It was a small room. It could charitably be described as “cozy,” though the furniture was a bit sparse for that; there was a smallish set of shelves and an end table, both rather simple in style, the latter sitting beside an armchair that was really the room’s only point of comfort. On the other side of the chair was a small metal rack, with a few cables running over to the wall under a cover strip and diverging from there to different receptacles.

The red panda lowered himself into the chair with some trepidation. It was hardly the first time Alex had been in here; it was just that what he was about to do went so much farther than anything he previously had.

He leaned over the rack to flip a switch on the little box that rested there, snagging a cable that ran from it as he sat back up and settled himself.

Well, the only way to see how well this worked was to try it, right?

He worked the loose end of the cable into the elaborately-covered socket inset into his left wrist, shifted it to lie flat, and pulled a stiff-sleeved fingerless glove over the whole thing to keep it in place. One more tap to the jack’s flattened back, and new elements slid onto his vision. Nothing unfamiliar to him – just the computer going through its POST and starting up. All was well so far. He pulled on his mirrored glasses and leaned back.

All he’d done in the past had treated his visual cortex as a computer screen – just a flat projection like anyone else’s display, save that stereo vision was that much more convenient for the few things that had the option. So it was with some hesitation that he pulled up a new program and set it to full immersion.

There was a sense of vertigo. Then he was floating, surrounded by empty blackness save for a circle of white a few feet below him.

That impression of a floor was enough to avert total agoraphobia for him, but he made a mental note to suggest a different experience to the designer.

The scan they’d made of him had given him an avatar that was a good match for himself. Embarrassingly good, considering said avatar wasn’t wearing anything – to be fair, he had opted for “full detail,” but he hadn’t consciously realized that was one of the details the scan would cover. Two, arguably three of the details, rather.

After a few false starts, he managed to visualize a towel around himself. From there, shorts were easier; then a nice suit, sharp and crisp, with a tie tied on better than he’d ever managed. And unlike a real tie, it didn’t chafe around his neck.

On the other hand, why get fancy? The nice clothes dissolved into voxels and dissipated. What, after all, was the Internet for?

Mere minutes of searching turned up something with promise.

Alex was hardly a stranger to sex, or to porn. But this… this wasn’t just seeing someone else stroke off or get it on. This was a digital companion, complete in every delicious detail – literally, the clean, masculine, distinctive taste of cock was shockingly real – stroking him here, kissing him there, wrapping arms around him and – he whimpered, squirming – sliding into him.

Five scant minutes later, panting, he blanked the display, lifted his glasses, and gazed ruefully at the wet splotch on his slacks.

That, he had to concede, was a pretty successful first run.