The Audacity 3
Secret Bonus Special Hidden Chapter
Ch 18.5: How 'bout Them Apples
August and Xan partner up to hunt the glotchburs threatening August's orchard and things get a bit hot and heavy. This scene was cut from the final edition on the recommendation of Beta readers as it doesn't really move the plot forward in any conceivable way and the tone isn't quite right. But hell, I still like it. Here you go!
August was reasonably excited to have Xan for a hunting partner. Not because Xan seemed particularly adept at hunting, but because the last time he had been alone with Xan, they had been distracting a Chaos-possessed Yvonne and rather busy working out that problem. Now, however, the problem they were working out was simple, persistent, but relatively benign. That problem was not glotchburs, though they were on the docket, but sexual tension.
“So,” August began, casually twirling his InfraDin Stick as the pair strolled down a line of apple trees. “I talked with May.”
Xan had been fiddling with an InfraDin, worried that the settings were too high, but he stopped and smiled at May’s name. “Oh yeah? What did she say?”
“Just that you two weren’t lovers which I, gotta say, I find kinda hard to believe,” he said with a laugh that nearly hid how nervous he was.
It wasn’t, Xan had to admit, exactly what he was hoping she would say. Not that he had hoped she would’ve said they were. He was expecting that she’d shared an astute observation with August, or perhaps a quip about their new setting. Maybe even made a pun which he would struggle to understand. He was definitely not expecting her to have said that, though.
“Eugh, yeah. She’s not really into that sort of thing, you know?”
“Uh-huh,” said August. “But you are.”
“Oh yeah! I mean, in general. Not with her, specifically on account of she’s not into that sort of thing.”
“But…” August stopped twirling his InfraDin Stick and began to twist it nervously. He had never had trouble speaking his mind before. Never had trouble coming out and asking for what he wanted, either, but today, surrounded by the glimmering apple trees he loved so much and completely alone with a half-crazed alien whom he would very much like to get to know better, he was struggling.
“August, do you want to zux me or something? Because you’re really throwing off that vibe, lav.” Xan had no trouble with it at all.
August pretended to waffle for a moment, just so he wouldn’t get too disappointed if Xan refused. “Eh, yeah, sure. I’ll try anything once,” he said, downplaying his thirst horribly because the thirst was so horrible.
“Well, it’s a lightyear better than killing glotchburs,” Xan said, tossing the stick into the dirt and dutifully undressing.
“Oh, wow,” August said, following suit in the de-suiting. He had been imagining this moment for some time and never had he expected to have the pleasure of doing it outside in his apple farm. Apples and sex were really all the man needed to live a satisfying life. He had absolutely peaked.
And after they had both peaked, the two lounged beneath the trees, putting off the glotchbur hunt a bit longer, each enjoying a nice, crisp apple.
“Sorry about the eye mushrooms, mate,” August said, thinking that it would make nice small talk.
“Yeah, me too. Listen, if Yve and Ix can’t do anything about this,” he wriggled his hands in front of his face for a moment, “would you please keep an eye out for May? She’s very resistant to making new friends, and sometimes she gets in these really dark moods, and I just want her to be okay, okay?”
“You love her?” August asked. The taboo had been broken between them, and he felt like he could speak again.
“Yeah, I do.”
“Ah, that’s tough,” August said, patting his shoulder. “I once loved a chick who wouldn’t give me the time of day. Nothing I did could make her love me back. Sometimes it’s just like that.”
Xan blinked, confused. “She loves me back,” he said. “August, tell me, because I’ve been confused for a blip about this. On Earth you lot have a concept of love that doesn’t involve sex, right? That is a thing?”
“Yeah, sure. So what, you’re like her brother or something?”
Xan raised his eyebrows, unable to fathom August’s misunderstanding on the matter. It seemed there was some kind of mistranslation happening that he wouldn’t be able to rectify unless he learned German, and he already mixed up the little Spanish and English he knew.
“Not really. Look.” He finished his apple, core and all, in one chomp and grabbed two small sticks off the ground. One was slightly longer than the other and that one, he decided, would represent himself. He held them up. “May and I are life partners. As long as we’re both alive, we’re each other’s anchors.” He brought the sticks together and then, thinking perhaps he could’ve done more with the stick analogy, he tapped them together into a cross shape. Though that looked a bit more sexual than the vibe he was going for, so he brought them back parallel. Why had he grabbed the sticks anyway? He set them down.
“Anchors,” August repeated, graciously ignoring the confusing stick display. “Like…like anchor buttons or like ship anchors?”
Xan sighed. “Oh you larvling zoup-nog,” he said, patting August’s knee fondly. “Alright, would it make more sense to you if I said I was desperately in love with May and had to hold myself back every time I saw her but she just isn’t interested in a sexual or romantic liaison with me so I have to live with the pain of unrequited love?”
“It…would. But that’s not true?”
“No. It’s alright, it really, honestly, and truly is alright. I love her and she loves me and that’s that. I don’t need her to prove it with sexual or romantic acts. Not when I can get that from practically everyone else,” he said with a wink. “Seriously, though, if I go all scourged, and I can’t be that anchor for her, will you do it? Please?”
“Yeah, I’ll try. But how do you befriend someone like that? Half the time, I don’t know what she’s talking about. She’s more alien to me than the actual aliens I know.”
Xan shrugged, crunching into another apple. “Just play along. She likes to do bits.”
“Yeah, bits! You know, slipping into a character, saying things you don’t mean because it’s funny.”
“Is it? I figured it was an Earth thing. Lucy does bits all the time. You did the bit about how you lost your hand! You do bits, and you didn’t even know it.”
August’s once robotic hand had had diode problems from the start. Eventually, Ix had tired of hearing him complain about it and replaced it with a more advanced model. He had nearly forgotten about the starwhale that ate his—no, no that was a bit, he now realized. He had nearly forgotten about slicing off his hand with a cake knife whilst trying to swat a dractifly.
“No! Well, yeah, but everyone knows you don’t mean it.”
Their conversation was interrupted by a malicious shriek somewhere in the distance.
“That sounded bad,” August said, looking for his pants.
“It did. We should go check out whatever it was immediately right now as I’m sure it's urgent,” Xan said, not looking for his pants. In fact, Xan had crawled atop August again and was pushing him back with his lips. August wanted to give in, but he twisted his mouth to the side to gasp.
“Yes, so why are you…”
“I’m doing a bit,” he said, smiling so close to August’s mouth that August only saw it as it carried up to his eyes.
“Shit, can we go again?” August whispered.
“Why wouldn’t we?”
“Are you…still doing a bit?”
Xan sat back. “No…are you?”
“Someone just screamed out in another part of the orchard. May and Aimz might be in trouble!” August said, his head clearing a bit now that Xan wasn’t so close.
“Zuut, we better go find them, then!”
“Uh-huh,” August said, and the pair re-clothed themselves quicker than they had stripped.