Thursday, October 20, 2011

Learning Curve

“Okay. I did not think that through.” Alex managed to get that out through gritted teeth, tears standing in his eyes. He had curled up into a tight ball on the bed, hands cupped protectively over his groin.

Neya scooted away from him and pressed her back against the wall, eyes wide. “I had not meant- I did not intend...”

At least she looked as surprised as he had been. “No, I’m sure you didn’t.”

“I am sorry, I was just... curious.” She collected the blanket around herself in a protective barrier and stared down at her hands as she rubbed the tips of her index fingers together.

“That’s great.” Alex sighed and checked his hands, a wave of relief washing over him. No blood. He waited a few moments, listening to the shower run as he sorted himself out. “I can understand that, it’s an admirable trait.”

She didn’t look up, voice hurried as she tried to explain herself. “Carbon had said you were, nh... different. I wanted to see what sh-”

“You don’t-” He snapped at her but bit his words back, feeling guilty but still fairly violated. “You don’t see with your mouth.”

“I am aware. While I was just looking it was clear you were already...” She tapped her fingers together, lips pursed while she considered her choice of words. “Alert. I had thought you would enjoy it. You seemed to be very accommodating, for some time.”

That probably explained what happened to his boxers. “Yeah, I’m sure I was before I woke up.”

They sat in silence for some time and Neya’s voice was quiet and sad when she finally spoke. “Am I not adequate for you?”

He sighed again and pushed himself up, sitting cross-legged on the pillows with hardly a wince. “You slept through most of  the conversation I had with Carbon about you last night, didn’t you?”

She nodded and looked up at him. “I believe I did, yes.”

“All right, look, you’re perfectly nice and well intentioned. But you have to understand that there’s nothing like you for Humans. Not that I know of, anyway. Zeshen are completely outside the scope of my experience until now.”

“Very well.” Neya evaluated him carefully and did not look like she saw what he was getting at.

“I’m used to the idea of having sex with just who I’m dating or in this case, married to. Finding you doing that makes me really uncomfortable. I mean, just having you in the bed made me uncomfortable.”

“But, but I- I am...” She started to tap her fingers together again, brow furrowed. “I...”

“I know. It’s an alien concept, right?” He managed a smile. The shower finally shut off and the dryer started up a moment later. At least if he needed Carbon to help him explain something she’d be available soon.

“It is not, but... I am Carbon’s zeshen. I am your zeshen. It is...” She pressed her lips together and for a moment it seemed as thought she might start to cry. It passed quickly, her mouth pulled tight. “It is alien.”

Alex checked the clock in his Amp. “Five hours ago, I thought you were a secretary. I don’t fully understand this zeshen-aeshen business yet and I don’t think we fully understand each other.”

“That has been made very clear.”

Alex laughed and nodded. “Yeah. I’m probably going to be a lot of work.”

That got a little smile out of her. “That is fine. Carbon loves you so much and even Eleya believes you to be honest. I should not have expected you to take to our ways so quickly.”

“Lesson learned, right?”

“Yes.” She went back to fiddling with her fingers. “Do you find me unattractive?”

“Uh.” Alex raised an eyebrow, not entirely sure where that had come from. “I don’t know. You look... Tslao.”

“When you woke up, you looked horrified. I may not be good with your expressions yet, but that one was clear. I understand why better now, but...”

“Oh. Hell, I don’t know what attractive for Tslao is. I didn’t get involved with Carbon because she’s beautiful. I really can’t tell one way or the other.”

The door to the bathroom slid open and Carbon gave him an inquisitive look, arms crossed over her chest. “I cannot wait to hear this.”

“Hush.” Alex shot her a sidelong glance before turning his eyes back to Neya. “As I was saying. I have heard she’s quite lovely, but I have no point of reference. I fell in love with the heart and mind, not the body. I have no complaints about her body, of course. Very enjoyable.”

Carbon smiled and chuckled quietly, setting herself down on the bed between them. She gave Alex a particularly smart grin and leaned over to him, voice low. “Nicely said.”

A better understanding slowly dawned in Neya’s eyes. “So it was a reaction based on your perceptions of our relationships? You as a married pair and I as only her subordinate?”

“Yes. I felt it was inappropriate and sort of violated. That wasn’t the relationship I understood us to have”

She tented her fingers and tapped them together, lost in thought. “I can see how that would cause you distress. I think it would do the same to me.”

“I’m glad you can see it from my perspective. So we’re clear, I don’t want to put the onus to conform to my expectations on you and I don’t I want you to take it upon yourself. We will work on this together. Is that acceptable?”

“Yes. I would like that.” She still looked to Carbon for approval.

“That is an excellent idea. I think I will get dressed and get breakfast for us.” She slid off the bed and glanced at Alex. “Perhaps you would do well to link so that a more thorough understanding can be had.”

“That’s a good idea.” Alex let out a breath. “I don’t want this to be a surprise... there is one thing, physically, that did bother me.”

Carbon turned from the drawers with a curious look as Neya went back to being worried. “What is that?”

“You’ve got these little, pointy teeth and I know what what they can do.” He tapped the bite mark Carbon had given him, the way her teeth had slid easily through his skin fresh in his mind. “I’m just saying, down there? Those are scary.”


  1. I want to make a Monty Python joke so bad but can't think of anything.

  2. "So, brave knights, if you do doubt your courage or your strength, come no further, for death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth."

  3. Just got back around to reading this. And man this must have been so uncomfortable just to write! Truly, all the emotions come across.

  4. You know, it was actually pretty easy... I love putting Alex into uncomfortable situations! There may be something wrong with me.

    I'm glad that the variety of emotions comes through. I was concerned about that.