“What the hell do you keep smirking about?” Kyr asked, giving Solan a punch in the shoulder. “You’ve been grinning all morning.”
“What, I’m not allowed to be happy?” Solan rubbed at his shoulder and flipped another page in his book. “Better to be happy than picking fights all the time like someone I could mention.”
Kyr shrugged. “I want out of here. You know that.”
“Yeah, but being an asshole isn’t the way to do it. It’s only a little longer if Lokan gets his own way.”
Kyr pushed himself off the couch and went to the nearby window, pulling the curtain back to reveal the snowstorm outside and raising an eyebrow at Solan, who just rolled his eyes. “By the time all this shit melts, it’ll be too late to do anything, because we’ll all be old men. How the fuck does Lokan expect to do shit when the snow’s completely blocking the pass and it’s so fucking cold my balls hide in my throat every time I have to go outside.”
Solan’s mouth twisted in an obvious fight not to laugh. “Anyone ever tell you that you have a real way with words?”
“Yeah, actually. Right before she failed me out of her class for being an idiot.” Kyr let the curtain fall back over the window and returned to flop on the couch, bringing his legs up and dropping his socked feet in Solan’s lap. Solan winced a little and put his book aside, reaching down to tickle Kyr’s feet until Kyr kicked him.
“Just relax,” Solan said. “It’s not like there’s anything you can do either, unless you have a hidden talent for casting fire or something.”
“I wish. I would’ve burned down old Toke’n’fart right before exams.” Kyr let his head thump down on the armrest behind him, sighing. Frustration and boredom made him jumpy and stiffened his muscles, and he missed being able to run until he was too tired to be angry. “I just feel like we’re wasting time here.”
“We’re not, Lokan’s recovering and you have to admit it’s kind of nice to be safe, somewhere people aren’t actively trying to shoot us.”
“Oh, fuck Lokan.” Kyr shoved himself to his feet again and left the library to pace the halls, clenching and unclenching his hands as he walked. It made him feel a little better and a little more in control, though when he turned a corner and almost walked right into Lokan, he had to resist the sudden urge to take a swing at him.
“Kyrianos.” Lokan nodded to him and moved past, leaving Kyr staring after him with a puzzled expression.
“What are you so cheerful about?” he called down the hall to Lokan’s back. “You and Solo. I have no idea where Torin fucked himself off to, but if I find him, is he going to be all weird too?”
“The fact that you find good moods weird says more about you than anyone else.” Lokan glanced back at him. “Or are you just annoyed that not everyone is as angry as you?”
“I just want to know why. It’s cold, it’s snowing, we’re still trapped here, and not that I’d ever insult your mother or anything, but I’m fucking sick of this house and just about everyone in it.”
Lokan just looked at him for a moment with that impassive expression that made Kyr want to punch him just to see if he’d crack. “Come with me a moment.”
“Because I want to show you something,” Lokan said patiently. “Hopefully it will set your mind at ease.”
“Not unless it’s a way out,” Kyr muttered, but he followed Lokan down the hall to the empty dining room, where folders and loose papers had been spread out all over the table.
“Look at this.” Lokan spread a few of the papers out, leaning on the table with one hand and using the other to point out the paragraphs h meant. “Here it might be winter, but outside spring is beginning to come.”
Kyr read through the report, frowning a little. “So you guys are getting your asses handed to you. I have to say, I’m not all that upset.”
“At least try to use your brain for once, instead of reacting with knee-jerk bigotry. If the humans win, then Solan’s life might as well be forfeit, as well as mine and Ceridwen’s. You should at least care about that.”
“We’ll go to Arian Mawr.”
“How long do you think that will last? Solan’s mother is the protection there, but she is still mortal, and there are humans living there. If the human army wins, I can promise you that they will not hesitate to march on Arian Mawr. The only safe place will be the mountains, but that is Fae territory, and we would have the opposite problem: you and Torin would be killed within days.”
“You want me to believe that if the Fae win, you won’t just kill us instead?” Kyr looked at the report again, chewing on his bottom lip. “It’s a no-win situation, isn’t it? No matter who wins, people get fucked over.”
“That is generally the problem with war.”
Kyr rolled his eyes. “Like you can even talk, Lokan. You’re a warlord, that’s all you were made for, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is.” Lokan straightened up, pressing a hand briefly to his chest. “So now you see why I must win.”
“No, I don’t. Far as I’m concerned, you’re still the worst choice. I’d rather take my chances with Solan and stay in Arian Mawr. And if you really even cared about him, you’d tell him not to follow you.”
Lokan raised a dark eyebrow. “Solan is an adult and capable of making his own decisions, not just the decision you approve of.”
Kyr opened his mouth to retort then shut it again, remembering how he’d snapped at Torin for the same thing. He looked down at the report again, making a show of reading it over, and glanced up at the sound of footsteps outside. Torin came in and stopped, looking between them with an expression Kyr couldn’t quite interpret, then smiled.
“The two of you alone in a room together, and nobody’s about to die. I think that’s a good sign for the rest of the country.” He came over to see what they were looking at and Kyr wondered if he was imagining the way Torin seemed to stand a little closer to Lokan than was necessary. That thought led to a place he didn’t want to think about, so he shoved it down and locked it away.
“We were just talking about how fucked this country is,” he said instead. “How if Lokan wins, you and me have a life expectancy of approximately five minutes.”
“I doubt that, Kyr,” Torin said absently, flipping through the reports. “Lokan doesn’t kill indiscriminately.”
“He’s responsible for Yao’s death.”
Torin looked up at him for a moment, then looked away again. “Both sides have done shitty things, I’m not going to deny that. But Lokan at least is willing for peace, right, Lokan?”
“Within reason,” Lokan said, earning himself a pointed look from Torin that made Kyr laugh. “If Fae and human can live together, I would be fine with that. I am, as Kyr said, a warlord. If there’s peace, there’s no need for me to lead my people to war.”
“Bullshit,” Kyr said under his breath and straightened up. “Right now I just want to get the fuck out of here.”
“We’ll leave tomorrow,” Lokan said. Both Kyr and Torin looked at him in surprise, and Kyr glanced towards the window as though expecting the snow to have vanished in the last half hour.
“How?” Torin asked. “Are we going to fly?” His tone was sarcastic but Kyr thought he saw hope in Torin’s pale eyes, and a little uncertainty.
“No, we’ll drive out.”
Torin exchanged a glance with Kyr, who shrugged and made a spiralling motion with one finger beside his ear. “Would it kill you to give a straight answer once in a while?”
“I doubt it. As I said, tomorrow we will drive out and end this war once and for all.” Lokan gathered up the papers and put them back into the folders. “Be ready to leave first thing in the morning.”
Kyr watched him walk out of the room, then turned back to Torin. “I really kind of hate him.”
“I’ve noticed. He’s not that bad, Kyr, though I realize telling you this just goes in one ear and out the other. And he’s not the only one who just wants this whole thing to end and people to at least tolerate each other, even if both sides think the other is a bunch of giant assholes.” Torin smiled a bit. “So I guess we’ll find out tomorrow how we’re getting out of here.”
He started to walk past Kyr, heading for the hallway, but Kyr caught his arm and pulled him back, studying his face. He opened his mouth to say something, then just shrugged and pulled Torin into a hug. Torin laughed and hugged him back, holding him tight until Kyr reluctantly stepped back.
“Still think you, me, and Solo should go to Arian Mawr and let everyone else fight it out, but okay. If Lokan can get us out of here tomorrow, which’ll be a fucking miracle, I guess we’re all in it for the long haul. Should’ve asked him where we’re going first though.”
“I’ll find out.” Torin leaned in to kiss his cheek, rubbed his knuckles into Kyr’s head until Kyr squirmed away, and left in the same direction as Lokan.
Kyr returned to the library, where Solan had drifted off to sleep on the couch with the book open on his chest, and spent a few moments watching him sleep before throwing a leg over him and tickling him awake. Solan grumbled and swatted at him, opening one eye to give him a bleary look, then caught his shirt in both hands and pulled him into a kiss. Sliding his hands up under Solan’s shirt, Kyr kissed back, ignoring the fact that they were out in the open in someone else’s house.
“Feeling better?” Solan asked when he finally let Kyr go.
“A bit. Lokan’s losing it. He thinks we’re going to drive out of here tomorrow.”
“I’m sure he’s got some sort of plan.” Solan frowned. “Though I don’t know if he’s really healthy enough to be going anywhere.”
“Maybe we’ll get lucky and he’ll just drop dead.” Kyr leaned in to kiss Solan’s neck and yelped when Solan whacked him in the ribs. “Ow, fine, sorry. I’ll admit I’m curious how he plans to get us the fuck out of here. Torin’s trying to find out where we’re going, if miracles do manage to happen.” He looked up as Torin came into the library as though on cue, but didn’t bother to get up from where he was sitting on Solan’s hips. “Hi Tor.”
“Oh good, I’m just in time to cock-block you again.” Torin grinned at them.
“Yeah, so tell us what Lokan said and then go away.”
Torin’s smile faded into a puzzled look. “Yeah, that’s the strange thing. He says we’re going to Arian Mawr.”