Jeyd sat behind Seryn while the medics worked on them both. He had his back turned, arms resting on the edge of his cot, but he kept glancing over his shoulder at her while a man cleaned and sewed the long cuts along his ribs. Seryn would have ignored him, gritting her own teeth against the stitches a woman was setting in the slash high on her chest, but Aled stood by the door, watching Jeyd like he was daring the other soldier to move.
Macsen had come with them to the infirmary, talking quickly with Deaver. He stayed long enough to get a full catalog of Seryn’s injuries, then left, unconcerned. Seryn watched him go, silent.
She wasn’t surprised when Aled stayed. No one had showed them where they would sleep yet, and neither of them was trained to wander strange territory alone.
“You’re good,” Jeyd said.
Seryn twisted to look at him, slow, so she could test the movement of her shoulders at the same time. The muscles ached. The cut pulled a little more than she would have liked.
“You’re better,” she returned. It was an easy thing to say, sitting in his castle, feeling the cut from his sword.
He raised his eyebrows, then glanced at the two hand prints blistered on either side of his ribs.
Aled snickered. “Get used to ’em. You’re gonna have ’em for the rest of your life.”
Jeyd smiled, and Seryn was beginning to believe it was a permanent feature on his face. “Feels like it.” He turned to Seryn again. “You’re good,” he repeated. “Take the compliment. You’re not going to get many around here.”
Blinking, Seryn slid her gaze across to Aled, then back to Jeyd. “I’m not exactly looking to start a collection.”
Jeyd stared at her. “Do you want another fight?”
Seryn’s medic looked nervous. She hesitated before she started the next stitch.
“No,” Seryn said, quick and firm. The last thing she needed was a medic with shaking hands. She missed her own patchers badly enough.
“How about friends?” Jeyd asked.
Seryn eyed him, considering. “Friends who cut me in half?”
Jeyd glanced at Aled. “Sure.”
Aled laughed again. “I’ve never hurt her.”
“Bet you’ve never gotten close enough,” Jeyd returned.
Aled pulled his shoulders off the wall, without taking a single step. He was smiling, not the wide, happy grin that would have cooled the situation, but something lower, twisted and glinting. It was enough to make the woman in front of Seryn pull back again, hold a second before she set the next stitch. Seryn glared at Aled. For a moment, he smiled at her, a little looser, like he wanted to show her a new trick. She held perfectly still, gave one shake of her head. Then he leaned against the wall, arms crossed, and kept watching Jeyd.
Jeyd glanced between the two of them, and settled on Seryn. “So, you’re his commanding officer?”
“Today,” Seryn said. Her medic tied off her final stitch. Seryn took a breath in relief.
“Do you take turns?”
Seryn tried not to flinch as the woman smeared cold oil across the stitches. For a moment it tingled, then it numbed, and each breath started to come easier without feeling every thread pull against the skin. “No,” Seryn said.
Aled smirked at the idea. “We aren’t usually stationed together. But she has seniority.”
Jeyd looked impressed. He looked at Seryn with wide, bright eyes. “You get this kind of respect from him, from just this one trip?”
Seryn waited for her medic to finishing wrapping a bandage around her neck and under her arm, covering the stitches. Knotting her shirt back into place, Seryn stood, and faced Jeyd directly. “Yes, I do,” she said.
“Come on,” Jeyd complained. He brushed his medic away as well, rolled to his feet, lazily. He stretched a little, like he was aching, and didn’t really want to move. “What do I have to do to get more than three words out of you?”
Seryn picked her jacket up off the cot. She slid it over her shoulders, watching him, and carefully tied it at her side. She looked at Aled, considering. “Aled and I have shared a barrack since we were six. It’s not respect anymore. We’ve just known each other so long, he can read any look I care to give him.” She pulled her coat on next, pulled the collar straight and picked her sword up off the cot. “And he remembers the time I made him eat a mud pie. I don’t think think he believes I’m above doing it again.”
Grinning, Aled shook his head.
Seryn offered Jeyd a small salute. “Thanks for the beating.” She turned to leave, gathering Aled behind her as she went.