Eiry was finally somewhat happy with her apartment. The paint job had changed a lot of things, and she felt much more comfortable now. Plus, spending so much time with Miara seemed to have rubbed off, she reflected, sitting in the new window seat she'd made for the living room. It wasn't really a proper one, but it acted in the same capacity, a kind of raised platform with sides to sit against. She moved the blankets and pillows that made up the couch as needed, and had moved the TV to the other side of the room.
The bathroom door opened, and Edar came into the room, running a hand through his wet hair.
"Very much, thank you," he said, bowing.
"You don't need to do that here."
"But Miara said..."
"I don't care what Miara said." She smiled. "I'm away from my home pack, too. So we're kind of similar."
"What about that place? You gave it instead of here as a safe place."
"Because it's full of people who can protect you, if necessary."
"Bits and pieces. No one knows everything, but if you say you are Lupa, they'll protect you."
"About Miara...She didn't leave because of me, did she?"
"No, not really. She should have gone back Home a while ago."
"Home? What was she waiting for?"
"She has her own reasons."
He nodded. "So why did you stop hunting with them?"
"Because I have someplace else to hunt now. It really is best if you don't ask too many questions. There are a lot of things with me and that house that don't need to be known. And honestly, I only stumbled into it by accident myself."
"Ah. You keep their secrets, as well."
"Then I understand. How long have you lived here in the city?"
"And you haven't gone stir-crazy?"
"It was hard at first. But Tally was here and he helped me. I'm used to it now."
"What happened to Tally? Did he go back?"
"I'm sorry. Was he your mate?"
"Elie aan, I'm so sorry."
"It's alright. So what brings you here? Business with the Office?"
"Yeah. Plus I heard about you, and what you're doing. It gave me hope."
"You must have been so nervous."
"Yes, but if you could come all this way, then I could make it across the island, right?"
Eiry just looked at him for a minute, speechless.
"You heard of me?"
"There have been rumors for months now that there was one of us in Tokyo. I have cousins in the pack you were running with, and asked. I've always wished I could go places. Not because I wanted to be somewhere else so badly, but because we couldn't. But I never had the courage to do it."
"And how was it, now that you're here?"
"It would have been more pleasant if I hadn't been so nervous."
"It takes a while to get past that, but it's worth it when you do."
"Does it ever completely go away?"
"No. At last, not yet. But courage is more valuable than the complete absence of fear."
He nodded, and looked around. "You're sure we're safe here?"
"I've lived here this long. Not that I change much, but you can if you want."
"Um...I think I'll wait on that."
"Do you want anything?"
"I'm a little hungry."
"Too nervous to eat on the way?"
Eiry got up and went into the kitchen to see what was there.
"Rice, instant noodles, peanut butter and jelly. Some leftover meat?"
"I've never had peanut butter and jelly."
When they were sitting at the small table, they began conversing again.
"So what does your pack do?"
"We run a ryokan," he said. "It's not far from Morioka, which is on the northern part of Honshu."
"Mine runs an inn in Vermont, which is in the northeast of the US, commonly called New England. I did miscellaneous jobs there, but Sali-naimthli-runs the kitchen. She's mated to Jake, Leader's son, and our father is Speaker."
"I do the odd jobs, as well, and structural repairs. My sister is Touched, but she's still in high school." There was a slamming door downstairs, and Edar jumped. "What was that?"
"Yumiko's still around, probably cleaning up by now."
"Yumiko is an employee?"
"Yes, she was yati to Tally, and I gave her his position. I open, she closes."
"So you're trying to get to the Office?"
"Yes, I have business with them on behalf of the pack."
"Then you're in luck. My brother's new mate if from there. And Thanksgiving is Thursday, so I'll be going home."
"Really? That is most fortunate."
"You can come home with me, and stay as long as you need. Tiena will want to look after you, I think, she's very nice."
He laughed. "So blue-green can look after gold."
She smiled back, they were talking about lighter things when Eiry suddenly disappeared, a startled look on her face. Miara identified herself and shoved an explanation into his head, and then he was alone in the apartment. He looked around, not quite sure what to do. Almost everything here was neat and organized, no doubt from the painting project-the fumes of it were quite fresh. With little else to do, he cleaned up the few dishes they'd used. It only took a little looking around to find where things went. Once again, he suddenly wondered if he was doing the right thing. So many of his own kind would condemn his interest in being able to live among Terrans. Or at least be able to come and go as he pleased. But how safe was it? He's only been on one trip so far, was that enough to tell? But Eiry and Miara seemed to go about as they pleased, and had yet to come to harm.
He walked around the small apartment, trying not to think of the feeling of the walls closing in on him. It had gotten a bit better when Eiry had left, though she'd been sure to give him plenty of room. He could imagine her going to that house quite often, as small as it was here. There may be three rooms and a bath, but so many walls made them tiny. It wasn't really much bigger than any of their guest rooms, all told. And when you were surrounded by as many people as lived in Tokyo, could sense their presence pressing in on you...he was breathing deeply now, and forced himself to think about the tall oak tree he sat under at home, the leaves falling lazily down.
Eiry had put his suit case in the bedroom to keep it out of the way, and he went in and opened it on the bed. On top was the folder with all the important documents in it. He pulled it out, sitting down to go through some of it again. He wondered if he should tell Eiry what he needed the Office for, or of his other aspirations. Especially if it ended up meaning he would move to Tokyo. Because if they were the only two Lupa in Tokyo, they'd surely be spending time together. He wondered where she hunted. Surely, not in the city! But first things first. He was about to go half way around the world...and he didn't even know how, other than it wasn't on an airplane.
Eventually he thought himself to sleep, right there next to his suit case.