"Grrr... What is wrong with me?" I swore, tossing my stylus across the desk. It ricocheted off the wall, hit me in the chest, and fell to the floor. "Damnit."
"Ken? Something wrong?" Cordelia asked.
I sighed. "I don't know, Del. Wish I did." I stared at the screen. "I just can't seem to bring anything to the surface today. I'm looking at the sequences and I know there are at least four methods for solving them, and I can't decide which sequence to use. All of them are trade-offs of one kind or another, and I should just settle on one. Trouble is, with the Ritans, all of the mechanisms are new to me, and I don't have one to be prejudiced towards, y'know? So I can't seem to pick any of them. I know I should just try one, see if it works in simulation, then try the others, then pick the one I like best."
She nodded. Although she may not understand genetics and sequences and all that, she did understand the all-too-human problem of, well, being human. "But?"
"I just can't concentrate. Not enough to start coding like that. And all of these ideas are roiling in my head and I just want to scream." I pressed the balls of my palms against my eyes, breathing deep and trying to ward off the thoughts that surrounded me.
In the past few weeks, our cabin had become a sort of informal meeting place for the Ritan physical revival team. I hadn't meant for that to happen, but after a few weeks the small dozen or so members of the main team had come to expect that my living room would serve as their meeting space. I didn't really mind. I wasn't enjoying this trip at all. I'd been in space, and in this cabin, long enough on my trip from Battia back to Pendor, and now to get cooped up in it for another three months grated on me, especially after only three weeks on Pendorian soil. I had barely had a chance to tell everyone I loved "Hello." I hadn't visited Rhysh, for Osiris' sake. The crowd that occupied my cabin helped keep me sane.
Here in the early part of mid-day, only Cordelia Lear had come by to visit. It felt good to have someone here, but the silence that pressed in on me from all sides finally came to too much as I sat at a big-screen terminal and tried to work. I couldn't work.
She knelt beside my chair. This put her at about the same height as it would me if I stood. "Let's try again, Ken. What's bothering you?"
I shook my head. "Everything. I can't write. I can't work. There's so much to do. The Rotations. The New Terra Project. The llerkin. Digging up Ritacha. Pendor."
She surprised me by taking my hand. She had never been particularly familiar towards me in the past, even if we had only known each other for a few years-- all the time we had ever had. "Ken, will Paul take care of Pendor?"
"Yes, but he can't write the way I can. We both know that."
"So find him a ghost writer."
I snorted. "Like who?"
"Like David? He seems to be ghost-writing an awful lot of your articles already, if I read him right."
"Let an AI editorialize Pendor?" I asked.
"It's not exactly a novel idea," she said. "It's just a matter of deciding." Her hands touched my face. "Pendor is yours. Nobody will ever question that. Just as I can now say, 'Jaqui is my child.' Nobody will take that away from you or me. Let children grow up, Ken. Let Pendor run free without you."
"That will take more courage than I've ever had to show. My first child is still running free through this ship, and still needing her Mom." She smiled. "And I have you to thank for that."
I smiled. "Thank Rachael for blowing up the Simple Needs and getting our attention. We were both lucky in that regard. Where is Jaquenette, anyway? You know, with a name like that, she's doomed to be popular."
Cordelia laughed gently. "She's in a class with some others, playing. I wanted her to be with the few children on board her own age so she would get to know them. And get to know what it's like to be around so many different species."
"As for the llerkin, aren't they taking care of themselves? They've been getting along smashingly with the Han ever since we arrived. Kinship of the lost, I imagine."
"'Smashingly'?" I asked, laughing. "Now there's a phrase out of history!"
Hey eyebrows knitted together. "Was it the wrong word to use?"
"No, no... it's just... it just betrays your Anglo-Saxon roots as being so much deeper than mine. I look human, even pale-skinned, but you, for all your height and fur and strange architecture, still speak as if you were English nobility sometimes."
She shrugged. "I can't help the way everyone around me spoke."
"I'm not saying you should."
She tightened her grip on my hand, squeezing it once to get my attention. "Concentrate on one thing, Ken. Yourself. I've seen what's happening to you before, in Rachael. It's called stress. You do know what stress is, do you not?"
I nodded. "I know it's stress. That doesn't make it any better. It's what I have to do. I know it'll be over eventually. Until then, I just have to live with it."
"No," she said, "You don't. You don't have to live with it. Throw away everything that can be handled by others. You're not an ubermensch no matter how much you pretend otherwise. Beneath that nanotech-enhanced, biocybernetically wired, genetically re-engineered hide is still a human brain in a human being. The same thing is true of me. Up here, I'm no different from you. I know stress. It might not kill you, but for what you've been doing to yourself, the recovery time will be murder."
She let go of my hand and glanced at the screen. "What four techniques were you considering?"
"Do you understand genetic sequencing at this level?"
I sighed. "These four. The trade-offs are between resource load, time, and ease of incorporation into other sequences." I tried to explain.
She waved me off. "Take this technique. Write it down. 'This is what I will do until twelve this afternoon. When I'm done with it, I will go on to sequence two. I will do nothing else.'"
I wrote that down. "There," she continued. "That's your goal. Ignore everything else, or you'll never get anything done. This is your target."
I nodded. "What will I do after twelve?"
"You'll spend the rest of the day with me."
That took me aback. "With you?"
"Yes, with me and Jaquenette. I've never had a chance to get to know you very well, Kennet, and now I should think I'd like to." Her accent, so perfectly English it may have come from some Shakespeare production, sounded so incongruous in such a face.
"Okay, I'll do that. Can I get back to work?"
"Absolutely," she agreed. "Just do that one thing. And when you're done, you're done. Don't go on to another today."
I nodded. Turning back around to the terminal, I banished several windows from sight, zoomed the central window up to full height and width, and set back to working on the coding sequence I had chosen.
Five hours later, I had completed the initial runs. I suspected two problems with waste production, both of which I already had solutions for. I made notes on those solutions, then shut down the terminal. Turning around, I found myself alone. Not only had Cordelia left, but so had the other three or four people I had heard wander in and out during the past five hours. I had played music in my headphones for the while and barely noticed them.
"Where is Cordelia Lear?"
"She is approaching your cabin. Should I ask her to come in?"
"No, that's okay. She's probably headed here anyway." The door opened and Cordelia and Jaquenette walked in.
"Ken!" Jaqui shouted, running into me. Although not yet as tall as I, she does come from a race of giants. The impact took the wind from me.
"Oof! Hi, Jaqui. How are you today?"
"Fine!" the child replied. For someone only four years old, Jaqui is already the perfect coquette, knowing exactly how to look to get something out of grownups.
I laughed and put her back down onto her feet. "So," I said, addressing her mother, "What do you want to do today?"
"I was going to ask you that. Your workday is over, Ken. You've killed yourself enough for one day."
"Well, that depends, then. I haven't eaten anything for the past six hours, so I'm starving. I could use a shower, too, since I didn't take one when I first woke up. I should look in and see what P'nyssa's up to."
"P'nyssa," said the lovely fem in question as she walked through the door, "Has been invited to this little shindig, too."
I walked across the room and took my love into my arms and hugged her fiercely, kissing her and receiving the warm kiss I always adored. "Hi," I said.
"Hi, you," she said. "Del told me that you were having a bad day. I decided to come by and help."
"And do what?"
"Whatever you want."
I sighed and looked at the three fems (sometimes I'm not sure around the Han, who are hermaphroditic. It's hard to ignore breasts as a sign of femininity, I'm so used to them, but Jaquenette looked like a young boy. I still refuse to use the term 'herm') around me. "That's the trouble. I don't want to do anything except work towards to goal of being done."
"Well, we'll think of something. Come on. We're going swimming."
"Swimming?" I asked.
"Yeah, swimming," P'nyssa said, taking my arm. "You know, getting into the public pool?"
I laughed. "So be it."
We made our way down to the swimming area. Although I had only been here a few times during the last voyage, I felt like I knew the place pretty well. The solid floor was almost painfully stippled to prevent slipping-- on the other hand, any child toppling over was almost guaranteed a bloody knee. I don't know if I considered the trade-off all that welcome. But it did seem to work, and bloodied knees were preferable to cracked skulls in anyone's vocabulary.
I slipped into the swimming pool gratefully. Much to my surprise, Jaquenette insisted on wearing some sort of suit to go swimming. "Since when do your children have modesty?" I asked Cordelia.
"I don't know where she got that from. She'll probably take it off as soon as she realizes she's the only one who's not naked." I glanced around-- the area was pretty empty. Six mels all gathered around the hot tub, about a dozen people in the large swimming area proper, nobody in either the sauna or the steam room, nobody in the exercise space overhead. P'nyssa gravitated over to the mels, who, I later learned, were part of the medical team-- the largest contingent we had on board.
The Handele was on a medical rescue operation. The ship bulged with cargo for the Ritan archaeological expedition, including a number of replacements and additions for the planetside crew, but her earlier contingent of over a thousand had been replaced with only four hundred or so, and portions of the ship lay silent and idle.
"You're depressed," Cordelia said.
"The concern of a friend," she said. She hovered supine near to me, her long body even more impressive laid out like that. Her breasts bobbed in the water, the fur around them swaying with her arms as she lazily kept herself on the surface. Her cock, a comfortably large specimen to my perspective, but average for a Han, also broke the surface like a snake. Her flawless red fur, like P'nyssa's indigo, had been trimmed short as part of her effort to keep it out of a patient's insides should she find herself pressed into surgery.
"Yeah, I am. I feel like I'm being kept apart from what I really want by the circumstances around me. I really want to rest, Cordelia."
"I know how that feels," she muttered. "When PRAIOR hit, I knew I would never see another quiet day of rest for a long, long time."
I smiled. "Are you getting rest now?"
She nodded. "Yes I am."
"Good!" I said.
She pivoted to stand up. Standing, her torso came out of the water just below the hips, whereas I was probably up to my chest right here. The size of the Han still surprise me. I'm not quite used to creatures nearly four meters tall walking around, despite all my experience with Centaurs, who often seem to be in a category all their own. The fact that every Han is hung like a... well, not like a Centaur, more a like a Ssphynx, and that means every one... is still more than enough to fill my fantasies for another century or so.
I glanced over at the steam room. "I think I'm going to go warm up."
She followed my gaze. "Never been in one."
"If you wanna try it out, come on, then. Where's Jaqui?"
"I found her," Cordelia said, pointing her out in one corner of the pool with two others about her age. She had removed her suit. "I think she'll be okay. Lance, if Jaqui asks for me, tell her where we are."
"I shall use my discretion, as always."
I climbed out of the pool-- Cordelia merely stepped. The steamroom was as I had observed before: empty. Little more than a white-tiled hallway with two wide benches made of marble on either side, it felt wonderfully warm , especially after the swimming pool. I hadn't felt quite so warm and enveloped as I did right there in that hot, steamy bath. I sat down on one of the benches with my legs crossed, closed my eyes, and merely sighed. "Good."
"It's nice," she said. "You can feel it when you breathe."
"Yeah," I smiled. "That's something I especially appreciate. You can take it into your lungs and really feel it." I looked across at her. "Is it just me, or is there a certain amount of tension around here?"
She laughed. "You noticed."
"You're the only Han on board," I pointed out. "You and Jaquenette. You must be feeling out of place. I'm feeling out of place. Are you feeling out of place?"
"A little," she admitted. "I'm learning. People on board, especially the Terrans, always asking me questions." She sighed. "I owe you an apology, by the way."
"Oh? What for?"
"For the last four years, I guess," she said. "I have this nagging sensation that I have been a nuisance to you."
I blinked. "What? Hell, if anything, you were a blessing to me, Del. You stayed out of the way when that was the right thing to do, and you got in the way when that was the right thing to do. More than once, you offered the best solution. You let P'nyssa teach you how to do midwifery, which must have been hard to admit-- that she was better qualified to birth Han babies than you were."
She shrugged. "It was difficult but I don't think you would expect me to do otherwise. We could not afford to lose a single child in birth nor a single mother. P'nyssa and Tella were our best hope."
"Good call, doctor," I chuckled. I pushed myself off the bench with a jerk, letting momentum carry me across the room, and landed solidly beside her. I leaned my head against her arm as a gesture of friendship. "You've been fine. Rachael has been a pain in the ass, but that's her job."
Cordelia giggled. "Yes, that is. That's what the boss does." Her large hand came down and surrounded my thigh, squeezing back.
"Thank you, Del."
"Dunno. For not being afraid."
"I am afraid," she said. "I'm afraid that I'll come between what you and Lindsay have, for one thing. I'm afraid that I'll muck this up and you will never speak to me again."
"What Lindsay and I have is a friendship and love that doesn't need renewing all the time, and that you just can't come between. She has Olivia and Maia and that's what she wants. She's off to her own life. What's important about Lindsay is that she's come to learn that she is a whole person, even if she isn't the person who died one day on New Haven."
"That must be so hard to live with."
"I don't think so." I asked. "We wake up every morning and we can't be sure of what we were yesterday. Lindsay's version of that is just a little more present in her mind. But she's managed. She has lovers, friends, and now a child, with a second on the way. Bless her, Del, for being what she is. There's a Ritan who's going to go through the same thing soon."
Del nodded. "So you like me?"
I laughed. "Will you jump up and down if I say yes?"
"No, but it would give me a warm and fuzzy feeling."
I cracked up. Which I imagine is what she intended. Those words wrapped around that accent just didn't add up completely. "You're already fuzzy and it's already warm, but okay... Del, I like you a lot."
"I like you, too." She inhaled the hot air, held it, then let it out. "And there goes a great deal of tension with that confession." I looked up at her, giving her my best puzzled expression. She explained, "I didn't know how to say that." She shrugged. "When I was a little girl, fem--"
"You can say girl. It translates."
"Okay, when I was a little girl, I heard stories about you. Stories about how you were one of the most powerful men in the universe. I used to sit on Sarah Greave's knee and listen to her talk about the world she'd left behind. You were never far from her thoughts."
I smiled with sad memories, visualizing the young English woman with dark brown hair who had so passionately adored and denounced me half a millennia ago. We had met several times and each time I felt like she engaged in a kind of uncomfortable hero worship. I felt she wanted so much to be me but not on the terms I had paid.
I looked down at Cordelia's hand. She wore a ring on her thumb, third, and fourth fingers. "Del? I've never asked a Han before. What do the rings mean?" I pointed to her hand.
"I'm told it's from Ireland. That's a national region on Terra." I nodded. I knew of it. "Each finger represents something and you wear rings for each one. It's a rhyme." She pointed to her fourth finger (is that the pinkie finger on a four-fingered person?). "One is for sorrow, two is for mirth, three is for passion, and four is for birth."
Her voice had a beautiful lilt. "I like it. Do you always wear the first ring? I've never seen anyone without a sorrow ring."
"I don't think any of the thirty-seven survivors will ever be without them. We lost too many friends. I think we'll all always wear it. And the second, too, probably. We have a lot to be happy about today."
"Good. That will make a lot of people on Pendor happy to hear. And the other two?"
"Well, the one around the thumb means you've had a child. And this one is for when you're in love." She grinned. "I'm not in love right now. Olivia's probably wearing one of these, though."
I nodded, rolling my eyes. "That is one of the most unlikely relationships I've ever put together. I can't believe how well they get along. And I think that if they ever broke up, Olivia would spend a lot of time putting her desires for a penis as big as Lindsay's out of her mind."
We were silent together. "Feeling more normal?" Cordelia asked.
"No," I sighed. "Still feeling like my head is stuffed, like I have nothing to laugh about and nobody to talk to. And what's so weird is that I have you to talk to. I just feel... humorless, you know? I haven't had a good laugh in way too long."
"You're working too hard and too long, Ken."
I sighed. "I know. And I don't even know why I'm doing it."
Cordelia tilted her head down and looked at me. In a Han, that's a literal gesture. The Han have very long and supple necks-- Cordelia's was almost thirty centimeters long, and the loose skin about it made it possible, even simple for her to turn her head 180 degrees and look behind her, or stick it out and down at me. "You're saving the Terrans, the llerkin, the Han, and the Ritans. Isn't that what you want to do?"
I avoided the question. "Are you hot?"
She nodded. "Yes. Going into the pool?"
"No, but I wouldn't mind us sitting down and talking out there. You can watch Jacqui."
We got up and walked out of the steam room. Although heaters kept the pool area warm enough to walk about naked, compared to the steam room it was a blast of cool air as I stepped out. We found a table and sat down. "Lance, could you bring me something cool to drink?"
"Root beer," I chuckled. "I haven't had that in a long time."
"Done. And for you, Cordelia?"
"Iced tea, Lance. Thank you."
"My pleasure." A minute later, a short Mustela dropped the drinks off at my table. His downward arrow of white fur that descended over the head and terminated just under his chin revealed his rare grison genes and I found myself admiring the large lump that he barely contained in a pair of cutoffs. "Here you are. Beer for you, Ken?"
"Oeter," he said. "And an ice tea for you." He dropped them off and disappeared as efficiently as he had appeared. His retreat revealed an equally desirable pair of buttocks. "Pretty," I commented.
"I should be used to that by now," she mentioned. "You staring at everything that moves."
"Was I staring?" I blinked. "I guess I was. There might yet be hope for me. The second I start noticing other people, I know I'm on my way to a cure."
"This has happened before?"
I nodded. "Happens every once in a while. Usually when I don't know where I am in respect to a project and I don't know where I'm going with it. I really don't know what I'm going to say to those two males down in sickbay when we wake them up and I don't know what I'm going to say to the hundred who first wake up. All I can do is hope and pray that I do the right thing." I took a sip of the beer, the choked. "Wow. Good."
"May I?" I handed her the glass. She took a sip, made a face, then put it down. "Too sweet."
"Suit yourself," I said.
"Can I join you?" said P'nyssa's voice over my shoulder.
"Sure, sweetheart," I said. "Pick a chair."
She pulled one over and sat with us. "Doctor Lear has described you as being depressed. That sounds about right. I suggest a cure."
"And that would be?"
"The both of us. Tonight."
"That's a cure I can live with!" It was hard to say that around a smile. "What if the cure doesn't take?"
Cordelia took my hand. "We'll repeat as necessary."
"Treatment could require a significant investment on the part of the medical staff," I pondered.
"We are willing to go to heroic measures for the patient," Cordelia intoned seriously.
"I see," I said, laughing. "What do we start with?"
"We'll start eventually," P'nyssa said. "By the way, I talked to an old friend of mine, Jim at Fahrring Castle. Remember him?"
The name didn't ring a bell but I'm terrible with names. She caught the thought easily-- for some reason our telepathy had been working well on this trip. "Anyway, we talked about you. Gossipy things. I mentioned Tylia. He knows her."
"Coincidence?" I asked.
"No," she said thoughtfully. "It seems Miss Mehran isn't telling you something."
"She's a telepath?"
"No," P'nyssa said, dragging out the mystery. "We don't know what she is."
That "we" sent a creep up my spine, reminding me again that 'paths sometimes think of themselves as a cohesive identity separate from the rest of us, "the locked" as they sometimes call those of us who are closed up into our own skulls. "How can you not know?"
"Psi isn't an exact science. We can't easily measure it on a scale or with a machine. We test, we try things, we see what works. He says we tried a lot of things on her and she did okay as a receiver but she can't listen; she not an empath or a sympath or a sender. She's definitely not a 'teek or 'tech. A 'teep in the room said she was doing all the tests honestly but nothing was happening."
"So how do you assume she's a 'path at all? Lots of people can receive without having any measurable talent."
"Because when a powerpath touches her, he feels a definite drain. She has an opening of the way and she uses power for it." P'nyssa shrugged her shoulders.
"Maybe she's just a ground." Rarely, 'paths were born with no talents at all. They could create the 'pathic sensations (nobody with talent has ever been able to explain to me clearly exactly what that means) and they drain from powerpaths but they couldn't actually do anything with it.
"Jim doesn't think so."
P'nyssa waited before answering, glancing over to Cordelia, who had been listening intently but without comment. "Because he said she was afraid during the tests. Afraid of what the testers might find, he thinks."
"Afraid of what she might be?"
"Maybe," she said. "He didn't know. I don't either."
"So should I be careful?" I asked. "Worried?"
"You should be informed," P'nyssa said while glancing at her watch. "Because he told me something else. Two years ago, when she had just turned eleven, another child in the village where she lived committed suicide. He was fourteen."
"Coincidence?" I asked. "Teenage suicides are sad, but they happen."
"Could be. Anyway, apparently the day before he did it, he and Tylia had some kind of fight."
"But the town AI doesn't think anything happened?"
She shook her head. "No, the AI reported nothing suspicious at all."
"I'll be careful. It's probably just coincidence, though."
She nodded, then glanced up at a clock on the wall. "Ohmifah, it's fifteen already."
My insides greeted the announcement with a pronounced rumble. Putting aside the serious news for now, I said, "Sounds like it's getting to be around dinnertime."
"Only in your stomach," P'nyssa replied, grinning. "Considering how you've managed to stuff yourself at both ends and still ask for more in the past, it's no surprise that you're hungry now. When was the last time you ate?"
I felt sure with her authority as a doctor she had already acquired that information from Lance. It took me a moment to recall that, other than a small bowl of popcorn around six or so, I hadn't eaten anything since a hefty breakfast. Considering the Pendorian jacked-up metabolism, I wondered why I hadn't felt hungry before now. "Breakfast," I finally admitted.
"Mm-hmm," she nodded. "You need food."
"I'll cook," I offered.
"No, you won't. I've already had dinner delivered to our cabin."
"Shall we go?"
"I need to see to Jaqui," Cordelia said. "I'll catch up with you in a minute."
"Where is everybody?" I asked as we walked into the cabin. Usually, there were a few people just lounging around.
"I told them to clear out," P'nyssa said pointedly.
The smell told me instantly what P'nyssa chose for dinner. "Pizza?"
"Two forty-five centimeter pizzas, one Sicilian, one Napoli. The Sicilian has pepperoni." She grinned. "And the Napoli is ham and pineapple."
"Gross!" I protested. "A blatant violation of the salt-sugar law!"
Cordelia appeared at the door. "What's the salt-sugar law?"
"Hi, Del. The basic rule of cooking for mels. Never mix salt and sugar. Don't put whipped cream on nachos, or peanuts in ice-cream." I laughed. "It's not really a rule. But sometimes it needs to be invoked." I gave P'nyssa my best glare. "Like when someone contaminates good mozzarella with pineapple!"
"But it's good pineapple," P'nyssa giggled. She opened the top box. "This one's yours." She slid the box to the side and opened the one underneath. "Better!"
She passed a piece to Cordelia while I took some of my own. The Han ate one slice of hers, then one of mine, and decided she liked mine better. "He's right, Nyss. The sweet pineapple just is not appropriate."
"See?" I said. "Told you you were heathen."
I ate at least five pieces, so much that I could barely move afterwards. My system slowly percolated as carbohydrates entered my bloodstream. I started to feel better. "Whoof," I said, lying back against the couch. "I'm full."
I looked over at the two of them. P'nyssa barely stood half of Cordelia's height, and probably one fifth her weight. Cordelia's people had an essentially feline fur color scheme, and Cordelia had perfect red fur that complimented her golden eyes, but that mixed with a body nearly four meters in length, half a meter making up her neck. The Han have very large eyes which seem to stare at you even when their owner isn't, and a short, feline muzzle tipped with an almost mustelid nose. All in all, a most peculiar mix.
And they had head hair. I said, "You know, you have beautiful hair. Getting the American Shorthair fur coloring into such long tresses must have been quite a feat. Either that or totally unexpected."
"I don't think they meant for me to look like this," Cordelia said. "I was told once that they hoped for the best with us, not knowing what they'd really have."
"They got very lucky."
Her ears flattening slightly in embarrassment. "I'm glad you think so."
I stood up and walked towards her. She sat on the floor, but her head was even with my own. She had just to tilt upwards a few centimeters to look into my eyes. I kissed her.
She kissed back, her mouth opening soon to allow our tongues to meet. Her tongue felt huge against my own, yet neither of us balked. I felt heat rising in me and I felt it radiating from her. While much of my desire felt raw and physical, some of it definitely came just because I liked Cordelia. Which felt odd to me because I had never really done much with her. Unlike Lindsay, who I knew well, Cordelia had mostly tried to stay out of my way.
Her hands clasped my hips while we kissed. It still felt weird. I wasn't used to sleeping with giants. I was standing, and she sat with her butt on the ground, and yet we were able to kiss, but her hands on my hands pulled downwards with the kind of weight I usually felt when someone was giving me head.
I felt warm mittens upon my back as P'nyssa touched me. I stopped kissing Cordelia long enough to say, "Let's get naked again."
"Good idea," P'nyssa replied. Cordelia didn't even stand as she rolled and tossed off the short shorts she wore. P'nyssa tore off her robe and threw it aside, and my jeans joined it in one corner of the room. She headed for the bedroom.
I grinned at Cordelia. "After spending the afternoon with you two naked, this isn't as exciting as I would have thought." I looked over Cordelia appreciatively. The perfect red fur of her body covered everything, even the incautious patch of untrimmed fur that hid her prepuce from my sight. I smiled. "You know, if we could find a Ssphynx with perfect Persian White, we could turn you three into a French flag."
P'nyssa returned from the bedroom, tossing a large, fluffy quilt blanket onto the floor and taking a seat on it. "There."
I sat down next to her. We entered into what I sometimes think of as The Awkward Moments, when nobody is quite sure what they're going to do in all of this. Sometimes that's negotiated-- like, tonight, I would have expected the two of them to take control, as P'nyssa had hinted at earlier. But they didn't have a plan, and neither did I.
Cordelia sat down next to me and didn't allow the Awkward Moment to last very long. She put a massive paw on my shoulder and pulled me close to her. With her long, sinuous neck, she was able to kiss me without having to bend over very much at all, although I was craning my neck upwards to meet her.
Her large tongue met mine. She was an enthusiastic and unrestrained a kisser as P'nyssa. As we kissed that heat rose between us once more. I could feel her desire. I wanted her. She wanted me.
I heard, or perhaps felt, P'nyssa maneuvering behind me, and what she was doing to Cordelia I have no idea, but it made Cordelia shudder with delight and moan loudly against my mouth. P'nyssa answered my inquisitiveness with a simple "She's as hung as Aaden, Ken. And she's only average!"
I giggled and looked down. Cordelia's ears lowered again. "Are you blushing?" I asked, watching her nose darken as she nodded. "Why? You're average."
"No, Aaden is big for his size. You are average for your size. The fact that you're about as big as my lover means that I'd be able to take you without much difficulty." I grinned. "If that's what you want."
"Actually," she said, starting to push me down to the blanket, "I want you." I lay down on my back. She lay beside me, her head over my lap, and without much pause took my cock into her mouth.
I gasped. Her tongue, large against my tongue, now literally swaddled my cock. Her mouth was hot and she kept her teeth away from my cock. She positioned herself next to me, in what would have been an inviting position if she had been anywhere near my scale. As it was, I could barely reach her cock if I extended my arms up above my head as far as I could, but her breasts, average-sized domes of loveliness against her chest, were well within reach at just about my shoulders. I looked down and noticed that her head was as wide as my pelvis, her muzzle large enough to take both my cock and my balls inside it. Her soft tongue worked on my shaft without her having to move very much. I was in heaven. The closest experience to this was receiving head from a Pamthreat, with their large, variform tongues.
Cordelia's head bobbed up and down very slowly, letting her tongue do most of the work on my cock. My hands were in her hair, which fell down across my belly and chest in soft, flowing cascades of red. She was so good. I caught myself breathing hard.
Cordelia suddenly stopped, a whimper glowing from inside her. I wondered what had happened, then tilted my head back to look down at her crotch. P'nyssa was doing something with her hands. She winked at me.
I closed my eyes and just lay there, enjoying the sensations of Cordelia's mouth. She played with my cock, rolling it about with her tongue. She kept taking both my balls and my cock into her mouth. I was nowhere near big enough to choke her, a fact for which I was grateful. I wondered if she would be surprised to learn that I probably wouldn't choke on her, either.
I felt my cock throb with need in response to her sucking. She had me much closer to orgasm than I wanted to be. "Del... close." I figured she deserved a little warning. It didn't stop her, and I knew I was going to come when the palm of her huge hand slipped up between my legs and lifted me towards her mouth. I felt like I was being eaten alive, and in a moment of blinding pleasure and need I came. Her tongue milked my cock, making me come all the harder, making it last just a little longer.
I felt Cordelia's hand relax, and I seemed to slip out of her grip in a kind of slow motion as she rolled away from me, onto her back. I looked down to see P'nyssa playing with her, but I couldn't see what. After a few seconds of pleasurable aftershocks, I crawled over to see that she had managed to slip an entire mitten into Cordelia's cunt. She was slowly turning and twisting her fleshy, boneless mitt inside her, making her squirm. I looked down at Cordelia's cock and decided that turnabout was fair play. "May I?" I asked, directing my comment at P'nyssa.
"You may," she giggled. I leaned over Cordelia's crotch and licked along the hardened length of her cock. It was a lovely cock, the same dark brown shade as her nose, relatively smooth. I could see one thick vein running up the underside from out of her prepuce, but other than that it was a straight, smooth shaft. I took the tip of it into my mouth (it didn't really have a clear head) and began working my way down the length.
"Oh, God," Cordelia groaned. "Ken, you can't..."
"Mmm-hmm..." I managed to say around the thick shaft I was now working towards the back of my throat. It eased itself in. My eyes looked down the length of it, down between her legs to where P'nyssa's ten was sticking out of her cunny. What a complex creature she is, with both sets of genitals like that. I swallowed hard, inhaled deeply through my nose, and then swallowed again, this time lunging forwards just a little bit, just enough to get the tip of her cock down my throat and past the valve that regulates eating from breathing. She gasped again as my lips closed around the opening of her sheath, pushed against it, took just a little bit more of her.
Her body shuddered. P'nyssa was almost fucking Cordelia with her hand, and I could hear both of them moaning, P'nyssa intelligibly. "That's it, Del. Come on. Little more."
Cordelia gasped hard. "Oh, God, oh..." I pulled off her cock until the tip was again in the back of my throat, exhaled once, inhaled once, and then slid that cock of hers back down my throat where I could feel it. Her belly tensed hard, and with a powerful thrash she exploded, her cock pulsing come down my throat. I pulled back just enough to get one shot of it against my tongue. I gasped, proud of myself, happy for her, wondering what was going through her mind as P'nyssa relaxed.
"Ease up, Del, ease up," P'nyssa said. "You okay?"
"I shall be," Cordelia gasped. "I don't believe you two! Do you come as a matched set all the time?"
I giggled. "No, not usually, even. Why?"
"That... that was the most amazing thing I've felt in... ages! You had your whole hand inside me!"
P'nyssa shrugged. "I have small mittens without any bones in them, and you have a cunt for penises that size," she said, pointing at Cordelia's softening member. "And I wouldn't be impressed with Ken's ability, either. It's the result of centuries of practice."
I laughed. "Hey, I'm still impressed with that ability!"
P'nyssa giggled. "I'm sure you are, dear. Your ego is easily inflated."
I shook my head but smiled at her comment. Once, her words would have bitten. Now, they were just part of the background noise. Sometimes I do need to be reminded that my ego can easily get out of hand.
She glanced down between my legs. "As is your cock, Ken. Ready for second?"
I hadn't even noticed. "Huh? Yeah, sure. But you haven't come yet!"
"I'll take care of that," Cordelia mentioned softly. "Lie down, doctor. This won't hurt a bit."
P'nyssa looked at me. We had an oral sex enthusiast in our midst. Good, that made three of us. Cordelia stretched out along the length of the floor, half her body off the rug as she descended between P'nyssa's legs. Knowing how talented her tongue was, I figured P'nyssa was in for a treat. I gathered some scattered throw pillows and leaned against them, slowly stroking my cock as I watched them. It did look a little like Cordelia was trying to literally eat and swallow P'nyssa, the difference in their sizes was that drastic. P'nyssa looked like a morsel caught within some giant's muzzle, which in a sense she was.
But I decided that I couldn't keep my hands off of them. Cordelia's tail swished back and forth rapidly, gleefully as slurping sounds came from where she met P'nyssa. I caught it with one hand and pinned it down.
She tugged at it a few times, but didn't let it interfere with what she was currently involved in. I rose and slid between her legs, releasing her tail and letting it swing freely back and forth. Cordelia's buttocks invited me to touch them, caress them. They weren't particularly special, not like the inverted heart-shape of P'nyssa's or the tight boyishness of Nishipo's, but I still like asses and Cordelia's were inviting. I stroked her fur softly, running my fingers over the wide, gentle curves of her overscale body, letting my fingertips probe between her cheeks. A soft "Oh!" let me know that I had hit upon a good formula. With delicate pressure from both hands I parted her cheeks, exposing the tiny dark-brown hole. Even though her body was upscale compared to the average hominid, her anus still performed the same function and still had the same ultimate requirement: a hermetic seal when not in use.
I bent over and nuzzled her ass with my mouth, kissing first the spot where tail met body, then down a centimeter until my lips hovered barely out of contact with her flesh. She trembled once, and when my lips kissed her hole she groaned in pleasure. She didn't stop or question me, and I figured I had found a fair target. I licked softly, letting my tongue describe slow, careful circles about her anus.
She let her hips pump slowly in response to my actions, telling me with gestures that I was doing what she wanted, or at least what she was willing to accept. P'nyssa, typically silent during oral sex, was clearly enjoying what Cordelia was doing, letting out small moans of her own.
I pressed with my tongue against that tight hole, spreading it open. The taste was musky but clean; after a good shower and an afternoon in the swimming pool, there was little chance of there being anything unpleasant on her. I licked and probed, deeper, spreading open her asshole.
A familiar, loud moan told me that P'nyssa had come under Cordelia's tongue. I looked up just in time to see her body fall back to the blanket, exhausted. I didn't interfere in what they were doing at all, just allowed myself to watch.
"Ken," Cordelia said. "Get inside me. In my ass."
I was a little surprised, but then I'd been spending the last ten minutes or so seducing her butthole. On my knees, I parted her legs slightly, and I pressed my cock between her cheeks. With a little pressure, it slid in.
"Oh, my!" Cordelia gasped, in that English accent. I almost giggled. "It's so... different!"
"Does it hurt?" P'nyssa asked.
"Not at all! Oh, Ken, please..."
I slowly slid in deeper, letting her anus grip my cock. I had managed to loosen her hole with my tongue so completely that she was ready to allow me to do anything. I placed my hands on her back, just at her pelvis (where else was I to put them?) and began stroking back and forth.
Gods, it was weird. Good, but weird. She looked so big, even compared to Lindsay, that I didn't know what to make of it. My cock, on the other hand, knew exactly what was going on; it was surround by a hot, tight hole, and as I fucked Cordelia's asshole I closed my eyes and concentrated on the solid feeling of her firm buttocks. With each stroke, I bounced against her. Her tail whipped back and forth against my belly. When I opened my eyes I could see my cock disappearing between her asscheeks with each thrust. I gave P'nyssa a smile and she gave it back as her hands caressed Cordelia's head.
Cordelia, for her part, was giving out little whimpers as her hips pumped and met me with every time I pushed into her. I was surprised at how hot she felt, how much she responded to being assfucked.
It didn't matter. I wasn't lasting this time. And that was probably for the best, since I had just taken one of her virginities. I lay down against her back, my head barely between her shoulderblades, and let my hips do all the work, fucking her hard. In only a few more second, I came, hard.
"Oh... oh my," I gasped, and then laughed. I had just said the same thing I had thought sounded so odd coming from Cordelia. As I slid out of her, I checked and my cock came out clean. P'nyssa tossed me a towel anyway, and I wiped myself off. The towel was warm, damp, and smelled of fresh lemons.
"Thanks," I said as I eased myself out from between Cordelia's legs and collapsed next to them. "You okay?"
"I thought that was going to hurt! It was wonderful!"
"After a few minutes of analingus, you just seemed to be ready."
"I was! Thank you!" She pulled me towards her and hugged me. I felt like a rag doll in her powerful grip.
"Hey," I said, laughing, "You're very welcome. I'm the one who got to come."
"It felt like I was just having one long, soft orgasm while you were inside me. It was amazing."
"No, Cordelia, you're amazing." I looked over at the table, grabbed myself a piece of cold pizza, and stuffed it into my face. "Anyone else want a piece?"
"Yes, please," Cordelia replied. P'nyssa brought out three bottles. I took the root beer again, they both took fruit juices.
"He never eats well," P'nyssa said, shaking her head.
"I should probably head back to my cabin soon," Cordelia said.
"Why? What did you do with Jaqui?"
"She's staying with a friend tonight. But you don't have a bed big enough for me, surely."
"Wanna bet?" P'nyssa said with a grin. "We could sleep four centaurs comfortably in our bed."
"Come see," she said, standing up. She offered her hand to Cordelia, then realized what a pointless gesture that would have been. The Han stood up and followed her to the bedroom. "I guess I will spend the night," she said after looking at the bed. "I could use the bathroom right now, though."
"Right through there," P'nyssa pointed. 'It, however, probably isn't sized for you."
"I'll make it fit."
While she was in there, P'nyssa sat down next to me. "Well?"
"I think we'll need a second dose, probably. I hope that won't be too much burden, Doctor."
"No, I don't think it will." She giggled. "Come on. Let's wait for her in bed."
I rose and followed. It was an interesting experience, sleeping next to such a large, humanoid body. It wasn't like being with a 'taur, because their bodies are shaped differently and I had come to expect those difference. Even though the tallest Uncia reach three meters, not a few of the tallest Han reach four. But she was a comforting, friendly presence, and after a half hour of my just lying next to her and admiring her, touching her, and getting willing coos from her when I did, I finally drifted off.