"That's because humans are still vulnerable. Port is on the edge of the galaxy and a privately owned planet, but even a place such as this must have regular deliveries and visitors. We see our share of bounty hunters and some rather unsavory sorts, but that's why you have custodians. We're here to protect you, but it's just a lot easier for everyone if the humans aren't flinging themselves towards the unsavory sorts." I hold the small basket of fried leaves out to her. "Want one?"
She nods, reaching over to snag one from my hand, and that small gesture makes me feel warm. I don't know why this particular human affects me so much, but seeing her trust me fills me with pleasure. "It is nice to be able to go out," she admits. "The stars are lovely and there's a cool breeze."
"And excellent company."
"Who still doesn't want to see your warty cock." She shakes her head, giving me an exasperated look. "Is it always about sex with men, by the way? I swear, some things are universal."
I shrug, lifting my arm from her shoulders so I can eat a few of the greasy, delicious leaves myself. "It was something I knew you'd have a very vocal response to if you heard me, so it seemed a safe bet." The custodian in me scans the quiet street as we walk. The few shops and offices are closed, the only lights on that of the medic down the street and the cantina behind us. Port all but goes to sleep when dark hits, and the quiet is surprisingly nice. It's nothing like my family's estate back on Homeworld, but it's still rather pleasant. It occurs to me that I might be the only one enjoying the change in scenery, though. I glance down at the female at my side. "I'm sorry if you were hoping to stay at the cantina."
Ashley shakes her head. "When it's crowded like that, it's so much harder to hear. Even when I'm looking right at you and watching your mouth move, I can't make out what you're saying sometimes. This is better." She jostles me with her hip. "And you picked the correct side to stand on, for what it's worth. I hear better out of my right ear."
"Noted." I offer her another leaf.
She plucks it from the basket and then pauses, holding her skewer up to me. "Did you want a taste? Or do you find meat gross?"
I'm surprised she knows mesakkah dietary habits. Some will eat anything—Rektar springs to mind—but those of us from Homeworld have a more difficult time opening up our palates to new experiences. Then again, I don't know why her knowledge surprises me. She mentioned she was taken from her planet by a mesakkah, and the thought fills me with a helpless sort of fury on her behalf. "I'm willing to try just about anything once," I tell her, and take the kebab and examine it. The cubes are all very regularly shaped, and some look drippier than others. "Oh, this will be an adventure I can tell the others about at work tomorrow."
Ashley giggles again. "Not a fan of meat?"
"I didn't say that." I should have, perhaps, but I want to impress her. Gingerly, I take a nibble of the meat cube at the top. The taste is smoky and strong, but the texture is…terrifying. It's chewy. And rubbery. And I keep chewing, hoping to masticate it enough to force it down my throat, but it doesn't seem to want to go.
This is horrifyingly awful.
I chew slower, my nostrils flaring as I try not to spit the abominable piece of rubbery animal flesh out of my mouth.
At my side, Ashley giggles so hard that she snorts, and the sound makes me laugh, too. "I can't believe a race with big ol' fangs like you aren't meat eaters. You should see your face."
"I don't need to see my face. I'm still keffing chewing."
She snort-giggles again, laughing harder. "I won't think badly of you if you spit it out—"
No sooner does she say that than I turn and hack the dreadful bit out of my mouth. I wipe my lips with the back of my hand, groaning in revulsion at the lingering taste. "Well, I did say I'd try it. Now I can cheerfully live the rest of my life knowing that I was right all along and meat is terrible."
She laughs harder, holding her side as she tears off another bite. "You're wrong and meat is delicious. What else are you going to put in your noodles?"
"Heathen!" She reaches over and snags another one of my leaves. "I had no idea your kind were so precious about your meals. Now I know if I don't want you to show up at my house, all I have to do is put on a big, delicious, rare roast."