The clouds were magnificent today, a fleet of great rolling cotton balls that caught the sun's rays in their cavernous bellies, their edges aglow in a sliding scale of reds and oranges while they cast dappled shadows across the landscape stretched before her. An otherwise drab sea of bleached sandy dunes was transformed into an enchanting painting made entirely through shadow; the crests of the gently sloping hills, the craggy outcroppings, and the occasional shallow canyon artfully directed a legion of black shapes into an elaborate overlapping dance of esoteric geometry that marched steadily onward as dusk crept toward the fated sunset.
From her perch atop the rusty red column of rock she bore witness to all its beauty.
The horizon's edges have long since transitioned to purple with the warmer spectrum of colors chasing it down, heralding the inevitable arrival of the sun. But, if she craned her head backward, she could still see the immaculate periwinkle blue that filled the gaps between the white fluff that sailed through the sky.
They lazily floated through the air, weightless, seemingly innocent in their aimless drifting. But if it were not for their greedy appetite for light, she would have been given only a mundane, regular sunset, which she had seen plenty of before. She gave silent thanks to the clouds in appreciation for their intricate play of light, how it performed upon both earth and sky to produce a wondrous display that truly made her evening.
Who would have thought that such innocuous things, ostensibly insignificant before the great sphere of fire that was the sun, could command the light with such effortless grace?
A small - yet hardly innocuous - burp rudely interrupted her poetic analysis of the scenery.
Still looking up, Vanth frowned at the pristine balls of fuzz.
Or maybe she was giving the little shits too much credit.
She tilted her head forward to direct her irritated gaze toward her small companion.
Maybe all their wonders were accidental byproducts of their ridiculous abilities.
Whip, staring off into the horizon, unaware that his bodily functions had disturbed her, crammed the rest of the sandwich into his mouth, razor sharp teeth clamping shut with an audible snick.
It was less than half of its original size, yet that one portion was nearly as big as him! How could he even fit all of it inside his tiny body, much less swallow the damn thing whole? And it was his third sandwich!
Oblivious, he leisurely chewed his meal, his cheeks ballooning outward to astounding size before deflating to more modest bulges. His red eyes took in the view with innocent fascination, his ears tilted back in a relaxed posture, his long legs sticking up in front of him while his incredibly long tail wrapped around his seated form, curled in long coils beneath his blanket.
His tail twitched, eyes narrowing, his munching slowing to a crawl. His ears perked slightly as he wriggled a bit, shifting beneath the fabric in a futile attempt to shrug off the sudden discomfort. Unable to bear it any longer, his head swiveled around, searching for the source of his unease.
He found Vanth's solid pink eyes, piercing his very soul above a disapproving frown.
He froze, startled by her fierce expression, his cheeks still bulging. Keeping the rest of his body perfectly still, he slowly swallowed, the rounded swells instantly flattening with an unintentionally obnoxious gulp. No conservation of matter was evident, no swelling of his stomach, the food disappearing into the black hole that was his stomach.
Dear Spirits, he's a cartoon.
Trying to ignore the comical absurdity of what she just witnessed, Vanth crossed her wings.
``That wasn't very romantic.''
Whip's head tilted to the side in a confused expression, one long ear snapping up to stand straight upwards while the other's tip brushed the sandy rock beneath him. After a few seconds of consideration, he straightened, both ears flapping up before swiftly flopping down, limp.
``Tersh ick weh zah,'' he said in Whip-ese. He rubbed his soft, white belly with one of his stubby arms. He then held up both limbs, top halves of each bent away from his body in an exaggerated shrug. ``Yengh fleshvah vey.'' He dipped his head slightly, a sorry look on his face.
She couldn't understand a word he said, as expected, but she was now familiar enough with him to get the gist of what he's trying to say, with help from some exaggerated body language on his part.
Sorry, but what did you expect?
That was her best guess, anyway.
Dammit; how does Mace do it?
Whip's personal language consisted of squeaks and chirps that appeared to be completely random in nature, giving absolutely no indication of grammar, objective definitions, or even basic syntax. Yet, Mace effortlessly translates every word flawlessly - and in real-time, too.
Looking at his adorable little face, her annoyance melted away. With a sigh, she softened her frown, going from disapproving to weary with a slight tint of sad.
This ``language barrier'' was the biggest roadblock in their relationship.
Well, if you could call what they had a ``relationship.''
They had not known each other for very long and a short while ago they would have barely qualified as friends. But, on that magical evening two days prior, Whip gave her a gift of profound value, beyond the scope of chocolates, stuffed animals, rings, and other petty baubles, a gift whose memory still haunts her dreams and fills her heart with a desperate need for more at even the slightest thought of it.
He showed what it felt like to fly.
How did he know? She never told him or anyone else on the base.
Bast knew about it. Would he tell Whip?
No - that isn't like him.
Perhaps all it took was one look and the little guy simply understood, reaching into her soul with those red eyes of his to pick out her oldest, dearest, and saddest desire.
Did such empathy occur because they share so much in common? Or was that an integral part of him, a quality developed by being a silent observer of others, constantly overlooked as a mere pet or otherwise an individual of little significance? Maybe he enjoys being that way, flitting about at the edges, ignored but ever present.
Regardless, no one had ever done anything that came close to what he did for her.
She had to thank him, repay his kindness. A simple ``Thank you'' would have sufficed; Whip seemed the kind of guy who would appreciate sincere gratitude.
But she didn't do that.
Seized by broiling emotion, tantalized by the possibilities, she instead did what felt natural, the appropriate compensation for his efforts - she kissed him.
And he kissed her back.
It was not something that could be taken back or forgotten lightly. Plus, she didn't want to.
She wanted this. Needed this. And she was pretty sure he felt the same way.
When they finally returned to the Troika base they were surprised to find that no one noticed their illicit outing. Vanth could understand why she wouldn't be missed; she hardly knew anyone else there besides Bast and it's been too long since he ever bothered to note her presence, especially now that he has Lilith to obsess over.
But for Whip...
Even though he has friends that care about him, sometimes he becomes invisible to them, too. She thought that at least Mace would notice his absence - those two normally stick to each other like glue - but ever since Mace and Namah...
Maybe Bast isn't the only one obsessing over something nowadays.
Guess that was another thing they had in common.
There was a bright side to it, though; they had ample opportunities to discuss where to go from there, in what capacity they could.
The conversations were decidedly one-sided, eventually boiling down to charades and Yes/No exchanges. She still didn't know exactly where they stood with each other, but they were at least able to formulate a plan of action, though decidedly short term.
Due to the communications difficulties, Whip took the reins and planned out the majority of the excursion, which resulted in her being ignorant of most of the details. She suspected that he preferred it that way and was using it to his advantage with the intention of surprising her. If so, it was kind of sweet of him to make the effort.
Though they never called it as such, it would technically be their first real date.
It was more of a test really, to tentatively explore this new territory and see where it would take them. Neither them were experienced in romantic relationships, after all; from what she gathered from the others and Whip himself, he had never had any kind of relationship with girls beyond the platonic and her only experience was with Bast - and she remembers well how that turned out.
After much frustratingly slow deliberation, they finally agreed to a time that would capitalize on their newfound inconspicuousness while allowing them to avoid the sentries that guarded the base's perimeter. Since it was Whip's show, he was responsible for leading them to the location and for bringing along anything they might need.
When she met him at their meeting spot, the little guy was sitting atop of a storage crate, one of the smaller, rectangular ones with insulation for heat-sensitive goods, such as food or certain medicines. He was adamant at not letting her open it and, rather rudely, mimed that she would be the one carrying it.
She was initially quite insulted, especially given her lack of usable digits besides her incredibly clumsy thumb-claws. He lacked fingers, too, but he was the one with the telekinesis Power, not her. Hell, he's also the guy in this prospective relationship; making the girl carry the shit is a terrible way to start off a first date.
Her hasty judgements turned out to be premature. As soon as her two claws hooked through the crate's handles, its weight suddenly disappeared, the whole thing becoming almost as light as air. Whip then hovered before her, blue halo floating above his head, grinning as he pointed her toward the exit.
She quickly recognized his logic; using both their strength to ferry the heavy load instead of putting everything on one person. Ironic that she was the rude one, assuming that he should float everything along even though she knew full well the heavy toll his Power could have with extended use. Still, short distances shouldn't be too much for him, given the extravagant flying simulation he once flew her through, so either their destination was far from the base or he was saving his strength for something else.
It was the latter.
They successfully snuck past the guards, Whip occasionally dropping his halo to prevent its glow from being spotted. Once out of sight of the base, Whip maintained his telekinesis, leading her out into the surrounding desert. After about twenty minutes of hiking through the dunes, she spotted the lonely column of rock, jutting into the sky.
At the base of the formation, Whip took a few deep breaths before his halo flared in intensity, forcing her to squint against the glare. With an abrupt tug that gave her vertigo, he launched them and their cargo upwards, soaring to the top of the column. He then gently lowered her and the crate onto the flattened platform before plopping onto the dusty stone, panting from the effort.
Before she could begin to appreciate their surroundings, Whip swiftly recovered and hopped to his feet, tapping the crate to get her attention. With his stubby arms, he flipped open the lid to reveal several carefully wrapped packages laid next to a couple of thermoses, nestled upon some neatly folded blankets. Not missing a beat, he nimbly leapt into the container and picked up one of the packages, balancing it across his arms and proffering it to her.
With her claws, she gently slid under the edges of the paper wrapper and pulled it apart to reveal a sandwich.
It was a picnic.
It was simple, pure, and unbelievably cute.
Kind of like him.
On his own, probably with the aid of his Power, he had thrown together a dozen sandwiches, thermoses of hot cocoa, and three thick, fluffy blankets. She originally questioned the exorbitant amount of food and the unnecessary number of blankets, but her silent criticisms were quickly addressed. His rabid devouring of the first sandwich reminded her of his disproportionate appetite and when the chilly autumn air sliced through her fur-less skin, she was sincerely grateful for his foresight in bringing more than one blanket; the thinnest was spread over the hard stone for them to sit on while they wrapped themselves in the remaining two, keeping them comfortable as the sun slowly withdrew its warming rays.
How he managed to pick out such a perfect spot, she could not say. There was little time for him to slip out and explore the surrounding area. But other than that, the only other possibility was that he snuck into the briefing room and peeked at maps of the Diony desert.
No doubt - he went all out on this one.
Was he that desperate for a connection?
Wouldn't she be, too, if she was in his place?
...wasn't she already in his place?
Her heart sank a bit as she contemplated how sad it all was.
And, yet, after silently enjoying the breathtaking scenery that he brought her to see, eating the food he made, cuddled in the blanket he provided, she lasers in on one little burp and says, ``That's not very romantic.''
Spirits, how could she be so horrible?
She let her eyes drop to the sandwich cradled in her wings, nestled within its wrapper, an overwhelming guilt coming over her.
``Sorry, Whip,'' she said quietly.
His reply was instantaneous, a slight sense of urgency in his tone.
``Ih! Ih! Morweh geh peeki!''
Hey, hey! It's okay, don't worry about it!
He really wants this to work.
He was probably worried now, berating himself for the breach of dating etiquette while countless conspiracy theories bounced around his skull, wondering if there was anything else he could have possibly done wrong and how he could make it up to her.
Was she overthinking this?
It did boil down to a few simple things.
She didn't know him. No, she really didn't.
But how can you get to know someone who is physically incapable of speaking an understandable language?
Only Mace could understand him, be there to listen to his problems, talk with him about his life, his dreams.
She couldn't do that.
He could do that for her, be there for her, listen for her, but she couldn't reciprocate.
She couldn't deny that she longed for someone like that, ever since Bast ditched her, but could a one-sided relationship like that go anywhere, or even last for long?
He wouldn't mind that, or at least would try not to mind. He would keep on trying, willing to settle for half a relationship - better than having none at all.
And she would just be using him. She couldn't do that, not after all he's done, after what little she has learned about him, about how kind, thoughtful, and unexpectedly brave he is.
This was going nowhere. Nowhere but an inevitable heart break.
Her head drooped, the sandwich beginning to slip from her grasp as she struggled to find words.
Should she call it off now? Throw a band-aid on it, stalling until later? Or say nothing and leave him with uncertainty?
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw him tip-toe toward her, tentative little steps that betrayed his own indecisiveness, his blanket discarded despite the cold wind. She lifted her head a little to see wilted ears and concerned eyes.
They were beautiful eyes. Red normally bestowed an aggressive, predatory aura over most Dreamkeepers, but while his could certainly fit the bill when needed, they were now soft, sad, and lost.
She wanted it to work, too. She really wanted it to work.
She lifted her head to stare at the horizon, the sun nearing the end of its steady journey through the heavens, the final beams of light flowing around the gentle clouds as dusk prepared to give way to night. Stunning bands of purple, orange, and red blossomed outward across the land and sky, the undersides of the pristinely white puffs serving as the perfect canvas, reflecting the array of colors in a spectacular display.
It was beautiful.
He tried so hard, so very hard, but she tried just as hard long ago and look where that got -
She stiffened, the sandwich escaping the wrapper to flop onto the blanket.
``Feh..?'' came Whip's worried and confused squeak.
She was overthinking this.
And, like the brainless fucking tard she was, she almost threw away something that she would never find for the rest of her life.
Fate dropped him right into her lap, on a silver platter, and she was - what? - psychoanalyzing the whole thing?
He isn't Bast - Bast couldn't make her fly. Why bother comparing the two?
Whip made her fly.
It was the most wonderful thing of her life, beyond the mere peck that was that stupid kiss from Bast, all those years ago.
And, from what she's seen so far, there's plenty of more wonderful hidden behind those red eyes.
Maybe she couldn't be what he needs, but that's a `maybe,' not a `definitely.' She could at least bother trying.
What is a speech impediment before what they could have, right now? What a laughably insignificant obstacle it is before something that could last a lifetime?
And, even if it crashes and burns, it could still be worth it.
Shaken from her revelation, she faced him with a confused frown.
Looking even more anxious, probably fearing that his date is turning into an inexplicable disaster, he slowly pointed at the blanket before her, where her forgotten sandwich now lay.
She looked downward, a bit surprised at her carelessness. Returning to Whip, her mouth formed a sheepish grin.
``Eh, sorry about that, Whip.''
Relieved by her smile, he relaxed a bit, but remained a little tense. She regarded him for a few moments, contemplating the proper course of action before settling on a straight-forward approach.
``Hey, Whip,'' she began. His ears lifted to attention.
``I was thinking that - ''
She stopped as a short burst of freezing air whirled about their quaint set-up. It was light, the blankets and food wrappers fluttering a bit but otherwise remaining stationary. However, the cold cut through Whip's tiny, unprotected body, causing him to shiver.
Without thinking, she bent forward and cupped him in her wings, the thick membranes shielding him from the biting air. She then pulled him inward, eliciting a startled squeak, hugging him to her chest and harboring him safely within the confines of her own blanket.
Curled up in her arms, he bypassed his previous levels of adorableness into the realms of unbearably cute, managing to even beat out Harmony's charm as a teeny little neko pup.
Shocked by the sudden transition, he laid against her, paralyzed. Or maybe it was because of his new location. He was nestled next to her breasts; he could be nervous about accidentally touching her, or he was stunned by the fact he was so close to a pair owned by someone who didn't think of him as a pet - or an annoying perv.
``Um, anyways,'' she said nervously, ``I was thinking that I should - I mean, well, I want to learn Whip.''
He tilted his head, his anxiety replaced by guarded confusion.
``I mean the things you say,'' she clarified. ``I want to be able to understand you, actually talk to you - no more of this charades crap.''
He folded his arms, looking dubious.
``Wenthreki fah vala fef. Keh ley.''
She didn't bother with puzzling out that one and assumed that, based on his tone, he was doubtful that she would succeed.
``I could ask for Mace's help - '' she continued.
``IH! NEH!'' he exclaimed quickly, shaking his head vigorously.
She giggled a bit at that.
``I know, I get it. I want to keep this between us, too.''
He nodded earnestly. ``Weh!''
Maybe she was better at this than she thought.
``But that means I have to learn everything from scratch. It'll be hard, and take a while.''
Another nod, a slow one this time.
``And I don't just want to understand Whip.''
He stared at her, head tilted with a puzzled expression.
``I want to speak Whip.''
His mouth dropped open as he gawked at her incredulously. She responded with a deadly serious look.
``I'm not joking. I really want to learn it.''
He spread out his arms, looking unconvinced. ``Teh gresh yey dewengh. Bweth ca fesh.''
I don't think so, lady.
She bent in close, causing him to flatten against her breasts, wary of her intentions. She flashed a mischievous grin.
``I want to be able to talk with you, in front of everybody, and have them not understand a word we say. I want to see Mace's shocked face when I start gabbing Whip like a pro.''
She pressed her nose against his, looking right into his eyes.
``I want to do something that no one else has ever done for you, understand you like no one ever has.''
After she leaned back, Whip let out the breath he was holding, likely relieved that she didn't gobble him up.
``Besides...'' she continued, in a more casual tone.
He eyed her with cautious curiosity.
``It's a pretty cool thing, having your own language. I doubt anyone could claim that.''
He blushed furiously, pulling his tail in close while he rubbed his arms, embarrassed.
She bet no one had ever complimented him in that way. To everyone else, everything about him was a disability, a defect; everything that made Whip Whip was a mistake, something to be lamented, not proud of.
She was going to make him think differently.
Now, to seal the deal.
He perked up, a small smile on his lips as he looked up at her expectantly.
``Is your mouth clean?''
``Eh?'' he said, once again confused.
``Your teeth and tongue; you got food stuck in there or what?''
After a few seconds of mystified staring, he opened his mouth wide displaying a circle of deadly sharp teeth wreathing a black hole, a small, pink tongue within. She didn't see much, the teeth pristinely white and no evidence of residue on his tongue; looks like he savors every particle of his meals.
Didn't mean his breath wasn't horrid, but it wasn't like they had any gum on hand.
He slowly shut his jaw, eyeing her warily.
Keeping him safely seated in her wings, she carefully reached forward to grasp the steaming cup of coca she had yet to finish, gingerly lifting it to her lips to take a few sips. She sloshed the liquid around, using it as a poor substitute for mouthwash, hoping that it would wash away any icky globs of food stuck between her teeth and chase away any sandwich breath she might have.
It felt incredibly stupid. But she was committed now and at least some precautions should be taken. Chocolate is a good taste and smell, right?
Meanwhile, Whip regarded her with complete befuddlement.
Finished, she replaced the cup and turned her attention to Whip. She resisted the temptation to fold her arms as she considered the best approach. Seeing the gears turning in her head, Whip folded his own arms and stretched out, eyes lidded as he patiently waited for whatever she was plotting.
Cobbling together a halfway decent plan of attack, she steeled herself.
Slowly, she withdrew her wings to each side, Whip sliding down her hoodie a couple inches before he took the hint and lifted himself, hovering in more or less the same position, uncertain of her intentions. She offered her left claw, sliding it beneath his folded arms. He grasped it and she dragged him through the air, leading him to an upright posture in front of her face.
Her right claw came from the side, gradually drawing toward his face. He shied away from the wicked hook initially, but after a quick glance at her amused grin, he relented and allowed the touch. His blush intensified as she dragged the outer curve softly across his cheek, grazing upward to slide over the top of his head, stroking down his long ears. She could see his jaw muscles working, the poor guy trying to figure out if she was merely petting him or if it was an intimate caress.
It was a little of both.
She shifted her left claw, gliding it out from under his arms to settle beneath his chin. Applying light pressure, she adjusted his view until he was gazing directly into her eyes. Her wing started pulling inward, drawing him closer. His eyes grew wide, a slight tremor of anticipation buzzing through her arm, Whip at last realizing what she was doing. That or he was terrified that she was going to eat him.
He would find out soon.
She finally took note of her beating heart, thrashing frantically against her ribcage.
She closed her eyes.
First contact was awkward and blunt, her slightly parted lips bumping against his own, firmly closed ones. Whether from shock or anxiety, it simply wouldn't do. She opened a bit more, pressing softly yet insistently against him.
He was taught with tension, trembling ever so slightly against her lips and claws. She imagined his bulging eyes, flicking to and fro as he desperately tried to figure out what to do. Or, perhaps, they were stock still, staring at nothing, his brain taking a minute to reboot.
Just as she began to lose hope, she felt a subtle change in his stance. Soft fuzz brushed against her skin as he opened up to her, uneven breaths breaking against her teeth and tongue. It was a tentative `yes' and an invitation for her to continue.
She had to take it slowly and, most importantly, with great care.
Her experience with kissing - actual kissing - was painfully limited to a single example and what little she learned would be of no help here. She could accidentally bite through his lip, swallow his head, or even snap one of tiny bones. She had no clue about his limits; she had to tread lightly.
Problem was that she hadn't really thought that far ahead.
Spirits, he was just so small; what the hell was she supposed to do?
Timidly, she tried to catch his lip with her own. It was a fumbling effort, her minute motions overshooting their mark.
Preparing for another attempt, Whip suddenly pressed in, his head tilting upward and to the side as he took hold of her upper lip, using his small size to accomplish what she could not. Surprised, she paused, letting him take the lead.
She gasped as she felt tiny pin pricks across her sensitive interior, sharp teeth nibbling along her mouth. She squirmed a bit, face heating at the weird sensation.
What the hell was he doing? Did this even count as a kiss? She didn't remember any biting from her first kiss, but that was hardly representative of the greater paradigm of kissing. Maybe plenty of couples did it all the time. But how would Whip know, anyways?
Then it got weirder.
His tiny tongue darted out, gently probing the underside, the slippery thing gliding side-to-side, stroking her flesh.
She kind of liked it.
They were such freaks.
She'd have to be, to fall in love with a weirdo like him.
The corners of her mouth twitched into a smirk. She had no experience with tongue stuff, but unlike the kinky nibbling, she heard plenty about tongue stuff; she could give it a whirl.
She adjusted her angle of attack and widened her stance, lower teeth scraping against his chin. Her tongue rose to lick across his fur and settle against his teeth, pressing against them in a wordless request for entry. He accepted her offering, releasing his grip on her lip and stretching wide.
The tips of his pointy gatekeepers tickled her as she slid in, slipping across his own tongue. It was not a surrender, however; he fought back, his organ dancing through a surprisingly enthusiastic arsenal of stabs and wraps, wrestling with her. It was a losing battle from the start, size overcoming any strategy he could come up with, but he didn't seem to mind.
Her body was responding, heat flushing through her like wildfire. She fought greatly to keep her motions restrained and gentle as she eagerly repaid his efforts with her own brand of tongue sparring.
She barely noticed the peripheral taste of chocolate that only partially masked the aftertaste of her sandwich, but she was so caught up in the moment that she had no problem pushing the intrusive sensations out of her mind.
Without thinking, she bent forward, Whip effortlessly flowing with her movements. With a muffled pap his back hit the blanket beneath them. Laying over him, propped up on her elbows, she excitedly broke into more elaborate maneuvers, her restraint evaporating as she moaned into his mouth. Her claws ran up and down his body, his ears, his legs, massaging his muscles. She rubbed the membranes of her wings against his fur, relishing the luxurious texture.
Whip matched her passion with his own aggressive tactics, admirably meeting the ferocity of her lips and tongue with his own. She felt his arms rub against her cheeks, the tips of his feet reaching up to flick at her ears, his tail curling around her head to tickle beneath her chin. Instead of moans, he produced high-pitched whines accompanied by the rare muffled squeak.
All semblance of cohesion vanished as their efforts dissolved into an awkward, messy, anarchic make-out session. She would've thought the whole thing disgusting if she wasn't having so much fun.
Eventually, after who knows how long, her lungs began to burn and she reluctantly broke the connection for fear of suffocating the little guy.
Panting and exhausted, she lifted her head to look down upon him.
She immediately clapped a wing to her mouth, cheeks ballooning as she frantically tried to stifle the laughter that threatened to burst from her throat.
Even more beat than she was, Whip laid on his back, his limps all stretched out in a big X, his tail sloping upwards, hanging limp around her neck. His eyes were shut, his mouth dilating in a perfect O as he gasped for breath. His entire face was damp, his blue fur dark and muffed, sticking up in every direction. If she hadn't been responsible, she might have thought he'd just surfaced from a dive in a deep lake.
She felt her chest muscles contracting as hiccups tried to escape past her wings. Her efforts were proven futile as a loud snrk broke out.
His eyes opened blearily. Still half-lidded, he frowned up at her.
She dropped her wings, smiling apologetically.
``Um, sorry, Whip, but it looks like I got you a little... wet.''
His eyes narrowed, not getting what she meant. She lifted a claw and mimed rubbing her cheek. Understanding that, he gingerly brought an arm to his face and scraped the end against his own cheek.
Those red eyes snapped open to comical proportions as he stared straight ahead. He then abruptly sat up, looking at his now moist nub in disgust.
That one must be universal.
Frantically, he began wildly massaging his face with both arms, trying to dry his fur. Letting her laughter go free, she dragged a corner of her blanket to him.
``Heh, here - take this.''
He snatched up the fabric and vigorously rubbed his face in it, making several cute noises of disgust as he did so. Soon enough his face was reasonably dry and he used his arms to flatten out his fur, looking remarkably like a neko cleaning himself.
He was just too cute.
She observed his ministrations with quiet contentment, lying on her side.
While he put on the finishing touches, she gazed beyond Whip toward the horizon.
The sun was sliding below the desert, a purple shroud chasing it down, leaving behind an inky black speckled with the bright, twinkling points known as stars. The nearby clouds had darkened, their soft contours sharply defined in shadow and the few remaining edges of light, reflecting the dying rays. Beyond, the rest of their fellows had fallen into the void, the only evidence of their existence being the gaping holes in the field of isolated lights that stretched up and over her.
Dammit. They were going to be late.
He halted mid-motion.
``It's getting late. We have to get back before anyone notices.''
``Keshi,'' he chirped.
Guess that means okay.
The clean-up was quick, thanks to Whip's handy Power. She briefly considered the danger of his blue glow, shining out across the night as a beacon highlighting their position. She immediately discounted the notion. Nobody knew about the Troika base and, besides, the Diony Desert was too fucking big - who would be willing to patrol the vast domain of sand and its burning days and freezing nights on the unlikely chance they might a super-secret, cleverly hidden Troika stronghold?
Everything packed into the crate, she wrapped her wings around herself, shuddering in the night air.
He twisted in the air, shivering slightly, looking at her with a small smile.
She put on an exaggeratedly seductive expression.
``Would you be a good boyfriend and float me on down?''
A brief blush flared up at the casual acknowledgement of their relationship. For a few seconds, his guard slipped and she saw boyish, star-struck love on his face. Her joking countenance melted before the warmth of that look.
He swiftly recovered and he settled into a cocky posture, a smirk on his face.
``Yehweh leshi wengh roo.''
She grinned back and prepared herself for the descent. However, she quickly learned that her translation might have been a little... off.
I can do better than that, would've been more accurate.
She yelped as she felt a strong force lift her off the column and send her zooming forward. Panic gripped her for a moment before she realized that she wasn't falling.
A familiar sensation began to grow in her, chasing away the chill of the wind as it whipped by her.
Vanth's goofy grin illuminated by Whip's blue halo, they soared through the sky, a shooting star in the night.
It wasn't until the next morning that they realized they forgot the crate and its cargo of picnic supplies.
But, hell, they didn't care.