Authors: Aaron Allston
Tags: #Science fiction
"What are you going to do about Fergus?"
"Just what I promised him. He did very well during Duncan's assault . . . but I cannot forget that he betrayed us."
"Oh, well." He didn't press Doc. The man had buried his son earlier today. He looked so glum, so inconsolable, it seemed unlikely that a smile would ever cross his face again.
Ixyail asked what Harris never would have dared to. "Doc, how did it happen?" Her voice was soft, full of sympathy; even her Castilian accent was fainter than usual.
Doc didn't pretend to misunderstand. "I'm not sure. I've never been sure. It might have been inheritance. I was pureblood, and pureblood Daoine Sidhe and their children are often tainted with madness. One of the prices we pay for being long-lived." He shook his head, a sorrowful gesture. "Dierdriu wasn't touched, just melancholy, a sadness I always thought I could end. But when Duncan began to make his name, she killed herself from grief. From shame.
"Duncan always said it was my fault he became what he was. Restrictions he abhorred. Rules he could not abide. His hatred of guidance became hatred of any restriction, any limit. Understanding his mother's sadness taught him to manipulate others through their weaknesses."
Ish asked, "Are you ever going to try again?"
He didn't answer.
Gaby said, "You didn't kill him, you know."
He managed a bare smile. "You went to some considerable effort to make sure of that. I appreciate your intent. Have you two thought about my offer?"
"To stay on as associates?" Harris looked speculatively at Gaby. She smiled back. "We want to," he said. "But we don't know if we'll have time. There are a lot of things we want to do."
"Study my Gift," Gaby said.
"Invent martial arts movies for the fair world."
"Learn to fly."
"Teach tae kwon do."
"Have kids, God help us."
"Go back to the grim world every so often."
"Think we can do all that and still be Foundation associates?" Harris asked.
Doc blinked owlishly at them. "Please try. And if you succeed—" he turned his gaze on Ish "—tell me how you do it. I might need to know."
Both women turned their smiles on him. "It's a deal," they said.