Chapter Eight: Let Them Eat Soup
Immediately noticing the sudden blush on Fluttershy's face, a responding pink bloomed upon Smokey's scaly cheeks. Ear frills drooping slightly in flustered embarrassment, he held free hand up in a defensive gesture with a light shake.
I-I didn't mean it like that, Miss Fluttershy. I just, uh, thought that
you know, it's good for a child to have a male figure and a female figure to look up to, a-and since we found her, w-why not it be us? Why can't she call us Mom and Dad? We
we wouldn't be
you know, a couple, or anything--just friends.
if you are all right with calling me your friend." With a nervous chuckle, the dragon ran his clawed hand over the flexible orange spines jutting from the back of his neck, thinking how awkward the situation had turned out to be. If only he'd chosen his words more carefully in the first place.
The little white bundle of downy feathers and fur chirped lightly to the pegasus holding her, her tiny beak attempting to preen the small hairs on the pony's chest for a few seconds before she grew bored of it. Wriggling her way out of the equine's forelegs, she crawled over to the pillow, her bright eyes wide with childish curiosity as she gazed upon the bouquet Smokey had bought.
Fluttershy nervously gave a small grin, with a soft yet audible "squee" sound as she did so.
"Oh, no, that's
that's fine." She continued to blush as she gazed off in the opposite direction of the chick, rubbing her now free hooves together. "I understand." Bringing her hooves in closer to her chin, her grin shrank into a smaller smile with a brief giggle.
I'd love to be your friend Mr. Smokey," she said, returning her eyes to his, her voice growing a bit stronger and more pronounced as she slowly relaxed. He really was a nice dragon, she was beginning to fathom.
The large reptile's smile increased in length at the mare's acceptance, a rising tempo of bliss filling every fiber of his body. He actually had to restrain himself from leaping at her and enveloping her in a tight hug--even more so than a few moments ago due to that adorable noise she emitted. At the very most, he allowed his tail to give a happy swish.
"Thank you, Lady Fluttershy
" His voice was straining to retain control, as he didn't want to sound too excited and possibly cause another awkward moment. "That
really means a lot to me. I mean, being a traveling magician is great because I can travel all over Equestria, but
it can be very lonely."
Smokey paused as he gave a tilt of his head into the direction of the table on the other side of the room where his animals were still eating. "Their company is wonderful. I love them very much, and I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world, but it's nice to have someone who I can actually hold a conversation with."
"Oh, that's right." Fluttershy paused and looked around. "I almost forgot about that."
She gazed around his humble abode, the warm and homely environment suggesting to have more of an air of permanence. It suddenly dawned on her that Smokey didn't seem to have much--in fact, it seemed he lived a minimalist lifestyle. "You must've met a lot of ponies during your travels."
Smokey's brows furrowed lightly as his mind scanned the various ponies who had been brave enough to approach him personally. Almost all of those equines had been past employers he worked for before taking up his occupation as traveling entertainment. Fortune hadn't smiled upon him in his early years, as the ponies he had worked for treated him more like a slave than a fellow citizen.
"I have met a few ponies in my life, but usually ponies just stayed away from me outside of work. It comes with being a dragon, I suppose." A frown quickly replaced his smile, sadness descending upon him as images of frightened Equestrians flashed through his mind.
His thoughts were swiftly derailed as his ear frills perked, picking up the sound of glass scraping across the stone floor. Emerald eyes swiveling into the direction of the noise, the dragon realized the baby griffon was uncomfortably close to the vase that held the bouquet. He noticed it was now positioned a few inches away from the exact spot he had planted it. She must've moved it, he concluded.
Just as the baby pawed at it, tipping it over this time, Smokey lunged at it. Landing on his belly with an "Oof!" and extending his arm, the vase landed safely in his cupped hand.
"Oh! Careful!" she called over, moving to scoop up the chick in her forelegs again--at least, long enough to deposit her back onto the mattress next to her and away from the vicinity of the vase. A twang of guilt strummed through her; she had been so focused on the dragon before her, she entirely neglected the poor child.
"Are you okay, Smokey?" she asked, risking a quick glance at the draconian while still keeping an eye on the baby to make sure she didn't try anything like that again.
The chick giggled, batting a foot playfully at Fluttershy's dangling mane before gathering herself to pounce on her hoof, and nuzzled her head against her leg in a show of affection. In return, Fluttershy rubbed the little one's head while she waited for Smokey's reply.
A resounding chuckle emanated from Smokey. Dragging himself back with the vase in a firm grip, he pushed himself into his previous sitting position. "Of course," he replied with a toothy grin.
If he hadn't taken a painkiller earlier, the action he performed surly would've jostled the pain in his wounds. Eyes lowering to the flowers in the vase, he lifted his free hand to reposition them. "I got these for you. I always believed that nothing says 'get well soon' better than flowers."
While this was indeed true, a small part of him also wanted to see her reaction to such a gesture. Maybe he would get another adorable flustered response. Eager to see what the mare would do, his vision returned to her.
Thank you," Fluttershy managed to mumble out. She honestly hadn't expected to receive flowers--even if they were for the winged reptile showing his concern for her well being. Slowly and cautiously, she leaned off to the side to take a couple of sniffs, blushing all the while. "They're
lovely. And they smell
Smokey was satisfied with the mare's reaction. She was just positively adorable when she blushed! "You're welcome. I'm glad to see your sinuses have cleared up enough to smell. Perhaps I should give you your soup before they clog up again."
Vase still in his grip, his attention traveled back to the jar of baby food he had set down abreast the mattress. "Hm
Maybe it would be considered child abuse to make the child eat something that actually tastes that bad," he added with a chuckle, and tossed a playful grin at Fluttershy. "I suppose she can have soup as well, until I re-check the kinds of baby food I bought."
"Yes, that would be a good idea," she chuckled. "On both accounts."
Settling back down on the mattress, Fluttershy covered herself with the blanket again. While she was beginning to feel a little bit better, she still felt rather tired--and her stomach was rumbling. Soup sounded delicious right now. She wasn't sure if she could ingest anything solid. Gazing down at the baby beside her, she reached out with her good hoof to gently rub her head again.
"Would you like to curl back up with me?" she asked. "Smokey
I mean, Daddy's getting some nummies for us."
"And medicine." Smokey reminded himself of the full bottle he left on the counter among the array of items he had purchased earlier. Rising onto his feet, he strode back into the kitchen, setting the vase onto the counter and retrieved two bowls of vegetable soup--one containing a less amount than the other. He didn't want to give the skinny griffon too much food. He would gradually increase the amount in her meals.
The yellow pegasus smiled into the direction of the kitchenette as she snuggled into the sheets. Feeling a bit sleepy, she waited for Smokey to return as she stroked the baby's down and fur. She was just about to nod off when she heard her caretaker's claws scribbling on the floor.
Returning to the winged equine and their newly adopted child with the hot soup, the dragon slowly lowered himself back onto his knees. His own stomach was nagging at him for sustenance, but he wanted his guests to eat their fill first.
Smelling the tantalizing scent of the soup, the baby griffin lunged at the reptile's lap and squawked her eagerness to devour what ever he had that smelled so good.
"Hold on. Your food needs to cool first," Smokey chuckled with a warm and adoring smile directed at the youngster.
Sitting up with a smile directed at the dragon, she nodded in agreement. "He's right, sweetie. You'll have to wait a little, first."
The baby griffon didn't understand the meaning of waiting, all she knew was she was hungry and wanted food now. As a result, she squawked louder at the dragon, who merely smiled down at her with patient eyes.
"In a few minutes, I promise." Holding out the bowl with the larger quantity of soup out for Fluttershy to take, the book filled with baby names suddenly reminded him of something. "We need to pick out a name for her, don't we, Miss Fluttershy? I got a book of baby names while I was out."
Fluttershy graciously accepted the bowl. Smiling warmly at Smokey, she gave a nod of gratitude before taking a breath and blowing to cool the soup down a little. As the red-scaled creature voiced his suggestion, her ears perked up at the thought.
"That's a wonderful idea," she stated, turning her attention to the griffon chick. "Yes, that's right, she does need a name, doesn't she? I wonder what would be a good name for her?"
"What ever fits her, I suppose," he replied before blowing into the bowl currently in his hands.
After a few minutes elapsed, he finally lowered the bowl to a level where the chick could reach it. The baby griffon chirped, face diving straight into the soup, and slurping it up ravenously. Smokey laughed in bemusement, removing one hand from the bowl to stroke the length of the infant's body. "Careful there, darling. We don't want you to get a bad tummy ache."
Fluttershy giggled again, her giggling growing into an outright laugh as she watched the young baby. Finally tearing her vision from the chick, she raised the bowl to her lips and slowly slurped down the liquid--feeling the hot meal slide down her throat and warm her up from the inside. Lowering the bowl, she blushed lightly as she let out a contented sigh.
" she hummed, licking her lips. "This is wonderful. Thank you, Smokey." With that, she took another large sip, taking care not to eat too quickly.
The dragon smiled, feeling a swell of gratification at the compliment over his soup. "You're welcome. I am glad you like it. There is plenty, so if you want more, all you have to do is ask."
"Thank you." She smiled again, gazing down at their newly and unofficially adopted daughter.
With another amused chuckle at the baby griffon while she quite noisily slurped up her meal, Smokey ran a clawed finger over her downy head. "She certainly is a beautiful baby
Even if she is a noisy eater."
"Yes, she is," the pegasus agreed, taking another long slurp. Feeling that was enough for now--having consumed over half the contents of the bowl--Fluttershy set it down on the stone floor beside the mattress for the time being.
Reaching over, Smokey took Fluttershy's bowl upon noticing the physical signal that she had enough. His eyes went back to her, his mouth opening to say something when he noticed a tiny trickle of broth on her lower lip. Settling the bowl beside the jar of baby food, he brought his hand to her face, his thumb gently wiping off the rivulet of soup.
You had a little on your face."
The pegasus hadn't even realized that she had left a small mess on her face. She was so content with watching the baby eat that she had not felt the tiny stream on her bottom lip. As he reached her for her, she gazed up at him in wonderment, and finally understood when Smokey made that quick wipe with his thumb. Her heart beat faster, and she subconsciously felt a desire to lean into his touch. Feeling her cheeks flush with blood, she went red in the face for the third time that hour.
thank you, Smokey." She gave a shy smile, as a lock of her rosy hair fell out of place and covered her left eye.
The winged beast let out a soft laugh, his chest growing warm at the sight of her. "You're welcome, Miss Fluttershy."
He took a moment to look at her, charmed once again by her bashful behavior. Deciding to tease her again, he extended his hand to her head again, the dull tips of his talons gliding across her hot cheek as his fingers pushed the stray lock of mane out of her face. "Are you always this adorably shy, my dear?" he asked in a playful tone, his eyes narrowed a little and his brow arched with a just as playful grin.
Her blush going even deeper, her lips lightly pursed and quivered as she felt a chill tingle down her spine at his caress. She squeaked out lightly, shrinking back and partially away from him as she averted her eyes.
She mumbled out a response, though it was muddled and mostly inaudible and Smokey was unable to hear it.
Smokey drew his hand away from her with another resounding chuckle. "I'm going to guess that was a yes."
The dragon stole another moment to indulge himself in Fluttershy's shyness before he was eventually interrupted by a rather loud belch coming from his lap. Tipping his nose downward, he found that the baby griffon had eaten her fill, a satisfied smile tipping her little black beak as she flopped over with a sigh. Her entire face was soaked with broth, tiny tidbits of carrot and celery clinging to the down in various spots.
The pegasus became oddly thankful that the baby chick diverted his attention. Pulling away from his touch, she glanced down at the small child upon the dragon's lap and gave a little giggle as she observed her.
"Someone needs another bathing." Scooping up the baby griffin in his arms, he lifted himself off of his haunches. As he was about to turn away, Smokey went to Fluttershy with a question apparent on his features. "Miss Fluttershy? Would you like a cup of hot tea to wash down the taste of the medicine after I give it to you?"
Hearing his question, the mare turned her eyes back upon his own, giving a shy nod. She hadn't thought about it at first, but now that he mentioned it, some hot tea would be wonderful to wash down the soup she had just consumed.
yes. That would be
wonderful. Thank you."
"Alright then. I shall get to it after I give our little bundle of joy a bath." Moving the baby into one arm, Smokey bent over to pick up both bowls, stacking one in the other, and curled the end of his tail around the jar of baby food when he turned around.
Depositing the bowls into one section of the sink and lifting his tail to set the jar upon the counter, the dragon turned on the squeaky tab and proceeded to bathe the griffon.