Chapter Fifteen: Tibo
Friends & Relations
“Watch it, jackass!”
“Oh, I am sorry,” the nisse said in heavily accented English. “You are so small. I did not see you.”
Rolly caught him around the waist and turned him forward before Tibo had a chance to go after the grinning jackass. “Inconspicuous. I know it’s a big word, but I think you can manage one.”
“Oh, fuck you, McFarland.” Tibo muttered the words, though, too tired and queasy still to muster up much fight.
“You are small. Nothing wrong there. Come on, you’re adorable.”
Tibo rolled his eyes. “Rolls, I swear, something I don’t know whether I want to kick you or kiss you.”
Oh, shit. I didn’t just say that. Yes, I did. Oh, shit shit shit.
Rolly was giving him an odd look, but he just shook his head and followed Eoin up the street. The selkie captain had what Rolly called a “Rabbit-style herd of friends and relations” on this side of the channel who might be willing to help. A pod might have been more accurate than a herd. Maybe. Although the fictional Rabbit wasn’t a selkie. He was a rabbit.
“Gods, I’m tired.”
Eoin introduced them to a beautiful nymph, Nyla, who lived in a campervan outside of town and had agreed to drive them to Zurich since she had friends there. When they reached the city, another relation by marriage, a lake nymph, had a house near Lake Zurich she was willing to lend them since she was out of town.
Tibo saw the sense in all of this—avoiding public transportation and hotels, but…
He pulled Rolly aside. “Who are all these people? Can we trust them? How can we trust them?”
“Oh, now you’re after getting paranoid. I guess I can’t say you never learn.” Rolly cracked his neck, twice, a sure sign he was trying to smooth out his aggravation. “Ti, these are my family’s people. The extended bits of my clan. It’s hard to explain and I know you’re thinking things about entitled rich banshee brats, but it’s more than that. These aren’t employees or servants. This is how a banshee clan works. Mutual assistance. Bringing people into the fold. Should I trust all of them? No. I’m not that much of a feckin’ fool. But if Eoin says someone’s top shelf, they are.”
Nyla, with her green-tinted skin and her hundred piercings, set them up in the back of her camper in a foldout bed. “Do you drive? Rolly drives, I know. But we could take the shifts. It is easier.”
Rolly was already pulling off his shoes and socks, not even trying to hide a yawn. “You don’t want Tibo driving. I’m serious. I don’t think he can reach the pedals and see over the steering wheel at the same time, at any rate.”
“Ah. That is, what is the word, sense? I do not have the attaching things for small drivers.”
“Four, five hours, Nyla. Give me that.” Rolly shucked his shirt and jeans right in front of her, apparently not at all concerned that she stared her fill. He said something in French, she laughed, and went up to the front to drive, pulling the dividing curtain shut behind her.
“What did you say?” Tibo asked as he slipped off his scarf and coat, shivering in the chill of a camper that must have been shut off all night.
“I told her she can look all she wants, but I’m not the right flavor.”
“Ti? Did you mean what you said before?”
Hands aching from cold, Tibo fought to get his boots off. “Before when?”
“What you said about kissing me?”
One and a half boots off, Tibo buried his face in his hands with a groan. “Don’t be an asshole, Rolls. I can’t take the teasing right now. It slipped out.”
“I’m not…” Rolly climbed under the covers with a huff, but he rolled toward Tibo, a hand on his back. “I’m asking. Do you…I’m not even sure what I’m feckin’ asking here, Glent.”
“Rolly, don’t. Please.” If you don’t want me, I’m not going to make it through the night. Just let me keep pretending.
“I watch you,” Rolly said softly. “With all those groupies. I watch you and I smile. And I die a little every time. We’ve been friends a long time. And you know I love you. But if you wanted…”
“Wanted what?” Tibo prompted, half-turned so his hair hid his face, his voice cracking on every other word. “A screw? A pity fuck? Friends with benefits? Cause if that’s all you’re asking, I can’t. I just can’t.”
“Brittle much? Ti, you’re not listening.” Rolly scooted closer and curled around with his head in Tibo’s lap. “I want you to stop bein’ fucked off your head every tour and bangin’ every ass at the top of two legs and…be with me.”
Tibo’s heart clenched with hope and longing, with the bitter realization of stupidly wasted time. “How long have you…? Rolly?”
“Don’t ask that.” It was Rolly’s turn to groan. “You’ll just make us both miserable.”
“Yeah.” Tibo tangled his fingers in the thick auburn fall of Rolly’s hair, his heart stuttering and stammering like it needed a jumpstart. “Me too.”
“So? Do I get a kiss, then? Or are y’gonna just sit there like the gormless ninny you are?”
“I can’t get my boots off with you in my lap!”
Rolly slid farther around so he could face Tibo. “Your boots aren’t attached to your lips as far as I can see.”
He took Tibo’s face between his long, calloused hands, smoothed the stray hair back from his eyes, and kissed him. Somewhere, the camper started up. Somewhere, the wheels began to roll. Somewhere, traffic rushed around them and a seagull cried. But it was all so very far away.