Fiction Friday; An Alien Proposal

I am not pleased with this piece yet, but I like the concept. I'll try to rework it for another time, adding a bit more of that "alien" feel to the narrative.

*** 


"Jez? I have an important question for you, but I think you're going to laugh at how I ask it." 


Jez looked up from her book, her mind still elsewhere as she looked at her boyfriend. His dark, pointed face was mostly expressionless, as his features tended to be, but there was that particular  tilt to his ears, that shade of green in his eyes, that told her his was worried. Jez smiled, trying to put him at ease. 


"I promise I won't laugh, Poe. What was it you wanted to ask me?" 


But before she'd even finished asking her question he was shaking his head. "I can't ask you here. It's not right." 


Jez glanced around at the nondescript walls, the faded furniture, and the books stacked on every surface. Alright, so it wasn't the most scenic of apartments, and it could use to be tidied up a little, but at least it wasn't a complete mess. "That's a bit harsh, but alright. Where would you like to go?" 


In a second, he was on his feet, towering thin and strong over her. A long tail flicked to and fro behind him, nearly brushing the floor as it displayed his agitation. "May we go now?" he asked politely, his tone and his face as always betraying nothing of what his ears and tail told her. It was easy, sometimes, to forget he was so different than her, not because he was so "human" so much as because she had been with him so long that she didn't see the ways they were different anymore. 


After a second's hesitation, she closed her book and set it aside. "We can go now. But where are we going?" 


"To the hydroponics bay, if that's alright." Still as polite as ever, he grasped her hand and held it tight. She stroked the back of his hand, where the fur grew short and fine, soft under her fingers. His tension was worrying her, and she wanted to help him calm down. 


"Poe, you're all out of sorts. What's wrong? Did something happen?" 


He shook his head without answering her questions, and instead led her with long strides down two levels to the hydroponics bay. The series of chambers were large by station standards, almost 15 meters long and 8 meters wide, each of the 12 rows of growing counters stacked two or even three high. They had to make efficient use of their limited space to support as many people as they could. Any surplus was sent to the dusty planet below, where the miners preserved whatever they could. 


The air in the hydroponics bay was warm and humid, heavy with the scent of green and growing things, and bright with artificial full-spectrum lights. It wasn't exactly "natural," but they didn't have anything else that might substitute for a garden or a meadow. Besides, Jez could close her eyes and pretend she was somewhere else. Even if she'd never left the station, she'd seen pictures of other places, of planets where things still grew and oceans still swept the shores of distant, alien continents. 


Poe led her to a low counter where one of the fruiting plants was heavy with ripening fruit. Kneeling, he carefully plucked a plump red specimen and looked up at her. 


"Traditionally, I would hunt for you, and we would share a meal in my house. But as I have no house, and hunting is out of the question, I think this will have to do. It's the closest to nature we can come." Poe stood, his dark face unreadable, his ears pricked anxiously forward. He had a narrow, rodent-like face, and large, intelligent eyes. It had taken Jez more than a year to get used to his looks, though they had been friends over the Internet for several months before they'd met in person. He had come to the station to accept a job as a translator and stellar crystal tuner, and also to live with her. Love did strange things to people. 


"What do you mean... traditionally? What does this mean? Poe?" Jezebel wasn't sure what was going on, but she had a theory, and it was making her head spin. 


"I would like to marry you. It means something different for you than it does for me, I think, as the legal ramifications are different among humans, but... I know that I will not want to take another mate now that I've had the chance to live with you and be yours. I would like to make it as official as such things can be. I would be yours, and I would have you be mine, in every way. Will you be mine, Jezebel?" He was offering her the fruit as she gaped at him. It took several long seconds for her to take the fruit with trembling fingers and, with his encouragement, take a bite. 


Poe smiled, his teeth very white and very sharp in his dark face. "Thank you. This is very important to me." 

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