Jump to content


Recommended Posts

The invitation had come to the Open Flame not two days after the meeting; the new and improved Infinity was nothing else if not prompt. Dropped off by a burly nova who’d left the letter with a tip, Surtr was amused that she’d sent it on fine paper; someone had made this for her, because he could see a stylized flame watermark and it was colored a pale green. She'd apparently been having fun when thinking about how to invite him.

I know how much you like stuff to be proper an’ shit so I wrote this out myself. Only I said shit, there, didn’t I? Ah well, what the fuck. We’re meeting the 22nd at the Hoxton Hotel, 81 Great Eastern Street, London. We may be buying it, so you can have fun with helping us test the plumbing, if you want.

Anyway, afterwards, I’d like to talk to you. I doubt you’d be interested in joining the Cult, plus you’re an opinionated ass who never holds back, so I thought that I could test my recruitment pitch on you. Catch me at the meeting if you’re game and we’ll have a drink.



The Huxton was lovely but old. Infinity didn’t say much, but Ragnarok, the head of Calling of Development asked a lot of questions and peered closely at everything. The group that looked at the back ways of the hotel was only made up of a small portion of the assembled meeting-goers. Most of the Cultists were wandering around, checking out the regular rooms. Though people had looked askance at Surtr, they hadn’t protested his presence.

“What do you think?” Infinity asked the group once they’d assembled in the largest meeting room. It wasn’t quite large enough for them to be comfortable; there were already mutters that they’d have to tear out a wall to make a larger meeting room.

“Plumbing’s going to go,” Ragnarok immediately said, “and in an ugly way.”

“Is that a no?” she asked raising an eyebrow.

“That’s a factor that into the cost, as in lower it several thousand, unless they want to do the work before they sell,” he said. “Two hundred and eight rooms is a great start for a school. Plenty of places to stay and live, if the instructors want, or for students to live.” Infinity felt rather than saw Surtr’s slight start of interest.

The meeting was unlike most Teras meetings Surtr had seen. There was a lot of energy in the room; the Cult had truly mobilized behind their leader and right now, things were rolling forward. There was mention of the school as the primary focus, but also recruitment and something called ‘Callings’. Surtr remembered nothing of this from his lessons on the Cult from before, and he remained silent as the terms were thrown around rather than interrupt with questions. He was sure that Infinity could answer them.

The meeting started with updates, then a general discussion about the hotel and whether it suited their needs. The meeting ended with a decision to buy the hotel; Infinity got a good asking price to start the bidding with, as well as the top price they would pay. She closed by assigning activities to each of the Callings over the next two weeks. Then she dismissed and everyone filtered out. Several people stopped to talk to her some more, and Surtr patiently waited. Finally, they were alone, and Infinity led the way out to the hotel’s bar – which had been a definite selling point for some of the Cultists. A few words with the staff got them a seat in the corner, where they would be left alone and unheard.

“Thanks for coming, Surtr,” Infinity said, her fingers resting on her glass of Irish Coffee. He heard her shoes hit the floor and she shifted like she was drawing her legs up under her. Steam rose from around melting whipped cream as she gave him an expectant look and asked, “What’dja think?”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He considered, head tilting to the side and golden eyes focusing on Infinity as he relaxed opposite her. As usual, his burnished red hair fell loose around his face and shoulders in an artless fashion, here and there glints of gold catching the light like embers. He was dressed simply, also as usual, electing to wear t-shirt, jeans and sneakers under a plain black wool overcoat. At Infinity's advice, he'd taken an Irish coffee as well, and sipped it without apparent concern for the heat as his gaze met hers.

"I think that if you are going to have anything called a Cult, then there had best be strong and inspirational leadership." he began, the tip of his tongue dabbing a bit of cream from his lip. He toasted her silently with his glass. "A good beginning there, then. They look to you, which is both good and bad. Good because you can provide them with your vision and they will listen and respond. Bad because, if you falter, they will tear you down like they do all fallen icons. Personally, I would look at them and wonder how many trod Delorimier's shadow like dogs at heel, and how many of those abandoned or turned on him as soon as he faltered." He shrugged. "But that may be irrelevant, because ultimately the nature of followers is to follow. Though the very concept is alien to me, I'd rather they follow someone like you than someone like him. Or Clarion."

"Thanks." Infinity said dryly. "So we've established that I'm better than The Judas or his Boy Wonder." Greeaat. "Anything else?"

"I'm assuming that each 'Calling' is a different focus of your group's efforts, from the context I heard it being bandied around." he remarked. "That's a positive step, making sure that the efforts are coordinated, that each member knows what they are contributing towards the whole. Useful, considering what I heard about your endeavours. A school for Teras..." He frowned slightly, full lips thinning in thought.

"How do you see such a thing working?" he asked frankly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“Argh, yeah, that’s… well, my fault, to be honest. I need to break people of the habit of calling it a school, which I started when I was standing in front of the entire Cult and the idea solidified,” Infinity sighed, sticking her finger into her whipped cream and pulling out a dollop of the sinful treat. Several men in the room started to stare, mesmerized as she moved her finger to keep the cream from sliding off her skin.

“Then I need to get them to start using the name I’m choosing for it: Lyceum. School brings to mind degrees and papers and classes and that’s not at all what I want. I want to provide an avenue for formalizing the mentorship style that the Teragen has. But mostly, I want Terats to have a place to go to where they can immerse themselves in Teras. Right now, you find a mentor and if it seems to work, great and lots of people stop right there. If not, you look elsewhere - literally. But if you could listen to many mentors over a period of time where you live, if you could talk with other people on the same journey as you… I mean, you remember that from the Nursery, right?” She flashed him a warm smile as she finally popped her finger in her mouth and cleaned it. Across the room, one of the men watching made a soft noise; Infinity glanced at him, but didn’t seem to realize she was the cause of it. “Those talks that lasted for days as kids would show up and leave, or fall asleep; the way the conversation started with the injustice of baseline laws limiting us and would end with each of us struggling to find words to talk about what Teras was for us.

“Honestly, the Lyceum will be a secondary school for the Nursery and those who have a grip on the idea of Teras, who have the basics but need that intermediate step between their starting knowledge and, say, what you’d need to talk with Scripture without him talking down,” she stated. “We’d be able to teach beginners, too, but I feel there’s that need for that middle ground when you’re looking for guidance right when you really start the journey on Teras alone.

“And I want members from all the factions there, so that if someone’s looking at the Harvesters, they can also discuss politics with the Casas. I want to see more types of us too. I mean, Portents, Marvels and Monsters are incredibly broad categories when you’re talking about the length and breadth of what we can be. I don’t think I fit any of them, myself, though I have fallen into one.

“Anyway, back to the sch- Lyceum. The way I see it actually running is that we’d take any nova seeking to understand Teras.” Infinity had barely paused to take breath; this was the most that Surtr had ever seen her talk about without any pause, unless you counted her still-famous drunken monologue on Surge’s pants and the way the fit of his clothing made her all steamy inside. “I mean, Terats, independents, Utopians – that last one is under the theory of bringing your enemy over to your side, right? Anyone who had a node and a desire to learn more about Teras could come and stay as long as they wished.

“The way students would ‘pay’ for ‘tuition’ is that they’d have required duties. The hotel’s a big building and I don’t want baseline cleaning crews running around it,” Infinity continued. “It wouldn’t be enough to interfere in studies, but it would be enough to keep the hotel going. I have some people hammering out a suggestion on how we’d structure that. I have a few ideas myself but I want to see what others come up with. The mentors – that’d be their duties. Basically, we’d take care of our students, which I think we might have to name acolytes or something, but I don’t want people lining up for a free lunch.”

Infinity paused and Surtr saw a hint of shyness pass over her. She took a sip of her drink and licked away cream to steady herself. “We have a lot of details to work out,” she added, “but those are the basic thoughts as I have them right now.” She grinned, widely but uneasily, and spread her hands. “Go on, lay into me and tear the idea apart. I’m ready for some Sur-truth.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"The plan itself is sound." the youth said calmly after a moment's reflection. "You've thought about it and hashed it out. I foresee complications, such as those outside the Teragen claiming that you are trying to brainwash or indoctrinate others." He snorted slightly, his nostrils flaring in a perfect expression of mild contempt. "There will likely be some inside the Teragen who will see it that way too." He made a flipping gesture with his fingers, dismissing those people. "My real problem is with the ideal." He leaned back, cupping his coffee between his slender hands gently, one finger caressing the fluted glass in an idle lover's touch.

"Teras is, or should be, unique and individual to each Terat. And yet we see these supposed individuals grouping together, defining themselves by their association rather than by the filter of their own uniqueness. They call themselves the One Race, surrounding themselves with the comfort of community and commonality, and seldom seek to push themselves further. Infinity, of the 'terats' active today, how many do you truly believe will ever go through a Chrysalis? Most of them think like baselines, just in a different language." He looked directly into Infinity's eyes. "People wishing to be derogatory or unkind referred to you as a zip with a node. There were times I thought you might believe them." He shrugged, smiling a little. "But you weren't. You never were. Being a 'zip' is a state of mind, not a matter of quantum power. Many Terats are zips with nodes, every bit as much as those who serve Utopia or DeVries, exploited by the Elders as fodder for the revolution, or as looking glasses so that they might see their own reflection, their own views repeated over and over again." The distaste was evident in the heat-shimmer of his golden eyes, though his expression remained coolly detached.

"You claim you have fallen into an Archetype, even though you don't truly feel any of them fit you." he said, gesturing towards Infi with a finger. Then he leaned towards her, his voice dropping to an urgent murmur. "But a Terat rises into their Archetype, Infinity. And if the paths you see before you don't fit beneath your feet, then forge your own. Don't squander yourself by settling for one as though there was no choice. There is always a choice." Infinity blinked at the deep passion behind Surtr's words, his fervor blazing through his calm as though it were molten magma showing through cracks in otherwise impenetrable basalt. Surtr took a breath, then settled back.

"No-one knows but you, but I am not a Marvel, a Monster or a Portent. And yet I am a Terat." he confided in a low tone, sipping at his coffee. "I saw the truths presented to me and rejected them in favor of my own. Ultimately, that is what Teras is. Or at least," he smiled wryly "What it should be."

He fell silent then, and Infinity wondered where Surtr was, and what this young man had done with him. The boy she'd known in the Nursery had seldom expressed any views, taking in everything and giving away little. There were the questions, though, she remembered. Surtr would listen, and listen, and then ask a question that would have the 'purists' glowering at him, even though the more intellectual among the Children would enjoy the fresh direction of the discussion.

"Teras, after the initial explanation of the principles for the unenlightened, is a self-focused path. That is how it should be. By all means, create a forum for novas to talk about Teras and share their views, but encourage dissent, encourage questioning. Weed out dogma and the self-glorification of our Elders. If you want Teras to flourish, then that conflict is what is necessary." He shrugged again, a wry smile indicating a flash of cynicism. "You will have your work cut out for you. There is an instinct in many to bend the knee and seek outside truths, rather than looking inward."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Infinity sat there for a long moment, absorbing everything he’d said. More than that, she was absorbing the fact that he hadn’t torn down the idea, not completely. “So to get this right… you’re saying no mentors? That they stunt the progress of the acolytes by enforcing the same-old, same-old ideas on them?” She clearly mulled that over for a long moment.

“You know, Surtr, what you’re talking about makes sense, but I don’t know how realistic it is,” she finally said. Her fingers curled around the mug, the ring on her right index finger reflecting her light with a warm glow. “In a perfect world, most Terats would find their own way through self-exploration and research. But most people aren’t going to do that. They want to find that easy answer, the path forged by another.”

“And you’d aid them in mediocrity.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement of distaste.

“Given the choice between them fucking around in the dark with no clue and them having a quarter of a clue, yeah, I’ll help them sink to the top of the pond scum,” she said with a shrug. “To me, the alternative is worse: that they’ll never even try. It’s the bane of so many people – to fear success so much that they’ll not even try anymore. What if one of those people who you’d dismiss because they’ve never strived on their own makes the leap because the Lyceum gave them that?” She shook her head and finally took a drink. The cream clung to her lip after for a moment, until her pink tongue darted out to remove it. “I’d rather try to help them than throw up my hands.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t enforce the mentor thing,” Infinity added. “Mostly, I wanted to create that culture of learning, where the focus isn’t on sex or parties or being the hottest bitch or bastard in the room. I mean you get novas together and they’ll fuck. Come on, it happens, and it will happen at the Lyceum. But I want the focus to be striving for Teras. Or even fuck Teras, if that’s what you need. Just… find IT, the unknown thing that Mal’s been telling us is out there all this time.” Surtr was staring at her oddly. “What?” Oh, fuck, I have something on my face…

“I never thought I’d hear you talk about sex and learning like that,” he said, then amended, “I found it unlikely to hear you say that.”

She snorted in amusement, somehow making the expression charming rather than vulgar, and said, “Surtr, I haven’t had sex in three weeks.”

“Are you alright?” he asked with feigned concern.

“Yes, and shut up,” she laughed, taking another sip of her drink. “I’ve just not had the time. Too much to do, and… it’s different.” He looked interested but she said, “So tell me how you arrived at your own truth. Whatever you’re willing to share about it, I’d like to hear.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ordinarily, Surtr would have shifted the subject... but this was a new Infinity. She wasn't the same willfully vapid child, angry and resentful - now she was a figurehead and more, a leader, taking on responsibility and defending her choices with reason rather than invective.

"I'm glad you are going ahead with your Lyceum idea." Infinity looked at him curiously, and Surtr gave her a mysterious smile. "It shows conviction. I may not share it, but you are not compromising your ideal of sharing Teras. I can admire that relentlessness without agreeing with the focus. As to my truth..." He paused then and took another drink of his coffee, draining the cup, the muscles under the smooth skin of his throat moving as he tilted his head back. Then he set the glass down and sat back, stretching his arms put along the seat-back, his gaze pensive.

"It became apparent to me early on that I did not truly fit into any of the Archetypes. At first, I felt like a freak, a failure. The other Children were excitedly finding their paths and I felt unable to join them. I tried... But I couldn't. I just could not subsume facets of myself in order to fit into someone elses mold, however large and unrestrictive it seemed." He sighed a little, looking down at the table between them as he remembered. "It was hard for me. On the one hand, my pride was hurt that I was going to be left behind... and on the other, my pride would not let me dilute myself, for that was how I saw it." He shook his head moodily, a few locks of his mane of fiery hair falling into his face. "It was a bad time for me."

"Wow. We had no idea." Infinity said quietly. "We all thought you were... well, that you had it under control. I mean, the common consensus was that you were a closed-up opinionated ass who looked at the rest of us like we weren't good enough and acted like he really needed to get laid." She grinned at him, and Surtr smiled wryly.

"Hah! Fairly accurate, at least as far as it goes." he deadpanned, then resumed, still smiling as he spoke. "I began examining our elders and their Archetypes. My 'father'..." Infi could hear the quotes dropped into place around that word "...Scripture, Bounty, et al. And I found them lacking. They were once baseline, and have risen far from that state, but I never was baseline. For all their wisdom and experience, why should I define myself through terms they had coined?" he asked rhetorically. "That epiphany was when I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started thinking. So I looked at the Father of Teras."

"Mal." Infi stated, nodding. Then she smiled sardonically. "Wait, don't tell me - you found him lacking too?"

"Nonsense." Surtr snorted. "Mal is not lacking, at least as an example of Teras in action. But that's the point: Mal defined himself long before he met the others of the round table. He already knew who he was, and he left it to the others to codify his philosophy and break it into digestible pieces so that anyone with some wit could learn and apply it. I do not believe he falls into the category of Marvel, Monster or Portent either. He is all three in one. What the Teragen practice in the three archetypes are individual aspects of Mal. Whether you are a Marvel, a Monster or a Portent, you reflect the light of one of his facets. That was my second epiphany."

"And it galled me. It still galls me. I was infuriated, inspired, and aflame with the desire to escape what I saw as a trap, where I would simply become an avatar of him, rather than truly myself." He shrugged. "Perhaps with time and experience, those who choose those paths will break free of that trap and expand the boundaries. Indeed, I think that is what Mal desires. But he left the implementation of Teras to others, some of whom I believe have done great damage to the philosophy however well-meaning. But I digress..."

"I didn't leave the Nursery with you and Puck, because I was not ready. I did not fully join in the games and experimentation, because I was not ready. I was defining myself, rather than letting others define me. And I spent time alone, practicing, focusing, and determining my own Archetype. I molded my truth around myself, rather than molding myself into my truth."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Infinity was quiet for a moment. “You realize,” she said in a soft voice, “that telling me all of that only means that I want to do the Lyceum more. I mean, how many others get the chance to live what we did in the Nursery? I mean, for us, it was just our lives. But in talking with others in the Cult… so many novas never face the crucible you did. Or… I guess that I did, either.” She gave him a sardonic smile. “For all that I turned out well, it was still a little rough to be the Ugly Duckling.” Her lips twisted. “That’s what they’re calling me right now, you know.

“Anyway, most novas get the easy life. Women or men, money thrown at them, endless adoration of baselines… There are some that get screwed-”

In unison, they said, “Sloppy Joe. Only he never gets screwed.” It was an old Nursery joke, funny when they were ten and only amusing now because it was an in-joke.

“But you have to admit, most of the novas go from duds to something awesome. And the… kids… they have never really known what it is to be duds,” Infinity said, running an index finger around the rim of her mug. Even Surtr found that casual stroke of her fingertip a bit distracting. “Even me, the low man on the power pole, had stuff going on that made my life nothing like a baseline’s. Eh, I digress. The point is this: you seared your soul with doubt and hate and anger and came out the other side with something that worked for you. When was the last time that most novas had to work for anything? XWF hands them fame and money; the Utopians hand them reverence and money; DeVries gives them money and moral ambiguity to be the monsters we all kinda want to be inside. No one asks them to do more than they can on a spiritual level other than the Teragen. And even then, the paths are laid for them.

“The Lyceum is going to be like the Nursery; a place to compare and test and form ideas,” Infinity said. “Like what you did in the Nursery. So you’ve really stated my reasons for doing it.” She stared into the distance, feeling a little uneasy. What Surtr said made sense, but she wasn’t sure that she’d found her way in Teras. Just what I need – letting him get into my head and doubt myself. I can’t have doubt right now.

Yeah, just schedule that for later, when you have time. C’mon, you can’t plan for these things. If you don’t like it, fix it.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a man who sidled up to the table. Surtr stared at him levelly, and was ignored as the guy grinned at Infinity. “Hey, dove, I woz wonderin’ if you’d like to have drinks w’th me?”

“Not really,” Infinity said, her tone contemptuous.

“C’mon, don’t be like that,” he smarmed at her. He flashed a wide grin at her.

Infinity stared at him; he wasn’t unattractive, but he was just a baseline. She said nothing, did nothing, until his grin faded and he skulked away. “Good god,” she moaned, thumping her elbow on the table and clapping her hand over her eyes. “They won’t leave me alone!”


There was a definite hint of wry amusement in his voice, and Infinity dropped her hand to glare at Surtr. “No, baselines. They keep hitting on me. In terrible ways! Just awful pick up lines!” The indigination in her voice broke his laissez faire expression and the handsome nova chuckled. “It’s not funny, damn it!”

“Oh, it is,” he assured her, giving her a rare smile.

“What-the-fuck-ever. Anyway, back to the real conversation. Surtr, you are a sexy little piece of smart, but surely you don’t think that everyone’s going to come to Teras the exact way that you did? The Lyceum exists for those people who have another path to walk to get there. We can’t all be you.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Oh, I agree absolutely." Surtr replied, still smiling a little. Infinity glowered at him, trying to discern whether or not he was 'taking the piss', as they said over here, but Surtr returned her scrutiny with a raised eyebrow. "I'm serious." he asserted. "You're right: what worked for me won't work for others. I was raised to Teras, learning the fundamental principles before I was five years old. I reached my intellectual adolescence early, questioned and discarded elements of what I had been taught. For others to fully understand and grow, they need to have that chance to learn, then question what they have learned." He reached across the table and touched a finger to Infinity's coffee mug, ghostly green flames, almost invisible in the dim light, dancing around his body as he exerted the merest fraction of power to reheat her drink. Steam rose from the mug, and Surtr sat back once more.

"After all, most Terats are simply taught the principles, encouraged into an Archetype, then booted out to promulgate the One Race. I think certain of our Elders just wanted recruits, to be honest. They took angry or disaffected novas, turned them into Terats, then used them as footsoldiers. The old Cult was like that under the Judas, so was the Primacy and the Pandaimonion. All the religion, rage and debauchery a damaged young nova could want. And those were just the primary offenders." The scorn in Surtr's voice was such that Infi had to check the varnish on the table-top to see if it was being etched away.

"I read the speeches, listened to the stories. Many of our predecessors exploited novakind every bit as much as Utopia did. The thing I credit Mal with above all is patience - were I him, I would have scoured the Teragen decades ago." Surtr sighed, leaning forward on one elbow and cupping his chin in his palm. "Or, more likely, I'd have turned my back on them. So I watch these new factions with a cynical eye, even yours." He regarded Infinity calmly. "My personal view is that a nova who needs someone else to lead them is no Terat... But that is my personal view. As you said so accurately, you can't all be me." He shrugged, still leaning on his elbow. "I'm not sure I'd like hundreds more of me running around, in any case. Equals, yes. Clones, no."

"I dunno." Infinity smirked at him "Maybe then you could see how fucking annoying it can be." Surtr laughed at that, a genuine laugh rather than his usual chuckle.

"I suppose that would fit your idea of justice." he said slyly, a smile curving one side of his lips. Infinity entertained a brief thought about half-a-dozen Surtrs all smiling at her in that way. "I would be interested in observing your Lyceum in action." he noted, golden eyes on her red ones. "I have no interest in joining the Cult, as you're already aware. But I always enjoy listening to discussions on Teras. Perhaps I will even contribute with more than awkward questions, this time."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“Just because you join the Cult, doesn’t mean you have to fall into lockstep with us,” Infinity said, her grin teasing. “You can be like a cat. You know, joining in from the sides, always aloof and aloft. Sunset jokes about making cookies – I’m sure she’d put out cream for you.”

“You sure you want a fucking annoying cat in your Cult?” he asked her, that half-smile still making her mind want to wander down some very sexy avenues. With effort, she restrained herself.

“I just need to find your catnip,” the red-eyed nova purred, leaning over the table slightly. “Whatever makes you all docile and has you rolling on the floor, smiling. Or Kryptonite. You know. Whatever works.” Infinity realized with a start that she was flirting with Surtr. “Damn it, stop being so fucking hot, Sury.”

His golden eyes narrowed at her but he otherwise didn’t reply to the nickname. Since Infinity only used it when she was trying to nettle him, he let it be. For now. “That is hardly solely me,” he told the girl with a calm smile, his amber eyes slipping half-closed. He knew she liked the way that looked, and Infinity knew it too.

“Hey, I can admit my shortcomings,” she snapped though her words didn’t hold anger. There was another passion striking the sparks in her words. “They are many and sundry, but they do lend me a certain charm. Don't you agree?”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Let me see..." he mused, leaning forward on his elbows and cupping his chin in his palms, still gazing at her through half-lidded eyes. "You are brash, vulgar, a touch insecure, emotional and easily led astray by a pretty face." He smiled slightly, holding up a hand to forestall her comment. "Please, let me finish." Infinity glowered, the expression somewhere between hot-and-bothered and I'm-gonna-slap-your-face-off. "You are also forthright, unpretentious, self-aware and passionate." He showed the two sides of his hand. "If you were simply defined by one set of characteristics, or the other, you would be boring. I'd say that your shortcomings, far from actually being flaws, make you entirely charming." He was smiling, but his gaze was steady on hers, his tone sincere. "They always have, actually."

Infinity blushed. She hadn't expected... well, it was Surtr, she should have expected something from out of left field, but damn the guy for not keeping things on a sexy-light bantering level. Instead he'd gone and answered her flirtatious question with what was, she knew, an honest appraisal, delivered in a fashion that was almost, but not quite flirtatious. And now she felt exposed and her face felt like it'd been bathed in hot steam, and she was certain that her shade of red was of a sort better suited to traffic lights. She rallied magnificently, all things considered, not staring open-mouthed or dissolving into a puddle on the floor, and managed to hold her gaze on his without squirming and looking away... not that holding her gaze on him was hard, mind.

"Thanks." she told him, vaguely thinking that she should try and be a little snarky - no sense in letting him practically fucking disrobe her with a few comments. That was hard, though, as she was also thinking about how he was leaning forward on the table himself, their faces only a foot or so apart. Her face still felt hot, but she was back in control of her mouth again at least. "I'll bet that honest-Abe routine scores all the babes."

"Only the ones I like." he returned with a sly cast to his smile. "The ones I don't like tend to get very upset." Surtr examined Infinity's features, letting his eyes roam her face with his usual laid-back intensity. She was still definitely Infi - the eyes, the pale skin, the black hair, and even the general essence of her old face was still there - but now she seemed so different. Perfected, he thought to himself. Reforge a sword, and it is still a sword, but of better quality. The steel has better temper, the balance is more certain. But it is still the same sword. That is what Apotheosis did for Infinity. It suits her.

"So which category do I fall into?" Infinity asked before she could stop herself. Surtr mock-'tsked' and shook his head.

"We're still talking, aren't we?" he answered simply, his lips curving in a smile once more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Infinity stared at him for a moment, her expression unsure. “You really hurt me,” she said, even as her expression shifted to annoyance. But that annoyance was at herself. She hadn’t meant to talk about this with him, ever. It was too painful, even after all this time. “A lot of people made me feel used in the Nursery. You weren’t alone in that. But those people weren’t friends, either.”

Her hand came up as his mouth opened. “Nuh uh, Surtr. You listen.” She took a drink of her coffee and licked her lips, gathering her thoughts and courage. “Remember the Legos?”

“Can I speak to answer that?” he asked snidely. His eyes were still half-hooded, but she didn’t think he was trying to be sexy anymore.

“Not when you ask like that,” Infinity replied, her voice just as snarky. “We were building the stuff with Legos, and you wouldn’t let me do anything. You kept telling me every piece was wrong and that I needed to let you do it all. So I got mad and I grabbed the top of the structure and just shook the hell out of it. Pieces went all over hell and back until I was just holding a few of them. Do you remember what you said then?” He stared at her and she rolled her eyes. “Please answer.”

“I said, ‘I was going to do that anyway. You broke it wrong’,” Surtr answered, his voice soft.

“Yeah,” Infinity said. “And people ride me for having an inferiority complex. But that was the sex thing, just at a different age. You have to have everything your way, and that day was just like any other. You knew I wanted to have sex with you, and you offered to explore, and then you stopped. And you thanked me for my time. Like I’d stopped by for coffee or something, instead of getting to finally hook up with you. You really hurt me bad, not because you wouldn’t have sex with me, but because you made me feel like a friend had used me until he was done and then cast me aside. That’s why I didn’t talk to you again until the meeting.” She could feel tears trying to surface but she ignored them. “So just tell me what you fucking want, Surtr. No games, no cryptic bullshit or holding back or telling me truths that make me squirm and blush at the same time. And then when you’ve told me, that’s what we are.” She paused and amended, “Assuming you aren’t going to get weird on me and want a sex slave or something.” She smirked, trying to make a joke. “You know how I feel about commitment to one person.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"You ask a lot." Surtr commented mildly. "But then I suppose you have to. I am not exactly forthcoming."

"So spill, already." Infinity told him firmly.

"Firstly, I am sorry for that day in the Nursery... well, both days really. The reason is the same - I was young and seeking to assert myself in a garden where all were gods." His lips quirked in a frown. "It was poorly done, especially the second event. In truth, I was afraid that time."

"Afraid? You?" Infinity could help it - it sounded ridiculous.

"Me." Surtr asserted. "My first kiss was with Puck, and I felt myself awaken into a new awareness. I was still struggling to find my center, my path of Teras at that time. And Puck mentioned that you had shown him, so I came to you... And I only wanted to fool around somewhat, to cautiously experiment, to go a little further, but before I knew it we were locked in pleasure together and I had lost my sense of self. You did that to me, Infinity." He looked soberly at her. "And I was afraid. I burn... deep inside, I burn. For Puck, for you. I always have - you two are my dearest friends, my sibling-lovers." Surtr's composure was eerie, even as his voice thrummed with passion. "I felt that blaze and it worried me: I was afraid of myself." He shrugged. "I've grown since then, discovered myself some more. It does not bother me as it once did... Though I still fear losing myself. I would be a liar to deny that."

"As you said, I had to have it all my own way. I withdrew from you, and I hurt you by trying to be cold when, in fact, I was burning up inside. I didn't want to surrender, and I thought that's what I would be doing - surrendering to another's expectation. I was not able to seperate my own desires from that expectation, so I withdrew." Surtr laid his hands flat on the table, halfway across towards her.

"You ask what I want of you... I want to apologise for my coldness towards you. It was an immature act. And I want to be a friend to you, a better one than I have been in the past. And yes, I want to be a lover to you as well, because my feelings towards you demand nothing less." He regarded her patiently, his hands still out between them, palms up. "I meant to say all this to you before, at the meeting, but then you Apotheosized, and it was not the time for such... especially as you were so angry with me. It would seem like pleading." He made a face. "My pride again, perhaps. We all have our shortcomings, after all."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Once, some of the kids in the Nursery had decided to teach Infinity to fly. At ten, she was pretty sure that she was just one fall down the stairs from learning that anyway. After all, she was Mal’s favorite, and that meant something. So three of them had taken her outside and tossed her around in the air. Infinity had loved it, the thrill of falling, only to be caught by her brothers and sisters. The wind whipping by her; the speed and power; the sure knowledge that she was about to learn to fly. Then one of them had gotten distracted, and Emmanuel had looked away as she was tossed toward him. Infinity had fallen and fallen and fallen and had suddenly realized that she wasn’t going to fly, she was going to crash and die.

Norman had caught her, as he often did in those days. But those seconds had turned Infinity’s world on its head. She’d finally caught the clue that the universe had been trying to give her: she was a quantum dud. She would never forget that sweeping, slightly sick feeling.

Now Infinity was feeling it again. Everything she’d known about the man sitting across the table from her was being shifted and realigned, and she wasn’t sure what was real. She knew he thought he was telling the truth at this moment. Her red eyes rose to meet his and Surtr saw the hesitation and fear, mixed with pain. He was asking her to expose herself to him again, to risk pain all over again. The Infinity he’d known would have done it for sex. But this girl bit her lip – making men across the room stare – and said, “Lots of people want me now. Of course, those that didn’t tolerate me before have zero shot. But when they say they want me now, I know that they’re not telling me the whole truth. I can see it, and not in a way I can ignore. It’s obvious, and so unsexy.

“I’m not willing to settle anymore,” Infinity said, her voice firm. Her hands slid over the table, but she didn’t take his. Her fingers stopped just shy, close enough that they could feel one another’s warmth. “I’m not willing to have sex just because it’s the one thing I can do on more or less the same level as the other Terats, or the only way I can pay someone back for a favor. So here’s a question I’ve got to know before I tell you what we can be. I know we can be friends, but lover doesn’t mean some guy I fucked last night. That actually never has. My lovers have been those I also love. Puck, just to name the most prominent.” She moved her hands, holding them over his, still without touching. Her intent was clear – his answer to her next question determined whether those hands lowered or returned to her side of the table. “What do you expect from me when you say be a lover to me?”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Much the same you do." he answered evenly. "I mean love you in a way that is more than physical. Sex itself for the sake of the act does not mean much to me, you know that. But like you, I love Puck." His lips quirked. "It is hard not to, even without his quantum gifts. And I feel similarly towards you."

"Why?" Infinity asked simply, her tone indicating that while she didn't disbelieve him, it was a long shot from buying the whole farm.

"Because in the Nursery, there were none I felt closer to than you and him. Because you inspired me to think beyond what was accepted dogma, because of who you were and what you went through at the hands of supposedly 'enlightened' novas... and yet you kept your core. Your strength wavered, it flickered, but it kept coming back. I admire you. I always did, even though sometimes I didn't show it."

"You never showed it." Infinity snorted. "You play poker with your damn feelings, keeping them close and never showing them to anyone. What the fuck am I supposed to think? Only the fact that I know you're too damn proud to fuckin' lie lets me sit here and listen to you, Sury. Why? Why should I give you another chance to hurt me?"

"I have given you my reasons." Surtr replied calmly, though there was an undercurrent of tension in his young voice. Molten gold eyes flicked down at Infinity's hands, then back to her eyes. "And I understand that they might not suffice. I would be loathe to open up to someone who might hurt me... and yet, here I am." He seemed so composed that he was ageless, and at the same time in some indefineable way he was young, barely more than a boy, and frankly laying his feelings bare to her. "I expect from you only what you wish to give me. I desire forgiveness and friendship. I offer..." he paused, though not to think. His hesitation was born of fear, Infinity saw with a flash of insight. Under the gorgeous, calm pool of his features and the heated smolder of his eyes, Surtr was afraid.

"I offer my love, strange and unusual though it may be."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Infinity stared at Surtr, a hundred thoughts going through her mind. Some were just memories, attempting to reconcile the image of Surtr she’d had growing up with the image he was presenting now. It was disconcerting, and part of her was annoyed that he didn’t seem put off by her changes. Of course, most people seemed to find them a vast improvement over the old Infinity, which was also annoying her. She hadn’t been that bad.

It was the fear that was throwing her. Surtr hadn’t been afraid since he was out of diapers; even in them, he’d been more inquisitive than fearful. A brief memory of holding him as a baby flashed through her mind; she’d been six and loved all the babies. Her brother had been in the Nursery, too, and he was just was young as Surtr, all red-faced and squalling anger. But baby-Surtr had just stared at her with big golden eyes that already contained an old man’s weight. He’d refused to cry; it had been beneath him, even then. So for him to admit fear was something that made her uneasy. She gave a covert glance around, looking for the candid camera.

How did she feel about him? He was infuriating, but not in a bad way. It was the kind of infuriating that left her red-faced but smiling – generally. He’d been the bad kind of infuriating, too. He was wickedly smart and funny in his own way. Sexy, too – she mustn’t forget that, but he needed more than that to make it onto her list of lovers. Surtr was a friend, if the point of view he’d given her today was accurate. If he was right, he was the friend she’d always wanted him to be. “I thought you hated me,” Infinity said softly. “Or at least only tolerated me for Puck’s sake.”

“We were friends before Puck,” he reminded her gently.

“Yeah, I know. This is part of realigning the way the world work, Surtr. I’m working it all out.” Infinity studied him a moment more, truly unsure if she wanted to take the risk.

Turn this on its head for a moment. If you say no, and he was sincere, and you lose that chance to be with him, will you be alright with it?

“God damn it,” Infinity sighed as she dropped her hands on top of Surtr’s. “Don’t fucking make me regret this!” She scowled at his smirk, adding, “I mean it! If you make me sorry I trusted you, I will set Puck on you!”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I believe you." he said with a wry smile. "And believe me, I'll do everything I can to avoid that."

"Good." Infinity retorted, but without much vehemence, because Surtr's fingers had gently closed around her hands in a loose clasp and he was giving her that smile, the one that made him seem enigmatic and aloof yet sexy all in the same package. Baby-Surtr with his creepy-yet-cute wide eyed stare seemed a million years ago right now... "I told you to stop being so fucking hot." she said in a softly plaintive tone.

"I'm not doing anything." he protested mildly, his eyes contemplative as they studied her face, her eyes. He was enjoying the simple contact, enjoying the warmth of reaching out to another and having them respond. He loved her sparks of defiance, the way she challenged and prodded, the thorns that offset her petals. Even now, with a blush threatening the moonlit pale of her skin and her eyes softening as she looked down at their entwined hands, she tried to find ways to poke at him.

"Bullshit. You're being hot at me." she accused in a voice barely above a whisper, a faint quaver in her voice.

"I assure you, I'm not 'being' anything except happy to be here right now." Surtr said with a soft chuckle, his voice an intimate murmur.

"You're holding my hands."

"Why, so I am."

"And gazing soulfully into my eyes."

"Mmmhmm. That's likely true. They're nice eyes."

"You're making me blush, you shit." she swore at him, but with a smile threatening to spread from ear to ear.

"You could always take your hands back." Surtr said with a sly smile of his own, light dancing in his amber stare.

"I should, you know." Infi didn't move her hands.

"Probably, yes. It'd be hard to head up Cult meetings like this. Or eat, for that matter."

Infinity laughed, picturing the ridiculous sight of her not letting go of Surtr's hands even to eat. The musical sound of her voice rang through the room as she squeezed his hands fondly, then died away as yet another baseline male approached, his expression one of dauntless starry-eyed optimism as he regarded her. "Oh shit, here comes another one." she muttered. She felt Surtr tense a little, and looked up to see him staring hard at the oncoming human.

"Hey, gorgeous, I was-"

"Can you not see she is with someone else right now?" Surtr interjected acidly. The baseline blinked and looked at him, as though seeing him for the first time, then back at Infinity.

"I was just going to-"

"If she wanted to talk to you, she would have already come over and done so. You being here shows a lack of respect for her... and for me too. The lady can deal with the former however she wishes, but I am not terribly patient or forgiving." Surtr's stare was venomous, having gone from lazy molten warmth to cold and hard. The man flinched and turned away, heading back whence he had come, and Surtr turned back to Infinity with a shrug and a smile.

"So... We were talking about how hard life would be if we didn't let go at some point..." he said playfully, fingers lightly stroking her skin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Surtr’s rapid changes in emotion might have startled Infinity, had she not known about them already. Surtr had always been like a flickering flame – quick to flare with the right fuel and then subsiding to a mere ember when the stimulus was gone. Instead, she smirked to see how much like her old friend he was, grinning like a fool. Even as she did, there was that whisper of worry about whether he’d revert to his old ways and shove her aside again.

Regardless of his reason, if he did that, he’d never get another chance.

“Hey, I have a great idea,” Infinity said, leaning forward a little.

“Mmm?” he asked softly, his golden eyes glowing with delight.

“Let’s go somewhere without zips for a while,” she urged. “Somewhere more private, where we can discuss the complexities of a life lived holding hands.”

“Perhaps a walk in a park, or the countryside? The latter is far more private,” Surtr answered after a moment to think.

“Sure,” Infinity said, blinking slightly. That was the most unusual reply she’d ever had to an invitation to go somewhere more private with a guy. They rose together, their hands still linked. It took a bit of coordination, but they managed to arrange themselves so that they were now holding each other’s right hands in their right, and left in their left, instead of mirroring each other. It meant that they could walk with Surtr’s arm curled around her shoulder and her arm pressed to his waist, and they didn’t have to let go of hands.

“Allow me,” he murmured, walking over to a candle burning on a table. Infinity sucked in a breath of surprise as green flame briefly danced over them both; then he touched a finger to the flame and they were elsewhere. Around them, a flame burned, and Infinity yelped and tried to climb Surtr before she realized she wasn’t burning.

A zip stood nearby, a rake forgotten in his hand as he stared at them. His burning leaves had provided the flame for Surtr, who was laughing at Infinity’s reaction. “Shut up, you ass,” she said, blushing. “I forgot about that.”

“That was the same reaction you had the first time,” Surtr pointed out, “several years ago.”

“You remember I burn, right? I mean, you haven’t forgotten I’m far too squishy for flame?” Infinity asked.

He turned to her and used their clasped hands to raise her chin. “My flames will never hurt you,” he vowed softly but with sincerity, “and all flame is mine.”

Infinity felt her lips part under the force of that gaze; her eyes widened from his intensity. The flames burned and cracked around them as the smell of burning leaves filled the air. Infinity extended her neck slightly, bringing her face closer to his. Those amber eyes began to almost glow as she whispered, “Okay.” Then her lips brushed his, just a light kiss. “Thank you.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The brief kiss was savored, Surtr comparing it to the fervent making out of times past and finding this tender feather-light caress of her lips to be of equal importance, equally pleasurable. Infinity's crimson eyes shimmered as they drew in the fire crackling around them, and her equally-red lips were still parted enticingly. It was an effort of will not to simply stand there with the bonfire roaring around them, admiring her radiance and seeking more kisses.

But then, will was something Surtr never had problems with exerting.

Smiling down at her, he turned and stepped down from the burning pallet they had emerged atop, lifting her with an arm around her so that her feet cleared the dancing tongues of flame. His body and hers were still surrounded in that corona of emerald flame that kept the farmer's waste fire at bay, but it died away as they left the blaze, the baseline still gawking at the preternatural couple. Surtr glanced at him, his expression one of polite indifference, before turning and walking with Infi out of the farmyard. The human swore softly under his breath, watching until they were out of sight.

It was a fine English summer day, the air alive with insect noises and birdsong as the two Terats walked, still embracing, along the dirt and gravel track that led from the farm to the country road ahead of them. The faint haze of June was in the air over the fields and the green rolling hills, the distant noise of a tractor a vaguely discordant buzz as the machine plowed some acreage somewhere to the west. The soil was dark and slightly damp with recent rain, but the sky was clear blue but for loose white puffs of cloud that resembled sheep in an azure pasture.

"Where are we, anyway?" Infinity smiled as they passed a field with a few horses moving across it, grazing and generally content with life. It was very different than the last time she'd found herself in the middle of nowhere, miles from pizza, 156 OpNet channels and a decent shampoo. She felt the pleasant warmth of Surtr's arm around her shoulder and glanced up at him. Surtr's amber gaze was peering around as though he was figuring something out.

"East Anglia." he said. Infinity waited for elaboration, then nudged him pointedly.

"Don't make me come over there." she said warningly, her smile softening the words.

"Eastern part of England." he explained with a shrug, his lips twitching as he held back a smile. "Farmland mostly, if I remember right. Lots of walking trails - the English are passionate about their public footpaths and byways." Sure enough, a stile indicated a crossing point for a fence to their right, and after a shared look the two young novas hopped over it, still holding hands, before linking up once more and wandering across an empty pasture.

"You seem to know a bit about this." Infinity narrowed her eyes slightly. It was Surtr, after all.

"I did some reading before I came to the meeting." he said offhandedly, his gaze wandering over the trees and hedgerows before coming back to meet her eyes.

"You were planning to come out here." she accused, a little annoyed at the feeling she'd been predicted.

"I was." Surtr admitted. "But not necessarily with you. I did not take your acceptance of my apology or my affections as granted, Infi. But I was going to come out here, regardless of our meeting's outcome." He smiled at her warmly. "But I'm glad you're here with me."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“I’m glad I’m here, too,” Infinity admitted, tightening her arm around his waist. While part of her wanted to be in a room somewhere getting frisky, another part of her appreciated this far more casual reintroduction to Surtr. Had they gone straight to bed, some part of her would be afraid of the rejection again. That he was taking time to just be with her soothed that ugly doubt in her mind. Surtr never took time to do anything he didn’t want to do, unless he’d been made to do it.

“So I believe we were talking about how hard it will be to do what need to be done if we can’t let go of each other’s hands,” Infinity said lightly. His thumbs played over the back of her hands as he smiled at the image. “I mean, I can think of a lot of things I wouldn’t mind you having your hands on me during.”

“Oh?” he asked, a brilliant red eyebrow rising.

“Like sleeping, or showering, or even eating. I think I could still lead the meetings of the Cult, though you might find that tedious,” she added. “But I could manage most things in my life and have more fun doing them, too.” She sent him a smoldering look that the flame-nova could appreciate. “What about you?” she asked. “Would you be able to do what you need to do without letting go?” A slight frown crossed her face. “What do you do, anyway?”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I play piano in a bar." he said without so much as a hint of humor or sarcasm, his more-than-handsome features composed.

"Play piano in a bar." Infinity echoed flatly, then eyeballed him. "Really, Sury. What are you up to?" He smiled at her, amused, and Infi resisted the urge to tickle him really hard. But only just.

"That is more or less all I do." Surtr explained. "I'm living in Rio, in one of the poorer districts. I work evenings in a lounge bar, and the rest of my time is my own. I wander the city, I observe it's denizens. I spend time formulating and reformulating my philosophy, applying it to the world around me in my actions." He steered the two of them around a muddy patch, enjoying the fresh air and the feel of Infi close to him. "In the evening, I am the flame that enthralls and inspires, and the baselines gather around me to warm themselves. In the dead of night, I am the sudden fire that burns down a patch of slum that not even the poor of Rio would live in, places that are nothing but dangerous derelict homes filled with human refuse. Sometimes I dance." he smiled at her expression. "I like dancing." he said with a touch more warmth in his voice. "The open-air dance halls there, where the music is organic rather than technological, and the beat comes up through the floor, and the dancers flicker and writhe and entwine... It's fun." His smile became a grin. "It seems I have a knack for it, too."

"I'm still trying to picture you having fun." Infinity deadpanned, her eyes shining as she glanced at him.

"Oh, it's been known to happen." Surtr returned in the same manner, then leaned closer, his lips brushing her ear as he murmured. "I wouldn't have to take my hands off you to dance - that's another reason for me to love it."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Her stomach clenched tightly at the feel of lips on her ear. It was good to know that her libido was still responding to him, albeit in a different way than before. She let a shiver pass through her and let him feel it; it was worth it to see the smug smile on his face at the effect he had on her. “Then you need to take me dancing,” she said, “because we definitely need excuses to keep touching each other.” She ran a slightly bolder hand around his waist, enjoying the youthful curve of his body. Not too much, not too little; he was, of course, perfect.

“There’s ice skating,” she added, “or roller skating, because I’ve never been that good at either and I’d need a support to cling to.”

“Good to know,” he told her somberly, as if she’d just told him a dire secret.

“More teleporting,” she continued to catalog. “Fire walking. Um, hot-air-ballooning.”

“Really?” he asked, bemused. She wasn’t fond of heights, and he knew that.

“Yeah, because if we’re that high in the air without a flying nova around, I’m going to be clinging to you. Like a spider. A very, very scared spider.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He laughed, a warm sound with a teasing undercurrent, and hugged her closer. He found the image of Infi crawling up onto his shoulders like, in her words, a scared spider to be just the right mix of surreal and accurate. Surtr didn't understand that fear... Though actually, upon thinking on it he could imagine how it felt for her. For Infi, so used to not having any quantum expression and the confidence it brings, to be up high in the air without a safety line was putting matters utterly beyond her control, entrusting her fate to another. Surtr could well picture how that would sit with him. In fact, it would sit very similarly to how he'd felt back in the hotel lounge, waiting to see if she would take his hands...

"I sure you would handle it better than that." he said with smooth assurance, still smiling at her.

"I'm sure I'd be scared shitless."

"But you would still handle it well." Surtr responded. "Most of us don't really understand fear in a personal sense. We grow up protected, more powerful from the cradle than most newly-erupted, and are taught to use our gifts to the fullest. We're made aware that we have enemies, and that there are those who wish us dead, but I get the distinct feeling that many of the Children view that as an abstract boogeyman, a cautionary tale rather than a personal threat." He smiled self-deprecatingly. "I know I feel inclined to."

"But you, brave Infinity, lived surrounded by children - and children are capricious at best - all capable of accidentally hurting you. Sometimes they did, as I recall." He hugged her shoulders reassuringly. "I think your fear of heights comes from one such instance of childish carelessness. And you suffered a few injuries that, thanks to Bounty, were easily remedied."

"'Brave Infinity'?" Infi scoffed, though inwardly she felt her toes trying to curl up at the compliment.

"Yes. Brave." Surtr retorted with a mock-glower, his golden eyes gleaming in the summer sunshine. "You were the frailest of us in body, but you never let that hold you back. It's easy to be unafraid when there are no threats to you. You were afraid, but forged ahead anyway." He kissed her cheek. "That, dearest one, is just one of the reasons I have respect for you. It inspired me to seek out my own personal fear, just so I could work to overcome it."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“Oh stop it, you’re making me blush,” Infinity said, and while she was blushing, she was also smiling. Surtr didn’t need to be an empath to know she’d appreciated his comment – and his endearment. “Alright, I’ll share and try to make you blush, though I’m sure that’ll work out well.”

“Share?” Surtr asked, curious.

“I always admired your composure,” Infinity said softly, peering up at him. “No matter what was happening, you were calm. Even during the attack from the Judas, you were in control of yourself. There were times I wanted to be the same, even if it annoyed me when you did it. No, especially when it annoyed me when you did it. I wanted to have that same high-handed nothing-fucking-touches-me-so-quit-poking-me attitude. You may find my impulsive nature charming, but it has gotten me into some trouble – and probably will get me in more still. Of course that’s the very reason you won’t blush for me and turn all cute and red.”

She wanted to see that, but wasn’t sure the world would survive seeing Surtr at less than full control of himself. There was a lot of energy and passion locked inside a body that he held under careful control, refusing to allow it to slip for even a second. Of course, her impulsive nature really wanted to see what a passionate, out-of-control Surtr looked like. It would be a sight to behold only in a very limited context or from another planet away. Like Saturn.

“It doesn’t matter anyway… I need a cute name for you,” Infinity said, leaning her head against his arm. “Something that will make your toes curl when I moan it for you. Not Sury. That’s my anger-name for you. Something that will make your stomach clench with need when I whisper it in public, and leave you struggling to not sweep me off to a room somewhere and do fun things to me.” Like dearest one did for me. She peeked up at him. “Got any suggestions?”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He was silent for a moment, his eyes on her face, and Infinity wondered if she had perhaps offended him - he was a prickly son of a bitch - when she realised that his cheeks were faintly - very, very faintly - red. And his pupils, swimming in their sea of molten gold, were wide and deep, and somewhere in their black depths jade fires danced, and flickered, and burned...

"I don't think I've ever heard that request made of me before." Surtr managed to say, and though he sounded calm to her, he was acutely aware that his skin felt hot under his clothing right now, the type of heat that made clothing somewhat uncomfortable but at the same time you didn't want it to stop. He wasn't, contrary to popular speculation, made of ice and rock: he was made of Fire and Will. Puck had always had this type of effect on him, and so did Infinity - not the overwhelming or suborning of his Will, but the cultivation of his Fire: the blend of love and inspiration that gave a channel for his more carnal desires. He smiled shyly and looked away from her red eyes, gazing out over the fields as they reached the fence and gate on the other side of the pasture they had traversed. She has her own fire, her own will. That is why we strike sparks.

"I mean it." Infinity told him softly, thinking about the burning flickers of emerald she had seen deep in his gaze. "Look at me?" she asked him, and when he hesitated she stepped in front of him and, turning to face him, clasped his face in her hands and forced him to meet her gaze. "I said, look at me." The words weren't harshly spoken, or authoritative, but somewhere between a plea and an order. She watched his eyes as they met hers once more, seeing again the molten shimmer surrounding the dark windows to his soul, and in the darkness that terrible, alluring flame. Slowly he raised his left hand to her right, folding his fingers about hers and, without taking his gaze away from her eyes, kissed her palm with warm lips.

"How can I condense the essence of what you awaken in me to a single name?" he asked semi-playfully. "What would you call me? That would suffice. 'Sury', whispered with passion and need by you, could cause me to wish we were elsewhere, limbs tangled and our lips on each other's skin." He smiled devilishly, his smoldering gaze still on her. "It causes me to wish that even when you use it angrily." He kissed her palm again, before trailing her fingertips over his lips one by one. He did not possess the quantum-infused touch of Puck or other lovers Infinity had enjoyed, but the gesture was no less intimate for that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Infinity felt her world spin again as the old torment-name ‘Sury’ took on another meaning. For a moment, her cheeks felt hot; then she started to giggle. “Me calling you Sury has been a turn-on?”

Surtr’s cheeks were aflame again, but he held his eyes on hers. “Yes,” he said softly.

“For all this time?” she asked, smirking.

“Yes.” Again, it was delivered in a near whisper.

“Wow,” she murmured, frowning a little. “I wish I’d known,” she said softly, drawing his hand to her lips. She kissed the back of his hand, wondering if it sent sparks shivering over his skin like his lips did to her fingers. “It would have saved both of us a lot of pain, because I imagine it didn’t feel good when I stopped talking to you.”

Where would she be now if she had known? Would she have left the Nursery with Puck and struck out on her own, determined to put Surtr and her nursery-mates far behind her? Or would something have changed? She had no idea and no way of learning. That was the past, and it had been written. The only thing she could change was the future, and she planned to make a few changes. Her eyes darkened with the weight and heat of those thoughts as she teased a knuckled with light nips of her teeth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The softness of her lips contrasted with the press of her teeth into his skin, creating small pulses of pleasure that flashed their signals to his brain. Surtr analysed them, broke them down into their component parts, and savored them together with the growing warmth in Infinity's speculative gaze. It was happening again just like in the Nursery, he knew, only this time Infi was more physically alluring, more experienced, more certain of herself and thus harder to resist.

"The pain helped me grow." he replied softly. "It gave me clarity, forced me to see and evaluate what I wanted to be, what I wanted of those around me." He touched the fingertips of his free hand to her cheek, feeling the pulse of life and quantum there under the fragile flesh. One day, we will dance through stars together, you and I and Puck. We will tread measures of creation, innovation and destruction. In the sum of my experience, there are none so like me and yet so different from me as you two. Maybe we will be more than three, but right now that is what I want. "Missing you gave me the impetus I needed to form my own Archetype."

"Don't make a habit of being a jerk to me just so you can experience growth, Sury." Infinity warned huskily, nipping almost-painfully at one of his trapped fingertips before sucking teasingly on it. "Or it'll be the longest period of growth since some fucker said 'Let there be light'."

"I'm no longer a child." Surtr murmured with heat underscoring his voice, leaning towards her. "It is time to put away childish things."

"It's a shame." Infinity said playfully, trying not to notice the breathlessness his nearness was causing. "You were such a lovely baby. And you ruined it by getting older - no, wait, you didn't really get older." she grinned innocently. "You just got bigger."

"Ouch." Surtr said with a low laugh, then stepped forwards, pressing his mouth to hers in a kiss that burned down to her toes, full of passion and fire and all things him, under the cool surface. Infinity relaxed against him, feeling the heat of his body through their clothes, the sense of terrible power and Will concealed in a slender boyish form as that kiss burned her mouth like spicy sweet liquor, his tongue playfully flickering like a flame against her lips before the kiss broke. "I'm sure there are some compensations for my 'getting bigger'." Surtr murmured with that smile of his, his cheeks still flushed and his eyes aflame.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“There might be one or two,” Infinity agreed softly as she leaned against Surtr, angling her body slightly so that the main compensation could be clearly felt by her body.. She liked that he could laugh at her barbs; she liked that he could kiss her like this. That’s what Puck and I taught him, she thought, and found that she liked that thought, too. She liked that she could still feel the lessons she’d given him so long ago. And she liked equally well that she could feel techniques from Puck on his lips.

“There might be a few more,” she added in a husky murmur that vibrated all the way down his spine. She released his hands and trailed her fingers down his chest before remembering that they were on a walk. With a rueful smile at her own impatience, Infinity walked her fingers back up to his shoulders and then rubbed down his arms to take his hands. Taking a step, she pulled him into motion, saying, “You know, it’s a shame you didn’t get to see me as a baby,” she told him. “I’m told I was really cute – rather like I am now.” She flashed him a smile that had him inclined to agree.

When he was walking again, Infinity sidled up to his side and asked, “Do you do this a lot? Just go walking out in the middle of nowhere?” She’d never really enjoyed such a thing, though she could see the charm in it when she had company, but not when alone. “And why?”

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...