Chapter Twenty-Three | Summer Wine

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Csy was asleep in a large uncomfortable chair that occupied the corner of Asimov's hospital room. Gideon was tucked in their lap, furry head resting against their chest. The therian was currently occupying the form of a large burly man. Curling chest hair poked from the top of their flannel shirt, one muscled arm holding Gideon in a sling as if she were a child and not a fully grown vox.

Asimov stirred in the starchy sheets of his bed, and Gideon perked up, ears flaring outward on either side of her head.

Csy snorted as they sat up in surprise. "I'm awake."

"Shh," Gideon said. "He's still asleep."

"Not quite," Asimov's voice came groggily from the bed.

Gideon leapt from Csy's lap and bounced onto the unforgiving bed that squeaked in response. The cyborg sat up on his hands slowly, his eyes blinking heavily.

"How are you doing?" Gideon asked quietly.

"Now I know how batteries feel," Asimov groaned.

Csy sat up in their chair, the beard around their mouth splitting to reveal a flash of a smile. "You have no one to blame but yourself," they said in a rumbly baritone.

"That's a funny way to say 'thank you for saving my life, Asimov,'" the cyborg retorted.

"How's this, then?" Csy stood and strode to the bed, leaning over it and planting a kiss on Asimov's pale lips.

Gideon giggled as the gears on the side of the cyborg's head spun in response, and he tentatively reached up to brush Cys's cheek. The kiss broke, and Csy leaned back on their heels, arms crossed.

Asimov cleared his throat. "I suppose that will suffice."

"Don't ever pull anything like that ever again, you hear me?" Gideon suddenly chided, waving a furry finger in his face.

"I don't make promises," Asimov said cooly, a small smile hinting upon his mouth.

Csy sat down on the mattress and cupped Asimov's knee in their wide palm. "Well, you better because this one is too much of a handful on my own," they said with a gesture at Gideon, who stuck her tongue out in response, small arms crossing over her chest.

"How's everyone else doing?" Asimov asked, leaning back on the metal frame of the bed.

"Good," Gideon said quickly, "July is having nightmares and we don't see him much yet, but Boss seems to be dealing with it the best she can."

"Poor kid," said Asimov, shaking his head.

"He's taking it in stride, in my opinion," murmured Csy.

"He shouldn't have to," said Gideon softly.

There was a shared moment of silence.

"Boss and Cash married yet?" Asimov asked slowly.

The vox and therian chuckled. "Not yet," they said in unison.

Later, when Asimov was asleep once again, Csy drifted between dozing and impatient, waiting in their place upon the chair as nurses in crisp white hats came and went, checking blinking screens and silencing aggravating mechanical tones. Gideon creaked open the door slowly, light from the hallway pooling on the floor of the dim room.

"You hungry?" she asked in a whisper.

"I could eat," Csy murmured back.

The vox pushed the door open further, a box of nibbles from the vending machine down the hall in her paw-like hand. She carefully closed the door behind her with a quiet click and padded over to the chair. An impulse took Csy, and they quickly shifted into a male vox. Gideon gave a soft squeak, her ears flying upward and eyes going wide.

Csy hesitated, "Too much?" they asked softly. They took the box of food from her hands before she dropped it.

"No, I uh—-" She sat down on the floor at the foot of the chair. "How did you know my type?" She asked, the fur of her cheeks fluffing in embarrassment.

Csy looked down at the dark luscious fur they had conjured with a white spot of fluff that splashed across their chest. "I didn't," they admitted honestly.

"Lucky guess," Gideon said, her ears twitching as she sliced open the junk food with clawed finger.

Csy reduced themself to their pure amorphous form and sucked a snack into their blob-like body. Gideon didn't even flinch at the transformation, and Csy felt a vulnerable contentment at her presence. They both munched in silence. When Csy had had their fill, they shifted back into the male vox form, watching Gideon's cheeks fluff again in response.

"You like the bad boys, huh?" They asked with a grin of their new fangs.

Gideon's smacked her lips and tossed her head. "Hardly."

"What are we all going to do now that the job is done?" Csy followed up, abruptly shifting the conversation.

Gideon's ears lowered slightly as she glanced away. "I don't know."

Csy tapped their unfamiliar clawed fingers against the arm of the seat. "Boss offered me a job."

Gideon perked up again, "What?"

Csy nodded, experimentally twisting their emotive ears. "She said she'd love to take a step away from the stage and asked me to be her headliner, as long as I want it anyway."

Gideon's face was inscrutable, but her voice was soft. "That's so great, Csy. You should accept."

Csy observed the vox carefully. "I did."

Gideon's ears lowered just a tick, and Csy took a slow swallow. "I'm really happy for you." She gave an unconvincing smile.

"Could have fooled me," Csy teased.

Gideon took a sharp breath. "I just...I don't know where I fit anymore." The vox's voice dipped into quiet. "I never have, but...I didn't use to mind that." She looked to the bed where Asimov slept. "It's different now."

Csy slipped from their chair and paused, unused to being the same height as Gideon. They reached out with furry hands and wrapped her in a tight hug.

"You fit right here," they said softly into the crook of her neck. They felt her arms tighten around their waist.

She began to tremble slightly, taking in shaking breaths.

"Hey, hey, hey." Csy stepped back and took her face in their small hands. "What's wrong."

Gideon's green eyes glowed in the dim light of the room. "You're such an idiot," she said, smiling through glistening tears that wetted the fur around her eyes.

Csy dropped their hands and pouted. "Just trying to show you—" they stopped.

Gideon's ears perked up. "Show me?"

Csy fluffed out their own cheeks experimentally. "Show much you uh-" They coughed. "How much you mean. To. Me."

Gideon's eyes began to glisten again.

Csy took a deep breath and committed. "I've never met anyone who looks at me with the same adoration in their eyes no matter how I look or what I'm dressed as," they confessed. "I didn't think it was possible, and yet here you two are." They gestured to Asimov's sleeping form.

Gideon jumped forward and wrapped her arms tightly about Csy's neck. "I can't stand you," she said, her voice muffled in the ruff of their fur. "I don't know what you're talking about.

Csy wrapped their arms around her waist and smiled into the collar of her shirt. "Noted."

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