Part II: Priest Island
The Bus ride went better than expected. My protective necklace remained intact, which left me with two protective charms, hopefully because the Shigeo-kai had assumed their first attempt at doing whatever had worked.
I sat down in a bench next to some girl in gothic regalia and waited for the bus to start. However a few minutes after that, some douchebag started harassing an Itharii who’d sat down front diagonal from me.
It wasn’t my first time seeing one; San Francisco had given them part of angel island for them to settle in and they’d become a fairly common sight around the city.
“Dude, keep it down, do you sell dust, you know your ‘pssh’” I heard the dude say, offering the Itharii a twenty.
Dust had a weird legal standing, although the government wasn’t too keen on drugs, outlawing dust was kind of like outlawing tears because someone could get high on it. So instead they’d made public solicitation forbidden and since being high in public even with legal substance wasn’t allowed that had mostly fixed the problem. Plus forcibly getting an Itharii to give you dust was just asking to be sprayed and spend your weekend in agonizing anxiety from overdose.
The Itharii looked rather uncomfortable and so I stepped in.
“Seriously? You’re harassing an Itharii for drugs here of all place?” I said, grabbing the guy by the collar and lifting him to his feet. He looked like he was going to start a fight but his gaze shifted around and noticed that the whole bus was staring. So he wised up, leaving after insulting me under his breath like a coward.
“Sorry for the jerkwad, I’m Annabelle Yeun.” I said, sitting beside the Itharii
The two of us shared some small talk; I learned that Ahti was okay with being called a they, a suggestion given to us by the mutated parahuman who sat behind us called Rowan. Eventually, Ahti fell asleep, leaning on my shoulder; giving kind of a light whistling snore. Something odd about Itharii; they smell salty, kind of like an ocean breeze.
I woke them up just as we arrived and we all got down.
Abraxas had been right about Priest Island, there was something in the air that felt strange and unearthly. Hopefully he was right about it hiding me from my enemies.
I followed the group to the gate, carrying my old bag on my shoulder and we were met by the second Raven who gave us a speech which I admittedly didn’t listen to before dividing us into class.
By chance or fate’s decree Rowan, Ahti and I ended up in the same class and heading for our new dorm. The dorm seemed nice, although it wasn’t luxury either. Thankfully someone had had the foresight to leave a bunch of pizza for us; I hadn’t eaten anything in ages and had thrown up my last lunch.
I introduced Ahti to the wonderful world of pizza and they seemed so absolutely amazed by it as they devoured four whole slices despite how tiny they were. Somehow they had a lot of place in that belly. To be fair; even bad pizza was nice and this one was pretty damn great.
As we ate we chatted some more. Apparently Ahti had lesbian moms which was pretty nice, apparently humans weren’t the only species who could be queer as hell. There weren’t a whole lot of lgbt folks in my family beside one of my cousin whom I mostly saw at christmas.
“Hey sorry to bother you. I’m Yougen, your roommate.” A girl said, wheeling toward me in her wheelchair. Despite her name she looked white which struck me as odd.
“I’m Annabelle Yeun. And don’t worry, it’s really nice to meet you.”
“I should check who I’m rooming with.” Ahti said before leaving us to talk.
“Want to go check our room?” I asked.
“Sure. Room one is right there.” She said pointing at the first door from the front.
Rooming with someone wasn’t anything new to me; I’d been in the same room as my twin Emma since we’d been born. Our new room was actually bigger than the one we had at home, it wasn’t huge but Emma and I’s room was a glorified shoe box.
I let Yougen in first and she chose one of the bed for herself. I took the other and unpacked my things, setting them quickly into the bed’s drawer. I did a check up and found a tablet in the bedside table which I took.
I took out my phone and texted Emma.
I made it. I’m safe. <
I waited for a few seconds, but didn’t get a reply. She’d probably just forgotten to charge her phone again. At least I hoped; I hadn’t thought about the possibility that the Shigeo-kai could hurt them.
I banished the thought from my mind as best I could; summoning images of fluffy criters to replace it.
When I turned around, Yougen seemed to struggle a bit with unpacking. Like me she didn’t have a whole lot, but she hadn’t finished.
“Would you like some help?” I offered.
“Nah, I’ll be fine.”
“Alright. Call me if you need anything.”
She nodded and I went to the common room.
As I did I briefly checked the corkboard, it held the room assignment as well as other stuff; a paramorph support group, recruitment call for the school’s journal, invitation to the LGBT club, a note from the doctor’s office on sexual healthcare and service for trans students.
Nothing I needed.
“Anyone wanna watch a movie and maybe get to know each other?” One of the three guys asked, his name was Mace according to his tag.
“That sounds fun. Wait, has anyone seen Ahti? They’re the Itharii.” I answered.
“Fell asleep the moment it touched the bed.” A redheaded girl named Jaime said with a shrug.
Before I could politely correct her, Rowan snapped at her.
“Don’t call Ahti an ‘it’.” They said after correcting them. They probably didn’t mean to, but they bared their fangs at her.
Jaime however couldn’t have cared less, just giving another shrug before leaving to god knows where.
“So… Are we still doing the movie?” Mace asked.
“Sure, no need to spoil the evening.” Another girl, Caroline she was called said.
We all sat down except for a few; One of the girl I’d only seen briefly had also disappeared and Ahti was apparently sleeping.
I ended up sitting right next to Mace.
“What’s your name?” He asked, trying to be suave.
“It’s right there.” I said tapping my tag.
“Annabelle is a good name.”
“I guess so…”
I politely replied to the rest of his attention but I wasn’t really interested. All I cared about was getting an answer from Emma…
Beside, he really wasn’t my type… Mostly because my type was more like the cute brooding dark haired girl with cold gray eyes sitting on the other end of the couch. She wasn’t a model, actually she was a bit oddly proportioned but she pulled that ‘I don’t give a fuck’ kind of charm.
Only a few minutes after the credits of the first movie rolled, Ahti walked into the common room stretching their arms.
“Are you alright?” I asked.
“Yeah, was just tired, spent all day on a plane and then a bus.”
So had I, but they’d gone from South Africa to New York, which was a much longer ride.
“Want to watch a movie with us little guy?” Mace asked them.
I let Ahti in between Mace and I and they acted as a buffer, which thankfully put a stop to the awkward flirting from the guy with the broken gaydar. I would have told him to stop but that would have required guts and I was kind of a coward…
The second movie got started but I didn’t pay anymore attention. Halfway through however my phone vibrated and I took it out.
> Sorry I didn’t answer earlier. I forgot my phone.
I breathed a sigh of relief. Everything was alright.
At least for now…