Taps-a-lot gave a happy surge forward as he swam towards the exit portal of the campus flow system. His physics class had ran long, not that there was anything particularly difficult about the hydrodynamics questions in play, they had all been almost amusingly simple, but the Shatar professor had taken the time to explain why they were so very difficult to Shatar and human brains. The concept of a mind that literally processed hydrodynamics via a hydrodynamic system of internal fluids, having trouble with hydrodynamic physics problems had been perhaps a little too humorous to the gathered undulates and Taps-a-lot was afraid that they had shown their amused wriggles a bit too much. The effort of holding them in had left at least Taps-a-lot with a significant amount of not-unpleasant energy to burn after class. So when his leading appendages had a good grasp on the tunnel ridge in front of him he thrust down and tossed himself up into the current to vigorously swim.
Adding to his delighted mood, he had a social engagement arranged with Human Friend Ryan for the afternoon. They were simply going to ‘hang out’ in Ryan’s apartment and ‘chill’. Human Friend Ryan being a fairly gregarious sort, had long ago installed a lovely little hydration pool with a little ecosystem of plants and algae. Taps-a-lot had never yet had a chance to soak in it and he was looking forward to it with positive giddiness.
He soon found himself at the exit portal and eagerly pulled himself up onto the dry floor of the corridor of the human living quarters. He felt the texture of the floor thoughtfully and set off shuffling in the direction of Human Friend Ryan’s apartment. Finding the door marked with a stylized form of the human’s family name he reared up against the door and drummed his gripping appendages against it. An indistinct human shout came from the other side and the floor vibrated as Human Friend Ryan came to the door.
“Come on in!” Human Friend Ryan called out as the door slid open. “Pop into the pool if you like. I’m just about to take a shower.”
Taps-a-lot returned the audio greeting, but was instantly distracted by Human Friend Ryan’s appearance. The human had stripped off his outer layers of protective insulation and was only wearing a loose covering around his core. The shed layers were laying in a rather comfortable looking pile against the door that led to the human’s cleansing chamber. Taps-a-lot noted that the shed layers were rather coated in flaking layers of algae and mud, and wondered if that had something to do with the flickering colors of annoyance that speckled Human Friend Ryan’s skin. Taps-a-lot shuffled over to the pool that was set at a convenient height beside the human couch. Instead of dropping in however Taps-a-lot watched Human Friend Ryan curiously.
Despite his stated intention the human walked over to the pile of his discarded clothes, scooped them up, and then tossed them in a container holding other soiled garments. Then the human paused in the middle of the room and waked over to an active work terminal. He bent over it and did something, from the tone of the devices response he was sending a message. Then the human walked over to the pool and Taps-a-lot perked up in interest.
“Gotta dead head these regularly,” the human observed as his fingers removed several spend flowering branches from the plant.
That done the human paused and seemed to almost relax while standing there. His eyes ceased moving and Human Friend Ryan simply stood there, swaying minutely from side to side as humans did. Taps-a-lot noted with concern that the agitation display was increasing and with a startled realization he recognized it. That was the pattern that human colors displayed when they were avoiding something unpleasant. He had seen similar patterns on Human Friend Ryan when the human had been forced to walk through a particularly opaque and biota-rich chest-deep section of water.
“Human Friend Ryan!” Taps-a-lot burst out in audio tones, feeling an absent pride that he had managed to remember to add implications of surprise. “Do you not-” Taps-a-lot realized too late that he didn’t know the word to indicate the future tense of enjoy, “want to take a shower?”
Human Friend Ryan stiffened and then covered his face with one, wide-splayed hand and emitted a long, low sound that Taps-a-lot was almost certain contained no words.
“No, no,” Human Friend Ryan said. “I do – it is! I just-”
The human gave up on audio-speech and flung up his hands in a much more understandable gesture of, “It’s much too complex to explain when I am in this state of agitation.”
“Shower!” Human Friend Ryan announced with words.
“I will go that way to do the thing,” his appendages announced, as the agitation showing in his colors coalesced into a far calmer determination.
Whereupon the human followed his gestures and stalked into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. The sound of the rapid, high-temperature water flow preferred by humans started and Taps-a-lot let his appendages idly examine the plants for more buds that needed dead-heading as he mulled over the strange behavior. So far as he knew the humans universally agreed that the high-temperature water-based cleansing they preferred was enjoyable. Human Friend Ryan often spoke of a ‘nice hot shower’ with what Taps-a-lot assumed were longing tones when they had been out recreating in the pools too long. The Undulate pondered if something, some unpleasant incident had occurred to alter the human’s feelings towards the action. However as he ran out of plant buds to examine and Human Friend Ryan lingered in the enforced privacy of his shower, Taps-a-lot decided he had to reject that idea. Soft stains of human music mingled with the flow of the water and there was no questioning the enjoyment they indicated. Then the singing stopped and only the steady flow of water continued. The humidity capacity of the small cleansing room was reached the Taps-a-lot heard the vents activate as they captured the airborne water droplets and cycled them back into the water system.
Taps-a-lot was almost concerned about Human Friend Ryan when the human staggered out of the bathroom wearing a fresh layer of the light core protecting clothes and tossed his dirty ones into the container with the rest of the layers. The human’s stripes were vibrant with contrast and the light they emitted was refracting through the lingering droplets of water that clung to him. His whole body was held in a more relaxed posture, radiating contentment, and just the slightest regret. Human Friend Ryan had clearly not wanted to leave the shower even though he had spent well past four times the recommend amount of time in it.
Taps-a-lot waited for his friend to drop his mass onto the couch before speaking the carefully considered question.
“Human Friend Ryan,” he began, “you do enjoy showers, don’t you?”
Human Friend Ryan turned his head towards the Undulate, his face wrinkled with surprise and his strips glowing with thought.
“One of the best parts of the day,” the human assured him. “Why do you ask?”
“You did not appear quite enthusiastic to begin the process,” Taps-a-lot observed.
Human Friend Ryan suddenly went utterly slack in the face and his colors gave that adorable ripple they did when you confronted a human with some little bit of trivia they didn’t understand. Then his mind seized on the question and his body positioned to say.
“I am considering your words,” head tilted to about a thirty degree angle relative to the main line of his core, lips and eyes slightly compressed.
“I do like showers,” Human Friend Ryan said slowly. “I really do, but I guess...sometimes, right before I take the shower…”
The human emitted a low sound, mostly breath with only a little voice that, while not a word, was supposed to indicate confusion over the topic under consideration.
“I don’t know,” the human admitted, “there is this weird sort of, activation energy required I guess? If I’m not to tired I don’t notice it, but if I’m hot and tired, and sticky, part of me just wants to sit here and not bother with a shower.”
“So when you need the cleansing the most,” Taps-a-lot observed slowly. “Your thoughts reject it.”
“Yeah,” Human Friend Ryan confirmed, “weird.”
His face creased into a brief frown of annoyance, then smoothed out. His whole body shifted in the way that meant, “that is a very perplexing matter but not one I wish to dedicate thought to.”
He reached under to the climate controlled storage areas, at convenient Undulate level under the couch and pulled out two canisters.
“Want one of those weird local juices?” Human Friend Ryan asked.
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What does it mean when your human friend says “Watch This?”? Why does this simple phrase seem to terrify any alien that has first appendage experience with humans? #HFY #HumansAreWeird #HumansAreSpaceOrcs #EarthIsADeathWorld #EarthIsSpaceAustralia
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