[This post is from Phelan’s point of view.]
Matt stared at him deadpan for a few seconds, though there was a maelstrom flickering through his eyes, emotions tumbling over each other in rapid succession before they were gone. His fingers tightened visibly around the hammer in his hand and for a second his jaw went tight as well.
Then the tension eased and Matt sighed, shaking his head slowly. “Somehow, even though it’s gone, that place never seems to let go, does it?” He scrubbed a hand over his face, leaving a faint trail of soot across his cheekbone and jaw. “What did you tell her?”
“That she’s connected to it. I can’t believe I didn’t put it together sooner.” Phelan stopped working the bellows, slumping onto a bench. Matt just shook his head, pulling the heated metal out of the coals and beginning to shape it again, hammer falling in a smooth, easy rhythm, almost automatic, instinctual.
“It makes sense, though, thinking about it. Marin’s always pointed out that Kel’s connection to the lines and everything has been stronger, that she’s always been more in tune with that sort of thing.” The ghost of a smile curved his lips, though briefly, and his gaze never strayed from the metal under his hammer. “I know she didn’t think I was paying attention back then.”
“Actually, I think she thought you thought she was full of some kind of bullshit,” Phelan muttered, watching the metal flatten out a little more with each blow of the hammer. The sound was soothing, the motion something to focus on rather than the sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. “I shouldn’t have said anything about it, Matt.”
“Too late to take it back now,” Matt said with a slight shake of his head. “How did she react?”
“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen her face that color.”
“That well, huh?” Matt shrugged with the shoulder holding the metal steady against the anvil. “It’ll be all right, Phelan. You know her well enough by now to know that she’ll sort through it all her own way. She’s going to have questions, though. Are you going to have answers?”
“Are any of us?”
“That’s not what I asked.” Matt thrust the sword back into the forge and pumped the bellows once, twice. “She’s going to look to you for answers, Phelan. What you need to figure out is what you’re going to say when she does—and who you’re going to look to for her sake when you don’t have the answers she needs. What do you do then?”
“I don’t know,” Phelan whispered. “I really don’t know.”