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Macon & Alosa 2

Chapter One

“Macon.” Alosa said as she stood behind him while he piloted his ship. “Macon.” She touched his shoulder and he blinked, looking up at her.

“Sorry, is everything alright?”

“Where are we going? We changed course, I could feel it.”

“A planet pinged on my radar and I wanted to check it out. I should have asked first, sorry.” read more

Macon & Alosa

Chapter One

Alosa stared at the camera that watched her, lost in thought again about where she could be and why. She had been abducted precisely one hundred and eighty days ago, six months to the day she had been in here and in that time not a soul had come to her besides a robot that would bring her food, other necessities and the occasional book to read. She couldn’t even remember her kidnapping. One second she was hanging up her phone and the next she woke up in this beautiful cell. As far as prisoners went she was living a pampered life but it killed her not to know why and it caused her to yell again “who kidnaps someone and never comes to them or even talks to them! Please, just let me go or at least come talk to me and tell me why. I just want to know why!”

She sat on her bed and spoke in a calmer voice “You don’t make any sense…and I know you might not be able to hear me but I have nobody to talk to so if I’m talking to myself I may as well…I know you know me, you have to. You always send me food I like and you know I’m allergic to peanuts because I’ve never gotten anything with peanuts in it…is this some sort of test to see how long until I go crazy? Did I do something to you and now you’re punishing me? Did you like the guy I was making a second date with so you put me in here so you could have him? I mean, you don’t even have to come talk to me yourself, send me a letter with that robot…please…” She had said all this before and she knew she’d say it again in the future, she’d keep trying until who ever had taken her let her go.

Macon gave a sigh of frustration as he watched her. Six months, six months and he hadn’t said a word to her. He groaned as he dropped his face in his hands. It wasn’t like he had meant for it to turn out like this. He had been meaning to approach her in person, especially after finding her. Taking her had been spurt of the moment, to protect her, and he had found himself far too cowardly to say anything to her. What could he say now? Hey, it’s me, do you remember me? We met a long time ago when you were just a kid and I’ve been watching over you like a creep ever since oh and by the way, alien.

He knew he needed to say something, anything. He hated himself every time he looked in on her. She was confused and angry, justifiably so and he wasn’t sure if she would be willing to listen to him. He let out another frustrated sigh and decided to stop avoiding the situation. He pulled out a piece of paper and grabbed a pen. Writing letters wasn’t usually something he did, but he owed her at least a little bit of an explanation. He stared at the blank page for a few moments and then started, hoping maybe if he reassured her she wasn’t in any danger, he might be able to set foot in that room and face her.

Alosa was startled when the robot came to her again. Her internal clock was perfect and the robot never came off cue. She actually gasped when she saw it gripped a letter. Finally, finally she’d at least have some sort of explanation as to why she had been taken. Macon watched nervously, afraid of her reaction, afraid still he had ruined any chance with her by keeping her this long without any explanation. He wasn’t sure if she was done reading or not when she stopped to say “I gathered at this point you aren’t going to hurt me. I mean, you’ve had ample time. It’s most of why I don’t understand. Most people kidnap people wanting to rape or harm them but you’ve just been taking care of me like I’m some sort of fragile pet”

She looked back down, she wasn’t done reading. “so we did meet, you dont say how long ago though. Well, I suppose maybe if I finish the letter and leave commentary for after” she looked back down a second time “soooo yeah, fragile pet kind of deal because you were trying to protect me. I need more answers though. Please, come talk to me. I’m grateful for the letter, I really am but it’s going to take us forever to have a conversation like this. I promise to listen. You don’t even have to take me out of this room, you can come in right?”

Macon rubbed the back of his neck, letting out a sigh. He wanted to see her, he knew he owed her that much. He stood, feeling nervous, terrified even. What if she hated him? It’s not like he wouldn’t deserve it, but it would crush him. He ran his fingers through his hair and straightened his shirt. He hoped he looked alright. He stepped out of the room, his heart thundering in his chest as he headed for her room. He tried out a few lines, not exactly sure how he was supposed to start an actual conversation with her. His worry increased when he was finally standing in front of her door and he hesitated as he reached for the button that would open it.

Alosa jumped to her feet when the door opened, her heart stuttering a little at the bright silvery eyes that met hers. There was something about them, something familiar. He looked nervous. “You wrote the letter?” She finally asked.

“Yes.”

“You didn’t give me your name.”

“It’s Macon.

“Macon, please, tell me what this is all about. Why was I in danger and why wouldn’t you talk to me?”

“I was scared you wouldn’t understand”

“I’m listening” she didn’t seem as hostile as he thought she’d be about this situation so he walked the rest of the way into the room, shutting the door behind him and leaning against it, not sure if he should go any closer to her. “that man was going to hurt you…the one you were going to go on a date with”

“How did you know he’d hurt me? Physically? Emotionally?” He just stood there silently but she tried to be patient regardless of her frustration. She worried if she yelled he’d walk out and she’d be alone again, stuck in this room by herself for perhaps eternity. “Physically…”

“How did you know” he swallowed “well…I…I’ve been watching over you a long time…”

“I thought you looked familiar…your eyes…I know them” he smiled for a second but instantly felt stupid and embarrassed for it. He had no reason to smile, he knew what this all looked like to her. “do you remember anything else?”

“No” he nodded “well…you were a child when I first met you…”

“so you were a child too, we played together?” he shook his head.

“I was an adult like I am now. You were alone, you had been separated from your parents during a hike so I helped you get back.”

“But you look so young.”

“My kind age incredibly slow.”

“Your kind?”

“I’m an alien. I pilot an exploratory vessel and I was visiting your planet at the time.”

Alosa swallowed. An alien? While his appearance was a bit strange, he looked human to her. “I see.”

“I know how crazy that sounds, but it’s true. I decided to keep tabs on you, even from far away, just in case. I don’t know why, but it was like I had too. When I realized what that man was going to do, I…I stupidly kidnapped you.”

“Where am I now?”

“On my ship.”

“are you going to let me out to see the rest?”

“If you promise not to touch anything. You might be tempted to try and escape but you might hurt yourself trying. I’m not keeping you forever…so…just promise me you wont try anything that could get you hurt”

“You’d…you’d really let me out” it honestly shocked her. She had expected a firm no, even now. He had kept her all this time only in this room “I never intended to keep you in here so long…I’m so sorry I was a coward” she stood, coming closer to this strange man”let me see your ship, please” she didn’t know what she was expecting but certainly not a ship but when she was let out that looked like precisely what they were in.

He stayed close to her, scared of what she might do.

Alosa hurried to one of the windows running along the hallway and was amazed to see darkness and stars stretching out before her. She moved closer, her palm pressing against the glass, her breath fogging the glass. She looked down, swallowing when she saw Earth below them, the ship orbiting the planet. “That’s…is that really…?”

“Earth, yes.”

Her heart gave a jump and she felt her legs get weak. She felt Macon’s arms wrap around her and he turned her into him. “I’m fine.”

“You’re not, you almost fell.” He knew holding her was probably stupid, but he didn’t like the idea of her getting hurt in any way.

“We’re really in space.”

“Yes, sorry about the shock.”

“You think after what happened it wouldn’t be.” She stood up straight and he let her go as she stepped back.

“Are you alright?”

“Yeah, I mean, I’m alright enough.”

Chapter Two

“I’m sorry…I truly was just trying to protect you” He wanted to say it again, desperate to not have completely ruined the chance at friendship with her. “well…I see you’re telling the truth now but keeping me that long…its been maddening”

“I’m sorry…I…I owe you forever, any amount of favors you ever need just let me know” He really did look apologetic, especially those silver eyes. “what did you do about my date…”

“called in a tip and dropped off proof of things he had done to other women…he was convicted and sentenced…you can look it up at home. I’ll take you now if you wish it”

“I need to…my family and friends are probably going crazy” He hadnt thought of that and now felt even worse. She could see the shift in his face “I get you were trying to protect me…I just wish you had gone about this differently…in any case…I wont tell anybody you took me. I’ll say Ive been held prisoner but I’ll pretend I don’t know who had me so you dont get in any trouble”

“why would you do that”

“I’m so curious now and you’ll probably flee earth without giving me any answers if I dont make sure you aren’t at risk of being arrested”

“I don’t think anything could make me leave, honestly.”

“Why’s that?”

He blushed, the color standing out against his pale skin. “Oh…uh…because, you know.” He rubbed the back of his neck. He didn’t want to come off as any weirder than he already was. He couldn’t tell her that being near her made him happy, not after he had practically stalked her and on top of that kidnapped her. He probably looked like a lunatic. “Like I said, whatever you want, as long as it’s in my power, I’ll do it for you.” He cleared his throat. “So, let’s get you home.”

“Okay.”

He guided her down the hallway to the back of his ship and into an empty, grey room with a darker grey metal disc sitting in the middle. “Just stand here and don’t freak out, I promise you’re completely safe.” He stood next to her and waved his hand in front of him, bringing up projected console.

“That’s cool.”

“This is even cooler.” He typed in some numbers and then hit a button. The disc under them lit up and she reflexively grabbed his arm. “It’s alright, I promise.”

Next thing she knew she was back on earth and near her home “wha…what” she said in shock. “My ship is incredibly advanced…if you ever trust me enough to board it again there’s a lot of amazing things I can show you…”

“for now I just want to be home…well…if I still have a home”

“why wouldn’t you have a home?”

“well I haven’t paid rent in six months’ he frowned “I am so sorry Alosa…theres so much I didn’t stop to think about”

“well now I certainly believe you aren’t from here so…I get it but seriously…don’t you do that again. I swear I would have gone crazy after too much longer…even with all those books you kept sending me” He wanted to say sorry again but knew it might become annoying. She walked up to her apartment and he handed Alosa her key “thankfully…I did think of something” she tried it and it worked, the locks hadn’t been changed. She stepped inside and almost cried with relief to be home and it still be her home. She wondered how, if maybe her family had kept paying for her place in hope they’d find her. She had a few particularly wealthy family members she was close to so it was possible.

“it’s still yours then…good”

“did you grab my cellphone?”

“no” she looked for it everywhere but couldn’t find it, coming to the conclusion a friend or family member may have taken it “since I don’t have a house phone do you have any fancy way to take me to my parents house? I have to let everyone know I’m okay and they deserve to be the first”

“Hold tight to me again” she did without hesitation and he still couldn’t believe her willingness to trust him at all after what he had done, even though it was for the sake of her safety. He blushed as they appeared in front of her parents home, hating how stalkery it felt to know where everyone in her life lived. She bolted for the door, trying to pull it open but it was locked so she began knocking, wishing she had more composure about it but she had missed them so much.

When the door was finally unlocked and opened, she jumped into her father’s arms, shocking him to the point that he stood frozen. “Alosa?”

“Daddy.”

His arms locked around her. “Oh my…oh my god, Alosa.” He screamed for his wife as he held tightly to her, crying. “Where? How?”

Her mother covered her mouth in shock when she saw her daughter and, her husband pulled her into his embrace, all of them standing there, tears running down their faces. “Where have you been? What happened to you?” Her mother asked.

“I was kidnapped by these two men…thats all I could ever tell about them.I finally got away” Her parents seemed to get emotional all over again and she wanted to just enjoy their embrace but she knew she had to think up the rest of her story before they asked too many more questions. She was now realizing it would have probably been better to figure out the story she wanted to tell before coming here but she just hadn’t been able to wait. She had missed everyone so immensely.

They were so wrapped up in Alosa it took them awhile to notice Macon “who is this?”

“The first person I came upon when I got away. He’s Macon, he helped me get here” Macon smiled awkwardly and came a little closer, feeling guilty when her mother hugged him and her father shook his hand and introduced himself “I’m Hamlet and this is my wife Paige. Please come in” Paige wiped at her face “yes, please, I’m going to go in there and cook all of Alosa’s favorites I’m able to and I’d love for you to enjoy the meal as well”

“Oh I…”

“come on Macon” Alosa urged gently from the porch. He almost teared up himself as he relented “Okay” They were soon inside and settling down in the living room where Paige couldn’t help but hug her daughter again “are you thirsty baby”

“I’ve been thinking about that perfect lemonade you make so much. Do you have any already made”

“I just made a pitcher yesterday, just one moment. I’ll get a glass for…”

“Macon”

“Macon too then” She hurried off and Alosa said “the first place I went was home…I couldn’t find my cell to call anyone. Do you guys have it?”

“The police did for awhile but I think your Great Uncle Jakoby ended up with it. He’s why you still had an apartment to go to. Right away he talked to the people that owned your apartment. He wanted you to have your own place to return to. He was more confident you’d be back than anybody. I couldn’t believe it seeing him again. I wonder who in the hell does good enough work for him to still look like that with how old he is” Alosa gave a half hearted smile at her dads comment. He sounded so sad, like he was struggling not to just sob that she was home. She walked over to him and settled in his lap so he could hold her “God we missed you…we missed you so much Alosa”

Macon found himself wanting to crawl into a hole. Every moment he was around these people, he hated himself even more. He wanted to get up and leave, but he couldn’t move and swallowed down the knot forming in his throat. “So how did you find my girl?” Hamlet asked when he could calm himself.

“Uh…I spotted her walking so I picked her up.” Macon replied.

“Did you see anyone else?”

“No, just her.”

Paige came back with a glass of lemonade and Alosa took it with a happy smile. “Thanks mom.”

“We need to let everyone know, especially the authorities.” Paige said. “Do you need to go to the hospital?”

Alosa knew what they must be thinking, that she was assaulted. “No, I’m fine, just tired and happy to be home.”

“well don’t expect to have to lift a finger, you rest all you need to and if you want to get rid of that apartment and come back home awhile your room is still yours, you know that”

“I know mom…thank you” Paige hugged her daughter again then went into the kitchen, obviously trying not to sob again in front of her daughter. “I guess I should start calling people” Alosa said and her father handed her his cellphone. She got out of his lap, sitting back next to Macon as she began letting everyone in her family know she was okay. She then called her closest friends before making a long post on Facebook. She was just looking it over for misspelled words or punctuation errors when her mother called them to eat.

She just clicked post, if anything was typed wrong it was typed wrong and she doubted anybody would Grammar Nazi a post like that anyway. They all sat together, soon enjoying the amazing food her mother prepared. Macon, had made her these things fairly frequently but it was still an amazing treat from her mother. As most kids did she preferred her moms cooking over anybody else’s. Eating it just gave her this warm feeling in her heart.

Her parents talked the whole time, making sure she was alright and getting to know Macon, who she could tell was uncomfortable. She was amazed at how easy he was to read, at least for her. “We thought the worst when that boy you were going to go out with was arrested.” Paige said, turning the conversation back to her daughter.

“I was ready to kill him when we found out what he had been doing.” Hamlet added. “But he kept saying he didn’t know where you were.”

“It wasn’t him.”

“That’s the only good thing that really came out of all of this. If he had touched you…”

“It’s okay daddy, I’m okay, I wasn’t hurt.”

Chapter Three

“we can see that…its wild to see you so healthy and seemingly unharmed…”

“I didnt have to suffer much mom and dad, so dont worry…I’m so glad to finally be home” The phone rang later that evening, it being the Uncle who had her cellphone “Of course you can speak to Alosa” She heard her mother say then accepted the phone “Hey”

“I’m sorry I missed your call”

“It’s alright Uncle Jakoby”

“Should I bring your cellphone in person or will you come to me?”

“After everything you’ve apparently been doing I’ll come see you”

“do you remember my address?”

“Yes”

“good, be sure that alien comes with you” Jakoby hung up, leaving Alosa a little stunned. Her Great Uncle knew, but how. She clears her throat, trying to quickly go back to normal “is everything okay?” her mother still asks and Alosa answers “yeah, he just wants me to come see him. Where’s my car?”

“In our garage. You’re not leaving now are you?”

“No, I got the vibe he was just saying come when I’m ready, especially since he didn’t say anything about when”

“Good, don’t leave until tomorrow and…you’re not leaving alone right? You also still need to go to the police station for an interview” Her mother sounded a little panicky, still obviously overwhelmed with feelings of fear and relief. “why don’t we go in right now and get it done. You can drive me then I wont leave until after breakfast tomorrow”

“Okay” Alosa kissed her mothers head, giving her a reassuring smile that filled her mother with guilt. She hugged her tightly “I’m sorry, you’ve just been through god knows what and I’m making you comfort me”

“Mom, I can’t imagine what it would do to me if I had kids and they suddenly weren’t anywhere to be found for six months…when I go to Jakobys I’ll take Macon. You’ll go with me right?” she looked over at him and he nodded “see, I wont be alone” At the station she gave the best story she could, thankful they didn’t press her too hard since she was making this up as she went, trying to be sure nobody would suspect Macon. She felt a little guilt herself, not for lieing to the police but for lieing to her parents.

She vowed to herself one day she’d tell them what really happened but she did want to learn more about Macon and it would make things difficult if her family and friends knew he was the one who took her. She’d wait, she’d wait until she knew her feelings for him and to give them a chance to get to know him before she spilled the truth of her life the past six months.

Macon was offered the pull out couch that night and he gratefully took it, though he barely slept. He had hurt so many kind people and worst of all, he had hurt Alosa. He had stolen time from her, had watched her cry in the room he kept her in multiple times. He didn’t deserve to be around her but he wouldn’t be a coward. She wanted to know him and as long as she wanted him near her he owed her not to leave. Just as planned the two left after breakfast.

“Why did you ask me to go?” Macon had been confused about that since the night before.

“Uh, he knows you’re an alien.”

Macon blinked. “How?”

“I don’t know.”

Macon’s mind raced as he wondered if he had made some sort of mistake. Had his ship been spotted? Was this a trap? Would it even matter? He deserved to be punished for what he had done. Jakoby was waiting for them on the front porch when they pulled up and stepped off as soon as Alosa was out of her car, meeting her halfway and pulling her into a tight hug. “Are you alright, princess?” He asked gently.

“Yeah, I missed you.”

“Me too.”

She pulled out of his arms and gestured to Macon. “This is…”

She wasn’t expecting her uncle to punch him. He was always so kind and gentle, generous to a fault, that his anger was unexpected and it was even more surprising how hard Macon went down. He sat up halfway, holding his jaw and looking ashamed. She reached for her uncle to stop him, freezing when he started speaking to Macon in a language she had never heard. She knew he was fluent in many, but this one was strange and unfamiliar. Macon started speaking back in the same strange language, meeting her uncle’s piercing gaze as they spoke.

She had gone through so much, had only just the other day been in space and realized that aliens were real and now her Great Uncle. Now she was realizing he had known what happened to her, that he knew the same language as Macon. Was he an alien too? The same kind or different, were there different kinds? She assumed if there were aliens there must be different kinds. The shock and questions left her standing there speechless as she listened to the words between them, her Great Uncle obviously livid and Macon still as apologetic as he had been from the start. When her Uncles gaze turned to her it took a second to soften but it did and he sighed, shaking his head then looking over at Alosa “He says he never laid an out of the way hand on you, is that true? Did he take good care of you in general? You look healthy enough but that doesn’t always mean anything”

“He fed me well and gave me books. He never hurt me once nor did he ever try to get…well physical with me. I was alone the entire time besides this robot he had on the ship. I only just saw his face the first time the very same day he brought me home.” Her words didn’t seem to lessen her Great Uncles anger but she guessed it was the only thing keeping him from hitting Macon again. He glared over at Macon, his words venomous “if she confesses to me later you did anything to her”

“I know”

“he’s welcome in if you insist Alosa…he says you want him around”

“I do want him around but this is your home” he sighed “as I said, if you wish him to come in I don’t mind”

“Then please let him come in with us” Macon got up, seeming to be in a bit of pain from the blow to his face. As they walked inside she asked “Jakoby…how did you know…how do you speak that language…I know there are many but that sounded…I dont know how it sounded but it wasn’t like anything I’d expect from a known language here”

“Lets get comfortable first, I have a long story for you and I’d like you to have a cup of your favorite tea and some cookies, maybe a cake?”

“angel food cake?”

“Anything for you…you are my favorite niece after all”

“Obviously, I cant believe you’ve been paying for my apartment”

“you know thats nothing to me”

“It doesnt matter how much it is to you. You didn’t have to and you did, it means a lot” Once inside he instructed his kitchen staff to make tea, cookies and angel food cake then walked with them in the living room, Macon trailing behind, afraid to walk at Alosa’s sides after the things Jakoby had said to him outside. The look in his eyes had told Macon he meant his threats. Soon they were situated and Alosa said “please Jakoby, I have to know. My mind is so blown. I can’t sit here and wait for tea even though it wont be long”

“where would you like me to begin?”

“what was that language and why can you speak it?”

“Like Macon, I am from space, I come from a completely different sect of the universe than his and I’ve reminded him of just how strong and capable my species is if he should ever even dream of taking you anywhere again…” His eyes were back on Macon as if he were threatening him all over again. After a frustrated sigh he continued “things from space generally speak one of three languages, I of course know all three. I know a lot of what makes Macon tick”

“Jakoby stop, he gets it”

“I’m sorry, it’s just…”

“I know, but he didn’t mean any harm.”

“His species is already incredibly impulsive, but doing something so stupid…” he took a breath, “Anyway, I will try to hold my temper.”

“So, you and he are different species of aliens.”

“He is Nollu, my people are Chuoq’ar.”

“A…are you really my uncle?”

“Yes, but I am your father’s half brother and he knows nothing of aliens. My father came here some ten years before he met your grandmother. I arrived a few years later under the guise of my father’s teenage son from his previous marriage.”

Alosa swallowed. “I see.”

Macon could see she was upset and confused and he said, “Don’t be angry, Alosa, there’s a reason he wouldn’t have said anything. It can be dangerous. Aliens are seen as threatening, as invaders.”

Jakoby sighed. “He’s right. Most of the time we are met with guns, it is rare to meet a human who accepts us.”

“But…this is me?”

“I know, I am sorry. When your father’s was born, your grandfather wanted him to live a normal life and luckily he was born without our gifts, at least as far as I know, they may be latent. He made me promise to keep it to myself, so I did.”

“How did you know Macon took me”

“It was many little things but your phone confirmed it. I was looking through it once the police were done and I found something” He pulled it out of his pocket, going through it a few moments before handing her the phone “how would this video tell you anything”

“don’t look at yourself, look at the background” She didn’t catch it the first time so she played it again, looking all over the background until she saw Macon briefly appear and vanish “Oh my gosh, Macon”

“Makes me wonder how long he’s been stalking you. I wager he wanted to see you but then saw one of your friends was filming on your phone and poof, gone. I went through everything on your facebook and surprise surprise he’s made a few other appearances in crowds. He may have protected you but…it doesnt sit well with me he’s been following you for years”

“Macon, why?”

“I…from the moment I first laid eyes on you, it was like…” He sighed. “How can I explain it? It was like I had to protect you, like I had to watch over you. Once you became an adult, I wanted to approach you, to talk to you, but you were always with someone and I would lose my nerve or they were filming and I…I don’t exactly look normal. Then you were going to go out with that monster and I did something unforgivable to you without thinking.” He swallowed. “I wasn’t trying to stalk you, I wasn’t trying to come off as weird and I am sorry.”

Jakoby huffed out a sigh. “Like it was fate.”

“Yes, exactly, like fate. I don’t know what drew me to that forest or why I found you, I wasn’t looking for anyone or anything in particular, I was just exploring and then there you were, scared and alone. If…if you wish me to leave, I will and I won’t come back. If you wish for your uncle to hit me again then I will let him.”

“Macon.”

“I don’t want anything from you, Alosa, I don’t deserve anything.”

“See what I mean by impulsive. Highly intelligent, but they just do things without giving it a thought. I’d wager he came to earth on the day he found you because he liked how it looked or he had a sudden curiosity about the inhabitants.”

Macon nodded and Alosa’s heart went to him. She had been so angry and scared but she understood everything now and she could tell Macon had a good heart. “I’m not angry Macon, I meant it when I said I want you to stick around”

“I’ll ease up too I guess, you were only trying to keep her safe. Besides, who knows if we’d still have Alosa if it hadn’t been you to find her when she got lost all those years ago”

“If you knew who had me Jakoby why didn’t you come get me”

“I couldn’t find his ship, highly intelligent includes masters at not being found if they don’t want to be. I mean, he could have taken you anywhere so I didn’t really know where to look” Tea came out and their food and soon the entire conversation revolved around Alosa wanting to know more about Macons and Jakoby kinds. They were happy to answer anything, Jakoby had missed her immensely and Macon felt grateful they were on speaking terms.

Jakoby offered to let them stay the night but she wanted to be home to see her friends the next day. Her messenger was overflowing with friends wanting to see her again. “Just stay safe and if you let him take you back up into space, you tell me first”

“Okay” They loaded back into her car and she gave Macons hand a soft squeeze, causing his heart to stutter “you still look so sad, I just wanted to comfort you” He wished he had said anything in return but his voice had been caught in his throat. Once he found it again it would have been weird to answer her so long after. They returned to her apartment and she called her parents, letting them know where she was and that she’d be locking the doors “you’re not alone though right”

“Macon is staying the night, right Macon” she looked over at him and he nodded “he said yeah” The two said their goodbyes, leaving the two of them alone for the first time when there wasn’t any other distractions like her driving or him explaining himself on the ship.

“Are you sure you want me to stay?” His voice shook a little, betraying his nervousness.

“Of course, I have a guest room, so you won’t have to camp out on the couch unless you want too.”

“I’ll take the room, thank you.”

They stood there for a moment in silence. “So, how much do you know about me?”

“Well, plenty actually, not everything though, I gave you your privacy. I didn’t read your messages or…or you know watch you bathe or change or anything. The only time I really invaded your privacy was when that guy came around and then I felt like I had to.”

“You just kept an eye on me and followed me.”

“I wanted to tell you, I really did. I’m really such a coward. Nothing like your uncle.”

She took his hand, trying to comfort him again “you made a mistake, we all do. I mean, I’ve never kidnapped anybody but you took really good care of me and you did it with the best intentions. I’m sure you’ll never do anything like that again so stop kicking yourself”

“I just don’t understand how you can be so okay with me”

“you should know me well enough to understand. I’m a big believer in forgiveness when someone is truly sorry, especially when they never truly had ill will in their hearts. You just wanted me safe…do you want a hug? You look like you need one”

“You…” he looked into her eyes, his heart stuttering, especially when she gave him a gentle smile. “I’d…I’d like that” The hug didn’t last long but it had been the most amazing feeling on earth to him “goodnight Macon”

“Goodnight Alosa” The next few weekss it was friend after friend coming over or inviting them out somewhere. Not to mention all the time her family wanted. It was a slow process getting comfortable with everyone but Alosa was worth it. Every second he spent with her he could feel himself falling deeper and deeper in love but he still felt he had a lot of making up to do before he had any right to ask her to date him. He felt he barely deserved this friendship but even if that was all he’d ever have, Macon never wanted to leave Alosa’s side.

~ The End

Baek & Zatalia 2

Chapter One

Edith groaned as her phone rang again, whomever was calling was obviously unwilling to go away so she finally grabbed her phone off the night stand and sleepily answered “Hello”

“Finally, are you okay?”

“what?”

“Edith, go look at yourself in the mirror”

“Honey I”

“do it now Edith!” The woke her up completely, her husband had never yelled at her, not once. She got up and walked into their bathroom “Honey I’m fine”

“Check on our daughter, hurry, if she’s off at all you need to just take her to the hospital. The news is urging people to stay in their homes and just call 911 if someone in their home is sick but the news is also saying the ambulances can’t collect people fast enough so just take her. Screw anybody who tries to stop you, she’s not dieing in her room, you can’t let her Edith”

“what’s going on” she asked in panic as she rushed to her daughters room. Before he could answer his wife her scream told him Zatalia was sick too. Edith dropped the phone as she ran over to her daughter. Blood drained from her eyes and mouth and she was laying in an awkward manner surrounded by what she thought must be throw up but it had this odd color. All throw up looked odd but this was weird, horrifyingly weird. Her husband yelling made her grab the phone again “whats happening”

“is she alive?”

“I dont know”

“Edith” his voice was breaking “check if shes breathing” Zatalia didn’t look like it but upon investigating it turned out she was “Edith, I’ve been trying since this started last night to get home but the airports are closed and I cant find a road thats not blocked by police officers. Try to take her to the hospital, she’ll die, millions have already died since just last night. They don’t know what this is” She could hear him sobbing at the thought of losing their daughter. “I love you” she weepily said before getting off her phone and lifting her daughter off the floor to carry her to the car. When she went outside she was taken back by the chaos and grew defensive instantly when a man in a hazmat suit who had been walking by suddenly was coming up to her and Zatalia “give her to me” he demanded “I dont know who the hell you are so no”

“There’s no time for introductions unless you dont care if she dies. Give her to me now and get back inside”

“You sure as hell aren’t taking her without me” He pulled out a gun “Give me the girl and get back inside your house now mam. I will shoot you, do not test me. Whatever this is is going to kill us all if we don’t contain it”

“No.”

She watched as his finger tightened on the trigger and was ready to spin around and protect Zatalia. The creature came out of nowhere, it hand slapping the man away so he flew across the yard, the gun falling from his grasp, and landed on his back. She just stared, she couldn’t even scream in her shock. “Dad, I made sure the military personnel with him are unconscious.” Baek said as he came running up next to the creature.

“B…Baek?” Edith said

Baek’s eyes moved to her then to Zatalia, all color draining from his face. “No, no, no, please no.” He was across to them in and instant. “Zatalia? Zatalia, baby?”

“We have to get them home, Baek.” Neek said.

“Dad, I can’t lose her.”

“Baek, we have to get home.”

“Yes, I know.” He then grabbed Edith, forcing her to look at him. “You have to come with me right now.”

“Wh…”

“Just please trust me, I’ll explain later, but she will die and it’s not safe.”

“My husband.”

“As soon as we have you two safe, I’ll get him.” Neek said. “Now, come.”

She followed them, finding herself shocked all over again when they were suddenly boarding what looked like a space ship. She felt like she was on the verge of a mental break down. Her daughter was barely breathing and more frighteningly had been slowly bleeding for an unknown amount of time since she couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed and answer her cellphone. Millions were already dead and this sickness hadn’t even started a full twnety four hours ago. Then on top of that someone actually tried to take her daughter away then shoot her when she refused. Her daughter could have been stolen from her and at the mercy of obviously heartless men. For all she knew millions were dead because they were killing the sick to attempt containing it.

Now, the father of the young man her daughter was dating looked like something off a scifi movie which had to mean Baek was whatever Neek was. Her head was reeling, did her daughter know? Once inside she saw Johana, the woman going just as pale with fear as Baek had when he took in Zatalia. “please tell me she’s still breathing: Johana said emotionally “she is but” Edith tried but her own tears choked her too much to talk “Follow me to the medical part of the ship Edith. We need to hurry, she’s drowning” He wanted to be more comforting but he didn’t have that kind of time, not where his sons girlfriend was concerned.

She followed Neek and his family to the medical part of the ship and laid her daughter where Neek asked. He soon grabbed his scanner explaining “I want to know fully what’s going on with her before I start trying to help to make sure I don’t make a mistake Edith” Neek scanned her then rushed to a drawer, pulling out a few things which had Ediths heart rate spiking even further. “what’re you doing?” she asked fearfully “I have to empty her lungs right now and this will be the most efficient way. I just need you to trust me right now. I promise to explain more but Zatalia doesn’t have time for me to stop and explain what I’m doing, please understand”

Edith nodded as she sobbed and Johana spoke to someone Edith hadn’t even realized was there “go make her something calming to drink. She’s getting too worked up” Johana held Edith, doing her best to comfort her. Suddenly she heard her daughter take a deep, sharp breath then was breathing normally when before you had to be incredibly close to her to even detect she was alive. “see, Neek is just helping her. You can trust my husband okay Edith” She wiped at her face “thank you so much” The man returned with a drink and Johana asked “Edith, please drink it.”

“what will it do to me?”

“It’s going to relax you”

“I need to tell my husband she’s breathing better now first”

“okay, do you have your phone” she pulled it out of her pocket “It’s almost dead..” she wondered just how long her husband had had to call her to get her up. “then use mine, keep my phone until this is all over so you can talk to him” Johana handed Edith her cellphone and allowed her to text her husband an update before she handed Edith the glass “drink it, you need to calm down. It’s not healthy to be this worked up”

“I just don’t understand what’s going on? Why is she sick? What is he?”

Johana guided her out of the med bay of the ship and into another room where she had her sit. “Neek is an alien, that’s the easiest way to explain it and he’s going to save Zatalia. Trust us okay?”

“Yeah, I just…I want my husband and I want her to get better. I’m so scared.”

“It’s okay, everything is going to be okay.”

Baek gently cleaned Zatalia’s skin as his father worked. The way she looked terrified him and he hated that he couldn’t find his usual calm. “Dad, I’m not going to lose her am I?”

“You know I will do everything I can, I’ll fight for her, I promise.”

“Why is this happening?”

“Someone could have released it or someone sick could have escaped from somewhere, it could be someone from another world.”

“What are we going to do?”

“First, I’m going to get her stable and then take samples from her. We also need to get Edith’s husband, then we can head over to Freg’s and check in with them.”

“do you think her parents are still going to be okay with us dating..” Neek sighed “They seem like good, understanding people, and in the worse case scenario you both are eighteen now and here that means they can’t stop her but hopefully there are no hard feelings. I am just grateful you told Zatalia when you did so when she wakes up you two will still be okay. I know Freg and I were probably annoying but you know what happened with Johanas parents, we didn’t want anything like that for you caused by waiting too long”

“Thank you for doing it…for making me swallow my fear and tell her before she found out by waking up on this ship. I should have sooner, she was going to tell her parents, I hope they believe that so they aren’t hurt by the fact she didn’t say anything…She just wanted her dad to be home first” They were tending to her as they spoke. Neek didn’t rest until he was sure she was in a stable state. For cautions sake he put a mask on Zatalia that would help her breath and had an IV of fluids going into her “I will collect my samples now son. I know it might be hard to leave her side but would you mind going to tell Lim that it’s time to search fro Zatalia’s father”

“yes sir”

“I wont leave her side until youre back”

Lim was already sitting in the pilot’s seat when Baek came in. He looked worried and jumped when Baek called his name. “Sorry, I was just so focused on what’s happening I didn’t hear you.”

“Dad wants you to find Zatalia’s father then we are to go to Freg’s.”

“Do you know where he is?”

“Zatalia said he’s in Washington.”

“Alright, I’ll just track her genetic sequence.”

“Thank you, we should hurry.”

“I will, go ahead and be with her, I can handle everything up here.”

“Thank you.” He hurried back to Zatalia, his heart breaking and how bad she looked. She was so pale, her veins were standing out dark beneath her skin. He took her hand in his, terrified of how cold she was and pressed his lips against her forehead. “Can we warm her up?”

“There are extra blankets in the heater.” Neek replied. “I’m going to examine all of this and contact my home world to see if they know anything. I’ll get your mother and hers to come in and change her into something clean.”

Baek nodded as he retrieved a couple more blankets and placed them over the one she already had then went back to holding her hand. “Please wake up, Zatalia, please wake up.”

Neek walked out, carefully carrying his samples. He didn’t want to have to take more from her than he had to in her state. His little girls saw him and started to run over but their brother Iseul who had been tasked with watching them for the moment lifted each in an arm, settling them on his hips. “dads busy okay, it’s really important”

“Thank you Iseul”

“I’ll try to get them to nap so I can be more useful”

“If you can’t don’t worry, you’re doing plenty keeping an eye on Tarryn and Arli. It’s not an easy task with them being only one” Iseul smiled, though there was little joy in it given the situation this world and Zatalia were in. Once Neek had done everything he could do with the samples at the moment he went to check on his wife and Edith “How’s Zatalia?” Edith asked right away. “alive…she’s still not awake yet and I don’t have enough results from the tests I’m running to say more but I have her breathing and I am going to keep her that way. No matter what it takes I’m going to keep her alive”

“Thank you…” Edith didn’t have any more tears in her, her eyes hurt too much. “You two should probably change her so she’s more comfortable when she wakes…theres…well” Edith nodded “okay but into what”

“My clothes, she isn’t that much smaller than me” Johana offered and Edith nodded “I’m going to contact my home planet then. Hopefully they will have insight”

Chapter Two

Baek was talking softly to Zatalia when their mother’s came in and his hugged him, trying to comfort him. “I just want her to wake up.”

“I know baby. Edith and I need to get her changed into something clean.”

“Do I have to leave? I mean, I could turn my back, but…”

“That’s fine, Baek.” Edith said. “I understand.”

“Thank you.” He turned his back, waiting as patiently as possible for them to change her and when they gave him the all clear, he was back at her side in an instant.

“Do you need anything sweetie?” Johana asked.

“No, I’m fine.”

“How about something to eat?”

“I’m not really hungry.”

“I’ll make you something easy, you need to keep something in your stomach.”

“Zatalia would want you too.” Edith said. “She wouldn’t want you neglecting your health.”

“Okay…for her” Johana began to walk out but Edith found herself paused, looking at how heartbroken he was, finding comfort in the fact Baek loved her daughter so much. He was an alien, apparently his whole family was. It was hard to grasp and a little startling once it sank in but looking at him sitting by her daughter, the obvious pain and worry in his expression, she felt happier than ever Zatalia chose Baek to be with. Edith felt when her husband found out he would feel the same. Edith hurried after Johana once she got out of her own head then asked on their way to the kitchen”May I ask what brought your family here? I need something to think about other than my daughter being so ill and my husband still not being with us”

“Neek is a researcher. His people value knowledge, it’s more precious to them than anything else so they send their kind to different worlds to study them. They are able to do that because they are shifters and in the most awesome way. They can shift into anything they have seen before. It enables them to study things without them knowing”

“You’re human though right?”

“Mostly, I have an alien way back in my line”

“so you met Neek on earth?”

“yeah, I didn’t know I wasn’t fully human before him. Can I ask a question?”

“Of course”

“How’re you feeling about our children being together? If that’s even crossed your mind now that you know about us”

“Baek loves my daughter…thats all a mother can ask for…her dad will feel the same” Johana felt relief, it had been scary to ask but if Zatalias mother was having doubts about the relationship now she wanted to have a chance to comfort her before it worried her son. Lim felt triumph when he found Zatalias father. He stopped the ship then ran to Neek “do you want me to take Edith to get him? He doesn’t know me so I’m sure we’ll need her”

“if you don’t mind, I’m waiting on another response” Lim found Johana and Edith, the later looking about ready to cry again. He was arguing with a police officer when they were approaching him which only added to Ediths fears. “Sir I am going to arrest you if you don’t turn around right now. The road is closed, I’m sorry about your daughter, I really am but they wouldn’t let you near her anyway”

“Holt” His head practically jerked “Edith” he ran over to them and the officer just seemed relied he was going away. “come on, we must hurry back on so we can get to Freg” Lim insisted and they rushed back to the ship.

“Wh…what’s going on?” Holt said as he turned in confused circles, taking in the interior of the ship. “Am I sick? Is this real?”

“It’s very real.” Edith said as she continued to pull him. “I’ll explain in a minute.”

“Where’s Zatalia?”

“Safe and alive, come on.”

Baek jumped when Zatalia’s parents came in, followed by his mother. Holt crossed over quickly, his eyes filling with tears as he looked down at his little girl. “Zatalia, sweetie.” He gently hugged her and Baek had to swallow down his own tears. “Please tell me she’s going to be okay.”

“Neek is working on it.” Johana said. “He’s fighting to find a way to stop this.”

“What’s going on?”

“Why don’t we go and get you something to eat and drink.” Johana said. “I know you can’t have even though of food while you were so worried.”

“But…Zatalia.”

“She’s safe with Baek, baby.” Edith said.

“I’ll also explain everything and you can come back here at any time.” Johana assured.

He reluctantly left with them. He wanted to help his little girl but at the same time he knew there wasn’t much he could do and he’d give anything for at least some answers about what was going on. Iseul, who was now in the room with his father was startled when Neek exclaimed his name suddenly “I need Lim right now, go get him, please, the ship can pilot itself to Fregs home” Iseul hoped whatever that letter back said and those supplies were the cure for Zatalia so he ran as fast as he could. Lim immedietly asked once he was in the room “what can I do?”

“do you remember when you were a teenager, the planet Efrars”

“Its that?”

“Yes, go get everything ready, I’ll be in there with Zatalia when I’m done making this” Lim ran out and Iseul asked “Is she going to be okay?”

“If I hurry son, she’s going to get worse and possibly soon. She’s surviving only the first part of it. It took so long with Efrars to figure out how to stop it we learned this has many stages. Their people survived this part easily, it was whats coming if I don’t help her soon enough that may take her. It must be harder on human bodies but this also explains why we’re fine, we’re immune, your mother is too. Not all species can carry it, for most in the galaxy it dies by contact”

“But it wipes out those it can infect”

“Yes but it was contained, Jean is looking into how it could have possibly gotten here”

“you think someone did this on purpose?”

“I dont know but let me work son. Maybe you can help Lim”

Edith and Holt jumped a little when Lim came running past them and Johana, his face a mask of seriousness that had them worried. They didn’t have time to call out to him to ask what was happening, but when Iseul came running after him Johana called to him and he skidded to a stop. “Any news?” She asked.

“Dad says he found out what it is, he’s going to save Zatalia, but he has to hurry. Sorry, but I have to help Lim.”

“Go on then baby.” He kissed his mother quickly on the cheek then continued after Lim.

“Oh thank god.” Holt said, his voice and body shaking as he hugged Edith. “She’s going to be okay.”

Baek sat in a chair he had pulled up to the side of the bed, his head resting next to the hand he held. His thumb stroked Zatalia’s wrist, hoping she knew he was there. He pressed a kiss to her fingers, feeling like crying. He felt so helpless, like he should be doing more for her, but this was all he had and he swore he was going to do something amazing for her when she was better. He hadn’t realized he had started to drift off until his father came into the room and he snapped up. “Dad? Anything?”

“Yes, but I have to work quickly.”

“Truly? She’s going to be alright?”

“Yes.”

He stood and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Did you hear that baby? You’re going to be alright, just hold on for a little while longer.”

Neek and Lim were still working on Zatalia when they reached Fregs home so she checked on their girls happy to see them sleeping peacfully. Just in case she ran into any trouble before she got inside she asked Iseul to come with her. He was just glad to have something else to do to help so he eagerly agreed and left with his mother, rushing over to the large house and running inside. The house appeared empty but Johana knew better, they wouldn’t have left with this going on. The only reason they had gone anywhere was because of Zatalia. As soon as they saw the news of what was happening to the humans none of them could sit easy not knowing how she and her parents were.

She rushed to a hidden hatch and knocked, smiling with relief when Freg opened it and hugged her “Johana, you’re okay”

“we’re all going to be okay, we’re immune. With the help of Neeks home world we know what we’re dealing with. He’s trying to save Zatalia now. By the time we got to them she was sick, her parents are okay though. You guys should get on our ship with us, you know it has plenty of room. The humans who govern this world are scared and not thinking at all with their hearts. They threatened to shoot Edith because she wouldn’t let them take her daughter away. We need to figure out what to do, especially if we’re going to give them the cure. When we explain things who knows how they’ll react”

Chapter Three

“I agree, just give us a moment to pack and then we’ll come with you.”

“Alright.”

Johana and Iseul helped where they could packing clothes and getting luggage out to the ship. They nearly ran into Lim coming back out again which surprised them. “Trucks are coming up here, I saw the lights and Neek told me to come get you.”

“Just give me a moment to lock down certain rooms.” Freg said as he took off. Everyone knew he had things in his home he refused to give up and he didn’t want the government knowing of his family until they needed too.

“Where’s my dad?” Johana asked when he came back and was loaded on the ship.

“Off planet, I let him take my ship. I sent him a message so he would know to stay away.”

“good” Johana felt relief rush through her for multiple reasons as they closed the ship. Her father was far away from any potential danger if the humans decided they were some sort of threat instead of a friendly group trying to help them and now everyone she loved was in the ship so they could flee themselves if they were forced into it. When Johana reached the medical bay Zatalia was just gasping for air, her face indicating she was in pain. Neek gave her something a little stronger for it then comforted “you’ll feel better soon okay. Try to breath normally, I know it feels like something is sitting on your chest but I promise you’re breathing just fine. It’s a mental side effect” She looked confused, almost panicked so Baek hugged her “it’s okay Zatalia, you’re going to be fine. My dad cured you and your parents are here”

“What are we going to do about delivering the cure to the rest of the world?” Johana asked her husband.

“We find noble people who won’t try to sell it and have them deliver it to everyone.”

“Is there going to be enough?”

Neek nodded. “My people are going to help manufacture the cure.”

“Thank goodness.”

“How long until Zatalia is back to normal?” Baek asked as he stroked her hair.

“We should see more improvement in half an hour.”

“I…feel…dizzy.” Zatalia managed to say.

“That’s the painkillers.” Neek explained.

“Do you think I could take her to my room where she’ll be more comfortable?” Baek asked.

Neek nodded. “Johana, would you take one of the oxygen machines into Baek’s room?”

“Of course.”

“And Baek, if she starts to vomit, make sure you turn her on her side and call for me if you feel she’s getting worse.”

“I will.”

Her parents had so many questions but they allowed Baek and Johana to walk away with her. Holt couldn’t help but ask “Neek, did she know you all weren’t human?”

“She hasn’t known long. It’s my understanding she was waiting until you got back from this last trip to talk to you two. If you’d allow me just a few more moments I will happily sit and answer any questions you have. That way when you get to talk to my son and your daughter all that will be left is simply talking about them”

“Thank you…you’re doing something important right now. I can wait” After Neek had done all he could for the moment he sat down with Zatalia’s parents and answered their every question about his species and his home world. They were still deep in discussion the next day when Zatalia was able to walk around. She seemed nervous as her parents hugged her but they assured her they were okay with everything and absolutely grateful to Baeks family for saving her life. They knew in their hearts they wouldn’t even have a daughter any longer if she wasn’t dating Baek. She would have died before they cure was distributed.

Baek was relieved when he finally had Zatalia settled in his room and she seemed to relax a little more when he was able to climb in next to her and hold her in his arms. Her breathing was still a little labored, but as he ran his fingers through her hair and rubbed her back, it started to even out. “How are you feeling?” He asked softly.

“Exhausted…nauseous.”

“Do you want me to get my dad?”

“No, just stay here, I’ll be alright.”

He held her a little tighter, a knot forming in his throat as he fought back his tears. “I thought I was going to lose you. I’ve never been so scared in my life.”

“Baek.”

“It would kill me, Zatalia. How could I go on without you? Fate was kind when it brought us together.”

“It’s okay, I’m okay.”

Baek calmed himself, feeling selfish that he was causing her to comfort him. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“Rest, I won’t leave, okay?”

“Okay.”

The two were inseparable and spent most their time cuddled up in Baeks room until dinner one evening where Neek brought up “so we need to determine how this got to earth. I already have the people picked who will distribute the cure adn there will be enough tomorrow but if this was done on purpose who knows what will be released next being only someone not of this world could have brought it.” Lim spoke “I’ve been scanning along with a few of the other family members and we can’t find any alien life form we didn’t already know was here and all of their ships check out, I’m not sure what else we can do. Maybe someone made a visit where they werent supposed to and spores fell from such a passing ship into the earth somehow. The humans..most of them anyway have been destroying the earths protections for a long time now. This could all just be a terrible accident”

“true, I guess we’ll just have to hope it was. I’m still not prepared to leave earth. I want to be completely sure I have been everywhere there is to go and since we’ve discovered those portal systems, most of which can only be accessed to our belief on this planet I still have much to see and document. I’d like to write this off as a passing nightmare”

Neek helped Lim do more scans, looking for any signs of sickness or reports of a missing person. If an alien became sick, he or she may have gone into hiding in hopes of not spreading it. While they did that, Johana vaccinated Holt and Edith. Baek fussed over Zatalia unless he was needed for something else, but the moment he finished, he was back to her side. She was still recovering and he didn’t want her straining herself. “Do you think we’ll be able to stay here?” Zatalia asked.

“I don’t know, especially after my father gives the cure to everyone. We may even be blamed for this disease.”

“But that’s stupid.”

“I know. If…If we have to leave, will you come with me? I know it’s a lot to ask, but would you?”

She didn’t hesitate for even a second “Of course I would Baek. I love you, I can’t live without you. No matter where you and your family go I want to go too” He hugged her, just those words meant so much but the fact she hadn’t paused for even a moment before saying them meant so much more. “If we have to go I’m sorry that means you wont be going to college..you’ve been so excited about it”

“i wont be sad about that. I mean, your dad will probably be assigned to study a different planet. I’ll get to spend my entire life with you studying different places. He was on earth so long I imagine I’ll only live long enough for the next assignment but that’s exciting to me Baek. Much better than living an ordinary human life”

Baek held her a little tighter, letting his lips brush the top of her head. A normal human life. He had very nearly forgotten that. She had a much shorter lifespan than he did. “You know I love you, right?”

“Yeah, are you alright?”

“Just relieved.” He wouldn’t discuss his worries with her right now. She needed rest, not to worry about him.

Lim jumped a little at the alert sound coming from the ship and moved closer to the screen as Neek enhanced the image of the location. “Are those spores?”

“Looks like it. Go let everyone know we’re going to land so you and I can check it out.” Lim nodded as he headed out to alert everyone and Neek grabbed a syringe full of the cure just in case the person who had spread it was still alive and not immune.

Baek and Zatalia were the last to be informed “do I need to come too?”

“No, you have her to comfort. Your father and I have this.” Lim looked at Zatalia “are you feeling okay? Do you need anything before we leave?”

“Baek has me covered, thank you” Lim hurried off, not knowing how to feel. “what do you think they’ll do if this was brought here on purpose Baek?”

“We have a small holding cell. If they did do this on purpose dad will probably take him back to our planet to let our leader decide.”

“where? I thought I had been everywhere”

“On my ship but dads is bigger than it appears, like that show you like so much”

“Dr who?”

“yeah, if you feel okay and really want to see it I can take you”

“I’d rather just cuddle”

Neek and Lim were surprised to find that the spores were much thicker than they had previously thought and seemed to be coming from a small shack hidden in the trees. “It’s quiet.” Lim said.

“It is.” Neek agreed as they moved closer to the shack and he tapped on the door. There was no answer and he slowly pushed the door open. “Hello? Is anyone in here?”

There was a shuffling sound and they both froze. “Who is it?” A voice asked, sounding shaky.

“We’ve come to help. The disease here has spread.”

“Wh…what? But…” The person who stepped out of the shadow was pale and sickly looking like they hadn’t eaten anything in awhile. Both Neek and Lim could smell sickness and knew he had been bleeding and vomiting. “I…I quarantined myself. I…I…” He doubled over as if he were in pain and his stomach tried emptying itself, but nothing came up. Lim caught him before he fell and hurt himself and the man tried shoving him away, but was too weak.

“How is he even still alive?” Lim asked.

“I don’t know.” Neek answered.

“Maybe his species bodies are better at fighting this than the humans or the first race that caught it”

“In any case help him lay down and I’ll give him the cure” Lim took the man to the nearby couch and laid him down so Neek could cure him. He looked so bad off they hoped it would work in time.”I didn’t mean for any of this to happen, you have to believe me. I got caught up between two waring space monsters and was flung into the quarantined planet.” The man sounded so weak, like it was near impossible for him to even speak “You can explain later” Neek tried and the man shook his head “No, just incase there isn’t a later I want you to know that when I got away one of the monsters caught me in it’s jaws. By the time it flicked my aircraft out of its teeth I was barreling towards here. I took shelter in this place, I’m sorry”

“It doesn’t sound like your fault”

Chapter Four

“I should…should have blown my ship up, I should have died.”

“Easy, it’s going to be alright.” Lim said. “Rest.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m really…sorry.” His weakness got the better of him and he closed his eyes. His breathing was so shallow, they had to assure themselves he was still alive. Lim lifted him over his shoulders.

“What do you want to do about this place?”

“I’ll come back and burn it down once the cure is distributed. I want a controlled burn that won’t take out the whole forest.”

“I’ll come back with you then when it’s time.”

“Let’s get him to the medical bay first, I want to monitor him. Hopefully with enough time, he’ll be back to the way he was before all this.”

“He’s going to keep blaming himself.”

“Then we will help him see it was all an accident.”

They hurried him to the ship and got him settled in the medical bay. Neek then hooked up IVs to make sure he got hydrated then put a similar mask he had put on Zatalia to make sure he got all the air he needed. Once he had done all he could for this poor stranger he called everyone into a meeting about the man. He wanted to be sure everyone knew the story before he woke so he wouldn’t have to go through the shame of explaining again. Not a soul on board blamed him but Neek had known before the meeting they wouldn’t. “can I ask a possibly stupid question?” The question was from Edith and it was Neek who responded “you are always welcome to ask questions.”

“If there’s nobody there for the disease to thrive on how is it still living. There’s no way to clean the planet”

“There were many attempts and if part of your concern is worrying over the earth being saved it can be. It took so long to figure out how to fight it it had largely taken over the planet. It was deep in it’s very soil. It hasn’t been on earth long. I know we can handle it. My leader is already sending people to as you might call it disinfect your earth”

“what’re you going to do if your help isn’t welcome.”

“If they blame us?”

“Yeah”

“Hopefully we can work it out but if we have to leave we will”

“what does that mean for my daughter and your son”

“You two and Zatalia are welcome to come with us. I’d rather die than ever leave my wife and I wouldn’t expect my son to leave the woman he loves but you two don’t have to think on that for now. The cure should be waiting, I’ll go retireve it and make sure it gets in the right hands”

The men and women Neek had chosen were startled when he came to them and even more so when he revealed the fact he was an alien. They were surprised he willingly gave them the vaccine they needed and couldn’t even speak when he left. “Do you think they’ll tell anyone?” Johana asked.

Neek shrugged. “Maybe after, when everyone is cured and vaccinated.”

“What now?”

“Now we wait. I am sure Jean will be contacting this world’s leaders to let them know what’s going on.”

“Do you think they’ll ever recover?”

He pulled her into his arms at her obvious worry. “Of course, I have learned that the human race can be quite resilient and it could have been much worse.”

They all waited, some of them nervously as Neek’s people arrived and hoped that they wouldn’t be greeted with hostility. Neek had found that sometimes in a crisis, humans would see anything strange as dangerous and he was ready to flee with his loved ones should things take a turn for the worst.

Thankfully all went well, they were welcomed and actually thanked instead of blamed. They weren’t so ready to accept the being that brought the disease but Neek promised he would take him to his home planet personally. The humans and their leaders weren’t happy about it but they were so grateful they didn’t give Neek trouble about taking the healing man named Berbeoka home. “sir” Berbeoka said as they were flying back “Please call me Neek” He urged yet again “I feel I have something else to apologize for”

“What is it?”

“Your kind likes to study planets in secret…I’ve blown your cover”

“Oh, thats alright, I mostly am still at this planet because there are so many portals to other worlds on it. They will know nothing so it’s all good”

“really”

“Yes, its amazing. They have the most of any I’ve ever seen and as far as we know they are only linked to earth”

“I’m glad I didn’t cause you trouble then…well…any more trouble”

“Nothing was your fault. I’m glad you didn’t kill yourself, your family, I’m sure, will be happy you didn’t either”

“I still can’t stop thinking about it though…my life cost the humans so many…”

“It’s unfortunate what happened but will never be your fault”

“Yeah” Zatalia said, surprising both of them that she was in the room “Oh…Za…Zatalia” she seemed to make him especially nervous since he knew he had gotten her sick too. She took his hand “I meant it when I said I forgive you.” He teared up a little bit and she said “come, hangout with my boyfriend and I while we travel”

When they arrived at Berbeoka’s home world there were so many relieved to see him back alive and well, it touched all their hearts aboard the ship. “keep in touch okay” Johana said as they began to return to their ship “I will, thank you, thank you so much”

“Yes, thank you” a woman who seemed like she could be his mother said gratefully. Over dinner that evening Neek said “so Edith and Holt, now that you’re aware of what I do on earth I was wondering if you two would like to start traveling with us, when we go to other worlds within your world. I can see to it you wont lose your home and even without a job I promise to show you ways in other worlds that you can still be taken care of. Baek hardly comes because Zatalia can’t come but maybe we could all go together”

We’d love too.” Holt said. “I mean if our little girl is going to be with Baek then we should experience all of this.”

“It’s still all a little confusing, but we’ll do anything to make Zatalia happy.”

“You two really mean it?” Zatalia asked.

“Of course baby, especially after everything that’s happened.” Holt replied. “And if anything happens that makes it so we can’t go home, then we’ll gladly relocate.”

“Thank you.” Baek said. “I know she’ll be happier with you here.” They talked more about Neek and Johana’s people, the former telling stories about some of the planets he had explored and the wonderful events he had witnessed. The more he talked, the more at ease and eager they seemed about space exploration. He would take them anywhere and if they had the patience, he would show them how to pilot his ship.

As the evening came to a close Baek spoke to Zatalia “why don’t you head on to bed so I can talk to my dad”

“alright” she kissed his cheek then expressed “I love you so much Baek”

“I love you too Zatalia” He pulled her close, giving her a deep kiss then letting her go. He pulled his dad to the side and asked “so that thing we talked about when I was a kid, figuring out how to make humans like us…did you ever finish that. I know we started but…I never want to lose Zatalia…she’s irreplaceable.”

“I was simply waiting for you to ask. Let everyone rest for now, tomorrow we’ll talk to them about living forever” Baek hugged his father “Thank you so much, you’re the best dad”

“and I couldn’t ask for a better family Baek” He hurried back to Zatalia, nestling happily into her in their room. Everyone but Neek, Lim and Johana slept late that night, only waking the next day when they were promised food. Neek went ahead and brought it up during breakfast, knowing how eager his son must be. Holt was the first to say anything once Neek was done explaining “will it hurt”

“Thankfully it wont, I’ve found in most things it does when species change but the one person whom I did it with successfully didn’t feel any pain at all. They said their stomach felt like it dropped about a hundred feet but they were fine” Holt looked at his daughter “do you want this baby?”

“Yes” No hesitation yet again. Baek held her hand tightly, wanting to kiss her. “Then we’ll do it” They are, waited a few hours then began the process, starting with Zatalia then changing both her parents. Zatalia remarked “huh, I really don’t feel any different”

“but it worked right dad”

“It did, you have her forever now son” Baek nearly cried as he held her and she smiled “I’m the luckiest girl in the world Baek” she whispered to him, causing him to hold her even tighter. It felt like everything was perfect once more. The earth was recovering, they’d be traveling together and now he could truly be with Zatalia until the end of time.

~ The End

Baek & Zatalia

Chapter One

Baek sat in the drivers seat of his own ship, a gift from his grandparents on his fifteenth birthday. It was beautiful and much like his father Neek’s. It felt like home when he was on board but he couldn’t enjoy it’s comforts on this trip, not where he was, especially not when he wasn’t yet allowed to be this far from earth without his father at least in the ship, much less in a territory so dangerous and war ridden that you couldn’t rely on auto pilot. He was here for Zatalia, hoping to win her affections with something gorgeous that could only be found on a planet near here. She had instantly stolen his heart when she transferred to his school but his feelings had him acting like a complete moron and often had him coming off rude. He hated that, it crushed him when he did it but his brain just couldn’t seem to function right around her.

His words would end up coming off wrong and other times she’d be speaking and would think he wasn’t listening because he had trouble answering her. He hung on her every word, he truly did and he hoped he could gain some composure soon. She meant the world to him and since he couldn’t rely on himself to act like a normal human being around her he was hoping a gorgeous gift would at least help him convey she meant a great deal to him. He didn’t want to lose her and he knew at least one other boy in his High School was interested in her. It was honestly ironic, he was always so smooth around her but he was the biggest ass Baek knew. He only wanted to get Zatalia in bed so while Baek actually loved her she probably saw him as a jerk while a boy who only wanted in her pants was probably coming off as wonderful to her.

He had a lot of stress on his shoulders, including hoping what he had done to his fathers tracking system on his own ship wouldn’t be detected if he and his mother for whatever reason went out on it. His father had set something up to always know where he was, for safety reasons since space was so vast and could be incredibly dangerous. Today his father couldn’t know, his dad needed to be with his mother Johana since they recently had twins. They weren’t even six months yet and he couldn’t be so selfish as to ask his father to help him while he should be helping his mother with the new babies.

He took a deep breath as another ship whizzed by him with the markings of a race his father had drilled into him to avoid at all costs. Here he was, in their territory but Zatalia was worth it. Even if his father found out and took his ship away, if she would just smile at him this would all be worth it. Suddenly a bright flash of light nearly blinded him and his ship was tossed backward which was no easy thing to accomplish with how heavy their ships were from the material they were made from. It was a bomb, a bomb that had him now struggling to regain control of his ship.

He didn’t panic, he knew better than that from his fathers lessons. He kept his cool and managed to regain a little control but not before another planets gravity had snagged his ship. He had to make a quick choice, get out of this planets gravity or land and rethink how to get where he was going since a few more ships had joined the fray and were shooting things off at one another. His decision was to land and consult his maps before he got himself killed.

He checked his cloaking device to ensure it still worked and then his radar, scanning the surface as he approached, wanting to make sure he wasn’t going to land in the middle of a village or in hostile territory. He slowed his descent, finding an area large enough for his ship and guiding it down. He was relieved when he had finally settled down and made sure everything was still functioning properly. The explosion hadn’t done any real damage. He got up from the pilot seat and went to the platform in the middle of the room, letting his fingers tap over it until it lit up and a large map filled the screen. He typed in his co-ordinance and it moved to his location.

“I’m not that far.” He said to himself and a part of him wish his father was here, but he knew he had to do this on his own. He knew he couldn’t go directly back up from where he was. He was sure those ships were still fighting and he didn’t want to risk his ship getting blown up. If he stayed slow and kept himself cloaked he knew he could probably make it to the other side of the planet then go around the largest part of the two fleets. It would take longer, but it was his best bet.

He quickly grabbed something to eat, used the restroom and made himself a drink so he wouldn’t be tempted to leave his pilots chair then set off. His mind now fully where he was and no longer on the girl he loved or the possibility of his fathers anger. He had to stay in the moment, another lesson of his fathers. He may not be allowed in these areas of space but that hadn’t stopped his father from training him for all possibilities anyway. He half wondered sometimes if his father expected a rebellion like this which is why he prepared him for situations that he shouldn’t be in. In any case he was confident as he flew, he respected his dad and his knowledge. Baek had paid close attention to his lessons so he knew he could accomplish this.

When he got to the point he was aiming for Baek deeply desired to jump up and cheer but instead he lifted off back into space and away from this planet that had granted him safe passage away from the warring ships. He could see clearly once more the lights of war and shook his head. He grew up with the same distaste for it all his people had. War was pointless, it only brought misery. His journey continued and he hoped that would be the only excitement beyond collecting what he was looking for.

Zatalia sat in front of her computer playing a video game, trying for possibly the fifth or sixth time to get passed this boss. “come on” she said in frustration. Her mother came in with a smile and cut up fruit “eat baby girl or I’ll unplug that thing”

“Yes mam” Her mother kissed her head and walked out. Zatalia died once more and sighed, taking off her headset and setting her controller down so she could pick up the plate of fruit. She stood with it, going to hangout with her mother a little bit “Oh, coming out here and everything” her mother teased lovingly, her tone sweet “Of course, is dad still coming home tomorrow?”

“yep and he wants to have a family day. He wants you to decide what we do”

“anything?”

“anything within an hour of here. Understandably he’s tired of driving”

“Hmm, I don’t know. I’ll figure it out by morning”

“good” Zatalia took another bite of fruit “thank you mom”

“gotta make sure you eat something healthy. Anyway, your father also wanted me to ask you if you looked over those college brochures. That’s not far off, you’re seventeen honey”

“I don’t know mom, I don’t even know what I want to do. It’s a lot of pressure”

“we’re not trying to pressure you Zatalia”

“I know, you guys are just looking out for my future but I feel liek I should know what I want to do first”

“Not necessarily, I mean, you could just take basic courses everyone has to take no matter what they want to end up doing”

“I’ll look at them later”

“alright sweetheart” Zatalia sighed and laid back “Hey, I’m sorry if we come off pushy” her mother said, fearing she had upset her daughter “No, it’s fine mom, that boss is kicking my ass and I fear looking at my phone. That dude from school is always blowing it up” Her mother laughed “you’re beautiful, smart and kind, I’m not surprised you’ve got a boy who wont leave you alone”

“he’s not a catch mom, he’s an ass. I mean, he acts nice to me but I can see his ulterior motives. In general I can’t seem to attract a nice boy”

“Hm, you sound sad Zatalia, want to talk about it?”

“No”

“Is it Baek?”

“Mooom”

“what, it’s a legitimate question”

“Baek couldn’t be less interested in me. I really think I bore the life out of him. He talks to everyone but me and even when he answers me it’s a mess. I don’t know why he hangs around me at school at all. I wish he wouldn’t. It’s hard to get over the crush I have on him when he’s always sitting with me at lunch and following me around. I mean, his fourth period is on the other side of school but he somehow always ends up walking with me to mine”

“that doesn’t sound like a boy who isn’t interested”

“he’s not interested in what I have to say”

“Maybe he’s just listening”

“I don’t want to talk to a wall mom”

“I get that baby, maybe he’s just shy”

“Baeks not a shy type of person”

“You’d be surprised how many outgoing guys turn into mumbling idiots when they have a crush. Just because he isn’t shy in general doesn’t mean he isn’t with you Zatalia”

“I guess, can we talk about something else though that isn’t college or boys?”

“sure sweetheart”

Baek was relieved when the alert for his destination sounded and he slowed. His heart was beating hard in his chest as he scanned as he started his descent. He was so close then he could go back to her and apologize for acting like such an idiot. He exhaled a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding when he finally touched down. He checked his notes on the area, looking for any sentient creatures that lived there. There were a few tribes of humanoid type creatures and he studied the picture of them before shifting his shape as his father had taught him. He then went and gathered the container he would need to transport his gift.

The air that rushed at him when he stepped out of his ship smelled sweet and fresh. The plants here were unlike any he had ever seen on earth, but there was one in particular that he was looking for. It was beautiful like Zatalia, reminding him of her bright blue eyes. The smell was also supposed to be amazing and the plant never died, the scent never fading. He hoped she would like it and it would be enough to get her to see that he adored her. He also hoped she wasn’t with that idiot when he returned. It would kill him.

Chapter Two

He walked carefully, knowing well how much these people treasured the plants around him. They wouldn’t be angry about him taking one but destroying one by mindless walking over them or something like that would cause trouble and beyond trying to be a respectful guest he wasn’t sure what happened when someone got in trouble here. It was documented they got angry over careless destruction of plants but not how it was handled. The one sent here to study had been careless and lazy but nobody else had been willing to take such a station since this place was located in such a horrible part of space. His mind was now wondering what had happened to the one sent here. He simply left his position and the only way anybody had known about it is that he quit sending anything at all home to their planet.

Zatalia sighed as she lay in bed that night, unable to fall asleep. What if her mom was right about Baek? Maybe he was just shy. It was weird to think about, especially when she had seen him interacting with his friends just fine. Sometimes he would just stare at her when she spoke. She sighed again and picked up her phone, rolling her eyes when she saw all the texts. “Geez.” She said as she sat it back down and turned over, pulling the covers up and burying her face in them. Maybe she would try contacting Baek once they were back from their family day.

Baek smiled when he finally found the flower he had been searching for. He crouched down and opened the container then gently dug it out and placed it in the container. He closed it and admired it for a moment. He was so lost in his triumph that he didn’t realize someone was behind him until he felt something sharp poke him in the back. He froze, throwing his hands up. “Who are you?” The question was asked in the native language, but sounded a bit off, like the speaker wasn’t native, but Bake dared not turn just in case.

“I don’t mean any harm, I only came here for the flower. I’m not a soldier.”

“Wait, are you a researcher?”

“Yes, my father comes from the planet Krawnum. He is currently assigned to earth, has been since before I was born but I love my home planet and it’s morals. I would never purposefully bring harm anywhere I go. If I was disrespectful in some way I apologize. I thought it would be okay as long as I didn’t step on any plants or anything like that”

“relax” whatever had been in his back was pulled away so Baek turned as the stranger said “I’m Lim, are you old enough to know me? I’m sure even if you’re not you would given my poor reputation” Lim changed, becoming what he really was and Baek did the same “In my studies with my father I learned about you”

“who is your dad?”

“Neek”

“No way, Neek had babies. I thought that man might marry a book one day. He didn’t so much as look twice at women”

“from how I hear it my mom changed that pretty rapidly when he came to earth. He fell for her right away but why did you stop writing home?” Lim shrugged “I just didn’t feel like doing my work any more. I mean, its easy living here. I didn’t need the food our home was sending me or anything like that so I just quit without saying I quit” Baek wasn’t sure how to answer that. He couldn’t understand all together abandoning a job you had sworn to do but he wasn’t here to give a speech to Lim, he was here for Zatalia. “well, if you want it a secret it’s safe with me. I’m not supposed to be here”

“here for a girl then, is that flower a gift?”

‘Yes”

“damn, these girls from the planet your dads on must really be something. I’ll give you an offer our kind can’t normally refuse. If you take me home with you, I’ll write up everything I’ve learned over all these years. I mean it, every single thing”

“so you’re stuck here huh” Lim chuckled “sharp like your father, yeah, one thing I forgot I needed was fuel for the ship. Nothing here works so when I ran out I ran out”

“Our leader wouldn’t have refused you fuel if you had asked”

“by the time I swallowed my pride the ship had been left sitting so long without care that it wouldn’t function in any capacity. I couldn’t ask”

“I’ll help you then, maybe I’ll be in less trouble if I bring you”

“How old are you?”

“seventeen” Lims eyes went wide “and you flew here by yourself, here of all places. Even bringing me might not spare you from your father. Neeks a good man who undoubtedly loves you, I think fear he could have lost you is gong to make for a bad day when you get back but I’ll be on your side, I’ll try to remind him what it’s like to be a teenager. Please bring me back, you have no reason to trust my word given my history but I will stay true to it”

“My conscious would eat at me forever if I left you here knowing you can’t leave, come on” They shifted back to look like the people that lived here and began to make their way to the ship. “so truly, is she really worth taking so much risk?” Lim asked along the way “I’ve been such an idiot I needed to do something grand. I mean, she wont understand all this risk but this flower is so beautiful and perfect I’m hoping just it alone will express how I feel”

“does she even know you’re not from her planet?”

“I can barely talk about normal things so no not yet. If she’ll be with me I’ll tell her”

“But being Neeks son you’re still not going to brag about what you went through for her are you”

Baek shook his head. “I just want her to see that I love her, that I’m always thinking of her. She deserves something beautiful for me being such an idiot.”

“Human women are so fascinating. Your father got lucky when he was sent to earth.”

Baek nodded, having to agree. He loved his mother and couldn’t imagine having anyone else but her and he had also been able to meet Zatalia. If had been born on his father’s planet, he would never have any of that. “So how did you survive out here?” He asked as they loaded into his ship and he put the flower next to his seat.

“Blending in mostly avoiding certain areas. This planet is mostly a peaceful place, but there are wild animals and poisonous plants that can kill you if you are not careful.”

“I made sure to do as much research as I could before coming here. I was more concerned about the war going on.”

He sighed “yeah, you’d think one side would tire of it but they seem to live and breath for it now. I’m anxious to get away. The weapons they use are only getting bigger and more deadly. It’s only a matter of time before they start destroying the planets around here.”

“How about we don’t bring up these points to my parents” Baek said and Lim chuckled again before asking “what should I know of human custom before I get there. You’re doing me a huge favor, I know that so I’d feel awful if I offended your mother”

“They behave around each other about like we do so you don’t have to worry. However, a sad thing about humanity is that they aren’t peaceful. They hurt each other all the time, a lot seem to think nothing of others feelings so you can’t just trust everyone you meet there. However my mom and her family are amazing. The only person in her family that can’t be trusted is her mother and she doesn’t interact with her anyway. Oh, she’s actually descended from Freg by the way.”

“He’s alive?”

“Yep, apparently this family is good at finding people that are supposed to be dead”

“Ouch.”

“I didn’t mean anything by it, it’s just a fact.”

Zatalia groaned as something brushed her nose and she swatted at it. It came back, accompanied by a laugh and she snapped her eyes open, smiling near instantly when she saw her dad. She sat up and hugged him, happy that he was home. “Hey princess.”

“When did you get in?”

“Early this morning.” He pulled back. “Mom’s making breakfast, she told me to come and get you up.”

“Alright.”

“She told me you’ve been having boy trouble.”

Zatalia blushed. “It’s not that big of a deal.”

He patted her head. “He’ll come around, trust me, I’ve been there. When you like someone, sometimes your brain forgets to send those little signals to your mouth. Anyway, just be patient.”

“I will.”

“Sorry to embarrass you first thing in the morning, now hurry up slow poke or I’m eating your food.”

She couldn’t resist hugging her dad again. It was amazing when he was home, especially after such a long trip. He held her until she pulled away again. Once he was out of her room Zatalia quickly dressed and ran downstairs to eat with her parents who were laughing and playing around with one another. They were both incredibly fun but they seemed to bring out even better versions of each other. Some friends, after finding out he had to travel different places for work quite a bit would pity her but Zatalia would end up pitying them right back most the time. Few of her friends parents loved each other quite like Zatalia’s parents did and her father was so amazing and spent so much time with them when he was home, not to mention calling one to twice a day when he was gone that it truly wasn’t that bad.

She could even text him whenever she wanted. Sometimes it would take an hour for him to reply but there was never a time she couldn’t reach out to him. There was even once when she was in Middle School where she broke her arm and he came home that day, not caring for his second how mad his boss was because he had been so worried about her. There was also back when her mothers mom died and he came home. They came first, always and she wouldn’t want anybody else other than the dad she had.

A ship seeming to fly right toward them startled Baek a bit the ships cloaking is still on, they can’t see you he comforted himself before dipping the ship down. Real fear gripped him when the other ship went lower to “I think they can see us” Baek said to Lim “that can’t be”

“let me try again to move out of the way” he took a hard turn, trying to go a completely different direction but the ship followed “Oh god” Lim said “what kind of ship is it? I can’t see it that well” Baek started trying to get a camera on the ship to zoom on it. “damn I don’t know this ship” he said once he could see it. Lim looked “they can see us, of course, finally when I thought I was headed for a nice peaceful life.”

“there’s no time for pity parties. What do I do?”

“Hope they don’t catch up. High tail this thing as fast as it goes to the left. There should be a black hole. If we can just stay ahead of it until we can go through”

“I’m not going through a black hole! I’ve never been through one”

“I have, it’ll be fine, I’ll drive once we’re through. I just want you to get us there since this is your ship and you’re familiar with it. They wont follow us, their ships can’t take the pressure”

Baek calmed himself and jerked quickly to the left, accelerating once he was straight, his eyes flicking to the image of the image of the ship gaining in them. Lim pointed at the black hole and Baek’s fingers gripped tightly to the controls as he headed into it. It felt strange, like he was suddenly being compressed by some heavy weight. He squeezed his eyes closed and when he opened them again he was laying on the floor and Lim was behind the controls. “What happened?” He asked.

“You passed out, it happens sometimes.”

“Are we safe?”

“It didn’t follow us, at least I don’t think it did, so I’d say we’re safe for now.”

Baek got to his feet and went over to the console next to Lim, his fingers moving over the buttons as he checked his ships status. Everything seemed in working order so Baek just sat down with a sigh. “My dad’s going to kill me.”

“As long as this trip was worth it.”

“It was. How long until we’re back on track?”

“Not long, I promise.”

Chapter Three

Johana looked stressed as she walked in circles around the living room and kitchen with little Tarryn in her arms. Despite the fact Tarryn was refusing to go to sleep he knew it didn’t have anything to do with the baby so he asked “what’s wrong?”

“Baek, hasn’t he been gone a long time? He didn’t even say where he was going and he normally does. I’m just worried. I know you’ve trained him well but..there’s so much out there and it’s weird he hasn’t come home yet”

“I’ll check on him” he walked over, giving her then the baby a gentle kiss before walking out to his own ship to see where his son was. Some of Johana’s anxiety lifted just knowing her husband was going to go look. Neek instantly knew something was off the second he got everything running and it didn’t take him long at all to see his son had tampered with the tracker. Anger and worry washed over him that Baek would do this. He had a lot of freedom and that was about to drastically change if he didn’t have a good explanation. once he got this fixed and found his son. He just hoped Johana wouldn’t come out here until he fixed it, he didn’t want her more worked up than she had to be.

He called his younger sons cellphone, not wanting to go back inside and risk having to talk to Johana just yet. “yeah dad? Did you leave?”

“I’m outside in my ship, come out here”

“why?”

“because I don’t know where your brother is and I’d rather know where he is before I have to talk to your mother. I want you to help me fix what he’s done and I want to talk to you.” Iseul walked into the living room nonchalantly “dad outside?”

“yeah, whats up”

“Oh, just gotta ask him something” he walked by then ran to the ship once he was outside. Once Iseul was on board Neek said seriously “If you know anything right now is the time to tell me. This is your only chance to talk to me without serious consequences. What your brother has done is beyond stupid and he may not see that ship again until after he graduates “dad, I swear, all I know is he’s been rambling about some flower for” Iseul couldn’t think of her name for some reason but his dad knew “Zatalia?”

“Yeah, he’s really striking out with her but that’s about the extent of what I know”

“I will go with you boys anywhere, he goes where ever he wants, just sometimes I need to be there. Why is that so hard?”

“I don’t know dad”

“He just better hope your mother doesn’t come out here before I fix what he’s done to my tracker. It’s only going to make me madder if I have to watch her be upset”

“what should I do dad?”

“I need you to write a letter to our leader and send it back home. You remember how to use the box right?”

“yes sir”

“Jean has the ability to message all the ships at once. If I can’t fix this I need to at least know where the last place he was spotted was if I hope to find him. I also know our people will help me look”

“yes sir”

“Then I want you to send a message to your brothers ship telling him to get home right this instant. I wish I could trust him to just come home and tell me where he is now but I can’t apparently. Iseul, please, never do anything like this. I thought you boys understood how dangerous space can be, how vast. If I’m to give you freedom I need to know I can trust you”

“I wont dad” Neek sighed “please hurry and write those letters son”

“yes sir”

Baek was proud of himself when he managed to stay awake and on his feet as Lim pulled out of the black hole and back into open space. It was such an odd sensation, one he wouldn’t forget. “Alright, it might take us a little longer to get back to your planet, but we’re safe at least.” Lim said as he relinquished the controls.

“Thank you.”

“Feeling uncomfortable?”

“Just a little. It’s like my entire being has been stretched and then mashed back together.”

Lim chuckled. “You’ll get used to it. I’m sure your father has been through his share.”

Baek checked their location and then typed in a new route. He hated it was going to take him longer to get back to Zatalia, but at least he would get there alive. He was surprised when he got an alert something had come through for him and his heart stuttered in his chest. He didn’t want to get up and check it, he was sure it was his father. Lim retrieved it anyway and brought the letter to him. “Who’s it from?”

“Someone named Iseul.”

“I’m in real trouble then, that’s my younger brother and if dad had him write me instead of doing it himself then he must be furious.”

“I’m sure it’ll be fine, even if you are punished.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“want me to read it to you? Sometimes it’s easier to just hear these kind of things instead of reading it”

“sure, thank you”

“Baek, where ever you are you need to come home now or write back and tell dad where you are. He knows you messed with the tracking system and I’m honestly surprised you did it too. You’ve always been able to go where ever you want and honestly, I think dads more hurt than mad that you’ve done this. Please, hurry home or at least write back. Just an fyi dad had me write a message to Jean to have everyone look for you”

“should I say something back?”

“I suppose we have to…I don’t want to make everyone search for me….”

“I’ll tell him we are on the way back and that you’re with me. I can also semi explain the situation so you aren’t coming into it having to explain everything when you get home”

“thank you”

“don’t look so blue kid, it’s good to have parents that care about you”

“I know..eh…I didn’t want to hurt them, especially not mom….I was hoping I could get back before they found out.” Lim set to writing back and Baek paid attention to where he was driving, his mind consumed with his parents and Zatalia. “Um, a guy named Lim wrote back from Baeks ship dad” Iseul informed Neek right away when the letter came through. Neek looked puzzled as he took it “do you know him dad”

“Maybe” he said as he opened it. Iseul tried to read his fathers face as he read the letter to himself. Neek sighed when he was done “He did go off because of Zatalia”

“can I read it?” Neek handed his son the letter then went back to trying to fix the tracker. When Iseul was done he asked “so are you still mad?”

“Maybe not as mad but he’s still in trouble. I can’t stress enough my need to know where you two are in space. Right now if something should happen I’d have no way at all to find him beyond hope and help from my people and people get lost all the time like Freg and Lim. It’s not because I’m trying to control you…I love you boys. I can’t lose you and neither could your mother”

“I’m sure he knows that dad, I mean I guess I understand why he’d do something like this, but he should have asked you for help.”

“He should never feel like he needs to hide things from any of us.” He ran a frustrated hand through his hair. “You should write him back and also write Jean again and ask him to have a couple of ships head in their direction. Also write back to Lim and tell him to look out for your brother or else.”

“Alright, should I tell mom Baek’s okay?”

“Just tell her he’s safe and on his way home and that I’ll talk to her once I done here, that she shouldn’t worry.”

“Okay.”

He tussled Iseul’s hair. “Thank you.”

“Love you dad.”

“Love you too.”

Once Neek managed to fix his tracking system he calmed down even further. There it was, the location of his son and now no matter what happened he’d be able to find him as long as the ship survived it. With that done Neek went inside to talk to Johana who had finally gotten Tarryn to go to sleep. When morning came it was a call on Baeks phone that woke Johana. She always turned into a light sleeper anyway when she had a child under one in her home but with Baek gone and in a dangerous part of space last night she had barely been asleep at all so she went to his room to see who it was. By the time she got there the phone had stopped but there was a message for Baek. Normally she’d respect his privacy but she didn’t feel her son could be the one upset when he got home. Johana smiled when she saw Zatalia’s name and began to read “Hey, I know it might be weird I’m finally using your number when we exchanged them a few months back but I wanted to hangout sometime before spring break is over if you’d like to.”

Zatalia was sitting at home, a mess of nerves to have finally used his number. She hadn’t until now because she didn’t like texting and Baek didn’t even seem to want to speak to her at school but she was hoping her parents were right and he was just shy. If they needed to start out texting that would be okay with her. It would honestly be nice to have a real conversation with him. “is everything okay Johana?” Neek asked from behind her “Yeah, Zatalia is trying to reach him”

“He should be home any moment. I’ll make sure to hand him his phone after I talk to him”

“you’re going to let him see her? She’s trying to make plans to meet with him”

‘Yeah, he obviously really loves this girl and at this point I’ll just be relieved to see him safe. Baek has always been smart and reasonable. I’m going to chalk this one up to being a teenage boy and give him a pass”

Chapter Four

Baek was both relieved and nervous when he finally landed near his home. He just sat there for a moment, feeling ashamed for worrying his parents, especially his mother. “You ready to face the music?” Lim asked.

“Not really, but I know I need too.”

Lim patted his shoulder. “You can do it.”

“I know, thanks.” He got up, lifting the container with the flower in it and started for the exit. What could he really say? Would they understand and would they forgive him? His father was waiting for him, arms crossed and looking disappointed. “Hey dad.”

“Baek.”

“I…”

“We should talk alone.” Neek looked at Lim. “So it is you?”

“Alive and well.” Lim rubbed the back of his neck. “I asked your son to bring me back. He pretty much saved my life.”

“That’s not true.” Baek said. ”

“Sure it is, you could have left me there.”

Neek sighed. “Go up to my house, tell my wife you are a friend, I need to talk to my son.”

Lim nodded then hurried along “I’m sorry dad’

“I’ve had time to cool down but you terrified me son. Mostly because you made it so I couldn’t track you. I know you did it trying to make me think you’re somewhere safe but I know my ship, if you mess with anything I’m going to know son. Why didn’t you just ask me to go with you?”

“Because of the twins…Tarryn doesn’t sleep much and I wanted you to stay here to help mom. I knew you wouldn’t want mom and the twins in the ship going into that part of space”

“That’s true, but still, I love you Baek and there are some things I really want you trained more in before you do it on your own. Your mother could have handled the twins while I helped you. She has her family and your brother Iseul after all.”

“I didn’t think about that”

“You were just thinking of Zatalia…I get it. You must deeply love her to have risked so much”

“I do, I’d marry her some day if she’d have me but all I do is make an ass out of myself around her. I can’t talk and when I do it comes out all wrong. It’s frustrating and the more I get frustrated with myself the worse I get. I feel like this gift is my only hope of winning her over”

“Just breath son, keep your cool. It’s like how I always tell you to keep a clear head no matter what’s happening on the ship. Just remember you need to stay calm if you want to win her over. I have good news for you though”

“what?”

“she tried calling you this morning and then she texted you. It looks like she wants to meet you somewhere”

“Seriously?”

Neek pulled Baek’s phone out of his pocket and handed it to him. “I think she’s just as nervous as you are.”

“How can you tell?” Baek asked as he looked at the message.

“Call it a hunch.”

“Can I see her? I know I’m in trouble, but…well I want to give her her gift.”

Neek placed a hand on his shoulder. “Of course, but you must promise me you will never do anything like this again. I understand why you did it, love is a powerful force, but if anything had happened to you, a lot of people would have been hurt. You got incredibly lucky.”

“I know dad and I promise to ask you next time.”

“Good, now why don’t we get you inside so your mother can see you’re alright.”

“Okay.”

“Then you can text Zatalia back and set up a date.”

Baek rushed inside and hugged his mother “welcome home baby” was all she said, figuring he had been fussed at enough at this point. He showed her the flower and Johana remarked “that’s gorgeous”

“and it’ll never die”

“she’s going to love it” He hurried to his room and took a few steadying breaths before deciding what to say back to Zatalia “It’s not weird, I’m happy to hear from you. I’ve missed seeing you at school. I’d really like to meet you as soon as you’re free. Just let me know okay? I’ll even take you out for lunch if that isn’t too soon” He made himself hit send before he over analyzed what he said and erased the message. Just in case she was willing to see him so soon he set down his gift and took a quick shower, checking his phone the second he was out. She had replied and he could barely believe it as he opened the text “Lunch sounds good if you can pick me up. My parents are busy all day today but if you can’t I’m sure they’ll give me money for a taxi”

He nearly dropped his phone he started responding so fast. “Of course I’ll pick you up, how about eleven thirty?” He swallowed nervously as he waited, his heart beating so hard he was sure it would burst from his chest.

“That sounds great.” She said back and he exhaled the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. What was he going to do until then? He couldn’t believe she had actually said yes so soon. He needed to get cleaned up and get the plant read for her. He was also nervous about telling her the truth about him. What if she thought he was crazy and decided she didn’t want to see him?

“So? What did he say?” Zatalia’s dad asked as he peeked over her shoulder.

She blushed. “He said yes, I’m so nervous.”

“I’m sure he is too, just breathe and remember if he doesn’t say anything that’s probably why.”

She sent him her address then began getting ready to meet him. She tried not to think too much about it since this wasn’t a date but it was hard when she found him so ridiculously handsome. He could take her breath away by just looking at her and she couldn’t help but want to look cute. She was heading out to wait on the porch when her father handed her a few twenties “Have fun, that’s all yours. Even if he decides to pay for everything today you can still keep it.”

“really dad?”

“I’m not always here to spoil you and you’re a good kid.” she hugged him tightly and he reminded her “You keep him in line okay, if something makes you uncomfortable tell him and if he doesn’t stop break something” Zatalia laughed “I love you dad” She decided to wait outside since it was such a nice day. When Baek arrived she stood and nervously approached his car, blushing when he got out of his car with something in his hands “I…I wanted to give you this before we left” He was almost shaking with nerves but he kept telling himself to calm down, to focus like he did when he flew. She gasped when she took it from him “wow, this..this is gorgeous Baek. I’ve never seen anything so pretty”

A flirty response instantly popped up in his head but when he opened his mouth to say it nothing came out and fear swelled within him he was going to ruin this chance. “thank you so much Baek” she was almost taken back by just how gorgeous this flower was, she had never seen anything like it. “where did you buy this”

“I didn’t have to buy it…I know where they grow and I went to get one for you…I…” he inwardly groaned as she looked up at him with those gorgeous blue eyes. With all he was he didn’t want to ruin this chance to hangout with her, he wanted her to invite him out again sometime. “These flowers remind me of you because of how pretty the blue is…like your eyes” he finally spat out and her heart tripped over itself. She was beginning to wonder if this was a date.

“Thank you so much, Baek, you’re the sweetest.”

He rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m glad you like it.”

“Just let me run this inside real quick.”

“S…sure. Just so you know it doesn’t need water, unless you want to give it some, but it’s self sustaining so yeah.”

He wasn’t looking directly at her and she smiled when she realized he was nervous. “Okay, just give me a minute.” He nodded and she hurried inside, pausing just a moment to show her parents the gift he had given her before taking it to her room and sitting it on her desk. She waved at her parents on the way out and Baek straightened immediately when she came out. “Okay, I’m ready.”

“Oh, good, um…” he looked a little lost at first and then something seemed to dawn on him and he quickly opened the passenger door for her, a blush tinting his cheeks.

“Thank you.”

Once he was inside the car as well he said “I have a place in mind but we can go anywhere you want”

“we’ll go to where ever you were thinking of” His heart was slamming against his chest but Baek was just grateful he was managing to act semi normal around her. When he still hadn’t said anything more when they arrived at the first stop light she began to talk about the game she was currently playing. She had hope he’d say something but if he didn’t she’d try to not take it personally. “So I finally got past this boss I’ve been stuck on awhile. It’s in that game I was talking to you about the last day of school. It was such a relief, I think I should just eat fruit more often. My mom cut me up a huge plate and when I came back from eating it bam, done”

She glanced over at him then continued “my dad just got back so my mom is happy as can be. We had a family day yesterday” She left a brief pause, trying to give him an easy opening to say something to her since “what did you do” could fit there but he didn’t so she just continued talking. When they arrived at the restaurant she went to get out and he said “wait”

“Hm?”

“I’m sorry”

“for?”

“struggling to talk around you, I mean it’s at ridiculous levels. I just end up silent because I over think everything because…” he swallowed “because I think I love you. I’ve always been so collected and outgoing but you throw everything about me because all I can think about when I’m near you is how much I like your voice and how pretty you are and I enjoy hearing about your family and everything else you tell me about but I know I should talk more…I’m trying…”

“did you say you love me?” He nodded, unable to look at her “Baek, please look at me” he turned his head, his eyes finding hers. “I’m glad to hear you even like me…sometimes I’ve wondered about that because I’ve been attracted to you since my first day at school” She took his hand and smiled at him reassuringly “so if you’d like it to be this could be our first date and I could be your girlfriend” His hand felt like it may catch fire it was so hot and she almost laughed, it was more adorable now that she knew his silence shouldn’t hurt her feelings. She let go of his hand to move so she could kiss him. She had imagined it so many times when she first moved here and was still dyeing to so she hoped he could at least kiss her back.

He placed one hand on her arm and the other on the side of her face as he awkwardly kissed her back, hoping it wasn’t too obvious this was his first kiss. Even if it wasn’t, this was Zatalia, he couldn’t believe she was actually kissing him when all he did was act like a weirdo around her. When she sat back in her seat she wanted more than anything for him to say something and he actually did, he uttered words that melted her heart, especially with the way he was looking at her “I love you so much Zatalia”

“I love you too”

“I’ll do anything to make you happy…I’m going to talk more, I mean it” She smiled at him and he couldn’t help but kiss her again. It was brief and he got out of the car after to let her out before he just kept kissing her. They were on a date and he wanted her to see he could be a good boyfriend. He was going to make this day amazing and if she let him, he planned on making the rest of her life amazing.

~ The End

Neek & Johana 3

Chapter One

Neek was supposed to be working on another report. He hadn’t sent one home in almost a month and he knew his leader was probably getting impatient with him but it was near impossible to stay focused on work these days. He could hear his wife and two children playing upstairs, their laughter filling the house so he longed to join them. He eagerly looked at the stairs when he heard their youngest running down, laughing hysterically all the way, his mother soon followed, sweeping him off his feet as she proclaimed “I got you!” She glanced over at Neek “how’s that report coming baby”

He looked down, seeing he hadn’t even finished a paragraph. She could tell by the look on his face he wasn’t getting anything done so she said “why don’t I go to teh store with the kids. I can think up something special for dinner and you could work”

“I dont want you three to leave”

“you need to send a report in, it’s your job”

“Kiss me first then?” she set their youngest down and walked over to him, laughing as she said “it’s only the store” she kissed him then he answered “I love you and our life so much though. I don’t like missing any of it”

“we’ll be back, the sooner you get that completed the sooner we can have some fun together. I’ll have my phone”

“Okay” She yelled up for her older son ” Get ready to leave Baek!”

“Yes mam!” He yelled down so she started looking for her youngest shoes. Once they were all ready the boys hugged their father then followed their mom out. He looked sadly at the door a few moments before making himself finish his report so he could be with them.

“Hey mom, do think tomorrow dad will come out with us tomorrow?” Baek asked.

“I’m sure he will honey. He’s just been busy, but I’m sure as soon as he finishes with work, he’ll go with us anywhere you want.”

Baek’s eyes brightened up. “Do you think he’d go with us to look at the eagle babies we found?”

“I bet he’d really love that.”

Neek decided to write an extra letter before sending everything thing through, asking that he be given time to spend with his family without worrying about work. He enjoyed his work and both Johana and their boys had made it even more enjoyable, but he knew he needed to spend real quality time with them. He didn’t want his children growing up thinking their father didn’t care. He knew if Johana could hear his thoughts she would tell him how unfounded his fears were, but he wanted to make sure they never doubted him.

He impatiently paced by the box, checking it repeatedly until finally, something came back. “Of course you can take a break Neek. You do good work and deserve time to simply be with your family. Just bring them back here soon, we all want to see the boys and Johana again” He felt both relieved and excited as he left his ship and rushed back to the house. First thing he did was call Johana “Hey, you finished that report right? If not get off the phone and do it, we’re fine” She said before he could even speak. “I’m done and I asked for time where I don’t have to worry about studying or reports. I’m free just to be with you and the boys for awhile”

“How long”

“he didn’t specify so I’m sure he doesn’t care”

“That’s amazing, in fact, Baek wants you to come see these eagles we found”

“I’d love to see when you guys get home”

“well, we wont stay out much longer then. Could you clean up the kitchen for me?”

“Of course I can”

“Thank you Neek, we love you, so much”

“You’re welcome, please hurry back” she smiled “we will after I find these spices I need. You’re going to love dinner, at least I hope”

“I’m sure I will. I’ll let you go and get to work on the kitchen”

“Bye Neek”

“Bye Johana”

“Daddies going to see the eagles!?” Baek asked excitedly, causing his mother to giggle “daddies going to see the eagles” She quickly grabbed what she needed and went for the checkout, both her boys seeming happy. She truly loved this life she had with Neek and couldn’t wait to get home to him.

Neek was impatient has he cleaned, wanting his family home and he was excited when he heard their voices as they came up the driveway. He was out the front door and helping her with the groceries before they had even touched the porch. Johana giggled and he leaned down to press a kiss to her lips. “Sorry, I missed you, all of you.”

“Honey, we weren’t gone that long.” She said with a laugh as they stepped inside.

“I know, but I still miss spending real, quality time with you and the boys.”

“You’re going to love the eagles dad.” Baek said. “I spotted the nest the last time mom took us hiking and I could hear them. She wouldn’t let me climb up there though, she said it was too dangerous to go alone.”

“She has a point, but how about tomorrow, I take you up.” He turned his gaze to Johana. “Would that be alright?”

“Of course, you know I trust you.”

Iseul wandered out of the kitchen so Neek said “I’ll play with the boys while you get dinner ready” He looked at Baek “lets go see what Iseul wants to get into”

“Okay” Baek rushed out and he kissed Johana one more time before leaving her to get dinner ready. She happily put what remained of the groceries away then started their dinner, referencing her cellphone for what to do each step of the way. It ended up being an amazing evening and just when Johana told the boys it was time for bed Baek asked “could we make a fort in the living room and all sleep together?” She looked at Neek who smiled “of course we can, you and mom go grab some blankets and I’ll grab some chairs” Iseul ran after Johana and Baek, making Neek lightly chuckle at how adorable their youngest was trying to help tug in a blanket.

They worked together getting it set up so they would be comfortable for the night then Johana ran around switching lights off, happily finding her place among her men when she returned. Johana was half asleep by the time her boys were soundly sleeping so to help her get the rest of the way there Neek gently rubbed her forehead. He would have rubbed her back but Iseul fell asleep with his head on her stomach. “I love you Johana”

“I love you too” her voice was so soft, he knew she was mere moments from finding rest too so he gave her a feather light kiss goodnight. He felt sad when her breathing told him she was out. His family slept so long, even his boys. They took the sleeping habits of humans rather than his species but he went to sleep for the moment, eager for their day tomorrow.

The next morning, Neek slipped silently away from his family, finding himself admiring them for a moment. How beautiful Johana was lying next to their two children. It warmed him and he realized how truly lucky he was to have found Johana. He went quietly into the kitchen and started breakfast, humming to himself as he put on a pot of coffee and then started on the bacon, eggs, and hash browns. It was Baek who woke first and came into the kitchen yawning and rubbing his eyes. “Dad, can I help?” He asked.

“Of course, why don’t you set the table for me.”

“Okay, I’ll pour mine and Iseul’s milk too.”

“Sounds good.” He pulled plates and cups down for Baek and let him take them to the table on his own. He couldn’t help but dwell on the fact that his oldest was growing up so fast, that he was becoming more independent with each passing day. It amazed and frightened him.

When everything was ready he walked back to the fort in the living room. He felt a little guilty now that he realized he hadn’t waited long enough to cook for her to get enough rest but at this point she would have had five hours and he hoped just for today that would be enough. “Johana” he spoke her name with deep affection as he gently rubbed her arm “mm?” He smiled, kissing her ear then whispering into it “breakfast is ready, I know you’re tired, I’m sorry. I was just so excited to spend the day with you guys. If you want to nap later I’ll watch our boys” She smiled and he felt relief she wasn’t mad. Johana didn’t feel ready to get up but he was being so sweet she forced herself, rubbing her eyes and hoping there was coffee so she wouldn’t end up making him feel bad with her exhaustion.

She knew in general he struggled with the fact there was a four hour difference in the amount of sleep they needed and she found that incredibly sweet. So many partners can’t wait for alone time but Neek wasn’t like that at all. He helped her out of the fort and walked ahead of her to the kitchen to pull her chair out. “I’ll grab you some coffee my love”

“Thank you”

“Morning mama” Baek said cheerfully and she smiled “starting to sleep more like your dad?”

“I think I was just excited too for our day with dad”

“He helped set the table and poured the milk. Go wake your brother now alright Baek?”

“Okay dad” Baek ran out of the kitchen and Neek took his place by Johana. She sipped down a few gulps of coffee then began eating “so, eagles first today?” she asked him and he nodded. Soon Iseul was in the kitchen and sitting at his spot. He ate slowly, obviously not ready to get up but he was only three, Johana knew he’d find energy soon. Worst case scenario he could nap with her later. It would give Baek time alone with his dad.

Chapter Two

Once they were finished eating, Johana got Iseul in the bath, while Neek and Baek did the dishes. Baek was next to bathe and they had him watch his baby brother while they got clean. Neek couldn’t help but pull her into him and kiss her lips. She giggled. “Neek, be good.”

“I’m sorry, I just can’t help myself.”

She gave him another kiss. “You’re so sweet, but we can spend some time alone together later. I don’t want to leave the boys alone for too long. Baek is a wonderful older brother, but you know how toddlers can be.”

“I know, I love you.”

“I love you too.”

They quickly cleaned and got out, both of them pulling on clothes for hiking. Johana was glad to find the boys both still watching TV when they came down. “You two ready?” She asked as she switched of the TV.

“yeah” they cheered almost in unison. Once they were outside Neek lifted their youngest onto his shoulders where the little boy giggled happily. Baek took his mothers hand, keeping it until he got excited about the journey and began running all around. They had taken this path many times but it never seemed any less amazing to their children. It seemed they had inherited the curious nature of their fathers people and Johana wondered if they’d want to do what their dad did when they grew up. If that was the case she was glad they moved out here when Freg invited them to build a home. Living out here in the mountains their curious minds could truly be nurtured every day since there was always something new to discover.

It took them an hour just to get to the path but they were in no hurry. Both Neek and Johana knew when they agreed to this it would take at least most of the day. Neek stopped to admire even the branches the eagles had chosen to build the nest on. This mother had obviously taken great care in her nest and what supported it and he prayed it wouldn’t be hostile to them when he took his sons up “Okay, lets let Baek go first since this was his thing, alright Iseul? Can you go to your mom?”

“I brought candy” she said cheerfully and her toddler eagerly went to her. Neek smiled, almost laughing as he lifted Baek “be good Iseul” he told his young son before taking his other son up. Johana fed him candy as she tried to keep her son as silent as possible so he wouldn’t upset the mother. When Neek returned with Baek she adored how happy her son looked “Okay Iseul, I’ll take you now” Iseul went right to his father and Baek sat with Johana “how was it?”

“great, I’m so happy dad came”

“me too”

“do you think he’d take us to space too”

“tomorrow perhaps” He made an adorable excited noise which caused her to laugh and embrace her son “want some candy little man?”

“yes please” Things seemed to go well with Iseul up there but Neek didn’t let him stay quite as long as he had let Baek stay. It was mostly out of concerns the younger child might hurt the babies or the mom on accident since he was still too young to really be trusted with animals. Neek looked at his cellphone “I’m surprised you guys haven’t complained about being hungry” He pulled out a little box and his sons knew what it was instantly. He gave each of them and Johana a ball about the size of gum drop candies and they popped it in their mouths, feeling full instantly. It was something from his home world that he liked to keep on hand. It was delicious and made eating easy when they were out like this.

“Where to now?” He asked as he lifted Iseul back onto his shoulders.

“The river.” Baek answered. “Uncle Freg said there are crawdads and I want to see them. He says they taste really good so maybe we could come back sometime with a net and bucket and you could get some for me dad.”

“All you want buddy, I’ll catch enough to feed all of us.”

“Oh and dad, can we go to space tomorrow? I really want to see the stars and planets and I bet the moon looks even cooler up close.”

Neek chuckled. “Whatever you want.”

“Awesome.”

“Is there anything you want love?” He asked Johana as they continued walking.

“Just to spend time with my sweet husband and two beautiful children.”

“You must want something?”

Johana thought about it. “A date night.”

“Of course, I’ll plan something extra special for you.”

She smiled, her heart warming as they walked along with their children. Johana spent most of her time when they arrived at the river taking pictures of the boys playing with their dad. They all looked so happy and she couldn’t wait to make a scrap book of it for them to keep forever. Scrapbooking hadn’t interested her in the slightest before kids but now she loved it and had a book shelf dedicated to them. It wasn’t incredibly full yet but she knew by the time they were grown she might even need another. That night just the boys slept in their fort. Neek wanted to just be with his wife for a little bit and the boys didn’t seem disappointed at all but they were normally happy children. They had the same easy nature their father had.

“could we soak again? I’m sore from hiking all day”

“If you’re sore, you just take the tub and I’ll pour you some wine. While you relax I can check the ship. If I’m taking you three away from the planet I want to inspect it closely” She kissed his cheek “are you sure? I can help you after we both soak”

“No, you know its better with just one person if you’re doing it because you hurt. You’re always taking care of the boys, you definitely pull more weight than I do when it comes to them so please, soak, enjoy some wine and let me tend to the ship on my own quickly”

“Okay, just make sure Iseul doesn’t sneek out after you. Anything could get him in the dark”

“Not while I’m out there. I promise I will make sure neither of the boys leave the house” Johana ran herself a bath while Neek went to the kitchen to pour her a glass of wine. When he brought it to her she was already covered in water and bubbles “thank you Neek”

“Thank you for being such an amazing wife and for giving me those boys in there”

“I’m incredibly happy” He sat there with her a few moments before going to his boys to see if Baek was still awake “Hey”

“hey dad, didn’t you and mom go to bed?”

“Not quite yet, I need to go check the ship if I’m taking you three up. You boys need to stay inside.”

“I’ll make sure Iseul doesnt try to follow you”

“You’re a good big brother Baek” Neek was as quick as he could possibly be while still making sure he checked absolutely everything. He even double checked the child safety mechanisms he had added to the ship since Iseul was still so young. Once comforted that his family would be safe he returned to Johana, happy to find her reading, still soaking in their bathtub.

He let out a contented sigh once he was sitting behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her against him. “What are you reading?” He asked and brushed a kiss to her shoulder.

“It’s one of the books you had on the ship.” She showed him the cover.

“I am always so amazed by how quickly you picked up my native language. You’re incredible, you know that?”

“You’re pretty amazing yourself.”

“Not as amazing as you.” He kissed her cheek this time, causing her to giggle.

“Are we going to have a war over who’s more amazing?”

“You’ll lose, my love. I have so many wonderful ways to describe you, so many amazing memories that show just how amazing you truly are.” He ran his nose over her ear, causing goosebumps to rise on her skin. “You’re so perfect.”

“I swear you get sweeter and sweeter every day.”

“I just feel so blessed to have this family and I want to make sure you always know that”

“well you do show us. I promise I never feel like we’re not what’s most important to you. I practically have to make you do your work unless its the fun stuff like us going somewhere new”

“well once I do start working again I want you to pick somewhere I haven’t explored yet. That way we have something fun to segway me back into work”

“You didn’t tell me when that is by the way”

“I didn’t ask for a set amount of time and Jeans son didn’t tell me when I had to return to work. I doubt they care how long I take off. I mean, while my people crave knowledge most wouldn’t leave our planet and take all the risks I take living here. I’m sure you’ve noticed, myself and the ones like me who go to collect knowledge are highly respected. I could probably take a year or two off and they wouldn’t bat an eye”

“I still want to tell everyone about aliens once you’re done studying earth so lets not take that long off. Freg and my relatives shouldn’t have to hide who and what they are. Neither should you and our boys. They don’t care now but I worry they might feel bad about how they look later or just the fact they aren’t allowed to look like themselves unless we’re home. I want my children to be free to look like themselves if they want to”

“You shouldn’t worry baby”

“they always look human though, even when we’re home…I don’t know..I just love them so much and I want them to love themselves. It took a lot of convincing to get you to love yourself”

“I’m pretty sure they just like looking like their mother. They’re mommas boys through and through.” He kissed her head then said “I’m thinking at max a few months of us just being happy together. I’ve discovered so much here, so many things even you didn’t know about your planet and others dont seem to know. We’ll have a lot more to reveal than just my kind existing. They live among wolves and demons and somehow don’t know. They are all clever creatures”

“yeah’

Chapter Three

When the water started to cool, they quickly washed and got out, Neek drying both of them, a smile pulling at his lips when she blushed. It was still one of his favorite things. “So, where are you going to take me on our date?” She asked as she pulled on a pair of panties and one of his t-shirts.

“I’m not sure yet, but I wouldn’t tell you anyway, I want it to be a surprise.”

“Meany.”

He chuckled as he lifted her, making her cling tightly to him in surprise. “I’m sorry my love, but you deserve something extraordinary.” He climbed under the covers with her and shifted his shape.

His heart stuttered as she snuggled closer to him and pressed a kiss to his chest. “I already have extraordinary.” She let out a contented little sigh. “Even after all this time, I still can’t get enough of how warm you are. I really love you so whatever you plan, I’ll be happy, even if it’s Taco Bell and movies.”

When Neek woke four hours later he carefully lifted his wife and began carrying her out to the ship. It was like a second home so she could rest there along with the boys while he got them into space. He had a specific destination in mind and in the time it took them to finish resting he could get them within an hour or two of it. Once he had her settled inside he went back in, grabbing clothes for each of them in case they decided to stay gone a long time. Getting everything he thought they would need and their boys on the ship took longer than he expected it but he still had a good amount of time to cut out of the traveling they would have to experience. The first one up was Baek again “huh, you really are starting to sleep more like me aren’t you?”

“I guess, I seem to need to sleep less and less”

“I wonder if Iseul will lose the need to sleep so long as well”

“Maybe, can I help drive dad?”

“do you want to shift to do it? Your mother can manage driving but it’s truly meant for bigger creatures. You’ll have an easier time if you look like yourself” Neek was asking to see if his mothers concerns were valid at all but just as Neek thought Baek shifted and came over without a worry in the world. He guessed what he thought was probably accurate, they just wanted to be the same size as their mother.

“Remember what I said about debris and make sure you tell me if you see something strange on the monitor.”

“I will.”

He patted his son’s head. “You’re a natural you know that? Maybe someday you’ll be able to pilot your own ship.”

“Really?”

“I don’t see why not.”

“I hope so, then I could see everything.”

“I’m going to go check on your mother and brother.”

“Alright dad, I got this, so don’t worry.”

Neek left Baek to pilot, knowing he could trust his oldest to act responsibly. He peeked in on Iseul first, happy to see he was still sleeping peacefully. Next he went to Johana, his entire being instantly warming at the sight of her. He crossed over to her and sat down on the edge of the moment, just wanting to admire her. It was overwhelming sometimes how beautiful she was and he found himself pressing a gentle kiss to her lips, being careful not to wake her. He pulled the covers back up over her since she had kicked them off then went back to Baek.

“where are we going dad?”

“a galaxy I think is particularly beautiful and there are a few things there you and your brother will love seeing. You just need to tell me if you see a dragon when we get there. I don’t see how I’d miss it but we need to be watchful once we get there, both of us”

“a dragon in space dad?”

“mhm”

“it’s dangerous then?”

“incredibly, this type of dragon is known to be very hostile but I know how to deal with them so don’t worry. I just need to know as quickly as possible”

“You always keep us safe out here. I’m not worried. How big is it?”

“you know how huge my ship is?”

“yeah”

“If its a girl it could easily fit ten of my ship in it and if it’s a boy…lets just hope it isnt. If you feel comfortable with the ship on auto I can fetch a book that has pictures of them”

“I can do it dad” Neek smiled proudly at his son before running to fetch one of his books. Johana understood the importance of him knowing where certain books were so even though she was frequently going through his shelves he easily found it, right where it was supposed to be. Neek brought the book to his son and flipped to the chapter on teh dragon he was talking about. “woah, its so pretty. How can it be so pretty and so mean”

“we don’t know, I’m sure something must have happened to them far back to make them that way though. As you see from these notes over here” Neek pointed to the notes as he continued “we think travelers just scare them because as long as you don’t try to hurt it and slowly move the ship away they don’t tend to harm anyone but thats why I’d need to know right away because I wouldn’t want us to accidentally run into it or give it any other cause to believe we want to hurt it”

“are there very many”

“No but that also feeds the theory something happened to them before my species was around because we’ve learned they always have two to four babies at a time. As high on the predatorial chain as they are it makes it odd we don’t see more with that kind of birth rate”

“That’s so sad dad”

“I wish more species were peaceful”

“yeah…I mean, we almost didn’t have momma because of wars right? Freg was the last of his kind before he came to earth”

“yeah” it actually made his heart sink a little to even think of a world without his wife and sons. No Johana would mean no Baek and Iseul as well.

“Do you think Uncle Freg will ever get married again?”

“I don’t know.”

“I hope he does. Mom says he’s too nice to be so sad.”

“I didn’t realize he was sad.”

Baek nodded. “He’s happy, but I think he feels lonely sometimes. Mom thinks so too.”

“Well, maybe someday he will, but he was very much in love.” Neek knew if it had been Johana, he would never be able to move on. She was so precious to him that losing her would be the death of him. He commended Freg for living even after his wife’s passing, it took true strength to keep going.

“could you study your own blood or the blood of the other immortal things on earth or something like that to see if you could make mortals immortal? What if I love a human…I wouldn’t want them to die either”

“Thats a good idea. Upon studying the wolves and demons I’ve found they have their own ways of making humans they fall in love with like them so why couldn’t we do it” Neek couldn’t wait to tell his leader about the idea his son had. It was an exciting idea and he was bursting with pride that it had come from his son. When Johana woke up she almost laughed when she saw she was already on the ship that adorable man she thought to herself as she got up. She checked the boys room and upon only seeing her three year old she guessed Baek was up with his father so she went to the front of their ship. “morning boys”

“Morning mom, can we have french toast?”

“sure, if we have stuff for that on here”

“we should” Neek answered so she left to start cooking.

Iseul woke while Johana was cooking so Neek went and got him and took him back to the bridge so he could see the stars. Johana brought their breakfast and drinks out, not minding she had to make a few trips. She loved how engrossed her children were in space, how much like Neek they truly were. Baek was already so curious about everything and Iseul tended to follow everything his older brother did. She couldn’t bring herself to tear them away from what they were doing. “You should have asked me for help love.” Neek said.

“I can manage, besides, you all looked so cute, I couldn’t make you put Iseul down.”

He smiled as he pressed a kiss to her lips. “You really are perfect.”

“Oh hush.” She said, her cheeks tinting pink. They all sat together and ate as the ship moved through space on auto. Johana loved that they could have days like this just surrounded by beautiful twinkling stars.

Neek decided to tell Johana first of their sons idea and she smiled brightly “that would really be amazing”

“Yeah, I imagine we can, it’s all in figuring out how. I mean, I never thought of it so I’m sure we only don’t have a way because nobody had the idea until our son”They talked about different personalities and how they would ever get someone to let them test whatever Neek came up with. Johana felt her siblings significant others might be willing so that they could live forever with their spouses. They had happy relationships, at least as far as she knew so that should be something they’d want. Their journey through space to get where Neek was taking them stayed peacful and soon his entire family was gasping. He had never even brought Johana here so she had a chance to be amazed yet again by space as well.

“Neek…wow” she said almost breathless. This place almost looked like a gorgeous, abstract painting “dad says there are dragons here though so we need to be watchful”

“Oh, really, those huge hostile ones?”

“yes”

“but we’ll really be okay as long as we don’t startle it right?”

“Yes, I’ll keep us safe, don’t worry”

“I know” Just like their sons, she had absolute faith in Neek. He was probably the safest being in the world to be out in space with since he and his people were so vastly intelligent when it came to everything out here. “can we stay here awhile?”

“I brought extra clothes on board just incase you guys would want to”

Neek took over control of the ship while Baek kept Iseul entertained and Johana sat the dishes in the sink. It had taken her awhile to get used to the fact that the ship did most things automatically. She came back and stood next to Neek, watching as they approached the planet. He slowed and pressed a button, enabling the cloaking device that hid him from most living beings. He kept glancing at the radar and altered their course when a dot appeared on it. “A dragon?” Johana asked.

“Yeah, I want to avoid it if I can. We’ll stay on the other side so we won’t risk running into it.”

“Have you ever tried talking to one of them?”

He shook his head. “They tend to be too hostile, I don’t think one would respond if I did.”

“It might be worth a shot one of these days when we don’t have the kids.”

“Maybe someday, but for now I’ll keep away from it. I don’t want to have to hurt it to escape and I definitely don’t want to put any of you at risk.”

With Neek keeping a watchful eye the rest of their journey through space proved peaceful. Neek was eager for some one on one time with his wife so the first thing they did when they got back to earth was ask Freg and the rest of the family in his home to watch over the boys for the day. They were happy to so Neek and Johana finally got their date. He made the day as sweet and romantic as possible. He wanted her to always know how happy she made him. He needed her to always know that there wasn’t anything he could discover that he would ever consider more precious or beautiful than the amazing woman he found on his very first assignment.

~ The End

Neek & Johana 2

Chapter One

Johana took pictures for Neek while he took notes and talked to people about the Shah-e-Cheragh. Since they really didn’t have anything tieing them down they spent very little time in their home. They planned to spend most their lives traveling around until they were ready for children and Johana had been the guide. Once they were done in one place she was finding somewhere else magnificent for him to study and tell his people about for their history books. They didn’t always take pictures but the Shah-e-Cheragh was so beautiful Neek had insisted his people needed pictures. It was the first thing he had seen on earth that he thought his people would actually make themselves.

“did you get a picture of that sweetheart?” Neek asked as he pointed. “Yep”

“good, I can’t wait to see the response once I turn this in”

“I’m sure they’ll love it” he tucked away his notebook, walking over to hug her “I think I have everything I need here. Lets go back to our ship so I can finish writing this up. I want to talk to you about something” she blushed, wondering if it was kids yet. She wasn’t sure what it was but she had had a small case of baby fever lately. She only hadn’t said anything because they had only been together two years and his people seemed to have a weird policy about kids. She didn’t know if it still applied with him living on earth but in any case she felt weird bringing it up so soon in the relationship.

They walked out and made the long journey to where their ship was. Once inside she needed to know what he wanted to talk about “whats up Neek?”

“by my peoples calculations a new planet is going to be born soon and I wondered if you’d like to see it with me. I’ve seen hundreds of planets start their life but it’s not something you’ve experienced so when I realized it would be happening soon I wanted to offer to take you.” she lit up which warmed his heart. It wasn’t what she hoped but still incredibly. “You are the coolest boyfriend Neek” she said as she tightly hugged him. She couldn’t believe she was actually going to get to see a planet form. “I will hurry and finish getting this ready to send home so we can start our journey” he said happily.

Johanna decided to read while he finished his work, but her mind kept drifting between what a world looked like when it was being born, if it was a bunch of swirling bits or if it was simply just suddenly there, and having children of her own. She glanced at Neek, wondering if she should bring it up or just wait for him to ask her. She didn’t want to sound pushy or make him upset. She looked back at her book and felt embarrassed when she realized she had been reading the same paragraph for the last ten minutes. “Alright, I’m finished, just let me send this off.” Neek suddenly said as he got up.

“O…okay, um…”

“Is everything alright?”

“Yes, just wondering if I could pilot once we’re on course.”

“You can help with takeoff if you like. I’d have to help you, you can sit in my lap.”

“Sounds good.” He turned away to send the information and she inwardly groaned at how she couldn’t even utter the word baby. Neek wasn’t even scary, in fact he was the sweetest, most sincere person she knew.

He sent off his work then shifted back to what he really looked like. He was growing to accept the way he really looked and he knew Johana loved him even in his true form. She smiled at him as he lifted her into his arms then settled himself in the pilot seat. He talked through what he was doing and held her hands on certain controls so she could learn the motions to use to get his ship in the air. He was glad she had asked, any excuse for her to be this close he jumped on. She was still absolutely intoxicating to Neek and he felt like the luckiest man in all the galaxies to have her.

She drove easily until Neek could put it in auto pilot and they were able to slip out of their seat. “what should we do with our time? This wont be a quick trip my love” They should talk, she knew they should talk but she still couldn’t. “There’s still one more game I brought on the ship you havent learned to play yet” he smiled “then I’d love to learn” he morphed back into a human. It was simply too hard to play human board and card games with how large he truly was. Neek needed his human hands and arms so he wouldn’t knock everything over.

Neek never had more fun than when he was with Johana. His life had been about exploration, different worlds and species had been his main focus, but now he had Johana and he got to share every moment with her. He couldn’t imagine being out here without her, it saddened him and gave him an empty feeling, something else he had never experienced until her. As usual he learned the game fast and after a few rounds he began to beat Johana. She smiled, making his heart skip a beat. He had learned that some people on Earth reacted badly to losing, but Johana never did. She could be competitive, but she never became angry.

“I’m going to have to buy more games.” Johana said when Neek won again.

“Do as you wish, I would love to learn more.”

“You’re so sweet.”

“You’re sweeter.” She blushed and he gave a pleased smile.

“Oh stop.”

“I can’t help it.”

She laughed and as always with this rampant baby fever she was having, Johana couldn’t help but think how much fun it would be to play these games with their kids. “what’re you thinking about my love?” Neek asked, as observant as ever. She decided to be honest “In that moment I was just thinking what a sweet father you’d be” He looked surprised and then a bigger smile spread on his face. “Was that just a one time thought or have you been thinking about it”

“Does it matter? You said you guys don’t just have kids. You only have them when someone dies”

“I’ll do whatever makes you happy. What’s my leader going to do? Tell me I can’t come home? My family could come see me still and it wouldn’t change our life a bit if he was like that about it though I doubt he’d be that ridiculous anyway. If you’d like a child we will have one and he can feel however he’ll feel about it”

“You mean that? We’ve only been together two years”

“and we’re going to be together forever. I love you, there’s no other for me. Having a kid together is a lifetime commitment yes but my heart already belongs to you forever. If the thought of you leaving my side even skids across my mind for a mere moment it breaks my heart.” He got up so he could move closer to her and pulled Johana into his arms “It would actually make me incredibly happy to hear you say you wanted a child with me” his voice was softer and she blushed again at both the closeness and how amazingly sweet he was being. “I really want kids but I think it’s important to atleast talk to your leader first.”

“Okay but I want you to know we’re having kids no matter what his answer is” He stood up and put her down just before reaching into his mouth. She was confused and about to ask what he was doing but just that quick his mouth was bleeding and he had pulled something out of it “Neek?!” now she was more alarmed than confused. He chuckled “Baby, I’m fine, Have you not wondered how we only have planned children? Ours is far better being an accident has never happened since we created them but I just pulled out your equivalent to birth control.”

“I’ve kissed you hundreds of times and I’ve never felt anything in your mouth”

“Thats why I’m bleeding, I’ll request the proper materials to show you where i just pulled that from.I just want that healing so I didn’t feel like waiting to remove it”

“You could have done that in a better way couldn’t you?”

“Yes but we’re going to be having kids and beyond being impatient to get healing over with I want you to see how serious I am. What my leader says means nothing and I don’t need anybody else to take that out. It wont take very long to heal, I promise”

“You didn’t have to hurt yourself. I feel bad now” He pulled her back into his arms “Don’t feel bad, I’m incredibly happy right now. We’ll go to my planet right after you see the birth of this planet”

“Still, should we get some ice or something?”

“You’re an incredible woman, Johana, thank you for loving me.”

She blushed, her heart dancing. “W…well of course, I’ll always love you.” She touched the side of his face where he had pulled the birth control out. “You’re sure it’s okay?”

“Yes.”

“Let’s at least wipe the blood off.”

He picked her up and carried her to the bathroom where she got a rag and wet it then wiped away the little bit of blood he had on his lips. “Better?” He asked.

“Me?”

“Yeah, are you happy now? I didn’t upset you?”

“I think I was more startled.” She said with a warm smile. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone rip something out of their mouth or rip anything off of anywhere.”

“I won’t have to do it again, so don’t worry.”

“well…while I would have never asked you to do that it’s incredibly sweet you just ripped that out and are so committed to having a baby with me…just know though. If your ruler does get really mad and threatens you for going against how things are done I wont blame you for changing your mind. I want children but I want you to be happy more than I want children. I never want you to look back and regret giving up whatever he might ask you to to do this” He gently rubbed her cheek with his knuckles “It didn’t cross your mind that you might have stirred a desire to have kids in me too? You make me feel all sorts of things my people don’t often feel. Nobody has ever cared, to my knowledge anyway about how we handle having children but I love you and I want to have a family with you. I was looking and waiting for you to say something to indicate you wanted it”

She kissed his cheek and he smiled, taking her face in his hands “you can still kiss me you silly, incredible woman” he pulled her into a gentle kiss then took her into his arms to carry Johana back to the controls of his ship. He let her drive again, simply directing her on where to go. He wanted just to be with her but there were only so many spots in the galaxy auto was safe and with her on board no risk was worth it. He took over when he needed to start slowing the ship and when it came to a stop he said “We need to stay in this room to make sure we don’t miss it. I wish these could be timed more precisely but you can’t rush a creation and they are wildly unpredictable”

“This is so exciting”

“I will take you to these until they’re as common place to you as they are me” she hugged him, unable to help herself and he happily sighed.

Chapter Two

“I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of this place.” Johana said as she stood with her hand pressed against the window.

“Of the ship?”

“Of space and yes the ship too.” She said, giving a small chuckle. “To be able to see this…there are so many astronomers who would give anything for this.”

Neek wrapped his arms around her from behind and she leaned into him. “I’m happy that I get to share it with you, it makes every moment I spend researching more fun than it has ever been.”

“You’re so sweet.” She turned her head and pressed a kiss to his cheek, making his heart skip a beat. “It’s a little chilly, would you shift for me?”

“Of course.” She gave a little sigh when she felt the warmth of his other form envelope her and found herself wanting to snuggle as close as she could get. “Better?”

“Yes, thank you.”

Neek was slowly coming to accept his body thanks to Johana. There were many things she had shown him were useful or were simply things she enjoyed when he shed the human form and went back to what he really was. She had rapidly made him feel completely comfortable in either form and he now wished the rest of his people weren’t so ashamed. The thought just now hit him that he needed to write his people and let them know he was bringing her. When a visitor was coming the entire planet preferred to have warning so they could shift into whatever creature wanted to visit since they were a particularly bad looking species and had so many bad reactions before. He decided to do it tonight after she was resting. Neek wasn’t going to miss seeing Johana’s face when she witnessed the beauty of a planet coming to life.

“Since we have to wait anyways Neek is there anything as far as manners I need to know when it comes to visiting your planet? I don’t want to offend anybody, especially your family or friends”

“It’s the same as on your planet really but one courtesy they really like is advance notice when someone not of their species is coming so they can change forms. I know you would love them all for who they are but don’t ask them to shift back into their true forms. It would be like you going up to a stranger on earth and asking to see them naked.”

“when were you planning on telling them I’m coming?”

“Tonight when you’re resting. I swear you really did inherit your Fregs mind reading abilities and just don’t realize it. I was just thinking about having to write them”

“well, could you add in your warning it’s really okay. What kind of assholes visited your planet before that made everyone so scared”

“My beautiful little warrior of self love it’s okay, I wish they would feel as comfortable with themselves as you’ve made me feel with myself but I can’t just tell them hey feel better and have them feel better about themselves. I will add that you have seen me and are comfortable with our race and hopefully at least some will just be them for your visit. I planned on writing my family personally instead of just letting them hear the announcement so I will make extra sure to explain incredibly well just how comfortable you are with my species”

“You could show them by just being you while we’re there.”

“That’s a wonderful idea Johana.”

She snuggled back up him and watched out the window. The ship warned them that there was an increase in debris and Neek let her go long enough to press a button. “What does that do?”

“It creates a buffer between us and the debris. Small pieces are fine, but bigger pieces could damage the hull.”

“I don’t see anything.”

“It’s not like in the movies you watch. You wouldn’t notice it unless you ran into it.” He wrapped his arms back around her.

“And why the increase in debris?”

“That means it’s getting ready.”

Excitement had her pulse rising and soon even she could tell something amazing was happening. It was beautiful, more beautiful than she could have ever imagined the birth of a planet could be. Johana was absolutely captivated and even gasped a little when it all fully came together “That was so cool Neek”

“It’s amazing”

“do you know if there will be any life there?”

“Only time will tell. If you’d like I can bring you back to check on its progress from time to time”

“Thank you” it wasn’t just a thank you for this but a thank you for everything. These past two years had been the greatest of her life and it was all because of him. He had shown and explained so much to her, had given her experiences Johana didn’t even realize she desperately wanted to experience. “lets get a good rest in before I take you to my planet beautiful” Johana glanced back at the window one last time before they left the room then followed Neek to bed.

“I can’t believe I’m finally going to see your world. I’m so excited, I don’t think I could possibly sleep.”

“Of course you can.” He pulled Johana close to him and he smiled when she settled into him. She rubbed her cheek against his chest and sighed. “See? You’re already halfway there.”

“It’s your fault, you’re so warm and comfy, it’s not fair.”

“Sleep beautiful.” She closed her eyes and he allowed his fingers to sweep through her hair, lulling her into sleep. He gave the top of her head a kiss then slowly slipped out of bed, pulling the blankets up to her chin. He needed to write to his family and leader before he got too comfortable to get up. He wrote his family first, explaining everything and letting them know they had no worries when it came to her accepting them. He sent it off then started one for his leader so he would have time to let everyone know. Once it was sent off, he went back to bed, sliding in next to Johana and having to stop himself from chuckling when she instantly moved closer.

Neek realized he had been the one saying they needed to rest, however he couldn’t help but stay awake awhile and enjoy the closeness with Johana. Neek knew his family was going to be excited to meet her and if his leader didn’t boot him off the planet there wasn’t any way his family was letting them off the planet any time soon. He only had the trip there to be alone with her if things went well and he hoped they did. He wasn’t going to be told he couldn’t give Johana children but he didn’t want to have to leave his planet and never look back if worst case scenario came up. When he did finally fall asleep his mind was on happy thoughts of little moments he imagined he might have with Johana if they had little ones running around his ship and their home on earth.

Johana enjoyed the trip to his home world, her eyes riveted to each new moon or planet they passed from the moment she woke. She knew that she would never be able to see all of it even if she tried. “We’re close.” Neek said as he took his place at the head of the ship and took it off autopilot.

“I’m kind of nervous.” Johana replied as she moved to stand next to him.

“Don’t be my love, no one here will hurt you.”

“Hurt isn’t what I’m worried about.”

He pulled her onto his lap and kissed her cheek. “You are so perfect, Johana, and if anyone makes you feel less than perfect I won’t hesitate to knock them out.”

“What if they kick you off the planet because of me?”

“It will hurt, but as long as I have you, I’ll be happy.”

“I can’t help but worry about it, no matter how much you tell me it’ll be fine”

“He’s never been an unreasonable man. I just don’t know how he’s going to react. There is no record of anybody desiring to have children. For generations my people have only tried when one died and as soon as a pregnancy was announced nobody peeped a word about children until another death occurred. For all I know he could take it perfectly well and just tell everyone to do what they want. If I knew of any instance our leader was fought on something I’d have a better idea but we’ve been set in our ways since his father before him”

“really? Nobody has ever been unhappy about any rule?”

“Truly we don’t have many. We are all born with a deep, almost all consuming need for knowledge. We live our lives to learn and when you only care about learning there isn’t much to get worked up over”

Johana rested her head against his chest as the ship entered his home world’s atmosphere. He guided it down, slowing as they broke through clouds and she sat up, wanting to see everything. He slowed even more, letting her enjoy the view from above and smiling at the look of awe on her face. “Wow, it’s beautiful.”

“You really like it?”

“Of course I do, look at those buildings.”

“I told you, my people are a bit extravagant.”

“I can’t wait to see everything. I’m going to have to take pictures for my dad, he’s going to love this.”

As they drew near the ground Johana smiled, happy to see so many people there and so many looking as they really did. She was glad they felt comfortable being themselves in front of her. “That’s my family you know” Neek informed her and she looked at him “everyone here?”

“Yep, I guess they wanted to greet you. This is always where I land when I come home which is how they knew where to be” Neek took her hand once they were on the ground and proudly walked out with her. “Hello!” a woman said excitedly “Hi, I’m Johana”

“Oh I know, my son has told me so much about you. You are such a beautiful human, inside and out. You know you have made Neek the first one of our kind to ever be with someone outside of our species”

“he told me but thats really stupid. Neek has a really big heart as I’m sure a lot of you do.”

“well now that you’ve seen me as a human I’ll be myself. I just wanted you to recognize me if I can ever drag his father to earth” she shifted and Johana felt happy that had been the only reason she wasn’t herself when she got off the aircraft. Johana spent a good hour meeting everyone that came out to greet them but she happily stood there talking. She was eager to see Neeks home but it felt incredible they were all so interested in her and seemingly happy about hers and Neeks relationship. “Neek, are you taking her with you to talk to our leader? If not she can hangout with us”

“would you like to spend time with my family while I talk to him? He might feel better talking about the subject just between us. He might feel put on the spot anyway if you’re standing with me.”

“Your family seems wonderful so if you think it might go better if you talk to him by yourself I’d love to hangout with them” he kissed her head “then I will go ahead and go. Please show her around a bit, I know she wants to see everything” he asked his parents and they nodded. Johana followed his family away while Neek went off in a different direction. When Neek arrived at their leaders home he was seen right away “welcome back Neek, you have been amazing at collecting information for us. I will admit I was a bit worried about Johana hindering your research but you’ve turned out to be one of our best studiers”

“she helps me and gives me ideas on what to study next”

“why is she not with you? I wanted to meet her”

“I wanted to talk to you about something that might upset you so I had her go off with my family

“what is it Neek?”

“I took out my birth control because we want a baby. I know nobody has died and this isn’t the way we do things but sir it’s not like I even live here and even if I did it’s not as if our world is jam packed with beings. There is plenty of room for babies. I hope you understand and if you don’t understand don’t feel like me breaking rules and taking out my birth control is her fault. She didn’t ask me to do it and on top of that I just wanted to do what I wanted to do. She insisted I come home and talk to you before we started trying” His leader paused a few moments before saying “You are right Neek, you know it wasn’t I who made that rule anyway. That has been in place for many generations. You have my blessing and I intend to change that rule”

“Just like that?”

“we are too logical sometimes Neek. I’m going to step down soon so maybe this is a good way to end my leadership before I pass things on to my son which is another thing that is long over due” Neek smiled “I am happy you are accepting of this”

“I could tell you were ready to fight me over it”

“I love her and will give her anything that makes her happy. She wants children, even if I didn’t want children rules be damned she’d have them. I know how lucky I am to have her and I wont lose her”

“Now that thats over with may I meet her?”

“sure”

“Bring her here for dinner, your family is invited aswell” Neek walked out to be respectful but the second he was out the doors he ran all the way home, excited to tell Johana the good news.

The moment he saw her, he couldn’t keep himself from scooping her up and her happy laughter made him feel even lighter. “That was fast.” Johana said as he hugged her to him.

“He gave us his blessing.”

“Really?” Her eyes shone with her joy.

“Yes, we can get started whenever you wish.” She blushed and he pressed a kiss to her lips, too happy to worry about embarrassment.

“Blessing for what?” His mother asked.

“To have children. He’s even having the law abolished so anyone can have children when they wish.” He lowered Johana to her feet. “I hope that pleases you.”

“Of course it does dear.”

“If you all don’t mind I want to take Johana to meet my best friend and then tonight we are having dinner with Jean. He wants to meet her and he says you are welcome as well”

“we will see you two at dinner then”

“I plan for us to stay awhile so you can get to know her so don’t worry” his mom laughed “I know, I also know you’re eager to show her off to everyone. Go on, I’ll see you later” Neek lifted Johana into his arms again and took her to Oluwa’s home. He also greeted her looking like himself “Neek! Johana! Come in” He seemed eager and excited but he hadn’t seen his best friend in two years so him seeming to burst from them seams with joy was understandable. About an hour into catching up Oluwa said “well damn Neek, who knew you grow up to change so much and have so many firsts and on top of thatg actually change something around here. Nothing changes or at least hasn’t in a long time” he chuckled again “you better bring your children back to meet me”

“I will”

“any more firsts you plan on adding to the list or do you have your sights on any other rules you want to change?” he asked teasingly and Neek answered “Not really but give it time” Johana laughed with them and the three continued talking until they needed to leave for dinner with Jean. “I imagine tomorrow I’ll take her around to get pictures of my home for her father. Do you want to join us Oluwa?”

“I’d be delighted, she’s fun, I see why she caught your eye” Neek smiled proudly then left with Johana in his arms. She kissed his cheek and said “you’re adorable”

“and you’re amazing Johana, perfect and absolutely amazing”

“Do you think your parents will really come to earth eventually?”

“Oh yes, especially since Freg has found such a good area where we dont have to worry so much about humans”

“Maybe after you’ve completed your study of the earth we can try to open my species mind to the fact there really is more out there. If we wait until you’re done learning about the earth then we can just get in your ship and fly away before anybody has time to hurt you if that goes really badly”

“I’m good with that. I can simply bring you back here until I’m assigned a new place to study” The two stayed until everyone Neek was close to had gotten some time with Johana and Johana had gotten plenty of pictures for her father. They had been trying every night on Krawnum but four months later and she still wasn’t with child. Neek knew it could take time but he was impatient, probably for the first time in his life. Now that they were returning to earth and would be alone all they wanted again he planned to start trying a lot harder to impregnate her.

~ The End

Neek & Johana

Chapter One

Neek excitedly wrote his best friend back home a letter to let him know he was only an hour away from earth and expected an easy landing. This would be the first time he landed a ship in another planets gravity but he was confident he could do it, he had trained for this after all when he decided to study other planets in the galaxy. He finished his letter then walked it over to a little box and closed it. It was a special box installed on all ships of their species that studied other planets. It was how the information was sent home. Over the course of his study he would send more than letters using that. He’d send samples of the soil, of any fur or scales or truly anything he found interesting and wanted to share.

That box is also how they’d send supplies if and when he needed them so it was important he check it no less than once when he woke up and once when he went to sleep for the night to make sure it didn’t get too full. Neek walked away from the box and made sure his ship would be ready to land. Now he had nothing to do with himself until it was time to land and he almost ached it was so hard to wait. Finally, his first job, he was going to meet other life forms and be able to enlighten his species about them. There was tremendous pride in this job since there was nothing his people valued more than knowledge.

When he was but fifteen minuets from being close enough to have to sit at the controls and guide his ship to land it he transformed into what his species knew the dominant life forms looked like. It was an easy shift for his species. They were known for this amazing ability but that wasn’t the only thing that made his species so great. They didn’t have to learn other languages. When they spoke whatever/whomever they were talking to understood and vise versa. Nobody had to speak their language and they didn’t have to speak anybody elses and so far he hadn’t met another species able to do this.

His species were truly grateful and humbled by these gifts because they made it easy to study other planets without upsetting the population. Most planets they had studied never knew anybody from their planet was there and they tried to keep it that way. They wanted everyone to act as they normally would for a proper study and nothing acts as it normally would if it knows it’s being studied.

Neek gave himself a once over in the mirror to make sure he hadn’t made any mistakes. When he was sure he looked like a human male he sat proudly in the drivers seat and readied himself. Expertly he guided his ship, making sure to cloak and do a quick scan of the ground so no other intelligent life forms who would be upset by him suddenly appearing were present. He followed every step by the book so it came as a near heart stopping surprise for him when he walked out of his ship and saw an incredibly bewildered woman standing there.

“wh….what…what is that ship? It looks…are you an alien or something?” he started to stammer, bewildered himself “You….you can see my ship?”

“should I not be able to?”

“No, it’s cloaked” how hadn’t his sensors seen her. He wondered if she was truly human and boldy asked “are you not a human?”

“wha…what? Of course I am. How is it you drop form the sky in this crazy, admittedly cool looking ship and ask ME if I’m human”

“I’m asking because my scan should have detected you and you should not be able to see my ship”

“well as far as I know I’m human” he felt like he was already blowing his mission but he was intrigued and needed to learn more about this woman. If she was truly a human then they might know less than they think about the human race on earth. “May I scan you miss?”

“scan me?”

“yes, I don’t mean to offend you but the scan will tell me what species you are. The system can’t be fooled”

“do I have to go on your ship?”

“yes”

“then no, I’m not getting abducted”

“abducted?”

“sorry, I guess that’s racist.” he chuckled “I like you, please, I have no plans of abducting you, I’m not even sure what that is. I guess theres no point in trying to fool you so I’ll be honest I am what you’d call an alien. I’m from another planet. I’m here because we value knowledge quite highly and enjoy learning of other worlds. It’s a job where I’m from to travel and live places until it’s properly studied. This is my first mission and I’m the first of my kind to come here. ”

“so you really aren’t planning any funny stuff if I come on board?”

“Just a scan and you may leave at any point” he looked so honest and while she knew she might be putting herself at risk she decided to board his ship. Once inside her mouth dropped open in aw “wow, this is so gorgeous”

“really?”

“yes really, its not stunning to you?”

“My species is rather extravagant in all things. I guess yours isn’t?”

“No, this…oh my god”

“Interesting, I’ll have to write home about your reaction” he enjoyed watching her walk around and was glad she was so comfortable, especially since she not long ago accused him of trying to abduct her. Thinking about it made him ask “what would I have done if I had wanted to abduct you? Is that really bad?” she blushed, feeling even worse about it now “force me to go home with you”

“Oh, never, I mean, I could take you to my home if you wished it but I wouldn’t force you there. I’m not even sure if humans could survive there”

“I really am sorry”

“No need, could I scan you now? I am deathly curious”

“alright, thanks for letting me look around”

“Your curiousness is adorable to be honest. I enjoyed watching you” she blushed again and he asked “why does your face turn red?” it made it worse and he chuckled “human women are adorable, you must tell me how I’m making you do that”

“people don’t blush where you’re from”

“No, so it’s called blushing.”

“:yeah…your…well your embarrassing me”

“Oh no, I’m sorry, I dont know much but I know embarrassing people is rude. Please forgive me, manners are very important where I’m from, my parents and our leader would be furious”

“No no, i think you’re thinking of the mean spirited way, you didn’t do anything wrong by embarrassing me”

“good, you scared me human. May I know your name by the way? I hate to keep calling you human”

“Johana”

“My people call me Neek, now how about that scan” he guided her to a room a little further back in the ship and picked up a handheld device which he typed some things into then allowed it to scan her. He looked as if the wind was knocked out of him and she asked nervously “so…whats wrong with me…why could I see your ship and why couldn’t your scan of the ground see me…I’ve…I’ve always felt weird even though my siblings don;t….” he seemed to be reading now, completely lost in whatever his tablet was telling him “Neek please” she urged, feeling a little scared “Johana…you are more than I could have ever hoped to find here…you are extinct….our people have thought your kind long since vanished from the galaxy…I can see you have mostly humans in your lineage but a few hundred years back in your line was Freg…Freg was the last of his kind after a war between three planets. He went on a trip one day and was never heard from again…he…he must have come to earth and found love…His kind was amazing and my species mourned their loss, a truly interesting and incredibly skilled species. Even as many generations as it’s been you truly can’t do anything your human counterparts can’t do? You should have some sort of ability even if its”

she interrupted him “moving objects with my mind?”

“yes, so you can then?”

“yeah…I just didn’t tell anybody”

“This is fascinating, there are so many things I want to ask you, so many things to do. My leader will be amazed.”

“What things?”

“Sorry, I go ahead of myself, may I test your abilities? I would truly love to see you move things with your mind. I am sure you have many more than just that as well.”

“Sure, here or somewhere else?”

“Here is fine, just give me a moment.” He walked over and picked up a glass vial then set it down on the floor. “There, could you move that?”

“I don’t want to break it if I drop it.”

“It’s quite durable. Most of the things on this ship would only break under massive amounts of force so please don’t hold back.”

She could barely believe this was happening. It actually crossed her mind this might be some elaborate prank and someone was going to rush out with a camera at any moment and laugh at her but she wanted this to be real so badly, she wanted Neek to be real so she’d have someone who could understand her. Possibly being the butt of a joke was worth the chance of being able to be herself around someone. She willed it to move and effortlessly she had it in the air and moving back and forth in the room. He gasped, looking absolutely thrilled “Johana…you, you are the best thing I could have found on this planet. My species truly admired yours. Its an honor to meet you. May I give you some books on your kind so you may know more about where you come from?”

“There’s books about me?”

“Oh yes, the history of your world is quite something. Even it’s fall was something worth recording to make sure nobody ever forgot you lived. We hate whats become of your planet and though I know you’ve never known it to care I want to apologize to you. There was nothing we could do. Freg was gone and the rest of his kind was dead so another species moved in”

“well it wasn’t you guys so you don’t need to apologize”

“The books though, I want you to know about where you came from”

“sure” He looked so over joyed again as he ran out of the room. When he came back he wasn’t carrying anything which confused her until he said “They’ll be sent any moment. Sorry, I just got so excited”

“sent” he nodded “follow me” Neek showed her what he used to send things back home and receive things from them “thats cool”

“yes, it’s one of the most useful things my kind has ever created” When the books arrived he said “Let me carry them to your home for you. They are heavier than they look”

Chapter Two

“Are you saying I’m not strong?”

“Oh, I would never, I apologize.”

“I’m kidding, joking.”

“Oh, I really don’t want to offend you in any way. Please tell me if I do. I’m just so amazed that I might run at the mouth.”

“I don’t mind.”

He smiled. “You really are something, Johana.” He lifted the books. “Please lead me.”

He followed Johana out of his ship, sticking close to her even as he studied his surroundings. He would have to retrieve samples after getting to further know her. They seemed to pale in comparison to his discovery of her and he didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to ask her more questions. He wondered if she had even heard of Freg, if her family had ever had a detailed list of their ancestors. He wondered if Freg had died after coming to Earth or if perhaps he still lived out there somewhere. His kind had a very long lifespan if they got the chance to live it.

“How clever” he said as she pulled open her door that had appeared to him to just be ground “thanks, my home is underground”

“is that common for humans?”

“No, its one of the many ways I’m seen as weird but I love it. It’s just like a normal home on the inside”

“I think it’s amazing” she smiled and showed him inside. “you can set the books on my table” she gestured at it and he set them down “Is there a reason you choose to live differently from the other humans?”

“I’ve never felt like I belong anywhere. It’s just more comfortable to be out here by myself. I have friends but I just like being able to separate myself from everyone. I want to say what you’ve told me explains everything but my siblings don’t seem to feel the same way I do”

“Maybe you are just more alien than your siblings. Maybe they got nothing and you got quiet a bit. Any human should not have been able to see my ship and any human should have been picked up by the scan I did.”

“why wouldn’t it be the same?”

“kids don’t tend to inherit all the same traits from their parents and traits as far back in the family as Freg could be long gone by the time it reached your generation. His DNA has been watered down considerably though it is still there. “what else could I be able to do?”

“you should get reading. It will explain everything to you, I promise”

“Okay”

“I’m going to get my ship out of the way so an animal doesn’t hurt itself on it. Am I welcome to come back in when I’m done?”

“yes, I have a guest room. I’ll make sure it’s ready for someone to stay in”

“You are incredibly generous Johana. Thank you, I’ll be right back” Neek walked out and though Johana wanted to sit right down and read she made sure the guest room was ready. She didn’t often have anybody over that stayed for longer than a few hours so she didn’t often worry about it. It looked nice aside from being a bit dusty so she wet a rag and took care of that. She was surprised he still wasn’t back and considered going to check on him but she guessed he had traveled across the galaxy to get here so he could probably take care of himself.

She grabbed the oldest looking of the books, letting her fingers trace the spine and the beautiful designs engraved in the leather of the cover. It was an incredible shade of pastel red and had an emblem she didn’t recognize. “That’s your family crest.” Neek’s voice startled her and she felt a little embarrassed she had not heard him enter. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“It’s okay, I was so engrossed in just looking at the cover I didn’t hear you.”

He smiled as he took a seat next to her. “That’s the beginning of your family history on Freg’s side. It even has lists of people who served in the military, those who were criminals, heroes, when they were born and when they died.”

She gently opened the book and went to the first page, letting her eyes read the beginning of her ancestors. Her eyes widened when she made it to the first name and the date of birth and death beneath it. “This says Amrel died when he was almost two hundred, that has to be an exaggeration.”

“Far from it, they have very long lives.”

“why didn’t we inherit a longer lifespan?”

“I’m not sure. On my way over here I was wondering if maybe he was still alive, hiding somewhere here. If I could find and talk to him a lot of things would be cleared up. For all I know he’s just hiding it. Like, do people in your line tend to vanish once they start getting older?’

“Um, I remember my grandfather traveling a lot before he died. I mean, now that I think about it we never went to his funeral. My father told me it was because there was some mix up in Peru where he was at the time and he was cremated. ”

“Interesting, there really isn’t any reason you and your ancestors shouldn’t have inherited the long lifespan. I don’t think it’s been long enough in the line but this is new to me in general. We don’t know much about humans so maybe it’s all a coincidence with your grandfather and there was actually a mix up. Now that I know he could be here I can make my ship look for him. We have amazing scanners but they have to be set up properly”

“why would they just leave us instead of telling us the truth?”

“I’d hate to guess and make you think something that wasn’t true. Hopefully I can find him here”

“when are you going to start looking?”

“after you’ve read those books. Meeting him will go a lot better if you understand him and where he came from”

“May I ask you another question?”

“anything”

“even though he found love here why wouldn’t he take her home with him? Why would he stay here?”

“As I said a war wiped out all of his kind except for him. Maybe he was scared to take her. Those werent’ the only two planets waring with eachother and this part of the galaxy is far more peaceful. He probably wanted to keep his love safe and going back to his planet would have been lonely anyway since he was the only one left”

“That’s so sad. I can’t imagine losing everyone I’ve ever known, he must be incredibly strong to have continued living.”

“He was and intelligent and he had a big heart.”

“You admire him.”

“I do.”

“If it turns out he is still alive, I would love to search for my grandfather and ask him why he left. He was a good man, he must have had a good reason.”

“If you like, I can offer you assistance.”

“You must be busy. I mean I can’t be the only person you’re interested in.” He cocked his head to the side in question and she blushed. “Not interested in like you know as a person, I mean from a scientific perspective.”

“I made you blush again, how cute.”

He chuckled then continued “I have forever to study this world. My species doesn’t die of old age. We are of course vulnerable to sickness, being stabbed, things of that nature but as long as I keep myself safe here I have eternity to learn all there is to know about this place for my people. You are more than I could have ever hoped to find here Johana. Now that I’ve met you all I care about is learning about you and what became of Freg, I will still study earth and send notes back to my people but you and your family are my main concern. I need to ask you a favor though”

“hm?”

“Do not tell anybody what I am or why I’m here. I want the humans to act normal around me. You can’t properly study things that know they are being studied”

“Thats no problem, I pretty much figured this was not something to talk about with other people. Honestly, nobody would believe me anyway”

“why?”

“Because a lot of people claim to have met aliens and they are considered crazy”

“Interesting, I mean, people could be visiting from other galaxies”

“So how crowded is your planet? I have to ask since my own is pretty crowded and our life expectancy is about one hundred years”

“children aren’t all planned here then” he pulled out a small notebook, writing for a few moments before saying “We only make children if some of us die. Things really would spin out of control otherwise I guess. We’re very peaceful so war doesnt wipe us out, only studiers of worlds, like myself get sick and while we crave knowledge it isn’t a popular job because of all the risks it entails. We don’t tend to die” She wanted to ask how they ensure children only happen if planned but she knew that would probably take an awkward turn.

“thanks for being so open and honest with me” she decided to go with. “you’re welcome, thank you for opening your home. It’ll be nice to have a friend here.”

So, do you have any siblings? Brothers? Sisters?”

“No, it’s just me and it probably will be for awhile.”

“I think if I ever have children, I’d want a couple, maybe more and there’s no way I’d wait hundreds of years. Being so far apart, they wouldn’t ever get to know each other. I don’t think even an alien leader could tell me otherwise.”

He chuckled. “How stubborn, it’s amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever known someone like you. I wonder if Freg was this way, if he carved his own path? I’ve read many stories about him, about his heroism, his intelligence, about his military history, but I wonder if some of who he was as a person rubbed off on you.”

“I hope so. It’s nice knowing I’m not the only freak in the family.”

“Freak?”

“You know, someone that others find strange or weird and tend to avoid or look at like they’re crazy. I don’t have many friends because of how I am.”

Neek reached over and rested his hand on hers. “You are perfect the way you are.”

He chuckled happily when he caused her to turn red again. He wondered if all humans were this adorable. Even if she wasn’t related to Freg he would still want to be around her. It wasn’t long before she was in her bedroom reading and he was in the guest room. He originally intended to go to sleep but he couldn’t and wound up back outside of her home. If he couldn’t sleep and his human companion was down for the night he may aswell take some samples of where he was and send it home. He was surprised how much he was thinking about her as he put small samples in vials and labeled them. Normally his work would consume him but her red face and beautiful voice resonated in his thoughts.

Chapter Three

Johana was surprised at how quiet her home was when she came out to get a drink of water. She didn’t know why she expected him to be up studying everything. She decided to check on him and was even more surprised to find him gone. She checked the time and became worried that he might be out alone at night. The area where she lived had plenty of wildlife and if he wasn’t careful he could very easily walk up on a bear or be stalked by a mountain lion. She grabbed her jacket and went outside, whistling for her crow. The large black bird came swooping out of the night and she held out his arm so he perched there. “Hello boy, I need you to help me with something. You saw the man who came here with me, can you find him?” He cawed and flew off and she followed him, wanting to make sure Neek was okay.

She found him by a pond where he was gathering water samples and humming to himself. Her crow cawed as it dropped down to perch on her shoulder and he turned, giving her a happy smile. “What are you doing up?” He asked.

“You were gone, I didn’t want you getting attacked by something.”

His smile widened. “How sweet of you, but there’s no reason to worry, I have ways of protecting myself if the need arises.”

“Oh, I just thought you might not know about them.”

“I did my research. There are a lot of animals here that are similar to those on other planets.” He closed the vial of water and wrote something on it. “I’ll come back now, I just wanted a few samples.” His eyes moved to the bird on her shoulder. “What a beautiful animal. May I touch him?”

As he asked the crow came right to him which surprised Johana “wow, I’m normally the only one he likes. I didn’t even have to try to coax him over”

“My kind is good with animals. He also can understand me when I talk. I’m actually speaking my own language and when you talk i hear you as if you’re speaking mine. It works like that for my people no matter who or what we’re talking to. I understand the crow and the crow understands me”

“wow”

“I will still misunderstand some things though. If we do not have something, like how I turn you red theres nothing for my mind to compare it to so it wont get translated if that makes sense”

“it does”

“what’re you to Johana?” he asked the crow and it began to speak to him “he is incredibly fond of you Joahana. You are like family to him”

“I’m glad, I care about him a lot. So all animals talk?

“if a species makes vocal noise they talk, it’s just a matter of if you can understand them.”

“I’m envious of your gift Neek”

“You shouldn’t be, you have your own and they make you beautifully unique.” Her blush had him chuckling. “Now that I know what your red cheeks mean, I want to do it all the time.”

“How mean.” She replied in her embarrassment.

“It’s interesting how contradictory you are. Are all humans this way? You say it’s mean, but really you are just shy.”

“Sometimes and then other times it means you’re actually being cruel.”

“Am I being cruel?”

“Not at all, it’s just the way you say things, you really mean it, you’re so honest.”

“But you like it.”

“I do.”

“Good, let’s get you home then, I promise to stay inside until you wake so you won’t worry.”

“Okay” they began walking and she continued talking “I’ve already read pretty far into the first book. I think I’ll make myself get some sleep now but I can’t wait to read more”

“do you have any more questions so far?”

“I think I’ll finish it before I ask. Some of the things that confused me I read a little further and understood so I don’t want to ask you stupid questions”

“gathering knowledge is never stupid. Questions are always welcome. In the long run I’ll probably have far more for you to answer so please, don’t feel like asking me things would be stupid” They made a stop at his ship so he could send what samples he had on him away then went right back inside. “goodnight again Johana, next time I want to leave in the night I’ll tell you. It makes me happy you cared enough to wonder where I was”

“Well, you’re my guest, I feel like you’re somehow my responsibility.”

“You have such brightness in you, Johana, you’re kindness is something to be admired.” He reached out and tucked a little hair behind her ear, letting his fingers gently brush her cheek to feel the heat there. “Sweet dreams, I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Sw…sweet dreams, Neek.” She said softly then turned and went back to her room. Her heart was beating so fast she feared it might burst. She had never known anyone like him. No one had been that interested in her and even if it was for research she enjoyed his attention. She pulled off her shoes and jacket then changed into one of her night shirts and flopped down on the bed, burying her face in her pillow.

In the morning when she came out of her room to brew coffee she found him half under her sink “Neek?”

“Johana, good morning” he said as he came out “sorry, I was reading these canisters you have under here”

“My cleaners?”

“Yes, interesting. Why do you humans use such harmful things to clean your homes?”

“I dont know, I guess because my mother did before me and so on”

“Hm” he took his book off the table and began writing. He seemed pretty engrossed in it so she just went ahead and started getting her coffee pot ready. It was half done when he asked “so what is that you’re doing?”

“Making coffee, it’s a drink I really like. A lot of humans drink this actually.”

“whats it made from?”

“special beans”

“oh, we drink many things made from beans on my planets”

“Hopefully you like this. I drink it black normally but I have cream and sugar if you need it. For whatever reason on my period I need cream and sugar” He smiled “intersting”

“Not that I’m into deep conversations about my period but I’ surprised you didn’t ask what that was”

“Oh, well, I hope it doesn’t upset you but I was very curious about the what I now know is a laptop and I started using it. I like you quite a bit so eventually I started using it to learn about human women. It seems this laptop as its called will make learning about humans tremendously easier”

“How long have you been up?”

“we only sleep about four hours’

“wow”

“do you normally sleep nine?”

“yeah but some humans sleep as little as six” the coffee finished and she poured him a cup. “i like this, thank you”

“are you hungry?”

“yes”

“I’ll make you breakfast”

“okay, do you mind if I go check my ship to make sure nothing was sent to me?

“Go right ahead, cooking will take me awhile” Neek hugged her then noticed upon letting go how confused she looked “friends hug, yes?” she smiled back “yeah”

“Please tell me if I ever make you feel uncomfortable.” She nodded and waited until he had left to let out the breath she had been holding. He had such an effect on her and her cheeks were red again. She pulled out the ingredients she would need then got to cooking, thoughts of him constantly distracting her. It was so strange meeting him. It wasn’t unusual for her to take walks in the evening, but there had been a feeling in the air, almost like an echo and now he was here. She believed the universe had wanted them to meet.

Neek was excited to see that he had been sent a couple of more things concerning Freg, one of which was a picture of him. It was the last that had been taken and he wondered if the man had changed or if he still looked the same. He wondered how life on Earth had effected him. The other was a war medal with a note attached saying it was for his descendant, that she was the owner of all things left of him. He smiled, hoping Johana would be happy to see it.

He carried the things he received back home to her, the wonderful smell of pancakes and sausage filling his nose “I’m back Johana” he said pleasantly “hi, what are you carrying?” He held the medal up so she could see it better “This war medal belonged to your ancestor Freg. I’m happy to have something other than my word to give you so that you can see how brave he was”

“when I’m done cooking may I hold it?”

“Yes, in fact I received a message that says everything that belongs to him is now yours so you can do anything you want with his medal” Neek sat down and continued talking “that smells incredibly good Johana. Is that pork and pancakes?”

“yeah, more stuff you learned on my laptop?”

“yes”

She giggled. “And you say I’m cute, just look at you.”

“Me? What did I do?”

“It’s your enthusiasm, it’s actually quite adorable.”

He seemed to think about this. “I’ve never considered it that way. I just can’t help myself, your world is truly fascinating. I can’t wait to see more, to learn more, especially about you.”

She blushed and he grinned. “Oh stop, I can’t help it.”

“But I like it so much, I find myself wanting to say outrageous things just to see them effect you.”

“Such a bad boy.”

“Bad boy?”

“It’s like the cool kid in school who also has this sort of rebellious nature, it tends to attract people. Like oh how mysterious and brooding he is. I was making a joke because you’re the exact opposite.”

“Oh.”

“I think the more time you spend here, the more Earth humor will make sense.”

She served breakfast then picked up the medal “This is pretty cool. I might hang it on one of my walls”

“If you tell me what to do I’ll help”

“alright” she tried to pretend like she wasnt watching and waiting for him to try her food but something told her he knew and was smiling at how adorable he seemed to think she was. “Very good, I like this. I’m already seeing things that kept Freg here” She felt comfortable enough now to enjoy her own food and soon they were done and hanging up Fregs medal. “I don’t know how I’d explain this to family but I just really want it on the wall”

“speaking of family are you ready to board my ship so we can search for Freg? If he’s here my ship will find him”

“yeah, just let me change out of my pajamas” He waited patiently for her to come back out, grinning at her again once she came back. “You always look so happy”

“I have you as a companion, why wouldn’t I be happy?” she blushed again, cursing in her head but she did like the way his face lit up when he made her blush. They boarded his ship and he started typing something into what looked like a large computer. “so this is how you so easily worked my laptop”

“yep, your laptop is incredibly simple”

“we’re behind the times in electronics huh?”

“You are just new in comparison to most planets” she let him continue what he was doing in silence. She didn’t want to bother him and make him change his mind about sticking around her. “there we go. I have to sit at the controls but you may do and look at whatever you wish. Just for your own safety please don’t touch anything. I don’t know enough about your human body to know whats all safe for you on here”

“Okay”

Chapter Four

Johana didn’t even realize they were off the ground until she looked out the window. There was no dip in her stomach like when you would ride an elevator or a plane, the takeoff was much smoother. She watched as the world zoomed by for a few minutes, amazed that she was actually flying on an alien ship. “This is so cool.” The sound of amazement had Neek smiling. Johana wandered away from the window to look through the ship. She had only seen the room where she was scanned before, but now she could actually explore this amazing piece of technology. He had some many wonderful things and she did her best to take it all in. Her favorite room was the nursery and all the different plants he had growing there. She wondered if these were all from samples or if they were from his home world. She wanted dearly to bury her nose in the petals of some of the flowers, but she wasn’t sure if they were toxic or not and decided it would be safer to wait until Neek could actually show her. She made her way from room to room, staying out of his when she found it. She knew he had said she could do what she pleased, but she wanted to give him his privacy.

Johana was happy when she could hear him walking toward her “Enjoying yourself? The ship is fine for now but I will have to check the controls every now and then”

“How will we know if it finds Freg?”

“it will tell me. Was there anything you wanted to touch? Now that I can follow you you don’t have to be so restricted”

“You seem a bit tense”

“I do not like the thought of anything on my ship hurting you which is odd. Not that I like hurting people but normally my need for knowledge would have me excited about you roaming around here so that I could know how the human body reacts to my plants and things like that. I have things from home here so it’s not so..so lonely I guess, I can come aboard here if I need to to have a piece of my home…anyway…I wish I had a different human to touch things before you did…my relationship with you is more than just curiosity. I truly consider you my friend Johana.”

“I don’t have to touch anything but I’d love for you to tell me about some of the stuff on here”

“Anything you wish.”

Johana smiled and he felt his heart stutter. She slipped her hand in his, the warmth of her skin sending a shock through him. “I want to see the flowers.” She said as she pulled him and he followed her to the nursery. “Tell me where you got them.”

“All of them?”

“Yes, I want to know about each one. They must all have stories.”

He chuckled. “I love that about you, your curiosity, it one of my favorite things already.” She blushed and he grinned. “That of course is the other.”

“Um, the flowers.”

“Oh yes, sorry.”

They walked back to where the flowers were and he began talking to her about each and every one. He loved how genuinely interested she seemed in his planet. When he was done talking to her about the flowers he said “I never showed you the picture I received of him. Would you like to see it Johana?”

“sure” he unfolded it from his pocket and handed it to her. “Hm” she said as she stared at it. “Hm?”

“Maybe it’s just family resemblance but I feel like I’ve seen him before”

“Maybe he’s checked on you. I’m sure he cares about you”

“really?”

“I really think the only reason he would have stayed away at all was the inability to explain he was an alien and thats why he didn’t die”

“I wonder if the woman he fell in love with knew”

“Perhaps, Freg was an honest man, but even if he had kept it to himself, she would have noticed a few strange quirks. He probably would have been a lot like me on his first visit here. There is also the matter of his gifts. I am sure he would have effected things around him.”

“You mean the telekinesis?”

“Not just that, but yes. Perhaps he caught something without actually touching it, or saved his children from harm without ever putting a hand on them to do so. He was a soldier and the books say he could do things that others only imagined doing. He was incredibly gifted.”

“I wish he would have stayed. At least I wouldn’t have felt so alone.”

“I’m sure once he sees you, he’ll wish to know you. Who wouldn’t?”

She smiled. “You really are sweet.”

“I’m just incredibly fond of you Johana. Her heart stuttered and she looked away “No, don’t do that. I can’t see you turn red as clearly” He took her hand this time and pulled her into another room of his ship. When he had to go back to his controls Johana sat on the floor beside him “can I ask you a question?”

“always”

“do all aliens look like we do? I mean Freg must have and you do and you two are from different planets”

“Fregs race actually does but this isn’t what I look like” He felt nervous telling her that but just like Freg he was an honest man. “what do you mean”

“You know how I have the neat trick of speaking and being understood in whatever language the being I’m speaking to speaks?”

“yeah”

“well I can also look like any other race I want to….I doubt without it we could so easily study other beings…as i said….nothing acts like it normally does if it knows its being watched”

“that makes sense” she started then asked a bit nervously out of worry it was stepping over some boundary to ask “may I see what you really look like Neek?” Neek stepped away from the controls and walked over to her, offering his hand to help her up. She took it and that same shock of warmth hit him, a warmth he didn’t like the thought of scaring away. “To be honest its a little more than blending in. My race isn’t a very attractive one. I could scare you Johana”

“Nothing scares me”

“I will show you but only if you’re sure you want to see while you’re stuck in this ship with me”

“Neek, I want to see and it wont upset me”

“Then because I care for you I will let you truly know what you’re allowing in your company” She felt bad at how nervous he seemed. She wondered how many species had had a bad reaction to them. “could you close your eyes?”

“of course” she said and closed them. With those beautiful green eyes closed it was easier to make himself shift back into what he really was. It took him a few moments after changing back to actually tell her to open her eyes. He could’ve cried when she didn’t seem afraid in the slightest. She simply said “No wonder you’re such a tall human. You’re pretty big. I’m not even sure how that even works out.” he smiled and she asked “could I touch you?” visually it was hard to tell if he had skin or fur by the way it looked. It seemed like some sort of hybrid of both. “yeah, it’s okay” She felt him and said “Oh my god you’re the softest thing ever!” She hugged him, unable to help herself from rubbing her face against him. He smiled, actually shedding a few tears. This would be the first recording of a pleasant first reaction to a being seeing what they really were.

Seeing him for what he was also explained why this ship was so massive, it had to be if he didn’t make himself smaller as he had when he made himself look human. Still holding him she asked “I want to know what your language sounds like too if that’s okay? Can you turn off whatever translates?”

“really?”

“I just feel so close to you and while we’re getting this personal I want to know what your language sounds like” he mentally turned it off and said something he had been feeling but was only brave enough to speak on when she couldn’t understand “I’m falling in love with you”

“sounds really cool” he flipped the mental switch back so she could understand him. He wanted to change back so her image of him wouldn’t be so seared with this grotesque looking body he was born in but she was still holding him and his desire to look like a human again didn’t outweigh his enjoyment of her being close. It was only a few moments later when the ship said “Freg located”

“I have to land” he said softly and she let him go.

He took the opportunity to change back to his human form and he couldn’t help but catch the look of disappointment on her face. “So, he’s really here?”

“That’s what my scans say.”

“I’m a little nervous, what if he doesn’t like me?”

“That’s impossible, you’re perfect.”

“Oh stop, that’s not true.”

“It is, you’re the most amazing woman in any galaxy on any world and even if he doesn’t like you, you will still have me.”

Chapter Five

She could tell he meant every word of that and it touched her, warming her heart and filling her with butterflies. They soon landed and Neek showed her how to get the ramp to come out “I don’t know why I wouldn’t be able to do this for you but if you are going to travel on my ship you should know how to get off” Johana was a bundle of nerves as she walked off with him. “How will we find him now?” she asked, looking around to find they were in some sort of mountain area. He pulled something out “this will guide me to where the ship found him. He’s close”

They soon found one of the largest houses she had ever seen. It seemed so out of place since nothing else was around here. “He’s in there Johana, are you ready?”

“as ready as I’ll ever be…I wonder why he has such a big home” Neek hoped his hunch was right and that maybe his descendants did live as long as his kind did and that when they got too old he brought them here. He hoped it with all he was because he never wanted Johana to die. He was growing far too attached to her. Neek knocked for her since she was so nervous and soon a woman answered who apparently knew who Johana was “Oh Johana, sweetheart. You’re here” realization dawned on the woman “how..” she trailed off looking at Neek “Hm, you’re from Krawnum right, you are why shes here already”

“Yes, I’m the first to be assigned to earth. I met Johana as soon as I arrived”

“come in, Freg will be so happy” when the woman left her in the living room Johana said “she knew me”

“Like I said, knowing Freg he loves you very much and has probably checked in on you” Freg was soon in the room “Oh Johana, look how beautiful you’ve become”

“How do you all know me. Neek says I’m descended from you but I didn’t realize we had met”

“It’s a long story, normally I’ve been much more involved but…eh…before I continue how close are you to your mother? I don’t want to make you mad”

“Not very, I love her because shes my mom but we don’t hangout much now that I’m an adult. We didn’t even hangout when I was a child if I could help it once she and dad got divorced” Freg sighed “well we all had a bit of a falling out. It all started because against my advisement your father waited to tell her he was of alien lineage until they were trying to have kids since obviously, she was going to find out. Now I will admit that was wrong of him. I told him and told him to tell her. I honestly think it should be talked about before marriage even happens but we can’t go back now. At first she didn’t believe him and actually got your father committed to a mental institution for awhile. It pissed me off and I tried to help by showing her some things but she flew off the handle making all sorts of wild accusations and just to be blunt being crazy in general. I know it can be a hard thing to take in but her reaction was to be a nightmare for awhile”

He sighed “well eventually they reconciled and he denied who he was to get out of the looney bin. They had you three wonderful kids but there was another big falling out when you were four and through her friends at the police department theres actually restraining orders against me and the rest of the people in this house. It broke my heart Johana…especially when I got so hopeful after the divorce that your father would mend the relationship. He didn’t come to me so I decided to go to him. I told him we could forget everything and be a family but he had no interest. He blames me for how things turned out with his wife. It doesnt make sense to me but theres nothing I could do. They worked your laws to prohibit me from your life. I dont know what they were planning on telling you guys when you didnt age so you’d have to ask your parents but…I love you Johana and I hope you aren’t angry. I honestly don’t know how I could have handled things better. Your mother just…”

“shes a bitch” Johana finished. Freg nodded “trying to be polite since she is your mother”

Johana wrapped him in a tight hug. “I’m sorry, if I had known earlier, I would have let both of them have it.”

Freg hugged her back, looking ready to cry with his happiness. “Perhaps some day, your father will come and see us.”

“I’ll make him, there’s no reason for him to be a jerk to you, it’s not okay just because mom freaked out.” She raised her head. “What about grandpa, is he still alive?”

Freg nodded. “He wrote us about a month ago asking how things were going. I couldn’t lie to him, but I told him not to worry about it, that things would work out in their own time.”

“I’m surprised he listened, I remember him being kind of stubborn.”

“He is, but everyone seems to listen to me so he’s held off. Now that you know, I’m sure he’ll come back.” He turned his attention to Neek. “Thank you for bringing her.”

“It’s an honor to meet you, sir, everyone back home will be ecstatic to know you still live and that you have a family.”

“Is Jaen still the leader of your planet?”

“Yes.”

“I’m surprised he hasn’t handed off leadership to his son.”

“After what happened to your planet, he decided not too in case an attack came our way. It’s been a long time, part of me thinks he forgot and his son doesn’t seem to mind.”

“are you excited to have an assignment?”

“Yes and I’m really glad it was here. I have found you still live and honestly I really enjoy Johana’s company. I don’t know if I will ever have a desire to leave this planet now that I know her” he said a bit nervously. “well you two are welcome here anytime and Johana, when you get too old and the humans grow suspicious you can live here or I can figure something else out for you”

“Thank you”

“would you two at least stay for dinner, please? It has been so long since I’ve been able to see you Johana. To be honest I’ve popped up in your life in little ways very discretely but I can actually spend time with you now”

“I’d love to, are you going to stay Neek?’

“Yes” They had dinner and Johana greatly enjoyed getting to know the generations that came before her that were staying there. She didn’t understand at all her father not wanting to be a part of this any longer. That night she was shown a room and Neek started to leave to sleep on his ship. “You don’t have to Neek” Freg said “Oh no, it’s fine, I can get some work done just…could someone make sure to come get me when she wakes up” Freg smiled knowingly “you care about her as more than a friend don’t you Neek”

“it’s obvious?”

“very, you should say something”

“I’ve only known her a few days”

“so?”

“shes seen what I really look like. She had a good reaction but being my friend and dating soemthing that looks like my race does are two very different things. I mean, we barely breed outside our own race for a reason, most others wont have us…I’m sure you remember how big and ugly we are”

“I doubt Johana cares”

“I don’t know…in time…I’m not ready yet”

“alright” He went outside and started writing down notes to send back home to be properly filed. Afterwards he looked at the time and came to the sad realization she’d probably still be sleeping for another six or seven hours. He went ahead and turned in for the night since that would move the time another four hours. Once he was up again he used the time to study and take samples of the mountains they were in. His heart nearly leaped out of his chest with happiness when he heard Johana call his name “good morning Neek” she said, hugging him tightly “good morning Johana”

“what’re you doing?”

“getting work done while you rest. I’m happy to see you’re up now”

“breakfast is being made”

“Then I will happily join” she took him by the hand, that little gesture once again causing great feeling to course through him. They hungout the remainder of the day before they both decided they should be going back to her home. Johana was beside herself with need to reprimand her parents for robbing her of knowing these people. All those years she felt like she didn’t belong and they just let her feel like an outcast. They could have told her at any moment and they kept Freg a secret.

When Neek could let the ship fly on it’s own he said “so we never talked about how I really look”

“what’s there to talk about?’

“Johana”

“I’m serious, I actually like how soft you are” he smiled “really?”

“yeah, you can drop whatever you do to make yourself look human any time around me. I like you no matter what you look like Neek” emotion tore through him but he kept himself from crying. Johana accepted him, she truly accepted him. He took her in his arms and held her close. She didn’t object and it felt so incredible to hold her he kept her in his arms up until he had to land his ship again.

“I was wondering if maybe you wouldn’t mind coming with me to talk to my father.” Johana said when they were finally off the ship.

“If that’s what you want. Where does he live?”

“In town, but we don’t need the ship, I actually have a jeep.”

“Okay.” He hadn’t noticed a vehicle when he arrived and it was soon made apparent when pulled away the tarp that was covering it. The color had helped it blend into the surrounding area. “That was surprising.”

“If I don’t cover it and it rains or snows, it’ll mess up the interior.”

“I see.”

“The ride’s a little bumpy, nothing like how your ship is, I hope that’s okay.”

“Anything is fine when I’m with you.”

Her cheeks reddened, but she smiled instead of ducking her head. “Then stop worrying so much about your appearance, you’re perfect the way you are.” His heart danced in his chest as he climbed in next her and he didn’t even notice the bumps on the road as he thought of how he would tell her how he felt. It was the first time he had been genuinely scared to be honest with someone.

It was a long trip into town so she had to get gas as soon as they arrived but then they were off to her fathers which turned out to not be much farther than the place she stopped to fill up her car. “Hey baby, what’s up? Who is this?”

“can we come in?”

“Of course” they walked into his living room “I’m going to cut to the chase. This is Neek, I met him as soon as he arrived on earth. You heard right, arrived on earth, hes an alien. He figured out pretty quick that I’m not human and he has taken me to see Freg and the rest of the family. Dad…I am so angry at you for keeping them from me. You know how weird I felt, how I felt I didn’t belong. You let me feel like a freak instead of fessing up about our family. That really hurts dad but whats worse is you pushing them away because moms a bitch. I’m sorry and no those were not Fregs words so dont get even more angry with him but mom is a selfish bitch and shes the one who wrecked our family, not Freg. You need to make up with him dad and you need to tell him you’re sorry”

Chapter Six

“Johana, you don’t understand.”

“Stop treating me like a child. I was so alone as a kid, you should have told me I wasn’t some sort of freak.”

“I just wanted to protect you.”

“Why because mom was horrible and had you committed? Because you couldn’t just stand up to her and tell her you weren’t going to be pushed around and bullied into lying? I’m your daughter and Freg is family. Mom tried to make us into something we aren’t because she’s selfish. I’m not a freak and neither are you, so stop being a jerk to the people who love you and apologize.”

Johana could see her reprimanding had hurt him. She had never raised her voice to him or shown him disappointment and the look he was giving her was heartbreaking. “I’m sorry.”

“Daddy, please, for me, tell Freg you didn’t mean it and have the restraining order dropped. You even had grandpa ready to come home and tell you off so please.”

He tilted his head down in shame “I’m sorry Johana…okay…I’ll go see Freg and the family and apologize…I’m sorry for how all this hurt you…I didn’t think about how it would affect you I guess. Your mother just made me feel like what we were was bad…”

“I can’t stand her”

“she’s your mother”

“all she thinks about is herself. I’m not even sure if she loves us” he sighed and pulled her in for a hug “well I love you and I’m happy you’ve met this Neek. Where are you from?”

“Krawnum”

“ahhh, so you’re here for knowledge”

“yes, earth is my very first assignment”

“welcome, it’s an interesting place, thats for sure”

“I can take you to Freg if you’d like”

“No, I have my ways of getting there so it’s okay”

“I love you dad” Johana interjected. “I love you too pumpkin”

“we’ll go ahead and go but you better call me tomorrow”

“I’ll do better and come over to see you” Neek and Johana started back home in her car. Once they were home he said “you got so upset. I could hold you again to bring you comfort”

“Thats really sweet, thank you. I’d like that. You could let yourself be in your true form if you want. You’re so soft that way” he got an uncomfortable look on his face and she sighed “theres nothing wrong with the way you actually look Neek, at least not to me”

“okay but I cant be me in your house. I’m too big”

“I didn’t even think about that. Okay, well anytime you want to be you we can hangout in your ship” he smiled and followed her into the living room where she turned on a movie and they cuddled up to eachother.

Half way through the movie Johana started to doze off and found herself blinking in hopes she would stay awake. She was enjoying being with Neek and still had so much to think about with her family and herself. She wasn’t the freak anymore, but part of a whole that loved her. “Hey, you should get to bed.” Neek said and she shook her head. “Why not?”

“Because I want to stay with you.”

He felt his heart beat quicken. “Really?”

“Yeah, so can we go on your ship? You can be you and I can sleep next to you.”

“I think someone is half asleep.”

“I know what I’m saying, so please? You’re so warm and soft.”

“Okay, if that’s truly what you want.”

“It is, I know you’re a good guy so I’m not worried.”

“Alright.” He stood and gently lifted her, enjoying the way she snuggled up to him. He took her out and onto his ship and found her something comfortable to wear. He felt so nervous as he waited for her to change.

“You still haven’t changed.” She said when she came out the bathroom and got under the covers. “Come on and no secretly changing back while I’m sleeping.”

He swallowed, still not understanding how shed want to be so near him when there was nothing to hide what he really looked like. He had read so many recordings of horrible reactions. He had been warned so many times not to scare creatures of other planets by revealing what he looked like and here the most beautiful creature he had ever seen wanted him near her and she wanted him to look like himself. He morphed back into what he truly looked like and changed into something more comfortable before getting in bed with her, feeling a little afraid she’d come to her senses and run away, back into the safety of her home.

She cuddled right up to him and said in an absolutely content voice “Oh my gosh, it’s ridiculous how soft and warm you are” his lip trembled softly as he wrapped his arms around her “goodnight Johana”

“Goodnigth Neek” she shifted a little against him and was soon sound asleep. “I’m so happy I came here and found a treasure like you Johana: he whispered as a few tears fell into her hair. He followed her into sleep, basking in how incredible it felt to cuddle with someone.

The next morning she woke feeling completely refreshed and let out a contented sigh. Neek was sound asleep and she slowly propped herself up so she could look at him. She didn’t understand why he thought he was ugly when it was the exact opposite. She let her fingers slide over his cheek and down across his chin. He let out a little groan and she felt herself blush when he opened his eyes. “Johana? Are you alright?”

“F…fine.”

He looked confused. “Is it me? Should I turn back?”

“No.” She said loudly, feeling embarrassed to the point that she buried her face in her hands to hide how red her face was.

“Johana, what’s wrong?”

“I was just watching you and I wanted to touch you so I did. I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“Touch me?”

“Just your face.”

He gently pulled the covers away from her face and tipped her head back. Her entire face was adorably red. “But why?”

“I just..well…I think you’re handsome, both ways.” He didn’t see how but he was incredibly touched. He asked a question before his mind could catch up and stop him, he had just wanted to do it so badly “may I kiss you Johana” her red face got even darker and he smiled “yes” she answered so he slowly moved in to kiss her. All thoughts ceased the second their lips met. It was his first kiss though he’d be embarrassed to admit that to her. Back on his planet he had been so preoccupied with becoming a traveler he hadnt had a second thought when it came to relationships.

When they stopped he hugged her again “Johana” she thought he was an adorable kisser. He was so cautious and awkward and she wondered if it was because he was in his natural form or if maybe she was his first kiss. Not like she had kissed that many men but he was still precious to her. He had such an amazing heart. ‘I love you Johana” that kiss had given him the confidence to tell her how he felt. “I love you too”

“May I keep you?”

“Keep me?”

“I want you to be with me always”

“I’d like that a lot. I think I’ll talk to Freg and see if we can build a house you can fit in. Maybe we can live closer to him”

“You truly like me this way it seems”

“I can definitly get used to how soft you are, especially at night. Thats the best sleep I’ve probably ever gotten. You kept me so warm too” he chuckled happily “your father is coming today but I’ll take us back to Freg when he leaves.”

“I just want to stay here all day.”

“I know, but we shouldn’t be rude right?”

She smiled as she pressed another kiss against his lips then got up, stretching. He found himself wanting to pull her back, to keep her close and touch her. She looked over her shoulder, smiling. “Come on then.”

“Oh, yes, sorry.” He felt so awkward in that moment and her giggling only made it worse. He now knew what embarrassment felt like and he had never been so thankful he couldn’t blush. He took a quick shower while she waited and came out of the bathroom dressed and in his human form.

“So handsome.” She said as she straightened the collar on his shirt. “And I mean both faces.”

“Thank you, Johana. Would you like to bathe here or at your place.”

“My clothes are at my place.”

“Oh, right.”

“Don’t worry, I’m sure Freg can help us into a situation where we can stay in the same house where you can also fit” When they were back at her place he started studying her world through her laptop while she showered. She hadn’t even gotten out yet when her father knocked on the door “she’s showering”

“You’re staying here?”

“yes” he smiled “Freg said you were interested in her”

“yes sir, I actually asked her to be mine last night and she said yes”

“That’s good to hear. I know from my father what good souls your people have in general. I’d honestly prefer you over most human boys” Neek was happy her father approved. “while we wait could I ask you some things about her?”

“shoot”

“shoot?”

“sorry, I mean go ahead”

“what does she like? I want to give her something or possibly even make her something”

“Now that is something I’d gladly help with Neek” Her father filled Neeks head with ideas right up until she came out “Hey dad”

“I went to him last night and we worked it all out. I stayed there until this morning”

“good”

“are we cool now baby?”

“Of course we are” she hugged him and he said “You and Neek have any plans today?”

“I want to see if Freg will help me build a house that Neek can stay in as himself instead of masquerading as a human” He smiled “well then lets get to it. I’ll come too, I stayed away so long I kind of want to go back his way anyway” The three of them returned to Freg who was happy to construct them a home up where he lived “and this is even more discreet Neek so you don’t have to worry about being discovered here. I’d hate for someone to somehow stumble on your ship”

“Thank you Freg” They started doing what they needed to do that day and in the meantime they lived at Fregs. Both Johana and her father had so much to catch up on with them and Johana loved learning about Fregs planet. The books had been an amazing gift from Neek but hearing it straight from a man she was related to was exciting. The day their house was fully constructed and ready to live in Neek still couldn’t believe Johana actually wanted to be with him and that she was so accepting of what he really looked like she had wanted this house so he could be himself. Neek knew he still had a job to do here on earth but she was now his top priority. Neek vowed to himself that he was going to make her the happiest woman that ever existed.

~ The End