Fic: The Threshold

“Zack, I can’t.”

Max stood on the threshold of the motel room and shifted her weight from boot heel to boot heel. The rain was churning the gravel of the carpark and driving in under the narrow awning to strike her shins. She was already drenched from the ride.

She turned half around to face the door jamb. All strategic objectives were totally void here. She should just decommission her ass.

Zack, in the dun-covered chair by the pine coffee table, merely waited.

The shifting of the weight from boot to boot began again as she began to spit it out, except really she only said bits of it. She said, all at once, “See, there was that man before, when you saw me. And I need to stop for gas. And I have to stop at traffic lights, and what if there’s a policeman?”

When she stole a glance, she saw him nod, his lips pressed tight. But, to her relief, he did not invite Max back inside. There they stayed, he in his chair, she in the doorway.

She could not come back in, because of the way they had touched, the way she had touched him, a moment ago, just on the arm. And now it seemed they had agreed she could not leave, either.

The rain was pooling on the carpet by the door. Traffic hissed wetly by on the highway.

When she looked at him again, she saw that Zack stared carefully upwards, above her head, perhaps at the rim of dust on the clock over the door, hidden to her now. He shifted a little in his chair. Still he had an erection — she could smell it — and he would be trying to bump it off his inseam.

Then Zack looked at her again, and something bizarre came out of his mouth. But it was okay with Max because it went with everything else, it was no more strange than beds appearing in alleys. He said, “We could play cards.”

Max peered at him from the doorway, shifting in her cold, rain-soaked jeans.

“What?” she asked. As if he had said, we could move to Mexico and become corn farmers. As if he had cracked a joke, which he never did, so she had to check to be sure before laughing.

“I guess the people before left them. I don’t know.” Gingerly Zack was getting up, going over to the drawer by the bed and getting something out. A small cardboard box, with a cheery, electric blue border.

Max looked at him.

“Do you know how to play?” she asked.

Max knew that Zack could no more play cards than she could just disarm soldiers in alleys and…

“No,” Zack replied. And it seemed he, too, was stuck, half-way across the room, weight on one foot, the cards in one hand.

How would an X-5 know how to play with cards that come in a cheery blue box, designed to make children happy?

“For a second there, I thought you had a double life as Bobo the clown,” Max said.

It was the bantering, smartass Max voice, but too quiet.

“Do you?” Zack asked, bouncing the cards in his hands.

“I think so,” she said. “I think Charlie had some like that.” And maybe this was going to save her. Or maybe it wasn’t, maybe it was the illusion of a bridge over the pit when really there was nothing but the fall and the darkness, awaiting her foot.

But she stepped forward anyway, in from the door.

They were really going to play Fish. She was going to teach him to play. He was really going to sit there with an erection, in front of the rickety coffee table. She was going to sit on the floor on the other side of the coffee table and it was going to be just at her eye level, and they were going to sit there and play Fish, and that was what they were really going to do.

Zack knew how to deal cards. Of course he did.

“And now you have to mess them all up to make the fish pond,” she said.

“Mess?”

Max had to show Zack how to do that. He dropped the stock of cards to let her pick them up again. She had to reach right over to his side of the table to get them.

She swirled the cards around in a circle on the table. “See,” she said, “they have little waves printed on the back.”

“Right,” Zack said.

In no time at all she was saying, “Do you have a giraffe?” And maybe this was the bridge and she was passing over, but maybe it was the pit, the pit already and she was falling, she didn’t know.

Zack said, softly, “The hocks of its hooves are wrong. But yeah, I think so.”

He went to pass it over. He put it face up on her side of the table. She picked it up.

“Okay, I get another turn,” Max said.

Zack said, “Are you sure?”

“Well, yeah,” she said, with a little smile.

He gave her a little smile back.

“Think I’m cheating?” she asked.

“No,” he said. Smiling just enough to make a dimple appear.

“Do you have a very growly lion?” Max’s voice was low.

Zack looked at his hand, then at Max.

“Any kind of lion,” Max conceded.

“Yes,” Zack said. Tossed the card across the table.

When Zack, at last, got his turn, he asked, “Got a bear?”

Max replied, “What kind of a bear?” Met his eye with her eyebrow raised.

Zack picked up the blue-edged packet, inspected its back side. Tossed it aside again. “There is only one kind,” he pointed out, neutrally.

“Well, then,” Max said, lips pursed, “I guess so.” She passed him the card, held between the very ends of two fingers. She did not put it down on the table. It came out from between her fingers with a snap when Zack took it from her. “Still your turn,” she said. She did not withdraw her elbow from the table where she had put it while passing the card.

Zack said, “I know.” He leant back in his chair. He said, “Do you have an elephant?”

“You’ve got a fish,” Max replied.

Zack blinked. He took a card from the pool.

Max scratched herself under her arm. “Eek eek eek,” she called.

“Uh,” Zack said, “it’s your turn.”

“Duh,” said Max. “I know.” Zack stared blankly. She said, “Do you have a monkey?”

“I don’t get it,” Zack said, “but okay, yes.”

When Zack went to take the card from Max, she feinted away. But he was as fast as she was, and he caught the end of the card and tugged. She tugged back. In another instant she had hold of his fingers, and the card had fallen to the table, and it was his fingers she was tugging on as if she could win them from him. She was grinning.

“Max!” Zack said. “Stop!” He made no attempt to retrieve the monkey card from where it had fallen.

For no good reason, Max was slightly breathless. “Fine!” she said. And after a beat, “Have you got a…” She looked at a card in her hand. Her smile faded.

The rain hit the window, more quietly than before.

She put the fan of her cards down on the table. She started to get up onto her knees, as if she was going somewhere. But she wasn’t, so she stopped.

She stared at Zack, the bridge of her nose pinched.

“What?” he asked.

“Cat,” she said, in a strangled voice.

And she was. She was ready to climb the walls, hang from the curtains by her claws. To pounce on prey.

Maybe she was going to crawl this way, or that way. Maybe she was going to stand up, or not.

Maybe she was going to shove the coffee table to the side.

Maybe she had already done that.

What she was really going to do was inch towards him on hands and knees, and crane out her neck.

The feeling that if she reached out a hand, he would try to stop her.

Neck stretched right out, she began to rub her forehead on the only part of Zack in reach, his knee.

She rubbed.

This tiny, terrible, whiny voice was coming out of her. It wheedled, stammered, “Can’t you… just… help me out a little? Just a little?”

She just kept rubbing her forehead, rubbing. That softer part of the knee just below the kneecap.

Maybe this was going to be alright, just this rubbing. It brought up the faint smell of washing powder, and under that, Zack’s skin. It would never have occurred to her that she knew how Zack’s skin smelled.

Maybe it would be okay, just rubbing on his knee and smelling him.

“Don’t cry, Max.” That voice from him, she could not think of the last time she had heard it. Must have been before the break-out.

Zack had his hands on her face, was stilling her. She could feel the wetness now he was smearing it away.

When she could not rub any more, because he was holding her face, it seemed she had to look up at him.

Ever so seriously, he seemed to be nodding at her. Only she had to wait for him to do it again before she believed it. His jaw was set firm. It was his giving-an-order face.

She slipped away from his fingers, and then she was on her feet, slowing her breathing. Trying to quit it with the tears.

She held out her hand, and he took it, and stood up before her.

Zack’s hands fluttered, settled finally on Max’s shoulders. When she pulled the tongue of his belt, tightening it around his waist, his eyes slid away.

His zip rasped as she took it down. She stretched the elastic of his shorts out in front to get them over his cock.

Eventually his pants were around his ankles. He didn’t look down.

Max said, quietly, “Sit.” But it was a command. She put her hands on his chest and pushed.

Zack sat. Looked up at her.

Maybe she could bear to do it like this, a piece of him at a time. She had never seen all of him at once, not as an adult, but now she found herself piecing together the parts she had seen: the pale chest, the agile shoulders, the dusting of blonde hair on a knee. Maybe it was okay so long as she didn’t actually test the whole image’s veracity.

This piece of the puzzle had been missing before. Further up his thighs, the blonde hair thinned and darkened to a reddish beige, and then suddenly thickened again. And even athletic Zack, she saw — and then felt — was soft along his innermost thighs.

He shifted in his seat, making the faintest creak in the springs of the chair.

And there was his cock. He’d been uncomfortable — he was heavily engorged. The head was dusky, his sac sweetly puckered, his balls drawn up to his body.

She took his warm length into her mouth. Her tongue found brine beneath the head.

From somewhere, down in her throat, came a low, happy sigh. She wasn’t a cat, she had no purring reflex, but it was almost the right place in her throat that the sound was coming from.

Another part of her thought that any moment now, Lydecker and a marshal with a stopwatch would bust in to call them down into line. And her big brother’s cock was going to be in Max’s mouth.

No, it was going to be Krit and Syl, kitted up to go spring Tinga. And Zack’s cock…

The upholstery cut into her elbows.

“Oh, Lady,” Zack breathed. Arched his back a little.

Then, “Max,” he eased out. Slid his fingers into her hair. Strained his thighs further apart.

 

She remembers parts of it, but she’s pretty sure the parts she doesn’t remember aren’t much different.

There was the part where he pounded into her from behind, up against the wall, her braced limbs rigid, her breasts shaking with his impact. When he came inside her, breath heaving hot on her neck, fingers digging bruisingly hard into her hips, she yowled.

The part where she crouched over him as he lay where he had retreated to the bed. Waiting for him to harden again, she dragged one heavy breast and hard nipple over his forehead, across his eyelids, along the crease between his lips. Her whispering mouth full of filth — “Fuck me, Zack, nail me, push it deep, spread me wide, slide it in and out of me…”

Then he was hardening again, and she gave him a couple of quick jerks to bring him right up, then shuffled backwards and impaled herself straight on him. Then she was growling, and her hips were slamming down, his hips bucking up in athletic tandem. The slapping skin, the wet sounds, the shrieking bed springs were brutally musical. Tilting the axis of her movement, she bent over to lick his face messily, to chafe his nipple hard with her palm.

Then there was the part where she just slowly, mindlessly rubbed herself on his raised thigh between hers, waiting for him again.

That time, she rolled him over on top of her. “Come on,” she said, lifting her knees up toward her chest. He raised himself on braced arms, and did. Her head lolled. “Yeah… yeah,” she sighed, more softly now.

 

Her heat passed some time the next day. All at once she knew, because they had not been fucking for a while, and there was a sheet over her and she was hungry. She might have been sleeping.

Zack was lying there like some sort of deanimate machine, his gaze steady past the top of her head.

“Zack,” she said.

He did not reply. She waited. Once she reached for the curve of his bicep above the sheet, but stopped.

The clock above the door ticked. And then, she couldn’t just lie there, she could barely keep still; her hand fluttered in the air above his shoulder. “Zack, can’t you just . . .” Her voice shook.

And God, what must he be thinking. He was her CO. Pull yourself together, soldier, was that what he was thinking?

But at last he took her by the shoulders and settled her down across his chest. Began to circle a shoulder blade with one flat palm.

“It’s okay, Max,” he said. His voice was curiously neutral, quiet.

Max found herself staring at the starched fold of the pillowcase.

“I don’t think it is,” she said.

“It is,” he said.

When she sat up, she began leaking onto the bed, and couldn’t bear to stand. She glanced back at him, to see him start and bring his knees up. He was too slow to hide the tent in the covers. He flushed pink, then, over the undulation of his swallowing throat.

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