Séraphin's Last Stand

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Things shouldn't feel so ordinary after a day of murder and thievery. Yet Séraphin sat at the bar of a local pub in Croixerr, the only town on the island of Ariyon's Rest, nursing a drink and trying to celebrate the mission's success. His attention kept wandering across the crowded pub to a pair of young sailors in a booth vigorously kissing each other. They were oblivious to everyone around them, no one paid them much mind either. Not the brightly dressed barmaids weaving their way through the tables with overfilled trays perfectly balanced on scarf covered heads. Not the grizzled old sailors arguing loudly at a table near the middle of the space, not the smartly dressed merchants huddled around a map. No one but Séraphin seemed to notice.

Don't stare.

Séraphin ducked his head, jaw flexing. Don't stare you idiot.

A warm thigh bumped his, jolting him into glancing over at the man seated next to him at the bar. Bright blue-green eyes crinkled at the edges as Tristen grinned at him.

"We're here to drink, Commander. Not brood. Unless you don't find the ale to your liking."

"S'fine." Séraphin managed.

He tightened aching fingers around his mug. He never should have agreed to the whining about needing some alcohol after the mission. He'd have much rather been at the safe-house alone and drinking in peace. But no, Tristen always got his way. They were days from the safety of Galey and every stop, every person they met, was a potential threat, especially now that their targets were dead.

It was his responsibility to get them home safely. Thankfully the mission had gone smoothly and according to plan. If there was one thing you could count on, it was the stupidity of people who always underestimated those around them. Now the 'Sugar Baron' was feeding the sharks along with the pirate captains who'd been hiding on his plantation. The crews were scattered and disorganized and no longer as big a threat. Without the Sugar Baron's influence the native islanders could reassert their independence from the pirates. It wasn't the objective of the mission but that didn't mean he couldn't hope for that to be the case.

Having a pirate haven so close to the main shipping lanes just begged for trouble and Galey had to protect its interests. Ariyon's Rest might not be Galien territory but no one would ever know it was Galey who'd taken down the Sugar Baron. Séraphin had been too careful about whispering in the right ears and placing the right evidence to ensure the pirates turned on each other.

The only blood he'd personally spilled had been when he'd slit the Baron's throat. Too bad they'd been forced to burn the ships. There had been a couple of very nice vessels at the Baron's private docks.

"Alright. You just look out of sorts." As always Tristen was annoyingly perceptive to changes in his mood where other people couldn't even read his expressions. Séraphin shifted his hips away from Tristen and away from the warmth he couldn't admit to craving.

His gaze was drawn back to the two men. They had their foreheads together and were grinning. One of them said something and the other nodded. Then they were leaving, arms around each other's waists.

"Are you unhappy with the way the mission went?" Tristen continued.

"No. No, everyone did exactly as they were supposed to. General Desrochés will be pleased." Séraphin said and then forced himself to take a swig of the bitter drink. The chatter around them grated on his nerves, too many things to try and focus on, determine where the threat might come from.

"So why do you look like someone stuck a hot poker up your ass?" Tristen smirked down at him.

Heat flared through Séraphin's middle and raced across his cheeks. He lowered his head staring down at the mug. Because I want—He stopped the thought. No. Forget it.

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