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Finding the Constant

 
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Lirssa Sarengrave
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 29 Jul 2007
Posts: 735
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Can Be Found: Rhydin
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:34 am    Post subject: Finding the Constant Reply with quote

The day was cool, but it had sun pouring through it. It wasn’t like Lirssa and Val had not eaten outside in the hate of cold or the discomfort of rain. The cool meant nothing to them as they sat upon the patch of grass at the edge of the busy Marketplace and had their lunch.

A morning’s work for both of them, Lirssa at Heart Notes and Val at Silver Lark, the pair of red heads, Val’s a stronger, striking shade of red, started on their meal. In the silence of unwrapping and unpacking the sandwiches and vegetables that Mrs Sianna had fixed for them, their heads bowed down as they arranged their meal. “Did you have a lot to do this morning?” Lirssa glanced at Val’s hands, scrubbed clean but for a faint sign of paint along the corner of a fingernail.

Clean hands, clean clothes, they sat there no longer looking as children of the street. Lirssa even noticed Val had dropped his old habit of constantly checking around himself. His hair was short away from his eyes no longer able to hide behind what had been dirty red locks. The scrawny strength of his time cobble bedding it was long gone replaced with the healthy thickness of a well fed hard worker. His shoulders had broadened, but his clothes fit him well. Clothes made for him, bought for him, just as Lirssa’s clothes were bought and made for her. She still wore her old motley as a jacket.

“We have lots to do. Johnny’s had lots of special orders of late, which means I get to do more of the store display work. I like it.” Val sipped from the canteen of cider. “What about you? How was school?”

“Glad that is done. I won’t know how I did on my exams until end of this week.” She crossed her fingers and her eyes, laughing as Val chuckled. “So,” a bit of trepidation crept up her shoulders, “not Mister Johnny anymore, huh? Ready to get yourself a whole proper name and all? Valentine Smith. Sounds like a famous six-shooter in the western flicker shows.” Twist about, she aimed her hand in mimed gun form at him.

“Yeah,” he smiled at her. That was as telling as anything, that Val did not fight an angry flush or even bat an eye at being called his full name. Lirssa was in one moment unsettled by it, that her friend had changed so much and so easily, and another turn jealous. What was wrong with her that she couldn’t do that? Why had it taken, was still taking, her so long to leave that life behind?

Val shrugged and poked around in the bowl of vegetables to find his favorite. “I don’t need to have that code anymore, ya know? Feels right, feels good.” He breathed out on the word, like he had been holding it in, afraid of letting a secret out. “You still give titles, though, why?”

Lirssa did give titles. Code amongst the street people she has known that those with a title were good, maybe trustworthy. If nothing else, they were people Lirssa had lifted from the target zone of petty pickpockets and the workings of the street urchins. “Because I’m still out there, Val. I've Second Chances and the foster homes.”

The silence dripped over them as they took their sandwiches in hand to eat. It pooled inside Lirssa, cooling her comfort in the luncheon with her friend. Maybe they weren’t the same, and it had all changed so much there was no going back to what they had before.

No, not what they had before, that had been uncomfortable sometimes, too, when Val took up for her or against her. They watched the grass about them and the people of the Marketplace going about their business as they ate. A passerby and her companion scoffed. “Gracious, Mathilda, can you imagine what that hair color will be like when those two have children?”

“Blinding. Ghastly ginger.” The two women with their pruned up lips in a tight, dissatisfied turn walked on to criticize someone else, and Lirssa looked up at Val wide eyed at what they had heard.

As he laughed so did she, big and bright. She was glad he laughed, too. For a moment, she was worried. She did not want to hurt Val’s feelings, but things with Nicholas had made it all too clear for Lirssa that she was never going to allow herself to feel anything for someone again. In his laugh, she relaxed with the easy reclamation of friendship. Much like the greyhound curled up behind her, nosing around her side in hunt for his share of the meal, Lirssa could count on Val. She forgave him his lapse of a year or more ago. That he had learned to trust adults and others before her was something she could not really blame him for, not now.

“It isn’t like I haven’t thought about it,” Val started, looking only halfway up from his sandwich to somewhere along her shoulder. “I mean, we--”

No, Lirssa was not going to have it, and she interrupted him to change the subject. “Word about the street, you and your family got into a bit of a shaker. All right there?” No need to go into particulars. Val may have dropped using the code himself, but he knew the street lingo.

Val did not answer immediately. That flush of anger that he used to get about his name was filling his cheeks. He frowned down at the sandwich, and then looked away from her. “Yeah, we’re good. Sianna’s been wondering if you might help with a bit of the adjustment, you know how you talk with children and all.”

It was not easy, the words came out of his mouth crisp without the warmth of the moment before's easy manner. “Caitir could help with that.”

A roll of his eyes, he looked back to her. “You know she’s convinced she had a vision of Sianna the night you found her. If you can’t help that’s fine.”

“I didn’t say that.” Lirssa hated when he did that. He always cut to the heart of the matter when she tried to dance around it. “If you all need my help, you know you’ve got it. I have this whole month off and only working for Miss Eless in the morning.”

There was no answer more than the nod. Lirssa bit into her sandwich and tried to shake off the bitterness of his accusation. That he would think she would not help when the Smiths, and him among them, asked for it stung. She was still Lirssa, and she could balance her life one foot in the world of families and one foot in the world of the streets. She would because she had to.
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"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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