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Title: Home
Fandom: H Beam Piper's "Little Fuzzy"
Rating/Pairing: G, gen
Summary:Home is where your Fuzzies are. Written for David Hines for yuletide 2008.




Some things in life, Jack Holloway mused, you didn't appreciate until they were gone. Other things, you didn't realize how badly you needed them until they were there. Sure as the sun rose, fuzzies were one of the latter, and he'd wager a sunstone or two that Little Fuzzy hadn't realized how much he needed a Pappy Jack either.

"Yeek," Little Fuzzy murmured contentedly, and snuggled against Jack. He had eaten well of the Extee Three, and was drowsy and lethargic.

"What," Jack said, "you can read minds now too? Is that it?"

"Yeek." Little Fuzzy tilted his head up with an expression of pure innocence -- who, me? -- and Jack grinned down at him.

"Hm. 'Course you can't," he said, solemnly, "what was I thinking?"

"Yeek," Little Fuzzy agreed.

#

(Later, even when the fuzzies had learned to speak human talk -- they were smart, but then again, Jack had pretty much always understood how smart they were -- they would sometimes get sleepy enough or excited enough or distracted enough that they would revert to their native speech register. Jack still owned the ear pieces that would make them properly audible, but sometimes, when it wasn't an obvious emergency, he didn't bother using them, and just listened to the yeeking.

It was a comforting noise for him. Home-noise. He'd never been one for liking constant sound just for its own sake, being of a more solitary sort, but the yeek of a fuzzy just made everything feel somehow better.)

#

It had been a long couple of days. Ben Rainsford had called him into Mallorysport, "and don't bring any of the fuzzies," he'd warned. Which made sense (if nothing else, they'd have been incredibly bored by all the legalities involved, and a bored fuzzy was a fuzzy getting into trouble) but just served to make Jack that much crankier; he was getting too used to their presence. And the legal Nifflheim he found himself in, which was supposed to only be a few hours at most, ended up dragging on for several days.

He hadn't told any of his family of fuzzies what was going on, just that Pappy Jack would have to be gone for the day, and he'd be back as soon as possible, and if they were good he'd give them some extra rations of Extee Three. They had all yeeked solemn promises that they'd behave.

When he did come home, exhausted and cranky and frustrated at all the people who just plain didn't understand fuzzies, he half expected the fuzzies to swarm out and greet him.

The house was ominously dark, and there was not a one to be seen.

His first thought was panic: Had someone come by and stolen them, or killed them? Had a damnthing stopped by for a tasty meal of fuzzies? Were they--

"Yeek?"

--totally covered in paint...? Jack stared, but Mama Fuzzy just blinked innocently back at him and gave a reassuring yeek. Baby was with her, polka-dotted with random splashes of color, and he bounded happily over to Jack and scrambled onto his head.

What the devil were they doing?

Mama gave another yeek and scampered back inside. The first had been a hello-Pappy-Jack, don't-worry-we're-okay sort of yeek, he figured, and the second a clear stay-there-for-now message.

Strange creatures, those fuzzies.

Little Fuzzy appeared a moment later, greeting Jack with a yeek and an exuberant hug, and then poked Jack and covered his eyes with his hands. He repeated the process a few times until Jack figured out these were instructions. Obediently, he shielded his eyes with one hand (and felt Baby's hands, soft and tiny but quite strong, covering his), and held out the other hand for Little Fuzzy to take.

"I don't know what you all have been up to," he commented, as he let his Fuzzy guide him slowly inside. "Better not be getting into any sort of trouble."

Little Fuzzy reassured him with a yeek, and then tugged him to a stop. "Yeek," he said, and Baby Fuzzy helpfully started prying Jack's hand away from his eyes.

It took a moment for Jack to realize what he was seeing; at first it was just a chaotic jumble of colors. And then, as his eyes adjusted, he realized that his darling family of Fuzzies had painted the entire house. All of the walls and even ceilings were covered with swirls of color. None of the electronics had been painted -- the viewscreen, for example, had a few stray drips but was otherwise untouched, and his gun rack was clear -- but every area that could hold color, now did.

"Yeek?" Little Fuzzy said, watching Jack, anticipation fading into wariness: did we do something wrong?

Jack started to laugh. "It's wonderful," he assured them, and gathered them all up into a giant hug. Some of the colors would take some getting used to, but, heck, his life had gone through enough changes lately; one more wouldn't make much of a difference. "Dunno where you got the paint, but that doesn't matter. It's wonderful."

Little Fuzzy was the first to squirm out of the hug pile, but that only because he wanted to show Jack something. When Jack followed him to the bedroom, one of the walls had something that was more like a mural than the abstract coloring in other areas.

It wasn't lifelike by any means, but Jack could tell immediately what it depicted: at the edges, damnthings and bush goblins and harpies and other dangers; in the center, a group of fuzzies along with a larger white-haired fuzzy that was probably meant to be Jack; and between the two, a rainbow arcing like a shield.

"Yeek," Little Fuzzy said, and he grabbed Jack's hand and placed it against the pile of fuzzies. The paint there was still slightly wet, which meant that there was a palm-sized imprint at the heart of it all. Murmuring to himself, Little Fuzzy placed his own smaller hand flat inside the handprint, nested inside Jack's. And then, with great ceremony, he took one of the sunstones from his collection -- a tiny baby-jellyfish one with a weak enough glow that it wasn't really worth much -- and glued it to the middle of his own handprint.

He then stepped back, proudly, as if to say: Look, Pappy Jack, I drew home.

Jack looked at the painting for a long time, absently stroking Little Fuzzy's soft fur, and then he said, solemnly, "Yes, you did. Thank you."

"Yeek," Little Fuzzy said happily, and snuggled up against him.

#

Yep, Jack decided, humming to himself. Life was definitely better with a Fuzzy or twelve around.

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