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Breakfast on the Balcony

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Alex found them on the balcony to their bedroom, eating breakfast. Uncle Ardeth stirred his plain porridge with a dubious expression on his tattooed face. Uncle Jon laughed at him and reached across the small, glass-topped table to spoon some honey over the porridge, adding a dash of some spice they'd brought with them from Ardeth's clan. Looking happier, the Medjai stirred his porridge again and began to eat.

Jonathan sat back and took a sip of the strong, dark coffee he and Uncle Ardeth brewed themselves. He'd already finished eating: the kitchen staff always made his porridge exactly how he liked. Ardeth's was always plain. Alex suspected that he liked having the Englishman doctor it for him.

"So, old chap, what would you like to do today?" Uncle John broke the silence, the morning breeze tugging playfully at his dark brown hair and white linen suit.

"You know I don't care what we do," the Medjai replied, his accent making his words sound musical to Alex's ears. The breeze tugged at his loose, shoulder-length black hair and black desert robes.

Grinning, Jonathan leaned forward and wagged a finger at Uncle Ardeth as he set down his cup. "And you know that I know that that's complete rot."

"We are guests in your sister's home," Ardeth explained in his low voice, dark eyes sweeping over the Englishman's lean form appreciatively. "Much as I would like to keep you in bed all day, she would not be happy with me."

Uncle Jon grinned and winked at that, sitting back in his chair once again. "You'll get your chance to keep me in bed all day, I promise."

"I'll hold you to that, but now--" a sudden flick of Uncle Ardeth's wrist left a throwing knife embedded several centimeters in the wood of the eaves just below Alex's hiding spot "--we must deal with a spy."

After a moment of surprised staring, Jonathan laughed at his nephew. "Good morning, Alex."

"Hi, Uncle Jon, Uncle Ardeth." After a bit of scrambling, he dropped down from the roof, landing lightly on the balls of his feet, just like Ardeth had taught him so he wouldn't make a sound. Approaching the table, he returned the Medjai's knife to him before hugging him.

Uncle Ardeth hesitated for a moment before returning the hug. "Good morning, young one."

"What were you doing up there?" Uncle Jon asked as Alex moved around the table to hug him. There was no hesitation in the return of this hug, but Jonathan had been Alex's uncle for all his life while Ardeth had only been his uncle for a couple years.

Shrugging, Alex picked up his uncle's bowl, pleased to find it still half-full of porridge, and began to eat. "Just practicing my sneaking. You never know when it might come in handy."

"You did well this time," the Medjai told him between bites of his own porridge. "Jonathan didn't suspect you were there, but I detected you almost as soon as you reached us."

Uncle Jon looked offended, frowning at his husband. "I did sense that we were being watched, just not who was doing the watching or from where."

"Should I keep practicing, then?" Alex looked curiously from one uncle to the other, setting the emptied bowl on the table.

Uncle Ardeth nodded, pushing the third cup on the table towards them. "Yes, you continue to make progress."

"Just remember, this is our secret," Jonathan added, taking the cup and offering it to Alex.

The boy stifled a sigh when he saw that it held tea instead of coffee as he'd hoped. At least there's no milk at all. That's definitely progress. Taking a sip, he asked, "So what're we going to do today?"