Cut and Run Chapter 13
When I was human, I was a builder. That is to say, I built homes for a living. My first experiences with it, were gained by helping out my Old Man on his construction job sites and at home. All the skills he taught me, have stood me in good stead ever since.
As a result of those skills, I seldom lacked for work. Personally, I’m of the opinion that was because I concentrated on giving all of my clients, the best performance in crafting that I could give them.
Often times, better.
But, it wasn’t always easy for me to do that. The main reason being that on occasion I’d get a client who was a Grump. He, or she, would often be on the building site micromanaging every single detail or decision I made. It could get damned aggravating.
Even so, I still managed to satisfy most of my customers. Well, eventually that is. Unfortunately, most of the Grumps were slow to approve of anything I did. I confess, that I was tempted on more than one occasion to walk away from a Grump-job. You know? Just cut my losses and run away. But I never did.
I feel that it takes fortitude to build a home. It requires a set of skills that don’t just suddenly evaporate. Instead, they get ingrained into you, (Har!). It’s sort of like riding a bike, or having sex. Even if you go years without doing it, you remember all of the skill sets you’ve got when the next opportunity arises for you to apply them.
Now, the first and most important thing to keep in mind, before a person gets started building a home is this: What is the home’s intended purpose?
You’d think that would be a no-brainer, right? Nuh-Uh. Homes, are different things to different people.
Take your average human dude- what does he want in a home? Easy, he wants a place in which he can store all of his toys, and snooze at. Essentially, he wants a ‘Man-Cave’.
Now take your average human woman. (Please!) What does she look for in a home? It’s simple. She wants a Nest. Why a nest you ask? Because, women want babies. Now where is the best possible spot to have babies in? Why a nest, of course.
But not just any old nest, nope. All too often, they get damnably picky about where they want their nest to be, what kind of nest they want, and what they ‘line’ those nests with.
Mamono are no different in that regard. Because they too want babies, and a nest to raise them in.
After they snag a guy, one of the first things a Mamono starts nosing around for, is a place to set up that nest. Just like human women, they can get pretty damned particular about their requirements for one.
Most Mamono, usually have that detail already taken care of prior. They tend to either move in with their Mama, an Aunt, or a Sister. Which is all fine and dandy for the old world of the Great Maou, before the Melding of her world and ours.
But for the Mamono in this brave new world, they seem to prefer to move in with the guy they’ve snagged. Who, is often dumbfounded to watch his precious ‘Man-cave’ being transformed into a nursery.
Now like I said before, as a builder I’d get the occasional client who was a Grump. I usually considered such folks to be an annoying, yet standard, part of the job. Eventually, I learned how to deal with them and still be polite, as their money was as good as everyone else’s.
A few years later, after I got my business going good and proper, I was given the opportunity to plumb new levels of my patience and diplomacy with a new and improved version of the Grump.
That, was when my wife and I began building our Dream-home (NEST!), together. Thankfully, she wasn’t pregnant at the time. But, even then she was a pill.
Here’s a word of warning for ya pal, don’t ever get me started talking about what she was like when she entered her ‘nesting phase’.
Now, we both know that Dragons have a well-deserved reputation for arrogance and high-mindedness, and that’s on a good day. Ok, hold onto that thought.
Now imagine a Dragon who is pregnant, and is nesting. Can you imagine what it would be like to have deal with one of them, during that time?
Well, I don’t have to imagine it. I get to live it. Every. Single. Day.
Oh yeah, the brooding chamber. It, is the core chamber for every Dragon cave/nest. Everything else, like the bedrooms, bathing areas, kitchen, etc, all revolve around and surround it. It’s the most difficult chamber to access, and yes that includes a Dragon’s gold-treasure chamber.
That gold, in addition to its use as a bedding, is also used as a distraction for any raiders. That’s because technically speaking, a Dragon’s child IS her greatest treasure!
Mine too. Like anyone else protecting their most precious assets, I would endure any amount of discomfort to insure their comfort.
“Lokhnarr! It’s too warm in here! Lower the temperature, idiot!” Frazziss yelled at me, again, from across the way. She did this as she sat with her legs crossed/tail wrapped, in the middle of the brooding chamber that I ‘built’ for her. She sits like that, because that’s the position she’ll be in when she’s brooding her eggs.
I didn’t see the need for her to yell at me like that. It was so unnecessary! Particularly since I designed and built this chamber to have superior acoustics. We would need to rely on that, once our whelps start chirping.
Oh, what’s that you ask?
Chirping is what still-in-the-egg baby Dragons do, to alert their parents that they’re preparing to break out of their shells. Naturally, Mommy and Daddy want to be there for that blessed event. Whelps breaking out of their shells is often referred to as: Shelling. It’s the Dragon equivalent of the human birth day.
“Yes Dear.”, I replied patiently with a roll of my eyes. It was the standard reply I’ve been making for the last few hours. After every command from Grumpy, I would then apply my Dragon-Mojo by Singing to the Brooding Chamber sands. This allowed me to adjust their radiant heat output, either up or down.
I found that the best song to make the sands warm is: ‘Little Birdhouse in Your Soul’ by They Might Be Giants. It also works great for the Glow-Crystals I have lighting up the place.
Temperature control. That’s another trick I recently managed to glean from the Dragon ‘Mold-Stone’ instruction manuals; Thanks be to Pirin and Lessa-book-bender. It’s one of the basics that are thankfully covered in just about every one of those manuals. Because, you know, Dragons LOVE their warm spots.
“Lokhnarr! Now, it’s too cold!” Frazziss yelled again, louder. I winced at the loudness of her shouting.
“Raise the temperature, idiot. Yes, dear.” I said thoughtlessly, out loud.
‘Uh-oh!’ I thought to myself, as I realized what I just did. Her head shot around as she glared at me with her eyes flaring red, which made for a nice contrast to the soft yellow light of the wall crystal.
‘Is that smoke coming out her nostrils?’ I observed, as she spread her wings up and out.
“WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY… SAy…Say…say?!” she demanded in an echoing roar, standing up indignantly. I couldn’t help it, I had to cover my scaly ears with my paws then, due to the echo effect of that chamber.
‘Oh crap!’ I groused to myself. ‘Quick Allen, think of something!’ My self-preservation instinct started to kick in.
“Uuuuhhhmmm. Raise the temperature, period! Yes, dear.” I tossed out, panting with just a hint of fear.
“Doing so, now.” I smiled sweetly. She continued to glare at me for several seconds more, then she settled herself back down, wrapping her wings and tail around herself.
‘She bought it! Oh, Thank Maou!’ I silently said to myself in relief.
Looking up and over her, I can spy Pirin looking back at me from the far end of the chamber, standing just outside the Bedroom archway.
She’s giving me a ‘thumbs-up’, and a pitying look.
Thankfully, it only takes another ten minutes for Frazziss to finally be satisfied with the chamber’s temperature settings.
‘For now, at least. Tomorrow, ah fuck it! I’ll deal with it then!’ I groused to myself.
Afterwards, I go outside and I decide to sit down on the edge of the cliff, outside the main cave entrance. It’s a nice view there, overlooking Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Towering stone cliffs overlooking a stretched out lake, and forested hills and mountains. Our house is set back a ways from a cliff’s edge. Not too high, not too low.
‘I’ll have to put in a fence of some sort.’ I decide, looking down over the edge. ‘Not that that would stop rambunctious fledglings.’
In addition to the view, the Sun is warm and I can feel a nice breeze coming in off of the water. When I sniff the wind, I can tell that its carrying the delicious scent of some salmon jumping somewhere.
It’s so very tempting to just lie down, spread my wings, and take a nap. But I can’t. There’s still too much to be done. Instead, I start running down a mental checklist.
After all, there’s a shit ton of details to keep track of when you’re building a Dragon Cave/Nest. As I discovered once I found the perfect set of ‘blueprints’ in the Dragon Library.
‘Cistern spot located and marked.’ I begin with a heartfelt sigh. ‘I’ll need to mark out the sewage reclamation area. Frisco folks won’t appreciate the thought of Dragons pissing in their drinking water.’
‘What song should I use for the water supply pipe?’ I mused. ‘Once in a Lifetime, by Talking Heads sounds right.’
‘Brooding chamber- check. Next, finish hollowing out the main bedroom. OH CRAP!. That’s right!’ I realized something I’d forgotten with an audible groan.
“I still have to go down to Merced, and order up some Sandstone at the Home Improver store!” I say aloud. ‘Damn! I’m already tired from busting my ass on this cave all damned day!’
As I say that, I can hear some claws clinking on the granite behind me. Glancing over, I see that its Pirin. I pat the ledge next to me to invite her to sit. She does.
“Hey Boss!” she says in her standard cheerful squeak as she settles herself down. I look over at her with a confused look.
“Boss? Why do you keep calling me that, Pirin?”
“It’s a habit I picked up when I was studying under a Spider-Mage.” She said nonchalantly.
“A Spider-Mage? Goodness, I’ve never heard of a Spider-Girl Majin before.” I replied, surprised.
“Well, she was one of a kind.” She huffed. “So, you’re thinking of going down to order up some Sandstone at Merced?” Pirin asked me with a smirk. “Sandstone for a bed, I assume?”
I nodded wearily.
“Well, would it be alright if I came along then?” she chirped sultrily. “Maybe I could help you ‘test-out’ some of those slabs?” She said as she placed a paw on one of my thighs.
“Didn’t we take care of that earlier today Pirin?” I teased, half-heartedly
“Yes, BUT!” she mock-pouted, “I’m still growing, I’ve got needs!” she glowered.
“Growing? I thought you said you were an adult?”
“I am an adult! It’s just that Dragonewts are always growing. We just…grow slower than Dragons like you.” She replied, looking up at me with a hopeful smile.
That’s something about Pirin. Ever since she came to live with Frazziss and I, she was even more demanding of sex than Frazziss ever was. I can’t recall how many times I’ve been woken up in the middle of the night by someone sucking me off. Four out of five times, it’s been Pirin. Even so, it never takes long for Frazziss to join in on the fun.
I have to admit though, it was rather enjoyable for me in more ways than one. My having two dicks, meant that I could get sucked off by BOTH Frazziss and Pirin at the same time. *Mental Fist Pump*
Which they did quite often. It also meant that they didn’t get into fights over who was going to ‘partake of my Essence’ when I finished.
What can I say? It’s a hard life. But someone’s got to do it, right?
“So, speaking of slower.” Pirin continued. “When did you actually stop adjusting the chamber’s temperature?” she asked me with a knowing grin. I sneaked a look over my shoulder at the Cave entrance. Looking back, I told her.
“About forty-minutes ago.” I whispered. She giggled.
“I heard that!” came the sound of Frazziss indignant voice issuing from somewhere within the cave behind us. My wings and shoulders sunk at the sound of her anger.
“Ah crap!” I replied, screwing up my face. Pirin gave me an apologetic frown as I got to my feet and went back into the cave. I knew better than to try and avoid my fate.
Luckily, Frazziss was in a forgiving mood.
“No Al…Lokhnarr. I won’t require you to continue changing the temperature today.” She said, as she laid her head onto my shoulder. One of her wings had managed to wrap itself nicely around me, as we both sat on the warm sands of the brooding chamber together.
‘Yay!’ I thought happily to myself.
“Lokhnarr, I’m sorry for being such a pain.” She began.
“That’s ok Frazziss, I’m used to it by now.” I snarked. She smacked me with her wing and gave me a half-hearted growl. We both laughed, and then we grew silent for a few minutes.
“No really, Allen.” she said suddenly. “I mean it. I’m sorry for being such a pain.” She said, looking up and over at me forlornly. I looked back at her with an equal amount of love.
“Am I being too much of a pain?” she asked suddenly, a tremulous look on her face.
‘Oh dear.’ I thought to myself. ‘She’s getting somber again, time to relieve her fears.’ I turned and faced her then.
“Are you being a pain?” I began, “Yes, you are.” I replied, honestly. Her tremulous look turned into one of outright fear.
“Hey, hey, hey! Enough of that!” I said. “As I recall, you told me when I first met that you HATED being lied to! That you preferred a painful truth over a comforting lie, remember?” I said, as I reached up and placed my hands on both sides of her face, to hold her gaze steady. I then locked her eyes with mine.
“You are MY woman Frazziss, and I will gladly bear any amount of pain to keep you at my side.” Her fearful look melted away, and she began to bite her lip. I then closed my eyes, and tilted my forehead to touch hers, she didn’t resist.
“I know you’re moody right now, this is because you’re brooding. That’s to be expected, since you’re gravid after all.” I went on. I could feel her start to quiver as she started to cry. I then shifted and took her into my arms. Once more she didn’t resist. We then placed our heads on each other’s shoulders, and I could feel her tears dripping down onto my back.
“I love you Frazziss, and I will never willingly leave you. Both you and OUR babies are far too precious for me to want to do that.” I said truthfully.
‘And I know that even in the here and now, you’re still scared that I’ll leave you like that Chum-bucket did all those years ago.’ I didn’t say aloud.
She clutched me tightly in response, almost as if she could hear my thoughts. We stayed like that for a long while. The two of us clutching each other desperately. She, clutching me in fear that I’d leave. Me, clutching her in fear that she’d be taken away.
It took a few more minutes, but eventually both of us were reassured enough to let the other go. After that, we stood up and discussed more matters concerning our Nest/Home.
“Uhhh, I was thinking of taking a flap into Merced. I wanted to do some price-checking on some sandstone slabs at the Home Improver Store.” I mentioned to her.
“Why sandstone?” Frazziss asked. “I thought that the granite slab worked fine.”
“Yes it does, BUT,” I began, “It’s also harder to make it maintain its heat output. And for some unknown reason, Dragon-Magic is not as effective at claw-proofing granite, like it does sandstone.”
“Ok,” she replied, “but can we afford it?” I looked away. When I looked back, she had folded her arms and was giving me: The Look.
“Lokhnarr.” She growled. “We can’t continue to keep charging things on the Pom Poko Credit Card!” she said sternly enough to draw her wings in tight.
“Yes, I know!” I whined. “But, it’ll be a lot easier to replace the bed here in the core of the cave right now, than it would be after I’ve put up a whole bunch of extra walls, rooms, and furniture.”
“Does it have to be done right now?” she asked.
“No, not for another month, at most.” I admitted. I noticed she opened her mouth.
“But it’d delay other work on the house proper, if I waited too long.” I added hastily. She closed her mouth and frowned while thinking. She then looked at me and smiled.
“Allen. What about Hoshi’s offer?” A chill went up my spine when she mentioned THAT.
“Oh c’mon Frazziss! You can’t be serious?” I replied, with a gulp.
“What’s wrong with you starring in a porn video Allen? Hoshi’s offer would cover a LOT of the house building expenses!” Frazziss pointed out.
Hoshi Sato was a Danuki Porn-vid producer, who just recently came to visit Frazziss and I with a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ deal. Yeah, just like every other deal a Danuki pitches.
“The idea of it just doesn’t sit well with me.” I replied, not looking at her.
“You know I used to strip to make ends meet.” She brought up. Somehow I managed to resist the urge to snark at THAT straight line.
“Yes, I know Frazziss, I’m not condemning you for it.” I returned. “But how many of your ‘clients’ also took videos of your performance?” She held my gaze.
“And if our friends saw those vids that they made, how many of them would know it’s you?”
“Not a lot would. Fewer would probably even care.”
“Yeah, exactly, you are beautiful Frazziss. BUT, your beauty is….well,…common place now.” She got a pinched expression on her face, and I could see that her eyes were starting to turn a slight shade of angry red.
“What is THAT supposed to mean?” she asked me in dangerous voice, as she started to spread her wings.
‘In for a penny, in for a pound.’ I braced myself with the thought.
“It means how many male Dragons are out there?” I shot back, her wings stopped flaring.
“We both know the answer: One.” I answered for her as I nodded. “You know what? Even in the here and now, most folks don’t believe that there really is a Male Dragon flapping around.” I said as I sat down onto the bedroom’s granite slab.
“I’ve checked the internet. A Male Dragon is still being talked about on the bulletin boards, as just another Mamono Cryptid. A Rumor!” I huffed.
“You know that the last time I went to the Dragon Realm, to return some of Lessa’s library books? I STILL got gawped at! I was STILL drawing crowds of curious on-lookers. Most of whom wanted physical proof that I was indeed a Male.” I half-smiled as I sighed. Frazziss smiled ruefully back. She sat down next to me and I reached out a paw, she took it.
“But if I go public, like I would with a porn? You know what’s gonna happen beyond us getting a nice chunk of change?” I asked.
“And residuals.” She mentioned. I rolled my eyes.
“Yeah, and residuals.” I sighed, echoing her in a tone that was an octave lower than her voice.
“What kind of residuals?” I asked, distracted from the point I was trying to make.
“Gold residuals.” She whispered. That brought me up short.
“Wait, what? You didn’t mention that part before.”
“She didn’t mention it before. She included that offer last night, as an extra incentive for me to try and convince you.”
“How much more are we talking about here?” I asked. Frazziss quoted a number, I whistled in response.
“Damn.” I replied, humbly. “She must really want this.”
“Yes, she does Allen. Yes, she does.” Frazziss replied, putting a paw on my shoulder. I was silent for a while. She then leaned over and whispered into a scaly ear.
“Gold.” She said quietly. Yet, for some reason, it thundered loudly in my brain. “We’d also get Gold, Allen. Enough to start an honest hoard, as opposed to those flakes we’ve filtered out of those Goldschlagger bottles. My mouth began to water at the thought.
Yet, somehow my remaining human values managed to override my newer Dragon Instincts.
“At what cost Frazziss?” I asked her, “I’ll tell you what cost: Our privacy.” I leaned forward and spread my hands/paws.
“We will lose our Privacy, Frazziss. Our anonymity. Are you willing to face that?”
“It could be good.” She said with a golden gleam in her eyes.
“Or it could destroy us.” I replied. “Celebrity has a way of doing that to folks.” I pointed out.
“Perhaps.” She replied. “But if I may point out Lokhnarr, we can’t afford things the way we’re going. Between your salary as a construction worker, and mine as a Park Ranger, what we both end up with is this: Not nearly as much as we’d need to set up a proper House. Let alone maintaining it, and keeping our children fed too.” I sighed deeply then, as I closed my eyes in frustration.
“Just think about it, Ok Allen?”
“All right, all right, I’ll take the time to think about it.” I replied, sighing heavily as if I had the weight of the world on my soul. Which, in a way I did. The future of the Dragon World, and my family’s.
So after that, Frazziss and I kissed and made out. Afterwards, she then left for our home in Yosemite Valley. Pirin and I left to go check out the Home Improver Store, promising to meet Frazziss later that evening. Thankfully, Pirin chose to keep quiet along the way into town, as I’d a lot on my mind to take in.
It wasn’t just the costs of building a home that weighed heavily on my mind, there was also the thought of Angelique. She was seldom far from my thoughts anymore.
‘She’s still out there, somewhere, and I have a promise to keep to her father: To bring her home. Here it is a month later, and there hasn’t been so much as a peep out of her anywhere.’ I mused.
As Mr. Poirier had predicted, the sound of his voice being broadcast at various predetermined spots- asking her to turn herself in, lead to nothing.
But, on a somewhat positive note, the Angelique task-force did listen to me when it came to my conclusion: that she was stalking me. They weren’t entirely convinced, but they were convinced enough to ask me for my undergarments.
Yeah, you read that right. They wanted my laundry. They provided me with some ‘Male-Dragon’ sized loin cloths that I would wear for a day, or so. After that, they took them and did something with them. What, I didn’t know, nor did I really ask to find out, for obvious reasons.
But, I suspected that they’ve been using them as scent-bait, somewhere. Pirin was tickled pink with that arrangement. As it meant that there were less clothes for her to wash.
And I have to admit, it was nice to get a new set of upscale loin-cloths. Instead of the usual one-size-fits-none hole for my tail; on the discount brand. These better ones all came with an adjustable Velcro tail-strap. Which is a nice change of pace I’ll tell you.
All of the standard loin cloths are designed for Mamono. That is to say, females. As one of the few adult-male Mamono with a tail, I can tell you that those tail-holes were small enough to constrict blood-flow in my rather larger than ‘normal’ tail. I’m not bragging or anything, just stating a fact.
As I was thinking that, flying along, I felt my ears pop. Which stirred me from my reverie. Looking about, I noticed a massive front of anvil-head clouds headed our way. A couple of flashes occurred in front of me when I did.
‘What the fuck? It’s supposed to be a sunny day, today!’ I thought in surprised dismay.
“Oh Crap!” I shouted aloud. Pirin was brought up short.
“What’s wrong Lokhnarr?” she asked from short distance away.
“Thunderstorms!” I said flapping, while pointing with a paw claw.
“Is that dangerous?” she asked, perplexed. The poor innocent was still used to living in the Dragon Realm, where the weather wasn’t out to kill you like most of the Human World still was.
“Yes it is, Pirin. It’s the danger of a lightning strike. Dragons are tough, yes. But even we can’t hold up to a Mega-amp of lightning! Dive!” I ordered, as I did. She followed.
“Can’t we go around it?” she yelled, as we plummeted towards the granite foothills.
“Nope!” I yelled back. “It’s too large! We need to find some cover!” I yelled again, searching the forest below. There was a flash of lightning to the west, and then the sound of thunder a few seconds later.
“Ah!” Pirin shouted fearfully. A quick glance told me that she was taken by surprise by the lightning and thunder.
She started to get close to me, almost too close at times. Thankfully, I quickly spotted a river that had been eating away at a hillside cliff, and there was an overhang there. We managed to get ourselves underneath, just as the rain started coming down hard.
Once we were under cover, we then went as far up the overhang as far from the river as we could manage. Pirin asked why, and I explained that Flash-Floods were an ever present danger. Demon-Realm or not, California was still new enough to be subject to a lot of old style weather phenomena.
“But why don’t we get under a tree instead?” she squeaked fearfully, shivering as the temperature began to drop.
“The danger of one of those trees being struck by lightning, prevents it.” I explained, watching her start to shake. I reached out and hugged her close to share what body heat I had. But I could tell that it wasn’t going to be enough.
‘Damn, she’s getting hypothermic fast.’ I observed, ‘I guess that’s one of the downsides of being a scantily dressed, petite quasi-reptile.’
‘We can’t make a fire. The smoke alone would attract lightning.’ I worried as I started to see my breath in the air.
Then I hit myself on the head.
“Duuuuh!” I said aloud, as I picked out a suitably sized rock. I placed it up against the back wall of the overhang, and then concentrated my Ki and started singing my Dragon Mojo, upon it.
Within a few seconds, that rock began to glow red with heat. I then let up on it, and monitored it for a few more seconds. Looking down into my arms, I noticed that Pirin was on the verge of falling into torpor, she was so cold.
Carefully, I positioned myself and my wings, in such a way that they reflected the heat from that red hot rock back onto her.
It took the better part of a half hour, but eventually she started to rouse.
“Lokh…narr…” she said weakly, looking up at me with half-closed eyes. “Thank….you.” I smiled down at her by way of reply. She snuggled into me.
Checking the ground close to, but not too close to the glow-rock, I could tell that she could be safely transferred next to it. All without the danger of her losing too much body heat. It was my intention to go and gather some leaves and such, to provide her some insulation.
As luck would have it, I noticed down by the streambed, a large patch of dried leaves from some old oak.
‘They’ll be just the ticket!’ I decided. Within a short amount of time, I had a double armful of them collected, and I proceeded to place them all underneath, and around Pirin. She was out of it, but still awake enough to appreciate my efforts with a contented smile.
‘Not quite enough.’ I decided, upon seeing my handiwork. I then went back down to the water’s edge to collect some more of them. When I bent over to pick some up, I noticed a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye. Looking over around the bend, I saw someone else who was taking cover under the overhang. It was hard to make out the details of this other person, obscured as they were by gloom of the torrential rain.
But, I could tell that she was a Mamono, a Were-cat, and she was thinner than a railroad rail. She looked up fearfully when I knocked over a rock I’d stepped on. Then our eyes met, and we gazed into each other eyes for a timeless moment.
‘Her eyes!’ I thought to myself. ‘I know those eyes!’ Then she spoke in a whisper.
“Allen?” she croaked. Then I knew her!
“Angelique.” I stated, as my mouth fell open in shock.
And right then, was when we were caught totally off guard by a flash flood surge.
One second I’m starting to step over towards her, and then I hear something out of the ordinary. An approaching roar. Looking upstream, I have just barely enough time to draw a breath in, before I’m overwhelmed by a massive wall of water.
The next second, I’m flailing around in a world of cold murky water. I struggle to find the surface, and I can’t find it! Somewhere, down in the morass of water, stones, and sand, I encounter a body. It could only be one person, Angelique! The first thing I do is to latch onto her as best I could.
When I do, I could feel her struggling against me. We were both deep under the flood waters, and we were both being knocked about something fierce! Wood, rocks, other things bumped and grinded against us painfully then, in that darkness.
I start kicking out in an effort to swim. Which does me some good. But Dragon bodies weren’t made to swim. Well, my kind isn’t, I lacked gills. I keep trying to swim, and it does me good as a few seconds later, I breach the surface.
The water’s choppy, and it’s cold as fuck, but damn! It was good to breathe again! Looking down in the gloom, I could tell that Angelique wasn’t struggling anymore. Which worried me!
‘You can wait!’ I decided, as I shifted her to one arm and held on. I then struggled to get to a stream bank. It wasn’t easy swimming one pawed, but I was NOT going to let go of her!
It took me what seemed like forever, but was probably only a few minutes. I was battered, bruised, and rapidly approaching hypothermia myself. But, I did it! I managed to drag both myself, and Angelique up onto a shore, and out of the water!
All I could do then, was catch my breath.
‘Fuck! I’m so tired!’ I thought as I panted. Looking up, I noticed that the storm was passing, and the afternoon light was starting to stream in. I then glanced down at my water logged prize.
“ANGELIQUE!” I screamed down at her. I screamed because I realized that she wasn’t breathing!
Words simply fail to convey the depth of horror I felt in that moment. She looked so small then. She had that thousand-yard stare that you see on pictures of corpses, or mannequins.
‘No.’ I thought. ‘No! It isn’t fair!’ I raged at the injustice of it. I had finally found her! At last, she had found me!
Now, here she was, drowned.
Drowned. I just sat there in shock, looking at her, angered at the magnitude of her loss.
‘WAIT!’ said a small part of me. ‘It’s not over! Do something! Anything!’ That small part of me said, taking over.
For some reason, that part activated my Ki-sense, and extended it down onto Angelique. My eyes widened in shock once more, as I Sensed that she was still alive.
But just barely, and it was rapidly fading. I had seconds in which to act. I had to make a command decision and live with the consequences.
Somewhere, I don’t where, a part of me remembered about my First Aid training: CPR.
The next thing I knew, I turned her over, laid her out, and I gave Angelique a ‘Kiss of life”. I blew my breath into her lungs, and then I proceeded to do chest compressions.
I did the first set of thirty, and thought about stopping to give her another breath, but I nixed that thought immediately. I remembered then in that moment, that stopping at thirty would be a bad idea. Instead I continued to count chest compression till one hundred and twenty, mentally using the Bee-Gee’s ‘Staying Alive’ song as a tempo marker. ONLY then did I stop and give her another ‘Breath’.
While I was doing that, I continued to monitor her with my Ki-sense. Nothing, not even that spark from before was there then.
‘No, no, no, no, no!’ I cried in my mind, as I continued with the CPR, determined to not give up! ‘I will not fail you!’ I screamed mentally.
Determined, I continued with chest compressions and then a breath. Chest compressions/breath. Over and over I went, seemingly endlessly. For a while, it became my entire existence.
Then, I stopped and I collapsed alongside her. I was out of breath. I couldn’t do it anymore I was so tired. Looking over, I could see that there was no change in Angelique. It took everything I had then in that moment, to reach over and pull her to me.
‘She’s gone.’ I realized.
“NOOOOOO!” I screamed aloud in loss, shamed by my failure, and ignored by every God in existence.
“NO!” I said aloud again, this time in defiance. Then, in my desperation, I did something new, something strange, and something quite possibly forbidden. I can’t explain it any better than that.
The world around me went dark, as I drew upon my Ki, my life force, and took a piece out of it. It hurt terribly when I did that, like I was gouging out an eye with a dull spoon.
I then took that small portion, and ‘pushed it’ into Angelique. It lay there for a second, deep within her. It just lay there like a rock sitting on the bottom of a pond, inert and cold.
I then concentrated on it, and her. Using my own Ki, I nudged it by singing a song to myself, ‘Lightning Crashes’ by Live. When I was doing that, I thought about Angelique the first time I’d seen her, full of life and curiosity. I thought about the time I’d seen her in the Seventh Path. Thin, emaciated, in a pitiful state, but still alive.
‘Please.’ I begged of no one. ‘Live. Live for me Angelique. Don’t die on my now!’ I pleaded, as I began to weep, losing all hope.
Then. Something happened.
She twitched. I wasn’t sure about it at first, as I opened my eyes. I noticed then, that it was sunny and light outside again.
“Angelique?” I hoarsely asked, looking down at her. Then, she twitched again. It was her mouth that twitched. I went into action.
I started CPR again, chest compressions and then a breath. When I gave her my breath again, she convulsed underneath me. I drew back and watched her, unsure of what to do next. She started to curl up on her own.
‘Yes!’ I cried silently.
“Keep going!” I cried aloud. Then, she curled up into a fetal position. I moved her gently onto her side, I knew what was about to happen next, and I wasn’t disappointed.
She started to vomit water, a copious amount of it. It was muddy, and it had some blood in it. But that was because it was coming out of her lungs and stomach. Finally, after what seemed like gallons, she stopped puking it out and she did something so very wonderful then.
She breathed in deeply, as if she was fighting for it.
After that, she gave out a cry that sounded like a newborn child’s first gasp of pain. Then she collapsed, panting softly. Tenderly, gently, I picked her up and cradled her to my chest, as I wrapped her in my wings.
She looked up blearily at me then, through those soft eyes of hers. They focused on me for a second or three, blinking, wondering. Then her eyes rolled back into her head and she relaxed, blacking out. Checking carefully, I noticed that she was still breathing.
But she was cold, too cold! I needed to warm her up and fast!
Checking myself, I knew I couldn’t provide another glow-rock like I’d done for Pirin. I was too depleted bringing her back from,…from wherever she’d gone.
‘Hopefully, Pirin stayed close to that rock.’ I thought to myself, as I struggled to get upright. I knew I didn’t have the power or the patience to go looking for Pirin. I was lost in the woods, still disoriented from my near drowning, and tired as fuck.
“Home!” I said aloud, confused as to which way it lay, as I clutched that poor were-cat to my chest.
Then I heard it: The Home that I’d built for Frazziss. It was calling to me! It was Singing the song that I had infused its foundation with: ‘Home and Dry’ by the Pet Shop Boys
‘How could I have not heard that before?’ I thought in wonder. Before I knew it, even as tired as I was, I was flying high in the air. It was like I was in a dream.
Swiftly, the miles flew underneath me and my precious burden.
Then, the next thing I knew, I was landing roughly outside the cave entrance. Quickly, I wended my way down through the passageways. Until, at last I found the path into the still incomplete bedroom. There, I lay Angelique upon the warm granite slab.
I blinked away some tears when I saw that she was still breathing. I then dragged myself over to the other side, and I laid down next to her. Then I drew her to me, lying her head on my shoulder.
I was beyond exhausted at that moment. It didn’t take me long to fall asleep as well, what with that deep warmth radiating up into me, and Angelique.
I thought that she looked so fragile in that moment, as the darkness blanketed us both.
I don’t how long I slept. A Dreamless sleep it was. The kind that hours can pass, and it’s like you’re blinking them along.
But, eventually, I started to rise out of the depths of Morpheus’ arms. I started to stir, as I slowly became aware of an odd sensation. Someone was stroking the hair on my head, with a paw.
But not a Dragon’s paw. No, those kinds of paws are covered with scales. This, was a furry paw with pads. It felt nice to have it stroking my hair, lightly scratching my scalp with its claw tips and never touching my sensitive horns.
I became aware of Angelique’s head still lying on my shoulder. She was breathing steadily then, snoring lightly. So, she was still asleep.
‘So who is it that’s stroking my head?’ I asked silently, in that half-awake/half-asleep state. I opened my eyes just a skosh, to see.
I saw her then, somewhat. It was another Were-Cat. She just stood to the side of the granite slab, and kept stroking my head. Looking over at her, I noticed her throat was moving as if she was purring. But I didn’t hear so much as a single rumble. I thought that was strange.
She didn’t stop purring, or stroking, when she noticed me looking back at her. Instead, she wrinkled her nose at me a couple of times, then she smiled. Her coat seemed familiar, somehow. But it wasn’t calico. It was all black as far as I could tell.
“Who?” I tried to ask.
She stopped her grooming of my hair and looked at me with those oddly familiar eyes. Then, she blinked fondly at me a couple of times. Somehow, I knew then, that she was Thanking Me.
After that, she leaned over and kissed me once lightly on the forehead.
I fell asleep.
I woke up. I felt a lot better this time around. Then I realized with a panic attack, that I couldn’t feel Angelique’s head on my shoulder!
‘Was it all just a dream?!’ I thought to myself, all scared and disappointed in that moment!
Then I looked over and breathed a heavy sigh of relief! She was still there. She was curled up against me, and had just shifted over to stick her face into my armpit.
‘Thank Maou!’ I thought, relaxing. Oh it was such a wonder to be there then, next to her.
I reached over to stroke her matted fur, and was rewarded with a slight mew from her.
“Allen.” She whispered once suddenly, as I continued to pet her head. I couldn’t help but grimace with a large amount of guilt, as I realized that she was still asleep!
I didn’t have the heart to wake her then, she seemed so peaceful. There was a lot she and I were going to have to face, once she did wake up.
‘It can wait.’ I decided.
So, I just lay back and relaxed. Instead of disturbing her, I ran over the list of what I’d done to the place in the last month, and what I planned to do as well. In my mind and soul, I listened to the Songs I’d infused my Nest/House with.
For the main bedroom itself, I used ‘Closer’, by Nine Inch Nails. Frazziss liked that choice.
For Pirin’s bedroom, I was thinking of using: ‘Itsy Bitsy Yellow Polka-dot Bikini’. But I wasn’t sure what she’d think of that.
Now the brooding chamber? Both Frazziss and I were satisfied with Billy Idol’s ‘Cradle of Love’.
For the granite bed I was on, I used: ‘Talking in Your Sleep’, by the Romantics.
For the Nursery area, I had used Tom Petty’s ‘Running Down a Dream’. I also had plans to make at least two bedrooms for the brats. One for each of the twins. For them both, I was planning on infusing Queensryche’s ‘Silent Lucidity’.
The Kitchen still needed a lot of rework though. Weird Al’s ‘Living in the Fridge’ turned out to have some nasty side-effects on the cooler. As did his ‘Eat It’ for the dining area. Fat Dragons don’t fly too well.
I was still unsure about what to infuse the planned hot-springs/bathing area, with though.
‘But first, I need to get the Cistern built, and the sewage reclamation too!’ I told myself. ‘The privy definitely needs some more fine tuning. Apparently, Bob River’s ‘Prune Juice’ works a little too well.’ I grimaced to myself silently.
It was then that Angelique started to stir in her sleep. Looking over, I felt sad for her. She was going to be going through some major changes in her life, real soon.
‘But, I will be there for her. One way or another.’ I promised. Then with a start, I realized in that moment, that I HAD kept my promise to her father. I had brought her Home! The thought of that made me smile.
She started to sniff around, but she kept her eyes closed. Then, all of a sudden, she latched onto my shoulder with both of her paws, claws extended. She started huffing as she drove her nose still further into my armpit. I almost winced, as those claws didn’t hurt me, yet.
Then, her eyes snapped open and she Looked at me. As our respective gazes met and locked, I noticed that one of her ears was starting to bend back with curiosity, then she spoke.
“Allen?” she whispered desperately, as she started to quiver just so.
“Hello Angelique.” I replied quietly. Her eyes widened at the sound of my voice. I saw her eyes shift about, trying to take all of me in.
Her eyes widened even more, as she moved her head to take in more and more of me. I could see my scales, horns, and wings sifting their way into her mind.
Then, she did something I totally didn’t expect out of her. Her eyes dilated, she drew back as she folded her ears back onto her head. Then, she spat at me!
“Angelique?” I asked, aghast. “What’s wrong?” I said as I reached for her.
That, was apparently the wrong thing to do.
For that was when she swiped at me with a paw, claws extended. Then she did a backwards somersault up off of the bed, growling ferally as she ran off. I saw her tail all poofed out, as she disappeared around a corner.
“Angelique!” I shouted, as I followed her, disappointed and confused by her reaction. I wasn’t in too much of a hurry to chase after her, as she had chosen to hide herself in the brooding chamber. There was only one exit, and I was standing in it.
“Angelique? May I come in?” I asked, as I peered into the chamber. She was easy to find, as she was the only one in there. Looking inwards, I easily spied her.
She was crouched on the floor, hiding behind one of the curved center pillars. All I could see of her, were a pair of ears and eyes peeking up from behind the pillar base.
“Allen?” she yowled, not taking her eyes off of me. “Is that really you?” she said with a bit of a sob.
“Yes, Angelique. It’s me, Allen Belushi.” I replied, sighing. Then, she closed her eyes and started to cry. At first, I was inclined to just stay where I was and let her get it out of her system. But she kept going on and on.
“Angelique?” I said finally, taking a step into the chamber. “Why are you crying? You found me, and I found you!” As soon as I took that step, she hissed and ran off deeper into the chamber. Stopping, she looked back at me and continued sobbing once more.
‘Never corner a Were-Cat!’ I admonished myself, remember some old advice, someone once told me a long time ago.
“I’m Dead! I’m Dead!” she started to sob, over and over.
“All right Angelique.” I interrupted. “It’s obvious that I’m scaring you, and I’m sorry about that.” I began, feeling flustered and frustrated.
“I don’t know how to reassure you, but I will tell you what I’m going to do.”
Looking at her, I noticed that she had slowed down her sobbing and was now looking back at me warily.
“I’m going to go back out, into the other chamber, and sit on the bed there. You can join me there when you’re ready. Is that acceptable to you?” I waited a few seconds, as she thought about it. Then she nodded. I then turned slowly around and left, doing exactly as I said I’d do.
This time, I sat myself on the granite bed as far from the brooding chamber entrance as I could. I positioned myself so that I could keep an eye on that, and the bedroom entrance as well.
It took her a while. But eventually, she came slowly out of the brooding chamber and stopped, looking at me. Then, she looked over at the bedroom entrance. I knew what she was contemplating.
“You can go, or you can stay. But, it’s your choice what to do. I won’t force you to do either.” I said quietly. She gave me a nervous glance. Then she leaped into the bedroom entrance, and was off running down the hallway. I sighed regretfully.
“Damn.” I whispered to myself, feeling my wings sink to the bed behind me. ‘I failed.’
Suddenly, my depressive thoughts were interrupted as a large ball of calico fur landed atop of me, knocking me over.
“Ooof!” I expulsed, as Angelique landed atop of me, blinking. Looking up, I could see her tail lashing. Finally, she spoke.
“You told the truth.”
“I can go anytime I want?”
“Do you want me to leave?” she asked hesitantly, looking down at me.
“No. I’d rather you stay.” That seemed to mollify her.
“Am I dead?” she asked me fearfully, out of the blue.
“No. What makes you think you are?” I asked back, confused. Her face contorted.
“I saw you kill yourself! I had almost caught up to you when you jumped over the edge! I had no idea you were going to do such a thing!” she yowled, tears flowing from her eyes once more.
I tried to reach out to reassure her, but she avoided my paw. Looking at it, and me, with fear.
“You’re dead Allen. If I’m seeing you now, then that means I’m dead too!” she said as she sat back and curled herself into a ball.
“It’s like that Manga: Love in Hell!” she whined.
“What’s that like?” I asked, curious to see where this was going, and maybe to defuse it.
“A young man dies before his time, and he goes to Hell!” she started to explain, not looking at me.
“There he meets and falls in love with the most beautiful demon. The demon who keeps torturing him!” She looked at me again.
“I’m in Hell. I’m dead, and you’re the Demon I’m in love with!” she wailed.
“But, Angelique!” I began, “I’m not a De….” I stopped, realizing what I was about to say.
“Well technically, I AM a Demon. An Incubus actually, yes.” I pointed out, smiling. She shied away from me when I said that.
“But I’m not dead, and neither are you.” I told her. She raised herself up and stiffened her fur.
“Prove it!” she chuffed.
“How should I do that?” I asked, honestly wondering. She thought about if for a bit with her eyes closed, then she turned and looked at me.
“Dead people don’t have sex.” She said flatly.
“So, what would you have me do?” I said aloud. ‘How convenient.’ I said to myself.
She ordered me to lie back and stay still, I complied. Carefully, over time, she came over and then started tugging at my loin-cloth until she had it undone. She then started messing around with my dicks carefully at first, then enthusiastically with her paws.
Then, as my ‘Dynamic-duo’s attention was gotten by her, she gave off a small yelp of surprise upon discovering that she wasn’t seeing double.
“Oh my, Allen!” I had no idea you were so blessed!” she purred, literally, as she began stroking me lightly with her paws. A nice Two-Paw Job. With Soft-paws.
Damn! That felt good! But, every time I reached out to ‘help’, she batted my hands away and kept stroking. I got the point, eventually. I just let her take over.
Until finally, with a small roar of satisfaction, I ejaculated with both of my dicks- all over her. She kept stroking for a bit longer, pleased with her toying of me. After that, she licked herself clean, then me.
“Are you satisfied now, that we’re not dead?” I asked, as she curled up next to me, contented. She was about to give me an answer when both of our attentions were distracted by Frazziss stomping into the bedchamber.
‘Or not dead, yet.’ I thought to myself, seeing Frazziss as she spread out her wings in annoyance, and placing her paws on her hips. I could see that her eyes were glowing a fierce red then too. A bit of movement behind her caught my attention. It was Pirin, and she looked royally pissed as well.
“Uuuuhhhmmmm.” I began, looking between Frazziss, Pirin, and Angelique, as the Were-cat and I lay in a post-coital afterglow, atop of Frazziss’ nest-bed.
I was floundering for a reasonable explanation, as I suddenly observed that Frazziss was starting to blow smoke out of her nose.
“She followed me home?” I quipped.