Chapter 65

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Once back inside the Hive, Leithan, on a whim, pushed through the crowd of dancers and found Rami.

He was dancing with Peyton – for a moment Leith didn't recognize her; he'd forgotten she had crimson dye in her hair tonight. It brightened her green eyes, even in dim light. Rami and Peyton were both smiling, their drinks finished, their arms around each other.

Leithan touched Rami on the shoulder.

Rami spun and smiled at him. "Hey! What's up?"

"I want to do the song," Leithan said. "Are you too drunk to play?"

Rami shrugged. "Probably."

"Still want to try?" Leithan asked, hopeful.

Rami grinned. "Hell yeah!"

The two of them slid past some more dancers before climbing up the stage, and they went to the back of it to get the percussion set. A bass drum, snare drum, and cymbals that Rami had learned to play a few years back, when Darlene had ordered this set from Cheztrian for the Hive.

Rami fetched his two drum sticks from the shadowed corner of the stage and settled behind the set. It wouldn't be the same without Rilien and his guitar but this song was very rhythmic, great for dancing, and Leithan was hoping they could still make it work.

Leithan went to talk to Steba and Koral, who still sat behind their tam-tams. They'd just paused, watching them set up. The dancers were taking a break, ordering drinks at the suddenly overcrowded bar counter.

"Want to stay and play with us? You could follow Rami's lead," Leithan asked them in Yoxai.

At the sound of his name, Rami did a little drum roll, inciting some people in the room to cheer, and making Leithan smile. Koral smiled back, exchanging a look and a nod with Steba. She glanced up at Leithan.

"Yeah, sure. We'll stay," she said.

"Awesome," Leithan said.

His nerves fired up, his heart racing – especially when he glimpsed Teshin watching him from the other side of the room – Leithan moved to stand between Rami and Koral. Clusters of people reappeared near to the stage.

He exchanged a look with Rami, and his friend started to play – a slow, tantalizing beat at first. Then, the rhythm progressively sped up, Koral and Steba experimentally following along with their tam-tams. Leithan's heart pounded faster, and faster as he waited for his cue. And then he started to sing.

Later, he would remember the moment as a blur, as something that happened and was over dizzyingly fast. In the time it takes to snap your fingers.

This one was different from his other songs. The truth was, this past year especially, his lyrics had been somewhat depressing – Rilien and Rami had organized an intervention about it at some point.

But this song was special. Inspiration had struck earlier this week. The lyrics were fun, the melody was catchy, in symbiosis with the drums, and now the tam tams. People danced hesitantly at first, testing the music. But soon, they leapt into it, their dancing became free and passionate, and their energy rushed through Leithan and fed the music in turn. He kept exchanging knowing smiles with Rami. He didn't have enough lyrics for a long song, so he just repeated the chorus a few times instead, with some pauses where he let the drums and tam tams entertain the crowd.

They danced and they cheered as they got familiar with the catchy moments of the song, raising their hands in the air in anticipation. Leithan saw Shay dancing with Quin, and flashed her a smile. Shay grinned, head tilted back, drink in the air.

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