Elenya, Urim 06, 03198
A Pleasing Shape, Chapter 4: Lessons
"She moved, huh?" Peren waved a hand in front of Jouet's eyes, but the doll's face remained still.
"Last night. I woke up because it was cold, and she brought me the blankets."
Peren was wearing a big, red oversized nightshirt that she'd dug out of the costumery she'd bought for Jouet. Darzi had suspected that many of the things Peren brought were things Peren herself wished she could wear, but was too short or wrongly built for. Peren's tiny stature and pronounced bosom made her an eye-catcher, and the nightshirt somehow succeeded in both obscuring those charms and accentuating them. The nightshirt had the most fetching way of creating shadows as it draped itself into Peren's cleavage. Darzi contemplated what he'd mix with a Chroma Red to get just that right depth of shadow. He contemplated getting his hands underneath Peren's outfit.
"Huh," Peren said again. She pulled her little box of spliffs out of her bag and put one into her mouth.
"What are those?" Darzi asked.
"Huh?" Peren took the little white stick out of her mouth and looked at it. "A mix of things. A-T nicotine, modaffeine-C. Nothing big. Just some calm focus, minor stuff. Everything in it is organically grown, ground into a sugar and flour binder.
Darzi recognized the names of the drugs. He shrugged. "You never seem stoned."
"That's because I never am," Peren said. "These aren't stoner stuff."
"That's good. I just wanted to make sure." He took a deep breath. Why was it so damn hard to use the 'L' word this morning? He'd had no problem last night. He'd been flush with success and cash and assurance, but this morning he was as neurotic as ever. "We could ask Claude."
"Would he tell us the truth?" Peren asked. "I don't trust his motives. All that 'for your own good' stuff makes me nervous." She grinned at him, and he could see how much she meant it. "But he did give her the initial seeds for her behavior right now, right? Maybe he's running an experiment."
"Oh, great," Darzi said.
"Don't worry, Tower," Peren said. "There's nothing that says that Jouet here is going to do what he expects. Is there?" Jouet, to the surprise of both, shook her head. "She moved!"
"I told you," Darzi said. "Jouet, can you talk?"
Jouet shook her head again. Peren said, "Who are you here for?"
Jouet turned her eyes up to Darzi. Peren said, "Well, I guess that answers that." But then Jouet reached out and put her hand on Peren's arm, and turned her head to look at Peren. "Me, too?"
Jouet tried to nod, but then she fell over onto the bed. "Whoop," Peren said. She righted the doll. "Sorry."
Jouet tried to smile, but it looked wrong. "You'll have to practice that." Jouet's eyes widened in acknowledgement, and maybe some sadness. "Looks like you've got yourself a companion, Darzi. I don't know that she can be attached to both of us. Can you?"
Jouet shook her head. "Then you're Darzi's, right?" Nod. This time, she didn't fall over. "But you like me, right?" A more vigorous nod, and Peren had to push on Jouet's shoulder to keep her upright. "Work on that, too." A much smaller nod. Peren looked up. "I think she practices when you're not here, Tower. That's why you find her on her side all the time. She's still trying to figure out how to move around."
They both left Jouet in the bedroom. Darzi took his time trying to marshal thoughts that wouldn't. "I don't know what to do. She's... conscious."
"Seems that way," Peren said. She smiled. "Look at it this way, Darzi. Soon she'll be more self-maintaining. She'll be able to tell you if she wants you to bang her." She playfully socked him on the arm. "What have you got for breakfast in here?"
She moved through his apartment as if she'd always lived there, and Darzi shuffled through emotions a dozen at a time to figure out how he felt. He had thought last night that he was madly in love with Peren, and now in the light of day... there was nothing wrong with her. He thought about the lovemaking of the night before, how wonderful it had been, and he thought that maybe he should try and recapture that once more. He looked back into the bedroom and Jouet, who lay against the wall once more, eyes vacant, staring. Thinking.
Where did his desires take him now?
Just how much money did he have? Darzi had never thought much about money for a day in his life. The AIs made sure he had enough, kept the ecosystem of humanity running along at a pleasant enough pace. Discovery was one of those hybrid planets-- built along the Pendorian model of AI oversight, but expected now and then to produce brilliance among its burden of artists and musicians and even its scientists and historians, who would increase the overall value of the world, pushing up its glacially growing gross domestic product, preventing the whole of the planet from slipping into decadence. Occasionally one of these budded geniuses would export themselves to llerkin or Pendor or Terra or some other colony. The whole thing as carefully pruned as a English garden.
Darzi's eyes took in his PADD, lying on the tiled kitchen counter like a totem of some strange and wonderful discovery, and realized that if he never looked at it he'd never really know.
As Peren bent over to look in his cupboard, the nightshirt riding up just enough to reveal the very lowest curves of her butt, Darzi stood paralyzed. There wasn't really that much for him to do, he knew. Buy paint and canvas. Paint more. Jouet would take care of herself. So would Peren. "Are you up for posing this morning?" he asked.
"If you sell it, can I get a share of the profits?"
Darzi didn't hesitate. "Sure."
Three months later, Darzi had three more paintings to show off at the local coffee shop. Two were massive works, three meters on a side, one a pornographic posing of Jouet, the other a picture of a carefully clothed Peren. The third was a smaller work, a return to the hallway and the light he loved, this time with the boxes in which he'd found Jouet. He only worked on those for an hour at a time, trying to keep the light consistent. He named it "The Beginning."
Peren visited even when she wasn't the subject of his paintings. She would sit, playing music aloud. She had to wear headphones when Darzi was painting Jouet; the robot's eyes came to life whenever she played, and her head swayed with the music. She still wasn't speaking, but she was much more responsive, and could even return to the empty-eyed look when Darzi asked.
The three paintings did okay at the coffee shop. Not nearly as well as the first set, but Darzi didn't care. His private work didn't interfere with his classes; if anything, Madame Quenilda seemed to demand more of him at the atelier. "Texture! Depth! What more can you achieve with the materials that Rembrandt used?"
Peren and he sat in Firing Range Coffee with a friend of hers, another Mustela names Neeomia. Peren was admiring the painting of herself on the wall. Darzi was more than tempted to do a few of her and just give them to her, so she could have something to admire from both of them. He wondered if it was truly sad that he couldn't have children, and then he blinked. Where had that thought come from?
She started tapping on the edge of the coffee cup with her fingers, a rapid staccato. Sometimes she did that when trying to figure out a rhythm, but this was too fast, abrupt and distonic. He gestured to the cup. "What's up?"
"School's ending for the year soon."
"Yeah, so?" Darzi didn't care. School went on all year long. The artificial distinctions of seasons and years never occurred to him. He went to the atelier when the schedule said he should, painted at home when he wasn't there, went out once or twice a week with Peren and maybe a few others when he could get together with them, and enjoyed his life otherwise.
"I promised my parents I'd be going back to see them for four months," she said.
"Soon?" Darzi said.
She nodded. "Two weeks from now."
"But..." He stopped. "I want you to pose for some summer light pictures. Another one out by the tree."
"You have Jouet," she said. "I know, she's not all you want to paint. She's not me, right?" She grinned. Darzi knew that look. "C'mon, Tower, you know you'll do well without me."
Darzi felt numb. "I don't know, Peren. You've been like... here since I started to get good."
"I'll come back. I promise. I'd hate to think you were banging poor Jouet every night."
"You don't really do your mannequin, do you?" Neeomia asked suddenly.
"Not since he met me," Peren said, grinning. Darzi blushed hard. "Besides, she's a love-bot underneath it all. And she's not a mannequin, she's a robot. Maybe you're depriving her, Tower. Maybe that's why her progress is so slow."
"I love making you blush," she said, reaching over and touching his cheek. "You're too much fun, Tower." Darzi forced a grin against reluctant facial muscles. "Besides, I won't be mad if you do do her while I'm gone. You're a healthy guy."
Neeomia grinned and said, "I could keep him busy."
"I could paint you," Darzi said.
"But if you bang him," Peren said, and then she growled low and threateningly, then grinned.
Neeomia laughed. "Is it hard work, posing?"
"Yes," Peren said, and left it at that.
The night before she was scheduled to SDisk up to the orbital, they ended up back at her apartment. It occurred to him that he'd never been inside and hadn't known what to expect. It wasn't all that different from his own: her bed was a lot bigger and took up a lot more room, the windows were smaller, her mattress softer. The colors were mauve and pale and gentle, girlish. The coverlet on her bed was frilly. It smelled different in her room, like comfortable old fur. He recognized her body shampoo. "It's nice in here."
She smiled up at him. "You'd like anything as long as it led to your getting laid or a chance to paint."
"Or both," he agreed, defusing her gentle bite. He pulled her close. "I'm going to miss you."
"Oh, Fah, Tower, I'm gonna miss you too. My grades have gone up since I met you."
"Really? You didn't tell me that."
"Now I did," she said. "Yeah, hanging out with you has made me want to make better music. That canto I was working on, the one that made Jouet move, won honors!"
"Wow," he said.
"Yeah. I'm going up. That's why I don't want to go home, even though I promised my parents that I would. Pendor-- you get a lot of bad habits from Pendor. Like doing nothing."
"Lot of people do nothing here on Discovery, too."
"Yeah, but it's a different kind of nothing. It's hard to explain. You'd have to be there to experience it." Darzi tried to imagine there being different kinds of "doing nothing," and couldn't quite come up with any. "But I'm not here to do nothing."
Darzi grinned. She grabbed him by the hand and the two of them landed on her bed, tossing one another over until she landed on top. Darzi liked that, the feel of her, the solid feel of her body on top of his. She pressed her muzzle to his mouth, and he could feel her breasts pushing against his chest through the fabric of their outfits. He wrapped a hand around her neck and held her, mouth and muzzle sliding against one another. Darzi's mouth watered with desire for her, a good feeling even after so many months together, and he was grateful for a position that let him keep swallowing. He didn't want to drool on her, not yet.
The kisses went on for a long time . The softness of her mattress threatened to swallow him up. His hands found their way into her blouse, found the clasp of her bra. Without hesitating in mid-kiss he opened the clasps and felt the weight of her large breasts drop further onto his chest, the tense of her shoulders as she reacted to the weight, the increased intensity of her kiss as they took one step further.
Although her breasts were large, her nipples were tiny, not affected by whatever tic caused them to grow. Darzi rolled the two of them over and hunted for one with his tongue. He'd learned how much she liked having them sucked on, and he was determined do this right. She whimpered hot as he found one, pulled on it with just his lips and tongue, teeth playing softly in the fur that surrounded it. "Lick me, Darzi."
Darzi happily slipped down her torso, over the short fur of her belly down to her mound. Peren had such a beautiful mound, he thought, so full and puffy when she was aroused, and the actual opening was so low, down in a deep cleft that was hard to get into. She had large labia that folded over on themselves, another challenge. In so many ways, Peren's naturalness was in bold contrast to Jouet's clear, artificial accessibility. He had discovered that he loved going down on Peren, on the challenge of finding his way through her strandy fur and down into the folds of hur pussy, down into that deep cleft where her clitoris lie. "Fingers," she gasped, a word he had heard before, and then he was pounding at her with his hand, one finger curled up against the textured ridge where all the nerve endings behind her clitoris hid. He loved the sweetness of her fluids, the honeyed sea smell and taste of her, from the initial ripe, aged smell of embedded since her last bath to the sweet new flows he created with his attentions.
She came twice, each time a complex crescendo of moans and whimpers. It was hard to tell exactly when she came and when she had had too much. He had learned, however, the deep sighing sounds when she had had enough.
He sat back on his heels, looking up the short length of her body, still heaving. She laughed. "Oh, fah, Darzi, what am I going to do without you for four months?"
"I don't know," he said. His cock was getting harder now. It had been quiet the whole time he'd been licking her, but it knew that its turn on stage was coming soon. "Maybe I'll do Jouet like you suggest."
"Do me, now."
He pitched forward, covering her body with his, and then he was inside her. She was tight, tighter than Jouet even, but shaped differently inside. He could feel the differences in her anatomy, the curve of her sweet tunnel not built entirely for him or any man. They made love slowly, taking time.
Darzi slipped out, and he laughed. "Pillow?" They'd learned how to deal with her depth and odd angle by putting a pillow underneath her.
"No," she said. She reached to her left. He thought she was going to get something-- it was her room, who knew what surprises it held?-- but she turned over onto her knees, sinking into the bed. Her short, broad tail covered her ass, but he knew what she wanted.
"Like this? You're sure?"
Darzi aimed his cock into her and slid in, one quick stroke. He was pressed up against her ass, her tail pushed out of the way by his body, and he grabbed her by the waist and began to fuck her, hard. Peren made "Mmm! Mmmmm!" noises, louder and louder, as his cock slid in and out of her. Soon she was crying out loud, "Yes, fah, yes!" and Darzi came with a loud cry of her name.
She turned over slowly, falling into the soft bed again. She looked ready to be swallowed up by it. "That was different."
"I've wanted you to do that for a while. I'm not sure why."
"Was it good?"
"Very good," she told him. "I'll miss you."
"I'll miss you too.." He kissed her, and she returned his affection. This was what he'd miss: her. Not the sex, although that was good. He'd miss complicated Peren, the fem who kept him happy. He didn't know really what he'd do.