Gadgets & People
Part IV: The Amphibians & the Bat
Sana practically ran toward me. “Hey Jay.” She said with a grin.
I wrapped my arms around her and squeezed her tightly. “I missed you Sana.” I let her go just as Vani and Amrita came to my side. “I missed you too little monkey.” I said kissing my little sister. “And you too Amrita.”
“One of these days I’m going to have to whoop your butt until you start calling me mum again.” She said severely, one hand on her hip and the other securing Vani.
“No but, I changed your diapers, feed you, dressed you. I don’t care where you came from, you’re my son Sanjay. And how you came to be isn’t your fault.”
Unlike Vani and Sana, I wasn’t her real son; instead being the result of one of my dad’s spousal indiscretions… Ever since I had learned that Amrita wasn’t my real mum, it had always felt wrong to call her that…
“Beside if it wasn’t for you, I’d never would’ve gotten my two wonderful girls.”
“I want to swim!” Vani declared, pointing toward the hot tub, having just noticed it. Ahti’s family had already laid claim to it, sitting down as a group in the water having removed their clothes.
“You want to go with the nice Itharii?” Amrita asked, to which Vani nodded.
We all went to the hot tub where Ahti’s mums looked at us.
“Hello, would you be okay if we join you?” Amrita asked.
“Of course not, there’s plenty of space.” One of Ahti’s mum answered. “I’m Zukii, this is my mate Tzama, our little one Ahti and our daughter Kulaat.”
Itharii could be a little hard to differentiate at times if you weren’t used to it, Ahti’s family was a very diverse lot. While their children were orange skinned, the parents were yellow and tan colored. Add to that the fact that Ahti and Kulaat were easy to differentiate — even if you ignored the fact that Ahti glowed blue— Ahti’s spots were big and asymmetrical while Kulaat’s were small and round. The two of them were nuzzling together. Itharii hadn’t been a species I’d studied but from what I’d learned and seen, they were very touchy-feely.
My stepmum introduced us and we joined them for a soak, Vani getting undressed while the rest of us only soaked our legs in the water. However Vani didn’t go in, instead clinging to her mum.
“What’s wrong honey? Feeling a little shy?” Amrita asked only for Vani to bury her face in her mum’s neck.
“Is this her first time meeting an Itharii?” Tzama asked.
“Oh no, we’re friend with a nice family of Itharii we met through her daycare. She just get shy around strangers.”
Which was a good thing if you asked me. At home she was messy, loud and rebellious had she pulled a quarter of what she did at home during daycare she’d probably be on a universal blacklist.
“We don’t bite little human.” Zukii said. “Would you like some kuroo? We brought some for Ahti, but I’m sure they won’t mind sharing.”
“I don’t.” Ahti declared.
“You can have some, but just a bit, dinner’s soon.” Amrita said.
“Yes, I want some. I love kuroo.” Vani said, letting go of her mum who gently lowered her into the water.
Kuroo was an Itharii treat, kind of like a sweet syrupy granola bar. It was one of little Uta’s favorite treats and by extension had become one Vani’s too. Vani swam to the Itharii’s side like a champion and sat on Zukii’s legs, getting a piece of Kuroo and chewing on it.
“I’m guessing dad couldn’t come?” I asked my mum, my voice low.
“He’s really busy with a special project. Barely comes home these last few days.” Amrita said, but I knew it was an excuse, maybe hoping to spare my feelings.
My chest sunk a little. My father, Chandra, had never been the paternal type with me. With the girls, yes, but I’d always been more his apprentice and successor more than his son. And since I’d gone to Ravenhold, he’d yet to call. It was hard to feel as if doing this wasn’t like some betrayal to him…
“How have you been?” She asked, giving me a hug.
“I’ve been alright, made some friends.”
“You, friends?” Sana said, clearly finding the idea unbelievable. “Mum, I think Sanjay’s been replaced by a mirror universe doppelganger.” She then said in a hushed tone but loud enough so she’d know I’d hear.
“Yes I have friends. And before you ask, they’re the flesh and blood type.”
As I said that Caroline came by, making the rounds to greet everyone and check for food restrictions and informing us about what dinner was as well the vegetarian and pescetarian options. Soon after she moved on to the next group, Ahti and Kulaat got out of the tub and toward the kitchen where Charlie was helping. They called her over and she joined them.
As Ahti introduced their clutchmate, Charlie kind of stood there, smiling absently as she looked at Kullat, blushing ever so slightly. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that she really liked what she saw. Which was alright, people liked who they like, who was I to judge?
I noticed Jaeger zoom past everyone and toward the stairs. I got up and intercepted him just as his foot touched the first step, putting a hand on his shoulder. His family wasn’t there, if he had any. Like almost everything, it was one of those subject he wouldn’t say a word on. After a month of knowing him and I knew virtually nothing about him, I could see he was carrying a lot inside but whenever I’d ask if he was alright, invariably he’d say he was fine…
“Want to meet my family?” I offered.
“Sure.” He said with a shrug, his tone meaning it more like a ‘fuck off’
I didn’t accept his grumpiness, instead dragging him to the hot tub.
“Hey, this is my roommate Jaeger.” I said. “This is my step mum Amrita, my sister Sana and the little one over there is Vani.” Amrita shot me a glare about calling her my step-mother seeing as she’d just given me a speech about it, but it still felt wrong…
As much as we tried to include Jaeger in the conversation, he just stared blankly ahead, only giving a few words whenever directly pressed for an answer. He didn’t even take the opportunity to embarrass me by telling Sana some juicy anecdote.
“You should’ve seen Charlie, she was blushing and clearly crushing on Ahti’s sister.” I said, knowing Charlie was one of his hot button, hoping to get him a little less comatose looking.“It was kind of cute.”
There was a second before his expression lit up with a grin. “Thank you!” He quickly hugged me. I just blinked and he took off, leaving me to wonder what the heck had just happened.
So much for trying to get him to be sociable… At least he seemed a little less depressed, even if I had the feeling telling him about Charlie was going to bring trouble…