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08 August 2018 @ 12:23 pm
_Meet the Family_ part 2  

"I thought I heard you." He looked like he was fighting off sleep. He looked like hell. "Tit for tat? Come to see me at my scarified worst?"

She thumped down beside him, into his embrace, hiding her face in his shoulder, hugging him back. "Orde sent me. The Newsies are driving him crazy asking if he's heard anything."

"You, of course, weren't worried at all."

"Course not." She leaned back and studied him. "What happened."

"I ran into a batch of honest-to-god cyborgs. Lasers, bullets, grenades, and finally a flamethrower. It was a bit exciting there, for a bit. I ran like hell. Pretty much the end of the story."

"Why?"

"I dunno. They took one look and demanded I surrender. I said sure, take me to your leader, I want to talk to them about cross-dimensional cooperation. They said, sure, once we've got the control chip inserted into your brain. I suggested we discuss this first. They opened fire. In retrospect, trying to keep talking instead of just traveling out wasn't a good idea."

She reached over and poked his scalp. "Is your hair going to grow back? I dunno about the spottiness, but being you, you could set a new trend." The patches of untanned skin over his face and shoulder made her queasy. How badly injured were you?

"I may have set a new personal record. He wiggled the fingers of his left hand. "At least I didn't loose any important body parts this time, the fingers are almost healed."

But not tanned, and the fingernails are still growing back.

"Well, since I'm awake, I ought to eat. Have you had dinner?"

"No, and you have no idea how tempted I was by that inn. The aroma!"

"The local witches preempt the kitchen for informal cooking contests. Unfortunately you're going to get whatever I accidentally order from the kitchen fabber."

"Accidentally?"

"Yawning while poking buttons can yield unexpected results." He pried himself off the stairs and led her to a kitchen out of a museum. "It's been bubbled a lot of the intervening time, so it isn't really fourteen centuries old. We use it a lot more, now that we know we can just go and buy a replacement."

"Grab drinks." Xen's father spoke from behind them. "Rustle's bringing dinner up from the Inn."

Xen snickered. "Is Rael about to get the whole 'examined by the parents to see if she's suitable' treatment."

"Yep."

***

Rustle Neverdaut was a slightly older, female version of Xen, from the curly brown hair to the tan skin. Well, maybe the first impression was misleading. Her blue eyes were bright, her nose straight. Xen had the blue eyes, but as accents in black, like his father's warm brown. And father and son shared the arrogant arch of the nose.  

She handed the sack she was carrying to her husband . . . pet? . . . whatever, while those bright blue eyes studied Rael. "So we finally get to meet the infamous Rael."

Infamous. The woman who tried to kill your son.

Rael swallowed, her stomach tightened and suddenly those odors from the sack were almost nauseating instead of delicious. "I, um, am pleased to finally meet you?" She hadn't intended that to come out so . . . fearfully?

Xen chuckled, and slung an arm around her shoulders. "Don't worry, they've never eaten a single girlfriend of mine, so far as I know."

A snort from his father.

"Okay, they may have tossed a few out the front door . . ."

A sniff from Rustle. "Those weren't girl friends. Those were predatory witches. And the Farmer girls! Are strong Oners as attractive to women as strong magicians?"

"Yes." Rael looked up at Xen. "I thought you were a wizard, not a mage?"

"I'm both, everything. We use the term magicians for anyone with power. Mages, wizards, witches, and gods." Xen eyed the sack. "So what's for dinner?"

"Bottomless pit!" Rustle pulled plates out of a cupboard and Wolf opened the bag and started pulling out boxes . . . folded heavy waxed paper containers.

Xen pulled a chair out of a corner and gestured her into it, sat beside her. "Hopefully I won't fall asleep in my . . . Chicken alfredo. Umm, it's a favorite of mine—depending on who's cooking."

Wolf grinned. "Some of the younger witches . . . forget ingredients or get creative when they take turns cooking. They have sort of an informal rotation, and pretend it's not a contest."

"It's how the younger witches earn their pocket money." Rustle filled plates and handed them around. "Or the witches who don't think grubbing around in the mountains is fun. There's an old volcanic area we mine for diamonds, plus garnets and of course, gold, out in the New Lands."

"The New Lands . . . that's the desert around your mid-continent spreading ridge, right?" Rael Stabbed a bit of chicken . . . garlicy creamy cheesey . . . her stomach unknotted and demanded more.

"Right." Rustle nodded, and looked worriedly at Xen. "I'd say, get Xen to show you the Rip, but he's not . . . quite safe to be around half asleep, like this."

"I'm awake!"

"For the next few minutes." The Wolf's smile faded as he looked at Rael. "When we're healing, and in and out of this coma-like state, and in and out of vivid dreams—we cannot tell the difference between dreaming and these brief wakenings. The next time he awakens—three or four days his time—he will have to ask us if you really came, or if he just dreamed it. And you really don't want to be near him if, for instance, he dreams that he accidentally hurt you."

Xen made a protesting noise and swallowed. "Great, now I can have nightmares about that. And anyway, I don't think I'd actually, physically, create injuries dreamed of as accidental . . ." He eyed his father.

"No, I never have. But Rustle knows to stay away." The Wolf exchanged grins with his wife. "Very hazardous, seducing a sleeping god."

Xen rolled his eyes and looked at Rael. "That's why my genetics are so interesting. Ignore them. They don't seem to realize that old people are supposed to be stogie."

Rael snickered. "Someday . . . Oh One! Never mind! I don't want to even think about introducing you to my parents!"

"My reputation. Hmm, could be interesting."

 
 
 
(Anonymous) on August 9th, 2018 04:03 am (UTC)
This is fun.

However, I think you mean "stodgy" rather than "stogie". (Or is it too early to nitpick?)

--TheOtherSean
(Anonymous) on August 9th, 2018 03:12 pm (UTC)
Uh-huh, SURE Rustle knows to stay away. That's why she has TWO kids with interesting genetics. Anyone want to bet on Wolf not adding a third if he gets his brain or body beat up again?
Getting whacked over the head, or drunk on his own Wine, seems to be about the requirement for him to be willing to have a baby, anyway . . .

Holly
(Anonymous) on August 10th, 2018 04:08 pm (UTC)
Quicksilver was conceived on a romantic wagon trip, not while Wolfgang was sleeping for a year. Xen was conceived while he was sleeping/dreaming, but Rustle was desperate at the time and was quite ashamed of herself about it.
(Anonymous) on August 11th, 2018 05:45 am (UTC)
Quicksilver was engineered, however, after Wolf tried to follow the Earther's mind through the Earth Gate and got himself a good case of shock.

Holly