Tyki dreams now and in them is a house, palatial and sprawling, white on white on white, airy linens and windows that reach from the floor to the ceiling. His steps through the hallways click across marble floors spidered with delicate gray. No matter which room he steps into the sun always tilts in through the glass at an angle that has him shading his eyes to squint across the grounds. He can make out the sharp yellows of the garden, grass and leaves baked lifeless, the pale sands of a play area sheltered by skeletal trees. In the corner of his vision there is a flicker of movement.
If he thinks about it hard enough, the glass he spreads his fingers against shatters in a sudden rush of violence, shards shredding his palms. It hits the floor in keen, quick notes after he plucks it out, his skin sealing together. He steps into the empty air and finds himself outside.
As he passes through the garden, time slows the way it does in the deserts, when there is nothing but arid earth as far as the eye can see. He thinks about the different kinds of eternity; this one, the infinite curve of a cloudless sky. He stops at the tree with the wooden swing hanging from one of its branches.
The flicker again and Tyki's hand shoots out, closes around a thin arm. Allen Walker blinks up at him, indistinct, the light caught in his eyelashes.
Are you afraid? Allen asks solemnly, eyes wide and clear. Tyki thinks about it; he is by nature lazy and this means he is slow to many things: slow to happiness, slow to anger, slow to despair.
No, he answers, but thinks that he could be, if he stayed here long enough.
Allen nods and turns away, seating himself on the swing. Tyki's eyes are drawn to his bare calves, one knee scraped a faint pink, bits of grit stuck in the skin. Allen starts to trace symbols in the sand with his toe, symbols that Tyki should be able to recognize but can't, words and numbers that swim apart in his mind like a heat mirage.
He steps on them as he moves in front of Allen, scuffing them further as he kneels, the swing so low to the ground that his eyes come up even with the middle of Allen's chest. His own chest aches, in a thin line that bisects him, sparks of pain that prickle across his skin. He slides his fingers over Allen's feet, marveling at the contrast of dark on pale, around Allen's ankles, up Allen's calves until he reaches the ratty line of Allen's trousers. He brushes the grit on Allen's knee away carefully, pressing his lips to it after.
I'm tired, Tyki confesses, and he is, dried-out and bone-weary. He thinks about sliding his hands up the rest of the way, thumbs against Allen's inseams, sinking them inside. It had felt like molasses, easy and sweet, across nerve endings, terror and blood and madness. He doesn't even know if he can do that here.
I know, Allen says kindly. I'm sorry. His leathery left hand brushes across Tyki's lips, into Tyki's hair when Tyki presses his cheek into Allen's lap. But I can't let you go back.
That isn't a real house, Tyki says, meaning the one he just came from. Allen's fingers are cool against his scalp and Tyki closes his eyes, wishing for a place where he could do so and not see the light shining through his eyelids, somewhere where he could lie down in the soothing darkness and finally wake up.