Friday, October 28, 2011

Lots of Work

That was one of the weirder things I’ve ever experienced. Alex thought more to himself than Neya as his presence wavered, unsettled by the fresh memory that she had shared with him. That wasn’t something he had ever expected to see... but it was nice to see he was still in good shape despite not having done any exercise in a few months.

At least the link with Neya was giving him a better idea of where she was coming from. Alex couldn’t understand any of her thoughts, but he could interpret her feelings well enough. Neya actually didn’t perceive much difference between herself and Carbon when it came to dealing with him now that they were married... aside from Carbon being much more comfortable around him. But she was willing to steel her will and do what she felt was appropriate, as though he was one of them, because Carbon would have.

She had simply expected him to consider her the same way. A perfectly acceptable surrogate when Carbon was otherwise indisposed, be it with business on another planet or taking a shower. His reaction to her had been profoundly disturbing, his change from apparent enjoyment to horror simply because he woke up was entirely incomprehensible.

Neya’s presence felt soft and earnest, if not uneasy. She crinkled a little, probably trying to read him as he ruminated over what he had seen. Sa esan?

He fluttered, frustrated for a moment before he reminded himself that she meant well. He knew the ‘you’ in that question, but wasn’t sure what esan meant and using his Amp to translate it would interfere with the link. He took a chance and hoped that it meant it was his turn.

Alex cued up his memory in his head and offered it to her, the sinking feeling letting him know she was paying attention and then let her see what he had seen.

He had been been rather enthused at that sort of wake up call, expecting that it was Neya in the shower and Carbon was taking up around where they had left off the night before while they had some privacy. In the dim light of the cabin, he grinned. “You know, this I could get used to...”

That was when he noticed that it didn’t feel like Carbon resting on his leg. The body was different, not as lean and athletic as it should have been. It felt softer and more... fluffy. He lifted the comforter and a pair of amethyst eyes flickered up at him, happy as could be.

Alex’s heart stopped and he was horrified. A dozen emotions flooded through him as he found himself betraying Carbon with her assistant. He panicked as confusion set in, digging his heel into the mattress and shoving himself away from her. He cut the memory short there. No need to relive raking himself across her teeth.

They parted ways, Neya shimmering with excitement before she broke the link. She inched forward on the bed and took hold of his hands, smiling widely. The excitement carried over into her body language and her eyes. “I think I understand now... Better than I did before.”

“That’s good.” Her energetic response to his intense feelings of infidelity sort of put him off, but at least it was a step in the right direction. Best to double check what she got out of that, though. “So you can see where I’m coming from?”

“Oh, yes. I had not even considered that your actions would have been driven by your cultures view of fidelity between the married! I am sorry that I have not had more time with Carbon to acclimate to our differences.”

That sort of made sense. Carbon could show her the various learning experiences they had on the Kshlavo and other times she’s dealt with humans. “I don’t think it would have helped in this case, considering how new I am to this... living situation.”

“Did Carbon not tell you about me?” She cocked her head to the side, eyebrow raised in curiosity.

“No.” He remembered that Carbon was making them breakfast this morning, just a few meters away in the little kitchen behind him. “But it was really busy on the Kshlavo. We didn’t spend a lot of time talking about home.”

Her antennae drooped and she frowned. “Oh. I had thought that... She would have. Because you are so important to her.”

Given everything that had gone on this morning... “You know, I’m kind of surprised she didn’t after that night we got drunk and she-”

Carbon cleared her throat and spoke in Tsla. “Perhaps one of you would like to use the shower before breakfast is ready?”

Neya looked between Carbon and Alex, curiosity on her face. “Would you like to use it first, Alex?”

“No, you can.” He leaned towards her and smiled, his voice dropping to his best stage whisper. “I’ll tell you the rest later.”

“As you wish.” She gave him a conspiratorial smile as she unwound her legs from under her body and leaned over to kiss him briefly before getting up and padding off to the bathroom.

It was unexpected but platonic... Whether that was just how they did stuff like that or she was already working on her boundaries with him, he wasn’t sure. Alex retrieved his pants from the floor and got up, planting himself at the kitchen table. “So why didn’t you tell me about her sooner?”

Carbon stirred the pot she was hovering over, silent until the water in the shower started flowing. “I did not like to think about her while I was away.”


She snapped at him. “Because I felt terrible leaving her behind. We have given each other strength, more so since the disaster, but I could not take her with me. Even if she were not needed to fulfill my duties while away, I would not have taken her on board a ship traveling unexplored space, and certainly not one with a human.”

“Oh really?” He knew better than to be defensive, but that didn’t stop him.

“Yes. I did not know you beyond a file at the time, I did not make it a point to trust humans.”

“Yeah, I remember that.”

Her voice was cold as she retrieved bowls from the cabinet. “I am sure.”

“I was just curious. It’s become clear she’s really important to you and you never mentioned her once.”

“She is...” She exhaled softly. “I was afraid something would have happened. She would have changed, I would have changed, she would reject you... I dealt with that by putting her out of my head. It was not the best way of coping with that fear, but it worked.”

He stood up and slipped his arms around her shoulders, resting his chin on her head. “You’re not going to do stuff like that any more.”

Carbon shrugged and scooped some of that mash she favored into the bowls.

“She loves you. Seriously, she’s willing to do things to me because you’d do them.” He rolled his eyes and laughed. “Me and her are square right now, it's going to be a learning experience but you don’t have anything to worry about.”

Her shoulders relaxed and she leaned back against him. "I am glad."

"Me too." He paused as a thought occurred to him. "You aren't hiding anyone else, are you?"

She chuckled silently and patted his hand. "No. Now, go sit down, breakfast is ready... I want you done sooner rather than later."

"Oh? We have a busy day planned?"

"Not exactly." She set a bowl down in front of him, taking the seat across from him with a knowing smile on her face. Her foot stroked his ankle under the table. "But Neya has a few errands to run that will take several hours."


  1. Poor Alex. lol Also, even though I don't have junk, the scraping of the teeth made any phantom junk I may have ever had in the womb cringe.

  2. For a human, you have a way of seeing things from an aliens perspective. Also, ditto the cringing.

  3. Thank you! I put a lot of work into making sure they think alien thoughts, despite having many similarities.