Once they had left, Regan turned to Poe. He eyed him for a moment. “Hit me.”
Poe looked startled and confused. “Why would I do that?”
Regan shrugged. “You look like you need to hit someone and you won’t hurt me.”
Poe thought about it for a moment. “You’re sure?”
Regan gave him a mocking look and waved him in. “Not the face. Marie might object.” Poe nodded and gave a tentative jab. “Is that that the best you can do? Harder!” Poe jabbed again, and again as Regan frowned. He went at it for a good five minutes before he cried enough. Regan rubbed his ribs a little. “Better?”
“Actually, yes. Thank you. I didn’t hurt you?” He asked worriedly
Regan snorted. “I’m going to find Marie.”
“Do you want me to come?”
Regan scratched his beard thoughtfully. “No.” He made sure the fire was banked safely and wandered off to find his woman.
Regan waited until he was out of town to break into a space eating lope fast enough to get him home quickly but not fast enough to trigger his hunting instinct. It wasn’t long until he was opening the door to the house. He stepped in and looked around for Marie. He found her huddled in the corner, Mischief the rabbit in her lap so caught up in her thoughts that she didn’t even notice him enter. He set the basket she had left behind on the table and scooped her into his arms, rabbit and all. She looked at him bleakly and buried her head in his chest. He sat in the big armchair and just held her for a while, hands rubbing her back.
“What did he say?” She asked quietly, forehead resting on his chest.
Regan shrugged and considered how much he should tell her. “Said he couldn’t bear the thought of raising you alone.” Better to just lay everything on the table. He felt her frown and kissed the top of her head. “The girl seems eager to meet her sister,” he said, hoping to make something good out of this situation. He could practically feel her brain tearing down and rebuilding her armor, testing it for chinks, then repeating the process. “You don’t have to go back,” he said gently.
She shook her head and lifted it to look at him. “I know,” she brought one hand up to stroke his cheek, “but I need to know.” She kissed him softly. “Shall we get this over with?”
He squeezed her tight and stood, setting her on her feet. She took Mischief back to his cage and splashed some water on her face to eliminate some of the evidence of her tears. He walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her and nuzzled her neck. She closed her eyes and leaned into him for a moment. She breathed in his scent, sweat and fur and…Regan, and let it calm her, let it help get her defenses back in place. She turned in his arms and kissed the spot over his heart. “I think I’m ready now.”
He looked at her face, seeking some answer, and nodded when he found it. He drew her arm through his and walked her back to town.