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Sun, Oct. 7th, 2007, 10:20 pm
20 December 2035: At Bran's house

While Margaret takes Cordelia upstairs, to see to her room, Bran makes a phone call from the kitchen.

At 7:30 in the evening in Wales, it is 7:30 the following morning in New Zealand. Will should be awake by now.

Bran dials the international calling card number, first, and then another number. "Mr Stantz?" he says, when the phone picks up. Better to be safe; he has no way to tell who else might be about.

Mon, Oct. 8th, 2007 05:55 am (UTC)

Awake, and making tea; the shop opens in an hour and a half. Even on days when one of the assistants is there William tries to be there for opening, and today Huhana has the morning off.

"Hello?" he says automatically into the handset, juggling kettle and phone and mug. And then, as the familiar voice registers, his own tone warms with a crooked grin. "Hullo there, Bran."

Mon, Oct. 8th, 2007 06:02 am (UTC)

"Happy birthday, Will," says Bran, "Even if it is not your birthday yet here, and it is the beginning of summer where you are."

Even if Will is seventy-five and only admits to thirty-five, even if he has left his family and everyone he knows, and has changed his name and moved to New Zealand, Bran is not going to forget Will's birthday.

At least, he will not forget for a few years yet.

Mon, Oct. 8th, 2007 06:31 am (UTC)

"Twenty degrees today -- I swear, I will never get used to a summer birthday," Will says with a grin, setting down mug and kettle so he can lean back comfortably against the counter.

One of the best birthday gifts he ever got was the soft fall of snow for his eleventh birthday.

Midsummer's Day has its own appropriateness, of course, but it's still strange, every now and then. But it's been long enough that he's used to it, and used to missing many things more than a winter birthday.

"Diolch, Bran. How are all of you? A fine winter there?"

Mon, Oct. 8th, 2007 06:36 am (UTC)

"Not as good as the winters when we were younger, but that is all to be expected. No snow yet, I'm afraid, except at the very top of the mountains, but there is hope for the next few days."

Bran sets his cane against the wall and sits down on the kitchen stool.

"But I have got a present for you. That is, something has; I am not sure I can take credit. Of course, you will have to come up here to collect."

Mon, Oct. 8th, 2007 06:45 am (UTC)

The things between them will never be quite ordinary; there will always be the memory of powers and roles beyond the everyday friendship of Bran Davies and Will Stanton. But for many, many years now that has been only history and memory and silent understanding.

Will's eyebrows rise slightly, in William Stantz's Avonhead kitchen. "Will I, then?"

It's not challenge. Not in the least.

Mon, Oct. 8th, 2007 06:50 am (UTC)

"You will. We have an extra guest this Christmas. Even besides Jane."

All of this conversation has been usual, up until this point. A casual listener would have no reason to guess that the next thing Bran says is not usual at all.

Bran continues, lightly, "Cordelia Vorkosigan came here to visit. I thought you might come up to see her, and Jane too, and have a proper winter Christmas with all of us, and then perhaps see Cordelia part of the way home."

Mon, Oct. 8th, 2007 07:04 am (UTC)

Will is very still for a moment.

"Ah," he says softly.

"A proper Christmas indeed. I think I shall have to."

And if his voice is light and normal, or close enough to it for only someone like Bran to hear the thoughtful abstraction beneath, his face has an absorbed, listening look, like that of a man putting together pieces of a puzzle.

Tue, Oct. 9th, 2007 02:43 am (UTC)

"I thought that would bring you." Bran leans back against the wall, satisfied, having scored an easy point in the game he's been playing with Will for decades.

"Well, then, shall we expect you here the day after tomorrow? A very long journey, it is, from there to here."

Tue, Oct. 9th, 2007 03:17 am (UTC)

"A long journey, and I will have to see if the assistants can mind the shop. It would be a pity to close up so close to Christmas more than we have to."

"Day after tomorrow, yes. I'll tell you the details when I know, but that should be right. I'll come as fast as the flights allow, of course, but I don't think there's a need for extraordinary measures."

There's no need to put significant weight on any words; they understand each other, as they have for a very many years.

Tue, Oct. 9th, 2007 03:28 am (UTC)

Bran interprets the last sentence (The situation is not urgent enough to require supernatural travel) without difficulty.

"As long as you are not travelling on Christmas Eve; hardly any trains at all, then, and the most horrid hours," Bran answers. No, no need for that.

Tue, Oct. 9th, 2007 04:00 am (UTC)

"Spare me," Will returns, with a mock shudder.

"Miserable day to be traveling. No, I'll happily skip that for Margaret's good eggnog, and Christmas Eve afternoon with all of you."

Tue, Oct. 9th, 2007 05:25 am (UTC)

"Then I will leave you to arrange your flights. Just remember to tell us when you are coming, so that someone can collect you at Tywyn station."

Wed, Oct. 10th, 2007 05:48 am (UTC)

"Of course."

With that settled, there's little more to say that won't easily wait for a later call or the visit itself. After a few more minutes of chatting, Will thanks Bran again for the birthday wishes, and hangs up.

And spends a moment studying the phone in his hand, his round face blanked in a thoughtful abstraction Bran Davies would recognize very well, and most of William Stantz's friends not at all.

"Well," he says softly into the air of his empty kitchen, and sets the phone down to finish making tea.

Time to book flights and a car, and to inform his assistant jewelers of his aunt's sudden grave illness, and the sad necessity of flying back to Britain on such short notice.