The tops of the Smithy's double doors are open to the crisp autumn air. In the sunlit interior, the smith lounges in a weatherbeaten Adirondack chair, reading. The little book looks almost comical in his huge, square hands.
Cautiously, Miki walks obliquely across the smithyard. He is wearing his small bag across his back, and the end of an absurdly short bow and a couple of arrows poke out of the top of it. He approaches the door at a slight angle, so that he can peer into the smithy from the shelter of the doorframe. At the sight of the smith, he hesitates, apparently debating whether simply to quietly slip away.
The smith chooses that moment to set his book aside and rise out of his chair. After a bone-popping stretch, he turns toward one of the myriad cabinets -- his broad back to the door -- and dumps something from a tin into the chipped mug that had been perched on the arm of his chair. Then he pads over to retrieve a battered coffee pot from its nest in the coals of the forge.
Miki dithers for a moment, then moves slightly away from the doorframe. "Excuse me, Sir Maker? I was looking for Simon... or Rex? Have you seen them?" The extreme diffidence with which this sentence is offered suggests that perhaps Lucas might have seen them when he had them for lunch, and that upon hearing this news, Miki would simply nod his head respectfully and go away again.
The Smith pauses in the middle of pouring hot water from the pot into his mug and turns to regard his guest. "Oh, hullo there," he greets the youth pleasantly. "You'd be young Miklos then, eh?" he states, more than asks, taking in the pale hair and delicate features. "Simon was by this mornin', asking about your unicorn. Ah'm afraid Ah haven't seen Rex today." After a beat: "Tea?" He raises the coffee pot by way of invitation.
"Um. Sure." Miklos still lingers in the doorway, however, looking thoughtful. After a moment, though, in a slightly shocked voice: "Simon was asking about *what?*"
Lucas sets the coffee pot back down and fetches another mug from a cupboard. "Lift the bar and c'mon in, then," he says over his shoulder. He shakes some tea from the tin into the mug, replaces the lid on the tin, and moves to the side of the forge to pour the hot water. A bit of water slips down the side of the pot, and it hisses as the Smith returns it to the coals. "The unicorn," Lucas repeats. "Sounds like the same one that put in an appearance last year after Zelda came through. Simon was concerned it might be... dangerous." He hands Miklos the fresh mug. "Do you think it is?"
Miki looks down, wrapping his hands thoughtfully around the mug. He takes a few steps into the forge and, finding no clear place against the wall to lean against, settles for standing. "I do not think so. It... seemed more worried about me, to tell the truth."
The Smith gestures toward another Adirondack chair. Both have blankets draped over them; Lucas removes the dog-hair-encrusted top blanket from the indicated seat, exposing the clean layer beneath. "Arslag's off chasin' cats. Reckon he won't mind you borrowin' his chair." Lucas grins, the expression sliding into one of mild encouragement. "If that's so," he replies, "it ain't the only one, or so it seems to me. You got any ideas why that might be?"
Sitting carefully on the very edge of the chair, Miki tastes the tea cautiously. "The unicorn was worried because I was carrying a bow." He remembers that he is, in fact, carrying it now, and he unslings his bag from his back and sets it carefully at his feet. "I do not know about other people," he admits in a very small voice.
Lucas sits back, crossing his ankles, sipping his tea. "Ah. That sort of worried. Seems to me it oughta be more concerned about that wingnut Hunter fella. Were you hunting with it?"
"I was not at the time, but I usually carry it," replies Miki. "In the woods, I mean. My brother and I, we have to eat, you know?"
"May Ah?" The Smith leans forward with a nod toward the bow, evidently asking to examine it.
Miki shrugs, then pulls the bow gently out of the bag. "Sure." It's made of laminated wood, quite short, with the strange double curve that some horsebows have (inherited from the Mongolian, perhaps). He hands it to the smith.
Lucas accepts the bow respectfully and gives it a quick but apparently knowledgeable examination, peering down the length of it and running large, rough fingers over wood and sinew. He gives a low, appreciative whistle. "This is beautiful work," is his assessment. He stands, grips the bow at arm's length, and gives a few experimental tugs on the string. "You're stronger than you look," he observes, glancing at the youth with raised eyebrows. He hands the bow back.
Miki accepts it. "Thank you," he says, stroking his fingers over the wood of the bow with a smile. "My brother gave it to me." He puts it back into the case and the case back into his bag.
"Do you ride?" the Smith queries, apparently thinking it a logical thing to ask of a fellow sporting a horsebow.
Miki nods. "I learned when I was very young, back in the Little Lands. But I do not get much practice over here."
From outside, a cheerful and young baritone is crooning songs in the French language -- badly. This is definitely not Gerard, as the pronunciation pains even those with only a passing appreciation of the language presently being mangled. Worse and worse, he seems to be getting closer.
An extremely puzzled look passes over Miki's face as he hears the singing.
"Well, if you and your brother stick around, maybe something can be done about that," Lucas replies, though something in his voice or eyes suggests that at the moment the Smith considers this unlikely. At the singing, Lucas' face turns toward the door. "If Ah'm not mistaken, that dying cat would be Rex." He smiles at Miklos. "Looks like you came to th'right place after all."
Miklos smiles at the Smith for the first time, and gives him a look which can only be called openly appraising. "That is kind of you, but not necessary," he says. "I am quite used to walking now. And although I have had the honor before, I think I am... not, ah..." He rubs the back of his neck thoughtfully, his mouth still quirked in that decidedly mischievous smile, "Well enough acquainted." He scoops up the bag and stands up, taking a step away from the chairs (and, not coincidentally, the Smith as well). "Yes, I think that is Rex."
The singer apparently interrupts his latest rendition of -- you think -- "Frere Jacques" to pound on the doorjamb. Then there is an embarrassed silence, then a softer knock. "Um, Mister Maker?" Rex inquires, peering into the quiet room through the open door.
A look of mild bewilderment flits briefly across the Smith's features, and Miklos is put to mind suddenly of a horse swiveling its ears to catch something it's not quite sure it heard. The moment is broken, though, as Lucas turns to greet the newcomer. "Ah, hullo Rex. Miklos here was just looking for you."
"Uh, hey!" Rex perks up at the sight of the white-haired boy, and his broad grin returns from the depths of embarrassment. "Um, Mr. Maker, I was wonderin' if you could maybe mend these." He displays two very large pots, one badly crushed on one side, and the other burnt through on the bottom. "Miss Anita an' Missus Collins let me have 'em to use for Mama's curry if I could get 'em mended. I want t'be able t'give some to the Diner and the Farm, so I'm gonna make a Pride-sized batch."
Miki smiles back at Rex, moving slightly, sideways, towards the door. He doesn't say anything, just moves out of the conversation and fades into the background as much as he can.
Lucas smiles warmly at the lion-Kin. "Reckon Ah owe you a couple of mended pots and then some for your help getting that scrap sanded," the smith says, nodding. Bring 'em here; let's have a look at 'em. Did Ah hear you're making your Ma's curry?"
Rex obediently brings the pots to Lucas. "Yessir. Mama sent the recipe and spices up in a package with Cap'n Kem. I've made it before, but I couldn't rightly remember it. Miss Anita said I could use her kitchen for it, so long as she got some done mild." He grins and rakes a hand through his hair, half-posing in a way he usually doesn't around the smith.
The scene makes Miki smile to himself a little. He leans against the frame of the doorway and pushes a lock of hair out of his eyes.
Lucas briefly eyes Rex's pose from stem to stern, then takes the pots over to the forge, humming. "When you need these by, Rex?"
This time the singing coming from outside is actually reasonably tuneful, though not as beautiful as some voices. "One is One and all alone and ever more shall be so..." Also, it comes from the direction of the back door.
Rex stretches, popping his spine, then resumes his usual posture: thumbs hooked in swordbelt, legs slightly apart, facing the smith squarely. "Oh, I'd like to make it before the end of the week. If y'can. Obviously, it ain't a big priority if someone else needs somethin' done first." He turns his head toward the back door. "Maybe I should get Simon to teach me t'sing."
"End of th' week should be no problem," Lucas replies. His eyebrows remain somewhere above their usual position.
Miki watches Rex and Lucas frankly, as though all this were a play.
The singing stops before a new verse begins. There's a knock at the back door.
"C'mon in, Simon," Lucas calls, a touch of good-natured resignation in his voice. "They're all here."
Simon steps inside. "Hi, Mr. Lucas. They're all...? Oh!" He grins at Rex and Miki. "Hi, Rex. Hi, Miki."
Miki smiles at Simon, not moving from the front doorway.
"Hey, hey, the gang's all here," Rex says cheerfully. "That'd be great, Mr. Maker!"
"Are we then?" someone says in a smooth baritone from over Miki's shoulder. A very tall, lean man stands in the doorway just behind the boy, one hand holding a sack over his shoulder, the other braced on his hip.
Simon's eyes had drifted from Miki to Rex, but the smooth and completely unfamiliar voice jerks them back to the door. The dark boy's eyes widen and he takes a step back, fetching up against the back door he just closed.
Miki moves away from the doorway and turns to face it in one movement, his hair describing a half-circle in the air. Although he does not levitate, as Rex sometimes does, and although he does pass through all the spaces in between, unlike his brother, he does this very fast. His eyes are *extremely* wide.
Rex *does* levitate -- about two feet up and three feet to the side -- and come down in a half-crouch with his left hand reaching across his body for his swordhilt.
The smith freezes. As he turns his attention from the back door to the front, several expressions race across his broad features in succession, too swift to read, finally settling on something that can perhaps best be described as a complex cousin of pleased surprise. "Arrow," he rumbles, low, and the spoken name is a goulash of old feeling. Then perplexity momentarily holds sway. "'The hell happened to your *hair*?!"
The angular face breaks into a slow smile. "Same old Lucas," Arrow's Flight says in an amused tone. "Nice to see that *some* things don't change." His eyes flit around the room, lingering on each of the boys in turn, scanning them with a piercing frankness. Then his gaze returns to Lucas and his pale eyebrows rise. "Mighty nice scenery around this town."
Under his breath, Simon agrees. "Yeah, I'd say..." His eyes stay on the striking newcomer, his back against the door.
Miki slowly (and darn near silently) crosses the room, keeping his eyes on the stranger, to stand next to Rex. Then his gaze seeks Simon out, questioningly.
Rex stands up and glances aside at Miki, then Lucas. His eyes linger on the smith's face for a moment, then he looks at Arrow, then Lucas, then Arrow, then back to Lucas. And then he looks troubled.
One side of Lucas' mouth drags up - not a smirk, exactly, but kin to one. "Yep," he agrees. "You gonna stick around long enough to, oh, get introduced to it, this time?" Then he shakes his head. "Damn me, c'mon in, fer the Lady's sake. You still take that ginger blend?" He settles the coffeepot into the coals.
Simon doesn't meet Miki's searching gaze. He's staring at Arrow's Flight quite rudely, really.
"I do, when I can find it," Arrow says, stepping over the threshold and gently setting his sack down to one side of the door. He shrugs out of the pack, which clanks significantly as he does so, and sets that down with equal care. As he tugs his shirt and vest into more comfortable positions, he gives the little knot of boys that same slow smile, with his dark eyes half-lidded. "I don't bite, fellas, unless I've got a reason. Arrow's Flight Maker, Gaia's Sentinel. I'm an old friend of Lucas here." He rolls up his sleeves carefully, revealing myriad small scars as well as a twining of dark tattoos around each wrist. He glances up from rolling his sleeves to Lucas. "Well, I thought I'd stick around long enough, at least, for a visit. Don't have anywhere to go right after, like I did last time."
Simon's eyes widen even more, though there's less fear and more awe in them now. "Keen!" he breathes. "Wait until Miz Sunshine hears..." He puts one hand on the doorknob.
Simon's stare-- and his comment-- seem to have answered Miki's question, as the white-haired boy goes back to watching the little tableau with interest. He doesn't move any closer, though.
Rex remains as he is, watching and listening with keen interest.
"Glad to hear it," Lucas replies, shaking some tea from a tin into another mug and pouring hot water over it. His voice confirms that he is, indeed, genuinely pleased. He introduces the three boys, giving full names and tribal affiliations as appropriate. He even manages to pronounce Miki's name correctly. Arrow's Flight is handed a mug of tea, steaming with the spicy scent of ginger.
Arrow's Flight takes his mug and says warmly, "Glad to meet all of you." He leans against a support post, sniffing and sipping his tea appreciatively. The angle of his hips and shoulders includes all the boys in the conversation, and is even, perhaps, turned just a touch away from Lucas. "This is good, Lucas. It's been a while since I had it." He looks around the inside of the smithy, gaze lingering on the forge with a bit of... longing? "You've got a nice setup here. I hope folks appreciate you."
Simon carefully turns the doorknob, but doesn't leave just yet. "Miz Sunshine said you're a Smith, too," he offers curiously.
Rex assumes his usual pose again, inhaling deeply and exhaling quietly. He glances once over his shoulder to Miklos, but his face is carefully composed into unreadability.
Lucas leans against a workbench. "Folks here are good people," he replies. At Simon's observation, he perks up, "Oh yeah! You remember Sunny? Brown gal, midwife? She said she was from back east, right? Well, turns out this is her home town." He smiles inwardly.
Miki moves closer to Rex at the glance, placing one hand very lightly on the lion-Kin's shoulder (he has to reach up quite a way to do this, as Rex is more than half a head taller than he is). He stands a little behind Rex, still watching the Smith and his old friend.
If Rex were a lion, his skin would twitch slightly at the touch. As it is, Rex's shoulder moves a bit, but then relaxes under the other boy's hand.
Miki lifts his hand for a brief second, then settles it on Rex's shoulder again.
Arrow's Flight looks thoughtful. "Ah, yes. I think I do recall her." He smiles lazily at Simon. "I'm something of a smith, yes. A bit out of practice, and I was never as good as Lucas. But I have the hang of hammering on a forge." His eyes track to Rex and Miki, and one corner of his mouth quirks higher than the other as he looks back to Lucas. "I think I remember her," he repeats, his voice flattening slightly.
Something about Arrow's Flight, perhaps the lazy smile or the flattening voice, sets Simon on edge again. Wariness returns to his eyes. "I could go get her," he offers.
"'Something of a smith'," Lucas echoes with a very horsey snort. "Berkejin Silverheels only passed on the name Maker to three of her students," he tells the three boys. "You're lookin' at two of 'em." He returns his gaze to Arrow, appraising him and the physical changes he's evidently gone through frankly. "Any reason you shouldn't stay with me while you're here?" he asks. It's perhaps an odd way to word the invitation. He tells Simon, "Reckon if Sunny's in town she'll get word soon enough."
Miki nods, looking impressed, and then leans on Rex for a moment while he adjusts the strap of his bag, since his bow-case is poking him in the small of his back.
Miki paged Rex with 'Miki's fingers tighten on your shoulder.'.
Rex nods in response to Lucas, then drops his eyes from the two older men to considering the straw under his boots. After a moment, he cocks a smile back at Miki and seems to settle back to watch the rest of the proceedings.
The Garou leans his head to one side, considering Lucas soberly. "No reason I can think of." He turns his head to look at the boys carefully, his faded smile still lingering as if out of habit. "I can sleep wherever there's room," he comments, a trace of bitterness lacing his voice. "And I'm sure I'll see Sunshine soon enough, Simon," Arrow says after a moment, the bitter edge softened with an apologetic, slightly sad, touch. "No need for you to hurry off."
Miki shoots a sideways look at Rex, and whispers something under his breath.
Long distance to Rex: Miklos whispers, "Hay and horseblankets?"
Simon glances at Lucas. "She's around, yeah. Who's the third?" He quietly releases the doorknob, though. A faint line shows between his eyebrows as he tries to puzzle out the faint bitterness in the newcomer's voice. "There's room at the Farm, too."
Rex lets out a smothered snicker in response to Miki, and replies quietly, but not quietly enough, "But Harebell bites..."
Miki gives an elaborate shrug which somehow manages to convey the information that he didn't get bitten.
Some complex shadow flickers across Lucas' square face, but his voice is even and warm. "Then here you'll stay. Reckon we've got a few stories to exchange, eh?" To Simon's query he replies, "Narmanda. Older 'n' grouchier than either the two of us." He flashes a quick grin at his forge-brother. "She stayed on to be Smith at the Gumi Arrow & Ah are from." The interchange between Rex and Miki elicits a sidelong glance and a raised eyebrow.
Arrow's Flight laughs shortly. "I'm sure we do, yes. And yes, grouchier. And certainly more territorial." He glances over at Rex and Miki, his mouth quirking again, almost fondly. Then Arrow is facing Lucas again, eyes ablaze and jaw set. "Have you seen Golden?" he demands suddenly.
Lucas looks momentarily taken aback, then his face hardens. "Ah thought she was with you," he says, then clarifies, "She left with you." It is an answer, of sorts. The question that accompanies it hangs leaden in the air.
Simon finally abandons his post by the back door, edging around the edge of the smithy towards the other boys now that the newcomer's attention is focused on Lucas. He doesn't ask 'Who's Golden?' aloud, though his expression is nearly pure curiosity.
Rex blinks at the suddenness of the atmospheric change and sidles back against Miki.
Miki is quite still suddenly, not wanting to interrupt this extremely interesting conversation.
"She left," Arrow says, voice gone ragged. "Left a while ago." He clears his throat and takes a gulp of tea. "Took the kid too." There's nothing sly about the way he watches Lucas as he says this, emphasizing the word "kid" harshly, letting all his bitterness overflow briefly. Then he bares his teeth in what turns into a sad smile as the mood recedes. "I'd hoped you'd seen them."
Simon watches Arrow with open fascination as he joins the other two boys.
Miki glances aside at Simon, a brief smile, before returning to watching Arrow's Flight.
Lucas is clearly shocked, but recovers quickly. There's no hesitation at all as in one fluid movement, he sets his mug down and step in to grasp Arrow's shoulder. "Ah'm sorry," he says simply. The movement and the voice are stripped of whatever tension or awkwardness the years apart have throw up between these two. Lucas' response is of the Lucas of Tengri's Light, not of Haven. He adds, "We'll put our heads together, maybe we can figure out where she might have gone."
The tension that passes over Arrow's face when Lucas lays his hand on his shoulder is erased by a flash of old pain, which subsequently vanishes in a sharp laugh. "I've looked everywhere. I... don't know what... how she was thinking at the time." He stares into the tea, then stares intently into Lucas' face. "She was pregnant when we left. I don't know whether he was yours or mine."
Rex's eyes get wider, and he is completely riveted by the tableau.
Simon attaches himself to Rex's free side. Not literally, but he stands close enough to hamper sudden movement. Like the taller youth, he's focussed on the two older men.
Miki looks quite interested.
Lucas abruptly stills, face and body a statue. His hand slides from Arrow's shoulder, and he takes an almost involuntary step backwards. Then the stone face is all at once in motion, and Lucas is laughing. Big, deep, belly laughs that put to flight an enterprising sparrow that had just about decided on the smithy's rafters as a cozy winter nest. He presses a hand to his forehead, and another to his stomach and just laughs.
Simon's eyes widen into near saucer, though a grin twitches at the edge of his mouth. "What's so funny?" he whispers. Sadly, s's carry, so he might be overheard.
There is a momentary stillness to Arrow's face as Lucas laughs. Then his mouth quirks and he sighs, settling back against the post, and watches the smith with a sort of fond, patient affection.
Rex looks as if he thinks the smith... well, the Perunka smith... has gone mad.
Miki peers around Rex and gives Simon an "I'll tell you later" kind of look.
Lucas masters himself, wiping at the corners of his eyes, though the corners of his mouth are still twitching as he returns his forge-brother's fond smile. "Ah, the Lady's Black Eyes, Arrow, Ah'd forgotten what it was like to have you around." He shakes his head, running the fingers of one broad hand through his walnut curls.
Simon blinks, glancing aside at Rex, and then Miki. He's just a fraction too late to catch Miki's look.
"I bet you have," Arrow says with -- was that a leer? "So, no joy, huh? Well, I suppose it doesn't matter much. We weren't getting along. And if he's yours, she'll probably bring him around sometime." He shrugs and finishes his tea. "She'll be disappointed to know that I'm still alive," he finishes, tone deceptively light.
Simon huhs softly. "Why'd she want him dead?" The youth's speculation is softly voiced, and completely incredulous.
Rex tears his eyes away from the older men and shrugs and shakes his head slightly at Simon, apparently equally bewildered. He glances over his shoulder in the other direction at Miki, eyebrows raised.
Lucas brings the coffee pot over to offer a refill, still smiling. "Can't wait to hear all about it," he chuckles, as if Arrow were talking about a successful dinner party, and not the horrific breakup of the people who were once his two closest friends. If Arrow has brought a sea of chaos back into Lucas' life, the Perunka apparently has his surfboard at the ready.
Miki looks up at Rex, his eyes wide and wondering. He shakes his head a little, indicating his complete bewilderment.
"Sorry fellas," Lucas seems to remember the boys for the first time in several minutes. "Ah'm sure all this gossip about people you don't know is a drag. Rex, Ah'll have those pots for you by the end of the week."
Arrow's Flight accepts a refill and blithely says, "Oh, I'm sure I'll get a chance to tell you all the grisly details." His free hand strays to rake through his hair and then touch the scar on his face absently. "After all, I'm sure that nothing would make you happier than to hear it all. I suppose I'm not surprised that you feel that way. I mean, everyone else does it, why not good old Lucas?" He smiles brightly at the other smith, then turns that glittering smile on the boys. "He's chasing you off. Deeply private man. Doesn't want an audience while he *enjoys* hearing about how *my* life has ground into the mud while *his* life is bright and shiny and clean with pretty young men hanging about his forge. Isn't that so, *Brother*?"
Simon gapes, in spite of himself, at the bitterness underlying Arrow's speech. He takes a step towards the front doors of the Forge.
That smile has a peculiar effect on Miki. Any sensible person would step backwards. In fact, a really sensible person would run, possibly screaming. Instead, he steps in front of Rex, answering that look, not with a smile, but with a quite serious level gaze.
Rex does take a step back, which is convenient for Miki's move, and his teeth come together with an audible click. He swallows hard and clenches his fists, shoulders hunched just a little.
Lucas snorts, with a toss of his head that just barely stops short of an eyeroll. "Don't be an ass, Arrow," he frowns, his voice edging toward irritation. To the boys, his tone is warmer, "He's right, though, Ah'm shooing. Reckon we got some stuff to talk about in private, and you all got better things to do, Ah'm sure."
This is when there's the cadence of a steady tread outside, and Ruth steps into the forge, her hands tucked into her coat pockets, her satchel slung over a shoulder. She brings the scent of autumn with her, berries, her curly hair flies in tangles away from her brow. She gives the gathered folk a sidelong glance, her eyes eventually setting on Lucas. "Hey," she murmurs.
Simon takes another step towards the door, even if Ruth is partially blocking it at the moment. He glances at Rex and Miki, before bolting out into the yard.
There is an odd glint to the Garou's eyes at the Perunka's rebuke, and he is suddenly cold and brittle. "Sorry," he says, and his mouth snaps shut. "He's probably right. As always."
Rex manages a strangled, "Yessir," before he walks across the room and follows Simon outside.
Miki turns and follows Rex.
The young woman steps into the smithy, fully, leaves the way open for the flight that follows. She draws a dark brow up, watches them leave, then looks back to Lucas, the fellow she doesn't know.
At Ruth's entrance, Lucas smacks his forehead, then shoots Arrow a dark look. "'It never rains, but it pours,'" he murmurs under his breath. "Heya Ruth," he greets her in a normal voice, the tones only just a bit strained. "Arrow, Ruth Naomi Ayllon, of Ayllon Farm, also Perunka. Ruth, Arrow's Flight Maker, Gaia's Sentinels. Tea?"
The very tall, angular man inclines his head to Ruth from where he stands, leaning against a support post. "Charmed," he drawls.
Perhaps the corners of the woman's wide mouth quirk up, but that's hard to say for certain. She draws her hands from her pockets, lets them settle at her sides. She nods to Arrow's Flight, draws a hand up to run fingers through her red and black hair. "Afternoon," she murmurs. She's not that far from Lucas when she stops, finds a place to lean back and cross her arms.
Lucas fetches a battered tankard from a cupboard and shakes some tea into it, following that with some hot water from the evidently inexhaustable coffee pot. He passes the brew to Ruth with a for once completely unreadable look.
Arrow sips his tea silently, watching the two Perunka from under his pale brows. If his hands shake ever so slightly, surely no one will notice.
Ruth watches Lucas, quiet even when he passes the tankard to her. She gathers it up in calloused hands, cants her head. Dark eyes, but still no words save for a faint whicker through a human throat.
Quick, soft steps in the yard outside precede Sunshine's rather rapid entrance into the Smithy. The Healer does not pause on the threshold or wait to be invited inside. She does stop in the middle of undoing her hat, however, when she sees Arrow.
"Hi Sunny," Lucas greets her without looking up, completely unsurprised by her precipitous entrance. He wordlessly prepares another mug of tea.
Arrow raises his eyebrows and examines Sunshine carefully. "Ah, yes. The midwife. Hello." He toasts her in greeting with his mug of tea and returns to sipping it.
Ruth quirks a corner of her mouth up at the healer's arrival, draws the tankard down and nods. "Hey," she murmurs. She draws the tankard up, nostrils flared as she drinks from it.
Sunshine's eyebrows rise. To give herself a moment, she hangs her hat on a nail near the door. Approaching the two smiths, she gives Lucas a faint smile, but declines the tea with a gesture. Turning to Arrow, she says softly, "Hello, Arrow. I am glad to see you, too." There's only a hint of humor in her voice.
Lucas keeps the fresh tea himself, then, and flops into his long-abandoned Adirondack chair. "You all make yourselves at home," he tells them over the rim of the mug.
Arrow stares into his tea mug as if it were going to give him the answers to life's greatest questions. "You still ride, Sunshine?" he says, apparently apropos of nothing. Then, another tangent: "Nice place y'got here, Lucas," he says without looking up. "You did know that you've got a bit of a vermin problem off to the west, right? Not like you to leave something like that alone for too long."
Sunshine's eyes remain on Arrow. She flinches noticeably at the mention of the 'vermin' to the west. "No, I have not particularly ridden since I left Tengri's Light." There's a faintly sour edge to her smile.
"Did know, yeah," Lucas replies. "Been actin' up lately, too." He cocks his head slightly, in lieu of cocking an ear. "Reckon we could use your help in that respect, if you're of a mind, and planning to be around for a bit." His voice has gone back to neutral, though there's more that flickers at the backs of his eyes.
Ruth has set herself where she can see the smithy's broad doors, the folk gathered within. She settles back, the tankard clasped in firm hands. There is little tension yet in her fingers, her arms, her dark eyes set curious on the others, some equable point between then.
"Ah," says Arrow to Sunshine. "Such a shame." His voice softens, "And the years do move on, and things do change." To Lucas, he offers a shrug. "I could hang about. I brought you a present, in case it might be useful along those lines. Don't know if it can be fixed, honestly." He glances at where he left his pack and sack near the door. "Chiminage, I thought. For letting me stay for a bit." He stares back into his mug. "Just in case, you know, you wanted me to pay."
Sunshine reaches out to touch Arrow's shoulder with a gentle hand. "I find no shame in preferring my own feet to those of another, Arrow," she says with a faint smile. "I do find your... reticence somewhat disturbing."
"Don't be--" Lucas starts, sharply, then stops, starts over. "No, no need," he says, more subdued, suddenly looking as though he feels a hundred years old, as though this painful awkwardness has been going on for lifetimes, and not merely an hour or two.
Ruth has not moved, not more than an inch, but her limbs have drawn tense, her eyes set firm on that place between the others. She glances, sidelong at Lucas.
Arrow doesn't move when Sunshine touches him, just sighs quietly. "I suppose I'm not feeling all that forthcoming these days, Sunshine." He does look up at Lucas when he begins, and a certain amount of tension does drain out of his posture with that reassurance. "You can still have it. If you want. I sure don't have the equipment anymore to even begin to work on it. You do."
Sunshine walks carefully around Arrow, keeping her hand on his shoulder, until she's behind him. Without asking permission, she begins kneading his shoulders. The touch is caring, but not noticeably sexual. "Lucas told me a little of what happened after I left," she notes.
Ruth pages: There are few true words in Ruth's glance, but though she's human, though she's a particularly reticent human, some equine concern draws through. I should go? Though, with the undertone that she isn't, has no intention of leaving.
Arrow's weariness affects Lucas in a way his petulance earlier did not. He rises out of the chair and crosses the floor to stand in front of him, even as Sunshine moves around behind. "Arrow, whatever's happened, you need to hunker down and let yourself feel solid for a little while. You can do that here." Something in his face and voice turns 'here' very clearly into 'with me', as he grips the other Smith's shoulder.
You paged Ruth with 'Lucas' response is a faint head toss and the barest hint of the white of his eye. He's beset from too many sides, and cannot extricate himself, nevermind you. :^)'.
Arrow's shoulders seem to be made of steel or granite... something definitely not muscle-like. He sighs, half-smiles, and looks up at Lucas briefly. "Well. Talk about unexpected." There's a small self-deprecating laugh. "Well, Sunshine, Lucas only knew a little of what happened. Only up to when we left." He sighs again. "Thanks."
Ruth pages: Ruth just quirks a corner of her mouth up, almost imperceptable. Some subtle change in stance leaves her with her feet set with certain firmness on the ground. This surefoot mare isn't going anywhere.
Sunshine's gentle smile is invisible to Arrow unless he looks up. "I expect that what he told me is only part of what happened even before you left." Her hands are capable, but not miraculous. "I would like to hear what you have to tell."
Ruth sets her tankard down on a bench with a hollow, empty tap, lets her satchel slip down from her shoulder to set at her feet like a dutiful animal. Her feet are set firm and flat against the ground, like she grew from the spot, though her gaze drifts up, draws along the edge of the broad room, sets finally on a bench, the horseshoes scattered there.
With no more announcement than a bit of energetic panting, Arslag trots through the open door.
Ruth quirks her mouth up, her first smile since she's stepped through the door into the forge. Her eyes set on the dog, her voice picks up, though it's still her rusty alto, canted quiet. "Hey, Arslag," she says.
The dog takes in the familiar Sunshine smell, and examines the newcomer. "You remember Arr--" Lucas begins, but the dog already has his paws up on Arrow's thigh, waiting for a scratch, tongue lolling.
Arrow hitches up the corner of his mouth to Sunshine. "I'm sure there will be time for that long, sad-sack tale." Then he grins for the first time since he walked in the door. "Heya, Fuzzy!" He scritches. He scratches. He crouches down and gets his face washed. He subdues the Fearsome Arslag with chest scritches in Just The Right Spot.
Sunshine smiles at Arslag over Arrow's head. Her thumbs dig briefly into Arrow's tense shoulders before the Garou leans forward. "Now, now, self-depreciation is never called for."
Arslag is Arrow's love slave. The tummy is duly presented for rubs. It's amazing the way a friendly dog can wash the tension from a room.