Drip. Drip. Drip. The sound of water falling from damp clothing resonated in the quiet of the bar as the small bitty took refuge beneath a row of cabinets. It had been foolhardy, Bee now realized, to venture outside to the trash bins for supplies. His small size and the heavy rain just were not a good match, he should have just waited it out until the weather had improved.
Besides, here in the kitchen of a popular little restaurant he had found himself very well off. There was never a shortage of food or drink and all the heavy set low lying furniture allowed him ample hiding space. It was a prized living space, but it came with many dangers... specifically in the form a the large purple fire elemental that owned it.
Bee was in constant fear of being caught and had taken to living in a small space he had carved out between the walls, the only entrance being a small hole behind a heavy metal table. He'd then filled it with finds he got from his journey's outside, stuff he couldn't get from the bar such as fabrics for his bed. Not to mention any shiny knick knacks he found of aesthetic value.
Removing his ratty old coat he wrung it out onto the growing puddle on the floor and around his bare feet. He shivered a bit; it was getting cold out and winter was right around the corner. The bitty would need to dry off before he got sick.
With a final shake of his damp clothing, Bee entered the small opening into his home.
Dante took another long swig of bourbon, his flames popping and crackling as the liquid evaporated through him. The papers in front of him were beginning to sway a little, a sure sign that he needed to finish up and get the fuck in bed. Sighing, he finished reading the last page, giving it a thorough look over before setting it with the others and finishing his drink.
Padding back through the bar, he pulled on the front door, satisfied that it was locked, and turned, only to see the reflection of his flame in the darkness. Frowning, Dante knelt down to get a better look, only to hiss as he caught the sight of several tiny puddles of water that lead from one wall to another, then back towards the kitchen. Cursing under his breath, he rubbed at his face before standing fully up. He'd deal with it in the fucking morning.
From the moment he woke up Bee knew it was gonna be a rough day. His head felt like it was stuffed with cotton, his nasal aperture dripped with an unappealing blue liquid and he was sore and achy. He'd gotten sick, great.
With a groan the bitty buried himself deeper into his nest of fabric and cotton, wishing to do nothing else but go right back to bed and sleep the whole day away. But he couldn't. His magic rumbled with hunger as if to remind him he'd forgotten to eat last night and he had nothing on hand in his little hidey hole to tide him over until he was well again. Sickness or no Bee would need to get some food, maybe actually bring some back for storage.
But that could wait til later, like another hours rest wouldn't hurt right? Surely there was plenty of time before the owner showed up...
In a blink the bitty fell back asleep, snuggled deeply into his nest and not realizing that his time to sneak around was already slipping away. Soon the bar would be open and the kitchen would become dangerous.
Setting the final glass behind the counter, Dante flung the spent towel over his shoulder, hands settling on his hips as he surveyed the bar. The tables were all set with silverware and napkins, the extra napkin dispensers were all stacked to the brim, the chairs shone with the furniture polish he'd used to wipe them down, and the floor was dirt free. Everything was prepared in the kitchen, all of the taps were set to go, and the last glass was clean and in place.
Huffing a puff of smoke, he narrowed his eyes at the corner of the room between the wall that separated the kitchen and behind the bar. It was where the water puddles had been the night before, and he'd found small scraps of torn cloth and pieces of food strewn around the tiny hole in the wall for the past several months.
He was at least 75 percent sure there was a mouse, or even a nest of mice in the wall, but it hadn't really bothered him until more recently. Someone had complained of hearing weird noises in his dumpsters after nightfall, and had warned him that the human's health codes were more or less harsh about these kinds of things.
Rolling his eyes, Dante walked over to the bar counter, to a plastic bag that waited for him. Reaching inside with a crackle, he carefully pulled out a package of mouse traps, the things looking frail and, yet, at the same time like a horrible way to die. Well, it was either the mice or his livelihood, so mouse traps it was. Glancing over at the tiny hole, he grimaced. He could only hope the pitiful creatures would die fast...and not where customers would hear them.
One hour somehow turned into several hours and then a few more sprinkled on top for good measure before Bee next woke. The sleep helping little with the sickness he still felt, now compounded with a lovely headache that beat against his skull like a drum.
"Whyyyyyyyy..." the bitty whined out as he rubbed his blue flushed face against his nested fabric before a bang had him sitting upright with a start. It took a few more bangs before his thoughts caught up with him and he realized with growing dismay that it was the sounds of cooking. The owner had shown up and depending on what time it currently was, the guy wouldn't be leaving for hours yet, since it was a bar and it did cater to a more evening clientele.
His magic rumbled in his gut informing him the need for food if he was gonna flush the sickness out. But that would mean risking being seen, scooting around the edges of the kitchen while the flame was awake and very much active. Should he risk it?
With a groan the bitty rose from his nest, wobbling a bit on his feet as he tried to get his bearings. His vision still swam but he was determined as he stumbled his way to the entrance of his little hidey hole and peaked out a bit. Though instead of being face to face with a clear floor, there was now something strange sitting there. But more importantly was the fact that this strange something had food! Even through his clogged nose Bee was able to get the faint waft of peanut butter, the deliciously tantalizing substance piled high onto, whatever the thing was.
Without even thinking the bitty reached for it, not yet realizing the huge mistake he was making until his right hand grasped for his prize. The gut churning snap of bone and the cry of pain signaled the springing of the trap, metal bar coming down to ensnare the poor hapless bitties arm and breaking his humerus.
Bee was to dazed and confused to realize what was going on, attempting to backpedal away only to lock up in pain. It didn't take long for the poor creature to give in and curling up into the fetal position and starting to cry.
At first, he didn't notice the screaming. In the din of the bar, the service in full swing, it was hard to hear much of anything that wasn't some monster yelling his name to get his attention for more beer, or a refill of fries. But, after he'd had a minute to himself near the back of the front room, he finally noticed the small cries of pain that came from...where he'd set up the mouse trap. That didn't... that didn't sound like a mouse. Panic settling in his gut, Dante moved carefully around the wall to where the hole was; the mouse trap had indeed gone off, but nothing was trapped inside. Instead, something small was trembling beside it, next to the wall in a curled up ball of what he could only assume was pain.
"Shit." He knelt down, getting a better look at the tiny thing, noting that it was definitely not a mouse, but...he thought it was called a Tiny? Whatever it was called, the little thing was bleeding out on his floor, and was still trembling, sobbing through its teeth.
"Hey, uh..shit, can you hear me? Little dude?"
When the large monster started talking to him, Bee initially didn't hear him or respond. His body was still wracked with pain as his magic bled out from the arm that was still stuck in the mousetrap. The injured bitty was sobbing hard and a panicking feeling was starting to consume his soul. Bee was losing feeling in his fingers, a fine dust starting to drift from them.
The injury and metal bar was disrupting the bitties magic greatly.
It was only then, with his eye-lights no longer closed and pushed against the kitchen floor, that he noticed the flickering of purple light. Sockets turning and pupils blown wide at the site of the large fire monster, who was now looking very much at him.
He'd not heard what Dante had said, body trying to push itself more against the wall as he cried out. Big, fat tears rolling down his freckled cheeks, he begged. "Don-... don't hurt me. Pl-please."
Dante flinched, stepping back a bit so he wasn't towering over the clearly terrified dude. "I'm not gonna hurt you, fuck." Glancing back at the mouse trap, he swore as he noticed the dust pile slowly growing, the little guy's arm slowly adding to it. Nearly in a panic himself, he gently grabbed the metal bar, grunting a low "sorry..." before ripping it up and off the board. The thing was free now, but was still obviously in pain, his arm not getting any better.
"Uh, shit, I'm gonna go grab some candy, stay there please? Fuck, never mind, hold on little dude." Scooping him up with carefully warm hands, he winced as he jostled the little dude's arm, and tried to ignore the feeling of dust on his fingers. Hurrying to the back room, he ignored the calls of concerned customers and his hired help. He knew he had monster candy somewhere, in some jar... somewhere back here.
Everything was a blur to Bee after the fire monster had removed the metal bar of the mousetrap. The sudden release of pressure causing him to cry out and pull the disintegrating limb close to his body. His tears were not stopping and he was barely registering what the bar owner was saying to him, to focused on the marrow soaked sleeve of his jacket.
It was then then his whole body shifted, he was surrounded by warmth but it brought no comfort as his arm jostled. Bee was crying harder now, the feeling of numbness in his arm was starting to spread and rapidly. Once the process really started, it was difficult to stop. Consuming a fallen monster in minutes or a tiny limb in seconds.
First one finger and then two and slowly his hand started to disappear.
Don't look at the dust, don't look at the dust, Dante chanted in his head as he scrambled around the kitchen, knocking shit over and breaking things in his desperate attempt to find the stupid ass jar of monster candy. Listening to the little guy sob his soul out was breaking what little heart Dante still had in him, making his hand shake as he moved stuff to the side, desperate to find the jar.
Finally, he found the small brown jar he knew he was looking for, picking it up and smashing it down on the counter before grabbing up one of the smaller shards of candy.
"Here, eat this, fuck, quick man, eat!"
With his hand gone and the dusting continuing up his sleeve, Bee was barely aware of the commotion and noise around him. The utter chaos the elemental was creating within the kitchen as he searched for, whatever it was he was searching for. The bitty didn't really have the wherewithal to grasp much outside his body’s pain.
It was only when something was shoved against his teeth and he bit it on instinct that his brain started to catch up. The strange food entering his body, its vibrant green magic mingling with the natural blue of his soul before spreading out to the injured arm. Bee's body pulsed with it and he whimpered as the shattered bones began to knit themselves together.
The dusting also halted.
It was only when the process was slowing down that the grim realization of the ordeal showed itself. The dusting had stopped yes, but everything below the elbow of his right arm was nothing but dust. Dust that leaked from the sleeve of his ratty coat and pooled in the flame monsters hand.
The bitty was in shock and didn't know what to do, as he continued to lay within the hand of the elemental.
Dante stared hard at the tiny thing, gently placing him under both of his hands under him before sitting against the cabinets. Taking a deep, calming breath, he looked down to where the little dude's arm had once been... and frowned as it became apparent that most of it was gone. He'd been too late.
The little guy seemed to be in shock, which was maybe why he was still okay with the person responsible for maiming him still holding him.
Shit. Leaning his head back against the cabinet door, Dante wondered what the fuck he was supposed to do now. The tiny probably didn't want to stay here, but he couldn't just let him go back to how he was living before. This was obviously the cause of the trash being gotten into and the missing food in his kitchen. It was never enough to really be a bother, but enough that Dante noticed.
Where could he take him? He didn't even know what the little guy was called, let alone if they were sold at something like a shelter or a pet store. He needed to figure this out before the little dude tried something drastic to get away from him...letting him leave would be the same as letting him die at this point.
The little bitty just laid there, mind trying to process what all had happened and let his emotions catch up. In the span of a few minutes his entire world had changed and most likely not for the better.
With a trembling hand Bee grasped at what once had been his arm, empty sleeve giving way to his grip easily. Not to mention the uncomfortable wetness of marrow that had heavily soaked into the fabric. Hot tears stung at his little sockets once more, slipping down his cheeks without his consent but he didn't allow himself to cry out. Instead just allowing himself to lay there within the nestled warmth of the hand beneath him.
Bee had nearly forgotten the large flame monster that still held him.
Slowly he turned hazy trembling eye-lights up at the purple elemental, his instincts screaming at him to get up and get away but his body wasn't listening. The bitty was just so tired. Tired from his sickness, tired from the magic loss, tired from the crying and the trauma. Really if he could just curl up and sleep for a week, just forget about everything that would be ideal.
So instead of getting up, so instead of trying to run... he just laid there and curled further into a ball. "What..." he rasped out, throat protesting its use, "wh-what you gonna do to me?"
Dante's eyes, or what served as his eyes, glanced down at the clearly terrified Tiny, gritting his fangs. That was a very good question, but he didn't like how it was asked.
"I'm not gonna do shit to you." Best to get that out of the way first. He'd sooner drown himself in the shower upstairs than purposefully hurt something that couldn't even fight back. Sighing, he let his head bang back against the cabinet door. "But I do need to take you somewhere...I can't heal worth two shits."
Glancing back at the door that lead to the bar, he could hear the worried patrons now that the panic was no longer making his head fuzzy and useless. They would want to know what the fuck'd happened, why he'd run to the back like he had. His workers would want to know why the fuck he'd essentially trashed the back room. Grumbling to himself, he decided it would probably be best to see if anyone out there had a tiny of their own or knew where the hell to take the little guy for help.
Bee flinched at the harsh language, despite the words technically being reassuring. The bitty really didn't know what to think of this large monster that had caught him and now held sway over his fate. What would become of him now? Where would this monster take him?
The little guy did not like the prospect of being taken somewhere. All that did was bring back bad memories of his life before the streets, before he had taken up residence in the back of a bar. A time when he was so much younger, shut away in a tiny cage with a bunch of other unwanted bitties in a thing they called a 'shelter'. Sure humans would come to look at them and some where adopted but never him. He was to plain, to normal, he had nothing that set him apart from the other bitties.
So he escaped, left that place behind and forged a new life for himself... only to be caught and... and... would he be sent back?
Looking up he saw the flame elemental was no longer looking at him, attention focused towards the noise on the other side of a door. Bee didn't know what to make of those sounds but his body was trembling and his mind racing he blurted out "p-please don't take me back. I d-don't want to go back, no-not again."
Dante frowned softly, the fear in the little guys voice palpable. What had he been through, to be so scared about going to a shelter? Or whatever place these little Tinys were sold, adopted, what the fuck ever. Lifting his hands so he was eye to eye with the tiny guy, Dante glanced around his shop. Sighing, he came to a decision.
"I won't leave you there. Either you can stay here, or go home with someone outside, but...shit." Rubbing a hand over his face, he tried to not cringe at the words coming out of his own mouth. Who was he to make promises? What if he took the Tiny to a place and they wouldn't give him back? It wasn't like the flame had the best reputation. Gritting his fangs, he set his jaw. "No matter what, I won't leave you in some shit shelter. I promise."
For the first time since he'd been caught in the trap, Bee managed to sit himself upright in the flames hands. He scrubbed at his face with his good sleeve, trying to rid it of the stray tears that still clung to his flushed cheeks. The little bitty looked into the face of the much larger monster as he was raised up, now fully face to face with the purple flame.
For the first time that day a small glimmer of hope shown in those hazy blue eye-lights. Did they meant it? Would they really not be sent back to the shelter? Did he... did he finally have a home for the first time?
"Re-really?" Bee stuttered out, subconsciously holding himself and his now stump of an arm. He didn't want to dare to hope to much, like everything else this could be taken away from him in a second. But Bee had been alone for so long, that he couldn't help let his thoughts slip past his mouth. "I can... I can have a real home?"
It nearly broke the heart he didn't have, hearing those words and how they trembled in the air between them. It made him feel strange emotions that he wasn't used to, a soft warmth of protectiveness lighting in the middle of his belly. Even if the little guy didn't end up staying with him, he'd make damn sure he went home with someone he could trust.
"Yeah, buddy, you can. First we gotta get you fixed up, though, okay?" He could only hope that it went smoothly. He still had to figure out where the hell to get him help that wouldn't also keep him from taking the little guy home. Anxiety roiled through his flames, tinting them a pale blue even as he tried to smile at the Tiny.
Bee tried to smile back, as small as it was but it quickly turned to worry at the flames words. Little hand squeezing what remained of his arm as he still held himself in a hug, the sting of pain a wake up call again to what had happened that day. That as much as he wanted to move on, hope to be taken straight to the home he'd not yet known and just allow himself to collapse… he couldn't.
"O-okay" he muttered out, even as he watched the vibrant purple flames get tinted with blue. Bee didn't know what that meant, this was the first flame monster he'd ever seen (first monster period he'd ever interacted with, as the shelter had been run by humans.) Was it good? Was it bad. All the bitty knew was that he'd put his future in the hands of the monster before him and he could only hope for where things went from here.