Welcome Home, Sanitarium
Francis groaned as his alarm sang its familiar tune, as it rung its bells of doom. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but it was right over his eyes, and all he could see was a blurry snake lady dancing away and burning at his retinas. The worst part of it for the drachen? Realizing that having breasts jiggling in your face was not worth it when it was only on a screen. At least it somewhat smelled like her… For how long, though, was the part he dreaded.
Sadly, another thing he dreaded stirred upon him. Cassidy grumbled, reached up, and pressed the button in the center of the screen, fumbling it onto the nightstand beside before she wrapped her hand back behind his shoulder again, yawning into his chest.
“Fifteen more minutes,” she muttered, huffing. “Holidays are the fucking worst… Get used to a different sleep schedule, suddenly have to flip back… Work every day.”
She was out again soon enough, while Francis was more than awake. Looking down upon a possible killer. He was one, after all, and knew when one was caught in a lie. The way she tensed, the way she tried to deflect; even if he said he believed her, what’s belief among murderers. There was no honor among thieves, and no trust between people who have enjoyed tearing into other’s flesh.
No… all that was left was to catch her in the lie, to reveal to all when her pants were down –and not in that sense… Not at that moment, at least. No… Most killers he knew were wild dogs, mongrels that needed put down. They were thoughtless about it, no true motivation aside carnal desires. He was the exception instead of the rule; he killed because it was just. When he meant to kill, at least. The goblins? Collateral damage.
But Cassidy wasn’t a normal girl, was she? No… Just like him (now) she had family with status, with power. So what if she killed the lamia? It could be swept under the rug. Who was the lamia, really, compared to the eccentric yet beloved Cranes? Whose word would hold clout?
What he needed, without a shadow of a doubt, was a way to expose her, to make her confess, if not complete humiliation. Killing her wouldn’t be enough of a justice for Desiree. Not only did Cassidy need to fall, but the entire Crane family needed a severe black eye. They needed mark on their reputation so harsh that no amount of money would ever be able to hide the skeletons hanging in their closet. But what… and how? How would he approach it? How would he-
The alarm starting singing its tune again, and Cassidy groaned again. She rose her head that time at least, beaming up at him. Her groan became a whine, squeezing his shoulder, rubbing it as she looked into his eyes.
“At least I woke up to you,” she said, and kissed him. “I’ve been missing it something fierce all week… Oh, let’s skip today. We’ll make it an extended holiday.”
“Can’t. I have a fiery warden who is due at my door in fifteen.”
“Surely you can tell them you aren’t up for it. You must be exhausted after traveling so far. And fucking your girlfriend-”
“Ah-ah! Don’t be tossing around the G-w-”
She kissed him again, caressing his face, scratching at the scales on his chin as her pants, her moans washed down it. She rocked on top of him, stirring an ancient evil, already restless, already waiting to break through, now given its summon. His sweats stretched, ripped softly as his mast hoisted towards the ceiling, but, thankfully, somebody had the foresight to ease the hem of those purple pants halfway on his rod, allowing it to spring out before it could completely destroy them. He felt her warmth, her need, her heat below. It was like a furnace, bellowing upon his rod with every pass, dousing, quenching it for the anvil.
She let his shoulder go, trailing down his front- and growled as a knock thundered on his entry door.
“She’s early,” she grumbled, laughing, a derisive thing, as she flung herself at his chest. “It’s not fair…”
“I… sort of… need to get up for that.”
“No you don’t. That’s what Francine is for.”
“That’s what scares me. She loves to fucking stir the pot, even if it bites her on the ass… Kind of… admire her in a way for that.”
Cassidy scoffed, and leered at him.
“Oh. So now you ‘admire’ her, huh.”
“In the ‘so hard-headed and vindictive that I end up pulling the trigger right in my mouth’ sort of way, yes- and you hear that shriek? Case and point. What was she yelling not to d-”
The door opened, and Jessica walked in. To say the air had changed would be like saying a blizzard was only a cold thunderstorm. What was once so free, so light, with only the slightest bit of tension, turned heavier than dark matter. There was a cataclysm of emotion, hate, anger, jealousy, love, desire, betrayal, redemption, all swirling and descending upon Francis.
Rather, on the harpy on top of him.
“Jess? What are you doing here?” Francis said, sitting up a little, and was thankful that Cassidy was flat against him. If that manticore caught sight of his member then, he could only imagine just how much faster that tail would be swinging. It already looked almost fan-like.
“I told Francine that, before the holidays, I needed to speak with you,” she said, her voice so… hollow. So drained. With how many emotions she was exuding, instead, that could be forgiven… the little pink stick in her hand, though… She pulled it out of her pocket, kept in a plastic bag, and, as she held it up for them to see, the storm that had approached had crashed upon him, upon that harpy. Her feathers bristled, her face a horrid, twisted abomination of itself.
The harpy’s neck cracked, painfully, methodically, as she turned her head from that stick... down to Francis… then back to that manticore. Jessica was just as irate, but it was only her eyes that moved… but, when they did, Francis could feel the sways in the storm.
“Yeah…” Jessica said at last, the thunder needed. She lobbed the baggy across the room, landing it by Francis’s right hand, on the bed- where Cassidy snatched it up. She held it up for both of them to see… and, true enough, there were two lines on it. Jessica cleared her throat, looking towards the window, the final rays of dusk slinking away while the getting was good. “Can’t say I expected nor wanted it, Francis, but I’m not surprised… nor disappointed.”
“That’s… unfortunate,” Cassidy said, lobbing it back. A bit too hard; it slapped against the ceiling before falling straight down, right at the manticore’s feet. “Do you at least remember which guy it was? That’s a hefty burden to shoulder on your own.”
Jessica scoffed, giggling, shaking her head.
“’Which guy’. As if there are multiples… No… There’s only one guy.”
“That’s good! Hopefully he will step up to the task and take responsibility. Make an honest woman out of you.”
“That’s why I’m here.”
“Why here? You should be talking to the guy about this, not to Francis. You guys might be great friends, but he doesn’t have to shoulder your burdens all the time. I understand that he’s great to practice with and bolster yourself, but some things you need to do while the emotions are raw.”
“Trust me. They are,” Francis stated.
“Exactly. She should be talking to the guy she slept with and pushing him to commit rather than stand here telling you about it.”
“How dense is she?” Jessica said- and a burp sneaked up on her. “Oh G… Morning sickness is a lying bitch!”
“We harpies don’t have to worry about it since we come from eggs. I’m a bit worried about the laying part, though- still. Where is this guy? What kind of person is he? Is he dependable?”
“Oh, he’s close. Rugged, tough guy with a heart of gold. As far as I know, he’s incredibly dependable. He would put his own life on the line.”
“That’s great! Then you should have no worries. All you need to do is tell him-”
“Marry me or I cut off your balls and wear them as a pair of ‘brass’ knuckles, where I will beat you to death with them. I’ll also cut off your dick and jam it down your throat, so you knows how it feels to get fucked over.”
“A bit too the point, but if you two are as intimate as you are he should know the weight behind it.”
“Oh, he does. He does,” Francis said… and he could hear the cuckoo clock go off in her head, could see the light bulb finally turn on inside her head. She hopped off him- and that was the worst thing she could have down, his rod allowed to rise, his banner left to claim the hill. The problem with king of the hill, though, was that it lead to competition. To confrontation.
“You!” Cassidy exclaimed. “W-when? W-w-w-why?”
“Were you really ball’s deep this entire time?” Jessica screamed at Francis. Her tail seemed to finally find an agreed upon direction, lashing towards him and the bed. “You were just hearing how I was preggo, yet here you were plowing this birdy’s cunny!”
“W-we weren’t- and why does it matter? Francis and I are far closer than you would ever be with him-”
“Well, that better change if he likes his balls and dick where they are-”
“And you better change your tone! And rescind your threat.”
“Oh, it’s no threat. It’s a fucking promise! I’m keeping these kids, and he’s gonna help raise them. His consent went out the window the moment the second line appeared on that test.”
“You’re counting your chickens before they hatch, though. I know how you live your life, Jessica. Your always one step short of a heart attack or a stroke!”
“That was me before I met him. After? I’m far happier, far more laid back- huh, it’s like he was already shouldering a lot of my bullshit. As if we were in this world together. As a cou-”
“You better not finish that word!”
“Agh! You said it! How dare you! HOW DARE YOU!”
“A couple. A couple. We are like a couple- and soon to be a couple. Right, Francis?”
“You don’t need to answer that, dear! In fact, you don’t need to answer to her at all. She’s a workaholic, a control-dependent woman. Everything must go her way, exactly how she wants it, or she loses her senses. This moment, for instance, and her push that you are the father of her children-”
“Because he is!”
“And what makes you think that?”
“Uh, because he put his baby dragon in my dragon nest? Because he put his wyvern in my perch! Plunged his sword deep into my lake. Left a horde in my cave-”
“You had a lot of time to think of these, didn’t you?” Francis said.
“Sadly. I wanted to discuss this before I left, but I didn’t want to make a scene down in The Chalice… Again, I’m not asking you to drop out of school for anything. I’m not, but it’s time you owned up, Francis. Are you a man of your word, or another deadbeat-”
“You have some nerve calling Francis a deadbeat!” Cassidy shrieked, still squawking up a storm. Her talons kicked at the air, clenching, catching the light from the living room upon their razor tips. “And you have some nerve continuing to disillusion him so! He is not the father!”
“Look… Cass… I know this will come as a shock to you, but when a man and a woman like each other very much, the man puts that hard thing there in their pussy, do a little romp, and sticky white goo shoots inside-”
“I know about intercourse and reproduction, manticore. You don’t need to patronize me, but this continued pressure upon Francis, all because he’s a good man-”
“He is a good man. A great man, and an amazing lay. He’s going to be my first and only… Right, Francis?”
Cassidy snapped her fingers, pointing, jabbing them towards Jessica.
“A paternity test. We’ll administer a paternity test. I’ll get in touch with father, and he can rush one in and through.”
“I’m telling you. It’s not really needed. Francis was the only one to fuck me –when I was in heat, no less… Yeah… didn’t take that into account, Francis. Sorry.”
“If you are so certain, then simply take the test. I am sure Francis wouldn’t mind-”
“But why would I when I know he’s the only one I ever fucked!
“Exactly! Know! With how you live your life, you could have had a momentary blackout and a random guy could have taken advantage-”
“Does it look like a guy could take advantage? Just look at me and realize how retarded that statement is!”
“You never know. Maybe, in your subconscious, you wanted to get laid so bad you assaulted a random person in a fit of pure sexual aggression… Just… just take the test. Okay?”
“Fine, but when it comes back that he is the father-”
“WHEN… I am already looking at how I’m going to move in. Really, it won’t be that much of a change. I’ll just take the closet –in truth, you have used more space than I have. Oh! But we’ll need to consider a play area for the kids. Good thing you already have a live-in babysitter-”
“AGAIN, that’s only IF he is the father.” Cassidy huffed, and stomped around the bed, picking up her phone from the other nightstand. She scowled at it, but it only grew hotter as she looked up at Francis, tears wavering in her eyes. The room was so quiet yet so loud, muffled yet amplified; Francis could hear the grain of the ring inside the phone as she called Mister Crane- picking up on the fifth. “Hey, daddy… Minor problem at school. Can you get me a paternity test and have it pushed… no, it’s not me, daddy… D… dad… I don’t… It’s a… There’s reason to doubt- there’s reason to d- there is reason to doubt, daddy! Please! Just… could you please get me a paternity test then have it prioritized… Okay. Thank you… Love you, too- bye!”
She clicked the phone off, the storm still roaring away, aimed towards Jessica now as Cassidy waved her away, as if dismissing her –no; there was no “as if” about it.
“He says it’ll be here by tomorrow morning,” she said, and shot Francis a dirty look. “He’ll be collecting a bit of your blood, as well. You’ll be called to the nurse’s station today when at school.”
“Great!” Francis said, clapping, a clink against the rumble. “In that case, can we put this business behind us until it comes back. I am starving-”
“Or you can stop delaying the inevitable and accept reality,” Jessica snapped at him, and her tail actually met his chin. The tip hissed along it… but it was a soft impact, a playful graze, as she trilled and her hand followed after cupping it. “We both know already that you are my baby-daddy… Again, I really hated doing this, Francis. I didn’t want to be the possessive type… Babies sort of threw a wrench into that.”
“I mean, I guess? My dad raised me on his own-”
“Yes, but I bet it wasn’t because he had the choice. I bet more than anything he would have loved your mom by his side… as I would love you by mine. As…”
“No,” Cassidy grumbled, rolling it into such a lovely threat.
“No no. No. No!”
The manticore gasped, reeling back as blood rained down her cheek and down her side. Feathers bounded across the room, loosed in Cassidy’s sudden lunge. She balanced on her left talon, the right drenched in blood, the middle tip still holding a bit of the manticore’s furry hide on its end.
“I’m sorry,” she said, flicking it off as the squawks returned. “I got a bit carried away there. I must ask you to leave, though. I’d rather not be driven to harm again. Especially by and against a pregnant woman. Even if she is a liar!”
Jessica scoffed, glowering at the harpy… but gave Francis an even eviller look, one that made the storm howl.
“That is fine. After tomorrow, I’ll be telling you to get the fuck out. Until then, though, Francis, make sure to keep that dick nice and hard and filled. I’ll be riding you like a motherfucker after all this –which, hey, you will be.”
She tittered, and finally relented to Cassidy’s command. The front door thundered shut, just another rumble in the storm that still consumed the two of them. Cassidy refused to look at Francis, staring out the door, still balanced on the one foot and squawking. Francis was watching her, though, seeing how her eyes twitched, how they sifted through all the information before her, as they gleamed some insight out of all the rough before them, a diamond to latch onto and prove it wasn’t all for nothing-
The harpy snapped her fingers at Francis, clearing her throat.
“Tell me. Right now,” she said, slow, even. Cold. “Is there any way that she is telling the truth? Did you actually sleep with her?”
“Yes. Several times. And I fucked her. Several times. And I came inside her. Every. Single. Time.”
“So… you are saying there is a chance you are the father?”
“If by chance you mean I am, yes-”
“So it is a chance. A good one at that… Right. I’ll let daddy know. He’s disappointed, but not surprised. We aren’t technically a COUPLE, and you were sleeping around before that third date when we finally consummated.”
“To be fair, I only slept with her. The others were with Nicole, which I really… really don’t want to count those.”
“Well, want some advice? You might want to not count the times with Jessica, either.”
“And what’s that supposed to mean?”
“You might not consider us yet, Francis dear, but I love you. I care for you, and I only want the best for you… Children? They will only weigh you down right now- weigh us down… We’ll find a way through this. It’ll just be a blot later on to think back upon and what could have happened.”
“I mean, the babies aren’t going away-”
“No, but there’s still the chance they aren’t yours.”
“I’m telling, they are-”
“Likely, but not concrete… I’ll see you at school, dear. I have a lot to do. Love you.”
She swooped at him, kissed his cheek, then fled, leaving behind a new round of feathers… What do you know? The ammo he needed was just delivered expressed. He sat on the bed- and he just realized his heart was racing. It had been so long since he felt such… excitement, such danger- such intrigue! Ooh… It was going to be a fun couple of weeks until Christmas- and, to think, this all happened on the day right after thanksgiving holiday. Guess he wasn’t the only thing pent up.