Disclaimer: I don't own the Havemercy series or any of the characters in it.

I'm only half-way through Dragon Soul (school is a time-leech, sucking out all of the time I could be using to read) so give me some leeway on what happens at the end of it.




"Oi, cindy."

Thom sighed heavily. Rook.

He wondered if he had made a mistake, latching himself onto someone who seemed to move along a sliding scale of disdainfully ignoring him to outright hating him. Was it enough to justify his desire to be with Rook just because they were brothers?

Rook mocked his appetite, looked down on his note-taking, thought he was… a 'cindy.'

Thom loved his brother – Rook was all he had – but sometimes he wondered if he was crazy to do so.

"Hey, quit starin' out the window; I'm talking to you!"

Thom almost wished he wasn't. The backwoods inn was just as rundown and ramshackle as every other place they had stayed but the view out the window – overlooking a lake with sparkling water – was beautiful. He wanted to keep staring, enjoying the piece and letting his mind wander.

Rook would gut him if he didn't surrender his attention.

"Yes, Rook?" he asked, turning around.

His brother – always so large – took up more space than just what his body occupied. His personality, dominating and rough, was a real presence around him like a bubble made of spikes.

But something was different. Rook's tough-guy stance was missing; his head was down, hands clasped behind his back.

Thom immediately thought the worst. "Oh, John, what did you do?"

"What? I didn't do nothing!" Rook snapped.

Thom blushed and rushed to soothe ruffled feathers. "Alright, I'm sorry. I just assumed-."

"Well don't!"

He flinched. Could Rook blame him for assuming? "I'm sorry," he repeated. "What is it, Rook?"

Rook looked cowed, humbled again. What was going on? "Was out. You know… picked up a whore."

Thom closed his eyes. Listening to this was not his idea of brotherly bonding.

"Some guy left a bag at the whorehouse and all the girls were digging through it, right? And he didn't have anything good, but still there was something… I thought you'd like it, so I paid the whores for it."

"Oh, Rook." Thom wasn't sure if he was moved or not. That Rook had seen something he thought Thom would like and paid attention to it, not dismissed it, paid for it and brought it to him… still, he had essentially helped whores rob a man. "What did you bring me?"

Rook moved his hands and shoved his reward at Thom.

A book. Thick and leather-bound, brand new from the crisp edges and fresh smell. Thom took it reverently and opened the cover. Fairytales, old Volstovic ones, the kind neither he nor Rook had been read as children.

"It's in perfect condition," Thom said, "Thank you so much, Rook."

Why had Rook not blown it off like every other book he had ever laid eyes on? Did he know that it was full of stories their mother should have told them?

Rook nodded and sat down on the large bed; the room only had one and Thom was fully expecting to sleep on the floor like a dog. He looked awkward – unlike himself it all – and finally gave a massive sigh and a shrug. "If you're bored or something, you can read it to me, I guess. I looked at some of the pictures and all…."

Thom smiled, still slightly confused, and flipped to the first page, settling against the window-frame to get comfortable. "Okay, brother."