Work is going very very slowly at the moment. I am infected with lazy.
A snippet, then. Felicta and Jannik discussing House Guyin.
“They are nothing like us.” And they are not our friends, I want to say, but the truth is, they are the closest we’ve come to friendship in this blasted city. “Don’t think you can trust them.”
“Why not?” The question seems innocent, but for all his flaws, Jannik merely plays at being naive. It’s a careful disguise he wears, and he uses it because it saves him from looking too invested, or revealing too much about how he really feels. He’s not stupid.
“Don’t pretend,” I say to to him. “Circumstance isn’t a fertile ground for true intimacy.”
“See, that’s where I think you’re wrong.” He steps closer to me. “I think, if anything, they are the ones who shouldn’t trust us.”
He blinks. “You really don’t know?”
I shake my head. “Humour me, pretend I’m a fool.”
“Don’t make it too easy for me,” Jannik says, but he’s smiling, and I sigh in exasperation. “Because they managed without us. They limped along, shunned and friendless.”
“Don’t make me pity them, that’s not going to work.”
“Of course it is, I know you.” He edges down to the next step, so that we are separated from each other by only silk, and a spider’s thread of air. “And now here we come, still fresh from Pelimburg, still interesting, still untainted, and we extend our hand.”
I hold his gaze. My back aches; the shoulders stiff.
“They have more to lose,” he ends, with a small, lopsided shrug.
“Isidro hates you,” I say after a while.
“Maybe he just hates everyone.”
Jannik eases past me, and takes a few more steps downward, then he looks back up. “We should go.”
Suddenly flustered, I brush my hands down my skirts, feeling sweaty-palmed and ill, although I’ve no idea why. “Yes. I expect Harun will be wondering why we’re taking so long-”
“No, I mean we should go from MallenIve.”
“Back ho- back to Pelimburg? But why – we can’t.”
“This city is sick, and it infects everyone in it. We stay here and we become like them.”
Perhaps I can pretend that I don’t know what he means but I’ve felt it too, the insidious way MallenIve breathes her disease into every living thing here. It’s so potent I can smell it – like scriv; citrus combined with the reek of the Lam heaps growing at her borders. I brush off his distress, and bury my own. “You’re being overly dramatic. Besides, we can’t go back.”
He sighs. “No. I suppose not.”