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When they first awakened, it was not the case, but now there are places like this in nearly every town they visit. The odds are better in a city, more choice, more chances to judge the risk of discovery against the indulgence that Bem knows this is.

Sometimes he only allows himself to listen. The sounds are distinctive, and carry through walls and doors and into the night. At least they do when you're not human, and are listening for them: the grunts, the slurps, and moans. Sometimes he only allows himself to listen, finds somewhere high and safe, and shuts his eyes as he tips back his head to concentrate on the sounds. Other times listening is not enough.

They have only been in this town for a few days, but their hopes have not been so high in so long, nor been crushed so surely. A detective with a beautiful human family is trailing Bem's movements-- Bem knows where this leads, when humans become curious about them. He hopes they have time to find out more about the other stick. They won't be able to stay here much longer.

Experience and his ears tells Bem to pull off when the man in his mouth sounds at a certain pitch. What comes next drips slowly down Bem's face. He catches the fluids with the hand he did not need to use, watches another penis become limp and withdraw. Bem smears the stickiness evenly across his cheeks, over the bridge of his nose, up over his forehead-- and pulls away when his finger accidentally touches a horn.

Bem kneels on the floor of the toilet stall, the door locked, and the smooth-worn hole in the wall two inches in front of his lips. His hat is perched on his cane, which is propped in the corner, out of sight. To be here is risk enough. The only part of Bem the men should see through the hole is his lips. But, town after town, the truth seems to be that the men do not care who Bem is, or what he is, and especially not afterwards.

Sometimes the men speak to him, through the wall. They... obviously don't expect a response. Sometimes they call him by the names of human men or women. When that happens, Bem works harder with his cheeks and lips. He lets the men push deeper, if that's something they want. He wonders why these men are not doing this with the one they are thinking of.

Once, many towns ago, a man called Bem "filthy slut", repeatedly, for the whole five minutes it took for him to finish, but he pushed a rolled up bill through the hole after he removed his penis. It was enough to buy Bem, Bela and Belo breakfast from a combini that Bem passed on his way home, dawn breaking behind his back as the microwaved rice steamed up the carrier bag. Humans sometimes surprise him with their kindness.

Someone bangs on the stall wall; another penis pushes through. Bem turns, and opens his mouth.

One day, Bem thinks he will be able to do this without a wall in the way, without a wall being the only way anyone would do this with him. When he is human, he won't have horns or scales to horrify someone. Someone will touch his smooth-skinned shoulder, tangle their fingers in his hair, and when they finish, it won't be Bem's own hand that covers him with the stickiness of humanity.

After the man finishes, Bem waits, kneeling, until the residue on his face begins to flake off. There are no more men. It's started raining outside, a downpour, from the sound of it. Bem should go home.