9.2

Jessie tossed a bit of her sandwich at Kevin and giggled as he caught it in his beak and swallowed it in one gulp.

“You need to eat some too Jessie.” Sam frowned a little and she tore off a chunk and chewed on it obnoxiously. Julian snatched a bit of a cut-up sandwich off the edge of the table to swallow and she giggled again.

“I had too much breakfast.” Vortran shoved her food towards Yik, who eagerly added it to his own rapidly diminishing plate. Hedgy was too focused on his work and only occasionally took a bit out of his sandwich.

As soon as she finished eating Jessie moved over to the shore and sat staring out at the water. Kevin joined her, leaving the adults at the table.

“Sam I need to talk to you about our other situation tonight, and I think it’d be best if Jessie wasn’t there.” Hedgy stopped working suddenly, speaking quiet enough his voice wouldn’t carry.

“Think you could have Jessie over for a bit?” Sam glanced at Julian, who nodded.

“I have to ask you some advice as well, later. So that will be a fair trade.” Julian ruffled and started preening a little.

“I’ll stop by your office then.”

“No, this address, I’ll be there all afternoon.” Hedgy slid a page over to him. Sam took it and folded it carefully, tucking it into a pocket. Hedgy also held out pages to Yik and Vortran, who took them hesitantly, “My office address is listed on there, just drop them off when you finish with them. Do either of you need a lift to your ships?”

“We’re just gonna grab a ride to Yik’s ship and then he’ll take me to mine.”

“You better not try anything funny.” Sam frowned at Yik, who huffed.

“I have honor, Vortran has done nothing to wrong me and I return the favor.” He frowned back at Sam, who relented after a tense moment.

***

Jessie stretched out on the grass, enjoying the cool air. “Does this place ever change?”

“Not really… Last month they released a few wild birds but they just hide in the tree all the time.”

“I bet it’s really cool way up there. Like you could build a secret house.”

“I asked my dad to let me learn to fly next year, I want to see if I can get up there.” Kevin stretched his long neck out to look at the tree.

“That’d be cool, did he say yes?”

“He said he’d think about it. He never lets me do anything exciting though.”

“Misa doesn’t let me do anything either. After what happened he’ll probably try to leave me with Granny again.” Jessie frowned and sat up again, tugging at the grass a little.

“What did happen? Dad just said you got lost for a bit.”

Jessie ran her fingers through the grass and huffed a little, “I don’t know… our ship got blown up and another ship rescued me, and then I was one this other ship and I thought Misa had gotten tired of me and sent me away cause I’m trouble… then nobody wanted to tell me anything and Mr. Calvin got hurt and Mr. Jerret disappeared and I don’t know what happened.” She pulled her knees up under her chin and a moment later felt Kevin resting his head on hers.

“Sorry, dad said I shouldn’t ask you cause you might get upset. It just sounded like an adventure and I’ve always wanted one.”

“It was an adventure, just a scary one sometimes.”

Kevin backed away again and ruffled his feathers, straightening them out again. They sat in silence until a fish bobbed at the surface for a moment. “Did I tell you I can catch the big ones now?”

“I bet I caught a bigger one.” Jessie grinned mischievously.

“No way, mine was this big.” Kevin spread his wings to show the size.

“Mine was like this big.” Jessie spread her arms out as far as they could go.

“No way, they don’t make fish that big.”

“They do on planets, stations have little fish compared to planets.”

“Nuh-uh.”

“Yuh-huh.”

***

Julian glanced at the children as they started arguing, “I’d better go break them up. Why don’t you bring Jessie a change of clothes at my place?” He got up and straightened his feathers again.

“Yeah, I’ll bring it by in a little while. I think everyone’s done eating.” He watched Julian herd the children towards his store, and waved as Jessie waved goodbye to him. He turned back to the others.

“We will be leaving in the morning, so this is goodbye for now, maybe?” Yik said, stacking the plates neatly to dispose of.

“Am I going to have to look over my shoulder for you from now on?” Sam asked, smiling a little.

Yik seemed to think on this and shook his head a little, “I will wait until the little one is not with you. It will only be… another decade or so before she is grown.”

Sam frowned a little, “Ten years is a long time.”

“I will wait, unless perhaps I forget. Now I must get my compatriot back to the hotel to sleep. It is a long journey back.” Yik managed to sling Vortran around his shoulders and she grabbed on, half asleep. She waved goodbye to Sam and the two started back to the hotel.

“Do we need to worry about that?”

“No, I suspect not. Anyways can I get a hint about the serious business tonight?” Sam tapped his pocket to make sure the address was still in there.

“Tests came back, and he woke up a little.”

Sam stared down at the table, clasping his hand together in silence.

“We’ll talk about it tonight.” Hedgy stood up and gathered the trash, tossing it as he headed back for his office. Sam pulled the pendant out of his pocket once he was alone and stared at it. He lifted his arm as if to chuck it into the lake, then stopped and stuck it back into his pocket.

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