Paying the Piper
Location: The Forge
Timeline: December 7th, 2011
Cat had been working non stop since the Payers had left. Taking the time to recreate everything the Payers had broken had been a huge project. There were times that Cat had feared that her back would be permanently hunched. She had finished the last of the pieces just a few moments before. Though the last piece was more for her than anyone else. It was a tricky piece with hidden angles that took it to a new level of meaning to her. The piece looked like nothing more than simple flames, nothing that looked to be more than that, however if you looked at it at just the right angle you could see in the heart of the flames a dragon wrapped protectively around a cat. She put the piece in the annealer so that it could cool properly. Once it was safely put away she turned off her torch and gave a huge stretch.
Feeling happy that she had finished the picture frame that Benny had asked her to make for Draco she decided to relax in her seat for a moment. She never even noticed when she fell asleep and even less when she shifted so that she was pillowing her head on her arms on the table.
"Cat?" Draco asked the soft darkness as he glanced around the forge. His eyes hadn't adjusted to the dim light yet, but he knew this was where he'd find her and was hoping for another lesson in being an orphan, preferably one that did not involve all her siblings help, "You in here?"
The lights that she used to see while she was working haloed her workbench in a golden circle that brought out the purple highlights in her nearly black hair. She lay slumped over the table, her arms stretched out in front of her. Her hair hid her face from view but there were scores of glass and metal figurines on the racks near her. Showing just how hard she had been working over the last few days. She didn't even move when Drake called her name the safety of the forge letting her sleep as deeply as she would if she had been in her own bed. The last few days had been a flurry of activity, as she tried to replace a year's worth of work in less than a month. She had pretty much been living in the forge only leaving to eat and sleep when Hulga had physically picked her up and put her out of the building. Her tattered forge clothes showed flashes of paler than normal skin, new holes had appeared where sparks had burned through the cloth and sooty hand prints stood out starkly on her waist where she had propped her hands on her hips.
Drake chuckled softly, he had raided the kitchen and had his messenger bag full of food and treats in an effort to get Cat to eat something and set her at ease. She always seemed wound tight whenever he was around and he wanted to change that. Smiling he pulled a chocolate eclair from the tupper they were stowed in and waved it near where Cat's nose should have been. They were fresh and in the heat of the forge smelled amazing.
Like many females the smell of chocolate caused Cat's nose to twitch, which was closely followed by a pair of blearily blinking eyes staring out through the curtain of her hair at the pastry. It took a few moments for her brain to process exactly what her nose was telling her. She gave a long lazy stretch, arms above her head and back arched as she finished waking up. Waking up fast had never really been Cat's forte and so she was still in a bit of a haze as she looked up at Drake. Normally her brain and body warred with how to react whenever Drake was around but right now her brain wasn't fully engaged so her body remained loose and lazy. "How did you know those were my favorites?" She asked with a sleepy purr still in her voice.
"I didn't, I told the kitchen helpers... you guys have a name for them but I can't remember it, I told them I was bringing you some food and they told me you liked them," Draco said, not wanting to take credit for something that wasn't him, he opened his bag to show her the rest of the food.
"You mean the Kitchen Pigs?" Cat asked as she stuck her nose into the bag and saw more of her favorites. A grin lit her face as she saw the fresh veggies and the seafood salad sandwiches that the Kitchen Pigs had packed up for her. She looked back up at Draco and he could see the dark circles that were under her eyes but at the same time the turquoise orbs sparkled with happiness. She moved pieces out of the way and carefully set them on the metal shelves that held their fellows. "I just have a couple more pieces in the annealer then I can start wrapping them all." She finished cleaning the table off and moved to grab his stool. "Here, we can have a picnic here, if you want?" She gave him a sweet smile. "After all you were kind enough to bring me something to eat."
"I was hoping for a picnic," Drake said with a bit of a lopsided smile. He moved what he was starting to think of as his stool to the place he knew was allowed and sat. "You've done enough to earn a day off," he chided softly as he began laying out containers and a plate for each of them, "Besides, I have a feeling your little red headed shadow can help with wrapping. She came into the kitchen about 5 minutes after I had with the same intention but told me to go on ahead she was going to go sort your laundry instead."
"Which red headed shadow? Angel?" Cat asked slightly confused. Her brain really was not functional when she first woke up, even from a nap. "I was planning on asking her for help with that. Did you want me to wrap Bennie's present too or do you want to do that?" She looked up into his eyes and was caught for an instant in the amber gaze. "Did you know you have the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen?" Without the filter between her brain and mouth she let slip the complement before she could stop herself and her cheeks flushed a bright red as she realized what she had said. "I mean... the color is spectacular and really hard to get out of glass." She stopped as she saw the yawning hole that she was digging as she spoke. "I think I'll shut up now..."
"Good plan," Drake said with a laugh pushing a plate in front of her, "If you can box the present I can wrap it, I've always wrapped her present in funny papers, but I pull them offline and print out just her favorites."
Cat looked down at the plate as the blush stained her cheeks started to fade. "That's sweet. Yeah I can box it up no problem." She said softly. She looked up at him through her long lashes for a second before taking a bite of her sandwich. "So what brings you and the picnic to me?"
"You work too hard and don't eat," Drake said then looked down, "and other then Bennie you are the only one I really feel like I know."
She stared at him for a moment as his words processed. Cat knew better than anyone else that she tended to throw herself into her work. She just loved making things, it was gratifying to her in a way that not many people understood, and even more so when people enjoyed what she made. It was the fact that Drake put her in the same camp as his little sister that shocked her the most. She shook her head to clear the wandering thoughts that had started to crop up and gave him a broad smile. "Thanks. I do tend to get carried away when I'm working. Though normally I don't have quite so much work to do as I have this last month. However I do appreciate the worry. So how are you adjusting to life here?"
"Hard to say really," Drake said, dishing himself up a small plate of food. He didn't want to finish anything off in case she wanted to go back for seconds. "It's kinda surreal, I mean, you all have been orphans all your lives, none of you have siblings that you are blood related to...but at the same time we are still all in the same boat... I guess the answer is that I am not used to it yet but I'm working on it."
"Do you like it here? I mean if you had any choice about whether or not you guys had to stay?" Cat asked as she took another bite of food.
"Don't ask me that Cat," Drake said softly not meeting her eyes, "I loved this school, when it was just a school. But as a home... I have a home... a home where my parents were killed... "
Cat winced, "Drake, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bring that up." She sighed as her shoulders slumped slightly. "I can't even imagine how you feel, it was stupid and thoughtless of me. I really am sorry."
Drake looked up at her and put a smile on his face, "It's okay babe, not your fault it happened." He decided on a change of subject, "So what's this I hear about some special price for tattoos? I am still getting used to the whole credit verses money thing, but from what i heard it's not the same for tats."
Again Cat's brain seemed to lock up as she tried to get past the word babe. She blinked at him for a solid moment before the rest of his statement processed through. A blush slowly spread up her cheeks as she nodded slowly. "Yeah. Tattoos are done by Kyort and he set the price. You sure you want to know?" She asked as she looked at him solidly.
Drake quirked a brow at her and shrugged, "Yeah? I guess? I mean why wouldn't I?"
Cat gave him a shrug before she spoke. "You have to sleep with Kyort. At least that's the only form of payment I've heard of him using." She raised a brow at him almost challengingly, waiting to see how he would react.
His face pinked as it registered surprise and he opened his mouth to say... what? He closed it and a deep frown marred his features as he thought about what she'd said and the context he'd learned about the special price for tattoos.
Drake had gone back to the kitchens with the idea of taking lunch out to Cat in the forge. He'd eaten sparingly at his own meal with just that intention in mind.
"Lunch is over stud muffin," came a low feminine voice from behind him.
"What?" Drake said, turning on his heel to find Cat's roommate Angel.
"It's okay,"she laughed softly, "I was going to take her some food myself, but I've got other things I can be doing, I'll just make sure you take her the right stuff," Angel said as she crossed the room and entered into quick negotiations with the kitchen pigs.
Draco just watched in amazement as she put together a meal for him to take to Cat. The way the Orphans acted with each other was still a marvel to him, they were blunt and coarse but somehow completely respectful all at the same time.
Before he knew what was happening Angel had opened his bag and started packing containers into it.
"Can I asked you something?" Drake asked Angel as she worked.
"You just did but I'll let you ask me something else," she shot him a grin.
"What are you getting Cat for Christmas?" Drake had been trying to put together gift ideas for all the people he was getting to know but so far hadn't had much luck.
Angel stopped what she was doing and looked up at Drake thoughtfully before answering, "I'm paying for her tattoo. She wasn't interested in... the price so I am going to take care of it for her."
"The price?" Drake asked, slightly confused since everything was done on a credits system around here.
Angel's smile turned pointedly wicked, "Ask Cat what the cost of a tattoo is, don't you dare tell her what I am doing, but you should ask her the price. Alright that's everything, have fun!"
"Um.... okay..." Drake, wholy confused watched as Angel wiggled her fingers and skipped out of the room without a backwards glance.
Drake took a deep breath, still frowning, "I guess if it were two consenting adults that wouldn't be an issue. It prostitution in a way but that's not that big a deal," Drake was thinking out loud now, he'd always thought it was a stupid law so that didn't bother him. "But I've seen orphans with tats and we're the oldest class, only 16 maybe 17. And Kyort's what... 40? 50?"
"We're pretty much considered adults here at 16." Cat shrugged again, she had never really thought of the age issue. "You know we don't do things the same way as the world outside of the school. Kyort doesn't need credits from us and well the teachers live here pretty much year round just like the rest of us Orphans. Besides if we're old enough to have sex with each other what would Kyort's age have anything to do with it? In medieval times I would be considered a spinster since I'm not already married. It's all about how you look at the situation."
Drake nodded but it was obvious he was going to have to mull this thought over for a while. He could see her point but at the same time he hadn't been raised here, and to him 16 was still a kid, True he wasn't a virgin but his step mother had flipped her lid when she found condoms in his backpack; she'd only calmed down when his father had pointed out that at least he was using protection.
After a long moment of silence where Drake sat and shreded a piece of bread while he thgouht about it he looked up nodding a little as he came to a conclusion, "I am sure of two things, first, if no one is getting hurt or coersed, then it's none of my business."
Cat quirked a questioning brow at him as she waited a moment before she asked. "And the second?"
"I won't be getting a tattoo anytime soon."