1 This must be what is meant by “madly in love”, or being “crazy about” someone. Intense, as one would expect. Unprecedented. Useless, or worse. Blake? What in Hell have I ever done to deserve being in love with Blake?
How, based on a pretext that would have been rejected as hoary by any reasonably savvy centurion back when Christ was a corporal… did he end up asleep in my bed (my bed)? How did we end up spot-welded by a most unsavoury melding of our bio-products? If it’s a matter of definitions, this must be what is meant by “shagged senseless”. Diverting all that blood from the brain—well, what sort of judgement can you expect under such circumstances?
Move over, Swann. You think you got yourself into a spot of bother over someone who wasn’t even your type? You didn’t even begin to fathom the concept of “not your type”.
I don’t know what’s the worst of it. That it was with a man—that is, altogether too similar, too close for comfort? Or that it was with Blake? He’s his own fucking species, it’s beyond miscegenation.
Going to bed with someone you don’t like—that’s unnatural, isn’t it? Well, at least if there’s no money changing hands.
2 Concentrating, really concentrating, is wonderful. It always has been, back when it was just me, a maths problem, and a screen, or even a bit of paper. It’s perfect—alone, in the sense of having no distractions, but not alone, in the sense of having the work.
Round here, the average time between entering this blessed country, and some fool stumbling into it in hobnail boots, is circa three seconds plus or minus a second.
So of course I could hear Blake trying to be silent. (Travis could have heard him. Two sectors away.) I could see him studying me because he thought I couldn’t see him.
Actually it wasn’t as annoying as I would have projected. In one sense, he shattered the stillness. But in another sense, the duality of me watching Blake watching me had the same perfect egg-shape as the duality of me and a problem. So I didn’t mind letting the sensors wait for a while. Blake wanted some calibrations run, or wanted that as a pretext to get off the flight deck.
And that was all right. Because I wanted a pretext to look at him. Just look at him, nominally to diagnose this insanity (insh’allah, temporary). But really, just to look at him.
If I had any interest at all in men (all right, if I had had any previous interest at all…), well, wouldn’t I want someone handsomer?
3 “It’s not good for your back, sitting hunched over like that,” he said. This is true enough, but it’s not good for Jenna’s or Cally’s either, and entire limbs could drop off either of them before Blake would offer to intervene.
Oh God his hand felt so cool on the back of my neck, metaphorically an oasis in the desert. That’s a Biblical phrase—oh my love and coolth. I always liked that, in part because there were only about four days a year at home when it ever got hot enough to welcome being any cooler. Literally, his hand felt cool because I made him nervous. Well, good. Let him have a dose of his own medicine.
He terrifies me.
Then he moved his hand, and I thought both, dammit, he’s taking it away, and good, this has gone far enough.
One hand on each of my shoulders, abrupt, rhythmic caresses—well, I suppose he thought he was massaging my shoulders. No he didn’t—no one could be that naïve.
I bent forward minimally, marginally, nominally so he could have slightly better access, and so I could pillow my head on my crossed arms. That way, he couldn’t see my face. He pressed down gently, until the nape of my neck was exposed, and all I could think of is the bite of a hungry, or rather a lustfully possessive, lion.
And for a moment I was angry as hell. I’ll submit to him the day after Travis reads him his rights. The moment passed, though, and I wondered if anyone has to submit to anyone, if I couldn’t channel and expiate this ludicrous passion I feel for him into the pleasure of our two bodies.
“I can’t really reach you like this,” he said. We’ve clicked on Double Entendre View, I thought. “You need a proper lying-down massage.”
“Are you offering?”
“I have been told my technique is quite good.”
“Then you’ve done this before.”
“And the crowd went wild.”
“Good,” I said. “Science progresses only by experiment, but I prefer to be the researcher rather than the microbe.”
“I’ve got some massage oil in my cabin,” he said, all bluff and hearty. I’ll just bet you have, I thought. “I’ll go and get it,” he said. “I’ll be in your cabin in a moment.”
My cabin, of course. Not only does that make it easy for him to get up and leave, but he could rely on the fact that I made the bed in the morning. God knows the last time he made his—the last time his Mum had any authority, or the Second Punic War, probably.
4 “You don’t expect me to do it through your shirt, do you?” he asked with specious reasonableness. I don’t know what I expected—to get it ripped off my body? to really drive him round the twist by casting him a sidelong glance and divesting it on a thread-by-thread basis? Probably to defer for another three seconds or so a real acknowledgement of what we were doing.
Say it. I proposed having it off with a man. A fellow-owner, or perhaps one should say lessor, of one of those inconvenient appendages with its wealth of suggestions, one less convenient and more unhygienic than the previous.
It’s illegal, for one thing. It’s a Class B offence. As, of course, is grand larceny in the first degree, but you can get some sort of respect for that.
Amazing that you can stop for a moment and visualise a boundary—an honest citizen on one side, a criminal on the other. Normal on one side, queer on the other.
5 Oh Christ goddamn. When he tipped the oil onto my back, just feeling that, like taking a blast from a flame-thrower loaded with confetti (or electrons). Just knowing that he was going to touch me, it was all I could do to keep from drilling the bed like a hummingbird with a severe cocaine problem. Even with a full upper-and-lower set of dental impressions on my wrist, Blake could still hear me moan.
Making fun of it is a distancing tactic, isn’t it? But it was funny. Inter alia.
The sound of his hands, rubbing together, buffered with the oil. The sound, almost more than the sensation, of his hands, moving through the oil on my back. His skin against mine. At that moment, it was only the skin of the palms of his hands, neutral enough. That is, until somehow he slipped and fell forward onto me. Slipped? Oh, I suppose it could have been an accident. This is Blake we’re talking about, after all.
But I did think that he was showing bad faith toward the, admittedly substantial, erection very firmly pressed into my thigh. A fat lot of good that was doing either of us there.
“If this is all some clumsy attempt at a seduction, Blake, I shall be most annoyed.”
“Some people enjoy it,” he said, a little too defensively.
“To seduce is to take advantage,” I said. “To induce someone to do something—well, she, generally speaking—doesn’t want or approve of. What are you doing here?”
“I came to give you a back rub. That’s all.”
“Oh. Well, my back is feeling better. How’s yours?”
“Confused. Tied in knots. Like the rest of me.”
6 I must say I felt a bit defensive. I’d given back rubs before, but in an amateurish way, more an excuse to cover as large a surface as possible with emollients. Equally, I must admit that the stupid bastard had made a study of it.
I wanted to show him a thing or two about who knew more about back rubs, but as it happened, it was he. And anyway, it’s bloody difficult to get any mechanical advantage, propped up at an unnatural angle—now, that’s what’s unnatural!—to postpone detection of an erection that didn’t seem any easier to conceal than a rocket launch in a birdbath.
Perhaps I was wrong. There isn’t a moment, but a process, a flow. There was the moment when I took a deep breath and initiated the sequence to transfer all those digits, those electronic pulses, representing all that money, to Anna and me. But that moment would have meant nothing without the programming I did, which in turn would have meant nothing without the decision to do it.
Intellectually, it’s not a very sound analogy. What if everyone went around embezzling large sums? It wouldn’t work. What would happen if every man had a cock in his hand—and, well, another man’s in his other hand? Sod-all, really, as long as someone took the trouble to reproduce the species.
So I spent a few minutes, giving a passable imitation of a man giving Blake a back rub. It might have deceived a naïve observer, but it was hopeless nonetheless. At that point, I told myself that I could still have stopped, pulled away (although I wouldn’t bet my life on my acting talents), blamed him for the whole fiasco, and altogether made him wait for blackmail like a slave humbly waiting for the lash to fall.
Blackmail, though? It wasn’t a very credible threat. Jenna wouldn’t believe that Blake found me attractive. Cally would be boundlessly tolerant of any hormone-driven human activity. Gan would think that I shouldn’t have mentioned it. He already thinks I’m a cad. Vila would have said that he knew along that Blake was barmy, and making a pass at me just proved his case.
7 In some ways it was quite satisfactory in and of itself. Blake prostrated on my bed. A table prepared in the presence of my enemies, although at the moment he was the most troublesome of my enemies. About twenty-five percent of Blake available to my hands, his skin smooth even without the oil. The oil smelled like oranges and vanilla. Blake smelled like civet and chypre with a pleasing top note of anxiety.
Self-interest dictated a few more minutes of massage, then sending Blake off to his cabin with a hearty slap on the shoulder. No doubt to be followed by two complementary sessions of solitary (not to mention nasty, brutal, and especially short) vice.
Lust could have gone either way, evidently I was. But love. Love dictated that we continue. That I continue. Poor old self-interest lost out, again. How I regretted that, then, but particularly later.
8 Sooner or later, I was going to have to kiss him, which would be the final and most incriminating admission. As the back-rub pretence sputtered out, he started to turn around. There was a moment when he was lying on his back, and I, rearing back as far as possible, could touch his torso a little. It was awkward as hell at that angle.
I could see his face, for a moment, but it was too intimate, that pain added to arousal closed my eyes. He reached up carefully and touched my face. His fingers were just out of reach, I wanted to suck them into my mouth until his hand disappeared.
With my back arched like that, I’d be fit for traction in minutes. So that was why I shifted down on the bed, lying next to Blake, my head on his shoulder as a very inadequate stopgap measure.
I’m an average sort of height, for a man, a height which is not unattainable for a woman. Still and all, I’m used to having my body enclose, and surround, and protect.
Oh charming. In other words, not only did Blake have the wrong body parts, but they were all in the wrong place.
He bent his head a little, and tilted my chin up a little, and I could feel his teeth through the lips pressed to my mouth. Blake has a rather stubborn beard, you can feel the stubble just a few hours after he shaves, so I felt it then, quite unlike the smoothness and reminiscence of perfume I was used to.
My hand was on his hip, and it slid backwards to a more stable position. Then he had one hand behind my neck, one on the small of my back. To get the arch out of my back, I moved my leg until it was on top of his.
How could I breathe in such a position? So of course my lips parted and my mouth opened for a series of shuddering breaths. And that was very bad: to lie there, my mouth stretched open, receiving his thrusts, longing for the next stroke. Not quite “begin as you mean to go on”.
What the hell were we doing? He let me push him back and straddle him, and the wonderful feeling of heat and pressure against me, and the small sounds generated by the Blake-fingertip interface very nearly served to distract me from the terrifying realisation.
Now I’ll never get out of here. I’ll never be able to leave, never be able to go anywhere safe. He can ask me anything, and I’ll do it.
9 I pulled away abruptly, and the expression on Blake’s face shifted (though I don’t really know what it was before, I couldn’t get my eyes open for the life of me). I bent over and removed his socks, with no particular gentleness, and did the same for my own.
He’d never think of it, and what could be more ridiculous than a large man, flaunting a rampant erection and a pair of FSA-surplus khaki socks that he picked up in a job lot somewhere?
“Oh,” he said, desperately relieved. Trust Blake to escalate the situation. He touched the waistband of my trousers, fearing or perhaps hoping for denial of permission, but I nodded just a little bit, and very quickly and unsubtly I was naked and unable to assert any sort of claim to objectivity. Then it was my turn to feel alone, as he turned away. For a second, I thought that he was going to walk away, leave me exposed and lonely. That’s just like him. (No, actually it’s just like me, I’d better keep track, confusion on such points can be fatal.) But all he did was strip off his trousers and pants.
Just as you’d expect. A blunt instrument. I think I can lay claim to a certain elegance of silhouette, in that regard. Blake certainly seemed to find it acceptable. He kissed my mouth again but not enough, and moved down my body, until I was shivering and turning beneath his hands and crying out over and over.
If he knew as much about tactics as he knows about cocksucking, the ticker tape parade celebrating our victory would have been held six months ago. Despite having the pillow clasped over my face so desperately that I felt like a one-man show of the fifth act of every Shakespearean tragedy (self-smothered, killing myself to die on a kiss), I knew that in a moment I would dissolve into his mouth and, worse, scream.
He did stop, say that for him.
“I had anticipated doing something with a bit more mutuality.”
I thought about, and discarded, the option of reciprocating what he had been doing. I wasn’t ready yet. Given the variable quality of the blow jobs I had received in the past, there must be something to it. Well, I can learn. After all, my previous life hadn’t been marked by an unending round of spaceship repairs either.
I did feel confident about being able to provide a fairly adequate hand job; men have an advantage here. In spite of any and all evidence, women never really believe that something of value actually can and should be slammed around like that.
So I got my arms around him, our bodies juxtaposed, and I kissed him, and we moved together. Damnably, at some point, far earlier than I would have liked, I came off against him, and I’m sure I said a few things that I would not wish to have taken down and used in a court of law.
With any luck at all, my autonomic nervous system continued to caress Blake, because for a bit I was in no condition to do much of anything. As I rose through layers of almost-consciousness, I could focus a little better with every moment, with every touch, every taste, every stroke of my fingers against the solidity and amplitude of Blake. Once you get root access, you can do anything you like with a system.
“I love you,” he said, although perhaps that should be discounted because at that moment he was thrusting very hard into my hand, against my hip, both his thighs crushing one of mine.
“Well, stop it. D’you know the first thing that Napoleon—oh, you know, Servalan’s remote great-uncle—used to ask when they gave him the name of someone to be made a general? ‘Is he lucky?’ I’m not. This sort of thing is all very well in its place, but I should hate for it to get out of control.”
Now he’ll never be able to get out of here. Worse and worse.
Oh Lord. We know what we are but we know not what we may be.
And now he’s asleep, but there is no rest for the wicked, and I am retracing some of the more interesting bits of him. When he wakes up, if he can’t tell how I feel about him in the way I touch him, well, he’s a greater fool than I thought.
Well, now, What are we doing in love?
What are we doing in a mess like this?
You had to be someone I couldn’t resist…