A World Beside Our Own

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San Marino Continued

The Downloads are complete just before Susan calls for supper, so we launch the game and let it do the last minute patching while we eat. I should have expected it. I spend part of supper having to explain my gifts to my friends.

“Susan, we’re gamers.” I start. “This way, no matter where my friends are, we can game together. We’ve missed several holidays together. This is my thanks for them accepting me back in their lives. The backpack travel bags can replace their current bookbags. Being padded leather, I’m sure it’s an upgrade to that dumpy old rucksack that Kev’s been dragging around.” I tease him.

“Hey! I like that dumpy old rucksack!” he objects, leaving me to giggle.

“The new backpacks are better balanced, and should fit your school books and your laptops. This way you’re not stuck having to borrow the school’s Chromebooks all the time.” I say matter of fact. “That’s why I always have my laptop with me. Rose configured it for the Schoolnet, and all my assignments are done with it. I never part with my haversack, so I always have my laptop with me. Since living in Hillcrest I’ve discovered just how handy of a resource, it is to have.”

“You seem to know a lot of what goes on in my son’s school…” Chris raises and eyebrow.

“We talk a lot,” I remind him. “My adoptive family have taught me the benefit of being resourceful.” I continue. “Emmya actually finds me rather frugal.” I smile. “I rarely spend more than I need, I never buy overly expensive clothing or accessories. If the laptops hadn’t been almost half off. I wouldn’t have gotten them.” I say earnestly.

“And that large emerald you wear on your neck? That’s not expensive?” Susan challenges me.

I look down. “This was a gift from Emmya.” I reply. “It’s my birthstone, and I never take it off.”

“Which explains why the clothes I’ve seen you wear so far are colour coordinated to match.” She nods.

“When they’re not, I make sure the top has a high neck to hide my pendant away.” I nod.

Once I finally have their initial arguments settled, we got back to eating the wonderful stir fry that Susan made. As I look over at the plates, she cooked the meat on the side, gave me a portion of the meatless version before adding the rest all together. I’m liking that Susan is being considerate of my dietary needs.

As we’re eating, I’m wondering what kind of relationship Kevin and I will have. He’s going to age 2-3 years for every one one of mine, at least until I reach puberty. After that, I’ll never look older than 20 for a century, while he'll grow old and grey. When he passes away, I’ll look like his granddaughter. How long can we manage a ‘healthy’ relationship before society deems I look way too young for him to have as a girlfriend? Maybe it wasn’t such a great idea starting a relationship with a human. I have to remember, I’m not one anymore…

I lean on my hand as I admire his features. There is so much I wish I could share with him, but can’t. He looks up at me and blushes when I wink at him. I guess Ruby is right; I have grown a lot more confident and sure since my rebirth.

Chris asks me how school is going. I tell him that, like a public school, I’ll have one more month of this term before we do final exams, the begining of February. So far I’m doing well in my classes, I’m taking art this term, but next semester I’m supposed to get Music and Drama. My music teacher Melody has hinted that I should try a new instrument, or continue to master the cello.

“I’ve heard some of her cello compositions in the past. I think you should go for that again, Simia. You took all the old videos down, I miss them.” Kevin says.

After supper we settle down and game. Kevin goes back to his computer, while Ruby and I sit on the bed with our laptops. It’s like a mini-Lan party, and it feels fantastic being able to mute my mic and coordinate things with my friends without others catching on. I focus on healing with my druid, and I’m getting requests from the rest of the guild for heal runs whenever I’m around. Konrad is an arcane mage, and Jarla is a survival hunter. With a little tweaking, I love Rose, we’ve managed it so she can use her bear companion as a mount, but she can’t fight mounted. Mounts can’t be used in combat, it would require too much coding to change.

My travel form allows Konrad to ride on my back, which left Tarvis teasing us that this is just a hint of what’s coming if we keep dating. I don’t know who was blushing more. I think it took our main ten guild members an hour to figure out that Konrad and I are a couple now. I’m such a horrible flirt, I couldn’t help it. I blame my sister, it’s her fault. I was never like this before I met Luna.

One muted session, when I had turned into a panther to defend my boyfriend. Ruby asks if I can change form like that in real life. I tell her I don’t know about a large cat, but I changed into a domesticated cat to slip past the kids in the park when I first got here. Lairelindë says that I’ll be able to change into animals that I know, and only a few times a day, not to play with my abilities too much. Animal form is meant to be used in times of need, not to a toy. I make note to visit the zoo soon. I’d like to do more than turn into a black cat, or a Rottweiler. Ruby giggles and shakes her head, I’m the only one she knows who makes stuff like that sound funny.

If this is going to be our regular Saturdays, getting together at Kevin’s or Ruby’s and gaming, I’m really going to enjoy it. It gets me away from home, away from the fantastical life that I lead. Away from my sister’s flirtations. I don’t know what she’s going to be like now that we’re both girls, but I rather not find out.

We get distracted by the game. It’s past midnight when we’re done with the guild raid. While she doesn’t live far, and we even offer to walk Ruby home, Susan rather she just stays the night. Seeing as I don’t really need a lot of sleep, I tell them that Ruby can have the spare bedroom. When his mom objects, as I’m the guest, Chris comments on how I was the first one up this morning, and thinks I’ll be fine.

I settle on the couch and contact Ashanna to let her know things are going amazingly well. I’m fitting in well here, and my friends and I are hoping to make this a weekly thing. She answers that we’ll talk about it later.

I end up proving Chris’ point when, needing to get up at 2am to go pee, Susan notices I’m still awake and playing a mobile game on my phone. It surprises her how I’m not tired. I point out that I’ve already made the couch up as a bed, and I’ll be going to bed soon as I finish this level.

I surprise Chris when he gets up in the morning. I’m sitting on the couch in a lotus position, I have the sheet covering me to add a modicum of warmth besides my nightshirt. As he’s leaning over to see if I’m awake or not, I come out of my trance. I see him jump back as I open my eyes, and I smile.

“Good morning.” I smile as I unfold my legs.

“Do you sleep like that often?!” He asks, his eyes wide in wonder.

“I was in a meditative state.” I comment. “Just as relaxing as sleeping, and I don’t take up half the room to do it.” I smile.

“Tai-Chi, martial arts, and now meditation…” he looks pensive. “Are you some sort of Buddhist or Taoist practitioner?”

“No, while there is a lot of Eastern philosophy in Rose’s teachings, as it helps you keep harmony with body and mind, I’m not sure you would call what I perform as belonging to a set religion.” I look up at him. “Can I ask you to move for a moment so I can stretch?”

“What? Oh… sure.” He says as he moves to the right.

I roll forward into a handstand, stretching my back and legs. I then curl back, right foot leading, forming a split into a bridge, and then finally standing up. I let out a deep breath.

“Have you ever thought of doing gymnastics?” Chris asks, amazed by the grace of the movement.

“That might be interesting.” I say thoughtfully, “I’ll bring that up with my mother.” I smile.

We’re sitting down for breakfast when I groggy Ruby comes stumbling into the kitchen. When she sees me, she smiles, walks up and gives me a big hug. This isn’t the first time she’s slept over, so she helps herself to the kitchen as she happily talks to Chris about the fun we had last night.

“When do you leave today, Simia?” Ruby asks as she munches on some cereal.

“Just after lunch, or I miss my train home.” Playing on the cover story on how I got here.

“Did you need a ride down to the station?” Chris asks, wondering if he can manage it.

“Worry not, you need to work, and it’s not far. I welcome the exercise.” I smile. “My mother will be waiting at the station, I’m not travelling alone.” I assure him and he relaxes. “For her it’ll be a simple stopover.” I smile.

“She’s not coming to pick you up by car?” He raises an eyebrow.

“Emmya owns a nightclub, driving out to get me after closing the club before dawn is not advisable. The train ride gives her a four-hour nap, so that she can get some rest.” I say without hesitation.

“What club does your mother own that it’s open that late?” Chris frowns.

“Temptations.” I say without batting an eye.

I can see Chris going through his knowledge of clubs. Considering the shipping company he works for handles most alcohol leaving the city, I figure it will not take long for him to figure out….

“Your family owns a strip club!” he blurts.

“It’s an exotic dance club.” I correct him. “The uptown club caters to select clientele. Those not looking for human entertainment can enjoy the dance floor, or the food we offer.” I continue. “It’s not just some sleazy downtown debauchery.” I finish with an insulted tone.

“Well, that explains a lot.” Chris smirks. “Private school, refined manners, celebrity friends, the computer gifts. I’m just glad you are much more down to Earth than others in the upper class.”

“I didn’t always live this life, I try to not let my new comfortable lifestyle get to my head.” I smile.

“When will you come back to the city?” Ruby asks, changing the subject. While I’m welcoming this conversation, she’s a little uncomfortable.

“If it is alright with either of your parents, I can come back next Saturday, on the 8th?” I look at Chris for permission.

“You and my son are that serious now, are you?” Chris smiles.

“It’s getting there.” I blush.

“I’ll talk it over with Susan and will let you know.” He smiles.

“Thank you.” I bow slightly and go back to eating.

Once we’re done eating, I change into my clothes for the day: the beige folded-neck, off-the-shoulder sweater is fairly form fitting, following my new curves. The off-white squiggle print knee-length skirt has wide bands of olive and brown. I come out of the bathroom, meeting Ruby as she steps out of the spare bedroom. She gasps. “Wow, you are so beautiful!”

“Thanks.” I blush. “Should we wake Kev up, or let him sleep?”

“If we only have you for the morning, I don’t want him sleeping half of it away.” Ruby says firmly.

“Okay.” I say, I go into his bedroom.

He’s laying on his back, still fast asleep. I hike my skirt up so that I can put my legs on either side of him. I hope I don’t startle him… I lower myself to him, first kissing his forehead, then his nose and get nothing. I caress his cheek, and I’m rewarded with a mumble as he gets wakeful. I lean down and kiss his lips softly, on the second kiss, I feel his breathing change as he suddenly takes a deep breath. He ‘hmfs’ in surprised, before giving a soft moan, I feel his arms come up to wrap around my waist, and he pulls me down to deepen the kiss. We make out for a few minutes and break for a breath.

The distraction allowed Ruby to gather her laptop from the bedroom.

“Wow!” he sighs. “That was the best wake-up I’ve ever experience!” he looks up at me lovingly and roams his hand along my back.

“Good morning.” I say in a lovely voice. “Did you sleep well?” I ask, playing with his hair.

“Not as well as I woke up.” He says in a dreamy voice. “Do you think I can get more like those in the future? Rather than waking up with you gone?”

“That can be arranged.” I say in a playful tone. “Now, get up, and eat, we’ll be in the living room” I give him one last kiss before indicating I want to get up.

Kevin reluctantly lets go of me, and I climb off the bed and head back to the living room with my laptop.

“What were you doing in Kevin’s room?” Susan asks as she’s making herself some coffee.

“Waking him up.” I giggle.

“Simia….” She frowns.

“I’m not that kind of girl Susan, I just kissed him to wake him up. The blankets stayed between us, no private parts were fondled.” I say in my defence, causing Ruby to giggle.

Susan shakes her head. “You are going to be trouble some day…”

“Some day.” I wink. “Not happening soon…” I say playfully.

I sit down beside Ruby and open up my laptop.

“Are you this much of a tease with any of the boys in Hillcrest?” She raises an eyebrow.

“No, I don’t have a boy in Hillcrest. We’re a group of ten that hangout together, but were mostly girls. The boys only joined our group after Harvest when their dance dates wanted boyfriends. Up till my operation, I’ve been avoiding relationships. I just couldn’t think of dating a boy with the wrong parts, Kevin’s my first boyfriend.” I reply.

“Well, at least your admitting that he’s a boyfriend.” Susan smiles.

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