Listeners. While you were listening to the Weather, guess who just called me?
If you guessed my boyfriend, Carlos, you're right. Carlos called! Not to discuss what movie we might watch after I make dinner tonight, although I am planning to cook, and it's going to be delicious. I went out this afternoon and got everything I'm going to need. No: he called to tell me about another interesting scientific phenomenon here in Night Vale.
Just now, he told me, a woman appeared in his lab out of nowhere. He turned around from inspecting the growth of some sentient slime mold, and there she was, standing in the middle of the room. He described her as a tall blond woman, wearing all black, with a gun holster on her hip. I told him she was probably a member of the Sheriff's Secret Police.
He said he thought of that, and he greeted her with the traditional Sheriff's Secret Police genuflection. He's becoming so acclimated, my Carlos!
But apparently she wasn't Sheriff's Secret Police. She told Carlos that she was from Boston, and that she'd come through a transdimensional portal. She said it as though she expected him to be surprised. Maybe before he moved to Night Vale that would have been a shocker! But not for my Carlos, not anymore.
When he didn't seem fazed, she told him she was trying to reach a parallel universe. She asked a few basic questions -- who's the President, had he ever heard of something called "ambering" -- and concluded that this was the same universe she'd started out in. Or at least, not the particular universe she was looking for.
I wish he'd called me then, listeners! Every child in Night Vale knows there's a portal to another universe in the caves behind the salt flats. That might have been the universe she was looking for. But Carlos didn't know to tell her that. He said she closed her eyes as though concentrating with all her might, and she disappeared again.
More on this story as it develops, perhaps tomorrow. Stay tuned for an hour of heavy breathing interspersed with the dulcet tones of jackhammers.
The instant Carlos opened Cecil's door his mouth started watering, because the apartment smelled so good. Purple galangal root, definitely, and was that lemongrass?
"I'm almost finished," Cecil called from the kitchen. "Come get yourself a drink."
Carlos toed off his shoes and padded into the kitchen. Cecil was at the stove wearing his Night Vale Community Radio apron over a brilliant fuchsia shirt and tight black trousers, stirring some kind of curry. Cecil's sleeves were rolled up, revealing the sigils of power inscribed around his forearms, and he was humming happily as he moved from stove to counter to sink.
Carlos went to the fridge and got himself a beer, twisting the top off and tossing it into the trash can. "That looks amazing." He still wasn't accustomed to the lengths to which Cecil would go for him. The home-cooked meals, the handwritten love notes tucked into his pockets. Cecil said it was preposterous that no one had ever treated him properly before. Carlos wasn't sure whether that were actually true, or whether it were one of those things which is only true in Night Vale.
"It tastes," Cecil offered, "even better than it looks." The look he threw Carlos over his shoulder made Carlos's toes curl.
Carlos took a long swallow of beer, cold and crisp and ever-so-slightly bitter against his tongue. It made him bold. "Keep saying things like that and we're not going to make it to dinner," he said, recklessly, before he could second-guess himself.
Cecil turned the burner off with a loud click, then turned to face Carlos. There was delight in his eyes, and promise. "One of the best things about a good curry," he said, untying the apron -- his voice low and plummy and intimate, meant for Carlos' ears alone -- "is that the flavors get better if it sits for a while." He pulled the apron off and dropped it over the back of a chair, then moved to rinse his hands clean.
"I didn't know that." Carlos' tongue felt thick in his mouth. He'd never known quite how to respond to innuendo. Not that he'd been on the receiving end of much of it, before Cecil.
"You know a lot of things that I don't," Cecil pointed out. "Science things." He toweled his hands dry. Beautiful hands. When they cradled Carlos's face, Carlos always felt immeasurably cherished, and wanted, and safe.
"Fair," Carlos acknowledged. How did Cecil know exactly when he needed reassurance?
"I'm glad I know a few things I can share with you." Cecil reached for Carlos's beer and took it from him, tipping it up to drink from it himself. Carlos watched the movement of his stubbled throat and felt a sharp ache of yearning.
"Would you share some now?" The words weren't suave the way he wanted them to be, but given the way Cecil pushed right into his personal space and kissed him, he hypothesized that Cecil didn't seem to mind.
That scent-combination -- galangal and lemongrass -- was going to be an aphrodesiac for the rest of his life. Because it was what he inhaled, in great shuddering gasps, as Cecil slowly stripped him bare.
They'd touched each other before. They'd even moved from doing so on a couch to doing so on a bed. But they'd been half-clothed, shirts and trousers opened but not removed. This was a new intimacy, and the reverent way Cecil touched him made his heart ache with as much yearning as his cock. And now Carlos was lying on his stomach, his heart pounding like a fast snare drum, waiting for whatever Cecil had in mind.
Somehow this act of trust felt more daring, more terrifying, than any of the paranormal oddities he'd faced since coming to Night Vale.
"I wish I were an artist," Cecil murmured, pressing a string of kisses down his vertebrae. "I would paint you like this. Beautiful Carlos on my bed."
The first time they'd fooled around, when Cecil had started narrating right into Carlos's ear, Carlos had come in Cecil's hand almost instantly, shocky with lust and overwhelmed instantly with a mortification he hadn't felt since coming too fast all over his (disastrously wrong for him) high school girlfriend.
He was braced for it, now -- Cecil was a talker; it made sense, once he thought about it -- and he could usually listen without embarrassing himself. He would still never get used to being called beautiful, though. Not when he was naked, with every imperfection revealed.
"If I were rich I'd commission a series," Cecil continued, and now his big hands were on the small of Carlos's back, rubbing in a way which both soothed and inflamed. "I'd want one of you in every position."
"Every position?" Carlos managed, wanting to hold up his end of the conversation.
"Surely you've read the Kama Sutra?" Cecil's voice held surprise.
"Not exactly," Carlos admitted. He'd heard of it, sure. But nervous bisexual boys didn't walk into the town bookstore and ask for something like that -- not unless they wanted word getting back to their parents and probably their parish priest. And once he'd been away at college, and in grad school, he'd been busy with other things. Most of which had involved esoteric calculations, not sexual positions.
"I had to memorize it for a test in seventh grade health class," Cecil said, as though that were the most ordinary thing in the world. To Cecil, it probably was.
Whatever Carlos might have been about to say in response disappeared entirely when Cecil gently held him open and did something unbelievable with his tongue.
"I thought you might like that." Cecil's voice sounded both happy and amused.
Carlos was gasping, almost sobbing, into the pillowcase. His entire body felt suffused with pleasure.
Thankfully Cecil didn't seem to require a verbal response. He stroked a thumb over Carlos's hole and it sent sparks skittering up his spine. He probably should have been embarrassed at the sound he made in response, but he was too far gone.
"Gorgeous Carlos," Cecil murmured, and rubbed his thumb in little circles. Carlos groaned, squirming a little bit, wanting more. "I love seeing you enjoy your body."
And then Cecil's hands were gone, and he could feel the bed shift as Cecil got up. Carlos felt a spike of panic. Had he been supposed to respond to that? He wasn't as verbal as Cecil; not ever, not in any context, especially not in bed --
He rolled over, suddenly anxious, and what he saw took his breath away. Cecil stood at the foot of the bed, unzipping his trousers, pushing them down along with his underwear in one fluid motion. The dark curls on his chest arrowed down to his pubic hair, and he was stroking himself lightly with one hand, the tattoos on his forearm flexing and shifting. There was nothing but promise in Cecil's expression. Carlos let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.
"What would make you happy, beautiful Carlos?" Cecil asked.
"Come here," Carlos pleaded, and Cecil flowed up the bed like a pale inked wave. He braced himself over Carlos and their legs tangled. His cock pressed hot and heavy against Carlos's. Carlos couldn't resist thrusting up, his hands gliding down Cecil's back to hold him in place.
"Mmm, that's good." Cecil's voice was low and smoky. "Do you want me to fuck you?"
Carlos shuddered with want. "God, yes," he managed. "But this feels so good. Can we stay like this for a while?"
"Oh, we can stay like this the whole time," Cecil promised darkly. He pulled back and kneeled between Carlos's spread thighs, reaching over him to the nightstand and withdrawing a tube from the drawer. The squirt of lube onto his palm was obscene, but the lube itself glimmmered like the light of distant fireflies. He stroked himself once, twice, and when his hand came away it was faintly silvery, too. "Like this," Cecil said, and lifted Carlos's legs, bending him in half effortlessly.
At the first press of his cock, Carlos gasped. His skin was still sensitized from Cecil's earlier attentions, and as Cecil pushed inside, Carlos fought to keep from coming.
"So sweet," Cecil murmured. "Oh, Carlos, you have no idea how gorgeous you look like this."
"This is the portrait I would want over our bed," Cecil continued. "You, exactly like this. My spectacular Carlos." His every thrust brought Carlos closer to the inevitable. He didn't want this to be over.
"That's it," Cecil encouraged. "That's the look I want to put on your face. I can see how close you are. Right there."
Carlos's calves were braced against Cecil's shoulders. Cecil had been holding him there, but he let go, now, and dropped one hand to Carlos's cock. His grip was sure and as his thumb skated over the head Carlos thrashed, too close, almost in agony. "That's it," Cecil coaxed, and with a sob Carlos lost control, coming in hot pulses all over himself.
Cecil held perfectly still until Carlos had settled from his aftershocks, and then Cecil fucked him with exquisite slow thrusts which left him gasping for breath. When Cecil came, his low groan of completion made Carlos spasm as though he could come again.
They held each other for a long time.
That was another thing that was new for Carlos. Cecil was so frank in his admiration for Carlos's body that Carlos didn't feel self-conscious when the afterglow wore off, and he didn't worry that he was holding on too tight or cuddling for too long. It didn't seem as though Cecil minded, anyway.
When they finally got up and got dressed again -- well: Carlos got dressed; Cecil just put on a bathrobe, made of some silky lavender fabric which made Carlos's fingers itch to touch -- Carlos had to admit that Cecil had been right: the wait hadn't hurt the curry at all.
In fact, he wondered whether Cecil had chosen the dish precisely for that reason. Maybe Cecil had been hoping for the kind of evening where satisfying one physical appetite was back-burnered because the other appetite just couldn't wait.
Carlos had been accustomed to mostly ignoring his body. Before coming to Night Vale he'd lived mostly off of ramen noodles and grilled stuffed burritos from Taco Bell, which he and his lab-mates had called "GFU"s -- Generic Food Units. (And Taco Bell wasn't even food. Not if you knew what an actual taco tasted like.) And as far as sex was concerned? If masturbation counted, which he knew it technically did, he'd had a fairly reliable -- if desultory -- sex life. But in the physical arena, as in social and scientific realms, Night Vale seemed determined to turn his previous life upside-down…and to prove to him that as terrifying as this upside-down world could be, he far preferred it to the one he had known before.
One way or another, as he drove back to his apartment in the dark of night, his body thrummed like a plucked string.
When he undressed for bed, he noticed the dried remnants of Cecil's silvery handprints on his thighs, and shuddered with satisfaction. Cecil's remembered voice floated back to him. This is the portrait I would want over our bed. Ours. Cecil was hoping for an "ours."
Of all the remarkable things Carlos had encountered since coming to Night Vale, this one was the most amazing by far.
Well, listeners, you're probably wondering whether I have more to report on the woman who appeared in Carlos's lab yesterday.
Unfortunately, there's nothing else I can tell you. She hasn't been back -- at least not that anyone has seen, and surely if she'd materialized during the night, the Sheriff's Secret Police would have let one of us know. I can only hope she found the transdimensional portal she was looking for.
As for our dinner date --
Well. I think I can safely say we found our transdimensional portal. I told you it was going to be delicious, listeners, and I was right.
Beautiful Carlos, if you're listening -- and I do hope you're listening -- I made enough for more than one night. I'll bring the leftovers to your place after I'm off the air tonight.
Listeners, we never know what will transport us. Passion, yearning, memory. The scent of night-blooming flowers, the bite of a floating cat, a window to another universe which flares to life for an impossibly short time. Or maybe just the thought of the person for whom you'd brave the Municipal Office of Carnal Permissions, not just once, but before every full moon, for as long as he'll have you.
If you've been fortunate enough to find someone who transports you, don't let them go.
Good night, Night Vale. Good night.