“<Don’t worry about me. I hate everybody equally,>” Arcus replied flippantly. His eyes gazing out toward the pond, he asked Magnus the first question that popped into his head, wondering if he would regret doing so. “<…what do you think about Meru?>”
“<Meru? The little swimming fox gal?>” Magnus repeated. “<You ever heard of someone who does anything they do with a chip on his shoulder? That’s Meru. She’s plenty attractive, I suppose, but she seems like she’s carrying a bit of baggage. Why these questions all of a sudden? Interested?>”
“<What? Hell, no,>” Arcus replied a bit too defensively. “<She (Arcus didn’t talk much, but when he did, he could be very foulmouthed indeed) hates me – everybody knows that. And I think she’s irritating.>”
“<But deep down, you wonder about her – is that it?>” Magnus asked.
“<Not like she’s anything special or something like that,>” Arcus again defended himself. “<Baggage…what kind of baggage can she have that could possibly be worse than a dead mother?>”
“<Have you ever asked her?>” Magnus questioned as if doing so would require no effort on Arcus’ part.
“<What are you, stupid?>” Arcus shot back. “<There’s no way in hell you can just walk up to somebody and go, ‘I want to hear your life story.’ It just isn’t done.>”
Magnus, for the first time, didn’t answer.
“<You know what? I don’t want to talk about this anymore. Leave me alone,>” Arcus said, laying down on the grass – a clear signal that the conversation was indeed over.
“<Suit yourself,>” Magnus replied, walking away. Arcus growled to himself. Being around all these weaklings must have made him soft. That was it. He tore his eyes away from the pond and began to close them in slumber.