Stanley looked down on the thronging crowd, enjoying the privileged perch from which he could view the festivities. It surprised him to see so many people down below. The New Year's Eve celebrations in New York had always been riotous affairs but this one seemed somehow different. Louder. Noisier. He wondered what they were going to be like in fourteen years when Unity opened up and most people headed out for their brave new world. Himself included, he remembered, having been one of the billion or so people who had agreed that one world was as good as another.
He was equally surprised to find that he had the balcony to himself. Although the building had but a tenth of the tenants it had endured during its heyday, and the balcony itself had been closed to tourists almost five centuries ago, he would have expected somebody else from the place to be up here with him. Maybe everyone else had taken to the streets to celebrate in person and en masse.
He had decided not to join the raucous but inevitably safe party on the streets. His work had taken him late into the night and now he found himself wishing for a little quiet. He debated going home again and finally voted against it for now; its size would only remind him again of how lonely he felt without Inez. Her lovely dark eyes flashed in his imagination as he tried and failed to happily bid her farewell. She had headed out to the stars, taking her chances on the wild colony world of Pera. He wished her the best of luck but after almost fourteen years together he could not get her out of his mind. That nearly six months had passed since her departure didn't seem to ease his feelings at all. He wanted to hold her shorter, stronger frame to his own and caress the dark curls in her hair.
He smiled grimly. In his musing he had come to ignore the people down below, instead turning inward to his pain. In the process he had managed to crank his stress level; he could feel the muscles in the back of his shoulders and neck tensing in reaction. It never ceased to amaze him how sudden it was, how very noticeable the onset of tension.
The noise from down below seemed to reach a fever pitch, although a glance at his watch told him it was only eleven. He looked at one of the larger video screens and picked out what the excitement was about. The pop star known only as Mena had come on the screen to announce that it was a new year somewhere in the Caribbean. Well then, Stanley was happy for them.
"Crazy, no?" a voice said to his left, startling him. He turned to his side to recognize a Felinzi sharing the balcony with him, a fem of medium height. A shorthair of mostly white, her muzzle had a lopsided dollop of gray, and gray covered her hands. The rest of her was covered in a long, black dress that hung loosely on her frame. "Hi. Larn Rheeowlrr. R'Larn is fine."
"Stanley," he stuttered. "Stanley Mattachutsi. Uh, Stan."
"Hi, Stan," she said with a grin. "You work in the building somewhere?"
"Fifty-eighth floor," he replied, nodding. "Stratford, Green, and Associates."
"Sixty-eighth floor," she said. "Syzygy Translations."
"Oh," he said. "Um. Happy New Year."
"To you as well," she said. "What are you doing out here on a night like tonight? It's so cold out tonight. Wouldn't you rather be at home, relaxing? Or maybe down on the streets?"
He shrugged. "Didn't want to be home alone tonight. And I definitely don't want go into that," he said, pointing down to the crowd.
"It looks crazy," she agreed with a grin. "The newsies say this is going to be the biggest bash since the other turn of the century fifteen years ago. Hard to believe there are that many Christians left in the world."
Stanley took some umbrage at the comment. Pendorian attitudes towards religion were frequently patronizing and sometimes painfully arrogant. They acted as if they had seen God and decided he wasn't all that impressive to begin with. "It's still the third most widely practiced religion in the world," he pointed out abruptly.
"I didn't mean anything by that, Stanley. Honestly. It's just that with the turn of the centuries religions change, grow, even die." She glanced over the railing. "The hysteria we've been seeing on the newsies for the past couple of months seems to bear that out. Christians have put so much at stake with the Second Coming. It's like, three thousand years ago they thought he was coming soon. Then there was another hysteria at a thousand years and more at two thousand years and now it's almost like 'Okay, Jesus, this is your last chance' or something. 'Third time's the charm.' 'Three strikes and you're out.'" She smiled.
Stanley found it hard not to smile back. "It does sound a little silly when you say it that way."
"I'm just making fun of the brain's tendency to latch onto threes." She held onto the railing. "I bet it won't be quite so impressive at the end of the fourth millennium." She looked over at him. "I have a bottle of champagne in my office. Should I bring it up? Just for the new year, mind you."
He thought about. A little alcohol wouldn't hurt. "Go ahead," Stanley said.
"I'll bring two glasses."
She returned a few minutes later with a tall bottle of Cristobel and two coffee mugs. "Sorry, they were all I could find."
"They'll do," Stanley said with a smile. He found himself liking R'Larn. They pulled a table to one corner of the observation deck, ordered up a force field to keep the warmth in and the wind out, and sat to watch the crowd seethe towards ecstasy. Trading life stories, Stanley found himself fascinated by this fem who spent her days providing translations for interstellar businesses and he tried to impress her with past cases he had won in court as a finance lawyer. They poured each other refills.
"So, there I was, translating for my boss at this dinner, and the other guy, a llerkin, leans back in his chair and says, 'My compliments to the chef. I have loved his cooking.' And the other guys' translator fumbles and can't remember the word for cooking. So he goes for food. Now, you have to understand that llerkindi words sometimes seem to be grouped conceptually, and the words for food, sex, and prayer are all very similar in pronunciation. Klisa, klesa, and kliso, So it comes out something like 'I have enjoyed his fucking.'" She started laughing. "My jaw hit the floor. I didn't know if I should correct him or not. It was hilarious."
"I bet he had trouble finding work after that."
"I hope so," she said with an intoxicated giggle. "So, why are you up here?"
"Why are you?" he asked in reply.
She shrugged. "I was working late on something. Paper, you know. And I lost track of time. I decided to come up here and see if there was a crowd. I wanted to party but it got late and I guess I don't want to walk out into that crowd. I didn't get invited to anything that I can remember. I'm sure if I ask Athena she'll be able to take me somewhere. But I got caught talking to you. So, your story is...?"
Stanley sighed. "My partner left me."
"Oh. I'm sorry. When?" she asked.
"About six months ago. She went to Pera, now that it's open for colonization."
"Six months. She must have been some woman if you're still upset about her leaving."
Stanley shrugged. "Inez was."
She drew silent. Stanley stood up and looked down at the crowd. "They're getting worked up."
"It's almost time," she agreed, looking at her watch. "Less than twenty minutes." She wrapped her arms around herself. "I'm starting to get really cold."
"The fur doesn't help?"
"It does," she said, "but just a little. I'm thinking about going home before the ball drops."
"Where do you live?"
She pointed towards the sky. "L4."
Stanley nodded, taking the information casually. Ever since Terra had started to use Sdisks, the world seemed even smaller, the universe even closer. Someone could work in New York and yet live on the Moon, or vice-versa. It wasn't yet possible to Sdisk to Mars, but every once in a while the plan to build connecting stations was mentioned in the press. Stanley sometimes wondered if that's what drove Inez to Pera-- the idea that Earth was getting so civilized that living here wasn't fun anymore here. On Pera, there was always the danger of getting eaten by something that thought of you as lunch. He wondered about R'larn-- what did she find exciting about Earth that brought her here? "Stay at least until midnight," he encouraged her.
She walked up to him. "Okay," she said, then startled him with a surprise kiss on his cheek. "But only if you keep me warm."
"Huh?" Stanley asked, surprised.
"Was that too fast?" she asked. "If you want me to stay, you'll have to keep me warm. I like you, Stanley. I wouldn't mind if you touched me."
"Oh." He walked up close to her and cautiously put his arms around her. "It is a little sudden."
"Is it too much? I mean, your lover, Inez was it?" He nodded. "I don't want to make you feel bad about this. If you want, I can just stand and watch the ball come down. I think I will stay, whether you hold me or not."
"No, that's okay," Stanley said. Underneath his hands and arms her lithe body radiated warmth and contentment. He also found himself becoming erect. She murred as his hands touched her, pressing her butt back against his crotch.
"Six minutes," she said, pointing down at the crowd. Stanley, just a head taller than she was, leaned over her shoulder and glanced down at the crowd. Their voices rose from the streets to fill the sky around them there on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. He could feel her heartbeat quickening under his hands as he hugged her. She wiggled her buttocks against his groin and his cock surged with desire. Was she deliberately teasing him?
"Stanley?" she asked, her feline voice a bare growl.
"Ever fuck a Felinzi before?"
"No," he said. "Am I going to?"
"Do you want to?" she asked.
"Let's find out." He fumbled with his own skirt, so in vogue this century, and pulled down his underwear. He debated what to do with the scrap of cloth in his hands, finally deciding to throw it out over the edge of the building into the crowd. "Someone's gonna get a surprise."
She giggled as she hiked up the edge of her dress and revealed her furred butt to him. "Where's your tail?" he asked, surprised.
"I'm a Manx," she breathed. "We don't have them."
Stanley grabbed his erection in one hand and, crouching slightly to get a better angle, pressed against the folds of her sex. Her cunt opened to let him in and he pressed his belly up hard against her buttocks. She was so warm inside compared to the cold New York weather blowing around them. Stanley's eyes wandered over the black cloth of her dress to her shoulders and her head. She turned to give him a warm smile. He laughed. "What's funny?" she asked.
"I didn't expect to get laid on New Years Eve!"
"It's tradition!" she shouted back as the crowd roared with delight. The clock read three minutes. "Fuck me, Stanley!"
He couldn't see his erection; the cloth of both their skirts hid the action from his eyes. But he could surely feel it. Her cunt had a smooth tightness that was utterly unlike anything he could remember. He reached through the cloth so his hands could find furred flesh, and when he had her hips firmly in hand he pushed away until his cock was almost out of her.
He could feel his own body going through a sort of confusion. It wasn't sure what to do with the sensations it was receiving-- it had been so long since he had had sex with someone else that he wasn't sure what it was supposed to feel like. The grip and heat of her sex definitely felt good. The sensations were so strong it made his eyes hurt. The crowd down below whipped themselves into another loud scream as the two minute warning past.
Stanley began fucking her with a steady, sure rhythm. She braced herself, her hands gripping the railing tightly. The moans that reached his ears fulfilled him. He was doing good, something he realized Inez rarely let him feel. She wiggled her butt against him, trying to match his rhythm, trying to match him stroke for stroke. Stanley's breath grew loud in his ears, almost masking out the roar of the crowd as the last minute of 2999 swept down on them. He could hear the chanting down many floors. He could feel her body shuddering underneath him. "Yes, Stanley!" she shouted as he picked up his pace. The crowd chanted "Thirty!" and a wave of pleasure trembled through him, threatening to take down just moments before he was really ready to let go. He took a deep breath, steadied himself, and resumed pumping his cock in and out of her cunt, giving her everything. The crowd reached "TEN!" and he felt the pleasure again, this time an inexorable, undeniable force that was going to take him. He stopped to take his time, pumping Larn with the rhythm of the crowd. His arms burned with the force of each pull, each hard shove of his cock into her accepting body. "Five!" he growled along with her and the crowd. "Four." "Three." "Two!" "One!" "Yes, oh God!" he shouted as he came inside her, pounding her backside hard with his hips as the screams, shouts, and cheers of all of New York resounded in his ears.
Larn stood up and straightened out her dress, exposing his cock to the wind. "Yikes!" he said as he lowered his own skirt and covered himself before collapsing into his chair. She leaned over and kissed his cheek. "Happy New Millenia, Stanley."
"Happy New Year, R'Larn," he said, slightly dazed. She sat down opposite him and sipped her champagne while he recovered.
"So," he said as his eyesight recovered, "Is this a New Year's Eve One Night Stand or the start of a beautiful friendship?"
She grinned. "I like you, Stanley. Right to the point."
"Right," she said. "Well, why don't we have lunch Monday and see?"
"I'd like that," he agreed.
"Then it's a date."
She stood up and kissed his cheek. "Good. I'll see you then."
"Wait!" he said. "Where?"
"I'll meet you in your office. Fifty-eighth floor, Stratford and Green."
He nodded. "Goodnight, Larn."
"See you Monday, Stanley."