Chapter 90: Jamian
I just keep on dreaming
But it's cool cause we're just friends
Jamian had slept in his own bed Saturday night. He hadn’t slept well, or comfortably, but when he’d poked his head back into the suite after they left Elfred’s room, the cy’ree were still having their “meeting,” which looked more like a page out of a very exotic Kama Sutra than a study session. He’d decided to leave before he tried to pick Ty’s blonde hair out of the crowd, but had spent all night imagining him (and her) with various members of their cy’ree and crew.
He really didn’t fit in with either group that well. He had some powers, and apparently some genetics, in common with the cy’ree, but the sort of thing they found fun seemed a bit over-the-top for him (Mea was cute, but when he’d seen her in a quick peek, she’d been involved in something complicated with Ardell and Anwell that looked more than a little intimidating). And the crew – well, Ty and Shiva and Nikita were all okay on their own, but when they were together in a group, he got relegated to accessory, which wasn’t a lot of fun.
He needed friends. Actual friends who treated him like a person, not a decoration. Kai was nice, but she had a jealous boyfriend to contend with, and they really had very little in common. He’d barely talked to most of the rest of his classmates.
Melchior’s crew. It was such a duh moment, he actually smacked himself in the forehead. It wasn’t poker night, but with luck they, at least, wouldn’t be coming down from a post-orgy hangover. When he’d last seen Kai and Conrad leaving the Dining Hall, they’d looked like they were going to be talking – or making up – for quite a while; he might as well go see what the only normal people he knew in the school were doing.
Melchior answered his door at Jamian’s knock, and the little goblin immediately broke into a broad smile. “Hey, Jame, how’s it going?”
It felt kind of good, just having someone glad to see him. “Pretty good. Kinda bored,” he shrugged.
“Yeah, there’s nothin’ going on today. You wanna come in?”
“Yeah.” Better than roaming the halls looking for trouble; better than sitting at home helping Niki pick up after the party (he’d been making strong hints about that over breakfast). “Thanks.”
Melchior stepped back and sat in the desk chair. The TV was on, playing cartoon reruns.
Jamian closed the door behind him, and flopped on the edge of the bed. The cartoons were not all that entertaining, but they were better than watching Mea. And Anwell. And Ardell. And probably Ivette.
“Have you ever been Kept?” he blurted out, mostly to distract himself.
“Me?” Melchior shook his head. “No, never been on either side of it.”
“Really?” She’d been beginning to think that everyone ended up, if not both, either Keeper or Kept. “This is your second year here?”
“Yeah...” Melchior was looking at her funny. What? Was it a rude question? Did she have something in her teeth? She ran her tongue over them, and found them clean.
“What? Is that something else we don’t talk about here?” All the secrecy, and keeping her project with Kai away from Ty, was starting to wear on her.
“Um, no, no, it’s okay,” Melchior said, his smile returning. He was kind of cute, actually, when he smiled. “But no, nobody wanted me bad enough last year I guess, and I didn’t catch anyone this year.”
“Oh, um, sorry?” Was she supposed to feel bad that he hadn’t managed to enslave anyone? She wasn’t quite sure how that worked. “It’s still early?” And she and Kai were doing their best to make sure everyone knew enough not to get trapped.
“Nah, it’s pretty much too late now. Almost all the girls are taken, one way or another.”
She ran through Kailani’s list in her head, not sure why she was doing so. “Chan-” She paused, frowning. “Maybe not. But, I mean, do you have to Keep someone anyway, just to date them?”
“Oh, no, no. Truth be told, I’m not even sure I’d want to. That’s just what you asked about. It is real hard though to date a girl being Kept by someone else.”
Her developing emotional senses were picking up something strange, and she couldn’t quite place it. “Channing’s not Kept…” Lust, that was it, not too strong but it was there. From Melchior? Jaya looked down at herself, then, a little uncertainly, back up at Melchior. “Oh. I can imagine it would be.”
“Hey, no, I meant anybody,” he said quickly. “Take, say, Alex and Marje. He’s not going to Keep her, probably. But if someone else was Keeping her, they probably wouldn’t let her date him.”
“Right,” she agreed, understanding, or thinking she did. “Isn’t Keeping usually like dating anyway? I mean, Shiva and Nikita, Kailani and Conrad… maybe not with Agatha and Bowen, I guess.” Ty and her.
“Often, but yeah, see, there’s a good example. I wouldn’t say Aggie’s dating Bowen, but I’d lay odds she wouldn’t let anybody else do it. Poor kid.”
Everything she’d been hearing about Bowen made her want to get to know the kid, and see what was going on there. Kai seemed to think he was being abused, but that could have been her understandable bias against Agatha.
“Do things go bad, a lot, with that sort of relationship?” It wasn’t quite what she wanted to ask, so she tried again. “I mean, do people think it’s okay to treat their Kept like that?”
“Well, yeah,” he shrugged, like it was no big deal. “But most Keepers are basically dating their Kept anyway. And even for some of the others, it could be worse. Guys like Finnegan, y’know?”
Finnegan, whose Keeper barely seemed to know he existed. Bowen, whose Keeper wouldn’t let him out of the suite. “So no-one would think it was odd if, say, Ty locked me in his room for the rest of the year. Or…” That collar Conrad had been wearing. “Decided to electroshock me for being mouthy?”
Melchior laughed. It wasn’t funny, really, but then Jaya could see that he thought she was joking. “Well, yeah, we’d think it was odd, because he’s not that kind of guy. But you mean on principle, if we didn’t know either of you? Nah.”
“Kai found out that the collar she bought for Conrad was set up to do that. Shock the wearer when they were too uppity.” She wasn’t sure why she told him that. Maybe just because she was a bit disappointed in his cavalier attitude.
“Really? Wow. I wouldn’t expect that from her, either. Was it an accident?”
“Second-hand collar. I guess the old enchantment got re-awoken somehow.” She didn’t really want to get into the somehow part. “But really, that’s okay?” She was feeling less and less copacetic about being a collectible figurine.
“I wouldn’t call it ‘okay’, no, but I wouldn’t be surprised that it happens.”
She relaxed a little. “I guess I wouldn’t, either, not anymore. People do some pretty shitty stuff, given half a chance, don’t they?”
“They really do,” he agreed. “Best to keep your head down and stay out of it.”
“Little late for that,” she pointed out. “I’m already Kept.”
“Well, okay, yeah, but Ty treats you okay, right?” She could tell he was really concerned. Had he really meant those offers to challenge Ty for her? And what would he do if he had her.
“Yeah, he tries.” She didn’t want Melchior to think Ty was one of the bad ones. “He can get a little rough with the orders sometimes, but he doesn’t mean to.”
“A little rough...” He shook his head. “Well, if you need some time out, you can come here. If you can, I guess.”
“He doesn’t usually try to stop my coming and going much. After this weekend, he might start, though.” She shrugged uncomfortably. “We’ll see how that goes. Thanks for the offer, either way.”
“Yeah, it’s no problem. You’re my friend. No matter what happens there, I’ll be here for you.”
She grinned at him. “You’re a good guy, Mel.” She tried to bury the uncomfortable and unfamiliar feeling that he was being so nice because he wanted to sleep with her. It wasn’t all that bad, was it? After all, she seemed to be spending more and more time as a girl anyway. It wasn’t so weird that he wanted to sleep with her when she was like this. It was actually kind of flattering.
“Thanks,” he smiled, slightly abashed, then changed the subject quickly. “Um, hey, let’s go find some of the guys, yeah? Get a game going or something.”
Ack! She focused on her sneaker laces for a moment, wondering if her thoughts had been showing on her face. “That sounds great.” She couldn’t seriously have been thinking of… No, it was just a bit of leak from Melchior’s emotions, it had to be. Being in a group would be better. “Let’s go find your crew.”
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