"Darvinin?" The door squeaked slightly as it opened behind him. "I came to apol--"
Mistra cut off suddenly as Darvinin drew his shirt on and adjusted the laces for the collar, and he knew she'd seen the mass of scar tissue that covered his back. He heard her draw a deep breath, and then she said: "I had no idea..."
He nodded, finding his jacket and pulling it on without turning to look at her. "Our countrymen didn't mean for me to survive. They intended to let the Duke of Janbridge, or his agents, find out what I knew and then silence me, while they went on to carry out their mission. If Ruin and the others hadn't stumbled across me, I'd be dead now. Like Tiatha."
There was a long moment of silence as he finished buttoning up his jacket.
"How she die?" asked Mistra quietly.
"We'd come into a camp full of uniformed elves," Darvinin replied. "An army camp, where no army should be. When they figured out that we weren't part of their troops, they took us to the command tent. They spent some time convincing us that they were part of the Army, and then they put a sword through Tiatha's back and took me prisoner." He paused, then added. "I'm sorry. I know she was your friend."
"She was your friend, too," Mistra pointed out.
Darvinin felt his jaw clench as he remembered the shock of it: the horror and shock and sense of loss as Tiatha fell. He hadn't wanted to be reminded of this; hadn't wanted to remember that she'd been important. "Yes. I know."
Mistra fell silent again, but Darvinin still couldn't bring himself to turn around. "I'm sorry," he said at last. "I know it hurt you that I didn't come and find you when I finally returned. I know it hurt you more that I didn't even send word. I didn't dare. After Tiatha... I didn't want you involved in this. I didn't want you to know about it. It's all horrible, and everybody who gets caught up in it gets hurt or killed, and not letting you know -- not showing any interest in you -- was the only way I could think to protect you, at least until I could find out what was going on."
"I know," Mistra said. "I see it. I shouldn't have been angry."
Darvinin shrugged. "Yes, you should. I treated you badly. And then when you did show up, I still didn't think to explain. That's what yesterday morning was about, wasn't it?"
"...Yes." Mistra's voice quivered.
Darvinin made a noise that was halfway between a sigh and a chuckle. "I thought the Provost had gotten to you," he said. "For a moment there, I really thought you were going to kill me."
"No." Mistra sounded pained. "Maim you a bit, maybe. I'm sorry I did that."
"I'm not sure I am," said Darvinin. "I think maybe you needed to. And I think maybe I needed the shock."
"So are we..." Mistra hesitated. "Are we... back?"
Darvinin turned around, finally meeting her eyes. "I don't know," he said. "That's a lot to come back from. And I don't know how much of me is left." He offered a faint grin. "I used to worry about Ruin," he said. "He was always so angry, so bitterly sure that the humans would do us wrong. Now I feel like he was the only one who really saw the way things were, and rage is the only sensible response."
"I'd like to meet your brother someday," Mistra said quietly. "I'd like to have us back."
Darvinin nodded. "I would too. Maybe... maybe we just take it easy, and see how it goes?"
"That would probably be the smart thing to do," Mistra admitted.
They stood there, looking at each other across the length of Darvinin's small bedroom. There were soft noises in the common area behind them -- utensils clinking on plates, and bits of conversation from the others. The light of the single candle on the bedstand left much of the room in shadow.
"Or," said Mistra, "we could jump back into bed together right now, and you could make your apologies in the form of orgasms."
"That's a really bad idea," said Darvinin, slowly.
"But you're going to do it anyway," said Mistra, "Because now I've said it, and you're not going to be able to stop thinking about it."
"Well..." Darvinin shook his head. "Yes. I mean, I do owe you several apologies."
Mistra gave him a look, and swung the door shut behind her. "Then you'd better get started, hadn't you?"