The Firefly Key
Trained by Tabris 17th.
Beta by Tenchi Kaze.
Softly... silently, the lithe young creature crept through the just darkening forest. Turning left and then right, he followed his tiny guide along a path that was known only to the two of them. With gentle hands, various fragrant leaves and just flowering blooms were brushed aside so as not to impede on the youth's progress into the darker depths of the densely wooded area ahead of him. A loud crashing noise sounded behind him and the delicately short male made his way towards the small particle of light that was bobbing midair with more than a hint of urgency to his steps.
Barely able to hold back a conceited snicker, he gave his guide a cheeky wink even as he poked out his tongue. An action that caused the barely seen speck to flash brightly for a bare instant before it dimmed again. Another loud thump to his right only a few yards away and he nodded at the guide as it swooped in to buzz in his face. Instantly, he crouched down and started to wiggle himself backward into the dense undergrowth that decorated the cool forest floor.
His heart started to beat rapidly as the threat of his Owner finding him drew nearer. The huddled youth carefully pulled the lower hanging branches of the various ferns and bushes whose leaves brushed at the black dirt of the forest floor to cover as much of his face and body that he was able to. The smile that had graced his face as he had first taken off into the forest slowly slid into a poisonous sneer as he could not help but roll his bright green eyes at the sound of a puffing and panting older man grew closer.
"Ishtare... Ishtare..." called out the nearing soft voice, one that was blended with a light musical lilt. "Come now. Come I Ishtare... come little one, where have you gone?"
Holding himself motionless for little longer than it took to take a breathe, the slender redheaded Key watched silently as a much larger ungainly man stomped his way past the Key's hiding spot, the sound of snapping twigs and leaves being crunched underfoot growing fainter with every step that his Master took away from the Key's hiding place. The threat gone for the time being, the pixie-like youth twisted his sneer into an even more vicious visage. With a quiet huck, a nearly invisible clot of phlegm hurtled its way to where the new Master had last been seen.
"ISHTARE! Little Firefly... come out...come out wherever you are?" came the oddly accented voice, winding its way through the thick foliage, offending the Firefly Key's sensitive ears as it did so.
'Humans,' thought the hidden Key, 'so stupid and clumsy. Especially this one. Why did I have to get this one...who on Amar's green earth did I cause mischief to in order to deserve this obvious punishment... this horror on two legs?'
Continuing to hold himself still, Firefly reached above him and swiftly twisted and bent all the thick heavy leaves he could reach into a sort of roof over his head. Once done to his satisfaction, he cocked his head in order to listen as his new Master again called for Firefly to show himself. A quick shake of his head and Key was forced to clap one hand over his mouth in order to suppress a growing snicker.
'Keep calling you dimwitted son of boar because the longer and louder you call... then the more committed I am to coming out.' His snicker threatening to erupt into all out laughter, Firefly ignored the damp earth coating his fingers and pinched his delicate snubbed nose hard in the hopes of stemming his humour. 'Ooooohhhh... a promise of didan liquor will of course make me suddenly appear in front of you. Go on... call all you like prickleface, it won't do you any good. I'm here for the night and in five... four... three... two...'
A quick peek from under the leafy coverings, he glanced up at the huge glass dome that covered the entire wooded area, the Key wondered for a moment if his timing was off. Surely he hadn't been unconscious for that long? The last thing he remembered from the previous Master was a heavy blow to his right temple before waking the day before much to the relief of The Palace Physicians. The room servants having assured him that he had only been in the realm of lost dreams for two days... surely they would tell him if he had been out for longer. No, no. His timing was not off, it had never been off in the two years he had lived at The Palace. His sneer tapering off into a worried half smile, Firefly ignored the continuing calls of his Master to show himself and instead shuddered as the memories of his last Owner flickered across his mind.
A sudden wet sploop sounded as a heavy drop of water landed on the canopy of leaves covering Firefly's head, causing the Key to jerk out of his unpleasant thought with more than a little relief. With his smile again growing to full bloom across his face, Firefly listened in delight as a light spattering of more joined the first drop.
"Aaaaaaand... one!" sighed a much relieved voice. "Run you lard filled boar... run before the rain washes you of the stench you favour"
Finally, Firefly allowed himself to laugh aloud as a bellow of annoyance echoed through the enclosed forest. The loud cries of distaste and disappointment from his Master all too easy to hear as the heavy set man lumbered through the forest towards the small but dry rooms at the furthest edge of the trees. Firefly's laughter took on a happier tone as the water, from the sprinklers hidden in the glass ceiling's beams, started to mimic the heavy downpour of the rainy season in a natural rainforest. Relaxing heavily into the cushion of just unfurled ferns that he was sitting on, Firefly made a vow with himself not to make an appearance until he was thoroughly soaked.
Hopefully, with a few handfuls of dirt smeared over him, he would make a horrible impression upon the new Owner. Something he was counting on as his head was still ringing from the heavy blow to the right temple that his previous Owner had gifted upon him.
His aching head resting upon a somewhat dry bundle of leaves he had plucked from the forest floor, Firefly closed his eyes in attempt to delay the inevitable first meeting with his new Owner. He knew that he would probably be punished for annoying the hideous hairy sorry excuse for a human male but that was something he could deal with later.
As for right now, he just wanted some alone time. Time where no one was near him... expecting things from him. With eyes screwed tight, Firefly let out a sigh of contentment as the rhythmic fall of the false rain lulled him to sleep.
"You are a nasty... nasty, horrible... little creature. Sweetness and light indeed!" screamed the hysterical man, steadily backing away from the slim, delicate youth coming towards him. His progression was halted as his back thumped heavily into the door behind him, the lean yet muscular man whirling around in an instant and immediately starting to grapple with the door's handle. "You... you stay away from me! You are horrid and not only that, you are mean. Yes, mean!"
"Yes Master. If you wish me never to come near you again, then I shall do my best to fulfill your wishes," stated Firefly quietly. The Key was the very epitome of obedience as he sank slowly down onto the wooden floor just a few yards from the one and only entrance to his rooms. With a sly grin flashing quickly across his face before his expression took on an overly wounded tone, Firefly gave a sigh as his Master continued to fumble his way into exiting the Key's rooms.
"Come near me again? Come near me *again* you say?" came the reply from a scream bruised throat. "You are mad. I keep telling you to stay away... to be gone from my sight and still you persist in keeping as close to me as a bear hibernating in its cave. You are never gone from my sight... my hearing... Ohlah! Ohlah... even in my dreams you are too close!"
"My humblest apologies Master. I... I only wished to savour your presence"
"Phah! You will do nothing but savour my belt across your skinny backside if you take another step towards me. You stay sitting... you horrid overgrown child. SIT!" snapped Firefly's owner.
"But I am already sitting Master. Do you wish me to sit closer to you?" came the innocently worded reply.
"WHAT! Closer to me? Sit... and stay sitting until I pass through this accursed door. Cursed is what you are. Stay I tell you!" Screamed the blond long haired man. Pointing a shaking finger at Firefly as the slender youth made a move to get up from off the floor, Firefly's Master finally managed to twist thought possible, the Master fled through the door towards the safety it offered but not before he stopped and turned around to impart a few more words of derision towards Firefly.
"I tell you this. All your airs and graces... your sneaking about and playing of tricks upon your rightful Masters will come at naught. You should accept what you are. You are no Fae"
"I *am* Fae" Firefly raised his head and locked eyes with his departing Master, his face cold and full of spite.
"Phah. Still so full of pride and more than just a hint of once winged arrogance in that reply, Key. Key... that is all you are now. All you will ever be," sneered the Master from the open doorway. "You will die as a Key. Get comfortable. *Glowbug.*"
"I *am* Fae!"
"You are *human*!" whispered the Master, taking an obscene delight as watched the Key's face drain of all color. "Without those disgusting wings of yours that make you Fae... you are nothing but a mere human. You will live out the rest of your days as a human and when you die, you will die as a human" With that final remark, the Master slammed the Firefly door shut, making sure to turn the lock before he strode down the wooden hallway towards The Palace reception.
"I... I am... F...Fae" came the whispered reply into the otherwise silent room. His mind reeling as if he had just been slapped, Firefly barely registered that he had crumpled on the floor, much like a sodden rag.
Lying on the cool wooden floorboards of his main room, the lithe youth cursed himself as he, for the first time in two years, finally despaired over the road Mother Fate was taking him. As bitter tears made their way down his deathly pale cheeks, the Key continued to lay curled up on the floor until, exhausted from his tears, he fell head first into a deep slumber.
He was fascinated. Never in his whole life had he ever had the good fortune to see anything so strange... so dark. And the size of it, how could such a... a thing grow to such an odd shape?
Unable to help himself, the young Fae knew that he was staring and he most certainly knew that it was wrong to keep doing so but he figured since the object of his curiosity did not know it was being stared at... then his manners did not matter. It was not the way the *thing* was coated from the base of its trunk to the very top of its tallest branch in the many different hues of the forest leaves that had his attention, it was the way that the *thing* had somehow encouraged the sky herself to wrap around the highest reaching branches.
The little Fae was excited and yet nervous. It was not every day that you discovered a new variety of tree. He knew it was a tree because it was too slender to be a bush or shrub and the odd looking *thing* was surely not a sneaking blahee, one of rarely sighted walking trees, because this tree's bark was too dark. Almost black and not the bright white of the flesh eating blahee.
Except, it could not be a tree. Simply because the long haired youth could see that it... the *thing*... Thingy had what looked like legs and arms. Just like him. And he was sure that... Thingy... had hands as well. Or were they just a different type of branch that he had never seen before? And if the 'hands' really were branches, then what Thingy was trailing through the stream water would obviously be twigs and not long, slender fingers.
With a frown on his face, the red head continued to stare at the odd tree in front of him. It had to be a tree, it was a tree was not it? But if it was not a tree, then what was it? No. No... it was a tree. It was simple. Anything with wings was Fae, anything without was either a tree, shrub or one of numerous species of wildlife that dwelled in the forest. That fact that Thingy had no wings and was too tall for either a shrub or animal meant that it was a tree. Taking a chance, the daring Fae took a gentle, silent step forward, carefully twisting genuine tree branches out of his way to have a better look at the odd tree specimen. As he nestled in closely against a rough barbury oak, a realization struck him.
'Oh Amar's green earth!' he thought, 'why such a dullard of a name? Can I not come up with something more inspiring?'
A self-depreciative snort resounded through the otherwise silent forest as the youth despaired over the name. Here he was, a Fae discovering what only could be a new type of tree or even mutated shrub and he could only come up with a name like *Thingy*? How on the good green earth would he be able to show his Clan's Elders his fabulous discovery if he continued to call it Thingy?
Vowing to come up with a better name, he took a long lock of hair and started chewing on the ends as he took his eyes off Thingy for the first time in over an hour. In his ruminations, the lithe Fae had failed to notice that his object of curiosity had stepped back from the little stream and was now looking in his direction.
"Htu... htu's mone?"
As every fibre in his being froze, the delicate youth barely flinched as the bedraggled lock of hair fell out of his gaping mouth. Staring once again, this time in complete shock, the Fae was horrified to see that Thingy had moved without his noticing.
Not only that, Thingy had spoken. Or at least made a pretence of doing so. As hard as he tried to convince himself to run in the opposite direction, the Fae discovered that he was in fact moving closer towards the odd tree. Slowly but surely, low hanging branches were moved out of his way by hands that he was sure were acting of their own accord as he continued his journey forward.
Finally, after what seemed like an eon, the nervous Fae stepped out into the open. His heart beating almost out of control, he sidled up close to a tree on the edge of the cool forest. Unable to help himself from playing with a leaf plucked from the tree, he stood only a few yards from the object of his curiosity, vulnerable to any action that Thingy might take against him. With a sidelong glance towards the odd tree, he waited for something to happen.
Looking at Thingy from underneath his lashes, the Fae's heart rate escalated another notch as Thingy took a step towards him, causing the lithe youth to press back against the tree behind him. As the bark dug roughly against his delicate wings, he gasped in pain when he felt a sharp twig pierce through his left wing. Teeth gritted, he tried to blank out the fiery pain that radiated over the entire left side of his back. Groaning, the pained youth ventured to shift himself from the offending piece of wood only to slam himself backwards again the instant he noticed that Thingy had taken another step forward.
Barely able to hold back his scream of agony from the razor sharp twig ripping into another part of his left wing, the moaning boy tried in vain to reach around his back to his damaged wing. He hurt. Badly. Already he could feel a deep hot throbbing pain coming from the first rip in his wing, something that did not bode well for his future health. Afraid to move for fear of hurting himself more, the Fae stared helplessly as Thingy moved its branches up and down its green hued trunk. A deep breath wrung a grunt of pain from him while it caused Thingy to move even closer.
"Htan ion... wae I puin?"
The soft deep voice of Thingy was suddenly too much for the little Fae. He wanted to be gone. He did not want to hear the questioning concern from the odd tree even if he could not understand the words.
As tears started to make their way down his face, the struggling youth doubled his efforts to get free even as the horrifying thought ran through his mind. Thingy had spoken, just as he had heard before but this time... this time he could actually hear the intent behind the words. And that was more frightening than being injured, alone and many weeks travel from his Clan.
His panic mounting, the terrified young Fae wrenched his left shoulder away from the tree as hard as he could only to freeze as he felt the tear in his wing lengthen. Breath after deep breath was gulped down into his lungs until finally, an agonized scream roared through the small clearing.
On and on he screamed, the throbbing in his wing steadily rising into a sharp stabbing. As if his legs were made of slender reeds, the Fae found himself tumbling to the ground, only to voice his agony even louder as his wing tore free from the rough nub of bark. His screams still sounding through the forest, the Fae lay on the cushioning grass, too intent on his pain to notice that Thingy had moved to his side.
Only barely through the waves of pain did he register that someone was running their hands over his body. He could feel calluses against his own much softer skin. Everywhere, he could feel himself being touched but nothing mattered but the pure agony he was currently experiencing.
His stomach twisted, growling as it churned from the nausea that came hand in hand with his pain. The screams started to lose their intensity, instead, dying down into deep groans as tremors racked his body. All the while he could feel the hands moving their way from across his shoulder blades, up his slender neck and finally, touching his chin.
Gently, he found his face being upturned from the tear soaked grass and suddenly, he was looking into a face. A face that bore a worried smile, bright, white teeth clashing with darkness of the skin.
It was too much. He could not think anymore. He did not *want* to think anymore, he just wanted to be somewhere else. Away from the terrible pain.
Swiftly, the land of lost dreams beckoned to him and with a harsh grunt, the little Fae allowed his eyes to close. Just as he slipped away, he marveled at how Fae like Thingy actually appeared to be.
"You are to stop this attitude, Key!" warned the Palace Administration Official, watching the Firefly Key closely for any reaction to his words. So far, there had been none, the slender red head not even bothering to acknowledge his presence. Instead, the youth was sitting upon the hardwood floor of his bedroom, staring at the wall opposite him. The same thing he had done for the past six days, ever since his last Owner. The routine only broken by toilet breaks and barely eaten meals.
Wincing at the memory of having to deal with the irate man, the Official could not help but wonder just what had gone on between them to make such a spirited Key as the Firefly suddenly to withdraw into himself. "It shall not be tolerated any further."
Again, the Official waited to see if his words made a dent in the Key's strange attitude. With a shake of his head, the Official found himself trying to smother a grimace as he prepared to go on. He hated this aspect of his job, the way he had always to stay so stern and unwaveringly disciplined when all he wanted to do was offer a little comfort to an obviously troubled youth. "You do not have *personal* issues nor do you have preferences. You are a Key, such luxuries are not for you."
A slight movement and quiet sigh from the unusually silent lad and the Official was more than relieved to see that the Key wasn't, as reported by the cleaning staff, catatonic. If Firefly had been in such a way, then the Key would have been transferred down to the Medical Centre, two levels below the ground floor. Once there, he would have been examined to see if it was cost effective to 'fix' the Key. If so, Firefly would have been given over to a Trainer to be made financially viable again. If not, then The Firefly Key's room would be emptied until there was a new Firefly Key.
No matter how popular a Key was with their clientele or how well respected and liked they were by the Palace staff, if a Key was no longer able to work to the best of their capacity, then there was no place for them in The Palace. It was that particular policy that the Official really objected to. Too many times he had seen boys who were no longer able to fulfill their duties as Keys sold to brothels of a lesser standing, auctioned off to past Owners or, as rumours went, disposed of if unable to be sold. He hated it simply because most of the boys would forever remember The Palace as a kind of sanctuary compared to the world they would be forced to encounter outside its huge iron gates.
He thought that it was better for them never to leave the "safety" of The Palace, re-training and working as a servant, Trainer or even an Official than forever to remember their time in a literal prison as the best days of their lives. It was both sad and cruel for the Keys to be forced to leave their home and from what he had heard from his limited time outside The Palace, a good many of the former Key's never adjusted to life outside. How could they be expected to when, for many, it was the only life they knew? Some boys, however rare, did manage to find good homes and make happy lives for themselves but for each 'success' story, there were a dozen more tales of misery and abuse.
As the Official took in the young Key's appearance, he noted how Firefly was sitting cross legged, hunched in on himself with his head sagging slightly down towards his chest, hands resting limply between his legs. Taking a short step closer, he looked intently at the redhead's face and, unable to help himself, the Official immediately sympathised with the look of utter resignation he saw upon the lightly freckled face. Something serious had obviously happened with the last Owner for the Key to be acting so unlike himself. Gone was the usual hyper-activity, as was the sarcastic humour and little pranks he liked to inflict upon his room staff. More unusual still was the fact that Firefly hadn't ventured into the forest since his last Owner, unusual because on more than one occasion, the Official had had to send Palace servants into the wooded area to seek the Key out on behalf of a disgruntled Owner. Never had more than a few hours gone by that the Firefly Key hadn't visited the forest.
The knowledge struck him like a thunderbolt and with a barely suppressed shiver, the Official realised that the Key was close to being permanently broken, if not already. Closing his eyes, the Official almost gagged as a flare of self-loathing shot through him as he ran through what he was expected to say next. God, how he hated this job, he honestly did not know why he came back to The Palace each morning. The self-loathing was accompanied by pity for the young Key as the Official opened his mouth to speak, "Whatever happened between yourself and your last Owner, you must forget about it. Put it aside and not let it affect you. Must I remind you again that you are a Key and as such, you are to behave appropriately at all times."
The Official opened his eyes only to find that Firefly was looking at him. Silently, he noted how tired the Key looked, the dullness of his green gaze accentuated by the dark circles underneath his eyes. So close, the Key was on the very edge of having his spirit broken, so close that the Official had a sudden vision of the youth standing on the edge of a cliff and he being the one to try to draw Firefly back. If he could be assured that Firefly would find a safe and happy place outside The Palace, he would report the Key as incompetent and recommend that The Firefly Key be sold. Recalling the public's general prejudice of the Fae race, the Official knew without a doubt that the outside world would not hesitate to be unwaveringly cruel to the delicate youth. Especially one who had earned the hatred of his Clan and suffered the humiliation and agony of losing his wings.
All in all, no matter what the Key thought of his clients and The Palace, the Official knew that The Palace was the best of two evils and as such, it was up to him to make sure that the little Fae continued to adjust to the best of his abilities. Still, the youth had only been at The Palace for two years and needed more time to settle fully into his life as a Key. It wasn't uncommon for a Key who lived as a free person before coming to The Palace to take up to five years to integrate into Palace life with a good few of them having a long and traumatic hissy fit in their third year. In what was called a "free me three" by the Palace staff, the Key in question would inevitably "snap" one day when they finally realised that no-one was going to come to rescue them, meaning that they would be a Key for many years to come. During that time, they would first demand to be free and when that failed, start pleading, begging and promising the world, finally, they would do their best to escape The Palace.
In the 16 years he had worked at The Palace, the Official could not recall a Key ever having a successful escape attempt, nor anyone coming to "re-claim" a Key.
With the idea of the "free me three" in mind, the Official was suddenly worried that The Firefly Key was going to break with the norm and have his hissy fit early. His worry growing the more he thought it, the Official knew it was best and, in the long run, more humane to nip it in the bud. Walking forward until he was by the Key's side, the Official crouched down slowly so as not to startle the youth, all the while Firefly continued to stare blankly at him.
The Official was well aware that Palace guidelines demanded that Palace staff never got involved with the Keys and were discouraged from favouring certain Keys. Many staff, especially the room attendants, had been disciplined over the years for becoming friends with their charges, something that the Palace did not encourage incase it led to a successful escape attempt. The Official knew that the higher ranking Officials remained emotionally neutral at all times when in the presence of a Key. It just would not do for a Key to become aware of how to 'play' an Official.
However, as the Official reached out to lay his hand gently upon the Key's narrow shoulder and because he wasn't like his fellow Officials, he knew that a little compassion would not go astray.
"Firefly, I'm sure what happened between you both was awful and from what I've seen of this particular Owner, downright cruel but, as I said before, you cannot let it affect you because if you do, you will not be as appealing to future Owners. You wouldn't want that to happen now would you?" he asked quietly, stroking his thumb across the pale skin in what he thought was a comforting manner. His words prompting a ragged sigh from the Key, he allowed a small smile to grace his face in the hopes of encouraging Firefly to speak of what was on his mind. "If you tell me what's wrong, I can help you and I do want to help you but I cannot if I don't know what's wrong?"
"H... he..." a cracked voice whispered before falling silent again.
Oddly elated by this, the Official waited for Firefly to continue. When nothing more was said, he spoke again. "He did something to you?"
At the slight shake of the Key's head, the Official tried the next question. "Did he make you do something that you're not comfortable with? You can tell me what it was and then we can get you trained up so that you won't worry about it next time, ok?"
Another tiny shake of the red head caused the Official to ask more. "Did he say something to you?"
For a long moment, Firefly continued to stare up at the Official before the young Key let his hollow gaze slide to the floor, giving such a tiny nod of his head that the Official wasn't even sure that he had witnessed such a gesture. Squeezing the bony shoulder harder for an instant, the Official was alarmed when Firefly let himself slip from under his hand, the little Fae curling up into a tight ball on the floor.
"I'm sorry, I didn't get that... what did you say?" enquired the Official gently in response to the barely whispered mumble from the Key. "Come now Firefly, speak properly. English, use the English you were taught."
When his words prompted another garbled reply, the Official wondered for a moment if he had been too lenient already with the young Key. With that thought, he drew himself upright and stepped back from small redhead lying listlessly on the wooden floor. As much as he wanted to just sit on the floor beside the Key and comfort Firefly, the Official knew that if he didn't get the Key's co-operation in the following day or so, then the next person called in to evaluate the Key would more than likely be a Trainer. People notorious for their aversion to compassion, or coddling as they liked to call any kindness shown to the numerous Keys. A sigh floated through the Firefly's bedroom as the Official unconsciously shook his head at the thought of a Trainer getting hold of the obviously traumatised youth. "I'm here to help you but I cannot if I don't understand you? I have no wish to be unkind but you *must* forget that you knew another language before coming here... you will only end up hurting yourself if you continue to embrace its use?"
A wretched sob echoed around the room as the Officials words made their impact upon Firefly, the small Key curling himself tighter, his trembling hands covering his face as his slender shoulders shook with the force of his ongoing sobs.
"I... issa m-m-mane non... n-num." Horrified, the Official felt a chill race down his spine as he realised just how emotionally fragile the young Key was. He had seen Firefly in tears before but mostly as a result of the redhead being in the throes of a temper tantrum or from a severe beating thanks to a brutal Owner and the Key's own tendency to provoke people. Never had the Firefly Key ever been known to cry just from sheer helplessness, and if the Official guessed right, the beginning of serious depression. The Official refused to acknowledge the slight heated stinging behind his own eyes, rubbing the back of his hand across them in an effort for the sensation to go away. With his resolve to once again be more business-like with the distressed Key dwindling but not gone, the Official tried his best to remind the Key of the Palace's protocol. "English, Firefly. English. Please?"
"Issa mane nonum." whispered Firefly, the words broken by sobs. "Iss... issa mane n... n... nonum."
"Please? I don't know what you're saying?"
"ISSA MANE NONUM!... ISSA M.. MANE NONUM!... I.. ISSA MANE NONUM!"
Unconsciously stepping backwards, the Official could not help but cringe at the venom staining the words roared at him by the little Fae. Over and over Firefly shouted the words until the Official could not make out a single identifiable word, everything running into one. Back at the Key's side, the Official patted soothingly at the lightly freckled shaking shoulders, soft "shhhh... shhhhhh" noises made in the hopes of calming the distressed youth.
"It's all right... it's all right Firefly. Come now... shhhhhh... tell me what's wrong... come now... it's all right? Firefly... please... I *want* to help you." pleaded the Official, desperate to at least find out what was so wrong with the little Fae even if he couldn't immediately solve the problem. As the minutes passed, the Key's screaming died down into a hoarse whisper as the Official continued to stroke his hand across the red heads bare shoulders. "Firefly?"
"Issa mane nonum."
"Yes. Yes, you keep saying this but... I'm so sorry Firefly, I have no idea of what you are trying to tell me. I..." Lapsing into silence, the Official never let up his gentle patting of the Key as he watched with a worried expression upon his face as Firefly's shaking and sobbing started to subside. Slowly, Firefly's hands dropped from his face, coming to rest limply upon the hardwood floor of the bedroom, the strange words still being repeated. With a great weary sigh, the Key sniffled wetly as his eyelids began to droop and his ongoing litany was punctuated by jaw wrenching yawns. Actions that had the Official somewhat relieved as he hoped that he would be able to get more sense from Firefly after the young Key had had a few hours of deep sleep.
"Go to sleep, Firefly," soothed the Official, a small smile gracing his face as he watched the little Fae fight the lure of sleep. "That's it. Go to sleep."
Slowly rising to his feet, the Official wondered if it would be too much a show of tenderness if he draped a blanket over the yet again yawning youth. After a moment of arguing with himself, the Official snatched up a finely woven blanket from the bed beside the Key and gently covered the thin male with the light green wool. The Official made his way to the door as quietly as he could, pausing with the door open as he looked back at Firefly. "Dream well."
The door shut and locked with care to avoid waking the exhausted Key, the Official missed Firefly's next words.
"Issa mane nonum..." mumbled Firefly, unconsciously pulling the warm covering further up his body. Every bone in his body aching with weariness, the little Fae succumbed to the dreamworld. "Not my name... Firefly... issa mane nonum."