Nydia still wasn’t sure how she felt about Tuesday night D&D. On the one hand, Agatha left her alone; on the other hand, so did Dysmas. She could have understood it as “guy time;” she’d had foster-fathers who were like that about their football, no women allowed in the room. But Shahin being there, Emrys’ arrogant, rebellious doll of a Kept, meant it wasn’t guy time, it wasn’t crew time, it was something along the lines of everyone-but-Nydia time.
Of course, that meant that it was also time to herself. She tried to concentrate on that as Dysmas set up the table, and not think about the disaster that last Tuesday had become, the solemn, funereal air of the suite for three days afterwards. She had a book she wanted to read, something lent to her by her Mentor, and some math homework that would take quiet time to get right.
“Dysmas, good evening.” The ice queen had stepped out of her Gothic Aristocrat trappings and was wearing much more casual clothing and no make-up at all, but she still carried herself like the freaking queen of the room. “I was wondering if I could borrow Nydia for a bit; I’d like some company shopping.” Her cool gaze took in Nydia’s clothing, which, while not nearly as expensive as Shahin’s usual get-up, was still goth enough for her own tastes. “I think we have similar tastes.”
“Shopping?” Dysmas asked, without looking up from what he was doing. “Sure, if she wants to go.”
“Nydia?” Shahin turned to her with a small smile. “Would you be interested in accompanying me to the Store?”
“I…” She sighed, looking between Dysmas and the far-too-perfect-to-be-real girl. “Sure, I guess.”
“Alright, let's go then. We'll see you later, boys.”
Nydia followed along in her wake, surprised at the easy way Shahin just waved and left. Then again, she wasn’t wearing a collar anymore, either. She wasn’t sure what to say, so she just trailed along in the other girl’s wake. “So, how are things?” Shahin asked casually.
Nydia jumped, guilty. “I ought to be asking you that, shouldn’t I?” She was still a little fuzzy on the details, but she knew something horrid had happened.
"No," the other girl said firmly. “I'll be fine. I'm here, after all, and not Owned or anything.”
“How…?” She wasn’t sure how to ask without sounding like she was ungrateful to be with Dysmas.
“We had an arrangement. What about you, then?”
“An arrangement?” She shook her head, not sure whether to be awed or put-off, and fingered the pretty metal collar Dysmas had locked around her neck. “I mean, I’m Owned, yes. Dysmas Owns me.”
“Yes, but how do you feel about that?” Shahin asked as they entered the Store.
“Feel about it?” She shook her head. “What do you mean?” It sounded like therapy group crap back in her old school, and she wondered if the sudden concern had come from wherever the corsets and lace had gone.
“Well, being Owned is a bit of a unique experience. I'd imagine it's not for everyone.”
She bristled. “Are you saying I can’t deal with it? Just because sometimes he needs to go to someone else for… sustenance, it doesn’t mean I’m not handling it!”
“Calm down, I'm not trying to insult you. I've just noticed that there are some students who don't do so well with it, and I don't know you that well. A lot of people get into it without really knowing what's going on.”
Nydia took a couple breaths, surprised at herself, and tried to listen to what Shahin was saying. “Well, I didn’t know what was going on when he Owned me, no,” she agreed. She thought about Aggie’s poor pet, who couldn’t seem to figure out how to keep his head down, and some of the others she’d seen, fighting the leash until it choked them. “But I deal with it all right.”
“Learned anything that might be helpful to the rest of us?”
“About being Owned?” She shook her head slowly. “I don’t ask too many questions, and Dysmas doesn’t tell me much. I mean, it’s common sense, right?” Obviously not for the other girl, who had fought her orders until they made her sick, but Nydia couldn’t help but finish the sentence. “Do what you’re told and don’t make waves.”
Shahin seemed to be pondering that as they wandered through the racks of clothing, chatting almost as if they were friends about the strange, sometimes absurd, and occasionally beautiful piece they found there. Nydia let herself be talked into a new dress, and then, of course, there were the shoes and tights and jewelry to match, while Shahin picked out soft, cozy things for herself that seemed at odds with her normal image.
Finally, she spoke again, as they headed for the register. “I'm glad it's working out for you, then.”
Nydia smiled back at her, feeling a bit guilty. “I hope it works out for you, too.” She wondered, as they headed back to Dysmas’ suite, if Shahin missed being Owned.
Copyright © 2009-2011 Lyn Thorne-Alder with Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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