Addergoole
Stamps Bonus Story
Baby Ducks

This story takes place on the first day of the third year of the Addergoole School.


They’d taken all her luggage, and now she was standing in a hallway after the entirely-unhelpful orientation, no clear idea where to go nor where her worldly possessions, such as they were, had gone. A couple boys had bounced up against her, their intentions clear in their expressions, offering aid when what they really wanted was to help themselves; she’d told them no, thank you, polite as her father had raised her and ready with the dirty tricks her father had also taught her, should polite fail.

Polite had, for the moment, been enough, although one big strapping boy had looked more than a little surprised at her polite refusal. She’d seen something in his eyes that was a little frightening and more than a bit tempting, a hunger after her that would have born closer inspection, perhaps, if she hadn’t made promises – well, not exactly promises, but certainly firm statements of intent – to Eric before she left, poor Eric, whose roses were rather wilted and smushed in her luggage, but nonetheless appreciated. He tried hard, did her Eric. That was all a girl had any right to ask for, was a sincere effort and a faithful heart, tall, dark-eyed lost muscle-boys notwithstanding. All her polite refusals, however, had left her bereft of direction, since none of the girls seemed inclined to talk to anyone wearing a skirt. She tried to follow the flow, but there seemed to be no single direction – instead, people milled about randomly, seeming far more interesting in chatting than in finding their rooms.

Well, when in Rome… It wasn’t as if her luggage was going anywhere; it was either already gone, or safely stowed in her room. After a ten-hour plane ride, the roses were not going to be made any more dead by another hour or two in her suitcase. She might as well start this out on a good note, and, since the girls weren’t talking to her…

~

Cassidy didn’t know what to make of this place. Underground, all right, that was weird, but his parents’ friends had a house built with only the living room windows sticking out from the dirt, so it wasn’t that strange, especially out here in miscellaneous-movie-worthy-storm-country. Tiny class size, all right, he could handle that from the strange finishing school this was supposed to be. But the people were just flat-out weird, some fucked-up locker-room posturing mixing with girls who were far more friendly and far, far more straight-forward about it, aggressive even, than the girls he was used to back home. Not everyone, of course, but enough that he was starting to feel like he was being hazed, the butt of some complex prank that would lead to him being naked in the middle of a school dance.

Not that that would be the worst thing in the world, of course. Naked was just naked, being laughed at, he was used to. But none of these lovely ladies being serious about their flirtation… that would be a tragedy. Although it was getting a little creepy, being looked at like a piece of meat. One girl even licked her lips as she looked him up and down.

He worked his way down the hall, not really sure where he was going. There had to be someone around here who didn’t want to eat him or beat him.

“Hello.” The voice came from just behind him, female, not predatory, maybe even shy, with a hint of an accent, just a tiny, lovely lilt. Relieved already, he turned to return the greeting.

~

It was a good thing she had no follow-up planned, because her breath was gone. He wasn’t the most handsome man she’d ever seen, not even the most handsome she’d met today, but there was life in his eyes and in his wild hair, and a sense of kinship about him that made her want to hug him.

“I…” she tried to say, but what came out was

~

“You…” she said, which was good, because Cassidy wasn’t quite up to making words. Forget the girls swarming around like bees. Forget Teresa and Lydia. Forget how to breathe. This woman, this brown-eyed no-nonsense beauty…

“Marry me,” he tried to say, but what came out was

~

“You,” he replied. That would have been enough. She smiled at him, hoping she didn’t look as much like a blasted idiot as she felt at the moment. Who forgot how to talk?

He looked as if he was feeling much the same, which was a wee bit reassuring. “You..” he tried again, and then, with a face-splitting grin, “You Jane? Me Cassidy.”

She chuckled, relieved to have moved past the “you” stage. “Me Mabina. Ah…” she’d found her breath again, the wonderful crushing feeling of him-and-nothing-else beginning to fade. “That is, I’m Mabina. Pleased to meet you.”

“Likewise,” he said with obvious feeling, and the little fear she’d been holding in the back of her mind dissipated.

~

Her smile was like the sun rising on a perfect day. “So,” she began. The hesitation in her voice reminded him, forcibly, that they were still nearly strangers, no matter how much he felt like he’d known this girl his entire life. “Do you think we’re…”

“Yeah,” he agreed. They could figure it out later, for now it was enough that they were a “we.”

“Welcome to Addergoole!” She came around the corner, hot buttered sex in a deeply-tanned Bettie Page sort of way, her hot-pink halter top drawing the eyes. The possessive arm around her shoulder sort of ruined the effect, though, although the spindly dark-haired boy who belonged to the long, long arm was smiling down his hawk’s beak of a nose at them. “I’m Megan, and this is Shadrach-” the stork tugged her closer to him at her introduction “-mmm, hi Shad,” she giggled, “and this is Liza.”

~

The third girl had been lost behind the shadow of the first two, but when she smiled, Mabina wanted to hug her and tell her everything would be okay. She was pretty, lean, and sleek, minklike. “Hi,” she murmured. It could have been shyness, except for the calculating way she was eyeing Cassidy. “Are you…?”

“We’re together,” Mabina said firmly. Her hand found his without effort, and fit as if they had been carved to match each other. She squeezed lightly, and he grinned at her.

“Together,” he echoed.

“Great!” Megan bounced. “You can be with us!”

Finally, girls willing to speak to her. Mabina found her grin stretching to match Cassidy’s. Everything was turning out far better than she’d expected.

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