Walking down the long hallway with her first bagfull of clothing, Jofuran busily scanned the numbers on the doors as she passed them by. It seemed to be something of a rule at universities, she thought, that because the laboratories and classrooms were working on the next century's advancement, the residential and student services had to be rooted in the last century's.
Which, she thought grimly as she located room 315, worked great. The technologists lived in their labs anyway, and the archeology, anthropology and humanities students were supposed to live in the past.
She opened the door and looked inside. Seemed comfortable enough. Large forward living room, kitchen to the left, two-meter square hallway with three doors. "Bedroom, bathroom, bedroom?" she said aloud to the empty room.
"Correct," a voice from overhead said. "How do you do, Miss Shigokai? I am Kerry, your AI and resident nag for the next two years."
"Thank you, Kerry. Resident nag?"
"Indeed," the light, androgynous voice replied. "I am here to torture you; to make sure you eat, sleep, and burn the midnight oil until your eyeballs pop out. I shall be inquisitor, mother and teacher's assistant all in one."
"I already have a mother," Jofuran pointed out.
"Yes, and as in all but a smattering of cases, she is but a few footsteps away. However, you did move here because you wanted to be in the center of University life, as we say."
She crossed the room and said, "Which one is mine?"
"The one on the left."
Opening the door, she appraised her new living quarters. Desk, bed, video table. "Very nice."
"I'm so glad you like it," Kerry replied. "By the way, here comes Kiza now."
"Oh!" Jofuran ran out into the living room again just in time to see the door open. A red-furred Mustela Martens face poked around the door, looking in, and with a sing-song voice said "Hel- lo?"
"Hi!" the Marten replied, stepping into the apartment. "Kiza Lessap. And you must be Jofuran Shigokai."
"Uh-huh!" Jofuran replied. She assessed her new roommate's appearance. Short, even shorter than she, wearing only a pair of silken shorts and weighed down by a small duffel bag of bright green nylon. "Pleased to meetcha."
"Me, too." She unslung the duffel and tossed it on the sofa that dominated the small apartment. "I decided to wait until you got here to ask you all sorts of questions. Besides, I don't think Kerry would give me straight answers anyway."
"Most certainly not," Kerry replied. "I am not a gossip."
"Ignore him," Kiza said. "He's really a sweet guy." Jofuran found Kiza's smile completely infectious. She talked with her hands as much as her voice; constantly in motion, Jofuran found her delightful to watch and to hear.
"What kind of questions?" Jofuran asked, looking suspicious.
"The usual sort of new roomie questions." Kiza cocked her head and glanced up at the ceiling. "You know, like, what's your major, do you have a nickname, how long until you go field, are you a chem or wirehead, are you a mill, do you have a lover..." She ticked off the answers on her fingers. "Those kinds of questions."
Jofuran laughed. "Let's see. Literative Xenoarcheology, Furry, Two years, no, no, sometimes, yes."
"What's his name?"
It took Jofuran moment to figure out who Kiza meant. "T.H. Nickolai Dittrich." She smiled as she watched Kiza's eyes widen.
"You have a Terran boyfriend? That is so con!" Kiza bounced into the kitchen. "You want a drink? What's he like?"
"He's sweet. He's about this tall," she held her hand above her head, "brown hair. Goes to school in England, I remember."
"Does he have a friend?"
Kiza returned with a two mugs, one of which she handed to Jofuran. "Here, drink. It's just tea."
Jofuran accepted. "Why are you asking all these questions?"
"I dunno," Kiza shrugged. "I just think having a Terran boyfriend would be super con."
"Contrary, Controversial, that kind of con." Kiza bounded into her bedroom. "Come in, come in," she said, her voice reaching out to Jofuran. "I hate holding court in the living room!" After she had entered and taken a seat on the desk chair, Kiza hopped onto her bed and leaned up against the wall. "Where did you get the nickname 'Furry?'"
"I lived on Terra for ten years."
"How old are you?" Kiza asked, surprised.
Kiza looked stunned. "Your parents moved you to Terra when you were six? That should count as child abuse!"
"It was okay," Furry replied. "I managed. They had stuff they had to do. I'm living on Pendor now, and I think I'm here to stay."
Furry looked around. Kiza was inordinately fond of checked patterns; her bed and the drapes over her windows were made of black and red checked squares. The bed had three pillows. Posters of what Furry recognized as famous Pendorian actors lined the walls. The video table had seen better days. "Hey," Kiza said quickly. "Got a picture of him?" Furry kept watching Kiza's hands fly.
"Do you know any somatic languages?"
"No, why?" Kiza asked.
"You keep gesturing with your hands, like you were using them to say something."
"Oh, that. I got that from my mom. Yeah, it's real expressive, and I'm a noisy person anyway, so I don't see any reason to cut it out."
Furry nodded. "I have a picture of him. Kerry, please call Lexander and ask him for my Nickolai Dittrich files. In fact, have copies of them moved into my table, would you?"
"Please," Furry replied, rolling her eyes.
Kiza laughed. "He told you he was a nag. He tells everyone that, and it's true. He is a nag. About everything. Now, about those pictures?"
"Done, Miss Jofuran."
"Thank you." She walked over to Kiza's video table. "May I?"
Furry punched buttons and called up the flat images she had of him. "That's him."
"Wow, he's cute," Kiza exclaimed. "For a human. Hey, that looks like Shardik Castle."
"It should," Furry replied. "It is."
"How did you get in there?"
"That's really con," Kiza repeated. Furry realized she would be tired of that word rather quickly. Kiza looked up suddenly and said "Hey, Furry, got a serious question for you."
"Yeah, sort of. I can tell from the way you talk about him that you like him. When you were describing him your eyes got kinda unfocussed." She giggled, somewhat nervously. "Is he on Pendor right now?"
"Not right now," Furry replied. "He's going to be on Terra for another two years, finishing up his schooling."
"So....do you plan on seeing other guys around here while he's gone? And will it be just guys?"
Furry laughed. "That's what you had yourself all worked up over?" Kiza nodded. "Are you making a pass at me?"
"No!" Kiza replied quickly, her hands waving. Too quickly, Jofuran thought. "No, I was just wondering. I....The Mustela towns down in Outskirt aren't quite as uninhibited as other places, and my last quarter here was a little surprising."
Furry nodded. "It's been a bit of an education for me, too. I've only been on Pendor for about a month now, and I'm trying to learn stuff everybody else knows already." She thought for a second. "Nickolai and I agreed that it would be okay for us to have friends, even sleepaway friends, while we were apart."
"Good!" Kiza replied.
"So, what are your answers to your questions?"
"What were they?"
Kerry answered the question. "What was her major, does she have a nickname, how long until she goes to field, is she a chemical or biocybernetics abuser, does she study, is she currently in an involved relationship..."
"Oh, those," Kiza said. "Let's see. Adaptive Mechanical Engineering is my major. Everybody calls me Kiza. No, I don't do any of that stuff, but my last roommate did. I'm already doing preliminary field work. Yes, I study, but I don't mill." She gave the ceiling a baleful glance. "And I'm currently in a lot of relationships but none of them are really serious."
Furry laughed. "I can understand that feeling."
"Come on," Kiza said. "I'll show you where the SDisk dispensers and the cafeteria are. Believe it or not, the food here is really good."
Furry shoved the door open, tossing her pack, complete with her third PADD of the semester, across the room.
"It's me, Kiza. Jofuran."
"Hey, what's wrong?" Kiza asked, walking out of her bedroom.
"My brain hurts, that's what's wrong." Furry crossed into the kitchen, grabbing an analgesic and a bottle of juice. "Have you ever tried to learn Sinox?"
Kiza shook her head. "Never even thought about it."
"Sinox is one of the ugliest languages in the universe. Vocally, it's a repetitious pattern of short-vowel-terminated consonants. 'My name is Tedefeh,' becomes 'Nefeh pecetatih tedefenah.'" She grimaced. "I can't even talk that fast. The other thing is that the burden of language organization is on the listener. My thoughts are allowed to be as disorganized as possible....if the listener can make some sense of what I say, the Sinox believe my thoughts are regimented enough."
Kiza grimaced. "Sounds like it's no fun."
"It isn't," Furry agreed. "I'm just frustrated."
Kiza nodded and crossed the room to find Furry's pack. "Well, you didn't break your PADD throwing it across the room this time." She pulled it out and examined it closely. "I see finding you the explorer's custom package helped."
Furry laughed. "Oh, Kiza. Thank you for that, it's really been helpful. I don't care if it's twice as heavy as a normal PADD, there's something about being able to throw it across the room that I like."
Laughing in reply, Kiza said, "I'm glad you like it." She tossed the PADD onto the couch with equal carelessness. "Can I get you something?"
"You always make me feel guilty when you do that," Furry sighed. "I never do stuff like that for you."
"Sure you do," Kiza replied. "You've actually been a great roommate."
"Are you sure you're not just comparing me to D'Roon?"
"Positive," Kiza answered. "D'Roon wasn't a bad roommate, she just smelled bad when she refused to shower four days running because it would take time away from her VR. I mean, it was scary the way she would eat with her eyes all glazed over."
Furry nodded, stretching tiredly. "Speaking of showers, I think I'll take one, just to relax."
"Okay," Kiza said, bounding around into the kitchen again. "I'll see you when you get out."
Instead of a shower, however, Furry drew a bath, filling the tub with hot water and slowly settling to the bottom. Made to hold anyone up to a Uncia (separate facilities were usually constructed for 'taurs), the bathtub was, for a Markal, extravagant. Furry stretched out in the warm water and scratched at an itch in her fur, grimacing at the oily feeling it had. She hadn't taken care of herself very much recently, she reflected, burdened with the pressures of classes and examinations.
She was just starting to feel relaxed enough to get out and take a nap when the door to the bathroom flew open, the doorknob striking the wall with a loud bang. "That does it!" Kiza announced, startling her yet again.
"Kiza?" Furry asked.
"I'm telling you, Furry, I'm giving up on mels. That really does it." Furry heard the sound of the medicine cabinet being opened.
"Giving up on Leif, you mean?"
"He's such an idiot!" Kiza ranted, taking the name as a cue. "I don't know what I saw in him. I'm sorry for interrupting your bath."
"That's okay," Furry replied. "I was going to get out anyway."
"Well, I'll let you have some privacy." Kiza closed the door behind her.
Alone again, Furry settled back down into the bathtub. What Kiza had seen in Leif, she reflected, was a bedmate and not much else. They had almost lasted a month, a record as far as Kiza was concerned. In the six months they'd been roommates together, Kiza had gone through eight lovers. Leif would make it eight for eight she'd said 'good-bye' to.
Furry, for her part, had managed to avoid any romantic entanglements over the past months. Letters from Nickolai sustained her, and even though she'd had a few offers from classmates, none of them really stimulated her in quite the way thinking of Nickolai did. She worried that her fantasies were getting out of control, and that when Nickolai returned he wouldn't live up to her conjoined memories and phantasms. But she would deal with that when the moment came.
Still, she reflected, having a friend she could sleep with would be nice. If only to remind her of what lovemaking really felt like. She didn't want to fall in love again the way she had with Nickolai; he was still her first love, and she was going to wait for him, just as he had said he would wait for her.
Sighing, Furry pulled herself up and stepped out of the bathtub, striking the drain switch as she did so and listening momentarily as the water gurgled down the pipes. Once it was gone, she hit the 'air' switch, turning the dial to the temperature she liked. A mild tornado began to swirl in the bathtub, and she stepped into the middle of it, holding a dry towel and closing her eyes. With the towel she vigorously brushed at her fur, encouraging air underneath it and drying off. She felt better after that.
Kiza was nowhere to be seen in the living room when Furry emerged, but the door to her bedroom was closed so Furry assumed she'd be in there. She poured herself a glass of milk and sat down at the round kitchen table, retrieving her PADD and trying to decide if she was going to read or watch something educational, or if she was going to be frivolous and watch entertainment.
Kiza emerged from her bedroom while Furry was still deciding. "Hi," Furry said, waving tiredly.
Kiza merely waved, walking slowly to the kitchen and sitting down opposite her, propping her head in her hands and looking morose.
"It's not like Outskirt, is it?" Furry asked.
"That's not it," Kiza replied, sighing. "If that were the problem I'd just SDisk home. It's more....I start to see their flaws, Furry. They always seem so wonderful when we first start, but after a while I begin to know their little, annoying problems and then they aren't so wonderful anymore. And I know that it's me, that I'm blowing up because of something in me. Other people live with each other's flaws, so why can't I?"
"Are you afraid maybe that they'll start to notice you're not so perfect, either?"
"I don't know," Kiza answered. "I wish I did."
"You know," Furry continued, "There is at least one person who knows all about you. And you know all about."
"Oh? Who's that?"
Furry suddenly stopped, realizing to herself exactly where her thoughts were leading her. She didn't have time for this, she thought to herself. She already Nickolai... hadn't she just been telling herself not to get into anything too serious?
Too late, she saw, as realization of what she was talking about apparently dawned in Kiza's eyes. "You?"
Furry felt her whiskers droop slightly. Then she nodded.
Kiza leaned back in her chair and pressed her hands together. "I never did think of it that way."
Furry's throat was dry with what she wanted to say, what she wanted to do with Kiza. "Uhm... Kiza?" The marten looked up. "Listen... I... I know everything about you, including the way you dump your lovers." She stood up slowly, pushing her chair back. Kiza's eyes followed her as she walked around the table and approached her roommate. "I don't want to end up like them."
Kiza leaned forward and reached out a hand. Furry took it. "You won't," the marten promised gently. "At least, I hope you won't. But... what about Nickolai?"
"He's the most important person in the universe to me, Kiza. Please don't be mad, but when he returns I... I don't think I'll want to be your lover anymore. I'm not so sure I could do it now."
Kiza stood up slowly. She was shorter than Furry, but the difference wasn't quite as dramatic as the difference between Furry and Nickolai. "I want you to try, Furry." Still holding her roommate's hand, she pulled them both into her bedroom.
As the door closed behind her, Furry's heart jumped slightly. "Kiza..."
"Say 'no,' now, Furry. Because if you don't, I'm going to strip your clothing off and make love to you." She smiled. "If not with you."
Furry found herself driven between two forces, one of which she could find little reason for listening to. She sat down slowly on the bed. "Come here," she said. Kiza hopped over to stand in front of her. "Sit down on my lap." Kiza obeyed readily, a smile crossing her muzzle. "Kiza, I do want you. More than anything I've wanted in a long time. I want someone I can trust and rely on. You've been that for me as a roommate... and as a friend. Anything more than that is just extra, right?"
"You have my word on that," Kiza replied, smiling. Furry found the way her black eyes glittered when she spoke to be incredibly beautiful. Almost without thinking about it, she pressed a hand to Kiza's chest, feeling her roommate's rich, red fur under her palm.
"Furrrrry..." Kiza sighed as she leaned over and kissed the Markal's neck, sliding her tongue out and tasting. Furry's hand slowly slid along Kiza's chest, touching her nipples and caressing them gently. Kiza gasped, and then slid her hand into Furry's robe, a hand closing down on a breast and squeezing gently. "You're so beautiful, Furry. Nickolai is so lucky."
Furry giggled softly and lay back on the bed, pulling her lighter partner down with her. She didn't know quite what to say to that compliment, so she didn't say anything, instead running her hands over Kiza's back.
Kiza cooed softly, her tail twitching and fluttering with the stimulation. She reached down and pulled open the bow holding Furry's robe closed. "You're not wet underneath this," she said. "The fur- dryer in there works very well. Why do you always walk around the house covered up?"
"Why do you walk around naked?" Furry asked back. "I guess I just got used to it when I was living on Terra. There's always a lot of covering up going on there. It's funny, though, when Nickolai was here I was always so 'Miss Pendor' around him. I carried my gun, paraded around in the nude..."
"Habits," Kiza said, pushing the robe open. "You were used to wearing clothes. You were out to shock Nickolai, because you knew you wanted him to know you as a Pendorian, not a 'transplant,' I guess. But now that you're not out to consciously be a Pendorian, some of those habits are coming back."
"I still carry my gun," Furry said defensively.
"That's just good common sense," Kiza replied, looking down at her roommate as she lay on the bed. "Furry, you're beautiful."
"No, I'm not," Furry replied. "I'm getting fat. My fur is bland."
Kiza leaned over and kissed Furry's breast, nipping at her tiny red nipple. "Leif had a name for that."
Furry gasped, her back arching, then settled back to the bed. "What was that?"
"Girl-o-vision." Furry giggled, then gasped again as Kiza's fingers found her way around her other nipple. "He said no woman could look at herself the way men do."
"I think it's a personal thing," Furry whispered.
"Probably," Kiza replied, laughing softly. Her fingers stroked down Furry's body and slid between Furry's legs.
Furry gasped as the Marten's little touches sent fire along her spine. She reached up to touch Kiza's thigh, to slide her own fingers along the soft red fur, easing towards Kiza's warm sex. She spread Kiza's lips open, looking at the excited red flesh that shone through the soft red fur. Kiza gasped. "Furry!"
"Fair is fair, roomie," she giggled.
"Oh, really?" Kiza laughed and slid a finger into Furry's cunny. Furry arched her back. Kiza curled her finger upwards and pressed it against Furry's pubic bone. The sensation was unlike anything she had felt before, especially when Kiza slid the finger down along the inside of her cunt, from pubic bone until she could just barely touch her cervix, and all along the way a plethora of different sensations, all wonderful, drove Furry out of her mind with lust.
Kiza stopped suddenly, and Furry looked up at her, gasping. "How do you... do that?"
"I play with myself a lot," Kiza replied, smiling. "I know what feels good on me. I just figured I'd try it on you."
"It works!" Furry replied.
"Good!" Kiza said, smiling as her finger pressed up against Furry's cunt again. She slid down to her roommate's spread legs and, as she slid a second finger into Furry and stroked her insides, kissed Furry's clitoris. A welcome moan escaped Furry's lips.
Kiza's fingers pressed into Furry's cunt more insistently, twisting back and forth in time with flickers of her tongue over her roommate's clit.
Furry's body thrashed against the bed, her breathing coming in heavy gasps as Kiza dove deeper into her cunt, pushing her harder. Climax after climax swept through her, making her tremble with pleasure. "Kiza!" she screamed. "Enough!"
Kiza stopped, backing away a little. "Too much?"
Furry's body trembled gently still as Kiza lay up next to her. "A little much, Kiza. Oh rings! Kiza, where did you learn to do that?"
"I just did what I know feels good on me. I figured that was the best way to do it."
"Oh, it was," Furry sighed. "That was wonderful." She ran her hands over Kiza's small body, and found the small shivers she gave in response delightful. "It's your turn."
"You don't have to do anything," Kiza insisted.
"But I want to, Kiza, I do." Her fingers found their way between Kiza's legs, and Kiza smiled, a soft churring sound starting in her throat. "You want me to?"
"Yes..." Kiza gasped softly. "Oh, yes."
Furry lifted her hand to her lips, licking a finger until the fur was wet through. "Now, you did this..." she said, sliding a finger into Kiza's body and pressing upwards. Kiza gasped again. "That's neat. I can even feel where I'm pressing against."
"Yeah..." Kiza moaned softly.
"And then you slid your fingers back..." The soft texture of Kiza's inside slid under the pad of her fingertip; under the pubic bone had been a firm pad of flesh, and as she slid back it gave way to softer tissue, and then she felt the little nub, shaped like a tiny volcano, she thought, of the cervix. Kiza's body twisted on the bed, her hands clenched and her eyes drawn tight. "Furry!"
"Shh..." Furry smiled. "You like that."
"It's so strong! Please... lighter..."
Furry back off, looking down and seeing her hand becoming coated in Kiza's juices. She leaned over and licked at them, tasting another fem for her first time. The taste was surprisingly sweet. She slid around on the bed, trading places, and began licking at Kiza's cunny selfishly, licking up the sweet fluid her roommate produced.
"Ohhh..." Kiza moaned softly, whimpering. Furry licked harder, feeling her roommate's body tense. She suddenly remembered her hand and began stroking within Kiza's cunny again, pressing upwards as she had been shown. Kiza thrashed about on the bed, fighting with herself to not to move away from Furry's mouth and hands. Furry licked harder.
Kiza screamed as she came, kicking at the bed and gasping loudly, dragging her roommate's name out, "Furrrrry!"
Jofuran smiled up at Kiza. "Are you okay?"
"Oh, Fah, Furry, come here. Hold me."
Confused and concerned, Furry crawled up the bed and lay next to Kiza, holding her tightly. "Are you okay?" she repeated.
"Furry," Kiza gasped softly. "Nobody's ever made love to me like that. Nobody's ever paid attention like that to me... ever. That was probably the best lovemaking I've ever had in my life."
"It's been a short life, Kiza!"
"Yes... but that was the best of it. Oh, Fah, Furry... I know, I know promised, but I want you. I want to keep you."
"I know," she said, swallowing. "I know. And I know it's a silly thing to want, Furry. But you're so perfect, so wonderful." She wrapped an arm around Furry. Furry stiffened, then relaxed, trying to sort her own feelings out. "Furry, I promise I won't come between you and Nickolai. But please, don't hate me because I want you so much."
Furry closed her eyes and snuggled next to her roommate. "I won't, Kiza. I promise. But I want you to look for someone else. Can you do that?"
Kiza nodded. "I can. As long as you don't push me away from you... too quickly."
"I won't do that," Furry promised. "I do like you, Kiza. A lot. I just have someone else, someone who means a lot to me. You can understand that, can't you?"
Kiza nodded. "I'll try to understand."
It's been a while since you last received a letter, but my class schedule has just overwhelmed me. There are four language requirements on my schedule! But you knew that.
Mom found a place to go to, and so my folks are again off-world. So much for their promise to "hang around" for a while, huh? It's not so bad; I'm at University now, and it helps because I've got a few friends in the exoarcheology (what other kind of archeology does a ringworld have?) department.
I may as well get to the serious stuff quickly. You might remember my roommate, Kiza? I mentioned her in my last letter somewhere. I have a problem. Kolya, she's fallen in love with me. It wasn't something she meant to do, and I didn't want it either! But it's happened.
You have to understand her; she's never had a real long-term relationship. She gets very frightened when people start to know her well. But she was stuck with me, so she put up with my getting to know everything about her before we... we made love. It was something that just... happened. I know I'll try and handle it carefully; I do care about her, but I also know that in the end you're the man who's right for me, and I'm going to have to tell her that sometime.
Please don't be angry with me. I still love you, you're still the most important person in the universe to me. She's attached herself to me, though. And I do care for her. I do worry. I'm trying to help her find someone else, someone right for her. It'll be a while... there are still sixteen months before I see you again. In the meantime I dream about you always.
Your beloved Jofuran.