Bonding Is Clothing Optional in Some Families
Owen dreamed that he was riding Dinner across the rooftops of his hometown, and he was trying to convince the stupid horse to get down onto the streets, but he wouldn’t. Owen did everything he could, but Dinner just wouldn’t listen to him.
Stupid horse, he woke up thinking. It wasn’t even possible to ride along the rooftops in Great Scar, they weren’t even enough for that, and they were too far apart besides.
He should go home someday, take Gavin and Darby and Greg to meet his parents. It had been so long since Owen had seen his family. He’d sent a letter to them last week, but there was no way for them to write back to him in Pelican Bay.
Gavin was sleeping on left side, head on Owen’s shoulder. Darby was on his chest, dead asleep and almost completely on top of Owen. That was unusual, he hadn’t slept in their bed since Greg had started sharing his room. Hopefully they hadn’t had a fight or…
Oh, no, nevermind. There was someone on Owen’s right side, and when he turned his head, he saw Greg, also clearly just waking up. Now that Owen knew he was there, he could feel Greg’s leg touching his. He seemed to be dressed, unlike the rest of them. “Morning,” Owen said quietly, so as not to wake Gavin.
“Good morning,” said Greg, tensing a little. “I’m…sorry for…I’ll go…”
“You can if you want,” Owen said, as Greg started to get up. “If you want to stay you can too.”
Greg paused, looking at Owen, but mostly at Darby. “Are…you sure?”
Owen nodded. “The more the merrier. As long as you don’t mind that me and Gavin are naked under the blanket.”
Greg coloured a little, but he nodded. “That’s okay. I…” he looked at Darby again. “He’s been having nightmares the last few days. He pretends he hasn’t been.”
He sounded upset by that, so Owen nodded. “Yeah. He does that to us too. He doesn’t want anybody to know he’s scared of anything, that’s all. Especially you, I think. I think he’s particularly invested in you thinking he’s fearless.”
Swallowing, Greg nodded. “Okay. I…I guess I had a nightmare too. And he said I might feel better if we slept in here.”
Owen looked down at Darby, still fast asleep on his chest. Gavin was starting to stir. “Pack instinct, probably. He likes to sleep where we are.”
“I wasn’t…I didn’t tell him he couldn’t…”
“I know you didn’t. But he didn’t want you to be alone,” Owen promised. “Did you?”
Greg seemed to think about it for a good minute. Owen let him have that time. “I think so. I…don’t like to sleep alone. Sometimes I feel alone even when I’m not. I don’t…I don’t feel like that when I’m with all of you.”
“You shouldn’t,” Gavin said, bleary. “We’re here for you, Greg.”
“I…I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“Gavin always wakes up when I do,” Owen promised him. “Usually before, actually. Morning.”
“Morning,” Gavin said, kissing Owen. “Morning, Greg.”
“Good morning.” As Gavin sat up, stretching, so did Greg. Owen stayed laying down since Darby was on his chest. “I see he conned you into coming in here.”
“I guess so,” Greg said, smiling. “But it was…nice.”
Gavin nodded, yawning, which made Owen yawn too. “It is. Owen is nice to sleep with. He makes a good pillow.”
Greg almost laughed at that. Almost. “You promise you don’t mind?”
“Not at all. Sleep with us whenever you want. But we’re not responsible for anything you might see when you sneak in here.”
“I…” Greg reddened again. “I listened at the door for a minute before I let Darby open it.”
“Good idea,” Gavin told him with a grin. “There were definitely a few times when he snuck in while we were busy and we didn’t notice until we saw him sleeping on the other side of the bed afterwards.”
Greg actually did chuckle a little at that one. “He doesn’t worry much about privacy.”
“Had a few run-ins with that, huh?” Owen asked, noting Greg’s blush.
“Don’t know if it’s a werewolf thing or if he’s just a shameless person. He doesn’t bother you with it, does he?” Gavin asked. “We can talk to him.”
“N-no,” Greg said, shaking his head. “It doesn’t bother me. And he’s not pushy. He…” he gestured down at himself. “He doesn’t try to, you know. Make me do anything that I don’t want to.”
“Okay, good. Nudity may be common in this bed, but it is optional, promise.”
“I believe you.” Greg swallowed. “It’s, it’s really nice. To wake up like this. And talk with you.”
“Yeah.” Gavin got out from under the blanket, crossing his legs. “It’ll be even better when we get back to the capital, you’ll see.”
“Our bed there is really big,” Owen told him. “And soft.”
Darby was starting to twitch as he woke up. “And,” Gavin added. “The privy is right there so you don’t have to go far for it. And the servants will bring us breakfast right in bed if I tell them to. We can easily stay in bed for hours if we want to.”
“That sounds…fun,” Greg said.
Darby lifted his head, blinked at Owen. His hair was a mess and one of his ears was laying flat, so Owen fixed it for him. Morning he signed with one hand.
Darby sat up, full on sitting on Owen’s belly. Morning! You missed me sleeping in here, right?
Yeah, Owen promised, and he sat up himself, making Darby fall backwards, getting him tangled in the blankets.
He took a second to fix himself, ended up sitting on Owen’s thigh, smiling at Greg. Did you sleep good?
Greg nodded. Did you? His sign was more confident than it had been even just a few days ago.
Yeah. Darby yawned, scratching his balls, making his morning wood bob. Owen’s did the same beside him as he was jostled. Then he rubbed his eyes. Greg had a nightmare, he told Owen. I thought he’d feel better in here.
He told us, Owen said.
I told him he should sleep naked too, but he doesn’t want to so don’t make him.
We won’t, Gavin signed, giving Owen a look over Darby’s head. “Should we have breakfast?”
Let’s stay in bed! Darby insisted, once Owen translated for him. Greg nodded, but just once, and probably only because he thought nobody could see him.
“How about we do our sign language lesson here?” Owen asked. “It’s not like we’re in a rush.”
“I’d like that,” Greg said quietly.
“Sure. Edwin’s going to have to have makeup lessons, though.” Gavin appeared thoughtful. “Oh, Greg. Sometimes Edwin’s going to be in here with us. Don’t worry too much about him.”
“Uh. Okay,” Greg said, looking at his hands in preparation for the lesson.
Edwin is really nice! Darby promised Greg. You’ll like him once you get to know him!
Oh! Darby looked up at Owen. Can I hang out with Mick and his friends later? They’re going to investigate some secrets and they said I could come with them if it was okay with you!
Owen looked at Gavin, who shrugged. Sure, just do as they say.
Got it! I think you should start the lesson by telling Greg and Gavin how to talk about the moon! I want to tell them about it!
Owen chuckled, and he rearranged the pillows to start the lesson. He remembered being back home as a kid, sitting on his parents’ bed all morning and talking to them about whatever they wanted. Now he knew how they’d felt.