Brave New World

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Not Broken (Never Were)

February 13, 2009

Reyna stared out the kitchen window, watching mindlessly as clumps of snow fell from the sky and littered the ground with its icy cold blanket. She could feel her attention fading as she stared out, even though she tried several times to bring her mind back into focus that just seemed to make it worse. Thankfully, the jarring ding of the microwave snapped Reyna’s thoughts back into place and with a quick shake of her head she turned and grabbed the bag of popcorn that was inside. “Where do you keep the big bowls?” She yelled while opening and closing cabinet doors. “Oh, never mind!” She called again, “I found them!”

After pouring the bag of popcorn into the bowl and grabbing herself a can of pop, Reyna headed out of the kitchen and towards the living room. “Reyna, my darling,” Sophie purred from the chaise lounge sofa. “You know you don’t need to shout for us to hear you.”

Reyna merely shrugged at the immortal. “Habbit,” she said without apology. “Did you guys decide on a movie yet?” She asked, looking between the two Vampires. Sitting down on the large couch directly across from the equally large T.V., Reyna began popping some of the salty popcorn into her mouth. Sometimes Reyna forgot exactly who it was she was in the presence of and would remember all of a sudden like a slap to the face. It was especially hard for her to remember not to offer up the bowl of popcorn to them. Sophie always made sure they kept food and drinks in the apartment in case they had human visitors, she’d even been so kind as to stock up on some of Reyna’s favorite snacks.

Gone With the Wind,” Lilith told her, pushing her hair back away from her face. “It’s a classic, and I’m appalled that you haven’t seen it yet.” Even though the three of them were just lounging about the apartment watching movies until the sun went down, the two Vampires were impeccably dressed. Sophie had her hair tucked away in a tightly wound scarf above her head and wore an ankle length dress. Both items were a deep magenta color and she accented the outfit with gold bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. Lilith wore a simple ivory skirt, which reached past her ankles, with a matching ivory knit top, which was detailed with silver thread. Reyna couldn’t help but be a little jealous of their outfits since she was just wearing some gray sweatpants and a navy sweatshirt she’d stolen from Marcus. Noticing the envious gleam in her eye, Lilith surveyed her from head to toe. “Does Dunstan still not allow you to buy your own clothes?”

Tipping her head back onto the couch, Reyna let out a long groan, “Yeah, he thinks I’d buy too much stuff if he just gave me his card, but, like, I know he’s got loads of money! He spends plenty on himself and stuff, and he lets me get any magical stuff I want, so why can’t I buy more fashionable clothes? He’s so weird.

Humming, Lilith looked over to Sophie quickly and then back to Reyna. “Come over again next weekend, we’ll take you shopping.”

Snapping her head back up, Reyna looked between them with large, excited eyes, “Really?”

“But of course!” Sophie exclaimed, “Oh, it will be wonderful! We’ll get your sizes and measurements first, of course. Have you ever measured your bust before? Because that’s very important for when you buy your bras, you know! Then we’ll take you to have your hair done, and your make up, of course! We’ll give you some tutorials, of course, so you don’t walk around town looking like a clown or something ridiculous, and—”

“Sophie,” Lilith cut in almost harshly. With a sweeter voice and an even sweeter smile that made Reyna’s toes curl, she continued, “Why don’t we start the movie?”

“Oh!” Sophie gave a laugh, “Right away, right away!” She pressed a few buttons on the remote and soon enough the overture began.

“What did you guys even do before movies and stuff?” Reyna asked, trying to think of what she’d do with her time if she didn’t have modern technology to help fill it up.

“Read, mostly,” Lilith told her, eyes not leaving the screen. “You could sew or knit too, or hunt, I suppose.” She added with a careless shrug. “Though that really declined once electricity became a cultural norm.”

Raising her eyebrows, Reyna quickly shoveled some popcorn into her mouth. Sometimes Lilith forgot she was human, just like she sometimes forgot Lilith was not. The three of them continued to watch the movie in silence, with the occasional sigh or comment from Sophie. During one particularly amusing scene between Scarlett and Rhett, when they first dance together, Sophie sighs, “Isn’t that Rhett just delicious? I could just lick him up!”

“Why would you want to lick him?” Reyna asked, not understanding the appeal at all.

Sophie let out a light laugh, “You know! He’s just so attractive I want him in my bed,” and she let out a little growl. “What a fun time that would be!”

“Like, are you serious?” She asked again.

Sophie looked over to Reyna with eyes brows so high they hid behind her make shift turban. “Do you not find him attractive?”

“No, well, yeah he is attractive, but, like, the rest of that stuff? I don’t get it.”

“Haven’t you ever seen someone that was so delectable that make your insides shiver with anticipation? Who makes you want to do naughty things to them?”

“Ahhh, no?” She said with a questioning lilt. She’d watched plenty of teen dramas, so she obviously knew Sophie was talking about sex. She’d even had The Talk with Sybil, something that still made her shiver to this day due to her use of diagrams. But the actors on T.V. were just hypersexualized, right? At least, that’s what Reyna always thought. She always thought no one actually acted or thought that way about others. I mean that’s crazy. Yet here Sophie was, voicing her want to have sex with someone she found attractive, just like the characters in her books and shows did. Did everyone really think like that? Was Sophie’s mind set normal? Reyna never had thoughts like that. Did that make her weird or something? Did it mean she was broken?

“Maybe you just haven’t matured yet,” Sophie said consolingly once she saw the anxiety on Reyna’s face.

Lilith scoffed, “The girl is sixteen, Sophie. She’s plenty mature.”

“Well perhaps she needs to have her libido checked? Or perhaps you haven’t met the right person?” The larger Vampire suggested, trying to be helpful.

Enough Sophie.” Lilith snapped then cleared her throat a bit, “Leave the poor girl alone and watch the movie.” Reyna wasn’t sure if Lilith ended the conversation to help her or if she just wanted to watch the movie in peace, but either way, she was thankful.

Reyna tried to get back into the movie, and if she was asked what was happening she’d be able to give a bullshit synopsis, but if asked anyone’s names or what some character’s relationships were to one another she’d be screwed. Reyna thought back to whenever her friends developed a crush on someone or talked about getting physical with that crush. Since Marcus was still in the closet to everyone but her, and although he’d told her about crushes, he wasn’t the best source for that kind of information. Will and Jared dated plenty of girls, or so they told her, and Jared would go into some detail, but he never talked about being aroused—at least, not in front of her. Then again, maybe Sophie was right, maybe she hadn’t met the right person. It’s not as if she regularly socialized with other people her age. She’s hanging out with Vampires, for God’s sake! All her friends were either introduced to her by Dunstan or she’d made them by some fluke. Letting out a long sigh, Reyna decided she didn’t know what to think.

The movie faded away and soon the overture music came on along with the word ‘Interlude’. Reyna stood up to throw away her pop can and place her empty popcorn bowl in the dish washer. On the way to the kitchen, she felt her phone vibrate in her pocket. Placing her trash on the kitchen island, Reyna pulled out her Razr and saw Jorge’s name on the screen. Tilting her head to the side, she pressed the green call button and greeted him, “Hey, Jorge. What’s up?”

“Hey, ahhh, so I need a favor. I’m in town right now, at the airport.”

“You’re in New York?” Reyna asked, throwing away her pop can. “What for?”

“Donny invited me out here. He, uhh, he said he’d show me the sights since I wasn’t able to last time. And I think he wanted to introduce me to some people, but I dunno. Anyway, about that favor . . .”

“Oh, right, right. What do you need?”

The line was silent for a few seconds—Reyna even checked to make sure she hadn’t accidently hung up on him—until Jorge cleared his throat. “Well, my plane got in almost two hours ago now, but I’m still at the airport—”

“You got in two hours ago and you’re still at the airport?” Reyna repeated incredulously.

Yes, Reyna!” He said shortly, making her grimace. “Donny was supposed to pick me up, and I’ve called him, like, a thousand times, but he hasn’t picked up or called back or anything! And I don’t have cash on me for a cab, and I wasn’t sure who else to call, because I don’t want Lokesh or Dunstan thinking Donny is being, I dunno, irresponsible or something, and Marcus is in school right now. Not to say that you’re my last choice or anything like that! Like, don’t get me wrong, okay? I just know you just got your license and it’s snowing outside and everything—”

“Was there a favor in there somewhere?” Reyna interrupted, not really following everything he was saying.

Jorge let out a heavy sigh, and Reyna could feel him trying to relax. “Yes, I was wondering if you could come and pick me up?”

“Oh, sure, which airport are you at?”

“Really? Oh my gosh, thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m at Kennedy.”

“Okay, I’ll call you when I’m close, but I should be there in about an hour or so.”

“Thank you so, so much, Reyna. Ah, you’re a life saver!”

“No, problemo. See you soon!” Snapping her phone shut once Jorge said goodbye, Reyna walked back into the living room to let Lilith and Sophie know she’d be leaving early. They probably heard her conversation and knew what was going on, but it’d be rude if she just assumed and left. “Hey, hey,” she said to grab their attention. “I gotta head out early, but we still on for next weekend?” She asked with a shy smile.

“Oh, yes! You go on now and help out your friend. I’ll call you up later in the week to set up times and everything.” Sophie told her with an excited smile. With a brighter smile and a wave, Reyna grabbed her shoes, backpack, and coat from the new butler, Gerard, and took the elevator down out of the apartment building.

After wiping the snow off of the windshield, Reyna sat in the driver seat of Dunstan’s relatively new SUV and waited for the heater to blow out warm air. Although Dunstan didn’t really care for cars, he’d bought this one so Reyna would have something to learn with. They still took the subway everywhere, basically, but Reyna had been feeling especially lazy that morning so she’d decided to drive to Lilith’s home. Good thing, too, she thought, otherwise she would have had to take an extra half hour just to get home before being able to pick up her friend.

Once she felt the car was appropriately defrosted, and Reyna could feel her fingers, she pulled out into the street and made her way to Kennedy Airport. Like she suspected, it took her about an hour to reach it. Well, a little more than an hour, but not quite an hour and a half, thankfully. Carefully calling Jorge, she told him she’d arrived and waited for him to appear from inside the airport. If he were anyone else, Reyna would describe him as looking miserable. The muscles in his face were tight and he looked like he was sucking on his lips in an attempt to save them from the icy cold wind. Although he was wearing a knitted hat, the wind was blowing his long blonde hair every which way and Reyna wondered how he could even see. When he opened the passenger door, however, that familiar, as bright as the sun itself, smile stretched its way onto his lips.

He shoved his duffle into the back seat and with a cheerful, “Reyna!” he leaned over the console to hug her. “You’re my savior!” Laughing, she grabbed his frigid hands and placed them in front of the vent. Jorge let out a contented sigh, “Oh, that feels good. You know I’m starting to rethink my plans to live here. It’s too fucking cold!”

“Eh,” Reyna shrugged, “You learn to live with it.” Double checking her blind spot, Reyna headed back out onto the road. “So did you ever get ahold of Donny?” She asked, glancing at her friend out of the corner of her eye.

Jorge groaned and began to take off his many layers of protective clothing, “Yeah, he called me back, like, ten minutes ago. Guess he went out last night and, um, his phone died and I guess he was so tired he forgot to set an alarm and stuff.” He shrugged. “He’d just woken up when he called me.”

What?” Reyna all but shrieked. “How does a grown man just—just sleep past three in the afternoon?”

“Er, well, he didn’t get back from his . . . party until earlier this morning. So it’s totally understandable—the sleeping part.”

“How is that understandable? Or—or acceptable? And what type of party does someone leave the next day? Unless he was—oh my god!” She shrieked again, “Was he drunk?” Jorge didn’t answer, but his slight pout answered for him. “He got wasted the night before he was supposed to pick you up from the airport? Are you serious? That’s so irresponsible! Like, who does that?”

“It’s fine, Reyna, really! No harm, no foul!” Jorge said gently, though he rolled his eyes at the same time.

“Um, I’m calling foul!”

Sighing, Jorge shook his head and said, “Look, Reyna, I appreciate that you’re mad and all riled up for me, but do you see me? I’m not mad, like, at all. And since I’m not mad you shouldn’t be either.”

“Yeah, but—”

“Nope!” Jorge popped the ‘p’. “No buts! Okay?”

Looking him over quickly, making sure he really was okay with what had happened, she sighed and felt the fight leaving her body. “Yeah, okay.”

Not one to miss an opportunity to speak, Jorge asked, “So what’s new with you?”

Raising a surprised eyebrow at the sudden change, Reyna cleared her throat before shrugging, “Not much, honestly. Just practicing magic, hanging out with friends, that sort of stuff.”

“Cool, cool. Any new guy in your life?” Jorge goaded with a smirk and an elbow to her ribs. “Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, after all. Most romantic day of the year!”

Frowning as she thought back to the day’s earlier events with Sophie, Reyna let out a frustrated huff, “Nope. You?” She asked, hoping to keep herself out of the hot seat.

“Yeah, or well, kinda . . . okay, so funny story.” Jorge said, running his hands through his hair and pushing it back. “So I was dating this girl at school, Charlie—total cutie, by the way—and everything’s going good, going steady as the beating drum,” Reyna smiled at the reference, “when one day Charlie’s crying and practically having an anxiety attack and I’m like, what’s wrong? Then Charlie is like, you’ll hate me, and I’m like, probably not. Anyway, Charlie eventually tells me that she’s actually a guy and that he still likes me a whole lot, but thought I should know.

“And I’m like, hell yeah I should know if I’m dating a guy! ‘Cause how else am I going to know which pronouns to use? So anyway, Charlie explained more about being transgendered—which you should really read into, ‘cause I myself had never heard of it before, well,” he paused, thinking, “Not in a serious way, anyhow. So yes, long story short, I’m dating a guy. His name’s Charlie and he’s a total cutie! He’s on the chess team at my school and basically is the school paper. He’s looking at schools on the west coast, though, which kinda sucks ‘cause it basically puts an expiration date on our relationship, but c’est la vie, am I right?” He finished with a lazy smirk and another shrug.

Reyna’s brows furrowed as her mind processed everything he just told her. “So, sorry, but does that mean you’re gay now? Or, uh, bi?” She asked hesitantly, not too familiar on all the different sexualities and their definitions.

“Right,” he started with a nod, “See, I thought I was bisexual, because, duh, I’m attracted to Charlie either way—by the way, he just got the cutest hair cut! He really is stunning, I’ll have to show you a pic once you’re not driving,” he gushed. “But then when I was doing research on the whole transgender thing, I came across some sexualities and stuff and yeah, turns out I’m pansexual.”

“Pansexual?”

“Mhm,” Jorge mumbled, twisting his body so he could dig through his duffle behind his seat. Turning his body back to a normal angle with a granola bar in his hand, he continued, “Yeah, basically I’m attracted to anyone regardless of their sex, gender, or gender identification. Once I found that identity it was like everything just clicked. I was like, hell yeah I’m pansexual! Honestly, I don’t know how I didn’t figure it out before. At first I just thought I was hella horny, you know? ‘Cause everyone seemed so attractive! My mind was just completely blown away.” He finished with a mumbled voice since he decided to eat and speak at the same time.

“How many,” she paused, “How many, um, sexualities are there?”

“Oh, loads!” He told her after swallowing the last of his granola. “I didn’t get through all of them because there were so many. It’s crazy.”

“And they’re all real?” She turned her head to look at him and quickly continued after seeing his dark look, “I mean, I’ve just never heard of anything besides gay, straight, and bi.”

“Yeah, that’s because a lot of people think if you’re not gay or straight you’re sexuality isn’t real. Bisexuals get it a lot, you know, like pick a side sort of deal, which is just stupid. I mean, just because you don’t know about something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist! History is full of examples disproving that theory. But yeah, in the media especially, they really only focus on gay or straight. Mostly straight, which I find very limiting.”

Reyna hummed in thought. “Is there something that’s, like, no sexuality?” She asked in what she hoped was a nonchalant tone.

“Oh yeah! It’s called asexual and I feel like it’s my polar opposite.” He laughed and Reyna tried to muster up a chuckle. Asexual. Reyna filed that word into the back of her mind, determined to learn more about it on her own.

“I’m taking you to Donny’s, right?” Reyna asked, confirming she was going the right way. Jorge happily nodded his head and began to channel surf for a song he liked on the radio. Just a few minutes later, Reyna pulled into the roundabout in front of Donny’s apartment building. “So,” she said after putting the car in park and turning to look at him, “show me this Charlie boy.”

Grinning widely, Jorge pulled his phone out of his pocket. After pressing some buttons to get to the right picture, he showed Reyna a pic of him with his arm around a skinny boy with short, stylized hair. Without meaning to, Reyna immediately thought of how pretty a girl Charlie was, and quickly chastised herself. Either way, though, Charlie was a cutie, just as Jorge said. He had amazing cheekbones and a petite nose. He had a great jaw line, too, which the hair cut helped emphasize. Nodding her head approvingly, Reyna told Jorge, “You two look adorable. Seriously.”

Handing the phone back to Jorge she realized she hadn’t gotten a proper look at him before. “Holy mother of God, Jorge!” She exclaimed as she reviewed him. “When did you become a fucking body builder?”

Laughing proudly, Jorge flexed his muscles playfully, “About the time I shot up to 6’4 and joined the soccer team.”

Reyna shoved his shoulder, her mouth dropping open, “What the fuck!” She squealed with an amused smile on her lips. “Ugh, get out of my car, Monstro!”

Grabbing his duffle and putting his hand on the door handle, Jorge laughed and said “I’ll take that as a compliment!” Opening the door and stepping out, he popped his head back in, “We’ll hang out before I go back, right?”

“Sure, sure,” she confirmed easily. “Just give me a call when you’re bored. Now close the door!” She yelled at him with an exasperated laugh. He quickly did as she asked and hurried along into the apartment’s lobby. Sighing, Reyna felt her lips stretch into a content smile as she began the drive back to the brownstone. The sun was all but set by the time she pulled into the garage, and Reyna wondered what they’d be having for dinner. She couldn’t smell anything cooking as she stepped inside, which really wasn’t surprising at all, and Reyna placed a bet against herself that Dunstan would be ordering Chinese food. After depositing her boots and coat in the hallway closet, Reyna bit her lip as she decided whether to go up to her room or ask Dunstan about the questions that had plaguing her mind for the better part of the afternoon.

Biting her upper lip, she squared her shoulders and walked straight for Dunstan’s study. Dunstan stared at his computer screen, his reading glasses resting low on his nose and a long frown adorning his face. Clearing her throat, Reyna stepped into the room with a small hand wave. “You’re home early.” He commented, barely looking away from the screen.

“Oh, yeah, I had to bail Jorge out of a bind,” she told him. “Donny forgot to pick him up from the airport. Or, well, really he was just too passed out drunk to remember, but Jorge says it’s whatever, so . . .” Reyna’s voice drifted off. Dunstan merely hummed in response, so she decided to continue. “Dunstan?” He hummed again, this time flicking his eyes up to her for half a second, letting her know he was listening. “How come you never told me about—well, about sexuality?”

Dunstan’s fingers, which had just been flashing around the keyboard, tapping away, stilled suddenly. Looking up at Reyna, he removed his glasses and began to clean them. “What do you mean? I thought Sybil talked to you about all that nonsense?”

“She talked to me about sex, not sexuality, Dunstan,” Reyna sighed, “You know, like gay straight, bi? That sort of thing?”

“What about it?” He asked, leaning back in his chair to give her his full attention.

“Well, why didn’t you ever explain to me that there were more than just those three?”

“Reyna, what are you talking about?”

“Like, like, pansexuality or asexuality?”

“What? Those?” He shrugged, “They’re not real things, dear. Hell, bisexuality is barely a real thing. Just a bunch of indecisive fools if you ask me, and don’t get me started on this new asexual phase people are talking about. Humans are sexual beings, dear, as you well know. Anyone who tells you differently are either broken or just grasping at straws for attention.” He said while pointing a finger at Reyna. She shuffled on her feet and played with a loose thread on her sweatshirt. The words ‘but I might be asexual’ were on the tip of her tongue. Was Dunstan right, though? Did she just want attention? Or worse, was she broken somehow? Her face grew hot and a prickling behind her eyes told Reyna she was two seconds away from becoming a blubbering mess.

“I haven’t heard of pansexuality,” Dunstan continued, completely ignorant of Reyna’s distress. “But it sounds like a load of shit to me. Like some people justifying their slutty actions or something like that. Reyna? Where are you going?”

Reyna had turned and started for the stairs, hoping to hide away and cry in her room for a good long while. Swallowing thickly, she answered Dunstan as evenly as she could “Um, I’m going up to my room. I just remembered I wanted to practice summoning some more Devils.” When Dunstan merely hummed again, she swiftly took the steps two at a time and all but ran to her bed, slamming the door behind her. Burying her head in her pillow, she summoned Thumper to her chest and choked back a sob. Her chest and throat felt like all the air had left and there was nothing left but to tighten and constrict. Hot tears escaped her eyes and when she turned onto her back, they leaked into her ears uncomfortably.

Suddenly feeling too hot, Reyna sat up and stripped herself of her sweatshirt, leaving her in a thin tank top. Twisting Thumper’s neck in her hands, she tried to settle her shaking body by taking deep, soothing breaths. At first it didn’t work, and all Reyna could think about as she focused on her breathing was the thick saliva that had built up in her mouth and the way her throat constricted painfully after each breath. Eventually though, the sobs ceased and all that was left were the tears and the occasional sniffle. Reaching over to her bed side table, she grabbed a few tissues and blew her clogged, yet runny nose loudly, then grabbed another one to dab at her eyes.

Reyna stood up and walked into her bathroom, leaning underneath the sink faucet to drink some water to soothe her throat. Once her esophagus no longer ached with each swallow, Reyna began to rinse her face with cold water, trying to bring down the swelling around her eyes. Still sniffling, she walked over to her desk and rummaged around one of the drawers and pulled out her old locket. Sitting back down on her bed, Reyna opened it and let the hidden emotion and memories the object contained envelope her in an invisible bubble of safety and love. With one last sniffle, Reyna closed the small locket and squeezed it in her hand, making the cheap metal warm up unpleasantly.

Sitting cross legged on her bed now, with her back pressed against the head board, Reyna held Thumper in one hand and the locket in the other as she summoned the laptop Dunstan had bought for communal use to her lap. She waited anxiously for the laptop to warm up and turn on. Once it did, her shaky hands stumbled over the mouse pad and opened up Firefox and typed the word ‘asexual’ into the Google bar. The first few results were about the biological meaning of the word, making Reyna bite down harshly onto the stuffed rabbit’s ear.

Towards the bottom of the page though, she found what she was looking for. She found pages and pages talking about asexuality and how it’s theorized that at least one percent of the human population was asexual. She learned the flag colors, the shortened term ace, the ace spectrum and everything that entailed. She even learned that people wore a black ring on their middle fingers to signify their sexuality. Tears blurred her vision, once again threatening to pour, and Reyna felt a warmth in the middle of her chest that had nothing to do with the locket in her hand. Letting out a shuddering breath, she whispered, “I’m not broken.”


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