He turned back to his control board, his hair sinking in an uncharacteristically anxious fashion, and I felt him seep into my brain, his voice cool and collected even though his body betrayed him, "Remember what I told you about how you will be received. Do not forget Story, the others may be startling but are assisting you and do not mean harm. Please go to your sleeping cell now, they are pulling us into the port."

I stared at his whip thin back for a long moment, readying myself. A while ago he had talked about this very moment, when we would reach his planet. A group from his researching team would approach the ship with a series of sanitation and bending processes I had to undergo before I could even breathe the air outside. He had told me about how his people naturally looked, and I was terrified I would not be able to contain my horror at the sight of praying mantis-like human-sized 'scientists'. What if he missed something in his informative talk? Even though I had an idea of what was supposed to happen, it did not stop the anticipation and fear from coursing through my veins.

I walked slowly to the area my sleep cell was, and Peter must have willed it into activation, because suddenly the strange water-like substance began filling in the oval shape, looking suspended and very surreal. I was used to it by then, though the sight was still spectacular. I slid through, until it held me suspended as well, cocooned in warmth and exhaling smooth bubbles in the liquid.

The ship was being pulled strongly downward, though not falling. I watched Peter, unnerved at his jerking and tense movements. He was the one who was supposed to be fully at ease.

"Peter," I called out through a haze of muffling bubbles. I needed to see his reassurance and confidence. I could not handle the unknown without some thread of solidarity.

He paused, unmoving, collecting himself, his back slightly less aggressive. I watched as his hair feathered out just the slightest bit. I knew he had to be breathing deeply, and closing his eyes. And then he turned, walking a few long strides until he was directly in front of me, thin lips quirked just the slightest bit.

A sense of tranquility and a touch of humor came through from him to me. I did not know then that he knew how to- quite literally- share a smile through the heart.

I felt my chest gain heat, and closed my eyes, wondering at the peaceful and kind feeling now all I could focus on. I felt the ship shutter and opened my eyes seeing Peter regain his footing, almost as if we had finally reached ground, and not had the smoothest transition. He placed his hand on the barrier between us, and spoke quietly out loud:

"The time I spent alone with you on this ship has been very special for me Story. We may not be able to be alone again, and I wanted you to know that you have been exceptionally resilient and open. You are a testament to your species. I have always known that."

Something in the way he spoke made me swell with a sense of pride and honor. I had come to respect him, scary and bizarre as he was. He knew so much, had been with me my whole life. I would miss watching the stars with him on this ship.

With one last quake of the ship, Peter straightened and turned to walk toward the large doorway, waiting tensed for what was sure to be unnerving for me.

I could feel my heartbeat pumping erratic in my neck. A steady bum bum bum that felt dangerously strong. I was sure any moment my heart would explode in its panic.

The door opened in a quick blur, one second solid, and the next gone into the ceiling. And I silently screamed, unable to make noise catching sight of the nightmare waiting.

Four very tall, beige-green things stood, intelligently twisting their angular heads, and snapping their beetle-like mouths. Their eyes were purely black like Peter's but so bug-like they were disturbing. Their bodies were long, their backs curved deformedly in a sharp angle. Their arms and legs stretched long and thin, until reaching angry hook-like hands that looked devastating. One oddity was their hair, which stood like Peter's- a white and feathery mass.

They were speaking, I could tell, that silent language, and Peter was quietly listening, or talking back, I didn't know with his back to me.

My God, my God, my God, the inevitability of them having to touch me was looming very near, I wanted to crawl out of my skin, let the bubbles surround me, engulf me, make me disappear into vapor. They were hideous, and I trembled sharply when their focus seemed to shift to me with a jerking movement of their angular heads.

I felt the cool liquid presence of two voices, my brain like a mercury ice pack, they were inside my head, scanning about, and then they spoke, moving toward me. My back tensed so hard I felt the muscles ready to snap.

"Hello Story Nym Rhincourt. You must close your eyes and breathe calmly before we can alter your chemistries. It is imperative you start by taking a deep breath. We will not do anything you are uncomfortable with from this point on."

I stared at the two giant bug people standing just outside of my comfortable egg, connecting eyes with the one I knew was speaking in my mind. It was the one on the right, I could tell, something about how it's eyes met mine. I nodded faintly, trying desperately to control my shaking, and slow my quivering heart rate. I had to close my eyes and imagine myself somewhere else to do it.

I imagined I was back at the shop when Peter had first revealed himself. I tried to picture the normalcy of my day if he hadn't, what I would have done. If the storm would have cleared up as it usually did, and the sun would have warmed the amber fall leaves. If I would have leaned against the counter sipping my coffee, waiting for customers to trickle in thinking they had found a hidden gem of a store. A place where they could purchase unique and special pieces to talk about for years to come.

My life had been so very quiet and warm. I was content and warm and at peace.

I opened my eyes, staring just slightly above their heads at their wispy hair instead. I knew it was the only way I would be able to remain calm.

As a child living in southern Illinois every summer, my youth had been filled with adventurous hikes with all of the kids who lived there. We would climb over the limestone boulders in the deep woods, and scamper around trees and vines. And occasionally, we would happen upon an other-worldly praying mantis. We would all stand there in our dirt-covered little bodies, one of the boys holding it, and staring in awe. I could never actually touch one, something about that intelligent and eerie insect made my skin crawl uncontrollably.

And now here I was, caught on another planet with human-sized ones that were speaking calmly to me, even kindly, so I would not start shrieking in terror. A long time ago I had decided calling upon God for help was a pointless habit I needed to break.

"Please just be quick." I spoke aloud, bubbles flying from my mouth as I clenched my hands, digging my nails into my tender palms. One giant hooked beige limb touched the invisible barrier between my face and them, and in the next moment, I was directly in front of them.

My breaths were exaggerated as adrenalin coursed all over my chest making it that heavy heated cold only terror can produce. I clenched my eyes shut, prepared to feel a brilliant cold nearly freeze me to my core.

As Peter had explained, they wanted to inject me with agents that would help my blood use the kind of air their planet had to continue functioning. He told me the bending they would use to do this was literally taking my elements and temporarily changing them. He said one would do this by taking his electrical current and pushing it into my heart, while the other sent the mission through my brain and thus into my body.

All of this he said I would experience by feeling an extreme, beyond frost-bite cold course through my blood for less time than it took to blink. Though it would be quick, he told me it was not painless, but necessary. The air out there was toxic and merely letting my body near it would burn my skin like acid.

I felt a firm and strong grip on my upper arm, another pressure of an arm placed over my heart. Knowing full well, they would be bug-like I remained impassive, letting my mind fly somewhere in my reverie of what could have been my calm day.

In an instant, a searing slice shot through my core. Such an extreme cold it wasn't just a sensation, but an assault. My eyes burned, my veins cried, I was on ice fire.

A second lasting a year. All of my faculties went blank, a white haze in my vision. Hearing, speaking, feeling were gone for a moment, and I only knew I felt my blood rage into solid motionlessness, and then continue. This was not like when he froze me that first time, no it was something now floating in my veins trying to sear into my blood. I was attacked, the frigid help a murderous pain.

Abruptly the presence of the two aliens holding me returned, and I was so ripped of strength I could not stand if they were not keeping me in place.

"Now we will carry on with the next treatment. Do you comply?" The liquid presence in my forehead was almost even more painful, overloading my sparking, blinking system. I nodded weakly, wondering if it would kill me, if I would survive. Though the rush of pain was brief, it had taken so much I felt like a wisp of carbon about to disappear.

The next 'treatment' I was to have would shield my skin and 'outer body' from the floating gasses that seeing me as alien would attack and eat my skin. Peter said it was part of how life on his planet continued on, the gasses ate all that was not necessary on the planet, i.e. dead bodies, alien, threatening life forms, viruses, diseases etc. The natural way of life these gasses followed made space for new life to be born. To coat me with a strong layer of protection, they had to add to my skin another element not present, so the gasses would understand me as part of the living planet and not an invading life. He said this required simply more bending. But he was not advanced enough to do it himself, though he was over a billion years old… which still mystified me.

This was not supposed to hurt, but feel strange and 'uncomfortable' as he explained..

If what happened before was a 'necessary pain' I had no doubt I would feel nearly the same pain one might if they were not anesethized while having their skin grafted.

I did not brace like before, still somewhere outside my body, unable to communicate with reality. I wouldn't even allow myself to gaze out of my own eyes, instead choosing this vast white plane I was lost in when the pain started. My body felt like a distant part of life, sensation a slight annoyance.

Beginning at my toes there was a fizzing, bubbling feeling, akin to the same sort of thing pop rocks do when introduced to water. It traveled slowly up my body until I was a hissing can of pop, crackling with a strange and zipping energy, slightly warm and tingling. A warm and shimmering kind of halo was covering my body, a little too intense to call pleasant. But it was over very soon, stopping abruptly after just a few breaths.

" Your introductory procedural treatments are complete Story Rhincourt. Thank you for your compliance Story Rhincourt, we a pleased to greet you to our planet, please enjoy your stay."

If I had remembered how to control my body again, I would have laughed at the airline hostess-like monologue I had just heard. But I only stayed there hanging, nearly swaying in delirium in their hooked arms, awaiting my next command, and for my body to come back to my mind. I was a ghost, maybe it really did kill me that half-second of lightning cold.

"Story," It was Peter, I felt a sigh exit me in relief, " I am sorry you were in pain. If you can try to gain some control, I can take you into the open now, I believe we have entered our springtime, there should be some colorful wildlife I am sure you will enjoy."

Hooked hands were replaced by long bony fingers. I began to sink back to myself, aware as I did so, that as I opened my eyes, the two bugs were gone, and Peter held me, about a foot of space between us. His eyes were open wide, his hair slightly less calm, waiting for me to respond.

I gave the smallest smile my humor, what I could find of it anyway, and regained my footing, brushing his massive hands away, "You said that was necessary you jackass. You're lucky your so tall." I gave him a push that was so weak it must have really seemed pitiful.

A whoosh of air escaped my lips in laughter as I saw his hair spike down in quick surprise at my sarcasm. He instantly understood it, and his hair bounced back so swiftly into the normal chaotic twist it was usually I couldn't keep up the anger.

His eyes did that disturbing flash across the blackness, and I shuddered mildly before he gathered me quickly into a hug that felt distinctly uncomfortable given his angles, but comforting for his sweetness.

"I am sorry. But you are not violent. Your mirth is always present, it is quite nice." He released me, linking his big hand around my wrist, because it was too long to really hold mine, "Let us go out now, I am excited to introduce you. You will enjoy the sky I am sure."

He pulled me easily, I could feel a twisting in my stomach, an anticipation swelling inside me. His excitement was a catalyst to mine, we were two friends humming with the fun of his planned surprise. I hoped it was all he said.

I adjusted my eyes to the light, he told me his first lie- it was so much more.

AN: (warning: be prepared for a slightly pointless hunk of words) Ahhhhhh! I cannot believe how long it feels like it has been! Talk about writer's block, holy hell. Anyway, something has come to my attention: I realized I've been a totally rude dingbat. I didn't know I could reply to all the reviews and stuff like that. Forgive me! I mean, it's so obvious now, but, yeah…scatter brained doesn't even begin to cover my situation. I'm going to remedy that soon. Thank you for those who have reviewed! You're so wonderful and kind.

So, how do you feel about the story as a whole so far? I know it must seem like it's never going to go anywhere really. And it kind of is taking a long time. But what do you want to happen? Do you think she'll end up getting with Peter? Or is there more? I wonder what kind of colors and things are lurking around his world?

I have no clue, I'm on a good streak though, so I'll find out soon too lol!

Once again, you all have my gratitude for reading this. There's nothing more rewarding then to know that someone somewhere enjoys something that is entirely yours. It's the ultimate compliment every time you review and even to see the numbers go up on those nifty little bar graphs.

Also, there's another story I've been playing with lately, another sci-fiish thing. But it less out there I would say. Quicker plot, and faster emotional connections. Far hunkier male characters. But…we'll see if I can keep up the sudden desire to write. Until then… have a good one.