Dag turned her head into Yasna’s shoulder, murmuring sleepily. It was so pleasant to not be on young-flock duty, and required to sleep in that room with its chancy door latch and the odours and noises imperfectly kept out by the too-thin door. Not that any thickness of door would help against the annoyed screeches of a bird the equivalent of a human toddler, screaming because a stuffed toy would not do what it was supposed to do.
Yasna had come back up river after his clients, with the blessings of his abbot, to stay several days. The bed was so warm. It was so comfortable. She was in a drowsy haze, half asleep, absolutely certain that she was hearing the young flock cheeping in their sleep.
“I’ve been raising chicks too long,” she muttered into Yasna’s ear. He grunted, shifted onto his side and drew her in close, shoving the sweat-damp pillow out of their nest. She pillowed her head on his bicep.
The quilts were a comfort, thick and heavy enough to keep the chill out, even if it managed to worm its way into the sun-warmed rock of the rooms created for the code-workers and chick-raisers of Lainz. Yasna yawned. She could feel his jaw move against her head and she kept her eyes resolutely closed. She had promised herself a sleep-in, once she was off chick-duty. It was a bit like being a new mother.
Yasna raised his head, and froze. “Dag,” he said, carefully calm. “Don’t jump, or yell, or we’ll have a bit of a mess on our hands. You need to wake up and look at this, as calmly as you can.”
What? Dag opened her eyes and realized that all she could see, really, was Yasna’s armpit, raised her head to look at what he was looking at so intently. Their bed was covered with her favourite blue quilts, and a half a dozen balls of rusty brown and white feathers. “Oh, dark,” she whispered.
Chicks, when they woke, stood up and defecated where they stood. Her chick... she could see the edge of its leg band, had apparently abandoned the flock and managed to bring its closest flock-mates to find her. Of course it had somehow figured out how to open the doors to her rooms. She could just see the bedroom door, half-open, without raising her head to startle the chicks awake.
No wonder they were so warm... with all these feathers on top of them. Her chick was on her hip. She could just feel the tickle of claws punched through the quilt, the whistling snore as it... and the others slept. Who would have thought that warbird chicks would snore?
A thunderous knock at her front door made her jump, and Yasna and... oh, endarkened... all the chicks shot to their feet, and did what chicks do. “Aw, ownershit!”
“Dag... Dag there’s chicks missing... oh.” It was Zara, peeking in. She took in the chick and guano covered bed. “Oh. Not anymore, oh dear. I’m sorry.” But she couldn’t stop giggling as Dag and Yasna slid out from under the flock, landing bum first on the stone floor, to keep the dunged quilt from slopping over and covering them with bird doo. “I’m sorry. I guess your bird missed you!”