Well, I've returned. This is the sister story to 'Rule 11' with its focus on Phoenix. Now… it's gonna be weird, since it is, in fact, from Phoenix's POV. (I couldn't figure out if I wanted to do that or not; then I had a dream about him from his POV so I decided it was a sign.)
Anyway, for any of you (if there ARE any of you) who have not read 'Rule 11' let me say this: the plot will make sense without reading 'Rule 11.' The terminology will not. Because there are phrases that are used so commonly in 'Rule 11' that I have ceased having Kasey translate them. Those phrases will not be translated by Phoenix either. So… you can go read 'Rule 11' and come back to this, or you can read this and try to make sense of it, or you can just not read either of them. Up to you.
Finally the title ('Abomination') came from a comment made by Leminkain's character in the crossover section of his story. ("So, she killed her lover in defense, but was still burdened with a child. One that many must see as an abomination."—Niyol d'Franc on Antigone Anderson.)
And now that we've got all that out of the way, I want you all to know (if you haven't read any of my other stories) that I say a bunch of crap at the beginning of every chapter. You can skip the italics. If it's important enough that you need to read it, it will also be in bold.
This starts at chapter 23 of Rule 11 (rule 1), meaning that there will be some overlap between this story and 'Rule 11'. :)
Alsoooooo, by 'potential slash' I meant that… well… Phoenix's love interest has not introduced him or herself yet. And I really have no clue as to Mr. Phoenix Anderson's sexuality. (I'm sure those of you reading Rule 11 understand that sentiment.) I have however determined that Phoenix is either gay or bisexual, however, so slash is likely.
Well, have fun!
Kiyoshi'sGirl64 and Kiyoshi
Nōlō Ego Timērī; Āmarī Mālō
He pushes me back on the bed, kissing me. "This really your first time, Nix?" he murmurs into the soft skin of my neck, using the nickname only he can get away with.
"Yes," I say, my voice clear. There is anticipation building in my gut, as well as an odd sense of dread as though something bad is going to happen.
He shivers almost imperceptibly. His heart is clouded with lust. "It's incredibly hot how calm you are, Nix." I feel him smile into my neck. "I don't know how in hell a guy as hot as you made it seventeen years without getting laid." He doesn't believe that I've never had sex, but he's pleased with the idea. He begins stripping both of us of our clothing. I begin sucking on his neck, and he moans. "Damn, Nix. Why can't I make you lose control like this?" He doesn't understand that I'm hardly in control of my actions anymore. I add some teeth and he tries not to let me see his pleasure, but that's not something you can hide from the gets. So I bite down a bit harder. He tastes so good… salty, metallic, sweet.
I push him off me, and he falls heavily to the floor. I stand, trying not to let him see how bad I'm shaking. I dress as quickly as possible, and at the door to his room, I stop and turn to look at him. And he's fucking afraid. He's afraid of me and he hasn't even realized that there is blood dripping from two punctures on his neck. As gently as I can, I say, "I'm sorry, Mason. I can't do this. It's over."
My eyes snap open. I lie in silence, staring up at the dirty, cracked ceiling of my dingy apartment. I haven't even thought about Mason—my first and only serious relationship—for close to three years, haven't talked to him since that night I broke up with him and left his bedroom.
We didn't love each other, but we did care for each other. When I told him it was over, he wasn't angry or offended that I had pushed him out of his own bed. He was just hurt.
At school, it wasn't difficult to avoid him. Erratic behavior and an extreme inability to ignore the gets and pay attention had led me to fail the third, sixth and seventh grades. Mason was little more than a month older than me, yet he was a junior and I was a freshman.
I sigh and get up. I shouldn't be thinking about Mason and all the things I can never have. It's probably because of Kasey McAllister and how he's playing Russian roulette with Taylor's life. I should have just killed him. Met with him alone that first time he came back to Tennessee with Taylor. He would have simply disappeared. But I didn't have it in me to hurt Taylor like that. Not to mention my damn Light. It didn't want me to kill another Hokshi. I open my wardrobe and pull the Light out. It flashes a bright black, the contradiction of my life. It is actually black, yet it somehow manages to emit light.
The curse of being neither Zentqrin nor Hokshi, neither Darkness nor Light, a child of neither Vardil nor Kliso. An abomination.
Perhaps I need to be honest with myself. Kasey McAllister knows more of his qrin than I know of mine. I know only the most basic concepts, having been raised as Zentqrin. Perhaps I would have been better off if Sudra had smothered my Light when I was born. I don't know what that would have done to me, emotionally. Perhaps it would have killed me. Perhaps I would have grown up as a normal Zentqrin. Perhaps I would have been an emotionless abomination, much as I am viewed today. But I wouldn't have cared because the emotionlessness wouldn't have been a front, as it is now.
I have tried to smother my Light on multiple occasions. The first time was the same night I broke up with Mason.
But it hurts. It's like you're being torn apart from the inside out. No half-sane person would be capable of smothering their own Light, not even a Hokshi-Zentqrin cross. I always wondered why putting out a Light was not a punishment in Hokshi law. After that first attempt, I understood. I understand why putting out a Light is a crime punishable by death, while never being a punishment itself.
Not even the Hokshi are that barbaric.
On another note, I cannot for the life of me understand Kasey McAllister. I consistently get the impression that he simply ignores his Light. He seals it away where it cannot be seen, and he leaves it there. He doesn't take it with him when he leaves, unless he is going a considerable distance. Perhaps that is why I did not kill him. His qrin—with his Light so far away—would have been all but useless.
As well as the fact that I cannot understand how he manages to ignore it as he does. I wish I could. I have tried, but then it starts… acting weird. I get the impression that Kasey McAllister does not have this problem. Perhaps it is the fact that he does not have Zentqrin blood. Perhaps it is his love for Taylor. Perhaps it is something else entirely. But his Light is evidently perfectly content being ignored. Mine is not. If I don't carry it with me, I sometimes come back to my apartment to find things knocked over and broken, a side effect of my Light flying around the room in something akin to anger. As much as something that doesn't possess consciousness can get angry.
I think too much. I sigh, shower and dress, my Light following me as always. You would think that it would hate me, for trying to put it out. But it doesn't. A side effect of the fact that it doesn't actually think, I suppose. It is part of me.
I sigh and my mind returns to Taylor and Kasey McAllister. They're still together. I cannot truly say I'm surprised, though. He genuinely loves Taylor, and Taylor him. My Light darkens with my jealousy.
I may act as though I don't care, but I hate how much I'm ostracized. By the frinok, by the Zentqrin, gods forbid any Hokship find out about me. Even a true Hokshi has managed to obtain what I cannot. I see no justice in it. I did not ask to be what I am. I sigh and carefully place my Light in my pocket. Then I head down the street to Marcy's. I walk in and sit down with Mark Seeger and the others. Then Mark Seeger asks, "Where's Tay?"
"His apartment," I answer, feeling a slight pulse of affirmation in my pocket. I'm not sure it's entirely normal for me to be able to monitor people's whereabouts with the Light, or if that's a combinations of the Light and the gets.
Mark Seeger jumps to his feet. "Let's go." We all get up and walk Mark and Laila drive us to Taylor's apartment. We get to their third floor apartment, and Mark Seeger pounds on the door, but it's Kasey McAllister who answers and lets us in. He feels different. Not so… I don't know.
"That smells good. Did Taylor learn to cook or are you actually capable of doing something more than standing there and looking sexy?" Mark Seeger demands of Kasey.
"You have no idea," Taylor says, and stands to walk over to us and I see him flinch slightly. It's miniscule and I'm not sure even Kasey McAllister notices. But it's enough. That explains why they both feel… different. Their emotions. They've had sex. "On either count."
"You credit me with too much, Taylor," Kasey McAllister murmurs.
Taylor shakes his head in denial. "I don't think I do."
"You've hurt him, Kasey McAllister," I state blandly. In reality… it pisses me off that he would risk that again.
No one says anything for a long time. Kasey McAllister just looks at me. "If you know I've hurt him, I'm sure you know the circumstances as well, Phoenix Anderson?" It's odd. Lately he has reverted to calling me by both first and last names. For the most part he always called me by only my first name, but then we got in an altercation, and that fell away, revealing his Hokshi upbringing.
But he's right. I do know how Taylor was hurt. So I nod, which causes Taylor's face to turn red. I wonder when—if—he'll stop getting embarrassed by my gets. "I just wonder why you would take that kind of risk after…" I reach out and touch the two impossibly small scars on Taylor's neck.
Kasey McAllister takes a threatening step towards me. "Ru trovent, Phoenix Anderson. Tona posent. Poreska paul thik rua umkorli." I love him, Phoenix Anderson. I am careful. My lips do not go near his neck. So he says. Aside from the statement that he loves Taylor, I do not believe him.
"You are foolhardy, Kasey McAllister. Is there any reason I should not do as my people command and kill you?" No, there is not.
He seems to agree. "No, Phoenix Anderson, there's not. But for whatever reason, you're not going to kill me. Because if you were, you would have done it long before now."
I can't keep a scowl off my face. But… what if… what if I tell Kasey McAllister the truth? What if I tell him of my Light? He can obviously control himself in ways I cannot. Perhaps—as much as I loathe asking him for advice—perhaps he can tell me how to keep from harming frinok as I almost harmed Mason. "Perhaps," I agree. "But there are things about me you do not know, Kasey McAllister. Things I wish to discuss with you. Alone."
"Do you mind?" Kasey McAllister asks Taylor.
Taylor shakes his head, saying, "Just please, don't kill each other, and don't destroy our room, Kasey."
He smiles. "I'll try. But no promises." It is a genuine possibility that Kasey McAllister and I might try to harm each other. It has come very close before now. I lead him back to the bedroom, where he sits down on his bed. I close and lock the door. "Well?" he asks.
I look at him, and I'm not sure what he sees in my eyes, but he seems startled. After a while, I ask, "How do you control your nature, Kasey McAllister? I do not understand." I wasn't even raised to feed on humans and I can't control that desire.
He shakes his head, looking as bewildered as I feel. "I don't either, Phoenix Anderson. I just… Taylor is so important to me… I'd rather… I don't know." He lets out a long sigh. "But the Lights and the biting are something that can be controlled, Phoenix Anderson. The gets cannot be controlled, it simply is. You should know that."
I look away from him, unable to meet his eyes any longer. "I do know that. I'm not worried about the gets. I'm worried about this, the same thing you're worried about." I pull out my Light. He gapes at me. Not that I blame him. To be both Zentqrin and Hokshi is not something anyone would expect. So I say, with forced calm, "I'm the bastard child of the Light and the Darkness, Kasey McAllister. You should know that, on occasion, Hokshi have been known to intentionally or unintentionally seduce Zentqrin. By unintentionally I mean that they don't realize it's a Zentqrin they are trying to seduce." Hokshi are always trying to seduce. To suggest that they might sleep with a Zentqrin by mere chance is completely ridiculous. Kasey McAllister continues to stare, disbelieving. He's having trouble processing the idea of what must have happened. "Yes, Kasey McAllister," I tell him. "My father seduced my mother, and by the time my mother had realized her mistake and killed him, it was too late. And the Zentqrin share the twenty third law of the Hokshi, Kasey McAllister."
"Do not abort a pregnancy," he mutters. But he sounds totally lost as he asks me, "Phoenix Anderson, how am I supposed to help you?"
I can feel my forced composure cracking as I answer, but after last night's dream and what obviously happened between Kasey and Taylor, I really don't care. "Tell me how to control these freaking instincts," I hiss. "I can control the qrin"—sort of—"and while the gets is sometimes a pain in the ass when you're trying to form relationships, it can be dealt with. But this desire I have to tear people to shreds with my teeth, that I don't know how to control."
"Phoenix," he says slowly, carefully, as though he doesn't wish to anger me more. "I don't know either. It's a conscious effort, and I still don't understand how I do it. I'm just screaming at myself in my head that I have to be careful or Taylor will be hurt again. I'm sorry I can't help you." What's weird is that he's not lying. He genuinely wishes he could help. Odd.
By Vardil! I'm so… ugh. I'm sick of being alone. Well, Kasey McAllister is an outcast now as well. Perhaps baring my soul to him will relieve some of the tension in my heart. "Kasey," I start, and before I've thought about it, I've continued without using his surname. "I have been alone my entire life. There are Zentqrin communities set up near most Hokshi ones." I really shouldn't be telling this to Kasey McAllister, a Hokshi—admittedly, a criminal, but Hokshi nonetheless. "I was born in Helena, Kasey. My mother had to move halfway across the country because she was ostracized. So when I was ten, she moved us to Knoxville. Because of the combined problems of the qrin and the gets, I flunked several grades. I was seventeen by the time I entered high school, Kasey. Seventeen." There I go, forgetting his surname again. "How many high school freshmen are seventeen? My mother kicked out her bastard Hokshi child the day I turned eighteen. So I moved to Nashville to finish my freshman year. And Taylor welcomed me, something that had never happened before." It bewildered me at the time. How anyone could welcome me into their midst. But that's the way Taylor is. It may be Mark Seeger who is the leader of our little group, but Taylor is the one who holds us all together. "I made the others nervous at first, but Taylor didn't care that I was a freak. Until I met Taylor, I was alone. That's why I'm dead set on protecting him over any of the others. But I don't know how." Because he's physically in danger with Kasey McAllister here, but the emotional trauma if Kasey McAllister were to leave could be just as bad. "And now I'm just jealous that you can have that kind of relationship with anyone. I'm not in love with Taylor… but he's my only real friend, and in a way, you're taking him away from me." Vardil, I sound like a jealous girlfriend. "I can't resent you for it, because you make him so happy. But I want the kind of relationship you have with him, and I can't have it because I'm fucking Hokshi." I can't quite keep the bitterness and anger out of my voice at the end of my little tirade. Too late now, I suppose.
Kasey McAllister's words are not what I expect. I mean, his shock is obvious, but the words he says are not the ones I want to hear. "Helena? Helena, Montana?"
"Yes," I say as calmly as I can manage. "Zentqrin communities exist near Hokshi ones. I told you that."
"What was your father's name?"
How does that matter at all? Honestly? "Does it matter? I'm three years older than you. He was dead before you were born."
"Doesn't matter," he says brushing that off. "Missing Hokshi—which we can generally tell are dead—must be found. Or we must at least find out what happened to them."
Okay, I give up. "Whatever. His name was Kenneth Walton." He stares at me. He doesn't believe me. "I'm not joking, Kasey McAllister. Why don't you believe me? Your absolute astonishment bewilders me." Kasey McAllister continues gaping at me, mouth wide open, disbelief rolling off of him in waves. "Kasey McAllister, you must speak," I remind him. "I read and interpret intentions and emotions, I can't read minds."
"Kenneth Walton was my mother's brother," Kasey McAllister finally gasps. "Kenneth Walton was my uncle."
My father was Kasey McAllister's half-uncle? I try to find some shred of evidence that he is lying. But there is none. "You speak the truth, Kasey McAllister."
Kasey McAllister scowls. "I may be stupid, but I'm not stupid enough to think I could lie to a Zentqrin and get away with it."
Suddenly we're interrupted by Taylor knocking on the door. "Kasey, Phoenix? Are you both still alive in there?"
I frown. "Kasey, I'm not sure what to think of this fact. That we're…" I really don't want to state it.
"Cousins?" Kasey McAllister finally says.
I shake my head. "I just don't know how to feel about it. It makes it worse and better at the same time." And it does. "Just this living verification that I'm connected to the Hokshi. It sucks. And at the same time… it's better because you aren't like the rest of them. I mean, I assume I have other cousins who are normal…" As normal as it can be considered to drink human blood. "But I haven't met them. It's just very weird."
"Kasey, Phoenix? Can I come in?"
"Hang on a sec, Taylor," Kasey says. "We'll be out in a moment."
"Okay," Taylor says, and I can feel his uncertainty. He thinks we're about to kill each other.
Kasey looks at me. "So what do we do? Do we tell Taylor or not?"
I shake my head. "No. Not unless it's necessary." The less people who know I'm Hokshi, the better.
Kasey stands, shakes my hand, and we walk back out, Kasey trying not to freak out. Then out of the blue, he laughs. Taylor gives him an odd look, and Kasey explains, "Thinking of my mother. She would have a cow if she knew what Phoenix and I just discussed." This is likely true. Any good Hokshi would die of shame if they knew they were related to a Zentqrin. More evidence that Kasey is not a good Hokshi.
Mark Seeger smirks at me. "Taylor, are you sure it's safe to let them be around each other? Phoenix might try and steal Kasey from you."
I lose my temper and punch him at the same time Kasey grabs Taylor and promises him, "Never."
Mark Seeger staggers backward as I say, "I would never sleep with Kasey, Mark Seeger."
Mark Seeger however can't shut up. As per usual. "Then why do you use only his first name, Phoenix Anderson?" he mocks me. "Taylor's the only one you do that with, and we all know you care about him more than the rest of us." There's that resentment again. I have long known Mark Seeger has feelings a bit beyond mere friendship for me. "Why do you do the same for Kasey if there isn't something more between the two of you?"
Kasey cuts in, probably for the best. "There is something more between us," he snaps almost violently, pulling Taylor to him. "He's my freaking cousin."
Total silence pervades the room. Laila Harris finally breaks it with, "You're cousins?"
I sigh. I didn't really want this to get out, but Kasey was likely right in determining that it was the best way to avoid a physical altercation. "Yes, Laila Harris," I admit. "Cousins."
"Kasey, why didn't you tell me?" Taylor's hurt is only superficially disguised. I can only imagine how much anguish he would feel if he knew the true extent of Kasey's secrets.
"I didn't know," Kasey says calmly. "That's what I meant. My mother would die of embarrassment if she knew her nephew was Zentqrin."
"What is with this blood feud?" Carson demands. "Why is it so bad that he's Hotshi and you're Zenken or whatever the hell it is?"
Kasey is trying not to laugh at Carson's mistakes, but I don't find it amusing in the slightest. "Kasey is Hokshi, Carson Daniels, and I am both Zentqrin and Hokshi. The Hokshi and Zentqrin have always hated each other and always will hate each other. There is nothing more for it." And there isn't.
"So…" Taylor says hesitantly, "Can you guys get along? I mean, you couldn't get along because of that, but if Phoenix is actually part Hokshi, it shouldn't be a problem, should it?"
"I was raised as Zentqrin, Taylor," I remind him. "Old habits die hard." And it is a habit. I breathe in deeply. Can I get along with Kasey McAllister? Perhaps. "But I will try."
"Is there someone you could talk to about this?" Jennifer Wilson asks. "Someone who's an adult? Who won't, like, be biased or anything?"
"No," Kasey and I both answer without hesitation. An adult Hokshi or an adult Zentqrin being unbiased is an entirely impossible proposition. Then I add, "Although, my mother might be able to enlighten me on a few things… I never thought to ask her before." Lies. I have thought to ask her, yet it was pointless. I knew she wouldn't answer.
"You're seriously considering asking your mother about this?" Kasey asks. "I thought she disowned you."
"She did," I reply calmly. Why did he have to bring that up? It's painful. "But that's not really the point. She hates me because she made a stupid mistake and let a Hokshi get her pregnant." I pace back and forth. "What if I could show her that Hokshi and Zentqrin can get along? That Hokshi and frinok can get along? Kasey, what if this shitty war could end?" That is a completely ridiculous proposition. And yet… if only it were possible.
"The gods don't want it to end, Phoenix," Kasey says quietly. "As much as I wish that to be possible, it's not. Frisna and Derna are still at war, Kliso and Vardil are still at war. The loose alliances still exist." Very loose. Tension between the Kaern and the Hokshi is often high. The frinok are not even aware of the protection provided by the Zentqrin, as limited as it has become. "And without Searna's help, there will be no end."
Searna. That's why all this is happening. "Kasey, you're a genius."
"What?" Okay, never mind. Kasey really isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer.
"Searna, Kasey, Searna," I insist. "Who else would allow a bastard Hokshi-Zentqrin cross to be born? Who else would allow a Hokshi to fall in love with a frinok? Kasey, what if Searna wants this? The Phasti may be gone, but she has some reign over all life. We are alive. She has influence. What if she wanted all this? What if she's resuming the fight to end the war? What if she's creating bonds between the Zentqrin and the Hokshi, the Hokshi and the frinok?" That leaves the Kaern, which Kasey promptly notes.
"Where do the Kaern fall in this picture, Phoenix?" he whispers, unwilling to state the obvious. "It only works if she's working on the heart of at least one Kaern as well."
"How do we know she isn't, Kasey?" I ask. There are far too many people inhabiting this world to know how many people Searna might be working through. Who knows. Perhaps I am not the only one who is both Zentqrin and Hokshi. I turn to Taylor. "You have a car. Let's go on a road trip."
"Wait, what?" Taylor asks, taken off guard.
"Road trip," I say. "You, me, Kasey."
"Damn," Mark Seeger mutters. "I'm not included."
I bite back the urge to tell him that it should be totally obvious why he's not invited. Instead I just say, "We can visit my mother, talk to her about the relationship between Hokshi, Zentqrin and frinok. We can do the same with Kasey's Hokshir."
"No," Kasey says immediately. "I can't go back." He looks at me. He will be killed if he steps foot in that place. And I would be killed even before him.
I shake my head. I don't know what I was thinking. "Of course," I say. "Well, we can visit my mother."
"We have work, Phoenix," Taylor says, sounding a bit disappointed. He wants to come.
"So set up a time when you can both come," I say, not able to keep the frustration out of my voice. This needs to be done. "I can wait. And she lives in Knoxville. It's not like we'll be driving halfway across the country."
"Fine," Taylor agrees easily. "We'll go to see your mother."
Good. That's perfect. Except for the fact that my mother hates me. But that bridge can be crossed when we reach it.
And that is our lovely first chapter. Thanks to all of you for reading! The next few chapters will have a lot (and I mean a lot) of overlap with Rule 11, but then will move on to something else. Don't ask me what because I really don't know. In addition, Phoenix is still harder to write than Kasey and Taylor ever were, so I'm going to shoot for weekly updates as opposed to daily updates. Sorry.
Kiyoshi'sGirl64 and Kiyoshi