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Setu saw him across the room, and knew that he was the right one. The antenna were a good clue; even in a crowded taproom, the fine spray of bruise-colored sensory organs were obvious. So was the small gap between the poor guy and everyone else in the bar.
Setu started making his way across the floor, slipping between drunken rednecks and long-legged hookers until he ended up at the stool between the blue-green bugger and the wall. "You know, sitting with your back to a corner on the opposite side from the door is pretty dangerous, in a crowd like this."
The alien ignored him. Setu forged ahead. "This is a port bar crowd. They fight when they can, drink when they can't, and try to molest what won't fight back."
The alien sipped its drink, which was a flat black. It might just be cola, in the low light- but it was more likely to be Pelabuhan beer, which had a surface texture like velvet, and which was opaque in bright sunlight- and combusted when coming into contact with ethanol. It was a risky thing for a bar to serve, even with modern fire-control systems.
Setu, fed up with the silence, reached towards one of the feathery antenna. The alien twitched it out of reach of his hand, and turned, widening his milky eyes. "Boracht kseu tnaiu," he said.
"Oh, bugger," said Setu. "Your translator is broken." The alien nodded in agreement, making distressed drumset noises.
Nearby patrons looked away pointedly, and Setu heard a mutter of "damn aliens." The Kid Space Bar was notoriously unfriendly to nonhumans, despite being three streets away from an international point of call.
Reluctantly, Setu unhooked his translator, told it to upload his personal data to his headset, and to wipe his settings. He handed it to the alien.
"-aaagh damn broken technology aagh where am I aaagh what the hell- oh, hi there," said the alien. "I'm Bosh."
"Yeah, kid, I know," said Setu. "I'm Setu, remember? I've been looking for you."
"I'm lost," said Bosh.
"You're in the Kid Space Bar," said Setu. "Which by the way isn't a good place to be, for your kind. I don't like it much either. Pay your bill, and you, me, and the translator are leaving."

Once they reached the outdoors, Setu took the alien by a shoulder strap and tugged it towards a coffee house across the street. Built of recycled espresso grounds, the building still had a distinctive smell- one that oddly kept away most of the riffraff.
"What-? Where-? Aaagh, that was a car!" Bosh's three-legged gait wasn't ideal for asphalt or potholes. ''I don't like streets," Bosh said.
"Do you even remember what species you are, kid?" asked Setu, guiding the alien through the gust of wind as they passed through the coffeehouse forcefield and into its much quieter environs.
"I'm not sure anymore... why are the walls transparent?" asked Bosh.
"Can you not see holograms, bugger?" The walls were covered with an earth-toned swirl of modern art that gave Setu the feeling of being inside a large peaceful clay bowl.
"Excuse me, gentlebeings. Can I get you something to drink? Would you like to see a menu?" A thing with tentacles and no eyes proffered the modern day descendant of the Amazon Kindle. The electronic paper drooped gently from the waiters' sucker-tipped appendages, and Setu held out a hand to sweep it up before it fell.
"Thanks, Weds," said Setu.
"aaagh!" said Bosh.
"Sit on a stool while I order, kid." Without hesitation, Setu pushed his companion towards a hovering disc. "Sit on it. Hell, dial an ass massage if you want, if you can find anywhere to put it. You're a grown-up now. Everything is on my bill- well, your father's bill- so don't worry about it."
Bosh fumbled with the control pad. He was silent, at least, save for a couple of yelps as he experimented with settings.
Setu propped his head on his hands and wondered to himself how on earth he was going to keep Bosh away from the girl Tabolac. Delivering the kid back to Boss, Bosh's father, was going to be difficult enough without also playing keep-away all the way back to the shuttle port. But letting the two romance-minded teenagers run into each other would be an invitation to fate to replay the famous holo-movie Romeo and Juliet, but with Earth and Boshausia standing in for the Montagues and the Capulets.
To the palpable dismay of Weds, the cafe manager, Bosh had gone through a sampler platter of soy-based fish lookalike prepared in various styles.
"Stop burping. What the hell is wrong with you? Did you check it against the metabolism list?"
Bosh's rattling noises increased their tempo until they finally crescendoed into a drum solo ending with a spectacular noise like a crash of cymbals, and spattering the walls with pseudofish ooze.
"...goddammmit," said Setu. "Weds, help me clean this up? I swear it's not toxic."

After finally managing to drag his charge back onto the street, Setu shook his head from side to side. "We better get orders from the head office soon, kid. You're costing me a pretty penny."
Bosh, still rattling occasionally, slumped along behind him. "What planet are we on?" he asked plaintively. "I want to go home."
Setu grabbed the shoulder strap again and, checking his personal communications device, he aimed the two of them towards where an all-species cleaning and bodily evacuation facility should be. "We're getting you cleaned up. You're on Earth, more or less. You're not going home until Humphrey tells me where to put you."
Bosh stopped dead in the middle of the street. "Humphrey? Humphrey? Where?" he swiveled his antenna and crouched, bending his three knees in disconcerting directions.
Just then, Setu's cell phone beeped inside his ear, the signal for a discreet incoming call. He clicked his tongue to "pick up" the call, and muttered "yes?" as Bosh twirled in circles, cringing and looking for Humphrey.
Through Setu's cell phone, he heard "Setu? Setu? This is Humphrey. You mentioned my name. What's going on? The Boss is impatient."
Setu had hold of his charge's backpack strap again, although perhaps not for much longer if the bugger kept trying to throw himself into traffic. "Hold still, Bosh, dammit! I'm not going to hurt you."
Bosh lunged towards, then away from, then back into the path of the speeding cars, making their drivers swerve violently. "No Humphrey!" he shouted.
"No Humphrey, " Setu agreed, trying to use sheer body weight to drag the alien back to the safe sidewalk. "I'll drag you by the antenna if I have to," he threatened, and was gratified when the bluegreen organs in questions retracted in alarm, leaving only a small tuft where previously there had been a tall frond of delicate sensory paraphernalia. "Come quietly and I'll take care of you," he said. "Get away from the frelling cars!"
Bosh wandered across the sidewalk and slumped down the wall until he was crouched into the corner of a shop entrance. "Humphrey says Tabolac doesn't like me," he said.
Setu groaned. As the adrenaline from the dance with cars faded, he gradually became aware of a frantic buzzing in his ear, which resolved itself into Humphrey's voice. "I've had days like that with the Boss," Humphrey said. "Taking care of a Boshausian is an adventure. Do you need help? Resources, money-?"

Setu barked a laugh. "An adventure! More like a nightmare. I'll contact you later. Setu out." In a louder voice, he told Bosh "No Humphrey, Bosh. I won't let Humphrey get you." He winced as the blatant untruth of his words seemed to make his charge feel better.
Bosh's antennae perked up, but he didn't move to get up. "I want Tabolac." The tripod-based alien didn't even rise when Setu tugged on his backpack. "Tabolac likes me."
Setu wiped his palm on his grime-blackened jeans and tried again to pull his companion to a vertical position. "Come on!"
"I'm stuck," said Bosh.
"We'll get you species-appropriate food, and a-" he sniffed the air and looked at the sad wet puddle growing below Bosh- "a shower and a bathroom-" he trailed off.
"Want Tabolac," said Bosh.
"Tabolac won't want you unless you get cleaned up. And faintingof hunger at his feet won't endear you to him. Humans don't like that sort of thing," said Setu.
"Humans are strange," said Bosh. "You're a human, right? Because you're strange." Bosh made a hiccuping noise, and the puddle grew larger.
"Get unstuck. We're getting you a shower." Setu stomped a few feet down the street, surreptitiously looking back at his charge. What a day. What a job. He'd signed up to be a babysitter and ended up a bounty hunter.
He took the opportunity to mutter into his headset. "Humphrey, you owe me for this one. I've got Bosh. He seems confused, almost sub-sentient."
Humphrey's voice rang in Setu's head, much too loud. "Setu! You're alive! Er, I mean- we were worried. Let me see if I can get the Boss on the line. He's in a conference with the head of a trade union, but I'm sure he wants an update."
''I only have a second," Setu said, as his charge struggled with the physiological challenge of standing up from a crouch. One leg strained mightily, slipped, and lost contact with the ground and flailed out, kicking a passing businessman in the briefcase.
"I'm sorry I'm sorry don't hurt me-!" said Bosh to the businessman, who snorted and kept walking.
Setu shook his head and turned back to talk into the mic. "Bosh doesn't recognize me. His antenna are... blue, more or less. Is that normal?"
Humphrey was silent for a moment. A faint sibilant came over the open phone line, and then he cleared his throat. "It sounds like preliminary signs of mating frenzy. Probably triggered by the... unfortunate incident with Tabolac."
Bosh had fallen over sideways and looked like he was considering staying there, with occasional flailing motions.
"Tabolac is a human, Humphrey- they can't mate, it would be obscene."

"They both seem willing to endure a little obscenity, Setu," said Humphrey. "Give the kid a chance. You're supposed to be his support in this world, not his moral sense."

"I'll think about it," said Setu. "I have to go help the kid up, Humphrey. But quick- how bad will it get? What can I expect?"
"It's different for everybody," said a different voice on the comn.

"Boss?" said Setu. "Good to hear from you. I've been spending your money like water looking for this kid. What is he going to throw at me in the way of biological crazy?"

"Hang on," said Humphrey, "I'm Googling Boshautian biology pages. A lot of it is mis-labeled as porn." He paused. "Sub-sentient and irrational are normal. He'll spray genital fluid like a firehose. Don't let him out of enclosed spaces, or he'll run. Avoid same-species contact or you'll be babysitting for years, and probably part of a lawsuit besides- "
"Enough. I'll update you later." Setu switched of the mic as Bosh struck out with two of his feet, yowled, and managed to tip himself upright.
"Want fooood!" said Bosh
"Alright, kid. We'll get you food." The place he'd been aiming for earlier wouldn't do- too small, too far away. Given the running in traffic, the 'don't let him out of enclosed spaces, or he'll run' was probably already kicking in. He waved down a cab by the simple expedient of firing off a cab-flare. All business travelers carried them when they were on-planet. They were bright but harmless, and could be seen for blocks even in full daylight. This one was blue- the color code for 'special circumstances, will-pay-lots.' He used it frequently.
Wrestling his increasingly restless charge to a standstill, Setu finally spotted a vehicle trying to get to them through the stop-and-go traffic. "I'm going to regret this," he said, and grabbed Bosh and staggered towards the cab like a rescue dog hauling a fat man. Bosh made drumset noises that echoed off of vehicles around them.
"Shaddup, you! Get outta the street!" A car honked. Its windows rolled down and loud music blasted out- small children were crying in the backseat. "Get that alien out of the street!"
The cab popped its rear door open as they arrived, and Setu body-blocked Bosh inside, not paying overmuch attention to which way up either of them landed. "Hey, mate," Setu said to the cabbie as the cab door automatically closed. "You're going to get beaucoup cash out of this. Get us to the Sandman Hotel, and pull up as close to the entrance as you can."
"Can do, boss," said the cabbie. "But pay me first."
Setu tossed his wallet over the divider and pulled up the Sandman's number on his personal communication device.
"Sandman hotel, front desk. How can we help you, Mr. Culta?"
"Setu, call me Setu. Mr. Culta is my dad. Jamie- this is Jamie, right? How are the kids?" He barreled on without giving her a chance to respond. "I'm babysitting a Boshausian that's trying to go into mating mode. You know what that means, the boss briefed you his first trip. Remember that trip?" Setu shook his head in reminiscence. "That's how it's supposed to go. Not like this. You know we'll pay for damages, Jamie. Put it on the boss's card, it's the boss's kid."
As one of the only alien-friendly hotels in the lower city, the Sandman got a lot of odd requests- some significant percentage of them from Setu's boss, when he came down from orbit. The Boss preferred to stay in The Majestic Tendril, which was his favorite ship of his merchant fleet, but sometimes business required a ground-based presence.
"Yes, Mr. Culta. Yes, Mr. Culta. When will you be arriving?" said jamie
"About twenty minutes," Setu said, hazarding a look out the cab windows around Bosh's flailing legs. "We're going to pull up to the back door. We're going to make a hell of a mess on the way in- the kid is leaking like hole in a dike. And keep any Boshausians far, far away from us for the love of little spiny blue crawly things- unless you want a lot of baby aliens in a month or two."
"We'll be ready, Mr. Culta," said Jamie. "Is there anything else I can help you with today?"
"When you get off work, let's get a drink. I need one now, and I'll need one more by then. Whenever then is. Any time. Really,"said Setu.
"Good day, Mr. Culta," said Jamie with a smile in her voice. "I'll see you when you get here."
The cabbie tossed his wallet back over the partition, and it bounced off of one of Bosh's waving legs and into a corner. Setu dove for it and got kicked in his head for his trouble.
"Kid! Settle down, or you're gonna make a hole in this thing,'' said Setu.
"Want Tabolaaaaac!" whined Bosh.
"You're a lot poorer now," said the cabbie. "And I still have your card number if he- what was that?"
A firehose was a somewhat accurate description, thought Setu, shielding his eyes with one hand. "Don't worry about it, just alien... puke," he said, hoping that a cabdriver was relatively used to vomit, where he might be more upset by other bodily excretions.
"What has that nuisance been eating?" asked the cabdriver idly, as he swerved in and out of the slow traffic with increasing speed, finally just using the shoulder of the road to zoom past the snarl of vehicles.
"Lemons," said Setu, inadvertently tasting some of the spray. "And... vodka?"
Setu's phone buzzed and he clicked his tongue to answer it. "We'll meet you at the Sandman in two hours," said Humphrey into Setu's ear. "Don't worry about the mess. We'll take the kid, lock him up until the frenzy passes- it takes about two days- and put him back to work at his old job."
"He hates deskwork," said Setu. "Get him a real job. Send him to Mars, whatever- just keep him away from Tabolac."

A subjective eternity later, Setu dragged himself out of the backseat of the cab and into the welcoming hallway of the Sandman. He accepted the towel that Jamie handed to him and wiped his face. Long tendrils of matter stuck to his eyebrows and in the stubble on his chin and cheeks.
Bosh remained huddled in a corner of the cab. Setu nodded to Jamie, who had thoughtfully covered the carped hallway in what appeared to be an infinite series of dropcloths, old newspapers, and dirty hotel linens. "Come on, Bosh. Here, boy. You can have a shoowwwer..."
With a groan, Setu leaned into the cab and grabbed the same backpack-strap. Slick with fluids, it slipped out of his hand. "Dammit! A little help here, will you?" he asked of no one in particular, and grabbed again.

(Three hours later...)

"Sorry we're late, Setu," said Humphrey. "We bought the big boys to bail you out, though." Three large humans were in the corridor. Their reassuring presence made Setu slump in relief. Still unshowered, he'd spent the intervening hours shoveling edibles into the cavernous maw of the kid. Malnutrition during mating frenzy was one of the common problems of the spacefaring Boshausian species, and it could be nasty to recover from.
"Screw you, Humphrey," said Setu, glancing reflexively over his shoulder. Bosh was too busy trying to eat the carpet to understand that his enemy was here. "You can't keep the kid in in the closet and wait for him to run an empire. If you don't let him out on his own for a few years, he won't be fit to run anything."
"But not today," said Humphrey. "Surely you can see that."
Setu looked at Bosh as he rolled on the floor and batted at chair legs, still softly wailing Tabolac's name. "Not today. But," he glared at Humphrey, "I'm sticking with the kid until he can fend for himself, you got it? No kicking me out and letting the bully-boys take over." The cavernous bags under Setu's eyes and the grease and beer on his clothing went oddly with his defiant voice. "He's my charge, like the Boss is yours. You and me, Humphrey" and his voice lowered to a conspiratorial murmur "You and me know that they need some help staying out of trouble, in this big universe."
"There's a reason they hire us as man-nannies," said Humphrey, clapping Setu on the shoulder. "I respect your position. I said the same myself, once. You're probably suffering from some mild Stockholms syndrome, but I won't question it. I'll leave the muscle, as you call them, under your supervision."
"Thanks," said Setu.
"Have him cleaned up and in the Boss's office in three days. Buy anything you want to keep him happy. If Tabolac shows up... consider turning a blind eye."
Setu shook his head. "No way," he said. "I found him in a bar, no translator, too blazed to talk straight- all because of Tabolac, and Tabolac can go hang."
"Young love," said Humphrey. "He'll get over it." Bosh scrambled to his feet, shook himself off, and stumbled towards the kitchen, making gnashing motions with his plant-eater molars.
"I'll see you in three days,'' said Setu.