ter·ti·um quid

1. Something that cannot be classified into either of two groups considered exhaustive; an intermediate thing or factor.
2. A third person or thing of indeterminate character.


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Blood in the water.

It teased at their senses: hers with a detached curiosity, his with an odd sort of hunger. Each watched as the river was stained --

-- swirled, carrying away the coppery liquid from red to pink to a glistening, secret-keeping blue.

Like his skin and hair, or her favorite quilt that kept her warm at night. But the blanket was much too far to ease the chill settled into her bones, so when searing heat wrapped around her shoulder, she turned into the touch, settled against his side with a stiffness that had nothing to do with sore muscles and the dull throb in the ankle she carefully propped on his shin.

He shifted under her, against her, one hand curving around her waist to settle her more comfortably while the other spread a large, tattered cloak over them to help hold in what warmth the crackling fire provided. A growl rumbled through his chest as she slid a slim, pale hand up to probe gently at his temple. The sound shifted, though, when her wrist brushed his lips, her quiet admonishment settling something she shouldn't have known to soothe.

...Didn't know to soothe.

Her surprised chuckle at the rough purr made him want to bare his teeth for her in an archaic display; he told himself he did it anyway to shock her, but she merely rolled her eyes, declaring it a 'macho front to hide his inner pussy-cat'.

His deadpan 'meow' earned him another laugh, quietly, no doubt out of sympathy for his aching head, but full of honest emotion. The young woman was too open, somewhere between wary distrust and grudging respect, but her eyes gave much of her thoughts away.

A keen intelligence had kept her alive this long, though; he was curious to see how far it could take her.

The silence that followed was companionable enough, but neither slept deeply that night.

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