Garth nudged him in his seat. "You're quiet."
Nickolai raised his hands above his head and stretched, testing the limits of his seatbelt in the process. "Yeah. Just thinkin'."
"About the match tonight, or something else?"
Nickolai smiled at his Katckin friend. "Something else."
"Yeah. His expression was abashed, but he knew Garth would press him for details. And he did want to talk about it.
Garth knew the routine, too. "Well?" he asked.
Nickolai smiled. "Well, you know. I received a letter from her yesterday. She's back in school now. Her parents promised they were going to hang around Pendor for a while, but it looks like her dad is already looking for someplace to fly off to. She was SDisking it from home, but she decided she wanted to be part of the local university, so she moved onto the grounds. She has a roommate, a female Marten variant with 'redgold' fur and a white spot along here," he said, gesturing down the front of his chest.
"What's a Marten?"
"Kind of a weasel," Nickolai said. "Part of the Mustela species. She's even shorter than Furry." He smiled at Garth. "She said they like taking showers together."
"Geez," Garth interrupted, shifting slightly in his seat. "Are all Pendorians really as sex obsessed as they say, or did you get lucky and hit one that likes the stereotype?"
"They're not sex obsessed," Nickolai replied. "You are. Just 'cause they're both so small that taking a shower together is comfortable for them doesn't mean you should go assuming they're sleeping together."
"Well, are they?" Garth asked, his fuzzed Katckin voice edged with testosterone-laced curiosity.
Nickolai nodded. "Sometimes. It worries me, though. Furry thinks Kiza is getting too close to her. In her last letter she said she had attached herself to her." Nickolai grimaced. "God, talking about two people of the same sex can be tough."
"From what you've talked about, Furry's a smart girl," Garth said again. "I think she'll be okay. What else?"
"Like what, what else?"
"Like, what's she studying?"
"Oh," Nickolai replied. "She's studying to be an archeologist... she likes what her dad does for a living. She wants to follow in his footsteps. She's taking a lot of xenolinguistics this quarter..."
"Yeah," Nickolai agreed. He settled back into his chair, watching the landscape slide by under the airbus. Still several hours away from Entrane' in France, Nickolai let his mind drift several times over the more common feints and parries that he would require in the two days to come.
A while later, he said, "Garth?"
"Tell me again how you convinced me to do this."
"Easy, Kolya. You were a wretched wreck when you returned to school, and I turned you into a model citizen by forcing you to do something other than go to classes and moon over your girlfriend seven light years away."
Nickolai laughed. "I'm not that bad."
"No, but you were, Kolya, you were. Never mind that half the school is envious of you... forget that I'm envious of you. For a while there, you were off in never-never land, sighing that you couldn't reach her and only got to talk to her once a month or so by mail. You're a lousy letter writer, you've said so yourself."
Nickolai sighed. "I know. I can't help that I miss her."
"I must say that your devotion to her is phenomenal, Nickolai. I've never seen you like this before. What happened to the casual Kolya?"
"A lie," Nickolai admitted. "I was never 'casual,' Garth. Just good at hiding how badly I was shaking."
"Well you did a good job hiding it from me," Garth admitted.
"That's the point, isn't it?" Nickolai asked. "Gotta convince even my closest friends that I really am as cool as I appear to be."
Garth laughed. "So you're admitting you're not cool?"
"I didn't say that," Nickolai countered. "Just saying that, no matter how cool I am I can't afford to not look cool."
"Sure," Garth said. He changed the subject. "I'm going to get a soda. Y'want one?"
"Sure," Nickolai nodded.
When Garth returned, he handed Nickolai the can. Ever suspicious of his roommate's practical jokes, Nickolai opened the can, and, when he was satisfied that Garth hadn't shook up the can so as to explode, drank down about half of it. "Thanks."
"No problem," Garth said with a wave of his hand. "This, uh, this Marten girl... what's her name?"
"Kiza. I don't think it's short for anything."
"What do you know about her?"
"Not a thing, other than that Furry likes her a lot, that she's curious about this human who's stolen her roommate's heart, and that she's stuck on Furry."
"They do that on Pendor," Garth observed.
"Get too serious."
"You're just jealous."
"Of course I'm jealous!" Garth replied. "I've been telling you that all along."
"Look," said a new voice. Nickolai and Garth both looked up to find another member of the Redbridge Fencing Team, Josef, leaning over their chairs. "If you two are going to talk about sex, either keep it down so I can't hear it, or include me in on the conversation."
"Include yourself," Garth replied, pointing to the chair across the aisle. Josef took the hint and moved from his current seat to the one indicated. "So, what are you guys talking about?"
"Kolya's girlfriend has a girlfriend," Garth said.
"She's not her girlfriend," Nickolai protested. "She's her roommate."
"But they are sleeping together, right?" Garth said.
"Then they're girlfriends," he observed. "Woah, wait, Kolya. I'm not trying to insult you or tell you that she doesn't love you. From the letter's you've shown me before, it's pretty clear that she does. But she's still lonely out there, and maybe her own hand's aren't enough."
Nickolai leaned over and whispered into Garth's sensitive, moreso even than human, ear. "I know that," he whispered. "That's not the problem. I just don't want Josef Pervert Foster over there whacking off tonight thinking about my coimelin !"
Garth turned and regarded Nickolai. "Are you sure you want to use that word?"
"No," Nickolai admitted. "But there's nothing else I can use. Nothing I feel right using."
Garth nodded. "Gotcha. Go easy when you see her in person."
"What are you guys whispering about?" Josef asked.
"You," Garth replied, grinning.
"Ohhh, I see," Josef replied. "You guys don't want me around."
"Now wait a second, Josef," Nickolai said. "Have we ever told you to 'get lost?' Ever? Sit down."
Josef, who hadn't really begun to rise in his seat at all anyway, smiled and settled against the backrest. "So, what's the deal?"
"The 'deal,'" Nickolai replied, "Is that apparently Furry was getting a little lonely, and she and her roommate started taking showers together. It got cold one night in their apartment, so they slept cuddled up next to each other."
"Chill," Josef said. "What else?"
"Nothing else, Josef," Nickolai replied. "They're not having sex or anything like that. They're just sharing a bed to stay warm and because they like it."
"Be truthful," Josef said. "They're fucking each other silly, right?"
"Nope," Nickolai said. "Sorry to burst your bubble, Josef, but they aren't."
"Oh, well. They don't know what they're missing."
"Oh, I'm sure they do know," Garth said. "They're just not interested in trying it out. Tell me, Josef, if someone offered you Hazm would take it?"
"Hell, yes," Josef said.
"Figures," Garth muttered. "How about Hazm prior to six years ago?"
"That's different," Josef said. "Hazm was laced with the SANS agent. I'd rather not."
"But you're still willing to try it, no matter how addictive it is?"
"Fuck it," Josef said. "What do I care?"
"Well, I care. That's why I won't do it," Garth said.
"That has nothing to do with Nickolai's girlfriend and her playmate fucking each other blind."
"Sure it does," Garth said. "They're not interested for their own reasons. Maybe they don't want to have sex with each other. Maybe it would strain their rooming together. Who knows? The fact is, they aren't having sex with one another, and it's none of your business if they are."
Josef sighed at the short lecture. "Okay, okay," he said. "So, do you think we'll win tomorrow's match?"
"Don't see why not," Garth replied cheerfully. "I mean, sure, Entrane's got a great reputation and a solid team, but hey, so do we. We're going to win tomorrow."
"Damn straight," a voice grumbled from the chair behind them. Coach Seigal leaned forward in his chair. "Don't any of you doubt that for a second. Forget their reputation and record. You just have to score your opponents, man-to-man. Got that?"
"Yes, sir," all three snapped.
"Good," the coach rumbled, leaning back in his chair. "Josef, take your chair. We'll be landing in about twenty minutes."
"Yes, sir," Josef said, heading off to find his seat.
Nickolai leaned over and whispered into Garth's ear again. "Actually, they masturbate in the shower together, and sometimes they do play in bed. She wrote me and told me she woke up one night this close to orgasm 'cause Kiza had a hand between her legs. So she, uhm, had Kiza for breakfast."
"Geez," Garth repeated yet again. "I thought you said you didn't want anyone getting off thinking about your girlfriend."
"You don't bother me. Thinking about Foster doing it does. Besides, all I have to do is tell you Kiza is unattached and that the reason she like Furry so much in the first place is 'cause she wants a Terran boyfriend like Furry, and I know just how your mind operates. You bed squeaks every night anyway. Ee-ee-ee-ee," Nickolai squeaked, trying to sound like ancient bedsprings and failing.
"My bed does not squeak!"
"Only because you're fanatical about keeping it oiled."
"I am not!"
"Okay, it's only every other night."
"That's more likely," Garth admitted, smiling. They both broke up laughing.
The sport of fencing hadn't changed all that much in the past millennia, the invention of impulse gels and the rise of Practical Swordsmanship notwithstanding. Although Nickolai had to admit that the modern fencer, when compared to his ancient sporting equivalent swaddled with padded clothing like an ugly white turtle, looked more like a ballet dancer or a Shakespearean actor in his colorful tights. Impulse gel, a composite substance that felt like gelatin sandwiched between two sheets of plastic and imbedded with a symmetrical pattern of ball bearings, could sense when a piercing or other localized strike was occurring to the region it covered, and the gel would solidify instantly, using the energy of the attack to distribute the impact over as wide a region as possible. It worked as well against bullets as it did swords; a Terran invention, the addition of Pendorian ceramics had made it nearly impervious to anything traveling less that 12 meters per second. Which was why, when added to the lining of 12th century armor, people now felt comfortable practicing on each other with broadswords and halberds.
The headdress of the modern fencer still looked the same, however, and still served the same purpose, although perhaps with less success now that the bland white uniform had given way to colorful team outfits.
"On the left field, Nickolai Dittrich. On the right, Margaret Elizabeth Zofrani."
Nickolai's interest elevated at the idea that his first match was to be against a girl. He pulled his mask over his head, taking care to push a lock of hair out of the way in the process.
He bowed to her, admiring her form even through the glistening bodysuit of her uniform, which was on the left, blue on the right, with a large blue arrow extending across her chest. She returned the bow and the match commenced.
She was good! There was no denying that; he found himself retreating repeatedly during the match, defending himself against her very competent assaults. He would try a feint, finding himself instead on the receiving end of a nasty undercut. By the third round he had learned to defend against that devastating maneuver, and she shifted to an inside feint.
He sighed as she made her fifth successful touch. Still, he had managed three on her, so that wasn't so bad. He hadn't lost completely, just enough to feel embarrassed. He sighed and bowed to her again. She took of her helmet and shook her hair loose. It was dark, curly hair, in small rivulets that ran around her face and down her back; the rest of her was equally pretty.
Nickolai made his rounds of his other four opponents, scoring well enough that he was in the successive half, the half that would be competing tomorrow, which he knew would be far tougher than today. By the time clean-up came around, he was drinking water by the quart to keep himself hydrated, and he was relieved when the coach informed him that it was time to hit the showers.
"Dinner is at six, people, don't miss it." Nickolai sighed as he toweled his head dry, then looked back to see Garth trying, with only some success, to dry off his back. "Want me to get that?" Nickolai asked.
"Yeah, thanks," Garth said. "Hey, you know, that girl you were fencing first thing this morning was pretty. What was her name?"
"Elizabeth, I think."
"Naw, that was her middle name. Maybe we can find her at dinner."
"Maybe," Nickolai agreed, ruffling the fur along his roommate's back and drying off the fell underneath.
Nickolai and Garth made their way to dinner after dressing in their best suit and ties. "I hate these things," Garth observed, playing with his tie and trying to prevent it from choking him. "A millennia of advancement but we're still wearing these damned monkey suits." Dinner was a buffet arrangement, and they availed themselves of large portions of vegetables, meats, whatever struck their interest as being edible. "Hey, there she is," Garth said.
Nickolai followed Garth's gaze, and his eyes came to rest on a human female wearing a dark, frilly dress. She was about 165cms tall, with that dark, curly hair falling about her shoulders he had noticed earlier. Her face was rounded, with full cheeks and a big smile. She had apparently been ahead of them in line, because she already carried a tray laden with dinner. Nickolai and Garth made his way over to her and said "Hello. Mind if we sit here?"
"You're that guy I fenced with first thing this morning," she observed, looking up. Then she smiled. "Sure, have a seat."
"I, um, I wanted to talk to you about tomorrow. We might face each other again."
"We might," she admitted. "I'm afraid I gave away more than I should have in the first match. You're pretty good out there. What's your name, anyway?"
"Liz," she said. "Actually, you can call me anything you want, but Liz is usually it. Just don't call me Lizard. That's what my Aunt called me."
"Got it," Nickolai agreed.
"Is there a short form of Nickolai?"
"Kolya," he offered. "This thing here is my roommate, Garth."
"Hiya, Liz," he said, offering his hand across the table. She accepted it gracefully.
"I've never fenced a Katckin before. Are you any good?"
"I like to think so," Garth. "I'm practicing hard enough."
"Maybe I'll see you, too, on the field of honor tomorrow."
"You'll get your shot. We're down to ten per. Odds are, you'll get to see one of us."
She grinned. "Or maybe both?"
Nickolai returned the grin, feeling a vague unease growing behind his chest. "Maybe."
They ate dinner in relative silence, and when it was over Nickolai said, "Lights out is at ten. What do you do until then?"
"Well, we've got the Wreck downstairs; it's got a few game stations and pool tables and things like that. It's even got two authentic pinball machines."
"Pinball?" Garth asked, his eyes lighting up. "Where?"
"Through those doors, then make a left and go down the staircase," Liz said. "Come on, let's put these trays up and I'll show you where they are."
"I'd appreciate it," Garth said. They put up their trays and made their way downstairs. Nickolai was impressed by the granite and cement work that made up the construction of the old school; the painted steel railing was cold to the touch as they wound their way down into the basement of the building. Liz pulled open an unpretentious wooden door, and immediately a loud eruption of noise reached their ears. Within, a dull yellow carpet covered a large open space in which a variety of girls, from ages fourteen to about twenty, milled about. Having spent all day with the athletic department, Nickolai and Garth hadn't been exposed to the fact that this was an all-female school until now.
"Oh, wow," Garth said. "I think I've died and gone to heaven."
Nickolai laughed. "Control yourself. There are the pinball machines you were so interested in."
"Oh, yeah," Garth replied. "I think I'll play the one in the middle. It looks like an authentic Kawasai." Garth made his way through the slight crowd. Nickolai watched him go long enough to see him introduce himself to the two women standing in front of the machines, then turned back to Elizabeth. "What are you interested in?"
She shrugged. "Nothing in particular. Just wondering if you had anything in mind, Kolya."
"I could do that," she replied, smiling.
As Nickolai was to discover, Elizabeth was as good at billiards as she was as fencing; he found himself fighting for his survival on every shot, and it was she who eventually dropped the eight-ball. "Damn."
"Oh, well," she smiled. "Look, it's noisy in here. You want me to show you around campus?"
"Would you?" he asked, feeling that unease he had noticed earlier growing.
"Sure," she smiled. "I can even show you where the barn is."
He laughed. "That sounds like an invitation."
"It was," she said. "But just one to show you around." She held out her hand, and he took it. They walked out into the cool night air, and she began to lead him around the sparse campus, showing him where the dorms were, the classrooms, even the chapel that seemed a necessity to every school, even in this agnostic century. They ended up sitting on an old wooden fence facing a wide field. A fog gripped the grass surface tenaciously, illuminated by a halogen lamp mounted to the side of the barn. "In the daytime, the horses graze through there."
"Do you have a horse?"
She nodded. "His name is Ballet. He's a tough horse to control, but I seem to manage."
That unease that Nickolai had felt all night seemed to dissipate, only to be replaced with a name and a resolve. "Liz, I need to tell you something."
"Do you?" she asked, turning her head towards him.
"Yeah, I think so. This is heading pretty much in the direction of 'Whadda you wanna do next?' 'Well, there's always my dorm room.' So let's, um, cut through all that right here. You're very pretty and I'd love to get to know you better and there's no way that would make me pull my blade tomorrow, but I think I should tell you that I'm already involved with someone already."
"Oh," she said. "You do cut through the nonsense pretty efficiently, don't you? What's her... or his... name, and... I mean, it's not contractual, is it?"
"No..." Nickolai sighed. "It's more complicated than that. I mean... okay, her name is Jofuran Shigokai. She's a Pendorian."
That surprised Elizabeth, and she replied slowly, "That's different. And you're thinking about... Emigrating? Hallwalking, is that it?"
Nickolai shook his head. "Not quite. We were thinking of moving to a third colony, out of Pendor's and Terra's rules. We could find Pendorian doctors or donors, and, well, you can guess the rest."
She nodded. "That's pretty serious thinking."
He shrugged, dodging the knowledge Shardik had given him. "We haven't made any decisions. I'm not going to be seeing her for another year or so, not until I graduate. But I just wanted to tell you ahead of time, so you wouldn't be upset later."
She smiled and turned to him. "I'm a little young to go looking for contracts, myself," she said, reaching up to touch his cheek. "Look, if this means that you're going to vanish off the face of the Earth in a year, I can live with that. You still need friends for now, and I'd like to be one." She closed the distance between them, her lips pressing against his softly.
Nickolai's shock turned into action as he returned her kiss. He was surprised at how forward she was; her tongue was already seeking his between their lips as they kissed on the railing. "Look, there is always your dorm room."
"Where are you guys staying?"
"I think Garth would get upset to find us."
"Nah, I think he's more chill than that," she said. "I could see it in his eyes; he obsessed with those pinball machines, anyway. Come on, lead me to your room."
He leapt off the railing and took her hand, leading her back to the guest quarters. A quick glance to make sure nobody would see them, and he soon had her in his temporary quarters.
As the door clicked shut behind them, she pushed him up against the bed; it struck him behind the knees and made his legs buckle; he fell to the bed, and she guided him down carefully.
His hands reached around her back, caressing her through the soft frills of the of her dress. They slowly rolled together onto their sides, his hands sliding up between them to caress a breast through the fabric. Their tongues intertwined, and Nickolai found a small voice in the back of his head encouraging him to slow down.
Her arms encircled his waist, and even before he had begun to explore her, she was already working at his belt buckle. "Hey," he said, "Anticipating makes it more worthwhile in the end."
"I don't want to anticipate; I've been in anticipation for too long now, Nickolai. You're the first decent guy I've met in a long time, and I just want you."
Not sure what to say to that, Nickolai let his hand float down to her waist, where he found a simple circle of copper securing the sash of her outfit. He pulled the cloth loose and tossed the belt aside. "I bet this has to go over your head."
"Yeah," she giggled. She began to wriggle out of it, and the two of them fought and struggled on the creaky bed until she finally did get it off over her head. She kicked off her shoes. "How do I look?"
"Human," he said, kissing her. She kissed him back as his hands fumbled with the clasp of her brassiere; finally he managed to get it loose, and it joined her dress. His hands caressed her small, apple-sized breasts. They were also quite firm as well, and he enjoyed testing them with her his fingers. She squirmed gently, and her hands found his erection through the material of his pants.
"The gate should be opened," she giggled, "So the wakened beast may be let loose."
He picked up her tone instantly. "Ah, and ravish all the fine maidens of the village?"
"Just this one," she said, pulling his zipper down. Her hands slid against his skin and closed about his erection. "Mmph!" Nickolai agreed as she gripped it tightly.
She slowly pulled her hand out, his erection coming with her until the head was exposed. She immediately dove on it, taking it into her mouth. He gasped as she licked the head, then sucked more than half the length down her throat. "God, Liz," he said.
She giggled, and he felt the giggle against the skin of his sensitive cock. Her mouth sucked him completely, and her head bobbed up and down in his crotch, her hair flying after her. He watched and felt, entranced, as her tongue pressed against the soft skin of his shaft, peeling back the foreskin and caressing the head. He hissed, dropping his hands to the bed; he knew if he left them up he was going to grab her hair. "Oh, Liz..." he moaned.
She looked up. "Can you get it up twice in one night?" she asked.
"Can you go twice in one night?"
"At this rate, absolutely!"
"Good!" she said, diving down on his cock and taking the length to the back of her throat again. Nickolai's hands pulled at the cloth of the of the bedsheets, squirming as she applied pressure to his erection. "Oh, Liz!" he gasped as his orgasm exploded in her mouth. She didn't stop, but kept stroking, sucking every last drop of semen out of his orgasm, swallowing all of it. When she finally released his cock, he gasped and looked down at her. "After that, maybe not."
"Maybe not!" she asked, indignant. She slowly slid up to nuzzle up against his neck, her breath warm against his skin. "You'd better be able to, Kolya. I didn't go through all that work for nothing."
"Don't worry. I'll do my heroic best."
She smiled, her hand caressing his flagging cock. "How long do I have to wait?"
"Well, the sooner you get me going the sooner you can get me going," Nickolai smiled. He turned and kissed her on the mouth. She seemed surprised, then returned the kiss again, their tongues mixing. He tasted the sweet salt on her tongue, the taste of his own semen. It was an interesting taste.
"Well, guess who's hard again?" she said.
"I am?" he asked, feeling down between his legs; his hand bumped hers, and then he felt his own shaft, already hard and ready. "Guess so."
"Yeah," she smiled, rolling him back onto back. She straddled his body, only to remember she still had her underwear on. "Just pull it aside," he said.
She smiled. "You'd like that, wouldn't you?" She tugged it to one side, as he had suggested, and then grabbed his erection in her right hand. "Ready?"
"Oh yeah." She smiled and slid down over his cock, slowly taking all of him into her. "Wow," she sighed.
He placed his hands on her hips and she provided all of the motion, slowly stroking up and down on his erect penis. "That's so good," she sighed. "I love getting fucked."
Nickolai smiled. "Seems to me you're doing all the work."
"We could change that, you know," she said.
"I'd like that. Besides, we have to take your underwear off. The elastic is scraping against the side of my cock and it's rubbing me raw."
"Okay." She slid off of his erection and rolled onto the bed beside him, lifting her legs and buttocks into the air to remove her underwear. Nickolai positioned himself between her legs. "Now, get inside," she panted softly.
He easily slid himself into her cunt again, feeling her grasp him. He looked down and in the dim light could see his cock slowly sliding in and out of her. He decided not to take this at all quickly; he wanted the pleasure to last. "Faster, please, Nickolai?"
He smiled down at her, watching her face; his eyes searched her face, and he could see her eyes doing the same for him. His body slapped against hers, his cock plunging deep into her. His strokes became faster at her urging, and he found that there was less sensation when he went faster. He smiled as he began loving her harder, faster. "Yes, that's what I want," she gasped. "Ohmmmrrrr..."
His cock felt like stone or marble; he was going to pound her into the bed if he could. Her hands grasped his hips as he lost all control and felt his orgasm explode a second time, filling her yet again with his seed. All that escaped his mouth was a muffled "Mmmmph..." as he bit his lip to keep from screaming.
He opened his eyes to look down at her. She smiled up at him, her eyes wet. "That was good."
"So were you, Liz. So were you. Can you stay the night?"
She blinked. "I don't think so. I have to be up for the match tomorrow. But you're the first guy who's ever asked." She reached up and stroked his cheek. "Thank you."
They snuggled together, and whispered softly to one another. Suddenly, the door banged open, startling both of them. "Ooops, sorry," Garth announced. "I'm just heading to bed."
"I should probably be heading that way, too," Liz said. She roused herself out of bed and, completely disregarding that Garth was watching, dressed.
"Hey!" Nickolai said. "Don't I get a kiss good-bye?"
She smiled and leaned over. "Good-bye, Nickolai. See you tomorrow on the field of battle."
"See you, 'Lizabeth." She left, closing the door behind her.
Garth glanced down at his roommate, who now lay on his bed with his fingers laced together behind his head. "Don't just sit there grinning like you've eaten a canary," he grumbled. "Isn't that fraternizing with the enemy, anyway?"
"I thought this was friendly competition."
I'm glad to hear your relationship with Kiza is working, but I have to admit I'm a little worried to hear how she's 'attached' herself to you. I suppose you could have the same fear for me as well, since I've met someone down here.
Her name is Liz, and she lives almost a thousand kilometers away. That's not such a big deal on Pendor, I understand, but here on Earth we still have to fly to get to where we want to go. I met her over fencing, and she defeated me soundly. But we also made love one night, and I enjoyed myself.
I had trouble admitting that to you, especially figuring out how to word "made love." I mean, did I say I "had sex," "fucked," or what? Actually, I shouldn't worry about it; she was very understanding that for now were "friends," and nothing more.
Garth, my Katckin roommate, commented that I've been "morose" without you, and I have to agree. I miss you so much, and even though Terra's my homeworld, I really cannot wait to get back to Pendor, and to you.