The sleigh turned out, much to Viola’s surprise, to actually be halfway decent. It was battered all to hell, of course – from what Amelia had told her, Mortimer wasn’t exactly rich, and she doubted his friends were either – but it had properly steel-shod runners, sides which weren’t completely full of holes, and seats which actually felt as though they’d take weight for more than ten minutes before collapsing in a pile of broken timber and splinters in uncomfortable places.
And, absolute wonder of wonders, it had blankets. Moth-eaten, scratchy, obviously-second-or-third-hand blankets, admittedly, but blankets nonetheless.
“Are you sure you’re comfortable?” Amelia asked, for the third time in as many minutes. She fussed with the edge of Viola’s blanket-cocoon, tucking the frayed edges carefully down around her. “If the sleigh goes over a bump or something-”
“I’ll be fine,” Viola said, biting the inside of her cheek slightly to stop herself from bursting out laughing. It’d hurt Amelia’s feelings if she laughed, almost certainly, and it wasn’t as though the younger girl wasn’t being a properly responsible caretaker for someone who’d been shot in the leg less than an hour before. It was just… that I’m a werewolf, and she’s treating me as though I’m some poor wounded human cub who can’t even heal herself. I know she’s worried, and I’m pretty sure she’s blaming herself and trying not to show it, but it’s also utterly and hilariously adorable.
“I’ll drive slowly,” Mortimer put in, looking back over his shoulder from his perch on the driver’s bench at the front of the sleigh. He patted the seat next to him. “D’you want to ride up front with me, Amelia? That way you can tell me straight away if I’m going too fast for the two of you.”
And you can get some time together before you have to drop her off at the townhouse. You’re not subtle, you know.
Then again, she amended, watching as Amelia scrambled up to sit on the bench beside him and nestled unselfconsciously against his side, I don’t think you were trying to be. The two of you are obviously a good deal more comfortable with each other than that.
It wasn’t as though it should have been surprising – they were betrothed, after all – but seeing it was an entirely different matter. She couldn’t help feeling a slight pang of… something – loss, perhaps? – as she watched the two of them cuddling up to one another. It’s not as though this was never going to happen. I just thought… I thought I’d have more time where she was just my sister, I suppose.
And, with a sudden, lurching, sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach, What am I going to do if she decides she doesn’t want to me to come with her when she’s married?
“Vi? Are you alright?”
She blinked, looked up, and found Amelia practically on top of her, the younger girl having dropped down off the driver’s bench and onto the seat opposite. “Wha-?”
“You looked like you were in pain – do you need something for it? I can ask Harry if he’s got any laudanum in the cupboard upstairs, or-”
Viola extricated a hand from the tangle of blankets and held it up, cutting Amelia off mid-sentence with a smile that she couldn’t hide. “No, no, no, I’m alright. It was just a twinge, that’s all.”
Amelia frowned, leaning in closer until her nose was practically touching Viola’s. “I think you’re lying, Vi. You’re doing that thing you do with the corners of your eyes when you’re trying to hide something.”
I- What? That’s the first I’ve heard of the fact I have a tell!
“I think it hurts more than you’re letting on,” the younger girl declared, seriously. She turned her head, looking back up at Mortimer. “Harry, did you say you had some laudanum upstairs? I think Vi might need some.”
Mortimer nodded. “I’ll go get it. Sorry, Miss Cervanso – I should have realised earlier you weren’t doing so well. Bullet wounds tend to sting more than you’re expecting, don’t they?”
“First time I’ve been shot, actually,” Viola said, though she had to admit to being secretly pleased by the assumption. At least he’s not gone straight for thinking I’m just a lady’s maid. “Though you’re not wrong about the bloody stinging.”
He winced in sympathy. “I’ll be as quick as I can.”
“Ah, it’s nothing. And, besides,” he added, dropping down from the sleigh, “it’s the least I can do for the woman who saved my fiancee’s life.”
Which, Viola had to admit, was true.
Amelia watched him walk away, and waited until the door had closed behind him. Then she sighed, leaned her head against Viola’s shoulder, and said, quietly, “Now do you believe me?”
“That he’s on the level?”
“As much as I believe it about anyone,” Viola admitted. She bent her head down, resting her cheek on Amelia’s curls. “I don’t know, ‘melia. You’re clever, and you’re brave, and he seems to recognise both of those things about you, and… yes, fine, he seems as honest as you’re saying he is. I just want to get to know him a wee bit better before I’m ready to call him a brother-in-law.”
“If that’s the problem, that’s easily solved,” the younger girl said, suddenly cheerful again. She sat up, wrapping Viola’s hand in both of hers, and leaned in close. “Now you’ve met him – and, specifically, you’re not trying to stop me seeing him – you can come with me when I go visit him again! I mean, assuming you’re alright with-” She stopped, flushing slightly.
“Waiting outside with a book?” Viola finished for her, teasingly.
“Well… yes!” She blushed darker, looking away. “It’s not what you’re thinking, I promise. But… it’d be nice to have some time to just the two of us.”
“I understand. And,” she added, when the younger girl’s blushes had faded a little, “I promise I won’t break the door down if I start hearing… noises.”
Amelia blinked, then squeaked in outrage, face practically glowing. “Vi! You know I wouldn’t!”
“I know,” Viola said, grinning. “That’s why I’m teasing you about it.” She pulled the younger girl close, ruffling her hair. “You know, compared to baiting Sinnlenst and getting involved in gang warfare, I’ll admit that cuddling up with a possibly-slightly-unsuitable boy suddenly doesn’t actually seem all that much of an actual threat.”
“Knew you’d see it my way,” Amelia said. She looked up at Viola, and grinned, suddenly and wickedly. “Though if we’re talking about noises…”
Oh no. “‘melia, don’t you dare.”
“You were loud. And comprehensive.” She stuck out her tongue, obviously pleased by Viola’s discomfort. “I didn’t know you knew that many swearwords in Sacaask – let alone all the other languages.”
“It was good sex, alright? And some of the swearing wasn’t me.” Which was true. She’d learned a whole lot from Tanna during that relationship, including a few particularly interesting dialect curses that’d become a permanent part of her vocabulary. “Besides, it wasn’t as though we thought anyone else was home.”
“I know,” Amelia replied, though she’d not stopped grinning. “It was still funny, though.”
“And utterly sodding mortifying, yes. Thank you for the reminder.” But she couldn’t be angry with the other girl, even if the memory was making her cheeks burn as red as Amelia’s torn jacket. “I’m going to miss this, y’know.”
“Miss it?” Amelia repeated, brow furrowed in sudden worry. “Why? Where’re you going?” She bit her lip, fingers tightening around Viola’s hand. “Your wound’s not that bad, is it? Oh gods, Vi, if-”
“Shush, ‘melia! No, not that. I just meant…” She swallowed, the words sticking in her throat. “I meant… oh spirits and ancestors, I meant I’m going to miss you when you get married.”
It was such an honest, open question that Viola was taken off guard for a moment. She swallowed hard again, the corners of her eyes prickling with hot, unshed tears, and tried to think of how on earth to answer.
Thankfully, Amelia did it for her. Her brown eyes widened in sudden realisation, and she shook her head violently, almost dislodging the jewelled butterfly clip nestled in her curls. “Oh, Viola! No! No, I wouldn’t! I don’t- how could you- it’s-” She broke off, closed her eyes, and composed herself with an obvious effort of will. “No. You’re staying with me, and that’s that, and I don’t care if anyone else doesn’t like it. I’d- I’d- I’d rather cut off my own arm than send you away!”
Oh ‘melia. I don’t think I could ask for a better sister. The back of her throat tightened and she screwed her eyes shut, trying to stop the tears she knew were coming. I’m tired, that’s all. I’m tired, it’s late – oh, and there’s a sodding bullet hole in my leg. Anyone’d be tearing up in this scenario. Honest.
“Vi… Vi, you’re crying. What’s wrong?”
Absolutely nothing. But the words wouldn’t come – and, even if they had, they wouldn’t have expressed exactly what she was feeling. She shook her head, pulled the younger girl tight against her, and hugged her close.
“I’ll… I’ll just put this down here, shall I?” Mortimer said. He reached awkwardly into the sleigh, placing a battered-looking wooden box on the seat opposite Viola, and smiled slightly embarrassedly at the two of them. “I take it you’re riding in the back, love?”
Amelia frowned, pulling back from the hug and looking between Viola and Mortimer in obvious consternation. “I… don’t know. Er.”
“Ride up front,” Viola said, and this time there was no bitterness hiding behind the words. She had her sister, after all, and nothing anyone else could do would change that.
Even if I’m still a little worried he’s just slightly too good to be true.
“I think the sun’s coming up,” Anneke observed, stifling a yawn. They peered up at the roof of the library, where a thin line of light was leaking through the snow covering the curved glass dome of the skylight, and nodded to themselves decisively. “Yes. That definitely looks like the sun.”
“Oh good,” Fest said, not even bothering to hide the note of defeat in his voice. They’d been at this for hours now, and, as far as he could tell, they were still no closer to working out a foolproof way to stop whatever it was Lucy was doing to him, let alone finding out how to take down her monster for good if it came after either of them again.
But we’ve found out her ancestor was probably a Sinnlenst sorceror. I suppose that’s worth something.
I just wish I knew what on earth we could actually do with it.
He yawned, stretched, and, as something in the back of his neck crunched in a fun and exciting way, made a mental note not to start calculating exactly how few hours of sleep he’d managed to get over the course of the last couple of days. “Fun as this has been, I do have classes in a few hours, and I was hoping to get some breakfast in before then. If you wanted to accompany me…?”
For a moment, it looked as though Anneke might actually say no – for someone who’d been quite so opposed to coming to the library in the first place, they certainly seemed to have fallen head over heels for it in the few hours they’d been there. Then they smiled a little, nodded, and got to their feet, shovelling papers and notebooks back into their satchel. “I’d love to. It’s been a very long time since I actually ate somewhere that wasn’t the temple.” They paused, the skin between their eyebrows creasing slightly in concentration. “Come to think of it, I think it’s been a fairly long time since I actually ate. Unless you count coffee, which I suppose you could given the amount of cream and sugar I put into it – possibly that makes it some kind of soup?”
Fest stared at them for a moment, honestly at something of a loss for how to respond to that. Finally he settled on carefully but firmly handing them the last of their papers, picking up the biggest of the stacks of books and, with another yawn that he couldn’t quite manage to stop, asking them if there was anything they particularly wanted to eat for breakfast.
It turned out there was. Or, rather, it turned out that there were multiple things they wanted, or wanted to try, or had opinions on the existence of, or just wanted to talk about in general (he hadn’t realised anyone could have so many thoughts about pancakes, let alone express them all without apparently stopping to breathe). And, by the time they’d just about run out of things to have opinions on – or, at least, run out of breath for the time being – he’d managed to get them out of the library, down the corridor, and most of the way out of the building without them either doubling back to ‘just take one more look at that page’ or going off on a rant about how much they disliked the University.
That… went far better than it had any right to. I mean, it wasn’t exactly the most subtle of tactics, but still.
“-but I think I probably do also want coffee, all the same. I like tea – of course I like tea, everyone does – but I think coffee’s better when it comes to actually letting me think faster, though I’m not entirely certain that’s not actually psychosomatic. It works, though, whether it’s entirely in my head or not, and I’m definitely not the only person who thinks so, so there’s at least some sort of effect there. I’m not sure what about it causes that particular reaction, though I think I read a monograph once which suggested it was something to do with where the beans are grown, which might-” They broke off, looking around them in some confusion. “Did we leave the library when I wasn’t looking?”
“Yes. Sorry.” And, because he was apparently incapable of not being honest sometimes, he added, “I may have been deliberately distracting you. I’ll own it wasn’t exactly fair of me, but I really do need food, and if you’ve not had anything to eat in so long you can’t remember when your last meal was, so do you.”
“I absolutely agree with you,” Anneke said, surprising him a little. They frowned, poking their stomach experimentally. “Especially given the fact that talking about food has reminded me that hunger actually exists, and now I think I might be feeling it.”
“You… think you might be hungry?”
“Well, yes. Either that or I have a stomachache. Or I’m nervous. I’m not exactly sure which.” They poked their stomach again – it growled alarmingly loudly, and they pulled a face. “That sounds like it’s probably hunger, doesn’t it?”
“I’d say!” Fest exclaimed, feeling a sudden urge to rifle through his pockets on the offchance there might be some forgotten snacks hidden in there. “Let’s get you some breakfast. The dining hall’s just across the quad from here – they should be serving by now, even if the majority of the other students won’t be out of bed yet.”
“And you won’t get in trouble for bringing me in with you?” Anneke asked.
Fest shook his head. “We’re allowed one or two guests, provided they’re not obviously attempting to steal the silver. And besides, you’re a priest – I’m not sure they’re actually allowed to object to you, even if they wanted to.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” the priest in question muttered, darkly. They patted the flap of their satchel, as if checking that it was still there. “Maybe they’ll take offence at the fact I’ve been stealing secrets from their oh-so-precious library.”
“The library that you fell so in love with that you emptied half the shelves in pursuit of half a notebook’s worth of knowledge we didn’t actually need?” Fest teased.
Anneke pulled a face. “Alright, alright. I will admit that it’s impressive, and I’ll admit that I was wrong about them not valuing certain types of learning. Though I still think their canonical texts for most of the lower-level courses are completely-”
“And you can tell me about that when we’re back at the temple,” Fest broke in, forestalling the inevitable rant. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to hear Anneke’s opinions – far from it, in fact – but he also really didn’t want to have to explain to one of his professors what he was doing with a guest who had quite so much to say on the way the University was run. “For now, breakfast.”
From the look on Anneke’s face, they were about half a breath away from carrying on regardless. But then they crossed the threshold of the refectory, and whatever they might have said was washed clean away in a flood of noise and light and the smell of enough cooked breakfast to feed an entire army of hungry students and faculty.
“Good?” he asked.
Anneke nodded, eyes wide as they stared around the room. “Good. Though I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite so many people in one place before.”
Fest laughed. “This is just the folk with early lectures. The rest of the place won’t be up for another hour – half of them will have been out drinking last night, and the other half will be taking the opportunity to have a lie in because they’ll have early lectures tomorrow.” He guided the little priest through the throng to a pair of seats on the end of one of the long tables, making sure they were close enough to the door to be able to slip out if needed. “Is there anything you don’t eat? Otherwise I’m a little tempted to just get some of everything.”
“That sounds good,” they agreed, though they sounded more than a little distracted. “Are you sure this isn’t everyone? There’re so many people already.”
“I’m sure.” Though, now that they’d mentioned it… “It’s more crowded than normal, though, I’ll give you that. I wonder if there’s something going on that I missed a message about – I haven’t checked my pigeonhole in a day or two, so it’s possible.”
“Mr Fest. I must admit, I’m honestly surprised to see you up so early, though I congratulate you on your newfound devotion to your studies. I’ll assume this seat isn’t taken?”
Oh for the sake of all the gods, why did it have to be him? Fest thought. He groaned internally, looking up to meet a pair of familiar cold brown eyes behind steel-rimmed spectacles – spectacles which, intriguingly, looked significantly more battered than they had the last time he’d met their owner. “What do you want, Avebury?”
“I should have thought the answer to that would have been obvious,” the Sinnlenst replied, pulling out a chair and settling himself companionably close to Anneke, who flinched almost imperceptibly away from him. “Or are the dietary habits of humans quite so difficult for your kind to understand?”
“There’s plenty of other tables. You’re welcome to go sit anywhere else you damn well please.”
“And what if I don’t please? Are you willing to use your witchery to get rid of me?”
That was obvious, even for you. And, come to think of it, Avebury looked a good deal less put-together than he normally did. Quite apart from the spectacles, which looked as though they’d very possibly been trodden on at some point, he had a black eye coming in, a split lip, and a mess of bruising over the bridge of his nose – a nose which, to Fest’s eye, looked just a little more crooked than it had done the last time they’d talked. I wonder who happened to your face.
I wonder if, if I asked them nicely, they’d happen to it again.
“I’m not going to rise to that,” he said, quietly, and tried to ignore the fact that his hands had started shaking.
Avebury shrugged, apparently unperturbed. “I doubted you would. Have you acquired the research I asked you for? I can’t help noticing that time is not entirely on your side.”
“I still have a week.”
“That isn’t an answer, Mr Fest.”
“I still have a week,” he repeated, looking down at the table and hating himself just a little for doing so. It should have been easy to stand up to Avebury – he was just another student, after all, even if he was an arrogant prig of one – but somehow, faced with the opportunity, all he could do was try his hardest not to back down and agree to anything in order to get him to go away. He’s just a bully. A bully who, admittedly, could ruin my life if I don’t play his game, but…
Avebury laughed. “You do, as you so astutely put it, still have a week. And, given the fact that I doubt my presence is going to spur you to further heights of activity, I’ll find myself another table while you mull over the consequences of failing to provide me what I asked for.” He stood up, pushing back his chair, and looked down at Anneke. “Oh, and you? You can tell your friends in the temple that my friends know who they are. All of them.” He smiled, sketched a bow, and turned on his heel, disappearing back into the throng of students queuing at the door to the buttery.
Fest waited until he was out of earshot. Then he sighed, dropped his head onto the table, and said, very very quietly, “Fuck.”
“I agree,” Anneke said. They leant forward, placing their hand gently on top of Fest’s, and squeezed his fingers. “Though there’s one thing he hasn’t thought of.”
They smiled. “You have me.”
Sabbat came back to consciousness slowly, clawing his way up and out of half-remembered dreams of blood, and dark water, and silver mazes with no end and no beginning.
The sun had come up while he was asleep, darkness and mist giving way to clear air, warmth – or, at least, as much warmth as you ever got in a Sacaask midwinter – and snow-light that was almost painfully bright even through closed eyelids. And, more unusual than all of that, a complete and utter absence of pain.
For a moment he just lay there, eyes squeezed shut against the brightness, trying to get his head around the fact. It felt like Smoke – no, better than Smoke: like bathing in a hot spring, but as though the heat of the water was somehow coming from inside your fucking bones. It felt like flying, like he’d taken that step off a rooftop and somehow ended up caught in the moment right before gravity took back what he’d stolen from it. Like the flash of fire in your belly after the first hit of good strong liqour, or the red rage taking you in the middle of a fight, or… fuck, everything else that felt like singing in your bones and the world gone right for a change.
It felt good.
Which was why he didn’t trust it for an instant.
He wasn’t stupid. More to the point, he knew for a fact that, for all Archer’s tirades against his using the Smoke were annoying, they had a grain of truth buried in the bottom of them – the fact that it made him feel so good he wanted to keep using it was a problem, even if it was one he wasn’t planning on trying to deal with any time soon. And this? This felt better than Smoke. This felt so fucking good that all he wanted to do was lie there and enjoy it, and let the rest of the world go hang for… fuck, forever, if that was what it took to ensure he’d never have to stop feeling this good again.
And that’s fucked. Nothing feels this good without a price.
He knew what the price for Smoke was. And, knowing it, he’d made the decision to keep using, because right now the alternative was worse – no Smoke meant too much pain to do his job properly, which meant almost certain death when someone faster, stronger, or just plain luckier came along. The price for this, though? This was magic. This was that sixdamn box. And the price for weird fucking magic tended to be a whole lot higher than anything he was willing to pay.
And yet, he still wasn’t moving.
Come on. This thing’s obviously doing something bad. Probably got a sodding curse woven into it and all, and that’d be if we’re lucky. Get rid of it.
But still, it felt so fucking good not to be in pain. And, if his memories of last night were anything to go by, the moment he dropped the box he’d be lucky not to start choking on the bruises Caine’d left on his throat.
‘-going to have to cut a hole in your throat so you can breathe.’ Fuck that. Not having my throat slit, not by her, not by anybody.
Then again, was having someone stick a knife in his throat worse than whatever the box was doing to him?
Fuck. Not awake enough for this shit. Need Smoke.
And, once he’d taken the edge off, the Smoke’d block out the pain enough that he’d be able to drop the damn box. Wouldn’t stop him choking, mind, if that was what was going to happen, but…
Smoke doesn’t feel as good as this. Could just keep lying here. And, treacherous and low at the back of his mind, Not as though Archer can get sanctimonious about this, after all.
Ha! If I didn’t know better, I’d swear he could hear when I’m thinking about him. He cracked an eye open, squinting against the light, and looked across the room in the direction of the voice.
Archer was sitting on one of the crates near the window, right in the shaft of sunlight streaming in through the dirty glass. He’d pulled another, bigger crate across to use as a writing desk, and laid out paper, pen and travelling inkwell on it, for all the world as though he was setting up to take notes in the library at the university rather than a garrett in the middle of Sacaan’s most notorious slum. He’d also, Sabbat noticed, stripped down to his shirtsleeves, unbuttoned his waistcoat, and loosened his neckscarf – which was, for some reason, distracting in a whole lot of ways he really didn’t need to think about right now.
That’s the magic talking. The fuck do I care whether he’s dressed properly or not? Not like I haven’t seen him shirtless before.
“Mornin’” Talking hurt his throat, but it wasn’t half as bad as it’d been before the box – and, more to the point, getting words out was going some way towards distracting him from the specifics of what seeing Archer halfway to undressed had done to his ability to concentrate (among other things). “Writin’?”
“Well spotted,” the vampire said, folding up the piece of paper he’d been working on and sticking it under the inkwell. “A couple of short letters to our mutual friends from yesterday’s meeting, giving them something of the context surrounding Rose’s murder, and giving them advance warning of another meeting sometime in the next few days.”
And reassuring them we ain’t both dead, I suspect, Sabbat added, silently. He’d not managed to explain much of what had happened to him last night – between the tiredness, the bloodloss, and the alcohol he’d insisted on swigging as part of the first-aid, he’d fallen asleep far faster than he’d expected – but the little he’d managed to get across had made Archer pull the kind of faces he normally reserved for full-on Order disasters, and he suspected the vampire’d spent half the night trying to fill in the gaps and work out exactly how fucked they all were as a result. “Bad?”
“It could be significantly worse,” Archer admitted. He got up, walked across to the bed, and sat down heavily on the foot of it. “As it is, I’m proceeding under the assumption that Viola, Miss Luciel and Avebury all got away from the ambush – I’ll know more when my messenger gets back with Viola’s reply to the letter I sent to her – and that whoever it was you ran into on the rooftops has likely been at least mildly inconvenienced, if not actually significantly hurt.” He paused, rubbing his thumb across the seal of his signet ring, and frowned. “Are you sure it was Caine?”
“Fucksake!” Sabbat exploded, sitting bolt upright in irritation, and then regretted it almost instantly as the back of his throat spasmed in sudden pain. He doubled up, coughing hard enough to send black spots scattering across his vision, and, as the pressure of the box against his torso eased for a second, felt rather than saw the spray of blood spatter across the sheet over his knees. Fucking hellfire! I thought the damn magic was supposed to stop this fucking happening!
He choked, gagging on spit and gore and nothing at all, fingers clawing at a neckscarf that suddenly seemed as tight as a fucking noose. Hands caught his, warm and dry, pressing him back down against the bed – he fought, bucking up against the pressure, but the movement pressed the edge of the box back against the bare skin of his stomach, and suddenly the warmth flooded back, up into his torso, his shoulders, his neck, easing the tightness in his throat as though it’d never been there to begin with.
“…Well,” Archer said, after a moment, and Sabbat wasn’t entirely certain he was imagining the slight unsteadiness in the other man’s voice. “You are not going anywhere for the foreseeable future.”
He wanted to argue – after all, what fucking authority did Archer have to tell him what to do? – but, given what’d just happened, he was halfway inclined to agree. And, even if he hadn’t been, he doubted he was going to get more than a few steps across the room under his own power right now. True, he’d got back to the Daggers on his own last night, but that’d been partly using the box and partly running on adrenaline he didn’t have: he’d borrowed hard, and all the debts’d come due well before he was able to properly pay ‘em and keep moving at the same time.
“And when Radish gets back with that letter, I’m going to send her for a doctor,” Archer continued. “Because you’re not arguing with me right now, and that makes me very, very worried.”
Bastard. He knew Archer knew how he felt about sawbones, even the Order’s ones. But the magic of the box made trying to tell him as much feel just… too much fucking effort right now. Better to just close your eyes and let everything fade-
Something hit him, hard, across the cheek, leaving a stinging pain that, for all the box’s efforts, cut through the fog that’d started to blanket his mind again. He opened his eyes, meeting Archer’s worried stare, and found the unfrozen corner of his mouth curling upward in something that was almost a smile. “Y’slapped me?”
“Yes. I’m not exactly happy about it either, believe me, but it was the only way I could think of to stop you falling asleep on me.”
“Din’t- ngh- think y’had it in you.”
That actually got a laugh, even if it still sounded shaky as all hells (and that – that actually worried Sabbat more than he was willing to admit). “Honestly? I may not be quite as happy to use my fists to settle arguments as you are, but give me the benefit of assuming that I’m not completely unwilling to get my hands dirty, will you?”
“Eh. ‘s fair.” He could feel the edges of the fog still, silver-edged tendrils curling around the corners of his thoughts, but it seemed to be fading, pushed back into the shadows by the other man’s presence. “Archer?”
“Keep talkin’, will y’?”
“Of course.” He settled himself back down on the foot of the bed, one hand resting on Sabbat’s leg. “What do you want to talk about?”
Copyright © 2020 by Finn McLellan. All rights reserved.
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