Chapter 24

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"You can . . . let go," Leithan whispered eventually.

Teshin waited a few more moments, to be sure, maybe, then he said, "Okay."

And he pulled away, giving Leithan some space.

After that, Teshin went to fetch some water, for which Leithan was grateful. It made him realize just how desperately thirsty he was.

He sat up on the carpet to drink it, slowly. Watched as Teshin gathered a few more things, setting them on the table next to the oil lamp. A bowl of water, rags, scissors.

Teshin played with the scissors a bit, snipping the empty air, and smiled at Leithan.

"I like these."

Amused, Leithan said, "I can see that."

"I like many Rengleam inventions," Teshin stated.

Then, he sat at the table, seemed to wait for him.

So, Leithan got up slowly, testing his legs. He was still a bit dizzy, from blood loss, maybe. The room spun before it settled. He was really tired, and sore. But otherwise he was all right, kind of.

He sat beside Teshin, setting down his empty glass. The corner of the table separated them.

Not for long.

Teshin casually brought his own chair closer, its legs scraping against wooden boards. He even grabbed Leithan's chair on either side of his thighs, and jerked it slightly to the side so they were properly facing each other.

It startled Leithan, but he said nothing.

Teshin was wielding his scissors.

"What are you doing?" Leithan asked. Then he looked down at his sticky, blood-soaked shirt and answered his own question, "Oh. Um. Could I do it myself?"

Teshin seemed to consider this for a moment, ghost of a smile on his lips. Then he nodded, and gave Leithan the scissors.

Leithan took them. But Teshin wasn't moving.

"Do you think you could, um – could I have some privacy?" Leithan asked, feeling increasingly embarrassed.

Again with that amused air about him, Teshin graciously nodded, and stood. He went to the carpet and crouched, seeming to examine the blood stains.

Leithan had every intention of being very self-assured about this. He would cut open his shirt, clean the mess, and then . . . And then, whatever.

Cross that bridge when you get to it, Leith.

Step one, cut shirt sleeve.

But it didn't quite work out.

Leithan frowned, dismayed, metallic scissors useless in his right hand. Realized, too late, that Teshin had been holding them in his left.

"Are these left-handed scissors?" he asked.

Teshin rose from his crouch, slinked closer, eyes glinting.

"That would make sense. I do favor my left hand. The shaman was kind enough to gift me these," he explained.

"I . . . can't use these," Leithan said. "You don't have another pair, do you?"

"I'm afraid I don't," Teshin said.

If Leith had been embarrassed before, he wasn't sure what he was, now.

Flustered, maybe.

"I guess . . ." Leithan said, handing back the scissors. "If you don't mind?"

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