16 November, 2012
16 November 2012
Juni was a bit apprehensive at something in Einar’s voice but found herself far too excited at the opportunity before her--learning the skills she’s spent so long practicing from a man who had been relying on them to survive day-to-day for the past several years, learning from the best--to pay the apprehension much heed and quickly accepted his offer, Liz simply rolling her eyes and hoping everybody didn’t end up dead. It was looking like a distinct possibility.
As for Einar, he ate in grim silence when Liz set his supper of steaming stew before him, not, it seemed to her, even pausing as usual to think about how he’d rather not be eating at all--he still did that most times; she could see it in his eyes, though outwardly he held with a dogged persistence to his promise to eat whatever she gave him--which she wanted to take as a positive sign, though under the circumstances it was difficult to do so. His mind was clearly elsewhere, supper going down more by default than by design, and she could not help but somewhat dread what the morning--and the following week--would bring.
Juni was not quite well-enough informed to dread the coming week, eyes still glowing in anticipation at what seemed to her the opportunity of a lifetime and mind busy with the questions she would ask, the areas of experience on which she would most like to focus, if she had any say at all in such matters. Then there was the matter of her pack. Many of the useful items in it she had either made herself or traded from others who relied solely on primitive methods of gathering and manufacture, so surely he would approve of at least some of the items and their use during the course…
“What should I pack to take? Assuming we won’t be at the cabin for the entire week…”
A silent glare from Einar, and she continued. “I’ve got my flint and steel, tinder, some snares and cordage that I…”
“What makes you think you get to take anything? That’s not how it works. Be lucky if you get to take your boots, the clothes on your back and half your wits, and chances are pretty good you’ll come back with less than that, at the end of it.”
“Oh. Of course. I didn’t mean… You’re the instructor, and…”
He silenced her with a dismissive wave of a hand, went back to staring at the wall.
“And,” Liz picked up, “now, the instructor needs some rest if he’s going to be good for anything tomorrow. How about it?”
Einar nodded, followed her silently to bed, collapsing heavily onto the hides and nearly falling asleep before Liz could join him. She wasn’t quite ready for sleep, though.
“This…thing you have planned for tomorrow. What are you going to do?”
He stared through her for a moment, face blank and eyes distant, a bit wild in the candlelight but then he saw her and they softened and he rested his head against hers, whispering so as not to disturb the already-sleeping Will.
“I’m going to go to sleep. How about you?”
“Yes, me too! Long day. But I meant after you sleep. What exactly do you have planned for tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow will take care of itself. Done for now. Tired.”
“You ought be, after that long climb and two hours of watching the place out in the cold. That takes a lot of energy. Finally starting to get warm in here, and the way the wind’s howling outside, I’ll admit to being glad we’re not out in it. It’s a good time to sleep. Let me warm you up a little, first?”
“No need. I can sleep just fine cold.”
“Maybe, but I can’t sleep just fine when you’re this cold. Can’t stand thinking that you’ll have to shiver all night, which I know you will, if you don’t start out a little warmer. It just doesn’t sound very relaxing. And besides, it’s like having a giant block of ice in the bed, which I don’t find very relaxing at all, for me! Did you ever try sleeping with a giant chunk of ice in the bed?”
“Yes, a time or two, but it was…”
“Oh, don’t answer that! Please. I should have figured you would have done such a thing, at one time or another.”
“Sure. It was a good exercise in…”
“Stop it! You can tell me some other time, when it’s not so cold. Now come here and let me see if I can’t work some of that ice out of your bones before we go to sleep.”
“Aw, I kinda like it there. Can sleep on the floor so it doesn’t bother you…”
“It would bother me even more then, because I’d know how badly you were freezing and I’d keep waking up all night thinking about it.”
“You’re a pretty strange human-critter, Lizzie. That’s for sure.”
“No, sorry, you’re the strange one here. Most people would be concerned about the fact that someone they cared about was freezing to death on the floor beside them in the night, and wouldn’t just lie in their warm beds and let it happen. In fact, most people probably would have tied you into the bed by now with a pile of bear hides and hot rocks just to make sure you couldn’t escape in the night and start freezing again! You should be glad I don’t do that. Too often.”
“Oh,” he chuckled, moving closer so she could get her arms around him as she’d been trying to do, “so you’re being lenient with me, are you?”
“Yes, and don’t you forget it.”
“People are weird.”
“Right. Now how about you let me finish getting you warm, so we can sleep. Tomorrow sounds like a long day.”