Moth Ch. 038byellynei©
Submitted to literotica.com by the author.
Kokata cut off the silk-bandage, inspected the crack in the leg-plate, and started cleaning it.
"How is it?" asked his Lei from right behind him.
"It's healing," he snarled.
"Let me look," insisted his Lei and reached out. She wasn't wearing her gloves.
"Don't touch me," snarled Kokata, and moved himself and his leg out of her reach.
His Lei turned away from him, and he pretended he couldn't figure out that she was crying. She shouldn't have taken her gloves off anyway. It was too cold for that.
Months had passed since they had killed Dark, but he still dreamt about it almost every night. He couldn't be intimate anymore. He couldn't stand the feel of skin against skin.
Kokata didn't wash. He could hardly stand to clean his wound. How could his woman expect him to accept her touch?
"You've lost weight," said his Lei. She still had her back to him, so he guessed she was still crying, but her voice was fairly natural.
"What did you expect?" snarled Kokata. "We've been fleeing for months. Running and jumping is hard work."
"You don't eat enough," said his Lei. "You need to eat more."
"What I need," snarled Kokata. "Is for you to shut up so I can have some rest."
He was perfectly aware that he wasn't eating enough. He was starving. But he wasn't hungry.
"Do you still have food?" he asked. He was losing track of the days, he couldn't remember if it was one or seven days ago that he had last made a fire and cooked meat for her.
"There's enough for today and tomorrow," said his Lei. "The baby and I are fine."
"I'll keep it that way," promised Kokata. With a few body-lengths between them it was easier not to snarl. Her belly had grown enough to notice in spite of the winter-clothing he had improvised for her. Apart from her bow, knife, and arrows, all her belongings had been made on the move. Spidersilk clothes, spidersilk bags, spidersilk blankets.
This was not the future he had intended for her.
He had even managed to get her father killed. She had pretended she didn't care, and she still never mentioned him, but Kokata remembered the look on her face when they had realised Valo had disappeared.
That was months ago. It had happened during one of their first wild spurts to escape Dark.
"Can the baby really survive on such a meaty diet?" asked Kokata. "I saw smoke earlier, there must be beetles or termites nearby. I can go steal something."
"Don't steal, Black," said his Lei and turned to face him, her one hand was on her belly. "Our baby is thriving. The way he is growing, I think he loves cooked meat. He is probably a beetle."
"A beetle," repeated Kokata and smiled.
"Yes, I really think so," said Lei, a smile growing on her face. "It almost makes me sad. I was sort of hoping for an abomination. I'd really like for Rebecca to become my daughter-in-law."
"Hello, Hinea," joked Kokata, "where did you put my mate?"
His Lei laughed so hard that she sank to her knees. Then she laughed some more, and then her laughter became sobs.
"Let's move on," said Kokata, and started gathering his Lei and her belongings in a blanket.
All packed, he closed the blanket tight and picked it up. It was the closest he could go toward hugging her.
"Here we go," he warned, and set off.
The next time they made a stop, his Lei was still weeping. There had been pauses to it, but none of them had lasted long.
"Please stop crying," begged Kokata.
"I can't," wept his Lei. "Everything is so horrible."
"I can build a fire and cook some fresh meat?"
"I don't like fire," wailed his Lei. "Fire is dangerous. I don't like you being near fire."
"It's really very safe," promised Kokata. "I was raised by beetles, remember."
"There is nothing safe about fire," yelled his Lei, suddenly angry.
"Allright, allright, I don't need to make a fire today anyway."
"You're so good to me," sighed Lei, smiling up at him. "I love you so much."
"I love you too," said Kokata, having trouble keeping up with her changes in mood.
"I just know everything will be allright," stated Lei, tugging the blanket closer around her cheeks. "Together we can do anything. Remember? You said that to me."
"That's true," said Kokata, who wasn't the least bit sure everything would be allright.
Eleven nights had passed since they had last come upon traps. He expected they'd soon stumble across new ones. The termites had apparently given up on fighting him face to face. But the traps were evidence that they hadn't given up on killing him.
Kokata hadn't seen a single winged termite since they had started fleeing, so, obviously, they were using seers to keep track of them. Kokata had no clue how to escape seers.
After a few minutes of excessive optimism, his Lei resumed her weeping and started complaining that he was losing weight, that he would die and leave her and the baby to freeze to death, and everything was hopeless.
To calm her, Kokata solemnly swore he would start eating more. Even that didn't help much.
On their next stop again, Lei just couldn't stop laughing, and apologised for being so silly. Then she told him he was lucky that he wasn't mated to her mother, because that was a woman who could get the most horrible mood swings during pregnancy. Especially in the second half of it.
Kokata listened, and nodded, and assured his Lei that he was very happy that she was nothing like that.
"Please prepare five tubs, for me," said Zoa to the little girl, while stuffing her courier winter-clothing into the box. "I haven't felt clean for days."
"Oh, you poor thing," exclaimed the girl and, in her urgency to get to the tubs, let her mop fall to the floor with a loud bang.
Zoa guiltily glanced to the floor. This time, as the last two times too, she had left visible footprints on it. This time of year many of the floors in the courier center, and the military center too, were muddy. It was all that dirty snow which nobody really had time to knock of their boots before going inside.
Her visits to the Emperor's library had slowly made her far more aware of dirt and dust everywhere else she went.
"I have to ask you a favour," said Zoa, sliding into the first tub.
"What is it?" asked the little bath-house girl.
"I need you to help me clean some jewellery enough so that I can be allowed to bring it to the library."
"Why would you want to bring jewellery there?" asked the girl, wrinkling her nose with confusion and curiosity.
Intellectual property of Nanna Marker.
"It's a secret," said Zoa.
"I'm good at keeping secrets," insisted the little girl.
"Will you help me if I tell you what the secret is?" offered Zoa. She would never be allowed to bring anything with her if it hadn't been approved by the bath-house, and the girl never approved anything she hadn't helped clean.
"Allright," agreed the girl.
"I'm going to ask the librarian to make me a gold sheet copy of a gold sheet," whispered Zoa.
"What for?" asked the girl.
Zoa whispered the explanation, not sure the child was old enough to understand. Judging by the girl's growing giggles, she did understand, though.
"I'll have your gold spotless in no time," promised the girl, when Zoa had finished explaining.
"Thank you," said Zoa.
It wasn't all her gold. Most of it was borrowed. She had had to pull a favour from everyone she knew in the city to borrow enough gold to make a single sheet. The list of who she owed how much had grown quite long before she was done.
Sadly she would still have to melt down her medal to have enough. She could have sold it and gained far more gold than its own weight, but she couldn't bring herself to that. When all this was over, and it was time to remelt the sheet and return the debts, she would cherish her part of it as a reminder of the medal.
"I'm having pregnancy mood-swings, aren't I?" asked his Lei about ten nights after she had started having them.
"I'm not exactly an expert on pregnancy," said Kokata, avoiding the topic.
"Considering how many younger siblings I have, I ought to be," said his Lei and sighed. "My mother would never admit to have mood-swings. When she laughed one moment and started crying or yelling the next, she would always claim there was a reason for it. It always drove the rest of us insane."
"You are not driving me insane," comforted Kokata.
Snow, wind and cold had forced him to overcome his fear of being close to his woman. He hadn't been able to find a crevice deep enough to shelter them. So, instead, he had dug them a partial shelter in the snow and had wrapped the blanket around the both of them. He was pressing most his legs against the blanket, turning it into a tiny tent, and had laid his Lei on his abdomen to keep her warm while he tried to dry her clothes.
She had been sweating in them and the humidity hadn't been able to escape.
"I know this is difficult for you," said his Lei. "But I'm still so happy to be allowed to touch you." She started weeping. "Oh no, now I'm having another round of mood-swings."
"Maybe you are just sad," comforted Kokata. "We've had a rough time. I think it's only natural to cry about that."
"I hate what I let her do to you," wept his Lei.
His gut complained at the reminder. Kokata swallowed hard not to vomit half-digested blood all over his woman. He had fed just before it started snowing.
"Please don't talk about it, Lei," he said. "I can't talk about it."
"I'm sorry," sobbed his Lei. "I didn't mean to. It just blurted out of me. I can't recognise myself anymore."
"What should we name our son?" asked Kokata. He wasn't sure why, but he really wanted their first child to be a boy.
"We can't think up a name before we see him," complained his Lei. "It might not suit him."
"Of course, we can," insisted Kokata. "I know exactly what he is going to look like." He didn't really, but imagining would be nice.
"What will he look like?" asked his woman, reaching out for her cold, cooked meat.
"Well, he is going to be a beetle, of course," said Kokata. "There's no doubt about that."
His Lei nodded, her mouth full of cooked meat. "He loves meat," she mumbled around her mouthful.
"He sure does. So I'm afraid he is going to be a little chubby," said Kokata with a smile.
"He is?" His Lei looked adorably guilty as she filled her mouth with another round of meat.
"I'm afraid so," said Kokata. "But it will suit him well, he will have enough charm to make up for it. We will have a hard time keeping the girls away once he reaches that age."
His Lei nodded, chewing away. She sure had taken a liking to meat during her pregnancy. Mostly he didn't have other stuff to offer, but lately... A few days back Kokata had found a naturally dried trunk mushroom. His Lei had been delighted and had begged him to bring as much as he could carry. She still hadn't touched any of it.
She'd talk about loving trunk mushroom, but whenever she got hungry she'd stuff herself with meat.
"He is going to be red. You know, the brownish sort of red," continued Kokata. "Well, at least his plating is. His skin is going to have a lighter colour. A tannish sort of brown."
"He is going to be tall," mumbled his Lei, around another mouthful of meat.
"Quite tall. And strong for a beetle. I think he is going to be a smith."
"Oh no," whined Lei. "I don't want him working with fire."
"Beetles are good with fire," comforted Kokata. "I will teach him everything I know about fire, and you will warn him to be careful every single day."
"You bet I will," mumbled his Lei.
"If someone would take that bet I'd be a rich man," said Kokata, and smiled down at his woman.
"What's a good name for him?" asked his Lei.
"I was thinking we should call him Redrock," said Kokata, and, in spite of himself, caressed his woman's big, bare, belly. For a moment he feared what the feeling of skin would make him feel but then...
Kokata widened his eyes. "I felt him moving!"
"I know," mumbled his Lei, and stuffed in more meat. "I think he is hungry."
"Now he stopped," said Kokata, disappointed.
"Isn't Redrock a strange name?" asked his Lei, bringing him back on track.
"I think it is a perfect name," said Kokata. "Because he is so very red and valuable. He moved again!"
"I know," complained his woman. "Please tell him to lie still, I'm trying to eat and its very distracting."
"I don't want him to lie still," objected Kokata, trailing his woman's belly with his legtips. "Where did he go? Redrock, come play with your daddy."
"Don't encourage him!" complained his Lei, her mouth ever full of meat.
"He did it again!"
Posted on literotica.com with permission of author: Nanna Marker; literotica ID ellynei.