“Ambro, I don’t know what to wear.” Niklas said breathlessly from the entryway to the infirmary.

Which was a better entrance than the last one she’d gotten, she had to admit. “To what?” 

Niklas eyed the one occupied bed and rushed to Ambrosine’s side, dropping his voice to a whisper. “On a date.”

“Well, I’d suggest clothes.”

“That’s not helping.”

“You could go naked if you’d rather but that’s a bit of a Norn power move and not really recommended within the Reach.”

He turned a highly amusing shade of red. “Ambrosine!”

“What?” She said sweetly, eyes wide. “Aren’t I helping?”

“Not the least little bit!”

She gently patted his shoulder and moved over to the fountain. She sat on the edge and gently crossed her legs at the ankles while waiting for him to sit beside her. “First off, where and with whom?”

“Oh, I asked Jin what her favorite places were, and she mentioned a greasy burger stand over by the festival area.”

Ambrosine grinned. “Then I suggest some casual clothes, albeit perhaps your nicest ones. Or next to nicest if the grease part spooks you.”

He sighed. “You know I basically have three sorts of outfits: comfortable clothes for working in that aren’t for showing polite company, clothes that are acceptable for polite company, and Fancy Things that have been forced on me at some point or other.”

“Well, as this isn’t a fancy place, your choice seems pretty clear. Pick your favorite things that don’t have holes in them and I think you’ll be okay with Jin. Don’t’ be so nervous, Niklas.”

He shot her a disgruntled look but she just laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. “Seriously, my friend. You two seem to have had an easy time spending time together so far, so going out to dinner should be no trouble. I’d just try to avoid the shop talk, hmm? Necromancy is not dinner table fair, at least not out in public.”

“Nor is my research,” he said dryly. “No one wants to hear about diseases and their transmission usually, though. I mean—other members of the Priory and necromancers, yes sometimes, but not over dinner, no.”

“Good thing you have other stuff to talk about.”

“Sometimes? Sort of.”

She arched an eyebrow. “Maybe work on that, hmm?”

Niklas grimaced and gave her a poke when she just grinned at him again. “You’re obnoxious sometimes, you know.”

“It’s often intentional, so yes. I’m quite aware. And yet you have been my friend since we were young, so what does that say?”

“That I had terrible taste back then?”

She gasped and playfully kicked at him, which he narrowly dodged without falling backwards in to the fountain.  

“Wow, so rude, Nik.”

“And that was a very unladylike response.”

She sniffed. “I was raised in a monastery that brews beer, manners weren’t as high on their list as you’d think. We did a lot of very unmannerly things there whenever you wandered in from the swamp, as I recall.”

Niklas again turned red. “Ambrosine,” he whispered harshly. Now in his thirties, it was very uncomfortable to think about how his longest lasting friendship had started with awkward teenage hormones.

At least, uncomfortable for him. She was still sitting there with a highly amused expression on her face. She made it far worse by leaning in and whispering, “At least I can tell Jin that you got a very good start on your education—”

“Please don’t,” he groaned. “You’re so awful. That’s it. I’m leaving.” He stood up hastily.

“Okay bye!” She said cheerfully, waving. “Talk to me later!”

“Absolutely not! You’re the worst!”

“Love you too, Nik!”

He couldn’t help but laugh as he heard her blow a kiss, but it didn’t slow his pace down the stairs any. He had to go through his closet, for one…

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