Spears (pt16)

“I wish I had that way with words.”

“That’s not what you want, Azz.” Reem draped an arm around Azzah’s shoulders. “What you envy is not my words. You envy my ability to stay calm enough to think of them. You have those words as well, but when faced with Hasani’s…” She lifted her bowl.
With a frown, Azzah looked down at her bowl.

“You might not have spilled a drop, but you came close. His words were worthy of a fight, not of losing your calm.”

Reem’s words rang true, despite how Azzah felt like it was impossible. Reem had managed, somehow. “If I were calm, then how would it still be worth of a fight? Shouldn’t we be angry to hear such insults?”

“Anger isn’t always vicious. You need to learn how to handle this. Hasani was drunk.”

“You keep reminding me.” Azzah leaned into her. “I know.”

“And we like Hasani. For the most part. Outside this.”

Azzah sighed. “Yes. He isn’t bad.”

“What if someone you didn’t like or that you didn’t know aggravated you? How will you keep a cool head there?” Reem pressed her forehead against Azzah’s. “We need your head where it is. You are my back, you know.”

“You are mine,” Azzah replied. “I’m not worried. I did stay calm. Because you were.”

“No. You held your ground because I did, not because you were calm.”

“With you at my side, I can be as calm as I need. Until we need to act.”

Reem cocked her head to the side, but smiled.

Spears (pt12)

Their toast was interrupted by a man. Though that might have been too polite, in Azzah’s opinion. It was Hasani, coming up from Reem’s side.

“Look, it’s the doubled spears.”

There was nothing inherently wrong with what the young man said, but the tone of his voice made Azzah know that it wasn’t meant as fact or compliment. She fixed him with a sharp look.

Reem whispered into her ear. “He’s had a little too much. Not everyone can handle their nights well, eh?”

Azzah nodded and said nothing.

“I don’t understand what you both do.” The boy sounded legitimately confused, his words trying to figure it out. Azzah didn’t know whether to look at him or not, but as Reem sipped from her bowl without looking, Azzah followed her example. “As spears, shouldn’t you be fighting? If you are good spears, that’s what you’d be doing. Driving away those Unclean.”

Azzah’s temper rose up. She felt her spear against her back, crying out to defend against such insult. A year ago she would have blamed his youth, but it was too late. He should have known better. His muscles were that of an adult now, not of a child, defined by sweat from having lingered close by a fire on a warm night. All to remind her, in her rising fury, there was no excuse.

But Reem did nothing, so neither did Azzah. She stared down into her bowl, watching the liquid shake slowly from side to side. Eventually she noted that came from her hands, clasping the side of the bowl too tight.