WARNING: You may want to finish your cup of tea before you read this.
TUESDAY AFTERNOON, AROUND TEATIME
"You know," Soolin said, "I'll bet this is one of those films you can see over and over again and see new subtleties every time."
"Mmmmh," Dayna said, glancing over Soolin's shoulder. "Is this the bit with the money shot?"
"No, you missed that," Soolin said. "Wait, I'll wind it back a bit."
Dayna and Soolin gave it two thumbs up.
They also liked the video.
THE PREVIOUS THURSDAY
"...Can you believe that?" Soolin said. "Of all the...effrontery. When I catch up with Vila, I'll pull his lungs out through his ear."
"How do you know it was Vila who bugged our...your...room?" Dayna asked.
"Our room. I like the sound of that. It's just a real-time video feed, by the by. No audio. It must have been Vila. The camera works, so that rules out Tarrant. And I found it, so that rules out Avon."
Dayna giggled. "That's not very fair. FSA is pretty much an engineering school, you know."
"And I'm not sure we've got the whole story about his departure either."
"So what do you want to do, then? Tell Vila that he's gone too far this time? Not say anything, but put the camera out of commission?"
"Yes! Or, then, no....I've got to think..."
"We could just sit here and trim our toenails and clip our ear hair," Dayna said. She stroked her hand through Soolin's cornrowed braids and touched her shoulder. "Then again, we could give him a right eyeful."
"It would be them you know...I can't see Vila keeping this to himself."
Dayna considered for a moment. "When I was a kiddie, I used to dance around with the hairbrush, thought it was a microphone. The audience--well, my sister--used to applaud like anything."
"So you want to go back into show business?"
"I'd love to show you off," Dayna said. "You're so pretty."
"Is that all you want us to do?"
"I don't know if I'm generous enough to share you...and we'd have to be bloody careful if we did anything with the blokes here. Suppose we tried it and it all went pear-shaped? We can't just snazz off the next morning and leave the wrong number on a cocktail napkin if they weren't up to much."
"And if we started keeping open house here, we'd have to do all the security and missions ourselves," Soolin said. "They'd forget to eat and sleep. Now, if there was a way to impose some strict limits on things, keep them controllable..." She sat down on the bed, and cracked her knuckles thoughtfully. "You're lovely, Day, and you're nicer than the rest of them put together..." Soolin said.
"That's not saying much, Soolie, a root canal and a hangover on you're birthday's nicer than the three of them put together. They're all awful, only in different ways."
"...And I love what you do to me...but I can't help it," Soolin continued. "It's like being brought up Chinese. They can serve you three starters and a steak and a fry-up and plum pudding. In your head you know you can't be hungry, but you haven't had any rice so you don't think you've had a meal."
"I suppose I wouldn't mind if we shared...we could sort of keep a lid on. And if it's only going to be one of them," Dayna said, "We should go with Vila. More deniability. All you have to do is give him a look and he'll swear blind that he couldn't have done it with you cos he's spent his whole life as a happily married gay monk virgin."
"Vila!" Soolin said. "I wouldn't even if the little toad hadn't wired in a voyeur-cam." Then she reconsidered. "Some things are better as a fantasy," Soolin said, staring off into the distance.
"Or a spectator sport."
Soolin gave Dayna an enthusiastic hug. "Bargain! That's what we'll do! The Federation wastes half its money on puppeteers, don't they? They only need to invest in the women. Anyone can figure out what a bloke is going to do. And sauce for the goose...in fact, we can go them one better."
THE PREVIOUS FRIDAY
This was one watch that Vila was determined not to fall asleep on. He'd seen Soolin stand up, run her hands through her hair, and say, "I just washed my hair and I can't do a thing with it!" Five minutes later, Dayna stood up and declaimed, "I wonder where I left that book of crossword puzzles?"
Vila waited in agony long enough to give them another five minutes, then raced to his cabin and switched on the viewscreen. Dayna had unbuttoned her shirt--she was wearing a chrome-yellow camisole underneath--and was sitting on the bed. Soolin lay supine, smiling a little as Dayna nibbled on the toes of her left foot, then smiling wider as Dayna rested her hand between Soolin's legs and started making small circles.
Vila put out an emergency call to Avon and Tarrant over the tannoy.
"Yes, Vila? What is it now?" Avon asked.
Vila, speechless, gestured at the viewscreen. By now, Soolin and Dayna were interlocked, legs scissored together, kissing.
"You put in a camera?" Avon asked.
Vila nodded and swiveled his head back to the screen.
"What sort? You should have used an LV-3230, there's far too much parallax on this one when it auto-pans."
"Dunno what kind...I mean...*look* at them!" Vila said, mesmerized by the tenderness with which Soolin slowly lifted the sunshiny camisole and pulled the charcoal-gray leggings down over Dayna's hips, past the g-string that matched the camisole. "Wonder where she got that outfit?" Vila mused.
"Come Sans Garcons?" Avon suggested.
"I don't suppose you have a moral objection to watching them?" Tarrant asked.
"No, none at all," Avon said. "Once you've used someone as cannon fodder the first dozen times, it doesn't seem all that bad to watch her having it off." He sat down on Vila's bed, and so did Vila. Damn! Avon thought. Tarrant sat down in the rough wooden chair.
Vila moaned as Dayna unclasped the collar of Soolin's siren suit. A gentle tug opened the placket at the front. There wasn't anything underneath it except Soolin. "Two gorgeous girls like that and no fellows...something missing there, I'd say."
"That's about as logical as assuming aliens are a fortiori hairy," Avon said.
There was a box under Vila's bed, containing all sorts of things that no inhabitant of Xenon Base had ever remembered a use for, but no one wanted to get rid of in case one of them turned up handy for something. Vila rooted under the bed, hauled out the box, and grabbed the first thing that came to hand.
"I'm going in there!" Vila said. "I'll tell them I just happened to be passing by and...I'll think of something."
"I really don't think that's a very good idea, Vila," Tarrant said, followed by "Oh, my God," as Soolin closed her eyes and arched off the bed in response to the joint effects of Dayna's hands and mouth.
"Try not to bleed on my carpet if they kill you," Avon said.
Vila pelted down the corridor to Soolin's room. He blinked, ascertaining that the door he had so desperately hoped was open was....open.
"Oh look!" Dayna said, lifting her head from the warm notch between Soolin's collarbones. "It's Vila's dick, followed closely by its life support system!"
Vila gestured vaguely with the piece of electronic apparatus in his hand. "I got worried about the isotope levels in here...very dangerous things, isotopes. So I thought I'd check it out with this dyno-sphygmo-special-electrical thing here."
"I can't imagine where you found that," Soolin said. "Nobody's used those for years."
"There's no tool like an old tool," Vila said hopefully.
Dayna glanced at Soolin, and slapped her palm against her own shoulder: Touchee! Soolin nodded, to indicate that she had won the bet. Her prediction of Vila's incredibly feeble excuse was closer.
"Well, now that I'm here, I don't suppose you girls would like a bit of company? A little variety? Not that there's anything wrong with..."
"Sort of 'stop me and bi one,' eh?" Dayna asked.
"Oh, all right, Vila," Soolin said. "On one condition." She reached beneath the pillow, which should have triggered Vila's suspicions if he'd been in any condition to harbor any.
At that point, Vila, operating with a very short-term planning horizon, would cheerfully have agreed to slice off his own head with a chainsaw, so he nodded and began removing constricting items of clothing.
"You'll have to take care of both of us," Soolin threatened-or-promised. She opened her hands. Spread out across both her palms was a black leather band, padded inside with red velvet. It snapped into place, in a figure-of-eight-infinity sort of way, around the base of Vila's cock (which now looked like a mnemonic for how to spell "fuchsia"), and pushed his balls forward, pulled even tauter and harder than before.
"Right, then, who's first?" Vila asked.
"Me!" Soolin said, shrugging out of her suit and straddling Vila. He moaned delightedly once he was thoroughly surrounded and embraced: the inside of Soolin felt like a gene splice between a mink coat and a chafing dish of cheese fondue.
Dayna's hand (dusty apricot inside, burnt umber outside) moved into Vila's eyeshot. She began to caress Soolin's breast. Right, me lad, Vila thought. Have a look. You might learn something. He put up a hand and emulated Dayna.
Pulled along by Dayna's arms, Soolin spun all the way around, until she sat with her back to Vila. Dayna leaned over to kiss her, and steadied herself with one hand that, coincidentally, nestled between Vila's legs. Her other hand, coincidentally, found its way to Soolin's clitoris.
Dayna broke the kiss when she felt Soolin start to come. "Do it," she said. "That's it, baby. Sing for me."
"Right, Vila," Soolin said. "You take a smoko, then see what you can do. But remember, as far as Dayna's concerned, she can take cocks or leave 'em. You gotta represent."
Vila, feeling himself in solidarity with the much-maligned Spare Prick at a Wedding, took a breather and watched Dayna and Soolin move from a short lioness-cub tussle to more languorous play.
Then Soolin slid down and drowsed, occasionally reaching out a hand to caress whatever was in range, and Dayna, glancing roguishly over her shoulder, offered an entrancing landscape of haunch.
Vila slid into place as if he were stealing a base. His cock was still hard, somewhat to its disbelief, and he was sensitive enough for each stroke to feel like a flash of purple neon.
The contract says No Overtime, Vila's Phallic Signifier told him. Put a sock in it! he apostrophized Himself. You're getting double time, aren't you?
When Vila left, Tarrant sat down on the bed, which Avon counted as progress. Tarrant kept his hands at his sides, desperately casting his memory back to the FSA Operations Manual. Comprehensive as the Ops Manual was, it did not seem to include a provision for the etiquette of intra-crew voyeurism.
Tarrant's hips surged forward, and he looked down to see Avon's hand planted firmly and proprietorily between his legs.
"Strip," Avon said. "I want you naked." Tarrant might very well have been fooled by the evenness of his voice, if he hadn't felt Avon's heart, stuttering like a machine gun. Avon very much wanted to kiss Tarrant, but refrained--he figured that it would end up like Alexander the Great asking Diogenes if he wanted a nice pressie, only to be told to get out of the light.
Tarrant was about to ask precisely what entitled Avon to give orders. At that juncture, though, to be wanted seemed worthwhile. He was so randy that getting off promised to be a two-man job. Mere masturbation would be as unavailing as trying to haul a seven-foot sofa up a flight of stairs by himself. Stripping seemed like a good idea. At least a unit of blood had rushed to his cock, and he certainly didn't need a tourniquet on it.
Avon dropped his jacket onto Vila's bed, and as soon as Tarrant's shirt came off, he clasped his arms around Tarrant's waist and flicked his tongue against each of the light sprinkling of freckles across Tarrant's shoulders. Delicious, he thought. Like a cappuccino with both cinnamon and chocolate sprinkled on the foam.
He let go long enough for Tarrant to hobble out of his trousers and pants. While Avon was waiting, he thoughtfully moved the table lamp and, as something of an afterthought, took off his own shirt.
("Oh, nice effect," Soolin said later, looking at the leather-clad legs clasping Tarrant's longer, bare limbs.)
A few minutes and a wrenching orgasm later, Tarrant noticed that Avon still took a keen interest in the proceedings. Tarrant thought that Avon was very much mistaken if he thought that Tarrant was going to find out if the stripes went all the way through the Brighton Rock. "Well, I don't suppose Vila has...you know, anything," Tarrant said. "And he's not here, so we can't ask him."
"That's quite all right, I do," Avon said, pulling a couple of sachets of extra-compressed lubricant foam out of one of the pockets inside his jacket.
Tarrant was only mildly surprised. He had already seen Avon produce a razor blade, several half-ounce silver ingots, and a tin of blackcurrant pastilles at various times of need, and he wouldn't have put it past him to come up with a rocket launcher or a roast haunch of hippopotamus and a sauceboat of bread sauce.
Fiddledee! Tarrant thought. I'll think about this tomorrow!
TUESDAY AFTERNOON, A BIT LATER
Soolin rewound the tape, so once again they could see Tarrant, desperately trying to keep his eyes open to watch the viewscreen, surrender to the rapid ministrations of one adept hand on his cock, the other behind his balls, searching out the root.
"Golly!" Dayna said. "Well, that explains men's greater upper-body strength! What did Avon say about a tiger?" (He had just whispered "Let Rome in Tiber melt," as Tarrant said "Aaaah!" very loud and shuddered as drops of cum fountained out and glittered in the lamplight.)
Tarrant, still watching the screen, bent slightly toward the countertop that held the viewscreen and held on to the edge. He was still wearing one ivory wool ribbed sock that had been forgotten in the crush.
"Oooh!" Dayna hummed. "Top! In the name of love! Before you break my...."
"I'll bet this is the first time Avon is glad Tarrant is taller than him," Soolin said (because it does help if whomever you're screwing more-or-less standing up is taller, otherwise you're just swimming against the current).
"For that matter, that's the first time Avon's voice was ever higher than Tarrant's," Dayna notated as the occasional racking gasp turned into a rhythmic counterpoint of grunts and then sustained keening.
"We could have done with a second camera," Soolin said. "Don't get to see much of Avon from this angle." Indeed, all they could see was Avon's hands, tightening down on Tarrant's biceps, and just a bit of his hair as he burrowed his head into Tarrant's shoulder.
Then Avon crumpled downwards onto Vila's bed, and he thought, Dammit, seeing that Tarrant was already getting hard again, even though it was just what he had predicted--counted on, even. In his own case, a moderate-sized Part of Life had regretfully called it a night.
The last few times Soolin had watched the tape, she got distracted toward the end. This time, although she enjoyed Dayna's nibbling her way from the lower slopes of Soolin's left to her right breast, she paid more attention. Unlike so many films she had seen, it didn't seem to suffer from third act problems.
Soolin turned up the soundtrack a little, to hear Avon say "You deserve a chance to reciprocate, but not two knee-tremblers in a row." He lay down on Vila's bed, his head toward the viewscreen, and stretched his arm languorously to the floor to find his jacket. As Soolin remembered from the last time she and Dayna watched the tape, Avon handed Tarrant two more sachets.
On this viewing, though, Soolin noticed the two seconds or so when Avon lifted his head, grinned, and winked at the camera, before burying his face again in one of Vila's pillows.
"Look where the poor soul comes reading"--Hamlet