Lost Inside Chapter 11
He wasn’t very tall. Yuri could see the top of his bald head, even standing several feet away. The cat was stacked with rounded muscles on his arms, shoulders, and chest though, and he was breathing hard, his ears flicking back and forth.
Yuri stumbled back. He tripped over the edge of the flower bed along the yard and landed on his ass in the dirt.
“You’re….” The words died in his throat. He shook his head, blinking rapidly. He was having a hard time breathing too. Ellis dropped to his knees next to him, holding on to his shoulder and patting his back. Yuri reached for him, needing something to hold on to. Ellis winced but didn’t say anything when his claws peeked out from his fingertips.
Benny took a step back. “I’m sorry!” His hands clenched into fits and the stripes on his arms, just like the ones Yuri had, pulsed with the muscles’ movement.
It was… he was… Yuri made a sound in his throat and his ears flattened.
“You’re safe. It’s okay. I’ll go, I promise.” Benny held up his hands, stretching his fingers out. “You’ll be safe.” His voice broke and he took a step back.
“No!” Yuri jolted forward. “Don’t leave.” He scrambled forward, racing for Benny. Those hands, held out to him.
He knew those hands.
“You can’t go.” Yuri latched onto Benny, wrapping one arm over his shoulder and one under and locking his hands behind his back. “You can’t.” He had a mate. He knew it was this Tiger, even if he didn’t remember how he knew.
“Oh god.” Benny shook in his arms, and Yuri squeezed tighter. No one else existed, it was just them. The spicy scented man buried his face in Yuri’s neck and shook with great, silent sobs. He’d never seen someone cry like that.
“Are you hurt? Did I hurt you?” Yuri always had to watch his claws and his strength. How could he forget the first time he got to touch his mate? He was a bad mate. That must have been why Benny left. “I’m sorry. I won’t hurt you again.” Yuri let go of his mate, holding his hands out stiffly so he wasn’t touching the shaking man, but Benny didn’t let go.
“Didn’t.” The word was so quiet, shoved out between the sobs, Yuri nearly didn’t hear it. The littles always shrieked so loud and calmed down so fast. Yuri wanted Cleara to help him stop Benny. He didn’t see her. Maybe he could do what she did.
“Shh. It’s okay.” Yuri smoothed Benny’s black shirt down, rubbing with the inside of one fist, his claws turned inward. He wasn’t going to risk even snagging the fabric with his claws. His didn’t have soft, feathery hair like the little Falcon kids did, looking bald from a distance, but up close there were little hairs that prickled Yuri’s hand when he caressed Benny’s head with the back of his fingers, hushing him again. “You gotta calm down.”
As a last resort, Yuri started swaying side to side. He liked rocking and began to purr. Rub, rock, purr. Rub, rock, purr. His mate’s sobs began to slow. Yuri titled his head sideways and rested his cheek on the prickly side of Benny’s head. It was like his face when it got all bristly and Szorpin had to help him shave it all off. His ears were still fuzzy, but the hair was so light it was nearly invisible.
“You smell good.” He couldn’t stop smelling Benny. His mate hiccupped a little. Benny rubbed his face against Yuri’s neck and shoulder, over the puckered round scar he liked to play with sometimes.
“So do you.” His voice was ravaged. The man in his arms shuddered. “I missed you so much.”
“Then why did you leave?” He didn’t understand why his mate was there but wasn’t with him. “I didn’t know how much I missed you.”
“That’s a hard question to answer.” Benny cleared his throat.
Yuri frowned. He’d heard that before when he’d asked something he shouldn’t. “You sound like you just woke up. You want some water?”
“That’d be good.” They didn’t move.
“The water’s inside,” Yuri said. He took a step back. Benny stepped with him. Yuri grinned and took two quick steps back. Benny lurched forward. Yuri burst out laughing. Benny looked disgruntled, but the line between his eyebrows went away. He smiled.
“You look nicer now.” Yuri liked that smile. He wiped away some of the marks left from Benny’s soundless crying. That was better. He liked the way his mate’s eyes crinkled.
“Thanks.” They stared. They were so close, just inches apart. Would Benny kiss him? Did he want him to? Mates kissed; Yuri saw them do it. They must have kissed before, when they were together. Yuri tilted his head sideways, his gaze falling to Benny’s mouth.
His mate groaned.
The wrinkle was back between his eyes, his dark eyebrows bunching up. “You have no idea?” He pressed his lips together.
“Don’t do that. I like your lips all soft.” Yuri tugged on Benny’s bottom lip with his thumb. Benny smiled, his eyes still sad, but kissed the tip of his thumb.
“Okay.” It wasn’t like the kisses Yuri had spied on, when he wasn’t supposed to be up in the nighttime, but it was nice.
“Wanna come inside?” Yuri asked. He wanted to introduce his mate to the guy who came sometimes. He was always fun.
“Yeah. We were going to get water.” Benny cleared his throat.
Yuri smacked his forehead. “Oh! Oh yeah. Sorry.” Benny reached for his hand and held it gently. He twined their fingers together.
“Don’t hit yourself. It’s not your fault you didn’t remember. We got distracted trying to walk. I don’t want to let you go.”
He shouldn’t get distracted so easily; he knew that. He wasn’t normal. Yuri smothered the familiar sense of frustration and hid his frown when Benny shook their joined hands. Water. He repeated it a few times under his breath.
But how did they get inside still hugging? “I can’t let go of you. You might leave.”
“Tell you what. I’ll hold your hand, and I won’t let go.” Benny squeezed his hand. “I promise, I’m not going anywhere without you ever again.”
Slowly Yuri moved, watching Benny every long second until they were standing side by side. Benny even held onto his arm with his other hand when he rearranged their clasped hands so his fingers weren’t twisted sideways anymore.
“Water!” Yuri said.
“That’s right. We’re going inside for a drink. Everyone probably wants to talk to us too. I’m afraid I delayed your trip to the hospital.”
“Ew.” Yuri wrinkled up his nose. He opened up the door bolted into the cliff wall, pushing with his shoulder to get it wide enough for both of them. “Hospitals stink. I don’t want to go.”
“Ellis brought over the doctors to meet you, though. They want to help you, remember?”
“No,” Yuri said sharply. He hated it when people asked him if he remembered something. He never did. Well, almost never. He’d remembered Benny when it mattered. They went into the kitchen, and Yuri grabbed a glass and filled it with cold water from the tap with the blue band, all the while towing Benny back and forth across the long, narrow space with him.
Benny drank about half the water and then offered the cup to him. Yuri was kinda thirsty. He drained the rest in along drink, then blew out a hard breath.
“Yuri?” Szorpin stood in the entry to the living room. “You okay?”
“We’re fine,” Benny said. He tugged Yuri closer to him.
Szorpin didn’t move. “Yuri?”
“We’re fine.” He liked repeating his mate’s words. They were fine. Just fine. Fine, fine, fine. Yuri grinned. “This is Benny. I remember his name!” He pointed at his mate.
“We’ve met before.” Szorpin stepped into the kitchen and held out his hand. “Nice to see you again, Benny.”
An interesting red color crept up Benny’s neck and face. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for Yuri.” How did they know each other? Benny shook Szorpin’s hand. Yuri didn’t like them touching, so he pulled his mate back.
“We’re going to talk to Ellis,” Yuri announced.
“He’s in the living room with Cleara and the doctors.” The bell at the front of the house rang.
“Ding, dong, ding, dong.” Yuri liked the loud sound. “Ding, dong.”
Benny started laughing. Szorpin stopped on his way to answer the door, casting a shocked look over his shoulder at the laughing Tiger. He shook his head and left the kitchen, leaving them alone. Yuri watched his mate laugh in delight, finally joining him just because he liked it so much. They were leaning together, still chuckling, when Ellis appeared in the doorway.
“What’s so funny?” he asked.
“Yuri reset my ringtone on my phone ringtone to those old style bells the first night we met. Anytime my phone went off he’d ding and dong along with it. It just… reminded me.”
“Well, if you’re done being silly”—Ellis stuck out his tongue, so Yuri knew he wasn’t serious—“come in here. Bashta and Cavel just got here too. We were supposed to meet them at the hospital.”
“They came?” Benny sounded like he didn’t believe Ellis.
“If Ellis said they did, they did. He doesn’t lie,” Yuri told Benny. He wanted to make sure his mate knew that. Ellis didn’t lie. It was important to tell the truth. Yuri got really mad when people didn’t.
“No, I know he wouldn’t lie. I just wasn’t sure if they could make it all the way here.”
Ellis came into the kitchen. He stopped in front of them. He reached up and shook Benny by the shoulder. “Stop being so surprised that you have friends who want to help you. We all care about you, both of you.”
He reached up and hugged both of them at the same time. Ooh, group hug. Yuri really liked group hugs. He wrapped his free arm around Ellis and squeezed him back.
“Ouch, hey, easy.” Ellis squirmed. “Careful, Yuri, you’re too strong to hug me so hard.”
Whoops. “Sorry. I forgot again.” Yuri let the smaller man go.
Benny squeezed his hand. “You’re not too strong to hug me hard.” He flicked one ear and grinned. “I like it.”
Yuri didn’t know if that was a hint for a hug or not, but he gave Benny another one anyway. He had his mate again and could hug him anytime he wanted. He’d had sandwiches for lunch, and Ellis came over to visit.
It was a good day.
TBC on Wednesday with the Briefers!