beekeeperofeden: (stark orange)
[personal profile] beekeeperofeden
Trade-fic with callmesherly. She requested a sequel to Cold. It starts exactly where Cold ended. Title comes from "Whistles the Wind" by Flogging Molly.
Wordcount: 1148

-

"What do you mean?" Jarlaxle shivered at the cold wind against his neck.

"I. Never. Escaped." Entreri spat out each word slowly, as if it took effort to allow them past his lips.

"You're alive. I thought—" But Entreri was shaking his head. Jarlaxle studied him again, reconsidering the differences he saw in a different light.

"Let me help." He wasn't even sure what he was helping with, but... If this wasn't an illusion or some dream, Jarlaxle knew he wanted to cling to it as tightly as he could.

"You can't." Entreri seemed to have given up on pushing Jarlaxle off of him. Oh my friend, when did you start giving up so easily? Jarlaxle put on a smile and met Entreri's eyes.

"I've rarely failed you before." As the words left his mouth, Jarlaxle knew they were a mistake. Entreri twisted his hips, bringing him into a better angle to push Jarlaxle off of him with a vicious kick.

Jarlaxle rolled away, teeth clenched in pain. Entreri leaned against the building, arm braced against the ground as if he were about to push himself to his feet. Instead, he took in a shaky, shuddering breath and closed his eyes.

Jarlaxle could feel frigid water soaking though his clothes and sat up, curled into defensive position in case Entreri decided to attack him again.

But the attack never came. He stayed against the building, shivering in the wind, pretending Jarlaxle wasn't there. Eventually, Jarlaxle crawled over the building. It was still cold and wet and offered no shelter from the wind, but at least he wasn't being pelted with freezing drops of rain. He made sure to stay at least three feet away from the assassin.

"I have resources," he said finally. "And the... obstacle that stopped me before is no longer an issue."

"Why are you here, Jarlaxle?" Entreri opened his eyes and shook his head.

"I'm meeting a friend in Neverwinter. He should be along any day now."

Entreri frowned and studied him, and for a moment Jarlaxle thought he was going to get called on his deliberate misinterpretation of the question. But instead Entreri raised an eyebrow.

"A friend. Drizzt Do'Urden?"

Jarlaxle opened his mouth to deny it, then closed it again. Being caught in a lie would only hurt his credibility more, if such was possible.

"Yes. I've heard he was in the area."

"He was. If he's smart, he has gone as far away as possible."

"I saw him only a few months ago. I cannot imagine he's angered the Netherese or the Thayans so much in that time."

"Not him. The elf woman he's traveling with." Entreri frowned. "Alegni has some sort of obsession with catching her. He is convinced she's going to appear from the shadows and try to kill him."

"Alegni?"

Entreri stretched in a deliberately artificial gesture of casualness.

"Yes. Herzgo Alegni. Surely you remember him from your little rendezvous in Baldur's Gate?"

"We only spoke briefly." And there had been that chance meeting in the Anauroch Desert, but Jarlaxle had tried to end that conversation as quickly as possible. It had been before he'd learned of Kimmuriel's interference in his mind, and he'd found the tiefling an unpleasant reminder, as well as just unpleasant.

Entreri's eyes narrowed in suspicion, and Jarlaxle wondered how closely they'd missed each other, that night in the desert. But he didn't accuse Jarlaxle of lying.

"How fortunate for you," said the assassin. "My own association with him has not been nearly so short."

Jarlaxle felt the hot rush of anger under his breastbone.

"Despite appearances to the contrary, I do not actually know everything. If you are going to insist on blaming me for your circumstances, I would appreciate knowing what they are."

Entreri's jaw clenched. So did his fists, and for a moment, Jarlaxle tensed, thinking the man was going to attack him again. Then all the anger seemed to leak out of him, leaving him limp and despondent against the side of the building.

"Alegni has the sword, and the sword has me." He tilted his head up so Jarlaxle could see the thin scar across his throat. It went right across his jugular; he would have bled out in seconds.

"How?" he asked. His voice sounded weak and shaky to his own ears. Entreri gave a helpless shrug. And then he started to speak. He started with simple statements of fact —what the sword could do, how Alegni used it. As the wind whipped daggers of ice against raw skin, he included more details. Through it all, his eyes never left Jarlaxle. See what you did? The silent accusation was colder than the wind.

Jarlaxle listened and crossed his arms as the heat that had been gathering in his chest turned to ice. He knew —perhaps better than anyone— how captivity would eat at Entreri's soul. And this had lasted decades? No wonder the man looked wrung out.

At last, Entreri came to more recent events. The ice left his eyes as he explained his encounter —and brief alliance— with Drizzt Do'Urden and Dahlia Sin'felle. They had parted ways and he had returned, only to find Alegni even more discomfited by the concept of Dahlia working against the Thayans than he had by her working for them.

"He's been paranoid ever since. He's convinced that she and Do'Urden will sneak in and murder him in his sleep." Entreri snorted. His breath steamed in the air. "If only."

Jarlaxle kept his arms crossed and stuck his chin out, baring his throat. He scooted closer by about a foot. Not close enough to be threatening, but so that he could lower his voice.

"Let me help." He knew he wasn't smiling. It felt strange, to be so naked. But he felt like, despite everything, Entreri might reject his help if it didn't seem serious enough.

Entreri studied him and the same volatile mixture of emotions from when they had first bumped into each other seemed to dance in his eyes: fear, anger, hope.

"You could kill him," he admitted.

Jarlaxle nodded. Entreri didn't stop studying his face, clearly balancing some question in his head. What are you wondering? Jarlaxle didn't dare ask. What fears are you balancing against the scale of your hope?

Entreri's shoulders finally slumped.

"Fine. But not when I am around." He laughed in a harsh, bitter croak. "You could kill him, but if I am there, you will have to fight me as well."

He stood up, leaning against the wind with a wince. Jarlaxle scrambled up to follow him and barely resisted the urge to reach out and grasp his former partner. It would have been so easy, before.

Entreri turned to walk away.

"You will not be sorry," Jarlaxle promised. Entreri only paused for a moment. His response was so quiet, Jarlaxle barely heard it beneath the howling wind.

"We'll see."

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