Chapter 9: Jamian
I can't escape myself...
Jamian woke Saturday morning feeling as if his head was splitting open. The pain in his temples was fierce, and the dim light from his lamp felt like red-hot pokers being shoved into his eyes. Moaning, he crawled back into bed, pulling the pillow over his head, and tried to sleep more.
It was impossible, though. If the headache hadn't been making every heartbeat sound like a jackhammer, his mind would still have been helpfully providing a slideshow of dinner last night. No wonder Ty didn't think anything of being a hermaphrodite… at least he could pass as human!
Did that really matter? He thought of Eriko, the Third Cohort girl in his Trigonometry class. The first day of class, she'd looked like a pretty Asian teenaged girl, aside from the astonishingly blue eyes. At dinner last night, her shining black hair had been a sky-blue mane that looked like nothing so much as a peacock's tail hanging down her back. When she'd smiled at him, a forked tongue had licked over inhumanly sharp teeth. If she could hide that, wander around like a human with no-one the wiser, then how was he any different?
His head still hurt. His back felt as if his spine was trying to twist out of his skin. And he couldn't sleep properly. Dream-images of his family fluttered through his head as he imagined himself twisted and transformed into something monstrous – more monstrous than he was already.
His stepfather loomed over him, glaring at him – at her – the look of disgust he'd had when he first saw Jamian naked magnified, twisted into pure revulsion. His mother twisted her hands and fretted over him – over her, over the monstrous, scaly, blue-haired, huge-bosomed creature she'd become.
At first, Jamian thought the knocking on his door was part of his dream, the relentless thudding of some pitchfork-wielding mob coming to destroy the monster he had become. As the pounding continued, though, sending needles of pain into his head with every beat, he slowly roused from his fever-dreams, hearing his voice called thinly through the thick door.
"Jamian? Jame', are you in there?"
"Yuh-yes?" It shouldn't have been a difficult question, but the throbbing feeling in his temples made even the easiest questions nearly impossible.
"Can I come in?" It might have been Ty. He wasn't sure who else would be pounding on his door. He didn't really want to see anyone, didn't want anyone to see him in this state. If he didn't let him in, he might keep knocking.
"Yes," he whimpered, trying to raise his voice loud enough to be heard through the door without exacerbating his headache. It must have been loud enough, because the door swung open on its hinges.
"Jamian, where are you?" Ty's voice grew closer. "Are you still in bed? I know you weren't partying last night – I was at every party there was last night – so unless you've been drinking alone in your room…."
"I'm here," he croaked, if for no other reason than to stop the flow of words. "I…" He slowly pulled his head out from under the blankets, wincing at the light. "I feel as if my head is splitting open, Ty…"
He squinted up at the older boy, who had inexplicably fallen silent, and was staring at him. A moment's panic ensued, as he checked to make sure he was completely dressed, flashes of his nightmares popping into his mind. "What is it?" he whispered.
Ty was looking at him with an expression that could have been awe but was probably revulsion. "Your head is splitting open, Jamian," he said very quietly. "Come on, stand up. Let's get you to Doctor Caitrin's." He held out his hand to Jamian, who, reluctantly, took it and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet.
"Don't need a doctor," he slurred. The dim light was blinding, and he was woozy and light-headed. He found himself leaning on Ty just to stay standing, and blushed, struggling to pull himself upright. He managed, mostly, trying to ignore that Ty's hand on the small of his back was keeping him standing. "There's nothin' wrong with me."
"Nope," Ty answered cheerfully. "But Doctor Caitrin will give you something for the pain."
"Mmm." That sounded wonderful enough to pull himself the rest of the way upright. Checking his clothes came without thought, a few twitches to make sure everything sat right and everything wrong was covered.
Except something wasn't falling right over his abused-feeling spine. His shirt was lumping out oddly down over his ass. He twisted, trying to see the obstruction, but his balance was still unstable. "What?!" he muttered, shaken out of his half-trance.
"What's wrong... oh." Ty's lips quirked in a smile he was clearly trying to hide, which didn't calm Jamian's rising concern at all. "Here, hold still."
"What?" He twisted in alarm as Ty's hand darted down the back of his sweatpants. "Hey!"
The feeling of twisted discomfort in his spine relaxed a little, as something like a long snake slithered down the back of his leg. He yelped again. "Did you just reach into my pants and... what did you just do? What is that?"
Ty caught the end of it and pulled it in front of Jamian – an almost flat tapered end the size of his pinkie slowly growing thicker as it curled around his back, where a strange tugging on the base of his spine made him want to turn around. He did, and the pulling grew stronger.
"Oh, shit." He looked again at the thing Ty was holding. Not round, like a snake, but sort of flattened to a spine, soft dove gray down the spine and darker mottled gray on the underneath, more like a lizard tail... "Oh, no." Hand over hand, he followed it down its length to its base. "Shit. Ty... Ty, I have a tail." As if having a pussy wasn't bad enough.
"Yeah. It's pretty cool."
"Cool!" His shout shook his head, bringing the pain back in a heavy wave. "Ow, ow, ow. Ty... this is so not cool."
"It is. Come on, let's get you to the doctor." Ty's hand slid back around his waist, catching him just as the dizziness washed over him.
"Don't worry. No-one here is going to look twice at it." And yet Ty had stared at him, Ty who was undaunted by anything, including vacuum-cleaner-attachment gonads. But the promise of pain killers was too tempting.
"Bright lights," he tried, his final line of defense. He wasn't even surprised when Ty produced sunglasses from his pocket.
He slid the sunglasses on gingerly. The dimness was a pleasant relief, quickly countered by Ty's hand on the small of his back. "Wha-?" it was too weak to even count as a protest.
"Enough stalling," Ty said cheerfully. "Before you fall over and I have to carry you... let's get you to Dr. Caitrin." His hand was a warm pressure on Jamian's spine, disturbingly comforting against the jagged pain coming from his skull.
"My skull..." Ty had said his skull was splitting open. He reached both hands up to touch his head, only to find them caught in one of Ty's long-fingered hands. "Hey!"
Ty shook his head. "Touching it will only make it worse. Come on now, kiddo." He toed Jamian's door open, and steered him down the hall.
Copyright © 2009-2010 Lyn Thorne-Alder & Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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