Arms wrapped around his dad, Galen’s waist. Luca wobbled out of the church and down what looked like the main street of a bustling town. Turns out walking after just hatching is extremely difficult, not only were the muscles lethargic from lack of use, the long tail that seemed to have a mind of its own kept throwing Luca of balance. But to the shell-shocked Luca, these were still minor details.
‘I can’t remember my name! Did I, maybe, really die?’ Luca rummaged through his memories, not that there was too much variety. From the age of four he was diagnosed with severe, muscular dystrophy, he quickly deteriorated until at the age of nineteen he could only rely on mechanical support to keep breathing.
‘With my condition I was practically just waiting to die so it’s not surprising,’ Glancing at the overly large cloth shoes gifted by the priests, feeling the protective arm wrapped round his shoulder helping him stand, the last of his doubt shattered.
‘I died…and reincarnated? That must be it I mean they kept saying I was just born, no wait hatched…from a flower?!’ Luca stumbled as that shocking truth did back flips in his skull.
“Luca careful, just go slowly,” Galen’s feathers wilted slightly “I’m sorry I can’t carry you,”
“Don’t worry dad I’m fine,” still mulling over his current predicament Luca barely heard his new dads’ words. As he turned his face towards his dad that comforting scent calmed him.
‘I suppose this is a good thing, my family can finally stop paying my hospital bills. Besides I was so bad in those last years they were basically already in mourning. I’m also much better off. I mean let alone walking, how long has it been since I could breathe freely?’ That cheery thought swept away the last of his unease as Luca decided to thoroughly enjoy his new life.
Curious about this strange new world Luca scanned the street they were on. The pair hadn’t gotten far. With Luca having to awkwardly hang onto his dad, speed wasn’t an option. They were currently hobbling down a street with market stalls on either side. The odd thing about these stalls was they all seemed to still have leaves attached to them. Luca scrutinised one of these stalls as they shuffled past. The stall seemed to almost grow from the ground, staring at the top right corner of the stall Luca squinted at a small yellow bud ‘is that a flower?’
“Are you hungry?” Luca’s ears twitched startled at his dad’s question, he realised a tantalising scent was wafting off the stall he was staring at. “No not really,” Lucas denial was interrupted by his rumbling stomach. Luca hung his blushing head and watched as his independent fluffy, white tail wrapped itself round his legs.
“Pfft,” the stall owner cackled at Lucas embarrassment, Galen bought them some food from the stall that looked like an oddly shaped plant. Luca’s dad smiled at him as he handed him a soft round bun. “Don’t burn yourself, the fillings hot.”
“Filling?” one hand still holding onto his dad for support Luca tilted his head to the side wide eyed with curiosity. Galen looked like he’d just been struck over the head “Luca baby you’re so cute!”
Suddenly squeezed by an enthusiastic parent Luca struggled not to drop his newly acquired meal ‘Eh I’m cute? Well I suppose all parents think that, wait what do I look like?’ glancing at his misbehaving tail than observing Galen’s feathery head and tailless backside Luca suddenly really wanted a mirror.
Calming down Galen made a suggestion “why don’t’ we sit over there to eat.” Lucas ears perked up seeing the fountain and surrounding seats. At least he assumed that’s what it was, not just some water spitting flower with handily grown roots in the form of seats. Trying to ignore his unhelpfully swaying tail Luca let his dad guide him over to the flower fountain. Well at least waters reflective right?
Turns out when water is crystal clear, it’s not reflective at all. Lucas tail and ears wilted as he dejectedly munched on his meat stuffed bun.
“What’s wrong, you don’t like it?” his dads question seemed to come out of nowhere. Tilting his head his ears raised questioningly. “Does it taste bad?”
‘Oh that’s what he meant,’ Luca wondered how to answer that, his tail didn’t seem to want to cooperate so lying wasn’t an option, “No the foods good, I just, I mean, I’m a little confused,”
“Ask me anything you want sweetie,” these words seem to unlock a hidden path for Luca and his eye’s brightened with a twinkle of mischief. ‘Of course, why didn’t I think of it sooner? That ultimate ability that all small children have,’ excitement shivered down Lucas spine to his twitchy tail, ‘asking why!’
Delighted with his new found power, Luca prepared to unleash a barrage of questions. First on his list “Why do I have a tail when you don’t?” That’s right tail I’m onto you, don’t try an act innocent.
Luca’s blameless tail “…?”
Lucas dad’s eyes smiled “Because your anima takes after your father, except yours is much prettier,”
Ignoring the last part Luca was stuck on something else, “…? Aren’t you my father?”
“Yes dear and so is Donovan,” Galen’s answer only confused Luca more but an unsettled feeling began to tickle the back of his mind. His eyes wandering over the busy street Luca began to have suspicions. His eye’s darting around Luca felt he might have his answer as shocking as it seemed, ‘I haven’t seen any women!’
This revelation made Luca free fall into the memories from his later years in hospital. Wracked with pain and barely able to move, there wasn’t much he could do to distract himself. So his family would help by talking and reading to him. His sister took this to another level. When left alone with her defenceless brother. She decided the best distraction came in the form of her favourite genre BL web novels.
Luca still wasn’t sure if she had actually been trying to help or just enjoyed tormenting her baby brother. Not that he minded, recalling how she smiled mischievously at his embarrassed squirming. He’d much preferred her torment over the other uncomfortable or grieving relatives. She’d always made him feel more like a person instead of a financial burden, or just a terminally ill patient. He remembered there were a few stories with a setting about beastmen and sub-beastmen which didn’t actually have women but the sub-beastmen who had the appearance of men could give birth.
‘Jess would be running around screaming in delight if she knew where I was’ Luca thought with reluctant amusement. ‘Time to take a page from my sister’s book and make someone else uncomfortable for a change. Besides I really do need to know if I’m in that kind of world,’
Repressing his teasing smile Luca tilted his head up and put on his best innocently curious face, “Dad where do babies come from?”
Galen’s feathers fluttered slightly as he smiled “They hatch from eggs you don’t remember?”
Luca pouted, ‘you’re not getting of that easy pal I still need to confirm,’
“But where do eggs come from?”
Galen’s mouth twitched and he looked away from his adorably innocent son “Well, when a sub-beastman and beastman love each other very much, um well…”
Luca stopped listening to the rest of Galen’s nonsense explanation. He really said it! I’m actually in that kind of world! Luca dazedly stared at his half-eaten bun.
“…and then those spirits help the egg hatch,” Galen wound up his child safe explanation, feeling pleased with himself he nervously peeked at his son hoping he was satisfied. However, Luca wasn’t quite done yet. His insides squirming with nerves, and other emotions he couldn’t quite recognise, Luca raised his head with a very serious expression
“Am I a beastman or a sub-beastman?” resisting the urge to poke his sons’ adorable cheeks Galen smiled helplessly “we won’t know until the test at the end of the year.”
‘Don’t know! What do you mean you don’t know this is important!’ Luca’s ears and tail drooped miserably.
Galen gently patted his sons head “Don’t be sad the test is only a couple months away. Finish your food, we need to get home before it gets dark.”
Luca dutifully finished the rest of his bun. Still worried over his apparently unknown gender Luca watched wide eyed as Galen plucked a small, unoffending, concave leaf of the side of the flower fountain and scooped up some water.
“Have some of this,” Luca stiffly took the leaf that was shaped like a small measuring cup and hesitantly sipped from the tip that acted like a funnel. “It’s sweet,” Luca looked at his dad with sparkling eyes, then quickly downed the rest. His dad stroked his head “Yep, remember to drink regularly when it’s hot.” Galen plucked the now empty leaf from his sons’ hand and tossed it under the fountain.
He just threw it away isn’t that a waste? “Um is that ok? We don’t need to keep it? Won’t it run out if everyone does that?” His dad’s soft chuckle made his tail curl in embarrassment. “Don’t worry, the fountain flower will reabsorb the cup and grow a new one overnight.”
“Come on time to go home now,” Luca took his dads outstretched hand and stood up. Luca paused and observed himself on his own two feet, alone. He stared wide eyed at his gently smiling dad “I can stand!”
Galen’s smile warmed his eyes “Yes my babies strong and healthy,” his voice trembled slightly as moisture gathered at the corner of his eyes. ‘Our beautiful babies really alive I can’t wait to tell Donovan.’ Gently holding the hand of the miracle child Methorma had granted them, he took his beautiful baby home.