Talesin hated gossip. Not only was it generally either simply an exaggeration or outright wrong, it was a tremendous waste of time. He’d heard people talk about him when they thought he was out of earshot. He was mean, they said. He was cold and sarcastic. He hated everyone and everything.

All of these were wrong. He wasn’t mean; though he admitted to a bit of a temper and being moody now and again. He wasn’t cold. He was shy. It took him a long time to open up to people. That didn’t make him cold. He wasn’t sarcastic. He had an ironic wit. He saw the absurd things people said or did and pointed them out. He certainly didn’t hate anything or anybody. Hate was far too strong a word for any feeling people truly felt for people they hardly knew. He was grumpy and that was that.

Now, as he worked on the elemental containment field, he listened with half an ear as other members of the crew gossiped about his fellow mages. The magineer should be doing this, not him. However the magineer was too busy chatting to do his work. Talesin sighed and shook his head, trying to tune out the drivel behind him.

Finally he could bear it no longer and spun to face the rest of the men in the room. “I’m working here,” he snapped. “I don’t care that you think Gwyon is a fluff-for-brains. I don’t care that you think Vivien is hot. I don’t care that you think Math had it coming. I don’t care that you think the captain is going to give Merlian his comeuppance some day. I have work to do and I’m sure you all do too. So do it!”

The men collided with one another a few times in their haste to follow his order and he moaned as he spun back around to continue sealing the containment field. Sometimes, he hated working with normals.

“I understand that you dislike gossip, Talesin,” Merlian said later that day as they headed toward the mess hall to share a drink. “I appreciate that you want to defend the rest of us.”

“But?” Talesin said, eyebrow raised. Merlian shot him a baffled look and he snorted. “Come off it, Ian. You’re going to say more. You appreciate me defending you and you understand that I dislike gossip but I shouldn’t go off on the normals like I did.”

Merlian grinned and waved a hand at the younger man, “You already know that, Tal. Why should I tell you?”

continued here