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Poem: "The Best Type of Intimacy" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "The Best Type of Intimacy"
This poem is spillover from the July 4, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] chanter_greenie. It also fills the "cuddling" square in my 5-19-17 card for the Pride Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Soupshue. It belongs to the Kraken thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"The Best Type of Intimacy"


Kraken held occasional mixers
because supervillains enjoyed sex
as much as anyone else, and
it wasn't as simple for them
to pick up random strangers.

Kennedy was all for a good tumble,
but a party wasn't nearly as much fun
when two of her best friends were
huddled together clear across camp.

She had two beers, took a turn
around the dance floor, and bailed.

Kennedy found Benchdog and Pinion
curled up on the human-sized dog bed
that filled most of one entertainment hut.
Pinion's big black wings spread over
both of them like a feather blanket.

"Hey, guys, what's up?" Kennedy said.

Benchdog lifted his black-and-tan head with
a sigh. Mixers make me feel lonely, he signed.

"So I came along to keep him company,"
Pinion said. "Those things can be
kind of awkward for me too."

"Okay," Kennedy said.
"Do you want more company,
or is this couch full up?"

They shuffled around
to make room for her.

"You're welcome to join us,
but I thought you liked sex,"
Pinion said slowly.

"I do, but I like my friends
more than sex, and I was
kind of worried," she said.

Nobody HAS to go
to the stupid mixers,

Benchdog grumbled.

"Of course not," Kennedy said.
"I just thought that you might be
feeling lonely, and that's no fun."

Not as lonely as I'd feel
in THERE,
Benchdog signed.
They all want to bundle into
couples or orgies, and well ...
none of them SMELL right to me.


"That sounds really frustrating,"
Kennedy said. "Has it always
been like that, or is this new?"

Always. I was born this way,
Benchdog said, waving a hand at
his canine head and mostly-human body.
Female dogs don't smell right either.
I guess I should be grateful for that.


Kennedy suppressed a shudder
at the thought of being stuck with
an attraction for animals instead of
people. "Yeah, it could be worse,
but it still sucks," she said.

Rafael thinks that I might respond
to a dog girl, but I've never met any,

Benchdog signed. So I don't know
what would happen, and I'm not sure
that I want to find out anyway.


"I know how it goes," Pinion said.
"I like women well enough, but I'm
afraid to do anything that could cause
a pregnancy, and most women don't
want my baggage in bed with them."

"Well that sucks," Kennedy said.

Pinion shrugged, a vast ripple
of his wide black wings. "It's not
something I talk about much," he said.
"My mother died giving birth to me, so
I'm not willing to risk that happening to
anyone else, if the wings pass down."

"There's birth control, and if that fails,
abortion too," Kennedy pointed out.

"This is Brazil," said Pinion. "It's
mostly Roman Catholic, and they're
not into that stuff. If someone got
pregnant and wouldn't terminate and
died giving birth like my mother did,
it'd be my fault and I'd feel awful."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Kennedy said.
"It sucks to feel like you don't have
much of a choice due to context."

"I just think of it like a genetic disease,"
Pinion said. "There's counseling for that.
I got some, and it helped a little, but I
didn't really stick with it because -- well,
I'm a supervillain, I'm not exactly looking
to settle down and start a family now."

"Me either," Kennedy said. "Career girl,
no time for kids, at least not any time soon."
She tapped her shoulder, the one that hadn't
gotten mangled falling out of a plane. "I got
a contraceptive implant almost a year before
I landed here, so I'm good for another four."

"That's a good idea," Pinion said. "You can
have fun without worrying about pregnancy."

"It’s not always about sex," Kennedy said.
"Sometimes the best type of intimacy
is where you just lie back, cuddle up,
laugh together at the silliest things,
and enjoy each others’ company."

"Yeah," Pinion said with a smile.
"Benchdog, what do you think?"

They ask me what’s better than sex,
I tell them world domination,
he signed.

Kennedy threw back her head and laughed.
"See, we don't need sex to have a good time,"
she said. "We can do other things."

"I've had some fun with that,
but often it feels like something
is missing," Pinion said.

"Maybe it is, for you,"
Kennedy mused. "Do you
have any idea what that could be,
or are you still in the dark?"

"I don't know," Pinion said.
"Sometimes I like it when you
touch me, but only sometimes."

"Oh, the preening?" Kennedy said.
"That makes sense. Lots of birds
are sociable, including vultures. They
use allopreening to form bonds and
to reduce conflicts in the flock."

She had been helping Pinion
to take care of his wings, which
wasn't easy given his painful past
and consequent tendency to panic.

Her fingers ghosted over
his shoulder, just above where
the sooty feathers began.

"Yeah," Pinion said. "It's hard,
but not as bad as it used to be."

"You know I'll stop whenever
you ask me to," Kennedy said,
lifting her hand away from him.

"No!" Pinion said. "You're
the only one who can make it
even bearable, let alone pleasant."

"Okay," Kennedy said. "It's up to you.
Birds take time to bond with preening.
It may get better just from that."

I'm not a bird, though, and I
like it when my friends brush me,

Benchdog signed. It's too hard
for me to do my own head and
see if I've brushed it all.


Kennedy reached out and
gently fondled his floppy,
velvet-soft ears. "I'm happy
to help any time," she said.
"Mammals love being touched.
The hairs have little nerves
on them to make it feel good."

It's not very human, though,
Benchdog signed. He was
sensitive about that.

"Sure it is," Kennedy said.
"Hair care is a bonding activity.
Lots of people enjoy doing it with
friends or family. Others like to go to
a salon and pay people to pamper them."

That sounds nice, Benchdog signed.

"Why don't I go grab some gear
and we can have a grooming party
all our own?" Kennedy suggested.
"We can brush Benchdog and
preen Pinion, and you guys
can braid my hair too."

Benchdog gave her
a doggy grin, his tongue
hanging out of his muzzle.

"Go for it," Pinion said.
"I'll raid the mixer for snacks.
We didn't get any earlier."

So Kennedy went around and
collected what they would need,
then came back to the hut where
Pinion and Benchdog were waiting.

Benchdog had turned the viewscreen
to some Brazilian comedy channel.

The coffee table was laden
with pão de queijo, coxinhas,
brigadeiros,
and beijinhos.

Pinion had also brought
beer, guaraná sodas, and
limonada suíça to drink.

Kennedy put down her supplies,
hopped on the big round couch,
and cuddled between her friends.

Then she stuffed a chicken ball
into her mouth and picked up
the soft brush that Benchdog
liked people to use on him.

Behind her, Pinion gathered
the long strands of her hair and
began gently combing them.

It was the best type of intimacy.

* * *

Notes:

Camberhawk (Kennedy O'Clere) -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and long straight brown hair. She is an only child raised by decent but workaholic parents. Kennedy speaks English, Japanese, and Spanish fluently; she is trying to learn Brazilian Portuguese. She is susceptible to authority and has a hard time standing up for herself.
Origin: Kennedy used to work for the Vanguardian, until Kraken operatives attacked the company plane she was in. Sucked out through a hole in the fuselage, she almost died, but was caught by a hawkman. Kennedy decided not to return, and eventually built herself a set of gizmotronic wings.
Uniform: Dark brown dexflan flight suit with brown-and-white gizmotronic wings.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Gizmology, Expert (+4) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, Good (+2) Birdwatching, Good (+2) Strength, Good (+2) Teamwork
Poor (-2) Suggestible
Powers: None. She has a set of Expert (+4) Gizmotronic Wings. The harness includes thrusters for lift. She can glide and steer with the wings, but not flap them enough for actual flying with the wings alone.
Motivation: To be pleasing.

Benchdog -- He has tinted skin and black body hair. His head is that of a black-and-tan dog with floppy ears. He is effectively asexual because neither human nor canine females smell quite right to him; this makes him a very popular snuggle buddy. His heritage is Brazilian. He understands Brazilian Portuguese and English, but finds it very difficult to speak aloud. He usually uses Libras (Brazilian Sign Language) to communicate instead. Benchdog is friends with Pinion who was rescued in the same raid. He enjoys playing percussion instruments such as pandeiro (Brazilian tambourine), chocalho (shaker), and ilu (wooden folk drum).
Origin: He was born this way, and promptly abandoned. He grew up on the streets of Brazil. He was captured by human traffickers, first for freak shows, and then when his mechanical aptitude began to show, as a skilled slave. He was rescued by Kraken and joined them as a mechanic.
Uniform: Garage jumpsuit, usually smudged with grease and dirt.
Qualities: Master (+4) Cuddly, Expert (+4) Loyalty, Good (+2) Kinesthetic Intelligence, Good (+2) Percussionist
Poor (-2) Speech Impediment
Powers: Good (+2) Dog Head, Good (+2) Super-Gizmology
His dog head gives him canine-quality hearing and smell, but greatly impairs his ability to speak.
Motivation: To belong.

Bench dogs are rectangular wooden pegs that fit into holes in a woodworking bench as an aid to holding work firmly.

Pinion (Owen Hines) -- He has pale brown skin, brown eyes, and dark brown nappy hair worn in many long braids. He also has an enormous set of glossy black wings similar to those of a vulture. After his mother's death in childbirth due to the wings, Owen's father raised him. Owen speaks English, Esperanto, Portuguese, German, and Libras (Brazilian Sign Language).
At eleven, Owen was kidnapped by human traffickers and used variously for slave labor and freak shows, but never stopped fighting for his freedom. When he was fourteen, a Kraken team hit the camp where Owen was being held, and he took the opportunity to escape -- nearly killing one of the Kraken rescuers in the process. They finally managed to catch him and calm him down, and he agreed to go with them. They never found his father, although they're still looking. Currently he works for Kraken as a field operative. Pinion is friends with Benchdog who was rescued in the same raid.
Uniform: Black dexflan flight suit with a black krevel breastplate and matching black bracers on his forearms.
Origin: He was born with wings, and his mother died from the resulting complications.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Spatial Intelligence, Expert (+4) Strength, Good (+2) First Aid, Good (+2) Supervillain Henchman, Good (+2) Teamwork, Good (+2) Three-Dimensional Games
Poor (-2) Dislikes Small, Tight Spaces
Powers: Expert (+4) Winged Flight
Motivation: Freedom.

I couldn't find a perfect faceclaim photo for Pinion. The first shows the approximate size and shape of his wings: more than twice his own height, and the bases extend almost all the way down to his ankles. The facial features match too. The second picture shows the color and texture of the wings: hard sleek feathers with an iridescent sheen of blue and green. You can also see the muscle definition much better here, and the forearm bracers.

* * *

"It’s not always about sex, sometimes the best type of intimacy is where you just lay back, laugh together at the stupidest things, hold each other, and enjoy each others’ company."
-- By (via lebanesebreezeee)

Asexuality is an orientation where people feel no erotic desire. Know how to tell if you are asexual and how to be happy as ace. (Bear in mind that although allosexual behavior is considered "the norm," most people are not sexual as children and many lose some or all interest in it as elders.) Understand how to support an asexual friend or partner.

"They ask me what’s better than sex, I tell them world domination."
-- By Anonymous

A singles mixer is an event meant for individuals to seek sexual/romantic companionship. The goals may focus on temporary or longer-term relationships. Such events have pros and cons. There are tips for attending or hosting a singles mixer. As mentioned here, these activities can be crucial for people who have a hard time finding partners for reasons beyond the usual social hesitation.

This round floor couch is basically a human-sized dog bed.

In Terramagne, anthropomorphic soups fall in the middle of the frequency scale, leaning toward common. They can fall anywhere on a wide scale of features. Of the featured species, domestics are more common than wild, with dog people among the most prevalent. But there still aren't really a lot of them, they tend to hide, and the details vary so they aren't always compatible. While interspecies sex/romance is possible, it is complicated by factors other than organ shape. In the case of dogs, they have a mating season, and despite the occasional leg-humping, most of them become sexually active only when appropriate pheromones are released. Since Benchdog is a blend of human and canine, neither species' sexual signals alone seems to activate his sexuality, a fact that he sometimes finds embarrassing and frustrating. But much of the time he's like other asexual or gray-sexual folks: less distractable by sex, and more prone to find pleasure in other ways.

Brazil is primarily Roman Catholic. This religion forbids extramarital sex, birth control, and abortion. Pinion is trying not to step on anyone else's beliefs, but he is very serious about not wanting to father children, so he tends to abstain from intercourse.

Vultures are fairly social birds.

Preening maintains a bird's feathers and social ties. Allopreening refers to a bird preening another bird or a human. Mutual preening can provide bonding between birds and humans.

Dog grooming is an important part of canine health.

Human grooming similarly provides pleasure and bonding.

Brazilian snacks include pão de queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread), coxinhas, (Brazilian Chicken Croquettes), brigadeiros, (Brazilian Chocolate Fudge Balls), and beijinhos (Brazilian Coconut Fudge Balls). For beverages they're having guaraná soda and limonada suíça (Brazilian lemonade).

The Brazilian sense of humor is quirky and relies a lot on language. Enjoy an example.

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