“Yo, lady boy!”
Danyel dug his fingers into the earth, doing his best to ignore Thomas. There was nothing wrong with being a lady. There was nothing wrong with being a boy. Thomas never failed to put them together with a sneer, aiming them at Danyel. The air was jagged with the boy next door’s hostility, ready to cut and bleed.
“More like the creature next door,” Danyel growled, pulling a fat, orange carrot out of the ground. “Too ugly to be human!”
He glanced over at Dayel, to see if his twin was smiling out of the corner of his mouth, but he wasn’t there.
Why wasn’t Dayel there?
Something queasy fluttered around Danyel’s stomach. He rose to his feet, trying to quell the sensation. He looked across the garden for his brother.
There was no sign of Dayel. There was no one, except for Thomas.
“Too ugly to be human, am I?” Thomas said, smiling, but his small eyes narrowed in anger, almost losing themself in the flesh of his cheeks. He tossed something long, slender, and metal from meaty hand to hand. It gleamed, dazzling Danyel’s eye.
“What’s wrong, lady boy? Never seen a wrench before?” Thomas asked. He brandished it towards Danyel. “Real men use them to tighten things. Or loosen them.” The end was stained with flakes of something reddish. “Some things get twisted and need to be loosened.” He smiled, revealing discolored teeth. “Like that relationship between you and your so-called twin.”
Thomas moved slightly. Something was laying in the grass behind him, something with the same golden curls as Danyel. It should have been a someone, but the figure was laying way too still. Its curls were matted with blood-
“No!” Danyel cried, thrashing himself awake, kicking his twin when he did.
“Nightmares make you so violent,” Dayel grumbled. He turned over to open one sleepy eye, fixing it in a glare at his brother. “Do that again and I’ll kick you out of the bed.”
Danyel sat up and stared at Dayel, whose curls gleamed in the moonlight from the window. The only thing they were dried with was a little sweat.
“You’re alive,” he said. He shivered at the sight of his brother opening his eyes, which had taken on a silvery gleam. The sight of every annoyed wrinkle on his forehead was a relief to see. “I thought Thomas had killed you!”
“He wishes,” Dayel muttered, but his brow smoothed. He studied his twin with narrowed eyes. “It’s far more likely I shall kill him.”
“The only weapon we know how to use is the Dance,” Danyel objected. “It doesn’t work like that.” He wasn’t entirely sure why he should be so certain of this. He, Dayel, and Leiwell had only just begun learning the Dance. According to Map, there was much more to it than a few simple moves with your hands and feet. “You can block his fist, or shove back anything he throws at you, but you can’t try to hurt him yourself.”
“Everything Thomas throws at us, including words, are hurtful.” Dayel uttered the words with merciless flatness. He shut his eyes, not allowing his twin to see whatever glistened within them. “It’s just a matter of time before his own blows strike him down.”
“That ‘wrench’ was a weapon in his hands.” Danyel shut his own eyes and lay back down. “What if it doesn’t have to be?” He turned towards his twin and opened his eye. “What if it loosened something which truly needed it?”
Dayel’s eyelids trembled. His lips twitched. He didn’t know what a wrench was any more than Danyel had. His twin would love to know more, but he’d never ask. Dayel refused to ask questions.
Danyel felt his own lips quirking towards a smile.