GYPSY MUSIC: Taraf de Haïdouks, Romano Drom, Besh o Drom, Traio Romano, Gipsy Kings, The Fruit Bats

Characters: The Fabulous Life of... Filthy Rich Billionaires – watch it!

Mikal (mick-ahl): dark red hair, crystal blue eyes, pale skin, lithe form, 5'9.

Background; is half Zercan. Was raised on Earth however as one of the life-givers missed his family and home. Parents died at a young age so he wasn't aware of what he was yet (they wanted to wait until he was older to fully explain). He was left with a hefty inheritance and much insurance money (it should be noted that his grandparents died a few months before his parents. Btw, not super rich but rich enough to travel about; however he mostly does volunteer work in his travels). He floated from orphanage to orphanage living in some good places, some bad places. Once he hit eighteen he decided to travel the world as he felt he didn't belong anywhere. He hates the state of the world and tries his best to make it a better place by volunteering a lot. He has a generally nice disposition but is wary of people and hides his true feelings and tries not to get close to people lest they find out his true feelings.

Zayvin: Black hair, green eyes, pale-ish skin, lithe but well built, 6'1.

Background: He is a full-blooded Zercan and currently owns a chain of retail shops passed down to him by his bearer whilst his giver was a warrior (thus he was raised to have the same stoic disposition despite not having the build of a warrior and no desire to be one). He is a bit of a gruff person with little patience and a wicked bad temper. He tends to not like anyone and spends much of his time travelling about whilst others take care of his businesses for him. He is slightly judgemental but given time will have an open mind. While he may have a cold exterior he is (obviously) fiercely over protective of his mate. While he may appear cold that isn't totally the case in fact he is secretly a poet and has always had an adoration for literature and the fine arts.

Plot: Mikal is living life all lonely and selfless like when Zayvin is on one of his many travels ends up stopping on Earth to do a little exploring as he has heard how backwater it is and wants to see for himself. Upon arrival he is disgusted with everything to do with the place but stays and continues to explore out of morbid curiosity. Then one day he enters a gin joint where Mikal is drinking with some acquaintances. He immediately feels a pull towards Mikal but ignores it the story is told in third person. He squashes the desire to take Mikal for himself and get those away from him but is fascinated by Mikal's demeanour and wonders what a Zercan is doing on Earth. He loathes people touching him, he eavesdrops on Mikal's conversation and once Mikal stands up to get a drink he pulls him out of the bar. He acts possessive and weird and Mikal immediately turns him down despite feeling the pull as well due to being thoroughly creeped out. Zayvin confronts him on how dare he turn down his mate etc. etc. Mikal is confused as fuck and even more freaked out. Zayvin stalks Mikal and refuses to leave him alone. …

Zayvin couldn't fight the grimace enveloping his sharp features as he looked at his surroundings with disdain. He'd been to many a planet but hadn't seen any as primitive as this (save for the uninhabitable, the resource devoid, and war torn). He stood out like a sore thumb as he glanced about the inhabitants of… Earth. While yes the two races where similar in many ways this one seemed to speak much louder and had slightly different eyes… however it was his clothing style, which made him stand out. He was dressed in regular Zercan garb but in this backwater hell it looked odd instead of regal. Determined to explore this place as he had heard more than one rumour about it he set off rehashing the facts Amir had told him over and over again to avoid any faux pas.

I entered the dark bar with a world-weary sigh. I'm in my mid twenties I should be happy to be going out for drinks with some acquaintances but it seems like everywhere I go I run into the exact same fake people. It seems like no matter where I go it's all the fucking same… it's just tedious. I hate most of the people I encounter; I hate most of the world, but really… what else is there?

I sat down at the table with a beer in hand and tried to pretend I was happy to be here. "Mikhal you made it," a blonde woman with corkscrew curls said (I couldn't remember her name for the life of me).

"Yeah I suppose so," I answered in the same quiet tone I always did… people talk way too loud it's really harsh on the ears. The minute I replied though I felt this unexplainable… tug? I can't even explain it… just something instinctively told me I had to follow this feeling. Something just called to me and I whipped around to see where it led to, I looked towards the door and my breath immediately caught in my throat. Standing there looking me straight in the eyes was the most gorgeous man I'd ever seen. With black hair, the same odd cat like eyes as me… except in a brilliant shade of purple, and an aristocratic face full of sharp angles. I wanted to stare at him endlessly, to approach him, to do… something. But I hastily looked away despite my hormones telling me otherwise lest I make a fool of myself.

Almost immediately after I turned away Shawna an overly nice woman (I'm still not sure if she is genuine or if it is all a front) asked curiously, "So where have you been? We've been waiting for you for a while."

"Oh… uhm I don't like to talk about it," I replied a hot blush enveloping his face.

"And why not?" she asked with a raised eyebrow and using a caring tone.

"Lest I become that which I hate," I replied before taking a big gulp off of my drink.

"Now I'm really curious," Richard said before sipping at his bourbon.

"We won't think differently of you, you know," Shawna added.

"Fine… but just know I'm only telling you so I don't get pestered all night. I was volunteering at the women's shelter," I replied refusing eye contact. God I hate talking about my volunteering… don't get me wrong I love what I do and I love many of the people involved but I hate people acting like I'm some kind of martyr or something.

"I don't get it, why would you not want to admit that?" Richard asked looking slightly confused.

"I really hate those people who volunteer only to look good. Like those celebrities who get their pictures taken with AIDs orphans despite not actually doing anything… it's disgusting," I replied with a grimace. "So I just try not to talk about the volunteer work I do very much."

"Wow… that's a really odd way to look at things. Why do you do it anyways?" Blondie asked playing with the olive in her martini.

"To make the world a better place… this place is fucked, right fucked and the people are just as fucked… or well the majority anyways and I refuse to just sit back and watch things get worse and worse instead of at least trying to make a difference."

"So what do you even do at the women's shelter?" Shawna asked curiously.

"I mostly just watch over the kids there and play with them and shit."

"So you like kids then?" Shawna asked.

"Uhm… yeah I guess. I mean I don't think I'm ever going to have any and can't really say I want to have them, but I've always had a liking for them," I replied awkwardly.

"That's so sweet," she said squeezing my bicep and looking as if she was fighting the urge to pinch my cheeks.

I immediately yanked my arm out of her grip and tried not to look too mussed… I've always had a hard time with physical contact. Sure I can handle sex and don't mind touching in a sexual context but if anyone touches me at any other time even casual friendly gestures I just get creeped out. "Please don't touch me," I said trying not to blush again. "I'm sorry… I just am not keen on physical contact with others."

"Don't sweat it," Shawna said with a grin. I nodded thankfully and conversation veered away from me and towards idiotic gossip. The conversation held really no interest to me and now that I wasn't a ball of nerves due to being the centre of attention I couldn't help but think back to that man that entered the bar. A part of me wanted to scan the crowd for him so I could sneak peeks at him… but that would be unwise. It didn't matter how much of an inexplicable urge I had to seek him out… I just couldn't. Rejection is absolutely mortifying, public rejection is even worse, and the last thing I want is to look like some creepy stalker. Why would someone such as him, want someone like me? I'm a dirt-poor orphan with no career, no plans for the future, and a lot of emotional baggage. Then onto my physical appearance… I'm not ugly or anything… but I just look awkward. My cheekbones are too defined and my lips are too full… making me look gross and feminine, my hair is a boring shade of dark red, my skin is a sickly pale, and then to top it off I have freak eyes. Sure he may have the same eyes but contacts with odd pupils are neat, a genetic defect that gives you the appearance of cat eyes is not. And don't even get me started on my body I'm tall and wiry… sure I do have some muscle and stuff but that doesn't really matter when you're born with a small frame. Feeling a sense of despondency I slammed back the rest of my drink and stood up to get another. With a heavy sigh I went back to the bar and wished I actually fit in with my companions. It seems no matter how many cities and countries I visit, no matter how many people I meet I can never find anyone who is on the same 'wave-length' as me.

"Thanks," I mumbled as the bartender passed me another beer. I took a small sip and turned to go back to my table only to have the man from earlier standing right in front of me. As I gazed into the bright purple eyes that looked even more enthralling up close I felt my heart race and my mouth dry. The animalistic side of me that was a raging mess of hormones longed for nothing more than to drag him to my bedroom and have him slam me against the wall.

"We need to talk," he said in an authoritative tone.

"Uhm… about what?" I asked awkwardly.

"About what?" he growled out in a quiet tone. "What do you think?" he spat. Before I could even reply he grabbed me by the arm and pulled me outside. I'd usually protest to someone doing such a thing let alone a stranger but a part of me relished in the touch despite how aggressively it was carried out.

"So… uh what do you want?" I asked awkwardly.

"What do you mean what do I want? You know very well what I want," he snapped and then held out his hand.

A handshake he wants a fucking handshake… what the hell is up with this guy he drags me out of the bar acts all weird and angry and then wants to shake my hand. "Sorry… but uhm… I don't like handshakes… or really any physical contact," I tried to awkwardly explain.

He scoffed and said in an annoyed tone, "you are my mate and we will bond regardless of your aversion to physical contact." Mate? Bond? Okay… this guy is on drugs… hm… what to do? What to do? He clearly isn't sober… or sane so I best tread lightly. God what is it about this guy? What is wrong with me? There's this side of me that yearns for him, I've felt sexual desire before it isn't as if I'm some blushing virgin. But I have never felt desire to this level before, nothing this strong. But on the same notion this guy is creepy and weird. He could very well be mentally ill or on drugs… but whichever it isn't something I want to involve myself with. I have nothing against either group as I after all have worked with both… but the last thing I want to do is get involved with someone like that, yeah it's selfish but I have to look out for myself before all others. I glanced about my surroundings and tried to get my bearings, the nameless man scowled put his hand nearer me and said in a gruff tone… which just sounded odd with his velvety voice, "I'm waiting."

"I hate to preach or tell you how to live your life but you should learn some moderation. People don't generally take well to drunken requests," I said offering him a weak smile. With that I ignored my over-active hormones and went back in the bar. Fuck what is going on with my hormones? Maybe my body is all out of whack or something… fuck I should get a hormone panel done… fuck no health insurance… well I guess it isn't serious yet, just a mild annoyance. Besides it's probably just my bodies' way of saying 'go get laid'.

"Who was the sexy guy?" Blondie asked as I sat back down.

For some odd reason a surge of jealousy shot through me and I wanted to do something horribly violent to her. God what is wrong with me? I took a deep calming breath, sipped my drink and replied, "I have no clue actually… he was really weird. I think he's really smashed. He just like dragged me out there and demanded a handshake then looked really angry when I denied him. It kind of freaked me out to be honest."

"Weird," Richard mused.

The night continued on like that, we hung out and everyone got progressively drunker… except me I refused to drink anything beyond that second beer… I was on edge. That mysterious man refused to leave my thoughts and I could feel him lurking about the bar still. When we all left the bar I was more than thankful that Shawna drove me home instead of having to take the bus like usual… the last thing I need is that guy following me. I entered the tiny studio apartment with a sigh and made sure to lock the doors. I looked around and couldn't help but grimace. There was absolutely nothing in the place save for a futon, a suitcase that was wide open and doubling as a dresser, a box of art supplies, and an easel. If you ignore my lack of furniture you notice the chipped paint on the walls, broken linoleum, and all around shabbiness of the building… hell there's probably asbestos in the walls. I went to the small bathroom and quickly brushed my teeth, washed my face, and stripped down to my boxers. Sighing heavily I smoothed out the blanket on my futon and tried to get that mysterious stranger out of my head. Lying down a sense of loneliness… which truly wasn't anything new enveloped me… but I did my best to repress it along with any thoughts concerning the man I met that night.

Zayvin had never expected to find his mate in a seedy bar such as the one he went to, let alone for his mate to be a Zercan living on Earth. Why any self-respecting Zercan would even live in that cesspool was beyond him… and it clearly appeared as if he resided there considering the conversations he overheard. The moment Zayvin saw the redhead he was instantly taken-aback, never in his life had he seen such a beautiful face. The boy was physically the epitome of perfection with well-balanced and symmetrical features, smooth porcelain skin, and eyes the colour of ice. Zayvin usually an impatient person waited until his mate was alone before confronting him despite the fact that he knew the boy had the same inexplicable urge to embrace him as he did. Eavesdropping on his beautiful mate's conversation he couldn't help but be both pleased and perplexed. His mate resided on this planet… just to make it a better place… that made no sense to Zayvin, how could anyone be naïve enough to think this planet had a chance of becoming a better place anytime soon? These humans where far too skittish and arrogant for their own good… it was in their nature and no real change could happen until they evolved. However to hear the other half of the conversation pleased him immensely… to find a mate who both liked kits and had experience with them was an asset. Growing up an only child he yearned to have brothers and refusing to allow his own future kits to grow up so lonely he always vowed to have a large family. There was one part of the conversation that was troubling however the notion of his mate not wanting kits irked him… but he supposed it was easily remedied. When Zayvin finally approached his mate he found himself slightly confused which just annoyed him further… what kind of person just turns down their mate that way and refuses to bond? To be one's mate is something sacred and rare… and to so boldly deny any such thing is sacrilege. He could understand it if his mate was an Earthling… but no his mate was a Zercan residing on Earth. While Zayvin was more than pleased that he received such a beautiful mate and would be one of the few to find one… he was angry… not just at his mate's rejection but also at the notion of having a mate so young. He wanted to continue to explore the galaxies; he wanted to continue his lifestyle of partying every night and taking a random body home. He just wasn't ready to settle down and start a family.

The next day at work I was distracted to say the least. I spilt coffee on myself thrice (thankfully I wore my apron) as my thoughts always seemed to veer towards the man I met last night. I've always been a lonely person but I have never felt loneliness such as I did today… it was like my thoughts where on one track and all I could think about was that man and how lonely I was without him. It was pretty pathetic… and to make matters worse I couldn't even distract myself from thoughts of him. I usually draw in my free time at work but the only thing I seemed to be able to draw was him. I was doodling idly… mostly drawing eyes… all of them with that same genetic defect that I have when a voice said gruffly, "Mikal get your head out of the clouds and go serve that customer." I looked up to see my co-worker Jacob chopping vegetables. With a small sigh I closed my sketchbook and went over to the till only to be confronted with a face I thought I'd never see again.

"Hi, what can I get for you?" I nervously asked trying to control my nerves and fight down the urge to rip off his clothes.

"We need to talk," he growled out.

What is with this guy? How did he even know where I work? "Hey Jacob I'm going to go take my break, be back quick," I said pulling off my apron and following the man outside. The minute we got outside my fear overrode my lust. "Look I don't know who you are and I don't want to. To be perfectly honest you kind of frighten me, I don't know how you found out where I work or what your angle is here," I said glaring at the beautiful stranger before turning on my heel to walk back into the café.

I felt a hand touch my shoulder gently and I slowly turned around. "What about me frightens you?" the brunette asked quietly and with a forlorn expression on his face.

God the guy sounds so serious and clueless too… geez I suppose I better not answer too sarcastically. "Gee I don't know, maybe the fact that you just showed up at my work after only meeting once," I explained.

"But… we are mates, how can you so boldly turn down my hand? We are two halves of the same whole… you may live on Earth but surely you are familiar with your people's ways."

"Uh… okay then," I said feeling even more unsettled… this guy has to be schizophrenic or some shit. I felt awkward… but maybe if I just shake this guys hand he will leave me alone. Fighting my grimace I stuck out my hand and hoped he wouldn't have sweaty palms.

He looked down at my hand looking perplexed but then the sweetest smile enveloped his features and I felt my heart race… oh god he has dimples too. "I'm Zayvin," he said his smile broadening as he looked at my outstretched hand and then placed his within mine. I couldn't look away from him as our hands clasped, it was as if everything surrounding me melted away and my entire being focused solely on Zayvin. My heart felt as if it was beating out of its chest and I had never in my life felt so great. It was as if I was experiencing a high no drug could provide. It was… almost unexplainable… I had never felt so safe, loved, or euphoric in my entire existence. Zayvin suddenly leaned in and pressed his lips firmly against mine, it was only then that we let our hands go but despite that the tingling in my hand never dissipated. I immediately snaked my hands around his waist and his where on the back of my neck and nestled in my near shoulder length hair. His lips where so soft and inviting against mine and I readily obliged as he ran his tongue along my lower lip. When his tongue snaked it's way into my mouth I fought the urge to groan… this just felt so right. I kissed him back with the same fervour and felt shivers run down my spine as he licked the roof of my mouth. Not long afterwards we broke apart gasping for air.

"Uh… I have to go back to work…" I trailed off nervously.

"What's your name?" he asked with a small smile on his face.

"Mikal," I replied awkward whilst slowly walking backwards into the café. What the fuck is wrong with me? I just made out with a guy who is in all likelihood stalking me. Ugh I have the worst self-preservation instincts ever.

"So who was that?" Jacob asked with a raised eyebrow as I pulled on my apron.

"I… I don't even know really, my stalker I suppose," I replied with a shrug.

"You are so fucking weird," he said with a laugh.

I felt like I was on cloud nine for the first couple of hours of work after my second run in with Zayvin. But it seemed the more time dragged on the lonelier and lonelier I felt. I couldn't stop thinking about him, my entire being called out to him. I felt so conflicted… what is wrong with me? Why is a complete stranger affecting me so much? I only know his name… that's it… so why do I feel such strong emotions towards him? Why do I feel so lonely without him? And why does my heart beat faster whenever I think of him? This is all so fucked up.

The next day I had off of work and all I did was lay around trying not to feel too sad… but it seemed no matter what I did I was always feeling the same loneliness. This made no sense to me… I've experienced loneliness most of my life, my parents died when I was young and it was group home after group home, foster parent after foster parent… and most of those places aren't where you tend to feel loved and accepted. Yet now this odd inexplicable sense of despair and loneliness makes my friendless childhood look pleasant in comparison. I rubbed my tired eyes and haphazardly dropped the sketchbook and 6B pencil onto the floor. I rolled over cuddling into the pillow and blanket cocoon and yearned for… something. I don't even know what, I just want this to end. I quickly showered and decided I might as well go get something to eat… sure I have no appetite but a little fresh air and food might be good for me. I smoothed out my green shirt and as I left the building I was shocked to see Zayvin sitting on the grass with a notebook. As I looked at him I couldn't help but feel an intense longing and wanted nothing more to embrace him… but I've always been a war of head vs. heart and logic has usually won out. "How'd you know where I live?" I asked quietly.

"Tracked your scent," he replied looking just as sad and lonely as I felt.

"I don't understand you," I said wearily sitting next to him. "You are so confusing, what's wrong with you?"

"What's wrong with me? I think the better question is what's wrong with you," he muttered indignantly.

"Well I'm leaving, guess I'll see you around," I said brushing the grass off my clothes and walking away. I need to think about this scenario rationally and not like a lovesick teenage girl. I went to a crepe shop and munched on one despite my appetite being dead and tried to figure out just what was going on. So… I have a mentally ill stalker… the answer of what I should do should be obvious… I should call the police… but there's this part of me that just wants him so badly and shudders at the thought of him ever being stuck behind bars… god my hormones are fucked. It's one thing to lust after someone, but to actually care about his well-being? What the fuck is wrong with me? Feeling just as confused as before I wandered back home and tried to keep my thoughts from straying to Zayvin which proved to be a difficult task. I entered the third floor apartment and was shocked to find Zayvin sitting on my futon with one of my sketchbooks in his hands… fuck I don't even know why I am shocked, I should've expected something like this… privacy invading asshole. "What the fuck are you doing?" I snapped yanking the book out of his loose grip.

"Waiting for you," he said simply before stretching languidly on the futon as if he lived here.

"I do not recall ever inviting you in let alone giving you permission to rifle through my personal belongings you fuck-head, now get the hell out of here and leave me alone."

"No, I am your mate. I have waited long enough and played enough of your games, I will claim you and you will come back to Zerca with me," he growled in a low tone.

"You have no right to tell me what to do," I snapped angrily. What the fuck is up with this guy?

"And you have no right to reject me. I am your mate," he said bolting up and grabbing my shoulders harshly and pushing his lips to mine with just as much force. I tried to push him off of me but he held me tighter and I eventually relented, kissing him back just as hungrily. The animalistic side of me loved everything about this moment from the way his body seemed to fit so well against mine to the way he'd nip at my lips. Lust overriding all logical thought I started to claw at his shirt and broke the kiss only to yank it off and rip mine off as well. I couldn't help but groan, as he started kissing and biting down my jaw line and neck all while trying to pull off my tight jeans. I eagerly unfastened his pants and guided him back to the futon where we fell upon it in a messy pile of limbs. Our boxers soon lay forgotten and the kisses remained just as harsh and dominating as before. I felt a finger slowly enter me and I immediately broke the kiss to draw in a gasp of breath. Zayvin proceeded to slip in another finger and kiss along my neck and he soon found his destination. I immediately gasped and let out a throaty moan as his fingers brushed up against my prostate. I whined in dissatisfaction as he removed his fingers but almost immediately afterwards gasped feeling him start to enter me. I clenched my jaw and shut my eyes tightly feeling a sharp pain and slight burning. He gently kissed me and stilled himself whilst holding my face with the utmost care. Once the burning dissipated I rolled my hips and he returned the motion with gusto. My synapses where over stimulated and I was a moaning mess. Nothing had ever felt so good; I've had many lovers but none as skilled as him. Digging my nails deep into his back I moaned loudly as he bit my neck harshly and we orgasmed simultaneously. He pulled out and wrapped his arms around my quivering frame both of us panting for breath. Enter another lemon here.

I awoke with arms wrapped tightly around my torso and I rubbed the dirt out of my eyes. Fuck… I actually slept with him… what is wrong with me? I groaned and tried to free myself from his vice like grip but it proved futile. I can't believe I did that… sure I have sex with strangers but this man is my stalker… then to top it off I actually bottomed, sure I may prefer to bottom but I never do it unless I trust the person or know them well… what the hell is up with me lately? It seems like my entire body has been completely out of whack ever since I met him. I pushed Zayvin's shoulder over and over again until he finally started to awaken. "Get the fuck up," I said harshly pushing him again.

"Why?" he mumbled clutching me tighter.

"Stop touching me," I said pushing him away from me.

"Blanserta you're high strung," he muttered letting go of me and burrowing further into the blanket and pillows. Feeling a sense of relief I crawled out of the bed but was immediately shocked… I have carpet not hardwood… and this isn't my bed. Fighting the urge to panic I stood up in the dark room and tried to find a light switch, on my search however I tripped over something and went sprawling on the floor. "What are you doing?" Zayvin asked sleepily.

"Looking for a light switch," I replied in annoyance.

"You've been around that primitive technology too long, just ask Amir to do it."

"What?"

"Amir turn the lights on… dimly," Zayvin said most likely rolling his eyes. Almost immediately the lights came on in a dim manner and I looked around and couldn't control the urge to panic. My suitcase, folded up easel, and art box where on the floor… I was in an odd room. It was small and had an institution feel to it. Grey linoleum, silver walls made from some kind of metal, a bed, and a dresser.

"Where the fuck am I?" I yelled not even caring that I was still nude.

"On my ship, we're going back to Zerca. I refuse to stay on that backwater hell any longer," Zayvin said with a content smile.

"You're insane," I replied knowing there was no arguing with my schizophrenic stalker. This guy is clearly suffering from delusions. I opened up my bag and quickly slipped on some clothes then walked up to what I assume to be the door. It opened up automatically like the ones at the grocery store do and I was confronted by a well lit hallway. I quietly snuck down it and was soon in a large room. The room had so many buttons and controls I was absolutely floored. There was also a large screen that had a man with cocoa coloured skin and dark purple hair on it.

"You must be Zayvin's mate," the man on the screen said amiably.

"No I'm not," I growled.

"The mark on your neck says otherwise," he said with an amused smile.

I ignored it and decided to get right down to business. "Where am I?" I asked peering about the room some more before sitting down in a chair.

"On Zayvin's ship obviously, it's on the small side so we should be in Zerca rather quickly."

"What the hell is this Zerca shit I keep hearing about?" I muttered mostly to myself.

The man on screen rolled his eyes and said, "Zerca is a planet in the Ritya Galaxy, it is home to a feline like race and you are very clearly a Zercan. Its technology is much more advanced then Earth's, it's hard to make a timeline of just how much further advanced it is as technology is a fairly difficult thing to gauge."

"I'm not Zercan or whatever."

"Those pretty little eyes of yours tell otherwise," he replied smugly.

"I have a genetic defect asshole," I defensively replied.

"Sure you do," the man said sarcastically. Before I could retort however Zayvin came out fully dressed and still rather tired looking.

"No you're a Zercan," he said before yawning.

"Fucking freaks," I muttered leaving the room and heading back down the hallway. I opened door after door and found a kitchen, another bedroom, and a locked room but if I put my ear to the door I heard some kind of machinery. I couldn't find a window or an exit anywhere in sight. Fighting the urge to cry I headed back to the bedroom I woke up in and pulled out my sketchbook. I doodled random squiggles and lines, having way too much on my mind to concentrate on the paper. I'm going to die… I'm honestly going to die. I should've phoned the police the minute I seen him outside my apartment… instead I fuck him. I have the worst self-preservation instincts in the world; I closed up the sketchbook and crawled into the fetal position. Tears clouded my vision and I wrapped myself up tightly in the blankets. I've been in a lot of bleak situations before… I can't give up just yet… sniffling again and wiping my face I cuddled further into the blankets and wished I wasn't doing something as pointless as crying. I immediately sensed a presence next to me and felt the bed sink. A hand found it's way into my hair and I immediately responded to the touch by leaning further into it… that is until I opened my eyes and looked at Zayvin's so-called concern. "Get away from me," I said half-heartedly.

"No, your distress is my distress," he said adamantly.

"You're the fucking cause of my distress," I snapped pulling myself away from him. "Leave me alone! I hate you, I fucking hate you!" I yelled glaring at him venomously.

Shock crossed his face but it was soon replaced with a resigned sadness, I immediately felt a barrage of sorrow but suppressed it... fuck I'm way too empathetic. "I'm sorry… I'll just leave you alone then," he said before standing up and leaving the room.

The next three days dragged on at a snails pace. I'd wake up alone from my fitful sleep, eat, yearn to shower, and then spend the rest of the day drawing in my sketchbooks only leaving the room to eat some of the weird pre-packaged food in the cupboards. I avoided Zayvin like the plague, he tried to talk to me a few times throughout our journey but I pointedly ignored him and only acknowledged his presence by glaring fiercely. My mind was a jumbling mess of emotions, some of them I couldn't even figure out the root of. The main ones I felt however where anger, fear, sorrow, and worry. I finally seen Zayvin for the first time in a while and my heart longed to run up to him and smash my lips against his but logic won out. "We're here," he said indifferently and started to gather my things. I helped him with my possessions and followed him out of an exit that wasn't there before. I looked around in absolute wonder… the air felt so clean in my lungs and everything seemed greener and more lush despite the fact that we where in a city. He put my box and easel in some sort of… vehicle and then took the suitcase out of my grasp and set it in as well. I contemplated making a run for it… but I don't even know where I am so I decided to get in the vehicle and wait it out… I need answers… I need a plan.

We pulled up in front of a rather odd and large looking house… it wasn't that weird to be frank but I couldn't recognize the architectural design (it did however look faintly similar to Neo-Classical designs). He helped bring my things in and I felt awkward to say the least as we stood in the foyer and made our way through the building. It was a large place… not ostentatiously large, but large nonetheless and lavishly decorated… but it all felt so impersonal, it almost felt as if I was in a museum. I silently followed him to a bedroom where he set my things down and then he turned to me and said, "this is our bedroom… you're free to roam about wherever you want… if you do leave the grounds however I insist you have a guide or ask me to escort you lest you get lost, but that won't be necessary once you get to know the city."

"Our bedroom?" I asked scathingly.

"Uh… well… yes… I mean we are mates," he said rubbing the back of his neck and looking ever so nervous.

"I refuse to share a room with you," I said scowling.

"Oh… well then I guess I'll just sleep elsewhere," he said looking even sadder than before. My heart went out for him and I could feel his sorrow envelope me but I held my ground. It doesn't matter if he is gorgeous and looks oh so pathetic and sad… he stalked me, kidnapped me, and most likely has malicious intentions. He finally left the room and I decided to look around, the room was truly beautiful. It was large and draped in reds, blacks, and golds. The floors where some kind of stone possibly marble and a shade of obsidian, the walls a rich red, and the furniture was red or black with golden accents. It was the bed however that I immediately collapsed on, it was one of those canopy deals encompassing all three colours using wispy fabric that reminded me of tulle except a much higher quality material and it was comfortable beyond all belief. When I finally finished rolling about I decided to look around. One door led to a large walk in closet, another to an extremely large bathroom that was filled with whites, blues, and greens, and the best door was shrouded in thick curtains but led to a balcony. I stood and clutched the black railing and gazed at the view. The city was sprawling in front of me… but throughout you always seemed to see trees and grass despite the urban structures. I couldn't help but let out a weary sigh as I gazed upon the sunset and finally went back inside. I need to find out what city I'm in, what country I'm in… and then I can search for my passport or hope to hell I have a friend nearby. However none of these surroundings look familiar in the slightest and everything does seem to be technologically advanced… god could what that guy on the screen be true? I've never been arrogant enough to think Earth was the only planet with sentient beings… but the notion is still pretty hard to wrap the head around. But… then again if I think about this pragmatically it makes sense in some twisted way… the technology is too advanced… we where in some kind of… spherical vehicle… I guess it could be a futuristic spacecraft; it certainly had the ambience of one (why it would be spherical is beyond me… aerodynamics and all). But if all of that is true, if I truly was stalked and kidnapped by some alien dude… how does that account for the physical similarities and how he was able to speak English so well (mind you he did have an accent I couldn't identify). Well… I suppose the English thing isn't that hard to believe, I'm sure they've found more efficient ways to absorb knowledge and their neurological functions may be different. But that still doesn't explain the physical characteristics. Fuck I need to figure this out… and then come up with a plan to get back if it is true… but then again I have always been an explorer at heart so it wouldn't hurt to give this place a once over so long as Zayvin keeps his filthy paws off of me. Feeling some of my confusion melt away a small resigned smile graced my features and I opened up my sketchbook and went onto the balcony. I sat down on one of the chairs and started to sketch my surroundings… hm I'm going to need canvases, sure I have a lot of paints and brushes but my box is absolutely void of canvas. My sketch was near complete as I crawled into the comfortable bed and tried to sleep.

The next day I was groggy, it felt as if I hadn't had a good nights sleep in eons. I showered and got ready for the day. I started to wander around trying to find the kitchen and after a little while finally found it. A slightly effemitive man with pale pink skin and hot pink hair was cooking… okay my alien theory must be correct… normal people only look pink from dyes and cyanide poisoning. I sat down at a smallish table right next to a window and not too long afterwards Zayvin came in and sat at the table as well, only as far away from me as possible. The pink man set some dishes down on the table and spoke some language I couldn't even recognize. "You've been on that backwater hell for some time haven't you?" Zayvin asked looking at my perplexed expression. "Don't worry I'll get Amir to impart you with the knowledge of our language once breakfast is finished." I merely nodded refusing to speak to him and looked at the dishes in front of me. There was a bunch of unrecognizable fruits; little bowls of some creamy green substance… possibly a yoghurt of some kind, and what looks like crepes except tinted purple. With a wary glance I started to cut the crepes and was pleased to find out they where quite similar to the crepes I know. They did taste different and required no toppings or sweeteners as they already had a rich, sweet taste baked right in. I ignored the glances Zayvin kept sending my way and proceeded to demolish the rest of the food. I couldn't recognize any of the flavours but it was fucking delicious. I looked down at my empty plate and was surprised to find I was still hungry. Sure I've always been one to eat a lot, but that was a fairly large meal and I still feel ravenous.

"I'm still hungry," I said trying to put as much hatred in my voice as possible.

"Alright," he said with a small smile, which completely threw me off and caused me to glare at him. He talked to the pink man and soon my plate had more fruit and crepes. "You should also know that Kayru is here throughout the day so if you're ever hungry you can just ask him to fix you something."

"I need canvases so I can paint," I said while cutting up the crepes.

"Okay… I'll have some delivered and have a studio set up for you."

I'm normally a polite person but I refused to thank him and continued to eat my food and felt awkward as fuck as the asshole stared at me. When I finished he took me to an office type room of some sort and on the screen that man from earlier came on and Zayvin told him to give me knowledge of the language. I had to stare at a certain spot on the screen for a minute (blinking as minimally as possible) and afterwards felt a small head rush. It really reminded me of that movie 'The Matrix' and how they'd just hook you up to a computer and bang you know whatever you want to know. Then Zayvin went to the bedroom where he took my easel and box and went down the stairs and down a hall to an empty room with large windows. The walls where a boring white and he went on about how it would all be set up by tommorow. I merely nodded trying to converse with him as little as possible and went back to the bedroom and grabbed a book from my suitcase.

The next morning I ended up puking my guts out and dug through my bags hoping my box of pills was in it. I opened up the bottle and quickly dry swallowed back two and decided to skip breakfast and go to the studio. I was amazed at how quickly the room transformed overnight my easel was set up in the centre, there was a grey sofa, shelving to put my things on and most surprisingly a sink. Feeling the happiest I had in days I set a canvas onto the easel and started to organize the box of paints onto the shelf. Once everything was set up I put the paints I would be using on the stand next to me and opened up the sketchbook. I decided I would do the skyline I saw the other day and started to lightly sketch on the canvas. As the day wore on I couldn't help but feel contentment… that is if I suppressed all of my sorrow, rage, and loneliness. I wrinkled my nose at the scent of turpentine and cracked open the windows. I may love oil painting my nose has always detested how strong smelling the turp is.

The next couple of weeks continued on in the exact same fashion. I avoided Zayvin (and ignored the increasing loneliness I felt), puked in the morning, ate half my weight in food once the nausea went away (usually by afternoon unless I took some pills, in which case it happened sooner), and spent the rest of my time painting. I was getting curious to what the city was like however. Apparently I was in Scrijx Citi… stupid name if you ask me. I left the house and refused to put up with that guide bullshit Zayvin was prattling on about. The city blew my mind as I wandered around looking at different things… the architecture was just insane… it was beyond anything I've ever seen. It felt exhilarating to explore and I didn't even care about all of the odd glances I was garnering. The weirdest thing I noticed however is there is a serious lack of females… I don't think I even seen one. How the fuck these cats procreate is beyond me, but I can only assume some kind of test-tube baby thing is going on as I did see numerous children. It was well into the evening and I was hungry as fuck when I started to make my way back to the house. True I had no map, no money, and I've never been here, but I've always prided myself on having a good sense of direction and I made sure to note which street I was on before starting my adventure. I finally got back to the house after dusk (I only had to ask for directions once!) and when I opened the door I was confronted by a furious looking Zayvin pacing back in forth in the foyer. "Where have you been?" he asked looking absolutely murderous.

Trying to remain apathetic I casually shrugged and replied, "I went out exploring."

"Exploring?" he seethed. "I thought I told you to get a guide or me to show you around."

"I'm not a slave you cannot tell me what to do asshole, I went exploring and that is that; just be thankful I came back at all," I said in a superior tone.

"You wouldn't dare! You're my mate, you can't just leave… not to mention the city is large and some parts are dangerous," he said looking taken aback.

"I have a good sense of direction and as I said before I am not your slave, I have free will, and I will do as I please," I said storming off to the kitchen. I took a plate out of the fridge, heated up the odd food in the microwave (okay it wasn't exactly a microwave, but it worked like one except it didn't make your food rubbery and gross!). There has to be something wrong with this food, maybe it has less caloric content to it so I need to eat more, or maybe the environment is speeding up my metabolism. I'm not sure but something has to be up, I never eat this much and it seems as if I'm constantly hungry.

Quite sometime passed and the constant sensation of sorrow and loneliness I felt was getting harder and harder to ignore, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out what was the catalyst for it all. I doubt its homesickness, as I've never really had a home or anything… but that's the only conclusion I can draw. There was also something else slightly distressing… I have always been lithe; I've never been capable of gaining weight… I've even tried a few times. But it seems like I've been gaining weight like crazy while at the same time I'm still hungry beyond belief… there is definitely something going on with my body… fuck it has to be environmental or something I mean it only started happening when I was taken out of my natural environment and deposited on some alien planet. A part of me really wants to go to a doctor and find out what's wrong but I fucking refuse to talk to Zayvin about it. That would require acquiring money from him and I have far too much pride for that, besides what would a doctor here know about humans? I suppose I should just go on a diet or something. I stuck the brush in-between my teeth to get it back to a fine point and then re-dipped it in the Cadmium Blue.

I decided to take matters into my own hands… it isn't healthy but it's not like I'm gaining healthy weight either… there is serious distribution problems. It isn't like I've gained a lot either but I'm starting to get a gross little belly… yuck. So I've decided to eat only small amounts of fruits and vegetable, try to exercise as much as possible light headedness be damned, and continue avoiding Zayvin and add Kayru to the list as he seems to like stacking my plate with as much food as possible (thankfully it's all vegetarian… but still).

I awoke my breathing coming in haggard and put my hand to my chest… god my heart is beating a mile a minute. Ugh what a terrible nightmare. As I started to wake up however I noticed the door opening and I immediately backed as close to the headboard as possible. Zayvin entered the room his face full of fake concern and I threw him the meanest glare I could muster. What is with this creepy fuck? I immediately scrambled out of the bed and scowled at him as he took it upon himself to approach the edge of the bed. "What the fuck?" I asked angrily. "Get out! How dare you come in while I'm asleep. You fucking perverted freak, I bet you get off on watching me all vulnerable and easy to take advantage of you sick fuck."

"What? What are you talking about? I felt your distress and wanted to see what was wrong," he said earnestly. A part of me wanted to believe him, he really did seem sincere… but how the hell can I? The guy is a fucking stalker and kidnapper. He started to approach me and I immediately backed up.

"Stay the fuck away from me!" I yelled starting to feel frightened. He is going to fucking kill me tonight… this'll be the night he finally goes through with it. Fuck… oh fuck. He didn't stop though he approached me with this disgustingly concerned look on his face, I wanted to fucking punch it off of his face. "Get the fuck away from me!" I screamed grabbing an ashtray and throwing it at him. It missed him by a long shot, which did nothing to appease my nerves.

"Mikal… settle down. I'm not going to hurt you… I'm sorry for entering whilst you slept, just settle down," he pleaded continuing to step forward.

"Fuck off! You fucking liar! Get away from me; I fucking hate everything about you!"

"Mikal… please settle down, please?" He asked coming closer.

"No go away!" I yelled glancing around the room. God to get to the door I have to go by him. I glanced around and noticed an empty vase. I picked it up and threw it at him but he immediately dodged out of the way. "Get away from me! Get the fuck away! I want to go home! I hate you, I fucking hate you!" I yelled glowering at him and fighting the tears that wanted to fall. Tears started to stream from my eyes despite my protest and I immediately grabbed a book I had been reading and threw it at him. He didn't bother to respond but approached me with a determined look in his eyes… my blood immediately ran cold. He didn't look angry or full of malice… but he was up to something. "Fuck off!" I screamed trying to find something else to throw. I spotted a glass of water sitting on a table a little ways off and I immediately sprinted off towards it. As I sprinted I felt a sharp pain in my stomach and immediately crumpled to the floor. Fuck it felt as if I was kicked right in the stomach. I gasped and even more tears cascaded down my cheeks.

"Are you okay?" Zayvin asked in a worried tone and wrapping arms around me to help me stand up. I half-heartedly tried to pull free of his grasp and quietly told him to go away whilst clutching my throbbing torso. He guided me to the nearby sofa and I started hyperventilating. "Mikal what's wrong?" he asked pushing my hair out of my face.

"I-I… my stomach," I gasped clutching my throbbing torso tighter and feeling some kind of ooze come out of my bellybutton.

"Okay… okay… settle down, just take deep breaths okay," Zayvin said sounding frantic before picking me up and holding me bridal style. I couldn't believe how amazing it felt to be wrapped up in his arms, I almost forgot all about the pain in my torso. He immediately started shouting orders to Amir and then we where transported to some building. I couldn't even fathom what just happened… we where in my room and suddenly just appeared in some sterile looking building. My fatigue seemed to catch up on me and I had to fight to stay awake… but it was a losing battle.

I awoke feeling groggy and with an IV in my arm, I contemplated ripping it out but left it in, as it must be there for a reason. I yawned and then noticed Zayvin pacing in the far end of the room. "What the fuck are you doing?" I asked rubbing my eyes.

"You're awake," he gasped rushing over and kneeling by the bed. He nuzzled my non-IV'd hand and placed light kisses on it as if he was afraid I'd break under his touch. I didn't even bother to pull it from his grasp; it actually felt kind of nice.

"What a cunning observation," I retorted sarcastically but with a small smile on my face nonetheless. I haven't felt this rested in ages… however that sadness was still there, but for some odd reason it seemed to be amplified. "What the hell happened?" I asked surprised to see my stomach back to it's regular size… ew did I have a tumour or something?

Zayvin had the most forlorn expression on his face as he quietly replied incapable of making eye contact, "we lost the kit."

"What are you talking about?" I asked perplexed… what the fuck is a kit?

"Y-you miscarried."

"No I didn't, I'm a boy… I don't know what is up with you but I can't get knocked up," I replied feeling a sense of dread… fuck why did I have to get mixed up with someone so insane.

"You didn't know?" he asked finally making eye contact and his voice cracking.

"Uh… what… I'm really confused… in fact everything about you confuses me," I replied with the utmost sincerity.

"How long where you living on Earth?" he asked suddenly.

"Look I may have fucked up eyes like everyone else here but I'm from Earth, I grew up there, I lived there, everything. I've been to doctors, I have a genetic defect that altered my pupils, my father had it too… it's not that weird."

"No love, you're Zercan I can smell it. Didn't your life-givers explain the physiological differences to you?"

"Oh… uhm… I don't remember my parents that well… they died when I was six or so and I only have a few memories of them," I explained quietly. Zayvin immediately leapt up and started to pace while muttering angrily going on and on about how it was all his fault. "Zayvin can you put the pity party on hold and just explain to me what is going on."

He sat in a chair by the bed and took a deep breath before explaining. "Zercan's are nothing like Earthlings… we have some very distinct differences. You see all of us have a mate… someone who is our other half… it's similar to the Earthen concept of soul mates. One cannot live without their mate once they find them… once you and your mate bond, which is done by clasping hands you're able to feel whatever your mate is feeling and can usually tell if they're lying. You also feel crushing loneliness and sorrow when separated from your mate. The only way Zercan's can reproduce is with their mate and the bearer is always impregnated after claiming. When I bit your neck that was me claiming you… not only does it impregnate but it also shows other's you are my mate," he explained awkwardly.

I don't know why I believed him… but I did. It made everything fall into place… and it isn't that unfathomable… especially after everything I've seen. Don't get me wrong the whole male-pregnancy thing is a little fucked but… I've travelled to a far away planet; I've seen a guy with pink skin… boys having wombs isn't the weirdest thing… I have no idea how the hell they get it out though. "So I was… pregnant?" I asked in a quiet voice.

"Yes… the healers have ran some tests on you and will tell us why… it happened soon," he said kissing my hand.

"Oh… uhm… I think I know why. It's kind of my fault… before I tell you though I want you to know that if I had known I was… pregnant I wouldn't have done everything I did. I was doing a lot of painting with oils, which have toxic fumes and I ingested some of my paints and let them absorb into my skin and they are full of really toxic things… I uhm… also thought I was getting fat and since I know nothing about dieting… I kind of half-starved myself. Plus I was getting sick a lot… morning sickness I suppose and I was mowing down on pills," I explained guilt washing over me. I… don't really feel sad over losing the child as I didn't even have a chance to think about life with it, or get attached to the idea… but fuck I feel so guilty. My pride killed a living thing… instead of asking Zayvin to go to the doctor… in which case he'd probably laugh and say how I was knocked up… I instead go on crash diets and eat paints and huff turpentine… fuck… I'm so horrible. "Fuck, it's all my fault," I mumbled turning away from him.

He went around and replied, "no it isn't… it's mine… everything has been my fault. I was so presumptuous. I shouldn't have just assumed you'd know everything… it's my fault you where so frightened all the time, it's my fault you where so angry, and it's my fault we lost the kit."

"No… it was a joint effort… I refused to ever hear you out or ask you questions and we both acted kind of crazy… besides c'est la vie… it is what it is… nothing can change the past we can only focus on the present and future," I explained putting my hand on one of his which where wringing the sheets. "So… when do I get out?"

"Oh uhm… I don't know… I'll go find a healer," he said lumbering out of the room. Soon he came back in followed by a man in all white, holding a clipboard.

"How are you feeling?" the man asked amiably.

"Fine, when do I get out of here?"

"Well you can leave tommorow. However the blood work we did showed you had heavy metal toxicity as well as vitamin deficiencies, the medi-box flushed your system and we are currently infusing you with vitamins. I'm not sure how you got all that metal in your system; it is minimal enough to not harm you, but more than enough to harm a foetus… so you'll have to figure out where you got it from before you get pregnant again, we would also like to give you frequent checkups and monitoring throughout your next pregnancy," the doctor said passing Zayvin a couple pieces of paper. I however was a little annoyed at how he spoke… I know it shouldn't get to me, but I loathe how presumptuous he sounds.

"What's wrong? You're annoyed," Zayvin said looking at me with concern.

"It's petty and immature, but it just irks me how presumptuous he is. As if I'm actually going to get knocked up again, fuck I don't even want children."

"You don't want kits?" he asked looking surprised.

"No I'm never having children," I explained.

"Why not?" he asked with a scowl on his face.

"I just don't want them. Sure I like kids and all but I'm not the parenting type… besides I'm a selfish person and like travelling around and it's not fair to have children and drag them around with you all over the place."

"We're having kits," he said crossing his arms.

"You can, but I'm not. Fuck that noise," I retorted.

"You're my mate!" he exclaimed.

"And I'm supposed to care? Just because I'm not yelling at you doesn't mean I like you… in fact I still kind of hate you," I said with a shrug.

"You can't hate me, we're mates. You love me and I love you, that's how it works," he said starting to pace again.

"You don't love me, you don't even know me. You love the idea of me… there's a distinct difference," I replied.

"How can you say things like that? Do you intentionally try and hurt me or something? Because you're doing a pretty good job of it."

"Sorry for being honest, it really isn't my fault you can't handle the truth. Do you seriously expect me to go around proclaiming my love for you? I don't even know you… all I know is your name is Zayvin, you're Zercan, and live in a weird house… that's it. All you know about me is that I'm Mikal and I paint."

"You also volunteer, read, have a sense of adventure, and want to make the world a better place… I know I don't know a lot about you… but that's irrelevant… we're two pieces of the same puzzle. Admittedly we don't know much about one another yet, but we do live together and will be together until death, so there's plenty of time for that."

"Fuck you're obnoxious… you're so presumptuous. I'm going back to sleep," I said rolling over trying to mind my IV arm. Soon enough the lights flicked off and I fell back asleep.

The next day I awoke to Zayvin sleeping in the chair next to the bed and a nurse pulling my IV out. I yawned and the nurse told me how I could check out immediately. Getting out of bed I grimaced at the gown I was wearing and shook Zayvin awake. "Do I have any clothes?" I asked.

"Oh… no, we'll transport home soon and then you can change," he said before yawning and rubbing his eyes. "You wait here, I'll go get your prescription filled out and do the paperwork," he said before leaving the room. Moments later he came back holding a small bag and he then grabbed my hand and pressed a button on this little machine he had dangling off of his belt.

"What the fuck just happened?" I asked as we now stood in the bedroom I tried to destroy.

"Oh, we usually get around with these travel beams, it's extremely convenient," he said with a shrug. I ignored trying to figure out how anyone could be casual about something like that and opted to shower and get ready for the day… okay so it wasn't a shower. I was shown how to work this little beam that cleaned you… it was awesome as I'm not keen on getting wet. I wandered down to the kitchen and was really annoyed. I've never really spoken to Kayru before other than small talk but he keeps giving me these really sympathetic glances as he cooks… it's annoying beyond all belief. I happily munched on the seed filled bread and felt better than I had in weeks to be perfectly honest. There was some lingering sadness (Zayvin's sorrow I believe), but I haven't been feeling as lonely, and I now know my body isn't crazy and my hormones are back to normal.

"So what's there to do in this town? I've only done minimal exploring and I'm getting kind of stir crazy," I asked harpooning a piece of blue fruit.

"Oh… well… don't you think it's a bit soon to be going out? You just got out of the hospital."

"Don't be ludicrous. I need to do something; just sitting here is driving me mad. Besides I feel so useless, I wasn't even this lazy on my vacation to South Africa."

"South Africa?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Don't try and distract me I know you could give a fuck about Earth geography."

"Look… I just don't think it's a good idea for you to over-exert yourself."

"Who said anything about over-exerting myself? Now are you done pretending you actually have any say in what I do? Or should we continue this charade and you can feel slighted when I go off and do what I want anyways," I stated as coldly as I could.

"Mikal, you're my mate and I have a say in what you do, especially when it concerns your health."

I immediately glared when I heard those words and just left the room. There's no point in arguing with him, he is so fucking rigid in that ludicrous belief. I left the house without a backwards glance and immediately breathed in the clean smelling air. It's insane how much nicer the air here feels in the lungs compared to Earth. I wandered down the streets and my thoughts couldn't help but stray to what Zayvin told me yesterday. The concept of soul mates is fucking ridiculous, the universe is how large? And if reproduction (at least among this race) necessitates a mate then there is obviously a different explanation for the whole interconnectedness one feels with their supposed 'mate'. The race would've died out long ago if it was an actual only one person for me thing. It has to be something else… maybe its some hormonal pheromone type thing going on. I mean why else would I be so affected by Zayvin, a person whom I barely know? Maybe it's similar to how apparently if a bunch of women live together their menstrual cycles start to coincide… some pheromone or scent or something is given off and the proximity to it creates a physiological change in the body. That seems to be the only reasonable conclusion I can draw… mind you I'm not a scientist so there's probably more to it. But if I assume this is true (and I will… until I can get to a library at least) then all I need to do to stop myself from being so… affected by him is to put distance between us. Obviously it'll have to be a great amount, as I still felt affected by him when he was just stalking me from afar. I grinned slightly at my amazing realization and with a spring in my step went up to the first person I saw. "Hey could you tell me where the nearest library is?" I asked as nicely as possible.

The blonde man regarded me coldly and asked, "What in Blanserta is a library?"

"Hm, must go by a different name here. The library is basically just a place filled with books and computers and it's pretty much just a hub for information."

"Nobody reads books anymore. Any information you want is dispensed by your personal computer," he stated in a condescending tone.

I couldn't help but roll my eyes at how ridiculous that entire concept is. "Well could you at least point me in the direction of the nearest public computer?"

"Everyone just has their own," he said with a small shrug before continuing on. What the fuck is up with this place? How the hell can people live without books? Sure .pdf files are readable but its way harder on the eyes and far more annoying then a good old-fashioned paperback. I asked around some more and received exactly the same answers. To say I was frustrated and annoyed would be putting it simply; how the fuck am I supposed to confirm my hypothesis without some kind of information resource? Unless… I decided to test it out for myself. But how exactly do I go about it? I have no money, I'm on a foreign planet, and my skills are admittedly few. Also… just how far away do I need to be to test this? Maybe… just maybe I could find a way to get back to Earth… that should be far enough. So what if I'm apparently Zercan, what the hell does this place hold for me? A control freak dead-set on knocking me up, that's what.

Maybe I could do some intergalactic hitchhiking or something. I asked the next person where the nearest port was so I could at least test the waters and see if many people are even heading that a ways. The 'port' area was bustling with people, many odd looking spaceships (I can only assume that's what they are) where docked and many workers where unloading various crates and there was a high density of warehouses in the area. I felt overwhelmed to say the least and I decided to just ask random people who where unloading crates if they knew of any ships heading to Earth in the near future. Most people just looked at me if I was insane and asked why I'd want to go there, a couple of people I couldn't even understand as they spoke some foreign language, and just as I was ready to give up a well built man with mousy brown hair came up to me and said, "I hear you're trying to get to Earth."

"Pretty much, so do you know anyone who can help me out with that endeavour?"

"Possibly. The ship I'm on is scheduled to pass right by Earth and you might be able to convince the captain to admit you passage," he explained.

"Fuck yeah!" I exclaimed with joy. "Would you introduce me to your captain?"

"Uh… sure," he said obviously a little put off by my display. The man immediately grabbed a hold of my arm and we where teleported or however the fuck it works to some unfamiliar room… most likely within the ship (I can only assume from the institution feel). "Wait here," he stated before leaving the room. I scuffed about my worn out sneakers and soon he returned with another man. This guy was clearly the captain he had an air of unwarranted self-importance about him and perfectly tailored clothes and hair.

"You wanted to see me?" he said glancing at his nails.

"I guess. All I know is that word on the street is you'll be passing by Earth and it'd be pretty awesome if I could catch a ride with you guys and be dropped off there," I explained awkwardly.

"And why would I do that?" he asked in a bored tone.

"I don't know? A love for your fellow man? A respect for hitchhikers? Look I'll be blunt my skills are admittedly few but I'm more than willing to do any kind of unskilled labour… or whatever else it takes to get to Earth."

He let loose a fake laugh and said, "Do you honestly think I don't have more than enough labourers?"

"Well is there anything else I could do? Because I need to get out of this hell hole some way or another."

"No I cannot think of anything."

Fuck. How can this guy be such a prick? Ugh why can't I have some kind of skill? I'm only good at the most useless of things… ugh it's a long shot but I might as well try to play this card. "How about I paint your portrait… or anything you like actually? I'm a rather proficient artist."

"What do you mean paint my portrait?" he asked eyeing me suspiciously.

"Like uhm… you sit still for ridiculous amounts of time and I paint you on my canvas with teeny tiny brushes and smelly paints," I awkwardly explained.

"Wait… you're actually skilled in paint?" he asked with shock.

"Yeah… I've been doing it since I was a kid," I replied awkwardly.

"Paint my portrait and I'll take you to your precious back-water planet. Just know I demand it be done by the end of the journey and it had better be to standard. We leave in two days at precisely 11:00, if you are not here I shall just leave without you," he stated before turning on his heel and leaving the room.

"You actually paint?" the man who escorted me asked with a confused look on his face.

"Yeah… why is everyone so shocked about it?"

"Not many do it anymore what with how easy it is to run images through the computer to alter them in any manner you want… you can even make them look like the paintings of yesteryear."

That had to be the most fucked up thing I had ever heard… painting is so much more personal then some computer-generated bullshit. The man teleported me out of the ship and I made as many mental notes as possible on how to get back there. I was ecstatic beyond all belief as I moseyed back to Zayvin's house… I was tired beyond belief but I am not going to let Zayvin know that… superior asshole. Now all I need to is formulate a plan to sneak myself and my possessions out without Zayvin noticing and then it's back home for me! Maybe I can even get that pretentious little captain to drop me off in Spain or something!

I was irked to say the least. Zayvin has generally given me my space (lest I throw things at him) but he's been noticeably clingy. As soon as I got back at the house he practically perched himself in the studio whilst I fucked about with charcoals. After dinner I went up to the bedroom I was residing in to read and of course he just had to follow me. "Would you kindly fuck off?" I growled.

"No, you have far too many self-destructive tendencies," he stated simply once again.

I rolled my eyes and grabbed the poetry book I had stuffed in-between some t-shirts.

I was starting to worry to be honest, I of course tried to suppress that emotion lest Zayvin pick up on it… but if he doesn't give me some space soon I'm going to miss my opportunity. I had to leave tommorow morning and if he doesn't let up soon I'm fucked. "Zayvin do you like it when I'm angry with you?" I asked annoyed beyond all belief (I guess it could be worse, he at least hasn't started sleeping in the same bed as me).

"What a ridiculous question," he said not looking up from the notebook he was scribbling in.

"Just answer it."

"Obviously not."

"Then why do you insist on doing things you know make me furious?" I snapped.

"The same reason you do," he replied with indifference.

With a heavy sigh I said, "Look I need to be by myself sometimes. It's just who I am, you know? I need to be with my thoughts and no distractions or feeling someone's eyes on me. I get why you're practically shadowing me and I can admit starving myself wasn't the brightest of ideas. But you're stalking me is just going to do more than damage then good. I'm the spiteful type you know? I have too much pride for my own good… I'm the type that'd find something terribly self-destructive to do right under your nose just to prove a point."

"Fine," he conceded with a tight look on his face.

"Thanks."

The next day I went down for breakfast and tried to figure out how I was going to get all of my things back to Earth. I had to noticeably lighten my load and left half of my things shoved in the back of his closet before shoving the paints and brushes into my bag. I scoped out the area and noticed no signs of life so as stealthily as possible I crept out of the studio clutching the two canvases and cringing at the noise the wheels on my suitcase made. Just as I made it to the front door and clasped the handles with my fingers a voice coldly asked, "What are you doing?"

"Uh… going outside to paint," I replied turning around to face him.

"With your suitcase?" he asked one eyebrow raised.

"Yeah, it's easier than carrying my paints in and out one by one."

"You're lying," he stated simply.

"Don't be ludicrous."

"Don't treat me like an idiot Mikal I can always tell when you are lying! How dare you try and run away! I have given you everything, when you wanted space I gave you it despite my entire being telling me not to. When you wandered off doing Blanserta knows what I didn't do anything. And now you have the audacity to run from your mate?"

"Given me everything?" I asked scathingly. "You stole my fucking freedom."

"I stole your freedom?" he asked with a malicious glint in his eye. Then he barked out a vicious sounding laugh and said, "Maybe I should really take your freedom so you can see just how good you have it."

"Drop dead," I replied coldly turning around to open the door and leave. Before I could even open it an inch however he slammed it shut and pushed me roughly up against the wall his body pushing painfully against mine and my things falling haphazardly. He pressed his lips against mine in the worst kiss I've ever experienced. It was overly-dominate, rough, and only done to prove a point. It was all teeth and tongue and just… terrible. I tried to push him off of me but my struggles where futile and he just pressed harder against me in return. "Get off of me," I muttered pathetically trying to get away.

"Just remember you're mine," he growled in my ear before letting me go. I scrambled away leaving my things in the foyer and ran to the bedroom. I hid myself in the closet and tried to take deep breaths. What was that all about? I fought back all the bad memories that encounter brought forth and tried to calm down. I angrily wiped the tears streaming down my face away and tried to focus on something mundane. I wiped the drying blood off of my lip from when he bit down on it and more tears cascaded down my cheeks.

"Mikal?" I heard Zayvin's voice call from somewhere outside of the closet and I held my breath. Please don't find… please don't find me… The closet door finally opened and I tried to stay as still as possible and maybe he won't find me. With a heavy sigh Zayvin sat down next to me and I immediately scurried further back in the recesses of clothes trying to put distance between us. "I'm sorry," he said in a quiet voice. "I shouldn't have lost my temper… it's just you spent so long rejecting me at every turn, then I find out we lost the kit, and then you tried to run away… it all just built up and I'm sorry for acting like a psychopath."

"And how do you think I feel?" I murmured pathetically. "You stalked me, took me away from everything I knew, went on about all of these things I don't understand and have acted like a possessive freak the entire time."

"I know… I'm sorry. But in my defence I didn't even know you where raised on Earth until a couple of days ago. I tried to get to know you so many times Mikal but you just shut me out at every turn. I understand this is all strange to you… but you're Zercan so I just assumed you where well versed in your people's customs," he explained with so apologetically and sincerely I almost wanted to stop being angry with him. "Do you think maybe we could start over again?" he asked in a quiet voice after a small lapse of silence.

I was thrown off by the question, but the more I thought about it the less insane it sounded. This whole… thing has just been a series of misunderstandings and cultural differences. What he did was just a societal norm… a screwed up one, but still I was just a victim of his upbringing. And the more I thought about it the more I realized this. Besides he is really attractive and kind of sweet in that annoyingly overprotective kind of way. "Uhm… alright… just don't get your hopes okay?" I replied after an indefinite period of time in a quiet voice.

"Okay," he said a large smile enveloping his features. "Come on let's get out of here," he stated walking out of the large closet. I was thankful to finally be out of there as well, no matter how spacious it is it is not comfortable to crouch in-between clothes. "We're going out later tonight, so be prepared. You also have to promise me not to leave the house at all today," Zayvin pleaded looking oh so desperate.

"Not unless it's on fire," I replied with a small smile being sure to brush against him as I left. I made my way down to the expansive foyer and gathered my things. I dragged them to the studio and decided to just unpack the paints and such. I'm still nowhere near ready to unpack the rest of my things and place my clothes in the closet… it feels far too permanent.

It was hours later when Zayvin knocked on the door and let himself in. I had barely started my painting but it seemed to be going quite well. "Get cleaned up and we'll go," he said with a small smile. I merely nodded and proceeded to clean the paint off my hands and wash off my palette and brushes. I took the hand he held out for me and soon felt that disgusting feeling associated with teleporting. I nearly fell as we appeared outside of some building and took a couple of deep breaths. Where we ended up was so delightfully mundane I couldn't help but smile. It was a restaurant in every sense of the word and it was conceptually the exact same as what I was familiar with. Admittedly it was nicer than any place I had ever been, but still the same set up was there. We where escorted to our table and I felt nervous as so many eyes where upon me… but really what should I expect? My clothes are dissimilar to the fashions here and I am underdressed and splattered with paint at that.

I felt awkward beyond all belief as we sat at the small table looking at one another and staring at the silverware. Zayvin thankfully ordered for me as I couldn't make heads or tails of the menu but once that bit of conversation was out of the way we lapsed into one of those extraordinarily awkward silences. "So… uhh… what should we talk about?" I asked incapable of taking it any longer.

"Hm… why don't we just start with the basics? What's your favourite colour?" he asked before taking a sip of his wine. I think it's wine… I mean it doesn't taste anything like a wine I've ever had nor is it even the colour of most wines but it came in a bottle like one so it must be the Zercan equalivent.

"You have no idea how much I hate that question. My favourite colour is constantly changing it changes from day to day, painting to painting. Currently however… I'd go with dioxazine purple, alizarin crimson, and cobalt blue. What about yours?" I replied.

"Dark red," he stated with a small smile. And that is how the evening consisted. We spoke of the mundane, our favourite films, music, and, books. The conversations where wholly one sided as we had not a single thing in common, but I suppose that is to be expected. I mean sure we listened to what the other spoke about but really we didn't understand one another in the slightest. The food was quite good and as the dinner neared its finish Zayvin pulled a small sized box from his pocket and passed it to me. "I got you this a while ago but I could never find the proper time to give it to you. It's your own personal AI. It has a travel beam in it so you can go wherever you want to go, I have it hooked up to the house, and I installed some programs to make it easier for you to find Earth media of all types. You will however have to fill out this form I left at the house and send it in so your AI's personality will compliment yours."

I opened the box and realized it was almost exactly the same as that weird thing Zayvin always has hanging off of his clothes. Mind you mine was in a different colour but they where near identical. "Thank you," I replied looking at the small device in marvel.

"You're welcome, come on let's get out of here," he said grabbing the check and wrapping an arm around me as he paid for the bill and we made our way outside.

I hate to admit it even to myself but it feels unbelievably amazing to have his arm around my waist like that. We wandered down the street and I decided to finally say what we where both obviously thinking but not saying. "Tonight was pretty terrible wasn't it?" I said with a heavy sigh. I felt a pang of hurt and confusion run through me and I realized that it must be his emotions… gee aren't I tactful. "I don't mean to be crass," I said interrupting him before he could say anything. "It's just we have nothing in common and I know that's a cultural thing and not a personal reflection on us having vastly different tastes or anything… but I mean we just went on and on about things the other doesn't even understand. It just… it seems like such a fucking futile… thing and a complete waste of time."

"All of that is superficial, the only thing that matters is that we are made for one another. We are two halves of the same whole," he explained before putting my face in between his hands and kissing me softly on the lips.

"Not that bullshit again," I said ripping out of his grip before the kiss could go further. "That soul mates thing is total bullshit and I don't want to hear it again. That's just a cheap fucking cop out and you know it! I don't understand why we are so affected by one another but it isn't due to something as idiotic as that, its got to be some pheromone thing and I would really appreciate it if you would stop trying to feed me these ridiculous lies. I mean you can't even come up with a good one! What the hell is wrong with you?"

He angrily rolled his eyes and then stated in a blunt no-nonsense tone, "believe what you want Mikal but deep down you know it is true. Ask anyone on the street and they will tell you the same thing, ask your AI and he will tell you the same thing. The sooner you stop living in denial the easier this relationship will be."

"But it doesn't make sense!" I exclaimed fighting the urge to stomp my foot like a pissy little girl. "The race would have died out ages ago if that where the case, it goes against logic!"

"The race is dying out Mikal. As we are spreading out further and further the population is getting smaller and smaller. Sure a small minority of us have outer-planet natives as mates but the majority of us have a Zercan mate out there somewhere but most people never find them. Mind you a good number may start to seeing as a lot of the social stigma associated with the Reyls is being torn down… but that's beside the point. The point is our race has been like this since the beginning and it's just how we are and you need to accept it Mikal," he explained in an exasperated tone.

"But it goes against everything I believe in," I replied quietly.

He gave me a sympathetic look and I wanted to smack it off of his face. As if I want his feigned sympathy! "Maybe so, but you're beliefs about the universe are being shattered at basically every turn. Why does this one have to be so hard to accept as well?"

"Because it's such a cheap copout! A relationship is supposed to be based on trust and respect and mutual interests and shit like that not some idiotic 'it just is' hormonal bullshit. That's about as baseless as a relationship that's only about sex. Why would anyone want something like that?"

"Those things are already there. The trust aspect comes to play due to the fact that we are incapable of getting away with lying to one another. And whilst we may not have the same superficial interests I'm sure when it comes down to it we have similar life views. Admittedly respect isn't some kind of instantaneous thing but that'll build up more and more over time," he explained.

"That's-that's… no! Don't say things like that!" I exclaimed feeling such a conflicting array of emotions. It was so clearly obvious that he's been telling the truth this whole time… but I don't want to accept it. I don't want him to have an answer for everything and I don't want to be confronted with some kind of existential crisis.

"Mikal, it's okay… I understand you're confused but just give it a bit of time and look at things with an open mind and you'll know yourself," he stated simply wrapping arms tight around me. "Now come on there's one last thing we're going to do tonight."

"What?" I asked before he teleported us to the middle of the backyard. I had never actually been in the yard before really but the house was clearly evident.

"You've been living on Earth for this entire time thinking you're a normal human right?" he asked with excitement clearly evident in his voice.

"Uhm kind of. I mean I've never thought I was normal… you know I just thought I had a genetic defect and that was why my eyes where so weird and I could see so well at night and such," I awkwardly explained still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I'm actually an alien.

"Is that the only thing you thought that made you different?"

"Uh… I have really strong senses I suppose. And I can walk quietly… but that's really it."

"Okay I want you to do something. Visualize yourself a giant cat with your colouring, picture yourself as a large cat, concentrate on it as hard as you can," he replied with a smile.

"Why the hell would I do that?" I asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Just do it and no matter what happens don't freak out and keep your concentration."

"Fine," I said fighting the urge to roll my eyes. He seems way too excited and expectant for me to ruin this for him… despite its absurdity. I took a deep breath and concentrated as hard as I could on visualizing a cat that looked like me. I concentrated on it as I concentrate on my breathing and/or mantra during meditation and heard some of my joints popping like when you crack your knuckles. I focussed despite all of this and thought harder about it. I kept my eyes shut to any outside stimuli and when I felt my body start to snap, crack, and shift it was too late to go back. There wasn't any pain persé, but a series of weird sensations and I felt slightly sore; almost like when you overwork an underused muscle. I finally opened my eyes and realized what happened. I was perched on my pile of clothes and I had fucking paws! Zayvin nestled a hand near my ears and I couldn't help the purr that rumbled from deep inside my chest. Oh god… oh god… I'm a fucking cat!

"This is your other form, you probably haven't been in it in years," he explained with a sweet smile before he too turned into a cat. It was the oddest sensation I've ever experienced and the most surreal moment of my life. This was weirder than flying through space, finding out I was pregnant, and the first time I bribed a police officer combined. I started to walk precariously on my surprisingly powerful legs and to be honest the whole experience was just way too weird for me. I concentrated much in the same way as before but this time I concentrated on getting back to normal. My body did that strange snapping and cracking and I was back to normal. I quickly pulled on my clothes and stood around awkwardly. Zayvin shifted almost immediately thereafter and asked in a curious tone, "why did you change back so soon?"

"I don't like it. It's too weird and feels strange," I replied awkwardly.

"Oh," he said in a slightly disappointed tone. "I guess we might as well go inside then." Then he grabbed his pile of clothes and languidly started to put them on. I tried not to stare… I really did, but it was impossible. I felt myself start to harden… just from watching him! So I swiftly made my way towards the house my face on fire. I tried to think of anything but the smooth planes of hard muscle that covered his body or how soft his skin looked. What is wrong with me? What am I thirteen? I should not be having this strong of a reaction. Before I could get rid of my problem Zayvin wrapped an arm around my shoulder and asked, "what's wrong?"

"Nothing," I answered way to fast and hoped he wouldn't catch onto the lust I was feeling.

"Oh really?" he said in a knowing tone before pressing his lips against mine. I didn't want to, but I couldn't help but kissing him back. His lips felt so amazing against mine and I eagerly tried to deepen the kiss. Shivers ran down my spine as his tongue snaked its way into my mouth and

When I awoke and wiped the gunk out of my eyes and I was surprised. Okay I know I slept with Zayvin, it isn't like I don't remember it. But still it's a bit shocking to wake up in bed next to someone you've vowed to loathe. I tried to wiggle out of his arms but he just held me tighter. Growling under my breath I smacked him in the shoulder. "Ugh wha?" Zayvin incoherently mumbled nestling further into the pillows and somehow tightening his grip.

"Let go," I snapped smacking him again.

"Why?" he asked sleepily opening one eye.

"I'm sticky and dirty and covered in jizz. Do you need anymore reasons?"

"You're so annoying in the mornings," Zayvin muttered whilst finally relinquishing his grip on me.

"As are you," I replied before making my way to the bathroom. The cleansing beam made me all nice and clean, which felt amazing… I seriously love these cleansing beams, I get to be clean and no wet hair! My body felt a little stiff and sore from changing form for the first time in so long and of course from the amazing sex. I'll never ever admit this but Zayvin is hands down the best lay I've ever had.

I cannot sleep. All I can smell is Zayvin and his smell emanating just reminds me that he isn't sleeping next to me. I know I shouldn't care. I don't care. It doesn't matter. I do not want to sleep wrapped in his arms. I do not crave his presence. The only reason I'm creeping through these halls is because I cannot sleep. The only reason I'm opening this door is to see if he's asleep… you know insomniacs anonymous or something. I opened the door as quietly as possible and slipped in not even bothering to close it behind me. I made sure to keep my steps light as I made my way closer to the bed… I'm not going to watch him… I'm just seeing if he's really asleep. I do not want to watch him. I do not want to crawl in that bed. I just want to see if he's awake. I just want to… ugh deluding myself is getting harder and harder as the seconds inch by. He looked so perfect. His lips slightly parted, his chest rising peacefully, the serene expression on his face, how dishevelled his hair is… everything. I bet I could run my fingers through those silky tresses without him realizing… I think he's a heavy sleeper. I ghosted my fingers over his hair before finally getting the courage to actually touch it. I love the feel of his hair; it's so soft and silky. I can't believe I'm actually doing this… I shouldn't be… I should leave before he wakes up… but I just can't compel myself to. It wasn't until he started shifting that I stilled my movements. I held my breath and hoped he wouldn't be tipped off to my presence… but thankfully it was just general nighttime movements. Once I finally let out the breath I didn't even realize I was holding I returned to my creepy behaviour. Fuck and I accuse him of being a creeper… I'm such a hypocrite. I'm not sure how long I stayed there just running my fingers through his hair before I let out a heavy sigh and left the room. I hate this… I hate everything about this. Why couldn't he have just asked me out like a normal person? Why couldn't we have had a normal beginning? If we had then things wouldn't be like… this. Things would be normal… this is just a fucked up excuse for a relationship. Yeah sure we fuck… but that's just hormonal bullshit. Yeah he goes on about how much he loves me… but that's just out of some twisted sense of obligation. How did my life get like this? I mean I know it's never been particularly pleasant… but you'd think I'd be cut a break eventually. But instead it's like one thing after another. I finally was… well not happy. But I had some semblance of a life and it was all just ripped away from me overnight. I'm not really angry with him anymore for doing what he did… I did conduct some research and that is the norm here. I just… what am I doing here? I find Zayvin attractive, he's nice enough I guess, and there is just something about him that appeals to me… but is this seriously my life? I paint, I sleep, I hang out with Zayvin a bit… that's my fucking existence. How can this be my life? I know I haven't been here very long… but what am I even doing? I couldn't help the tears that started to fall the more I thought about it. This is so fucked up. How can I let him affect me so much? How could I let this happen?

I brushed it off. I brushed it all off. Growing up on Earth I never got sick. I never understood my peers' woes about stomach bugs and bronchial infections. Sure I've puked my guts out after too much to drink; sure I've had a splitting headache after smacking my head. But I've never experienced the chicken pox, the flu, or anything. Human diseases don't affect me apparently… but Zercan ones do. You'd think I would be able to contract both or maybe neither. But I suppose my Zercan blood must be more dominant or something… I mean I can change into a fucking cat. I digress, since I do not get sick ever I brushed off the sniffles I experience one morning, just as I brushed off the coughing I experienced in the evening.

I feel like death. That is what I woke up feeling like. Yesterday was mildly unpleasant but I don't even think I can get out of bed. My head feels like it is full of cotton wool, my throat is scratchy, my body is achy, and I feel vaguely nauseous. I finally got the strength to roll out of bed (more like I was forced out lest I piss my pants) and wandered downstairs. I was thankful for the banister as I made my way down or I know I would've passed out seeing as I had a grey out on the second staircase. I entered the kitchen and was surprised to see Zayvin in it already and almost finished breakfast at that. I'm usually up long before him; I've always been a bit of a morning bird I suppose… actually that's a lie I'm just a bit of an insomniac. I flopped into a chair and rested my head in my arms. "Mikal what's wrong?" he asked concern marring his brow.

"Nothing," I replied coughing instantly.

"How are you feeling?" he asked moving closer to me.

"Fine," I said refusing to be pitied.

"You're sick."

"No I'm not," I stated obstinately.

"Yes you are," he said with a sweet smile and pushed some slightly greasy hair from my face. "Go back to bed, I'll bring you up something to eat soon."

"I'm not sick."

"Mikal whilst your stubborn streak can be endearing at times this isn't one of them, so go to bed before I carry you there."

I didn't bother to dignify it with a response. Whilst I wanted to disagree with him just to be contrary… I had to admit the idea of going back to bed was more than appealing.

I couldn't stop the moan of pain that escaped my lips. My body is dying. My internal organs are slowly shutting down. My lungs are filling with fluid. Okay I have no idea if those things are happening as I refuse to see a healer and I keep underplaying it for Zayvin as he worries far too much as it is. However I will say this with certainty (or as much certainty as someone whose never experience pneumonia and organ failure can deliver) that my illness at least feels like how I would imagine the aforementioned to feel like. When Zayvin entered the room looking worried I rolled my eyes… here we go again. "How are you feeling?" He asked pushing some tendrils of hair from my face.

"Fine," I replied hating how scratchy my voice sounded.

"You look worse," he said concern knitted in his brow. "You look more sallow. I'm taking you to a healer."

"No you're not. I need to be sick, I'm well overdue, this is a good thing, build up my immune system," I replied hating how much it hurt to talk.

"Stop being so stubborn," he said with a frown on his face.

"I'm not," I retorted but before I could continue with my rant I started coughing.

"Mikal… please let me take you," he pleaded.

Ugh he looked so pathetic… "Fine… if I don't start to improve within two days you can take me."

"Two days?" he asked shocked. "No I have to take you today."

"Two days or nothing," I replied and then turned away from him to show the conversation was clearly over.

"Mikal… I'm worried for you. It's already been

I miss being sick. I know that's a strange thing to miss… but when I was sick Zayvin slept in the same bed as me. I pretended to be all annoyed by it, but I'm really starting to miss his presence. Now that I'm better though he's gone back to sleeping in some guest bedroom whilst I commandeer his room. I know I pretend to be annoyed by him almost constantly and spurn him often… but when it comes down to it he is really a great guy, despite his stupid mannerisms and backwards beliefs. Fuck it; fuck it, if I want to sleep next to him I will. Pride be damned, I really need to stop doing things I don't want to… simply because of some fucked up principles. I have to stop blaming him for his culture's weird societal norms and just get over this culture shock and adapt. I'm stuck here and the sooner I get that through my head and adapt the sooner everything in my life will go smoothly.

I crawled out of bed, quietly traipsed down the stairs, and opened the door barely a sliver. I felt like the main character in Edgar Allen Poe's 'The Telltale Heart'. I made my way towards the bed and hoped more than anything that he wouldn't awaken upon my crawling in… and that I wake up before him so I can sneak out undetected as well. I painstakingly pulled back the covers and got into the bed, cringing every time my movements made the mattress shift. My heart was beating out of its chest at the anticipation of embarrassment and possible rejection if he woke up… but he didn't even move in the slightest. Smiling I snuggled into the luxurious blankets and pillows.

When I awoke I immediately cuddled into the warmness all around me and groaned. I went to raise my arms so I could rub my eyes but realized I couldn't move. I opened my sleep-crusted eyes and looked to see Zayvin holding me… whilst wide-awake. "Good morning," he said happily whilst pushing hair from my face.

"Ugh… morning," I replied with a yawn.