The sounds outside the door were utterly confusing to Richter. Bear was late coming home in the first place, and he could make out feint shouts and angry yelling. All the while Bear was speaking softly and comfortingly as possible. Though his voice carried some irritation as well. And the idea of THAT guy being angry made Richter cringe. He'd only seen the giant upset once. Never again.
As the door clattered open, the bearded giant struggled to keep hold of something flailing in his hands. Richter slowly became interested as Bear made his way to the enclosure. He was fixated on the voice of another person. Did Bear purchase him a companion? Or was this some poor sap he'd caught outside?
Making his way out to his keepers lowered hand, Richter started to notice the language the other person was using. It almost sounded like Latin, but there was a far heavier accent to it. Not only that, but every time this person spoke, Bear responded. As though they were holding a conversation.
It took a moment to get comfortable in the massive platform that was Bears palm. As soon as Richter was ready however, he patted the tree trunk of a thumb to his left. Soon enough that usual gut dropping sensation of being lifted came and went and Richter could see the new face. Bear appeared to have a firm hold over the angry, yelling little fellow. Well, 'little' was a relative term.
The man was a few inches taller than Richter himself, but in Bears palm he looked like a hamster. For the most part he looked human. Aside from a pair of rather pointed ears, large eyes, that seamed one solid colour and impossibly thin face. Richter could only sit there, jaw open.
“An...Is that? Bear! Is that an Elf?”
It was long enough for the other man to notice him, and now point as he shouted at the top of his lungs. Clearly Bear was getting angry with his pointy eared companion. As was made evident in a soft squeeze. The elf gave an odd little squeak as he was set down with Richter into the enclosure. The giant turning to storm off and finish his work.
The elf just continued to yell and dust off, clearly still angry. Though, Richter was more interested in talking to the guy now. Not only had it been a while since he'd seen someone of his own size, but he'd never spoken with an elf before. The only problem was the language barrier.
"So um... hi." He started, a small, sheepish smile inched over his features a moment.
"Hm? Oh you're still here. Speak common, man." Just as Richter thought, The elf didn't understand him. Just once he'd like to actually speak with someone. Instead of just at them.
"Well, that didn't work." He heaved a sigh folding his arms. At about that point, the elf looked him over. Richter could tell he was talking again, asking questions, but damned if he could answer them.
Without much warning however, the other man clapped a hand over Richters mouth, and cuffed him upside the head. Causing Richter to flail and squirm. Not long after his head was released, Richter found it in him to knock the guy off his feet. A fist landing right in that overly pointy nose.
"The hell was that for jack ass!?" Now, Richter was pissed, checking himself for any sort of noticeable lump on his head. If he had some form of injury to show Bear, he was certain this overly aggressive intruder would be removed from his space. As much as Richter hated playing the 'oh poor little pet' card, he didn't think he could get peace if he didn't. It wasn't until the elf laughed that Richter looked right at him. An eye brow arched skyward as he contemplated screaming for Bear right then.
"Okay, Okay that's better." The elf chuckled as he stood. "Can you understand me now?" It was as though he was speaking plain English. Just out of the blue. But, the movements of his mouth, it didn't match up at all.
"Yeah...Yeah I understand you." He couldn't really understand what was happening. But it was worth the effort of trying to figure it out.
“Oh good. I didn’t want to hang around with some stupid animal today.” The elf waved a hand before heading to the shelter, casually placing his hands on his hips and grinning.
Richter folded his arms, grumbling. “Excuse me! Who even ARE you? Why’d Bear just bring you here?”
“Bear? Is that what you call him? Interesting.” The elf placed a hooked finger under his bottom lip in contemplation. “Not out here. I’ll explain things in the shelter.”
He motioned his head in that direction, Those long ears perking a moment before he ducked in. Richter couldn’t quite understand what was going on, until he heard the thunder of Bears approach. A small relief really.
Richter eagerly made his way towards the shelter as the telltale scraping of his feeding tray made it’s way into the air a moment. As he entered, he found the elf sitting on the floor, covering his ears. A small, pained expression on his face.
“Would you STOP THAT?!” The elf finally screeched at the top of his lungs. Richter couldn’t help a small snicker that escaped him. As if this fellow could get Bear to do anything by acting like an ass.
“Not really. Have to feed Ricky somehow.” the tray was slid back in place, thought, Richters normal enthusiasm about it seamed lost. His jaw just dangled a bit. Words didn’t quite come to the man, as the giant gazed down at him.
Soon he found himself shaken awake by the giants index finger tapping the wall beside the tray. A gentile prompt that food was there, and should be eaten before it got cold. Soon enough the bearded giant left. Though, his tender smile that seamed to arrive after every interaction together was absent.
Richter shuffled into the kitchen, elf in tow with a small hum. “Ah... Sorry, what just happened? Are...How long has.... Um.” It felt as though his legs just decided to stop working, Richters frame falling onto the bench lining the feeding tray.
“Oh, OH~ You didn’t know...Of course you didn’t. You’re human. Right then.” The elf sat down, not far from Richter. He inhaled deeply and folded his hands together. Staring the man in the eyes. “Well then.”
Richter hung on every word as the elf, Avery, apparently, explained. From what Richter understood, the translation spell would work for any being of his own intelligence or higher. However, it wouldn’t translate him if he simply didn’t want someone to understand him.
Avery waved a silver fork in his face a moment, produced from a small pocket in his clothing. “You see, it’s used on almost anything humanoid. However, way back. Like, before Willy there was born, your realm split from our own. We only have the word ‘human’ and fairy tales to remember you folk by.”
Taking another bite of the veggies, Avery continued. “Since no one’s even seen a human for so long and you poor sons of bitches don’t even seam to fend for yourselves, most people thought you dumb beasts. Not us elves though.”
Richter took another, unenthusiastic nibble of food. More focused on Avery than the meal it’s self. “Oh? So... So you guys know about us then? And you are here help us? Pass on that we aren’t just... Animals?”
“Yes. And hardly. My species spent centuries trying to find, and eradicate you stupid things. I only translated you so I wouldn’t get bored here.” Avery scoffed. Taking another bite of the food with a grimace. “Also took that spying spell off you. Don’t need Willy the Warhead knowing about this.”
Richter paused, blinking in confusion. “Wait. Eradicate? Why? What did we ever do to you?”
“Same thing the Dwarves do. Dig up iron. It’s toxic to my people. You humans seam to love covering yourselves in the stuff though.” He groaned, glancing around the room his eyes paused over the tap on the water bottle. Something Richter often took for granted.
“...Anyways, No comment on the spying spell?” The elf folded his arms, staring Richter down expectantly.
“Well... No. I mean... It makes sense. He seams to know things about me he wouldn’t be able to without watching me in some way.” Richter admitted. He couldn’t decide if he was angry or disappointed about said spell, and so pushed that thought to the back of his mind. A problem for later.
This seamed to disappoint Avery, however. “Really? I’d be pissed. Ah, well.... You have a pretty sweet set up.” He stared out the clear wall, humming slightly. “Better than I expected of William really.”
That caused Richter to halt once more. Staring blankly at Avery. “What? Do you even know the guy? He’s a big butter ball!” Richter laughed. Avery must have had him mixed up with some sort of coldhearted bastard, to think so lowly of the big guy. He couldn’t imagine Bear giving anything but the best to anyone other than himself really.
“...Really? Tell me. What do you really think of him? Like... Just in general.” Avery waved a hand, in a pancaking motion. Keen ears perking slightly, in attempts to hear any form of Bear coming close, or listening in.
Puzzled, Richter heaved a sigh. “Well... I mean.” He paused, gathering his thoughts together. “He’s alright. Confirming that he thought I was some kind of animal does make me feel better about the whole thing. It makes the whole ‘pet’ thing easier to deal with.”
Leaning to the right slightly, Richter fell onto his side in order to lay on the bench. Expanding this thoughts. “At first he terrified me. Any giant did. But now... I see him as a good guy. A little absent minded, but over all well meaning. I’m not ashamed to live with him. Why?”
Avery just gave a soft, sort of ironic laugh. “Oh... Oh wow. Talk about naive... Or, perhaps you just don’t know.” Richter felt pinned like a bug. Just feeling those eyes evaluating his ankles, practically all Avery could see of him.
The elf just about expended his comment before the telltale sound of Bears approach returned. Avery clapped his hands over his ears as the tray was slid out of place again. Exposing Richter laying on his back.
The giant gave a soft laugh, shaking his head. “Richter. You keep that cute act up, and I’m going to have to get that belly of yours.” The giant warned. Richter couldn’t help but cover his stomach, giving a sheepish grin.
The tray was taken to be cleaned then slid back into place once more. Bear heaved a sigh and waggled a finger at Avery. “I’m leaving for a little while. If I find even so much as a hair out of place on my little Ricky, you’re in deep shit you little bastard.”
Richter sat up in time to see Avery scowl before the elf shot up. “Oh don’t you worry. I wouldn’t give you the satisfaction.” He folded his arms defiantly. “When’s Lev Coming for me? I can’t stand to be here a minute longer than I have to.”
“...She’ll be here at three. Two hours from now, and good riddance for that.” The giant took one last look at Richter, then shot off, slamming the door on his way out. Richter tilted his head, an action that apparently caused Avery to cringe.
“Lev?” It was all Richter could really say right now. The fact he could understand Bear so clearly still coming as such a shock to him.
“Yeah. My new ‘owner’...Could you just NOT? Please. Just stop.” Avery avoided even looking at Richter, confusing him greatly. He didn’t think he was doing anything to make Avery uncomfortable. Perhaps it was the proximity? Richter took a few steps back just in case.
“Um... Not ask you about it? Or... I’d love to stop if I knew what I was doing in the first place.” He finally thought to clarify.
Avery inhaled and sighed deeply. Pinching the bridge of his nose a moment. “No...No... It’s okay to ask about it. You probably have no idea what’s going on... I mean. Stop acting cute. Stop being... So adorable. It’s making me uncomfortable.”
Richter paused, blinking slightly and putting his hand out in a sort of ‘stop’ motion. “Whoah buddy. I’m not into-”
“NO! No! That’s not what I-....Oh dear gods you don’t even know you’re doing it. Do you?” Avery pushed his hand into his hair, shoving it back and out of the way.
“Doing WHAT!?” Richter flattened himself against the counter, now highly concerned.
Waving his hands in a ‘calm down’ motion Avery huffed. “No, no it’s fine. Just... Okay you’re using very clear body language-”
“I AM NOT!”
“.....That most pets use. Let me finish dammit. You’re exaggerating your movements and expressions more than you need to in order to get them across to a larger being. Only... In your case, you add more, um... Cute actions?” The elf shifted, clearly struggling to find the words. Richter decided to give him a break.
“Oh. THAT... You’re right, I didn’t realize I was doing it. No. The cute stuff that is.” He shrugged. Starting to make his way to the living room. “Exaggerating, well I’m not sure I can stop that. But I can hold back the cute for you. Yeah.”
Avery seamed bemused. “Wait...WAIT! You actually intend on being CUTE!?” The elf followed after hurriedly. Clearly baffled.
“Sometimes. If I feel like being an ass. Big guy can’t stay mad if you do something adorable afterwards...Most of the time.” Richter folded his arms, giving an awkward kick.
Avery just gave him a bemused stare. As though he’d just had the revelation of the century dumped on him. “Have you no pride?”
“None what so ever. That got stamped out the moment I ended up in a shelter. Anyhow, what about you? Is it just common practice for these guys to keep small folk as pets?” Finding a couch, Richter flopped right into the soft surface humming.
Avery bit his lip, sitting next to Richter. Right next to him. Not a lot of space was given, no matter how far Richter began to lean. The elf followed along, though there was no hint of malice in his expression. “Umm.”
“Well... Sort of. Only specific species are permitted to be kept. Under something called ‘the responsibility act’. Basically, if giants fuck up your life. They fuck it futher by keeping your entire species as pets....Are you okay?” Avery glanced at Richter, arching a brow.
“Er.... You’re a bit close. Like... Too close.” Avery blinked a moment, then leaned back. Away from Richter. Even giving him a bit more room.
“Sorry. I... I never thought that was an issue. We elves just kind of cuddle up to one another. Didn’t even think about it.” He scratched the back of his neck with a hum.
Richter gave a short nod, thinking. “So... The responsibility act. Does it just apply to elves and humans?”
“Elves, humans, naga... A few others. Anyone directly effected by giant life style. Normally they’re treated with a little more respect. Hell, for a presumed unintelligent being, you’re in fucking paradise.” Avery waved a hand around the room.
“So... What did they do to the elves?” Richter folded his hands, trying not to make eye contact. The whole time, he just wondered how giants had anything to do with the fall of humanity.
Avery glanced at Richter a moment, then took a shaky breath. “They... They’d tell you a different story. But they started a war... Well... I guess we started it. Sort of. But WE were in the right!”
“Guessing they ended it?” Richter motioned to the floor, indicating they were currently in an enclosure.
“Yeah. We elves, wanted to expand. Unite every race under the same rule. Everyone would have a use! Everyone would be put to work. Under the guidance of the elves.” Avery’s tone followed closely with the tone someone used to justify slavery. Richter grimaced.
“So you started taking places by force?” He folded his arms, hunching over onto his knees.
“Yeah. Went well at first. We took the naga civilization without much trouble. Surprising what a good cold snap spell can do to the things.” Avery snickered a moment. Shortly after giving a bitter expression.
“Then we made way for the Dwarves. And had a nasty surprise. They... They wasted no time in teaming up with the local mountain beings. Dragons, Ogres, trolls...Gnomes. They rose up Over time, the rest of the races joined.” Avery scoffed.
“They learned how to shut down someone’s magic with a sort of pulse. However, it was too large to transport feasibly.” He snickered.
Richter just sat there. He could tell where this story was going already. “Too big. Until the giants came in.” He finished for the elf.
“Yeah... They took us by surprise. Sure, we killed a few. But the killing of a giant in armour is not an easy task. Meanwhile. They were just picking us up. No blood spilled. Just up and stuffed in a cage. Turns out gnome tech works better than we thought.” Avery ranted on, arms flailing this way and that in gestures.
“...Wait... They didn’t kill a single person? Not one?” Richter perked up. A bloodless war sounded...impressive. “No losses on either side?”
“Well that’s not how it started. Before the giants, it was a typical war. But get this, once the giants were called upon, the only agreed to join the fight, if a peaceful option were provided. Bloody pacifists.” Avery spat.
“So instead of building weapons of death, the technical triad, that being gnomes, goblins, and Dwarves, made weapons that just... Made your body stop working. It wore off, but you just couldn’t stand or move. It was terrifying.” Richter took a moment to take that in.
Avery seamed to speak from experience, hugging his arms a bit. “Wait... Wait did you fight in that war?” Richter sat up. Avery only nodded. Causing Richters heart to drop a bit. “Sorry man.”
“It’s fine. It was several hundred years ago. Hells, if it weren’t for that nasty little invention of theirs, I’d have faced the same fate as the rest of my battalion.” He leaned back closing his eyes and pinching his nose.
“There’s a reason I fucking hate your master.” He continued. “You see. They almost had a bloodless war. Like they wanted. Then we had to get ‘smart’ and hit a giant with a trebuchet.” Avery cringed.
Puzzled, Richter spoke up. “It kind of seams like they can just walk that off.”
“Oh yes. A giant can shake it off like nothing happened. But that wasn’t what we were aiming for. We were aiming for the magic jammers.” He scoffed. “But... What we didn’t know was that those things were remotely activated. By a team of Dwarves riding in hollow tubes on the armour.”
“I thought you said you killed a few giants?” Richter interrupted.
“Yeah. The ones that didn’t have jammers. It takes a huge amount of magic to fell a giant. You can’t get close to them either. Too close and they just pick you up. So melee isn’t an option. Without magic it’s impossible. It didn’t help our case that said giants we killed... were there to try and talk us into peacefully surrendering.” Avery pressed his hand against his head. As though he realized how moronic the action had been.
“Anyways... We hit one giant. And his half his team of Dwarves. The Dwarves didn’t stand a chance. They just died...And the giant got angry.... I’ll never forget the sounds... Screaming and... just these sickening pops everywhere....” He covered his eyes a moment. Averys breathing quickened slightly. His knees started to come up to his chest.
Richters hand shot out a moment, landing on Averys knee, and causing him to flail off the end of the sofa. Mentally he kicked himself. Thinking back, way back, Richter recalled living with his grand father. A man who’d occasionally have flash backs to his own war. What did his mother do again?
“A-Avery... Avery.” Richter tried to keep his voice calm, relaxed. “Avery, please... describe what’s on my book shelf. Please. You’re right here. You’re safe. Just...”
“I’M NOT FUCKING SAFE! I’M IN WILLIAM THE WARHEADS HOME! YOU KNOW, THE GUY WHO LITERALLY WALKED ON EVERYONE I SERVED WITH! I’M LITERALLY THE ONLY ONE THAT MADE IT!” Avery shrieked.
Richter took a deep breath. “Avery... The book shelf. Please.”
Avery paused. Still breathing heavily, but glancing at the book shelf in the back corner. Richter always thought it was for show, only now, Avery began reciting things that said otherwise. “It’s... It’s fell oak. Stained so it’s lighter, but normally very dark wood.” He began.
“....Most of the books are by Hedlar Windscream... A great romantic fiction author...one of my favourites. Another is by Blink Mr. That woman writes interesting horror. Mostly based off the perspective of young children. Apparently from past experience... Heh, Should write a book myself.” He seamed a little calmer.
Calm enough for Richter to leave the room, and return with a glass of water for him. Avery drank it slowly, even though he didn’t really seam to realize what it was.
“Sorry.... That hasn’t happened in... Gods, how many years. I thought I was fine.” Avery raised his hand over his eyes once more, groaning.
“It’s fine. It happens. But... Are you okay? Like, are you alright to be in the same house as Bear?” Richter sat next to him. Somewhat terrified to bring the anxiety and fear right back. That said, he couldn’t just leave the guy feeling so vulnerable like this.
Avery just paused, hugging his arms again with a shaky breath. “No... No I don’t think I’m okay. But what else can I do? After the- After all that. I was informed about the responsibility act. I... I bounce between masters. Allot. At first it scared the hells out of me! Now though... Now I just wait until I’m given up again.”
“So... Why are you HERE of all places?” Richter tugged his shoulder a moment. And like a lost puppy, Avery followed. Not caring to ask where they were going, apparently.
Richter could only think of one place. One place Avery would feel safe. Pulling the hatch to the little stick hut open, he motioned for Avery to step inside.
“Leva... My new master... Can’t get off work before now. So she asked a friend to pick me up. From the last one. I didn’t know that Friend was W-”
“Hey. That name stays outside this dome.” Richter stopped him.
“Right... I didn’t know that friend was... Your master. What even? What IS this?” Avery glanced around. The inside of the dome was now covered with blankets every where. Held up by odd branches that poked inwards. The ground being a circle of pillows laying on top of a blanket. Richter had stashed some of his tools in there.
“It was a climbing bar set... But I modified it a bit. Oh... wait... Are you okay? Maybe this was a bad idea.” Richter paused. Thinking about the material the bars were actually made of.
“...Yeah. I’m fine. You covered the iron so... Even though I can sense it. It doesn’t hurt. You made this?” Avery sat down near the closest wall to the door. Perking up as Richter started to push a large amount of pillows behind his back.
“Yeah. He can’t reach in here. Fingers are too big. I started it when I firs got here. But... Now that I’m better around him. I don’t need it as much. Still a nice place to relax though. You can wait here until Leva arrives!” Richter beamed, trying to be encouraging.
“...Thank you... B-”
“Here, I’ll bring you a few books! And something to read with.” Richter shot up. Making his way to the house and bringing several books from the first author Avery mentioned, and the flashlight into the shelter. He tended to keep it in his bedroom just in case he felt like sleeping in the hut some time. Rare, but it happened once or twice.
When he returned, he found Avery huddled away from the door now, but still having a pillow wall built behind him. “He... He won’t be angry with you. Will he?” Avery took the books and examined the flashlight. Flicking it on and shining himself in the eyes a moment before turning it around.
“Nah, It’s fine. Just so long as you come out when you’re master comes out.” Richter flopped beside him smiling. “I’ll stall him until then. He can’t handle the cute at all.”
“...No shame... None. Why?” Avery glared at him a moment.
“Because that would mean... It would mean I’d want to go back to my old situation. Wondering if I’m going to starve to death...Or get mauled by some wild animal...Or freeze over the winter. Whatever I had in the past, it’s not better than this.” Richter sat next to Aver and sighed. Closing his eyes for a moment.
It felt GOOD to get that off his chest. To finally tell someone. “My entire society... Had an apocalypse. We didn’t know what was going on. Just some big energy thing hit us and... Poof. We were suddenly out on our own, nothing left of us but the people. And... We had to figure out how to survive.”
Avery leaned forward, eyes wide. “So, there’s literally nothing for you to go back to... I see. No mate?”
“...Girlfriend. But I’m pretty sure she drowned in a river.” Richter rested his forehead on his palm.
An arm passed over him as Avery pulled him into a half hug. “Sorry man. This is kind of the only thing I can think of for comfort.”
Pausing a moment, Richter took a shaky breath and leaned into the contact. “It’s fine. Hey... Why did the translation spell effect the books?” The change of topic would help. Just anything to keep his mind off it.
“It’d be a shit translation spell if it didn’t.” Avery snickered. Richter joining in. The two sat there, just reading for a while. When Bear had returned, Richter indicated without speaking that Avery was in the dome.
The giant left them be. More than likely unwilling to deal with the angry outbursts. Avery paused a moment. “Hey... Why aren’t you speaking to him?”
Richter hummed. “He’s... Been talking to me while I sleep. Or, while he thinks I’m asleep. I...I want to hear what he has to say.” He sat back with Avery a moment only for them both to jump as the door slammed open.
Avery shook his head a few times, trying to get the ringing out of his ears.
“WILLY! Will I’m.” A womans voice called, only to be cut off.
“It’s Bear. Hey Leva. Hang on a moment. I’ll get your elf.” Footsteps approached, Richter could see Avery was panicking, and leaned over to whisper in his ear.
“Insist Leva do it. I’ll distract him so he won’t get angry.” Richter had to duck as Avery flailed a bit. Hissing under his breath.
“Fine! But don’t...DO that again. Whispering is a very intimate thing for us elves!” The man dusted off. His focus snapped to a tapping out side the dome.
“Avery. Come on. The sooner you’re out. The better.” Avery was clearly shaking now, his voice wavering a moment.
“N-no! I mean... I’d prefer if my new master did it. P-picked me up I mean.” Richter waited by the door while Bear prodded a warning finger at it. The human pounced on it. Holding the fingertip firmly and letting himself be dragged out.
“R-Ricky! What are you?” Richter almost instantly began hauling himself up onto the finger, wavering a moment and nearly falling back to the grass. Fortunately, he was caught. Even if the fall wouldn’t have done any real harm.
“AWE! Is that a little one? My goodness I’ve never seen one before.” Richter heaved a sigh, attempting to work past the physical effort it took to hang from a moving giant. He hardly noticed the woman approach.
Which made the sudden petting more of a shock than he was ready for. Letting off a funny squeak, the man pulled Bears thumb over himself and hid behind it.
“W-er.. Bear. I don’t see anything wrong with letting me pick Avery up. He’s my pet after all!” Richter cringed a moment. The words ‘my pet’ just sounded wrong when placed to Avery. In his case, they didn’t know he was intelligent. In Averys... He was talking right to them.
Regardless, Avery stepped out from the dome. Hesitantly, of course. And he was clearly trying not to look at Bear. Instead focusing on Leva. A redheaded woman, bright blue eyes, skin like mocha. Or what Richter assumed mocha looked like. Not unattractive.
Farthest thing from Bear in the end. Especially since in comparison, she was much shorter. Averys voice brought his attention back to the situation at hand. “Yes. Yes, please pick me up. It’s very nice to meet you mis-”
He was cut short by an oversized finger being placed over his mouth. “None of that. I’m Leva. And you’ll use that name. Okay?”
Avery nodded. Soon her hand flattened in a ‘climb on up’ gesture. The elf quickly obeyed. Sitting easily in her palm.
Richter was almost jealous. Even after all this time, it was hard for him to just accept new people. Avery just seamed to climb up. No issue.
“Hey. William.” Richter could feel the hand twitch under him. He almost dreaded what would happen if Avery kept it up. “...Take good care of Richter. Stupid thing has a heart of gold.” Avery turned himself away from Bear. Stealing a glance at Richter before focusing all his attention on Leva.
The two left the house after a quick exchange of pleasantries. The whole time, Avery only glanced at Richter twice. Absorbed in his new caretaker. As well as distracted by her constant questions and concerns. As soon as they left Bear heaved a long sigh.
“Well. Glad that’s over with. Can’t stand the way that bugger looks at me. Breaks my heart. And drags WAY too many old feelings out. Y’know? So I just play into his little act. Be the bastard he wants me to be.” Richter had to fight not to start nodding. Only smiling encouragingly.
Now... It was time for the hard part. Keeping up the stupid act. Avery had given him a gift. And he would not waste it. Not now.