Consummation

Getting in a shower, or taking a swim first thing at the hotel, seemed like a reasonable plan back when Dance didn’t know where they were going for their first night.  That was another of Drin’s secret gifts.  It turns out their first night requires four hours’ drive up scenic coastline, with Drin hugging him and pointing out landmarks in the declining sunset light.  It’s absurdly luxurious, even in sweated formal shirts and very sticky, wet pants.

Drin hits the intercom again, chats with the driver, retrieves sparkling water from the limo’s bar.  There they find gift bags from Shura, fragile lemon meringues and almond cookies and dried fruit and powdery rich truffles in fancy upscale wrappers.  They feed each other crumbly bits, gobbling it up like children ruining their dinner.  Drin pulls out a tiny pocket camera and snaps pictures of Dance smeared with cocoa, laughing, and after he loses the tickle fight, he allows Dance to return the favor.

By the end, the coastline is all invisible in the dark, outlined only in lights shining on the water, while the road switchbacks over invisible drops.

Drin sits sideways with his arms around Dance, breathing drowsily, but not asleep; he kisses Dance now and then, grinning.  It always prompts Dance to start idly humming again.  He doesn’t even realize he’s doing it, sometimes, until it makes Drin chuckle.

Drin’s choice of accommodations is not a hotel.  It’s a cottage at the base of rugged, twisty cliff roads.  The driver opens the limo door for them under the powerful driveway light, grins at their sleepy expressions, and unloads their luggage inside the house while they struggle back into their shoes, stuff straggling ties into pockets.  Once they’ve hoisted themselves out of the limo, the driver salutes Drin with a touch to his cap visor, hands Dance several rings of keys, shakes hands with them both, and drives away.

Clicking the first fob gives no beep noises; it opens the sliding garage door, revealing a red sportscar waiting inside, under the lights.

“Bud’s idea.  Close it up again, we gotta check out this place.  I asked Shura to find somebody to stock up the kitchen so we’ve got stuff to eat right away.  We won’t have to go shopping, or even cook, if you don’t want to.”  Then he pauses, ceremonially, on the winding front sidewalk.  The front door lock clicks open audibly.  “Okay, you got the door, you still wanna– okay.  Is this trick gonna hurt your back?”

“It’s fine now,” Dance says, bending his knees, holding out his hand, and lifting one foot.

Drin lifts his own opposite foot, wraps that leg around Dance’s waist, grips Dance’s shoulders in both hands, and allows Dance’s leg to slide around his hip.  Dance grips the big man’s upper arms.  They rock in place, and the balance settles.

During rehearsal practices, they had joked about each of them trying to lift the other one over the threshold.  Kibitzing by the ladies resulted in trying out this stunt.  Falling over on the lawn in many varieties of potato-sack-race silliness made all of them laugh a lot.

“Okay,” Dance says, grinning.  “You?”

“Solid as rock,” Drin says, sounding surprised.  He frees one hand, pulls his tiny camera from a pocket, and takes a downward picture of them.   “Pictures, or it didn’t happen,” he says, grinning.  Then he tucks it away, chuckling, and he takes a firm grip on Dance’s shoulders.

He lifts and swings Dance around, Dance gets his one allowed foot on the ground, and then they’ve taken a joint step forward on the pathway.  Odd, how the biomechanics depend on the tightness of the grip with the arms, how the pull of lifting muscle has to come from tension higher in the body.  Thankfully, it’s no great effort to swing Drin’s balance around on the pivot of one support leg.  “Your turn!”

“Step up here,” Drin says.

“Got it,” Dance says, and he’s laughing.  “You cheated, you got the threshold!”

“Gotta time these things,” Drin says solemnly, lifting Dance around.

Dance’s shoe gains the dark slatelike tile inside.  “Got it.”  He lifts Drin around–it’s getting easier as they get used to the motions–and stretches up to give him a kiss.  Drin is laughing then, lifting him around, and they’ve got enough room to close the door.  A little push of Dance’s lifted foot closes the door with a click behind them.  Then they’re each standing on their own two feet, arms still holding on tight.

There’s a pause, a check in Drin’s muscles.  His hand flips the deadbolt shut.

“Yes, I know, you did not go look through the whole house first to see it is safe,” Dance says, smiling slowly.

“No, but I had… house plans,” Drin growls at him, bends swiftly, loops one arm around Dance’s knees, and hoists him up bodily over one shoulder with a shout.  “Now, this is more like it!”   Ten quick steps and he’s dropped Dance into a broad soft surface, yanked off the shoes, ripped open his shirt, unzipped him, and yanked off pants and shorts alike, and crawled up between his bare knees.

He’s chuckling as he blows the world’s biggest, wettest raspberry right onto Dance’s belly.

“Arrrgh,” Dance gasps, sock feet flailing.

“I am so going to–” Drin says, flinging himself down onto Dance, blowing tickly raspberries everywhere he can reach.  When he sits up again, his hand pulls out the camera.  He snaps pictures of Dance.

“Yeah?  Promise?” Dance gasps, and rolls them both over.  “These clothes go–now–”

Drin’s socks, shoes, pants, cummerbund, the camera, it all goes flying.  The shirt gets yanked down Drin’s arms, pinning him a bit.  Dance gasps, fighting with the man’s cufflinks, while Drin lays there grinning up at him, trapped between Dance’s bare thighs.  Then the big man twists, bringing Dance down onto his side, wrapping Dance’s hands in the shirt while his own hands magically slide free.  He rolls Dance flat on his back, puts one hand on Dance’s cock and the other slids down, grips hard on butt muscle.

“Oh, oh–” Dance gasps.

Drin whispers into his ear,”Oh, yeah, that’s a promise, you oughta just open wide now–”

“You just let me get my mouth on you–” Dance gasps, jerking, but Drin’s hand keeps pulling on his stiff cock.

“Oh no, I’d never last if I let you suck me,” Drin says.  He lets go of Dance’s cock, pulls up Dance’s hands, shoves something into his fingers.  A packet of lube, another of a condom.  “Fuck me, sweetheart.”

“You had those in your pocket!”

“Of course.”  He grins down at Dance, his skin flushed.  “There’s plenty more, too. Fuck me, sweetheart.  You need it bad right now.”  He slides his freckled knees around Dance’s thighs, crooning at Dance’s cock jutting up in front of him, teasing it with his fingertips.  “You want it, you do.  Get your fingers in me, I want to feel it inside me.”

Dance groans, tearing open the lube, getting it slathered on and into the hot, moist hole poised so close.  Drin tears open the other packet, rolls the condom onto Dance’s cock, gripping him at the base.  He’s straddling Dance, knees sliding up around Dance’s hips.

“Oh, yeah, hello.  C’mon, yell for me.  Give it to me.  Fuck me.”  Drin rocks forward, and then his weight is all along Dance’s body, and he’s got his mouth wide open on Dance’s, and they’re kissing, the man’s mustache bristling against Dance’s nose.

“Oh,” Dance says, arching up.  “Oh. Oh now.  Now.”

Drin gives fast little grunts at the helpless reflex lunges of Dance’s hips surging up, and he’s pushing back hard onto him.  But the angle isn’t right for Drin.  Drin is doing it out of knowledge, out of love, liking it, but he won’t come properly.  He’s trying to make it last.  Dance isn’t hitting the right place inside to make him really orgasm hard, and both of them know it.  Deliberate, damn the man.

Dance growls.  He’s not settling for a one-off when it would be so much better together.

Dance braces his belly muscles against the weight of Drin’s hips, pushes up with his arms, gets his head and chest up, gets them both sitting up, hugging each other.  Drin is kissing him frantically, trying to distract, but Dance gets them shifted.  Gets the angle he knows they need, even if it finishes them off much faster.

“Oh God yes, yes, there,” Drin gasps.  Then he is pushing himself down onto Dance’ cock, fucking himself onto Dance, crying out each time Dance is hitting that sweet spot, his whole body tightening around Dance, his butt muscles wringing hard against Dance’s cock, and in moments they’re both locked in place, not even breathing.

“Oh,” Drin moans.  “Oh.  Oh.”

“Yes,” Dance says softly, leaning into his husband, holding him up.  He’s suddenly feeling the whole massive weight of Drin’s body resting firmly on his own pelvis, pushing his ass deeply into the mattress, which ought to hurt like hell, after so much standing today.  But it doesn’t.  Something in his upper back crackles like a worn part, something else unknots, his shoulders ease all over, and something down in his tailbone gives a soft, satisfied clunk! as perceptible as a switch being pulled.  He sighs, relaxing, rests his head on Drin’s shoulder, feels Drin stroke his back.

“What was that? That bone noise?” Drin whispers into his hair.

“No idea, but it is feeling good.”

“We can do that some more.”  Drin hugs him tighter.  “Hell, we could do that a lot more.”

“If I didn’t tear up your ass,” Dance says, worried suddenly.

“Oh, it’s happy,” Drin says, laughing with little puffs of breath into Dance’s skin.

“How about later?”

“Well, aren’t I supposed to be walking funny for two weeks after we get back?”

Dance chuckles.  “Hey, supposed to be me, yes, my silly raw ass hanging out of my apron?”

Drin sighs.  “Hate to disappoint you, sweetheart, but stupid porn is not that great.  Yeah, Robert tattled all over about that old guy being offensive to you.  Hell, I wouldn’t mind sharing sexy pictures with you.  I’d love to make some with you.  I mean, more than the snaps I took just now.  I’d love to get you all wound up on a fantasy.  That’d be fun.”

“What kind of fantasies do you want?” Dance asks, licking the sweat on Drin’s hot shoulder.  God, he tastes good.  All day in a suit, being patient, enduring things, and finally, at last, reeking of sex.  Dance could lick that off him all day.

“Fucking on the beach, right outside there,” Drin murmurs.  Then he sighs.  “Cold, though.”

Dance smiles.  “Get you standing up against a boulder, pulling your jeans down, sucking you down until you come.”

“I’m pretty sure there’s plenty of boulders out there, too.”  Drin lifts his weight onto his knees, drawing himself up, and Dance grabs onto the condom, waiting as his penis is released.  He slides the latex off his cock, lets Drin take it away in a tissue.  The big man gets off the bed, tosses the trash out with a thump in the bathroom nearby.  Water runs in a sink, the toilet flushes.  Then Drin stands in the doorway, scrubbing at his eyebrows and yawning.  He puts his big hands up on the door jam and stretches, naked.  He’s been taken, and Dance hasn’t even got started on what he wanted to do.  Every patch of hair on the poor guy’s freckled body is rumpled, twirled, crinkled, wet, or rubbed backward.

b/w picture man's nude muscular back
man’s back, source unknown

“Are you tired?” Dance asks, getting up.

“No, just very, very relaxed,” Drin drawls, blinking at him.  Then he smiles.  “What are you thinking, you wicked boy?”

Dance chuckles.  He wants to cherish all the coppery fur on the man, massage it in all kinds of crazy directions, lick his armpits, rub himself off between those furry thighs.  Absurd, really.  His penis is bobbing, still hard, as he walks.  “Get oil on my hands, rub it all over you, massage you all limp, lick it off.  Bend you over the kitchen table, fuck you a lot.”  He gets his hands on Drin, slides his sticky cock against the man, marking him.  He grabs handfuls of the man’s lean butt muscles.  He leans up into the man’s ribs.  In return, those big hands cup his ass, slide up and span his waist.  Such big hands.  He murmurs into the furry chest, “Get you in the shower, beg you to take me standing up– Oh, my– this tub is big enough to fuck sitting down together–”

“It is,” Drin agrees, looking pleased.  “C’mon, let’s shower off first, then get a good hot soaking.  This thing is a whirlpool tub, you know.”

The tub is massive.  The molded recliner shape at one side is big enough to accommodate Drin, far too big for Dance.  He’ll have to float in Drin’s lap, held in Drin’s arms.  Feel Drin’s cock brushing at his butt.  “Big enough to have good sex in the water.”

“Oh hell yeah.  Get bubble bath all up your sweet little ass, right?”

Dance nods.  “Better than sand.”

Drin laughs.  “Want to just soak awhile together?”

“It won’t end up just soaking,” Dance warns him, bending and turn on the taps, fiddling to get the temperature right.  Big fingers brush his bare ass.

“Oh?” Drin gives him an innocent look.

“You know me better than that,” Dance says, hands sliding onto Drin’s hips.

“Do I?”

Dance sighs, accepting the big sweaty arm resting on his shoulders.  “Oh yes, you big horny dog, you know how much I want you.”

“It’s good thing I brought along toys to keep you busy then,” Drin says fondly, with one hand gripping Dance’s entire butt.  The other one is pulling a familiar toiletries bag out of a bathroom cabinet.  It’s a bit outrageous that the driver unpacked that much for them.  “What?  Why are you rolling your eyes at me?  Isn’t this supposed to be about getting your little man run so hard you can think straight again?”

Dance sighs elaborately.  “Hopeless, this thinking straight,” he says sternly, waiting for the roar of laughter.  “I can think queer all you like, you know?”

Drin bends down to hug him, smiling.  “Okay, okay, you’re absolutely correct.  Where’s the soap?  All right, soap it up, horn dog.  I know I asked for them to get steaks and some good fish into the fridge, so at least there’s plenty of meat to keep you happy.”

Dance growls,”This is the meat I wanna eat,” and he’s kissing down the big man’s chest before Drin laughs, squirming about it feeling ticklish.  Dance fumbles at the taps, turns the flow of water to stream out of the showerhead.  They step into the warm water and settle to soaping each other at length, and then massaging shampoo into each other’s hair, and rinsing it.  By the time Drin wants to fill the tub full and soak himself in the heat, Dance is feeling quite content to settle back in his lap and pull the long arms around him and close his eyes, boneless, almost asleep.

That is, until the big hands start wandering over his skin, learning him all over again, exploring his neck and shoulders and skull and nipples and thighs and ass, moving off the hot zones and hushing him when he starts getting too excited too fast.

The water sloshes a lot when he starts rocking in Drin’s grip on his cock, and Drin chuckles and holds his hips dead still until the sloshing eases down.

“You have to lay still and let it happen,” Drin whispers, kissing his neck, his ear, licking his cheek.  “Lay really still, I’m doing you right, you’re gonna come so hard you scream.”  And then the long arms have moved, doing something to one side, and then they’re under him, and Drin has locked a cock ring on him, captured his balls in a firm hand grip, and a slick, easy pressure is sliding into his ass.  Dance feels the man chuckle as he gives a little mewling sound, his back arches up, and his eyes open very wide.  Drin has deployed the toys already.

“How’s that?  I do love me some waterproof lube.  There’s the first knot on the dildo.  Take it, take it in so easy, yeah, there you are.  Now just relax, I’m stroking you.  Feels good?  Can you take a little touch under your cockhead, down along the vein, yeah?  Good?  Harder?  Tell me.  You like that?  Good.  It’s not too much?  Just let it happen, sweetheart.  Okay, there’s the second knot going in.  I’m pushing it forward, talk to me, tell me when it hits that sweet spot for you–”

Dance gasps, arches, and everything happens at once.  Drin tugs open the cock ring, pulls down on his balls, and pushes inward with the dildo.  Then he pulls it out of Dance in one long drag.  Dance gives a whistle through the tightness in his throat, bucks wildly in midair, flails at the wall, and comes so hard that it feels like everything is letting go.  He makes a high, clenched sound that only small dogs should be able to hear.  Strange spaces in his head are orgasming too.  Stuff comes spurting out from his sinuses, emptying somewhere behind his molars.

And then he’s limp, hanging in Drin’s grip, the man is laughing in delight, and it is completely dark.  The lights have gone out. There is no buzz of power in the place.  All is dark and quiet.

“Now that’s what I call an orgasm!  Sweetheart, you blew out the lights!”

“Did not!”  Dance’s ribs are going like bellows, grabbing for air.  He hangs there in the warm water, feeling the other man’s ribs jerk with laughter under him.  “Um,” Dance says, tilting his head up, heaving for air.  “But we… have to agree, that was… that was…”

“You’re brainless,” Drin says, delighted.  Then he puts his hand on Dance’s mouth, slides his thumb into Dance’s lips.  “Wow.  Tingly.  You came at this end too.”

“Oh yeah.”  Hot fluid sloshes in his mouth under Drin’s touch, runs down his chin, hotter than the bathwater, not as thick as semen but like it in taste.

The thumb spreads it down his chin.

He turns over, straddles Drin, rubs his balls against Drin’s cock, kisses him at leisure, licking at his face, lapping fluid along the man’s forehead and nose and cheeks.  Then he’s kissing Drin again, and the man is rubbing his tongue into Dance’s mouth.  He might be the queen of safe sex whenever he’s meeting Dance’s needs, but crazily, he doesn’t seem to mind getting painted with this odd musky stuff drooling from Dance’s mouth.

“Crazy stoner,” Dance murmurs, and licks it onto the man’s hand.

A week  ago, Dance asked Emma for help looking at his mouth to find out why.  Of course Drin walked in on the middle of it when Emma was poking around his hard palate with dental tools, a magnifier, and a light.   He knew he had plenty of odd bulges at the front of his lower jaw, under his tongue–he always had those.  She had a name for those:  tori.

But nothing showed on his upper palate, where the fluid has been pouring out between his molars.  No shadows, swellings, divots, holes, slits, or puckers.  She even took pictures to check on that with the zoom from a graphics program.

Drin runs his ring finger between Dance’s lips, rubs that fingertip along the roof of Dance’s mouth.

“Oaaah,” Dance says, leaning into it.  It feels really good when the fingerpad touches those places where fluid is still draining out.

“You like that?  Right there, huh?”

“Oh ehh,” Dance makes an affirmative noise, moving his head to rub harder on those spots.  They’re a little tender, the same way his dick feels raw when he’s been masturbating a lot.  Which he has been doing, lately.  Embarrassing, after how much he’s been demanding all kinds of sexual attentions from Drin.

“It’s tingling really strong this time,” Drin says.

“Ah uh?” Dance asks, pausing.

“Hell no, it feels great, don’t worry.  Em looked up more dental stuff about those lumps under your tongue.  She says tori are perfectly normal stress growths in people’s jaw bones, not a problem unless they get in the way, push up the teeth.”  The fingertip brushes at the rounded shapes inside either corner of Dance’s lower jaw, below the gums.

“Uh aa,” Dance says, and the finger withdraws obediently.  A little thickly, he says, “Yes, but the cum thing can’t be tori.  Bone can’t blob out cum like my dick.  And the cum from my dick– my semen– it doesn’t tingle like that.”

There’s silence.  Not even breathing, from the big man under him in the water.

“Right?” Dance demands.

“Um.  Sweetheart, you don’t feel it from the mouth-cum.  You don’t feel any tingling from your dick-cum either, so if it’s the same thing–”

“There is no tube running from my balls up to my mouth!”

Drin is chuckling.  “Hey, not arguing.  We got your basic test case in hand.  Push up these hips for me, let’s get your dick out of the water.”  Drin shifts under him.  The other big hand pulls hard on Dance’s cock, gathers up a final ooze of semen from his slit, and that crazy man slathers it up behind his ears, as if he’s dabbing on perfume.  “Hmm mmm de dum- um, Dance?”

“What?”  Dance clutches at his shoulders in the dark.

“Umm, this isn’t definitive, you understand–” the man’s breathing has speeded up.

“What?”

“It tingles.  A lot.”

Dance grabs harder.  “Are you all right?  Is it hurting–”

“Hell no, it feels great.  Jeezus fuckin’ hallelujah, I keep telling you, it’s wonderful.”

Dance groans, and leans into the man’s chest, feels long arms come up around him.

“Sweetheart, I just want to tell you. I may have been a bit of a stoner in the Army, but I didn’t marry you just for your truly amazing cum.”

Dance can’t help it, he starts to laugh.  He smacks Drin’s chest with both hands.  “We didn’t know about it when you asked me to get married!”

“Shoulda asked you sooner, huh.”  He sounds amused.

“You think that’s what set it off?”

“Or some damn thing.  Hey, maybe it’s all that new kimchee, huh?”  Drin has been joking that it’s all that chili-heavy food Dance has been craving lately.  They haven’t found any better explanation.

“Okay, yes, I admit it, wanting your insatiable dick and your truly superior ass did have something to do with it,” Drin adds, which gets him another smack.

“Oh no, I know why you asked, really,” Dance says sternly, and smacks him again.

“Oh?  Yeah, what’s that?”

“Because I cook.”

Drin dissolves into roars of laughter.  Really, it’s out of all proportion to the joke, but Dance lets him take that exit out of serious conversation… this time.

Drin appears to be taking it all completely for granted–as in, of course Dance has this fabulous mouth thing he does, it’s nice.  He’s not worried even when Dance licks it onto his dry cock and his balls until his skin buzzes, making him orgasm two or three times in a row, getting hard over and over again.  He laughs at questions.  “Hey, what’s not to love?”

Well, Emma warned him about that, too, maddening woman.  While she had Dance’s mouth full of dental tools, she reminded him that it wouldn’t be easy to pin down the big man for this conversation.  She said Drin always displayed a truly alarming ability to deny, compartmentalize, retcon history, confabulate, and outright lie about things.

Dance told her dryly, “Hey, Army vet,” which just got him smacked on the arm.  Hard.  Then she’d stomped off, yelling he wasn’t any better, which hurt his feelings.

Just one of those days where he’d wondered if trying to get married was the worst decision he’d ever made in his life.

“Crazy stoner dude,” Dance mutters, and resumes licking his husband’s face.  He thinks about lapping all over other parts of the man that he hasn’t had the leisure to work on.  Like all those scars on his legs, and his bad arm.  He did that one night last week, as a painkiller, and it worked better than any of Drin’s usual pain pills.  “I want to lick you all over and see if it makes your toes tingle too and–”  He licks sticky fluid along Drin’s thumb, licks it up onto the web of his hand, in his palm, along the back of his fingers, sucks the fingers in two at a time, bites down on them, gnaws at them gently.  Then he licks mouth-cum upward around the slick burn scars on the man’s forearms.  More of it keeps leaking out into his mouth as he works.

“Tingles.  Jeezus fuck, that feels–so good–”  Drin arches up gently under him, and comes, as easy as that, cock trembling against the inside of Dance’s thigh, rubbing against his balls.

“I am such a lazy husband, I lick you to make you come,” Dance says.

Drin’s ribs tighten into a chuckle.  His other hand comes up, strokes Dance’s back.  He says, “But then suddenly in the middle of it you’ll get starving hungry and can’t even wait.  You’d eat raw steak if I let you!  And if it’s daylight, then you’ll want to go run on the beach.”

Dance turns on the tap, cups up water, rinses his mouth clean.  “Oh yeah.”

“You want to make my toes tingle?  Really?”  Drin splashes both hands, rinses sticky drying cum off his face.

“Yes please.  Lots.”

“Okay.  Maybe later?  It’s a deal.  How about, we get out of the water and figure out getting some food into us when the power is still out?  There’s supposed to be a big fireplace in the living room, and a barbecue kettle in a closet off the deck.”

“Right,” Dance says, climbing out.  He grasps a towel, helps steer Drin out onto the bath mat.

“I’m blind as a bat,” Drin says, while Dance helps him dry off.

“Oh, no worries.  I can see a little.  The curtains are open in the bigger room.  It’s not too dark, I can find things.  And you know how to cook on real fires, too.  Here’s the suitcase, some clean pants, yes–underpants here–” he gets them both into old soft jeans in the dark, gets Drin safely parked in a chair by the big cold fireplace in the main room.

“There oughta be some flashlights.”

“Yes, I will find them, probably in the kitchen.  Where do you think the breakers are?”  Dance keeps talking as he moves.  “The kitchen is brighter, there is some moonlight, it’s bright outside there.  I’m going to save opening the fridge, so the food stays cold.”

Drin says, “There might be a circuit breaker panel behind one of the doors, or in a closet.”

Dance rummages behind kitchen doors for awhile, and returns, pressing things into Drin’s hands.  “I have matches, I have a flashlight that is rather dim, I have some tinder, here.  Okay, let me go look for breaker panels while you work on the fire.”

After awhile, Drin has a fire going in the log grate in the fireplace, and Dance has felt his way round the kitchen and the living room.  He hasn’t found the breakers.  “Do you think maybe they were silly and they put the panel somewhere outside in the weather?”

“Possibly.  We can try the garage in the morning.  Do you suppose they plan this, so newlyweds have adventures?”

“Well, these newlyweds are not panicky sorts who need adventures to tell stories about.  We are just going to pretend we planned barbecue cooking as we put our steaks on these pokers and get them blackened a bit.  We just growl over our dinner and feel very happy to be here inside, in the dry and the warm,” Dance says firmly.  He’s in the kitchen when he says the most ridiculous part.  “So long as we don’t dribble meat juice all over the big fur rug there.  Because of course you must ravish me all naked on that fake fur, I insist.  Maybe later, when we’re not so full of meat.”

“Well, you’ve got our priorities sorted out,” Drin says, smiling in the firelight.  He always likes the word raaavish when Dance says it that way, careful and exaggerated and silly.

“Besides, there are plates and napkins and silverware and champagne and even glasses to drink it from,” Dance says, returning with his hands full, and eventually dragging over the living room table to hold things.  He guides Drin’s hand onto the skewers and the oven mitts and pads to hold them.  He returns to the kitchen while Drin is still laughing.

The fire is going quite well by the time he returns with another load.  “They have stocked up kitchen tools and food very well for Western tastes,” he reports happily.

Drin just looks up at him, chuckling, in the early uncertain light of their new fire.

“I am cutting up steaks for you to go spearing onto those skewers–” Dance drags over another chair.

“Like filet mignon is just some blob to chop up for shish kebab?”

“If you do not want it raw, yes.  And sooner.  The very best meat goes into very thin slices for Korean barbecue–” Dance starts sorting and chopping his materials, putting things into bowls.  “Right, there’s pearl onions, there’s green pepper, there’s potato slices very thin, there I am putting the meat.  A pinch of  black pepper on it, some salt, simple.  If you are hungry we can cook a second batch.  This is excellent lean meat.”

Drin starts threading pieces onto the skewers while Dance chops.

Dance says, “Emma would love this.”

“Oh, yeah– that Aussie love for chowing down kebab after closing hour.  Pretty funny, we end up eating her favorite stuff on our wedding night.”

“Except it is not lamb, and not greasy enough!”  which makes Drin laugh.  He and Emma are always visiting Emma’s favorite döner kebab meat and chips place, waiting for Dance to get done with night rehearsals.  Those two say it gives them time to unwind and chat.  Dance teases it is about really about eating enough grease.

Drin is still giggling to himself, which means it’ll show up in some story later on.  The laughter is still in his voice when he says, “The potatoes take the longest, I’m putting that end in the hottest part of the fire.  It smells good already.”

“It does.  Very good planning,” Dance says.

“Oh to hell with planning for awhile!  Hell, I asked Em at one point, why is everything about getting married something to do with serving more food?”

“Let me guess–she swatted you, and she said any big ceremony, getting bored, it is like Army life, small moments of terror with lots of waiting.”  Dance shrugs, holds out open hands toward the fire.  “So, waiting around, bored people think about the next time they get fed.  Bad as slobbering dogs begging at dinner, is that how she was saying?”

“Yeah.  But that doesn’t explain why I’m wanting to take you out to dinner and feed you fabulous stuff all the time.  As much as I want to make love to you.  Or find things you like, or getting distracted at work, just looking at pictures of you when I’m supposed to–”

“–or wanting to lick you all over,” Dance says solemnly.  Dance looks at the man’s moist lips, gleaming in that reddish beard.  “Especially the furry bits.”

“Yeah, I’m kinda fond of your furry bits too,” Drin says, his eyes crinkling up.

“But really, it is not just anybody’s fur, anywhere.  I am not fond of anyone else’s furry bits,” Dance says, wrinkling his nose.

Drin slaps his knee noisily and starts to laugh.  “Goddamn, Dance, you– you just–”

“Well, Emma tells me I am very rude,” Dance says, slicing up more potatoes and scooping them into a bowl.  “Then she hits me.  I think she likes any excuse to swat her boys, you know.  Very hard, on the butt, if she can.”

“She does!”

“I never spank her back, but I think she might like that.”

Drin blinks at him, surprised.

“I only tickle, careful, so I don’t hurt her.  But you could spank her, if she likes it.  I mean, if you want to do small happy things for her.  That makes me happy too.  I don’t think I say it very well, but–”

“Oh, sweetheart,” Drin says, resting one hand on Dance’s knee.  “I know you want Em to be happy too.  So do I.  It’s just that… I guess you’d call it pride… gets in the way sometimes.  What she thinks is right or proper or something.”

“Yes, I know.  I don’t care what is proper.  I want to make you happy, and I want to make Em happy too, however she will let me.  Like cooking.  I like cooking things for you to try.  As you say, to watch you.  It pleases me to give you something you like.”

“Yeah, that’s it exactly.”  Drin puts aside another filled skewer in a bowl.

For awhile they sit quietly working in the dim light.  “If the power is off tomorrow, I can make soup on this fire, I found a cast-iron pot.”

Drin smiles at him.  “You’re not even phased by this.”

“We have food, we have water, we have fire, we have spices and pots and pans–”

Drin starts to whoop with laughter again.  Dance mistrustfully packed a bag full of groceries and condiments that he figured would be hard to find.  The limo driver had put it away in the kitchen for them.

Dance gets up, taking away his chopping board and knife.  “–we have soap, we have tools, we have the awesome Drin who cooks on open flames and barbecues all the time, we are all good.”

He diverts for some moments into the dark bedroom, finds the bathroom, washes his hands, grabs the toiletries case, brings it out with him.  By then the food is sizzling gently, skewers propped at careful angles across the grating that holds the logs.  Drin is sitting cross-legged on the fake fur spread in front of the hearth.  Dance gives him hand wipes from the toiletry kit, since they both had handled raw meat.

Drin says, “C’mere, sweetheart,” and Dance settles sideways with his knees over Drin’s thigh, one shoulder resting against Drin’s bare chest.  Drin sighs, kisses his forehead, and hugs him.  “Perfect.”

wineglass on wood floor in front of fire in a fireplace
wineglass by the fire, source unknown

“Fairytale,” Dance says, looking into the flames.  He leans his head back against Drin’s chest, and feels suddenly, profoundly grateful.

“You want me to ravish you right out here on this rug, huh?”  Drin’s hand strokes his chest.

Dance smiles slowly.  “Oh yes, I do.  I know, this is not a terribly new fantasy, and this is very fake fur, but–”

“We’ll manage,” Drin says, amused.  His hand drifts down, strokes up the fabric over Dance’s thigh.  “Yeah, I was right, I thought I saw your little man was ready to come out to play again.”

Dance squirms.  “Now you’re teasing–”

“Oh, am I?  Doesn’t feel like teasing to me.  Lay down, get the pants off.  You’re going to lay there all naked and hard and gorgeous, while I deal with the food.  And then I’m going to feed you scrumptious hot bits of food and kiss you sometimes, and you’re going to like it.”

“Can I kiss you sometimes too?” Dance struggles to get his cock disentangled from the shorts, which makes his husband laugh at him.

“Of course.  But only after I get you fed and and get some champagne in you.  Now, there you go, a toast–to the most gorgeous husband on earth.  No, I meant you, not me, but that’s okay.  Just lay back and let me look at you.”

Dance drinks some of his champagne and shifts on one hip, finding a more comfortable position.  The fake fur is a bit lumpy, to be honest.

Drin smiles at him, teeth gleaming in that rumpled beard.  Dance starts to sit up, but Drin pushes him back down, putting Dance entirely prone on the rug, and looks down at him a long time.  He strokes Dance’s hair back from his eyes, cups his face, strokes a finger along his jawline, onto his lower lip.

Then he turns suddenly back to the fire, lifts a skewer handle with a kitchen mitt, pokes the potato with a fork, and pronounces himself satisfied.  “I’ll let it sit across the bowl a moment, it’s still hot.”  In rapid succession he pulls off the other skewers.  “Right, now let’s see if this one cooled off enough.  Nope, gotta wait.  So you can get out the lube and the condoms and put them handy.  Do you think regular missionary penetration, me on top of you fucking your queer guts out, my dick stuck up as far as it will go in your nice ass, is gonna make you really, really happy tonight?”

Dance stares at him, a little perplexed at the harsh tone.  “Yes.  I like having you on top of me.  I like you banging me in my good place inside me, it makes me feel good.  All warm and covered and held tight and filled up.  I like feeling full of great big man cock.”

Drin exhales noisily.  “Oh.  Like you’re all hugged, safe, or something?”

Dance moves one knee, making it more obvious that parts of him are in terrific agreement with all of this idea.  “Like I can just trust it to happen to me.  When I–” he takes a deep, hard breath, “–when I started to fuck you, that made me feel different.  Like I must do things carefully, make it right for you.  Make it feel really good for you, not hurting things when I get so tight and I start to come.  I must stay in myself and be careful, I must feel it all happening.  That feels so good too.”

Drin tilts his head.  “I’m still having trouble believing you really want it up the ass.”

Dance smiles wryly.  “Do you want me to not give it to you?  Should I stop doing that?”

“God no, it feels terrific, if God forbid my dick fell off and I never got to do anything else I’d want you to keep fucking me.  Just fucking me, just like that.”

“Then where is the problem?”

“I don’t want to hurt you, sweetheart, being selfish, banging you too hard on this very first night, getting carried away.”

“Oh.  Well, you can just lay on me and rub me, and that will feel good too, it will give me that warm held-tight feeling, I like that too.”

“What else do you like?”

It isn’t the first time he’s asked that.  It isn’t even the fortieth time.  But he goes on asking.

Dance really likes how he keeps asking.  He says so, and lays back, smiling, with his fingers laced together under his head.  “I like you feeding me shish kebab burnt off the fire when I’m naked and I can rub my cock on your jeans and you are asking me sexy questions, reminding me how much I like you taking me.”

Drin starts to chuckle, and to pull bits off the skewer into a clean bowl.  “What else?”

“I like you hugging me behind me, when I wake up, and you rub your dick onto my balls, and you’re so hard you come right away.  Then you’re all relaxed and I’m all hot and wanting to walk this little man and you can do anything to me, it is making me come.”

Asian man standing, nude back, source unknown
standing nude twisting, source unknown

Drin chuckles.  “Not such a little man there.”  Drin settles on the rug beside him, runs a fire-hot hand up along his ribs, and with his other hand holds a lump of meat in front of Dance’s waiting mouth.  Slowly, lasciviously, he lowers it into Dance’s open lips, and tucks it in with a fingertip.  Dance bites down into the steak bit, gets the flavor of it across his tongue.  He swallows, and moans.  “Oh, this is good.”

“Piece of green pepper now, it’s got a bit of char on it.  Don’t be greedy, take your time on it.”

Dance starts to sit up, but Drin puts his free hand down on Dance’s chest, keeps him still with a touch.  “No, this skewer is all yours, and I’m feeding it all to you first.  Don’t worry, you get to feed me the next skewer.”

“Will you take off your pants for me?”

“Oh yeah.  You like seeing me take off my pants?”

“Yes,” Dance says, around a lump of onion, and he lips the fingers that give it to him.

“Cheeky boy,” Drin says, with a smack of the palm on Dance’s chest.

Dance doesn’t try to sit up. Instead, he lifts his foot, slides his ankle up onto Drin’s shoulder, and rolls his other knee wide onto the rug.  The offer is perfectly plain.

Drin shifts his free hand onto Dance’s tensed thigh, grips it, and lifts it aside, so Dance’s knees are sprawled wide on either side of his husband.  Drin leans down into him, resting those worn soft jeans across Dance’s belly, putting his forearm down across Dance’s chest, and then with his other hand, he delicately pops a bit of pearl onion into Dance’s mouth, and lays a big finger squarely across his lips.  Dance squirms, swallows, licks the finger.

“I think you don’t feel very hungry now,” Drin says, with the firelight catching those amused tiger-yellow eyes.  He takes the finger away, and feeds him another bite of steak, watching him.  “Too many cookies in the car, huh?”

“Can I feed you too?” Dance asks.

“Oh, and let you rub on me like a cat in heat?”

“Mmm,” Dance agrees, squirming some more.  “I am in heat.  Please let me rub on you.”

“You’re amazing.  But I’m going to do everything you want.  Everything.”

Dance feels himself panting.  “Oh please.”

Drin gives him a wide smile, and wiggles against him ever-so-slightly.  “Eventually.”

“Aaaaarghh,” Dance moans.

“All right, all right, let me get out of these things.  Didn’t want to cook naked, with the way that wood snaps out sparks, but I don’t mind getting naked now for my beautiful husband to feed me bits of steak and see how turned-on he’s got me already.”

Drin stands up, slides off the pants and shorts in one elegant motion, steps out of them, cock jutting upwards.  He kneels between Dance’s legs, puts out one hand, lowers his upper body over Dance.  He twists his hips almost sideways, his cock does not touch Dance’s hips, and Dance wiggles, frustrated.  But no, Drin presses his torso down on top of Dance, resting that forearm across his chest again.  Then Drin pins down one of Dance’s wrists to the rug, tickling the palm of his hand with his thumb.  “Uh-uh, one hand.  Here’s the bowl, can you reach it?”

“Yes, but I can’t tell which kind I am giving you–”

“I’ll tell you.  God, you have such beautiful muscles.  Yeah, that’s an onion. Caramelized.  Oh God, that’s so good.  Give me the next one. Jeez, that’s ridiculously good– oh man.  Steak.  Oh that is good.”

Dance smiles.  Brushes his thumb over the man’s lips.  “You keep saying that.  I think you like it.”

The man swallows, licks off his lips, and lowers his head to breath across Dance’s mouth a moment.  “If you aren’t the world’s best cook, then I don’t know who is,” and he kisses Dance, filling his mouth with tongue.  He leans up in a moment, saying, “Okay, I’m heavy, I know.  Get some air.  Breathe, here.”

Dance rocks his hips a bit, smiling, and Drin says, “You keep that up and dinner’s gonna get cold.”

Dance laughs, arching in place, and relaxes again.  He picks up another unseen bit from the bowl, lifts it to Drin’s mouth, feels the man’s lips wrap around his fingers.  Dance asks,“Got it?  Do you think we can eat our way through eight skewers without losing our minds and–”

“–and fucking like rabbits?” Drin says, grinning back.  Dance suspects he really likes the feel of Dance squirming under him, the feel of cock rubbing against the tender skin at his hip joint.  Dance is desperately trying to shift his cock over next to Drin’s, to get more friction from the maddeningly harsh curly pubic hair rubbing against his own, but Drin is not letting his hips angle right, refusing to make it easier for Dance.  “I doubt it, but we can try.  Give me another.”

Drin has to pull himself away to empty the other skewers into the bowl, and Dance thinks he will get a chance to mesh their hips together.  But Drin lays down on him in the same way as before, not allowing Dance’s wiggling to take advantage.  Keeping Dance pinned under him, Drin feeds him a skewers’ worth, and then Dance feeds the big man another skewer’s worth, slowly, one-handed.

By then Drin is kissing him a lot all over his face and down his neck, grazing his way down Dance’s chest and kissing his nipples until he shakes in place, rubbing at the little peaks with greasy fingers.  Normally, at home, their earlier intercourse would have satisfied them both for hours, possibly for days.  Tonight Drin clearly wants more.  Dance feels the heartbeat pounding in his own cock.  It’s drooling, ready to go.

“Okay, sweetheart, are you up hard?  Yeah, I am too.  I’m putting on a condom.  Give me that lube, let me see you.  Here, get your feet up on my shoulders, that’s it.  Spread your legs wider, pull up those balls for me.  I’m warming it up for you, don’t get impatient.  No, don’t stroke yourself, you’ll get me going too fast.  Here it is, rubbing it on, nice and thick.  How tight are you, after I loosened you up earlier?  Okay.”

Dance gasps.  The lube is still cool, but it’s not brutally cold, either.

“Slide those legs up higher on my shoulders.  Is it okay on your back?  Good?  All right, if you wanna brace your arms out, that’s good.  Now relax, sweetheart, I’m gonna take you.”  And then Drin’s hips are twisting round, he’s up on his knees, his chest is leaning across Dance, and his cock is stretching Dance wide, a sliding rush of pressure and heat.  He stops moving, buried balls-deep inside Dance, his hips sealed tight all across Dance’s ass.  Dance’s balls and cock are pushed tight against the man’s powerful gut muscles.  The big man gasps,  “God, you’re so– hot inside–”

Dance gives a whimper of need, rocking, and Drin pulls out a little, shifts his hips downward toward the floor, and that strange little pulse of muscle twitches his cock to pointing upward inside Dance.  Then he’s sliding it into Dance, pushing upward, banging hard into that infuriatingly sweet spot that Dance cannot resist, ever.

Dance gives a high noise, and then Drin is sliding away.  That makes Dance give a different noise, panting for breath.  Then he’s giving the high noise again–Drin is pushing into him until Dance is rolled halfway up up onto his shoulders, his knees hooked over the man’s broad shoulders, and he begs for it.  It’s hard to breath, rolled up almost onto his shoulders in that position.  Usually it doesn’t matter, two strokes of Drin’s hips banging into him will finish him in this position, even when he wants to last.  Tonight, he is lasting.

Drin snorts, and the man’s hips start moving, smacking at his ass, the cock sliding in and out of him fast enough to make Dance’s sounds turn to gasps.

“Yeah, give it to me, sweetheart, yell it out, tell me what you like.  There?  Right there?”

And Dance is yelling.  He doesn’t even know what he’s yelling.  He just feels a big hand slide bruisingly between their bodies, grope at his balls and close tight on his cock, cupping the head of it in the same rhythm of the force smashing into that sweet spot and making those silly noises come mewling out of him.  “Yeah, right there, give it to me, come for me, sweetheart, I want you to come so hard.  Come for me, don’t worry.  Just come for me.”

Dance comes so hard, he curls up so tight, that his shoulders lift right off the rug.  He pushes his arms straight up from his hands, locks his elbows, slams his mouth open wide, put his mouth onto Drin’s shoulder near the neck, grips his front teeth around the bulging edge of muscle, and bites him.

Something clicks inside his head, somewhere deep behind his nose, between his back molars.  Something that’s been tensed for hours in his head finally relaxes, and he comes, and comes and comes.  His front teeth are holding Drin in place while thick pale ropes of drool slide past his lips, draining down Drin’s skin.

Drin is shaking in place, hips twitching while he groans, and his cock shudders inside Dance.

Then there’s a tug of something coming free in Dance’s mouth, and Dance opens his jaws, and then somehow Drin is lowering him back onto the rug, where he is panting too hard to move.

Drin is leaning on his hands above Dance, panting heavily.  “Goddamn, Dance.  I don’t… jeez, I’ve never felt anything as good as this.  Are you all right?”

“I bit you,” Dance says, a little slurred with the fluid still oozing out on his tongue.

“Oh, you’re sweet, giving me that mouth cum thing, I got you going really hard.”

“Drin, I put holes in you–”

“Really?  Huh, didn’t feel that part.  Just the cum tingling me.  Feels… wonderful.  God, Dance, it’s wonderful.”  Drin lowers himself, panting, and kisses Dance on the mouth, licking into that sticky fluid, coaxing him to kiss back.  “C’mon, give me a taste of that wedding surprise cum.”  When he’s kissed Dance silly, he shifts one hand, grabbing onto the condom and drawing his cock slowly out of Dance.  That sensation makes Dance shudder in place, groaning, and a final load of semen-tasting goo comes drooling from the back of his mouth.  Drin rolls onto his side on the rug, pulling Dance over with him..

“I bit you,” Dance says, worried.  He can’t see much but bruise marks from his front teeth in the uncertain light.  That’s not at all the safe sex he promised to Drin.

“I love it.  Okay, if you say you cut some skin, I believe you.  Can’t feel it right now.  I know, I know, if you did, it’s not being careful at all.  But damn, you can do that any time, sweetheart.  Aches and pains all gone, I feel great, like I could fuck you all over again.”

“You want to?”

“Sure.  Do you?”

“Yeah, but.. more food maybe.. rest.. don’t want to hurt you.  Not biting you!  Wanting to try… kissing you… somewhere else.  Toes,” Dance says dazedly.  “Maybe give you a hangover?”

“Stop worrying, it’s been fine every time you licked that cum on me before.  I feel great.”

Dance leans over, takes a deep breath of the man’s sweat and he starts licking his way down Drin’s body.  He pulls the condom off Drin, sets it aside on the table, and shifts away from the man’s cock in spite of how much he wants to taste it in his mouth, trying to honor their agreement to keep himself safe.

The taste of sweat tells him how far he’s pushed Drin tonight.  The man’s body is honestly tired, under the artificial stimulus of whatever his mouth-cum does to the man.  Working his way up from licking the man’s feet–and yes, Drin reports it tingles there too–he takes his time, kneeling over Drin and licking thick layers of it upward on both shins, along all those scars, lapping it on over his knees, up his thighs.  He feels Drin shiver when he starts to lick the man’s right hip joint, as if it’s too much finally.

“Tingles,” Drin murmurs.

“Okay, enough pushing ourselves, I should just stop it, get over my silly self and let you rest.  Get you over to bed, and let me put the food away for tomorrow–”

Drin smiles up at him.  “Now you want to take care of me?”

“But I always want to,” Dance says, and gets up to put things away.  He looks down at the monumental figure sprawled out on the rug in complete relaxation.

He’s so big.  The man’s feet stick out well beyond the rug, wiggling his long toes comically in front of the fire.  “Do you want more to drink?  Some water?”

“Dance,” the man says, and a warm hand comes up and rests on his ankle, slides up the calf of his leg.  “Yes, water would be great.  God, you’re so beautiful.”

Dance pats the hand touching him, pulls it up enough to kiss the knuckles.  “So are you.”

“It’s the dim lighting, really improves a scruffy old guy’s looks, don’t you think?”

Dance says, “Oh, no, I think I will like your looks even better in good bright morning, all this big naked man with his big cock fucking me silly.  Maybe I will get on the rug on my knees, waggling at you like a cat and yowl at you a lot to fuck me.  Or you bend me over the end of the bed and fuck me.  I don’t know if it is the right height, but the bed is much softer.  I will check in the morning if there are enough sheets for changing to sleep nice and clean.”

Drin gives a huff of laughter, pats his calf.  “Don’t worry.  There’s a washer and drier somewhere.”

“Oh good,” Dance says.  He steps free, gathers up the food and the trash from the table, starts putting things away in the fridge, rinsing the dishes.  There’s a dishwasher that he can use when they have power, in the morning.  He hears movement in the other room, metal scraping sounds, while he washes his hands.  He twists back and forth, using wet paper towels to wipe his crotch and his ass in the dim light.  He returns with damp paper towels and a glass of water for Drin.

He half-expected Drin to be asleep on the rug, but he isn’t; his husband is sitting up, looking at the fire.  In spite of being naked near the burning logs, he’s been tending it, using a little shovel in the rack of fireplace tools, and closing the little mesh spark-arresting curtain.

“Oh, thanks,” Drin says, and wipes himself clean without embarrassment.  “We can leave the fire to die down now.  Steer me to the bathroom, sweetheart, and then I’ll sort out how to brush my teeth in the dark.”

Dance retrieves the toiletries bag, sharing with Drin the wry thought that it is doomed to follow them all around the cottage.  Drin just laughs.

“Okay, here’s toothpaste, here’s your brush, here’s mine,” Dance says, rummaging in the dim firelight.  Then he takes Drin’s hand, and leads him back to the bathroom, helping where he can with the unseen routine.  Drin kids around, patting at him when he doesn’t really need to.

“Okay, I’ve got the size of the bathroom down, at least,” Drin says, and takes his hand.  “Take me to bed, sweetheart.”

“I thought you’d never ask.  Is it the right height?”

“Well, I don’t know yet.  How about you bend over the bed, get down on it there, and let me check on this.”

They fumble around in the dark, skin on skin, laughing, and determine that the bed is rather low for Drin to stand up behind Dance’s butt, but perfect for Dance to line up on Drin’s.  Drin astonishes him by making the renewed offer, but Dance just pats him on the butt and hugs him.

They curl up under the sheets and figure out they aren’t going to need the blankets for quite awhile in spite of the current lack of heat.  There are plenty of pillows, and they fit elbows and mesh feet together just as they do at home.  Normally Drin would have a bedside light on, reading, with one hand stroking Dance’s head or shoulder as Dance went to sleep, but with the power out they just sigh and turn together and breathe in the quiet.

nude man on bed, source unknown
nude man on bed, source unknown

Dance ruffles the man’s chest hair with a deep sigh.  “You smell so good to me.”

Drin chuckles.  “Hah, knowing you, that probably means I should’ve got another shower.”

“No, I like your smell like this.”

“What can you hear?” Drin murmurs, half of it a vibration in his chest.

“Heartbeat,” Dance says.  “Nice.”

“What else?”

“The ocean,” he says, idly stroking down Drin’s chest.  “There’s rocks, I think.  That splash when a big wave hits rocks.  Wind is getting stronger.  I don’t hear any birds, but I think there will be gulls, at least.”

Drin smiles.  “I brought a guidebook, if you want to go look tomorrow.”

“And we have boots, I know,” Dance says, kidding him.  “Are there hiking trails?”

“There are.  And sea kayaks.  There’s a rental place with guides.”  He chuckles when he feels the twitch of interest in Dance’s muscles.  “Yeah, I thought you’d like that a lot.  Have to get an orientation first, so we reserved a whole day for that, a little later on.  After you’ve had a chance to run around on this beach, look at things up close, get a feel for the place.”

We means that Emma and Drin worked it out together, as they have for most of the three weeks ahead.  Dance submitted general ideas for Emma’s organizational mojo to work on, within the limitation that it’d been a secret from him about just where they were going.

Three weeks is a long time away from the Metro.  The sea air is going to be wetter here than at home, he will have to keep retuning, allowing his two practice violins to adjust to the humidity before he makes any heavy physical demands.

In the days running up to the wedding, he was afraid he would either want to bury himself completely in his music for days on end and bore poor Drin out of his mind, or else he’d cast it aside completely like a bad, bad schoolboy in favor of running wild and never practicing at all.  Emma just told him not to worry, Drin would just spank him if he was too bad.  He will, too, Dance knows that.

Drin chuckles again.  “Amalia said you’d need a good five hours of practice every other day to work on that new stuff you wanted to learn, and to drag you away from it if you went longer.  She said you don’t get any benefit from longer hours, the way other folks might.  So we scheduled in regular blocks of time where you can do that, or walk on the beach, or just sleep.  She said you could use some rest too.”

Dance thumps his chest, with a noise like a melon.  “You, reading my mind again.”

“No mind-reading about it.  I just asked her what I needed to do, that’s all.”

“No, right now,” Dance says, and thumps him again.  Then he’s playing percussion on Drin’s chest with his fingers, sitting up and leaning over him, drumming on him, while Drin laughs soundlessly.  Then he finally drags Dance over onto him and smacks him on the butt, and hugs him.

“Goddamn, musicians.  Settle down, sweetheart, I didn’t mean to get you all riled up and excited all over again.  You need to rest too.”

“You must tell me if I am tiring you out,” Dance says, stroking the man’s beard.  He feels the smile under his fingers.

“I will.”

“This is a vacation, I must not be wiping you out,” Dance says, worried.

The smile widens.  “Sweetheart, it’s a honeymoon.  If it’s gonna make you happy, I’m doing it, I don’t damn well care if I get tired.  And yeah, I’ll try and use common sense so I don’t get myself injured, that’d be a waste.  But let me tell you, I feel great.  A lot better than I figured I would, tell you the truth.”  He puts up a hand, touches the ring on Dance’s finger, then the dragon pendant on the necklace that Dance wears all the time, even showering.  Both of them are Drin’s gifts to him.  Dance wraps his hand around the man’s fingers, so their rings brush together, and then Drin’s hand is stroking down his back and shoulders, and he relaxes.  “Shhh, don’t worry about me, sweetheart.  I’ve got you.  Go to sleep.”

“Kayaks,” Dance murmurs happily, and then he’s asleep.

Helping Keisha’s Crew

It ought to be Dance’s twin curled up in the clinic bed. But this man isn’t identical. Dance says he calls Seung Older Brother in Korean, and it fits. Seung looks older, more weather-beaten, heavier through the shoulders and torso, his hands are scarred up from fights, and his eyes are deadly quiet. He makes Dance look like he’s all bubbles and froth and witty jokes and queer as hell. That’s freaky. Dance hasn’t changed a bit.

Seung just doesn’t talk, not in any language. In the hours since he was brought in here, Dance practically had to pull teeth to get him to admit he needed more painkillers for his back.

So it’d been a shock to see Seung’s face open up like that, to see him hugging the poor skinny gray tabby bagheera girl so close. There– there’s Dance’s twin. Emma feels the all-too-familiar twist of blind anger at the bug labs, the rotten war machine that sacrificed this beautiful creature to the filthy alleys of Earth.

“Smelling the girl stomach is empty,” Seung says, working at it slowly. “Not eat, sick, fall over, yes?”

“Yeah, that wouldn’t help one bit,” Doctor Alexander says briskly. He smiles at Peach. “When did you ladies eat last?”

Peach’s ears go flat against her skull.

“Easy now,” Doctor Alexander says, and takes a step closer to Peach, who growls.

“She wants to rip your guts out,” Emma warns, from across the room.

“Well, of course. You know how bagheeras get twitchy when their people are hurt, just part of the business,” Doctor Alexander says, as if he’s been doing it for years. He looks at Peach, waiting for an answer.

Peach bares her teeth, and nobody takes the slightest notice of it. Seung just clicks his tongue, and Peach looks at him, clearly anxious. Seung strokes the ears back upright, as if he knows exactly how to get her to calm down again.

“How many days since you ate?” Doctor Alexander repeats. He’s far more patient with her than any other adult so far.

Peach just shakes her head. She’s struggling for words, the mute look on her face is just like one of the tiny kids at the library.

“One day?” Seung murmurs into her fur. “Two?  Many? How many?”

Peach shakes her head. Holds up three fingers, puts up a fourth, frowns, puts it down again.

“Okay, you want a bag of glucose?” Emma asks Doctor Alexander.

“Yes,” he grunted. “Peach will need some protein, too.   They run off calories so fast.”

Emma nods, hands him another of the floppy plastic bags of fluid, and walks away. “I’ll bring over some of Dance’s food from the house later.”

“Emma,” Seung says.

She turns, enquiringly.

“Good.”

“You’re welcome,” Emma says, surprised and pleased.

She finds herself smiling again at home in the kitchen as she puts together a baggie of sandwiches and another of plain, cooked bluegill fillet.

She glances into the bedroom, finds Drin is still conked out in bed, exhausted. He sat up most of the night going over every inch of Dance’s parasail skin, obsessively working out every last bubble of extra pooled blood that might leave bruises and damage, muttering to himself sometimes and adjusting the lamp. Dance was asleep under his hands before he got halfway done. When Drin did finally curl up next to Dance, he kept one arm around him possessively. As the Intarwebs might put it, pwned, and who pwns who there? Emma asked herself, wryly. Neither of them had stirred when she pulled a sheet over them both.

Now she adjusts the floor fan to make Drin more comfortable in the warm room, and he gives a little sigh and goes back to sleep.

Then she rummages for paper plates and plastic utensils, and she thinks about where to find mules or flipflops that might fit Peach’s feet comfortably enough. She’s got frequent lectures on it from Doctor Alexander while they’re waiting for things to cook or things to cool or things to arrive, like the other volunteers at the clinic. Alexander insists that cheap flipflops have kept more people worldwide from getting nasty parasites endemic in the mud than anything else they know. He hands them out from a huge box to the children. She’s ordered some more adult-sized ones.

Back at the clinic, she finds none of the ones in the box are Peach’s size. She makes a note on her shopping list, and goes in the back room to ask what else the clinic might need from town. Clothes for the new Trio, certainly.

“Oh, you’re awake!” Emma says, putting things down on a counter and turning, speaking to them. She smiles at the dark woman on the gurney next to Seung. The woman is not quite sitting, propped up on pillows, with the IV taped on her wrist. Peach is leaning into her on the other side from Seung.

“You hold a minute,” the woman growls at Seung. Her face looks so strange and harsh that Emma takes a couple of steps toward her. From the new angle, Emma sees now that woman’s other hand is busy. She’s got a pair of scissors in her fist, and she’s digging the points into Seung’s throat. He’s got his hands down, not stopping her. Just looking at the woman.

Emma stops short. “Alex,” she whispers.

“Ahh,” Alexander says, from the door, and he stands still. “Dance went to get some–”

Peach gives a soft little cry of distress.

“Quiet,” the dark woman says, and Peach is silent. “I want my boy to tell me.”

Seung looks at the woman. Then he says, “I was slow. Bugs fast.”

“Yeah, I know. But you knew those guys.”

Seung looks aside, lowers his eyes, turns his chin up. It’s remarkably doglike.

“Don’t you be belly-uppin’ on me,” the woman growls at him, eyes narrowed.

Seung swallows hard enough to make the scissors move. “Mike surprise me. Not good, I was slow.”

The woman glares. “No shit. So you saw those guys on the road, and–”

“For Peach,” Seung says. “They put you off locked up safe, I get you out later. I hope.”

“Keisha?” It’s the tiniest whimper.

“Hush Peach.”

“First thing is keep you alive, Keisha. Most important. I fight, you be killed, I know this, know.”

“They ain’t after me, they came after you.” Keisha says.

“They don’t kill me. They kill you.” Seung’s eyes go pale.

Emma knows that look, those pale eyes, and she draws in a shallow breath.

“Don’t you say nuthin’,” Keisha growls, one quick glance up at Emma and down again to Seung, just that fast.

Emma knows it was plenty of time for Seung to reach up and disarm her. Keisha probably knows it too. But she’s staring into Seung’s face, leaning close, jaw muscles bulged out.

Seung puts up his hand and rests it on Keisha’s hip, and she growls, and he takes it off again. He lifts it toward her arm instead, and she jerks in place, growling. “Talk to me,” Keisha says.

Seung takes several deep breaths. “Okay,” he says, gulping. He lifts his hand again, frustrated, and puts it down on the pillow next to him instead. “Okay.”

“Tell me how you know those guys.”

“Boss buy them.  Bugs. We get on ship, come here, boss say get cargo, tell me go get Peach and get laptop on the other ship. Not telling why.”

“Sonuvabitch,” Keisha says, and draws in several hard breaths, nostrils snorting wide. Then she turns the scissors away from his throat, and down onto his forearm instead, pressing in a dent. “Doesn’t that even hurt?”

He waves it off with his other hand, which is still bandaged from the claw-marks Dance reports came from an initial tangle with Peach. “Not big hurt. Back is big hurt.”

Keisha looks at him, and nods, and throws the scissors down on the floor, and covers her eyes with her knuckles.

“Boss lady,” Seung says.

Keisha sits up, and gives a yelp of pain. “Damn, my back too. Okay, you tell me where your damn boss found those damn bug things, I swear I’ll kick me some bug ass–”

“Would you like some help?” Emma says, amused. God, she is a fighter!

Keisha glares up at her. “Yeah?” Her tone says, plain as words, What the fuck would you know about bugs? and Emma is surprised at the sting.

Doctor Alexander grunts, carrying in folders, and shoves them into a filing cabinet. “You want to learn how to stop bugs, ask Emma. She goes with her guys on bug raids, they’re the local snipers we call for help. She’s given me a dozen of her kills as bug cadavers to dissect. Stinking worst dissection jobs I ever dealt with, too.”

Keisha narrows her eyes. “What do you shoot those fuckers with?”

“Stuff that leaves a big fucking hole,” Alexander growls, glaring at Emma.

Emma shrugs. “I’m backup with one of our smaller shotguns, for closeup stuff like head shots. Don’t bother with gut shots, it won’t stop ’em. We’re overloading with lots of duck or goose shot pellets. When we’re down to scratch and I’m borrowing a machine pistol from Michel’s crew, those guys use crazy crap like flare guns and stuff, I never know what the hell they’ve got in there. I think a .32 round is about as small as you want to use. Armor-piercing shells make me feel better, but not if you’re trying to hold bugs off somebody’s house. Go right through six walls and somebody’s kid.”

Keisha grunts. “So you musta grew up shooting?  Fox hunts, that kinda crap?”

Emma gives a grim smile. “Not exactly. Dingos and kangaroos and saltwater crocs and rabbits. Lots of rabbits, even the ones getting mangled by myxo disease. Oh, and cane toads. God, I hate cane toads.”

Seung growls. “Toads blow,” he says, when Keisha looks at him.

Emma smiles. “Yeah. So do saltwater crocs.”

Keisha narrows her eyes again. “So you’re Dance’s bitch?”

Emma lifts her hand with a little flourish, bowing. “And Drin’s. No, they never put the toilet seat down. But I forgive that one, because Dance is such a damn fine cook.”

“I cook too,” Seung says, looking at Keisha, and stroking Peach’s ears.

Keisha looks at him. “That’s good, my man, because you’re my bitch.”

“Okay,” Seung says. He knows perfectly well what the slang means. “Pussy-whip me.”

Keisha growls at him.

He just smiles. It is a very wicked, merry smile, and eerily familiar. “Dance tells.”

Keisha glares up at Emma, and Emma just holds up both hands open and flat, chuckling. “You’d have to ask Dance about that one.”

“I do, I ask him,” Seung says. “Younger Brother say to me, oh yes, Keisha say jump, I am asking how high. Want so bad, beg and beg. Screwed six ways from Sunday, no need on wearing stupid dog leash.”

“He said that?” Emma says.

Seung says, “Oh yes.”

“Oh Christ, that probably sounded worse in Korean than it does in English,” Emma says, chewing on her lower lip.

“Yes,” Seung says. “Lots and lots rude. Like man schoolteacher in girl panties, not even sorry.”

Keisha’s eyebrows are a sight to behold.

“No lie, true,” Seung says. He holds up his hand, palm flat. “Worse than wearing dog leash.”

Emma opens her mouth, sees Keisha’s skeptical eye, and shuts her mouth again.

“Okay, my man, that’s enough TMI for today. Peach, give that boy a smack, I gotta wait till my hands aren’t sore.”

Peach reaches over, frowning in concentration, and delivers a open-handed swat that leaves scratch marks on Seung’s shoulder. He flinches, making a face, as if movement in the wound in his back is what hurt him. Peach gives him a worried look, patting him lightly on the forearm, until his face calms down again.

“Okay,” Keisha says firmly.

Peach looks between them, and says, “Okay now?”

Keisha reaches up her hand, the one with the tape and the IV drip in it, and rests it on Peach’s shoulder. “Yeah, mama, we are all right.”

Peach leans in closer, uttering a sigh of relief. So does Seung. Keisha reaches up and grabs a wad of his hair and grips it hard, in spite of how much it must hurt her. She leans her face into his, and kisses his forehead, more like a bite than a caress. He gives another big sigh.

Alexander snorts and starts pulling out folders, muttering. Then he blinks at the three people in the beds. “You folks need anything?”

“Water,” Seung says firmly.

“I got it,” Emma says. She fills glasses, drops straws in them, hands them around. Peach croons at Keisha, nudging the glass in her hand, and Keisha glares, but sips at it.

“If you guys are hungry, I can get some sandwiches from the fridge here–” Emma offers.

Keisha glances away. “S’okay.”

Emma has the suspicion that Keisha doesn’t want to admit she can barely sit up enough to eat. Alexander had said something about muscle cramps, that she needed to get more potassium in her, from sweating so long out in the heat with no food or water.

Emma knows better than to get pushy finding out where Seung’s former boss picked up those bug troops, but it’s hard to control herself. Emma looks at Seung. “If the place where your former boss picked up bug troops isn’t close here, we maybe could pass it along to some friends in that other area to knock ’em down.”

Seung points at his head. “I tell Preacher where, loud.”

“Ah, then he’s dealt with reporting it,” Emma nods. She looks at Keisha then. “Oh yes– Tee Pom tells me Michel’s boys got in touch with Fozzie, they let him know about Mike. I guess Fozzie about blew a gasket.”

“That’s the problem with havin’ too many friends, one of ’em always likes to roll over on the whole party,” Keisha says.

“Fozzie rescues a lot of people,” Emma says quietly.

Keisha grunts. “Hey, everybody needs a hobby.”

Emma aims a pointed look at Seung and Peach, and Keisha glowers back.

“We are not being your hobby,” Seung tells Keisha, to no reaction.  “Is not,” he repeats, crossly, glaring at Keisha, who only glares right back.

“Why not?” Keisha growls.

“You get only me and Peach. We lots work.”

Emma can’t help it. She tilts her head upward, smiling. “You have been talking to Dance.”

“What’s so funny?” Keisha demands. “You think that sounds too much like your snakeman?”

Emma nods. “When those two get to cracking jokes, it’s gonna get tough.”

“You think Seung would be better off stayin’ with you guys, after he heals up.” Keisha is wooden-faced.

Emma shakes her head. “What? No. That’s up to all of you. But you’re all welcome to stay. The whole bayou here is zoomorph families, it’s safe for us to walk around in daylight here.”

“Much as anywhere is safe, huh? Except when guys like Mike start handin’ you over to the Man.”

Emma shrugs. “Nobody expected that.”

Keisha shrugs too, like a sharp little imitation. “Always some damn fool spoils the party.”

“I don’t know how they paid Mike off, if they did. Far as I can poke around, nobody in Mike’s family got new money. Now, I talked to Michel about old-time ways to bribe.  His family are all old-school smuggling, old-style discipline.  Oh lordy, they were pissed off, Tee Pom had quite a job talking them down from just shooting Mike on sight. Now, on tracking down newer ideas, things like internet chats and payments, that kind of thing, that’s where we could use your ideas.”

“I think maybe Fozzie got too many friends.  It’s too easy for some crooked parish guys to use other things.  Get somebody’s dumb kid brother outta jail, no money down.”

Emma blinks. “Thanks. I’ll look into friends and relatives getting off on some criminal or civil charges during the last few weeks.” She makes herself a note to follow up on certain arrest records. “So if you don’t like big groups like Fozzie’s bunch, why would you want to go visit your aunt Lacey?”

“What about my aunt Lacey?” Keisha’s voice sounds flat, spooky.

“Well, she is the one running Fozzie’s horse farm.  Hell, she runs Fozzie, and he’d be the first to say so, she’s his wife from way back, nobody knows how old they are.  The horse ranch is, oh, about sixty miles from here. He’s always out on the road.  Lacey is the one who sorts out zoomorph rescues, keeps the farm and the lab functioning, keeps the trucks running, the whole thing.”

“Aw, shit.” Keisha, for once, is honestly astonished, her dark eyes round. “That’s– shit, man, my auntie? I remember her puttin’ on her gloves for church, man.”

“There’s only one Lacey in the swampland,” Emma says, grinning at the idea of Lacey wearing gloves to church, enjoying some well-deserved peace and quiet while she visited a wandering niece. “We owe her big time.  That horse farm lab of hers helps out patients here all the time, they helped sort out Dance’s changes, so–”

“Just– no.” Keisha holds up her hand, half laughing. “No, that’s just too weird, I get me these zoobabies and the person I was going to see anyway is all over it– Nuh-uh.”

“Oh, I know.  It’s been like that for me as well, all these Odd Coincidences. Well, anyway, I’m running off to the store now and pick up some sandals for Peach. Are there any clothes I could pick up for you guys? Jeans or tees or–”

“No, we’re good,” Keisha goes flat again. “Don’t worry about Peach, we’ll see to her.”

“It’s clinic policy,” Emma says. She feels her backbone stiffening up. Seung looks over to his boss as if he’d like to contradict her. Time to get out, before she snaps back something regrettable.

Fozzie even warned her, once, that some folks weren’t happy about needing help, and they hated admitting it when they got it. Some other folks were sure the world owed them everything, so they took it all for granted, and treated their rescuers like dirty servants. And some people were just too angry to keep a lid on it.

Fozzie just smiled, telling her. It didn’t bother him.  He’s seen too much weird to get ruffled over it.

Doctor Alexander gives Emma a glance, eyebrow raised.

She nods stiffly, and says, “So after I get back from that, I’ll head off to my laptop. Give me a call if you need anything, Doctor.”

Keisha gives one of those grunts that says worlds.

Emma heads for the door, tight-lipped.

File drawers clatter. Alexander’s voice comments, “Busy lady. Works on all kinds of stuff on her computer, tracking things, keeping up on legal cases, running business stuff for folks. No time for visiting like this, most days.”

“Good for her ass,” Keisha’s voice replies.

Then the latch clicks, and their voices are muffled. Emma lifts her head and folds her arms and walks away, disappointed. She was looking forward to talking to another woman about Dance, about Dance’s genetic twin, hoping for some common ground with the fierce black woman. But she’s been living in the South long enough to know that plenty of folks will not respond kindly to innocent West-Coast-style overtures from her.  She’s never cautious enough.

It always makes her so furious.

Kissing Peach Happy

Well, at least the credit card worked as advertised. Round about dusk the second night, Keisha pulled off the road and picked a cheap motel with a weird-shaped parking lot on a hill that couldn’t accommodate a lot of big rigs, and got a ground floor room near it, which took going back to the desk clerk and using her mild voice on him. The kind of voice that could stand there being mulish and smelly all night long.

That room did make it easier to walk Peach in safely, even with the two raggedy thick-looking Hispanic boys watching the corners and steering some odd-looking people up to the party rooms on the top floor, far side. She’d worked enough parties like it that she knew sad and cheap when she saw it. But in one way it reassured her. She figured she was much less likely to get somebody local shooting shit out of her room if the locals had that kind of income-producing activity going on. Much safer than if the place had been totally quiet. Not like the heavy bass beat rumbling through the rafters wouldn’t have been there anyway, whatever place she could afford to risk, anyway. And this one had, thank God, a shower that worked, more or less. Keisha experimented until she had the temperature sorted out safely, and called Peach.

“Yes, Peach, you go first, you been wanting to get cleaned up for ages, now’s your chance.” It also allowed her to get busy unloading the truck, with Peach safely busy. She and the Chinese guy hauled in their pathetic bags of dirty clothes, cleared the trash out of the cab, hauled in the groceries she’d bought. Sunuvabitch, the store had been nervewracking, trying not to fret in line while Peach was out there alone in the cab with the Chinese guy. The funny part was to come out and find them both hanging tight just under the window, like a couple of dogs watching nervously for her to come back, and apparently completely unconscious of the fact that they were all wrapped up together in the driver’s seat, with the Chinese guy holding Peach and stroking her ears to calm her down. Keisha opened the cab door and there they were, blinking at her, and then grinning with relief.

Keisha locked the cab–not that it was going to stop any of the thick-necked party guys eying her truck, but at least she could make it noisier for them–and then she threw the deadbolt on the door of the motel room, and let out a little air from the breath she’d been holding.

“This place smell funny,” the Chinese guy said, making the same yuck! face that Peach did.

“Yeah, that’s the cleaners they use,” Keisha agreed. She rummaged in a grocery bag, held out a water bottle to him. He drank it all down. “You wanna run the cooler?”

He wiped his face and nodded, fiddled with the box at the front window. Much of the air blew uselessly up into the curtain, and it smelled odder yet, but at least the air was moving. He leaned into it, and drank another water bottle.

“You running a fever?” she asked.

He waved his hands that he didn’t know.

“C’mere,” she said, beckoning. She laid the back of her wrist on his forehead, and then his arm, and then on the base of his neck. She felt the little jerk-stop in his muscles, standing still under the touch when his initial reflex was to push her away. She looked into his eyes, and laid her wrist on his throat, and under his chin. “It’s hot, but I wonder maybe you got a bit of a temp, yeah. Get you in that shower, that’ll make you feel better. Take that shirt off, lemme see your back and look at that bite Peach gave you, huh?”

He gave her a long, unblinking look. “I need help.”

“Your back hurting?”

“Yes.”

“Okay,” Keisha said, turning on a light while he unbuttoned the shirt as far as it would go. She gripped the sleeves and tugged the shirt off over his head as gently as she could.

He stood still, eyes shut, lips closed down tight over his teeth, as she tossed the shirt aside.

Well, he was worth looking at, gotta give him that. Boxer-style manboobs, gotta love ’em, Keisha told herself, and touched his arm. “Lemme see under this bandage.”

He held the forearm out for her, not opening his eyes.

“That bad? Sounds like I gotta push that knob back in again?”

“Yes.”

“We gonna break your spine one of these days doing that? Would it be better to leave it out until you can get a doctor to work on it?”

He opened his eyes, staring off into the shadows. He did not look happy.

Keisha peeled tape on his forearm. The area was a little dirty on the edges. The bite itself was scabbed and oozing a little, not bad. “You got a good hard-working immune system, my man,” she said.

“Your man?” he said, blinking at her.

“Till I say otherwise,” she said, and pushed lightly at him to turn around. “Okay, can you bend forward? Put hands on knees, say.”

He did it, but he made a little sound, as if it hurt to do so.

She touched the knob, about tangerine-sized now, poked at the bruises with the sides and pads of her fingers, working around to figure out what shape that thing in him was. Under the puffiness and liquid she could push around was a surprisingly small bit of something hard. It felt more like some fragment she’d seen in a gunshot scar, not like a misplaced vertebra poking outward. She didn’t try to wiggle it around, didn’t dare, but she felt certain it wasn’t part of his back. She could feel the knobs on his vertebrae, all perfectly normal and solidly connected, and this thing was moving between them. Sliding in like a goddamn knife or something. Or migrating out, like some scrap of shrapnel. “I don’t like it. It ain’t right. That don’t belong in you, I’d swear it. I don’t see a scar. What happened? When you get it?”

“Not know,” he whispered.

“You don’t know?” Keisha demanded.

He straightened up, right in her face. “No!”

“Don’t get mad, I’m trying to help,” Keisha said, eyeball to eyeball with him.

For a long scary moment he glared right back, and it was touch and go if he was going to lose his temper, in pain and tired.

Keisha had never had any feral animal glare at her so steadily for that long, without one blink.

Then they both heard Peach singing. His face relaxed completely. He blinked, looked down, and then he rested his shoulder against her. Just leaned into her.

Keisha put her arm around his waist. “I hear you. It must hurt like a mofo. Boy, I hear you, sugar. Can’t give you any more pain pills for another, what two hours? We’re overloading you as it is. Goddamn, when Vicodin ain’t doing it for you, you shouldn’t be up walking the streets, man.”

He sighed. Then he wiped his eyes, and tilted his head back, and he gave a sharp little gasp. “It go back!”

Keisha blinked at him. “What, it slid back in again?”

“Yes! We stand that way,” he said, gesturing at her.

“Okay, we gotta remember that trick,” Keisha said.

“Magic fix Keisha,” he said.

She smiled. “I’ll let you think so!”

“Thank you,” he said.

“For what?”

“For food, for water, for driving, for fix me,” he said.

“Least I could do,” she said, and shrugged. “You saved Peach’s life, you pulled her back in when she woulda fallen out of that open door, fighting you. Ain’t never gonna forget that.”

“You love Peach,” he said.

“Yeah,” she said, tired and wry and a bit amazed at herself.

“You kiss Peach happy.”

“Well, not the way she wants, yet. Ain’t worked out if that’s a bad thing, she ain’t all up on her feet as a grownup, just cause she got feelings.”

“Peach love you.”

“Yeah,” Keisha said. “That’s a big job. Trying to do it right for her.”

He leaned into her again, and sighed. “Better.” Then he lowered his head, stretching his neck and shoulders to either side, and Keisha put up her hand and stroked those heavy lats the same way she might pet Peach’s skull and neck and ears. He reacted about the same way, too. He leaned harder, twisting for her to get at more of him. “Okay, lay down on the bed, let’s see if the back thing is fixed for a coupla hours.”

“I lay down, I sleep,” he said, and lifted his head and looked at her. “Shower first, I not smell bad.”

“You don’t smell bad now,” Keisha said. “You just smell like two days inna truck. And some kind of resin, like they burn in church or something. Kinda dusty or something.”

“Okay smell?”

“Yeah,” Keisha said, puzzled. “It’s a little odd, but what do I know? I ain’t been smellin’ sweaty athlete men for some time.” She leaned closer, smiling, and watched his face get ready for something like getting smacked, or pinched, or some other practical joke from her. “You could get that shower now, there’s Peach.”

He turned his head, and his mouth hung open.

She knew how he felt.

Peach was ruffling a towel up and down her fur, singing, wandering around the room with happy little dance steps. Her leg seemed to be carrying her just fine. She hummed.

“Off you go, and wash out some underwear while you’re in there,” Keisha said, going extra-bossy to make him move past the vision of Peach prancing around like that, naked.

“Yes,” he said, blinking, and trailed off when she gave him an extra push on the butt. He had a nice butt there, too, damn her imagination.

Now the tough part, Keisha admitted to herself, was what she was going to do about it when she needed to get in that shower, and leave the two of those happy little campers alone together to amuse themselves in the room. Her imagination was well up to making suggestions about what they might get up to. The surprising part was how she liked the idea of seeing what he would do to pleasure Peach, if he paid attention to what Peach wanted, doing things as much as Peach wanted him to do it, and what Peach would like to do to him. Keisha shook her head. Since when did sex turn into a spectator sport for her?

At least he didn’t get out of the bathroom totally naked. He wrapped up in a towel, but that didn’t leave a whole lot to the imagination. Peach was liking it, too.

Keisha might be tired, but she still had enough brain to come up with something she could do. Keisha said, “Peach, you come talk to me in here while I’m washing up, okay?”

Peach was happy to do that. She just smiled very wide at the Chinese guy and waved at him before she settled to sitting on the toilet lid, singing. She pouted a little when Keisha closed the bathroom door, and cheered up, watching when Keisha started peeling off dirty clothes. She gave Keisha a big hug coming in and out of the shower, she didn’t care if it got her wet again. Keisha gave her a kiss both times, too, making sure Peach got a reward for being patient. And not a little peck of a kiss, either. One of the kind that let her learn more about Peach’s sharp little teeth, and the slightly raspy texture of her tongue, and made her think long, hot thoughts about what that tongue would be like elsewhere. “Okay, that’s good, slow down, momma,” Keisha said, surfacing with a long, deep gasp for air. “Easy there.” That was when she realized Peach had opened the door to let the bathroom cool off.

When she looked up, she saw the Chinese guy was lying in bed, in full view of the open bathroom door, curled up on his side under the covers, looking right in at them. He looked drowsy and relaxed, and as if he really didn’t care if he was lying in a sticky wet spot on the sheet.

Keisha sighed and dragged a towel over herself. So much for keeping a lid on all that stuff. She wiped the water out of her hair–three swipes and that was done, sadly– and another swipe at her front and her ass, and then she marched past him and got her wet underwear hung up to dry on a chair by the air conditioner vents. “Okay, showtime, you’ve seen me, you’ve seen Peach, let’s see you,” Keisha said, and flipped the sheet back from the guy in bed.

He blinked up at her, shifted one knee down, and let her look. Uncircumcised prick, with the foreskin pulled back from a thick, reddened head that was still gleaming wet. A little clear honey-thick cum oozed from it. His hair was shaved into a little triangle or something, no hair on his balls, which made her wonder a little. There was something odd down under there, but the size of his prick got in the way of seeing it better. If it was some odd piercing she’d get a look at it soon enough, the way she was going. Then he rolled carefully onto his belly, and spread his knees apart, although nothing much showed, not with the bulk of those butt muscles. He turned his head, blinking at her. He wasn’t looking quite as sleepy, either. Then he rolled onto his other side, and lifted one brow silently.

“Goddamn,” Keisha said.

“Smell good,” Peach said, leaning into Keisha until she put her arm around the girl’s damp furry body.

She kissed Peach on the forehead. “You are a funny girl, momma, you surely are.”

“Lick you?” Peach said.

“Momma, we shouldn’t, I gotta drive in the morning,” Keisha said.

“Sleep, long day morning,” the Chinese guy said, although parts of his body were starting to disagree with him. He didn’t try to cover it, either.

“You want licks,” Peach said to him.

He smiled. “Yes.”

“Sleep now?” Peach demanded, pointing at him. Her effect on this particular naked man didn’t seem to surprise her.

“Keisha say sleep, we do that,” he said.

“Peach, how many guys did you lick?” Keisha said.

She frowned. “No licks. Only pets. Send me down below deck when they smell like that.” She pointed at the man in the bed. “They only stick it in smooth girl got big things.” She cupped her breasts.

The man in the bed sighed, turned his head, covered his eyes with one hand, and muttered something in something that was possibly Russian. Whatever it was, it sounded rude.

Keisha frowned again. “They didn’t let you lick them?”

“No.”

“They didn’t lick you?”

She shook her head, laughing.

Keisha put her hand down, smoothed it over Peach’s thigh, upward. “Did they touch you here?”

Again she laughed, shaking her head. Then she wiggled her hips a little, pushing into Keisha’s light touch. “You lick?”

“I’d love to,” Keisha said, aware that her last remaining brain cell was probably leaking out her ear. What the fuck was the matter with her, playing around like this with Peach, for God’s sake!

Then Peach was looking at the man in the bed, and goddammit, she was smiling. So was he. Peach pressed Keisha’s hand up closer into the warmest, softest fur on her body. “Lick you,” she breathed, and licked water drops off Keisha’s shoulder, up onto her collarbone, down her breast. “Come lick?” Peach said, beckoning to the man in the bed.

He was right there at Keisha’s side, sliding in under Keisha’s other arm. He looked at them both, a long, serious, dark look, and he said, “Lick Peach? Lick Keisha?”

Keisha looked at them both. Peach, she had no doubts about. She looked at the man, whose name she didn’t even know, and she closed her hand on a wad of his hair by his ear, and drew him up closer, until his body was bumping hers, and his chest was pressing her breast. His eyes were huge as cannonbores, he was breathing hard. “Gimme that mouth, I bin wanting to fuck that mouth all day,” she growled, and dove into him. He had a helluva tongue that went on for miles, plenty long enough to get down her throat too, once she let up a little bit. Oh, he wanted to kiss her elsewhere, no doubt of that. He was well up into the dog phase of humping her leg, already, when she pulled back from tongue-fucking his throat. “Right, now it’s Peach’s turn. How patient can you be?” She tugged on his hair, gently.

He smiled. “Good. I watch.”

“You like watching me kiss Peach, and lick Peach, and make Peach happy?”

“Yes,” he said.

“Right, sit on the end of the bed and watch, and then maybe we’ll see if you can make Peach happy too.”

“I want to lick Peach.”

“You can lick her hands,” Keisha said. “Make love to her fingers. All right, Peach momma, where do you want me to lick you first? You point.”

Peach shuddered, and pointed at her face.

“Right,” Keisha breathed at her. “Okay, momma, I am gonna lick your face, and kiss your sweet lips, and make love to your tongue.”

She was all incredibly soft kitty fur and sharp little pointed teeth and a wild acrobatic tongue, and Keisha had to back off to catch her breath and guide Peach into sitting down. Keisha crawled up onto the bed next to Peach, and felt the Chinese guy move around to make room for her. That was good. He started licking Peach’s other hand, and Peach shuddered in place, gasping. Keisha leaned down and licked at the soft gray fur, ignoring the fuzz that came off on her lips and tongue, working her way down to Peach’s nipples. “How’s that feel? Too much? How sensitive are these gorgeous little girls? More? Tell me how it feels, momma.”

“Yes, yes that, that,” Peach said, thrusting her chest upward at Keisha. Her hand came up and clutched at Keisha’s waist, and she felt sharp nails start to dig in. Peach moaned. “Oh sorry, sorry–careful–”

“That’s good,” Keisha murmured, and suckled the other woman’s nipples with some intensity. She brought up one hand and stroked the fur on the swell of the breasts, feeling her jerk and moan. “Mama, looks like I could bring you with just a touch on your girls here.”

“Lick,” Peach moaned, and brought Keisha’s hand down her belly, down onto the soft mount of her pubis. Keisha lifted her hand away, and Peach moaned, pleading.

“No, no, no quick jerkoff for our first time, mama, I gotta lick my way down there, you gotta feel my tongue on you,” Keisha said, taking her time at licking down the darker line of fur that led down to the woman’s navel, and then the treasure trail joining little dark stripes down to her pubes. Keisha petted the fur there, so soft, not wiry like her own at all, and then she breathed on it, and said, softly, “Smells good, mama, smells real good. Legs apart, let me kiss you good.”

She heard a moan from the other side of the bed. Keisha lifted her head, and looked at the Chinese guy. He was rubbing his face into Peach’s fingers, and Peach was stroking him, running her fingers into his mouth, petting down his chest. Peach had the presence of mind to rub her whole arm against his chest, rubbing her knuckles across his nipples, and she grinned when he leaned into it and practically cried out with need. Peach was enjoying herself.

That girl is not nearly out of her head enough, Keisha told herself sternly. Falling down on the job there. We’ll just see about Miss Peach being able to think that much.

Keisha lowered her mouth back to breathing on the soft fur on the girl’s pubes. She slid her tongue over them, around them, slid almost down to her ass, up her belly to her navel, and then down again, diving right in between those first pair of lips, deep between them, probing for the hood of her clitoris. She knew Peach had one, she’d seen it there. And it was coming up hard, a little point of firm tissue that she could flick and twist and push at. She felt the legs flailing and the belly jerking and the hips pushing up into her face, bruising Keisha’s tongue on her own teeth, and she only let up by diving deeper into the girl’s vagina, relieving the pressure on the clitoris. She knew the limits on her tongue as an organ of penetration, and came back to suckling on Peach’s clitoris. She got her hands around Peach’s ass, gripping her fingers firmly into the globes of muscle, and lifted her up a little off the bed, making Peach feel herself being lifted up to get her cunt licked. When Peach was whooping hard for air, Keisha let up, lifting her face free.

“Okay,” she said, looking at the Chinese guy, who was licking frantically at Peach’s palm. He looked up, dazed.

“C’mere,” Keisha told him, opening her mouth to be kissed.

He sat up, leaned across Peach, and dove in. “Mmm,” he moaned, and he moaned louder when she drew back.

“That taste good?” she asked him, looking into his eyes.

“Mmm,” he said. His eyes were wide and soft and all pupil.

“How many people have you licked?” Keisha asked him.

He panted, blinked, shook his head. “No fuck, no licks.”

Keisha stared at him. “Nobody?”

He licked his lips, tipping his head back, and took a deep breath. “No.”

“You’re a big buff good-lookin’ guy in your own country, why aren’t the mall rats all over you?” Keisha demanded.

“I make that people afraid,” he said.

“So you don’t even know if you do weird shit when somebody licks you,” Keisha said.

He smiled. “No. Find out?”

“Love to,” Keisha said. “But not risking a chance of hurting Peach. I wanna make Peach happy. Then we find out about you.”

He smiled. “I happy.”

“Well, yeah! Never been laid and now you finally get some girl juice on your face?”

“Want more girl juice,” he said.

“Always a good sign in a guy who likes girls to be happy, I think,” Keisha said, grinning back at him. “What, am I laying two virgins at once tonight? Goddamit, I must be living right, finally.”

“I lick you?” he asked.

“Yes, as long as you’re careful when I need to move around for Peach,” Keisha said.

He moved, just like that, so he was on the end of the bed, with his head between Keisha’s knees. He licked the inside of her thigh.

“Oh hell, that’s distracting,” Keisha gasped.

“Lick Peach,” he said.

Keisha took a deep breath down in the fur of Peach’s pubes. God, she smelled so damn marvelous. Like clean soapy girl and warm fur and dried flowers, and there was that sweet musky foam of Venus, sliding out onto her tongue, warm and viscous and clean and smelling of the sea. Peach lunged her hips up and down, and Keisha had to time it, teasing her, sucking on that clit. She alternated with pushing her tongue as hard as she could into the upper end of Peach’s vulva. Peach gasped, stiffed, arched her back, and at almost the same moment the Chinese guy had got his head up there between Keisha’s thighs and he was pushing up into her cunt with his mouth.

He didn’t know how to use that bloody long tongue, but he figured it out pretty fast.

Keisha had to stand to, rigid, not bucking around making it harder for him while he felt his way around in there. Then he found his way to her clitoris and started working that, along with diving down past it into her vulva, and Keisha was sobbing for air when she came, shuddering with her knees clamped all anyhow around his head. He was smiling when she let go of him, though.

What was there to say when she flopped onto the bed next to Peach? Peach smiled at her. Oh, Peach was happy. Good, give the grownup in the bunch this one thing, Keisha had managed that much, she made Peach’s first experience a good one so far, pray God it didn’t all end badly. Keisha turned her head and looked at the guy who was still leaning into her thigh, breathing in deep sniffs of Keisha’s wet crotch, as if he really did like it. He smiled at her with the same dorky, stoned expression as Peach. Then he flopped limply onto the bed on the other side of Keisha, and told her, “You make me come too, not even touch my cock.”

“We’ll work on that a little bit later,” Keisha said. “I ain’t done with you tonight. I think you got more boy juice in there you could share, if somebody came at you the right way.”

He blinked at her. “I come twice.”

“Well, we’ll see. Gimme a little bit, I’ll think of something. Why don’t you tell me what you want licked?”

“Where? I lick him lots now,” Peach offered, bouncing up on one elbow and smiling, as if she was ready for Round Two right away.

“Okay, but none of this–” Keisha reached down and touched his penis, which shuddered, and with her other hand she touched Peach on the pubes, “–in this, not playing bare, you got that? I got some rubbers in my purse. You don’t go sticking that thing in Peach’s cunt without rubbers, right?”

He nodded solemnly. She touched his hip, and he flinched. Touched him on the side, on the ribs, she got another tiny little jerk, and not because he’d just come. Guy was used to getting hit hard whenever somebody got that close to him. No wonder he never got laid, he probably ran away from most people. Reminded her of a kicked dog who’d finally got too big to bully.

“What are rubbers?” Peach said, leaning in on her shoulder and rubbing her cheek on Keisha’s collarbone.

“I’ll show you. I’ll show you on him, even. But gimme a few minutes.”

“Long drive,” the Chinese guy murmured, and shifted up onto one elbow, looking at Keisha as if he was concerned. He put up his hand and stroked his fingertips lightly through the stubble of her dreads.

For a moment she stiffened. What in hell gave him a right to–she thought, and then she caught herself. No guy she ever had was a cuddler, and it was her loss. She knew it wasn’t always like that for other people. So why was it so weird that this guy was?

If he was really a virgin, he didn’t have much of a clue what rules anybody had. Why shouldn’t he feel just like Peach, why wouldn’t he want to hug up close with his lovers too? Nothing wrong with him, even if he was fighting that jerk-stop thing.

It was her. She had the same jerk-stop reaction he did, and he knew it, too. He laid his head down on her ribs, and she felt his hair tickling the side of her breast. His hand came up and touched her breast, rested on her ribs, slid down onto her hip. Not so light it was ticklish, and it helped that it was his open, flat hand. “Soft,” he whispered, and kissed her cheek.

Keisha reached up, took his hand, and kissed his palm, firmly. Then she lifted it across her and put it on Peach’s shoulder, and watched him stroke Peach’s arm. “Peach is really soft.”

He leaned in closer, looking at Peach. “Soft, so soft,” he said.

“Yeah,” Keisha said.

“I like soft,” he said. He reached wider, although it seemed to hurt him, and stroked Peach’s cheek, and down her back. Then he touched Keisha on the shoulder, and stroked her collarbone, and down her midline, and up around her breast. “Soft,” he said again, and leaned in and kissed Keisha on the cheek, and then on the upper slope of her breast. He shifted, rested his head on her shoulder like a mirror of Peach, and sighed.

Keisha lifted her arm and stroked her hand lightly down the man’s chest, onto his belly, down onto his hip and the slope off into the muscle of his butt. The skin was soft. The muscles weren’t. Sweat came off on her fingers. She lifted her hand to her nose. Soap, man, semen, and that tickle of dusty resinous herb, like rolling around out in some of that thorny brush. Made her think of cats sunning themselves. She licked it off her fingertips, smiling at him, and watched his pupils flare open. Oh yeah, he was not done for the night, not by a very long way.

What she had in mind might finish him off, tired as they all were. And there were quite a few things she didn’t have the gear for. Yet. She thought about him rolling round letting her look at him. Well, she was gonna have to hit the store again anyway sometime tomorrow, might as well pick up some lube to teach him a few other new things, tomorrow night.

It was odd thinking of how she was going to get her mouth all over him and make him come a couple more times, probably yelling louder than the bass throbbing in the roof joists right now. She knew she was going to find out lots more about how his body worked and how to make him scream in total and literal fucking abandon–but right now she didn’t even know his name or his family or anything worth a damn about him. Well, except that he could shoot pretty well and kill people, and he was willing to chase down rabbits for Peach.

Did anything else matter, just now?

No, not really, she thought, and lifted her hand and stroked hair out of his eyes, stroked along his face. He looked at her, not blinking when her fingers got near his eyes. It was like he was doubledaring her, holding still for whatever she asked him to do. So she stroked the pads of her fingers along his face, learning him, feeling how he’d shaved it smooth, feeling how heavy those facial bones were. She shifted around on her side, came up on her elbow, looking at him, touching his ears and neck and shoulders. “Lay back, sugar, find a comfortable position for your back, you might be there awhile. Peach, what part do you wanna lick? You can work on his legs, too, sure, just don’t go licking his prick. I got other things I need to do with that. You can lick his tummy if you want.”

Keisha got up, leisurely, and rummaged in her purse, and took in the sight on the bed with pleasure as she came back to them. Peach was a thorough little gal, she’d started off with his feet. He was groaning already, with his fingers buried in the short fluff of fur on Peach’s bottom, and Peach was licking her way up his chest, sucking on his nipples, halfway biting them. He shifted on his side, stretching out his legs, and he almost rolled onto his back.

“No, none of that, we aren’t having you get hurt again,” Keisha warned him, and tapped his knee. “Now shift this knee, let me get up in there.” She ran her fingers briskly up his thigh, scrubbed her palm across his belly, slid her hand down onto his scrotum. He jerked, and opened his eyes and his mouth wide. Keisha chuckled. “You can yell all you like, they ain’t gonna hear you over the music. Just sing out what you want, sugar, and we’ll see what we can do about it.”

Peach nipped him, carefully, and he gave a yell. She did it again.

“There,” he gasped, arching his chest, and Peach giggled, pleased that she was having an impact.

“You just start talking,” Keisha advised him, and leaned down to breath across the man’s scrotum. Then her fingers slid across a strange little ridge of tissue, bulging out until it halfway cradled his testicles.

What in hell– Keisha looked up. The guy had his head buried in the fur of Peach’s shoulder, and then he started licking his way down Peach’s breast toward the nipple dangling like a tease above him. When Peach drew back, wincing as if the nipple was still too sensitive, he didn’t try to grab. He drew in a hard, panting breath, and sweat ran down his belly and thighs. He was shaking in place, but he wasn’t mauling Peach, he was still stroking her lightly with those scarred hands, petting the fur smooth.

Keisha pulled her butt around and shifted the lampshade to get a better look at him. Fucking weird–that hard rubbery little ridge glinted and flickered in the lamplight, like there were tiny bits of something shiny buried in his skin. Keisha leaned in close to lick the skin across his thigh, looking at an angle across him. She could see the same little glints, but much smaller, at his knee, and hip joint, and along the curve of his abs, catching the light in flickers as he panted under Peach’s weight on his chest. When she looked carefully in the dim light, she could see the same thing all over him.

He wasn’t just Chinese any more than Peach was just a nice girl, Keisha thought. Damned if she knew what he was.

She stroked the upper curve of that ridge just as she might stroke Peach’s vulva lips. He sighed, arching into it like a woman, mouth open. Oh, he liked that. She licked at the upper end of the ridge, where it faded out above his penis, almost unseen until she got down to the underside of his crotch. He gave a high odd little cry, straining up for more, and she laid her hand on it, flat, making him shudder.

There was a matching stiff little lip on both sides, too, joined up at the top like a women’s vagina, but it didn’t stop where it ought to. It kept going past his balls. Not a hermaphrodite, since he wouldn’t have had those nice sturdy balls in a nicely seamed sac like that. Well, unless he was some kind of conjoined partial twins, with partially duplicated body parts. Keisha had seen some strange things at parties and carny shows, but this beat them all in a really quiet way.

The ridge itself sure wasn’t scar tissue, it was even more sensitive to touch that the wrinkled skin of his ball sack. The little ridge, maybe as thick as her finger, swelled a little more, darkening, as the shaft of his penis stiffened. She looked at that ridge, stroked it, leaning in and licking it where it was the largest as it cupped around his scrotum. He moaned, pushing his hips upward, begging for more.

She’d thought he shaved himself down there–hey, some folks liked it–but no, he was just made that way. That straight, stiff black pubic hair of his stopped in a line just above the ridge, and his balls had no hair at all, bald as a baby, and not from being shaved. She stroked his balls gently. Without any hair, it was amazing to touch. Softest skin on earth, she thought, watching his prick leak and tremble where it hung above his thigh.

She made him move his knees a little more, and she pushed some of those heavy thigh muscles out of the way to get a better look at him. The ridge ran down alongside his scrotum and kept going. No hair at all inside the lines, either. She touched the inner cheeks of his butt muscles, parting them with both hands, and he just sighed and strained wider, popping his hips up high for her, letting her in there to touch him anywhere she liked. Not like any other guy she’d ever been with. He didn’t know her from Eve either, and here he was spreading everything for her, letting her in there.

The ridge was a little wall of tissue that moved and breathed and flexed right along with the sphincter of his ass. The damn thing enclosed his entire genital area and his asshole. and beyond it, at the far end, there was some kind of broad bony knob about four inches long poking out between his butt muscles, as if it was part of his backbone down there. The ridge curved around at the base of that knob. The knob had nerves in it, some kind of joints, like some rudimentary tail. It twitched and moved and he gave another moan when she touched that. The little knob strained toward her touch, turning to a limited degree, and it glinted with lots of little speckly glitters, lots of that dusting to it. She breathed on it, and the damn thing changed color, went pale, and then congested dark pulpy red like another prick. He gave a yell and thrust upward, hard, with his hips jerking and his leg muscles trembling. “There, please there, lick,” he gasped out, shaking all over.

It was awfully close to rimming him, but hey, he’d just got a shower and he still smelled of soap, it was probably fine. Keisha breathed on it a little more, fighting back horror-movie visions of the devil’s second prick growing like a hydraulic pole, ramming down her throat and gutting her from the inside out. “Right,” she said, and touched her tongue to it.

It tasted like the rest of his private parts, like licking his scrotum. He shuddered as she leaned across him. His prick jumped, and then trembled and drooled in place.

“You like that? You like me touching it there?”

His chest heaved up and down with deep, hard breaths. “I–never– I like– what is that?”

“Beats me, baby, but I’m gonna see if it feels good for you. You tell me if it’s getting too much for you,” Keisha said, and got her mouth down there, suckling it gently, ready to pull back quick.

His hips started rocking, hard, belly muscles pulling up. She drew back and fisted that strange little knob, stroking upward, but a lot more gently than she would have handled anybody’s prick.

His body started to buck around.

Peach laid herself carefully and deliberately across him, holding down his chest so he wouldn’t move that upper back too much. He gave a little moan, and breathed into her furry ribs, and just when Keisha’s hand was speeding up, he gasped, “Stop, stop,” and she did. Peach pulled herself up, hastily, patting at him to make sure he was all right.

“Too intense, huh?” Keisha asked, and stroked his thighs instead.

He laid there, nodding when Peach nuzzled at him. “Good now. Too much, not get crazy, yeah?”

Peach made mrrping noises at him, licking at his face and ears, nudging him, worried.

He blinked and stared up at the ceiling. The whole place was throbbing with dance music, which probably didn’t help a bit. Keisha felt his legs and belly ease a little bit, and he sighed. “Better.”

Peach petted his hair back from his face, stroked his shoulder and along onto his ribs. He lifted his arm and wrapped it around Peach’s waist and sighed again, turned his face into Peach’s breasts. “Oh, soft, oh yes,” he said, ruffling Peach’s fur. Then he lifted his head and looked into Peach’s eyes, and stroked her rumped fur around her ears. He wasn’t looking at Keisha when he said softly, “Kiss Peach?”

Peach looked at him gravely, a long time, and leaned in and nipped at his jaw, and then at his neck, and his earlobe. Then she laid her mouth fully on his, and they both closed their eyes, concentrating.

“Ummmmm,” Peach moaned, leaning into him harder, with her fingers kneading dents into the muscles of his shoulder blade.

“Easy with the claws, there,” Keisha said, touching Peach’s arm.

“Mmm mmm,” Peach said, opening her eyes, alarmed, but he only shifted his head and dove deeper into her mouth, pushing his arm back into her grip.

“Okay, as long as you’re careful,” Keisha said.

The only sound for some time was the two of them moaning a little, hands rustling the bedding now and then as they shifted. After awhile, Peach drew back, breathing hard, and kissed her way down the guy’s chest, down his belly, and up onto Keisha’s arm, up to Keisha’s face. “Are you happy, momma? Is that good?” Keisha asked, petting her.

Peach nodded, and drew Keisha’s hand down to her cunt.

“Man, you’re wet, momma, we gotta finish making you happy,” Keisha said, rubbing gently, and feeling Peach moan and push herself into the touch.

Then Peach surprised her. She stopped moving, opened her eyes, and frowned. “No, no, bad. Me lick him.”

The man in the bed next to Peach stroked his hand along her thigh, along the slope of her rump, up onto her back, and watched Peach arch her back, presenting her hind end upward. “All good,” he murmured, stroking the fur down into order again. “All good, Peach happy, me good.”

“It’s okay, momma, we both like seeing you happy. Tell you what, you lick him all over, except not his prick, okay? I’ll see what I can do about making you happy. And hey, you with the cock, you can pet her into doing some more of that humpy ass up thing, right?”

He nodded, and put some time and attention into figuring out just what made Peach arch her back and mewl like a cat in heat. She ended up rubbing her tits into his mouth, too. Keisha got around behind Peach and pushed her knees apart and licked her and stroked her and finally pushed her own weight into her, wrapping her arms around Peach’s hips and finger-stroking her cunt from the front. It took Peach about two minutes flat to tip over into it, shaking and yowling and raking at the sheets rather than tear into either of them.

“Easy, easy now, momma, lay down and take a rest,” Keisha said, and felt the man’s hands come up along with hers. He guided Peach into laying down next to him.

“Okay?” Peach asked the guy, blinking at him, and he smiled back at her.

“All good,” he said, stroking her face, petting the fur straight down her arm.

Jeez, Keisha thought, kneeling up and looking at the pair of them stretched out there on the wrecked sheets. Peach needed another shower, and the Chinese guy was shining with sweat as if he was greased up for some porn video. He looked pretty goddamned ravished, with his face flushed and his lips all wet and red and his prick drooling and his knees about as far apart as they could go, laying partly on his side like that. “All good. No hurt.”

“Really?” Keisha said, pleased. “We gotta try some more of that.” She stretched out at his back, putting her hand round on his hip, and sliding down to pick up his penis, and start working it. He went rigid, gasping.

Keisha got up on her knees again, leaning so he would feel her breasts brushing across him as she leaned down into him. “Oh baby,” she murmured into his belly. “You just let it happen. We lick all over you.”

He gasped.

“Talk to me, baby, tell me where you want us to kiss you,” Keisha said.

Peach chuckled, and leaned down and licked his chest, licked at his nipples, chewed on him a little, and he flung his hands away from her and clutched at the sheet instead, gripping into the mattress, hard.

“Ahhahhah,” he panted, mouth wide. “Ahh.”

“That’s the problem of being a really strong guy, it’s hard to lose it and not hurt anybody,” Keisha said, breathing it across his belly, licking him slowly down to his crotch. Damn, he tasted good. That musk, down there in his public hair, along his balls, down there with that alien little ridge pleading to get some attention. She licked that, and he shuddered, his belly muscles curled up, and his cock shuddered in place, pulsing rapid little spurts of clean gooey fluid. He didn’t yell when he came. Good to know, Keisha thought. She caught up the mess on a fast food napkin, and set it aside. She looked up at him.

He lay there looking back at her, and his belly heaved a sigh.

“Better?” Keisha said, and crawled up to lay next to him, rest some of the muscles that got tired in awkward positions. Hell, at least her hand wasn’t aching so bad right now. Better than most of the painkillers she’d ever tried, and sex almost never did that for her before.

He lifted one arm, stroked Peach, who smiled at him, and then he rolled over onto the other side, leaning into Keisha. He put his arm around her waist, rested his head so he was breathing into her chest, down between her breasts. “Smell so good,” he said.

“Yeah? You too,” Keisha said, and rested her arm along his ribs and stroked her fingers into his hair, along his scalp, down onto his neck. He turned his head, to make it easier for her, and heaved another big sigh, blowing it into her skin. “Funny guy. You gonna bite if I pet your belly too long, like a cat?” Keisha murmured.

“Mmmm,” he agreed.

Keisha looked up. Peach was watching them, sitting up with her eyes very bright, looking pleased with herself, as if the whole thing was her idea. Keisha smiled at her. “Okay, Peach, you did good. How are you feeling?”

Peach gave a happy little growly noise and darted around the bed, crawling up at Keisha’s back, wrapping an arm and leg close around Keisha so all that hot damp kitty fur pressed against Keisha’s hot back. Keisha sighed, puffing up strands of the guy’s hair. When her cunt let up yelling that loudly, the rest of her had other things to say. God, she was tired.

“You sleep, I not hard now, I please Peach,” he said.

“Oh, you’d get hard.” Kisha chuckled. “Man, I am falling asleep. You two be good. You can kiss but no prick, right? Peach? Okay. I’ll haveta show you later about rubbers, okay?”

And she was out cold, just like that. She woke up a couple of times. One time was because they were rocking the bed too much, Peach had her hands all over the poor guy and he was getting noisy when he came that time. Another time was because they were tickling each other after another shower, giggling, and bumped into the bed. “Sorry,” he whispered, “We good. No prick, yes?”

“Good,” Keisha said, and closed her eyes.

Morning Tutorial

When she opened her eyes in the morning, she felt Peach in a warm lump behind her, but she saw him first. He was sitting on a chair by the window, naked, looking out through a gap in at the side of the curtains. Just watching things, alert. She noticed the wet clothes had been moved around to dry better. He blinked then, and yawned, and sprawled back at a weird angle in the chair, probably to ease pressure on his back. But no, it wasn’t just that. He reached down and shifted his balls out of the way and grabbed that little stub down at the base of his spine and moved it into a different position, looking down at himself and grimacing. Then he lifted his head and looked directly at her. “Dry up, not stay wet,” he said.

“Yeah, especially in this kinda muggy heat we’re gonna get,” she said, blinking at him.

He slapped one hand on his knee, and moved his legs wider for her to see. He pointed at it. “Grow.”

Keisha looked at him. “You’re sure.”

He nodded. He held out his fingers in a span two inches wide, and said, “Last week.” Then he pointed at it.

“Last week?”

“Kinda hurt,” he said, tipping his head back. “You lick, that grow and not hurt.”

Keisha grinned at him. “I bet,” she said.

He held up one hand. “True. Never not hurt, magic Keisha fix, all better.” And that cock of his was unfurling already, showing itself off, too. Most guys she knew on the big side were all queer bottoms, and she was wondering a bit about those invitations to get at all of him, but he sure did like woman smell and woman juice and woman bodies.

Keisha chuckled. “You keep thinking that way.” She turned her head. “God, five-thirty am, what is the matter with me, sleepin’ in that late?” But she sat up, and reached over to pick up one of the the little packets scattered in the dresser drawer by the bed. “Okay, bring me your horny old self, and let’s teach Peach about rubbers. I got me a boy to maul and a truck to load and I ain’t got a lot of time to get out of here before regular people notice.”

Peach sat up, yawning, and blinked at the proceedings. She was enthusiastic about joining the foreplay, and her tongue was amazing on Keisha’s body. Neither of them even had to touch the Chinese guy, he came up hard and ready the moment Keisha flung the blankets aside and guided Peach’s mouth down between her legs. “Yeah, that’s it, momma, oh, easy, I gotta hold onto it, you’re too good,” Keisha gasped. “Now, get that one–yeah, open it, that’s good, now unroll it a little, see which way it’s rolling. Pinch the tip, and roll it onto your average homegrown penis, which this one ain’t, this is one of your bigger guys here, and roll it up onto his shaft. Easy, like that. You got to watch those nails of yours, though, you poke holes, this condom ain’t gonna help you not get sick or pregnant, and I’m thinking pregnant is not a good one for us right now. You got it, Peach?”

Peach nodded.

The Chinese guy gave a little hiss as Peach leaned up beside him and smoothed the condom up the hard purplish length of him. and rubbed her cute little furry titties on his back.

“Okay, now we get to figure out how to fuck this boy without hurting his back. How about you be a pillow in front of the headboard, Peach, he leans back into you, and I come at him from in front, and we’ll see how that feels. How’s that? All right, here’s the program, my man. We’re gonna get you all hot and bothered and ready to punch out right away, so we don’t keep wallowing on you in the wrong place for long. You got other ideas, you tell us that too.”

He just smiled, settling down between Peach’s knees with Peach’s arms curled around his ribs and his head between her breasts. He gave a big happy sigh. He spread his knees, and Keisha got her mouth down there onto his balls and that ridge and that odd little stub, until he was jerking in place, cock straining in its rubber coating. Keisha rubbed her hand into her own cunt lips, and brought her damp hand up to his face, and he licked her fingers, groaning. Then she brought his knees down and she slid her legs around both his hips and Peach’s hips too. Keisha grasped the head of his cock, and guided him into herself, and sat down on him with a grunt.

Either it was timing or it was fate, because in that moment he fit in all the best ways. She’d had smaller men where it always felt like a dry, painful strain, aiming at some remote ideal in the sky or something that she ought to be ready for, and she wasn’t. Here he was bigger, and he slid in like silk, curving all the right ways, reaching the good spots as he moved. She rocked her hips, wanting it, wanting the whole guy down to the root. Keisha gave a deep sigh of happiness, leaned down and kissed him, taking his mouth, fucking his throat.

When she drew back for air, they were both heaving, unable to stop moving.

God, she gasped to herself, it’s been– too long– She angled her hips to please herself, and then he was moving. Oh man, was he doing it, and not gently, either. She could feel that odd little knob slapping forward too, as if it wanted to get a piece of her ass, and it felt damn good. Startling, but just right. Keisha smiled then, folded up a bit, and brought her mouth down onto his nipple, and felt Peach take up the idea by putting a hand on his other nipple, and stroke all over his torso while she was at it.

Too hot, too young, a virgin getting his cherry popped by two women at once–he was gone, as fast as she’d guessed he might lose it. He strained up in just a couple of minutes, totally silent, nose flaring wide, rigid.  Then he gave a loud snort and a gasp, and then he was falling back into Peach’s supporting hands, grunting for air.

Keisha grasped the rolled end of the condom, pulled her hips up and dragged her hungry unsatisfied cunt off of him, and flopped over onto her back. God, so close, and it’d been so long.

She blinked up in surprise.

He was up on his knees, leaning over her, and he said hoarsely, “Woman needs,” and lowered his head to kiss her on the mouth, and then trail down her breasts, and then down her belly, and down marvelously onto her cunt. He’d been watching what they liked, all right. He used his hands, too. Keisha arched up, yelling. Then she felt Peach leaning in, adding in a line of light kitty nips on her breasts, and then Peach kissed her on the mouth, while their not-so-Chinese man was down there kissing her clitoris. Keisha shook them both all round like a truck with an ignition problem. She couldn’t help it, she had whole-body orgasms. Not noisy all the time, thank God, but she gave her whole physical self over to it, and things moved. When she blinked back to herself, she found she’d wallowed around halfway off the bed.

“Woman needs,” the guy said solemnly, and then he looked at Peach, and smiled. “You?”

Peach giggled. “You lay on me, I come!”

“Wow,” Keisha said, blinking up. “Wha…how come you’re both up and moving?”

“Oh, I all happy for work,” he said. “Last night tired, hurt, sleepy. Not like all days. Other days–” he grinned, and stood up off the bed, looking absurd with the condom hanging off a half-erect penis.

“Okay, that’s good to know. Tell you what. Take that off, throw it away, wash up, and start packing. I think I’ll get a shower when you’re out. Peach, only do that with a rubber, right?”

Peach nodded. “More lick?”

“You still feeling it? Still need licks?” Keisha said.

Peach smiled, and leaned into her. “Happy. You?”

Keisha hugged her. Then she leaned on Peach to sat up, and beckoned at their guy. “C’mere.”

Their not-so-Chinese guy came over and stood by the bed, penis wet but denuded. Keisha looked at it, past it, upward.

He bent over and slid one hand onto Keisha’s loosened trap muscles, and kissed her on the mouth, and knelt down in front of her. He looked into her eyes. “You?”

Keisha looked at him. She nodded, slowly. “That was great licking,” she told him.

His face flashed into a broad smile. “Good teacher,” he said, and leaned in and kissed her again, just because. His arms slid around her waist, hands flattened out on her ribs, and then he was leaning into her breasts, his hips shoved in between her knees.

“Bad as a cat, you are,” Keisha said, raking her fingers through his hair. “Only you need a haircut. God, I could do that all over again, easy, until–”

“Until my wiener break,” he said, chuckling.

“Well, I always was pretty hard on my toys,” Keisha said, hugging him too, carefully.

He kissed her shoulder, and got up, and went off into the bathroom whistling. Peach joined him, and there was giggling. Keisha flopped back onto the bed. They were going to wear her down to a nubbin, they were. God, kids that young, fucking like bunnies every twenty minutes. She ought to make them do it on the floor while she got some sleep for a change. Well, hell, they’d probably end up fucking on the floor anyway, or the couch, or the chairs, or wherever.

And why, when she’d just been pleasured in all the best possible ways, was she daydreaming about seeing the two of them going at it, with their naked rumps in the air, rolling around free and happy and not a back problem in sight?

The Frog Prince

He’s leaning against the kitchen door frame, turning loops of string in his big hands, looks like. He is pretty. He’s wearing his dark hair long, loosely braided down his back, and he looks calm and easy, like he rides out a Category 3 storm every other Tuesday.

“Hey, Auntie,” he says. “We’ll see if all my hard work paid off, goin’ all over the parish with a truckload of plywood this past week or so. Storm’s supposed to be a bad one– plywood over the windows is useless if the whole house blows down.” He looks down at Haroldine. “Betcha missed me.”

“You’d never guess him for kin of mine, would you!” Haroldine says, tossing a meaning-laden glance at Grace, who has simply stopped moving in surprise. She’s beginning to lose track of the number of surprises she’s had today, and she’s sure there are bound to be more.

“I’ve got kisses for everyone, in just a sec,” he says then, faux-innocent, and playful, and serious, at the same time. “Miss Penelope, I found you some more stuff.” And he slips by Grace, handing his string-bundle over; it’s nylon and looks slippery and strong.

The spider-woman gives him a long, squinty look, but takes the string. “Oooh,” Penelope breathes. “More pretty stringlings for me to play with.”

“Your tricks,” Haroldine says, “are wasted on me, Hal.”

“He’s always playing these talkypretty games,” Penelope informs Dia sighingly, peering at her, and then smiling down at her new bundle, head tilted. “Look, it’s got such a nice tensile ssstrength, we could do a lot with this, yes.”

Hal shakes his head, woefully.

“Ladies,” he says, “you’re my base. If I lose you, I lose the support of my nation.”

Grace blinks.

“Your nation?” she asks.

“Don’t,” Haroldine roars, “get him started. Thinks he’s Little Lord Fauntleroy of the Great Swamp Nation.”

“They are so cold,” Hal says to Grace, shaking his head.

“They’re stern,” she replies suddenly, full of a pleasure she can’t explain. “Stern, but just.”

Hal smacks himself in feigned despair.

“Christ,” he says, “have I lost you before I even got you?”

Got her? She looks at him sharply, then, that he would make light of… would joke… Oh, hell, what was her problem? The low pressure was doing something to her sinuses to make her this crabby. “You’ll have to do more than flirt prettily and crack jokes to get me…” she grumbles under her breath, her brow wrinkling uncharacteristically in bad temper.

Hal, though, meets her glance with something unexpected; serious calm.

“I understand. I got it, too jokey. I know who you are, you’re Grace. Everyone’s heard of you.” Solemnly he extends his hand.

“I’m Harold Two Horses, out of the Quiet clan on my mother’s side. Sorry ’bout my first name, they named me for Auntie Frog. Everyone calls me Hal.”

“I’m Grace. That is, to everybody except my mother.” Grace takes his hand and shakes, firmly and a bit formally.

He blinks at her, letting his hand get shaken, and not letting go. When she begins to pull back, he looks at her hand, and pets it sadly, saying, “But I was just getting to know you!”

Grace leans into him, glaring right into those gorgeous chocolate laughing eyes, but a giggle escapes, and she’s almost shocked by the sound. “You’re a weirdo, do you know that?”

He nods vigorously. “Came by it honestly, from my mom,” he says, and slides his eyes over at his Aunt Frog.

“You’re so rude!” Grace whispers, horrified, “your Auntie ought to smack you!” But she sure couldn’t smack him, even if she could bear to. Her hand wants to curl around his fingers.

Haroldine is laughing. “You ran into your match there!”

“My aunties, why do you betray me?” Hal says, shaking his head. Still, he hasn’t relinquished Grace’s hand. She pulls a little, meets his eyes.

“I’m going to need that back,” she says.

“Oh no you’re not,” he says breezily. “I was…Sent. I was…Told to Come…Get You. I was given a message from On High that you Had Enough and needed to be dragged away from doing Useful Things.”

“How high?” Haroldine says, suspiciously.

“Ohhh, yea high,” he says, waving his other hand about a foot over his head. “I was given Command voice from Somebody Who Told Me to come make you sit down and rest. And boy, do we have ways of–”

“You’ll need to let go soon,” Grace reminds him. “Like… now.”

“We just started,” he protests, softly. Lifts her hand to his lips, lightly, then releases it.

“Harold Quiet Two Horses, you are not living up to your name,” Penelope says. “The quiet one, I mean.” She makes a hiss softly between her teeth in thought, then says doubtfully, “Not sure about the horses.”

“Well, I can’t help it,” he says. “Really, though, I was sent to get Grace, and make her stop working. Really.”

Hal puts his hands behind his back, looking as if he’s a little afraid he might use them to reach for her again.

“Really,” he says, in that same soft voice. “You’re supposed to come and sit down and talk to me. Is that okay? Can you stand me?”

duet, woodcut by John Buckland Wright
Duet, woodcut by John Buckland Wright

She tilts her head to one side and considers the question. “That is okay. You are horrid.” A smile curves the corner of her lips. “I think I can stand you if I try.” She takes an impossibly deep breath, her shoulders slumping with the exhale. Better. “What do you want to talk about?”

He blinks at her, and a really child-like wide grin comes over his face, and he opens his mouth, and Haroldine says, “Take it in the living room, right now, or I’ll get the broom to you, if I hear one more word about that damn organization of yours I’m going to–”

Really, it was amazing how fast they reach in the living room, and isn’t it astonishing how smoothly he evicts one of the teen-aged Circus girls from the one decent chair as if he had a crowbar–and then they’re both sitting in it, flopped down side by side in the wide seat, which isn’t quite wide enough for two, but they manage. She tries to sit primly next to him, but it’s nearly impossible, with those meaty legs of his taking up all the space, and her woman’s hips arguing about getting enough of their own space. Grace tries not to stare. What does he do with those thighs?

Lucas interrupts her train of thought by trotting up to her, plopping his tennie shoes in her lap, and giggling as he wiggles his bare toes. “Hi, Mama. We’re taking a potty break. Aren’t Mr. Gerritson’s stories great?”

“Yup, they sure are.” Grace holds up his shoes. “Why are these off your feet?”

“They’re too hot,” he whines.

“Too bad. Put them back on, please.” Broken glass, leftover nails, there are a million things, and she hands the shoes back to him. He slumps, but drops on the floor and starts to pull his socks back on.

Grace laughs. “Sorry, dude, not today. The tennies stay on.” She watches him tie his shoes. “Good job.”

He grins at her, then looks at Hal sideways, from under his bangs.

“Lucas, this is Mr. Two Horses. Hal, this is my son, Lucas.” Lucas offers his hand gravely, then smiles in delight as Hal shakes it like a man.

“Hi, Mr. Two Horses, glad to meetcha!”

Grace scoops up the toddler, who is rarely far from Lucas. “And of course you know Marcie, Pen’s daughter.”

“Hi, honey.” Hal makes a silly face at her, and she breaks into a shy smile.

“Sweetie, have you gone potty yet?” Grace asks. Marcie shakes her head. “Do you have to go?” A nod. “Hal, could you excuse us for a moment?”

Hal wiggles until he’s in the center of the chair. “Sure thing.”

“Lucas, why don’t you go and get Mr. Two Horses a cup of coffee?” Grace asks. “Be careful, though, it’s gonna be hot. Walk, don’t run.”

“Ok, Mom!” Lucas takes off towards the kitchen, takes three steps, then remembers to slow it down.

There’s a line for the downstairs bathroom, and by the time they get back Hal has his coffee and Lucas is looking at something in his hand. It’s been a long time since she’s seen him this impressed.

“Whatcha got, Lucas?” He shows his mom a pretty marble with green and blue swirls in it.

“Thanks, Mr. Two Horses! I gotta show this to Dav,” he crows, and thunders off.

Okay, where were they? Oh, yeah, Hal’s organization. She slides back onto the chair with him. “So, you’re a politician?” Grace asks politely, knowing in her heart of hearts that it’s Not Nice of her, but she can’t resist teasing him. She watches the dismayed shock appear comically on his face.

“I’m–not a politician,” he says. “I mean, I have to be able to function as a politician.” Grace studies his profile, the slightly beaked nose, his cheek–soft–how old, she wonders, can he be? “I have to go toe-to-toe with politicians. I hate it. It sucks. I’m not a politician.”

“You said that before,” she points out. He grimaces, and she sees something new, then, like a promise. A flicker of what he might be, or become someday. Interesting.

“What organization?” she asks, more gently.

“Huh?” He’d been examining their kneecaps, and his head whips up at her question.

“What organization are you involved in?” She looks genuinely interested.

“I’m a king,” he says. “I’m founding a nation.”

Grace sucks in a startled breath.

“Auntie Frog–” she doesn’t even realize she’s reverted to Hal’s name for Haroldine–“she was serious?”

“Oh, god,” Hal mumbles, dropping his face into his hands.

“Who made you king? Did you just decide–”

“No–no! I was born–”

“Well, of course you were born. Did you,” and Grace is teasing for sure, now– “did you just wake up one morning and say, ‘God bless it, I shall be king!'”

“I am failing, so hard, to seduce you, huh,” Hal mumbles into his hands. “You never think about these things. You have this birthright, and your people are suffering, and you start to organize, and WHAM! you’re a king, and neighboring governments send you obnoxious and patronizing emails, and the girl you want to impress just gives you one look, and it all becomes clear, being a king is really…really…dorky…”

Grace has pulled his hands away from his face.

“You want to seduce me?” she asks.

Hal blinks his dark eyes, slowly, twice.

“Why?” she says, astonished. “You’ve never seen me before.”

“It was a sudden impulse,” he says, wiggling a bit, so his hip bumps into hers. Her eyes widen, and flood with heat. Too late, he’s seen it before she can turn away.

“Oh, just something to do while you’re waiting, Your Kingship?” she says, infuriated. Unpleasant memories of the kind of mail that Pen gets here, at the house, prompts her to wickedness of a different sort. “So how do you talk to Immigration and the IRS when you’re rescuing people?”

His mouth hangs open a moment. It’s quite a nice mouth, Grace thinks kindly. Rather wide, and that he’s still pretty with it is quite odd indeed. Probably has a helluva yell in there, if he was playing ball or shouting from a truck or something. She could see him doing that.

“I generally do things on the Internet, it’s much safer than tangling with the brownshirts in person,” he says then, very quietly. “I hope Pen’s been careful. They don’t fool around. I’ve been hearing about people disappearing. Families, not just kids or prostitutes, although there’s a lot of them going missing–” he shifts his weight again, shifting around so his shoulders are facing her more, and gesturing with his hands, and some of his hair has come loose. He pushes it back impatiently, as if he does it all the time. “–I mean, the numbers are appalling, I went back and did some compilations to show the state people that it couldn’t be just due to regular crime statistics, we’ve got an unholy number of prisoners getting released here who were never local, never mind what their records were doctored to say–”

“Yes,” Grace says, meeting the eyes.

“You already knew this?” he says, staring.

“If you listen to people here, when they talk,” she says simply.

“I’m in love,” he says.

“With your own voice?” she says, smiling to take away the sting of her words.

“Oh,” he says, and it’s completely genuine, the consternation on his face. “Ouch.”

“It helps with the kinging stuff, I’ll bet,” she says generously, and feels the tiniest little twitch of a smile starting.

“Oh god, it’s not like I do this every day.” He’s staring at her again, looking apprehensive.

“You have to build up to kinging all the time?” she says, smiling wider.

“I got to hearing about you and decided to meet you for myself and I can’t help it if you’re this smart… I’m not sure if I’m just talking people into submission. That’s what Aunt Frog says. She says I’m just blinding people with words all the time and they don’t know what part I really mean and–”

“All of them,” Grace says, with the kind of certainly that holds like a rock in her gut. “All of them.”

“I don’t think,” and he is very serious now, “I can talk you into submission.”

She tilts her head. “You have to ask for that.”

His eyes get even wider. She didn’t think that was possible. He’s staring down into her eyes, and seeing… God knows what. She isn’t sorry, she isn’t about to apologize, and she will explain if he asks, but she isn’t afraid to let him look, either.

Very gently, cautiously, Hal reaches out with one hand, runs the edge of it down the side of Grace’s face. He doesn’t say anything, at all.

Finally Quiet, Grace thinks, giddily.

He does, actually, know how to just sit, without talking at all. She wasn’t sure about that. It’s such a white person’s habit, really, always filling the air. Some of the people she’s sat with here in Pen’s living room, they may not speak for an hour, just listening to the crickets through the screen door, sniffing the breeze, watching the sun go down. Although right now, she thinks, hearing the house creak and shift like a wooden ship under the increasing force of the wind, she could use some distraction.

She looks into Harold Two Horses’s beautiful face, and thinks in astonishment that the universe has just plopped into her lap one of the biggest surprises she’s ever had. Because she’s sitting in his lap, mostly, his legs riding up over hers, because the chair is really only built for one. He’s just touching her face, brushing at it as if he doesn’t quite think it’s real. As if she’s talking to him, when she isn’t saying anything at all.

It’s amazing, really, because he’s sweet and charming and smells like horses and dogs and some sort of herbal… shampoo, maybe? He’s just quiet enough, under the bluster and the sparkle, to listen. It’s been a really long time since anyone has listened to Grace. Well, anyone adult, anyway. She’s not sure if she has anything to say.

“Do you think we could move over to the corner?” she requests quietly, indicating what is probably the only unpopulated bit of the house. Maybe someone has gone to the bathroom. Well, they can just have the chair.

She urges Hal off her, off the chair, and into the corner. “Here?” he asks, a bit bemused.

“Yup.” She says. “Save my place.”

Upstairs, whoever was in the closet has finished and put most of the towels back on the shelves. But they left the door open, displaying how badly they did it. Grace sighs at the mess, and shuts the door. All of her nice, clean, neatly folded towels. Maybe Hal and I should take a turn in there, she thinks dizzily.

The blanket under her bed hasn’t been pillaged yet, so she yanks it out, taking care not to disturb the exhausted tangle of people that sleep in her bed. There are cuts and bruises on their poor faces; she helped with the tape and bandages on their injuries. She brings the blanket and a stray pillow back down to him.

“Wow,” he says, “You are something.” He spreads the blanket down for the two of them, then sprawls, holding out his arms in an extravagant gesture. She’s as shocked as anyone else in the room when she goes to them and allows herself to be enveloped. “Used to sleeping on the floor?”

“Half my life,” she says, and turns her face into his chest. She can feel his muscles shift under her weight. Her head goes up and down as he breathes in careful, slow movements, as if he’s afraid of dislodging her. Like that’s likely to happen, she thinks, curling up closer.

She’s so distracted with her own body, with his, with the feel of the blanket over the hard floor, that she’s completely lost track of her surroundings.

Dangerous. Foolish. Bad idea in any of the places she’s drifted through lately. Never, ever a wise idea in a hurricane.

The wind has come up with a roar.

She comes back to reality with a jolt, hearing people crying out, and then the rising wind scales up so quickly there’s no chance to warn anyone. There’s a roar of force pounding the walls, a gush of water that sounds like fire hoses pumping cascades onto the entire world, there’s high whining noises from the plywood whipping around in the tight string cages that Penelope built to keep them safe, and she knows people are moaning or gasping in response, but she can’t hear it over the battering of the wind. Her eyes open wide, staring past Harold’s tensed shoulder. There’s trails of water running down the cracked plaster wall beneath the window openings.

His arms are very tight around her, very strong, so strong it’s making her collarbones creak in pain, and it helps. It does. The pain clears her head of panic. She blinks, gives herself a little shake, and stares wild-eyed up into his face instead of staring off at the screaming walls.

Something comes loudly crashing along outside, galloping at them at an appalling speed, and it whangs into the plywood over Dia’s head, and the cage of strings flexes with it, holding, giving a clear shrill high note over all the rest, the amazing sproing! of materials tested to their limits. Then there’s more things flying outside, whipping past and ricocheting, the vibration of the heavier objects bouncing through the floorboards under them.

That was the shed roof, she thinks then, just from the sound of it flapping and catching briefly on the corner of the house over their heads.

He reaches up with one hand and pats her face sharply, almost a smack, jerking her back to attention, to him, not to staring at the walls.

She blinks at him stupidly. He slapped her. Kinda. She struggles, unwilling to allow the gesture to arouse her. It wasn’t meant to, after all.

He’s got his neck arched down tightly, chin on his chest like a stallion defying his harness, and his eyes are furious, the black brows drawn into harsh lines of fury. Rage at the world, at the circumstances, at being silenced by wind, of all things. He can’t tell her anything, over this. Gently, very softly, his arms lift her higher, and he kisses her on the cheek, on each cheek, and then on the the forehead, and he blinks up directly into her eyes.

I love you,
his lips articulate it with careful movements, caught in the little pool of howling silence where they are lying, unable to talk at all.

It makes her smile. Silly boy, she thinks, and kisses him back in the same way, staying awhile with her lips on his forehead, and feeling the brush of his hair against her cheek, and how his ribs are mostly still as if he’s not breathing enough. She feels how he’s laying so still, only flinching now and then at the really loud objects banging off the house.

She leans then into his cheek, and kisses the side of his face, and gets her nose down to his ear, and she speaks into it. “Breath,” she says, “breath, Hal.” And he does, with a shocked little hiccup of his ribs. She reaches up and tugs his wrist a little, tugs him to hold her tighter, until her ribs creak when she inhales, and he does. It helps.

He’s petting her hair with one hand, somehow, too. Nobody has ever petted her hair, not in the last few years anyway, and here today two people have decided to touch her hair. It’s very odd. Come to think of it, her hair is odd, too. Too short and too black. Nobody has seemed to notice, but it bothers her. Dia can feel his ribs under her straining arms. Big wide rib bones. And bony elbows. And hips that stick up nearly as much as hers do. His waist doesn’t even touch the floor because his butt sticks out enough to hold it up. Is it because he’s tense, or because he has a meaty rear? Grace wonders crazily. What a thing to be thinking in the midst of all this uproar.

And then it’s quiet, as fast as it got noisy.

“Dat was a tornado cell, I swear it was,” says Ruby’s voice from the living room door, faintly, as if she’s speaking from far away, and Grace realizes she’s partly deafened from the racket. “We’re goan need more room to park people in de cellar if we get any more of dose.”

Somebody down there in the root cellar is testifying, in a clear, thin, steady old voice, about walking through the Valley of Death, and fearing no evil. They sound like they know what they’re talking about.

The next thing Dia hears is a high little twirl of music, coming from the chimes, like a message. Lucas has made the chimes sing for her, to let her know he’s all right. Thank God.

“Y’all come over here,” Drake the storyteller invites the kids. “Bring your blankets. C’mon, now.” His voice is coming from the windowless alcove just off the living room. Dia knows it’s probably the safest place in the house, structurally speaking. Smart man. “Hurry up, now, and bring your blankets.” She can dimly see Dav helping Marcie and Lucas move their stuff to safety. She wishes that she were holding Lucas, in a storm like this. But there just isn’t enough space in the alcove for worried moms. There’s barely enough room for all the kids.

She blinks, and feels tears starting, and she wipes them away, fiercely. She feels Hal’s hand come up, giving her a rather grubby tissue from some pocket. She nods, and wipes her nose and her eyes.

When she looks at him again, he’s serious for a long moment, studying her in the dim battery-lantern light from across the room. Then he smiles wryly. “Allergies,” he says, nodding at the tissue, his voice not quite as faint to her as Ruby’s was.

She smiles shakily. “You’re allergic to being a frog, Your Majesty?”

“Oh yeah,” he says. He sticks one hand in her skirt pocket, then, as she is lying on her side, and he waves his fingers around, and then he’s holding up a marble in front of her eyes. A marble with a swirl of golden glass in it. “Princess, your golden ball,” he says.

“I’m a princess, now?” She almost chokes, laughing hard enough smack her own head against the wood floor, with a solid thunk that makes people startle around, and look at them.

watercolor, frog and golden ball
The Frog Prince

“Oh, yeah,” he says, rubbing the soreness away.

The observers all smile, and go back to what they were doing. People are moving about now, with the wind slackening. When Grace shifts, about to get up and help other people check on things, fix the house while they have a chance, his arms tighten on her until she can’t move. She can’t get up. He lifts his eyebrows warningly at her, lips pursed, as if to remind her of what his orders were, earlier, and she relents, smiling, and kisses him on the forehead.

“Gracey and Hal, sittin’ in a tree,” somebody is chanting, a light childish voice, full of glee, and then there are peals of laughter, and running feet chasing off.

“K-I-S-S-I-N-G, First comes love, Then comes marriage, Then comes Gracey with a baby carriage!” Dav had run as far as the kitchen door, but just had to finish it. Trust the kid to get the last word in.

She hears Callie’s voice, just as high and clear, saying, “Oh God, Dav, paleeze…” and she can hear footsteps running about, voices laughing, fetching things for the grownups, very shrill and over-excited, running it off. She can hear Lucas crowing at Dav’s sparkling wit, and the sound allows her shoulders to loosen in increments.

She hears Haroldine’s whiskey voice from the kitchen, giving orders, coughing sometimes and complaining about losing her voice. Grace’s whole body finally relaxes. Everything is fine, just like she told Pen. They’re all still alive. This must be the eye of the storm.

“My God, I think I scraped the varnish off the underside of that poor kitchen table, hugging my knees so hard,” Haroldine says, laughing. “Oh yes, luvvie, now go get me that second big sack. Yeah, take the toilet paper around, would you? The bathrooms are really gonna get a workout. Lucas, oh good, I was looking for you– listen up, this is important. You see that drawer? You get out the hammer, and all the boxes of nails, and every last bit of string in that drawer, put them in this wooden box, and take it up to Penelope in the attic. Got it? Good boy. I know that woman saved my life, roping down the windows, and now I’ma never gonna hear the end of it. Has Hal got Grace settled down? Good. Dav– have those animals out in the barn been fed and watered today? Dunno? Well, maybe you better go an’ check ’em. Keep an eye on those clouds, though, all right, an’ be careful, fer god’s sake. You got sense, you’re old enough. Go on, now! Now, where’s my batteries, I want some more batteries in these lamps…”

“Hi Mom!” Lucas yells, sneakers thudding as he races over, drops the box for a moment, grabs her hand and squeezes. Then he looks at Hal, grinning. “Hi Mister Two Horses,” and then he’s picked up the box and he’s off, sneakers squeaking on the floor as if they’ve run through wet spots, and then he’s thudding up the stairs, panting.

Grace sighs. “I should really check out that cellar, like Ruby says, and make sure– ”

He tightens his grip on her, looking cross, and she blinks at him. “Ain’t baby carriages old-fashioned?” Hal says abruptly, blinking sternly at her.

“Very out of style, but around here, it probably has a performing chimp in it, wearing a bow and squeezing a blompy horn,” she says, rolling her eyes, thinking of the Circus people.

He laughs. He has a loud laugh, just like she thought he would, with his mouth wide open, so all his teeth show. People look around at that, too, and it makes them relax. Makes their shoulders ease downward a little.

“I don’t know, kinging is a lot of work. Princessing must be just as bad.” She says it absently, looking at his eyes again. Looking at his eyes smile, slowly and marvelously, at her.

“So, you want this golden ball or not? I can just throw it back in the pond, ya know, I don’t have to–” he’s using a silly voice.

She smiles. “Yeah you do. It’s in the rules.”

“Yeah?” he says, looking up at her, with those eyes full of mischief. He doesn’t look like he’s ever stuck by the rules.

“Yes, the princess must possess the golden ball. It’s the focus of her awesome powers.” She looks serious.

“Okay,” he says, “open your mouth.”

And she does.

And he puts the marble in it, and grins at her outraged expression.

An instant before she begins to move her arm to get rid of it, he brings up his hand, and says, “Spit it out,” and she does, breathing hard, and staring at him like he’s gross to even ask.

He holds it up, squinting at it. “Hmmm, I don’t see no magic powers there. Maybe it needs more time in the spin cycle,” and he lifts his hand as if he’s going to pop it into her mouth again.

“Oh no,” she demurs, blocking her mouth with her hand. “Put that thing in your own mouth.”

“Oh?” He grins, pops it into his mouth, and makes really atrocious faces. The kids would love seeing this. Then he gives a really wicked grin, and pops it out into his hand, and holds it up. Ergh, he really is that gross.

Then she blinks, startled.

“Presto, chango–” The marble is a nice, bright, solid blue. He grins. “You should see me with rings and magnets,” he says.

“Ahh, you’re one of the Circus people yourself,” she says, relaxing again.

“Well, sometimes I am, and sometimes I’m not–”

“Oh God,” she groans. “I should have known.”

“What?”

“Two Horses,” she says. “Are you a Gemini, or do you just annoy the heck out of people like one?”

He blinks at her. “We-ell, oh, my middle name is Freddie Mercury, and my first name is a king’s, and I be pissing off the gods on Saturday nights,” he chants it like a kid, in a different funny voice.

“Okay, okay, let me think–so you’re the God of Thieves and Crossroads, and I think sometimes boar-hunting–” she squints, trying to remember what she learned in that History of Religion class that Sir paid for.

“Oh no, I’m the God of Abundance and grain and business and mediation,” he corrects her, chin lifted proudly. “Gotta be quick to keep up with that stuff.”

She looks at him.

He’s still smiling. He says, “I told you I spend a lot of time on the Internet.”

She smiles, too, remembering the night that Sir took her to the theater in Chicago to see Avenue Q. She sings, “The Internet is for porn.”

His eyes go comically wide, shocked, and then he’s laughing again, rolling a little side to side, hugging her tight, so he’s dragging her with him, and she’s laughing down at him, with her forearms on his chest, and she’s laying on him.

“Madam,” he says, “please remove your elbows from my serratus, they may not be much, but they’re all I got. Your arms go here, and here–” and he puts her hands where he wants them, and she’s still laying on him. It should alarm her, embarrass her, but it doesn’t.

He blinks up at her, with his chin cramped down to see her, and she squirms a bit upward so he doesn’t have to do that so much. Her knees slide down quite comfortably on either side of his hips. Nice tight hips, she notes approvingly, it’s not a bit of strain to straddle him, not in the least. It does odd things to her skirt, and she doesn’t care. Sir would be so disappointed. She tells herself Sir isn’t here, to see her on the floor with Hal Two Horses between her legs.

“Uhh,” he says, staring up at her.

She raises an eyebrow. “And where do your hands go?” Her heart is galloping wild, beating hot in her arms until it thumps painfully at her palms against the wood of the floor. She shivers – it must be nerves, because it’s hot as Hades in this house.

“B’lieve they go here,” Hal says, cupping her skull, and stroking her hair back from her eyes, tucking it behind her ears. “And then here, I think.” His palms push through her hair onto her neck, sliding down her shoulders. “Easy, baby, easy, you’ve got bigass knots going there, carrying this whole house on these shoulders, we’re gonna put that down for awhile. Houses are big. You ain’t.”

House? What house? Oh, yeah, the one that had been shuddering all around them like a ship at sea. She couldn’t bring herself to care at the moment. She was falling right in those eyes. Oh, God, those eyes…

“So my hands go here, right?” she says, and she rests her forearms on the floor next to his shoulders, and cups his head in her two hands, and she brushes the wild stray hair out of his eyes, automatically, with her fingers. And then she’s combing her fingers into the hair steadily, as she might when Lucas was a baby. She looks at his eyes, with her whole body against his, and her fingers have a job to untangle that hair.

He frowns a little, and her fingers pause, apprehensive, but then he blinks at her, and he says gravely, “I think my hands go here, right?” and he rests them on her back, down her waist, just propping up his forearms against her, resting his palms on the small of her back.

She nods, and resumes combing back his hair.

“You know how good that feels?” he says, and she can barely hear him over the racket of the house.

She smiles. She knows.

She knows that he can feel the muscles in the small of her back clench and release as she resists the urge to squirm. A distant part of her brain is blaring klaxon-like in her head. Here she is, straddling a man she met ohhh, maybe two hours ago, in very frightening circumstances, skirt rucked up on her thighs, panting like an adolescent, in plain sight of everyone in the house. She tells that part of her brain to shut the hell up. Thank God the storm shutters have made the house so dark.

She leans in closer, breathing along his neck, memorizing his scent, running her cheek along the long stretch of muscle there. Before she can think about it, her tongue touches the hollow of his throat, to taste the skin there. She wonders vaguely what other parts of him taste like. A sudden recklessness seizes her, and she leans down just a fraction, brushing his lips with hers, licking delicately along his lower lip. He sucks in a breath against her lips, and then she feels him go all still, not breathing at all.

“Now wouldn’t it be silly,” he says very, very quietly into her mouth–she can barely hear him–“if you kissed me and I turn into a frog?”

Grace jerks, pauses. “Yes. Too silly. Don’t you dare.” From the reproachful look, one might think that she actually believes that he can polymorph at will, and would do it in a heartbeat, just to distract her. But she leans back over his face, breathing his breath, and kisses him again, anyway.

When she draws her head back, the pupils of his eyes are a very strange shape indeed. U-shaped. The irises are lightening toward gold. They are quite large, too, almost no white to the eye.

“Oh damn,” he says, and blinks at her. “Sorry.”

She leans very close, gripping his head in both her hands, as if she might be hanging onto a hysterical child, and she tells him, “No.”

He blinks up at her, with his brows lifted high, and he gives a little jerk of his body, sticking up his chin and baring his teeth, which are very white. A soft fuzz brushes against her forearms, and she looks into even more peculiar pupils, and she tells him, “Harold Two Horses, if you turn into a rabbit I’m going to put you in a hutch and feed you lettuce.”

He gasps. His body is shifting around under her, and she’s certain that anybody watching them bump around are thinking the worst, but she’s got more important things to think about. It’s probably the dumbest thing she’s done –Sir was always telling her that her curiosity would get her into trouble one day–but she leans down into him and he seems rather bigger than she remembers him being. And his face is quite a lot bigger. “If you turn into a horse in this room I’m going to make you lie down on your side, like you’re sick, so you don’t thrash around and hurt yourself, and wear a head stall,” she tells him, very angry. “I’m sure Penelope could make one for you in about ten minutes.”

black horse with long braids
Long-haired Horse

He gives a little cry, a puff of breath, as if it hurts him, and he shakes his head, and she tells him, “All right then. I know you’re frightened. I’m scared to death. I need you to be brave, you’re much bigger and stronger and I know we’ll need your help after the storm, I just know there’s people out there who didn’t make it to the house in time. I don’t want anybody else hurt. Please do your best.”

By then she knows the nasty things are likely to show up. It’s just a question of whether the old fairy stories are accurate or not.

He gives a little grunt, arching his back, and twisting his head away from her, and the tusks swing wide of her face just in time, and thump into the plaster wall, leaving marks. His arms strain wide away from her, as if he’s having epileptic seizures, and he strains up against her, gasping, and she hears claws scrape the floor in an arc, scoring the wood enough to screech over the howl of the wind. He lies there like that, back like a bow, for a long scary moment, and then he sighs, and gives a gulping swallow, and his body sags down.

And then he whines down in his throat, and he’s licking her face with a perfectly normal human tongue, but his eyes have no white, and his jaw is too long. He gives that whine, and licks her chin, as clear an apology as a girl could ask for, but there’s too much dark hair everywhere, still, his arms are covered in it.

“Try harder,” she says to the anxious eyes.

His body heaves under her, as if he’s going to struggle away, roll aside, and she hangs on stubbornly.

“We need you here, Hal, not running in the woods somewhere,” she says. There’s days when she’s lost patience with Estelle for the same fault, and schooled herself not to show it. It doesn’t help. “Here. We need you here. I need you.”

There’s a tremendous jolt in his muscles, his arms thrash oddly, and then he’s flat on his back under her, breathing hard, and shaking his head, looking dazed.

Her face is fixed in that odd rictus that people get when something unbelievable has happened. Then she refocuses, and leans close by his face, a bit of the fear draining away. “Would you think I was a freak if I admitted that I found that strangely erotic?”

He blinks at her, arms flung wide, and shifts his knees, and he rests his head back on the floor, breathing hard. “God, baby…that was…amazing. I didn’t… I never… ”

She sits up and blinks at him, incredulous. “Just how long have you been doing this?” She has been jostled further up his body, and doesn’t have to stretch up to look into his face anymore. It was a miracle that she managed to hang on at all.

He breathes hard for a moment. “Forever,” he says. “But I never… I go off into one… one shape… it takes days…I don’t remember how… to come back. Aunt Frog, she knows… knows how to recognize me. I started remembering…to come back to her house. Last year.” He pants. “God, last year.” And he wipes sweat off his brow. “I never… I’ve never done all of them. In a row. Not like that, I mean. I just…” He shakes his head, blinking up at her.

“Are you going to turn into something if I kiss you again?”

He blinks. “No idea.”

“Do you remember what I told you?”

He shakes his head. “Something about hutches and lettuce. And putting me in a harness or something.” Then he blinks, and his eyes focus, and the amazing chocolate eyes start to smile. “Sounds kind of hot.”

His hair has fallen into disarray from all of the shapeshifting, and lays in black streamers across her bare thighs. She strokes it back from his face, gently, and begins again to smooth it. Something extraordinary has happened, and she can feel it still shivering over her skin. “Hal, can you wear a collar through all your different shapes?”

“I don’t know.”

“We may have to have a vet chip you,” she says, frowning a little, stroking back his hair gently. She can feel little shivers chase though his body, too, as if he’s been through a fright. “Can you decide on purpose to change?”

He takes a deep, gulping breath. “I did once, yeah. To reach somebody who was drowning.” The shivers get worse. “Two weeks in the pound.”

“You don’t need to shiver,” Grace whispers, running her fingers down his face, feather-soft. “It’s ok. You’re ok.” She sounds like she’s trying to convince herself just as hard as she’s trying to convince him. It won’t do. She knows that. She has to project certainty. She’s cared for animals and children and old people.

“Put up your knees for me,” she tells him, “make me a chair back.” He does, staring at her. She pulls his own tactic on him: distract him. She rolls her hips round, brings up her knees, and leans back into the prop of his thighs. Of course it puts her full weight into his gut, and by God, that’s distracting. He grunts. She smiles, and shifts back, until her hips are on his, and she wiggles her ass into his thighs to a better position, and sighs. When she looks down, she can see his eyes show the whites quite well now, because the view up her legs is just as rude as a man could wish. She shifts her knees, on a whim, letting him see more.

Of course, the tactic backfires back onto her. With their hips aligned, she can feel a thread of energy flow from him to her, and back again. Kundalini, she thinks distantly. It feels rather like very good sex, and derails her brain completely. She arches her back and makes a soft, animal, hungry noise, overwhelmed by sensation. She says, distantly, “Tell me all of the shapes you ever changed into.”

“What?” he says, stupidly.

“So I’ll know what to expect…” she breathes, her mind half gone to mush.

“What was all that noise?” he says then, jerking a little.

She feels his hips shift slightly, and shift more, under her. “Uh,” he says. “Um, dog. Horse. Goat. Um…” His pelvis is pushing upward. “Um, yeah. Rabbit is weird. And the thing with the tusks, I lost three teeth bashing tusks on things, I couldn’t see for a damn, it’s all blurry and dim and people shout at you and things just keep coming at you and–”

“Maybe,” she says, putting her knees on the floor, “your goblin shape needs glasses. Or maybe all goblins are near-sighted? And bad-tempered, I assume?”

“God, it’s like having a permanent hangover,” he says. “Or PMS, or something. You can tear out brick walls, but you can’t figure out why you needed to.”

“Poor thing,” she says, and there it is, rubbing at her through his clothes, and it feels just as good as she remembers. Years, and she still remembers. “Right,” she says, “anything else?”

“Aunt Frog always yells at me, she swears I crib something fierce as a horse,” he says then, frowning, and somehow, in the lashings of rain that half-drown what he’s saying, it’s all funny. But the time for laughing is past, now.

“Maybe you need something you’re not getting, some mineral,” she says, and her voice is so far away. “That’s often the case in a stable, you know.”

The marbles tucked into his pockets are poking her. On some impulse she doesn’t stop to question, she reaches down into his pockets, extracts the things, and flings them away easily. They clatter against the wall, then roll into the corner, where they’ll keep until morning. Then she settles herself along the length of him, and props up her head, and regards him at length, tracing one finger on his lips, hushing him when he might protest the loss of his toys.

“Uh,” he says, looking up at her, and he is just where she wanted him, and he is still looking human. She leans down over him, propping out her hands again, and quite consciously she rubs her hips down on his, and she leans in, and she says, “Are you going to go funny again?”

He takes a deep gasping breath. “You gonna kiss me?”

“I hope so,” she says, and smiles. “I wonder if everything is ok upstairs.” And she adds silently to herself, and I wonder if anyone is in that closet.

===

Author’s note: More collaboration… Nagasvoice, GreenJudy, Kiyakotari, Stella_Omega and me, Numaari.

Hurricane Princess

The closet is a complete wreck, and so are Hal and Grace. Thankfully nobody’s standing out in the hall when they stumble out of the closet. Grace knows her face is flaming, but when she sneaks a look at Hal, he’s laughing. Again. She shoves the trampled towels back inside with her foot and closes the closet door.

The house gives a violent shudder as the wind picks up again, and a hail of some smaller objects hit the siding. Grace starts at the sound of glass breaking. It was the hall window. The house groans and thrums as the wind whips from other direction. “C’mon, Princess, I’ve gotta go back down there. Duty calls, and all that.” His voice in her ear tries for flippant, falls a bit short. It occurs to Grace that he is making this all up as he goes along, that he’s not entirely sure how to go about doing what needs doing.

“Ummm, we can’t exactly go like this,” Grace says. Their clothes are rumpled and smell of sex and latex. Somehow, her skirt has gotten torn.

“What?” he says loudly. It’s hard to hear, with the wind roaring. The rain has begun in earnest again, slamming in sheets.

“We can’t go like this,” she yells. “What would your people think?”

He just grins.

Grace manages to grab a clean towel from the top shelf of the closet. A detour to the bedroom yields some clean clothes for herself, and a pair of old stretched-out sweatpants she borrowed from Pen when her joints were hurting and she needed heat. She can’t find a shirt for Hal, and she’s quite sure that he doesn’t want to wear a pair of her undies. Just doesn’t seem to be his style.

Hal has already hit the bathroom, and she ducks in after him.

Doesn’t take him long to shed clothes, does it? she thinks. In the dim light of the flashlight, he’s all bronze curves and inky shadows. He’s undone his hair and it falls down his back. God, he’s beautiful.

She stuffs her smelly clothes in the hamper and steps in the shower after him. The water pressure is still good, and the water beats down on them. He’s slippery and wet and huge in the confines of the bathtub. There’s really not enough room for two people, the wet shower curtain sticks to them as they maneuver awkwardly, but his soapy hands slide over her shoulders and onto her breasts, and she decides to stay. No sense wasting water. He turns into the spray and she washes his back, stroking up and down his spine with a washcloth. He leans into it. She scrubs harder, until she’s pushing against his arched back and he’s beginning to rock with the force of it. Yeah, he’d be fun to scritch as a dog. Their hands tangle in his wet hair as they try to wash it together. Then he inches around in the bathtub and it’s her turn.

It takes her all of thirty seconds to shampoo her hair. They both smell like strawberries now. He washes all the tender places that he’s just made, his broad hands careful. The storm is too loud to talk over, and she can’t really see his face. But his gestures are as clear as expressions, as clear as words. So much emotion so close to the surface, for both of them.

She feels a sob well up from her throat, and she pushes it down in horror. She hates to hear herself cry. She hates to cry. She never used to cry. It’s not allowed. She goes through all the breathing exercises she knows. That doesn’t help much, so she loosens up a tiny bit and lets a few tears escape. In the way of all water, the drops become a trickle, the trickle a stream, the stream a flood. She twists away from Hal and gropes on the edge of the tub for the tube of conditioner.

One of those ugly noises she’d been trained to avoid escapes. Grace cringes, but the sound is lost in the wailing of the storm. Nobody outside the tiled walls of the bathroom can hear her, she can barely hear herself. Something inside pops like a blister and she sobs aloud. Her whole body jerks, and she drops the conditioner in the bottom of the tub. She curls herself away from Hal. Oh, God, it hurts.

Gripping the shower curtain in both hands, she sobs.

eye with tear on lower lid
Crying

She startles when Hal’s hands cover her fists. He pries the shower curtain out of her fingers, grips her wrists and flips her around, tucking her arms behind her back and pressing her to his slippery front. She gets soap suds in her mouth as she gasps. They taste bitter on her tongue. He’s wrapped her up so tight in the cocoon of his body that she can barely move, barely breathe. So tight that her arms go numb, even under the hot spray of the shower.

She sobs against his skin, she screams as loud as she is able, she grieves.

She grieves for her lost self, cast adrift without a master, or a place to belong, or an identity. She grieves Sir’s betrayal of Lucas and her, the bitter culmination of the seven wonderful years they’d spent together building a life. She grieves losing the satisfaction of service, of knowing someone so well that she was able to provide what Sir needed a split-second before Sir even knew that he needed it. She grieves for lost time, for missing out on the simple glory of good sex for seven years. She grieves for stupid stuff, like her favorite leather jacket and the well-made, pretty clothes and her photo albums and her good headphones and those season tickets to the Philadelphia Orchestra. Things she’d left behind.

She grieves for her son, losing the only father figure he had ever known. For never having known his father. For every single time someone thinks that, his conception having been an accident, that he is a mistake. For ripping him away from his home and putting him in danger, for the college education that he’d probably never have, now. She grieves because Lucas is someone special, something special, and she has no idea what that is, or if there are others like him out there somewhere.

She grieves for these people here, troubled and put-upon, forgotten, sometimes disappearing without a trace. They had never had a chance at the perfect, privileged life she had led with Sir. She grieves for Pen, sitting with Estelle and unable to fix her, while the home he built with Tree is torn apart in the wind. She grieves for Hal, lost in a labyrinth of changing forms, bewildering and bewildered, hiding behind a charming smile and wondering how to accomplish a nearly impossible task.

She grieves for everything from the state of Tibet to the shingles tearing off the roof. And running under it, the grief that she no longer has the certainty of belonging, of knowing where she fits in the world. That loss has ripped the biggest hole, and it hurts the worst.

He lets her howl like a lost child or a wild animal. Tears and spit and snot run down her face and smear on his skin, until the water catches it and washes it away. He lets her scream, and cry, and grieve until she’s done and there’s nothing left to cry about, until she’s quiet and hollow and empty, until she’s still under his steely grip except for a slow watery gasp, with the deafening roar of the world ending all around them. The water has grown cold.

Hal leans down, very slowly. As soft as the wings of a moth, he kisses each cheek, and then her forehead.

She doesn’t resist when he pulls her out of the tub and wraps the towel around her.

Somebody pounds frantically on the bathroom door, and roars, “Gotta go!” They yank their clothes on and make it just in time; a very short hairy man with the whites showing all around his eyes barrels into the room, his arms waving wildly in shooing motions. They get the hell out of the bathroom before something tragic happens. The glow of lanterns and the smell of coffee draw them back downstairs.

Haroldine and Penelope are sitting at the kitchen table, cleaning up at poker, ignoring the storm. Hal pours a cup of coffee for Grace, and she takes it gratefully. Caffeine. Their ears are ringing in the relative quiet of the downstairs.

Lucas is observing the game, leaning in against Haroldine’s leg. She tickles him and he giggles. When he sees Hal and Grace come downstairs, he runs to his mom and flings his arms around her waist. “It’s so cool, they’re playing a viola, and they let me help tune it, and I meet a bunch of cool people and they let me pet the tail, and I helped!” Lucas’ eyes shine in the lantern-light. “So I ran down here to tell you about it, but you weren’t there so Auntie Frog has been teaching me to play poker and–” He’s out of breath. “Wow.” Grace loves to see him so happy; it enforces the overwhelming sense of peace that’s come over her. Lucas looks into her face, smiles, and goes back to Auntie Frog. “What did you say a royal flush was, again?”

Hal frowns, and tips Grace’s face up to his. “What’s up, baby?” He looks angry, or worried. His black eyebrows are quite expressive, actually.

She looks up at him placidly. “Nothing. Why?” Raspy and hoarse are kind words to use for what her voice sounds like now, after she’s abused her throat so badly. But she doesn’t mind, she’s in that peaceful, floaty place that Sir called sub-space. He used to send her there by giving her pain — not as a punishment, but as a reward. Hal is right, she’s just wired that way

She wonders, idly, from very far away, if her Frog Prince will understand that she needs to be owned, possessed, in much the same way. Wiring. It doesn’t worry her, though, not while she’s wallowing in the middle of all this… peace. After the months of turmoil since she’s run away from home, it’s blissful. But she’s too far away to explain this to Hal. Sometimes she even loses the ability to talk for a while.

Her disconnected answer doesn’t seem to satisfy him. His brows knit in confusion. “What do ya mean, nothing? We’re in maybe a Category 3, Category 4 storm, you just finished completely losin’ it, and now shit is just fine because I gave you a cup of coffee?”

Grace tries to swim to the surface, so that she can explain. Her throat hurts so much that it’s hard to swallow, but the coffee helps a little. Hal standing next to her helps more. She shakes her head, tries to tell him through the burning in her throat. “I get this way afterwards.” She smiles dreamily, and confides, “Endorphins, you know.”

Thinking about her outburst starts bringing her out of that state of mind, though. It’s getting easier to talk. Her flush starts at her chest and creeps up until even the tips of her ears are pink. “Hal. ‘M so sorry.” She looks down at her hands; one of them bumps his tentatively.

“For what?,” he asks.

She looks up again, feeling ashamed, like somehow she’s failed him. “I’m sorry that I cried… all over you. It was… inexcusable.”

“Huh?” he replies, clearly baffled. “Everybody cries, sometimes.”

“Sir never liked it when I cried.” The coffee has milk, it soothes her throat a little, and it’s easier to speak. “He forbade it except when I was alone and no one else could hear it, and I don’t –”

“Who is Sir?” he asks.

“My master,” she replies. “Or at least… he was. Before I ran away.”

Haroldine looks up from her hand of cards and shouts, “Grace, honey, there any more milk in the house? We’ve plumb run out up here.”

Grace nods. “In the cellar. I’ll go and get some.” She sets the coffee cup down and grabs her flashlight. She looks up at Hal. “If you come with me, we can bring more bottled water, too.” The stairs down to the cellar thrum in time with the gusting wind.

“This house is a wonder,” Grace says. It was quieter down here, but still very loud. “Good old-fashioned swamp craftsmanship. It’s probably withstood hurricanes like this before our parents were born.” That was why it made her so sad to see it decay in the damp. Restoration was astronomically expensive, though.

The tiny, dirt-floored room is at least ten degrees cooler than the rest of the house, like a cave. Surprisingly, given the amount of water seeping into the soil right now, there was only a few inches of water on the floor. Careful construction. This room had undoubtedly served well before the house had a refrigerator. It was so insulated that they could talk almost normally, only had to raise their voices a little.

Three neat rows of home-canned foods shine almost like stained glass in the beam of the flashlight. Peaches swimming in syrup, tomatoes in their own juices, pickles packed in neat bundles. Tree did those. Probably not good to eat any more, but Grace doesn’t think Pen can bear to throw them away. The rows of store-bought canned goods on the shelves beneath them aren’t nearly as pretty.

The flashlight chooses that moment to die, and it’s suddenly too dark to take a step. Hal yelps.

Grace laughs at the joke, teases back. “Don’t worry–”

“I don’t like dark cellars.” His voice is tense, carefully articulated, tightly controlled. Not joking.

Oh.

Grace should have known better. She jiggles the flashlight, and, thankfully, it comes back on. She hands it to Hal. She’s careful not to look at his face, to give him a chance to recover himself.

“Where’s the milk?” Hal sounds grim.

“Right over here.” She splashes over to the shelves.

She hurries to find the milk, because Hal is standing silent, preoccupied. Silent Hal is kind of scary.

Grace grabs three cans of condensed milk, and Hal hooks a jug of water with each finger, carrying an obscene amount of water up the stairs with no effort at all.

“Hal, you need to come and listen to this!”

They are interrupted in the kitchen by the woman with pink hair, who drags Hal over to a middle-aged mom who stares at him like he’s her best and only chance. Dia suspects that he gets that look a lot, and the way his knees suddenly lock lets her know that it panics him just a tiny bit.

The distraught woman starts talking to him about her teen-aged kids. She had gone to the grocery store to pick up bottled water and batteries, and her car stalled in three feet of water on the way back. No wonder she sounds a bit hysterical. Grace watches Hal listen to her, throwing his whole self into it, like he throws his whole self into everything.

Hal turns, looking, asks somebody to come talk to him, and then somebody else follows them, joins the group, frowning. Heads are nodding. Somebody pats the mom. In a few moments someone’s offering to take their 4-wheel-drive truck out to the house as soon as the storm lets up a bit. Hal’s knees unlock. His body language is easier to read now that she knows about the dog and the horse and the goat. She doesn’t know much about rabbits, and the goblin is a complete mystery.

Right now he’s writing something down on a steno pad and trying to hold a flashlight under his chin. Circus performer or not, he’s not doing too well with it

People have finally begun to cave in to exhaustion and are dozing on couches, on the floor, under the kitchen table. She steps around them carefully and takes the flashlight away from Hal so he can see to write better. It takes him about ten seconds to cover the whole sheet with an untidy scrawl.

She tugs on his arm, beckons until he leans down close to hear her.

“You know all these people, and I haven’t a clue. Why don’t you concentrate on talking to them and I can take notes?” Grace suggests hoarsely.

She offers the flashlight and he takes it, hold it for her to see. She begins filling the next page with neat rows of information. He’s much better at talking to people than he is at writing.

“See here,” she shows him after a few minutes. “We have a list of families who have missing persons in this column, and a list of people with suitable vehicles in the other. We just need to match them up.”

Grace is rewarded with a look that tells her Hal thinks she’s clever. It makes something melt inside her.

“Hey, Hal! Hal Two Horses!” someone calls, and they begin circulating the room again, recording problems, but also many more offers of help.

“Hey, that guy Sir, you talked about. That guy din’t hurt you none, did he?” Hal asks the next time they have a moment to themselves. She can see the shadow of the kennel lady in his eyes as he asks, and it hurts her.

“Well, yes he did,” she teases Hal gently, and winks. His fingers circle her wrists once more.

“Not like that, and you know it.” The eyebrows are lowering themselves again.

Despite the circumstances, and the topic of their conversation, Grace feels her well-abused girlparts respond to his grip. She has to take a deep breath in order to continue. “No, he really never did, he was strict, and… kind, and generous, and… And he used to play with Lucas, he taught him, and I thought he– loved him, but– then I found out.” Despite her hiccup, the sorrow is no longer as strong as her training.

Hal’s fingers tighten, holding her. His eyes are so focused on her, and she draws a deep breath and says; “Sir was going to sell him.”

Hal’s eyes go black and then pale, the pupils totally constricted. The brows come down, the jaw muscles jump out in ridges. No doubts, no questions, and no need for explanations–not out here. His head gives a stiff upward jerk exactly like a horse balking at a gate. He’s angry. But his grip on her wrists does not change at all. Not at first. Such control, Grace thinks, surprised.

“Oh, baby,” Hal murmurs.

Her voice loses the calm, flat quality that it’s had, and goes sharp. “Sir works for this mysterious group called the Knights of Saint Christopher, and I overheard him talking to one of the other Knights about taking Lucas away to do tests and experiments on him.” She snorts. “Over my dead body.”

Hal’s hands are very strong; she can feel the bones grate in her wrists. He breathes out, fast, hard, and then slowly he relaxes his grip, until his fingertips are stroking her arms.

“So I stole the household funds and threw some clothes in a bag, and bought a bus ticket. We changed buses in Oklahoma City and ended up here. And now I suppose someone is after us, and it’s hard to even figure out who it might be.” She grits her teeth. “Seven years, with Sir, and I never even figured out who they are or what they do. God, I’m such a moron. For all I know, there’s someone from the Knights in this house right now, just waiting to kill me and snatch him. I don’t think so, but I just don’t know.”

Hal just pulls her against him and tucks her head under his chin. Grace has no idea what she did before she had his arms to go around her. So unreal; she’s only known him for a few hours. But then again, they might not live to see tomorrow.

Someone interrupts the embrace with a question, and they’re off and running again. It’s a long while before Grace has a moment to even think. It’s all reaction. Someone without her training would be overwhelmed, and she’s grateful to Sir for that, at least.

They catch a breather tucked into a corner of the living room. “So, ’bout this Sir guy,” Hal asks. “What exactly was he to you?”

Grace responds automatically. “He was my owner –”

“You liked that?” Hal interjects, incredulously. “‘Course, you said he was some big-shot executive with a buttload of money. Bet he bought you a lot of pretty stuff like that garter belt.” He snorts. “Not like being owned by a horse or a dog…”

“Hal.” Grace grabs him by the front of the shirt and drags his face down to stare into his eyes, hard. Why couldn’t he see? She can feel her jaw clench. It hurts her stretched-out jaw socket, but she doesn’t care. “You are not a horse or a dog,” she says firmly. “You’re more than any of the things that you can change into. You’re a you.” He can’t lose faith in himself. Not now. Maybe not ever.

She turns him around, showing him the parade of newly-organizing groups. People are finding who they naturally feel comfortable with, making emergency alliances with erstwhile strangers. Lots of people have their heads together they way she and Hal are doing, talking seriously about whatever it is, in little private bubbles. It’s beautiful, and something she’s never seen before.

“You’re a king.” When she hears herself say it with such finality, she knows that it is absolutely true. He is a king.

“Hey, Two Horses, get in here and get me a new propane tank so we can get some coffee in people! We ain’t got coffee, we gonna ‘splode!” Aunt Frog’s voice is so hoarse it’s more rasp than words.

Hal tugs, and they go. “Man, Auntie, you really know how to burn the gas out of a kitchen, dontcha?” Hal says in the dark, chuckling. “You gonna lose your voice for a week, you keep it up.”

“The extra tanks are in the cabinet behind the side door, on the wall next to the fuse box,” Grace says, leading Hal. She knows where it is, next to the fuse box, which must get shut off and on again about every other day. She explains that too, in case they need to know later, after the storm passes. “It’s not anyone’s fault, the old fuses need replacing.”

“I don’t go round makin’ excuses for people who don’t take care of their house,” says Aunt Frog darkly.

“Don’t be such a fusser, not everybody got yer buddies Penelope and Steve to fix things up.” Hal makes tank-rattling noises. “Where is Steve, anyway? Didn’t she come in with the back forty bunch?”

“Dunno, I think she was checking on things, some of them outbuildings, make sure everybody come in.”

“That’s nuts!”

“Well, I seem to remember you doing that too, what, about three, four hours ago?”

“Yeah, but that was before–”

“Well, I try to make allowance for folks who don’t fix up their houses, I do. Well, less they go out running around, chasing down kinfolks what get themselves all messed up. I don’t know nobody like that. I don’t recall ever having problems like that, why, Aaaahh wouldn’t know what family troubles are, if they came up and bit me in the–”

Hal gives a yelp.

“This boy bin treatin’ you right?” Aunt Frog demands. There’s rasp as the lighter clicks steel on flint.

“Yes he is,” Grace says, and blinks as the blue flame lights up.

“Good.” Hal yelps again. Aunt Fish snaps, “That was just because you such an ornery cuss. You treat your princess right, I ain’t got no problem wit you. You do her wrong, you goan be sorry you ever born.”

“Yes ma’am,” Hal says.

“Go way and give that girl some sugar, ‘fore somebody else starts hopping up and down demanding you run off and play goddamn prince help them do things whut they oughta be doing themselves. She bin going short too long, I don’t like seeing my girls cryin.”

Grace chuckles. Good advice. “Do I get my sugar now?” she asks sweetly.

“I’ll give ya sugar,” he threatens, and smacks her butt with the flat of his hand.

“Tease,” she laughs under her breath.

Hal plops down in Pen’s easy chair with a sigh; he’s finally begun to wind down a little. “Hey, Princess, c’mere.” She knows that he’ll jump up in about ten seconds and start gyrating around again. It would probably be good if they both rested a bit, but how was she supposed to keep him down? Lucas didn’t have this much energy! Her reserves were dwindling, and the long bones in her thighs were throbbing steadily, in time with her heartbeat. The ache that ran along the skin of her elbows was spreading, too. She didn’t have any more painkillers left from her prescription. So she’d just have to suck it up.

She can think of one way to make him rest — she straddles him again, sitting on his knees with hers tucked up against the sides of his hips. It’s a surprisingly comfortable way to sit. And it keeps Hal in place so they could take a breather.

“Can we turn off the flashlight for a minute? Batteries, you know…”

“Mm-hmm,” he says.

She flicks off the flashlight, leaving them in the dimness left from the few other lights in the room, where people are talking too fast and others are writing notes. Hal puts his arms around her, just letting them lay on her shoulders, relaxed. For a moment she just feels his breath on her cheek. Then she begins to feel that odd pull of energy again, flowing through them like a tide, in and out.

Can she follow it, see where it’s going, where it’s coming from? When she tries, she can track it flowing out of his chest and into her arms, trickling down her middle and out through the inside of her knees into Hal’s hips. It’s warm and it — tingles. Strange.

Hal’s breath hitches. She bets he can feel it, too.

“What is that?” she wonders.

“Dunno,” he answers, “but I like it. It’s very — relaxing.” He sighs deeply, and she feels muscles un-knot beneath her fingers. After what’s probably only a few minutes, but feels much longer, Grace feels like she’s rested enough to get up and move again.

“Hal, you know where we got some more batteries?” A new voice says quietly, almost in her ear, and it’s such a peaceful, tired voice that Grace doesn’t even jump.

“Well, Steve, I was wondering where you got to!” Hal says, and he sits up. “You met my princess yet? This is Grace. Grace, this is Steve, she keeps our place from fallin’ apart.”

“I seen ya, Grace, gettin’ people sorted out. I gotta thank you for calming people down so we got that one gal’s broken leg splinted right,” Steve says, and holds out a scratched, grimy hand, and grips Grace’s hand carefully. There’s calluses. There’s a torn plaid shirt, and raggedy jeans, and a face of oddly indeterminate gender with even worse scratches on the chin and her cheek. She sees the look, and she smiles a little crookedly. “Gotta be quick, if you’re handling feral animals in weather like this. Got those pens knocked together ‘fore the worst hit, they oughta be okay. I mean, God willing, if the crick don’t rise n’more and the bull don’t take out the side of the barn.”

Grace blinks. “There’s a bull here?”

“There is now,” Steve says. She looks at Hal, smiles. “You could go down and have a little chat with him, show him how to behave, remind him to turn human sometime, soon’s the wind goes down.”

Hal sighs. “Thanks, Steve, I’ll do that. You remind me to do that, huh, Grace, when I get busy?”

“Yes, I will,” Grace says. “I think Aunt Frog–I mean Haroldine–was hoarding batteries in the kitchen.”

Steve sketches a salute toward a gimma cap she’s not wearing, and nods, and departs kitchenward.

Grace rests on Hal’s chest. It feels good. She watches the scattered groups of people sleeping, or huddling together to talk, or drinking coffee, or wondering if the house will still be standing in the morning.

Hal’s gone quiet, closing his eyes, but Grace can tell by his breathing that he’s not asleep. She takes a long look at his lovely face and wonders about a lot of things. Ok, so he’s a king, or becoming a king, or something like that. He’s not sure of what he’s doing, but he’s trying anyway, even though it’s uncertain and maybe even scary.

He said that he loved her — even if she couldn’t hear it — and she has the crazy conviction that he means it, that he really loves her. That they could be together as long as they lived, if she wanted to.

But did she want to? Grace knew how she presented to these people. Probably a lot of them were going to wonder if she was worthy of him. Grace wondered if he was worthy of her. Would he appreciate her skills? What about Lucas? She’s sure that Hal and Lucas would adore each other. They were a lot alike, when it came right down to it. Could Hal handle the responsibility of providing for a child? Would there be enough stability in Lucas’s life? Could he even get into college with the sort of haphazard education that Pen’s children were getting? She’d alienated her entire family by choosing the life of a servant, an owned person. Could she give up that life if Hal didn’t want to live like that? Could she keep up with the needs of all these people? Could Hal? If she really loved Hal as much as she suspected she might, could she live with never having a child with him?

It was making her head spin. So she laid it on Hal’s shoulder, breathing in the strawberry scent of his hair, and let her mind go blank.

“I have a question,” Hal announces.

“Okay.” She murmurs.

“So you said that your master was a businessman, and that you were a sort of personal assistant-type person for him, right?” he asks.

“Yes,” she replies, nodding against his chest.

“So what would you want to be for me?” His voice sounds thoughtful.

She stops for a second to consider, then says, “A straight man.”

He chokes on his laughter. “Ahh, now, that’s a good answer, baby. But a straight man who’s a girl, she’s customarily called a foil.”

“Okay, a foil, then.”

He’s quiet for a moment, then asks, “What would I be for you?” His fingers encircle her wrist.

“The center of my world, ” she says simply, and puts her head back down. His arms slide down around her and squeeze her. She sighs and closes her eyes.

===

Collaboration between Stella Omega, Nagasvoice, and myself. Thanks also to Nagasvoice for the title. 🙂

Ambushes and Apologies

Drake Gerritson gives Grace a sly look when she asks him to keep an eye on the three kids, but she sure can’t just leave them. God only knows what they’d get up to. Drake winks at her after he agrees to watch them; he’s no fool. She’s sure that he’s going to tease her mercilessly the next time he and Ruby come over to dinner.

There isn’t anyone in the hall closet, thank God. The towels are a wreck, much worse than before, and Dia is just as happy not to lie down in the mess. There are pale packets of condoms spilled on the floor. She pushes Hal firmly into the dark, and pulls the door shut behind her. He gives a little grunt, skidding on things, and there’s a thud of his back hitting the wall and the shelves, and he’s laughing again. “Are you going–”

“Yes, I am,” she says in her mildest voice, and feels his hands on her legs, sliding upward. She steps wide, making it easier for him, and his hands slide around baffled under her skirt for some time, while she smiles.

“You’re wearing a garter belt in a hurricane,” he says, in a voice full of awe. “And lace …somethings.. on top.”

“The panties come off better that way, on top,” she says.

“Why?” he says.

“It’s what I have that’s worth keeping. I did have stockings, you see, but they’re toast.” She reminds herself not to sound so sheepish. She doesn’t need to explain or apologize. Or even tell him that she put those things on this morning to… make herself feel more secure. She would have worn her collar, too, if it wouldn’t have brought up more questions than she’s willing to answer right now.

“That’s not all there is to it,” Hal says gently, and suddenly the closet’s darkness doesn’t feel so secure as it did. “Is it?”

Grace’s breathing sounds loud in the dark.

woman's fingers pull lace at hip
Oops: Photo by Photographer Mikhail Grafik

His hands brush the lace gently. “You’d be amazed at the stories people tell, to get through the day. And a storm like this? What’s a story, between friends? It’s all right. It’ll get better.”

There’s a moment of silence, while his hands tug the lace, and it slides down quite nicely. It feels good, coming off, and she sighs.

“Can I kiss you now?” she says, reaching out and taking the band of lace from his hand, and putting it up on a shelf where she’ll remember to retrieve it.

“Yeah,” he says. “I think I’m okay, you kissing me. I think I’m okay anything you want. I’m okay if–”

“Are you going to stay this shape?” she says, hearing more roofing rip loose far above them.

“Yes,” he says. There’s more strength in his voice. “I know… I know how. Now.”

“You’re sure,” she says.

“Yeah.”

“Good, that’s what I like to hear!” she says, and hears herself laugh, and then they’re both laughing, and then she’s fallen into his arms and they’re kissing, still giggling. His hands slide around on her hips and he moans, and then she’s pressing him back into the wall, feeling the jeans already undone, and her hands stumbling over his to get them yanked down his legs.

Then she says, on some whim, “I like pain and… humiliation, too,” as clearly as if she’s been told to do so by Sir.

He says, “Ahh, really? Now don’t be so common. That’s what they all say. They don’t mean it, you know. A Princess has to say what she wants.”

And somehow it’s funny, and sweet, and she laughs, and kisses him. The kissing is better than anything she ever remembers. Anything.

Then her knee is up high, with her foot propped on a shelf, in a way that she dimly recalls thinking sometimes when she wakes up in the morning. One of those thoughts, amusingly irrelevant to her previous self. That thought, recognizing, oh yes, there’s room, I could prop my foot there, and then he’d be at just the right height– and he is. But he’s got his hand in the way, touching her first, the fingers curling up so astonishingly well. His forefinger knows what it’s looking for.

She gives a harsh cry, amazed, and he smiles, kissing her, and pulls back. “You’re all wet, sweetheart,” he whispers, stroking her fingers down into the dampness. Then his other hand comes round on her hip, slides down her rear, under her, between her buttocks, and she braces wide to give him room. Then his hand fans out on the garter lace, pressing it hard into her flank. “Your ass is all wet from your cunt,” he whispers, and she hears the smile. “God, I can smell you.”

“Harder,” she whispers, pushing back into that grip. “Yes. More. Please.” He gives her the pressure she needs, fingertips at the same strength as his palm, pressing the lace into her skin, pushing her back.

His fingers slide deeper in front, exploring, and then brushing back outward, sliding upward, then pressing into the nub of her clitoris.

She gasps. “That,” she gasps, rocking into him, shameless, showing his fingers the need. Then his hand spreads wide, grips her whole pussy, and his other holds her ass still. Strong as a horse…

He’s breathing hard. “Still, hold still, baby,” he says.

“What?” she pants into his shoulder.

“You have to ask. The Quiet People, you have to ask. You have to say what you want.”

She’s imploding, shivering hard, trying not to make a racket out of sheer conditioning. But the house is rattling and peeling apart in the wind, so nobody would hear anyway. “Pleasepleaseplease…” she gasps, then rocks her head back up to stare into his face imploringly. “Please. Take me.”

“Up the cunt? Up the ass? Up your fantastic mouth?” he gasps, and his chest is heaving hard with each word. He strokes, featherlight, against her cunt, just a touch sliding into her, and then another touch on her mouth, and a deeper one sliding up the hot part of her butt, up onto the lace of her belt.

She’s beyond caring. “Anywhere you want, anyhow you want, all three at once, if I could find a way to do it.” Her voice is harsh, almost impatient.

“Yeah?” he says, not moving.

“Yes, please,” she says.

“Then pick up a condom and let’s get it on me,” he says, and he sounds like he’s breathing harder.

“Why–why–” she hears herself say, and she pulls herself together. “Why do you sound like–”

“Like a slut?” he says calmly. “Nah, I’m the anti-slut,” he says, and suddenly he’s laughing. “I’m so careful, you’d never believe. You know why? You want me to turn into a horse right here, or in your uterus?”

“What?” she says, jolted.

“It ain’t pretty, it ain’t nice, what all the popular girls do, getting themselves knocked up on impulse by boys with no beards,” he says harshly, and she can hear the anger suddenly. “But it really ain’t me. Sorry, babe. If that’s what you like, you can kiss me good-bye and walk out and get laid by some idiot prick to give you your next Lucas. But not me. I ain’t never done bareback without rubbers, knowing what I turn into. And I’ve known you, what? Two, three hours? I like you a lot better than that.”

She goes cold, suddenly, in the sweltering heat, and stares into the dark like he spit in her face. “Lucas was the best thing that’s ever happened to me, a gift.” Her voice shakes, loaded with outrage and hurt. “Besides,” she adds, quieter, “we used condoms. One broke. I’m not a complete moron.” She can feel herself open her mouth in a groan that she doesn’t let out. For maybe never having had Lucas, in a different world than this.

“Ah, see?” he sighs, his voice gentling. He gropes for her hand and squeezes it. “There’s that, too. There’s no telling with my spunk what kind of litters we might drop. I don’t want to hurt you, not never, nohow. Accidents happen, you know that better than most.” His voice in the dark turns thoughtful, at odds with the feel of his erection brushing up against her thigh. “I’ve never had my fertility tested, but…”

“Ah!” she cries then. “You’re silly and geeky, too!” Mock-horrified, trying to lighten up. She could feel the apology in the grip of his hand as clearly as if he had said it. She squeezes back.

“And a weirdo, don’t forget,” he says, wiggling his fingers in hers.

“I don’t know if I can do this in the dark. I’ve never tried.” Her voice fades in and out strangely.

“Get some rubbers. I’ll make sure it’s on right when I use it.”

She bends down with his hand on her rump feeling her go, and she scrabbles after the packets, and picks up three, and feels his other hand close around hers, and take all but one. He has her give him a whole wad, which he stuffs in his shirt pockets. His shirt flaps open, she feels it brush her face when she leans close. “For later,” he says. “We’ll use the goo in those. I have plans,” in one of his silly voices.

She stands up, and gasps when his other hand slides onto her belly. It’s bewildering, hearing his voice shift silly like that in the dark.

“You feel where the rim of the rubber unrolls on one side?” he says in the dark, with his fingers over hers.

“Yes, I can,” she says, as steady as she can manage. There’s a moment of struggle. It’s gooey. It slips, and she drops it, and she gasps. “Damn.”

“Princess,” he says, and his voice is amused, “there’s plenty. We got time.”

“Stop,” he says then, with his hand on hers. “Just feel it, Princess. Touch my cock. Just get to know where I am, what it feels like. I can wait.”

She strokes him, with her fingers gooey with latex-scented lubricant. She strokes back his foreskin, strokes the rumpled skin wonderingly. It’s soft. She’s never been with a man who has one. He gives a tight hiss through his teeth, and it moves in her hand. Hot fluid drools out of the warm, slippery head of it. She concentrates, gets the condom onto the tip of his penis, and starts pushing the slippery ring. It doesn’t go anywhere.

He laughs. “Inside out! Coyote jokester takes the point, score!”

She sighs, and somehow she starts laughing too. “Hal,” she says.

“Yes, Princess Grace?”

“I really want to–”

“Yes?”

“I want to fuck like rabbits,” she says lightly, “if I could just get my act together.” She doesn’t quite manage to keep from sounding plaintive and frustrated.

“Flattering,” he says. “Now, me, I could actually do that. You, not so much. Try the next one the other way.”

“I used to know how to do this,” she sputters with laughter, and sighs. This time it works.

“Yes,” he says, “I’ve heard that people fumble their way to ecstasy like this every day of the week.”

“And twice on Sundays?” she says, dryly.

“Oh God, I hope so,” he says.

“Is it on right?”

“Oh, it’s great. But you did it with your fingers all covered in my personal goo. You rubbed me up and got it all over the outside. Not so safe, Princess. I’ll get this one on, and you can do it next time.”

“Next time,” she repeats.

“That’s not a question, I hope. That’d be sad, and I haven’t even given you reason to avoid me. Or I don’t think I did.”

“Hal, please.”

He groans, and then he’s pulling her forward, and guiding himself in. “Get what you ask for.”

He’s hot and he’s big and she’s tight, but she’s sloppy, and he takes his time, muttering in her ear about what he’ll do to her mouth and her ass. Much of it, he holds still, braced against the wall, and he tells her, “You take me in the way you want, at your speed,” and she groans. Her hip joint will ache in the morning. If there is a morning– but then he gives a little jolt with his hips, jerking her back into her body, into how her vagina is relaxing slowly, ever so slowly, around the penis inside her, and she gasps. She feels his hand on her thigh, then.

“I’m in. Put your leg down, I can hear you hurting. Just stand firm, baby, while I move.” And he does, both of his hands wrapped tight around that belt, until it begins to rip, pressing her forward into him, his fingers gripping down in her butt hard enough to leave bruises.

It doesn’t take very many adjustments, hardly any time at all, and they are rocking madly, in tune with the motion of each other’s bodies and frantic with the friction that it makes. She can still feel that crazy thread of energy linking their hips, oscillating wildly now. She wonders if he feels it too, or if she’s going spectacularly mad. She can feel him shudder deep and begin to lose himself, and she groans, “Hal… Hal. You have to say it. You have to tell me. Or I won’t. Please. You have to tell me to. Tell me to come. And I will.”

“Ahh, he says,” but I ain’t done you all of the ways you asked, have I?” And he comes, and he comes, and he comes, while she shudders under the spasms. When he pulls out of her, with a softening penis and a deep sigh of happiness, she’s still vibrating madly in her own skin, with her own hot syrupy fluids cooling on her thighs. He lifts both arms around her shoulders, lazily, and looks at her.

“I think you need more,” he says, and his hands cup her breasts, slide into the bra, unhook it, so it hangs crooked and sloppy. “I ain’t done nearly enough to please you. I’m a bad lover, getting all that excited. Nailin’ my princess in a linen closet with your foot on a shelf, that ain’t right.”

“Please,” she begs. All of the fear, all of the day’s terrors, all of it recedes before the vast wave of her need, her body roaring its imperatives, shuddering her in his grip.

“Well, this is nice,” he says, into the darkness, and his hands strokes over her skin, touching her nipples, squeezing her breasts, and none so gently, either. “I did hear a few things, but nothing like this. You ain’t gonna have fun with most of these boys, you’re way too freaky for them. But I know, Princess, I do.”

“How…how..” she gasps, and feels tears leaking down her face.

“You got no idea what a clever woman can do with a boy who turns into a dog,” he says, with the sound of another condom packet ripping open, “and never once give him the right to come out of his kennel, or eat from a table, or fuck in a bed.”

She gasps.

“It’s a story I tell when I’m sad,” he says, flatly. “Right now, my arms full of the hurricane-riding Princess in garters? Nuh-uh.”

“Hal,” she says.

“That wasn’t always my name, but I’ll take it,” he says, and wraps his arms round her, tight. “Hal is a story I tell when I’m nice.”

“Hal,” she pants.

“So now you know half of my secrets, darlin’, and I ain’t kept even half my word to you.”

“Hal,” she says, and it’s painful, the ache in her groin.

His hand slides down her belly, and she shudders. She lurches in his grip. His fingers are covered in an unrolled condom. He slides his latex-covered fingers into the amazing amount of liquid drooled out on her leg, inside her, and he touches her clitoris gently. Then he slides them inside her vagina, wetting them, and says, “Turn,” and she does, and the wet latex-covered fingers brush at her ass, slide swiftly down from the lace into the hot depths, and the fingers rest tormentingly at the part of her anus, just resting there. Her breath hisses in and out of her teeth, she breaths so hard.

“You want it?” he says, and in front, his bare fingertip touches her clitoris. “Want me to bend you over and spank you too? I could do that. I could spank you red, and keep your ass and your cunt as hot as a pistol.”

She draws in a deep breath. “Please, yes,” she says, and the big palm comes down on her flank with a bang like the end of the world.

One rubber-covered finger is inside her ass when she gasps, and then the next strike and the next, until she’s bent over the man’s hot bare knee, sniffling, with her ass stretched by condom lubricant and her own juices, holding three fingers, and the threat of a fourth, and she’s whimpering out loud for mercy.

“You feel good,” Hal says, and rubs her her butt and the hot wide-spread part of her ass, he rubs her pubic hair in front, rubs all around everywhere but the nub of her frozen climax. “Ahhh, I could fuck you all week, just lay in bed and turn you from one side to the other, and have you rub me up one side and down the other with those breasts. And hello, the mouth. Ahh, yes. Let us give praise to that mouth. Rubbing yourself on me, tasting me, making promises with a mouth like that. That mouth wants cock, don’t it?”

She nods, with her eyes leaking tears, draws in a deep breath. “Is it safe? Safe sex, to go down on you?”

“Do you trust me that much?” he says. “Shouldn’t you find out on your own, before you get talked into putting your mouth on me?”

“I didn’t expect– tonight– I wasn’t– it’s been so long–”

“Yeah,” he says, and his hand strokes the lace of her garter. “There’s some older studies show a small risk of AIDS on normal guys, and more if you’re thinking diseases like herpes, but the epidemiology people have been scrambling so badly for funds–” and he puts on a silly voice. “Isn’t medicine fun? It might have made me, too, you know.”

She wipes her eyes. “Something, someone, made you like this?” she says.

“That’s the story when I’m doing history, and boy, is that dry as an old bone.”

“You are silly,” she says again, softly. It’s an strange sensation, not knowing whether she wants to screw him senseless or fold him in her arms. Actually, she wants to do both.

“You still want it?” The question makes her chest hurt.

“Yes, I do,” she says, firmly. “If I’m going to fuck you in a closet, Harold Two Horses, I want it all.”

“You like fucking in closets?”

She finds herself laughing. “I don’t know, I’ve never done it before.”

“You want it all, wow.” He moves, and his voice is harder now. “I think–if I’m clever–I can do both. You won’t move, I tell you not to. Understand?”

“Yes,” she says.

“Right,” he says, and gets them both on their knees, with her face in his crotch and his arms stretched out below that, reaching between her thighs, the fingers still moving on her ass and her cunt. “Now take my cock in your mouth, and tongue it, but don’t move,” he says. “Not even to shift your knees on dirty towels, or for my finger-rubber up your ass, or for my thumb working your cunt,” he says.

She whimpers.

Then he starts moving his fingers on her clitoris, and he says, “Now that’s service, having a woman offering herself, anything you want, her tits, or her nice warm wet grabby cunt, or her clean tight little ass, or her mouth. I want to feel that wet mouth wrapped around my cock.”

She swirls her tongue all around his cock, which is still a bit soft, relaxed, almost fragile. She closes her teeth on it, ever so carefully, showing him how much he can trust her, and he doesn’t jerk, he doesn’t flinch, he just goes very still, and he sighs. A long, long sigh.

“That’s so good,” he says. “You gonna bite my cock if I give you release? You gonna make me sorry I let you come?”

She doesn’t move. She doesn’t bob her head to answer. She’s been very well-trained.

He pulls his cock out of her mouth. “You want me to say it? Nah, you want me to say it when I’m coming in your mouth.” He puts it back in her mouth. “If I had lube, I’d come in your ass too. Been hogging this closet a long time, waiting for me to get hard again, I bet somebody might open the door and see you on your knees, sucking me off.”

She feels the jolt of dread, pushing her closer to climax.

He slides it back into her mouth. He’s begun to harden up as he talks, to stiffen and arch upward and his fingers get harsher, moving, the latex beginning to go almost painfully dry in her ass. “If they’re nice, I might let them look at you. You like being looked at, in your lacy underwear? You think you’d like that, somebody watching you serve me? See you on your knees with my fingers way up inside you?”

He pulls out, and she gasps. “I don’t know. Maybe.”

He says, “Reach my pocket. Get out some more condoms, put some more of that lube on my fingers, for your ass. It’s probably dry by now. It don’t last long. So did you wear pretty underwear on show?”

“We did,” she says, struggling to reach around with the packets. “But sex wasn’t part of our contract. He only looked, never touched me, not once in seven years.”

“Ahh. Now that’s sad.”

“So that’s a story for a day when I’m feeling lonely,” she tells the dark, the hot humid air that smells of his sex, and of hers.

“Oh yeah. Not tonight. So you can think about telling me that one, but not tonight. You’re all mine tonight, I don’t wanna share, you gonna have to forego getting put on display, sorry. And some folks, we wouldn’t like knowing, would we? We don’t tell Aunt Frog about what we do in closets all by ourselves, with our pants down and our stash of lube, just imagining we got our own princess all to ourselves and she’s lost her panties oh no. Aunt Frog has some ideas what nasty habits the kennel lady had, but we don’t talk about it. What’s the point?”

He starts pausing sometimes, with the base of his penis mashing the tip of her nose, and his testicles tight at her chin. It’s hard to hear him talk, it must be hard for him to give her words, whispering his truths, but he does.

He says, quiet and harsh and half-lost in the wind, “Nobody who knows what else the dog-boy turns into has ever, ever wanted to get my prick in them. Oh no. Just you. You’re special. You might–if we are both very careful–one day get to fuck me in some of my other shapes. You could even fuck the horse all right, once you got used to him.”

She moans, and he grabs her flank, pressing against the bruises he’s made. “You like that idea? Being fucked by a horse? I can fuck you any shape I take. Don’t laugh, rabbits can do some surprising things when they’re as big as me. You’d like me as a dog, I’d lick you all over and try to hump your leg, I get so crazy. The tusk-boy, though, he’s gonna be rough. He likes cunt, though. Boy he likes cunt. Ugly as sin, so that boy gets no help. You’d think he’d grab girls who ain’t careful at night, but funny thing is, no. He won’t take nothin’ but free, he’s too proud to take what ain’t offered. He only likes it when a woman is really turned on, he knows that smell. He ain’t never been fucked, and he’s proud of it. You think you can bring tusk-boy down to his knees, crying and pleading for cuntjuice? The horse would be the hardest, though. I mean, I’m small for a horse, but still. Up the ass would be easiest. Would you like that, bending over a bale of straw with an uncut stallion covering you? Kennel lady, she was afraid of horse cock, and she had reason to be. Not you. Ain’t no condom big enough for that. You want to play safe, I’d need to wear a whole roll of plastic wrap, and for you? I’d do that.”

He pulls out of her mouth, and his fingers stop moving. “Would you?” he asks, soft enough that it’s hard to hear him over the wind dragging at the walls of the house, groaning.

Grace says, “Would you wear it, when you’re a horse? Would you let me do that to you?”

“Oh yeah, Grace,” and his fingers move again. “For you? Yes.” He gives a snort of a laugh. “I let total strangers pick up my feet and clean out my frogs, hell, I can let you touch me anywhere you like it.”

She frowns, and an image of Lucas howling in diapered fury comes to mind. She has the feeling it may not be that simple. Her jaw hinges ache, so soon, from opening that wide. “We’ll have to see then,” she says, hoarse with the semen she’s swallowed already. She reaches forward then–because she hasn’t allowed herself to put her hands on him, yet–and slides up his thighs with her palms. She reaches forward, and strokes his waist, and his flanks, and the strong upper slopes of his butt.

“If you like it too, then we–” and by God, she’s talking about days in the future, she is, “–then we’ll see what it feels like. You’ll have to be so terribly careful.”

“Yes,” he says. “But a horse is. All the time.”

“You remember, from one shape to the next?”

“A lot of it, not all,” he says. “I don’t remember pain very well. What caused it, I mean.”

“Come here, sweetheart,” she says, and urges him to her, and takes his cock in her mouth as he moves. She whimpers around his cock, holding her head still, running the tip of her tongue in circles just under the head. It’s not just service. It’s not just abasing herself to the needs of another.

She wants the feel of him leaning into that touch, meeting that need drumming his body, the taste of him straining toward her, reaching as clearly as his hands stroking her. It feeds her own tension, winds her up until she’s knotted tighter than Penelope’s macrame. Her hands begin to ache again, the pain burning down the inside of her elbows, and she presses the heat of her body, the rushes of tingling energy, into his flesh with her palms, hoping he feels it, too.

Then he starts to rock his hips a little, sliding his penis very slightly in and out of her lips. Saliva drips out of her lips, down her chin, uncontrollably, with the size of him pushed into her mouth. He starts thrusting in slow, thoughtful drags.

“You think I’m being too rough with you, telling you things like that? You gotta be careful, baby, you gotta be quick and be strong, you gonna fuck me. It’s sad. I’m just telling the truth here, you earned that.” And he pulls out of her mouth.

“No, not too rough. Just honest.” She rubs her cheek against the tender skin on the crease of his hip, presses a kiss there, blinking tears in the dark. “So am I,” she says then.

He touches her hair, cups her head. “I know. Oh, I know. You want me to give it to you?”

“Please,” she pleads, feeling more tears come dribbling uselessly down her face. “I don’t know why, I just– I need– I always did–”

“Oh man, you’re wired like Pen’s house, whacked out all to shit. Okay, then maybe I know what you need,” and he draws her face down, and he pushes himself forcefully into the back of her throat. “Take it.”

The clearly spoken command makes her tense, shivering, then relax into it, and she controls herself. She’s never taken any man’s penis this deep in her throat, and she can either choke on it or submit to it. Fighting it means gagging, and she knows that won’t work. Relax, wait for breath, let his cock slide away again. It takes concentration. She can’t listen to the wind and things banging and the hum of metal things flapping in the wind, she can’t be afraid of anything else, not with his cock hitting her soft palate.

He breathes in short, tight pants. “I need to work on getting back around through these shapes. I probably need to work with you sitting on me like that, just like you did. I know your hands are strong, but it’s more than that. You gotta be strong in your mind, Grace, if I can’t make it back right away from dog shape, wrestling me down from the front door when I’m barking mad at the neighbor. I’m bigger than you, it takes a choke chain. But I loves my people, I do, I run all day happy, being a dog. I’m so happy, lay in your lap and just kick my foot all day long.”

He gives a little hiss of pleasure as she tongues the vein on the underside, giving it particular attention. “God, where did you learn to suck prick like that,” he says. “I bet you know how to wear a strap-on dildo and bend over your boyfriend and fuck him through the mattress too. Wear that double-headed thing in your cunt and fuck him up the ass like my fingers are fucking you, and make him yell. The lady who kept the dog-boy, she liked fucking me up the ass. Found out how much I liked it. I liked a girl fucking me like that. You think you could make me happy fucking me like a boy? Fuck the horse up the ass, with you right there where I might kick? Don’t know if regular horse stallions got that thing doing, but I do.”

She grunts, but she doesn’t move. He’s doing the moving, sliding in and out, not worrying whether she can breath easily.

“You don’t just like a little time getting prick in your mouth,” he says then. “You like it a lot. And the spanking. Boy, have I got some fun things to try.” Then he draw his fingers out of her ass, and he uses that palm to spank her instead, pulling the angle of it so it pushes her forward into him as he shoves himself into her mouth.

Four taps, testing it, and then he’s smacking her steadily, breathing hard, and then he’s saying the word. He says it.

“Come… come now,” he says, in a barrage of smacks, and his thumb between her legs does her clitoris, and she’s floating away from the world in a climax so huge that she has no idea what her mouth does to his cock, although liquid is pouring out of him into her mouth.

She comes harder than anything she’s ever experienced in her life. Ever.

===

Author’s notes: Another very, ahhhh, interesting collaboration effort. NSFW, FRM for smut and kink.

Ask Me No Questions, I’ll Tell You No Lies

Dance’s shoulder sockets are loudly tired of this position, lying on his side. Either side. Other positions make other bones complain louder. He decided to sacrifice the shoulders for awhile. This can be a serious decision for a concert violinist. Even a former one.

He is watching reflected light from the hotel pool slide through a gap in the curtains. The window is open to the afternoon wind, as he asked. The curtains riffle in the breeze, and his nostrils expand. He is smelling the dry trees outside the room, the chlorine from the overdosed hotel pool, and the smell of the whole area. As Emma put it, amused, the whole town smells like a mossy algae top note with a bass note of soaked wood tannins.

Part of his pain comes from lack of his usual exercise, lying here frozen to the bed by his own changes. He’s pinned them all down, parked in a hotel room and not going anywhere for awhile.

He’s been working on his new pawnshop violin, instead, with the help of his two partners. Poor battered relic of a good amateur player’s line, it must once have cost some decent money. With new strings and some careful adjustments over the last two days, it sounds much better than it did a day ago. He is fairly sure that the scarred violin has never been cleaned or cared for or treated with much respect. He can feel it trying pathetically hard to do what he asks of it, and failing, because it still needs repairs.

He knows how that feels. Sitting up to practice means learning a whole new posture, with the tail.

He stares at the light movement bouncing around on the wall in childlike gleeful rainbow bubbles. He’s too tired to keep his eyes on the TV, whether it’s local news, or the videogame that Drin set up for him. He’s dropped the game controller on the nightstand beside the bed, among the empty water glasses and the used tissues and the empty food wrappers.

drops on peacock feather
Reflections

The reflected light wriggles and changes color and flickers around on the wall. He can’t help but watch it. Any movement makes his eyes snap to it, focus, target on it as if he’s playing a game of darts. But he isn’t steady on his feet for that. Sometimes he gets dizzy just laying on the bed. When he turns flat on his back, it makes the pulse pound like a drum all down his belly and through his hips. It make his legs start tingling. He can do it for awhile with a thick stack of pillows under the small of his back, propping his shoulders high.

Propping up his upper body helps his aching head too. Well, he has something going on inside his face, he’s got drainage and sinus pain and headaches and he’s not thinking very clearly. He needs to drain it just so he can breath, at times. But not always–which makes him wonder what really is going on just under the bones of his face.

A distant, cool part in the back of Dance’s brain observes that things are drifting loose, poised, parts disarticulated, waiting for choices to be made. Old things had fallen totally apart from the way they ought to be in his old, orderly world. His wasn’t a real conventional world to begin with, but it had structure. A lot of structure, as it turns out.

Most of that has disappeared. They’ve run away from home. He still has the two people he loves, but nothing is guaranteed. His lovers aren’t who they thought they were, either. The loss comes back to their eyes every time they look at him.

They’re running away from a faceless enemy who puts unguessable toxins into perfume bottles for beautiful women. Contaminants that may not affect ordinary people at all–just ones like Dance.

Things like Dance.

Monsters.

His tail aches savagely.

Emma and Drin could start over. They could pretend to be new people if they chose, pretend none of it happened. They could pass as regular people again, some day.

But he’s the monster in their bed now. He can’t pass as remotely human. The new part of him has been growing steadily. Growing out since the afternoon someone drove a car right into his back, and then they threw a bottle of perfume out of the car. The night they ran away.

paper sculpture man on dragon
Man Riding Dragon

The tail has grown so sensitive he can’t lay a bedsheet over it. Nerves twinge in the muscles whenever it moves. The bones ache. It’s clumsy, it bangs into things because even he can’t see it.

Drin says that the tail is covered in a optically-advanced layer called a slidecoat, that it processes incoming light and reflects back what could be seen if it wasn’t in the way. It may be refusing to go back hidden in its old box, but the skin keeps it hidden so nearly invisible most of the time that none of them are quite sure how it’s been changing, including him. It’s impossible to believe until you see the dents in the mattress under it, but not the thing making it. It has scales, it leaves dents like an alligator leather in his lovers’ skin when they try to hold it up.

Drin says it is holding in the heat too much, which is why Dance is always too hot, chewing down buckets of ice.

But then Drin can’t remember the rest of what he used to know about it, and he looks anxious, and goes silent on them for an hour or more.

Emma is coping by doing things, being bossy, working on meeting Dance’s needs. When he’s not keeping her busy, she’s exhausting herself on research, trying to learn more on Drin’s borrowed laptop. She’s gone very owlish about it, possibly as a result of not venting her inner librarian as usual, at work.

Emma documents everything. She insists on buying little disposable cameras and taking pictures of the dents in the mattress, with her tape measure hanging around nothingness, the loop bigger every morning. That morning, last time Emma measured it, it was about nine feet long and about eighteen inches in diameter at the base near his buttocks, about as thick as his neck.

She takes pictures of Dance lying there on the bed twisted around, trying to get comfortable, sprawled naked in different odd positions that won’t look like anybody’s average porn shots. She catches him yawning, and asks him to open his mouth wide for her while she aims the flash into his tongue. She takes pictures of the changes in his lower back and his hips. She takes pictures of how he’s lost most of his pubic hair in the last few weeks.

She takes pictures of the astonishing things that have happened between his thighs. She takes pictures of his genitals in every state, showing his penis going from flaccid to erect, even some pictures of him trying to relieve himself in the trash can when he couldn’t make it to the toilet in time.

She takes pictures of him writhing in orgasm in Drin’s arms, which probably will come out like those unflattering sexual pictures of ordinary people. Pictures that will never, ever get developed in a regular photo lab.

The tail is just a symptom.

A lot of things are totally unhinged, out of kilter, flapping gently in any breeze that offers. He knows that the decisions they all make will fossilize down to the way things go on for quite a long time.

Drin says that it’s even possible that some choices made at the biochemical level will just make the tail go quietly away, shrink back to nothing, and Dance will be much as he was.

Dance just doesn’t know which way things should be.

Right now he’s the monster that can’t hide underneath the bed.  They might mesh into this world better than he does, right now, but they didn’t come from here either, as they all believed.  Certainly not as their memories were somehow edited to make them all believe.  They can’t avoid it when they see those loops sprawled across the bed, with nothing visible there to explain the crumpled, compressed sheets.

The thing built off his spine unrolled itself out of nothing, longing to touch Drin, and it can’t go back into hiding.  He has no idea exactly where it went when it hid from everything, small and hot and cramped, but it isn’t going back in its hole now. It stays out all the time, and increasingly it hurts.

The scaled glassy invisible skin has outraged nerves that hurt the way a bad sunburn hurts, so laying on any side of it hurts, but not moving the weight off any one section of skin hurts too.  Besides the incredible unbalanced weight dragging at his spine and muscles too weak to support it reliably, his legs have gone all silly on him.

The second day in this room, he fell badly, and then he got to lay there whimpering. The skin of his tail was burning alive with outraged nerves so badly that he couldn’t move for an hour. He got to abuse the little hotel trash can that night because he couldn’t even crawl as far as the toilet.  He has the suspicion this is not new to the trash can, which doesn’t help assuage his pride one bit.  He hadn’t realized he was quite so… vain. Or body-proud. Or something.

He’s been asking for help to keep him steady when he walks. Pride be damned, it was a bad enough fall he’s not going through that again.  Visions of wheelchairs dance in his head. His arms may be stronger and faster than ever, but below the waist he’s a total disaster in the coordination and walking department.

Now he can actually chimney his body up into the ceiling corners above the bathroom door with his arms. When the tail hangs down loosely, touching nothing but air currents, it hurts less. It pulls differently on the tired muscles and the vertebrae of his lower back, easing the ache that reaches past his kidneys.

However, it wasn’t so funny when Emma came in from shopping and walked into bathroom, smacked face-first into the magic invisible tail, and shrieked in surprise. He thought she’d seen him climbing up there, but apparently not. The tail hadn’t liked her being alarmed, and wanted to pet her a lot, and she really hadn’t been much in the mood to be touched like that.

The tail has a mind all of its own, too. The slide coat on it keeps it hidden so well he can’t see its movements. He rarely gets a glimpse of where it actually is, as opposed to where he thinks it is–and it turns out that visual feedback is more important to his coordination that he’d realized. Often he has no idea what it’s up to. It moves on its own, gripping and smacking into the bed and the walls and scrawling wild gestures in the air like a drunk.

It’s like being attached to a retarded cousin.

In spite of how much it hurts to grab things or touch that burning skin to anything, it still loves to fall into Drin and grab his crotch, or to drape itself around Emma’s tits. The damn thing is tied into his subconscious or his libido or something because it doesn’t want to let go of them, and it has a very silly lewd sense of humor. He can’t stop it from pulling pranks like floofing up Emma’s skirt, or yanking down Drin’s loose pants.

The only reason they believe his protests is that they see him grab at it, gritting his teeth, to haul it away from teasing them–and when it resists, like a little kid, it’s very strong.

It’s also got some weird tie-in with the rest of what’s going on between his legs. For the last two days, the sexual heat went away completely, it left his plumbing system completely unable to respond at all.

“Down for repairs,” he told Emma wryly, when she touched him in a way that normally would have made him come up hard.

He can’t believe it when he wakes up the third morning with a raging hard-on, as if there had been no hiatus, and it was the tail that woke him up, flopping around trying to do something about it. It grabbed at his crotch, gripped his penis too hard, trying stubbornly to masturbate. It didn’t calm down until somebody’s hand took up the job instead and his penis declared itself happy.  It does react to pleasure, becoming fluid and easy and strong when he’s having sex.  He knows enough about basic anatomy that he is pathetically grateful about that.

Every morning when he wakes up, they’re finding the tail weighs another twenty pounds. Emma bought a bathroom scale. She weighs herself right beside the bed, muttering at the fluctuations she writes down. Then she lifts up the slippery pile of his new extendable personhood in her arms, and steps on the scale again with the load. When he can stand for it to be touched at all, that is.

Most of the time Drin has to be doing something extremely sexual to him for Emma to girlhandle it for weighing. It’s gotten heavy enough that this morning was probably the last time Emma can hold it up by herself. She’s a strong girl, but there’s limits.

She and Drin will have to swap jobs tomorrow morning. They might kid him about it, but they’re not going to let him out of the task, either.

Emma isn’t fazed a bit by his physical needs, by suddenly getting to know a whole new side of him and his amazing erratic digestive system. That morning, she bought piles of fresh herbs and knobs of ginger root and cinnamon health food capsules, crowing about getting lucky. She’s been coaxing him to eat whatever high protein sources she can find.

Drin suggested trying the pet shop to try various samples, but it was Emma who grimly bought him a bag of frozen mice. She waved one of those in his face, and blinked when he grabbed it and wolfed it down.  He was just glad for how cold it was. Frozen cubes of beefheart, liver and seafood, intended for large fish, prompted the same response.

He’s learned it has to be moving, half-melted and spreading scent, for him to react. Emma disapproves of keeping reptiles as pets when they need to be fed things like poor pathetic frozen mice, but if she can find nothing better, she will do it. He prefers to eat without anybody watching him flipping his food around. He’s not very happy about the baby mice either.

Emma says he’s depressed, not just sick and hurting and begging for more sleep. She’s been concerned about his tired indifference to how he looks, bullying him into combing his hair, helping him shave when he’s too clumsy to do it, using wet towels to cool him down in the afternoons when everything is breathlessly hot and he still can’t stand the weird smell and the rattling of the air conditioner.

It gives her something to do, it gives her a reason to touch him, which she seems to need as badly as he does.

But she did one thing that he didn’t wanted to revisit. Emma gravely pulled out a hand mirror out of one of her shopping bags this morning. She bought it so he can look at the more awkward personal parts of himself, in the same way that women are supposed to keep an eye on their private parts.

She asked if he wanted her help to see what’s changed, and he said no. As politely as he could manage to say it, but no. He asked her to go take a long shower and let him get on with it by himself

She actually sang in the shower, to make sure he knew she was there, ready to come running if he yelled for it, even dripping wet if necessary. It just made it harder. Made him flinch, expecting her to come charging out any moment, and he didn’t want her to see how upset he was.

He spent a difficult, thoughtful forty-five minutes straining around, aching, trying to see things he’s never noticed before. A lot of men never see themselves in such a way, never realize how odd their asses really do look until they see it, big as life, in ridiculously personal detail on theri own webcam images. Well, poking about the Internet in years past, he’s had plenty of chances to learn that women look odd too caught at such unflattering angles. That was before Drin marched into his life and found them all much more amusing things to do with all of their perfectly ordinary personal charms.

Dance has never been able to think a live person’s body is odd when he’s got his nose down kissing their skin, smelling it, enjoying himself, getting to know his lovers. It all seems right and normal and healthy. He’s only had these two lovers to explore. But this… what he looks like now…

When Emma did eventually emerge from the bathroom, her fingers were all wrinkled from so much time in the water, her face all peachy pink and soft from being steamed so thoroughly.

She took one look at him and put the mirror away in a drawer and made sure he knew that she likes touching him, that she is not afraid of how he’s shaped now.  But hell, she’s braver than he is.  It makes her laugh when he says so.

What he has now, she told him briskly, looks like an adaptation of a reptilian cloaca, a slitlike pouch that covers up all the relevant bits safely away from dragging on the ground. Very sensible arrangement, really, to protect everything much more than the way mammals have to allow things to cool off for sperm development. If his cloaca stays closed too much, his testicles may stay too hot for fertile sperm, just like a man wearing tighty-whiteys too much.

He may be sterile anyway, of course.

Dance just kept staring at her as she talked her way through this. He’s been trying to convince himself that his lovers have seen all of him before, anyway, except of course they haven’t. He hasn’t seen it all before. Nobody has.

She says she knows it’s an adaptation, because his one penis still looks like it always did. If he had reptilian genitals, there’d be two erectile organs, called hemipeni. It’d be a wet dream come true for some people, of course, she says, but not exactly what anybody expects to see. They’ll have to keep checking on that area in case anything changes further.

He’s not sure he wants to let them poke around looking that closely to check on him. He doesn’t want to do it. He doesn’t want to find some kind of nub of a second penis growing out.

The tail is bad enough.

She scolded him when he said so, and kissed him silly. She made him feel the love pouring into him through her hands, while she explained it all in her storytelling voice. Somehow that was the most upsetting of all. He wasn’t sure why. He just wanted to cry.

When she saw that the words were just making it worse, then she stopped talking and made love to him, slowly and thoroughly, and exhausted both of them. He slept, instead. That’s been a new habit, the last few days.

Being clumsy isn’t stopping his sexual needs since it woke up again. Part of the achiness is just wear and tear from so much sex. He should be out for the count, feeling this bad, but he’s still up hard, begging for it if the slightest chance of sex offers, and a good whiff of honest sweat from either of his lovers sends him rigid as a rock.

b/w photo side of woman's breast
source unknown

He’s in some kind of full-on raging heat like a screaming cat. It’s humiliating, some sort of overriding trance like a Siamese, yowling and rubbing his face on Emma and pushing his ass at both of them, begging for it. He’s probably going to hump furniture if he gets left by himself too long.  Dance knows he’s giving himself suspiciously TMJ-like symptoms from having his jaw wide open that much, busy pleasuring other people’s body parts, or busy pleasuring himself by licking them. A lot.

It isn’t just him. They’re all over him, too. His lovers are in heat too, they’re not shy about that.  Emma has complained once that her wrists hurt from taking awkward angles to grip their penises too often, and her jaws hurt from going down on them so much. But she still wants more.

Drin doesn’t complain much, but he’s walking a little funny, and Dance has managed to restrain himself and turn down some of the poor man’s more wincing offers to satisfy him. Dance will take Emma’s word for it when she says she calculates he’s been climaxing about every two hours through the day, and about every four at night. That’s when he’s trying really hard to keep his thoughts disciplined and just lay there and be quiet so they can get some sleep.

Drin sounds cooler about it, the least ruffled mentally about it, but he’s right there touching Dance the most often. It’s his hands easing Dance into climax all the time, his body taking the most punishment from Dance’s hips whacking into him. He’s the one who’s up all night, talking to Dance, holding him when he’s hurting, trying to get him to eat, trying to arrange pillows to help prop him up, rocking him in his arms and kissing him, getting him off when he can’t stand it any longer.

Drin is restless anyway, nights. He doesn’t sleep much when it’s dark. Neither of them have asked him why he has bad dreams if he dozes off at night. “Guess I got that old night watch built in for the duration, don’t worry,” he says, making a face.

Drin has some ideas about finding support people to look for in a new part of the country, and he’s been trying searches on his battered little secondhand laptop. He visits different coffee shops, visiting Wifi spots. None of them knows where exactly they will end up, or what they’ll be doing, or why. None of them know what is going to happen to Dance’s body.

Drin believes that it’ll improve. He says Dance will get adjusted to the shift in his center of gravity, he believes the tail will stop growing so fast, its coordination will improve over time.  He thinks it might learn how to vanish from sight completely.  But he doesn’t think it’s just going away.

That’s why Dance touring in a zydeco band is probably wishful thinking on Emma’s part, but it might come true. Emma searches on the computer for zydeco and jazz and blues gigs in another part of the country, where she and Drin might find jobs eventually.  Dance has never watched so much tv before, hunting among cable channels for history of the blues, about cajun music, about jazz, any music he can find, just in case.

Emma has taken on daylight watch. She gets things for Dance during the day, goes shopping, does research on Drin’s laptop while he’s out cold during the afternoon, and insists that Dance try to exercise his tail, work on testing it out, try to get some coordination going, whenever he can stand to move it around.

They can go out in public and ask questions and get directions and buy food and pay for gas.

Dance has never needed care like this, never asked for it from anyone, and he is stunned by it.

Dance knows that not all of the shadows in the room are cast by the reflected pool light darting about. When he’s laying still, feeling hot, needing to cool off, then he sometimes sees little flickering lights tossed out from his tail, little glittery blue and red and green flickers that are not just the cute rainbow patterns of a glassy surface tossing back reflected sunlight.

It can be quite pretty.

He just wonders why.

===

Challenge: bjd_30minfic, prompt 7, Shadow

Small Mercies

b/w photo of interlaced hands
man & woman, photo by Christania

Emma leans forward, smoothing the mixture of baby oil and lidocaine ointment across what used to be Dance’s bottom–what used to be quite a nice muscular ass. What it’s become is a surreal combination of the spooky, the transcendentally beautiful, and the absurd. Trying to remain bipedal with twelve feet of anaconda musculature hanging off your pelvic vertebrae is asking for a backache of Biblical proportions. She sympathizes, although she’s got far less reason for her wonky backbone than he does, now.

“I do not understand being so tired all the time,” Dance says, slightly muffled, laying on his belly with his head resting in his arms.

The tail is visible briefly, freshly oiled like this, sprawled out in brown shadowy loops that gleam with little bluish and purple and green glints. Little glints of white and of dark blue show up in diamonds and bars of darker brown skin. The track of glinting scales runs up his back midway between his shoulders now. She knows more of them will be growing out, as the texture of his skin has begun to change subtly up to the base of his skull. She smoothed the oil mixture on all of that, up under his hair. Neither of them is sure how far the scaling will go, or if he’ll lose his head hair.

She lifts her eyebrows. “Silly,” she says, because he does know a lot of reasons, perfectly plainly, why twelve feet and growing would exhaust him, just from hauling around the weight. It’s hard to guess at the resources the thing has been soaking up.

The scales stir and roll lazily under her palm, and the tip comes up and slides along her arm, curl around her shoulders. “Yeah, I’m starting to get tired too,” she says, and brushes more of the mixture onto the tip as it rises in front of her, hanging there as if waiting for her to respond.

“Better?” she asks, and it makes a little flippy waving gesture, and flops back onto the bed with a vivid cartoonlike gesture of exhaustion. “Any other bits need a second coating? Dry bits?”

A loop midway along rises in front of her. “How far along there? Okay, let me get some more on my hands.”

The tail wiggles a little, like a man shifting around while locked out of a bathroom he needs desperately, and she chuckles. The tail speaks for Dance’s sense of humor, his whimsical side, for his temper, for his more childish id, and he has very little ability to stop it from doing whatever it wants. And it is still a baby, still clumsy, still learning how to manipulate objects. She saw it fling a fork across the room in frustration that morning, and Dance painfully got up and cleaned up the mess himself, clenching his jaw, while the tail coiled and twisted around his legs and got in the way, like a kid having a tantrum.

“There,” she says to it, smoothing more oil mixture onto the loops in front of her. She says then, “Let me look. Is it peeling yet?”

The tail tip comes up and touches her arm, then slides rapidly up her arm, up to her face. “Yes, love? What? Show me.”

The base of the tail arches up, shifts over to one side, and Dance gives a little grunt, butt shifting.

“Yes, love, I know what you want. In a minute,” Emma says, stroking her finger along the tip gently, and watching that tail base shift ecstatically even further aside. “Now let me see if any of this is peeling, I need to put extra oil on it, so you won’t hurt so much later.” After some time examining spots where the surface skin was cracking earlier, she gets up and washes her hands and puts on gloves and gets out what she’s going to need next. Condom onto the dildo for him, and check there’s enough remaining in the bottle of lube. She uses a lot when she’s fucking him like this.

She returns to Dance’s side and warms up lube in the palms of her hands, and strokes that on in quite a different location. He gives a sigh, and gets his knees under him, hoists his pelvis up for her to get at him. Her hand slides across the little pouch of skin, and it relaxes opens for her, and his cock spills out into her fingers, already hard and eager and half-erect. He leans his head into his forearm and says, quietly, “I still don’t know how on earth you found a sex place out here to buy toys–”

“You should have seen the tacky lingerie!” She smiles, and smooths on more lube, and slides the first finger into his anus, and he gives a little eager panting noise, pushing up into her touch. God, it’s so hot inside him!

“–but I’m so relieved you did!” he gasps as the second finger slides into him, and then he’s not talking, just making those noises. Good noises.

His lower back is far too stiff with pain to move or rock much, it’s her arms that provide the motion and pressure he needs. Her hand on his cock is stripping up and down his shaft at the nice, steady, even pace that he needs to build upward toward climax.

She knows she’s doing it right when the tail comes up and climbs around on her, stroking her legs, with the tip exploring over her back, touching her hair and her face and down over her ass and cupping her boobs, doing all those touches he would be doing with his hands if he was in a different position. The odd part is that it feels so oddly good, not creepy at all. The affection is clear. He always loves touching her.

“Ready, love?” she asks, sliding her fingers out of his body, and pressing the cone of the dildo into place instead. He gasps, pushes into it, with that good groan, the one that says he needs exactly what she’s giving him, it’s not too soon for him. She drives the length of the dildo into him in little rocking stages of possession, a little deeper on each stroke, in and out of him at the same pace as she’s fisting his cock. She cups her little fingers around the tip of his cock then, pushing hard against the glans with each stroke on his shaft, and he gives a louder, harder gasp.

She’s pushing inward and dragging outward on him, front and back, with all the strength of her arms, trying to prevent him shifting his ass around very much, and he’s still rocking a little in place, making a tight noise growling down in his throat. Good sign, that means she’s got the dildo’s arch turned the right way, she knows it’s hitting his prostate gland–which seems to be pretty far up inside him, but it always was–and he’s making that little groan every time the tip of the dildo hits him there.

It doesn’t take long, in clock time, really. It just feels like a long time when her arm muscles are starting to tire out. But she loves seeing him lose it, just give himself over to the pleasure of climax.

“Oh,” Dance gasps, his spine humping upward like a Halloween cat. “Oh.”

What takes real skill is to get him safely lying down again, tail stretched out in comfortable bends, cleaned up, before post-coital exhaustion takes him down within about eight minutes. He never used to be sleepy after sex, but now it knocks him out completely, sometimes for a couple of hours. With his tail in so much pain, that’s a blessing she figures she can help along as much as possible.

===

 

Familiar Fantasies

Emma puts her keys back in her purse and lifts her head, startled.  She must have been quieter than usual coming in.  Without a sound, she slips off her shoes.

She can hear rapid breathy gasps and the distinctive slapping of wet skin on skin.  Whatever furniture they’re leaning on, they’ve moved it far enough away from the wall that it’s not bashing through the whole house the way it was doing the night before.  That was pretty explicit too.  She knew exactly what was happening, without having to see a thing.

She knows what’s happening now, too.  Better than any porn flick she’s ever watched, hearing those deep, throaty moans coming down the hallway.

Dance has been learning how to bring his lover to climaxes as loud and noisy and unrestrained as his own, and Drin didn’t start off by making out in the house with quite that much total, trusting abandon.  They tried to be quiet, Dance tried really hard to avoid bringing anything to public attention.  Lately, they give themselves to it with a force that leaves clothes scattered and the towels a mess and Dance’s bed a wreck, and the whole house smells of sex.

It’s enough to drive a woman to masturbate right along with them, just to get it over with.  Emma knows exactly how that desperate teenage fury feels, crashing through her and driving her to desperate measures.  For her, it’s tied to her monthly hormonal swings.  The frantic need hits her just before she starts bloating up, getting snarling temper tantrums–all the first early warnings of her period.  The rhythm of the moaning throbs in her gut and down in her cunt.  It’s the same way she felt listening to them pick up speed last night.  Wow, it left her imagination freewheeling all right.  But that certainly helped this afternoon, pleasuring herself frantically in the ladies’ room, desperate to get it dealt with before she had to go back to meetings.

And what was she imagining?  Not just any vague random porn stars, not any more.  Now she sees those skilled hands that cook dinner most nights, at play fondling things she hasn’t seen yet.  Their faces, kissing. The older man’s mouth on that cock.  And those hard, bony, familiar bodies, moving together.  It’s hardly reasonable of her to want to see anything; the sounds are more than generous enough.

She makes herself walk away, most days, if there’s any chance of intruding.  But she often imagines herself stepping forward when they’re too far gone to care what she sees.  Standing, in the hallway, where the door is open, watching their bodies shifting steadily against each other, watching Drin’s head moving between Dance’s thighs, watching him turn Dance over and penetrate him and pleasure him until Dance climaxes, but just short of driving himself into that final orgasm.  Then he’s teasing Dance back up into hardness again so soon, offering himself up in turn, and groaning loudly as Dance rocks himself deeper and deeper between Drin’s knees. She can imagine the shine of the sweat across Dance’s shoulders, the powerful buttocks clenching, until both of them are crying out together, and collapsing together in a sweaty, limp heap.  An amazingly beautiful heap of muscles, if she’s any judge.

In some of her fantasies, that is when she marches in and lubes up Dance’s ass and takes him with a strap on, pleasuring herself as she does and feeling that ease and languor of the truly well-fucked spreading through his body underneath her.  And then Drin, just beginning to get interested again, the big frame shuddering under her as she takes him too.  With him pushing back hard, shoving back at her as they both come.  That’s her fantasy, unrealized.

Today it’s already too late to sneak away, virtuously Not Looking.  She knows Dance can hear her moving.  She doesn’t try to hide it.  She walks down the hall, shoes in hand, and looks up.

The door is open.  They must have forgot it in their urgency.  Afternoon light pours in across the bed.

She sees Dance sprawled naked across his lover, draped gracefully around and across Drin’s back, and yes, it’s sweaty and primal and Dance is wearing a condom, half-visible down there between Drin’s thighs.  But it’s far more emotional than anything she imagined.  Dance is kissing the side of Drin’s face, lingering over it, stroking the man’s glimmering light hair, murmuring something, and the towering figure is sprawled out monumentally across the whole bed.  Drin has his head down on one arm with his eyes shut, relaxed, at peace.  Not worried about what she might see.

Then Dance lifts his head and looks at her, knowing she’s there in the hallway.  The softness is still there in his face, the eyes are so wide and trusting, looking up at her.  If he holds out his hand to her, she’ll take it.

“Hi, Em,” Drin says, pushing himself up on one elbow.

She takes a half step into the light, blows them both a kiss, and closes the door for them, firmly.  No business of hers to intrude, even if she couldn’t help it.  Let them be sure she approves, at least.

Now that, she tells herself, closing her own bedroom door gently, is going to take some thinking about.  But not right now.

She’s still breathing hard when she hears the shower going, the pipes gurgling in the walls.  She’d best hurry about her business, she knows they’re going to try to apologize immediately, or as soon as they can scuffle into some clothes.

The tap on her door comes in less than five minutes after the water stops running.

“Just a minute,” she says, struggling into shorts.  She glances down.  Her breasts are still a furious blush-pink, no hiding that in a little sleeveless tank shirt.  She dives into a longer tee, and shoves her feet into thongs.  When she opens the door, both men are standing there.

They’re both damp about the ears and their shorts and shirts are shoved on nearly as sloppily as hers are.  Drin looks tense, concerned; Dance has his head down.

Dance opens his mouth, and nothing comes out.  He looks up at Drin, making a frustrated little hand gesture.

Emma holds up her hand, crooks her forefinger at Dance.  “C’mere, you,” she says, and rests her wrist on his shoulder, twists her fingers into his wet hair.  She tugs a little.  “You’re so damned cute I can’t stand it, okay?  Flash that booty all you like–you know, somehow, I really don’t mind that one bit.  Just don’t give me a heart attack like that one again, if you don’t mind.”

Dance nods, looking down, and his cheekbones flush a dark, garden-bronzed red.

Emma smacks him quite hard on the butt, with a loud noise, and chuckles when it makes him jump a little.  Then she narrows her eyes, turning to Drin.  Again she crooks her finger.

Drin makes a wry face, and bends enough that she can grab his hair in the same way.

She gets her fingers wrapped in his hair and then she lays a big juicy kiss across his mouth, feeling him startle for just a moment.  Then he makes a little sound and he leans into it harder, opening his mouth just a little.  She knows exactly what to do with that.  She’s thought about that one quite a lot, over the last few months.  When she draws back, she can see the man’s eyes are huge.  So are Dance’s.

“Umm,” Drin says.

“Yeah,” Emma says.  “Don’t tease, okay, you big ol’ lion.”

“Umhhhm,” Drin says, blinking.  He glances down at Dance, and back up again, surprised.

Dance looks down at himself, and then up at them both, equally surprised.  There is no way he should have anything up that hard and eager in those shorts that soon.  But there it is.  He calls it his little man, but it’s no joke.  “Oh,” Dance says, surprised.  He actually flaps his hands outward, flustered all over again.

Drin looks at Dance and gives a wry little smile, as if he knows all about reactions that take a guy totally by surprise.  Then he looks at her with that quirk of a smile.

Damn the man, Emma growls to herself.  Of course he couldn’t have picked a more devastating expression for laying on the charm.

“Dinnertime,” Emma says firmly, and pushes on their arms to make them turn around.  She pushes them down the hallway toward the kitchen.  Dance’s face is still dark congested bronze, which on a pale person like herself would be a seriously scarlet blush.  The back of his neck has gone dark red.  She smacks his butt again, just on general principles, and the blush only deepens.  He scurries off behind the stove and busies himself pulling things out of cabinets, lifting things out of the fridge, trying to keep the counters in between him and her line of sight, even when it’s awkward.

Drin pulls out a chair for her and gives her a kiss on the hand, smiling, and goes back to Dance and ruffles his hair when Dance ducks away from him.  Drin tugs on him, gives him a hug, kisses his cheek, and at last Dance leans back into him as if he can’t help it.  Pulls Drin’s arms around him.  That makes Drin chuckle.  Is there anything more flattering than the way Dance reacts to him?  Dance waves his hands around, talking softly, frustrated.

Drin takes pity on him and comes over by Emma, turns on the little kitchen radio to a Spanish music station.  He fetches a few things that are out in the open area, and Dance mumbles his thanks, blushing harder than ever.

That only makes Drin lift one furry brow at him and smile.  Then he cocks up one brow at Emma.

“Bring me the potatoes,” Emma commands him.  Both of them know what comes next.  He smiles and brings potatoes to Emma, pulls out a bowl and knife so she can start peeling them at the table, while he chops them into a bowl.

Drin starts singing along with the radio, and eventually Dance forgets his embarrassment enough to add a descant by whistling it.  Dance gets out his innocent-looking Korean chili paste jar, gochujang.  Of course he’s making bibimbap out of leftovers.  It’s what he cooks when his afternoon was busy with other things.  The smell of roasting chili and frying onion rises in gusts into the room as Dance stirs chopped things in the pan.

Tiny kitchen with log pillar
A Place for Very Little

“You know,” Emma says to Drin, “one of the wicked old bitches at the Metro asked me if I got a thing for Santa Claus every year too.”

Drin looks at her under the brows.  His eyes look very fierce.

“Joscelyn?” Dance asks, with that alarmingly good hearing of his.

“Yep.  I told her if Santa looked like Drin, then we’d all be in trouble.”

A slow blush rises up Drin’s cheeks, at last.  “You didn’t.”

“Oh yeah I did.  Made her laugh, anyway.”

“Oh, God, save me from wicked old terrors,” Drin says in a pained tone.  It’s a lovely blush.

Dance laughs along with Emma at that.

Emma reaches out and pokes Drin with her thumb.  “You wouldn’t get her interest if she didn’t like you.”

“Or you, either, and you know how dangerous that is!” Drin tosses back at her, and makes Emma laugh in agreement.

“She’s going to keep after you,” Dance warns Emma.  He puts on a scratchy falsetto.  “‘Have you kissed him yet?  Was he good in bed?  Is he a top or a bottom?  Tell me everything!'”

They both look at him, wide-eyed.  Drin actually has his mouth open, outraged.

“I said the gentleman never tells,” Dance says, putting his nose nobly in the air, and making them laugh.

“And you think we only like you for your beauty,” Emma says to Dance, wagging a particularly lumpy potato.

“‘Ahh, will you still feed me, will you still keep me, when I’m sixty-four?'” Dance sings the tune in rhythm to totally different music on the radio.  It goes perfectly well, of course.

“I don’t have that far to go!” Drin says, looking pained again.

Dance waves it off.  “Oh, your looks, they are like the faces on that mountain Rushmore, they never fail.”

“Well, until Lincoln’s nose falls off,” Emma says, lifting one finger.  She diagrams it on a half-peeled potato.  “There’s cracks on the slope that they had to reinforce–”

Drin starts roaring with laughter.

“So we better watch out Drin’s nose doesn’t fall off?  That would be sad.  I like Drin’s nose.”  Dance starts whistling again.  The happiness just keeps getting loose, leaking out of him in all directions, when he isn’t thinking.

That morning,  Emma saw him doing some little skippy tap-dance steps while he was watering his big potted plants in front.  He told her later he was testing the rhythm to a new piece of music he was working on.  Bernstein’s jazzy stuff.  He never used to do that.  That little twirly whistle?  That’s something Drin brought out in him.  Drin’s theme.  Emma smiles slowly, content.

soap bubble lodged on purple heather
A Soap Bubble Captured

Drin looks at her smiling like that, and he laughs louder yet.

“What’s so funny?” Emma says, blinking.

“You do that deliberately, I swear!” Drin yelps.

“Do what?”

“The librarian fact thing,” Dance tells her, helpfully.

“Oh, if I was doing that, I’d start talking about trying to remove the rust stains from the restoration efforts done in the past–”

“Oh God, Emma, you make me laugh until my ribs hurt!” Drin says.

“Well, somebody ought to,” Emma says primly, making the sour face she uses with silly Librarian voices.  It only makes him laugh harder.