Willful. She knew of Faerie but expected a straight answer. Airn’s grin widened. “Apologies, m’lady, for the misunderstanding.”
Even though he apologized his grin and obvious amusement at the whole thing made her think the exact opposite of him. She doubted that he was sorry at all. Amanda brought in a deep breath of air before she looked away from him for the first time since they started talking. She took in her immediate surroundings, anyone else there, and looked for anything that looked familiar.
A moment more and then she looked back at Airn. She hugged the cloth that had been wrapped around her shoulders tight, brushing wet hair out her face. “Am I guessing right that your belief in thinking you can take what ever you want, is going to completely ignore my desire to go home?”
"Dad. I did some research and as it turns out.. I'm actually... Mom's and... Toma's.." (Aphrodite)
“as in my brother Toma!! i guess it makes alot of sense but how, when did your mom meet my brother, i had a gut feeling you weren’t my daughter by blood but I had no idea my feeling was right……….. either way I don’t care in the end I raised you as my own so to me your still my daughter even if we airn’t blood related, Ryuzaki must of been drunk when it happened then”
When Airn had rescued the creature now
named Jeska, the fuzzy stubby clumsy thing had been the length of his
arm and the weight of a Fomoiri toddler and seemed to grow by the
day. The voyage back to Mag Mell had been a joyous one. Airn kept the
wobbly cub confined to his cabin and Jeska seemed pleased with this
domain. Having been snatched from a vast and lonely place, he warmed
instantly to this cozy space and the strange tall un-fuzzy thing
who’d picked him up and carried him away. He ate twice as much as the
largest sailor, and bounded around the captain’s cabin and across his
bed, snuggling up at night, playing ambush with the captain’s boots
at all hours.
Though the voyage was a long one, the
step between a secluded but noisy place and an open, larger space
seemed too big to jump for the cub. Jeska’s mischievous antics
withdrew into flat ears and low body posture. Even his fur seemed
duller, no more shimmering in the light. He dodged hands reaching out
for pets and at any opportunity—meaning when Airn hadn’t picked him
up—he’d bolt and hide under beds and other furniture, making
strange trilling noises that escalated in pitch when anyone bent down
to peek at him.
It took many weeks but eventually,
after long hours of tempting with food and soft noises, and then even
longer hours of sitting very still and letting the oversized kitten
creep out of hiding to investigate on his own, Airn found a sort of
balance with his newest pet and the household followed suit. It
wasn’t long before the oversized housecat was back to playing ambush,
this time with people’s feet as they walked past tables or around
piles of cushions.
And by Balor did he grow. Yet even when
his shoulders were at level with Airn’s knee, he still moved like a
newborn: waddling around, wavering unsteadily, falling, occasionally
picking up too much speed on the manor’s marble floors and skidding,
sliding, yelping into a wall.
Airn bought and scattered a lot of rugs
after bringing Jeska home.
Though they’d made leaps and bounds in
progress, the little thing hadn’t quite worked out yet when Airn
would like alone time with whomever was moaning in his bed. More than
once he’d had the lust startled right out of him when a sixty-pound
kitten landed on his back or his feet.
But he loved the little orphan
creature. Immediately, on sight, and then with increasing intensity
as Jeska slowly but surely made himself a fixture in the household.
The worried soft trilling noises turned to pleased chuffing and
headbutts, along with a fair few rumbling purrs when stroking hands
hit the right rhythm. He gnawed on those hands as well, but never to
draw blood. Still, his jaws were strong and even Airn had bruises.
When his coat began to shine again,
Airn brought the cub to the beach.
Thankfully only children were brave
enough to approach as they seemed to not startle Jeska as much as
adults. Probably something to do with being closer to him in size,
though the little ones could definitely still ride him if he’d allow
it. Or maybe Jeska simply recognized other cubs. Either way, he
stayed still for the awed coos and only yowled a little when his tail
was pulled. He even gave second chances to ear-yanking hands eager to
touch the shining soft coat and the little fuzz-covered horns and the
strange feathered plumage under his chin. Gone was the skittish
kitten, no longer withdrawn and small but preening and pouncing,
headbutting small backs for more attention, rolling around on the
sand, batting large paws at his new friends with claws retracted.
The water, he seemed less excited for.
They played tag and retreat with the
surf for nearly an hour, Airn jogging alongside him and laughing
every time the cub startled and bounded back away from the froth.
Every single time. The children thought it a hysterical game at
first, but eventually grew bored and wandered off.
Jeska was too fascinated, too far into
play-ambush to follow them. He tried a more cautious approach,
lowering onto his belly, wiggling forward as though he could sneak up
on the sea. As though he stalked through vegetation instead of
dragging a trench over sand. Airn laughed at this as well, though he
laid down right beside him, pulling his own weight forward on his
elbows and knees. This strategy, too, ended in a yelp and panicked
Laughing the words, Airn pushed to his
knees and remained there, unaffected by the next wave that crashed up
against his back and frothed around him. Jeska blinked, suspicious,
bounced on his back paws, and made that anxious agitated trilling
noise as he hadn’t for weeks. Airn beckoned at him, whistled and
cajoled. Jeska lowered his head to his front paws, haunches raised in
the air and wiggling with every lash of his tail. He made a sound
like whining, pounced forward, and then scattered back again.
Airn chuckled, and on the next wave
splashed some of the sea up at the stubborn cat. Jeska yowled and
hissed, bolting back further. Fur and feathers puffed to make him
larger, and he made a new kind of clicking sound. A brief spark of
cyan blue sparkled along the swirling stripes on his coat. Airn
laughed harder, but shook his head.
“It’s just water, baby. There’s
nothing to fear, I swear it.”
He stood from the sea, trekking up
toward his cowering pet and dropped to a squat a good dozen feet
away, respectful of the wariness in every shivering line of the cub’s
“Just like the baths, only bigger.
Saltier. You like the bath, aye? C'mere.”
He held out his arms and waited until
his legs began to ache, calling on the patience that had him sleeping
on marble floors not so long ago on the off chance a sleek junglecat
kitten would creep out of hiding to investigate. Strange. He never
waited for anything in life but the affection of those he loved.
Jeska eventually crawled toward him,
sniffed and licked at the saltwater on his fingers, then butted his
head against his knee with a short vibrating purr. Airn scooped the
cub up carefully, crooning and shushing as he turned back for the
The cub made the same trilling noise in
his chest cavity that Airn was fairly sure now was meant to be some
sort of threat gesture. Maybe when he got bigger, it’d be scarier,
but now it just made him sound pitiful and scared. Airn stroked over
the gleaming coat and kissed his nose.
“You know this whole place is
surrounded by water. You can’t get away from it.”
Jeska looked back into his eyes with a
strange intelligence that made Airn pause with just his feet in the
surf. For a moment they studied each other, baby and adult, divided
by species but joined as orphans. Abandoned by the world until
someone thought it worth their time to pick them up. Then Jeska
craned his neck to look at the water below him and yowled pitifully.
Airn laughed. “I’ll not take no for
an answer. Come on. We’ll go slow. I’ll be right with you.”
And they did, Airn walking into the
waves with an easy, lazy stride. Jeska climbing him for higher and
higher ground with a similar easiness and the occasional warning snap
at higher waves. But when the water lapped at Airn’s shoulders and
Jeska’s paws and the grip of tiny claws on his head proved
problematic, the pirate lord carefully pried his pet off and slipped
him into the water.
Jeska whined like he had at the
beginning, paddling frantically, trying in vain to climb back atop
Airn’s head where the sea couldn’t get him. Airn easily maneuvered
just out of range, but did not leave him alone.
“There, see? It’s not so bad.”
He could’ve sworn the cub actually
absorbed his words and considered them. Jeska’s ears pricked up,
outmatching his baby horns in terms of height, and he paddled around
in a curious circle. Briefly startled by his half-submerged tail, he
nearly chomped on it to Airn’s delight. The attempt still got him a
nose- and mouthful of saltwater and he sneezed mightily.
“Here, Jeska. Look at me.”
The kitten did, after a moment and a
few more whistles and circles in the water, still in the process of
learning his name. Airn took a deep obvious breath and ducked under
the water. Above him, he saw deftly paddling paws the size of his
palm and a swishing tail and then—a snout and eyes peering down at
him. Bubbles erupted from the kitten’s mouth and the face disappeared
above again. Airn came up laughing, grabbing his pet and heading for
shore as the poor thing coughed and sneezed.
When they reached shallows again where
Jeska could touch land, Airn expected another bolting retreat inland.
But the cub only bounded away a bit, shook himself violently, blinked
at his rescuer, sneezed again, and ran back toward the surf. The
charge was sloppy and he stumbled and faceplanted into the water and
Airn almost choked on a snort, falling back onto wet sand to laugh
from his gut. He could hear Jeska splashing and sneezing and making
that clicking noise at the water. Sitting up a bit he watched the big
kitten bat his big clumsy paw at the seafoam like it were a bad
They spent the rest of the day there,
at the edge of the beautiful ocean, darting in for longer and longer
stretches of time before bolting back out. The children returned at
some point, overjoyed when Jeska chased them along the tideline,
splashing through pools and kicking up sand. The day passed quick and
eventually happy exhaustion and hunger drove Airn from the beach. He
called for Jeska, but the kitten hesitated, blinking at him.
“Come on.” Airn jerked his head
with a click of his tongue. “What? Now you don’t want to leave?”
Jeska looked between him and the gentle
sea, the lapping waves, the light of sunset bathing the water bronze.
Most of the children had gone. Jeska tried a few more playful bounds,
looking back at Airn hopefully. The pirate laughed.
“We’ll come back tomorrow, how’s
Again, that strange flicker of
understanding and consideration in purple eyes. The cub performed one
more back-and-forth glance, then seemed to decide his friend was more
important than the fun of the water and trotted to follow. Airn bent
to scritch behind his horns, smiling at the rumbling low trill that
edged his fingers like a purr.