Stargazing

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Sierra Nevada Field Camp.

The sign hid shyly off the road like a mountain creature, flashing by before I could brake and turn in. It was a quarter mile before I found a wide enough shoulder to turn around and go back.

A low wooden building faced the parking lot and an open meadow spread out to one side. On all other sides the ponderosa pines and firs of the montane forest crowded closely around. The air felt fresh and thin after the heat of Silicon Valley. I went inside to register.

“Is this the astronomy camp?” I asked the girl inside. She was wearing a checked shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and jeans of the sort that you work in rather the sort you wore to the mall to be seen in. She looked like she spent a lot of time outside. I couldn’t tell if she was staff or another camper.

“Yes it is.” She nodded towards a clipboard on the table. “Check your name off on the sheet, then go pitch your tent in the meadow. There’s a bathhouse down there for washing up. It’s coed. Dinner’s up here at six, and the professor will tell you about the schedule then.”

I thanked her and picked up the clipboard. It looked there were eight people registered, five guys and three girls, and only one was here before me. The girl in the checked shirt had disappeared, so I went out to find a camping spot.

There was one tent pitched like a fortress in the center of the meadow. It let you know that it expected to soon be the center of a thriving village, with lesser tents set up about it. I found a secluded spot under a gnarled old black oak that looked like a good companion for reading. I’m not much of a joiner.

After I had my dome tent set up, I still had three hours until dinner time. I had picked up a trail map in the main building, which indicated a number of loops fanning out from the meadow. I picked up my Pentax and started up a trail that was marked as an overlook. There were much more modern cameras than that Pentax, but we had been friends for nearly 20 years and I knew how it thought. I can’t stand a camera that thinks it knows what exposure I want.

I came back a few hours later, pleasantly tired and with a couple of rolls of pictures. The vistas had been grand, but it had been the small things that I had photographed: the poppy by the knobby rock, the wizened pine bent by the prevailing winds. The small things tell the stories.

The meadow now had six tents, including my own. One had pitched by itself at the top edge of the meadow near the trees; another one who valued quiet. The other three had clustered around the tent in the center, completing the village that it had expected.

Everyone had gathered in the main room, which appeared to serve as both dining room and classroom. An older man with a white mustache came over as I walked in.

“I’m Professor Fields. I’m teaching the class this week. Have you already signed in?”

“Yes, I got in earlier. I’m Ben.”

“You’re just in time for dinner. Let’s get some food and then we can go over the course.”

I started to get a sense of the others as we lined up to fill our plates. I pegged the confident young guy with curly dark hair and a Chicago accent as the leader of the tent village. There were a couple of other college-age guys who left no lasting impression on me. There was another fellow about my age, which is to say 29, with a dark, trim beard and coke bottle glasses.

Then there was the girl. An urban pixie in a tube top and tight shorts. Close cropped deep brunette hair framed twinkling eyes and an upturned nose. The three college guys were about to strain an eyeball on her.

I sat next to the guy who seemed my age. College kids were starting to seem a little young to me. His name was Robert, and he turned out to be an architect and designer in San Francisco. We got to talking about science fiction, found we both liked Roger Zelazny, and spent the meal talking about the finer points of “Lord of Light.”

After dinner the professor briefed us on the outline of the class: class time in the morning, labs in the afternoon, observing sessions in the evening. Then we adjourned to sit around the campfire outside.

To my surprise, the urban pixie came over to sit next to me. I’m too nerdy to be much of a girl magnet, so I tried to figure out what had brought her over. She pulled her knees up and wrapped her arms around them, and shivered slightly. Goose bumps marched up her arms, and her nipples jutted desperately through the fabric of the tube top, trying to stop it from slipping any lower.

“You’re not really dressed for the weather, you know.”

“It’s the middle of summer! It’s not supposed to be so cold!”

“We’re at 5600 feet. When the sun goes down, it gets really cold up here.” I reached into my backpack and pulled out the extra flannel shirt I had taken on my hike. “Here, you can wear this for now.”

She gratefully pulled on the shirt, making the view marginally less distracting. I could still see a lot of leg. “Thanks! I’m Geri.”

“I’m Ben.”

“You don’t illegal bahis look like you’re here for the easy science credit so you can graduate.”

“I guess not. Is that what you’re doing?”

“Yeah, I need to complete the science requirement. I’m a design major, so I was just looking for something with the least math and memorization. What about you?”

“Well, I actually already took astronomy in college, um, a few years ago. I actually took Carl Sagan’s introductory astronomy class when I was a sophomore. But I haven’t done any more since then, and I just bought a new telescope and wanted to get some observing time in. This seemed like a good way to do it.”

“Carl Sagan, huh? Even I’ve heard of him. He must have a really big telescope.”

“That’s the thing about professional astronomers. They never actually look through their telescopes, they just hook cameras and instruments on them.”

A little while later I wandered off to my tent. Geri was still sitting and chatting with the others, and promised to return my shirt in the morning.

During the night I was awakened by someone nearby with a bright light, followed by the sounds of tent assembly. I guessed that one of the two missing students had arrived late and decided to camp near me. Eventually the clanging, shuffling, and loud zipping subsided, but by then I was thoroughly awake and grumbling at the latecomer. Much, much later, I fell asleep again.

In the morning the sun thumped on the tent flaps and generally insisted that it was time to be awake. When a cook’s triangle added a call to breakfast to the ruckus, I reluctantly unzipped my sleeping bag. When I poked my head out of the tent, I found another tent had been put up about ten feet away. There were no signs of life just yet.

The washroom was open air, and quite chilly. One of the guys was trying to use the shower, and was yodeling “Cold cold cold cold” at the top of his lungs. I decided to postpone my shower until later when it warmed up.

Breakfast was in the main building, and the only takers were the five of us guys from the night before. Professor Fields came in, but only had coffee. He looked like the sort of person who got up at dawn. There was no sign of Geri, but near the end of breakfast a tousled redhead wandered in.

“You must be Miss Keane.” Professor Fields tapped the clipboard.

“Yes, I’m Kerry. I got in very late last night. I had a flat tire on the way and it took forever to get it changed.”

“Glad you made it. We had one cancellation, so it’s just the seven of you this week. Class starts in a half hour, so get yourself some breakfast.” Geri rolled in about 20 minutes after the start of class, poured some coffee and listened in red-eyed befuddlement at the catalog of planets, satellites, asteroids, rings, and comets.

When it was time for the first lab, the professor asked us to split into teams of two or three. I was surprised when both girls came over to team up with me. As we leaned over the lab benches to figure some simple orbital equations, I had to use all my concentration to keep my eyes on the paper in front of us. Geri was wearing a halter top that barely contained taut breasts. As for Kerry, I could now see that she was braless under a thin T-shirt, with a redhead’s creamy complexion and incredible freckles plunging down her neckline. As a redhead myself, I’ve always had a special affinity for freckled vistas.

I focused on the problem set, showing them how orbital speed and velocity are related. “Here, if this is the Sun,” I drew a dot, “and this is Mercury,” I drew a circle around the dot, “and this is Jupiter,” a big circle around the first two, “you can figure out from their distances how fast they orbit.” It started to dawn on me how much that drawing resembled a breast and I could feel my face heat up. I glanced up to see Kerry blushing slightly and Geri smiling to herself.

Professor Fields discovered that I was sandbagging on the problems, and gave me some elliptical orbits to figure, then some hyperbolic ones. Geri wandered away to flirt innocently with the younger guys, but Kerry kept up with the math and got through some of the medium problem sets with only a few hints.

By the end of the day I was feeling pleasantly challenged. Even though it was a basic course, with so few people the professor could give me some harder problems. I also ended up acting as an unofficial teaching assistant and math tutor to the others.

After dinner, we waited for twilight, and headed up the road in our cars to the observing site. Again, the two girls picked my car to ride in, and this time I asked them about it in the privacy of the drive. “I’m just a simple math nerd. Why aren’t you picking the guys your age to work with?”

There was a conspiratorial double giggle. “Because they are our age, silly. They can’t keep their eyes off our tits long enough to do a problem set. We’ve seen you sneak a peak too, but you’re a gentleman about it.”

“Oh.” I guess I was now considered “safe.” “What illegal bahis siteleri about Robert?”

“He’s gay.”

“What? How do you know?”

“It’s obvious.”

“Maybe to you.”

After a short drive we came to an open field, and carried the telescopes by the beams of red flashlights to a good level spot. As we trod on low foliage, the fragrance of coyote sage filled the air. We startled some mule deer into bounding away, and the two girls grabbed my arms until their hearts stopped pounding. I can’t say that I minded.

It was a glorious clear and chilly night for observing. We quickly ran through the visible planets: Saturn and Mars, and then turned to some deep sky objects. I knew right where to find M57, and they gasped at the perfect smoke ring hanging in the black sky. The Great Hercules cluster and the Andromeda Galaxy didn’t even require me to crack a star chart. The beautiful blue and gold doublet of Albireo was greeted with amazement: “I never knew stars had such colors!”

When we called it quits after midnight, with the mountain cold seeping into our bones, we were all in a contemplative mood after seeing all the jewels in the sky. The ride back to camp was hushed.

We got back to the tents late. All was quiet around the meadow, with only the fading rustles of people zipping into sleeping bags. I had just taken off my clothes and snuggled into my bag when there was the clang of a knocked over garbage can from near the main building.

The night held its breath for a moment as it waited for another sound. The crickets had just about decided to start back in when I saw a flash of light outside my tent.

“Ben! It’s Kerry. Can I come in? I’m scared.”

I squirmed halfway out of my bag, unzipped the flap, and she crowded in, carrying her sleeping bag. “Do you have room in here? Do you think it’s a bear?”

“It might be. The cook said he saw one around last week. It’s more likely to be raccoons, though. If I move a few bags around, there should be enough room. It’s a three man tent and there’s only one of me at the moment.”

I did that while she sat on top of her sleeping back, shivering. She was wearing only a T-shirt that was torn off at the midriff, and lacy panties. I looked at the bag she had brought in. “Were you warm enough last night?”

“Uh, no. The cold seemed to go right through the bag.”

“It’s not surprising. That’s a real summer-weight bag, for warm nights. If we zip the bags together and put mine on top, it’ll be warmer, plus we’ll share the body heat.”

She hesitated, chewing her lip. “OK,” she nodded.

I climbed all the way out of the bag. “Oh!” she said.

“Er, yes, I don’t usually wear anything to sleep in. I wasn’t expecting company. We can each turn towards the wall if you like.”

I zipped the bags together, and arranged them with as much insulation beneath them as possible, then turned down the corners on both sides. “I’ll take this side and you can take that side. If we put our backs together you’ll be warmer.”

She was still chewing her lip. I turned out the light and slid in my side, facing the wall. I heard some slithering, then some zipping, and a warm back pressed against mine. A warm, naked back. “You’re a real gentleman, Ben. It’s only fair for me to follow the house rules.”

The night grew quiet again, and I thought she might have dropped off to sleep. I tried not to think of her sitting cross legged on my sleeping bag, the bottom edges of her breasts just visible under the cut off T-shirt, the cute butt in the lace underwear… I told my cock to stop doing my thinking for me.

Something moved outside the tent, and there was a loud wuffling noise. “Eep!” She spun around and grabbed me tight. “It’s right outside!”

“Just be calm. It’s not going to hurt us.” I turned to put an arm around her to calm her down. I became aware of the soft breasts pressed into my side.

There were a few more snuffles from outside, and she squeezed me tighter. Then the sounds receded into the darkness. After it had been quiet for a while, the crickets resumed and the dark seemed less occupied. She relaxed a bit, and started to move off me, then stopped when she felt my rigid cock against her thigh.

“Oh, did I do that?”

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it.”

“Is it OK if I stay like this? I feel safer.”

“Uh, sure. Just a little…” I moved her a bit more on top so my cock wasn’t squished between us. Now it stuck up between her legs.

“Thank you. It feels strange to be able to make someone do something so … involuntary.”

“You don’t have a reaction?”

“I feel kinda … squishy.” She squirmed a little bit and I realized that the head of my cock was now resting against her pussy. I could feel the soft downy hairs on either side. Something warm rested against the very tip. I held my breath.

She moved slightly, and I could feel her pussy lips part, and just barely kiss my sensitive tip. “We shouldn’t be doing this. I was just scared by the bear.” She canlı bahis siteleri moved again, and her lips opened wider. “I don’t want to take advantage of you.”

“I thought that usually went the other way.”

“It depends on how you do it.” She wiggled again, and head of my cock slipped into her warm glove. “We just met. We don’t know each other. This feels so dirty.” She slipped ever so slightly lower.

“We don’t have any protection. I should be safe right now. Doesn’t that make it feel more daring?” Another small slide. I was definitely inside her now. I couldn’t pretend we were just touching.

“Have you ever done anything like this before?” She made only the smallest of movements, but every one somehow took me deeper inside, sinking into a pool of hot quicksand.

“No, never.” I’m sure I could find some interpretation of that question that would make it true.

She ran her hand over my jaw, which I kept covered with a trim red beard. If I shaved, I still got carded. The beard made me look a bit older. “I’ve never kissed anyone with a beard. What’s it like?”

“From this side of the beard, it’s about the same. Perhaps you can tell me from that side.”

Soft lips found mine in the darkness, kissed lightly, then more deeply. She brushed them over my lips, my eyes, feeling what she couldn’t see in the darkness. “It’s a little prickly above your lip, but it’s so soft everywhere else. I could imagine that I’m kissing one of the Kif.”

“I love that book. I can growl for you if you like.”

She laughed softly above me, which moved her breasts across my chest and transmitted soft quakes through our joined bodies. She lifted up a little bit above me to push me the last little way in. I lifted my knees to angle her for better penetration; she gasped. Now I could lift my hands to brush across her stiff nipples and cover her warm breasts with my palms.

“Just stay there. I like to feel you just like that.” Our movements were no more than our breathing, small pulsations in and out. It felt incredible. Each inhalation slipped back a millimeter; each exhalation penetrated deeper. She started to tremble.

“Pinch my nipples,” she whispered. I put thumb and forefinger on each one and pressed gently. “Harder.” I pinched harder, afraid of hurting her. “Harder.” I increased the pressure a bit more, marveling at how much she could take. “Harder … Ah!”

I used my raised knees to lift her a bit, pulling my cock back almost to her opening, then thrust back into her depths. She toppled over the edge, shaking and whimpering in pleasure. She seemed like the sort who had quiet, intense orgasms.

After a few minutes she drew a breath and pulled herself back up. She started riding smoothly up and down on my cock, stroking me with her warm, textured walls. It was an impossibly quick trip to the top. “I’m going to come,” I whispered.

“Don’t pull out! Make me all warm inside.” That was too much. I grabbed her butt with both hands and speared home. Arching my back gave me another inch of penetration, all the way to the bottom. My cock contacted her cervix and knew it had reached its goal. Hot semen pumped through me into her, filling her inner spaces.

I slowly exhaled, coming down from the wonderful high. She snuggled close. I pulled the sleeping bag up around her shoulders. She said sleepily, “Thank you for getting me warm again, Ben.”

We slept still joined. Sometime during the night I felt myself grow hard again within her. We slid half sleeping inside each other, and reprised the first movement. We came, or dreamed we came. We slept again.

In the morning she looked a little uncertain. A “Did we do that?” look hid in her eyes. She didn’t say much, but picked up her skimpy clothes, wrapped her sleeping bag around herself, and scurried the ten feet across the open to her tent.

She came in late to breakfast, and paired up with someone different in lab. She didn’t meet my eyes all morning. I finally cornered her just before lunch.

“Did I say something wrong?”

“No.”

“Then what is it? Last night was kind of crazy, but I thought that you enjoyed it.”

“It’s just … when I woke up this morning … I started thinking I didn’t even know the person I was last night. I’ve never slept with someone I met a few hours before. I’ve never talked dirty like that. I don’t take risks like that. I’ve never been so aggressive with a guy. I don’t want you to think I’m one of those easy girls.”

“Easy? Do you know how much work it was to get that bear to show up right then?”

She looked startled, then slowly smiled.

“Let’s just say that the stars just aligned for us last night. Don’t tarnish it with guilt.”

“All right. Thank you, Ben. I feel better now.”

After lunch, I was feeling kind of sticky, even though I liked smelling Kerry’s scent on me. It had warmed up enough that I thought I would give the outdoor showers a try. I walked down to my tent to get a towel, then walked out to the showers in the meadow.

They were unoccupied at the moment. There were three stalls with an outer changing area. The stalls only came up to my shoulder, so I could easily see the trees and sky on all sides. The one on the left was marked “Out of Order”, so I took the middle one.

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