Delendra Mutandis sneaked up behind Blue Markinsonn one evening while he was making tea. They had sat long into the evening, sitting very closely, her holding his hands to her firm thighs, exchanging kisses every so often. She bit when she kissed, nibbling bites at his mouth. This proved irritating rather than erotic in his vocabulary and he wished she wouldn't do it.
But now having drunk their fill he was making tea for them both. She came up to him and slid an arm round his waist. He slid one of his round hers in revenge and found out that the waist in question was quite bare of all clothing. He turned to her and found out that the rest of her was also. She giggled. They did not bother with tea.
Lying close together in her bed he was at a loss to define what he felt. It was as though jaggedness had taken hold of him although it should not have done. He could not explain it other than needing to be close to her, sex having been only a way of being closer to her than ever - that if it took sex to keep her close to him then that was what it would take. This was so heavily at odds with the model of male sexuality he had been taught via the media for several years that it was hard to identify it as the same thing. Previous sexual experiences - leaving aside his disastrous marriage - he had tended to over-intellectualise, standing outside it as it were. Marriage had been enough to put him off completely, his wife and her co-husband treating him as a servant, then a skivvy, then a slave, complaining that he did not work fast enough or that his lacerated hands gave him audible pain when he did work that benefited them and not him.
He did not tell Delendra this. He told her about the city of the plain and the cats and the plants in his house. She told him about her childhood and the lake she had fished in as a girl and the music she played and that she still hadn't written her piece to Dame Julia's commission.
Now's your chance, he told her.
Right now, she said. I don't think so. She took his hand and guided it to her warm places. But every place in her was warm. She shuddered and pulled closer into him.
I love you, he said.
Don't say that, she said quietly.
So he didn't say anything. There was no noise in the house. The others were out. Arungula had made up with Deezo and was over seeing him in Upland City, and Sam was on late shift as he often was. The existence of shift patterns among the housemates made for a far easier living relationship than it would have been if they had all worked the same regular hours. Mikey was somewhere, probably in a music bar.
Delendra got up and stood looking out of the window. Blue got up and stood by her, their shoulders touching.
What can you see, he asked her.
Same as you, she said. I can't see into the infrared if that's what you mean.
Really, he said.
Really, she said.
But there was something out there, among the darkened branches. Both of them could see it.
Do you see, Blue said. There, along that branch.
It turned a head towards them and they saw yellow eyes, staring, and a white grin.
A grin without a cat, Blue thought. He had always thought the Cheshire Cat was not a nice happy animal but a terrifying creature; an obligate carnivore able to hide perfectly in its surroundings until it jumped down on you and that was curtains for you old chum, you were its dinner.
I have no idea what it is, Del said. I don't think it's friendly. It isn't one of your aerial cats either.
Well, said Blue, I seriously hope it can't fly.
The creature did not move. Del closed the window and then the blinds.
But the moment was broken and they showered and went back downstairs.