M. Religiosa

Emmer toys with his food.

“Aren’t you hungry?”

He sighs. “No, it’s not that, it’s just…” He avoids eye contact. In the glow of her twelve luminous eyes, all food looks terribly real; dead flesh. He shudders to catch a glimpse of his reflection in her regard.

“You’ve been so withdrawn lately. Is it something I said?” She curls a delicate fin against his wrist. He has no blood to chill, and yet; something stirs inside him, an itch, terrible foreboding, builds in his neck.

“No. I… no.” She shuffles delicate blunt feet beneath the skirts of the table, slides one up the ridges of his foreleg, black on green. He shudders, horrified at his reaction. “You’ve been great. It’s just…”

She sighs. There is a long pause, full of vertigo; long familiar to them both. “This isn’t working.”

“No!” He stabs the table in terror; it’s a trial getting his forelimbs unhooked again, a calming one, long familiar. He looks up, looks his death in the eye. A voice beats, deep in his throat, crying in the wilderness of his desire. “I want this… I want it to work. I’m just… scared? I guess. I’ve never done this before.” He laughs, sadly. “Obviously.”

Xiksthan leans forward, kisses him over the many-legged remains of their meal. She is hot and cold, shifting and protean. He has never wanted anything more than this, will never want anything more than this.

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