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Cecil stumbled into his bedroom backwards, one hand clutching tightly to Carlos' hip as the other snaked hesitantly into that perfect hair. When he pressed his fingertips against Carlos' scalp, tracing the curve of Carlos' skull, Carlos groaned into his mouth and tugged him briefly closer before just as abruptly preserving the bare half-inch between them. It made Cecil giddy to think that Carlos might be that close already, that if Cecil were to stop in his tracks, roll his hips into it while they were still pressed together, he might have the pleasure of seeing Carlos come completely undone for him.

But oh, Carlos would be so embarrassed, and this--this was good, Carlos' hands sliding down his sides, thumbs stroking the blades of Cecil's hips before wandering again, leaving no part of him unmapped. Carlos' kisses were both hungry and sweet, breaking off whenever Cecil felt too close to devolving into pleading whimpers. When the backs of Cecil's legs hit the foot of the bed, Cecil wanted nothing better than to sit down and reach immediately for Carlos' belt, but Carlos distracted him by reaching for the hem of Cecil's tunic.

For a moment he considered being self-conscious. Thirty years of running for his life on a regular basis had left him in fair enough shape, but it wasn't like he worked out. He was just...average. What if Carlos liked harder bodies, ripped abs and tight pecs, was expecting something more impressive, like tattoos or interesting scars? And then his tunic was lifting off over his head, and oh, his hair must be a mess, and Carlos--

Carlos gave him a sweet little smile, stroking down Cecil's unremarkable chest to his flat but uninspiring belly and leaned in to kiss him just like he had that first time. Cecil melted.

He hadn't quite pulled himself back together when Carlos took a half step back, unfastened the top two buttons of his shirt, and oh gods great and terrible, the ripple of his flexing arms should have been a clue even before his shirt wound up on the floor. The remarkable chest? The inspiring abdominals? Carlos had enough for both of them.

Goodness. He really was perfect in every way.

Carlos' grin was an oddly lopsided thing as he shook his swiftly-ducked head, peering uncertainly at Cecil through the disordered mop of his hair. It was getting so long, and it made him look so much more approachable than when Telly the Barber had done the unthinkable and turned Carlos into a severe, model scientist. It was that half-nervous look that made Cecil give to the vague prompts of Carlos' hands, pulling himself back across the bed as Carlos followed him up on all fours, slinking wolflike after him as Cecil slid coyly away until his head reached the pillows.

He was so glad he'd changed his sheets that morning, even though he'd felt presumptuous at the time. Carlos had been so hesitant on their dates that Cecil had wondered if this was a new thing for him--being with a man--though Carlos had seemed comfortable enough with the idea. More than comfortable with the touching, and Cecil might have whimpered when Carlos pinned his wrists and proceeded to lick his way down from the point of Cecil's chin to his navel, his stomach hollowed breathlessly against a ticklish squirm or a needy arch. Then Carlos' hands pulled slowly away, dragging over his palms and his twitching fingers before going to his belt.

Cecil moaned before Carlos even got his fly undone, before his pants were loosened just enough for a warm, solid hand to free his erection. That woke a confused worry in the back of Cecil's mind--was Carlos in a hurry or not as comfortable as he seemed?--but the tongue that was winding a slow, wet spiral as far down his cock as a human tongue could manage was clearly savoring every moment. Carlos' face was nearly blissful, and the way he groaned around Cecil's cock was just filthy. And lovely. Like he'd been starved for it and now had everything he needed.

"Carlos," Cecil breathed, threading his hands through Carlos' hair and trying gently to tug him off. "Carlos, please. I want--"

Dark eyes tipped up to meet his, and it was so strange to watch trepidation rush back in now. Cecil found himself wondering if Carlos' personal equipment didn't quite measure up to his overall perfection, if other partners had been disappointed by the contrast in the past. As Carlos pulled slowly up, giving him all the time in the world to reconsider, Cecil resolved firmly not to react no matter what. His Carlos was perfect in all ways, and that included his terrible grasp of architecture; the way he peeled everything he got his hands on, as if he wasn't really looking at a thing unless he could see all of it; the way his voice dodged in and out of a perfectly charming accent, like he couldn't bear for anyone to know where he was from. Even his insecurities merely made him someone Cecil could actually get to know: his perfect, perfect Carlos, more human than any scientist Cecil had ever met.

Sitting up with studied casualness, Carlos unfastened his belt and then his slacks, hooking his thumbs in his briefs and pushing them all just far enough down his hips that--

Cecil stared. And didn't react. He didn't even breathe.

Where Carlos' cock should have been, there were...things. A writhing knot of flesh-colored...things maybe as wide as his thumb. They were--Mother of Horrors, they were tentacles, only that...wasn't possible. Station Management had tentacles. Probably. Only Carlos was human. He was pretty sure. Or maybe he'd been culturally insensitive.

Cecil blinked when Carlos sat slowly and carefully back on his heels, the...knot at his groin winding more tightly together. "So," Carlos said with a strained sort of calm. "I guess this isn't normal here, either."

Normal? How could he possibly think that was--and then Cecil wrenched his eyes back up to Carlos' face and felt his own crumple with shame.

Carlos hadn't thought. He'd hoped.

"I--no," he choked out apologetically. "I'm sorry."

That startled a laugh out of Carlos, and Cecil didn't realize until it was too late that Carlos had misunderstood what Cecil was apologizing for. "Yeah, well, I guess I knew it was too much to hope for," Carlos said with a shrug, easing further away, coincidentally pulling his pants and briefs back up as he did. Tucked away, the tentacles were difficult to distinguish as anything strange the way they'd wound themselves together. It wasn't all that surprising that Cecil hadn't noticed anything before.

"Are they...I mean...were you born this way?" Cecil stammered. If they were genetic, then he'd been very insensitive; Management would be perfectly justified in sending him to a seminar for retraining.

Carlos shook his head with a vague little smile. "No, uh...the place I work for. The Foundation? They give out a lot of grants to people who can't get backers for their research anywhere else. It's all really interesting stuff, and...well, the last project I was on was doing some amazing things with multi-traversable inter-universe regions of compact spacetime."

"Fixed-point wormholes," Cecil translated, hearkening rustily back to high school geography.

"Yes!" Carlos exclaimed, lighting up in a way that Cecil knew meant he was about to be kissed until Carlos shrank in on himself again and looked away. "Uh, anyway," he said quickly over the tiny, hurt sound Cecil made. "The project head had us studying one generated in the lab that was giving off some fairly anomalous radiation. It, uh...well, at the time I thought he was just working too hard, but he swore the wormhole was talking to him."

Cecil's face went tight and cold. "Oh, damn."

"Yeah," Carlos said with a wry chuckle of very little humor. "I know that now. So there we were, doing some pretty bizarre tests on an anomaly that frankly made us all feel a little uncomfortable under a boss who seemed to be slowly losing his mind. And then one day he up and announces that I'm the wormhole's favorite and that no one else is allowed to do any more tests on it--just me."

Feeling his stomach turn over, Cecil swallowed hard against the lump that grew in his throat. He suspected he knew exactly where this story was going, but all he could do was listen as Carlos worried distractedly at the seam of his pants leg, never quite meeting Cecil's eyes.

"I kept running the tests, of course--I mean, the whole thing was getting kind of creepy, but to do that kind of science? It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I wasn't going to blow it. It wasn't until he dismissed the rest of the team that I started to think I was maybe in over my head, but I kept telling myself I could handle it.

"I never did hear the wormhole, you know," he admitted, glancing briefly up with a rueful twist to his mouth, as if confessing a personal failing. "Not like he did. But I, uh...saw it, when...well, I was pretty out of it at the time," he said quickly, shaking his head. "Dr. West--he'd drugged the coffee that morning, and when I woke up, I was...floating in the middle of the chamber where the wormhole was generated. Right where it was generated. And whatever was on the other side--well, if the wormhole itself was a bridge between two universes, whatever was out there was using me as a bridge to becoming corporeal, I think. It probably would've worked, too, except that West forgot one thing."

"What's that?" Cecil asked softly.

Carlos nearly smiled. "That we're not living in a horror movie. The guys who run the Foundation--they're just a bunch of geeks with way too much money, not some shadowy organization. They donate millions every year to projects like SETI and the search for places like Night Vale; when one of the guys I'd been working with made a panicked call to headquarters, they sent in an army of security guards, and one of them had the sense to hit the power on the wormhole generator. That thing that was trying to come through got cut off, and I...." Carlos shrugged. "I lived."

"But you were...." Cecil gestured hesitantly at Carlos' groin.

Carlos nodded. "They studied me for a while. I studied me for a while. We're all pretty sure it's a permanent fixture now. Getting to come to Night Vale was the best they could do for me; no one really knew what to expect from the locals, but they thought...well, if there was anywhere I might turn out to be normal...."

He'd been a fool.

"Anyway," Carlos said briskly, sliding off the bed and doing up his zipper at last. "I understand if it's something you need to sleep on. Or, you know, take your time. We can, uh...we can still meet for coffee if you still want, or--"

"Where are you going?" Cecil protested, grabbing Carlos' wrist tightly before he could retreat another step. "I was just--gods, I was just surprised. I'm not--they are still you, right? Not possessed by a lingering, symbiotic remnant of some multi-dimensional trespasser?"

"No," Carlos said slowly, resisting Cecil's determined tug on his arm. "They're all me, but--"

"Then it's fine. Please, Carlos--I can't believe I was so crass, and...and insensitive, and--don't be mad?"

"Christ, Cecil," Carlos muttered, sighing out a heavy breath. "I'm not mad. I just--"

Cecil tugged again. "Then come here and show me."

Carlos yielded a little, edging closer step by reluctant step, but Cecil was persistent. He counted it a minor victory when Carlos sank down at last to perch at the edge of the bed, eyeing him warily as Cecil reached for his zipper. As an added precaution, Cecil kept a firm grip on Carlos' wrist, just in case.

Though they'd been moving before, the knot of tentacles forming a tight lump inside Carlos' dark blue briefs were utterly still when Cecil worked Carlos' pants open. Frowning, Cecil ran the tip of a finger lightly over the strained material, but...nothing. Not even a twitch. "Are they...supposed to be...?"

"Define 'supposed,'" Carlos muttered, then shook his head before Cecil could scold him. "Sorry. It's just nerves, I think. I don't want to scare you, or--"

"You won't," Cecil said confidently. "Can I see them?"

Gods, he wished he'd been a little more smooth the first time Carlos had tried to show him, but after several false starts--hampered not a little by Cecil's stubborn refusal to turn loose of Carlos' wrist--this time he didn't stop until he had Carlos completely naked.

He'd never thought of tentacles as nervous before, but there was no mistaking their tortured bunch for anything else. It didn't look comfortable at all. When he drifted a light touch across the tangle again, this time he was rewarded with a startled flinch. "That didn't hurt?" he asked, just to be certain. Carlos shook his head.

"No, uh, I'm just...not used to anyone else touching them."

Oh. Oh. Then Cecil was...sweet, unmerciful Elders. He was going to be Carlos' first.

Kissing was definitely called for, and it had the advantage of being something they were already good at. Carlos gave in with barely any resistance at all. If Cecil happened to leave his hand right where it was, that was only a fortunate accident, and he made sure not to stiffen up or move too fast as the worried knot of tentacles began slowly to unfurl. They nudged along his palm at first, blood-hot and smooth, no more damp than a pair of tight-clasped hands would have been after a shock. As he leaned into the kiss with a moan, Cecil slowly spread his fingers, forcing himself not to smile as Carlos' tentacles began to thread their way through his digits all on their own.

"Fuck," Carlos broke away to breathe against Cecil's cheek as Cecil stroked his thumb slowly back and forth. Startled but clearly aroused, Carlos' tentacles tightened around Cecil's hand and started to jerkily withdraw only as an afterthought, lingering helplessly when Cecil eased his hand closer still.

They were really quite solid, more muscular than erectile, and Cecil wasn't certain whether he should find that unusual or not. He'd never really given tentacles much thought apart from not getting on Station Management's bad side. They were a comfortable fit with each other, none of them crowding any of the others, and the end effect was a sort of ring around a central appendage, all of them the same width and length. They liked to be stroked, he discovered, but they liked even better to twine, sliding with growing boldness around his fingers and rubbing pleadingly against his palm.

He felt his face heat to the tips of his ears as he found himself wondering what they'd feel like around his cock, but there was something else he absolutely had to try first.

"Cecil--" Carlos began as Cecil slid off the bed and dropped to his knees, pushing in between Carlos' legs though Carlos tried to close them. "You don't--you really don't have to--"

"I want to," Cecil breathed, staring avidly as Carlos' lovely tentacles tried to retreat again. They were so smooth, maybe a shade darker than the rest of Carlos' skin, but each and every one had a tiny little mouth at its tip. He shivered as he wondered just how much Carlos had been changed, if he'd be filled to bursting if Carlos came with all of them inside him, if he could even fit them all. He found he wanted to try. Desperately.

From the noise Carlos made just then, either Cecil's hungry eyes had explained his pleasant shudder adequately, or else he'd been speaking aloud.

"God," Carlos groaned, staring down at him like he was the most precious thing in Carlos' life, and really, how could he resist?

The tentacle he dragged his tongue along tasted just like Carlos with a faintly stronger tang of musk and salt. What was interesting was how it twitched, slipping actively into his mouth to twine around his tongue. He was surprised to find he was surprised, but there'd been no buck of Carlos' hips to warn him, and part of him was still caught up in his own limited assumptions. He really needed to stop thinking of them as novelty cocks, or they were just going to--

"Hnn," he groaned as three more slithered past his lips, another wriggling in amongst its fellows, stuffing his mouth. Carlos looked uncertain, but Cecil only opened his jaw wider, curling his tongue between the stroking, searching tendrils in what he hoped was a tempting manner. They seemed fascinated by his teeth, rubbing along his molars with curious little shivers, but they curled mindfully away from the back of his throat with all of Carlos' innate politeness. He wanted to say that he didn't mind, that the fullness alone was making him painfully hard and that he could take more if Carlos would only try.

He'd have to go so slow. He wouldn't want to scare Carlos off, not now. But it was all he could do not to pin Carlos' hips to the bed and lower his mouth down until those delightful tendrils were fucking his throat, choking him with their friendly, caressing writhe.

"Cecil," Carlos warned in a broken, apologetic rasp, hands tangling in his hair. "Cecil, I--"

Carlos hadn't been touched in over a year. Of course this first time wouldn't last. But Cecil wasn't disappointed--gods, no--not when all he wanted at that moment was to find out what Carlos tasted like, what he looked like when he lost control.

He was, of course, perfect.

"God, Cecil," Carlos groaned afterward, slumped back on the bed with one arm thrown across his eyes. "You--I can't believe you just--that was amazing."

Torn between embarrassment and delight, Cecil pressed his face into Carlos' shoulder, his own erection a stiff line he was trying not to grind into Carlos' hip. The least he could do was give his lover a few minutes; it wasn't every day a man broke a year-plus dry spell with a new set of equipment. "I like them," he admitted bashfully.

Carlos' chuckle was warm and low, shiveringly intimate. "I noticed."

"Is that all right?" he asked, picking his head up to meet Carlos' fond gaze. Just because Cecil liked them--just because they were a part of Carlos--it didn't necessarily follow that Carlos liked them too.

Leaning in carefully, Carlos placed a gentle kiss right on the tip of Cecil's nose. "It's more than all right," he murmured, slowly opening eyes he'd automatically closed. "It's perfect."

Cecil grinned, all but wriggling with excitement.

The funny thing about Carlos and perfection was that there was always room to improve.