written for fiefgoldenlake dot proboards dot com's SMACKDOWN competition!

"You need to shield better."

Sandry turns from the window, hand flying to her mouth. "I'm sorry?"

Tris is leaning against the door frame. "I'm not judging, but whatever you were doing last night. You need to shield better, you and Briar both."

"What do you mean Briar?"

"He brought some girl home again, I don't keep track anymore."

Sandry nods. "It won't happen again."

"Good." Tris sighs. "Not to, you know, spoil your fun, but with what I was getting on the winds, and then the emotions coming in from you, it was all too much. I ended up sitting in Daja's forge trying to pretend I was copper at two in morning."

Sandry walks over and hugs her. "I really am sorry," she says, pressing her cheek against Tris's own.


"Last night," Daja mentions, a glint in her eye. "Why didn't I see the girl at breakfast? Was it a maid again?"

"Pretty sure that the maid's moon-eyed over you," Briar retorts. "And the girls I go with don't need to be pre-approved by you and Tris."

"Or was it that there was no one to walk out in the morning?" Daja bends over the pieces of wire on the table in front of her, smirking slightly.

"What're you saying?" Briar scowls.

Daja simply smiles this time, as mysteriously as she knows how. "I think you know."

Sandry grabs the front of Briar's tunic and yanks, pulling him closer.

"Last night," she hisses. "We need to be more careful."

He scratches the back of his neck. "I know. Daj' was dropping anvils every chance she got."

"Tris thinks it was two different people, but she knew something was going on."

"Fine," Briar shrugs, moving to the counter to grab a roll, "we'll be more careful."

"You mean to say it's going to happen again?" Sandry's eyes are blue and blue and surprised- pleasantly, Briar imagines.

"I don't see why not, not if you don't mind." He moves a little closer to her. "If all is all right with you, Duchess."

She nods, half-way hesitantly, and then gives him a decisive look. "We're going to be more careful though. No more lapses."

"Definitely," Briar places a hand on her shoulder, and starts building up mental blocks.