Chapter 55

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"Seriously, though," Leithan said, "I have no intention of betraying your trust. I'll do everything I can to stop that stupid project. The world can survive without another coffee farm. But it would be a much sadder world without . . . the Yoxai people in it."

Or without you in it.

Teshin smiled, an amused glint in his eyes, as if he could somehow read Leithan's thoughts.

"I also think that the world would be a much sadder place without . . . the Rengleam people, in it."

Leithan laughed, shaking his head in disbelief, glancing away.

"What?" Teshin asked with affected innocence.

"Nothing, Tesh. Nothing."

You're going to be the death of me, that's all.

After a few moments filled with nothing but wild gusts of wind, Teshin asked him, "Do you mind if we lie down?"

He sounded tired. Leithan realized he was quite weary himself.

"Let's do that."

Leithan drew the blanket from his shoulders and gave it to Tesh. He rolled back, lying directly on the flat rock. It was cold – Leithan could feel it even through his clothes, and especially through the short hair at the back of his head – but he figured it was better to use the blanket to cover themselves up.

"Let's bring two blankets next time," Leithan said tiredly.

Teshin said nothing. He observed Leithan for some time, like he was thinking about something.

Then, Teshin lay down beside him, on his side, his chin almost touching Leithan's right shoulder. Teshin pulled the blanket over the both of them, Leithan helping him do so, until the thick woolen fabric was up to Teshin's shoulders, and Leithan's chest.

When he saw a shooting star, Leithan smiled. He kept looking at the infinite flecks, wondering if he would glimpse others.

"It is a rare and precious thing," Leithan recited, "when you come out of an experience and you know what kind of world you want to help create."

Teshin stirred. "That's nice. Is it Veya again?"

"Book Six – Silence, Chapter One – Full Circle," Leithan said.

"You know that doesn't mean much to me, right?" Teshin said, amusement on his tone.

Leithan smiled, shrugging. "Force of habit. You reminded me of that one with what you said earlier, about wanting to trust me, and wanting the peaceful solution. I think you're doing the right thing, for what it's worth. I think you're a good person."

"Oh, I don't know about that," Teshin replied, teasing. "Ask me again in a week."

Leithan was about to ask why, then realized Teshin had just stolen his line from yesterday. So Leithan smiled and didn't reply.

"You're missing the shooting stars," he told Teshin instead.

"I don't care, I'm tired," Teshin said in a small voice.

"Okay," Leithan said.

Then, Teshin pressed himself closer. "Is this all right?" he asked.

Before Leithan could answer, Teshin came to rest his head on his chest, eyes closed, face half-hidden under the blanket. He had one arm folded under himself, Leithan could feel it against the side of his chest. Teshin's other arm lay across Leithan's waist, heavy and sleepy.

Without a word, Leithan wrapped his right arm around him, adjusting the blanket as he did. The added warmth certainly felt nice.

Nice was too weak a word, of course.

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