Second installment of (working title) Partners in Magic:

I smiled into the crook of my elbow. Andromeda was tracing mindless circles on my back and my skin was tingling everywhere she touched. The intensity of the feeling had dimmed somewhat from our first encounter, but I liked it. I hoped it never went away. I took a deep inhale and let it out with a small sound of contentment. I could practically feel her smile.

Unexpectedly, she gave my ass a tight squeeze and rolled off the bed to thud onto the floor. I pushed myself up and saw her doing pushups with perfect form.

“You’re one of those, huh?” I asked.

“You don’t work out?” she asked.

“I do, but not right after sex.” I rolled myself into a blanket burrito and closed my eyes. I didn’t want to fall back asleep, well, part of me did, but I wanted to soak it all in. Andromeda’s place smelled nice and while it was small, it was a cozy-small. I imagined she paid the same in rent as I did to be this close to the center of town despite the apartment’s size, but she made good use of the space.

She finished her innumerable pushups and started on squats. I cracked open an eye to watch, appreciating what I saw.

She grinned and winked at me.

“So what’s your magic?” I asked.

“What do you mean?”

I blinked at the question. “I mean… what’s your magic?” I let out a breath of a laugh. “I’m a Channel; are you a Focus, then?”

Andromeda frowned at me. “Hang on.” She closed her eyes and looked to be counting. Finished with her squats, she put her hands on her bare hips, cocked on to the side, and said, “How are you a Channel?”

“The normal way, I guess?” I tightened my hold on the blanket around me.

Andromeda looked down and away and then back at me. “You can’t be.”

“Why not?”

“I’m a Channel.”

We blinked at one another for a moment before she jumped to catch the pullup bar in her doorway. I admired the view and tried not to think about the insanity of what she just said.

“Are… you sure?” I finally asked.

She let out a bark of laughter, faltering mid pullup until she got back under control and finished her set. “I can show you my paperwork if you want.”

“I mean, I believe you.” I wormed my way upward, unwilling to escape my burrito, but wanting to sit upright for the conversation. “I just don’t… believe it.”

“I’ve never heard of two Channels bonding,” she said.

“Yeah, same.”

“Do you like waffles?”

“That is the stupidest question I have ever heard. Do you have fruit?”

She laughed again. I liked the sound and decided to make her do it more. I couldn’t see her from where she was doing sit ups except the top of her head when she rhythmically surfaced.

“Are you planning to stay in there all day?” she asked, standing and breathing hard. I liked it when she did that, too.

I doubled-down on my blanket tension and glared at her. “You can join me if you want.”

“I can’t. I’m wired.” She jumped lightly a couple of times by way of demonstration. “What do you do to work out?” she asked with professional curiosity.

“Mostly cardio.”

She looked disgusted.

“And sometimes I seduce beautiful women and convince them to take me into their homes so I can Single White Female them.”

Andromeda cocked an eyebrow at me. “You’re much too tall to fit any of my pants.”

“I hear capris are coming back into style.”

“How are you with research?”

I groaned and buried my head inside my layers of blanket.

She laughed. “I’ll make breakfast if you start searching for bonding anomalies.”

“Does that involve getting out of bed?”

“I’d be impressed if it didn’t.”

I threw myself face-down in exasperation, unrolling as I went until I was standing, pouting, still groaning. I zombie-walked toward her and she laced her fingers through mine, pulling them down to bring my face to hers. The kiss was soft and sweet and tender and I melted into it.

“Tell me,” she whispered into my ear.

“Anything,” I whispered back.

“Do you like bacon or sausage?” She bit my earlobe.

“I’m up for whatever,” I answered, grabbing her and pulling her close against me. I rested my chin on her head and she let out a sigh against my chest.

“This is nice,” she said.

With a push and spin of her shoulders, I sent her to the kitchen. “Food, wench!” I demanded, slapping her ass.

She laughed and I grinned, going for her small desk and computer setup.

Andromeda scurried over to type her password so I could access the thing and I started my search. There was plenty of information about bonding since so many studies had been performed by paired and unpaired groups throughout the centuries. The problem was, my cursory searches wasn’t finding anything on two Channels making a bond.

“It’s not like I’m an expert here,” I pointed out. “My ‘researching’ is limited to how many different ways I can phrase my question and whatever the search engine thinks I want to know. We’re going to have to ask a real someone.”

Andromeda made a dissatisfied sound. I went to the kitchen and leaned on the counter. “What’s the problem?”

She shrugged. “I just… don’t want to necessarily give away anything just yet.”

“What does that mean?”

“I mean…” she opened the waffle-maker and served it onto a plate already full of bacon and scrambled eggs. I took the plate to her little table served myself a glass of milk. “I mean I don’t want anyone making decisions about us before we do.”

“Suspicious little beastie, aren’t you?” I asked.

She shrugged again. “Let’s not pretend more than one government or scientist with questionable morals wouldn’t be interested in the idea of two bonded Channels.”

I ate some eggs and glanced surreptitiously for the salt. “I mean, not as interested as they would be if we still only come with one Battery, right? Two Batteries, maybe, but would we be double-powerful in that case?”

“Right. Still, let’s keep it theoretical for now.”

“Sure,” I agreed.

“Do you know anyone we should start with?”

I gestured to the computer. “I saw a couple of names repeated. We can email them.”

“Do you have any jobs lined up?”

“Nothing today. I have a bouncing gig at a new club for their soft opening this weekend, though.”

“Sounds fun.”

“Yeah, I’m looking forward to standing around in a doorway and glaring at kids and drunks for eight hours. You?”

“I have a few things here and there,” she said vaguely. “Nothing I can’t work around.”

I felt the evasion for what it was, but didn’t call her out. Despite the connection we had, we’d made, I didn’t really know Andromeda yet. Honestly, I didn’t even know if what we had was a one-night-stand scenario or the start of a relationship. We were bonded, sure, but I knew plenty of Bonds who didn’t get along. I thought of a few of my siblings and how they were constantly complaining about their Channels or Batteries or Foci for various reasons.

I looked at Andromeda. She was glaring at her waffle as she cut into it with the side of a fork, all of her attention pinpointed there as though nothing else existed. An errant curl had slipped out of her bun and she stopped with the waffle to push it behind an ear before starting again.

When she had the bite in her mouth, she looked at me, surprised to see me staring. “What?” she asked around her waffle and through her fingers, embarrassed.

I shook my head. “Nothing. I just think you’re cute.”

She smiled sheepishly and turned her attention back to breakfast. “I know a couple of people at the local college,” she said after a moment. “I’ll reach out and see if they know anyone around here we can ask if that internet scholar you mentioned doesn’t get back to us.”

“More irons in the fire,” I agreed, leaning back in my chair. “I’ll get out of your hair and head to my place; reach out from there.”

She looked up. “Sure. Maybe I can come by tonight. We can watch a movie. Start a movie, anyway.”

I grinned. “I like the way you think.”

April 07, 2021

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