Kenneth Bloom is attending a gathering his girlfriend Isa’vanna has organised. All of Isa’s friends are there— And so are all of their husbands. Ken doesn’t really want to socialise, so he does what he always does at these events and sits with Baran Grimalkin. This goes about as well as it usually does, up until they are approached by their grandchildren, who have something to show them both. 1,304 words.

The world of Shadow Oaks is owned by TheStalkerBunny on tumblr. It is a brilliant piece of work and I recommend reading more about it HERE.

Isa and her friends were having another get-together, and this time she was the one hosting. Which meant, of course, that Ken couldn’t weasel out of attending.

Last time when they’d had their get-together at the Sladers’ house he’d made the excuse that he needed to stay at home and work…. And Isa had let him, surprisingly; telling her friends that he had a project he was focused on (which, admittedly, was a little sunflower costume for Don to wear).

But she’d warned him that, if he didn’t go then, he would have to be sociable next time…. And next time was this time; so there was no escaping upstairs as Isa and her friends lay out the table with various dishes they’d cooked. There was no locking himself away in his study while Mr Slader laughed too loud and pet Igor Frankenstein on the back. And there was no vanishing out the front door as Becky took a running leap onto Benny’s back and almost knocked him down on top of Isabel.


He’d stayed through all that. No matter how desperately he had wanted to slink away and vanish into the shadows…. Because he loved Isa. And he didn’t want to break his promise to her. He never wanted to break a promise to her. Never again.

So now he and Baran Grimalkin were doing their usual dance; sitting just close enough to each other to give the illusion that they were conversing, so that Isa and Mrs Grimalkin wouldn’t send them to talk to one of the other men at the gathering.

It seemed to work.

At least… it had worked for the past six or seven years…. Except, of course, when Mr Slader would come over to interrupt the silence by ruffling both men’s hair and telling them to “lighten up!”

Ken hated when he did that.

And so did Baran; one time he had gotten sick enough of Mr Slader’s pats-on-the-back and taps-on-the-shoulders that he had scratched the man’s arm.

And though Mrs Grimalkin started scolding her husband furiously, Mr Slader didn’t seem to care and just laughed it off.


Ken’s attention was caught by a long, friendly meow from by his foot and he looked down to see his beloved Catthrine staring up at him.

‘Ah!’ Ken chirped, motioning for Catthrine to jump onto him. ‘Mon beau chaton! Come, come!’

Mrrrrow!’ Catthrine responded as she leapt up onto Ken’s knee and settled in his lap. She purred loudly, lifting her head so he could scratch at her neck, and closed her eyes in joy.

‘Petit ange,’ Ken cooed. ‘I love you! Oh, yes, I do!’

A scoff sounded from Ken’s right and he side-eyed Baran with tight eyes.

‘Do not scoff at my angel!’ Ken warned, pointing a finger at Baran. ‘Or I will tell Mr Slader you want to talk about grilling!’

Baran’s ears folded back in disgust, and his lip curled. ‘You vould not dare!’

‘I would,’ Ken said, turning his nose up. ‘If you tsk at ma ange again!’

‘Traitor,’ Baran growled, turning in his seat and crossing his arms. ‘I vould never be siccing Troy onto you!’

‘And I would never scoff at your bébé!’ Ken retorted.

‘Only because you are being coward,’ Baran teased, sticking his nose in the air in a way Ken had learnt was playful (or, as playful as Baran could be). ‘You are weenie man scared of getting in fight.’

‘Baran. I used to work in fashion. I’ve been in plenty of fights.’

‘I am being in more.’

‘What is this? High school?’ Ken chuckled, shifting his focus back to scratching Catthrine’s ear again.

‘I am not high schooler, you are knowing this,’ Baran’s brow furrowed in confusion.

‘It’s an expression,’ Ken waved a dismissive hand. ‘Though, really. I don’t know if that really is what high school drama is like anymore….’


‘I mean… the amount of times our girls almost got murdered!

Baran winced, his snout twitching at Ken’s words before he gave a grimace of agreeance and nodded solemnly. ‘Da. High school here is not being like it vas in home country.’

‘You can say that again!’ Ken agreed.

Baran frowned at him. ‘Vhy? You be hearing me first time!’

‘Another expression,’ Ken sighed. ‘It means you’re not wrong.’

‘Of course I am not being wrong!’ Baran huffed, turning to pull a face at Ken. Then, he looked past the elf and his eyes widened. ‘Oh, nyet….

Ken turned to see what Baran was looking at and saw their grandchildren, Salami and Rousseau (or, as most people called them; Sal and Russ), were approaching. Sal (Malinka’s son) was carrying a jar, which was never a good sign. Meanwhile Russ (Becky’s boy) had his hands closed together loosely— An even worse sign.

‘Oh! Mon petit termite!’ Kem exclaimed, adjusting Catthrine on his lap so that he could turn and address the young boys properly. He tried not to grimace as he saw the wriggly contents of Sal’s jar. ‘What have you got, there?’

‘Worms!’ Russ exclaimed as Sal held up the jar to present his worms to Ken. ‘Ilhara gave Sal a jar to keep them in! And Mama grated carrots for them to eat!’

Ken could see Baran shift in his seat uncomfortably.

‘And… what do you have?’

‘Henry!’ Russ said, opening his hands to reveal a very large huntsman spider sitting comfortably in his palm. ‘From the bathroom!’

Baran gave a low growl at the sight of the giant spider— And Catthrine responded by hissing at him and standing up to bat a paw angrily at his nose.

Baran’s growl cut off immediately as he froze, staring at Ken’s cat with a confused and offended expression.

‘She says to be polite,’ Russ said, simply. ‘You’re a guest, and Henry lives here.’

Maow! Mrrow!

Russ nodded at the cat knowingly before closing his hands over the spider again. ‘I’m going to put Henry back now, cos he’s tired. But I’ll be right back! Sal can show you his worms while I’m gone!’

‘Ooh… uh. Sure,’ Ken winced as the tabaxi boy lit up and began joyfully unscrewing the lid to his jar. ‘Are we sure that they need to come out of the jar?’

Sal nodded, before lifting up the iPad that was strapped over his shoulder like a handbag (Ken remembered Becky talking him into making several straps for the boy, so he could match them to his outfits) and pressing several buttons. A robotic voice followed: ‘How else are you meant to feel their slime?

Ken didn’t really want to feel their slime. But he didn’t want to say that to the child; so he forced a smile onto his face and gave a stilted chuckle. ‘Oh, yes! Of course. You’re right. My mistake.’

Sal grinned wider as Ken reluctantly held out a hand, and placed several worms into the man’s palm.

‘My my, they certainly are… slimy,’ Ken confirmed. ‘Baran, would you like to—‘

Baran loudly rose from his seat and strode across the room, vanishing into the hallway, and Ken heard the man begin whining loudly in Russian to his wife.

Sal stared after him, seemingly unphased by his grandfather’s childish behaviour, before offing Ken another worm.

‘Oui, oui, of course,’ Ken said, allowing the tabaxi to place the worm in his hand. ‘Oh, he is even slimier than the others!’

Sal nodded happily, signing with his hands; though Ken only understood the motion for “yes.”

Then, there was a loud CRASH! from the kitchen and Ken rose to his feet, apologising to Catthrine and quickly depositing the worms back in Sal’s jar before rushing in the find….

‘Barbie! Young lady! What has your ilhara told you about wildshaping in the house?! Go outside if you want to be a horse!’


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