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Half a Decade
The kid was happy. Happier than I'd seen him in awhile. Maybe since we ate so richly from the greasy dinner with the money we got from protecting the Enchanter during his summons of the balrog three days ago. We ate like rich men—well the kid did, I ate like a rich goblin-dragon descendent hybrid. Like humans the fay were becoming more at peace with inter-species breading. Anyway, after that oily feast we went back to our more money-conservative ways; but still the big bundle of paper money was looking smaller. Usually the kid would start getting anxious for another job. Another reason why this extreme happiness was a little unnerving.
“What's with the face?” I asked as we walked by a reflective shop mirror. I saw myself in the guise my spell created. I was shorter than the boy (I wasn't self-conscience of my height enough to change that...not that I could anyway), darker skinned and with almost no hair compared to him.
“What face?” He asked me, the goofy grin still tugging at the edges of his lips. He looked into the window before we disappeared from it, then back to me. “This is my face. Five years with me in the human world and you still can't get used to a human face?”
“Trust me,” I said, “a decade, hell, a quarter century even, still wouldn't be long enough to get accustomed to your faces. You look about as runny as a sludge monster, and pinker. Thankfully, your not quite as ugly. Although you smell almost as strongly.” That made him laugh. Can't get used to your laughs either; they're far louder than ours, but somehow still sound more joyous. “But really, why are you smiling so widely?”
“You made me laugh,” he said. I grunted and a wisp of smoke escaped my scaled lips. We watched it diffuse and blow away. The kid turned to me, his smile less wide, and said “We should find someone to help you with your flaming periods.” That got us both laughing; mine a cross between a wheeze and a hiss, his noisy and thunderous. We collapsed onto the side walk and leaned against a wall. Eventually we stopped and held our aching stomachs as people stepped or stumbled over our legs. One of the boy's post-chuckles turned into a yelp of pain as a woman with high heels failed to notice us. She apologized under her breath and continued on her way.
“Let's stand up before that happens again,” the boy suggested. Then we were back on our way to the nearest flower shop to buy flowers to place at the boy's mother's grave. Luckily they had snowdrops, the mother's favorite. He bought fifteen for perhaps and unreasonable price. I didn't say anything; I understood about lose. Although my parents had no grave for me to go to to pay my respects, as they had been eaten by a deranged necrodon, half a decade ago. I had my first “flaming period” then and ended up burning the dead tree we lived in and so spent I slept for a long time. I awoke to the kid pouring icy creek water onto my forehead. In fact, if memory served it ought to have been this very day five years ago.
“Dammit!” the boy exclaimed. We were in front of the cemetery gates. They were locked. “C'mon, we have to go 'round to the hole in the fence.” The hole in the fence was blocked from view by a thorny bush, but the kid had found the gap in the branches and the fence. It was easy for him at his size and easier for me. Inside the cemetery we wove our way to were the kid's mother was buried. As we neared the grave we saw a large number of big and small birds clamoring for something on the grave.
“No!” the kid breathed, and ran at them, waving his arms and yelling. They took off with in an explosion of feathers and flapping. When I came up next to him he was fussing over something that looked like a cake that had had all it's icing picked of by clumsy fingers. He smiled up at me sheepishly.
“Sorry,” he said, “I didn't think the birds would get to it.” I raised my eyebrows in question. “It's for you, since it's been five years precisely since I found you passed out in those ashes, and we had enough cash.” I smiled at him, sat down and put a piece of the half-demolished cake into my mouth. The boy smiled also and sat down to eat with me.
We were so content we didn't notice the boy who was sneaking up on us until his reek became overwhelming, and by then it was too late. The strange boy's arm shot around the kid's neck and his other arm pressed a knife to the kid's ribs.
“Give me your money, Jimmy.” The strange boy said into his ear.
“Let him go.” I said, trying to think calmly even though my mind was racing through different possible actions I could take. I took a small step forward, getting closer so he'd have less time to react to whatever I ended up doing.
“Who the hell are you?” he asked asked and the knife separated slightly from the kid's ribs. The kid smiled and his chin dropped a centimeter. We sprang into action; the kid drove his elbow back into the other boy's stomach and I leaped forward to kick the knife out of his hands. Then I knocked him to the ground and held him down by the neck. The feel of my claws at his neck didn't seem to stop him struggling and spitting threats at us he made colorful with swear words.
“Leave us alone,” I growled. He just laughed, a cold, menacing laugh that was nothing like the kid's laughs.
“Eat s***, a-hole. Your dead.” Then he spat at my face. I barred my fangs in irritation, though he only saw a short, dark skinned boy grimacing. I tightened my grip on his neck, pulled his head up until we were practically nose-to-nose, and smiled coldly as I whispered the counter-spell and dropped my human disguise. The boy's eyes widened and he yelped in surprise.
“Leave us alone,” I repeated.
“C'mon, let's get out of here,” the kid said. I let go of the boy and began to run after the kid, but turned around and jogged to the grave. I grinned to the boy, who was watching me warily, and stooped down to pick up what was left of the cake the kid had bought. With one last look at the boy, I ran after the kid, cradling the cake in my arms.
The kid had climbed a tree, and when he saw me carrying the the cake he laughed and passed down he shirt so I wouldn't drop the cake as I climbed up. We sat in the tree for the rest of the morning, slowly and methodically taking apart and eating the cake, and laughing at the face the other boy had made when I dropped my disguise.