EXCERPT: John freed himself from the security lashes in order to gain more access to Tom. He gripped his friend's waist, squeezing to emphasize how much he was willing to give up for this man. "I can touch you. We can touch. Touch me." Tom searched John's face with his eyes, the flush on his cheeks darkening and capturing John's attention once more. He could feel Tom's uncertainty as if it were a weighted net falling over them both to pin them in place. Summoning his courage, he stripped his tunic from his upper body and seized Tom's hand in his own. "Touch me. Please." John thought Tom was going to refuse until he used his free hand to reach out. SYNOPSIS: Refugees of a dead planet, the Zen are grateful the people of Earth are willing to offer them a new home. Executive Orders from the White House declare America a safe-haven for any of the shapeshifting aliens as long as they follow three basic rules: 1. Zen must take a human appearance. 2. Zen must register with human names at Social Services. 3. Zen must find paid work or volunteer to help their country. Two friends declare themselves "married" during their registration without realizing they are now legally bound to one another as a couple. Will New Americans John and Tom see their friendship turn into a romance or will they reject being accidentally married aliens?View More
Chapter 24: PactTomHuman bodies were fragile in ways which made Tom nervous, vulnerable to so much more than Zen bodies, yet they were amazing.Tom felt as if he could feel everything John could feel as he held his hardness in his hand. They were made the same in this form. Every time he could squeezed the rigid flesh, John responded a little differently: a sigh, a groan, a buck of his hips or a sharp inhale of breath.Human flesh was responsive and alive."I can feel you. Can you feel me?"John nodded as he moved to kiss Tom's mouth. Their lips were soft against each other in contrast to all the ways their bodies were hard; Tom could have given up breathing if only to kiss John for a few minutes more."I can feel you. I can always feel you."John could, too. He was true Zen in ways Tom wasn't capable of being. His bloodline granted him strong tethers to all the best gifts of
Chapter 23: ReturningJohn"What happened? Did the humans attack? Is he well?"Adam Jones of Communications needed to find his way back to the council. John gave him an inhospitable look as he crouched beside Tom to try to gain his attention.Clark ushered the Communications aide away while John fought to get Tom to focus on him."Tom? We're aboard Guardian. We need to step off the lift. There are others who might need it. You'll be taken back down to the surface if you're still on when it's called."Tom seemed to have retreated to somewhere else inside his mind; John could sense only distress from him when he tried to touch his mind voice.It was the first time John felt helpless in the face of his mate's shortcomings."Tom?"John positioned himself to steady Tom by his arm, supporting his back with his other hand. He attempted to rise from the floor of the lift and was gratified when
Chapter 22: The InterviewTom"You are to come with me."Hearing someone unknown break the silence of the food hall jarred Tom. Startled, he looked up to find a council aide waiting to be acknowledged.He was young though not as young as Scientist Eric. Tom couldn't place him. It was likely he was a lesser son of Communications which would have placed him outside Tom's experience.Communications had limited interactions with Records."Where are we going?" John asked, gathering his utensils as he cleared his space at the table, "I haven't planned our surface visit. We have only decided we'll take my blood brother to represent Security. Has the council had some kind of interaction with the humans?""The humans have been demanding to speak to you since your registration. Our council has done all they can to delay their requests. We've run out of plausible reasons to keep you from making a statement. You e
Chapter 21: PlanningJohn'Come join us. Your family wants to dine with you before we succumb to duty again.'Tom nodded before going to gather a tray of food for himself. John watched his progress through the hall with a focus he couldn't justify.No one was trying to harm them. They were safe among their own people. More than safe even as Zen would fight to protect Tom as the last son of Records. He was a literal treasure for their kind.John made sure to speak quietly as Tom settled beside him at the table, "Carrie, Clark, Charlie, Conrad, and Carter Kent. They're going to help us with our breeding request. We all agree it is of extreme importance we find a way to pass on your biology to preserve Records."If John also wanted to see a child who resembled Tom, who could blame him? Tom was the epitome of perfection to John. Why wouldn't he love to see his lover's child? There was no greater blessing
Chapter 20: BloodlinesTomScience felt too far away as Tom boarded the lift and scanned himself in to his destination. It felt as if he were waiting hours for the lift to begin moving; Tom couldn't sense any other Zen near when the doors closed or opened. Was everyone on task for the benefit of their people? Were they still going through their individual registrations? How long would it take the Zen to be given clearance from the humans to leave their landing site?Questions tumbled over each other in Tom's head as he was locked away from his brethren. He wished he could hear the sounds of his people. If Records were such an asset to the Zen, why were they the least like their kind?No one was in the hall as the lift opened onto Science.Tom waited long enough for the lift doors to begin to make a questioning sound -was he remaining aboard or did he intend to disembark?- before stepping out. He relied on his regular sense of h
Chapter 19: FamilyJohnSecurity was in chaos regarding the guard schedules for the council. None of the council members were particularly young -their sole female member was twice the age of a Zen who could cease their work days- yet all of them seemed fascinated with the human world.John listened to Clark tell him about the logistical nightmares of having four Councillors off-ship at the same time. All of them had gone to separate destinations at differing departure times with different return times; no one had been able to coordinate any parties to join together.He was beginning to get pain in his skull from hearing about it.Clark could keep the reins for the council. John would continue to handle Security details for the rest of their people. Zen were ordinarily much more courteous.Looking over the list of names Clark had given him, John realized how few members of Security had chosen to leave Zon.
Chapter 18: ScienceTomWaking alone gave Tom a shock. His heart skipped several beats in his chest as he tried to find any indication of where John could have gone.They had spent almost no time alone since waking from stasis. There were many duties which fell on John as a dominant member of Security. With his weak mind voice, Tom had no chance of being able to locate him among their brethren by traditional Zen methods.Tom couldn't hear John---but could he feel him?Empathy was a skill for Zen as much as their mind voice. Some had more abilities with it than others; Tom had learned to use his to his advantage from a very young age as he'd inherited the weak mind voice of his bloodline.No one had ever been able to tell Tom why Records were weak with their mind voice yet flawless with their mind skills. One would think they'd be linked. Why could he forget nothing yet he couldn't so much as se
Chapter 17: BrothersJohnWaking felt similar to steering too close to a solar flare: an unbearable brightness coupled with too much for one's eyes and ears to take in. John wasted several minutes only breathing before he could orient himself enough to release the security lashes holding him in his berth.Only a little dexterity was needed to hold Tom in his space inside the berth before re-engaging the lashes to allow him to continue to rest.John wanted to kiss his lover, but the desire was outweighed with a need to let him rest while he could. Who knew if they were going to be able to get any decent sleep in coming days?Their council wanted them to speak for Zen regarding their 'unnatural union.' The human recordkeepers -reporters, John remembered their human friends calling them- showed no problems intruding on the personal space of others to get their questions answered. John would have taken Tom and run if th
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