Makes Three

by Domashita Romero (地下ロメロ)
illustrated by serenity_winner

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/266136.html)

I heard from someone once it was good etiquette to have someone announce your presence before going in to meet with a lady, so that’s why I made sure to bounce one of Aveshi Karaen’s guards off her door real hard before going in to make introductions. Trevor wasn’t so much hung up on etiquette, though, so his guy just got a punch in the nose and went down in a big puddle of swishy purple fabric. Fuckin’ purple on these guys.

I picked up my guy again with one hand and gave him another good bowl right into Aveshi’s door. His helmet made a real nice ‘thok’ sound against it and he groaned. He’d be real purple himself tomorrow. So I was doing him a favor. Trevor got their dumb purple guns off them and I swiped the keycard I’d nabbed earlier through the lock. We were pretty well announced, I figured.

Aveshi was just sitting in her fluffy chair with her hands folded on her lap when we came in. She picked up a long thin pipe off the table next to her and brought it up to her mouth, resting the tip between the split in her lower lip as she took a draw. She leaned her head back and let the smoke curl out of her nostrils. She was supposed to be the real scandalous type with how she wore her veil to show her mouth and nose, but I wasn’t impressed. You see one salaari under their veils and you seen them all, and I’d seen more than one. I’d seen three.

“I realize I should have had a drink ready for you,” she said, and crossed and uncrossed her legs somewhere underneath all that fabric. “I knew eventually someone would send someone after me.” She pointed her pipe at Trevor. “You’re going to tell me you’re here to negotiate, you’re going to give me your employer’s offer, I’m going to say no.” She gestured to me, then, tracing up and down with the pipe. “And then your big baqq friend here is going to start smashing and crashing through things until I decide I’m ready to discuss terms of payment.”

“Not a bad plan,” I said, and I saw those saucy nostrils of hers flare when I spoke. Never got old. “But I’m the one here to talk negotiations. I’m the one that’s got the offer. He‘s the one you’re going to have to deal with if you feel like making this a fun day.”

She pursed her lips together and was probably glaring at Trevor through her veil. “Him? The scrawny little human?”

“Yeah,” I said, and smiled. I did it nice and slow and let her see all of my teeth. “He’s the muscle.” Trevor came up to the middle of my chest and weighed about as much as one of my more substantial shits. And I didn’t even need to look at him to know he was staring at Aveshi, right into her, and down under all those veils and robes it was making her squirm.

She just snorted, though, very ostentatious about all that nose business, and waved her pipe dismissively. “Well, that’s ridiculous,” she said. “And you’re ridiculous. I don’t want to hear your offer because I’m not paying you anything because I don’t believe comedians should be paid for their work. Goodbye, now.” She pressed a button on the console on the table beside her and panels in the wall behind her came open. Oh, more guards. In purple. Cute.

I shook my head. “You’re missing out,” I said, as Trevor pulled the little oblong object he had strapped to his thigh out of its holster. He put his fingers where it wanted his fingers to be and gave it a little shake with his wrist, and it unfolded. “I’m a real good negotiator.” I took a step back. Not for my safety. I just really liked watching him work.

Back in the ship, while I was transferring the sum that Aveshi had so generously eventually decided to give to us to our employer, Trevor kept himself occupied fiddling with her pipe, which she had generously not been paying attention when he took it off the floor where she dropped it. He was quiet and tucked up into his chair, knees practically bumping him in the face.

“What?” I said. “What’s eating you?” I hadn’t been paying the closest attention, but it didn’t seem like he’d gotten any lethal shots off with his boltbow. He never liked any unnecessary body count.

He looked up at me. He had his dumb scraggly hair hanging half in his face. “Am I really scrawny?” he said.

I laughed and reached over to him, working my hand under him to get all three of my fingers right on his bony little ass. “Of course you are,” I said. “It’s why I married you.” He frowned at me, pouting his tiny lower lip out. “Fine, fine, it’s one reason.” I hauled him over by his belt to get him in my lap. “Scrawny little psycho.”

He had his face up in my neck but I knew when he was smiling. “Big dumb dick,” he said.

I gave his whole ass a squeeze. “I’ll buy you a steak,” I said, and he leaned up to kiss the corner of my mouth. Nothing satisfying like a job well done.

I woke up to the sound of Trevor bumping and crashing around in the ship’s kitchen. For a guy who could get the drop on a damn malabran night messenger, he didn’t know how to keep it the fuck down when a guy was trying to sleep. But, hell, I was up anyway, so I went to see what he was knocking over.

“You making me breakfast?” I said. He had on just the shorts he slept in. Made it easy for me to put my arm around him and spread my hand out over that soft pink belly of his.

“No,” he said. “I’m making me breakfast.” He was unwrapping one of those packets of vacuum molded sausage things made out of who the fuck knows what. Engine intake filter dust and thunaean scale filings and dog dicks, probably. Absolutely delicious. “Maybe if you’re nice to me I’ll make you breakfast, too.”

I bent down a little to rest my face against the top of his head. His hair smelled weird, but all of him smelled weird. I was into it. “I was nice to you last night,” I said.

I could feel his stomach move when he laughed. “No, you were good to me last night,” he reached up to brush his hand along my neck, rubbing at the ridge just under my ear. “If you were nice to me you wouldn’t put the bottle of eggs up on that shelf I can’t reach.”

“Sorry,” I said into his hair. “I forget how little you are.” I could put his whole head in my mouth if I wanted to. He hated it when I did that.

“You’re a bullshit liar,” he said, and gave me a light swat on my neck. “Get me my eggs.” I let go of him to open the cabinet and get the eggs. It wasn’t too clear what kind of eggs they thought they were, but whatever. They cooked up decent and tasted good with hot sauce. I handed them to Trevor and went back to looming on him. “And I’m not little. You’re just a big freak.”

“Uh huh,” I said. “A nice one, too.”

Trevor reached back to try to pinch my flank, but he never could get a good grip on my skin with those soft fingers of his. “I’ll make you breakfast, you dick.” He was a real sweet talker. “Go find us some money.”

“Sure thing, boss,” I said, low and slow and dumb. I didn’t do the big dumb baqq stereotype much anymore. At least not professionally. Always made Trevor laugh, though. I left him to hit the info console and find a fresh job.

I flipped through the offers with the back of my knuckle. Lots of junk stuff, scams, jobs I knew by now wouldn’t pan out to anything. Couple of requests for hits, which we tried to avoid if at possible. Well, I avoided them entirely. I’d completely botched my last hit job, after all.

Couple of shakedown jobs like our last one. Decent prices, those could be a maybe. A few good straight-up bounties. One was a guy who’d run out deadbeat on his kids and stolen his wife’s shit, so I put that in the maybe. Trevor always had a good time with those.

Courier job. Shit, those went really hot and cold. Either nothing happened and you were bored as stale piss, or you had assholes on your tail the whole way. This one, though, it had one hell of a nice price tag on it. A hell of a nice price tag. Kind of thing you might be able to get some property with, the kind that was attached to some ground that orbited around something.

The recycled ship air was starting to smell good. I transferred the job info from the console to handheld and went back to the kitchen. He was stirring at something in the pan. Made his ass jiggle a little. I liked that. I put my arm around him again, hand back on his stomach, and put the handheld where he could see it. “How about this?”

Trevor narrowed his eyes a little and leaned his head back. He had shit vision close up but wouldn’t admit it. Didn’t matter. He was a long-range man. “Courier?”

“Don’t say it like that,” I said. “Look at the pay.”

Trevor sucked in a little breath. I felt his stomach go in. “Shit,” he said, and then shook his head. “Shit, that’s something else. Must be something good.”

I laughed a little and reached over him to get some of that sausage crap out of the pan and into my mouth. “Must be. Bet we’ll never know.”

Trevor smacked my hand when I went for another bite, so I grabbed his ass. “I can live with that.”

“Yeah, I hope so,” I said. “How about on the other side?” I went for a pinch of the other cheek.

“Ah, shut up,” he said, but he wiggled right back in to me. Made me almost want to skip breakfast. “I can live without knowing the cargo. Take the job.”

I rested the handheld on the top of his head and tapped on the screen. “We’re employed,” I said. “Feed me.”

“You ask politely and I will,” he said, and looked up at me over his shoulder. He had his eyes all squinted and flinty, like he would do on the job, but his lips were all curled up like he had to sneeze. Not intimidating. “Who taught you manners, anyway?”

“I think it was one of my broodmates,” I said, and grinned wide. “Before I ate him.”

Trevor shook his head and was laughing, but also putting food on to a plate. “Bullshit liar,” he said, and turned around to offer me breakfast. “No one ever taught you manners.” I reached for the plate, and he tugged it right out of reach. “Say please.”

Married life, huh? Got you into real routines, games you played every day. “Please give me food so I don’t eat your leg off,” I said, and Trevor nodded and handed over the plate.

“You’re welcome,” he said, and dished up the rest for himself. He put the bottle of hot sauce next to me and sat down at the little kitchen counter. “Mama was crazier than a bird flying through fireworks, but she always made sure that if someone was gonna feed us, we’d better be polite about it.” Trevor laughed a little and ate a big sloppy mouthful of eggs. “‘Cause if we didn’t she’d whoop us until all we could say was ‘thank you.'”

I hadn’t met the in-laws yet. “You think your mother could whoop me?”

Trevor leaned back a little to give me a head to toe, acting like he hadn’t seen every damn part of me before. “Well, all I’ll say is,” he said, his little mouth all crooked and crinkled, “she’s the one who raised me into being me.”

I leaned my head back to laugh. “Well, fuck,” I said, and tossed the last of breakfast down my gullet. “Thank you, Mrs. Mingus.”

I let Trevor handle the pickup, since the agent turned out to be a naharian, and they tended to get all their weird tentacle arms in a knot the minute a baqq showed up on the scene. You get into one interplanetary war a dozen generations back and everyone’s all jumpy forever. The payout on this was too good for me to risk screwing it up. Even if I really did like seeing those wiggly little fuckers get antsy.

Trevor brought the shipment in on a grav cart, right in to the main deck. He saw me scowling and shrugged. “Part of the contract,” he said. “They don’t want it in cargo. Real specific that we keep it where we can keep an eye on it.”

He had the cart hovering at about hip height. It had a box on it in dark blue, wider and longer than it was tall, shiny as all hell, and with no obvious latch or seam to open it. “I think we can handle that.”

He gave it a good look. “Seems like it’d be a good place to set a drink up in the cockpit.”

I leaned my head back and laughed and took hold of the cart with one hooked finger. “Just use a fucking coaster.”

“Yes, Mama,” he said, snickering.

“‘Mama,'” I said as I got into the cockpit, settling into my seat. I snorted and shook my head. “I always knew you had issues, but if you’re calling me ‘Mama’….”

Trevor got tucked up into his seat and started transferring coordinates from our employers into the navigation system. Wasn’t going to be too long of a haul, it looked like, and they hadn’t requested any sneaky routes. “I got all kinds of issues,” he said, and looked over at me. “You’re a lot prettier than my mama.”

Trevor’d once described me as a seven-foot tall turtle that someone had dropped in a boat engine. In our vows. I reached over and gave his hair a tug. “Fuckin’ weirdo.”

He kicked the ship into gear and put his feet up on the dashboard. “That’s me,” he said. He closed his eyes and leaned his head against my hand. Well, guess I was keeping that there for a while.

Neither of us were the type of guy who needed to fill up a long silence. And if you weren’t one of those types of guys, being with someone who was on long-haul space flight could make you want to go outside for a breath of fresh vacuum. Or if you were me, send them out for a little walk without a coat on. But Trevor, he could just sit there and not say a damn thing for hours. Days. A week once, and by then I got bored and started poking him. It was good enough to just to be breathing the same stale air together.

But even he got chatty from time to time. “Hey,” he said, somewhere in some long boring hour of the extremely uneventful trip. “Rarks.”

“Yeah?” I said.

“What do you think’s in there?” he said.

“Uh-uh,” I said. “Not a good game to play.”

“Man, you know I don’t really care,” Trevor said. “You know I ain’t gonna open it.”

“Just bored, huh?” I said.

“Just bored,” he said.

“Shit, if you’re bored,” I said, and reached over to brush the back of my finger down the side of his neck. He closed his eyes and shivered, a little smile tugging at his lips.

“That would make me less bored, yeah,” he said. “But job order said we’ve got to keep an eye on this thing at all times, and the last time we got up to anything up here you broke the gravity controls.”

“Heh, yeah,” I said. “I did. That was fun.” That made Trevor laugh. I gave him another little pet and took my hand back. “But fine, yeah. That paycheck’s gonna be a lot more fun.”

“A lot,” Trevor said. “So, what do you think is in there?”

“Eggs?” I said. “Shit like this, it always ends up being some big stash of eggs of some rare endangered thing.”

“Okay, I could see eggs,” Trevor said. “You think for eating or hatching?”

“Eating,” I said, and Trevor laughed.

“That’s always your answer,” he said.

“You asked,” I said. “What do you think is in it?”

“It’s a real fancy box,” he said. “Probably some kind of gift for some important asshole.”

“Full of dildos, then,” I said, and Trevor let out a loud, sharp laugh. “You said asshole…”

“Pervert,” he said. He tapped the info screen at his seat with the bottom of his shoe. “The recipient is someone named ‘Coco Roos.'” He let his head flop sideways on his headrest to look over at me. “That name sound like anything familiar?”

I snorted. “Yeah. Half of the rocliar I ever met or heard of are named Roos.”

“Huh,” Trevor said, and squinted at the job order. “Delivery’s not going anywhere in their space.”

“Who knows about them,” I said. “Half of them are churched up ridiculous and the other half of them got kicked out of the church and are even more ridiculous.”

Trevor got a dumb grin on his face. “Maybe it’s some kinda holy thing. Sacred piece of junk.” He snapped his fingers. “Artifact!”

Blessed dildos,” I said, and that got Trevor laughing good. When he’d got his giggles out he looked at the box for a while, and reached out to put his hand on it.

“It’s humming,” he said. “Feel it.”

“Probably just the cart,” I said, but touched it anyway. “Huh, yeah. Humming.”

“Warm, too,” he said. I’d trust him on that. He was thin skinned and too damn sensitive to temperatures. Felt just like anything else to me. Trevor looked up at me with a kind of wicked smile. “Hey, you remember that rocliar bounty we brought in last year?”

“Shit, how could I forget?” The guy was bigger than me and all Trevor had to do was just point the boltbow at him and he was on his big fat knees shaking and praying for mercy.

“Always heard those guys got weird, all berserk and shit. I was ready for a real time.” He put his hand on the center of the box and raised his eyebrows. “You remember that shit he kept saying? Those fuckers church up weird.”

I put my hand on top of Trevor’s. The humming felt stronger there, even through his hand. “KTISTA, LEAPING FROM ETERNITY INTO TIME,” I said, in a pretty offensive rocliar impression, but one that got Trevor giggling, “IN THE WOMB OF EERI, HAVE MERCY ON US.”

The humming underneath our hands suddenly went from hum to buzz and I yanked Trevor’s hand off of the box before the damn thing blew up. A seam formed just beneath the top of the box and a hiss of steam and a yellow light came out before the vibration got bad enough to make the grav cart rattle against our seats. And then the lid blew off.

“Son of a bitch,” Trevor said, and he had his face right over the thing before the steam even cleared. “That is a baby.

A lot of yelling after that. A lot of “don’t touch it” and “fuck” and “what the fuck” and “what the fuck?” and “fuck you.” That last one from Trevor, more than once, after I told him to not touch the thing in the box. He said it was a baby. Looked like a little pink mole to me.

“That is a baby,” he said, pointing at the box. “That is a human goddamn baby, in a box.” He put his hands into his hair and tugged at it a little. “Shit, is it even alive? Why would someone send a dead baby box?” He looked up at me. “Why would someone send an alive baby box?”

I shrugged. “Fucked if I know,” I said. I just wanted to get the lid back on and finish the job so I could get paid and buy Trevor a damn house. “Something for their weird church, probably.”

Trevor started shaking his head. “Oh no, oh hell no,” he said. “We are not taking a baby to get done up in some weird church thing.” He reached his hands towards the box and I just shook my head. I wasn’t winning this one. He picked up the baby under its weird fat little arms and held it up. It wiggled.

“Guess it’s not dead, then.” I said, and Trevor glared at me.

He shifted the baby so he was cradling it in his arms. I’d only ever seen him do that with high explosives before. “Not dead,” he said. The baby’s eyes were closed but all ten of its gross stumpy little worm fingers were wiggling, right up to try to grab on to Trevor. He seemed hypnotized for a bit, and then gave me another dirty look. “And not an it, either.”

I snorted. “Sorry,” I said. “He’s not dead? She?”

Trevor’s mouth hung open for a moment. “You know I’d figured you might know what a boy human looks like!” He tilted the baby towards me a little. “He! A boy! With a pecker!”

I covered my face with my hand before gesturing to the wiggling thing in his arms. “It all looks the same to me when it’s that small!” Trevor rolled his eyes at me and got back into his seat, still clutching the baby to his chest.

“I do not give a shit about the money,” he said, and he was tapping things on the console. “I am not letting weird shit aliens do anything to a baby.”

I sighed. I sat down. “You don’t know they were gonna do something bad,” I said. “That’s just racist.”

He gave me a look. “Baby,” he said. Now that he had an actual baby in his arms, I realized how weird it was he called me that. “Can you think of a good thing that would be a reason to put a baby in some crazy box and pay two people like us to take it across the galaxy?”

“No,” I said. “But it’s so weird I can’t think of what bad thing you’d do either!”

Trevor thumped his thumb on the console, and that was it. Coordinates changed. We’d gone fucking rogue on this job. Goodbye, house. It was going to be on a lake, damn it. “Well, I don’t care. I’m not letting it happen.”

I watched him for a while. He had the baby curled up on his chest and it’d grabbed on to a bit of his shirt with its freaky little fingers. It made a little sound, like a sigh or a sneeze or something, and that had Trevor brushing his fingers of its bald pink head and going ‘shhh.’ It stopped making the noise, and Trevor smiled.

“We can’t keep it, you know,” I said.

He looked up at me quick, but long enough that I knew I was right. He’d been thinking it. “No,” he said. “I know.” He brushed his hand over the baby’s head again and it just snuggled right up in to him. Trevor nodded to the console. “I know a guy. Takes in kids in bad situations. That’s where we’re going.”

This was going to be a huge fucking mess. “If you say so.” I watched him for a while, watching the baby. Never seen anything like it. Fucking weird. “Can I hold it?” Trevor looked up at me with sharp eyes. “Uh. Him?”

It took him a while to answer. Tallying up all the times I’d managed delicate work, many of which had literally saved his stupid ass, probably. “Okay,” he said. “Be careful.”

“Yeah,” I said, and he handed the baby over to me. He was weird and warm and I could hold him almost just with one hand. How the hell did any humans ever live to adulthood if they started out so soft and helpless like this? I glanced sidelong at Trevor. “I could probably fit this whole thing in my mouth.”

“You dumb shit, you give me that back right this instant,” he said, and I did. He looked mad, sure, but I also saw him laugh.

The only thing in the box other than the baby was a little book, and that just had a couple of drawings of a baby and a shitload of words I couldn’t read. None of the drawings were of the baby on a plate. That was a good sign, at least.

The baby didn’t cry. That was good, too, in my opinion. He made soft sounds and sighed and hiccuped while Trevor held him, but never started in on wailing. “When do your babies open their eyes?”

“Hm?” Trevor said. He was fucking fixated on that thing. Hadn’t put it down once, even when he went to piss. “Oh, ours our open when we’re born. Dunno why this little guy hasn’t taken a look around yet. Being in some church box might’ve made him a little weird, though.”

“Weirder than he already is.” Trevor rolled his eyes. “Listen. When I was born I had a full mouth of teeth and my skin was an inch thicker than it is now. This kid will die if you put him down and he crapped in one of your shirts.”

“He won’t die if I put him down,” Trevor said. “He’ll die if I drop him.”

“Whatever,” I said. “I just don’t get it.”

“Yeah, I know. It doesn’t make sense,” Trevor said. The baby was sucking reconstituted fruit paste off of the end of Trevor’s finger. We didn’t have much in the way of milk or whatever it was that babies ate, and Trevor’d been pretty pissed when I asked if he lactated. You ask me, it was a lot of attitude for someone with apparently vestigial nipples to take. “We’re born really, really helpless. And we stay that way a long time. That’s why we need each other.” He gave the baby more fruit goop. Seemed to like it, at least. “Like, the only reason we have a society is basically so you can get someone else to hold the baby for a while.”

“You know, if baby me had met baby you?” I said, and Trevor raised his eyebrows at me. “I’d’ve eaten you. Whole.”

He grinned, laughing silently. “Yeah, I know,” he said. “You’re sweet like that.”

I’d barely gotten half a laugh out when I felt the ship jostle. Our ship was small and pretty shitty, but the inertial dampeners had just been replaced a while back. Fuck, someone was on us. I hit my seat in the cockpit right as the comm system started screeching.

YOU ARE IN POSSESSION OF ROOS FAMILY PROPERTY,” came the syrupy rocliar voice over our comm lines. “YOU ARE IN VIOLATION OF YOUR CONTRACT. PREPARE THE PROPERTY FOR TRANSFER. YOU WILL BE BOARDED.

Trevor tucked the baby up in one arm and had his boltbow already out. “Oh, I just dare you, fuckers,” he said, shouting even though the comm wasn’t transferring two-way. “Let ’em on, Rarks, I’m ready for it.”

“Sure, fine, like I’ve got a fucking choice,” I said. They’d docked with us, big fat ugly rocliar ship clamping right on to our airlock. The damn box had to have some tracking device on it. The baby hadn’t cried when we took it out, but the box had to have been transmitting some kind of signal. Courier jobs always went one of two ways.

We were likely fucked. Their ship was big and probably well-staffed. Me and Trevor were good, but there was only so long we could hold out when penned in in tight quarters. If they just took the baby by force and didn’t kill us, our professional reputations were going to be garbage. If we gave it over now, make it look like we were just incompetent, well, that might be something. I put my hand on Trevor’s shoulder and started to lean down to tell him what we should do.

He looked at me. He just fucking looked at me. Damn it. I straightened back up and bellowed at the opening airlock, “Come in and get it, assholes!”

“Him,” Trevor said.

“Come in and get him!” I said.

The thing about rocliar is that they’re big. Like mountains with big thick knees and fat fists. And unless you’re coming up against one in the wrong kind of gravity, they’re slow. So the one coming through our door was big enough to get stuck in it for a while. Trevor was ready to pepper him with bolts, but I put my hand back on his shoulder to steady him. The rocliar had his hands up.

“He’s unarmed,” I said.

“I kinda don’t give a shit, baby,” Trevor said, but he didn’t fire.

“I WILL NOT HARM YOU,” the rocliar said. “IN EERI’S NAME I COME BEARING NO WEAPONS AND ASKING ONLY FOR PEACEFUL TALK.”

Trevor looked up at me, and back to the rocliar. He kept his weapon trained. “Okay,” he said. “So talk.”

“I AM VANI ROOS, A MEMBER OF THE ROOS FAMILY,” he said. “WE WERE ALERTED TO DISRUPTION OF THE TRANSFER OF OUR PROPERTY. WE ONLY WISH TO ASSURE THAT OUR PROPERTY MAKES IT TO ITS FINAL DESTINATION.”

“Property?” Trevor said. “You keep saying ‘property,’ but this is a fucking baby. A human baby and I am not letting you do any weird shit to it in anyone’s name.”

Vani Roos looked slowly from Trevor to the baby tucked up in his armpit. “YOU WERE NOT SUPPOSED TO OPEN THE BOX,” he said. “OPENING THE BOX HAS VIOLATED YOUR CONTRACT.”

“Fuck my contract,” Trevor said. “And fuck you for putting a baby in a box!”

“THAT IS NOT A BABY,” Vani Roos said.

Trevor was gripping his weapon so hard his hand was shaking a little. Fuck, I never saw him like this. “Yeah, I guess it’s not to you!” he said. “I guess it’s dinner or a sacrifice or some sick shit.”

Vani Roos was quiet for a long time, staring at Trevor. He shifted his big, milky green eye towards the baby and said, “RESET CODE 93-289, AUTHORIZATION VANI ROOS. RESTORE TO DEFAULT SETTINGS.”

The baby started making a noise. And it wasn’t any of the regular baby noises it’d been making. The baby was whirring. Then it opened its eyes. I didn’t know a lot about baby humans but I was pretty fucking sure their eyes weren’t supposed to look like that.

And it looked like Trevor agreed with me. He dropped his weapon. I had never seen him drop his weapon. He held the baby out at arm’s length with both hands as it looked at him with its glowing metallic eyes. It opened its mouth and a deep, cheerful human male voice came out of it.

Unit KTST is restored to factory settings!” the baby… said. “Please insert transfer cable into rear port to begin calibration!

Trevor stared at the baby in pure horror, and then looked to Vani Roos. “What… the… FUCK?”

“MY MOTHER COCO ROOS IS DEVOUT. SHE HAS SPENT HER LIFE IN SERVICE. SHE HAS LONG BEEN AN ACOLYTE OF THE HOLY CHILD KTISTA.” Trevor just kept staring at him, mouth hanging open. “THIS ROBOTIC SIMULACRA WAS TO BE A GIFT ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF HER BIRTH.”

The baby’s eyes were still glowing. I hadn’t thought it could look weirder, but I guess that was dumb. “You got your mama a little robot baby Jesus for her birthday?”

Vani Roos was silent for a long while, his eye drifting from Trevor, to the baby, to me. “…YES,” he said. “I WOULD LIKE IT BACK NOW. I MUST RECALIBRATE IT AND FIND ANOTHER COURIER. IT IS TO BE A SURPRISE GIFT.”

Trevor stared at the baby. It wasn’t cooing or wiggling now. Just glowing. He looked back to Vani Roos. “You need the box, too?”

“YES,” Vani Roos said. “THANK YOU.”

“I liked that shirt, too,” Trevor said into my shoulder, for about the fifth time.

“I’ll get you a better shirt,” I said. The whole mess had ended cleaner than I’d thought. I’d have to reconsider what I thought of rocliar. Vani Roos had somehow ended up apologizing for the misunderstanding and giving us one-eighth pay. Probably because Trevor had looked so damn heartbroken. I’d gotten him in bed with me to sulk it out.

“I mean, that looked like real baby shit, too,” he said. “Smelled like real baby shit. I have been around babies, I know this.” He lifted his head to look at me. “You don’t think I’m stupid now, do you?”

I shook my head. “Nah, I don’t,” I said, and I wouldn’t lie about that. “I mean, they make those robots pretty fucking well these days. And…” I rubbed my hand down his back. “Shit, like you said. You got it in your damn genetics. Human nature.”

Trevor sighed and put his face back in my neck, wriggling up to be a little more on top of me. “Yeah, I guess so,” he said, and laughed. “Bet you didn’t know I could be such a mama bear.”

“I don’t even know what a bear is,” I said, and I knew he was smiling. I hugged him around the waist. “But you’re full of surprises. Figure it’s not gonna be the last time, either.” I nudged him to look up at me. “It’s what I signed up for.”

He gave me a grin, all crooked and dumb while his hair fell in his face. “When you took the hit job on me?” he asked. “Or when you married me?”

I shrugged. “Whatever. Same thing.” He smiled and scooted up to kiss the corner of my mouth. We’d found a lot of ways for our anatomies to be compatible, but kissing wasn’t one of them. What we’d worked out, though, was pretty damn nice. I stroked my fingers down his back, over scars I couldn’t even feel. “We’re gonna take some good jobs,” I said. “And we’re gonna make a lot of money. And then we’re gonna settle down somewhere.” He was smiling, and I grinned at him with all my teeth. “And if you want to be a mama whatever then, you can be.”

He kissed along my chin and jaw for a while, and when he looked at me again he didn’t look near as sad. “You just gotta promise not to eat the baby,” he said.

I snorted. “What, we gotta have one of your little pink worm babies?”

He tried to pinch my side again, to no avail, as usual. “You spent all day telling me how baqq babies don’t need any parenting.”

“Don’t need it,” I said, and got both hands on him, easily spanning his whole back. “Probably couldn’t hurt, though.”

Trevor grinned and resettled himself astride my waist. “We’ll figure it out later,” he said. He brushed those little hands over my chest. He knew right where all my soft spots were. And I liked it. “We gotta make the money first.”

“First the money, then the settling down” I said, and slipped one of my thumbs underneath his shorts. I watched his chest rise and fall as I brushed my nail over his hip. “I mean, unless one of us gets knocked up accidentally.”

Trevor leaned his head back and laughed. I took the opportunity to spread my hand out on his chest, stretching from vestigial nipple to vestigial nipple. He sighed and squirmed a little when I did. Not so useless after all. “Wait,” he said, and his brows were furrowed even though he was still smiling. “That’s not, like… actually possible, is it?”

“Fucked if I know,” I said. “I still don’t know what half the shit on your weird body is even for.”

“My body’s not weird,” Trevor said, and he was wiggling out of his shorts now. “My body’s awesome.”

“Sure,” I said. “But still weird.” I looped my finger around his cock and gave it a tug. “I mean, come on, this thing? You got it dangling out just all the time. Anyone could grab on to it.” My dick only came out when I needed it.

“Oh, yeah, sure, they could,” he said. He sounded damn happy now. “They could grab it. And I’d say, sorry, ma’am. Or sir. I’m taken.”

I laughed and gave him a swat on the ass. “Damn right you are. Roll over.” He grinned at me, gave me a kiss on the center of my chest, and rolled right the hell over.

We’d found ways to make it work. And more than that, we’d found ways to make it work good. Trevor stretched out on his back on top of my chest. His head fit right under my chin. And his thighs, his soft, warm, fuzzy thighs, could close right around my cock. Made me a huge pervert, but I didn’t want it any other way anymore.

I stretched my hand across Trevor’s hips. When I settled my palm right on his dick he made that sound I liked, happy and low. He just fucked right in to it while I touched him everywhere I could reach with my other hand. I knew just what a lot of his weird body was for, and it was for touching until he started yowling.

illustrated by serenity_winner

Trevor tightened his thighs around me and started to really squirm. “Hey,” I said, mouth right against his hair. It smelled good. “Who said you had to do all the work?”

He laughed and leaned his head way back to actually kiss me on the lips. “You think this is work?” I laughed. He grabbed onto my hip, I kept hold of his, and we worked. The head of my cock popped out from between his thighs with each roll of hips we did together. Just soft and warm and tight going to the shock of nothing, right until his hand was there waiting for it. He had such good little hands. He could make me yowl, too.

He pressed his other hand down on top of mine and I knew. He was all sweat on top of me and his cock had made my palm slick. I just pressed it down tighter, pinning him to me at the hips. He rutted into my hand hard and stupid until he came, splattering a mess on his soft belly.

When he was done he reached his arms up behind him, wrapping them around my neck. There was a little spot back there, a little sensitive spot just underneath a ridge of bone and scale. No one else had ever found it, even me. But he had. He brushed my gentle spot with his gentle fingers and hung the hell on while I fucked his thighs until I came growling. Nothing got me off so hard or so good. And lucky me, I got to do it for the rest of my life.

After a good long while, Trevor rolled over on top of me again. It was his nice way of making sure he wasn’t the only one covered in spunk. Fair was fair. He folded his arms on my chest and rested his chin on top of them. “I figured it out,” he said. “We’ll get two. A you kid and a me kid.”

I let my arms settle around his waist. “And you’re gonna keep the me kid from eating the you kid?”

He put one finger up to my mouth, over my lips. “We are,” he said. “It’s called parenting, you big dumb dick.”

“Whatever,” I said, and closed my eyes, but I was smiling. With a good partner, the stupidest shit could sound like a fun job.

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