by: Lockea Stone


WARNING: This was written between the hours of midnight and 2:30 AM, during which time the author had to do laundry, contend with drunk dorm mates, and chit-chat with her baby sister on the other side of the country. It is also a part of the NaNoWriMo contest. All these should give you a good indication of the writing quality contained within.
Also: This chapter contains a very brief and subtle reference to homosexuality. The story as a whole contains elements of gay, lesbian, straight, and polyfidelous relationships. If any of those offend you, please leave now.

AN: This story takes place in what could either be a future of our society or an alternate version of Earth. It's probably not meant to be a political commentary, because I don't even take myself that seriously. Just enjoy it for the fact that it features two main characters who screw everything up and can't exactly fix it. More information about this story can be found on my profile.
For my Gaia readers
: Leala's not going to come in for a few chapters, but don't worry, I didn't decide to delete her. She plays a vital role in the way Adult!Emmer and Adult!Jade interact with each other.

Silence finds distance

And the distance will see us falter

Violent condition

Of a heart that always shames love

Just say that it's over all we've begun

Just say that it's time to lessen the sum

To tear down a bridge and build a divide

Erase all the memories drawn inside

~"Just Say It" by Sleepthief



The guards came around midday. The night before, Eliza, head of the trainers in Meadowhaven, had come to my room and told me that I was to be sold. My training had been complete for a long time, so it was only a matter of time before someone bought me and I would leave Meadowhaven for the first time in my life. I was neither dreading it nor terribly excited about it. Instead, I took advantage of the fact that I did not have to wake up at the crack of dawn and stayed up late with Amber, my head in her lap as she finished her homework.

Amber's training is much more involved than mine. It will be at least three more years before she is sold out of Meadowhaven.

She stroked my hair absently, playing with the curls and brushing the tangles out of the long ash-pale locks. Her hands were gentle and warm, comforting in a way only she could be. My beloved twin, my other half. We sat in silence, with the sound of her pencil scratching away in her workbook as the only sound in the room.

"Jade." She'd said to me that morning, the one conversation that passed between us. The one that happened to be our last as teenagers. "Are you sure you're all right?"

I nodded.

"I'm worried about you." She said, twining one of my ringlets around her fingers. She liked to play with my hair, because hers was so short. A Bot had no need of beauty as a Companion did, so Amber's pale hair was cropped short, with messy locks framing a scarred face. It was the scarring that ruined her face for training as Companion. She smiled, though, and a shadow of her former beauty shined through. "Maybe I'm just being the overprotective big sister, but I'm honestly worried for you. Nobles are a nightmare, and you'll be intimately involved in their conflicts."

I wanted to communicate to her that I would be fine. We were trained to deal with Nobles and their politics. I was more concerned about how kind my master would be. I thought that maybe I could deal with a harsh one-- one who would treat me unfairly and punish me for the smallest reasons. We'd been trained to potentially deal with that. But I wanted a kind one.

I wanted. That, in and of itself, was important.

I reached up to place a finger against her lips, shushing her gently. She smiled again, a little sadly, and covered my hand with her own. "Jade, I love you. I want you to find the same happiness I have found."

I nodded again and closed my eyes, relaxing against her fully.

She didn't say anything else.

The guards came, of course, at midday. Amber set aside her work book and helped me stand up, one thin arm wrapped protectively around my waist. The guards were patient, even kind, as Amber and I spent a few long minutes simply hugging each other. We kissed each other goodbye several times, her covering both my cheeks.

It was to be the last time I would see my sister.

My knees hit the tile of Meadowhaven's lobby with an audible thud. It was one of my less graceful descents, and left me reeling inside more from embarrassment and the hope that my mistress hadn't noticed than from the tangible pain in my kneecaps.

I'd pretended not to be bothered by the whole business of being sold for the first time, but in truth it left my mind a jumbled and only barely coherent mess of thoughts and emotions I couldn't untangle for myself. I felt like I was falling apart at the seems. Seeing a Noble in flesh and blood for the first time sealed it for me. Up until then, my training had been interactions between the trainers and I, where they would instruct and I would act. Now there would be no instruction. If I made a mistake in training, the punishment was a slap on the wrist, or spending a day or two in isolation at the worst. If I made a mistake now, then my master would be well within her rights to do with me as she pleased for punishment. I was determined not to make a mistake.

Which is why, of course, I made a mistake within the first five seconds of meeting my mistress. Of course. That was perfectly logical. I tried to keep my face perfectly blank, even though inside my thoughts were racing again. How could you do something so graceless! Are you a well bred and well trained Companion or are you a common whore? Show her that she's not wasting her money on you! Don't you want to have a comfortable life? These thoughts warred with the other camp of thoughts. Maybe she didn't notice. She might forgive you for one little mistake. Surely she's owned Companions before and knows what nervous creatures freshly trained ones are!

"Not a terribly graceful creature, is he?" My new mistress remarked in amusement, reaching down with one elegant but wrinkled hand to lift my chin. I glanced up and saw her face for the first time. She was older than I'd suspected, in her fifties or so, with deep wrinkles framing a thin, stern face. Her gray hair was pulled back into an elegant bun. I fought to keep any sort of fear from showing on my face.

"Normally, yes." The guard remarked, sounding just about as pained as I felt. I prayed to the goddess Farrah that I hadn't messed up my sale. The last thing I needed was to be sent back in disgrace. "The slave is very affectionate when he wants to be, and graceful when he feels at ease, but he tends to let anxiety trip him up. I hope you can understand that."

The mistress didn't seem to be. She frowned in response. "My daughter will want to show him off. She always does like to flaunt her possessions. If he's ruined for public use, then she will not want him."

Don't let your emotions show. Don't let your emotions show. I echoed the eternal wisdom of my trainers in my head, trying to keep a perfectly straight face. I had to trust the guard to speak on my behalf, and help me get out of the hole I'd dug for myself in the span of less than two minutes.

"He is perfectly fine performing in public." The guard amended hastily. Damn nobles and their rhetoric. Guards were not well enough trained to deal in this sort of negotiations. Neither was I, obviously, but it still didn't raise my confidence to trust the guard with my future. "You must understand that Meadowhaven is a training facility. All the slaves we sell have very little in the way of real world experience. This one is very young, but I'm sure if you give him a chance to grow into himself, you'll be quite pleased."

It was a terribly inadequate excuse, even to me, but for whatever reason, the noble let go of the topic, and returned to inspecting me. "Well, he is a beauty, that much cannot be denied. I don't remember the last time I saw a male Companion with such delicate features. It must have taken generations to get this type of bone structure." It was an offhand sort of compliment, but I felt the urge to beam anyway. I was good looking and I knew it. How could I not be proud of that trait?

"Yes ma'am. Though, admittedly, there was some genetic engineering involved in keeping the bone structure from changing as slaves went through puberty."

The noble hummed approvingly, finally releasing my face. I went back to staring at my cloth covered knees, which were still hurting even though it had turned to a dim ache in the back of my mind.

"I must say, I never expected to find such a high quality slave from a general training center, but other than a few kinks in his discipline, which can be ironed out with some private instruction, this one is truly remarkable." Without warning, the noble grabbed my arm and twisted it behind my back as she simultaneously pushed my head down, leaving me in an awkward but not terribly uncomfortable position (though if she kept pushing on my arm like that, she might have broken it). I didn't react, even as she forced my head lower until my nose almost touched the floor. Honestly, I had no idea why she did that. I just put up with it.

Apparently, the guard was just as confused as I was because I could hear his boots as he came near. "Ma'am, please. May I ask what you are doing?"

The noble let go of me, and I remained in that position for a few moments before slowly sitting back up, shaking my arm out lightly as I returned it to my lap. "Not even a squeak out of him. Rare indeed is it to find a Companion trained to take pain without breaking their silence. At least in that regard he is very well trained."

I was. Am. Well trained, I mean. I mean, in not speaking. By which I mean that I don't speak. Ever. Because I was trained not to.

I'm going to shut up now.

"Yes, it's one of the first things they're trained in."

"I see. I see. Perfect. My daughter wants to become a judge like me, which means it is vitally important, even more so than grace, that I buy a Companion who can keep his silence at all times."

"Then our Companions are a good choice. They're trained to hold their voices in even the most intense of situations and all times. It's the very first thing we teach them."

"I see, I see. Very well then. Stand up, slave, I would like to see if you do possess any grace in you at all. Surely you were trained to dance, at least?" She gestured imperially, the motion of her hand lazy but elegant.

I nodded, because I could answer, and rocked forward carefully on my heels to keep from stepping on the hem of my robes and rose to my feet gracefully. She watched me in affected boredom as I took a few careful gliding steps back and settled into the starting pose of a familiar yet moderately complex dance. The movements came naturally and I was only halfway through the dance before the noble called for me to stop, the amused grin returning to her face.

"That's enough. He's perfect for my daughter. I will accept him."

I knelt back on the ground, this time with grace as befitted my station, and bowed low to her.

I breathed an silent sight of relief.

I first met Emmer at the same time I met Charlotte. They're siblings, you see. The noble who bought me, whose name and rank I did not know before hand, was the Honored Judge Grace Dartey. She was one of the most powerful people in the country. She claimed but two children; then-twenty-two year old Charlotte and then-seventeen year old Emmer. I was a gift for Charlotte's twenty second birthday.

After being sold, Grace took me to her home in Waverly, a beautiful sprawling mansion the likes of which I had only seen in the occasional picture, but the wealth of which I could not comprehend. It was modeled in the styles of old, from before the Oligarchy, and the style had apparently been taken from some ancient culture even before that. Marble columns and high arches defined an elegant white with gold trimmed world of beauty and elegance. Royal blue and red drapes adorned the walls and bay windows overlooked an estate that was primarily gardens for walking through. Even for a noble, the Dartey Estate was truly opulent.

She left me in a large, especially elegant room which she called the ballroom, and I knelt while Grace went to fetch her daughter. I kept one ear open for their footsteps, but couldn't help myself as I cast my eyes over the room, taking in the cool marble floor which was shot through with pale blue lines, or the multiple fireplaces along the walls. What little furniture there was was made of rich mahogany wood and red or blue plush material. Full and comfortable looking. I'd been trained to kneel for long periods of time, but I wanted to sit down and sink into one of those chairs...

It was voices that told me to return my attention to the floor in front of me. A male and a female chatting excitedly, their words indistinct in my mind. I didn't see them when they opened the door, but I heard the girl gasp loudly and say, "He's gorgeous!" Before she rushed over to me and grabbed my chin, forcing me to look up at her. The motion hurt my neck, because Charlotte Dartey turned out to be a very tall woman who had inherited her mother's stern face and narrow gray eyes. Otherwise, she didn't seem to have a single distinguishing feature to her. As a Companion, I'd been raised among people who were beautiful. Yet Emmer and Charlotte were not beautiful in the same way. I couldn't put my finger on what it was.

Next to Charlotte, Emmer was just as tall, but whereas Charlotte was slender, Emmer was bulky and muscular. They had hair the same warm brown color, though Emmer wore his longer than Charlotte's, cute loosely around his shoulders. "Yeah he is." Emmer agreed easily, staring openly at me. I cast my eyes downward, even as I felt his hand touching my hair, running his fingers through the carefully styled ringlets. "Now I'm jealous. I want a Companion this pretty too."

Charlotte grinned, pulling me up to my feet so her other hand could brush over my body, casually dragging it over the material of my robe, down my back and around my waist as she spoke. "Maybe when you become a legal adult, then Mother will get you a gift like mine."

"Aww, but that won't be for a few years! You have to promise to share with me, all right? No one listens to the stupid age rule anyway. It's never stopped us before!"

Charlotte just grinned even more broadly, taking on a mischievous look. "All right, Emmer, I promise." With that, of course, she leaned down and kissed me deeply. I let her, closing my eyes and allowing her to do as she pleased. Behind me, Emmer's hand untangled from my hair, instead sneaking further down.

I turned off my brain, just like I'd been trained to do. Sometimes, it's easier to do what you're told when you aren't thinking about the consequences.

I've never been a huge fan of first impressions, seeing as I usually make the wrong one. But, sometimes, I wish I did believe in them.

Maybe it would have prevented things from happening that never should have been allowed to happen.

Maybe. Maybe not.

Either way, my first encounter with Charlotte and Emmer Dartey was not one I remembered fondly. Perhaps that should have been a warning. A warning I missed.

Life's a bitch in that regard.

AN the #2 (no, I won't AN every chapter, btw): Not exactly a good indication of the overall plot of the story, but you can see where Jade is quirky when he's actually THINKING, but most of the time he doesn't really think very much. Anyway, this chapter was mainly to wave at Amber, who won't be back in the story until MUCH later, but plays a vital role. Also, it introduced the Dartey Clan (if you still think Jade and Emmer are going to be OMG!Fluff kittens, then I suggest you turn back NOW!) and their strangeness...

Next Chapter: Eight years from their initial meeting, the two meet again and Emmer gains an ally, Jade makes weird facial expressions, and sex sort of pretends it happens.

Reviews, even if it's just to say "not bad for NaNo quality" would be much appreciated. Just to let me know people are interested in the story and seeing it developed more fully later on.