Much to my pleasure, I felt completely refreshed when I awoke the morning just before we pulled into orbit around Battia II. I had been concerned that I wouldn't recover from the past weeks of nonstop allnighters before planetfall, but as I stretched and smiled up at the ceiling, I felt great.
I wondered if morning people felt this way all the time.
Part of the reason for my current state was the unquestionable loveliness that shared my bed. I leaned over and kissed Dao's cheek, hoping he wouldn't wake up until he was good and ready to, then crawled out of bed.
Once quietly in the shower, I asked Lance what the schedule looked like. "Well, planetfall is an hour before dusk during the first shift's wake cycle. Aaden has scheduled a large expedition to place down EM samplers and, as usual, you are the pilot of choice."
I nodded. "So, when does that happen?"
"An hour after dawn."
"So that gives me two hours to get all my usual stuff in order, provided I find someone to warm up the shuttle for me."
"Correct," Lance agreed. "You have an hour until planetfall, so effectively you have, how shall I put it, three hours to get your act together."
I grinned and finished washing. As I pulled on a light jumpsuit with the Pendorian Fleet Insignia over the left breast pocket, I checked the flight plan logged for Aaden's team that day, then asked Lance if Garenna would be awake any time soon.
"He has awakened already."
"Tell me when we have SDisk lock-on, and ask Gary if he'd like to meet with me before I dash off on a mission."
"He says that if planetfall is as scheduled, he would like to meet with you at 27:20."
"Got it," I said, making a mental note. That gave me a half- hour to look in on the family.
I wandered up to the standard lounge and ordered a light breakfast of a single salted rice ball and a cup of hot tea. While I ate, three Han wandered in, Lindsay among them. "Lindsay!"
"Ken!" she said, waving. "What are you doing up this early?"
"Getting ready for a long day ahead. Pull up a seat, all of you."
After ordering something for breakfast, she pulled up an oversized chair that Lance had recently produced just for the Han and said, "What are you eating?"
When I described it to her, she expressed surprise. "I thought you enjoyed something sweet for breakfast."
"It depends," I said, grinning. "As you may know, I eroticize everything, but I also turn to philosophy. Sweets are a reward for the start of a new day, but I'm already rewarded by a return to my family, the end of a safe journey, and..." I paused, reached up and touched her cheek, "the finding of new beauty."
She lowered her eyes to the table. "You are just amazing. You never cease, do you?"
"I confess, I'm always 'on,' so to speak. Have I embarrassed you in front of your friends?"
"Oh! Ken, this is Gretchen, and this is Katherine." They nodded politely, and I extended my hand.
"Another Katherine. That's all we need."
"Is it a popular name on Pendor?" she asked.
"It seems to be," I admitted. "It's nothing to worry about. I have two very dear friends named Katherine, and occasionally I get them confused. Adding another will make matters worse."
"I heard we're going to land soon."
"Less than ten minutes, in fact. We're not going to 'land,' but we expect to be connected to the ground-based SDisks in about that time." I ate fast, relying on my high metabolism to process the rice without upsetting my stomach too much. "When we get down, I have to stop by my family's tent, check in with Commander Garenna, and in about two hours I'm flying a sampling expedition to the southern edge of the continent."
Lindsay looked at my incredulous. "Don't you ever stop?"
"Never. To stop is to die. No, that's not true. I just want to get back into doing things I feel comfortable with."
"But when do you relax?"
"I don't. I choose very carefully when I'm going to loaf."
She smiled. "May I come along?"
I thought for a moment. "Lance, is there room on the shuttle?"
"Easily. A whole 'taur bench is underutilized."
"Then I guess you're free to come along," I said. "Do you have a uPADD?"
She nodded. The others did as well. "Then just ask Lance to keep you up-to-date on when I ship out and meet us at the landing pad."
"Ken," Lance interrupted again, "We have SDisk lock on with sub-60 delay."
"Great! I'll be right down." I tossed my bowl into the washing machine. "I'll see you down planetside in about two hours."
I stopped in at the tent first, quietly opening the flap and entering. If I had been an unauthorized intruder alarms would have sounded, but I was recognized and allowed to enter unobstructed. I looked in.
Something was curiously out of place, but I couldn't put my finger on it. It wasn't the way Aaden and P'nyssa were lying together; they do that often enough. No, something subtle was wrong with the room. Not wrong-- unfamiliar. I examined the surroundings carefully, and when I figured out what was bothering me, I smiled. "Good for you two," I whispered, letting the curtain fall back into place silently. I checked my watch and realized I had to meet Gary in five minutes, so I quietly left them and walked over to Mission Control.
"Ken!" Gary said as he crossed the large circus enclosure that made up First Tent. "I send you out to investigate a little something and you come back with immigrants. What am I going to do with you?"
I chuckled at the short Tindal's admonishment. "I don't know, Gary. What do you want to do with me?"
"You don't want to know," he growled. "Are you sure you want to resume flight duty so soon?"
I spread my hands wide in exasperation. "Why is everyone asking me this question? Yes, I feel fine, Gary. I want to get back to work."
He nodded. "I'm just checking. I saw what your eyes looked like a week ago."
"That was a week ago. I've been doing nothing but sleeping, making love, and getting to know the Han. All three are good for the soul."
His brow furrowed slightly. "You work faster than legend, Ken."
I grinned. I was beginning to recognize that word, 'legend,' everywhere I went. Were there really legends (myths, fables, allegories) about me? "No, no, no, not making love with any of the Han. I'm not that fast. I'm... working on it." He laughed, and I did too. "So, do you have concrete plans on what to do with the Han and where to put them?"
"Well, they aren't a strain on resources, if that's a concern. There's plenty of spare room for forty or more." He glanced back at the large overhead display at the far end of the enclosure. At night we showed movies on it; for meetings it was our visual aid. Right now it was a headline marquee.
"Gary, remember that one of the concerns of Pendorian Engineering is that in a ten-year voyage a truly dedicated crew could triple or even quadruple its count?"
"These people are very eager to get their numbers back, and I don't blame them. And they're hermaphroditic. A week ago they were all at death's door; today, five of them are already pregnant and the rest are working on it with a dedication not usually seen in sentient mammals."
Gary lifted his mitt to his mouth and chewed on it thoughtfully. "I'd better... do... some recalculation."
I nodded. "You do that. And while you're at it, talk to David about the return trip."
"I will. What's your assessment of them today, Ken?"
"They're suspicious of us and beholden to us. Some of them don't believe that they owe us nothing for medical assistance. You might want to put them in touch with some of those llerkin college kids and have them talk out their respective situations; they're all in much the same boat. The eldest two trust me, as do some of the youngsters. It's the ones in between-- they either resent this big change in their lives, or they're too bewildered to have caught up with what's happening."
He nodded, then gave my shoulder a squeeze. "Thanks. I'll keep you up-to-date on situation."
"Do that. By the way, I'm taking one of them with me."
"Lindsay Summer, age 27. She's one of the youngest in the crowd, yet she was also one of the hardest hit with PRAIOR. She met me at breakfast this morning and asked me what I was doing today. She asked if she could come along. I cleared space with Lance. Is there a problem? I could ask her to stay..."
"I don't think so..." He looked thoughtful again. "I wanted a chance to mass them all together to talk to them."
"I think there's as much of you doing that with the Han as there is of doing it with all the Ssphynx on the planet. Unless it's a matter of species-wide life or death, they're all going to be going off in their own directions."
He nodded, then sighed. "I guess I'll have to meet them one at a time."
"Best way to do that."
"I've got my work cut out for me."
"That's why I chose you, Gary. You're the best damned mission commander I've ever met. This is what you do, and since Hyzen '312 you've been doing a kick-ass job of it."
"I appreciate that."
I recognized that look in his eyes. "Losing Battia still weigh you down?"
He shrugged. "A little. I can't imagine someone who wouldn't be bothered by it." He raised his head, tossing his long hair casually. "I'll manage. That's what I do."
"Yep. Thanks, Gary. I gotta go check my shuttle."
"Thanks for stopping by and briefing me personally, Ken." As I started to head for the door I heard him say "Lance! Illustrate all Han planetside for me. And highlight Rachael Covington if she's down here."
Heavy footsteps told me that the first of my crew had arrived early. "Who's there?"
"Who do you think?"
"Aaden!" I said, extracting myself from my chair and rushing into his arms. I kissed him hard as we collided, cradling his head in my hand as I pushed him up against the bulkhead of the command deck. "Oh, I missed you!"
He laughed and his hands groped for various parts of my anatomy. My free hand returned the favor, and our laughter deepened into hard growls of pleasure. "I missed you, too," he said, kissing my throat, closing teeth on it momentarily. I whimpered under his sharp bite, and when he released he had to steady me to keep me from falling over.
"I can't believe you found those people," he said. "That's amazing."
"That's all anyone wants to talk about," I said, casting my gaze about the inside of the cabin. "Look, if you want, you can talk to one of them yourself. I've invited--" I paused. I wasn't quite sure how to word it.
"You know how one person in a new species becomes my friend, my representative? I've invited the person I want to be that representative to come along on this trip." There. I even admitted it to myself for once.
"That should be intriguing," he said. "What's her name?"
"I read the reports. People are talking about the hermaphrodite angle a lot. What does that really amount to?"
I shrugged. "Hard to say."
"Would I like them?"
I glanced out the forward windscreen. "It's a beautiful day, when a young mel's thoughts turn to... Aaden, I can't really answer that question. Most of them look distinctly feminine... wide hips, visible breasts, willowy. On the other hand--" I held my hands a few centimeters apart, hands curled as if grasping something, and lowered my voice to a very conspiratorial whisper-- "Lindsay is hung like a... a... She gives Dao a run for the money."
Aaden's ears peaked noticeably. "As big as me?"
"Shorter, probably by about four cents," I said. "But thick. Like a sampling bottle or something!"
We were interrupted by a voice from the rear hatch. "Hello?"
"Who is it?"
"Ahned Nite'," came the reply.
"Ahned? You're on the manifest?"
"In the flesh," the Mustela Onyx beamed as he came onboard, hauling two large duffelbags with him. "You're both going? Great! That'll give me a better chance with the women!"
I laughed. "Ahned, I like women too, you know."
"Not after fifteen days in space without him, you don't!" he said, waving at Aaden casually.
"Everybody thinks they know me," I said with exasperation, tossing my hands into the air. "I'm gonna go do a preflight. Aaden, would you help me?"
"Sure," he agreed.
"If you close the door," Ahned shouted as he stowed his gear, "I'll tell everyone else that you're, uhm, busy."
"Sheesh," I groaned.
Fifteen minutes later, we were short two people: Lindsay and a Pamthreat named Ai. They showed up together. "Sorry we were late," Lindsay puffed as she came on board.
"You're not. Not yet, at any rate. Okay, strap yourselves in. Ahned, Marie, help them."
After announcing all secure, I took to the air.
The flight was singularly unexciting. After reaching speed I announced, "This is your captain speaking. We have reached our cruising altitude and velocity; our current ETA is two hours, nineteen minutes. You may now walk about the cabin freely." Although my chatter was commonplace and expected, only Aaden really understood why I chose to deliver it in such an odd patter and voice. The sounds of buckles being undone reached my ears as people stretched and yawned. Marie pulled a pair of variable sunglasses over her eyes and immediately went to sleep. Some of the other people looked like they were ready to do the same, but Lindsay wasn't one of them. I wandered back to sit on the 'taur bench opposite her. "So, what do you think so far?"
"It's... I don't know what to call it. It's all so green, so amazing. We're actually flying right now, right?"
I smiled. "You know, water falls from the sky here."
"I know what rain is!"
"But you've never seen it, have you?"
Her ears dipped. "No, I haven't. All these wonders... I knew that they existed, out here somewhere, but I never dreamed I'd ever be able to reach for them, touch them." She pointed at Ai. "Like her. There wasn't anything like her on the ship, was there?"
"There are only a few Pamthreats on the mission," I said. "And there was one on the ship. Fari was on board, right Lance?"
"Yes. But since she chose to spend her time with the executive crew there was little chance for her to mingle with the Han."
Lindsay shook her head, looking up at the tall Mephit walking down the aisle. "Who's this?"
Aaden reached out a hand. I said, "Lindsay Summer, meet Aaden Shardik, my coimelin of the past five centuries."
Lindsay looked puzzled. "Coimelin?" she asked. "That's like... husband, right? Spouse?"
"Something like that," Aaden grinned, sitting besides me and kissing my cheek.
"What happened to the female you were mated to when the Simple Needs left? P'nyssa Traken?"
"She's still part of the family. She's neither pilot nor biologist; she's a doctor and so stays with the medical contingent, healing the broken bones and cuts that are a part of every exploration mission."
"Then all three of you are... ?"
"A family, yes. A child-rearing unit," I chuckled.
"But, you're both males!"
"So?" Aaden said.
"You can't reproduce!"
I opened my hand in a gesture of uselessness. "Can't reproduce with P'nyssa, either; we're all different species. Doesn't mean we can't be family. We raise children that others give birth to, or P'nyssa takes in semen from other males of her own species. We do a damn good job of raising children, too. Right now we have two. Noah is a Ssphynx we adopted, and Sheja is Aaden and Rowan's third child."
"A friend of the family. She enjoys pregnancy but is a lousy mother, and she knows it. So she asks families like ours to do the raising."
"Then... do you all..."
"We all sleep in the same bed usually. P'nyssa and I are attracted to both sexes, but Aaden here is attracted only to males, right?" He nodded forcefully, as if trying to confirm the truth for himself. I smiled. "We're not monogamous at all, so we have friends in the house, or we're frequently out of the house. We all love each other very much--" I reached over and wrapped my arms around my dear lover-- "and have made a very successful and lively household for five centuries now."
Lindsay shook her head. "This is going to take some getting used to. This gender thing, the species and preferences and... I'm going to be dizzy."
"Just don't get airsick," Aaden said, holding out a hand.
"I... I won't," she said. "Not that kind of dizzy. I just feel like my brain is full and should be allowed to digest before I go get more to stuff it with." I laughed, knowing that feeling very well. "Uhm, this might be rude, but if you're only attracted to males, how do you feel about hermaphrodites?"
Aaden rubbed the underside of his muzzle with his knuckles. "I don't know yet. I don't know why I'm only attracted to males. As I see it, my attraction is towards something that is fundamentally masculine, something women don't and can't have. If Han have that fundamentally masculine characteristic, then I probably will be. At the moment, I don't see it, though."
"Dizzy again?" I asked.
She nodded. I reached back into the galley and pulled out a heavy, steel mug and filled it from a small, special bottle I kept back there. "Here, drink this."
"What is it?"
"White wine. The alcohol will slow down your thought processes a little. It might help."
She smiled and gulped a mouth full, gasping as the alcohol slid down her throat. "Ahh, that's good. I hope it helps."
"Me, too. Hate to think of a lovely lady like you with a headache." She smiled at me and I felt a diffuse warmth cover me. I liked her company.
We sat silently together for a while, the three of us looking out windows and drinking our various drinks. I had grabbed a soda. Aaden broke the silence-- well, not exactly silence, since Ahned snored-- and asked, "Lindsay, do the Han cycle?"
"What does that mean?" she asked.
I answered the question. "Han cycle on a forty-four day schedule, by their day-lengths. I don't yet know what will happen to them on Pendor. The production of viable sperm is interrupted for only about ninety hours, during which time pregnancy is possible. This lack of production is hard to notice since the Cowper's and prostate glands both continue to function adequately. I imagine a change in taste would be noticed. A significant drop in glandular activity occurs during pregnancy, and that is easily noticed... but then so is morning sickness."
"Got it," Aaden said. "Figures you would know those statistics."
"Sex, reproduction, parturition those are my life."
"Only you would toss in 'I imagine a change in taste would be noticeable,' though."
"Oh, I don't know. A lot of 'how to have sex with females' manuals include things like 'common diseases and their warning signs,' and they all list tastes among the symptoms. It's common sense. A long time before something shows up visibly, it's going to be easy to smell and even easier to taste."
A beep from the cabin attracted our attention. "Time to land this crate," Aaden said. "Let's go."
I walked back with him and took my chair. The weather was slightly overcast, but otherwise comfortable. I landed with no trouble.
Despite the overcast morning, the day turned out quite nice; windblown and cool, but with plenty of sunlight. Lindsay loomed over the entire crew like the unintentional giant she was. Ahned craned his neck to look at her; he barely came up to her midthigh, and I was, not unwillingly, at eye level with her breasts. Aaden noticed this and just shook his head, laughing and covering his eyes with his hand. I slapped him on the arm playfully.
"Okay, people," Aaden said, "This is what we're looking for." They assembled around him and he held up a large PADD. "This root system carries what looks like an analog electrical signal. We want to distribute these counters along that system for as far as we can go. Ahned, Marie, Lucis, you're to head that way. Ken, Ai, and I guess Lindsay, you're with me." He looked up. "Hope you don't mind being turned into a pack animal, Lindsay."
She shook her head. "I'll do what I can to help."
"And you're our pack-shardik, Ken."
"Again," I grinned. Being the long-distance hiker in the family, Aaden always let me carry the heavy stuff. Aaden set his watch. "Okay, the profile is straight up. Walk for five hours in that direction, attaching monitors to visible portions of the root system, checking every twenty minutes. Don't disturb anything that could be of interest to bugs. Sleep at dusk, get six hours, head back. Is that clear?"
Everyone nodded. "Okay, assemble gear and head out."
The day continued to be beautiful, even as our hike took us into some particularly muddy riverbanks and down a slope. The only thing missing from all this was wildlife... again, there was none.
We stopped for lunch after three hours and drank from the stream. "Whoof," I said as I dropped the pack. "Can't believe how two weeks have made my feet go soft already."
"We're doing pretty well, though," Aaden said. "We've gone ten kilometers already, which is more than I thought we'd make. We'll make twenty by nightfall at this pace.
I stared down into the stream, hoping to see some small evidence of fresh-water fish. Not even the smallest tad. I shook my head. "This is so weird."
"The wildlife. There is none. I assume that it takes advanced life to create a space program, but there's nothing here at all above the damned bugs." I sighed. "We'll figure it out eventually."
"That we will. Everyone ready to go?"
Ai and Lindsay nodded their agreement. "Ai, could you and Lindsay lead on a little. I have something to talk to Ken about. Could you give us some space?"
"Sure thing, sir," Ai said from her translator. "Come on, Miss Summer." Ai led Lindsay down, following the stream.
I turned to Aaden, smiling. "What?" he asked.
"I know," I said as we began following the two fems, keeping them in sight.
"WHAT? How?" He snapped his fingers. "Lance!"
I shook my head. "He was with me, remember?"
"Then you've talked to P'nyssa already?"
I shook my head again. "Then how?" he asked.
"The towel. When I landed this morning I stopped to look in on you, and you were sleeping together peacefully. Nothing unusual about that. But something about the room bothered me. And then I noticed the practical towel, the one we use to prevent the proverbial wet spot and clean up the messes we make. It was on P'nyssa's side of the bed."
"So... if it had been on your side of the bed, I would have concluded that you had masturbated and used the towel to wipe your fur off afterwards. Nothing unusual about that."
"But maybe P'nyssa masturbated," Aaden pointed out.
"If she had, her vibrator would have been lying folded in the towel. She does that all the time. If she leaves the towel out, she leaves the vibrator folded in it to keep the carpet clean. If she gets up to clean the toy, she puts the towel in the hamper. But this time, there was no toy. Just a crumpled towel. Therefore, P'nyssa had made love with someone, and the only mel around was you. Everything else just clicked into place."
His jaw hung slack. I reached forward and closed it for him. "Ah-hah! Revenge!" I chuckled.
"You never cease to amaze me," he said, shaking his head.
"Come on. Now that your big secret has been told, let's catch up with the fems. One's a hexaped and the other covers two meters with every stride. We've got some jogging to do."
He was still staring at me. "You never cease to amaze me."
"You said that already. C'mon!" I trotted off, and after a moment's hesitation he followed.
We finally drew camp just as the sun was diving down below the horizon. "You warned me the days were short," Lindsay said, "but this is silly. I feel like I just got up."
"Well, you'd better be ready to take a long nap, then," Aaden said, "because it's a long hike home tomorrow." He yawned. I don't think he needed to yawn but was looking for a sympathetic response from her. He got it. I grinned; sadomasochists are such abusers of psychology.
"I think I am," she sighed after getting control of her muzzle muscles.
"How do you feel?" I asked.
"Wonderful," she sighed as she stretched out. "Incredible. Except for my childhood, all of my memories are of being sick. I can't believe I walked twenty kilometers today! My legs hurt, but it's a good hurt, it's healthy."
"Good," I nodded. "I'm glad you feel that way. Ai, did you want some help with a sleeping bag?"
The Pamthreat shook her head and growled something at me. I suddenly appreciated the polyglot hovering around us; Aaden and I spoke both Quen, Anglic, and Felinzi, but Lindsay knew only Anglic and Ai only Felinzi. Ai had her "hands" and her translator, but that was nothing like really talking to her in her own tongue. I growled something back, and Lindsay jumped slightly. "They're not gonna fight, are they?" she asked Aaden.
"Of course not," he said. "That's Felinzi, one of the two languages Pamthreats can learn easily."
"How many languages are there on Pendor?"
"Almost everybody speaks Quen, so you'll probably want to learn it. About a quarter know Sind, and another quarter know Anglic." Aaden paused, thinking, while I rose to help Ai unravel her pack. "Almost all the felines speak Felinzi, and about a quarter of them speak Uncia as well. Centaurs used to have a unique language but only about half learn it these days; Quen is so much easier to use. Tindals also had a unique language, Nume, but it's in disuse. And I imagine AIs have a separate tongue all their own, but I have no idea what to call it."
"We call it Colossus," Lance offered over a radio.
"Tradition. AI's originally named it the Intersystem Language, but like humans, we shortened it to Colossus and left it at that."
I looked up. "I didn't know that."
"Well now you do," Lance said.
I yawned wide, feeling exhausted. My legs were going to ache in the morning. "I feel as if I've accomplished three impossible things before breakfast. It is time for bed."
Lindsay nodded, and so did Aaden.
As I slipped into the sleeping bag, Aaden's hands were already upon me. "You're eager," I commented, chuckling.
"Two weeks is a long time to go without your attention," he said. I growled my appreciation as his hands grasped me by my ass and pulled me towards him. He mashed his crotch against mine, and the sensation of his erect cock made my own erection grow solid. We rolled within the bag, laughing softly. "Don't run over Ai or Lindsay," I whispered.
"I put us somewhere where we won't," he replied, kissing me.
Just the taste of him, the feel of his naked body against my skin again, made me feel so good. I needed Aaden the way I needed air. My kisses roamed over his face, getting his fur wet while my hands slid along his legs and cupped his furry ballsac, squeezing gently. He growled.
"So," I hummed gently, "What is my favorite mel in the mood for?"
"Well," he said, kissing my chest, "I could fuck you--"
"That sounds good," I interrupted.
"Or you could fuck me--"
"That sounds just as good," I continued. "Given a choice of the two..." I slid down the length of his body until I reached his cock and glided my mouth over the head, sliding down the length of his shaft until the tip nestled in the back of my throat.
My mouth knew the shape of his cock like it knew its own tongue; I had sucked Aaden to orgasm often enough to be able to draw it with my eyes closed simply by imagining the feel of my tongue against the skin. A satisfied "Urrmm..." came from his voice as his fingers weaved themselves into my long hair, holding me in place. My tongue slid along the frictionless, satin smoothness of his skin as the head butted against the back of my throat. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, and then gently eased the head of his cock past my glottal stop and down my throat. Aaden's growl grew a little louder.
I knew how to tease Aaden, and did so with all the experience years of loving him had given me. I reached all the way down until my lips were tugging at the furred ringing of his sheath, pulling on it, then back until I was swirling my tongue around the head. He squirmed under my ministrations, enjoying ever torturous minute, until finally I released him completely. "What?" he gasped.
"Roll over," I said, adding meaning to my words by grabbing his hips and pulling him towards me until he was lying on his stomach. I crawled between his legs and pulled his tail up and out of the way, bending down to kiss him gently between those lovely cheeks of his.
"Oh!" he gasped again as my lips sought deeper into that darkened cave, formed by his two asscheeks and the drop of his tail. Probing deeper into that crevasse, I found his musky asshole and nuzzled it with my nose for a few minutes before extending my tongue and licking at it. He moaned louder as my tongue probed a little more forcefully at that tightened sphincter, teasing it open by millimeters. In truth, I was only trying to get him wet and slippery enough to fuck him, and when he was that ready, I rose up the length of his body and pressed my erection between the cheeks of his ass.
"Oh, yessss," he gasped. "Yes, Ken, please..."
"I like people polite enough to say 'please,'" I said, laughing gently as I eased my cock into his asshole. He opened up for me and I felt my cock slide completely into his warm, willing body. Once my hips pressed down against his butt, though, he tightened his hole around my cock to hold me in place and it was my turn to moan to tell him how I appreciated it.
I began slowly, getting my stride and judging my length. His asshole gripped my cock and massaged the shaft with every stroke, sending shivers of pleasure up my spine. I reveled in the feel of his hard butt every time my hips connected with them.
"Harder," my lover whispered. I began thrusting into him in earnest, filling his ass with my hard cock and going as deep as I could. He gasped as my thrusting grew harder and harder, shoving into him, pushing him down against the ground. It had been two weeks since I had last seen him and I buried my face in the fur of his back, kissing him as I jabbed into his asshole over and over.
A prickly kind of pleasure spread over my face as I grew hotter and hotter. It spread down the back of neck and slowly covered my shoulders. It felt wonderful, and a moment later I groaned as I exploded and shot my semen deep into Aaden's sweet, experienced asshole.
I gasped as I slid out and allowed him to turn over. "Miss me?" I asked.
He pulled me into his grasp and held me close. "A lot. And I missed that. You're still as good as ever. You take so long to come!"
"You're not exactly quick on the trigger either," I replied, nuzzling him. "Come on, we've got a long day ahead of us tomorrow. Let's get some sleep."
As we walked back to the shuttle, Aaden asked Ai and Lindsay to walk ahead a short distance so we could talk again. "What's up?" I asked as they stepped out of hearing range.
"I had a... realization while we were fucking last night," he said. "I stopped being a homosexual five centuries ago."
"How so?" I asked, intrigued.
"Ken, when I moved in with you and Nyss I stopped being--" He held up his fingers in a gesture I frequently used to symbolize quotes-- "a homosexual. I became your lover, your friend, Nyss's friend, a father... hmm, a father. Never dreamed of that before I met you. But in being Nyss's friend, and in learning to lover her, I stopped worrying about my... I stopped thinking of myself as Aaden Satpulov, Homosexual. I'd always thought about myself that way in the past. It was part and parcel of what I was, being entirely homosexual. Sure, I was a botanist and a pilot and a sadomasochist, but even in Rhysh a lot of my import came from the knowledge that I was one of those rare people who never left the all-male quarters. Now I'm a, how did Lindsay say it, a husband, a father, a professional, a sadomasochist, and those are all a lot more important to me than my identity as a homosexual."
"Interesting," I said. "But I still say you're not about to go off chasing 'babes.'"
He laughed. "No fucking way on the entire fucking Ring. That's not what's happened. I'm still a man's man... except where P'nyssa Traken is concerned."
As we walked a little faster to catch up with the fems, he said, "You know, your legend is now complete. I've been told a few times that you can make a heterosexual man consider another man-- namely you-- for the first time, between your good looks and your passionate defense of bisexuality. Now you've gone the other way, and made a homosexual man look at a woman and understand."
"No, Aaden, you always understood. You just took a long time to admit it to yourself."
We reached the shuttle an hour before dusk. The other team had not yet arrived, so we sat out under the warm sun and traded life stories. Ai's was a quick one, seeing as she was only about fifty, but it was still a fascinating tale. Lindsay surprised us with her knowledge of acting and theatre; she was able to sing Gilbert and Sullivan and had a sweet voice for doing so. I chuckled and sang along on what little of the stuff we both knew in common. Aaden and I talked Shakespeare and Sophocles, both of which I am an avid fan of, and Aaden can enjoy a well-told Sophocles better than most.
As dusk fell, Ahned's voice carried through the woods. "Hi, ho, hi, ho!" he sang, and as he approached I could see him waving through the woods. Marie and Lucis were with him, and all three looked as bedraggled as they possibly could. "What happened to you?" I asked.
Lucis, a tall femSatryl, answered. "I fell into a river and got swept away. If it weren't for Marie and Ahned here, I would have drowned!"
"It's true," Ahned said. "She was in real trouble. She was trying to plant a sensor on a root-stem that actually seemed to go under the river. I thought it was important. Then she fell in, and I had to rescue her. Lucis tossed us a line, but it was a real adventure."
"Sounds like it," I agreed. "Why didn't you call?"
"We talked to Lance about it, but since we had worked it out I didn't see why we should bother you," Lucis replied.
"Well," I said, looking them over. "It's good to see you're all alive. Come on, let's head home."
I checked the shuttle over as the others packed in. "Home and a shower in two and a half hours," I announced. The shuttle rose slowly from the planet's surface and in minutes we were headed back to camp.