Chapter 403 Skirts
Khan's vast experience in lies and pretenses could give birth to reasonable justifications and excuses that even someone like Monica would believe. Yet, he didn't want to rely on any of that.
The imminent meeting would probably establish the relationship's future as long as Monica was willing to receive Khan. He didn't want lies to taint such an important step, but that desire left him in the dark.
Khan was still unaware of many aspects of Monica's character. He only knew where he stood, and she might not accept that. There was only uncertainty ahead, but Khan had to advance anyway.
The corridor went by, the elevator descended, and a familiar door eventually filled Khan's vision. He had reached Monica's room, but his arrival felt too early. A childish desire to postpone that event surged, but his resolve held firm, and a knocking noise soon resounded.
Khan's sensitivity allowed him to sense what was happening past the door, and some surprise arrived when a familiar presence approached it. A warm smile appeared on his face when he took a step back, and Martha's figure unfolded in his vision once the entrance opened.
Martha shot an emotionless glance at Khan before stepping forward to let the door close behind her. Some helplessness seeped into the synthetic mana, but Khan also sensed some peace.
"You turned into a scoundrel," Martha commented, "And an idiot."
"I have always been an idiot," Khan pointed out.
"That's true," Martha sighed. "The scoundrel part is an exaggeration, but you messed up this time."
"I know," Khan admitted as his smile vanished and his eyes went to the door. "Is she willing to talk"
"Beats me," Martha scoffed. "Even I can't predict her mood swings."
Khan remained silent. Seeing Monica cry had been far from good. If possible, he wanted to see her smile before the end of the day.
"Cora was really too good for you," Martha continued, claiming Khan's attention.
"I know," Khan repeated. "Maybe I should just give up on this stuff."
"I didn't mean that," Martha revealed. "Cora was all good. You are better off with someone who is also bad."
Khan knew that Martha's words were on point, but he frowned anyway. He couldn't understand why she was giving him romantic advice.
"You-," Martha voiced before diverting her gaze and wrapping her arms behind her back. She appeared unwilling to speak, but she eventually mustered her resolve. "It took me a while to accept how much you have changed."
The atmosphere immediately grew serious. Khan and Martha had some unfinished business, and Milia 222 didn't give them much time to deal with it. Martha had also needed time, but she seemed ready to speak now.
"I should have checked on you more often," Khan realized.
"No, you shouldn't have," Martha scoffed. "I'm not helpless anymore, remember You made sure of that."
Khan wanted to frown again, but an idea suddenly popped into his mind and made him smile. He had understood something, so a question followed. "Did you get the chance to fight today"
"I did," Martha chuckled. "I didn't freeze, so you can stop worrying about me."
Martha's expression told Khan that the fight had gone well. That reaction reassured him a lot, but he still followed with an honest answer. "I will always worry."
Khan's words triggered a reaction in the synthetic mana around Martha. Her face remained calm, but her emotions didn't lie. Her heart was still too close to the matter.
"That honesty of yours is always so sneaky," Martha cursed. "Can't you just be an idiot all the time"
"I do my best every day," Khan joked. "I just happen to fail."
"You are hopeless," Martha giggled before calming down to show a warm smile. "I'll miss your stupid jokes."
"Are you leaving" Khan promptly asked.
"No," Martha replied, "But the mission is almost over, isn't it Also, you aren't the type to stay in the same place for too long."
"We can arrange something-" Khan said, but Martha interrupted him. "Stop right there. I don't need a caretaker."
"I'm not your caretaker," Khan explained. "I'm your friend."
"Yes," Martha sighed. "That's why I need you to understand. I can't move forward if I remain in the safety of the past."
It was clear that something had changed in the last period. The missions with Monica and the friendship with Jenna had made Martha grow, eventually leading to that moment.
Khan understood what Martha was trying to say, so he didn't add anything. He waited, and his friend eventually continued.
"I need to face my own missions and gain my own experience," Martha stated. "I need to make my own mind on the universe and see who I'll become."
Khan agreed with Martha. He would worry, but she needed that experience. Moreover, Luke would probably opt for an easier mission after Milia 222, which reassured Khan about Martha's future.
Martha seemed to freeze for a few seconds when she saw Khan's smile. She could almost sense the gesture's concern and affection, which pushed her speech into the next phase.
"You don't feel emotions like humans anymore, right" Martha asked.
A tremor ran through Khan's eyes. He didn't expect Martha to mention that topic, but it made sense considering her friendship with Jenna.
"It's hard to explain," Khan revealed.
"I bet," Martha uttered. "I bet it's even harder for you."
"At times," Khan nodded. "It can be very worth it."
"Does Monica make it worth it" Martha wondered.
"I'll see," Khan responded. "I still can't say much about that."
"Hey, Khan," Martha called as a faint blush covered her cheeks, "You can see emotions, right"
"Not really see," Khan vaguely answered.
"How does it work" Martha questioned.
"They are sensations," Khan tried his best to explain, "Which turn into colors when I close my eyes."
"Which colors do you see around me" Martha wondered.
Khan closed his eyes to gain a better view of the symphony. Various shades occupied the corridor, but the most intense were around Martha. She wasn't doing anything, but her emotions had given the synthetic mana a cozy yellow color.
"Yellow," Khan revealed while opening his eyes. "It's quite nice."
"Do you know what it means" Martha asked.
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Khan could say a lot, but he only nodded. Martha's blush intensified, but she promptly took a deep breath to calm down.
"I guess there is no point in hiding them," Martha cursed before stepping forward and wrapping her arms around Khan's torso.
The surprising event left Khan with his arms lifted, but the purity of Martha's feelings quickly made him give up. He hugged her back, and the two remained in that position for almost a minute.
"Martha," Khan called when the two separated.
"No," Martha stated. "Don't say anything."
Khan obeyed, but some sadness inevitably seeped into his face. He wanted Martha to be happy from the bottom of his heart. Yet, he couldn't be the reason behind that happiness.
"I'm pissed about us missing our chance," Martha suddenly admitted, "But not so much anymore. I'll focus on myself from now on. If I don't stop liking you even after becoming independent, I'll come to get you."
"I might be in a very dark part of the universe by then," Khan smirked, "And I might not be alone."
"We'll have our talk if that happens," Martha laughed before lifting her right hand. "In the meantime, friends"
"We'll always be friends," Khan promised while taking Martha's hand to pull her back into his arms. She complained at that abrupt hug but quickly gave up and joined the affectionate gesture.
"You do realize that this isn't a goodbye" Khan joked when the hug went on for more than a few seconds. "We will stay here for at least one more month."
"Monica might kill you today," Martha pointed out while separating from Khan.
"Right," Khan sighed.
"She has a nasty temper," Martha chuckled as she stepped aside. "Good luck."
"I'll do my best," Khan replied as he approached the door. Martha began to walk toward the elevator, but she decided to add something before Khan could knock. "I explained part of Jenna and the Nele's customs. I thought hearing them from me would help."
"I hope it did," Khan said while showing a grateful face to Martha. "Thank you."
"Don't make things worse," Martha warned, "Or you'll hear it from me."
Khan and Martha ended up laughing. An exchange of meaningful gazes followed, but Martha eventually turned to leave. Khan kept track of her until she entered the elevator, and his focus went back on the door at that point.
"Monica," Khan called while knocking on the door. "Can we talk"
Nothing came out of the door. Utter silence unfolded, and Khan let a few seconds pass before knocking again and voicing another line. "I know you are awake. Give me a chance to explain."
Silence unfolded again. Monica seemed to have no intention of opening the door, so Khan decided to resort to tricks.
'Her anger is better than her silence,' Khan thought before cracking a joke. "You don't have to dress up. I like you even without your skirts."
The door unlocked right away, even if Khan didn't sense anyone coming from the other side. Monica had opened it remotely, and Khan didn't know whether that was a good sign.
Khan crossed the entrance only to find a pillow flying in his direction. He caught it before it could hit his face, but another arrived right after the door closed.
The first pillow acted as a shield for the second, and Khan felt the need to rely on it for the following items. Shoes, bags, and even a small mirror flew in his direction as he tried to get deeper into the room.
The storm of items eventually ended, allowing Khan to reach a spot where he could see the bed. Monica was on the opposite side of the mattress, covered by a blanket. He couldn't see her face from his position, but the synthetic mana told him everything he needed to know.
'Why am I having fun when she is so pissed' Khan cursed as he touched his face. 'I'm even smiling.'
Khan approached Monica slowly, taking his time to put away his smile. He could sense how pissed she was, but that was fine. Instead, the lingering sadness that enveloped that anger was far harder to take.
The bed was dangerous territory. Khan didn't dare to approach it. Instead, he walked around it to slowly reach the side where Monica was.
As soon as Khan reached Monica, she threw the blanket on him and started slapping blindly. She never truly tried to hit him, and he had the pillow as a shield, but the words that accompanied that explosion were far from pleasant.
"I trusted you!" Monica screamed. "Am I just a game to you! Go away! Leave me alone!"
The explosion didn't end there. Monica voiced her insecurities and anger while attacking the pillow. Her slaps were relatively harmless, but Khan felt bad nonetheless and let Monica vent.
A sob eventually resounded in the room and ended that fury. Monica lowered her face to cry, but she lifted it as soon as Khan removed the blanket from his head.
"Leave," Monica sniffed in a far calmer tone. "I'll really hit you if you don't."
"Sure, hit me," Khan said as he threw away the pillow and crouched before the bed. He even placed his arms on the mattress to leave his face uncovered.
Khan's resolve made Monica even angrier. She lifted her right arm to prepare a slap, but her hand remained in the air. A sob then broke her posture and made her reveal the sadness hidden under her rage. "Why did you lie"
"Technically," Khan announced, but a slap landed on his cheek before he could continue his line.
"You can't even try to be serious," Monica shook her head before turning and lying back on the bed. She didn't care that her pillows and blanket were gone. She simply couldn't stand to look at Khan.
That comment told Khan how serious the situation was. He could take anger, but that intense sadness was too much. Part of him even wondered whether the damage was too serious, but he wouldn't give up without trying.
"Did Martha tell you anything" Khan asked, but no answer came.
"Let's see," Khan continued. "You know how the Nele have only one lover throughout their lives That creates an extreme mindset deeply ruled by feelings."
Monica remained silent. Khan could only stare at her back while he chose his following words. He didn't want to reveal any secret about the Nele, but he had to give something to explain his situation.
"The feelings are a problem," Khan followed. "Some Nele experience them more intensely, and Jenna is one of them. You can't imagine how extreme her thoughts are."
"Jenna, Jenna," Monica snorted as she straightened her back without turning. "Did you come here to justify her Sure, I forgive her. Now leave."
"Do you know why she told you those things" Khan asked.
"I don't care anymore," Monica replied.
"She sensed that I was getting serious with you," Khan continued, "And her jealousy made her act crazy."
A change finally happened, but not in Monica's posture. A new feeling joined the sadness and rage. The synthetic mana gained a sliver of hope.
"We have never kissed," Khan pressed on. "We sleep naked because that's the closest she can get to experiencing a real relationship, but we have never actually done anything."
"Do you take me for a fool" Monica wondered. "Do you want me to believe that you never kissed her after sleeping together for so long"
"You forgot the naked part," Khan pointed out.
"I didn't forget it!" Monica shouted as she turned to deliver another slap, but she interrupted her attack when she saw Khan's honest smile.
"You finally turned," Khan exclaimed. "I'm sorry for making you cry."
"Shut up," Monica whined while lowering her head. "So, what Should I just accept that you sleep with another woman when you aren't with me"
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"Jenna would probably invite you over," Khan revealed.
"What!" Monica gasped as her gaze went back to Khan.
"She has already accepted you," Khan exclaimed. "She is actually the one who pushed me to consider you. I would have tried to avoid getting too close otherwise."
"Why would she do that" Monica asked. "Doesn't she like you"
"That's the point," Khan stated. "I give her the closest thing to a relationship, and she takes care of my happiness. You simply happened to be suitable, according to her."
"Wait," Monica stated. "Did you kiss me because Jenna told you so"
"No, she only put the idea in my mind," Khan laughed. "I did the rest by myself. She even got pretty jealous afterward."
"I don't get it," Monica voiced. "Why didn't you choose her"
"Because I can't give her what she deserves," Khan revealed.
"Why" Monica pressed on.
Khan diverted his gaze. He was about to speak about things that still hurt him deeply, but he had to try for that slim chance of being happy.
"The Nele experience feelings like the Niqols," Khan explained. "There are some differences, but still. I would have a type of relationship with Jenna where she would always be second place."
"And what about me" Monica asked. "Would I also be a second place"
"I have no idea," Khan admitted. "I only know that I like what we have and want to see where it leads. It's a risk, but that's all I can give."
Monica didn't ask another question. She lowered her gaze as she absorbed everything she had learnt. Truth be told, Martha had already reassured her, but the matter was still hard to accept.
"Did you never kiss" Monica questioned.
"Never," Khan swore. "We had many opportunities, but we always stopped."
"But, why do you have to be naked" Monica asked.
"Jenna got naked on her own during our second meeting," Khan sighed. "She never agreed to wear clothes after that."
"Second meeting!" Monica gasped.
"I told you," Khan chuckled. "It's Nele stuff. It's only more intense with Jenna. We had reached a frail balance, but you shattered it."
"How is this my fault" Monica pouted.
"You should have tried to be dumber," Khan joked, "Or more boring. You were also too hot for me to completely ignore you."
"Shut up already!" Monica complained as shyness filled her expression.
"Monica," Khan called in a serious tone, "I have always been honest with you, but I get it. If you can't accept my strange friendship with Jenna, I'll just walk away."
"Is she so important to you" Monica asked.
"She is," Khan revealed, "But so are you. However, similar situations might appear in the future, and I can't force you to accept them."
"How many women do you plan on having in your bed!" Monica shouted while lifting her gaze.
"Hopefully, only one," Khan declared. "I was talking about other alien customs. I wanted to prepare you to avoid this fight in the future."
"I'll always complain if you bring other women to bed," Monica scoffed.
"I'm sure you'll be able to kick them out," Khan laughed.
"Don't joke about it!" Monica cried. "It's not funny."
"Isn't it" Khan asked as he stood up to climb on the bed. "You know I like teasing you."
"Get off!" Monica ordered. "I'm still mad at you."
"But you aren't breaking up with me, are you" Khan wondered as he got closer to Monica.
Monica crossed her arms and fixed her gaze on the mattress. She could hear Khan's honesty, and she couldn't deny her feelings, which eventually made her voice a weak "no".
Khan reached for Monica's face when he got close enough. He took her cheeks between his hands and used his thumbs to wipe away her tears. He couldn't believe that he had made her cry, and he promised to make up for that.
"Did you really think about getting serious" Monica questioned in her shy tone.
"Yes," Khan revealed. "Something clicked after our night together."
"Don't talk about that," Monica timidly complained. "It was only yesterday."
"You know I like teasing you," Khan repeated. "You are too cute for me to hold back, especially when you get mad."
"Am I only someone to tease and kiss then" Monica asked.
"I have far more in mind," Khan smirked. "Do you want to hear it"
"Not a chance," Monica finally smiled and reached for Khan's wrists. That gesture marked a change in the mood, and the two soon found themselves immersed in a deep kiss.
"I have yet to forgive you," Monica pouted when the kiss ended.
"I have yet to forgive myself," Khan whispered, and Monica's pretense melted before going for another kiss.
The couple eventually lay in bed. Monica used Khan's left arm as a pillow while she kept giving and receiving kisses. The intimate gesture never became too passionate, and it took a break when Monica found something to say.
"A risk," Monica said while caressing Khan's face. "My family will never accept this relationship. I guess I also don't know if we have a future."
"I'm fine with that," Khan stated. "Are you"
Monica replied with a kiss, but she added something when their lips separated. "Though, I'll need to talk with Jenna. I don't want her to tempt my man so brazenly."
"You can always get naked and do the same," Khan suggested.
"Shut it," Monica snorted, but her tone soon grew timid. "You'll have to settle for the clothes I decide to use."
"Well," Khan chuckled. "It's your fault I have a thing for skirts now. You must take responsibility."
"I will," Monica replied without hesitation, and the seriousness that accompanied her statement affected the mood. The two fell into another kiss, and words took a long time to return in the room.-