Yes, I was singing "What is Love?" the entire day during and after writing this chapter.
"Luka, what is this?" I asked.
He'd been reading to me tons of books and stories over the…oh, what did Luka call them? Wreaks?
I had been trying really hard to remember everything he taught me. I tried slipping extra words into sentences, and he either corrected me or smiled in approval. I liked it when he smiled at me like that.
Still, it was a lot to remember. How did people's minds not explode from so much information to process every time they wanted to open their mouths? Luka said it eventually became second nature, but it took time.
He'd been coming over every day, like he promised, and though sometimes he got here late or he was pulled out by someone, he always returned. There was always a nagging in the back of my mind that he might be gone for good, or he'd come back saying that he couldn't visit anymore, but that fear was now pushed to the back of my mind with a lot more ease than before.
He was even sleeping with me whenever he didn't have to work at night, and it reminded me of the cage, so it wasn't exactly awkward. If anything, it was really nice to have him with me, protecting me while I slept. He was just smaller (not a giant wolf, I mean), not as furry (again, wolf thing), and we had a bunch of sheets over us.
"Hm?" He asked, looking over from his bag. I think he was bringing me something to make colors with on a white piece of paper. Pen-sills.
Like window sills, only with pens.
At least, I think so.
"What's this?" I asked, pointing at a picture in the book he'd been reading me. We had reached the end of it today, and I was captivated by the pictures.
"That's the wedding. The girl and that prince get married."
"Married. It means…mm…bonded in a way. It connects them for life, and it's a sign that you love them a lot. It means you trust that you want to spend the rest of your life with them."
"Love. It means…uh…really caring for someone. You get a feeling inside you that tells you that you like them in your life. There are tons of different types, strong ones, or weak ones. Either way, it symbolizes a bond between people."
"Why are they doing that?"
I pointed to the picture of the two people putting their mouths together. Were they trying to share food? Eww.
"They're just kissing. It's a way to show love."
"Maybe, but in the world we live in, we see it as normal. If you love the one you kiss, then it's nice. If you don't, then…it's awkward. Love is one of the most complicated things in the world. You can really only learn through experience."
"How do I do that?"
"You meet a bunch of people. Those that you get along with, they're your friends. If there's one friend that you spend a lot of time with and you think you like more than the others, then you might love them. Of course, it's entirely possibly for multiple people to all fall in love, but the more people, the more unlikely. It just depends on the situation, how much time you spend with them and how much you couldn't stand to be without them."
That sounded a lot like what I had with Luka. He visited me often, and I certainly liked him more than anyone else. He was really nice to me, and I can't imagine what life would be like without him anymore. Well, I suppose I can, but I don't want to. Did that mean I loved Luka? But he said there were multiple kinds. Strong kinds and weak kinds. I knew that I relied on Luka a lot, and I liked it when he was with me. Did that mean my love for him was strong? And what did it mean if it was? Did that mean I had to kiss him? How exactly was I supposed to do that? Wouldn't our noses get in the way? And teeth? Wouldn't that just be awkward?
"Do you wanna read something else, or do you wanna draw something? I have to warn you, I'm a terrible artist. I mostly just draw random doodles, but hey, who doesn't love a bit of color? Especially when you're cooped up in a white room for most of the day."
I did go out to the fountain very often, and there were tons of colors out there, but he did have a point that my room was pure white. I liked the white, but I was curious as to what other colors there were.
"Draw," I responded.
He took out a board and clipped a piece of white paper onto it before showing me a box filled with a bunch of color pencils.
"Pick a color you like."
There were so many to choose from, and to be honest, I liked them all. I ended up going for one color that looked similar to Luka's eyes, since they were really pretty. He showed me how to hold the pencil properly, but it was really hard. He ended up putting his hands on mine to guide it as we drew random circles and waves. We didn't really make anything in particular, but I was too engrossed in the feeling of his hand on mine, his entire arm and body lined up with mine too.
Why was my heartbeat speeding up? I was getting warm. Everything within me was shaking.
Was it Luka's touch that was causing this? That was weird. It was hard to really concentrate on my thoughts, though. It's like my brain wants to think about something, but figures that it doesn't have enough time to do so, and so it's giving up before it even starts.
What I could say fore sure was that I wanted Luka to stay next to me like this forever.
Luckily, it seemed Luka thought it was because of my writing capabilities, as he merely tightened his grip to steady my hand.
I turned my head slightly to the side to look at his face, and he seemed dazed out at the color on the page. He moved to switch out the pencil with another color before continuing, and I'm not sure if he noticed I was looking at him.
For some reason, my gaze wandered down to his lips. I suddenly felt the urge to find out what a kiss felt like, one with someone you really cared for. Not just anyone, though. With Luka and Luka alone. Did this feeling mean I loved him? I'd have to ask more about it to find out.
I knew that I really did like him with me though. I wanted him to stay with me, stay close to me, hold me, teach me things, laugh, smile, and everything in between.
I forced myself to look down at the drawing.
But what if Luka left if I did it wrong? What if it made him hate me if I suddenly sprung it on him? If he didn't think it was okay, he said it would make things awkward. Even if he still came and visited me, he wouldn't spend the night here like he had begun doing every now and then, he wouldn't hold me protectively and make me feel safe, he wouldn't teach me anymore. He'd probably ignore me at all costs to make sure I never tried anything again. I didn't want that.
The two of us jumped at Will's voice.
"Hey, can I come in?"
"Sure!" Luka called, moving away to put the color pencils back in their box thingy.
Will walked in with a brown paper bag in his hand and a drink with a lid and a straw.
"Hey. I brought you lunch, Luka. Just a burger, fries, and tea."
"Glad to know you and I are setting a good example for Zoltan by eating junk food in front of him."
"I brought tea!" He protested.
"Yeah, because you know I loath anything but. Except maybe water."
I mentally giggled. "Loath." I wondered what that meant. It sounded fun to try and say.
"Yeah, yeah, you coffee/soft drink hater."
Luka waved the drink so that the straw pointed at Will accusingly.
"I am healthy. One day, you are going to regret all those Cokes."
"I'm healthy! And I don't drink that much Coke!"
Luka took a sip of his drink with a skeptical face.
Will shoved his shoulder, making him break his stern face and end up laughing.
I looked between the two of them. There was a bond between them, that was obvious enough. Instantly, I felt…angry at Will. I couldn't find any other way to describe it.
Why was it so easy for him to get Luka to laugh like that? How much of a past did they have together? Much more than Luka and I had. They probably have many other memories to share together, while all Luka and I had were memories of trying to survive in a cage, and Luka being forced to teach me everything and struggle to understand anything I say in a conversation.
Luka probably liked Will more than he liked me.
"Hey, Zoltan," Will said to me.
"Hi," I muttered, trying to not meet his gaze and staring down at my feet with my wolf in my arms. Will still made me nervous, but I suppose he hasn't done anything bad to me yet, and Luka seemed to trust him.
Apparently, he was my brother, meaning we were born from the same parents. I'm not really sure if we look alike, as I've rarely ever seen my own face before, and it was hard to compare it to Will's side by side if I didn't have a proper image of myself in my mind. The mirror in the bathroom seemed to show I at least looked sort of like regular people, with eyes, a nose, a mouth, etc. Luka even showed them to me, pointing them out and labeling them.
"What are you guys doing?" Will asked.
"Drawing," Luka said. "Well, sort of. More like squiggling lines of color." He held up our multicolored spaghetti on the page. "Zoltan's still working on holding the pencil properly, but I have confidence in him. He likes learning."
"I think he just like you teaching him," Will commented.
"What's that mean?" Luka asked, sipping his tee. Why he was drinking a letter, who knows?
"Oh, nothing. Anyway, give me some fries. I paid for that meal, I want my share."
Luka opened the bag and pulled out a cup-like thingy filled with yellow/brown things.
"Sweet, you got a large."
"Duh. What part of "give me my share" do you not understand? And I got two burgers, one for me, one for you. I know Zoltan can't have solid foods yet, but I did get him some milk."
He pulled out a small bottle of white liquid and passed it to me.
"Max says he's handling liquids all on his own now."
"Yeah. His trans-system is adapting pretty well. She's still worried about his taste buds, so he's gonna have to have some pretty bland food at first."
"Can't wait until we introduce him to chocolate."
"I can't wait until we introduce him to a lot of things."
There was a knock on the door before Max poked her head in.
"Luka? Hey, can I talk to you for a moment? It'll just take a few seconds, don't worry. Will, you too."
The two of them nodded and headed out with her.
I stared at their food. I wished I could know what it was like to eat with them. Maybe I could try and build up my trans-system for solids and surprise Luka for next time Will brought lunch. I bet Luka would be proud of me. I wanted to make him proud of me.
The only way to build up my trans-system was to eat a bunch of things, right? At least, that's what I've gotten from everything Luka, Max and the nurses have been saying to me. What if I try a bunch of food while Luka isn't watching, and then the next time William brings lunch, I can surprise him by eating without trouble? By actually having something normal about me for once?
I grabbed a fry thing and found it was covered in little specks of white things. I brushed them into the cup of fries until there were barely any left. I could do this, right? I knew it was going to be hard in the beginning, just like when I had started out with liquids, and when I had first tried a cherry flavored thing with Max, but I was stronger now.
If I wanted Luka to be proud of me, then I had to learn to do something on my own. I wanted to see him pleased with me. I wanted to make him smile because of something I did. I wanted to make sure he never found a reason to leave me or get tired of me.
I…I wanted him to love me.
And so I took a deep breath and braced myself before taking a bite.