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 Amadhay gave a low, husky laugh, watching Lizumeizei run around from one bubbling pot to the smoking pans. He had decided to attempt to make dinner for her, which was becoming the best entertainment he had ever arranged for her, and that included the tickets to the blood-debt tournament he had managed to get them the previous month. But even watching a blood elf take out an overgrown lizard Feral wasn’t comparable to watching Lizumeizei scamper around the kitchen, trying to salvage their dinner. The fish fillets were charcoal by now, the mashed potatoes something closer to the consistency of cotton candy, and the unidentifiable red glop hadn’t been edible since she got there.

“Lizumeizei,” she purred, coming up to the cat-kin’s side. “It’s okay. I didn’t expect you to be good at cooking.”

If anything, that seemed to make the failure worse for the man. “I just wanted to be able to have a nice candle-lit dinner with you.”

The girl held back a snicker. The idea of having a candle-lit dinner with anyone, much less Lizumeizei was unappealing, but the heartfelt attempt was cute. He got points in her book for it. “We can still have dinner. Take-out exists for people like us,” she teased him gently before turning off the fires. She considered doing the clean up, but figured it could wait until later. She took the man she might have called her twine if either of them were interested in labeling their relationship with any type of title past ‘friends’ by the hand and led him into his extravagantly furnished living room. She pulled him onto the couch and curled up with him, allowing the cat of her aelfe to take over and comfort him.

It was strange, she thought, that Lizumeizei was so upset over messing up making dinner. He tended to be cool as a cucumber. She had shown up on his doorstep weeks before Arne Riff had sprung her from Tierdom and he hadn’t even been slightly worried. She had told him that she was going to kill him that first time and he hadn’t even flinched, as if he had known that she wasn’t capable of doing it. He had just invited her in, made her tea, and talked to her for zoots, until she had been forced to go back to the Tierdormo palace so she wouldn’t be caught. That had happened for three weeks, until Arne Riff had taken her back and a week later put her back on active duty. When, after two weeks of no communication, she had appeared on Lizumeizei’s doorstep again, this time bloody and having a hard time with it, the cat-kin had taken her in, made her tea, and talked to her. She still wasn’t sure what she had said to him, but he wouldn’t repeat it, so she knew it had to be bad.

None of that had fazed him, but ruining a dinner that he had no reason to cook in the first place had? Something had to be going on that she wasn’t aware of, but she didn’t question him. Instead, she curled up with him on the couch, nuzzling her face into the crook of his neck when he curled up against her, his tawny cat tail wrapping securely around her waist.

“I’m up for trying some Over the Water cuisine, how about you?” Lizumeizei asked after about fifteen clacks of the two of them silently cuddling. Amadhay blinked rapidly a few times, having almost been deep in a cat nap. She gave a wide yawn before rubbing the top of her head against Lizumeizei’s neck. Lizumeizei purred.

“What was that?” she asked, stretching her arms out now that he seemed to be back into his normal headspace. It was rare that Lizumeizei was the one who needed cuddles, even though he was the more feline of the two of them. She wouldn’t pry just yet, but Amadhay was determined to find out what was occupying her friend’s mind so much that he was in a bothered state.

“Over the Water? I know a few good places that deliver.”

He wanted to get delivery? That was new. While Lizumeizei wasn’t completely against delivered food, (she had convinced him to get it a few different times by using her patented kitten eyes) he, as a rule, didn’t suggest it himself, preferring for them to go out or to pick up the food and carry it out themselves. She didn’t think it was a security thing, considering his house had some of the very best wards she had ever seen, and that was including the blood wards Ribbon had used to keep her in her room when the Palnoki had first captured her. But him not wanting to go out might be.

“Lizumeizei Qwuilleran,” she purred his full name against his furry cat ear, softly enough to be a whisper against his skin.

“Not hungry?”  he asked, tilting his head back so that he could look into her face. He had a knowing grin on his face, but it slipped off as he took in her expression. “What?” he asked, his tone going bland almost immediately. It was his business voice, which told her that she had failed at being innocent and was, instead, giving him a face that screamed out ‘Danger be this way!’

She sighed and sat up, noting that his tail didn’t move from her waist even when he sat up as well. “What’s going on? You’re acting strange.”

He shook his head, his face still perfectly blank. “Nothing that concerns you.” His normal smile cracked the blank mask and he petted her hand reassuringly. “Nothing for you to worry about. I promise.”

She frowned, but decided to let it drop. She didn’t talk about work with him, so she gave him the same courtesy. Even when she was extremely curious, she didn’t push him because she had learned that sometimes it was easier not to know everything about the people you were with. Atlas had taught her that.

“So, Over the Water?” he suggested again, giving her a suggestive smile.

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I could go for some Over the Water food.”

“Okay, so should I surprise you again or do you have something in mind today?” Lizumeizei asked, pulling her up off of the couch and back toward the kitchen.

She shrugged, knowing that he enjoyed it when she let him order for her. “Surprise me,” she said. She didn’t really know enough about Over the Water food to make an educated choice on what she’d want anyway, and Lizumeizei didn’t keep spare menus around. And considering their dates were strictly off the datastream except in terms of ordering food, she couldn’t even check a search engine on her DS to try and seem like she knew what she wanted.

He gave a soft exhale that Amadhay couldn’t help but think sounded more like relief than happiness. Once they were in the kitchen, he rolled up the sleeves of his expensive teal shirt and started working on cleaning up. Amadhay paused, trying to decide if she was enough of a guest to not help him out, but finally decided that clean up would go quicker with her helping. The faster clean up went, the faster they could order food. She was starving.

“So what have you been up to?” Lizumeizei asked, scraping fish remains from his pan. “You never did tell me why you cancelled last week.”

“Oh,” she stated, focusing on trying to get the red stuff out of his small pot. “There was a mission. Christein got really hurt. I had to heal him,” she said, making it obvious that she wasn’t going any deeper in depth there. She had come here to get her mind off of Christein, not to mope about him some more. He had made his decision, so she had to live with it. She had Lizumeizei. What did she want with her cousin anyway? Christein was every kind of fucked up and she was just as bad for wanting him. Lizumeizei didn’t have intimacy issues, like Christein did. And at least with Lizumeizei, she didn’t have to worry about her entire family—the ones that knew she was alive, anyway, which seemed to keep growing—having big fits and fusses about being with him. Arne Riff would be against it, but he was against everything that didn’t benefit him.

Why was she even comparing Christein and Lizumeizei? It wasn’t like she was going to bind to either of them. She was going to bind to some upstart clan leader Arne Riff wanted to join with, just as sure as Hynnkel was going to bind to Queen Fallora and King du Kay, Amaya was going to bind to the Prince du Kay, and Kelly was going to be bound to Lord Salazaen Skouras. It was all arranged already. She knew that. They all knew that. This was just her playing around before she was tied down, taking advantage of her blunderlust years—after all, she had started late. It was all it could be.

“Is that all that’s been going on with you?” Lizumeizei asked, suddenly behind her, rubbing her shoulders. “Because you don’t seem like you’re here tonight.”

“I’m here,” she immediately countered, turning to him and pressing a quick kiss to his lips. “I’m completely here. Just…a little thoughtful.”

“About what?” he asked, his green eyes boring into her red ones. She shrugged, hip bumping him so that he would move. She was going to try hot water on the red mess to see if that would get it out of the pot. Otherwise, she was going to have to toss the pot. He followed her, petting her hair gently. His hands were still wet, so she shouldered him away. Getting her hair wet only ever made it defy gravity. “You sure you don’t want to talk about it?”

She shrugged again. “It’s nothing major,” she lied. “It’s just both Christein and Benjy have been avoiding me. Well, I know Monkey has. I just haven’t seen Benjy in a week or two, and it’s weird.”

“You were complaining last month that he was following you like a lost puppy since you rutted with him,” Lizumeizei pointed out.

“I know. I just didn’t want him to disappear on me altogether. He is my friend, even if I don’t like him that way. I like being around him.”

Lizumeizei didn’t say anything for a few clacks, and Amadhay looked up from the mess of red gunk, which was trying to come out of the pot. He was staring at her with an expression she wasn’t sure how to decipher. When he realized she was looking at him, he gave her a smile.

“So, Over the Water. I’ll call it in,” he said, leaving her alone in the kitchen with the pot of something.

Trying to ignore his strangeness, she gave the pot a hesitant sniff. It didn’t smell like anything she would have wanted in her stomach, so she assumed it was probably some strange cuisine from Over the Water, where he was from. They had some strange food in his area. With a loud plop, the gunk flew out of the pot and onto the ceiling. She hadn’t even touched it.

She stared up at it. “What the…” she just kept staring at it. It didn’t move, just stayed a disgusting blob of red on the ceiling. She was considering getting a stool and the broom to poke at it when Lizumeizei came back into the kitchen, five clacks later.

“Alright, food will be here in about thirty clacks. I have a movie ready for us if…you…” he paused, but Amadhay didn’t look away from the blob. “What are you looking at?” he asked. A click later, he said, “Ah.”

“Yeah, um, I don’t think it’s dead,” Amadhay stated.

“Uh huh, um, Amadhay, could you move from under it?”

“Are you about to set it on a blaze of glory?” she asked, still not able to take her eyes from it.

“Well, I’d like to make it stop paralyzing you first.”

She started to argue that she wasn’t paralyzed, but now that she tried, she found that she honestly couldn’t look from the glop. She couldn’t move. She was frozen in her spot, staring up at it.

“That’s what I thought,” she heard Lizumeizei mutter. Also, she wasn’t positive, but she thought she might have seen the glop get bigger now that Lizumeizei was in the room.

“Lizumeizei, you might want to leave,” she said.

“Can’t. If I do, it’s probably going to eat you.”

“What deep water pit were you trying to feed me?” she demanded.

“I didn’t cook that. I don’t know where that came from.”

“Oh goodie.” She heard Lizumeizei moving closer to her, and knew when he had to be close because the blob began to move. “Lizumeizei. Leave.”

“If I move any faster, it will only follow me.”

“Who did you piss off?” she demanded.

“Oh you know, everyone.” A fireball grazed her face, slamming into the creature on the ceiling. The red became blistered, but it didn’t die. And it didn’t let go of Amadhay.

“I’m going to kick your ass after you kill this thing. You know that, right?”

“I’m sure that will be the first on your list of things to do,” Lizumeizei muttered. The blob gave a screech and then it launched itself off of the ceiling and at Lizumeizei. The moment it let go of the ceiling, it let go of Amadhay. Immediately, she activated her Gift and moved Lizumeizei out of the way. It hurt not giving her body the proper prep before jumping into it.

She dropped her Gift once Lizumeizei was out of the way, but stupidly stared at the glop again. “I think I’m stuck again,” she told Lizumeizei, who she had moved out of the kitchen. She was now in the doorway of the kitchen. The only way that thing was going to get to Lizumeizei was through her. “So, any bright ideas, my darling warlock?”

“I’m a Qwuill and you know it,” he stated, moving close behind her. She felt his tail curl around her. “I’m going to move you. It will attack me, let go of you, and you’re going to do a diamond orb.”

“I don’t know how.”

“An amber orb, then.”

“An amber orb won’t help you if it eats you,” Amadhay snapped.

“I believe in you. You can do it fast enough to keep that from devouring me.”

“New plan,” Amadhay said, narrowing her eyes as the thing began to bubble. “You run and pull me with you. It’ll have to let go to follow us. I’ll do amber orb and you do diamond.”

“It will catch me before I can do a diamond orb, Amadhay.”

“What can you do quickly? Actually don’t tell me, just do it now. It’s about to jump me.”

Amadhay couldn’t see what the cat-kin was doing behind her, but she could see the blob lengthening. It was turning into something. She felt magic at her back and in her peripheral vision, she could see the green of an emerald orb. She wasn’t sure how much good that would do with an amber orb. Not for the first time, she wished that someone would teach her a diamond orb. This would all be over if she knew how to do the most powerful of natural orbs.

She was seeing fangs. There were very large fangs and a protruding jaw to hold said fangs. Beady eyes were forming above the jaw. No nose, but very large horns on the head. How on Resor was this thing coming together from that tiny thing in the pot?

Lizumeizei tossed his emerald orb and she could feel him already starting on a new orb. The creature slammed into the kitchen sink and let go of Amadhay. She quickly moved her hands in the familiar motions of the amber orb as quickly as she could without using her Gift. It hurt too much to use it, so unless it was absolutely necessary, she wasn’t going to. She loosed the amber orb and it sunk right into the creature’s face, followed closely by a sapphire orb. Lizumeizei took her hands and helped her form the correct hand movements, whispering into her ear a few nonsense words that she repeated without thought.

A gleaming, glittering ball of purple and silver shone in her hands, an orb she had never seen before. The creature jumped at them. Lizumeizei interlaced his finger with hers and pulled her hands apart. The ball grew larger. She could feel a strain in Lizumeizei and the push of her own power and then he slapped their hands together in a loud clap.

The orb shot right out of their hands and into the creature’s mouth. It swallowed and slammed into the two of them, reopening its mouth to bite them. Amadhay kicked with all of her strength, knocking the oversized creature back enough for Lizumeizei to scramble from underneath her. She jumped on top of it before it could go after the cat-kin and gripped the creature by its lower fangs, ignoring the slippery feeling of its slobber, wondering what good that strange orb had been.

As soon as she thought that, the creature seemed to expand. It whined, shaking her off of it with a few powerful movements. And then it blew up. She closed her eyes and winced, readying herself to be covered in beast innards, but felt nothing. She opened her eyes when Lizumeizei nudged her on his way past her. Where the beast had been, was once again the red glop of disgusting. She watched as Lizumeizei muttered a few words of incantation too fast for her to catch, touch the glop, and then it just disappeared. She hoped he sent it far away, and not just to his lab upstairs so that he could check it out.

Lizumeizei turned back to her, the silver of his magic flaring in his eyes from overuse. “Now, where were we?”

“I think this is the part where I kick your ass?” Amadhay suggested, rubbing monster slobber off of her hands and onto his carpet before taking his hand and allowing him to help her up.

“I think food should be here soon,” he added, giving her a grin.

She sighed. “I don’t think I’m hungry anymore.”

“Oh come on, I promise this food will be dead when we get it.” He wiped sweat off of his forehead before running his fingers over the honey-colored braid, pulling it to lay on his chest rather than behind his shoulders. He kissed the corner of her mouth before sitting on the couch and holding his arm out in invitation for her to curl up beside him. “And it’s your favorite movie…”

She sighed again, but was unable to stay irritated with him when the first notes of her favorite movie hit her ears. He was the only one she felt comfortable watching it with, and she really had had the worst past weeks. She deserved some time just relaxing with her catboy, watching a sappy, silly romantic musical. She curled up next to him just as the lead female opened her mouth to sing about creating the world.

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