“Just Be Yourself”

From rix_scaedu‘s commissioned prompt.

A continuation of the Three-Way story.
3-Way originally posted here and on LJ, continued here (LJ) and then here (LJ and then
Here (Duet) and Here on LJ – and then here: Preferences (LJ) and here (and on LJ).

“I was hoping you’d be my girlfriend.”

Ahouva stared at Basalt. “You ripped out Kendon’s guts because you wanted a girlfriend? There’s got to be an easier way.”

“That was Jeremiah,” he demurred. “I beat them down until they yielded to rescue you.”

“I didn’t need rescuing!” More quietly, she added, “I was doing fine. I’d finally gotten to the point where I could make Kendon happy, where he didn’t yell at me much at all.” Now she was going to have to do it all over again with this guy. More subdued, and a bit nervous, she added, “you’re not going to be like Thorburn, are you?”

“Like him how?” he asked carefully. His knees were still touching hers. She should pull away, but she didn’t really want to.

“I’ve seen Ceinwen crying, when she doesn’t think anyone was looking,” she muttered.

“I’ve seen you do the same thing,” he countered, and she winced.

“Sorry! I don’t mean for anyone to see me; I’m just overreacting.”

“And you don’t think Ceinwen was?”

“Should I?” she asked nervously. “She seemed so level-headed, not a mess like me.”

He shook his head. “Damn. All right, this is going to tricky, isn’t it?”

“You could give me back?” she offered timidly.

He shook his head. “No. No, I’m not going to do that. After this, Kendon’s going to be worse than ever before.”

She winced, swallowing a comment. He’d just made things worse, no matter how you looked at it. “Then… tell me what you want from me?”

“Hold on, I’m still on your last question.” He smiled ruefully. “I’m kind of slow, so you have to be patient with me, okay?”

She nodded, not certain if the “hold on” meant to be quiet or not. That got her a real smile from him – he had a very nice smile, when he tried – and then a thoughtful sigh. “Okay. The short answer is, Thorburn and I took away different things from being under cy’Linden last year. I don’t know what he’s doing to make Ceinwen cry – I hadn’t known she was crying, though that explains some of the things Penny’s said – but I don’t want to do anything to make you cry.”

She stared at him. Kendon hadn’t liked her crying, either. “I can try not to cry…” she offered. Obviously she had to get better at hiding it.

He shook his head. “That’s not what I mean, Ahouva. I mean – you asked if I was going to be like Thorburn. And I’m telling you no, I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to be like Kendon, either.”


He frowned, and she, wondering how she’d managed to upset him already, cringed. That just made him frown more deeply.

“Every evening, I’m going to ask you if I have done anything to upset you. I’m going to want – and order –to know everything, so if you have to write it down in a notebook to remember it at the end of the day, do that.”

“Okay?” This sounded like an excuse for punishment waiting to happen, but maybe she could change her definition of “upset?”

“If something bothers you badly enough that you want it to stop right away, tell me right away. Right then. Even if we’re in public.” He touched a finger to her nose. “I do not want to be upsetting you.”

She winced again, and nodded, because he seemed to want her to agree. “Okay? I mean, yes, sir.”

He sighed quietly. “Okay.” He seemed to be willing to let it go, at least. Maybe she’d be able to work around it. “On to your second question.”

She was getting lost. “Okay?”

“What I want from you.”

Oh, that one. She nodded, eyes down. “Yes, sir.”

“It’s Basalt,” he corrected gently. “I’m really not fancy enough to be sir for anyone.”

“Yes, Basalt.” She peeked up at him. “Not ‘master’ either?”

“Does it – be honest with me – make you happy to call someone master?”

Yes. No. Yes? “Maybe?” she offered carefully. “When I called Kendon master, sometimes it made him happy, and sometimes it made him angry.”

“But what about what you like?”

“I like having my owner happy with me!” Why did he keep asking what she liked? Why wouldn’t he tell her what he wanted out of her. “I like knowing what the right thing to do is!”

He sat back, lips closed tightly, and Ahouva quailed. Now she’d done it. Now he was going to be mad at her, and he was going to … what was he going to do? She peeked at him cautiously. She didn’t know what came next with him.

He had his face in both hands. “This… is going to be interesting.”

“You can still give me back.”

“No. I won’t.” He dropped his hands. “When you came here, you were a mouthy, bright, clever new kid. I liked you like that.”

“Nobody else did,” she muttered.

“Even if that’s true, which I doubt, they don’t matter, do they?”

Now he was on ground she understood. “No, master.” She smiled cautiously at him. “What you want is what matters.”

“Exactly. Good girl,” he added, saying the words very carefully. She shivered at the good feelings his words sent through her, as condescending as they were. He was happy with her?

He patted her shoulder gently. “What I want is you to be yourself. And I think that’s going to be trickier than I originally thought.”

She nodded, biting her lip. “How will I know what you like, then?”

“Mm. If you really bug me, I’ll let you know. But look, Ahouva, I’m really not that bright, and you are.”

“I’m not that clever. Kendon had to correct me all the time.”

“That’s because Kendon is an asshole, not because you’re not smart. When you came here, you thought you were pretty bright, didn’t you?”

She dropped her head. “I was stupid. I didn’t know how the world really was.”

“You were smart – are smart. You just didn’t know how to handle this place.”

“Kendon was teaching me.”

“Kendon was teaching you how to be a good little pet.”

“Isn’t that what being Kept is?”

“Only if that’s what your owner wants. What I want, as I said, is a girlfriend. You. Smart, mouthy, and clever.”

“Oh.” She blinked at him uncertainly. “What if I can’t be that anymore?”

He sighed, and, before she could say anything else, pulled her into his lap and cuddled her against him. “Then we’ll have to figure that out together.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/169433.html. You can comment here or there.

72 thoughts on ““Just Be Yourself”

  1. Yeah, her head is going to take some time to repair. As in “Is there a Betan Therapist in the house?” repairs. And all she has is Basalt, but at least he’s trying.

    • There is, actually. A therapist in the house with (repair) and (mind) as her primary words of power. Now, the question is if Basalt thinks of taking her there.

      • Ouch. Well. If he’s serious — and there’s a whole extra world of hurt to be had if he doesn’t mean what he says — I do hope he thinks of that, or that someone (Penny?) suggests it. It sounds like he listens to Penny? ETA: also, that’s a fascinating assertion about Jeremiah.

          • Things I haven’t figured out yet: What’s a cy’ree? I haven’t got much of a grip on Penny yet, either. I gather she showed up at Addergoole under rather unusual circumstances, already pregnant, and somehow clueful enough to stay out of the worst of the abuse that gets heaped on new students? And she seems to mother everyone, a tendency shored up by the magic she’s inclined towards?

            • A cy’ree is students of the same mentor (Being a student of a mentor puts a cy'(mentor) after your name). Penny is Rix’s fanfic character who turned canon. She is Australian, and shows up in Addergoole in Year 6. Her story is covered in several of the Guest fic stories Rix writes during each of my hiatuses.

              • Ah, I’d thought the cy’Something was indicating bloodlines. Correction appreciated! Are the students of the same mentor “on the same team” in any meaningful sense, or just exposed to each other more than a random set of students might be …? I hadn’t realized the student base sprawled out that far. Pointer, if that’s okay with Rix?

                • As for teams, it depends on the students and the mentor. Cy’Linden are … well, generally horny. And generally their parties, cy’ree meetings, study sessions, etc. devolve into orgies, which can wreak havoc on their Kept. Cy’Luca are white hats, white knights. They’ll back each other and pull each other out of a mess; they’re almost entirely honorable men. Cy’Valerian aren’t really so much of a group as a “leave us alone and let us get out of here as fast as possible.” Cy’Pelletier are more of a support group. etc. Most of the students are American or Canadian. A few are more far-flung.

                  • And cy’Fridmar is the one that Penny and Basalt are in? What’s it like? When do students and mentors sort themselves out? Is that a one-time assignment, or does it shift as the students figure themselves out? I still don’t get the arrangement that gets anyone sent to this hellhole.

                    • Wait, no, you said Basalt and Thorburn were cy’Linden … last year? Not anymore? Or is that their keepers who were cy’Linden?

                    • Agmund Fridmar is a very … pragmatic man. He espouses strength over all else. Students and Mentors are generally sorted out in the second-through-fourth week of school their first week, and is canonically for the length of their time in school. The short version is, Regine bribed the heck out of (and tricked, and a little mind control’d) the parents of the first generation of students. And promises are a little too binding in this setting.

                    • And promises are a little too binding in this setting. They so are. And the subsequent generations? Is promising to send your kids a graduation requirement? (I am amused to see, from Penny’s story, that she’s happy to cheat on the “not telling your kids” front. But how did she wind up being sent, with no one to send her?)

                    • I’m not actually sure how it worked with Penny, though it could have been that Regine went looking for her. The promise is binding unto the xxth generation (I think I said 9th).

                    • O_o So not only can one totally screw oneself with promises, one can bind one’s children for generations beyond one’s own death? Yeesh. How have any of them made it this far?

                    • Penny’s bright enough to have been in the top 5 or 10 per cent of her classes in high school. Addergoole just had to spin a tale of an all expenses paid tertiary scholarship scheme her mother signed her up to as a baby…

            • Penny was 18 and a half when she first arrived and that gave her advantages dealing with people who wanted to Keep her. This is Penny’s 4th year and she started the year due to give birth at any time. (She got pregnant the previous Thanksgiving and now has two sets of twins.) Her power is a hearth mother thing – my notes say: “Innate power: Hearth mother – there’s always good, appropriate food in the fridge/pantry/on the hob; the kettle’s always just about to boil; there’s always a spare bed or, for a child in need, a permanent home; the bath, washing machine and dryer are available and ready to go; and there are always bandaids and disinfectant in the cupboard. (The annoying part for her is that she doesn’t think she’s particularly domestic.) Willing to feed teenagers with food they like/need = influence.

            • A Mentor educates their Student in Law, tradition, proper behaviour, and, traditionally, magic (In Addergoole, each realm of magic is taught by the professor the best in it). In essence, a Mentor guides a Student from Child to Adult, including seeing them through their adulthood ceremony.

              • educates their Student in Law, tradition How is it not the responsibility of the Mentors to make it clear to their students what they are walking into with the whole “Kept” mess?

                • Addergoole is fucked up. That’s the official answer. Out in the world, yes, totally. In here… They’re trying to get them Kept.

                    • They want people to get trapped into it. Keepings in Addergoole are temporary, ending (if not before) when one of the students graduates.

                    • Why? That could still leave someone with a disaster of a Keeper for … three years? Is it a four year program? And very little time to recover. And that assuming no one manages to twist the arm of anyone in their own cohort.

                    • The harsh truth is, Regine wants babies, and the Keeping helps ensure babies. Four-year programme. They’re strongly discouraging students Keeping another student for more than 1 year, especially by Year Nine.

                    • Regine has made kids a graduation requirement, and appears to’ve made it a bragging point. Throw in encouragement and daycare, and folks the age of the students are probably going to be quite happy to have kids. She’s likely breaking people and/or turning them into monsters as fast as she’s generating kids. Discouraging isn’t requiring …

                    • Longer answer: Regine really, really didn’t understand people when she started this. She doesn’t understand them much better now.

          • Ah, I wasn’t sure which parts of the assertion Basalt was pushing off as being Jeremiah’s doing. Do we know why Jeremiah challenged for Ahouva?

                    • Yes, all of those things. Friends who have your back, people you’ll support no matter what. Crew, Cy’ree, and Cohort (Year started at Addergoole) sum up students into tidy groups, with ancestry being a background sorter as well (for instance, children-of-Ambrus or children-of-Aelfgar might not know that they are a group, but Regine does).

                    • But Cohort and Cy’ree are by arrival/assignment, and Crew is self-arranged, eventually? Is there a FAQ somewhere I should be poking at instead of asking question in dribs and drabs?

                    • No FAQ, though I might turn this into one. Cohort is by assignment. Cy’ree is by somewhat-choice somewhat-assignment; the mentors find the students, the students find the mentors that fits. Crew is self-arranged, or you get shanghaied into one.

                    • Crew is self-arranged, or you get shanghaied into one. The latter does not seem like a very good way to wind up with the group that you’ll trust with anything. Particularly in such a coercive environment.

                    • Timora’s the one with the voice, and hooves? It’s not clear at this point how much that’s honest help or not …

                    • Yes, and yes. And Yes. 😉 In the main timeline canon, Kailani is “adopted” by a crew because one (well, two) of the boys are interested in her.

      • If there is staff concerned about the well-being of students, how can Regine remain oblivious to the fact that she’s running a factory for rape and psychological torture? Edited to add: Sorry, I don’t know what exactly the above sounds like… I think I figured out why Regine breaks my willing suspension of disbelief that badly: Since the main premise involves the setting being based on the real world, and I’ve seen several stories involving normal, modern American students arriving at Addergoole, I automatically assume real, modern western world ethics as basis. With settings not based on the real world, or clearly alternate history, like Tir na Cali, I might not like their ethics, but I don’t have that “but that does not make any sense, what is she thinking?!” reaction that thinking about Regine gives me.

        • The teachers are best explained keeping two things in mind: the main staff are all at least a century old, so kids this age getting married and having babies is much more acceptable to them, and they consider this an essential step in a war.

        • Trust me. I’ve givena lot of thought to this. Regine is an ancient full blooded Grigori Fae. In many stories she is shown to have relatively little ability to have powerful emotions or understand them in others in anythign aside from a purely rational way. She’s a sociaopath, or more charitably, she’s not human and doesn’t think like a human. To whit, Regine is ‘kind’ to her students as she understands it, but also is similar to a Nazi doctor experimenting on twins. She feels the results of her AG experinemt as so important that the sacrifices of a handfull of half-breed children are a necissary evil. Plus, they get free college out of it? Come on.

        • Hello! Um, you do realize Regine is pretty… well, she lacks real empathy for most people except, /sometimes/, for Ambrus. Her real interest is in Ellehemaei genetics, and the school is doing a pretty good job of providing her the necessary data. Also, you might be interested in Inventrix’s post on why Addergoole is fairly well-designed to accomplish its own goals: http://inventrix.dreamwidth.org/2889.html Hope that helps! —theladyisugly

        • I put this up for other people to answer because the question always stresses me out. And I think most of the answers cover it better than I could.

          • Sorry, I did not mean to stress you out… It’s just that there’s some great stuff in this writing, but as soon as I got to Regine and wondering why Addergoole has the rules it does, there was this giant wall of WTF. I still don’t like it, but her being shaped by a nonhuman culture goes some way to explaining her weird mindset.

            • It’s a reasonable question, just not one I deal well with it. She’s … yeah. She has very very little comprehension of human emotion. at all.

              • I want to put this info somewhere: Teachers (or parents) knowingly letting their pupils (or children) come to harm, or giving them wrong or incomplete information on important topics, is a mild “this makes me uncomfortable” squick of mine. Forced pregnancy is probably my biggest squick in all (just normal pregnancy sounds pretty creepy to me already). So, yeah, she pushes my buttons, which made the trying to understand how she could possibly justify that/be so oblivious harder. But, as I said, knowing a bit more about her background helps a lot there.

        • As the self-proclaimed resident expert on Regine, I shall attempt to elucidate! Regine is, I believe, at least a couple hundred years old. During that time she has, partly intentionally, partly by natural inclination, partly by the fact that she is a purebred Ellehemaei and has been a part of that culture for a long time, shed most if not all of any normal human ethics she may have picked up as a child or young adult. As it stands, she is an interesting mix of being motivated by “for the greater good” and a certain degree of naivety. The rape part, I imagine she mentally glosses over because it furthers her ends; breeding more Ellehemaei being one. The psychological torture, she half doesn’t believe, half doesn’t understand. I have other, much longer analyses of Regine’s plans and thought-processes floating around somewhere, probably the forum, if you’re ever curious. ~Inventrix

          • Also, I don’t think Regine was ever Owned, was she? So she has no first-hand experience of what it’s like. Actually, who knows, maybe that’s actually a good thing. o.O —theladyisugly

        • In more detail, a conversation: Wyste: Just had a badass idea, tho. Ambrus: head of student affairs. Lyn: *giggle* Wyste: The school policies and such will evolve over time, I think? But you haven’t really spec’d that out, that I know of. Sent at 8:47 AM on Friday Lyn: Only a little, because I kept running into a wall. Lyn: The way I see it: the horrid thing that happened to Eris at the end of year 4 woke the teachers up. But they have inertia and, well…. they’re not sure HOW to fix it within their system Wyste: *nod* I think, over time, they are likely to recruit students for a teacher’s pet faction, so to speak? Sorta like Luke’s white hats, only proactive. Lyn: Yes. I think they really do that. And I think the mentors get more and more involved. But right now they’re… flailing. Wyste: *nod* Remember that story with Lethe / hall monitor-ing? That was me spec’ing changing teacher-student relations. Lyn: *grin* I liked that one. Wyste: I mean… I’m seeing hall monitors and a student council More specifically, a student council like the one that assembles to deal with K/J/S, only with a few more white hats. Terrifying upperclassmen, maybe the heads of all the Crews Sent at 8:55 AM on Friday Lyn: *grin* I like that a lot. Mentors pushing students to self-monitor, because it… hrm. Terrarium Wyste: *nod* I mean, they’re basically putting these kids in a warzone for four years. They let them flail around, realize these kids couldn’t find diplomacy and peace treaties with two maps a compass and their own ass labeled ‘diplomacy,’ and start going ‘okay, kids, here is how you hold a peace summit and start self-government.’ Lyn: *grin* yes, yes that.

  2. I do hope he gets her to the psychologist. I like the person it sounds like she was when she got there. I like Basalt a lot more now.Thanks.

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