'Really, Tayna?' chided Laguna, sitting opposite her on the edge of the coffee table, whilst Will rested on the sofa back.
'It's not my fault,' she argued, her arms crossed, pouting petulantly. 'He just doesn't see what I see, like seeing that Alkimia is strange.'
'But did you have to make this about...us?' she asked. 'I mean, that's not what this is about, is it? Are you and him...alright?'
Tayna arched an eyebrow at her speculatively and shook her head, a smile on her lips. 'It's not what you're thinking,' she said, her tone lightly amused. 'We're not going there again. He's annoyed at one thing, I'm annoyed at another, I don't think it's our week.'
'It's not about...' Laguna trailed off, sounding awkward, and Will caught her glance meaningfully at him.
Tayna shook her head again. 'No...it's about...' she bit her lip, deliberating whether to continue. She leant forward, speaking quietly to Laguna, 'don't tell anybody I told you, I'm not supposed to.'
Then why are you? Will thought to himself bitterly. He still didn't understand the gratification that came from gossip. But Tayna couldn't hear his remark, and continued to speak.
'He's stressed about his sister obviously,' Andrel has a sister? Will remarked again privately, 'and he got a letter saying that his dad tried to break into the house...again.' What? It suddenly dawned on Will how little he knew, or how much Tayna did. Was it too much, though? 'And to make it worse, now he isn't talking to Arlamus.'
'That's nothing new, though,' said Laguna, indifferent to the blatant sibling difficulties.
'Well, I suppose. But I don't think Andrel means it, not deep down, anyway. But lately, Arlamus has become really separated, they used to rarely talk, now they never talk. He told me that Arlamus wants to solve these kidnappings, Andrel doesn't know why, but he thinks maybe it's because of...' Tayna glanced over her shoulder at Will, trying to speak without him hearing, but Will only listened more intently in defiance. '...Carmen.'
'Carmen?' Will asked. Tayna cursed under her breath, turning around to him and trying to act impassive, but she looked clearly worried that he'd heard. 'What about Carmen? Do you know something?'
'Well, uh...' Tayna bit her lip, Will noticed it must have been a nervous habit, and a rather charming one at that. 'Maybe...'
'If she tells you, though, Will,' said Laguna, her voice warning, 'you can't turn into a neurotic big brother, okay?'
Will's brow furrowed, 'err...okay?' He didn't even know how a neurotic big brother behaved.
'Arlamus sort of has a...a thing...for Carmen...'
'A thing?' he asked inquisitively, bordering on being disgusted. It didn't sound like a pleasant thing to have, let alone for his sister. Will felt his palm twitch like a nerve behaving out of control - perhaps this is my "neurotic big brother" manifesting...
'Sort of like a - a -,' Tayna said, searching for the right word,
'A crush,' said Laguna, Tayna nodded in agreement. 'He...he likes her.'
He likes her? So his sister was special enough to be admired? The idea made him both happy and sad, and he tried to put Arlamus and romance together, but the two terms seemed paradoxical. Will imagined Arlamus as sitting in the library on Friday nights, buying stationary not flowers, memorising exam answers not pick-up lines.
'Don't give us that look,' said Laguna suddenly, 'I know that look. My brother Calder pulls it all the time about me and the synchronised swimming team boys.'
Will made a dismissive noise, now uninterested in the girls' conversation about potential scenarios for Arlamus and Carmen as a couple. He picked up his satchel and headed through the wall into the commonroom.