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    Laura S. Fox
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This Strange World Needs A Kicking! - 34. You Don’t Belong Here

Chapter Thirty-Four – You Don’t Belong Here

“Are you all right? How is Sebastian? Is he being mean to you?” Kai’s questions rolled off his tongue like a waterfall.

“No, not at all,” Pepin replied as he continued to stroke Kai’s hair and take in his face like he was seeing him for the first time.

Which wasn’t completely inaccurate since that thing with the switcheroo at the cavern could barely count as them seeing each other properly.

“Are you disappointed?” Kai asked the number one burning question on his mind. “I mean, I’m no longer a hunk.”

“I don’t know what a hunk is,” Pepin replied while he continued to run his fingers through Kai’s hair, “but I’m happy you’re not one anymore.”

“Only because you don’t know the meaning of the word,” Kai prompted but didn’t insist since he was too happy to see Pepin to dwell on what various words of no importance meant.

“I’m so glad to be able to see your true face,” Pepin said and kissed him again, lingering and sweetly. “I was afraid I wouldn’t get the chance.”

“Me too. I mean, I don’t know how much longer we can stick around. Galien thinks that we’re in some kind of danger.”

“Sebastian, as well. His mother won’t take kindly to being made a fool like that if she ever finds out the truth,” Pepin agreed. “Is Master Galien taking good care of you? He seemed in high spirits as he sent me here to see you.”

“He must be high on love, that guy,” Kai said with a short snicker. “He couldn’t wait to see Conrad again, and we just followed him. How do you feel? I mean, being… with child, or whatever you call it here,” he asked after some hesitation.

Pepin offered him a dazzling smile. “I’m happy to hear that you worry, but it’s nothing like what happens when a woman carries a child. My task is spiritual much more than physical. Although,” he said, as he pulled the shard out of his shirt and showed it to Kai, “can you see?”

Kai stared into it and almost took a step back as something moved inside. “Wow. I think I saw… a tiny finger?”

“He’s growing already,” Pepin said.

“Double wow. And how long, until, you know?”

“Not as long as it is expected in human beings.”

Kai understood what Pepin didn’t say, that he might not be around long enough to meet this child. He felt so helpless all of a sudden. “Will you be okay? I mean, given the circumstances.”

“I will.” Pepin nodded and smiled, but even Kai, as clueless as he was more often than not, could tell that the guy was putting on a brave face for his sake.

“Are you really okay?” Kai mumbled as he rubbed Pepin’s shoulders. “I mean, I came here, and like that wasn’t weird enough, I messed up your life, too.”

“You did nothing of the kind. More so, you helped me find my purpose. And also,” Pepin said and shyly looked away, “you made me fall in love with you, like I was promised.”

“For the record, I have no idea how I did that,” Kai replied.

“It was easy for you, a stranger from a different land,” Pepin said dreamily. “You saw me for who I was, not just a servant created for duty, or a Lelian with a purpose for the kingdom. You gave me more than you’ll ever know.”

“Well, I’d like to know,” Kai confessed. “But first, let me introduce you to some people.”

He took Pepin’s hand. All of a sudden, he felt very shy, like he hadn’t known Milo for years and his sister all her life. This was important, as important as it could get, and he needed to be careful not to mess it up.

“This is Milo, my best friend,” Kai said first.

“Sebastian’s chosen,” Pepin added and threw him an unsure look when Milo turned his head to hide his eyes.

There would be time later to untangle that web of messed-up feelings. Or not. Kai had no idea. Maybe moments like that in life must teach you how young and unknowing you are.

“And this is my sister, Tani,” he continued as he gestured Pepin forward, holding him by the shoulders.

No wonder there, Tani was bubbling with excitement. She didn’t wait for Kai to finish and just rushed into Pepin’s arms, hugging him tightly. Then, she looked up and squeezed him a little more. “I have no idea how this brother of mine managed to land someone like you, but I’m glad he did, because now I have the most beautiful bishie as a brother-in-law, and everyone else can go suck it.”

Pepin laughed but threw unsure looks at Kai as he probably couldn’t understand all the things Tani was babbling about.

Kai dragged his sister away with much difficulty. “Stop putting ideas in Pepin’s head. He’ll really start to realize that he got the short end of the stick with me.”

“I’m not,” Tani protested. “Pepin, I might like to tease my brother, but he’s a good guy and also he cannot keep a secret if his life depended on it. I read somewhere that good people are like that. Plus, he always takes me to school with him, and I know where his secret cash stash is. He might spend all night playing video games and his grades are awful--”

He really needed to stop Tani from talking, so he put a hand over her mouth. “Are you sure you’re helping, butthead?”

Pepin walked closer to them and embraced them both. “I’m glad to meet both you and your sister. You are amazing people and I love you.”

Kai felt his throat getting tighter, and his hand dropped from Tani’s mouth. That was enough for his sister to embrace Pepin again. He really hoped Pepin was okay with having such a clingy sister-in-law.

Only that she wouldn’t ever be that. Pepin was – sort of – married to Sebastian now, although he carried another dude’s baby, and that meant that their time together would be short. Kai took Pepin by the shoulders. “I’m sorry,” he blurted the only thing that came to his mind.

“What for?” Pepin asked, his luminous eyes making his entire face look like something that belonged to a fairytale.

A fairytale that had no place for a teenager soon to become a full-fledged NEET in it. Kai didn’t like the feeling of sadness creeping in, but for the first time after many years, he realized that he couldn’t escape from it. “I’m sorry for coming here and making you fall in love with a good for nothing like me. I’m sorry that I have to go, although I don’t want to. I’m sorry that I won’t ever be here long enough to meet--”

He stopped as the words lodged in his throat, cutting off his speech. His fingers wandered to the shard hanging from Pepin’s neck and caressed it slightly. Pepin placed his hand over his. “Don’t be sorry. I met you, and I now feel love. What more could I ask for?”

Tani’s sudden sobbing caused them to stop. Kai took his sister by the shoulders in an effort to comfort her, and Pepin did the same.

“You could ask for a lot more,” Tani began, without stopping her sniffles and sobs. “And my brother will be an awesome dad, I just know it. And doesn’t this world have magic, anyway? I bet there’s something here that could help you get together somehow. Or maybe Pepin could travel with us back home. He will totally be scouted the moment he sets foot in there. He’ll be an idol in no time. Can you sing, Pepin? It doesn’t matter, you can just be a model.”

Kai didn’t have the strength to stop Tani from talking anymore. It would be so nice to take Pepin with him. But was it possible? Was it safe? That shard was made from magic, and who could tell what would happen if they traveled to the real world? What if it got disintegrated? There was more at stake than just their feelings for one another.

Pepin caressed Tani’s hair. “As much as I would like to entertain such dreams of happiness, my little sister, I cannot. I have a duty here.” He pressed his hand over the shard.

Tani looked down. Oh, no, this wasn’t a good sign. The next moment, she stomped her foot. “This isn’t fair! Where is the happy end?”

This time, Kai covered Tani’s mouth to stop her from shouting. “I’m afraid there’s not one this time,” he whispered.

Or maybe there was, and he hadn’t discovered it yet. It had to be like in those anime series when everything seemed lost, only for the hero to appear and save the day, or for some magical girl to come to the rescue and such. “Are there any magical girls in this world?” he asked Pepin.

“Not that I know of. I mean, there are people with magic, but they’re not girls. They are mostly older people,” the reply came.

“Good enough. As long as there’s magic, there must be a way,” Kai said with conviction. “We just need to find it. I know! We’ll have a brainstorming session! Milo--”

He turned to ask his friend for his opinion on all that, but there was no one standing in the place where Milo should have been.

***

Kai Martin was wrong about his being overpowered, Sebastian decided as he scribbled down the shortest routes he would need to take to reach the people with magic in the kingdom. It would take days and weeks to pay everyone a visit, which made him feel quite helpless. Usually, he would have sent word for them to come to the palace, but that risked drawing Reya’s attention, who would wonder why he needed the advice of magic wielders all of a sudden. No, at this time, he needed her to believe that everything was fine and dandy in the kingdom of Ifigia. Not that people from a strange world were roaming about, one of them being no other but a boy Sebastian happened to be in love with.

He rose to his feet. Maybe a little stroll would help him clear his thoughts and find a better, quicker solution for sending off the little group. He pulled open the doors, still lost in thought, and almost crashed into someone standing there.

His eyes clashed with a green gaze he knew too well.

“What are you doing here?” Sebastian hissed and grabbed Milo to pull him inside his quarters before anyone noticed this stranger happening about the palace.

At least the young man was attired per the Ifigia custom, so he wasn’t that suspicious, but it made Sebastian wonder what his guards were doing if they hadn’t caught Milo while heading over to his quarters like it was the least unusual thing in the world.

“I was searching for you,” Milo replied as soon as Sebastian closed the doors.

“You’re in danger. You don’t belong here.” Sebastian felt the words flying off his tongue. Yes, it was painfully clear. Despite having his hair brushed differently and wearing clothes fit for a young noble living in Ifigia, Milo wasn’t part of this world, this place. His place, Sebastian added in his mind, and it took him all his willpower to stop the squeeze on his heart to put a brake on all his rational thinking. If that happened, they were all doomed because Sebastian wanted nothing else but to take this young man in his arms and kiss him until they would both stop breathing altogether.

Milo rubbed the back of his neck with one hand and grimaced. “I suppose that should have been my line all those times you tried to warn me about who you truly were.”

Yes, but then none of those other amazing things that happened between the two of them would have taken place. Despite the wrongness of the situation, Sebastian didn’t have it in him to regret it. Like a man dying of thirst in the heart of the desert, under a relentless sun, presented with the sudden mirage of crystalline waters, he stared at Milo, unable to tear his eyes away.

It took moments like ages to remember that Milo wasn’t safe, and it was madness to give in to his heart’s desires. “How did you find this place? You must leave at once.” His voice was tight as a string, and he couldn’t stop it from vibrating as if plucked by the gentle hand of a musician.

Milo gave him a crooked smile. “Come on, man. Admit it, this is fucked up.”

Sebastian felt his cheeks hurting. Under another sky, in a different world, he would have smiled back. “Yes,” he said noncommittally. “I admit it, if it makes you feel any better. That doesn’t change the fact that you and your friends are in danger. Did that useless cousin of mine bring you here? I’ll make sure to have a word with him. Now come.”

He reached for Milo, determined to drag the boy out of the palace at all costs and put him out of harm’s way. His hand caught nothing but air; Milo was quick on his feet and dodged him. Sebastian tried again, but Milo broke into a sprint, and now the large table on which the map of Ifigia lay was between them.

“Are you really a manwhore?” Milo asked, examining him with keen eyes.

Sebastian frowned. He was in no mood to chase the boy around the table, while a goddess with a famous temper could catch a whiff of a strange presence in the palace at any moment. “Aren’t you full of questions?”

“You’re the first dude I had sex with. You owe me the truth,” Milo said squarely.

“You weren’t so interested in it when I tried to talk to you in all honesty,” Sebastian shot back.

“Why do you change lovers so fast?” Milo continued like he was deaf.

“Why are you asking?”

“I thought I was having sex with a virgin,” Milo replied. “And it’s a bit weird to find out that, you know, I actually did that with an older guy who also had like hundreds of lovers.”

“That’s an exaggeration!” Sebastian controlled his voice with much difficulty. “They weren’t that many,” he added.

“Still, like every month? Isn’t that a bit over the top? Like what didn’t those dudes have for you to dump them like that?”

Maybe they didn’t have green eyes that could cut through or heal the heart. Or a smile so genuine, so wholesome, that nothing compared to it in the whole world. Sebastian remained silent.

“Well? Was I about to get dumped just like them after a month? Wait, you did actually dump me,” Milo said after pretending for a moment that he was pondering over something. “And it didn’t even take you a month to do so.”

Sebastian dug his fingernails into his palms. It cost so much not to jump over the table, grab Milo, and show him that he hadn’t meant a word that time. That he still loved him, with all his heart.

“I suppose I’m fickle like that,” he said in a measured, emotionless voice. What was the point of entertaining sentiments that would never come to fruition?

“Hmm,” Milo’s response came, a bit too forced to be thoughtful. “They keep telling me I’m your chosen.”

“They are mistaken. I have a chosen,” Sebastian said.

“Kai’s boyfriend,” Milo pointed out.

He couldn’t stand still under that pointed gaze.

“It is a difficult situation, one that young men like you cannot easily understand. I’m doing the right thing,” Sebastian insisted.

Milo crossed his arms and gave him a long, well-measured once over. “I’m totally starting to see you. You’re not a very good liar. I mean, you may have a different body now, but just the way you angle your head and look away while talking bullshit, is definitely the same.”

What would you want me to do? His heart pushed him to hurl those words right into this impossible, infuriating young man’s face.

“I suppose I owe you an apology, after all,” Sebastian began. The coolness of his words would quickly convince Milo to make a run for it while he still could.

“Save your breath,” Milo cut his words short. “You’re still the guy who popped my cherry. How about assuming responsibility?”

Sebastian could feel his temples throbbing. Of all the reactions he would have expected, did Milo opt for that of a slighted heroine from some random romantic manga? “That is exactly what I’m doing. You’re my responsibility, you are now in terrible danger because of me, and now I need to find a way to send you and your friends back to your world.”

“That is your duty,” Milo said slowly. “But what about me?”

He risked looking at the other this time. It was hard to read the meaning behind those beautiful green eyes when it had been so easy before. “What about you?” Sebastian asked, reining in the need to blurt out all the truth threatening to spill from his heart.

Milo pulled back a little. “I guess I got my answer.” His face was a closed book.

“Good. Then quit fooling around. We must find the rest of your lot and get you back to Galien’s estate until I find a way for you to travel to your world safely.” Without waiting for another jab or smart-ass reply, Sebastian walked stiffly toward the door. “Are you coming?” he asked over his shoulder.

He could tell Milo was moving. At least, he had managed to be convincing enough, after all. A few more steps and Milo would be out the door, out of his life once more. It should have been just one goodbye, one-sided, and forever.

All the more, he was surprised to be taken by the shoulders and forced to turn. Staring into those amazing eyes would be his doom, he thought and closed his eyes. And then, lips soft like petals closed over his and kissed him gently.

He didn’t have the time to react, to comprehend what was happening that the doors behind him burst open, and the soft lips left him, allowing nothing but a lingering sensation of regret to remain in their stead.

“There you are!” Kai Martin exclaimed.

“Where else should I be?” Sebastian asked, hoping that no one had been witness to the unfathomable kiss from earlier.

“Sorry, Your Majesty, I wasn’t talking to you.” Kai took a short, clumsy bow.

“Seb, your palace is awesome!” Tani bounced behind her brother.

Sebastian pinched the bridge of his nose. “What are you all doing here? Galien should have known better and kept you from escaping.”

“We’re not prisoners,” Tani said and hurried by his side. She hung from his arm, looking at him with shiny eyes. It took him a while to realize that she was trying to drag him down to her height. He obliged, and Tani quickly whispered in his ear, “He loves you, right?”

He straightened up right away. “I’ll go search for my cousin. You, children, stay put.”

He forced everyone inside, including Pepin, who should have known better and walked out. With a short hand move, he blocked the locks with ice and hurried down the hall while ignoring the protests threatening to tear down the doors.

His heart leaped with each step. Milo had kissed him. They would never see each other again, but at least he would have that kiss forever.

***

“What did you two do?” Tani asked Milo once they realized they couldn't open the doors after Sebastian had so quickly locked them inside.

Kai was just as curious, but bros didn’t ask that kind of question. So, all in all, it was good to have a nosy sister.

“None of your business, pipsqueak,” Milo replied.

That all-knowing smirk on his face had to count for something. Kai pursed his lips and began to think hard, but that wasn’t exactly easy, not with Pepin holding him tightly and breathing over the side of his neck.

Tani huffed in disappointment and rushed to the table. “Look, guys, Seb has a map! Wow, his kingdom looks huge.”

“Tani, don’t go through people’s things. What would mom say?” Usually, he would have just pulled his sister back by the hair, but since Pepin was there, he needed to act more like a grownup.

“Mom would say, ‘no way’,” Tani replied promptly. “She’ll never believe us that we got isekai’d.”

“Yeah. Once we get back home, she’ll totally have our heads over this,” Kai said and nodded. “Wait, do you think that time passes over there just like here?”

“It has to,” Milo said promptly. “During the time you got yourself a boyfriend and got him pregnant, too, I apparently got to fool around with an ice prince from another world. There’s no time stop magic, I suppose.”

“Well, in case we get home by tomorrow, we’ll still have some explanations to do,” Kai thought out loud. “We have to synchronize our watches, guys, and tell the same lies.”

Tani smirked. “You should be the most careful. I’m sure that the moment mom crosses her arms and asks where we’ve been, you’ll start blabbing about Ifigia instantly.”

“I won’t,” Kai protested. He took Pepin by the shoulders and held him tightly. “And I’m not sure I want to go,” he added quietly. “Just that I’m not sure if it’s possible for me to remain here, or for Pepin to come with us. Ah, that reminds me. Milo, we should brainstorm. This world doesn’t have any magical girls, but it does have magic. What should we do?”

“Are you seriously asking me?” Milo scratched one ear, managing to tousle the hair on that side. “I’m still half-way thinking that I’m actually sleeping and this is all a very vivid dream. Seriously.”

“Ugh, I’ll have to think of something alone,” Kai decided.

“You’re not alone,” Pepin said, wrapping his arm tightly around Kai’s waist.

Milo thought he was dreaming, but Kai wasn’t far, either. Somehow, this awesome guy by his side was very much in love with him, as useless as he was. They all gathered around the table to stare at the map. “This is where those Uxilan jerks sit on their ugly ass magic,” he said while pointing out at the dark border between Ifigia and the magic wielders slash assassins.

“And you’ve been there?” Tani asked.

Kai puffed out his chest. “Yeah. And I beat the living crap out of them. Still, I don’t think they’re dead-dead yet. Not all of them, at least.”

“Do you, like, sense their magic?” Tani asked.

Kai stopped for a moment. He tried to recall what that assassin had said during those last moments. “Not really, but the last Uxilan jerk I dealt with sounded pretty suspicious when he said that there was no one else left.”

“But did you kill him?”

“That guy? I think so.”

“I believe that there are others, some even on the council,” Pepin intervened.

“What? For real? Then that means that Sebastian is in danger,” Kai said.

“In danger? Because of his own people?” Milo questioned.

“Yeah,” Kai said, and a sudden sense of premonition overtook him. He touched his chest where the Uxilan dagger had gone through but felt nothing. Of course, that had been Sebastian’s body getting stabbed, not his.

***

Sebastian grabbed Galien by the lapel of his coat in the most abrupt manner. “I thought I’d find you here,” he said.

Conrad watched the entire scene, seemingly quite amused. Galien grabbed Sebastian’s wrist and smiled while tendrils of fire began to heat up from where he touched. As annoying as that was, Sebastian had to let go. “I want you to go to my quarters, take those young people with you and go away, as far as you can. Do you even imagine the risks?”

Galien held his stare, still smiling. “Were they worth it, though?”

Sebastian was about to put his cousin in place with a well-aimed reply when pain blossomed in the middle of his chest.

“What is it? Sebastian!” Galien sounded quite alarmed.

Sebastian only then realized that he had doubled over from the pain. “It’s nothing. Maybe I should tell Pepin to lay off spicy foods for a while.”

This wasn’t good—the wound given to Kai by an Uxilan dagger pulsed in his chest. Suddenly, the short time he had to find a way to send everyone back where they belonged got shorter. Sebastian straightened up, pretending that the pain was already gone. “Stop deflecting, Galien. Go grab them and head back home. And make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

His cousin examined him with worried eyes. Sebastian pretended not to see the short exchange between him and Conrad. The ice prince of Ifigia had no use for pity and worries.

TBC

 

Well, I won't pretend to know what you're thinking at this point, so how about letting me know? (wink, wink) Sebastian was surely surprised by Milo, and Milo might need to figure out things, but not as much as everyone else thinks. He's not, after all, some wishy-washy character... I think Seb might have underestimated him!

I hope you enjoyed the chapter!

Until next time,

Hugs,

Laura.

Copyright © 2021 Laura S. Fox; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

The dark magic is slowing unfurling its assault on Sebastian. Milo is clearly not a weak character, so I suspect that he may be a contributing factor or key to defeating the dark magic. 

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So much love separated by a felt need for duty and protection and a serious threat. People can't or won't follow their hearts. It all hurts everyone involved.

Sebastian's chest pain shows time is shorter than first expected  and right now solutions are needed to his chest pain, conflicted loves, finding magic and removing the real enemies and getting people into the right worlds. Will the outworlders--Kai, Milo, Tani-find  ways forward since they can look at the problems with fresh eyes?

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Honestly, i feel like punching sebastian and then putting on my pointy cowboy boots and lodge a foot in his glutes.

 

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An interesting change of events - the cliffhanger - is making me even more worried who is behind all of this...

Edited by dachcr
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I believe Milo has at leas one thing clear in his mind, his love for Sebastian and viceversa.

I really curious how the guys will contribute more to the safety of Ifigia and also Sebastian's heath.

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It’s interesting that Kai and Sebastian seem to be connected in some way, since Kai felt a phantom pain that Sebastian physically felt.

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On 11/29/2021 at 2:43 PM, J.El said:

The dark magic is slowing unfurling its assault on Sebastian. Milo is clearly not a weak character, so I suspect that he may be a contributing factor or key to defeating the dark magic. 

I'm happy that you think that of Milo, he will have his role, and Sebastian, albeit doesn't even think of it, will have to face yet another challenge!

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On 11/29/2021 at 2:53 PM, scrubber6620 said:

So much love separated by a felt need for duty and protection and a serious threat. People can't or won't follow their hearts. It all hurts everyone involved.

Sebastian's chest pain shows time is shorter than first expected  and right now solutions are needed to his chest pain, conflicted loves, finding magic and removing the real enemies and getting people into the right worlds. Will the outworlders--Kai, Milo, Tani-find  ways forward since they can look at the problems with fresh eyes?

Totally right! The outwordlers, as you call them, will have their chances to deal with everything happening, using their own take on it!

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On 11/29/2021 at 5:36 PM, Wesley8890 said:

Honestly, i feel like punching sebastian and then putting on my pointy cowboy boots and lodge a foot in his glutes.

 

What, what, what? You mean that perfect behind that minstrels are singing songs about?

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On 11/29/2021 at 8:22 PM, dachcr said:

An interesting change of events - the cliffhanger - is making me even more worried who is behind all of this...

Let's see what happens today... :)

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On 11/29/2021 at 9:08 PM, johnnyboy2285 said:

I believe Milo has at leas one thing clear in his mind, his love for Sebastian and viceversa.

I really curious how the guys will contribute more to the safety of Ifigia and also Sebastian's heath.

Other crazy things will happen, that's for sure! I can't just let things solve easily... I just can't!

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On 11/30/2021 at 6:02 AM, VBlew said:

It’s interesting that Kai and Sebastian seem to be connected in some way, since Kai felt a phantom pain that Sebastian physically felt.

That's an interesting note right there...

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