mogget_cat: (c-sweetness and light)
Perhaps no one is immune.

On the couch by the fire, site of innumerable catnaps, is curled a small not'cat, tossing and turning as he dreams.

His first clue that something is wrong is the very realization that he is dreaming. He almost never dreams, and when he does, it is nothing like this. Yrael, like most other creatures, usually dreams of what he knows: Milliways, New Orleans, Florence, the Old Kingdom beyond the river of Death. This is no place that he knows. The other clue is that this is nothing like the short flashes of images that tend to make up his normal dreams. This is much... more fluid.

He finds himself dreaming himself into his own bed, the shallow cardboard box with the soft, folded blue chiton, much loved, as his pillow. It sits on a flat metal table, as one would find in a morgue. The clammy air and the dripping of stale, cold water onto his fur and into his bed are what wakes him into his dream. He is too warm for the clammy chill, causing his fur to mat with the damp, and the chiton to stick to him.

He looks around, slowly. So this is the hospital he has been hearing about, with its dangers and its dreams. He doesn't think to feel worried. Now, Yrael might find this 'doctor' and put an end to him, the one who has harmed so many of his friends, and disturbed their rest.

When he turns, thinking to go and seek out that doctor, he sees a flash of familiar golden hair. It is still familiar, even though dulled by the dimness of the hospital. "Svava?" he says, incredulously, ears perking forward. "What are you doing here? It's not safe here."

The golden-haired figure lifts her weeping head, saying vindictively, "What am I doing here? What are you doing here? It really is not safe, now!"

He blinks, "I-" but she continues.

"Burns over ninety percent of her body, Yrael! They couldn't save her!"

Yrael stares at her. "I don't know wha-"

"Don't think you can blame this on catnip or Atlantean!" Svava cries out angrily. "You were supposed to be watching her! We can't trust you with anything!"

Yrael takes a step back at the implications. "I wouldn't do that. Ever," he says, quietly. Firmly. "You can trust-"

"You also said you would never hurt me," Kassandra says suddenly, behind him, causing Yrael to turn. "Nor betray my trust, my Catlet." He goes tumbling as she pulls the chiton and box out from under him. "I was wrong, my Catlet, Catlet with the pretty collar and bewitching eyes. I did not listen to my own counsel. I regret letting you in."

"Such is the way with nithings," Teja says, taking his axe down from among the blade of medical instruments hanging on the wall. Teja's cloak is the color of dried blood in the darkness. Yrael struggles to get to his feet. He did not land well on the cold and damp linoleum, and his legs do not want to support him. "They will betray you, traitorous less-than-men."

"Less than anything," Axel sneers down, seemingly not noticing the ice-cold chill of the air around them. "Nothing."

"Worse than a damn, backstabbing rat," Kyo scowls.

"No," Yrael says, shaking his head, heavily. "It's not like that. I've changed." Even to himself, his voice sounds weak. He's totally forgotten where he is.

"But not enough, my friend," Dr. Lecter says, with his strange smile, fastidiously cleaning a bonesaw. "And this is not the place for half-measures."

Yrael suddenly feels Ophelia's fingers behind his ears, scritching. "Not to worry, Yrael," she smiles down at him, surrounded with flowers and warm sunlight as she leans over the morgue table at an improbably angle. "We're your friends."

He clings to the voice, warm friendship breaking over him like a wave after such cold accusations. "My friend, my first friend," he pants, ears back and tail down. The not'cat seeks to wrap around her ankles, an automatic gesture for comfort, but he is prevented by the vines that suddenly wrap about him, carrying him up into the air. The vines grow directly from Ophelia's fingers. They lift him up to Ophelia's face, so that she might smile and kiss his pink nose.

"Do not worry, Yrael. We are your friends," she assures him with a giggle of frayed energy and her typical fey wildness. "We will not let you hurt anyone."

"What?" Yrael struggles against the tightening vines, trying to tell his friends that it's not his fault, to let him go, but he can't seem to get the words out. He mouths them without sound, trying to make them understand, but they are heedless of his protests.

Kassandra comes forward with his box. But... it is not his bed. It is another, familiar box, larger and much darker, with Charter Marks spelled into the very stone.

"I suppose a century was not long enough," Svava sighs, her voice resolute now she has wiped away her tears.
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Yrael, the Eighth Bright Shiner

June 2016

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