The week after P'nyssa's initial announcement that she was pregnant was completely insane. I don't clearly remember much of it; calls of congratulations, lots of visitors, even demands for interviews from a few of the newsnets. As if I didn't have enough to do!
But the family in general was very supportive, fending calls for me, weeding out obnoxious guests and sending those on their way, usually by a swift kick. But the real problem was P'nyssa; at first, it had been simply enough for her to know that I supported her in this, but now the harassment of the outside world was becoming intolerable. I was so sorely tempted to invite her to Brie's and ask her to stay there; it being one of my few hidden places.
P'nyssa returned to work, despite her condition. Or maybe because of it. Mostly, it kept her away from the Castle, and from the interferences that were now occurring in my life. Although Paul frequently said that it was "No big deal," I could see that the strain was getting to him. There hadn't been a press run like this since the Dragons had been released.
Ress and Ember decided that tradition in our household was sacred, and that therefore, crashers or not, we were going to have a Dead Rabbit Party, complete with big blue inflatable dead bunny. It was going to be held on the 1st. I agreed.
The morning of the 1st I woke up feeling refreshed, with my soft and cuddly coimelin sleeping peacefully beside me. She looked peaceful, too, with her eyes closed and her curly hair splayed everywhere. I smiled as I rose out of bed to take a shower. I must have been in the shower for some time, because as I was rinsing my hair Nyss came in and said "When you get out, I have something very important to show you." Her voice was neither joking nor panicked, and I wondered what it was.
When I got out and had a robe on, she came out and hugged me close. "What's wrong?" I asked
"Look." She pointed at the telemetry screen being "reflected" in my bedroom mirror. There was a long string of numbers and some chemical formulae on the screen, the conclusions for which were displayed underneath:
"O.B. Monitor, Day 6. Secondary release of ovum and protracted survival of sperm have contributed to second successful fertilization and data collected indicates implantation still possible.
I read the message twice. Then I read it again. "Does this mean you're going to have two?" I asked.
She looked a little worried. If her species had fingernails, I think she'd have been biting them. "It means I might."
"If implantation occurs, and if we take no action."
"Do we know what sex it'll be?" I asked.
She bent over the keyboard and typed, after the "Action?" prompt, "Determine sex."
The reply shot back instantly: "Not possible at this time. Blast formation still in process. Action?"
"Oh, well," I said. I turned to her and said, "What do you want?"
"I don't know. I certainly want a child, but twins? I've never had twins before." She looked a little lost to me.
"You've also never had a boy before. What if it's another boy?"
She looked up in panic, saying "Do you think that's possible?"
"Fifty-fifty chance, and you know it."
She nodded. She leaned over the keyboard and typed, "Estimate time until sex determination possible."
"Sex determination possible in 6.25 +- 0.50 hours. Action?"
"If it's a girl, do you want to go ahead with her and not the boy?"
I turned back to her and said, "I've always been better with the girls than boys during 'sittings. I don't know. Personally, I think twins is a perfect challenge."
She smiled. "Let's wait until seven. We'll know then. The party starts at 1 Lome'."
Needless to say, by the time seven rolled around I was a basketcase, ready for the men in white coats. Nyss came in five minutes early and typed on the living room terminal the startup code for telemetry access to the obstetrics-nanos in her womb. They responded quickly, replying "Sex determination: female. Implantation: positive. Identified as '2.'"
"That's it, then," I said. "We're going to have twins, and it's going to be boy-girl."
"Is that it?" she asked. "Or would you rather we undo the first one?"
I though about it for a long time, in terms of the problems with twins and the joys of boys and girls and all that. "It's not my decision to make, sweetheart, but I think having two is great."
"Then we'll have two," she said with a big smile. "I still never raised a boy before."
"Then we'll have something new to do. Dave, please leave mail with Rael telling him to call us a soon as possible, but preferably before 1 Lome', as I'll be busy then."
"Of course. Nyss, may I give you something?"
"Uhm, sure, what?"
"This." There was a shimmer on the coffee table, and a blue ball about 15cm across appeared.
P'nyssa crossed the room and picked it up. "What is it? It's heavy."
"Please be careful with it. Inside is an accompanying pink rabbit with an internal gas container to fill it. Drop it at the party to announce your good fortune."
P'nyssa smiled the widest smile I'd seen since the beginning of this whole venture and said, "Dave, the day you go meat I'm going to ravish you."
"You are always making promises, P'nyssa. Just make sure you can keep them."
"Oh I am, Dave, I am."
"Then I guess I have something to look forward to," he said. "Kenneth, Guinness says Rael can take his message immediately."
"Then give me a visual." A two-dimensional image of Rael and Dagmar hovered in the air, solid-looking. "Hiya, Rael."
"Hello, Ken. How are things? No complications, I assume, or this would have been more urgent."
"No... No complications, as such."
"I hear a 'but' in the background."
P'nyssa answered. "Uhm... Yeah. You're more fertile than you let on, you old bastard. I'm going to have twins!"
"What? You're kidding?"
"I am not! One boy and one girl. Seems I had two ready to fire, one four days after the other."
"That's... not possible. I would have thought conditions in the womb made latter-day implantations difficult."
"Difficult, but not impossible. Apparently you have some tenacious sperm."
"Well, then, that's wonderful! Congratulations to you both. I assume you're going to have a party?"
"Tonight," I said. "You can come if you want. I saw those turbine skybikes you have; you could make it here in less than an hour, if you flew out to your SDisk."
"Nah... Those things are for young folks, like you two." Rael, I'm older than you by a long shot! You just like to be thought of as wise and mature, but it doesn't work. Does it? "In any event, Dagmar and I will just stay at home and toast your good fortune."
"Okay, Rael," I said. "Nyss?"
"Rael," she said. "You know, I never did say this while I was there, but you are such an understanding male, I love you."
"Ah, hell, I love you too, P'nyssa. You take care of him, though," he replied, pointing at me. "He looks like he'll need all the help he can get!"
"Good-bye, Rael," P'nyssa said with a hint of exasperation.
"Good-bye, Nyss." The image faded.
"That was nice of him to wish us well like that," I said. "Codgy old bastard, anyway." I looked up at the roof again. Why I do that, I don't know. But I feel like I've got to address something when I'm talking to Dave. "Dave, who is invited to the party?"
"Everybody currently living in Castle Shardik. Kitty, Rhys, Oenone, Kurt, the Reeds, all of your kids, Nyss, including not a few grandchildren, Brieanna, Ian, Magnus, Wendy, Teena, Kris..."
"Okay, I get the picture. But not Miss Melody, I assume."
"No. Miss Melody will not be invited. Nor will C'Mish or Randall be invited. No media at all. If it is necessary, I will dispatch Hookers into the air."
"Hopefully, none of them will have the brains to find a pilot and get a ship with no AI telemetry. Still, if any of them do, a few Hooks might not be a bad idea. How's the weather?"
"Very cold, as you'd expect."
"Cold caused by blanking, I expect."
"Yes." You see, blanking is the phenomenon whereby clear nights are the coldest; what little heat the Ring traps is not held in place by an insulating layer of cloud cover.
"Well, at least it'll be pretty. I assume you've cleared out the fifth floor and cleared the windows."
"Yes. And we are above the ridgeline. The view is beautiful."
The next seven hours I spent very lazily with Nyss. We actually played a few games of backgammon, she killed me in a round of Pyramid (she always does), did crosswords in languages we did not know and generally had the kind of good time two people who lived together for a long time have when they're not having sex.
At 14 Arie' I went downstairs to find Ress and Ember stringing up decorations and making preparations. Carroll was in the Castle's main kitchen whipping up something for dinner... Carroll is a damn fine cook, and when she cooks for several dozen she always makes the one thing of hers that I absolutely adore: her onion soup. My mouth watered at the mere thought. But I merely breezed through the kitchen, giving her a playful kiss on her centaur buttocks as I passed by. She nearly kicked me, but then she always nearly kicks me. She's never hit me once in her entire life. I have been whipped by her tail across the face before, though.
Paul was helping load three large wooden kegs up onto a grav sled, and who should be there but Kurt, an old friend who made it through The Great Hall intact. It was probably fated anyway; He's one of the century originals for the Tindal genecode.
"Three kegs?" I asked.
"Take a look," Kurt said. I looked down at the three. One was lettered in Greek, and said "Michael's Homebrew." Oh, no. That's stuff's GOOD. The second said "Kitt," in Uncia. Great, the neutron bomb of Pendor Ale. And finally, the third had a small handwritten letter that said, "Sorry, but I can't make it. Piot thought you might like this, though; it came from the vineyards eight years ago. Kitty Moran."
"That's sweet of her, sending over some original Backwater stuff," I said. "But that other stuff... Are you sure it's safe to have that stuff loose in that room?" I asked, gesturing widely out the door.
"Sounds like a good time," Kurt said. "Besides, Kris won't be drinking any either."
That clicked. "Kris is pregnant?"
"Yeah," Kurt said, blushing slightly.
"YOU?" I asked.
He nodded. "You introduced us."
"That was fifty years ago!"
"Sometimes things take a while," he said, shrugging.
"I gotta hear this story from her."
"She'll be here. In fact, she's probably up at the aquarium right now, if you're interested," Kurt said, pointing a finger up.
"Later," I said. I bid them good day and departed.
Parties, especially parties at my house, tend to be raucous affairs full of loud music, noisy guests, the occasional drunken argument, the occasional broken heart. It's one of the main reasons why I don't drink in large groups anymore; when that many people get together and get inebriated, somebody has to stay calm and sober.
There isn't much to report on the party. It was loud. It was raucous. Mostly there are snapshots that stay in my mind. Like the time when P'nyssa went up to the front of the room and said, "Excuse me, excuse me. I am the guest of honor here, right?" There was a loud agreement. "I... Uhm, I have an announcement. You see that big dead blue bunny there? Well, watch this." Saying that, she took the blue ball and threw it on the floor. There was dead silence except for the comical sound of latex rubbing latex as the giant pink dead bunny inflated. After a few seconds P'nyssa said, "What do you think?"
Carroll was standing next to her and said, quietly (thank you, Dave, for the shotgun-mike job), "You're going to have TWO?"
"Uh-huh. A boy and a girl."
"Well, then," she said, regaining her composure, "Let's all... I don't know what to say."
"How about, we turn the music back on and make more noise!?" I heard from the back of the room. Sounded good to me, I 'pathed to Dave, make it so. The music poured forth, loud and danceable.
Or when Paul cornered me and said "Ken, I have to apologize for something."
"I gave you bad advice about ten years ago."
"What advice was that?"
"I told you that nobody would give a damn if you went and had children of your own. Apparently every AI in the world agreed with me. Well, the people do not."
"Who is 'The people?'"
"There's a small minority, very small, but they're being stoked by the newspeople you've been keeping out, that claims that you're turning your back on them."
"Paul... Fuck them. If they're not mature enough to handle the universe without me, that's their tough luck. I've got more important things to do."
"It could get ugly. AI's don't have the power to intercept bullets in flight, Ken."
"Are you suggesting they could be angry enough to want to kill God?" I said, assuming a mantle that belonged on the mantelpiece.
"Yes," he said, smiling. He knows as much as I do just how human I am. "You depend on AI's too much, Ken. It's a major weakness of yours, and we both know it. We all depend on AI's too much, except for the fringers. Most of us accept the luxury of AI's without too much question. You have a tendency to walk in the wilderness, Ken, and you're a tempting target." I debated, just for a moment, telling Paul the truth about the AIs. Now was not the time.
"So what do you suggest?"
"We both know what isn't going to happen, so let's concentrate on the possibilities, shall we? Your best bet is to write one of your classic editorials."
"That's not going to convince the minority."
"It might help."
"Yeah, it might. It might also get me into a lot of trouble, seeing as I'll probably get angry during the course of the writing and start getting vitriolic, and you know how bad that can get."
"Your pen is pretty nasty, Ken, I'll admit that. Other than that, live with it."
"That's my only option."
Or, when Brieanna cornered me. "Congratulations," she said.
"Thank you. I'm sorry I didn't tell you before today."
"Perfectly all right. You've your own life to live, Ken. The time you spent with me was... important to you, but you've adjusted now."
"Was it important to you?" I asked her.
She smiled a small, weak smile, the kind that suggested what she really wanted to do was... cry?... and she said "Yeah, it was important to me, but it's more important to me that I see you happy. Oh, speaking of which, I still have your old Shirow, do you want me to keep it in the garage?"
"May as well. Best piece of powered armor I ever owned." She smiled at that, and I did too. Damned thing tried to kill me. Broke a few ribs, at least.
I managed to corner Kris, and all she would tell me was that the child was to be male, that he was coming in five months (I couldn't see a thing, and she's thin now, which is a change from her pre-Hall days), and that they'd already settled on a name: Scott Christopher. I quickly ruled those two out of my namebook.
I managed to corner Dick, who informed that, yes, Rachel was indeed pregnant again herself, but then that was no surprise. Rachel had been pregnant every day I'd ever known her. In the 140 year's I'd known Rachel, she had had 131 children. No, don't ask me how or why. That's hers to know.
Kimmemac showed up at the party, and for that I was grateful. Kim is positively the finest baby-sitter I know, and she's a completely controlled wetnurse, too. She agreed to help on some nights.
Oenone did not attend. And for that, I was not surprised, upset, or disappointed. Oenone does not attend public events. Especially ones involving love or family. It has not been long enough for her. But I missed her, nonetheless.
P'nyssa and I finally retired to our bedroom. It was well into the night, about twelve, when we finally got to bed. Twelve since dusk, that is, as we reckon time, and therefore well past our usual bedtimes. We were positively giddy, I think, hugging and kissing and laughing, and even though the lids of my eyes were drooping down and threatening to close, I felt not at all like going to sleep.
P'nyssa agreed with me, and we stripped off our clothing and descended to the bedroom and hopped into bed, without much in the way of preliminaries.
"I love you, Nyss. Have a good time?"
"The best. Although I'm starting to wonder what kind of disaster the baby shower is going to be like."
"I don't know," I said, reaching down to stroke the soft triangle between her legs. She moaned appreciatively and said, "Don't. I thought you were tired."
"I'm not sleepy," I said, leaning over and kissing her cunt gently.
She moaned and said, "Good, because I'm not either, and I could use a good wearing out."
I smiled and parted her legs, licking her gently. At this point in our relationship, I knew exactly what she wanted, or at least I thought I did, licking her soft cunt and playing with her labia gently between my teeth. She squirmed in response.
But there was something fundamentally different about our little lovemaking ritual; the knowledge that somewhere inside her were a boy and a girl who would be ours soon enough. It felt odd, and, come to think of it, her sweet juices were different today; a little finer, clearer, more like wine than honey, and I lapped at them joyfully. She groaned and accused me of teasing her by not licking her clit directly. I hadn't realized I'd turned that much attention to her vagina itself, and returned, reluctantly, to her clitoris, and licked her with all the skill I could muster. She responded wonderfully, and I switched back and forth between long, deep strokes up her slit and careful licking of her pink and enlarged clitoris. I was in heaven. I love eating her. I kept licking her, and she begged me to go a little harder. I obliged, and pushed until my jaw ached and the tip of my tongue was numb when she finally came, gasping one quiet "Oh!" as she did.
I crawled up to lay beside her and cuddle her close. Instead, she rose and said "Turn over."
"On my stomach?"
"Uh-huh. Just like that," as I obeyed her command. She straddled my thighs and began to rub my shoulders.
"Shouldn't I be doing this for you?"
"I'm going to owe you a few before this is all over, Ken. May as well try and get caught up on it now," she said. "Besides, there's something special I want to try on you tonight. Something you mentioned to me a long time ago."
"And what's that?" I said, wracking my brains for all the kinky things I'd told her I liked in the past.
"Oh, you'll find out soon enough. Lift your hips up a little." I did so, and she arranged my penis so it stuck straight down the bed, an uncomfortable angle if I got an erection. But she continued to rub my back for a while, easing down until she reached my ass, which she also rubbed carefully and methodically. I felt both of her hands leave me, and she shifted back a bit, moving further down my legs, giving her better access to my ass and to cock.
That's when I heard the sharp snap, like a pencil being broken. "What was that?"
"Shhh..." she said. I was both tense and relaxed, and I worried about what she was about to try. I don't know why, she's always so good at predicting me. I then felt her mitten touch my buttock and spread something warm on them, warm and smooth and slightly sticky. Oil? No, common sense said she was about to try something sexual. Lubricant, then... She was about to slide something in side me.
"I thought you didn't like..."
"I told you to hush," she said gently. "I thought you might like this." I felt her slowly smooth the jelly between my cheeks and into the tight wrinkles around my asshole. I groaned with appreciation; I am so sensitive back there, and Nyss knows it, but she's reluctant to indulge in assplay. She's never been able to express why, and she probably wouldn't be able to tell me why tonight was different.
I felt her other mitten come down on my ass and spread the jelly as well. That mitt slid between the cheeks of my ass and I felt its main pad slide by my anus, but her thumb stopped and she slowly pressed it against my hole. I groaned and joyfully let her; her thumb sank into my body with a satisfying slide. Tindals don't have hands like most hominids; they have mittens, as flexible as tongues, and just as strong, with opposable thumbs that are also all muscle. I felt her flex her thumb inside me, stirring it about. I realized what the snapping sound had been; she'd been pulling on a glove so as to protect her fur.
I wanted to turn around and watch, but she had told me to lie still and take it, and I accepted that. I felt her other mitt slide between my cheeks and her other thumb probed my butt next to the first. Both? I thought to myself. She began to press the other thumb into me, and I tried to relax, to take it into my ass. Slowly she eased it into me, and I felt wonderfully full. I wished idly that she had more fingers.
"Be careful what you wish for," she said, reading my thoughts. "You might get it." I wondered at that, but at the moment I felt so wonderfully good that it didn't bother me. She began to move both thumbs gently, and it felt so good. Hurt just a little, and that just added to the pleasure. I heard her giggle.
Slowly, she removed first one thumb, and then the other. I groaned, feeling cheated, but she said "Just wait." I lay there, panting with the buildup of pleasure that her playing had made inside me. I felt her mitten touch my ass again, and she touched my anus with her large pad. I could tell, from the feeling against my buttocks, that she was using one mitt to steady the other, and she pressed. She had curled the one mitt onto as tight a roll as she could, and she was trying to slide the entire mitten into me. When I realized this, I closed my eyes and tried to relax. I knew there were people who did this regularly as part of their sex, the taking of hands, but I had not done this myself for almost a century. I wondered if I could take it; I wanted it, though. P'nyssa plays with my ass so rarely, and I love her so much, that any time she's willing I'm just putty in her mitts. She pressed, and my asshole gave way. She slid in a little of her mitt when my anus spasmed sharply and painfully, tightening around her hand. It relaxed just as quickly. She waited, and I heard her breathing quietly. She pressed a little harder, and I could feel her mitten slide into me. I felt my asshole expand as the large terminus muscle at the back of her mitten spread my butt to it's very widest, and I felt a sharp and very enjoyable pain as it slid past. Then I felt my butt close about her wrist.
We stopped. Everything stopped. We were connected at her wrist, and I felt... at peace. There was a long pause of silence.
"Ken?" P'nyssa said.
"Hmmm?" I said, dreamily.
"Are you okay?" She sounded worried.
"Oh, I'm better than okay." I said.
"Can you turn over?"
Sure I can, I thought. I carefully turned to my left, and with her free hand she guided my leg over her ten, rotating her curled mitt inside my ass as I turned. It felt neat. I can't explain it.
"P'nyssa?" I asked
"Did you slip something in my drink? I feel weird."
"No, nobody drugged you."
"Okay," I said with a big smile. I felt her mitten wriggle inside my rectum, and I panted with surprise pleasure. I felt it unfold, and slowly she rolled it in the opposite direction. I was intently aware of every move she made inside me, and it was a fascinating sensation. I gasped, and felt more pleasure, almost liquid pleasure, roll into my brain. She bent over and took my soft cock into her mouth.
This I responded to normally. I felt my cock getting erect, and I could feel her wonderful wet mouth surround me and stroke me. But she had rolled her mitt for volume, into the best a Tindal can manage for a fist, and she was twisting it gently, carefully, inside my body. It felt so good I was going to scream, and she began to pump her fist inside my guts, pulling against the tight resistance of my anus, then filling my rectum with her mitt, never pressing too far in, never ever giving me a cramping sensation, just turning and twisting until I was shuddering in sheer joy as she sucked and nursed my cock closer and closer to an orgasm I knew was completely under her control, and just as inevitable. She stroked and she pumped, and as my need crested she rolled her mitt back and pulled it out just as suddenly as I came, screaming and shooting my semen down her warm and suckling throat. I felt like the stream would never end and I felt like I had just lost something important, some part of me had just left me, and I knew I wasn't going to stay...
...conscious. I opened my eyes to find that the lights had been dimmed even further. P'nyssa was lying next to me, watching me. "Are you okay?" was the first thing she asked.
"Am I okay?" I said, unbelieving. "I'm... I'm stunned. What was that all about, anyway?"
"I was reading this book I found in your collection," she said, point out to me an old paperback called "Urban Aboriginals," by Geoff Mains. "And you talked about stuff like that a long time ago."
"But you never did anything like that before," I said.
"Oh, I know. But I knew you liked it. And I wanted you to see what it felt like..."
"What it's going to be like for me to have something other than myself inside me, kicking."
"Thanks for the reminder. And at least you didn't 'kick' me. That was wonderful. Let's not do it again soon, though."
She smiled. "No, I didn't 'kick' you. It's not quite the same thing, anyway. The womb's a lot tougher than you give it credit for. I just wanted to try. Besides, I was feeling you telepathically during the whole thing. You're responses were quite... interesting. I've always known you were something of an anal sex fetishist, but I didn't realize it ran so deep."
I shrugged. "It's a part of me I haven't isolated yet, either. But thank you."
"Feel tired now?" she asked.
"Very. And you?"
"Yeah, I think I'm ready for sleep, too."
"G'night, Ken. I love you," she said, in a pretty singsong.
"I love you too."