Watching the Lucet stumble over his words was cute, and Lec waited patiently to hear about his people’s dancing customs. They tried to imagine him dancing with his family, but they only had their own people’s stereotypes about the Lucet’s erratic movements to go off of, and they tried to dismiss those. At the suggestion of his dances not being teachable, Lec opened their mouth to protest. All dances could be taught; their mother had taught them many of the moves they knew, and traveling performers had taught them dances from overseas, and even library books had taught them about dance history and form. But Lec bit their tongue, because now was not the time to be close-minded, not when they had someone willing to teach them, someone they would likely be traveling with for a long time. If they really wanted to learn, they would need to let go of their preconceptions about what dancing even meant.
Lec closed their eyes to imagine Issa’s dances. They pictured him surrounded by other red-eyed people, or perhaps animals, gathered together under the forest’s canopy. Did they combine movements from their different forms? Lec thought that dangerous, and the scar on their neck itched at the thought. They were pulled from their thoughts when they felt Issa’s hand on their arm. Lec met Issa’s gaze with a start, and they stumbled into the spotlight with him. Was he inviting them to dance? A blush warmed their cheeks, and they cast an awkward glance around the room, as if an audience had suddenly appeared and was ready to judge them for dancing with a Lucet. It was a ridiculous thought, and they scolded themselves for it and tried to pay attention to what Issa was saying.
If the stage’s wood weren’t so splintered, they might have sparked a flame to replicate the scene he was conveying. They had no instruments to make music, though, and they didn’t even know what kind of instruments Issa’s people used. Even without the music, Lec hoped Issa would show them his dances, impossible as it might have been. With how tense things had been for too long, they could have used the silliness, even if Lec felt weird about blindly dancing the moves of a culture they didn’t understand. But before Issa could talk anymore, they were interrupted by the long, booming groan of a ship finally leaving port.
It was happening. The idea of really leaving Evimaire was dizzying, but Lec tried to dismiss their doubts. They could feel the ship moving beneath their feet, the slight jostling of a thing on water, and they looked to Issa to see how he was handling things. They replied to his question with a nod, and at his suggestion to see their homes off, Lec hopped off the stage and started towards the doors of the room, forgetting the lights they had left on. They would burn themselves out eventually, and the Evimairian didn’t want to miss the goodbyes either.
A huge crowd of passengers was already gathered on the deck by the time Lec and Issa arrived. Lec found themselves wondering about them, about how many were Evimairians like them, or how many were returning home, how many were doing business in other lands, or how many were people as crazy as the two of them, setting out on a journey they may never return from. They led Issa through the crowd and squeezed into a spot against the railing, where they could see the sun reflecting on the droplets of water splashed against their ship. Evimaire was getting further and further away, but they were close enough to still clearly see the people on the docks waving up at them. The rest of the city hardly seemed to notice another ship leaving its port. The thick trees beyond that represented the Lucet forest were just visible in the distance, and Lec wondered if Issa’s family was watching, perhaps as birds or other animals no one would notice. They wished they could have seen Soren again, almost as much as they dreaded seeing the poor boy’s face for what might have been the final time.
As they watched their home shrink on the horizon, Lec felt their breath hitch in their throat. They found Issa’s hand and squeezed it, no matter how it looked to anyone around them. They needed the comfort, and maybe he did too, and out here surrounded by unfamiliarity, they were all they had. Lec was quiet for a long time, thinking too much about the dangers they’d face, and the real possibility of never returning, until their thoughts became too overwhelming. They turned away from the railing, sick not from the rocking of the ship.
They looked to Issa, whose dark eyes were set on the distant shore. “Hey,” they said quietly, “how are you feeling?” They motioned towards the bright clouds, the sparkling water, anywhere but their homes. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it? We’ll be back someday.” They didn’t know if they were talking to Issa or themselves.