As he’d pointed out to her before, Cygnus had a certain fragrance about her that was strangely alluring for anyone he’d even dated. Something like the smell of freshly baked French fries, Iain had finally narrowed it down. And he wasn’t sure if this again was something to do with his brain parasites, but at least it was something positive as opposed to the blast of negative he was sure was going to someday give him PTSD.

Just slightly overbaked. He wasn’t sure how well that worked for him, although he had always like the smell of French fries. Who didn’t? And that was another reminder of something he could never experience again. He’d tried all the food on the ship, or so Skipper had claimed. Nothing remotely potato related was among the choices. Nothing the ship provided came even close.

“Hey,” Cygnus complained, tearing him from his reverie and back to the task at hand while he was enjoying the smell wafting off her. “Pay attention. Your hands are slipping!”

Iain was standing right behind Cygnus, her naked back pressed against him, while he tried to help her put together a functional bra from the squares of clothing she’d provided him. Both of them were trying hard to center the squares properly. And her breasts weren’t exactly like any he’d handled before. Well they were, mostly firm to the touch and when pressed, but every once in a while, a finger would just poke right in for a moment. It was distracting, not to mention a little alarming at times. And, with all the close physical contact involved in putting her new outfit together, he was getting quite aroused despite how she physically wasn’t exactly as human as he normally liked. She had to have noticed that by now.

“Spread your fingers out,” Cygnus ordered in a harder tone. “Or this is going to take all day.”

He did as instructed. She took an alluring breath in and let it out.

“There, better, now just hold it up.”

She took in another a breath, and leaned back slightly, enough for him to get another whiff of her scent off her neck. Iain took in another deep breath himself.

“All right,” she said sounding more pleased. “Now just bring your hands down slowly, for some support.”

He shifted his hands down, slowly, as instructed.

“There!” She exclaimed. “Programmed and locked. Now the lower part.”

She turned around, the fabric now covering her breasts, and held out him another square of fabric.

He took it, hesitated a moment.

“Are you all right?” she asked, concern in her voice gain. “You’re producing a more heat than usual.

She touched his cheek and forehead, while pressing the other square into his hand.

“You aren’t becoming ill, are you?” she asked with a twist her lips.

“I’m fine,” he told her. “Really, I am. Quite well.”

“Good,” she told him offering a flirty smirk. “We’ll do you next. I think you’ll look good with something a bit more form fitting.”

Again, pressing that square felt strange, as through there was something there that wasn’t, and something that wasn’t that he thought he saw. The cognitive dissociation was palpable.

When she complained again, he tried to explain.

“It’s tricky,” he told her. “You’re not exactly what I’m used to. At least as far as I can see with the ‘Zos interfering with my perception and everything.”

Cygnus took in a breath, then let it out slowly.

“You’re new with the whole inter-galactic thing, I get it,” she told him, putting her hands on his shoulders gently. Supportive, perhaps. “But if you are going to survive you’d better start adjusting. So here’s a trick you can use.”

She took hold of the wrist of the hand he was holding the square with and slowly, gently moved it between her legs, and then up, until his palm was pressing against her.

“Now close your eyes,” she told him. “It’s easy for the ‘Zos to trick you when it comes to sight and hearing and especially smell, but touch and taste are a different story. So concentrate on those.”

He closed his eyes. Felt her contours underneath the fabric.

“Ah,” Cygnus replied breathily. “That’s better, just move it a little upwards.”

He did as she said.

“No,” she said sharply. “A little too far.”

He stopped abruptly, then moved the fabric back.

“Ah, there, there, that’s better,” she sighed. Iain could swear he felt a shudder under his fingers. It certainly looked like it she was getting off on this, which he figured could only be good.

“Are you sure?” Iain asked, not at all certain, considering what he’d felt, even if he hoped it was what he thought it was.

“It’s good,” she told him. “What’s wrong?”

He opened his eyes, taking a glance at the part of her he’d covered. It looked okay. He stood back up again.

“You don’t exactly feel the way you look,” he confessed.

Cygnus gave him another one of those left cheek dimple-producing smiles. It faded after a moment.

“Is that good or bad?” she wanted to know.

“I’m trying to work that out,” he admitted. “It’s mostly good.”

“You’ll get used to it, usually doesn’t take more than a thousand years or so for males of most species,” she told him.

A thousand years?

“The alternative is spending a very lonely existence out here in the big black,” she continued, then reached out and grabbed a couple the loops of his jeans. “Now, your turn.”

Go to Chapter Twenty One

Go to Chapter Twenty Three

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