Little crossover fragment I wrote for K today- we’ve discussed the idea before, since we both love Northern Lights, and while trying to write something totally different yesterday I more or less fell over this AU all over again.
Muzzily, Wheatley opened an eye.
Imri usually slept on his glasses, the first place he looked when he woke up, her tiny body perched on the arch between the lenses. It was odd not to see her there- not to see the familiar blurred shapes of side-table and window and grate, the dark blue-grey morning colours of his flat. This definitely wasn’t his flat- south-facing, uncluttered, this room had a different, brighter palette. This definitely wasn’t his bed, either, but a big flat sprawl of a mattress on a warm-coloured new-smelling floor, surrounded by blankets and cushions scattered as if in the wake of some violent tropical storm.
For a couple of worrying seconds he thought he was alone, but as he woke up a little more he felt her presence there at his back, her smaller form keeping a gentle, rising-and-falling pressure against the curve of his spine. She was still there, which, given what he remembered of the previous night, was a really, really good sign.
Not that it had gone badly-
-ha, no, definitely not, not from his perspective, anyway. In fact, Wheatley couldn’t help feeling that it was only a shame nobody ever handed out questionnaires after the event, as it were. In a universe where this had been standard practice, his would have been an utter masterpiece of detail, with lots of exclamation marks and enthusiastic comments in the margins.
It was just that it wasn’t unheard of for his assessment to differ from the- well, from that of the other party. Widely. Never good, when that happened. Never a confidence-booster.
He half-turned his head, propping his chin dopily on the pillow.
The cat-dæmon was curled in a tight comma in a close fold of blankets, eyes narrowed to dark crescent-slits, spine twisted luxuriantly, the picture of sleeping feline contentment. Imri’s tiny head poked out from between his paws, a bright scrap of fluff cupped by relaxed, fur-padded claws. Easily twice the size of her beak, those claws- lethal half-sheathed thorns, the colour of bone.
Wheatley suppressed a yawn. The cat, perhaps disturbed by his movement, turned his sleeping head in a brisk automatic motion and treated Imri’s puffball body to half-a-dozen rough-tongued licks, dragging her feathers in a comic backwards ruff, drawing her tighter under the light-furred arch of his chin.
Imri yawned herself, a tiny open-beaked gape into Wheatley’s face. “Morning, sunshine.”
“Are you alright?” mumbled Wheatley, sleepily. He felt doped, lulled by his dæmon’s uncharacteristic contentment, his skin prickling pleasantly all the way up the length of his spine.
“Hey, hey, don’t you worry about me, I have got this. You just keep doing what you’re doing.” Imri blinked slowly and stretched out her neck- the only movement really available to her, blanketed as she was in the cat’s possessive, sheathed-steel paws. “Beak-five.”
He wriggled out a hand, stuck out a long index, bumped her beak. Topside, bottomside, straight on.
“Player.” She tucked her head back against the cat’s fur, and went back to sleep.
(now with gorgeous art by Rubit!)