Summary: Eventually, sex will not be enough to hold you.
Characters: OCs, John Crichton
Disclaimer: This universe belongs to O'Bannon, Henson, Kemper, et. al.
Original Story: Downtime by sarahjane
Notes: Many thanks to simplystars for the beta and for being an awesome person to flail with.
Old Sex and Loneliness (The Memories You Keep Remix)
On Tumaar you become a tralk by trade.
Your first is a Peacekeeper whose eyes follow you around the refreshment house. You look over your shoulder to find him staring, one hand wrapped around a bottle of fellip. When he's close enough to speak without throwing his voice he says, "Can you spare a couple of arns for a soldier?"
You fix your gaze on the bottle in his hand, the beads of liquid on his fingertips from the cool beverage. You've had nothing but arns to spare since arriving on this planet.
For a long while you return his stare silently, watching the way his mouth curls into a half-smile, how the drink has put a glaze over his eyes. He's attractive enough, you admit; maybe once he's asleep you can steal a few credits to catch the next freight out of this system.
Or maybe you won't have to steal at all.
Nodding, you straighten your shoulders, guide him through the maze of patrons and scattered chairs and tables. His hand is warm and heavy on your arm as he halts your progress. "Rooms are just outside, right?" He speaks close to your ear, surprising you with how quickly he's moved into your space without you knowing.
You nod mutely, thinking he's hidden his impatience well up to this point. Lifting your chin, you reply confidently, "I'll wait by the door while you pay for the room," acting the part. As he walks away you clench your fingers in a fist, willing your nervousness to abate. It's clear to you now why you'd never thought to do this before, but you are out of options. This is the path you've chosen, the means for your escape. You will not allow second thoughts to hinder your progress.
A few microts later he meets you at the front entrance, a round keycard in his hand. He trails silently behind as you lead him to a connecting row of rooms, as if you've walked this path many times before, until you come to your assigned quarters. Sliding the key into the circular shaped hole, he turns it clockwise until it clicks and the door swishes open. Pitch black greets you as he shuffles you both inside.
"Lights low," you murmur in the semi-darkness. The door closes with a hiss behind you as the lights come on. With a clear view of the room it feels as if the walls are closing in, and you force yourself to take a deep breath. Nervous energy flows out, and the beginning of anticipation flows back in. The headiness of it threatens to overwhelm you.
And then he's in your space, pressed against you, his warm breath fanning your cheek as your back hits the wall. "You're in a rush," you observe quietly, wondering if this is how it's supposed to go.
He nods anxiously. "I've got leave for the next 12 arns and I plan to make the most of that time."
He leans in, his mouth a mere dench away from slanting across yours and you just manage to hold him off. "There's still the matter of payment," you murmur, because it seems like an important detail. You've heard enough of them talk while lurking about; you've learned to mimic their ways.
You haven't learned fast enough, if his hand inside your clothes, brushing your skin, is any indication.
He is a Peacekeeper, you chant silently. Deft fingers slip between your thighs, unexpectedly gentle, for all that shields him; impenetrable blacks and reds.
Then his hand is gone, leaving your body flushed with arousal; from his weight pressing you into the wall, down to the cool, wet, fellip-tinged mouth covering yours.
It's been monens since you've kissed a male and meant it. You wonder how much this is worth.
"Fifty credits for half an arn," you demand around his tongue. Suddenly he's released you from the kiss, and you stare back, dazed.
He digs into his pocket with one hand, retrieves a handful of currency and tosses them on the table. "That about cover it, then?" he asks.
He has less than 12 arns of free time, with more than enough credits to spend it frelling you.
You take a deep breath, exhaling through your mouth as you grab the bottle hanging loosely from his hand. You take big gulps until you feel warm again, the bottle slipping from your fingers with barely a notice.
Your grip is firm as you capture the back of his neck, kissing him deeply as he guides you blindly to the bed. The intoxicant tingles in your mouth, races beneath your skin as if chased by his hands, peeling away the last of your hesitance with every item of clothing removed.
The ease in which you fall into your new role surprises you less than it should.
But you are reborn on Aerel IV, just as the last of your innocence fades away.
You jump on a passenger ship because it's the one planet you haven't heard much about. You soon discover that its night cycle is no different from its day, and that its people look nothing like you; when you walk its paved streets their gazes weigh heavily on you.
Three days into your stay at the inn you meet Eanis, who pays for your services for two weekens.
(and something extra, his lips form, while his hands plead, stay.)
Monens have passed since Tumaar, and you have long since learned to charge appropriately.
As he stands before you, he reminds you of a boy you once knew a lifetime ago.
In bed he reminds you of the first Peacekeeper.
To him you are simply a traveler, and he is fascinated by the differences between your species.
"Girl," he calls you, because you refuse to answer to a name. "Girl, who are your people?" he asks, because his pale skin is nearly grey, though he looks like no other Nebari you've ever seen. Because he has traced invisible lines along your bronze skin for arns, and he has still more questions until you silence him with sex.
For a short while, quiet is what you are afforded.
And then he catches his breath and more words spill forth, though he never wonders aloud how you came to be a tralk.
Eanis always looks to you with a smile, as if his mouth must be mobile at all times. You joke about occupying his mouth in other ways and he kisses you slowly until you pull away, licking faint traces of oreme from your lips. You hum in pleasure, and he sets his thumb on your bottom lip. "You must take a supply of oreme with you when you leave," he says quietly.
"Maybe," you reply, already turning away from the question in his eyes. He's never had to voice his request that you stay when you can read it so clearly on his face, in the curve of his lips.
Later, after you've taken him into your body and coaxed something other than a grin from his mouth, he brings a bowl of oreme to the bed and feeds you with his fingers. The creme is thick and cool, almost sourly sweet.
"Something to remember me by," he says. You know he means instead that it reminds him of you.
Your next destination is somewhere, anywhere in orbit, away from his wide, smiling mouth and too-rich food. You leave Aerel IV.
Eanis never knows your new name.
It is usually the planets, not that people, that spring to mind from your conquests, and Aerel is not far from your thoughts this night.
"I am Oreme," you say, because you've learned to give pieces of yourself in exchange for something greater.
But she does not have a name; or rather, not one she wishes to share.
You are older now, have shaped yourself at the behest of others for two cycles, and so it is confidence that guides you to take control. You link your fingers with hers but they refuse to bend. "Relax," you try to soothe her, as if you have all night to gain her favor.
She's only paid for half an arn.
Her skin is soft, bones sharp, as you trail your fingers along her collarbone. Her breath hitches and you take this as a sign to continue, allow your fingers to skim her throat. "Can you say my name?" you begin softly, watching her eyes this time for any notion of acknowledgment.
"Oreme," she says hoarsely, and she is but a girl wrapped in nervous energy. She is the you from Tumaar, before you found courage at the bottom of a fellip bottle.
The Peacekeeper had never given your thoughts an opportunity to wander; you owe this girl the same.
You say the same empty words, "It will get better," until later when she climbs on top of you, trying to burrow her way inside.
And when she breathes into your skin, "I have credits," you know you have prepared her well.
You called your first on Tumaar the Peacekeeper to distinguish him in your mind, but the rest after have truly lived up to the title. They walk the same, frell the same, use phrases like, "reduce fluid levels," and "contamination." They wield words like weapons and call you a beautiful tralk, but you have been named worse; you have lived a reality they will never know.
Yet nothing you've heard in five cycles could prepare you for him, a Peacekeeper who does not act like one at all.
You enter the room you've purchased for the night, shrugging off his distance as you remove your shoes. You recite the basics -- menu prices for time frame and extras for special requests. He assures you he has credits, but you were never in any doubt about his currency.
You take comfort in the routine, showing the restraints in the room, making sure the cooler is well stocked with fellip nectar. His silence makes you wary, though you can't determine why.
Instead you go on the offensive by grabbing him through his leathers as you speak, anything to get a reaction out of his cold gaze, reach beyond the wall he's erected. He is heavy against your palm and for a moment you think you've broken through; but he wrenches your hand free, growling, "Don't want more," at your offer of other services.
It's fine, you think as you massage the twinge of pain from your wrist; everything is fine, because this is not the first time you've had to draw a client out of their comfort zone and it certainly won't be the last. You never would've lasted five cycles if you weren't good at what you do.
Over drinks he tells you he doesn't like to play games. He asks your name -- a question you've anticipated -- and you pronounce it clearly, wanting to see how his lips form the word. And when he says his name is John you wonder what else he is lying about.
You try (fail) to seduce him; strip yourself of barriers but leave him with his armor. You straddle his lap as he sits in a chair, rub yourself against him because you think he'd like that; will accept what you offer. The rebuke stings as he pushes you away, fellip clutched in his hand like a lifeline.
You almost say: frell you. Nearly throw his credits back in his face, but when you open your mouth you say, "Wait," instead.
He pauses a few steps from the door, turns. You have his attention now. "Sometimes... a lot of times... they just talk."
Your mouth snaps shut after the invitation escapes, wondering what provoked you to utter such words. Your business is sex; the occasions you offer conversation are rare, and certainly for those more deserving.
And yet... there is something about this male, this John, that compels you to extend yourself. Now that the words are out of your mouth you cannot take them back.
So you keep his currency and pull your clothes back on while he grabs two fresh bottles of fellip for you both. He spins a tale about a girl ("It's always about a girl") and love and regrets. He talks until the words slur incomprehensibly, and he is unsteady on his feet as he rises. You have no offer of comfort for him this time, just a simple wish: "I hope you find her."
John leaves before you can ask her name.
You will always remember the phrase, old sex and loneliness, as soft lips drag across your sweat-soaked skin after a spirited frelling; even if the one currently lying next to you is not the one who said it. You will always remember because, eventually, sex will not be enough to hold you. The memories you keep and the stories you've been told; these things, you find, are significant.
These things, you realize, will influence your next life, your new identity.
For now, you keep Oreme for yourself, until a new name takes shape.