It’s No Game

Ⅱ.7: The Stars in Her Eyes

by Queen Fiona

Tags: #D/s #dom:female #f/f #hypnosis #pov:top #sub:female #gamemechanics #multiple_partners #mystery #romantic #second_person #worldbuilding
See spoiler tags : #bad_thoughts #corruption #cuties #cyberpunk #minced_swears #superhero #yurification

There’s a merciful gap, between Korri’s departure and Stella’s arrival. Enough to take care of certain urges, and wash up before Stella gets here. You’ve changed up; you finally figured out how to get one of those long-sleeved, bare-midriff, high-décolletage shirts to not look awful on you thanks to Gamer’s Body, so you put on that dark navy top you got ages ago; you kinda wish your stomach was more defined, but it is what it is. You’ve got the same choker you were wearing with Milia on, tight shorts, and these cute blue LED earrings…

You do look a bit good, you think, but is it any cuter than usual? It’s still Cibele in the mirror, after all.

When Stella arrives at your doorstep, she shakes off her umbrella – another day of heavy rainfall in Southern Sun – and sighs, looking for all the world like she’d rather be at a funeral than here with you. As ever, she’s wearing corsets and petticoats and other clothing that seems ill suited to the climate; as ever, you wonder why.

You finally have that chance, but even so…

“Um, hello!” you say, greeting Stella with a deep bow. “No one else is here, so make yourself at home!” (You half wonder, are they all secretly cheering you on? M-maybe they’re hoping for love…)

“Sure,” Stella mutters, not meeting you with her gaze. “I didn’t think you’d have a giant house like this. Your parents are rich, then?”

You shrug. “There’s a lot of us here, usually. Some good jobs, sure, but it’s a cooperative effort, you know?”

As she steps past you, delicately removing her shoes and setting her umbrella aside, Stella says nothing. Even with your telepathy, against that sharp hostility, you can sense no conscious thought…just an emotion of distaste, and frustration.

And, maybe just one other thing:

“You look different,” Stella says as she turns to you, narrowing her golden eyes. “Did you do something with your hair?”

Your telepathy confirms what you already could guess – that you’re much, much cuter in her eyes than you were the last time she saw you. Enough to even distract her, if only momentarily, from the fact that she hates your guts!

…well then.

Tempting as it is to tell her you didn’t do shit with your hair (it’s not swearing if it’s a direct quote!), you shake your head. “Nope! I’m the same Cibele, you know?”

“…right.” Stella turns back around, wandering into the kitchen without a care, trying to dismiss that sensation. If it’s you, it doesn’t matter how cute you are – Cibele is Cibele, and Cibele is someone she hates. No matter what.

All that said, if Stella’s going to act like that…maybe a bit of turnabout is fair play.


As you guide Stella into the basement storeroom you’ve been spending so much time in, the nest of collected digital detritus of console generations and media formats past sitting proudly beneath your TV, you gesture to the couch and the chairs. “Sit anywhere you like. You can go first!”

Like you expected, Stella is surprised by the suggestion, but it only makes sense to you. It’s not on the surface well enough to be read (or maybe you just need to train your Adaptability?), but you’re sure she’d have been totally on edge if you went first. Besides which, this way, you can get a feel for what Stella thinks works in hypnosis, which means it’ll be useful on her to make her associate your words more with ‘being hypnotised’.

“If you’re sure – but don’t think I’ll let you get away with anything weird, still, got it? Let me just set up the camera.” Stella slips out of her handbag…oh, wow. You haven’t seen a standalone action camera in a very long time. Looks kinda old, too. (Maybe Stella’s a collector? You don’t know all her hobbies!) It screws atop the tripod you’ve set up just fine, so you’ll just trust she knows what she’s doing with it!

(You had the tripod set up earlier, of course, to film your first time with Korri. For…for completely innocent reasons. Honest.)

“But, I think – um, before we start. I’ve been told the most important part of hypnosis is trust!” You fidget a bit – despite all your new talents, none of this can prepare you for your nerves. You don’t mind being subject to Stella’s words, but even so, you need to satisfy your anxieties a little. “Do you…do you trust me, Stella?”

Stella sighs, but she doesn’t even blink as she replies to you, checking the camera. “I trust you not to sabotage my grades, and in exchange, you trust I won’t sabotage yours. Prisoner’s dilemma.”

Huh. That makes sense! Stella may be mean to you, but she’s no idiot. It’s in her best interest to be nice to you for the duration of this project, such that Ms. Yi will not tank her grades, valuable as they are to her. She’s a noble, so a scholarship shouldn’t be entirely necessary…but maybe she wants to be a bit self-reliant, or she needs that extra boost to get into the program she desires most. And Ms. Yi’s right; Stella does need to learn how to put her personal feelings aside, and she knows it too.

She seems…

conflicted.

What is it, that Stella Maris is hiding?

You shouldn’t dismiss Stella’s talents. Stella may obsess over her grades, but they happen to be extremely good, with only Psychology as a black mark – and indeed, Psychology is the only place you get to beat her. (Not that you like treating school as a competition; it feels so needlessly cruel…) Ms. Yi has said this is Stella’s area of interest when it comes to her ambitions to become a therapist, so you expect she’s going to do quite well – not as well as you can, but given the fact that you’re cheating, she’s earned it all the more.

“Are you ready, Cibele?” Stella quickly chugs down a bit of a glass she’s left for herself. You can feel the hostility toward you, through her telepathy, but her voice is smooth and secure; you suspect Ms. Yi’s worries are a bit unfounded. “If you are, please lie down, and get comfortable for me.”

But, really. When she’s turning on her ‘therapist mode’ and not trying to remind you constantly how she despises your very presence? It’s like, night and day when Stella isn’t trying to be a witch! She’s actually pretty charming, when she’s not prickly…you’ve seen it before when she’s with others, of course, but hearing it directly is something else.

No wonder Stella’s so popular. Even if the rumors about, um, her sexual prowess aren’t true…you can imagine that for anyone but you, simply being around her is a joy.

(…so, why you?)

As you lie down on your comfy couch, as instructed, you smile as sweetly as you can up at Stella, whose overall confusion over the situation of your enhanced cuteness seems to be a great asset to you. And Stella stands over you, blonde ringlets barely held out of place of her eyes; she gets out her phone, and…

…a spiral? Really?

“…it’s just a visual aid,” Stella mutters, as if half in apology.

Yep, looking at her phone, it’s some kind of spiral animation app, and at the very least a good one. Spirals aren’t really inherently hypnotic, of course, any more than a pendulum or a stopwatch is. It’s more a memetic association, one which can be useful – but no more so than anything else you can use as a focus, with the right subject.

“Please, breathe deeply for me, Cibele,” Stella says, her own voice taking on that gentle, yet authoritative tone. Her malice is pushed aside, in favor of professionalism and pride; that, at least, is something she cares about more than pushing you away. “When I tell you to breathe in, breathe in. When I tell you to breathe out, breathe out.”

You nod, already trying to slow your breathing. “Okay.”

“Alright, Cibele. Follow my words, okay? Breathe in…” You breathe deeply in at Stella’s instruction, holding the air in your lungs.

“…and out.” You exhale for Stella, all the air in your lungs expelled, and hold it that way. Just a little air hunger, and then…

“In…” Inhale.

“…and out.” Exhale.

“Time your breathing like that, okay?” You nod, slowly, as you listen to Stella’s instructions. “Now, watch the spiral, Cibele.”

You focus your eyes on the spiral pattern, when Stella draws your attention to it. It’s more of a fractal, really. Quite pleasing, quite pretty…well, Stella has an eye for that kind of thing. You’ve learned a lot about Stella in your attempts to understand her. She loves music, as much as you – that’s the reason you wanted to get to know her in the first place. She has a deep interest in fashion design of all kinds (which makes her heavy style of dress all the stranger). She’s got Buddhist tendencies, and often speaks of meditation and putting aside her temptation; more than once, she’s helped pull people away from unhealthy distractions. She knows tea ceremony, and loves coffee, and cooking…she has so much passion, Stella is just, as amazing a person as Calvina is in her own way – someone who puts her all into everything she does. Even something like this, something she’s only doing out of obligation to further her real goal.

…if only her passion could be for you. If only her eyes would turn your way.

“In…” In. “…and out.” Out. “Watching the spiral. Focusing on the spiral. As you breathe in relaxation, and breathe out tension.”

…mmm…maybe Stella’s had hypnotherapy before? this seems…woah…kinda like something like that…

“Watching the spiral. Focusing on the spiral. Letting your tension drain away. Letting yourself focus only on the spiral.”

…maybe it’s because you’re helping the process along with your knowledge, but…mm. you think you’re getting hypnotised. you think your body is growing heavier under her words, even if you’re helping. stella is…quite good, you think.

“That’s good. Body relaxing. Mind relaxing. Focused. Relaxed.”

stella proceeds like that, bringing you further, drawing your focus into her. it’s not exceptionally deep, you’re still in control. but it’s enough. it’ll satisfy ms. yi, at least. stella seems surprised, too…why? she’s not bad…mm. you’re better, but you’re cheating. stella’s amazing…

stella leads you down, counts you down. “…and one. Completely entranced.”

maybe not as completely as she hopes…but it feels nice.

being hypnotised feels kinda nice too…you don’t want anyone to really be in control of you like future-past-you wants, not really, but…maybe if it’s someone you trust completely, or already control…?

you think of how hot korri looked, when entranced, and you consider: you probably look super hot right now.

“Does it feel good, Cibele?”

you nod.

stella bites her lip…mn. can’t…skim her like this. gotta…focus on her “Alright. Cibele, I’m going to ask you something. Is that okay?”

you nod.

“Cibele…what kind of person do you want to be?”

“mm. wanna be…the kind of person people listen to.” that’s…true.

“What kind of things do you want to do?”

“wanna…wanna help people.” you manage to compartmentalize the stuff you shouldn’t say to her, the bad thoughts, about how you would help them with your power. “wanna make people happy, wanna spread good ideas and thoughts. wanna help the people i love. wanna make the world a better place.”

stella pauses, for a moment. you can see in her eyes a strange feeling. is it really that strange…? that you wanna help? you’ve said as much before…

it takes her a little to ask you her last question.

“Why are you…why are…why…” stella is trying so hard to be nice, but you can tell she doesn’t want to be, in this moment. “Why are you…so nice to people all the time? So nice to me?

(‘even though i’m a bitch to you’, she doesn’t say.)

“why…shouldn’t i be nice?” you smile, brightly, showing your passion to the girl you love. “mm. the world is such an awful place sometimes…people are so mean to one another, all the time, every day. being nice…being kind…it means so much. if i can make someone smile…”

you don’t need to lie. you’d have told her when you were conscious, if she ever asked. does she…does she really not trust people? does she really think you need some kind of ulterior motive? what an awful life she must lead…

you wish you could hug her.

“…I see. Thank you for answering my questions, Cibele.”

“of course…” you want to hug her, and kiss her, and tell her everything’s alright…

“Now, I’m going to count you up from 1 to 10, and when I reach 10…”

…Stella counts you up, but you barely need the count. You’re easily able to pull yourself back into consciousness, thanks to your knowledge.

“Wake up, Cibele,” Stella says at last, clapping her hands loudly, but by that point you’re already well out of trance. You nod and smile to her as you sit up, rubbing your eyes and yawning to get the last of your ‘sleepiness’ out. Stella goes to her action camera and stops the recording, removing it from the tripod and replacing it with your phone clip once more.

Stella didn’t try to do anything with you under trance, but…you did say something she didn’t expect. (And you don’t need your telepathy to tell that, either.)

Did she think ill of you? Perhaps, that you were only kind to her to get to know her? That you were that kind of person…you can’t really blame her for thinking that, but to think that she got such a warped image of you still makes you the slightest bit sad.

“That…that should do well enough for my grade, Cibele, thank you,” Stella says, barely a whisper.

Indeed…given the advanced topic, you’re sure Ms. Yi would give Stella a great grade even though she didn’t go into more depth, especially since Stella did a lot of relaxation exercises in the process.

…and Stella averts her gaze from you, unable to know what to think, unable to dive right into the second half of this assignment – still needing to lead herself up to trusting you with that. “L-let’s take a break. Can I have some more water before we continue?”

(Stella really can’t look you in the eye after that, huh?)

“Of course!” You flash a peace sign, and Stella can’t even muster any snark – you’re able to quickly nip up to the kitchen to refill both your glasses. You can be happy the first half of the assignment was successful, and you didn’t say anything too weird that made her question this (or you). That’s a big win!

(It’s just…was it really that odd?)

(What kind of world does Stella reside in, that your honesty shakes her so?)


As you pop back down the stairs and pass Stella her ice water, you can see just how shaken she really is. Now that you’ve proven yourself to her, Stella seems to be deeply conflicted by your words, by your honest desire. Even when you Skim her with your telepathy, the sharpness, the hostility is no longer what it was before. Stella really didn’t believe you were just nice because you were nice, rather than trying to lie or manipulate people with it, or whatever other reason she might have to believe what you believe.

Without saying a word, Stella takes a drink, and swallows heavily. Trying to process her feelings – trying to process herself. Scared, of the gap between what she assumed and what she saw; eyes glancing over at you nervously, as she tries to muster up those same defenses she had before. Hedgehog’s dilemma, huh?

Right now, that feeling of wanting to trust you – even if only a little bit – it’s quiet. It’s fragile. Stella could so easily fall back into old habits. If only something could be done to help her –

…wait.

That little sense, that small little sense of how your Suggestion works, lights up a little within your mind. As if the imagined librarian you’ve invented to explain the nature of your power is just…nudging you and giving a little hint.

A Suggestion is a request that the subject, the target, of that spell would allow herself to fulfill. What you did with Percy suggest it’s something she might not necessarily do even if she wants to, for any number of reasons – as if you’re simply peeling away the layers of hesitation and protection we all wrap ourselves within to keep from doing what we know is best.

Stella’s eyes glance back at you. Her mind is still silent, no surface words for you to grasp, and yet you can feel something threatening to drag her back down. As you can feel that she doesn’t want to be the kind of person she’s been. As she needs, so badly, someone to tell her that it’s okay, to trust someone…

It might be a little teensy bit unethical, but…if it’s something like this, can you really say no? Poor Stella really does need to believe someone is kind; if it’s a power like this, isn’t this so much a better use of it than what future-past-you has wanted?

(It’s not on camera right now, so it should be fine…Ms. Yi will just think Stella was truly convinced rather than just sorta halfway. It’s not like you can tell you’re using such a power…)

Stella’s gaze catches yours as you drink the water…and right then and there, you decide.

You look Stella in the eyes, your brown meeting her gold. And as your lips part, ever so slightly – you feel the world, the air around you, shift as your Suggestion upon Stella’s mind. You don’t need words, this time. As your pressure reaches out, to caress that prickly, overprotective brain of hers, and…soften it. Just a little. Just in this one moment, to change a part of Stella for the better, so she can love again.

Stella’s pupils dilate, in a moment that feels like it lasts forever – a moment that feels so wonderful, as you directly make contact with Stella’s beautiful mind – and after that forever, she blinks, a faint sense of confusion coming over her through your telepathy. Smoothed over, if only just; as if you’d blunted those spines, enough to allow yourself to reach deeper into her beautiful brain.

It’s natural enough, though, that she interprets it as an extension of her own feelings:

…what if Cibele’s not lying?

That Stella is merely coming to ‘realize’ you’re not lying, and truly do believe what you say – and now, trying to process what that means for her.

You smile, a little, despite yourself, as you sip your own glass of water.

It’s not going to be a simple process, you think – or at least, you guess, not knowing your full potential, nor what your hypnosis can do with your crush, Stella Maris –

but you feel confident, that there is one thing you can ask of her.

“…do you need a hug, Stella?”

Stella blinks, the shock obvious on her face – but she mutters ‘sure’ before she can think to refuse, her need for comfort in this confusion overriding the rest of her thoughts. As she considers, for once:

maybe, Cibele isn’t so bad.

You wrap your arms right around Stella, and squeeze her tight, feeling her warmth, her wonder, all in your arms, in your hands. Even if it’s not something like ‘love’, maybe this is enough?

You really, really hope you can help Stella.

“…right,” Stella mutters, pulling away from the hug the moment she feels it’s appropriate. You can tell she feels at least a little good about it, or at least she’s confused that she allowed it or didn’t hate it. The confusion might help your trance, but you do hope she won’t be confused by kindness much longer…

“Maybe we should have a coffee first?” she offers, and immediately Stella tries to restore some of her sharper edge – tries to put her defenses back up, even getting a smug grin on her face. (Still, that’s not a scowl – it’s progress!) “Make us cafe da. I’m sure someone like you can handle something like that, no?”

Okay, that was tsundere. Seems like a reaction to the confusion, but…it seems like a new development. One that’s a result of your Suggestion and your honesty – and it suggests you’re making a big impact already!

“Of course! My siblings all say I make the best coffee, I’ll go ge–”

bzzt-bzzt

“Oh, sorry, that’s my phone!” You quickly reach onto the table as the ringtone goes off –

♪ We are / I’ve come apart and you made me

– and Stella’s head whips toward the spontaneous music as if she’d heard a fire alarm go off! “Wha–”

Olá!“ you say as you answer the call, even as your eyes swing toward Stella, because you could just feel that sense of psychic stress coming off her, without even needing to actively look for it. You talk with one of your little sisters about what they’re bringing home for dinner (it’s southern fried seitan!)…but your eye catches Stella’s, and you seek out why.

Of course. Of course it had to be that. The minute I start thinking I shouldn’t look at her like I’m seeing Marina’s ghost, I hear that song, and it has to be Marina’s cover, too –

No.

No way.

No, no way. Gotta, gotta turn around just in case! Gotta ask about how mom’s doing, eheh, gotta not show any evidence you just read Stella’s mind and discovered something amazing.

Stella Maris – the Stella you know, the Stella who seems rather ordinary for someone so extraordinary – is the ex-girlfriend, is the ex of Marina fudging Arisa, the number one independent idol of the future of Southern Sun?! That Marina? The one whose concert you missed that day you had a fateful encounter with a truck, the one where she opened for one of her number one musical inspirations, the one who wrote the song she covered and you’ve set as your ringtone for those rare occasions you actually need a phone call? That Marina? Cerulean-haired artificial idol Marina, who Stella broke up with years ago, and Stella could’ve even given Marina that name –

no, no, focus. This isn’t something to freak out about. This is…

this is something to make use of, you think, as you talk to your family on the phone, and begin to wonder, just how it is you might grasp Stella’s head in your hands…


One phone call, and two cafe da later, you come down and place the cups on the table. Stella sips hers, trembling ever so faintly, and you Skim her as she does, to see if that incident with Marina’s voice and song has undone your Suggestion –

…fuck. It’s really good.

– apparently not, thankfully! Not yet, anyway. And coffee’s not the only thing you’re good at, of course; you quietly smile to yourself, forgetting your guilt for just a moment as you imagine just, how good it’ll feel with Stella…

So, you begin your own recording for Ms. Yi’s assignment; placing your phone on the tripod cradle, making sure the video’s framed properly, then pressing record. While you were upstairs, you grabbed your tablet reader and downloaded that fractal-spiral app Stella used, which you are now setting up as Stella gives you a skeptical glare.

Oh, to be sure, you try your best to be a good person. But that doesn’t mean you’re not above playing a trick from time to time, or fighting dirty if you have to. If it doesn’t hurt anyone, or it’s for the greater good…and you think helping Stella not hate herself or others is definitely a situation of the ‘greater good’.

So you’re going to beat Stella at her own game. You’re going to show you why it is Ms. Yi is so fond of you.

“…I can’t believe you’re using the same trick I used on you,” Stella mutters, looking utterly unconvinced as she settles into the couch, placing down her cup. “It’s not going to work so easily when I just did it…or are you really that unoriginal?” Getting up on the defensive again, but –

you’ve got this. You can pull Stella in, with the talent future-past-you has granted you.

You hold the phone up over your mouth, just below your eyes, and look into Stella’s own. “That’s right, Stella. Looking at the spiral won’t hypnotise you, right?” That same voice again, powerful, authoritative, so different from your nerves and your hesitation.

“…right,” Stella says, clearly not knowing where you’re going with this, even as her eyes are drawn to the tablet.

“That’s right. Looking at the spiral won’t hypnotise you. So you don’t have to look at the spiral. You can just listen to my words, and not look at the spiral, and you won’t be hypnotised.”

“I…huh…?”

“You don’t want to be hypnotised by the spiral, right? So just listen to my words. Think of my words. Think of my words, don’t look at the spiral, don’t get hypnotised. Because you don’t want to be hypnotised.”

“…don’t want…?”

“That’s right. You don’t want to be hypnotised, so you won’t be hypnotised. You don’t want to look at the spiral, so you won’t look at the spiral. And if you don’t want to be hypnotised, you won’t realize you’re already being hypnotised, and you’re already sinking.”

“sinking”

“You won’t realize you’re already sinking, and you’ve been sinking since I started talking to you, I’ve been hypnotising you this entire time, and with each of my words, you sink further, deeper, because you know exactly how it feels. Don’t you, Stella?”

“yes”

“You know exactly how it feels to be hypnotised, so you know how to prevent it. You know if you didn’t want to be hypnotised, you wouldn’t be. So you must want to be hypnotised.”

“…yes…”

“That’s good. Sinking for me. Sinking for my words. Sinking deeper and deeper with my words. No need for a spiral, just my voice. No need to think, just sink.”

“no need to think”

“Sink.”

“sink”

…woah.

What the heck did you just do?

It came naturally to you. Not the technique, but the attitude – not simply something your library gave you, but you, yourself. Just…doing it like that…it was so natural, so nice, so good. And Stella…

Stella is slumped on the couch, eyes hazily focused on the spiral, mouth hanging open, legs splayed. Drooling. You can get a haze of shock, of desire, even faint – c-could that be arousal? C-could it be…?

You…kinda want to check if she’s wet, but that would almost certainly cause the trance to be broken and a bunch of other bad things, so you file that under ‘Bad Thoughts’ for a later date.

Either way, Stella’s definitely done this before. Maybe casually, online, maybe with a partner…once again the people around you have a greater interest in such things than you could have imagined. (Or, did future-past-you get told by Ms. Yi? Was she, herself, tempted…?)

You’re sure you can imagine Stella and one of her partners doing such things, maybe even Marina from all those years ago – no! Bad thoughts! Bad thoughts! You’ve got a subject right here, focus on her instead!

You guide Stella further, whisper to her as she sinks, as you see her legs spead more, her lips part more, her everything just – just in awe, because of your increased Charisma (and you cannot deny any longer that she finds you cuter, hotter, sexier now), able to Skim to use her own thoughts and desires against her mind as those prickly defenses quickly become no impediment to your will. Unlike Korri, Stella has a much more extensive idea of what hypnosis ‘is’, though it’s certainly broad enough for you to do whatever you wish.

You can also feel the sexual desire beneath her, dampened by her negative feelings toward you, but buoyed by the fact that those feelings are changing from your Suggestion and increased Charisma. That Stella’s feelings, for you, are changing.

She’s in a volatile state, right now. That can be exploited.

…fudge, you aren’t a great person sometimes. But, if it’s Stella…

“…Stella Maris,” you say, adopting the authority you’ve come to realize she responds to. That she wishes for, deep in her heart. “How do you feel?”

“deep,” she practically drools out. Fudge, she’s just…she’s so sexy. Her dess can’t hide her curves, her voice, her talent, she’s just – she’s so amazing, and she’s yours, if only for a time, deep for your words…

“Does it feel good to be deep?” you ask, just skirting the edges of Ms. Yi’s instruction for therapeutic trance only. (No matter how badly you want to cross that line.)

“yes,” Stella breathes.

“Will you allow me to ask you something, Stella?”

“yes”

…if it’s like this, there’s only one thing you can ask.

“…why do you hate me so much?” Even if she doesn’t so much anymore, it’s still an important question if you want to change her opinion – one that, if it were anyone but Ms. Yi watching, the Ms. Yi you trust implicitly, you’d never dare to ask.

“…just…you’re always so nice to everyone all the time,” she says. “even people who were mean to you just a few years ago, or are mean to you. or people who don’t deserve it, or strangers. as long as they say sorry. It…it pissed me off…”

“Does it not anymore?”

“…dunno yet.”

Well, it’s a start.

It seems kind of…almost petty. Hating someone for being ‘too nice’. Is that the world Stella’s lived in? Is that the world in her mind?

Changing it…maybe…maybe it is helping her. Maybe…

Maybe you can forgive yourself, if it’s this.

“…is there anything you want, Stella? How do you want others to see you?” You’re sure she’s got some objective with how she acts, how she wears her feelings on her sleeve, how she tries to project herself.

“wanna be respected…wanna be seen as a proper noble. don’t want anyone to think otherwise. i want the authority i deserve…”

…those words are vague. But they open up the truth. Within her mind’s eye, when you ask that, you can see her grasping the true shape of her desire – and what it is she fears.

Stella’s a noble, of course. You knew that. You figured she was at Verwest because it was one of the best schools, money or otherwise; twenty years ago, people would come to Verwest from as far as Old England to study. But…

But Stella’s not rich. Far from it, in fact.

It’s not a story that’s well-known outside the jet set, it seems, but the value of the Maris land – that which gave them a ‘noble’ title on the establishment of Southern Sun – crashed rapidly in Stella’s childhood, with estimates of how long the shores of the islands would last before being swallowed beneath the rising tide quickly proving overly optimistic. Stella isn’t just ‘not rich’ – she’s significantly less well off than your family is, working part time simply to make ends meet.

Stella fell in love with a girl from another ‘noble’ family – truly, madly, deeply – but one fatal misunderstanding, and Stella was not only alone, but doomed to obscurity forever…unless she took her studies seriously.

You, yourself, a reflection of something like ‘hope’…something Stella could never allow herself to have again.

So bitter, so hurt. You never imagined Stella carried such a pain inside her, so well she hid her wounds – the only outward sign her manner of dress, as if daring the world to deny her a place in it…and the passion with which she pursued her studies, that she might prove to the world she’s worthy of its love.

But you can help her. She’s not alone anymore.

“…does it make you happy, though?” you ask, after processing all those Skimmed images in a single moment.

“…huh…?”

“Trying to project this authority, trying to be powerful, trying to make sure no one sees the real you.” (That…should be something you could have just inferred. Hopefully neither Stella nor Ms. Yi notices.) “Doesn’t that push people away from you?”

“…does it…?” Stella blinks, hesitantly. As you try to speak to her, within something that resembles her soul, deep within hypnotic trance.

“People should like you for what you are. Who you are. What you want, what you need, what you think and desire.” After all, you do. For all that you had that childish conception Stella might have a crush on you, it wasn’t for nothing that you had such feelings for her. Physical attraction alone isn’t just what you wanted, it was…more.

If she was rejected, even by such an amazing person, it’s not her failing, is it? Not when it was never her actions in the first place.

You almost want to cry, for the sake of Stella’s pain.

But you don’t.

“…i don’t understand…” she whispers.

“It’s okay, Stella. I’m here for you. Would you like me to hold your hand?”

You think, for a moment, she’s going to refuse you.

But she doesn’t.

“…okay.”

You reach out, and take Stella’s hand in yours. You lower the tablet, and smile, squeezing that warm hand tightly.

Stella smiles back – the brightest expression you’ve ever seen her give you.

You’ve done so much for her…

“You can be loved, you deserve love, and it’s okay to be loved.”

“okay.”

You hold her hand like that, for a little while. You’re sure Ms. Yi will be more than satisfied. But, you need to do this for your own sake, too…

And the feelings are mixed up enough that you can still exploit them.

“I’m going to help you, Stella. I’m going to give you a trance trigger. Is that okay?”

Skimming reveals her reluctance, but…your progress is enough to let her relent. “okay.”

“Can you repeat after me?”

“mhm.”

You brush Stella’s hand with your fingers, to help keep the words from hitting her the wrong way. “If we sink, we lift our love.”

Stella can’t know that you’ve Skimmed her. Only the briefest sensation of hesitation, before even her subconscious realizes you could never know the truth of that association, of that song Marina loved and sang for her – and remembers the good memories, too, of the one she loved. “if we sink, we lift our love…”

All those associations she has, you’re now using them for your benefit. For her benefit. Because you’re helping her.

(…maybe if you say that enough, you’ll believe it.)

“When I tell you ‘If we sink’, I want you to say…”

“we lift our love.”

“Exactly. And you will sink. Just like you have now. If we sink…”

“we lift our love.”

Stella smiles. You’ve managed to flow around the negative associations, and toward the positive ones – the positive memories of love, of desire, of shared moments and erotic thoughts. Not to mention her personal interests. All of it tied together to you, to your power over her.

(You really are cheating, huh?)

You can already tell, that she’s got an anxiety about what she’ll think when she resurfaces, but you decide to push a little further. (Ms. Yi won’t mind, right?) “Alright, Stella, you can forget this trance if you wish. You can let your worries melt.”

“okay.” You can tell Stella’s kind of relieved by the idea. She’s not sure what her conscious mind will think…poor girl.

“Good girl,” you slip in, and Stella smiles. (Okay, that was on purpose.) “Let’s wake you up now, okay?”

“Okay…”

The smile on her face, on her beautiful hypnotised face, is so perfect, that you almost regret having to stop. You count Stella up, and as you clap, she blinks, and blushes a little. Seems she didn’t forget all of it~!

“How do you feel, Stella?” you ask, suddenly nervous that her conscious mind might have a negative reaction. Stella looks down at herself, and your telepathy reveals a complex blend of emotions – positive, but conflicted. An entire world has unraveled for her under your words and voice, and she doesn’t know what to think…

Stella’s not…hateful or disgusted, though. You can tell that you’ve helped lift a burden from her – helped her, in some small way, see a world of kindness as something that doesn’t need to be responded to with rejection.

You’ve…you’ve helped someone even if you’re not entirely innocent or pure about it, you can still be happy…

“I’m…I’m okay,” Stella whispers, trying to downplay things. “You were…you were surprisingly kind.”

“I just want to help,” you say, flashing a peace sign at Stella!

(…okay, that’s a lie. You wanted to, and still want to, do so much more than simply ‘help’.)

“I see. Well…” Your subject brushes herself off – as if she’s trying to dust the cobwebs from her mind – even as she’s unable to entirely give up on her pride in just one day. Or, maybe…”That was surprisingly alright. And…”

“And?” You giggle a bit, unable to keep from the giddy, warm feeling you get from being able to show Stella what you are, being able to connect with her, being able to show her a new world…

“A-and perhaps I wouldn’t mind repeating the experience.”

!

A-ah, really?! Such a powerful turnaround already? Is it your Charisma? Is it your skills? Is it just being able to show Stella a new side of you!? Y-you don’t know how to take it, your cheeks are red…

“If you like,” you say, laughing nervously, even as you flash a peace sign. “Cibele Epeli Imanis, hypnotherapist, is here for you!”

Stella says nothing in return, but she picks up her coffee and sips, as if to find the words…

“…the coffee is good, by the way.”

…that might be the most honest Stella has been in years.

And this is just with your opening skills.

What can you do with more…?

“Well, there is one more thing I should do,” you say. I-it might be a bit much, but…you can’t very well install a trigger and not test it, right?

“Hmph. I need to get home soon, but…” Somehow, Stella can’t resist. “Maybe a small something wouldn’t hurt.”

You smile at your subject. At the one you’ve changed, you’ve helped.

(The one you want, so badly, so deep in your core.)

“If we sink –”

“– we lift our love,” Stella says, and her eyes go blank. Her lips part. Her legs spread. As if you’d cut her strings.

Fffffuuuuuuuuuc-er, fudge that’s hot.

Stella’s back in trance, and…and she’s so sexy, and she’s so vulnerable, and you can feel the feelings toward you growing more and more…fond? It’s like you’ve made a 180, and by tying yourself to previous crushes and lusts and fetishes, you’ve become…appealing?

…no.

Not just ‘appealing’.

As your telepathic touch reaches for Stella, the spines part for your ‘hand’, and you can feel a sense of desire. She’s dated, and slept with, plenty of women over the past few years – but her emotions have always been closed, like this, and someone like you….physically, emotionally, mentally, you’ve become someone she wants.

Ba-thump.

“…are you attracted to me, Stella Maris?” you ask, bringing your voice back to hypnotic authority.

“…i…” Stella sways, a little, in her tranced state. “…you somehow…i don’t know how, but you’re so much cuter than you were last week, and…and maybe you’re actually as nice as you act, you’re not just trying to…project…and now i wonder if you have girlfriends of your own, and…”

Ba-thump.

“I don’t,” you say.

“…really?”

“Really.”

Stella just…stares into space some more. Her lips are slightly parted, such a pretty glossy pink, and they look so soft. Stella is utterly entranced, under your thrall, so sexy. So lovely. So perfect.

You want to kiss her. You want, to take this moment, to take this single moment and reach her. You know you shouldn’t, no matter how much she in this moment is thinking the same thing – no matter how, in her mind, she wonders, if everything she knew before was wrong, if she might want to touch you, and do more –

Fudge.

You can’t help it. You can’t help it at all. Her mind pulses with the possibilities of your Charisma-enhanced beauty, of the truths you’ve revealed to her, of what you did to her mind so effortlessly –

and your lips meet hers.

Lips against lips, for the briefest of moments. She’s so soft, her lips are soft, her cheeks are soft, her everything is amazing. Stella Maris, the girl you’ve wanted so much, is here, being kissed, by you.

Hypnotised like this, she can’t do much but allow it. Enough for you to taste her, your tongue settling along the taste left upon her lips and tongue, and…you…

you just had your first kiss!

With a hypnotised girl!

…that…you’d never thought about it, but that seems like an amazing first kiss…

You pull away, after a moment. Your breath is hot, and your body is filled with desire

but you’re unable to bring yourself to do anything more. Not like this. Not without asking her, talking to her. Even this was too much, even this was, no matter how warm the feelings within you are –

“…wake up, Stella,” you whisper, so quiet you aren’t even sure she can hear, as you tremble with the realization of what you’ve done.

And Stella wakes up, immediately.

She doesn’t get startled and jump back, or yell at you for doing this to her, or anything like that. The possibility doesn’t even occur to her.

Instead, she just…touches her lips. Touches where you kissed her. You, Cibele Epeli Imanis, the girl she – only a short while ago – hated completely and utterly.

The air fills with silence, but it’s easy to see her thoughts.

No hatred. No desire to push away. Only confusing, a bit of fear, and not knowing whether she could ever go back to the way things were.

And after a moment, Stella just…looks aside, and retrieves her camera and phone to her purse. Trying to avert her gaze, yet her face is filled with a blush, and her thoughts keep looping back around toward the kiss. Your kiss. Your kiss as she allowed herself to be entranced, and couldn’t even bring herself to push away, even as she never asked – even as you saw that desire in her mind, and wordlessly answered it without thinking.

“…sorry. It’s late. And your family will be here soon, right?” Stella says. “I’ll…

“I’ll see you in class, okay?”

“…okay.” You find yourself touching your own lips, hesitantly, with your fingertips.

Stella gives you one last look, brow furrowed, as if she should try and remember what she felt of you before –

but she just walks away. Out of the basement, out of the house. Without saying another word.

Leaving you alone, as you touch your hand to your lips, still tinged with the taste of Stella Maris, and finally realize just how many lines you’ve crossed, all at once, without even considering whether you should. As your desires overtook you, completely, and you let it happen.

What…

what did you do?

For your achievement of your first kiss, you have gained 1 Universal skill point!


Cibele Epeli Imanis
???: The Hypnogamer (Brilliant Star)

Vitality: 1
Strength: 1
Dexterity: 1
Intelligence: 2
Adaptability: 1
Charisma: 2

Skill Points: 1
Gamer System v1.0, all rights reserved
Missing modules: Observe, Level, Skill, Book, Quest, Experience

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