Lavender Heights 
With @"Minerva Heartgrove" looking for beau borb, same time of day as last time

Minnie had seemed down for the hunt for the talking bird, or she was at least really sweetly humoring him. And the weather wasn't too cold today, so he hoped it would be out?

So weird, so cool. He'd been such a nice little thing too.

"He was like... this big," Joaquin sized with his hands. "Typical mockingbird I guess. I didn't even know you could train them to talk."

 Whitewing was a busy bird. Minerva very distinctly remembered him saying as much - what he could possibly be filling his schedule with was beyond her. Hunting for food. Evading bigger birds. It would be cool to see him, but it would also feel like shattering some big secret she had been clinging to. Keeping it from Joaquin made her feel strange in an incredibly uncomfortable way. This was definitely towing some sort of invisible line that she couldn’t put her finger on.

 Minerva looked at her brother’s hands and smiled a little, before looking up again, pretending to seek a specific bird among the urban wilderness. "Maybe it’s magic," she suggested. Surprise, big bro, it’s definitely magic! "I wonder if there are many birds that can talk like that." Her eyes found a flock of pigeons on a wire above, and she would stare hard at them in spite of herself. They all shared an iridescent purple sheen on their little bodies.

"What, like... actual magic? He said he wasn't a shifter, so... hopefully nothing like that."

Maybe something like what he had, that Minnie didn't actually know about.

There were no mockingbirds as far as he could see, though. Joaquin looked on every fence line. Squinted at every sparrow just in case.

Ultimately, though, he was frowning at a bush and shaking his head. "I mean. He definitely existed?"

 No, she didn't think he was a shifter. Minnie sighed, chewing on the inside of her cheek. She joined him in staring at the bush, breath locking in her diaphragm. Telling the truth felt like a daunting task, but it was the best option. "Can I tell you something kind of..." Boy, what even was the right word for this?? "Weird?" She glanced up at him with visible tension in her face, eyebrows up and eyes a little squinty in an almost-grimace.

Nothing. No bird. No talking. From birds. Mockingbirds. Wherever they were, they were all mocking him.

At least Minnie wasn't.

"Only if you promise not to tell me you're dating someone now," he joked, seeing her face and noting that was the kind of face people made when they had serious things to say.

Anyway. He gave her his attention, hands on his hips because he was still offended because this bird was not here.

 Minerva let out a laugh that was some mix of nervous and embarrassed. "No, not dating anyone," she assured him lamely. She could be. There were some very cute boys at school. Focus.

 "I have... definitely met the bird you're talking about. Like... more than once." Her hands came together of their own accord, fingers interlocking and squeezing against each other nervously. A knuckle popped.

That was more of a relief than it should have been. Joaquin gave a little half grin to it before... she... filled him in on what the big deal was.


His lips parted as if to say something. And then he thought better of it. And then thought better of that.

"Whyyyy... didn't you say so?" he asked, curious prodding and honestly just the teensiest bit hurt amongst the natural confusion. Real teensy. Promise.

 "I really wasn't sure if it was like, believable?" She squeaked, somehow simultaneously heavy from the lie and light from revealing the truth. "I dunno. I just didn't want you to think I was crazy." A toothy smile, something she had a hard time keeping away when she was feeling anxious. It felt like a really stupid time to smile, but her muscles would do nothing else.

That was fair and also unfair.

"I mean... I told you about the bird," he answered that. It was crazy. But, like, Minnie hadn't said it was. She could have mentioned it when he first told her instead of letting him wonder if he had made it up.

It was hard to get mad at that face though.

"So... where'd you meet him? How many times?"

Were they the only ones, or had others met the bird too out there? Joaquin needed to make friends.

Maybe Minnie knew more about what he was.

 He had! Ugh! Minerva wilted a little inside for the guilt, but was also slowly brandishing a new level of trust for her brother. Her heart squeezed. "Yeah. I’m sorry." Her voice was as small as she felt.

 "I met him by the school. I was trying to wait out the rain with a painting and he was just chillin’ under this awning and he started talking to me!" Oh boy, she was also starting to feel like she was straying into getting-in-trouble territory. "And then uh. He flew to the house and I painted a portrait of him. And then I found him out here again one night. By that Pegasus place." That was not the whole truth, but the idea of confessing underage drunken embarrassment seemed a daunting and painful task.

Big brother shook his head to the apology. It wasn't a big deal. At least not at first.


The bird had been to their house? She painted a picture of him? Joaquin didn't know how to feel about that. Kind of... stalked?

There was more. She was outside some... place he wasn't familiar with, but okay. Not important. Back to the other thing.

"How did he find the house? Did you give him our address?" he asked, trying to figure out just how wrong he felt about this. Or about the fact that a bird could understand addresses. That wasn't... right. Not even messenger pigeons had worked like that.

 He was just a bird, she reminded herself. Just a bird that could talk. It would all be okay. Yeah.

 "Nnnno, I don’t think he can read," she said carefully, thoughtfully, hands still working together a little anxiously. "I told him what the house looked like and local land marks." Oh please don’t be mad. "I can show you the painting when we get home?" A feeble and somewhat subconscious attempt to soothe things.

That was... slightly more believable, he decided. But it was still unsettling, and he wasn't so sure he felt okay about it?

The bird had been kind. Really charming. But. What if.

"Don't... do that anymore. Okay? Giving out our home to a stranger. Location or address or anything," he said gently as he could, not wanting to make her feel like she was in trouble. But she was young and her age was really showing here. "We're probably lucky that he really is just a nice bird. But you never know what kind of things might try to show up."

 Minerva was definitely feeling like a child in the face of all this, which was a bizarre but sobering feeling amidst the whole "I am eighteen and an adult!" vibe she'd been living with. Joaquin was the weight of logic to her dreamland balloon, and she realized it immediately. He kept her from flying away into blissful ignorance.

 "Yeah. Okay," she said with a nod, unwinding her fingers to stick them in her pockets, feeling sheepish. "I just didn't think about that. I just thought, 'whoa, talking bird!' and felt like a Disney princess." She laughed, quiet and shaky. "I really am sorry." It was hard to look at him now that she was feeling foolish, and so instead she looked at another bush, perhaps fortunately devoid of birds.

Again, it was hard to stay mad at that face. She talked like the girly girl she was and he shook his head fondly, with a smile.

"It's okay," he reassured, and really it wasn't, but. It would have to be. Spreading his arms for a hug, he meant to take her in. "Anything else you wanna tell me about, Princess Minnie? Like... what 'that Pegasus' place is?"

 Minnie would, of course, take the hug, squeezing her brother tightly around the middle with a grin. Princess Minnie. Heh. Pegasus, though, made her choke a little. "It's... a drag queen place," she said, uncertain, partially because she was unsure if that was even the right terminology. "Drag queens put on these extremely shiny outfits and do performances to popular songs. Like, lip sync and stuff." Belatedly, she realized maybe Joaquin knew exactly what a drag queen place consisted of, but it at least distracted her from the memory of being drunk!

A drag queen place. Well, he definitely wouldn't be going there, would he.

"...Oh," he answered, feeling somewhat uncomfortable. Honestly, Joaquin didn't get it. Didn't get the appeal, or the hype, or the... whatever people got out of drag shows. He didn't really approve of the whole thing, personally? Like, why would any guy want to change his appearance to that?

...thought a guy who could change his appearance at will. But that was different.

"Well, as long as you enjoyed it," he added, not wanting to start anything for it, but definitely visibly eager to leave the topic behind.

"Wanna go get some food? Don't think our mutual friend is gonna show."

 Joaquin let it lie, which was honestly a huge relief. And then he was moving on to bigger and better things, like food! It did seem unlikely that Whitewing was going to show up any time soon. It would have been cool, but maybe also potentially bad. Whatever.

 "Yeah," she breathed, patting his arm. "Let's go get tacos!"

He was glad to have changed the topic. "Lead the way, Princess Minnie!"

Ah, yeah, probably wasn't gonna let that one die.

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