The water in the tub was almost painfully hot, but Vatnir actually liked it that way. At least for a while there was no cold, that ever blazing sun of Deadfire Archipelago could not make go away. Even illusion of feeling has showed up in his frostbitten toes. The most full of puss ulcers could be opened with just stronger brush of fingers.
And Brenice was with him. She was leaning comfortably against bath's cloth-covered walls, eyes closed and head bend back. One could easily imagine her purring like a lioness in her current state.
He was curled up on the opposite side from her, adjusting to the water's temperature and caught up in his primal need of being alone. His lover called such times a ice-melting.
It all was so … nice. Never during his days in the Land nor Harbinger's Watch he had felt so comfortable, accepted for who he was in reality, not in imagination of others.
The fact, that Brenice had never pushed him in everyday things, helped. Of course, in dungeons and battles she had ultimately the last word in everything, but she didn't even blink, where he – coughing, blushing and staggering – said, that he would like not eat in front of her, preferable ever. She just took such things in, calm like water in the well.
Godlike straightened his spine and legs, sighting in delight from warmth making his rheumatic pains to go away for a bit. He felt Brenice's thighs on both sides of his hips.
Women behind him slowly spread a handful of water onto his back. Wet, but still rough in touch fingers moved along edges of bones under grey skin.
-Come. I'll wash your hair – accent from Plains was thick like a velvet.
Shifting of bodies followed. The bigger horn kept man's head just over the layer of water. Warrior's calloused hands, bit softer thanks to the time spent in the bath, slowly massaged skin under his hair. It was relaxing, warm, calming. He was even a little sad, when it was over – that feeling dissipating only after their thigh embrace, his head next to her neck.
Brenice's heat burned his uncovered cheek. Godlike winced from time to time, when droplet of sweat or condensing water got into one of wounds usually protected by the mask. Warrior's hand moved up and down his scalp, keeping white hair wet and clinging to the skull.
He was dozing from the warmth and caress, when Watcher said:
-Was thinking about things you said in the Sanctum.
Glamfellen shifted to look up at her, but she just stared into the distance, jawline more pronounced than usual.
-If all this travels and fights are so much bother for you, why don't you go anyway? Why don't just leave?
Vatnir felt the same rush of adrenaline and panic as always, when someone asked him a real question. The flight instinct was almost overwhelming. He was between fit of cough and hyperventilating, jumping from one quick answer to another in his mind.
No. She deserved something more than lazy rebuttal to get her off from his sorry back. The real thing. The true thing. One of very few, that he could offer.
Priest took slow, deep breath, sucking in moist air before speaking up.
-Because... Everything ends, ja? Even... Even this – he shrugged his arms lightly. - But whatever time we have, together or just alive, I need …. I want it to be with you.
Brenice did not answer. The chamber's silence was broken only by cracking of the ship's boards. Cold was growing in glamfellen's heart.
Then Natlan slowly moved her head and smiled tenderly at him. Small wrinkles showed up in corners of her eyes.
The ice had melted, at last.