from a clear blue sky

Room 7
Sun and Moon Inn

Lanisen is laying on his stomach on the floor beneath the window, his head on his arms. He has been in this position for quite some time and might be thought to be asleep, but it is unbearably muggy – the just-before-a-storm sort of oppressive humidity – and he eventually rolls over onto his back to watch the silent lightning through the window. In the faint light, his forehead is shiny with sweat.

Colin is sitting on the bed with legs crossed. He quietly sifts through a couple pieces of battered parchment.

Lanisen sits up after twenty minutes or so and adjusts the stick propping the window open, attempting to catch a breeze. He spends rather more time staring absently down at the ground below than is strictly necessary for his task – two stories is not that far to jump.

Colin is somewhat distracted, his gaze glazed over with the air of someone who’s mind is a hundred miles away. He glances over at Lanisen at the movement but it doesn’t really appear to register what he is doing or even that he is there at all.

Lanisen remains at the window for some time, looking consideringly down at a potential escape. He lets out a long breath after a moment and turns away, having made or postponed his decision. When he realizes Colin is looking his direction, he jumps guiltily; apparently he thought he was unobserved.

Colin blinks, his mind sort of returning to reality. “What’s wrong?”

Lanisen blows out a breath and rubs the back of his neck. “Nothin’, why?”

Colin fiddles idlely with the parchment pieces, securing them inside his cloak. “Why did you jump?”

Lanisen says, “Didn’t jump.”

Colin gives him a Look. “Yes you did and you look guilty to boot.”

Lanisen just shrugs, dropping to the wall under the window. “Dunno where you been the last month.” There’s not /much/ snark in the tone.

Colin stretches one leg out in front of himself. “You need spectacles, mate. Been right here the whole time.”

Lanisen rolls his eyes slightly and gives Colin a sideways look.

Colin waves cheerily at him from the bed.

Lanisen shakes his head and thunks it back against the wall.

Colin shrugs and starts messing with his satchel. “Have it your way.”

Lanisen watches through half-closed eyes. After a minute he lifts his head and ventures, on the off-chance that Colin /did/ see and is just being weird, “Wasn’t gonna. Honest.”

Colin looks at him with an expression that reveals nothing. “Wasn’t going to what?”

Lanisen’s expression, on the other hand, is fairly transparent: oh-duh, followed shortly by you-idiot, followed by oh-well. He gestures wordlessly to the window.

Colin makes a non-committal sound as he rummages pointlessly through his satchel. “Probably smart you did nothing. I’m not very good at nursing broken ankles, let alone backs or necks.”

Lanisen’s eyebrows shoot up briefly. “It ain’t that–” he pauses to look out the window, hesitates, then finishes with bravado, “It ain’t /that/ high.”

Colin shoots him a bemused look. “Not high enough to kill but high enough to cause some nice, inconvenient and painful injury.”

Lanisen eyes him assessingly, then glances again at the window, gauging the distance with new wariness.

Colin watches him quietly, though he appears to be inspecting a green acorn he found in his bag.

Lanisen stands awkwardly for a moment, glancing from the window to Colin, then crosses to the hearth on the useless pretense of doing something with the already-dead fire.

Colin addresses him after a little while. “You’re restless. Something bothering you?”

Lanisen shakes his head, then shrugs and waves a hand vaguely, the gesture encompassing the four walls, the very locked door, the useless window, the stifling /waiting/ heat.

Colin hehs. “Enough to drive anyone mad.”

Lanisen says darkly, “Maybe we are already.”

Colin doesn’t seem put off by that statement. “Now there’s an idea.”

Lanisen half-grins lazily. “Maybe we’re not actually us,” he suggests, his voice sing-song and sleepy. “Maybe we’re other people and none of what we think is true really is. Maybe the real us-es are sleeping someplace an’ then they’ll wake up and want their selves back. Wonder what’d happen to us.”

Colin says dryly, “Utter chaos.”

Lanisen shrugs a little bit and scrubs at his eyes. “Would be. All our lives ‘n’ stuff’d be gone, just like that.”

Colin contemplates that for a moment. “That would be…interesting.”

Lanisen agrees, “Chaos.”

Colin nods.

Lanisen paces again to the window, reaches out and waves his hand around. “No breeze.”

Colin leans his head back against the wall behind him. “These are the worst summer days…” He groans.

Lanisen stares out over the visible landscape. “It’s stormin’ over /there/.” He points, jabbing one finger accusingly toward the storm.

Colin shrugs. “If it comes over /here/ it’d cool things off for a bit but the rain would just make it more muggy.”

Lanisen leans his elbows on the sill and hides his face in them briefly, then turns to flop again beneath the window.

Colin watches him quietly. “Want to talk about it?” He offers blandly.

Lanisen rubs his eyes fretfully. “Talkin’ ’bout it don’t help,” he mumbles. “We already know it’s hot and stuffy and borin’ and so ruddy… so… with the listenin’ an’ watchin’ time /crawls/, it ain’t… talkin’ bout it just makes it worse.” He pauses, head tilted as if listening, then gives an exaggerated nod. “Yup. Like /that/ just did.”

Colin snorts before he can stop himself. “Just like when I was a young boy, forced to sit inside with my /tutor/.” The last word spoken derisively. “I hate heat and time, especially when the two are combined and there’s something remarkably more interesting to be seen to.:

Lanisen rolls his head to look at Colin more easily, interest piqued. Or at least piqued enough for him to pay attention.

Colin quirks an eyebrow at him, then shrugs. “He was…impatient.” He says carefully, implying the word as a substitute. “For a boy to be locked inside doing lessons on days like today… I was convinced back then that it was the highest form of torture.”

Lanisen snorts softly in amusement. “‘S pretty bad,” he drawls.

Colin’s face flickers with something unreadable. “Suppose.” He says lamely.

Lanisen’s eyebrows draw down into a slight frown, then lift. “Didn’t get on good with him?”

Colin shakes his head. “Not at /all/.”

Lanisen sits up, propping himself on his elbow, frowning again. “He… hurt you or somethin’?”

Colin scratches at the scruff on his chin in a casual, devil-may-care manner. “Physically, no more than the usual punishments for an restless boy who was more than unruly. His words, however, were lacking the tact and restraint one would expect from an adult.”

Lanisen is silent and listening, trying to make sense of Colin’s demeanor and understand his meaning.

Colin shifts on the bed, looking as if he doesn’t care a whit about the man in question. “Resented him. A lot.” He says dismissively.

Lanisen loops his arms loosely around his knees. “What, your da couldn’t get another tutor?”

Colin changes positions again. “I imagine he would have had I been able to display physical bruises as evidence against the man, but he was determined… convinced I hated schooling, learning and just wanted to be outdoors. He said I would always have people in life I didn’t like and he was determined I learn how to handle it myself.” He pauses, almost adding more but apparently deciding against it.

Lanisen shifts as well, reacting to Colin’s discomfort. However, he remains quiet and attentive, a silent invitation to continue.

Colin is silent for a moment before asking the air, “How does a young boy find out how to assert himself against an elder when all his life it has been drilled into him to respect and obey every adult. Yet when I stood up to him… I paid dearly for it. How was I supposed to win against those odds?”

Lanisen changes position this time, drawing his knees slightly closer so that he can rest his chin in his arms. He seems to have nothing to say to this, but in his silence the intense focus has somehow shifted.

Colin falls silent, his expression darkening at some memory. He shakes his head to rid himself of the thought, banishing it from his mind.

Lanisen’s eyes shift back to Colin in time to catch the tail end of the expression. Again, he doesn’t comment, doesn’t ask, only watches with open eyes and open ears.

Colin shakes his head once more. “Bloody hated that man.” He mutters, jumping up from the bed to approach the table with the wash basin on it.

Lanisen shivers slightly, the first breeze of the approaching storm curling into the room. “What’d he teach you?” he asks quietly.

Colin answers easily. “That words can more quickly cut to the core and strip and flay than the sharpest edged sword ever made. Humiliation….” he breaks off.

Lanisen stays quiet, watching a moth flit around the lamp.

Colin shakes his head once more, running a hand through his already incredibly untidy hair. “….man.” He mumbles.

Lanisen asks after a moment, “So… what happened, then?”

Colin smiles slightly, a dark wryness to the feature. “I grew taller and stronger than him and refused to take it anymore. He would have been a fool not to leave his post. I endured seven years with him.” He says with a note of finality.

Lanisen’s eyes, at this, flicker with awe and fear and something like envy. He flexes his own slender fingers, long and dexterous and ideal for pickpocketing, but not remotely intimidating.

Colin glances sharply at him.

Lanisen folds his fingers into a fist and tucks it under an elbow. He says nothing.

Colin stays silent. What else is there to say, really?

Lanisen doesn’t say anything else. As time wears on and the lamp’s flame begins to gutter, he seems to grow smaller, his hunched shape fading into its shadow. The storm strikes with all its sudden wild glory, rain and cracking thunder and hail, but he doesn’t move from his place beneath the window — probably finally comfortable in the icy breeze.

Colin walks over to the window to look at out at the terrible beauty created by the fury of the storm.

Lanisen shifts away slightly, but turns to watch the light show as well.

Colin watches for a while before glancing at the boy beside him. “What’s your story?” He asks, with a wry camaraderie at their predicament.

Lanisen glances at Colin, eyes dark and slightly wary, then away, shrugging. “Ran away. Got desperate, ended up trailin’ around with Myrd and Zan.”

Colin asks, “Why’d you run away?”

Lanisen is still and silent for another moment. “Just… got bad, is all. Couldn’t…”

Colin remains silent, not pushing him into territory he doesn’t want to venture into but also allowing him room to talk more if he so wishes.

Lanisen is trying, it’s obvious. Several times he opens his mouth to explain, then lets the half-formed words disappear in a rush of frustrated breath.

Colin watches his efforts quietly. When no word comes, he hesitates a fraction of a second before a why-the-heck-not expression flickers. He silently places a hand on the boy’s shoulder in an effort to show him that somehow he understands. He turns his head to look back out at the lightening.

Lanisen startles badly, his shoulder jerking under Colin’s hand. But it’s only for a moment, and though he swallows hard and doesn’t look up, neither does he pull away.

Colin glances at him, letting them stand there a moment like that watching the storm before he lets his hand drop away.

Lanisen doesn’t react, but after a moment he reaches a hand palm-up through the open window to feel the rain, at least a little bit.

Colin watches the lad, a muscle in his jaw slowly starting to work as he begins to stare, trying to comprehend.

Lanisen only watches the water running over his hand, reflecting inconstant silver lightning. He seems mesmerized by the tiny contact with the storm: perhaps the weeks of confinement have given him a greater appreciation for such things.

Colin swallows hard and looks away, his demeanor becoming stony in an effort to maintain his tough-knight air. Rapidly failing effort, I might add.

Lanisen, after a time, draws his hand back in. He watches it drip fresh rain – then, in an unexpected moment of levity, flicks the droplets in Colin’s face.

Colin is so shocked by this act that he blinks in surprise, staring at the lad.

Lanisen, in the face of Colin’s confusion, grins cheeky unrepentance and heads over to start up the fire.

Colin stares after him, silently wiping the water from his face. He looks at his wet hand, then back at the boy. A slow grin starts to form, almost stiffly as if the wearer has not smiled for many months. After a minute he wanders aimlessly towards the table with the pitcher on it, its contents suddenly taking on a life of their own and dumping down Lanisen’s back. Satisfied, Colin settles back down on the bed, stretching out.

Lanisen’s back arches automatically away from the deluge and he whirls to face Colin, startled and wary.

Colin folds his hands behind his head, raising both eyebrows at Lanisen. “Taking your bath tonight, are we?” He says with precise innocence.

Lanisen peels the wet fabric off his skin and wrings it out as well as he can. “That’s /cold/!”

Colin’s eyebrows go farther up into his hairline. “Well if you wanted hot water all you had to do was ASK. Git.”

Lanisen raises his eyebrows and opens his mouth, and tells him in no uncertain terms what he thinks about THAT. When he pauses for breath, his teeth start chattering violently and he drops to try to start the fire.

Colin watches for a moment, thoroughly amused and a little shocked by the blue streak this kid possesses (though he absolutely refuses to show it). He grabs the half-bar of soap from the wash stand and tosses it his way. “Here, use this. Don’t forget your mouth.” He says wryly.

Lanisen pitches it back at him over his shoulder, still fairly good-natured about it all despite the chill. He tries to strike a spark onto the tinder, but his hands are shaking too badly to get a good angle on the flint. He stands, crosses to Colin, plunks the stones into his hands, and points imperiously toward the fireplace.

Colin coughs. “Want the fire started?” He says, fighting desperately for a straight face.

Lanisen crosses his arms and stands as tall and scary and imposing as he can. Granted, this is not much under normal circumstances, and at the moment he looks rather like a wet cat, and his cause is not aided by the fact that he breaks off the imposing stare halfway through to dart for the window and slam it down before it can blow any more ice at him.

Colin lets out a short, quick burst of sound. NOT a laugh, by any means. Not laughing at all. “Right.” He rises and crosses to the fireplace, neatly arranging the kindling and getting it going, his shoulders shaking uncontrollably. From the cold of course.

Lanisen, in the meantime, flops on top of the bed, sopping wet clothing and all, effectively claiming it and the blankets for himself until they dry out the next day.

Colin rises and turns, a fire blazing merrily in the fireplace. He merely arches an eyebrow at Lanisen, strides over and swipes the pillow right out from under him. With that, he goes over to the corner and punches the pillow a few times before flopping.

Lanisen makes a grab for the pillow, but too late. And he’s not exactly going to give up /his/ bed for the sake of a pillow. So he squirms out of his soaked tunic, bunches it up to use instead, and curls up under the blanket with his back to the fire, looking immensely pleased with his own cleverness.

Colin wiggles around on the floor, trying to find a comfortable spot. Remotely settled, he grunts something that sounds like “G’night, git.” before all falls silent on his side of the room.

Lanisen is mostly hidden under the blanket, only feet and a few tufts of messy hair visible. He grunts in return, the sound not even vaguely word-ish – but he’s half-asleep, so it’s forgivable.

Colin chuckles under his breath before his own breathing slows and quietens.


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