Arde told the idiot tapping on his door to go away. He didn't want to see anyone, let alone someone who *tapped*.
"I don't think so." The hermaphrodite - what was its name? Thorne. Thorne walked in.
"What do you want?" Arde didn't bother getting out of his bed, much less standing up or putting on a pair of pants.
It sat on the only chair in the cabin. "I want to talk to you, Ser Mayhew. We're worried."
"Who's 'we', Captain?" He took a pull from his bottle.
"Commander Bothari. Commander Jesek. Me. You haven't been down to meals. You haven't looked at your ship. You've been *here* all the time. Drinking that stuff."
"What's the point? The ship is useless and I'm useless, and that blasted kid isn't here to screw up my brain to make me think I'm not useless."
"Kid? Admiral Naismith?"
He took another drink. "You know. Eighteen years ago, or so, I met someone just like him. Funny. Her name was Naismith, too. Redhead. Paid me more than I asked to take her one-way to Barrayar of all places. Right after the war, too, when all we could think about was that damn Butcher. And I wouldn't have done it, either, except she screwed up my brain. Why are you here, Captain?"
"I told you. And I thought maybe I can help." It smiled.
"How can you help? I'm just a washed up pilot - nobody makes my drive anymore. I'm never gonna be colors again, and I can't afford other implants even they'd work on someone my age." The bottle was empty. "And no guy's gonna look at a washed-up pilot, but that's nothing new."
He could see Thorne taking a peek at his earrings. Its own ears said that it was single, available and open to all sexes. "I *am* a man, too, you know." It tilted its head.
"I'm not into pityfucks."
"Sex is sex. And I'm very good at it." It tossed its head, revealing a stronger jaw than Arde realized. It looked less androgynous than before - the thing about herms that always confused him. "Have you ever had sex with one of us before?"
"Yeah. I did the normal stuff when I was a kid. And what do you mean…" Before he could say, "before", Thorne kissed him.
It was a damn good kisser, too. The lack of beard didn't bother him much - he'd slept with a number of men who'd stunned their follicles. He'd done it a time or two himself. The softness pressed against him was something else again. It leaned back. "I meant that. You need this right now."
"I don't want your pity, Captain. I told you so."
"Okay, how about I'm horny? There aren't many other Betas around here and I …"
"You have a crush on Admiralboy." Arde smiled. "What the hell. Come here, Captain." He pulled it to the bed.
"Call me Bel."
"You got it, Captain."
If Bel had too much breast for Arde's taste, it had the right amount of cock. And it was all smooth muscle where it wasn't soft. It also knew all sorts of things that non Betans never seemed to figure out - Arde had spent too many years picking up tricks at various space stations. He'd forgotten the sheer joy of Betan imagination.
And he used his own, nuzzling its breasts and sucking its nipples until it moaned, rubbing himself against its cock until they were both about to come. He even sucked on it while playing with its clitoris - something he hadn't done since he'd last had sex with hermaphrodites or women. It did make the most gratifying sounds.
And then, when it turned him over and sank into him, he made his own gratifying sounds. Yeah, he'd forgotten how nice it could be. Later, he fell asleep with his arms around Bel, who felt pretty good there.
Next morning, Bel kissed him on the cheek and left, taking the rest of his bottles with it. Arde smiled as he went to breakfast. Yeah, fine, it was just for the one night, and it was just out of pity - but pity sex was better than no sex at all. And who knew? Maybe he'd pick up one of those cute Dendarii guys.
He whistled on his way to the dining room.