Davesprite and Jade clean off after a cooking mishap.
(Written for WDLF 4: We Die Afen and Afen.)
It's not supposed to be anything more involved than whipping up a late-night snack while Nannasprite is busy doing goodness-knows-what, so of course, it all goes spectacularly wrong. Someone forgets to put the lid on the blender, and suddenly what was going to be a reverse engineered strawberry milkshake is ice shavings and ice cream and flavored syrup all over the counter, the floor, and the both of them.
"Shit," says Dave. The blender spins merrily without pause, mostly empty, still spraying the occasional splash of failed milkshake into the air like it's celebrating the mess.
Jade licks strawberry-flavored cream off her fingers. It tastes like sweet summer berry-picking and the overwhelmingly high odds of getting scolded by an elderly clown ghost. "Yeah."
They both stand there a moment, before their respective degrees of self-sufficiency kick in. Jade yanks the plug on the blender and starts disassembling it straight into the sink, and Dave floats over to the paper towel roll and gets wiping. The creamy pink goop is everywhere, like some kind of pepto-bismol shaving cream bomb explosion, a description Jade is regrettably familiar with because John rigged the hallway with six of them last week.
Once the blender is clean on the counter and the cabinets are no longer pink, Jade starts running her wet fingers through the nearest section of her hair. As expected, the goop has already started to congeal and solidify in a sticky awful coating, and the texture is the worst under her fingers. She grimaces, and runs her hands under the water again to get rid of it. Everything smells like strawberries, too, now, almost cloyingly so, and this has got to be as bad for Davesprite as it is for her. His orange wings are mottled with pink like a fruity disaster sunset, and she spots him in her peripheral vision, trying to clean himself off without much luck.
"Fuck it," he says, after a few more seconds of ineffectual preening. "I'm taking a shower."
Jade has already given up on getting the gunk out of her hair without one, so she nods. "Me too." And then, with a flash of mischief in her eyes, "Race you to the bathroom!"
She takes off down the kitchen hall, and he's flying only inches behind her. He makes a move to push past, squeezing his wings close together and falling back fully on his sprite floating powers to zoom forward instead, and then flaps his wing-and-a-half for a burst of speed.
Jade grins and zaps herself ahead, stepping neatly from behind him to in front of him again with a flashy neon green jump through space, and he scoffs. "Oh come on, that has got to be cheating!"
She turns her head to growl playfully back at him, and keeps running until he catches up and pushes past her again, and the two of them crash through the doorway together, him above in the air and her below in an acrobatic roll across the threshold. Scrambling upright, she manages to grab his wrist and he almost breaks his usual blank look to laugh as she drags behind him, steps away from the tub.
"Aw, are you really gonna begrudge me this, Harley? Are you gonna get between a birdman and the shower he rightfully deserves?"
"We're both gross, you dork!" She sticks out her tongue. "Come on, we can just both wash. Maybe it'd be nice to have someone help clean your feathers for once!"
He almost freezes at that for a second, but they're already dating, so it's not like it's that weird, is it? She's seen him before, and it's not like he has much to undress, John's weird breakdown about ghost butts aside.
"Uh, sure," he says when he unfreezes another second later, and she kicks the door shut before pulling off her god-tier skirt and tunic, which are both already getting crusty. They're usually resistant to most stains and dirt, but she still has to at least give them time to clean themselves, and she doesn't want to be stuck wearing that stinking milkshake mess another minute if she can help it.
Dave blushes a brilliant shade of clementine, which makes her giggle a little. She's only in her underwear. It's really not anything new or special!
He busies himself with starting the water, running it until the temperature meets his arbitrary specifications. Apparently cold showers were hard to come by back in Houston, with the constant ambient heat and the apartment's crappy utilities, but he's taken a liking to them, and Jade can appreciate that -- she likes the colder water herself, the way it plays over her skin, cool and soothing. Dave steps under the spray and starts preening again, and she watches in curiosity for a moment as he works, seemingly on instinct, to get the gunk out of his delicate feathers. There weren't any crows on the island, but she had seagulls, and the behavior is similar enough to feel like a surreal echo of sitting on the beach and watching the gulls dry off.
She bites back a pang of homesickness.
Dave's wings are too big to fit comfortably in the John's repaired bathtub, so he has to stand, awkwardly angling one wing under the water at a time. The gunk seems to dissolve in water well enough, but some of it is persistent, so Jade lathers up her hands with a bit of soap and lets Dave tentatively offer his free wing to her. She has to be careful, because wings are weird and need oil like hair, and the feathers can't be disturbed too much or he'll have to spend extra time fixing them, but she does her best to gently rub the soap suds into the gunky spots and work them free.
He stiffens and almost shivers when she ghosts her hands down the top of them, from his shoulderblades all the way to the wingtip, and she pets him a few more times like a cute little parakeet for good measure. With a sort of hesitance she can't quite place, he makes a weird little crooning noise and adjusts his position to let her help more easily.
Once she finishes the first wing, he turns around to rinse it off under the water and offers her the second, the injured one. The end half of the wing will never grow back, he's said; Jade's got enough sprite knowledge in her from Becsprite to know that's true. Not unless someone can heal it, and there's not much that can fix a sprite. The game doesn't account for their injuries the way it does for living, flesh-and-mortal-blood players.
She works gingerly around the stump, avoiding it whenever she can, and lightens her touches and the soap. It shouldn't hurt much unless she pokes at it, she understands, but she'd rather not make that mistake. Dave still ceases mid-motion a few times in the process, which is as close as he usually gets to flinching, and Jade's guts do a little miserable twist each time, but she gets through the process without any serious trouble.
When he's done and rinsed off, Jade trades places with him to wash herself, scrubbing the shampoo through her tangled feral mass of hair and rubbing the dried milkshake solids out of her ear fur. Dave perches, half-hovering, on the toilet beside her. His wing and neck feathers are puffed up to dry, and it makes him look like a big fluffy baby chick.
"What're you smiling at?" he asks, without any bite behind it. "C'mon, are you picturing me as some kinda baby chicken or something? Going all peep peep, running around the coop and scrapping with my little fluffball hatchmates, pecking the breadcrumbs off the ground and all that? 'Cause lemme tell you I ain't a chicken, you know that, I'm a little baby crow, you gotta get that straight Jade, I'm the little fucker in the nest screaming for bagel crusts, and I'm a hungry little fucker. There better be some good bagel crusts, too, none of that dollar store nonsense, artisanal, stolen right off of a cafe table while it's still warm, you know?"
"If you're a cute crow, I'll be the old lady on the bench with the bread scraps, then!" She pries loose a tangle of food and hair with her fingers, letting the mess wash off into the drain. "I'll come every day and feed the flock, and I'll earn your trust until you come up and eat out of my hand."
This gets a laugh out of him, quick and stifled. "Yeah, okay, I'll take that. And I'll tell all my crow buddies that you're the human that brings the bread scraps and we'll all crowd around you at noon every day, and mob people who dress like you 'cause we're hungry for the sweet sweet gluten, like, open up, we know you have the dough, where are you hiding it? Build up a reputation. And we'll be the luckiest damn flock in the city, and all the other crow peeps'll be jealous because we've got the nice bread lady on our side and they don't, we'll start crow warfare over it, and it'll be so sad, man. We'll be all fighting over your favor, and you'll just keep feeding us bread like the generous awesome person you are because you like us."
"Do you want me to feed you bread?" She waggles her eyebrows, and he nearly spit-takes without anything in his mouth. "I'm kidding! Unless...?"
"Aw, no, you don't have to feed me like a baby bird or anything. That'd be hells of weird. Wouldn't say no to some cake or something though, just so long's you're not gonna give it to me bird-mom style."
She's got the worst of the food debris out of her hair at this point, and finally turns off the shower to wring her hair out into the tub. "Maybe we can try to make a cake next time! I don't know any of John's nanna's recipes, but I've made a cake from scratch before once, and it was only a little burnt."
"Sounds cool," Dave agrees, standing up and flicking a few droplets of water off his wings with a quick little wriggle and flick. "Wait, wait, Jade-"
Jade gets two steps from the tub before her own animal instincts take over. She shudders violently, shaking her head back and forth and splattering water across the walls and mirror and Dave all in one go, fluffing up her ear fur and her hair as she all but spin-dries herself just like Bec always used to. Damn dog brain! (She misses him so much.)
"Dammit, Harley." His feathers have returned to maximum puffball mode, turning his neck ruff into a giant orange pom-pom around his neck.
She grins sheepishly. "Whoops."
"I'm going to get a towel," Dave informs her, but he's half-smiling. Gliding just past the door, he adds, "Race you there?"
She gives chase, and lets him ramble about towels and fur and feathers all the way back.