“Are you sure?”
“Am I sure, what?” Winse asked.
Lymph huddled close by, so tiny compared to Winse’s bulk. Winse now had 13M on him in size, a behemoth compared to the fragile Skydancer. Lymph remembered a time when they were similar in size. It felt like so long ago.
Lymph mustered his courage again. “Are you sure that you love Betes?”
“Why are you concerned about that? That’s my business,” Winse huffed.
Lymph refused to turn tail and run, give up. This was important. Important enough to risk a verbal conflict with his larger sibling.
Sibling…because that’s what they were. Hatchlings raised alongside one another. Who needed the same blood to be siblings? Their own flesh and blood was who knows where. They abandoned them. Who needed to be flesh and blood to be siblings?
“Is mother okay with that?” Lymph asked.
“Why do you care so much?”
Because mother might not approve. Because mother worries about us. Because we may be mother’s kids but Betes is one of her children, her flesh and blood children. We’re just adopted, found abandoned in the wastes. We and Betes and Losis are different. We are not the same in her eyes. What will she think if our blood intermingles with her own?
All of these thoughts raced through Lymph’s mind, wishing to pour from his mouth and make Winse understand. This was wrong. Something about it made Lymph’s scales prickle.
“Is mother okay with it?”
“Betes and I made our decision. She wants a nest and so do I,” Winse said firmly.
“Is mother okay with it?” Lymph pressed.
“Is she okay with you and Leth?” Winse countered. He smirked when his smaller sibling flinched. “You’re doing the same thing as me. You’re hitching up with a ‘sibling’. I don’t see her complaining about that.”
“Leth and Betes are different!” Lymph argued. “Leth was abandoned, like us! It’s okay! But Betes is our mother’s daughter, related to her through blood!”
“So it’s okay for you two to have a nest but the instant it’s me, it’s wrong?”
“That’s not what I’m saying,” Lymph denied. “It’s Betes, not you.”
“So Betes shouldn’t get to have children?”
“I’m not saying that either!”
“Then what are you saying? That I’m nest-robbing?” Winse demanded, teeth bared. “You’re no different than me in that department. You knew Leth when she was a day old and you were fully grown. Now look at you!”
“Leth is a week younger than me,” Lymph argued coldly, unable to hide the bitter anger nipping at his words. “Betes is two weeks younger than you, nearing three.”
“So it’s wrong? What about what mom and dad did, huh? When they had their first nest before they found me and the others?” Winse barked.
Lymph flinched. He didn’t like thinking about what happened before he was found in the wastes. It meant acknowledging the trio of graves outside of the lair, the ones whose names he couldn’t attach faces to. They had died before he was born, the failure of Safe and Zone’s first attempt at a future.
Their parents had been days old when they had that nest. Maybe too young to be having a nest. At least they had been the same age when they did it.
But Winse and Betes…
“It doesn’t matter what they say. Betes and I have made up our minds,” Winse said firmly. “In seven days, she and I will have a nest. You just keep your nose in your own business.”
Lymph stepped away. Winse was so determined. It scared the shadow Skydancer.
“Besides, you shouldn’t panic so much. In four days, you and Leth will be tending to your own nest,” Winse recalled tiredly. “Just think about that, okay? Betes and I will get by on our own.”
“What about mother?”
Lymph reluctantly left, going back to the lair. That hurt. There was already so much friction between Winse and their adoptive parents. Lymph truly didn’t wish to see anymore of the same.
He wished Winse would wait. Betes was still just a baby.
Then again, maybe they all were. After all, Safe and Zone themselves were only four weeks old as of now.
Maybe he was overthinking this.
Or maybe he wasn’t.