[Edited for spelling and grammar mistakes, and to add line breaks because Fictionpress insists on deleting mine.]

They'd had a fight.

They'd had a fight and now Jakob was wandering through the docking district, wondering where they had parked.

"Oops," he said, coming to another dead end. The docks were the size of a small city, a massive, open-berthed tower that stretched to the edge of the atmosphere. It was important to remember where you parked.

Jakob did remember, at least he did when he entered the docks, but that was the tricky thing about pata. As long as you kept drinking it, you were fine. It was when it started to break down in your system that the drunk-truck had a full-on collision with your frontal lobes. That Jakob was still standing was impressive.

He hadn't meant to get drunk. That was Sebastian's thing. But he'd just been so furious that he walked into the nearest bar and ordered the menu. The cockroach next to him suggested pata instead. It was not a mistake Jakob would make twice.

The funny thing was he couldn't remember what had made him so mad in the first place.

Jakob rebounded off a pillar, landed on his knees and threw up. There wasn't much left in his stomach, so now his organs were having a go. Not his liver, of course, that had dissolved an hour ago.

The docks were lit with a steady, yellow light. Electric nets marked off the separate berths, huge two-handed switches set into thick pillars. Jakob used one to pull himself upright, stumbling back as the switch snapped down. The floor tilted. Jakob waved his arms, singeing his fingers on the electric net. He droppped, spread-eagle on the floor, waiting for everything to stop moving.

Jakob woke up, cheek in a puddle of...something. He didn't want to think about it. Whimpering, he crawled over to a pillar. There was snot running down his face. His throat burned, raw from the acid.

Oh, god, people did this for fun?

Holding onto the pillar, Jakob began searching for his ticket slip again. He knew he had it when he left. Maybe if he kept looking for it, it'd magically appear.

Third time was not a charm. Jakob slumped, then caught himself as his slump turned into a slide. He had to find the ship, and it looked like the only way was to check every berth. There were only three hundred per level. Only a thousand levels. Easy.

"Sebastian!" Jakob shouted, wincing as his voice echoed back to him. "Seeeeeebastian!"

There were times for being independent and there were times when you shrieked your boyfriend's name until he came and rescued you. Jakob had never encountered the latter before, but he had also never thrown up until he saw stars. There was a first time for everything.



Jakob froze, fingers digging into the pillar.


"I know you're here, baby. I can feel you."

Of course, Jakob thought. He'd been followed from the bar. His cockroach friend was determined. Jakob heaved himself off the pillar, staggered and began dragging himself towards the elevator.

"Why'd you leave, baby? I thought we were getting along."

The voice was closer. It had a sharp, nasally sound with a strong vibrato that edged on Jakob's nerves. In the bar it merely seemed interesting. Here, bouncing off the walls, it made Jakob's testicles crawl into his abdomen.

"You're hurting my feelings, meat-pie!"

Jakob reached a wall, and felt his way around it. The elevator was just ahead . If he could just-

"Hello, darling."

The cockroach spun him around. The room continued spinning even after Jakob stopped. There was a loud clicking, the sound of the cockroach's auxiliary legs snapping back and forth. One of his antennae brushed Jakob's cheek.

"This won't hurt a bit," the cockroach said.

Jakob blinked, trying to focus. Something dark with a pointed hook extended from under the cockroach's stomach plate. A drop of liquid hovered at the tip, then splashed onto Jakob's shoe. It burnt through the leather.

The pain jarred Jakob awake. He kicked, not as accurately as he could sober, but it made contact. The cockroach made a noise like fingernails on a blackboard and released Jakob. Using the wall for guidance, Jakob stumbled away, a small thought nudging itself through the fog. It wasn't properly an idea, just vague wonders that could become one. An idealet.

"Now it's going to hurt a lot," growled the cockroach.

Catch me first, Jakob thought. Something struck his shoulder and stuck there, knocking him around him around the corner. Jakob landed on his hands and knees. He continued crawling, not stopping to check his shoulder. Whatever it was could wait.

"You should be honored," said the cockroach, somewhere behind him. "You're going to be a mother."

Jakob passed a yellow line of lights set into the floor and turned right. He could hear the cockroach, scratching on the cement floor.

It's not actually cement, said Sebastian's voice in his head.

Not now, thought Jakob. He reached the pillar and pulled himself up, leaving bloody handprints. He turned around. The cockroach was approaching with a complacent air. Jakob wasn't going to get far.

"What are you doing, baby?" asked the cockroach.


"Don't worry, meat-pie. It'll be okay."

"Yes," said Jakob. "It will."

He yanked on the switch, hanging with all his weight. The electric net flickered into place, floor to ceiling. The cockroach jerked, blue sparks playing over his hard outer plates. Jakob closed his eyes, resting his forehead on the cool pillar. There was thump, and the net shorted out.

A black acrid smoke drifted from the cockroach's body. The smell of burnt fingernails filled the air. Jakob looked at the corpse for a moment, than stumbled away, trying to breath through his mouth.

He made it to the elevator, then stared uncomprehending at the control panel. There were lots of buttons, all of them labeled with unfamiliar symbols. Jakob dropped to the floor opposite the elevator, resting his head on his knees. When the nausea settled, he began searching his pockets, desperately digging for his parking slip.

There, scrunched into a tiny ball in the bottom of his pants pocket, was the ticket. Jakob held it up, giggling madly. He smoothed the paper over his leg, squinting at the paper. There was a big squiggly symbol at the top. Jakob looked up. The same symbol on a plaque next to the elevator. So he had the right level at least. On the ticket, there were two other symbols, matching zigzags. Jakob glanced to his left. One zigzag. To his right, three zigzags. A deep gaping feeling rose up in his gut, like falling from a great height.

Sebastian had left without him. He was alone and drunk on a strange planet. What was he going to-

"Jake? What are you doing out here?"

Sebastian stood over him, a box in his arms.

"Jake?" he repeated uncertainly, taking in Jakob's appearance.

Jakob held up his arms, wiggling his fingers like a three-year-old who wanted "up." Sebastian set down the box and lifted Jakob, holding him around the waist.

"You reek," Sebastian said. "What have you been doing?"

"I went to a bar," Jakob said.

"You went to a bar?"

"A cockroach wanted to lay eggs in my belly, but I zapped him." Jakob's vision was going hazy, a grey tunnel tingeing the edges. His voice seemed to be coming from very far away.

"You're drunk."

"Very, very," Jakob agreed. "Lots of Pata."

"Pata? Jake, that will kill you."

"I thought left without me, but you didn't." The tunnel was closing in, growing darker. "I'm sorry."


"I love you," Jakob slurred as his feet started to slip. "I'm sorry. I love you. Love you. Love you. Love-"

The tunnel collapsed. Jakob plunged into unconsciousness.

Jakob woke up in a hospital. There was something about hospitals that was universal, even though this one had walls had walls that looked like green sea glass. A silvery blanket was pulled up to his chin and a IV was inserted into his wrist.

"Hey," said Sebastian. "How do you feel?"

"Like I've been run over by a convoy," Jakob said. He sat up carefully. "How long have I been in here?"

"Three days. What were you thinking? You're supposed to dilute Pata, not drink it straight. You should be dead."

"Mmm." Jakob rubbed his shoulder. There was a rough, roundish scar.

"I pulled this out," said Sebastian, tossing something onto the bed. "Your pet took care of the rest."

Jakob picked up the barb. It was about four inches long, curved into hook, with the apex making a sharp point.

"It was the Pata that did the real damage," Sebastian said. "They had to grow you a new liver."

"It was probably time for a new one anyway." Jakob twirled the barb, memories creeping back.

"The authorities want to question you. Apparently a Creminian corpse was found in the docks."

"He was trying to lay eggs in my chest," said Jakob.

"They say you left the bar with him."

"Yes, I wanted to go home with the egg-laying rapist. He followed me." Jakob tugged at the blanket. One particular memory was bobbing on the surface. "Sebastian?"


"Did I say anything?"

Sebastian was quiet. Jakob looked at him. A long moment stretched past. Then Sebastian smiled.

"No," he said. "You were babbling something, but I couldn't understand you."

"I was very drunk."

"Extremely," Sebastian said. He stood up, giving Jakob a kiss on the temple. "I'll go see if you can leave."

Jakob lay back, closing his eyes.


"I thought you left," Jakob said.

"I wouldn't leave without you," Sebastian said.

Jakob opened his eyes. Sebastian flashed him a grin and closed the door. Alone, Jakob stared at the ceiling.

He was never drinking again.