"With a mighty roar, the furrifying space lioness pounces on her prey from above!"
"There is no 'above' in space, Nepeta," says her moirail, standing there like a tree and not at all like prey brought down by a pouncebeast. She huffs and perches more comfortably on his shoulders, one knee on each, and leans over his head between his horns. She knows there is no way he'll move one inch and risk even scratching her with the broken edges of the left one like she knows the pitch and yaw of her own mech, or the exact reach of her claws.
"Well we aren't in space now," she says through a pout, watching him upside-down.
"I seem to recall being told repeatedly that the goal of this foalish -- ngh -- foolish exercise was make-believe. If we must believe ourselves to be out in space then you are running counter to the internal logic of your own system."
No matter how cheesed off she otherwise is, horse puns are always instant grins. She grins. She's in nose-biting range; her moirail just sighs, patiently.
And then he avoids her eyes.
"The wise lioness sniffs out the tracks of something hiding in the bushes, something sneaky… but not sneaky enough!"
"Nepeta, I am a busy troll. If you would please stop beating around the nonexistent bush…"
"And just pounce already? That's less fun!" Huff! Sigh. "But sure, I can do that."
She wraps her arms around his neck, forearms tucked under his chin. She settles her chin on his forehead, his horns on either side of her throat. He's still waiting, steady, tools in hand.
He asked her to pounce, so she does.
"I want you to visit my cockpit befur you visit Aradia's."
He was steady like a tree; now he's frozen like an ice Equius. His shoulders start getting slippery. No matter; she's well secured. She won't fall.
"I -- w-what is this -- what in Space -- Nepeta!"
"I would really really apurreciate it," she says, all quiet and a bit sad and so, so serious, because nothing else will get through, and she wants him to know it hurts a bit that he almost did it the other way around.
"Why -- that is preposterous -- I am not getting into anyone's cockpit! Certainly not the way you make it sound, oh dear, you wretched creature, you do mean while the -- the psychic fluid is still --"
"Well yes!" she chirps, lets him hear the grin in her voice. "It's not much fun ofurwise."
Sometimes she says silly shocking things just because it settles Equius' nerves to point it out to her, and it takes his mind off the worse things. She's pretty sure he can tell but it never stops working either.
"That is so completely lewd! Shameless! How can I have failed to educate you so, that you would ever udder those words in public -- argh, and now you have me punning again. This is positively ludicrous."
Punning is a wiggler thing, in his eyes. Nepeta just thinks it's fun. Also she has it on good authority that the Empress herself still puns, so she's pretty sure it's another 'being adult is being old enough to stop caring about not seeming grown up enough!' Or at least it's her excuse and she's sticking to it.
She giggles, and then she rubs her chin against his forehead, since she doesn't want to release her hold to pap him and risk slipping. She wouldn't even so, but he'd fret about the possibility. "Shoosh, shoosh, the lioness knows how to set an ambush. She clefurly waited until she and her prey were aaaaall alone in the repurrs bay."
"That might show a sliver of--"
He can berate her all night if she lets him get going. "Aradia," she says.
Her moirail falls silent.
Above them the mechs are standing, huge and quiet and waiting. She knows they won't tell the secrets they overhear.
For one thing, her Pounce would get quite hissy at them, and she has a lot more claws to bring to bear now.
"I refuse to see how this base creature would ever be connected to me at all, especially in such a depraved way," he says. But he doesn't sound huffy, he sounds heartbroken. She rubs her jaw on him wordlessly. "…In addition to the moral issues, the technical ones suffice to make this impossible."
"Tafuros is helping you with them though, isn't he. I asked. He said so."
He didn't expect her to know that. He splutters. "Nepeta! That -- it's irrelevant. It doesn't mean I would ever--"
"It means, I think you should."
She closes her eyes. They're prickling.
"But she's not your quadrant yet, and I am, so I want to go first."
"Nepeta, she -- that base creature --"
She hisses a warning. Not for herself, even though she likes Aradia a lot. For him. He's trying to distance himself, and she's getting tired of it.
"Very well, she," he says, pointedly, and then his annoyance flags, "…she will never be in my quadrants."
"Well of course if you don't ask!"
"Don't be silly," he says, very softly. No one else has ever heard him speak so softly, except from her and Aradia. Aradia wasn't conscious enough to appreciate at the time. "You know why I cannot. Please do not make me spell it out."
"Okay," she says, and he twitches underneath her because it was the last thing he expected to hear. "You can think it at me instead. We can hash it out and we will nefur have to speak."
"And if you convince me that way, you know I will stay convinced! Beclaws I'll know exactly how much and why you mean it, and you'll know exactly why I objected and stuff."
She doesn't think he'll convince her, because she knows she's right. In matters of heart she always is. Equius is so blind about his own needs, he thinks so hard he never lets himself feel. Silly foal.
"And beclaws I want that," she whispers in his hair, "with you."
He gives in, the way she always knew he would, though of course he has to grouse about it, to save face. He's flushed blue from forehead to throat. "I cannot believe I am allowing you to talk me into such utterly perverted misuse of technology. You are a horrid influence."
"You're a very good one," she lies politely. He's a very unfun one, it's tragic how unfun he is. That she would bother with polite lies is all on him, though. In a way it's a compliment. "So… put down your tools and let's go!"
"Beg pardon -- now?"
"When better? The hangar's all empty and Pounce is parked juuuust right to hide the cameras." She pushes herself up a bit so she can look into his eyes upside-down once again, and she beams. "Onward, brave hoofbeast! the lioness says, and licks her paw, pleased with the kill."
He's cleaning his hands with a rag and looking distressed. "This is so entirely lewd."
"Shoosh," Nepeta says gently, and caresses the side of his face. "Let's just go meet my mom."
Later after they've laid each other bare and slept and dreamed together they come out with wisps of each other still wound around themselves and he stalks up straight to Aradia's mech even though the morning crew is all over the hangar already and staring at him all slack-jaw. Nepeta exercises some hierarchical rights she never thought much of to scare people into clearing out and gossiping quietly.