More About the Past

Guest House, New Moon Farm
This little cottage lacks the clutter of daily life, but still manages to have a lived-in air. The earthen bins in the big front windows overflow with healthy plants, including tomatoes, cucumbers, and other tender vegtables which do well in greenhouses, and the graceful bare branches of a wisteria twine against the glass (it must provide useful shade in the summer). The floor is flagstone, covered with a variety of hemp and wool rugs woven in geometrical designs and plant patterns. The front door opens into a living room with comfortably shabby couches and a lovely although battered dining table; the kitchen is directly opposite, lighted by skylights. To the right, coming in, is an archway leading to a bedroom (you can see the foot of the bed and a clothes-press); and to the left is a curtained archway which leads to a smaller bedroom and a large bathroom with an enormous tiled bathtub. A beautiful woolen rug hangs on the wall opposite the front door. (There are views here.)
Present: Lucas, Ruth

Lucas simply nods and sits back again, watching the dust motes drift in companionable silence.
Lucas sits in the overstuffed chair, Ruth on the sofa, one leg drawn up to her chest. A conversation, momentarily stilled, hangs heavy in the air.

Sunshine steps out of the smaller bedroom, brushing her skirts to settle them. The healer swings her hat gently from one hand as she heads into the main room.

Lucas looks up at the sound of her entrance, his face crinkling into a smile. "Sunshine! Did you hear?" he asks her, apparently assuming she'll know what he's talking about if she did.

Ruth leans her head back, crimson and black curls sweeping back from her brow. She doesn't look towards the healer, but a corner of her mouth quirks up, she splays a row of bare toes. "'lo, Sunshine," she murmurs.

Sunshine's eyebrows rise slightly. Her warm smile rests on Lucas for a moment before touching Ruth. "Lucas. What a pleasure. No, I haven't heard a thing, I'm afraid. Hello, Ruth."

"Arrow was here!" The smith's voice picks up some of jumbled emotions warring for control of his face. "He only stayed long enough to annoy Gerard, the rockskull, but he's not far." The smith is considerably more animated speaking to Sunshine than he was to Ruth a moment ago, but that is very likely because the healer and he have quite a bit of history themselves. "Ah can't believe Ah missed him!"

Sunshine looks momentarily stunned, and sinks into a chair. "Truly? Here? But..."

Ruth glances at the pair. Her mouth quirks up as she settles back down onto the couch, draws her legs up. Her book finds its way onto her lap again, opens with the whisper and scent of aged paper.

Sunshine sets her hat down on her knee and begins carefully brushing the brim. Not that it needs it. "I haven't seen him since... well, since a few days before I left."

Lucas nods, scratches the back of his neck. "Yeah, and that was a while ago, for sure. Ah haven't seen him since *he* left, oh -- it's been four years and change now, Ah guess." Lucas tugs thoughtfully at his forelock. "Haven't seen *her*, either --" He looks up. "Ah told you Golden went with him, right? When they gave him the boot?"

Sunshine looks up, faint worry in her eyes. "No... I don't think you did." She glances at Ruth, then looks back at Lucas. "Frankly, I'm not entirely sure I remember what you did tell, though..."

Ruth pulls herself up, reaches down to tug her satchel up onto the couch. She nudges the book closed, tucks it inside. A hand pushes her hair away from her eyes, then falls as she glances at the healer, the smith. "Should head out," she murmurs." With that she stands, shoulders the battered green pack. "Lucas, mind if I borrow you and the forge, sometime?"

Caught, Lucas looks from Sunshine to Ruth and back again. With a groan, he slouches back in the chair again, both hands running through his hair, now. "Ugh," he says. "We fought," he says. "Over-- over stupid, pointless stuff, though the Lady knows it seemed positively dire at the time." He shakes his head, one hand dropping to rest on his thigh. He's speaking mostly to Sunshine, but with glances and gestures acknowledges Ruth in his audience as well. As Ruth rises, he looks at her, perplexed. "You did ask, Ruth," he says.

Sunshine smiles faintly. "Most fights are like that," she offers gently. She watches Ruth stand. "Ruth, please don't feel you have to leave..."

Ruth stands like she grew from the spot, surefooted, toes splayed against the floor. Still, even trees stir when the wind's strong enough. She blinks, her mouth set in a wide line, looks away, then back again. "I did," she murmurs. "Listen, I know I don't like people asking me how I got here. Shouldn't expect others would." She lets a breath out, a quiet snort, then lets the satchel tumble down to the couch, follows it to sit again.

Lucas snorts at Ruth. "Ah ain't 'others', Ruth, not anymore," he tells her firmly, almost chidingly. "Not after you and Layla and the Kin hauled mah sorry ass out of Hell." He frowns. "At least, Ah'd hope not."

Sunshine's eyebrows rise, more than slightly. "Hell? Is this why you've been scarce, Lucas?" The healer's voice is vaguely tense, as if she had been worried about her old friend, though seeing him apparently healthy and mostly happy in front of her has clearly countered that considerably.

"Well, three levels deep in the madness of the Battle Plain," Lucas amends. "Near as Ah feel like getting anytime soon."

Ruth stares at the smith. It doesn't last, the look, but anvils would be lighter. She shakes her head. "You aren't," she says, even.

Sunshine doesn't seem particularly reassured by Lucas's clarification. "I see," she says slowly. "You're alright though? Both of you?"

Lucas shrugs, depreciatingly. "It was touch and go for me, for a bit toward the end there, but we all got out of it in one--" He pauses, shares a grin with Ruth. "Well, those pieces have mostly grown back by now." He rotates his injured shoulder with only a slight wince.

Sunshine starts to stand, glancing at Ruth, then looking back at Lucas and sitting again. "You are exasperating, Lucas," she says with a faint smile. "I'll take you at your word. This time."

Ruth burrs a breath out between her lips. "Didn't make you any lighter to carry," she says, quiet. She quirks a corner of her mouth up, though the smile doesn't yet warm her eyes.

"Ah'll make sure the next one gets some of the heavier bits," the smith teases.

Sunshine watches the two Perunka quietly for a moment.

Ruth's smile broadens a little, brightens the lines of her broad face. She cants her head, sidelong. "Long as it isn't your head. Don't think you'll grow that back."

Lucas rolls his eyes up, as though trying to see his own head. "AH dunno, some folks might reckon it an improvement."

"I don't know about that, Lucas. Some of us are rather fond of your head where it is now," offers Sunshine with another of her faint smiles. A speculative look crosses her face, but she doesn't voice the thought.

Ruth shakes her head, slow, almost amiable now. There's tension in her long limbs, in the way her muscles stir under dark skin, but it fades as she settles back into the couch, a loose curl. "Might be," she says. She smiles, quick and warm, glances at Sunshine.

Lucas opens his mouth to make some further remark, thinks better of it, and just grins instead, running a hand across the back of his neck. "So, ah, right," he says.

"So," agrees Sunshine. "Is Arrow's Flight, may the Goddess grant him peace, likely to be of the party wanting your head on your neck, or on the wall?"

Ruth grins at Lucas, now, though it fades just as quick as she looks to Sunshine.

Lucas looks chagrined. "Ah honestly don't know," he admits. "We were still all fuming at each other when the Elders finally decided they'd had enough of him and threw him out." His eyes shift away. "Ah haven't seen him since." He adds, "Either of them."

Sunshine nods slowly. "I hope they've found what they were looking for," she says simply. She hesitates, turning her hat and fiddling with the edge of the brim. "Lucas?"

Lucas looks up at Sunshine, his brows raised. "Mm?"

Sunshine discards several possible questions before asking, "You went to the... Battle Field, you called it? on purpose, yes?"

"The Battle Plain," Lucas corrects, "Yeah." He looks vaguely puzzled, not sure where this is leading. "We went to find some of the old Artifacts, to help us against the Hive." Brow still furrowed, he adds, "We had the Lady's own Blessing on our Quest."

Sunshine definitely looks reassured by that last bit. "Ah. Did you find what you were looking for?"

Lucas says "Ah think we did, yes," he replies, face clearing."

Sunshine nods, seemingly mostly to herself. "Was it worth it?"

Lucas cocks his head, puzzled again. "Reckon we'll know that when we take on Silverarm and his crew," he says. "You alright?" he asks.

Ruth draws herself up, shoulders her satchel. There's no tension there, now, but determination crinkles the corners of her eyes. "Think it was," she says. "Got something to do before it gets dark," she adds, then glances at the smith. "Think you and the forge'll have time for something?" She pauses then, looks to Sunshine.

Sunshine sighs gently, picking absently at the edge of her hat. She glances up at Ruth as the other woman stands. With a faint smile, she says, "Lady light your way, Ruth." Lucas's question is avoided for the moment.

"Reckon so," Lucas answers Ruth with a warm smile. "Long as it's nothing too big. The left arm's still not up to, oh, bending cold steel or lifting wagons or nothing like that." He flexes the arm, clenching and unclenching his left fist. "Later, then?"

Ruth dips her head down, a quick nod. "Horseshoes," she says, simply. "Got an idea," she adds, a little cryptic. But then she's opened the door and stepped out into summer. "Back later."

Lucas nods after the retreating Ruth, then returns his gaze to Sunshine.

Sunshine watches Ruth go. "She's a good woman," she says neutrally.

Lucas crosses his arms, the corner of his mouth tugging up even as his brows draw down. "So what's up, Sunshine?" he asks, his warm baritone both stern and puzzled.

Sunshine smiles faintly at Lucas, most of her expression retreating behind her usual cool serenity. "I was... concerned, when I had not seen you for some time, but I didn't have time to ask after you." Besides the risk of the nosier minds in the community jumping to unwarranted conclusions.

Lucas retains the bemused expression. "Er, thanks, Sunshine," he says, quite sincerely. "But... Well, you're usually the one to disappear for months or years at a time with nary a word." He pauses, gives his head a little shake. "Why are you-- ?" His eyes widen a bit. "You didn't have a vision or something -- ?"

Sunshine's smile warms just slightly. "Not about you, no. Just, well, it's probably just my prejudices." She sets her hat down beside her, then picks it up again. "Have you truly found something that will help you get rid of... Silverarm once and for all?"

Lucas shakes his head, smiling. "Nothing is certain, except there are no quick fixes," he says. "You know that. Still, we found -- She saw fit to lead us to -- some pretty powerful things." He look at her seriously. "Power can turn on its wielder; I'm being careful."
Lucas says "What did you see? If I may ask?"

Sunshine fiddles with her hat. "What I see every time I'm sent to a village he has... visitted, Lucas, that's all."

Without a word, Lucas shifts fluidly from the chair to the sofa, next to Sunshine, his broad arm around her shoulder. "We'll get him," he murmurs, low and certain and solid. "We will."

Sunshine leans against her old friend, relaxing with a faint shudder. "I hope so, Lucas. I hope so."

Lucas hugs her close, kisses her hair, and for a moment she is awash in warm horsy smells, tinged with the familiar sharp scent of the forge. Then he lets her go.

Sunshine closes her eyes, letting the smells, and the memories, wash over her. When he lets her go, she sits up, patting her hair though it hasn't moved noticeably. Apropos of nothing, she asks, "Have you heard from Narmanda recently?"

Lucas smiles. "No, not from her. Ah did hear from a Lynx-shifter passing through Chicago that she'd tossed a couple of the..." He searches for some appropriate words, gives up. "...less suitable brothers out on their ears, and was making an effort to clean the place up a bit."

[fade to random reminiscing]