Whoever invented calculus could suck a fat one.
That was James's humble opinion, anyway. He could be hanging out with his friends, or advancing up the ladder in League of Lolibabas, or doing any number of other, more enjoyable things right now. But no- instead he was stuck in the campus library, poring over a textbook that was so boring as to put him to sleep just so he could pass one of his classes.
He had been here long enough to watch the sunset through the massive bay window of the library, and yet it felt like he had made little in the way of progress. Integrals, derivatives, limits… none of it was actually making its way into his head.
If only to provide some kind of stimulation to his numbed mind, James tore his eyes from the dull pages of the textbook below him and instead glanced at his surroundings. The library was relatively empty- most of the other students didn't stick around once it got dark unless they had to. A flock of black harpies chittered and gossipped at another table, the librarian giving them nasty looks anytime they got particularly loud. Besides them, there wasn't much to look at- a gremlin and her husband seemingly designing some kind of contraption, and a lone, fluffy creature sitting a few tables away from him.
She drew his attention by virtue of being the least animated person in the room. Hunched over her books in much the same way he had been, it was initially difficult for James to identify just what she was. The brown and white-streaked fur covering her made him suspect he was looking at a kobold, but the way she magically turned the pages of her book and telepathically scribbled notes with a fancy-looking pen slowly clued him in.
An owl harpy. No, an owl mage , they were called. Her 'fur' was actually a morass of downy feathers. That was why she used telepathy, he figured- her species didn't have claws or hands. She flipped the pages back and forth, presumably taking notes about the finer points of...whatever subject she was studying. Judging by how quickly her pen scratched out writing in her notebook, it seemed like she was making more headway in her studies than he was in his.
As much as James knew that he should sit down and keep studying, the fluffy-looking owl lady kept his attention. He couldn't say just what it was- maybe how fluffy she was, or her laser-focus on her work, or something he didn't even recognize- but his eyes refused to find their way off of the owl lady. She was too engrossed in her book to notice him staring, not looking up even as he stood and stretched his limbs.
His curiosity got the better of him. Surely it wouldn't hurt to take a little peek at what she was working on…
His legs, finally allowed to move for the first time in hours, had him meandering over in her direction. James didn't make a beeline straight for her, instead pretending to be interested in the multitude of bookshelves between him and her. Still, he probably could've stomped right up to her and she wouldn't have noticed. It seemed like she was completely engrossed in the subject material.
He feigned interest in a thick, dust-covered book of world history for a few moments while the owl mage furiously scribbled down the conclusion to a page in her notebook. The fact she could write so quickly using neither hands nor claws was enthralling; she barely even looked at her notes as the pen flew across the paper. With as much subtlety as he could muster, James slipped the history textbook back on the shelf and continued to make his way towards her.
Her back was to him now. As James drew nearer he began to make out the writing on her textbook and notes- actually, some of what was in her notebook looked familiar. The symbols and equations jumped out at him as some of the same ones he'd been puzzling over for the past few hours, even if the owl's notes were a hell of a lot clearer and more organized than the chickenscratch he put in his own notebook. She was studying calculus, just like him.
He was suddenly struck with the question of just why he had snuck up to this girl in the first place. He had kind of just...done it, his brain subtly directing him away from the boredom of his own studying and towards something new. Now that he was here, though, and he could see that they were taking notes on the same subject, James wondered if he couldn't try and take advantage of the fact that she seemed to know her stuff. All he had to do was make sure he didn't look like a creep.
"Umm, excuse me?"
Despite how quiet James had kept his voice, the owl still jumped a little in her seat. Not a good start.
"Sorry! Sorry, didn't mean to startle you," he said as she turned around to face him. He hadn't got a good look at her face when looking at her from afar; now that she was right in front of him, he found himself surprised by her eyes of all things. It wasn't that they were unnaturally large or anything so strange, but they were so wide. Had he startled her that much?
It took a moment for him to find his voice again. "I, uhh, I saw that you're studying calculus," he said. She still stared at him like her eyes were being held open. "I am too. I was wondering if you wanted to…to..."
James trailed off. He had practically lost himself in her eyes; her amber irises seemed to contract and expand as he watched her. He felt calmer. More relaxed. More… aroused, even. God, he could spend a lifetime looking into those eyes. Just let him look a little longer…
She blinked, and her hold over him dissipated almost immediately. It dawned on him that he should finish his sentence, although admittedly he wasn't entirely sure how long he had been staring into her eyes.
"...uh, study. With me. Would you like to study with me?"
She kept staring. James could feel himself getting sucked in again- the world outside her eyes becoming obscure and irrelevant, his own eyes going tunnel-vision on the beautiful creature in front of him.
"Okay," she said quietly, blinking once again. James closed his eyes and took a breath.
"Good. Cool. I'll, uh, just bring my stuff over, if that's okay."
She gave the tiniest of nods. James turned and headed back over to the table he'd been at previously.
Don't look into her eyes, he told himself. He had never heard of owl mages having hypno-eyes, but compared to some other mamonos' abilities and proclivities, that was relatively tame.
He scooped up his books and backpack and made his way back to the overly fluffy harpy. After pulling a chair up a few feet from her and sitting down, he started talking again.
"I'm James, by the way. That's me. My name, I mean."
She was, fortunately, looking down at her textbook now instead of sending him into another trance with her eyes. She rapidly flipped backwards through the pages of her textbook.
"My name is Tela."
Her words came quickly and quietly, and James couldn't help but worry that she felt like he was forcing her into this. That, or maybe she was just uncomfortable in general. Hopefully that wasn't the case.
"I really appreciate, uh, this. Studying with me. Thanks."
"Soooo… do you know how to do derivatives?" He asked lamely.
Tela nodded again.
"Oh. Well, no point going over what you already know. How about-"
Tela shook her head this time, softly saying a few words as well.
"It's okay. Do you need help?"
Her voice was nice. Not nearly as hypnotizing as her eyes, of course, but the way she squeaked out each syllable was pleasing.
"Well, I guess I…" he started, before slumping his shoulders in embarrassment. "Yeah."
He pulled his notebook up and scooted a little closer to Tela. She leaned over to a look at his notes, and in the process a few errant feathers brushed against the bare skin of his forearm.
"Sorry," Tela whispered. She still didn't look at him, thankfully. It seemed that both of them had learned their lesson from what happened earlier.
"It's fine," he mumbled back.
Tela's staring at his notes was making him a little self-conscious. Compared to the owl mage's telepathic and precise handwriting, his own scrawlings left something to be desired. Sometimes he could hardly even read his own notes.
She flipped his notebook to a page where he had been working on a practice equation.
"Uh, yeah, I was kind of stuck on this one. I wasn't really sure where to go from here," he said, gesturing with his pen to a line of mathematical operations.
To his surprise, James suddenly felt the pen tugging gently against his hand. He looked down to see it slide from his grip and down to the paper before it started to write a series of neat, orderly numbers of its own. She had taken the thing from his hand with her telepathy. The corners of James's mouth turned upwards slightly.
"You were supposed to bring the dividend down, not keep it up here," Tela said, the pen pointing to different parts of his notes.
"Oh, because that's the- ah. I get it."
"Yes. Next, you have to take the whole derivative and…"
Their little study session continued on for longer than James had anticipated. The black harpies and gremlin had cleared out, leaving the two of them alone and hunched over the table. Still, he couldn't say that studying with Tela wasn't helpful; he felt like he had learned more in an hour or two spent with her than he had in the actual lecture hall so far.
To his credit, there were also some topics that he had helped her with as well. Not much, really, but enough to make things feel more like a collaborative effort than Tela just teaching him.
"Phew. I think you should take the place of the professor. You seem to have most of this stuff down pat."
She gave a minute shrug and closed her eyes for a moment. It had become apparent that her hypno-eyes couldn't really be turned off; she intentionally avoided eye contact after a few repeats of their first conversation.
He glanced up at the large analogue clock on the wall. Half past nine. It seemed that time really had gotten away from him. He had to be back at the dorm by ten for SD&D, but for whatever reason, the thought of not seeing Tela again upset him. He appreciated the calculus help, definitely, but he wanted to spend more time with her in general. Even though she was pretty quiet, her demeanor and soft voice put him at ease.
"Is something wrong?"
James looked up to find the object of his thoughts staring at him. He made the mistake of holding eye contact for a second before remembering to avert his gaze.
"Oh, it's just... I should get going soon. Have to do stuff."
She cocked her head at him. He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye, still mindful of being hypnotized again.
"Can I ask what? Out of curiosity."
Oh, boy. Hopefully she wasn't the type to look down on tabletop games.
"Uh, me and my friends have a Sex Dungeons and Dragons game going. I have to get back by ten."
Somehow, Tela's eyes managed to get a little wider.
"Uh, yeah. It's me, my roommates, and their girlfriends. Or wives, I guess."
He could see her blinking some more. For a moment, he made eye contact.
"Do you think I could…"
When it was clear she wasn't about to finish, James spoke in her place.
"You want to tag along?"
"Not to actually play! Unless you think that would be okay," she said quickly. Tela seemed a lot more nervous than when he had first approached her.
Her request to join in on their game might have been a bit forward, but James couldn't really find a reason to deny her. He'd just been thinking about how he wanted to see her some more, after all. He didn't even have the excuse of his roommates not wanting another player; they were open in their desire for one last person to round off the game, and their girlfriends were always teasing him about when he was going to bring his own plus-one.
"Well, that sounds fine. We’ve kind of been looking for one last person anyway."
"You...you're sure? You can fit one more?"
"Yeah! You want to get going?"
She nodded vigorously and telepathically shoved her books into the bookbag below her. It zipped shut seemingly on its own a second later. James was becoming a little jealous of her abilities; he had to stow his things away with his own two hands, Tela watching him all the while. While he was busy she stood up and actually stretched her wings for the first time since he'd sat down with her.
"Ready to go?" James asked once he was packed. His owl companion nodded again, eager to get going. He obliged her, and they set out for the library exit.
"You, uhh, seem pretty into SD&D. Have you ever played it before?"
"No. I watched a group play it online, but never myself."
"Oh, so you already know how to play and everything. All we have to do is get your character set up."
"I already have a character, too."
Damn. James felt a little bad; it sounded like this girl had been looking to get into this for a while. A warm, fuzzy feeling of pride welled up in his chest at being able to satisfy her wishes.
They spent the remainder of their short walk making small talk about the game they were soon to be playing- namely the exact setting, and the people they'd be playing with. It dawned on James that he was now bringing his own female companion to a game already composed of two married pairs. Hopefully any teasing from the others wouldn't freak out Tela.
The sound of raised voices and laughter came from outside the door to the room as they approached. It wasn't quite ten yet, but the rest of them were probably goofing off before James got back and the session started.
"So, uh," he started quietly before he made to enter the room, "if these guys get too rowdy, or they start messing with you, don't take it personally. They just like screwing around. They don't really want to make anyone upset."
Tela blinked at him a few times, then nodded wordlessly. She really didn't seem to like speaking when a simple gesture could suffice. Well, that was fine.
He opened the door, Tela following a few steps behind him.
"Hey, there he is! About damn time."
"Ugh, you actually came? I was hoping you'd be a no-show."
"Be nice, Evala," Greg hissed, lightly batting the arm of his gazer wife. James had learned pretty quickly that Evala's ill-mannered attitude was, for the most part, only surface deep. She was a gazer, after all.
"Hey, guys. I know we've been looking for one more for the game, soooo…"
He moved through the doorway to make space for Tela. It was a few seconds before she shuffled awkwardly into the threshold, her wings clutched tight against her body and face half-hidden by the feathers around her chest and neck. Her eyes passed over each person present, pausing on James for a second before returning to the table in the center of the room and the four people sitting around it.
"Hello," she said in the same quiet voice she'd used in the library, "I'm Tela."
"Well hello there, Tela," said the 'centerpiece' of their little group. Kolithilia was the most prominent among them even discounting her immense wingspan; the wyvern was large enough for her husband to not just sit on her lap, but to recline backwards as well. In fact that was just what he was doing now, using her breasts as pillows and kicking his feet up on her thigh.
"Wait a minute," Evala said, sniffing the air, "it doesn't smell like you actually got some pussy, James. Did you just drag some poor girl off the quad and force her to play board games with you?"
"It's a tabletop RPG, not a board game," corrected Quincy while he lounged between his wyvern wife's tits. The gazer shot him a look.
"No, Evala, I did not. We met at the library while we were both studying calculus, and apparently she's been looking for a game to join," James said, pulling up an extra chair and beckoning Tela into the room. She tiptoed forward, still obviously apprehensive.
"Then I think I speak for all of us-" Kolithilia looked pointedly at the perpetually bitchy gazer as she spoke, "-when I say that I'm glad you're here, Tela."
"Thank you," said the owl mage, taking the seat James had proffered for her. "I brought my own character sheet. Just let me know if anything has to be changed."
Greg smiled at her from behind his dungeon master's screen. At least most of the group was trying to be welcoming. "Oooh, convenient! That should make things easier," he said. Tela unzipped her backpack and plucked a few pages out before telepathically floating them over. The display of magic adeptness raised a few eyebrows.
"That's pretty neat."
"I was kind of wondering how that worked, what with the whole 'no hands' thing," Quincy remarked.
"Please, that's not impressive. Telepathy is child's play. Watch," Evala said arrogantly, holding a hand out towards one of the little Zipangunese anime figures that Greg, the shameless weeb, kept on his desk. The model skittered around on the wood for a moment before shooting off towards Evala. It bounced off of her arm and unceremoniously dropped to the carpet.
"'Child's play', alright."
"I think you might need a little more practice, cutie," Greg said in a half-mocking, half-loving voice as he rubbed his wife's shoulder. Despite how rude her words could be, James suspected that Evala's little gaffe was intentional- her own way to break the ice. He swore he could see the corners of a little smile behind the feathers of Tela's collar, so if that was the case, it seemed to be working.
"Alright, alright. Greg, you can work one more character into this session, right?" James asked.
"Yeah, shouldn't be a problem," the man in question said. He was staring down at Tela's character sheet while absentmindedly sucking some gazer goop off of his fingers. He did that, sometimes. James hadn't found the courage to ask him what it tasted like yet.
"Okay. I think we're ready to get this show on the road," their wise dungeon master declared, setting aside the character sheet. "Tela, did James tell your about the campaign we're doing or anything?"
"A little. I could use a short introduction."
"Alright. You all are a party of adventurers who have been sent on a grand quest to defeat High Dominatrix Selzaraphinia in her Palace of Unending Bondage. So far, you have defeated the band of rape-bandits in the Moaning Forest, burned down half of the city of Estrusia for no fucking reason-"
"Still salty about that one, huh, Greg?"
Greg closed his eyes for a moment before continuing. "...conquered the succubus twins ruling the Orgasman mountains, and are currently a few miles from the border of the High Dominatrix's queendom. That's the cliff notes so far," Greg said, looking at Tela. The owl mage nodded in comprehension.
"You're caught up, then. Here's where we left off last session. The road you are following winds through the corrupted forest surrounding the Dominatrix's territory. The twisted branches hang low over the path, seeming to swallow the sunlight…"
"What do you mean I'm 'stunned'? It was one damn hit!"
"From a club the size of a cow. You're lucky it didn't turn you into a smear on the wall," Greg said matter-of-factly.
The party had found something of a problem- a hulking, oni-shaped problem. They had run into one of their main antagonist's lieutenants, and were currently in a pitched and, at the moment, losing battle against her. No-one was completely out of commission yet, but it was starting to look like Greg might've tuned the fight to be a little above their abilities.
"Alright, uhh… I'm gonna roll for perception," James said, picking up one of the 20-sided dice and rolling the icosahedron (that was what Tela had said it was called, if he remembered right). The die came to rest with an embossed 16 facing upwards.
"Okay, what do I see?"
"There's a few scattered arrows and ballista bolts around you, that scaffolding I mentioned earlier, and an assortment of flammable oil containers in a cart nearby."
"Oh boy, flammable oil," Evala started, her tone already thick with sarcasm, "I bet that would be real useful if we had literally any source of fire between the five of us. Anything at all. Even just a single matchstick."
"Technically matches were invented around the time of the industrial revolution, so it wouldn't make much sense to have them in a medieval fantasy setting," Quincy interjected as he munched on some chips. Evala rolled her eyes.
"Do you have to be such a fucking pedant?"
Quincy grinned smugly back at her from his comfy position on the chair that was his wife.
"Okay. I think my only real option here is to lob a few spells at the oni," James said. He threw a few more dice around in the hopes of doing any damage at all to their enemy, but it was for naught; her enchanted armor absored almost any magic he lobbed her way.
"No damage. Womp womp. Didn't even scratch the armor," Greg said. James was starting to understand he and Evala could tolerate each other- they were both utterly exasperating. "Tela, your turn."
Tela sat still for a few seconds, clearly contemplating her next move. She had livened up a little over the session so far, though she was still predictably a little quiet. To James's eyes it seemed like she was enjoying herself, at least.
"That scaffolding," she said, head swivelling to look at their dungeon master, "how sturdy is it?"
He shrugged. "Sturdy enough. Made out of logs and stuck in the ground pretty deep."
"I want to climb it."
"I'd say roll for agility, but your character could probably climb it with their eyes closed. You're on top of the scaffolding now. What do you do?"
Tela looked at one of the papers in front of her before speaking.
"I still have that rope from a while ago. I take that out."
Where was she going with this? The owl turned to look at him. James just barely broke eye contact in time to not make a hypnotized fool of himself in front of everyone else. It had become apparent that the magic effect of her eyes didn't work on anyone else present- probably because they were all happily married.
"James, you know Mass Manipulation, right?"
He looked down at his list of spells.
"Uh, yep. Though her armor's gonna eat up any more spells I throw at her."
"I know. Greg, I want to throw the rope at the oni. Around her neck."
"Uh, okay. That's gonna be a tough one," he said, still unsure what she was going for. James was starting to understand, though. "Difficulty of...say, fifteen."
The dice rolled, and the digits that came up were more than enough.
"Alright. Whoosh, rope flies through the air, and you lasso her ass. She doesn't look too perturbed," Greg declared.
"I politely ask that James's character cast Mass Manipulation to make me heavier."
James nodded in assent. It was a pretty easy spell to cast, and he couldn't think of any other use for it given the oni's armor.
More dice. A successful spell cast.
"Just as the spell takes effect, I jump off the other end of the scaffolding while holding onto the rope," Tela said.
Greg finally seemed to understand what she was going for. His eyes went wide enough to give the owl a run for her money.
"You're trying to hang her?!?"
Kolithilia laughed heartily, the movement almost knocking her husband off of her lap. She grabbed him at the last second and gave him an apologetic headpat.
"Hehe. Brutal. I like how you think, Tela," she said. Greg looked distraught, frantically trying to come up with a reason why Tela's idea wouldn't work.
"The- the rope, there's no way it could support the weight of an oni in full armor," he said desperately. Evala tutted at him.
"It's enchanted rope, dummy. Doesn't break. Remember? You thought that drake from earlier should drop enchanted rope for...some reason."
Greg's mouth opened and closed in silence as the rest of the table laughed and jeered at outsmarting their dungeon master. Quincy even mimed the motion of hauling the oni upwards with the rope, followed by some rather disturbing choking noises.
"Face it- your little oni boss fight? No match for this girl right here," James said, pointing at the owl mage smiling timidly next to him.
Finally realizing he was beat, Greg slumped in his chair and sighed. "That was a fight you were supposed to lose. You were going to all be captured, and you'd have to escape from the...ughhh. And hanging, of all things? That's grisly."
"Bah. Just say it doesn't kill her. She wakes up tomorrow morning with a killer headache and a desire to never fuck with us again. Now," Evala said, leaning in towards her husband, "let's talk loot. "
"Ah, actually, I think we're about ready to call it quits for tonight. It's getting a little late," Quincy said, stretching his arms as his wife tenderly ran her talons through his hair.
"Oh, c'mon! It's only…" Evala glanced up at the clock on the wall. "Oh shit, it's two in the morning."
James had to admit that it was getting pretty hard to keep his eyes open. Even Tela's eyes were half-lidded now; for whatever reason, the sight sent a shiver down his spine. He wondered if she could still hypnotize him when her eyes weren't fully open. Maybe it was just his tired brain thinking strange things, but part of him wished she would turn to face him and force him to maintain eye contact. And then they'd spend an hour just falling deeper into each other's eyes, getting closer and closer, until…
Woah. Yeah, it might be time to go bed.
The group stood and stretched their legs, packing up the various papers, dice, and whatever else for the next time. Tela, James, Quincy, and Kolithilia filed out a few minutes later after bidding goodnight to Greg and Evala. Quincy and his wyvern wife retired to his own room across the hall, leaving James and his new companion alone together.
He had no qualms about what was going to happen to the other two pairs now. It was late, but that didn't preclude them from making their respective beds rock before they properly turned in. Quincy was no doubt about to be swallowed up by his wife's wings and...other parts, while Greg and his gazer wife were probably going to hate-fuck. Well, not hate- fuck. Maybe… 'lovingly detest-fuck'.
Either way, the unspoken implication was obvious to both of them. The other four were getting it on, while the two of them stood feet away from James's room and his as-of-yet unchristened bed.
Both of them glanced at his door but remained silent for some time. Eventually, it was Tela that spoke first.
"Thank you," she said, eyes on the floor, "I had a lot of fun tonight. Do you think I could… keep coming?"
"Of course. I think we all really liked your company. Even Evala," James replied. This time, he could clearly see the smile of the owl mage's face.
They drifted into another bout of silence. He wanted to invite her into his room- he had come to realize that, at least- but the words died in his throat. What if Tela didn't want to come in? She already said that she wanted to keep coming for their game sessions. He...he could just keep doing that for the time being. Right? No need to rush things.
But god, how he wanted to rush things.
"Umm, g-goodnight," Tela said suddenly.
Oh, shit. Had he made things too awkward by not saying anything? Damnit! Well, okay, she was going to come back. There was that, at least.
"Uh, goodnight," James said. They stood there for a while longer, neither one moving, before Tela turned around and shuffled back out of his dorm.
The next time. The next time she came over, he would do it. Definitely.
The next time came a week later.
As expected, Tela showed up to their next session a week later. She was still a little nervous- she still shuffled into the room hesitantly like she had the first night- but it was clear that some of her apprehension had left her. The six of them settled into their normal routine of bickering and hollering quickly enough.
The party was hacking and slashing their way through a group of p'orc enforcers when Evala had decided to lean towards James, and by extension Tela, to whisper to the two of them.
"Hey, you two," she said, a mocking smile on her face. James got a nice view of her shark-like teeth. Why did gazers need those, anyway?
"Hey, Evala," he responded. He tried to keep his voice as level as possible, but when a gazer started whispering to you, it was never about anything good.
"Sooo… You've known each other for a while now."
"It's been a week."
"Feh. A week is long enough for… certain things to take place."
Ugh. There it is.
"I don't have any idea what you're talking about," James lied. Tela was staring down at the table with red cheeks. The poor girl looked for all the world like she wanted to disappear into her feathers and never come out.
"I think you do, Jamie-boy. What I want to know," Evala continued, undaunted. A few of her eye stalks stretched out to stare at him, "is why it hasn't happened yet."
"Respectfully, Evala, what I want to know is why you refuse to mind your own business."
"Are you just scared? Or maybe you're having some problems...down there," she said, eye stalkings turning downwards to look at his groin.
Their bickering had attracted the attention of the rest of the group. The even larger amount of attention made Tela somehow retreat further into her feathers.
"Is Evala being pushy again?" Quincy asked. He was, as per usual, lounging in his wife's lap.
"I was only inquiring as to why these two haven't escalated things yet. Between them, I mean," Evala said.
Greg shook his head. He was generally more willing to chastise his wife than the rest of them.
"Oh, don't badger them, hun. Let them do or not do whatever they want, at whatever speed they want."
"I'm not trying to be rude or anything. I'm just saying, it's not safe for a young man to deny those kinds of urges."
"What do you mean, 'not safe'?" James asked.
"If you hold it in for too long, it could eventually give you some pretty serious medical side effects. I've even heard you could just drop dead one day."
"That's some nonsense mamono came up with to make boys give it up more easily and you know it," James said, giving her an incredulous look.
"No, no, it's true! I read about it on the internet," Kolithilia insisted, embracing her husband in a death-grip hug, "I always make sure nothing like that happens to little Quincy here."
Tela remained quiet and still. James was starting to worry that more talk like this might scare her off; he himself was embarrassed enough already.
"Well, regardless, that's not your problem, Evala. Lay off, please."
The gazer reluctantly retreated her eye stalks and huddled back down in her chair, muttering to herself. James cleared his throat. He understood that Evala didn't mean to offend, but every so often she would go just a little too far.
"She's just screwing around, trying to get a rise out of us," James whispered to Tela. The owl only glanced at him for a second and gave a quiet 'hmm', then resumed looking down at the desk.
The remainder of the session continued about as the first had. If Tela was uncomfortable with Evala's teasing, she didn't let it show; she was as quick-thinking as ever. They were nearing the end of the campaign by the time this session was wrapped up, thanks in part to the owl mage's creative ways of overcoming enemies, obstacles, and puzzles.
When they were left in the hallway for a second time, though, Tela behaved a bit differently than she had the week prior. Whereas before she could hardly stand to look at him for more than a second or two at a time, now she stared straight into his face, almost daring James to look her in the eye. But obviously that wasn't true- she knew as well as he did the mystical properties of her eyes.
"So, how are you feeling about all this? The campaign and everything?" James asked, hoping to gauge her interest so far. Doing that was made a bit harder by his inability to look at her face, though.
"I enjoyed it very much. I almost wish it didn't have to end quite yet."
"Oh, yeah, I guess you're right. We did go longer last time. I'll ask the others if they're willing to stay up late again," James said. Her wanting more was a good sign in his eyes.
Tela didn't respond. She only closed her eyes for a second, an inscrutable expression on her face.
Well...now or never, he told himself.
Her eyes opened immediately.
"I, uh, have a question."
"Please ask it," she said hurriedly. She really wanted to hear it- maybe she just had somewhere to be. James took a breath.
"Would you like to, maybe, ah… go get dinner with me, sometime?"
Tela deflated a little. Her eyes flicked to the door to his room for a second; had she wanted…?
No, probably not. Best not to assume, anyway.
"That would be nice,” she said, though he couldn’t shake the feeling that a date wasn’t quite what she had expected. Well, she said yes, so he had that going for him at least.
“Cool! Does, uhh, tomorrow sound okay? I figured you could just show up here around five or six, then we can, uh, go somewhere.”
"That sounds fine."
"Alright. Umm, I'm looking forward to it. See you tomorrow night, then."
Tela cast one last look at the door to his room before leaving, leaving him alone for a second time. James couldn’t shake the feeling that he had disappointed her in some way. His hormone-addled brain had thought for a moment that the owl mage had wanted him to invite her inside, but the last thing he wanted was for him to make a move and, in the process, scare her off.
He shook his head. Instead of worrying about what might have happened, the question he should be concerned with was just where he should take Tela to dinner. He had made the suggestion impulsively, and without any actual restaurant or venue in mind.
Well, he could decide on that tomorrow. Hopefully she liked wherever they ended up going.
James had spent most of the following day anticipating his impending date. He had decided to simply take her to one of the italian restaurants in town- nothing too fancy or upscale, but it was a step up from fast food at the least. It wouldn't break the bank, either.
He had already been waiting outside for about half an hour now. It wasn't that Tela was late- he just had to get some fresh air to abate his nervousness.
The door to the dorm building opened behind him.
"Oh, hey, Greg."
"Hey. What are you hanging around out here for? Something going on?"
"Nah, I'm just, uh, waiting for Tela. We're going to dinner."
"Finally found your balls, huh, Jamie? " The question came from the second, smaller figure leaving the building. James groaned; he didn't need a ribbing by Evala when he already had a stomach full of butterflies.
"What she meant to say is that we're both happy for you. Hope your little date goes well," Greg said.
"Thank you. I'm glad at least one of you has some tact," James replied, glaring back at one of the many eye stalks the gazer was looking at him with. She stuck her tongue out at him as the two of them headed off to get their own food.
James was glad he had them, as well as Quincy and Kolithilia, to ease his interactions with Tela. It was a miracle he managed to stumble his way through their initial interaction without making himself look like an idiot. Of course, that was part of why he was so nervous now- he didn’t have anyone to fall back on.
Quiet though it was, the sound of Tela speaking made him flinch. She had crept up to his side somehow, walking through the grass instead of on the paved walkway. Sneaky little owl.
“Hi,” James said. Like every other time they spoke, he struggled with balancing his desire not to be entranced by her eyes with the need for having a proper conversation where he didn’t just look down at his toes.
Tela looked at the retreating forms of Evala and Greg. The gazer was playfully poking and spanking her man.
“Thanks for introducing me to them,” she said quietly, nodding towards the pair she was talking about. “...and for letting me join you all.”
“We, umm, we all like playing with you. It’s not like we just tolerate you or anything. And thank you for helping me with studying in the first place."
A little smile sprung to life on her face, half-covered by feathers.
“So, I thought we could head down to that Italian place in town. The one by the park. Does that sound okay?”
Tela nodded without commenting.
“Okay. Let’s get going then,” he said.
An awkward silence came into being immediately. The sounds of footsteps and the lighter clicking of talons on stone were the only noises they made. That wouldn’t do.
“So, umm, how are you liking the SD&D campaign so far? We’re kind of nearing the end,” he said in an effort to get his companion talking.
“It’s pretty nice. Creative, as well. Did Greg come up with all of it himself?”
“Yeah, he spent a few weeks planning everything. I think he was really excited to have us play it.”
Fortunately, their conversation lasted for the duration of their walk into town. His fears about being overly awkward seemed to be unfounded; they remained friendly and animated the whole time. Still, James couldn't help but feel something else between them. Maybe not awkwardness, but tension.
He brushed it off. They arrived at the restaurant quickly enough, the smell of good food and sound of lively conversation creating a pleasant atmosphere as they walked in. He hadn't made a reservation, but the place wasn't so busy as to need one.
They allowed themselves to be led to a table by the waiter, decided what they wanted off the menu, and were left by themselves. The silence descended on them again.
"Do you have any plans after we're done eating?" Tela asked suddenly, her tone casual.
"No, not really. Maybe study a little more. Or more realistically, just play video games."
"So, nothing...important? Nothing you can't afford to miss?"
James tilted his head at her.
"No, I guess not. Why do you ask?"
"I just want to make sure you don't miss anything if we're here for longer than expected," she said hurriedly. That was thoughtful of her, though.
"Oh. Well, thanks for being considerate."
Tela nodded, fixing him with yet another stare that he couldn't return. It still seemed to him like she was challenging him to maintain eye contact; he swore he even heard her clear her throat when he looked down at the table instead of at her, as if she was chastising him for not looking his own date in the eye.
The arrival of their food a bit later saved him from further embarrassment, though the meatballs and veritable mountain of sauce-covered spaghetti on his plate weren’t enough to take his mind off of the fluffy creature sitting across the table from him. Tela used her telepathy to maneuver a fork and knife through the air in front of her, stabbing and eating morsels of food at her leisure. Once again the silence settled in, but given that they were both preoccupied now, that didn’t seem as awkward.
A noodle of spaghetti slipped from the fork hovering in the air and into the feathers of Tela's wing. She glared at the offending bit of food, probably upset that the sauce had slightly stained her feathers.
"Oh, that sucks. Here, let me get that," James said, his brain telling him that the gentlemanly thing to do was to help her. He grabbed a napkin and got up, walked over to her side of the table, and plucked up the noodle. His other hand rested on her wing to steady her as he did what he could to wipe up the little stain the sauce had left.
He had known just from looking at her that Tela's feathers would be soft, but now that he was actually touching them, it was a nearly religious experience. His fingers dug deeper into the luxuriously fluffy feathers, and it was only after a solid ten seconds that he realized what he was doing was probably pretty creepy. Still, he spent more time than was necessary trying to wipe up the last of the red stain just so he could remain in contact with her. He wanted more- to hug her, to stuff his face into her feathers, to feel them all across his skin…
That last thought was what shook him out of it.
"Ahem. I, umm, think that's about as clean as I can get it," he said quietly as he glanced upwards to gauge Tela's reaction. She looked down at him, mouth open slightly, and eyes wide as the dinnerplates the two of them were eating off of.
He quickly stood up and went back to his own seat, and upon failing to think of anything else to say, resumed eating. Tela did the same after a moment.
Had he just screwed things up? It felt like he had. Touching her without prompting hadn't been a good idea. Panic started to seep into his mind. She was probably uncomfortable now, all because he just wanted to touch her feathers. He had to salvage this!
"So, ah…" he started, frantically trying to think of a topic of conversation, "...my food's pretty good, I think. Is yours?"
Tela bobbed her head up and down once, then looked at the little red splotch that stained her feathers where she'd dropped the spaghetti. Probably wondering why he had touched her so creepily, he thought.
Their amount of food on their plates had grown slim, which meant their date was going to be over soon as well. James struggled to think of something else to do or say, but as the minutes passed by with the two of them only finishing off what remained on their plates, any further action eluded him.
The silence continued as they waited for the check to come. He had fucked it. Now she was going to want nothing to do with him. He volunteered to pay the whole bill, despite some quiet insistences on Tela's part of splitting it. It wasn't particularly expensive, anyway.
They left the restaurant to find that the evening was rolling in quickly, and the chill with it. Still, the late summer air wasn't so cold as to be uncomfortable quite yet. James was uncomfortable enough thinking about how badly he'd botched his date.
Tela was quiet. The friendly conversation about SD&D that they'd shared on the way into town was absent. They walked down the winding streets and past closed storefronts until the buildings became sparse, replaced by trees lit red by the setting sun. It wasn't much of a walk back to the dorms, assuming they walked along the main road. That's what James had thought they would do- walk quietly down the sidewalk next to the two-lane street all the way back home, him mentally berating himself the whole way.
But that wasn't quite what happened. To their left, a grassy dirt path opened up from the forest; almost as soon as he had noticed it, an invisible but nonetheless tangible force was nudging him off the sidewalk and towards the walkway leading into the forest. James didn't even know what was happening at first. He briefly thought that he had tripped or perhaps even that he was having a stroke or some other medical emergency.
"Shhh," Tela shushed him as one of her wings brushed against the skin on his forearm. Even as he tried to shake off the intangible force pushing against him, it only steered him harder.
Tela's lack of alarm at this development was what finally clued him in. Her telekinesis was precise- she'd demonstrated as much already- but apparently it also had raw power to match. She was the one guiding him. Pushing him where she pleased with her magic abilities.
He could still turn his head, at least, to see that the owl mage was looking into the forest with both trepidation and excitement in her eyes.
"Tela? What's going on?" James asked, the tension mounting as they passed through the mouth of the trail and into the forest. The little bit of light the sun still offered was largely swallowed by the trees as they continued on. Tela's eyes could see in the dark, though, or at least that was what James suspected.
"Shhhhh. Just relax and keep walking. Everything is fine," she replied in a slightly shaky voice. She swept one of her wings up and curled it around him about halfway up his torso. She led him on and paid little mind to his further struggles and protests.
Before long, the light made a bit of a return. Tela had led him into an opening in the forest- a little clearing on the side of the hill. The sun still hadn't completely fallen behind the horizon, providing a rather enticing view of the sunset that was painting everything around him red.
"Stay right here," the owl mage told him. She didn't make it sound like an order- it was more like a quick request from a friend, belying the fact that her continued telekinesis meant he couldn't move anyway.
Tela walked somewhere behind him. Upon craning his neck back, James could barely make out the sight of a picnic basket-like box tucked in the shade of one of the trees. She was rifling through it with her telepathy, pulling out something large and floppy.
She reentered his immediate field of view, telepathically carrying...blankets?
"I know the view could be a little better, a-and it's kind of cold out, but I promise I'll keep you warm," the owl mage said, her voice even more nervous now.
"What's going on, Tela? I'm a little freaked out…"
"No, no- don't be. Like I said, everything's fine."
One of the thick, comfortable-looking blankets stretched itself out and plopped down onto the grass in front of him. Immediately afterwards, the force holding him in place dissipated and Tela sat down on the blanket.
"I'm sorry for the, um...you know. Pushing you. Sit," she urged him, patting the empty spot next to her with a wing. As confused as he was, James obeyed.
She watched him move, and continued to just watch him for a while after that, breathing just loud enough to hear.
"I like you," she squeaked out. He waited for a continuation or explanation, but none came. Tela simply shuffled closer to him until their two bodies were pressed together. Had she expected him to respond?
"Do...do you not…" she stuttered. She hadn't taken her eyes off him.
"Oh! Yes, I like you. I like you very much, Tela, but I still don't know what's going on," James said, only realizing after he was done speaking that he had essentially just been confessed to. His heart jumped into his throat, preventing him from saying anything else. She did like him like that!
"That's okay. That's fine. I just need you to do something for me," she said, before moving to lean over directly in front of him, just a few inches from his face. Her wings rested on her legs.
"Look into my eyes."
James froze up, somehow more still than before. He had been looking downwards at Tela's legs and the blanket they were sitting on.
"But that would mean-"
She didn't let him finish. The same telepathic force that had pushed him down the path into this forest now nudged his chin upwards until all he could see was Tela's face. The thought of closing his eyes or looking towards his peripherals didn't even occur to him; from the moment he looked into those golden eyes, he was a goner.
The sounds of the forest, the nippy breeze, the fading sunset- all of it ceased to matter. The world around him effectively no longer existed. The only thing around him, the only thing in his life, was Tela and her beautiful, brilliant eyes. He wanted this moment to last for the rest of his days and then some.
"There. No more worrying. Let's get those clothes off."
James heard the words more in his head than his ears. They were distant and pleasantly musical, adding a gentle, quiet overture to the bliss that was Tela's eyes. He got the faintest impression of fabric sliding off of his body- his shirt being deftly unbuttoned and then removed from his body. Even with his chest bare, he hardly even noticed the chilly air.
"Now for these…"
The button on his pants, now- it came undone and not a second later were they being tugged down his legs. It took him a moment to realize his underwear had come with them.
He hoped the eyes liked what they saw. He wanted to impress the eyes, to be loved and adored by the eyes.
No more words came- just heavier breathing and the sound of more fabric sliding off. It must have been her clothes now. Some animal lizard-brain part of his mind reminded him that there was a beautiful and naked woman in front of him, but James couldn't dare to break eye contact. Her wings wrapped up around him. They both blocked out any possible view of the forest around the two of them and also shielded him from the cold, though admittedly he wasn't too concerned about the temperature at the moment.
Again, he heard the words echo softly around his head. She was happy so far. That was good. The last thing he wanted was to disappoint her.
A gentle pressure came over his member. In contrast to the rest of his body, which might as well have been numbed, he felt this more than clearly. It was as if the nerves down there had been...amplified, somehow.
The pressure started rolling up and down the length of his erection. She was using her telekinesis- that much was apparent, even to his dulled mind. The feeling of force without anything behind it was a novel one, but as it grew a little tighter, he found it to be more than enough to make him moan.
"Does that feel good, James?"
He tried to say yes, but while he could feel his mouth moving, no sound reached his ears. Whether he hadn't spoken at all or he just couldn't hear, his actions earned him a short giggle.
"You can barely speak. I didn't think you would like my eyes quite this much…"
The hypnotic effect of her eyes was mixing with actual lust now, sharpening his mind and senses just enough for him to know he wanted more. Tela seemed to notice this and started to increase both the pressure and the speed of her telekinetic stimulation. The feeling made him lean forwards, into the force and tightness, trying to fuck the envelope of pressure Tela was providing him.
James hadn't been particularly close to finishing when the pressure started to lessen, but he still felt disappointed. He must have whined or made some other noise, since the voice entered his head again.
"No, no. Don't be sad. That was just the warmup," he heard. The eyes seemed to promise him even more, so he contentedly sank back downwards onto his butt, erection sticking up proudly in the air. The eyes flicked downwards for a moment to stare at it. They looked hungry. Excited. Happy. He was glad that he had made them- no, her, he reminded himself- happy.
Tela shuffled forwards with her wings still wrapped around him until she was in his lap. She pressed herself against him, trapping his dick between his own skin and the soft feathers he had come to enjoy so much.
Tela moved upwards, and suddenly he could feel the heat from her nethers warm his tip. As he concentrated on the feeling a large dollop of her lubrication fell onto his cock, slowly sliding down his length.
She stayed like that, hovering just above him and warming his face with her breath. Belatedly James remembered he actually had arms, even if he could hardly feel them, and wrapped them around Tela's waist before greedily dragging her down onto his dick. To the sound of her startled, pleasured gasping and the sight of her eyes dilating and twitching he penetrated her, not stopping until they were entirely together.
"I g-guess so," she breathed heavily. The words still were in his head instead of his ears, but his wonder was tempered with his desire to start fucking the beautiful and fluffy creature in his lap.
She was surprisingly light, which allowed him to begin lifting her up and sinking her back down onto his dick with relative ease. In and out, in and out he went, the sound of her walls being parted just barely reaching his ears.
The alertness provided by his arousal and the exertion of intercourse cleared enough of the mental fog for James to remember something- he hadn't kissed her yet. Not even a little peck on the cheek. In a show of surprising initiative given his state he leaned forward and locked lips with Tela, pressing his tongue inward until it was rolling against her own.
Her first kiss, as it turned out, was enough for the owl mage to reach her orgasm. Her wings tightened around his neck and back, her walls contracted and squeezed the cock inside her, and the eyes James had been enamored with rolled back into her head. That did the trick- without eye contact her magic faltered, and the hypnotic spell was broken. The fugue state surrounding him until now was gone, but his lust remained.
He launched forward, out of the lotus position and into missionary while still fucking her as orgasmic pleasure was still rolling through her. Tela gasped and writhed beneath him.
"W-wait! Look into my eyes again!"
The words came into his ears now, not his brain. Given that James had buried his face into the soft feathers of her neck, he couldn't have obeyed her if he wanted to. He only continuee to fuck her even as she frantically patted his back with her wings from the overstimulation.
James reached his own limit soon enough, Tela's body convulsing underneath him for a second time as she experienced another orgasm. Only when rope after rope of his release started shooting into her did she finally relax and stop slapping him on the back. It was all he could do to lock his legs as tight against her as possible, staying as deep as he could.
Gradually they both relaxed. Tela's gasps turned into throaty breathing and then quiet little huffs as her wings once again wrapped around him to protect him from the chilly air.
"You could have just done that without the eye-hypno, you know," James whispered directly into her ear as he ran a hand through her hair.
"I wanted it to be...hah…more intense...more romantic…"
He chuckled and raised himself up above her. Tela was looking off into the forest with a happy smile on her face. Despite her warmth, though, he couldn't help but shiver in the cold air. The sun had set completely now, leaving them largely in darkness.
As tired as she was, Tela still managed to telepathically pull up the second blanket she'd brought along and drape it over the two of them.
"I thought we could spend the night out here," she said tentatively, rubbing a wing along his arm to entice him to cuddle, "Keep each other warm."
He sank back down next to her. "And go at it again during the night, hmm?"
Even with just the moonlight to see her by, James still spotted the embarrassed smile and rosy cheeks on Tela's face.