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blood of an idiot's covenant

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“Fuck,” Beau says, fumbling around deep in her bag. Blood drips from her shoulder into the alley dirt. It's not... that much blood. Molly bleeds more than that every single fight. Probably. “We should've brought Jester, why didn't we bring Jester?”

“Because Caleb goes down if you look at him funny,” Molly says, “and Fjord got his arm half ripped off already today, that's why. Oh, for gods' sake, let me do that.” He grabs the medicine kit out of her hands. “Aren't you supposed to be able to dodge?”

“I can dodge,” she says, “I can't dodge in three fuckin' directions at once.”

There were five people shooting at her; she was out in the middle of the street, with Molly slow off the mark and still under cover in the alley. She caught one of the arrows; did manage to duck out of the way of another; and blood is still dripping down Molly's neck from the maladict he threw at the third. That leaves two arrowheads she took, one embedded in her shoulder and the other in her ribs, and Molly's almost untouched. Blood is seeping down her side, he can see now, soaking into the folds of her sash.

“Should that be bleeding as much as it is?” he asks.

“Probably not,” she says, gritting her teeth. They both look at the healer's kit in Molly's hands.

“Get that sash out of the way and sit,” he says, pulling bandages out. “You can't do this for yourself, it'll just be a mess.”

“All right, all right,” she says, and unfastens her sash. The arrow's in deep; he can't even see the head, only the shaft. “Are you sure you can get it out safely?” she asks, as he kneels next to her.

“Pretty sure. But it's going to hurt,” he says, and, before she can do anything else, he grabs hold of the arrow and yanks. She yowls; but there's no tearing, no spurt of blood. It's fine. He presses the wad of cloth against her ribs and starts on the bandages.

“We should've brought Nott, too,” Beau mutters. “She could be like hey, we found the sentries, you can reply to this message, and then I wouldn't be bleeding over here for fucking nothing.”

“Not nothing,” Molly says. He has to reach over and around her to get the bandages around her ribs; he suspects it's a deeply uncomfortable experience for both of them. (Emotionally speaking. It's probably more physically uncomfortable for Beau.) “Now they can't flank the others.”

“Yeah, there's that,” she says, a little suspiciously. “There's that. We still should've brought Nott.”

“She wouldn't have left Caleb with Fjord,” Molly says absently, tucking the bandages under each other. He's suddenly and profoundly grateful that Beau is relatively flat-chested, or this would be truly awkward. But the bandages should hold through the worst of her acrobatics –

“Hold on, what?” Beau says. “She has a problem with Fjord now?”

Ah shit. “It's a long story,” Molly says. “I'll tell you later.”

“C'mon,” she says, whining a little. “What do you think I'm going to do, gossip?”

“Maybe,” he says. “I gossip like a motherfucker.”

“You really don't, though,” she says. It's unfortunately true. Molly's not in the habit of telling other people's secrets.

“It's bad luck to talk about bad news over a sickbed.” The words leave his mouth in a cadence not quite his own, and he shakes his head a little. Where did he hear that? He doesn't remember ever hearing that.

“It's not a sickbed,” Beau says. “I'm fine.”

“Still,” he says, as airily as he can manage, and before she can tense up again, he grabs the other arrow. She only hisses as this one comes free, with far less resistance than the last, and Molly squashes the flicker of inconvenient guilt. “This'll be easier to bandage,” he says. “Some. Not much, but some.”

“Where'd you learn how to do this?” she asks.

There's any number of stories Molly could tell. Some of them are even plausible. “We didn't exactly have a cleric at the circus,” he says instead. “Everyone tried to do a little bit of everything, and I turned out to have a decent eye for patching people up. And steady hands.” It's not exactly the whole truth; he doesn't remember ever learning the basics that he knows, and fragments float into his head at times: what a cut tendon does to the body and where the worst ones to cut are, the vulnerable shapes of the arteries in humans versus halfings versus elves. Not things he picked up tending to the circus's twisted ankles and cracked heads and winter colds. But it's as much of the truth as he knows, and it's not like he's above lying to someone with their blood on his hands, but... he wasn't far from one of the archers. If he'd been a little faster, she might not be hurt now.

“I learned at the Reserve,” Beau says, staring past him at the end of the alley. “They made us patch ourselves up after training. Said everything's a lesson.”

“You could've learned a little more about dodging,” he says. He doesn't have salve, but Beau's tough, and they've been lucky with infection so far.

“Could you maybe stop busting my balls about this?” she snaps. “I did my friggin' best, okay. There were a lot of them.”

“That's fair,” he admits, ducking his head. He misses Yasha, sudden and sharp. Yasha knows what he means with this shit. Don't do anything stupid and get yourself killed, he said to her once, when he still had to plan out his sentences word by meticulous word before he could get them out of his mouth; he assembled the sentence with his forehead pressed against her shoulder, and Yasha ruffled his hair and knew what he meant.

“I can't secure this without it going between your tits,” he says, instead of anything else. “I'm sorry.”

“It's fine, we've seen each other naked,” she says, moving her uninjured arm. “Just don't try and cop a feel.”

“No fear,” he says darkly. “You're not my type.”

“What is your type?” she asks, as he loops the bandages around her shoulders. “Come on, distract me from how much this hurts.”

“Interested, for one thing,” he says. “Do you like men at all?” Man isn't... entirely accurate, in his case, but woman most certainly isn't, and he has no interest in explaining the matter to her anyway.

“Eh?” she says. “I mean, I can tell Fjord's good-looking, but I wouldn't want to, you know.” She clicks her tongue meaningfully.

“Your loss,” Molly says.

“What, do you know?”

“Not personally,” he says. “Yet.” That gets a laugh out of her; she groans.

“Oh, that hurts, shut up.”

“I've never shut up in my life,” Molly says, tying off the bandages. The truth is, he wouldn't kick Fjord out of bed but he doesn't have any designs either; it's dangerous, falling into bed with people when you're traveling together. Look at Orna and Gustav.

“Not surprising,” Beau says, pulling back from him. She shoves a loose strand of hair behind her ears; she's trying to hide the stiffness in her movement, but she's not very good at it. “So, now what?”

“Well, we found the sentries,” Molly says. And there's a faint green undertone to her skin, one he doesn't like at all. “I say we loop back, find the others.”

“Are you coddling me, Mollymauk?” she asks, glaring at him. It's not a great glare. Yasha does better.

“I've never coddled anyone in my life,” Molly lies. “Come on, now. I don't want to have to carry you.”

“You wouldn't have to carry me,” Beau says, pulling herself up on the alley wall. Yeah, he's thinking they loop back to Jester. “You could just leave me.”

“You're an idiot,” Molly says, and falls in next to her. He takes her left. It'll mean anything that jumps him will get him on his off side, but, well. Leave it to Beau to get shot in the inconvenient shoulder. “Let's get you home.”