Lanisen has stopped at the stall nearest to the kennels and is handing over a coin in exchange for a small bag of roasted filberts. He begins back the way he came.
Megren comes out of the inner ward and moves in the direction of the kennel. She picks up pace when she catches sight of Lanisen.
Lanisen watches the outer gates, his eyes fixing briefly on each of the people passing through. He eats a filbert, a little absently.
Megren pops up at his shoulder from a little behind. “Looking for somebody?”
Lanisen chokes on a filbert. He coughs a few times and looks at her with slightly watery accusing eyes.
Megren exclaims, “Ahh, sorry sorry!”
Lanisen says, “Tryin’ to kill me, stars.”
Megren says, “I’m sorrrry.”
Lanisen tilts the open end of the bag of nuts toward her, offering to share. “What’re you doin’?”
Megren says, “Looking for you.”
Lanisen says, “Oh, huh.” He waves his free hand at her.
Megren says, “Found you.”
Lanisen says, “Good job.”
Megren drops her hands to her hips. “Thanks!”
Lanisen asks, “Now what?”
Megren says, “Well, that’s what I was looking for you for.”
Lanisen snorts. He gestures at the kennels. “I was just goin’ back in, unless you got a better idea.”
Megren says, “Works for me.”
Lanisen nods agreeably and eats another filbert, heading toward the kennel door. He glances briefly around the market again.
Megren asks, “Who are you looking for?”
Lanisen asks, “What?”
Megren says, “You keep looking around.”
Lanisen says, “Nobody, I’m not.” He opens the kennel door.
Megren makes a face, but passes inside docilely enough.
Lanisen heads to the table and plunks down. “How’s your day?”
Megren asks, “Free, for a couple of hours. You?”
Lanisen says, “Nothin’ rest of the day. Kirb’s gonna do the cleanin’ up when Danall brings the hounds back.”
Megren says, “Luxurious.”
Lanisen says, “Dunno what I’m gonna do with myself.”
Megren says, “Eat honeycakes until you’re fat.”
Lanisen says agreeably, “All right.”
Megren says, “If only I knew where to get some honeycakes.”
Lanisen says, “A shame.”
Megren screws up her mouth in agreement.
Lanisen rubs his eyes. “We could go find some, if you want,” he offers. The beginning words are a little distorted by a yawn.
Megren wrinkles her nose. “Should I let you sleep?”
Lanisen says, “No, no, I’m all right. I’ll nap in a couple hours, maybe.”
Lanisen says, “Don’t make that face.”
Megren says, “What face.”
Lanisen says, “That face, the–” He makes it back at her.
Megren squints. “Doesn’t look like me.”
Lanisen says practically, “You can’t see yourself.”
Megren says, “Yeah but I’m me so I know.”
Megren says, “There, that’s more like it.”
Lanisen snickers. He reaches for another filbert.
Megren plucks one up. “Wonder where they harvest these.”
Lanisen says, “Dunno. We had a tree in Carmichael.”
Megren says, “I’ve never seen one, I think.”
Lanisen lifts his shoulders. “I dunno that I’ve ever seen one around here.”
Megren says, “Maybe they’re more in Carmichael.”
Lanisen says, “We’ll go look sometime.”
Megren agrees, “Yes.”
Lanisen rubs his eyes again and lets out a heavy breath.
Megren pushes her mouth to the side. “Are you sure you don’t need sleep?”
Lanisen says, “No, it’s, I’m fine, it was just a bad night. It’s fine.”
Megren frowns. “Dreams?”
Lanisen glances at her and looks away, making a face. “Little bit.”
Megren says, “I’m sorry.”
Lanisen says, “It’s fine, it’s just stupid.”
Megren asks, “Do you want to talk about it?”
Lanisen says, “I don’t really remember them.”
Megren says, “All right.”
Lanisen rubs the side of his face self-consciously and doesn’t look at her. “Did you, did you decide about your aunt?”
Megren asks, “Decide when to go?”
Lanisen says, “Yeah.”
Megren says, “Not exactly. Before a fortnight has passed.”
Lanisen nods, glancing at her again. “‘S good, that’s a good amount of time.”
Megren says, “I think the sooner the better, probably. I sort of want to, to check it over with my da first, though.”
Lanisen nods, glancing at her.
Megren crosses her arms on the table.
Lanisen asks, “Is it–” He hesitates. “Sorry, I don’t want to, to ask somethin’ I shouldn’t.”
Megren says, “I’ve never said you shouldn’t ask a thing.”
Lanisen wrinkles up his nose. He hesitates another moment and lets out a breath through his nose. “Did they… um, did they fight, your da and your aunt?”
Megren says, “I don’t think they ever talked much.”
Lanisen says, “Oh.”
Megren screws up her mouth. “He knew where she lived?”
Lanisen says, “He, he gave us her name and told us whereabouts to look. We had to ask directions once but we made it there.”
Megren says, “Oh.”
Lanisen rubs his shoulder uncertainly.
Megren says, “I just feel like I should ask.”
Lanisen agrees, “Yeah.”
Megren lays her head on her arm.
Lanisen glances at the window when somebody passes near enough to briefly block the sunlight. “He didn’t seem like, like he minded a whole awful lot,” he offers after a moment. “When we asked, I mean.”
Megren nods slowly.
Lanisen says, “I’m, I’m sorry, I don’t know what’s right to say.”
Megren says, “I don’t know if there’s a right thing.”
Lanisen pulls his lips between his teeth and nods, glancing at her.
Megren says, “I just want to talk to him first, in case.”
Lanisen says, “Yeah.”
Megren picks up another hazelnut.
Lanisen asks, “What are you thinkin’?”
Megren says, “If I can make it out to see him in the next day or two without taking more time off.”
Megren says, “What are you thinking?”
Lanisen lifts his shoulders.
Megren makes a face.
Lanisen says, “Sorry, it’s– I’m not, um, it’s not mine?”
Megren squints an eye.
Lanisen makes an unsatisfied face. “It’s– I’m not, I’m not… part of it, properly, I mean, I don’t know what it’s like for you.”
Megren says, “That’s what you’re thinking?”
Lanisen says, “I’m, I’m thinking I wish I knew what it’s like for you.”
Megren says, ‘Oh.”
Lanisen squints at her, a little apprehensively.
Megren says, “I guess you probably understand better than you think. It’s, it’s maybe not that different from reconnecting with Cass, at first.”
Lanisen says reflectively, “Cass hit me.”
Megren squints. “…Well, all right, maybe not.”
Megren says, “She hit you?”
Lanisen says, “She’s got a great right hook, it turns out.”
Megren says, “I am… pretty glad it never worked out for me to teach her self-defense, I think. It doesn’t sound like she needed it.”
Lanisen says, “Heh,” and looks down.
Megren says, “I would have liked to have done the other parts of it with her though.”
Megren asks, “How’s she getting on?”
Lanisen shifts. “Good, I heard, I got a letter, she’s… She’s tradin’ recipes with the cook, they’re tryin’ to work out what the innkeeper wants to serve out of what she knows.”
Megren says, “That sounds good.”
Lanisen says, “I think she’d like ’em to pick up more of what she likes to make, but yeah.”
Megren says, “That’ll come with time, I bet.”
Lanisen says, “Prob’ly.”
Megren says, “Are you hoping to visit her?”
Lanisen glances at her briefly and then away. “Maybe once she’s, once she’s more… um, settled in.”
Megren nods. “That makes sense to me.”
Lanisen hesitates. “I been thinkin’ more about goin’ to Neiklot,” he confesses.
Megren’s brows lift. “Yeah?”
Lanisen says, “I keep tryin’ to write, it’s not– I think…”
Megren pushes her mouth to the side and lets him finish his thought.
Lanisen lifts his shoulders uncomfortably.
Megren says, “If you think you should go, you probably should.”
Lanisen nods, looking at the table. He takes a breath and moistens his lips. “Maybe– um. In a couple weeks, maybe.”
Megren says, “Okay.”
Lanisen says, “After, after your aunt.”
Megren says, “You don’t have to.”
Lanisen laughs under his breath and glances at her wryly. “It’ll take at least that long for me to get my nerve up, it’s fine.”
Megren says again, “Okay.”
Megren says, “If you get there, and you feel like you shouldn’t be there anymore–”
Lanisen says, “Then I’ll– I’ll leave.”
Megren says, “Yeah, good.”
Megren says, “You trust yourself on that.”
Lanisen nods, rubbing his wrists.
Megren gives his hand a small reprimanding tap.
Lanisen separates his hands and folds his arms on the table.
Megren asks, “You want someone to come with?”
Lanisen takes a deep breath, wavering. “Ask, ask me next week?”
Megren says, “Okay.”
Lanisen nods a few times, not looking at her.
Megren reaches for his hand again, this time to squeeze it. “How are you feeling?”
Lanisen says, “Fine, I’m fine.” He doesn’t pull his hand away.
Megren screws up her mouth, watching his face.
Lanisen pulls his lips between his teeth and tips his head to the side in rueful, self-deprecating concession, though he doesn’t look up at her. “Um, I– writin’ Cass, I remembered the day, it’s, it’s /stupid/, I wouldn’t’ve even noticed otherwise, probably.”
Megren nods. “That’s, that’s good, that’s a good sign, probably?”
Lanisen says, “S’pose so.”
Megren says, “It’s better than I would be, I think. Something about dates — they’re stupid but I’m always hanging weight on them.”
Lanisen says, “Yeah.”
Megren squeezes his hand.
Lanisen glances at her sheepishly.
Megren says, “I’m sorry the letter reminded you.”
Lanisen says, “It’s /stupid/.”
Megren says, “It’s really not.”
Lanisen rubs between his eyes.
Megren squeezes his hand again.
Lanisen asks, “What’ve you got today?” He pauses. “Sorry, I think I already asked.”
Megren grins. “It’s okay; you always get impressed even though I always say the same things so I don’t mind.”
Lanisen snorts and half-grins at her.
Megren twirls one of the nuts between her fingers. “I bet Ren could do something good with these.”
Lanisen asks, “What kind of something?”
Megren hmms. “Roasted with honey? On top of a pie?”
Lanisen says, “Hmm, what kind of pie.”
Megren says, “There’s peaches ripe, I think.”
Lanisen says, “Sounds nice.”
Lanisen suggests, “We could get more and take ’em to the kitchen.”
Megren says, “Yeah?”
Lanisen says, “I dunno. If you wanted to.”
Megren says, “Let’s do it. Maybe we can get a pie-making lesson out of them.”
Lanisen says doubtfully, “Hm.”
Megren gets up and tugs his hand. “Maybe!”
Lanisen protests, “I wasn’t really thinkin’ on /stayin’/.”
Megren whines, “Why?”
Lanisen looks uncomfortable, and defensive, and guilty. “Just– it’s noisy and hot in there, is all.”
Megren’s expression changes to a sharper one. “All right, that’s fair. Nuts, plaintive expressions, then back out for a jaunt in the ward.”
Lanisen looks relieved.
Megren tugs again. “So?”
Lanisen allows himself to be tugged. “All right, okay.”
Megren grins, pulling him toward the door. “Come on, then.”
Lanisen follows her, glancing around the ward as they step into the sunshine.