I was horribly, horrendously, unbelievably lost.
How could I tell? Well, probably because I was in the middle of a desert next to a highway.
Last thing I remembered, I was falling asleep in a forest.
It wasn't the first time magic messed with me. I had a bad habit of annoying rather powerful creatures. Who could blame me, though; it was so fun to tease the supposedly invincible guys. But I thought I got away scott-free from the last one, because I (somehow) managed to get a wizard and his crush together…buuuuuut he apparently just decided to teleport me when I was snoozing.
How dare he ruin a perfectly well deserved rest.
Anyways, I had absolutely no clue where this desert was. A different place? A different world? Or was it all just an illusion? I decided to play it safe and hid my ears and tails.
The sun was beating down on me. I generally liked warmth, but this was just insane. I hoped whatever civilization was here (or maybe there was none) was advanced enough to have AC. Probably, considering the stretch of asphalt before me.
Fortunately, it wasn't long before a bright orange car came into view. I whistled; I didn't know models, but I could tell that the thing was expensive. I stepped onto the road, my thin sandals barely keeping the scalding heat from destroying my delicate feet.
The car slowed down and pulled over as I waved my hand. The driver rolled down the tinted window, revealing a sunglassed, tanned face.
"Hey," I chirped sweetly, trying to look as cute as possible. "I'm kinda lost. Could you bring me to…uh…wherever you're going?"
They guy just stared at me like I was crazy. I mean, sure, a random girl by a highway in the middle of nowhere trying to sweet talk a strange man into giving her a ride without any thought of potential repercussions was pretty weird, but that definitely didn't deserve that look. Right?
My smile faltered and I fidgeted a bit as he continued looking. Was he secretly checking me out beneath those glasses? I blushed a bit at the thought.
"Get in," he said finally, turning back and raising the window. I let out a small cheer and jumped into the back.
The inside of the car was a light beige and air conditioned. I let out a contented sigh as I basked in the coolness, stretching out on the seats.
"What are you doing?"
I turned my head slightly to look at the mysterious driver. His eyes were solidly focused on the road as we moved-I hadn't even noticed that we started, so three cheers for the suspension-even though the way ahead was completely empty and straight.
"Relaxing," I replied nonchalantly.
"Relax later. Buckle up now."
"I thank you for your concern, but I-"
I let out a shriek as the car suddenly braked and I crashed onto the floor. Screw you, suspension.
"WHAT THE HELL!" I shouted, rubbing my face and picking myself up. "THERE ISN'T ANYTHING ON…this…road…"
I trailed off as I looked out the windshield. A giant, grey elephant was slowly walking across the highway.
Where the heck did it come from?!
"It's probably lost from its herd," the man suddenly said. "And yes, you did say that out loud. It also seems like it has a brain disorder."
I closed my mouth, and opened it again.
"I can tell," he started again, cutting me off, "because of the way it walks. That's too slow. And see how it stops every step or so to look around, as if it's confused? Plus it's gait is stiff and wobbly. No doubt some neurological deterioration. And before you ask, I can predict your questions because they're so obvious."
I closed my mouth again, miffed. "Well, then, Mr. Know-It-All, how are we going to get past it?"
"It'll probably be killed in a few minutes. It can't be more than what, a month old? Nothing that young lasts that long out on the plateau."
I blinked. "Wait, what?"
Instead of him answering, the elephant suddenly let out a terrified shriek. The next second, a dragon the size of a small skyscraper crashed into the animal. The elephant was pinned to the ground by a set of wickedly sharp, bloodstained talons. The predator bit down onto the neck and twisted, instantly killing its prey.
I stared at the scene, horrified and shocked. The dragon, its pure black scales glittering, turned towards us. It looked through the windshield with one piercing, intelligent blue eye.
I held absolutely still, hardly daring to breathe. My host, on the other hand, nonchalantly stared back.
The dragon pulled back before letting out an ear-splitting roar, the soundwaves taking my consciousness with them.
My head was pounding when I woke up. I groaned and pulled the covers over me. I was definitely not ready to wake up.
Then I realized I never remembered going to sleep.
My eyes shot open and I practically leapt out of the bed. I calmed my breathing and looked at the room around me. Solid grey drywall (hey, my favorite color) with a dresser, nightstand, mirror and door. Oh, and the bed I was sleeping on.
I slowly approached the mirror and looked into the reflective glass. My features changed with each different world. In this one, my hair was black and frizzled. I let out my tails and ears to check them as well. My ears were solid black to match my hair, while my nineteen tails (one for each millennia I had lived) were black with white ends. I was my average height (5'1") and my skin was a bit darker than usual; about the same shade as the man I met on the road.
Oh yeah, that's was probably how I got into the room.
I turned slightly green as I remembered the dragon attacking, but it was quickly shoved aside for relief and curiosity. How did we get past that gigantic beast?
I turned to look at the door; its stark white color contrasted with the rest of the room. I hid my fox-appendages again before I cautiously approached it and reached for the handle.
"So, you're awake."
I let out a hideous cry before jumping up so high my head hit the ceiling. I fell back down and clutched my head, groaning. I looked up to see the man who drove me casually leaning against a wall in the back corner. I swore he wasn't there before.
"Quite a reaction."
"Shut up," I mumbled, unsteadily getting back up on my feet. I let my tails reappear, along with my ears. No point in hiding them after my superhuman display.
"A kitsune, eh? Cool. I'm assuming you like Asian cuisine."
I raised an eyebrow. "Yeah…"
He gestured towards the bed, where a plate steaming rice and curry was invitingly sitting there. My stomach growled and the scent, and before I knew it, I was over there, the plate empty. I sheepishly glanced at my host, my hands and mouth stained.
The man showed no reaction to my annihilation of the food other than a very slight smile. "Want more?" he asked, his tone even.
"Wash up. The bathroom is directly across from the room. When you're finished, meet me in the kitchen."
"Alright," I said as he left.
When I entered the kitchen, another plate of rice and curry was sitting on a mahogany table. The floor was a solid slate of marble, and the dining area was separated from the cooking one by a counter. In front of a stove, the man was cooking something, a delicious aroma spreading through the air.
I quietly sat down in a chair and started eating the food, this time with utensils. "So," the man said, not looking up from his work, "what's your name?"
I swallowed a mouthful of rice. "Precinct," I replied, before filling my oral cavity again.
"What were you doing in the middle of the plateau?"
"Why were you there then?"
"I was teleported."
"Some wizard. I got him and a witch together, but he ended up sending me away anyways. Jerk."
The man looked at me from the corner of his eye.
"There are no wizards in this world."
"Well, then I was teleported from a different world. It wouldn't be the first time."
He raised an eyebrow. "Oh? Seems like you had quite the number of escapades."
"You could say that, I guess," I said as I finished my meal. "But what about you? What's your name?"
"I go by many."
"Oh, wow, thanks for the clear answer," I replied dryly. "How about you just tell me something I can call you by."
He thought for a minute. "DK," he said finally.
"Like the video game character?"
He sighed like he got that question a hundred times. "No, not like the ape. You can call me Kal, if you prefer."
"Oh," I replied, a grin forming on my face. "What if I call you Kongey?"
"Then I'll stop feeding you."
I shut up after that.
Something was off.
I mean, I've travelled through dimensions. I've seen a lot of things. I've learned to roll with the punches, and I've seen others do the same.
But really, two weeks and not a single question as to what I was going to do?!
Kal simply integrated me into my life…which meant he ignored me until he had to do otherwise. He gave me a room, meals every day (om nom nom), showed me his videogame collection for "entertainment" and then left me to my own devices.
Even when I was being annoying as hell, he just kept his calm, emotionless face and dealt with it. It was actually quite irritating; whenever he shoved me off of him, he did it with a look saying "You're so below me it's not worth getting worked up over you."
Excuse me SnobbyFace, but I am a very interesting and top-tier person! I mean kitsune!
Finally, I snapped.
"Alright, what's the deal?" I asked while he was cooking. He was wearing an orange tee (I learned that it was his favorite color) and some blue shorts.
"Hm?" he asked, turning around. His brown eyes, so dark that they bordered on black, bore into mine. I shifted slightly under his gaze, but held my ground.
"Why are you ignoring me?"
He raised an eyebrow. "I'm not."
"Yes you are!"
"I'm talking to you now, am I not?"
"Yes, but you usually don't! It's just 'here's some food goodbye!'"
His lips curved upwards slightly as I pouted.
"Well, what's the issue?"
My mouth dropped.
"'What's the issue?!' I'LL TELL YOU WHAT THE ISSUE IS! I'M LEFT HERE, ALL ALONE, WITH NOTHING TO DO! I'M FUCKING BORED OUT OF MY MIND!"
"I showed you my videogame collection."
"I DON'T PLAY!"
"…this is why I ignore you."
"EXCUSE ME IS YOUR ENTIRE BASIS OF A SENTIENT BEING BASED OFF OF VIDEOGAME SKILLS?!"
"…It wasn't always."
I stopped shouting. "Huh?"
"Dinner's almost done. Sit down."
"No, wait, what did you say?"
"I said dinner's almost-"
"No, not that. Before that."
"This is why I ignore you?"
"No, after that!"
"Dinner's almost done-"
I threw my hands in the air, exasperated.
He smirked. "Eat your food. I have chocolate for dessert."
It was only much later that I realized that he probably had said that to distract me.
"I'm boooooooooooooooored," I whined, entering Kal's room. He looked up from his computer, minimizing whatever he was doing. He always minimized it when I came in.
Ignoring his action, I flopped face-first onto his bed. I breathed in his scent from the sheets; it was light, like an air freshener, with a hint of citrus and vanilla.
"You always say that," he replied in his usual monotone.
"That's because I always am," I said. I turned my head from the sheets to look at him.
He thought for a minute. "Well," he said slowly, "we're almost out of chocolate. You can come with me to harvest some."
My ears perked up. "Wait, really?" I asked excitedly. Then his choice of words caught up with me. "Hold on, 'harvest?' You mean we're getting the cocoa beans?"
"No," he replied, standing up. "Just follow me and you'll see."
I slid off the bed and trailed after him as he navigated throughout the house.
Now, the mansion had a lot of windows, so I got glimpses of a lush jungle with an eternally colorful sky outside, as well as a lone mountain off in the distance, just a faint smudge against the horizon.
But, as I said, the place was a mansion. A really, really, really big mansion. I didn't know who designed the place, but they clearly meant it to be a maze. As far as I could tell, we were several floors up. Even though I spent about a month in here, I only ever got one floor down.
Being essentially trapped in the building was stifling, but Kal ignored my requests (read: begging) to go outside. I quickly learned why one day, when I was looking outside to see a goat carcass the size of a tree thrown across the canopy, followed quickly by three fighting, shadowy blurs.
I stopped asking to leave after that.
Nevertheless, I was excited to finally get to see the outside world. I wasn't too afraid; if Kal could (somehow) get us past a gigantic dragon, he could probably handle whatever came our way.
We ended up winding through a maze of hallways before reaching an elevator. My eyes widened at the number of buttons; there were a few hundred above ground, and what felt like a thousand below it.
Kal punched the -5th floor button, and my stomach flew up to my mouth when the elevator dropped like a stone, slowing down just soon enough so that the abrupt stop a second later didn't knock me to the floor.
Still, I was holding on to Kal for dear life. Poor guy probably had his circulation cut off from his entire arm. As usual, he showed no reaction beyond a slight wince.
When the doors finally opened, I bolted out and collapsed onto the floor.
"I think I'm going to be sick," I moaned.
"You'll be fine," Kal grunted, flexing his arm to get his blood flowing again.
"Stop over exaggerating and get up. Some fresh air will help you."
I grumbled but acquiesced.
We started walking down a featureless, grey hallway. I looked around for any sign as to where we were going, but all that was different from the concrete were the lights above us. Every sound we made echoed eerily; I was afraid to speak.
Finally, we reached a set of doors. Kal pushed them open, and my jaw dropped.
In front of us was a gigantic, circular room. The edges were filled with machinery that did god-knows-what, and the ceiling was shrouded in shadows. In the center of the room, there was…
"Is that a spaceship?" I asked softly.
"Kinda," Kal replied. "Think of it as an extremely upgraded fighter jet."
The vehicle was smooth and sleek, resting on the ground with no apparent wheels. It was just high enough to stand in, and just long enough so that it didn't look fat. The wings started from a bit behind the cockpit and gradually expanded until they reached the rear. A tail stretched up so high it doubled the height of the craft. The orange chassis gleamed, even in the dull, yellow light filling the room.
Kal approached the ship as I was gawking. Before he even reached it, a door in the cockpit automatically swung open.
"Say hello to the Avalon," he said, turning around and gesturing grandiosely. "The plane of the future, built today by yours truly."
I couldn't do anything but nod dumbly as I followed him into it. I settled myself in the copilot seat and stared uncomprehendingly at the console before me.
"Don't worry," Kal chuckled, catching my look, "you don't need to do anything. Just sit back and relax."
He buckled himself in and pushed a button. A soft humming filled the air as the Avalon lifted gently off the ground. I craned my neck to see if I could see how it was flying through the window, but I couldn't catch anything.
"Anti-gravity," Kal suddenly said. "And a bunch of other things that you probably won't understand."
I settled back in my seat. Then something occurred to me.
"Wait, what does the Avalon have to do with harvesting-"
I was cut off as we suddenly shot up through the air. I was pushed back into the seat, but I could tell that something was muffling most of the force. Kal didn't seem to be affected at all; he just calmly gripped the control.
Suddenly, there was a loud grinding noise. Light started fill up the area as we continued our ascent; I assumed that the ceiling was opening.
I stared out the window; in the brief moment before we exited, the light reflected off the perfectly curved metal of the wall in a dazzling array.
Then they grey was replaced by what could only be described as an explosion of color.
The vegetation was dense and green, with rich shades of purple, red, blue and yellow thrown in. As we rose, I saw that the treetops extended for miles, unbroken except for the lone mountain-no, plateau, I realized. Was it the once I arrived on? How did we get down from there then?
The sky was an eternal kaleidoscope; it was dominated by blue, but had streaks of every color in the rainbow dancing across the clouds. The sun was nowhere to be seen, but it just allowed me to observe the scenery without fear of being blinded.
The craft gradually slowed down before starting to move forward. Then, in what I was figuring out to be Kal's classic sudden acceleration fashion, the craft instantly broke the sound barrier and whipped through the sky.
The ground was a green blur as we picked up speed; I wasn't sure how fast we were going, but it felt like Mach 50.
The earth below us abruptly turned blue as we flew over the ocean. I was marveling at the light reflecting off the waves when something occurred to me.
"Whoa whoa whoa whoa," I said, leaning back from the window, "where are we going exactly?"
"You'll see," came the infuriatingly unhelpful reply. I knew by then, though, that I wasn't going to get anything more out of him. Even so, I huffed and crossed my arms, pouting in my seat. Kal's lips curved upwards into a smile.
"You know, I never heard you laugh," I said suddenly. For the first time that trip, he looked over at me.
"It's true though. I just realized it." I paused for a moment, thinking. "Is it because you can't? Are your vocal cords damaged or something?"
He stared at me like I was an idiot.
"What?" I whined.
He continued staring.
"You know, you're so mean," I said angrily, looking away. "I'm not as smart as you, okay? You don't need to rub it in Mr. Meanie Poo-Poo."
A chuckle. I turned towards Kal, eyes wide.
He let out another. And then another. And then he was laughing. Actually laughing!
The sound was…unique, to put it mildly. It was beautifully high yet gorgeously low at the same time; so innocent, yet just barely avoided being a stereotypical evil laugh. The sounds both created a discord or harmony, depending on how I listened to it. For that moment though, I decided on "majestic."
I grinned in victory, even though the reason he was amused was because of my idiocy. Oh well, you give and you take.
Then, all of a sudden, he just stopped. His eyes grew distant, as if he was focusing on something that wasn't there.
He shook his head, and refocused on the sky in front of us, his arms tense.
"There. Happy now?"
I flinched and moved away at the harsh tone. I've been told mean things before, but for some reason, when it came from him, it was a billion, trillion times worse.
His shoulders relaxed and his eyes softened once he looked over and saw the pain in my eyes. Or face. Or maybe he could just read my mind?
"Sorry. It's just…I have a reason I don't usually laugh, okay? Brings back memories."
"Sad ones?" I asked carefully, scooting closer.
"No. Happy." His tone was begging me to stop asking, and I complied.
We sat in silence for a few minutes, me brooding about what just transpired, and him debating internally about something. Finally:
"Alright, I'm probably going to regret telling you this, but…"
I leaned closer, eager to hear any secret about my still mysterious host.
"I'm ticklish. Really, really ticklish."
It took me a moment to digest the information, during which Kal calmly unbuckled his seatbelt and activated the autopilot.
I then leaped at him, but he darted out of his seat. I carried momentum forward, flipping through the air and landing on my feet.
Kal dashed through the door, and I set after him, a malicious grin on my face and my hands twitching.
"Slow down!" I yelled as I chased him through the craft. The Avalon was a lot bigger on the inside. And by that I mean that it was like walking into a tiny shed only to find New York inside of it.
Right outside the cockpit was typical passenger area, though I had no idea who Kal would be transporting. I hadn't seen another soul during my stay here. Following that was an empty cargo hold, and then some kind of laboratory. I was careful to not break any of the probably expensive glasses.
Next was a full-sized movie theater, followed by another one of his game collections (seriously, dude, how do you have so many and why?!) and a room filled with various consoles. Then there was a bedroom with a full bathroom.
We bolted through a dining area and a kitchen before entering a gigantic walk-in fridge.
"Cold cold cold cold," I squeaked, hugging myself and picking up the pace to get through faster.
I finally caught up with him at a large cargo bay. It was empty and poorly lit, though my enhanced vision had no trouble making out Kal's figure standing at the opposite end of the room.
"We're here," he suddenly announced.
"Huh?" I asked in confusion.
"Tell me, Precinct, how do you do with heights?"
"Um…I don't know."
"Well, this is a good time as any to find out."
Before I could ask him what he meant, the floor gave out from under me.
It took me a solid three seconds to understand that I was free falling through the air before I started screaming. The wind whipped through my hair in a frenzy, and the cold made the fridge that I had walked through seem like a bonfire.
I tumbled around in a panic before a set of hands grabbed on to me. Kal oriented us so that we were facing each other and looked into my eyes.
"Precinct, calm down."
"CALM DOWN!? WE'RE PLUMMETING THROUGH THE AIR FROM GOD-KNOWS WHAT HEIGHT AND WE'RE GOING TO DIE AND YOU TELL ME TO CALM DOWN?!"
I was in hysterics; I never felt so scared in my life.
"Precinct, we'll be fine."
"Do you trust me?"
I paused my panic at the question. Did I? I wanted to say no, but that would feel like a lie. After all, he had shown me nothing but kindness since I arrived, even if he was aloof.
"…Yes," I said slowly.
"Then enjoy the moment. You won't have many more opportunities to go skydiving."
I swallowed and nodded. I was still terrified, but I slowly stretched out my body parallel to Kal. I didn't let go of his hands though; I held on to them tightly, ignoring the fact that mine were probably disgustingly sweaty.
I looked at the area below us for the first time since I started falling. A small, brown island was surrounded by a pristine ocean. My breath hitched; without any disturbance, the waters were a perfect reflection of the sky. If it weren't for the rock that we were heading towards, I would've felt like we were just falling for eternity.
Kal pulled in. I looked at him questioningly.
"I don't want to risk anything," he said simply.
I wanted to say that he was being a bit hypocritical since he dropped us out of a hypersonic jet, but he hugged me against his torso.
My face turned beet red, but I didn't resist. Instead, I hesitantly circled my own arms around his body. He was perfectly warm; hot enough to heat up my bones, but not so much that it was uncomfortable.
I could've stayed there forever.
I nuzzled into his chest, enjoying the hug. Even though I trained myself to flirt (I gave up on it because I was so bad, but I still did it sometimes), I never was on the receiving end of any affection. Usually it was just annoyance or grudging acceptance.
Ba-dum. My ears perked up a bit at the sound of his heartbeat. I tilted my head a bit, positioned it over his heart, and…
Jerked away. As I had pressed my ear against him, a single, burning cold spot stabbed at me. It was tiny, about the size of the eye of a needle, but the sensation was so stark it might as well been the size of the planet.
I looked up at his face to ask him why he had such a part on his body, but whatever I was going to say was brushed out of my mind at the sight of his wings.
Yes. Wings. Who would've guessed?
I hadn't noticed until then that we were slowing down, but we were. The wings spread out from his back. Each was larger than his body and were made out of a soft, golden light. They were almost too bright to look at, but they were mesmerizing. They outlined what appeared to be angel wings, but there were no details and they just slowly faded out of existence, rather than having any defined edge.
We settled softly against the ground, and the wings vanished. He didn't let go of me, though, and I didn't move away.
Our faces were close together; I had unconsciously moved up onto my toes. Any embarrassment that would've been there wasn't; it was just me and him.
We moved a bit closer…and then everything caught up with me.
I took a half step back. Kal didn't stop me; instead, he blinked, like he was in a daze, before stiffening and walking away.
"H-hey!" I called after him, unsure of what just happened but feeling giddy from it anyways, while a small sliver of disappointment wormed through me.
"Follow me," he said. I faltered at the tone; it wasn't harsh, like on the Avalon, but it was emotionless and apathetic. After hearing him talk (relatively) openly, the voice sounded foreign to me.
I didn't answer, but my sensation of happiness vanished. I let out a little sigh and looked around, and then did a double take.
To my right was a mountain. Nothing to unusual about that…except it was solid chocolate. The top was surrounded by cotton candy clouds and covered in ice cream. A river of liquid fudge stickily flowed down its. Licorice grass covered its slopes and the ground we were on. Lollipop flowers dotted the landscape, interrupted by gumball bushes and trees sporting various other candies.
I couldn't help it; I started drooling.
I spared Kal a half second glance before sprinting towards the peak.
"My tummy huuuuuuurts," I moaned, leaning against the cargo bay wall.
"You shouldn't have eaten that much," Kal replied sternly, setting a large bucket of mined deliciousness to the side, along with several others.
"Why didn't you stooooop meeeeeeeee?"
"I was too busy laughing."
I groaned, my stomach aching. I seriously ate too much; I felt nauseous. Kal looked at me with sympathy. He disappeared inside the main body of the Avalon before coming back with a pill and a glass of water.
"Painkiller and digestive," he explained, proffering the medicine to me. I accepted and gulped it down with water.
I blinked in surprise as the pain faded. "Whoa. That worked fast."
"Did it? I made it, but I never had a situation to test it."
"You made it?! That's-HOLD ON THIS WASN'T TESTED?!"
He blinked. "Um…no. I don't get stomach aches, so…."
"SO YOU USED ME AS A TEST SUBJECT FOR A DRUG THAT COULD'VE KILLED ME!?"
"Now hold on-"
"AND DON'T YOU THINK THAT I FORGOT THAT YOU DROPPED ME OUT OF THE SKY WITHOUT ANY WARNING!"
"…I was actually hoping you did."
"WELL I DIDN'T!"
I jumped to my feet, my tails flicking around agitatedly and my ears standing up straight. I let out a threatening growl, and Kal nervously stepped back.
"Now, Precinct, let's be reasonable-"
I launched myself at him. This time, he wasn't able to dodge.
"OH GOD PLEASE STOP!" he begged as he started laughing. I grinned and continued tickling his sides. He tried to jerk away, but he was pinned to the floor and couldn't move. He let out an uncontrolled kick; I nimbly avoided the blow and increased the vigor of my assault.
He had given up reasoning with me; instead he was filling the room with that weirdly nice laughter of his, gasping for breath.
I was having so much fun that I didn't notice his hand sneaking towards me. I jerked away as it brushed my side.
"Oh, so you're ticklish too, eh?" Kal smiled maliciously from his position.
Before I could run away, he flipped me over, switching our positons. He ran his fingers along my torso, lightly drumming against my skin.
To my eternal shame, he managed to reduce me to a mess in less than a minute.
"Oh…God…please…stop," I gasped, weakly twitching as tickled me mercilessly. Seeing my state, he finally relented and stopped.
Without his sensation, I was able to calm down and focus. I quickly realized the position we were in: with him leaning over me, and me laying down before him. Suddenly feeling exposed, I crossed my arms over my chest. I blushed and looked away; if I thought that him holding me while we were falling felt awkward, it was nothing compared to this.
Apparently Kal noticed too, because he abruptly pulled away, allowing me to unsteadily get on my feet. He supported me as I shakily made my way to the cockpit, though we didn't look at each other the whole way.
I couldn't help but enjoy his touch, though.
"Watcha doing?" I asked, plopping myself on the couch next to him.
It had been two months since our chocolatey adventure, and we've grown closer. It wasn't too much of a difference, and it was gradual, but it was still apparent.
It started off with Kal paying attention to me more, and he no longer used his apathetic voice. I managed to make him laugh a few more times, but every now and then, he would just freeze up and then return to his original self. I didn't get it at all, but he always became friendly again, so I didn't press the issue.
I also started cuddling with him. After he held me during our skydive, I started craving for that perfect warmth. I was hesitant at first, but while he seemed surprised, he didn't stop me. Quite the opposite, in fact; instead of doing whatever on the computer by his desk, he started working on his laptop on his bed or the couch, where I could curl up next to him.
It was that which I was doing now. I balled up a bit and pressed myself against his side, relaxing my body as I contently took in his warmth. He was less tense too; I could feel his body softening at my touch. I closed my eyes, basking, before cracking open one and looking at his laptop.
"Nothing much," he responded vaguely.
"Oh, come on!" I protested. "You always say that!" I beat my fist lightly against him to emphasize my point.
He rolled his eyes but relented and showed me a screen filled with gibberish.
"Okaaaaaaay…" I said slowly. "What does this mean?"
"I'm working on a hologram system for the house. You can pull it up anywhere, at any time, in any position. And you can do things like turn on the lights or browse the internet or whatever."
"That's…actually really cool!"
"Yeah, but it's gonna be hell to make and implement. For example, how will the projection work?"
"I guess you're right…"
He closed the lid to his laptop and put it to the side, before leaning back and rubbing his temples.
"I'm working with nanorobotics to fix the issue, so hopefully that'll help. Finding the cure to every disease and ninety-percent of all injuries was a good bonus too."
I stared at him.
"What?" he asked.
"You make Einstein look like an idiot. And let's not even talk about me," I pouted a bit before resting against him again.
"Sorry," he chuckled, swinging an arm around me and pulling me closer. He rested his chin on top of my head.
We sat there, simply enjoying each other's presence. He stiffened a bit when I trailed a hand across his chest, letting it rest over his heart.
I could feel it pulsing, but I could also feel that tiny cold spot. It stung my skin, but I ignored it and pressed against it.
The unspoken question hung thick in the air: what was this?
Whenever I asked him beforehand, he always looked away and refused to answer. When I got more persistent about it, he just shut himself from me for a few days. I eventually gave up, realizing that I wasn't going to find out.
What hurt me the most was the fact that he didn't trust me to know. I thought we had closed the gap between us after we flew on the Avalon, but he was still closed-mouthed over a few things.
I dropped my hand, making a small fist on his leg at his refusal to elaborate. I looked up at him, ears flat against my head. He averted his gaze from mine, looking stoically at the floor in front of us.
I pulled away from his embrace, missing the warmth already, but the atmosphere had become uncomfortable after what I did. Kal looked at me sadly.
I got up; it felt weird to be just sitting there and staring at each other. I felt his gaze on my back as started heading towards my room.
I turned around, looking at him.
Kal was staring at his hand, as if searching for some sort of answer there, before clenching it and looking at me with a fragile resolve.
My tails raised in anticipation; was he going to tell me what that cold spot was? Was he finally opening up to me?
He opened his mouth.
And a shockwave rocked the building.