by Bluejuice (青液) (mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/186203.html)
Jonny Connolly was wearing a long black trench coat, an xkcd T-shirt, a pair of black Vibram FiveFingers, rectangular rimless glasses, and an overgrown ginger neckbeard. But Jonny seemed like a nice guy, if incurably dorky, so Ken averted his eyes and tried not to take any further notice of his… outfit.
Ken uncrossed his legs and shuffled the slipcovered cards again. The deck was ready to go, but Anjali was still in the kitchen helping Tink with the cookies. Bored, he tried out a fancy shuffling move he’d read about; one card flew out of his hands and landed near the Vibram-clad toes he’d been ignoring.
The owner of the Vibram-clad toes cleared his throat. “Hey, Ken, um, I, um–”
Ken turned his head and stared over at the kitchen, studiously pretending not to have heard. Jonny was an amalgam of everything he found irritating about nerd culture, but he didn’t mind so long as he didn’t have to talk to him. That was key.
Emma was sitting on her fold-out chair, and Thomas was next to her in the grass. He was leaning back on his hands and had his legs crossed at the ankles. They were laughing really hard, and Nicky wanted to know what the joke was.
Not that Emma was much to look at in his opinion, but she was a great mom, upbeat, and obviously knew how to make a man laugh.
Nicky felt stung. He could imagine her leaving her husband for Thomas; it’s what he would do if he were her. And Emma wasn’t the only one he felt jealous of when Thomas talked to her. There was Valerie, whose husband was English too. Thomas wasn’t as thick with her as he was with some of the other moms, but she looked stunning; worse, together they looked stunning.
Nicky watched Tommy walk off the pitch, and then, hand in hand with his father, walk away. The kid was tiny, didn’t look like his father at all, but he was a cute kid, and Nicky liked him, but getting along well with Tommy didn’t get him any closer to his father. Nicky sighed.
There wasn’t a barre in this studio, which wasn’t unusual, exactly, but it wasn’t something David was used to. He’d been inside a lot of studios over the last fourteen years he’d been dancing, though, and sometimes you had to make do. He dropped his stuff in a corner, amid a dozen other bags and packs, and skimmed out of his sweatshirt too. The sneakers stayed on, a pair of vintage Air Jordans he’d found in the Goodwill by his mom’s house, and that was probably the weirdest of all.
He shook it off, though; it wasn’t like he was the first ballet dancer to ever tackle a new dance style, or even the first one trying out for If You Know You Can Move. David found a spot in the back, near the open windows overlooking the mall’s courtyard, and planted his feet on the floor. He dipped into a series of grand plies, moving from First to Fifth with the kind of mindlessness only derived from repetition. Other students were stretching out too, in various stages of dress; David didn’t look out of place in his black shirt and grey sweats, but he was definitely the only one warming up in the classical style.
It wasn’t like it didn’t work, though, or there would be no point in doing it.
Dim light from the other camps filters through the thick plastic of my tent. I can hear other climbers moving quietly around, Sherpas walking from tent to tent, offering morning tea. The Khumbu Icefall groans quietly in the early morning, ice shifting as the glacier moves further from the summit of Everest. Even in a tent and a sleeping bag, the air has a bite to it. I can feel each ragged breath as it moves over my sore lungs. But down here, the air is thick. In a few days, I will miss the comfort of its weight in my lungs.
The training room’s high, vaulted ceilings were covered in black scorch marks that could have only been put there by a strong pyrokinetic’s going crazy; Daniel craned his neck back to trace the pattern of burns over the beams with his eyes, and was glad he wouldn’t go out in a firestorm.
No, he was a telekinetic; he’d bring the building down on his head. And maybe his new trainer had picked this room for just that reason.
“You’re just going to leave me out here? Just like that?”
Anthony rubbed his temples, leaning against the gate of his Queens apartment building.
Something metal grazed Anthony’s shoulder and clattered to the ground. It was an empty soda can. “Hey,” he said, frowning, too worn out to retaliate. “Don’t push it. We only agreed to fool around at my place—I didn’t say you could stay.”
He waited for the retort, but heard only a strangled sob and the patter of running feet against pavement. The silhouette grew smaller and smaller until it disappeared around the corner.
Anthony sighed and started to head back in, but stopped again. “Wait!” he called, dashing after the figure. “Hey, the train station’s that way!”
“Welcome to Sex Education. Now, if you’re expecting a class where you learn to put a condom on a banana and look at pictures of various sexually transmitted diseases in an attempt to scare you out of ever touching yourself for the rest of your life, you’re in the wrong room. If you’re expecting a class extolling the virtue of waiting until you’ve committed your life or until you can file for divorce to someone before finding out that you’re incompatible, you’re in the wrong class. If you’re expecting a class that will tell you nothing at all about the topic you’re studying and will expect you to have utterly no practical experience with it the rest of your life, you’re in the wrong class. If you have issue with everyone else in this class seeing your naked body contorted in pleasure, you’re in the wrong class. If you’re in the wrong class, leave now.” There was a pause as the teacher, Mr. Roche, waited. He leaned on the desk at the front of the room, a battered affair that had seen better days long before it started its career as a teacher’s desk. Five long minutes, he stared at the class, his light blue eyes piercing as they moved from student to student.
Never let people do favors for you. You just end up owning them in return. Owing people favors is what gets you saddled with an assistant, which leads straight to hell. Or in my case, to standing in the parlor of a country manor, debating the best strategy for emptying my seasick stomach. The planet we had followed good money to, New Victoria, was all islands. Colonists–no advanced life preexisted on it–thought boats were a fine solution to the inconvenient topography. In the house, the floral curtains made my spinning head dizzier and reminded me of nothing so much as the dresses I had to wear at the orphanage. Meanwhile my damn assistant made small talk with our client. After spending the morning on a ferry and a glorified dinghy, I defy you to come up with a better definition of hell.
“I want everyone to understand before we start that this is a friendly conversation,” said Clint, settling a yellow legal pad on his lap and pulling a pen from his shirt pocket. “Not an investigation, not an inquest, and definitely not on the record. Just a chance to get some things straight before any real shit-fan connection. We good with that?”
“Of course.” Dom nodded and folded his hands on his desk, just as he would any other day. “Mr. Rey?”
Eliot pushed his glasses up his nose and raised his chin just enough that Dom could see most of his face now; he hadn’t met Dom’s eyes this whole time, not even when they’d shook hands at the door and Dom had informed Clint that, yes, they were acquainted. “Friday, I found evidence that four young men in my sixth period English class had plagiarized a major paper. I gave the relevant information to Principal Harris, who supported my decision to give them failing grades on the assignment, which would have kept three of them from passing the class for the semester. Saturday evening, Cale Pitts — one of the young men — came to my home, requesting that I reconsider; I told him I’d speak with on school property, on school time. Monday, yesterday, I was called into her office before first bell and informed that I was being suspended pending an investigation. And now I’m here.”
The most important kiss of my life happened on a hot June night in Bangkok. In fact, it happened after my best friend got kicked out of our prom. And after he stopped speaking to me. And after I fucked the substitute English teacher. But maybe I should begin at the beginning.
Really, it was the unicorn’s fault.
He’s not cruising, not really. Hitting the big 3-0 does that for a guy. That digit clicks over and you realize that you don’t have one foot in the grave, okay, you’re still pretty fit and you’ve still got all your hair. Then you look around and the boys at the bars are getting younger and younger and they don’t understand when you make jokes about cassette tapes or wax nostalgic about 21 Jump Street and beer pong seems really juvenile and you realize, you are really getting too old for this shit, and you’d like to come home to a friendly face now and then.
Which is why Shane is at this bar, but he’s not cruising. And he’s got his eye on this cute little twink who’s melting into the wall.
“So then, what year did the Great Unification take place?”
“F– fourteen hundred. And fifty … sir …”
“Summer or winter?”
“N–neither–it was spring–early spring–”
“Ha ha, very good. Then, the Treaty of the Five Kingdoms?”
“Summer the same year–ah–Master Frest–”
“Who signed the treaty for the House of Quertis?”
“M–my honorable great … great-grandmother, the Duchess Maria Valia Quertis. Master Frest, please–”
“Very good, Winter. You may finish.”
Around three o’clockish on a Thursday in October, James Wellesley lay in an excellent specimen of a claw-footed Chatterham bathtub, where he slit his wrists and waited to die. Unfortunately, the desired cessation of existence was not so accommodating, and he was forced to climb out of the tub and don appropriate clothing when summoned for supper two hours later.