine wine, fun conversation, there are so many ways to enjoy pleasure in this world.” She couldn’t help but smile at the wondrous expression on Mouse’s face. “You really aren’t used to dealing with parahumans, are you?”

 

    The boy slid his hands under the table. Kestrel couldn’t actually see, but it was clear from the way his arms moved that he was wringing them. Mouse wringing his hands was an old habit. When his parents told him to grow a backbone and stop, hiding his hands while he wrung them had become another.

“Not really,” he admitted. “There aren’t many where I’m from and my family kind of...”

“Avoided them?”

“Yeah.”

“Hmm, I can see that. You didn’t avoid that dog earlier though.”

“With the rain and your coat I thought you were human, so—”

“Not me, the dog itself. You don’t strike me as the type to go around saving damsels in distress.” A mischievous smile stole across her face. “Did you think I was too cute not to save?”

“No! I mean… It’s not that you’re not g-good looking or anything, but… I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Not even as an apology for earlier?”

“Er…”

 

    Mouse played with is mug. He really didn’t want to talk about his reasons, but he had done something really rude as a guest in someone’s house. Kestrel wasn’t asking for more than a simple explanation and she looked really caring. He sighed.

“I’ve... always been kind of a coward. I’m jumpy and indecisive and I have no confidence at all. My own dad joked that he wouldn’t be surprised if I turned into an alp once.”

The raconteur stiffened. “That was mean.”

“You didn’t disagree.”

“Uh…”

“It’s okay, there are lots of people that don’t and he didn’t mean it. It’s just, I thought I’d be able to change that when I came here, you know? It’s college. A new city, new people. I thought I’d be able to change myself, but here I am still letting a tiny little dog freak me out.”

“The little ones are vicious. I’d know, a chihuahua bit my hand when I was three and I haven’t be able to handle dogs since. You really did save me there even if you don’t think your execution was very good.”

“Thanks, I guess.”

“Not at all. Seeking to improve yourself like that is a noble endeavor too, but it doesn’t happen all at once. The trick is to keep at it and put yourself in the right environment surrounded by the right people.”

 

    Mouse braced himself for the Church plug that was obviously coming. He was going to have to politely turn her down and that sort of thing was hard for him to do. A hundred excuses flooded his mind, but before he was prompted to try and say any of them the raconteur pushed her chair back and stood.

“Well then, I think your clothes should be dry. Are you ready to go?”

“Yes? But aren’t you forgetting something?”

“Like?”

“Well, aren’t you going to try to convert me or tell me about pleasure or the glory of the church or something?”

“Oh, that?” Kestrel asked with a tilt of her head. “That’s the sort of thing you can’t force on people. If you want to talk about it I could go on for hours, but otherwise I’m just being an pest. The trick is to speak with people that are receptive and show them the path of the Giving God. If you’re good you can get them to come to you.”

“How do you know who is receptive?”

She smiled. “You just know.”

 

    As soon as Kestrel brought his clothes back Mouse quickly changed in the bathroom and met her at the door. The rain had let up so they weren’t drenched again when they reached the car. The rest of the trip back to Mouse’s apartment was just as pleasant as the first stage. Mouse was even feeling comfortable enough to participate more. He almost regretted it when the car pulled up in front of the university’s apartments.

“Is this you?” Kestrel asked.

“Yeah. Um, thank you for the ride.”

“Any time.” Mouse moved to get out, but the raconteur stopped him as his feet touched the ground. “Oh, I wanted to give you something.” The boy turned to find Kestrel holding out a business card. A Church business card. Here came the spiel… “In case you ever want to talk.”

“Talk?”

“Talk. About your day, how well you’re doing with that self-improvement thing, or if you need to ask a question without feeling embarrassed, whatever. I had fun talking to you.”

“Thanks.”

 

     Mouse had no intention of calling her, but it would be rude not to accept so he pocketed the card and walked to the apartment door. Mouse inserted his key, took a deep breath to prepare himself for what was inside, and took one last look at the street where Kestrel was idling.

 

Inside the car Kestrel watched Mouse’s cute little butt as he scurried away. She waved as he opened the door, then pulled away. Her lips curled as she rounded the corner. That boy was very interesting.

 

     Mouse’s mind was ready. He steeled himself as he walked through the entry but prayed he could make it to his room quietly.

“IZZAAAAAAAAY!” Mouse groaned as both of his roommates, the twins Drake and Blake rushed out of their room. Drake—unless it was Blake— held up a hand.

“Aw yeah, high five, bro!” Both twins were a good half foot taller than Mouse; he had to stand on his toes to meet the high five. Blake—unless it was Drake—rushed in next for an uncomfortably tight bear hug.

“I was getting so worried about you, Izzy. You done good.”

 

     Mouse stepped back as soon as Blake was done with him, grateful to be able to breathe again. He really had no idea why those two had rented an off campus apartment instead of staying in a fraternity house.

“My name isn’t Izzy,” the boy complained in a vain attempt to get back what little dignity he had. Both twins shrugged at once.

“Well you won’t let us call you Ballsack either,” Blake began.

“What else do ya want us to do?” Drake completed

“Please just call me Isaac.”

“Naw.” Drake shook his head.

“Yeah. Your name sucks, dude.”

Mouse sighed. “Fine. What did I do to get high fived for, anyway?”

“Not what Izzy, WHO.”

“Huh?”

“That chick you rolled up with, bro. What was she, an elf?” The twins’ room faced the street and they had a habit of watching it with a pair of binoculars to ‘check out the honies.’ Once again the tendency had worked to Mouse’s detriment.

“Or maybe an alp or something? We won’t judge dude, pussy’s pussy, naw’m sayin’?” Drake and Blake high fived. That was incredibly annoying.

“She was a raconteur, why?”

“The hell’s a raconteur?” Blake asked.

“That’s what dark priests call themselves when they don’t want you to know they’re freaks, man.”

“Oh. Whatevs. So you fucked her, right?”

“N-no!”

 

    The twins exchanged a look like someone just informed them that their parents died in a bus accident, Christmas was cancelled, someone kicked their dog and their favorite porn star got a breast reduction. In an instant Mouse knew the conversation was going in a bad way. He wished he’d lied, only he was a terrible liar.

 

“Izzy, bro. How’d you fuck that up?”

“I wasn’t trying to have s-s-s-s—”

“Sex?”

“I wasn’t trying to do that!”

There was a loud smack as Drake’s palm met his face. “You wouldn’t even have to, she’d do plenty of trying for you!”

“Calm down, broski, she could have a boyfriend or something. She did, right?”

Mouse had to think. “She didn’t say. How would I even know?”

“Pretty Easy,” Blake began, “she’d have his cock in her mouth.”

“She didn’t!”

“Not taken then,” Drake mused. “She gave you her number so she could fuck you later though, right?”

“She gave me her card…”

 

     Far too late did Mouse realize what a freakishly stupid thing that was to say. Drake was on him in a flash searching his pockets to find the card, and Blake disappeared to come back with a phone and a whiteboard set. wordlessly they spun the poor boy and sat him down on the couch.

“You know what we have to do, right Ballsack?“Study?”

The twins smiled at each other. “C’mon, man,” Blake chided.

“See, you’ve got a problem we’ve gotta help you solve,” Drake continued.

“I do?”

Both twins nodded and spoke in unison. “You’re a virgin.”

“S-so?”

“So you can’t do that, man. You’re at a school full of sopping monster pussy and desperate human girls and you still haven’t gotten laid. It’s not right.”

“Totally against the natural order,” Drake-unless-it-was-Blake chimed in. “We’re just worried about you.”

“But I don’t—”

“You’ll thank us later.” With that Blake-or-maybe-Drake hit a button on the phone and slammed it down on the table.

 

    It rang on speakerphone. Again. Mouse silently prayed no one would answer. It’d be really nice if he got out of this without having to do anything.

“Hello?” Kestrel answered on the third ring.

“Um, h-hi!” Mouse stuttered.

“Oh, Mouse?” Blake sniggered as Kestrel spoke. “I didn’t expect to hear back from you so soon.”

Drake held up the whiteboard as the boy struggled to think of what to say. It read “I couldn’t wait to talk to you.”

“Well, I couldn’t wait to talk to you again?”

“That’s so cute! Most men aren’t that honest anymore, you know. I thought you had a cute face, but if you keep this up I’ll really fall for you.” If Mouse turned any more red it would be audible over the phone.

“I’m really not—I mean you too,” Mouse stumbled until corrected by the all powerful white board.

“So did your roommates give you any trouble?”

“Y—why would they?”

“I saw them in the window when I dropped you off. Nosy bunch, aren’t they?” The boy glanced to them and Drake hurriedly scribbled on the board.

“We talked a little.”

“And?”

“I r-realized I missed a chance.”

“You did, I probably would’ve given you the recipe for that hot chocolate if you hadn’t run out of the room.”

Isaac’s eyes bulged out at what the board said next, but an elbow to the ribs encouraged him to soldier on.

“Uh, not that. I really wanted to f—to do you in the, um, in the, the…” ‘ass’ was what he said, but it was so close to a squeak it hardly counted as a word. The resulting silence on the other side of the line was deafening. “Hello?”

“Oh my. Unfortunately I’m not that kind of girl; if you want to do anal you’ve got to at least buy me a cup of coffee. Are you free tomorrow?”

“I wasn’t planning on—yes I am.”

“Great! Do you know where the parahuman history museum downtown is?”

“Ah, yeah.”

“Can you meet me there at one? Let’s just make it a date.”

“A date?!”

“Yup! Look forward to it, okay? Talk to you tomorrow, little Mousey.”


    With that the line went dead. The twins boisterously congratulated each other on a job well done and tussling Mouse’s hair. The boy himself just groaned. He’d really hoped this was going to be a quiet weekend.

 

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