9.1

Sam woke up, found Jessie curled up next to him holding a mug defensively in her sleep, and got up to make coffee. She woke up a few minutes later, returned the mug to the table silently, and sat down.

“How’d you sleep?” Sam asked.

“Fine.” She stifled a yawn and propped her head up with one arm.

“No nightmares?” He smiled a little to himself as she mumbled a response and sat upright, “Well we managed to sleep in, so do you want breakfast or would you rather wait until lunch?”

“Pancakes.”

“Pancakes?” He took a sip of his coffee and decided it wasn’t worth savoring, gulping the mug down despite it being too hot.

“Pancakes.” Jessie giggled as he gasped and put the mug down. He picked her up under one arm and she shrieked, wriggling as he carried her out into the hallways and down the elevator.

By the time they had reached the ground floor she had climbed on his shoulders and their chant of ‘Pancakes’ elicited a few strange looks from other guests. The staff knew better than to react.

“Let’s see if the others are in.” Sam steered towards the front desk and stopped in front of a clerk who made a definite effort not to look at Jessie on his shoulders, “Can you call the other rooms under my card and see if any of them are in?”

“Of course, Mr. Mitchell.” The man called all three rooms quickly, speaking to the two that answered, “Mr. Levins is out however the other two are awake and willing to join you.”

“Wonder where he went… Ah well. Let’s go meet the others.” He strode away from the desk quickly, forcing Jessie to cling to his head to hold on. Yik and Vortran were halfway to the elevator on their floor when Sam and Jessie arrived, continuing their ‘Pancake’ chant.

“I’m guessing we’re going for pancakes?” Vortran said, yawning as the four of them returned to the lobby and headed out the front door.

“That’s the consensus. There’s a good place close to Julian’s shop.”

“Who is Julian?” Yik asked as they traversed the busy streets.

“He’s one of my newer friends. His son and Jessie like to play together so we try to get together whenever I’m in the area.” Sam glanced back at Vortran, who huffed at the word ‘newer’ but kept walking.

***

The restaurant was a little one-story building that was swarming with people. They waited in line for ten minutes to be seated and a harried-looking waitress took their order. Ten more minutes passed before they had drinks and by the time food arrived it was almost eleven. Vortran had barely touched her food by the time Sam was paying the check and he suggested a to-go box but she simply pushed her plate over to Yik, who consumed it without hesitation.

After that they returned to the hotel where Hedgy was already waiting.

“You really need some mobile communication.” He said, shifting a folder from one arm to the other, “It’s impossible to get a hold of you sometimes.”

“Sorry, breakfast took longer than planned. How are things?” Sam glanced down at the folder.

Hedgy shuffled the folder out of sight more and glanced at the others before responding, “We’ll talk about business later. For now since I didn’t get breakfast let’s go get me lunch.”

“Let’s go meet up with Julian first so he can close up shop and join us. The sandwich shop should be opening up about now.”

“We’re walking back over there again?” Vortan groaned a little.

“I could carry you if you like.” Yik offered.

“Ride on his shoulders and we’ll be shoulder buddies!” Jessie had climbed onto Sam’s shoulders already even as Vortran started to retort. She stopped and frowned at Yik, gesturing for him to get down closer. He did so and she climbed up on his shoulders, grumbling under her breath. Yik stood up again, wincing slightly as she gripped his shoulders.

“You are surprisingly light.” He commented as they started off in the direction they had just come from.

“Pascals are mostly fur, teeth, and claws. Right, Vortran?” Sam laughed a little.

Vortran grumbled a response and rested her head on top of Yik’s. She had dozed off slightly by the time they arrived and Yik set her down on a bench by the station’s pond. Jessie dismounted easily and rushed over to hug the enormous bird waiting in the shallows.

“Julian! We were going to met you at the shop.” Sam called out.

“I know your tendency to be late. Kevin was too eager to wait. Hello, Jessica.”

“Hi Julian!” She released him and ran into the water to chase the smaller bird around. Kevin laughed and ran away from her, splashing and stirring up the water. The two of them ran around in the water while adults sat down at the bench.

“She seems to have recuperated from her misadventure.” Julian ruffled his feathers and sat down on the ground, tucking his legs in under his wings.

“Maybe… Oh this is Vortran and Yikikik. I told you about Vortran before and Yik is the one who was trying to kill me this time.”

“Pleasure.” Julian bobbed his head at them, his speaker momentarily muffled under his feathers.

Yik smiled and nodded, nudging Vortran out of her thoughts.

“You do have another change of clothes for her, right?” Hedgy asked, looking up in time to see Jessie tackle Kevin into a deeper part. Their laughter rang out and they both stood up, dripping water and slowly trudging towards the shore.

“Yeah I have a dresser in the room with some of her clothes. Gonna have to order some basic stuff before we leave tomorrow too.”

“We’ll have to discuss the other stuff later tonight, but at least everyone gets to relax for a day. Except I need you two to fill out forms tonight before you make travel plans.” Hedgy waved some papers at Yik and Vortran.

“Later, Hedgy.” Sam grab the papers and shoved them back at Hedgy, who relented, “I’ll go get us lunch, Julian I assume you’d like something since the kids have frightened off all the fish.”

“That would be nice. Thank you.” Julian clacked his beak and went back to watching the kids, who were busy staring down into the now muddy shallows, attempting to look for fish.

 

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