“A talk?” Nen asked. “Are we not already making trouble with words and misunderstood gestures?”

Somehow I thought he was teasing, although with his dry recital it was difficult to take measure.

“Is it ‘the’ talk?” Rayya asked, hiding the lower part of her face with a fold of light rose fabric in the way that often seemed to indicate a teasing or embarrassed expression for her.  I wasn’t sure where she found something that colour in my stuff, but I suppose being man enough to wear pink meant I had some in my wardrobe.  I was just proud of being able to identify it as something more than “pink.”  I could also point out a beige or a chartreuse, if only because it was fun to spell.

I kept staring at Rayya. “I don’t think so.  On the subject of how the fey procreate I am comfortable in retaining my ignorance.”

Rayya laughed. “We do many things for pleasure as well,” she said.

Nen sighed and shook his head in a fashion not only human but “brotherly” as well. As in being a brother, who had to deal with an uppity sister, not as in the term of brotherhood. You know. I knew, at least.

“Exactly. But there’s a lot more involved in gift-giving than that. I mean, it’s bad enough navigating the complex waters of human sexuality, and maybe being attracted to the wrong person or having an unexpected consequence despite precautions, and all of the levels of um, quid pro quo your kind seems to have as part of their DNA.  Frankly, saying it aloud like this it’s a wonder I ever got involved with anybody.” I barked out a sharp laugh, mostly involuntarily.

Rayya smiled. “It is not always easy to tell who is the giver and who is the giftee, you say?”

“Well, yeah. And then there’s politics and magic and I think the Seven King of Small Things was actually talking babies and I’m not old-fashioned, but I am, like, I believe I would want to be involved in the life of any child I’m creating.  I mean, more than just contributing genetic or whatever kind of material one does in aforementioned happy ignorance.”  I waved it aside.

“You humans have so many weird rules,” Nen said. “Politics and magic and navigating the complex waters of human sexuality. I saw on the internet–”

“Stop right there,” I interjected quickly.  “Things on the internet are their own … just don’t go there.”

“True,” Nen said, reflectively.  “I was thinking it an odd relationship between a woman and a plastic seal.”

“Oh please. I did not want that image in my head.  And it’s just gotten worse, because now I can’t tell if my image is worse or better than what actually occurred. I’m not looking it up. I’m really going to find a wizard with a mental bleach spell and insist they help me learn a very limited, directed version of it.”

“You should not deal with amnesiacs,” Rayya shook her finger at me.  “There is no amnesty for them.”

“People who have lost their memory?” I asked, confused.

“Amnesiacs, the power of forgetting.  Which is different than the power for being forgiven, although the phrase ‘forgive and forget’ is one I think need be explored.”  She paused. “Although,” she considered, “there is no amnesty in ignorance of the law, either, it is said.  These things…” she made a strange shake of her hand, “they are not so true in all places.”

“What, laws might be context based? I’m shocked, I tell you, shocked!” I wasn’t.

“You are not,” she said, frowning.

“No. I’m not.” I sighed. “Well, stunned because of the internet, but I think we just go through life with mild inflammation caused by GIF-based trauma.” I’m not telling you whether or not I pronounced it with a hard or soft “g” because that’s a holy war where I have no dogs.  That’s the phrase right?

“It’s funny,” Nen drawled, “because she was just about to hold in a lecture about speaking untruths. Now that you live so close to the Other, there will be side effects.”

“Uncontrollable gambling? Leg shakes? Prolonged incredulity that, should it last more than four hours, I should see a local religious figure?” I offered.    I shook my head. “Is there really a prohibition on lying?”

“No,” Nen said, clearly.  “It’s broken promises you should avoid. Always.”

“That was definite.” I was more shocked (in a true and actual way) that I got a straight answer from him.

“You need to see what is, so you are not led astray by what might be,” Rayya said.

“Ah. I see where this conversation started. Honey trapping.”

Rayya glanced at Nen, obviously confused. He made a folding figure with his fingers and shrugged after a moment.

“There is no…” she started.

I quickly came to her rescue.  “It’s basically when someone offers something sweet in order to blackmail you with it later.”

“Oh. Like that story with the bear and the owl and the rabbit?” she asked.

I will say, A. A. Milne threw the Spriggan Sibs for a loop, especially when they reached the posit that the bear wasn’t real. This led us directly into Watterson’s classic boy and stuffed tiger books, which I think became Nen’s favorites.  We had quite the riotous explanation regarding what we could and couldn’t blame on the influence of the fey, let me tell you.  I don’t think the stain is still on the couch, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if it was, at least in spirit.

“More…” I closed my eyes for a second.  “Sex.  It’s all about sex.  Everything.”

“Ah, the `and porn’ portion of the internet,” Nen nodded sagely.

“But it’s a trap?” Rayya asked.

“Of course it’s a trap.  Admiral Ackbar wasn’t just paranoid,” I said, casually.  “It’s not just an exchange of pleasure in equal amounts. It’s made that someone owes someone else afterwards, either because it’s magically delicious, or someone isn’t who they say they are, or whatever it is.  That’s inherently true with the Beyond.”