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of all the stars the loveliest

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“—analysis of paranatural entity, session 1.”

Her voice sounds steady on the recorder, humming away.

“I will begin by establishing verbal contact and consent with the subject.” Pause. “Hello.”

“Hello.” Her subject responds from the exam table, her voice layered and echoing. Then, in Jesse’s voice: “Hey, Emily.”

“Hi.” She can’t help grinning at them, although it’s not very professional. “Um, do you acknowledge that you are participating in these experiments of your own volition, and that all procedures therein have been clearly explained.”

“Yeah, of course.” It’s Jesse speaking for both of them now, engaging where Polaris can’t. “We consent. Thank you for being an ethical mad scientist.”

“Of course.” She flashes them a smile in return, then tries to focus. Establish protocol first and foremost. “Subject is entity EID-19929-A, a manifestation of EID-19929, designated Polaris, in the body of Director Jesse Faden of the Federal Bureau of Control.” And so she is. Director Jesse Faden sitting in her lab isn’t exactly uncommon, but this is different. Today she has agreed to let Polaris take the reins. “Subject appears fully human to the untrained eye. Only notable changes are a slight luminescence in the irises. Subject’s facial expressions do tend to fall slightly outside the range of normal human response, but this is difficult to quantify.” Jesse-Polaris blinks at her. “Subject acknowledges me. With contact established we can proceed with experimentation.”

“In this session I will be observing how the subject reacts to physical stimulus.” This is normal procedure with altered items. Nothing unusual there. She steps closer. “May I touch you?”

Jesse-Polaris is wearing their civilian clothes, their jacket discarded on the exam table. She’s never seen anyone carry themselves so powerfully in jeans and a t-shirt. Jesse always has this aura of confidence, but with Polaris’ presence it becomes something more regal, more detached. They tilt their head toward Emily, patient, waiting.

The first touch is hesitant, more hesitant than it should be coming from a scientist. But it feels like a static shock when she presses her fingertips to their jaw. Not too light, not too firm. Just enough to feel the texture. To test the integrity, to get the barest sense of what’s underneath, (if she could, she would do a full dissection. Instead she contents herself with) her hand trailing along their jawline. Since the day the new Director walked in she’s been fascinated with the shape of Jesse’s jaw, found it strikingly beautiful.

She moves down, pauses at the soft hollow of their neck. “Observing the subject’s breathing.” She feels each steady pulse under her hand like a trapped bird and counts the time in her head. “Note, does subject require oxygen?” Not that she would ever want to choke them, but she is a little curious.

“In prisms there are still unknowns.” Interesting. Their pulse is perfect, steady unchanging number. As she moves her hands down, she lingers on their collarbone. “Peel back the surface layers?” She could swear they smile at her for a moment, just a flash of anticipation, but no. Their face is still.

“Thank you, but that won’t be necessary. At least not at this point.” Emily struggles to keep her voice even, thinking of it. Struggles even more at the fact that she’s now essentially feeling them up through their shirt. If this were a real medical examination she would have to be thorough, here, but she doesn’t know if she can handle that. Instead she says, “Subject shows signs of physiological response to cold. Should I turn the heat on?”

They shake their head no and lean forward slight enough to plausibly be an accident, pushing their chest against her hand. “Do not limit yourself to periphery.”

“Just being careful.” She moves down their ribs, tapping to hear how the space resonates. Their breathing has remained perfectly steady. Gently, she presses at the soft parts of their abdomen, mapping the position of internal organs. Nothing seems rearranged, but what she wouldn’t give for a look inside. “You want to see?” they say, like they read her mind. Has Jesse’s skin always been this smooth, this cold?

Her professional focus now is rapidly slipping away now, too wrapped up in feeling the firm muscle of their abdomen, barely concealed by soft skin. Emily traces their hips, their thighs—even less concealed there, Jesse is unmistakeably strong. She presses her fingers in a little harder. “How does that feel?”

“Strange splendor in the glare.”

“Nothing hurts?”

They shake their head. Emily’s hand drifts over their leg, settles on their inner thigh. “And here?”

“Grow brighter.” She presses harder. “A lens reflects no falsehood.”

“Subject sensation and reflexes seem all in order.” She enunciates for the recording. It sounds jumpy and loud even to her own ears, so she tries to tone it down. “I’m curious how you perceive it, though. Do you feel only touch like a human does?”

Jesse-Polaris is quiet for a moment, thinking. She knows it’s difficult for Polaris to talk with human speech without the benefit of resonance to communicate her meaning. “Nothing obscured cannot be known. Waves ground the world into a new ocean of sand. We see under sea. You want…” They trail off, considering the word, consulting within themself. “You want.”

“You’re fascinating.” Reverence has crept into her voice, into her touches. Whatever knowledge might have been hidden from her before, she’s the only one who gets to know about this. They might be playing, but the feeling of discovery and awe is real. “I’d love to, um, pursue this line of inquiry further.”

“Peel back the surface layers.” They motion insistently to their clothes again, the only hint that the situation is as unbearable for them as it is for Emily.

Her mouth is suddenly very dry. “Yeah. Yes, um, if you’re comfortable with it.”

They stand. And then Emily can only watch as they kick off their shoes and peel the already very tight jeans away from Jesse’s body.

There’s nothing deliberately sexy about it. Just a normal, clinical, mechanical thing—of course, a being from another dimension without a physical body wouldn’t have any concept of a striptease. That’s somehow all the more devastating. She struggles to keep her eyes on their face as they slip their underwear off, utterly casual.

“It is ever on its course.” Jesse-Polaris leans back against the lab table, their legs open in a way that can’t be accidental.

“Proceeding with experimentation,” Emily steps close to them, very close. Her hand back on their thigh, rubbing gentle circles into the muscle there. “Describe the sensation to me, as you perceive it.”

“Beams forth the sudden radiance of its light,” They murmur, their voice eerily steady. “Our azimuth is zero. You want to ask. You want to know. You want to see.“ Emboldened, she lets her hands wander. “Under the skin, fold faceted flesh. Under the glass, the real surface. You find in me what I find in you.”

“Is that so?” Finally, she touches them, just barely, her thumb brushing over their clit. “How does this feel?”

Jesse-Polaris laughs at the question, more fully than Jesse ever laughs on her own. “You want to ask?” Minutely, subtly, they shift their hips against her.

“I’m curious if the subject will respond differently to,” It takes her by surprise, how wet and warm they are, only from her exploratory touches. “Well, sexual stimulus.”

They press even closer to Emily, barely giving her room to move her hand. To push her fingers carefully inside. Their calm finally breaks, their hands shoot up to grip her shoulders to brace themselves. She can feel herself shudder, feels them shudder around her, feels objects around the room shudder too, the sound of papers fluttering around. “Are you doing that?”

“You want this to be true.” They smirk at her, a look that’s purely Jesse.

“Subject struggles to control paranatural abilities when experiencing pleasurable sensation.” Emily says for the benefit of the tape. But that’s an angle she wouldn’t mind exploring a little more.

Jesse-Polaris catches her look. “In you, new angles form foreground.” Their slight smile is still placid, but there’s something playful there too. “You want to see?”

She does, she always does. When they push down on her shoulders, she goes willingly.

Emily never minds being on her knees. Rather than find it uncomfortable, she likes how it centers her on the task at hand. Likes devoting her focus entirely to this. Likes taking her partner apart with all that attention. Going down on someone always seems to reveal something more intimate, more vulnerable—something about the archetypes implied by the act, maybe, but she shouldn’t digress, not now.

…archetypally speaking, though, it’s about service. Showing devotion. Something about the idea of serving on her knees that gets her going, soaking wet and on the edge already even though she’s barely been touched. Sometimes she thinks she could get off just from this, from being on her knees and Jesse telling her how good she is.

They do their share of the work, too, rocking their hips steadily against her. Those strong thighs keeping her in place. She can feel the ways they tense and shudder when she grinds the flat of her tongue against their clit, gives them something to move against. So she repeats the motion again, again, mentally recording the differences in their reactions. It’s not that she sees Jesse as an experiment so much as that scientific curiosity is a permanent part of her thinking. What sound will you make? What’s inside you? What will happen if I do this, if I do that? Good sound, positive feedback—let’s repeat and test the variations.

She licks into them, presses her tongue deep and suddenly they can’t keep quiet. The words spill out of them sounding like nothing but she knows what it means, knows it intimately. Polaris shares her name, her self, everything she can possibly communicate through human words.

“All circumpolar stars appear to move around one center no new you but one in you transmit transcend not a constellation but an asterism the word that describes this is revealed grow brighter around one constant they revolve stella illa quae polaris dicitur…”

Despite their sudden expressiveness, their heartbeat and breathing is still steady, unchanging. Their hand finds a firm grip in the short back of her hair, just this side of hurting. She moans against them when they use it to maneuver her, to hold her still and steady. Ideally, she could stay there forever and let them fuck her face—it feels amazing like this, working her jaw against them—but eventually she has to pull away to breathe. They let her, though their hand still grasps at her hair, pulling and petting. It probably looks a mess.

“You want to know?” They say, tilting her chin up with their other hand. Like this she can really see them, in their full glory, trembling and dripping wet and still utterly in control. The strange blue shimmer in their eyes stands out more with how flushed they are. That same blue light spirals out into the room from them, like a halo in all that red hair. Emily can only nod and try to catch her breath.

They stroke their thumb along her jaw, tenderly. “Polestar.” They say, plainly. “Repeat the word.”

“Polestar,” She echoes.

And with that permission Polaris is in her too, fills the space like air between them. It feels—she should be telling the tape how it feels but she couldn’t possibly.

Emily can still see from her own eyes, from her own body. But her excellent view of them fills also with their vision. Or what one might call vision in Polaris; when she processes the information they see, it turns into something different. Patterns of heat and air currents bloom like infrared flowers. Fractal patterns shimmer across her eyes, communicating intent and, yes, pleasure. Having gained her bearings, she moves to kiss and taste them again, and feels the sensation in her own body. Feels it in her skull like a kind of pleasant static.

Then there’s a glimpse of Jesse’s vision, simultaneously with her own. Her own head, her hands—Jesse’s hands—in her hair. Jesse’s thoughts, too, echoing in her mind, the things she won’t say while Polaris is running the show. That’s good, you’re so good. For me, good for me. Heat washes over her. Her body heavy with sand melting into glass.

There’s too much information. Every action and feeling is doubled, tripled. Sometimes the sweet staticky feeling comes from nothing at all, Polaris playing with her nerves directly. Emily can feel the presence in her body, a thousand phantom touches on her skin follow where it moves. Plucking her like violin strings, sending the resonance humming through her, overwhelming.

She’s gotten messy with her service, imprecise. Their wetness is smeared around her mouth, sticky on Jesse’s thighs. Emily tries to gather herself in the flood of sensation, renews her efforts with new vigor. She feels it all in tandem, the barest press of teeth, her tongue curling precisely around their clit. Is it Polaris moving her or her own impulse? Vaguely, she’s aware that she’s mouthing words against them: Polaris’ mantra. She can feel Jesse’s warning before she—they—

Shatter and convulse and converge. Her mind goes blue-white-blue, tv static, humming, humming into her, humming her apart, resonating.

Time stops, repeats, rewinds, repeats. Emily sees herself walk into the room again, hours ago. She sees the endless white expanse of the astral plane. She sees herself, on the ground, gripping Jesse’s thigh like a lifeline. The melting warmth at the base of her skull is annihilating her awareness of her body as it spreads. Leaving only static in her mind’s eye, static and that blue prismatic pattern she has come to know as Polaris. She clings to the image to keep her centered.

The light bends around and through her. Or—she is the light, and Polaris is the prism bending it? It’s too much and she grasps for Polaris, the only point she can use to orient. Without words, she feels exactly what Polaris is, what she’s trying to tell her. The curiosity. The certainty. The overwhelming love. The absoluteness of it keeps her pinned in place. The light overtakes her.

Awareness comes back to her in the same slow drip. Jesse—and it is Jesse, now, alone—has pulled her up at some point, has been holding her steady through…whatever that was. Her head has dropped, braced against Jesse’s shoulder. Jesse’s hand is still on the back of her head but it’s a soothing touch now, petting the short part of her hair, stroking down her neck.

“I’ve got you,” She’s saying, quiet but still firm with that steady confidence. “There you are, I’ve got you.”

Wwwwwhhhhat.” Emily manages, barely gets the simple word out. “Oh. My god. Thank you.” Her body is unsteady as she feels. That had to be some sort of, what, first contact? Not like she can submit a paper on this, but still. “Thank you, thank you--” She’s rambling, her face buried in Jesse’s hair.

“Anything for my head of research.” Jesse laughs sweetly at the state of her. “Did you enjoy your data?” Then, as if it occurred to her suddenly: “Hey, did you…”

“Maybe?” Did she come? Physically? It’s hard to tell what even happened. “I don’t…”

“Here.” Hand firm on the back of her neck, Jesse pulls her closer, sends a new jolt of heat through her. Maybe she really didn’t come, her body is wound so tight she’s shaking. “Let me?”

It’s almost embarrassing, how easily Jesse’s fingers slide into her. The sudden fullness makes her moan, has her holding on just to stay upright. She won’t last long, can’t possibly endure it. How full she is of them. “Sh, it’s okay.” Jesse is soothing her and she realizes abruptly that all that keening noise is coming from her own mouth. “I’ve got you.”

Jesse’s thumb on her clit, rubbing in slow circles, slow enough to keep her on the edge just a little longer. It’s a different kind of undoing, balancing there for what feels like forever, an eternity until something catches her just right and she falls, coming hard around Jesse’s fingers.

It’s less intense than before. Slow, steady, the contractions and sweet feelings like waves working through her. She rocks her hips, gasps with each gentle pulse. And Jesse is there to ease her through it, holding her close and steady. Emily falls forward against her, face buried in her shoulder. Thinks, absurdly, that her hair smells like the distinct nothingness of black rock dust from the quarry. Familiar in its strangeness.

The familiar feeling of Jesse’s hand on her lower back, petting. “Here—come here.” She guides them down to the floor just before Emily’s legs give up entirely. Her body feels absolutely drained, beyond the normal exertion of sex, and she gives in to the temptation to lean on Jesse.

“Thank you.” The lab floor is definitely not the most comfortable place to cuddle. But for the moment, it’ll do, and it’s a more familiar environment for her anyway. “Really, thank you so much. For indulging me.” They settle into each other, Jesse’s arm around her.

“You say that like it’s no fun for me.” Jesse’s gaze flicks to the side for just a moment, the tell that she’s listening to Polaris. Then she grins. “She liked it too, you know.”

Emily’s brain is starting to click back into gear. She has questions, so many questions—this experience answered a couple and created hundreds more. Jesse’s face is peaceful, her eyes are half closed, and she wonders at everything going on under the surface. There’s so much they could learn by applying what they’ve been doing here—

Or. Or she could calm down for just a minute and enjoy the afterglow.

Emily closes her eyes and nuzzles closer. Just a minute, then she’ll get back to work.

“Hey, Em? Emily?”

“Mm.”

“You really should destroy that tape.”