(A/N: I have taken some creative liberties with the timeline here. Please forgive all character and canon deviations in order to tell you a story! For this purpose the fluid has been recovered, but needs several months more "cooking" due to much of it being sprayed in Wikus' face. Wikus is in hiding in D9, waiting for the fluid to be ready so that they can ascend to the ship... but his relationship with Christopher has become complex, and the change in his body moves inexorably on.)




He has fallen, Wikus thinks, like the angels have fallen, and now he couples with demons in Hell.

The unforgiving sun beats down on the galvanized iron of he shack, cooking him and the creature between his legs, the one working over his body in mute concentration. The table's wood warps and creaks. It's not built for the pressure of thirty years and their combined weight.

To much sensory information. Too much deep, primordial disgust. *I'm fucking a creature. A fucking creature has his *thing* inside me.*

He can hear Christopher's exoskeletal plates sliding against each other like dry leaves in a drought. The rough shell of his jutting hips chafe the inside of Wikus' pale thighs. The segments of Christopher's narrow alien belly remind him of a centipede's back. The brush of primary mandibles on his shoulder, the one suppurating with the Change, is repulsive to him.

But he forces himself to look at what is being done to him, what he's become. The grimy shirt hangs off his arms, but other than that he's naked. His erect penis is only a residual human reaction to the soup of hormones flooding through his body. It knocks against Christopher's abdomen, sending sinful human aftershocks chasing the alien sensations.

He forces himself to look as Christopher's part, his *organ* his *penis*, his *whatever-the-fuck* stabs into the cloaca that has formed where his anus used to be.

At least Prawns don't stink beyond mown grass. That would be too much. As it is, he can go no lower.

Christopher on the other hand has his eyes mashed shut. He seems to be on autopilot each time they come together like this. His breath gushes out of him with each thrust. His maxillae are held stiffly against the side of his face. Perhaps he hates this even more than Wikus does, but once started, there is no point in which they can stop.

To combat his looming panic, Wikus yells. He shouts every time Christopher's prehensile organ unfolds itself within him, the rasp of it against his new, tender prawn-skin, the stinging flick of the end in a body still too human to process what is going on. He shouts curses in every language he knows, and some in no language. He shrieks that this is all Christopher's fault, accuses him of everything that has ever gone wrong in his life.

He never made so much noise with Tania. "You're so quiet," she used to say. "I can't tell when you've come."

Oh Tania. His Angel. He tries to imagine her face, and all he can remember is blonde hair and a veil. Beautiful. Now he's reduced to this - ugliness.

Christopher's expelled breath begins to speed up in a staccato pattern, and his clicks are analogous to "oh... oh... oh..."

He's fucking a creature.

Wikus hears his own approaching climax, his shouts of anger and despair and brutal pleasure. He wants to be punished for being weak, for being clumsy, stupid, the kind of man people laughed at in corridors, made fun of at parties, the little comments, "He's such a nothing little man, isn't he? Tania only married him because she pitied him. How long will it last...?"

"Fucking creature, harder, you fuck..."

His fingers - human and alien - dig into the rotting plank of the table until they bleed. He's straining for orgasm and fearing it at the same time. Christopher's almost on top of him now, his insect belly rasps the soft skin of Wikus' abdomen. His arms are drawn close. Wikus fears that Christopher will try to embrace him. He doesn't want intimacy. He doesn't want to cross that line. He prepares to push Christopher away once they're done.

"Fuck off," he'll say after they finish. "Get the fuck away from me."

He'll say this even though he initiated intercourse. He'll say it because he cannot bear to have anyone witness his degradation afterwards. Christopher will leave. Sometimes Wikus will cry. Weak.

Somewhere in the corner of his vision the door swings open, someone attracted by all the noise they're making.

He sees blue eyes gone wide in anxiety. He sees himself as the kid prawn would se him, a pornographic tableaux no child should see, a pathetic excuse for a human splayed out on the table, like an experiment in degrading acts.

The words come out of his mouth before he can stop them.

"Oh shit, the fooking kid..."

Christopher's eyes flash open in alarm. He pulls out too quickly, barbs against skin and the pain is intense, and real. Wikus groans and spasm's into a foetal position.

"Ah Jesus..."

Christopher has gone, calling for his child. The squalid shack is too hot. He's naked on a table, bleeding like a medical experiment.

He is in Hell.

After the unfortunate incident of the afternoon, Christopher did not return

Panting in the heat, Wikus rolled off the table and tried to find the rest of his clothes. He had halfway forgotten where he'd discarded them during those blind, fumbling few seconds between demanding sex from Christopher, his "Come on man, I'm in fooking agony," and Christopher being difficult about it, answering each of Wikus's pleas with a hard-clicked "No."

Or perhaps Christopher had torn the clothes off after he'd relented, seeking access to the spaces of Wikus' body, new and ripe with alien hormones, a terrible distraction to a Prawn isolated by rank and intelligence. The No's always gave way to incoherent clicks of submission, the unfolding of Christopher's *thing*, and the shameful act that followed.

Finally the shack's stifling heat and aimless clutter proved too much for Wikus. He gave up looking for the rags and stumbled outside, naked as a baby.

Behind Christopher's shack, someone had attached a steel drum to a cunning system of gutters to catch the intermittent rainwater. The water smelt of rust, was halfway on the verge of stagnating. Wikus washed himself down as best he could. The lukewarm water stung the edges of his skin. His insides felt bruised and raw. Christopher hadn't orgasmed, or climaxed or whatever-the-fuck it was Prawns did inside him, so hadn't brought the welcome numbness, the cessation of pain.

Now it was returning, a sick, swelling tide.

A door's slam interrupted Wikus' thoughts.

On the other side of the gutter-sewer path that separated the shacks, a figure shambled out of the dark doorway.

Fuck! He immediately held his washrag to his crotch with his human hand, suddenly ashamed of his nakedness in front of a woman.

Or a girl, more accurately. Teetering on ill-fitting garbage-collection high heels, she made her uneven way across the ditch towards the water-drum. The heels sunk into the mud.

As she approached, Wikus saw how dull her dark eyes were, her lifeless expression. She might have been pretty once. Now she was one of the prostitutes that populated the stinking edges of the slum. The spectre of interspecies sex was a taboo subject in all levels of society. Not so long ago he would have crossed the road not to be near her.

"Oh, I was just... just finishing up," he stammered.

She ignored his protests, snatched the washrag out of Wikus' hand. With one bored, casual movement she pulled off her dress.

Ah the fuck. The kid was no older than Samantha, his niece. Less than fourteen if she was a day, breasts no more than bumps on her chest. She didn't even have hair between her legs. A scar on her forearm marked her as one of Mbube's.

The water made the girl's dark skin glisten in the sunlight. Thankfully, he was not aroused, just startled by the utter humanness of a person who did not have tentacles or antennae.

As if the water had brought her back to life she gave Wikus a hard stare. He was trying to hide himself behind the drum, waiting for a quick getaway.

"You're the InDuna's white man?" she demanded. Her accent was unexpected, like a private-school girl's. But newer layers of street-dialect were worn over the top, both disguise and protection.

"No, I'm just staying with him," stuttered Wikus, trying not to look any lower than her prominent collarbones. There was no hiding what she thought he was. Like her. Here to service the creatures.

"You fuck him. I hear you screaming in the shack there."

To add insult, she pointed at his thigh where his cloaca had expelled the last evidence of their fornication, a bloodied, black smear.

"Ah fook, I mean, sorry." He went to rub his leg and stood there, exposed.

"No need to be shamed. I've seen them all. Black ones, white ones, poleepkwa ones."

Wikus didn't know what to say in response. He was a vain, selfish man if he could only cry about his life. His life might have been bad, but so was hers. He's come to Christopher by choice. Mbube sold her to the Prawns for sex.

"Are you and the InDuna fighting?"

"Why do you call him that?"

"That's what the others say he is. Big boss poleepkwa." She pointed at the scrawl on the side of Christopher's shack. He'd not really ever noticed it but for the other gang signs. InDuna.

"So, are you fighting?"


"Will he give you to someone else now?"

"No! Listen - uh - what's your nameā€¦?"


"Ntozake, look, I'm not here because I have to be. I can leave whenever I want," he lied. "I'm not a..." He waved his human hand at her, and her expression hardened, which made him even more awkward.

"You want clothes?"

"Oh, um...what?"

She gave him a look that teenagers always give adults who are stupid. For a second she could have been a schoolgirl trying to explain something obvious to him, such as asking a naked man if he wanted clothes.

"The poleepkwa in there, he collects clothes. Swenks around like a human. Likes to think he's the big man with a human woman."

"I'm sorry, I know it must be bad for you."

She held up his little finger. "I prefer it. All poleepkwa only little down there."

Wikus pressed his mouth together, thinking of Christopher being decidedly un-little. "I'll take the clothes."

Ntozake pulled her floral dress back over her head. "I like you, umlungu," she said with a hint of wickedness. "I will dress you well."

In the cooling evening light, Wikus sat and watched as Christopher tried to explain to his son what they had been doing.

Not so far away a gang of Prawns were incinerating a bin-load of rubbish. Noxious smoke roiled across the surrounding shacks like a hyena nuzzling under a carcass. A pair of stray dogs fought over a dirty scrap of cow-flesh, only to be kicked aside by powerful Prawn foot.

Curious eyes still turned in his direction. Wikus pulled the blanket over his head, wished they could have had some privacy. He remembered all too well the younger sister of his first girlfriend coming upon them by accident. She had immediately told Helen's mother, and Helen - sandy-haired Helen with the dimpled chin and the mock piety - had accused Wikus of forcing himself upon her.

So at fifteen and still a virgin, he'd been taken to the police station and had to recount in excruciating detail his first sexual almost-encounter, about how Helen had been the one to call him to her room, had undressed him and laughed at his flaccid penis. He hadn't even managed to get inside her. (Only later would he understand that she'd never seen a prick that wasn't erect for her and was startled by his un-aroused state. The revelation did not help.)

Now all those feelings were being brought back. The shame of it. The frustration of being interrupted mid-coitus and wondering when it would be appropriate to ask again.

His alien senses picked up Christopher Junior in a state of fretfulness, his little hands wringing.

"Why were you hurting him Father?"

"Little one, I was not hurting him."

"He was crying. You were on top of him, hurting him."

Wikus closed his eyes, and turned his head. How could this be explained to a child?

Christopher trill-clicked gently, "When two adults mate, Little One, they will want to be close, to express in actions their feelings for each other. For humans it is different. Humans will make sounds to express emotions. It is cathartic for him to do this when we are together. They are not pain-sounds."

"No?" C.J. turned and looked to Wikus for conformation.

Wikus shook his head wordlessly. Christopher had demanded his [participation. Made him sit down in front of Chris Junior as if they were some united front.

"One day you will do the same." A pat on C.J.'s head, tender. "You will find your mate and you will know of this feeling."

"Will he yell like the sweetie-man?"

Christopher gave a wry cluster of clicks, his laugh. "A human vocalizes for comfort, to communicate. Your mate with not be so loud."

"I don't think I will want to do that."

"It is done out of *love*."

Wikus frowned and the unfamiliar trill. It sounded like *love*, but with added stresses that denoted something sacred, holy.

"You love him, Father?"

Wikus could see Christopher's shoulders sag. He touched his child's head. "Yes, it is our love-act. Don't be alarmed at his human reaction, as he cannot help it. It is important to them as well."

Where had Christopher learnt such an understanding of humans? Certainly not off him. Wikus gave a cough, to hide his face.

C.J. ran to Wikus' knee, and hugged it with delight, his tiny maxilla quivering in the way they did when emotions ran high. All Wikus could think of was the MNU sociologist who had dismissed prawn pair-bonding and familial relationships as a rare anomaly, a statistical blip so small as to be irrelevant.

Wikus hesitated, then copied Christopher's affectionate gesture with his graceless alien hand, feeling worse than ever. Why did children of all fucking species have to look up at them with such clean and naked hope? He wanted to curl up and die.

"Yeah, why don't you run along mate, I need to talk to your dad."

C.J. hugged him again, then disappeared into the shadows.

Christopher turned away from Wikus. He would not meet Wikus' gaze.


"I have lied to my child. I promised myself that I would never do this." The garbage-fire chased shadows across his face. "I have broken my promise."

Wikus wanted to say that he was sorry. He wanted this tight feeling in his chest to go away. He wanted not to give a fuck about what a Prawn thought. There were over two million of them, a swarm, a plague. Why should the feelings of one even matter?

"You didn't have to lie. It was fine if you told him the truth about us."

"The truth?" Christopher rose to his full height, his hands bare, hands that could tear his arm off as easily as he tore meat off a dead animal. "Tell him the truth? That I have debased a sacred act so that you can be like that?"

Christopher jabbed a finger to where Ntozake swayed in an glue-fug under Mbube's watchful eyes. She was so doped-up she didn't even know when she was being sold to service or just lolling around like a Queen.

Christopher's clicks were like a butcher's saw snarling against bone. "I will not have my child growing up ruined and hardened by your brutal planet and your barbaric ways! He will not be like me. He will come to know the love-act in joy and pride and respect, know of it in all the ways I have never known it."

That said, Christopher stalked away.