“My heart still hurts from you.”
“Why are there two?”
Wren glanced at his brother from the corner of his eye, trying to gauge his reaction to the (perfectly legitimate) question they had just been asked by their Madam. When he saw the slight jump in Raven’s jaw, he knew that his brother was trying to keep his laughter in check, so Wren jumped in to respond.
“Because we… sort of got another one?” He ended lamely, shrugging.
“Why?” She pressed, looking past the boys to the patio, where the new arrival was talking animatedly to Drayce.
“Because he just sort of…appeared.” Raven answered, glancing behind himself to the window, frowning when Drayce sent him a sly wink.
“Un-huh.”She deadpanned, looking between the two of them.
“I believe she expects us to, well, negotiate.” Raven supplied, looking to his brother.
“Yes, but last week a dragon almost set my hair on fire, so it’s your turn to negotiate.” Wren shot back.
“Oh for goodness’ sake!” She exclaimed, throwing her hands into the air. “I’ll go negotiate!”
She stalked out of the room, muttering under her breath about twins and dragons and flaming hair, and the boys both turned to watch her through the window.
Drayce stood as soon as she appeared in the doorway, the tall brunette bowing his head to her before he turned and motioned to the silver-haired man who had hurried to his feet, smiling brightly as he took their Madam’s hand and kissed the back of it.
He was as tall as Drayce, but with a lither build, his silver hair cut short, where Drayce’s long dark locks tumbled down his back. His skin was almost more tan than Drayce’s, and it stood in stark contrast to his hair and ice-blue eyes.
He talked animatedly to the woman as she joined them at their table, sitting between the two of them, visibly relaxing the longer the three of them chatted.
Raven was just about to suggest that they leave the trio to their own devices, when their Madam stood, and returned inside.
“Well?” Wren prompted. “What’s the verdict?”
“Arian is staying.” She smiled back, clearly pleased with herself. “He’ll be making a nest in the mountains, probably northwest of Drayce’s own. Is that agreeable with everyone?”
Wren and Raven shared a sly grin before schooling their features and looking back to their Madam, speaking in unison.
“Perfectly agreeable, Madam.”
“Madam? What seems to be on your mind?”
“I just needed to get away for a little while. That’s all.”
“Away, Madam? Away from what?”
“Ah. Why might that be, Madam?”
“My wrists itch when I’m around him. I don’t like it.”
“I imagine not, Madam. That must be very uncomfortable.”
“In more ways than one.”
“Well you can stay here as long as you need, Madam, as always.”
“Thank you, William.”
“If I may, however, I would make one request.”
“Of course. What is it?”
“Do not scratch.”
“I’m trying, William.”
“I know, Madam. But I want to be sure.”
“If you are set on bleeding, however, I would be happy to keep you company while you did so.”
“You’re such a romantic.”
“I do try, Madam.”
“Thank you, William. You succeed.”
“Hey, can I come in?”
“Yeah, yeah, of course. What’s up?”
“I just… I can’t be alone right now.”
“Okay… Wanna talk about it?”
“Sure, okay… Why not come here? Get comfy?”
“Don’t thank me. I feel weird just watching you stand in the doorway. The least I can do is offer you a corner of my bed.”
“How was your day?”
“Good, fine. Not a lot happened… Did you do anything exciting today?”
“I wanted to kill myself today.”
“…Is that why your wrists are red?”
“I took my nails to them.”
“It hurt. It was nice.”
“Don’t make a habit of it.”
“I wasn’t planning to… But it might happen again.”
“You know, I can think of better things for you to do with your hands, if you really need to.”
“I mean, there’s always coloring, or videogames, or me.”
“Heh~ there’s that smile I love… C’mon, let’s do something fun.”
“I was thinking coloring in your gazebo, but I mean, I’m not against that at all.”
“You know me so well! Alright, let’s do something that doesn’t involve nails and wrists.”
“Oh, then you are out.”
“If I ran… Would you try to find me, now?”
Iratosh stood with his arms folded, tongue flickering out curiously to taste the air around him as the room buzzed with energy and conversation. Technicians hurried back and forth in fluttering lab coats, eyes alight with glee as they poked and prodded their prizes.
The heart sat on a pedestal to one side of the room, wires and circuitry flowing out of it like lifeblood, the black organ twitching every now and then when a technician walked by and tapped at the containment jar experimentally.
The brain, on the other hand, took the spot of pride in the center of the room, a blue glow surrounding it as it bobbed in the clear liquid. They had yet to try and connect with it, aware that any attempt to do so might be met with resistance. They would likely only have one chance to make the connection, and so had waited until the Admiral had arrived.
The Repatian turned to look at the Apatian woman who hovered by his elbow, an eyebrow flicking up at her as she smiled.
“If you would, please, step back behind the barrier. If anything were to happen, we would prefer it not happen to you.”
Ankiline let out a soft chuckle and nodded, following her behind a clear barrier that covered one end of the lab. He sank into one of the seats; arms still folded, and watched the technicians buzz around the heart for another few moments.
“We’re ready to begin, Ma’am.” An aide scurried over, speaking in an undertone. “Just give the word.”
The doctor nodded, once, then tapped her fingers against the screen before her, pulling up a chart. The heart’s diagnostic information was there, blinking in multi-colored lights.
“Let us begin.”
Ankiline yawned behind a large, scaled hand, tongue flickering out to taste the chemical-laden air. His nose wrinkled at the acrid taste and he lowered his hand back to his lap, watching as the doctor and her aides peered at screens and numbers, interpreting data as it flickered across screens at unimaginable speeds.
He knew approximately 5% of what the information was, cell structures and blood analysis, but he played at paying attention to be polite to Beryl and her staff. After all, it simply would not do to have an Apatian on his bad side, let alone a brilliant one like Rae Beryl.
After another few frantic moments, the staff stilled, and Iratosh perked up, shifting his attention back onto the doctor, his smile sharp.
“Find anything of use?” He asked.
“Many things.” She replied, tail flicking back and forth excitedly. “But you do not care for hearts, do you, Admiral?”
He grinned, inclining his head. “You know me so well, Doctor Beryl.”