being bold

They had all been more than a little curious as they had left after the viewing of the painting. Everyone snagging a cookie or two before they went on their way. Yael had waved them off, leaning lightly against Quentin as he did. He looked exhausted and Quentin knew it wasn’t all that surprising. This had been a lot of stress for a single young man to go through, after all.

“Why don’t we get some rest? Tomorrow is going to be a big day, all the setting up and preparing. We have to decide what we’re preparing for that meal. It’s been some time since we’ve last cooked for so many people.” Yael still was leaning slightly against him at that point though once the door closed and the last of their guest was one, he turned to his companion, one brow quirked slightly.
“What are you preparing?”

“That’s a surprise, love, please humour me and go with me on it all? Just think of it as having everyone over, it’s been forever and I feel like preparing food for everyone, something simple but delicious.”

“Hot pot?”

“The one with the meat and veggies and at times tofu where everyone cooks their food themselves in the broth? Rice and salads on the side?”

Yael nodded, rubbing his eyes as he started to walk away from the door. He felt absolutely exhausted at this point and he knew that sleep would do him some good.

“That is actually a wonderful idea, we’ve never done that before, not even with Eoghan and his trips around the world, we’ll just need to get at least two pots but that’s something I can do tomorrow. I can get some beef, some shrimp and veggies. I’ll look online to find more information and I’ll do all that shopping. On Friday afternoon we can start slicing and dicing stuff, sounds good?”

“Sounds good.”

So that was it there. They had sliced and diced, prepared plates, put them back in the fridge to keep certain four-legged fur balls from getting into the plates, they had prepared enough sauces they knew they’d have more leftovers than they knew what to do with it all. They had set up the table, prepared the broths (conveniently they used the broth Quentin had been preparing when Yael had finished his painting two days back), set everything up.

By the time their guests started arriving, the broths were beginning to bubble. Seats were taken at the table, plates handed out and, for this particular occasion, an occasion no one but Quentin understood the significance of yet, they even had wine. Even the twins were handed slight cups. Mira scrunched his nose at his own and was offered a glass of water instead.

The meal was eaten, the air filled with chatter and discussion about everything and nothing of importance, as usually was the case for their shared suppers. Several times over the course of the meal, Quentin left the table, looking into the fridge, as if to check to make sure that whatever he was worried about still was where it was meant to be.

Once the meal was done, he shooed everyone to the family room where the new painting had been hung onto the wall. Eoghan stayed behind along with Mira to help put things away, to help clear up the table. Once the table was clear, it was Eoghan’s turn to gently shoo Mira off to join the other, telling him they would be joining the lot of them shortly.

Finally alone with Quentin, Eoghan tilted his head somewhat to the side, a curious note escaping him. He looked down to the very nervous looking Quentin and set his hands on those shoulders. Quentin stopped his almost pacing and looked up, his eyes wide. There was a tiny hint of fear in them but Eoghan refrained from digging into the other’s mind.

“How about you tell me what this is all about?” He kept his voice low, knowing it wouldn’t carry over the talking being done in the family room.

Quentin licked his lips to moisten them as best as he could. He swallowed around a lump in his throat. Instead of answering, he opened the fridge and brought out a beautiful cake, already sliced in eight portions. Along with the cake he brought out a bottle of champagne.

Eoghan looked at both items, still confused and Quentin stepped closer. He moved to stand on the tip of his toes and once his lips were as close as he could manage to his friend’s ear, he whispered something. As he leaned back, Eoghan’s eyes widened. “Really?”

Breathing in deeply, Quentin nodded. He rubbed the back of his neck and rolled his shoulders. “I think this is the single boldest thing I’ll ever do in my life and I just want it to be right.”

Eoghan chuckled, patting Quentin on the shoulder gently. “Here, let’s just set the cake, along with the plates, the flutes, the forks and the champagne on this tray, we bring everything down to the family room. You do your thing and we pop open the champagne, sounds good?”

Again, Quentin licked his lips to try to get some moisture to them. He patted his pockets and nodded. “Okay.”

Eoghan smiled down to him once more and gathered everything onto the tray. Quentin walked to the family room, Eoghan nearly at his heels. The tray was set down and Quentin cleared his throat gently. Silence settled over their guests.

“Yael, could you come here, please?” Eoghan stepped to stand next to Lex, leaning comfortably against him. Yael moved away from the window and stepped closer. Once he was close enough, Quentin took Yael’s hand in his and eased down to one knee. Eoghan hid his grin as best as he could and the rest of their company stood, eyes just a little wide. Yael’s eyes were widest of them all.

“Yael, some people would think I’m crazy. A lot of people think I’m an asshole, I can’t stand most humans. When you entered my life, you changed me. You made me a better person, you helped me learn patience. I know our relationship hasn’t been an overly long one but every day, as I wake up, I tell myself that I couldn’t spend my life with anyone else. You’re all I want in life.”

He paused them, looking up to those icy-blue eyes, a film of tears covering them. “I don’t even know if we can make this work here but I don’t really care. I’m honestly doing this so you know how much you mean to me, so you know that I want to spend the rest of my life with you and that if you ever decided to move on, I think- no, I know I wouldn’t be able to let you go.”

As he offered those last few words, he clicked open the box he had been keeping in his pocket all meal long. It was a slim sort of box, black and velvety. Inside, a ring. It wasn’t overly fancy, it was a simple band with a long stone embedded into it. Inside, a few words engraved in a language long lost.

“Will you be mine until the very end of times?” The room was silent, eyes wide from all parties, even Eoghan who looked on, breath held as a single tear ran down Yael’s cheek. His lips pulled into a smile and he nodded. His other hand was in front of his mouth, as if unable to really believe what was going on, it didn’t seem as if it could be real, not at all.

Relief flooded him at that nod and Quentin slipped that simple, but oh so beautiful ring onto Yael’s finger. The fit was perfect.

He eased to his feet, Yael nearly throwing himself at Quentin and they hugged. Applause rose from their mock-crowd.

“This is so very wonderful, I’m almost jealous that Yael is the first one of us to get a ring.” He shot a glance to Lex who looked to Quentin and Yael in turn, the laughed and Eoghan blinked. “You guys are going to have to tell me what’s so funny. Later though, much later, for now, cake and champagne!”

He reached for the bottle, popping the cork and managing, surprisingly, to not get champagne foam everywhere. He filled in glasses while Lex took a moment to place the cake to the plates. He stepped to Eoghan however, a soft chuckle escaping him. “Thing is, I thought about putting a ring on that finger of yours, last Christmas. It’s what all that jewellery was meant for, I didn’t think we were ready for the ring itself.”

Eoghan looked up to him, his eyes widening again though he laughed in turn, handing out flutes as Lex handed out cake plates. This was a day that was meant to be celebrated to the very end and back.

what you see

He couldn’t really remember the exact moment he had started working on this portrait. For its size alone, he figured the term ‘mural’ was best fitting but that wasn’t right either. It was on a large canvas, thus not a mural and it wasn’t simply a painting of one person from the shoulders up so a portrait wasn’t right either. He had no terms for it and it didn’t really matter. What mattered was that he was done.

He looked at it from all possible angles and he couldn’t find anything that might have seemed wrong or missing with it. The more he had worked on it, the more he was afraid he was doing too much but now that he looked at it, now that he saw it in the clear light of day as it poured into his studio, it was perfect.

Yael looked down to his paint covered arms and laughed. This wasn’t new. This was as far from new as it could ever had been possible. Working on this particular painting had left him with paint everywhere on his person, from his arms, to his face and up in his hair. He shook his head and wiped his hands clean on his pants, those were as stained as the rest. He opened the door to his studio and looked briefly out to see if he could spot his companion.

“Quentin?” He called out, voice thoughtfully quiet, almost afraid the other demon might have been busy in his own work room.

From the kitchen, the blond head peeked out, curiosity settled clearly into that face. Yael’s own brightened and he grinned. He almost waved his arms but managed to keep himself standing as still as he could manage. It wasn’t much, he was nearly bouncing on his toes. “Come see!”

Quentin, curiosity piqued even more, wiped his hands on his apron, having been in the middle of preparing some broth, and stepped out of the kitchen, to Yael’s studio and stepped inside once the other moved to the side. He didn’t have to wonder long about what he was supposed to look at, the painting was right there, almost life-size, almost. He stared at it for a long while, his mouth hanging slightly open at the sight.

“Yael that is so beautiful.” It was. As far as he was concerned, it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. “Want me to see if we can gather everyone in for a while after supper? I bet I can tempt most of them with the offer of hot tea, coffee or hot cocoa with some of those too delicious cookies you’ve made lately. I know we still have plenty of them.”

Quentin was rather pleased with himself, he’d managed to not eat his way through all of said cookies though it had been so very, absolutely tempting.

“Would you do that? I really want all of them to see it. I could show it to them Friday when we all get together but I don’t really want to bring it outside and to Eoghan’s place just for that.”

“I’ll call them, don’t worry. I’ll call Eoghan and he can see about everyone else. Why don’t you have a shower, you’re colourful again today. I’ll call while you shower and we can set it out in the family room once we’re both done with our current tasks and set it on the couch. It’ll be just perfect there. After that we’ll have to figure out where we’re putting it.”

“I’m almost done with the smaller one too, the one with the older type of clothes. I tried to stick with the clothes I imagine everyone wearing when they were younger and preferably from where they were born. It’s not as clashing as I thought it would be.” He laughed again, looking down to his arms. He really was covered, this time.

“I can’t wait to see it. Go on, get washed up, if I finish with the broth and the call before you’re done, I’ll head in to help you scrub yourself clean.”

The painting looked beautiful in their family room, sitting, for the time being, on the couch. There was a wide open space above it, right on that wall though it would have taken a bit more time than they could have spared right then to set it up. Later, they could hang it up and be reminded of the beauty that was their family, though only two of them blood-related, every time they stepped into that room.

Yael fidgeted, wringing his hands together as he waited and paced. Quentin had left him be for the time being, knowing that nervousness was more than likely to abound and there wasn’t much he could do about it. Yael needed the approval of their friends as far as this painting was concerned and it was out of his hands and into theirs.

Not long after they had set the painting up on its temporary resting spot, they came, all together, at once. Wearing light coats and not even the hint of a scarf. The weather had warmed significantly in the past few weeks and just two days away from the solstice, it was easy to see that spring was in the air.

“I’m grateful that you’ve all come here. When I called Eoghan, I didn’t really tell him why I wanted all of you here, why we, both of us,” he motioned to Yael who was joining them, still looking absolutely nervous, “wanted you here. I did bribe him with some of those delicious cookies Yael has made recently and I imagine it might be how he persuaded you all to come this way. So I’ll go and Yael can lead you to where you’ll be at least for the new few minutes. We’re not asking you to spend the night, but this is an important event in our lives, especially in Yael’s.”

With that said, Quentin disappeared back to the kitchen and all eyes turned to Yael. His eyes grew two sizes, the jitters of his first time ever in front of an audience robbing him of most of his thoughts. He stared blankly, his eyes unfocussed and Eoghan was the one to step forward, settle a gentle arm over Yael’s shoulders with a chuckle. “Just tell me where we’re going and we’ll go there, yes?”

Yael licked his lips to moisten them. When he managed words, they were so soft he barely heard them slip from his own mouth. “Family room, if you’d all please.”

Eoghan nodded, turning the wide-eyed demon around and he led him, and the rest of their group into the family room. Once there, his eyes fell on the painting and he released Yael who stepped to the side and went right back on to wringing his hands together. He watched as eyes widened and mouths opened slightly to gaping position. This was a good start, he didn’t see anything negative in anyone’s reaction, he felt already somewhat better, he felt less completely stressed out.

“Ah, I see you’ve all discovered why we asked you to come about.” Quentin’s voice broke through the silence as he weaved his way into the room itself, a tray of cookies in hand that he set down on the table in the middle of the room. He moved to settle at Yael’s side, slipping his arm along that slender waist.

“Yael, this is beautiful, I have no words.” Eoghan was the first to find his voice. He stepped closer, studying the details put into the painting itself. It was amazing. It was almost as though he was looking in a mirror.

The twins finally stepped closer themselves but Yael caught Cyrille’s gaze more than he did the twins’s own. He was confused, as if he didn’t understand how he’d made it into that painting himself. He looked to Yael a moment, his eyes wide, confusion absolutely clear as day before he looked back to the painting.

“I’ve been working on this painting since I’ve met Quentin, just about. On and off, I’d paint it, change it, modify it. Then, Eoghan came into our lives, I sketched him into it. Alexis was added, then the twins and Zora, though when she left I didn’t feel comfortable leaving her in the painting. Armin and finally though certainly not the least of addition, I’ve added you, Cyrille. You’re as much part of this family as everyone else. You’ve done so much for everyone in your own way, I don’t think we’d quite by the same without you. You deserve to be in this painting as much as everyone else.”

He paused, finding smiles all around as they looked at him. Courage settled into his bones then and he smiled, looking to his completed painting. “I was terrified some of you might not like it. This is the first time I’ve had so many people looking at my art and it is such a personal piece that I was terrified of what might come of it. Now I know that it was worth every second I’ve poured into it. Every shower I’ve had to take because somehow with this painting more than any others I ended up covered in paint from head to toe. It was worth everything.”

A group hug would have been symbolic then but perhaps it was asking for too much. Yael did find himself on the receiving end of several hugs by his friends, it was all he needed, they appreciated the work he had put in the painting and that was that.

“Before anyone goes anywhere, I’d like to offer that we do our shared meal this week here. There’s something special I’d like to do myself and I’d feel better if it was done here, if that’s all right with everyone.” Quentin looked around at the group, little nods coming from all parties though there was curiosity in their gazes one more. A curiosity he found in Yael’s gaze as well and that was the plan.

to be free

The snow was gone. They were free of the snow and it was a wonderful sensation. It had melted all within a couple of days though they had been days of surprising heat and Yael briefly worried that this would be a hint of the summer they would be facing. If the heat was settling in now, it would be hellish during the summer.

There wasn’t much he could do about it so he tried to let it be. Instead, he focused on clearing out what was left of old leaves and dirt that had accumulated in the catio. There had been snow in it for most of the winter, not much of it but enough that the cats had mostly refused to step outside except on a few rare occasions, Areli and Lavi always leading that particular ball.

Astra still climbed up and down places on her own, that ‘fluke’ hadn’t been a fluke at all and Quentin still repeated, now and again, that she had been taken by aliens and replaced. Yael couldn’t complain, they had slowly worked through their set up steps to try to see how the cats handled being up in his garden and it had worked out beautifully. Now he left the door open whenever he was up there, he was joined now and again by one cat, two, three or even seven. When he was done, he shook the tin of treats he kept by the door and they all came running. He counted them out and closed the door.

It was once he was down on the ground floor that he gave them treats, since the tin he kept by the door no longer had treats to it, it had been filled with bits and pieces that sounded like treats when he shook it, it did the job.

Quentin was looking over their yards, taking note of where they might need to make sure the ground hadn’t soaked in too much wetness and would cave in, in some ways, when they walked over it. It had happened the year before, one particular area had soaked in so much of the water from the melting snow that when they had stepped there, he had sunk in nearly to his knees, it had required Alexis’s help to get him out of it. They’d fenced it off until they could find a solution.

As he looked the yard over, he noticed something by the little flag Yael had set out, the marker he had placed for that one tree he’d tried so hard to get growing but hadn’t managed.

“Yael, come out here for a second.” He called out. Yael looked up from the cat tree he was slightly straightening and stepped back inside so he could take the proper door to head outside. He walked up to Quentin, standing by his side before he looked to where that finger was pointing.

He walked over and there, as though it was waiting for him, a little sprout. The tree had broken free of its seed and out of the wet soil. It wasn’t tall but oh it was there and it was wonderful. Yael knelt down next to it, not daring to touch it just yet, not wanting to chance it. He marvelled at it for a long moment. “I’d completely forgotten about this!”

Excitement filled him as he stretched back to his feet and ran back to Quentin. His eyes were bright and filled with happiness. Quentin laughed, hugging Yael as the slightly younger demon pressed up against his side. “Oh it’s growing, it’s going to be perfect where it’s at, I’m just going to let it keep going.”

It was the best of options as far as he was concerned, it really was.

He looked back a moment and laughed. “It is a day for rediscovering freedom, here comes the gang.”

Quentin looked back, chuckling as the cats began to file out into the catio, as if they’d never been there before. They went to the edges, sniffed about, climbed up the cat trees, wandered along the platforms as if they were discovering it all over again.

“At first, you know, I was afraid they’d never use the catio at all. It took forever to entice them to head out there.”

“True, Areli and Lavi taught them how to, though. These two love being outside this way. I’m sure we’ll have wet cat tracks everywhere in the house for a little while.” Yael snickered, still settled closely against Quentin’s side. This day was turning out to be absolutely beautiful, despite that it was grey and cloud-covered. He didn’t care. His tree was growing, the snow was gone and the cats were enjoying the fresh air. He couldn’t have asked for anything else.

“We should probably close some of the windows.” Quentin murmured from his spot on the couch where he had been reading. In the distance, thunder rumbled and the sky was now loaded with dark storm clouds.

Yael looked up from the bit of sculpting he’d been doing. Just a little thing he had set out on their low table as he sat on the floor, small bits and pieces of this and that scattered everywhere near him. “I guess we should. I wish there was an automated system for this kind of thing, you know? The windows open when it’s a certain temperature outside, they close under a certain temperature, they open depending on the humidity and close when it’s too humid and when it’s raining.”

“That’d be one way to live but I think that would take out the joy we get from making sure all of the windows are closed.” He snickered as he put a bookmark to his page and closed his book. He eyed Yael a moment, those fingers covered in what looked like sculpting clay. He shook his head and went about their home, closing the windows he knew had been opened. There weren’t that many yet. It would take him more time in the summer, he knew.

As he returned, he found his seat taken by Areli. He picked up the cat, set him down on the other couch cushion and sat down, picking his book up again. “At least, we know that if any of the plants had been in need of watering, they’ll have plenty more.”

“I’m sure the plants didn’t need much water, with all that snow that’s now done melting, they had all they needed. A little more won’t hurt. We can’t exactly control rain as it is.”

“Well, not unless your name is Mira and I don’t know that he can control the rain as it falls. I imagine he could but that’s just one of those things.”

“What do you think?” Yael held up a small sculpture, a little man with white feathered wings at his back. Quentin frowned at it as his mind tried to tell him something he wasn’t sure he understood.

“It’s lovely, who is it meant to represent?”

“Eoghan.”

“Eoghan?”

“I don’t know why, at times when I dream about him, he comes to me looking like this, with beautifully white feathered wings. I just don’t understand it. They fit him though, like he’s meant to have them. What if they’re his mark? I mean you have your tail and I’d love to see it, by the way, I have, I don’t know what I have. I think the twins mentioned having horns and so does Alexis. Eoghan has never mentioned what his mark is, it could be those. My dreams haven’t often led me wrong.”

He shrugged as Quentin studied the little man a bit more closely. The features did resemble Eoghan’s own, the wings were surprisingly detailed. They could have fit. Eoghan never really had mentioned what his mark was meant to be or what it was at all. It was surprising enough. He knew that those who were born in their family, those who knew about their gifts from birth, usually were aware of their gifts.

He had been taken from his parents had birth, he’d discovered his gift and his mark through an accident. Yael had spent his life in an orphanage and Quentin knew that they still weren’t even sure as to what his gift really was so it was natural that they didn’t know exactly what his mark might be just the same. It didn’t change much in his life, really.

“It’s beautiful, Yael. You have no idea how jealous I am of your talent on most days.”

“Thank you.”

surprises

“I think aliens have kidnapped Astra and replaced her with an exact copy that doesn’t act the same way.” Quentin’s words pulled Yael out of daydreaming. He looked up to his companion, said mentioned feline curled along his shoulders and rumbling away happily.

“What makes you say that?” He made his eyes focus a little more. Astra looked as she always did, a happy ball of fur who adored playing parrot. Curled around Quentin’s shoulders and rumbling away as if nothing else mattered in the world.

“I suppose I should show you more than try to explain it to you, it’s rather surprising, honestly.” He shook his head, moving to pull Astra from his shoulders. She made a little disgruntled noise at being moved but otherwise didn’t fuss or fight. “Though actually, we should head back into the cats’s room, it’s the best place to check it out and you can set her up so she can do her little trick so you can see that I have nothing to do with it.”

He sounded vaguely amused at this point and Yael eased to his feet, curious about whatever it was that this big surprise was supposed to be. Quentin started off towards the cats’s play room, Yael following him calmly. “Usually you have little to do with most surprises the cats come up with. That is, unless you think back on the two boys taking off with your underwear and some of mine to make a nest for the kittens back then.”

“Don’t remind me.” Quentin laughed, shaking his head at the memory. It had been just one of those things, really.

Once inside the room, he offered the feline to his companion who curled his arms about the warmly purring ball of happiness. “So what am I meant to do now?”

“Set her up on the highest spot of the cat tree.”

“Quentin, you know as well as I do that she can’t get down from there on her own, she never goes up there as it is anyway, what is this about?”

“Yael please, just humour me? I promise there’s a reason to all this.”

Yael shook his head but he stepped to the wall, leaning up on the tip of his toes to actually be able to set the slight feline down on the highest platform. It was nearly out of his reach it was so high. “Now what?”

“Now you come back to my side and we watch.”

Confused but still willing to go with, for whatever the reason, Yael stepped back and waited, he watched and watched. After a few moments he was certain nothing would happen and as he took one step forward, there it came. Astra made her way down from the top of the tree. Made her way down and made it look easy as pie as she did.

Yael stared, trying to will his mind to understand what he had just seen. “Did she just get down on her own? She’s never done it before, always meowed at us pitifully until we got her down.”

Shrugging, Quentin went back to the cat tree, he didn’t pick Astra up on the way as he did, no, he merely stretched on his toes and put one of her favourite toys at the top. Once that was done, he stepped back away. She climbed up after a bare few seconds and was back down nearly as quickly.

“I think we might be able to try the garden trick again. From the start of the calendar but that might just work out and we may be able to have them out up there with you when you’re working.” It almost seemed too good to be true. It made no sense, no cat could learn to climb down places overnight, though it had been more than simply ‘overnight’ but still. It was more than a little surprising.

“I don’t know, Quentin. Cat trees are one thing, they’re made to be climbed on, real trees are different, what if she gets caught again? I have no issues about getting her back down but I don’t know that I want to.” Yael shook his head, watching Astra for a moment longer. “I guess we could give it another try but I just don’t know. I suppose we can’t know unless we try it. We can give it another shot in a few weeks if she’s still showing signs of this not being a fluke, somehow.”

He rubbed his eyes then, Quentin nodded and settled one hand to Yael’s waist, leading him back out of the play room and to the living room once more.

“Earlier, when you were wanting to show me Astra’s newly developed climbing technique, you said aliens had taken her and replaced her with a not-quite right copy. Why did you say that?”

Settled side by side, sitting in front of the still warmly crackling fireplace, there was quiet music playing in the background as Yael closed his eyes, trying not to think too much about things. His mind had spent most of the day trying to figure out how it had happened and he still hadn’t managed to understand it.

Beneath his head, he felt Quentin as he rolled his shoulders gently. “It’s just one of those things, I’ve heard people say while I was traveling. They usually say that when someone they know starts acting strange or in a way that’s really different from how they might usually do things.”

Yael shifted his head, looking up somewhat though he was so close it was a moot point to even open his eyes, he merely tilted his head back slightly, still leaning against that shoulder. He remained that way for a couple of heartbeats before he settled his head back down once more. “I guess that makes sense, in a way.”

“Humans are strange.”

“Not all of them and I know you think most of them are idiots though you’ve mellowed out a lot since I’ve moved in. It makes me feel warm inside, like I’ve actually done something right with my life, like I’ve done something to actually deserve being on this planet for.”

“Yael, don’t do that.” Quentin’s words were low, barely above a murmur as he hugged his companion a little closer to his side.

“Do what?”

“This thing where you start talking like you believe that you don’t belong on this planet and that you think you need to prove yourself. That’s not the case, plus, if it somehow were the case, you’ve proven your worth more often than I can count, I’m here right now because you’re with me and it’s the only thing that counts.”

“Thank you, Quentin.” Yael sighed, a soft, tired note as he relaxed where he sat. He was as close as he could get away with, without changing their position and he didn’t really feel like moving much. “Thank you for just being you, for not letting me sink into my moments of self-pity though I know there are days where I have more of those than I should. At times I feel broken and I think the only reason I still have all my pieces is because you’re with me. You’re my glue.”

“So you sniff glue?” A soft snicker escaped Quentin and Yael prodded him in the ribs with a roll of his eyes.

“Thank you for ruining the moment. I swear at times.” Yael was doing all he could to not start laughing, the moment was hardly ruined though it was still just one of those things.

“You adore me for it anyway.” That was the truth, as pure a truth as it would ever be. There were no other ways of looking at it.

“I think I was put on this very planet so we could meet and so we could learn more about the world together. Not that I really believe in things happening because of fate, I do want to believe that certain things do happen for a reason and that reason is something or other. My mind is done trying to be romantic, I’m too comfortable to be mushy.”

Their silence was gone, laughed, the good, relaxing kind replaced it though before long they both were quiet again, content to relax in one another’s soothing presence. This was all either one of them could ask for.

timer

Beep. Beep. Beep.

“Quentin, can you check in the oven to see if they’re ready? My hands are a bit full right now and I don’t want them to burn!” Yael calls out from his studio, the door wide open so he could hear the timer he had set up for the cookies he’d set up in the oven just half an hour earlier, less really.

He doesn’t expect them to be ready, perhaps why he has gone to his studio to bring out the painting he has been working on and off since he’s first moved in. It has changed in ways that are not all that hard to explain but still are a sight to behold. He’s almost done with it, that painting where they all are in there, at least the version where they all look as they do now and not the olden-day version.

He listens to Quentin’s echoing footsteps as they enter the kitchen, straining his ears a little. He barely hears the click of the oven door being open but he hears it thump shut a minute later. “You should come and see this, Yael, they’re beautifully golden and the scent of them, oh man this is divine, do we really have to share?”

Yael laughs as he looks down at his setup. He shakes his head, puts his palette down along with his brushes and he heads off into the kitchen, knowing he’ll have to wash his hands and arms before he can do anything at all. How he ended up covered in paint splatters he’s not exactly sure, not that he cares.

As he steps into the kitchen, the scent of freshly baked, warm cookies fills his nose and he sighs. This is one of the reasons why he loves spending time in the kitchen when he can. It hardly is his preferred method of spending time but he still loves being in the kitchen, mostly for baking.

“Quentin, I’ll have several dozens of these when they’re done, I made them to be shared so yes, they’ll have to be shared, even though you might think you should gobble them all down, especially while they’re still steaming hot. You can have one and then you can feed me one before I wash my arms up. Did you put the second batch in?”

Once given the go-ahead, Quentin uses a small spatula to slide two of the delicious looking cookies closer to him and off the pan. He gobbles one right up, burning his tongue slightly as he goes and he sets the second one briefly to the side to give it a few second to cool so he can let Yael have it. “I did put the second batch in and those are so good I don’t know that I’ll be able to not eat them all, love.”

Yael laughs and shakes his head. He nods towards the little timer sitting on the counter and Quentin turns it back up to twenty minutes. Then he takes the slightly, just barely, cooled cookie and Yael opens his mouth, chewing on it once Quentin dropped it past his lips. “This is tastier than I expected it. The recipe was leaving me a bit uncertain, honestly so this is a good result. I’m glad. I think, though, that I’ll stick out here while they all cook since I expect I might otherwise come to find plenty missing when they all are done because someone, or even several littler someones decided they wanted to sample more than just one.”

Quentin sticks his tongue out but steps away from the kitchen, knowing that if he does stay he’ll be more than a little tempted to eat more than a single cookie until Yael gives him another go-ahead to essentially pig out on them.

“If they turn out to be a success, I’ll just have to make a habit of baking them. I’ll bake them so often you’ll get sick of them and at that point I’ll be able to let everyone else enjoy them as they should.” Yael snickers as Quentin moves back down the hall to his own working room and Yael lets him, knowing better than to follow and ask him what he’s working on.

The scent of cookies has filled the whole house, no room seems to be an exception and no matter where he steps, he can almost taste those cookies. As he steps into the kitchen, he notices a small plate with a handful of cookies on them and a little note.

All yours. Is all that is written on the note and Quentin chuckles softly, picking one of the cooled cookie and putting it into his mouth. He stretches a little, looking to the side and to Yael’s closed studio door. He’ll leave him to work, knowing that the large painting of everyone on their ‘family’ is coming along well and he figures that adding in minute details is all Yael has left to do though there are a lot of those details. He’s plenty fine with that.

Half an hour later, when he’s still making sure to take his time to eat those cookies left out for him, Quentin notices Yael’s studio door easing open, a soft creaking sound coming from the hinges. He takes note of it, reminding himself to do something about that as he rather likes the idea of doors swinging open and closed without even the hint of a sound.

Yael steps out, arms and hands still covered in little splotches of pain. Quentin notices that there even are some in his hair and he laughs softly, shaking his head as he does. “I think we’re going to have a bit of a soak, Yael. A soak and then a good wash up though we could just go with the washing up but you’ve got paint up in your hair. I swear at times I think you forget you have your brush in your hand and you scratch your hair. It’s the only explanation I can think of.”

Yael stops in the kitchen, peering at his reflection in mirror sitting above the sink. There are bits of extra colour to his hair and one particularly long streaks of bright blue that shouldn’t be there. He shakes his head, amazed at his inability to keep clean when he paints. He can’t understand it. “I think a shower should be enough. We’ll bring in that water-safe stool and you can have a rub-a-dub-dub at my hair to get all that paint out. I honestly feel more like a steam than a soak so I think that a quick wash up before we steam should be okay?”

Quentin nods, offering one of his last saved cookies over. Yael chuckles as he takes it, murmuring a soft thank you before they start on their way towards their shared bathroom.

“I’m almost done with that big painting. All the details though, they’ll take some time. The bits of shading left but the hair stands, the detail in the eyes. I have to add the piercing in Mira’s ears and Agni’s eyebrow. Little things that have changed since I’ve added everyone in. At times I feel bad that I’ve had to erase Zora from it but she didn’t really fit anymore. I don’t think she ever fit, not with how she acted around all of us. Does that make me a bad person?”

Quentin shakes his head, leaning into the shower to drop the stool in and get the water going. “She always acted as though she wasn’t comfortable around us, despite that we were all like her, Armin aside, that is though he’s like us in his own way. It’s not like we went out of our way to make her uncomfortable, hell Eoghan did all he could to make her as comfortable as he could. She just preferred to go her own way, that’s all there is to that. You shouldn’t think too much about it. Let’s just have ourselves a shower, all right? After that, I can show you what I’ve been working on, I think you’re going to like it. I certainly do like it myself and I’m pretty proud of it.”

“Anything you make is beautiful, Quentin. I’m sure it’ll be awe-inspiring.”