Addergoole
Bonus Story
Moment of Clarity

Last day of classes, Year Four of the Addergoole School


"It's almost the end of the year."

Niki looked up at Shiva, who was looming over him on the couch. "Yeah?"

"You've been keeping Tya on pins and needles all year. I'd say 'dicking her around, but…'"

"But she's got her own dick," Niki muttered bitterly. "Yeah. Who's dicking who?"

"Well, you obviously managed to tolerate sex with her once in a while…"

"Before I knew," he protested.

"And after. I know the expression on her face when she's sated."

"Why do you keep calling it 'her?'"

"Because she was always a girl to me, Niki, except when he was a boy." She plucked a grape out of his hair and ate it. "You do fine with her in little spurts."

"Sometimes everything is okay," he admitted. Something about the way she looked at him made him feel the need to be honest, even with himself. "I like her a lot. When she's her. When she's with me."

"When it's not the cy'ree?" Shiva guessed.

"That too." He studied the cat-girl thoughtfully. "She Kept you."

"All year," she agreed. "And a son to boot." She paused. "She didn't have to carry your kid, you know."

"I didn't want kids anyway," he grumbled, because he knew she was right. Ty had fathered two children - one on Shiva, one on always-smug Anise. "She didn't ask me."

"She never asks. That's something you end up getting used to with Tya. She never thinks to ask." She shook her head. "I tried to explain that to her. That she should ask."

"You did?" He looked up at her thoughtfully. "Why?"

"So she didn't make the same mistakes with the next guy as she did with me."

"Did she?"

"Mmm…. I think she made an entirely different set of mistakes. What do you think?"

"Me?"

"Well, who else would I be asking?"

Niki squirmed uncomfortably. "I don't know what mistakes she made with you," he offered uncertainly. "I mean, do you really think she made mistakes… with me?"

"Well, are you happy with her?"

The squirming got worse. He didn't like thinking about it like that. He didn't like thinking about being unhappy with Tya. "Well, I mean…" he hedged.

"You didn't spend half the year fighting the Bond and sleeping in your own bed because you were happy, did you?"

"Well, no, but…"

"And you want to say you're happy, because of the Bond. But you were really angry to find out she came with switchblade genitalia."

"That's really quite rude," he snapped.

"Of course it is. So's Ty." She patted his arm. "Look, when things get bad, you know where to find me. I've been through it."

"Not like me."

She gave him a strange look. "Well, of course not. For one, I was pregnant. For two, I hadn't spent the whole year fighting the Bond."

That just made him feel worse. "I didn't want to be her pet," he muttered, but that wasn't entirely right. "I didn't want to be his pet. Didn't want to watch him with cy'Linden. Didn't want…" He frowned, and fell silent. That wasn't something he should talk about.

"Been there." She tousled his hair and stole another grape. "All I'm saying is, if you want to talk, come find me."

"I…" There was something about her that rubbed up against the edge of an order like chafing pants. "Thanks."

She smiled sympathetically, as if she could read his mind, and exited, leaving Niki alone in the living room with his uncomfortable thoughts.

By the time Ty got back to the room, Niki had managed to work himself into a fine mess of guilt and anger. He didn't want to think bad things about his Keeper; why had Shiva put those thoughts in his head? Why had Ty tied him up in this bond, knowing he was straight, knowing he wouldn't be able to handle it? Why couldn't he just be a good Kept, like Shiva had been, like Wren was? Why wasn't who he was enough?

By the time Tya made it to "hi, lover, how've you been?" all that came out was a bitter grumble.

"It's almost the end of the school year. We're going home soon. Why weren't you here with me?"

He had the guilty miserable pleasure of seeing Tya wince. "I didn't think you're want me to be," she admitted. Her hands were cradled over the swell of her stomach, over her daughter. Their daughter.

"Are you going to hold that over me forever?" he snapped. "I gave in, didn't I? I came here, I sleep in your room, in your bed. I'm with you. I act like a good boyfriend, like a good Kept, even when you..." Where had she been today? Not with Magnolia, who had vanished, not with Shiva. "You were with the cy'ree again," he accused.

"End-of-year party," she agreed. "People are graduating, we won't see them again for years, if ever. We wanted to see them off." "What about me?" he demanded, knowing he was being petulant and that only making him angrier. "I mean... I get to go home for a little bit this summer, don't I? And you were talking about going off with Mags and Shiva somewhere, and I get the feeling I'm not invited..."

Her face twisted in guilt. "Shit, Niki."

"Shit?" A lump was forming in his stomach. "You're not letting me go home? I have to stay here while you go off and play with your friends?"

"They're your friends too," she protested weakly. "No, no, lover… I know you don't like being my Kept…"

"That's not true!" he interrupted, almost shouting, the panic starting to clog his throat. "That's not true. I mean, there are things I don't like…"

"But those are part of being Kept, or part of being my Kept, or part of being Kept by cy'Linden," she answered patiently. "You like me, Niki, but only part of me. And that's not any fun for either of us."

"I'll be better! What do you want me to do?" He knew he was babbling, but he was growing scared, terrified. "I can handle it. You know I can. Tya - Tya, I need you. You know that. You like me needing you."

Tya patted his shoulder unhappily. "You need to not need me anymore, Niki. Everyone has to grow up eventually, you know that."

"No, no I don't! Why should I have to grow up? Some people stay Kept. Ardell's had Xaviera for two years. Ib and Callista…. Meshach and Joff? Come on, Tya, you can Keep me. I'll be better!"

"Honey, honey. You'd be miserable. You've been miserable. Keeping you longer isn't going to make this any better."

"It could. I could try more." Some part of him knew he was being ridiculous, knew that he wouldn't like it any more. He'd never be able to handle sharing her. But he had to try. "I'll be the best Kept you've ever had. I'll be the most patient boyfriend you've ever heard of. I can do it, Ty. You know I can."

Ty sighed. "Niki... the year's over."

"And, just like that, we're done?" he flared. "How is that fair? How is that okay? Things were finally going well!"

"Things get better for little periods of time, yes," Ty agreed. "You've been doing your best. But it doesn't take an empath to know that you're not happy with me the way I am." Ty smiled sadly. "And that, my poor little Nikita, is not something you can change. It's not something I can change."

You could. If you really loved me, you could change. Niki grumbled wordlessly. "We could... I don't know. Come to some sort of agreement? A settlement or something? We could work things out."

Ty shook his head slowly. "We could. Maybe. I'll tell you what, Nikita. When you are out of Addergoole, if you want to talk about some sort of relationship, I'll be open to it. I can give you that. But I've only got one more year left here, and you need that time to be free." He reached over and tapped Niki's chest gently. "I'm sorry, my lover, but you need to grow up a little."

"I don't want to," Niki whispered, the pain threatening to strangle him. "I don't want to wait. I just want you."

"I know, darling. But I release you."

Ty's arms enveloped Niki as he sobbed. In a momentary flash of clarity, Niki thought This. This is the closest we've been all year. Then there was nothing but more crying, and more loss. He would never have that again.



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