“Porter needs a Girlfriend”

For [personal profile] inventrix‘s commissioned prompt.

This falls in the Year 9 Timeline, after Prickly (LJ) and Nice Guys (LJ)

Addergoole has a landing page here on DW (and on LJ).


December, Year 8

“Porter needs a girlfriend,” Arundel told Sylvia. Not that’s she’d necessarily listen, but she sometimes would have a conversation with him if he couched it the right way. And this, this was starting to bother him.

“Girlfriends are hard things to come by here,” his Keeper answered, more in the tone of informing him of a fact than with any interest. Of course, that’s how she usually sounded. “He could find a Keeper with no trouble at all, but he has been resistant to the idea. We might find him a Kept, but that would be trickier.”

“He really just needs a girlfriend,” he tried again. “You know, someone to hang out with, and neck with a little bit, cuddle and watch TV and all that sort of thing?” He wasn’t sure she did. They certainly didn’t have that sort of relationship. Then again, he wasn’t sure that was the sort of thing she’d want.

“I’ve never had that,” she answered, possibly reading his mind. He wasn’t always sure she couldn’t. “It sounds… I think it sounds pleasant.”

Arundel gulped. It seemed like an opening. It seemed like his chance. “Would you like to?” he offered.

“Like to?” she looked intrigued. Intrigued was good, right?

Porter could wait. “Would you like to have a boyfriend?” And, because she could misinterpret the oddest things, “me, I mean?”

Late September, Year 9

“Porter needs a girlfriend,” Arundel told Sylvia. Not that she’d listen, but she was getting better about that, not that he wasn’t her Kept anymore. Now that she had a new Kept. He didn’t know what to think about that, though Gar seemed like a nice sort.

“Porter?” Timora whispered, and then wrote, quickly, on her whiteboard, “I didn’t think people down here did ‘dating.’”

Arundel laughed uncertainly. “They really don’t, not very often,” he agreed. “But I’ve heard it happens, and can you see Porter with a Kept?”

She smiled, and wrote, “Catnip mouse?”

“There’s Kendra, she graduated last year, she was a mouse,” he smirked. Timora was fun. More fun when they were alone together, but they couldn’t spend all their time locked in his room. He had his crew, after all; they had the crew.

“Mice?” Sylvia smiled. “Maybe another cat, instead?”

Arundel pictured that for a moment. He didn’t know any other cat-Changes, but he hadn’t met everyone yet. But Gar was chuckling.

“Oh, man, can you imagine the sound? No, thank you.” Sylvia shot him a disapproving glare, and Gar only smiled broader. The rocky Ninth-Cohort seemed to enjoy tweaking his Keeper, and didn’t seem to mind when she glared at him. Arundel didn’t get it. But then again, he’d never really gotten Sylvia, either.

“Right, right, not a cat,” Arundel interrupted. “And there’s no mice that I know of. Bird?”

But Timora, his Timora, was writing again, so he shut up and let her “talk.” Her hand flew over the white-board, and in a moment, she held up: “Why not just people? Just try different people until someone clicks.”

The others read the board a moment after Arundel. “Like speed dating?” Gar offered. “Addergoole speed dating seems hazardous to everyone’s health.” He tugged on the chain around his neck pointedly, making Arundel squirm.

“It’s not a bad idea,” Sylvia countered slowly. “Not speed dating, that’s silly. But just bring girls by for dinner, girls we know are single, and see if he make friends with any of them.”

Timora drew a smilie face, while Arundel nodded, feeling as if his plan had run away without him.

Timora, it turned out, had Opinions. Arundel hadn’t been expecting that, certainly not as many as she had. He knew she’d only acceded to being Kept by him to have someone to talk to, which left him feeling a little bit left-behind by the whole process – happy to have her, but totally uncertain what do do with her. And now!

“Her first,” she whispered to him, tilting her head at a girl in the lunch room. Arundel gulped.

“She’s a Sixth Cohort, Timora,” he murmured.

“She’s pretty. And smart. And you’re only asking her over for dinner, right?” She smiled at him sweetly, and he sighed.

“If I get my wings broken for asking, I’m going to be grumpy,” he told her.

“You’re fearless,” she scolded. Wasn’t he supposed to be doing the scolding?

“But not stupid. Not that stupid, at least.” He wanted to make her happy, though, and he wanted Porter to have a girlfriend, and he didn’t want to make Sylvia frown at him. So he found Cynara cy’Drake in a quiet moment between classes – when her insane crew were nowhere around – and invited her to dinner in their suite.

Five minutes and a half-dozen promises later, he’d managed to get her to agree to dinner. Porter, he feared, was more likely to vanish through the floor than hit on her, but maybe then Timora would trust his judgment.

Cya was, in person and away from her crew (a group of Sixth Cohorts so crazy they not only embraced but fully lived up to their crew name of Boom!), less intimidating, enough that everyone (even Gar) seemed to enjoy dinner.

But Porter was still ears-down whiskers-twitching by the time she left. “That’s the sort of woman who alphabetizes her sock drawer,” he claimed. “I am terrified if I spend too long near her, she’s going to sort my stripes.”

Despite this, Timora seemed unswayed from her plan, and Arundel, a little confused as to how he managed to always lose control of everything, found himself looking through the lunchroom with her again, picking out more potential dinner dates for his friend.

“You said he needed a girlfriend,” Timora pointed out when he protested.

“Yeah, but, maybe he can find his own?”

“He helped me out a lot on Hell Night. I just want to help him, too. What about her?”

“Heidi?” The pretty blonde girl had deep-swooping ram’s horns and a sweet smile. “I’m not sure she’s into guys, but I’ll ask.” She was, at the very least, less imposing than Cynara, and only a year ahead of him.

She accepted the invitation with far less song-and-dance than his first attempt – she was, after all, cy’Valerian – and dinner was relaxed, fun, and with all the romantic spark of two aged nuns taking tea. “She’s fun,” Porter commented. “We should have her and her girlfriend over more often.”

Timora was still not stoppable.

Next, she pointed out a student in Arundel and Porter’s cohort, a studious blond girl named Sofia. Knowing by now that it wouldn’t work to argue with her, short of an order, Arundel sighed, and politely invited Sofia to dinner.

Sylvia, he noticed, was getting increasingly impatient with these diners, which made Gar all the more snarky, but, on the other hand, seemed to make Timora happier and happier. The whole thing made Arundel more than a little confused, and not exactly happy.

“If this one doesn’t work out…”

“If this doesn’t work out, one more, and then I’m done, and we can let Porter find his own girlfriend,” she assured him. “Besides, she seems like a nice girl.”

She was, indeed, nice, proper; she and Sylvia got along very well. Porter, on the other hand, seemed, while not unimpressed, kind of lost around the very sleek, class-president-type girl. “She needs like a future presidential candidate,” he complained woefully. “Not a guy who opens doors.”

“One more,” Timora reminded Arundel. “You said I could try one more.” And then she smiled at him, a wicked smile he wasn’t used to seeing from her. “Do you think they’re softened up enough yet?”

“Softened… what?”

“Well, Sylvia wasn’t going to let just anyone into her suite. She puts up with me because she doesn’t know what to do with me. But nobody else will have my power. And Porter is kind of skittish around girls, but by now, he’s relaxing enough to crack jokes.”

HE stared at his Kept. “You planned this?”

“Well… I liked Sofia for him. But I have a better idea.” Her grin was growing wider. “So let’s invite Belfreja to dinner.”

“Bel… the girl with the…”

“Beautiful assets.” Timora’s smile was gone now. “There are so many boys after her that no one has managed to Keep her yet for the crowd around her.”

“And you want to add Porter to the list?”

“No.” She looked deadly serious. “I want to cut through all that and have Porter Keep her, before someone like Calvin wins the race-for-Bel’s-collaring.”

“You’ve been thinking about this a lot, haven’t you?” he asked slowly.

“I got lucky. You and Porter – and my power – and I didn’t get it bad at all. But I’ve seen some of the others in my Cohort – and even Gar isn’t really happy with Sylvia. I think Porter and Belfreja could really get along,” she added. “They both have that noir feel to them.”

He thought past the girl’s assets to her personality and, slowly, nodded. “I think you’re right, Timora. Good idea,” he added, knowing the Bond would roll over her with the praise, and, while she was smiling in the giddy aftereffects, stole a kiss.

“You know,” he continued, “I don’t think Porter’s the only one who needs a girlfriend.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/265870.html. You can comment here or there.

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35 thoughts on ““Porter needs a Girlfriend”

  1. Yeah Timora! Yeah Arundel! I’m sure Penny would cheer for them if she stuck her nose out of her own concerns… She was sort of having therapy at the time, I think.

  2. Late September, Year 9 “Porter needs a girlfriend,” Arundel told Sylvia. Should that Sylvia be Timora? I am terrified if I spend too long near her, she’s going to sort my stripes. This is an awesome line. Arundel is … pushing. Hrm. Isn’t he cy’Luka?

    • No, he’s talking to Sylvia again. *grin* glad you liked the stripes line. We’re having different-read problem again, too. I didn’t read that as pushing at all. (He is cy’Luca)

      • Ah. I was just confused that it was Timora who replied. (Does Timora have Serious Social Skills, or just enough to outclass the average teenager?) Might be different read, might be different personal/real-world expectations, might be different impressions of what Arundel & Timora have been up to so far? I expect(ed) Arundel to be (have been) at least as careful not to push Timora into dating as Sylvia was with him. On the other hand, Sylvia seems to be setting a less-careful/good example now with Gar. I don’t know if Timora has her own room in the suite, or how touchy-feely they’ve been so far. I don’t know if that was a serious smooch or a peck on the cheek. I would not be pleased with someone who tried to smooch me without my active approval; he’s deliberately using the bond to acquire/reinforce her approval. But then, where I went to college there was an explicit social convention that upperclassmen should not hit on freshmen until at least November, which is obviously not in play at here. So … yeah, lot of space for different perceptions.

        • “I expect(ed) Arundel to be (have been) at least as careful not to push Timora into dating as Sylvia was with him.” Considering how frustrated he was at Sylvia’s over-cautiousness, I find that incredibly doubtful to the point where I question how you even managed to reach such a conclusion. And considering how much you self-proclaimedly don’t know, I’m surprised you feel confident in making any sort of declarations on anyone’s actions or motivations whatsoever. As for her social skills, she seemed like a normal but intelligent sort of teenage girl in that respect.

          • Considering how frustrated he was at Sylvia’s over-cautiousness, I find that incredibly doubtful Oh, very good point.

          • I was trying to explain why I percieved that as pushing. Kindly note the framing. Arundel could have just asked, much as he said that Sylvia could have asked.

          • I did, thank you. And yes, he could have, and I would certainly agree that he was being somewhat forward. One assumes – well, I would assume, clearly you did not – that he is aware enough of his relationship status and his Kept’s feelings and personality to not do so at a level that is objectionable to the recipient. To the recipient being the key word. I have learned from personal first-hand experience – which you seem to have not yet – that giving people detailed explanations of why you think they are wrong when they do not ask for them is 1) rarely helpful, and 2) even more rarely appreciated. People will get irritated or upset at you. People are getting irritated and upset at you. Kindly consider your audience’s feelings before engaging in further such unsolicited explanations. (For the record: yes, I have considered your feelings in this situation.)

        • Heh, it’s a fictional setting that features heavy use of mind- and emotion-warping magic as MAJOR feature of the setting and plot. Of course it’s going to be different from your college experience 😉 In my book, Arundel gets all sorts of points for apparently keeping the physical contact to the minimum neccessary and also the bond-rolling to a minimum (it’s almost impossible not to do some, even blood-colder-than-ice Sylvia has a hard time not doing that) when he’s a 16 or 17 year old boy who’s own dating experience consists solely of being Kept by said not-at-all-typical-or-really-emoting Sylvia the previous year. The last part reads to me as Arundel suggesting that he and Timora move from friends-with-cuddles to a more romantic/typical dating type relationship.

          • To be clear, I was trying to figure out / explain why I read that as pushing where intended no such thing. I do not actually expect Arundel to be an angel, wings or no. 🙂

        • From the whole interaction between them in this story, I get the impression she would let him know if she was uncomfortable. IIRC she was hoping to catch a boyfriend when we first met her, and it seems here like Arundel and Timora get along fine. Comparing this with what I’ve seen of the relationships Ceinwen & Thorburn, or Kendon & Ahouva, it’s looking pretty good.

        • I think I’m just going to have to wave a flag whenever we run into reading-this-really-differently, since I’m not sure where the read difference comes from, and since I know the setting as a whole distresses (is that the right word?) you. I don’t see Timora as having Serious Social Skills, either, just being a bit clever, where Arundel sort of Plows Ahead. And yes, a different social convention by far. In Addergoole, they want to get to the newbs as soon as possible.

          • Noted! Would it be simpler (?) if I just didn’t comment on Addergoole/FaeApoc stories? (I had been planning to get back to this thread, which is also potentially problematic in different ways.)

          • I’m not sure. I like comments, and you generally have very astute thoughts on my settings, but it seems that many of your Addergoole comments are more objections to the setting’s nature, which frustrates me.

          • ‘kay. Not for a while at least. Further input appreciated if/when you have it. I think you have no shortage of Addergoole commenters. Or you could write more Dragons and Aunts. 🙂

          • Sometimes? It’s a much less constrained scenario, so there’s a much broader range of stories you can and do write in it. I’m still likely to ask a lot of “but why …?” questions about how it works, though, so perhaps best leave that alone, too.

          • How-it-works questions are something I really enjoy about the way you read my stories. As long as we know going in that Fae Apoc is dystopic, I think we’re fine.

          • Apocalyptic != dystopic! But, ummm, they’re at least heavily overlapping sets of questions, and now I don’t know which things you don’t want poked. <confused>

          • Well, yes, Apoc & Dystopia are different, but this is both. Okay. Mmm. /worries/ I have bad boundaries. But I enjoy your commenting. /frets/

          • Boundaries can be good and useful things! If we want to (try to) continue this conversation — I am not sure I can usefully add to it without pulling out a bunch of “do you want to field questions on X?” that would themselves be potentially problematic poking, so I’m not sure if that’s a good idea — may I suggest moving it (with a pointer for those interested, if appropriate?) to somewhere that people who just want to read about Arundel and Timora and Porter and Sylvia will not trip over it unexpectedly and be cross?

          • Depending on preferred format and/or audience, a possibly-filtered thread on one of our journals (LJ or DW), LJ or DW private messages, or email? If a post, optionally with an out-of-sequence date so that it’s findable but doesn’t leap out. I don’t know who, if anyone, it is likely to be of interest to other than you and I. Format-wise, I’m not fond of LJ/DW private messages, but they do work.

          • I like e-mail, if you don’t mind me having your addy (I’m not a spambot, promise) Mine’s thornealder/gmail/com

  3. I end up feeling like I’m missing something, with this storyline, and that thing is: why is everyone hanging about with Sylvia? She seems neither nice, nor kind, nor moral. I presume there are reasons they all spend time with her, but I don’t see them.

      • I may be misremembering something, but I think back when Arundel got Kept, they promised to be Crew? That could certainly do it. ~Trix

    • Well, she has one good thing going for her. She’s not wantonly cruel. Given that Addergoole is a pre-apocalypse dystopia, that one quality alone basically makes her a good choice of friend. This isn’t Generic-ville High where if you don’t like the other kids you run off to the mall on your lunch break and then run straight home after school. They’re all locked in, and even if you’re in a single bedroom unit instead of a multi-room suite, you’ll still probably be stuck interacting with the others whose rooms are in the same pod. Now add in that so far it appears that most crews arrange to share a suite – that puts a bit of a social limitation on joining a crew (only exception I’m aware of involves the Thorn sisters saying essentially, “She trains with us, therefor she’s with us, so back down or face all of us.”). So if you find your ideal crew to join they may very well say, “Sorry, full up, but try again next year since some of us are set to graduate.” As for why Porter and Arendel keep hanging out with her past the first year when one was kept by her, I’d say it’s because after that first year she’s a known quantity. Even if she likely annoys the heck out of them at times, she does appear to believe in the mutual defense nature of crews and isn’t actively antagonistic to her crewmates.

  4. The whiteboard makes me giggle. A lot. I hear squeaking when she talks… I still don’t get Sylvia and Gar, but they seem to have turned out better than I thought, which is nice to see.

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