Laska and Me – 15

All night I searched, until the moon began to sink and the sky began to brighten. Eralia had come to pick me up, insisting I had to think about myself, too. Reluctant as I was, she managed to convince me with the words that maybe Laska would be waiting at home for me.

Back at home, there was no Laska – just the blinking of a message on my answering machine. A woman from the hospital had called.

They had Laska.

I asked the woman at the front desk where Laska was, my voice ragged from breathlessness from sprinting all the way from the parking garage. I wobbled in place from a sudden bout of dizziness, but forced myself to stand strong. Eralia was beside me, breathing heavily herself, but nowhere near the extent I was.

All the way here she’d kept telling me Laska would be fine, that she just knew it had to be something minor. At first her words had been aggravating, and I’d told her that the only reason she wasn’t as worried was because she didn’t care about my daughter. Imagine my surprise when pain shot through her eyes and face. “Of course I care,” she’d said in a low voice. “I may not be nearly as close as you two are, but I’ve known her for a while, and I do like her – even if she doesn’t realize it.”

I apologized, and she shook her head, saying not to worry about it. Standing before the receptionist as she looked up Laska’s information, Eralia gave my hand a squeeze. I squeezed back and gave her a weak smile in return; I was glad to have someone like her with me.

“Ah, she’s still in the ER; she hasn’t be admitted.”

“Thank you… but which way to the ER?” I asked.

The receptionist smiled, and pointed down the hall to the right, towards the large red sign that had ‘Emergency Room’ written on it. Forcing myself to laugh a bit, I then sighed and thanked the receptionist again. She just nodded her head.

Inside the ER I was greeted with another desk – though the man working the counter was already prepared for me.

“I’ve just called the nurse. She’ll bring you back in a moment,” he said with the same sort of smile the woman at the front desk had.

“Do you know what’s wrong with her…?” I asked, impatience getting the better of me.

He looked up at a chart on the wall. “Nothing major – a bump on the head. She’ll be ready to go home as soon as you sign some discharge paperwork.”

I closed my eyes and exhaled deeply. Relief washed through me, lifting the weight from my heart and the untying the knot in my stomach. After a few moments, a wide set of double doors open and the nurse beckoned us over.

“You’re Laska’s parents, then? Right this way, please,” she said, turning on her hell and stepping back through the doors.

“What happened?” I asked.

“Ah, she was brought in because she fell and hit her head. She was knocked out for a little bit – she has a concussion, so we’ll give you some information on how to care for her the next few days, okay?”

“But she’s awake and everything, right?”

“Yup!”

The nurse must’ve felt us at her heels and broke from a casual stroll to a powerwalk. I was so eager to see Laska again I damn near demanded she run. Fortunately I still had a modicum of decency, not to mention Eralia at my side. She’d never let me hear the end of it.

Down one hall and then a sharp hook to another, and there she was. Laska, sitting on a bed in a tattered shirt. Along with a large bandage occupying most of the left side of her forehead. My heart leapt and I almost cried on the spot as I swept Laska up into a hug.

“Don’t you know how scared we’ve been?!”I said, clinging to her so she could never run away again. She pulled away and whispered “I’m sorry….”

I had no idea what to feel or say, a horrible mixture of relief and anger mixing together like the first time she disappeared on me all those years ago. It was like I wanted to slap her just as much as I wanted to hug her.

“You… foolish, idiotic… impulsive…stupid…lovable daughter of mine…” I remembered how she’d tried to cut herself before she ran away. I’d never imagined it was possible to be so scared of losing someone. Never even in my most terrifying nightmares.

“Don’t you ever do that again! Don’t you know how much I love you, and how much you scared me? We can always talk things over, no matter what it is.” ”

I swallowed heavily, struggling to maintain my composure. Apparently my outpouring had affected Laska as well. I could hear her crying, feel her tears soaking into my shirt – wouldn’t be the first time, I thought, almost appreciating such a familiar scene.

“I’m sorry daddy,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry.”

We held each other for a time, Laska sobbing into my chest, and I stroking her hair and ears. Finally, with a deep breath, I let her go and stood up. Glancing behind me I saw that Eralia looked away quickly, running a furry digit across her cheeks. Seems she got caught up in the moment as well.

Even the nurse was moved by the scene before her. With a cough she produced a packet of papers on a clipboard and handed them to me. However, as she did so, a police officer appeared right behind her.

That was to be expected, I suppose.

There were a few questions about why Laska ran away, and we told the truth – except for the part where Laska attacked Eralia, that is. The young woman took notes as we spoke, seemingly satisfied there wasn’t any abuse. We also learned that Laska had been found at the bottom of an icy hill, unconscious and bleeding from her forehead by a trucker who’d pulled into an empty lot for the night. As we completed the discharge paperwork, the office bid us farewell.

“Well, what now?” Eralia inquired, kicking a pawfoot at the ground.

“What do you mean? As much as I’d like to ask Laska what exactly happened… I think we should wait until tomorrow. I’m absolutely beat.” As I spoke I poked at Laska’s paw-pads. She stretched her paws wide at the touch, her little claws poking out before she retracted them again.

“Do I have to? Laska said.

“Yes, you do,” I replied firmly.

“That’s not all we’re going to have a talk about,” Eralia added. Right. There was that thing she’d mentioned earlier.

With the papers done and processed, we were free to leave.

Laska slept the whole way home, even as I carried her inside. I tried to shake her awake, but she just mumbled and went slack again.

Eralia was highly amused as she watched me bring her in, opening the door for me. “After you, daddy.”

I rolled my eyes at her and entered, kicking off my shoes. She followed behind me, then stood at the door to Laska’s room while I tucked her in. A kiss and whisper goodnight, and I left my daughter to sleep.

Eralia watched me the whole time, her eyes giving off a mischievous glint in the darkness. A little wry grin popped up on her face. She backed off somewhat as I closed the door to Laska’s room.

“What’s got you grinning so much?” I asked.

She then sauntered up to me, planting a quick kiss on my lips. “Oh, just thinking you look the part rather well.”

“The part of what?”

“Why, the part of the caring father every mother wishes their lover or husband was,” she said, her features drooping into a frown after a pause. “And the one every daughter dreams of.”

“I don’t know. For her to have those kinds of feeling for me… where did I go wrong?”

Eralia leaned against the wall and sighed. “It’s a little more complicated than that. Not having another woman around didn’t help, though.” She shifted on a leg, crossing her arms across her chest. She looked down for a moment, then brought her head up. “You two were alone together for the longest time. Laska got used to that. When I showed up, she didn’t know how to handle the fact that you weren’t the only person in her life anymore. That’s probably when she really started to feel the pangs of love.”

“So you think she’s just jealous or something?”

“Maybe. She’s confusing one love for another. It’s… not uncommon for our kind, all things considered.” Eralia continued to speak in a level tone, but she was struggling to keep it up.

“She’s possessive, huh?” I said with a short laugh, shaking my head. “Jealousy sure is scary.”

One of her ears twitched, then she sighed. “It’s probably a good bit of lust alongside her jealousy. One of the downsides to our… infamous passions. Anyways, let’s continue this tomorrow. I’d like Laska to hear what I have to say as well, and we can hear her out.”

“Yeah,” I said, yawning. “That’d probably be for the best. I’m still pretty foggy on everything that’s happened.”

Eralia smiled. “I think we all need a bit of rest,” she said, pulling me into a hug.

The two of us shuffled wearily into my room, into bed, and under the sheets. She snuggled up against me, holding me from behind in her paws. It didn’t take long until she was out like a light, leaving me to my thoughts.

Today had been… a day. I was both looking forward to tomorrow, and regretting it. So many questions I wanted to ask, yet I didn’t want to hear any of the answers – and that was just from Laska. Who knows what Eralia would reveal?

As I thought about what she might be hiding, so to speak, I slowly came to the realization that she’d scarcely ever mentioned her family. A few mentions of parents, but nothing of siblings, along with her lack of children. Perhaps I just never noticed since I didn’t have much of a family either, so the lack of discussion on that topic never stood out to me.

My thoughts on the subject began to wane as sleep took hold, and soon I drifted off as well, still in Eralia’s embrace.

Reading through the various pamphlets at the kitchen table on how to deal with post-concussion symptoms, my first thought was that I needed reading glasses. My second thought was that adhering to the list of things to avoid would make for the world’s most boring day. No reading, watching TV, using a PC, or physical activity.

So someone was just supposed to sleep all day? It didn’t really specify how long that sort of rest was supposed to last. Rather, it emphasized that everyone reacts and heals differently, and that sleep or inactivity should continue for as long as the patient had symptoms.

Eralia was rummaging around, in search of something to make for lunch. Her rumpled shirt-and-panties dress, along with her messy hair, gave her a rather disheveled appearance. One that I’d grown accustomed to seeing whenever she was around in the morning.

Unfortunately today was Friday, so I had to call in for both the girls this morning when the alarm went

“Hey, where’s the bread?” she asked after opening and closing all the cabinet doors.

“I think we’re out.”

She sighed and walked over to the table I was at, scratching herself without regard and yawning wide. How lucky for me to have such a dignified woman to greet me when she gets up.

“So much for a sandwich. Isn’t much else here that doesn’t involve cooking,” she groaned, taking a seat across from me.

“Yeah, we should probably get to the grocery store tomorrow.”

“Mmm.” She looked over at what I was reading for a moment, then sprawled out on the table, her arms reaching across and her cheek flat on the surface. “I haven’t been up that late in forever, I just want to go crawl back into bed and sleep for another few hours…”

“Well, go shower or something. Maybe it’ll wake you up?”

“I guess… ya wanna come in with me?”

I put down the papers I was reading, looking over at her grinning visage. She often asked me to help wash her fur, saying she disliked trying to clean her ears and tail on her own. The true reason, I suspected, was that she knew I enjoyed rubbing her fluffy appendages. It was probably her way of trying to help me feel better.

“I think I can do that,” I said, putting down the materials I was reading and standing. Eralia’s grin spread.

Scrubbing and massaging her long, pointed ears, it turns out she was right. Though I’d never tell her, it was kind of like those studies that show having a pet can reduce blood pressure and such whenever you spend time petting them.

She shuddered and giggled in delight as I worked my hands up and down her ears, working the soap into a lather before washing it out. Standing behind her, her tail swished against me, though the water robbed all its fluffiness.

Her ears well-tended to, I moved onto her formerly-bushy tail to repeat the process.

“So what do you need to do about Laska’s injuries?” Eralia asked.

“I don’t think a whole lot if she doesn’t complain of anything. Though if she has headaches or something I’m supposed to make sure she stays in bed and do… nothing. I guess the idea is that the patient isn’t supposed to think much,” I said, rubbing the shampoo into her tail.

“Oh, I see. What about that cut on her head?”

“They gave me some gauze pads and medical tape to use. I’m supposed to change it when she wakes up today, and then every few days or whenever she showers, I guess. She has a few stiches, but they should fall out on their own.”

“Poor girl… another scar huh?”

“Seems that way, though this one should be hidden by her hair… okay, turn around.” I finished her tail, now onto her paws.

Turning to face me, she flashed a happy little smirk, then presented her paws. Taking one of her hand-paws in mine, I worked the soap into her fur all the way down to her elbow, then focused on squishing and massaging her pads. Honestly, I felt a bit like a child enjoying squeezing and touching the soft pads. Her knowing look didn’t help alleviate that notion much, but at least she enjoyed it as much as I did.

“So if she’s not feeling well we’ll probably have to postpone our discussion, huh?” She said while I squeezed her paw.

“Probably.” I let out a deep sigh. “As much as I just want to put yesterday behind me, there’s a lot that came to the surface – I didn’t even know what she was going through.”

Eralia nodded sympathetically. “A girl is entitled to her secrets, but I know what you mean. I had a hunch of what she was going through, but I never could have imagined it was that deep.”

Finished with one paw and arm, Eralia lifted up the other for me.

“I still can’t believe I never noticed her attitude around me. It’s like… if I was a better father, would I have noticed her problems?”

“You pay attention to her plenty, not to mention you spoil her rotten,” she said, letting slip a laugh then shook her head. “She hid her problems well. Who knew she thought I was a whore?”

I stopped what was I doing for a moment, then resumed, albeit slowly. “I really don’t want to make a choice.”

“I know,” Eralia said, planting a chaste kiss on my cheek. “We’ll figure something out.”

I paused again, sandwiching her paw between my hands. “You’re a good woman, you know that?”

Eralia giggled, bringing her other paw to her face. “A good woman for a good man, yes?”

It was certainly an enjoyable atmosphere, but, for a brief moment, I’d forgotten we weren’t the only people in the house, and that we had been in the bathroom for a quite some time.

The door suddenly flew open, startling both of us.

“I can’t hold it anymore!” Laska shouted, bursting into the bathroom. Unfortunately the door on the shower stall wasn’t fogged or patterned, allowing her to see the both of us in all our splendor. I turned away to face the wall sharply, but Eralia didn’t seem to care. Well, they were both women, I suppose.

“Sorry!” Laska said, running straight for the toilet.

The sounds of her relief managed to echo over the sound of the running shower, much to my dismay. Well, at least it let me know she wasn’t simply trying to spy on us to see what was going on.

Soon as she was done Laska tried to bolt, but Eralia was quick to stop her. “Do you want him to wash you too?

“W-what do you mean? I’m just going to go now…” Laska muttered, still creeping towards the door.

“Hold it right there!” Eralia said, surprising me with the tone. It was firm and commanding, yet wasn’t harsh. “Look, I’ll dry off quick and leave.”

Eralia exited the stall, and then I heard the linen closet open. “Turn around for a second,” she said, then tossed a small towel to me. I wrapped it around myself, then faced Eralia and Laska. The bronze-skinned woman was standing proud as she toweled off, hiding nothing. Laska was pretending to avoid looking, but her clumsy act was easy to see through. She’d glance to some part of Eralia’s, then at her own. And scowled all the while.

Finished drying herself, Eralia bent over and whispered something to Laska, throwing me a wink at the same time. Then she was gone, leaving me and Laska alone. Standing in place, she was swiveling her hips back and forth, tapping the ends of her paws together. Looked like I was going to have to be the one to break the ice.

“What’s up, Laska?”

She stopped rotating in place, her face turned away. “Could… you, ah… could you… wash me, too? Like you do with Eralia?” Her eyes glanced to me for a second, then back down.

“Aren’t… don’t you think you’re a bit old? You’re a teenage girl now…”

“Oh… I guess…” she mumbled, then began a slow walk towards the door.

“What did I say?” Eralia said, popping back in. She glared at me, then smiled at Laska. How she could make a face like that to someone who tried to stab her, I’ll never know.

“Er, hang on, I guess I could, if you want to.” Though I was a bit embarrassed, I wasn’t feeling quite as awkward about it as I thought I would. Satisfied with my new answer, Eralia left for the second time.

Laska’s face instantly brightened. Seemed there was still more of the old Laska in there than I’d thought. Perhaps my reluctance stemmed from my view on such ‘personal’ contact with a girl her age as being sexual, but I guess it didn’t have to be that way. I hugged her and scratched at her ears all the time anyways, so I supposed this wasn’t all that much different.

First things first, however. I glanced at the bandage on her head, then stepped out of the stall and sat on the toilet. “Come over here for a second, I need to look at that cut on the side of your head.”

Her bright expression clouded over and she shuffled over. Looking at the bandaging up close, there was quite a bit of tape holding it on. A bit of her hair looked like it got underneath the tape as well. I grimaced a bit, knowing this wasn’t going to be fun for either of us.

“By the way, do you have any headaches or feel dizzy or anything?”

Laska shook her head. “Not really… but I feel kinda… I dunno, fuzzy?”

Thinking for a moment, I don’t recall ‘fuzzy’ being on the symptoms list. Maybe she couldn’t concentrate or something?

“Why?” She asked.

“There are some symptoms I’m supposed to watch out for. I guess a concussion can last for a while.”

“…is it serious?” Laska said, pawing at the gauze on the side of her head.

I shrugged. “Don’t know, I think you’re fine… but if you can’t remember things or have difficulty concentrating, you’re supposed to rest.”

“…That means I get to avoid school, right?”

Same old Laska, indeed.

“You realize that the longer you miss school, the more you’re going to have to do when you get back, right?”

Laska shuffled her feet, then sighed. “…Right.”

“Anyways, come a bit closer.”

This was going to hurt her as much as it hurt me.

“Hey Laska, what’s that?” I said, pointing to the right.

“Huh?” She turned to look and then in one, swift motion, I ripped the bandage off.

Laska yelped, grabbed for her face, and glared. “What was that for?! That hurt like hell!”

“It would have been worse had I gone slowly,” I said, patting her head. I thought about telling her to watch her language, but why bother at this point?

Inspecting the wound, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was a bit behind her eye, almost directly underneath her ear. It was looking a little… juicy, but I guess that was to be expected since it was fresh.

“How’s it look?” Laska asked as I studied her face. Her bright, orange eyes peering up at me.

“I think my cute little girl is going to have another story etched on her head,” I said with a chuckle.

She frowned, letting out a little snort. “But I already have enough of those!”

Smiling and leaning away, I pat her head and ruffled her hair a bit. “Well, no one will ever accuse you of being a boring or uninteresting person, not to mention I think you look absolutely charming.”

“…Really?”

“Really.”

Laska fidgeted for a moment, then let herself grin.

Well, time to get this over with, I thought as I stood up and pulled out a few towels. “I guess this will be like old times, huh? Anyways, uh, here you go, to cover yourself up with once you undress.” I held a towel out to her, then hopped into the stall, facing away. A moment later she entered as well, holding the cloth to cover her front half.

Fortunately the shower had a detachable head I could use so as to avoid spraying water directly on her wound, and I pulled a small stool from underneath the bench built into the back.

“Here you go,” I said. She sat down on it, and then I took a seat behind her.

Nothing was said as I wet her hair and ears, and worked the soap into a lather on them. I took longer than I would have normally, giving her ears a little extra attention. Despite all the damage done to them, they still had enough feeling left for her to enjoy the experience of having them scratched and massaged. Made me a little jealous of her and Eralia; I wished my own ears were sensitive enough to let me relax that much whenever they were touched or rubbed. She held her eyes closed as I scrubbed her ears and scalp, then moved onto her back, followed by arms and paws.

It kind of was like when she was younger. Only difference now is that she had a bit of modesty to protect.

She sat wordlessly, switching which paw held onto the towel as I finished with one arm, then I moved to her paw-feet. It was a little difficult to get at them from behind, but she seemed to enjoy it regardless, letting what tension that remained in her flow out.

Finally, I’d done all I could do. “Alright, you’re going to have to do the rest,” I said, standing up from the bench.

Laska’s eyes opened, and she seemed to be a bit annoyed. “But you do all of Eralia…”

“Well, that’s because we’re in a romantic relationship… and that’s what people do in a romance to show their affection…”

Her tail flicked side to side a few times before she spoke. “I guess…”

I’d expected her to be a little more resistant after all that’d happened, in all honesty. But, I wasn’t one to question her turn of mood. I left her to own devices in the bathroom and proceeded to get dressed.

Downstairs, I found Eralia in the kitchen, making lunch. She smiled and looked up at me when she heard me come in.

“Did Laska enjoy your bonding time?”

“Yeah, I think so. Heh, reminded me a lot of when she was a kitten. I bathed her until she was eight or nine.”

“That must be tough… you still want to treat her like your daughter, but she’s steadily becoming her own woman, huh?” Eralia said, speaking while looking down at whatever she was doing – looked like she was marinating some chicken.

How did fathers deal with this reality? I leaned back against the kitchen counter, and stared up at the ceiling. “Yeah… that’s probably the last time we’ll do that. Makes me kind of sad because I wonder if she’ll meet someone that knows just where she likes to be scratched.”

Looking down from the ceiling, I caught Eralia’s eyes, a familiar twinkle to them. “What now?” I groaned.

“Sounds like Laska isn’t the only one who’s jealous.”

I spit her with an incredulous stare, only to receive a wry little grin. “…What? No, no. It’s not like that at all.”

“I know, dear – you don’t have those intentions. Still doesn’t make you less jealous, however.”

“Is… that a bad thing?”

Eralia hummed, thinking while shifting her jaw slightly and tightening up a corner of her mouth. “Probably not. If anything I’d say it just means you’re protective of her, and want her to be happy. Sounds like normal father stuff to me.”

“How am I supposed to deal with this, though? Like you said, I still think of her as my little girl. Ever since I gave her ‘the talk,’ she’s been rather… curious. I’m… I’ve stumbled in on her, ah, exploring herself, a few times.” I switched from leaning back against the counter to leaning forward, hiding my face by hanging my head down. “I make sure to knock first these days.”

Eralia said nothing, but gave me a little glance, then placed the chicken into some foil packets with vegetables and put them in the oven.

“I don’t think I can tell you the answer to that, but I know what you /shouldn’t/ do.”

“What’s that?” I asked

She brought her face back up as I did, meeting my gaze. The corners of her mouth bunched and loosened a few times, as if she was struggling to contain her emotions. “Never give in to anything she does if you wish for her to remain your wonderful little girl.”

Concern knit my brows as I searched her eyes with mine. I understood then what secret she had to tell. “Do you…would you like to tell me about it?”

Her eyes tightened, and she looked off to the side. “Not right now. I think Laska should hear it as well.”

There wasn’t a whole lot I could say, or even think to say. I moved to open my mouth a few times, but quashed whatever meager words I would’ve said.

“…Thanks for asking, though,” Eralia said, walking over to the side of the counter I was on. She wrapped her paws around my mid-section and buried her face in my back.

The notion that I’d picked up another girl who needed a loving home began to take root in my mind. She’d always been care-free, and while affectionate, she’d never been especially close. This was the first I’d see her act like this.

I let her stay like that for a while, occasionally glancing at the clock on the wall. Where was Laska?

“I hate to spoil the mood, but I was expecting Laska to be done by now… I should check on her.”

I felt her sigh into my back, and then she let go of me. “I’ll keep an eye on lunch, go make sure she’s all right,” Eralia said, giving me a little push out of the kitchen.

Turns out, Laska had stayed in the hot water too long and got dizzy – afraid of standing up on her own. Understandable, but I had the suspicion she just wanted me to look at her naked body. Either way, I re-bandaged her wound and sent her off to bed until she recovered.

Eralia and I had lunch while Laska slept, and then for the most part we just lounged around the house, watching TV and whatnot. Eralia was unusually cuddly, leaning up against me most of the time, laying her head on my shoulder.

Eventually the afternoon turned to dusk, and Laska woke up again, ambling out into the living room.

“Hey…”

“Good evening sweetie. Are you feeling better?” I replied, looking over my shoulder at her.

“Mostly, I think,” she said, sitting down in a chair to the side of the couch Eralia and I were on. The same as last night, though without the hostility.

“Feeling hungry?” Eralia asked.

Laska ignored her, looking at me instead. “Hungry?,” I asked, but only after forcing down my first impulse.

“…A little, what’s to eat?”

“We didn’t know when you were going to get up, so we didn’t have anything planned,” Eralia answered. “Want to order out? I’ll buy.”

Laska perked up at the suggestion. For the first time in a while, she acknowledged Eralia. “Can we order pizza?”

Before I could answer, Eralia did it for me.

“Sure.”

I cringed. Laska always managed to get cheese and sauce all over her paws, and then complained about it for hours after. Well whatever, if it makes her feel better.

Eralia hopped up to place the order, I followed after her, and Laska after me. Eralia had a phone book laid out, looking through the various places around here. She and Laska discussed where to order from – through me – or rather, Laska said ‘no’ to various names until the name of her favorite place was said.

Standing behind Laska, looking at Eralia, I began to pantomime Laska’s actions and words. I’d seen this song and dance for years, and was able to act it out perfectly, down to lip-syncing her order. Eralia struggled not to laugh, and when Laska whipped around to see what was going on, I let my arms drop, acting nonchalant. She glared at me, knowing I had been doing something, but I don’t think she could quite figure out what exactly it was.

With the order placed, I decided to hold off on our discussion until we were done eating.

It was mostly small talk until the food arrived, followed by the inevitable cheese-in-paw-fur mess that came afterwards. Eralia didn’t have any problems, but then again she used silverware to eat rather than her paws.

“Why don’t you eat like she does? That way you don’t make sure a mess.”

“Because you’re not supposed to eat it that way! It’s hand…paw-held food. You’re supposed to eat it that way.” Laska protested as I washed her paws in the sink. It was like Cheetos fingers turned up to 11.

“Is that so? Even when it gets all in your fur?” I said.

“Especially when it gets all in my fur!” Laska actually seemed to puff up a little at her last remark. Was she proud of making a mess or something? Or was she just being obstinate?

Eralia remained quiet during the exchange, silently eating and watching us, letting her eyes do the laughing.

Dinner over, I almost wanted to just gloss over the events, especially since Laska seemed to have sorted herself out. But, I knew better – her attitude was probably a cover. Rather than sitting out in the living room, I decided on her room. I’d hoped that by talking things over some place she would feel safe and secure, she’d be a bit more honest. Though I also wondered of the possibility that she’d think we were invading her sanctum.

I asked her for permission to have a chat in her room with the three of us. She hesitated, but agreed.

All three of sat down on her bed, though Laska buried herself under the covers, peeking out at us.

“First, Laska, I want to let you know I love you. But what you did last night… Do you have anything to say?”

Laska burrowed deeper still into her blankets and pillows, hiding nearly all her face. “Sorry,” she said, words muffled by her bedding.

“Haven’t I always said you can just talk to me about whatever you want? You know I won’t get mad or yell at you.”

Again, she gave a muffled apology. As I was about to go on, Eralia stopped me. “There are some things you just can’t talk about with certain people.”

She had a point; maybe I was just being selfish thinking I could be everything for Laska. And, if Eralia was willing to forget that night, I guess I could too. If anything, she earned a few points with Laska, based on her reaction.

“Right,” I said with a long breath. “Could you at least tell me why you ran away?”

“I… was scared,” she finally said.

“What were you scared of?”

Laska went quiet, bringing up the edge of a pillow to her lips, lightly brushing it across them as she looked down. “That… you hated me.”

“What? But Laska, I held you and you teleported away. Nothing you could do would make me hate you.”

“I don’t know… I was just… scared, that you loved her,” she looked towards Eralia as she spoke, then back down, “more than me… and then I… who would love someone who did that?”

Tears were starting to well up in her eyes, but she kept herself from letting them loose.

“Sweetie… I… you know I love you very much, and, close your ears Eralia, I would always pick you first in my life if I had to make such a choice.”

Eralia sighed behind me. “Don’t worry dear, I’m not offended,” she said, poking my back.

Laska sucked in a deep breath to try and steady herself. “I, I know. One of the nurses asked why I ran away, and asked if you were the one who gave me these scars. I shouted ‘No,’ then said…” Laska trailed off, the watery look in her eyes intensifying. “I said no, that would never happen, because you loved me.”

She dabbed the moisture from her eyes, taking a breath. “After that we kind of talked for a while, about all kinds of things. How I felt about who I was… she told me about herself as well. I wound up telling her that you’re… that you chose me, as you said… I was expecting her to be surprised or something, but she always just nodded her head and listened to me. I don’t know why I told her as much as I did.”

True, I thought, sometimes we can tell strangers things we wouldn’t tell those we love – our deepest secrets and desires. Maybe it’s because we figure we’ll never have to see them again.

“What else did you two talk about?” Eralia asked, rolling over onto her side to face Laska.

Laska blushed a little. “About why I ran away… and…” She closed her eyes and dove under the protection the blankets afforded, though only her head and upper body were covered – her rear stuck up in the air. “Things like love,” she said, muffled by the blankets she was hiding under.

“It’s fine,” I said, patting between the area where the covers were tented up from her ears.

“Just before you two showed up, she told me something that reminded me of you. She told me that I had to… stop hiding.”

Stop hiding, huh? That could be interpreted in quite a few ways. I wonder how Laska took it?

Eralia pulled herself up, sliding over beside Laska. “Hey Laska,” she began. “I think I have something to say that you might be interested in. Would you like to hear a little about me that not even your father knows?” Eralia looked up at me as she spoke.

Laska shuffled about, sitting back down and pulling the covers off herself. It seemed that Eralia’s constant efforts were already paying off. Though Laska didn’t want to even pretend she was there, curiosity and her own nature managed to force her hand. “About what?”

Eralia smiled. “Myself. Want to hear?”

“…Okay,” Laska replied, trying her best – and failing – to appear nonchalant.

Eralia sat up and began to stretch, reaching over her head with her arms and tugging on her elbows in turn, then bent her body side to side. Her little routine completed, she let out a sigh and closed her eyes for a moment.

“All right, but I’ve never told this to anyone else before. I’m only letting you two know because I love you both, and I think I ought to.”

Laska blinked and blurt out “You love me too?”

“Of course, you little cutie. Why wouldn’t I?”

Laska opened her mouth to say something, but decided better of it and sat silent, waiting for her to continue.

“Now, I was a little girl once too, you know,” Eralia said, sitting so that her knees came up to her chest. Her arms wrapped around them, giving her the appearance of hugging herself. “And like all kids, I did so much stupid shit I wish I could take back.”

I shifted to move closer to her, but she stopped me with a glance. Her speech was for Laska’s benefit, not mine, nor was she seeking comfort.

“You’ve probably noticed by now, but I’ve never really mentioned a family. That’s because, like you two, I don’t really have one. I won’t get into all the boring details, but my mother broke off from her own family due to… differences, and came here from overseas. She met my father at college, and then sometime later I was born.”

Her tail began to thump lightly against the bed, and she brought her face in towards her knees.

“Life was pretty good for a while. My parents were kind and loving, and I was a happy little girl. I thought the world of them – as most kids do, I suppose. Despite their busy lives they always made time for me, provided for me. Even at their own expense.”

Eralia hugged herself tight, as if sheltered herself from the outside world.

“When I was eight, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. It was pretty advanced; she’d avoided going to the doctor for a long time. Was it money or time? I don’t know,” Eralia shook her head and sighed. “They didn’t give her long, but she fought. Fought for two long years, and every day, even when most of her hair had fallen out, she cared more about me than herself. Even apologized that I had to come to her hospital room,” Eralia laughed, if only to hide her tears.

“Then one day her strength failed and she began slipping away, but not before got to tell me goodbye – that it was just a temporary goodbye…”

I tried to give Eralia a hug but she gave me a gentle push away and shook her head. Shaking her head and wiping the few trickles on her cheeks, she took a breath. “I’m fine, really. Just… Anyways.”

There was a bit of throat clearing to stall for time, but she got herself back under control. “So, there I was. Alone, with my father, and a gaping void in my heart I didn’t what to do with. Then puberty hit me, fast and hard. My father did the best he could by himself, and there wasn’t a day that went by he didn’t make absolutely sure I knew he loved me. But I, I had begun to want more.”

I glanced at Laska; she was glued to Eralia’s words.

“I knew of sex, I yearned for it. Even though I’d never experienced it, I knew I wanted it – I knew it’d fill the void in my life. And I wanted it with the one person I loved most.”

Laska blushed at Eralia’s words. We both knew where the story was going, and it made me somewhat uncomfortable. Was it because of the content, or that it was because Laska thought of me the same way?

“There was part of me that felt it was wrong, of course, but I pushed that little part far away. How could it be wrong if I felt so strongly about it? That I knew it’d feel so right? So I tried and tried, but he always rejected me. Looking back at my attempts to seduce him… I was so bad at it,” she laughed, then sighed. “But I kept at it, getting more and more overt about my desires. I think he knew long before it got to that point, but he didn’t want to hurt me anymore. And there was no one to pull me aside and tell me what I was doing would end in disaster.” Eralia’s eyes flicked up to Laska.

“Finally, one night after a year or so, he gave into my advances. It was… exhilarating. We together, heart and body and soul. It was everything I’d been searching for, and so much more. But as it’d happen, it only stoked the flames of desire further and made me even more passionate. There wasn’t a day that went by…”

Laska tried to hide the deep scarlet on her cheeks by trying to bury her face in the covers again, but she refused to look away completely. Even I was a little bothered, though more by the fact that Eralia had engaged in incest than any eroticism.

“Something changed when I – we – crossed that line, though I wouldn’t know it until years later. At some point, I was no longer his daughter, and he was no longer my father. Instead, we were lovers. Passionate lovers for sure,” she said with a silly smile that faded to something more somber, “but just lovers. And I was completely dependent on him for everything. I think, as the years went on, he began to resent me. No longer his daughter, I was a slutty little Anubis that had no income and did almost nothing around the house.”

Still clinging to her knees, Eralia began to rock back and forth. She didn’t have the face of regret or sadness, but like that of someone dreaming of what could have been.

“Even at the point when we barely spoke, we still sated our desires, though the passion had long gone. But, on my 18th birthday, he gave me my final gift,” Eralia clenched her jaw. “He kicked me out of the house and told me he didn’t want my freeloading ass around anymore if I wasn’t even a good lay.”

I had no words. None. Just the urge to haul off, find the man, and punch him. I thought the story would end there, but it wasn’t over. She flopped sideways onto the bed and sprawled out, looking over at me. Laska inched closer to her, as though she too wanted to comfort the woman.

“I lost the last of my family that day. I drifted around, made my way. Got into motocross as a way to let out some of my anger at the world. As I got older I decided one day I’d have my own family. I’d raise a little girl just like me, and I’d make sure she was loved, and that I’d never leave her to let her make the same mistakes. But…”

She closed her eyes for a moment. “Motocross is dangerous. I had a pretty bad accident. You know that scar on my stomach I told you was just a cut?”

I thought I’d used up all those sinking feels in my gut. “…Yes?”

“I took a jump too hard, too fast, trying to make up time. Oh, how I flew – and straight off the track. I fell one way, the bike the other. I thought I’d be safe landing on a canopy, but… When I came to I was on a stretcher with a gaping hole in my stomach. I’d fallen straight on one of the supports – pierced me through.”

“That’s…” I began, but stopped myself knowing that anything I had to offer would be mere platitude. Eralia sighed, giving me a little nod of thanks, and continued.

 

 

“In the aftermath, I discovered I could no longer have children. I thought my dream of having a family to call my own was over. I drifted in and out of relationships, but never found one that rekindled my spirit. Then, you two came along. Unattached men with a daughter they take care of full-time are kind of rare, so you caught my interest. I saw… a little of myself in Laska, I think, and decided to do what I could to make sure my mistake wouldn’t be repeated.”

Eralia sat back up, and motioned for both of us to come over. Laska was the closest, so she was the first snagged by a paw. Instead of fighting or trying to escape, Laska let herself be caught and hugged. When I scooted over, she did the same to me, holding us both at the same time, in each arm. She swallowed hard, her words finished. I wasn’t the only one left without a thing to say; Laska had been silent as well.

Her words sparked a surge of thoughts, most of all that I wouldn’t be able to have a child with her. Giving Laska a sister or brother had been something on my mind for quite some time, and I had actually been planning on asking Eralia about it soon. But, her words dashed those hopes.

The only thing I could do was hug her back, and I think, from the look on her face, she didn’t want me to say anything anyways. It was her story to tell, and she’d already moved on from that chapter of her life. I could see why kept it away from others, opening herself up only when she saw it was necessary.

Eralia then gave Laska a peck on the cheek. “If you would allow me, Laska, I would like to call myself part of your family.”

Laska slumped in her grasp; no doubt she felt like a villain now.

Waiting for her reply, I began to feel a bit dizzy; seemed to always happen around these tense, emotional moments.

“I… guess…” Laska finally muttered out. “Maybe you’re not so bad…”

Eralia laughed, and then kissed Laska again, causing her to squirm about. “That’s a step in the direction. ‘No so bad’ is certainly better than ‘whore.’”

After a moment, Laska ceased her wriggling, and asked Eralia a very peculiar question.

“But… what do I do about… “Laska’s eyes flicked to me, then back to the woman she’d elected to not hate quite so much. Eralia winked and pressed a paw to her lips. “We’ll talk about that once we’re alone,” she said, turning to look at me.

That must be the signal that I should leave.

“Have fun with your uh, girl talk,” I said, standing and stretching. I kind of expected Laska to ask me to stay, but she indicated with her eyes that I should go as well. Looks like I wasn’t the only one that was going to have to learn to share.

Well, it was something. They’re talking – alone, at that. Though I think I understand what they both went through – are going through – I probably won’t ever really know it.

That’s probably for the best.

 

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