I was confused. Not about my sudden introduction to man-dwarf love—that I could deal with the old fashioned way of pretending it never happened—but by Biadet’s revelation.
She said I had a special ability and that it was being untouchable. What the hell did that mean?
I could be touched in the physical sense. I could be hurt and killed. If she didn’t mean it literally, what did she mean?
You also had to take into consideration that she could be wrong. Or lying. Or just messing with me. It could also be one of those situations where I had to figure it out for myself, because reasons. I really had no idea.
“Do you want to get off me?” asked Jenny, still upset.
I was sitting on her with my hands under her shirt. Her wound was healed and overall things had turned out okay for everyone involved (as long as you didn’t look too closely at the sexual ramifications).
“I think you’re being unfair,” I said as I got up.
“Really? Thanks for the feedback.” Ice cold.
She was being completely unreasonable but sometimes you have to let people think things through at their own speed.
I picked up the spike. Biadet had indicated it was an example of my ability. Did that mean I was the only one who could have used it? Was there some side-effect that would have been detrimental to anyone else holding it when stabbing a dwarf (not a euphemism)? The answer felt close but it was hard to concentrate with Jenny glaring at me.
“We don’t have time for this,” said Laney. “I have a monster to defeat. You will hand over command of the combined forces to me.”
She had hands on hips and an expression of utter confidence on her face. I wished I could feel like that. About anything.
“Laney, no one’s going to follow you into battle. You’re a child with no experience and very little common sense.”
“There is only one way to settle this,” said Laney as she began unbuttoning her jacket. “We shall wrestle for it. The winner will lead the fight against the elf. The loser will bend his knee and follow orders. Agreed?”
“No, not agreed.” I was tired of having to deal with so many pointless distractions and Jenny being pissed off was trying my patience.
“What did she mean by ‘untouchable’, do you think?” I asked, hoping to move past the awkwardness.
“I don’t know,” said Jenny. “Maybe it means you’re dead inside and can’t have honest feelings for other people unless it involves sex with a dwarf.”
Kind of specific, although there was probably a website for people with just that problem.
Untouchable certainly didn’t refer to my emotions. I might not have been the most emotional person, but I still had the full gamut. Happy, angry, sad. That’s all of them, right? And Jenny was very good at bringing them to the surface.
I wasn’t totally oblivious to the way she felt. It didn’t matter if she was justified or not, she was upset. She might not even really know why herself. All she had to work with was an unpleasant feeling and nowhere to put it except in my lap.
And that was okay. If you can’t shit on the person you love, who can you shit on? Sometimes you just need to be a complete ass to someone just to get it out of your system. It required a little selflessness on the part of the recipient. You have to let them be wrong and not point it out. Which isn’t that easy, especially when the usual dynamic is them doing it for you.
“I’m sorry,” I said, careful not to make the mistake of adding ‘but’. “If I’d known it wasn’t you, I never would have touched you. Her.”
“Him,” said Jenny.
I swallowed the urge to argue. Pronouns can be so hurtful. “You’re still connected to my emotions, aren’t you? Can’t you tell how I feel about you?”
Jenny hesitated. Almost there.
“Whatever happens between us, I will al—”
A weight landed on me from behind and I was on the ground, the air knocked out of me. A thin, girly arm (no, not my own) was clamped around my throat, trying to choke me out. I rolled around trying to get Laney off me, but she was stuck to my back with her legs wrapped around my waist.
“Yield! Do you yield?” she cackled gleefully.
I reached out to Jenny, trying to tag her in. She was much better equipped to deal with this kind of thing but she resolutely kept her arms folded.
I managed to get onto all fours with Laney attached like a tortoise shell. I couldn’t breathe. My face was burning hot, my eyes watering so much I couldn’t see. Darkness closed in.
Untouchable. Why couldn’t Biadet have just told me what it meant? My hand was on Laney’s arm. I tried to pull it free but I was too dizzy and her grip was too tight. So, instead, I began healing her. I shoved as much restorative energy into her as I could. If nothing else, perhaps it would cure her of being a lunatic.
The pressure on my throat lessened. Laney fell off me and onto the ground. She rolled onto her back, a scary rictus grin on her face and eyes fully dilated. New weapon, OP Opie, boys.
“That’s only going to make her like you more,” said Jenny.
“What?” I said angrily. “What is it? I know you can’t be this mad about me banging you while you were on a lunch break. So what is it, really?”
She looked ready to lay into me, and then her anger crumbled. Her head dropped. “I let you down. I saw what he was doing and I didn’t stop him. I should have broken free of his control.”
“Ohhh,” I said, relieved. “You feel guilty. That’s why you’re being so horrible to me. That’s fine then. You don’t feel shitty about me, you feel shitty about yourself.”
“And that’s better?”
“Of course. Guys like insecure women. It’s very satisfying making a girl feel better about herself. Much harder to do when the girl’s all confident and comfortable in her own body. Don’t worry, I don’t blame you.”
“I don’t care if you blame me, you fucking idiot,” said Jenny, subtly intimating I’d missed the point. “What if someone comes along who doesn’t let you down? What if she can help you when you need her? You’ll go off with her and no one would blame you.”
So much insecurity, such wow.
“You’re cute when you’re being dumb, you know?” I said, knowing patronising her would only infuriate her more. “Your logic is retarded. It doesn’t matter if someone’s better than you. There’s always going to be someone better. More beautiful, smarter, funnier, better at blowjobs. That’s not why I like you. You don’t have to be the best, you just have to be you.”
Nice work, I thought. Butter her up, make her feel grateful for me allowing her to be with me. Job’s a goodun.
Jenny nodded slowly. “What’s wrong with my blowjobs?”
“Nothing. That wasn’t my point. What I—”
“But they could be better, right?”
You’re in a burning plane and you’re so happy when you find a parachute under your seat, but halfway to the ground you realise you’ve got somebody’s carry-on strapped to your back.
“No. You know what I’m saying. There’s nothing wrong with your blowjobs, but if someone can perform oral sex while juggling a bowling ball, an electric saw and an egg, then people are obviously going to say, there’s a guy who knows how to put on a superior dick sucking performance.”
“Hmm. I see. You envision this better blowjob coming from a guy.”
“What? No. I said ‘guy’ because most jugglers are men. I’m not a latent homosexual, I’m a sexist twat. There is a difference, you know?”
Jenny stepped over Laney, who was still grinning at the sky, and picked up the three gemstones. She held them up like a jeweller inspecting her merchandise. She held two in her fist and held the third up to her face.
“What about you? How did you enjoy being my substitute?”
“To be honest,” said a deep, masculine voice, “I found him a gentle and considerate lover.”
I wasn’t sure if I should be flattered or not.
“Interesting,” said Jenny. “He’s never been gentle with me.”
“That’s because whenever I try to be gentle with you, you tell me to stop fucking like a pansy. Which, A, is homophobic and, B, means you don’t understand how gay sex works.” I snatched the gems from her. “You three, if I hear a single word about this from any of you, I’m throwing you all in the sea.” I put them in my pocket. “Come here.” I grabbed Jenny’s arm and pulled her into a less exposed part of the roof.
“Are you going to be gentle with me?”
“No,” I said.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had sex on top of a castle, but I don’t recommend it. Very drafty.
We left Laney up there—she seemed happy enough—and found the others stuffing their faces, happy and rested.
“You look terrible,” said Claire. “You need to get some sleep.”
“Thanks. Perhaps if everyone wasn’t sucking the life out of me I wouldn’t be drained of all vitality.”
“Does anyone know how to juggle?” asked Jenny. “I need someone to teach me.”
I sat down and started eating with my hands. No spoon in sight. “Before you turn this into brunch and mojitos, can we try to stop the end of the world? Apparently, my superpower is that I’m untouchable. Any ideas what that means?”
Flossie leaned across the table with her hand outstretched. She placed it on my face. “Ah can touch you.”
“Yes, I know. If that’s what it meant, I wouldn’t be asking, would I?”
Flossie poked me in the chest with a finger. “Ah can touch you here, too.”
I slapped her hand away. “Maurice?”
Maurice had his notebook out and was flipping through it. “Yes, I think I understand.”
“You do?” I tried to keep a lid on my excitement, I’d been burned too often.
“I think it’s fate,” he said. “Fate can’t touch you.”
“Okay,” I said. “What does that mean?”
“I’ve noticed that whenever you face something that seems inevitable, you manage to avoid it. Not always for something better, but it’s not what should happen. Two and two doesn’t always mean four.”
Too vague. I needed a solid, practical example.
“I noticed it in Nekromel,” said Maurice. “Both you and Yuqi could time travel, but only you could make drastic changes. If you could harness it properly, who knows what you could achieve?”
“So I can change what happens to suit me? That would be the most OP power ever.”
“I don’t know if you can change it intentionally, you don’t seem to control it at the moment, but maybe if you developed the ability, trained it up, then you could, theoretically, force the universe to do what you wanted it to against its will.”
Finally, a power worth dressing up in a leotard for.
“I don’t understand,” said Claire. “He can change his destiny?”
“Not exactly,” said Maurice. “Sort of, but more like he can change cause and effect. Like if you jumped off a roof, fate would have you hit the ground and die. He can avoid that fate.”
“So I could fly?” It was hard not to get my hopes up. Of course it wouldn’t work like that.
“I suppose so,” said Maurice. “Although you’d have to practise and you might not survive the training process.”
“Couldn’t he jump off a chair, first?” said Claire.
I liked it. I stood on a chair. “Fate, I defy you!” I jumped and landed on the ground.
Great. I was in possession of the greatest power in the universe. Godlike wouldn’t be an understatement. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to turn it on.