[This post is from Thom’s point of view.]
Thom sat near the doorway out of the forge, staring out at the rain. Behind him, Matt was reheating a strip of metal that was going to become either a sword or a tool—he hadn’t bothered to ask which it would be, not yet. He could feel his brother-in-law’s gaze on him even as the younger man shifted the metal in the firebox, letting it heat through, though perhaps paying less attention to it than he probably should.
“What is it?” Thom finally asked, not looking back. They were alone together up there—Thom to work on some sketches, Matt to work the forge itself. Thom hadn’t quite expected to be alone together up there, but perhaps the rain that had begun falling half an hour after they’d finished having breakfast had something to do with it.
“You are never going to get back down there without getting soaked or worse,” Matt said. “I’m still trying to figure out how you got up here.”
“Slowly and painfully,” Thom said, glancing back over his shoulder with a rueful smile. “Everything hurts.”
“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me, Thom.” Matt shook his head, glancing back to check the metal in the coals. “You keep going through the wringer and then shit keeps getting worse.”
“Yeah, well,” Thom murmured, “I guess some of us are built to suffer.”
“Possibly true,” Matt said, shifting the bar around in the forge. “It wouldn’t surprise me, anyway, all things considered.” He went silent for a few moments more, then exhaled. “Have you been feeling better? Beyond everything hurting, I mean.”
Thom nodded slightly. “Yeah, a bit. Better than the alternative.”
“The alternative being?”
“Something we don’t talk about,” Thom said, voice firm, though he still smiled, glancing back again. “Sufficient to say it’s something that would greatly upset your sister.”
“Oh,” Matt said. “One of those things. Right.” He pulled the metal out of the fire, taking up his hammer. “Well, I think we’d both rather avoid that.”
“Exactly,” Thom said, turning back to stare out at the rain again. Thunder grumbled low in the distance. He exhaled quietly, wishing that some of the aches would drop away. He knew they wouldn’t, though.
Somehow, he just knew.