Hive

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hive
hʌɪv/
noun
a place in which people are busily occupied.

On the tenth night of the freighter journey, Furey disappeared off to do whatever it was she did when she wasn't in the room with us. Scouting for food, talking to the crew - I didn't care.

The lights were down low. Marv was lying on his back on his sleeping bag, looking at an atlas Furey had acquired from somewhere. I had changed into a loose t-shirt and baggy trousers, which I did every night even though registering the time of day seemed a little pointless when you were stuck in a metal room with no windows. Routine stops me becoming crazy Kay, though, so it's good for everyone.

I flopped down next to Marv, on his sleeping bag, lying parallel to him with my head propped up on one elbow. His hair was particularly flyaway, all sharp, amber tufts that clumped together and ended up looking like a fire frozen in time. His skin was a deep red and had a crystalline shine to its surface from some angles, depending on where the light was coming from. Almost like granite, if that even makes sense. His jawline cut down from his cheekbones to his pointed chin. I'd always thought thermals had something of a cartoon look, like they'd fallen out of the pages of a comic. It's why I'd started talking to Marv in the Black Jasmine in the first place. I'd always been drawn to thermals.

"Hello," he said, not looking over.

"Hi," I said. "Good book?"

"It's got pretty pictures."

"Those are maps."

"Still pictures."

"You ever wonder where Furey goes?"

"Nope."

"She's always gone for at least an hour..."

"Why are you talking in a sexy voice, Kay?" He still didn't look over at me.

I hadn't even meant to put on a voice. It just happened. Excruciating. It probably wasn't even the right voice. Whenever I go for mysteriously alluring I end up going full-on porno actress. And I'm not talking a good actress. Either that, or it doesn't work at all and the guy doesn't even notice. Basically, I'm crap at this. Cut me some slack.

"Maybe," I tried, "this is my normal voice and I've been pretending to be disinterested this whole time?"

Now he looked round. "You're not that clever."

"Gee, thanks."

"But you are very, very cute."

"I am?" Like I said, I'm not an expert. "I mean: I am! There should have been an exclamation mark on the end there, not a question mark."

"You know how I can't read squamata easily? Because you absorb the heat of your surroundings more than most people?"

"Right." I kinda wanted to run out of the room and jump over the side of the ship.

"I can still get major shifts in temperature."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. You're looking pretty hot."

I looked into his eyes. He looked into mine.

And then I fucking woke up, and it was the last day of the freighter journey, and none of that had gone down, and the entire month had gone past with nothing of interest to report other than my slightly pathetic dreams. Man. I mean, when you're on the run, and with a boy - and I think you'll agree he is pretty awesome - surely it's not too much to expect something to happen? I mean, we met in a club.

Maybe it was me.

Whatever.

Furey led us out of the room. I was wrapped up in the dress/shawl/robe/veil thing, which meant I could hardly see where I was going through the mesh. The room we'd stayed in had been air conditioned to some degree, but as soon as we started moving through the inner doors the air started to thicken and the heat began to rise. By the time Furey spun the last wheel and we emerged out onto the deck I was already overheating. I'd never been out of the country back on Locque - I'd only left Perlyn on a couple of school trips, as holidays weren't really something my family had ever done. The climate was pretty moderate most of the time, which meant I was totally unprepared for this Hong Kong place. It felt almost like swimming, as if the air itself had condensed and had started to become a liquid.

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