"I dunno if he's really going to want to talk to you. Just so you know."

Shannon fidgeted, uneasily, playing with his hands, and glanced at the door again. "I know. I just thought…before he leaves – before you both leave…"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever, fine with me," I said shortly, still scowling blankly at the wall. Shannon nearly winced and I tried to moderate my expression, but knew very well how well that usually worked. Not very. I'm not really a very friendly looking guy by nature.

"How…is he?" He sounded tentative, as though expecting a snappish reply. I bit off the one that occurred to me, not really wanting to sound like Felix on a bad day. "Fine. But you can ask him yourself."

"I want an honest answer," Lord Shannon said ruefully, looking aside, slightly embarrassed. I shrugged and felt myself close off.

"He's fine." No matter how far Felix was from that, no one would ever hear otherwise from me. Shannon sighed. There was a silence which I made no attempt to fill and didn't find particularly awkward. Shannon seemed to, though, and he spoke up before too long.

"So you're…really his brother?"

"Half. Thought it'd be obvious," I said, making no real effort toward politeness.

"You do look very much alike."


There was another silence. Shannon fidgeted again. "What did you do…before meeting Felix, then?"

I couldn't resist. I grinned. "You don't wanna know, Lord Shannon," I drawled, and was pleased by the briefly frightened expression on the man's face, though it faded quickly and a moment later both our heads turned for the door, mine a moment earlier.

"Mildmay, I told you not to let anyone…" Felix's voice was tired and he still looked mussed, if less visibly than he had. Maybe the wash had done him some good. But the way his eyes flicked to Shannon and then hardened didn't really bode well. "Lord Shannon. How kind of you." His voice was tight and the tone suggested anything but welcome. I swallowed hard and tried not to grimace too much, leaning back into the wall.

"He let himself in. Was here when I got back."

Shannon stood, eyes on his erstwhile lover, frowning. "Mi – Messire Foxe speaks truly. I did let myself in. I was hoping…"

"Still have the key, do you?" There was something sharp in his voice and I didn't like his expression at all, all quiet, almost nothing in his eyes.

"Yes, I do, but Felix-"

"Shannon, I would have thought you were done with this foolishness by now." Smoothly. Shannon didn't quite flinch.

"Before you left…"

"Before I am exiled?" Sharper, still not harsh, but the edge on his voice was nasty. I felt like kicking him. I gritted my teeth and held my silence. Getting in the middle of this was not a good idea. Shannon took a visible deep breath, looking pained.

"…yes, before you …both leave, I wanted to wish you farewell."

"I'm sure you and half the Mirador are glad to see the back of me, Shannon, no need to exercise your considerable acting talent." I really did want to kick him. Shannon did wince, this time. I shoved aside my better ideas and spoke up.

"Powers, Felix, shut up and let him talk, all right? He ain't saying anything bad."

"Isn't," Felix corrected me irritably, "Isn't saying anything bad."

I ignored the grateful look Shannon cast my way. Wasn't really for him I spoke up anyway. "And I wanted to," he continued, slowly, eyes still nervously on Felix like he was going to snap any minute – I didn't really blame him for that. "Apologize, I suppose…"

"You suppose? Aren't you certain of that?" Derision in his voice. I managed to keep my mouth shut this time, though.

"I would like to apologize," Shannon said, more firmly, "And to offer my condolences, for your loss…" Oh, fuck. Felix turned away violently. I thanked…someone that his voice was even, at least.

"His name was Gideon."

"---my condolences for…Gideon's death, then. I'm sorry." Shannon really was clueless. I could see Felix's shoulders go up like the hackles on a cat, but he didn't turn around.

"You're sorry, Shannon? So am I, darling. So am I."


"Don't come crawling back here looking for a second chance," Felix snapped, his voice too close to breaking. "Don't come crawling here looking for a salve to your guilty conscience. I haven't any to offer."

"I'm not looking for a second chance," Shannon said, standing and going over to Felix. "Please, just look at me, there's just some things I wanted to say…"

"Haven't you said them all by now?" Bitterly. I fidgeted uncomfortably, looking between them and wondering if I should leave. I didn't think it was a good idea. Somewhere I didn't really think I was leaving Felix by himself for long anytime soon.

"—no, I haven't," Shannon said softly, and his hand rested lightly on Felix's shoulder. "I-"

"Don't touch me!" Felix spun, his voice cracking. We both jumped. I could see the fault lines clear as when they'd hauled him down in the dark where we'd been. Only difference was now Shannon was there to see it, and I suspected he'd never seen Felix like this before.

"My god, Felix, what's happened to you?" He sounded appalled. Felix turned away again, violently, and went to his cabinet, removed a glass and filled it with wine, which he drained in one dash.

"Nothing is wrong with me."

"You look exhausted."

"Perhaps I am mad," Felix said, and then laughed, shrilly. I hunched my shoulders and winced more.

"—where are your rings?" Shannon sounded alarmed. I looked over, worriedly, and was surprised to see that he'd managed to capture Felix's hands, if not his eyes, and was holding them.

"Let go of me. It's part of my sentence, darling. I am no longer a wizard. So I no longer have the right to wear the rings."

"But where are they?"

"I don't know. Wherever the Curia took them, I suppose." His voice was dull again, uninterested. "Let go of me, Shannon. I am not in the mood." Shannon looked up at Felix and released him.

"Felix…don't do this. Please." Shannon rubbed his forehead. He sounded tired, rueful, to me at least. "I just wanted to…come and tell you that I am sorry. About…things. And I wish they could have been different."

There was a moment's silence. I resisted the urge to bolt. Felix surprised me, though.

"Do you?"

Shannon nodded, once. "Pride is a stupid thing," he said quietly. I held my breath. Shannon certainly knew how hard Felix could bring someone down with a few well-placed words.

"Yes. It is." Felix sighed. "I'm not going to take you back." Kethe, but he sounded tired.

"I know, I just thought…"

"Thank you. Perhaps if we had more time…"

"I'm sorry," Shannon said again, even more quietly.

"So am I," Felix said, and then he turned, violently, and vanished into the hallway. I stared after him, feeling a little bleak. Suddenly Shannon laughed, shakily.


"Been worse," I said shortly, and tucked my chin down, not looking at him. Shannon shook his head.

"You will take care of him?" he said, quietly. I just nodded. Shannon started for the door. "And…don't leave too quickly. There's still something I…want to do."

"Something?" I said, a little suspiciously I'll admit, but he was gone too. I went looking for Felix instead.

I found him where I thought I would, in Gideon's room where he'd stayed for a bit, looking blankly at the bookshelves. I didn't ask if he was crying. Just leaned back against the wall and watched.

I didn't want him alone.