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Riding Ryx

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He woke up in darkness. Nothing unusual about that, he often woke up in the middle of the night. What was unusual was the feeling of cold metal beneath his bare skin. He could hear his breathing close to his face and when he tried to reach up to touch his face, he was stopped by restraint on his wrist. A bit of quick squirming confirmed that he was restrained at the neck, wrists, ankles, and waist. He squirmed harder, but the soft, padded restraints held him fast.

“H-Hello?”

His voice bounced back to him instantly, the flat sound of it making him guess he was in some kind of box. He closed his eyes and tried to recall how he’d got here.

He’d been camping out on his parents acreage, out in the woods at the back of the property by the stream. The last thing he remembered was playing with himself until he felt the sparkles before going to sleep snug in his sleeping bag.

He felt a rising sense of panic at his helplessness. He’d obviously been kidnapped by some crazy bondage freak. His parents weren’t expecting him back to check in for another couple of days. No one would even know he was missing. Stories from the news of kids sold off swam through his head. He’d be long gone, completely beyond help, before anyone even knew he was in trouble!

Tears welled up in his eyes and he began to sob quietly, terrified of what would happen to him.

“Be calm small one.”

His head jerked up at the sound of a voice. It was flat and monotone, like a machine speaking.

“H-Hello? Wh-Who’s th-there?”

“I am Ryx you will not be harmed.”

He squirmed against his bonds. He’d already been sold!

“I w-wanna g-go h-h-home!” He wailed. “P-p-please l-let m-me g-go!”

“Cease making these noises you will not be harmed.”

He shuddered and went still, hiccuping and sniffling. “A-are y-you g-gonna d-do s-sex t-to m-me?”

There was silence for a moment. “I will mate with you yes but it will not harm you.”

He gulped. “I d-don’t w-want y-you t-to m-mate with m-me.”

“That is irrelevant mating is your purpose you will enjoy it.”

He trembled in every limb and shook his head frantically. “N-no, p-please d-don’t-”

The lights came up and-

Colors. Shapes. Weaving limbs that had too many joint or no joints, or bent at impossible angles. He felt a stabbing pain in his temples as his brain stuttered and shut down.

When he came to, he was back in the dark, his head throbbing. He tried to remember what he’d seen, but his head started to spin as it struggled to assemble an image. “W-What was th-that!?”

“That is me I am too complex for your mind it was necessary to overload your brain to calm you down I do not wish to do that again please remain calm.”

He gulped. He hadn’t been kidnapped; he’d been abducted! By actual aliens! And they were going to mate with him!

He took several shaky breaths, trying to calm down, not wanting to see that...thing...again. “P-p…” he took a few more breaths and tried again. “Please, I want to go home. I don’t think we can make babies together. I can’t even make sperms yet to get you pregnant.”

“You misunderstand you will be the young bearer.”

He took a second to work through that and then his heart rate tripled. He fought to keep his voice even. “You can’t put babies in me. I’m a boy. You need a girl for that.”

“Your gender is irrelevant you will be altered to suit your purpose.”

He closed his eyes and the tremor was back in his voice. “W-will i-it h-hurt?”

“No you will not be harmed.”

He sagged. “C-could…” he swallowed. “Is there...will I ever go home?”

“No you are an incubator you will serve that function for the rest of your existence.”

His life stretched out in front of him. Life in a box, being...making babies for an alien. Alone in the dark. He threw back his head and screamed helplessly. The lights came up and he screwed up his eyes to not see it, still screaming and thrashing. There was a low hum and he suddenly felt tired. He sagged and his eyes slipped open without meaning to.

Stabbing pain in the temples. Black out.

He came to again, and hung by his restraints, defeated.

“You will not do that again you will be calm.”

He nodded slightly.

“Excellent continue to remain calm.”

There was a faint hiss and then there were things touching him. His skin crawled at the contact, they felt cool and warm at the same time, and utterly frictionless, sliding over him like greased glass or wet ice, but they were dry. There was a soft hum and his legs were pulled up until his knees were level with his chin. He shuddered and opened his mouth to try, one last time.

“Plea-mmph!”

Something long and thick slid into his mouth and continued down his throat. He couldn’t cough and for some reason didn’t gag. After a few seconds of futilely trying to spit it back out, he let his head fall back and gave up.

He screwed up his eyes as something pressed against his butt, knowing what was coming and dreading it. To his surprise, it entered easily, but it felt immensely weird as it snaked up into him, growing ever thicker. There was a pressure on a spot inside him that made him squirm and shiver, and he recognized the feeling as the build up to his sparkles. His eyes widened as the one in his throat began to pulse, and waves of warmth flowed out from it.

He closed his eyes, moaning involuntarily into the thing in his mouth. He felt himself getting a stiffy and blushed. He didn’t want this to feel good! He was being raped! An alien was going to put a baby in him!

That and a dozen reasons not to enjoy what was happening crawled across his mind and were drowned under waves of sensation. It was like having sunlight inside him. The one in his butt was still sliding into him and his toes curled and his hands twisted and grasped at the metal under him at the maddeningly smooth slide of it through his flesh. It felt like it was as thick as a baseball bat inside him, and he could feel it deep in his tummy. Then it slowed and stopped sliding and he lay there, helplessly squirming.

It began to pulse too. His back arched as much as he could manage, and he squealed around the thing in his mouth. The spot in his butt that felt so good under pressure sent spikes of pleasure through him under the warm assault on the thing inside him. He writhed as his core felt like it was melting and shifting, a gooey, strange sensation that was nonetheless quite nice in its own way.

Finally, after he knew not how long, the shifting, flowing feeling settled. The pulses from the things in his mouth and up his butt slowed and they began to withdraw. As they left him, he sagged limply, panting, floating on the afterglow.

After a few moments, he began to feel cold and empty, and he shivered and heard himself whimper.

“It will be fine relax.”

He felt something slide up and into his butt and he moaned, his hips straining against his bonds to try and get it into him faster. He felt it lodge in his tummy and shivered, waiting for the pulses to start. Instead, he felt it slowly expand, wider and wider and his eyes bugged out as he was opened wider than he thought possible. It just kept stretching him. He threw his head back, groaning, and then it suddenly shrank back down near his hole but stayed big and thick in his tummy. He panted, eyes crossing, and then it began to thicken in his hole again and he got it in a flash.

It was laying eggs in him!

He grunted as his tummy expanded uncomfortably to accommodate the second egg, his gut feeling tight and full. He was wondering how big they were when he felt another one start to enter him. He trembled and writhed as it squeezed the other two aside, and switched to wondering how many of the stupid things were going to be shoved into him.

And then he felt a faint pulse. It came from a point inside him where he could feel the first egg. It was the same warmth he’d felt before and his eyes shot wide as he realized that every one of the eggs was going to pulse.

He grinned for a second at the prospect, and then grimaced as a fourth egg was pushed into him. He gritted his teeth and balled up his fists. “You’d, ungh, th-think this would, ah! Get ea-ouch-easier!”

“This portion does cause discomfort it grows pleasurable again soon.”

He smiled tightly at the darkness. “I, ow, figured that ou-ow-out. How, ungh, many of-” he shuddered as the fourth egg finished entering him, and groaned as he felt another starting. “How m-many m-more of jeez! These a-are g-going i-in m-me?”

“Eight more you will bear thirteen.”

His eyes widened. “What.”

“You will bear thir-”

“I h-heard y-you the f-first t-time! I f-feel like I’m g-gonna b-burst already!”

“You have been modified you will not be harmed.”

He fell back, gritting his teeth and willing the pulses to get stronger. The first egg was pulsing faintly about once every five seconds, the second seemed to be every three, and the third was doing some kind of weird pattern. He couldn’t feel the others yet, and as the sixth egg worked its way into him, he whimpered in discomfort.

He was on egg number nine when the first egg finally sent out the first pulse strong enough to alleviate the discomfort. He sagged as it washed over him, letting out a little cheer. Moments later the second egg pulsed, and then the third’s weird pattern kicked up and he relaxed as he was filled with little balls of sunlight.

It was different from the tentacles, though. Unlike the overwhelming blast waves of the tentacles, the eggs felt like ripples, each one pulsing to its own rhythm. It was strong enough to help him feel better, but not drooling deliriously high like the tentacles. And unlike the solid bar of pleasure the tentacles had created, he could somehow feel each egg distinctly. They didn’t run together and make one big wave, each one was its own entity.

He lay his head back, grunting and wincing through the last two eggs. He wished he could see himself, could touch his straining belly and rub it to try and ease the aches.

He hesitated. No harm in asking. “Ryx?”

“Yes small one.”

“Um, first, could you call me Mikey? That’s my name, Mikey.”

“Certainly Mikey what is the second thing.”

“Do...do I have to stay tied up in this box all the time?”

There was silence for a moment. “Yes.”

He sagged. “Why?”

“You are unsuited to movement while bearing young you may damage yourself I promised no harm would come to you.”

He sighed. “Ryx, if I trip and fall, that’s my fault. I’m not going to count that as you breaking your promise.”

Silence met that. “I’d really like to be able to move around. Please?”

“Please wait I must create a suitable environment to decant you into.”

He held his breath, hoping against hope. Then his legs were lowered down and he felt a floor under his feet. There was a series of hisses and the restraints released. Directly in front of him a faint glow appeared, delineating the edges of his box. He was laying back at an angle, and he stood up, nearly stumbling at the unaccustomed weight of his stomach. He caught himself on the lip of the box and stood there, trying to find his balance on shaky legs. The light levels climbed gradually and he blinked. He was...home?

He took a step and almost stumbled again. His eyes dropped to his stomach and he gasped. It looked like he’d swallowed a couple of watermelons! Except he was all lumpy!

Mikey leaned against the side of the box and ran his hands over the lumpy surface of his stomach. He could just barely touch his fingertips together while encircling it with his arms. He traced the various bumps and lumps curiously, the feeling of his strained skin strange and alien. He wrapped his arms around his stomach and stood up, leaning back to keep his balance. After a couple of near falls, he discovered that a sort of splay legged shuffle worked best, and finally emerged into the area beyond his box.

It was a rectangular room with images of his campsite on the walls like giant TVs. He slowly turned in a circle, looking out. Aside from the lack of smells, the obvious existence of corners, and the soft floor, he might have assumed he actually was back home. He walked up to one of the walls and leaned sideways against it, finding it to be soft as well. He put his face up to the wall and cupped his hands. The illusion was perfect. He could see into the distance just as clearly as if he was standing in the open. It felt for all the world as if he was back in the forest enclosed in a 15 x 9 spongy forcefield.

“Is it acceptable.”

He nodded, turning and sinking down to sit with his back to the wall. “Um, yes. Thank you.”

~~~~~~

It had been a couple of days. He’d mostly slept and sat basking in the feeling of the eggs inside him. He’d discovered that he didn’t need to eat, which made him wonder what the eggs were getting from him, but he was usually at least a little tired. He’d been sitting quietly since waking up, but he found himself drumming his fingers on his stomach.

“Um, Ryx?”

There was silence.

“Ryx, are you there?”

“Please wait.”

“Oh. Ok.”

He drummed his fingers some more.

“What is it Mikey.”

“Um, I know I’m, like, a slave, but-”

“You are not a slave you are an incubator.”

He shrugged. “Yeah, right, that, but...umm...I’m kinda bored? Can I have something to do?”

“You are fulfilling your function.”

He suppressed a sigh. “I know, but...there’s nothing to keep my mind occupied. Can I talk to you sometimes?”

“I have many functions that require my attention communication with you requires intense concentration please wait.”

A black rectangle appeared on the opposite wall.

“This is an interface with access to the human cultural database you may interact with it using voice commands or touch navigation will this suffice.”

“Um, yeah, thank you,” he said softly. As weird as it was trying to talk to Ryx, he actually would have preferred a conversation.

“Excellent please do not call again unless it is urgent thank you.”

He sighed. So much for that. Still, he had something. “Um...interface?”

A soothing female voice answered him. “Yes, Mikey?”

He blinked. He’d been expecting something like Ryx’ voice. “Uh, hi. Do you have any cartoons?”

“Do you mean print, newspaper, political, animated, internet, caricature-”

“Animated.”

“Animated. Do you mean theatrical, televised, internet-”

“Televised.”

“Televised. Do you mean-”

“Cartoons! American kids shows!”

“Animated televised American children’s entertainment. Do you mean infant, pre-k-”

“Ugggghhh, stop, stop!” He sat there with his eyes closed, gathering his thoughts. “Do you have Dexter’s Laboratory?”

“I do. Is there a specific episode you would like to see?”

“No, just...start with the first one and play them all one at a time in order.”

“Airing order, production order, chronological in-universe, chronological by plot-”

He rubbed his temples, biting back a shout of frustration. “Airing, I guess.”

“Thank you. Please enjoy.”

Familiar theme music filled the room and he let out a sigh of relief. He settled in to watch cartoons.

~~~~~

He’d found a calendar function in the database after asking about the date. Consequently, he knew he’d been pregnant for almost two months. In that time, he’d learned a few other things about his interface. “Human cultural database” seemed to mean “absolutely anything in recorded human history,” so he wasn’t likely to run out of stuff to watch, listen to, or read anytime soon. Not only that, but even if he hadn’t had all the time in the world to learn other languages, it could translate everything into English in real time. On top of that, the interface could track his movements, allowing him to play video games by making preset motions with his hands. He’d had to program the motions himself, but he’d had the bright idea to use sign language after a week of abortive attempts to be creative with gestures.

 

He hadn’t spoken to Ryx in the entire time since he’d gotten the interface, since he wasn’t sure of what constituted urgency. He lived in a box and watched TV and rubbed his stomach and slept. None of that seemed particularly urgent. But he was always tired, and he longed for someone to talk to most days.

He had hoped the computer might fulfill that function, but the computer made a lousy companion. It was incredibly stupid, essentially a search engine that wasn’t even as good as Google. Half the time, he just called up a search box and “typed” in his requests with sign language. On the other hand, he’d figured out the voice was smart enough that he could tell it to sound like someone and it there was a record of their voice in the database, it could manage it. He’d also figured out that it had records of social media up to the day he’d been abducted. Which is how he’d used his mom’s Instagram videos to get it to talk in her voice. He occasionally broke down crying still, and he almost never pulled up her photos anymore, since it hurt too much, but having her voice talk to him helped with the isolation a little. He’d gotten in the habit of having the computer read books out loud when he was laying down to sleep, and it had more than enough records of his mom’s voice to duplicate her speaking patterns.

Mikey had also figured out that the computer could model his environment as anywhere on Earth that Ryx’ ship had been or that there’d ever been a video camera. He’d spent a few hours sitting in the middle of the Atlantic ocean before he’d figured out what he’d done to change the view. Currently, he was ensconced at the top of the Empire State building.

He was flicking through the selection of anime, wondering what he should watch next, when he felt a strange new pulse inside him. He froze, hands going to his belly in concern. He’d named all his eggs, and he could tell it was Howie that was feeling weird. Maybe...maybe it was time? Was that it? Was he about to have his babies?

The pulse repeated, a little different this time, and he realized he could...it felt...happy? Like, a cheerful hello?

“Um…hi?”

Howie pulsed back at him, affection and happiness and-

And suddenly he was overwhelmed as all the eggs began “talking” to him at once. He yelped and grabbed at his belly. “Wait...stop...I can’t...Ryx! Help!”

The response was instant. “What is wrong Mikey are you injured.”

He clutched at his head. “The eggs are talking...no, feeling things at me!”

“That is normal Mikey.”

Mikey huddled up with his head in his hands. “How do I make them stop!?”

“The eggs have achieved sentience they are attuning to your dimensional mental constants this is the intent of using you as an incubator there is no way to stop this process even were stopping it desirable.”

He whimpered. “It’s so loud!”

 

“Have you tried asking them to be quieter.”

Mikey blinked. “Um…” He grabbed his belly and focused on them. “Kids, could you settle down? Please?”

There was a moment of silence in his head and then he felt them talking to each other, but it was softer, little flickers of emotion and intent at the edges of his mind. He sagged with relief. “That worked. Thanks, Ryx.”

“You are welcome Mikey is there anything else you require.”

He shook his head. “Not unless you could maybe talk to me every now and then.”

“I will consider it.”

He stared at the wall opposite him, his breath catching in his throat. “Th-Thanks. I’d really appreciate it.”

Silence met him and he sighed. He sat back and stared at his belly thoughtfully. “Um, Howie?”

Attention focused.

“Huh. Um...how are you?”

Happiness comfort love.

He smiled, rubbing his belly. “I...I love you too.”

Curiosity.

“Um, I’m not sure I can understand you well enough to answer questions, but I’ll try. What are you curious about?”

Motion freedom.

“Um, are you asking when you can come out?”

Eagerness.

“I don’t know. Your, um, Dad doesn’t tell me anything.”

Disappointment understanding love.

He smiled. “Thanks. So...um...what’s it like in there?”

Tightness warmth comfort.

“Well you’re definitely wedged in there pretty tight,” he said with a laugh. “But...I’m glad you’re comfortable.”

Slowly and surely, the “conversation” progressed, and for the first time in two months, he wasn’t alone.

~~~~~

He woke up to a strange feeling. He sat up with an effort, staring around at the night sky around him. What-

He felt it again. Movement inside him. He rubbed his eyes and pushed himself up against a wall. “Interface, display twilight time period.”

The light levels rose. He stared at his belly, waiting to see if it was just a fluke, the eggs shifting, or something. In the year he’d been pregnant, they hadn’t budged an inch, but he supposed he might be loosening up a little after being stretched for so long. No, there it was again, a sort of squirmy feeling, almost like…

His eyes widened. “Uh, Ryx? I think the babies are coming?”

There was silence for a moment, but he knew by now not to rush the alien.

“You are correct please enter the transitional chamber.”

A portion of the wall faded to a black rectangle and then gained depth. He pushed himself to his feet and walked over to it, reaching out tentatively. His hand met no resistance. There was enough light from his room to make out the low table inside.

“I...I don’t get to see them?” He whispered, a catch in his voice. His hands circled around his belly possessively. They were quiet, but he could feel their concentration. They were focused on being born, he realized.

“They are complex as I am you would become unconscious.”

A devastating wave of sadness rolled over him. He could never hold his babies. He would never see their faces. Tears pricked at his eyes as he shuffled into the box and crawled onto the table. It was soft, padded like his room, instead of hard and metallic like it had been when he first arrived. He felt a familiar mind reach out and caress his thoughts.

“Sorry, Howie,” he said with a small smile. “I don’t mean to cry on your birthday.”

Love.

“Love you too. Let’s get you out of me, ok?” He curled over on his side, running his hand over the familiar lumps in his tummy as the box closed up. “Ryx? Do I need to do anything?”

“Only prepare yourself the hatching can be overwhelming.”

He nodded and laid his head in the crook of his elbow. “I’m ready,” he whispered to his eggs. “You can come out noooowwwoooooohhhmy goooooood!”

His eyes rolled back as the hardness of the eggs dissolved and suddenly he was full of squirming, moving life. But instead of the muted pulses he’d felt from the eggs, every one of the little beings was pulsing at full strength, like Ryx’ tentacles. Over and above that, they were flooding him with exhilaration, eagerness, and love.

He felt something tickle the back of his throat at the same moment something pressed against his butthole from the inside. His mouth was hanging open and he offered no resistance as Stella squirmed up his throat, the warm/cold slickness of her weird, but overpowered by the intense emotions and pleasure she was emitting. Gerald pressed out of his butt, and he moaned around Stella as he stretched, feeling the pressure on his happy spot coupled with Gerald’s rapid pulsing.

Then they were out and the next two were coming, Kiki out his butt, Emily up his throat. Kiki was a patterned pulse that warmed and teased at him, while Emily pulsed slowly and deliberately, giving him time to build up anticipation before the next pulse hit his happy spot. Then it was Damian and Elliot, then Adam and Fred, followed by Jamie, Cynthia, Giselle, and Ellen. As they exited him, they curled up around him, their pulses warm against his skin, bathing him in love and light.

Finally he lay spent in a puddle of squirming limbs and tiny bodies, reaching out to stroke them as best he could, trying to echo their love back to them. Only Howie remained inside him, his belly feeling strangely small.

Longing love.

He smiled dreamily and stroked the single squirming shape inside him. “I’ll miss you too, Howie, but it's time to come out,” he whispered.

Sadness understanding.

He pressed on his belly, moving Howie gently to his throat. He opened his mouth and the little body slid up his throat and out to plop on the table next to his face. He felt tentacles and limbs stroking his cheeks and he pressed his face into the squirming mass, planting a kiss on the child he was closest to as he reached up and petted it gently.

A massive wave of the aliens’ communication rolled over him. Ryx’ true “voice,” he realized. The intent was unclear to him, the mind projecting too alien for him to truly understand, but he got the gist of it when his babies, one by one, said their farewells and slipped off the table. Once again, Howie was the last to leave, and he kissed it one last time before it slid away and vanished.

He lay on the table silently for a little while, staring at the darkness, rubbing his newly flat tummy. At some point the box opened, but he didn’t feel like moving. Tears rolled gently down his face.

Once more, he was alone. He rolled on his back, the first time in a year he could do so. His hands pressed against tummy, hunting for the familiar feelings inside him. He felt cold all over without his sunlight filling.

“Do you not wish to re-enter your environment.”

He shuddered and forced himself to get up and out of the box. He leaned back against the wall and sank down in his room, staring at the sunrise, listening to the echoing silence in his head.

“Ryx?” He said softly.

“Yes.”

“Can they visit me? Or can I talk to them?”

“No they have already embarked on their search for territory.”

His eyes widened. “They’re...they’re gone? Not even on the ship anymore?”

“Correct.”

He closed his eyes. “Will I...will I ever see them again?”

“It is unlikely we are a solitary species.”

Mikey curled up in a ball. An entire year spent loving them, and now they were gone forever. A wave of loss swept over him like he’d never felt before, not even when he was coming to terms with the loss of his parents.

He wept bitter tears for the loss of his children.

~~~~~

Mikey stared listlessly at the interface. It was playing some random program that he wasn’t really watching. He’d had a flash of curiosity the other day, a moment of morbid wonder, and he knew it had been almost a month since he’d lost his babies.

The loss stabbed into him again and he shuddered as dark thoughts began chasing around in his head.

Never again, never again, never see them ever again-

He pressed his palms to his eyes and sighed. He had a solution. It was a solution with problems, but it was what he had. He couldn’t see his babies.

But he could get pregnant again.

Immediately, he began feeling anxious at the knowledge that they would be taken from him, but he stomped it down. The emptiness and cold were beating him down. He needed to be full of life again.

“R…” he coughed and cleared his throat. He hadn’t said a word in almost a month. “Ryx?”

There was the usual period of quiet before the response. “Yes.”

“Can...can we mate again?”

This time the silence was unexpected and he grew anxious.

“I am not currently cultivating spawn Mikey.”

He sagged. “Oh.”

Depression threatened to drown him. He grasped at straws. “Can we mate anyway? Just-” to feel whole again “-just for, like, how good it feels?”

“You wish to mate for pleasure.”

He nodded, as usual unable to gather anything from Ryx lack of tone. “I’d settle for a hug, even, if mating isn’t-”

The box opened. “I will mate with you.”

He shivered and pushed to his feet, trembling slightly at the prospect of feeling that warmth inside him once more. He walked quickly to the box and crawled onto the table, not sure what to expect, but hopeful. The box closed and then he heard a series of familiar hisses.

A tentacle wrapped around his left ankle, a malformed hand on the right, a chitinous claw on his left wrist, and a thing he couldn’t describe on his right. He shivered and smiled a little at the dark.

“You don’t have to hold me down any more. I want this.”

The things holding him hesitated. “It enhances my experience to restrain you.”

He smiled a little wider. His alien had a taste for bondage after all. “Ok, if it makes it better for you.”

“Thank you.”

He was pulled taut and he grinned fully, squirming slightly to test his bonds. Ryx was much stronger than he was. He might as well have been cuffed with steel.

“Please continue those motions.”

He giggled, a weight easing in his chest at the feeling of amusement and anticipation, and squirmed harder. “You like it when I wiggle, Ryx?”

“Yes.”

He laughed out loud and began squirming and tugging in earnest, playing at trying to escape. Something stroked his side with a soft pulse of warmth and he gasped, arching sideways into it, trying to get more. Another touched his chest, and then his leg, and then as his eyes rolled back in his head, there were limbs touching him everywhere. They stroked his skin gently, leaving little trails of sunlight behind them. He writhed under the sensation, not as strong as he knew it could be, but better than he’d felt in a month.

“God, yes, Ryx!” He panted. “That feels amazing!”

The only response was an increase in the power of the pulses and the pressure on his body as they went from stroking to squeezing and kneading. He moaned, his body twisting and sliding on the table slowly, sensually, feeling warm and safe and whole again.

He felt something poke at his stiffy a couple of times.

“This is your genitalia correct.”

“Y-yeah, wh-holy shit!” He came off the table as something warm and sticky enveloped his stiffy and began to throb and pulse. He twitched sharply as his sparkles blew over him, a brief plateau instead of a climax, shooting higher as the pulses grew stronger.

He was panting and his eyes were rolling sightlessly in the dark under the relentless assault, when more of the little suckers hit his skin. His mouth formed a little “o” of surprise and then one kissed him on the lips.

For a second, his mind rebelled against the weird sensation. But the knowledge that Ryx was kissing him, wanted to kiss him, overrode the weirdness. He kissed back, like he’d seen on the interface, using his tongue. Ryx tasted like someone had made candy out of the smell of roses, sweet and floral, with an aftertaste like nothing in his experience.

He thought he couldn’t get any higher. He was shaking all over, twitching and spasming under the waves of sensation. Then the tentacle kissing him closed up and slipped between his lips, already pulsing. He groaned as it pressed into him, filling his head and chest from the inside with that wonderful light. He pressed upward, actively swallowing it, the feeling of his muscles sliding over and around it intense.

Then a tentacle was sliding into him at the other end. He squealed as the light hit his happy spot, writhing helplessly in the grip of all the things touching and holding him. He rolled his hips as it pressed deeper, and he almost ached from overstimulation. As he was struggling to find a way to encourage Ryx to slide the tentacle in deeper, another one pressed against his hole alongside the first. His sparkles washed over him again as it pressed into him, stretching him out.

Mikey’s back bowed as the two invaders began tugging at the ring of his hole, pulling him wider and wider. He moaned and grunted and shook, half out of his mind. A third tentacle pressed in and he floated away on a wave of constant climax as the pulses washed away his ability to think. They explored him thoroughly inside, caressing his egg cavity, filling it until he felt pregnant again. He looked down at one point through hazy eyes and felt a fierce joy at seeing his belly swollen up to its proper size again.

At some point, he became aware that he was not full of flesh any longer, that he was not held taut. The tentacles were gently petting him, the pulses light and soft. There was a tentacle pressed to his lips and he was kissing it slowly. He reached up and stroked it, holding it to his face lovingly. After a few more moments of making out, he lay back, his hands seeking out the various limbs touching him and returning that touch.

“Thank you,” he whispered.

“You are welcome I must return to my duties.”

He smiled slightly. “Right. Um, thanks again.”

But he was talking to air. The various limbs had already withdrawn. A moment later the box opened and he crawled off the table and back into his room.

He was in a much mellower mood for the next few days, able to put his loss out of his mind by holding onto the possibility that Ryx might mate with him again. But he was also scared to ask, unsure if it was something the alien had enjoyed, or even if it could enjoy it.

A few days more and he was starting to feel down again, the memory of sex with Ryx, that wonderful fullness, adding to the pile of things making him feel bad.

“Mikey.”

He fumbled his control gestures midword, inputting gibberish. In the more than a year since the abduction, Ryx had initiated conversation exactly once, that first time that he’d spoken.

“Um, yeah?”

“Do you wish to mate for pleasure again.”

His face almost cracked in half from his smile.

~~~~~

He curled up around Ryx’ tentacles, smiling gently into the darkness. Ryx had taken to mating for pleasure with a will. At least once a week, the alien initiated sex, and it rarely said no when Mikey asked. It occasionally put him off to go about it’s unknowable business, but it always made time shortly thereafter. But even with the sex, he was still...missing something.

“Ryx? When am I going to have babies again?”

“I am not-”

“-currently preparing spawn, I know. I just...what’s the point of an incubator that doesn’t incubate anything?”

“We mate often.”

He smiled. “And believe me, I love mating with you. But it’s been almost three years, Ryx.”

The alien was silent, but it continued stroking and touching him. “I am uncertain of your temporal dimension is that a long period.”

He shrugged. “I mean, it is to me. It’s, um, three times the length of time it takes to hatch a clutch?”

More silent stroking for a while. “I see perhaps I should seek out new territory please wait and I will prepare spawn.”

He jumped slightly. “Wait, now?”

“No you will need to wait it takes a period of time to accomplish.”

He smiled sheepishly. “Sorry, I...it’s a little hard sometimes to tell what you mean when you say please wait.”

“It means I am attempting to accomplish something that requires you to wait.”

“No, silly, I mean it’s hard to know how long I have to wait,” he said, giggling. “Sometimes you say it and then come right back in a minute, one time you said it and it was three days later before you came back. Do you have any idea how long it will be?”

“No.”

He sighed. “Yeah, I know, time is weird and confusing.”

It was, as it turned out, about two months. The thought that he would have babies again was always on his mind, but he’d let it slip from the forefront, trying to keep from being impatient. They were having sex when Ryx broke the news to him.

“Are you ready to bear young.”

His eyes crossing, his stomach swollen with tentacles, he let out a breathless laugh. “You...ask...now?”

“Yes.”

He laughed again. “Yes! I, oh fuck, I am! F-Fill me up!”

The tentacles withdrew, but this time, Ryx continued to stroke him and hold him, bathing him in that wonderful warmth. He felt the egg tentacle slide into him and took a deep breath, readying himself. It was different, though. He knew the discomfort wouldn’t last long, he wasn’t scared of the eggs this time, Ryx was holding him instead of impersonal metal cuffs, and he was eager to be pregnant. So when the first egg began to slide into him, he felt exultation that easily overpowered the mild discomfort. He let his head fall back, moaning and screwing up his eyes as it reached the widest point and then popped into him.

“There we go,” he whispered. “R-Ryx, could I h-have my hands, please?”

His hands were released and they immediately went to his belly, pressing into the soft flesh to find the hard little spot. He smiled broadly, turning to a slight grimace as the next egg began to slide in. “I, ungh, forgot how, jeez, big they are!”

Ryx didn’t respond, but he hadn’t really expected it to. He licked his lips, and reached down, finding one of the alien’s tentacles and gently tugging it up to his belly. The warmth eased the discomfort slightly and he laid his head back again. The tentacle stroked him in small circles. “Can you feel the eggs inside me? Isn’t it amazing?”

“Yes.”

He gritted his teeth through the first three eggs, and then he felt the first small pulse. He laughed delightedly, touching the egg and whispering, “Welcome home, baby.”

Ryx filled him with exactly the same number eggs as before, and then gently withdrew its egg tentacle. It stroked him gently for a little while longer as he felt all the eggs reach their full strength.

“Thank you, Ryx,” he whispered, cradling his full belly. “I missed this.”

“Thank you for bearing my spawn is there anything you require.”

He blinked slightly, unsure of what to do with an expression of gratitude or an offer like that. “Uh...like...could I have some clothes?”

“You are aesthetically pleasing why do you wish to hide yourself.”

He opened and closed his mouth. “You think I’m pretty?”

There was a moment of silence, and then, “Yes.”

He licked his lips, at a loss on this whole conversation. “I, uh, thank you. I just...sometimes I’d like to have clothes, that’s all. I miss wearing them.”

“I will make you clothes is there anything else.”

“Ummm...like, a little beanbag or pillow or something? My back sometimes gets tight with the babies, and, um...yeah, a pillow would be nice.”

“The cultural database indicates that pillows come in groups how many do you require.”

He giggled. “Three or four?”

“Which is it three or four.”

“Four,” he said, laughing.

“Four pillows clothing anything else.”

He shook his head. “Not that I can think of. The interface has just about everything I need except-” he broke off, blushing.

“What does the interface lack.”

Mikey shook his head. “Sorry, that was...I was going to say it has everything I need except you and our babies. It just...I felt like it would be weird to say that.”

A tentacle curled up his side and his shivered as it planted a sucker gently on his lips in their version of a kiss.

“It is not weird I derive satisfaction from knowing you require our spawn that you require me.”

He blushed again and kissed the tentacle. “I do,” he whispered.

“I must return to my duties I wish you to test the clothing I have prepared.”

Mikey blinked as the tentacles withdrew and the transitional room opened again. He slid off the table, and waddled into his room. Sitting in the center of the room were four massive, fluffy white pillows and…

He knelt down to pick up the neatly folded clothes. There were four of them in different colors and patterns, but they were all close to the same cut. They were like long shirts, or short dresses, that would fit over his stomach. One was almost the same cut as a t-shirt in purple plaid, one was sleeveless in green and yellow paisley, one was backless and candy cane striped white and red, and the final one had peasant sleeves and was black with gold trim and, as he held it up and moved it in the light, spots like a jaguar that only showed up when you looked at it a certain way.

“Wow. Um…” he vaccillated for a long second. They were dresses, and loudly patterned dresses at that. But they were the first clothes he’d seen in four years, they were beautiful, and Ryx had made them for him. It was the last that decided him. He decided to try the plaid one first, since it was closest to something he would choose himself. He slipped it over his head, and gasped as it slid over his skin. It was incredibly soft, and he felt...snuggly. Cozy, even.

“Curious.”

He jumped. “Uh, what is, Ryx?”

“The covering enhances your total aesthetic quality by contributing anticipation at the prospect of removing it.”

He blushed furiously. “It makes me prettier because now you can undress me?”

“Correct do you require a place to store clothes.”

Mikey shivered at the idea of Ryx undressing him. “Uh, I only have…” He replayed the conversation in his head and grinned. “I’m about to have a lot of clothes, aren‘t I?”

“Do you no longer wish to have clothes.”

“No! I mean, yes, I want clothes, I mean…” he sighed and giggled. “I mean, thank you for the clothes. If you could give me a space to hold clothes, then yes, that would be nice. I’m glad you like them.”

“I have created a closet you may access it through the interface I will create more clothes but it may be a period of time.”

He smoothed down his clothes, feeling the wonderful fullness inside him. He eyed the pillows speculatively. “No rush, Ryx. I have enough for now.”

~~~~~

Mikey lay back, watching Futurama for the dozenth time through, stroking his belly. He was full and happy once more. After the first few clutches, he’d learned to deal with the grief of losing his children over and over, at least enough that he rarely went into such deep depression any more. And Ryx’ insatiable appetite for his body kept him feeling safe and whole between clutches. The alien would not or could not make love to him while he was spawn bearing, so the first few days after a hatching were usually spent blissed out of his brain on tentacle sex.

He’d changed very little over time, discovering that part of the modification had been to halt his aging. His hair still grew, and he wore it in a braid down to his ankles these days, tied up in hair ties Ryx had given him. His wardrobe had expanded until the closet was almost as big as his living room, and he wore a loose, floor length sleeveless gown with gold, pink, and lilac polka dots. He’d given up on pants when Ryx had explained that access to his egg cavity was part of the appeal.

“Mikey.”

He jumped at the voice of his lover and paused the show. Ryx had only spoken to him while he was bearing a clutch half a dozen times. “What’s up, Ryx?”

“There are humans here to see you.”

His brain refused to process that for a long few seconds. “I’m sorry, what?”

“There are humans here to see you.”

He stared at the walls unseeingly. “Ryx, how did humans get here and why are they coming to see me?”

“My species has recognized your species as equals we have a treaty under the terms of the treaty you are free to go.”

Mikey’s head spun and he felt short of breath. “What.”

“Do you wish to see the humans.”

He nodded shakily. “Uh, yeah. Yes! Of course!”

A door appeared in a spot different from what he thought of as the bedroom or the closet. Three people, actual people, came through it into his room. They wore what looked like uniforms, yellow tunics and black pants with boots, some kind of rank insignia on their shoulders and right arms. They had some kind of masks over their faces, which he guessed were for breathing and keeping them from seeing Ryx, since he was pretty sure he couldn’t breathe what Ryx did and he knew for certain and sure that he couldn’t look at Ryx without getting a headache. The door closed behind them and they stepped forward, pulling off their masks.

The one in the lead was a tall, lean blonde man with movie actor good looks and a bright warm, smile. To the left and behind him was a woman with brunette hair and similarly perfect looks. Finally, the one to his right had black hair and the expected weird perfection in her appearance.

“Hi,” the man said softly. “I’m Captain Hannover, this is Lt. Cmdr. Ellis,” he waved at the brunette, “and Commander Drake. On behalf of the people of Earth, we’re here to tell you that you are free.”

He stopped, smiling, obviously waiting for the hysterical gratitude to start. Mikey stared at him warily. “Thank you, I guess.”

Hannover’s smile dimmed slightly. “You understand what that means, right? You can come home!”

Mikey’s hands went to his belly. “I might think about it, but I’m pregnant right now.”

Ellis shuddered almost imperceptibly. “That’s no problem. We can safely remove-”

His heart rate shot up. “What the fuck did you just say.”

She stuttered to a halt. “We can...we can remove the eggs? You don’t have to-”

He sucked in a horrified gasp. “You want to kill my babies?”

Her eyes widened. Hannover stepped forward, reaching out for him. “Kid...you have something called Stockholm Syndrome. Those aren’t your babies. The Cygnans just use humans to-”

“Ryx! Help!”

There was a sharp hiss and a mass of limbs blurred into the room through the door they’d come through. His hands shot up to protect his eyes from the sight, but he still felt a slight stab in his temples at the brief glimpse of Ryx. There was a brief scream and a softer hiss. He sank down onto his pillows, shaking.

“Are you hurt Mikey.”

He shook his head. “Did...are they ok?”

“I have not harmed them they wish to resume speaking with you.”

 

He felt a surge of fury. “They wanted to kill our babies.”

There was a moment of silence. “I have harmed them slightly they still wish to continue speaking with you.”

He shuddered. “Ryx, I want you to tell them the exact words I’m about to say, ok?”

“Yes.”

“Mikey says you can fuck off back to whatever hell shat you out.”

“Please wait.”

He curled up on his pillows and stroked his belly, murmuring softly, “It’s all right. It’s going to be ok.”

“They are invoking the treaty they insist on speaking with you.”

He gritted his teeth. “We are going to have a long conversation about this treaty. I’ll talk to Drake, the other two I might be tempted to ask you to shove out the airlock if I see their faces again.”

The door hissed open again a few moments later and Drake walked in. She had a shiner forming on one cheek and her right arm was hanging limply. He guessed it was dislocated. She waited for the door to close behind her, and then reached up and took off her mask.

They stared at each other warily for a long moment. “If I promise not to suggest anything to do with ending your...pregnancy...early, will you promise not to call the Cygnan down on me?”

Mikey glared at her. “Nope. I don’t want to talk to you.”

She winced. “Look, we got off on the wrong foot. We’ve been going around from Cygnan budship to budship, wherever the Cygnans have told us they have a human, setting them free. I know you’re too young to understand, but-”

He barked out a laugh. “Lady, I am 432 years old.”

She ground to a halt. “I beg your pardon?”

“I was...Ryx found me in 2032. I’m over four centuries old. I’ve had lots of time to get my head around this.”

She blew out a breath. “I’m sorry. I forget sometimes that the Cygnans can make humans immortal. I didn’t realize you...I didn’t realize.”

He frowned suspiciously. “Does that change things?”

Drake shrugged with her good shoulder. “Of the thirty humans that have been held for more than a century and weren’t released as soon as the treaty went into effect, two have elected to come home. I don’t know what the Cygnans do to your head to make you ok with...this. But after a hundred years or so, it seems to be irreversible.”

Mikey glared at her. “Great, fine, irreversible, so you can give up and go away now, ok?”

She nodded. “Yeah, I guess so.” She reached up to put her mask back on, and then paused. “Look...I know you don’t want to hear this, but...Cygnans don’t feel things like we do. It doesn’t love you. It can’t.”

He felt an icy stab in his heart. His eyes blurred slightly, and he reached up to wipe at them.

“You’re an utter cunt for that,” he said softly, flatly. “I know that. But I love Ryx. I love my babies. And that’s enough.”

She stared at him silently, and then nodded. She put her mask on and turned to go.

“Commander Drake.”

She paused and looked back over her shoulder.

“If I ever see anyone in that uniform again, I will tell Ryx to kill them. Don’t come back, and don’t send anyone.”

She went still and then nodded slightly. He watched her until the door closed behind her and then sank down onto his pillows with a whuff. He stared at the floor for a long while, his thoughts chasing each other around.

“They are gone.”

He nodded absently. “Ryx, tell me about this treaty, please.”

“Your species developed interstellar travel a period of time ago certain among my kind argued that your kind should be recognized as our equals when that happened those elements won the argument you are free to go if you wish.”

He shuddered, closing his eyes. “I...I don’t know,” he said softly. “Do you want me to go?”

“No.”

He swallowed, took a deep breath, and asked, “Why?”

“You are my mate.”

He stared at the wall. “You’ve...never said that before. What does that mean?”

The silence stretched out, a minute, two minutes, five. “This method of communication is insufficient.”

The door to the bedroom appeared. Mikey stared at it with a small grin. “You can’t just fuck me senseless, Ryx. What does that mean?”

“I am not attempting to sway you with mating I need to.”

He blinked. He’d never heard Ryx cut off like that. “Need to what?”

“Please enter the transitional chamber this method of communication is insufficient.”

He levered himself to his feet and waddled over to the bedroom. He crawled onto the bed and curled up on his side. The door closed and he heard that familiar hiss. Then Ryx was touching him, cradling him, wrapping him in writhing flesh.

“Apologies for the pain.”

Mikey blinked. “What pa-”

Ryx spoke.

He’d heard the aliens true “voice” dozens of times when it spoke to their babies, but it had never been directed at him. Now it washed over and through him, resonating in his bones, filling his mind with alien imagery and feelings. He couldn’t understand most of it, but three things got through clearly.

The first was that Ryx didn’t love him. Not for want of trying, and he could sense that the alien knew that bothered him. But it literally didn’t experience that emotion except when it felt it from him or from their babies. It knew the emotion was positive, it knew that it was important to Mikey, but it couldn’t reciprocate.

The second was that Ryx viewed the world very differently. From Ryx’ perspective, they were never apart. Something about the pulses he felt when they made love connected them in a way that was very physical and real to the alien.

The final thing, and the most important, the one that Ryx pushed the hardest into his mind, was that that connection, that link between them, made them one person to Ryx. As far as Ryx was concerned, Mikey was as much a part of it as his heart was a part of him. Ryx literally could not conceive of a way to exist without Mikey, could not conceptualize his absence any more than it could understand love. It grasped that he might go away, but it could not see an existence for itself without him. In a very real way, Ryx was afraid that if Mikey left, it would die.

The overpowering voice went silent, leaving a massive headache in its wake. His cheeks were wet with tears, and his breathing was ragged. He groaned and reached up to gingerly cradle his head.

“Apologies.” Ryx said, its tentacles gently petting his head, emitting gentle pulses of warmth that soothed the pain.

He wiped his tears, turning his head slightly to kiss the tentacle caressing him. “No, it’s...thank you. I understand now.”

“Will you go.”

He laughed softly. “Oh, my silly mate,” he whispered, the new word sending a little bolt of pleasure and rightness through him. “Of course not. I can’t live without you either.”

~~~~~

“Mikey.”

Mikey was sitting and playing a video game, listening to his babies chatter back and forth, when Ryx called him for the second time. His heart dropped into his egg cavity.

“Yeah?”

“You have visitors.”

He licked his lips. It had only been two months since his last “visitors” and he’d privately decided he could happily go another four centuries without any more.

“If it’s those human again, I’d appreciate it if you made them go away. Whatever you need to do is fine.”

“It is not the Earth Alliance humans.”

He frowned. “Who is it?”

“It is apparently a surprise.”

He blinked. “What the hell?” He whispered. “Is it a surprise I’ll like?”

“I believe it will give you pleasure.”

He nodded. “Ok. If you think it’s good, let them in.”

The door to the outside opened with a hiss and two women came in. One was tall and gangly, with dirty blonde hair, glasses, and friendly brown eyes. He realized after a second that she was probably very young, a teenager or not long out of her teens. She was wearing a skirt and t-shirt, but she was barefoot. She was grinning like she was bursting with a secret, and he found that he liked her instinctively.

The other woman was strange. She was bald, with wide set blue eyes and a broad mouth. She was tall, on the high side of six feet plus, but she was proportional, so she looked just like a human woman writ large. She wore striped pants and a button down plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up, both in varying shades of blue. She looked...inscrutable, like her emotions were being hidden or were simply absent.

The short girl stepped forward, her grin widening. “Hi. You’re Mikey, right?”

He nodded. “Yeah. And you are?”

She bounced slightly in place. “I’m JoAnn Collins, and this,” she reached back and took the other woman’s hand, tugging her forward, “is my mate...Howie Collins.”

He froze. “What.”

The tall woman stepped forward and suddenly came alive. A familiar mind touched his, distant without physical touch to back it up.

Love. Joy. Mischief. Excitement.

His eyes widened and his mouth fell open.

Howie grinned. “Hello, mother.”

He shot across the room as fast as his stomach would allow and threw his arms around her. She knelt down, and wrapped her own huge arms around him, and with touch he could feel her light, that soft pulse he hadn’t felt in so long.

He clung to her for a long few moments, and then pulled back, reaching up to wipe his eyes. “How? How is this...how?”

Howie gently stroked his face, her eyes drinking him in. “It’s complicated, Mother. But the short version is, I am tuned to your dimensional cross-section, so I have more fine control of how I manifest in it. It took a great deal of practice, but I learned to create this form.”

He couldn’t stop touching her, his hands roaming over her arms, face, and sides. “This...could Ryx do this?”

She shook her head. “Imagine trying to learn to breathe underwater. You might be able to understand that it’s possible, or even how it works. But it’s not something you can learn to do.”

He nodded slowly, a little disappointed, but mostly in awe of seeing his daughter for the first time. He looked over at JoAnn and blinked. “Wait, does this make me your mother too?”

Her smile turned shy. “If you don’t mind? I’ve heard so much about you in the last few centuries.”

He stared at her, befuddled. “How have you been hearing about me? Howie was in my first clutch.” He looked at his daughter and pressed his forehead to hers with a small smile. “Not that you didn’t make an impression on me, but I can’t imagine you’ve had a few hundred years of talking about me based on one year of being with me.”

Howie grinned. “Mother, how many children have you had?”

He frowned and stroked his belly. “Not counting this clutch, 988.”

She nodded. “One of the things we inherited from you was a desire for closeness. We all communicate with each other. You have an entire family that’s been talking about you and loving you from afar.”

His jaw fell open. “Bu...wha…all of you talk to each other?”

“Yes, Mother, we do.”

JoAnn smiled at him. “And a lot of your kids chose human mates, or chose mates from species with similar emotional makeups. Your children talk to each other, and our children’s children talk to each other, and their children…you’re the source of an entire sub-race that values family over territory.”

He stared at her in shock. Howie wrapped her arms around him and stroked his back, radiating her love for him. “We’re the cause for the treaty, Mother. We believe that our mates should have rights, that they should be recognized as individuals under our laws.”

Mikey’s mouth worked silently for a moment. “Um...how am i just now hearing this?”

Howie hesitated. “Father...is a traditionalist. He was confused by our attempts to communicate with you. For most of our species, it is horrifically rude to speak to another’s mate. It would be like JoAnn shoving a tube in your chest and trying to have a conversation with your lungs.”

He laughed softly. “Yeah, he...he explained that to me a couple months ago.” He stroked her face, staring at her lovingly. “So…”

Mikey took a deep breath. “Ryx?”

“Yes.”

“You’ve given me everything. You’ve been patient and kind. I love you. Do you want me to stay hidden? To be a proper mate to you?”

JoAnn’s eyes widened. “But-”

Howie held up a hand. “Wait.”

Ryx was silent for a long few moments. “Yes.”

He nodded slowly. He leaned forward and hugged Howie tightly. “It was wonderful to see you.”

JoAnn looked sandbagged. “All of that, and we just-”

He felt Howie’s disappointment and sadness through her skin, but he also felt understanding. “We fought to give Mother a choice. He’s choosing to respect Father. So yes. Now we go.”

Howie stood up and stepped back, her hand lingering on his face, holding that mind to mind contact as long as possible. He turned his head and kissed her palm, focusing on sending his love.

“I’m proud of you,” he whispered. “Tell the others I love them.”

She nodded and withdrew her hand. “I will, Mother. Father, would you release us, please?”

Nothing happened.

Mikey frowned. “Ryx? Everything ok?”

“Please wait.”

He blinked. “Um...so much for the dramatic farewell.”

Howie chuckled. “Some of the others have told me how frustrated you are at times by Father’s loose grasp of time.”

He grinned. “Yeah, but it’s cute sometimes, especially when he gets annoy-”

“I will allow limited communication.”

They all froze. Mikey’s heart jumped into his throat. “What does that mean, precisely?”

“I have created a function in your interface that will give you access to ship communications I will allow visitors provided you are not youngbearing we are not required to divert you will not leave the ship.”

His lips moved, parsing that. “So...I can make calls outside the ship, and as long as I’m not pregnant and they come to us, I can have visitors?”

“Yes please not more than two in one visit.”

He nodded, tears pricking at his eyes. He sniffed and dashed a hand across his face.

“That’s more than fair, my love,” he said, grinning through his tears. “Thank you.”

He stepped forward, holding out his arms. Howie and JoAnn came forward and enveloped him in a group hug. He squeezed than tight, bouncing on his toes with joy. A little laugh escaped him.

Howie pulled back and brushed at the tears on his face. “We have a family registry. We’ll send out messages that you can be contacted, and add the registry to Father’s comm system.”

Mikey nodded, and grinned wider. “Maybe...maybe we limit the calls for the first year or so. I don’t want your father to regret this.”

Howie laughed. “A sensible precaution, Mother. We’ll set up a rotation.”

“Oldest first, please,” he said, tapping her on the nose. “I have a lot of catching up to do.”

“Mikey.”

He blushed. “Apologies, Ryx.” He stepped back and made a shooing gesture. “You heard your father. I’m pregnant, so no visitors. Scoot!”

They waved at him as the door hissed open. He waved back, watching them until the door closed. He waddled back over to his pillows and eased down, a broad smile on his face.

His babies...he could talk to his babies. He could talk to their mates, to other humans like him. His isolation was over, after over four centuries. He flopped over on his side with a pillow under his head, grinning at the floor.

“Ryx?”

“Yes.”

“What changed your mind?”

There was silence. “Your function is impaired after a clutch buds off I have difficulty understanding this I do not wish you to be impaired you have expressed a desire for communication to alleviate the impairment in the past.”

He smiled. “Not that I’m upset, but you do know I’m happy here with you, right? That if it will make you uncomfortable, I can go right on living as I have been.”

He waited through the silence, eyes closed. He meant it too. If Ryx truly wanted him to be a good little mate and hide from the outside world, he would. He’d simply have Ryx send an apology out for him.

“I derive satisfaction from knowing I am sufficient you have proven you will not leave I choose to trust you.”

He frowned. “Why would talking…” his eyes widened as it hit him.

The only way he could communicate directly with another of Ryx’ species was through touch...and the touch of Ryx’ kind was pleasurable.

“I promise I won’t...communicate with anyone else that way. That’s just for you.”

His eyes widened slightly as he felt a small, distant pulse of Ryx’ true “voice.” Mixed in with the indecipherable alien emotions, he felt satisfaction.

“Thank you for understanding.”

He nodded, smiling slightly. “Ryx, would you open the bedroom?

“We cannot mate.”

He shook his head, rolling to his feet. “I don’t want to mate, Ryx. I want to kiss you and cuddle a little.”

The door opened and he waddled in, curling up on the bed. Ryx’ limbs slipped in and curled around him, pulsing gently. One of them came up to his face and he kissed it gently as a sucker opened.

He had his mate. He had his babies back. He had a family again. He smiled and stroked his mate,cozy in the darkness.

He had everything a boy could want, and eternity to enjoy it.

“Thank you, Ryx. For everything.”

Ryx kissed him again. “It is my pleasure Mikey.”

The boy and the alien intertwined, resting in each other’s company as the stars spun by outside.