Author’s Note: Just because it’s an option doesn’t make it one that makes anyone happy. It might not be for the best.
“I can think of only one solution to Alvin missing his hive.”
Luna looked up from her coffee, frowning even as she fought a yawn. “I’m not sure I like what I think you’re going to say. You’re going to say that we have to get him back to his hive, but the only way to do that is to tell people he broke the rules and came here, and that’s not a good idea. He’ll be arrested and tortured and—”
“If he told them he was taken here by a vortex, then he would be in no trouble.”
“Do your people generally abduct their food?”
She leaned forward. “Not only that, but you’d be telling them that you’re here. If you did that, even if you escaped from helping him get back to his hive, you’d make it so you could never come back. They’d be watching for you. Hunting you. You can’t do that. They’ll never listen to you. They won’t see what I see—and that is not a monster. Oh, Tynan, you are so much more than your appetite. You have moved and grown and learned to lo—I mean, you feel—and you’re a good person, even if you are a black hole.”
He frowned, but he did want to touch her for some reason. What was it about that sensation that meant so much? Why did it matter? He didn’t understand it. He didn’t know that he ever would. “If he is unhappy, it is not for me to force him to stay. I brought him here. I am responsible for returning him. I must find a way to do that.”
Luna looked out the window, biting her lip. “Isn’t there any way to do it without risking yourself? I don’t want to lose you.”
“If I leave, I will come back to you.”
Her head jerked back to him. “Leave?”
“If we are to get Alvin back, I would have to. The only way to do that is for me to go back to let someone know that Alvin was here, allowing them to take him. That’s what must be done. It will not take long. All I have to do is tell them that someone ended up here, and then they’ll come for him. He can go home.”
“No. No, this is his home. We’re his hive. We can make this work. You don’t have to go.”
He shook his head. “I think I do. Alvin is lonely, and we are not his hive. We’re not his people. If… I have never had a home before, but you have given me one. I just don’t think that you can give one to him, no matter how much you try. He is not the same.”
She closed her eyes. “I know he is different, but there has to be something… You can’t just go.”
“I said I would come back.”
“You know you can’t. They’d look for you. They’d take you away. What you are terrifies them, remember?”
“Luna, are you… crying?”
She shoved her coffee away and rose, heading to the back of the restaurant. He looked down at the table and sighed. He needed to find Alvin again. If Alvin wanted to go home, he would make sure that Alvin got there. He should never have brought the creature here in the first place. It was not right that he had trapped Alvin here.
He started toward the door, but he stopped when he heard Luna’s voice.
He turned back. “I was going to look for Alvin.”
She wiped at her cheek. “Yeah, I—Well, that’s not what I thought, but two things first. One, you have to ask Alvin what he wants. Two, I think even if Alvin wants to go, we should try and make a real effort at making him happy here. If it takes music that vibrates, then we’ll get music. We’ll take him other places. We’ll give him white noise or whatever he needs. We need to try first.”
“I can’t lose you any more than you can lose me. So… we have to try as much as we can first, exhaust all our options. Please.”
He nodded. “Very well.”
She smiled, and once again, he wanted to touch her, but he knew he could not.