Chapter Three

 A Patreon exclusive story by Meraki P. Lyhne


Waking up in Dawdon’s arms that morning had left Aaron disorientated for a few moments, then ridiculously happy that he’d spend that quality time with him. Not that they’d had time to talk or anything, but Aaron had felt…supported and cared for, and he’d felt safe with him.

Upon waking up, he hadn’t known what time it was. Only the thought of a Guard Lord or Lady standing outside waiting had made him care enough to search for his phone. He’d spent the entire night with Dawdon and woken up a little before half past six.

Now he was home, sitting in the kitchen and having brunch with Alex and the humans, while Dawdon and Geardon were out finding a story for the newspaper.

Aaron’s thoughts kept returning to Dawdon, which caused a flutter to his stomach. Either that, or his thoughts would go to the fact that his dad was on his way to the House to be there for Aaron while Daniel was off doing Kingly stuff.

Again, he checked the phone, figuring that Daniel had to write him, soon. He had. Why hadn’t Aaron noticed?

Check my app.

Oh, yeah. Because the platform the Cubi used to text on was new to Aaron, encrypted, and not set on notifications. Seriously, they’d made an app for them, only, and Aaron was still figuring out the interface. It was a mashup of a lot of other platforms’ features, and it was pretty capable when it came to photos. The vanity of the race sure stood out there.

It was also very practical with schedules attacked to each profile, and it, or parts of it, could be shared with others. Like work schedule. Aaron had no one to share with there, yet he wondered if he should see the dance studio as work and make a schedule to share with students and stuff. He probably should, considering it was the contribution he could make for the House of Daniel.

“Alex, do you use this work schedule thing in the Beaudon app?”

“Yes. A lot. I should have sent a task to your profile.”

“Really?” Aaron looked through it.

“Go to schedule, click the red thing,” Alex said. Aaron did, and something popped up with a little ping-noise. “Click approve, and it’ll be added to your schedule.”

Aaron did as instructed, and meal times automatically filled out for a week. “Cool.” He then tried to find the message from Daniel, finally managing a carousel of pictures taken from the plane, and one from…a chopper he guessed. Some were pictures of a gorgeous old castle looking building, and one had a caption: Ela’s crib. “Wow!” Aaron turned the phone for Alex to see.

Alex’s brows shot up. “Holy shit, that’s gorgeous.”

“Right?” Aaron sat back and continued through the images, finding more with Daniel getting bearhugged by the two ancient lovers, Nol-Elakdon and Randr, his room for the stay, and one of the view out the window of what Aaron imagined was the room, considering the order of the images. What looked like wolves raced through the yard there. Aaron knew nothing of Elakdon’s country, but Denmark apparently had wildlife close by. Very close by.

A red thingy popped up, so he poked that. Freydon had scheduled them for meeting up. “So, a red thingy is what? A suggestion for the calendar, and you accept or decline an appointment?”

“Yes. You can change the colors to fit you. Like color coordinate your timetable.”

“Awesome…” Aaron approved it for Freydon to stop by around noon, then looked through the others. Guard Lord Bowdon had sent him one. It simply said be home at two. Approve because declining a Guard Lord or Lady was a no-no. That set Aaron’s mind back on the big thing that day. Meeting his biological dad. It double booked him with Freydon, so Aaron spent some time figuring out how to add a comment or adjustment to an appointment, but he really wanted Freydon there. At least until Matadon arrived. “Wait, I can add my dance students in here and share schedules with them?”

Alex chuckled. “I’ll take you though it, yeah. I’ve given feedback on the app’s user-friendliness to optimize that because it’s not as easy as it could be at the moment.”

 Aaron nodded, staring at the appointment from Guard Lord Bowdon. He still felt confused about meeting his biological dad. Switching to social media and his emails, Aaron checked in on his mom, but she wasn’t the most active user, and the last email had been the same slightly sour undertone at him skipping out all of a sudden, leaving nothing but a note, and his explanations since then had been too vague to satisfy his mother’s need to know her son was okay.

How to distract himself until Freydon arrived? Figure out the work plan for how he could help Daniel, of course. He had to grow into some sense of responsibility and contribute to the House, and he wondered whether dancing was enough. Did it bring enough value for everybody? Or was it like a hobby thing?

Walking around the place, Aaron had noticed people working. As in real work. Someone changing light fixtures. Someone moving furniture around. Someone fixing up Seldon’s vandalism to make it look pretty and intended.

Dawdon had a real job, working for the paper.

To do what Aaron did, though, took a lot of practice and time to plan out, but did it really contribute overall? Or was he being given the opportunity to follow his artistic dream for merely being Daniel’s friend?

He kinda hated that idea, and he wondered whether him growing into his responsibilities lay in having to figure that out for himself?

Those thoughts were boring. He didn’t want to go find a nine to five. But that was probably his age thinking. Daniel could flip from one mode to another, and he’d matured way faster. Even Freydon had a job at the House, helping out in provision like his mom, and he was at work now.

What would Matadon be doing? Would Aaron get access to a work schedule there? Did he have access to someone’s work schedule? Or did he have to friend someone? He seriously needed a how-to video for this app.

“Alex, you should totally do a how-to video for this.”

Alex chuckled. “I learned it from one. The tech team made one, and it’s on the intranet. I’ll find it for you on the TV. I think I favorited it, so just go to my playlist.”

“Are you okay, Aaron?” Oliver asked.

Aaron smiled, appreciating the human’s attention. He was happy Oliver had come back to Lord Caledon. “Yeah. I’m just…bogged down by thoughts.”

“If you want a distraction, you can help me finish up your dad’s room today.”

“He’s staying here?”

“Yeah. To be close to you.”

Aaron nodded, thinking. He knew nothing of the man other than what he’d learned from Elakdon, who apparently knew him as a festive guy. And Geodin. She’d smiled warmly when learning who Aaron’s dad was, saying she’d be accessible for Aaron if he needed to talk. “I’ll help.”

But how much did they need to prepare? The guy probably needed his own apartment at some point and get his own life together with being in the House. And a job.

The thoughts left Aaron feeling a bit overwhelmed and tired from not knowing what place he held in the man’s future. Daniel had just left, and Freydon and Dawdon had responsibilities. Everybody in the kitchen had responsibilities. Aaron just had to…make dance classes. He kept returning to that being a hobby.

It did bring him back to wanting to help out with the Natural Beauties. Should he get a job in their inclusion areas? As one of the Cubi helping out, making it a cozy place for them to get to know others? Maybe then he could talk more with Tasha about dancing?

Daniel had said Aaron had an important assignment. That his art was important for the House. That he was using it to the right place—among the Natural Beauties. But that didn’t mean he was contributing optimally to the House by hanging out in high heels, talking about dancing with the future Cubi.

Sure, Aaron’s dancing was good for feeding, but that wasn’t working for the overall betterment of the House, and it was still being built.

Yeah, Aaron should go see the Lord or Lady who was responsible for the inclusion area and see if he could help out with something. He seriously hoped that wasn’t the dishes because then he wouldn’t have access to talk with Tasha or find other dancers.

Was he even being too narrow in his focus on what work he could do there? No one wanted the boring assignments, he guessed, like the guy fixing the light fixtures, but…they did it anyway.

Maybe that was part of growing up and growing into the sense of Cu’Boka? The community spirit that made everybody care about each other and the House?

“I think you need to think about something else now,” Oliver said.

Aaron looked up from his phone, realizing he had scrolled mindlessly, not even seeing the posts. “I think you’re right.” He stood and gathered his plate and cup.

“Just leave it on the counter,” Alex said. “I’ll put it in the dishwasher once I’ve emptied it.”

“Thanks.” Aaron placed the used plate and cup next to the sink, then left with Oliver, who, like Alex, was naked.

Oliver took Aaron through the apartment and to a room Aaron had already spent time in with Daniel. It was next to the dose-free pad that Miguel had helped design, and where Daniel would hang out and be a teen with Aaron and Freydon. Aaron and Freydon hung out there, too, even when Daniel was off doing Kingly stuff.

The room next to it was half as big but still huge, and a bunch of furniture stood in the middle of it all, looking…abandoned. Someone had begun painting the walls, though, making it halfway through the room. It looked weird.

“This is a big room,” Aaron said.

“This is in the Royal apartment, so of course it’s big.”

“Mine isn’t this big.”

Oliver chuckled. “Neither’s mine, but…I think the hope is that you and your dad will get along enough for him to live here but still be independent from the Royal household.”

Aaron’s thoughts hadn’t taken him that far into the immediate future. His mom was way more practical minded than he was, and she seemed to be able to line everything up in a series of actionable steps. Aaron liked not looking at what bothered him. His dad, as a Lord with responsibility, had to be like his mom, making Aaron wonder where his scatterbrain came from.

Maybe he just needed to grow up and take responsibility. And get a job. It could also keep his mind busy while everybody he knew were off contributing to the House of Daniel.

What would Matadon be doing? As a Lord, he’d probably have an important job, and…Aaron should probably strive for something to make his dad proud.

Dammit. He hated feeling insecure like this. It was never like that when dancing. Then it all went away, and Aaron wanted to put on some music and dance. Maybe just music to work?

Looking around and through the bunch in the middle, there was no radio.

No music.

“This is the beginning.” Oliver planted his fists on his hips, glaring at the mountain of furniture and stuff. “You haven’t been with the Cubi that long, have you?”

“Since…Daniel got here.”

“Yeah, that’s not long. I lived with Lord Caledon for years. This is usually how a Cubus is moved. The bare necessities, and they get to build their own and trade stuff around.”

“No one owns stuff?”

“Of course. But the move to this House? Even Lord Seldon don’t have all his stuff from the old apartment in the Great House of Dahlidin. That’s a big move.”

“Yeah, and the railroad isn’t built yet.” Aaron had heard Daniel and a few Grand Lords and Ladies talk about that. Apparently, the old House had a railroad connection.

“Let’s get cracking, shall we?”

Aaron nodded, looking around. “Who paints the walls?”

Oliver snorted. “Someone else!”

Aaron shook his head, grinning. It seemed backward. Or hasty. Yeah, it was hasty. Daniel had had to leave all of a sudden, and getting Matadon to the House was done in haste to secure Aaron. It made him smile that his friend knew him well enough to see to it, but it also made him feel more determined to see to what Daniel cared about while he was away. And what Daniel cared about was his people. Aaron was his people.

It made Aaron quite emotional, and he set in on the boring task with renewed vigor.

 

 

Around noon, Aaron and Oliver had managed to get the bed set up and made it with a pretty chick cover, moved a small desk and chair into place to face the only window in the mountain side, and they were now assembling the closet. It seemed sturdy craftsmanship that could be taken apart and reassembled a million times. It was heavy as all hell, and it bore the signs of having been used for years, yet whoever had used it up until now had also taken well care of it.

People just did that in the Cubi world. He was even sure a Cubus had crafted this closet.

He wondered whether he should just ask the Cubi he’d come to know to help him understand better. Or…maybe it was a conversation to be had with Matadon? It probably was. It could be an icebreaker. Nah, icebreakers were fun, but it could be a question for when they ran out of stuff to talk about because he was sure two perfect strangers, which they really were, would at some point run out of stuff to talk about.

Someone knocked on the door, and Freydon popped his head in. “Hey!”

“Hi.”

“What’s up?” Freydon sauntered inside and looked around.

“We’re getting Matadon’s room ready.”

“And ran out of paint?”

“Someone else left that job half-done, so they get to finish it,” Oliver said. He worked those tools like he knew what he was doing, and Aaron merely had to hold stuff. “There we go.” Oliver sat back and packed some of the tools away. They then helped each other upright the heavy thing. Well, they tried, both straining under the weight of the study piece of furniture. “Where’s a Lord or Lady when you need one,” Oliver grumbled under the weight. “Nope!”

Aaron followed down, almost getting a finger squashed as they set the closet down. They leaned on the closet, heaving.

“I’ll get one.” Freydon dashed off.

Oliver still grumbled as he stood and brushed off his naked body. “I seriously should have opted for clothes here.”

Aaron bit back a comment. But he was an Incubus, so it was apparently a normal thought pattern. Oliver was a very handsome man.

Guard Lady Benidin came in, grinning. “I’m here when needed.”

“That’s really heavy.” Oliver pointed to the closet.

She went to it and up-righted it like it weighed nothing. “Where do you want it?”

“Uhm…” Aaron and Oliver looked at each other.

“There?” Aaron suggested, pointing to the foot of the bed.

The Lady put a hand on the inside of the roof of the cabinet, then lifted the whole thing and walked off with it, using her free hand to balance it. In the meantime, Oliver found a closet door, so Aaron grabbed the other and held them one by one while Oliver secured the hinges.

“Thank you for your help, Guard Lady,” Oliver said.

“You’re welcome. I’ll go find the painter to see if the supplies have arrived.”

“When does your dad arrive?” Freydon asked.

“I’m not sure,” Aaron said. “Guard Lord Bowdon said for me to be home at two.”

“Latest status says they arrive around three.” Guard Lady Benidin left.

“Thank you!” Aaron called after her. What to occupy his mind with until then, now that the final piece of furniture had been placed?

“Well, we’re done,” Oliver said. “Thanks for your help. I’ll go shower and see who’s hungry.”

His help? Aaron figured Oliver had been the one helping him get stuff ready. “Thank you.”

Oliver flashed a smile and left.

Freydon came to Aaron. “You okay? You seemed a bit…sad yesterday.”

“I’m confused as hell.”

Freydon hugged Aaron. “Don’t worry. You got us, you know that.”

And maybe Dawdon.

Aaron felt confused about him, too, along with the emotions that had stirred the day before. He should totally tell Freydon. “Wanna go occupy all of the couch?”

“That’s a big couch. Let’s try.”

They left the room, yet Aaron looked around it before he closed the door, trying to picture the personality that would soon inhabit and rub off on it. He couldn’t, which was part of why he felt so nervous.

Aaron and Freydon found a pitcher of lemonade and some snacks in the kitchen, then flipped through the streaming services until they found something mildly interesting to keep them company.

“What did you do last night? Since you didn’t come by?” Freydon asked. “Mom was worried about you.”

“I…went to Dawdon’s place.”

“Yeah?” Freydon grinned. “Man, he was blushing so hard.” Aaron felt his cheeks grow warm as if on command. “Oh!” Freydon leaned in. “Tell me more,” he whispered.

“I think I’m falling for him.”

A grin spread on Freydon’s face. “Good. He’s a good guy.”

Aaron nodded, grinning goofily. “Maybe we should go to the Natural Beauties. I just have to be back here at two.”

“Let’s please just relax. It was not a good day so far.”

Work. Freydon had work.

“You okay?” Aaron asked.

“Yeah.” Freydon slipped down on the couch, looking like he wanted to sleep. “Everything is still being sorted out how to be optimized, yet one order after another gets lost or doesn’t get there on time, or we’re delayed because we lack inventory, or the supply chain is broken because there’s construction in the House. It’s endless.”

Aaron had nothing. Well, he saw that they’d definitely need a hand, but that didn’t play into him wanting to help with the Natural Beauties.

Then again, what needed to be done and what he wanted to do were two different things. He then remembered that Daniel had told him to focus on the Natural Beauties, and that came from the King. At least that gave him some direction.

“We can see if your dad wants to go help with the Natural Beauties, too?” Freydon suggested.

Back to that.

“I have no idea how anything will be once he gets here.”

Freydon leaned against him. “You nervous?”

“Wouldn’t you be?”

“I guess. But Grand Lady Geodin says he’s a nice guy, right? So did the King of North.”

“Yeah.” But they knew him as a Cubus. Aaron had to get to know him as his dad, and there had to be a big difference there.

“Is it because of your human dad? Like Matadon’s trying to take his place?”

“No! He ditched us when things got hard. We didn’t exactly play into his wants and needs in life once everything started to fall apart, and he even blamed us for it.”

“He sounds like an ass.”

Aaron merely nodded, remembering the argument between his parents. He’d been in his room, listening to music, but then their voices had grown louder and louder until he’d had to turn down the music and listen in.

Aaron’s mom, Linda, had kept working on salvaging their business, even after it had gone into bankruptcy. She’d wanted to start a new business. His dad, Dan, had gotten a job as a mailman, and he hated it.

A part of that argument came back to Aaron. Dan had accused Linda of living with her head in the clouds, leaving Aaron with role model to get a grasp of reality and how the world worked. She’d roped Dan into pursuing a useless dream of financial independence, and they’d lost everything because she had no connection to earth or the sense of responsibility to get a real job. Dan thought she’d been a bad influence of Aaron, raising a dreamer.

Aaron apparently had that from her. The memory made him sigh because to prove it wasn’t so, Aaron had to get a normal job in the House but close to the Natural Beauties so that he could at least share his art like Daniel had said.

Freydon looked at him with sad eyes, then sat up to put an arm his shoulder, letting Aaron slump against him. It made Aaron smile, happy he had found such a good friend in Daniel’s nephew.

He just wished Dawdon was there, too. In fact, he wanted it to be Dawdon that he snuggled into because he was bigger and buffer, and Aaron needed his strength at that moment. He greatly appreciated that he had Freydon’s understanding and relished in their friendship.

It didn’t help him get any wiser on what job he should get to show responsibility, though.