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“It was getting old,” he says, and takes another bite of bamboo salad, “seeing the same faces, you know? I mean, studding was fun, flying all over the world, but there’s like… ten females out there. They’re not all centerfolds. And half of them are my cousins!”

June’s still staring. “When–how…? They just let you go?”

“Had to, once I learned to talk,” he laughs.

“That’s amazing.” She’s following again the pattern of white on his cheeks, the way it draws her back to those beautiful black eyes…

Ling-Ling smiles, and puts his paw on her hand.

It feels nice.