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"Bet you can't jump that."

She knew she should ignore the challenge; winter was being especially stubborn that season, with an ice storm leaving the town covered in eerie, dangerous splendour. Long icicles hung from roofs, and the pathways were cracked ice. The item to jump was the brick fence surrounding the carpenter's house-shop -- three feet high, and at that moment, encased in ice.

Anyone attempting to jump it would have to be either extremely foolish or incredibly suidical. And Kader did her best to be neither of those.

"Bet you can't." She looked down at Conan. In a year or so the boy would be taller than her, but for now, he was a foot shorter, and finally losing his pudgy baby cheeks and belly. It was hard to see either under the thick jacket and multitude of scarves that Eilís had bundled him into, but Kader thought she could see the edge of his dimples beneath the woolly blue.

She should probably not encourage a five-year-old to do something incredibly dangerous, but then, she never claimed to like children.

"I know I could." Cocky confidence filled Conan's voice, and he put his mittened hands on his hips. "But you can't."

With Kader nearing forty-years-old, the child was no doubt right about that; Kader was never particularly graceful in the first place, and while she could probably perform an excellent surgical extraction of the wall from the ice, jumping it was a different matter entirely. She suppressed a sigh, as that would only goad the child further. How in the world did she let Eilís convince her to take Conan to get milk?

Though truthfully, a better question would be why Eilís trusted Kader to do it.

"Maybe I can't, but guess what? You can't either." Kader bent down closer to Conan's face, which beamed under the fabrics.

"Chicken shit!" He hopped a few steps forward, clearly ignoring his foot slipping for one or two steps. "Chicken shit! Chicken shit!"

"Oh fuck no, that's you. You can barely walk on this ice!"

"No, fuck you!"

A passerby gave Kader a disapproving look. She would have thought that the town would get used to these conversations, but it seemed that swearing with a child was a permanent offense.

"Oh fuck no. You think you're all that because you can hop on ice?" Kader made a few cautious hops, and by some miracle, she didn't slip. "See? I can do better than you, and I'm old."

Conan spun around, planting his hands on his hips once more. He must have learned that from Eilís. How Tegre allowed either of them to spend any more time around the child was another mystery of the family.

"You can't jump that fence." Kader continued hopping, hoping that her usual luck didn't find a smooth patch of ice. "You'll fall."

"I can jump it!" Conan hopped alongside her. A couple walking by them stared in disbelief, and Conan waved at them. "I can jump a fence! She says I can't!"

Kader was fairly certain that the couple quickened their pace at that, and hid a smile behind her gloved hand. Thankfully, they were almost to the general store, which had the decency to not have an ice-encrusted fence.

But Conan had stopped hopping alongside her, right in front of the carpenter's shop.

"Conan--" She turned, but it was far too late.

The boy's feet were slipping and sliding as he dashed toward the fence, his scarves fluttering loose and looking like a stream of banners behind him. One of his hands briefly touched the ground, and somehow he defied the laws of nature and used that to propel him forward. The fence was nearly as tall as him, and would be a challenge to jump in perfect weather. In the ice and cold, he was more likely to smash his head into it.

"Conan!" The ice crunched beneath her boot as she whirled toward the child. She hated children, sure, but she'd hate killing her friends' child more. Her foot slipped as she turned toward him, but somehow she managed to push forward.

Unfortunately, Kader pushed right onto a patch of smooth ice hidden in the shadows of the shop.

She saw Conan making an attempted jump as she plummeted down toward the ice, arms flailing out. Her hands slipped when they hit the ice and she turned her head just in time to miss landing teeth-first. Cheek-first was not less painful, however, and she could only hope the crack in her jaw was nothing permanent.

As a doctor, though, she knew it was likely a bone breaking, and that eating, drinking, and living were going to be misery for the next several months; she bit down on her tongue as she hit the ground. Black dots danced in her vision before the shoes of the hapless couple returned to focus, and tears burned her eyes. Moments later, she heard a distinct thud; that was still better than hearing another crack.

"My god."

She still wasn't used to hearing that instead of "Great Dragon", even five years later. With a grunt, she found cracked ice with her hand and propped her torso up. Her head spun as her vision seemed to crack, but she could still make out Conan tumbling head over heels over the wall. On the plus side, hitting the wall stomach-first had taken most of his momentum with him. On the down side, he was still going to hit the ground neck or head-first.

"What are you doing? Why would you encourage him to do that?" The passerby's boots were in front of her face, but their owner offered no help in getting up from the ice.

Conan was not crying; that could not be a good sign. Kader tried to grit her teeth, but the pain in her jaw nearly made her black out; she would have to get to her feet more delicately than with a shove, and she doubted the passerby planned to help her in any way.

"I cannot believe the nerve of you, allowing your child to do something so dangerous. He could have been killed."

"I find it interesting, then, that you aren't walking over to help him." Kader hissed out the words, wincing as her jaw screamed at her. "Or that you didn't try to stop him, like I did."

"Who are you to lecture me?"

"Who are you?" With a final push, Kader got onto her knees; blood glistened on the newly-cracked ice, and dripped down steadily. She reached up her hand to her mouth, and felt the blood through her gloves. She looked up at the woman to find someone younger than her, her arms crossed and a brutal glare on her face.

"Someone with a bit of sense--"

"Don't give me that shit. If you had sense, you would have intervened, or you would be going check on the kid, or helping me to get up to check on him." Thankfully, her dizziness was fading fast; she hoped in a moment more she could stand.


She never thought she would be happy to a kid's voice, but Conan's sounded strong and healthy -- nothing like hers, at that moment. Turning, she saw Conan sliding over, past the woman's companion, who watched with wide eyes and raised eyebrows. There was blood matting Conan's hair, but he didn't seem to notice.

"I told you I could scale it! Chicken shit! You couldn't even walk!"

Kader wished she could paint the woman's stunned face and keep it forever. Conan ignored her entirely as he slid onto his knees next to Kader, tugging at her pants. His eyes were bright and focused, his grip strong, and while it was difficult to tell with the ice, his steps had looked steady and coordinated. The bleeding was likely a cut, then; no concussion or other injury. Children were lucky bastards.

"Yeah, you got me." Kader smiled crookedly, though Conan didn't seem to notice. "But now we have to go home instead of get milk. See what happens when you make bets?"

"I'll tell mommy it's your fault! And I'll tell her you're a chicken shit!" Conan then looked right up at the other woman, pointing at Kader with a huge grin on his face. "She's a chicken shit!"

And Kader could not help but laugh when the woman did nothing but slowly back away from them, then walk away.


"You're right. It looks like it's just a cut." Eilís held Conan tighter when he struggled, pressing the wet towel into his head. "You will hold still until this stops bleeding, mister."

"He got fucking lucky. I thought he was going to hit his head." Talking had become far more difficult since the fall; Kader's jaw was swelling and gaining new and more impressive colours. Somehow, however, Tegre and Eilís seemed to understand her.

"Unlike you?" Eilís smiled. "Though I suppose you got lucky as well. A broken jaw is a small injury from that kind of fall."

"Probably the only bit of luck in my whole life."

"And you're sure you don't know who the woman was?" Tegre, as always, was soft-spoken, but Kader could hear the edge in his voice. "There aren't that many young couples here. It's an older town."

"Tegre, please. We're already the black sheep of Pineshill." Eilís jerked Conan back toward her, glaring. "Conan. Be still."

"Sorry, mommy." The words came out muffled from Eilís's dress.

"Besides, yelling at someone for encouraging a child to jump an icy wall is fair. I'd be tempted to do the same thing." Eilís smiled at Kader. "Not that I wouldn't be tempted to do the same as you."

"Honestly? I thought he wouldn't go for it. He usually doesn't."

"He didn't when he was younger. He's old enough to do dangerous stupid things, not just stupid ones."

"Mommy!" Conan pushed back and glared at Eilís, pouting.

Eilís glared back. "It's true. Running and jumping on ice is stupid. See what happened to Kader? You're lucky that didn't happen to you."

"I'm better than her." Conan tried to puff himself up.

"No, you aren't. You didn't get this cut on your head magically. It's because you were stupid. Kader got hurt trying to stop you." Eilís pulled the towel back, examining her child's head. "Now, I would prefer you not try to jump any fence, but if you will, do not do so when it's icy. Understood?"

Just a quick, rusty story after a loooong time of not writing. I love Kader, and her interactions with Conan are fun. She, like me, doesn't like kids, but unlike me, her reaction to him is to be her typical self, swearing and all. Sometimes, this gets her and Conan into trouble.

This story presents such a different Kader from usual, damn -- one who has lived with people who love her for a few years, and one who has had a meaningful job and life for what might be the first time. Doesn't stop her from being a swearing grumpy lady, though. She'll be that until the day she dies, and if there is an afterlife, probably afterward, too.

Will try to finish this and tidy it up later.



breezeshadow: It's a wolverine, hey! (Default)

August 2016

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