The whispers were louder.
Or maybe Shui was simply listening more. The silence which beckoned the voices, the silence that Ling used to fill with useless chattering – the useless chattering that Shui loved. Gone. It ripped into him more than anything had in a long time.
He missed the silence. He missed a lot of things. Trying to think about it selfishly lessened the pain somehow, dulled it, turning it into an ache which he could put aside with all of the other things which had ached him in life.
The nightlife wasn’t loud enough. It never was anymore. Shui felt like he was going crazy. Stopping at the bottom of the hill, he looked up at Kun’s lodge, at the dragon wrapped around one side of it. Kun was home. They all had homes now. That had been a while. It felt like a time before Ling.
The time before, the time after. What had Jin said about the children of earth? Shui wanted to throw up. He stepped up the embankment, hands in pockets.
“How’s it going?” he asked the dragon, not expecting a response. The dragon and he had only ever gotten along because of Kun. The fact that hadn’t changed much was more comforting than how Jin had become.
Silver scales gleamed under the fur which poked out from under each plate, from a light that came from nowhere.
Shui nearly walked right past the creature when a tail tripped him.
“God fuck damn, you-” Shui bit his tongue before he could shout more at Kun’s pet.
“Shui? I thought I heard you.”
He picked himself off the floor and looked toward the door. As always, Kun’s home looked inviting, even when he could barely look inside. “Yeah, I’m here. You’re still up.” Thank god. “Wanna do something?”
Perhaps he would thank the dragon one day, for realizing before he did that he might walk right back down the hill and disappear into the town. Kun didn’t drown out the whispers.
But he spent too long trying to hear them.