Gryphon of Glass bonus scene: Safe
Socks crouched under the bed, eyes wide, every muscle ready to run, every hair on end, her tail lashing behind her.
The safe place wasn’t safe.
It had been so nice, for so long, to have a warm, protected place, with people who fed her, with soft dogs to boss around. There were sunny windowsills and plush couches to sharpen her claws on, and sometimes she even let people touch her belly. (But not often.)
The food was filling and the water was fresh, when she reminded them, and her stomach was never empty for long. She could hunt, but didn’t have to, which was a pleasant change from her younger, wilder, harder life. Even being dragged to the horrible place for the pinches and prods was a small price to pay for the comfort of a real home, with a real person of her own.
But that wonderful world was upended now, by the cold and the dark.
She could still feel the ice in her paws and the blackness that had crept up into her bones. It was an enemy she couldn’t fight with claws or teeth: a terrible, powerful presence that had tried to take her, that would have succeeded if the…thing hadn’t dragged her away.
The thing faced her now, from the edge of the bed.
He wasn’t a cat, and he wasn’t prey, and he was somehow both of those things, all at once. He had hind paws like hers, and a tail not half as beautiful, with only a spare tuft of good fur at the end. But in the front he had the beak of a bird, and a feathered crest, and wings like her favorite quarry. Front paws ended in mobile claws, not as usefully retractable as hers were.
He was similar in size to her own perfect form, and when he folded down his wings, he could crawl under with her into the defensible space beneath her person’s bed.
Socks yowled at him, half in warning, half in yearning. She wanted to be safe again. She wanted comfort. But she didn’t want to be caught wanting those things. She was fierce and independent! She was strong and swift and self-sufficient! She didn’t like to be helpless and frozen with darkness.
The thing was close now, moving slowly, clacking his beak at her in a way that was almost comforting. The feathers on his wings rustled quietly.
Then he began to purr, and Socks helplessly closed her eyes.
Purrs were safe. Purrs were pets and clever fingers that scratched the places that liked to be scratched. Purrs were not having to be afraid.
Purrs were home.
The thing crept close to her, and crowded near, but Socks didn’t feel afraid. He was not always a thing, he was sometimes a person, and a person who had been respectful of her space and given her the treats that were her due. Not her person, but her person’s person.
A safe person.
The person-thing’s beak rubbed the place behind her ear that was hard to reach with dignity and Socks felt her own purr, bubbling up inside her against her will.
He had saved her, she was safe.
He smelled weird, and he wasn’t a cat, and he wasn’t a person, entirely.
But he was a friend.
And she was safe.