Torshael and Tayne's Story: Between Missions

Chapter Twenty-Four

Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight


This time, when Tayne knocked on her door, Fluniarlii let him in. She wasn't anywhere near crying anymore, and he had dealt with what he needed to deal with, which had been more important at the time. That didn't mean, though, that she didn't crawl up into his arms when he offered them too her. "M'sorry I made your boyfriend mad," she said in an undertone, having promised herself that she'd apologize, at least to her bond, no matter how uncomfortable it felt. Tayne just settled her in the crook of one arm with a sigh.

"It's just been a really long day," he said. "We ran into a Favored at lunch. He gave us both a really good scare--" she remembered that, having felt it and taken a little peek, enough to make sure there was no real trouble-- "but I don't think he's going to tell anyone about us.... No idea why, but he paid for our lunch and complimented me on my taste in men."

Lii cackled at that. "Maybe he's not as much of a stick as the rest of the species."

"Maybe.... I just don't know."

It didn't take them long to move on from mutual reassurance-- and should anyone ask, no, Lii didn't need the reassurance... she just liked it-- to actually wanting to do something, and it was Lii's suggestion that they make dinner. What she actually said was, "I want to make Tekas dinner to make up for making him mad. But I don't know how to cook, so you'll have to help."

"I'll have to do most of it," Tayne had chuckled at her, "but all right."

After a brief debate, they wound up putting together the best version of a pasta-casserole dish Tekas particularly liked that they could manage with the ingredients in the house. They had to shoo Irithin off when he tried to get involved, saying they'd handle the food that evening, and had a moment of confusion trying to figure out what they could substitute instead of the usual kind of cheese the casserole called for, but it was finally in the oven a little over an hour after they started. It would take a while to cook, but then, lunch hadn't been that long ago. For Tayne and Tekas, anyway. 

"So do you like cooking?" Tayne asked, scooping her up and depositing her on his shoulder.

Lii did her best to look indifferent, fluffing her back-ruff and looking at him with half-lidded eyes. "It was all right, I suppose."

"Too girly for you?" Tayne grinned at her, heading out of the kitchen.

"Uh," she said intelligently, trying to think of something to say that wasn't disparaging to cooking, since Tayne liked it, and he was blatantly not girly. But that was, she had to admit to herself, part of why she was reluctant to actually like it. Thankfully, distraction was at hand. "Oh." She opened one fledgling little wing to point towards the living room. Tayne stopped, followed her gaze, and spotted a familiar striped head on the couch, the rest of him all wrapped up in a blanket. Lii's tail swished indecisively, looking at him. He looked all... lost and alone and sad in there, by himself. 

::Can I...?:: she asked silently, and Tayne wordlessly set her down. She gave herself a little shake, then crept in and around the couch to Tekas's feet. He looked down at her as she rounded the corner, and she pulled up the corners of her mouth in a little smile. "Hey. Have a nice nap?"

" ... yes," he murmured, looking away from her again.

Lii shifted her forepaws a little nervously. "We're making you dinner," she said after a moment. "Tayne says it's something you like...."

"Thanks," Tekas said, just as quietly as before. Lii clicked her beak a little in the ensuing silence, trying to think of something to say, but before the silence got too awkward, the infernal shifted the blanket aside, sticking an arm out and patting the couch in invitation. " ... come here, Fluniarlii."

He didn't manage to mangle her name, like Tayne usually did. Ears perking up a little, she hopped up onto the couch-- very nearly not making it, her hind paws slipping before she managed to scramble the rest of the way up. She put off the embarrassed composure-grooming for later, though, since Tekas was doing the inviting and might change his mind if she promptly started preening her fur. She sat herself down against his blanket-bundled leg, and he reached over to stroke her head-fluff. She ducked a little in surprise-- he'd never willingly touched her before-- but quickly arched her neck until she met his fingers again. She was not going to offend her bond's boyfriend again. Well... not so soon, anyway. He didn't seem to notice, or at least didn't comment. 

"I'm sorry I got angry with you, Lii... you were right: you didn't know, and that's no excuse for me to get so upset."

Lii sort of agreed, but didn't think it would be politic to say so just then, and Tekasynos was going to be one of the few people she cared about being politic with. "I was just trying to know you better... I don't mean to make you all uncomfortable and stuff. It just kind of happens.... I'll, um, stay away from your stuff, now, though...."

"I know you were. And I don't mind what you were doing-- just-- that particular piece wasn't for anyone... and I didn't want anyone to see it." His voice dropped a little, sounding sad and hurt, as he added, "Especially you and Tayne...." He paused, looking at the floor, then continued, "I know you didn't mean any harm."

Lii rubbed her head against Tekas's hand again with a little purr. "I didn't mean to make you sad. I mean, it was a really great painting, I don't know why you'd want to hide it."

"I'll tell you some other time," Tekas promised.

Though she eyed him curiously for a moment, Lii twitched her wings in a shrug and said, "Well, all right, then."

" ... something wrong?" he asked, one brow up.

Lii gaped her beak in a grin at him. "No, but I'll hold you to that."

"Ah," Tekas nodded hesitantly, then wriggled a little further down into his blanket. Lii, expecting he wasn't likely to be moving anytime soon, hopped over onto his lap, circled around on the blanket covering it a couple times until she found a good spot, then dropped down to her belly and curled up.

::Mission accomplished!:: she sent cheerfully back to Tayne, who sent back the feel of a warm smile. And, peeking up at him with one eye, she added, ::And he's even smiling a bit!::

::I'm going to hatee to disturb you when dinner's ready.::

::Bah, you've got time. Come join us?::

::I don't want to interrupt.::

::You won't be, stupid! Come on, you know you want to! And I bet he'd want you to, too.::

Mutual oblivious wanting or not, there was a long moment before Lii caught the sound of his bare feet on the carpet coming up behind the couch, and she tried not to smile too smugly. "Mind if I sit with you, too?" her bond asked quietly.

Tekas smiled, again, looking back at him. "You know you're always welcome." Tayne smiled, back, running his fingers briefly through his hair, then came around to the other side of the couch to settle next to them, wrapping an arm around Tekas's shoulders while he put his head on Tayne's. Lii, flipping her tail over onto her bond's knee, purred happily in the midst of it all. For the first time, she actually felt like Tekas wasn't unhappy about her presence. Maybe she needed to make people angry more often to get them past uncomfortable-ness, or something. Or did that only work with some people? Well, it would be easy enough to find out. 

They shared the couch contentedly for a few minutes-- not nearly long enough for dinner to finish cooking, thankfully, though she knew Tayne was keeping a metaphysical eye on it, testing the heat of the oven from a distance and all that-- before someone moved. Tekas was the one to do it. He sighed softly and said, "I'm sorry for making such a mess of things."

"You and your apologies," Tayne chuckled quietly. "It's all right.... None of us have been perfect, here."

"Who would want to be?" Lii muttered.

"Neither of you deserved that, though. I still feel really horrible about it...."

Lii wriggled around until she lay on her back, belly up and hind paws in the air, and grinned gape-beaked at him again. "What's life without a little yelling now and then?" she told him. "Boring as dirt, that's what. And now you're all nice and comfortable with me. I'd say it's worth it."

Unsurprisingly, Tekas looked a little, well, surprised at her comment. He did smile a little, though, after a minute. "If you say so."

"I do," she nodded as seriously as she could, for being upside-down on someone's lap. Tayne chuckled at her.

"No harm done, I think," he assured Tekas, shifting enough to kiss his temple warmly. Tekas joined in the purring softly, and Lii felt the afternoon a success. Now dinner just had turn out well, and everything would be great!

By the time dinner was ready, so was Lii. She could only lay quietly and purr for so long before she started to get restless and wanted to start nipping or swatting at petting hands, and she didn't think that would go over well with Tekas, not now that he was actually relaxing some. So when Tayne sat up and announced, "We should probably get dinner out of the oven. It's been cooked enough, I think," Lii hopped readily off Tekas's lap and gave herself a vigorous shake.

"I'm bloody starving!" she commented, using one of Tekas's usual words-for-emphasis. Since she'd only barely had a nibble for lunch, she hoped there would be plenty of dinner for her!

"Language," Tayne said absently, a warning which she cheerfully ignored. He stood, too, arching up in a stretch before giving Tekas a kiss. "It'll be ready in a minute," he promised the infernal, who nodded. "All right, Lii, get in there and start getting things ready."

"Yes sir!" Lii laughed, bounding off.

The meal went over well, though Tekas didn't seem to think he deserved having one of his favorite meals served to him after yelling at people. At least it turned out nicely, and Lii got her "plenty"-- though even then, she couldn't put away as much as Tayne. Maybe someday! A chance tease about her table manners-- or lack thereof; though she wasn't messy, or anything, because preening was a pain, she didn't really care about niceties when all she wanted to do was stuff her face-- brought Tayne to thinking, and as they were finishing, he finally voiced his thoughts.

"I probably ought to take Lii home and introduce her to the family," he commented. "I've been putting it off."

"What? Think I'll embarrass you in front of the relations?" she snorted at him.

"I know you will, brat," Tayne laughed back at her.

Tekas chuckled, and added, "I think it'd be a good idea."

"At least ought to let everyone know I've bonded," Tayne nodded. "I doubt we'll stay very long, though. Even if Lii doesn't get us run out of the City-- which I think she's hoping for--" Lii tried to look innocent, and expected she'd completely failed, "she'll get bored awfully fast."

"You know where I'll be when you want to come back," Tekas smiled, though there was something a little off about it. A little sad, maybe, a little resigned.

Tayne, who had been getting up to collect the plates, paused by his chair to trace a few fingers over his cheek. "And you know I'll be impatient to get back," he told him quietly, smiling, himself, though with less of a shadow to it. Tekas smiled, back, still sadly but maybe not quite as much so, and tilted his head into the touch. 

"Me, too," Lii added before they could get too mushy. "You can only scandalize sticks-in-the-mud so many times before they get boring, and besides, when we get back Tayne can get his job!" She was really quite excited about that prospect, actually working with all the people they played with. Tayne warned her it would probably not be as exciting as she thought, but that wasn't enough to put her off the anticipation.

"Been looking into that, then?" Tekas asked with a real smile.

"Been discretely asking around as to how it's done," Tayne shrugged, going back to picking up dishes to take to the sink. "Haven't actually said that, that's what I want to do, but I expect a few of the knights have figured it out by now and just haven't said anything about it."

"I wouldn't be surprised," Tekas chuckled.

"Do you think they'll let me join, too?" Lii asked hopefully, bouncing a little on her seat.

"No idea. Most bonds do, but then, as far as I know, none of them are off-world phoenix-kittens," Tayne grinned at her.

"They'd better," Lii growled. "So when are we leaving?"

Tayne glanced at Tekas as if for his opinion, or approval, or something. "Is tomorrow too soon?"

"Not too soon, never too late," Tekas smiled, just a little. "I'll help you pack if you need to take anything."

"I'll probably spend the whole time on four feet, so there's probably not much I'll need...." Tayne looked thoughtful a moment, then shrugged and set about dish-washing. "Probably mostly supernal form, too..." he added, making a face. "People managed to overlook me, what with Torshael and Haiiro around, but if I'm going to be the main attraction for a couple days, I'll have to stay shifted. I hate that."

Tekas snuck around behind Tayne at the sink and set about rubbing his shoulders with both hands and some very busy thumbs. "If Lii is any indication of what the 'main attraction' is, I think your lion form will be the least of anyone's worries." Lii, grinning at the thought of being the "main attraction" but not about to interrupt the men, flopped onto her stomach on her raised seat, watching idly, as Tayne paused in his dishes to arch his back a little into his hands.

"Mmm, suppose you're right," he agreed, eyes half shut a moment before he shook his head and got back to work, albeit rather more slowly. "I might manage it more often. Heh, I probably should, honestly, or Lii'll wind up practically invisible, she's so small."

"Indeed," Tekas chuckled. "Need help with the dishes, then?"

"You just keep doing what you're doing, and let me worry about the dishes. High One, that feels good."

"Mmkay," Tekas said, and though Lii couldn't see his face, she could guess at the mischievous expression on his face. She had a feeling she was rapidly becoming superfluous, but that was all right with her. Grinning to herself, she slithered off the chair and headed for her room to leave the two of them alone for a while. Tayne always remembered to come tuck her in, so she could say good night then. Until then... well, they needed their alone time, and Lii could keep herself occupied. She had to plan out how best to prove to a City full of supernals just how little appearance meant, after all, and only tonight to do it in! 


Chapter Twenty-Five

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