The Valkyrie’s Daughters: Part VII

The Valkyrie’s Daughters

Part VII:  Family Duty

After we got our desserts and sat back down, Freyja came up to us.

“There you are.” She said. “I gotta talk to you. Alone.”

“Oh sure.”

I waved a goodbye at the others and followed Freyja a little further away, standing in an empty spot by the walls.

“What is it?” I asked.

Well, for one I’m glad you’re making friends with chicks.” She answered, switching to our native German.

I think Riley and Avery are non-binary, actually.

Whatever,” she swished her hand dismissively, “what matters is you can get one of them pregger.

I frowned. “Stop it with that… It’s not funny.

I’m not joking, Michelle. I’m not gonna stop, if you die, mom’s legacy is probably gone. I won’t allow that to happen. Beside, it’s not like it’ll be hard for you, just stick it in a girl and you’re done.

I’m leaving.” I mumbled, I turned back only for Freyja to grab my arm.

If you don’t care about the legacy, then why don’t you give over the powers?” She said, a frustrated noise coming out of her mouth.

How? Can that even be done?

Grandma’s sister was the one who inherited the powers but she renounced and it jumped over to Grandma inherited instead, so I know it’s possible.”

My thoughts jumbled for a moment, trying to think about what would happen. “I won’t abandon this.” I said.

Thanks to the powers, I had friends, I had a purpose. I couldn’t throw that away. It had chosen me, not her and there had to be a reason for that.

You are so fucking selfish you know that? You have no fucking clue about all the sacrifices I’ve made for mom, for you, for this fucking legacy! All you care about is that you get to be a like your idol, is that it?” People were definitely staring at us now.

That’s not true… Why do you care so much it happens now? It’s not like I’m in danger now.

Maybe I was selfish, true, she’d trained all her life and I had been freed, but there was nothing I wanted more than to live up to Valkyra’s legacy, she had been my hero and idol…

Because mom’s legacy the only fucking thing I have left.” She mumbled those words. “I can’t live with the idea it might be lost and that I can’t do a fucking thing about it…

I’m sorry.” I tried to reach out for her, but she pushed me away.

I don’t want your damn pity. Just do your part for the family duty… Do it for mom.” Her voice was breaking, like she was about to cry.

Having said her piece, she walked away, all tense, while I just stood there. I wanted to help her, but how could I? The idea of doing what she wanted just felt wrong, they were my friends, I couldn’t just use them…

It was then that Avery found me. “Michelle, hey. What happened?” She asked.

“I don’t know… Freyja’s just so hard to deal with…”

“I’m sorry. Do you wanna talk about it?”

Should I tell her? Was it weird to talk about how Freyja wanted me to make someone pregnant… But then we were supposed to be friends, you’re supposed to trust your friends, right?

“She thinks I don’t take being Valkyra seriously…” I mumbled. “And that I’m selfish for not giving up the powers to her.”

“That’s crazy. You just got them, you can’t be expected to master them and start saving the world after this small amount of time.” They smiled and I had smile back.

“She wants me to have a baby.” I finally admitted.

“You’re not very old though.” They blurped out. “That came out wrong. You’re not an adult yet. Most people wait til they’re adults and can support one financially. Do you even want a baby? Like, I think it’s important to get the legacy to continue if I remember correctly, but still, do you want one?”

They were a little rambling, maybe they were flustered by the idea? I wished I could tell…

“I don’t know… But she says I need to have an heir for when I die so she inherit the power.” I sighed. “That’d be easier if I was a cis girl…”

Despite what Freyja thought, if I had been cis it would just be a question of getting pregnant, getting someone else to agree to carry a baby was so much more complicated… And the thought of not being able to do it myself resurrected that icky feeling I’d been plagued by my whole life… The thought I wasn’t really a girl, that Wycked and her ilk were right…

“That’s a fair point, but she shouldn’t be pushing you. I’m sorry she’s not being nice.”

“I was hoping I’d get a sister, but I don’t think it’s happening…” I mumbled. Thank you for being so nice.”

My body felt so gross at that moment, I wanted to hide.

“Can I have a hug?” I begged.

“Yeah!”

They pulled me closer and held onto me tightly. I did the same, with both my arms and wings. They smelled nice… Their natural scent wasn’t covered, just accented by the smell of unscented soap…

Everything felt so exhausting, I wanted to go back home and hide, collapse in my bed. I would have right then if Avery didn’t hold me… I was tired and felt so disgusted at my own body…

“Michelle, your thoughts are loud.” Avery said, still holding me. “This hasn’t happened before. But that doesn’t matter, because you’re upset I think. Wanna talk about it?”

“Sorry… I don’t mean to bother you… It’s just all this talk of babies and things make me aware of my body and how wrong it is…”

“I wish you didn’t have to feel like that. It’s stupid and bad.”

They hugged me even tighter and I just leaned against them, enjoying their presence. They were no nice… Cute too… Maybe they could be— I stopped myself, what was I thinking? Were they still reading my mind? Had they caught my dirty thought?

I focused on elephants. Repeating the words over and over.

“You feeling better?” Avery asked.

I nodded and let go. They were looking at my and my skin turned burning hot. “Let’s go back?” I proposed, muttering the words. I tried to look further from their gaze, my eyes going down. I saw their hand and had an idea… I didn’t think before saying it out loud.

“Can I hold your hand?” I asked.

They looked toward me for a moment before nodding shyly. I brought my hand closer to them and theirs brushed against mine for a moment, our fingers lacing together. They held on tightly, it felt so nice…

“Let’s go back now.” I said, a smile breaking through.

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Unruly: Part VII

Several hours later, I woke when I felt a presence nearby. My head didn’t feel right and I instantly could recognize what was happening. I knew I’d been pushing myself too much and that this was going to happen. I just didn’t think I’d be around others when it did. I also thought that I’d be able to overcome it this time. Unfortunately, my own hunger was just feeding into it more and more.

When I saw light before me, I couldn’t remember where I was. My mind felt like fog and I couldn’t place a name to the other student who was just sitting at the table minding his own business. I did my best to try and keep myself in order and go over to make some coffee. It was going to happen eventually, though. I couldn’t hold it off forever. I was much too exhausted, anyway.

“Hey.” He said with total disinterest.

“Yeah?” I looked over at him, the name still not coming to me.

“Just saying hi…I’m Ryland, if you haven’t heard.” He said, his tone revealing he was on guard.

At that time, someone else had come into the room as well, but I couldn’t break my focus. For some reason, I now saw Ryland as a target along with the other one he’d been with last night. The hunger I felt was just unreal and it was then I knew I had no control anymore. My other side had its own ideas and I had no say in it. I’d just have to pick up the pieces later…if there were any, that is.

“I know who you are. You had that totally delicious-looking shadow last night, yeah? Where’s he at?” I asked the second the last bit of my guard was forced down. It kept showing me flashbacks of Kioshi and how vulnerable he’d been.

“Delicious?” Ryland stared at me in disbelief and with anger in his eyes. “You’re like four years older than us, you creep…”

“Oh, there’s no need for that. Just stating the obvious.”

“Well, don’t you dare make a move at Kioshi.” He stood up, clearly angry.

“Or…What?” I smirked, a part of me loving this kind of attention.

“What is wrong with you?”

“Who says there’s something wrong with me?” I asked, my voice still lighthearted despite all this.

The last thing I saw was Ryland standing up and then my mind once again covered over by haze. I thought that would’ve been the end of it and maybe he had some sort of ability that could overcome this terrible other personality of mine. It felt like hours had passed while I was in that fog until it cleared up a bit. That same feeling was there, too, meaning my other half wasn’t done with me yet…

I came to and took in what happened. The confusion and lack of answers ticked me off. Ryland had also gone. I tried to put up a fight when I noticed that Nalar had came downstairs and I’d wandered over to him. Things were going to just get worse…I hoped he’d forgive me after all of this.

“Oh, hey there, hot stuff…” I couldn’t believe what I was saying.

“Had an epiphany about me during the night?” He grinned before going over to the other side of the counter. “Someone’s messy.”

“Epiwhat? You’re really funny, mister.” Shut up! Shut up!

Nalar laughed, brushing it off. “You would think as a human you would have a better mastery of English then I have.”

“Welllll, I’m sooo sorry. Maybe just tell me what it means, yeah?”

He looked at me and then to the other student who’d joined us. I think it was Leo, but I wasn’t sure.

“Bardiche, scan for dimensional anomaly, I believe I may have been transported to another earth.”

“Sir, I must remind you that is not one of my current functions.” The weapon replied and my attention went to the voice.

“I was joking…” He said back to it.

“Ooo…Who’s that handsome voice?” I said, my stupid other half revealing a lot more than they, or anyone would ever need to know.

I was caught off-guard when I was grabbed and held against the counter by him. “You are either a terrible imposter, or playing a game with me that I do not enjoy.” He snarled.

“My, my. Aren’t you a little rough? Are you suuuure that’s good for you?” I said, that stupid smirk still on my face.

He took the weapon in his hands. “Force Blade activated.” The weapon says and a thin forcefield axehead formed at the edge of it.

“Oh, you’re a fighter, are you? I’m sure you’ll show me a good time in that case, yeah?” I really wanted this to just be over already…

I didn’t even get that last word out as I’d been thrown down on the ground, with Bardiche inches away from me. “Firing mode, ionic.”

“Yes, Sir.” The weapon reconfigured itself.

“What game are you playing?” He asked in a serious tone.

“Clearly one you’re losing, mister…” I glanced at the weapon and felt the familiar anticipation in the form of lightning run up my arms.

“Woah, man,” Leo’s voice could be heard coming from somewhere. “What’s going on here?”

Nalar took notice to what was happening and fired his weapon without remorse. I would’ve let it hit me if I had even an ounce of control, as it definitely would’ve been enough for me to regain control. My other half saw this coming and got out of the way, seemingly taking note of Nalar’s inexperience in battle.

“So, I assume you’re taking this serious, dear? One of us has to, yeah?” My guard rose and excitement filled my mind along with all the other hellish nonsense that was taking place there.

“Seriously, guys…? It’s way too damn early for this crap.” Leo groaned from annoyance.

Nalar’s expression had gone cold as he came in close and fired again. I had enough control at that point to hold myself down and take the hit point blank. My other half attempted to block it with the limiters on my arms, which Bardiche ended up shattering them from it’s might. I was also thrown back a bit and I expected to regain myself, but for some reason, it only entertained my other side even more.

“You know, I once knew someone like you. Killed him dead, I did!” I said with excitement and this had me wondering just who the hell I was even talking about.

“Is that all you’ve got? Even he gave more of an effort.”

When he fired again, my grip on myself slipped away. It didn’t allow me to get hit this time. Right now, it was planning to get a hold of Bardiche to use as explosion-fodder. I felt sick just thinking about doing such a thing!

Fortunately, it all came to a stop once a number of blades appeared in front of us. “If you two are going to fight, do it outside.” Leo said in a tired, yet ticked voice.

“Would you mind helping me get this idiot cold?” Nalar says to Leo, a little annoyed. “So I can get his stupid head checked?”

When I felt it stare down the swords, I felt something strange, yet familiar. Something like this had happened before? For some reason, my other half finally stood down and I regained control of myself. The fog in my mind came quickly after and my recollection of what had just happened was wiped clean.

I wasn’t sure how long I had been out, but I assumed it must’ve only been a few seconds as I saw Nalar and Leo in front of me, both standing at the ready with their weapons out. I had no idea what was going on and I backed away. It must’ve taken over…that was the only explanation I could come up with right now.

“Uh…what…are you two doing?” I asked, hoping that my suspicions weren’t correct.

“Trying to stop two kids from destroying the kitchen.” Leo groaned as he touched his head. “Can you please just not…?” He shook his head and looked over at Nalar and I.

“What are you even talking about, hero?” Feeling some rather intense pain, I looked down and saw some pretty serious-looking burns all over my arms where the limiters would usually be. “What…happened here?” I asked out of disbelief.

Nalar relaxed slightly. “You were being aggravating and aggressive, you even did something to anger Ryland by the looks of how you were when I found you.”

I took a moment to process this. The swords Leo had summoned faded away. Nalar forced me to my feet while looking bothered and annoyed. “We’re getting your brain checked.”

“Ow, geez…what’s wrong with you? I don’t remember doing anything.” I flinched from the burns being touched.

Nalar’s expression relaxed slightly. He took out something from his pocket which seemed to be like some kind of spray. It stung a little when it made contact with the burns, but the sensation along with the pain died down quickly.

“Good. And sorry about being a bit grumpy, Nalar. Had a long night and seeing a fight this early doesn’t help.” Leo said, for once his voice was oddly reassuring.

“Better?”

“Yeah, a little…thanks. Everything’s all fuzzy…” I rubbed my head and felt a strong headache coming on.

“Come, let’s get you to the medic. Maybe a chaplain, exorcise whatever that was that was controlling you.”

“Um…controlling? No, that was…he’s a part of me. I’m sorry you had to see that.” I said in the most apologetic way I could manage.

I saw Leo take off at this point, not saying anything else. I didn’t think he’d be one to see me like that, either. There was a bit of shame in the back of my mind whenever I thought about it.

“I’m not taking a no.” Nalar said, pushing me towards the door.

“There is nothing wrong with me, that sort of thing always happens.” I tried to convince him even though I knew it was pretty freaking pointless.

“Nine.” He snarled in a way which had me give in.

“Okay…I’ll…go along with it…” I replied as the fatigue started to take its toll on me.

Unruly: Part VI

When I woke up, I was in the living room, or one of them at least. It took me a second or two to remember what had happened. I’d met a few of the others after talking with that girl. Her name escaped me currently. Her kindness still put me off and I didn’t want to risk anything else happening, so I’d decided to keep my distance from her. I didn’t like seeing such genuine purity in someone. It had me thinking I was hallucinating, or something.  Also, I couldn’t see how a person like that could exist in a world like this. I get someone could be as blind as Leo, but that girl made no sense to me at all.

I checked the time and noticed that I’d slept a good few hours. I doubted if I could get anymore in that night and went into the kitchen for another round of coffee. Once again, I’d seen the very same thing in my dreams. I was still shaking from it, but this died down once I felt the familiar warmth of the cup in my hands. Taking in the silence, I enjoyed the peace somewhat. It didn’t last though, as someone came downstairs and poured a cup for themselves.

“Can’t sleep, either?”

“Yeah…” I replied, not paying much attention to who it was.

“It’s been four years and I still haven’t adjusted to the days on this world.”

I then realized his voice was familiar and saw that it was Nalar standing there without a shirt on. I did my best not to stare, but my face betrayed me before I could control my stupid emotions.

“Sleep is for the weak.” I mumbled, trying to hide the redness in my face.

“Is everything alright?”

“Yep. Great. Just fine.”

“If you say so. Tell me, what do you do on these sleepless night?”

“I do a lot of thinking. Too much of it. What about you?” I replied, not really wanting to go into the details.

“Usually, find someone to mate with.” He said without an ounce of shame. “Or get high.” He then raised the coffee cup.

“Oh…You sure are honest, hah. And , uhh…coffee makes you high?”

“My species, we believe in being open about these things. And Caffeine has a quite enjoyable effect on my species, makes us happy and excitable, although not much with merely coffee.”

“Ah. What else will do it for you, then?”

“I once drank one of those energy drink as you call them, I was quite…affectionate. I also spent an hour amazed at the wallpaper.”

“Heh, sounds like a good time.” I gave a faint smile.

“Not that I need help to be affectionate, just ask Kayla.” He grinned in a sly way.

“Oh, right. I heard most people need alcohol to feel that way…?” I wasn’t sure if I’d even met the person he’d mentioned, but decided to leave it be as he might give too much information about what happened between them.

“You have heard that most humans require alcohol to mate?”

“No, to feel affectionate, I mean. Like some would have…doubts whether to just hook up with someone they just met, let alone let their guard down in front of them.”

“That’s one place where our species differ.”

“There’s so much I don’t know about you. Pretty much everything they told me about, uh, the “Invaders” has turned out to be nonsense.”

“Then ask away, it is not like I have anything else to do.”

“What about…what was its name? Brad…no…Bardiche?” I struggled to remember what name he’d given it. “I’m sure he took a hit after fighting Rook.”

“I’ve already seen to him. He’s fine, he’s very sturdy.”

“Of course. Um…” Again, my mind kept pulling a blank, the lack of sleep probably getting to me a little. “Wait, um…I guess I shouldn’t be calling you “Invaders”, right? I don’t remember what they’d said other than that…”

“We’re called Tzari. That would do.”

“Sounds really cool. How far away is your…planet?”

“About a thousand light years away, took us two of your years to cross the span between stars.”

“Wow. So, like…why come to Earth? They’d told me that you all were invading, but not why.”

“Well, it wasn’t exactly my decision.” Nalar laughs. “The higher ups wanted to uplift your species, bring you into the fold, end your conflict and division.”

“That would’ve been for the best, I think…I still stand by my opinion of some people getting what they deserve.” My voice took a bitter tone.

“Living here has been hard at times, it’s very different. I was confused the first time I had to purchase something.”

“It’s really shitty if you’re unlucky, too. I recall sometime in the past, I had decided to bail on those I worked for That time I spent on my own was…well fuck, even worse!” My memories from that time were blurry, but I remembered feeling cold, hungry and alone.

“I could return back to the settlement, but I prefer it out here, so much to discover.” Nalar said with fondness in his eyes.

“I’m sure you’ll get the time to see it all.” I shrugged while looking away.

I knew I’d never be free from those I worked for. They were sure to remind me of this at any given moment. It just made me wonder even more why they’d let me come here in the first place. Was it all some kind of joke? Because, I knew it as fact that they’d never let someone like me go.

“What about you? Now that you’re away from your superior, what will you do?”

“Hah…I won’t ever be free of them. It’s a nice thought, though.” I scratched at the collar which served as a reminder of my fate.

“What’s the collar for?” Nalar asked once he noticed I was irritated by it.

I just stared at him at first. It didn’t really look that out of place, did it? Maybe all my scratching at it would have the stupid thing stick out eventually.

“Uhh…It’s so I…uh…behave, I guess.” I avoided his gaze. I already knew he didn’t approve.

“Why don’t you remove it?”

“I don’t think I can. It’ll be much worse if I do…”

“Maybe I could help, deactivate it?”

“They’ll know. I think the guy they have watching me is a tinkerer. Thank…you, though. The offer means a lot.” Looking down, I realized it made more and more sense why they’d have a guy like Turner watch a wreck like me.

“I could shoot him with Bardiche, I need to test out the ionic stunner.” Nalar suggested and I wasn’t sure if he was serious or not.

“You’re…really funny, you know that?” I sighed, not even bothering to muse the thought in my mind.

“I did not intent that as a joke, but I shall accept the compliment.”

“I mean, you’re a good person is what I was trying to say.”

“Lord Kiorga would probably disagree. I’m fairly certain she approved my application just to keep me on a leash.”

“I’m still not sure why they even let me come here…Like, the last thing you let someone like me do it…Just let them outside and be around other people…” I continued, my voice going low. “I feel like I’ve done something horrible…”

“What’s that?”

“I don’t know, but it’s why I haven’t been able to get much sleep. I keep seeing myself kill this hero over and over…It’s freaking exhausting, yet I can’t shake the feeling that I might have actually done it.”

“It may be nothing but a dream, I had a dream I was mating with Raskhan himself, did not make it true. I’m sure there would have been a reason if you had.”

“I don’t know who that is. I’m clueless with that sort of thing, remember? As for the dream stuff, I gotta figure it out soon…”

“Our supreme leader, he’s quite attractive…Very tall and strong in build.”

“Ah, so he looks like you?” I said before I realized how stupid my words sounded.

“Not much, he is a Rangrol, I’m a Qurhal.”

“O-Oh…Right.” I looked away, not knowing what any of that meant.

“But then again, I’ve heard we all looks alike to humans.”

“No, I didn’t mean it like that, I…nevermind, it was stupid.”

“No offence taken, we are different species, perhaps we have different way to recognize individuals. I’ve learned that Venusians identify each other by scent rather than sight, hence their close similarities.”

“Not sure if I’ve met one of those yet or not.”

“Big and blue creatures that look like earth lizards.”

“Hrm…I can’t remember anything. It’s kind of overstimulating being around so many people so suddenly. I may as well have just walked past one recently and not know it…” I said, trying to remember, but once again I came up with nothing.

“Are you alright, Nine?”

“Eh, I don’t know…I think I’ve bothered you enough for one night, don’t you think?”

“Well, it’s talking to you or staring at the walls all alone.” Nalar said in a way which had me feeling a little sad for him.

“I don’t know what’s better.” I said bitterly. Surely, there were other ways he could be spending his time other than talking to trash fire like me.

“You certainly are better looking, that is for sure.”

I said nothing and looked at him in disbelief. “I don’t get you at all…”

“In part the feeling is mutual, you are somewhat of an enigma.”

“What makes you say that?”

“The way you act, your mysterious masters, your attitude.”

“Oh, I doubt any of that’s interesting.” I said even though I didn’t want to talk about it any more than I already had…

“I disagree with you.”

“You’re just being nice.” I sighed from frustration.

“Others would say I’m just trying to get into your pants, but I do genuinely find you interesting. And adorable. I want to chew those silly ears of yours…That might be the coffee speaking.”

“That is most likely the coffee…” At least, I sure hoped it was…

“I have not had that much.”

“Oh…” I felt quite embarrassed and my face showed it before I had any objections.

“I better stop, I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”

“No…I just don’t know how to take that sort of comment. Like I’ve said, I’ve mostly dealt with people who think I’m a burden to be around.”

“Well, I do not.”

“I…well…thanks.” I said, too tired to disagree with him.

Nalar said he was going to stay up for a bit longer, but I really was exhausted and decided it was better to try and get some more sleep. I didn’t have much time to think about our conversation as I’d fallen asleep the second I found my way over to the couch.

Unruly: Part V

After I got through the door, I was too tired to even try the stairs and contemplated just passing out on the couch in an attempt to get some sleep. I felt sore once I sat down and shifted uncomfortably. I’d wandered into the kitchen and was about to give up and try going upstairs when another student walked into the room. She wasn’t familiar and greeted me with a smile which I found odd and off-putting.

“Hey, there.”

“Yeah?” I really didn’t feel like talking about the crap day I’d had.

“How did you like your first day?”

“Was fine.” I cringed a little and looked away.

“Something wrong?” She asked with genuine concern.

“No.”

She took a seat across from me. “You can talk to me. I’m a good listener. I even have four ears.” She said as if it were a joke.

I didn’t quite get it until I noticed a ghost-like figure beside her.

“What…What was that? Don’t tell me this place is haunted…”

“Oh, sorry, I thought everyone saw me fight Rook.” The ghost figure appeared next to her. “This is my power, Oversoul.”

“Right, sorry. I have a lot on my mind.” I couldn’t remember much about the combat class other than my own pitiful failure.

“You can let it out if you need to. I think it’s just me and you anyway.”

“Uhh…I don’t know…” I looked around the room, feeling a little nervous.

“Whatever you say stays between us. But, I won’t force you. I just want you to know I’m here if you need to vent. Everyone needs to from time to time.”

“Why would you do that for a stranger?”

The girl smiles. “You don’t need a reason to help people. Whether you’re a stranger or my closest friend, I want to help you. It’s just what I want.”

“What’s in it for you?” I stared at her skeptically.

“I would like to say nothing, but honestly I feel good when I know someone else feels better because of me. It’s why I wanted to become a hero.”

“Right.” I sighed and relaxed a bit. “I guess that’s a noble cause.”

“I’m glad you think so, but I don’t feel noble.”

“Would be hard to have that and not also feel a bit of pride, I think. Anyway, you are…who? I don’t believe we’ve met.”

“I think everyone has a bit of pride. Not so much as Leo but…” She stands up and holds her hand out to me. “Anyway, I’m Vicky.”

I stared at her hand, unsure of what to do. I was probably supposed to do something as she was staring at me expectantly, but nothing came to mind.

“Uh, I go by Nine, it seems. It’s nice to meet you.” I nodded to her.

She took the hint and lowered her hand. “Well, it’s good to formally meet you, Nine.”

“Yeah, likewise. Sorry, my manners are a bit rusty…” I scratched the back of my head of out embarrassment.

“Well, I think you’re doing fine so far.”

“Uh, thanks…So, what was that thing before? Oversoul, you called it?”

“It’s…well it’s kind of like my soul given physical form. Would you like to see it again?”

“Sure.” I did my best to give a genuine smile.

Vicky focused and summoned Oversoul. It seemed like a bundle of energy somehow given life. “Feel free to touch her. What’s your ability, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Oh…it certainly is polite…?” I asked, noticing that it had pulled out a chair. “As for the touching thing, I think I’ll pass. I’d rather not corrupt something so pure.”

She laughed a bit. “I doubt a touch from you would corrupt anything.”

“Hm, a lot of people have thought the same thing…”

“Well, don’t sorry. I feel like I’m pretty safe. Want to talk about it?” She said, dismissing Oversoul.

“What do you have in mind?” I asked, hoping she wouldn’t pry too much.

“Why do you feel you’ll corrupt me?” She asked, sending Oversoul into the kitchen for something.

“Oh, I…I’ve done a lot of things in my past that some would consider to be villainous. My abilities made the work easy, but it still haunts me.”

She took a serious expression. “I don’t know what those things were -not do I need to – but I think it doesn’t matter anymore.” Vicky took the glass from Oversoul before it vanished. “All that matters is what you do from here on out.”

I took a moment to think. “Yeah, I wish things were that easy. I feel like I’ve done something terrible. The dreams are having me lose sleep.”

“If you have, don’t you think it’s more important that you make things count from now on? To make up for everything? Of course, I don’t know what you’ve been through and I won’t pretend to. I just think you could become something great. You’re here, aren’t you?”

“I still don’t know why I’m here. I’m starting to think that the company is just fucking with me at this point.” I replied bitterly.

“I don’t think it matters why you came here, just that you made it here.”

“Mhh…” I still didn’t buy it and looked away from her, my own thoughts catching my attention.

It was quiet for a moment before I heard others come down the stairs. They weren’t familiar, either. One of them seemingly hid behind the other. I couldn’t hear what they’d been talking about, but the one in front seemed to light up upon seeing us.

“Vicky sure-Oh, speak of the devil.” They waved to her.

“Hey, Ryland!” Vicky waves back, smiling.

“Hey Vicky, hey…Ivan was it?” Ryland asks, coming over to us, the other student seemingly hiding behind him.

“Uhh…I prefer Nine, thanks.”

“Okay…” I saw him raise an eyebrow at my answer and I looked away, not really wanting to engage with him.

“Kioshi, right? Hey, I’m Vicky.” She greets the other student who was still behind Ryland.

“Hi-i.” The one who I assumed to be Kioshi gave a quick nod to her, but nothing else.

“Did you ever go to see the doctor, Ryland?”

“Yeah.” Was all he answered, clearly he didn’t want to talk about it.

“Sorry, should I have not said anything?”

Kioshi asked Ryland something but I couldn’t hear it. Their conversation didn’t interest me much, anyways. I was too exhausted to focus on too much right now.

“Good.” Vicky said, catching my attention as I’d sort-of dozed off for a second or two there. “Would you two like to sit down? I think everyone else went off to do their own things.”

“Sure.” Ryland replied. “What were you two doing?”

“Nothing important.” I mumbled, still not wanting to talk.

“Just talking to pass the time.” Vicky gave me a reassuring smile which I didn’t really understand what the point of it was. “So, I don’t think we’ve formerly met, Kioshi. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Yeah. Nice to meet you, too.” Kioshi gave a small smile in return.

“Hey.” I gave him a quick glance and he returned with a nod.

“Are you guys liking Ravenhold so far?” Vicky asked.

“It’s strange. Rook is mean.” Kioshi said.

“Yeah, I totally agree with you there.” She laughed a little.

“Yeah, a lot of heroes are dicks.” I mumbled, knowing I should’ve at least expected Rook to have been that way seeing as he was a known hero.

“It’s something, not sure what I was expecting.” Ryland shrugged. “At least there’s nice people here.”

“And some really nice teachers. I think it’ll only get better, though. The first day is always tough.”

“Yeah.” Ryland nodded. “So, you guys want to do something? We could play a game or something…”

“Did you have anything in mind?” Vicky asked with excitement clear in her voice.

“I think I saw some board games in the living room?” Ryland replied.

Vicky looked over at Kioshi and then to me. “What do you guys say? What to play a board game?”

“I guess. I doubt I’ll be getting any sleep anyway.”

Kioshi just nodded and they followed Ryland closely while we went over to the living room. He looked through the games, frowning at some. “How about Risk? I don’t feel like Scrabble or Trivia Pursuit would be fair.”

I didn’t really know what any of those these as I didn’t recall playing such a thing before. I chose to mostly just follow along with what the others were doing while holding open my tired eyelids.

“Truthfully…I’ve never played any of them. Father had me training too much to play. So, I’m good with anything.” Vicky said, looking somewhat ashamed.

“I’ve never heard of any of them…” I admitted even though I probably wasn’t missing out on much.

“How is it played.?” Kioshi asked.

“Well, it’s a war game, you need to take control of the world-” Ryland said before going over the rules.

“Oh, so we get to be supervillains? Sounds awesome.” I said, liking that idea.

“More like conquerors, it seems.” Vicky said. “I’m interested.”

“Yeah, you’re like a general, or something.” Ryland replied.

Kioshi looked confused still.

“Looks like you’re our guide, Ryland.” Vicky said with a laugh.

“Okay. Let’s set up and I’ll teach you as we go?” Ryland offered.

“Sounds good.” Vicky said with a smile.

Kioshi just nodded again.

The game was long and tedious. I barely gave enough effort to pass for being actually interested in what was going on. The only thing that surprised me was that somehow, Kioshi had ended up winning in the end.

“Well, congratulations Kioshi. You’re official the ruler of two thirds of the world.” Ryland says with a laugh. “It’s getting late, I think we should call it a night?”

Vicky seems distracted by something for a moment before replying. “Yeah, I’ve gotta find my roommate anyway. Good work, though Kioshi.”

“Thank you.” Kioshi says before blushing and looking away.

“Let’s play again sometime?” Vicky offered.

“You had some serious dice skills and sure.” Ryland said with a grin.

“It was good meeting you Kioshi. Don’t be afraid to come see me or just say hi.” Vicky said with another smile.

Kioshi returned her kind gesture. “You’re nice.”

Vicky turned to Ryland and I. “The same goes for you two as well.”

“Thanks.”

I blinked awake after I realized I’d been in an out of sleeping while they’d been talking.

“Save it for bed, ok?” Vicky waves to us. “Goodnight guys.”

“Somebody needs coffee.” Ryland laughed.

I mumbled something to him before I dozed off again.

Kioshi Origin 1

December 25th 2015, Early Morning

“You useless piece of shit!” A shout shattered the silence and I woke up as Nana was shoved into the room.

I pushed myself to an upright position just in time to see Boss throw Nana against the table. She cried out and collapsed to the ground. I started to stand but Boss pointed his shaking finger at me, “Don’t you move, boy.”

I froze and sunk to my knees as Boss dragged Nana to her feet by her neck. “You think you’re more important than my reputation, kid?” Nana didn’t struggle, struggling only made things worse. I felt my nails dig into my knees. In the silence of the night, I could hear her gasps for breath in between his words. “You’re not even worth the upkeep!” Even in the darkness, even with the few feet of distance I could see the veins on the back of his hand pop out as he tightened his grip on her throat. Her legs started to kick and she started to claw at his forearm.

She’s going to die.

The thought had barely come to my mind before I transported onto Boss’s back, my arms wrapped around his neck, squeezing tightly. Nana fell to the ground and for some reason I didn’t know, I still held onto Boss. Even as he pulled on my arms and backed up, slamming me into the wall. Part of me, a large part of me, was still kneeling and watching everything unfold. I didn’t feel any pain, but even still I think I was crying. Or maybe I just wanted to. My vision narrowed until all I saw was a small square of Boss’s dark brown hair and my skin burned were my forearms touched his neck. I held on and held on and held on.

Until I heard my name being called over and over, “Kioshi! Kioshi! Kioshi!” I realized the burn on arms was a cold one and there were warm hands on my back. I blinked a few times. Boss was under me, not moving. Nana was shaking my shoulders and calling my name, tears streaming down her cheeks. “Kioshi, he’s dead!”

I stood up, stumbled on legs that weren’t all there, and collapsed against Nana. Wrapping my arms around her and squeezing tightly, I transported us away.

December 25th 2015, Early Evening

I woke up with my head in Nana’s lap. Her body hunched over me, shielding my head from the rain. When her eyes locked with mine, tears started pouring, “What are we going to do?”

I had no answer so I rolled over, wrapped my arms around her, and buried my face in her stomach…

“Rain on Christmas fucking sucks!” The sound of a young man’s voice, startled me into squeezing Nana tighter and turning us both unseeable. But I was still tired from transporting us and the unseeability wore off quickly and the two teenage boys saw us as they rounded the street corner. They stopped, “Are you okay?” the blonde one asked.

I jumped to my feet, holding Nana’s hand, dragging her with me as I started to run.

But I hadn’t run since before Boss, since before the Syndicate, since before my legs became like a cat’s. Pain tore through my legs and I fell, pulling Nana down with me. My heart beat rapidly as their footsteps quickly chased us down. The blonde one, his pale face red with cold, put a gloved hand on my shoulder, “Are you okay? Let us help you.”

December 26th 2015, Morning

I sat on the bathroom floor with my back against the sink as Nana threw up into the toilet next to me. Quiet voices drifted through the door, “We can’t just keep useless stray.”

“Come on, Reese. The girl is pregnant.”

“All the more reason to kick them out now! Cause we sure as hell don’t have room for three!”

“Kioshi?” Nana asked, her voice rough from the burn of puke. “I’m not going back. If they don’t let us stay, then I choose to die.”

I couldn’t respond to her…

I heard the sound of a palm connecting with skin, “If I had said that when you needed the Phantoms, where do you think you’d be now?” An unfamiliar woman’s voice cut through me. I found myself standing up and starting for the bathroom door, wanting to listen closer. As I reached my hand out for the door, it was thrown open and in strode a woman with tan skin and frizzy gray hair. “Welcome to the Phantom’s! Please call me Mother!”

December 27th 2015, Afternoon

I sat on the double bed Nana and I now shared in the Phantom’s worn down home, Nana’s head in my lap. Her long black hair and rabbit ears splayed across my legs as she hugged my thigh as she slept.

A light knock came at our bedroom door. I put a hand over Nana’s ears and answered, “Yes?”

The door opened slowly and the blonde one, Aaron, poked his head into the room. “Hey Kioshi, Nana – Oh.” His voice became softer when he saw Nana laying down. “I have some clothes for you guys.” He set a bag down and closed the door behind him.

January 1st 2016, Midnight

Sparkling grape juice spilled over my hand as Reese clinked his glass against mine. “Happy New Years and welcome to the Phantoms!” I flinched at the loud laugh Reese barked out.

He’s drunk.

Drunks tend to be rougher.

I scooted my chair a little bit away from him, closer to Nana, who was staring down at the worn table, her glass of sparkling grape juice untouched in front of her.

My heart jumped at the sound of a glass being put down too harshly. I looked across the table at “Mother”. Her hand held her glass loosely and she watched me intensely, her gray eyes cold and unblinking.

January 1st 2015, Early Afternoon

I didn’t sleep. As “Mother”, Aaron, and Nana went to bed shortly after one in the morning and Reese passed out drunk on the worn out couch in the living room right off the dining room, I stayed awake. Sitting at the table. Even when Reese woke up at four and passed me on his way to bed, I stayed.

We were useless. Dead weight. What could we even do for them, none of them even seemed to want to fuck us. The room around me was cold and the furniture old and falling to pieces. They don’t have that much and they are sharing it with us. I put my hand over my crotch. What else could they want from us? What else am I good for?

The light filtered through the broken blinds as dawn broke. And I still sat. As the sun climbed higher and the sounds of the day happened outside, I sat.

After a few hours, the coffee maker began to drip in the kitchen behind me. “Kioshi? Have you been here all night?” Aaron’s voice was tired and hoarse as he called to me from the  kitchen. I turned around to face him.

He wore an old stained T-shirt and boxers. His blonde hair was messy, falling into his eyes and his slender fingers were wrapped around a chipped coffee mug. I’d never seen him not wearing gloves.

“Have you been here all night?” He repeated, coming closer. I nodded and he frowned. “Is everything okay?”

“What do you want from us?”

He set his mug down on the table, rubbing the back of his neck and shaking his head. “Nothing really… I mean if you want to stay forever, you’ll have to pull your own weight eventually, but we’ll teach you everything you need to know.” He smiled down at me, the dimples on his cheeks so deep I thought I might get lost in them.

“All I’ve ever been useful for is sex…”

The chair beside me creaked as Aaron collapsed into it. I stared at his bare thighs as he folded his legs underneath himself. “Mother was right… You’re one of the Syndicate’s… Hey, look at me!” He snapped his fingers in front of my face, pulling my eyes up to meet his serious, determined ones. “The people who told you that are fucking liars, okay? You are worth so much more.” His eyes frosted over, “And if anyone touches you without your permission ever again… I will kill them myself.”

The Valkyrie’s Daughters: Part VI

The Valkyrie’s Daughters

Part VI:  Clique

Avery and I went to the cafeteria and looked around the options. Much to my dismay, they didn’t have curry, so I joined Avery in the fast food line.

“What are you getting?” I asked them.

“They have chicken nuggets.” They said with a smile, it came their turn and they ordered. “Look at them, this one looks like a heart!” They said receiving their plate, all happy and bouncy. “Is it bad if I only eat these and don’t get anything else?”

“Maybe a little. But if it’s just this once, it’s okay.” I laughed. “No curry here so I guess I’ll have some nuggets too.” The cook took my order along with fries, but they didn’t have curry ketchup, just the regular kind, which was a shame. “Do you see anyone?” I asked, once I had my food.

“Yeah, there’s my roommate, Drew. Do you want to meet her? She’s really awesome and she has these fire powers that are so amazing. She lit a candle from across the room yesterday. That was awesome. But then I smelled it and it gave me a headache and we had to put it out.” They spoke so quickly and excitedly, it was adorable. “Anyways, let’s go say hi!”

They started walking and we reached Drew’s table. She was all by herself, others were on the same long table a few seats away though. Drew was black like me, but unlike me her hair was the more the kinky type and made into little braids.

She was wearing dark blue jeans, a purple tank top under a green jacket, high heeled boots and her eyes had purple eyeshadow. A long crystal necklace hung from her neck, plunging toward her cleavage. She had style, I was kind of jealous.

“Hey Drew!” Avery said. “This is my new friend Michelle. Can we sit with you?”

Drew smiled at us, looking up from her wonton soup. “Hi Avery! Hi Michelle, nice to meet you, I’m Drew. Of course you can sit here. I was looking for you earlier but didn’t see you.”

“We took a detour at the house. I needed to change.” I explained.

“Drew, look! Michelle gave me a chewy necklace!” Avery added, pulling the necklace from around their neck closer to Drew.

“Okay, that’s cool.” She said to me, then looked at Avery. “That’s really neat Avery!” She then looked back at me. “How are you enjoying Ravenhold, Michelle?”

I nodded.  “I love it. I always wanted to be a hero, but I didn’t have powers until a week ago.”

Someone else came to our side. They were also black and they had this amazing multi colored afro. Their clothes were odd and patchworked. “Hi! Mind if I sit with you guys!” They asked. They carried this plate with a huge pile of food on it.

“Hey Riley!” Drew said.

“Hey!” I waved quickly at them. “What did you get?”

They sat down and for a moment I saw something on the corner of my eyes, like there was something on their shoulder, but when I looked at it there wasn’t anything there…

“Oh a little bit of everything. I’ve never seen this much variety in one place!” Riley said. “Michelle, right?”

They extended a hand, I looked at it for a moment before I realized they wanted me to shake it. I took it and shook it awkwardly.

“Riley! All my friends are here with me, this is great.” Avery said with a little excited clap. “Did you get chicken nuggets? They’re really tasty, like even tastier than my favourite ones from home.”

I took one of the nugget and popped it into my mouth. They were great. “Avery’s right.”

“Yes, I’m glad they’re good!” They dug around their mountain of food until they got to the nuggets.

We all enjoyed our meal for a moment. “What do you all think about the school?” I then asked.

“Everyone is so cool!” Riley said between two bites.

“Oh, can Michelle bake the cookies with us?” Avery asked.

“The more the merrier!” Riley said.

I looked at them and Avery explained. “We were going to have a cookie baking party after school. We’re making all kinds of cookies. Wanna join in?”

I wanted to, but I’ d already promised Ike we’d hang out. “Oh, I already had something planned with Ike this evening. We’re going fishing.”

“Aw, too bad. Maybe some other time. Have fun fishing, though.” Avery said.

“That sounds fun.” Drew said. “We’ll save you some cookies. What’s your favorite?”

“Chewy oatmeal cookies.”

“Awesome!” Drew answered. “I think we were already making some so that works out great!”

“Thanks.” I said with a smile. Fresh oatmeal cookies were like the best cookies ever. Too bad I couldn’t bake. “Do you bake a lot? I don’t know how. I’m not good at cooking.”

“I love to bake!” Riley said. There was a little puff of black smoke over their hands and suddenly they had a tiny notebook in hand. They wrote something and it disappeared in the same manner.

“That’s cool.” I mumbled.

“What? This?” Riley said, doing it again except now they had a bottle of water in their hand.

“Where did you pull it out from?” I asked.

“Hell” They answered. I couldn’t read their tone. Surely that was a joke?

“What?”

Riley shrugged. “At least that’s what Teddy tells me.”

“Teddy?” I asked.

“Not a lot of people can see him so I’m not surprised you can’t but…” They gestured to their shoulder. “My friend Teddy is here. He kinda gave me my powers.”

When they said that, I felt a little bit of tension in the air, it was hard to explain.

Were they teasing me? It was so hard to tell… I looked at Avery. Hoping they might clear things up.

Avery sighed. “Why is this the first time I’ve heard about this, Riley? That’s so cool! Seriously. Why didn’t you tell me this yesterday?”

Riley shrugged. “Just didn’t think to.”

“You seem serious.” Drew said. “I mean, that’s really cool. Hell is real? I mean, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but…wow”

“Ah.” Avery said. “Well, from now on I’m reading your brain to see all the interesting facts you have stored up in there. Like, hey, you made friends with more demons than just Teddy.”

I turned to Avery. “Demons?”

“Yes. But they aren’t bad though!” Riley said.

Demons weren’t real… But Valkyries also weren’t real, but I was one… I really wasn’t sure of what to think anymore. Was this all a prank on me? They didn’t seem the kind to do that… I focused on my fries for a moment. I noticed Avery had already finished her food so I gave them some of my nuggets.

“Thank you for more chicken nuggets, Michelle. You’re my favourite!” Avery said.

I smiled at them. “You’re welcome.” My wings stretched and the next thing I knew the one on Avery’s side wrapped around her shoulder. When I realized what had happened, I pulled the wing away.

Avery giggled. “Michelle, we’ve been over this. Give me your wings back and never let go!”

I blushed at the thought. They wanted me to wing hug them. I’d never had someone want to be close to me like that. I wrapped that wing around their shoulder again, consciously this time.

“Better?” I muttered.

“Much! Thank you.” Avery answered. “They’re so fluffy and soft and warm! Riley, you gotta feel how soft!”

Riley looked at my wings. “They’re so pretty… can I touch them?”

Was it weird to let them? Was it weird to only have Avery? I carefully reached out with my wing over the table. Riley reached out and pet the white feathers.

“Your wings are gorgeous. I’m glad I’ve met you all, you’re so nice and welcoming.” Drew said, I offered her the chance to touch it and she agreed. “They’re soft.” She smiled. “Can you fly?”

“I just grew them last week, I’m still getting used to them and I only learned how to fly yesterday. I can carry people too, I’m strong enough that I lifted Ike into the sky this morning.”

“That’s really cool.” Drew said.

“Avery told me you control fire. That’s pretty cool too.” I said.“Can you fly? Like do a rocket thing some pyrokinetic do?”

“I probably could? I don’t know, I’ve honestly never tried.” She said.

“That’d be cool.”

“Yeah. I have pretty decent control over my powers, but I’ve never really had the chance to practice something big like that. It’s one of the main reasons I wanted to come to Ravenhold.” Drew said.

“How did you all get here?” I asked everyone. “I almost got killed by nazis.”

“I heard of it and applied so I could get away from my parents.” Avery said, looking down. The wing around her shoulder moved to be tighter around them. The move startled them but then they rested against the wing. “You’re my best friend, Michelle. I never had friends before but I’m pretty sure you’re the best one in all of history.”

“I try my best.” I said with a smile.

“I have a mentor and he recommended I come here.” Riley said.

“Ooh, who is it?” I asked. Mentors were rare nowadays, it wasn’t like the old days when to become a superhero you become someone’s sidekick.

“Tohu wa Bohu.”

My eyes went wide. “Tohu wa Bohu? From the Legion?” I squeed at the thought, if Riley was his apprentice, then maybe we’d meet him too!

Riley nodded.

“One of my reasons was kinda like yours Avery.” Drew said after a moment. “My grandmother is really conservative, so it’s a bit hard living with her, seeing as I’m a gay mutant…”

“That’s not good. But here it’s going to be better.” I said.

“I really hope it will be.” Avery said. “I just wish I could forget about them but seeing as that’s literally impossible, I guess I’ll settle for never seeing them again.”

“Me too. Ravenhold seems so much better already.” She said.

There was a little bell ringing and we looked at the source.

“Is that a desert cart?” Avery said.

“Looks like it.” Riley answered.

So we got up and lined up for desert. Hopefully, they had blondies, those were great.

Previous                                                                                                                       Next

The Valkyrie’s Daughters: Part V

The Valkyrie’s Daughters

Part V: A Friend Like Me

Then, someone came toward me, a girl I think, she had short curly blonde hair and was wearing a baggy sweater and jeans.

“Uh, do you mind if I sit with you?” She asked. “I don’t really know anyone and I can’t seem to find my roommate and she’s the only one I really know that well and everyone else seems to have friends and I just really don’t want to talk to a group.”

I nodded a little, not quite verbal. Her presence at least served as a distraction.

“Are you okay? I’m Avery, I got by they/them.” So she was not a girl, I think… They sat down next to me. I noticed they weren’t looking at me, we were both just sort of looking a little off.

“Little shook.” I managed to mutter. “Michelle.”

They nodded. “Is that a stim necklace? I’ve always wanted one but Mom says they’re for freaks. I don’t think you’re a freak though. You seem nice. My parents just don’t get it.”

I nodded and smiled. Most people thought it was weird or gross… Maybe Avery was autistic too?

“My parents are just happy I stopped chewing my shirts.” I managed to say, the words were hard to say though. “Yours sound mean.”

“You’re right. They aren’t very nice. I was happy when I got accepted here. I wish I had one of those to keep myself from chewing my shirts.” The collar of their sweater had chew wear at the collar.”Do you have any other stim stuff?”

I frowned, I did, but not with me. “I have a spare, I don’t use it much, the octopus is just so good. I didn’t bring the rest. It was kind of an emergency exit…”

“Oh, man. Did you run away from a situation? I do that lots. I haven’t quite found a good hiding spot yet, or I’d share it with you.” They shrugged. “Have you seen the book collection in the living room? They have some pretty good ones and books usually help me stop feeling like I want to scream.”

Clearly they were excited by the books. They seemed so nice.

“I didn’t find one yet. And Wycked tried to kill me.”

They looked at me and I felt something odd, like a tingling in my brain.

Was that what I thought it was? “Is that you doing that? My head feels weird…”

“Oh, right, sorry. I didn’t mean to poke around, but you were just very sad and I didn’t think you wanted to talk so I thought that it would be better if I figured it out myself and I just really hate Wycked now so much and ignore her, Michelle. You’re a great girl and I really hope you defeat her one day and become super happy.”

I blinked. How much had they learned from reading my mind? It wasn’t like I had secrets, but it was odd… It had to come in handy, getting to learn stuff about people, being able to tell how they were.

“It does come in handy.” She confirmed out loud with a little laugh. “People tend to get upset about it though…”

“So you can read minds?”

“Yeah. I can also store a ridiculous amount of information. Like, I don’t really forget much anymore unless I really try hard. And I can hear from like kilometres away when I forget to turn it off. What are your powers?”

That sounded so useful, if I had their power, maybe I wouldn’t lose my things or forgot what I was supposed to do all the time. It took me a second to remember to answer her question.

“I fly! And eh… I guess I can hit things.”

“Yours sound better than mine. How could I even fight if I’m just normal? Ha, the one time I’m normal I’d rather be different. Strange.”

I took a moment to think. They were right, telepathy wasn’t the most superheroic power. Lots of villains were psychic, but not a lot of heroes… “That is a problem…” I conceded.

“Yes, I agree. I suppose I could someone who helps from the sidelines with planning and stuff. I just need to figure out how to read minds without people knowing I’m in there.”

“Practicing must be hard, people don’t like psychics.”

“Yes, that’s true. It gets frustrating sometimes. But listening is fun because I can hear heartbeats if I listen really closely, and they’re just so rhythmic and soothing. I like it.”

Maybe I could help. I thought. It wasn’t like I had anything to hide, and beside it’d be easier to be friend if they just knew me right away? I really hoped they were autistic too, I didn’t have any other autistic friend…

“Are you good at flying?” They asked. I’d gone quiet again.

“I only learned yesterday, but I practiced a lot last night.” I said with a smile. Just then, the bell announcing the end of class rang. “I guess we’re free now. I think it’s lunch time.” Just then I had an idea to make friends, hopefully it wasn’t going to be too weird… “Want to go to the house with me before we go to the cafeteria?”

“Yeah, sure. What kinds of food are there at the cafeteria?” They said.

“I don’t know. I hope they have curry, it’s my favorite thing.” I got up and we walked out along with everyone else.

“Maybe they have chicken nuggets? Those are good.”

I laughed a little. I too had my history with chicken nuggets. “I used to eat those all the time when I was young, it was one of the only things I liked.”

“When you were young? Aw man, I feel behind now. I still eat them all the time. They’re the best!”

“I’m better with food. Not so much with crowds and noise.”

“I’m a lot better with food too but chicken nuggets, Michelle. They’re great!”

I had to agree with them. “Nuggets are indeed amazing.” Whenever I’d have a sensitivity episode, nuggets had been one of my go to food along with potatoes and peanut butter sandwiches.

We split from the rest of group and headed to the house, which wasn’t far. We went inside and headed for Freyja and I’s little annex.

“Should I just follow you to your room or wait here or what do I do?” Avery asked.

I looked down at myself. My shirt was sweaty and had a few bloodstains from my cut. “I need to change shirt, so you should wait outside?”

“I’ll be out here waiting.”

I went inside my room and removed my shirt before putting another one on. It took a few minutes to get it correctly, having to get my wings to cooperate and fit inside the slits… When that was done, I looked through my drawer and found just what I wanted. I took it, clenched my hand around it and went back outside.

I came to face her, even looked her in the eye for a moment before focusing my gaze at her neck.

“You said you didn’t have one so I thought you might want it, if it’s not weird, I mean, I barely ever used it.” I handed her what I had gotten to her. It was a little purple rubber flower on a cord. Unlike my octopus, there was no obvious chewing marks. “Is it weird?”

“Are you sure? I don’t think it’s that weird. I would like to wash it before I chew on it though but that’s just because I would be nervous about dust or dirt or something. It’s very pretty. Can I give you a hug to say thanks?”

“Yes. I don’t use it. And I’ll take a hug.” I said. I opened my arms and waited for them.

Avery wrapped their arms around me and squeezed tightly. “I’m happy I made a new friend today! You’re really awesome.”

“You’re welcome!” I said, grinning. “I’m glad to have made friends too, I don’t have a lot back home, just Lina.”

I squeezed them and my wings wrapped themselves around them by instinct.

“Ooh! Your wings are soft and warm!” They said, which got me to realize what they were doing and pull them back.

“They kind of have a mind of their own sometimes.”

“Why did you pull them away? That was great! I loved it! I don’t have many friends either. Just Drew, she’s my roommate, and maybe Riley but I haven’t talked to them much.”

I put my wings back around them. “I don’t want to be overwhelming. How are they?”

“They’re great! It’s like a hug but it’s even better because it’s soft and everywhere. It’s almost as good as my weighted blanket! That reminds me, do you have one? I taught myself how to make them and I could probably make you one. They’re really great. Mine is purple and made with fabric like t-shirts so it’s really soft.”

“I left mine at home, I hope I can get it back soon. Let’s get something to eat now? Maybe we can meet Riley and Drew at the cafeteria.”

“Yeah, sounds good! I’m hungry.” They answered.

“But first, washing the necklace.” I reminded them.

We went into the kitchen and rinsed the flower thoroughly before Avery put it around their neck.

“There! I got it!” They had a huge smile on their face with I matched.

“I’m glad you like it. Now food. If we’re lucky they’ll have curry and nuggets. Maybe a nugget curry!”

“That’d be heaven!”

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