The Jascian's Toy copyright 2005 Rowan McBride
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This story may not be reproduced in whole or in part without author's permission.
This story is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to persons, living or dead (or undead), or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. They are a product of the author's imagination, or used fictitiously.
The following story contains erotic homosexual situations. If it is illegal for you to read this please leave now.
- Ten -
I sat cross-legged on the bed, watching Gavin study. His back was to me as he sat on the floor, looking over a textbook and scrawling something into a notebook propped against his thigh. He could have been writing an outline or writing an essay--I couldn't read the Jascian language, so I couldn't tell. All I could tell was that he wasn't working on math or science. Those lessons made a strange sort of sense to me. I guess they really were universal languages.
"Your surname is Aravis?" I asked, knowing he was more than capable of multitasking.
Rare when our languages didn't sync. It always made me stop short. "Your...family name. Mine is Crowder."
"Ah." He turned a page in his textbook. "Yeah, I come from the House of Aravis, so I think it's the same concept. Why?"
I shrugged, even though I knew he couldn't see me. "Was curious. It's a nice name."
"I know," he said absently. "My House is one of the oldest on Jasc."
The casual pride in his voice made me lean forward. More and more, I was seeing paradoxes in this man. Gavin seemed popular, but hardly left the apartment. He could switch from ruthless to affectionate in the blink of an eye. He was an Alpha, but he doted on his toy. I straightened.
Shit, even I was starting to think of myself as his toy. I had to watch that--I didn't want to lose my sense of self. I didn't want to slip back into the depression that had nearly dragged me under a few weeks ago.
Gavin turned his head. "Blake? You all right?"
Popular and solitary. Ruthless and sweet. Prideful and...
I dipped my gaze, stopped myself from filling in the word I wanted there. "I'm fine. I was just wondering..." how I fit into your world of paradoxes.
Glancing up, I grinned. "How are toys chosen?"
His eyebrows lifted. "What brought that on?"
"I don't know," I said softly. "Just--"
"Curious?" he filled in, grinning at me.
I chuckled. "Exactly."
Gavin dropped his text to the floor, brushed his notebook off his thigh, and began to climb onto the bed.
"Wait!" Falling back onto the mattress, I raised my hands as if that could stop him. "What are you doing?"
"Want to get closer to you," he murmured, already starting to nuzzle my body. "Answer all your questions. Maybe get naked."
I edged back as he loomed over me. "What about your studies?"
Making a sound of distaste, he straightened to his hands and knees. "Working with books and paper is getting annoying. I need a break."
"Annoying?" I sat up, tilting my head all the way back to look into his eyes. "How?"
He growled, flipping around to sit at my side. "I don't understand why the beta profs are always so attached to books. And most of them require homework to be handwritten. What the hell is up with that? Assigning and accepting work through the data stream would be more efficient, and I could give them a lot more data."
It was the first time he'd ever ranted to me about...anything. In a weird way, the complaining made me feel closer to him. "When I was in medical school, I preferred to take my notes on paper, even after I got a computer of my own."
He glanced down at me. "Really?"
That's right, I'd graduated by the time he received his handheld. Those were days he didn't get to watch. "The experience of reading a book is different from reading a screen. Other senses are engaged, making it more intimate in some ways. And when you take notes by hand, you have to think more about what you put down, about what's important. All that data starts to mean something to you, and I think that's the moment it becomes more than raw information. It becomes knowledge."
His brow furrowed. "You think the beta way is better?"
I shook my head. "It just teaches a slightly different set of skills, nudges your brain to process things in a new way. Given how smart you are, I imagine your profs are trying to teach you things in addition to the data you can absorb."
Gavin turned his head, staring down at his scattered books. "The betas never explained why."
"Did you ever ask?"
His frown deepened as he shook his head.
My gaze drifted to his books as well, and I drew up my knees to rest my chin on top of them. "Maybe you can ask tomorrow. It's just a feeling I've got, anyway. I could be wrong."
A warm finger slid down my spine, coaxing me to look at him.
"I'll ask tomorrow," said Gavin, lying down beside me.
His mouth quirked. "I'll even say `please' if it comes to that."
I burst into laughter, and the edge of his thumb caressed my mouth. The laughter faded and I parted my lips, sucking on his skin before giving him a little nip. Everything else slipped away as the heat of his body rolled over me.
Groaning softly, Gavin leaned closer. But just before his mouth touched me, he paused.
"What is it?" I asked, already hard and aching for his touch. Never in my life had my body reacted so fast and so powerfully to a man.
He reached into his pocket, pulled out his PDA and looked down at the screen. "Yeah?"
I hadn't heard the PDA give off any signal, and I didn't think it was set on vibrate. Maybe it was set to a frequency I couldn't hear?
A male voice started speaking in worried, rapid-fire tones. "Gav my toy's all splotchy and red and I think there's something wrong with him and Soria told me that your toy knows how to fix other toys so I was wondering if you could help me?"
Gavin blinked at the screen before lowering it to my level. "Blake, this is my friend Nythan. I think he has a question for you."
I stared at the panicked face in front of me. "Yes?"
"Y-You can fix him, right? Soria told me you fixed her toy good as new."
I raised a hand, trying to slow him down. "What exactly is wrong with him?"
"He's splotchy and red and he keeps scratching at himself! He says it feels like..." Nythan paused, taking a breath as he shook his head. "Semec? Samuc?"
"SUMAC!" yelled a voice from off screen. "Poison SUMAC!"
My eyebrow lifted. "Is that him?"
"That's my toy," said Nythan. "Sumac, I guess. But I don't know what that--"
"Can I talk to him directly?" I asked gently.
Nythan frowned. "Wh-Why?"
"It would make things easier."
There was a moment of hesitation, then the screen whipped to a much smaller being. Blue jeans, denim shirt with the sleeves rolled up past his elbows, brown leather vest, cowboy hat. Didn't take a genius to see what kind of toy he was supposed to be.
"Hi, I'm Dr. Crowder," I said calmly, looking him over as I took a visual assessment. "That's quite a rash you've got there."
"You're an honest-to-god doctor?" he asked in the thickest southern accent I'd heard in a long time. "Could you tell the big guy that this thing'll go away on its own?" He rubbed at a red patch on his neck. "Geez, you'd think I was dyin' with the way he's carryin' on."
I chuckled--he reminded me of Jack. "What's your name?"
"Steve Brant, sir."
"How'd you get that rash, Steve?"
He started to scratch one of his forearms, caught himself, and tucked his thumbs into his belt loops. "We were relaxin' in Nythan's backyard. I went explorin' and brushed up against some plants I'd never seen before. Next thing I knew, I was itchin' all over."
I nodded. "Any swelling?"
"Any shivering or trouble breathing?"
I crossed my arms over my chest. "Could you lean a little closer to the screen to let me have a look at that patch on your neck?"
Steve took off his hat and leaned forward, twisting his body and tilting his head to the side. "How's that?"
I studied the rash. No blisters, no oozing. It hadn't spread to his face. And the pattern was nearly identical to poison sumac. "I think you're right, Steve. You're going to be fine in a few days."
He straightened and returned his hat to his head. "Thank you," he said, casting an exasperated look at Nythan before looking back at me. "It itches like a muther, but I've had worse."
"I'm sure," I said thoughtfully, trying to figure out how one would treat him in a world without medicine. "Are those the clothes you were wearing when you caught the rash?"
"Yeah, but I made sure to wash 'em real good, doc."
"You washed them yourself?"
My clothes got washed with Gavin's. He'd gotten a special bag for them so they wouldn't get lost. "Can I speak to both you and Nythan?"
A giant hand scooped Steve up and placed him on a broad shoulder. "Are you sure he'll be all right?" asked Nythan.
"He'll be fine," I assured him. "However, there are some things you can do to ease his discomfort and help him get better faster."
The screen shifted slightly, probably because Nythan was drawing the PDA closer to his face. "Like what?"
"First, get a--" What had Gavin called it? "--Earther toy laundry bag. Wash all his clothes, shoes, and any material he's been in contact with since the rash appeared. Whenever he says he needs it, wrap him in a cool, damp towel. That will help with the pain and itching, and he'll scratch a lot less. Cool baths are good too, but be sure the water isn't uncomfortably cold. If he starts to have trouble breathing, or if the rash spreads to his face, contact me..." I paused, checked myself. "Contact Gavin right away."
The Alpha nodded, his face serious. "Is there anything else?"
I rubbed at my chin, thinking. Although I wished I could give Steve some hydrocortisone cream, things like sumac poisoning just needed to run their course. Making the patient as comfortable as possible while it ran its course was the most important thing.
My mouth crooked as I remembered a conversation I'd had with Jenny and Soria when they'd come in for Jenny's three week checkup. "You feeding him from the Earther Care Kit?"
"Yes," said Nythan. "Is that bad?"
"You should switch him to Jascian food as soon as possible. It's better for him."
Nythan frowned. "Really? But the manual says--"
"Trust me," I said, gripping the hem of my shirt so I could show him my abs. "Just look at what it's done for--"
Gavin's big hand dropped between me and the screen, and I glanced up.
Looking down, Gavin tilted back the PDA. "I can vouch that our food's good for them," he said, his voice level. "Kieric and Soria can too, if you want to call them."
"Oh," said Nythan. "Thanks, Gav."
Gavin shot me a look and I smoothed down my shirt. "Not me," he said, lifting the hand that hid me from the screen. "Blake did all the work."
Nythan's gaze focused on me. "Thanks, Blake."
Steve whispered something to him that I couldn't catch, and the Alpha lifted his eyebrows before turning his attention back to the screen. "Thank you, Doctor Crowder," he said formally.
I straightened in surprise. "Y-You're welcome."
Grinning, Steve tipped his hat to me just before the screen went black.
An Alpha had called me Doctor Crowder. Of course, the word didn't mean anything to the Jascians, but it still had me dazed. "They seemed nice," I murmured.
"Yeah." Gavin shoved his PDA into his pocket and dropped to the mattress in front of me, knocking me on my ass. "But not nice enough for you to be stripping in front of them," he muttered, slipping his hand behind my back and sliding me close. "I thought you were shy."
His eyes hadn't sparked yet, but they were unusually bright. I couldn't resist a little teasing. "I thought you wanted me to come out of my shell. Be more like a Jascian and not care if the world sees my naked body."
That did it. Tiny bolts of electricity lit up his irises. "I'm beginning to think I don't want anyone to see you but me."
He wasn't trying to sweet talk me, but damned if he wasn't turning me on. "Oh?" I asked, my grin pulling wider.
"You're mine, Blake. No one else's."
Just like that, the warmth bled out of me. "Your toy."
The pads of his fingers skimmed along my back. "Right."
"Right," I repeated softly. "Just like a GI Joe, or a Barbie, or..." My voice trailed as I frowned. "Gavin?"
He slipped a finger underneath my shirt. "Hmm?"
"How are toys chosen? We got sidetracked before."
His finger paused, slid out of my shirt. "At birth, every Alpha has their DNA scanned. The information is entered into a data processor that constantly scans Earth for matches. When we turn six, the system displays twenty-five possible choices, and our parents choose from those choices."
It seemed...cold. Very much like toy shopping, I supposed. "What are the criteria?"
His expression sober, Gavin lightly caressed my hair. "The system chooses based on biological compatibility. Then the parents choose based on what they think their child will like most."
Made sense, I guess. It explained the archetypes I was seeing more and more on Jasc. Any parent would choose a soldier, a ballerina, a cowboy. But...
"Why me?" I asked, my voice a whisper as I stared down at the mattress.
"Most Earthers have a sixty-five to seventy percent compatibility with a Jascian Alpha. You rated ninety-six percent with me. That's an unprecedented level, so my parents didn't hesitate."
Ah. I'd suspected there might be a specific reason why toys were present during an Alpha's transition. Now I understood. "That's why you grew so much. More than any of your friends."
I ran a hand through my hair. It fell right back into my eyes, irritating the hell out of me. "All about the numbers."
He slid a gentle knuckle under my jaw and coaxed my head up. "One of my best childhood memories is sitting on the floor with you, playing checkers. Since you've been here, I haven't stopped having fun. Some of my friends connect well with their toys sexually, but otherwise find their Earthers boring. I never felt that." He shook his head. "I don't think it has anything to do with numbers."
Why... Why would he tell me this? I was just a toy, right? "Are you trying to cheer me up?"
Gavin chuckled, and the sound was low, soft. "I want you to be happy with me. Always."
"Always." I glanced away, the word sending reverberations throughout my body. "I never thought of you and me forever."
All humor evaporated as Gavin bolted upright in the bed. "What? Why not!"
My eyes rounded as I stared up at him. "I-I just never thought that much about a future with you."
"Well, you'd better start thinking about it, and you'd better start getting used to the idea!" He leaned down, his blue eyes sparking wildly, his muscles tensing so hard that his shirtsleeves stretched tight and his traps pushed up through the collar of his shirt. "I'm never letting you go!"
I blinked a few times, absorbing his words. Then I fell back and laughed. Loud. Long. My stomach started to hurt and I had to hug myself to calm down.
"What's so funny!"
Gavin was a giant, but he was gentle. He owned me, but he wanted me happy. He saw me as a toy, but he railed against me as if I had a hand in my own fate.
"Blake, stop laughing!"
I finally went quiet, smiling up at him. "You'll always make me feel this way?"
He stopped short. "D-Do you feel good?"
I shouldn't--given that I was trapped on an alien world--but I did. "Yes."
Gavin lowered his head, caressed my arms with his lips. "I'll try." His voice firmed. "I'll do whatever it takes."
He looked so earnest just then. Determined. Even though I couldn't imagine a forever with Gavin, I caught myself trying.
"After your studies, do you want to play checkers?"
He nodded, and I grinned.
Maybe I was a paradox, too.
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