Two years ago
“Are you all right, son?” Brandeouf asked as Casidhe entered the kitchen, sparing a moment to look up from his soup.
“Fine,” Casidhe replied. “Some ruffians jumped us outside the tavern, but I took care of it.” His frilly shirt had fared much worse than he himself had.
“I heard.” The reply was flat, even for Brandeouf.
“The guards came,” Casidhe said with his usual contempt for that subject, “of course, but there were twenty witnesses. We didn’t have any problems.”
He doesn’t seem angry, Casidhe thought. But who can tell? This could be going worse, anyway… “Anyway, the fight… it wasn’t easy for me. I was sloppy, out of practice. I know I could have done better.”
“Oh?” Brandeouf sipped at his spoon, eyes on his son, unblinking.
He’s going to make you ask, so you may as well get it over with. “I want to start training with you again, Father. If you’ll have me,” he added quickly.
Brandeouf returned the spoon to his bowl. “This isn’t the first time we’ve been here, son. Why will this time be any different?”
“Because this time, I want to.”
“Maybe you’re just afraid of what might happen the next time you get in a fight.”
“I won’t lie to you; that’s part of it. But I really want to try again.”
Brandeouf’s chair squeaked as he pushed it back from the table. With one last dab of his mustache, he set his napkin down, and moved for a better look at his son. Finally, he said, “You’re serious, aren’t you?” When Casidhe nodded, Brandeouf said, “All right. I’ll meet you in the training room in the morning.”
“No.” Brandeouf cocked an eyebrow at his son’s exclamation. “Not here. Let’s practice at home. In our own house. Tonight.”
“Want to start all over, do you?”
“I do. It was Sim’s idea.”
“It’s a good idea. I’ll see you there.”
- – - – -
The session was better than Casidhe had dared to dream. He absorbed more in three hours than he had in the last six years, and he couldn’t recall ever feeling closer to his father. Something about coming home, quiet and dusty as it was, had made all the difference.
They stopped only when both were too exhausted to go on. Casidhe got up to leave, explaining that he had somewhere else to be.
“Sim?” his father asked.
“Not tonight. It’s about a girl.”
“I see. Is she interested in you? Or in Sim’s money?”
“That’s what I’ve got to find out,” Casidhe replied with a wink. To his surprise, the ghost of a smile appeared on Brandeouf’s face.
“Two things to remember, son. First: a woman with her fingers around your heart is the most dangerous of foes. Second: there’s more pretty girls than one.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, Father. See you in the morning.”
“I look forward to that,” said Brandeouf, saluting his son with his dagger as he left.
- – - – -
Brandeouf was right to be wary of the girl, but Casidhe never had the chance to tell him. The next time he saw his father, Brandeouf was dead.