The Ring of Fire: Stories of the Residents

Atisa's Story, Chapter Four


Jesmin slithered into the apartment, feeling oddly guilty and rather like she was being sneaky, in a bad way. It was mostly dark inside, and she expected Atisa had already tucked little Rudae into bed and settled in farther from the door to wait for her bond to get home.

You didn't do anything wrong, she scolded herself. It's perfectly normal! Other dragons do it all the time! Really, so do humans, in a different fashion! So stop creeping around like you did something bad!

She only half-believed it, because she was afraid Atisa would be unhappy with her, no matter how true those thoughts were.

::I'm home!:: she sent privately along the bond, so as not to wake the pup.

::Welcome back,:: Atisa sent back. Jesmin followed the "sound" to their bedroom, where her bond was curled up on the bed with a book. ::You were out late,:: she commented, though she didn't sound angry about it. ::Rudae missed you at bedtime.::

::Sorry about that,:: Jesmin answered, still a little guiltily, as she slid up to join her.

"It's okay," Atisa said aloud, closing her book and giving her muzzle a pat with one hand. "Did you have a good time?"

"Oh, yes," Jesmin sighed. "I wish I could visit Star City more often. It's so fun there. And so many pretty people...."

"Most of whom I'm sure you flirted with quite a bit."

"Well, of course!" Jesmin grinned at her more quiet bond. "Have to make sure they all know I appreciate their prettiness, and I've always got my eye open for The One, after all."

Atisa laughed at her softly and folded her under a wing. Jesmin curled up against her side. "I wonder if you'll just overlook The One in all your socializing, miss him entirely."

"Or her," Jesmin corrected, then sighed a little again. "No, I'm actually looking, don't worry."

"Why the sigh? Disappointed already?"

"Oh, no... just... thinking."

"Uh oh."

"Nothing that involves you this time," Jesmin told her smartly. "Well, not unless you really want it to...."

"Oh, Jesmin, what have you done now?"

Parenthood had, apparently, mellowed Atisa a bit, because her tone was fondly amused rather than suspicious. Jesmin wondered if it would stay that way after she told her what she'd done. "I've, um, signed up for a flight...."

"You signed up for-- what?"

Apparently not. Atisa stared at her like she'd grown a second head. "A flight." Jesmin wriggled guiltily again. "I couldn't resist. I met him in the club, and he was all proud and flirty and he's just so gorgeous, 'Tis. All fluffy with dark fur that just sparkled with red and amber in the light and oh, 'Tis, you should have seen him!" The guilt gave way to a long, appreciative sigh, remembering the beautiful dragon in every detail. She'd watched him quite a bit, after all, quite as if she'd tried to memorize his features. She'd managed to just about do that, too: she could remember perfectly every fall of fur, every twitch of wings, every swish of tail, every sideways glance, every pose....

Atisa sighed slowly, too, but it wasn't appreciative. "Jesmin...."

"You can sign up, too," Jesmin said hopefully. "If you want. I mean, there's still a spot left. It's on this weird sort of place, a big old space ship, but it's new to the Nexus, sort of, so it's kind of special... the virgin flight, I guess."

"I already have a son," Atisa told her. "And I've had my fill of flying strangers, at least for now."

Jesmin pouted a little. "I'll take my name back, if you really don't want me to...."

"I don't really mind," Atisa said, surprising her a little. "I just wish you'd told me first."

"I didn't want to miss out," Jesmin said in a small voice. "He's so popular, you know.... And there were only three spots left when I signed up, and it'd only been open, like, a really short time."

"Do I get to meet him?" Atisa asked, wearing half a smile, at least.

"If you think you can stand a nightclub," Jesmin laughed. "But if you and Rudae come with me to the ship it's at, you can meet him, there."

"I'd like that, if the ship isn't too dangerous." Atisa shot a glance in the direction of her little boy's room, and Jesmin, who didn't really know how dangerous the Twisted Fate was or wasn't, patted her paw reassuringly.

"We'll make sure Rudae's safe," she promised.

"We'd better," Atisa huffed softly, then put her head back down and doused the light with a word. "Now get some sleep, Jes... Rudae's bound to wake up early and want to know everything about where you were and where we're going, tomorrow, and you get to be the one to answer him."

"I'll just make sure to talk about the food," Jesmin giggled softly, but obediently shut her eyes. Maybe, if she was lucky, she'd dream about Katulinith....


The Twisted Fate

Chapter Three - Chapter Five



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