“You reek of pain.”
“What?” The Owl blinked at him through the steam rising from his mug. His sharp green eyes caught the Wolf like a gorgon’s gaze.
“That’s how I found you. I could sense your pain.”
“I can still sense it.”
The Owl looked down into his tea. “I… lost something. Some one.” A wave of pain rocked them both.
“Me too,” whispered the Wolf.
“Can you get them back?” The Owl asked quietly.
“Be thankful I found you then.” He raised his mug. “To misery, and good company.”
The Owl stared unblinking for a few moments and then lifted his mug and clinked.
“Now let me look at your arm.”
“Why are you helping me?”
The Owl’s voice tumbled into the dark, plaintive and forlorn, like pebbles into a pool of tears. He lay rigid with his back against the Wolf’s front. The Wolf knew the intimacy bothered the Owl, but he also knew the healing that could be had from being held, especially by someone like the Wolf.
“I told you, I sensed your pain. I could smell it. It buzzed in my head and my nose and my ears.”
“Still, you could’ve left me.”
“You know me well enough by now to know that’s not true.”
The Owl lay in silence for a while. The Wolf shuffled his legs closer to the other boy, and the Owl curled his toes around the Wolf’s.
“What happened to you?”
“What do you mean?”
“You said you lost someone.”
“He… he died.”
“It’s okay.” The Wolf’s voice cracked. “You didn’t do it.”
“You know what I mean.”
The Owl took the Wolf’s hand and drew it over his own chest, tucking it into his armpit next to his heart. The Wolf buried his nose in the nape of the other boy’s neck and eventually slept.