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Charles snuggled into Frænsəs as the chime signaling the end of the sleep cycle sounded. “Fi’ muir min’ts.” he rumbled into his bedmate's barrel.

The officer sighed contentedly, glad that after his cycle had passed, Charles was still physically demonstrative. He still had not totally reverted to the form he had worn before he entered his cycle, but that was not completely unknown amongst his people, if they were in the company of compatible companions. The minor adjustments needed in the observation module to accommodate his new manipulating digits were worth the trouble, because with the increased surface area came more tactile receptors. Charles also had some wonderful ideas about fine motor control exercises. Frænsəs felt the beginnings of a trill begin at the memory, and suppressed it with a chuckle.

“You can have more time if you like, but I need to get to the monitors, soon,” Frænsəs murmured into his companion’s hair. “I will start the meal production unit.”

“Ah, I canna be lazy if you have to work, it’s not on,” Charles moved slowly to extricate himself from the bed. Mornings were not something he did well, but he still made the effort. “Just tea for me, I’ll get something more at first break.”

Frænsəs wrapped his manipulator appendages around Charles, caressing his torso, and nuzzled his neck, “Not trying to lose weight, are you?” He leaned back to look in his companion’s eyes.

“Nah, just… unsettled,” Charles frowned, then shook his head. “I’ll catch up proper when I’m right awake.”

Trilling against Charles’s neck, Frænsəs murmured, “I’ll get your tea ready, take your time.” His continued presence in the sleep pod, caused by his reluctance to release Charles, initiated the second warning chime in the pod.

The tea formula was something the MPU did not argue with them about, at least. There were an astonishing number of items that Charles had asked for, but were not the healthiest things for humans. The MPU would argue these selections strenuously, and in this, Frænsəs would not overrule the unit, because it was protecting the health of his mate.

Frænsəs paused, trying the phrase again. His mate. It was one of those thoughts that he found he had more often, the longer Charles stayed. He found he rather enjoyed that idea, and once again suppressed a trill.

His sector supervisor had stopped asking if “the primate” was still there, referring to Charles by name for the last few reports. It was not unknown for his people to take mates from other worlds, though it was a process that had a great deal of documentation to complete. Some thought the amount of regulation involved was only there to make sure the couples, triads, or groups were serious about the commitment. He had not asked Charles for a formal arrangement, but if things continued to be amenable, Frænsəs considered the forms required to be a minor hurdle.


When the end-of-workday chime sounded, Frænsəs stretched, trailing a couple of fingers up Charles’s side. Throughout the months since the whirlwind of sex had wound down, Charles had noticed Frænsəs was still tactile in their interactions, even increasing in some ways. These days, he even indulged during work, at least when the touches would not interfere with the task at hand. Not that he was complaining in the least, but it was interesting to think that Frænsəs finally figured out it was okay to be affectionate when they were not in the sleep pod.

“You aren't sliding back into your cycle, are you?” Charles teased as he began the task of arguing with the food unit for dinner selections.

Frænsəs stood behind Charles, wrapping his arms around him and caressing his midsection, “Just appreciating your willingness to stay with me after my cycle ebbed.”

Menu accepted, Charles chuckled, “Oh, very willing, and at least able to lend a hand with your work while I’m resting up for the next round,” leaning back into his companion and resting his hands on Frænsəs’s.

“You need seven years of rest?” Frænsəs asked as they waited for the items to slide to the serving shelf.

“Not quite that much, but the wait is worth it for six solid months of mind-melting sex.”

Frænsəs chuckled into Charles’s shoulder, “I had hoped to find someone like you.”

“Someone willing to join your space nudist colony?”

“Someone willing to stay,” Frænsəs murmured into his ear.

Charles felt the butterflies start up in his stomach, and he quietly asked the question he had avoided for months, “How long may I stay, Francis?”

“Until you wish to go,” came the quiet answer, with a slight tightening of Frænsəs's arms around him.

“What about when you have to go back to your central office?”

“I had hoped… that you would like to travel with me.”

“Francis, what are you asking, really?”

“Not quite asking, but I am afraid I am not subtle enough to plant a seed of an idea without stumbling all over it.” Frænsəs nuzzled Charles’s shoulder, and murmured, “I wanted to let you know I have been thinking about the two of us staying together, long term, without pressuring you to answer such an important question immediately.”

“No, I get the idea,” Charles turned to face him. “So I’m thinking. I've been thinking a while,” then he grinned, kissed Frænsəs just below his ear, “starting when I could manage rational thought after your cycle. I do like this idea of yours. What kind of gauntlet do I have to fight my way through to prove my worth, by the way?”

“Nothing so barbaric as physical combat,” Frænsəs murmured, “though the application for the visa and identification dossier have been said to be daunting.”

“Trial by paperwork, how civilized,” Charles chuckled. “Even so, I’m still thinking it might not be a bad thing, to stay with you long term.” He hummed as he nibbled the edge of Frænsəs's ear.

“Not a bad thing?”

“In fact, it sounds like a great idea, how soon can we start?”