Chapter 25: Unwrapping the Gifts
We headed down to Moab on the 22nd.
As with our Thanksgiving trip, we took Kaitlyn’s Subaru. We made better use of it this time, filling the cargo area with luggage, gifts, and all of our massage therapy gear.
With the back of the car packed deck-to-headliner and a few extra outfits hanging from the hooks over the passenger side doors, the back seat was already fairly private. We filled the remaining large gaps by draping a blanket between the front seat’s headrests, christening the new vehicle configuration the Nude-Mobile.
This left only a few small gaps where someone could see into the back seat below shoulder level, so all but our driver Kaitlyn happily stripped naked as soon as we got out of the dense Salt Lake traffic: Vin on the left behind his sister in the driver’s seat, Jess in the middle, and me on the right side.
“You going to join us in the nude?” I taunted my wife, up front.
“Tempting,” she said but kept on driving. I think if it had been night, she’d have done it, but we got an early start.
The three of us didn’t get up to anything too sexy, just casual caresses. Mostly we just caught up on our reading. This is what introverts like us call entertainment. Be jealous, extroverts!
About halfway there, Kaitlyn pulled into a large truck stop in Wellington without warning us, her back-seaters. She caused a fun bit of chaos with that trick: three people re-dressing in the Subaru’s back seat in a public parking lot, trying not to get caught by the slow foot and vehicle traffic, who were better able to peer into the small gaps we hadn’t managed to cover than the passengers riding in the cars speeding past us on the highway.
I stayed outside to pump the gas, being the only one not needing the restroom. Once I’d filled the tank, I pulled into a parking spot in front of the building, then sat there waiting for the others to come out.
Rather than come to the driver’s side to swap places with me, Kaitlyn went straight to the right-side passenger door and got in, so I decided I had been volunteered to drive the rest of the way. I didn’t complain, just grinned at her knowingly in the mirror.
After the other two got into the car, Vin now in the middle, the three began undressing. I had the car in reverse, checking the mirrors when Kaitlyn echoed my earlier question back at me: “So, you going to join us in the nude?”
I immediately thought to bounce her prior answer back at her, but then realized that as long as I stayed in the right lane, I’d be seen as no more than topless to other drivers, so I said, “Sure, why not?”
I pulled out of the parking lot, and after I’d gotten the car up to speed and had the cruise control engaged, I began stripping a piece at a time as I guided the car down the highway.
I did it bottom to top.
I removed one shoe, set it on the empty passenger side front seat, then spent several seconds reassessing the state of the road before removing the other, placing it beside its mate. I removed my socks in the same manner, pausing between each to recheck the road, placing the socks in my shoes.
Bare feet feel strange on the gas and brake pedals!
We were passing a higher speed limit sign, so I spent several more seconds getting the car up to the new speed, locking it in right at the limit with the cruise control. I looked around the car using the side mirrors.
We were clear!
I also checked my rear-view mirror, but with the Nude-Mobile’s rear bench seat screening in the way, all I could see in it was two bemused faces and my wife’s challenging one.
I unbuttoned my cargo pants, unzipped the fly, and scooched them down my thighs, needing to bump gently up against the headliner before I could raise my butt up far enough off the seat to allow me to push my pants down around my knees.
I took another look around the car with the mirrors then pushed my cargo pants down around my ankles and quickly stepped out of them to free my feet for the pedals. I reached down while keeping an eye on the road and folded the pants neatly in my lap, not spilling anything from the pockets, placing the bundle atop the shoes.
We passed another speed limit increase, so I smoothly matched its limit, looked around again, and saw a change: three broad grins in the rear-view. I grinned back and slipped my black-and-red striped boxer-briefs off the same as I’d done with my cargo pants, placing them atop the pile after dangling them in view of my audience for a few seconds.
I was driving bottomless down a rural Utah highway in daylight!
The grins in the rear-view were even wider now.
There was one more speed increase there on the edge of town, allowing traffic to go at full highway speed past the last house. There was a passing lane at that point, so I let the faster traffic pass us before pulling off my tee shirt and draping it over my clothes pile.
I was utterly nude in Kaitlyn’s car, driving it down a public highway, no one the wiser. If passing traffic were slower, some of them might’ve remarked on a bare-chested Indian guy driving that slow car, but that was a tiny curiosity compared to the actual truth of the matter.
Those in my car knew the full truth, which is why they gave me a small round of applause!
Their attention on me didn’t last long, perhaps because one effect of the Nude-Mobile is to isolate the front seat from the back, so my state of dress was actually less evident to them than to passers-by on the highway. Heads in the back seat went back down to e-readers and tablets, and my eyes stayed on the road.
At one point, Jess asked, “Kaitlyn, what’s Vin’s middle name? He won’t tell me.”
“Don’t you dare!” he yelped, his desperate eyes coming up to meet his sister’s.
She smiled and said, “Angel,” pronouncing it as her father must have done while standing over a Catholic baptismal font on his christening day, AHN-hel.
Jess thought a sec and I saw her eyes go wide in the rearview. “You mean angel!” she squeed, pronouncing it in the English way. “My beautiful little angel!” she exclaimed, pulling him into a hug, his cheeks pink. I saw him wince a bit as her rough treatment caused him to bite his lip a bit harder than he had when his sister had first revealed this little family secret.
“Better than boy-toy,” I opined from the front seat.
“I suppose…” he grumped.
“But it gets better,” my wife said through a burgeoning chortle.
Vin raised a fist and waved it threateningly at his big sister. “I will absolutely pound you flat. Zip it.”
“I’m not afraid of you, Vinny-boy. I can kick your ass any day of the week. Anyway, all I was going to do is suggest that your girlfriend meditate upon your initials!”
He clapped a hand over his eyes, and Jess looked briefly thoughtful. “V-A-G… You’re…” and she began chortling herself, “an angel vag?”
“It’s sixth grade all over again!” he moaned.
“Lean into it, Vin,” I advised. “Become PussyMan, the minge master! Own it!”
That broke the girls into full-on laughter. My wife managed to add, “Captain Cunny!”
Jess elaborated this title with a tagline, “Brave spelunker of the spasm chasm!”
Then the two returned to their giggles, pulling Vin into a hug to take the sting out of their teasing.
“You’re the one with the heavenly pussy, Jess,” he offered.
Her mirth melted, replaced by slack-jawed wonder, encouraging him to say, “That’s it! Jess, I hereby make a gift to you of my childhood bullies’ names for me. I humbly ask you to accept them for your own rather than wield them against me. If you will, Jess my love, please be my Angel Puss.”
I admired his little pun, and I knew Jess was smart enough to see it immediately as well. Her cheeks pinked, and her hands rose tremulously to cup his cheeks. She held his face in her hands for a time, then kissed him long, deep, and slow.
I suppose that between this exchange, my advice, and all of this talk about lady bits, Vin and Jess began to get rather physical. I managed to keep my eyes on the road — mostly — despite the audio distractions over my shoulder and the visual distractions in the rearview mirror.
After several minutes of this foreplay, Jess climbed atop Vin and began boning him slowly, passionately, sensuously. They maintained a near-constant lip-lock, breaking only for breath or a moan.
After perhaps twenty minutes of this, Vin still hadn’t popped. I was impressed with how much his staying power had improved. Kaitlyn apparently saw something different, because she asked Jess, “Frustrated?”
“A bit. I can’t decide if I like his improved stamina or not! It’s good when I need to get off, but when he just won’t let go… Ngggh!” she finished in a sort of growl.
“Can I show you a few things?” Kaitlyn asked Jess tentatively. The younger woman nodded, so Kaitlyn motioned her off of Vin.
As she was preparing to climb atop Vin, I noticed his eyes darting between the two women, and Jess asked, “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to show you a few things, as I said.”
“With your brother?” she asked, sounding slightly scandalized.
“Who else? I’m not going to have Davie come back here and model for us. He’s busy.”
“Ummmm… ’Kay…” acceded Jess uncertainly.
“It’s fine, Jess,” was all Vin said.
My wife slipped her brother’s stiff member inside herself and began demonstrating some advanced moves, going slow for Jess’ benefit as she explained things. This had the side benefit that Vin stayed hard without popping. Kaitlyn was using him as an educational meat puppet, not as a sex partner; she was focused almost entirely on Jess’ lesson.
“All right, now we put all of it together,” Kaitlyn concluded, “like so.”
In the mirror, I saw Kaitlyn switch from slow-speed educational mode to full-speed “I’m going to make you explode just you see if I don’t” mode. Within about a minute, Vin was shouting and pulling Kaitlyn tight against his body, grabbing her shoulders, jamming her down on his cock as he yelled his ecstasy into the roof liner.
Up front, I was stiff as an iron rod from this aural voyeurism.
As Vin calmed, Kaitlyn rolled off and returned her attention to Jess, talking right past him. “So, did you see how it all came together?”
“Holy shitballs, Kate!” breathed Jess.
They went back and forth, discussing the process just like a sports coach to an athlete working through a slo-mo action tape, the student working hard to master the moves. Vin silently watched this back and forth like he was an attendee at a rather bizarre tennis match.
“Oops, he’s getting hard again, Jess. Time for you to show me what you’ve learned.”
Jess climbed on and began putting Kaitlyn’s advice to good use, so that Vin was shortly making a lot more noise than before.
Just after he experienced his second orgasm, I saw Jess’ shoulder wiggling furiously in the mirror, finishing herself off while Vin pulsed inside her. She was squeaking and panting soon after with what looked like a great release of her own, if one self-obtained at the last.
The two panted together for a while, kissing slowly and gently, then flopped apart.
Kaitlyn let them enjoy their afterglow in silence for a time, but then she resumed her role as teacher, saying, “Back on Earth again, you two?”
They nodded with slack smiles.
“Okay, good. Let us resume the lesson. The next thing you need to know — especially you, Vin! — is that there’s a sort of gratification gradient in couple’s sex. The extreme bad end of the scale is when the woman doesn’t even know that she can rub herself off like Jess did to help things along. If a man is with such a woman and he isn’t exceptionally competent, she might not get off at all. Jess does know what she’s doing in bed, and that’s good, but the next step beyond that is where she simply doesn’t need to contribute to her own gratification in that way. Vin, if she can trust you to provide the complete ride, she’ll feel much freer during sex and will have a better orgasm in the end.”
Vin asked, “You want me to get good enough that she just lays there passively, Kate? I just do all the work and blow her mind?”
My wife answered, “That can be a nice thing to do for your woman, Vin, yes, but it’s a skill best considered as a stepping stone to higher achievements. Oh, it can be a nice treat, something you do for her when she’s feeling tired or just wants to be taken care of, but the real value is when the two of you blow past that point together!”
Kaitlyn checked that she had her students’ complete attention. “See, there’s a point where a couple learns to meld their minds, like great dancers. You both learn the steps of the dance and how to read your partner’s intentions and needs so deeply and instinctively that you both end up moving together towards a common goal, neither one of you interfering with the other, exchanging the lead smoothly, no one stepping on anyone’s toes, so to speak. Vin, in that sort of dance with you, Jess might choose to rub herself off, but only because it’s what the dance requires, not because her partner’s left her hanging so she needs to see to herself. You see the distinction?”
“Yeah, I think so,” Vin answered, not sounding entirely certain.
“Don’t worry about it. It takes practice, and that’s fun, too! The main thing I want you to realize is that there are higher expressions of the physical act of love available, if you wish to pursue them.”
Kaitlyn continued patiently in that vein, showing him how to contribute more to her gratification, getting her lessons across without being insulting.
With Kaitlyn talking to him in detail about sex, and with two naked women constantly at hand, Vin was shortly erect again, so Kaitlyn directed Jess back atop him for a combined session, this time to get both sides working towards a common goal. Kaitlyn rode her hand on Jess’ flank, not caressing it, just maintaining contact. I realized that this way, she was able to use her mage senses to dive into the couple’s bodies, the direct contact allowing it despite the interference from the synthetic seat fibers and the seatbelt, which would otherwise ground out her magic. With this insight, she was able to offer brief words of advice to adjust Vin’s technique so that Jess peaked in two more squeaking orgasms before milking a third from Vin.
“Much better, you two!” Kaitlyn praised her brother and semi-sister once the two had slipped into a warm postcoital cuddle.
“How did you do that, Kaitlyn?” breathed Jess.
“Experience,” my wife told her.
“No way,” Jess disagreed with a strong shake of her head. “You told him exactly how I was feeling, and you were right! You drove him exactly like I needed him to move. Now how did you do that?”
“Woman’s intuition,” my wife tried again.
“Um, mystical Indian powers, inherited by marriage?” she tried again.
“I have a 168 IQ, Kaitlyn. There’s something going on with you and Davie. I’m not all that socially adept, but I can string a regression line through a data series in my head, and these past several months, I’ve gathered a lot of data. You can either tell me what’s going on, or I can bore you with my continuing guesses until I get it right.”
“Your call, Davie,” my wife told me.
I thought for a bit, then said, looking at her in the mirror, “When was the last time you were at Fisher Towers, Kaitlyn?”
“Yeah, that’ll work,” Kaitlyn agreed, seeing my train of thought. “Go about half an hour past our normal exit to Moab at Green River, Davie. Utah 128 joins I–70 there, and that’ll take us down to Fisher’s and then into Moab. It’s a prettier drive than the main highway anyway; we should take it more often.”
“We picnicked out there last year,” Vin offered, lagging on the play. “You were there, Kaitlyn.”
Deciding to ignore him, I told Kaitlyn, “Call your parents and tell them we’re going to be, what, maybe two hours late? Say we’re doing a bit of sight-seeing with Jess.”
She couldn’t get a cell signal until we hit the Interstate. After she finished the call, she told me, “Mom says we owe her some stuff from the grocery store on our way through town in payment for not getting there by lunch time.”
“Nah, just banter. She’ll be fine.”
Driving eighty miles an hour bare naked down a US Interstate highway was quite a thrill, particularly when someone passed us!
The exit onto Utah 128 was just where Kaitlyn said it would be. Perhaps ten miles down that road we dropped from the high grassy desert plains into a red rock canyon cut by the Colorado River, a miniature Grand Canyon. Gorgeous!
About halfway down that stretch, we turned off toward Fisher Towers, a spectacular red rock canyon formation a few miles back from the highway.
It’s a washboard-rippled dirt road, so in order to avoid getting rattled off it and into the weeds, I kept our speed to under 15 miles per hour. We were betting that the parking lot at the end of the road would be empty, which meant the road would probably be empty as well, which in turn meant there was very little chance of a crash.
On that justification, I removed my seat belt out of simple curiosity. Oddly, I found that this made me feel less naked. I decided that it was because the belt was constantly reminding me by touch that I wasn’t wearing anything!
I’d chosen Fisher Towers as a reasonably isolated spot without going too far out of our way. I wanted a place we could just drive out to, look around, then choose to get out of the car still naked if possible. Might as well, since Kaitlyn and I would need to be naked to answer Jess’ questions properly.
There’s a tiny tent camping and picnic area with a small dirt parking lot at the Fisher Towers trail head, both normally jammed tight with tourists from spring through fall, but today, one day past the official start of winter, the place was deserted. (And yes, that’s a pun; deal with it.) No normal person wanted to be out here in near-freezing weather, but Kaitlyn and I had special dispensation from Gaia.
The towers are some of the more interesting red rock formations in Southern Utah: a series of tall spires and blades of sandstone, horizontally striated, revealing the layers of ocean-bottom mud that had originally formed the geology back when this area was underwater, before tectonic forces lifted this area of the US most of a mile above sea level, forming the Colorado Plateau. There’s a network of trails all through it, which would give us the cover we needed to show Jess what she’d implicitly demanded to see.
I parked, then turned to the back-seaters. “Jess, you’ll need to come with us to get your answers. Vin, you can come or not, as you choose. We’ll be gone for half an hour or so.” Then I dangled the keys over the back seat between the younger couple, inviting one of them to take them, letting them work out the details between themselves.
“You want me naked out in this weather?” Jess asked.
“Outside, yes, but whether you’re dressed or not is up to you. Kaitlyn and I will have to be nude to give you your answers, but you’ll be under a different restriction: the more technology you bring, the more distance you’ll have to maintain from us while we show you what you want to know. We’re hiking out yon,” I pointed, “out of sight of the parking area.”
“What if someone else drives out here before we can get back into the Nude-Mobile? Aren’t you worried about getting caught naked out here?” Jess asked.
“Don’t worry about us two,” I told her. “We’ll be fine. You’re right to be concerned about getting caught yourself, though. If you want to be naked with us out there, you might wish to dress here in the car and then strip back off after we’ve hiked out of sight of this parking area.”
Jess thought about that for a while, then said to me, “No, I want the full experience you’re offering. I’ll go naked from here.” Then pointing down under the passenger’s front seat, she added, “Kaitlyn, hand me that reusable shopping bag. I’ll use that to carry my clothes out on our hike so I can get dressed in a hurry if need be.”
“I’m going, too, but dressed,” Vin said. “Gimme the bag; I’ll hold your clothes.”
Jess’ mouth quirked upward, and she said drolly, “Yeah, I’m sure you’ll be very happy to be in control of my clothes, all of the risk on me.”
“Damn straight,” he replied. “It’ll be just like these past weeks in your back yard: me bundled up sensibly, you running around naked in the cold with these two.” Then he snorked heavily and reached for the box of facial tissues we kept in the car, still battling off the cold he’d picked up last week.
As Vin quickly dressed and packed Jess’ discarded clothing away in the bag, his girlfriend looked back and forth between us, clearly hoping for explanations, but we didn’t offer her any words, just quiet patience. Words would have to wait until we were out in nature.
Once Vin finished dressing, Kaitlyn and I got out of the car and hiked confidently across the rough parking area to the trail head and out over the cold red sandy ground, along the sandstone cliffs, and down into the narrow canyons. Neither the rough terrain nor the occasional bit of sage brush impeded our hike, our soles being magically toughened to approximately the equal of a good set of sneakers.
At the top of a small rise in the land, we turned back and saw that we’d outpaced Vin and Jess considerably. He could’ve kept up with us, shod as he was, but she was slowing him down, her tender feet not up to the task, so she had to walk carefully to avoid small stones. Vin was chivalrously staying back with her to hand her up a few places where the sandstone peeked through the red dirt to create a rough sort of stair tread.
There upon the rise, Kaitlyn and I wordlessly pulled insulating air blankets over ourselves while we waited, so we were as comfortable as if dressed while still being bared to Gaia and our two young onlookers.
Kaitlyn called out to her brother, “Let Jess hike ahead of you a bit, bro.” He nodded with the clear knowledge that we wanted to do something magical to her, so he would have to keep his tech-clad body away from hers for now.
“Yeah, angel, you just watch my buns flex and think on that!” she snarked.
“That and the tantalizing peeks of sideboob,” he agreed.
As Jess approached and the two continued their banter, I pulled another air blanket over her curvy body’s shape, one side of it touching her body all over from the neck down, the other just a few millimeters out from there, trapping a layer of air over her body, stopping at the tops of her feet.
Their exchange distracted Jess from the sudden cessation of the cold wind on her body, but as she stepped gingerly ever closer to us, I could see her forehead scrunching up in puzzlement.
Before Jess could formulate and pose a proper question, Kaitlyn and I turned to resume our hike, agreeing through the Gaia bond to let her employ that high IQ on the mystery while she hiked some more.
Several minutes later, we came upon a boulder large enough to screen us from the parking area, so we turned and waited for the younger couple to catch up.
On arriving, Jess said, “I’m beginning to see why you two trained me up to withstand being naked in the cold. This is warm compared to a Salt Lake night.”
“Forty-two degrees when we got out of the car,” I observed, remembering the readout on the dash of Kaitlyn’s car. “Balmy.”
My companions grinned back at me for this small joke, but Jess said, “It doesn’t feel that cold. What’s up with that?”
Kaitlyn wordlessly prompted me to do the talking through the Gaia bond, so I said, “Vin, take hold of your girlfriend’s hand for a sec.”
He did, and she gasped in surprise, the air bubble popping under the influence of his nearby tech-clad body, the cuff of his coat touching her wrist, preventing me from maintaining the spell.
“Please let go again,” I told him, then reestablished the spell as soon as I could manage it. I turned to her and said, “The answers you seek, Jess… They explain why most of your hike out here was warm, why you briefly lost that warmth when Vin touched you, and why Kaitlyn and I are walking along here like we’re wearing hiking boots.”
This last distracted Jess from her prior line of thought. “I have noticed that you two have some pretty callused feet,” she observed, the mystery of the recent cold air blast over her bared body momentarily forgotten, her hike-warmed body having quickly re-heated her freshly-created air bubble.
“Yes, but it goes beyond that. We’d hoped to hold off telling you about all of this until you were solidly in the family. It is a rather serious matter. I trust you Jess, quite deeply in fact, but, well, you’ll see why we were reticent.”
She just nodded, so I turned to Vin and asked him, “How’s your nose and fingers? Cold?”
“Yeah, pretty frigid,” he confirmed.
“Jess?” I asked.
“My fingers are warm, but my nose is cold,” she said without thinking. Then with a surprised look, she added, “The soles of my feet are freezing, but my body’s warm! Why? This makes no sense!” I stayed silent, letting her come to her own conclusions, gnawing at the mystery with that ravenous brain of hers. Naturally, she had to give up eventually, not being in possession of the key bits of data she needed. “Joo got some ’splainin’ to do, Davie,” she joked.
“Take a look at your arm,” I suggested. “If you look really close, you’ll see a bit of bending of the light where the air temp changes sharply.”
She held her forearm right up to her nose and stared across its surface, then breathed, “Yeah! I do see it, Davie! You did that‽ How?”
She was getting rather animated now, but I thought one more demonstration was in order. “Jess, look at me.”
She pulled her fascinated gaze up from her forearm, and I disappeared right before her eyes.
After waiting for her jaw to drop gratifyingly, I spoke, apparently from out of thin air, “Bending light is only a bit more difficult than bending air. I suppose if I put my mind to it, I could bend sound as well, making myself silent as well as invisible. I’m not quite sure how I’ll hide my footprints, though.”
Jess’ eyes dropped to the ground, and I did a jig in place to make my presence clearly known, kicking up bits of sand, impressing footprints in the cold dirt. “What the hell is this, Davie?”
I dropped the invisibility bubble, continued my dance a few steps more, and said, “Magic!” with a vaudevillian stage flourish.
“Bull-fucking-shit,” she objected firmly, though only a little louder than normal conversation.
Vin reached a hand around her back and rubbed it, both catching her attention and popping her air bubble again, nodding at her when her gaze met his. Jess’ eyes went wide, then returned to Kaitlyn and I.
I restored the air bubble as soon as Vin let go again then proceeded to explain our tenuous grasp of the scientific principles of magic, its inherent limitations as we understood them, and so on.
“It’s why I wanted to drive out here to show you this stuff, Jess: most of what you’ve seen so far I couldn’t have done inside the car, even while naked, and although I could have done all of this off to the side of the highway, you can understand why I wanted a bit of privacy.”
“Yeah, that much I’ve got,” she agreed, beginning to sound somewhat mollified.
Kaitlyn stepped in now, saying, “This is a very dangerous secret, Jess. We don’t want to be captive subjects in some government research lab.”
I added, “And it’s dangerous to you, too, Jess. You’ve read enough science fiction and techno-thrillers to know how this sort of thing plays out. Everyone around the story’s main characters gets shot, jailed, kidnapped…something. Gotta get all the witnesses, right?”
“Which is why you didn’t want to tell me,” Jess concluded with a nod. She thought a bit, then demanded, “Show me how!”
“I don’t believe I can,” I replied sadly. “You remember all of those meditations we guided you and your LARP friends on in the weeks after we moved in, while it was still warm outside in the evening? We were surreptitiously testing you and your friends for this ability; not everyone can do this, or at least, not everyone can do it well. You didn’t show any sign of having the ability. We can try again later, this time without needing to hide what we’re looking for, but we’ve tested a few dozen people now, with only us two having the ability.”
This wasn’t quite true, but Ranger Kristen’s secret wasn’t mine to tell.
“So, what, it’s like some kind of mutation or something? You’re real-life X-Men?” Jess asked incredulously.
Kaitlyn took that one. “That’s our working hypothesis, but we need more data to implicitly confirm it by failing to disprove it.”
“That’s a screwy way to put it, Kate,” her brother complained.
“Science doesn’t provide absolute proof of correctness, me boyo,” she lectured him. “The scientific method works best when scientists propose falsifiable hypotheses and tests for them. That is, a scientific test is one that, if the test fails, shows that the hypothesis is wrong. It’s exactly backwards from the way popular culture portrays science, Vin.”
He stayed quiet, thinking about that, so after a time, Kaitlyn continued, “I’m not sure a proper test of the genetic mutation hypothesis is even within our grasp. DNA sequencing is getting inexpensive, and you two,” she said, waggling her finger between Jess and myself, “have the computer skills to analyze the resulting data, but it’s really a project for hundreds of research scientists, not a small pack of part-timers like us.”
“Regardless, Vin,” she went on, “we’ll need a lot more data and a lot more study of it before we can make a rigorous theory of magic. At the moment, we’re focused on practical matters.”
“How about we continue with the questions back in the car?” I suggested.
“No, show me a few more things first. These are two really good tricks, but if you’re going to make me believe in magic, I’ll need to see a few more things.”
“Well, you’ve actually seen several,” Kaitlyn replied. “You asked me how I could tell what you were feeling while having sex with Vin. It’s because I could see inside your body and guide my advice with feedback from those observations. It was a really difficult trick, actually, for reasons we can discuss later, but I’ll just say for now that it almost tapped me out. I was relieved to get back out here and recharge.”
“Another one,” I continued, taking over from Kaitlyn, “was that light show back at the Halloween party. We were grabbing moonlight and torchlight to produce those wizard bolts. It’s pretty much the same skill as invisibility: both amount to bending light in a controlled way.”
While I was explaining that, Kaitlyn bent over, placed one hand on the ground, and was kicking her legs up into the air, trying to find a balance point. About the time I finished the explanation, she got the trick of it, ending up in a one-handed handstand, the blood rushing to her face. Through a grunt, she said, “Mages have pretty good body control, too. It isn’t as good as proper training in gymnastics, martial arts, and such, because magic only gives us exceptionally good conscious control, not the sort of sub-conscious drilled-in skill you get with years of intensive practice. Still, it has its points: it’s how we were able to do that wizard battle up in the Alexanders’ tree without falling. Running along those tree limbs was no more difficult for us than running down a sidewalk.”
Kaitlyn folded back down to her feet and stood erect once more.
“Let me guess,” suggested Jess, “it also explains why you two are really good in bed.”
‘Incisive as ever!’ I thought to myself. Aloud, I told her, “Better than you know, actually. We’ve been trying not to show you and Vin up too badly, just do enough better than you to set achievable goals,” I said. Jess looked skeptical, so I said with a shrug, “Simple truth.”
“Like what?” Jess demanded.
Kaitlyn hadn’t told me to stop bragging so much, but I wanted to rein myself in, trying not to court trouble as often, but she apparently sensed no potential trouble here because she answered for me. “Several times, Davie and I have had hours-long lovemaking sessions with only one colossal orgasm each. I think our record is something like five hours, and we only cut it short at that point because we were getting hungry and thirsty. Otherwise, we could go indefinitely.”
“Wow…” Jess breathed softly. “Sounds painful,” she observed.
“Which brings us to another of the skills you’ve already seen, Jess, though you may not have clicked the pieces together yet. Have you noticed yourself feeling better in your person lately?” I asked.
“Yeah. I attributed it to the massages.”
“Well, yes, but the physical work was only part of it. I’ve actually healed some developing RSI and DVT problems in you. Also, you remember that first massage we gave you shortly after moving in, mid-September? I fixed your sprained ankle then.”
“And I fixed your wrenched neck,” added my wife. “What did you do to her to cause that anyway, Vin?” she demanded cheekily.
“Well, I was kind of pounding her in a…”
“Hush, you, or I’ll give you a real pounding!” Jess threatened him with a waggle of a clenched fist. Then shaking her head at Vin’s insensitivity to an event she clearly felt embarrassed about, she tried to move us along in the conversation. “You’re a…a healer?” she asked me incredulously.
Knowing Jess was a role-playing gamer, I replied, “Yup. Just call out ‘need healz!’ and I’ll throw a healing spell at you.”
“He’s joking, Jess,” Kaitlyn explained, “but when we’re doing naked massages, there’s a fair bit of healing we can do without a lot of fuss. Basically, anything your body can heal on its own, we can accelerate.”
“And that piece of the secret of our powers is enough to cause us plenty of trouble right there,” I said darkly.
Jess looked thoughtful. “Yeah, you could have the entire medical establishment down on your heads.”
“Not to mention every person with a chronic or fatal disease,” added Kaitlyn.
Jess got a shrewd look on her face. “But you’re not fully holding it back, are you? You’re using it sneakily.”
“Yes, and not just on you,” I confirmed. “This massage thing is in part a way to get into a position where we can use the magic without getting caught. We’ve done a bit of healing work on your friends the Alexanders, on most of the massage winners at their parties, and on a few of the Gutierrez family members. We even healed a total stranger once; saved his life, actually. That one we didn’t plan on.”
“Let’s get going, Jess,” suggested Kaitlyn. “We can talk more about this in the car.”
On our hike back to the car Kaitlyn said, “We don’t want you getting mad at Vin for holding this back from you. He’s family, so we told him first, and we swore him to secrecy about it. If you’d married him before discovering the secret, we’d have told you then, too.”
“On that note, you will be keeping our secret, right Jess?” I asked, trying to keep the apprehension out of my voice. I trusted Jess, but this was such an awfully powerful secret! It could bend the morality of many a good person.
“Absolutely. You’re right. I care deeply about you two, and I don’t want to get into trouble myself, either. It’d be doubly foolish of me to spread this around. Your secret is safe with me,” she assured us.
Jess spun and hiked out away from the boulder’s cover, exposed now to any hidden winter hiker who might be around, walking toward a nearby clifflet to see out over the glorious desert expanse. When we joined her, she said, “Davie, this air bubble thingy is neat, but I want to hike back in the cold, feel the air on my skin.”
“One further demonstration first,” I said. Through the bond, I asked Kaitlyn to join me with her, our arms around her back, looking out over the vista.
A few seconds later, Jess made the connection without me having to bring it up explicitly. “The air bubble works when you’re touching me bare, but not when Vin touches me… It’s because he’s dressed!”
“That’s right,” I agreed.
“If you want to keep that title, Captain Cunny, you’ll peel and come over here, right now!”
I looked back over my shoulder quickly enough to see the grimace that this command elicited, but he stripped dutifully, packed his things into the top of the shopping bag, set the bag aside on a small flat-topped rock nearby, and joined us in our companionable stance, four bared bodies lined up along the precipice, contemplating Gaia’s beauty.
Kaitlyn wordlessly pulled an air bubble over him, and he whispered to her, “Thanks.” I felt her nod of acceptance through the bond.
A few minutes later, Jess said, “All right, we’d better be moving on.”
I let her air bubble go as she’d asked, dropping my own out of a similar wish to be utterly bare in nature.
Kaitlyn joined me in that state shortly after, but she left Vin’s bubble up, he losing it immediately upon grabbing the synthetic bag’s handle.
“Hang on, y’all,” he said. “Lemme get dressed again.”
“You can catch up, Vin,” his sister told him. “We’ll be taking it slow on Jess’ account.”
We began hiking down the canyon, taking a leisurely alternate path back to the still-deserted parking lot.
It was a glorious hike, both for the unfettered freedom of being nude in nature and for the uncommon beauty of the setting itself.
We never saw a sign of another vehicle or person out here before getting to the car, so Kaitlyn and I stayed visible, and Jess stayed vulnerably bare.
We didn’t speak. Jess clearly wished to cogitate, while Kaitlyn and I just enjoyed being nude in nature. We couldn’t do this during the warm months; the place got mobbed even in early spring, just as soon as it warmed to the point where you could hike without a coat, so we treated the experience as the precious rare thing it was.
Vin caught up to us about halfway along the return trail, staying back several paces to enjoy our show. As we walked up to the car, he said, “I’ll drive,” pulling the keys out of the shopping bag.
Kaitlyn healed her semi-sister’s rock-abused feet, eliciting both a nod of insight and a grateful smile, then we got into the back seat with her, Jess in the middle seat between us.
All the way back to town, Jess grilled us about our abilities, her incisive mind leading her to many correct or nearly-correct guesses, so that it turned more into a series of us confirming her insights rather than us giving her a tutorial on magic.
“Invisibility…” Jess mused. “Why aren’t you blind? It’s obvious that you’re sending all the light from one side of your body to the other, but then what do you use to see?”
I explained, “We can thin the bubble just over our pupils so that an observer only sees two slightly darker spots over whatever background we’re in front of, from their perspective. When the background is dark or complicated enough, a person cannot discern them, Jess.”
“Like dust on a DSLR camera sensor,” she added, nodding in understanding. “It only shows up when you’re taking a photo of a plain-painted wall or the sky, and then only if the lens aperture is stopped down far enough that its bokeh doesn’t blur the dust spots out.”
“Precisely,” I agreed. “The laws of optics affect human vision, too, and then on top of that you have the built-in biases and errors of the brain’s optical processing. The brain is geared to sense motion: two still dark dots against a complicated dark background are effectively invisible, especially when the observer’s pupils are wide open.”
Jess was nodding again, and she added, “Right, I get it. And if you are in a rare condition where the pupil thinning matters, you can trade your own vision for complete invisibility.”
“That’s right,” I confirmed, “it’s a tradeoff. I’ve never been in a circumstance where I had to do that, but yes, it could happen.”
Jess thought about that then asked her next question, almost a deductive statement. “It’s like wearing sunglasses, right? Being invisible like that, I mean.”
“Yeah, another tradeoff,” I agreed. “However much we thin the bubble to see better, the more visible our pupils are. Kaitlyn told you about our bodily control: we can amp up our retina’s sensitivity faster and deeper than human biology normally allows, but in practice I’ve never needed to, because the tradeoff works in our favor: when it’s bright out, our pupils are easiest to see, but at those same times we don’t need to thin the invisibility bubble as much to see well; and when it’s dark out, we don’t need to hide our pupils as much unless we’re up close to someone we’re trying to hide from and we can’t stay still enough for the dark spots to blend into the background.”
“Do the pupil holes disappear when you blink?” she asked next.
“It’s up to the mage,” I replied patiently, “but the way I do it, they stay in place over my pupils when my eyes are closed, too, just outside the eyelid. Kaitlyn’s told me the spots lighten a bit when I blink, but it’s still not a big compromise over complete invisibility because a) it’s fast, and b) during the blink, I actually blend even better with most backgrounds. The main problem with that technique is that blinking dark spots are easier to see than steady ones. On the plus side, it gives me the option to close my eyes to increase my level of invisibility without needing to pour power into a modification to the bubble, which can matter when I’m running off my internal reserves.”
That kept her quiet for a few miles, but then she burst out onto a new tangent, “Those snow elf ears! That wasn’t special effects makeup at all, was it?”
“Nope. We grew those.”
“Could you become, like, real elves?” Jess asked in wonder.
I answered, “We haven’t tried, but we think human biology has inherent limits that constrain what we can do. A better example than elves are Klingons. We could probably make our foreheads ridge up like that, and we can certainly grow out our hair long enough to style it the way they do on the shows, but we couldn’t give ourselves an eight-chambered heart and a third lung, as canon says Klingons have.”
“You think you could end up killing yourselves by pushing it too far,” Jess concluded.
“Yeah. Ears? Easy. Total biological makeover? Well beyond our capabilities, maybe even fatal, as you say.”
Kaitlyn added, “Even those things we can change, if they’re outside the scope of what our DNA could possibly produce, we think the body will bring things into line as soon as it can. Take the elf ears: if we hadn’t magicked them back into normal shape after the party, we believe the effect might’ve worn off over time.”
Jess rebutted that with, “But if someone has a chunk taken out of their ear, it doesn’t regenerate.”
“She’s got a point, Davie,” Kaitlyn said.
“No, we had points. Two of them apiece, you remember.” I grinned cheekily at them, proud of my pun.
“Are you going to make me throw your clothes out the window, Davie?” threatened Kaitlyn.
I just kept on smiling.
Jess got us back on track. “So would they have grown back into normal human shape or not?”
I’d been thinking this over since Jess raised the issue, so I essayed, “Your speculation might be right, Jess. It could be that changes to bone and cartilage are more or less permanent until magicked back into shape, because the body stops shaping those things after you reach adulthood.”
“Some wizards you two are,” grumped Jess. “The basis for the word is ‘wise,’ but all I’m hearing is uninformed speculation!”
“Well, keep in mind, Jess, I’ve only been at this for, what, eight months, Davie?” Kaitlyn said.
“About that,” I agreed.
“And you, Davie?” asked Jess.
“Coming up on three years. I actually discovered it while I was working at S&G with you in Salt Lake. It’s why I left and moved down to Moab, to be closer to nature. It’s why I bought a house a fair bit out of town, with lots of natural desert around it.”
Jess was silent, but I could tell what she was thinking. “You know why I didn’t tell you, Jess. The secret was even more delicate back then.”
“I understand,” Jess said.
“Anyway,” I said, wishing to return to the prior topic, “before I found Kaitlyn, my progress was a lot slower. We push each other along much faster than we’d go alone. It’s an equal partnership by this point; I caught her up to my skill level in, what, two months or so, Kaitlyn? Three, maybe?”
“About that,” she agreed.
I went on, “The one that leads in any given working is the one with the best idea at the time, which is often not me, it’s Kaitlyn.”
“And that’s why we want to find more mages,” concluded Kaitlyn. “We think we could really move once we have lots of minds exploring the possibilities. We two don’t have much time to experiment, doubling down on class time like we are.”
“Thus all the naked time in my back yard,” inferred Jess.
“Bingo,” Kaitlyn replied.
“Eight months…” Jess muttered, then began looking back and forth between us, calculating. “That’s why you two got married!”
Kaitlyn smiled. “Well, that was part of it, though not the whole of it. It turns out that I kinda like Davie, too. Sometimes.”
I smiled broadly at the teasing, then added, “Better to say that magic is the thing that made me stand out to her. Discovering that Kaitlyn was a mage also helped get us together, but there’s personal stuff beyond that, and if we hadn’t worked that out, we’d likely have fallen back apart. Now that we’re married, the magic is just something we do, not the thing that holds us together. If we both somehow lost the abilities today, I know I’d want to remain with Kaitlyn.”
“And me with you, my love,” Kaitlyn said, reaching her hand across to me.
That put our clasped hands in Jess’ lap, so it wasn’t long before we started fingering her, caressing her, trading kisses with her.
By the time we reached the junction of Utah 128 and US 191, we’d given Jess another orgasm, and I was wound up tight, but I reached inside with my meditation skills and calmed myself.
With that distraction sublimated, I guiltily realized that Kaitlyn was likely even worse off than me, being more intimately involved with the lessons and also not getting any sexual release of her own. I hoped we’d be able to take care of each other soon, in bed tonight at the latest.
We all got dressed in a scramble as Vin drove us carefully down into town, so that by the time we reached the grocery store, we were all dressed again.