The Tat swam back to him and had a look. “It’s an old coin,” Aubrey said, dipping it into the water so it would be easier for him to see. “See that pattern in the middle? Isn’t it neat?”
Yeo-reum looked at it for a moment, then moved in to inspect it with his whiskers. Aubrey had half thought that Yeo-reum was going to try eating it, so he was relieved to see that wasn’t the case. But then, eating things he wasn’t supposed to wasn’t a bad habit that Yeo-reum generally had, probably because of the particular nature of Tat-lung diets. Things that weren’t gems were just not appetizing, Aubrey supposed.
This happened a few more times, with Aubrey calling to Yeo-reum to point out a passing boat, a particularly nice bit of beach glass, an empty crab shell that was still intact, which was an unusual sight indeed considering this was a freshwater lake.
After hearing it said so many times, Yeo-reum began responding faster to the sound of his name. Probably he had already realized that it meant ‘him’, or something like it. He was clever enough, and Aubrey was always using the same word.
Another boat passed by, this one much closer to them than the last one had been. Aubrey had just enough time to see Yeo-reum rushing off towards it, and to yell, “Yeo-reum, no! Come back!”
He didn’t know if Yeo-reum would listen. It was kind of a surprise to see Yeo-reum stop, just because it had never worked before. But this time, not only did he stop, he turned around much faster than he had done with the Pliathor, and made his way back to Aubrey, albeit with a curious look that demanded answers.
Aubrey sighed again in relief. “Thank you for listening,” he said, because in the end, it was a choice that Yeo-reum had made.
That was a kind of trust too, if you thought about it. And on the merit of that trust, he had to answer the unspoken question of why he had said 'no'.
“The reason I called you back… Boats are fun to watch, but some of them have propellers that can cut you up if you get too close to the wrong part of them. They make some pretty strong waves too, so you might get swept away if you’re not careful. I don’t know how to swim, so I couldn’t help you if you got in trouble…”
Aubrey didn’t know Yeo-reum well enough yet to tell from the Tat’s countenance what he thought of this explanation, but at least he didn’t seem cross. It looked like he was simply accepting it and moving on, content to find something else to occupy himself with.
And it was really such a small thing, but… it felt like a win. Suddenly, the idea of building an understanding with him didn’t seem so unfathomable anymore.
Trips out to the docks became more of a frequent thing after that first trip, since it had gone relatively well, and Yeo-reum seemed to enjoy it so much. And by and large, Yeo-reum was well behaved when they did go; the space and freedom and exploration helped curb his boredom considerably. As such, Aubrey came home to water splashed outside his tank much less often, and the Tat's mischief, while not wholly abated, tended to stick to a level that didn't stress Aubrey out too much.
The time they spent here was mostly an opportunity for Aubrey to relax while Yeo-reum played around and got the energy out of his system, but occasionally Aubrey worked with him too. Today, on a whim, Aubrey stepped into the water. He didn't do it very often, as it was true that he didn't know how to swim, but hopefully he wouldn't have to for this.
The water sure was cold though. Aubrey shivered as his feet made contact with it. Yeo-reum swam up to him immediately, having watched him make his way to the water's edge, and clearly eager to play or see what was going to happen. He had worked out for himself that Aubrey wasn't very comfortable in the water, and while he did seem to like Aubrey, more or less, the sympathy that this inspired only went so far.
Maybe he was trying to help, in his own way. It was just that Yeo-reum's idea of helping was to splash water on Aubrey when he had let his guard down.
Aubrey sputtered, then looked down at the fish in front of him. "You know that wasn't very nice, don't you?" he said. But he hardly needed to ask the question, as he already knew the answer. Yeo-reum swam a giddy, completely guilt free circle around him.
"Well, alright. Since you're in such a good mood, maybe this will be easier," Aubrey said. He waded in a little further, then held out his hand. Yeo-reum stopped his impression of a whizzing cannonball, and came forward to inspect it. There was nothing in it. But the motion itself was a little odd.
Once he had drawn close, Aubrey moved his hand slowly through the water. Fortunately for him, Yeo-reum held still for this, and Aubrey was able to brush his hand gently along Yeo-reum's side. "That's right, this isn't so bad, is it? I'm not going to hurt you," Aubrey said.
It went well right up until the point where Yeo-reum's body shuddered, and he swam quickly away again. Aubrey straightened, a little surprised, and was just beginning to wonder whether he had hurt the Tat somehow when Yeo-reum returned. He swam back and forth to one side of Aubrey, then splashed some water at his hand.
"You want to do it again?" Aubrey said, a little baffled, but sure enough, when he stuck his hand in the water, Yeo-reum came right up. It seemed like he hadn't disliked the sensation after all.
"Hey," said Aubrey, running his hand down Yeo-reum's opposite side. "You aren't ticklish, are you? Is that what this is?" The scaly skin under his hand shivered, then pressed itself into his palm again. “There, that’s fine, isn’t it? Nice and easy,” Aubrey said.
Under his ministrations, or maybe just thanks to the passage of time, Yeo-reum eventually calmed, and his squirming began to be less from the sensation and more from impatience. When he seemed as though he wanted to leave, Aubrey let him go, and watched as Yeo-reum swam here and there, back and forth, wholly at ease in the water. Well, he would be, Aubrey supposed; he was a fish at the moment.
It reassured Aubrey, however, when Yeo-reum would eventually come wandering back. And then Aubrey would extend his hands out, a sort of invitation. Sometimes Yeo-reum acquiesced, and sometimes he swam away again.
At one point, while Aubrey began handling Yeo-reum’s fins, he explained. “It’s good that you’re not scared of hands. You aren’t are you?” There was a pause, as though he were awaiting a response, though he wasn’t likely to get one. “Someday you might get sick or injured, you know. Then I might have to hold you, or lift a fin, like this.” Aubrey did just as he said, gently lifting one of Yeo-reum’s fins. “I promise I don’t want to hurt you, and I’m sorry if I ever do. But you understand, don’t you?”
Yeo-reum squirted a mouthful of water in his face. But not with very much force, and it fell a little short, so that it only wet the front of his shirt.
Aubrey, who had been sprayed full in the face before and knew that Yeo-reum was well capable of it, took this as a sign that Yeo-reum was at least making an attempt on this occasion to play nice. It was the thought that counted, right? Something like that.
“Okay, that’s enough of that,” he said. “Off you go, then. I’ve got to get out of the water.” It was cold, and he was really starting to feel it. Besides, it felt as though he had gotten the idea across, and Yeo-reum had gotten over his initial ticklishness, or whatever it was that had taken over at the beginning.
That visit to the docks ended not long after, but Aubrey kept trying on subsequent visits, just to be sure. He felt that there was some sense in teaching Yeo-reum about this now, when he was still of a manageable size and temperament.
Yeo-reum, for his part, bore it with as much good grace as he had in him, which was to say that he squirmed often and wasn’t always patient with it. But he never protested the touch, and when Aubrey insisted, he would come around sooner or later. Aubrey had the sense that he came to view it somewhat like a chore--- nothing he enjoyed, but something Aubrey thought was necessary, and therefore inevitable. But if it was a chore, it was one that he would still perform, even if he needed a bit of coaxing sometimes.
At least, he didn’t seem scared or upset by the idea of touch. And that was good enough for Aubrey. Perhaps he ought to have been more demanding, but he had never quite had it in him, and in the end, it just didn't feel right to demand anything from a creature with as much personhood as a Tat-lung.
Jack: Thanks for the notice!
May 28, 2020 10:05:26 GMT -6
Darky: Heads up: there's a chance you might notice Trepuldra images having loading issues on June 3rd, for about 3h. No need to panic, Veebimajutus just notified there's going to be some scheduled maintenance, is all x3
May 28, 2020 10:05:06 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: right??? i was really hoping i could find one of those pachee before the season was out.
May 26, 2020 18:51:32 GMT -6
Fanged: Oh wow that's an awesome garden find FF
May 26, 2020 18:13:26 GMT -6
Riku: Oh how perfect! I woke up wanting to post (unexpected, but yay) and saw I had a reply. <3 Meant to be.
May 26, 2020 6:40:43 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: I really, really love all the updates that have come~! <3
May 24, 2020 2:12:37 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: np!!! I hope y'all like it!
May 23, 2020 13:45:06 GMT -6
Riku: What an awesome update, staff! Thanks for that! <3
May 23, 2020 12:06:52 GMT -6
Jack: All have been found!
May 23, 2020 9:53:27 GMT -6
Jack: Might want to be on the lookout for anything... odd
May 22, 2020 23:51:22 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: Yeah it’s definitely a coincidence but wow did it work out well for us! XD
May 22, 2020 6:43:27 GMT -6
Silver: I'm pretty sure that was just a coincidence, but it sure feels lucky!
May 22, 2020 2:07:09 GMT -6
Riku: So did you guys make this hosting switch perfectly RIGHT before pb broke? >.< Thaz crazy. It’s a huge relief and I’m very glad we’ve come to this. <3
May 22, 2020 1:41:01 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: It’s free up to a certain number of GB, which we haven’t hit yet.
May 21, 2020 6:46:33 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Is the site that is going to be used to host all those images also the type you'd need to pay for? (definitely noticed the broken images yeah. Photobucket feels like it is standing on its last legs. X3 )
May 21, 2020 0:13:57 GMT -6
Morgan: I'm just kinda nervous about them going down before things get moved over completely. It's prolly nothing to be worried about though. :3
May 20, 2020 22:13:15 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: Thank goodness we're moving out of there? XD
May 20, 2020 21:59:22 GMT -6
Renathan: Ugh, photobucket has the images broke again. x3
May 20, 2020 21:18:53 GMT -6