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Generated: Jul 17, 2021 5:37 AM
Post last updated: Feb 09, 2019 10:07 AM
it’s pronounced like ‘citwoi’
A Caden and a Zeke in Citrouille.
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A gigantic pumpkin - with large, vividly orange spider legs, raising it dozens of feet up into the air - had skittered towards him.

It’d been that sort of day.

It only takes a few seconds to reach him - it has long, horrible, eye-jarring legs, you see, they tend to assist in one’s locomotive endeavors - and it lowers itself, slowly, to the ground.

Caden takes a step back.

It shuffles forward, slightly, crushing a little bit more of the surrounding field of grain. Caden would’ve describe the motion as ‘eager’, if dozens of other adjectives hadn’t sprung to mind, like ‘terrifying’ and its host of synonyms.

The door springs open.

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“Oh, hell yeah, my roommate’s a cutie, score!” says the - man? boy? oddly buff and tall teenager? - within it. “I was worried that I’d get one of those guys who go for that whole ‘warlock’ aesthetic - like, skulls and chains are great, and all, but have you ever heard of this thing called ‘daytime’? And I totes appreciate the fact that you’re not wearing a shirt, I was debating it but then I decided I didn’t want to look too desperate, you know?”

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“... um. I’m, um, I’m actually shirtless because I’m in the middle of running away from the vampire that kidnapped me? The one who’s been keeping me captive? And I didn’t really have the time to properly pack?”

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“- oh, oh shit,” says whoever-he-is. “Shit, you’re the first circler who went missing a few years back - uh, that was super insensitive, talk about bad first impressions - do you wanna get in the pumpkin? The pumpkin is, like, super secure.”

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“I think that I’d very much like to have the faintest idea why I’m being spontaneously picked up by a spider pumpkin in the middle of my third escape attempt, first.”

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“Hell, you wouldn’t know that either, I guess - they’re the new transport thingy for Citrouille Academy, got adopted last year, and this is the start of a new semester.”

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“- I heard about that being in the works before I was kidnapped, I guess they went forward with it - doesn’t Citrouille mean pumpkin? Did they - they really decided to use spider-pumpkins to bring people to a place called ‘pumpkin academy’? That didn’t strike them as excessive dedication to the theme?”

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“I think it was, like, an upper management thing?”

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“- anyways - okay, I think I believe you,“ says Caden, stepping into the spider-pumpkin. “Please don’t turn out to be kidnapping me, I really do hate it when people turn out to be kidnapping me… um, I suppose I should introduce myself, then? I’m Caden.”

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“Zeke.”

The door autonomously closes, leaving the excessively orange interior lit by a mysteriously omnipresent glow; they feel a faint impression of movement, and Caden sits down on the C-shaped interior bench, on the side opposite of Zeke.

There is a moment of silence.

“So!” says Zeke. “That was, like, a total bummer, but I’m still super excited and you’re still super cute and, you know, yay! And I sorta rescued you from one of the bad vampires - I’m all fangy too, but in, like, a ‘super rigorous about consent’ kinda way - which is awesome! And we’re gonna be roommates and learn about witchcraft together and stuff, and it’ll be great.”

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“We are! I’m finding it a substantial improvement over being about to be recaptured!”

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“That has to have super sucked, I’d be really upset if I escaped from some asshole’s rape dungeon and then he was all ‘muahaha, I have you again, my pretty’ - he was draining you, right, not just using you to prune petunias and stuff?” 

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“... yes, he was.”

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“- do you have, like, trauma there, that I should avoid? I can totally never mention it again, if you want. Or I could go and murder him for you, I kinda wanna murder him, you seem great and he seems like he really hurt you.”

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“... I don’t particularly want you to kill him. Um, not that I would restrain you from doing it of your own volition? And you don’t have to talk around it, I don’t think, I came out surprisingly untraumatized.”

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“Cool. Let’s be friends.”

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Gosh, this sure is an enthusiastic person - with a physique that implies he’s been taking cherries of vigor, an inclination towards spontaneously offering to kill rapists, and a smile that looks like he’s trying to singlehandedly compensate for the sun being down with pure radiance -

“I’d be happy to.”

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“Great! Man, I’m, like, so high off endorphins right now, I’ve been waiting for this for months, I live in this tiny place you’ve never heard of and now I get to meet people, you know? Like, great people! With magic! I wish I could run around and hug a tree right now, except I can’t because, you know, pumpkin, but it’s still great and I can totally wait out the half hour and then do that on school grounds - school grounds! - the only school I’ve ever been to has, like a straw roof. Although it’s a pretty rockin’ roof! One time I got together with Cody - big guy from back home, you’d love him - and we had to get a cat down from it, the cat was all ‘mrow!’ and Cody was all ‘damn it!’ and -“

He continues on in that vein for a while.

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“ - and that was, like, the only time I’ve ever ridden a canoe without capsizing,” he concludes, “I’m really bad at canoes... hey, uh, how far does the ‘not traumatized’ thing go? ‘Cause you’re really cute and shirtless and I’m really restless and you seem kinda into me, and stuff? I can totally do push-ups instead, though.”

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Caden does, in fact, seem kind of into him; he’s been rather hanging off of his every word, even. He has spent a really long time without any pleasant company.

”I, um - you’re really pretty but could you - I don’t mind if you skim off the top of my heart and everything but I don’t think I want to be drained again, soon?”

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“- oh, hell no, that’d be - that’d be such a dickish thing to do -“

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“Okay, um, then we can totally have sex, you’re really pretty and charming and everything -“

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Zeke stands up, sits down next to him, and then: kissing occurs.

Other things, involving substantially fewer clothes, also occur.

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Caden vocally approves of these unspecified activities! 

 - it reminds him, a little, of the early days, before escape attempt number one, when he’d actually been pretty pleased with being kidnapped, but even back then it hadn’t been quite like this, there’d always been threatening overtones and he had liked the threatening overtones but then they’d turned into actual mass murder - he feels a little tendril of mixed emotion, at remembering the similarity, but it isn’t a particularly strong similarity, anyways, Nicholas had never been this - exuberant -

He wonders, briefly, if he would’ve been willing to spread his legs for a near-stranger, before - it doesn’t even really feel like an unusual request, now - but it doesn’t seem feasible, salvaging the person that he used to be, and he’s pretty sure going from sixteen to eighteen would’ve upped his sex drive, anyways -

But, recollections aside, he has a lovely time.

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Zeke is -

- an odd mix of ‘initially gentle’ and ‘enthusiastic enough about this whole process that he promptly instead resembles a jackhammer’ -

- really intensely into the fact that they’re having sex on what is technically school property -

- eventually finished, after about thirty minutes, having come to completion and lapped up the results no less than twice -

- a polite vampire, and accordingly disinclined to do more than skim a courteously minimalistic amount of life force off the top, or do any involuntary bloodsucking, although he does have to bite his own wrist a few times.

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Best roommate,” he enthuses, after he’s commenced aggressively enthusiastic post-coital snuggles and started hugging Caden to his chest as if the aforementioned is an unusually ambulatory stuffed animal. “Best friend? Best friend. You are totally my best friend now, so it is decreed. And we’re gonna have adventures together, and lots of sex, and stuff! Man, college is great, I was totally expecting it to be worse than this, Cody was all ‘you’ll prob’ly have to hire whores, bro’ and I was all ‘nah’ and I was right! I am totally always right and he is always wrong, that is definitely how anything works. Pay no attention to the lack of omniscience behind the curtain.”

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“Gosh, really?” says Caden, who is enjoying being snuggled like an overgrown teddy bar quite a bit. “I most certainly believe you, oh wise and noble sage. Do you have any kernels of dire wisdom to dispense?”

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“We’re snuggling! And this is important and great because you’re adorable and I like you,” he declares, with an added squeeze of snuggly punctuation.

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Caden is temporarily rendered unable to breathe. Caden doesn’t particularly mind. 

 

Pleasant snuggling continues on for several minutes, before the surrounding pumpkin lets out a pleasant chime.

You will be approaching your destination within ten minutes. Please make sure that you are presentable, and ready to promptly proceed.”

 

”... um, do they often have trouble with students having sex in the spider-pumpkins?”

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“Huh? - oh, ‘presentable’ - proooooobably? Like, vamps kinda have to be super promiscuous, and we’re, like, a third of the witch population, so there’s cultural bleedoff.” 

(He reluctantly stops imitating an unusually cuddly bear, and instead commences the process of pulling on underwear.)

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(Caden scoots obligingly to the side, and starts putting on his own selection of woven textiles. When someone - 6’6? taller than that? - and built like a bodybuilder - to the point that you’re pretty sure they’ve eaten from the Tree of Physicality and regularly pop cherries of vigor - starts doing something requiring full use of their range of motion, you get out of the way.)

 

”Huh. I was raised by a perfectly mundane assortment of people, personally, so I suppose I sort of missed out on - little cultural things, like that?”

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“It’s kinda a big cultural difference, I think? Like, some days normies just don’t have sex, even when they’re adults, it’s really weird - you didn’t even hear any ‘witches are sluts, hahaha, I’m super hilarious’ jokes?”

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“My childhood was pretty isolated - the little village that I lived in was worried about people exploiting me and didn’t want to hand me over for an apprenticeship, I mostly stuck around maybe three different houses - and of course I’ve spent the past two years in an even worse position to socialize? It is, I think, generally safe to assume that I haven’t heard any given joke.”

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“What happened to the anarchist who laid an egg? He hatched up a revolution.”

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- he takes a moment to get it, and then he bursts out into helpless giggling.

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“You’re so cute!” Zeke beams, in the process of buttoning up his pants. “I wanna cuddle you some more and tell you bad jokes, c’mere.”

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Caden obliges, still giggling.

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Then Caden can sidle on into his lap, and he can wrap his arms around him and rest his chin on his head and in general snuggle up, and he can spend the rest of the pumpkin ride telling terrible jokes. 

(He totally has an erection. He doesn’t seem to feel any urgent need to act on it.)

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Caden doesn’t mind the erection, actively enjoys the cuddling - there’s a popular stereotype that vampires are physically cold, but being heartless doesn’t much impede their circulation, and Zeke is accordingly warm - and continues giggling helplessly at terrible jokes.

 

The pumpkin door eventually pops open, with a prim, traditionally witchy woman standing on the other side.

”Hello!” she says, with a bit of a honey accent, smiling insincerely. “I am here to record your names, circles, and provinces of origin, and to assign you to your room."

"Oh, um - Caden Yuzu, first circle, the Land of Tea?"

 

The prim woman blinks.

"- I see. And you?" she says, addressing Zeke.

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"Ezekiel Blackberry, second circle, from the Land of Milk," he says, un-self-consciously continuing to cuddle.

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(Caden seems a little self-conscious about being on the lap of an attractive giant in front of other people, but not so much so that he removes himself.)

The witchy woman nods, and writes something inscrutable on some manner of clipboard.

"Thank you," she says. "Since you are both third circle or higher, you have both been automatically assigned to Allspice Hall - and, as you are the seventh pair assigned to that hall so far, you're in room seven. Very tidy, that way. Here are your room keys, and here are your pamphlets; all halls will have introductory meetings in five hours, and you are expected to attend. Please exit the pumpkin promptly, and do not forget any possessions you want to keep. Have a great day!"

She walks away, rapidly, smile fading into a scowl, the sound of high heels clicking on pavement fading into the distance.

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"Huh. Wonder what stabbed her with a penknife," Zeke says, playing around with his key in one hand and determinedly clinging with the other.

(It's a cute little key lime attached to a chain. Actual, non-punny keys would be entirely too normal to suit Citrouille, apparently.)

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"I imagine that she's having an unpleasant day - this is probably a really busy time of year for her?"

... he attempts to remove himself from Zeke's lap.

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Zeke doesn't seem to notice! He continues absently snuggling with his shiny new best friend and fiddling with his shiny new toy.

"I dunno. Some people are just sorta passively bitchy, you know? Knew this one guy back when I was ten, never went a day without hearing him complain about something - one time we went out to this creek together and I swear, he said ‘ew!’ a couple hundred times, I started asking him ‘what’s ‘ew with you!’ and he eventually shut up - I had a fling with the girl he was engaged to, later, though, so, uh, yay for petty disproportionate revenge, I guess? Man, I was kinda an asshole when I was sixteen, all my weird anecdotes from back then make me sound like a dick -”

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"- um, Zeke?" 

 

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"- yeah? Sorry, I talk over people when I start rambling, it's a bad habit and I'm still totally interested in what you have to say -"

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"I don't suppose I could get out of your lap and walk over to our dorm?"

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"- oh, shit, sure!” he says, removing the arm that had previously prevented this action. “I’m so sorry, you probably have, like, confinement trauma, and here I am being clingy and weird - and are you sure you don’t wanna go somewhere official and tell them to up their guard detail, first?”

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"Um. He’d, um, he’d have to be kind of arrogant to try to kidnap me, now that I’m in one of the best defended places in the Empire, and I know him well enough to think that he won’t? - but I should still almost certainly still tell someone important, you’re right,” says Caden, removing himself from Zeke’s lap.

“I suppose I’ll... go do that, and then head over to the dorm?”

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Wow he sure did fuck up this instance of social interaction uuuuuuggghhh okay its probably salvageable later -

“Sounds good. See you then?”

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Oh gosh that was so awkward aaaaaa -

 

“Um, see you then!”

Off he walks.

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Zeke spends an awkward moment in the pumpkin, waiting for him to get out of line of sight, and then grabs his luggage - which has been in the corner all this time in spite of being unmentioned by the narration - and tows it to his room. 

And then he can consult a map of the campus and stomp off into the woods. It’s a witch school; nearby flora was inevitable.

He spends a little while running around, tromping vigorously over assorted underbrush, and eventually encounters a particularly ugly tree. He spends a while snapping off branches and reducing them into successively smaller pieces. He can then go on to kick the resulting stump until it’s been reduced to shattered, scattered fragments of wood.

He doesn’t normally get this upset when he fucks things up, he fucks things up all the time, he - he’s too busy incoherently growling to introspect, right now.

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He is, eventually, capable of introspection, after having engaged in further arboreal battery. 

It occurs to him that there is, in fact, a reason why he would feel disproportionately upset about upsetting a powerful witch, after having had sex with that powerful witch. It doesn’t seem that likely, but - probably still worth a test? -

He tries growing a pumpkin - nothing fancy, just a generic, mildly magical pumpkin. Just barely sixth class, as goblin fruit goes.

The growing process takes about half a second, instead of the ordinary four, and he feels a faint sense of tapping into something other - like it is when he’s draining someone, but comfortable, easy, familiar, none of the tension or sense of strain.

 

Oh.

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Oh.

He’s - mated to Caden. That makes sense, because of course he would mate on someone adorable and great and soft and snuggly -

- and Caden doesn’t know -

His only interaction with him had ended badly, after a beginning in which he in-retrospect-pressured-him into sex, and the only condition Caden had placed on that sex was ‘don’t form a blood link with me’ - no, the specific thing had been ‘don’t drain me’, but ‘don’t form a blood link with me’ was an obvious extrapolation from that, that’s all blood links were good for - and now he was always going to be blood linked to Caden, that was what mating did, and he’d be draining him whenever he made the smallest goblin fruit -

He lets out a strangled sound, and runs towards the edge of the forest, and then to his room. 

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People don’t seem particularly perturbed by the fact that an obscenely-tall-and-broad-and-shirtless man is running through campus. Although he isn’t that unusual in either respect, really, so perhaps that’s predictable - maybe a third of the population seems enhanced to a fairly similar (or even greater) degree, most everyone has some physical weirdness going on, and there are ordinary reasons for someone to run from place to place.

 

Caden is there, when he reaches their shared room, lying down in his bed and looking at several folders worth of generic informational pamphlets; he seems to have either acquired or produced a shirt, and changed into different pants. He sits up, when Zeke enters the room.

” - um, is everything -“

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“I’m so sorry - I mated on you - please don’t be upset - can I hug you -“

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He doesn’t have time to contemplate the implications of that, someone is upset and he has the means to make them stop that -

“- yes -“

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The word ‘hug’ is, perhaps, less applicable than the word ‘tackle’.

Caden and Zeke are now both lying on the former’s bed, with Caden squeezed firmly into Zeke’s chest.

”I love you,” says Zeke. “I love you I love you I love you I’m so sorry you said you didn’t want a heart link and now we have a permanent heart link and I’m awful - I pressured you into having sex and then I pressured you into this hug and I’m awful except I can’t feel as bad about the hug because it’s making me feel better -“

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Caden cannot actually say ‘there, there, I’m not that upset, also a lot of your behavior is a lot less bizarre in retrospect with the mate bond as an explanation and I don’t think it makes sense to consider you culpable for it, and using the word ‘pressure’ for what you did seems kind of excessive’ while so thoroughly en-snuggled, at least if he doesn’t prefer that it come out as indecipherable gibberish. He settles for hugging back as tightly as he can.

(His thoughts quietly run through a little spiral- he hadn’t wanted a heart link, but a permanent one had different - connotations, implications - because an ordinary, temporary one didn’t come with corresponding personality alteration and fame - and he had to admit that he liked the idea, from a certain angle - but would he have liked it, before everything, before he spent two years being someone’s person-shaped toy? - he hadn’t wanted a heart link...)

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Zeke eventually feels emotionally stable enough to unhug. Slightly. Enough that Caden can talk, anyways.

 

 

“Uh, sorry about, like, dumping all that on you,” he says, angling his neck down so he can talk in Caden’s general direction. “Here you are, trying to cope with an emotionally difficult revelation, and here I am making it all about me, you know? If you want to vent or something feel free.”

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“Um! Um.

I think that my first priority is setting up some sort of nonverbal hug safeword, my second priority is reassuring you about the fact that you aren’t an awful person, my third priority is having a reasonable conversation about how all of this is going to work - whilst still snuggling, ideally, you’re attractive and reasonably thoughtful and nice and I do like snuggling you, even - or especially - when it makes it difficult to breathe - and that ‘venting’ doesn’t even really make it on the list.”

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- Zeke sporfles.

”I love you, you’re hilarious and great, I love you I love you I love you -“

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“... and I’m not totally sure how we’d implement a nonverbal hug safeword? It’s, like, mostly a Zeke thing, little bit a fangy thing when it’s physical, I get really drawn into whatever I’m focusing on and then I sort of - stop being the kind of person that can pay attention to subtle stuff?”

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“So saying ‘safeword’ would still work, but I’m probably incapable of doing anything similarly attention grabbing when you’re hugging me enough that I can’t speak - I suppose I can make something that lets us communicate telepathically, that seems like a sensible thing to have anyways, and it’d only take two weeks, I think. I can manage in the meantime... um, in more safeword-related news, how kinky are you, generally?”

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“How much should I worry about freaking you out?”

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“Um. I don’t think anything you’re likely to say is going to shock me? I spent the last two years in someone’s basement, he didn’t exactly confine himself to handcuffs and blindfolds.”

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“I still wanna kill that guy - so, uh, obviously I really like regular sex, but I also really like other stuff? ... I’m, like, totally fine with you having sex with other guys so long as I get to watch or participate. People being helpless is hot, so if you wanna do stuff with handcuffs and gags I’m definitely down with that. Watersports are hot. Public stuff - or stuff where there’s, like, an unusual chance of someone else walking in - is hot, and actually being watched while I fuck someone is hot? I’m not super into pain, but I kinda have to - hold back, if I don’t wanna leave bruises when I hug someone or have sex with them, and it’d be super convenient if you were masochistic? - I’m also pretty switchy, don’t think it’s gonna come up with you but it might come up if we have a threesome.”

(Caden can probably tell that he has an erection, during this monologue; he’s even sort of squirmy in a way that suggests he does, in fact, want to act on it, unlike his previous snuggle-erection.)

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(Caden, too, has an erection! He doesn’t have a vampiric sex drive, but he never did actually get around to completion, during their earlier romp.)

“I’m enthusiastically okay with all of those listed things! Done whenever you’d like, even - and you can in general feel free to leave bruises. Or break bones, honestly, I’m exceedingly masochistic and I heal really quickly.“

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“... okay, just checking, how much of that is because you’re just naturally super subby, and how much of it is leftover trauma and stuff?”

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“To the extent that my preferences have been changed, they’ve been - changed lastingly, I think - and I’ve always been really submissive - why?”

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“I would be really reassured if you expressed a preference, right now - I’m suddenly really concerned about your ability to consent and whether you’d, like, actually tell me? If I did something that you didn’t like.”

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“I want to make people happy. I want to make you happy, because I like you and you love me. I want to read more about this school’s available courses and clubs, and I want to join half a dozen of each. I want to grow something that’ll give me bunny ears, after I finish the telepathy - um, bracelets, I think they’d work well as bracelets - because I’ve wanted to do that for three years but I didn’t get around to it before I was kidnapped. I want to go to the library and haul back more books than I can carry, and then read them in your lap, because I like being in your lap. I want to have sex with you, and have sex with other people in front of you. 

My previously mentioned priorities - ‘having a reasonable conversation about our relationship’ and ‘reassuring you that you aren’t an awful person and that you aren’t going to accidentally abuse me’ - stand; are they going to have to wait for the telepathy bracelets, too?”

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Zeke slightly shifts his snuggling position.

 

”- no. No, we can have this conversation now. Sorry.”

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“... you keep going between ‘I’m going to treat you like a stuffed animal’ and ‘I’m going to feel guilty about treating you like a stuffed animal and incidentally dehumanize you’ - and I actually sort of like being treated like a stuffed animal, the safeword thing was mostly just because you were guilty about it and it seemed immediately pertinent - but the hypocrisy isn’t really endearing?”

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Damn it damn it damn it he’s ruining everything again -

 

“I - I love you. You’re my heart, that’s what you being my mate means, I didn’t have one but I have one now and it’s you and I love you? I - I can’t stand the thought of hurting you, or - I’m dealing really badly with all of this and I’m sorry. I don’t think that I can stop feeling guilty, or - I get really into things, I mentioned it before, and it makes it hard to remember that people are people - but I can try?”

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“I mostly just need you to try right at this very moment, I can handle you having traits that I don’t like, it’s just really frustrating here - so, um. Back to the point. Keeping in mind that I prefer to be treated as a person and not a ball of trauma, and that I prefer to be taken at face value about my preferences, I genuinely want to satisfy all of your kinks and have sex whenever you want to have sex - except during classes, maybe, I wouldn’t mind being occasionally absent but I wouldn’t want it to be a frequent thing.”

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The part of Zeke that’s going ‘but the part about how he wants me to take his preferences at face value could, itself, be best taken at something other than face value’ engages in a brief battle with the part of Zeke which is a supernaturally horny, unusually impulsive eighteen-year-old. The supernaturally horny section wins.

“... Uh. Does that mean we could have sex, like, right now?”

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“Yup! I’d say something like ‘but we’re continuing this conversation afterwards’, but I actually think that’s unnecessary, we’ve covered the obvious potential problems and can probably solve the rest as they crop up!”

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“And I can just, like, let loose? You wouldn’t even mind if I drank some of your blood? You’ll be totally fine with whatever I decide to do?”

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“- I’d prefer it if you didn’t take enough life force that I’ll be tired at the floor meeting, in three hours, but you can otherwise take as much as you’d like, I heal - and those other two things are definitely fine!”

(They aren’t, quite - there are definitely things that he could concievably decide to do which Caden would be distinctly non-okay with - but they’re unlikely to come up, and Caden has, at this point, learned enough about the Way of Zeke that he’s pretty sure that clarification would result in an apologetic guilt spiral.)

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(Caden is, in this respect, a wise, wise man.)

Zeke makes an inarticulate noise of happiness, rolls them both over, and entices a pot of dirt next to the bed such that it produces wooden handcuffs.

Predictable events ensue.

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Caden would like to apologize for the narration’s previous use of the word ‘jackhammer’. It was, in that case, hyperbolic.

It has become substantially less so.

This results in a stastically significant increase in rapidly healing bruises, incoherent moaning, gasping, vague pleased noises, and keening! Although the whole ‘face unceremoniously pressed into the mattress’ situation he has going on has a way of muffling it all.

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Zeke isn't paying much attention to statistical significance, alas! He is otherwise occupied.

Letting loose apparently includes ‘not politely pretending to have a refractory period’, alongside such standbys as ‘latching onto Caden’s neck and draining copious amounts of EXCESSIVELY YUMMY HOLY SHIT blood’ and ‘pounding Caden’s ass as if he’s trying to hammer through to the other side’.

 

Caden falls unconscious from life force drain about an hour in. It takes him about an hour and a half to finish.

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And then Zeke can undo the handcuffs, toss them in a corner, and: snuggles!

- he kind of came like twenty times, actually, so maybe snuggles can wait until after he makes another bed sheet and a mildly magical rag-weed to clean them up a little -

- okay but now he has to get Caden off the bed in order to change the bed sheet, and he looks so peaceful and cute -

- he spends about ten minutes contemplating the extent to which Caden is cute and staring at him intently, in which time Caden fails to wake up -

- he may have taken a little more life force than he initially intended, Caden’s blood tasted like it’d been mystically optimized for deliciousness at some point - oh crap wait Caden is totally going to be drowsy during the dorm meeting and that’d been, like, the only hard limit he’d set, ugh ugh ugh why can’t he ever just have a nice thing and not overdo it -

- on the bright side: that was the best sex he’s ever had, by a long shot? on the down side: he’s a dick and Caden is going to hate him forever -

- he takes Caden off of the bed they had sex on, puts him on the other bed in the room, takes off the sheets, puts new magically created sheets on, fixes the bed’s newly acquired cracks and the broken headboard with a newly created strawberry-of-instant-wood-repair, puts Caden back on the bed, wipes them both down with a rag-weed, and then: snuggles! Oh wait is snuggling with someone who’s unconscious weird, is Caden going to think that he’s a weirdo - well he can’t just stop, can he, Caden’s so warm and soft and great and perfect and understanding, and he’ll understand why Zeke forgot about the drowsiness thing, right? Right -

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Caden takes about an hour, after that, to wake up.

He yawns, shifts position a bit, and engages in sleepy nuzzles.

”... ‘m sorry for bein’ mean,” he says, after a few moments.

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This is not the response that Zeke was expecting. 

“... huh?” he says, eloquently.

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Sleeeeeeepy nuzzles. 

 

”... could’nt think a lot, could think a little,” he says, eventually, having gained a drop of coherence. “Thought about what I’d said. Shouldn’t’ve spect... expected, you, t’be perfect? You’re ‘nder loooot of stress. An’ I should’ve worded things softer. Sooofter. Soooooooofterrrrrrrr -”

He makes a vague disgruntled noise.

“Haaaaaaate being drowsy, haaaaate being drunk, bad life force drain tooooo drowsy-drunk. Droowsy-druuuung... unk. Uuuuunk.”

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... of course that’s what Caden would say, why is he surprised, Caden is sweet and good and perfect.

“If I get to use ‘stress’ as an excuse, you get to use it too, you know? - and I’m so so so sorry about the life force thing, I actually tried pretty hard to take as little as possible, but that’s still a little per-pint and I got - carried away - your blood is magically delicious, I wouldn’t normally guzzle it down like that, I had to get physically too full in order to stop and I didn’t even know that was a thing? I’ve totally tasted people with magical enhancements and they weren’t that good, and I feel like someone would’ve, like, mentioned it? If it were a mate thing? - I, uh, kinda had sex with you while you were unconscious, for a while, I literally couldn’t stop. So you know.”

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”... didn’ know, would’ve old - told you, was prooobably Nicholas? That’s the name of the guy who kidnap me. Kidnapped. Kidnaaaaaaaped. Apt.”

 

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Zeke acquires a vivid mental image of some generically evil-looking vampire forcing an incidentally-chained-up Caden to swallow some generically evil-looking berry, smirking, biting into his neck and fucking him into unconsciousness, just like Zeke just had - he spends a few seconds wondering if the regeneration’s also kidnapper-derived, wondering if that’s how Caden can confidently report that he can tolerate broken bones, before his internal screaming tells his visual imagination to sit down and shut up -

And of course Caden hadn’t known the details, of course he would’ve mentioned, because Caden is, as previously mentioned by the completely unbiased narrator who definitely wasn’t just representing Zeke’s internal monologue, sweet and good and perfect -

 

“I am going to murder him,” says Zeke, narrowly refraining from adding on unsavory details about how he’d like to murder this ‘Nicholas’ fellow. 

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Caden notes that Zeke actually seems serious, this time. 

“... ‘e’s all vampy, ‘n witchy. Won’t stick. Ick. Iiiiiick. An’ ‘e’s old, six ‘undred and fifty, gonna pass on ‘n a decade ‘nyways,” he declares, sleepily, making a vague gesture with his less-snuggled arm.

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Still. Gonna. Murder. Him.

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Caden makes a droopy, ineffective attempt at patting Zeke on the back, and curls up closer.

“We all need ‘obbies... hobbiezzzzzzz...”

 

It only takes a minute or so for his breathing to become quiet and even and slow, and for him to fall asleep,

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Zeke spends the next thirty minutes vacillitating between murderous rage, guilt, contemplation of the fact that Caden probably doesn’t hate him and is also adorable and perfect, and a strong, yet still ignorable desire to resume fucking Caden’s unconscious form and drinking his blood! It was so ridiculously delicious, and they’re both still naked, and Caden’s ass is right there, he’d just have to move his hand down a little and he could squeeze it...

And then he checks the time.

 

”Uh, Caden?” he says, withdrawing a bit. “The floor meeting’s in, like, five minutes, do you wanna try to go? It’s super understandable if you wanna stay, I don’t think they’re gonna get too dickish if we stay behind and then explain, and you’re probably still really tired, and it probably isn’t a good idea for you to push yourself? But we can try it if you want.”

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Caden takes a few moments to flutter back into awareness, but he does seem substantially more alert than when he previously woke up.

”... um, I’d like to apologize again for being sharp with you, this time with added coherence - I could spend an H.F. on getting back to speed, but it seems sort of frivolous, when I’ll be fine in an hour? - are you quite sure that you can’t just go without me, I don’t think that I can walk?”

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“I’d totally end up running out in the middle of it to see if you were okay - could I carry you?”

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“... it was dreadfully silly of me, in retrospect, to think that I could schedule classes separately from you instead of copying your schedule, I do hope that we have compatible tastes. And am I correct in sensing some manner of ulterior motive?”

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“Nope! My motives are totally pure as the driven snow, and I am totally not just trying to publically flaunt our relationship, like, at all. Your motive detector must not be working right.”

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“Alas! Next thing you know, I’ll be approached by some manner of bridge salesman, and he’ll swindle me out of my nonexistent fortune in return for two trolls and seven goats - and, um, since I’m actually okay with being carried around, we should almost certainly start dressing -“

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“The goats have rabies, and the trolls have fleas, so you can’t even, like, resell them, you’re just totally screwed over - but right, clothes! Clothes are definitely a thing. I kinda ripped the old ones to shreds - but we have this thing of dirt, and I hear that we can use those for all sorts of stuff.” 

He coaxes the dirt into producing a cute little pine tree, which promptly uses its needles to weave two shirts, pants, and sets of underwear: the pine tree promptly dissipates. Zeke de-snuggles, gets out of the bed, tosses Caden his appropriately sized textiles, and starts the process of anti-stripping.

(He’s maybe making the whole thing more slow and sexualized than it has to be, but not by that much, they’re actually pretty low on time.)

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Caden is momentarily really distracted by the sight of Zeke’s reverse-stripping - it’s one thing to have someone fuck you into unconsciousness, and another thing entirely to actually look at them. And he still hasn’t gotten off - the pain and anal stimulation had almost been sufficient, but Zeke hadn’t exactly optimized for his prostate -

He does still manage to wiggle into his clothing, after some delay. 

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Zeke can tell precisely how distracted Caden is, and he finds it adorable - scoop? 

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Scoop!

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And then he can finangle the door open, and they can walk down the hall!

(There are posters on the wall, advertising that the hall meeting is in the common lounge, and the common lounge is right there. It isn’t a very long walk.)

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Or it wouldn’t of been, at least, if they hadn’t been interrupted.

A door to one of the rooms slams open, in front of them: a tall, thin, dark-haired, winged woman storms out of it.

”You’re a liar, a creeper, a cheater, a freak!” says a small, blonde woman, the other’s opposite in every physical respect, storming out after her while holding a bottle of wine. “You got no self-respect, no respect for me, no respect for anybody! You gonna waltz in on my space, and you gonna -“

“It is over, Barbara,” says the winged woman. “It has been over. I was merely returning your -”

”Don’t. Get out! Get outta here! Don’t go back in my hall again, bitch!”

”I see no need to ever return, and suffer again this unjust -“

The unwinged woman hisses, in the way that’s ordinarily reserved for snakes and cats and goblin-fruit derived snake-cats, and the winged woman huffs, walks past Caden and Zeke, and stomps down the stairs.

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... Caden is disinclined to interact with these two people in any way!

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Zeke agrees wholeheartedly.

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Too bad; the unwinged woman - Barbara, presumably - notices them, and lets out a little snort.

Happy new couple, right? Lemme give you a piece of advice - if they ain’t treatin’ you right, tell ‘em to fuck off, and tell ‘em fast. Hurts too much, if you do it different.”

She raises the bottle of wine, as if to toast this proclamation, and takes a deep, angry swig, before casually tossing it into her room, where it clatters. She gestures in the direction of the lounge.

”C’mon, kids; mommy’s got a floor meeting to run,” she says, stomping in the direction that she’d gestured at.

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“She’s totally our dorm supervisor, isn’t she.”

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“Um. Yup.”

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“Fun.”

And then, after a mildly awkward pause, Zeke continues walking into the lounge. 

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Barbara is sitting down on a stool, and there are about twenty other people, scattered throughout rather rest of the room. It seems overdone in about the same way that the dorm’s rooms are - lots of space, large furniture, hardwood floors and plush carpets, more leather and fur and intricacy than seems strictly necessary, oodles of house plants and porcelain pots containing plain dirt.

She steels herself, and applies a patina of excessive cheer.

”Hello! I’m your supervisor, Barbara die Weintraube; I’m ‘ere to welcome you to Citrouille Academy, because the imperialistic bastards who pay my salary decided to standardize witchy education, and because they don’t want you to get blood on the carpet when you kill each other. Lost cause, if y’ask me, but who cares. So! Introduce yourselves, don’t give a shit what order you do it, ‘n tell us whatever the fuck you want.”

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... Zeke sits down, positions Caden comfortably in his lap, and declines to be the first to speak.

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People continue declining to speak for several moments.

 

And then, from one of the many men in the room who’s taken the dress code’s pointed lack of commentary on shirtlessness as an invitation -

“I am Daiam Nârengi, third circle vampire, from the Land of Coffee; I am going to personally ensure that you are fired from your current position.”

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Barbara laughs.

“Good luck with that, doll,” she says, once she’s subsided to the occassionally giggle. “Good luck with that! Goblin-gods, got us someone with a sense ‘a humor, ‘ere, don’t we, should liven the place up!”

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“Thank you,” says Daiam, calmly.

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There’s another awkward pause.

 

”Um,” says a blonde girl, perched awkwardly on a chair. “My name is Julia. I dO NOT LIKE CONFLICT. And I like eating. And sleeping. And board games. And music. Um...”

She spends a few moments fidgeting, and then abruptly points towards someone semi-randomly selected.

“I REALLY HATE AWKWARD SILENCES OKAY YOU CAN GO NEXT AND CHOOSE SOMEONE ELSE WHEN YOU’RE DONE. PLEASE.”

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She’d pointed to the other vampire that had mated to their roommate, this morning, and who’d received a vague ‘we think that the spider pumpkins select for compatibility’ when he’d started menacing a secretary about how unlikely that was. He’s rather covered in swirls of blue tattoos, trailing down from his cheeckbones, to his chest and abdomen, to less visible regions, and he seems to have considered wolf’s ears and a wolf’s tail aesthetic enough to acquire.

“An interesting idea,” he says. “I might even go along with it. Alexander die Zitrone; I mated to my lovely, Jamie, this morning. And I can introduce the most relevant trait of my mate on his behalf; anyone who touches him without my consent is going to spend the next several hours most unpleasantly, and then they are going to die.”

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“... I also dance,” says Jamie - sitting close to Alexander without actually touching him, possibly as some sort of negotiated concession - while gesturing vaguely towards -

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- a woman, in a wooden wheelchair, sprouting flowers from both the wheelchair and her hair.

These little introductions are fascinating. She’s already started sorting her recently-obtained information into mental files - this lever to push, that lever to pull - like she’s a spider, and people are obediently handing her all the webbing she needs to wrap them up or let them fly - and she isn’t so keen on handing other people the threads they’d need to ensnare her, since she can already fly just fine -

“Della,” she says - quietly, oh so quietly, in the tone of someone who others strain to hear. “I can count the petals of a flower I picked when I was six.”

She taps the person next to her on the shoulder.

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- who rolls her eyes, and holds up a piece of paper.

 ‘Am Amaris Banane,’ reads the paper, in elegant calligraphy. ‘No speech, difficult writing, prefer not to use goblin fruit to compensate. Also think that pointing/gesturing is bad solution; go clockwise from here, skip over people who already went, instead. Easier.’

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The fellow in that direction from her, sprawled out casually on an oddly placed recliner - whose aesthetic decisions seem to include ‘having skin made entirely out of metal’ - snorts.

”Guess I get the baton, huh? I’m Sandy, if you use my last name I’m gonna to punch you in the face, if you fuck with me I’m gonna punch you in the face, if I fuck you I’m gonna punch you in the face. Any questions? No? Cool.”

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“Oh, honey,” sighs the woman leaning against a wall, to his right. “I’m about to blush. Save that talk for the wedding party.”

She turns to address a broader audience.

“I’m Henrietta Peach, second circle vampirette, Land of Milk, just pleased as punch to meet you all.”

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“... hi,” says the next person to go, smiling awkwardly. “I’m Summer Sagwa... I don’t know what to say. Sorry. I’m very boring.”

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“Marcus Ananas, also very boring.”

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“Marcus, darling, I think that you lose the ability to call yourself ‘boring’ when you paste someone’s furniture to the ceiling within five hours of getting to college- and I’m Melvin Jangmi! I actually consider myself intensely interesting - you may have read my paper on the influence of blue-tilting on the efficacy of healing fruit - everyone knows that goblin fruit tend to be more efficacious when grown in particular configurations and shapes, people tend to acquire an instinct for it over time, half the reason we’re going to school is to acquire a systematized understanding of the rules governing goblin-fruit-potency, but nobody actually knows the underlying rules, not in any concrete format - it’s more artistic than scientific, most days, and that is fixable, so any hint at a concrete, formalized, practically applicable formula is rather exciting.”

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“Salutations,” says the woman next to him, it being her turn. “Call me Leah. I did read that paper, and it was as abominable and poorly thought out as an octopus painting with nine legs and ten eyes - your p-values were high, your conclusion was excessively strong, and you were obviously operating off of preconcieved notions of mathematical regularity instead of actually formulating a hypothesis by looking at the data -“

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“Leah, dear, you know that my conclusions were perfectly justified - just because they disagree with your outdated paradigms of inherent mystery -“

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“Your ‘conclusions’ were as inherently justified as someone who murdered their grandmother because she forgot to pass the salt, and my models acknowledge an element of inherent randomization that your models completely neglect -“

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“- so!” interrupts sole male redhead in the room. “Not that the kinky nerd foreplay isn’t sexy as fuck, but I’m going to have to interrupt. I’m Bradley Jojoba, and I’m suuuper interested in whether the mated couples in the room are poly, because damn, talk about sex appeal? Not that I don’t want to shoot the breeze with the unmated guys in the room, but priorities first.”

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“I,” says Alexander, “am going to fuck whoever I want, and I may or may not let someone else fuck my lovely, if they beg very, very prettily.”

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“See, I would contradict that statement, but it turns out that my mate is a dick, and I’m pretty sure he would do something serious and regrettable if I actually followed through. And keeping it a secret would be impossible, given that Empire law makes it explicitly legal for mated vampires to constantly accompany their mates, and vise versa, and since my mate is a dick, he intends to exploit this fact. I nevertheless do not acknowledge him as having any genuine authority over my movements or actions.”

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“You’ll learn to love being kept and protected and adored, my lovely,” says Alexander, moving a hand and petting Jamie’s hair.

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Jamie doesn’t physically react to this in any way, barring a shift in facial expression.

”Fuck you.”

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Alexander says nothing, and continues petting him.

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Barbara, having been previously engrossed in wallowing in self pity, actually bothers looking in their direction. She looks... different. More serious, more composed, less ‘drunkard’ and more ‘powerful witch’.

 

“... Jamie, doll? Tell me if you ever want ‘im dead or out of the picture, for a while. I’m a first circler, I am, and I have experience in killing pricks.

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Jamie smiles.

“I don’t want him dead or out of the picture,” he says, “yet.”

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Alexander removes his hand.

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“Uh,” says Zeke, eventually. “That was definitely a thing. Not super sure how to react to it? Man, I thought that my thing with Caden had a dysfunctional start - I’m Zeke, and I’m fine with Caden having sex with other guys so long as I’m there with him, and I don’t think we talked about when he’d be comfortable with me having sex with other people?”

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“Um, hello, I’m Caden! - and I don’t think that I mind? I might want you to avoid drinking blood from other people, but not if it’d be a serious inconvenience, it’d just be nice to have something - private?”

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“I think that anyone else’s would be, like, super unsatisfying, now,” says Zeke. “No problem.”

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“... not gonna touch the creepy possessiveness shit with a ten foot pole or with my dick,” he says, gesturing at Alexander and Jamie, “but that was adorable and I wanna have a threesome with you.”

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“... I would also have some interest and some stake in such activities,” says a man wearing entirely too much gold. “Provided I may taste of you. I am Nathaniel.”

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“Dude, like, honestly, same,” says the fellow next to him, elbowing him and sitting more upright. “Though I’m not a vamp, so we prob’ have different meanings of ‘taste’ in mind? - I’m Trevor.”

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“Do not touch me.”

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“Sure.”

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“ - I have a staring contest with the eternal void penciled in for six, an appointment with my inner demons penciled in for seven, a slow descent into the throes of madness penciled in for eight, and I still don’t know whether I’m going to use up my guest pass on my lack of self esteem or my untamed self loathing! I’d like to get a move on. I’m Winnifred - do let’s get this nonsense over with and then bring on the wild orgies, shall we? You!” she says, staring intensely at one of the people who haven’t spoken yet. “Tell the class your name and your first pet. Was it a chicken? You look like the sort of person who should have a pet chicken, I bet it was named Bertha.”

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“It’s bloody well time, kept waiting for a chance but everyone kept blabberin’ on about their cocks, I at least keep my wankin’ in private - and nay, actually, I prefer my chicken plucked ‘n charred, thank you kindly. I had a turtle, and then a wolfdog, and then I didn’t have a turtle for very long. An m’name’s Reagan.”

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“That’s so sad,” says Winnifred, unconvincingly. “My poor, itsy bitsy little heart, it breaks - the woe! - the pathos! - the existential crisis on the nature of consumerism! - now, girl with that fabulous outfit, tell us all about how much you played with dolls when you were little.”

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“I refuse to participate in this fundamentally imperialistic farse,” she says. “The Empire may take my homeland, may take my life, may bind me in chains of indoctrination disguised as academia, but it cannot take - ”

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“Thank you for your valuable contribution, Brenda, that will be all.”

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“... my name is not -“

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“Nope! End scene, cut, cut, cut!” she says, gesticulating, “The lighting’s all wrong, the choreography, god, the choreography is a flaming mess, and I could wipe my ass with acting better than that. You need passion, Brenda, passion! You’ll nail it, next time, I just know it, you’ve got glitz and glamor in your veins, but that’s the end of today’s take and that is final!”

She leans forward, towards the last remaining introduct-ee.

“Tell me, honeybunches, what’s your name and why are you wearing that godawful shade of olive?”

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“I’m Lucinda, call me Lucy... and Winny, you told me to go for this outfit. You said that it would go well with my complexion.”

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“I’m sorry, Lucinda, I just can’t take any more of your excuses. We’re over, finished, through! Goodbye!”

She rises to her feet, flings her hand over her eyes with a gasp, and falls back down on the good-god-why-does-this-lounge-have-so-many-sofas, seemingly in a dead faint.

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“My name is Fran,” says, evidently, Fran. “Although I wear that name not with pride, but as a badge, screaming with the pain of my people, and the oppression of their cultural heritage. I do not know what just happened.”

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“I am also SO CONFUSED,” says Julia.

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“Ain’t that just the human condition?” says Barbara, quietly. “Wallowin’ in the mud and the murk, ‘till you can’t wallow no more, and then wallowin’ some more, because nobody gives a fuck about you and your self pity... Floor meeting’s over, kids. Do whatever the fuck you want, I’m gonna go drink away my sorrows.”

She gets up, strides over to her room, and closes the door behind her with a thunk.

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This cues a general dispersal from the room.

 

“I do not participate in orgies,” says Daiam, to Caden, once only a limited number of people remain. ”Meet me at the campus coffee shop, at seven, tomorrow; bring your mate. Wear blue, or grey.”

And then he leaves.

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“Sex with those who are not vampiric, or from whom I will not drink, I do not have; I will find you tomorrow,” says Nathaniel.

And then he, too, leaves.

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That leaves Bradley, Caden, Zeke, and Trevor - and, not to be forgotten, the unconscious form of Winnifred.

 

Bradley stands, walks ever so slowly over, and looks down at Zeke.

”I’m not totally off base in thinking that he’s really subby, right, he’s really subby? And you’re - dom, switch, vanilla?”

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“He is in fact super subby - and I’m, like, a switch? And into general helplessness and public stuff both ways, watersports as a dom, orders and name-calling as a sub - and I’m pretty rough when I’m being dommy? Safeword’s ‘red’ - Caden, do you, like, wanna have a safeword that isn’t ‘safeword’, I’m kinda expecting that you don’t.”

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“Um... you would be... right?”

(Caden’s internal monologue is currently occupied by ‘!!!!!!’; please leave a message after the tone.)

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Bradley leans down, rests his hands of Zeke’s knees, and spends a minute or two whispering into Caden’s ear. 

 

The specific details of his monologue have been redacted, for the comfort of the reader.

He draws himself back up to his full height, crosses his arms, and stares, down his nose, at Caden.

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... Caden nods, slowly.

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“Good. Don’t speak, don’t move, don’t overthink things, obey. Zeke, bitch, porter, and degenerate of the evening, carry him; Trevor, pathetic piece of shit that I nevertheless tolerate, follow.”

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Zeke carries him!

(One gets the impression that his tail would be wagging, if he had one. College is great! He loves everything and especially loves Caden, Caden is soft and perfect and the way he’s quivering slightly and turning red is so cute -)

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Trevor - whose barbed tail was concealed while he was sitting down, and is now visible - actually is wagging his tail. He follows.

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A sexually satisfying time is had by all! 

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(Zeke and Trevor both get to piss on Caden and both of them seem really excited about having the opportunity, Caden and Zeke both get tied down and edged into incoherence - Trevor and Bradley are both really good at giving oral sex - Trevor and Bradley get to receive oral sex, from Zeke and Caden, and then switch partners and fuck them from behind - Trevor seems really into slapping Caden around for minor errors in technique and it’s not super Zeke or Bradley’s thing but it’s still pretty hot, given how obviously into it Caden is - it comes up that Caden is the only person here who still has a substantial refractory period, and this is temporarily fixed, and then Caden can be tied down and blindfolded and the other three can each have at him from a different angle, and then they can switch positions, and switch positions again - Trevor is also apparently into literally choking people with his cock while sucking them off, which is, again, not really Zeke’s thing, but’s still pretty sexy, Bradley and him can both jerk off on the sidelines while he’s doing it - and of course Bradley keeps up a steady stream of invectives and orders and degrading monologues throughout the entire thing -)

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And then they are not having post-coital snuggles, as a group, because Bradley isn’t really the physically affectionate type, but Zeke and Caden and Trevor can have post-coital snuggles and Bradley can sit a companionable distance away.

He tolerates this situation for a few minutes, and then:

”Do you guys wanna have dinner together at the Allspice Cafe? We get our own cafeteria and shit and it has, like, steak, I went there for lunch and I wanna go there again.”

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“Nah, bro,” says Trevor. “Have a thing I need to get to, gonna have to run in like ten minutes.”

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“And I keep getting distracted by sex, but Zeke and I should probably have a private-ish discussion about our schedule and everything, classes start in two days and I’d like to file my course requests soon - um, we could get breakfast as a group, tomorrow?”

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“Works with me.”

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“Same,” says Trevor, detaching himself from cuddles and beginning the process of pulling on assorted articles of clothing. “See you guys then?”

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Bradley impolitely ignores the voice in his head - he calls it ‘Greg’ - whispering about how them not wanting to go for dinner with him means that they hate him. What sort of voice do you think you are, anyways, Greg, don’t you have any better hobbies, or are you just a pathetic shadow on the wall, dripping malice and spite like a worm drips shit, waiting for some fairy godmother to drag you to a ball and give you a life - 

He puts on his underwear, and then his pants; he’d ripped off his shirt at some point, and he isn’t going to bother growing a new one right this minute. Witchy psuedo-nudity norms were the best.

“Sure! See you then, bitches.”

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“See you then!” agrees Zeke, continuing to happily snuggle with Caden.

 

Both Trevor and Bradley leave.

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Snuggles!

And then, after a few minutes -

“Well, that was an adventure.”

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“I know,” beams Zeke. “I said that we would have awesome adventures and we’re totally having awesome adventures! I am psychic.“

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“Oh, well, okay then, I wish you’d mentioned earlier, this is dreadfully important - oh, wise psion, I beseech you, what am I thinking of?”

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“... ‘rutabaga’,” declares Zeke, seriously.

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Caden lets out an overwrought gasp.

”Oh, no! However shall I cope in the absence of privacy. We may have to amputate, doctor - wait, um, no, that doesn’t make sense, sorry -“

Permalink Mark Unread

“No, it works, you just gotta run with it - no, nurse! I don’t want to amputate my telepathy gland, it has sentimental and practical value!”

Permalink Mark Unread

“But think of the ethical implications, Zeke. You’ll have to get a prosthetic telepathy gland, and the company that makes those discriminates against Lassian workers!”

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“Drat! Ethical implications are my one weakness.”

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”Poison? Disease? Fire, ice, acid, cold? Storms, arrows, swords, sparrows?”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Those are weaknesses, yes, but not my one weakness! My one weakness gets, like, VIP parking. And free donuts. And a slightly larger Christmas bonus!”

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VIP parking? Zeke, I thought that what we had was special.”

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“It is! You are my mate. That is much better than VIP parking. I can make you pancakes and carry you to dorm meetings!

Permalink Mark Unread

“I do like pancakes... hmm. Do my mating privileges extend to kissing you?”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Yes. Yes, they do.”

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They’re already pretty thoroughly snuggled up. He just needs to lean forward and upward, like - so -

Kiss. 

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!!!!!!

... this is actually their first kiss. 

It is the best kiss ever.

Love love love love love love -

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They do, eventually, need to break away. After several minutes.

 

”... I love you.”

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He takes a moment to process that.

And then - exclamation points cannot contain his excitement. He cannot contain his excitement. The words ‘beam’ cannot contain his excitement.

”Love you too love you too love you love you,” he says, hugging Caden tight enough to leave arm-shaped bruises and drawing them both up, so they’re sitting upright. “My heart my heart my heart my heart love you forever and ever and ever -“

Kiss. 

Permalink Mark Unread

Kiss!

Kissing for the next hour, even, punctuated by occassionally pulling away and breathing and occasionally running their hands over each other, tracing out each other’s curvatures, and on one occasion punctuated by Zeke de-snuggling in order to do backflips and cartwheels and spontaneous calisthenics. 

At the end of the approximate hour:

”- um, we should probably be responsible and talk about the scheduling, now. What are you signed up for?”

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“- oh, shit, right, you wanted to talk about that - uh, so you read the pamphlets, you know that even though they dress this place up like a college the way everything’s structured is really weird, you won’t look at me like I’m crazy if I mention that ‘networking’ is our only required class?”

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“I managed to get my ‘everything here is bizarre’ moment over with when that woman handed us key limes instead of keys - and I did see that, it took me several moments to realize it wasn’t euphemistic and that they actually did want to stick everyone in each floor into a room together, for an hour, thrice a week -“

Permalink Mark Unread

“I know, right? - and the thing where it mentioned that the average class to professor ratio is two, and that the maximum class size is three, except for ‘networking’ and stuff that’s inherently team-based - and the thing where nothing has any homework, you just straightforwardly spend three hours a week per credit hour in class -“

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“It’s all really strange! - so, your classes?”

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“Lineball, wrestling, mass mixed martial arts, hiking, calisthenics, weight lifting, dog training, networking - I really need to be doing physical or social stuff basically all the time, I’d be super miserable in a regular school - I might be able to do, like, really aggressive abstract painting, or something presentation-y?”

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“... well, see, now I’m actually really curious how you’re only as ridiculously bulky as you are, if those are your primary hobbies.”

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“I mean, part of it is that muscles get sort of - denser, harder, more constantly tense, instead of being bigger per se, after a certain point, and also I’m 6’8...”

Permalink Mark Unread

“I did notice that you weren’t just flexing for my benefit, after a little while. I get the sense that there’s an ‘and’?”

Permalink Mark Unread

“- okay, so, all of that is true, and that could totally explain my build and activity level, given that I’ve eaten from the tree of physicality and take cherries of vigor but haven’t taken any permanent strength-specific enhancements, but I’m also - preemptively sandbagging, kinda? I spent six years when I was younger cultivating a berry that’d keep me from ever being tired, and I spent the last six years working on something to make me stronger. And I’m gonna take it right before the first match of mass mixed martial arts, because I finangled my opening match so it’d be me against this dick who used to bully me and probably gave me my bullying kink -“

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“- you have a bullying kink? And didn’t mention it?”

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“- it’s weird, right, isn’t it weird. I shouldn’t get off on shoving people into lockers and giving people noogies, I didn’t wanna mention it - I’m kinda less uncomfortable with some of my stuff than I should be and I really wanted you to like me -“

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“I love you. We can make a locker that folds up, put it in a corner, and add in miscellaneous features. You mentioned watersports, helplessness, and publicity, earlier, and didn’t mention - bullying - were you leaving anything else out, that you feel comfortable telling me now?”

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... oh, right, he’d forgotten that Caden is perfect, he keeps doing that.

”I love you too - uh, when Trevor was doing stuff, earlier, I was - more into the hitting and the breathplay, than I thought I’d be? We - might wanna experiment with those? And, uh, I like... rape scenarios? And gang rape scenarios? I - part of why I freaked out when you said ‘whenever you want’, earlier, is because - I liked the idea of just surprising you with the rest of the lineball team and tying you up and pissing on you and taking turns while you begged us to stop, I liked it too much -

Permalink Mark Unread

“... how realistic is that scenario?”

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“... maybe not with a whole team? But probably most of one, male vampire-regulation lineball isn’t the sorta sport you play if you’re subby or vanilla and vampires are reeeeeal sex-obsessed.”

Permalink Mark Unread

 

“Tell me more?”

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“Getting the impression that you also don’t know the rules of regular lineball - so, whole thing is played on a square field, with four lines drawn on it? There are eight players on each team, and there are two players from each team in each section. There are also lines at the two ends; they’re the end zones. One team starts with the ball on their side, you get a point by having someone in an end zone catch it; you can move the ball by kicking it or throwing it or whatever, but you can only pass it to people in other lines, not to people in your line. And you stop people by tackling them? And everyone wears these weird little color-coded shorts, and nothing else? 

- and the main difference between ordinary lineball and vampire-regulation is that, in ordinary lineball, the player that made the catch, and one person of their choice from the opposite team, spend the rest of the game sitting out, and in vampire-regulation they all get to have sex with a volunteer or a prostitute.”

Permalink Mark Unread

 

“I think that I know how to render one aspect of our schedules compatible!”

Permalink Mark Unread

”I kinda thought that you would say that! I love you and I love that idea. Not sure how to do the other stuff, though, I don’t think you wanna do most of it...?”

Permalink Mark Unread

“- um, to what extent is the thing ‘I need to be around’ and how much of the thing is ‘I need to be involved in the same thing that you’re doing’? I’d ideally want to avoid you dropping any of your classes, I want you to do what makes you happy.”

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“It’s - I wouldn’t need you to be actively lifting weights with me, in weightlifting, but I’d need to be able to talk to you, whenever I had a spare moment, and I’d probably talk to you a ton. So visible wouldn’t cut it, but - accessible, would?”

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“- could you tell me more about what the day to day of these classes looks like? I mostly didn’t spend time in the related section of the course catalog...”

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“Wrestling’s mostly, like, actual wrestling, and sometimes watching other people wrestle? Mass mixed martial arts varies between, like, fencing, actual sword fighting, boxing, and that kinda stuff; both are super big classes. Hiking’s about traveling weird places and hiking, it meets nine hours on Sundays instead of an hour and ten minutes each non-Sunday. Calisthenics involves a lot of running and doing weird stuff on bars and stuff, weight lifting’s where you go into a gym and lift weights, dog training lets you pick out a dog and train it and spend a buncha time with it - all of those are small, it’d probably just be you and me and a professor?”

Permalink Mark Unread

 

“Are wrestling and mass mixed martial arts, by any chance, also ’vampire-regulation’?”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Love you love you love you - they are, but, like, not in the same way? It’s ‘loser gets fucked’ and not ‘this convenient third party gets fucked’.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Drat. Um, we can straightforwardly share hiking and dog training, although they wouldnt’ve been my first choices, and I think we can share calisthenics if the professor is willing to count ‘you mostly just carry me around while I read, and also I sometimes do jumping jacks’? We can probably get something functionally similar called ‘kinesthetic learning’, and I can read books about a particular subject and occasionally recite them to you - maybe witchcraft, since I do want to actually learn anything about witchcraft, here?

And then I can probably be relevantly accessible while - painting on the sidelines while you wrestle, doing poetry while you lift weights, doing something else while you do mixed martial arts? Um, I wanted to take gardening and cooking? And to learn how to speak Honey - but those don’t seem readily compatible...”

Permalink Mark Unread

 

“I really wanna hug you without holding back, can I do that?”

 

Permalink Mark Unread

“Yup!”

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Hugs! To a a degree likely to leave Caden with added bruises - if rapidly healing ones - and to prevent him from comfortably breathing! The extent to which he’s also now smothered by Zeke’s chest also probably isn’t helping.

(Zeke, on high alert from earlier discoveries in kink, notices that he has... feelings, about Caden not being able to breathe. He mostly sets them aside for later.)

”Looooooove yooooooou,” he says, dreamily. “You’re smart. And I bet that it’ll be hella easy to get you, like, a personal Honey tutor to sit on the sidelines of the mixed martial arts class, and I’m already fluent in Honey so it’ll totally be class related when I talk to you.”

Permalink Mark Unread

 

- and after about a minute of squirmy, excessively-clingy hugging and beaming and dreamy sighs, he loosens up. Not by a ton, but by enough that Caden should be able to talk with only mild muffling.

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Caden takes a moment to catch his breath - he doesn’t strictly need to breathe, but he does feel like he ought to.

 

“You speak Honey?” he eventually inquires - mildly muffled by Zeke’s chest, as had been predicted.

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“Yeah? I lived on a pretty diverse witch commune, learned Milk, Honey, Wine, Brandy, and Tea fluently, and then Lassi and Beer with an accent. You just sorta pick things up, you know?”

Permalink Mark Unread

“... um. Um? It’s pretty uncommon for people to pick up seven languages at all without being pretty devoted or magically assisted - I’m pretty unusually interested in languages, and I have goblin fruit help, and I only speak Tea, Milk, Soju, and just enough Honey to skip to intermediate levels of study?”

Permalink Mark Unread

... Zeke shrugs, to the extent that this is allowed by his current position of supreme snuggliness.

Permalink Mark Unread

That seems to be the end of that line of conversation.

 

”I do still want to take some form of cooking, at some point - maybe not gardening, gardening seems less teamwork centric - and it seems like some types of cooking might be physical enough for us to do them together? But I don’t have to take them this semester, necessarily - do you think that you’d be okay with taking some sort of cooking? It’d make it all 25 credits, in total, but that seems relatively reasonable when those credits are taken up by ‘playing with dogs’ and ‘making pastries’ and ‘having sex with athletes’, instead of, say, calculus? And we both don’t need to sleep, I think, so it’s not like we’ll be pressed for time...”

Permalink Mark Unread

“You’re, like, completely reworking your original schedule so that I don’t have to drop any classes, because you’re great, I think I can handle a little extra workload? What sorta cooking class do you wanna take - I can handle, like, from-scratch pancakes and dicing things and avoiding fires, but I don’t make stuff often enough to really know how good I am at it?”

Permalink Mark Unread

“ - um - how quickly do you pour in oil when you’re making mayonaise, why do you have to break off the ends of sugar snap peas, and how many tablespoons are in a cup?”

Permalink Mark Unread

“- don’t know, don’t know, don’t know.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Sorry to spring that on you - a few drops at a time, because otherwise they have an inedible string in them, sixteen - I imagine that I’ll be similarly unlearned in the ways of calisthenics! We can try something general, instead of something specifically oriented towards pastries or haute honey cuisine -

Permalink Mark Unread

 

“What’s a dip, how long should you rest between sets, and what’s the difference between a traditional push up and a diamond push up?”

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“I love you. I don’t know, I don’t know, and I don’t know! Please do educate me in the ways of people who ever exercise instead of relying on a strawberry they ate when they were six to keep them toned, wise sensei, I feel dreadfully ignorant.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“I love you and all of your appalling ignorance of physical fitness - and a dip is where you, like, grab onto bars on both sides, and then hold yourself up, and then lower yourself down and bring yourself back up? And you should rest between 45 seconds and five minutes between sets, and a push-up suddenly becomes precious-gem-themed when you do it with your hands together, instead of apart?”

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“Huh,” says Caden. Snuggling continues.

 

 

”Should we try doing something about that whole thing with - James? Jamie? something starting with a J? - and... Alexander? Um, I think that he was named Alexander? I’ve ever taken a raspberry of recall but I don’t think it was quite good enough to let me remember quite that many names.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“There were so many names - and I dunno? Maybe? I kinda didn’t walk away from that whole interaction thinking that Jamie was the one in mortal peril. Alexander’s creepy but Jamie has this whole - ‘if you mess with me you’re gonna lose, and it isn’t gonna be pretty’ vibe.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“- we can offer our support and avoid direct intervention, otherwise, I suppose. Do you know if we share any classes with them, networking aside?”

Permalink Mark Unread

“No idea - definitely not the ones with, like, two each, maybe the larger ones?”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Mm - um, on another topic, do you want to the library with me and stop by some office or another so we can handle the course change, on the way?”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Nope! I definitely do not want to go with you to a place. That is definitely a thing that can happen and I am not just being silly.”

Permalink Mark Unread

 

“Oh no! However will I defend myself from the rabid goats I earlier purchased from a bridge salesman without your charming company!”

Permalink Mark Unread

“The power of friendship? Guacamole. A spoon.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Zeke, I can’t access any of those options! You’re my only current friend, I don’t have a food processor, and we don’t have a cutlery drawer. You’re my only hope.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Then I’ll come. But you will owe me a debt, paid in... hugs. And ramps, so other people can find those options accessible.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Then we shall begin our harrowing quest. I’m sure that there’ll be a dragon, and that we’ll end up cinematically jumping out of a window.”

Permalink Mark Unread

Zeke kisses him, briefly, because how could he not, and then he withdraws from snuggling and en-pants.

Permalink Mark Unread

Caden, too, en-pants! 

Permalink Mark Unread

And then Zeke can scoop him up, and -

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“- um, I actually think that I can walk, now? -“

Permalink Mark Unread

“- shit, sorry, right -“

He sets him down.

Permalink Mark Unread

“I don’t mind the impulse, I’d just rather my legs not atrophy. Please don’t go into a spontaneous guilt spiral.”

Permalink Mark Unread

 

 

“I’m an inconsiderate asshole, but you have low standards because of trauma and genuinely don’t mind, so it’s fine?”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Um. I’m not sure how -

- I disagree with the first half of that sentence, but it still seems like progress over ‘and therefore you hate me’, because I love you and I don’t think I’m going to stop? And I’ve been mentally sketching out ideas for the telepathy bracelets, on a related topic, do you have strong opinions on the design or should I go ahead and start growing them, I feel like they’ll help a lot with this sort of thing?”

Permalink Mark Unread

 

“What sorta design specs were you thinking of?

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“Tastefully gray wood with silver curlicues? And then something where our thoughts and senses are automatically - tagged, by criteria. And we can each toggle which subsection of thoughts we’re willing to share, and which subsection of thoughts we’d like to receive, and how we experience those thoughts, and it isn’t just a live-transmission, so you can scroll back through any tagged-accessible-to-you thoughts you’d like, by criteria? So, say, if you were willing to share all of your memories of lineball, I could pan backwards through time and see your lineball-related experiences as if I were reading about them, or I could experience them visually, or similar. And they should work over arbitrary distances, and be difficult to break or take off involuntarily, and automatically shut down if we spend more than a minute in a substantial feedback loop.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“... okay. Go ahead?”

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A pot of dirt in a corner acquires a small, steel-colored sapling.

 

”So, um, library?”

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“Library,” agrees Zeke, opening the door.

Permalink Mark Unread

Then they can walk out of the dorm without encountering any substantial trouble. They look a little strange, together, given the dramatic difference in height and breadth.

 

“I feel like you’re still upset and I’m not sure how to deal with it productively.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“- I super shouldn’t go around making my feelings your problem? You don’t have to deal with it, I’m gonna be fine.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“I feel pretty fundamentally misunderstood, whenever you get like this - I care about you. You aren’t going to - look, I’m expressing preferences because you explicitly wanted me to express preferences, I don’t actually care that much about not being carried and if you’re conspicuously sad whenever I express a preference and you want me to express preferences and I don’t want you to be sad - I don’t know what to do. I care about you. Talk to me.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“I - I love you. I - it seems like all of your thoughts come out really clearly? Mine aren’t - crisp. I get all sucked into stuff and then I stop and I start thinking again and the stuff that I did seems really stupid. It isn’t, like, specifically the carrying thing. We had group sex and you technically had a safe word but there were a lot of moments where you couldn’t really use it, and any sex we have while I’m drinking your blood is inherently gonna be iffy because I’m not gonna be able to stop if you safeword. You offered to have sex with random lineballers, for an hour each day, and I didn’t think to go ‘to what extent is this because he doesn’t feel comfy saying no’, I just thought about how hot it is. You completely reworked your schedule to accommodate mine, and I didn’t - you seem like you’ll do anything if it’s convenient for me or because I want you to, and I’m - worried - because I don’t want to hurt you and I have a bunch of things I might want you to do or that’d be convenient that could hurt you.

Permalink Mark Unread

 

“You could’ve hurt me, before I started loving you. I don’t think that you can, now, except by hurting yourself or other people.”

Permalink Mark Unread

 

“We could totally grow something in like twenty seconds that made us very briefly telepathic.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Um. Um! Gosh, why didn’t I think of that, it’s the obvious solution - do you want to grow it, so there isn’t any doubt about what it does?”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Sure.”

 

They can stop by the side of the path, then, and wait for a little blueberry bush to sprout, and grow a single, lonely berry.

Permalink Mark Unread

Caden holds Zeke’s hand, and eats the berry.

It only has time to transmit one concept, but it transmits it very, very well.

 

Imagine that you’re a turtle, swimming across the sea. The saltwater slides across your skin and shell; fish flit below you. You’ve never been bothered, following the current that you follow, never making much fuss; the current leads you to a storm. You’re happy in the storm, too, for a little while, but not for long; it throws you around and beats you down, and it kills people, and then you don’t like the storm very much at all.

You leave the storm, one day, and you don’t want to follow the current; it led you astray. And you find a person, swimming across the sea, and they climb across your back, and - you can follow them, instead. They love you, and they’ll never stop, and they’ll never leave you, and you can follow them, instead of the sea or yourself or the storm.

So you do. People can’t hurt, in the way that storms can, and they are not so uncaring as currents.

So you love them, and you’ll go wherever they direct you, and even if something is momentarily unpleasant it isn’t lightning, isn’t thunder, doesn’t matter - and you love them.

Permalink Mark Unread

 

 

Zeke stands perfectly still, for several moments.

And then he beams, and scoops Caden up into his arms, and squeezes.

”We’re gonna go to the library, and then we’re gonna go to the scheduling place, and - let’s get pizza, I wanna get pizza - and then we’re gonna go to our room and have kinky sex and reading snuggles for the rest of the night - and I’m gonna put the telepathy bracelets on hold for the night so I can get something that’ll let me control when and how often you climax and how horny you are and maybe some other stuff, I bet I can make it a third-class-ish fruit if I make it consent-y - I can totally just have sex with you whenever and with whoever - I love you - and tomorrow we’ll have breakfast with Bradley, he seemed kinda lonely -“

Permalink Mark Unread

... he wasn't really expecting the blueberry to communicate 'I would prefer that you just do whatever you'd like with me, you don't need to ask or pay attention to expressed preferences unless you want to' quite that thoroughly, or for it to have this effect, but he is pleased with this outcome! And now he can stop flailing around quite so confusedly.

 

They go to the library, and manage assorted schedule alterations, and they do, indeed, have book-themed snuggles and incredibly kinky sex for the rest of the night. 

When dawn is just barely peeking over the horizon, and they’re merrily snuggling:

”- so, um, not to trigger a relapse, what were you so upset about, before we tried brief telepathy?”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Uh - I think you were right, when you said I didn’t really get you? The way that we think is totally different, and if someone with my - structure, was acting like you were, they’d be doing it because they were - acting in ways they didn’t super endorse? And then I realized that you’re acting - the way that you person - and I stopped worrying.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Mm.”

Back to cuddly reading! And then more sex - vampires could not really be called satiable - and then back to cuddly reading.

 

“Um, should we go ahead and ask Bradley about breakfast? - and, Trevor too, I suppose, although he struck me as a little...”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Yeah, he struck me as a little too. Really hot, but he kinda had some negative vibes, you know?”

Permalink Mark Unread

“He’ll hopefully refrain from being ‘a little’ over pancakes! Or waffles! Or other quickbreads, in their infinite splendor.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“You’re still so cute! - I’m gonna make us pants, and then I’m totally gonna dress us both because that sounds hot, and then we’re gonna go pester Bradley and figure out his tragic backstory and have adventures! And we can, like, stop by Jamie’s room on the way! And it’ll be great.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“I mean, some people are just naturally whatever-his-thing is - and that does sound attractive -“

 

 

They eventually do make it out of their room - with Zeke walking with one arm slung around Caden’s shoulders, having decided that such is almost as fun as carrying him, and ever so much more practical when dealing with doors - and make their way over to the room labeled ‘Jamie, Alexander’.

Permalink Mark Unread

Where the two above-named parties seem to be having loud hate sex! 

 

“My lovely,” they can hear, through the door, “you really must keep still, unless you want this to take even longer -“

”I am going to murder you and your stupid face -“

”Oh, but then how would you see it bobbing up and down on your cock, like you so adored earlier?”

Fuck you -“

”No, lovely, I believe it’s currently quite the other way around - although I will be willing to experiment, should you learn your place -“

”Oh god can’t we just get this over with so I can strangle you -“

”My lovely, we’ve both already climaxed a dozen times, I hardly see how another dozen will hurt.”

”Prick.”

”You do seem to like that feature of mine, don’t you? What was it that you were saying earlier, ‘harder, faster, please’ - I might call you an asshole, in the same line, you really are quite ill tempered -“

”Would you shut up -“

”Gladly, if you would only tolerate the gag -“

Permalink Mark Unread

... they’re just going to. Walk away from the door.

 

”Uh.”

Permalink Mark Unread

 

“I’m, um, starting to get a sense of why mate-magic thought that they might be compatible.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Yeah. Never speak of it again, approach them later to see if they wanna go to lunch together?.

Permalink Mark Unread

“Yup.”

Permalink Mark Unread

 

They approach a room labeled ‘Bradley, Trevor’. They knock on it. It opens.

”Hey, bitches. Miss me?”

Permalink Mark Unread

Caden feels like ‘not particularly’ would be an innapropriate response.

”Yup! Would you like to acquire breakfast?”

Permalink Mark Unread

“- oh, hey, bros!” says Trevor, poking his head out of the bathroom. “Are you gonna go get food, I wanna come.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“- Trevor, get back in the shower, we’re going to eat in five minutes and I’m gonna fuck these two in the meanwhile, ‘kay?”

Permalink Mark Unread

“Sure, bro, have fun.”

Back into the shower he gets.

Permalink Mark Unread

They can’t fit in very much fun, over the course of five minutes, but they can manage a fair deal. Bradley never actually answers the question of whether he’d like to acquire breakfast, but he does in fact seem to want to.

 

They set off.

Permalink Mark Unread

Zeke fills up the entirety of the - admittedly short - walk, rambling on excitedly about past escapades!

Permalink Mark Unread

Caden is not surprised. This is very Zeke-ish behavior. 

 

They find a booth - because apparently this is the sort of cafe that has booths, for whatever reason - and are given menus by a waiter. The menus are very thick, and seem to aspire to the sort of ridiculous culinary diversity and quality that lofty restaurants envy. There are no prices; a little note in the front says that it’s ‘all you can eat, for all individuals who can verify their status as a member of Allspice Hall’.

“The pretense of this being a college is getting thinner by the minute.”

Permalink Mark Unread

“More like an institute of indoctrination. If the fucking government thinks it can get me to lick its balls by offering buffets and nifty class schedules, it can go have sex with a cactus. I’m gonna spend four years here, fucking hot guys and collecting a harem, and then I’m still gonna still think that the Empire is a load of shit.”

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“I dunno, bro, this is a really nice buffet. And my schedule’s just Individual Dance, Group Dance, Lineball, Cocktail mixing, and Networking. I’ll totes lick the government’s balls.”

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“Oh, you play lineball?”

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“Man, everyone plays lineball. - well, no, but like two thirds of the guys and a sixth of the girls, on campus? Not your sort of thing, no offense, but it’s popular as fuck.”

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“... Um, do you know why so many people play it? And why there’s such a gender skew?”

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“It’s fun and you get to fuck people during actual games, if you’re doing vampire-regulation, and why wouldn’t you? You don’t have to be switchy, like with a lot of other fucky sports? People’ll call you a pussy if you don’t? - I think that girls are, like, on average less interested, some mix of averaging subbier and averaging less sporty.”

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“- it seems like it’s prudent to mention - I, um, finangled it so that I’d ‘volunteer’ during practices and games and have that be one of my classes, since that way I could stay with Zeke?”

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"I'm going to comment on that later."

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"Um! I appreciate the fact that you aren't doing it in the middle of the cafe!"

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Zeke doesn't feel any pressing need to contribute to this conversation, for once, but he still seems pleased as punch about it.

They're eventually approached by a waiter.

"Are you ready to order, good sirs?" says the waiter - a short fellow with an unfortunate haircut and an impeccably fit uniform.

"Yeah! I'm gonna have the Combo of Lunar Bliss and a water."

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"Um, I'll have the Hashbrowns of Fire and Night, and the black coffee?"

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"House Salad of Teardrop Stains, beer."

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"How concerned should I be that you make all this shit with the blood of orphans?"

"Our hygienic and ethical standards are unparalleled, sir."

"I'm not a sir, bitch. Do I look like the fucking Duke of Cider?"

"There is some trivial resemblance, sir," says the waiter.

"Huh. Never knew that he was a hottie."

"I could not say either way, sir."

"Oh, come on, I bet you have some passionate love affair shit going on - Bacon of Delight, tea, if you give me a lemon I'm gonna piss all over your floors."

"We also have an excellent cleaning staff, sir. I will bring you your orders promptly."

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"... thank you!" says Caden, to the retreating form of the waiter.

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"Was that super necessary?"

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"Ayep."

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“... ‘kay.”

 

Conversation is a little stilted, after that. They get their food - Braldey does not, as it transpires, need to piss on their floors - and then they can make their separate ways.

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“I’m, um, torn between wanting to avoid gossiping behind people’s backs, and, um...” 

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“Speculating about why he’s like that? I don’t think it’s super ordinary, telling your waiter to suck your cock if they want a tip - I mean, he was joking, it was obvious the whole time that he was joking, Trevor kept laughing, just...”

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“He’s still very attractive and there’s still this layer of - desperation for human connection - there, that I’m sympathetic to, but I don’t think I want to spend much time with him.”

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“Same.”