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     Itchy was too weak to budge. “Fly away,” she begged Niki. “You can make it without me.”
     “Now that really WOULD botch your rescue,” the dove cheeped. “I didn't desert you to the fish … and I'll not desert you to this overgrown eye-full—”
     “Rrrr-r-r... Did someone say 'dessert'?” The Cyclops reached into the straw and scooped up Itchy and Niki both. 
     Pecking and scratching didn't phase the thick-skinned brute, so Niki hastily plied some of her diplomatic skills. “If you please, we mean no harm, uh, Sir … Pardon our intrusion … my friend and I ran afoul in this storm, and sought respite in your lovely—Oww-w-w!”
     The Cyclops pinched Niki, then tossed her into a pot of boiling water. “Rrrr-r-r! Too much talk … too little meat. Tender squab make good soup!”
     Instead of plunking Itchy in however, he dangled the little grub over the fire's light for closer inspection. “Bloody Bugger!” He stared at Itchy's one bulging eye. Then a wide, crooked grin, split open across the cyclops' face. “You cyclops!” he exclaimed, and set Itchy down gently on the table. 
     The giant's whole gnarly face was lit with glee. His eye sparkled and his growls turned to genteel murmurings. “Mmm-m-m … Not eat you. I not cannibal …You share soup with 'big brother'. You like squab?”
     “Yes ...” Itchy wasn't sure how to respond to this startling turnaround. “NO!” He cried upon realizing what he said. “I mean, yes, like her—she my friend! Don't eat … PLEASE! Take her out of hot pot … HURRY!”
     “Happy to oblige, 'little brother',” said the Cyclops. Without so much as blinking his eye, he stuck a fist into the boiling water and extracted Niki. He then proceeded to blow on her, like one would a burnt finger. After a quick once over to be sure the dove wasn't hurt, he flashed a broad, mostly toothless smile, then set her beside his 'little brother'. “Now we all have broth, without squab, for supper!”
     Itchy embraced Niki, then nodded agreeably at the meal offer. Niki, glad as she was to be safe again, declined. Her tail feathers were rather frizzled, and the cyclops' not-so-minty breath had left her feeling woozy. “I've already had some … Thank you.”