The meeting with the Arch Monk wasn’t as terrible as he imagined. It was a load of bricks off of Oeric’s back. However, his father reminded him about his son and that weight still clung to him. He decided that he would deal with the tod another day. It was more prudent to go home to rest and think about what he should do. However, as he rounded the corner of his house, Oeric nearly walked into him.
Father and son came to a dead stop. They stared at each other waiting to see who moved first. Oeric wanted to reach for him, but remembered the reaction he elicited in the meditation chamber. Instead, he withdrew, taking a step back. Soletus, remained were he stopped.
“Papa,” his son greeted softly.
A cart crawled passed them, creaking and groaning filling the empty space where word should’ve been. Oeric took that time to take in his son. He indeed lost weight. He was hardly that chubby boy anymore. And he finally dropped the last bit of that round youthfulness in his face. It made his jaw look a lot stronger making him look even older. Oeric feared the young tod would look sickly. Instead, he looked sharp with clear irises. His posture was straight, but tense. However, that had to do with their unexpected meeting. Oeric was glad. That’s what he wanted to see more than anything, that Soletus was well.
When the cart was gone, Oeric spoke first. “I guess you stopped by the house to see your mother.”
“Yeah,” his son answered quick and abrupt.
Oeric recognized that tone. Soletus didn’t want to speak with him. Before he could talk to him any time, now, that ruined trust between them showed. Oeric did the only think he could and stepped around him.
“It’s good to see your doing well. We can talk later if you want,” he offered.
Soletus was still guarded, but he relaxed a little. “Okay,” he answered.
“Good, come whenever you’re ready. I’m not going to be on duty anytime soon, so the house is best. If you don’t, that’s fine too.”
His son bobbed his head.
Oeric didn’t linger after that affirmation. He continued walking. When he arrived home, Onyx wagged her tail at him from where she laid. He got on his knees and beckoned her closer. She padded over to him and nosed his hand to her ears. Oeric massaged the area behind them, contemplating whether his accommodating his son came off as weak. However, Soletus needed space and time.
Cordea came out of the house and swayed her head at him. “Soletus came home and spent more time playing with her than speaking to me.”
Onyx rolled over to her back and he started scratching her stomach. “Jealous? I could scratch your stomach too, you know,” he teased.
Cordea quirked an eyebrow at him.
Oeric concluded, during a gnat infested day, that he wasn’t very loving. She never said anything about it, then again, Cordy wasn’t one of those women who needed honeyed words and constant flattery, but he saw no harm in teasing her a little more.
She got on her knees in front of him and started scratching Onyx as well.
“I’m not sure what to think about the expression you’re wearing right now,” she said.
He brushed way all the shed hairs on Onyx’s stomach. “I wasn’t aware I was expressing anything,” he said.
He often kept his expression as bare as he could. It gave him a sense of control. However, he stopped trying when he was at the swamp. There was no point in straining himself to hide his frustration with men who purposely did things to frustrate him.
“I take it you ran into Soletus,” she asked.
“I told him to talk to you when he saw you.”
“I wish you hadn’t done that,” he said, allowing Onyx to get up and shake off the dust in her fur.
“He needs to.”
“He needs to do it on his own time,” Oeric corrected.
His wife frowned. “So you’re just going to let him simmer in his own bitterness.”
“He needs space to make his own choices, Cordy. If he wants to hates me, fine. I’ve apologized. All I can do now is continue to show him no animosity. Besides that, he wasn’t bitter towards me. Uncertain of where we stood, but not bitter.”
“You’ve not seen the way he is around me. He’s short and snippy. I know it’s a phase, but it isn’t something we should think lightly of.”
“It’s not a phase. He’s getting older and doesn’t want you hovering over him. I know you do it because you care, but you can care from a distance. He’ll come to you when he wants to and it won’t be very often.”
“I know,” she said quietly,
“Do you truly know,” he questioned, searching her face. “Do we even know him? Given how one moment he was a gentle mindful boy and practically the next day he starts questioning us. He starts showing his own opinions. He started wanting to do things his way. And this wasn’t a gradual changed. He opened up very quickly, displaying, no more like sharing his personality.”
“That fledgling independence can come on quick,” she answered. “Marth warned you about it.”
“That warning was directed at me. He wanted me to stop holding Soletus on such a short lead. I, no we, were too afraid that he would be like us, that we never thought he could be something different entirely. And he is.”
Cordea tilted her head at her husband. “You’ve changed.”
“Okay,” he said slowly. He wasn’t sure why she jumped to that statement.
“I’m serious, Oeric, none of this would’ve come from your mouth months ago.”
He didn’t know if her statement meant it was a good thing or a bad thing.
“You’re being thoughtful. I find it delightful,” she said, caressing his face along a long scar going across his left cheek. “But it worries me that you are going to one extreme to the other. I’ll agree he needs space, but you shouldn’t be afraid to be his father.”
He wiped her hand away. “I’m not. I’m doing something my father failed with me and that’s backing off. I don’t even want to worm my way back into his affairs unless he asks. I’m also not putting myself back into that position.”
Cordea’s brow met. “What?”
“I asked for a six month leave and I’m not going to reclaim my master position,” he told her.
She rocked away from him. “Oeric, straight fieldwork means you’ll be out on the road more. We still have a daughter to raise! She needs a father not a glimpse of one.”
“I can’t teach anyone. The rest of the masters aren’t going to trust me to do anything, not even Tyr.”
Cordea then wore a scornful smirk at the mention of Tyr. “Ah yes, Tyr. He came to visit several times. He seemed to be under the impression, as well as Allysianna, that the best thing I could do was throw you out.”
Oeric gave her a wry smile. “I burnt that bridge with a nice hot fire.”
“As a friend and your second, he should be supporting you instead of condemning you.”
“He’s not my second anymore. He’s taking our band. As for friend, again, that’s for him to decide. However, if I’m not worthy enough to be his friend in his eyes, then I rather not be one with someone who thinks like that. Now you,” he said taking her hand and kissing the top of it. “You shouldn’t accept such behavior from me.”
Cordea leaned into him and kissed his forehead. “If I recall, I slapped you and said some nasty things to you.”
“I hurt your son.”
“He’s our son,” she said, kissing his check.
“I lost control. He didn’t need to see that,” he said, wishing the women stop being so understanding.
She kissed him lightly on the lips. “He needed too, so you would be forced to stop hiding from him.”
“But not like that. The fact that being my son isn’t sacred in that state, then what can stop me?”
She then pulled his collar back and attacked that little sensitive spot on his neck with her lips. She then said between nips. “I will.”
Chills roll through his body. She was making it hard to think.
“Then I’ll hurt you,” he managed to say.
She then breathed into his ears. “You know I’m not some weak woman afraid of you and afraid to love her husband. I’ll knock you out if I have to. I’ve done it before.”
She certainly wasn’t afraid to love him. She wasn’t afraid to challenge him. She wasn’t even afraid to display her affection for him publically. She ignored everyone who told her to stay away from him. She could’ve chosen another male. Her parent had plenty of offers to try for a match and she refused to even try. He didn’t intend to marry her, because he felt he wasn’t worthy. Not to mention her two older brothers threatened him with bodily harm if he asked her. For her sake and his, he wanted her to find someone else.
However, she made her choice. He tried to reason with her at the demand of her parents. They were present, encouraging his self-loathing tendencies trying to make him unappealing. Cordea saw through their manipulation and did something completely unexpected. She spat in the face of tradition, and promised herself to him.
Instead of his ego being hurt, he was touched. She even went as far as have engagement pendants made for the both of them. Instead of hurting his ego, it touched him. It was then it finally sunk in his thick skull she loved him. She offered her hand to face life with her and he found himself at a loss for excuses. He said yes, and her family abandoned her save her youngest brother Lynhart. Her two older brothers and parents moved out of town because they couldn’t stand to see her stand by a mistake.
Oeric stared at the house they made their home while she was worked her nibbles up the length of his ears. He didn’t want to stop her, but there was probably a little someone in the house. He let out a long sigh. He pulled away and said,
“I’m sure Saedee is probably getting lonely.”
Cordea leaned forward again and purred into his ear. “I told Fern to take Saedee because I needed to talk to you alone.”
He pushed her away so he could see her face. “Then why are we out here?”
“You’re the one who wanted to play with the dog.”