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About Varied / Student Official Beta Tester Little Miss Maggie20/Female/United States Groups :iconshrunken-women: Shrunken-Women
 
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Quick Kanna Portrait by Obsess-Confess
Quick Kanna Portrait
Quick portrait of Kanna Kitsuragi from Wander. Based on a pic of the lovely Lucy Liu. The Japanese under her name means "beautiful scholar" (according to google translate at least). Couldn't find a Japanese character translation of her name. Apparently "Kanna" isn't a traditional girls name in reality. 

:icontomoebutts: and I once joked that Adrian's theme song would be "Hot for Teacher"... She's got the goods for a young professor! ;D lol
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Rows of men and women alike were encased behind walls of glass, isolated in their individual cells like discarded dogs. The prison was dark, with cameras every five feet and blue backlights behind every cell. The blue light was supposed to be calming, but the prisoners seemed just as unhappy to be locked away as before the update.


The growl of conversation below that conglomerated was silent to a pair of blue eyes that watched over it all from the highest floor. Ambon eyed up select prisoners, reading body language and mouth curses. She could practically see their crimes laid out before her like a stat sheet.


"Secretary?" A deep voice beckoned her attentions elsewhere. Ambon unfolded her hands from behind her back and shook her tangled thoughts from mind. She had a job to do, and she intended to do it correctly. Even though it seemed like she was fighting this battle alone sometimes.


The elevator was here. She boarded alongside her large assistant, inserting a microchip sized glass keycard into a barely noticeable slot. The elevator doors shut, locking in its destination.


At the end of a barren hallway in the steeple of the prison, was a black glass box embedded into the slate-colored granite wall. It was detachable if necessary, but for years the box had remained a brick in the wall. Its small occupant stirred as steps approached. The power to the idle tablet hung on the wall was shut off, the fluorescent lights bordering the ceiling flickering on.


"On your feet." The on-duty officer pounded the glass with a coiled fist.

Sean scowled at the officer as the noise assaulted his senses. It was the only way the damn giants ever thought to get his attention. As if their very presence wasn't enough to make the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. Still, he stood from his meager cot, knowing that resisting would only mean more noise. And boy, could these officers make noise. Sean was surprised he hadn't gone deaf yet.


His steel grey eyes narrowed in distaste as he saw who approached. Ambron. What the hell does she want?  Sean pursed his lips as he thought about the last time he'd had to deal with the woman. He'd been sloppy and had gotten caught before he could even send a single report back about his mission. She had picked apart his motives as effectively as if he'd had "SPY" stamped on his forehead. The woman was good at what she did.


And, of course she had brought her towering assistant. Warren had never been particularly kind to Sean, and the human was glad for his glass prison for the first time in years. At least that man's hands weren't going to be squashing the breath out of him anytime soon. Hopefully. Once had been enough for a lifetime.


After the initial novelty of a tiny alien wore off, Sean had gotten fewer visits from the government scientists. But Ambron hadn't come to the prison before that he could recall. Sean pushed his dirty blond hair back, trying not to show the fact that the woman's presence unnerved him. She was never good news.


"Secretary," he greeted, a falsely polite smile on his face. "To what do I owe the extreme displeasure?" Okay, so she was damn scary. But that didn't mean he was going to just cave in to her stone cold bitchface capabilities. He crossed his arms, managing to meet the giant woman's gaze as she walked up to his tidy little cage.


She didn't answer right away. It was her unsettling way of dealing with his irreverent attitude. Sean tried to ignore the withering glare he earned from Warren for his disrespectful remark. "Did I miss the rent again? Gosh, silly me. Please don't kick me out. The accommodations here are way too choice."

"I didn't miss that sharp tongue of yours. Your sense of humor is as stale as the air in here." She informed him, making no attempt to conceal the condescension in her voice. "I thought I had made my position quite clear last time, but this new addition clearly means we need to have another discussion, Mister Dylande.”  Ambron lowered her voice in a quiet aside.  “Warren, if you please."


Her bulky right hand man barked an order for the little cell to be unlocked. Instead of opening the entire front of the glass wall, Warren opened only a sliding door big enough to squeeze his hand into. He held up a square magnet with a little knob to be pinched- small, but powerful. He couldn't help the twitch of a smile that flickered over his stoic features as the magnet invisibly pulled to its brother, the thin one embedded in Sean's shirt. They hadn't always used this method to retrieve him from captivity. But his struggles were valiant, and wasted precious time trying to get him pinned in place. This took his struggling out of the equation


Even now, the human tried to fight its pull, and the soles of his shoes skidded against the floor. It was a lost cause. Instead, Sean had to watch Warren's waiting hand becoming larger and larger, until its radiating heat was all around him. The magnet dropped out of his hand into his other palm as Warren wound a snug fist around Sean.


"Stop that." Warren grunted, giving him a slight increase of pressure to halt the squirming. It was most uncomfortable. Tiny arms compressed into fragile ribs, groaning under the pressure.

Should've known this wasn't going to be a friendly visit, Sean thought wryly. He frowned defiantly, but couldn't hide the strain on his face. Warren's grip didn't allow him to take full breaths, and he could tell that this was on purpose. "Missed you too, buddy," he muttered, twisting slightly in the hand that encompassed him. He got another squeeze, but didn't know if it was for the comment or for trying to move.  Probably both.


"Is this familiar?" Ambron's smooth voice was lemon juice on the open wound. She tilted her head at him. "This can be a quick visit if you're in a generous mood." Her face darkened as she got down to business. "Your Allied Planets promised you would be the first and the last, but they've gone back on their deal. They've sent another. Tell me what she's after."


The announcement was genuinely news to him, but Sean made no indication of his surprise. "'She', huh? They sent a chick? Is she hot?"


The Secretary was no more amused than before. Her eyes flicked to Warren almost imperceptibly, but the big man caught the signal anyway. Sean clenched his teeth in preparation, just in time to bite back a grunt of pain as the pressure increased. One second, two seconds, three seconds passed before it relented again. "Answer the question," Warren ordered while Sean sucked in air.


"Y'know, you shouldn't skip the gym, Warren," Sean spat. "You might get soft,” he jeered.  But, he felt the pressure threatening to build, so he quit antagonizing the giant for the moment.  “Stop!" His eyes fixed on Ambron and he managed to force out an answer. "What makes you think I know what the AP is up to? In case you hadn't noticed, I'm a little bit tied up lately."


Ambron sighed through her nose, her expression full of nothing but dislike for the tiny creature in her assistant's hand. "It would seem they intend to try again. It was futile; her ship lit up in the sky like a beacon. I'll ask again: What is she after?"


Sean glared at the woman, trying to match her cold expression. "What, you haven't squeezed the answer out of her yet?" His eyes flicked up to Warren's unreadable face. "Or did your pet here get too rough and break her already?"


He received another rough squeeze for his defiance. Sean groaned, knowing that he'd be black and blue all over. So nice to have visitors, he thought ruefully. "God, even if I did know anything, why would I sell out one of my own?!" he forced out. "What would I even gain from that?!"

Warren abruptly shifted his grip so that Sean was encased in his fist from the stomach-down. His arms were now free, but not for long- Warren plucked his right arm right out of the air and bent it backwards at a dangerous angle.


"You get to keep your right arm." He growled. Sean gazed straight up at him, searching his stern expression for any signs of bluffing. Unsurprisingly, he found none.

Sean grimaced, his heart fluttering in fear. The guy might just snap his arm off at the shoulder regardless of how the interrogation went. He could make the excuse that his hand twitched, and that would be it.


Ambron impatiently pulled out a tablet and brought up a photo from Elise's classified files. A security photo showed Jared carrying Elise out of the Orion's Belt facility. Ambron zoomed in on her face and spun the tablet around for Sean to see.


"This woman." She said impatiently. "We know she has coerced a technician from the Orion's Belt Initiative to aid her cause, possibly others. We know she's your backup. You're going to help me find her." Ambron spoke without a shred of doubt, confident that she would get her way.


Warren pulled Sean's arm back further.


Sean’s eyes scanned the image on the tablet as it was presented to him. He considered remaining stubbornly silent, but Warren pulled harder on his arm and Sean yelled. Pain shot up the stressed limb and bloomed across his chest, knocking the breath from him. "Give me three seconds to look at the goddamn picture!" he demanded, his voice tight.


Thankfully, Warren stopped tugging on his arm, but his fingers remained clamped on it. If things were proportional, I'd have killed you by now, Sean thought resentfully. He hated feeling like such a ragdoll in the big man's hands. He bitterly observed the picture, not recognizing the woman on the screen. "I don't know her," he admitted. "Must be new. Or from a different squad."


"That is irrelevant. I would refrain from stalling if I were you." Ambron's words were clipped, but she seemed nearly pleased to have gotten a straight answer. Progress was progress.


Sean scoffed. He wished he could pull his arm free, but he knew that he would lose it if he tried. He glared at the picture. Whoever this woman was, she wasn't going for subtlety. Coerced a civilian ... right. Face like that, she probably just batted her eyes a little. Why does gamma squad get all the hot chicks? He hadn't been in contact in a while, but he could only guess that she was with the squad that specialized in trickery over plain stealth.


A glance at Ambron showed a slightly raised eyebrow. Had she already figured him out? Sean grimaced as Warren gave his arm a warning tug. "All I have are guesses. How do you expect me to help when you've had me cooling my heels in this box, eh secretary? Am I supposed to magically know why they sent her?" His breathing was labored from the strain affecting his whole body. He trembled slightly, his body anticipating the sharp increase in pain that would result from Warren losing his patience.

An eerie pause drew out with Ambron's eyes warming upon the toy-sized man.


"Not within your box, no." She finally agreed. Her voice was quiet, not needing to raise her voice to have people clinging to her every word.


Commotion came from behind her back, as two men exited the elevator at the end of the hall in a hurry. A slight look from the secretary got Warren to release Sean's arm, squishing him back into his sweaty fist securely as the warden approached.


"Ambron." The warden said, dressed to the nines in his grey uniform. The shorter man behind him wore a cadet's badge, his curious blue eyes unable to look away from the human. A sweat broke out on his brow when Sean looked back at him with equally intense eyes.


"Warden, you're just in time." Ambron greeted him pleasantly.


"Just in time to ask you to stop harassing my prisoners." The warden hissed. "This is my jurisdiction."


Ambron slipped her hand into her pocket and handed him a glass chip.


"What's this?" Warden grunted.


"You'll find that all the proper clearances are in order. I'm taking possession of our extra-terrestrial inmate."


The warden impatiently motioned for the cadet to hand him a tablet. The cadet was too hypnotized by the tiny person to hear him until his superior gave him a slap on the back of the head.


"R-right! Sorry sir." He jolted back to awareness, handing off the government issued tablet so the warden could implant the chip. The digital documents flooded the screen. His expression darkened, darting between the three before him.


"This is an emergency of federal concern."


"What emergency?"


She smiled, removing a portable glass cage resembling a lantern. "I'm afraid that's classified information, Mister Warden." She informed him smugly.


"Pack him up. Every second we waste is a second they're ahead."


Warren happily dropped Sean into the glass cage, sealing the door behind him.

Sean scowled up at the door of the traveling cage as Warren secured it in place. He'd tried to resist being stuffed into one of these things before, and it nearly cost him his fingers. The container was, from the giant's viewpoint, very efficient. He didn't even have enough room to sit. To Sean, though, its glass bottom served as a stark reminder of how high up he was all the time.


Sean rubbed his sore shoulder tenderly as the warden looked over the tablet, finally nodding his approval of what was going on. Sorry, buddy. Guess you're losing your celebrity prisoner for a while, Sean thought bitterly.


Whatever Ambron had planned, it couldn't be good if she was actually taking custody of him.


And then they were moving. Sean threw his hands out to try to steady himself as the glass case swayed back and forth. Even though he was carried at Ambron's side, he was still unnervingly high in the air. He'd learned long ago that griping about it fell on deaf ears. So he waited, trying to keep himself from knocking into the glass walls with each step the secretary took.


By the time Ambron and her gigantic thug made it to their pod, Sean was feeling a little green and couldn't even appreciate seeing the sun for the first time in months. With the warden well out of earshot, he thought he might have a better chance of figuring out what was going on. "So what's the actual play here, Ambron?"

Ambron took a seat delicately and tilted the cage so she could address its occupant. It seemed like even the simplest moves she made were meticulously pre-planned and executed.


"We lost track of the girl 13 hours ago. She was last seen in the next city over, helping to carry out a break-in at the Sarnic server center."


Warren was already typing away furiously to access the files on her personal tablet. He handed it over without needing to be asked, already on the appropriate identification file. The illuminated screen flickered in the sunlight as she tilted it to face Sean. A small square slideshow began on repeat. All images showed pictures of a handsome man in his early twenties with brown hair a strong jawline. Under the boldset name Jared 458 was a list in white: height, weight, birth date, parents, and complete medical history.


"This is her accomplice." Warren cut in for a brief moment.


Ambron nodded curtly, continuing the thought. "We believe he used a parasitic program to latch onto one of our satellites. The transmission was encrypted, but it's not farfetched to imagine she was calling in further backup."


She let Sean soak in this information. No doubt he was coming to the conclusion she was building up to.


"You see our predicament." Ambron went on. "We'd like to employ your services in retrieving both the girl and her accomplice. Your experience with the AP along with your stature will allow you the most reliable way of gaining their trust. Naturally, we will provide you a few of the weapons you arrived with to ensure they don't pose any threat to you. You will lead them to the coordinates I tell you, eliminating this embarrassing situation once and for all."

Sean stared at Ambron's face, and didn't bother to hide his disbelief. She's really serious, he realized. Sean got the impression that he wasn't even her last resort. Ambron was just testing him. No doubt she thought she'd have an obedient little covert operative to unleash in all the special cases. Well, he wasn't going to just play along!


"So, you're giving me weapons and setting me loose to go and find her. This woman, who somehow managed to call for backup, and you're expecting me to just bring her in for you?" He shook his head. He wished his prison wasn't so tilted; it made it hard to adopt a defiant stance.


"Yes, Mister Dylande. I am," Ambron replied, eyeing him with that scary confidence.


Sean glowered at her. "If she really does have help on the way, I'm hopping on the first ship out of here. I'm not some dog you can play 'go fetch' with." Warren's stoic face actually shifted, and Sean looked over to see his smirk before it disappeared. "What?" he asked, narrowing his eyes as he glanced back at Ambron.

"You mistake my proposition for a show of good faith." Ambron replied. She shared a look with Warren that was positively chilling to witness.


"I'd be a fool to trust the likes of you." Ambron said with a sniff, looking down her nose at him. "We're on our way to the science academy now. To make sure you follow through, you'll be implanted with a very small collar. It's not too hefty, but it has just enough firepower when detonated to blow your head off."


The mocking warmth left her eyes. "If you've ever had a family, Mister Dylande, you know why I'm protecting my planet from scum like you."

The hell do you care if I ever had a family? Sean thought resentfully. He really didn't want to believe that Ambron was serious. But, he was a realistic man and he knew well enough that yes, she would fit him up in an explosive collar. He glared at her as potently as his position would allow, but they both knew she had him.


Sean may have had some sense of camaraderie with his fellow human, but not enough to die for her.


He sighed, letting his frustration show. "Alright," he answered begrudgingly. "You're the boss." He still planned to fight every second as soon as the lid came off of his cage. Even if it was futile, he had to try to get out of this.


The science academy already approached in the pod windows. Sean cringed, remembering his other trips there. They had never once been pleasant. "Is this ... collar of yours going to be permanent?" he asked, already anticipating the rough handling that would come with putting the demeaning thing on.

The secretary shook her head. "Just until you complete this task. The collar is a loan." The corners of her lips twitched upward, like she was sharing some sort of private joke.


The pod smoothly stopped, the glossy white door sliding open. Sean stumbled as Ambron rose to her feet.


"I have high hopes for this collaboration," she announced, breathing in the fresh air of the hedge-lined walkway that led to the back entrance of the Science Academy. "I don't take disappointment very well." 

Though she'd debated her own sleeping mat, Kanna had wrung her hands and fiddled purposelessly with her hair before climbing up Adrian's pillow and making her tentative approach.

"...May I..." She started. "....May I...rest with you tonight?"

Adrian found a relatively comfortable position on his back that didn't bother his shoulder as much. He smiled, then turned his head to look at the tiny woman on his pillow. 

"That was the hope."

Kanna drew a bit closer then laid down beside him, consumed by the immense eyes that softened and watched her intently. She blushed a bit under his scrutiny and could not help the small smile on her lips.

Adrian smiled and gazed at Kanna fondly. 

"Come on, you've been snapping at me all morning, and all of a sudden you're getting shy on me?" He teased gently.

Kanna averted her eyes and continued blushing.

"Am I not allowed to um...want affection?"

Adrian curled his good arm upward to touch her side, nudging her closer to him in reply.

Kanna stifled a small gasp at the sudden movement but quickly seemed to warm to Adrian's affections. She moved a bit closer, still slightly hesitant and shy, extended a slow hand to lay upon his lower lip.

Adrian let his head sink further into the pillow, her hand sliding a fraction of an inch across his lips. He was reminded that for all her pride,her experience in romantic matters was little to none. She needed some confirmation. He gingerly kissed her fingers. 

Kanna's eyes lidded in a fan of intricate lashes; she felt the warmth of lips and spilled breath that erased the quiet of the vast tent around her. Acting upon assumption, she leaned in closer, a second hand joining the first to slowly, inquisitively stroke the lower lip. She moved even closer, brushing her lips against the upper lip tentatively. She resembled a faun taking its first, wobbling, knock kneed steps.

Adrian fought not to smile under the intricate, exploring fingers. It almost tickled in some spots, but overall it was beautiful. He had waited for months for this; to be with Kanna unprohibited. His hand followed her, taking car to be slower than before as he ran the back of his middle finger up her spine.

Kanna could not bring herself to even so much as speak under Adrian's minstrations. Instead, she closed her eyes and leaned against him, focusing on the gusts of escaped air that left his enormous body in the form of great breaths. She tried to match her own breathing patterns to his. When all else was quiet, she was so aware of every sound Adrian made. He was loud in spite of doing next to nothing but be so gentle.

He was so self conscious. How did Jude deal with Penelope clinging to him so closely all the time? He could feel her hair move with his every exhalation. 

Her facial features were pressed against against his we five skin and he could feel her every movement. He cupped a hand behind her. Her entire body fit in his hand. She was so fragile compared to him. All he had to do was squeeze too hard... 

And yet here she was, willingly pressed up to his face. He knew from experience what that took, placing your life in someone's hands like that. 


"Kanna,” He said her name, simply for the sake of saying it.

When the beloved utterance of her own name rattled through her body from her proximity to Adrian's speaking lips, she felt the continuous blush sustain its presence upon her cheeks. Kanna responded with a gentle sigh in return

"Adrian..." 


He closed his eyes, savoring the sound of his name cloaked in her sweet voice. A large finger and thumb grasp her sides carefully and pulled her away just a few inches so he could see her while he spoke. 


"So... After this war's over, what then? Will you go back to your schoolhouse by the sea?" His voice was quiet, a trace of a smile still on his face. 

"Honestly, that was my intial plan."

She gazed up towards him and laid a hand atop the other. Kanna trailed off with a thoughtful expression

"...But things changes, I suppose. I was..."

She blushed wild fire and couldn't seem to keep her whispering voice quite level

"I...Um...Could...I mean, we..."

A flicker of hope flashed through his vivid irises. 

"Plans can change." He agreed. "I don't know where I'm headed after either..." He swooped nervously. "Maybe we could, uh, figure that out... Y’know, the two of us."

Kanna took a moment but nodded once her decision had been made.

"I...would wish to stay with you in whatever way we can make happen."

She fiddled with the tips of her hair and couldn't seem to look at the giant face in front of her.

"I mean what I said before...you being one of the most important people in my life."

While Kanna couldn't meet his eyes, Adrian couldn't look at anything but her. His heart pounded an unfamiliar rhythm in his chest. 

He placed a single fingertip over her fidgeting hands. "Let's stay. Wherever that ends up being... You and me."


"...Adrian..."

She uttered his name with a soft fondness, a whisper steeped in affection that seemed boundless as the unending sky. She finally gained the courage to look at him again, a small smile on her face. Her hands stilled and her eyes flickered towards his lips once then returned to his eyes again.

The giant looked stunned in disbelief. Then Adrian frowned passionately and pushed through the pain in his shoulder to plant a kiss full on her lips. 

They had kissed several times by this point- giant, human sized... This kiss left them all behind. 

He had a solid ground in his life now. An anchor. This beautiful, incredible woman... 

In that moment, the future had never looked bright and the imminent war seemed as no more than an obstacle to be overcome.

"...As long as you're the one I am with, I swear to be happy anywhere."

Kanna kissed him until she felt breathless and winded and the grips of fatigue began to claim her. Even though she wished to remain aware and fully awake with him now for the time they would have left before God knew what occured in the morning, she could not deny that her body was beginning to sag.

His shoulder smarted enough to get him to back down. He relaxed back and pulled the blanket to his chest. He could see she was exhausted. Hell, so was he- getting shot during a rescue tended to do that. 

"You warm enough?" He asked, closing his eyes and facing the tent ceiling.

Truthfully, she was quite alright but the clever part of her mind knew not to pass up such a prime opportunity.

"I could stand to be somewhere warmer, perhaps."

She suggested, keeping her voice down. She was conscious of her other slumbering companions and just how tired they must be.


Immediately catching her drift, Adrian cracked an eye open to give her an look that said he clearly approved of whatever antics she was pulling. He reached up again, sliding his palm beneath her and gently depositing her Inbetween his upper chest and the edge of the blanket. 

"That outta do the trick."

Kanna turned onto her front to look up towards Adrian's face, a small smile offered to him with pink cheeks.

"Perfect."

She got comfortable against his warm body and closed her eyes, rocked gently by the rising and falling of his breath.

"Good night, Adrian."

~~~~~


While the rescue crew slept the day away, word spread about Jude's rescue. Emmet got a kick out of impressing the pants off the younger kids with his rendition of the adventure. 


They were so excited by the tale, they grew impatient waiting for the giants to awake. A crowd of human children gathered at the entrance to Adrian and Jude's tent. 

"There they are!"

"Awww, They're still sleeping."

"So? Let's wake them up. It's almost supper time for cryn' out loud." A bold, mischievous group slipped in through the flap. 

They squeaked when Jude turned over in his sleep, clutching something precious to his chest beneath the covers. Nervous giggling ensued. Then they cautiously began exploring.

The sound of a throat clearing from behind the crowd of young ones heralded tge sight of idina standing at the tent enterance, brow raised and hands on her hips. She gestured for them to come back and gather around her.

They groaned, but complied. 


Penelope shifted against Jude, laying whichever direction the sleeping giant would turn.

Adrian once again proved his worth as a deep sleeper; he merely turned his head further into his pillow and sighed deeply.

Though very much asleep, Kanna found herself quite literally buried in Adrian's great affections. She was pinned down by his face against the pillow and seemed quite happy with this substitution for conventional sleeping arrangements.


 A couple hours later, Jude awoke after a series of disturbing dreams. He felt sick to his stomach. Leaving Penelope on the pillow, he threw on the closest jacket and snuck out to the woods behind. Penelope, though deprived of her cuddle parter, merely adapted and crawled down into the blankets and burrowed, becoming a small lump. 

Finding a quiet spot comfortable enough to accommodate his size, Jude dipped his hand into the icy cold water and splashed some on his face. 

"Only a dream...only a dream." He repeated to himself. 

Jude was stopped by Idina and some of the other maternal gypsies. While it was his natural instinct to politely decline, the women had slaved away for hours to make one portion of a heart autumn stew for him. They told him he looked pale and needed to keep up his strength; especially since it was his duty as a husband, apparently. Almost husband, anyway.

"Thank you." He took a bite and closed his eyes. "That's the best thing I've ever tasted." He sighed happily. 

"I bet anything would be after that slop they feed ya in there." Erwin, a portly grandmother with vocal opinions began dragging the used utensils to the wash basin. 


Kanna gave a soft groan as she began to rouse and shifted against the cheek that had her partially pinned.

"Mmn."

Though her brows furrowed a bit, the action was lightened by her sleep.  A protesting moan rumbled through her. Adrian refused move, aside from turning his head more towards her, feeling her with the side of his lips.

"Adrian..."

She finally managed to sigh, pushing lightly on his face. It was clear he wasn't budging any time too soon. Kanna sighed and cracked open her eyes to find his lips brushing against her.

"Mmmn..." He smiled in his sleep and rubbed against her. While asleep for all intensive purposes, it appeared a part of him was still enjoying the unfamiliar feeling of her body underneath his. 

A few minutes later, the pressure was shifted when he turned fully on his back, facing the ceiling with deep, contented breaths. Kanna sighed and shifted into an upright position. She wore a fond smile even through the faint exasperation in her voice

"You are such a hopeless man."

Then, she rose to her feet, paced down the pillow towards his face then paused to pressed her lips to the side of it.

"Adrian.." She whispered gently, "It's time to wake up."


"Nnn...not hopeless." He mumbled. He made groggy noise, then decided it best to not get her irritated. Besides, he needed more herbs to numb the pain from his shoulder-that burning sensation definitely woke him up. 

He turned halfway to face her on the pillow. How funny it was to wake up next to someone so tiny. The sleepy look in the giants' eyes made her smile fondly and shake her head. She backed up a step

"You look like a little boy when you wake up." She teased him.

He laughed. He had a hard time thinking of anything to insult her on, since she honestly looked beautiful when she slept to him. 


"Take a look at your bed head." He used his good arm to push himself up into a sitting position. He gritted his teeth. Damn, that bullet wound hurt like hell. 

"We slept all day." He noted with a strained happiness. 

"You should get Amir to look at your shoulder."

Notes of concern infected her voice and she gazed up at him, working with her hair by combing through the dark threads with her bare fingers.

"Yeah." He had almost forgotten that Amir was a cleric, too. The brisk air was a harsh contrast from the cozy warmth of the blankets. He glanced to the side, seeing Jude was absent. 

"Now where he’d run off to?" He groaned, hurriedly putting on his clothes.

Kanna threw on some simple clothing in the corner then exited the tent to tail Adrian. She wanted to be sure she saw him get treated, uncaring if that made her paranoid or otherwise. On their way out, Ade nearly ran into Jude himself. 

"Damn it, I was freaking out!" Adrian scowled at Jude.

"I'm sorry-" Jude started.

"Don't just up and leave right after we saved your ass..." Adrian grumbled, pushing past him to hide his concern. Jude understood, anyway. 

He carefully sat on the middle of his mat and pulled down the blankets until an adorable curled-up Penelope came into view.

"You don't have to wake up yet." He crooned, cradling her in his hand. "I just want to talk to Gabe for a minute."

Jude traced over the sizeable baby bump with his forefinger. "I read somewhere that babies can hear what you're saying in there. Maybe not understand me yet, but you know it's me, right?" Pen's peaceful breathing was the reply. "I just.. I guess I want you to know that things are getting pretty crazy out here. A lot of people are very angry and don't want your mommy and I to be together. We're going to fight them, but its not going to be easy... I guess I just want you to know that if anything happens tomorrow, I love you very, very much. Okay?"

Pen's arms found her middle and flopped across it when the baby started moving. She could feel her son, could tell he'd be the sort who'd demand attention. A sleepy part of her mind was lulled further by the soothing rumbling of Jude's voice, words meant for their baby.

~~~~~

Adrian was going to start a fire first, but realized soon after that nearly every movement involved his shoulder. So he carefully tread over to the gypsy caravan in search of Devon or his boyfriend.

Devon wore a distant expression, one unfolded arm of his glasses clutched loosely in his hand. He sat alone presently save for Amir who sat on a stump across from him. They were on the fringes of the campgrounds, a few tents and what not just within sight.

"It is dangerous now, Amir. Neither of us might make it back this time."

Amir drew in a solemn breath, eyes focused downwards and nimble fingers clasped in his lap.

"...I know that."

"But you had better damn well expect to fight for you life. If you let yourself die on me, I vow I shall join you so that you would not rest in peace until you understand how cross I shall be with you."

The engineer warned. Amir let out a laugh.

"God forbid."

"Sorry to interrupt..." Adrian greeted them from afar. "I was hoping I could usurp your expertise for a little cut."

The giant sat downseveral metered away from them, his usual playful expression absent.

"Little cut my ass, Kaufner."

Amir raised a highly skeptical brow then rose to his feet, patted soot away from his trousers. He walked a short ways to get closer to the injured giant. The tangerine sunlight was lessoning in tandem with barely a scrape to be drunk in by the skin through the tree tops and low cielinged clouds that seemed so keen on concealment.

"Lemme get a look."

He hardly had Pen's natural affinity for healing but he was not without some talent.

Adrian unwound the gauze and bandages from his shoulder, grunting in pain when they stuck to the oozing surface. 

Casting them aside, he picked up Amir and lifted him to the injured shoulder. 

"It's not y'know horrible, but if you could take the edge off, that would be awesome." He downplayed his own pain yet again. If there was one thing to be certain, he wouldn’t be called a whiner. 

"Can do, big guy."

Amir analysed the bullet wound with careful scrutiny before moving in to get to work. He shot Adrian a playful smirk

"Try not to pass out on me."

His hands started glowing.

"Hah-hah." Adrian gave him a sarcastic laugh. He held as still as possible for the small healer. His eyes shut in blessed relief as the glow burned the pain away gradually. 


The glow of magic receded and Amir took a decidedly deep breath.

"God, why do you have to be so damn huge? Healing you is such a pain so do me a favour and try not to get hurt again."

Amir teased and began to tug his loose locks back into a ponytail.

"S'not my fault." Adrian's eyes crinkled at the corners. He let out a breathey laugh- the pain was relieved and his shoulder looked nearly as good as new, minus a bit of pinkness residing in the affected area. 

He plucked Amir off his shoulder and gave him a one-handed "bro hug" against his chest.

"You rock, Amir. I owe you one." 


"Don't get mushy on me, Ade."

Amir gave the giant's good shoulder a punch and chuckled

"My boyfriend's watching."


Upon being addressed, Devon's familar drawl intoned

"Please, indulge yourself in harassing him. God knows he could use a fair bit of taming."

He continued sketching the tree line.

"Tempting." Adrian held out Amir in his palm, considering the countless way to give him a hard time. But there was just something grim in the air today that made the giant lower the gypsy to the ground with out so much as ruffling his hair. 


"Seriously, let me know if I can return the favor." He dusted himself off, then leaned over to see Devon's latest sketches. "You're standing in my light."

Devon said in his usual toneless lilt, his wrist providing fluid movements and sketchy strokes as well as his eyes flicked up to the treeline then back down to the sketchbook.

Amir shrugged off Adrian's words and made quick work of cartwheeling over and sitting down beside the engineer.

"As usual..." Adrian chuckled half-heartedly. He sat up straighter, rolled his freshly healed shoulder, and watched the humans for a moment before speaking again. 

"How're you holding up? With... all this."

Pencil strokes slowed any serious movement then ceased alltogether. Devon wet his lips and Amir scootched closer.


"Honestly..." Devon started "That last demonstration was an utter train wreck. I dread to see that happening again unless we are better prepared."

He flexed and relaxed his fingers against the pencil in his hand.


"Yeah but it definitely got people's attention. What we need is for the people of Bergen to come out of their fear and stand beside us. The government wouldn't stand a chance then." The giant rolled down his sleeves and pulled his shirt closer. "I just hope Jude and Penelope are cookin' up one hell of a plan."


"Or Penelope is still asleep?" Amir let out a chuckle, an effort to inject some levity. "Seriously though, I think they'll get something figured out. 'Course wouldn't hurt for us to get involved to a degree."

"We'll see what they have to say later tonight.” The blonde giant turned his gaze straight ahead, over the entire human portion of the camp as he replayed disturbing flashes of the night before. “When we found him.... Jude was mumbling something weird. ‘Blood poison.’  Could barely understand the man." Adrian frowned. 

~~~~~

Jude stroked Penelope's side thoughtfully.

"Pen. Wake up." He turned her gently onto her back and watched her for signs of stirring. 


Familiar touch always had a way of rousing the cleric from the realms of blissful sleep and once she had, she sat up bleary eyed and found Jude's face immediately

"Mmmph...Hey handsome..."

She croaked tiredly the stretched up her arms to yawn and work out the heaviness of slumber.

A wide, tender smile spread across his plush lips. 

"I thought I was going to have to kiss you to break the spell." He teased, eyes grazing the miniature woman in his palm.

Penelope reciprocated his expression with a sleepy rendition of her own before surrendering her sleepy state to one of awareness.

"In that case, maybe I should go back to sleep."

Jude laughed- and how good it felt to laugh! Then he brought the tiny woman up to his lips, his just barely brushing hers- teasing.

A generous warmth flooded the entirety of her body and glowed beneath her skin like a kiss from the sun itself. She nuzzled his lips and giggled, beckoning to kiss him more. Such large affections were unparalleled in Penelope's own books and she feared she'd been spoiled by experiancing the kiss of a giant.

"Mmn. More kisses."She demanded softly.

His lips spread to reveal a toothy smile, then puckered once more upon her chin/upper chest, her shoulder/upper arm, and kiss on her whole face. 

Jude raised his head enough to relish the expression on his face. How could doing so little affect her so?

A fresh round of giggles fluttered from Penelope, much to her own delight. Though she was certain each kiss must have been very small for Jude the sensation on her end was much more acute, much more noticable. She smiled up into his eyes with nothing but fondness.

"I love your laugh." 

He trailed a finger up her arm, the fingernail teasing at the infinitesimal hairs on the slender limb. His smile faded somewhat and he ducked outside, staring out at the wandering members of the movement. Things had remained a little tense ever since he got back. People looked at him differently.

Already the sun was starting to set again for it hung on the long side in the sky and sagged a bit.

"Jude?"

She asked softly and looked up towards his face. She'd noticed a shift within him that worried her a bit.

He bowed his head to look down at her. Her pixie-like features were knit in worry.

She should be worried. But not just for me. 

"I... Pen, I uhm..." 

His mouth went dry. How did one go about just saying that the government you put your faith in for years has periodically been committing genocide?

Like a balm for his troubled soul, Penelope rubbed a gentle, slow calming circle into Jude's palm.

"Tell me what's troubling you."

She implored with a certain telltale softness of a concerned lover.

Jude's tension gradually lessened to a degree. He seated himself on a row of stumps and rubbed his eyes with his free hand. Nearly a whole minute stretched out in which Jude sat silently, staring out above her at the horizon. 

"What if," he began. "The government you had been in alligience to your entire life had secretly been killing people for population control." He looked down at her gravely. 

Penelope closed her eyes and drew in a deep, shaking breath. Hate welled up but moreso, concern for the man she loved and every giant in her life that would be affected by something like this along with humans that could be subjected to the same pain.

"...What did they do?" She protectively encircled her unborn child in a shield of her arms. "And what are they planning to do now?"

As much as he wished he didn't have to burden her with this knowledge, he could never live with himself for lying to her. So Jude took a deep breath and proceeded to tell her what the general had told him. 


"...There's no knowing how many of us are infected with the dormant toxin. Humans carry it too, but they're not the target this time. There's a second toxin that is a catalyst to the first, shuts down even a giant's body in a matter of hours. So their plan is to get a transport for the general and his men out of Bergen tomorrow afternoon. And after that, the dispersement of phase two begins and giants start dropping like flies."


Heat formed around Penelope as if she bore the wrath of God himself. 

"Why those...sick, disgusting bastards!"

She seethed. A few pieces of fire started to form close to herself and she showed all of the hate she felt

"We need to stop them! And immediately! If they get that poison into the water people will die. We need to expose the goverment and get rid of them! Those bastards are gonna pay even if I have to beat them black and blue myself! I swear to God they are going to bleed and cry like the bed wetter they are! THOSE BASTARDS!"


By this point, a crowd had started amassing.



"What poison?"

Jude repeated loudly for those who had not heard, and those people passed it on to the even later stragglers. 

Amy stood with knobby knees towards the back, pale as a ghost. Finnigan had been drinking from his hip flask, but he sobered in mere seconds. Lance and his wife exchange worried looks, clutching their infant daughter close. 


All around, The consensus was clear: this hit home hard. Lives were at stake, and they were prepared to fight for it.


"The end of this tyranny is closer than you think." Jude insisted. "It all depends on the will to act."


Adrian frowned from the side. 

"You know they're not gonna just be satisfied with just locking you up again." He warned. Jude nodded grimly. 

"I know."


Sam stood next to Amy on the ground and placed his hand against her ankle, forming a physical connection as the courage of a lion welled up inside of him. Amy nearly jumped out of her skin, but when she saw who it was, her lip trembled and she bent down to let him take her finger in his hand. While he was no giant, there was a strength in his being she did not possess.


"...This is a war. And we've been too soft." Pen wore something between outrage and defeat in her eyes and she looked over the members of the movement.

"This is no longer simply a fight for liberty but for the lives of people who could die from this. We need to expose the government and kick them out of power. We need to cease control but first and foremost, the public needs to know the truth. The time has come for us to fight with our lives to protect the people with love and those who cannot fight themselves. We need to mobilize the willing and encourage those we can to join us."


Kanna's eyes bore horror and she pressed herself against Adrian's neck as if his life would end with immediacy. She recalled files she'd seen in Weinburg's office.


"We'll need evidence." The asian woman spoke up."And I know where to get some."

"Where?" Adrian turned his head a fraction in her direction. 

"Weinburg's office. His filing cabinets. There was one that was under strict lock and key and I have a strong feeling there would be something about the poison and the government's plans in there. I saw files on Jude and Penelope in his office along with several other classified documents."

Jude's eyebrows shot up. All eyes were on Adrian's shoulder, or rather the woman upon it, for those who could see her. 

Adrian frowned, finding Devon in the crowd below him. Breaking into his office had hardly been easy the first time...


"We'll, it would be cutting it close, but the movement gathering in the city should be a substantial distraction. We could stall a while, file the crowds.... You think you could be in and out if his office in time to produce evidence to the masses?" Jude inquired.

Kanna nodded. There was no time to hesitate.

"If I have some others with me to get inside, I can get the files and meet with you on time." She looked to Adrian. "And I would like to request that Adrian accompanies. No magic. If there is already going to be stirrings within the city, there would be no point in his concealment. Plus, he could easily lift me to the window far more quickly and get me out just as fast."

"Granted." 

Only hose who knew Jude well could see he was smiling ever so faintly; because he alone could see how pleased Adrian was to have been desired by Kanna- without magic, on top of that. 


"We've been helping Kaufner and old man Rye work on a shield contraption of sorts. Real mechanical , bit on the large side.." Michael, one of the human twin mechanics, projected his voice. 

"That would make for great refuge if things don't go our way." Jude nodded.


Those who were able-bodied and willing enough stepped forward and began offering different roles to play. The sun had set nearly an hour ago now, but they continued planning deep into the night, building fires to stay toasty. 


Guns. Gunpowder. The scent of industry filled the air.

The world no longer was as simple as before. Friends held weapons meant to retaliate and determination and bravery coloured the eyes and statures of every man and woman in the encampment. 

Books and leisure had been set aside. There was no longer time for that, not until what was done had been achieved.

The morning greeted the world with a solemn sunlight that no longer represented the carefree light of daytime but the beginning of the true revolution.


The beginning of the end.

Elise woke hours later, slowly drifting back to consciousness. Her thoughts still swam, and she remained still for a long while, hoping she might drift off again. The surface beneath her was warm and comfortable. She shifted a little, and realized there was fabric between her and whatever she lay on.


Not the floor, her groggy mind observed. It was then she noticed the steady rise and fall. She could feel a slow, steady pulse beneath her, and a weight covered her lower half. The familiar feelings finally connected in her thoughts, and Elise opened her eyes. She had to blink a few slow blinks before her vision became anything resembling solid.


Just as she had managed to predict, she was lying on Jared's chest. His hand rested over her, keeping her warm and holding her in place. It was a good thing, because even lying down, he'd have presented quite a height to fall from if Elise had rolled over. She turned her neck slowly to peer at his face. He still slept soundly.


Elise sighed and laid her head back down. She couldn't tell how long she had been asleep, but morning light did seem to be filtering into the cave. Despite that, she felt like she could lie there for many hours more. She listened to Jared's heart beating, content to hear it at a relaxed pace for once.


As she was lulled back into half-sleep, the sound of a faint rustling outside the cave escaped her. A lizard with wide scales and a chubby tail scurried cautiously into the mouth of the cave, turning its head this way and that to survey the things sleeping there. To Elise, the creature was the size of a rhinoceros, complete with a bulky midsection. It cautiously crept up to Kaye, the closest one, and flicked a forked tongue to catch the scent on the air.

Catching the scent of last night's dinner, the lizard scampered forward at an uneven stride, hoping to discover a scrap or two. Smoldering ashes between Jared and Kaye produced a thin spiral of smoke, disappearing as a gentle breeze wafted through their curtain of camouflage. The lizard was by Kaye's shoulder now. It sniffed the air again with a flick of its tongue. Closer now. It pressed a cautious, three-pronged foot to her shoulder. When she didn't move, it climbed up the rest of the way, ambling along to the leather bag tucked behind her.


Kaye was jerked back to consciousness when something yanked on her hair.


"Ow!" She hissed, awake in seconds. She shot up a hand, groping onto a warm scaly body and a fat, spiny tail. She sprang to life with a shrill scream. She shot to her feet, shaking her head desperately to fling the lizard out. Unfortunately, its little legs had gotten tangled in her long hair, and her erratic movements only made it hold on harder.


"Kaye!" Jared was sitting up, just barely clutching Elise to his stomach. She hadn't slid down far when he bolted upright.


"It's on me! Get off, get OFF!" She shrieked.


It was all a confusing flurry of limbs and movement, so at first Jared couldn't even see what Kaye was struggling with.


"Kaye, what's-" halfway to his feet, a projectile was flung at him. The lizard landed on his shoulder, one scaly claw prying at his chin. A shout of surprise escaped him, nearly dropping Elise as he reacted immediately to get it off him. The lizard was spazzing out, its tail flicking Elise in the head.


"Don't throw it at me!" He managed to wrap a large hand around the creature and fling it back to the mouth of the cave. After that encounter, the lizard was only too happy to escape back into the woods.

Elise was grateful that she had already had a chance to wake up a little. It wasn't quite as shocking of a wakeup call when Kaye cried out and Jared sat up. In the confusion that followed, she could hardly register where she'd ended up. Everything was movement and noise, and she was pressed gently into something.


Elise looked up, startled, when the animal was suddenly on Jared, writhing about in confusion. She squealed and ducked her head when its tail whipped back and forth. It clipped her but thankfully didn't do too much damage. That thing is huge! she observed, still very alarmed by its presence. But, things seemed to calm down a little almost immediately when Jared managed to chuck the disgruntled lizard away.


She took a few deep breaths, now fully awake. She managed to relent in her white-knuckled grip on Jared's shirt, the desperation gone. She gathered her bearings and tried to look over her shoulder to survey the cave for more scaly critters.


"That's one way to wake up, I suppose," she groused, trying to shift but not wanting to move too much and risk falling to the ground so many feet below. She hadn't gotten enough of a look at the lizard thing beyond noting its size. She couldn't tell whether it would have bitten one of them, or if it had just been unlucky when it startled them all awake.


After all of the scares she had been through, this one seemed so ... comical. The creature had probably just been scouting out the things they had with them. It was only a few times Elise's size, and yet it had given them all such a fright. Elise couldn't stop the relieved giggle that bubbled up out of her. "Someday, Jared, you'll get to wake up without some big surprise." She tried to look up at him, but the way he had to stoop slightly and the fact that she was pressed slightly into his abdomen concealed his face.

Jared chuckled, a wide smile spanning his face as he recalled her attempt to rouse him back in the hotel room.


"Yeah, not holding my breath on that one." He smirked as he pulled her away from his body, her bare legs dangling over the side of his hand.


He was surprised to receive no awkwardness from her in regards to transferring her to his chest last night. The fact that she was so easy going about it put him in a cheerful mood as the morning unfolded.


Kaye was still standing by the wall with her hair on edge.


"Gross, gross, gross." She muttered, running her hands through her hair as if to rid it of any lizard leftovers. Jared exchanged a look of mild amusement with Elise, spectating as Kaye stomped over to her bag and started tossing out all her toiletries. She found a box of cleansing tablets and sighed in relief. She pulled out a row of the pale grey tablets and unwrapped one, shoving it into her mouth like she couldn't do it fast enough. She chewed it thoroughly and swished it around with her cheeks puffed out.


"It was probably just curious." Jared called over, a trace of laughter to his deep voice.


Kaye caught Jared's smirk out of the corner of her eye and tossed the rest of the box at him.


"Here. Your breath probably stinks." She replied flatly.


Jared rolled his eyes but took her up on the free toothbrushing tablets all the same. He had forgotten his own box at home, and was dying for a refresher for the bitter taste left in his mouth. He lowered Elise to her feet on the ground so he could break off a corner of the tablet for her. It crumbled to dust between his finger and thumb, and he had to offer her a smear of grey granules.


"Chew this. Don't swallow, though." He instructed her.

Elise eyed the grey substance before brushing it onto her palm from his fingertip. She could guess what it was just from the context, but it still inspired a little skepticism in her. Still, the technology here was advanced enough that deep lacerations from animal bites could be sealed up in minutes. So, this strange stuff could probably clean her teeth just fine.


The flavor of it struck her quite abruptly, and Elise closed her eyes in surprise. It was vaguely flavored like something, but Elise could only distinguish the intense taste that was reminiscent of mint. It wasn't the same, but she found herself thinking of listerine as she chewed it.


Seeing that the others hardly reacted to the taste, Elise wondered if it was just that she wasn't used to it that made it so powerful. It probably also had chemicals she wasn't accustomed to. It certainly felt like it would work. She felt like her gums would be tingling for the rest of the morning.


Elise paused, wondering how she was supposed to discard the stuff once her teeth felt thoroughly cleaned. She saw Kaye and Jared spit the cleansing substance onto the spent campfire, so she walked over to do the same, resisting the urge to just swallow it. She didn't feel like tempting fate.


"That was ... interesting," she commented. She almost said more, but a container that had been knocked across the floor in Kaye's rush caught her eye. She walked over to it while Kaye began to gather up her things once more. "Kaye, don't forget your ... shampoo," she called, tilting her head to peer at the label.


She really came prepared, Elise mused. She wished she had been able to retrieve some of her own supplies from the wreckage of her ship before being taken to the clinic. Now they were probably all crushed or discarded by the scientists.

"Oh! Thanks." Kaye flashed her a quick smile as she reached over to grab the shampoo. Her hand slowed as she got closer, aware of the size difference and not wanting to frighten Elise. She wasn't used to feeling so large and quite honestly it was a feeling she didn't prefer. But it was no one's fault after all. So she endured.


Kaye weighed the bottle in her hand and pursed her lips thoughtfully at Elise. "We'll have to figure out some sort of bathing schedule..." She muttered.


Jared caught the tail end of that conversation and raised his eyebrows steeply. "Whoa whoa. Dude, we're not going to bathe in the middle of the woods. We're not animals."


"But we're public enemies now. Ambron will have people looking for us." Kaye countered.


"She can't be everywhere at once. If we keep moving, I think we can afford a shower each at a town health center."


Kaye gnawed on her lip, unusually hesitant. "I don't know, Jay." She said quietly. "This whole thing makes me nervous. I don't know what to expect."


Jared gave her a look of equal understanding, but couldn't express proper sympathy with Elise present.


"I'm going to take a look around." He said, standing up. He took a look at the embers, making sure they were fully extinguished before leaving the cave. Kaye let out a stressed sigh before rummaging in her bag for a dark brown cube and a little premeasured vial of water.


"Screw it, I'm having dessert for breakfast." She announced under her breath, pouring the water into a collapsible glass and popping the chocolate cake flavored cube into the mix. She caught Elise's eye and shot her a friendly smile. "Oh come on-- we've earned this."

Elise went to where she had discarded her boots and zipped them on, listening to the conversation carrying overhead. It certainly would be nice to have a chance to bathe, regardless of where they decided it should happen. Despite being drenched through twice now, she still missed the feeling of a warm shower.


She glanced over in time to return Kaye's smile. She stood and approached slowly, making her way around the campfire. Elise was still a little weirded out by how big everyone was, but she was working hard to get used to it. She had no other options; constantly being nervous about how small she was compared to everything would only bring unneeded stress.


Elise's eyes lit up as she saw what was quickly forming in the container Kaye had prepared. God, it looked amazing. It was comforting to know that such a staple could also be found on this planet. "It looks great," she commented, pausing several paces away. Jared had had lots of time by now to get used to her small presence; but Elise got the feeling that Kaye would need a chance to adjust.


When she was sure that Kaye was aware of her, Elise took a few more steps forward to close the distance. She eyed the cake as it formed right before their eyes, still amazed at how well the process worked. If she were on the planet on friendlier terms, she might try to figure out how it was done.


"It's a good thing you brought food," she remarked. "I don't think we'd have been able to catch anything. I know I couldn't have." Elise would probably be more effective as bait than as a hunter, and she certainly wasn't going to make that attempt.

"I didn't know what I was getting myself into." Kaye admitted. "So I... Brought a little bit of everything."


As if to prove her point, she produced a spork from her big bag, waiting impatiently for the cake to finish solidifying. She tapped it on her knee, looking out to the entrance of the cave. She could no longer hear her friend's steps crunching along outside. She couldn't help but notice how eager Jared had been to escape the confines of the cave. She didn't blame him; he deserved a little time alone with the amount of ungodly stress he was under. She was just beginning to have a sample of that stress herself.


Finally, the cake was still, complete with a layer of messy white frosting spilling over the top. Kaye dug the spork in, lowering the first bite down to Elise and patiently waiting for her to grab her own portion in her hands like last night.


"I'm sorry again about not having anything your size. It seems so undignified of me." Kaye apologized.

Elise smiled and shrugged, lightly patting the piece of cake she had taken into a more manageable shape. "I'm getting used to it," she answered softly. She took her first bite just as Kaye scooted away, and did her best not to flinch at the sudden movement. Once the faint tremors in the ground ceased, Elise seated herself on her knees, tucking her legs beneath herself as usual.


Once Elise had taken what she wanted, Kaye picked up the glass of cake and started eating. Two bites in, she scooted back until she was against the wall; she hated looming over Elise like that.


"Mmm. This is poetry for my mouth. So how long is it gonna take you to fix your outer-space ship?" She asked thickly, poking through the frosting to the moist cake.



Elise’s eyes wandered over to the case that contained the jigsaw puzzle that was her ship. Her shoulders drooped almost imperceptibly before she shrugged. "I don't really know," she admitted, her mouth becoming a thin line as she thought about it.


"I never really learned much about putting the entire thing together. I mean, I can change out the power core and maybe fix the pistons, but this ..." She sighed, remembering the state it had been in even before the scientists had gutted it. "I'm not much of an engineer," she added, quieter this time. What if she could never get it repaired? It seemed like an insurmountable task.


It certainly seemed like she was more likely to end up imprisoned than she was to actually get the thing spaceworthy again. It was a discouraging thought.

Kaye's dark eyebrows went up. She fell still after swallowing her bite, dread pooling in her stomach.


"But you..." She shook her head to herself, knowing that it was unrealistic and unfair for Elise to secretly be an engineer as well as a diplomat. Obviously, building spaceships wasn't part of the curriculum where she came from either. Kaye looked down at Elise in dismay as the odds really sank in. If the ship couldn't be fixed... Then there was no light at the end of this tunnel.


"Krivnex." She whispered. "I'm sorry."


She poked the spork around the frosting and cake, mulling over what to say next in uncomfortable silence. Her eyes darted to the ship's box, then straightened up again. "Oh! Hey, they found some of your stuff, I think. They bagged it up as classified evidence." Setting the glass aside, Kaye leaned right over Elise and moved the box into her lap. She rummaged around inside until she found a plastic bag filled with folded clothes and a variety of strange little objects that were almost too small for her to make out clearly.


"I think they're better off in your hands than as a source in some snooty science article."

Elise watched the box soar over her head, lifted effortlessly in Kaye's hands. She stood when Kaye set the clear plastic bag next to her. "Oh, thank God," she said aloud. A few changes of clothes would be quite welcome. Elise surveyed the objects that had survived. Thankfully the case with her toiletries was intact; she could almost smell the familiar fragrance of the shampoo.


There was also a first aid kit, some emergency rations, and a small strobe light for marking her location in case a rescue ship needed to find her. Her communicator was also there, though it looked a little scratched, and the back panel had been partially wrenched off. Probably tried to hack into it, she thought ruefully. She glanced once at Kaye's wristband communicator, and suddenly felt embarrassed for her own device; she might as well have a brick phone.


"I'm really glad you brought this," she said with a grateful smile. Having something familiar was already helping her troubled thoughts. There was something that was distinctly hers, meant to be used by someone her size.


Elise couldn't hope to undo the seal on the bag by herself, but she didn't need to in order to take a quick inventory of the clothes she now had available. They ranged from casual to impractically formal; she doubted she'd ever need an evening gown here. But the jeans ... "Good thing they didn't throw all this out," she commented. Something Kaye had said kept coming back to her. "What kind of science article would they even write with this stuff? I thought your people weren't interested in space travel."

Kaye opened up the ziplock bag and set it at her feet for Elise to sift through.


"Well, I dunno. It's not the technology that they'd want to study so much as... you." She gave Elise an awkward smile, having a sinking feeling that she was just going to be a major downer. "You're a sweet girl- er young woman- but you're an alien. And a really little one, at that! Of course they'd be writing books on you. We've never imagined anyone like you existed! Why... If Jared or I popped up on your planet, why I bet scientists would be crawling all over us!" She grimaced as the image became more vivid in her mind's eye. "Ew... Maybe literally."

Elise nodded slowly. In truth, she had been trying to willfully ignore that possibility. But Kaye was right; Elise was a scientific oddity on this planet. She shared in the other woman's discomfort as she imagined her own scenarios. Constant prodding and observation, with Elise unable to do anything about it. She shook the thoughts away before they could take root in what was already a forest of worries. "Another reason to be really glad Jared got me out of there," she answered.


As she sifted through her clothes, considering changing into a new outfit for the day, Elise smiled softly. What if Kaye or Jared did go to Earth? Everyone would certainly be wary of them. If a giant alien showed up unannounced, they might even be in danger of stirring up the military. "Just call ahead if you plan to visit," she joked, glancing up at Kaye with a faint smile.

Kaye gave a humorless laugh, letting her head conk back against the wall. "That would be a nightmare. It's scary enough having one tiny person around. I can't even imagine..." But she trailed off, lost in thought. Evidently, she could imagine.


Elise couldn't help the bemused look that came to her face. Scary? Me?


They both raised their heads as familiar footsteps heralded Jared's return. Elise stayed in place as he walked back into the cave, hoping to avoid getting in his way. She wasn't quite used to the sight of him walking around while she was actually on the ground.  The scruff he'd collected over the last couple days had been shaved down to a mere shadow. Using his switchblade had left him with a few shaving nicks. Kaye cleared her throat and tapped her cheek pointedly. Jared caught the look and lifted a hand to his own cheek. He drew away a smear of blood on his fingers and sighed. He rummaged into his battered knapsack for some gauze.


"Hold up," Kaye called over. She locked up the ship again and pulled her hefty satchel into her lap. Glass bottles and miscellaneous wrappings crinkled as she searched for the first aid box. After some fiddling, she dabbed some blue solution onto a cotton pad and passed it over to her friend.


Jared smiled sheepishly as he accepted it. "What would I do without you?" He said gratefully, sitting down near her, while keeping a mindful distance from Elise. He wiped the damp pad over his cuts. The open wounds stung for only a second before the blue liquid absorbed, quietly and seamlessly stitching the skin back together.


It was relieving to see that Kaye had brought a considerable stock of that strange medicine. Elise had a distinct feeling that nothing in her own first aid kit would be as effective. Once he had cleared up his little cuts, Elise thought Jared looked quite refreshed. It was a welcome sight after all of their misadventures.


As he looked down at Elise to check on her (as had become habit), the ziploc bag of miniatures caught his eye. "Whoa! Is this your stuff?" He reached a large hand down, grazing her lap as he tugged a teeny uniform jacket out of the top. He brought it right up to his eyes for inspection, turning it over in his hands.


"Leftovers from her ship." Kaye filled him in.


Jared nodded absently, now trying to pin down the microscopic zipper on the front. "Man, your clothes are tiny." He said with an engrossed smile.


Elise gasped with surprise when his hand was suddenly in front of her, plucking up one of her jackets. She smiled softly at his expression. His childlike wonder was fun to witness, especially since the jacket was so commonplace for her. In his hands, her clothes really did look tiny.


"I guess they'd have to be," she answered with a faint blush. It was still strange to think of herself as small.


"That's part of my uniform," she explained as he continued to look it over. "It's what I wear when I'm on duty. I would have worn that to the hearing yesterday."

He slid a fingertip over the Allied Planets logo stitched on the upper right-hand lapel.


"I'd love to have seen you in action." Jared mused, haunted by the image of Elise in an esteemed position in court. She would have been amazing, he had no doubt in his mind. After a final moment of contemplation, Jared lowered the little jacket down to her level in an open palm.


"So." Kaye said, halfway through her cake now. "What's the plan? It looks like her ship is little more than a lawn ornament at this point."


"We should keep moving." Jared said. "Won't be long before the search in Sarnic spreads here."

Elise's blush deepened for a few seconds before it receded. She took the jacket and returned it to the bag. She tried to arrange her things a little better at the bottom, but it was cumbersome and she practically had to crawl in if she wanted to reach the smaller things. She let it be, considering the bag would only be placed back in the case soon enough anyway.


She stood and brushed herself off, making sure the hem of her dress wasn't caught up. She frowned slightly as she glimpsed the edge of an ugly purple bruise before her dress fell over it. At least nothing had made it worse and it might have a chance to heal.


Elise followed Jared's progress with her eyes as he prepared for them to leave. She might have asked where they were going, but it didn't much help her to know. She got the feeling, though, that walking into stores and getting the things they needed wouldn't get any easier. They had to know who to look for by now.


"Do you think they're going to tell the public ... about me?" she asked. It was one thing for the civilians to be told to watch out for one of their own. It probably wasn't the first time. But, if they were all told that they would also see a tiny alien ... they might be more watchful.

Jared paused, his bag slung on his back. He exchanged a brief look with Kaye before shaking his head at Elise.


"I don't think so. They wouldn't want to cause hysteria about an alien invasion." His eyes warmed at her, fondness leaking out without his permission. "Even a small one."


Kaye hustled about, shoving things into her big leather duffle bag, stowing the black box containing Elise's space ship carefully amongst softer items. She yearned to change clothes, but after her experience with the lizard earlier, she opted for holding out for some sort of cleaner space to undress in. She pulled her long hair back in a high ponytail and stood up, stooping so she didn't hit her head on the low ceiling. She stood there, unsure whether to offer Elise a hand... The whole holding tiny people thing still unsettled her. Jared on the other hand, had appeared to evolve into a pro.


"Hand or shoulder?" He asked, kneeling before Elise patiently.

Elise smiled back, comforted by his assurances. The way he'd looked at her also made her heart flutter a little. She remained rooted to the spot as the final packing was done, leaving no ambiguity about where she was. The last thing Elise wanted was to be swept up by mistake. She was silently amazed that, despite the vastness of the ceiling, Jared and Kaye still had to lean over to avoid bumping their heads.


Just as Jared had become used to carrying her, Elise was quite used to being offered a hand. As she stepped onto Jared's palm, she glanced up at him, smiling softly. "I'd probably better take your shoulder. Don't want to tire your arm out for nothing," she replied. It was a little remarkable how commonplace it had become for her to hoist herself up onto a giant's shoulder, her hand finding his collar without even looking.


As they set out, Elise looked around. Without the gloomy air of nightfall, the area looked far less melancholy. Even with the discouraging fact that no help was coming, Elise couldn't help but feel a little hopeful. After all, they had somehow managed to get this far. Maybe Ambron wasn't as close on their heels as she'd feared.

The earth began to tremor lightly and she could hear the sound of panting. With immediacy and hope in her eyes, Kanna set her book down and stood to her feet, eyes finding three immense sillouettes bounding through the woods.

"Did we lose them?" Jude's added were bookended by labored breathing. His head was spinning, and if it weren't for Adrian's support, he might have fallen over by this point.

Desmond took a long sweep of the woods behind them. "We're clear. That shortcut threw them off back there." 


An exhausted smile flickered on Jude's face at the sight of the camp, rounding the corner of the cliff. 

It was home for them now. Welcoming, safe. 


"We gotta get you to the first aid tent."

"I can't." Jude sank down Inbetween a storage cart and the pen of ponies and livestock, leaning against the rock face and closing his eyes. "This is fine."


Most people were asleep at dawn, but a few poked their head out of their tents, curious men and woman coming out to see what the ruckus was about , then staying when they saw Jude had returned. 

"Wake Doctor Meernan!" Adrian ordered the closest bystander.

Idina was the first to emerge in her nightware with a knit shaw draped over her shoulder. One look at Jude and she was barking out orders to wake the doctor immediately. 


Kanna dashed out across the dirt for the three giant men, Devon and Cora hot on her tail.

"Adrian! Jude!"


Penelope had already set to work soothing Jude in whatever way she could-- kissing his course fingertip, nuzzling him, holding his finger.

"It's not as bad as it looks." Jude, in turn, comforted Penelope by accepting her affections like the angel kisses they were to him and assuring her that he wasn't in as much pain as he was. He raised her higher and kissed her cheek long and tender. "I feel better already; you're my good luck charm, remember?" 

He raised his head to see the three humans approaching, smiled at the familiar faces. Still clutching his shoulder tightly, Adrian slowly lowere himself to a sitting position. 

"Toldja we'd make it." His smug expression came out as more of a grimace.

Kanna halted abruptly, a stern look on her features

"You're hurt."

She said almost as if he were in trouble but with far more concern outweighing that.

Adrian lifted his hand and peered under at the sound. He quickly clasped it back with additional pressure at the amount of blood that seeped out. 

"It just grazed me." He said, unconcerned. "You don't exactly look like a how her of roses either. Did you get a wink of sleep?" 

Now that it was over, he realized he himself hadn't slept all night. He was exhausted. 

"Sit and stay still until the doctor comes. You are bleeding and clearly exhausted."

Kanna scolded, hands on her hips and relieved tear blurring her vision but not shedding. 

"And before you try, don't you argue with me."

Adrian opened his mouth to do just that, but promptly shut it again. Still, the most her snip lines got out of him was a knowing, fond smile. 

She had been worried about him. He liked that.


Penelope turned her face to kiss Jude's lips again and again and again. Surely, had he been her size presently, she would had pulled him in for some very deep kisses that would have sapped all oxygen from both their lungs.

Jude kissed her hand with a passion he didnt think he had the strength for. His kisses were almost desperate in their frequency. 

"I never stopped thinking about you." 

Penelope smiled against Jude's endless kisses, pausing to wipe at her eyes a bit.

"You're always on my mind."

She whispered back and spread her arms, pressing herself against Jude's face. Her hand lowered to her middled. 

"Both of us wanted you back..."

Jude felt a distinct squirming from within the womb at the sound of his voice. He found it incredible that the unborn child could recognize his voice, or even miss hearing it for a period of time. 

"It's okay, Gabriel." He soothed. "Daddy's here. We're safe... All of us."


The doctor rushed out in his dressing gown, pulling the sash through his bathrobe as he went. 


From his viewpoint on the ground, he sccaned the three giants and made a general decision.

"Get me disinfectant, cotton swabs, the big rolls of gauze, and twenty yards of stitches." He barked to his nurse before strutting up to Jude. 

"Mr. -Akil. It's good to have you back."

"Thank you." Jude smiled at him. 

"If miss Farthing doesn't mind, I'd like to take a look at those wounds of yours." He turned to Adrian. "My assistant will be tidying up your injury before I stitch it up."

"My God, you've gotten yourself shot." Devon drawled, brow lifted and arms crossed from beside Kanna who's eyes had not left the giant yet. "And how am I not surprised, hm?"

"He's hurt, you insensitive cad." Kanna sent him a look that promptly shut Devon up completely.


Penelope gave Jude's thumb a quick kiss and once lowered to the ground, she stepped off.

"I'll be right here until you've gotten patched up, Jude."

She encircled her middle and joined Devon and Kanna.

"Oh, and Emmet? You're one talented guy."

She called out to wherever the boy was stowed. Noticing Pen's lowered energy levels, Devon helped her to take a seat on a crate of milk bottles.

Emmet had been in the middle of animatedly recounting his adventure to Desmond, but stopped to smile down at Pen. 

"You're not so bad yourself, lady." His cheeks were rosy with relief and excitement of success. 


"I'm honestly a bit jealous of those skills of yours." Penelope chuckled and gave Emmet a fiesty grin. “You mind showing me some of those tricks of yours some time?"

Emmet half-climbed, half slid down Desmond's bicep to rest in the crook of his elbow with his legs kicking over his forearm. 

"Maybe." He flushed with pride. "After ya get that baby out of you. You said it has been like four months now right? Gabriel's sure takin' his sweet time, isn't he?"

Penelope glanced down at her stomach.

"He's gonna be in there a little while yet. My old cook Elise always said that babies come when they are ready." She beckoned him over. "Come say hello."

Desmond set him on the ground before her. Emmet tentatively outstretched his hands towards her middle, uncertain what to expect. Would it be squishy? Rock hard like a shield from armor?

Pen let the boy feel her middle. A few kicks replied.

"Hey, baby."

She rubbed her middle

"This is Emmet. He's a pretty cool kid, y'know."

Emmet gasped and looked in bewilderment, then wonderment at Penelope before pressing his ear straight to her belly. 

"Heya kiddo."

Pen smiled with the fond pride of a mother and let the boy listen, periodicaly pausing to steal a glance at Jude. She'd always loved kids.

Jude had been stripped of his jacket last night, but Ade had three layers to peel off so that the assistant could clean his gunshot. The hand Adrian lowered his to ground was drenched in his own blood, but he promptly offered the clean hand to the nurse. He wanted to watch her but she told him to please look straight ahead and hold still. . The young woman did a valiant job of mopping up the blood, especially considering she was working atop a living, breathing mountain of a man. 

"Are you scared of blood?" Adrian asked.

"Hardly. Please stop looking! It moves your shoulder, you know."

"Sorry."


As Adrian fidgeted, Kanna gave him a look of warning that told him to stay still. In spite of how tired she was, she could look damn fierce, even in the dark blue under kimono she wore to bed. 


Jude gritted his teeth as the doctor applied a sanitizing solution to the scrape on his head. Dr.Meernan also told him to chew a pinch of bitter herbs for two minutes, then swallow. 

"They didn't do you any favors, that's for sure.." He sighed as he tied off the stitches above Jude's eye. 

The bitterness of the herbs lingered, unfortunately.

Watching Penelope interact like the natural mother she was brought a tired smile to his face in spite of the endless aches. Emmet jumped when the baby kicked again. 

"He's usually not that active till when we're trying to sleep." Jude laughed fondly. "Must like you, Em."

The soft brush of wind through the trees sent russet curls into motion and spurred Penelope to pull her jacket closer. As Emmet embraced his curiousity, she took note of Adrian's vanished presence along with Kannas'. Something had happened. Pen smiled and glanced back towards the boy

"Gabe's a smart kid." She chuckled. "And a future martial artist.

The cold air felt miraculous and momentarily relieved the sting of the gash on his head. The doctor was examining a cut on Desmond's leg. 

Gabe quieted down and Emmet soon grew bored. 

"Huh. I could teach him a thing or two about kicking, once he's old enough." He took a few steps back to accommodate Jude, who was laying out a hand for his fiancé with a tired smile. 

"I need to lie down." He explained. It went without saying that he needed Penelope by his side.

"He's gonna need a big brother to show him the ropes."

Pen gave Emmet a pat on the shoulder then hoisted herself up onto Jude's palm.

"Now you should go take care of your big bro, Em. I've gotta get to bed."

She yawned and stretched.


Adrian's lips stretched into a smile whenever he managed to catch Kanna’s eye, similar to that of a young boy who couldn't wait to play. But... He was tired, and the pain was a dampener. He clenched his jaw and looked away, refusing to show pain in front of Kanna as the doctor stitched him up. 

"You're all set." The doctor alerted the giant to let him down. "You need to lie down and rest the remainder if the day- although I would prefer a full recovery period of two months." 

Adrian gave him a look that said the two months simply was not happening. Lying down sounded blissful though...

With the doctor finished, it was the school teacher's turn to get Adrian moving and off to bed. She too was admittedly very tired but she refused to sleep until she knew he'd laid down as well.

"Well? Come on then. You heard what the doctor ordered." She demanded, cheeks warm.

Adrian got to his feet, grinning over his shoulder  way down at Kanna. 

"Try to keep up, sweetheart."

As Devon had skulked off to bed again a few moments prior, Kanna was left alone to let out an indignant huff and run after Adrian with annoyance cast clear across her features

"You slow down this instant, Adrian Kaufner. And keep your voice down." She hissed as quietly as she could manage, huffing for air. "The little ones are sleeping."

Adrkan laughed under his breath. Without warning, his great steps stopped short. He pivoted and gathered Kanna into his hands in a whirlwind of movement.

"Slowpoke."

Kanna foresaw little to no change in the giant’s playful demeanor any time soon. She narrowed her eyes, unimpressed, at Adrian.

"Considering I am a fraction of your size and it requires running to keep up with you? No, I am not a slowpoke. You're cheating.

"Mm... I think you could have tried a little harder." Ade's smirk softened at Kanna's stern expression. He found it interesting that she had either not noticed or didn't care that he was carrying her into bed with him. He set her down on the floor and eased himself onto his mat with a groan.

Jude inhaled the fresh dawn air. The birds chirping had never sounded more beautiful. Those who had witnessed his return looked uplifted themselves. 

He was hope for them now. If he made it out alive, they had a chance at winning this war. 


He needed to rest... But he had to tell everyone about the poison. What was they were planning. 

His sleeping spot was the same as he's left it: half-made with the pillow turned diagonally. 

Adrian nodded at him when he entered the tent, and started to get up to help him, but Jude waved him off. Still, he was a bit shaky in certain positions and he could move too fast of his head would start spinning. 

they were warm under the covers together again, and Jude couldve sworn he was in heaven. 

"I love you." He said in an emotionally-thick voice. "More than anything."

"Mmn...I love you too."

Pen grinned up at Jude and scootched closer to cling to his nose.

"In far too many ways to count."

She felt super tired at present and with her fiance close by, she figured she'd be out like a light pretty quickly.

Jude felt exhaustion from the painful nights in prison sinking in fast.

"Pen..." He nuzzled her. "There's something.. I have to tell you..."

Penelope kept her drooping eyes fixed upon Jude's, looking rather like a sleepy kitten than a mother to be.

"Hm?"

"Pen. There's ...there..." 

Jude was asleep before he finished his statement.

A silent but none the less fond smile crossed the cleric mother's lips and she leaned forward to kiss the bridge of his nose before settling in some more to join Jude in the throes of sleep.

In sleep, Jude somehow found Penelope's diminutive body near his and latched a hand over her. Even unconscious, it appeared he was bound and determined not to be separated from her.

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Obsess-Confess
Little Miss Maggie
Artist | Student | Varied
United States
:iconrequestsopen: :icontradesopen:
Finally uploaded a pic of myself!
I'm a college student, majoring in character animation. My dream is to work at Pixar Animation Studios.
I love to draw people. The human body is a master piece in and of itself. I don't have a lot of my serious art on this account, but that might change.
I gravitate towards romantic subjects, or very emotional things. I like feeling something when I create. In a weird way, the mood of the piece possesses me while I make it.
I love art, writing, and discovering new ideas. I'm always up for a GT roleplay, or doing sketch trades.
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:iconemeryaxiom:
emeryaxiom Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for faving! :hug:
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:iconobsess-confess:
Obsess-Confess Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Student General Artist
Thank for making it! ;) 
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:iconlennygrosskopf:
LennyGrosskopf Featured By Owner Edited Mar 22, 2015  Student Digital Artist
thanks for the many favs and the watch :heart: :heart: :heart:
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:iconobsess-confess:
Obsess-Confess Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2015  Student General Artist
thanks for being awesome :)
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:iconlennygrosskopf:
LennyGrosskopf Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2015  Student Digital Artist
ohhhhhh yoooooouuuuuuuu Llama Emoji-02 (Blush) [V1] :hug: :hug:
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:iconobsess-confess:
Obsess-Confess Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Student General Artist
^_^
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:iconphoenixgirl500:
Phoenixgirl500 Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2015
The big thimble in your profile pic though!.... I want one @_@
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:iconobsess-confess:
Obsess-Confess Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2015  Student General Artist
THANKS! I visited Tinkerbell's room in Magic Kingdom ^_^
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:iconphoenixgirl500:
Phoenixgirl500 Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2015
No problem! Oh, cool! That place would SURELY make you feel tiny ^^
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:iconobsess-confess:
Obsess-Confess Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2015  Student General Artist
Yeah! I love it! They did a stupendous job with decor. 
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