Side A – Nia
Nia stretched and yawned, as the rays of a fresh sunrise bounced harmlessly off her back and failed to wake her from the dream which pulled her into its warm embrace.
“I think people usually mean something else when they say they talk in their sleep,” Yasgrid said, grilling an imaginary fish over the dreaming campfire which lay between them.
“Probably,” Nia agreed. “But those people probably haven’t been sharing a headspace with someone else for a month now.”
“True, but that does make me wonder if we’re the only ones this has ever happened to?” Yasgrid asked.
“Maybe not. It’s been shockingly easy to get people to believe I’m you, and you don’t seem to be having any trouble with the reverse right?” Nia asked.
“Kayelle still doesn’t seem to suspect,” Yasgrid said. “Marianne knows though. I think she figured it out on some level before I told her. Wait, I did mention to you that I filled Marianne in on everything right?”
“Yeah, though it’s nice to know she figured it out on her own first,” Nia said. “I guess she did notice me when we were together. At least enough to pick up when I wasn’t acting like I usually did. Or, wait, maybe that’s more embarrassing.”
“How so?” Yasgrid asked, looking deeply amused at Nia’s mild fluster.
“So, she and I know each other for months, right? We even kinda dated. Then she meets me again, only now I’m not just cooler because I’m the Bearer of Endings, I’m calm, confident, and awesome in every way, and her reaction is to go ‘yeah, that unbelievably amazing girl right there? She’s definitely not Nia’. I mean, it was true obviously, and I can’t fault her, but still, ouch.”
Nia feigned wilting away as her own words defeated her.
“I don’t know who you think met her, but allow me to assure you it wasn’t calm, confidence, or awesomeness that gave me away as not being you,” Yasgrid said. “I think I just had a different perspective on your relationship with her, and we started off on a different foot as a result.”
“Whatever magic you worked, I’m glad it turned out ok,” Nia said. “Marianne is a brilliant woman. I think having her support may make all the difference in the world.”
“On that we can definitely agree,” Yasgrid said. “Plus it’s nice to just have her as a friend. Kayelle’s in on the whole ‘quest with Endings’ thing, and she’s been a lot better with me than she used to be with you, but it’s still not the same.”
“Yeah. My sister is very competitive, even when you’re on her good side,” Nia said. “Speaking of friends, I keep wondering if I should tell Bel the full story? She’s different from Marianne, so I don’t know if it’ll occur to her to ask directly like Marianne did, but she still probably deserves to know the truth, doesn’t she?”
Side B – Yasgrid
“I don’t think you’re lying to her any more,” Yasgrid said. “Maybe that first day, when I asked you to pretend to be me, and maybe right after when I suggested you let people believe what they were going to believe by default, but after you sat down and talked to her? After you let her know that your history with her began only about a month ago? I think since then all the time you’ve spent with her has been honest and true. If she thinks of you as a friend, it’s because she’s thinking of you, not me anymore.”
“I’ll take exception to the claim that you asked me to pretend to be you,” Nia said. “As I recall, that was my bad idea. For the rest though, I guess you’re right. I could tell Bel everything but none of it really affects her. If she ever does ask though, or if it ever would affect her, I’m not going to deny it. And I will tell her everything if that’s what she wants to know.”
“That seems fair,” Yasgrid said. “What about Margrada?”
“That’s….” Nia stammered. “That’s something I should really do sooner than later.”
“How are things going with her?” Yasgrid asked, her eyes crinkling in delighted curiosity.
“Umm, good,” Nia said. “We haven’t gotten to see each other much for a few days now. Really since the tryouts I guess, but she sat next to me at the practice session today.”
“That’s kind of taking it slow isn’t it?” Yasgrid asked, letting her surprise show, even though Nia could doubtlessly feel it through their bond.
“It is,” Nia said. “Part of it is all the extra training I’ve needed, and I think part of it is just being a bit nervous.”
“Who’s nervous?” Yasgrid asked.
“Well, me, obviously, but maybe she is too?” Nia said. “It’s kind of a big jump to go from punching someone in the face to kissing them.”
“Not for some people,” Yasgrid said. “Ask my Mom how she and my father got together.”
“Yick, I don’t think I want to know,” Nia said. “Oh, and sorry about punching him out like that.”
“Sorry? Why?” Yasgrid said. “He deserved it, the smarmy jerk. I’m surprised my Mom didn’t throw you a parade when they let her out jail there.”
“She, uh, I think she had other things on her mind,” Nia said.
“New boyfriend? Girlfriend? Both?” Yasgrid asked and then laughed at Nia’s surprise. “What? She’s been one of the most popular Shatter drummers for years, or decades, now. And she is not shy. Ever. I never had a ‘Dad’, not really, but I had so so so many ‘Aunts’ and ‘Uncles’ growing up. She’s even still friendly with most of them.”
It was Nia’s turn to laugh.
“Maybe my mother should have done the same,” she said. “She’s popular too, though not at all in the same sense. Still I bet she could have had her pick of suitors if she’d ever wanted to be with someone else.”
“Maybe I’ll suggest that next time we meet,” Yasgrid said, with a contemplative glimmer in her eyes.
“When’s that going to happen?” Nia asked with a slight chuckle, adding, “You’re supposed to be in the middle of a war soon aren’t you?”
“From what we’ve been able to determine from the scouts Kayelle and I have defeated so far, that seems to be the case,” Yasgrid said. “That’s why your mother is coming to Blue Falls.”
“She’s what?” Nia’s eyes were as wide as Kayelle’s had been when the letter arrived.
Yasgrid knew she should have been surprised too, but as an outside observer it made all too much sense to her. An army of Troubles meant chaos and peril and, if there was one thing Nia’s stories of her mother had done, they had painted a clear picture of a woman who hated chaos and who was absolutely opposed to anything that imperiled her family.