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Journal Entry 00696 175 000 Teacher Mentor Lover and Friend


Teacher, Mentor, Lover and Friend

Journal Entry 175 / 00696

Aldea, Urim 04, 00696

I miss details sometimes. In fact, I tend to miss big things. Lying as
I was on the beach, a towel separating me from the sand and another to
protect my head from the rock I used to prop myself up, a book in by
hands, I'm willing to believe that if Shardik Castle suddenly vanished,
I might not notice until I tried to get home and take a shower.

Even noise gets filtered out of my attention. About the only thing I
notice to any great degree is physical intervention. In other words,
waving and shouting won't do. Someone who wants my attention is best
served by kicking me.

It's hard to ignore having a rope dropped on one's feet, however. Seeing
as I had retreated under the outcropping of rock along the northelom
side of the bowl to shade my eyes from the blazing sun always overhead,
I was lying half-in and half-out of the sun. A pair of nylon ropes,
one bright blue and the other a similar bright red, suddenly dropped
on my feet. I peeked out from under my protective shelter just in time
to watch two bodies descending at me at high velocity. "Ack!" I ducked
back under the rock.

Making a soft whizzing sound as they descended, the two rappellers landed
on the sand and detached from their ropes. I recognized one of them.

"Ken! Sorry, didn't mean to land on you like that. But it's one of the
more vertical places along the bowl."

"Aaden?" the other male said. "I'm really hot."

"Then go dive in the water and cool off, Khai. If you feel a cramp
coming on, get out and shout to me if you feel like you're going to be
in trouble."


"Dave?" Aaden asked the empty air. "Buddy him."

"I will," Dave's voice returned from equally empty air.

I watched the young mel Aaden had identified as 'Khai' strip off his
shirt, shorts and boots with enthusiasm and head towards the water,
diving in with a shout.

He was a very beautiful young mel, I noted with some personal discomfort.
I would have guessed his age around thirteen or fourteen, with sleek black
fur shot through with the occasional albino white strand. His body was
well-shaped, exercised, and youthful; his eyes were bright and strong, his
smile wide and expressive. Something about the way he and Aaden had stood
together, if only briefly, bothered me and I had to ask Aaden about it.
"Aaden?" I asked quietly, giving this male who I had so long ago given
my love to a long, careful look.

"Hmmm?" He turned to look at me.

"How old is he?"

"Who, Khai? He's a little over thirteen, why?"

I sighed, considering what I wanted to ask him next. I finally settled
on a relatively simple version. "Are you sleeping with him?"

"Yes." No pause, no consideration. Just the truth. One of the reasons
I adored Aaden so much, that honesty threw me for whirl right now.

"And he's only thirteen?" I raised my voice a little.

"You make it sound like rape, Ken."

"Isn't it?" I shouted, my voice rising.

"Hardly," he said. "Khai is one of Maha's kids, Ken. He's literally
Ember's half-brother. You made love to her when she was how old?"

"Sixteen," I said. "There's a lot of difference between thirteen and
sixteen, Aaden."

"That there is. There's also a lot of difference between boys and girls,

"But thirteen, Aaden?" I was stunned. I had trouble imagining Aaden,
this beautiful Mephit in front of me, this mel who had raised two
children with me, who I thought I understood and loved completely,
as a... a... "That's paedophilia, Aaden."

"Correction, Ken. It's paederasty."

Aaden shifted closer to me, scattering some sand on my towel. He leaned
even closer still and said, "Listen, what would you do if I told you
that I've even slept with twelve-year-olds, Ken, and that in every case,
they came to me."

"What!" I said. "Aaden, that's sick. A twelve-year-old can't give his
consent." This was not the Aaden I was used to hearing. I couldn't
believe it.

He tried to interrupt me, opening his mouth to speak. I reacted
reflexively, raising my voice to a near shout. "I don't want to hear
your excuses. I am not going to listen."

"Okay, then listen to this," he said, his voice taking on a deadly
seriousness. "Khai, and the ones before him, and the ones who come after
him, are in their own way as important to me as P'nyssa is to you. Until
now you've never seen me like this. We agreed two centuries ago that
I was never going to come between you and P'nyssa, and that if I even
thought about it, our relationship was off. Well, this is one of those
things. If you can't handle it, if you aren't willing to listen to me,
maybe I should go. It's that important to me."

I looked at him, angrily. I looked at the boy swimming in the lagoon. Then
back to him. "Maybe you should go, then."

"Fine. I'll have my stuff out in four hours." He rose and dove into the
water, swimming the long way for the SDisk.


My home had a lonely and bare look to it when I finally worked up the
courage to return to it. "Ken!" P'nyssa's voice came from the workroom
where all our desks were stored.


"Where's Aaden's desk? Where are his clothes?"

"He's gone, P'nyssa."

"WHAT?" she said.

"He's gone, Nyss. We had an argument that pretty much came down to
his leaving."

"And that's it. He just... goes. Just like that. You kick him out of your
life, out of my life, over an argument, and you don't even tell me? Just
what did you two fight about?" Her voice was edging up high in pitch.

"He has a new lover." P'nyssa looked at me curiously. "His name is Khai.
He's thirteen years old."

P'nyssa raised one eyebrow over that, but didn't comment. "Did you ask
Aaden why he's seeing a thirteen-year-old?"

"No, I didn't ask him. I even told him I didn't want to hear the
discussion. It came down to his... paederasty or me. He chose to leave. He
has his priorities. Abusing little kids comes before me, I guess."

"You didn't even let him talk?"

"What is there to talk about, Nyss? He's fucking a thirteen year old! What
more is there to go over?"

"There's got to be plenty more to go over!" she replied, angrily. "He
must have a reason!"

"I don't care what his 'reason' is, Nyss. He shouldn't even be thinking
about kids that age, much less fucking one!"

"Fine. If you're not going to think about it and not going to talk about
it with the mel you love, you can forget having the fem you supposedly
love around as well." She turned to leave.

"What?" I shouted.

"I thought..." she started. "I thought, mind you... that the mel I loved
used his brain. I guess I was wrong. I care about Aaden, Ken, apparently
a lot more than you do. And until you at least resolve your differences
with a little intelligence, I don't want to sleep in the same room,
the same castle, with you. When you're ready to talk, Dave will know
where I am." She stormed out.


Home can be a very cold place when bereft of the people who make it so
very important to you. It ceases even being a home, really, becoming
a mere house, repositories for possessions, the body being one of those
possessions. Two days had gone by since P'nyssa and Aaden had left; M'Ress
was treating me coldly, and Paul and Carroll haven't been around. I'd been
drinking somewhat steadily, but at the moment I was reasonably sober,
staring at myself in the mirror and wondering about my last encounter
with a shower.

"Ken?" Dave broke my reverie.

"Yes, Dave?"

"Aaden and Khai have called off their friendship."

"That's nice," I grumbled, tottering back into bed and collapsing. "I
don't want him back until he gives up fucking children."

"Ken, you at times have accused me of excessive heavy-handedness in the
way I make my suggestions."

"Sort of, Dave," I said, rubbing my temples and feeling hung over. "I
said that when you agree with me you keep silent, but when you disagree
with me you say you agree with me in a very... conniving way."

"Four people I care very much about suffer right now because of your
decision," Dave said slowly. "You, Nyss, Aaden and Khai spend the day in
their own private Hells because of you. Aaden and Khai broke up because
Khai realized your argument with Aaden involved him, and he didn't want
responsibility for the destruction of what some people consider the most
important love affair on the Ring."

"Go on."

"I want to resign."


"I want to resign. I do not... feel... comfortable as the AI of Shardik
castle any longer. I cannot in good faith serve you any longer."

It was only the next bit of data to come down the pike and trash my life.
"Dave? Why?"

"Because you refuse to listen to Aaden, Ken. Even if you believe his
behavior unreasonable, you have always in the past listened to the other
half of the argument before making up your mind. This time you refuse
to even listen. To use a phrase that has seen too much use in the past
three days, you are not the man I thought I worked for."

Home can be very cold indeed.



"Yes, Kennet?" I groaned softly, hating the sound of that voice. Hal
had for ages been among my best friends, but he was neither comforting
nor reassuring. He wasn't Dave. Dave's brain was still right next door;
I could, if I wanted to, take an axe to his insides. But he had decided
to move all of his sensory input to Reedhon until further notice. For
all intents and purposes, he lived there now.

I swallowed hard and decided that, whether I hated the idea or not,
I had to talk to Aaden. "Hal, please connect me to Aaden Satpulov."

"Hello?" the voice on the other end of the line made me ache with memory
and need.

"Aaden?" I said, softly.

"Ken?" he replied, surprised. "Is that you?"

"Yeah, it's me. Look, could we, uhm, you know... talk?"

Aaden didn't say anything for almost a minute. "Ken..."

"No, not over the phone. On the beach. By the boulder to the north. Could
you meet me there?" I couldn't believe how tight my chest felt. Tears
formed in my eyes hearing his voice. I needed him. I needed to touch
him and hold him and remind myself that he belonged to me, once.

"I can meet you there," he said.

"One hour," I said softly, breaking the connection manually before I
broke down and cried, dropping tears one-by-one onto the keyboard. When
I felt done with crying, I didn't feel any better.


He walked up the beach slowly, looking left and right, scanning for me. I
waved at him, a small, cheerless wave, just enough to show him where I
was. He sauntered over to the rock I sat on, standing just in front of me.
"Hi," he said softly.

"So," I said, looking up at him, holding myself back from any thought
of holding him, touching him. "How long have you been a paederast?"

He smiled gently. "Let's see. I met Rudin in 212, and he was my first. I
definitely wasn't looking for him, or anyone, back then. I was studying
botany back then, working especially on soil- related illnesses, and I
decided, on the advice of my mentor, that I look for some assignments
to put my knowledge to good use."

"212. So you were 97 then?"

"Right. I checked through the news listings to see if anyone had a request
for someone of my particular skills; I was surprised to find there were
more requests for what I knew then I could possibly ever answer. I decided
to take a particularly hard assignment, one dealing more with methods of
soil replenishment delivery then any real chemistry." He grinned quietly.
"For some reason, my classmates found that difficult. Since I was used
to making my own toys and such, I saw the answer as basic innovation.

"Rudin was fourteen when I met him, and he was looking for one thing and
one thing only. Sex. It was first and foremost on his mind; he would hang
around me while I was directing robots and setting up pumps and hoses
and storehouses for this farm, asking questions about what I was doing,
but inevitably his conversation would come around to sex."

He gave me a glance, a memory of his smile playing over his muzzle. "Ever
talk to a fourteen year old about sex?"

"Sure," I said. "My own kids."

"Your kids are different, Ken. You're very interested in sex and love and
the like; you call this Ring an expression of that love. Rudin's parents assumed he'd pick it up somewhere and that he wouldn't get himself into
trouble. Well, he was definitely on his way to getting into trouble. He
even asked me, once, if I had had sex with someone younger than sixteen. I
told him no, of course; at that point, I hadn't."

"You took that as a hint," I said, somewhat accusative.

"And asked for another hint," he replied calmly. "I asked him if he was
interested in having sex with me."

He was silent. I waited. "And?"

"And he became tongue-tied." Aaden grinned. "I've seen you there. Couldn't
say yes, couldn't say no. Couldn't quite figure out what to say. I wanted
to get rid of him. So I said, 'Look, you're going to answer one way or
the other when you make your decision. So tell me what your decision is
going to be.'

"He said 'Yeah. I want to have sex.'"

"With you," I said, smiling.

"Yes," Aaden nodded. "With me. He led me to the barn and we were rather...
mundane." He smiled. "He was pretty, in a boyish sort of way. All we did
was try a little oral sex. Not much. After I solved his parent's problem,
he asked me if it was okay for me to hang around with him. He liked what
I gave him, and I didn't mind giving it."

"What happened to him?"

"What happens to them all," Aaden said with a shrug. "They outgrow it."

"Wait a minute," I said. "Just like that, they outgrow it? That's all
you have to say for what is... is..."

"Paederasty," Aaden said. "Not a very accurate word, I'm afraid, since
it more accurately depicts a state of catamisis rather than what I count
myself as."

"Catamisis?" I asked.

"Keeping a boy strictly for sodomy, because they're 'tighter' than girls."

"Oh," I said, shivering. "Aaden," I said, looking up at him, "Tell me
what you are. I've never said that before, because I've never felt you
had to put it into words. Now I do. What are you?"

"We can keep using the word 'paederast,' if you like," he said, sitting
down in the sand and gesturing for me to take a seat opposite him. I slid
down off the rock and took up a patch of beach. "It's not that inaccurate,
either, if you keep what I tell you foremost in your mind."

He paused, looking up at the sky as if looking for a message. "Before I
tell you 'what I am,' let me tell you that I think you know the answer
already. Because if you honestly thought I was abusing Khai without
consent or wisdom, you would have killed me. That's how your mind works,
Ken-- You know it and I know it. We based our relationship, which we call
'love,' on rules. That's how we work, you and I. Break those rules,
and the love is as if it never existed. You might mourn my stupidity
afterwards, but not as you pulled the trigger." He smiled gently, and I
thought I saw his arm move slightly, as if to reach out and touch me. But
he didn't. "I trust you enough to sleep next to you, naked and vulnerable,
while knowing how much you believe in your social duty to excise evil.
Just like you trust me, and everyone else you sleep with, to do the same."

He paused. "I still love you," he said.

A shiver ran through me, a painful tightening in my chest. "Tell me
the rest."

"By your command," he said, jokingly. "I met Khai a few weeks ago, just
before his thirteenth birthday. He's studying to be a transatmospheric
pilot, and as you know I've been teaching that subject recently over at
Tangent. His focus recently has been spherical insertions, and seeing
as I do that a lot, he asked me to teach him."

A seagull flew overhead, its screech breaking the cadence of his
voice momentarily. He smiled. "You know how we're so used to talking,
negotiating, being 'up front' about our sexuality. But there's a reason
why we're sexual, Ken, and that's because we're attracted. And we sense
that attraction is sometimes mutual. So we talk about it.

"Khai was in the pilot's chair, and I was in the copilot's chair, and
we were handling a sixteen-ton freighter in the simulator. And we had
a... a rapport. You know that feeling, as well. You felt it with me,
and I with you. I had it with Khai. A different reason for the rapport,
but I had one there.

"We sat afterwards having glasses of kfi together in the cafeteria, and
at one point he became very wrapped up in what he wanted to do once he
got into space, became proficient. The list of where he wanted to go
seemed to go on forever. I finally reached out and touched his hand,
covered it with mine.

"The feeling was incredible, Ken. I'm not telepathic, no more than you
are. But even more, Khai felt the touch the same way I did."

"How do you know?" I asked, curiously.

"Because the next thing he said was, 'Aaden, sir, there are a lot of
other things I'd like to be taught, but I'd like to talk about them
somewhere more private.'"

A twinkle appeared in Aaden's eye. "Shut your mouth, Ken. You don't want
sandflies making their nests in your tongue. I certainly don't."

I shook my head and chuckled. "You don't want sandflies making nests in
your tongue, or my tongue?"

"Your tongue. I'm not the one sitting with my mouth wide open. And I
like your tongue the way it is."

"Are they all like that? Do they all make the first move?"

"Not all," Aaden said. "Listen, this is what I think I am." He held up
a finger. "The first thing I am is acceptance. I imagine there are some
girls who go through this, just as I know as far as I'm concerned that
there are boys who don't. But boys need to know, as puberty hits and
they suddenly realize they're turning into adults, that other adults
accept them. I tell them 'I accept you.' That there's enough to them,
as individuals, for me to respect and accept."

"What about their parents?"

"Parents aren't enough, Ken. parents love their children almost
unconditionally. That's not acceptance, that's blind familial love. boys don't accept that as enough."

I smiled. "Girls don't either."

He grinned back. "Not yours, at any rate. We raised one scrappy pair,

"Yep," I said, remembering. "So you represent... what?"

"Everybody else. All adults. I'm someone new, part of that vast 'them'
that's been outside their experience until now, who accepts then
conditionally. 'Are you enough to be an adult?' I ask. And I show them
that they can meet those conditions, and what adults will expect of them
as adults.

"Two," he said, holding up his next finger, "I'm a mentor. Khai wants
to be a pilot. I can't show him everything, but I can tutor him, fly
buddy with him when he needs a co-pilot, and when he screws up I can be
there to scream at him, then hug him, then tell him to do try it again
and get it right."

"I can understand that," I said. "I've done that."

"Then we get to the part you have trouble with."


"Right," he said. "Ken, when you were thirteen... were you ever thirteen?"

"A long time ago. Yes, Aaden, I was thirteen years old once. I came up
the old fashioned way. I remember it vaguely."

"Just checking," Aaden said. "When you were thirteen, were you interested
in sex?"

"Gods, Aaden!" I replied, laughing softly. "Was I interested in sex? Of
course I was! I wanted 'it,' and I didn't even know what 'it' was!"

"The same is true of Khai. The same thing is true of all of them. The
hormones hit at this age too, Ken, as puberty sets in. That's all I
really am, is the person who wants to guide them through adolescence."

"But do you have to have sex with them?" I asked, wincing slightly just
to think about it. In the back of my mind I remembered my own, recent
attraction to Priss, and remembering how hard it had been for me to deal
with that.

"I don't 'have' to do anything, Ken," he said, correcting me. "I'm not
going to lie to you. I never have, and I never will. I love sleeping with
Khai; I love the feeling of trust, of love, that I get from touching
him, holding him close, and yes... fucking him." He watched me shudder
as I turned my head away. "And when we have sex, he fucks me as well,
Ken. Fair is fair."

"Why, Aaden? Why?"

"Because it's what he wants." He finally did reach out, placing his hand
on my knee. I looked up suddenly, right into those soft brown eyes.
"Listen, he could get these three things... Acceptance, teaching, and
sex... from three different people. But he doesn't. He gets them from me."

"But you're so..."

"What?" he asked sharply. "What? Old?" He laughed. "Rough?" He laughed
again. "On the 'rough' part, you know better than that."

He took a deep breath again and said, "As for 'old,' well... It's
something of a mistake to assume that children are the best teachers
about sex, but we make that assumption anyway.. It's a question you've
often asked in the past, Ken, when confronted with this question. Why
is sex such a 'Big Thing?'" He grinned. "Alexi and Elizabeth went out
into the world with a lot of book learning about sex, thanks to having
a botanist, a geneticist and a physician as parents. But who did they
learn about sex from? Rings Ken, Alexi learned about entalie' from you and
me. Sixteen years old when you and I first made love with him. And what
about Liz? We don't even know. We trusted her to make that decision. Or
did you forget that we gave her TNPIF when she was twelve years old?"

I grinned wryly. "I didn't forget."

"I didn't think so," he said. "We have had literally hundreds of kids
in this house in the past two hundred years. Have you or I ever acted
inappropriately? They're all over you at every age, Ken, but it's not
until they're sixteen, or almost sixteen, when you start pick up on
the signals. It's like your brain is wired not to believe, no matter
how much you talk, that kids can be sexual." He collected his thoughts
for a moment, then turned to look straight at me. "I read your version
of our night with Alexi. That bit about 'burned blood' was pretty good,
but you're wrong if you think you've gotten completely free of Terra. The
idea that an adult mentor should teach a boy how to be a professional
person, to be a social person, to be a romantic person... that an adult
should forge such a close and intense relationship with someone as
they help that someone into adulthood... and to not teach, by action
and example as well as lecture, how to make love... is a specific of
your twentieth-century NorAmerica Earth. It's not true of other places,
other times, and other worlds. You know it and I know it.

"As you said, I'm not going to lie to you. I like flying with Khai. I
like dancing with him. And I like fucking him. And let me ask you which
you'd rather have Ken... me, or someone else? Who do you trust?"

I ignored his question. "Where are his parents? Do they know?"

"He has chosen to tell them. They know."

"They do?"

"Yes. Why don't you ask them about it?"

"I believe you," I said. "Damn you and your honesty."

He smiled. "Would you have me any other way?" We were silent, staring
at each other. "Ken, please... tell me what you're thinking."

"What happens to them?" I asked, ignoring his question.

"Like I said, they grow out of it. They start to appreciate that they need
someone in their own peer group to play with, to know and love. That I
was there to teach them how to be in the world, but I'm rarely really a
part of their world. I'm part of yours, Ken. They know that. I'm part of
a different world they really aren't interested in being a part of. Our
interests just sort of overlapped for two or three or four years.

"I still love them; I always will. But they..." He paused. "They take
wing and leave the nest. They move out of their parent's house and they
cease to need me anymore. The interests they want to pursue on their own,
as adults now, take up more and more time. They call less often." He
reached up and wiped a tear from his eye. "I'm getting emotional."

"I like seeing you like that," I said softly.

"Well it's true," he said. "I am. They sort of... fade away. Calling
again sometime later to tell me how they're doing, are they okay, are
they not. They're all great mels, Ken, every last one of them. Happy,
achieving. I can't take credit for much of that, Ken, but if I can say
I helped them through the most confusing part of their life, I can feel
good about myself."

I looked up at Aaden. "Do you know M'Ress's take on our sadomasochism?" I

"Who doesn't?" he grumbled. "She doesn't like it, she doesn't understand
it, but she's going to tolerate it... at a distance."

"Because she trusts and loves... us."

He nodded.

"I can't do that." He looked up again. "I can't feel comfortable with
something unless I can see it, feel it, and touch it. This is obviously
such an important part of you, Aaden, I can't... I can't feel whole
unless I understand it."

He looked up. "You want... what?"

"I want you to move back in. I want my home back, I want my lovers to
accept me again. And I want you to bring Khai around more often. This
isn't a 'yes,' Aaden. But I've done what everyone has asked of me. I've
talked to you. And... you made sense. You made a lot of sense, more than
I thought possible."

He grinned. "What do I need for a 'yes?'"

"Prove it to me. Bring Khai around. Why did you bring him around that
first day, anyway?"

"I wanted to show him where I lived. And I wanted you to meet him. I
wanted you to see this important part of my life."

I smiled. "I guess I flew off the handle."

"You had the right," he said. "I love you, but ultimately Ken you make
your own decisions. You know that."

"I know."

"I love you," he said, trying to get a response out of me.

This time, he succeeded. I smiled and crawled over to him, crawling
over him, slowly pushing him down to the sand. "You had better be right
about this, Aaden," I said, kissing his muzzle, licking the fur of his
cheekruff. "I'm reluctant to give you up."

"I'm reluctant to give you up, too, Ken," he said, wrapping his arms
around me and holding me close. I sighed and threw one leg over him,
holding him close.


"You think I was wrong," I said softly.

"You could say that," P'nyssa replied as we lay in bed together. "I wish
you had called me and told me. I wish Aaden had told me. No, it was just
come home and find him and all his belongings gone. My house was empty
without him, Ken."

"I know," I replied, running my hand over her breasts, her belly, the
thicket of fur between her legs, then back up again. "But think about
how I felt. I mean, how was I supposed to feel about him? What was I
supposed to think? What had he done to Alexi?"

"What did he do to Alexi? He waited until Alexi asked you... you and him.
Aaden is more responsible than either of us can ever hope to be, Ken. He's
an incredible mel, sweet and romantic and strong. He loves you; don't
ever give that up."

"I won't."


"Promise," I said, snuggling tight up against the fem I loved so very


"Ken!" Aaden's voice flashed through the house, startling me from my

"In the office, Aaden!"

"Office, hmph," he said quietly. "Offices aren't full of seedling jars.
This place is a disaster area. One of these days I'm going to have to
organize this into a real seedling table. Aren't you tired of the smell?"

I waved around idly. "It changes from day to day. You know how smell is
the most intense of all senses, so very wired into the brain as it is? I
think it helps me think. As long as I don't let it bother me, I'm fine."

"Anyway," he said, looking around. "Ken, this is Khai. Khai, I'd like
you to meet my coimelin, Ken."

I stood up, facing the boy Aaden had brought in. "Ken Shardik, you mean,"
he said, timidly.

"Well, yeah, that too," I said, smiling. I held out my hand and he took
it, shaking it. In more than one way; he was shaking all over. I released
his hand and clapped him on his arm. "Hey, a week ago you walked right
by me without even so much as a 'Hello.' What happened to that kind
of confidence?"

"Call it stupidity," he said, his voice trembling. "I wasn't paying

"So you're Khai," I said, stating the obvious as I sat down slowly. "He's
right," I said, hooking a thumb in Aaden's direction. "You are a very
handsome young mel."

"Thanks," Khai replied nervously.

"Maybe we should leave you to your work, Ken?"

"No, Aaden, that's okay. I got a good chunk of code down this morning,
and my brain's just overflowing. Have you guys had lunch yet?"

"No, but now that you mention it, it sounds like a wonderful idea,"
Aaden said, rubbing his stomach. "I'm starving. What about you, Khai?"

"I like the idea," he said, smiling. "Uhm... Ken?"

"Yes, Khai?"

"What are you listening to?"

"What, that?" I said, turning off the music manually. "Iron Maiden,
Terran Classical music."

"Sounds... noisy."

I smiled. "It is. And it's not up to my lovers' tastes, so I only
indulge when nobody else is home." I got up and patted Aaden's cheek,
then kissed him.

"It's noise," Aaden said.

"It's my noise," I said. "Come on, I'll make sandwiches. How does
fish sound?"

"Fine with me," Khai said as I made my way through the house to the
kitchen. They followed through and, after a whispered word from Aaden,
Khai continued through the living room and out onto the porch.

"So, what do you think?"

"He's very beautiful. He's quick. He's charming. And he's very young."

"Am I wrong for enjoying that youth, Ken? It only lasts a short time for
every person. What I do won't make it that time any shorter, and he'll
be a better melFel for it when he's older."

"You hope," I amended.

He nodded. "I hope. There are a lot of different ways to grow up. Some are
distinctively wrong ways to go about it, but for all those that aren't,
is it really up to anyone outside Khai's reach to tell him which way he
should go?"

I turned around and wrapped my arms around him, holding him close. "No,
Aaden, we shouldn't." I looked up at those eyes again. "Okay, you've
convinced me. You're not doing him any harm, you might be doing him good,
and Goddess only knows you and he both seem to be having fun."

He laughed. "We spent four hours this morning in the simulator. He took
an easy landing at Hawaii and turned it into a disaster."

"Hawaii?" I asked. "Where's Hawaii?"

"It's an island on Terra, Ken. Part of the NorAmerica administration,
but it's a Pacific Island."

"Oh, yeah. Sorry, I forgot. My brain has locked up."

"Your brain's really locked up when you can't remember a place on your
planet of birth, Ken."

I grinned and released him, going back to the sandwiches.


I looked up, curious to see Khai wandering around the house without Aaden.
"Khai?" I asked. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm okay, thanks," he said, looking a bit startled. "I came to
ask you for a favor."

"A... favor?" I said, feeling puzzled. "What kind of favor?"

"You and Aaden are Alanailen," he started. "Now, he told me about how you
and he argued about his teaching me a year ago, and I know how you feel
about that." He paused. "Well, I just turned fourteen, Ken, and I want to
do something neat for Aaden, but I want to give him something he likes.
It's not really something I find myself thinking I'd like to try, but
I'd like to try for him."

I looked at him for a moment, not sure what to make of that. "Okay,"
I said. "What are we talking about, Khai? What kind of s/m are you

"I just want to tie him up. I know he always thinks of himself as my
teacher, my mentor-- the grown-up. But I want to just have him to myself,
to be able to, well, to just play with him." He seemed embarrassed by
the request.

I laughed softly. "You rehearsed this speech, didn't you?"

He nodded. "Yes, sir, I did."

"Okay. So let's negotiate. Sit down. Do you know what you're asking for?"

He opened his mouth as if to say something, then paused. "I'm not
really sure."

"Okay, what you're asking for is to have me show you how to do an
non-consensual, no-safeword scene. That's not to say it can't happen.
That's to say I want to change the parameters a little."

"I don't understand."

"Okay. Aaden's safeword is just that, 'safeword.' Now, I'm trusting you,
young mel, to respect that word as completely and utterly as you do
your own life. Because that's what you're messing with here. If you
hear that word, I don't care where you are, you are going to stop,
and you are going to listen to the person who said it. Copy?"

He nodded. "Now, of the two people in this room, only one of us is really
permitted to mess up Aaden in any impromptu way, and that person is on
this side of this desk."

"Ken?" Khai said. "I'd like you to be there."

That didn't surprise me. "You would?"

"Yes, sir, I would," Khai stammered slowly. "I don't trust myself enough
with... with anything, really. You should attend to make sure there's
nothing wrong. I don't... I don't want him to feel frightened, sir, just
tied up. You could make him feel that way. If he knew you were there."

I chuckled softly as a plan formed in my mind. A plan so dark and evil
that only I could have come up with it. Then I appreciate again what he
was saying. "Khai, you've just turned fourteen. You know that what you're
asking is going to completely redefine your relationship with Aaden."

"It is?"

"Think it out , young mel. You're supposed to be his charge, not the other
way around. You want him to be your mentor, right?" He nodded. "Why?"

"Because... well, because we get along really well. Because he knows
his piloting, and because he cares about me."

"He works you over pretty hard in the simulator. I saw that one session
you and he were doing."

"But he teaches, Ken. I see how much better I'm getting with every day in
the simulator." He grinned. "When I first met Aaden, I couldn't believe
how incredibly lucky I was. Because I had the attention of Vatare's
coimelin. And then... And then I thought about how lucky he was to have
you. And once I knew him, I thought about how lucky you were to have him.
He's really special."

"Yes, he is," I sighed, smiling across the desk at the boy who seemed
to have calmed down appreciably. "Now then, are you sure you want to
do this? Are you sure you want to have him see that you can, well,
top him? Do you know what that means?"

He nodded. "It'll make being in bed with him more fair," he said. He
pouted slightly. "Our sex isn't as much as I want."

"Why not?" I asked.

"We don't fuck very much." He sat back in the chair and fidgeted.

"Any ideas why?"

"I have a few. One is that he's afraid of hurting me. He is so big,
you know."

I smiled. "Yeah, I do know."

"I think he doesn't want me to fuck him because he's supposed to be the
teacher, the grown-up..."

"The top," I injected.

"Yeah. Oral sex is at least equal; the person doing it has to pay as
much attention as the person being done."

I laughed. "True. Okay, Khai. I'll teach you. Now, here's my plan..."


"Heya, love," I said as Aaden walked into the house. "You look like
you've had a good day."

"Indeed," Aaden chuckled as he wandered in. "I've spent the last four
hour harvesting these things. Here, try one." He reached into the canvass
bag he carried with him and tossed me a small green fruit, shaped vaguely
like a pear. I sniffed at it suspiciously. "What's that smell?"

"Kinda like cherries?" he asked. I nodded. "It's a citric cherry as far
as I can tell. I'm trying to up the nutritional content of tangerines,
but I keep getting that funny smell as part of it."

"Oh, well."

"Well, try it," Aaden said. "They peel pretty easily. Go ahead, chew
the whole thing; they're seedless too."

"Seedless plants require more maintenance. I take it your customer has
a reason for this?"

"No, this is just for my own curiosity," Aaden said. "There's really
nobody I'm willing to work for right now."

I peeled the fruit, looking inside. It was a reddish-orange fruit, the
color of watermelon, but a very powerful sugar smell besides. I tore it
in half and popped half into my mouth. "Not bad," I commented after a
few minutes. "Seems dry, though."

"Yeah," Aaden said. "Working on that. Too much like kiwi in that fashion?"

I nodded. He knows I'm less than fond of kiwi.

"Thought so. Okay." He walked over to wear I sat on the couch, towering
over me. "Are you going to stand and give me a hug, or am I just going
to wait here all day?"

"Okay, okay," I laughed, standing. "I'll hug ya, I'll hug ya." I stood
and gave him an intensely tight hug, holding him close. Slowly my hand
moved up the back of his neck, and quite suddenly I gripped him there,
pulling tight a fold of his skin. "Are you listening to me, Aaden?"

He gasped softly. "Yes... yes sir."

"Good," I chuckled. "Come on, we've got someplace to visit."


"Hush." I led him out the door and down to the SDisk; thanks to Dave we
managed to have the entire path cleared of impressionable young children,
although Ember saw us go by and flashed me a smile. We hit the SDisk
walking, and suddenly we found ourselves tumbling freely without gravity.
"Grab something," I directed. He did as he was told.


"I'm here," the young melFel said, slowly bringing the lights up and
rising to hover besides me. We hovered dead-center of a five-meter
observation sphere. The lights obscured the stars outside, but when
we finally lowered them the starlight would pour in; these things were
perfectly clear. They were intended to give the illusion that nothing was
between the occupant and the vacuum of stars, and the index of refraction
on the poly/metal combination was somewhere between that of vacuum and
that of breathable air. The only obscurant was a small cylinder, about
a half-meter in diameter, and about as tall, stuck to what was nominally
the 'bottom' of these things, at least while they were being built.

This particular sphere was a kind of my own development. We called it
simply a 'bondage sphere,' because all around the inside were inset
cleats, for affixing ropes, chains, and whatever else you felt was

Aaden's face looked of sheer surprise, which then became horror. "Ken,
we agreed we weren't going to involve..."

I reached up and with a jerk slammed his muzzle shut. "Quiet. That's
two assumptions you've just made. Do you understand me?"

His eyes were still frightened, but under my hand I felt the muscles of
his muzzle move. He was smiling. He nodded slowly, letting my hand follow.

"Good," I said. "Because you're going to follow his..." I thought for a
second. Orders? Instructions? I found the word that implied what I wanted.
"... directions. Understood?"

He nodded. "Okay, Khai. He's yours."

"Arms behind your back, Aaden." Aaden obeyed, and Khai stripped off
Aaden's vest, tossing it my way. Khai floated slowly down to Aaden's
midsection, reaching into Aaden's waistband and unhooking the clip that
held his pants closed. He pulled them off as well and I collected them,
folding them closely and with an elastic cord fixing them to the sphere
just next to the life-support unit.

I watched with a smile as Khai grabbed on of the two packets of rope we
had been practicing all day yesterday with, going for Aaden's right foot.
He wound the end around his ankle six times, pulling a four-meter length
free and letting it float. He measured out a length between them, then
began with the rest on Aaden's other ankle, affixing it in much the
same way.

Aaden watched all this carefully. "Bring your arms to the front," Khai
said. Aaden smiled and brought his wrists together in front of him, as
Khai slowly affixed the black centimeter-thick rope around Aaden's wrists.
I'm sure Aaden recognized the rope. It's the stuff I always use.

Khai bounced around the inside of the sphere; a five-meter sphere is
bigger than people think it is; there's plenty of room to bounce around
in. He attached the ropes to cleats, starting with the two attached to
Aaden's feet. Aaden hung loosely down towards the bottom of the sphere.
'Loosely' until Khai jumped up towards the top of the sphere and pulled on
one of the two ends of rope around Aaden's wrists. Aaden didn't fight,
letting Khai pull on the ropes. Slowly, Khai pulled them until they
became taut, then tied the securing knots carefully. Aaden started to
look nervous. I laughed softly.

Khai then took out another long sheaf of rope and went to work,
wrapping Aaden's wrists against, then down to his ankles, and finally
criss-crossing his back to tie to his wrists again.

Khai slowly drifted back to hover before Aaden. "Hi, teacher."

Aaden smiled. "Hello, student."

Khai grinned as I slowly lowered the lights. Our eyes adjusted to
the darkness, slowly. I could see Khai slowly fondling Aaden's shaft,
playing with his harness. Aaden squirmed a little as Khai's hand gripped
the huge furry shaft. "What are we studying today, Khai?"

"How to tease teachers," Khai replied. He slowly pulled himself down,
grabbing hold of the rope between Aaden's legs with his toes as something
to give him a base so he wouldn't drift away. He kissed Aaden's cock
with his muzzle, lifting the heavy shaft to nuzzle Aaden's balls with
his cold nose. Aaden whimpered softly as his boy lover took his sheath
into his mouth, clamping down.

I slowly drifted up and to one side, getting a better view. The sphere
was placed two AU out from Pin and orbited outside the plane of the ring,
so from here I could see all of Pendor illuminated, and the light of
Pin lit up the inside of the sphere wonderfully.

Khai's hands wrapped around Aaden's body as he was slowly pushed away by
Aaden's growing cock. Despite all his maturities, Khai is still a fourteen
year old boy. And despite all of his comforting experiences with Aaden,
there was no way he was yet used to taking Aaden's cock down his throat.
But that doesn't mean he didn't try. Aaden whimpered and gasped softly
as Khai nursed on his cock, sucking the head and sometime running his
mouth along the side of his shaft.

Khai left Aaden's hard cock; it slowly rose up to rest almost touching
Aaden's belly. He eased himself downwards, playing with Aaden's balls,
taking first one and then the other into his mouth. I could see his
tongue clearly licking at Aaden's fur. He turned around as he fit himself
between Aaden's legs and rose up again, raising Aaden's tail with one hand
and slowly, with gentle tosses of his head, fitting his muzzle between
Aaden's asscheeks, digging his tongue up against Aaden's asshole. Aaden
loves that, and it was obvious on his face as he raised his head and
let out a satisfied sigh. The ropes quivered. "Khai..." he whispered.

"Aaden?" Khai answered, backing away just far enough to talk.

"Thank you," he breathed.

Khai beamed, though Aaden couldn't see it, and dove right back between
Aaden's cheeks, licking and kissing like mad. Aaden cooed, his erection
never dropping a centimeter. Khai reached between Aaden's legs and stroked
his balls, sometime reaching to stroke Aaden's beautiful cock. Aaden
shivered softly. "Oh, Khai."

For the first time since meeting him, I had a good look at Khai's own
cock, which had been hard since he had begun this event. I looked at it
closely, and from what I could see Khai was simply normal. Beautifully
so, at any rate.

Khai slid up Aaden's back until his cock was pressing against Aaden's
backside. Aaden whimpered softly again as Khai found his asshole and
slowly pushed against it, slipping into him easily. Khai gripped his
mentor tightly, hands firmly grasping Aaden's shoulders. "Oh, Khai,"
Aaden repeated softly as Khai began to withdraw and reenter, in and out,
fucking him gently.

"Aaden," Khai replied, "I just wanted to have you without you always
being the one in charge." He slid back into Aaden, making love slowly and
methodically. "I just wanted to have you. I dreamt about having you like
this. You're always in control. For once, I want to be in control!" On
the last syllable he shoved hard into Aaden, eliciting a gasp from my
Mephit lover.

He slipped out, letting go and drifting away from Aaden. With a few
gentle kicks off the walls he found his way to Aaden's front. "Besides,
Ken's right. Having you tied up lets me enjoy you the way you are."

"Khai," Aaden chuckled. "You could have just asked."

"He did," I said, laughing along. Aaden shot me a half-frustrated look.
"Aww, lover," I said. "Let him have his fun."

"Yeah," Khai said, floating back to right before Aaden again, hovering in
the zero gravity. "I'm sure I could do nasty things to you if I wanted,"
he said, stroking Aaden's cock with his hand. "But why would I want to,
teacher?" He gripped Aaden's cock with his hand, slowly pumping the
insistent and erect shaft. Aaden moaned as Khai's hand flew over his cock.

Khai looked over in my direction, and I tossed him the tiny bottle we
had brought along. He caught it deftly, flipped open the top, and applied
some of the contents to his right hand. The lubricant made his stroking
of Aaden's cock slicker, and Aaden cooed. "You two are being so mean to
me," Aaden moaned.

"Awww... " I repeated, losing control and giggling. Khai applied more
lubricant to Aaden's cock as he masturbated my lover. Then he slowly let
go and raised himself, wrapping his legs around Aaden and positioning
himself, his ass right above Aaden's shaft. He leaned forward and kissed
Aaden, and Aaden pushed back. The sounds of their tongues meeting was
enough to turn me on even more. I had a painfully hard erection of my
own in my pants.

I debated taking off my own clothes, but decided against it. I could
take care of my "little problem" later.

Khai reached down with one hand to grab Aaden's shaft, and with the other
slowly pulled down. I watched as Aaden's cock made contact with Khai's
buttocks, then slowly slid between them, disappearing into his asshole.
Khai and Aaden moaned simultaneously, Khai's whole body suddenly releasing
one huge tremble as Aaden's cock penetrated into Khai's hole.

"Are you okay, Khai?"

"Aaden," he gasped softly, his eyes closed. "You always ask that. And
you know the answer. I wouldn't do this if I didn't want it. I want
it. I want you."

"I have to know," Aaden said.

"Now you know," Khai said, wriggling back and forth slightly as he impaled
himself further and further on Aaden's penis. Suddenly Khai gasped and
looked up. "That's all I can take."

"Then don't force it," Aaden said. "Just get used to it."

Khai smiled. Grabbing Aaden about his broad ribcage, Khai slowly lifted
himself up, then back down. I had warned him about these lessons in
physics, and he had paid attention. Slowly he stroked himself up and
down on Aaden's cock. The ropes trembled, both with Khai's action and
with the tension in Aaden's body as he wished, forcefully, for orgasm
to come closer, come faster.

"Ken," Khai said. "Join us."

"What?" I said, surprised.

"Join us. Get into Aaden from behind. He'll come faster that way."

I looked surprised, but my own erection was demanding that I accept the
offer. I quickly stripped off my clothing and, locating the bottle of
lube, applied some to my own cock. I grabbed Aaden from behind, using
his tail as a grip. "Ready?"

"Always," he whispered.

I slid into him easily, my hips pressing against his buttocks. His anus
spasmed in time with Khai's slow rising and falling, and I followed the
boy's lead. The two of us set up a rhythm against my well-furred and
well-built lover.

Aaden's body shuddered, his voice whimpering. "I'm so close... rings... so
close..." as the two of us slowly stroked and fucked him. A lack of
gravity makes its own rules; we couldn't really get up any speed. The
ropes stretched at the force Aaden exerted against them, and his body
swung in the center of the sphere at the very limit of slack as young Khai and I made love to him.

"I'm right... OH, YES!" he screamed as he came, Khai never once letting
him get an extra shove or a moment's extra release, but still stroking
him as he screamed and moaned and whimpered with ecstasy. "Oh, Khai... Oh

Khai held onto his lover and teacher tightly. I slipped out of Aaden
quickly. Even thought I hadn't come, I didn't really care. I had done
what I had come to do, and if I needed relief of that sort I could
always take care of that by hand. I rose slowly and looked down over
Aaden's shoulder. Khai gripped him tightly, Aaden's cock still buried
deep within his ass. I could see tears on his face.

We remained like that for a long time; I don't know how long, it just
felt like forever. The three of us just held on, Khai and I using our
lover between us as a base. Finally Aaden cleared his throat. "Uhm... I'm
cramping up."

"Khai," I said. "Cut him free."

"Yes, sir," Khai replied, descending to where the equipment bag was and
grabbing the scissors. Aaden was free in less than a minute.

The moment all four limbs were free, he gathered both of us into his
arms, hugging us close. "Thank you, both of you. And you, Ken," he said,
"You taught him all that!"

"He asked, Aaden. He wanted to do something special for you. Something
that would let him live out his dreams of having his very sexy, very
well-built teacher completely his to explore."

"You were wonderful, teacher," Khai replied.

"Besides, he had your safeword and he got the lectures on safety. He
actually checked your hands feet, did you notice that?"

"No, I didn't," Aaden chuckled. "But I'm not surprised. You taught him,
and you know the ropes as well as anybody." We both laughed softly. "So,
do I get to go home anytime soon?"

"How about now?"

"Uhm, Ken?" Khai replied. "Could I have some time with Aaden, alone?"

"Sure thing. You two should be fine in here. I just replaced the life
support module, it's good for days."

They both nodded as I gathered up my clothes and blipped home.



I sat down at the terminal and summoned a two-dimensional imaging pattern,
working from the inside on a dyspeptide molecule that I was going to
need working correctly if this latest round of Tinker viri was going to
work at all. I heard the sounds of someone in the kitchen. "Dave?"

"Aaden, Ken." I laughed softly, noticing that Dave had anticipated my
question, and I had anticipated his anticipation. I didn't have long to
wait before Aaden joined me in the workroom. "Hiya, lover," he said as
he wandered in.

"Hi, yourself," I said, blowing him a kiss. "Hey, Aaden?"

"Hmmm?" he asked, looking over his seeding table and scratching the fur
under his chin.

"I haven't seen Khai in a long time. It's probably been over a month
since he was last here."

He looked up. "You know how it is," he said, eyes slightly sad. "They
grow up. He's got himself a girlfriend, and Tangent accepted him on my
recommendation into the milspec pilot's school."

"That's fantastic!"

"Yes, it is. But he doesn't have time for old mels like me. He has his
priorities, and hanging around with me isn't one of them anymore. He grew
out of needing me a long time ago. He's slowly growing out of wanting
me, too. I told you, Ken, it happens to all of them. His own peer group,
his own love that he can feel equal to, those have become more important."

He navigated around the table and crouched down behind me, placing his
chin on my shoulder. "I love you," he whispered.

"I love you, too," I said, scratching the top of his head. "Silly little
furry. You're not old."

"Not to you I'm not," he said. "But to him I'm part of that guard he's
going to be a long time growing into. He wants to spend time with his
own generation now. I-- and you, to some extent-- taught him how to not
be alone."

I chuckled. "Yeah, I know." I reached back behind and gave my love a
gentle squeeze.

He squeezed back gently and rose, walking away, heading back into the
kitchen. As he walked away my brain's propensity for finding quotes
dug one out, and I hummed it softly. "Dragons live forever, but not so
little boys..."

Aaden turned. "I heard that. The lyric is wrong, though, or maybe Puff was
just being foolish. It's not 'One sad day,' it should be 'One fine day.'
Because Puff did his task, being Jackie Draper's friend until the day
came when it was time for Jackie to move on. He should be proud of what
he achieved.

"I remember a Terran cartoon I saw once of that, where Puff was half
Jackie's imagination, and half he was just a stuffed toy." Aaden's
eyes wandered over to the closet where Vince, the purple stuffed-animal
dragondroid and persona Dave affected whenever we had little children
in the house, was stored. "At the end, Puff disappears into his cave,
or the toybox, forever. I remember wishing, hoping, that Jack would pass
his beloved Puff down to his children someday."

"So you're sorta going into the toybox, until someone else needs you?"

He grinned. "Something like that."

I looked up into his face, where he smiling wide but with the threat of
tears. "It hurts, doesn't it?"

"Of course it hurts," he replied. "But it was worth it, Ken. You and I,
we're so conscious of the differences between kinds of pain. Good pain,
bad pain, danger pain, worthless pain... We know all of them. This'll
pass, this pain... but the memory of the passion I felt, the pleasures
I had, the success I achieved... those will last forever." He visibly
wiped a tear out of one eye.

I stood up and wandered over to him, giving him a hug, smiling a little at
the dance we were doing within our little office. "Come on," I said. "Into
the kitchen. I need some food anyway."

Pouring glasses out for the two of us and grabbing some shortbreads
out of the cabinet, I said, "I want to apologize for how I treated you,
and Nyss, and Dave, four years ago."

"You already have," he said.

"No, I said I was being contingent. I should have known better than to
blow up on you. I should have listened first. I look at and pass judgement
on every relationship; is it good for the person involved that I care
about, or is it bad, or what? I think most people have some concern for
their friends and will at times say 'This isn't doing you any good.'"

"This was different. I understand."

"No, Aaden, it isn't. I'm more... I want to say 'suspicious,' but that's
not right. 'Cautious,' I guess. There's a huge potential for abuse of
power when we're talking about twelve or thirteen or fourteen year old kids. I should have asked first. I should have trusted you. Instead,
I blew up at the mel I love the most. I'm sorry."

He drew me into a big and furry hug; we stood there, holding each other.
"Thank you," he said after a while.

"And I promise the next time you show up with one in tow, I won't explode.
I'll ask questions of both of you..."

"If you didn't ask questions," he interrupted, "I'd be upset. For both
of us. I want you to worry about me, and I'm glad you worry about the
people I care for. But remember that someday, who knows when, I will
show up with someone, and he might be twelve years old."

I smiled. "I'll ask questions. Khai was right. I can't believe how lucky
I got when I found you."

"It's mutual," he said. "Come on, I need your help. I've got this
photosynthesizing CR-cell I want you to look at."

"The work never ends," I said, laughing.

"Nope," Aaden said. "And neither does the play. Come on."

I followed him back into the office, and we immersed ourselves in genetics
until Pnyssa got home.


The Journal Entries of Kennet R'yal Shardik, et. al., and Related Tales
are Copyright (c) 1989-2000 Elf Mathieu Sternberg. Distribution limited
to electronic media not-for-profit use only. All other rights are reserved
to the author.


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