Torshael and Tayne's Story: Between Missions

Chapter Twenty-One

Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight


"So where's your friend?" Fluniarlii chirped as she swallowed the last of her first meal.

"Dunno," Tayne admitted, scanning the remainder of the audience. He'd been among the last to bond, and already most of them were gone. He didn't see the now-familiar violet-streaked brown hair anywhere. "Must be waiting outside."

"Well, come on, then!" the hatchling demanded cheerfully. "I wanna meet him!"

Tayne chuckled, pushing himself back to his feet again; he'd been on his stomach while Fluniarlii-- there had to be a way to shorten that-- ate, having merely snatched a plate away for her, since feeding her directly would have required hands. "Don't scare him too badly, all right?"

"We'll see," she said deviously, then turned hopeful, blue eyes on him. "Carry me?"

"No, I'm going to make you negotiate those huge stairs all by yourself," he snorted, and she snapped at him playfully with her little beak. "Come on, climb up into my mane, then." She nodded enthusiastically at him and clambered up his shoulder and onto his shoulders. She was so little! "Hold on, this is going to be a quick ride."

"Go fast's you like, I'll be fine!"

He didn't entirely trust that, but once she dug her hind claws into his feathers, making him wince, and tucked her forepaws under the armoring of his wings, he felt a little better about the leaping stride he took to get back up the lengthy staircase. She laughed the whole way, whooping at particularly long jumps, quite as if she was enjoying herself to the hilt. Well, he could tell she was... Torshael had told him about the closeness of a bond before, but he'd never been sure how much was due to the closer soul-bond he shared with Haiiro and how much was more normal. He heartily hoped he wouldn't start nodding off whenever Fluniarlii did!

At the top of the stairs he paused to get his bearings-- and give one more look around for Tekas, which turned up nothing-- before trotting out into the hallway. Sure enough, there he was, leaning against the wall by the airlock leading out of the ship, and he lifted a hand to wave as they came into view. Tayne, grinning, waved a wing, back, and padded over to meet him. "Hey, Tekas. This's Flu... uh... Flun... damn."

"Fluniarlii," the hatchling said-- surprisingly haughtily. Tayne rather wished he could see her, but she had her paws on the top of his head, and no matter how he rolled his eyes around, he couldn't even see the tip of her beak.

"Yeah, that. Look, can we just call you Lii for short?"

Tekas actually flinched-- just a little, a tiny bit, and hidden quickly, but definitely a flinch-- and said hesitantly, "Nice to meet you."

"And you," Fluniarlii-- Lii, since she made no protest-- said sedately. "I've heard a bit about you from Tayne, already." Since he really hadn't said much of anything except his friend Tekasynos was staying with him-- and not to scare him too badly, which it looked like she was going to, dammit-- Tayne opened his mouth to protest. She kept talking over him, though. "Apparently," she said with careful deliberateness, "you're sexy."

Tayne was startled into a laugh. "I said no such thing!"

Tekas just rolled his eyes with a sigh. "Wonderful."

"Aw, I was just playin' witcha!" Lii promised, wriggling into Tayne's mane and, he guessed, grinning hopefully at Tekas. "C'mon, don't tell me you didn't see it comin'! But I'll be nice, really!"

"You'll be a brat, is what you'll be, I can tell already," Tayne mock-growled.

"Well, maybe sometimes," Lii admitted readily. "But I'll try to be nice, how's that?"

Tekas didn't say a word, and there was a moment of awkwardness between the three of them. Tayne knew he shouldn't have hoped that Lii and Tekasynos would hit it off, or at least been amiable, or at least not weird with each other... he really shouldn't have, especially with Tekas's obvious discomfort with children. He'd even considered the possibility that they wouldn't get along, which had been one of his worries about bonding in general. But somehow, with an easy-going, teasing, jovial bond... he had hoped, if only for a few minutes.

Well, there wasn't much to be done about it. Tayne tried not to make his sigh too obvious before he broke the moment of silence. "C'mon, how about we head back to the hotel? Lii could use a bath, I think."

"And your mane probably could, too," Lii quipped, shifting from one side to another. "I guess I'm still kind of sticky!"

As they left the ship, she added, "What's this about a hotel, though? I thought you lived with him?" She pointed one stubby wing at Tekas. "When do we get to see that?"

"Well," Tayne explained, "we've been staying at the hotel while we waited for the hatching. We can go back... pretty much whenever. Today, if we want, tomorrow if you want to see the station a bit. The reservation will automatically extend another day if we don't check out, and, well, I think I have enough funds left to cover it...."

"Well, if we've got a home, let's see it, then!" Lii suggested.

"Tekas?" Tayne asked, looking for an opinion as he looked up at him-- sending Lii sliding back onto his shoulders again-- and hoping that he hadn't just gone and ruined everything. It was his house, after all.... They'd made it to the elevator again, and he opened one wing to brush at the infernal with the feathers hopefully.

"Hmmm?" Tekas looked blankly down at him a moment before registering the conversation. "Oh, whenever you want to leave here is fine, Tayne.... Though to be honest, I think I'd rather leave sooner instead of later...."

"A quick shower for Lii, and a few minutes to collect our things, and we'll be gone, then," Tayne nodded. Maybe getting Lii settled in at the house would help things get more comfortable... he hoped, anyway.

::He'll come around,:: Lii's voice came inside his head, the first time she'd bothered with silent communication so far. Her mind-voice sounded even deeper than her voice aloud-- which was already fairly low for a child-- like she was already grown up a little more inside even though her body still had to catch up. ::You'll see! Don't worry about it.::

::Just don't tease him too hard. It took him weeks to get used to it from me.::

::I know, I know. He's just shy. I told you: I'll be nice.::

::I'll hold you to that,:: Tayne told her, and her snort told him that she thought his comment completely unnecessary.

Lii splashed around happily in the shower, liberally soaking Tayne-- "Hey, your mane did need it!"-- so that he finally left her to her own devices and helped Tekas get them all packed. When Lii came out, all clean and damp and particularly fluffy, and saw him in human form, she had to poke fun at how he managed to keep his "mane" even shifted before settling into an attempt to help that really only managed to get her in the way. Particularly in Tekas's way, which Tayne didn't really think was helping matters, but she refused to listen to him when he suggested she just wait for them to finish.

At least, after checkout and a teleport to the tele-circle in Shu'Riin nearest the house, she kept her beak shut when it came to teasing. Well, figuratively shut, since it was wide open as she stared around at the sights of the City of the Sun. And she seemed properly happy about the house itself, though she couldn't resist giving Irithin a small taste of her "this is what whites aren't!" act, which, to her disappointment, didn't seem to rattle him much. She also was properly pleased and grateful that they'd planned a room for her. "I sure can't share with you two!" she'd laughed, making no bones about the fact that she was quite aware what went on there, though at the same time making it quite clear that she had no problems with it, either. She even shooed them off with a wink to Tayne, to let her "settle in" and them... "unpack". Tayne, torn between laughter and embarrassment, went, following Tekas back to the master bedroom with their things slung over one shoulder.

As soon as they were out of earshot of Lii, Tekas seemed to slump a little with a sigh. "Smart-mouthed little thing, isn't she...."

"What did you expect?" Tayne asked with a small smile, trying not to sound too apologetic. A little apologetic, but not a lot.... "She's bonded to me, isn't she?"

"I didn't think you'd match so well," Tekas smirked faintly.

"I just figure smart-mouthed is better than some other things she could've been-- like really like a Favored." He chuckled in spite of himself. "She's somehow got it in her little head that she's going to prove everyone wrong with what 'white' is supposed to be like...."

"She really ought to just target that at your kin-- not everyone has such preconceptions. But yes... I suppose it could be worse."

"Hey," Tayne smiled. "She's a baby, give her some time to figure herself and other people out. Until then...." He dropped their things onto the bed and made an attempt at getting an arm around Tekas's waist to pull him close. "Think of it this way: there's no way in the world anything you do or say could disturb, upset, or otherwise bother her, so you, at least, don't have to worry about her."

"I still say that 'baby' has a smart mouth, Tayne," Tekas repeated, but at least he came over without protest.

"And I'm agreeing with you. But she doesn't mean any harm, especially not to you." Tayne wrapped both arms around him with a little sigh. "She knows better than that. Just be patient-- give her a little while to figure out what works and what doesn't, hmm?"


Tekas tucked his head into Tayne's shoulder without really answering, but at least he hadn't pulled away. Tayne kissed his hair fondly. "It'll be all right," he promised softly.

"I know... sorry...."

"What'd I say about apologizing for being you?" Tayne said with a smile, ducking his own head enough to nuzzle into Tekas's neck.

"Mmm...." Tekas started to purr softly. "Not to...."

"Well, then." He brushed back a few lose strands of hair with his nose so he could kiss there, instead. "Don't. Everything'll be just fine."

Tayne figured he had Tekas properly distracted from Lii and her smart mouth when all he got in reply was a vague, "Mmmhmm...." It was an imperfect and temporary solution: he expected he was right in that it would take time and patience, and probably a lot more discomfort on everyone's part. But, he figured as he found Tekas's mouth instead, even imperfect and temporary solutions could be fun....


Chapter Twenty-Two

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