Title: Milsi stalks and Kerogen

Fandom: Crystal Singers Universe (Anne McCaffrey)

Type: Oneshot (Second in Partners Arc)

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Romance/ Humour

Pairing: Mainly Lanzecki./ Trag, (a hint of Lanzecki/Jinna)

Summary: Second in the Partners Arc. Lanzecki gets used to Trag's oddities, and gets just a little more intimate.

A/N: Is slash. Not graphic slash, but still male/male relationship. And for the other side of the spectrum- there are touches of het. Also I just wanted to clear up what I meant about partner in the last one. I meant partner in crystal singing- not necessarily sexual partner, though Trag was offering that as well. So usually I'll use partner for a crystal singing relationship, and lover for well a lover.

Thanks to- on the off chance they'll read this as well: GinaLee, Shlane, cathrl. reviews very appreciated!

Trag was annoyed. Most people would not have noticed that he was annoyed, since no sign of it appeared on his calm, handsome face. Even his hands did not betray it, since they lay loosely clasped in his lap. Perhaps his posture did, just a little bit- he was sitting ramrod straight, when he usually slouched. He was annoyed because Lanzecki who was never the most notable for being punctual, was twenty two minutes late for their meeting. When with lips just the tiniest bit compressed, he exited the infirmary, he was still more annoyed to discover the reason why Lanzecki was late. His recent partner had got sidetracked, by the more than ample charms of the woman who had shared Trag's entry class. She had just finished her Transition, and though she was still a little sick, she radiated more vitality, and liveliness than Trag did when he was well.

Green hair bounced back from her shoulders, and Trag wondered absently how she got it to move like that. He'd never seen hair like that, or a body like that apart from on holo-vids, and he had to wonder just what career she had entered crystal singing from. Lanzecki was more than appreciative of the view, and she seemed just as happy to offer it. Trag's lips thinned just a very little more. Jinna had been just a little annoyed by his brush off in the space shuttle, and he didn't really want to run into her, or to interrupt their increasingly animated conversation. With accustomed agility, he slipped round the corner from them unobtrusively, not noticing Lanzecki's sharp eyes spot him, though he continued to talk to Jinna. After a few minutes more casual conversation, he excused himself and left though, not before with a pretty smile, she had taken his keypad, and tapped her room number into it, with an enticing look. "Look forward to seeing you sometime," she purred.

Brow wrinkling, he tried to think of where Trag would go to, if he was neither hungry, nor ill. Something itched in his mind, usually an indication he had had forgotten something. He fished out his data holder, and flicked through the most recent entries he'd made. There, right under 2.30, was meet Trag in the infirmary. Glancing at his watch, he groaned. It was 3.05 now, and even after only two weeks of being partners, he knew that Trag hated late people, almost as much as Lanzecki disliked people who were scrupulous about time. Well matched was not how most people would have described them. Though they did share some things, sensitivity to black crystal, a taste for Karin mint liquor and a horrible temper, they were diametrically opposed on a lot more things.

He thought about that, as he walked the distance to check Trag's room. People had already commented on the oddity of Lanzecki, who though scarcely old, was nonetheless a skilled singer, and well known for being irate, partnering with a first-cutter, who despite his Milekey Transition had little of the charisma and interest generally associated with that breed. The more generous, gave Lanzecki credit for seeing something else in the young man, most dismissed it as foolishness, and were already taking bets on when their partnership would split, most people reckoning it would take seven weeks for Lanzecki to get tired of Trag's pedanticism, or Trag to be fed up with Lanzecki's controlling streak.

Pausing outside the door labelled 147, he noticed the Privacy lock was on. Eyebrows raising, he rapped twice. Trag opened the door, looking irritated. "I'm just about to bathe," he explained. Lanzecki gave him a look. His patented 'nothing I haven't seen before' look. Which was mostly true, even if he didn't remember many of the details. Or anything really. Crystal haze had a habit of doing that. Using his credit number, he dialled up two Tantri- literally just Karin on ice, and turned round, just as Trag sank under the fluid in his bath-tub for a moment. Lanzecki considered the awkward little room, and finally sat on the floor on one side of the tub, placing one Tantri within easy reach of Trag, and retaining one himself.

"Why didn't you speak to me, when you slipped past earlier?" he asked casually.

A drop of fluid fell on his arm, shaken off by Trag in his discomfort obviously. "I didn't know that you could see me," he said quietly.

Lanzecki raised an eyebrow though well aware that his partner could not see it. "Give me a little credit," he drawled. "So?"

"Well you seemed to be having an interesting conversation with Jinna," he said defensively. "And since me and Jinna aren't on the best of terms at the moment, it seemed like the most polite course of action to allow you to continue the conversation without distraction, and without the addition of a third component who I can assure you is of absolutely no help in sustaining a protracted social endeavour." He shifted a little, stretching out for his drink, which he swallowed with a sigh of pleasure. "Crushed ice is one of mankind's greatest pleasures," he mumbled.

Lanzecki shook his head in absolute bewilderment. "Are you sure you are a crystal singer? You used words that I am fairly sure were more than a syllable long, and you avoided barging into a conversation because you thought it would be rude. Neither of those is precisely the most well known trait of a crystal singer." Taking a sip of his own drink, he added almost as an afterthought. "Nor is liking crushed ice actually."

"Some of us have manners Lanzecki, that don't disappear with the advent of being a crystal singer. You may have had the privilege of forgetting your past and your antecedents, but I don't actually have that luxury as of yet, and social graces have been fairly well drilled into me. I'm different from most crystal singers anyway. I think I'm the only person who was fitter for the psych examination, after a breakdown than before."

This was the first time Lanzecki had heard Trag mention anything about his past, and though from momentary politeness he didn't want to push, he soon conquered that wayward urge, and began. "You had a break down?"

The tension in Trag's voice was strong. "Yes," the reply was brief, and with no elaboration. "Most singers don't like crushed ice?"

Lanzecki nodded, the motion of his head visible. "They claim it does nothing for the vocal cords. I ignore them, most of them prefer warm beer." He gave a tiny, fastidious shudder. He didn't press the subject of a breakdown, though it was interesting. "Do you want to have dinner here, or in the canteen?" He'd prefer here, the effort of walking down was really not worth the result. Hopefully, he added that he'd heard Jinna was going to be eating downstairs.

Trag stood, dripping fluid, and nudged Lanzecki none too gently with a wet hand. "Pass me my robe please," he asked. "And don't look," he added. Lanzecki snorted incredulously, though he did get up enough to grab the robe, and pass it behind him. "Dinner up here sounds good," he replied, to Lanzecki's earlier comment. "Though I can't think why you would be avoiding Jinna." This last was said in a dry tone, that smacked of a little discreet amusement.

Lanzecki nodded, turning around to give Trag a steadying hand out of the bath, despite the strange look the other man shot him. "I don't like importunate," Lanzecki replied. "Don't get me wrong, with a body like that I'm sure she has no shortage of offers, but I prefer to issue the invitations. Besides you don't like her. That's a good reason for staying up here surely?" Trag padded into the other room, dialling up the food he liked, and being pushed aside by Lanzecki who gave Trag's selections an incredulous glance. "How can you eat that stuff?" he demanded, a little dramatically, and punched in his own selections. After a brief, fierce struggle, they agreed to order some of each, a compromise that neither of them was entirely happy with, viewing with contempt the nutrition selected by the other.

"Lanzecki," Trag said at his very driest and most pedantic. "I have no objections if you would rather spend your evening with Jinna. She is pleasant enough company if you stopper your ears, and let your eyes do the listening." The caustic comment, caused Lanzecki to raise an eyebrow, which was getting considerable over usage this evening.

"Why would I want to do that?" Lanzecki asked, being able to guess the younger man's answer already. Frustration, if nothing else should have driven him to it. The last few days crystal cutting, until a storm had driven them in had been characterized by Lanzecki taking particular care in being out of the room in the mornings, though he was perfectly willing to bunk up in the night. After thinking matters through, he had decided, that this was going to have to be Trag's call. The younger man was going to have to make the first move this time, as to whether they were to be lovers as well as partners. After all, only Trag knew how much he would feel comfortable with.

A slight flush appeared on Trag's face which amused Lanzecki no end. He hadn't seen anyone blush in as long as he could remember. "You know," he said, making a gesture that could have meant anything from not having sex, to doing the ironing. As he did so, he crossed over to where the food was arriving, dividing it into two seperate lots, one for himself, and one for Lanzecki. "Going without sex."

"You are," pointed out Lanzecki logically. "Why would it be harder for me, than for you?"

"Because there are no rumours of my insatiability as there are of you," was the reply, as Trag lifted his first utensil, and dug into the surface of the pale pink creamy substance in a bowl in front of him, closing his eyes for a moment, in pleasure.

"I have rumours?" asked Lanzecki startled, and watching in fasinated horror as Trag raised a second spoonful of the awful gloopy stuff to his mouth, with every appearance of enjoyment. He broke off a handful of milsi stalks himself, and dipped them in Palerno sauce, that was renowned for its spiciness throughout most of the known universe.

"Yes you do have rumours, and I keep getting odd looks because of them thank you. After all, if you are indeed insatiable, they want to know how I keep up," Trag replied, throwing a look of distaste towards the Palerno sauce, as he dipped the flat, sugared cake into his bowl, and ate the result.

"What do you tell them?" Lanzecki enquired, as he scooped up the meaty brol beans, and folded them inside a tortilla shaped case of salted dough, eating with every appearance of relish, while gagging at the sight of Trag's food, currently disappearing down the other man's throat.

Taking a moment, to recover from the sight of the brol beans which he particularly disliked, their texture a bane to his palate, Trag answered. "They don't ask me out loud obviously, just talk about it in loud voices to each other. Three people told me they couldn't keep up with you." Trag shook his head wonderingly, and began to bite into the pastry roll, that had some mysterious jell like substance within, a deep blue in colour, and possessed it seemed of a life of its own.

Lanzecki looked bewildered, and not a little disgusted. "I wonder why," he mused. "I usually got bored of them, and they got a little annoyed, when I showed I was bored. Perhaps insatiable sounds a better reason for breaking up, than boredom. A self perpetuating myth then." He chewed thoughtfully down on the flat discs of meat, liberally spiced.

Trag slammed his bowl on the table. "Lanzecki," he pleaded. "Can you please eat something decent? I'm sorry but I'm going to retch if another wave of spice-scent comes drifting towards me."

"There you are with the apologies again," Lanzecki pointed out, before returning the attack. "If we are talking on the subject of decent food, then what on earth is that in front of you? I'll eat my cari-sak if there is one nutritious thing there. Sugar and more sugar. How can you touch it? It's not edible even." A calculating look grew in his eyes. "I'll eat something of yours if you will of mine."

Trag agreed, though out of desperation, eating the stuff could not possibly be worse than sitting there watching Lanzecki swallow it. Taking his time about selecting what he was going to eat, he finally settled on the flat meat discs. He scraped the sauce and spices off first as best as he could, with the spoon that was the only clean utensil left on the table, and waited until Lanzecki had a piece of pastry roll in his hand, before taking a bite. He chewed and swallowed carefully, analyzing the not unpleasant taste, even with the faint traces of spieces still adhering to it. Lanzecki had a similarly mild reaction to the pastry, eating it with little protest. As they looked at each other a little sheepishly, and struggled to find words to explain, a knock on the door galvanized them "I left the Privacy off," groaned Trag, only to find his words muffled by an onslaught of Lanzecki, seizing him, and kissing him thoroughly just as Jinna came in the room.

"Trag, have you seen Lanz.." she began, then groaned. "Fardles, couldn't you have bloody put Privacy on?" She backed out hastily, switching Privacy as she left, mumbling something about damn rude Singers, and their lack of consideration for others sensibilities.

As she left the room, Lanzecki released Trag nonchalantly, and went back to finishing off the last remnants of his drink. "What on earth did you do that for?" asked Trag, bemused, even as he went back to polish off the last of his own.

Lanzecki grinned. "Sitting in a room with my partner, after an obviously large and varied dinner, with drink on one side, and I'm not doing something that requires privacy? They'd think I was loosing my touch. I bet you 10 credits, that by the time the story has done the rounds, people will think Jinna walked in on us fucking." He paused. "Did you mind?" Trag shook his head, and tipped back the last of his drink, stacking the plates ready for disposal.

No he hadn't minded. He looked at Lanzecki out of the corner of one eye, and debated asking him, why he had so very chivalrously left Trag alone on crystal-mornings, especially when Trag had made it as clear as he possibly could, without explicitly saying so, that his advances would not be unwelcome. After all giving him his room number, had been the most blatant hint the other man needed surely? Trag groaned. Singers seemed to be a remarkably obtuse lot, and forcing Trag to make the first move seemed unfair. Lanzecki was swinging back on his chair now. Trag sighed. Obviously blatant hints weren't enough. "You can stay the night if you want," he offered. Despite being partners, they had decided to wait until they were sure the partnership was stable, before sharing quarters.

Lanzecki smiled. "I wouldn't want to inconvenience you," he said brightly. "I can make my own way back easily enough, and this is small enough already."

Trag rolled his eyes, and said something that sounded suspiciously like 'idiot man.' "I meant," he said patiently. "Stay the night with me." Lanzecki looked thoroughly surprised, and not a little bemused.

"With you, as in with you?" he asked, and when answered with a nod, smiled a grin that struck into the rapidly failing heart of Trag. "Why that would be lovely," he purred. Jumping to his feet, he made his way to the door. "I just need to get a couple of things," he explained. "Oh and don't forget Privacy when I return." As the door slid shut behind him, Trag wondered if that had really been such a smart thing to do.

What if the rumours were true?

Reviews very welcome. Sequel planned.