“Hana, yer transcripts went through at the high school, ya start classes on Monday.” Shin called to her as he walked into the kitchen. He stopped halfway in, holding the door open, and frowned in confusion at her. “What’re you doin’?” He asked quirking and eyebrow.
Hana blew a lock of hair away from her eyes. “I’m trying to bake a cake.” She had flour in her hair, on her face and clothes and all over the countertop. At that moment she was attempting to get eggshells out of the bowl, and only succeeding in getting raw egg on the counter along with the flour. She huffed out a breath, ready to throw the bowl across the room. “How the hell do you do it? It always looks so easy when you bake and stuff. I don’t get this shit.”
Shin chuckled, “I’ve had a lot of practice and a lot of time to put it to use.” He washed his hands and took the bowl with the eggs. “One way to get eggshells is to use a bit of the shell. Or ya can wet yer finger, it’s easy too.” He scooped the little bits of shell from the bowl. “How did you get so much in here?”
“I don’t know. I cracked them on the bowl and the shells just ended up in there, they all fell apart.”
Shin chucked and shook his head. “First, crack the eggs on the counter, not the bowl. The shells are really delicate, so you…” Shin showed Hana how the prep and bake the cake. “Not as difficult as you thought, was it?” Shin asked smiling as he slid the pan into the oven.
“You’re right, it was pretty easy. Thanks for showing me; this was a lot of fun.”
“No problem. Hey, have ya seen Frey? I need him ta pick up something for me in town.”
“I think he’s in his room. Um, Shin, how come you never leave the house?”
“I leave the house, sometimes, but I can’t really leave the property, especially right now. There’s a lot of risk if I leave, with the Jorogumo back and everythin’. If I leave now, she could easily find me and… well, you get it.”
“Oh, right, I forgot about that. That makes sense. Well, do you want me to go get Frey for you?”
“Nah, jus’ tell him he needs ta pick up the paint and the stuff on the list I gave him. He knows where ta go and everythin’ already.”
“Alright,” Hana ran upstairs and knocked on Frey’s door. “Hey, Frey, are you in there?” She hesitantly opened the door after waiting for a few silent moments. “Frey, are you here?” She looked in and found the room was empty. Curiosity got the best of her and she snuck in to look at the few personal items he’d brought with him. He’d at least used a few of the furniture pieces she’d gotten for him. The floating shelves were set up in a neat line down one wall, and he’d snugged the nightstand into the corner between his bed and the wall.
There were a few books scattered on the shelves, with bookends, but not enough to sit on only one. A photo album was closed on the nightstand and Hana ventured a look at its contents. There was a picture on the front of a man with red unruly hair and neat beard, a black haired woman, and a younger Frey, minus the Mohawk. The three were together in more pictures inside the album, along with more people and Frey at varied ages. Hana closed the album her curiosity sated, and left the room.
“Hana,” someone asked behind her, sounding surprised.
She jumped and turned to face Frey, who was just leaving the bathroom. “Oh, hey.”
“What w-were you d-d-doing in my room?”
“Shin asked me to get you. So I-” Hana stopped, and she felt her face flush with embarrassment as she realized Frey was only wearing a bath-towel, wrapped tightly around his hips. His hair was still wet from the shower, and little puddles were forming around his feet. “Oh dear, um you’re-” She looked at the floor, lifting a hand to shield her eyes, more for his modesty than anything.
“What?” Frey looked down at himself and blushed to his ears. “Oh, um, j-just give m-me a minute.” He timidly slipped past her into his bedroom, promptly closing the door a little harder than necessary. A short wait later he came back out, fully dressed, and still blushing. “I’m s-s-sorry about that.”
“No, it’s alright. So, Shin said he needs you to go into town for him.
“Yeah,” he reached up to rub the back of his neck.
The motion drew Hana’s attention upwards, and she noticed that, for the first time since he’d gotten there, Frey didn’t have the thick bandages covering the majority of his neck. A set of four deep, ragged, and newly scabbing cuts ran across his throat. “Oh my word, what happened?!” She reached for his shoulder. Frey’s eyes widened and his hand flew to cover his throat. Hana forcefully pulled the hand away. “Frey! How did this happen?” He turned his face away from her, looking ashamed, and said nothing. “Gods above and below, Frey, we have to do something for this! It looks terrible.” She turned to the stairs. “I’ll go get Mae.”
“Hana p-please, don’t.” Frey grabbed her wrist. “I’m fine.”
“That’s not fine! It looks like something tried to rip your throat open. And it’s new!”
“Hana, stop p-p-please!” He tightened his grip on Hana’s wrist. “Don’t t-tell anyone. Y-you can’t tell a-anyone.”
“I d-don’t want them t-t-to know.” His hands went to her shoulders, and his look became desperate. “They c-can’t know. Please, don’t t-tell them, please. Can you k-keep it a secret, f-for me?”
Hana narrowed her eyes, wondering why it was so important. “Fine, I won’t tell. But you’d better let me help you take care of that. If you don’t the deal is off. Got it?”
“Alright,” Frey let Hana’s shoulders go, and then allowed her to pull him back into the bathroom. She treated and rewrapped his neck. “Thank you.”
“No problem, now let’s go to the store.”
“You d-don’t have to go w-with me.”
“There’s not much else to do around here right now. And I’ve only been in town once since I got here. I have cabin fever. I need to go out! Please, let me go with you, please?” Hana clasped her hands in front of her chest.
Frey sighed and looked at the wall for a few moments. “Sure, you c-can come. J-just don’t get me in t-trouble or anything.” Hana hopped up with a grin and hugged him. “D-don’t do that please.” He said as he pushed her off.
“Sorry, sorry, I forgot, you’re not comfortable with hugging.”
“No,” Frey went to his room to get his hat, scarf, gloves, and coat, and put on his boots. “Don’t you need to g-get your th-things from upstairs?”
“All my stuff’s in the downstairs hall closet.” He nodded to her and they went downstairs. Hana put on her shoes, hat, coat, and scarf, and then followed Frey out to his truck. While trying to get in, she found she was too short to do so. “Why is your truck so tall? There’s no runner. I can’t get in.”
Frey looked at her from the driver’s seat, rolled his eyes, and sighed. “You’ve got to be k-k-kidding m-me.” He got out and went around to the passenger door. “Excuse me.” He bent at the waist, tucked one arm under Hana’s knees, and swung her up, putting his other arm under her shoulders. Then Frey lifted her into the cab of the truck, closed the door, and jogged back around to get back into the driver’s seat. He put the truck in gear and drove into town.
“Thanks, for helping me.”
“It’s nothing.” Frey kept his eyes on the road as he talked.
“Do you mind if I ask you something?”
“What happened with your neck?” Frey winced at Hana’s question. “Sorry. You don’t have to say anything. I’m being nosy.”
After a short, tense moment, Frey sighed. “Ih-it was Fenrir.”
“Fenrir, the giant w-wolf who’s supposed to k-kill the All-Father in Ragnarok; he’s the s-son of Loki, the F-Father of Hati and Sköll. H-he’s the one who d-did this.” Frey touched the bandages across his throat. “H-he and I g-got in a fight, and he got me w-with his claws.”
“Wait, you fought with a giant wolf and you didn’t get your head ripped off? How did you do that? That’s crazy!”
“I c-can’t tell you that.” He said softly as they parked in the town’s shopping center.
“I can keep a secret. You can tell me.”
“You already have t-t-two of my secrets, you d-don’t need a third. And everyone will f-find out sooner or l-l-later.” He got out of the truck and went around so he could help Hana get out. “Hana, turn t-to me.”
“But Frey-” She stopped as he shook his head, offering his hands. “Alright, I’ll stop.”
Thank you.” He gave her a relieved, closed lipped smile. Then he took her hands, and caught her as she all but fell out of the cab, with a slight “oof.”
“Sorry, sorry, I’m heavy.”
“N-no, you’re not; ih-it’s ok.”
“Alright, so what do we need to get?”
“I need p-paint, for my room, and Shin needs s-some kitchen supplies.” They went to the home repair store first. At the paint section Frey stood staring at the color swatches. “I-I don’t know what color to g-get.” His eyes meandered around the boards. “There are s-s-s-so many colors to ch-choose from. How do you d-do this?”
Hana put her hands on her hips. “You’ve seriously never picked out paint before?” Frey shook his head to her. “Ok then, well, what kinds of color do you like? Do you prefer bright colors or darker, muted or bold?” He shrugged. Hana sighed then grabbed a dull red swatch and a pale orange. “Which do you like more?”
“The red,” Frey pointed. Hana put back the orange and grabbed a dark blue. “I’d like the blue ih-if it was a lighter c-color.” In a few minutes Hana and Frey narrowed down his preferences to three: dark green, mid-tone blue, and burgundy. “I d-don’t think I’d l-like having red walls.”
"So, do you want green or blue?” Hana picked up the two color cards and held them out. “They’re good colors.” Frey reached across her and picked up a different color from the shelf. “What’s that?” He turned it to her, it was a steel blue, similar to the one she was holding, but more grey. “Oh, I didn’t pick that one up.”
“No,” Frey looked back and forth between Hana’s color swatches and the one he was holding. “I like th-this one.”
“Good, then you should get it. What kind of paint do you want?” She went to the shelves holding the cans of white paint.
Frey frowned again, “I d-don’t understand.”
“The finish, do you want matte, high-gloss, satin-” Hana stopped at his confused look, and sighed. “Do you want shiny, not shiny, or really shiny paint?”
“Um, n-not shiny, I th-think.” Hana nodded to him and reached up for two of the cans. “H-hey, give me those.”
“Nope, we have to get the color added.”
“Hana,” he said, sounding slightly frustrated, as he followed her to the paint desk.
“You can carry them after we buy them.” She plunked the cans on the counter, where the clerk stared at her, his mouth hanging open slightly. “Can we get these two in,” she plucked the little color card from Frey’s fingers, “this color, please.”
“S-sure,” the clerk cleared his throat, gingerly taking the card and paint cans. “It’ll take a few minutes. We only have one mixer right now, because the other one’s broken.”
“Oh, that’s fine, right?” Hana looked at Frey, who nodded. “We can wait.” The clerk nodded slightly and went to work. “So Fenrir… is he who’s after you?” Hana asked when the clerk had his back turned. Frey’s face went blank and his eyes widened as he stared at her sidelong. “What? Am I right?”
“I can’t t-tell you that,” he said slowly.
“Come on, you can too. Why won’t you tell me?”
“I j-just can’t. P-please Hana, stop asking.”
Hana frowned, “fine.” They waited in silence for their paint to finish. The clerk rang up the purchase, and tried to pass the cans to Hana, only to have Frey take them. They went back to the truck, and left the paint there, before heading to the grocers.