Zombies in Love

Happy October, my beautiful darlings! I present, because I’m me, a fluffy romance … about queer zombies. Yes, I know “Jaye, why are you like this?” Honestly, sweetheart, I haven’t a clue. Enjoy 🤟 🧡

Content Warnings: allusions to suicide & traumas, an implied ideation

This story, like so many of the greatest romances of all time, begins with a dead body; namely, mine.

My name was Isabella Rossellini Abdullah, because my fathers were really very odd. I suppose it still is my name? When one dies so many things get so confusing on the whole matter of ownership. Like, as I’m dead my Pokémon cards are now the possessions of my best friend Ty, but that suddenly seems unfair given that I’m still here.

Speaking of still being here, this isn’t something that generally happens to someone who’s dead, at least I shouldn’t think so (turns out it’s fairly rare).

I saw a stupid old movie my poppa had loved when he was a kid about these crazy immortal people who were suspiciously almost all very athletic men – which explains things on ever so many levels, really – running around dying by beheading and also dying of other things but then being alive afterwards except not the beheadings, and then (because unlike him, Daddy and I have taste) I have seen every zombie movie in the history of like ever, I had a moment of trying to decide what I was.

“You’re undead,” said the most beautiful voice I had ever heard.

Looking up I saw the cutest being I’d seen in my entire death (that’s absolutely meant to be a joke … I do that a lot. They’re probably the third cutest person I’d seen in my life, but not looking at me like something they scraped off their new shoes so that was bumping them into number one pretty quickly). Their hair was long, and worn in an elaborate braid. They had amber eyes, and a beautiful face, like if Marilyn Monroe were from Vidisha or something. The district, not the actress, though that sort of works too I suppose.

With perfect clarity and impeccable intelligence I managed to answer them, “Huh?”

“You’re undead, shit, usually the consciousness manages to come through the process unharmed. Were you maybe kinda thick before you died? Grunt once for ‘yes’ and … wait … can you even count to two?”

The impish gleam in their eyes told me that we could be very good friends. It slowly dawned on me they didn’t appear to be breathing except to speak.

“Your body isn’t really quite functional. It’s never not been a vessel for moving your consciousness and spirit around, it’s just a lot more literally so now. You’ll get used to it. The point is you have to make yourself inhale to talk. At least I hope you’re trying to talk.”

“Uhm … this is a new experience, actually.”

“Well, I mean, reincarnation is plausible, but I think most people generally only die once. Also, why don’t you leave off the signing until your motor control returns. Also, I only know JSL, and that looks … British?”

I looked down. I had just signed, alright. Badly. “Mmm … I think I tried to do British and American simultaneously. I don’t usually sign and speak at the same time.”

“You might as well stand up. Zombies don’t actually rot, reanimation would really suck if … look, you may be a corpse but you’re gonna be in pretty fair health aside from that. It can be tricky to get to grips with, I can give you my therapist’s number if you like. He’s a demon, he’s so great.”

“A … did you say demon?”

“Oh, you seem to be getting your hands under control. Yes, a demon. I hope you’re not prejudiced.”

“Who are you?”

“Kiran, ve/ver, if you please.”

“That’s … yeah, hi, I’m Izzy or Ira. Technically Isabella, but I’m kinda not sure how I feel about that.”

“Oh? What pronouns do you use, then?”

“Oh! Right, just she/her. Though sometimes he/him, but you’ll know … among other tells, it’s the only time I swear like an angry French sailor in Spanish.”

“You … what?!”

“Look, I don’t know, okay. It’s just a thing I do, and has to do with my college roommate-slash-girlfriend-slash-archnemesis-slash-Movie night cuddle buddy. Fae makes the best fucking popcorn, I swear by all the gods you will know the meaning of Nirvana if you have it, but it’s a sort of inside joke with us and it resurfaces whenever I’m vibing masc.”

“Are you sure you’re not a vampire?”

“No?”

“Fair. You’re weird.”

I’m, weird?!”

“Yes? Most people ask things about where they are, why they’re still alive … that sort of thing. They don’t tend to lie there like that having a conversation about … stuff … like we just had a meet-cute in a tea house.”

“Oh, that. ADHD is sometimes a superpower. I was trying to remember how I died.”

“ADHD?”

“Meh, I have no idea. I assumed it was hyperfocus.”

“Oh, sure, probably.”

“Oh … oh … uhm … I just remembered and I think I’d rather I didn’t,” I shuddered and sat up pulling my knees to my chest.

Ve jumped down and put ver arm around me. I looked at ver, eyes wide in remembrance.

“Yeah, it’s generally like that. Undead don’t generally come out of peaceful death. No matter what magics are done, or what potions drunk.”

“I’m … shouldn’t I … my … I distinctly recall … oh, goddess … I was … it …”

“Shh, shh, look at me. Look … this is why I brought up therapy. You’re going to want it at some point because the whole rotting shambling corpse stereotype came from what happens if you go too many centuries without unpacking this shit.”

“Did you say centuries? I … I kind of wanted to …”

“The same power that has restored your flesh and keeps it renewed seems to have a half-life of about maybe three hundred years. Around a thousand it loses its grip on your spirit and you can move on if you wish. You’ll age in a manner of speaking then. We uhm … we’re where the Egyptians got the idea to do the whole mummies thing, I’m told. Frankly that seems sus, never trust anyone white who can remember Victoria’s reign.”

“That’s valid as fuck. Hey, wait … if I’m restored or whatever … how come I still definitely have ADHD?”

Ve blinked at me. “Look, it’s sorta complicated, but some things are just like us. You’re not prone to most diseases now. If you had … I dunno … diabetes or something … that’s kinda a given won’t be a problem now, because your … is diabetes your spleen? No, liver! Wait …”

“Pancreas.”

“Isn’t that a kind of fish?”

“No. Organ. Makes insulin. It’s fucked up in diabetics.”

“Huh. What’s the spleen for?”

“Fucked if I know. I was a sexology major.”

“That’s a cool way to say you were a sl—”

“Nope! We are not going there. Trigger warnings, bitch.”

“Huh?”

“Long story, but I’m serious, please don’t go there. Sexology is a thing. I studied it. Double major in sexology and anthropology, minor in philosophy.”

“Sorry?”

“Forget it, please … just … nope. You were saying? Pancreas?”

“Oh! Like your pancreas now serves about as much purpose as your tattoos, less really. The tattoos are totally fire. Where’d you get that one on your wrist?”

“Amsterdam.”

“Cool. Rich kid?”

“Nope. I was favourite niece of my eccentric auntie who wasn’t really, she was Ty’s cousin who’s like twenty years older than us because their mum is like the tenth of like a dozen kids.”

“Grandparents never learnt to stop sharing toothbrushes?”

“Oh gods, you didn’t go there!”

“What?!”

“That’s old!

“Classics never die.”

“You did.”

Ve … I have a feeling if they had a heartbeat they’d have blushed.

“Hey,” I prompted, “is it rude to ask like … how old you are?”

“Huh?”

“Do zombies … did you say we’re zombies? Are we even the same things? Are we things?!”

“Focus, Izzy!”

“Oh … sorry … like is there a whole like subculture with an esoteric etiquette and …”

“Chikushō, you really were like a total nerd. I mean … probably? But like no more so than being queer … now queer, not Polari speaking queer.”

“You know of Polari?”

“Sure, I read books. Besides, had a relationship with someone who was around in the fifties.”

“So … you weren’t?”

“Oh! Totally, but only technically. I was born in faerie so time moves different. I was simultaneously like five hundred years and twenty years old.”

“You can’t be serious!”

“Nope. I’m only like eight years older than you but I died a few years younger. I think it averages out to like three years?”

“I think I hate you,” I said with fond affection.

“Yeah, I get that a lot.”

“So … where am I?!”

“Hmm? Oh! Crematorium.”

“No, seriously.”

“I am. It’s fine though. We’ve got a couple hours before the place opens, and you’re not scheduled till after lunch anyway.”

“I don’t know how to tell you, but I have a terrible phobia of being …”

“Are you inside a highly inflammable box?”

I looked around cautiously. “No? I seem to be … is this an alley?”

“Uh huh.”

“But you said …”

“This is a crematorium. It’s what you’re leaning against. You are the one who said they wanted to be done this way and spread over the Aegean. Why the Aegean, by the way?”

“I loved the colour. How did you know that?”

“I got bored waiting for you to be ready to wake up. I found things to read.”

“Okay, for real, Kiran, straight answers time please, or I swear I am going to completely lose my shit, and by the Mother of All, I will absolutely end you if you make the smart arsed quip against my choice of the word ‘straight’ I see you about to do.”

“Me? I’m me. It’s hard being dead, okay? You haven’t exactly got an identity anymore because a death certificate sort of invalidates your existence. Well … things are rough, and surprisingly lonely. There’s not a lot of zombies. It’s complicated, the ways we happen and really rare. We’re only technically immortal so vampires don’t like us much, demons like us okay, but you know the stereotype that any Italian with a New York accent is mafia? It’s kinda the same with demons and slightly truer? Anyway, me and my roommate who’s a ghost were there when it happened and he didn’t see you leave, see everyone is at least briefly manifested in this realm as the shackles of physicality break free and can decide what we’ll do.

“Well … in zombies the shackles only loosen, they don’t come free. So, either you didn’t have a spirit or this was going to happen.”

“You mentioned magic? Also how does all of this work, and why doesn’t anyone know about it? Like …”

“Like have you heard of the Spanish Inquisition? The Salem Witch Hunts? Look, if there’s no physicality to be shackled to we do go free, but it’s painful as you might expect. Vampires hide for reasons that have to do with folklore making things awkward. I mean, I expect your mate, Ty, gets it a bit rough if … they? … if they are around certain sorts.”

“Okay, fine. What’s the rules here? And why would I have stayed? You mentioned magics?”

“Call it handwavion particles if you rather. It’s just what it’s called because it’s kind of hard to put under a microscope to look at. And thaumaturgy is more quackery and alchemy than proper science near as I can follow it. The rules are just … you get to go on living. But you’re liable to freak out your family and friends, you have to Know People to get an ID, so you might want to play nice with the cops … bloody bastards … uhm … fuck, I dunno. Way to put me on the spot!”

“Sorry. But like … do I need to eat? What happens if I have salt? Am I going to get pale? If I cut my hair and hate it do I need to …”

“If that sentence ends the way it sounds like you mean it to … don’t. I’m …”

“Oh! Is that how you …”

“Can we talk about literally anything else whatsoever?”

“I’m sorry. I did that thing again. I … am going to force myself to not talk for now.”

“Whatever. Ready for trying to walk?”

“Shit! I’m … can I still drive?”

“Can you? Yes. There’s … ways … to get by. Legal ones, even. But they’re a pain in the ass and requires you to get in tight with an immortal. Or to smuggle yourself convincingly enough to some country with lax standards. Leaving the planet is an option, too.”

“It is?!”

“I wouldn’t recommend it. You’re liable to die of boredom long before you even got halfway to Alpha Centauri.”

“Proxi—oh wait you probably don’t ca—you’re also not saying alien spacecraft are you?”

“Not that I’ve heard of, no. But like you don’t need oxygen so …”

“Got it. Fake ID skills come in handy.”

“Well, like it’s possible to eat and drink. Just remember that you have to actually tell those parts to work. Your whole body is under conscious control, which is cool, but it’s gonna take a lot of practice. I still can’t do drunk. But if I drink I’ve finally got it to go to my kidneys.”

“Uhm …”

“Look, some of us love sushi and some of us love tea and sometimes it’s nice to have a little fucking wine with a bit of noodles and then some wine with cake and some wine with wine … I miss antidepressants.”

“You wanna talk about it?”

“You don’t know me.”

“And? What? You’re not a person or something?”

“I’m okay. Just … look, we just met, not gonna burden you and you’re not my therapist so it’s extra not fair to you. We should get going.”

“Won’t they notice I’m gone?”

“Sometimes happens. Apparently more robbed graves were just people like us going walk about, but I threw some of those bones from the pet store in there and about your body weight in pumpkins because it’s what I had handy, and a thing of kerosene just to be safe.”

“Uhm …”

“I’m too much of an animal lover, besides, it’s really hard to find a dead pig when you need one but I don’t think I could have done that? I’m a vegetarian for reasons, babe. Come on. You can crash at my place until we can figure what to do with you.”

“That’s … could you not frame it that way? Sounds hella ominous.”

“Oh, good. I was kinda going for that. I’ve an audition next week to play the villain in this play.”

*****

“Oh! Lovely! You found her!”

“Olivia, it wasn’t hard, there was an obituary.”

Olivia is a ghost. Campy as all hell, too.

“Uhm, hi?”

“Oh, darling, you must be exhausted. How long have you been talking to our Kiran? Ve is terrible for one’s sanity and mental stability.”

“I’m … fine. I’m Izzy, today seems an Izzy day.”

“Oliver Lucian Ulysses Colt, at your service, my dear. Do you like movies? I hope so? I was there when the kinetoscopes were huge and let me tell you I can think of no greater achievement of mankind, which is why I have suspicions that it was born of womankind probably. Hmmm … oh, where are my manners today!? The uhm … wait … you’re new you won’t need that. Look, have a seat, I’m going to give you a shoulder rub. Your muscles look tense enough it’s making my spine ache and that’s … I think somewhere in Manitoba probably.”

“Olly! She’s still getting past that second bout of rigour mortis as her mind gets the hang of having to do more of the work and sorts it all out.”

“Could I just have a moment?! Getting a little overwhelmed here! Kiran, Olly, too much. I can’t cope.”

“Sorry, darling,” Olly said gently and wrapping me in an ethereal hug that felt like a breeze with little feathers in. “I’m a bit much sometimes. Downside of being incorporeal is it’s hard to modulate oneself. He/him, ve just likes to call me Ollivia because … I was a drag queen, darling. Ve insists it’s my Polari name. I have tried explaining that’s well and good but irrelevant since I’m not at all British. Anyway, I grew to like it. And now you’re probably wondering why I look … this? Momma & Daddy were mutts. So I’m … a bloody symphony, darling. You can bet the boys were enthusiastic. Still are, if I may say so.”

“I mean … it’s easy to believe. You’re kinda hot. But can ghosts …”

“Not with zombies, besides, I never took to ladies, though you are lovely and I’m flattered.”

“To be honest … well … boys aren’t usually my … I’m complicated but yeah, if you had a body I could absolutely vibe boy mode if that worked for you. And that came out uhm … I don’t usually talk like … I’d die of embarrassment right now, but I guess that’s no longer an option.”

“I’m contagious, sweetheart, not your fault. And … we’re totally talking about this ‘boy mode’ thing later. I’m intrigued. But in a … simple answer is that we can, with each other, yes … ish.”

“Olly,” Kiran said testily, “what have we discussed about …”

“But she doesn’t know, does she?”

“I … fine. Let’s finally see that one that makes you go all sweaty with Cary Grant in a submarine. I swear, this had better not be like that cheap Zorro knock off crap.”

“Philistine! Though, okay, look, I never thought about The Lone Ranger that way.”

“Do you mean … is that the one where the sub gets painted pink? And all those World War Two army nurses?!”

“Yes! You’ve seen it?!”

“I mean it’s nauseating in its white manness, but yeah. Ty had theories about the symbolism of the sub being pink, with what we read once about Grant’s sexuality, and the nurses are fucking hot. Oh! Oh gods, Kiran, you and I need to have a Talk before lunch because maybe I want back in that box.”

Ve stared. Olly whispered in ver ear. Ve once more didn’t actually blush. Ve considered the matter then pulled me into the kitchen giving Olly a glare. He turned on a record player and moved pointedly away.

I will one day write a thesis paper on the subject of zombie sexuality, but for now we’re leaving it at there were Options and Methods, and there was one thing talked about that honestly sounded really nice so the box would remain full of pumpkins, and then ve realised what I had meant and I spent some time in feeling like a fully shit person, but we all got ourselves sorted and it was movie time.

Olly left after we finished, something about a date.

“Kiran? I … well, thanks. I’m glad I didn’t have to do all this alone. Did someone …”

“No. I didn’t. I mean, eventually I met Olly and he’s how I found Hiraphael. I was a mess. You … nobody but …” ve interrupted verself with a frustrated sigh before forcedly correcting the sentence to, “nobody, at all, deserves that. Your uhm … your dads are nice. I met them briefly when I was trying to …”

“Oh, gods! Poppa and Daddy! I oh … oh no … they must be … I should call them!”

Ve laid a hand on mine, gently, tenderly. I was suddenly very acutely aware that ver fingers were delicate, elfin. Ver whole demeanour otherworldly and fae. I wondered a moment about ver comment about being born in faerie.

“Ira, you do what you need to do. But … I guess it doesn’t always go well. So … just … consider it?”

“Kiran, please, I’m their only child. I’d been … I’ve got to.”

“Here’s my phone. Maybe just uhm … good luck?”

*****

“Isabella?! How?! You were …”

“I know. I was. It’s … Daddy cried, Poppa we worried was having a stroke.”

“He’s not the only one, you fucking bastard! When’d you plan to tell me?!”

“Uhm … now? It’s been a lot to process,” I said throwing a rock at the pond. “I mean I really had no idea what to say. I had no idea how you’d react.”

“Izzy, look here bitch, you’re my best friend. Whose arms did you all but faint in when that spin the bottle somehow turned into …”

“Nope. Not ready to think about that. Like … I mean … just no. Uh uh.”

“I thought you …”

“I did! Look, can we move on?”

Their artfully trimmed eyebrow rose as they smirked. “I’m not the one who has a problem with that.”

“You’re gonna go there?! Now?! Really? Why do I love you?”

“Because I won’t fuck you.”

“One day you’re going to give me a proper answer what that even means.”

“No I won’t. One day you’ll become enlightened and as you achieve cosmic harmony you will Know.”

“At least it’s no mystery why I hate you.”

“Yup. So, who’s this Corrin?”

“Kiran, ve’s … interesting. I think I have a crush on ver, but uhm … I don’t think ve’s into me.”

“Why not? What’s not to be into?”

“Asks the raging asexual.”

“Exactly. I’m objective. It’s like asking a lesbian if a boy is good looking.”

“I still hate you. I just think maybe you’re more ver type?”

“Oh?”

“You are being oblivious on purpose.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Yes I do. Look, Ty …remember how it took you a month our sophomore year of high school to realise that girl had been flirting with you?”

“Yes?”

“Kiran might’ve taken a whole semester.”

“So? I did go out with her.”

“You took her LARPing.”

“I know. I was there.”

I have never been sure about them. They’ve always been genuinely oblivious, but I know they were less so than they generally came off, like it was part of their very different sense of humour.

“So … what if she’d tried to get in your pants?”

“She tried. I was going through that skirts phase because I was shooting up so fast? She had actual hips, they didn’t fit.”

“Ty!”

They laughed. Asshole.

“Okay? Maybe I would have let her. She wasn’t unpleasant. I mean … not … if we got to know each other better.”

“Really?”

“What? I was fifteen and curious. I don’t discount the possibility. I have, you know perfectly well. I’m just not like into it. More down for the … mmm … company?”

“Yeah, sure that, I thought you meant …”

“I did. I was still working myself out. I never mentioned it because … what? It wouldn’t have mattered. I only meant to bring it up if I needed a …”

“Don’t finish that sentence, please. I am not in any mood to imagine that.”

“I thought you find me pretty.”

“I find you sexually confusing.”

“Good. So, Kiran, ve’s aspec?”

“Hard to be sure, but maybe.”

“Talk to ver. Not about … just maybe be open? I mean it worked for us.”

“Yeah, but I was a kid and didn’t know things. Now Me is kinda ashamed of Past Me for that entire incident.”

“It was pretty awkward, sure. But sweet, too. Made us closer. If I ever wanted to marry anyone for platonic cuddling and tax reasons I’d totally call you first.”

“Fuck off. You would not! You’d call Luke and if you did call me instead of him first I’d kick your stupid ass, then call him for you. And if you called me second, I will drive him to hospital for a CAT scan.”

“Have I mentioned how much I love you?”

“Not in five minutes.”

“What’s next though? I mean … undead. I still can’t believe that is really a thing. And now you’re … what?”

“Daddy and Poppa have offered to let me move back in. Obviously nothing from my place has been dealt with, I’m paid up for the month. I’m … I don’t rightly know.”

“You could stay with me.”

“I could not. Too much time with me stresses you out.”

“Too much time with anyone stresses me out. I could learn to cope. I did live with a parent and a half-sister until I went to university.”

“I’ll think about it.”

*****

“Oh, please do stay. You’re such grand fun!”

“Thanks, Olly, but … look, do you know what time Kiran gets back from that audition?”

“Uhm … half-eight, I believe. You seem, pardon me saying so, a little … well … off. Want to talk about it. I promise you one thing, discretion is hardly an alien topic for me. Things weren’t as bad in my time as people today like to think, but well …” he said with a shrug.

“This is all a lot, you know?”

“Funny thing, but yeah, I know exactly what you mean,” he said wryly.

Look, I’m never good at these things. Someone really has to understand my idiosyncrasies first.

“I … I get …”

“Ira, sweetheart, as adorable as it is when you’re flustered, can we just move forward? I really do understand you. I may have learnt to speak in the nineteenth century, but I only lived beneath that rock for a week … okay, turns out it was a year, but time is fake.”

“Oh. Right. It’s just that …”

“Little brother, are you trying to tell me about your adorable crush on our Kiran?”

“Oh … uhm … yes? How’d you know?”

“Call it gaydar, angel, you’re suddenly more interesting.”

“I … I’m not touching whatever that was, I meant why do you think I have anything for Kiran?”

“Oh, that. Because you’re more obvious than Wham! era George Michael. Also because you’re not super hung up on genders and have working eyes. Plus you’re not going to be put off by the …”

“Oh … oh fuck … is that … I should actually study the philosophical implications … wow, and I could really take my time, look at it from all angles.”

“Or you could … hear me out here … not?”

“Think so?”

“Yeah, hon, I do.”

“Oh, fine. So? You know ver better than me. Is there even any point?”

“Why shouldn’t there be?”

“Uh … they seem …”

“Oh ve’s completely oblivious, yeah, but newsflash, my lad, so are you.”

“I’m not obl—”

“Olly? Can you excuse us a sec?”

“Yeah, babe. Hey, uhm … Ira? Sorry, apparently it was half uhm half-six. Time, am I right?” He drifted away looking so sheepish I felt bad for him. He always means well.

“Yeah, Olly, it’s a whole mood, honey. We’re chill, no worries.”

“Ira?”

“You don’t have to do that on this kinda day, you know. It’s just my initials. Was a good name for online stuff, no one figured me for AFAB nor as a kid. That, by the way, backfires sometimes in really fucked up ways.”

I stopped talking and bit my lip. I had no idea how long ve’d been behind me.

Ve took my hand. “You uhm … want to go for a walk?”

“Yes? Sure. Okay. Sounds good.”

Hand in hand we walked toward a beautiful sunset. Eventually we came to a bench where we could just watch people go past. Ve sat down and pulled me down beside ver.

“I’m not completely oblivious, you know?”

“I … uhm … it’s …”

“Oh, no, I am oblivious. Just not as much as Olly thinks sometimes.”

“Okay, fair. So … what uhm … what’s … what are we?”

“For want of a better word, we’re zomb—yeah, not funny. Friends, I hope. I didn’t really know what to think of you at first, but I feel I must believe in fate or a lot of things would have turned out differently. So, Izzy, my friend, I think it was fate that I happened to be where I was, when I was, with Olivia. I didn’t know what to think of you at first. Beautiful, certainly. Strong. There’s a lot that no one understands about our kind, but I feel like maybe sometimes it’s strength of personality that’s the key. Your family and friends just seem too … look … I didn’t go get you to be my friend or anything, that’s … I’ve long since quit being that desperate and pa—no, Kiran, that’s not right but it’s okay, people hurt you and thinking otherwise is still new. Uhm … I just felt like maybe you would need a friend right then.”

“That was thoughtful of you. Thank you, very much. That was incredibly kind and thoughtful, really.” I squeezed ver hand but didn’t acknowledge ver moment otherwise because ve was always so embarrassed by it.

“Yeah, nah … no need to lie to my face.”

“Kiran? Look at me. What’s going on?”

Ve looked at our hands as if just noticing that our fingers were intertwined.

“Will you stay? With Olly and me? I know … I mean your BFF and your dads have offered and who’m I? Just someone you’ve been crashing with for a week or so … which I guess is strange now I’ve said it since … uhm …”

“Kiran, I have so many lifetimes ahead of me. You say we’re not very common. So … one day my dads will be … and Ty’ll … then … when I say I’m grateful you were there the other night is true in that perspective. Let’s not pretend otherwise. I’m glad I have at least one friend who’ll still be here with me. But that’s not … do you know you’re one of the most beautiful beings I’ve ever met? In those first moments after I woke up and first heard your voice I was entranced. But I mean, for all I knew you were monogamously married with forty-five kids, or only into demisexual transfeminine furries with a cat fursona that write Aurora Has Two Hands fanfics. But then I got to know you and I wasn’t sure you … have … a … type? Like … I don’t know what I’m saying, and Olly thinks I ought to just say it which is easy for him to say. But I really like you, but it’s totally cool if it’s not reciprocated, that’s like a whole thing, right? Gay culture is pining after everyone not a compatible sexuality or something, right?”

“I do like you, though.”

“I’m sorry, you what?”

“I do like you.”

“You. One second, okay, at the risk of sounding like we’re fucking eight godsbedamned years old, do you mean like you like me or like that you like-like me?”

“¿Por qué no los dos?”

“Oh … oh! But then you’re and I …”

“Ira, shut the fuck up and kiss me before you have a stroke.”

I gaped like a drowning fish, ve decided I needed a demonstration and kissed me. Ve tasted of cinnamon, crisp autumns, warmth, gentle kindness.

Thing is, if you don’t need to breathe, it’s hard to tell how long a kiss lasts. When ve sat back, eyes twinkling with the mischief of the first time we met I fell back dazed. “Right, that, yes, thank you for reminding me. Been a lifetime since I’ve done that,” I never expected to find being dead such a joking matter, but here we were and here I was leaning in to kiss those fae lips and to reach up to brush away a stray wisp of ver gorgeous hair, to caress ver face.

It was dark before we headed home. I could say we squealed and laughed like children at a slumber party as ve pulled me into ver bedroom. I could say Olly winked at us and turned up his Ella Fitzgerald record. I could say this for it is all true.

You could, in your turn, imagine us falling madly in bed together. Of my finally finding out which of my various fantasies and imaginings about which me mechanics would be involved would be right. Of our practicing what ve’d explained that first day.

You’d be very wrong. We did fall into bed, kissing, laughing, hugging. We’d talked a lot walking back and had taken a long way around to do it and ve’d bought us ice cream and tried to explain how digestion works when you have to concentrate on it. We wound up cuddling together as we talked for hours and hours, turns out with the right distraction it’s easy to lose sense of time when you don’t really have to maintain organic processes which really is as utterly bizarre and illogical as it sounds but apparently that’s the bugger of thaumaturgy is that the inherently logical is the least likely possibility of how things will work. Like fire magics are easier in the arctic? I don’t believe in magic of that sort, but I also am undead so maybe I shouldn’t judge. The point is we discovered it’d been a couple of days. Yes, ver bedroom has windows. We’re told the sun did, in fact exist in the interval. We declared the latter very sus and glared at our phones for daring to affirm the first part.

*****

“Poppa, please. Look, I’m thirty, and I can misplace whole days … worse than I already did. You and Daddy don’t need that. Ty doesn’t need that. It’s amazing how clever Kiran is, ve hardly has any bills and I’m hardly a burden. I’m ver uhm … look I’m having one of those days I really don’t know for sure so I’m just going with girlfriend because I like the aesthetic of that word best.”

“Izzy,” Daddy said carefully. I normally will even accept Isabella when I feel masculine, because I long ago made up my mind not to care. Gender crisis days sometimes mean I’m crabby about that decision. I nodded that ‘Izzy’ was, in fact, acceptable. “You’re a grown … you’re grown. You hardly need our permission where you li—exist? but we’ll make up your room anyway. Don’t forget to come over. We lost you once. It’d wreck us to lose you again.”

“Yeah, Daddy, of course! I’m moving in with my … partner? gods that sounds like I’ve married ver. Uhm … my … I will not look it up, therein lies wikisurfing and I don’t actually have to sleep very often. My Kiran. Not … joining a cult or crossing over.”

“Kiran is welcome, too. And we promise not to try to feed either of you.”

“Ve’d actually like if you did. They haven’t really given up on food. I still have a lot of work to do.”

“Look, forgive me,” Poppa said. “I’ve tried, but I can’t not ask …”

“You don’t want to finish that, dear,” Daddy cautioned.

I considered the question. “I’m reanimated by the will of my own spirit. My body is a puppet trapped in a weird conflation with my ghost which couldn’t get free of it. I’m not resurrected. So I haven’t really got a metabolic function anymore. The magics involved sort of make their own arrangements and no one really wants to know more than that.

“Maybe, sounds good, doesn’t it? Kiran says it depends how you do things. The important factor is not to let it build up because it’s not tied to the magics and can start to spoil.”

“Why didn’t ve come over with you, by the way?” Daddy said glaring bemusedly and affectionately at his husband.

“Ve got that role! They’re at a rehearsal or a fitting or reading or luncheon or something. I am not sure I have much clue how it all works.”

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