I came storming off the Sdisk only to be met by one of the attendants stationed in the center room for just such an occasion as this. "Where is she?" I growled at him.
Taken aback by my anger, he swallowed before replying. "Psi, fifth floor, Intensive Care."
"I know where it is." I started walking in that direction.
"Sir, I have to accompany you."
I didn't pause. "Then come on." I stepped onto one of the internal Sdisks. It took me to the admitting section of the ICU. I ignored the nurse who was shouting at me. My path was suddenly blocked by a large Uncia wearing the uniform of the Psi Guard who stood over me with a grimace and said, "Sir. I'm afraid you're going to have to calm down before you go any further."
"Are you standing in my way?" I asked him.
"Yes, Sir, I am. In your current state you would only make matters worse. Neither you nor I are supposed to have any Psi whatsoever, but I can already tell you are angry. And anyone with a shred of Psi is going to know that the moment you walk by. Your coimelin is being looked after by the best doctors we have. Rhysling is in there right now with her and is doing the best he can. You will calm down before I let you go any further."
My anger flared instead, but then finally I realized the wisdom of his words and it slipped away like water. "You're right. Damn. How did this happen?"
"We had a trauma case come in-- a low-level hoverbus with tourists was struck from the side by a vehicle travelling at high speed," the attendant, a Felinzi, responded to my question. "We think it was a case of joyriders buzzing the bus and not looking out where they were going. In any case, we have four fatalities, including the two in the other vehicle, so far. The bus itself was very seriously damaged and we had many injuries come in. We're used to trauma here, but so many at once was overwhelming. P'nyssa did triage and had managed to sort out all the incoming, or so we had thought. A child was found in the wreckage later and brought in, and she gave it a T1. We don't know what happened after that. We know that she tried to locate a surgeon and was told that the delay could be as many as five minutes. She must have tried to save the child herself."
"Where was N'nance?" I asked, my anger returning.
"I don't know."
"I'm here, now," said the familiar voice of an old friend.
"So," I asked, turning on him. "Where the fuck were you?"
"I was in surgery with another patient."
"You're her powerpath "
"I'm also a powerpath and when another surgeon tells me he needs me, I go."
"Leaving her behind?"
"When she says she won't need me, yes! Do you really think I'd leave someone I love that much alone like that?"
My jaw fell open. I stopped, closed my eyes, swallowed. "Oh, Gods, Nance, I'm sorry. I... crap."
He put his hand on my shoulder. "I've gone through the self-recriminations already, Ken, don't let's go through it again. She's your coimelin, I know. And she knows how I feel. And she loves me too. Just not as much as she does you." He let me go. "Rhys will get her through this. It's what he does." In his eyes I could see the pain of his own guilt and self-doubt. "Let him--"
"Ringdamn one of my best students goes and overextends herself like this and... Hi, Ken." The voice was Rhysling's.
"Hi, Rhys. How is she?"
"She's been better. She saved that child's life, though." He smiled. "She'll be fine. But she's to go home, and all three of you-- you, you, and your other coimelin-- are to take good care of her for at least three weeks. She's off. Nurse, make a note of that. She is locked out."
He turned back to Nance and I. "Now, you two, go see her. She's sleeping right now, so don't wake her up. When she comes around I'm sending her home."
Nance and I walked back into the ICU and found her, lying in a hospital bed. She looked so dazed, so helpless like that, on her side, vespine drones hovering about pointing probes at her. They gave us room.
I reached out and touched her forehead. She didn't respond.
Nance took my place, and he smiled. "She'll be okay." She stirred slightly at his touch, and I felt my own touch of irrational jealousy that he could do that for her and I could not. Together, P'nyssa and Nance could save lives with incredible, ineffable power. Separately, they were weak and limited, and their relationship, like mine with Tylia, was outside the woven core of Kennet-P'nyssa-Aaden, never a threat to it. But unlike my other friendships, and unlike Aaden's, P'nyssa-and-Nance has survived centuries with its intimate core intact.
I envied them that.
P'nyssa came home a few hours later, escorted by the tall Uncia nurse who had unapologetically blocked my way into Psi ICU. "I can walk on my own, dammit," she swore as I rushed to help her and led her back into our home. Aaden and Nance were there, waiting as well, and we guided her to her favorite chair, where she sighed and settled back, tentacles draped over its wooden arms. "I'm sorry."
"For what?" Nance said. "You did what you thought was important. And you saved that kid."
She smiled. "I guess I did."
"How are you feeling?"
"Exhausted," she admitted. "I slept seven hours in the ICU they tell me but I still feel tired."
"I've been reading up on what overextension does. I'm not surprised that you feel that way."
She looked up at the three of us and smiled, then laughed. "Will you stop hovering over me? I'm fine!"
"No, you're not," Aaden said. "You are 'exhausted', as you said. P'nyssa, I'm not going to let you wring a confession of love out of me only to have you kill yourself afterwards."
"No, Nyss. It's the middle of the night. I'm going to fix you a simple meal of your favorite soup and then we are sending you to bed."
I awoke sometime shortly after dawn. My eyes had that heavy, leaden feeling, as if they were somehow more solid than eyes should have been, a sure sign that I didn't get enough sleep in the night. I looked about our bedroom and had a funny feeling, a premonition of sorts, that P'nyssa's overextension, the war on Llerkin, and all sorts of other factors were slowly adding up to a change of sorts, a maturity in which plain organics like myself and my friends were going to be the exceptions rather than the rules.
The sensation seemed to pass. I crept out of bed and floated up through the grav tube into the living room where Nance was asleep on the couch. He didn't have to sleep here, his own home is just on the other side of the Castle, a three-minute walk.
He's such a pretty boy. Tawny, almost even, but with hints of gold among the brown across his back and the lighter tan on his belly and the backs of his hands. His feline muzzle is more pronounced than most, giving him a feral look. My first impression upon meeting him many years back was a combination of prissy and aloof, but among friends he is neither. He also makes my gaydar go off, but he's absolutely straight. Pity, that. Really.
I sat and sipped tea, waiting for the rest of the household to awaken. They did, slowly, P'nyssa last, which was unusual but expected, given her condition. She had a hollow-eyed look that bothered me as she shambled into the kitchen. "Nyss?"
"I can't.... " She looked up. "I can't feel you."
Nance reached out and touched her shoulder, and she reacted as if he'd shocked her, flailing backwards. "Did you feel that?" he asked.
"Yes!" she said. "I didn't... I can't feel Ken or Aaden."
"It'll come back. Rhys said it would."
"What if it doesn't?" P'nyssa said. Her voice was calming. "I'm sorry I almost hit you, Nance."
"It's okay," he said. "But it will come back. I've been doing research on overextensions. That's why I fell asleep on the couch. OE's don't do damage. They can deplete you such that you become comatose for a short period of time, and there's a recovery period, but there's never been a noticeable loss of Psi because of it."
"Never," Nance confirmed. I knew he wasn't lying. P'nyssa would do her own research after this and find out for herself. She would want to know what possibilities there were in her doing an overextension again.
"Okay." Her shoulders sagged. "It just feels so weird. Like that one time I got a splinter in my eye and Jayp had to numb the eye to take it out. Half my senses are missing. It really bothers me. I'm used to walking through the house and knowing where everyone is and how they're feeling on some ordinary level. None of that is there. I feel like I'm floating on a little island in space."
"I can understand that," Nance said gently. He reached out with one hand, and watching P'nyssa's face light up when he grasped her was blinding-- and raised my envy again. I shook my head to clear it. This was silly. "The power still flows," he said.
"It does." She reached out with her other mitten for my hand, and I accepted it. "It's there," she said, smiling at me. "From you, too. Just... such a little whisper." She let go of both our hands and reached out with a tentacle for Aaden's hand. He took it. "And from you."
"The capacity is still there," Aaden said. "Nance is right. You'll be well again, Nyss. Just give it time."
She nodded. "I don't want to give it time. I want to be a doctor again."
"Rhys told us you're locked out of Cutters for three weeks," I said.
"What?" she said
Nance nodded. "That's how long it'll take for you to be back to your moderate capabilities without me."
She nodded, her eyes tired and empty as she stared out over the mug Aaden had pressed into her mitten. Her gaze looked out over the ocean and into the hot summer day, barely a cloud in the sky, a few sailboats visible in the distance. It was a terrible contrast with her own appearance, so cold and alone. She sipped her drink, then put it down. "The doors are all closed. You've got environmental controls on."
"A storm swept through last night. We didn't want the changes to wake you or anything like that. Dave closed us up," I said.
She nodded. "That's very thoughtful of you but, I think, I'd rather have the doors open and the summer in my home."
"Your wish is my command," Dave said gently. I didn't hear the fans go off, but it was hard to miss the doors opening and the blast of wet summer heat that followed. I quickly shed the housecoat I was wearing and was down to passable shorts in quick order. P'nyssa's smile was weak but real, and I was grateful to see it.
She spent the day doing what she normally does when she's "on vacation"; reading up on the techniques and technologies that she might have missed recently. She seemed to be the same fem I had lived with for all these centuries-- a little slower than usual, a little more tired than she should be, but essentially whole. I gave her her favorite lunch, an egg-salad sandwich on some home-made bread, and let her work through the rest of the day. If it kept her mind off her injury and on to her healing, then I was doing what I intended to do. I called Tylia and Aanji on Alpha and told them not to expect me for a while, then made another loaf of bread.
By the end of the day she'd worked her way through four papers, made more notes than was healthy, sent off half a dozen letters asking for qualifications, and generally made use of herself even without her much-vaunted telepathy. She stood up and stretched, and I watched, amused but happy. "What?" she said.
"You're the sexiest fem in the whole universe," I said.
"You don't believe that," she said, toning her voice down as she walked over to me. She knelt next to my big, comfortable chair and said, "You don't believe that at all."
"Oh, but I do." I reached out to stroke her chin, my hand sliding up her cheek to carress her behind her ears.
She pressed her head against my hand and sighed, contentedly. "I can just barely feel you," she said. "In my head. The place where you live is just like tiny echoes now."
"They'll get stronger. Nance said they would. There's never been a loss of telepathy from over-extension recorded."
"I'd hate to be the first."
I slid off the chair and joined her on the floor. I tried to pull her to me to kiss her, but we lost out balance and fell to the floor, her on top of me. "Whoops," I said.
"You always do that," she giggled.
"I love you," I told her.
"I love you too," she said. I pulled her down for a kiss. She gave it willingly. We were on the floor like that when Aaden and Nance came home. Aaden held a canvas bag in one hand.
"I see your injuries aren't slowing you down in one important way," Aaden said.
"Not likely," I said. "I think she's okay."
P'nyssa straightened herself up and pushed her long black curls out of her face. "I'll be okay when Rhys says I'm back up to my full sensitivity and power and you guys let me get back to work." She stood up and helped me off the floor. "What have you got there?"
"Clams and mussels," Aaden said. "Anyone up for steamed clams with garlic and melted butter?"
P'nyssa's eyes lit up. "Oh, Aaden, that's so sweet of you to think of that. I'd love some."
"Good. Ken make bread?"
I pointed to the top of the counter where the bowl was resting. "It should probably go in soon."
"Get to work," Aaden said.
"What can I do?" Nance said.
Aaden looked left and right as if looking for something. Then his eyes fixated on P'nyssa and said, "See to her every need. Keep her out of the kitchen."
"I can do that," Nance said, grinning madly.
I shoved the dough into the oven and then set about making a salad dish of sorts. I looked up and across the room, and saw P'nyssa in Nance's arms, her eyes closed, the smile on her face so content and happy that my jealously returned. I know P'nyssa isn't tempted, but I do ache sometimes to know that she can only get from others what I cannot give her. Aaden noticed my pause and followed my gaze. I smiled at him. "I don't think I've ever had a look on my face that was that happy," I said.
"Sure you have," he said. He leaned close and said, "I've seen it all the time. Usually when I have my cock up your ass."
I smiled and kissed his muzzle. What I had intended as a familial peck became a long, deep kiss that made my toes tap madly inside my slippers for more. "Better not burn dinner," I said.
"Right," he sighed. "And you're supposed to be taking care of her tonight."
"I think Nance has that covered."
"He's just using his powerpath talent to let her feel that she's still 'pathic in some sense. She needs reassurance. But she also needs you."
"You, too." Dinner was wonderful. Aaden passed around some white wine he'd found. I'm not a fan of whites but that was wonderful, whatever it was. P'nyssa, I think, drank just a little too much. She was giggly by the time Aaden was offering us a dessert-- egg nog ice cream-- and laughing at every joke, however bad or badly told.
By the time the table had been cleared away and the couches rendered from the walls for us to sit down, P'nyssa seemed much calmer than she had when she had come home that morning. She sat with a glass of wine-- white, in her case, and excessively sweet, a Rheisling I think, curled up in the couch. I sat across from her, my feet resting against her. She giggled when I tried to tickle the underside of her foot with my toes. "You know I'm not ticklish," she said.
"I keep hoping that switch will flip and you'll be ticklish some morning."
"It'll never happen," she assured me.
"You never know what your brain will do," Nance said.
"I do," I said.
P'nyssa said, "That's only because you've chosen-- with your brain-- to make sure you know what your brain is up to. That doesn't mean that some weird event couldn't make you change your mind. I mean, even if you're backed up somewhere, what happens if you choose not to restore from backup after some life-changing event?"
I shrugged. "I guess we'll make that decision when we come to it." I smiled at her, my foot creeping up her thigh and sneaking under her bathrobe.
"Is that a hint?" she asked.
"It might be," I said. "You're supposed to have our undivided attention for the next couple of weeks. I'm offering you a guarantee that for, at least a few minutes, you'll have it without qualifications."
P'nyssa's face creased with consternation. "You're the only person I know who can make sex sound like work!"
"A joyous undertaking," I insisted, pushing off the arm of the couch to reach her and kiss her in reassurance. "Hardly a grim task."
"Hmph," she said, then kissed me back. "Besides, what if you had both Nance and I as dedicated, helpful attendees?"
She glanced over at Nance. He said, "I'd peel grapes for you, Nyss."
"Mmm," she said. "Such heroics."
"Would you prefer that we didn't go to such lengths in the interest of our favorite patient?"
"Aaden?" P'nyssa asked.
"I have a date."
"Of course," P'nyssa said. "Have fun."
"I will," he said, rising from his chair and grabbing his coat. "I love you, P'nyssa."
"Love you, too, you lug." Aaden waved on his way out the door, leaving Nance and I alone with her.
Nance rolled out of his chair and crossed the floor with all the grace only a Felinzi can manange, even on all fours, and curled up next to her, his head against the back of her mitten. "When you touch me," he said, "I can feel the pull. I know you're there. I know you're there like nobody else, Nyss. I don't believe you're going to be damaged from this. I really don't."
She pulled her mitten free and stroked his head, making his ears flicker gently against her palms while she touched them. Whatever she was doing made him squirm, then gasp. "Still there," he moaned.
"Yes," she said. She glanced over at me, then tilted her head in a come-hither gesture. I leaned down and kissed her, hard, her tongue matching mine in the perfect ballet that we had mastered over the many, many years-- centuries-- that we had had together.
I let her go. "Are you really intersted in this? In your shape? We seem to be heading to the three of us in bed, doing things to you."
She nodded. "Yes. I ''feel'' the two of you. Yes, even you' although you say you don't feel anythig. And I need this. I need to know that I still feel, you know, the other thing, even without the telepathy."
Nance and I took her mittens and gently helped her to her feet. Without another word, the two of us pulled off the thick white bathrobe. It fell to the floor with a sigh and P'nyssa stood up, looking as wonderful today as she did a thousand years ago. Her breasts were still large and firm, her shoulders strong. Only her eyes betrayed the centuries behind her, slow in their paitence and concentration. Nance and I each led her to the bedroom and to bed.
There, she and I fell upon one another, kissing gently. Nance crawled into bed beside us and began stroking her body with his hands, following and ocassionally colliding with mine. My feelings changed from concern to desire as I looked down the indigo blue length of her body to her mound, highlighted as it was in an irregular ellipse of white fur. "Would you like me to eat you?" I said.
"You can do whatever you like."
"What I like is ''you''." I slid down the length of the bed to between her legs, where her neatly trimmed cunt waited for me. She was still a bit dry as I slipped my tongue between her labia, but that was okay. I knew that soon enough she'd be soaking wet and climaxing hard.
I flicked my tongue over her clit, licking her gently at first. I worry sometimes that the reliable methods are also boring, that we've done this ten thousand times and she's tired of it, but she never says she is and I know I'm not. I licked at her until I felt her wetness grow a little, then slipped two fingers up into her cunt. The warm walls of her body gripped at my fingers, the strong opening clamping down as waves growing pleasure swept through her. I heard slupring sounds and looked up to see her sucking on Nance's handsome cock, his balls hanging back and forth with each stroke. Her eyes were close as she tried to concentrate on two things at the same time.
I doubled my efforts, paying more attention to her clit, licking her all over. There are few things I find more pleasureable than licking pussy-- the smell, the closeness of it, the surety that I'm going to drive the girl mad with pleasure. Being so close to such a vulnerable, special part of her anatomy-- with my teeth no less.
P'nyssa's cunt kept tightening and relaxing about my fingers even as I stroked her insides, playing with her cervix and hunting still for the elusive points of pleausre within her, when suddenly her whole body tensed and she came, moaning low, her eyes clamped shut. I licked and licked, steadily, doing what had got her here in the first place, not changing until her moans began to die away and she relaxed, spent.
"Mmm, that was good," I said.
She giggled. Nance said, "I think she's supposed to say that." His cock, now fully aroused from P'nyssa's excellent oral skills, hovered in mid-air, and I had to remind my self that Nance was effectively straight and not interested in me at all.
I had my own erection underneath me, painful and ready for P'nyssa. She looked back and forth between the two of us, then said, "Nance, I want you inside me."
His eager eyes trailed down the length of her body as she lifted her legs into the air. She reached down and pulled her labia apart, exposing herself for him. He positioned himself between her thighs and with one hand guided himself into her. I lay next to them, watching, wondering if I would ever understand the intimacy of telepaths. From the outside, it looked much the same as any other fuck, bodies gently stroking or powerfully heaving, depending on the mood. But there was something else, something that even I in my "psychically deaf" state could appreciate.
I enjoyed watching them, my own erection still waiting for its turn, when P'nyssa said, "I think I want Ken in my ass."
Nance paused, then said, "I should get on the bottom, then?"
"That would work," I said. "Unles you want me to slide in underneath you, but that would be awkward."
Nance rolled off onto his back, and P'nyssa had soon mounted him, her ass tempting me now. I ran my hands through the thick fur that covered her ass and back, taking the bottle of lubricant off the dresser where we always keep it and slathering the stuff all over my cock. I slipped one finger up into her ass. She was tight, but in a minute I had two fingers inside her. Through the thin membrane that separates the vagina from the anus I could feel the round shape of Nance's cock. I idly stroked him as I stroked P'nyssa.
She moaned as I replaced my fingers with my cock. "Slowly, slowly."
"I know," I whispered. "Believe me."
"You take it harder than I do," she said. "I've watched you and Aaden."
"I still know..." I slipped the head of my cock against her asshole and gently, pushed. She moaned softly, and then I was all the way inside her, up to the hilt, my hips pushed against her butt. We began in slow motion, each body sliding against the other, skin and fur and fur, all pressing and moaning. Nance's hands were on P'nyssa's breasts. I could still feel his cock inside her, next to mine, separated by that thin tissue.
The slow motion grew faster, acheiving a kind of normal pace. The angle was awkward but tolerable, and after I found a comfortable angle the three of us began a strange climb. Both Nance and I were familiar with P'nyssa in our own way, but those two were working without their usual connection, and Nance and I were struggling to come to terms with one another.
Still, as my cock slid in and out of P'nyssa's ass, I couldn't help but have a jumble of feelings all amplified by the pleasure of her insides, the overwhelming love I had for her and the feeling that having her in my life was the most special thing that had ever happened to me. I stroked her back even as Nance played with her breasts, and suddenly she moaned. She was coming! She almost never comes from fucking, but she was now, and it was a loud, powerful climax, stronger than most. I almost broke my rhythm, but the feel of her coming caused her body to tighten about my cock, and with a few more strokes I was coming up her ass. Nance followed right behind.
I slipped out of her to maneuver around to one side, gathering her in my arms and holding her, sharing her with Nance who took her other side. We held onto the three of us, and P'nyssa gasped, "Thank you, thank you, thank you. Both of you. I felt that. I ''felt'' that. I..." She looked up at Nance. "The magic will return."
He nodded. "Yes, it will."
She smiled. The three of us fell to the bed, P'nyssa in the middle, recovering. After a few minutes, she said, "I think it's time to clean up."
"I have taken the liberty of starting a shower," Dave said.
I rolled over and stood up, almost falling backwards as a wave of exhaustion swept over me. "As thoughtful as always."
"Let's go wash."
Afterwards, Nance and P'nyssa made their goodbyes. It took a while. I went downstairs to let them have some privacy, and fell asleep while reading a book. P'nyssa came down a while later and joined me; I remember stirring as she crept in and whispered in my ear, "I love you."
Within three weeks, her telepathy was measurably the same as it had been before. Within six, she was back to work.