It is when a thin strip of sunlight comes to cut the darkness in two within the cave, that Tobias finally rouses.
Just as Lir had feared, his mentor truly doesn’t remember a moment from their previous night together.
“It’s funny.” Tobias clears his throat. He rises to his feet and gathers their belongings. “I can’t recall falling asleep, nor ever napping this deeply… aside from when I was a child.” His laugher is casual. His palm is hooked around the back of his neck. “Lir,” Lir’s name rolls off his tongue in a manner the young man finds quite satisfying for reasons he would rather ignore. “Are you all right?”
Lir is tempted to tell his mentor the truth. To speak of all that was spoken of last night, and of the small vial that weighs down his pocket. It wouldn’t be right though. He promised Dorian he wouldn’t, and Lir intends on keeping his word—not out of fear, but out of respect for Dorian, and their exchange. “I couldn’t sleep much,” he tells Tobias. “The storm was loud. But I’m fine. Don’t worry.”
Tobias pauses in the midst of slinging his bag over his shoulder. He glances up at Lir. A piece of his long ponytail brushes against the edge of his jaw. “No new symptoms?”
Lir walks past him. He’s much more stable on his legs now; it is something he is thankful for. “Stop worrying.”
Another laugh. It’s lighter this time, and Lir can appreciate that. “You cannot ask me this when you know very well I am the worrier type,” his mentor mutters.
Upon reaching the cave’s edge, Lir grins at the sight of the broad horizon that spans out before them—an orange sunrise, inhabited by the spread wings of gulls as they fly above the ocean. “Let’s just go, Tobias,” he mumbles. “Before another storm marks the end of us.” In reality, Lir cares little for the weather—at least, not as much as he implies. He is scared Tobias will ask questions, and that, by remaining here, his mentor could potentially figure out what truly happened yesterday.
And Lir wishes to wash away the Halloran’s warnings, too.
He doesn’t want to remember the foul sayings, Dorian’s claimed about humankind’s nature—it is beginning to carve another type of wound into his skin, invisible to the touch, the eye, though not to Lir.
They set off.
Lir does his best to focus on everything but the question burned into the back of his skull. What if, one day, he will have to leave Tobias behind? Could he handle it, never seeing the man again for the rest of his life—when it had already felt as if many parts of him had died whilst they’d been apart for the first time?
Tobias’s hand finds his shoulder. “Hey,” he says. “I hope you’ll be able to sleep tonight.”
Lir nods. “Yeah.”
He ignores the blush creeping up his neck.