by Palantean Writer


Tanna didn’t understand.

Moo knew that, and it made him very sad indeed.  She didn’t, couldn’t understand that the assault didn’t matter.

She didn’t understand that yes, it was a bad thing for Sar’ Helm to have done but it didn’t matter because at other times Helm did such good things to him.  Things nobody had really been able to show him since his father had sent them off to school and disappeared like a dust devil in the desert.

In fact, that was exactly it. Helm was the guide Moo had lost when his father had deserted them.  That was why Moo needed him.

Tanna couldn’t have understood because she was so confident.  She was his guide too, but she wasn’t the same sort of guide.  But why could she not see that Moo needed male guidance sometimes, or whatever magic it was that Sar’ Helm had?

It wasn’t about attempted rape …

Moo sighed.  The day was old so he mentally prepared himself for the ritual humiliation of attending the communal bathrooms for a shower.  He padded his way down the hallway, holding his towel against his belly so that other kilm he walked past couldn’t see the worst of his body fat.  Nobody at the station knew how relieved he’d been when he’d first seen the doors to the showers.  With a body like his he yearned for discretion when naked.

He got there having only passed by two kilm who he didn’t recognize (but whose gazes he’d avoided by watching the floor as he walked by), found a cubicle and entered, and stripped.

Did Helm really want me?  Did he really want this body? Moo wondered as he looked down at his flabby belly, at his soft forearms.  For a kilmi who thought himself undesirable it had been quite a confidence boost.  How could Tanna have understood that?  How could he ever explain it?  He shuddered; he never would.  That would be far too embarrassing.

He showered and as he did, tried to work out what was enticing about his body, what had drawn Helm to him.  Physically he felt awkward, and thought others thought so too.  He particularly disliked the way his torso was so chubby but his legs were as skinny as any kilm’s, like some kind of swollen fruit with two chopsticks stuck in.

Did Helm try to have sex with me as a favour to me?  The idea hit him hard enough to make the hand he held his soap in drop to his side.  He felt his jaw go slack and blinked a few times at the wall.  His heart sank.  The water continued to cascade over him just like it had before he’d had this upsetting realization.  Could it be true?  That Helm never desired me and only wanted to let me lose my virginity as a favour, as a friend?

He looked down at the soap and reluctantly continued cleaning his Undesirable Body. Of course that was it!  How could he have thought anything else?

Moo had noticed many times the way sexually-active kilm looked confident about their bodies.  Something about having had sex made them move like maui, sleek and supple.  He was jealous about that.  If the desirable Helm had sex with him, would it bring out the same sexiness in Moo?  If he felt the desire those sexually-active kilm felt (because sex was the ultimate pleasure, wasn’t it?), would it make him move like they did?

He had to speak to Helm. He had to give them both a second chance.

And he had to keep it secret from Tanna.


He hadn’t thought about how difficult it would be.  Now that he could see Helm pushing his tray along the canteen bench and chatting with some kilma, he realized that this was going to be incredibly humiliating no matter how it went.

He took a breath, tried to summon up enough courage, and walked to get a tray of his own.


Moo loved his food and took big helpings until his plate was piled high.  And as always, he felt the judgement of the kilm to each side of him and noticed disapproving glances from the kitchen staff.  Half-way through putting his fourth spoon of carbohydrate on his plate he thought, Would a sexually attractive kilm pile their plate so high?  He knew in a second that they wouldn’t.  Gulping and blushing, he gingerly put the final spoon back.

by Palantean Writer


He was hungry and wished he could eat as much as he needed.  He probably wouldn’t be able to concentrate for most of the afternoon.

The kilma to his left snorted with restrained laughter.

Moo took his plate and hurried away, his face burning.

Now that he realized his plate was unattractively full, he realized he’d weakened his position in asking Helm for another try at sex.  His step faltered and he was just wondering whether to go back and put some of the food back (but he’d look even more strange if he did that.  He’d have to wrestle his way between kilm to put it back and none of what he’d chosen was individually packaged) when Helm called him.

“Sar’ Muss!”

Whenever Moo called Helm he felt sure he sounded like a drowning kilmi crying out for help, no matter how gently he called.  There was an air of desperation, of ‘please don’t leave me to die!’ about it.  Whenever Helm called Moo, by contrast, he sounded very different.  He sounded like he’d survive with or without Moo but always seemed to be lazily and self-assuredly saying, ‘What entertainment can I get from this kilm?’

Moo smiled shyly and stumbled over to sit opposite Helm.