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Chapter 31

      Jeremy sat down and leaned against the large tree, someone had told him what it was called, but he'd forgotten. It's bark was rough, and almost gold in color, it was at least twenty feet high and the 'leaves' were thin lines that shimmered, and made rainbows when the sun hit them at the right angle.

      It was his first time on Kelser, nine years after he'd found Gralgiranselhelrarvir.

      He'd been surprised when he found out they were coming here, and then he'd wondered why they hadn't they hadn't come sooner. He knew it wasn't because Gral wanted to keep him hidden, he was quite proud of their relationship, and had introduced him to his parents over vid.

      "I'm a hunter," Gral had said, "I keep my people safe, by being out here, hunting those who would hurt them."

      Jeremy had found it strange, considering how much Gral loved his family, and his world. Jeremy couldn't stand being on Earth, although he hadn't realized why, at the time, that was why he'd never done more than call his family.

      "Come on," one of the females said running toward him. "We're not done dancing!"

      "I am!" he replied. He tried to remember her name, but he had been introduced to so many of Gral's large family, that he couldn't.

      "I thought you hunters were suppose to be full of energy!"

      "We are! But no one trained me for *that*!" He pointed to the crowed dancing to the sound of the band.

      She nodded and ran back to the dance.

      Jeremy had danced with Gral's mother, his father, all of his siblings, of which one brother caught him in one of the slow dances, and made sure Jeremy could tell he was interested in having sex with him. Jeremy probably would, at some time while they stayed here. He was as tall as Gral, a little leaner, and could rival him in nibbling his ears.

      "You should have warned me about this," he told Gral, when he joined him, carrying a tall glass of the alcoholic beverage his father had made, with the fruits he grew on his land. It reminded Jeremy of the fruit punches his grand mother would make for summer activities, but the taste was much more bright, and the slight alcohol in it just enhanced it.

      "I didn't want to give you a chance to plan your escape."

      "Do you guys do this often?"

      "This large of a gathering? No, only when all the space faring members manage to make it back at the same time. Otherwise, it's just a small affair."

      "It can't have been easy to arranged."

      "It wasn't. We've been working on this since our trip to Earth.

      "A year? And you never told me?"

      "I wanted to surprise you." Gral said smiling.

      "Well, as you saw when we got here, you managed it." When they had arrived on the property Jeremy had been smothered by the crowd of family members wanting to hug him, lick him, nibble on him.

      "Well, all of this, is because of you. Everyone has been wanting to meet you."

      "I have to say, your family is very welcoming."

      "No more than any other."

      "What's your brother's name? The one that looks a lot like you, just leaner." Jeremy pointed him out of the crowd.

      "That's Roumalger, you want his full name?" Gral asked mischievously."

      "No," Jeremy answered with a laugh, "I'd have forgotten that by the time I have sex with him. But I have to tell you. You're going to have to work on your ear nibbling, I think he might just manage to steal me away from you with his."

      "Oh really?" Gral pulled Jeremy against him, and closed his muzzle on his ear, licking along the edge, sending a shiver of pleasure down his spine. When Jeremy was panting and moaning, Gral started nibbling.

      When he finally stopped, Jeremy had to catch his breath, then look at his chrono, to find out twenty minute had passed. He leaned back against his Heart, and looked at Thuruk, Asarin, and their new cub, sitting at a table, and feeding her.

      "You forgot to mention that yours and Thuruk's family were close." A third of the people were Thuruk's family.

      "All the families in the valley are close, but we're the only two with spacefarers. Everyone else just works groundside."

      Jeremy nodded, and was silent, watching Thuruk and his family. "Have you ever though about having a family?" he asked.

      "I have a family," Gral replied, muzzling the top of his head.

      "I mean starting your own, having cubs."

      Gral didn't reply immediately "I did, but I never really found the time to look for a female."

      "Found the time?" Jeremy asked, turning and looking at him, disbelieving. "Gralgiranselhelrarvnir. You don't *find* the time to look for someone, you *make* the time. I swear, you're lucky I walked onto your ship, I don't think you'd have found me otherwise."

      Gral pulled him against him and ruffled Jeremy's hair. "I would have hunted you on that station of yours. Actually, if I remember correctly, I did just that."

      Jeremy smiled, and relaxed against him, watching the family in the distance.

      "Do you want a family?" Gral asked cautiously, after a long silence.

      This time it was Jeremy who took his time responding. "Yes, I do. I look at them, I see how happy they are, and I think that we have so much happiness, that we should be sharing it with a cub."

      "Tomorrow, we can start looking for a female we both like. We'll have to stay closer to Kelser until the birth, but That wouldn't be a problem."

      "I was thinking of a lost cub."

      "A lost cub?'

      "Yeah, I've been reading about them, there's a lot of them, who lost their families in accidents, we could save one of them, bring him, or her, in our family." Jeremy's voice became soft. "I want to give one of them, what you gave me, a chance to be happy again."

      "I never thought about that," Gral said, "but you're right, it would be appropriate." They were pensive for some time after that, until three of Gral's siblings came to pull them back in to the dance.

      * * * * *

      Jeremy enjoyed the quiet house. After the hustle of the previous night, with all the guest, some peace was appreciated. He made his way to the kitchen, and put the case on the counter. He started water boiling, and took out the tools from the case.

      He could get all of this done in a machine, and back on the ship, it was often how he did it, but for the first one of the day, he enjoyed the ritual. He activated the gravitic anchor at the base of the mortal so it wouldn't move, placed the pestle next to it, and then measured enough beans for two cups. Grounding the beans by hand and releasing the aromas was how he liked to start his day.

      He was engrossed in the process, taking his time, and watching to make sure he didn't grind them too fine, when arms wrapped around his waist.

      "I knew I felt you leave the bed," was whispered in his ear, before it was gently nibbled on.

      Jeremy shivered. "Sorry if I woke you."

      "Don't be sorry for waking me, be sorry for leaving me alone." The hands rubs his chest, and his neck was licked.

      "I thought you'd want to sleep longer, we were up fairly late."

      "I don't recall either one of us being up. We were in bed, if my memory serves me." He paused and sniffed the air. "What are you doing?"

      "I grinding coffee beans."

      "That smells very nice."

      "Roumalgergravnilamir," a female said sharply, "go put some pants on, we have guests."

      "Yes mom," Roumalger replied, and then licked the back of Jeremy's neck, making him shiver. "I'll be right back," he whispered, and then left.

      "Good morning, Parkiler," Jeremy said, and Gral and Roumalger's mother joined him at the counter.

      "And a good morning to you, Jeremy. What are you doing?" she bent down to breath in the aroma.

      "I'm preparing coffee." He took out two cups, placed a dripper on each of them. He divided the ground coffee evenly, and put that in the bottom part.

      "I've never heard of it."

      "It's a human drink. Coffee is a plant grown on earth and most of their colonies." The water was boiling, so he poured it in the top part of the drippers.

      "I did you get a human product? I thought we weren't trading with them until they stopped persecuting some of their people."

      "I know someone," Jeremy replied with a smile. The water as done dripping to he took off the dripper some a cup, and picked up to inhale the aroma.

      "You know someone who can get you an illegal product. Maybe I should inform your captain of that."

      "And lose my only supplier?" Gral said, as he entered, "I don't think so." He nuzzled his mother, and then kissed Jeremy.

      "What did you just do?" Parkiler asked, head tilted.

      Gral took the other cup. "We kissed." He took a sip of his coffee.


      "It's a human custom that we've adopted, took some trial and error, but we found a way to make it work," Gral said.

      Jeremy was starting to turn red.

      "Really?" she said, "you're going to have to show me how it's done."

      "I don't think so," Gral replied, "it's ours, and ours alone." He grinned at his mother.

      "Is it true that you only have sex with males?" she asked Jeremy.

      He stopped moving, cup to his lips, and looked at her over it. "Yes, it is."

      "Is that a common behavior among humans?"

      "I'm not sure I'm the right person to ask," he replied, "why are you even asking about that?" He paused. "Right, you do socio-psychological research. If you want to answer that question, you should speak to one of them, instead of me. I don't know if you could trust their answers, considering they still don't acknowledge that they have males who have sex with males."

      "Maybe I can get one of the ambassadors to do some research on this for me."

      Gral's father entered the kitchen. "I thought I heard voices."

      "Morning Dad," Gral replied.

      "Morning dear," his mate said.

      "Good morning Marse . . . Dad," Jeremy said, definitely not used to calling him that.

      Marseforderiven nuzzled everyone in turn. "What is it you're holding?"

      "It's coffee," Gral said, handing him the cup. "It's a human drink."

      Marsef smelled it, and then took a swallow. He made a face "it's very bitter."

      "I know," Gral said, smiling. "It's invigorating."

      "You drink this a lot?" his mother asked.

      "No, just a cup in the morning, Jeremy drinks it through out the day."

      "It's flavors are interesting," Marsef said. "I wonder how well I could grow it here."

      "Dear, it's a human plant. It' be illegal for you to grow it."

      "It would just be for me, an experiment, if you will, there wouldn't be any harm." He looked at Gral.

      "I can't give my approval, you know that dad." He nodded toward Jeremy, "But if you were to manage to get yourself a plant, without my knowledge, there isn't much I could do about that, could I?"

      Jeremy looked from the father to the son. "I'll talk to my contact, see what he can do about it, but you're going to have to do your own research on how to grow them, I have no idea how that's done."

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