Below is the next bit of my novella, Dropping Slow, which I am posting serially during the month of June, as part of the Every Single Day Challenge to raise money for Sharon the Light. If you’re enjoying the story, please feel free to donate via my Crowdrise page ($10 minimum donation) or directly, at this link (no minimum donation). Everyone who donates will receive an ebook copy of Dropping Slow, once it’s all posted (if you donate directly, please leave a comment to let me know!).
This is a PG episode.
There’s glory in sex; it grounds her in her body with pleasure rather than pain or fear; she knows the ways of it and even when it’s awkward–when she has to adjust for her knee or she forgets what Javi or Lin likes–it works the way it’s supposed to because sex is always a little strange and awkward.
She revels in their skin–Javi’s, Lin’s, and her own–loves the heat of it and the way it moves over muscles and bones. Today she runs her hands down Javi’s back and just the feel of his spine under her palms makes her moan as he moves on top of her. The feel of his sides against her inner thighs, his mouth wet on her neck; she wants to swim in him.
After, they lie tangled in her bed. Javi runs his fingers across her face, and she thinks about his dissertation on her hair and Lin’s, which makes her smile at him–happy with the memory, happy it exists, happy at the sensation of his fingertips on her cheeks.
“Is this nice?” he asks her.
“Mmmm. All of you is nice.”
He chuckles, traces the shell of her ear as she shuts her eyes and runs her thumb over his hip bone. Javi’s fingers find the scars by her hairline and pause there before tracing them, as well. “What are these?” he asks softly.
“Hm? I did those. I–the nanites? I thought they itched. Phantom itch.”
“Oh, Tace,” he says, then, maybe a little too casually, “Is the nanites in the head thing new? I never heard of them doing that before.”
“I’m the first.” She opens her eyes to look at him; his face is drawn and he doesn’t return her grin. “Hey. Yavi. It’s okay. Part of the job.” All Corps personnel sign a release for experimental treatment; it goes with the loyalty oath and medical release.
“It shouldn’t be,” Javi says. “You’re–you’re a person. Not a … lab rat or whatever.”
Tace says nothing, because she was or she is, and she can’t figure out how to say that, exactly. Not in a way that will make Javi’s face clear. Not in a way that won’t start an argument she doesn’t want to have. Finally she settles on, “It seems to be working? I need to send them this month’s report.”
“They just have to keep their claws in, don’t they?” Javi asks in a voice like brittle pottery, his eyes somewhere other than the room, the bed.
Tace can’t figure out what to say to help him, but she can remind him that she’s here. She rolls a little further onto him, kisses him. Mouth, nose, forehead. She moves the rest of the way on top of him and puts her hands in his hair, fingers splayed around his ports, tilts his head to kiss his mouth again until his muscles loosen and he melts, returns to her.
“So–there are four candidates for Tentiary?” Tace asks. “That’s not normal, right? I’m not forgetting this?” The Plenum Tentiary is one of the elected positions in their government with actual political power. It was meant to give the common people a say in policy.
Lin and Javi glance at her from where she’s kneeling–carefully; her knee is aching today–to put away their crock pot in a low cabinet. Javi’s chopping vegetables and Lin is filling a pot.
“No, it’s weird,” says Lin, carefully. “Um. After Trini took power, there were some … demonstrations? From the more stringent parts of MonneHome. So they broke in two–the crazies became NatUnion. And then last year the Reform Party sprung up and got some traction, and they’ve got enough members now to be on the ballot. They love your sister.”
“Trini didn’t say anything,” Tace says. “But she doesn’t talk policy with me.” The crock pot safely stowed, Tace sits on the floor and stretches her leg out, starts flexing her quad to try and ease the ache. They’ve gotten used to her random bouts of physical therapy in the house. “Who are you going to vote for?” she asks Lin.
“Probably Spirew Nordole. He’s the GeoUnion candidate.”
Tace considers this, keeps flexing her quad. Later, after dinner, she spends enough time with her handheld that she gives herself a headache, but she wanders out to the front room to find Lin and Javi watching a vid, the world dark outside their windows, his head pillowed on her thigh.
“Why aren’t you voting for Tishone Sprieger?” Tace asks.
Lin looks up. “What?”
“She’s, like, everything you’ve ever wanted … in a candidate–she’s female. Pro-polyamory, anti-Harmonium Corps–which, I might not vote for her, but you’re a, a pacifist egalitarian, Lin–why? Are you crying?”
Lin wipes at her eyes and says, “No, don’t mind me, you know I’m a crier–keep telling me who to vote for, Tace, okay?”
“Linea–” Tace sits on the edge of the couch; Javi’s sitting up and maneuvers behind Linea to put an arm around her, low, on her waist, resting his forehead on the back of Lin’s head.
“I missed you,” Lin says with a sob. She buries her face in her hands. “I’m sorry. I love you whether or not you ever talk politics with me again, T., I promise, but … oh, wow, I just–” She shudders a laugh and a sob, starts crying harder as Javi and Tace both hug her.
“I told you, you should vote for Sprieger,” Javi whispers, and Tace reaches around Lin’s head to swat at his head as Lin laugh-sobs again.
Copyright 2017 by Laura E. Price. Feel free to link to this story–signal boosting is welcome!–but please don’t reproduce it without permission.