One Big Weird Fambly
Oophaga had taken in the little bokku hatchling without hesitation. She was small and cute and helpless and needed him. He’d gone from having no family to having Clickity, then Thisbe and Far, and now, this little one. It was just sort of something that had organically happened and felt quite natural, so he hadn’t thought much about it before. He decided he might as well take it in now.
Friends had always been important to Oophaga. He was very social and accepting and easygoing as a rule, but now that he had something of an adopted family, he was beginning to learn that it was also very nice to have certain others you are more close with than everyone else, who are around you more, and you take care of each other. Also being able to count on a sleeping pile more often than not was a big plus. Oophaga was a power snuggler and rather dedicated to the art of the cuddle puddle.
However, though he may not be the brightest creature, his emotional intelligence was second to none and he certainly knew that you didn’t just bring someone in to that inner circle without at least making sure it was okay with the rest of them. He’d stayed with the baby that night rather than returning with her to the usual nest, so that she wouldn’t be too overwhelmed. Thisbe wouldn’t worry too much, as occasionally one or the other of them did this if they’d wandered a bit far or got distracted, and she wouldn’t be cold because she had Far with her. But now he had to find her and introduce this new element into the family unit.
He placed the baby on his back, between his wings, and Clickity flew to his usual perch on his head, and off they set. He called out as he went to her favorite places (all of which were places she could collect food). Eventually he heard, and then saw, Far flying overhead and knew that Thisbe would be close by. Joyfully he exclaimed to her “look, I’ve found a little bokku hatchling! I think she should be part of our family.” He reached up and picked up the baby and set her down as Thisbe came bounding up.
“Let me see let me see let me see” she chittered excitedly. She halted in front of the bokku, who was looking at her just as curiously. She circled, both to check for injuries and because she’d never seen a bokku up close.
“So cute so cute!” She cried, scooping up the baby, who squealed happily. Thisbe’s enthusiasm could be very contagious. She twirled with the hatchling held out in front of her, which made her giggle, and then hugged her and nuzzled her with her nose.
“Our very own baby!” she said, pleased. “You can be the dad and I will be the mommy.”
“I don’t think we’re a couple,” said Oophaga. He paused for a moment. “Wait. Are we?” Now he was confused. He hadn’t felt that way about Thisbe, but he thought that parents were usually mates, so maybe that meant that they were because they were a family...
Thisbe waved a paw dismissively. “Pssh, you don’t need to be romantic to be a mommy and a daddy, you just have to be in a family together and for there to be a baby.”
“Oh, that makes sense!” Ooph said happily, relieved that he hadn’t gotten it wrong after all.
Thisbe had not set down the baby. She held her at arm’s length, regarding her closely, tilting her head to and fro. The baby was tilting her own head in response. A game! She kept giggling. New mommy was very fun.
Of course, Thisbe was thinking of a good name. She liked to name things. “Merisel!” she declared finally. “That’s what we’ll call you. Sel for short.”
“Aw! I like that name,” said Oophaga. “Baby Marisel. It’s perfect.”
“Now let’s get you some food!” said Thisbe, satisfied with her new charge. She remembered her own baby days- babies had to eat small amounts frequently.
“I fed her some berries last night, and she ate them,” Oophaga explained, “but I’m not sure what else a bokku will eat. And she’s not speaking yet, I think she’s only just hatched.”
“Well, we can just offer her different things, and see what she likes” responded Thisbe. “Seeds or nuts, fruit, whatever we can find.”
With this decided, they set off for their favorite patch of berry bushes, knowing that at least they could start there, since she’d already proven to like berries.
By the end of the day, they learned that Merisel would eat seeds, nuts, berries and other fruit, nectar, and the occasional flower petal. Sated, safe, and cozy, she sighed in contentment as they all cuddled together in their tree root hollow. Ooph was the biggest so he’d go in first and flop down, often curling up into a ball, and generally with Clickity leaving his head for a change to settle between his front feet. Then Thisbe would climb all over the patient draphibi until she finally decided where the coziest place would be. Far generally just flopped onto whoever was the “top” of the pile.
Thisbe tucked Merisel next to her and curled her fluffy tail around them both like a blanket. Then they both were covered with another blanket-like body part as Far pancake flopped next to them and spread one wing over them both. The tiny bokkudo was thrilled. It was like a fort! Nobody could see her, and she was warm and toasty. Merisel sighed again, all the terror and confusion of her brief time wandering alone entirely forgotten.
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