Yoshi was waiting in the Village when Cya came to get him. Driving separately was a waste of gas, especially with the world falling to pieces, but she liked the time alone with her son; she’d freed Ankara on the way and enjoyed the rare quiet of the rest of the drive.
She Found her son with no trouble, leaning against a fence by Maureen’s where she’d Found more than a few of her yearly Kept. Her heart twisted in her chest a little, until she saw the boy he was standing next to, a tall strawberry blond with long, narrow antlers, which made an entirely different set of twists start happening.
She had, rather pointedly, not thought about what would happen to her Kept du jour habit when her boys went to school, not thought about picking up a boy while picking up her son. The fae stayed young for a very long time, but that didn’t make her feel much better about picking up boys her kids’ age.
Still, seeing the boy – those antlers! – with her son, she shifted her Mask to that of a woman old enough to be Yoshi’s mother instead of his younger sister, and pulled her car up to a nearby parking spot.
She was just in time, as she got out of the car, to see a lovely petite girl walk up to her son, her ocean-blue hair swaying with her hips like the tide coming in. The girl set her hands on Yoshi’s shoulders – it was only then, focusing on the webbed fingers, that Cya noticed her son looked the same as he had when she dropped him off ten months ago – and kissed him proprietarily, then, as Cya took her sweet time closing in on them, did the same for the antlered boy, leaving both of them looking dazed and uncertain.
The girl swayed off, to the protective arms of a woman Cya recognized, in a vague sort of way, as a Seventh Cohort girl. Hrrmph. She swallowed her over-protective indignation (It went in the same oubliette as many of her other unhelpful emotions, like jealousy, and completed her walk to her son, giving him time to see her, time to wipe the lost expression off his face.
“Mom,” he grinned. The grin started out forced – she recognized the expression, from his father’s face and her own – and was entirely genuine-seeming by the time she got within hugging distance. Would he… boys grew distant from their mothers, she’d been told, to leave the nest properly. But he hugged her, tightly, as he had when he was a child and needed comfort.
She patted his shoulder and pretended not to notice. “Ready to go home for the summer?” she asked instead. “Uncle Howard has a list of chores already started for you.”
“Even if shoveling cow shit is on the list,” he murmured feelingly, and Cya felt the urge to kill rising – dampened, in the next moment, by her son’s entirely disingenuous, “Mom, this is Panlong. Pan. He was in a crew with my Keeper this year – Tethys, with the hair? – and when his dad didn’t show, I told him you could give him a ride home. I hope you don’t mind.”
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