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As they arrived at his dorm room at last, Marco was more than a little concerned. Jean was as nervous as he’d ever seen him, and he didn’t have a clue why. It couldn’t be something he’d said or done, could it?

Closing the door behind him, he glanced over at his boyfriend. Jean was trying to pace, but the tiny single room only gave him a few steps to move, which meant he was essentially turning in circles, alternately wringing his hands and rubbing at his forearms. His mouth was compressed into a tight, unhappy grimace; his honey-brown eyes darted about the room, looking anywhere but at Marco.

“Hey.” Moving forward, Marco held out his arms, and as Jean turned toward him, he rested his hands on Jean’s shoulders, eased closer until he could bend and touch his forehead to Jean’s. Jean didn’t embrace him in turn but didn’t jerk away either, and as they stood there some of the stiffness seeped out of him, little by little, until at last he sighed, almost inaudibly, his shoulders loosening under Marco’s hands.

“What’s wrong?” Marco murmured. When Jean hesitated, he shifted to touch his lips to Jean’s forehead instead.

“I...,” Jean breathed, and Marco’s heart twinged at his obvious distress. “I gotta tell you something. Okay?”

“Okay.” That didn’t sound like it was his fault. Something about Jean, then? But when he went to trail a hand down Jean’s arm in order to take hold of his, to lace their fingers together, Jean flinched away, and he was uncertain again. Jean huffed out a tense breath, then grabbed Marco’s hand himself and tugged him toward the bed. Jean flumphed onto the mattress and then scrambled to rearrange himself into a sitting position, while Marco sat more carefully on the edge of the bed, giving Jean a bit of space.

As Jean fidgeted from having his legs curled under him to one leg drawn up to sitting cross-legged, Marco watched, fond patience mingling with his concern. It was far from the first time he’d seen Jean flustered and at a loss for words. Even the very first time they’d met—it had been in the spring of Jean’s freshman year and of his sophomore one, and it had involved a real-life anime cherry blossom moment of eyes meeting eyes across a campus walkway that ended with Jean riding his bike into a lamp post and Marco frantically dashing to his rescue. He had to suppress a laugh at the memory. Shy, awkward acquaintance and interest had turned into growing familiarity as they talked online over the summer, and then into a deepening relationship the following year. Another year on, and here they were, and there was no doubt in Marco’s mind, absolutely none, that Jean, with all his stubbornness and pessimistic pragmatism, his sharp wit, his brash, sometimes too-blunt exterior that hid a painfully sensitive inner self, his fierce pride and the incredibly sweet and giving tenderness that he was capable of once all those barriers came down—Jean was the one for him. Now and always. He didn’t even care that their relationship, for all its deep emotional intimacy, hadn’t progressed physically any farther than passionate make-outs and occasional, brief moments of groping and grinding. One of Jean’s earliest confessions to him had been that he wasn’t ready for sex and wanted to wait, and Marco was fine with that. He did wonder why—had wondered for a while if Jean might be trans, but from what minimal contact he’d had there was definitely a substantial dick down there, and it didn’t seem to be artificial. But in any case, whether it was body issues or past trauma or some other reason, it wasn’t his business until Jean decided it was time to share it with him.

Maybe that was what all this was about....

“Okay,” Jean said, breaking Marco’s train of thought. Jean scrubbed his hands through his hair, then rubbed them nervously on his thighs. “Okay,” he repeated. “This...this is going to sound totally weird, and you’re going to think I’m crazy, but I have to tell you—I shoulda told you before, but—” Wincing, Jean bit his lip, then gave a twitchy little shrug before going on in a rush, “And, and, whatever you think, you can’t tell anyone, all right? This is my biggest secret—literally no one else knows. Not my parents, not anyone.” Jean stopped short and fixed Marco with a penetrating stare, equal parts challenging and frightened.

“I promise,” Marco assured him, smiling, trying to pour all his love for Jean into the expression, while his heart ached on Jean’s behalf. It hurt to see Jean so scared. And of what? “I swear to god, I won’t ever tell anyone.”

Jean studied him as if looking for any microscopic speck of untruth, then nodded shortly. “Okay. I—” he drew in a deep breath, then let it out explosively, “—have tentacles.”

There was a beat of silence as Marco waited for the other shoe to drop. “Tentacles,” he said at last. It occurred to him that the smile now stuck on his face, caught somewhere between reassurance and disbelieving laughter, possibly looked a bit creepy, and he let it slip into a more serious expression. “...really?” Jean nodded again, a tight jerk of his head, his eyes avoiding Marco’s, and his obvious distress gave Marco a flicker of doubt, made him question his initial certainty that this had to be an elaborate joke. Jean was just not that good an actor. “Um...where...?” Jean made a vague gesture at his armpits, and Marco frowned. Jean had been shirtless around him many times. “I’ve never seen....”

“I can kinda make them go in and out—urgh!” Jean clamped his hands to his head again. “As if this wasn’t enough like a bad hentai,” he muttered. Marco stifled another laugh at the inadvertently suggestive image, and Jean glanced up, his gaze hot and conflicted: annoyance and frustration, fear and a fragile glimmer of hope that seemed to grow ever so slightly stronger as he stared at Marco. Lowering his eyes again, he murmured, “Do you want to see them?”

Marco blinked, and then nodded. “Yeah. Sure.” He thought he sounded calm and confident—he hoped so—but inside he was uneasy. Either they were about to have a genuine Cthulhu moment, or his boyfriend had some very serious mental issues. Either way, he told himself, trying to settle the anxious jump in his pulse, they were going to get through this.


Jean stripped off his shirt, and despite his nervousness Marco couldn’t help taking a moment to appreciate that lean, gracefully muscular body. Kicking off his shoes and changing position yet again to sit back on his heels, facing Marco, Jean closed his eyes, either gathering courage or focusing his attention. And then—

Oh...oh, shit.

Just in front of each arm, an area of Jean’s skin rippled and then began to bulge. Small lumps at first, they expanded alarmingly, widening, lengthening, the rate of growth increasing until they seemed to flow outward into long, sinuous shapes—two in the front and another two, Marco now saw, in the back, becoming visible behind Jean’s body as they unfurled. They moved—they all moved, twitching and curling, lifting, and Marco jumped, reflexively pulling back.

“I-It’s okay! They’re not—I’m not going to do anything to you!” Marco couldn’t take his eyes off all that squirming. The front two tentacles twisted and writhed about each other like anxiously wringing hands before Jean grabbed them and pinned them to his legs; the rear ones drew in behind his back, mostly out of sight, although Marco could still glimpse an occasional movement. “I know, I’m sorry, this is really, really weird,” Jean blurted, “but they’re harmless, I swear, I’m not gonna—I’m not gonna suck your brains out with them or, or—”

“Can I, uh...can I...touch them?” At that tentative interruption, Jean looked up, startled, and his face, scrunched with desperate misery, gradually softened into astonishment.

“Y-Yeah.” Shifting his grip to clutch one tentacle in both hands, Jean extended the other one hesitantly toward Marco. Steeling himself, Marco reached out, brushed his fingertips against it—it jerked, and he flinched back. “Shit—sorry!”

“N-No, it’’s okay.” His heart pounding, Marco struggled against his instinctive fear. It was okay; he could do this; it was Jean. It was still Jean. He could do this. Yes. He made himself hitch a tiny bit closer, drew a deep breath, and held out his hand again, palm up this time. Jean looked warily at it, then up at him, before reaching that tentacle out once more and laying it, very slowly, very carefully, across Marco’s palm.

Oh. It was warm, and dry, and soft—not squishy but slightly yielding, like flesh—like firm flesh, muscle, of course, what else would it be made out of? Marco realized he was holding his breath, and let it out; the tip of the tentacle quivered, but it lay still. Its weight in his hand felt dreamlike, unreal, but it was in fact real. It was part of Jean. And...not so scary?

Really, not.

As Marco relaxed, bit by bit, he was able to notice more details. The tentacles were longer than Jean’s arms—the way they were curled, he couldn’t quite tell by how much—but more slender, tapering to a tip a little thicker than Marco’s index finger. Their skin tone matched the rest of his body except for some very faint, irregular spots, like a jaguar’s rosettes, but more widely spaced. There weren’t any suckers; the skin was smooth and seemed entirely human in texture. Shyly Marco laid his other hand on top of the tentacle, traced his fingers over it, and it was really just like touching Jean’s arm or leg, except for the lack of body hair.

Jean hiccupped out a shaky laugh. “You’re...really okay with this?” he mumbled.

“Mmhmm.” Marco stroked the limb a little more assuredly, and when it flexed underneath his fingers it surprised him for a moment, but the movement felt natural. Slowly the tentacle shifted, sliding across his palm, curling under and then around his hand until it encircled it. Smiling at the gesture, Marco touched the questing tip with his thumb, then gasped as it split into three slim appendages, like tiny fingers. They wrapped around Marco’s thumb, two from one side and one from the other, and held onto it firmly. “Oh!”

“Oops.” Jean tensed; the tentacle around Marco’s hand stiffened. “That too weird?”

“No!” Marco laughed, struck by a peculiar delight. It was sort of like having one’s finger gripped in a baby’s fist—which was a weird description to use in relation to one’s boyfriend, but still. “It’s...cute.”

“Cute,” Jean muttered. “’re something else, aren’t you?” The rasp in his voice caught Marco’s attention, the strain of barely contained emotions, and he glanced up at Jean’s face. Jean was staring fixedly down at the bed covers, his expression taut, his jaw set and his brows drawn painfully tight, as if he was strung near to the breaking point. Old grief, maybe—disbelief—the shattering of a long-held, lonely secret, and then, as Marco was just starting to open his mouth to say something, Jean’s eyes flew wide. A hot blush bloomed in his face. “Ah!”

“Jean?” Marco asked, a little worried by the sudden change, and another short, breathy laugh burst out of Jean.

“No, sorry, okay,” he babbled through a borderline hysterical grin. Raking a hand through his hair, he went on a little more coherently, “So this is—there’s, like, a sense thing. In there.” The fingerlets wriggled open briefly, then cuddled up around Marco’s thumb again. “It’s kind of like taste, kind of like touch, but not really—its, it’s different, I don’t know how to describe it.” Jean’s flood of words faltered, and his blush intensified. “I’ve never touched another person like that,” he mumbled. His eyes shuttled aside, avoiding Marco’s. “You...‘taste’ really good.”

Marco stared for a long moment, then leaned forward, delicately catching Jean’s chin and turning the other’s averted face back toward him. Jean’s eyes widened again, then closed as Marco leaned farther, touched his lips to Jean’s, once, a second time, more lingeringly, before barely withdrawing. His hand stayed where it was, fingers grazing Jean’s cheek. “You taste good too,” he murmured, smiling.

How are you even—” Jean’s voice broke, and Marco saw brightness welling in his eyes as he fought back tears. “How can you be so okay with all this!”

Marco hmmed. “You’ve been like this for as long as I’ve known you, right?”

Warily Jean nodded. “Yeah. They, uh, came out when I was twelve,” and Marco could just imagine how horrifying that must have been, at that age, and apparently without anyone to confide in or turn to for help, but he dragged his thoughts away from imagining it and refocused on the present.

“Then nothing’s changed,” he said with quiet certainty. “You’re still the same Jean that I fell in love with. I’m just learning something new about you. That’s all.”

Jean’s face crumpled, just a little, his mouth quivered, and then he reached for Marco, dragged him up (with both hands and the one tentacle still wrapped around his hand) until they were both kneeling on the bed—kissed him, long and achingly and emphatically, chasing each breath, each movement of Marco’s lips with his own. Marco sank into the changing rhythm of those kisses, now fierce, now slow and exquisitely tender, his hands cupping Jean’s face, thumbs wiping away the occasional trickle of dampness. When the kissing trailed off at last, he sighed his relief that it seemed as though Jean would be all right now, his contentment at their continuing closeness, with Jean’s arms wrapped around his shoulders and his waist, Jean’s hands smoothing over his front, stroking down his spine...wait. Blinking, he counted limbs, and then stared at Jean.

“It’s not too much?” Jean asked, still tentative, and Marco smiled again, shaking his head.

“It’s never too much,” he murmured. It actually felt really nice, being embraced—enfolded—like this, by two arms and four tentacles. Jean’s hands were actually on his chest, so that was a tentacle curving around his ass—not salaciously, just with a gently possessive familiarity—and one about his waist, and two more twining about his shoulders and up to cradle his head, their fingerlets combing through his hair. He chuckled softly. “My hair doesn’t taste good, does it?”

Jean grinned. “Everything about you tastes good.” The smirk faded, softened into a look of reflective wonder, as one tentacle left Marco’s hair to trail gently down his face. The fingerlets opened outward, flowerlike; they splayed against his skin, brushing over his cheek bone, then at the corner of his jaw. It felt like fairy kisses.

“Thank you,” Jean said, a trace of pain passing over his face along with the gratitude.

Pulling Jean a little closer, Marco swayed, rocking them from side to side. “All this time,” he sympathized, guessing at the source of Jean’s distress. “And you couldn’t tell anyone.”

“Who could I tell? My parents? I mean, if they knew something they hadn’t told me—I tried to drop some hints to them, like, ‘Hey, Mom, hey, Dad, I’m not adopted, am I?’ or ‘Is there anything I should know, like, medically about myself?’ But they just thought I was being weird.” He made a cross, unhappy face. “And if I sprang it on them, what if they freaked the shit out? What if they threw me out of the house, or tried to turn me over to scientists or something—” his voice rose sharply, cracking again, “—’cause you know, I don’t even know what I am, an alien, or a mutant, or, or—”

“Shh. Shh,” Marco soothed, stroking Jean’s hair until some of his tension eased. “It’s okay. You’re you. Right?”

Jean swallowed tightly. “I couldn’t tell my friends, either,” he forced out at last. “I wanted to—I was going to, and then...on the way to school that morning, I saw these bullies hassling a kid. There wasn’t even anything wrong with him, he was just kinda geeky-looking. And I thought, no—no way. I can’t. I’m too different. I’m way, way more different than that guy is. Even if it’s my friends...I’m just too strange.” He leaned more heavily against Marco, burying his face in Marco’s shoulder. “People don’t like what’s strange.”

“Well, I do.” Marco pulled Jean upright so he could look into his face again. “Because I like you. So you can be just as strange as you want to be.”

Jean’s eyebrow quirked, a smile flickering across his mouth as if in spite of himself. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.” Cupping his hand around the tentacle by his face, Marco turned his head, pressed his lips to its side—caressed it soothingly with his thumb when it quivered, then kissed it again. As he turned back to see Jean’s reaction, the tentacle curled in his hand, and the tip brushed across his lips, the tiny fingers tracing their curves, at first all together, then parting once more to flutter across them individually. Jean’s eyes were wide with wonder, with incredulity and an aching, pleading yearning that melted Marco’s heart. With tender playfulness, Marco kissed the fingerlets—kissed at them, they were hard to catch, but then Jean responded, pressing the tentacle to his mouth a little more firmly, plucking ever so gently at his bottom lip. Parting his lips, Marco let a couple of fingerlets slip inside and suckled on them, flirted at them with his tongue as they wiggled. With a low gasp, Jean slid his tentacle a little farther into Marco’s mouth, and the third fingerlet joined the other two; they closed around his tongue, kneading and stroking it as the tentacle flexed between his lips—so weirdly sensual, wow, but it was doing something for him, all right, kindling his excitement, waking a storm of butterflies in his stomach and a familiar, pleasurable tightening in his groin. He answered the fingerlets’ movements, his tongue pushing eagerly into their grip—and Jean cried out, his whole body jerking, his back arching as if in the spasm of a fierce electric shock.

“Jean!” The tentacle left a trail of saliva down Marco’s jaw as it slid from his mouth. He grabbed Jean, supporting him before he could topple backwards. Jean was breathing in sharp, rapid pants, mouth open, chest heaving, his eyes staring blankly up at the ceiling. He seemed dazed, but when Marco pulled him upright, he was aware enough to grab onto Marco’s shoulder with one hand and hang on. He leaned heavily on Marco, head bowed, shuddering as the stiffness gradually left his body. “Jean! What’s wrong?” Marco went to tilt Jean’s head up and gasped as his fingers touched Jean’s face. “You’re so hot! Are you okay? What happened?” It felt like a raging fever, and his throat tightened in panic. Did he dare try to get Jean to a doctor? “W-What should I do...?”

“A-ah.” Jean’s low, throaty sigh at least seemed to mean he was responsive; Marco hung on it, anxiously waiting for more, and wasn’t disappointed. “Marco.” Jean’s grip on his shoulder tightened, and Jean’s tentacles, which had all fallen slack, stirred. He lifted his head to meet Marco’s gaze—the flush had returned to his face, and his pupils were blown so wide that his eyes were like wells into endless dark water. “Marco,” he breathed. “I wanna do it with you.”

“...what?” Going from terrifying convulsion and near collapse to a come on made absolutely no sense to Marco (although considering the way his dick twitched, it apparently had no problems with the idea). At his obvious bewilderment, Jean’s face contorted with frustration and annoyance.

Sex, Marco, sex—I want to have sex with you!” Breathing hard again after his outburst, he glared up at Marco with angry defiance, a thin seep of desperation creeping into his expression as well.

“You really want that?” God knew he wanted Jean—had wanted him from the beginning, still wanted him, extra appendages and all—but he hesitated, too used to Jean’s reluctance and a little worried by the sudden change, by the possibility that Jean might be delirious or something. Reaching out, he gingerly cupped his hand against Jean’s cheek. “You’re ready? Because if you’re not....”

Jean’s breath fluttered, trembling against his wrist. “I’ve wanted you for so long,” he murmured. “I’ve wanted you since I first saw you—all this time I’ve thought about you, imagined you,” Jean’s voice rose, half laughing, half sobbing, until it broke, “I’ve watched so much gay porn and wished that it was you and me.” Shaking his head, he looked up at Marco again, his face taut, his eyes brilliant with urgency. “Please, Marco. I know I’m a freak, but—”

Marco pressed his fingers to Jean’s lips, startling him to silence. “Shh.” Removing them, he bent to replace them with his mouth, just a brief, tender touch before he drew back. “You don’t have to use that word. You’re not a—that’s not who you are to me.” The word was ugly; he didn’t even want to have it in his mouth, let alone use it to refer to Jean. Jean, who was beautiful to him. His gaze traced Jean’s face, his sharp brows and even sharper eyes, the long sweep of his cheek, the strong lines of his jaw, the contrasting colors and textures of his hair, before settling to hold Jean’s gaze again. “If it’s what you want, then yes.” Marco’s mouth curved into a soft smile. “I want to give you everything you want.”

Jean let out an almost soundless moan as Marco kissed him again, stretched up to return the kiss more forcefully, responding to Marco’s offering with quivering need. Marco shifted his hands down to curl around Jean’s sides, to graze his thumbs along Jean’s hipbones as he drew the two of them closer to each other, the kiss deepening with their proximity, their mouths and bodies fitting together, moving together—and Jean jerked away from Marco with a bitten-off nnf! His face screwed up in discomfort or pain, and he hunched over, one hand pressed to his groin.

“Jean?” What now, Marco wondered, and just how worried should he be? “Are you...can I do something?” Jean shook his head, sucked in a breath, then shook it more emphatically. His other hand was still on Marco’s shoulder; its grip tightened as he pulled himself a little more upright, grimacing. “I don’t know what—”

“Wait, okay?” After taking another moment to gather himself, Jean gave a shaky laugh, with far more mortification than humor in it. “Okay, so—so part of why I told you instead of just, you know, hiding all this forever, is that—I have more. Down—” He nodded jerkily toward his crotch. “And, uh, I don’t always have such good control of them, so—” His expression tensed again; he bit his lip, clutching at himself more tightly. The spasm, or whatever, passed; he breathed heavily, then gave Marco an unhappy, shifty-eyed look. “I know this is really a fucking lot to deal with,” he muttered hopelessly, turning his gaze away.

“That’s the reason you didn’t want to have sex before.” It made sense; Marco figured that he probably wouldn’t have dealt too well with surprise tentacles. There would have been some screaming for sure. Jean nodded, sighing. “The only reason.” Jean nodded again. “Then there’s nothing stopping us now, is there?” Marco laid his hand over Jean’s, pressing, kneading gently at the hard bulge beneath their fingers. Jean gasped, gaping at him open-mouthed, arched into the touch—something surged under Jean’s jeans, bunching and thrusting out against the constraining fabric, and he crumpled forward again, mashing his forehead against Marco’s chest with a moaning growl.

Uhn...’s not much fun with fucking pants on,” he rasped.

“So let’s take them off.” Jean must have been in pretty dire need—he didn’t even hesitate before rolling onto his back and grappling with button and zipper. As he wrestled them open, Marco grabbed the waistbands of his jeans and boxers, tugging them both down as Jean lifted his hips. He had an instant, as Jean’s dick sprang free to bounce against his stomach, to realize Jean was endowed. And then Jean’s tentacles erupted, boiling out from his crotch in a twisting, roiling, seething mass as Jean cried out. Marco jumped back in spite of himself, one arm raised in instinctive self-defense. Jean fell back onto the bed, one hand covering his face as he groaned in relief, then shifting aside just enough to let him peek at Marco.

Slowly, still gathering his wits, Marco reached out and began working Jean’s pants down the rest of the way, studying the tentacles as he did so. They had calmed and lay sprawled over Jean’s thighs and stomach, still shifting and curling restlessly, but without violence. There were four of them, nestled into the vee of his groin, partially surrounding his dick, which jutted among them like the stamen of some extremely unlikely flower. They were shorter than the upper tentacles but still a good couple of feet long; there was a little hair growing on the bases, but the rest of their length was smooth, not spotted like the others but faintly flushed with red.

“Are we still good?” Jean asked.

Looking up, Marco met Jean’s gaze—worried and at the same time exhausted with worrying after so many checks and revelations—and managed to dredge up a smile. He got Jean’s pants off over his feet at last and let them fall to the floor, then shifted forward. All right, so it was a little disturbing but not too bad—it was just a matter of getting used to things, he told himself. Slotting his leg between Jean’s, he leaned in carefully; the tentacles lifted to brush against his stomach, and he shivered at the not-unpleasant touch. He pressed closer until his thigh rubbed against Jean’s erection, eliciting a gasp, a convulsive movement of Jean’s hips. “Is this all right?” Marco asked, conscious of the tentacles squirming beneath him. “I’m not squishing them?”

“Nah. They’re sensitive, but not that delicate.” Breathlessly Jean hitched up into him again, and he answered with a slow grind, relishing Jean’s ecstatic reaction. Bending down, he covered Jean’s parted lips with his own, a kiss that deepened as they rocked against each other, Jean responding to him with a passionate abandon that left every kiss they’d ever shared before in the dust. Jean’s hands—and tentacles—were on him again, his hips and thighs, his back, his chest and arms, too many caresses to count. His heart throbbed with desire, with an ache of adoration, as he shifted to kiss at the corner of Jean’s mouth, along the line of his jaw to his throat...Jean smelled really good, he noted briefly, before he was distracted by a tugging at his shirt, followed a wriggling slide of skin against skin. Jean’s upper tentacles had slipped beneath the shirt, both in front and in back, and as Marco lifted his head to look at Jean, Jean returned his gaze with a lecherous grin. Smiling back at him, Marco sat up and stripped his shirt off. He lingered like that, letting Jean’s hungry gaze rove over him, arching with a sharp catch of breath as Jean’s tentacles ghosted across his bare chest and stomach, until Jean finally snorted in impatience, twined two tentacles behind his head and shoulders, and pulled him down.

Chuckling, he buried his face in Jean’s neck again. There, that scent—how had he never noticed it before? It smelled...floral?...but not cloying; it had a subtle, rich complexity with a bright top note that teased at him, flickering in and out of his perception as he tried to identify it. As he licked and sucked at Jean’s neck, the fragrance seemed to become stronger, rising from the dampened skin. Mysterious, exquisite, it enticed him, filled his senses, seemed to pour a scintillating light into his brain and down along his nerves, while at the same time he found himself ever more aware of Jean beneath him, Jean’s heat, the taste of his skin and sweat, the moans resonating in his chest, the way his body bucked up to meet Marco’s as they thrust against each other with greater urgency. Marco groaned, panting, as he kissed his increasingly frantic way down Jean’s throat, onto his chest, across to where arm and tentacle both met his body—ah! that scent again, stronger, slightly muskier but recognizable, and he moaned as he licked along the edge of Jean’s armpit, nuzzled into the dark hair there, turned his head to mouth at the tentacle’s base. Jean gave an almost plaintive cry, lifting up into Marco, Jean’s lower tentacles coiling around his thighs, tightening as if trying to pull him even closer, probing and curling in between his legs until they rolled up against his balls, pressed into that spot behind them—he yelped, starting, before his hips began to rock without his volition, thrusting back in answer to that gentle but relentless prodding, sparks flaring across his vision at the stimulation, at the sweet pleasure-pain of friction as he ground in a jolting rhythm against Jean’s leg—and oh god, oh god, his pants were way the fuck too tight.

F-Fuck!” Lurching up onto his knees, he clawed at the fastenings of his pants, grunting in desperation. The air was cold after the fever-burn of Jean’s skin; it left him feeling raw and bereft. Hazed with lust and struggling to get naked without tumbling headfirst off the bed, he didn’t realize until he was standing up and starting to shuck off the pants that there were damp patches all over them. On his stomach too—he ran his hand across it and wondered vaguely at the wetness, as clear as sweat but thicker.

“Sorry. They do that when I’m, uh....” Awkwardly Jean gestured at his crotch again, and Marco noted how the tips of those lower tentacles glistened, gleaming like the thick head of Jean’s cock. And he didn’t know what Jean was apologizing for—so his pants had gotten a little moist, who cared, and it was an amazing sight, so enticing that his mouth almost watered at it, those supple limbs stirring like a sea anemone in a current, yearning blindly toward him in a way that made his stomach twist with excitement. And more—the lithe curves of the upper tentacles framing the sharper angles of Jean’s body, his sloped shoulders, the shadows lying along his collarbones, the way his torso tapered to the jutting ridges of his hipbones, all that spare, toned, delectable flesh. Jean’s eyes, bright and a little glazed and burning for him; Jean’s mouth, flushed with kisses, wet with promise. The spots on the upper tentacles had darkened to an almost shimmering gold-bronze; more spots, these smaller and closer together, had appeared on the sides of Jean’s neck, trickling down onto his chest and upper arms. So gorgeous, the whole of Jean and every last, single part, that Marco just stared, lost and swimming in desire, in him, until Jean laughed for real, for the first time since they’d come to Marco’s room, a wicked, crackling cackle. “Marco! Dude. Your pants.

“Huh...uh!” Booted back to awareness, Marco kicked off the rest of his clothes. When he glanced up again, he saw Jean reaching out for him, and, beaming his delight, he stretched out his arms to let Jean’s tentacles wrap around them and tug him back toward the bed. He fell across Jean’s legs, sudden laughter spilling out of him, a giddiness that puffed away like a soap bubble as he realized how close he now was to those lower tentacles.


Swiveling, he stretched out along Jean’s legs, his gaze fixed on the tentacles. Carefully he caught one in his hand and studied it with rapt fascination, felt the weight of it, the throb of a pulse, the way it thickened and thinned as it flexed. Bringing it to his mouth, he ran his tongue up the twitching tip, almost reverently. It tasted—

Sweet. He’d expected salt, like precome, but this was sweet, astoundingly so—sweet and light and so good. He slurped along the tentacle again, took the tip into his mouth and suckled on it. There was no hole or slit; the fluid seemed to seep directly through the skin—through pores?—it tasted vaguely citrusy, and maybe that the part of Jean’s scent that he hadn’t been able to identify—or maybe not—and any further curiosity was swept away by the sheer ecstasy of it, the feel of the firm but limber tentacle in his mouth, the heavenly liquid pooling on his tongue. Moaning, he swallowed, drinking Jean down in short, urgent gulps, and Jean’s rumbling groans of pleasure sent answering shudders through him. The aching need between his legs seemed to intensify with each sip, throbbing and pulsing furiously, but even the almost-pain of it was welcome; he loved the thought that his arousal was building with every mouthful, growing as he took in more of Jean’s essence, more, more, more!

Something blundered up against his cheek: another tentacle, practically dripping. Releasing the one he’d been working on, he pounced on the newcomer and stuffed it into his mouth, sucking even harder, and was rewarded with a renewed tide of bliss. Oh, these waves washing through him, flooding him, sweeping him higher, higher, away, right out of himself—the other tentacles squirmed eagerly against him, smearing his face, his hair, until he took each of them in turn, drowning himself in this paradise of nectar, drunk on sensation yet endlessly craving more: Jean’s taste, Jean’s smell, here where it was strongest of all, the slick sweat of their desire, the hot, electric tingle that seemed to run everywhere beneath his skin but most especially where the two of them lay pressed against each other. Nothing else existed for him: no world but their bodies, Jean’s and his; no words, just the incoherent animal grunts and whimpers that fell from him in his hunger; no imperative but to take pleasure, and by taking give—give until Jean was half crying out himself, low ah!s escaping him, slowly rising in pitch, his fists knotting in the bed covers, his hips and legs jerking beneath Marco. And he didn’t want to stop, oh god, never wanted to stop—

With a wrenching effort, he lifted his head at last, licking his lips and panting for much-needed breath. Dazed, he stared at the tentacles that swayed before him. They had contracted at some point, becoming slightly shorter but at the same time thicker. The very tips had darkened, flushed with blood and swollen into pluglike shapes, and Marco stared at them, his tongue still lolling out of his mouth, half forgotten.

Could he have one of those in his ass?

More than one?

All of them?

“Jesus, Marco,” Jean gasped. “You’re killing me, man. Your mouth...s-so fuckin’ good.” Reaching down between them, he shoved the tentacles out of the way and gripped his dick, giving it a couple of quick pumps, hissing with desperate relief at his own touch. “H-Here. What about this?”

Wide-eyed, Marco gazed at the vision of Jean’s cock standing up before him, the length and girth of it, hard and slick and oh fuck yes, then lunged for it, pulling it from Jean’s fingers to lave his tongue all about and over the head as Jean yipped in startled pleasure. There, there was the salt, and it was perfect, perfect, mingling with and complementing the sweetness, part of the many-layered flavors and scents and wonders that made up Jean, that he wanted to discover, to revel in, to roll around in forever and ever. Whimpering, he mouthed at the head, at the shaft, frantic licks and sucking kisses as he tried to taste every inch of it, buried his face in Jean’s balls to kiss and breathe him in as his hand rode Jean’s cock fast and hard, make him feel good, make him feel so good. Ah, the tentacles twining about his head, keeping him close, urging him on, leaving wet tracks as they writhed against his arms and shoulders, the pretty, pretty noises Jean made as Marco raced his tongue up the shaft again and again, tracing each vein, circling the underside of the head—his own groin tightened again, his stomach contracted, a spasm of lust and all-consuming hunger, and he closed his mouth over the end of Jean’s cock, nursing at it feverishly. Not enough, even with Jean’s gulping moans telling him that it was good, Jean’s fingers coming through his hair, sending sparks of ecstasy through him, and he bobbed his head, taking more, more, his jaw straining at the unaccustomed stretch—not enough, and as he tried to go down faster, to cram the entire thing into him, he gagged violently, choking.

“Whoa, easy!” Jean pulled him off, and he whined in protest before a coughing spasm overtook him. When it passed, he looked blearily up at Jean. Jean was regarding him with an odd mix of awe and adoration, hot desire and tender, affectionate amusement.

“Holy shit. Look at you,” Jean murmured. One of his upper tentacles stroked Marco’s face, wiping away some of the slick the lower ones had left behind. “’re a crazy hot mess, aren’t you?”

“Uhhn...Jean....” Need pounded through him like thunder, blinded and dazed him like sheet lightning whiting out the sky. All he could see was Jean, his Jean; all he could feel was the craving that yearned to be fed. “Jean...I need you...t’fuck me.”

“Wha—Marco!” Jean put a hand on Marco’s chest as Marco crawled on top of him to straddle his hips. With a groan, Marco rocked forward against Jean, and Jean caught his breath. “Hey—”

“Please, Jean...please.” Marco bent forward to kiss Jean’s throat again, moaning as his lips brushed the skin. He nuzzled into it, momentarily lost in bliss, before Jean unceremoniously pushed him backward.

“Wait.” Jean was staring at the tip of an upper tentacle, the one that wiped at Marco’s face. He swiped its parted fingerlets through the wetness that coated a lower tentacle and then frowned down at them as they closed and opened. “It’s different,” he muttered, and Marco was puzzled at first, before he realized that Jean was probably talking about the taste. The thought of Jean tasting his own fluids—the image of him exploring himself, pleasuring himself, tentacles interweaving and stroking each other, wrapping around his cock—sent a new thrill shivering through Marco, and he leaned forward again, rolling his hips against Jean’s as he pressed Jean slowly back against the mattress, humming his longing before bending to tongue and kiss at Jean’s shoulder—

“Marco, stop!” Jean fended him off with arms and tentacles, sitting up and shoving him back until he was off Jean’s lap, kneeling between Jean’s legs instead. Marco trembled with denial, aching with the desire to reach out, to wrap himself around Jean again, but the command in Jean’s words held him frozen. Gaze abstracted, Jean pressed another upper tentacle to the side of his neck, one place and then another, his expression worried, almost distraught. “We can’t do this,” he whispered, then scowled fearsomely at Marco. “And don’t give me the puppy eyes!”

“But whyyy?” Marco whined. He wanted to paw at Jean like a frustrated—yes, puppy—and with some shred of restraint he clenched his hands in the bed covers instead.

“I’m doing something to you.” Well, obviously—Marco looked pointedly down at his own dick, flushed and straining, then stared with naked longing at Jean’s cock, but Jean didn’t seem to notice. Instead he sighed heavily, rubbing at his temple.

“I think...when I tasted your saliva, something happened to me, remember? I think it, it altered my biochemistry or whatever. It changed something in me. And now it’s affecting you.” He met Marco’s gaze, and the pain in his eyes jolted Marco with an answering pang. “This isn’t like you, Marco,” Jean murmured. One tentacle uncurled to caress Marco’s cheek, and he leaned worshipfully into the touch. “You are so high right now.” Jean’s voice quavered with love and wretched misery as he shook his head. “I can’t do this with you. Not when you’re like this.”

The sight of Jean’s distress cleared Marco’s mind a little, let him realize just how hazed he indeed was. A hot mess, as Jean had said. couldn’t be that bad, could it? Not when all it meant was pleasure and closeness. And love, all-embracing love.

“Jean....” He hadn’t noticed how wrecked his voice was. He licked his lips and tried again. “I...I get it. I understand. said...remember how you said you wanted me from the very beginning?” Jean gave a scant nod, watching him warily. “I’ve wanted you too. Always. Long before this.” He laughed, the sound weak and raspy. “Yeah, you’re right. I’m...pretty high right now. But it doesn’t change that.” He leaned toward Jean, just a little, careful not to touch, to cross the boundary that Jean had drawn. “I want you,” he breathed. “I love you, Jean. And I won’t regret anything that happens. Please.” Gazing into Jean’s eyes, so dark, so uncertain, he willed his whole soul to be open to them so that Jean would see, so that he would know. “Please. Let me give myself to you.”

He knew just how urgently Jean wanted him, knew it not only from Jean’s physical reactions but by some inward sense, rooted deep into his brain—maybe it was carried by Jean’s scent, by whatever pheromones were calling out to him. And as he saw the cracks forming in Jean’s determination, the darting shimmer in Jean’s eyes as they widened then went half lidded, his expression guilty but yielding, tipping inexorably toward decision, Marco smiled. This was how it should be, this relief to them both, this sinking into yes; they belonged to each other, and so this was only right. Marco’s hand hesitated toward Jean, and when Jean exhaled softly he took it as permission, traced his fingers up Jean’s chest before shifting forward again. With slow and careful tenderness he laid Jean back down on the mattress, kissing his way up the breath-quaked terrain of Jean’s stomach, his chest, fingering his nipples, tonguing the long muscle of a tentacle and feeling it squirm.

“C-Condoms,” Jean sputtered feebly, and Marco grunted at the distraction, muffling his reply in Jean’s sweat-fragrant skin, in the low, taut swell of his pecs, which were far more engrossing.

“Don’t have ’em...don’t need ’em.”


“You haven’t...’n’ I haven’t. So.” Handjobs didn’t count, right, and neither did a blowjob or two, yes? And those were ancient history for him anyway. So. Yes. “Love, it’s fine,” he mumbled when Jean didn’t seem likely to relax. “Trust me, ’kay?”

“You are way too compromised to make good decisions right now,” Jean grumbled, then gave a high-pitched, gasping yelp as Marco aligned their hips and began rocking, grinding forward and back, their cocks rubbing against each other in a slick cradle of tentacles. “I-I’m way too compromised too, oh god, oh fuck—”

“Feels good?” Marco worked a hand in among the tentacles until he could encircle the heads of their cocks, letting the jerking force of his movements drive them as one into his grip. Jean’s response was completely incoherent babble, and Marco smiled. “Wanna feel you bare like this. Make you feel so good, Jean.”


“I’m safe with you,” he crooned. “Nothing you do will hurt me.” The truth of this was unshakable, as bright as day, as deep as the marrow of his bones. “Wanna feel you inside me. Come inside me. Fill me up.”

“Oh god, oh god—Marco, stop! I-I’m gonna—” Jean tensed, and Marco went still, holding his breath, every scrap of will he still possessed resisting the urge to keep right on humping Jean, to drive him over that cresting edge of climax. No, no, no—he wanted Jean’s cock, his come, his orgasm inside of him, and that single-minded purpose gave him focus, gave him back some measure of control. Gingerly he eased back, groaning as Jean’s tentacles groped at his cock, curling deliciously around it. The waves of pleasure they stroked from him threatened to sweep him away again, and with trembling hands he gently peeled them off.

Jean’s panting breaths had slowed; he was looking up at Marco, his gaze as foggy and lust-drenched as Marco’s surely had to be. “I’m crazy,” he muttered, and then, a growl low in his throat, ragged with passion: “But god, I love you. So. Fucking. Much.” His eyes narrowed, his mouth tightening before it drew up into a near-feral smirk, a familiar expression, thrilling in its recklessness, and Marco could swear he already felt his ass throbbing, begging for Jean’s cock. “And I am gonna fuck you like nobody has ever been fucked before.”

Nnn.” Marco squirmed at the promise in Jean’s raw words, overcome by his body’s mindless urgency, oh god yes, and at the same time spilling over with a pure and transcendent joy that made him want to laugh out loud. Grinning helplessly, he reached down and gave Jean’s lower tentacles a teasing tug. “ ’zat mean I can have some of these in me too?”

“Absolutely not!” With a glare of outraged horror, Jean snatched the tentacles away from Marco’s hands and clutched them close against his stomach.

“Aww....” Marco pouted, but Jean just shook his head.

Shit, no. For all I know, these are fuckin’ ovipositors—”

“—love it when you talk biology to me—”

Jean snorted at Marco’s purred interruption, and his glower took on a hint of wry, unwilling amusement. “Yeah, well...I love you more than the world and everything in it,” he retorted more gently, “but I am so not ready for your ass babies.” His expression froze, and then the wrathful almost-panic returned to it. “And don’t you dare look disappointed at me!

“I-I’m not!” The ridiculousness of the moment overwhelmed Marco, and that barely contained laughter exploded out of him—he collapsed onto Jean, giggling wildly. The look on his face had been shock, not disappointment—although, well, maybe there’d been a jolt of what-if, an inner roil of sexy-terrifying truly filled, stuffed by Jean, oh, oh shit—but that was not for now. He’d dwell on it some other time. Chuckling, he pushed himself upright again, crawling back on top of his extremely miffed-looking boyfriend. “M’kay,” he murmured, with a smirk of his own. “Ass babies later.” Jean drew in an indignant breath, then stuttered on it as Marco’s hand closed around his cock. “Fuck me now.”

Ah.” Jean’s hips lifted, his length sliding through Marco’s grip, and damn, that should be his ass instead, he wanted it, and it would be so good for Jean, feel so tight and hot around him. Wriggling with eagerness, he shifted forward to better position himself, and Jean gasped again. “Jesus fuck, at least let me prep you!”

“Mm.” That sounded fun, if not nearly as nice as Jean’s cock. He settled back, passively resigned to the delay, and then his eyes widened as one of Jean’s upper tentacles rolled through the wetness coating Jean’s stomach. It lifted, pointing at him, and his jaw dropped as he watched it, following its movements as the tip sketched a lazy circle in the air.

“You like the thought of that, don’t you?” Jean’s low, half-laughing voice went right to the pit of his stomach, to the heat that roiled and bubbled there.

Mmn.” He went to all fours, a shudder of desire arching his spine as Jean’s tentacle reached out, teasingly slow. It brushed across his back, his ass; the slick tip snaked into his crack and probed at his hole, circling and nudging until it found the give that let it dip inside. He keened as it breached him, not with pain but with how perfectly it opened him up, its forward progress smooth and gentle and utterly irresistible. At the sound Jean hesitated—no!—and he managed a semiarticulate moan. “Good! Good. Moooore.”

“That’s what you like, huh?” The tentacle undulated inside him, and he cried out again, rolling his head, his arms trembling. Jean’s voice dropped lower, seeming to resonate through all Marco’s bones, to set fire to his blood as Jean mused, “Wonder how deep I could go? How deep I could get into you?” The tentacle eased farther forward, an inch, two—how much was already inside him?—he moaned again in rapture at the thought, and Jean, watching his face, frowned a little, a thin line drawing between his brows.

“Safe words, okay? Green, yellow, red. Got it?” Marco nodded distractedly, then yelped in protest as the tentacle slipped almost all the way out of him; he thrust his ass backward in futile pursuit. “And you’re gonna use them. Right?”

“Yes, Jean, yes, please, c’mon!” Marco whimpered, then expelled a long sigh of relief as Jean’s tentacle pushed inside him again. It began a rhythmic thrusting that both excited and soothed him, in and out and in, and he rocked with it, grunting his satisfaction. A little faster, and he began to pant, to lean back into it, mouth moving in a silent chant of yes, yes, yes.

“More, baby? Want me to stretch you some more?”

“Y-Yeah—ah!” It had thickened inside him, expanding him, thrusting harder now, and he bucked with it—then squeaked, his whole body stiffening, vibrating with the sensation as it, it corkscrewed inside him. Oh god, he’d fingered himself, been fingered, and never, never anything like this. He was already shaking to pieces, and he hadn’t even—

“Shiiit, babe. Have I even hit your prostate yet?” Jean murmured, as if he’d read Marco’s mind, and Marco shook his head, too dazed to speak. “Lemme try....” The tentacle’s girth diminished, and Marco sighed in both relief and dissatisfaction, but the narrowed tentacle writhed inside him, and that was so good too. It poked and prodded, questing blindly, and Jean’s mouth pursed. “Where am I going here? Help me out.” Marco’s shaky hand gestures may or may not have meant anything to him, but—there, right there, and Marco gasped, his whole body jerking, raw sensation thrilling through him. He had no idea what his expression was doing, but whatever it was, it made Jean chuckle; the ripples of that sound shivered through him, and where they met the fading waves of that pleasure whatever thoughts were left to him broke apart: shifting surfaces, flashes of light. “Okay, that’s it.” The tentacle’s tip began working that spot deliberately, circling over it, thrusting against it—he cried out, his voice rising at each sweet jab, and then—tiny fingers kneading into him, massaging, squeezing, and he yowled, crumpling forward over Jean.

“Shh, Marco—shit, your neighbors.” Jean’s sudden anxiety made no sense to Marco. He wailed again as the fingerlets prodded at him, then gasped as a wet tentacle pressed against his mouth. He latched onto it, whining as he suckled, eyes closed, lost to the pleasure that grew and grew, ecstasy flowering on his tongue, pouring through his limbs, pounding up his spine with every wriggling thrust—he was stretched further, and his eyes flew open, startled—a second tentacle, squirming in beside the first, both of them fucking him, fondling him, writhing about each other inside him. His balls tightened, his muscles tensed—he was going to—he squealed, struggled to spit out the tentacle in his mouth, and Jean quickly pulled it away, withdrawing the other two from his ass as well. “Marco! You okay?” Marco coughed and wheezed, feeling a pang at the emptiness inside him. “What’s your word? Come on, man.”

“Guh,” he managed. “Gur.” Swallowing, he fumbled out, “Dun wanna...c-come...withou’....”

“Ah. Okay.” Jean relaxed beneath him. Jean’s eyes were still a little worried, but he smiled at Marco, fond and hungry. “Let’s do this then, yeah?” Curling his hands around Marco’s arms, he urged Marco up, forward, until Marco was kneeling shakily astride him. His lower tentacles explored Marco’s thighs; releasing Marco’s arms, he captured them and held them aside, out of the way. “You’re good?” he asked.

Marco leaned forward, reached to stroke Jean’s cheek, to smooth away that last trace of concern, because Jean shouldn’t be concerned; all was well, all was perfectly well. He kissed Jean, slow but messy, felt Jean’s silent gasp—the taste of himself in Marco’s mouth? Then, sitting back, he groped for and found Jean’s cock, beautiful in his hand, hot and pulsing. He stroked it back and forth along the crack of his ass, shivering in anticipation, lined it up, sank down, and—



So wide. Oh god.

Oh Jean.

Down and down, in and in. Taking more and more. He descended the length of Jean’s cock until he was impaled, head flung back, mouth open, legs trembling with the strain, while Jean moaned beneath him, stomach muscles fluttering as he breathed, his hips tense with the effort to keep still.

“M-Marco?” Reality shimmered around him; he didn’t even try to grasp it, absorbed as he was in his body’s stretch, the searing pleasure, the tremendous fullness, the heat of his love, his Jean, deep so deep inside him. Jean’s hands shifted to grip his thighs, thumbs stroking erratic circles, as if to offer awkward comfort, as if it was needed. “Marco, oh god, t-talk to me, are you—”

Ha—greeeeeen!” Breathless, he laughed, his body singing a taut, vibrating note, then murmured, so low that he could only hope Jean heard him, “ ’s good. So good.” Inhaling, he raised himself, as slowly as he’d gone down, relishing Jean’s guttural ah...uh! as he trailed inch by tantalizing inch up Jean’s shaft—then dropped, taking it all with a jolt that shook him in every limb and every quivering, over sensitized nerve, from his ass to the crown of his head. Yes, this, too much, exactly what he wanted, what he needed, and he began to move faster, to ride Jean’s cock with all the strength and vigor he possessed. Yes, yes, to be taken by Jean, plumbed to the very core of himself as he drove down again and again—so hard, going so deep inside him, ah—and, so important, to bring Jean with him, stroke by stroke edging them closer to the promise of a shattering climax. Their cries tumbled over each other, broken and needy; Jean’s hands clutched at his thighs more tightly, pulled him down—“Jean,” Marco gasped, “please,” and he soared as Jean took over, hips slamming up into him, tentacles wrapping around his legs and hips to jerk him down even more forcefully. Jean’s hands were on his sides now, Jean’s upper tentacles flicking over his chest—slick fingerlets splayed over his nipples, and something in between them attached, sucked. He arched, shouting, as a new flare of pleasure erupted through him, blinded him—he was gone, so gone, bouncing in quick, trembling rhythm on Jean’s cock, possessed, moved, driven by Jean’s lust, nothing for him now but building, growing, intensifying, everywhere, oh god, there’s more—“please, Jean, please, please!”—more, give it to him, give it now

Jean’s movements became sharper, more irregular, until suddenly he froze—he seemed to swell inside Marco, expanding deeper, wider, filling him to the limit until he screamed with the terror and joy and fulfillment of it, until the helpless shuddering of his body became the white-hot, mind-splintering quaking of release, coming, coming, coming as Jean came, surging and wet, pouring into him like a flood. He was lost in it, in Jean, in the peaking and ebbing brilliance and then in the darkness of delicious exhaustion that was descending upon him, the perfect satisfaction. He was only half aware as his limbs slackened, noticing mostly the faint regret as Jean’s cock slipped out of him (and something that might have been discomfort, if it wasn’t so very far away); he was sinking to meet the arms and tentacles that reached up for him, lapping around him, lowering him, and how lovely to be held like this, so close, so intimately enclosed. Eyes closed, he laid his head against the damp, breathing warmth of Jean’s chest, letting out a low sigh as everything faded....




Marco.” He was jostled, very gently, and a finger—Jean’s—poked at his face. “Dude, wake up. Are you okay?”

“Hmmm.” After that brief start he resettled his head on Jean’s chest, eyes shuttering closed again as he let the recollection trickle back to him. Ah. “Yeah,” he murmured. “ ’M good.” So good. Remembering Jean’s worries, all that heart-breakingly careful concern, he forced his eyes open again, eased himself back just enough to be able to meet Jean’s gaze—and his body shot him a stabbing reminder of just how far he’d pushed his limits. He stiffened, eyes widening, his mouth falling open on a fractured gasp. Jean inhaled in alarm, and Marco shook his head quickly, before Jean could speak. “I’m fine!” he squeaked. “Fine. Just...a little sore.”

“Huh.” Jean’s gaze was hooded, unconvinced, but a trace of a smirk glimmered through regardless. “Not surprised.” The irony faded as Jean studied Marco’s face, lingering on his eyes as if to plumb the fathoms of his honesty. “No regrets?” he asked, very softly.

Marco thought back, mulling over all that they’d just done together. He could remember it clearly—whatever else Jean’s biochemistry had done to him, it hadn’t affected his memory—and he blushed at how completely out of his mind he’d been, so far beyond sense and shame that he might, quite literally, have done anything for Jean, for the promise of Jean inside him, possessing him. It hadn’t been smart, it probably hadn’t been terribly safe, and oh god, if either of his neighbors had been home to hear all of that...but it was the warmth that nonetheless uncurled within him, suffusing every part of him, body, heart, and mind, that gave him the answer to Jean’s question.

“No. No regrets.” Smiling, Marco shifted forward, stretching until he could just brush his lips against Jean’s, then sank back with a sigh, his brows scrunching. “Well...I might regret not cleaning up before we got stuck together.”

“Pfft!” Jean laughed silently, his chest convulsing against Marco’s, then regarded him with an expression both sardonic and fond. “You might want to brush your teeth, too.”

Marco smacked his lips, then grimaced again. “Ugh.” Surely he had a bottle of water sitting around somewhere? He scanned as much of the room as he could see from where they lay, and there it was—unfortunately on the bookcase across the room, and he fell back in resigned disappointment, not quite ready to brave getting up. Jean craned his neck around to see what Marco had been looking at, then uncurled one of the tentacles that had been draped across them both. He reached out, the tentacle thinning as it extended, until it coiled around the bottle and retrieved it. Surprised but pleased, Marco managed to push up on one elbow to take the bottle from him.

‘Wow, that’s convenient! Thanks.” He took a long drink, swishing some of the water around before swallowing it, then handed the bottle back to Jean. Jean propped himself up on his two back tentacles as he drank in turn, and Marco marveled at him all over again.

“What?” Marco glanced up to see Jean looking guardedly at him, and he grinned.

“I’m just admiring you. That okay?” He rested a hand on one of Jean’s front tentacles, his thumb stroking over one of the now-faded spots.

“Hmph.” Jean’s frowning gaze jumped away again, then shuttled reluctantly back to trail across Marco’s chest, along his arm, avoiding his face as Jean muttered, “I kinda wondered that it was all over and all the crazy brain chemicals were out of your system...things’d be too. I dunno. Freaky for you.”

There it was, that word again. If it took the rest of their lives, Marco vowed to himself, he’d convince Jean that there was absolutely nothing freakish about him. Only different. Only special. Only worth loving. “Sorry,” he said, leaning forward to smooch Jean’s forehead and then beaming at him. “You’re just going to have to deal with me being completely not freaked out.”

Jean stared at him for a moment, then rolled his eyes. “Fine. I guess I can handle that.” His tentacle curled around Marco’s wrist and squeezed gently, then withdrew. “What I can’t deal with right now is staying gross for any longer. Ugh. Shower.” Sighing, Marco mumbled agreement, and they carefully peeled themselves apart. As Marco wobbled his way to a standing position, Jean swung around to sit on the edge of the bed. “Do you have a pair of spare boxers I can borrow?”

“Um, sure.” Jean snatched up his own underwear and began using it as a makeshift towel to wipe up the copious amounts of...everything that coated his stomach and thighs. Which was not actually a bad idea, considering that they had to get from Marco’s room to the floor’s bathroom, and he only had one towel for each of them. In fact, he was going to have to dig something out of his laundry basket to make himself presentable enough to get down the hallway. Something...large.

Holy cow. Was there anyplace he wasn’t sticky?

Well...his feet were clean, at least.

Amused, he looked over at Jean, and then blinked with surprise. Jean had retracted all of his tentacles, and it looked...odd. Jean noticed him staring and gave him a suspicious look. “What?” he demanded.

Marco shook his head, giving Jean a placating smile. “Nothing. You just look...kind of naked like that.”

“Marco,” Jean huffed. “I am naked.”

“No! I mean—” Marco gestured at his shoulders, suppressing laughter as Jean wrinkled his nose, clearly not sure whether to be offended, embarrassed, or awkwardly flattered. Instead, Marco heaved a exaggerated sigh. “Well,” he said with mock-sorrowful resignation, “I guess I’ll get used to how you look like this.”

And he raised his arms to defend himself, that laughter escaping him at last, as Jean growled and flung the filthy boxers at his face.