Author's note: This story is set in the same universe as my prior Drider stories, which explain the world, and the situation between humans and Driders.
* * *
It was an exceedingly cold night as Oiai walked down the street, drawing her coat tighter around her, wishing once more that the weather had been more pleasant and accommodating for the get-together. But luck was not on their side, as this winter had been far colder then normal.
Humans could adapt to the cold, but it was much harder for her kind to do so.
Drawing her coat closer about her, Oiai hurried on, her legs moving quickly across the pavement.
At last, the lights of the bar appeared, bright and warm within the cold winter night. The door, while large, was still small enough that she had to squeeze all her legs together to fit through. But once she was through, a gust of warm air flowed over her, and she felt warm enough to take off her coat.
After putting the coat on a nearby rack, she walked towards the back of the bar, passing dozens of other driders, and the humans walking about. There was a festive mood in the air, with both species seeking refuge from the cold, and finding it in their drinks, the food, and the company of each other.
Reaching a booth in the back, she sat down. There were several faces in the bar that Oiai recognized: Co-workers, neighbors, but there was one in particular that she didn’t see.
A large tarantula came up. “Evening Oiai.”
Oiai smiled. “Good evening Wangh.”
“What’ll it be?”
“Nothing at the moment. I’ll order once my date gets here.”
Wangh smiled. “Trying your luck again, eh? Who with?”
“A human. Goes by the name Jack.”
“I don’t know of any human by that name.”
“Not surprised. This is his first time coming here.”
Wangh nodded. “Well, I hope it goes well for the two of you.”
“I hope so. He’s very shy about all this. Took me a few months just to encourage him to come out here.”
“Ah, just be yourself, and he’ll do fine. Now, just wave when you want some drinks, and I’ll be back.”
Legs scuttling, Wangh headed back towards the counter, leaving Oiai to wait, and ponder how this was going to go. Though this was a good, logical place to meet someone for the first time, she wondered if perhaps another location would have been better. Someplace with more warmth, perhaps a family restaurant. There weren’t any drunks here, but if something got out of hand, it could potentially ruin the entire evening.
Considering how much this meant to her, she didn’t want to risk screwing it up.
The human sized door opened, and a man walked inside. He was of average height and build, carrying a suitcase and wearing a dark green coat…the same attire Jack said he would be wearing upon arriving.
Oiai looked over in surprise. So this was Jack…a bit smaller then she had imagined. He looked nervous too, peering around anxiously, no doubt feeling out of place among all the locals.
Standing slightly, Oiai waved her hand. Jack saw it, quickly headed over. Like Oiai, he was also surprised at seeing her for the first time in person. Both had seen photos of each other over the internet, but had never met face to face.
“So…Jack, I presume?” Oiai asked.
Jack nodded. “Yep. The one and only.”
Oiai extended her hand. “Well, nice to meet you in person at last!”
Jack shook, then took a seat. “So…you know this place?” he asked.
“Oh yes. Come here frequently after work,” Oiai assured him, sensing that he more nervous then she had intended. Perhaps she was bigger then he had imagined. Or perhaps it was because she was a black widow spider, which, from what she had read, were among the most poisonous spiders to humans.
Or perhaps it was just the fact that actually seeing her face to face was something unnerving.
“Well, what would you like to drink?” she asked, wanting to break the ice. “Water? Tea? Something else?”
“Oh, water will be just fine, thanks,”
Oiai signaled to Wangh, who came over, took their order, and went to have it made.
“So…this your first time?” Oiai asked.
“At a bar like this? Yeah…never been in a mixed bar before.”
He looked around. While there were many humans in the bar, there were far more driders, of all species and types.
“A little, yeah,” Jack said. “Being…I mean, just having so many different…uh…your kind around is a little unnerving.”
“How so?” Oiai asked, curious.
Jack blushed, nervous. “Oh, just uh…childhood fear of spiders, you know? I mean, nothing against you personally or anything…I just remember back before your kind showed up, when the biggest spider was just the size of a dinner plate.”
“That would be unnerving,” Oiai said.
Wangh came over, dropped off their drinks.
“So, you’ve never been in a relationship with others of my kind before?”
“Well, not really.”
“And what are your first impressions?”
Jack looked her over, trying to figure out a tactful way to reply.
“Well…you’re a bit older then your picture let on. And you’re a bit…bigger. Not that you’re fat or anything.”
The poor human wasn’t having a good time, Oiai could see that. She had made a critical error, she saw that now. A mixed bar wasn’t the best place to visit; the atmosphere was just too informal. They should have gone to that family themed restaurant, where things would have been more structured and friendly. Here, he was taking in too many things at once. She had to try and diffuse the tension, and get him out of here before his personal comfort level bottomed out.
“If you want Jack,” she said. “We could go somewhere else, where you’re more comfortable.”
“Oh no, no, that’s okay,” Jack said. “I mean…I expected to be a bit nervous, meeting you for the first time and all…it’s just that…well, and it’s just weird to see the face behind the username. I mean, I shouldn’t feel that way. How long have we been at this, now? Five years online?”
“Six, yeah. I just didn’t expect to feel this nervous.”
“If this is your first time, that’s to be expected,” Oiai assured him. “You’ll warm up to it.”
“I hope so.”
Oiai smiled. “You will.”
Taking his drink, Jack sipped it. “Oh yeah, I don’t doubt that. It’ll just take time, I suppose.”
* * *
The rest of the evening went by quickly enough for Oiai. After the initial introductions (and a drink or two), Jack seemed to relax slightly as he and Oiai talked about themselves, wanting to learn about each other a little more. Years of online chatting had allowed them to know quite a bit, but it felt like the right thing to do, to try and warm up to each other.
Oiai took everything well. Jack was what she hoped he would be, but at the same time, she could tell that this was a big thing for him…actually going and meeting someone in the possibility of starting a relationship that went beyond just casual talking. She remembered that feeling well, long back when she had started dating in her youth. Years had put her at ease, and allowed her to be more confident, but a newcomer would face difficulties, especially someone like Jack, who, while in his late thirties, was still young by Drider reckoning.
When their drinks and meals were finished, the time came to take their leave.
“So, how far is your place?” Jack asked, putting his coat back on.
“Not far. Just a few minutes.”
“Good. I’m not all that up for romping through the snow.”
“Neither am I,” Oiai said. “My species does not do well in cold climates.”
“Really? Then why did you move here?”
“It was all I could afford,” Oiai said, rising from the booth, stretching her legs.
“Yeah, I guess that would do it.”
They left the bar and headed out into the cold streets. Though the night was still young, there weren’t many beings on the streets. Both drider and human alike were seeking shelter from the cold, which gave Oiai and Jack the run of the streets.
“Well, lead the way,” Jack said.
Oiai started to walk down the street, but Jack lugged behind, trying to carry his suitcase.
“Would you like me to take that?” Oiai asked.
“Oh, that would be nice,” Jack said. “But this thing weighs a ton.”
To a human maybe, but not to a drider. Lifting the case, Oiai moved it to her abdomen, where she quickly spun silk around it, binding it to her skin, which would free up her hands on the trip. Jack watched, fascinated by the process.
“Well, that’s one way to move your things around,” he said, impressed.
Once they got going, it was a quick trip to Oiai’s apartment. It normally would have taken longer, but with the snowfall temporarily stopping, it allowed Oiai to go faster then she would have, otherwise. When they arrived, Oiai led them to her apartment, unlocked the door, and let them inside.
The apartment, while large by human standards, was average sized by her own standards. The difference in appliances and décor was certainly there, for aside from a single couch, there was no furniture. There was a refrigerator, as well as a TV and a bathroom, but to Jack, it seemed slightly barren.
“Well, come in and make yourself at home,” Oiai said.
“Like a fly into the web?” Jack joked.
“Oh, you could say something like that,” Oiai said. “But my kind doesn’t eat yours.”
“Believe me, I’m glad.”
Oiai closed the door, barring entrance to the cold air. Normally she would have proposed getting something to eat, perhaps a drink or two, but with the late hour, it was clear that sleep was the more pressing issue, especially with Jack being tired from his trip.
“Well, let’s figure out where you’re going to sleep,” she said. With Drider dwellings normally not designed with the idea of humans living in them, there were no beds, so either she would have to make a hammock, or Jack would need to sleep on the couch, which could double as a bed, should the need arise.
“You can sleep on the couch,” Oiai said. “Or if you want, I could create a hammock for you.”
“The couch should work,” Jack said as Oiai removed the suitcase from her chest, putting it down. Jack opened it, pulled out a few blankets he had taken with him. “There we go,” he said, spreading them out. “This should work fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“Oh yes,” Jack said, sitting on the couch. “It’s nice. Really!”
Oiai had the feeling that he was humoring her, but if he didn’t want to push the issue, then she wouldn’t press him. “Okay. If you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask,” Oiai said. She started to her room, yawning. “There’s some food and drinks in the refrigerator, if you get hungry during the night.” She yawned again, chuckling. “I’m sorry. It’s been a long day. Normally I don’t yawn this much.”
“Oh, no problem,” Jack said. “I understand. It’s been a long day for me as well.”
Smiling, Oiai opened the door to her room. “Sleep well Jack. I hope your first impressions of all this aren’t too bad.”
“Oh, they aren’t,” Jack assured her. “All in all, it’s actually really nice.”
Oiai smiled. “I’m glad.”
Leaving Jack to himself, Oiai headed into her chamber, where she quickly spun a web across the walls, creating a hammock for herself. Climbing into it, she turned off the lights, and lay still, pondering the events of the day, especially with Jack. For a fist date, things hadn’t gone as well as she had hoped, but then again, it hadn’t been a disaster. Hopefully, with some time and effort, she could help ease Jack into something more comfortable for him, personally.
As she drifted off to sleep, she hoped it would happen. She already liked him.
* * *
Being a drider, Oiai had the advantage of being able to hear very well, even while asleep. So later that night, she heard the door being opened. Instantly waking up, she peered out into the darkness of her room, hunting instincts keeping her still and focused, waiting to pounce.
Jack, dressed in his pajamas, walked inside, trying to be quiet.
“Jack? Is something wrong?”
Like a deer caught in the headlights, Jack froze. “Oh, did I wake you?” he whispered.
“No,” Oiai lied. She didn’t feel like hurting his feelings.
“Well…I don’t want to sound greedy or anything, but the couch just isn’t working out. Do you happen to have anything else?”
Oiai thought for a moment. Never having had a human in her apartment before, she hadn’t planned sleeping arrangements for humans. She would have to improvise.
Lowering herself from her web, she went to the living room, looked it over. A plan came to her; simple really, but effective. Going to a corner, she began to move across it, spinning a web hammock.
Off to the side, Jack watched, both intrigued and slightly nervous.
When Oiai was finished, the hammock hung in place, thick and ready for an occupant. “There,” she said. “I hope that will work.”
Jack walked over, placed his hand on the webbing, testing it out. It was firm, yet spongy, with a stickiness that required a strong yank to pull his arm free. “Do you know if it’s washable?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” Oiai said, puzzled. “Why?”
“I don’t know if the strands would get out of my clothes.”
That was a problem Oiai hadn’t thought of. But even as she tried to come up with a solution, it was Jack who solved the problem, taking his blankets and laying them on the hammock, creating a few layers between himself and the silk.
“There we go…that ought to do it.”
Getting into the hammock, he sat on the blankets. The hammock swayed slightly, easily supporting his weight.
“Looks like it’ll work.”
“Very good,” Oiai said, pleased to see that Jack was fast on his feet, so to speak, when it came to solving a problem. Such a trait was to be admired and treasured. “If you need something, don’t hesitate to wake me.”
Jack nodded. “Hopefully I won’t have to. I feel really guilty about waking you up as it is.”
Oiai shook her head. “It’s not a problem. Really.” True, she was sleepy from having been woken up, but she was serious about not minding. And seeing Jack nervous like this was disheartening. There was no need for him to get so worked up over something simple and easily fixable.
Nodding once again, Jack lay down on the blankets. “Well, good night.”
“Good night Jack. Sleep well.”
Turning, and leaving Jack to settle down, Oiai walked out of the living room, and back to her own web, where she climbed back up, lay down, and quickly fell asleep once more.
* * *
When the light softly woke Oiai, she opened her eyes to find that it was quite late; the clock reading two hours later then when she normally woke up. Confused, she looked closer, saw that she had forgotten to set her alarm. But as she peered out the window, she saw that the weather had played a part as well: The snow was still coming down hard, and had almost buried the apartment complex, and the surrounding buildings.
Realizing that the cold must have made her sleep later then normal, she quickly got out of her web, realizing that Jack might have woken up hours ago, and wouldn’t know what to do, since she had slept for so long.
Heading into the living room, she peered around. “Jack?”
But Jack didn’t answer. He was still asleep, lying in his web hammock. But the cold had gotten to him as well, for he had the blankets wrapped tightly around him; but in doing so, he had spun himself around in the hammock, getting caught in it, like a fly trapped in a web.
The sight was amusing to Oiai, especially considering that Jack had no idea of what he had gotten himself into.
As if sensing Oiai’s presence, he blinked, waking up. Yawning, he tried to move. “Oiai? What time is it?”
“Late, Oiai said. “You overslept.”
He tried to stretch, but found that his movement was restricted. Quickly looking around, he saw that the web hammock had been wrapped around him, trapping him inside his blankets.
“I think you got cold,” Oiai said, grinning. “So you tried to get warmer.”
“Oh,” he said, struggling against the web, but having no luck in freeing himself. “Uhm…could you help?”
Amused, Oiai walked over. “Of course,”
Taking the web, she quickly undid it, freeing Jack, who hopped out and landed on the floor, only to start shivering as he was exposed to the sudden cold. Grabbing hold of the blankets, Oiai pulled them off the web, but found that there was a sticky residue left over that would be very difficult to remove.
“Oh dear, looks like you’ll have to wash them,” she said.
Jack took the blankets, looked them over, shivered some more. “You have any other blankets?”
“I’m afraid I don’t. It’s usually not cold enough here to warrant them. But I do have some hot chocolate…would that work?”
Jack smiled. “Oh yeah.”
* * *
A hot breakfast did wonders to warm both of them up, flooding their bodies with the hot chocolate, acting as a potent wake up call. But even with it flowing through them, the bitter cold still crept inside the home.
“Wonder how long this storm is going to go on,” Jack said, peering out through a window, gawking at seeing how high the snowfall was.
“It was scheduled to go on for a while,” Oiai said. “But I don’t think they were expecting it to be this cold.”
“Oh great,” Jack said, shivering. “I don’t think that museum trip will still be up, right?”
Oiai shook her head. “I was hoping the storm would be gone by then.”
Sipping another cup of hot chocolate to try and warm herself, Oiai went to another window and peered outside. It appeared that they were surrounded on all sides by the cold, which would make getting around difficult, if not almost impossible.
“Why don’t we head out and get some more supplies?” Jack suggested. “We’ll need more food, and extra blankets as well. I’ve got some extra money…do you know where the closest store is?”
Oiai thought for a few moments; she was low on food, and if the weather was going to get colder and colder, they could use some blankets to help keep the cold at bay. “About three blocks from here,” she said. “But…”
Oiai hesitated. “Well, my kind aren’t as versatile as humans when it comes to cold weather. Spiders are not normally cold weather creates.”
“So you’re saying…that you can’t go out?”
Oiai nodded. “I could, but in this snow, it would be very difficult…we’re just not built to handle cold weather.”
That was new to Jack, for he hadn’t expected such a simple thing as snow to be deadly to Oiai and her kind. But if that was the case, there was one course of action he could take.
“Well, looks like I’ll have to head out myself.”
“In this weather?”
“I’ve still got a good set of clothes. That should keep me warm.” Going to his suitcase, he opened it, pulled out said clothes.
“Jack? Those are jeans and a light jacket.”
“Yeah,” Jack said, going around the corner and changing. “But it’s all I’ve got.”
“They won’t do much to keep you warm.”
“I know. But in this cold, we need all the warmth we can get; blankets, food, and otherwise. Besides, if it’s only three blocks, I won’t be long.”
But Oiai wasn’t having any of it. “I don’t like this.”
“Neither do I. But if we don’t have food, or a way to keep warm, then we don’t have much of a choice, especially if this storm keeps going.”
Oiai didn’t want him to go out, but she couldn’t argue with his logic either…her stockpiles of food were small, and they needed more, especially if they were going to stay for a few more days without having to go out.
Pulling on his sweater, Jack went to the door and opened it, slipping out into the snow, a blast of frigid air coming inside. “I’ll be back as soon as I can,” he said.
“Be careful,” Oiai said.
He gave her a reassuring nod. “I will.”
Then, closing the door, he was gone.
* * *
For the next hour, Oiai stayed in her living room, anxiously waiting for Jack’s return. She tried to keep herself occupied, watching television, focusing on the weather reports, which were predicting that the snow would go on for another week or so, advising everyone to stay indoors, especially driders, warning that to go outside meant risking death, for it was cold enough to kill an exposed drider within half an hour.
Such a warning was not reassuring to Oiai. Normally, a trip to the store would have taken maybe ten minutes. With Jack being gone as long as he had been, she couldn’t help but fear that something had gone wrong. What made it worse was knowing that she wouldn’t last long at all if she had to go out and find Jack.
Another ten minutes passed, and it finally sunk in that something had definitely gone wrong. She couldn’t sit around any longer and just hope that Jack would find his way back.
She was going for the phone to call 911 when there was a banging at the door. Dropping the phone, Oiai ran over and peered through the view slit, saw Jack standing outside, holding two bags worth of groceries, food, and blankets.
Quickly closing the slit, she unlocked the door and swung it open. “Jack!”
“Hey t...t…there,” he said, teeth chattering madly. “I m…m…m…made it.” He stumbled inside, shivering furiously, dropping the bags. “Got enoug…g…g…gh f…f…f…food to last us a while.”
“You’re freezing!” Oiai said. And it was true, for Jack’s clothes were soaking wet, chilling him. “We have to get you out of those clothes.”
“B…b…but I don’t have anything else,” he stammered.
“Then we’ll just have to make do,” Oiai said, yanking his sweater off.
“H…hey,” he protested.
“No protests,” she said. “This is an emergency.”
With the sweater off, she grabbed his shirt and jacket, pulling them off as well. Then came the pants, until Jack was standing naked, shivering furiously. He was so cold, he didn’t even notice his nudity.
“What on earth happened?” Oiai asked, trying to figure out how Jack could have gotten so cold, so quickly.
Jack thought hard, trying to remember. “F…fell in the snow.”
Looking Jack over, Oiai tried to figure out what to do. Heading off to the hospital in this weather was suicide for both of them. With no other change of clothes, Jack would have to go naked, and Oiai wouldn’t survive heading to the hospital in this weather. Yet if they stayed where they were and did nothing, Jack wouldn’t survive.
Oiai thought furiously, trying to come up with something, anything, that she could do to try and warm him up, and fast.
After a moment, a thought came to her. It was crazy, even drastic, but if she pulled it off, it would work.
“Come on,” she said, pushing Jack slightly. “Let’s go in here.”
Jack didn’t answer as he followed Oiai into her room. There, she extended her claws ever so slightly and cut away at Jack’s pants and underwear, having them fall to the ground. She hated to destroy his clothes, but they could be replaced. He could not.
“Now, over here.”
Getting up on her web, she reached down and took Jack, picking him up. Holding him tightly, she angled her spinnerets towards him.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Making sure you don’t freeze.” Then, privately, she thought, “Oh please, let this work.”
Spinnerets twitching, Oiai started to twist Jack around. A few strands of silk stuck to his foot, working their way up as she angled him, twisting him around and around. Within a few moments, the silk was winding its way around his ankles, then legs.
All the while, Oiai focused, letting some of her more animalistic instincts guide her as she wrapped the silk around Jack faster and faster, seeking to cover his entire body, so that little of it would be exposed to the cold air. The faster she wrapped him up, the faster he would be warmed up.
When his legs were complete, she moved to wrap up his torso, then once that was done, she shifted him upside down, moving to do his arms. And while she did them, Jack fumbled, resisting somewhat, the cold making him delirious. But Oiai ignored it, easily continuing in her work.
Once Jack’s entire body was wrapped up to his chin, she looked him over, making sure the silk was tight and firm. Satisfied that it was, she pressed his legs together, then started to wrap once more, this time going around both legs at once, seeking to bind them together, figuring that putting his limbs so closely together would help to consolidate warmth, and thus help him out faster.
“Hey, stop that,” Jack groaned.
With his legs wrapped up, she then took his arms, and pressed them to his side, then quickly strung them in place.
“Stop struggling,” she said. “We need to get you warm.”
“But I am.”
“You think you are. Now just relax. I’m doing this to help you.”
Jack didn’t respond, but looked down, half interested as Oiai wrapped his arms and torso once more, binding them together. Then she wrapped silk over his shoulders, and around the neck, making sure it wasn’t too tight, so as to not restrict his breathing.
With one two layers of silk complete, she did three more, to ensure that Jack was cocooned as tightly as possible, and to insulate him against the cold as best she could.
“Hey,” Jack mumbled. “I…I can’t move.”
“I know,” Oiai said, holding him still while she went to work on his head, remembering that humans lost most of their body heat via their heads. Thus, it needed to be kept warm as well.
Several layers of silk went around Jack’s head and hair, until only his face was left uncovered. She would have covered his mouth and nose, so as to try and keep him warm there, but decided against it. Having never wrapped a human before, she didn’t want to chance cutting off his airflow.
Even with a lack of practice, Jack’s cocooning was impressive. Tightly wrapped and restrained, his limbs were indistinguishable underneath their silk coverings, with only a vague human shape left. Normally, being in such a state would have panicked any creature, fearing that they were to become dinner, but Jack didn’t seem to mind. Then again, he was delirious enough he didn’t seem to notice.
“I can’t move,” he muttered, wiggling.
“I know,” Oiai said, holding him up, looking him over once again. “Now, let’s put you to bed. You need the rest.”
Jack didn’t resist as Oiai carried him towards the web hammock. But when she was about to put him in it, she stopped. Jack needed all the warmth he could get, for while the wrappings would trap the heat his body gave off, he would be helped more by an external source of warmth.
She could be that warmth.
Turning away from the hammock, Oiai went to her room. Her web was starting to break down slightly, for her webbing were not meant to last longer then overnight. Quickly tearing it down, she gently put Jack on the floor and started to make a new web.
From his spot on the floor, Jack watched her work, not saying a word, still delirious.
When the web was complete, Oiai went down and picked up Jack, then climbed into the new web, which she lay him on, then quickly lashed a few thick strands of silk around Jack, restraining him to the web, ensuring that he couldn’t fall off.
The effect of being so tightly wrapped and immobilized seemed to have an intoxicating effect on Jack, for his eyes closed, and he went limp, relaxing in his cocoon, no longer struggling. In moments, he fell into an exhaustion-induced slumber.
Looking down on him, Oiai ran her hands over his cocoon, feeling for any indications of warmth. There was some, but it was very faint, and weak.
Lying down on the web, she brought her body close to his, legs going around him, along with her arms, clutching him tightly.
Asleep, Jack squirmed, instinctively trying to get closer to her, and her warmth.
Oiai smiled, relieved that Jack seemed to be okay; but she was also amused, if not slightly touched by such a simple, instinctive gesture.
She wondered…if he was awake, would he do the same?
But then again, such questions could wait. Right now, all that mattered was warming him up.
Clutching the human close, Oiai held him, lying in the hammock, willing her own warmth to him.
* * *
The day passed without incident. Oiai remained in the web, not moving once, keeping Jack close to her the entire time. Being part spider, she still possessed the incredible patience that all spiders had, content to be still and wait. Only she wasn’t waiting for food; she was waiting, and hoping, for Jack to recover.
It was late afternoon when Jack began to stir. It was slow at first, with a few flicks of his eyelids, the feeling of his arms flexing under the wrappings, trying to stretch. Then he blinked, and opened his eyes.
“Still with us?” Oiai asked, glad to see him alert.
Jack groaned, trying to look around. “Where am I?”
“In my room. What’s the last thing you remember?”
Jack thought. “I was at your front door…and I was so cold. I…I don’t remember anything after that.”
“I’m not surprised. You were pretty delirious.”
Trying to move, Jack found that he couldn’t. Confused, he looked down, and was surprised to find his entire body wrapped up. Shocked, he started to struggle, instinctively trying to get free.
“Hey, hey,” Oiai said, stroking him, squeezing her legs tighter around him. “Its okay, it’s okay. You’re safe.”
“Then why am I-”
“Wrapped up? You had soaked your clothes, and didn’t have anything else to wear. I had to wrap you up to keep you warm.”
Knowing why he was wrapped up was enough to make Jack stop struggling, but Oiai could tell he was still uncomfortable about the situation.
“Sorry if I startled you. It’s just that I-”
“So, I’m…uh…naked?” he asked.
“Well, yes. I had to get you out of your wet clothes.”
Cheeks turning red, Jack was silent. For a few more minutes, Jack was still before saying, “You…saw me naked?”
“If it’s any assurance, you’re not the first.”
Trying to make him more comfortable, Oiai squeezed him again, holding him close. Jack didn’t resist, but Oiai couldn’t tell if it was having the desired effect.
“So…uhh…you going to let me out?”
Oiai thought about it, but decided that he wasn’t warm enough. That…and he did look cute all wrapped up; to let him out just yet would seem a little…premature, and she wanted to watch him for a bit longer.
“Not just yet,” she said. “Want to make sure you’re nice and toasty before I let you out. Besides, you don’t want to walk around naked, I assume?”
Jack thought, and nodded, agreeing with her.
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone about this,” Oiai said. “It’ll be our little secret, so to speak. Now, let’s go get something to eat. Some food will help warm you up.”
Uncurling herself, Oiai got onto the ground, where she took Jack’s cocoon and carried him, like a mother carrying a newborn. Walking into the kitchen, she spun a few threads to tie him to her chest, then opened the cupboards, pulling out all the food, then going to the groceries Jack had brought back, searching for anything that would warm him up.
All the while, Jack could do nothing but look up at her, and watch as she prepared the food.
When it was all ready, they went over to the web hammock that Oiai had spun the day before, and got on it, Oiai placing Jack down, and tying a few more strands around his cocoon, securing him in place. Then, taking the food, she started to spoon it into his mouth. The fact that he was eating was a good sign, and the color was already coming back to his face.
“If I didn’t know any better,” he said between bites. “I’d say this was some kind of flirty dinner date.”
“A somewhat awkward one,” Oiai admitted. “Though, if you want, we could make it one.”
“Well, we are technically on a date…but...”
“Well, the situation is just a little…awkward.”
The answer was disheartening, but Oiai had been expecting it. Many years of dating, relationships, and hunting for the right individual had led her into many awkward moments, either through her own fault, or her partner, which made the sting a little less potent. “Well, if you don’t want to take things any further, I’ll respect that.”
Jack nodded, then yawned, trying to stretch, but the silk wrapped around him prevented him from doing so.
“You feeling any better?”
“A little toasty, actually. All that food must be stoking my fires, so to speak.”
“Well then, I think we can let you out.”
Leaning over, Oiai started to undo the silk, easily cutting through the cocoon. Within a minute, Jack was free, where he eagerly got out and stretched, enjoying being able to move his limbs again. Then he remembered that hew as naked, and his hands instinctively shot down to cover his groin.
“Uhh…I think I can use some of those blankets you have.”
* * *
As the day came to an end, the snow continued to fall, but the temperature leveled out, and stopped plunging. To try and warm the house up, Oiai brought out some of her old candles, and she and Jack lit them up, giving the house a warm glow that cut through the darkness as night fell.
After dinner was finished, the news came on, but it offered no respite from the cold outside.
“…and the forecast predicts another three days of snow and cold,” the announcer said. “All members of the Drider community are urged to remain indoors except in the cases of an extreme emergency. Humans are advised to wear cold weather gear when going outside. Hopefully, the storm will be gone by the end of the week, with air travel resuming on Friday.”
“I’m afraid it looks like we’re not going anywhere,” Oiai said.
Jack shrugged. “Well, better to stay here and not get frozen to death. Believe me, I know.”
Oiai nodded, understanding perfectly.
“Well, I guess that leaves the question of what we’re going to do. Only so many different ways you can play cards, or watch TV without getting bored.”
“Well…I do know several things we could try out.”
“Oh? Like what?”
“Well, I have had a lot of experience with other dates,” she said. “Learning some…tricks and all sorts of interesting play positions.”
Jack looked like he was mildly interested, but Oiai had met enough men, women, and other driders to recognize that look. He was interested, but trying to hide it.
“Anything you want to try?” she asked.
“What, you mean it?”
“Oh yes. I’ve seen many things in my time. Probably nothing you say would shock me at this point.”
Those seemed to be the magic words, for started to think; his eyes betraying what his face was trying to hide. And for Oiai, it was a great thing to watch, for she was wondering what he would say, what secrets would emerge.
Like a flower slowly opening before the sun, Jack started to talk. “Well…I know this may sound weird and all, but…well, I actually did enjoy how you…uh…” he started to blush. “Wrapped me up.”
Oiai smiled. “You’d like to experience it again?”
An embarrassed smile crossed Jack’s face as he gave a very small nod.
Oiai offered her hand. “I’d be glad to.”
Still shy, but slowly warming up, Jack took her hand. “You’ve had other dates who like it?”
“Actually, no. You’re the first.”
“Yes…no one else has said they enjoyed being wrapped up. So in some ways, this is an honor.”
“Who knows?” Jack said. “Make we could see how long I can stay wrapped up. Not like we’re going anywhere.”
Oiai nodded. It sounded like they were going to be in the apartment for a while…but that would give them plenty of time to get to know each other. And perhaps, if Jack kept warming up to engaging in playtime, then it would make their relationship even more interesting.
One thing was for certain, though. He was a keeper. And Oiai had no intention of letting him go, if she could keep him.
“I suppose this storm does have a positive side, after all,” she said.
“Now, would you like to be naked, or clothed?”
Jack thought, hesitated, then shrugged. “Oh what the heck. You’ve already seen me naked anyway.”
* * *
Outside, the storm continued to come down, burying the city beneath a blanket of white and cold. But inside Oiai’s apartment, she and Jack didn’t care. For they had the warmth of each other for company.
And among the cold, with silk, and wrappings, and each other…it was all they needed.