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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Aye, and that son of theirs is a chip off the old block,” someone else replied sagely.
Aiden was only just within earshot of these comments, but found their comments
tasteless and invasive. He wasn't about to take sides in this fight, though, so he kept his
mouth shut.
They‟d already had a shot at sorting out their feelings, years ago. The local priest had
been unable to provide any sort of resolution when asked to intercede, even after months
of trying, and so the wounds festered. This confrontation had been a long time coming,
but Pacian had stood up to his old man this time, at least, and that was something akin to
progress for him.
Nellise and Pacian were talking together in quiet whispers at the edge of the
torchlight, and as usual, Aiden didn't feel the need to eavesdrop, so he decided to head
over to the inn and drown his sorrows, and speak with his friend about this eventful
evening later. Despite the distance between them at the moment, Aiden had no doubt
Nellise was more than capable of taking care of Pacian, and might even be able to help
his father out a little as well.
The Sleeping Bear was the creatively titled inn that mostly catered to merchants a nd
the occasional travellers who passed through Coldstream, but the roads had been
practically deserted of late, leaving most of the rooms vacant. The fire in the hearth
burned brightly though and the food was good, which proved to be of some small comfort
to Aiden, as he headed inside to settle in for the evening.
He was still coming to terms with the two life-changing events that had just
occurred, and found himself gazing into the fire for some time while sitting in one of the
comfortable, overstuffed chairs. The innkeeper, Alan Wright, a family friend from way
back recognised him, but Aiden wasn't really in the mood to catch up with an old
acquaintance, so he kept the chatter to a minimum. Despite being pleased to see him
again, Alan didn't press the issue, clearly sensing the young man's need to sit, eat, and do
as little as possible.
Perhaps an hour later, after Aiden had eaten half a roast chicken that had tasted like
ashes, Pacian slumped down in the chair next to him. The two friends exchanged a tired
glance, saying nothing, for they didn't need to speak to convey what they were feeling at
that moment. They were both emotionally exhausted, and needed nothing more than quiet
company for the evening. Nellise joined them at the fireplace a little while later, sitting
next to Pacian in silence, while Sayana came over to sit on Aiden's lap, something that
managed to distract him from his troubles quite effectively.
“I see that you two have become quite friendly,” Nellise remarked softly, a faint
smile on her lips.
“Yes, it came as something of a surprise to me,” Aiden replied dryly. “And not at all
unpleasant, either.”
“Why is everyone acting so strangely tonight?” Sayana asked without warning,
causing a number of exchanged glances to be passed around.
“Sy has many fine qualities,” Aiden dead-panned a long moment later, “but I think
it's her non-sequiturs that I find really attractive.”
“It would seem that both of these young gentlemen have some serious family
issues,” Nellise said in reply to Sayana's question, smiling briefly at Aiden's cunning