Long Distance

written and illustrated by Iron Eater

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/313002.html)

Not twenty-four hours after Azi had agreed to date a human, it felt like the entire office knew. Lue was easily the most obnoxious about it—being between projects always meant she had huge swathes of free time to roam into other people’s workstations—and her being one of Azi’s oldest friends didn’t help the matter any.

“So you’ve got to tell me details,” she said as she draped herself across the back of Azi’s chair.

Azi rolled her lateral eyes and tried to focus on her proofreading. “Me, a human, Tuesday, coffee. There’s not much to detail.”

Lue grinned. “Sure there is. For one, you know what your cute new paramour looks like and I don’t. That could be plenty of words right there.”

That was a problem in and of itself. The Worlds Together app allowed for people to share scans of themselves if they paid for premium access, but Azi was still paying off her most recent habitat upgrade; the debt was just heavy enough to mean she’d had to eat out less and settle for merely two-dimensional images of extradimensional dates. The lack of depth alone made it so much harder to really understand what you were looking at.

At least Azi’s xenobiology background was useful for something outside an academic environment. “Oh, you know. Two arms, two legs, one head, skeleton on the inside, squishy and soft on the outside, still startlingly unkillable despite everything.” She wiggled her claws over her trackball and hotkeyed through her tabs to further the illusion of being so very, very busy, so busy there just wasn’t time for small talk, what a shame. “We share compatible gas exchanges and pressure tolerance zones, and I liked our conversations through WT even though the latency gets gnarly on the freebie version, so: coffee.”

“So what flavor of human is your date?”

“I, um,” said Azi, trying and failing to look interested in the data sheet she’d evaluated that morning. “I didn’t ask? It’s rude to ask if all you want is coffee. If you’re wanting to know what words to use, though, they’re ‘vu’ and ‘vus’ and ‘vum.'”

Lue clicked her tongue. “That’s easy to remember,” she said. “If it goes well, you’ll share pictures, right?”


“And not just of whatever someone doodled in your drink foam, right?”

“I promise, Lue.” A large error message popped up on Azi’s screen; as soon as she caught sight of which code it displayed she flicked her barbels in frustration. She’d never really broken herself of her childhood habit of fanning her whiskers like a…what was the word Quinn used once? Like a catfish. “Look, I’d love to talk, but I really have to focus on whatever’s causing this,” she said, silently thankful for a legitimate escape from the conversation.

Lue crooned in mock annoyance but left Azi to her work. Azi, for her part, ended up so focused on the task at hand—which ended up being four interconnected problems, all of which needed fixing by the end of the day—that she didn’t even notice the new WTmail notification until her shift was nearly up. Actually working up the courage to swipe it open had to wait until she’d gotten home and had a stiff drink. She cursed her building’s slow connection and the Worlds Together servers and anything else she could think of as she watched the loading icon slowly twirl in place.

It was, of course, from Quinn, her potential date; Azi couldn’t have mistaken vus cheery avatar for anyone else’s, but she had still halfway hoped it was just a false-positive match and not someone she risked worrying with her silence. Usually she answered within minutes, at least as far as her sludge-slow latency allowed, and given how long even the promptest replies took to churn their way through the app she fretted over whether Tuesday would come and go before anything she wrote would find its way to Quinn’s inbox. What if vu needed to reschedule? What if vu didn’t even want to date something from her plane of existence anymore? What if vu had been crushed by a runaway garbage barge and was now in the hospital and could only receive treatment if vu promised to never speak to her again? It would be so much easier to just write everything off and not open the message at all.

Not writing back went against every fiber of Azi’s prim upbringing, however, so she forced herself to read what was there and prepare for disappointment.

Dear Azi, said the WTmail, I can’t wait to meet with you on Tuesday! I’m already getting my outfit together. Are there any colors or textiles you’re allergic to? Are there any things you’d like me to make sure I do or don’t do? I’ve never gone anywhere with someone like you before and I don’t trust checking online for this kind of thing. I’ve included a list of things that past outings have taught me people might not realize about humans so you don’t have to guess as much. Excited to see you, Quinn. Quinn always wrote like that.

Once she’d convinced herself there wasn’t going to be any impending catastrophe (which only seemed to apply to dates, never mind that she’d yet to have a truly horrible one), Azi skimmed the attachment and mentally checked off things that didn’t apply to her. Neither of them was prone to creating elements toxic to the other, they were well within compatible limits of the most recent Sentient Comprehension Scale research, she didn’t chew with her mouth open, and none of the scents vu had listed were ones she liked having on herself, so it seemed like a very straightforward list.

How to reply was harder. Would apologizing for the delay make her sound desperate? Maybe taking a while to write back would imply she was thinking things over; then again, it might say that she was repulsed by the Humanity Cheat Sheet vu’d sent her. It wasn’t like she could just ignore things until Tuesday. Her eyes drifted towards the time and she winced. If she didn’t start something soon it’d be Tuesday. This was going to require more than just one drink to finish.

She ran a claw along the edge of some leftover dinner packaging as she hemmed and hawed over the perfect words to use. It took her the better part of an hour to jot down a few short paragraphs. Azi forced herself to bathe and reread her work before sending it, and the copy editor in her demanded she finesse it further, but after another hour of work she promised herself it was as good as it was going to get. Hitting Send had never been so hard. While she still worried a bit that she’d said something that the multiversal translator might garble rudely, the worst had to be behind her.

Her dreams that night were uneventful. She took it as a good sign.

Actually getting to the date sucked (because transversing the boundaries of time and space always sucked), but wasn’t all that bad in the long run (because it wasn’t like Azi had never been on business trips to Realms Beyond before); while the dimension Quinn lived in was skewed towards folk much smaller than Azi was, she could still navigate their voidport and shamble along the people-movers without smacking her head on anything. Save for the part where she scared someone’s baby by smiling at it with too much mouth, it was an uneventful process.

The coffee shop had a pun for a name, meaning it didn’t translate well at all, but Quinn had been thoughtful enough to send photos of the sign and very clear directions; Azi found the place with minimal trouble. It was right by the voidport, too, which helped. While she wasn’t against the idea of finding a hotel room off-world, something about the idea of a coffee date running so long she had to crash before returning home didn’t sit well with her.

She nosed the door open and squeezed into the shop with as much grace as she could muster. It was easy to pick Quinn out from the crowd: vu had a physique that vu liked to describe as “doughy,” whatever that meant, and liked showing off vus curves with little cardigans and matching leggings. If the ladybug-colored outfit wasn’t enough of a tipoff, the fact that Quinn dyed vus hair and beard a magnificent shade of teal was. The bejeweled fascinator was a nice touch. Azi began to worry she was underdressed.

“You must be Azi!” said Quinn as soon as vu caught her eye. Vus voice sounded so different from the tinny recordings they’d swapped before. It was nice hearing vum without an overlaid artificial head cold.

“Hi, Quinn,” she said. She calculated just how many teeth were too many when it came to being friendly with the locals and beamed as non-threateningly as she could. “I’m so glad we were able to make our schedules work!”

“Me too.” Quinn pushed out the bench across from vum with the bottom of vus boot. “Have a seat, won’t you? They take orders at the tables here. The owner has this thing about too many people at the counter.”

Azi seated herself and tucked her legs up against her tail and abdomen. The tabletop looked sturdy enough so she rested her claws on it. The menu display projected on the surface shimmered a bit before it adjusted to her weight, but since Azi’s taste in coffee was very simple she didn’t bother trying to read it. “Have you been here before?” she asked. “It’s nice. Calm but not too dead.” Maybe not the most insightful of conversations, but as her aunt always said, you needed the larvae to get the imagos.

“I used to come here all the time when I was still in school,” said Quinn. “Nowadays work keeps me too busy to come by more than once every week or so, but…oh, here comes our server!”

While Azi ordered as close to her usual as this dimension allowed, Quinn’s request was involved. Very involved. So involved Azi wondered if vu was messing with the poor young man with the apron until he scribbled something down on his notepad and gave vum a crisp nod. Whatever a samovar was, this shop apparently had them, and Quinn was determined to eat—or atomize, or maybe consume by some other process Azi didn’t know about—the entire thing.

They chatted lightly about the usual inoffensive maybe-first-date things, like work and food and the weather, until their orders came. Being so close to the voidport meant Azi’s need for a bowl wasn’t considered something weird (or worth charging extra for), and if the waiter had a problem with maneuvering a tureen filled with hot brown bean water with only one hand, he certainly didn’t show it. She ruffled her filtration membranes with anticipation as soon as the first scented curl of steam wafted off the top.

A samovar, it turned out, looked a bit like a sports trophy with a spigot at one end and a heating element built into the bottom. Quinn dispensed some of its contents into a little white mug and began adding more ingredients to it a pinch and dollop at a time. The entire process involved so much careful mixing that Azi felt a bit overwhelmed by it.

There was also the thing where Quinn put the coffee in vus mouth to consume it. Azi had done a report on humans for an alien physiology class back in college, but there was a huge difference between knowing their mouths were multipurpose and actually seeing it in action. How did the liquid not get all contaminated with the more solid food in a human stomach? Weren’t humans mostly made of water, anyway? She’d skimped on that part of her research. It’d just been too gross.

Quinn looked up over the brim of vus mug. “Is something wrong?”

Azi did her best to keep most of her eyes from goggling. It meant shutting several pairs of lids entirely, but manners were manners. “I’ve just never been around a human while they were doing…that,” she said. It struck her that this might not have been the politest thing to do. “Please don’t be self-conscious!” she added, feeling her pigmentation swirling with embarrassment. “I just haven’t really gone on too many dates with WT people. I’m kind of a newbie at this.”

“You’re fine,” vu said. Vu sounded like vu more or less meant it. “If it makes you feel any better, I’m trying to figure out how that thing you’re doing right now works, too.”

It wasn’t until then that Azi parsed just how many bits she had that Quinn probably didn’t. Humans were so weird and compact! Maybe that was why they adapted to places so well. She let her membranes drift through her bowl of coffee without focusing on drinking—or at least what she considered drinking, which was quickly proving itself to not be as simple an idea as it sounded. “You want the short version or the science lecture version?” she asked.

Quinn leaned forward with vus chin in vus hands. “Believe it or not, I’d like the second one,” vu said.

The rest of the date was weird but informative. Azi was certain she’d probably never be in such a particular conversation again, and kept thinking about Quinn’s smile all the way back home.

Lue was insufferable the next day. “Sooo, did you figure out how to make a human come?” she asked, having perfectly timed her visit for when Azi was waiting on some test cycles to process.


“What? I’m really curious, I mean there’s just so little to them.”

Azi snorted with as much offense as she could muster. “You don’t just go asking someone where their erogenous zones are! At least not on the first date,” she added. She’d be lying if she hadn’t idly thought about which bits on Quinn would make vum smile or sigh when stroked.

Lue snaked her head aroung the other side of Azi’s chair and side-eyed her. “So does that mean there’s going to be a second date?”

“Maybe!” stammered Azi. She rubbed at her forehead with her knuckle. “Sorry, sorry, that came out wrong. I’m just a little nervous.” They’d made plans so easily even with the lingering grossness that was dealing with the biggest human orifice. “We’re going to dinner next week. It’s some kind of theme restaurant with…I don’t know, clowns or something? My translator was having trouble with the name. Vu said to watch my WTmail and vu’d send me photos about how people would be dressing, you know, in case I want to do so myself. They’ve got a menu that won’t give me a terrible allergic reaction, I checked. Quinn did a lot of checking, too, since vu understands what it’s like trying to dine off-dimension. There’ll be seats that fit my butt and everything.”

Her conversation with Quinn on the trip back had also included some key details she figured she might as well tell Lue now, since they’d inevitably come out sooner or later. “And I’ll be getting a hotel room this time. If dinner goes well I might not be by myself the entire night.”

Lue made a scandalized woo noise like she was auditioning for a daytime TV show. Azi rolled her head and neck up into a tight spiral but couldn’t stop giggling. You didn’t stay friends with someone for the better part of two decades and not get used to their friendly ribbing.

“So the human thing isn’t a big deal, I take it?” Lue asked.



“Well, there’s this one thing I wasn’t prepared for….” said Azi. Lue leaned in like a conspirator and silently urged her onwards. Azi ran her hand along one of her barbels to steady her nerves; it was still weird thinking about some of the details. “When humans drink coffee, they actually drink the coffee.

Lue gasped. “No! Oh my god, gross!” She shuddered from ears to tail-tip. “Really, though? Like with the mouth?”

“Like with the mouth,” said Azi with a nod.

“But that’s what they use for talking!”

“And eating, and breathing, and drinking. All the same hole!” They both cried out with disgust. It was a slow day and Azi usually worked with her door closed even when nosy best friends dropped by, so nobody said anything, but she still clapped her hands over her mouth when she realized how loud she’d been. “Vu was super-cute, though, so it wasn’t too bad,” she added, her voice quieter. “I just focused on vus hairdo whenever vu did the mouth thing. I think I could get used to it in time.”

Lue bobbed her head. “You’re going to have to, if you’re serious about dinner. How’s that going to work, anyway? Is vu going to eat the plate with vus grody human mouth parts? Those grody, grody human mouth parts?”

“Theme restaurant, remember? There’s a floor show. I can look at whatever they’re doing there and not at someone putting food in vus breathing apparatus and I’ll be fine.” She pressed her forehead against Lue’s. “I haven’t gotten laid in so long, Lue. I’m willing to put up with some nasty anatomical quirks in exchange for maybe getting to share an orgasm with this really cute alien who actually likes all those photos I take of my model kits, and I think that’s perfectly reasonable.”

“I’m sure you’ll do fine,” said Lue. She pressed back against Azi’s forehead before straightening up. “You’re the sweetest gal I know and anyone, no matter how few organs they have, is going to be super lucky to have you in their life. And I still demand pictures of your date!”

“We’ll see,” said Azi. Next week was too far away.

Next week came entirely too quickly. The restaurant—Bread and Circuses, said the signage out front, though Azi was pretty sure those words didn’t mean what she thought they did in this context—was easy to get to by cab, and given how unwieldy the white bedsheet she’d wrapped herself in was, she was grateful there wasn’t much walking between her hotel and the lobby.

Quinn was easy to spot because Quinn believed blending into the crowd was for other, more boring people. Vu was wearing a much more tailored version of the linens Azi was in, paired with some kind of purple shawl and some gold hair accents shaped like branches of leaves. Azi had never seen anyone, human or otherwise, dressed like the Bread and Circuses patrons, which probably meant it was some kind of historical costume. We are LARPing at dinner, she thought. It’s our second date and we’re already playing make-believe in public. I think that’s a good sign?

“Azi! You look great!” Vus smile could’ve powered a solar generator for an entire year.

Azi adjusted her bargain-replicated sandals shyly. “Thanks. You look nice, too.” She wasn’t in the worst costume in the place, though she was the only one present who wasn’t an alien. Everything was so small! All the doorways looked wide enough to let her walk through them without having to wedge herself sideways, though, which helped. She steeled her nerve and hooked a claw around Quinn’s little finger, holding hands in a noncommittal way.

Quinn pulled her over towards a standing exhibit in one of the alcoves. “So aside from the floor show, this place is kind of like a little museum, right?” vu said. “It’s all reproductions, but you can see here that they’ve got a diorama set up depicting a day in the life of….”

It was about this time that Azi’s translator started showing the gaps in its software. To be fair, nobody ever really expected to understand all the names when discussing alien cultures, but the problem was made all the more obvious when it was a cheerful new friend who was the source of the distortion. Azi knew better than to assume that all humans shared a single history, but the more Quinn talked the more she suspected whatever time period she was looking at just couldn’t be converted into the usual subvocal chemical pulses she was used to. Quinn looked so excited about telling her the differences between the curly bits at the tops of the columns she wasn’t about to say anything, though. It was nice to just be with vum and to experience vus happiness vicariously.

“So we need one final thing for you before we get seated,” vu said.

“Oh? What’s that?”

Vu opened the glossy program book vu’d had tucked under one arm and punched out a piece of jagged card stock, then fitted a few tabs through a few slots until it looked vaguely like a laurel wreath. “An honored guest deserves a crown of her own,” vu said. Azi bent down low enough for Quinn to rest the paper laurels on her head.

Azi squared her shoulders and did her best to look regal while wearing a bedsheet. “How do I look?”

“Fantastic,” gushed Quinn. “Would you mind if I took your picture?”

One picture turned into a few dozen, some staged more than others, and just as she’d promised Lue, Azi was sure to take some of her own to share. Nobody gave them any mind. Sometimes it was nice being able to stay within range of a voidport; at least then people were used to seeing visitors of extraordinary shapes and sizes.

While she could’ve spent the whole night making silly faces at the camera and draping herself among the potted ferns, Azi wasn’t quite able to shake the feeling of the passage of time. “We should probably head in before it gets started,” she said with a flick of her barbels. “You said in your last mail that we have a table reserved…?”

“Our table! Right, right, right, it’s this way,” vu said, aiming her through a hallway filled with pillars and plastic statuary.

The main dining area was an indoor amphitheater that looked down over a sandy central area; a few portcullises marked where tunnels leading backstage fed into the show floor proper. Their table was dead center, though a ways up in the back by the curtains and one of the many half-hidden nooks where servers could freshen up someone’s amphora of Pepsi. It made sense enough to Azi: if she was closer to the front, she’d easily block the row behind her, and maybe more than that.

While there’d only been a smattering of people in their seats when she and Quinn came in, a few minutes later the arena was full to bursting with costumed diners, families with varying numbers of children, and what appeared to be a birthday party at the far end. What she didn’t see was anyone taking orders; she almost said something, but opted to wait and see when she realized she didn’t have a clue about how the Bread and Circuses experience was supposed to work.

The lights dimmed and music boomed to thunderous life over the loudspeakers. The vibrations felt great along Azi’s sensory hairs, and while she didn’t entirely get the context of the man in red and white riding out in his little chariot, it was fun to hear the crowd applaud when the spotlight fell on him. He was too far out and there was too much reverb on the speakers for her translator to properly decipher what he was saying, so she opted to lounge on her bench and enjoy the sonic feedback instead. So far it was an entirely acceptable date.

She had halfway expected the acrobats, and the chariot race was exciting, but what really held Azi’s attention was the part where a pair of spotted bulls charged across the sand and some agile youths wearing very little did flips and cartwheels across their backs. Human anatomy was gross, but it was amazing what all they’d figured out they could do with it. Avi worried quietly to Quinn about whether or not the act was safe; vu assured her that the animals were all treated well and trained to only look angry, and that there hadn’t been more than a few bumps and bruises throughout the show’s history, so she decided she’d try to take vus word for it. It certainly stayed in her mind longer than the excerpts from some play she had no cultural connection to did.

Dinner itself involved no menus at all. They had their drinks and bread throughout, which Azi had expected, but the actual courses were brought by on trays at regular intervals. Azi had never imagined she’d see so many olives in one place. She couldn’t have identified half of what she ate if she’d tried, but her pocket evaluator cleared everything as digestible, which was what counted. Whatever a “fish” was, she vowed to try more of it in the future.

She was halfway through her third platter of grapes when the already dimmed lights fell further, leaving the arena dark save for the flicker of the open torches by the sand. The spotlight returned on the unintelligible MC again, who appeared to be presenting the final act to a figure seated on a throne and surrounded by servants with palm leaves. Not being able to understand what was going on culled some of the dramatic potential, but Avi didn’t need words to understand what was about to happen when the scantily-clad athletes with prop weapons emerged from the arena tunnels to salute the man on the throne.

“It’s not a real deathsport, right?” she whispered.

Vu held her hand and shook vus head. “Just an act. They don’t even use fake blood.” Ah, right, humans were filled with blood. “If you need to step outside…?”

“I should be good.” She paused, drank in the timbre of the clash of metal on metal, then added, “But if you’d keep holding my hand that’d be great.”

Quinn smiled at her and gave her a friendly squeeze, then did her one better and twined vus arm with hers. It felt like a very good sign.

By the time the final gladiator had saluted his section of the amphitheater—apparently each warrior had their own section, though Azi hadn’t really bothered to keep up with who was representing her seat—she had snuggled up so close to Quinn that she could feel vus natural electrical impulses through her clothes. She’d opted to switch from colas to wine halfway through the fights, and the light lingering buzz from it left her in a fantastic mood. The lights came up and the crowd began filing out, but she didn’t move from her bench.

“Want to get an autograph?” asked Quinn, who also hadn’t bothered to move. “You could get something signed by those bull-jumpers you were so taken with.”

Avi shrugged. “Nah.” She stretched. It had been a lovely evening, Quinn was cute, and as she’d mentioned to Lue she really hadn’t gotten laid in far too long. It was time to make a move. “I do have a hotel room in town, though,” she said. She couldn’t shake all the nervousness, but this felt right and good. “I’ve nowhere I have to be tomorrow. Would you like to, you know, go back with me?” She paused, then added, “I’m asking if you want to go have sex in my hotel room, just so we’re clear.”

“I think I’d like that,” vu said. This time it was Avi’s turn to illuminate the premises with her smile, number of teeth showing be damned.

They managed to keep calm all the way through the hotel lobby and along the people-mover leading to Azi’s floor—nothing to see here, just an alien and someone from out of town dressed in millennia-old fashions, she thought to herself—but as soon as the lock closed with a beep behind them they were on each other with awkward determination. The erogenous zone talk was officially postponed in favor of figuring out how exactly she was supposed to kiss a human, then doing so with gusto.

“I thought you said you were bothered by the mouth thing?” asked Quinn when vu paused for breath. Their Worlds Together talks had been very honest in the week leading up to their second date.

Azi felt her cheeks color. “It’s still gross. I, um. I think I’m kind of starting to like how gross it is, though. I’m kind of starting to like it a lot.” She plucked the cardstock laurel from her head and put it on the side table. There were entirely too many clothes on her body. “Want to help me out of this thing?”

“Do I ever!”

Human hands were tiny, fleshy little things with five digits each, one of which was arranged so it could fold backwards and touch the tips of the others. They were also quite deft: Quinn had no trouble undoing the knots in Azi’s costume, and the faint trail of oils and shed skin cells vus fingers left on her freshly exposed receptors was intoxicating. All the research in the world couldn’t have prepared her for the way a human’s heartbeat tasted when one was right up against her abdomen.

One of Azi’s roommates in college had been the kind of alien that shed their exoskeleton regularly, struggling from a cloudy, brittle shell into a glossy and iridescent new self. That was how she felt then: like she was peeling away an old and outdated husk (represented by some spare linens) to recline in the glow of the sun (represented by Quinn). It didn’t involve the part where she’d take her old exuvia down to the sculpture building to use for weird high-concept found-material installations, but Azi had never really gotten art majors, anyway.

Quinn ran vus tongue along the edge of one of her membranes and she nearly squeaked with pleasure. Vu leaned in for a new angle but was stopped by a foot placed against vus forehead.

“Do I need to try something else?” vu asked.

“No, it’s good, it’s fine,” said Avi. “But I’d like it if you were naked, too, okay?”

“Can’t get enough of my gross human flesh?”

“Nope.” She kissed vum again as encouragement and said a silent thank-you to the awkward conversations they’d already had about boundaries and how, no matter what weird anatomy they discovered in the process, they still wanted to hump each other silly.

As for Quinn, vu seemed to take it the right way; it wasn’t long before vus lovingly-homemade costume found itself briskly folded and left on the side bed. It was soon joined by undergarments that were exactly as sparkly as Azi expected. Vu propped vus leg up on the bed and struck a pose.

Azi crooned in amazement. While Quinn had been pretty clear that vus gender wasn’t the kind of thing she could reference in the average extradimensional field guide, she’d never been intimate with a human of any sort, so it was all new territory to her anyway. Much like the rest of the human body, it was very compact and way too complicated at the same time. “So this is what human parts look like up close,” she said, breathily.

Quinn laughed. “Nah. Only mine.”


Whatever effect human skin had on a person like Azi apparently could barely compare to the sensation of her tongue on Quinn; maybe it was something in her saliva or maybe it was just a pleasant combination of touch and texture, but vu scrunched up vus face in pleasure after only the barest attention. She eased off for the sake of not burning out nerve endings immediately. It was a fun little game, finding just the right threshold to keep Quinn excited and happy without over- or undershooting her goal. Azi almost felt sorry for how vu only had two eyes, since her laterals and auxiliary eyespots were able to get a great view from where she’d curled around vum on the horrible hotel comforter.

Isn’t that too simple? she’d asked during one of their first talks about what they preferred in bed. Don’t you want more out of sex?

I’m a simple person, Quinn had replied. Now Azi could see why. Who needed to cycle through different heat signatures or degauss their personal energy fields when you could get off on just finding a good spot and rubbing (or licking, or enveloping, or otherwise diddling) it until you saw stars? The pheromones bleeding off of vus skin alone were enough to get Azi halfway sky-high. Small wonder they were such a popular alien species to date.

While in her prime she could’ve gone for longer, Azi was sorely out of practice, and by the time she started to cramp she made up her mind to help Quinn finish. Even if this was their only time together, she was determined to be a good ambassador for her home dimension.

It turned out that human orgasms involved more fluids than she’d expected but far less than she’d feared. All it took was a few swipes of a hand towel and anyone who wasn’t keyed in to heartbeat feedback or chemical receptors wouldn’t have suspected a thing. She batted some of her eyes demurely.

“My turn now?”

Quinn had to catch vus breath. “Oh yeah. Definitely your turn.”

And what a turn it was! Humans—or at least Quinn—made up for an overall lack in anatomical variety with a surfeit of anatomical creativity. Azi was kissed in places she’d never had so much as a hand on before. Vus saliva tingled on every lip-print, and the mingling of gases vu exhaled with each breath made Azi feel drunker than the wine had ever made her. She wanted to wrap her entire body around Quinn (which, while uncomfortable, was probably entirely possible) and she wanted to breathe rainbows (which was probably less so). Did human chemicals give people hangovers? Did it matter?

“Like this?”

“Like that. Oh…like that.

Quinn’s fingers caressed her dorsal intake pits and danced across her photophores. It was amazing what such tiny, squishy things could do to something Azi’s size; she barely had to unfold her favored genital orifice before there was an exploring mouth on it. She briefly worried she was opening her mouth too much, but if Quinn noticed vu certainly didn’t care. This only made Azi gape more. It was so nice being able to completely unfurl her jaws with joy every now and then with nobody around to tell her she was being rude.

Deft or not, Quinn couldn’t last forever, and Azi squirmed happily as vu buried vus face in a particularly productive cluster of membranes and nibbled at her until she came. Her worries melted away like gelatin in the sun.

Once Azi’s post-coital hypersensitivity had dulled again, Quinn snuggled up next to her and rested vus head on her chest. This was so much better than the last time she’d hooked up over WT, in no small part because no one was secreting tar everywhere, or worse, talking about politics. They cuddled and listened to the rattle of the air conditioning.

“You need a ride back home?” she asked a while later.

“Kicking me out already, huh?” vu replied, waggling vus ocean-colored eyebrows.

She shoved vum playfully with her tail. “I’m just saying you shouldn’t miss work in the morning because of me.”

“Yeah, yeah, you’re right.” Quinn wrapped vumself in one of Azi’s less sexy appendages, squeezed it, then stood up to begin collecting vus clothes. “I had a lot of fun, though. We don’t have to be a thing unless you want to, but I’d love to schedule an all-night sleepover some time.”

She chewed on her lip thoughtfully. While the entire concept of being officially a “thing” after a mere two dates felt like swallowing a billiard ball made of ice, Azi couldn’t deny the appeal of seeing vum again. Traveling so much in such a short timespan wasn’t being kind to her already strained finances, but then again….

“That sounds great. How about we look into you visiting me next time?”

“Like, your home dimension? Where everyone communicates by whalesong and electric farts?”

That was certainly one way to put it. “Yeah.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for both our worlds,” vu said, and even through vus laughter Azi could tell Quinn meant it.

illustrated by Iron Eater


See this story’s entry on the Shousetsu Bang*Bang wiki.

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