"Knock, knock," Nickolai said aloud.
"Kolya!" Jofuran literally shouted as she threw herself at him. "I missed you!"
He laughed in honest joy as she fell into his arms. "Missed you too, beloved. Missed you so much. Even 'though it was only four days."
"I know. It was a special kind of missing, though."
He nodded. She trusted him to know exactly what she meant. "So," she said, "Did you and Liz..."
"She took," Nickolai said. Something peculiar had crept into his voice when he said that. Or maybe she was just imagining it. She looked up at him. "What?" he asked.
She shook her head. "I'm just being silly. I, um, spent the night with P'nyssa Traken."
It was Nickolai's turn to give her a weird look. "Doing what?"
"Just sleeping, actually."
"Just sleeping?" he asked.
"Well, that and crying. I was so scared!"
He nodded. "I was pretty scared too. I hadn't realized just how long it had been since I had touched someone with skin." He held her close. "Can I ask you a serious favor, Jofuran?"
She felt a coldness run down her belly and she used it to brace herself. "What, Kolya?"
"Can I spend time with Elizabeth after this?"
An answer was a long time coming. She couldn't even get the wheels in her head to turn for an answer. She didn't want to give him an answer. Her whole body physically paralyzed her to prevent her from coming up with one. But finally she did answer. "If you really want to, Nickolai."
His response was to pull her into a huge hug. "Thank you! Thank you, thank you, Furry! I was so afraid you wouldn't understand."
Furry's heart tore itself in half with conflict. She didn't understand. She wanted him all to herself; she didn't want to lose him. And she felt she had no right to hold him back, to make him a prisoner of her desires and of the way she thought the relationship should go.
That night, she found herself lying in bed next to a Nickolai she didn't know. He was tossing slightly and she knew he wasn't quite asleep but he wasn't quite awake either. That hadn't happened to him in a long time. "Kolya?"
"Huh?" he mumbled, raising his head only slightly.
"No." He fluffed at his pillow, punching it, trying to make it behave.
She reached out with a hand to touch his shoulder, and he almost seemed to flinch at her touch. "Why not?"
"Dunno," he said. "Just can't seem to get to sleep."
"Wanna do something that'll make you tired?" she asked.
"Like?" he said.
"We could make love." She tried to keep the same lyrical lilt she always used, but this time she heard her voice echo in her ears as desperate. Or sarcastic. She wanted his attention but felt like it would be wrong to demand it. She wanted his touch and couldn't bring herself to ask for it. "I mean, if you want to."
He leaned over her and kissed her muzzle. "Do you want to?"
"I could be talked into it," she said.
"Really?" he asked.
"Really," she said.
He rolled over on top of her, between her legs, and she opened herself for him. He wasn't hard yet. "You're not just doing this because I've been with Liz for four days, are you?"
"I missed you," she protested in her defense. "I want you."
"I want you, too," he replied, his cock growing harder as they gently rubbed one against the other. "I don't know if I can, though; she's quite a drain."
"I feel it growing," she giggled, suddenly feeling relieved that he was becoming erect. He slid into her with a little effort; she wasn't quite wet yet and his cock hurt a little as it entered her. But once he was inside her body she felt complete again, she felt that she had her Nickolai as a part of her life again. "Oh, Kolya," she moaned. "Yes "
"Yes," he gasped in reply as he began making love to her. She felt the familiar impact of his flesh against hers, the hiss of his breath in her ears. She could take this kind of lovemaking forever, the attention of her beloved coimelin atop her, taking her away and pleasing her in ways that no other mel had ever achieved. His cock was inside her, stroking back and forth, barely striking at the back wall of her cunt, filling and emptying and making her whole again. She moaned softly, her hands stroking his chest, touching his bare skin. She caressed his nipples as she knew he liked and he tossed his head back and gasped.
She reveled in his attention. "I love you," she gasped.
"I love you too," he replied. "God, Furry, I love you so much." His body was hard now, like his cock, his muscles tight and she knew they would ache after this, ache as hers did when she did the work, especially late at night when the body wanted to do nothing more than be still. They were together again, and in some ways she felt thrilled to have his attention. She would keep him, she would hold him forever. And when he came, she blessed him for being a part of her life.
Later, though, as his breathing deepened and he fell back into a restful sleep, she found herself staring at the opposite wall where, earlier that week, Nickolai had finally deciphered the ancient graffiti only to discover it was a droll and predictable "Fiftern loves Mepaij." She wondered about Fiftern and Mepaij; she didn't know which was the mel and which the fem, and she hoped they had had long and happy lives, together or apart.
She couldn't get Elizabeth out of her mind. Liz was a beautiful woman underneath all her bravado; even Furry had admitted to that after meeting her. It had been so anti-climatic, a 'Nice to meet you' kind of thing. Furry found herself trusting Liz to do the right thing, and she trusted Nickolai as well.
But he was so optimistic, so cheerful about the world. That outlook often made her feel good, but it also meant Kolya sometimes got taken advantage of. A few of the places they had dug up in their career she knew now they would never have chosen if it hadn't been Nickolai's willingness to believe that, no matter what, the trip would be interesting. And somehow he made it interesting. He had always made her smile.
She thought about meeting Elizabeth. She had liked her. And she had been surprised by the necklace Liz had been wearing. "You're a Christian?" she had asked, pointing to the golden crucifix.
"Yes I am," Liz had said. "Is that a problem?"
Furry had shaken her head. "No, just a curiosity."
That incident came back to her now. For the first time in her life, Furry wished for someone bigger than herself to come in and fix the problem, or to have an explanation for why the problem bigger than herself happened in the first place. She wanted someone who would listen to her prayers.
The idea made her smile through the pain. It was such an absurd idea to her. She had read somewhere the notion of Ken Shardik as a second-hand god, one you could thank (or blame) for your existence but who you couldn't ask for help since, in truth, he was as limited as you were. Maybe that were true but she wondered this night who he thanked, if anyone at all.
Her thoughts were becoming less coherent and she couldn't marshal them into any rational pattern. That was probably just as well. She tried, and failed. And her next thoughts were dreams.