This is a fic about Ira, Bowman and Sisi's youngest son, now 10 years old, and his friendship with Mist and his son, Haze.
Boy, I don't believe that I was ever that small, mused the gray cat, wrapped around Ira's shoulders.
The white fur around his muzzle was wiry and thinning, and he knew that his time would come soon. He did not mind. He would find Dogface and the larger Boy's sister. These things do happen, after all.
"I believe you were, Mist," replied Ira, tickling the tiny bundle of gray fur under its chin.
Mist chose to ignore his Boy's comment.
Boy, do you think this scrap of fur will every fly, like me?
"I believe he will Mist," answered Ira, nodding his head. The tiny kitten looked up indignantly, his blue eyes flashing. Though the copy of Mist was not yet very old, his mind-speech was hardly hindered.
You can't fly, father, said the kit, stalking around the Boy.
Yes, I could, Haze, Mist retorted.
"Could you truly, Mist?" asked Ira, lifting the old gray cat down from his shoulders.
"Let us see then," cried Ira, settling onto his knees and watching as Mist curled himself onto a ball on the thickly carpeted floor.
I'm far too old for that trick, he grumbled.
"Did my father ever fly, Mist?" asked Ira, placing Haze in his lap.
"Does he ever fly now?"
Not since he came to this place.
Haze scrambled down from Ira's lap just as his older sister Siri came tiptoeing into the room. The Sirharadi of Gang was en exact replica of her mother, Sisi, save for the thin scars that marred Mother's cheeks. He knew how jealous of Mother his sister was, so he never mentioned it to her.
"Still playing with the cats?" asked the girl, grabbing Haze's tail before he managed to escape.
We were not playing, huffed Mist, glaring at the girl.
"We weren't playing," relayed Ira, snatching Haze from his sister's grasp.
Put me down! Snapped the kitten, wriggling in Ira's hands.
"Hm," snorted Siri. "What's its name?" She pointed a long slender finger at Haze.
It?! Cried the kitten, aghast.
"Haze," Ira replied, poking the kitten in the stomach and allowing him to dash away to the other side of the room.
"What about the other one? Isn't it Fog, or something?"
Mist opened one eye, glowering at Siri.
"It's Mist, actually."
"Wasn't he father's old cat?" asked Siri reaching out a hand to pat Mist's head.
"Mist does not belong to anybody." Ira stroked Mist's long tail, showing Siri the act's favorite spot to be stroked.
Thank you, Boy.
"Why do you look at him like that?" asked Siri staring at her younger brother.
"I hear what he has to say."
"Oh. Does the other one do that too?"
The other one. Has she no other names for us? Muttered Haze, glaring from afar.
"Yes. I can speak to any animal if I try."
"Can you speak to tables and spoons, like in father's stories?"
"Not yet. But he's teaching me. I am to be a Singer, like him."
"Oh. But mustn't you be taught by a Singer yourself?"
At this, Ira looked troubled, and Siri was afraid she had something to offend him. Ira was touchy, and you had to be careful when speaking with the dark-eyed young boy. After a moment, Ira frowned, then looked up at her and said, "I should be. I tell him so often."
Siri expected him to say more, but he turned back to petting Mist, and she realized he was finished.
Odd creature, that girl, muttered Mist reproachfully.
She wouldn't believe you if you told her you could fly, father, observed Haze casually, but Mist was irritated.
You don't either, you insufferable scrap. Haze was silent, but Ira saw that he was watching Mist with sharp blue eyes.
After a moment of calm silence, Haze spoke up again in Ira's mind. Siri watched him thoughtfully as he listened to the gray kitten.
I shall learn to fly, father.
Mist lifted his head and turned to face his son, gazing across the room.
Yes. The Boy shall teach me.
Will he, then?
Haze shifted his stare to Ira, who had stopped rubbing Mist to hear what the determined young cat had o say.
Shall you teach the scrap then, Boy?
"I hardly know how myself, Haze. I'm afraid you'll have to ask either Mist or my father."
Mist won't teach me.
Won't I? muttered Mist, drop ping his head to paws again.
Haze's ears flickered forward, and he glanced with surprise at Mist.
Won't you? Would you teach me to fly, father? Gasped the gray cat, his eyes taking on a new luster.
Mist frowned at him, then sighed and rasped, I suppose so, if you won't let me alone until I do.
Heedless of Siri's previous capture, Haze bounded forward and gave Mist a grateful lick on the top of his head, before leaping away out the door into the long hallways of the Palace.
Darling, intolerable little scrap, mumbled Mist to himself as he settled himself once more into the soft folds of the carpet.
"What were they saying, Ira?" asked Siri, intrigued.
Ira restrained a laugh. "Mist shall teach Haze how to fly."