I managed to get Leon on his own a few days later, as we passed into a region that was even more desolate than the wastes nearer the city. Where it had seemed like some of the flora was clinging tightly to any modicum of life beforehand, it was now very obvious that everything here was dead, and had been that way for some time.
The road we were walking was one that had previously been a massive highway. All around us were the husks of once great mechanical carts, which looked almost like steampunk trucks. The whole place was a graveyard of a civilisation that had been far more advanced than I initially thought.
Leon walked beside me, his big bulky frame clad in armour and clanking with every stride. He was very handsome in this character, which amused me. He’d obviously tried really hard to make his character look like some sort of paladin chad.
“How's it like in that big bull of a body you made for yourself?” I asked, looking up at him. God he was tall now.
“Doors suck,” he said with a wry grin. “I have to eat a lot, too. Armour costs more, and so do clothes and, well, everything else.”
“I can imagine,” I said, giving him a sympathetic once-over.
His dark hair had grown out a little, and was now braided back behind his head, making him look a bit like a viking or something. His darker eyes had gained a few worry lines, along with a much more mature cast.
“How are you doing with… you know, that,” he said, gesturing to my feminine body. He seemed to have a hard time looking at it, which I was pretty sure had to do with not wanting to ogle.
I smiled, and in spite of myself, I said, “You can look, you know. Just don’t stare.”
“I’ll hold you to that,” he said, giving me a sheepish look as he allowed his eyes to drink my curves in. My body was slim and athletic, except for my hips, but that probably made it better in his eyes.
“You uh, you’re liking it, though?” He asked, going red as he spoke. I stifled a giggle as he tried and failed to keep himself from getting flustered. “Because, you know… you and your, uh, girl. You can be loud, you know? I mean, and she, like… fully kissed you the other day.”
“Yes, Leon,” I told him, taking pity on the poor boy. “I’m starting to realise that this body was something like… wishful thinking, for me. I made my ideal self, or something nearabouts. I’d probably change a few things if I’d known, but other than that? Yeah, I’m very happy.”
“Well, for what it’s worth, I think it suits you,” he blushed, scratching awkwardly at his close-cropped beard. “You’re really hot.”
The last part was blurted, and obviously without any prior approval from his brain, if the widening shock in his eyes was anything to go by.
“Aren’t I?” I said, my heart feeling all light and bubbly from the compliment. I did a little spin as I walked.
Seeing that I wasn’t in the least upset with the compliment, he nodded and gave me a crooked smile. “It’s so strange trying to merge the old you that I was friends with, with this like… beautiful, badass chick. I think the hardest thing for my brain to wrap around is how much more you smile, you know? Whatever his name was, he was way more brooding and grumpy.”
“Whatever his name was?” I repeated, raising an eyebrow.
“You know,” Leon said, waving his hands around all nervous-like. “The old you. The name has slipped my mind. Uh…”
“No, no,” I interrupted quickly, lightly touching his arm. “Not remembering is very good. And the fact I smile more is probably because I’m happy. This is sort of like… this is the true me, that was hidden under all that emotional and mental weight.”
“I liked you before,” he said, glancing down at where my hand rested on his wrist. “And I like you now. Plus, I’ve changed too. I’m less of a dick, for example. Victoria got sick of me one time and yelled at me. Kind of tore me a new asshole, really. I was getting drunk on this manly manly body, then she was all like, you’re a fucking insufferable toxic cunt. Snapped me right out of it. She’s had to do that to a lot of us, actually.”
“Nice,” I laughed, drinking in the mental image. “I wish I’d seen that. I’m glad you’re chill now. But uh, hey, right back at you. I liked you before, and I like you now.”
“You still said no to joining our guild,” he pouted, which looked very funny on such a ruggedly handsome face.
“I’m not joining your dick guild,” I groaned, looking skywards in an effort to find patience. Only blue sky stared back.
“It’s not a dick guild!” he grumbled, punching me lightly in the shoulder.
I gave him an incredulous look. “Dude, it’s lots of cock, with like backwards sentence structure. Coclot Pathfinder’s Guild. Come on man, it’s right there.”
“Well, maybe we have lots of good cock, huh?” he asked. “Maybe it’s called that because we’ve just got an overabundance of really high quality dicks in our ranks.”
“That still doesn’t convince me, dude,” I grinned, shaking my head in confused wonder at the direction this conversation had taken. “I’m a lesbian, after all.”
“I mean, I’m pretty sure we have one or two girls with dicks in our ranks,” he said, chewing on a strand of his beard thoughtfully. “At least, I noticed them packing some serious junk when I was checking them out.”
That pulled me up short. “O-oh… did they now?”
“A-ha!” he grinned, wrapping a bulky arm around my thin shoulders. “You’re interested in the organic strap ons, huh?”
I felt my face heating up, but I refused to give in to the embarrassment. “Why are you so comfortable talking about dicks, but not about how hot my body is?”
“Because you’re my friend and I respect you,” he told me, shaking me by my shoulder affectionately. “I’ve personally been working up the courage to ask one of the girls out. I don’t know if that’s weird, though, you know?”
“Um… why?” I asked, looking up into his twinkling dark eyes to make sure he was saying what I thought he was saying.
“Well, I…” aha, there was the bashful boy. I knew this sex-comfortable conversation would get blushy on his end again soon.
I raised an eyebrow. “You what?”
“Okay, so…” he began, his voice dropping to a whisper. “This culture, right, they have their dumb toxic masculinity bs, but they’ve also always thought of women as a lot more than most earth cultures. It’s not perfect, but there’s like… a few different types of woman, you know? The housewife type is just what you’d expect from a medieval society. But they also have warrior women and shit.”
“Okay,” I said, allowing him to continue. This was such a strange conversation.
“Well, that’s meant that it’s not such a… it’s not… ugh, I suck at explaining things, Victoria said it better,” he sighed, scrunching his brow up in thought. “You know how back on earth, putting a dick or a finger inside someone is like, a dominant thing, right? That’s what people think. The greeks and stuff too, in the old days, they were like, oh yeah, if you take a dick, you’re a beta, or whatever word they used. If you were giving the dick, though, it was seen as like, yeah I’m a manly man!”
I nodded, aware of what he was talking about.
“So yeah, that isn’t a thing here, because strong women are a thing, and they uh, you know, death by snu-snu smaller dudes,” he said, chuckling at his own reference. “So it’s not such a beta male thing to take a dick in this world, and I sort of want to try it. Apparently the orgasm you get from it is super crazy, way different to dick orgasms. Except I’m not into dudes, right? So I got to find a girl who is willing to peg me, with or without an organic strap on.”
I took a long, slow, deep, calming, mind-blown breath as I processed what he’d just rambled at me. Wow. Leon, manly man extraordinaire, wanted to be pegged. I could see why, from my point of view, but… I wasn’t aware he was that comfortable in his sexuality. He’d always seemed like the type of dude who… I mean, he’d used the term beta unironically.
“You’re being really quiet and it’s making me nervous,” he said, breaking me out of my ever-branching thoughts.
“I mean, yeah,” I said, coughing. “That sounds fun. I haven’t personally had anyone with a dick but… I mean, Bassi has a tongue that may as well be one. I’m sure she’d love to use a strap on too. I can see the appeal. It’s just surprising more than anything else.”
“Not judging me?” he asked, looking a little vulnerable.
“So long as you treat those girls as real people and not just sex objects, you can want whatever,” I shrugged, then gave him a sly grin. “I am judging you for using the term beta male. That’s weird.”
His anxiety melted under my gentle ribbing. “It’s not weird. You’re weird.”
“It is definitely weird, dude,” I said, amusement curling my lips.
“Is not,” he shot back with mock irritation.
Before I could reply in kind, a burst of air whipped around us, and Bassi appeared, hair flying as she came to a halt. “Time to look sharp, people. We’re coming up on an old city, and I don’t think we’re going to be able to go around it.”
Leon’s arm flew off my shoulders almost as fast as Bassi had arrived. The boy knew who I belonged to, that was for sure.
“What’s the situation?” I asked, rolling my shoulders in anticipation.
“The land has changed since I came this way last,” my lover said seriously. “There is a chasm that I cannot see the bottom of. It splits the city in half, but someone has constructed a bridge across it there. I have not been able to find another crossing point.”
“Enemies?” I asked, flexing my fingers and feeling the claws there, waiting just on the other side of the veil. Waiting for a target to sink into.
Bassi’s smile was grim. “Many.”