Friday, May 17, 2002
Amel and Exercise

A scrap of a scene that occurred to me as I was driving to work today.

   Amel let himself down stiffly on the couch and laid his head back.

   Mira pushed aside her screen. "Training?" she guessed, conversationally.

   Amel closed his eyes. "I know Tatt means well." He rallied then, and sat up with a wince. "But the last two weeks confirm my original take on getting trained. All it amounts to is letting my friends beat me up regularly in the vain hope I'll embarrass them less dramatically when I screw up for real." His ill humor tipped into a successfully resisted urge to weep. "Why am I so utterly hopeless at this, Mira? I can read body language. Half the time, it's not even that I can't see what's coming. And when I'm dancing I don't lose my nerve, even with a novice who might hit me by mistake. But when I'm training--" He gestured abortively. "--when I ought to be responding I'm too busy anticipating getting hit." He signed again, dejectedly. "I flinch."

   Amel blinked a few times, rapidly, scowling at himself for how close to the surface his emotions were. He lowered his head and pushed a splayed hand through his feathery black hair, but stopped halfway through the gesture in a way that betrayed his hand was tender, and muttered apologetically, "Have you got something for aches and pains that works on highborn physiology?"

Mira's eyes glinted. "Well, actually, I do. Would it be any consolation to you if I told you you weren't my first customer today?"

"Not ... Ditatt?" Amel said, dubiously. He doubted he'd landed anything that hard.

"No, heir Gelion. Leige Nersal, it seems, is of like mind to Prince Ditatt."

Amel looked blank a moment, then he laughed. And winced, regretting that. But he said, "Yes, actually." And smiled at her. "That is consoling, in fact." Suddenly he looked worried again. "Liege Nersal would never want to honor me like that?" He thought about it, biting a lip, then relaxed. "No, he doesn't think I'm worth it. Oh, Gods," he had another thought. "You don't think Ditatt's going to give Vretla ideas?" He considered that possibility with nearly equal dread a moment. "At least there's some hope of distracting Vretla. Failing that, maybe I can convince her that Erien is more likely to benefit from her tutelage."

"Amel ... " Mira chided, "that's mean."

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