Coffee

Noren, Yavar 03, 1029

I sat on the bench, elbows on my knees, idly sipping a cup of coffee. The mug was over-sized, one of those things we one-time caffeine addicts are proud to own, enamel white as a mug should be, and inscribed with the signatures, most in Quen but one or two in Ameranglic, of Alpha's crew circa the Vulpins. The air whistled by, late summer hot as Tylia and I watched the sun go down from Monastery Island, Pandora.

"I still can't believe you did that," I said, pointing to her suit of powered armor. It had been a gift; the armor was four centuries old, horribly out of date, but the perfect thing for the young woman I hoped would someday take my job. I had long ago learned powered armor. It was her turn, too.

"It's mine," she said. "I can do what I want." Indeed, she could. The armor had been non-camouflage, just a paint job at the time, nighttime dark, mottled. Tylia had taken it and turned it bright, sky blue, the kind of color one expects to see in, well, in a young girl's bedroom. It was the color of cartoon kittens with big eyes and happy smiles in shiny faces. It was kawaii.

Damn thing gave me the shivers just looking at it.

"Are you okay?" she asked me. "You've been quiet the past couple of days."

I smiled tiredly. "Yeah, I'm okay. Just going through some existential angst, I guess." I looked up into her warm, glittery eyes. "Not like you, after all. After a millennium of having it pounded into me that there are no ultimate answers, I wonder why I bother doing this." I pointed up toward the sky, and Alpha. "Why I build species, save other ones."

She suddenly looked very concerned. "Are you joking?"

I sipped at my coffee and shrugged. "What's the point? The universe is going to end someday, right? Am I just setting up the entire universe for some really big letdown, or is something else going to happen before then?"

She knelt next to me. "You're not thinking of moving on, are you?"

"Oh, Gods, no," I said. "I don't believe in a next life, Tylia, so giving up this one would be an infinitely bad decision." I sighed. "I wish Paul and Carroll had shared that sentiment. I just wonder what I do it for."

"Oh, good," she sighed, laying her head in my lap. At times, that might have seemed like an erotic gesture, but these days I tended to mood swing between those feelings and the ones I was currently having. It was aftershocks, I told myself, the kind of thing I should be feeling after two people for whom I had cared deeply committed suicide on the one hand and finding another person who trusted and loved me so much on the other.

"I'm told it isn't unusual," she said.

"What?"

"To think about it. Moving on. After someone you love has." She claims she's not a telepath, but sometimes it sure seems that way. She is psi-sensitive. Maybe it's just subliminal. "It's such a drastic thing for someone to do, thinking about it is something you shy away from. But then someone actually does it, and then you have to talk about it, to get it out of you. It also reminds you. You know what I'm saying?"

I reached down with the gesture we had reserved for when I wanted her to jump into my lap. She did so eagerly, wrapping her arms around my shoulders. "I know you what you mean," I told her.

"You better. I was just getting used to you. No fair leaving me without all my lessons learned."

"How long will it take you to learn all of them, my dirty snowflake?" I asked, stroking on her head.

"Forever!" she said with a grin. She glanced out over the ocean as the last vestiges of the sun disappeared behind the horizon. "I know why we do it," she said.

"You do?" I asked. "Then tell me."

"Because, despite everything else that you may think is useless, Ken, you know deep inside that there is a destiny that we're heading toward. Everything points to it. Whether by accident or the design the universe we live in makes things grow more complicated. Somehow, some way. Some miracle makes being co-operative interesting, on the atomic level, the molecular level, the cellular level, the animal level, the social level."

I grinned. "You read too much."

"It's true!"

"I know. I said the same thing, more or less, in a Journal Entry that you've probably read." I chuckled. "But that still doesn't explain our destiny, or even mean that we have one."

"I'm not quoting some apocryphal end-of-the-universe stuff, Ken. Just saying..."

"Yeah, I know." I hugged her. For a brief moment that old randiness returned as I felt her warm body against mine. For a brief second... "You are why I do it, Tylia. You and every Pendorian like you." I paused. "You know, there's going to come a time when some segment of the people around us will choose to become something else, something even more organized, more complicated, more directly integrated into that destiny you talk about. And some of us will be left behind. I wonder if that's what the Christians will call The Rapture. Forgive me, though, if I have my doubts that there'll be anything as catastrophic as the Final Judgment."

She looked at me querulously. "One of those Terran myths, right?"

I nodded. "Yep."

She grinned. "It must be nice to know the future. Even if it's the wrong one. Even if it's a bad one."

"Mythical apocalypses are never bad for the believers." I stroked her cheek. The warmth grew between us. It had been growing for months. I loved her as completely, as totally as I could possibly love anyone. She had stepped in at the wrong moment, really, and become my lover because it was what she wanted, even more than I had wanted it. In a moment we found ourselves in the midst of a kiss, warm, slow, easy. There was a rapture, and I had long known where to find it.

And what surprised me most was the honesty with which she approached every kiss, every conversation, every action. She never lied to me, didn't try to hold away the truth.

"By the way," she said as our kiss ended. "I know the answer to your question."

"Which question?" I asked.

"How many different types of person there are."

"Oh?" I asked.

She whispered the number in my ears. I turned and looked at her, surprised that she had figured it out so fast. "Explain in to me." So she did. I smiled back at her. "And?" I asked.

"It was so easy once I figured it out. It's not obvious at all, I can see why everyone has such a hard time with it, but once I'd looked at it all the time I realized it was such a small number. Everything else is... butterfly wings."

I nodded. "So," I said, "When I retire, and hopefully that'll be soon, will you be ready to take over and begin making species of your own?"

She looked up at me, surprised. "You mean, you want me to start doing what... you do? Make people?"

I laughed. She looked shocked, horrified, as if I'd asked her to do the impossible and would be disappointed in her if she failed. "It's not that hard," I said. "The tough part comes at the end, when they become butterflies. But even that's easier today with all the support and help you'd get from others. I'm offering you the keys to the kingdom, Tylia."

She glanced aside for a moment, then looked back at me. I knew that she had asked her onboard AI for an appropriate response, and that it had come through her contact lenses. She was reading the one she wanted. She wasn't old enough for implants yet. "Are you sure this isn't white elephant time?"

I laughed. "No, it's not. And I didn't even have to look that up. I know what a white elephant is in the meatware." I tapped my head. "But that's okay. Do you understand the white elephant reference?"

"I will in a minute." I waited. "Oh. That's rude!"

"Indeed it is," I said. "The only thing being Lead Map at Alpha will mean is that you'll have a titular lead role, you'll be responsible if their behavior isn't up to snuff, and you'll have less free time during an assignment which you yourself will have to create. They'll also look to you for guidance; guide them elsewhere. But you'll have a ton of support from the rest of Alpha, you'll have all of Pendor cheering you on if you succeed and holding you up if you fall down. Besides, there's a lot of reason to believe that you won't have that much longer to go before diversity is taken out of your hands."

"The Fall is coming," she whispered, understanding exactly what I meant.

"More to the point" I said, "The Fall is coming and there's not much we can do to stop it. But that's okay. I've been planning for those days my entire life. After the Fall there will be so many varieties of people that we'll stop thinking of them as Satryls and Centaurs and start thinking of people as just Satryl-shaped or Centaur-shaped. Maybe there'll be a few people who'll want to stay on; after all, bacteria led to humans, but there are still bacteria."

"What about you?"

"Oh, I'm evolving in my own, slow, plodding way. I'm not willing to give up sex, after all; I have trouble believing that I'll still be me if I did that. And I'm not going to go the upload route. I'll reach some compromise and... stay there, I guess."

"For eternity?"

"Who knows?"

She grinned, bouncing in my lap playfully, maybe even suggestively. I think she's addicted to sex. I don't object, so long as it's with me. "I'm not willing to give up sex, either."

"You just discovered it!"

"I know!" she said. "But that doesn't mean I'll ever get tired of it! I don't get the gender wars stuff at all! I like being a girl!"

"And if you were a mel, would you like being a mel?" She stopped and looked at me. "See, that's the question the genderblenders ask. If you were born that way and you like being that way, does that mean you're supposed to be that way? What does it mean when you say you're supposed to be that way, without a religion telling you that?"

She pouted, chewing on the idea. "You said you weren't gonna change."

"And maybe I'll be missing something by refusing to give up that overloading of my mammalian brain that people call orgasm. A lot of folks seem to live happily without it. It's funny that both the Terrans and the llerkindi evolved to have it, but the Sendar did not."

"What could you be missing?"

"A better organized brain?" I asked. "It seems to be the price some pay for the high-implant systems. Most of them don't seem to miss it; the trade-off, to them, seems appropriate." I hugged her tight. "Are you willing to stay a messy mammal for a long time to come?"

She grinned. "We'll see. You did a lot to your self." She reached up and kissed me. "After all, you have implants on your optics and some shallow symbol work, and a ton of sensory stuff that I don't think I'm going to need."

I nodded. "So, what do you think of my offer?"

Back to the original subject, she came up short. "I... I don't know. It scares me. I'm only..."

"You're not 'only' anything. And that's why I'm asking you now. I don't expect you to start making any species on your own until you're forty or fifty or even beyond that, Tylia, but if it's what you want, I want you to start learning how to do it now. I've never met anyone like you, someone so equipped and energetic and ready for it."

She gave me a crooked smile. "I... I guess I accept. I wonder if I should ask my Mom."

"You could do that," I said. "This is certainly a bigger deal than anything else we've asked of her. But you've actually been very helpful on the team, even in your junior capacity, and Baler and Meff both think you're ready to learn about bigger things. If you think you're ready for sentient design, then by Set we should get you ready for sentient design."

She nodded. An alarm went off inside my head, a simple one, and I checked out the register. "Hungry?" I asked. "It's Elenya at Shardik Castle, and that means that the family dinner is today. Coming?"

"You bet!" she said with a grin. "I wouldn't ever pass up an invitation like this, ever!"

"Get your armor together, then."

She hopped off my lap and ran toward the water, waving her arms as if to get the armor's attention. It turned, looked at her, and started walking. When it got closer, it reached down with one hand. Tylia stepped into the offered hand and followed it back up to the head, where she settled into the cockpit. I was surprised at how readily she and the armor got along; I suspected a series of upgrades since my gift and the help of an AI that didn't want her to fail any more than I did. "Dave, you're not helping her if she doesn't learn how to do it herself," I said.

"At what level of complexity does software cease to be the mere necessity needed to run the machine, and instead become a hindrance to your romantic notions of 'doing it yourself?'" he chided back.

I thought about that and smiled. The universe was getting away from me. There were no longer any do-it-yourself isms. Nobody built things with hammers and nails anymore, except maybe as an artistic statement. The idea was absurd. Nanochine and SAP and AIs did all of the work; carbon-based life forms did all of the creative thinking, which was itself an absurd notion when human beings were all part of the same system, the same ecology, rolling forward relentlessly into a future about which nobody had the smallest clue.

The brain was so thoroughly understood that except for its irreducible complexity (and again, that's merely a social convention, designed to let each one of us maintain his own illusion of irreducibility) simulating it in hardware was an achievable reality. Of course, the simulation immediately began to diverge from the original because of the different rich and varying environments each mind found itself in, and both the original and the simulation claimed to be conscious and unique and deserving of our respect, but the actual technology with which to make a duplicate existed.

It all came down to personal values. The problem there, for me, was that values were as likely to be genetically determined as anything else. I remember a case of two monozygotic twins on Terra, separated at birth, both with the same obsessive-compulsive disorder for washing their hands. One said it was because his parents were slobs; the other because his parents were obsessed with cleanliness. "Cleanliness" may seem like a simple value, but it's a value all the same, and it resides best in brains prewired to host it. I have my doubts that those two aren't a representative case.

So, I brooded, what were my values? I looked up as three meters of robot hovered over me. "Wanna ride?" Tylia asked from within the armored suit, extending a hand to pick me up. I stood on the hand, grabbing the offered finger for stabilization, and allowed her to pull me closer to her body. We were off, me pressed up against that cheerful blue monstrosity, as she waded out toward the large equipment SDisk hidden under the water and sand. In seconds we were back on Pendor, wading out of the sea like some giant, mechanized parody of Venus rising from the waves. Unlike Pandora, here the sun was still blazing overhead, shining off the bright, smooth sand. The waves slid up the gentle slope as they had for over a thousand years without interruption. The obsidian walls of marbletop ridge rose fifty meters away, stopping abruptly thirty or so meters high, a black line highlighting the blue sky.

I loved my home. And I felt attached to it like no other place in my history. I'd lived in many places, on Terra, and even on Pendor, but it was only thirty years after Decant that I decided to make this little lagoon the place Shardik would call home. I couldn't help but wonder if I had become a part of some ecology that needed me to be eternal.

Tylia put me down, letting me step out onto the sand, and then jumped out of the armor. This tiny kitten, not even full grown herself, leaped out with a grin as big as the universe that waited for her. And after talking with Dave, Hal, Oenone and Brieanna, I had decided that she was qualified to take over, to make the decisions for herself about what kinds of Pendorians there should be, what kinds of people should inhabit the universe. At least, our little corner of it.

I looked up at the sky. "Why are we so alone?" I asked.

"Hmm?" Tylia said. We were shuffling back to the lagoon and the quiet, rooftop dinner that was a part of our weekly routine.

"Why are we so alone?" I repeated. "I mean, here we are, the Pendorians, Terrans, llerkindi, Sindar, Sinox... I mean, that's not a lot, sweetheart. It seems that there would be a lot more people out there. Between Terra and llerki, we've found almost twenty more planets that are inhabitable, and six of them were inhabited at one time with species we've never seen before or since. And most of them died out before the invention of mechanical power. I don't get that at all."

"Someone had to be first. Why not us?"

"It seems so... unlikely."

"Am I gonna have to quote the anthropic principle at you again?"

"Does it apply here?" I asked.

She shrugged. "Does it matter?" She let me down and I walked across the sand to where the rest of the Castle's current residents awaited us. I couldn't help the goofy smile I felt crossing my mouth; I like these people all far, far too much to feel anything but pleasure in their presence. They are, one and all, my anchor, my compass, and my sail. I love them all, one and all.

I enjoyed the picnic. Aaden was especially gracious with Tylia. Much to my amazement, Aaden gets along very well with her. I wondered what they were conspiring about next to the barbecue rack. It had to be something more than just the menu.

It wasn't until well into the meal that I found out. Aaden surprised me by walking up and without much introduction saying, "We need to talk."

I look him over and said, "We do?"

"Yes."

"So sit. Talk."

He took his seat beside me, plate in hand. "I just spent the last ten minutes trying to convince your girlfriend that Rhysh is not a place she should visit."

"Why am I not surprised?" I said.

"That I would try to convince her of that, or that she would ask?"

"That she would ask," I said. "It's something she would ask for. And I bet her argument that she should be allowed to visit was pretty convincing."

"No, actually, it wasn't. I don't think she wants to visit Rhysh, I think she was asking me for my opinion about it. But Rowan agrees, and has agreed to talk to her, if that becomes necessary." He took a deep breath. "Talk about wildcards! You do know how to pick the winners, Ken."

"They're gonna happen. The genetics of Pendorians ensures that there's going to be continued diversity for a long time. There will be strength and weakness as long as we don't take complete control, and Tylia seems to like being the kind of person she is so I have no desire to take any of that away from her."

He nodded, then leaned over and nuzzled my cheek affectionately. "Are you going to sleep here, or up there, tonight?"

"Rings, Aaden, didn't I just fuck your brains out yesterday?"

"They grew back," he said, laughing. "They do that."

"You're not jealous, are you?"

"I won't be if you promise not to be jealous of where I'm going tonight."

"And where's that?"

"To Rhysh, for an orgy. All males. All young, strong, sweet, and powerful. Dozens of hard cocks standing up, every one of them aching to come inside your sweet mouth or your hot ass, every one of them hooked up to a horny male with a twitchy butthole..."

"Fuck, Aaden!" I swore. "Stop it!" I paused for a second to adjust my pants. They seem to have become a little tight during our conversation. "I don't do this to you when you have a new lover!"

"Oh, yes you do," he said. "And you know why you're hard? Too much time around girls. But I don't mind." He kissed me on the cheek again. "But I am going to an orgy tonight."

"Have fun," I said as he rose and brushed the sand off his gorgeous butt and tail.

"You too," he said gently.

Tylia became involved in an impromptu game of frisbee golf, disappearing down the the sands with a couple of the other kids.

As I watched them all, I realized I was watching the end of my world. Not in any real way, but in a way that was even more important to me. I was reaching retirement. The universe, I had decided, didn't need Ken Shardik anymore. The Fall was coming, and with it, the end of... of being as we knew it. The injunction against fitting Tylia with biocybe was just one of the things that was going to go away soon.

The funny thing was, I wanted to see it. I wanted to see what that future would be like. And for a brief moment, I understood Paul and Carroll. Maybe I was rationalizing it, but I understood, in a flash, what had led Paul and Carroll to move on. In a way, I suppose, it was my fault; they had decided that they did not want to see the universe to come. They were true traditionalists, and the idea of being traditional in a future as amorphous and imperceivable as the one coming was too much for them.

P'nyssa walked over to me. "You okay?" she asked.

"How bad was I radiating?"

"Bad enough," she agreed. "Paul and Carroll?"

I nodded. "I don't think I can quite explain it yet, but I think I understand why they moved on."

"Try," she said.

So I did. I laid it out for her. What I saw happening with our future, what the inevitable outcome of all the technology we had developed would be, and where Paul and Carroll would have fit in that future, and why that wasn't where they wanted to be. She listened patiently and I was grateful that the others gave us space to talk.

Finally, she nodded. "It makes sense." She was quiet for a second, and then she reached up into the air and made a gesture with her tentacles.

I felt something tickle me on the back of the head, and looked into the biocybe to see a key with her face on it. "What's that?"

"Me," she said. "I had myself braced recently. I do that once in a while, just like you do." I nodded. "If I ever move on, in any way, I want you to have that. You can... make me... what's that big word for it?"

"Instantiate?"

"Right. Instantiate me again whenever you feel the need."

I held her tight. "Don't do that to me."

"I can't help it if I do. Neither one of us knows what the future will be like, for us personally. We have a good idea about the trends, but not the events. My trend is to keep trying to serve people, Ken, and the more immortal you become the more I need to be on the edge where people are in need. If I get killed, or if I just become something un-P'nyssa-like in the process, I want you to have the right to have me back for as long as you want me."

"Forever," I whispered.

"Forever," she agreed, kissing my neck softly in our embrace. "I've just made sure of that."

After a few minutes we both sagged back onto the sand. "It has been the hardest year of my life," I sighed.

"I won't argue with you," P'nyssa said. "I can't tell you the number of times I worried about you burning out, and I'm just glad that Noah is old enough to understand that you're a busy man and his Va and I are here to take care of him."

I nodded. "Feel better?" she asked.

"You already know," I said.

"I do. But I want to hear it from you."

"Saying everything will be okay is a lie, of course," I said, smiling. "I just hope that I come to accommodate the life I'm making for us."

"You will," she said. "I have faith in you." We sat together for a while. Once she was sure that I was going to be well she made her apologies and set off after some friends.

The sun set over the picnickers, and I watched them drift away, singly or in pairs or even moresomes, enjoying the sight of so many lovely bodies, so many fascinating minds, going off and doing their own things. Following their own intents. I looked over at P'nyssa, who was talking with a very short (even for her own species) Mustel, probably some Otter variant, and wondered what I should do next. "Dave," I whispered, "give my apologies to Tylia, but I have some family business."

"Will do," he said.

I stood up and brushed the sand off myself, walking back toward the lagoon and the SDisk that lay hidden just under the water. With barely a care I dove into the circular puddle and touched the SDisk; in a moment, I was back on the Castle floor, dry as a bone. "Y'know," I heard a voice from above say to me, "You shouldn't touch it with your hand like that. You come out in all kinds of funny angles." I looked up and saw M'Vahn standing over me with a lopsided grin.

"Thanks for the warning," I said to the femFel who was barely a tenth of my years in age. I stood up and checked to make sure that everything was in place. After ten centuries of being used to matter transposition you would think I'd finally come to trust the system, but old habits die hard.

I walked back to my own home, an over-sized compartment with too many kitchens because we'd knocked the walls out between mine and P'nyssa's (once M'Vahn's grandmother's) and Aaden's apartments. Who had had Aaden's? M'Lees? It suddenly occurred to me that there were no Uncia in the Castle at the time-- no Ssphynx or Pamthreats either. I frowned, to no one in particular, and wondered why that should be. They had always been among my favorite species, and now the Castle was more or less overrun with Felinzi and Mustel-- not that I mind Felinzi and Mustel, as anyone reading these will tell you. I just craved a little more diversity.

I sat down on my couch, put my feet up on an arm, and closed my eyes. I had intended to rest only for a moment, but a lifetime of following certain habits took over. Knowing that nothing short of a supernova-- from my own local and known to be stable star-- could shorten my time, I had become addicted to the pleasure of sleeping wherever and whenever I could. It was good for the brain. I had some of my best ideas in bed.

P'nyssa was gently rocking me awake. I looked up into her beautiful face, all that blue fur, the black triangle nose, and the white around her eyes and tiny tufts of it at the tip of those huge ears. Silently, I reached up for the lapels of her windbreaker and pulled her down to me. At first surprised, almost objecting, she soon eased into a kiss the form of which had probably not changed in a thousand years and the pleasure of which was the same today as it had been the first time.

She smiled as we parted. "What was that for?" she asked.

"I just wanted to tell you how much I love you, how wonderful your gesture was this afternoon. I hope I never, ever have to take advantage of it, but if you do... move on... in some way, thank you for it all."

She took up room with me on the couch and nodded. "You're welcome. I didn't mean to do something dramatic. It just seemed to me that, um, contingencies were needed. Are needed. Because my life with you is the most important thing is the universe to me, but I can imagine us both going in different directions. Well, you going in the same direction you always have, and me going... where the wind takes me."

I nodded. "It was still as brave and serious a gesture as--" I cut my thinking off right there.

"Whatever it was that Tylia did to you," P'nyssa said gently. "I understand. I have a good idea of what she's capable of, Ken, and even a close guess as to what she is."

"Just... keep it to yourself, okay? It's the hardest thing she has to live with right now. Let her figure out how to say it in her own way."

"I will," P'nyssa murmured, cuddling close to me. Her hands were stroking over my chest, idly closing in on an erection I hadn't even been aware had been there moments before. My own hands strayed along the length of her body, caressing her ass through the soft, silken cloth of her slacks. "Want to move this to the bedroom?" she whispered.

"Probably a good idea," I agreed. I accepted her tentacle in my hand and let her pull me up out of bed. I followed her willingly to the portal and we descended to the bed together. I helped her unzip her windbreaker and her skirt; she helped me with my jeans and sweatshirt. We were dressed in our ordinary clothes, as if it were an ordinary day. It was one of the few we had had this year.

I fell into bed atop of her, kissing her, pressing my naked skin to her naked fur. She pushed one leg up between mine, pressing my balls up against my body. She had my attention as we kissed, hard, our tongues finding the familiar slick places that we had long ago explored completely and never tired of revisiting. My hands caressed down her thighs, down between her legs, down into the sweet, hidden mound of her cunt. She moaned as I found her little spot and stroked it lightly with a single finger.

But her own mittens were loose on my back, sliding down my butt. Her tentacles are slightly longer than human arms and she had no trouble pressing the exposed skin of her palms to my backside, caressing me, sliding down toward my scrotum. She was at the limit of her reach just touching them, and without the fingers of a human hand to grab anything, but the feel of those furred, muscly tens squirming along my ass turned me hot. "Gods, I want to eat you," I said.

"Then do it," she gasped. "You're so good at it."

"Years of experience." I took the first turn, parting her thighs and looking in on the depths of her sex. She was already wet, a thin line of moisture peeking out from the seam of her labia. I lay down lengthwise on the bed, on my chest, looking in on her sweetness, before diving in. She smelled wonderful, that musky, heady flavor, as hard to describe as wine, as perfect as blueberries, as suggestive as pepper.

I leaned down and kissed at her mound. P'nyssa moaned at the first touch and parted her legs further, tugging open her outer lips, exposing her core to my eyes. She looked beautiful. I kissed deeper now, into her lips, parting them, letting my tongue find the hard little spot that I had touched earlier. I flickered my tongue across it, knowing exactly what she liked, knowing how to get her off.

Her mittens found their way between her thighs and pulled her lips even further apart. She was completely open to my mouth know, completely exposed. I dropped into the familiar rhythm of kissing and eating her as I had been doing for a thousand years and hoped never to tire. She moaned loudly, her orgasm coming on strong. There was no holding back as I pressed inward with my lips. She came hard, lifting her ass off the bed as she did, her whole body winding up before letting go with a gasp. She always seemed so surprised when she came.

"How'szat?" I asked.

She giggled. "Perfect. Like always." I lay beside her on the bed, my hands caressing her large, soft breasts. I liked them that way. Sure, they sagged a little, but they always had, and the few times she had offered to get "perfect" tits, usually when I was dating someone who had them, I vetoed the idea. P'nyssa's breasts were perfect on her. I never grew tired of them. I had known her so long that I thought it would be a little weird seeing her with the VideoStar modification that had always been so popular.

We lay silently for a while, letting her catch her breath, before she said, "So. You wanna do me?"

"Do I wanna do you?" I asked. "P'nyssa, my beloved, I would adore doing you."

"Do you want to do my ass?" she asked. Yes, we really do talk like this in bed. There's no point in being coy once you're naked and messy.

"Really?" I said.

"Really," she agreed. "C'mon."

I leaned over to Aaden's side of the bed and grabbed the lubricant bottle that was forever on the nightstand. It was also eternally full. P'nyssa eagerly turned over onto her knees, her ass high in the air. I poured a little of the lube onto my fingers and a little more onto her butt, and then gently pressed one finger into her. It slid in without a problem. I pressed in another finger. That one took more. P'nyssa had her little buzzing sphere out, best vibrator I had ever found, and as I slid the second finger into her she was going at her clit full force, her back arched with the tension of a second orgasm. "Your cock, Ken. Soon!"

"At your command," I said, kneeling between her legs. I lubed my hard shaft and aimed it at her anus, pressing the head against her hole. I pressed slowly, watching her opening deform around the head of my cock, dimple inward as I tried to enter her. She gave a groan that was not a happy sound, and I backed off. "Not gonna work?"

"Try again," she said. "I know how much you like this."

"Not as much as you liking what we do."

"Just... try it again."

I did as she asked but still we had no luck. It just wasn't going to go in tonight without hurting her. I backed off. "I'm sorry," she said.

"It's your body, Nyss. Don't apologize for it. If you're not up for something, it's okay by me."

She rolled over and smiled at me, sitting up to nuzzle my neck gently. I felt her cool nose against my skin and put an arm around her naked waist. "There are other things we can do."

Her mitten found its way along the length of my thigh until the tip of her mitten touched my balls. She cupped them gently, encouraging my erection. I moaned softly at her touch. "You feel so good when you do that."

"Mmm," she agreed. "I like pleasuring you. I don't do it often enough."

"We're busy people," I countered. "You do just fine for me," I sighed as her mitten delicately caressed my sac, rolling the two testes within like marbles in a game-pouch. I moaned.

"So," she said. "Wanna fuck?"

"I'd love to. But first, I'd like to clean up. Don't want to go from one hole to the other. It's not healthy you know."

"'Kay," she said softly, letting me go. I stood up and went into the bathroom, rapidly washing my cock off in the sink with some hand soap and rinsing with a sprayer. When I came back, she was lying on her side, watching me, one mitten idly between her thighs, playing with herself. I smiled as I climbed into bed with her. "Y'know, you have a double standard."

"I do?"

"Yes, you do. Modern medicine makes us immune to anything anyone else could host. There's not a chance in the world that you could infect me with anything, even from my own butt. When you're with men you're as messy as a... a pig in mud. You'll go down on anything, Ken. With women you get all prissy and fastidious."

"I do? I was doing it for you, though. I figured with your medical training you'd appreciate me being careful. You're the one who's always fastidious."

She grinned and rolled over onto her back. "Then get me messy again," she offered.

I laughed as I eased myself between her thighs, my readily hard cock nosing its way against her moist vulva. I pushed inward and she accepted me, completely, to the hilt, a soft moan coming from her as she arched her back to meet my first thrust. "Better?" I asked.

"Like nothing else," she sighed, looking up at me.

As I began to stroke within her, feeling the walls of her sex surrounding me, stroking against her flesh, I felt as if both our souls were sinking into the bed, becoming one, pooling. "You are just so beautiful, so special to me," I sighed as we made love on our huge, ancient bed. We connected there, cock in cunt, mouth to mouth, loving one another soft and warm and together. There is nobody quite like P'nyssa for me, nobody so special, nobody else who quite makes me feel like I have a home, and a life, and something to live for.

I love looking at her, at her dark blue, almost magenta-colored fur, at watching her breasts bounce back and forth. Her eyes were closed, her mouth open, her breath coming in little ragged gasps of pleasure as my cock slid in and out of her in a rhythm we had both known for a thousand years, more lifetimes than our progenitors had ever dreamed possible, and yet the passion between us was as real, as serious, as whole as it had been in the first years of our love.

I came inside her, came with a moan and a pleasure that made everything else in my existence irrelevant for a moment, came with a release of seed into the ground of my fertile dreams, my spiritual needs. I came holding her close, with her arms around me.

We lay there, on the bed, drained, quiet, for a long time, holding onto one another, wishing that this moment would last for the two of us. It did, but only until one arm pinned beneath her started to fall asleep and P'nyssa's breathing became rough with my weight on top of her. We rolled to one side and I freed my hand, then pulled her close, kissing her. "I love you," I said, feeling as if that were the least I could tell her. If only I could tell her everything.

"I know. I love you, too," she said, earnestly, making my heart grow three sizes in warm response. We lay, snuggling, making sweet little cooing noises at one another, until one of us yawned. I don't remember which one and it didn't really matter. The other yawned immediately in response, and then it was all over but for the sleeping. "Time for bed," I said.

She nodded, agreeing, but before I could get up, she held me in place with a delicate tentacle and said, "I will always love you. No matter what I become."

"And I will always love you," I said simply.

"Because you will never change," she said. "It's your nature to be the same, year after year. I... I think I will change. But I will always love you, Kennet."

I smiled. "Is that why you gave me the snapshot?"

She nodded. "I'm... When you described the future you saw, I knew that there would be possibilities for me that might take me away from you. I want there to always be a me for you."

"I hope there always will be." I kissed her nose softly. "C'mon. I'm sticky."

"See what I mean? With guys, you could be covered in eighteen different kinds of goo and you wouldn't care." She giggled.

I laughed along. "Maybe so. But after it's all over I still want a shower."

"I can't tell you how reassuring I find that." I helped her out of bed and we made our way to the shower for a quick rinse, and then back between the sheets for a long, well-deserved, and cuddlesome night.

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is copyright © March 31, 2003 Elf Mathieu Sternberg and is available under a Creative Commons License.