I woke up again, covered in tigers.

Maro’s arm was over my back, and he was sleeping with his cheek pressed against mine.  Or rather—the absence of feline snores from his direction suggested maybe he was still awake.

I pulled in closer to him, and softly murmured his name into his ear.

“K’haiso, you should be sleeping.”  His voice was full of sleep itself; I wondered if maybe I had woken him up after all.

“Maro, who was Kaido?”

His arm gripped me tighter to him, pulling me into his stripy warmth.  “Our brother,” he said.

I nuzzled into his powerful arm and didn’t say anything.

He leaned in closer and I could feel his breath on the fur of my ear.

“Our brother who was lost to the sea.”

It was sad enough to hear the words.  It was worse to feel the tiger shaking against me, eyes shut, entirely unafraid of showing his tears.

“Our brother who never came home…”

And he only held me tighter, and kissed my forehead, still trembling with the emotion.

“Sleep, wuafo,” he said, and I knew it ought to be impossible, because my tears were wetting his fur and I couldn’t make them stop.  But sleep came anyway and soon enough it was morning.