It’s the kind of day Rokia used to hate, windy and cold and just a little snow coming down sideways, and in Six she’d’ve been trying to find things to shove in the cracks under the windows and sleeping three-to-a-bed with her sisters and every warm thing they could find.
It’s even colder up here in the mountains than it was in town, cold like Rokia dimly remembers from before they moved, cold where the air hurt in her throat and her fingers were numb by the time she got to school.
Lyme goes out in it anyway, doesn’t even bother with a coat, just pulls on a sweater to head to the gym. It’s too cold to go work in the garage without heat, so Rokia resigns herself to a day of catching up on paperwork, grabs a blanket and settles into a chair. This is the way to handle winter, she thinks: indoors, in wool socks and Lyme’s sweater with fuzzy blankets and hot coffee. Hibernation—the bears have the right idea.
She pulls the blanket closer when the door opens, letting in the cold air. “Lyme?” Claudius calls out, while he pulls at his shoelaces.
Rokia calls back. “She’s at the gym.”
Claudius looks over and sees her, blinking fast because good grief he has snow on his eyelashes winter is ridiculous, seriously. He’s breathing fast and he looks disappointed. Rokia snickers.
“Aw, did you want hot cocoa for being a good boy and getting some fresh air?”
Claudius glares at her for a second before he lets his face break into a sheepish grin.
“Maybe?” he says, shrugging out of his wet boots and jacket.
Rokia stretches, testing the air, then pulls back into her nest. “Think you’ll have to make it yourself then,” she says, and Claudius laughs and heads for the kitchen
“Bring me some, why don’t ya?” Rokia calls when he’s gone, and Claudius groans. Technically, she figures, she’s his little sister, and if she can’t get a little mileage out of harassing him then that’s a waste of a perfectly good morning.
And Claudius might whine about it and he might pretend to be an asshole and okay, he might actually be an asshole sometimes but he’s also the best because he comes out a few minutes later with two cups of cocoa and hands Rokia one while she grins up at him. He flips the TV on and because Rokia is magnanimous in victory and Claudius probably does deserve some reward for braving this ridiculous weather, she lets him pick the channel.
They’re discovering all kinds of new things in the former borderlands, apparently, and Rokia gets distracted from her parts order by the show about ancient ruins somewhere west of Two. There’s homes built out of stones and clay in crevices, set back in the cliff face, and the camera pans out across the mountains and it’s breathtaking. Rokia imagines the sunshine on the TV actually coming in the windows and relaxes.
The door opens again and Claudius, Rokia is pleased to note, also flinches under the blanket when the cold air blows in.
Lyme comes into the room and shakes her head. “You kids planning on staying there all day?”
“Hey!” Claudius says, indignant, “I just got here!”
Lyme laughs and ruffles his hair as she passes. “You guys want popcorn?” she asks, heading into the kitchen.
“Sure!” Rokia calls.
“You, kiddo,” Lyme calls back, “have you even left that chair since I left?”
Rokia stretches her legs out in front of her. “Nope. I’m hibernating.”
Claudius shakes his head and Lyme laughs. “Good luck with that. I give it till tomorrow before you get bored and go find something to take apart.”
Rokia pulls the blankets over her head. “Nope. Not till it’s less gross outside.”
Now it’s Claudius’s turn to laugh. “That’ll be a while,” he says. “Eibhlin says it’s supposed to snow all week.”
“Shut up,” Rokia says, “You don’t like it any better than I do.”
“Nope,” Claudius grins back at her, “but I can suck it up and go out in it anyway, unlike some people.”
“Hey!” Rokia sits up straighter, and Claudius matches it, “I could if I wanted to.”
Claudius snorts. “Yeah, sure you could.”
Rokia jumps across to the couch and knocks him on his back—Claudius still never expects it and it’s funny to watch him try to figure out just what the hell he’s supposed to do about it. While he’s trying to figure it out she rolls sideways, pulling them both onto the floor and when Claudius tries to get up his feet tangle in the blankets and he almost crushes her, catching himself at the last minute on his hands and leaving just enough space for Rokia to roll free. They’re still wrestling on the floor when Lyme comes in with the popcorn. Rokia has the advantage for the moment because she’s not too proud to use Claudius’s ticklish spots against him and he’s still too scared to really throw her. Lyme pulls her phone out and snaps a photo. Claudius drops his head to the floor and groans while Rokia and Lyme laugh, until Lyme says, “Come on, kids,” and they pile onto the couch.
Lyme hands Rokia the remote, and when Claudius protests she just says, “Looked to me like she’d got you down. Rokia, what’re we watching?”
Rokia’s tempted to change the channel just to be difficult, but she’s actually enjoying the show so she just turns up the volume and leans up against Lyme and smiles.