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.

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.

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.

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.

===

 

Blue Silk

Dance, Drin, Emma.

For the prompt "Crossdressing" and, of course beta’d by nagasvoice; mwuah!


His lovers are busy when Drin gets home.

His lovers are busy when Drin gets home.

Emma has Dance pushed back against the recliner, pinning him there with her body straddling his hips. From the movements of her shoulders, she is doing something very delicate, and Dance’s bare feet wiggle once in a while, the toes seeking each other out; if feet could hold each other, Drin thinks in amusement, these would. “Don’t move,” she says when Drin says hello. One of Dance’s hands lifts and drops.

“What are you doing?”

“He expressed an interest…” Emma is preoccupied. “in femininity, hold effing still, and we are about to witness…. Mmm, just one more moment… ” She shifts her shoulders as Drin moves, blocking his view of the action. “Right-o. Take a look at our princesss.”

Dance tilts his head up. Emma has lined his eyes with kohl, shimmered the flat lids in gold and a whisp of butterfly blue. There’s the faintest tint of rose over those high, sharp cheekbones, and Dance’s pouting mouth is lined and glossed. She’s taken the long straight sheaves of his hair and swirled them up in coquettish whorls and spills. He’s become some Chinese emperor’s concubine in grey sweats. “Fucking hell!” Drin says.

Dance’s smile is something else entirely under the spell of the paint. “I think he likes me to be a girl.”

“You wait here,” Emma instructs Drin, “Us girls want to change into something more comfortable.” Her raucous laugh spills out as she guides the diminutive musician into the bedroom. Drin leans against the bookshelf, and wishes he still smoked.

When they return, Dance is wearing Emma’s blue wrap dress– it comes down to his calves of course, since it was made for the taller woman– Emma behind him in the green one which reaches only to the middle of her sleek thighs. Together, they look like some skewed version of the “Mikado”, with mismatched sisters.

Emma has made no attempt to give Dance breasts, or disguise the muscles of his arms, and his abs ripple under the delicate silk. He is a man. But he moves with a sway in his hips, delicately picking up and laying down his bare feet, and his haunches roll as he comes forward. His eyes look impossibly slanted in his golden face. Emma is grinning wickedly behind him. “You look gobsmacked.”

“God, I am!” Drin gets out. “Come here Emma, Dance– give us a show.” He gets an arm around Emma’s waist, while staring at the vision in front of him. Dance raises his arms and undulates in a circle, blue silk fluttering, head poised on that strong neck as delicately as any courtesan.

“Emma, we should dance for Drin.” Dance isn’t trying to make his voice feminine, but that sultry note sounds just right. Emma leaves Drin’s side, and starts a silly hula-dance movement– except that her hips are hypnotisingly beautiful, and Dance, once he catches on, is as lithe as a cat. They do-si-do, snickering, and finish with a vaudeville step that exposes the lace and shimmer that Drin is expecting on her– and something equally lacy and flimsy being stretched by Dance’s semi erection. Drin gasps.

“Show him, love,” Emma says. She moves behind Dance, wraps one arm around his shoulders. Dance’s head tilts back, leaning against her breasts, rocking into them gently, smiling with those glossed lips. Emma runs her fingertips down his silken belly, into the valley of his groin, to the edge of the wrapped garment. Then she lifts, pulling his dress up, like he’s some uke in a yaoi manga, and exposes his lace covered crotch. Her other hand goes down as well, thumbs and forefingers framing and pressing the satin over his prick, and Dance makes a helpless little thrust, and Drin is now wondering if he will be able to replace that dress for Emma because he really doesn’t think he’ll be able to get it off of Dance without ripping it.

===

Dance, Drin, Emma.

For the prompt “Crossdressing” and, of course beta’d by nagasvoice; mwuah!