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That night, in Kaira’s room, I sit her down at her desk and ask her if she was ready for my present.  Camila is busy fixing Kaira’s misspelled name over her bed.  Kaira raises a quizzical eyebrow at me then nods.
“Don’t get too excited,” I warn.  “It’s not done.”  She starts grinning in anticipation and nods enthusiastically.  I reveal her clay red knitted bag and she jumps from her seat, squealing, and reaches for it.  Camila finally joins us to see what the commotion is.  I pull back from her gasp and she jumps on her toes eagerly.  “You have to make the portal,” I explain and she nods.  “It has to be laced with your magic.  I’ll teach you, but it’s hard.  It’s not just a combination of ingredients.”
“What is it?” she asks, sitting down.  Her aura feels like ants running over my skin.  It makes me shutter.  I hand her the bag and she sets it in her lap.
“To make a portal, all you have to do is picture what you want,” I explain and she stares intently in my eyes, drinking in every word.  “What you want is the ability to be able to reach anywhere you place another portal.”
“That’s so vague!” she complains and leans back into her chair with a pout.  “How do I do that?”
“It’s something you have to learn by yourself.  This is really the first ‘spell’ in a sense that wizards usually do.  I thought Aisha would have done this for you ages ago.  All I can tell you is imagine what you want, bleed your magic into it, and hope for the best.”  I shrug one shoulder.  “It took me months to figure out.  I’m sure it will go by so much faster for you, you’re way smarter than me,” I urge and she smiles again.  I stand up and wave for Camila to follow me.
“Wait, how will I know if it worked?” Kaira jumps up with begging eyes.  She wants me to tell her more, but I really can’t.  Not only is there not really another way to explain it, or even help her, but this is the best way for young wizards to learn how to use their magic.  They need to learn how it feels in their bodies and how to make it do their bidding.  Once she can make a portal, she can change materials, like how I do with clothes and hair, she can start making her own spells, and she will probably take another huge step forward, making her tattoo change again.  If I help her, I would rob her of that learning.
“Once you look in there and don’t see the bottom of the bag.”  She grimaces.  I grab Camila’s hand and walk her up to her room.  I go to her desk and show her something she’s seen a million times before.
“My hat?” she asks, raising a perfectly tended to eyebrow.
“I upgraded it, if you don’t mind,” I announce, grinning.  “If you don’t like it, I can take it back, but hopefully it will be okay.”  I hand it to her and she looks down at it, then back at me skeptically.  I realize that I guess I was too ambiguous, so I take it back.  “Imagine I’m Carlisle,” I muse and she gives an amused smile.  “I have all this hair and boys don’t have this much hair!” I gasp dramatically and she giggles.  “But all I need is my nifty hat,” I say and hold out the hat, gesturing grandly to it with the other hand.  “But sometimes it falls, and in the summer it’s hot, hiding all that lovely purple hair,” I continue.  She gives me a wide eyed head nod, to show her absurd agreement.  “If only I had a girlfriend that knew magic!” I complain then bend forward, letting all my hair touch the floor.  I gather it all at the scalp, twist it so it is basically a long ponytail without the elastic, then feed the end into the hat.  The hat that now has a portal in it.  I slip it onto my head, pull my bangs out, and look at her amazed face.  This portal goes nowhere.  It just drops into a void, but since her hair will always be attached to her head, she’ll always be able to recall it.
“That’s-” she starts, but I hold up my pointer finger, blocking her words.  She snaps her mouth shut.
“Also, this wizard girlfriend I guess I now have has done her research into these things called binders.  After many searches coming up with the three ring types, she finds an article about breast binders that shocks her.  She finds out that that a female to male should never wear a binder for more than four to eight hours, and she knows I wear mine for much longer than that.  Usually a whole day AND night.  This makes my wizard girlfriend upset,” I scold and she purses her lips and squints her eyes.  “So upset that she must come up with an alternative for her gender fluid partner.”  Her jaw drops slightly and she shakes her head.  I smile and nod.  I cut off all the commentary and just show her.  I slowly walk up to her and pull her shirt over her head.  She’s gazing into my eyes with such purpose.  She can’t believe I’m serious.  I walk to the desk and pull, from my purse, her binder.  She slips off her bra, I sling it around her back, then pull it closed in front of her.  I had stretched out the material so it does not fit her so snugly, to allow her to breathe normally, and I replaced the clips with a zipper, for just general ease of use.
After I finish zipping it up, she takes in a deep breath, holds it, and it staggers its way out of her throat.  The same logic as with the hat.  Once the zipper was connected, the front half of the binder becomes a portal, having her breasts wicked away to another dimension, a null where no one can see them.  They don’t exist.  She runs out of her room and down the hall to the bathroom.  I sneak in behind her.  She’s in joyful tears.
When I read the article about the binders it frightened me.  I had learned that keeping binders on for too long can injure a person.  They cause blood clots and restrict breathing, they should only be worn for four to eight hours a day and I’ve seen her wear one two days straight.  I needed to fix it.  And seeing her face, so happy, I knew I made the right choice.
She turns around and kisses me.
Merry Christmas.  I love you.

“How was Christmas?” Megan asks me as she’s washing her hands on the other side of the curtain.  I slip into my underwear and sweatpants.
“Awesome, you?” I ask and sit tenderly down in the chair next to her desk.  She pushes the curtain back and sits at her computer.  It’s her upgraded clipboard.
“Fine,” she mumbles as she types away.
“Got any plans for New Years tonight?” I ask to alleviate the awkward post physical therapy session feel in the air.  Her aura is calm and detached, void of emotion.  I guess that’s the only way a doctor works.  Well, I never really saw one before, so I’m not sure.  All I know is that what we do should be sexual and it’s not, so it’s terribly awkward on my end.  I guess to not be awkward on hers is why she detaches her emotions.
“No,” she mumbles and closes the document on her screen then faces me.  “You’re doing really well, so much faster than I thought it would do.  Pain has gone down significantly, though it is still there.  You are able to withstand farther penetration though you say movement still burns, which is understandable.  I don’t think we are going to get much farther though,” she admits.
“What?  Why?”  Is the trial over?  Am I a bad test subject?  What did I do?
“You need to process out in therapy what happened to you,” she explains.  No, not that.  “If you don’t, your body will continue to see everything as a threat and we won’t be able to get much farther.  I know that if I don’t keep your mind actively engaged in conversation as I’m working your thoughts drift.  I can see it in your eyes and feel you tense considerably.  Even if we get it to the point where intercourse is possible, if you have another moment like that, where you tense during the act, you might be right back to square one.  Your body will be hurt and will perceive even the slightest touch as a threat again.”
“What if…” I trail off.
“What?” she probes, leaning back in her chair.
“What if I forget the moment?”  Her eyebrows pull together and up.
“Are you talking about hypnosis?”
“Of sorts.”
“I hate hypnosis,” she complains.  “Even if it does work on you, which it rarely does, your body will remember.  You are in a physical pain and mental pain.  You need to work both aspects to fix this.”  She shook her head slowly.  “Forgetting how you broke your leg won’t make the cast any less necessary.”  I take a deep breath and lean back into my own chair.  “But, with therapy, I would say you are back to having intercourse before Valentine’s Day.”  I gape at her and a slight smile pulls at her lips.
“So long?” I complain and her smile plummets.
“Long?  That’s short,” she urges.  “Some women need this treatment for over a year because they’ve had it for so long.  Count yourself lucky,” she warns.  I pout and collect my purse.
“Are we done?”  She nods slightly and I stand.  She turns back to her computer, slouched over, and a slight glare in her eyes.  I feel bad.  Was she one of the girls that needed this horrible treatment for so long?  I wring the strap of my purse in my hand and cock my hip to a more comfortable standing position.  “You know, we are having a huge party at the bar for New Years, what to join?”  She looks up at me with just her eyes then back at her screen, clicking into an endless number of folders within folders.
“Hunter already invited me,” she mumbles.  “Maybe.”  I take that as my cue to leave.

Carlisle nips at my tongue and I giggle as he sneaks his hand down to slip into my pants.  I’m so eager for him and he knows it.  He tempts me where I ache.  I nod.  Megan said it herself, I’m doing well.  Maybe I can’t withstand sex with a biological man, but Carlisle?
Ow.
Shut up.  It doesn’t hurt.
Know what this reminds me of?
Don’t say it.
Something you haven’t thought of in a month.
Don’t you dare!
It’s right on the tip of my tongue.
Stop!
Oh, that’s right.  You’re broken.  You’re not allowed to do this.
Damn it.
As long as Cian is in pain, you’re in pain.  Fucking whore.
“Ah, fuck,” I hiss and grit my teeth in pain.
He’s not stopping.
Carlisle kisses eagerly as I burn.
What the hell.  Stop him.
No, I can take this.
Stop!  It fucking hurts!
No, I got this.
OW!
I close my eyes and Cian flashes before them.  His burning kiss, feeling so disarmed and weak when he moved my body with his mind, my thighs being peeled apart with no resistance.
That stabbing pain.  RAPE!
Shut up!
He RAPED you, when are you going to accept it and stop this?!  When is this pain going to stop?!  Stop ignoring me!
Tears rush to my eyes.  I grit my teeth.
Carlisle withdrawals and calls for me quietly.  I turn away and curl up, that familiar stabbing pain pinging around, ricocheting against my hip bones.  I tremor with every stab.  Carlisle rests his hand on my arm and squeezes it slightly.
“I’m sorry, babe,” he whispers and nuzzles into my neck.
“Not your fault,” I whisper and turn to kiss him softly.  His eyebrows are pulled together and his aura is guarded, but still warm.  It’s comforting.  He pulls me into his chest and I curl my arms between us to be completely engulfed by his warmth.  I take in his scent and moan quietly.  I look up at him and smile.  He raises an eyebrow.  “You smell so amazing.”
“That Ax body wash makes all the girls flock,” he teases with an ‘oh so Carlisle’ type smirk.
“Well, that along with your aura.  Sex smells like honey.”  He thought about that for a minute and chuckles.
“You can tell if someone had sex by smelling them?”
“Absurd thought, I know.  But yeah.  Well, before sex too.”  He laughs some more.
“Are you going to be up for partying tonight?”
“Totally,” I say and nod enthusiastically.  “Wouldn’t miss it for anything.”
“Then let’s get dressed.”

I’ve never seen the bar so packed, and it was not even open to the public.  This was just the people who live at the house and whoever they invited.  I recognize a few people.  Liam invited Derick.  I could tell they are totally head over heels for each other, but Liam, still being in the closet, keeps a respectable distance from the boy.  They remind me of middle school kids too nervous to ask the other to dance.  Carlisle invited his five friends which I was not too thrilled about but of course I did not let on to that.  If these guys are Carlisle’s friends, I have to play nice even if my first impression of them was not so great.  Jack even invited a lady friend.  Carlisle and I had constant watch on those two with eager hopes.  Jack needs someone.
We did not do karaoke since everyone that works at the bar hates it, but everyone plugged in their phones to the speaker system to mix up the variety.  Around ten, Megan make her entrance.  She spies me, waves awkwardly, then walks up to Hunter.  Hunter introduces his boyfriend then the three of them were thrown into conversation.  Hunter’s boyfriend came to the bar, where Carlisle and I were sitting, and grabs four beers.  He mumbles something like ‘medical nerds’ bitterly under his breath, and goes back.  He chugs one of his beers then keeps his second one.  He must hate being left out of their conversations like that.  I kind of feel bad for him.
Freddy even brought his girlfriend.  She’s a knock out.  Light brown flawless skin, her dark hair in a million thin braids down to her waist, and she’s wearing a sexy red dress that hugs her curvy body.  I know Carlisle sneaks glances at her when he thinks I’m not looking.  Carlisle really has eyes for other women a lot and it makes my boil with jealously.
Maybe if you could have sex, he wouldn’t be eyeing other girls.
Shut up.
Freddy always has his hand on his girlfriend, usually around her waist and it’s cute.  I wonder how they make it work.  I guess not every relationship needs sex to survive.  They look perfectly happy.
The blond friend of Carlisle runs up to us, snags Carlisle’s hand, and pulls him off his stool, yelling drunkenly about how much she loves this song.  He runs onto the floor with her, laughing.  I watch bitterly as they dance.
Maybe if you didn’t hurt yourself earlier today you would be dancing too.
I roll my eyes and throw back the rest of my Disaronno.
“That’s not a party drink!” Jack shouts over the music.  I turn around and spy him behind the bar digging for something.  He pulls out an unfinished handle of Jack.  “Since you paid for it and all.  Well, poor Mr. Chen did,” he teases and winks at me.  I laugh.  His lady friend comes behind the bar with him and the three of us take shots.  I shiver and demand another.  He laughs and pours me one after another until I have drunken him under the table and I have become so drunk that the pain has numbed.
Well, perfect.
I get off my stool and walk through the dance floor, which was just the regular bar floor with the tables stacked to the sides, to my man.  I dive my hand in the space between Carlisle and his friend.  Mary or Jessica or something.  She looks at me in annoyance and I just smirk at her and cut in.  Carlisle laughs and I engage him in a dance.
“Why, Ms. Kali, are you drunk or just jealous?” Carlisle teases.
“Yes,” I answer and both of us laugh.  I enjoy many songs with my boyfriend until the pain starts to creep back and thankfully he decides it is time for more alcohol.  We scurried back to the bar and I went shot for shot against the 20 year old.  He has a very high tolerance for alcohol.  “Is that water?” I ask taking his next shot from him.  He laughs and trades me shots.  Nope, defiantly not water.  I reject the next shot, knowing it would make me puke.  He laughs at me and takes it.
Jack turns off the music to get everyone attention a bit later and turns on the TV for the ball drop in New York.  Usually, I have to watch this a few hours early being on the east coast, but now it is actually midnight and we are counting down.
“Five.”
“Four.”
“Three.”
“Two.”
“One.”
Everyone locks lips with their partner.  Jack with his lady friend, Liam and Derick, Hunter and his boyfriend, Ethan and Zach oddly enough, Freddy and his girlfriend, Carlisle’s brunette friend and his black friend whom I didn’t know were a couple, and Carlisle and myself.
My New Year’s resolution, to defeat the darkness.
Ha.  Go ahead and try.

I toss my finished water bottle into the small trashcan next to Carlisle’s desk.  It knocks into the others and clatters to the floor.  Carlisle is passed out, drunk on his bed, he doesn’t even stir at the noise.  I shake my newly concocted spell and when it all settles it is a full mason jar of what looks like red water.  I scoop up the water bottle I had just discarded and fill it half way with the water.  I twist on the cap and do the same thing with the rest of the water bottles I had.  Thankfully, I had just enough, provided no one extra stayed over last night.
Since I’m a wizard I won’t get a hangover, but rehydrating my body doesn’t hurt any.  I leave them on the desk and slip under the covers with my drunken boyfriend.  I grab the lip of his beanie and slowly pull it off, letting his hair spill out from the void from where it was hidden.  I run my fingers through it and he shifts a bit.  His eyes flutter open, he mutters something, turns his head away from me, and it passed out again in seconds.  I laugh, kiss the crown of his head, and decide to go back to researching.  I still have so far to go.
I took the liberty of making brunch since the whole house was still asleep at eleven in the morning.  Half way through plating, Carlisle creeps his way into the kitchen, glaring at the floor.
“Why you got to be so loud?” he mumbles and sits at the table.
“Is my tip toeing and breathing too loud for you, Mr. Grumpy?” I tease and hand him a water bottle full of my red spell.  “Trust me,” I say before he can question it.  He drinks the whole thing in one go and before he can even take in a breath, his wide eyes are on me.
“You should sell that,” he gasps and looks at the bottle in disbelief.  “I feel like I didn’t even drink last night.”
“That’s the point,” I roll my eyes at him and give him a quick kiss.  “Go wake everyone up and give them a bottle, then tell them brunch is ready.”
“Even Kaira?” he asks as he scoops up the other bottles in his arms.
“Did Kaira drink last night?” I ask sarcastically and he glares at me as he walks away, bottles of red liquid sloshing in his bear hug.  I sit back at the table and start picking at my own plate while I wait for Carlisle to come back.  Kaira is actually the first to come down, she drowsily snatches up a plate and continues out the other door to the bar downstairs.  As Carlisle walks in, empty handed, I see a look of horror in his eyes.  For some reason, it makes me giggle.  “What the hell is wrong with you?”  He slaps his hands to his face and throws his head back with a groan.
“I just walked in on Liam and his boyfriend,” he confesses with agony in his voice.  I burst out in laughter and he looks at me with fierce eyes and red cheeks.  “That is not funny, it’s horrible!  I’m scarred for life!”
“Should have knocked,” I chide and grab my plate.  He numbly grabs his own and we walk down to the bar together.  We sit on either side of Kaira and I ask her how her bag was going.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she mumbles bitterly.  I smile, wrap my arm around her shoulders and give her a squeeze.  One by one the boys join us down at the bar save Liam and Derick.  I don’t blame them.  Jack comes down with his lady friend and everyone looks at her, just like the first day I was here.  She blushes slightly and waves bashfully, introducing herself as Lisa.  She has shoulder length, wavy brown hair, brown eyes, tan skin, and a shy smile.  She’s petite, maybe only 5’5” and 110 pounds soaking wet, but when Jack wraps his arm around her waist, she gives him a loving smile and my heart melts at their connection.
“Jack!  We always thought you were gay!” Zach, the happy go lucky, dreamy, blondie exclaims, and stands up.
“I feel so lied to!” Mason gasps.
“Oh, stop being so dramatic,” Jack scolds playfully at his sons and Zach laughs, but Mason just sits there with his jaw open, still dumbfounded.  “Where is Liam?  I want her to meet everybody.”  I look at Carlisle and his horror stricken eyes look a thousand yards through the bar top.  Mason isn’t the only dramatic one.
“I’ll go get him,” I volunteer and dash up the stairs.  Before I can even knock on the door, a half clothed boy pulls it open.  I didn’t really realized it before, but Derick is a knock out.  Maybe it was because he was shirtless, with open jeans barely being held up by his hips, and his shaggy just fucked hair.  Or maybe his wash board abs and his perfectly toned arms and his perfect complexion.  And I didn’t realize it until he was this close to me, but he isn’t white, well at least fully.  His complexion is very light for being black.  Or maybe… it’s all of the above reasons.
Hm.  Yes.
My insides moan.
He grins and pulls me into the room.  It smells too sweet in here not to get embarrassed.  I couldn’t even look over at Liam.  My eyes stay locked on his gorgeous boyfriend.  Liam is so lucky.
“I’ve been wanting to see you for a while, and your sister.  You two seem so interesting.  You say she has a tree on her back?  Lots of people have trees.  But you have a YingYang, that’s weird,” he rambles on.  Am I staring?  I think so.  He’s so… alluring.  I shook my head free of impure thoughts.
“Um, later maybe?” I ask.  “Jack wants us all downstairs to meet his girlfriend.  Well, at least Liam.”  Derick pouts a perfect chiseled lip and I bite the inside of mine. Don’t moan.  Don’t moan.  Don’t moan!  I rush out of the room and back down to the bar.
It had to be his pheromones.  Maybe he has a spell on.  Maybe it was just smelling all that honey.  My hormones swoon.  I haven’t thought of anyone like that since I met Carlisle.  He’s the only one that makes me feel like that, usually.  I shake off the guilty thoughts and rush back to the bar.
I sat next to Kaira and I try not to look over at Carlisle, still feeling guilty about what I was thinking.  Everyone had finished eating by the time Liam and Derick had come down and they sat down just in time to see Jack propose.
She said yes.
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April 21
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