Author’s Note: Um… So, yes, I’m backdating this so it’s where it’s supposed to be. Apparently, I somehow missed posting it, but it goes before The Lunar Soapbox.
Tynan could not stop with the touching. After so long being unable to touch anything at all, having something—someone—there that he could touch, he could not help where his hands went. He’d held onto hers for a while, learning the lines of her palms and memorizing the feel of her skin, rougher on the hands than it was on her cheek—he liked her cheeks, the surface was soft and smooth and made him want to spend all of his time running his fingers—the facsimile of them, at least—over her face, along the lines of the bones underneath—humans were such a strange species.
He knew of plenty of species with exoskeletons, but humans kept theirs underneath the skin—he thought he liked that, though he’d have to see if he could touch Alvin and compare it—no, no, he would not have time. They were going to kill him. They were just waiting for the device that had allowed them to subdue him before they put him in the cage. They would use that on him, and it would all be over. He would be dead.
He turned to the matron, seeking her out in the room. “You will not harm Luna, will you?”
“Tynan, what are you doing?” Luna put a hand on his arm, shaking her head. “Don’t bargain with them to save me. They’ll kill you no matter what, and that’s not… It’s not right. I won’t let you—”
“I will die regardless, since they fear my kind so much, but you and Alvin should not be harmed for what I have done,” he said, placing both hands on her cheeks. He frowned as he thought about another human custom, but this was not the time or the place. He didn’t know that he could, and it was a bad idea. Why was it distracting him now, of all times?”
“What if… what if they exiled you to some uninhabited part of space? Somewhere where you couldn’t hurt anyone? If they did that, they wouldn’t have to kill you.”
“The hunger can be limitless.”
“Not for you. You can control it. If they sent me with you, you wouldn’t have to use it at all. You don’t when you’re around me. You know that, and I know that, and they can see for themselves. You’re touching me, and it’s not killing me. It feels good.”
He leaned his head against hers. “I am glad you think so. It feels good to me, too, and now look, you are smiling again. I love that smile, but I think I already said so.”
She nodded. “You did. You know, I’m pretty sure I’m not right about this, because I’ve been mistaken before, and your face is just a facsimile, but I’d… um… swear you were about to—Never mind. That’s stupid. It’s not important. We have to get you out of here.”
“I could leave at any time.”
“I am a child of the vortex. We consume. I could eat my way free of this place in no time at all, but I do not know what I would destroy in the process, so I have not.”
“You’d rather let them kill you?”
“My life is not worth the innocent ones I’d take with me.”
“It is to me. I wish you’d run. Oh, I do. I know you won’t because you’re honorable and good, but I also don’t want them to kill you, so I want you to run. I want you to have your incredibly long life with all your curiosity and the things you can see and experience and learn and love…” She sighed. “Even if I never saw you again, I’d want you to go because it would have to be better than letting their hate and ignorance kill you.”
“You are special,” he told her. She managed a slight smile, and he brushed his hand against her cheek again. “I have always seen this, but it seems even clearer to me now.”
“So are you. You’re not like anyone I’ve ever met, and I’m not just saying that because you’re a black hole.”
He laughed, and then he decided that his curiosity was too much to resist. So many things he’d like to learn about touching, but he had a feeling some of them were quite inappropriate even without an audience, but this he had seen in public before, and he wanted to know want it was like. He knew it was a human practice, but Luna was human, so it fit, didn’t it?
He leaned forward, sure he must be doing this wrong even as he tried to meet her lips with his, and he was almost certain of it when he realized he was tasting for the first time. Before, when he consumed things, he was not even aware of what they were. They passed by too quickly for him to register anything unique about them. Luna, though, he could feel her lips soft but not like her skin, a bit moist, a bit tender, and he did not know how to describe the taste except that he wanted more.
He broke away, stepping back. The hunger. That was the hunger. He could have hurt Luna, and he would never let that happen.
He forced himself to look at her. “Did… Did I hurt you?”
She shook her head, a radiant smile on her face. “Oh, no. Not at all. I know that had to be the first time you’ve ever kissed someone, but you’re good at it. It’s like those clichés about drowning and being on fire—oh, here’s a good one—being consumed—but it didn’t hurt. I could do that with you forever.”
With that smile, he was tempted to kiss her again. He shouldn’t. Yet… if they planned to kill him, what better thing was there for him to do? He could enjoy his final moments, or he could try and run. He didn’t have many options, not now. “Luna, are you sure that I didn’t—”
“I may have just become the cliché girl in the vampire story who decides that she’s willing to let him feed on her for eternity or maybe I always kind of was, but I want you to kiss me again. I want so much more than what we’ve had, and we won’t get it, but… if we don’t get forever, we get as much as we can squeeze into the next few minutes, right?”
He nodded. That sounded rather wise. “Yes.”
She grinned and kissed him this time.