Simon pulled off his boots and tossed them aside, standing, barefoot, in the snow. It melted up between his toes, a most singular, and not entirely unpleasant, sensation. He managed to bear the painful cold for a few moments before he had to begin hopping from foot to foot, kicking out his legs in a comical sort of jig and yelping out a chain of expletives that went something like this:
“Ow! Fuck! Shit-ow-bloody-fucking-ouch-Rezyn-dammit! Ay! Gah!”
Then, abruptly, he stopped. He had caught sight of something, a small, hunched figure on the path. Agony forgotten, he padded towards it, the snow crunching beneath his bare feet.
Seoc raised his head to look at him, and Simon saw that his face was tear-streaked. He crouched down beside him and put an arm around him.
“What’s wrong, Seocan?”
“Did somethin’ stupid,” Seoc replied, teeth chattering.
Simon nodded and wiggled his naked toes. “Me too. Shall we go inside?”
Seoc shook his head. A large snowflake drifted into his face and stuck to the lashes of his left eye. He wiped it off with the back of his hand. “That’s no’ what I meant, Simon. You can go in, if you want ta. I think I’ll stay out here.”
“But you’ll freeze!”
“That’s the point.”
Seoc stared ahead, shivering. “I’m done, Simon. I dinna want ta live any longer.”
“Just because you did something stupid?” Simon demanded. “Listen, brother. If I tried to kill myself every time I committed an act of idiocy, I would be dead infinite times over.”
“I’m no’ your brother.”
“Yes, you are, Seoc. Come inside.”
“Leave me alone, Simon.”
Startled and hurt by the sudden outburst, Simon released him and stumbled to his feet. “But—!”
Seoc bared his teeth in a feral snarl. “Go!”
In a daze, Simon did as he was told, wandering up the steps and through the door.