In this chapter, Buffy gets to experience the pleasures of prehistoric life, and is not very impressed by them. :-)
Characters: Hiywan (the First Slayer before she became a Slayer), Buffy. See here for a glossary of original characters.
Wordcount: 21,642. This chapter 3414
Rating: 18 (R) (Non-explicit references to sex, nudity, animal deaths, various bodily functions, nature being red in tooth and claw, etc.)
(Note that this chapter gets rather more explicit than the previous ones.)
Previous chapters: One Two
So what could we do? I looked around, considering.
The evening meal was still some time away. Normally, I'd go and chat with my friends, see what they'd been up to today: but it seemed rude to do that with Buffy there. She'd be completely left out, not understanding what we said. I couldn't just leave her. Or could I? Maybe she wanted some time to herself?
I sneaked a look at her; she seemed a little restless, peering around the camp in all directions. When she met my eyes I shrugged, then made up my mind and pointed in the direction of the butchery ground, raising my eyebrows and pointing at her. "Do you want to come too?" Maybe it would interest her to help prepare the meat she caught today.
She looked uncertain, tried to ask me something, then just shrugged herself and gestured for me to lead on. So I did. For obvious reasons the butchery ground is a little way outside the camp, downriver beside the stream.
Amare does most of the butchery for the clan. He's good at it, and makes sure none of the animal's hide or bone goes to waste, which is very important. It's an unpleasant job, though, and he get special privileges to make up for it: second choice from any of the meat he prepares, first choice of the skins; and Belaye usually assigns him a couple of assistants from the other men each day to help with the really dirty or difficult tasks. Still, spending the day up to your elbows in animal guts isn't the most attractive occupation, and a lot of the clan tend to avoid him. Which I think is unfair; Amare's a nice guy, he's always very friendly to me - and I have to say, he's quite good-looking too.
The butchery ground is off-limits for women because it's a place of death; but as a Guardian I'm obviously exempt from that taboo. I assumed Buffy would be too, for the same reason. In fact, as a hunter I'm encouraged to go there. While Amare may be our most skilled butcher, every hunter in the clan is still expected to be able to skin, gut, bone and prepare his (or her) own kill if need be: and that does take practice. I've come a long way since my first botched attempt to skin a deer, but more experience is never a bad thing.
When we got there Amare was just finishing de-boning the carcass of a deer hanging from a tree-branch. I was disappointed, thinking he'd already nearly finished; but then I saw the antelope Buffy and I brought in still lying on the ground. Another hunter must have been successful today as well. I paused a while to watch him work - all right, to watch the smooth play of his muscles under his skin as he heaved the heavy carcass around. I did say he was good-looking; and because of the nature of his work, he'd rolled the top of his wrap down to his waist. Yum. Beside me, though, I noticed Buffy was looking a little uncomfortable. The smell of blood and offal and worse things could be a bit overpowering at first - I remembered with embarrassment the occasion, when I was much younger, when I actually threw up as Fedaku opened the belly of a zebra. But you get used to it quickly enough, and I was sure Buffy would too.
Amare noticed us then, and if he was surprised at Buffy's appearance he gave no sign of it beyond a raised eyebrow. He nodded at me politely.
"Come to watch? Or have you come to make a mess of your own kill again?"
I tried to frown at him, but ended up grinning instead. He's never let me forget that. But instead I introduced Buffy and told him that she, not me, was the one who brought down the antelope. Knowing she was being talked about, she smiled at him awkwardly.
"So, do the two of you want to do this all yourselves? Or should I take off the head and heels for you first?"
"Please". While I could do that at a pinch, Amare was stronger than me and could break the bones in a single blow from his axe; it usually took me several, which risked messing up the hide.
"Fine. And in return you can go fill up the tanning pool."
"Fill it? What do you think I am, a buffalo?" The tanning pool was one of Amare's obsessions; he was always badgering people about it. To be fair, the hides do need to soak for a long while after they're taken off the animal, and the pool does need topping up regularly. We've tried lining it with stones, or with mud, or with large leaves from plantain trees; more importantly, we keep the pool covered over with an old, stiff-as-a-board hide on a frame to stop the sun shining directly down on it.
Buffy came over with me and helped me lift the frame off the pool, then stepped back with a look of disgust on her face as the smell hit her. The shallow but wide hole in the ground was about half-full of scummy brownish-yellow liquid, and I took the stick propped against a nearby tree and prodded the hide that was already laid out in there, lifting it up and turning it over to make sure it was soaked through properly. Bubbles rose to the surface, and Buffy looked like she was going to be sick. I wondered if as well as her superstrength and speed she also had an inhumanly sensitive sense of smell, or something? That would be nasty.
But still, I had more important things to worry about just at that moment than my guest's sensibilities. I hitched up the hem of my wrap and straddled one corner of the pool, my feet planted either side of it. But as I did, Buffy made a kind of strangled gasp and hastily turned and walked several steps away from me. Which, okay, it's polite to avert your eyes when someone's peeing, but did she have to be quite so overblown and dramatic about it? I sighed: I could tell she was going to be difficult to have around.
Afterwards I had to physically walk around in front of her to attract her attention again. She still seemed uncomfortable, looking at me, the pool, and the surrounding forest like a trapped animal. I raised my eyebrows enquiringly and gestured - did she need to go too? She gave a tight shake of her head... then her eyes widened and she asked me an incredulous-sounding question in her own language.
I didn't understand, of course. So then she reached out her hand to me, and took a fold of my wrap between her fingers and plucked at it. Then she pointed at the tanning pool and raised her eyebrows. Pointed at my wrap again, pointed at the pool, mimed dropping something in then taking it out and shaking it dry. I nodded: yes, of course that's where we get leather from. Where else? But Buffy still didn't seem sure, because she was fiddling with her own clothing, then tugged at something around her waist and called my attention to it. I peered more closely - to my surprise it was just a belt, like we use to fasten our wraps in place. Although I've never seen an animal with skin that particular colour.
She pointed to her belt, then at the pool again. I shrugged then nodded: if that really was leather and not some strange enchanted material, then presumably it came out of a tanning pool as well. Buffy cringed and kind of shrank inside her skin - I almost laughed aloud at her expression, which would have been rude of me. But then she seemed to realise something odd - something that made her clap her hand over her mouth and make a noise that sounded like a strangled laugh of her own.
She ran her hands over her thighs - which, like I said before, were covered in some weird type of skin-tight blue stuff - and said something to herself. Then she spoke aloud - not to me, I'm pretty sure, but addressing someone who wasn't there, and her tone of voice was exactly like I'd use to tease someone. Presumably a friend of hers who also didn't know how leather is made, I guessed. I gave her a half-smile; the sort you give when you know something's supposed to be funny but don't understand why; and she grinned back at me, her eyes dancing with humour.
Then her smile faded, and she gave a kind of half-sigh and shook her head ruefully. Next thing I knew, she was walking over to the tanning pool after all - and gesturing emphatically for me to turn my back and move far, far away from her. More drama; but I did as she asked, and walked over to help Amare with the antelope.
He'd finished taking off the head and hooves, and called over Teshome to take the waste to the midden. The head he kept, of course; we'd need that later. So next, the two of us lifted the deer up and suspended it from one of the limbs of the big tree that stands at the head of the butchering ground. Amare held the carcass up in place as I tied its legs to the branch with leather thongs. He needed a lot of strength to do that; and I had to get really close to him to secure the legs, and I started to feel a heat inside me that had nothing to do with the sun or the work we were doing.
Looking for some distraction, I glanced around, and happened to look over in Buffy's direction. And, well... I decided that her weird-looking clothing was also extremely impractical. I don't know why she bothered with it. Instead of just lifting the hem of her clothes she had to practically peel her leg-wraps down off her like she was skinning an animal, and contort herself into a really awkward looking position, and it seemed to be taking forever. And I know it was rude to watch, and I really shouldn't have been looking; but she had her back to us so she wouldn't know... and that was how I discovered that her bottom really was the same colour as her hands and face. Paler, even. It was fascinating.
At this point I realised that beside me, Amare was watching her too. At that, my guilt at peeping on her transformed itself into righteous anger at him, which was much easier to deal with. I jabbed him in the ribs and whispered fiercely, "You shouldn't be looking!"
"Why not?" His own whisper back to me sounded amused. "You are."
"I'm a woman, like her! And you're not!" As I said it I nudged him again, leaning into it. It was meant to be pointed, but as I did it seemed to turn into something rather different, and much more exciting. He wasn't moving away from me at all, either.
"Aren't I allowed to be curious?"
"No!" On a whim I "accidentally" brushed my hand across the front of his wrap, and discovered something very interesting indeed. "And it's not curiosity that you're feeling right now."
His reply was low and kind of breathless, "And what do you think it is that you're feeling right now?"
I giggled. "I don't know, but I'd like to find out."
I flattened myself against the firmness of his body, looking up at him, and he leaned down and our lips met, hard and sudden, and I felt my heart pounding. And then I judged my moment and planted my hand on his chest and pushed hard, and despite the fact that he was bigger and heavier than me I'd caught the balance just right. He staggered backwards, flailing his arms wildly, and his back hit the trunk of the tree with a force that drew an "oof" out of him. Before he could get his breath back I pounced, hooking my arm up around his neck and drawing him down into another passionate kiss as my other hand slid down his bare torso, over his wrap, around his thigh and then back up under it.
Really, our style of clothing was much more convenient than Buffy's.
He might have been aroused already, but I was delighted to see that with my attention he was getting even more excited, and hotter, and harder, and bigger, and... I giggled again, hoarsely, but by now Amare was only capable of gasps and rapid, ragged breathing. Somehow the front of my wrap had come open - I'm not sure if it was him or me who did that, and he was somehow cupping my breast and squeezing my nipple at the same time with the same hand, which felt delicious, but he was too far gone now for anything more elaborate, and I could feel his breathing and sense the rapid drumbeat of his heart, and feel his skin grow taut under my hand, and I stepped to one side just moments before he threw his head back and groaned loudly, and I didn't get splashed at all, which I was really pleased about. I mean, it's only breaking the taboo if it gets inside me, but better to be safe than sorry, right?
After he got his breath back and opened his eyes again, Amare smiled at me, but then he did something surprising. He said the prayer to Serkalem the Ever-Living. Men are supposed to say that every time, actually, if they let their seed fall onto Mother Earth instead of, you know, their wives; but most of them don't bother, or just mumble a hasty word or two. I thought it was adorable for him to say it in full... and even better when he looked me in the eyes and added, "And thank you too, Hiywan." And then even better, he said, "I think it's your turn now", and his hands started stroking me in interesting places.
And of course at that point I remembered I was supposed to be looking after our visitor. I'd forgotten all about her. Guiltily, I looked round - Buffy was fully dressed again, and standing a really long way away with her back to us, but I was still convinced her back was radiating embarrassment and awkwardness. Oops.
Reluctantly, I pushed Amare's hands away. "We can't. I've got to go and get our new clan-sister."
"Well, could you ask her to join in with us?"
Tempted, I thought about it for a moment. I'm not really interested in women that way as a rule, but I must admit I felt a certain amount of intrigued fascination with our visitor - even if it was mostly curiosity rather than pure sexual interest.
But no. I shook my head reluctantly: Buffy seemed so embarrassed about the simplest things, I'm sure she'd be far too uncomfortable to join us in a threesome. At least, not yet; maybe we should ask her later when she'd had time to get used to our ways. I explained this to Amare, who accepted it easily enough.
In fact, he gave me a cheeky grin. "So, it looks like I get to come today and you don't. I win. Nyah nyah."
I stifled a giggle - he sounded just like Haset when she teases me, though I'm not sure he'd appreciate the comparison - and instead opened my eyes wide with mock outrage.
"Don't think you get off so easily. You owe me an orgasm now, and I will collect on the debt."
"Yes!" I folded my arms across my (still-bare) chest. "In fact, for making me wait, I think you owe me two orgasms. As compensation."
"Such a hardship. Well, I'll see you at campfire tonight; maybe your guest will find herself some company of her own then, so you'll be free."
"Maybe - no! At campfire all the other men will be there. I'll be able to find myself someone more attractive. And less smelly."
As soon as I said it, I cringed at my idiocy. What a stupid thing to say... I was only teasing, but I knew some of the other women had made similar comments before about the men who do butchery, and they meant them. And in fact, Amare did look angry, and my heart sank - then leaped again as I realised it was as much pretend-anger as my own. In fact he raised his hand to smack me, which is pretty much proof he didn't mean anything bad by it. I shrieked and giggled and dodged out of the way, but deliberately dodged too slowly so his hand connected with my rump anyway.
I rubbed myself, and pouted, and said, "For that, it's three orgasms."
"You should be so lucky."
"Exactly." With that, I started walking over towards Buffy, and Amare picked up a bone scraper and went back to work with a chuckle. I had a broad grin on my own face as I made my way across and called to Buffy. She turned - then her face did that thing where it turned bright red, and she looked away again. What? Oh, maybe it was because I still had my wrap undone; that was careless of me. I tucked my breasts back inside and refastened the knot.
She really did seem to get embarrassed at the littlest things. Or maybe it was just more obvious, because of the way her face changed colour so dramatically? Perhaps everybody else got embarrassed so easily too, and it was just me who was different? No, that couldn't be right. I hoped.
Anyway, I told her "Sorry about that", and smiled, hoping my tone of voice would convey the meaning, and beckoned her to follow me back to where the antelope's body was waiting for us. She still seemed uncomfortable, but started to follow - then stopped dead, her feet firmly planted on the ground, a look of horror on her face. She burst out in a babble of incomprehensible words, but the tone was clear enough - a mixture of incredulity and outrage.
I tried to ask her what her problem was, and we spent a frustrating few moments totally failing to understand each other. She kept shaking her head and repeating a very short word which I assumed meant "No" in her language (I filed that away for future reference). Then, exasperatedly, she resorted to mime. Pointed at me, then over at the antelope, then a repeated stabbing gesture with an imaginary knife - but no, she was blushing again, and I realised she was pointing over at Amare, not the dead animal. And that gesture wasn't about stabbing after all, and it wasn't an imaginary knife she was imaginarily holding. I grinned; but Buffy was in no mood for humour. She repeated the gesture and shrugged elaborately... then she pointed at herself, over at Amare, repeated the sexual gesture, and then violently shook her head, raised her hands in rejection and even took a step backwards.
Oh, I understood her meaning clearly enough. It just made me furious. Like I said, Amare's a good guy, and he doesn't deserve the rudeness he gets from some of the other women. And here was a total stranger, a guest in our camp, acting like the very idea of having sex with him filled her with revulsion. And she couldn't just tell him "No thank you" to his face, politely: no, she was announcing it to me and anybody else who happened to be in earshot. I'm afraid I got really angry with Buffy then, and raised my voice and said some pretty nasty things to her. Not that she understood them, though from the stunned and angry look on her face she probably got the gist.
Then I realised I was probably embarrassing Amare myself with my yelling, and I hit myself on the forehead with the heel of my hand for being an idiot. So then I told Buffy, "Whatever. Do what you like" and turned my back and stalked back over to the waiting antelope.
On to Chapter Four