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He will never get tired of this, he decided, and relished the moment--of not having half his mind go winging away to look simply because he'd made such a statement. For as long as he lives, he will never get tired of being able to look at time in a long straight line, neatly flattened and laid out--granted, the path he'd taken bent it, bunched it, scrawled across it like a fat blue crayon in a toddler's hand, and that being the case, many things were lost and blurred when he looked at it this way, with the paper smoothed out.

He doesn't bother trying to think back at those too hard; he could probably find some sort of overlaying order if he holds the paper against the various tattoos engraved on his skin, anchors of time and memory, ink faded to green in places that should be years newer than some of the old. But when those are covered with long, soft shirt sleeves of bamboo and hemp, he can ignore those smudges and tangles in the thread, along with the gaps where he'd jumped track.

He was thinking of this, while he wandered from the kitchen with a small bowl of salted, buttered and somewhat mushy rice; he paused, in thought as well as action, looking at his wife there, half-curled in his favorite armchair, much bigger than the usual size, but not quite large enough to count as a loveseat. He favored it because it let him sprawl and bend in any sort of strange contortion he might find comfortable when he sat in it alone--and it forced them to sit close, when they sat in it together. He felt his heart do its usual drawn-out ache where it lived in the hollow of his chest, watching the light in her hair, and her hand moving across the page, and her toes peeking out from beneath her skirt, and her altogether. He stood there contentedly, purring, the rice steaming in his hand, and wings at half-mast and half-within the visible spectrum of light, and half out.

Eventually she looked up, all her hair loosely bundled away from her face in something that might resemble a knot, if not a bird's nest, and she smiled--how often had she caught him lost in mid-action and dreamily staring? So many times. It was not a habit he was inclined to break anytime soon. His eyes were too good--there was always something new to discover as well as all the familiar to take comfort in. This time he grinned at a tiny red speck, the same color as the pen she was using to hack-and-slash a bloody path across every other sentence he'd written. It was a textual massacre.

"There's ink on your nose." He said.

"Oh?" Her eyes crossed, and then she wiped at it with the back of her hand, and then tilted her face up a bit for inspection. "Better?"

"Nope. I think it's stuck there. Forever."

She paused half-way through an expression of minor dismay, thought to ask, "How much ink?"

He tilted his head slightly. "About two pores worth."

She looked at him. "Really, Tseel?"

"What? It's distracting."

"You can get it later. Sit down and eat your rice before it gets cold." She said, laughing and shaking her head a little.

She didn't say where to sit, so he set his bowl in the air and sat with her, squirmed into the space beside and over and under her like a very large canine that thought itself a particularly cunning lapdog.

"...It's a good thing you're cute." She told him, when all the necessary adjustments were made, picking a stray feather from where it'd gotten caught in her curls and tickled maddeningly along the side of her face.

"Tá, Very cute. This is what I've heard some of my students whisper to other students after the lecture's over and they do not think I can see and understand them." He answered, partly in Sidhe, partly in English, partly in two other languages entirely, pressing his face against the back of her neck, and smiling when she swatted his thigh.

"No biting." She warned, a moment later.

"Mmhm." He hummed amicably. He never meant to bite. There was nuzzling, and sometimes lips, and tasting her on his lips, and then tasting her directly, and then there'd be a sudden impulse and teeth. Unless, of course, he did mean to bite. She was sometimes unfair and didn't really bother distinguishing the difference. She argued that teeth were teeth, and teeth often hurt, regardless of how much forethought went into the use of them.

"I mean it, Tseel." She said.

"Mmhm. I hear you, Sivota-me." This time in a dragon's dialect, which was rarely a good sign when it came to keeping his teeth to himself, even he had to admit to that. Better to find something else to think about. Back to time again, and the march of it, and she the lynchpin and measuring rod that kept it all in order.

He wondered, sometimes, what might have been if he'd been able to keep the time. If he could've had this from the beginning and straight on to the end, this thing everyone else took for granted--the certain knowledge that once, he had been a child, and then he had grown, not vice-versa or sometimes not at all, that he'd once learned to play guitar at one Uncail's side and piano at the other, before he did it on a stage in front of a screaming audience, that he'd been a high school student before then, and a teacher long after, and now. And there was something in that too, that he could actually wonder about things, and be safe in the wondering, without having the certain knowledge thrust upon him--or more frightening, risk being flung into it, to live out the answer to the question with no certain path to return upon if his memory failed him. He turned his head a little, rested his face against her back, his hand on her thigh, and his other at her belly, and his wings everywhere.

"Are you happy?" He asked her, as he looked down at his arm; one of his sleeves had ridden up, and he could see a good portion of the inked sleeve beneath. So many different ways to count the passage of time, but they worked best when time actually passed, instead of closing around him, tangling like a net, forcing him down and drowning.

"Tá, Tseel. I am happy." She said, because she was busy, and simple answers were often best, with him; he might ask the same questions again and again when in certain moods, like a faery-born fledgling, as fascinated with the answers that never changed, as the times they did, and the circumstances of why.

"You're not bored?" He asked, nibbling. "I mean, a history professor isn't exciting like a rock star. Or going dingo-hunting."

"I am happy, Tseel." She repeated, as she marked the double negative among the myriad spelling errors that peppered a near-eighty-word run on. Then she noted the length of bare forearm and gently tugged his sleeve back to his wrist, before moving on to the next paragraph. "Don't forget your rice."

And he looked up above his head, "Oh. Right." He reached up and drew the bowl down.


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