“Aniue, I want to try again.”
“Do you, now? And what makes you think this time will be any different from the last?”
“It’s been months. I feel stronger every day.” He was scampering about my desk as I worked, perhaps trying to demonstrate his growing strength.
“I seem to recall you saying something along those lines the last time you wanted to try and then knocking yourself out for two weeks,” I pointed out evenly. Children. So impatient. He’d escaped Death itself, yet he couldn’t seem to sit still long enough for his power to recover.
“But it’s different now. I really feel better. Let me try this time, and if I still can’t do it, I’ll wait until you say I’m ready.” He knew I had a weakness for wagers like that, so he knew just how to get me on his side.
“Fine, fine. You can try again if you like, but don’t expect sympathy from me when you can’t move for a month afterward.” Disregarding my warnings, he scurried down to the floor in front of me, a furry, green ball of anticipation. I gestured at him lazily and intoned, “Say it with me, now: Eins, zwei, drei!” In a cloud of green smoke, the rodent disappeared from my office floor to be replaced by my younger brother, Amaimon. As the cloud about him dissipated, I could see a toothy grin on his face.
“I told you I could do it, aniue!” He then promptly collapsed to the floor. “…ow.”
“Mm-hm,” I muttered, not looking up from my paperwork. It served him right for being so cocky and disrespectful after I had been gracious enough to take care of him while he was recuperating; he should be made to just lie there a suffer for a bit.
“Aniue,” he whined, writhing on the ground. His tail weakly brushed my leg, but I ignored it. After a moment of consideration, he switched tactics. “Aniue. Tasukete~…” Oh, my. Upon hearing him speak that way, I felt a shiver run down my spine from the tone in his voice. Who knew that such simple words (when said just right) would have such an effect on me?
“Hm. When did you become such a skilled manipulator?” I asked, finally turning my attention to him. He gave a slight shrug in response.
“I just know what you like.” Too right, little brother.
“So you do,” I conceded with a sigh. “Very well, come here.” Out of respect for his talent at tempting me, I left my chair and knelt to pick him up, lifting him effortlessly in my arms. Much to my surprise, he wrapped his arms around my neck and kissed me firmly on the mouth. Considering how long it had been since I’d had him, I let slide the bold act and focused all my energy on kissing him back. By the time he broke away, he was breathing heavily against my lips, his eyes glazed over and shining. Had he not been in such a weak state, I would have had him bent over my desk in a matter of seconds.
“Sorry,” he mumbled. “I’ve been wanting to do that for months.”
“There’s no need to apologize. I’m sure you’ve been suffering in that limited form. And even now, when you’re yourself again, you’re so weak you can hardly move on your own,” I said sympathetically, almost patronizingly.
“I’m kind of tired,” he agreed, slumping in my arms. “Shapeshifting takes a lot of energy…”
“Well, not for me.” As I carried him back to my bedroom, he gave me a look.
“I almost died. It’s different.”
“Yes, I’m sure,” I answered as I deposited him in my bed. “You should get some rest now, or you’ll never be able to maintain this form. I’ll have something for you to eat when you wake.”
“Wait!” He took a secure hold of my sleeve before I could leave, looking up at me pleadingly. “I don’t want to sleep yet. I wanted you to—”
“I understand your eagerness perfectly,” I assured him, letting my hand gently stroke his cheek. Truth be told, if my self-control had faltered for even a moment, I would’ve been instantly upon him… However, regardless of how much I wanted him, the fact remained that he wasn’t ready yet. “…but I’m sure you realize that there’s no way you could handle my affections in this state. You’ll have to be patient just a while longer, I’m afraid.”
“But I don’t want—” He paused as I raised my hand in front of him. Then, with a snap of my fingers, he was out like a light, falling unconscious against the mountain of pillows behind him.
“Sweet dreams, my little prince,” I cooed as I tucked him into the covers. Loathe as I was to leave him when he looked so adorable and vulnerable, I did still have work to do, and it would be better to finish it while he slept…so that when he awoke, I could give him my full attention. As I strode back into my office, I summoned my familiar, and he sat on the edge of my desk. “Ukobach. I need you to make something sweet for dinner; our little Earth King will wake in a few hours, and he gets quite cranky when he’s hungry.”