Sh'yan was busy in the stables when the queen came to visit him. He took a moment to be properly shocked and appalled at the mess that was going to get on her expensive robes. He'd cleaned the stalls out already that morning, but that didn't make the stables immaculate, and she wasn't dressed for riding.

"Sh'yan!" she called cheerfully.

"Hello, Your Majesty…" Sh'yan said carefully, setting his brush down and patting Sunlight on the head to keep him patent while he talked to the queen.

"I need a favor." Despite her words, her grin didn't fade at all. Sh'yan frowned.

"A favor, Your Majesty? You can ask me to do whatever you please. I am your servant."

"Yes, well, this isn't really related to your duties. Okay? Can I tell you what it is?"

Sh'yan nodded.

"I need you to…well, I need you to well, I need you to stay close to Kyave?"

"Close…to him? I don't understand. He has other people to take care of his needs and Zokol can take care of guiding him."

"I don't want you to be Kyave's servant. I need you to be his…friend."

"I don't think that…Kyave needs me as a friend," Sh'yan said hesitantly, running his fingers through Sunshine's pale mane.

"That doesn't matter. I need you to be his friend. I need him to trust you. I think…I think I'm going to need a lot from him, and it will help if he has a strong attachment to someone here. And he already likes you."

That didn't sound good. The queen wanted him to help her manipulate Kyave? He wasn't good with people. How was he supposed to be any good at that? "Um."

"I don't need you to anything you don't want to, Sh'yan. Don't you like Kyave?"

"I…don't know him that well," Sh'yan protested weakly. "He seems nice, but —"

"That's exactly my problem, Sh'yan! He seems nice, but I don't know him that well and I don't have time to. Please, be his friend. Be close to him."

Sh'yan didn't bother to protest that time. He wasn't going to convince his queen that she should ask someone else and he couldn't very well refuse her. "I'll do my best, Your Majesty."

"Thank you."

Sh'yan picked his brush back up and started brushing Sunshine again. Queen Malwe didn't leave, so he paused. "Was there anything else you needed, Your Majesty?"

"Oh, no," she replied with an overly sweet smile. Sh'yan had seen enough of her smiles to be able to tell them apart and he didn't like what this one was telling him. "I just wanted to know when you plan to see Kyave next."

"He usually comes by every afternoon to see his horses," Sh'yan said. "Unless he's busy. But he hasn't been by for a few days, so I'm sure he'll be here."

"Oh, really? Well, then I suppose I should be off before he sees us conversing."

She pranced off before Sh'yan could say anything in response. Sh'yan sighed and went back to his tasks. He never had time to socialize with Kyave when he came by to see Starlight and Sunshine. Kyave was busy with his horses and he was busy with his duties. He was usually trying to feed the horses when he came by to ride them. Starlight and Starlight had already gotten used to eating well after the other horses.


Kyave never came by. Sh'yan debated with himself the entire time he locked up the stables for the night, wondering if he should bother to go to Kyave's room and ask about it or to leave the older man alone.

Queen Malwe would want him to go to him. He looked at his dirty clothes, brushed the worst of the muck off and headed up the carefully polished stairs that led to Kyave's room.

He reached the room with no incidence, which didn't surprise him. It was late and most people would already be in bed. He hoped Kyave wouldn't be, but he had stopped by the foreigner's room before after he was done with the stables and Kyave had been awake.

He was awake this time, too, bent over a desk with a thick candle casting a pool of light on the paper he was writing on.

"Kyave?" he asked.

The blond looked up from his paper and smiled, setting the pen in his hand carefully in the glass bottle of ink. "Sh'yan. What are you doing here?"

"I was just…wondering how you were. You haven't stopped by in the last few days…"

Kyave sighed and glanced at his paper again. "I'm sorry. If I'd known you'd be worried, I would have said something. I've just been really busy."

"With what?"

"Everything, it seems like. Don't worry about it. I should be able to take a break and come visit you and the horses tomorrow. Is that all you needed?"

"Um. I guess." Sh'yan bit his lip when Kyave looked between where he stood at the door and paper on the desk. He was bothering the other man, and that had never been his intent.

"Well, it's nice to know someone cares. Thanks. Are you sure you don't want anything else."

Sh'yan shook his head. "If you need company—"

"No, I'm sure you must be tired," Kyave replied, stretching his long arms over his head. "Get to sleep. I'll talk to you later."

"Are you sure?"

"I'm sure." Kyave made a little waving motion at him and smiled again.

Sh'yan left.


A/N: Excuses, excuses, homework, serious computer problems...revies? Pwease?