Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Rise and Fall Flash Fiction- The Argument

The Argument
Kaye Draper

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Alain pushed the sleep-rumpled hair out of his eyes and rolled over on his belly to regard Henrick. The gorgeous Risen lay on his back with arms tucked under his head and his raven wings folded beneath him. He turned to Alain and gave him a fond smile.
“Finally awake?” The redhead asked, reaching out to tousle Alain’s hair.
Alain captured his hand and pressed a kiss into the palm. “Who’s fault is that?”
Henrick turned that fascinating shade of red, his blush clashing with his flaming hair. “Mmm…”
Alain grinned up at him, continuing their conversation from the night before. “Just let me do it.”
Henrick stared at him for a moment, then sighed. “No. No way.”
Alain narrowed his eyes at the big man. “Chicken.”
“Is it really that important to you?” Henrick said, although Alain could tell he already knew the answer.
“Yes,” Alain said immediately. “I want to see how you look.” He gave Henrick a dreamy look.
The Risen frowned. “No.”
They were still arguing when they descended to breakfast, and Win and Reeve overheard them as they came down the stairs.
“It won’t hurt much, and then it will go numb right after anyway,” Alain said, insistent. Who knew his big, glorious preternatural warrior was such a coward. “Look, I’ll do it quick.”
Henrick threw up his hands. “No. It's not the pain I’m afraid of anyway.”
Alain paused at the bottom of the stairs to stare up at Henrick. “You’re embarrassed, aren’t you? Chicken.”
Henrick crossed his arms and glowered, his blue eyes murderous. “Stop calling me a chicken.”
Alain smirked. “Bah-gawk!”
Henrick glared at him for a moment more, and Alain began to wonder if he might actually be angry for real.
Then the redhead tilted his head and mischief came into his eyes. One moment he was a towering red-haired, black-winged Risen. The next moment, Alain was staring down at the red and black chicken that had taken his place.
The human blinked in surprise. Then he burst into laughter.
He joined his brother Reeve and Henrick's sister Win at the table, where the newlyweds sat sipping coffee and watching Alain and Henrick’s antics. Alain popped into the kitchen long enough to obtain a tray of steaming flapjacks and sausage. He sat down to dig in, and the chicken hopped up to perch on the end of his plank bench.
“You aren’t seriously going to stay like that,” Alain said around a mouthful of buttery heaven. “You are ridiculous. I’m telling you, just let me do it.”
The chicken merely ruffled its feathers and tucked its head under a wing as if settling in for a nap.
Alain finished his breakfast, laughing all the while.
He glanced up when he was done to find Reeve slightly red about the ears and studying his coffee cup. Win grinned at Alain. He must have missed an inside joke.
He stood and stretched. Taking his dishes back to the kitchen, he left them with the innkeeper with a nod of thanks. Then he returned to the common area. “Well,” he said to no one in particular. “I was going to ask Henrick if he wanted to come to the general store with me, thought he might like to go for a stroll…but apparently he’s too chicken.
Henrick fluttered down from his perch and strutted over to the door, where he regarded Alain with beady eyes. Alain rolled his eyes and went to stand over him. “You can’t go like that.”
His only answer was a firm bah-gawk from his featherbrained companion.
A couple of hours later, Alain returned to the inn, his spirits notably the worse for wear. He came through the door chastising the chicken, completely oblivious to the fact that Win and Reeve had been joined by their cousins Dal and Iris.
“I can’t believe you are being so childish,” he was saying as he held the door open for the chicken. “I told you, I just want to do it once. What’s the big deal? If you don’t like it, I’ll take it out. You can do it to me too, if you want.”
He strode by the others, oblivious to their round eyes. “Never mind,” he said to the chicken Henrick. “I’m tired of arguing with you. You can’t even give me this one little thing.”
A wave of energy rolled over him and Alain spun to find Henrick back in his real form. “Fine!” He said, grabbing Alain’s wrist and dragging him toward the stairs. “Fine, let’s do it right now and get it over with!”
Alain grinned as he was hauled up the stairs toward their shared room. Finally.
Win, Dal, Reeve, and Iris sat down to a game of cards. Win hummed as she dealt out the cards, but Reeve sat back and tapped his finger on the table, looking pissed. Every once in a while he glanced toward the stairs.
Dal couldn’t help but poke at him.
“They’re being awfully quiet up there,” he said, picking up his cards. “I wonder what in the world they could be doing?”
Iris raised an eyebrow. Win opened her mouth as if to say something, but there was a bang from upstairs and Alain came running down the stairs. “Hey, Win,” he said, a bit breathless. “Do you have an old handkerchief I could borrow. I’m pretty sure he’s going to bleed.”
Reeve made a choked noise and high-tailed it to the kitchen. Alain tilted his head and watched him go. “What’s wrong with him?”
Win laughed. “Indigestion.” Then she followed him back up the stairs. “I’ve got an old one you can use. I don’t mind if it gets stained. But are you really going to make him bleed? It shouldn’t be that bad, should it?”
Alain shrugged. “You never know. I’ve done it plenty of times back in Hurst. Sometimes you get a bleeder.”
A few moments later, Win returned to find Reeve sitting at the table with the others, clutching his cards and looking ill. She sat beside him with a smile.
“Are you really okay with that?” He demanded.
Win shrugged and gave him a placid look. “Of course. They can do what they want.”
They had barely made it through a hand of cards when Alain and Henrick came down the stairs. Alain was grinning. He patted Henrick on the shoulder. “You look dashing. I knew you would.”
Henrick lifted a big hand to tug at the new earring that graced his earlobe. “Hmph.”
Dal glanced from Reeve’s confused face to Win’s smirk and burst out laughing. “All that was about an earring?”
Henrick glared at Dal, then Alain. “See, people are staring at me. I knew they’d stare!”
Alain petted his red head affectionately. Then he noticed the others staring at them from the table. “What?” He asked, surprised. “What did you think we were arguing about?”
Win only smiled. “Me? An earring, of course. You borrowed it from me yesterday, after all.”
Reeve put his head in his hands and looked like he was about to fall over.
But Dal, ever the font of circumspect delicacy piped up, “Alain, we thought you were a beast!”
Alain frowned at him in feigned confusion. “You guys need a hobby.” He stood on tiptoes to whisper in Henrick’s ear, at a clearly audible stage whisper. “We’ll talk about that other thing later.”

Then he watched in complete satisfaction as Henrick’s confused face turned from white to that adorable lobster red in a flash while Reeve was suddenly overcome by a coughing fit. 

Rise and Fall, the second book in the Earth and Sky saga, is out now! Check it out here.

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