Chapter 4: Experimenting
I was anxious about visiting Andie that night, but I figured I’d do better if I kept busy, so I spent the next day with Shane, Josh and Jeremy. The plan was the refine and re-think our distillery process. Shane had the process down, but we wanted to see if we could improve the equipment, higher yield and higher alcohol content. It was definitely a labor of love. A couple of tweaks to the temperature and slowing the process down a little resulted in pretty much what we were looking for. We cranked up the music and tested the previous batch – which was still pretty fucking good. Dancing solo around the room to the sultry music when I felt the heat behind me. Shane was pressed to my back and mirroring my moves. He’d danced with me before, but always at a distance. This time there was no distance, and it felt warm, and fluid, and fabulous. I let my head fall back to his shoulder and then his arms were around my waist. Strong hands. Felt nice. His lips on the back of my neck sent shivers through me. I could feel his interest pressed into the small of my back. Josh and Jeremy were pretty close to passed out on the couch – so we just kept dancing. It took a few minutes before we realized the music had stopped.
“Thanks for the dance, that was really nice.” But his hands didn’t move, not allowing me to move away. Instead, one smooth spin had me facing his hard body. Shane had always had limited fade ability, so he found it easier to build muscle mass than most of us, and he took it seriously. I was appreciating that dedication at that moment. I’m sure my confusion showed on my face, but I don’t think he noticed. The kiss was amazing, warm, soft and hard at the same time. I was pretty sure it was the alcohol talking…or should I say kissing…but I let him do it anyway and I remember that being the first time I had allowed myself to consider a hook-up since the Event.
I’ve asked myself a few thousand times why I walked away at that moment, but I guess I just got a little scared. I had spent so much time avoiding letting anyone get close, and I just couldn’t risk being that kind of vulnerability with another Enchanted. I don’t know why it made a difference, but for some reason at that moment it did. I turned on the fade and slid out of his arms.
“Fuck, LaLa…what did you do that for? Is it me?” The hurt on his face shook me. I didn’t know quite what to do with what I saw.
“No, Shane, you know I think you are a great friend, but it can’t be any more than that right now. You know I don’t get involved. It’s just not something I can do right now.” I knew I wasn’t making him understand, but it was all I had at the moment. Watching him walk away at that moment was truly painful. And I’ve regretted it for decades. Perhaps if I’d pursued Shane then I wouldn’t have gotten myself screwed up with the other stuff later. Hindsight sucks.
I didn’t bother using the jet ski to get back to the mainland. I decided it was easier to just pop over. I was one of only a couple of us that could pull that off, but it was faster, easier, and more difficult to track. I used the bathroom again – it was a small risk at this time of day, so I went for it. Luckily, no one was around to ask any odd questions.
I met Andie on the beach and I saw her looking around. “Hey LaLa. Where the ski?”
“I’ll explain later – it’s just easier this way for now. So what’s this amazing plan of yours?” Her eyes narrowed – she knew I was dodging. There was no way that would satisfy her for long, but hopefully it would distract her long enough to get her talking about her plan and maybe she would re-focus.
“Well, first I think we need to find somewhere a little more remote to figure out how this works. Then once we have the process down I want to explore the sensory possibilities. I don’t know what it felt like for you, but for me it was pretty amazing, and I want to see what the limits are. How good can it really be if we focus it.”
“Wow…OK, I guess I’m up for that. But you know, Andie, you can’t tell anyone. Not even Adam. I know you aren’t a ‘secrets’ kind of girl but in this case I don’t want to become a lab rat and we both know that’s what would happen!” I really wanted to explore this with her, and I guess that’s why I ignored all the warning signs. Like Andie’s sudden vocabulary improvement, her previously unexpressed interest in “sensory possibilities”…should have been a dead giveaway, but I will admit, I was selfish. I wanted to know more about the possibilities as well, and I thought the fewer people involved the better, and I had talked myself into trusting her.
“I get it LaLa. I am risking some pretty big trouble myself if you think about it – it’s against the law for anyone to associate with the Enchanted, and while it’s not likely I’d end up in jail, it could make my life pretty challenging if I told anyone what we were up to, and I’d probably end up just as much a lab rat as you. So if you decide to do this, discretion is the better part of valor for both of us.” Looking back at it now, I’m amazed at how honest, how earnest her facial expressions were. Talk about stupid decisions that come back to bite you…this one’s top of my list.
“Do you have someplace in mind?” I had never been to her apartment or house, or whatever she had. We’d only ever met at the beach parties and occasionally at a local bar, and almost never without the gang and Adam. This was new.
“My place is out – thin walls, nosy neighbors. I was actually thinking of Adam’s practice studio. No one is ever there during the week, and the walls are sound and vibration proofed for the band, so we would be totally insulated. I think that might work.”
“OK, lead the way.” It’s funny to think those four little words could have such cataclysmic results…
The studio was only a few blocks from the beach, and I remember thinking how clean it was for what it was supposed to be. The drum set looked virtually unused and the keyboard and guitars that lined the walls looked pristine, and there was a large free-standing mirror in one corner. Rock star vanity I guess. It didn’t look like a jam space for any rock band I could imagine, it was way too neat and organized for a bunch of 20ish guys, but then again, I had never seen them play, and had no realm of comparison, so it was a little out of my sphere of knowledge. I suppose there could have been neat-freak rock musicians… and the walls were definitely sound proofed from the looks of them, so it was possible, I guess.
“OK, so I think I’m going to have to insist we do this my way. I don’t want to do anything to hurt anyone, so I want control of what happens.” I knew I wouldn’t really be able to fully control anything since this was all uncharted territory, but I definitely know I knew more about what I could do than Andie did, and I wanted to protect her.
“No problem, how do we start?” There was an intense curiosity in her face that I had never seen before. Shoulda been a hint, right?
“Stand still right there. If anything hurts or doesn’t feel right, say it out loud and in your head. Hopefully one of them will get through and I’ll step off.” Her nod was all the agreement I was going to get I guess.
I set the fade in my head to what I remembered from the beach that night and walked forward. I could feel when our bodies met and stopped, releasing the fade. I could feel everything melding. Since I was prepared and waiting for it the feeling was definitely more pronounced. In the back of my mind I heard her, mild panic – “breathe!”, and I remembered that it had been up to me to take over breathing for her last time, and focused on taking in air.
“Thank you” gasped from the body…Holy shit this was way weird! It felt fabulous – hyper sensitive, hyper aware. It was at that moment I felt the first hint that something wasn’t right, a level of intrusion into my thoughts I didn’t understand. My first reaction was fierce, like a bear trap. “Back the fuck off”…I could hear it but it was definitely not out loud. “sorry – just exploring – didn’t mean to intrude…” Oh fuck this was weird.
I…we…turned toward the mirror. I don’t remember doing it, so I’m guessing it was Andie. And the view was interesting in its lack of interest. It was Andie. There was no hint of my presence, no outward appearances of what was happening at all. This was good news. It meant that we could go out in public with no one the wiser.
“OK, I’m going to step out. Don’t move.” And I reset the fade and walked forward, stepping away from the spot where we stood. The separation was the same as before, leaving me feeling slightly less – slightly empty.
“How did that feel to you?” it seemed like a logical question to determine if it left Andie feeling as odd as it did me.
“Freaking phenomenal! It’s like you are stretching all the sensitive areas of my body – I could almost orgasm when you do that!” Her face was flush and she had a huge smile on her face so I could only assume she was telling the truth.
“Wow, that was so not the answer I was expecting. And a little disappointing since that’s not how it feels to me…”
“How does it feel to you? Is it good? Does it hurt?” I could hear the concern in her voice…or was it curiosity?
“No, it doesn’t hurt, just makes me feel sort of empty and used up.”
“Well that’s not cool. I wonder if we feel the same things while we are joined or if they are different then too?”
“Good question, but I think I’m done for today. Let’s get together again soon with a plan in place about some things we can do together – if you don’t mind sharing your body with me – it doesn’t seem to do any damage except the breathing thing, and I’ll try to remember next time.”
“OK, how about we hit Magic Mountain next Friday? Adam and I were planning on going next weekend – we’re both roller coaster junkies and that seems like some pretty intense sensations we can share. We don’t have to tell Adam.”
“OK, sounds good, I’ll see you here next Friday then.”