Thursday, December 30, 2010

Killing Time

The engines worked just as they should have. Not as good as new, but good enough to get them going - but probably only once. That one shot was all they needed to get far enough away from the Ehom that they wouldn’t pursue them further.

At least, in the best of all possible scenarios. They hadn’t expected that there would be a ship coming towards them, possibly coming to check them out. That could easily become problematic. There wasn’t anything they could do about that just yet, though.

All that taken into account, Alex and Carbon were having a strange few days while the cluster of computer cores finished calculating the waveride vector.

Things had gotten... casual.

It had started when Carbon found that Alex had been putting his clothing in the cleaner with hers. She had just been sitting there staring at the open cleaner when Alex had come into her cabin.

“You- your shirt is in the cleaner.” She looked betrayed and a little shocked.

“Yeah, my jumpsuit is in there too.” He hadn’t thought much of it... They were sleeping together, after all. Mixing clothes in the cleaner hadn’t seemed like that big a jump to him.

Her jaw worked, still a bit bewildered. “It is inappropriate!”

“It is?” He paused before it dawned on him, “oh, this is a Tslao thing, isn’t it?”

That was, perhaps, not the best way to put it. Her eyes narrowed and she pursed her lips. “Yes, it is our way. Males and females do not mix their clothing when it is being washed.”

“Huh.” He looked into the cleaner, a sliver of grey showing among the black cloth before he reached in and plucked the shirt out. His jumpsuit came next, set over his shoulder. “Didn’t know. I just... every girlfriend I’ve had was wearing my clothes around the house by the time we were sharing a living space. Don’t worry, it won’t happen again.”

Carbon considered that for a long second, leaning in with wide eyes studying him as he folded the shirt. “It is fine, I may have overreacted.”

“You sure? I think I’ve got enough to get... by with.” His words petered out as he noticed the intensely expectant look on her face, the social trespass of the cleaner forgotten.

“Do you really think of me like that?”

Alex reviewed what he’d just been saying. Girlfriend? Did that even cover aliens? Probably. He was sure the dictionary definition didn’t specify race restrictions. “Oh. Yeah, I guess I do.”

“Could you say it?”

“You’re my girlfriend?”

Carbon nodded slowly, not quite satisfied. “As a statement?”

He grinned at the request, “you’re my girlfriend.”

Carbon’s face melted into a sublime smile, eyes sparkling happily in the cabins lights. She didn’t say anything as she got up and hugged him with a gentle kiss on his cheek before resting her head on his neck with a content sigh.

This should have tipped him off, but he was still surprised when she came to breakfast the next morning wearing a jumpsuit with the sleeves tied around her waist, cuffs rolled up to her ankles and one of his CPP t-shirts. It probably would have worked better with gravity, she was practically swimming in the absurdly large shirt. She had that look like she was getting away with something again.

He suspected that she was, in some way. She had a brief window to elude her duties as Lan - a vacation because there was nothing else she could do just yet. From what Carbon had shown him, she had spent her life earning it.

So, he indulged in it as well. They spent the afternoon sitting on the couch, doing nothing constructive.

“This is just like my job. But I cannot stop.” She squished another brightly colored plastic brick on top of a cluster of them, squeaking it into place. A line of technicolor ships hung over them, all Tslao designs except for a scoutship.

“They are a lot of fun.” Alex’s older brother had given him the set just before he had left, ostensibily because they both played with them as kids and had spent hundreds of hours building spaceships. It was just happenstance that his nephew would be old enough to play with them when he was supposed to come back, of course.

“Mmm.” Carbon poked through the box for the appropriate size brick. She stopped and leaned back against him. “Rub my head some more.”

Alex had been told quite explicitly that you should never touch a Tslao’s antenna. They weren’t particularly sensitive, but they were still a sensory organ and it was rude, a violation of personal space. You wouldn’t like it if someone just up and put their finger in your eye, after all.

Their relationship allowed quite a bit of leeway in regards to personal space. In a flight of serendipity, Carbon had discovered that his fingers were very well sized for massaging the intricate group of muscles that sat at the base of her antenna. It had quickly become her favorite thing.

He rolled his eyes and kneaded the delicate clusters, sinewy under his fingertips. She went back to work on the Hammerhead class carrier she had been working on after nestling down in his lap.

His eyes caught a bit of motion and darted up to the ceiling where the computer cores were still stuck. One of the lights had flipped from red to green, it’s segment of the waveride complete.

It was almost time to go.

1 comment:

  1. I really like how well thought out you have Carbon's race and especially the faux pas.

    Trying to catch up, did not realize how far behind I had fallen.