Virden wrapped both hands around his cup, twisting the cool clay between his palms. The wine inside teetered, sliding up the sides and he moved slowly enough to keep it off his fingers. Kenze watched him watch the thin shadow of his cup on the table in the dim room. She had only taken a sip of her own. Alidon had downed his in a gulp, and poured himself two more without a word.
From one moment to another, they glanced at the door.
“It might just be us,” Virden murmured.
Kenze looked at him, but his eyes were still on the table. Alidon’s dropped his cup back to the table, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. In the kitchen, Diera shifted, leaned back to look at them through the window of the kitchen. She looked tired, but her hands were covered in dough, and she moved efficiently, as if there were nothing strange about baking at this hour.
“There could be more,” Kenze said. “It’s barely midnight.”
“It was a rough fight,” Virden said. “Hard even to run away from.”
Alidon hunched farther over the table.
Diera stopped shuffling in the kitchen. A moment later, she appeared around the doorway, leaned her shoulder into the wall. Arms crossed over her chest, flour smeared down her shirt front.
“I saw them take Jordek alive,” Alidon said. Sharp.
Virden nodded. “And Tosen.”
“I saw them take Sera and El,” Kenze said. Something pinched beneath her ribs and she straightened, leaned harder on her elbows, until the feeling faded into something that didn’t touch her lungs so firmly.
The next silence wasn’t quite quiet. But none of them had been tonight. Waiting always came with noise.
“We could go back for them,” Kenze murmured.
Virden lifted his eyes and his eyebrows. His mouth was open in a question he apparently didn’t feel the need to ask. He looked to Alidon. Alidon drained his cup and kicked his chair back, swinging his coat back around his shoulders.
It was so easy to follow him. Kenze grabbed her coat in her fist. Virden pushed his cup away, stood and turned.
Diera planted herself in front of the door, dragging them all to a stop. Hands on hips, she looked at each of them, stared them down to turn stilled feet into stilled hands, stilled heads, stilled eyes. “There is a fine line between ‘If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be’ and ‘God helps those who help themselves’,” she said. “So, slow down, before you get yourselves bloodied up as well.”
Coat half-way buttoned, Virden held onto the front of his jacket, fingers frozen.
Alidon stared back. Then he shifted back on one heel, glanced at the other two and shook his head. “Well, that’s stupid,” he said. Each word was clear, if a little quiet.
Kenze shook her head. At Diera.
“Seems more like a mile between them,” Virden said.
“There might be a fine line between my fist and your face,” Kenze offered. She tilted her head, questioning the other woman.
Stunned, Diera slipped back. The others pressed out of the room, unhindered, uncareful, unabashed.