Another day, another set of rounds. Samuel leaned up against the railing on the roof of Palm, enjoying the cool spring breeze while he kept watch over the estate grounds. It was midmorning already and he hadn’t yet seen Graymar, but he wasn’t too worried…sometimes he had morning flight errands he had to fulfill. He decided he’d wait up here for him until he returned.
Meanwhile, it was time to have a good long think about their sons. He’d been out on the balcony having his morning coffee when Diwa and Kaffi headed off to school. In fact, Kaffi had been waiting for Diwa on the center green for a good fifteen minutes or so, fretting and pacing, his wings fluttering nonstop. He’d looked up at Samuel at one point, waving and looking a little embarrassed. When Diwa passed him on his way out soon after, he asked him if anything had happened between them last night, which seemed to have been a dumb question to ask; Diwa screwed up his reddened face and quickly responded that everything was fine. He met Kaffi out in the parking lot, both in great moods, and took off towards the light rail station.
Samuel often wondered why Kaffi never flew to school. He would rather walk with Diwa, and he never took to the air whenever they went somewhere together. Graymar would never think twice about it if they were traveling separately; he’d be up there, soaring in lazy circles while waiting for him to reach their destination. Maybe Kaffi was waiting for his son to initiate the paired flying…? Samuel laughed quietly, remembering his own early years, asking tintrite friends to be his first flight. Gods, that had been so mortifying! He’d started so late that most tintrite had already paired up with other rides, and the others had dismissed him. Graymar had been the only one of his willing tintrite friends, and the only one who hadn’t laughed when he asked. Gray took his flight seriously; he was one of the best fliers in their age group, and fiercely proud of his abilities. It truly was like the start of a long-term relationship, figuring out each other and making so many embarrassing mistakes and getting into petty arguments, constantly worried that it wouldn’t work out. For the first year or so, he was absolutely convinced Graymar was merely waiting for the right time to tell him it wasn’t working out. But he never did, and eventually they figured out a comfortable balance and stuck with it.
Gods, how long ago was that? He laughed again, this time at how old he felt. Years of getting used to Gray’s flair for taking the occasional gut-dropping turn, and Gray accepting that Samuel was getting heavier and creakier with age. They were still a tight unit. They trusted each other, knew each other’s movements. They were best friends and always would be.
Kaffi must be longing for that.
Samuel heard the flapping of leathery wings approaching behind him. He glanced at his watch: it was nearly ten thirty. This was quite late for Graymar to return! He heard the last few wing beats then the gentle two-step drop to the roof. For such a large tintrite, his landings were always light and delicate.
“Morning, Gray,” he said, turning around. “Been busy?”
Graymar grunted and ruffled his wings with exhausted annoyance and a barely hidden wince before folding them back. He readjusted the bulging satchel he wore around his torso as he joined Samuel at the railing. “Hmm. I was up at the co-op farm,” he said, twisting and rubbing his neck to work out a sore muscle. “There’s so much paperwork we still have to sort through. And you know how I feel about paperwork.”
Samuel laughed, giving him a friendly pat on the arm. “The price we pay for being part-time couriers, Gray. Digital’s okay, but Panooria still wants physical copies. Which reminds me…are we still up for another run at the end of the month?”
Graymar patted the overstuffed bag and stretched his back, working on further soreness. “As long as it’s our lighter tenancy committee work. This lease work is only the first half of it, and it’s killing me. I’ll need to return tomorrow and get the rest. There’s more after that, but I’m choosing not to think about it right now.”
Samuel smiled and turned back to the green below, watching the tenants make their way to and from midmorning errands and jobs. “The committee’s finally taking the co-op planning process seriously then,” he said. “I’m glad. That was Cass and Carol’s idea.” Cass and Carol Caine, two hedraac high-level committee members at the estate, had floated the idea of working with a local co-op farm during the last apple harvest season to create additional income as well as providing jobs for its tenants. The committee response had been extremely positive, and they’d been given the go-ahead to make it happen. It was already the talk of the estate, and many tenants were looking forward to it.
Unfortunately, all that excitement had caused a minor but important issue, one that he too had sadly not followed up on yet. He glanced over at the rear garden and orchard just behind the eastern bungalows. The allotments at the southern end of the strip were in constant use and looked healthy as ever, but the small orchard at the northern end had been ignored for far too long. “Our own orchard needs a little revitalization, though…it’s been neglected for months now.”
“Speaking of whom,” Graymar said, nodding in the same direction. He rocked back onto his hinds and rested his arms on the bulging satchel the aching muscles seeming to have calmed down for now. “I hear their youngest son has taken an interest in the farm.”
Samuel nodded. “Cole. He’s the one with Steiner-Hedraac syndrome. He’s one of Diwa and Kaffi’s friends.”
Graymar nodded. “I happened to talk with him on the green a few days ago. He might be a quiet one, but he’s more connected to the estate than he often lets on. He brought up the issue of the orchard with me as well. He already knows and understands what the committee wants to do with the co-op. I think he’ll make a fine representative when that project goes live.”
“Good to hear,” Samuel said, and turned back to Graymar again. He was looking a bit more exhausted than usual, even for so early in the day, but didn’t say anything…he was probably just worn out from carrying all that heavy paperwork. Maybe a bit of distraction was in order. “How’s your pahyoh been?” he asked.
Graymar paused before responding, the change in subject unexpected. “Why do you ask?”
“Merely curious. Diwa and Kaffi were definitely aware that we were analyzing their game yesterday. You know how it is. Self-conscious teens hate being watched over by their parents.”
“I think Kaffi’s itching to get up in the air, Gray.”
“He does that all the time,” he shrugged, deadpan. “I wouldn’t stop him.”
“I mean with Diwa.” He waved his hand back and forth, as if the two boys were there in front of them. “You’ve seen, it, Gray, don’t tell me otherwise. Something’s going on between those two. I’ve seen it before, and I never said anything. Last night was different though, and I’m waiting for Diwa to bring it up. They’re thinking about the inheritance and the internship. They’re ready to take that next step.”
“They’ve been thinking about it for ages, Sam. Diwa only needs to ask,” he said plainly. “Nothing to be embarrassed about.”
Samuel smirked at him, knowing a classic Graymar deflection when he heard one. “Come on, Gray, this is serious. Do you remember how embarrassed I was when I approached you? I was afraid you’d laugh and fly away, like all the other tintrite did.”
Graymar grinned warmly at that, and leaned forward to touch his snout against Samuel’s forehead. “And yet here I am,” he said, humming in amusement.
“And yet here you are,” he laughed, waving him away. “Even more reason Kaffi should be the one to ask Diwa! Your son is itching to get up in the air as a ride, and he’ll want to get some paired training as soon as possible. I say, plant the seed. He’s got it mapped out already, he just needs to hear you give him the go-ahead. He’ll come to you soon, I know it. You train him however you feel necessary, and I’ll do what I can on my end to get Diwa ready for flight.”
Graymar’s snout dipped low and let out a quick snort. “You’re serious about this.”
“Of course I am!” he said, giving his friend’s mane a quick ruffle. “They’ve planned for a long time, and they’re finally ready to put it all into action. And I certainly don’t want either of them to waste their time thinking and never doing, if you know what I mean.”
Graymar stared at him for a few seconds before he lifted his snout again and looked away. “Thinking was never your main strength anyway,” he said, flashing a fang.
“And doing was never yours,” he countered, elbowing him.
“I shall talk to him soon.”
“Good. It’s a plan, then.”
hedraac – (hed-rack) humanlike alien psychic vampire
Steiner-Hedraac Syndrome – a disability in hedraac that affects their vampiric abilities