He was sick, but it was a good sick, the kind after which he felt better, the kind with which he was all too familiar. There was no permanence to it, just a certain slush and shallow to his thoughts, a disinclination to move, and the distinct impression that, in a moment, he would stomp his feet hard enough to crack the lead from his bones.
Toar stood at the window, and bounced on his toes experimentally. Then he dropped back onto his heels. Something cracked, but he only felt heavier. Groaning, he braced himself against the window frame, and his groan twisted into a laugh.
“Get back into bed,” Jaera said.
Toar turned toward the door. She pushed it open with her elbow, entering without looking at him. In one hand she had a coffee pot, and in the other, his favorite tall, white mug.
Toar raised his eyebrows at her.
She slid farther into the room and set the pot on the square table beside his bed. Putting the mug beside it, she turned it so the handle pointed purposefully toward the pillow. Then she turned, found him watching her, and raised her eyebrows too, a quick mimic of his disbelieving expression.
“Get back into bed,” she said.
Toar blinked slowly. “Last I checked,” he said. “You were still the apprentice. I was the master.”
“Yes,” Jaera said. “And you told me to do this.”
“I did not,” Toar said.
“You did,” Jaera repeated.
“When?” he demanded.
“Last time,” she said steadily. She tilted her head slightly and pulled in a breath, but otherwise did not move, holding his gaze. “After you dragged your magnanimous, exhausted, philanthropic ass out of bed, and the idiots, wastrels, and sons of sea witches of the world escaped their caretakers and decided to smear their pugnacious vomit all over your day.”
Toar blinked again. It was peculiar, hearing his words in her high, even tone.
“You told me to send you back to bed the next time you overworked yourself,” Jaera finished.
“I was a crank when I said that.”
“Because you shouldn’t have gotten out of bed,” Jaera said.
“I’m always a crank,” he snapped.
The corner of her mouth twisted, but she didn’t laugh. “You told me to make you sleep it off.”
“I have slept,” Toar said. He waved toward the bed.
“You could sleep longer,” Jaera said. “I was there last night, remember? You looked like death’s brother, or at least one of his more beloved cousins.”
“I’m fine,” Toar said.
Jaera folded her hands patiently in front of her. “You said that last time.”
“I am fine,” Toar said.
She took another breath which squared out her shoulders. “And then you swore at eight people before dinner.”
“No one told you to keep count,” he said.
“And seventeen after.”
Toar leaned back on his heels. “Don’t look at me like that,” he said. “Some of them were in groups.”
“Yes. The First Lord, his brother, and his son,” she said. “And then you suggested that the Clan Lord’s personal envoy break a few bones in some very interesting ways.”
Toar glared at her. “I’ve done worse on a good day.”
Jaera still didn’t move. “And then you apologized,” she said.
Jaera’s lips twisted a little more. “You wouldn’t have done that on your best day.”
Toar considered her for a moment longer. The floorboards beneath him creaked as he leaned into his first step. Very slowly, he crossed the room, knocked his shoulder against hers, and picked up the coffee pot.
Jaera half-turned her head to watch him, and he half-turned his to snap, “So, are you going to leave then?”
Smiling, she nodded, and slipped back to the door. As she left, Toar dropped onto the edge of the bed, his head in his hands.
He was sick.
I’m a thief! The first line of this piece was stolen from my friend, Kathryn. Poor Kathryn. All my other friends robbed her, too.
Be sure to stop by her blog to see what she wrote originally.