[Hi! I recommend reading Little Dragon Girl and Bridgett Means Fire before this one.]
Bridgett yawned as she glanced at the video screens. The feed showed her nothing more than people working at their desks, no disruptions anywhere. She watched as a werecat aggressively hit on an awkward pencil pusher. It may be stopping productivity in that moment, but after they hit it off both of their productivity should sky rocket, so she had to allow it. Bridgett clawed at her uniform, nearly impossible to get it to fit right. She was over seven and a half feet tall and portions of her body were covered in bright green scales, after all. Most clothing made for women of that height were for bulky monsters like oni, manticores and ogres. For a dragon, Bridgett was quite slim. She turned on the monitor that showed her mother’s, Gwen, office. She had finally gotten off the phone with her husband and was poking at her laptop. Gwen was a small weresheep, surprising most when Bridgett mentioned who her mother was. She may have been Bridgett’s stepmother, but she hated calling her that; it felt almost disrespectful towards Gwen, she had been around for almost all of her life. Bridgett glanced at the clock, it was nearly noon. She let out a relieved sigh, “I’m goin’ on lunch,” She announced to the two other security guards in the room. They nodded and went back to whatever they were doing. Bridgett quickly walked through the offices towards her mother’s office. Her natural intimidating presence made others shy away from her, not that she minded. She went to knock on the door, stopping herself and chuckling. She grabbed the knob and turned it, walking right in and grinned. Gwen looked up from her work and returned the grin, “Hey, Mom.” “Hello, sweetie,” Gwen stood and stretched, “Is it lunch time already?” “Yeah.” “Let me do a few more things before we head out,” Gwen picked up a few papers and started sorting through them. Bridgett walked over to a shelf decorated with numerous small picture frames. She picked up a photo of herself in her old air force uniform with her carbine in hand. “Why do you keep this photo up, mom?” Bridgett groaned. “What? You look great in that one!” Gwen took it from her, smiling as she reminisced about nearly 13 years ago, “Your hair is a little short, but other than that, the uniform is quite dashing on you!” “I HATE how I did my hair back then,” Bridgett groaned again. She had been in a very rebellious state back then and had gone with a short, half shaved hair cut just to piss her father off, not that it worked much past an initial shock. “Does that matter to you that much, dear?” She looked at another photo of Bridgett at that time. She had been in a special unit designed to take advantage of certain monsters’ flight capabilities. Her team had been two dragons, three griffons, a harpy, a manticore, a jabberwock and a valkyrie. They didn’t see much combat against the anti-monster nations before most military units were dismantled as they were no longer needed. The few fights they had were on the water, taking boats or just blowing them up. “No... I just wish I wasn’t such a dumbass back then.” “You made your dad and I so proud. I’m just glad you came home safe.” “Yeah, Mary made sure of that,” Bridgett shook herself as memories came flooding back. She should have been the one to take that bomb, not that little harpy. Saved the whole team as she flew off into the sunset, “At least I look happy in these ones,” Bridgett looked at another photo. “Right out of the military and into the anti-terrorism unit,” Gwen sighed, “You didn’t give your father and I much time to be relieved that you had come home!” A photo of Bridgett with a wicked grin on her face standing next to two of her friends, Katherine Tora, a large jinko samurai and daughter of a close family friend, and Sarah Woods, an also large dog woman. All three wore different outfits and wielded different weapons. Bridgett in dragon scale armor that worked with her natural nearly bullet proof armor to give her protection all over her body and wielding a grenade launcher with an SMG on her hip. Katherine in samurai armor with her mother’s katana in hand and glaive on her back. Sarah wore heavy riot gear, riot shield in one hand with a shotgun in the other. “I had a good time cracking skulls there,” Bridgett chuckled, “Those two are great. I remember breaching a warehouse with just the three of us, just because our commanding officer told us to wait for backup. I always hated that bitch. Only left the force after being booted out when I punched my officer in the face.” “Whatever happened to Sarah?” Gwen wondered aloud. “Became the leader of an underground fight club. Been there a few times, pretty nice place. I got to throw around like, eight kobolds, once. I know that video is on youtube somewhere, I’ll have to show you sometime,” Bridgett chuckled. “O-oh... Wonderful. Look at you now. Nice, safe job where your father and I don’t need to worry about you anymore. Haven’t had to worry for the last five years.” “Yeah... Yeah...” Bridgett sighed as she clawed at her bright green scales, stopping herself from commenting on how boring the job is, “Can we head out soon?” She took her long brown hair out of a ponytail. “Oh! Right, yes,” Gwen grabbed her coat before the two of them headed out into the cold weather. A light snowfall fell around the two as they walked down the street. Bridgett frowned, hoping the snow wouldn’t stick, “You all set for Christmas?” Gwen asked, rousing Bridgett from her thoughts. “I guess so. I don’t have a ton of time to deal with that stuff.” “I know, dear. You’re always so busy. You should take a break from work soon, dear.” “Maybe...” Bridgett retreated into her thoughts again. “Bridgett?” Gwen called out to her daughter. “Huh?” Bridgett looked up from the table. “Are you alright? You’ve just been staring at the table for the past 20 minutes.” “Tired,” She picked up a fork and ate a bit of the chicken parmesan in front of her. “Bridgett,” Gwen spoke in a harsh tone suddenly, “I know that’s not the only thing bothering you.” Bridgett stretched, “I... I have no idea what to get dad for Christmas,” She admitted quickly. Gwen grinned, “You know you don’t need to give him anything. Just spending time with him is more than enough.” “But I want to! He put up with my bullshit for so many years now. I dropped the ball last year when I got him some tech stuff that nearly burned your house down,” Bridgett fidgeted, “After he put up with my THREE rebelious phases and me screaming how much I hate him on numerous occasions, I just want to do something that makes him happy.” Gwen kept smiling, “I understand, dear. You’re a smart girl, you will come up with something, I’m sure of it.” “Thanks, mom,” Bridgett let a small smile escape from her lips. “I was afraid you forgot how to smile. Finish eating, dear, we need to get back to work.” Bridgett frowned, “Do we have to? This is really nice.” “You know we do. Can I buy you some desert as well, dear?” “No, mom. Thank you.” Bridgett threw her bag on the ground as she walked into her house, “I’m home!” She shouted. She moved to the living room and plopped down on the couch, careful not to dig into it with her claws. She heard the sound of claws stomping across the hardened wooden floors. “Mommy!” A young dragon shouted as she leapt into her mother’s lap. She had green scales that matched her mother’s and brown hair, also like her mother’s. Her eyes were red and Bridgett had no idea where those came from in the family tree. “There’s my adorable little dragon!” Bridgett picked up her daughter and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “I’m not adorable! I’m cute! Rawr!” The tiny dragon bared her sharp teeth and brandished her claws. Bridgett smiled, her daughter reminded her so much of herself when she was little, “Don’t you threaten me!” Bridgett laughed as she grabbed her daughter, play-wrestling with her on the floor. The young dragon screeched with laughter as she grabbed at her mother’s arms, claws scraping harmlessly on her scales. “Welcome home, dear,” Bridgett’s husband yawned as he walked into the living room. He held their second daughter, Emily in his arms, barely a year old, her scales and horns were still forming. She had jet black hair and blue eyes like the woman she was named after, Bridgett’s birth mother, Emily. “Been sleeping on the job, Alex?” Bridgett let herself be pinned by her daughter. “N-no, Kaida wanted me to read to her,” Alex shifted nervously, “How was work?” He set the baby in her bouncer. “Boring. Lunch with mom was really great, at least,” She pushed her daughter off gently and approached her husband, placing a passionate kiss on his lips. They wrapped their arms around each other. Bridgett picked her husband up and sat him on the couch, lying across his lap, “Can you give me one of your famous massages after dinner?” Bridgett smiled and stretched out. Alex sighed and fixed his blonde hair. He stared at his wife with piercing green eyes, “Of course. What should I make for dinner, wifey?” “Burgers!” Kaida shouted as she jumped onto her parents. “Burgers,” Bridgett confirmed. “Burgers... Always burgers,” Alex sighed and tried to get up, only to be held down by two powerful dragons. “Not yet dear~” Bridgett stretched out, undoing the buttons on her blue security officer uniform, revealing her white under shirt. “I need a bit more time with you.” “Yeah, daddy! Mommy needs to rest!” Kaida latched onto her father’s arm. Bridgett jabbed two holes in the soda can with her claws. One to drink out of and the other to make it flow better. She passed it to her husband as her four year old daughter tried to copy her with the other can. Kaida’s claws and scales were not fully hardened yet so she struggled to pierce the thin aluminium can. Bridgett snatched it from her, “When you’re older, sweetie,” She promised to the pouting Kaida. Emily sat nearby in a baby seat. Alex let his daughter have a small sip of soda, “Any idea what you’re gonna get Theodore for Christmas?” Kaida spoke up, “I wanna get grandpa something nice for Christmas!” “I do too, sweetie,” Bridgett sighed and scratched her head underneath her horns, “But I have no idea what to get.” “You’ve known him for 32 years, Bridgett. What does he like?” Alex asked gently. “I’ve known grandpa for four years!” Kaida proudly announced with her mouth full of burger. “Take smaller bites, you’re gonna choke,” Alex scolded. “Well... He’s an artist. Maybe I could get him some art equipment?” Bridgett took small bites of her food, too busy with thought to eat much, “He likes... Video games and he used to watch anime with me. He likes guns, or at least used to, we used to go shooting in the woods before I got married.” “Get grandpa some dynamite!” Kaida recommended, “Grandpa liked the explosion videos I showed him on the internet!” “I like the idea of getting him some art stuff. What about Gwen?” Alex prodded. Even if he had been in the navy, he was never wholly comfortable with guns. “Easy, she needs new shears and would like a new bag. What about your parents?” Bridgett replied, leaning over to her daughter and wiping the ketchup off the young dragon’s face and turning to Emily, trying to feed her a small spoonful of baby food. “Some nice wine and a new wineglass set for mom and dad needs new jeans. They’re both human, so its easy.” “But my dad is human and I still have no idea what to get him!” “No, he's not human. He managed to do it with a dragon AND raise you after losing his wife. That man is MORE than human!” Alex laughed. “True. I am a handful,” Bridgett gave a sly smile and puffed out her chest, “In a few ways. Maybe I could get him some hobby stuff? He doesn’t do a lot these days. Takes care of the house and deals with Ross.” “I forgot that Ross still lives at home!” Alex recoiled in shock, “I thought Spohia Hamilton of all people had her eyes on him? Why is he not living in their fu-- flipping mansion?” “Uncle Ross is a deadbeat!” Kaida repeated something she had heard, probably from Bridgett. “Kaida, ssh. Yeah, she does. He’s living with them right now, trying to go full wizard. We’ve been over there and he just hides in his room, knowing I’d kick his arse for mooching off our parents like that,” Bridgett took a big bite of the juicy cheeseburger, savoring the taste as she continued to think, “She WANTS him to get wizard status before pouncing on him.” “Witches are so weird. That weirdness is doubled by her being Maxine’s kid and apprentice. And the fact that she takes after Lady Hamilton herself in personality and looks. Kinda funny that we see Samantha more than we see him. Since she’s so busy and all,” Alex chuckled. “She finished college and got married instantly. Three kids right out the gate,” Bridgett looked at a family photo from years back, right before Bridgett ran away to join the army. Bridgett stood between her parents, arms wrapped around them. Ross stood next to his mother, his hair matching her cream colored wool. Samantha stood next to Theodore, her fluffy brown wool matched his and Bridgett’s hair color. A massive family picture hung next to that. The grandparents were surrounded by their children and grandchildren. That one had been taken just last year, “Excited to see your cousins, Kaida?” “Yeah!” Kaida could hardly contain her excitement. “Please don’t wrestle with them again, I’m sure grandma won’t appreciate you breaking more of her stuff,” Alex sighed. “Aww!” ------ An explosion rocked the boat, sending Bridgett onto her stomach. She pressed herself to the floor as another explosion went off nearby, covering her head. She wanted nothing more than to go home, to see her father again. Alarms blared and people shouted around her. She was picked up off the floor and barked at by a griffon before being handed her trusty rifle. Another explosion. Her team was pushing their way back onto the deck to take off. Bridgett couldn’t take her eyes off of the wounded and corpses that fell in the hallways, shot by her comrades. Bridgett glanced down a side hallway just as a man came running in, fumbling with a gun. Without even thinking, she mag dumped into him, watching his face contort in pain before falling to the floor. She stood still, dumbfounded. Her jabberwock ally grabbed her arm and pulled her onwards, further and further away from the engine room. Bridgett felt like the bodies around her were grabbing at her ankles, begging her to save them. She kept running, tears stinging her eyes. She stumbled as she tried to dash up the stairs, she was pretty much carried up by the stoic jabberwock. As each girl got outside, they took off. Everyone else on the deck of the ship were too busy dashing for the lifeboats to stop them. The group flew in a tight formation, only turning around once the ship exploded, tearing in half in a flaming wreckage. The shockwave nearly knocked them from the sky. They all looked at each other, grim looks on their faces. ----- Bridgett woke up in a cold sweat, heart pounding. The darkness around her was suffocating, horrifyingly choking and terrible. She tried to get up, only to be grabbed and forced back onto the bed by a pair of strong arms. Arms wrapped around her head, holding her against her husband’s chest. She listened to his steady, calm heartbeat, focusing on his warmth and breathing. Her claws gently touched Alex, feeling his body, making sure he was real. He ran his fingers through her hair, trying to calm his loving murder machine down. He knew that if her stress increased she could involuntarily turn into a dragon and smash something. Bridgett forced herself not to cry, and failed at that, crying into her husband’s chest. “You did the right thing,” Alex whispered softly. “I should have listened to my parents,” Bridgett mumbled, finally calming down. “Was it an air force dream?” She nodded, “Yeah. Blew up that massive carrier boat.” “Pretty much won the war with that one dear,” He was embellishing the story, but it was a huge part in their victory. “So many people died. I killed so many people. Why do people have to fight? Why do people have to die in war?” Alex paused, “Humans have fought and warred and died forever. Now, there is peace and you played a huge part in it.” “Alex?” “What’s up?” “I’m gonna call in sick. I don’t want to go to work today. I just want my husband.” Alex winced as Bridgett buried herself into him, the sharp bits of her natural armor and claws dug into him, “A-alright. I’ve got work to do, but I’ll spend as much time as I can with you.” “Thanks.” “Mommy?” Kaida climbed onto the bed without being given permission and cuddled up to her parents. “You can’t sleep either, baby?” Bridgett put her daughter between her and her husband, holding them both close. “Where’s sissy?” “In her room, sleeping. Just like you should bem,” Alex yawned, unable to stretch as he was captured in Bridgett’s iron grip. “Go to sleep, both of you,” Bridgett nuzzled against both of them, closing her eyes and going back to listening to her husband’s breathing. Kaida went to sleep quickly. Alex sighed, wiggling free of the vice like grip of the dragon. He put a hand on her head, running his fingers through her long hair, “Sleep well, brave dragon.” Bridgett put the phone down and yawned. She smiled, happy to have a three day weekend. Her husband was already up and in his office, working. Kaida was poking at her baby sister who had been moved to the bed after being changed by Alex, “Mommy, is grandma going to be mad you’re not at work?” “No,” She chuckled, “She did tell me to have a day off, afterall. Is your sister done crying?” “Yes! I made her laugh like this!” Kaida made faces at Emily, making giggle, “Mommy can we have pancakes?” “Of course. I’ll get to making them soon,” Bridgett stretched and got out of bed. She picked up both her daughters and brought them downstairs, “Husband, do you want breakfast!?” Bridgett called through the closed office door. “Yes please!” Alex called back, “I’ll be down in a few!” Bridgett put Kaida on the counter and Emily in her high chair, “Mommy, can I help?” Kaida asked as she watched her mother grab milk, eggs and pancake mix. Bridgett smiled, “Thank you, but you’re a little young. Let mama take care of it,” Kaida pouted but didn’t voice her complaints, “When you’re older I’ll teach you how to cook all sorts of things.” “I wanna cook tacos and burgers!” “Your dad will have to teach you those,” Bridgett chuckled as she turned the stove on. She mixed the ingredients together and waited for the pan to finish heating up. She pressed her palm against the pan, feeling its heat, “Another minute,” She told herself, taking her hand away. “Mommy why can we touch the hot pan but daddy screams when he does?” “Because we have heat resistant scales. All three of us could survive for some time in a fire. Just don’t let the fire touch your hair, that's not very fire resistant. I know from experience.” “How?” “I was in a lot of fires when I was in the war and police force. Singed a lot of hair off.” “Was the war fun?” Kaida smiled at her mother, unknowing of the horrors Bridgett had seen. “No. Those people were just trying to protect their homes from us. I found no joy in it.” “What about being a police?” The four year old continued machine gunning out questions. “That was a good time. Mostly because of my friends and getting to goof around a lot. The people we fought there were bad, they just wanted to hurt good people,” Bridgett smiled a little bit. “Does mommy like her job now?” Bridgett poured the pancake mix onto the pan, “Its fine. Five years of what is basically a boring desk job where I can spy on your grandmother,” She knew all of this was going over her daughter’s head. It was still nice to talk to someone. “That sounds fun! At least spying on grandma does.” “Uhuh,” She tried to flip a pancake. It was too early, the runny pancake splattered all over the pan. Bridgett let out a low growl, frustration instantly coming to the surface. “Mommys' mad,” Kaida giggled. Bridgett ignored her, waiting longer on the other pancake. She wanted-- NEEDED it to be perfect for her husband. She waited until steam came off the pancake, flipping it quickly. She stared at the black surface of the pancake. She let out another loud growl. She picked up the pan, ready to break it in half, “Bridgett,” Alex spoke in a calming tone, “Are you okay?” “I just wanted to make good pancakes for once,” Bridgett set the pan down and stared at the floor. “You made it so its always good, Bridgett,” Alex gave her a wide grin. He looked at the floor at the destroyed pancakes, “I would have eaten those if they hadn’t touched the floor!” He let out a boisterous laugh. A smile broke through on Bridgett’s face, despite her emotional distress, “Thank you. Can you help me make the rest? Even if you WILL eat them, I want them to be good.” “I want good pancakes!” Kaida chimed in. The adults ignored her, “Of course,” They stood side by side in front of the stove, Bridgett towered over her husband. He could sense her stress, “Why do you do this yourself? Strain yourself over these tiny things?” “I dunno,” Bridgett poured pancake mix into the pan. “Come on, you can talk to me,” He prodded, trying to wrap his arm around her waist. “Let me be, Alex,” Bridgett growled, stepping away from him. “Bridgett, come on.” She broke, “I just want to do SOMETHING RIGHT in my life!” Bridgett shouted, “I just want to do SOMETHING GOOD! I’ve done nothing but make mistakes in my entire life, Alex!” She stared at Alex. “Bridgett, you’ve done a lot of good things well!” Alex retorted. “Like what?” “You did a good job in the war!” Bridgett growled, “I saw countless horrors in only a few years. I only joined because I had nowhere else to go!” “What about being on the police force?” “Made a mistake and got myself removed from the team!” Bridgett folded her arms. “But that bitch deserved it!” Alex challenged, “What about your current job? You’re making good money doing it.” “Getting this job was a mistake. I HATE it. It so BORING!” “But--” Both stopped arguing when they heard sniffling coming from the other side of the room. Kaida was sobbing, trying to hold back tears unsuccessfully, “Honey,” Bridgett sighed, “Don’t cry.” “Mommy and daddy are fighting,” She choked out. Even Emily was getting aggravated, billowing thick black clouds of smoke from her mouth. Bridgett turned back to the pan, just in time to watch the pancakes that were in there almost comically ignite, the heat had been put on too high. She sighed and picked up the pan, scraping the flaming food into the sink and poured water on it, “I’m done fighting with you.” Alex frowned for only a moment, “I’ll get breakfast going. Want to help still, Bridgett?” She shook her head and picked up Kaida, holding her close and rocking her gently, “Alright. Can you calm Emily down too? She’s gonna set the fire alarm off.” Bridgett scooped up her other daughter, weakly smiling at both of them, “Alex?” “Yeah?” He quickly got pancakes onto the pan. “I’m sorry for shouting at you,” Bridgett whimpered, begging for forgiveness. “Don’t worry about it. If you wanna talk more, let me know,” Alex smiled at her. Breakfast passed quietly, the only noise being Emily making babbling noises as she played with a toy in her highchair. Kaida managed to break the silence, “Daddy are we still going to the store today?” “I’ll go,” Bridgett answered for him. “Are you sure?” Alex was skeptical. “Yup. I just need something to break up the monotony. I’ll take both girls too.” “Yes!” Kaida bounced with excitement, “I get to go shopping with mommy~” “I’ll come with,” Alex offered. Bridgett shook her head, “You’ve got more than eight hours of work to do today, Alex. Focus on that, I want you in bed by 11,” She gave him a grin. He sighed, “Yeah, yeah. Get me some more soda, would you? Its not on the list.” “Of course, hon’. I’ll try not to buy TOO much candy.” “But mommy! I want the hot candy!” Kaida whined. “If you whine, you don’t get any treats. Got it?” Bridgett threatened light heartedly. “Be a good girl for mommy, okay?” Alex gave Kaida and Emily both a kiss on the forehead before trying to go back to his office. Bridgett grabbed him, “Forgetting someone?” They kissed before she let him go, “Alright girls, let's go.” Bridgett was driving back from a quick trip to the store. She looked back at her daughters in the back seat of the large truck, still hardly able to seat Bridgett comfortably. She sat at a red light, humming along to a song that her dad used to play on guitar. She looked to her right, noting that her parents’ house was that way. She thought of her dad, wondering what he was up to. When the light turned green, she took a right on a whim. Kaida frowned, “Where is mommy going? Home is the other way.” “Wow, you’re good at directions!” The small dragon was paying more attention than her mother was, “We’re going to grandpa’s house,” Bridgett explained. “GRANDPA’S HOUSE!?” Kaida screamed, her eyes lighting up. Emily was woken up by her sister’s high energy, yawning loudly and pouring a bit of smoke from her mouth. “Yup! Don’t break anything, please,” Bridgett quickly added as Kaida went into full detail on all the things she wanted to tell her grandpa and do with him. “I wanna have grandpas cooking and get him to play music and play with his tablet and...” Kaida trailed off, staring out the window. “What’s wrong?” “Is grandma gonna be there?” “No, shes at work. You’ll see her before Christmas, remember?” “But I wanna see her now,” She whined. “Remember what I said about whining?” Bridgett reminded her. “No candy if I whine... But Emily wants to see her too!” She put words in her younger sister’s mouth. “You don’t know that!” Bridgett laughed, “But I’m sure she really does,” Bridgett pulled up to the home she grew up in, frowning at the brand new car sitting in the driveway, “Whose car is that?” Bridgett mumbled. “Mommy what is it?” Kaida asked, fumbling with her carseat. “N-nothing. Come on,” She scooped up both girls and headed to the front door. She unlocked the front door and headed inside. She smelled the air of the house, the nostalgic smell made her happy. She walked into the kitchen, looking for her father. She found her brother, Ross sitting at the kitchen table with a woman with white hair sitting across from her. Her cat ears twitched and her tail waved happily in the air. The woman wore a gorgeous and expensive looking dress. Ross spoke quietly to her, a smile on his face. The smile fell off the instant he noticed his sister standing at the entrance to the kitchen, “B-Bridgett!” He stammered. Kaida ran over to him, and punched him in the leg, “Uncle deadbeat!” The cat woman laughed, “Aren't you precious!” She pinched the small dragon’s cheeks. She billowed smoke and fire out of her mouth as she grumbled angrily, “Hello, Bridgett. It has been sometime since we last met.” “Hello, Sophia. Ross, where’s dad?” “H-his office. That’s where he always is,” Ross rubbed his thigh where Kaida had punched him. “When are you gonna pounce on him and whisk him away to your mansion?” Bridgett turned to Sophia. She chuckled, “I’m waiting. I have been paying for him to live here in the meantime, do not worry about him being a ‘deadbeat’ as your daughter accused.” “So he’s mooching on--” “Oh, don’t call it that, my dear,” She acted as if Bridgett was younger than her, “I do it out of love. Surely a woman like you understands love despite pressure from others.” “I... I don’t know what you mean?” “You’ll figure it out. I’ve seen it in my mind's eye,” The witch chuckled whimsically and turned back to her boyfriend. “Come on! I wanna see grandpa!” Kaida grabbed her mother’s hand and dragged her upstairs. Bridgett hesitated as she stood outside the office door, nervousness somehow causing her to pause. Kaida wasn’t having any of that, she grabbed the handle and pushed the door open. She walked into the room, past dusty bookshelves and old boxes full of hold hobby things. Bridgett’s father, Theodore, sat at the other side of the room, headphones over his ears and eyes glued to his computer screen. Kaida ran to his side, holding her hands up, demanding to be lifted up nonverbally. Theodore turned to her, shocked, “Did you fly here yourself?” He laughed, picking her up and placing her in his lap. “Mommy brought me!” “Oh?” Theodore stood up, holding Kaida in his arms. He smiled warmly at Bridgett. “Hi, dad,” Bridgett smiled back, albeit a bit weakly. “Did something happen? Why aren't you at work, prin--?” Theodore asked with a frown, stopping himself from calling her an old nickname. “No, no nothing happened. Just a bad nightmare last night and mom said I should have a day off,” Bridgett shrugged, “You know I don’t mind if you call me ‘princess’ now and again.” “I just always think back to when you shouted at me, before you left for the army,” Theodore quickly pushed the thoughts from his mind and then chuckled as Kaida started to struggle in his arms. He put her down and she quickly started to look through her grandfather’s things, “I haven’t seen you in some time, Bridgett.” “I-I saw you on Halloween, dad.” “For like ten minutes! I only hear about my little girl through my wife! Its good to see you.” “Little girl,” Bridgett repeated with a short laugh, “I’m not little any more, dad,” She gave her father a warm hug, a hug that lasted quite a long time. It only came to an end as Emily, still in Bridgett’s arm started to whine and writhe. “Oh, little Emily,” Theodore took his granddaughter in his arms. The small dragon stared up at him with a happy smile and made a funny giggling noise. Theodore stood still, staring at the tiny dragon in his arms. He wiped his eyes as tears formed, “She looks so much like her-- Your...” He paused, knowing that she should not invoke that ancient name. He did anyways, “Mother. She looks like your mother.” “You know that I know that. That’s why I named her Emily.” “You laid your eyes on her for the first time and when asked what you were going to name her, you interrupted your husband and called her Emily.” “Alex knows better than to argue with me,” She chuckled darkly, “You cried your eyes out when you got to hold her.” “Oh, come on. You cried too!” Theodore looked down, embarrassed. “You cried more than MOM!” Bridgett laughed, “And she cries about everything!” “Y-yeah she does,” Theodore set the baby on the floor, she took off crawling towards the bookshelves, looking for something to teeth on. “Emily, those aren’t for you!” Bridgett scooped up the young dragon as she tried to pull books off a shelf. “So, you just were around and decided to drop by?” Theodore asked. “Out shopping. But, yeah. We wanted to see you...” Bridgett looked around for her other daughter. She was picking through a box full of trading cards. “Grandpa, these are sooooo cool!” Kaida shouted as she picked them up gently in her claws. “Careful with those. They’re your college tuition!” Theodore called. Kaida quickly put them back, “At least I hope so.” “I told you to sell during that first boom!” Bridgett reminded him, “All those sabbath members trying to get their hands on these ancient cards thinking they held real magic!” She laughed. “Its a bit of a dry spell right now, but Magic will be big again, I know it!” Theodore told her, “The sabbah will get back into the game and bring real magic into it and the price of these will sky rocket.” “Whatever you say, dad,” Bridgett looked around the room, “Hey, uh, random question. But if you had like, a wish, what would you want?” Bridgett tried not-so-sneakily to get an idea for a Christmas gift. He gave her a sideways look, “I dunno. I don’t need to wish for world peace, we have almost too much of that. Man, none of my old answers to this work any more. Uh, a mech. I want to drive a big robot around and blow up other robots,” He chuckled and shrugged at his poor response. Bridgett gave him a weak smile, heart dropping, that didn’t help her at all. She wasn’t a roboticist or a gremlin. “Grandpa can I play on your computer?” Kaida asked, interrupting Bridgett’s silent thoughts. “Of course. You wanna draw don’t you?” Theodore brought her over to the computer and put her in his lap. He opened up a drawing application and handed her the pen for his old drawing tablet. “I’m gonna draw... Mommy!” She put pen to tablet and did broad strokes as she tried to draw a person. The tablet was slow and unresponsive, “Man, I need to get a new one of these.” Bridgett’s eyes lit up, her father couldn’t see it, thankfully, “A new what?” “Drawing tablet,” He gestured to the flat device on the desk. Bridgett commited the item to memory, determined to get her father a new one, “Want some lunch instead, Kaida?” “Burgers!” Kaida suggested loudly. “We had that last night,” Bridgett groaned. She loved her father’s cooking, but the only thing Kaida would eat sometimes was burgers. “I’ll make some tacos. Give me a hand, will you Kaida?” Theodore stood and headed to the kitchen, granddaughter pulling him there excitedly. Bridgett got home with her children. She took the two of them inside first before unloading the groceries. She was glad that she kept a cooler in the trunk for cold stuff, keeping the milk good while she visited her father. She gave the leftovers from lunch to Kaida, “Go give these to your father, please,” The dragon mother gave her daughter a small tupperware container. “I hope daddy likes the lunch we made him!” Kaida laughed before running off to find her father. Bridgett took a moment to relax, Emily was harmlessly crawling around, searching for her toys. Her wings, though underdeveloped, flapped nearly constantly, Bridgett chuckled as she watched her daughter roll around on the floor, playing with a ball. Alex came downstairs, meal in hand, “Went to see your dad?” He asked, taking a seat next to his wife, “I recognize his cooking.” “Yup. I found what we can get him for christmas!” Bridgett smiled, a bit proud of herself. “Oh yeah?” Alex asked, mouth full of delicious food. He regretted going to his parents’ home for Thanksgiving, and not Theodore and Gwen’s. He pulled out his phone, ready to look for what his father-in-law wanted. “A drawing tablet. He needs a new one,” Bridgett told him, leaning back, relaxing. He looked it up, “Any idea what brand he likes? Or size?” “Uhh, ahm,” She scratched her scales, “Let me look,” She took her husband’s phone and started browsing. She recognized a few brands, “This one, lets get him this one.” “Bridgett, that’s a lot more than we’re spending on anyone else. Does it need to have a screen on it?” “I want to get him a good one.” “But--” “I want to get him a good one,” Bridgett repeated. Alex glanced at her. He frowned, “Alright. I know you want to go all out for him. Its coming out of your holiday bonus.” Bridgett paused, “Of course. No arguments there, hon’.” “I ordered it,” Alex winced a little bit, “For a dragon, you aren't very frugal.” She huffed, “Whatever. I’d rather be generous anyways.” “Mhm,” He went back to eating, “Hopefully our little dragons are as kind as you when they’re older.” “I pray so,” Bridgett watched Emily throw a ball into the wall, chipping the paint a little bit, “She will be a strong one, probably taller than me too.” “Maybe she’ll follow in your footsteps, looking to combat for a career.” “God, I hope not,” Bridgett growled, “I pray she doesn’t make the same mistakes I did,” She suddenly got very intense as she turned to her husband, grabbing his shoulders in her powerful claws, “Please, even if something happens to me, do not let her enlist.” “Bridgett--” “Promise me,” She demanded, grabbing him by the shirt. “I promise. Calm down, please,” He took her claws in his hands, grasping them tightly, “I’ll keep her safe. We’ll keep them both safe. You’re not allowed to die on me.” She chuckled at him, “Right. Finish your food, its getting cold.” ----- Bridgett paused as she stood in front of the door. She didn’t know if she could face down her parents. Especially after how she left. She cringed as she thought back on how she screamed at her parents. She brought her clenched claw up to the door and knocked lightly, praying no one would open the door for her. She heard stomping behind the door before it was thrown open. Samantha came running out and hugged her sister, “You’re back!” She cried. It had been four years without seeing each other, “Hey, Sam,” Bridgett pat her head and let her little sister pull her inside of the house. “Mom! Dad! Bridgett’s home!” Samantha called. Bridgett had been stewing in three years of regret. Four years of dealing with how she had screamed at her parents. Her heart pounded as she heard the distinct noise of cloven feet on wooden floors followed by shoes on the same wooden floors. Gwen practically sprinted up to her and threw her arms around her, “Oh! My little girl!” She sobbed. “Hi, mom,” Bridgett greeted her quietly, giving her a tight hug and choking back tears. She looked up and saw her father standing nearby, a small smile on his face. Ross stood behind him, always nervous around his older sister. Bridgett let Gwen go and approached her father, shuffling nervously, “D-dad--” “You don’t have to say anything,” Theodore held out his arms for her. Bridgett fell to her knees, wrapping her arms around him and crying into his chest. Theodore winced as his daughter dug her claws into him, “I’m sorry,” She squeaked out. “Hush now. There’s nothing to apologise about,” Gwen told her, gently caressing her daughter’s head, “We are all just glad you’re home.” Bridgett regained some sense of composure and stood before her family, “Thanks mom. Hey, Ross.” Ross waved nervously at her, “What do you want for dinner, honey?” Gwen asked. “I could go for a nice burger,” Bridgett meekly answered. “I would have been surprised if she asked for anything else!” Gwen laughed, “Come sit down, your father will take care of it.” Gwen and the twins walked into the kitchen, Bridgett turned back to her father and smiled at him. He smiled back, “Glad to see you grew your hair back out,” He teased. “Dad! Is that all you have to say?” Bridgett huffed. “I’m glad you’re back. I’m not mad at you for running away if thats what you’re wondering.” “What about for screaming at you? He shook his head, “Nope. Come on, I’ve got a big meal to make.” Bridgett stood and watched him, a little smile on her face. She put her bag on the floor and stretched, looking around the room. Nothing had changed much and she was happy about that. She picked up an old photo of Theodore, Gwen and herself and smiled at it, glad to be home. ----- Bridgett shouldered the bags carrying gifts as she trailed behind her husband and daughters. Kaida was bouncing with excitement, the prospect of receiving gifts was making her giddy. Alex was excited to eat his father-in-law’s cooking and Emily was just happy to be there. Bridgett was fidgety and nervous, praying that things would go smoothly. She had meticulously wrapped each gift, making sure they were perfect. She wanted and needed today to go perfectly. Alex held the door open for her as he set Kaida down who ran off into the living room, staring at the Christmas tree her grandparents had set up, “H-hey, Bridgett,” Ross greeted his sister with a nervous smile. Sophia stood by his side, giving “Merry Christmas, you deadbeat,” Bridgett gave her brother a quick hug and shook hands with Sophia, her large claws completely covering the dainty cat witch’s hand, before walking into the main room. “Hello, big sister!” Bridgett was ambushed by three small children and her little sister, Samantha. All the children shouted seasonal greetings at their draconic aunt. “Hey Samantha,” Bridgett gave her a hug too, feeling the wool on her little sister on her neck. “Merry christmas, sister. Did you get our Christmas card?” “Of course. You received ours?” “Yes! I loved it!” Samantha laughed before letting out a sigh, “My husband has to work late today.” “I’m sorry. I’m glad you could be here, at least,” Bridgett smiled. Samantha nodded, adjusting her bright red christmas sweater. It was ungodly ugly, but that had to be by design, “Mom and dad are in the kitchen, I’m sure they’d love to say hello to you before dinner is ready.” “Thanks,” Bridgett put the gifts she had brought under the tree, making sure to be gentle with them. She headed to the kitchen, “Hey, mom. Hey, dad,” Bridgett quickly hugged her mother. “Hello, sweetie!” Gwen was wearing another bright red ugly sweater. “Hey, Bridgett,” Theodore was wearing an apron over a cream wool sweater made of his wife’s natural wool, “Help your mom out and set the table, would you?” “Not before I get a hug from you too, dad,” Bridgett demanded. She got her hug and helped her mother by carrying the plates for her. “Oh, I cant believe how big Kaida is getting,” Gwen told Bridgett as she set out a fancy table cloth. “Emily too,” Bridgett added as she set plates out. “They’re going to be such wonderful young women, just like their mother.” “Mom,” Bridgett groaned a little bit, “They’ll be a lot better than me.” Gwen sighed and frowned at her, “Don’t sell yourself short,” Bridgett opened her mouth to speak, “I know what you’re about to say. Do not say it. You are a wonderful woman.” “Thanks, mom.” “Alex! Let me see my granddaughters!” Gwen left the table and went to the main room, taking Emily from Alex. Bridgett smiled and shook her head, “Ready to eat?” Theodore asked as he began setting food on the table. Bridgett nodded, setting the mashed potatoes she brought on the table. The adults sat at the main dining table while the children sat at a card table with Emily sitting in a high chair next to her parents. Bridgett struggled to eat as everyone chatted excitedly. She listened to the children talk about what they expected to wake up to on Christmas morning, “Hey, you alright?” Alex whispered next to her, offering her the plate of turkey. “Uh, yeah. I’m fine,” Bridgett mumbled back, taking a tiny amount of turkey and passing it to her father, “Just distracted, I suppose.” “Do you wanna go home early?” Bridgett stopped herself from growling at her husband, “No,” He nodded and handed her a bowl of bread rolls. “Bridgett,” Gwen began, “How has work been?” “Oh, its fine. I just wish I had a bit more to do, to be honest,” She spoke slowly and put it as lightly and gently as she could. She knew Gwen had played a huge role in her getting the chief security officer role. “A lot better than what you did before, right?” Samantha asked with a smile. “Y-yeah. A lot better,” She lied. She stayed quiet for the rest of the meal as her husband cracked jokes and father talked about art. Gwen spoke about working for the government, having to pause to explain larger words to the kids who were listening intently. She even proposed the idea of running for governor. Samantha and Sophia were both wholly behind it with Theodore seeming a bit uncomfortable with the idea. Sophia spoke a bit about her magic and brought up Ross’ studies and progress on a four year theoretical magic degree as he prepared to step into wizardhood. Samantha talked about her children and her husband, boasting about each of them in a unique way. Alex kept shooting his wife confused looks as she stayed silent, slowly eating what little food she had on her plate. As people finished eating, they moved to couches of the main room. Bridgett stayed at the table, still eating slowly, nerves getting the best of her. The only two left at the table were Bridgett and her father. Theodore started clearing the table, “Are you alright? You don’t seem like yourself.” “I’m fine dad,” She got up and helped him clean up. He gave her a concerned look and sighed, “I won’t push it, sorry.” She frowned back before smiling weakly, “Thanks, dad.” He put a hand on her shoulder, “I’m just worried about my favorite dragon.” She stopped herself from pushing him away, “I know. You always are.” He pulled away and laughed nervously, “Come on, people are waiting for us.” Bridgett nodded and followed him. Bridgett sat on a small couch with her husband and youngest daughter. Kaida sat on the floor with her cousins, excitedly chatting with them. As everyone started to settle down, gifts started being handed out. Gwen was in love with the idea of Christmas and made it out to be a spectacle forcing everyone to take turns opening presents. Each of the children received toys or clothes. Gwen made each person an article of clothing or a blanket from her wool. Sophia gave each person, including the kids, a gift card to differing stores, “I can buy myself a new drawing tablet wit this!” Theodore laughed, making a slight rage build inside Bridgett, she pushed it down and buried it within her. A large present was brought out for Theodore. Bridgett’s heart raced, although she was confident her father would like the gift, she was still filled with fear and dread. He pulled the card off, one that Kaida had made, it screamed, ‘I LOVE YOU’ at Theodore, “Thank you,” He laughed as he handed the card to Gwen. He tore into the packaging and revealed what lie inside. His eyebrows rose as he stared at the box and a small frown spread across his lips. His slight frown turned into a grin, “Thank you!” No one else noticed his frown or they chose to ignore it. Bridgett smiled weakly, knowing something was wrong, “Glad you like it, dad.” “Mommy! Grandpa likes his gift!” Kaida shouted at her mother. Bridgett nodded at her silently, trying to suppress her unhappiness and a large frown. “Who wants cookies?” Gwen asked the children as the gift exchange ended. Each of them went ballistic, demanding cookies, “Come on now!” Gwen laughed, the children followed her into the kitchen. Alex sighed, “We better make sure they don’t break anything,” He followed them into the kitchen. Samantha followed him. “We must be off. My grandmother demands our presence,” Sophie stood and bowed. She took Ross by the hand and drug him outside. Bridgett sank deeper into the couch. She checked her phone pretending not to notice her father. Theodore stood near her, “Can we talk?” “What?” Bridgett frowned sadly. “Come on, outside,” He put a coat on and went outside, followed by his daughter who was ready to be chewed out, knowing she had done something wrong. They sat on the porch bench. Theodore stared up at the skies for a few moments before turning to the now sniffling dragon, “Bridgett. What’s wrong?” Bridgett turned away from him, trying and failing to dry her eyes with her claws, “Nothing.” “Then why are you so sad?” “I just wanted to give you a good gift.” Theodore blinked, “Don’t get me wrong. I love it and I’ll put it to good use,” He chuckled, “You didn’t need to spend that much on me, Bridgett.” “But I wanted to get you something really good! And a higher price means good!” “You only needed to show up and give me a hug, Bridgett. I don’t need you to spend hundreds on me.” “But that’s not good enough. I NEEDED to get you a good gift,” Bridgett continued to insist. “Why did you need to?” Theodore couldn't understand. “Because I made you so upset and sad in the past, I’ve made so many mistakes and I want to right them!” Bridgett shouted. “What are you talking about?” “I told you I hated you and ran away from home. Two mistakes. I joined the army, another mistake. I killed people dad. I blew up, shot and burned peoples’ husbands and sons!” “You did what you had to. You made us proud, Bridgett. The good guys won.” She ignored him, “I’ve done nothing but make mistakes my entire life. I shouldn’t have joined the army, or the police and I shouldn’t have been born! Mom would still be alive and you never would have had to raise me alone.” Theodore was silent, staring at her. He stopped himself from glaring at her, “Emily would slap the shit out of you if she was here,” Theodore growled, quickly turning to a more light tone, “She sacrificed herself and gave you life. It was hard on me, but I wouldn’t give that up for any of the experiences I’ve had. Don’t blame yourself for what happened to her. Where would everyone else be right now if you were never born?” He demanded. “E-Emily would be here... A-and--” “What about Gwen? Samantha? Ross? Even little Kaida and Emily?” “T-they... Wouldn’t be here,” Bridgett looked down at the floor. “To even suggest that you wish you were dead...” Theodore sighed, “I know you’re hurting. But everything you’ve done has made you into a fantastic woman. You married a great guy, have given me two wonderful grandchildren, and have made me so proud. Even if you did scream at me and tell me you hate me, I love you, Bridgett. Always.” Bridgett was silent as she started to cry again, “I-I’m so sorry, dad. I’m so stupid,” She sobbed. She grabbed her father in a tight hug, careful not to tear into him with her claws. He returned it, making her think of a time when she was younger, her father comforting her when she was younger. She yearned for those days when she was small, but she knew she couldn’t go back. “You’re not stupid and I’m not mad at you. I can’t think of a time I was mad at you for more than... Half a day, maybe.” “I love you, dad.” “I love you too, princess. Ready to go back in? Its a little cold.” “Yeah,” She got up and stretched, “Can I come over more? I think I need to see you more to stay sane.” “What, is Alex not supporting you enough?” He followed her in. “He is! I just miss you.” “There you two are! Where--” Gwen stopped, looking up at Bridgett, “Did something happen?” “I’m okay, mom,” Bridgett hugged her mom and went to sit on the couch with her own family. “Mommy! Mommy! Look! Cookies!” Kaida excitedly showed her the cookies she and her father were eating. Alex handed her one. “Love you, hon’.” Bridgett smiled and gave him a kiss on the cheek before quickly devouring the cookie, “I’m hungry,” She whined. “Then you should have eaten more at dinner!” Alex laughed. Bridgett laughed along with him, thinking back on what Sophia had told her. She still didn’t understand much, but decided she must be referring to her father, loving her unconditionally. Even if she was an awful daughter in the past, she could at least do better in the future. She watched as her own daughter yawned and rested her head on Alex’s lap, “Are you three ready to go to sleep?” “I gotta stay up so I can see Santa!” Kaida whined. “He won’t come if you don’t go to sleep, Kaida,” Gwen told her as she sat down on another couch, followed by Theodore. Samantha, followed by her children, entered the room, “I’m taking off! Thanks for making extra for my hubby, dad!” She grinned. “Tell him we said merry Christmas!” Gwen called as Theodore saw her out. Goodbyes were exchanged. “I think we should go too, Bridgett,” Alex yawned. “Aw!” Kaida whined before yawning loudly again. “We’ll be seeing you on new years, right?” Theodore asked. “Of course!” Bridgett picked up Emily and Kaida. Alex sighed, realising he had been relegated to carrying gifts. “Have a good night! Get home safe!” Gwen gave each of her granddaughters a kiss on the cheek and gave her daughter a hug. “Mommy?” Kaida called drowsily as Bridgett tucked her in. Her comforter was covered in stitches, she had accidentally cut numerous holes in it. “Yes, hon’?” Bridgett gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Is Santa gonna bring me coal?” “No,” She chuckled, “You’ve been good this year. Keep it up. Do you need any of your toys?” Kaida nodded, “Here, I’m sure this one would like to keep you company. Good night, dear.” “Night, mommy.” Bridgett crept downstairs, “Alex?” She called quietly. He was lying on the floor, nibbling on the cookies that Kaida had set out, “Yo.” “Set out the gifts?” “Yup.” Bridgett nodded and looked around. She stopped on a photo of her father and Emily, her mother, together. She pulled it off the wall and sighed, “I wonder if you’re proud of me, mom,” She mumbled putting it back up. “I’m sure she is. If your father is proud of you, then that woman has to be,” He put the half eaten cookies back on the plate and took a bite of carrot. “I hope so. Are you done eating yet?” He put the carrot on the plate, “Yup, whats up?” He stood before his draconic wife, looking up into her eyes. “Nothing I just-- Oh! Look at that!” She looked above her head and her husband did the same. She was holding a mistletoe over them with her tail, “You know what that means~” Alex could hardly nod before bridgett assaulted him, holding him close to her and pressing her lips against his. They kissed passionately, with tongue, before pulling away from each other, both panting slightly as they tried to catch their breath, “We should go to bed, hm? I know Kaida will try to wake us up early.” Alex nodded, “Y-yeah.” “Better hurry. I need some more cuddles before bed,” There was a threatening tone in her voice, making Alex sweat. Bridgett threw Alex into bed and got on top of him. She ran her claws across his skin, “I love you~” She whispered into his ear. “I love you too,” He choked out from underneath his wife right before his clothes were torn off. “Tell me again,” Bridgett growled, saliva dripping from her menacing grin as she hungrily stared at her husband. Alex gulped, sweating profusely. Kaida couldn’t sleep. Christmas was tomorrow, how could she be expected to sleep? She was too excited, adrenaline was pumping through her veins as she dreamed about what presents Santa would bring her. As her exhaustion was just about to drag her into the sleep realm, she heard a thump. It was downstairs, in the living room. Her heart pounded, she had to look. She HAD to see Santa. She put on her slippers, making her more quiet as her claws would not scrape on the floor. She walked downstairs, peeking into the living room from the foyer. She didn’t see Santa, instead she saw a woman wearing red, a red cloak with fluffy white trim. She had blonde hair that was done up in a bun, revealing her long, pointy ears. Kaida watched in awe as the woman pulled presents from her cloak, placing them carefully and gracefully under the tree and stuffed extra small goodies in the familys’ stockings. Kaida slipped as she leaned forwards, hitting the ground with a loud thump. The woman turned to her, eyes wide. Kaida looked up at her, tears in her eyes, “I’m s-sowwy!” She sobbed quietly, thinking all her presents would immediately turn into coal. “Ssh! Ssh!” The woman chuckled quietly, “You’re not in trouble, dear.” “I’m not?” “Just keep this our little secret, okay?" Kaida beamed, “Okay!” The woman sighed with relief, she returned to her task, placing a few more items in the stockings, “You’re not Santa,” Kaida noted. The woman smiled at her, “I’m one of his elves, he can’t do it all himself, dear,” She looked down at the plate placed by the fireplace, “Aw, who ate the cookies?” She shrugged and started downing the glass of milk. “Daddy probably did,” Kaida ran into the kitchen and threw the pantry open, grabbing the bag of extra cookies. She offered them to the elf. “Thank you, dear! I’m sure my sisters will love these. Here,” She gave Kaida a big bag of her favorite candy adorned with a pink bow, “Remember, our secret!” She winked and snapped her fingers, turning to dust before flying back up the chimney and onto the next house. Kaida could only watch in wonder. She snapped out of it and headed back upstairs slowly. She hid the candy under her bed and climbed into it, falling asleep almost instantly, a satisfied smile on her face.