Kaden was pretty sure Cathal didn't believe him about how big Hecuba was, but then he guessed she was kinda a dog that had to be seen to be believed. He rubbed his hand absentmindedly on his jeans, though it didn't matter because they were black anyway, and he didn't mind smelling of oil, because it reminded him of Tragos.
He kept surreptitiously sniffing his fingers on the way over to Cathal's, whenever Marcie and Cathal weren't watching him (they were in the front of the car together, making some joke about sunglasses he wasn't paying enough attention to to understand.) Each time panged. But each time the pain faded, he breathed in that oily fingers smell and made it hurt all over again. It was like picking a scab, he couldn't really stop.
Kaden shoved his hands into his pockets as they climbed out of the car in front of Cathal's house, and Cathal led them round to the neighbours first, leaving Kaden and Marcie with the two very excited labradors in the garden while he went inside to fetch their food.
Seeing them made Kaden stiffen, even though they were just labradors, even though they were young and soft, even though the chocolate one was wiggling her whole body as she wagged her tail. He didn't flip, but he did freeze, his heart banging in his throat and his skin prickling with something between fear and adrenaline. He didn't want to freak out, though, they were just labs? And they really, really, really wanted him to love them? So why was he standing here like a statue, as one of the dogs licked his hand over and over, why couldn't he move?
Marcie moved then, in his peripheral vision, and Kaden forced himself to snap out of it and pat the dog before she could ask him why he was being a freak.
The chocolate lab vibrated even harder with happiness and Kaden thought he might shake apart too. Say something he told himself, looking over at Marcie. Say something you look like a freak!
"Soft," Kaden said, pointing at the dog's ear, and then pinched his mouth shut because that was such a dumb thing to say. Of course a dogs ear was soft. What a fucking idiot.