Cir was just innocently swimming in the spring, and now he is wet, naked, and sprawled in the hallway of an unfamiliar palace.
A stranger, looming over him from uncomfortably close by, asks him a question in an impatiently bewildered tone and a language he has never heard before in his life.
"- aaaah I only speak Cefaxi!" exclaims Cir, trying to scramble to a less uncomfortably close by location. He's still dripping wet and the water is glowing red on his skin, which ought to serve as well as a uniform except this guy doesn't look Cefaxi and only Cefax even has redmages.
He's scared and he's fleeing and this is enough reason to chase, even though the kid looks kind of young for him. Siurek grabs him by the arm.
—the thing you have to understand about Fareine Siurek is that there's a way he should be. It's clear as day to him, a constant weight of internal expectation. He should be powerful and cruel and selfish and hedonistic. He should have everything he wants, except when the things he wants are wrong. Mercy is wrong. Meekness is wrong. Letting anyone ever have power over him is wrong. Caring about people is on thin fucking ice. He should lean into his anger and his sadism, lean away from his unnerving and unacknowledged compassion. He should conquer the world, conquer every world he can get his hands on, live in the pinnacle of luxury as eternal ruler of all he surveys, torturing people to death at his whim, and wanting any life but that one would be wrong, so he doesn't—
(—so he almost never does—so he dismisses every fleeting thought that something else might be better, dismisses them almost before he's thought them at all—)
He picks Cir up off the ground and shakes him, fairly gently, more an expression of his feelings about the situation than a real attempt to hurt. "Make sense," he says, in the language that Cir still doesn't speak, but it's obvious what he means because it's obvious what he wants because that's just who he is as a person, he hates it when someone is being confusing and won't stop, it makes him impatient the same way lies and politics make him impatient. People should just tell each other the plain truth all the time and then everything would be much better. This bizarre inexplicable naked boy covered in glowing red water should fucking well explain himself already. (Except that he's already starting to pick up on the way Cir's tone of voice and body language and general reactions all fit together, and realize that he can't, that he doesn't speak the language. That is, if anything, even more confusing, but he's less mad at Cir in particular about it.)
Aaaaah he has been picked up and now this is a very different situation entirely and -
- and he loves him, it pours out of him as automatic as breath, and he would really like to make sense for him but doesn't know how, this certainly isn't going to make him any less confusing to Siurek -
So the first thing that happens is that Siurek drops him, mostly without meaning to, out of pure startlement.
Then he stares down at him for a moment (processing the fact that the scary part was over for Cir as soon as they touched, which is not normally how these things go—trying and failing to process the experience of being loved, because he's never had it before—) with confusion and impatience and confusion and concern and protectiveness and confusion all chasing each other in circles around his face,
and then he makes a decision (to believe that experience, to believe the image of Cir as it's being presented to him, as a small scared stranger who doesn't speak Eivarne and loves at a touch, as not-a-threat) and picks him up again, much more gently, and turns and carries him down the hall.
"You're a mystery," he says conversationally, not really expecting at this point that Cir will understand, but hoping to do some amount of communication through tone of voice. If nothing else, maybe reassure him of the shift in Siurek's intentions from the predator's instinct to chase fleeing prey into something more companionable. (It's good when people know his intentions toward them. People should be scared when he might do scary things to them, and not when he won't. It's good to be understood.)
Cir curls up against him, nods agreeably at the statement that he is a mystery because he is very sure that whatever Siurek just said was accurate even if he isn't clear on the particulars, and sighs. He is not scared anymore. Well, not of Siurek, the surrounding situation is still alarming.
"...it's very weird how not scared of me you are. I guess it makes sense, under the circumstances. Still very weird."
He rounds a corner and walks into an excessively opulent sitting room and glances thoughtfully around at the excessively opulent furniture and sets Cir down in an excessively opulent armchair and (doesn't want to let go, but, for practical purposes—) crosses the room to open a wardrobe and gesture at its contents. "You can borrow my clothes, no point letting you catch a chill—oh, probably I should do something about how wet you are first—" He ducks into an adjoining room and emerges shortly with a towel, which he tosses over Cir. It rather engulfs him.
(He's doing a lot of thinking about things in terms of practicalities without leaving himself room to acknowledge that he might also care whether Cir is comfortable.)
Cir dries himself off with the enormous towel; the water stops glowing red when it's on the towel and not him. He investigates the wardrobe for anything that might fit him.
It's all made for Siurek, who is pretty tall and broad-shouldered. Cir will look a little silly in whatever he picks but can at least be assured that none of it will be too small.
Siurek sits down in a different comfy armchair and watches Cir, trying to figure out what on earth is up with him and not having much success because there is really very little to go on.
Cir puts on something that is way too long on him but spares him the indignity of trying to roll up the cuffs on Siruek's pants. He looks for gloves, a little, but when they aren't immediately in evidence he shrugs and goes to sit on Siruek's lap.
The feeling of being loved is nice, but even when he wraps his arms around Cir and closes his eyes and tries to just enjoy it, he can't quite let it be. It doesn't make sense. Logically speaking, it's bizarre for someone to love him.
"But you can't explain," he sighs, absently petting Cir's hair, "because you don't speak Eivarne. Which is its own separate helping of weird. Ugh, I'm going to have to get Nirue to help. I don't want her going near you, she'll break you somehow and then I'll never figure this out." (And, also, if she hurts Cir then Cir will be hurt, but he is not entirely ready to face the concept that he might be unhappy about that for its own sake.)
Oh dear, even without knowing precisely what is wrong this is anxiety-inducing.
"Mm? Did I scare you again?" Pet pet. "How much do you understand me? I'd have thought that would all be noise to you. Is it because I was annoyed? I don't think you get scared every time I'm annoyed..."
Cir super cannot explain! He can... uh... reassuringly clonk his forehead into Siurek's shoulder?
That's not very helpful but it is kind of cute. He shall be rewarded with snugs.
(Siurek also feels pretty rewarded by these snugs, but he is Not Examining This. If he thinks about it in purely physical terms, the concrete sensory experience of having a body and doing pleasant things with it—and he does very much like having a body and doing pleasant things with it—then he can avoid contemplating whether he might, in fact, be enjoying cozy affectionate snuggles, for cozy affectionate reasons.)
Cir might attempt to explain if they had literally any words in common!
Eventually he sits up a bit and points at himself. "Cir."
Oh, that's reasonable of him. "Cir," he echoes, with a decent attempt at getting the pronunciation right; and then he points to himself and says, "Siurek."
"Siurek," echoes Cir.
"And now we know each other's names, I guess." He sighs. Less annoyed about it this time, more just kind of tired, he says, "I should really go pester Nirue about figuring out how to make you speak Eivarne." (There is so much unacknowledged protective concern going on under the surface of this sentence. So much.)
"- I don't know what you're proposing to do but it's making you scared for me and you could just not, I think -"
"—see, there's that again—you can tell what I'm feeling, or something, can't you. More than you should be able to." This is sort of consternating but not in a way that is Cir's fault. "I wish you could just talk to me. If I knew how to make that happen without involving her, I would!" Because Cir is
cute and should be protected an intriguing mystery who is very good to hold in one's lap and pet and Siurek saw him first and has dibs. Also it makes Siurek uncomfortable to be reminded that he holds no actual power over Nirue and can only get what he wants from her by convincing her to give it to him.
...Cir helpfully picks up the nearest object, which is the hem of his borrowed outfit. "What's this called? I can just try to learn your languauge..."
"—what, really? All right, fine. I hope you're better at languages than I am."
He can name the parts of the outfit, and any other vocabulary Cir thinks to ask for, and after about two minutes of this he has had Too Much sitting still interacting with abstractions and has to get up and pace around the room— "it's not you, it's just I hate sitting still—" but if Cir doesn't mind being taught languages under these conditions they can totally keep going while Siurek paces back and forth
and occasionally gets the impulse to dance but then doesn't because it would be undignified.
Cir is not all THAT good at languages but he is very motivated because whatever Siurek is scared-for-him about must be really bad! He does not take offense to Siurek getting up. He does tilt his head at the suppressed dancing impulse. Gets up and spins around himself.
It takes him a second to notice what just happened—to notice that he was thinking about dancing, and then Cir got up and twirled—and then he stops in his tracks and looks at him with puzzled suspicion.
They still don't have enough common language for him to ask any of the questions that are on his mind, not and have a hope of understanding the answers, but—it's clear that Cir is getting more than just a sense of what he's feeling. He wants to know more, and it's so frustrating that he can't just ask, and—
He takes Cir's hand and says, "Dance with me," and starts leading him. Nothing super complex to start off with, the point isn't to make him fall over, the point is to—see how far he can follow—see how well he tracks what Siurek is thinking and feeling and intending, how well he understands the cues for dances he can't possibly ever have learned.
(He does not at all notice how good for him it is to be doing this. He does not at all notice how being able to focus on his body and senses and immerse himself in kinesthetic experience makes him calmer and steadier and happier, how the flow of movement makes the whole world seem smoother and brighter and clearer.)