Gale opened the door and took involuntary step back to let in his neighbor across the hall, the only fluffy most peachy looking dragon in existence in his tiny world consisting of work and home. Instead he found there to be a human from upstair’s nest and he frowned, surprised by the sudden visitor. The little human woman came baring gifts, his nose told him, and his eyes fell lower where she was indeed carrying a small weaved basket with buns with various fillings.
“Hi!” Little Rat said with a wide smile as she pushed the basket further as if giving him food granted her a way in.
“Hi, Little Rat,” he began, taking the basket. “Come in.” He offered, remembering what he’d learned in his fieldwork classes. That’s how they communicated, the teacher had said, by offering little edible gifts. “Thanks.”
Well, who could say no to free food? Especially if it smelled so nice.
She let herself in and wondered around while he pushed one of the buns in her mouth. It was still too early in the morning and he hadn’t began making breakfast yet. He should, or he’d be late for work.
“Please don’t touch that!” He shouted a warning and coughed, choking on the bread. His voice was filled with agitation and from the corner of his eye he could see the human girl reaching her clumsy little fingers towards the postament that held his brother.
Her lips were moving, but nothing came out. But she pulled her fingers back and nodded. Right before the sun came out from behind the clouds and lit the room up. Including the small sphere on the table next to the arrangement of plants he hadn’t put there.
She jumped back, nearly flipping over a large plant with vines. He rushed to catch it, threw the basket on and bumped in her, pushing her further away from the ball. Suddenly the morning light hit it and lit it up like a small shiny source of light, bringing out the small figure curled up in there.
He glanced over at her. Her eyes were wide and he groaned. She saw.
“That’s an egg!” she yelped. “You’re keeping an egg here? Weren’t they suppose to be in a warm room with leveled temperature? Wait, why…” did it look like this?
Her fingers moved to touch it again and Gale didn’t care if she was Thorwald’s second or not – he grabbed her wrist and yanked it away, hard. Her eyes turned on him.
“Sorry, I… just…”
“It’s my baby brother. He got stuck in the egg when he hadn’t hatched yet.” he gave her a quick explanation She gasped. He figured she hadn’t thought about it before, that this could happen, but hadn’t they found her world in the first place, this wouldn’t have happened to his brother. But he didn’t say that, seeing her eyes widen, when the horror played out on her face with many possible reasons of why such a thing had happened.
Damn, he’d forgot – Bishop’s had a new brood, only weeks old. And here he was, demonstrating the woman what could happen. Thorwald was not gonna take it lightly. But he didn’t want her coming here, pitying it either. What happened, happened and there was no way for him to change it, no matter how much he wanted it.
He wondered if he should explain to the human that it was unlikely to happen? That this wasn’t usual and that it only happened if the egg got damaged just enough that its unconscious tried to heal itself or that in most cases the eggs were damaged so much they would just die.
He glared her down, to step back and leave.
“I didn’t mean to, sorry.” she apologized quickly and headed for the door. He nearly groaned, ready to call her back and explain the situation better, when she pulled the door open and let out a loud shout.
His outreached hands slumped back on his sides.
“Morning! So, you’re the human?” a husky male voice asked and a long dark fingernail poked quickly in her ribs, forcing her to step out of his way. Accark called out another greeting and then turned to look over his shoulder, humored, and grinned his thin toothed smile. There were many teeth in his mouth and even if he wasn’t using them as a threat, there were still too many for the human, for her eyes widened the second time, her shoulders rising to meet her ears and she used the free way for a quick getaway.
Accark was a sight to behold in early mornings, when he had just finished his grooming and his every feathery scale gleamed from the care put into them.
That, however, did not change the fact that he’d just scared the human witless, who would now go upstairs to cry on her chief’s shoulders, who would without doubt come to resolve the issue and thus ruin his perfectly normal day.
“You just had to go and scare the human!” he groaned and went to pick up the basket with the food. He would apologize later, he told himself, after he came back from work.
Accark’s fingers made a familiar jolt near the basket and before he could stop him, snatched one of the buns from there. Gale slapped him hard with his wing while he headed for his kitchenette to get a glass of water.
The dragon let out a quiet ow, still stuffed his mouth and moaned a second later. His attention span was worse than a child’s, Gale retorted as he watched his large body swoon straight towards the egg. The sun was still lighting it up and the dragon curled around the post it was on with practiced ease.
“He is so pretty today!” he said after he changed the angle of the post a little so it would fit with the seasonal change better – as he had once explained, when Gale caught him moving the pedestal – and was happy with the result.
He watched the dragon go through his morning routine and ate his buns in silence. It was close to a year since they learned of each other. Accark had tried to offer him a hand when he first joined the firm, despite knowing gargoyles did not shake hands with other flying creatures. He’d seemed so lost for being denied a handshake he bolted for the office and did not speak four words with him after that. Until he forgot to set his alarm clock and Accark, the fuzzy busy body like he was, had come to check if he wasn’t absent without a good reason and saw the egg – the ultimate prize any dragon could have in their treasure chest. And he just happened to know Accark had no precious treasure he could demonstrate for the rest of the world. A perfect, unharmed frozen egg. Priceless to any possessively obsessed idiot like a dragon.
At first he’d tried to keep the dragon away, but he kept following him home. Or he would show up in the middle of the night, his pink claws covered in dirt with a new rare plant he immediately wanted to be set next to the altar. Accark didn’t call it an altar, but that did not change the fact that he treated it as sacred thing. Week later the dragon had moved in the same house with him, on the same floor, across from his door. And so their weird neighborly relationship began.
Accark noticed the plant on the floor and doubled over to pick it up. He hummed as he set it back on its place, fussed more with the leaves and then nodded, satisfied with the results.
Gale hadn’t put any of the plants there. They all were gifts from Accark to his brother. Even the pedestal made of the purest white glittering marble the egg was now standing on was gift from the dragon to suit the dark marble swirls their eggs carried. Together with all the plants he’d moved from their growing habitat into pot and brought to give the place an outdoorsy feeling as he could never take it outside. The inner garden was followed by a very expensive painting hanging above his sofa because apparently “the empty space needed some color” and few weeks later also by a new sofa after his old one cracked under Accark’s sudden landing on it.
The dragon was taking over his place, making it look more like home than he had managed in four years he’d lived here. He hadn’t planned to stay for long, only taking up the work in the office led by dragons to pay bills, but somehow the years had come and gone and he was still there. Led around by them, still watching Accark fuss around his brother and courting him with gifts.
Suddenly the buns didn’t taste so good anymore and he stretched his wings before pushing the basket towards Accark.
“Wanna eat? We’re leaving soon.”
Accark was exception. He didn’t really stand him, just like he couldn’t stand the other four dragons running the office. If he had to pinpoint it down, he would say it was the mild looks the older dragon carried, his peachy colors that made him through off his safety and allow him in. He knew Accark was older than the wine red dragon, who was the leader of the gang slaving them around, followed by his branch managers, part of whom Accark was too. Banking. Fancy old way to say finances, or bookworm accountants. He’d only gotten the job, because he was familiar with the program after he managed his own nest’s…
Accark had emptied the rest of the basket and stood there now, observing him curiously.
Gale swore the way Accark looked like cotton candy made him act and look far younger than he knew the beast to be.
As if sensing his restlessness, he watched the dragon’s shoulders slump and the basket fell lower while the dragon pulled back, embarrassed. His suit looked way too big when he did that and the way his tale came hugging his legs…
“That is the other thing I don’t like.” He frowned, grabbing the basket from him and heading for the door. “Go ahead, I need to talk to Bishops before I go.”
The embarrassment was gone in a second and his tail uncurled, perky again as if he’d just patted him.
“What for?” He sounded curious, not moving an inch. Gale opened the door and held it for him. His flat did not come with the balcony for easy exit, he didn’t need anyone seeing it as an easy entryway. The dragon stared him down with all his might, but he knew what would happen anyway. Gale would not leave him alone there with the egg. Not in a million years if he could help it.
Accark marched out, huffing like a little kid. Gale could see his day going down the drain from there, sounding pretty much as the rattle his scales made on the hard wood floor when the dragon made its way towards the stairs. He’d be dirty by the time he walked all the way to the office again, moody too, because he would begin his grooming all over again and that took time. But for some reason, the dragon wouldn’t fly. In fact, he’d never seen under his jacket before, only the tips of the wings. Just like he’d never been in the flat across his own, only seen glimpses of it through the door. And what he could make of it, it was glorious.