One day, upon a hill, sat an inconspicuous mansion. The exterior is covered in vines as if Nature intended to claim it in its efforts against civilization. Unbeknownst to those living from afar, this mansion is the home to gods that have fallen from the heavens. And while the outside looks rather creepy to the passer by (should there be any), the interior is quite the opposite. The opulence is what one should expect when visiting the home of fallen gods.
Today was no different from any other day. Altair and Vega were chasing after their lords in an effort to get them to finish their reports.
"Lord Teorus, please! These reports need to be filed by the end of the day!"
"Lord Ichthys, please don't walk so fast! I have these reports that need to be done by the end of the week..."
Dui was coming down the main stairs along side Huedhaut and witnessed the whole thing. They both sighed and shook their heads as they made their way to the living room. They needed tea after a long morning of having to listen to their respective department leaders go on and on about the usual subjects they always do. When they got home, they made a quick escape using reports as an excuse.
Scorpio was in his room getting cleaned up. He hated being here. Being on Earth made him feel just a smidgen closer to his former human life and wanted to scrub his body raw to rid that feeling.
Leon had just gotten to his room and had yet to settle in when the ruckus from downstairs made it's way up.
"B-b-but, Lord Teorus!"
"Vega, have I told you how you're as lovely as a springtime bloom?" Teorus said this with his most sparkling of smiles.
"Your charms have yet to work on me, Teorus, so what makes you think they'll work now?"
He shrugged and shook his head. " It was worth a try, wasn't it?"
"Well, it was wasted," Vega said matter-of-factly as she handed over a small stack of files. "Pleeeeeease get these done as soon as possible so I can send them along with the rest?"
Leon had stuck his head out during this altercation (if you can call it that) and leaned his back against the door frame to watch how it went. He watched as Teorus sighed and shook his head at the papers he was handed and Vega walked away victorious. "You know you'll never win with that one, right?"
Teorus clutched the papers to his chest, freeing one hand to scratch the back of his head. "Heh... What can I say," he responded with a tilt of his head and went off to find his room. Again.
Leon sighed and went back into his own room.
At some point, Altair lost track of Ichthys and looked like he was going to cry. The huge stack of papers weren't going to file themselves and he certainly wasn't going to do it. "Maybe i should've asked Vega to help me with him," he pondered out loud. But his thoughts were interrupted by the sound of sobbing coming from outside the house. Curious, the little assistant placed the files on a nearby table and opened the front door to find a little girl sitting on their front steps crying. Not sure what to do, Altair stepped out and greeted her. 'H-hello there."
Startled, the girl turned and blinked at the strangely dressed boy. Wiping her eyes on her sleeve, she replied between sobs. "He-he-hello..."
"Are you lost?" Altair came up to the girl and sat next to her. Digging into his pockets, he found a handkerchief and gave it to the little girl. "Do you know where your parents are?"
The little girl shook her head as she took the handkerchief and rubbed her face red. Her pig tails swung as she did this.
Altair noticed she was wearing a jumper and tee shirt but one of her shoes was missing and she had no jacket. It was still early for Summer so she must have been cold, tired and hungry. Standing up, he held out a hand to the little girl. "Come on. You must be hungry and cold." The girl nodded but was hesitant to take his hand. "It's okay. No one here will hurt you, I promise!" He beamed a bright smile at her which made her smile and finally let him take her inside.
When the girl looked inside, her jaw dropped in wonder. "Wooooooooow... you live here?" She looked around in wonder of all the glitz and glam that was merely the main foyer to the house. For the moment, she had forgotten all about being lost.
"Sorta," Altair replied. "My lords actually live here and I'm their assistant..."
Ichthys chuckled to himself, feeling quite proud that he gave Altair the slip. That feeling didn't last long when he was spotted crossing the main stairs by the pint sized assistant and a little girl. "Oh drat," he said when he stopped and turned to face them, hands on hips. "You caught me." Realizing he didn't recognize the little girl, he knelt down to her level and said, "And who is this, huh? Didn't we tell you not to bring in strays?"
Seeing the little girl's eyes begin to water at what the tall man said, Altair came to her defense. "I'm sorry, Lord Ichthys, but she just showed up and she's lost and cold and hungry. Can't she stay until we find her parents?"
The little girl was still holding the handkerchief from earlier but refused to let go of Altair's hand. She refused to look at the tall man that called her a stray. Tears were threatening to fall and her lip quivered.
Teorus, still holding a stack of files, found the small group and instantly took to the sobbing girl. "Oh, what's wrong, Goldie? Did this big meanie hurt your feelings?"
"He called me a stray," she said while hiding her face in the handkerchief.
"Really, " Teorus said as he turned to look at Ichthys with a condescending look. "That's no way to talk to a lady. Even if she is a really, really small lady."
"Who's a lady", Scorpio said as he walked down the stairs. He looked at the group, saw the little girl and scoffed. "Who let the stray in?" The little girl began to cry again and Scorpio sighed disgruntledlg.
"Scorpy! I just told Ikky off and now you, too?" Teorus had a big pout on his mouth as he knelt down and pushed ichthys over, who was still at the child's level at the time.
"Hey!" Ichthys slid down the polished floor and glared at Teorus.
By now the rest of the house heard the commotion and came to investigate what was going on. Teorus had taken the little girl's hand and smiled softly at her. "Don't worry, Goldie. That big ol' meanie over there," he points to Scorpio who was standing cross armed on the staircase, "is really a softie. He just acts mean because he doesn't know any better." A big smile beaming from his lips.
All Scorpio could do was give Teorus a glare and moved down the staircase towards the living room. Ichthys got up and dusted himself off just as Dui and Huedhaut came in from the main common area.
"What's going on," Dui asked curiously. Huedhaut's expression said the same. When they saw Teorus pick up the little girl, Dui looked to the others for an answer.
"I'm sorry, Lord Dui," Altair said, scratching the back of his head. "I heard crying and found her on our doorstep. I-I-I didn't know what else to do so I... "
Huedhaut came over to Teorus and looked at the girl. "Is there something wrong with her?"
"You know, Hue, you can be pretty dense sometimes," Teorus said with a frown. "Of course there is! She's hungry, cold and tired. Isn't that right, sweetie?" He angled his face so he could see her face and the little girl nodded meekly. "See," he said brightly, "Teo knows girls. Even tiny girls. Come, lets get you some milk and cookies." Walking towards the common area, Teorus stroked the girl's hair to calm her down and her sniffled got quieter by the minute.
Scorpio had finally settled down and was going over some paperwork in the common room when he saw the group walk in. Rubbing his face with his palm, he muttered "oh no..." under his breath and acted like he didn't see them.
Leon had joined him and took over the tea service that Dui and Huedhaut left behind. "What's going on," he asked mid way from taking a sip. "What's that you're carrying, Teo?" A brow raised in curiosity as he watched Teorus put the girl down in a chair at the table.
"Leo, this is Goldie. She found her way to our home and we're gonna help her find her parents." Teorus said this so matter-of-factly , as if everyone was unanimous in this decision. "But first, she needs some food and rest."
Leon scoffed as he proceeded to drink his tea. "And who thought that was a good idea? Letting just any stray come in..."
"You're a meanie head just like him!"
Everyone stopped what they were doing as a tiny voice came up all of a sudden. Leon blinked from above the rim of his cup and glanced over to see that the girl was the source of that complaint. He chuckled as he placed his cup onto it's saucer. "If anyone's a meanie head here, my dear, it would certainly be Scorpio."
"Hey!" Scorpio slammed a fist on the table. Clearly no work was going to get done at this rate.
Leon tilted his head and smirked as if to say "told you so".
Scorpio growled under his breath and tried to return to his work. I should have gone to the library, he thought to himself as he stared at the reports.
"So... How shall we go about looking for this girl's parents?" Dui stood with crossed arms and a pondering look on his face.
"Based on her appearance, she couldn't have gone too far but, due to her lack of shoe and outerwear, she must have gone far enough to loose those along the way." Huedhaut, ever analytical, tried to determine just where the little girl came from. Taking a seat next to her, he smiled softly and held out his hand. "May I?"
The little girl, clearly confused, thought that, perhaps, he wanted a turn at the piece of cloth that the strangely dressed nice boy had given him. Looking at it for a moment, she held the handkerchief out at the odd taller man.
"Oh, um..." Clearly not expecting this result, Huedhaut automatically took the dampened cloth between two fingers and slowly placed it on the table. Everyone looked at the handkerchief with fear and loathing.
Scorpio had had enough. Slamming his fist on the table as he stood abruptly, he was fuming. "That's it! She's soiled my presence for the last time! Get rid of that stray immediately!"
Taken by surprised, everyone was in shock and the silence held until Goldie's slow cries broke the silence. This upset Teorus greatly. "Scorpy, how could you!" Picking up the crying babe, he tried to coo her into calming down. "It's okay, Goldie," he said with pouty lips. "The big scary meanie head won't scare you anymore."
"Oh really," Scorpio growled as he clenched his hand into a fist.
But, before he could say anymore, Huedhaut placed a hand on his shoulder to hold him back. "Scorpio, nothing will come of this if you get angry over a child."
Scorpio brushed the god's hand away and walked off in a humph, his paperwork in tow. "I am not to be disturbed in my room no matter what," he yelled back at the group and stomped off to his seclusion.
"What's going on," Vega demanded as she joined the others. "I was about to go deliver some reports when I heard all the-" Her eyes landed on the tiny child clutching to Teorus's jacket. Vega's heart twinged with pain at the sight and took gentle steps towards them. "And who is this little goddess?" She made sure not to raise her voice as the situation was delicate enough.
"This is Goldie," Teorus said as he continued to stroke the little girl's back. By now she's stopped sobbing and it looked like she actually fell asleep.
"Oh look," Ichthys said as he pointed towards her mouth. "I think she's drooling on you, Mama Teo." He grinned his mischievous grin and giggled a little.
"You do sort of look like a mother," Huedhaut commented with a slick smirk on his lips.
"I whole heartedly agree," Leon said as he stood up and tilted his gaze their way, an amused look on his face. "Looks like that tiny gold fish has attached herself to you, Teo. You'll be responsible for her for as long as she's with us." He sighed as he crossed his arms in thought. "It'll only be a matter of time before Zyglavis pays us a visit so I expect the rest of you to figure out how to get her home." Leon came over and gently brushed some hair from her eyes. "Her will is strong, but she's too young to tell us what we need to know to grant her wish. Children always make it hard..." He chuckled, then shrugged and walked off. "Don't get too attached, guys. We have to send her home."
Teorus sighed and looked at the sleeping child. Whispering low that he thought no one heard, he said "Too late." He looked at her like a parent who had to give up their child for adoption.
Ichthys clearly heard this and saw his friend's expression, but said no more on the subject. Instead, he spoke up in his usual manner. "Hey, Vega. We got spare rooms right?"
"We do," she replied happily. "I can see to it one is set up for her."
"Excellent," Ichthys said as he reached out and gently took the sleeping child from Teorus. Teorus looked like he was going to cry like he really was her mother. "Oh, don't look at me like that, Mama Teo" Ichthys said with a worried face. "Daddy's just gonna see baby to bed."
Dui and Huedhaut looked at each other and shrugged as Ichthys followed Vega to find the girl a room.
You could say that curiosity got the better of the group because they walked together with Ichthys and Vega in the lead to see just where their temporary house guest was going to stay. Vega, being the only girl that ever really comes and goes in the mansion, was given the charge of creating the room fit for a girl Goldie's age. Ichthys wanted to make the room like his while the others discussed better options. But no matter how much they thought about it, no matter how old they were, they couldn't come up with any idea on what a little girl's bedroom would look like. They then began discussing whether they've even seen a little girl's room before and that just made Vega sigh deeply, wondering just how she managed to get stuck with these guys as superiors.
By the time they reacher their destination, Vega opened the large door to reveal a room fit for a princess. To one side was a large canopy bed piled high with fluffy pillows and plush comforters. There were various stuffed animals all around the place, small ones, large one, every size in between. All the interiors were varying shades of pink and purple, from the bedding to the curtains.
"My goodness," Dui said as he took in the sight before him. "This is really a girl's room."
"I'll take that as a compliment, Lord Dui," Vega said with a big smile. "I'm quite pleased myself. She should be happy while she's here." Watching Ichthys place the little girl in the bed and cover her, she noticed that Teorus hasn't cleaned his jacket. "Um, Lord Teorus? There's something on your lapel...?" She tried pointing it out, but the height different made it look like she was pointing wildly.
"Hmm?" Teorus was too distracted watching the sleeping child to notice until Vega pointed out that there was still drool on his jacket. "Oh," he laughed slightly and tried brushing it off with his hand until he realized it was sticky. "Eww." He laughed and sighed. "You poor Goldie," he murmured as he looked at her sound asleep. Ichthys had given her a teddy bear and was clutching onto it as she sucked her thumb in her sleep.
Seeing her finally settled in, Vega shooed their lordships out of the room post haste. She said if any of them woke the girl up, that she'd rat them out to Zyglavis on how they've been behind on their reports. The gods quickly vacated the bedroom and returned the main room.
Scorpio was in need of tea, but didn't want to go out of his room to get it if that tiny human was still in the house. He knew the others wouldn't put her out like he wanted so he had to wait until it felt like the coast was clear. He slowly opened his bedroom door and quietly stood there as he watched Ichthys walking with Teorus, Dui, Huedhaut and Vega leave the room next to his, Vega quietly closing the door behind them.
"No they did not," he mumbled to himself in irritation. Scorpio waited until they were out of sight before quietly opening the door that was just closed. Peering inside, he saw the girl was laid to bed right next door to his room. He sighed heavily and thought of all the horrible things he planned to do to them all.
"Now, now," a chastising voice came from behind. Leon was peering over Scorpio's shoulder to look in on the child. "Let's not be hasty to punish the others so soon after bringing home a pet. Besides," he said as he patted Scorpio on the shoulder and turned to walk away. "Look at this as a learning experience. Maybe this might help us all with our sins a little." He shrugged before returning to his room.
"Humph," Scorpio grunted as he looked at the sleeping child one more time befoee closing her bedroom door.
Now gathered in the main room, the gods (minus the department heads and their assistants) took the time to discuss what to do.
"We could check the perimeter based on her speed at which she walked here," Huedhaut suggested as he drew out a diagram to explain his plan. "It's possible that her parents are searching for her within this circle."
"But, it's dark now," Dui pointed out. "Unless they managed to get gather a search party together and carry sufficient light, I don't think they'd come here."
"That may be," Huedhaut nodded. "However, when it comes to a child, humans will go to any length to find them." He sighed and leaned back in his chair. "Still, the possibilities are too vast at this moment in time and there's no way to know for sure if they really are looking."
"And without our abilities, we can't go looking ourselves without some risk," Dui said disappointedly. He stared at the diagram Huedhaut drew and tried to think of what else could be done.
Teorus frowned with worry and rested his head in his hands, elbows propped on the table. Ichthys rubbed his back in support. "Mama is worried for baby, huh?"
"Ikky," Teorus said as he sat up and tilted his head with a sigh. "I'm not her mama..."
"You might as well be," Dui said with a soft smile. "She's really taken to you."
"I may know girls, but a child?" Teorus looked off to the side with concern.
"You are kind of a child, Teo," Ichthys said with a grin.
"Speak for yourself," Huedhaut said. "You did manage to calm the girl, Teo. You and Altair were the first friendly faces she saw." He leaned on the table and steepled his fingers in front of him. "Like any baby animal, she went towards the first safe looking persons she identified with. Granted, if she were a new born, imprinting on her would make things more difficult in returning her to her parents."
"So, what are you saying," Dui asked.
"I'm saying Teorus would be the best candidate to continue handling the child until we can get her home."
Ichthys slapped Teorus on the back with a big grin on his face. "You get to stay as a mama a lil longer, Teo!" He chuckled at the thought.
Teorus was a bit relieved. "I guess so, papa." Ichthys grinned in response.
"You two are just a sterling example of parenthood." Leon so happened to overhear everything and joined the group. He had an amused look on his face as he looked at their progress. "Hued and Dui are right. For now, we just have to keep watch over her and look for the adults that match this girl's parents and hope we can find them soon. The longer she's here, the more likely it is other humans will stumble onto this place."
"If human parents are anything like animal parents," Huedhaut interjected, "They'll stop at nothing to ensure their offspring are safe and sound."
"But, don't animals tend to give up if their offspring don't seem to survive on their own?" Dui had to bring that point up and the room got eerily silent.
Teorus sighed. "Can we not go there? Goldie is with us and we're going to get her home."
A collective nod from all as they continued to think of what to do to find Goldie's parents.
Scorpio was back in his study. Altair brought him the tea he was looking for and continued to work in solitude. The peace was finally soothing his wary body. He hated feeling weak, but it couldn't be helped given that they were on Earth. He had finished his reports and was starting a book he pulled from their library.
The silence was good...until Scorpio started to hear whimpering coming from the room next door. Muttering "I'm going to kill him" as he got up, he tossed the book on his chair and went to see what was going on. Quietly opening the door to the little girl's room, he saw her flailing under the covers like she was fighting someone or something off. His gaze shifted to the side and he heaved a heavy sigh.
Walking over to the child's bed, Scorpio could see she was twisted a bit in the sheets, but otherwise okay minus whatever it was she was dreaming about. Grumbling, he leaned over and adjusted the covers so she was free from them and went to tuck her in.
"Huh?" Something latched onto his hand. A tiny pale pink hand clutched onto his thumb with a grip one wouldn't expect to see in a child as small as Goldie. Scorpio's eyes darted about the room looking for anything that could help him with his predicament. It was late, too, so no one could be heard passing by. Failing to find a way out, Scorpio took a seat on the bed as gently as possible and let the child hold onto his thumb.
Visions of her dreams flashed in his mind. A big dog was barking at her as it chased her down the street. Must be from a memory, Scorpio thought as he continued to view her thoughts. She eventually makes it to her mother's arms, but her mother's face is unseen. She's a gentle soul from what he can tell and loves her child very much. Damn, he thought as he held onto her tiny hand. Show me some more so we can get you outta here...
He gritted his teeth as a painful nightmare flashes in his mind. A shadow appears, black and ominous, the size of a man. Goldie is scared, her tiny heart pounding furiously as she tries to hide from this shade of a character. There are no features other than the evil that Goldie fears from this man. And it is a man because Scorpio can hear her thoughts in this dream. She's cowering under the shrubs in the woods holding her mouth and nose to silence her breathing. "Please go away," she mentally chants as footsteps can he heard. Twigs snap and leaves crunch as the steps get closer and closer to her hiding place. This is more than a dream, Scorpio realizes as the details are too vivid. Unlike the scene with the dog and her mother, this had smells of the woods, the earth underneath where she crouched, the leafy smell of the shrubs she hid under, the breeze that made its way through.
The fear seeping from Goldie is palatable and Scorpio had never felt such fear from a child since he, himself, lost everything when he was once her tender age. While war doesn't happen as much as then, there are more dangerous monsters in the world of today. The footsteps seem to be going away from her. She lets her breath out in a sigh of relief, but the moment is fleeting as the shrub is ripped apart by the monster that chased her down and she's scrambling to escape. Barely making it away, Goldie is running as hard and fast as her tiny legs can take her. Her breath is ragged and she's so very tired. She's been running for a while it seems and she's about to give up when she thinks of her mom and dad and promises to find them again. That promise gave her strength, but it wasn't enough. She's scooped up by the now flying shadow and she's screaming for her life.
Scorpio was shocked back to reality when he realized that the child was actually screaming in her sleep. Automatically, he picked her up and cradled her in his arms. She clutched onto his shirt as she sobbed into his chest. Scorpio rubbed his hand along her tiny back until she began to quiet down.
"Goldie, what hap-" Teorus and Ichthys had heard the screams. The whole mansion did, in fact, which shouldn't have been possible given how big the place was. The two stopped as soon as they saw the scene before them, a smile on Teorus's lips and a smirk on Ichthys'.
"Not a word," was lowly growled as Scorpio stood up while still holding the sobbing child.
The dynamic duo made zipper motions along their lips as they quietly made their way towards the grumpy god. "What happened," Ichthys whispered as he brushed the hairs away from Goldie's teary eyes.
"I heard this one whimpering through the walls and came to see if I could shut her up," Scorpio said as he averted his eyes.
"Oh, now don't say it like that," Teorus said bashfully. "You came to see if she was okay. Just admit it. No one will care. At least you were here first." Teorus was muchly relieved after hearing that horrible sound come from such an adorable thing.
Ichthys took notice of Scorpio's mood. "What happened," he asked looking very concerned. It wasn't like Scorpio to appear with mixed emotions.
"She grabbed onto my thumb as I was trying to fix the comforter and I saw glimpses of her dreams." Scorpio adjusted his weight as he looked down at the sniffling Goldie. "I took her hand and saw something no one this small should have to experience." From his toen, it sounded as if he had sympathy for the tiny human, even if he didn't look it.
The shifting of Scorpio's weight and the rumbling of his voice woke the tiny human for a few brief moments. Rubbing her eyes, Goldie looked at Teorus and Ichthys. She was greatly confused. Why was the really nice man and the not so nice funny man looking at her? And who was holding her? Looking up, she saw the face of the one person she didn't think would do that. Bur, she wasn't scared at all. Looking into his eyes, she could sense something was different. Whatever it was, she felt really safe in his arms. Smiling softly, the wee child snuggled up to the god's chest and mewed "Meanie Head" in the sweetest tone any of them heard before falling back into a peaceful sleep.
The three gods were surprised, but none more so than the man who held onto the child. Scorpio's cheeks flushed slightly in embarrassment, which made the other two giggle with glee. He shushed them with a glare that could kill as he made his way back to the bed and tried to put the girl down. Her grip eventually loosened up from his shirt and Scorpio was able to tuck the girl back in. With great concern on his mind, he walked passed the other two and signaled for them to follow him. A giggle or two may have floated into the air along the way.
They were all gathered in the main room. Altair and Vega brought tea, but had to return to the Heavens to return reports and update the other members of their departments. They were urged not to bring up Goldie if they could help it. The little assistants were uncomfortable with the request, but they also didn't want to see what would happen if the other gods got involved. Dui and Huedhaut sat groggily in their seats and Leon sat legs crossed and head on hand looking rather annoyed he was made to get out of bed.
The mood changed when Scorpio informed him of what he saw in the girl's dream. Everyone was awake and serious now. They may not like humans in varying degrees, but Goldie was special in more ways than one. Scorpio sighed and rubbed the back of his head before continuing. "I think I saw stars in her eyes..."
"I knew there was something special about our lil Goldie," Toerus exclaimed with joy.
"Are you sure," Dui asked. "She was kinda crying a lot and upset..."
"You weren't there," Ichthys said with a grin. "The way she looked at him just now was like a baby cozying up to her papa."
Scorpio coughed in his fist before punching Ichthys on the arm.
"Ow!" Ichthys rubbed his arm with a pout. "Meanie head..." That statement got him and Teorus snickering uncontrollably and Scorpio growled at them.
Sounding tired and annoyed, Leon spoke up. "Enough. If what you say is true, then that means we are bound to protect her. At least until we get her back to her parents." He rubbed his temples as a tension headache was coming on. "This night can't get any longer..." Standing up, he dragged out a heavy sigh and started to head back to his room. "Go back to bed and we can all figure this out when the sun is up." Leon could have said what was really on his mind, but then it might be triggered as a wish and the last thing he wanted to deal with were sappy human parents at his doorstep.
The others were resigned to agree and went back to their rooms. With the knowledge that they might have a reincarnated goddess sleeping in their house, things couldn't get more serious.