Fiction~~The Last Pure Human~~Ch. 12
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Chapter 12 - Father and the Pink Blob
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sighed sleepily, rubbing his face on the soft cloth underneath him. He
hadn’t felt so rested and boneless in ages. Man, he loved sleeping in.
Just letting your body rest while your mind zoned out, warm and soft
Why was he being petted?
He opened one eye and stared at the browned skin a few inches from his face. Huh? He sat up, peering around blearily in the bright light, and the cats and voices crashed over him like a wave. Kasan was next to him, smiling, and he had…
“Oh my GOD! Did we just- ? You just -? What did you do to me?!” Max jumped to his feet, slipped on his cushion, and fell sideways into Zonta. His legs smacked into the table on his way down, and the water and plate of flowers went flying. Kasan caught the water pitcher before it landed on the floor, and ended up with a pile of red flowers decorating his hair and ears. Max stared at him as Zonta’s hands helped him to his feet.
For the love of God, they’d just fucked against a wall! A WALL! And Max had been the one to come onto KASAN!! He’d gotten so horny just looking at Kasan that he’d actually wanted it! He’d practically attacked him!
It was worse than being a cock whore! At least if he was a whore, he just lay there and enjoyed things. Now he was attacking other men for sex! He was a… a… an ass commando or something! How could he have done that? He let out a pitiful moan and whimpered as his throat hurt. Why would his throat hurt? It wasn’t…
A shiver ran through his body as he remembered screaming Kasan’s name. He had actually screamed himself hoarse. From sex. And he was suddenly aware of stinging and aches in very freaking intimate places. Every detail about how he’d gotten them slammed into him.
It made him a little hard again.
“Noooooo! It’s not fair! How can you make guy-sex that good?!” Max clamped his lips shut. He didn’t want to like this, but it was like he was getting worse! He was getting addicted to Kasan. Was that possible? He looked at Kasan and the slight sheen on bronze skin made him pant suddenly. Fuck! It was! He was an anal-sex-with-aliens addict!
“Why is this happening to me? I was a good kid! I went to church, dammit! I- “ Kasan stood and Max shut up as he looked high into Kasan’s face. He gulped. He was just never going to get used to having to look up so high at everyone. It was too nerve wracking. “You’re way the hell too tall, Kasan.”
A flower fell off of Kasan’s hair and he shook his head irritably until petals rained down onto Max. Waving his arms, Max brushed them away.
“Hey! I don’t need a flower shower, okay!”
Kasan ran his hand over his own head, picking out a few remaining petals and unraveling the remains of a long braid in the process. He reached down, picked up the papers that were still on the table, and held them out to Max.
Kasan screwed him until he passed out, and now he wanted to act like nothing had happened? That was just… just…
“Just like the first time.” Max grumbled. Crap. Why did no one think this was a problem but him?! Kasan wasn’t upset about it at all; Max could tell. Those ears of his were all perky and happy looking. Didn’t Kasan realize what a big deal this was? It was huge! Hot sex, WALL, multiple orgasms in the middle of a party…
…kinda like a spy film, if you thought about it just right.
He sighed and rubbed his face. “Yeah, if the big, badass spy was the one getting screwed.” He suddenly felt a lot of sympathy for all the women in those action movies. “What would a movie chick do if she just got screwed against a wall?”
Like he even needed to ask. They’d go back to the party like nothing happened. And then they’d turn out to be the double agent and try to kill the spy later. Stupid randy spies. If he ever got to name a spy film, he was going to call it: Badass Spy Gets Exactly What He Deserves for Being Such a Horny Bastard.
Damn. He looked up at Kasan. There was a bright petal still stuck next to one black ear. Fine, Kasan was acting like nothing had happened? Max could do the same thing. He’d just pretend and make sure he never did something like this again. Sort of like his first blind date.
Except it had been so good.
He shook his head. No more! Kasan was smiling at him, still holding onto the papers, and Max concentrated on that instead. He was not going to think of the darn sex, he’d think of what was happening, that’s all. Think of right now, when Kasan was being nice and helpful.
He looked rather sexy when he smiled like that.
Max ground his teeth and tried again. Think of something else. Anything else!
Kasan wasn’t going to give him away.
Thank God, because if someone else screwed him up against a wall he’d…
Kasan was… He was… Oh yeah…married to him.
How often did married couples HAVE sex here, anyway?
Aaaaaagh! No more stupid sex thoughts! Max wanted to pound at his head. He was NOT going to think about Kasan and how gigantic he was or how smooth his skin was or how sexy his smile was or…
Moaning under his breath, Max grabbed at his hair with both hands. He had more self-control than this! Dammit, if he could learn over a dozen languages, he could go five minutes without thinking about some pushy alien and how fantastic the sex with him was!
Think. He had to think of something that wasn’t sexy at all. Putting his hands down, he stared at Kasan. Kasan stood there, waiting, holding out the papers. He rustled them at Max as though he didn’t know if Max had seen them, and Max suddenly had an image of his fourth grade homeroom teacher. She’d always rustled the homework papers she was returning if she thought a student wasn’t paying attention.
He pictured Kasan dressed in the baby blue sweater, tweed skirt, and granny glasses she’d always worn. Muscles would be bulging out and Kasan would look at the clothes in confused disgust and accidentally smash the glasses as he looked at them. Max laughed once.
Not sexy in the least, just funny. Finally. Max reached up to take the papers from Kasan, and the big cat smiled. He looked relieved. It was like he’d been expecting Max to completely freak out or something.
Hmph. If he was flipping out, it was all Kasan’s fault anyway. Stupid, sexy jerk.
Still smiling, Kasan handed the translations over and leaned down at the same time to kiss him. His hand full of paper, Max stared into Kasan’s eyes as their lips touched. Soft and warm, it only lasted a few moments. Just long enough for Max’s entire body respond before Kasan pulled back. There were a few laughing comments yelled out around the room and Max flushed, shaking himself free from whatever haze Kasan seemed to have poured over his brain.
“Kasan! How can you- We just screwed, you stupid sex fiend! You- You-“ Max’s fists clenched, crushing his papers, and he felt like throwing them at the big pervert. “Fine! You’re so happy I didn’t lose it that you go and kiss me? I’m gonna freak out for the rest of the night! How do you like that!?”
A deep voice spoke from just behind him and he jumped. He turned quickly. These stupid cats and their stupid quiet walking and…
“Shit!” His throat closed up; all he could get out was a ragged squeak. He started backpedaling frantically. The perverted cat! The big, red headed pervert who’d grabbed him last night! Max backed right into Kasan and he didn’t say a peep as the man wrapped an arm around his chest to anchor him there. Kasan groping him? Perfectly fine! Kasan taking him away to screw against a different wall? Freaking fine! Anything that kept the other pervert away was perfectly, wonderfully fine!!
“I’ve got people to seduce before all the good ones are spoken for, Kasan. Can you get it going with the introductions to your little cutie pie here?”
“Max, Aosh. Aosh, Max,” Kasan said in a irritable tone, pointing between the two of them. Aosh bowed quickly and said their little greeting. Max got out a ‘pleased to meet you’ so fast it was probably incomprehensible, but he didn’t care. Almost everyone seemed to leave after they said it, so he was hoping the perverted bastard would follow the same pattern. Kasan relaxed his hold on Max as Aosh turned to walk away, and everything in Max calmed.
Crud. The ass-molesting jerk had been close enough he could have picked him up again! He shivered. Bad enough that the entire race towered over him, they had to have giant perverts, too. If he ever got back to earth, he was making them list that as one of the dangers of outer space exploration, dammit. Watch out for big damn space perverts, all you earth midgets.
That was still so frustrating. He wasn’t short, yet he felt like such a Lilliputian with all these cats around. Especially as everyone was even more humongous than Kasan. Bastards. Max glared at the back of Aosh’s head as Kasan sat back down at the table. About to join him, he saw Aosh turn back a moment. The big cat looked at Kasan, already distracted by Zonta, and smiled slowly before he blew Max a kiss. He laughed at Max’s gaping mouth before he turned away again.
That damn pervert! Thought he was hot shit, didn’t he? Thought he could do anything he wanted ‘cause the little human couldn’t do a damn thing about it, huh? Stupid jerk! Well, Max had just fucking had enough of that! Just…enough! With a frustrated growl, he ran the few steps separating them and kicked high and hard into stupid Aosh’s leg. It hit the cat in the back of the knee. Aosh grunted in surprise and stumbled forward, catching himself in a kneel.
“Take that, asshole! Thought I couldn’t do anything to you and now you’re on your knees, aren’t you?! So much for being a super barbarian; Max Renwood takes you down!” Max hooted and made obscene gestures as he danced from foot to foot, euphoria and adrenaline singing in his veins until Aosh shifted. The cat’s back rippled with muscle as it braced itself to push back to its feet, and he suddenly realized that he was looking at the back of Aosh’s head. The cat was still on his knees, and he was a little taller than Max.
And Max was standing on his feet.
He gulped and took a step back. What the fuck was wrong with him!? Aosh COULD darn well do whatever he wanted because he was A FREAKING GIANT! Crap, the cat would kill him! With more speed than he’d ever used in his life, Max sprinted back to Kasan and crouched down on the other side of him.
Kasan was big. Kasan had beat up this Aosh guy before. Please oh please let Kasan be willing to not give him away right now! Or better yet, let him beat up Aosh.
Oh God, Max was going to freaking die!
He peeked up and saw Kasan staring down at him. The cat looked confused and amused as Max shooed at him with his hands.
“Crap, don’t look or he’ll know where I am!” Max whispered frantically. Dammit, did Kasan WANT his consort to get killed?! Aosh muttered something that sounded nearer than it should be and Kasan turned away as Max made himself as small as possible. He stayed that way until Kasan looked at him again. The man’s eyes were round and he was smiling broadly. Maybe he didn’t mind that Aosh character getting a good kick in the knee? As long as he kept Aosh from doing the same thing to him…
“One little blown kiss, that’s all I did, Kasan.” Aosh chuckled and Kasan turned back to him again. Max hoped Aosh wasn’t about to do something to him. Kasan would stop him then, wouldn’t he? Maybe? “What a funny little brat. I guess if you come downstairs limping tomorrow we’ll all know what happened.”
“Very funny. You’re lucky that’s all it was or I’d be the one kicking your sorry ass.”
“Oh don’t worry. I’m well aware that he’s your consort now. I’d never touch the little thing.” There was a long silence, but Max didn’t hear anyone leave. Of course, he’d never heard Aosh walk up behind him in the first place. What if the cat was creeping up on him? Right now? Kasan would probably help him out, but could he really be sure of that? He might need to run again.
Max bit his lip. Putting his hands on Kasan’s side, he risked a look around the cat’s torso, peeking behind his back. He gulped as he stared into Aosh’s face just a few feet away. There was a snort, and then Aosh was shaking his head and laughing
“Damn but he is the funniest thing. Promise me you’ll find out where he came from? I think I might like one of my own. Those ears are beyond adorable…” Aosh laughed again and turned away.
Max took a deep breath and let it out slowly, yelping when Kasan turned, picked him up, and plunked him onto his lap.
“Hey! Cut it out! It’s – there’s people here!”
Kasan purred and chuckled into his hair. “I’m happy. Kasan happy. Max happy.”
“No I am not ‘happy!’ Let me down!”
“Kasan happy.” He picked up a soft neon pink fruit and handed it to him. “Food.”
“Yeah, I know it’s food, lecher cat,” Max muttered. But damn, he was still hungry. He took it out of Kasan’s hand and tried to ignore the fact that his tunic had shifted and his naked ass was resting on Kasan’s legs. But Aosh was gone. He let that sink in.
He’d kicked the jerk, and nothing had happened to him. Ha! Take that, stupid cat! You got taken down by a member of the kick-ass human race! Eat dirt! Grinning, he took a big bite of the fruit and lay the papers that were completely crumpled in his fist onto the table. He tried to focus on the language as he flattened them out. He hadn’t been hit, he had been fed, and he’d been given a way to begin talking to the cats.
And he’d kicked that big pervert and taken him down! Double ha!
It could be worse, right? A whole lot worse. If he could just figure out this new language and see if he could keep from getting screwed again… His face heated and he squirmed, feeling Kasan’s skin heating up his backside.
“Um, yeah. Language. Learn the language, and then…other stuff. Words, words, words. Just do the words right now.” There weren’t that many phrases; not much more than 100, and almost half of them were just different words for family members. With that many, family must be a really big deal in this culture. It made learning it all a heck of a lot easier, though; there’d probably be a lot of repetition in there. So he could do this. He’d had to learn more phrases than this in one of his cram sessions; this should be no sweat.
Especially not for someone who’d stood up to a giant cat pervert.
He grinned to himself. If that nice cat, Zonta, helped him a little, he could figure it out before they finished eating, maybe.
If Kasan and he didn’t leave again and get all sweaty together. His smile faded and he felt a little flushed at the reminder.
If he could get his penis to stop thinking about Kasan’s leg underneath his naked butt.
He took another bite of fruit a little desperately and turned to Zonta. Words, not legs. Words, not legs. He swallowed heavily as he felt Kasan’s muscles flex underneath him.
Kasan had really nice skin.
“Gaaah. Stop moving, Kasan! I’m trying to work here!” He looked up backwards at Kasan’s face and glared at the total lack of comprehension there. “Max NO happy!”
Kasan grinned. “Max isn’t happy,” he corrected, and kept grinning as Max nodded and repeated the phrase back to him. He couldn’t believe the little thing had kicked Aosh! Damn, he wished he could have seen more than the aftermath; he’d probably still be laughing. “My little warrior, huh?” He fuzzed Max’s hair fondly and Max jerked his head away with an annoyed humph. Max cast him one last glare and then looked over at Zonta, belligerently pointing to the paper and talking to his brother as though trying to prove Kasan didn’t exist. Kasan grinned again. Let the little scholars enjoy each other; he was going to enjoy Max’s pert little bottom against his thighs.
Damn, he could take him again already.
His brother Nolluz cleared his throat from across the way. “While that was undeniably entertaining, in a rather crude sort of way, there are things that you need to finish, Kasan. You haven’t introduced us yet.”
“You’ll have to wait. Max is busy.” Not that a little research would have stopped him with any other brother, even Aosh, but Nolluz was such an…
“That is insufficient reason to delay an introduction, Kasan. I shouldn’t even need to remind you of your duty. You are not some ignorant, pre-ripened child.”
…uptight, condescending prig.
“Reason enough for me.” Kasan smiled and crossed his arms. “By the way, I didn’t get to thank you for the dungeons yet.”
Nolluz’s ears were tense and down. “I don’t see what the dungeons have to do with this conversation, brother.”
“Nothing whatsoever. I’m just pissed about them.”
“You shouldn’t let your personal feelings interfere with – aaaaaaaah!” Nolluz’s voice rose an octave as he yelled.
Max pushed himself back into Kasan with a frightened squeak as Nolluz reared up to his knees, grabbing at his backside. With an outraged glare, Nolluz turned to his consort so quickly that his dark brown braid swung out and hit the table.
Neera smiled sweetly at him. “Don’t mind me. Go right ahead with what you were saying.”
“You- you-“ Nolluz seemed unable to finish his sentence and Kasan waited to find out what had just happened. It was bound to be good; there was a reason he really like Neera.
“I was just checking. Sorry to have interrupted. You can continue talking.”
“You were checking for what!!?”
“Oh, it seemed like that stick must have snuck back into your bottom. I was going to take it out for you.” Kasan laughed at Nolluz’s shocked look. When Neera merely raised an inquiring eyebrow at her mate, her honeyed ears innocently curious, Nolluz finally snorted once and sat back down. A reluctant smile twisted his lips for just a moment.
“Brat.” Nolluz’s voice was soft.
Neera smiled back and leaned against his shoulder. “You need a brat. Be happy you got one or you’d be so insufferable no one would have anything to do with you anymore.”
Kasan smiled. “Completely true. Neera, you have done a wonderful job keeping him from being the man he could have been today. My brothers and I are eternally thankful.” He looked down at Max, who was beginning to relax again now that no one was yelling. “And now that Max is no longer busy… Max, this is Neera and Nolluz. Neera, Nolluz, this is my consort, Max.”
Max was already bowing and repeating the phrases, still a little nervous until Kasan pointed to Nolluz. “Max? Nolluz is happy. Happy.”
Nolluz looked at him. “What in the world are you talking about? I’m not happy.”
Zonta spoke quietly and drew Max’s attention back to the papers while Kasan answered Nolluz. “You saw the archivists; they brought in a few pages of text that are helping us communicate. I don’t have a lot of choices in vocabulary.”
“And the best you could do was ‘I’m happy?’ Why would you…”
Neera poked Nolluz in the side. “Obviously, he doesn’t have the words yet to say ‘my brother here is having a small conniption and isn’t really about to leap over the table to try to eat you.’ Would that be about it, Kasan?”
“Pretty close.” He didn’t get a chance to say more before there was a high pitched crying from the corner of the room. Neera laughed lightly.
“That would be my signal to leave. We’d better go see to the little ones.”
“I was wondering about that. Why didn’t you simply bring them to the table?” It was a rare thing for parents to be away from their children at a gathering like this. He was actually surprised they’d managed to get this much time to themselves, now that he thought about it.
Neera looked at Max. “I didn’t want to do anything to upset your little one there. If he’s as fragile as he seems, we’ll need to have quite a bit of ‘being gentle’ practice before the children are going to be allowed near him.” She looked at Kasan seriously. “You may want to take that into consideration if anyone else comes by with their littles.”
He leaned over and touched her lips briefly. “Thank you. I’ll make sure to take care.”
She nodded, smiling, and she and Nolluz left with their hands entwined only to be mobbed by a small pile of children when they made it across the room.
Kasan took a deep breath and looked down at Max’s head. That was the last of his brothers. His father Kyoru would be coming over now. Not every family operated that way, but his father usually assumed that their new consorts might be a little nervous meeting the Lord King of the Hinta and he tried to let them enjoy the other siblings first before he showed. Kasan had to smile to himself; somehow, he didn’t think his father’s position would worry Max any more than every other person he’d met. One Kyashin probably looked just as intimidating as another to Max.
He hoped so, because his father was already on his way over. Kasan moved his tail forward and wrapped it around Max’s waist to keep the tip from twitching. Max squirmed and petted it absently as he continued to talk with Zonta and Kasan almost jumped. His cock hardened underneath Max and his belly clenched with shocked arousal. Max was touching his tail! Dear God above, he’d not even thought of it.
No one touched his tail. He might smack someone with it occasionally, but there had been too many pranks and yanks in his childhood for him to tolerate any other contact. He kicked anyone’s ass who touched his tail now, and they all knew it. Except for Max, and Kasan’s breath hitched as dexterous fingers ran through the short fur. Ohhhh that felt nice. A purr started low in his throat and his felt his body start to arch before he shivered and stopped himself. He didn’t have time to continue this. He was so very happy Max seemed comfortable with Kasan’s embrace, and…oooooh damn, they were going to have to do this again when they had privacy…but now wasn’t the time! He needed to be able to concentrate. With a rather jerky push, Kasan reached his arm forward and insinuated it between Max’s hands and his tail. Max continued talking and his hands quieted against Kasan’s skin. Good.
Kasan glanced at Zonta’s animated face as he spoke with Max and smiled, trying his best to control his arousal in the last moments he had before his father arrived. Max seemed very comfortable with his little brother. That should help if the Lord King made Max nervous. Kasan admitted that he was a bit uncertain about how this particular meeting was going to go himself. His father tended to be a bit unpredictable. It wasn’t helping his nerves that his body was still focusing on Max and his hands.
He shakily inclined his head as his father sat down across from him. After all the couples who’d been funneling through, his father’s solitude touched a small ache in Kasan’s chest that finally cleared the lust from his head. He hadn’t seen his father sit down with his consort since Kasan was a small child. Their mother had died of a fever soon after the birth of Aosh and Zonta, a few months after father’s heat had ended. Memories of her teasing his father into laughter always hit him the hardest at family gatherings like this.
“How is your consort adjusting?” his father asked softly. His deep brown eyes were watching Max curiously. Max was so engrossed in his conversation with Zonta he didn’t even notice the man’s presence.
“I think having a little of the language is helping him quite a bit.”
The Lord King nodded. “I am correct in thinking the little creature is male?” Kasan flushed and nodded. He wasn’t quite sure how to interpret his father’s expression until Kyoru spoke again. “And this isn’t a problem for you? The elders have been worried about the effects on both of you if you haven’t any desire for one another. We don’t need another tragedy like that in the family. So tell me the truth: do you need to wait until the heat hits before you can perform with your consort?”
Kasan chuckled. Maybe he shouldn’t have bothered to control himself. Then everyone would have known exactly how little they had to be concerned about. “Honestly? I think he’s the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. There is NO problem at all in that arena.”
His father smiled broadly. “I was hoping that was the case.”
Kasan’s hand rubbed over Max’s stomach and his consort’s body relaxed slightly. “My preferences seem to have aligned themselves nicely with Max’s looks, I’m happy to say. I’m more worried about wearing him out than anything else.” Kasan exchanged another smile with his father over Max’s head.
Kyoru quieted, watching Max attempting to copy Zonta’s pronunciation of ‘I’m thirsty.’ His ears twitched with interest.
“Jolan tells me he’s human.”
“I’m curious as to why I had to hear it from him rather than you.”
Kasan flinched. He should have known father would get right to the point. Kasan had already called himself five kinds of idiot for not letting everyone know that Max was human. He could have gotten him killed, and all because he wanted to come out ahead in he and his brothers’ constant games of one-upmanship. He knew he’d made a huge mistake.
Knowing he’d screwed up didn’t mean that he wasn’t going to pay dearly, but acknowledging it might mitigate his punishment slightly.
“My apologies, father. It was foolish of me and I’m well aware the results could have been fatal.” He shuddered as he imagined Max seriously injured. If something he’d done had caused Max to be hurt, he didn’t know what he would have done.
Kyoru’s voice was still soft when he spoke again. “I’m sure you are. You’re far from an idiot. And to tell you the truth, watching that little chase of yours around the Greeting room was quite entertaining.” He smiled briefly before looking serious again. “I’m sorry to say that the elders didn’t find the spectacle as enjoyable.”
Kasan winced. His father’s two aunts were the eldest in the family at the moment, and if his father was mentioning them, it could only mean they’d given him a message to relate. He glanced around, trying to get a feel for the mood of the room. Jolan was smirking. Tisu was positively gloating at him every time Roto wasn’t looking. Nolluz was busy pontificating to some young cousin and Aosh was off in a corner kissing the face off of a visiting dignitary that he must have smuggled into Firstmeal.
The smirking and gloating had him worried. What had the elders decided on?
“You withheld information from the family that we needed to know, Kasan. As a result, your consort was frightened half out of his mind and put into a situation where he could have been seriously injured.” His father stared at him and Kasan’s ears flattened. He swore he could hear Tisu enjoying this. “A Recompense has been decided on for your actions.”
Dammit. He really didn’t need this right now!
“What exactly is required of me?” It could be practically anything. The two women were nothing if not creative when it came to dealing with problems within the family. Sometimes he hated the old biddies almost as much as he loved them.
The Lord King smiled and held out a long, heavy red ribbon tied into a decorative loop at one end with a gold clasp. Kasan heard Jolan and Tisu make quiet, celebratory whoops and his tail tightened up on Max’s waist before he could stop himself. Max started petting his arm.
“Your little one is too small to treat endangering his health lightly. One top of that, it has some concrete significance so that it can be understood by your consort.” His father grinned at him with a little sympathy. “Be glad they were in a good mood and they want your consort to feel he has had justice more than they want you to learn a lesson.”
Kasan took a deep breath. He didn’t entirely agree, but he was a part of the family. Father was right. It could have been worse. “For how long?”
“I managed to talk them down to one day. You’ll need to introduce your consort to them at the end of your service.”
“I’m sure Jolan will love to hear it.” And he was sure the bastard and all his brothers would taunt him over it as well. All day long, as often as they could. Why did it have to be Service?! Damn.
The Lord King chuckled at the expression on his face. “You start tomorrow morning at Firstmeal. Since the little one may not understand what is involved, I’m trusting you with the collar. I’m sure you can find a way to explain to him what your duties will be.”
Kasan took the ribbon and placed it in front of him, trying not to look at it. He was going to get so much shit tomorrow! He couldn’t keep his ears off his skull right now if he tried. “Yes, father.”
Taking a deep breath, his father smiled broadly and turned his focus back to Max. “So, now that we’re done with that unpleasantness, tell me about your consort. Where does he come from?”
“I don’t know.” He wished he did.
Kyoru frowned. “Do you not know where his family is, then?”
“We don’t even know if he has a family at this point. I’m hoping I can talk to him about it later today if he’s learned enough Hinta.” He hated what he was going to have to say next. “He was drugged with Argenta when Shovak had him given to me.”
Kyoru was very still. Kasan could see the effort it was taking him not to react. His father knew the drug’s prevalence among slavers. The thought that his own brother had dealings with slavers, after all those bastards had done to the Kyashin before they’d been stopped, must be utterly devastating. Almost worse than the knowledge of how badly Shovak had betrayed the family was going to be. Kasan really wished he wasn’t the one who was going to have to tell his father all about this.
“Father?” He kept his voice soft. “The family needs to gather today. Leero has found some things that we shouldn’t wait much longer to discuss.”
Kyoru sighed deeply, his eyes losing some of their shine. “Involving Shovak, I assume?” Kasan nodded. He hated seeing the pained look on his father’s face. Kyoru didn’t deserve to have a brother like Shovak. No one did. If one of Kasan’s siblings had acted so dishonorably… It was impossible to even consider.
“Do you wish your consort to be included?” his father asked, looking at Max.
“I’d prefer he have some time to himself. I think he’s had enough for the day.”
“He may be excused then. We can use the Great Room after Firstmeal.” His father was silent, and they both watched Max and Zonta for a few more minutes. Kyoru cleared his throat. “So, are you going to introduce me to the little one?”
Kasan rubbed Max’s shoulders until his consort looked up at him and he pointed. “Max, this is my father, the Lord King of the Hinta. Father, this…is Max.”
His father smiled slowly and bowed with careful precision. “I’m very, very pleased to meet you, sweetheart. Welcome to the family.” Max looked at him seriously, his brow furrowed at the slight change in structure and he worried his lip before he spoke.
“Ah’m pleased to meet you, the-Lord-King-of-Heenta.” Even Zonta chuckled a little.
“You may call me father, if you wish, little one.” At Max’s blank look, Kasan’s father adapted and simply pointed to himself. “Father.”
“Father.” Max’s eyes brightened and he tilted his head to look back to Kasan. “Kasan father?”
“Yes, Kasan’s father.” Kyoru reached across the table and laid one large hand over Max’s. “No one should be without a family, little one. We may not be able to find yours right away, but until then, we will do all we can to make up for such a great loss.” He took Max’s hand and pulled it up until Max was reaching across the table, touching the Lord King’s chest. “Max’s father.”
Kasan took a deep breath, touched. His father had made the same offer to Roto, and the poor thing had been nearly incoherent with the honor. To be taken into another family was not something his father could simply offer. The elders must have discussed this along with his Service.
He wouldn’t forget their generosity.
Max’s body was tense on his lap, and his voice was a little confused when he answered. “M-Max’s father.”
Kasan took Max’s hand and pressed one finger against his father’s lips. “Thank you,” he prompted in Max’s ear.
“Thank you, Max’s Father.”
His father smiled and took a moment to give in to temptation and fuzz the earless top of Max’s head. Kasan laughed as Max pulled away. He could just imagine that familiar disgruntled look on Max’s face. Kyoru smiled at them both.
“Best wishes on your mating, Kasan. I’m happy it has worked so well for you. We’ll talk after the meal.”
Kasan bowed his head as his father stood. He’d barely raised it before more relatives were coming by. His eyes strayed to the red ribbon lying on the table. Everyone would know what was coming as soon as they set eyes on it. What a huge pain in the ass. Trying to smile and look threatening enough to keep anyone from making a snide comment, Kasan sat through the introduction of countless cousins and aunts and uncles. Everyone was making sure they dropped by so they could at least get a glimpse of Max. He took Neera’s advice and asked the few with children to keep them across the table from Max until they could be sure he’d be safe.
He’d thought the entire thing might be overwhelming for his consort, but the man hardly seemed to notice. Every spare moment he was questioning and repeating words and phrases with Zonta; he only paused to repeat an introduction before he’d be back to Zonta and the pages on the table. Kasan had to explain that the little one couldn’t speak Hinta, and was a male, and wasn’t Kyashin so many times he thought he should simply create a sign to set up at their table.
He kept them both there until almost no food was left on the tables and his relatives started withdrawing from the room. When Leero gestured at him with his head, he finally interrupted Zonta’s attempts at speaking human.
“I need to take Max back to our room now, Zo. The rest of us are gathering in the Great Room right after the meal. Do you think you might have time afterwards to help finish teaching Max the rest of these pages?” He’d really rather just cuddle and caress Max for the rest of the day, but the language would be more important to him.
“Pardon?” That couldn’t be right.
“He’s finished the pages. There’s one that doesn’t seem to be something he understands, but all the rest we’ve finished. He’s been teaching me his language for the past few minutes.”
“All of them?”
‘He’s very good with words. I’d be happy to keep working with him on the language, however. His is fascinating. I can hardly wait until I can -” Zonta began to mutter, thinking to himself, and Kasan shook his head, impressed.
“We’ll talk afterwards, then.” He nodded to Zonta’s head, snagged the ribbon in one hands, and scooped up Max as he stood. Heading for the door, cradling Max, he had to grin as his consort sputtered and gestured at him. Max quieted as they left the room. Crossing his arms over his chest, his face adorably flushed, he glared up at Kasan while they walked. Kasan felt his mood lift. Max was just too damn cute.
He was glad his rooms weren’t too far, though. It would give him a little time to get Max settled before he’d have to head back. As soon as he was inside his room and let Max down, however, the little one started gesturing wildly again and pointing at him.
“No! No, Kasan! Max, Kasan - no on top of bed! No THERE!” Kasan saw him pointing to the bed and shaking his head and he smiled. It was lovely to be able to hear Max trying to make himself clear. It also had some possibilities he hadn’t considered before.
“Ahhhhh, I see. No sex?” Kasan reached down before Max could move away and he pulled him close. “Are you sure, Gisho?”
“No sex! NO sex!” Kasan let him go and Max was halfway across the room before he finished speaking. He scowled as Kasan laughed a little.
He took one step towards him and Max backed away again. “Shhhh. It’s all right. No sex. We wouldn’t have time anyway, as much as I might like to. No sex right now.”
“No sex?” Max stopped retreating.
“None. No sex. You’re cute behind is quite safe at the moment.”
“Yes.” He needed to take a look at the Zonta’s papers and see just what words were there. He’d grab them on the way down. Right now… “Here, precious. I have something to show you.” He tossed the ribbon into a wall alcove and walked to the far wall. He gestured for Max to come over. Eyeing him suspiciously, Max sidled closer. Kasan had to wait until he was within reach before he could continue. Showing him the small green streak that designated the door, he pressed Max’s hand against the wall and purred reassuringly when Max jumped as the door opened. Max followed him out and his reaction to Kasan’s private garden was more than Kasan had hoped.
He was glad Max liked it. He didn’t have a lot of entertainment for someone Max’s size who couldn’t read, but at least Kasan could let him spend some time here while he was gone. It was well within the walls of the citadel, and with the privacy enclosure around it, this was as private and safe as Kasan could get for Max without locking him in their room.
“Max?” Max was staring up at the sky as though he’d never seen it before, and it startled Kasan to realize that it was an actual possibility. Had Max ever seen the Kyashin sky, or had he been too drugged when he’d arrived on the planet? Kasan personally loved the outdoors, being outside under the blue sky, or at night when either of the moons shown. Max looked fascinated, and he was so glad he’d shown him the gardens. He wished he’d thought to do it before.
“Max.” Max finally looked at him, swallowing. “Max, you need to stay here.”
“Max here. Kasan…go. Kasan there.” He pointed towards the door into the room and Max nodded carefully. “Max, you’re safe here.”
A smile finally. “Safe. Yes. Safe here.” Kasan sighed. Thank God, the little one learned quickly. It was such a relief not to see that frightened incomprehension on his face now. Crap….he needed to show him a few things.
“Max, in here.” He gestured inside and left the door opened as he pointed to the alcove. “There’s food and drink. Understand?” Max looked at the food and nodded slowly, gesturing to his mouth. Then he bit his lip, his feet shifting.
His voice was very soft when he spoke. “Kasan? Max…family?”
Kasan nodded slowly. “Yes, we’re family now.”
“No. No. Uh…” Max’s face screwed up as he obviously tried to think of the words he needed. “I need… my family. MAX family. Max family here?”
The other humans, Kasan thought. “I don’t know where they are, Gisho. I’m so sorry. No Max’s family here.” Seeing the small shoulders slump, he wished like hell he could have told him differently. “We’ll find them, Max.”
He stood awkwardly. He hated leaving Max unhappy like this, but there wasn’t anything he could think of that would compensate for what his consort was going through. It made his gut churn that he couldn’t make this better.
Max began to squirm and drew his attention. “Um. I…have to…urinate?” Kasan nodded and showed him the door on the opposite side of the room. A quick slide of Kasan’s hand against the wall taught Max where to put his hand in order to open it.
Before Max could disappear inside, he stopped him. “I’ll be back soon, Max. Kasan go now.” Max’s big eyes stared up at him and he groaned. That sweet face was so delectable. He leaned down and kissed him quickly, just because he couldn’t think of anything else he could give Max to express how he was feeling right then. That, and he wanted one last taste of Max’s lips before he had to leave for a few hours. He ran a hand over Max’s head as he pulled back. Max glared at him, panting slightly.
“No Sex,” he said, pointing at him. Kasan backed away with his hands up.
“Keeping me honest, hmmm? All right. No sex. You’re right. I need to get going.” He went to the door out and turned back as it opened.
“I’ll be back soon, Precious.”
Max shifted his feet a little and did an odd wave with his hand. “Ah’ll be back soon pre-shus.”
Kasan nodded, biting his tongue until the door closed behind him, and smacked Esgard as the man smiled.
“ Don’t say it.”
“I wasn’t going to speak.”
“Good.” Son of a bitch.
He wondered how many of his brother’s were going to be calling him Precious by this time tomorrow.
Max watched to make sure Kasan was actually gone before he used the facilities. Looking around the room as he came back in, he headed straight for the door to the outside. He needed something to cheer him up. He’d really been hoping Kasan and the others knew where the colony was, but it didn’t look like Kasan had a clue. Where the hell WAS everyone? How the hell had he gotten here when no one else had? It made no sense! He sighed, rubbed his hands over his face as he walked out the door, and groaned as his lips tingled.
Stupid cat, kissing him all the time. Was there ever going to be a time where Kasan wasn’t molesting him? Flushing, he glanced back inside at the bed and imagined what might be happening there when Kasan came back. Then he growled at his body’s response and leaned back to look at the sky. No more thinking of cats, or Kasan, or the colony, or anything other than the fact that he wasn’t stuck inside a building. He was actually outside. It felt like he’d been trapped inside forever. He hadn’t seen one single window since he’d first woken up with the cats. He should enjoy this while he could.
He blinked at the bright blue of the sky broken up with a few wispy white clouds. It was strange. Who knew how far it was from earth, but the sky was still blue. Just not quite the right blue. He kept blinking, trying to get the color to change to what he expected. The color was just so intense, like an azure sunset across the whole sky. Pretty, but disturbing. His gaze dropped and he looked at the plants instead. One brief glance and he was glaring at them nervously.
This was definitely Kasan’s garden; all the freaking plants were damn giants. It was like a wall of vivid green. Surrounding him were bushy ferns and thin reeds and tall, straight trees that looked a bit like pines, with small thin paths of pale rock winding their way into the jungle. He could hear running water somewhere nearby, but there were too many plants to see into the greenery any great distance. He’d have to push leaves aside just to walk down a path, the growth was so thick. At least he could see glimpses of a wall a ways back behind some of the taller trees. A garden jungle was a hell of a lot less frightening than the real thing.
It was supposed to be safe, he reminded himself. Kasan had said it was safe. He knew that word now. If this was safe, that meant there couldn’t be anything like man-eating pod plants or poisonous trees or blood sucking crickets. He knew there was something alive in the place; there were strange whistles and chirpings and rustles among the leaves. If it was safe, though, he could relax and just check it all out. He didn’t have to be afraid. He could just look around, without anyone watching him or screwing him against a damn wall. He could explore.
He took a few steps onto the right-hand path, wincing a little as the pebbles dug into his feet. There were round, but they still hurt a little. Had to toughen up his feet if he couldn’t get any shoes. With a deep breath, he pushed his way through a fern on the path and started walking. It was cooler in the shade of the trees, without the sun beating down on his legs and keeping them warm. The smells were rich and pungent, with an odd waft of fruity sweetness every once in a while whenever he passed small, broad-leafed shrubs with colorful flowers. He followed the path as it led deeper under the trees, and started to relax as he made his way through without encountering anything but plant life. Whatever was rustling nearby was staying away.
“This is actually really nice,” he murmured. He was congratulating himself when he pushed aside a broad leaf in front of his face and something pink caught his attention. Slime covered and bright, as large as a Galapagos tortoise, it sat on the path ahead of him and he wondered at first if it was some kind of mammoth fungus.
“You are one butt ugly piece of plant life.” A giant gelatinized lump of Pepto-Bismol was all that he could think of, and he felt himself gag at the thought. Blech. Kasan had some weird tastes in plants. Walking on the edge of the path, he was about to skirt around it when it trembled and moved.
He scooted back, eyes wide. Was this freaking thing some kind of animal, or had he just imagined it moving? A ripple ran across its surface and it slid along the trail a few inches in his direction. He started walking backwards. Safe garden or not, that was the creepiest, grossest thing he had ever seen in his life. He was damn well going inside! He glanced behind him to make sure he wasn’t about to hit a tree and then continued walking backwards while he watched the jello critter to make sure it stayed the hell away from him. He was almost out of sight of it when its surface shuddered and small spikes jutted out like a slimy hedgehog on steroids. He froze.
“Oh crap!” The thing started sliding at him soundlessly. Really damn fast! “OH CRAP!”
He backed up so quickly he went off the path and hit a tree. Ow! He spun around it with a jerk and ran. What the hell was it?! He could hear it crushing leaves and twigs behind him as he ran. Jumping over ferns and leaping to the side as he tried to dodge trees in his path, he ran until his legs were numb and the thing just wouldn’t stop! He had no idea where the hell the door was anymore; he just had to lose it! The slick rustling behind him seemed to get louder and he looked back in a panic. He grunted as he tripped over a fern. Rolling head over heels, he face planted into the dirt just in time to save himself from hitting the wall with his nose. Dirt in his eyes and mouth, he scrabbled desperately, trying to get to his feet as the thing closed on him. Panting with terror, he ended up splayed against the wall as the mound of spikes advanced.
Moments away from being impaled, brown fur jumped down from the nearest tree. It stood, growling, in between him and the giant pink loogey. He had a glimpse of sun glinting off needle sharp claws as a large paw slipped under the charging jello blob and flipped it up onto its back.
Gulps and gasps were all he could manage as he tried to get his shaking legs to bear his weight enough to run away from the new animal. The furry thing leapt onto a pink belly, plunging its head in with a snarl. Max couldn’t move as the slime covered head emerged from a gaping hole it had torn in the underside of the blob. It was chewing on something pale and slippery, and the pink stuff slowly started to deflate almost before the creature jumped off.
“Ewwwww!” The creature shook itself like a dog and slime flew into Max’s legs and face. “Gross!” When it finally stopped, Max watched it, readying himself to defend against whatever the hell this new thing was, and then he gaped stupidly.
He’d been saved from the gelatin blob by a puppy.
It wasn’t exactly, but… aside from the slime it was currently cleaning from its brindled fur, it looked like an adorable, fluffy little puppy with floppy ears. The size of a small terrier, it was cute as a button, and with a long tail that seemed more like a monkey’s. A wet black nose on a blunt snout and large, orange eyes looked at him once and then went back to cleaning, obviously unconcerned with his presence. Maybe this was why Kasan had said it was safe? He had a guard dog?
“Thank God! You are the best damn thing I’ve ever seen in my life!” The little thing stopped licking itself and stared at him, its tail swishing like a cat’s, and it bared its teeth just slightly.
‘I’m sorry, shhh. I didn’t mean to yell, little guy. Here, smell me. See, I’m okay.” He crouched down and held out his hand. The puppy crept forward and sniffed at him. “You are just gorgeous, aren’t you?” He really was a pretty thing. The slime was already licked almost completely clean, leaving behind thick and silky fur. Browns and creams blended together until it looked almost like it was made of velvet dirt. He stood very still as it rubbed it’s damp head against the palm of his hand.
“Do you like to be pet? Huh, boy?” He stroked carefully and smiled when it not only let him scratch it behind its ears, it began to rub over his arm and higher, it’s body undulating up to his own until the dog was squirming with small, odd little growls while Max petted its fur and fuzzed along its belly when it reared up to rub against his chest.
He tried to push it away as it began to lick his face clean of the small bits of slime still there. Soft orange eyes stared up at him and he grumbled. “Hell, puppy dog eyes really do work.” With a sigh, he let it continue cleaning him until it seemed happy.
The little thing had saved him, the least he could do was let it satisfy its urge to get the slime off. He smiled when it finally subsided and lay across his knees while he stroked it’s back.
“Well, you’re not a cat, but then again, I think I’ve had enough cats for a while.” The little beast let out an odd humphing sigh that felt like agreement and he laughed. “Right. Don’t worry, I won’t tell your buddies a cat owns you. Wouldn’t want you to be embarrassed or anything.”
He dug his fingers into the fur and scratched until the puppy started to whine. “Guess I get to name you until Kasan comes back and tells me what your name is, huh?” It should be something heroic. The little guy had saved him from spiky horror-show reject; he should have a name to reflect that. “How about Androcles? He saved the lion first instead of the lion saving him, but I can at least promise that I’ll help you out if I ever get the chance.”
Androcles looked up at him, stretched his forelegs out while extending his claws, and rubbed his head against Max’s belly with a soothing trill.
“Okay. Androcles then. I need to find one of the stupid paths. Don’t suppose you know where they are?” Androcles got off his knees and waited while he got up from his crouch before it walked away. He stared at him when the puppy stopped as they crossed one of the paths. “No way. You actually found one!” He followed Androcles along the path until he came out from under the cover of the plants and saw the door to Kasan’s bedroom.
“You are freaking Lassie! Awesome!” He felt safe until he wondered if any more pink things were around, and whether any of them had slipped inside when he was wandering the garden, running for his life.
When Androcles trotted into the room, the thing’s tail swishing happily behind it like a giant sideways pendulum, he was happy to follow. He stood at the entrance until he’d seen Androcles explore the entire room before it came over to rest its cool nose in Max’s palm. Androcles definitely deserved a hug, and he crouched down and gave it to him. “Thanks, boy. I’ll tell you, that pink thing was even scarier than the damn cats.”
Androcles bumped up against his arms and then wriggled free. With an odd grunting sort of bark, it trotted over to the log that went from the floor to the high hole in the wall. It sprouted claws like a cat and climbed until it had gone through the opening at the top. He looked up to see orange eyes peer down a moment as it barked once more before it disappeared.
So that’s what the damn thing was for. It was a tree climbing, alien dog run. Nice to know what that was now, anyway. He turned from it with a sigh, noticed the still open door, and went over to close it with a quick, nervous look outside. Relieved as he got it closed without anything coming in after him, he looked at the room around him. How long was he supposed to stay here? His stomach growled, reminding him of how little he’d actually eaten at the meal, and he went over to the shelf on the wall with food wrapped up on it. He could start with eating something and worry about what to do to pass the time later. Maybe he could try leaving the room when he was done.
With another sigh, he bit into a pastry that looked particularly tasty, and went over all the new words he’d been learning as he chewed. This looked like it was going to be a long, long day.
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