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Fluff and Death Saurers? – I Hate Titling Things!

Fluff and Death Saurers?


Störmer had an uncanny ability to disappear, resurfacing when needed or obligated to be somewhere as if he'd always been there. Elena was equally good at finding him, over ten years of experience and sheer stubbornness serving in her favor. When they were younger she'd often tormented him once found, half because he'd dared hide and half because it was so interesting to see how little he'd react.

She'd gotten older, taking to appreciating solitude more herself but still remaining curious. At the same time, he seemed to find it increasingly amusing he was worth following and that she was clever enough to do it, and so she still did.

Today there was nothing to do besides look for him or worry. There were a thousand things on her mind and none of them quieting, so Elena had spent the morning furiously pacing the hallways near her room, trying to outrun her own thoughts. After half an hour wasted, a fingernail bitten down to the quick (enough to put her off the practice in the future), and discovering that high heels were terribly unsuitable for pacing in, she'd decided that worry got old quickly. Störmer it was.

When the more deserted areas of the castle itself failed and her father had gotten rather annoyed at her "stalking about" while he was planning things (hardly fair, it wasn't as if she'd commandeered one of the military charts as a field for miniature Zoid campaigns like when she was seven), Elena moved on to the hangars. Störmer must have picked up on Zenebas' nasty mood a lot sooner and distanced himself as much as was allowable, she guessed. Besides that, the Zoids suited him. They had a calming presence with their steady living-electrical hum, watching through metal eyes as if listening.

Dodging technicians and their formal greetings, she finally spotted Störmer by one of the Death Saurers. He was sitting with arms crossed and eyes closed, leaning tensely against the side of its foot and facing the wall. Lost in thought, on edge, she could tell...enough that she was tempted to leave. Uneasy curiosity kept her watching from around the Saurer's toes, wondering what he wouldn't share even with her.

It was the same thoughts that had kept her wandering restlessly all day, no doubt. Fate was about to whack her father's Empire upside the head, and whatever it brought would take them with it. Even here, away from most of the activity, the feeling was there-several gaps in the line of Death Saurers left more light in their corner than there should have been, and the Mad Thunder responsible had brought whisperings of the Dark Continent...would her father really go that far?

"Stay, then."

The sound jolted her, slightly, and she refocused her attention to note Störmer was watching her now, perhaps a slight hint of concerned in his own tense stare. She saved the excuses and just sat down, tucking her legs under her to avoid the chilly floor. He was as silent as the Zoids, but somehow more reassuring. It was better to focus on that and ignore the cold metal of the Death Saurer's foot against her back, bringing her mind back to where it had been. How long until this Saurer met the same end as its brothers, how long until they all did?

Störmer shifted, uncrossing his arms and reaching a hand for her shoulder. She'd been shaking slightly and hadn't realized, and now cursed that she couldn't hide things as well as he looked down at her, eyes narrowing and expression unreadable. But the hand on her shoulder became him pulling her insistently closer, wrapping his arms around her in a tentatively protective attempt at a hug.

Elena squeaked, half falling against him—and if getting so emotional was unprincesslike, she couldn't begin to classify squeaking. She caught the faint hint of a stifled chuckle as she hit his chest: one quickly suppressed, but still enough for her to hold back a smile herself. They were even, then. Laughing was hardly Störmer's style. She relaxed a bit, reflecting that he was both skinnier and warmer than she'd have expected, and his grip comfortingly tight for what she'd thought was a momentary thing.

"Are you all right?"

She nodded, settling in curled up against Störmer's chest, and neither of them spoke further. The distant clamor of machine work faded into the background with the rhythm of the Zoids, and for now—for whenever—the world didn't matter.


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