Shadow Walkers Chapter #10

Laughter is an orgasm triggered by the intercourse of sense and nonsense. ~Author Unknown

Faolán surveyed the table with a nod. Cam had been right about the idea. The tablecloth had been a nice touch. He'd told Faolán if it had been the four of them, it would have been different, but there was a lassie at Maidin Realta Grianán now, and lassies liked pretty doodads and such. Faolán had hustled then to find what he considered to be the perfect cloth, and looking at it now, he was proud of his efforts. Mayhap he thought hopefully, if she paid attention to it, she wouldn't notice the taste of the food so much.

He still couldn't understand why he'd gotten stuck cooking the noon meal. Usually it was Michael that got stuck doing the dreaded deed. Only somehow Michael managed to weasel his way out of it today.

Faolán did console himself over the fact that nothing would be scorched, burnt to a crisp or so tough that not even Cu Roi could chew it. That in itself was a blessing, he reasoned going back into the kitchen. Borias had commented once that eating petrified wood was probably more preferable than eating one of Michael's pot roasts.

Although when it came to culinary skills, Caeoimhin wasn't much better in the kitchen, unless a body had a taste for lots of pepper. Black pepper, lemon pepper, hot pepper sauce, roasted peppers, hot sauce, chili sauce, pepper sauce, or chili powder. If that still didn't do it for him, he threw in a few tablespoons of curry powder for good measure. Michael always complained that the end result it had on his stomach, was like trying to shit out a red hot poker. Borias just moaned and drank a big cold glass of buttermilk trying to put out the fire.

Well Faolán didn't use a lot of spices, and they could always tell what was on the plate in front of them, even though they made lots of faces when they ate it. Especially his rolls or griddle cakes. Caeoimhin swore he was going to call Gallagher Lochlainn, and make sure their band of Scáth Siúlóir were covered under some sort of dental plan. Borias and Michael would always mumble, that if the tower was ever under siege, they could drop them down through the murder hole on the enemy's heads.

There was an old saying that went, You can please some of the people, some of the time... "But these hellions ye couldna please no matter what ye did," he grunted opening the oven door to pull out the pie. What a pie it was too! The crust was golden brown, and the red juice had bubbled up through the small slits on the top. It was a masterpiece if ever there was one, he smiled proudly to himself when he set it on the counter to cool. Wouldn't their eyes pop when they got a look at this beauty?

"What the hell is that smell?" Caeoimhin wanted to know, wrinkling his nose when he came in the kitchen. Sniffing the air again, he walked to the stove looking at the contents in the copper pots. Satisfied that the rank odor wasn't in them, he frowned at Faolán. "What is that stink?"

"Have ye changed yer socks this week? Mayhap it be yer skivvies." When Caeoimhin gave him a dirty look, Faolán snickered and shrugged his shoulders. "Well twuid be no wonder with all that pepper ye use, mayhap ye blew out somethin' extra when ye farted."

"Pog mo thoin, ye wee hellion," he grimaced before he sniffed again. "Damn me that stinks."

"No, thank ye kindly," Faolán snorted back. "I dinna want to kiss yer arse. It looks too much like yer mug, a'sides tis probably all puckered up like one of yer wee, roasted red peppers."

"What the hell be that damned stink? I thought ye was cookin' the noon meal, not boilin' Cam's socks and his skivvies," Borias moaned, when he came through the door.

They both turned to reply, but the words died on their lips. Even with a grimace on his face, it was evident now where he'd disappeared, after they'd found Caitlain on the roof. The shadow of yesterday's beard had been cleaned away with a razor and soap. His long, dark, straight hair was clean and neatly braided to his waist in the back, with the customary long thin braid hanging at his left temple to show he was unmarried.

His black breeks and grey tunic had been discarded and in their place, he wore a crisp white tunic and a kilt in his clan's colors of dark greens and blues. On the matching plaid that went over his shoulder, he wore the Maidin Realta brooch. Around his neck hung the matching medallion. Covering his feet were soft doeskin boots that laced to the knee. The only thing that looked out of place was his two black eyes, and the slight swelling across the bridge of his nose.

Ignoring their looks, he moaned once more, this time looking under the table. "What the hell be that damned fookin' stink? Did that wee hellion Digby shite under the damned table again?"

"I dinna know what the two of ye are complain' about. I canna smell nothin'," Faolán grumbled back. "A'sides with yer busted nose, I dinna see how ye could smell anythin' anyhow."

"I can smell that stink right enough and it smells like shite."

"Ye and Caeoimhin both always told me the fox was the finder, Dapper Dan," Faolán informed him indignantly with a raised eyebrow, causing Borias to growl at him. "Ye just dinna remember to add yerselves to that list of stinky suspects, ye hellion. That I might both conveniently fergot."

"Smells like..." Caeoimhin screwed up his face, sniffing the odor. "Smells like that time, ye was washin' Mick's dirty nappies, Bri. Then ye turned around and boiled cabbage in the same damned pot."

"I did no such of a thin', ye hellion! That be ye that did that deed, and ye damned near poisoned us all. Ye give wee Mick and Faolán the squirts fer a week."

"And the fox rears it's pointy head once again," Faolán laughed, dishing up the potatoes.

"I am no the fox, ye wee deamon. Twas that hellion right there, I tell ye!" Borias grunted indignantly.

Mischief sparkled in Faolán's eyes, when he shook the spoon at Borias, glad that he had Borias' full attention. "Hush up or I will tell the lassie on ye, and some how I dinna think gettin' all duded up will save ye." He started to finish dishing up the potatoes, but stopped and shook the spoon at the older elf again. "And fer yer information, Dapper Dan, I dinna get the squirts. That was ye and the wee picklehead."

Borias looked mortified. "Ye wee deamon! I swear, if ye tell that tale, I will stuff yer scrawny bum in one of them pots, and stick it in the oven fer ye!"

"Twuid probably be fine as long as they dinna let Cam season it. It may be a bit tough though, like that venison Bri cooked that time," Michael laughed from the doorway, causing Borias and Caeoimhin to turn, ready to protest. "Twas so tough Lassie, we could have resoled our boots with it."

This time it was Borias who was left speechless. His jaw dropped a notch, as Caitlain stood next to Michael's side. She wore a soft violet mohair sweater that brought out the lavender of her eyes. Even the outside of the right leg of her jeans, was embroidered with a dainty garnish of violet flowers.

Caitlain's dark auburn hair flowed in soft ringlets down past her shoulders, but that wasn't what caught not only his eye, but Faolán's and Caeoimhin's as well. A long thin braid hung down from her right temple, telling any male that saw it, she was unmarried and available. Whether she knew it or not was another matter. Borias' money was on the fact that she didn't. Still it intrigued him. "Yer hair, Lassie..."

He didn't get the chance to finish, because Michael beaming with a smile from ear to ear started in. "Can ye imagine? She tried to cut off that glorious hair of hers the other day, but with her arm hurt like it is, she could no do it. Twuid have been a shame if she had, if ye ask me."

"Michael...Mickey I mean..." she blushed. "He helped me with it while ago, and then he braided it like this." She chanced a timid look at Borias' braid. "Like yours only on this side."

"Tis very nice, Lassie," Faolán smiled, moving past Borias before he could say anything again. Taking her by the right hand, he held it at arms length. "Tis very nice indeed. I dinna know if Mick told ye or no, but the braid has a special meaning. In fact we all wear it on occasion."

"A special meaning?" Her eyes widened in curiosity. "Honest? What does it mean?"

Borais piped up, a stricken look on his face. Uncomfortable about the subject, he moved toward her. "It means we...we...It means...Right side, ye be a lassie. Left side ye be a man," he answered quickly. He heard Caeoimhin's chuckle behind him and a quiet, "Uh-huh", from Caitlain who, if he didn't know better sounded amused by his answer.

"That's funny. Mickey told me it was a sign of a gaiscioch."

Borias practically choked on the word. "A warrior?"

Michael gave him an innocent look, that bordered on what Borias would have sworn was a smirk. "Well she broke yer fool neb right enough, so that makes her a warrior in my book, ye auld fart."

Not only Borias looked embarrassed, but so did Caitlain. That was why she felt she had to do something, anything to keep Borias from looking like he'd swallow his tongue at any second. Reaching out timidly, she touched his arm. "I wanted to say, thank you, for letting me use the computer," she smiled gently.

He blinked rapidly as her words sank in. "Aye? Well..." he stammered. "I...I thought would like to let...let yer friends know ye were safe, Lassie."

Safe? The word didn't set well with him. She wasn't safe. She wouldn't be, until the strigoi was dead, and until then she was the bait. A bait that was causing an uncomfortable feeling in his groin.

Around him he heard the distinctive raunchy laughter of his companions mixed with soft feminine giggles. "What?" he asked, almost afraid to look down at the front of his kilt, for fear of what might be waiting to confront him.

"The lassie asked what most laddies wear under their kilts. Mick told her, if they be like ye, it was a piece of string, a'cause ye had to hold it up with somethin', to keep it from fallin' out and scarin' the hell out of the sheep," Faolán laughed.

It was the second time within a matter of minutes, that Borias looked mortified. Only this time color rose high in his cheeks. When Caitlain laid her hand over his he flinched. As she started to pull away, he carefully wrapped his hand around her smaller one, holding it gently.

Time seemed to stand still between them as lavender eyes met indigo ones. Neither spoke a word. Nor did their audience who seemed quite entertained by the actions of the two. Faolán busied himself with putting the rest of the food in serving bowls, and gave them to Michael and Caeoimhin to take to the dining room. When he'd finished, Borias and Caitlain still hadn't moved.

A flash of humor lit his eyes, before he walked past them and announced, "I be goin' to eat while it still be hot. Ye two on the other hand, should go get a room."

Behind him he could hear Borias sputtering and stammering between a chorus of "Dammit to hells and wee hellions," while Caitlain giggled and laughter erupted in the dining room.

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