The Adventure of Gift-Giving

It was going to be a perfect present. Even better than the portrait I commissioned from Seb last year, which trust me, wasn’t easy. Quint loved that thing from the moment I gave it to him, and he loves it more now, I think, because he’s grown to love Seb. But I thought of a way to top it eventually. I had to. It’s not every day that your husband turns fifty. I was so proud of my idea.

Then Quint ruined it.

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Back to School, Ring the Bell – Ch. 17

Bradley

I hopped up, turning away from Mohyeldin to brush the tears out of my eyes. Behind me, Seb said, “Un moment, Z.”

Clearing my throat as I faced them again, I said, “No, now’s fine. Everyone’s waiting to watch your presentation, Seb.”

“Don’t say that,” Mohyeldin said, sounding amused but looking concerned, the way that used to get me spitting mad. I’ve learned to accept it now, so I let him see in my expression that I was okay. He shook his head and smiled. “You’ll undo all my good work making him relaxed.”

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Back to School, Ring the Bell – Ch. 16

Seb

The house was painted a moss green, pale against the forest foliage surrounding it like a nest around an egg. Theo, beside me, took a deep breath. I glanced over. He was surveying it with a grim expression. Quint put his arm around his husband’s hips and pulled him closer, kissing his temple while Zain turned his head to track a noise through the trees. “That’ll be Cecilia with the keys,” Zain said.

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Back to School, Ring the Bell – Ch. 15

Zain

I left Seb strangling the plush unicorn and edged along the row of people to the aisle between the benches. By then, Cameron had spotted me. She smiled and sped up. Focusing on Platt, I tried to read his expression. About the same as when he’d left, I thought. All that time, and they’d made no progress?

“Hey,” I said. “Where’s Myrick?”

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S. trifasciata (or The Cure for a Black Thumb)

Note: This takes place about a month after the conclusion of Back to School, Ring the Bell, but contains no spoilers.


Seb wiggled to get out of my arms. Assuming he was embarrassed by being held for so long on the sidewalk, with other mids passing us by to start their own liberty, I hugged him tighter. I don’t like him worrying about what people think of us. Plus, it usually makes him squirm against me more, which is not unpleasant.

He huffed. “Z, I just need to get your gift from the car.”

“Gift?” I let go immediately. “What’d you bring me?”

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Back to School, Ring the Bell – Ch. 14

Zain

Friday simultaneously flew and crawled by. Every minute of it was filled with schoolwork, thanks to my classes and assignments. I didn’t want to have to crack a textbook all weekend, so I had to finish a couple of things early and make enough progress on others to be able not to worry about them. No Skype call took place that night, since Seb, Quint, and Theo were in the car on their way down already. I did call Seb on the phone just to hear his voice, though.

I also didn’t see Platt except for our PoliSci class and in the few minutes before meal formations. I was glad. A secretive smile kept coming over my face, so often that JJ asked, “Why do you look like the cat who got the cream?” I didn’t want the kid to be suspicious. His reply to my emailed invite—the last piece of the puzzle—was an unwitting, Sure, see you tomorrow.

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Back to School, Ring the Bell – Ch. 13

Zain

I hung up with Seb and Quint just as JJ was coming through the door from the Spectrum meeting. He climbed onto his rack with a long, drawn-out moan. “My life has gotten way too interesting since I met you,” he said. “Myrick wanted to go after Platypus the moment you left. I almost had to physically block him while I convinced him to give the kid some space. I didn’t see exactly what happened between you three, but it seemed like it wasn’t good.”

Linking my hands together on top of my head, I considered that. Five minutes earlier, I would’ve agreed. Now, with Seb’s reassurance Platt was at least a little open to the idea of polyamory, I’d revised my opinion. “I think it was a step in the right direction,” I said.

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