Fiction~~The Last Pure Human~~Ch. 8


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The Last Pure Human
Chapter 8 - What IS That?

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A piece of dark blond hair had fallen out of his braid and into Leero’s eyes, again, and he sighed as he blew it out of the way. It flopped back down, tickling his nose, and Leero looked pleadingly at Niku. The older guard was standing where the hallway began its turn for the Consort’s Entrance. He’d been laughing silently at Leero since Leero had shown up with Max over his shoulder. If Leero was lucky, his mentor would actually come over, even though he was on duty. Considering that Leero was currently kneeling behind Kasan’s consort, both hands occupied with holding slim shoulders through the cloak, he really hoped Niku was feeling compassionate at the moment.

Obviously in a merciful mood, Niku stepped close and tucked Leero’s hair back into his braid, chuckling. “It looks like Prince Kasan is going to have his hands full with this one.”

“I certainly hope so.”

Niku’s laugh was deep and rich. “Oh, so do I. That boy needs someone to take his mind off his troubles.” He turned his face to Max’s shadowed face inside the cloak. “Don’t worry, little one, you just let us know if Kasan gets out of hand and we’ll make sure to help keep him in line.” Niku waited for a response until Leero shook his head at him.

“The squirt doesn’t speak Hinta.” Making sure to raise his voice so the other guard who stood next to the actual door to the Greeting room could hear him, he went on. “Poor thing can’t understand a word we say, so the entire thing’s been a bit of a shock.”

“Aaaah.” Niku looked down at Max and patted the top of his head, chuckling again as Max jerked his head away from the touch. “Did Shovak kidnap some poor girl from the borderlands, then? It seems like something the bastard would do.”

“Something like that,” Leero muttered. He didn’t feel right lying to someone who probably remembered him still learning to run, but he could completely understand Kasan’s desire to keep things private until after the Greeting. At least that way, the Greeting itself would be seen before any rumors started flying.

“That’s a hard way to become a consort,” Niku murmured. “Although if it had to happen, Kasan’s as good a man as any to have as a mate. He might be grumpy as hell, but he’s fair, and he’s usually kind to the littles. I’m sure they’ll come to terms.”

“Most likely,” Leero said. He looked up to see the guard by the door carefully shutting the small window into the Greeting room and gesturing briefly. Kasan had come into the room, then. Leero had hardly been able to believe it when he’d come down and found out that Kasan was still waiting at his own entrance, but at least it gave him time for his friend’s consort to calm himself a bit. In theory, anyway. He honestly wondered if Max might be wriggling more now than when they’d first arrived. Not that it mattered so long as Max didn’t try to run away once the door was open. Trying to traverse the path to the Knot while holding onto a struggling little man was not something he wanted to do in front of Kasan.

He didn’t honestly think that he’d make it through the entire Greeting without having to restrain the little thing. So far, every attempt to let Max down while keeping him in place had resulted in more biting or the near loss of the cloak. Holding him from behind, and in a spot where his teeth couldn’t reach, seemed to be the only way Leero could watch out for his own hide and still keep Kasan’s consort safe. It was a shame he had to be the one doing this, in a way. If he’d had to watch Kasan dealing with his frantic little consort, he knew he would have laughed until his teeth ached. As it was, he could hardly wait to pass the little one off to his rightful mate.

Niku cleared his throat and Leero looked back at him.

“Not to interfere in your duties, Leero, but you may want to ask Prince Kasan’s consort if she needs to relieve herself.”

Leero looked at him blankly. “Excuse me?”

“I’ve simply noticed that she seems to be squirming an awful lot under there, and I know that my granddaughter moves just that way when she’s about to pee herself.”

“Oh hell.” Was he right? Did Max need to pee, or was he just trying to get away? “Damn.” There was an alcove right off the hallway for just this purpose, but they hardly had the time….

Max squirmed again and Leero stood up, moving quickly towards the facilities while still holding onto Max’s shoulders. If he were lucky, they’d be quick enough that they wouldn’t hold up the ceremony. Sliding the door to the side, Leero pushed Max in and closed it behind them. The small depression with water flowing through it took up half the small room, and Leero looked at it skeptically. It was made so that an adult could stand over it easily, the wastes falling into the water, but it was going to be a bit of a straddle for Max. He’d probably do better with the child’s size, but this room wasn’t equipped with that. It was solely intended for consorts, and who’d ever seen a consort this size before?

Leero looked at Max, who had plastered himself against the far wall since Leero had released him, and he sighed. “You have no idea what this is, do you? Of course not. How lovely. Not only do I get to chase Kasan’s consort around his bedroom, I get to teach you how to pee, too.”

He pointed to the water. “You pee here.” Uncomprehending eyes stared at him. Leero sighed again and pointed to Max’s groin and back to the water. “You use your dick here, got it?” Another blank stare. “Obviously not.” He rubbed the back of his head as he contemplated what to do, his golden hair starting to frizz in reaction.

He finally loosened his loincloth. “I cannot believe I’m doing this. Honestly. A pissing demonstration was not what I signed up for. Kasan is going to owe me so much for this, little one.” Looking up, he saw Kasan’s consort trembling, his face white as he watched Leero’s hands. “Hey now, what’s… What do you think I’m going to do?! I’m just going to pee, for the love of… Here. Here, this is what I’m doing!”

Leero tried to relieve himself and nothing came out. “Now is not the time to be contrary!” he snarled at his dick, trying to relax as his head worried about the time this was taking and the fact that he was actually taking a piss in front of someone. “Hell, this is practically obscene,” he muttered to himself. With a little more effort, and a lot of visualizing himself in a nice quiet patch of forest, Leero finally managed to a pathetic little dribble.

He stepped back and gestured to Max. “There, now do you understand what this is for? I’ll leave you alone and you can…or maybe not.” The little man had already dropped his loincloth completely to the ground and was currently holding up his top and cloak and using the elongated basin with a look of bliss on his face. “Really had to go, I guess.”

About to tighten his loincloth back up, Leero grimaced as he saw Max’s cloak about to drop into the water. “Woah, don’t drop it in there!” Leero snagged the cloth just before it fell from Max’s hands. Max startled violently and shied away, stepping back frantically. “It’s all right! God you’re a jumpy little…aw shit!”

Leero jumped back, tripping slightly as his unsecured loincloth started to slip down, and looked at his wet shins and feet. Max had stumbled away from him, but he hadn’t stopped peeing…

“You peed on me! I can’t believe…shit. Now I’m going to have to… Hey, wait a second!” While Leero had looked at his legs in disgust, Max had started to edge towards the door. The pale skinned man slid it open frantically, his eyes huge and frightened, and ran out. Leero started to follow and stumbled as his loincloth slipped again. “Dammit! Niku, stop him!” He twisted his clothing together as he heard the guard’s startled exclamation, and sprinted out the door after him while still trying to tighten it.

Leero saw Max skid to a halt as Niku stepped out to block him from running down the open hallway. The little man whipped around and sped past Leero to the Consort’s door. The other guard assigned there froze as the cloak’s hood fell from the little one’s head and exposed his human features.

“What the hell is THAT?!” The guard growled. With one aggressive snarl, the man leapt at Max while Leero yelled desperately.

“No! Don’t hurt him!”

He needn’t have bothered. Max slid under the guard’s charge, slipping on the floor while the guard slammed into the wall. He yanked the door wide, darting inside and ramming it shut behind him. Leero cursed to himself as he tried to catch up. Kasan’s consort was terrified and running free in the Greeting Room, his loincloth still laying in a tangle on the floor in the piss room.

Damn.

Kasan was going to use Leero’s dick for sausage.


#

Kasan cursed under his breath as he braided his hair into one long plait. Working on it as he walked quickly down the hallway, he was already on his third attempt and he had a feeling that he was still going to need a fourth before he got it right. He absolutely hated braiding his own damn hair. By the time he was done, it usually looked like he’d had a drunk with two twigs and a rake do it for him. Which is why Zonta should have snuck away and damn well helped him. What were younger brothers for if you couldn’t use them to do your hair for you? He’d even have put up with a night of smirking from Aosh if the brattish lecher would have bailed him out.

Growling, he yanked out the messy, knotted braid as he turned the last corner before the Mate’s entrance. About ready to simply cut the annoying stuff off his head rather than try braiding it even one more time, he almost yelled in relief as he saw who was waiting for him.

“Thank God! Zonta, you are forgiven for everything!” Kasan walked over and embraced his brother enthusiastically.

“I’m glad to see you too,” Zonta said with a relieved smile. “I thought you might not make it to your own Greeting.”

“If I remembered I had to braid my hair for it, I might not have,” Kasan muttered as he released his sibling and automatically turned to let his youngest brother run gentle fingers through his hair. “How is it that I could beat any one of you in a fight but my own hair does me in?”

“I take it as a sign that the universe has a sense of fairness,” Zonta teased, trying not to pull as he worked the tangles out. After a brief pause, he cleared his throat nervously. “I’m sorry about last night with your consort.”

Kasan grunted. “I know you probably tried to stop them.”

“Not hard enough.” Zonta protested quietly. He smoothed a hand over Kasan’s hair and started braiding it with light, efficient twists. “Were you able to calm the little one down after everyone took their leave?”

“You know very well it was more a case of being thrown out rather than leaving.” Kasan chuckled. “Or did the guards dump Aosh in a separate room for once?”

“I don’t think he’s grown up enough to have his own room yet,” Zonta commented with a smile in his voice as he tied off the braid with a slim gold chain. “Maybe in a couple years when we take our own consorts.”

“God help the poor things.” Kasan laughed as he turned and looked up. He touched Zonta’s lips in thanks. “You’d better get in before father sends the guards after you. You can apologize to Max after the Greeting. I’m sure he would appreciate one face that wasn’t leering at his ears.”

“I’ll see what I can manage. I don’t promise anything about not leering, though. The little things are awfully cute.”

Kasan smacked him lightly on the shoulder. “Go, you faker. The day you have a truly lecherous thought, I’ll eat my own tail.”

Zonta smiled cheekily and hurried down the hall to the main entrance of the Greeting Room while Kasan took deep breaths and tried to calm himself. He’d need to wait a few minutes to give Zonta time to get back. Feeling his mind shifting to thoughts of Max’s ears, he tried to take even deeper breaths. He HAD to keep his mark showing until he’d walked the entire room. No lustful thoughts. None. His mind needed to be a pure as new snow, or still water, or Max’s skin…shit.

He heard a low rumble through the door and mentally latched onto it. How many people had to be inside for it to be heard through the thick door? Brothers and cousins, at the very least, and most likely aunts and uncles and anyone else his father had guilted into attending. A huge, crazy, noisy, wild mob, in other words. And he was about to go in and let himself be seen by the whole rampaging horde, and he had to let them all gape at his consort’s ass. There, that took care of the lust, he thought angrily. So far, his Gisho had only had to deal with himself and his idiot brothers, and that had been difficult enough. Having to cope with an entire roomful of people when he didn’t know what was going on was going to very hard on the little one. Everyone had better get a damn good look when he walked to meet Kasan, frankly, because he wasn’t going to let them look for more than a few moments before he was taking Max away to Firstmeal.

Although even that was going to be a challenge. After all, Kasan would still have to face his father. Considering that Kasan hadn’t yet informed him of the rather unique characteristics of his consort, the meeting would be memorable, to the say the least. Not to mention disturbing, once Kasan revealed what Leero had discovered about Shovak’s recent activities. Finding out how the Lord King’s younger brother had betrayed the family was going to rend a hole right through his father’s heart. Kasan only hoped that everyone dealt with the revelation without completely losing control, otherwise Max’s first few hours after the Greeting were going to be an absolute nightmare, for both of them.

Maybe Kasan would be blessed and the heat would hit him again right after the Greeting. He could pull Max away for some quiet time with just the two of them. Otherwise, the way things were likely to progress today, the poor thing would be plastered against Kasan for the entire Firstmeal.

Although that wouldn’t exactly be a bad thing.

Kasan breathed out sharply, hoping Zonta was in place because if Kasan waited any longer, his damn mark was going to disappear again. With a nod, he signaled the guard to open the door for him and he walked through the entrance. The tiled floor underneath his feet was patterned in different shades of gold, forming a path that wound through the room in a sinuous line that would eventually allow everyone the chance to see his mark up close. He smiled and nodded at familiar and friendly faces, winking at the littles who peeked in between their parents legs and even receiving a brief hug from one the smaller ones as she ran out and grabbed onto his calf for a few minutes before he sent her back to her mother. Every time the path crossed tiles in shades of gray and silver, Kasan had to think boring, un-sexy thoughts just to keep his mark in place.

Jolan coating his tail with glue and feathers. Aosh borrowing his bed for his own private orgy. Nolluz talking…at all. When thoughts of his brothers stopped working, he reminded himself that the path was a symbol of just how far Max would have to walk with his little ass cheek showing to everyone.

That thought worked to keep him limp and irritated for the rest of the path.

As he continued to walk, Kasan couldn’t help but notice how much of the room was covered in tense silence. The silence only lasted until he came close, then dissipated into relieved and congratulatory smiles as soon as his mark was noted. Kasan found himself touched more than he’d imagined himself capable of. Everyone here was worried, for him. It was common knowledge that of the few throwbacks born, some never made it through their mating heat without it raging out of control. He hadn’t realized that so many of his own relatives had feared that the same fate might be in his future, as well.

On the last segment of the path, walking the inner circle, Kasan passed his close family and beamed as he saw his brothers. The only unbruised face among them was Zonta’s. Which was probably for the best, considering that Aosh was the most beaten one among them. The lecher would need his healthy twin to nurse his sorry ass back to health over the next few days. Still smiling, Kasan met his father’s eyes. He silently acknowledged the question in them, debating how much to tell the Lord King about the previous night. He’d have to decide how much to share based on how well his brothers behaved during the Greeting and Firstmeal. His beating was nothing compared to what their father would do if he heard they’d touched his consort on Firstnight.

A few more steps, and Kasan was finally in the center of the room, standing on an elaborate knot made up of silver and gold tiles. He faced the Consort’s Entrance and tried not to let his tail switch too obviously. Everyone was already arranging themselves to clear the silver path for Max, and Kasan restrained the growl in his chest as they settled themselves so that they’d be watching the back of Max once he started walking. The only ones completely facing Kasan were those closest enough to see the mark; they would vouch for its disappearance when Max entered. The thought of how many would be staring at Max’s bottom made it very hard to hold onto his calm. At least it wouldn’t be long. Leero would walk Max down the path; not the most common arrangement, but not unheard of for those unfamiliar with the castle’s rather elaborate Greeting room. Hopefully Leero would hurry Max through the entire thing and Kasan could cover his little one up before his desire to hide Max away became too much to handle.

A few minutes wait had many members of his family shifting impatiently. They’d just have to wait. Max had probably taken a little while to finish his food. Everyone could live with the brief time spent standing so that his Gisho wasn’t starving before the ceremony. Concentrating on controlling his rebellious tail again, Kasan’s ears swiveled as he heard a loud exclamation from behind the door. Leero’s voice yelled out, followed by a muffled thud, and then the door was slammed open and a small, cloaked figure ran in, closing it behind him. Kasan watched, stunned, as Max faced the door only a moment before whipping around. The little one’s hood was off and Kasan had a clear look at Max’s terror stricken face as he froze and stared open mouthed at the crowd in front of him.

Feeling his ears flatten as he saw his consort completely alone and frightened, and without Leero, Kasan scowled. Where the hell was Leero?! He was supposed to have brought Max down and looked after him, dammit! A low rumbling ran through the crowd from those who happened to be facing the right door, and Max flattened himself against the wall as more and more eyes turned his way.

Screw the damn ceremony, he thought. Max needed him. Kasan opened his mouth to call to his consort, but was drowned out by one of his nieces who happened to notice the heads turning around her.

“Mama, what’s that?”

Like the rest of his family, Nolluz’s consort was facing Kasan and the center of the room. She smiled as she murmured a response, glancing back to see what had prompted her daughter’s outburst, and her jaw dropped.

“My Goodness…” Her stunned exclamation got the attention of everyone within hearing, and before Kasan could try to call out again, every last person in the room had turned to see what was going on at the Consort’s door. His poor little one was plastered back against the wall, completely panicked, when the door slid to the side and Leero loomed in the open doorway.

“Ha, caught you!” Leero’s hand reached down, catching hold of the cloak. Max dropped to the ground, yelling, and the overlarge cloak slipped over his head as he freed himself. Bolting as Leero tossed the cloak to the side, Max sprinted into the crowd.

“Son of a- Come back here, you little squirt! No one’s going to hurt you!”

Having caught sight of more bare skin than he should be able to see as Max’s tunic flapped open, Kasan snarled and finally managed to find his voice. “LEERO! What the hell happened to Max’s clothes?”

Running after Max, Leero yelled back, “Later! Let me catch him first!”

Max ran desperately, dodging through men and women as Leero chased after him. The little man hit a clump standing too close together for him to weave through and halted, staring. Looking behind, he caught sight of Leero closing in and he dove to the floor, crawling through the group’s legs.

“Leero, leave him be! You’re scaring him, dammit!” Kasan cursed, trying to locate his consort in the mob. Catching a brief glimpse of pale limbs and golden hair sliding frantically around two of his aunts, Kasan left his assigned place to run after his consort. If he didn’t get to him before one of his relatives, who knew how traumatized the poor thing was going to be.

Leero had better have a damn good explanation for all of this.

“Kasan…” The Lord King’s voice trailed off as his newly mated son ran after the small being that could be seen weaving in and out, and under, half the crowd. Jolan started laughing and Kasan’s father turned, looking at him. His eldest son seemed awfully unconcerned that there was some unknown, odd creature currently scampering through the room.

“Jolan, what is going …”

Jolan was running out into the crowd before his father finished. “Sorry, father, I need to help Kasan for a moment!”

Turning to address Nolluz instead, Kyoru was somehow unsurprised to see him close on Jolan’s heels, followed by Tisu, Aosh, and finally Zonta in quick succession. Left with a small number of surprised consorts and a large space, he shook his head and settled himself to watch. Whatever was happening, he was sure it would be entertaining. Events surrounding his children usually were. Infuriating and unbelievable, but entertaining as long as he could cultivate the right frame of mind, and he’d had a number of years to do just that.

Seeing the small, pale skinned little thing burst out from behind his eldest cousin and dive into a group of females, Kyoru squinted, trying to figure out what he was looking at.

Nolluz’s consort stared with him. “What IS that?” He heard his own fascinated interest in her voice.

Catching another glimpse as a male he couldn’t even identify reached for the creature, Kyoru’s mouth fell open as the small body jumped over outstretched arms and its tunic flared out behind it. Something small and silver glittered a moment on a pale cheek before the tunic covered it back up.

“Hmm. I believe that may be the newest member of the family,” he answered slowly, ignoring the surprised murmurs around him. Another leap, this time backwards as someone stepped in front of the little consort, and Kyoru blinked. The tunic had flapped up again. Kasan’s consort was quite definitely of the male persuasion. “It looks like Kasan has quite a bit to tell me once this Greeting ends.”

The quick footed boy ran in front of him and Kyoru chuckled as two of his brothers collided with each other trying to catch it. Looking around as over half the family ran, hid, or sprawled in heaps on the floor, he smiled broadly. He had a feeling he was going to enjoy getting to know this one.

#

Kasan snarled as yet another interfering member of his family got in between him and his consort and prevented him from catching up to Gisho. At this point, everyone was either chasing his little one or calling out advice to those who were.

“It’s over here! Hurry, you can get it when it comes by you!”

“No, it’s on the path. Not there…by the Mate’s Entrance!”

“It’s behind you, on your left! No, your other left, you idiot!”

“Ieeee, it went between my legs!”

“I’ve got it! I’ve got it! OW! It bit me!”

“All right, that is IT! EVERYONE STAND STILL! NOW, DAMMIT! ” Kasan bellowed over everyone and his various relatives stilled and looked at him. Looking around the frozen room, he was finally able to spot Max sliding along the wall near the mating banner. Max’s lungs were heaving and his eyes were wild.

“I need everyone to stay where you are and I’ll take care of this!” Kasan paused to make sure he didn’t have to intimidate anyone before he started towards his panicked consort. ”Max!” Kasan called out and the little one looked over at the sound of his voice and froze. Kasan kept talking as he made his way through the crowd.   

“Gisho…Max, little one, it’s all right. No one’s going to hurt you. Shhhh, it’s all right.” Max looked at him and Kasan smiled as the man noticeably relaxed. Then Gisho’s eyes drifted over Kasan’s shoulders and he suddenly backed up against the wall. Kasan looked back to see Leero, Tisu, and Nolluz approaching behind him and he snarled at them. “You dumb ass morons! I said for you to stay where you were! He’s terrified of you still! Why the hell are you coming anywhere near him?”

“We’re merely trying to help.” Nolluz said in an offended tone.

“Then keep your nosy asses out of my way and out of his sight!!” Kasan turned just in time to see Jolan and Aosh moving up on either side of Max and he snarled again. “Aosh, don’t you fucking…” Aosh leaped for Max before Kasan finished speaking, his red braid slapping the wall as grabbed him by the arm

“Got ya, you little…urrrrrgggg.” Aosh’s eyes bulged, his hands releasing Max’s arm to clutch at his privates as he fell to the floor. Max drew his fist back and stepped away frantically, looking to his other side to see Jolan approaching. The crowd had edged forward and surrounded him in a tight semi-circle with Kasan and his brothers on the inside. Kasan could see Max looking for somewhere to run and he could practically feel the panic rising when he couldn’t find any openings.

“Max, sweetheart, calm down. I know he’s an asshole, but I won’t let him touch you again. You’re all right now; you’re safe. Just come over here.” Kasan slowly walked towards him, keeping his voice low and soothing. He knew he was in trouble when Max’s eyes looked over Kasan’s shoulder again at Leero and the stupid mob that was somehow related to him. Looking at Aosh on one side trying to get to his feet, Jolan on the other, and back out at Kasan, he turned and started climbing the banner behind him.

“No! Gisho…Dammit!”

Zonta darted out of the crowd and Kasan ran forward, both leaping up to try and catch him. By the time they reached the wall, Max was already higher than they could reach.

Kasan snarled, looking up to see Max’s pale bottom in full view as his consort scrambled upwards. “You all better take a good look at his mark right now, because I am not staying here for another damn minute once I get him down!” Kasan yelled angrily. Silence followed his pronouncement before the rush of murmuring as everyone looked up and finally noticed the small silver mark glittering on Max’s slim ass. The fact that they could see everything from this angle, including Max’s balls pulled up tight in terror, made Kasan want to tear someone apart.

And he knew just who to start with.

“Aosh, get your pathetic ass up off the floor and get me something to climb so I can fetch Max!” Without taking his eyes from Max, who was almost shivering with fright as he clung near the top of the banner, Kasan growled to the man behind him. “Leero, can you tell me why the hell I just had to chase my consort around the greeting room? What the hell were you doing?”

He could hear Leero coming up close and saw his friend bowing formally out of the corner of his eye.

“I- Dammit, I apologize, Kasan. I should have kept a tighter grip on him when he was..”

“A tighter grip?! Why would you need a tighter grip? You were just supposed to be taking him into the room, not marching him off to the dungeon!”

Leero grit his teeth. “I don’t think he’s made the distinction yet. He completely panicked as soon as you left. I had to carry him just to get him out of your room!”

Swearing, Kasan looked away from Max for a moment to stare at Leero. “What did you do to frighten him, Leero?“

“Nothing!!” Kasan’s claws slipped out from his fingertips a moment and Leero’s eyes widened as he backed up a step. “Kasan! I swear by my mother, the moment you walked out the door the little thing just panicked. I didn’t even have a chance to say a word before he was across the room and spouting words like a monsoon! He’s been acting like I’m about to attack him ever since you left!”

Kasan stared back up at Max’s pale face looking down at them and he swallowed a bit of his anger. It was true that his little one did seem prone to bouts of frantic fear.

Besides, there was a reason Leero was his first in command, and it wasn’t because he liked to hurt the weak and helpless.

“So what happened then,” he asked, trying to keep himself calm.

Leero cleared his throat and his ears flattened just slightly against his blond hair. All of Kasan’s attention, as well as that of his brothers, was instantly focused on him. Ignoring the continued murmurs and exclamations of his relatives as they stared at Max, Kasan glared suspiciously at Leero. “What happened, Leero?”

“He had to take a piss,” Leero muttered.

“He had to piss? That doesn’t explain why he ran in all alone and…and what the hell is that damn smell?”

Leero’s golden ears flattened to his skull and his cheeks flushed. “The little brat peed on me and ran away.”

Kasan choked and he heard his brothers’ startled laughter. “He peed on you?”

“Can’t you tell? It’s all over my legs!”

Kasan gave him a glare. “My consort took a piss on your leg, so you let him go?”

Leero didn’t answer, but Kasan’s brothers laughed harder, Jolan holding his stomach as he collapsed against the wall.

“Nothing to say?”

“It wasn’t like that, I just wasn’t expecting him to— Hell, he’s a quick little thing when he wants to be, and I had to-- Aw dammit, I screwed up, and I’m sorry.”

Kasan’s arm swung up and he caught Leero’s jaw with his fist, knocking him back onto his ass. “Apology accepted.”

Tisu was practically hooting as he started to guffaw, and Jolan finally managed to find the breath to speak.

“Maybe we could use this to our advantage,” he huffed, still gasping slightly for air. “If piss is enough to defeat Leero, then we should definitely be teaching the technique to our men.”

“Or we could form it into some type of weapon.” Tisu added, nudging Leero’s leg with his toe. “The pissing gun.”

“Every man would be able to carry his own ammunition.” Zonta added, smiling as he gave Leero a hand up.

“Well, an enemy wouldn’t be able to hide after they’d been hit, because I can tell you now, the smell alone would give them away.” Jolan waved a hand in front of his nose and Leero’s face flushed again as he glared at him.

Now that he’d been able to let out his temper with that momentary swing, Kasan ignored them as he looked up at Max. His consort had a death grip on the cloth and didn’t look like he was coming down any time soon. Poor dear.

Zonta came near just as he was wondering if he should urge the little one to jump. Aosh was taking too damn long with the ladder.

“You’re very calm about him being up there,” Zonta said in an undertone that no one other than Kasan could possibly hear over the teasing Leero was still receiving.

“Trust me, I’m pissed as hell. Damn family couldn’t just back the hell off and let us deal with it and now Max is even more terrified than ever.”

“You’re not…worried?”

“Worried? No, I can calm him back down.”

“I wasn’t referring to his emotions. You’re not worried he’s up there? What if he falls?”

Kasan smiled and patted Zonta’s shoulder. “It’s not as though he’d get hurt, Zo. I’m not that overprotective.”

Zonta looked even more worried and Kasan started to get nervous. What did his brother know that he didn’t?

“I thought you would have had a chance to do a little research on your consort by now, Kasan, or I would have said something. I looked up a few things in Books of Rebirth; humans don’t do well if they fall from that type of height.”

“What?” Kasan stared at Zonta.

“There were a lot of warnings about how to be careful of human consorts in the early days. It sounds like they don’t land well at all. I think…I think he could die if he falls from up there.” Zonta finished quietly.

“What!” Kasan looked up at Max, seeing again the white-knuckled grip he had on the fabric, and realized for the first time that it might not be fear of the Kyashin beneath him that had him clutching the banner so tightly. “Fuck!”

Kasan snarled to himself as he realized that Aosh still hadn’t turned up with a ladder yet and struggled inside for just a moment before he turned to his brothers and Leero.

“Zonta says humans can die if they fall from up there,” he said loudly, instantly stopping the laughter and jokes. “I’ll go up and get him, but you have to be ready to catch him if he falls.” Leero and the others nodded, understanding more than he said. Kasan turned to the wall and let his claws come out fully. He slowly started climbing, using the tips of his nails to anchor himself with the small ripples and crevices in the rock. He focused completely on the wall, moving upwards as quickly as his muscles could move. A sharp rip brought him a rush of adrenaline and he looked up, certain the banner had torn until he realized that it was someone ripping down the banner on the opposite wall. He could hear them rush it over and set it up underneath Max to help them catch him if the little one fell.

Would that be enough to keep him from getting injured?

Kasan blocked out the sounds of his brother’s soft voices as they commented on how amazing it was to watch him climb. He usually hated to hear them talk about it. Outside of the family, exposing his claws and tail, not to mention his slightly enhanced senses, always resulted in stares. Too often that led to leery avoidance or angry confrontations. As a son of one of the ruling families in the Kyashin Alliance, he was the most well known throwback on the planet. People were always watching to see if he developed any of the genetic defects that seemed to plague his particular anomaly. Considering that the Greeting was surely recorded and broadcast for the daily records, he knew that the majority of the planet would see everything, including the reminder of his abnormal features while he climbed the wall.

For once, he didn’t give a shit. If he could get to Max on time, he would fucking go down to the temple and thank God for making him the way he was. As long as he could make it before anything happened.

He looked up from his grip on the stone wall, more than halfway to Max and started trying to get his attention without startling him.

“Max, sweetheart. I’m coming to help you down, love, just hold on. Hold on tight and I’ll be there in just a minute.”

Max’s head swiveled down over to him and his consort almost lost his grip as he startled. Watching Kasan with huge eyes, Max looked from him back down to everyone watching from below and clutched the banner more tightly. He hung there a moment and Kasan was close enough to see his jaw tighten before he released the banner with one hand to start climbing again. Kasan tried to hurry himself, feeling the tension in his fingertips as they struggled with keeping him from falling off the wall himself. Everyone froze when a sharp crack sounded above them both. Kasan saw the bar holding the banner start to give way, saw Max scramble frantically to try and get to the bar itself, and everything froze in his head as Max lost his grip and start to fall with a scream.

Kasan pushed off from the wall, leaping out over everyone as he reached Max in mid-air and pulled him in close. His thoughts raced as he tucked in his knees and somersaulted to get in the right position to land. What made humans so fragile? Would Max even be able to survive landing with Kasan holding him? Would his body be that delicate? Kasan tried to hold onto anything he thought might jar, tightening his grip over Max’s head and neck, hugging his torso as close as he could manage.

Max’s yelling was muffled as Kasan kept his face pressed against his chest. He could feel the sounds vibrating against his nipple until the moment he landed, and then the sound stopped. All Kasan could do was breathe heavily as he slowly stood and clutched Max to him. Max wasn’t making any noise; he never did that. Kasan couldn’t understand what he said, but his consort was constantly talking and yelling and muttering under his breath. God, had he been injured in the fall?

His brothers were surrounding him, his father in front of him, and his family surrounding them all before he finally managed to loosen his grip and look down at Max. Beautiful, adorable blue eyes looked back up at him from a face that was pale and shocked. But he was conscious. However fragile humans were, his consort was conscious. Kasan let himself smile and he hugged Max tightly. Within a few moments, small shivers crawled across Max’s skin and Kasan put him down to look him over, just in case. Max turned to look behind him up at the banner that was now hanging from the damaged bar and then back down to where they both stood.

Kasan began to grin as Max started talking in amazed tones, gesturing back at the banner and making swooping motions with his hands as he looked up and back down to Kasan as though confirming the distance. Kasan finally let himself relax. The one sign he took as proof of Max’s health: constant chatter. Kasan put his arm over Max’s shoulder, turning him towards his father, and flinched as Max’s chattering ceased in a high-pitched yell.

Max started pointing and shaking his head back and forth as he looked at Leero standing a few paces to the Lord King’s right.

“Shhh, shhhh, Leero won’t hurt you. He’s harmless, little one. Leero, get over here and look harmless, dammit.”

Leero stared at him a moment. “And how the hell am I supposed to do that? I’ve worked my whole damn life to look as far from harmless as I can!”

“How should I know?! Just…smile and move slowly.”

Leero looked around to find everyone smothering their grins and he sighed. Smiling tentatively, he walked towards Kasan, muttering under his breath at the same time. He was just as surprised as everyone else when Max started yelling and shaking his head even more violently, pushing himself back. Leero stopped moving before Kasan said a word.

“He’s terrified.” Leero said, appalled. “He’s actually terrified of me.”

“What did you DO to him?” Kasan growled, wrapping his arms around Max and pulling him tightly against himself.

“I told you, nothing! I don’t know why the little thing’s so frightened of me…”

“It could it be your size,” Zonta speculated. “Kasan’s the smallest of us all; perhaps Max feels safer with someone closer to his own height?”

“It could be your face,” Jolan said. “I know it sure as hell scares me when I see all that ugliness in one place.”

“Shut up, Jolan.” Kasan said, rubbing his hand up and down Max’s arm. “This isn’t funny. I need to figure out what’s wrong.” He looked around at everyone. “I’m sorry, but I need to have some time with my consort. I’m afraid we’ll have to just wait the three weeks to finish celebrating”

“Why in the world would we do that?” Tisu blurted out. “Trust me, we ALL saw your consort’s buns, Kasan. Everyone knows he’s your consort.”

“My mark hasn’t faded, Tisu, you idiot. You know…”

“I beg to differ,” Jolan said with a rather mocking grin on his face. He looked around at the crowd where a number of matching grins were sprouting. “How many saw Kasan’s chest after he looked up at his consort’s naked ass?” Dozens of hands went up, and Kasan groaned.

“Oh don’t tell me…”

“Your nanites bled into your skin so fast they were practically breaking the sound barrier.” Jolan smirked as Kasan’s cheeks prickled with heat. “And the little one’s even wearing a full tunic! I never knew you had an enhanced libido along with everything else…”

“Jolan, you ass.” Kasan tried not to smile and failed miserably.

Jolan looked to his father and went on at his nod. “Then the Greeting’s completed! Welcome the newest adults in the family: Kasan and Max!”

A thundering boom of voices yelling out their welcome made Max practically jump out of his skin and Kasan picked him up to cradle in his arms. He couldn’t hear over the crowd’s roaring as they walked out, but from the open mouth, he thought Max was yelling at him again.

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