Forty-five minutes later, the slow sunrise found them sitting at the end of an empty dock that protruded out over the Murkintir River with their legs dangling over the water, Seymour licking grease off of his fingers with his flat, purple tongue.
“Feeling better?” Henry asked him.
“Much.” He stretched his arms over his head, arched his back, and yawned. “Still could have done with another three to four more hours of sleep, but there’s no point in that now. We ought to get you back to your lodgings before anyone notices you were gone.”
“We can wait here a few minutes more. I like this. It’s a bit like an adventure.”
“Well, this is all new to me.”
Seymour nodded vacantly, leaning back on the palms of his hands. It was nice here, he had to admit. A bit chilly. Pretty, though, in the sunrise. Prettier than it normally was. The early morning light sparkled on the river, rippling sheets of white gold hiding its normal muddy brown. Romantic. Well, almost. The lighting, of course, did nothing to conceal the vague odors of sewage and rotting fish that emanated from the water.
“It’s been a while,” said Seymour.
“Since I’ve been to this part of the city. I grew up near here, but I haven’t been back in some time.”
“No real reason to, I guess.” He looked up at the faded orange sky. “No reason but to dwell on the past, and even I know nothing good will come of that. Anyway, I’m afraid I might run into someone who knew me when I was fifteen.”
“Were you awful?”
“Put it this way: Next to fifteen-year-old me, I look like a pleasant, polite, altogether upstanding citizen. It’s a wonder anyone put up with me. And yet…”
Henry angled his head towards him. “And yet?”
“And yet, somehow, there were people who loved me then, and no one who loves me now.”
“That can’t be true.”
Seymour shook his head slowly.
“In fact,” said Henry, his face reddening. “It isn’t true. Because I love you.”
With a sigh, Seymour closed his eyes and leaned backwards onto the dock. “It’s a bit early for that kind of talk, Henry. We’ve known each other for slightly over ten hours.”
“Then you don’t have feelings for me?”
“If by ‘feelings’ you mean ‘love’, then no. I don’t love you. That isn’t to say that I couldn’t at some point. Just not right now. Not for a while.”
“But don’t feel bad about it, or anything. If you really think you love me, well, that’s a nice thing to know.” He laced his fingers together behind his head to keep from resting it on the hard, splintery dock. “Just don’t mistake sexual attraction for love. Nothing good ever comes of that, let me tell you.”
Henry was silent. After a moment, Seymour opened his eyes and propped himself up on his elbows to look up at him. The mage was hiding his face in his hands.
“Henry?” He paused. “I’m sorry. Did I hurt you?”
Avoiding eye contact, Henry got to his feet and began to wander back along the dock. Lupe scrabbled up after him, claws clicking on the wood.
“I’m ready to go now,” he said, halting a few paces away.
Seymour started to get up.
“No,” Henry said. “I can find my own way, thank you.”
The detective settled himself back down on the end of the dock. “I’ll see you at noon, then.”
With a terse nod, Henry resumed his walk.
He stopped. “What?”
“I warned you, didn’t I?” said Seymour over his shoulder.
“Warned me about what?”
“That I’m not a good person. Did you not believe me?”
Wordlessly, Henry set off once again.
“Thanks for the fish.”
“Anytime, Seymour,” he said, his voice barely audible over the sound of the waking city. “Anytime.”