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.
- Thirteen -
My eyes drifted open.
Something was off.
What was it?
The wall of warmth usually at my right side was gone. I turned my head and—surprised to see Gavin not there—sat up. "Gav..." My voice trailed when I saw him on my left, sitting on the floor.
He was shaking.
"Hey." I crawled to the edge of the bed. "What's wrong?"
His gaze darted up, locked to the floor again.
It was too brief. I didn't understand the emotion I'd just seen. "Talk to me."
"I killed it."
My brow furrowed. "What?"
"Th-The veda. The one that attacked you." He reached up and twisted his fingers into his hair. "I killed it before returning it to its owner and never told you."
Shock dropped my next word to a whisper. "Gavin."
"The fucker nearly sliced you open and could have done worse. I was within my rights, but we don't usually execute pets. They don't know any better." He shook his head. "None of that mattered to me, though. Seeing you so scared... I'd never felt rage like that before."
Rage. Remembering how gently he'd held me after returning to the apartment that day, how calm his voice had been, how steady his heart... It was hard to comprehend. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because I already knew you well enough to realize you'd be upset with me if I hurt an animal, even if it tried to hurt you." A muscle in his jaw ticked, and he sounded like he was on the verge of tears for the second time today. "It was Kieric's childhood pet and I snapped its neck without a second thought."
"It was Kieric's veda?" When he shrank away from me I leaned forward and softened my voice. "Gavin, look at me."
He hesitated, obeyed. His eyes were sparking, but along with the sharp bolts I was familiar with, there was something else. Eerie, nebulous droplets of energy.
I'd seen these before. Where had I...
Lucas's eyes. When he looked at Jovin today.
"Take a deep breath," I murmured, slipping into doctor mode.
Gavin tried, and his body shuddered with the effort. "D-Do you hate me, Blake?"
"No." I gestured for him to come closer, and again he obeyed. It was disturbing to see him so docile, but I made sure not to let the emotion show on my face. "Do me a favor and wrap this blanket around you."
Dragging the blanket off the mattress, he looped it around his back and leaned forward to close the corners behind me. "Are you cold?"
I smiled. He had no idea what I was doing and there was no reason to tell him. "A little."
Tentatively, he cupped his hands around my body along with the blanket. "You're sure you don't hate me?"
"I'm sure." I reached out and ran my palm down the bridge of his nose. "This is the same veda that hurt Jack?"
"In my culture, once a pet attacks a human being without provocation it's often put down. And after what that thing did to Jack and me, I'm not at all sad it's gone." I kissed his cool skin, hoped it would warm up soon. "None of that makes it right, probably. I wish I had something better to tell you."
Another tremor went through his body. "As long as the bottom line is that you don't hate me. As long as you don't..." He pressed himself against the bed.
"Jesus. Gavin." I blew out a soft breath. "You keep telling me Jascians don't break, but I'm telling you now I'm seeing over and over that you people seem to suffer from a variety of pretty severe anxiety disorders."
His head lifted slightly. "Anxiety disorders?"
The sparks had faded from his eyes, and I decided now wasn't the time. "Never mind. Come back to bed and get some sleep."
"I want to stay here." He laid his head onto the mattress. "I don't know why."
"Okay," I told him, raking my fingers through his hair. "As long as you're comfortable."
"Thanks Blake. You're the best..."
Realizing he was already asleep, I shook my head.
Alphas—as soon as their worries were lifted sleep came almost instantly, leaving us `lessers' wide awake and wondering things in the dead of night.
Like what the hell was going to come after best.
Eyana laughed as I ran to another of the physiology textbooks she'd spread onto the floor.
"And this is the beta digestive tract?" I asked eagerly.
"Interesting." I jumped to another book. "And this page displays one belonging to a gamma?"
"They're almost identical." I dropped to my knees. "Although the lining here seems to be a little more densely structured."
Her face cleared. "Yes, gammas are able to process food slightly more efficiently than betas."
Entranced, I wandered to yet another book. "Does the increase in efficiency account in part for their larger musculature?"
"That's the prevailing theory," murmured Eyana.
I glanced up. "I'm sorry. I must be boring you with all these questions."
"No no. Not at all." Her brow furrowed. "You're very astute, Blake."
Remembering that this was not medical school, I slipped my hands into my pockets. "You mean, for a toy."
The texts began to lose their luster as I looked around them. "I can't even read these."
"Because no one has taught you," she said without hesitation. "And yet even without being able to read them you've managed to come to a conclusion many physiology students fail to reach without help."
My lips parted, and slowly I started to take the compliment for what it was. "Eyana, do you think you could teach me..."
"I have an idea." She leaned forward. "Why don't we go on a bit of a field trip?"
"Field trip?" I asked, knocked from my train of thought. "Where to?"
"A place few Earthers have seen." Her eyes caught the light and sparkled. "It will be fun."
Out of the apartment? To a place a beta thought was fun? I couldn't resist. "Sure, but shouldn't we let Gavin know where we're going?"
"I'll leave him a..." She paused, her light fading as she removed her PDA from her pocket. "I-I'll call him."
She actually seemed frightened at the prospect. "Eyana?"
Swallowing, she pressed her thumb to the corner of the screen and looked away. "Call Gavin Aravis."
The device barely had time to make any noise before I heard Gavin's irate voice streaming out of it. "Is something wrong with my toy, beta?"
"No, sir," she said, keeping her eyes averted.
His tone instantly softened. "You may meet my gaze, Eyana."
Even on the phone, a lesser had to wait for permission to meet the gaze of an Alpha. This hierarchy was really inconvenient, and now I understood why Eyana had left Gavin a written note the last time she'd needed to give him a message.
But she seemed to relax once permission was given. "I would like to take Blake off the grid for the remainder of our time together today, sir."
"Off the grid. You must be joking."
Her shoulders hunched forward—submissive, even for a beta. "I believe he would enjoy seeing some of Jasc's rarer flora."
As much as I loved being with my Alpha, I needed friends, and the freedom to be with them. So I took a chance and called out to the PDA. "I'd really like to take a look, Gavin."
"Fuck, he's right there?"
Her eyes rounded as she nodded.
I heard a harsh sigh. "Put him on."
Eyana held the screen in front of me, and I put on my best grin.
"No," he said flatly.
My grin pulled wider. "Please?"
"If you want to see flowers, I can take you."
There was no way to explain what I needed without hurting him, and my gaze flicked to the floor, back to him. "Sounds fun."
His bright blue eyes narrowed into slits. "But you want to go with the beta."
I gave him a faint nod.
"You realize you have a tendency to invite disaster."
What? Me? He was the one who—
But I knew how to choose my battles. "I'll be careful."
He snorted. "Eyana."
She took back her PDA. "Yes, Alpha Gavin?"
"You know what'll happen to you if he gets hurt?"
"I'm honored that you've placed such a tremendous amount of trust in me, sir." She bowed her head. "I'll guard him with my life."
"Be sure that you do." The tone of his voice changed as he spoke to me again. "Have fun, Blake."
Smiling, Eyana touched the screen and glanced at me. "Shall we?"
Suddenly I wasn't so sure. "Maybe we shouldn't. If something were to happen to me, Gavin would..." My sentence trailed as I remembered the incident at the café.
"Blake." Her delicate hand drifted up to cover her heart. "You are my dear friend. If I were to let something happen to you, I would deserve whatever punishment Alpha Gavin deemed appropriate."
Dear friend. I felt myself blushing under the admission. "Th-Thanks."
She held out her hands. "May I carry you?"
It was different, being around Eyana. I wasn't used to having so much autonomy. "Yep." I climbed into her hold, and she gracefully rose to her feet. "What does `off the grid' mean, anyway?"
"It means we'll be in an area free of AEO surveillance." Leaving the apartment, she closed the door behind her.
"Even the fringes are subject to law and therefore under surveillance. This place is more...natural."
I'd always thought of the fringes as a Jascian version of the Wild West. Apparently it was just another term that didn't translate well. "We'll be seeing some unique plants there?" Not that I could distinguish unique from commonplace, but I was looking forward to a nature walk.
Eyana smiled as she set me into the passenger seat of her car. "And more."
This vehicle was smaller, more sedate than Gavin's sports car. And Eyana drove like a sane person, thank god.
We chatted more about physiology on the way there. It was nice to speak to someone who thought of me as a peer in her field. "I can see that there are marked physical differences between the three classes, but I honestly don't see a difference in intelligence."
Her response was careful, measured. "Post-transition, Alphas can certainly process data faster than any lesser."
"But...a computer can do that."
She glanced briefly at me in surprise before returning her attention to the road. "True."
Sensing this was not comfortable ground for her, I dropped the subject of Alphas. "What about gammas and betas? How do they compare to each other?"
"Theories differ," she said, more at ease now. "Personally I believe there is little to no difference between beta and gamma brain function. I think heightened hormone levels tend to make them more passionate, but not in any dangerous way. It's actually quite," she smiled, "invigorating to experience."
I cocked an eyebrow, unused to hearing her speak so frankly.
"But their bodies develop at young ages," continued Eyana, a touch of sadness slipping into her, "and they build strength much more easily than betas. Because of their value as laborers, they're rarely given a chance to be more. It does happen, however."
"Like the officer I told you about? From the other day?"
Her smile returned. "Yes. Like him."
The car came to a stop and I looked up, realizing that we were surrounded by trees that seemed to touch the sky. "Wow."
"Indeed." She turned off the engine and the car floated to the ground. Reaching over, she lifted me out of the passenger seat and left the vehicle. "Blake, I'm afraid I didn't bring you here to show you flowers."
Startled, I glanced up at her. "What?"
"There's someone who'd very much like to meet you."
For the first time, I saw that we'd parked in front of a small wooden cabin. "You lied to Gavin," I whispered. This was bad. I had no way to protect myself from danger, especially out here.
Shit. Gavin was right. I did invite disaster.
"It's safe, Blake. I promise you."
Eyana was my friend, and I wanted to trust in that, but... "Why would you lie to Gavin? To me?"
"Because the interior of most Alpha domiciles are under AEO surveillance, and the message this person wishes to give you could be construed as somewhat...controversial if taken in the wrong light."
I frowned, staring at the cabin. "Who's in there?"
"It's your choice whether we go in or not, but I shouldn't break his trust if you choose to turn back."
That simple statement was enough to make my decision. We could take a nature walk, just like she'd said. We could meet the person inside. Whoever he was, both our wishes would be respected. "I'd like to go in," I said, knowing the choice was really mine.
She smiled and walked inside. It took my eyes a moment to adjust to the lamplight, and I straightened in her hold when I saw who stood in the middle of the bare room.
"You're the Authority Enforcement Officer from the other day's fight."
The gamma's lips parted. "You recognized me even without the uniform."
"Well," I chuckled, his surprised expression relieving any tension I'd had, "all the adrenaline pumping through my system at the time sort of burned your image into my brain."
"An Alpha wouldn't have noticed." His surprised expression gave way to an almost shy grin. "And I've never met an Earther before."
I leaned forward. "You're the first gamma I've had the pleasure of speaking to as well."
"You were right." He glanced up at Eyana. "He's really nice."
Eyana had to place a palm over my chest to keep me from falling out of her hold. "Blake, this is Vik."
"Hello," I said, waving my hand.
He copied the gesture. "Hey."
The muscles under his button-down shirt worked as he moved, his pecs stretching the material over them, bunching the material right under them. Entranced, I couldn't help blowing out a dazed breath.
Vik cocked an eyebrow. "You're also hot," he said, his words a low, warm growl. His gray eyes never left mine as he flicked open the top buttons of his shirt, revealing the deep groove at the center of his chest. "Wanna fuck?"
Was this how all Jascians propositioned sex? Or was this a uniquely gamma method? Either way, I found myself blindsided. "I..."
Eyana spun me away. "His Alpha is very possessive and will most likely kill us both if he catches your scent on Blake's body."
Vik dropped his hands and tucked his thumbs into his pockets. "Shame," he said, looking me over.
"Didn't you have a message to deliver?" Eyana asked wryly.
"Oh yeah." The heat faded from his expression as he broke into a grin. "The gamma you rescued; his name is Brev. He asked me to thank you for saving him if I could. Because I'm AEO, I knew a beta visited your apartment regularly, so I introduced myself to Eyana and asked her to bring you here."
Eyana glanced down at me. "You'd wondered out loud about Brev's status, so I thought you would be amiable to the meeting."
This was making my head spin. "I wasn't the one who commuted his sentence. He should be thanking Gavin, not me."
Vik's mouth crooked. "You're so innocent."
"He's still an outsider," said Eyana. "You can't expect him to understand our ways." She placed me onto the floor and sat beside me. "Explain it to him."
"You're the scientist. You explain it."
She lifted a hand, a note of teasing in her voice. "It's your message to deliver, is it not?"
"Shit." Vik dropped into a crouch in front of me, stretching the denim of his jeans tight around his thighs. "No one can change an Alpha's mind. Everyone knows that. So when the AEO are called in about an incident against one, betas tend to accept their fates because they're all logical and submissive and don't fight fights they can't win." He glanced at Eyana. "No offense."
"It's not an insult," she replied, still smiling.
"Anyway," he returned his attention to me, "gammas are fighters by nature, so that's what we tend do in any given situation. But even we know that lessers never win against Alphas. Get it?"
I shook my head.
He growled, but weirdly it seemed more like a thinking sound than one of irritation. "When an Alpha is involved, no one ever stands up for us, no one speaks for us. It's pointless." He lifted a hand. "Until you show up outta nowhere and do what everybody knows is impossible."
My voice was barely audible, even to myself. "Me?"
Vik nodded. "You changed the original intent of an Alpha. You saved a gamma's ass because of it." Careful not to touch me, he leaned closer. "You're a hero, Blake. Brev asked me to say thanks on his behalf, but all the lessers are grateful, believe me."
Each new person I met seemed intent on escalating the mythology of Blake Crowder. "If what I'd done was really so significant, my Alpha would have said something."
This time Eyana intervened on his behalf. "It's likely Alpha Gavin simply doesn't know. Lesser affairs are of little interest to someone possessing his status."
I winced, but couldn't argue. "Please tell Brev I'm touched by his words, but that I don't deserve this kind of praise."
A slow grin spread over Vik's mouth. "Are you sure you don't wanna fuck? I think I'd risk an Alpha's wrath for you."
"See?" said Eyana, laughing. "I told you their passion was invigorating."
Invigorating was one way to put it. Scary as hell worked too. But it was a good kind of scary. Like a rollercoaster. "Th-Thank you for the offer, but no. I'm...attached to Gavin."
"Hmm," he murmured, as if he had trouble processing such a concept. Then he settled onto the floor and leaned back on his elbows. "Wanna hang out? I got nothing else planned for today."
Already I felt as if I'd made a friend. "I'd like that."
The three of us talked about `lesser' culture for a while, and what little they told me turned out to be much deeper and more complex than the way Gavin had explained it. Then we went outside, took an honest-to-god nature walk. It was fun. Quiet. Time I'd needed.
Time with friends.
I started to pull off my shirt, hesitated. "Gavin, is the inside of this apartment under AEO surveillance?"
"Of course." He was already naked, and he rose up on his knees to give himself a long, hard stretch. A ripple of power went through every one of his muscles, making them tighten in some places, swell in others.
For a second, I just watched from my position on his pillow. His broad, thick shoulders tapered down to a beautifully sculpted chest and stomach. His quads flexed into four distinct heads of muscle over his thighs. And every line and curve was a study in grace even as he did something as simple as breathe. I never got tired of this. As much as I'd admired Vik's form earlier, I seemed to prefer an Alpha's form immensely.
No. That wasn't right. After all, I thought Vik was more attractive than Kieric and many of the Alphas I'd glimpsed at school.
Gavin's body specifically. And `prefer' was the wrong word. Wanted. Needed.
He locked his hands together behind his neck and eyed me expectantly. "Well?"
Oh, right. The clothes. I started to remove my shirt again, thought about those unseen cameras, and stopped. "The surveillance reaches into the bedroom as well?"
"All the rooms. The system's built into the structure of the walls, so there are no blind spots." He tilted his head to the side when I cringed. "Shy? After all this time?"
"Horrified," I countered, marveling at how at ease he was in nothing but his skin. Although I imagined that came naturally to people who grew up in a society with no concept of privacy. "I don't like the idea of people watching us when we have sex. Or when I go to the bathroom."
Grinning, he dropped his hands to the sides. "They're probably not watching us. There aren't enough AEO for that, so the system scans for suspicious anomalies and spoken words, keys in on those. The AEO will do random scans, but I doubt they've ever seen the inside of this bedroom. The system needs to be thorough in case a crime slips through the cracks—makes it easy to backtrack from the scene via the recordings."
This was supposed to set me at ease? "There's recorded footage out there of us having sex?"
"Blake," he said, chuckling, "we've had sex at school plenty of times. What's the difference if a few law keepers see us?"
"I... At school..." I forced myself to take a breath. "When we have sex in public I'm always aware of that, and I keep a piece of myself locked away. When it's just you and me, I..." The words stuck in my throat. What was I trying to say here?
Gavin's face softened as he leaned over me, bracing his forearms on each side of my body. His weight compressed the edges of the pillow and pushed the middle—along with me—higher. "You let me see more of yourself when we're alone. I do notice that."
He paid more attention to me than I did. I don't know why that always surprised me.
Blowing a gentle breath over my body, he lowered his head. "What if something happened to you? How would I get the facts I need?"
Jovin's attack was still fresh in both our minds. But somehow I knew that even now Jovin wouldn't allow surveillance within his home and shop. "I belong to you, right? Wouldn't you be able to access the footage right outside the apartment?"
He stopped short, grinned. "You've become quite familiar with Jascian society in your short time here, Blake."
"Not much of a choice," I said, chuckling.
His smile faded. "I'll opt out of AEO surveillance first thing in the morning."
The change in mood caught me off-guard, and all at once I understood the toll I had to be taking on him. "No...I need to get used to your culture."
"You've adapted fine." One of his fingers found its way to my hair. "You get a pass on this part."
Again I got the impression that I was being treated with much more consideration than the average toy. "Why do you do so much for me?"
"You say that like I spoil you," he said, the pad of his finger slipping to my cheek.
"Because that's exactly what you do. Anything I ask, you give it to me, no matter how unreasonable."
"You've got it all wrong, Blake. The first thing you asked—begged—from me, was to go home. I couldn't do that." He nuzzled my body, and my own was trained so well that I instinctively arched into his face. "And now I'd do anything to keep you here. Give up any..." Gavin swallowed, lifting his head. "Since then, the things you ask for are so insignificant. A change in clothes. A chance to help your friends. A little privacy. If it makes you more content to stay here with me, if it strengthens our bond, then how could I not give them to you?"
This...relationship we had. I didn't know how to define it. But it wasn't one of owner and toy.
"I-I'm more than content to stay here with you," I said awkwardly.
His smile was shaky, relieved. "Yeah?"
I nodded, but I wasn't ready to say more. Instead, I reached up and tugged on a lock of hair hanging over his forehead. "Your eyes are so blue."
"Just now noticing?" he teased, sliding a thumb under my shirt.
Pleasure coursed through me, making my breathing shallow, beginning to coax my eyes closed. I kept them open through sheer force of will. "That pure, honest color was the only thing that held me together my first day here."
The thumb on my abs paused, then slipped away. Gavin laid his head next to me. "Sleep on my pillow tonight? Promise not to roll over on you."
"Sleep? I thought we were going to," my voice dipped to a whisper, "you know."
He grinned. Sly. But intimate, too. "You wouldn't be able to let go tonight, and I like it better when you do. As soon as I place that call to AEO tomorrow morning, though, we're making up for lost time."
Alpha affection. It was a dizzying combination of gruff, tender, aggressive. But these days I was not only used to it, I craved it. "I'll be sure to get plenty of rest."
One of his arms lined the top of the pillow while the other curled around the bottom. His version of a hug, I supposed. "Goodnight, Blake."
The first embrace I'd ever gotten from him was over eight years ago, and I hadn't appreciated it because he was just a child in a dream. Now I was in... The man was special to me, and I'd never feel his arms around my body. "Goodnight," I said, forcing a smile as the lights went out.
It wasn't a lie when I'd told him I was more than content.
But was I happy?
Could I ever be?
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