"All right, class. I think that's enough lecture for the day," Gildedtongue said after looking at the chronometer on hir PADD. The various youths, eager to rejoin the freedom of between class time, made their way to the doorway in a feeding frenzy towards the door. Dominic, the boy shi met on the first day on the vessel remained behind, sitting on top of a table, feet swaying beneath. The chakat looked over at the human, stopping hir own packing, "Something troubling you, Dominic?" Shi asked, approaching the boy.

"No shir. Mom just has been mentioning that you've been at the med bay with Thallon a lot lately," the blonde boy asked with the blunt honesty children seem to have without years of learning how to approach matters in roundabout ways. Gildedtongue responded with a chuckle and a nod to that, causing Dominic to continue, "I thought that you were going to be leaving once we hit Chakona, so, why are you trying to get close to him?"

The chakat was slightly taken aback by that, but mulled over to give an answer, not finding any coming off hand. Shi sighed and shrugged, resuming hir packing, "Well, I guess that I still feel some responsibility over what happened, so, I'm doing my best to comfort him on my off time." Gildedtongue knew shi was trying to convince hirself of this more than convince the boy, but shi wasn't doing a good job at either. "I guess I don't know what's going on, but, I suppose I'm just sailing where the wind is taking me."

Dominic frowned slightly and nodded, "Oh. Well, don't go breaking his heart too much," he said, shouldering his backpack and walks out of the classroom, leaving Gildedtongue to sit by hirself. Initially shi felt a great deal of anger and rage towards hir pupil – who was he to judge what other people did on their own time, and who said that this was anything more than simply platonic relationships between adults?

Gildedtongue packed up hir bag fully and attached it to hir midsection, adjusting hir saddlebags for weight before leaving and locking the classroom, making hir way towards the medical bay. Since shi did promise Thallon shi'd visit him today, it would be rude to not show up. The other crewmembers seemed increasingly friendly to the chakat as shi became less and less of a new stranger, and a more common sight inside the ship's spine.

Wu was looking over Thallon's foreleg, in a large splint and immobilized while he rested on his side. The doctor typed some things out onto her PADD before addressing the incoming chakat, "He's healing mostly fine. Had I the proper tools here, he'd be on his feet and walking around fine." She gave a light slap to Thallon's lower chest, making the large foxtaur flinch a bit and yelp out a 'hey!' Wu continued, "But, as it is, he'll be here until we hit Epsilon Thirty Fifty-six. The captain will not be pleased in hearing about the wait or the expense."

"Do you have to explain it over and over again each time someone comes inside?" Thallon asked, prepping his upper torso onto an elbow and nodded towards the incoming chakat, waving to hir. Gildedtongue took hir seat next to Thallon, outstretching hir hand to caress over his flanks.

"Just often enough to sink it into your head, you overgrown teenager," the Doctor said before retreating back to her office. The two taurs kept quiet in the silence for a few moments. Gildedtongue continued to blush to hirself as Thallon shot hir a roguish glance, stretching out on his bed as carefully as he could.

"Mmmm, my saviour is here once again. So, what did you get for us this evening?" Thallon asked, propping his anthro torso on one elbow to move himself closer to the chakat. Gildedtongue sat close, blushing hotly before resting a hand upon the foxtaur's flank, feeling over the coarse, pinkish fur covering the majority of his body.

Gildedtongue sighed slightly, a small smile on her face as she looked into Thallon's stormy grey eyes, "Just a couple of videos. Small library of stuff you have on board."

The foxtaur nodded, reaching up to caress Gildedtongue's forearm, smiling back to hir, "Mmmm, that's all right, we'll pick up some more stuff on the station. Heh, I'm sure you won't be bored." Thallon laughed slightly, but that didn't last long as he looked into Gildedtongue's gloomy expression, "What's on your mind there?"

"Nothing!" shi retorted quickly, looking at the ground as hir hand went limp on his side, "And everything. Just, eh, Dominic said something right after school, about how I'm not going to be here after we reach my destination, and that it's unfair for me to string you along for something that might not last, and, I agree, he is correct."

The two stayed quiet until Thallon took Gildedtongue's hand, squeezing it and making hir lift hir head to look him in the eyes, and said, "You’re one different woman, Gildedtongue. Believe me, I'll take whatever time I'm able to with you. I love you."

Gildedtongue blushed firmly at the words, then looked away, backing up from the foxtaur on the bed, trembling as shi held hir arms, "W-we've only just met, Thallon. You're a great guy, and I like you, but..." shi sighs, rubbing hir arms to comfort hirself, "I guess I'm not sure about that word just yet." shi mutters.

Gildedtongue's downtrodden disposition was infectious as Thallon frowned himself, his normally bright features getting sullen, "Ah, right. I'm, sorry for offending you," the foxtaur muttered.

The chakat wasn't sure what to do, biting hir lower lip as the two stood in awkward silence. Shi contemplated just bolting out of the door and to hir room, but that'd just make things worse, shi felt. Æons passed in the silence before Gildedtongue just cursed underneath hir breath, striding towards the infirmed vulpine centauroid, grabbing his head in hir hands and pressed hir lips firmly against his own.

The kiss was sloppy and split open Gildedtongue's lower lip on one of hir teeth, but the sudden rush of passion between the two overcame the lack of form and technique from the chakat's side of the kiss. Both listened to the monitor sound in a double-beat of both of Thallon's rapidly beating hearts. Their tongues invaded each other's mouths, sloppily dancing and wrestling with each other as their embrace tightened.

The kiss was stopped by the clearing of Dr. Wu's throat. Each of the centauroid's faces red with embarrassment. Gildedtongue saw a flash of black from Thallon's crotch but the foxtaur quickly covered himself with his blanket, laughing lightly. "M-maybe I should, ah, just leave the videos and... ah... come back some other time?" Gildedtongue's ears slowly cooled to their usual pink colouring.

"Sounds like a plan," Thallon nodded, coughing and licking at his lips with his purple tongue, getting some of Gildedtongue's yellowed muzzlefur out from his mouth. Gildedtongue watched Thallon's smiling face as shi hurriedly left the medical bay and made hir way back into hir quarters. Shi felt even lighter than the low gravity environment shi was in, not even noticing hir bleeding lip until shi tried to whistle and felt its sting.

Hir purring filled hir small quarters as shi immediately started upon hir grading. Most of the students were thankful for a more organic teacher, one who could be more flexible with their needs. Two of the children, Matthew and Chad, opted to remain with the computerized education, which suited Gildedtongue fine, as they were more interested in computer sciences, which was certainly not hir forté. Having only ten students was a luxury to the chakat as shi could focus on each of them considerably more. Shi hummed while checking the first paper, opting for dinner and tea once shi was done.

The chakat’s chronometer chimed at dinnertime, and not a moment too soon as Gildedtongue shut down hir PADD and made hir way to the galley. More sandwiches and soups awaited hir and shi saw Saldura sitting in hir usual corner, with a wistful look in hir uncovered eye. The chakat made hir way over to the table, blushing slightly as shi intruded. "Mind if I sit here?"

Saldura blinked out of hir melancholy, addressing the chakat with a nod. "Not at all, please." The badger seemed happy to have company as the taur sat on the other side of the table. Saldura looked over the older herm, seeing the cut on the lip, but didn’t say anything about it. "How was your class today?" shi started the small talk.

The two spoke with each other for well over an hour, letting their food get cold as they dined on conversation. Even with Gildedtongue’s poor empathy, shi could tell that the badger’s mood had been lifted considerably, counting to hir loneliness. "…So, I told Thallon ‘That’s not where it goes!’" Both herms laughing around the table, feeling better before noticing their meal. They ate in relative silence, quickly finishing their meal before making their way back into the spine.

"How have you been dealing with the lower gravity? Lots of people get very ill in these sorts of environments, but seems like you’ve got your space-legs on you." Saldura said, looking over the walking gait of hir companion.

"Well enough, I think. Still wake up with headaches sometimes, but, not as bad as that first day." Gildedtongue chuckled, rubbing hir head in gesture of the earlier incident. They stopped at the door to the badger’s quarters, remaining silent for a few moments. "Ah, thanks for the seat at dinner."

Saldura nodded back. "No problem. Don’t be afraid to join me anytime, Wanderer." The chakat nearly forgot hir incognito name, but quickly nodded in response. The security chief thought for a moment, continuing, "And, I want to thank you, for keeping Thallon company. I guess my job tends to keep me busy all the time, and I’m glad he doesn’t think he’s alone."

Gildedtongue nodded, reaching to give Saldura a hug before they bade each other a good night. Gildy was certainly glad that neither seemed to mind hir presence in their relationship, and seemed very supportive. The whole thing felt new and surreal to the chakat. Shi supposed if shi was more normal this would be old hat, but in hir case, things still surprised hir.

Shucking off hir top, Gildedtongue quickly retreated to hir bed, getting ready for a new day tomorrow. The ship was scheduled to dock next week at the station, and hopefully Thallon would be made all better, and Gildedtongue could do a bit of exploration.

Gildedtongue was considering various assignments for hir students during the docking when shi heard an unfamiliar ringing. Hir door was making a quiet tone, making the chakat get out of bed, pulling a shirt over hir anthro half before opening the door.

Saldura was on the other side in what Gildedtongue figured was hir casual wear, holding one arm and looking at the ground. The chakat was initially confused about what was happening, until Saldura muttered, "Can I sleep with you tonight?"

Gildedtongue nodded, ushering hir friend into hir room. "I guess I’m just too used to sleeping with Thallon, these last few weeks have been…" Saldura started, but was cut off by a hug from Gildedtongue. The chakat had no clue what shi was doing, but decided to play it by ear. Shi felt the badger’s strong arms gripping hir body when shi returned the hug. Some lonely tears dropping on the chakat’s shoulder as the two stood in their silent embrace. Neither knew how long it took before they shed their clothing and made their way into bed, falling asleep in each other’s arms.

Gildedtongue woke up groggily, seeing the back of Saldura, up and putting on hir uniform already. The large teacher stretched as much as shi could, using one of the bedsheets to hide hir erection, licking the off taste in hir mouth. Saldura sat on the side of the bed reaching to cup Gildedtongue’s cheek and pull the chakat into a kiss. "Good morning," the badger whispered.

Gildy could only grumble something intelligible in response. Still waking up. Saldura giggled uncharacteristically; giving a second kiss upon the chakat’s forehead, "Well, just wanted to thank you, Gildy. I needed that last night."

The chakat nodded dumbly, blinking the sleep from hir eyes as shi propped hirself up on hir elbows to address hir friend better. Enough saliva gathered in hir mouth to let hir speak, "It’s no problem, chief Holbock. It was a pleasure to share the evening with you.

Saldura nodded, frowning slightly as shi ran hir fingers through Gildedtongue’s red mane, looking down into hir large eyes. "Please, call me Sal, or Sally, no need for such divides between us."

Gildedtongue nodded, wrapping hir arms around Saldura to give hir a firm hug. "Anyway. I need to go." Saldura continued, "There’s no rest for the wicked, as they say, and I need to be in uniform and on the bridge to report soon." Shi nuzzled the chakat before walking over to the door.

"Sally?" Gildedtongue called after hir, catching hir before the door. The badger looked over hir shoulder at the leonine taur, cocking hir head. "Would you like to stay with me tonight as well?"

Saldura’s black and white face warmed at the offer, "I would be delighted. I’ll see you after shift, shir Wanderer." And with that, shi left.

Gildedtongue collapsed back on hir bed, staring at the ceiling for a few minutes as hir brain tried to negotiate with hir body that it was time to get up. Willpower finally overcame sloth as shi went to get hirself ready for the day. The events of yesterday running through the chakat’s mind as shi gathered hir outfit and made hir way to the communal showers.

Several other people were washing themselves off, causing the chakat to blush slightly to hirself, keeping hir eyes on the ground. Two males, a human and a tiger morph were sharing a discussion in the middle of the room, and it didn’t take a mind reader to notice that they were interested in each other. Gildedtongue sighed, feeling mixed, as usual, happy to see others enjoying each other’s company, and still angry with hirself for feeling like a pervert about it. Shi took in a deep breath and shucked hir shirt and clothing into a nearby storage case, making hir way quickly to a corner spout, covering hir breasts with hir hands and shampoo.

Soon the warm water cascaded over and through hir fur, letting Gildedtongue purr in relief. Shi hadn’t needed to bathe as much in the controlled environment of the Purgatorio but it was relaxing to get rid of the musks accumulating on hir body. As shi washed, shi continued to think.

Though they didn’t get physically intimate, Gildedtongue had to admit that last night was one of the most pleasant evenings shi had had for a long time. Shi smiled to hirself, running the shampoo through hir face fur, remembering just how Sally felt in hir arms, or how shi smelled. As shi ran hir fingers through hir mane, a shiver of contentment ran through hir body, happy that shi had actually made someone else feel good for a change. Shi knew that hir friends liked having hir around, but it felt good to actually help someone out.

Gildedtongue started to purr as shi finished up hir cleaning, making hir way to the drying chambers, this time less concerned with covering hirself. The warm jets of air rushed through hir fur and over hir flesh. Hir eyes shut to shield them from the warm buffets over hir body, but shi heard someone clear their throat behind hir as the air jets slowly shut off. Gildedtongue reached for a towel, turning behind hir and saw the human from earlier, waiting for his turn. Shi blushed, not sure what to do, but didn’t move when he went into the chamber.

"Gilbert Westin, at your service," he said as the dryer turned back on. Gildedtongue nodded, responding with hir false name. The human nodded and smiled, "Pleasure is all mine. If I may, please, might I help dry you off, shir Wanderer? I must say, that is one long and gorgeous tail. Mind terribly if I dry it off for you?"

Gildedtongue felt a bit strange at the offer, but not wanting to blow hir cover as a "perfectly normal chakat," decided to allow it. Gilbert worked on the tail as the chakat worked on drying off hir chest and flanks, trying to not act as nervous as shi felt. Luckily, hir suspicions came to nothing as the dryer shut down again and both were ready to go back to their shifts. Gildedtongue went to hir locker and pulled hir outfit, waving good-bye to the human before leaving.

‘I’m overanalysing everyone’s motives,’ Gildedtongue thought to hirself as shi made hir way back to hir quarters. "Even my own’s and Thallon’s," shi said aloud, thinking about last afternoon. Another sigh as shi gathered some books and hir PADD, making a mental note to make things right after lessons that day.

"I’m very happy with everyone’s progress. All of your work seems to be in top shape and you seem to be getting the material, and thus," Gildedtongue said, addressing hir class, "Come docking with the station, you all will get the full two weeks off. Consider it an earned vacation." The class seemed to enjoy that, giving small cheers to their teacher. "However, that won’t be until after we’ve made dock, so, Clifton, I expect a paper on…" the chakat continued, dealing out the latest line of homework to hir students, which was met with less jubilation than hir previous announcement. After sorting everyone out, shi finally dismissed the class, as hir students grudgingly made their way out of the room, Gildedtongue called out, "Oh, and Dominic? Please see me for just a moment."

The blonde child gawked slightly, blinking to himself, not seeing how he was in trouble. He swallowed firmly, watching as his friends and the other students piled out of the classroom. Soon, both of them were alone much like the last time. "I do something wrong, shir Wanderer?"

Gildedtongue shook hir head, sighing slightly, "No, Dominic, you haven’t. I just wanted to tell you that, yes, I’m not going to be here forever, and yet, I wouldn’t mind having a bit of a relationship with Thallon and Saldura." The boy nodded quietly at that, looking disparagingly at the chakat. Gildedtongue coughed and continued, "Look, I don’t want to hurt either of them either, but, there certainly seems to be some sort of… I dunno." Gildedtongue sighed slightly. "I’m sorry, I’m not sure why I asked you to stay; guess I’m just talking to myself and need vindication."

Dominic looked blankly at Gildedtongue, gathering his things as it seemed he was not in trouble, and made his way to the door, taking one last look at Gildedtongue before leaving.

Gildy sighed slightly, seeing how bizarre that conversation was in hindsight, but it at least made hir feel better, which had to amount to something. The chakat put hir saddlebags back on and made hir way to the medical bay once again.

Dr. Wu was off that day, and her assistant merely minded the singular patient, making sure his meds were administered properly and that nothing serious would happen. Gildedtongue nodded a hello to the nurse, and then padded quietly to the napping foxtaur, sitting at his side and resting hir hand on his side. Thallon roused slowly, blinking his grey eyes awake, then looked into Gildedtongue’s concerned face. His dark, purplish tongue ran over his mouth dryly, trying to summon some moisture before he spoke, "Hey there, Wanderer. Surprised to see you here, actually, considering our previous discussions."

Gildedtongue nodded, feeling hir ears burn a little in blush. Hir tailtip flicking behind hir as shi continued to touch and feel over Thallon’s body. The foxtaur stretched and smiled at the interaction, feeling considerably better, nestling in his bed. Gildedtongue coughed a bit. "Look, I want to talk about what was said yesterday," the chakat muttered under hir breath, but Thallon was close and attentive enough to pick up what shi was saying. "About you, and me, and, well, that big emotion that’s summed up in four letters." Thallon nodded and leaned closer, looking into Gildedtongue’s down-turned face.

"I’m glad that you feel that way, since I do too," Thallon whispered coyly, his steel grey eyes staring deep into Gildedtongue’s own. The chakat’s hearts seemed to have skipped several beats while shi allowed hirself to be seduced by the infirmed willingly and knowingly. They were both glad that the doctor was not present when they met in another kiss, as passionate and as needy as the first. Both taurs touched and groped as much as they could with each other, letting their needs spill into the meeting of each other’s lips, acting like teenagers just discovering the simple joys that can come about it.

Neither were sure how long it took before they came up for air, but their hands remained on each other’s bodies, while Gildedtongue propped hir PADD on a swinging table, letting them view the video program loaded on the small screen together. The writing and the dialogue were forgettable, and the acting was horrific, but the company made the whole event feel exceptionally memorable.

Gildedtongue left Thallon to rest, and hirself go to get some food. Saldura, as predictable as ever, was sitting at the table in the back. However, shi had another tray opposite of hir. The chakat blushed, going to the line, figuring shi had other company, but the badger herm had waved hir over. "C’mon, sit down." The large biped smiled.

The chakat did as shi was bidden, looking over the badger as shi sat down, hir tailtip had been flicking beside hir while shi curled it up so no one would trip over it. Gildedtongue speared a leafy part of her salad, talking towards the table. "I, ah, talked to Thallon earlier, as you probably guessed. Heh, ah, yesterday he told me that he loved me, took me a whole day before I mustered up the courage to respond in kind."

Saldura smirked, resting hir elbows on the table top, entwining hir fingers as shi lay hir head on hir hands. "That so? Now, you realize, Thallon is a bit of a… two for one deal. Although, I don’t think you’d be that adverse to such a situation."

Gildedtongue blushed a bit more, nodding to hirself. "Yeah, I know, I know. Seems like a good deal to me, though." Shi chuckled quietly, lifting hir eyes to look over the striped face of the badger before hir. They continued to eat in relative silence, as Gildedtongue’s tail snaked underneath the table to wrap around Saldura’s ankle. The badger smiled wider in the meal, watching the chakat come out of hir shell just a little bit more. "Though, I guess my stop is still Chakona."

"Yeah, we know, we know. Love is forever fleeting, isn’t it?" Saldura sighed, moving to sip hir drink as shi leaned back in hir chair. Both were quickly finished and made their way to the spine. Gildedtongue didn’t make it to hir room, being pulled into Saldura’s chambers, where the two quickly became undressed and made love, now as mates.

The two weeks moved in a blur for Gildedtongue, between class, homework, minding Thallon, and spending time with Saldura. Soon the ship would be docking with the space station, and Thallon would be mended to the best of health. The thought of that drove a shiver through Gildedtongue’s spines. Shi was comfortable dealing with one mate at a time, but shi was soon going to learn what it would be like with both of them at the same time.



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