Chapter 2:


Skritch, skritch, skratch . . .

Dak frowned in concentration. The shoulders looked right but the neck needed to look a bit thinner.

Skratch, skritch, skratch . . .

In this case, the extra set of eyes would just be little dots and the stalks would just look like little strings. Dak rolled the little burnt stick around his claws. Maybe he could –

((Dak, what are doing?))

That silent, mental voice alone made Dak jump and drop the stick from his hand and onto the ground with a 'Snap!'. On pure instinct, he slapped both of his hands over the bark-stripped patch and nervously met the voice owner's eyes as much as he could. "O-oh! A-Aldrea! Hello! What brings you here?"

Aldrea blinked in confusion towards him with all four eyes but answered regardless. ((I had nothing to do, so I thought I would come and see you.))

"That's awfully thoughtful of you, Aldrea." Dak admitted as he, with some difficulty, turned around while keeping his hands over the patch in a poor attempt to hide it. "I didn't even hear you coming. Did you come here with the Chadoo morph?" He voiced carefully, making sure he sounded as inconspicuous as possible.

Aldrea nodded. ((I wanted to try and practice being in the morph a bit before I came here. Also I wanted to see if I could track down any other animals I could use a morph . . .)) She silently noted Dak's nervous fidgeting and obvious desire to make sure he was the only thing in her line of sight. His constant glances towards whatever was behind him didn't help anything either.

He was hiding something.

((Dak, what are you hiding?))

"Pardon?" Dak stuttered nervously.

((Don't bother trying to hide it. It's obvious you're hiding something.)) Aldrea crossed her arms.

"W-what do you mean?"

((You keep fidgeting and looking back at me and behind your back like some sort of guilty child.)) Aldrea pointed out blatantly.

"What? I-I-I am not!" Dak all but exclaimed, feeling his face grow hot.

((Dak, you are many things but you are a horrible liar.)) Aldrea raised an eye-ridge at him. ((Now, what are you hiding from me?))


((Dak . . .))

". . . . . . . . . . . If I show you, you'll laugh."

((What? Dak, I won't laugh.))

"That's what you say now, but what happens later; you laugh."

((Dak, I give you my word, I won't laugh.))

". . . . . . . . . . . . . . You swear you won't laugh?"

((I just said that I gave you my word, didn't I? Don't worry, you can trust me.))

Dak still didn't look too sure. Regardless, he let out a relenting sigh and stepped out of the way. What Aldrea saw next made her eyes go wide in surprise.

On the bare patch of the tree was a simply little drawing. Clearly drawn by soot and burnt twigs, it held some smudges and scrapings that were made by big fingers and claws.

But it was what the drawing was that caught her attention.

With a small tail-blade, four sets of eyes and a mouth-less face along with the small arms and little flank, it was easily recognizable as an Andalite female. But not just any female.

It was her.

Drawn in burnt twig and on a much smaller scale as though by a child, was her.

She could tell Dak was rubbing his neck in embarrassment without even looking at him.

Unable to think of response, Aldrea simply blinked then suddenly broke out into a cheery laugh.

Dak instantly felt his face grow hot as he said indignantly, "Hey! C'mon, you said that you wouldn't laugh! Aldrea!" Aldrea continued laughing nonetheless. Now totally embarrassed, Dak turned away from her and huffed, "I'll admit it's not exactly the best, but it really isn't that horrible to laugh at –"

((No!)) Aldrea choked out as she continued her mirth.

"Huh?" This time, Dak was the one blinking at her in confusion.

After a moment or two, Aldrea finally controlled herself long enough to say, ((No, Dak, I'm sorry.)) She apologized with an eyeful smile. ((I wasn't laughing because it was bad.))

"Really?" Dak said curiously. "Then why were you laughing?"

((Hhmn . . . . I'm laughing because it's probably the most amazing thing I've ever seen.))

Dak's eyes went wide in surprise. After a minute or two, he choked out, ". . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . R-Really?"

Composing herself, Aldrea nodded. ((Yes, really.))

Dak felt his hearts thud rapidly. He desperately hoped that even with her excellent hearing, Aldrea wouldn't be able to hear them. He also felt warm for some inexplicable reason. In spite of himself, Dak smiled brightly, twisting the grotesque features on his face enough to scare the living hell out of everybody who didn't know him, as he chuckled, "I'm glad you like it!"

Aldrea saw this smile and quickly turned away as she also felt her face grow hot. Looking up at the drawing again, she asked, ((Dak?))


((. . . . . Do you think you can make a bare patch for me to use too?))

". . . . Sure."