The Four H’s

Tahnahos downed the rest of his drink then leaned back, trying not to let out a burp. Complex carbohydrates always made the Kronospast gassy, and this fine dish of macaroni and cheese was no exception. After managing to let out some of the loose gas from his nostrils, Tahnahos turned to Phovos, who seemed to have barely touched her dinner.

“You not hungry?” Tahnahos eventually asked, watching as his unusual dining partner nudged pasta back and forth across her plate.

Phovos sighed, still toying with her meal. “I cooked it and now I don’t want to eat it…”

“Why not?”

“Dunno. Just not hungry, I guess.”

Tahnahos stretched his arms out, feeling rather satisfied. But he also felt a little sorry for Phovos. This had been a nice meal, and leftovers were never quite the same.

“Is something bothering you? Emotions can really fuck up what you eat. Maybe one of the other H’s is distracting you?”

The armoured Ksithan glanced up from her food, rather confused. Tahnahos didn’t really understand why Phovos insisted on always being dressed, especially since most their squad of Guardians spent most of their time essentially nude.

“The… H’s? What?”

“You know, the four Hs. Hungry, Horny, Htired and Htirsty!” Tahnahos beamed. “There are four fundamental natural desires, and they all distract from one another.”

“Did you just put an H in front of the words tired and thirsty?”

Tahnahos shrugged. “It’s… an old Kronospast expression, to keep your four H’s satisfied… But yeah, is something troubling you?”

Phovos frowned, forcing a forkful of pasta into her maw. She attempted to chew a couple of times before swallowing, and chased the food with a sip of her drink.

“I have a lot on my mind.”

“Do you want to unload some of it? I’m always happy to take something off your mind. And do…” Tahnahos paused, then smiled playfully. “… Other things. Fun things. You know…”

Unfortunately, Tahnahos did not get the reaction he hoped for. Phovos grimaced, then turned her attention back to her food, this time shovelling it down with a hint of anger.

“I can shape-shift into a Ksithan if-”

“Fucking stop it.”

Tahnahos shrugged. “Alright. Worth a try, I guess. Gonna assume that the H that’s bothering you is Htiredness.”

Phovos sighed, now seeming rather deflated. “That’s the problem. You’re right. It’s the Horny that’s getting to me. I have options and I am not using them. I can’t bring myself to use them.”

“Eh, I’m just not your type, it’s not a problem. Can be hard trying to work out sexual preferences when you’re the only person with only a vagina on this outpost…” Tahnahos continued shrugging. “Can I ask what’s holding you back?”

“My lack of self-esteem and a deep, incomprehensible fear that I don’t understand…” Tahnahos was rather surprised that Phovos already had an answer. “This iteration of me is a late bloomer and under the impression that romance is sinful. I could have anyone I want if I put in the effort, I could make myself into the most beautiful Ksithan around. Heck, I even have a type of person that I am in to. But there’s a thick mental barrier that’s stopping me from even taking the first step.”

With a defeated sigh, Phovos pushed her plate away and stared off into the distance.

“I suppose I should be glad that my previous iterations are gone and forgotten. Because those iterations would be disgusted with what I’ve become.”

“Oh come on,” Tahnahos tutted, helping himself to Phovos’s leftover pasta. “That’s really harsh. Like, stupidly, utterly harsh. Dumb too. The current you has fought just as many battles as your past iterations. They’re just different battles and more complex. Sure, you didn’t fight an angry time god alongside the Dessaron in your current iteration, but you did have to fight a lot of political battles and logistical nightmares!”

“I… I guess…”

The Kronospast smiled. “And it’s not like there’s anything wrong with waiting. Your bits don’t fall off at the age of 30. You have all the time in the universe to decide what you want to do.”

“Yeah… you’re right…” Phovos grunted, polishing off her drink.

Tahnahos let the silence settle for a moment, then decided to change the topic. “You still hungry?”

“Kinda. Just not for this.”

“Want ice cream?”

“Yeah, sure…”