I feel groggy and lazy, and a bit confused. There's a haze around my thoughts, as if I've been given sleeping pills, like back at Manticore. I shift, and feel the concrete underneath me, and the warmth against me. I turn my head, and see a girl there, with deeply red hair and brown eyes staring at the ceiling. I'm in my boxers and she's in her jeans, with little else. I squint, and look around.
The X-5 offspring, who is in her first heat cycle. I remember the frenzy of our flee from the parents, and then I remember the amateur coupling we shared, too impatient to remove our full clothing. I nearly blush before I get myself under control. I don't feel the heat right now, so I suppose my needs, and hers, have been satisfied.
But then I wonder…
If the goal of heat is pregnancy, then will a simple release be enough to thwart her hormones? Or can her body tell whether or not…
Why the hell didn't Manticore give us more information on this subject? Surely we could have benefited from it. Imagine if we were on deep cover, and a female soldier went into heat, and there were multiple X-8 males nearby, and we ended up killing each other?
Well, now I know what to watch out for. I turn my focus back onto Eve, who hasn't acknowledged my presence yet. I raise up on one elbow, and give her a good stare.
"Are you alright?" I ask, watching her face for any twitches or give-aways.
"Yeah. A little sore from the concrete, but it'll be all healed in a minute or two." Her eyes shift over to me. "What did we just do?"
I wince before I can catch myself. For some reason I'm having a lot of trouble holding my defenses in check right now. "I believe that we let ourselves succumb to your, eh, cycle." I sigh. "And were impatient enough to succumb on a rock floor."
She smiles slightly. "Well, there are blankets, but they didn't provide much cushioning." She glances at my body for a moment, and I get the distinct feeling that she's very inexperienced with this sort of situation. I tense, and shift, unfortunately growing rather uncomfortable in my boxers… When we put our clothes back on, I think I might have to get rid of these, discreetly.
While Manticore has taught me a lot in ways of preparation for tight situations, they never taught us post-coital ethics and expectations. I had heard tales of higher-level classes in which we would be taught how to seduce and manipulate the opposite sex for information. Even though I'm not sure if our encounter would qualify as coitus… Eve is silent and distant while I think. I wonder if all of her senses have returned yet, because I think all mine have.
"You know, Leo, maybe we should think about getting back, before - Well, because Max told me that this would last a while, and I have a feeling that -"
"Yes, I think you're right. How long until, eh, you think you'll have fully recovered?"
"From the heat?" She begins to sit up, with her bra on, I watch as her chest tightens against the taut material. I take a deep breath.
"No, from the… incident. Until we can expect the affect to hit us again."
"Oh." She looks up at me and I raise my gaze to her face, watching her lips form the syllable. She shakes her head, and murmurs, "I can't really tell. I feel - Better. But I think-"
"I think we should get moving, Eve." I interrupt, and turn my back, picking up my torn shirt. I look at it, then at her. She has turned her back as well, and is shrugging into hers. I try my best to arrange my tank so that it'll cover me a bit, but I doubt any pedestrians will see anything strange in my ripped shirt. They're all dirt poor anyway, and wouldn't give a damn. I stand there, trying to decide what to do about my shorts, when I spot my pants nearby. "I'll be out in a minute, I'll catch up."
She gives me a confused look, then nods and walks out with an unsteadiness I didn't recognize. I watch her hips as she leaves, monitoring their motions, and I tell myself that I'm simply checking to see if she's limping. As soon as she's out of sight, I change into my pants and throw the boxers off into a pile of garbage, trying to shrug off the undignified lack of professionalism this all being approached as. Does anyone know how to handle this sort of scenario gracefully? An X-5 probably would have just ran off after their partner fell asleep.
I wonder if Eve is feeling ashamed and sick. I feel rather weak-willed and… Inferior. This is one of the few situations in my life when I didn't know how to handle it or didn't feel in control of it. I try to draw on as much training as I can before I march out into the sunlight, and see Eve leaning against a building across the street. I'm half surprised she even waited for me, and I feel a bit of respect rise up inside of me. She certainly isn't acting as inexperienced as she is. I suppose she also was trying to find her strength and control while she was waiting. I approach her with a face that I know shows little emotion. She does the same.
"Well, let's bounce."
I wake up with warmth surrounding me. I squint without my glasses, taking in the sunlight pouring itself onto the bed, and the mass of dark curls on my stomach. I smile, and close my eyes, wanting to sleep for just a little longer. This is how wonderful life used to be, seventeen years ago, while Max was pregnant with…
Eve. Oh, God. We still had no idea…
"Logan, you might as well just admit you're awake."
"Huh?" I say dumbly as Max lifts her head and turns to look at me. She smiles and runs her hand up my ribs. "Your heart rate and breathing patterns, remember. I could always tell before."
"Yeah, but that was so long ago, I had forgotten." I touch the soft hairs that hang level with her chin.
"Right." Her eyes avoid mine for a moment, and I know she's berating herself for leaving. I stroke her hair a few more times, before I raise up on my elbows and she sits up.
"We need to find her."
"I know you're worried, and I am too, maybe even more so, because I know what she's feeling, but…"
"But what?" I ask, confused. I expected Max to be freaking out right now.
"Well, Logan, I was going to say, at least she's with Leo."
I sit up fully then, and she gets off the bed, reaching for her clothes. I throw back the covers and feel around for a robe or something. "What do you mean, at least she's with Leo? It should be the worst part! He's Manticore, and he's as horny as… can be. God only knows what he's done to our daughter! Our daughter is out there, on the streets, possibly getting violated by a Manticore soldier who, if you've not forgotten, has been sent to capture you!" I watch her fumble around for a second. "I kept some of your old clothes in the bottom drawer of the dresser, and in the back of the closet."
Max sends me a look of gratitude, before opening the top drawer and tossing me a pair of blue boxers, and an undershirt. "Here, I don't think Zack is that much of family to tolerate seeing you naked with his baby sister."
I'm momentarily distracted. "Hell, he probably heard everything last night. He's going to drive steak knife through my-"
"He cleared out after fifty seconds of our activities. Poor guy." She saunters around the room, naked, with the old swagger I remember.
"As proud I am right now, could you please put on some panties or something, so that I can think?" She shoots me a saucy grin over her shoulder as she bends down to rifle through her drawer. I groan.
"Alright, I'll behave, Logan." She pulls on a nice pair of black underwear that looks like tiny shorts. I recall that being her favorite style. I asked her why once, and she said that that was the style they used to have at Manticore, and while she despised all her memories of that place, she couldn't shake the fact that she was most comfortable in those. I watch her also select an exercise tank, and then a pair of sweats. I pull on my own garments. Then I start thinking intelligently.
"What did you mean-"
"It's hard to explain, but I don't think she's in danger with Leo. And, well, to put it vulgarly, at least now she'll be guaranteed one partner, no more."
I suck in a breath, and glare, feeling my face turn red. "How the fuck does he guarantee that? I don't even want-"
"Oh honey, he's not gonna let another male anywhere near her for the next few hours. He'll keep her safe and under his care, because she's now his mate. Just ask Zack when he comes back." She shrugs. "It's very instinctual. What sane male would harm the potential mother of his offspring?"
"God, what if she is pregnant - What do you mean, ask Zack?"
"Well, it's just that, over the years, with so many of us females, and our cycles, and Zack running all over the country visiting them, incidents are bound to happen." She goes into the bathroom and I hear the faucet run.
I narrow my eyes. "Did Zack ever show up at one of your inopportune times?"
I've been out the whole night because of those two. It took me forty-nine seconds to decide to high-tail it, and to gather my jacket and keys and money. I tried not to slam the door, but I think Max might have heard. I know Logan was too… distracted.
I wandered around, hoping to catch the teenagers' scent, hoping to get lucky and stumble across them, hopefully in a fully-clothed state. I'm actually somewhat surprised that I haven't sniffed Eve out yet. I might be older, but I am still affected by the scent of heat. I was doing my best earlier not to show it, trying to stay non-violent. It's easier for me to control now, I suppose. I remember what it was like when I was younger, though. I remember how all-consuming it was. The trick is to not focus the lust on the actual female, and to apply it to another. I've had to do it many times over the decades with the X-5 females. Most of the time I had gotten one whiff, and ran out of the city as fast as possible, to wait it out for a few days. I'd go to a bar or once I was desperate enough to pick up a hooker - But most of the time it wouldn't hit me hard enough to take over, so I'd go pick a fight with some drunks.
I'm not proud of my moments of weakness, but Lydecker and all his merry men had this written into me, and there's not much I can do. Zane once confessed to running into one of our girls, twelve years ago, and she had been in heat. He told me that they had not been able to resist, and all it took was a sniff, across town, and they found each other and a nearby motel. He even divulged that they broke the bed and didn't come up for air for three days. I really didn't want to know, but I was pissed that he didn't check in at the contact number before traveling to another city, so that I might have been able to prevent this. Over the years, I've been able to memorize the cycles of all the females, now I have to memorize my niece's.
Zane never did end up telling me which one of our girls it had been.
I'm not sure whether or not that makes me happy. None of them ended up pregnant, so oh well, it's their business.
When Max heard, a few months later, she gave Zane a knowing smile, and I was confused. At first I thought that she might be the one, but then I realize that she knew which one it had been. That was the only time I was angry about not knowing.
As I walk now, I follow the debris of the markets, scattered all over the pavement, avoiding the foulest of it. I keep breathing through my nose, thinking and remembering. Eve's development has created a few set backs and complications that will have to be worked around or ratified.
I needed to figure out whether or not I trust this X-8 bastard. While I might sympathize what the kid is going through, that doesn't mean I have to trust him, or like him. I guess I'll have to wait and gage how he behaves with Eve.
After another twenty minutes of distractedly searching, I pass a crumbling old building that is dark inside. There are a few rags covering windows, and there is no door, so the smell drifts out to me uninhibited. I walk in, and am hit with it, right in the face. Eve's scent, incredibly strong, filled with the hormonal heat, and as I am about to run out, I catch something else.
I turn, surveying the room, and smell Leo's scent, just under hers. From across the room, I spot a bundle of cloth, which I recognize as Manticore-issued undershorts. I can smell the scent of sex from here, and now, I'm very pissed.
The whole scene smacks me in the face, and the sensory evidence is fresh enough that I know they must be close by.
I'm going to kill that boy.
And I'm going to lock up that girl.
In a big tower.