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They had been partners for a little over five years now – not in the romantic sense, more so of an I am under onus to you for saving my village and then some kind of partnership. And over the course of this partnership, well, Croach had never really tried to confront Sparks about something that he had always found very odd about him.

Well, he supposed today was as good as any to let curiosity get the best of him, so as he set down the Marshal’s mug, he cleared his throat in hopes of gaining his attention.

“I see it, Croach,” was Sparks’ absent response, not bothering to glance up from the paperwork that he had been filling out prior, “You c’n just leave it there.”

“That is not the pronunciation of my designation, and is not the reason of which I was trying to get your attention, Sparks-Nevada.” The Martian said, sounding more or less irritated – but that was just his natural tone, so Sparks thought nothing of it as he glanced up at the taller, bluer humanoid.

Croach’s antennae were twitching in obvious anxiety- which was a rare emotion to see on a being that claimed to have no emotion at all, and – well, that definitely caught the Marshal’s attention, and he asked in a bit more serious tone ( though it was hard to tell, he always just sounded so tired ). “What’s wrong, pardner?”

“There is a question that I have wanted to ask you for a long time, may I ask it?” The Tracker was talking slowly, carefully, not well versed in human culture and therefore not well-versed in the reactions these sorts of things might elicit.

“Have at it,” Was Sparks’ only reply, brow furrowed in suspicion.

“As is obvious, I know your designation to be Sparks-Nevada, and the human designated ‘pronouns’ you use to be he, but, ah . . . ” Truly, the stoic alien was frightened of misphrasing this and offending one of his closest friends.

“Why do you carry the same pheromones as the Red Plains Rider?”

Sparks tensed. The Red Plains Rider was a rogue who wandered Mars in attempts of bringing justice to the areas where law couldn’t reach, and was constantly pined for by the two conversing now – but the larger point was the fact that Red was, well. . . Red was a woman.

So, with all this prior knowledge, Sparks was dumbstruck. He knew that Croach, being native to Mars, had a little over twenty five senses – but he didn’t know that they were that, well, acute. He wouldn’t get upset, of course, Croach was only just now learning all of these things about the human race. So, after a pause, Sparks started hesitantly,

“Well, pal, I was born as what I reckon you’d call a female, yeah? Not that I ever was one, was just born with those parts, I guess, but’ve been a man my whole life. You understand?”

A glance up at the alien, whom had an almost disgusted look on his face, causing the usually uncaring marshal to cringe back, “S’ry, it’s pretty gross, I guess.”

“No, Sparks-Nevada, it is not that. I find it extremely revolting that humans decide to determine the gender of their younglings at such a young age. In my tribe, younglings are free to choose what gender they want to be; male, female, both, or neither. Why does your kind attempt to predetermine what a youngling will be?”

Sparks had opened his mouth to respond, but instead was cut off by Croach. “Perhaps this is too negative a subject to be pondering on. But again, just to be certain, you want me to use male pronouns to address you?” At the nod that followed, the Martian gave a nod of his own. “Well, ah, thank you for answering my question, Sparks-Nevada.”

“No problem, pardner.”