Chapter 46

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Leithan stepped back inside Roasted, only to come face to face with Teshin. In fact, they nearly bumped into each other.

Teshin smiled. "Hey. I was just leaving."

"I can see that," Leithan replied, not without a hint of disappointment. He thought they'd have a bit more time.

In his arms, cradled to his chest, Teshin held notebook, textbooks and pencils in precarious equilibrium.

"Just – wait a second," Leithan told him.

He went to the booth so he could retrieve his satchel and umbrella, leaning over Shay as he did. She called him rude again. Then, he told his friends that he'd see them later. But before leaving, he thanked Rami for helping with Teshin.

Rami shrugged. "It was kinda fun. Band practice tonight?"

Leithan grinned. "Sure. We need to work on that new song. Same time as last night?"

Rami nodded, and Rilien confirmed, "Works for me."

Rilien, their amateur guitarist, used to date the Hive's hot bartender, and they'd stayed friends and trusted each other. So Rilien had a spare key to the club. On nights when it was closed, they could use the place to practice. Besides, if their band eventually – miraculously – got better, then everyone would be a winner for it.

Leithan ruffled Shay's hair, which, of course, annoyed her to no end. She tried to slap him, but he was too quick, slipping away from her reach.

He met up with Tesh outside, under the awning. Beyond its protection, the torrent was still drilling across rain-darkened cobbles. As a result, there were less shoppers than usual.

Teshin, while still awkwardly holding all his stuff, was trying to reach for something inside his jacket's pocket.

"Here," Leithan told him, opening the satchel, "just drop everything in there."

"But—" Teshin protested.

"It's fine," Leithan said. "Give it back when you can. What was your plan, anyway? Carrying all that stuff in your hands all the way back to Clan of the Raven, in this rain?"

"Fair point," Teshin said, and he carefully slid every item inside the satchel.

Then, Leithan handed it to him, and Teshin hauled it over his shoulder. After that, Teshin's hand went inside his pocket and came back out with rolled twig and matches. Of course.

In fact, he used the last match of the pack to light his joint. Teshin took a deep inhale of the stuff, held it in, then blew it out.

"It seems," Teshin said, observing the empty pack of matches in his hand, "I've run out of these. How unfortunate."

"Should I interpret that as, please, aki, can you buy me some more matches?" Leithan teased in a not-so-great imitation of Teshin's voice.

Teshin grinned, wide enough to show off the canine that stood out from the rest.

Without judgment on his tone, Leithan asked, "Are you addicted to the stuff, or something?"

Teshin shrugged, looking at the joint. "Maybe a little. It relaxes me."

"You seem like a relaxed person, generally," Leithan pointed out.

Teshin frowned, like he was thinking about it. "I'm just good at pretending I am."

"Oh," Leithan said.

He wasn't sure what to say, actually. But he made sure to shelve the information in a corner of his mind, not too far.

"Let's buy you some matches," Leithan said.

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