Hard Time again this week!
If you don’t love Wallace MacNair, I think you might just be kind of wrong. If you don’t know him that well, he’s in The Service and has the lead in a short story of his own, Live Free or Die.
It seemed to take ages more for the door to open, and ages after that for Dingus to come through it. At first, Wallace didn’t even recognize him; his hair had dulled, and he’d gone thinner even than he’d been at Moot, absolutely rail-thin where before he’d been simply lean. His face—oh Lady, his face, it had already, even after only a couple of months, utterly changed. It was all planes and bones, hard and sharp like one of Da’s axe blades. His cheekbones especially stood out stark, and he’d grown something like a sparse beard.
Wallace stood, slow, shutting his mouth, and against his will he swallowed. With the keen lowering eyes, Dingus reminded him of a book Evan had once shown him, a book about the elves. The People, they liked that better, and suddenly he wanted nothing so much as for Dingus to like him enough to take that look off him, that look like a storm out of a face far more terrifying than it was lovely.
He resisted the urge to dip his chin. Instead he raised it, and met Dingus’s fire-and-lightning gaze. He was barely aware of the others, rising behind him.
“You shouldn’t have come.”
“We—” Lukas started to say, but Dingus cut him off. Wrists chained in front of him and he was still scary enough to prickle the fine hairs on Wallace’s nape.
“I don’t want you here. You shouldn’t have come, and you definitely shouldn’t have brought her here. What’d you want anyway? Stare at the freak in his—”
“Oh, shut the fuck up,” said Kessa.
“I don’t want you here! I didn’t want you to see—”
“Shut up, Dingus,” she said, stepped forward where Wallace could not, and hugged him hard.