The Ring of Fire: Stories of the Residents
Atisa's Story, Chapter Three
"Morning!" a cheerful and entirely too awake voice chirped from the doorway.
It took a minute for either dragoness to respond. Jesmin managed it first. "Mph?" she mumbled, lifting her head sleepily and pulling her eyes half-open, as far as they would go so early in the morning.
"I said, good morning!" the source of the voice repeated happily, coming closer.
That got Atisa to respond, too. "S'too early," she complained, voice slurred, and she turned over to bury her head under the pillow. It was particularly easy to do, as she was in human form and the pillow was plenty large enough for even Jesmin's long muzzle. The two of them had been sharing a bed ever since they'd brought home little Rudae a month ago, so that he could have his own room in the suite, without them having to move into a new set of dens.
"But I made you breakfast!" Rudae said, sounding disappointed. "It'll get cold if you don't eat it."
"Breakfast?" Jesmin repeated, shaking her head in an attempt to clear the fog of sleep from it. She couldn't actually see anything of Rudae except the sparse plume of his tail and the trailing edge of one wing, because the rest of him was blocked from view by a large tray, piled with plates, glasses, silverware, and even a bowl.
Atisa pulled her head back out. "You made us breakfast?" she asked sleepily, but she sounded touched, too.
"Uh-huh," Rudae answered, and reared up carefully to push the tray onto the bed next to his mother, where there was more room. How he managed to figure out where there was room, neither one had any idea, since there wasn't any way to see around the huge tray to see where he was going, much less where he was putting anything. Maybe one of his many abilities had helped, or something.
"That's sweet, Rudae," Atisa said, smiling and sitting up, yawning hugely before examining what their proud pup had brought them. Jesmin mimicked her, quite involuntarily and with a much more impressive show of teeth, before doing the same.
To their distress, nothing looked entirely... edible. The strips of bacon were so charred they seemed to be crumbling-- Jesmin didn't even like her bacon crispy. The toast was soggy with butter and jam and obviously cold as, if it had been sitting in its plate while everything else had cooked. The muffins were home-made and, aside from being completely lopsided which wouldn't affect the taste at all, had bits of eggshell sticking out of them in odd places. The porridge looked the best, about the right color and with sugar spiraled carefully around the surface, but from the scent of it, it wasn't actually oats and cream, but was from some weird mixture of wood chips and stale wheat grains.
And there was Rudae, looking hopeful and expectant and utterly pleased with himself, waiting for them to dig in. Atisa and Jesmin exchanged a dismayed glance, which Rudae, hardly unobservant, caught. His face fell. "You... don't like it?"
"No one said that," Atisa said hurriedly, and, steeling herself, went for the most edible-looking piece of the meal, the toast. Jesmin, not about to be outdone, went for the bacon. They both choked it down with an attempt at a happy expression, but Rudae saw through it. Neither one of them had ever claimed to be good at acting....
"You don't like it," he said, obviously disappointed.
"It's okay," he hurriedly said, though his voice was a little thick. "I-- didn't really expect you to. I'm sorry I woke you up."
Before Atisa could untangle herself from the covers, or Jesmin could untangle herself from around Atisa without gouging her with something, he'd scampered out of the room.
Jesmin cursed under her breath-- Atisa whapped her lightly for the dirty language. "Well, it is!" she protested.
"Of course it is, but if you keep saying it, Rudae will pick it up!" Atisa countered, finally getting free of the bed and hurrying after her son.
She cornered him in his bedroom-- she'd passed the extremely messy kitchen en route, and dreaded having to clean it up-- and peered in through the curtain they'd installed as a makeshift door until they got around to getting him a real one. Jesmin had never really cared about a door, but they expected her son would. "Rudae?" There was a sniffling noise, and Atisa came inside. There he was, buried under a blanket on his bed, probably crying. He wasn't a terribly sensitive pup, just shy, but disappointing his mothers-- he treated Jesmin much like a mother, when Atisa wasn't available, too-- was understandably upsetting.
She settled on the bed next to him. "Rudae, it was really a sweet thought for you to make us breakfast," she told him gently. "I love that you thought of it."
"But you didn't like it," he sniffed, one eye visible from under the lump of blanket.
"Well, you've never cooked anything before," she said reasonably, determined not to lie-- it had been entirely unpalatable. If she encouraged him to keep fumbling along like that, there would be a lot of disappointments, wasted food, and early-morning angst. "Of course your first try wouldn't be perfect."
"But I wanted it to be...."
"Of course you did, sweetheart," she soothed, putting a wing around the blanket-lump. "And you did your best, right?"
"I did," he said earnestly. "I had fun, too...."
Atisa thought quickly. Rudae liked to cook-- or he'd enjoyed making a mess in the kitchen with a goal in mind, at least-- but he had no idea how to do it. Atisa could do simple things, but she wasn't much of a teacher; she'd probably just confuse him. Jesmin had trouble holding ingredients, much less mixing them and dealing with kitchen appliances like the stove. That left....
"What if I ask Uncle Arlen to teach you how to cook?" she asked.
That got his whole head poked out. "Uncle Arlen?" Rudae repeated, sounding a little awed. Rudae looked up to Arlen, though was a little nervous with him-- she'd always thought it was the creepy factor, but perhaps, Atisa wondered, it was because he was intimidated. Arlen was an excellent cook. "Do-- do you think he would?"
"Of course he would," she smiled down at him. And she knew he would; Arlen adored his nephew, and if he knew Rudae shared his passion for food, he would probably be ecstatic. "We'll ask him tonight, how's that?"
"That--" Rudae looked momentarily speechless, then he beamed. "I'll be a really, really good student if he says yes, I promise!"
Atisa grinned. "I know you will. Now, come on, let's see about showing you where we keep the real oatmeal. Or at least cleaning up the kitchen."
Rudae blushed under the tan of his scaly skin, but since he came with her anyway, it seemed like he'd do just fine.
Fantasa is the Creative Property of Silver Midnight