Part 33 High Places

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I hailed Tyee. I like doing things with you. Wulfie and Shewolf are fun, but it's not the same as really being with you. If I'm not imposing, uh.

Sink it all! I was getting tongue-tied. I powered onward in a rush of words. Would you mind if you came on a walk with me? I'm supposed to exercise every day. That's what Healthwyv Jamako told me, and I can't go for a walk alone. It's not safe. I'll ask Captain Alop to send someone, but I want to go walking with you. I held my breath, waiting for his answer.

Whenever you want, he said.

I let out my breath and sent, I'd like to go now, if that's all right.

When he came walking up the lane, I merged with Wulfie, peered out of his pocket, and we woofed a greeting.

"Hello. See you soon." He patted Wulfie. We licked his finger, sampling the tang of sweat and brine.

Throwing on my parka, I went out to the foyer. Passed the door to the meeting room, I smiled at Gagnon. "I'm going out, but not alone."

Free, I hurried out to the lane and flung myself into his arms. Nuzzling his beard, I enjoyed his scent with my human nose, his musk not as rich and deep as it would be to Wulfie's nose, but still a rich mélange. I've been with Wulfie so long such smells interest me.

"Where do you want to go?" he asked.

"Where ever you want. The best parts of Fennako City. Your favorite places."

He shifted his weight.

"Is something wrong?"

His fingers stole to his scalp and rubbed at his scars. "I haven't been there, not since it happened."

"Since what happened?"

Without answering, he said, "My favorite place? On the backside of the island there's a cliff."

I slipped my hand into his. "Why haven't you been there?"

"Because—" His brow furrowed. "Well...I had an ornithopter, a robotic bird. The updrafts are best by that cliff. A lot of boys went there."

"You don't have to show it to me." I took his other hand, squeezed it, and smiled up at him.

"But I think I want to show you."

"Oh good." Shivering with pleasure, I tucked myself under his arm, a perfect fit, no more problems with the size difference between a small wolf telechiric and my favorite man.

We climbed uphill behind the embassy. Footbridges led to other islands. Pedestrians strolled, some quickly as if on business, others at a leisurely pace. Gravel crunched under our feet as we followed a path between trees, silver trunked or with dark green needles, their roots covered with dense moss studded with low plants and clusters of red berries. I longed to smell the ground and feel it with Wulfie's toes, but I'd resolved to leave her dormant. Instead I broke a sprig of needles from a tree and satisfied myself with the pungency of spruce.

"I think it's this way. The brush has grown." Pushing into the bushes, Tyee held back branches for me. I followed.

As we walked, I swept my fingers against leaves and pinched off a fragment of bracken, ferns smelling like asparagus. Blue spheres of fruit hung from spindly bushes with oval leaves. Huckleberries?

The brush thinned out until we came to a ridge. The moss continued, completely covering broken logs and stumps, transforming them into green mounds, almost like the azurehyphus of New Voden.

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