It wasn't long before reality began to seep back in, and the euphoria was replaced with uncertainty.
She was the first to speak. "So what do we do now?"
"You were the one who said this kind of thing wouldn't work," he reminded her. For a moment he wondered if he hadn't said it himself, but that was probably just a remnant of the Sharing.
"I know," she said with a sigh. "And it won't. Especially not in this town."
"It's not that small," he said.
"No, but there's still a substantial circle that know both of us, and your spouse." She sat up and brushed some wrinkles out of her blouse. "There's nothing wrong with a married person spending time with a friend, having lunch with hir, going to a movie, having sex--but it shouldn't go any further than that. However open-minded you may be-- and your mind was very open indeed--your spouse is a bit more straitlaced. We both know that. And, dammit, I don't want to break you up!"
He sighed. "I know. I love hir too, but...well, sometimes sie's not enough. It's not that I'm getting bored with hir, or anything, but there are so many people out there I want to Share with. I just want to Share with the whole world sometimes, you know what I mean?"
Her smile was sad. "I do. I've wanted to Share with you for a long time, but I had no idea that was reciprocated."
"I love my spouse," he said. "You know that. With you, it's too new. I don't know what I feel yet. What it will be like in the long run. But I can't make it matter to me, really. I want to Share with you again, over and over, until we're the same under the skin."
"That is a bit scary," she said jocularly, but he caught the serious undertone as well, and drew back. "But I'm serious. What are you going to do? If we Share too often, sie'll notice it in you. I assume you and your spouse still Share once in a while? Your...technique wasn't rusty enough." That did bring a genuine smile from him, if briefly. "So, just from today, sie'll notice a few traces, but ones that can probably be passed off from surface Sharing, like if we just had sex, or a good gestalt moment, or something. Which wouldn't be a bad cover," she said, rubbing her breast provocatively.
"Do you think that we'd be able to do it without Sharing, just by accident?" he asked. "My willpower is at a low right now, I'm afraid. I don't trust myself if I loosen my control."
"So we have three options. One, you don't hide it from your spouse, which means eventually sie finds out, and probably splits with you to hir eternal shame, and the detriment of both your reputations...but we can be together, which'll probably do it for what little of my reputation is left. And, as you more or less pointed out, we may not be a good match in the long run.
"Two, we stop Sharing. If we trust ourselves, we can remain friends, although I doubt we'll have the intimacy we did before, which will hurt in itself. Otherwise we'll have to make a clean break, which will be really painful and maybe set people to wondering why. Our friendship up until now hasn't exactly been clandestine, you know.
"Three, we keep going on like this, trying to hide it from hir, and eventually we get careless and sie finds out, see option one--
"You don't think we can--"
"No, I don't. Trust me. I haven't quite been here before, but I've come very close and I know the odds of a slipup. Or, the stress will get to us, we'll start to fight, and see option two, subsection 'a'."
"Jesus, you're cold about this," he said after a while.
"Oh, god," she said. "One of us has to be. Otherwise our short-term pleasure personalities will take over our lives and ruin them for everything else. Letting one part of your mind make a decision for all of you is a recipe for disaster."
"I forgot that you're a psych," he said, with rather more edge than he intended. He got up and walked to the doorway, pausing there to look back at her.
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"To think," he said. "To bring the disparate parts of my brain to a compromise, which will please none of them. To make a decision, and try to convince myself it's the right one."
"But can't we both--"
"Apparently not. If we're too close, our personae don't have equal representation. Isn't that what you're saying? So we have to make our decisions separately. Or, rather, I have to make my decision, and you can abide by it. Happy?"
She lay on the bed, listening to him put his coat and boots on and not quite slam the door. Then she let the tears start. That's right. Get it out.
"Oh, shut up," she said to the psych part of her brain.
Back to my talk.bizarre page...
The Den of Ubiquity/ Aaron V. Humphrey / email@example.com