Yik had insisted on sleeping in a corner of the kitchen, under the table, muttering about deserving it. This had already provided several alarming wake ups as he greeted everyone as they woke up. Vortran was the last to wake up, progressively later each day, until Yik was the only company to be had at breakfast.
“I’m just saying I don’t use the bed in my room, you could have it.” Vortran said for the third time, nursing a cup of something that claimed to be coffee. Real coffee was nowhere to be found in this part of space, but Vortran was addicted to the caffeine anyways.
“I would wake you up and you are clearly nearing the time of sleep.” Yik was drinking hot water from a similar mug. Vortran choked a little and stared at Yik.
“What do you mean?”
“You know, the time of sleep for warrior bears… we must find the girl quickly, you should not put it off.”
“Only females need to do that.” Vortran said, staring nervously into the coffee mug.
“But you are-” Vortran clapped a clawed hand over Yik’s mouth, standing on top of the chair to do so and pinning him against the wall.
“I’m going to say this once so listen closely.” Vortran leaned in close, showing a few extra teeth, “While we are on this ship, when we are near Sam, I am just one of the guys. Understood?”
Yik nodded, eyes wide, and Vortran removed her hand. They sat in awkward silence, and Vortran shot him a parting glare as she left to take her shift at the controls. When Mark came in looking for a snack he found Yik contemplating his mug of rapidly cooling water.
“What’s up with you? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“I have seen a secret.” Yik muttered, still staring at his drink. Mark grabbed his snack and waited a moment for a follow-up, but Yik just sat there in silence.
“Okay then.” Mark left with his snack, deciding his room was the sanest place to be at the moment.
Jessie sat on the other side of the cell from Jerret, watching him read. He could feel her eyes on him and looked up finally. “Aren’t you bored, just staring at me?
Jessie shook her head, but looked away for a moment.
“I’m sure the other guy would be better company, he’s not locked in a cell.”
Jessie shook her head again, “He’s in the control room, he said not to go in there.” She didn’t say anything else and he went back to reading his book. When he looked again he jumped a little, as Jessie had moved closer and pressed her forehead against the side of the cell, staring at him intently.
“Mr. Wolf?” Her voice was timid again.
“My name is Jerret.”
She frowned for a moment, “Mr. Jerret?”
“Yes, little one?”
“My name is Jessie, not little one.” She looked a little indignant for the first time.
“Alright, Jessie then.”
“Why do you have so many scars?”
Jerret closed his book and studied her for a moment, uncertain how to answer.
“I… had a rough childhood. Used to fight a lot.” He was relieved when she seemed to accept the answer and sat back a little. He’d forgotten how obvious some of the scarring was, usually whatever rags he scraped together covered the worst of it. His hand was the only one he couldn’t really hide.
“Mr. Jerret?” He had a feeling this was going to be the theme of the next few hours until she went to sleep.
“Why do you smell familiar?”
This one caught him off guard, even though it shouldn’t have. He’d sensed it when they first met, and had been taught what it meant long ago. “How much do you know about what you can do?”
“You mean being a kitty? Misa says he and my aunt’s and granny can’t do it and I shouldn’t in front of people cause it’s dangerous. And sometimes I can do stuff Misa can’t. I can climb real good!” She smiled for a moment, “I usually get stuck though.”
“Did anyone tell you why you can do that though?” He frowned as she shrugged, “It’s because you’re not all human. Neither am I… we’re half-human.”
“I dunno about that… you look human.”
“Right now, but I can turn into something else like you. Can’t any of your family turn into something?”
Jessie shook her head, “I only did on accident before.”
“What about your mom?”
“I…” Jessie looked down at the gem in her hand, “I don’t know.”
“Well you got it from someone… My mother could shift, and she’s the one I got it from.”
“Can I tell you a secret?”
Jerret looked over at the closed door, then back at the girl, who was staring at the gem in her hand pensively, “If you want, I guess.”
“I don’t really belong to Misa… I mean he takes care of me, but he found me… My parents are here.” She held up the gem so he could see, and a wall of text appeared on the wall of his cell, along with pictures of a older man and a petite looking woman. Jerret could make out names and dates, but none he recognized. When his eyes met Jessie’s again he could see tears forming.
“Are you okay?” He asked. She shook her head and dried her eyes.
“Misa can find them now. Mr. Calvin fixed it.” She smiled a little, but it didn’t look like tears of joy to Jerret.