David turned over slowly in bed and looked down on the beautiful fem who slept beside him. He had awakened up moments ago in a strange bedroom and wondered how he had gotten here. Then, his mind had reoriented itself and he had remembered.
It occurred to him suddenly, did Patricia know? This was her room as well as Dennielle's. He wondered if she had come in here, found them sleeping together, and backed out quietly. Looking at his watch, he realized that it was her turn to pull a stint on the bridge, and she was probably still up there. He eased himself out of bed; Denni began to stir, but didn't wake. He smiled, replaced the covers as he had found them, and made his way out. The corridors were dark, indicating a late shift, but as he passed by the motion sensors lights came on quickly, giving him a good view of the squarish, boxy halls inside the Asking.
"Captain on the Bridge," he said jokingly as the door to the bridge opened and allowed him on. Pat turned from her chair, the one on the right, and waved. "You're up early."
"Yeah," he sighed, grabbing a mug of coffee from the wall-mounted dispensing station and then easing himself into the pilot's chair. "Pat, how long have we known each other?"
"Almost two years, David. You picked me up as a junior engineer, remember?"
"Think you're qualified to be senior engineer soon?" He smiled as he said it, giving her a glance out of the corner of her eye. Her expression was understandably surprised and pleased.
"Of course!" she said. "Well, I mean, that is, if you think I am. I mean, if you have an opening for senior engineer and need one. I'm never going to go anywhere big without your qualifications, David, you know that."
He nodded, sipping coffee thoughtfully. "I think there are three possible futures. You're not to not mention this to the rest of the crew, understood? Future one is that Dennielle leaves, and you move into the senior engineering post for the Asking. I think you're ready, despite my misgivings a month ago when we first hired her. Between you and me we should be able to keep this old girl running." He tapped the arm of the pilot's chair with his fist. He had first been tempted to stroke the command console, but he remembered that Tasha never locked it out for reasons that had finally become clear to David when the pirates had attacked them three weeks ago. "Future two is Denni stays for a while as chief engineer and you go on being my second of engineering and chief of accounting, two jobs you seem to be handling very well." Pat nodded. "Future three is Dennielle stays, becomes chief of accounting and second in command. She's got all the qualifications, Pat, and... I think I'm going to ask her to marry me."
Pat's eyes looked as if they were about to get pushed out from behind with surprise. "David?"
"No, listen. I don't know what she'll say. But I really do believe in love at first sight, Pat. I fell in love with the Asking that fast," he said, emphasizing his opinion by snapping his fingers. "And I think I've fallen for Denni the same way. I want her, Pat, I really do." He sighed. "I wish I understood it."
"What about her? What will she say?"
"Like I said, I don't know. All I know is that I plan on asking her and seeing what her reply is going to be."
"It's a little early, David, to be making these kinds of decisions."
"Oh, who cares, Pat?" he asked, annoyed. "Remember that I'm the sort of person who knows exactly what he wants and how to get it?"
"While being nice about it," Pat added, smiling. "David, you do what you feel is necessary."
David nodded, sipping his coffee. Outside the window port, the star of llerkin loomed large and inviting.
Late into second shift, David found himself picking up his bedroom; her realized what he was attempting to accomplish, debated the hopelessness of the situation, and continued anyway. About halfway through folding his "clean" laundry, he realized that he didn't even know where the vacuum cleaner was onboard. He toggled the intercom. "Pat, Marder, do you know where the vacuum is?"
"Uh, outside?" Marder offered, his voice sounding tinny through the little speaker.
"Men," Patricia breathed. "It's in the maintenance closet between mine and Chico's cabins, David. It might need a new filter bag."
"Thanks, Pat." He toggled the intercom off again and wandered down the hallway, finding the space Pat had indicated and pulling the small unit out of the closet. A thousand years hadn't altered the face of housecleaning all that much, and David soon found himself listening to the soft hiss of air as he vacuumed the carpeting clean.
His room dusted and organized, he soon fell to the even more complicated task of preparing dinner for two. Within ten minutes, he was soon lost on the incredible complexities in the difference between roasting and broiling, flipping back and forth between the glossary and the recipe. Finally he gave up. "Pat, are you free?"
"I can be, David. There's not much to do down here."
"Good. Could you join me in my cabin? I need help with something."
"Can I ask what?"
"It's... difficult to explain. Just come up here."
"What is it, David?" Patricia asked as she walked through the door. She looked into the kitchen, saw him frantically flipping through a screen, and said "Oh."
"I need help. What's the difference between roasting and broiling?"
She laughed. "Okay, let me show you..."
"I thought your room was a mess."
"It was," David replied, taking a sip of wine he really didn't feel like drinking. "At least, it was until a few hours ago." David glanced across the table at the femMephit he had invited in here. They had had one night in bed together, and already he was sure he wanted to have her for the rest of his life. These were not the feelings of a sane person, but then David had never heard of anyone who referred to love as the epitome of sanity.
Denni nodded, sipping from her glass as well. "So what's all this about?"
David leaned back in his chair, took another deep breath. "Denni, I'm a rat who's always known what he wants and how to get it. And what I always wanted was to be a commercial starship owner-operator." He chuckled slightly. "Of course, when I was little I didn't know it was called that. I just wanted to be in space. I'm not enjoying this wine. I don't drink wine."
Denni giggled. "Me neither."
"There's milk in the cooler." Denni rose and retrieved the glass pitcher of what appeared to be milk (although it was probably as artificial as everything else onboard) and poured two glasses, one for each of them. "So."
David drank for a second. "Better. So... Denni, I don't know how to say this, really, but I think I need a change in my life. I've been doing this shipping thing for forty years now, I think I've got the score figured out." He paused. "I want you."
Denni stopped, her glass still to her muzzle. She put it down, said "What do you mean?"
"Denni, I don't know what you know of Terran customs, but... would you marry me?"
"I mean it."
"You hardly know me!"
"So? Don't you believe in love at first sight?"
"Yes, but not for..." She looked at him. "You felt it, too, huh?"
She shook her head. "I don't know... When we were in your office and I was giving you that rub, right before the fire, I felt something pass between us, like a ghost or something. I guess..."
It was her turn to take that deep breath. "David, I accept."
"Just like that?"
"Just like that," she said, snapping her fingers. David recognized the gesture as exactly like the one he had given Patricia that morning, and laughed gently. "What?"
"I said that about my ship the morning. I knew I wanted the Asking, just like that." He snapped his fingers.
She smiled. "But yes, just like that. You didn't think I would accept, did you?"
"Honestly?" David asked. "No, I didn't."
"So why did you ask?"
"I don't know," he said. "I told Patricia that I was going to, I guess I had to go through with it once I'd announced it. So why did you accept?"
"Because I'm selfish." She grinned across the table at him. "I want the stars; now that I know that I want the stars, I need a way of getting there. You're the best way I can think of."
She rose from her chair and walked around the table, kneeling down on the floor beside his. "No, that's not 'it.' Because I do believe in love at first sight. And I think it happened to us. But we don't have marriage ceremonies on Pendor."
"So?" David asked. "We have them on Earth. My parents would probably insist on it."
"But... " She let her voice trail off. "This is one of those 'for life' things, isn't it?"
David nodded. "That's what marriage is supposed to be. So few people get married nowadays. Contracts are for children and lovers are just to be discarded when you get bored with them."
"I won't ever get bored with you," Denni said.
"I don't think I could ever get bored of you, either," David said. "I love you, Dennielle."
"I love you, too, David." She stood up slowly. "Finished with dinner?"
"Yes, I think so."
"Good," Denni giggled. "Come with me, then." David stood, and she led him into his bedroom, closing the door behind them. She pulled him close, and David was again stunned by how tall she was, especially compared to him. "I figured that after such a big meal we should work some of the excess calories off. What do you think?"
David looked up at her and smiled. Without a word, he reached up and slowly pulled down the zipper on her jumpsuit, letting her large, fur-covered breasts tumble out into his hands. She giggled. "You like those, don't you?"
"I admit, I do," he said, kissing one right above the nipple. "It's not what makes me love you, though." His muzzle traced down the curve, kissing the underside; at least there he didn't have to stand on the tips of his toes. He slowly pushed her backwards, until the bed struck her in the knees and she fell to the bed with a "Whoops!"
He pulled the zipper the rest of the way down, exposing the deep black skunk's fur that covered her tummy. She helped, and together they pulled the top half of the jumpsuit down until it was lying on the bed behind her.
Dennielle smiled. "Your turn." She reached up and tugged at his zipper, and in seconds she had his down about his ankles. His cock, already erect, popped up. "I thought you didn't insist on salutes on this ship," she giggled.
He laughed and pushed her back to lie on the bed, crawling over her body as he did so. "I don't." His muzzle pressed against hers, their tongues touching and pressing. David's heart pounded in his chest; he felt so... so lucky! So lucky to be here, to have her. His cock pressed against her belly, and he felt her hands reach down to encircle it. His kisses roamed wider, kissing her cheeks and the underside of her muzzle as he left a trail down her body towards her full breasts. "You're so beautiful-- Don't argue!" he said, cutting off the "I'm not beautiful, I'm fat," line he had heard from her twice already.
She giggled. "Yes, SIR!" David laughed as he slid off the bed, grabbing the bottoms of her jumpsuit and tugging. She pushed her hips up off the bed and he slid her pants off, tossing them aside. The sight of her made him take a deep breath and then let it out with a strong, satisfied sigh. "You are beautiful."
She reached up with one hand for his wrist. He took her hand in one of his and tumbled onto the bed with her. They rolled over until she was on top of him, and he felt her bend her knees and pull them under herself until she was kneeling above him. "I think you're the one who's beautiful." She reached back and positioned his erection, settling down on top of his cock until her buttocks met his hips.
He sighed and reached up to stroke her breasts. "I don't understand this."
"I don't either," she said, slowly stroking up and down on his erection. He closed his eyes and felt her lips grabbing his cock, holding him deep inside her body. "But I know what I want. You said you know what you want, well I do too. You want me. I want you."
David nodded, pushing his hips up with every stroke. Their bodies met in synch. He wanted her to go faster, but she only moved slowly, to her own beat, in her own time. She never sped up, never slowed down. He felt the walls of her cunt sliding past the head of his cock; his body began trembling as his immanent climax never came any closer, never seemed to come under control. He had always felt that he had some control even over his orgasm, but instead he was left only to look into Denni's eyes as she stared down at him, her muzzle hanging open, her tongue hanging out as she caressed his cock with her insides, gripping his manhood. She held his arms down at his sides as her body stroked slowly, agonizingly slowly, over his erection.
"I know," she smiled. "I can see it in your face." She sped up just a little, and he felt his climax suddenly rise; his balls felt like they were swelling, his cock became even harder, and suddenly he exploded inside her, thrashing his legs and his head in bed, coming deep inside her cunt. "Oh, Denni!" he moaned.
She smiled down at him. "There, was that worth it?"
"Oh, yes, that was worth it," he sighed. "Very much so. So, will you marry me?"
She giggled. "Set course for Earth, hon, and I'll marry you tomorrow."
"First we have to go to Pendor. I have to get Aaden's permiss... Oh, crap. I have to ask your father, don't I? Aaden Satpulov. That means I have to get into Shardik Castle."
"It can be done," she smiled. "I'm family, remember?"
"I remember," he said. "Just took me a while." He reached up and toppled her over onto the bed again, snuggling her close. "I'll talk to Tasha tomorrow about plotting a course. We're over a month from Pendor right now, and another week to Terra."
She nodded; he felt her muzzle move in the crook of his shoulder, her breath blowing over his neckfur. He stroked her head slowly with his hand. "I love you."