"I should have known I'd find you here."
Eiran looked up from his work, frowning thoughtfully at the remnant on the other side of the counter. Dark hair, dark eyes, sharp features, as most made by the god of light sported, which, in the neighborhood of Praecidia Luxor, meant that they could have easily been just a face in the crowd. That is, if there had been one. The market hadn't even opened yet - he had only just started setting up his stall. And despite how clearly they seemed to recognize him…Eiran had no idea who they were. He might have felt guilty about that once, years ago. Not so, these days, with so many patients having come into, and out of, his care.
His comfort with forgetting former patients, however, did not make it any easier to talk to the ones that remembered him. So instead, he waited for them to continue while he finished arranging the small linen bags of medicinal herbs that he'd been working with before into a neat little pile on the tray in front of him. The task was soon done, and since they still had not elected to speak, he did his best to suppress his nerves, continuing to wait while he pushed the tray to the side and set a glass dome on top of it, to help keep the freshness and the scent of the tea bags within. Only then did he relent, looking back up at them with a smile and a fervent hope that they didn't think him rude for trying to let them state their business first. "Good morning! I am glad that you think of me highly enough to seek me out, but…I'm afraid I won't be open for a few more hours. If you needed something specific, though, I could-"
"I'm not here to shop." Uh oh. Eiran's smile tightened at their words. "I'm here to see you." They leaned further across the counter, eyes narrowing, and at this point the alarm bells in his head were deafening. "...Do...do you not remember me? Inga? It's only been a few months!"
And there it was. Eiran slumped a little, his smile fading. "I…No. No, I don't." Better to admit to the act at this point. "I'm terribly sorry. I've met with a lot of patients since then, you see, and…"
Inga sighed and crossed their arms. "No wonder my letters have gone unanswered."
Eiran winced. "Ah, that...would be because I haven't been home."
They frowned. "...It's been months."
"And I have much to do. I'm very sorry, I hope nothing important was in them…"
His pained smile softened their expression, just a little. Inga sighed, slipping back into what looked like a more relaxed posture. "No…just some life updates. I thought you'd be interested in hearing them, since you welcomed me to Prae yourself, but…nothing I can't share with you now, I guess."
Eiran blinked. "Oh! Yes, of course!" He flashed them another smile as he turned to grab some more stock to set out. "As long as you don't mind me continuing to set up shop here while I listen. I always love to hear what those I've helped have gone on to do, I so rarely get to."
Inga gave him a smile of their own, leaning on his stall a little more conversationally this time. "Works for me. I'll start with the biggest one, then. I've decided to join the Runners. Six's team, if I can get there."
"Relax, I know. I've heard the tales already." They laughed, jerking their thumb toward the snow-covered domed roof in the distance. Even as far as this market was from the governing sector of Luxor, the headquarters of the Void Runners was hard to miss, large as it was. "I spend a lot of time over there. They always need volunteers, and I needed some sort of purpose, so it worked well. Meant I heard a lot of rumors, too!" They grinned, revealing a row of jagged teeth. "It sounds exciting. At least, it beats being stuck on a glacier in the sun forever."
Eiran laughed at that. Funny how so many of the young Runners he'd met here had shared a similar sentiment. Though, their frustrations were usually because they weren't Luxor natives, and there was some camaraderie there, between them and a remnant of darkness, so far out of his element. He felt for them, too. It was hard to train for a job like that in the cold, even if it suited him personally. "Well, I wish you the best of luck. It's a noble job, and perhaps having you at her side will do something for Six's attitude. I cannot tell you how often she's tried to ask me to join her team." He smiled fondly at the memory even as he arranged ointments and medicines in neat little rows. "She still doesn't quite accept that I'm happy like this. I've found my place."
Inga sighed and looked away. "...Wish I could say the same."
He paused halfway through turning to grab more stock, a thread of recollection finally coming to him. "...Ah, I see. I think I remember now!" He faced them again with a smile on his face. "I remember telling you that you might find your answer one day. As to why you were here, yes?"
"Mm. Yeah, and it's not done much for me, I'm afraid." They didn't return the smile this time. "I know why I'm here. I'm only half-made. The others pity me, a selkie without a coat. What good am I!?"
Eiran stepped back reflexively at her outburst. "I…I'm so sorry…"
Inga paused for a moment to breathe...and then shook their head. "Sorry. It's...still a tochy subject. You could not have known. But that doesn't change that I feel trapped under glass here, just like that tea there. At least the Flux Edge cares not for what I am or what I lack."
"Six would find some common ground with you, I'm sure." Now it was his turn to lean on his counter. "It's better for her to tell her tales, but…this is one thing we agree on. The weight of others' feelings and expectations is heavier than most realize. It makes sense that we'd want to escape that, and personally? I feel it's healthy to do so. As long as you don't choose your path blindly, just to flee." He beckoned Inga over to the dome of tea, and when they leaned in, reached over to the dome and lifted it, just a little. A powerful scent came from beneath, spicy and flowery all at once, almost overpowering. "...Sometimes, we need to be under glass, just a little, just enough. To keep us at our best," he murmured.
He smiled at her. "The god's answer to why you were put here doesn't matter, not really. Nor does any of what the others might say. You are here regardless of their opinions, and it's up to you now to decide what that means. I only hope that being a Runner, or whatever you choose to do, lets you make your own answer, one that actually satisfies you." He removed a tea bag from the stack, placing it carefully within a jar he pulled from his extra supplies beneath the counter before holding it out to the young remnant. "Here. May it remind you of that when you need it. I know you didn't ask for advice, but...that's what I offer you anyways. It's what I wish I someone would have told me when I was in your position."
Inga hummed. "...Thanks. I think." After some hesitation, they plucked the little jar from his fingers, holding it in both hands as though it might escape. "...I should let you get to work. I have to report to the office soon anyways. Said I'd be there today."
Eiran nodded. "Any time. I only wish I had more to offer. Good luck, Inga. If you ever need to chat or have an injury that needs examining, the Runners know me well. They can tell you where to find me."
"Good to know." Inga grinned and gave him a wave before she turned away. The last thing she heard as she jogged through the snow towards the great dome of the Void Runner headquarters, and maybe, her future, was Eiran calling after her from where he watched from his stall.
"I hope you have some stories for me the next time we meet!"