Weeks passed, beginning to push the broil of summer heat out of the city and let in bone-chilling nights. Jun and I progressed as slow as the seasons, only speaking to each other on the weekends or during the occasional phone call in the dry evenings. As fall came into view on the September calendar, I cut from myself the weights holding me back from everything I wanted.
Well, I held hands with her on the way home from a date. One step at a time.
Meanwhile, we reached the point in our relationship where we shared stories about injuries from childhood. It was a familiar feeling, sharing such inconsequential things with someone. However, I kept much of my real scars beneath the skin.
Jun had a scar on her elbow from sliding across hardwood floors in her socks and lifted her hair to show a cut just above her nape from falling down some stairs. I revealed a long ragged line on my left knee from being a stupid kid on a bike, going off ramps and giving no fucks.
I scoffed in the face of her laughter. “What? I thought making a ramp out of dirt for my bike was a good idea at the time!”
She covered her mouth. “I know, I get that, but it sounds like you went through a lot of trouble just to—” A whimsical melody played through the air for a moment before Jun took out her phone. “Uh, sorry.”
With a glance she ended the call without picking up. “Stupid telemarketers again.”
“Again? That’s, like, the third time tonight.”
“Jeez, what’s so special about you?”
She twisted my arm around my back. “Oh, thanks. That’s a great way to put it.”
I overpowered her with brute strength and stiffened my arm at normal hand-holding height. “Just messing with you.”
Try as she might she couldn’t budge my arm. “Ugh. I feel cheated.”
“So do something about it.”
She stuck her tongue out at me.
I yawned in the face of her frustration. “So, want to call it quits for the night?”
“Not really.” Looking around the intersection, she muttered, “I mean, my apartment is pretty close to here.”
Adrenaline surged through my stomach for a moment as I squeezed her hand. “I haven’t seen your place yet.”
Her face tensed. “Uh, we don’t have to go there. It’s not that great.”
“It doesn’t have to be great. I want to see it. We spend too much time at my place anyway.” A change of scenery would’ve been nice, if anything, though we burned through a good chunk of my music collection thanks to hanging out there.
I squeezed her hand and bumped her shoulder. “Come on, it’ll be fun.”
She mumbled something to herself, eyes to the pavement, and yanked me across the street.
The journey did not take long. If anything, the trip through the chrome-clad lobby and up the spacious tiled elevator took longer. The apartment complex itself went around a central courtyard, a giant square with a hole all the way down the center for a good ten floors. I mean, the fact it had a lobby and it already blew my own place out of the water. Little bounces of excitement kept my heels off the floor as we ascended. Imagining her apartment, I saw a pristine and finely decorated suite-type living area with a lot of white with darker furniture. Maybe a red rug in the dining area.
Her palm started to sweat when she stopped us in front of door #923. “You’ll have to wait outside a minute.”
Letting go of her hand, I stuck mine in my pockets. “Oh yeah? What for?”
“It’s, uh, a little messy. Could you give me a sec?” Her trembling fingers fumbled with her keys.
I shrugged. “I’ll even turn around so I don’t see inside when you open it.”
Jun let out a mutter of thanks as I turned around, finally negotiating the lock. She scarcely gave me a chance to take a peek before sliding herself inside. During the minutes that passed, I leaned on the railing over the central donut hole of the building. One set of rails sat one top of a thick glass wall, while another sat about a foot on the far side of the first. It probably kept people from falling off well enough, but all I could think about was the opportunity to pour a drink on someone relaxing in the courtyard of bushes, benches, and trees.
Another minute passed and I ended up playing a game on my phone. The occasional shuffle of what I assumed was trash bags sounded from the other side of her front door, breaking the concentration needed to play an otherwise masterful game of Tetris.
I got worried around my third Game Over.
Knocking on the door, I called, “Jun, you okay?”
Frustrated exertions sounded from inside. “Y-yeah! I’m fine! Everything’s fine. Come on, get in there!” The last part probably wasn’t meant for me.
That shouldn’t keep me from using it as an excuse to enter, though. With a twist of the doorknob I pushed the door inward against a bubble of cool air trying to force its way past me. My eyes quickly adjusted to the darkness and I saw exactly why Jun took so long.
It was a long apartment, stretching through to the outer walls of the building. A living room and kitchen took up the main area while a bathroom, bedroom, and utility closet occupied the remaining space along the left wall. A counter separated the kitchen from the living room. Standing frozen in front of a garbage chute was Jun, a black trash bag taking the business end of her foot as she tried to kick it down the chute.
Besides that trash bag, a dozen more lined the wall from the entrance to the closet door. A series of stains marred the carpet while a pair of tall step-open trash cans spilled their contents out from under their lids as if vomiting fruit peels and microwave dinners. In the living room a pair of couches made a right angle with a coffee table in their crux, all facing a wall-mounted TV. Beyond them was a sliding glass door to a spacious balcony. Articles of clothing sat scattered around both couches while a six pack and a half of beer bottles stood upright on the table. To top it all off, the sink in the kitchen overflowed with dirty dishes.
“Holy crap,” I said. I think I stepped on a potato chip on my way around the kitchen counter.
Jun dropped what she was doing and confronted me. “Wh-why did you come in? I’m not ready to—”
“You’d need the rest of the night to clean all this up.” Figuring I might as well help, I picked up one of the trash bags and carried it over to the chute.
She clenched her fists. “It wouldn’t have taken that long, I just have to get this stupid. Bag. Into. The. Chute!” Every word was punctuated by a kick to the shining black bag.
I motioned for her to move out of the way. Wrenching what little she managed to shove into the chute, I grabbed an empty bag from the box she placed on the counter and opened the full one. I had to make sure to breathe through my mouth as I transferred some garbage to the new one. Jun, though indignant and grumbling, held open the new one.
Once both bags fell down the chute, I went to the bathroom to wash my hands. The sink was stained.
“How long’s it been like this?” I asked.
She looked around. “Uh, I guess I’ve always been a bit messy. So, a while?”
I blinked and wiped my hands on my shirt. “I’ll be honest, Jun. This is pretty gross.”
She stood in the living room among her mess, arms crossed. “I thought you wanted to see my apartment?”
“Yeah. But it’s covered in trash.”
Jun’s lips molded into a grimace and she shifted her weight onto one leg. “I told you I was cleaning up. You could’ve waited.”
“Alright, yeah, I kinda barged in, but come on.” I motioned toward the rest of her apartment. “I can’t believe you live in this mess! Your stuffs just covered in garbage!”
“I told you to wait. And at least I have stuff.”
A sarcasm-drenched laugh crossed my lips. “Oh, fine. Because this is about who has the most stuff. Sorry for not owning a fancy couch to spill beer on. But, you know, keep avoiding the subject.”
Her foot stamped onto the carpet. “The subject is, if you can live how you want, then so can I. You don’t have the right to tell me how clean to keep my apartment.”
“That doesn’t mean you should drown in your own shit. This cannot be healthy, Jun.”
Standing opposite each other in her living room, we both waited for the other to say something. I could have continued my angry tirade about the state of her apartment, while she could have retaliated with words expressing her right to be as messy as she wanted. The thought that I overreacted entered my mind, but was quickly pushed out by pride.
“I think we should call it a night,” Jun said, her stance unmoving.
“Yeah. Probably.” Before I walked through the open door, I said, “See you at work.”
I felt her footfalls through the floor behind me. “No, you won’t.”
She shut the door behind me and locked it with a click. The frustration clouding my head kept me from going back at any point during the walk home.
* * *
With one leg crossed over the other, I waited in the corner of the meeting room for the rest of the team. Angela, who got there first, subjected me to some rambling about what she wants to do with her hair. Apparently the ability to fly really limits your hair options when you work in an office. Whenever she gave me the chance to give a suggestion, she shot down every one. The leftover sizzle of frustration from last night didn’t help the conversation.
Soon enough, the other three opened the door and let the sounds of the bustling office come crashing into the meeting room. Once the door closed with a sharp click, it disappeared. That was some extreme soundproofing, guys. Good job.
Sylvia and I shared a stiff glance before she stood at the head of the table. “Alright, so we’ve decided to build ourselves a new official website. The current one’s outdated and, with all the new tools available to us, we can really streamline things.”
As the others talked about what the new site would need, such as which platform to utilize, the front page design, and prevailing colors, I sat by and waited for a good time to jump into the conversation.
“How about kind of a ‘Meet the Team’ page?” Angela said.
Sylvia gave an intrigued tilt of her head. “So, maybe a picture of Tia, Charles, Ron, and the rest of them? Standing in a line, looking at the camera might be a simple way to do it, then we would just need a little blurb for each.”
Scott interjected with, “Might be a little plain, though. Gotta keep it original, leave an impression. Maybe a little effect for each one?”
Angela perched on the back of her chair. “Yeah, like that. Something for the techs would be cool, too.”
While Chelsea and Angela contemplated, Sylvia turned to me. “Mr. Cash, you’ve been rather quiet. What are your thoughts?” That damn Stepford Mom smile she wore was like sandpaper against my last shreds of restraint.
I smiled as well. “I don’t know about you, but I think we should emphasize how clean our workspace is. Give off a real professional feeling, to show that our techs can be trusted.”
Sylvia wetted her red lips in silence.
We held a glaring contest while the meeting dragged onward.
Once we broke off to start the first phases of work on the new site, Sylvia caught me before I could head for my cube. “Excuse me, Mr. Cash?”
I tensed. “What’s up?”
“Might I speak with you for a moment? In Tia’s office?”
No idea why we had to go there. Regardless, I shrugged and let her lead the way. From behind her arms swung stiff at her sides and the clicks of her heels echoed through the office. She wrenched the door open and closed it behind herself after holding it open for me.
Tia was eating a bowl of instant noodles at her desk. “Uh. Excuse you.” She held the little cup between her thumb and index claws while Sylvia closed the blinds and locked the door.
A swift slap on my shoulder and Jun’s voice came next. “Don’t bring that crap to work with you! I’m your supervisor!”
I turned to see Sylvia standing there wearing a very un-Sylvia-like pout. “Just trying to drive my point home.”
A grimace. “Do you want to go home, then? Because you’re definitely not focusing on your work today.”
“I can do my work just fine.”
“Then don’t try to ‘drive your points’ during a meeting. We can talk about it later.”
“We’re talking about it now.”
Her hands raised in front of her, as if trying to grasp what I said. “Why does this bother you so much?”
“Because it’s fucking disgusting, that’s why. What’s bothering me is that you live in filth and you don’t even care.”
“How clean I keep my apartment’s none of your business.”
“It became my business when we started this whole thing.” I motioned between us, showing what I meant by “this whole thing.”
But she rolled her eyes. “Then you don’t have to come over.”
“Come on, I’m pretty sure that people have gotten sick and died from less filth.”
“Huh. Really.” She wasn’t buying it.
Time to ease into some kind of resolution, if only to keep the argument from dragging on. “How about this: I can come over sometime— whenever you’re comfortable— and we can do some late-summer cleaning. I won’t say anything else about it.”
She stared at me in silence. Thanks to the soundproof walls, all I heard was the sound of Tia slurping her damn noodles.
Shaking me off, she said, “Sorry, I’ll be too busy swimming in garbage for that,” and opened the door.
Weights sank into my gut as it clicked shut behind her. Alone with Tia, I slumped into one of the chairs in front of her desk and put a hand over my eyes.
“Mm. You know,” Tia said with her mouth full, “I thought about kicking you guys out.” She swallowed. “But that was worth it.”
A sigh. “Shut up.”
“Hey, you don’t get to tell me that. You barged in here without permission.” She held the cup of noodles up to her lips and gently blew on it. Looking closely, I saw a flicker of flame arc from her lips to the broth.
“Sorry. I just followed her in here.”
“But for real, I don’t know what’s going on, but get over it and get back to work.”
Standing up, I cracked my neck and said, “I think I’ll take my lunch early today.”
“Would you just leave already? My raid group just messaged me.” Hunkering down at her computer, a bunch of 3D characters and horizontal bars of varying colors filled the screen.
* * *
Steam rose from the other side of the sushi train, the scent of rice and fish filling the air like cotton. While the chefs were hard at work slicing up raw fish, I fidgeted in my hard bar stool. The dread of going back to the office dampened my appetite.
Scott, sporting a loud pink polo shirt, snatched a plate of eel. “What can I say? You fucked up.” Clearly proficient with chopsticks, he cut a slice in half and popped it in his mouth. “You don’t go into your girl’s room and tell her it’s too messy.”
“You didn’t see it.”
“What, did she have tampons lying around? That’s about the worst I can think of.”
I filed through my memories of the apartment. “No, I don’t think so.”
“Then, I promise you, it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been.” He ate the rest of the eel in one bite. Guess he got impatient. “Besides, we men don’t have much room to talk. Most of us shit up our places just as much.”
“I said ‘most of us,’ you freak.” He slurped up some rice and fish.
“Either way, I don’t know where to go from here.” Only then did I notice the difference in height regarding our stacks of plates. His grew three times faster than mine, while I just hoped he didn’t ask to split the bill.
“Just go down on her and she’ll be happy in the morning.”
It took a hand over my mouth to keep the food from spilling out. “Pff. We’re not quite there yet.”
“Oh, my bad. When did you start going out?”
“Uh. About a month ago, I think?”
Scott raised an eyebrow at me. “For real? Damn, you work slow. No wonder she’s pissed. Probably building up all kindsa sexual tension. Prolly furiously masturbates every night because you won’t do anything.”
If I hadn’t finished my glass of water I’m sure I would’ve choked on it. “Ahem. Anyway.”
“Yeah, yeah. Go on.”
“More than anything, though, I feel like she’ll get sick and die there.”
He nodded. “Mm. That’s true. Easier to get sick when everything’s dirty. You tell her that?”
The blood drained from my face. “Uh. No, not really.”
A faint chuckle sounded from my coworker. “Man, you don’t say anything right, you don’t fuck her like you should, and you talk shit about her apartment. All I gotta say is: good luck.”
Looking back, I remember that nothing I said expressed what I wanted to say. Instead I focused on the mess instead of her. Not only that, I provoked her at work. No wonder she was mad.
Upon incredibly idiotic realization, I hugged my upset stomach and bent over in disgust. “I think I fucked up.”
Scott chuckled and grabbed another plate. “Welcome to the conversation.”
We called for the check. He asked to split the bill in exchange for listening.
* * *
Either from the guilt or the fear, I didn’t speak with Sylvia for the next couple days. Whenever I needed to ask a question at work, I just went to someone else on the team. At least the work on the site was more familiar than other tasks at Falling Leaves, but that didn’t quash the uneasy feeling I developed after talking to Scott. If anything, it gave me a lot of spare time to think to myself.
Looking at my relationship with Jun logically, she was clearly angry despite how much she apparently liked me. I never saw her so angry, so I probably stepped on a real landmine. And that’s disregarding my general foot-in-mouth tendencies, so she probably took some things I said the wrong way.
Wednesday evening, and I once more found myself listening to music and drinking old beer. Thinking of things to do, it was a tossup between going out to grab some fast food, making something myself, or calling up Jun to see if she wanted to hang out and possibly feed me.
I checked my bank balance on my phone. Current balance: $you don’t have a stable balance (USD).
I looked at the state of my kitchen. It needed restocking.
Mooch Mode activate, take two. Though I felt pretty shitty calling her for such a stupid reason, a few pokes at the screen and it was too late to turn back.
Her voice came among a mess of crinkling background noise. “Hello?”
My lips froze together for a second. “Ahem. Uh. Hey, Jun, it’s Lennard.” So smooth.
“Yeah, hey, what’s up?” At least she didn’t sound particularly angry. The good sign helped me shake off the stiffness.
“I was wondering if you wanted to, uh, grab some dinner tonight? Maybe? Unless you’re busy. You sound busy. You know what? I’ll start over. Are you busy?” The smoothest.
The background static buzzed in my ear for a moment. The next, she burst out laughing into her receiver. “Pfff, jeez! Take a breath, Len.”
Excellent, my cunning plan to act like an absolute idiot paid off. “Ha. I breathe when I want. So, you up for it?”
“Hmm. Well, I’m sort of busy, but—”
She would be; she’s a busy girl. That, and she was probably still mad at me. “Hey, no problem. We can go out another night.” Couldn’t imagine why she’d want my company before we straightened out the argument we had.
“No, wait! If you leave from your place right now then I’ll definitely be done! So, want to, uh, come over tonight?”
At that moment, a doctor might’ve diagnosed me with heart flutter. “You sure?”
A sigh of white noise. “Only if you are.”
Probably as good an invitation I should expect. “We can talk more when I get there.”
Instead of getting a taxi like Jun would’ve done, I took the bus. One bus route ran right through her neighborhood, though I had to wait a good twenty minutes for the right one.
Still wearing what I had at work— white button-up shirt with rolled-up sleeves and a pair of khakis— I power-walked through the rich lobby too fast for any normal person. If I wore a blazer with a briefcase tucked under my arm I might’ve looked like a real adult businessman. Like the people milling around the glass-walled first floor.
Feeling the eyes of well-dressed people drawing towards me got me to walk slower. I clearly didn’t belong. I counted my blessings, however, when I remembered they had a selection of elevators, keeping me from having to stand with anyone for ten floors.
After a few deep breaths I knocked on room #923. Some light footsteps later, and a symphony of locks unlatched from the other side. Jun pushed the door open and, as before, a plume of inside air rushed past me. It actually smelled a lot better than before.
The tanuki wore an apron and white health mask, which she pulled down around her neck. “Hi.”
“Uh. Hi.” I looked past her and saw the floor of the entryway. “Are you cleaning?” Probably shouldn’t have sounded so amazed.
She sighed and leaned against her doorframe. “Yeah, sorry. And, uh. Sorry.”
“For—! Well, for getting so mad before. I just kinda, I dunno, blew up in your face and—”
“What? No, come on. You’re right, it’s not up to me what your apartment looks like.”
She straightened her back. “Hey. No. Shut up. I’m apologizing.”
“No, you shut up. You don’t have to.” At her doorstep we stared at each other, neither budging from who needed to apologize the most. As tension built up, I let it all out with a sigh. “Well. I feel silly.”
“You have any more of those aprons? I’ll help.”
“That’d be great, actually. There’s another one in the kitchen. Drawer to the left of the stove.”
Inside, all of the black bags from before were gone. Beyond that, some of the dishes were drying on a rack by the sink and the various articles of clothing were tidied up. There wasn’t much for me to help her with besides giving the living room a good once-over and picking of some of the trash she missed. She managed to remove all the clothes scattered around the living room. That was a shame; I wanted to see her reaction to me finding one of her bras or something.
First, we shoved another two full trash bags down the chute. Looking over the state of her kitchen, Jun said, “Question.”
“How do you usually get mold off dishes?”
I leaned over the sink, saw a couple tiny circles of purple, and reflexively covered my mouth and nose. “Throwing them away usually works.”
We filled her dishwasher with ceramic and switched it to some kind of super heavy-duty mode. Some dishes didn’t fit, so I washed and she dried. A pleasant lemon scent filled the kitchen in place of the acrid fumes that spewed from the sink before. By the time I cleaned the sink and ran the garbage disposal, my white apron received a warm-colored painting of leftover food. I might’ve flashed back to my teenage years, doing the dishes at my parents’ house.
Jun stumbled over to a couch and let herself flop onto it, leaving only her tail visible above the cushions.
“I agree,” I said, “that’s probably enough.” A couple stacks of unopened mail sat in the corner and several fuzzy pink blankets draped lazily atop the couches, but at least I could see the floor.
Jun mumbled something into the couch cushions.
“Could you try that again?” I asked, approaching the living room.
Looking over the back of the couch, Jun turned onto her side, her mess of hair splaying across a pillow. I actually didn’t see her outfit until then because of the apron she wore. It looked like the same summer dress she wore the first time we had dinner together, sans the cardigan, thus leaving her shoulders bare except for the thin straps from the dress.
Jun glanced up at me. “I wanted to make something for us to eat, but now I’m too tired.” She stretched her arms and legs in all directions and flopped back down like a ragdoll and nuzzling the pillow with a sigh. The light hem of her dress hiked ever further up her smooth, healthy thighs as she closed her eyes.
Avert eyes, remove apron from self. “Wanna get some takeout?”
Her eyes shot open. “That sounds really good, actually.”
One internet search later and we got a family-sized order of Chinese food from a place down the street. We had it delivered. In the meantime, TV.
* * *
I sat on the couch that was against the wall, while she sat on the other one. It would’ve felt rather distant if she didn’t rest her legs on top of mine, which I propped up on the coffee table. Said table, in the time it took us to eat our fill, became littered with white Chinese food containers and two plastic bags of soy sauce pouches and chop sticks. I just hoped we had the energy to clean it all up again.
Meanwhile, the credits rolled on the first movie of the evening: some kind of action flick.
“Well, that was pretty dumb,” I mumbled, shifting my legs so I could slouch more. “I actually meant to see this one in theatres, too.”
Jun almost fumbled a container of chow-mein in her hands as she lifted her feet so I could adjust. “It’s not great, yeah. It had pretty explosions, at least.”
“At least. Sorry for picking that one.”
She chuckled. “Wanna watch another one?”
“Sure, you can pick this time.”
Putting her food onto the coffee table, she stood up and sidled over to my couch. With a hum she sat next to me and rested her head on my chest, bent knees once more keeping her dress from covering the majority of her legs. And I was just slouched enough to accommodate her as she flipped through the list of movies.
Slipping an arm around her stomach, I said, “Hi.”
“Heh heh. Hi.”
I leaned down to her fuzzy ears, which twitched with the feeling of my breath, and whispered sensually, “Your head’s totally in my way.” A couch pillow bopped me on the head. “But really, let’s adjust a bit.”
After some shuffling I lay along the length of the couch with a pillow at my back. When I ushered her to join me again, she hesitantly lay alongside me. My heart beat a little quicker and she probably knew it, what with one of her big tanuki ears pressing against my sternum. In the end, we both melted into the couch with a pair of sighs.
My arm, as if of its own volition, reached around her back to her shoulder. On the way there, I found that her dress was made of such light material that I could feel her bra strap underneath. Deep breaths. Reaching further south along Jun’s body, I brushed a couple fingers along the fur of her fluffy tail.
“Ah!” Her whole body jolted on top of me and my hands both lifted into the air.
Pin-pricks of embarrassment drenched my head and shoulders. “Uh, sorry. Am I not supposed to—”
“No, no, it’s okay.” She pressed her soft chest against me and giggled. “It just tickles a little.” I felt the shape of a smile press against my shirt.
My fingers returned, experiencing the softness of the fur of her tail and making me wonder if she used some sort of tail conditioner for it. Every time I stroked along the base she twisted and pulled her legs to her chest in laughter.
“Haha stop it!”
“Nah.” I tried not to smile as I gently groped at the fluffier end of the tail.
“Pfff ssstop it! Khhaha— help, I’m being sexually harassed!” She reared up and bumped her shoulder against my chest while I wrapped my arms around her shoulders. Still laughing to ourselves, we adjusted once more with her resting face-down along my front. Careful not to tickle her, I hugged her tail within my arms as well, doubling her huggability and softness. My fingers reflexively stroked the fur in the natural direction, easing the stress of the day for both of us.
She chose a fantasy movie. As it started, we gradually adjusted our position on the couch. With her weight and warmth, I felt my eyes grow heavy. Sounds from the movie became fingers drawing red lines on the curtain of my eyelids, while comfort took precedence over interest in the plot.
Every little jostle of movement and wrinkle of clothes brought me back to reality for a moment. I slouched further down the couch while Jun sidled upward. She fell asleep, too. Her hair and ears in my face, I found my arms wrapped tighter around her than before. Our legs entwined on their own. I could no longer feel her heat by virtue of feeling so incredibly warm already. Her face rested so close to mine.
Opportunity knocked when the proper thoughts occurred to me. Red expectation filled my face and I said, “Hey,” with a tap on her back.
“Mm.” Her fingers twitched and she turned her head to face me, eyes half-closed and lips half-smiling. She muttered, “Hey.”
Placing a hand on the back of Jun’s head, I pushed us closer and kissed her. Her lazy lips stayed a little parted, pursing against mine just before separating. When I let my head rest back on the pillow, her eyes widened as if in disbelief.
Several blinks later she said, “I feel cheated.”
Removing my arms from around her, I laced my fingers behind my head and relaxed. “So do something about it.”
Her expression changed. Where there was once surprise and unsureness, calm determination took over. After a moment of contemplation, Jun pulled herself off my chest and straddled me. Though her expression didn’t change, I swear I heard her heart. Then again, it might’ve been mine. With her hands grasping my head, she closed her eyes and leaned in.
The moment our lips touched I felt awash with relief. I long since forgot the feeling, to be so wanted by the one you want. The moment pushed every insecurity and uncertainty to the back of my mind. Between light pecks and slow caresses our breaths grazed each other’s cheeks.
She said, “If cleaning my place gets you this excited—” I teased her lips with my tongue, “— Mm! I might make it a daily thing.”
Sitting up and kissing her neck, I said, “You’d run out of stuff to clean eventually.”
I felt her tickled laughter through her skin. “Nah, never.”
Her phone rang.
We both froze, looking at each other to see if she would move to pick it up. “Uh! S-sorry.” With that, she pulled it out of her dress pocket, ended the call, and tossed it on the other couch. Before it hit the cushions, she dove back in, knocking my head back into the pillow. Though it interrupted our rhythm, we soon found it again.
A minute later, and it went off again.
Her lips froze against mine before she drew herself away. “Uh. One second. Probably telemarketers again.”
I think she messed up my hair. “By all means.” Apparently I messed up hers. Plus, one strap of her dress slid down her shoulder.
It took some doing to untangle herself from me before snatching her noisy phone and stomping into her bedroom. Only after she shut the folding shutters behind her did I assume the call to be important. At the very least it wasn’t something that could be resolved by telling them they have the wrong number. While I adjusted the boner in my pants, she told off whoever was on the other end of the call. I’m sure if I tried to listen I could hear her half of the conversation, but she went into her bedroom for a reason and I wasn’t about to intrude. Not until my heart calmed down, at least.
By the time it did, the stern words from the next room came to a halt. With a clatter Jun opened the shutters to her room and walked over to the couch, watching the floor on the way there.
I put an arm around her and shook her a bit. “You okay?”
We shared a glance. “That was— ugh. You know what? I’ll tell you later.” With that, she put both hands on my chest and gently nudged me back onto the couch. “I’m not gonna let that ruin this chance.” Though her choice of words worried me, her kisses distracted me real quick. Between breaths she said, “You wanna, uh, move this to the next room?” and motioned toward her bedroom. Her lips heated against mine, eyes glazed over and lips half smiling.
“I can be convinced.”
* * *
A lone lamp on her bedside table kept the space lit enough to see. Clothes, charger cables, and fashion supplies sat strewn across the floor. I assumed she hadn’t cleaned in there yet. My heart beat in my ears at a regular rhythm as I took in the sight of her queen sized bed.
She led me inside by the hand. We didn’t need to speak to know what to do next, each step signalling an article of clothing removed. At the foot of the bed she turned to me and unbuttoned my shirt, while I reached across her back and unzipped her dress. As she got lower on my shirt I leaned down to smell her hair and slide the straps down her arms.
Her voice trembled into my ears. “U-uh, Len?”
I stopped. “What’s up?”
“Y-you don’t have to do this with, uh, me, you know.”
She cleared her throat and managed to look up at me. “I-I’m not that great to look at, and th-the tail’s probably pretty gross, but— uh— I can look like whoever you want!” She pulled something from the pocket of her dress. A leaf. Pressed and prepared in plastic to keep it from crumbling. As I let her words sink in, a sad determination crossed her features. More than herself, she wanted me to enjoy our time together.
I snatched the leaf from her, tossed it into the corner, and kissed her before she could object. Into her lips I breathed, “Tonight I’m doing this with you or not at all.”
The rest of our clothes came off as we fell onto the bed. My fingers felt at the softness along her belly and hips, taking in her heat and adding my own. I lost myself in her full breasts, herself giggling from my stubble. Hands traced across my collarbones and down my chest, teasing me with fingertips and sheepish laughter. Sweat slid down my back as we took turns between each other’s legs, as if to prime us for the next stage.
Jun provided the protection, as I didn’t have any. Although, it took a minute of searching through her bedside table drawer to find it. When she had trouble ripping off the packaging, I took charge and set her down on her side, handling the condom myself while she seemed to mentally prepare herself. We shared nods of readiness.
Jun’s moan broke loud and clear through the dim, shook the windows, and tensed my ears. The steam-slick tightness caught me off-guard, leaving me gasping at the long-forgotten feeling of fleshly intimacy. Sweat shined in the glow of the bedside lamp while the rest of us moved drenched in shadows.
The silence begged me to speak. “Mm, how’s that?”
“Oh! Ah, i-it’s good. Ha.”
I laughed internally and leaned down to her ears. “Just ‘good?’ I can do whatever you want. Come on, just tell me.”
As I lifted her hips from the bed to grind inside her from another angle, she used her tail like a cushion. As I continued, her hands grasped at the pillows and sheets around her, frantic, eyes wide and smile shining. “Ah! Oh, wow. Y-you’re doing a-amazing. I— Ah! — don’t even know how you’re d-DOING that. Oh! I don’t th-think I should be giving you directions! Ahaha!”
I thrust up to the base and held it there, twitching inside as I leaned down to face her. Without provocation she wrapped her arms around my neck and we kissed, warm saliva childishly exchanging between us. I embraced her as well, pulling her upright with me. The infinite softness of our melancholic rhythm kept my head in the clouds. Our fingers and palms touched each other not with urgency, but rather as if with fear of breaking the subjects of our pleasure.
When the chance arose, I felt at the dark “mask” of skin around Jun’s eyes. All I could compare it to was the same dark skin seen under my eyes, like charcoal brushed across the skin. It made her eyes all the brighter. My fingers traced around her eyelids, sometimes slipping a little, sometimes twitching with errant bodily movements. And yet, not once did she blink. Instead, smiling and gazing at me with longing, Jun looked happy simply to have me so captivated. And trust. So much trust. My eyes grew blurry and I kissed her again.
The rustle of sheets, the wet slaps of sex, and the clumsy sounds of kisses blocked out whatever noises the city below might have made. Soaring above the Earth we gently, intentionally, rose to the highs of joy together.
* * *
Still panting, catching our breath, we lay slumped on her pillows in a heap. Despite the fatigue we both managed to stay in each other’s arms. Sweat and saliva and lubrication wetted the sheets, but I didn’t care and she didn’t seem to mind the mess. Instead we faced each other with lips inches apart and breaths warming our already-hot cheeks. She’d never looked so lovely to me.
Jun spoke first. “Wanna spend the night?”
Her words, an injection of warmth filling me from the inside, forced a smile on my lips. “Haha, yeah. Sounds good to me.”
For a moment, she tried to lift herself from the bed, only for exhaustion to kick in and bring her down onto the covers again. “Ugh, you— heh— really did a number on me.”
I leaned down and kissed her as she closed her eyes. “Here, I’ll clean up.”
Picking up the condom, I realized how very naked I was. With the humid air to keep me warm, however, I embraced my nudity, threw away the trash, and wiped myself down a little with a towel in the bathroom. She left a lot of discarded clothes in there, too.
Meanwhile, Jun’s skin seemed to glow in the dark as I made my way back onto the bed. She faced away, passively inviting me to ogle her rear and hips while I lay behind her. As soon as I attempted to spoon, I realized the problem.
“Mhm?” Well, she was comfy.
“Your tail’s a little, uh,” I brushed her tail away, but there was no helping the fact that it was part of her body.
“Oh! Sorry, I can just—”
“No, hold on.” I caught a whiff of whatever shampoo she used to clean her tail. Some kind of flowery scent. “Actually, this is fine.” Tugging her closer to me with arms around her middle, I buried my face in the fluff of her tail. Like a naturally heated pillow I rested my head against it. “I kinda like it.”
“Are you sure? You don’t have to—”
I squeezed one of her boobs. “Shut up and go to sleep.” Really, though, her breasts had just the right weight and softness.
“Ah! You—! You pig!” With a twist she turned over on the bed, taking her tail away from me. “No tail pillow for you.”
I sensed opportunity knocking. “Aw, now I have to be all face-to-face with you all night?” Before she could answer, I inched forward and pecked her on the lips. “Tragic.”
A moment passed. Jun scooted closer to me and nuzzled her cheek under my neck. “Goodnight, Lennard.”
Neither of use seemed to mind that we still had work in the morning, and I couldn’t help but tickle her tail at every opportunity throughout the night.