“Of course they might offer new information on the former extension of the ancestral abodes of certain clans. I suspect these cliff-dwellers were not a distinct people--”
“Sit closer to the fire,” Strange told him. “That wind is like a knife.”
“I’m boiling as it is.” Aleister smiled widely, eyes shadowy, his teeth very white in the firelight. “Do you know what this night is, Val?”
“I know you’ll tell me, Master Sticks and Stones.”
If Aleister fell ill, really ill, Strange would be able to do little for him. And the thought of losing Aleister was frankly unbearable. He had been fond of him for some time, of course. He had expected that his feelings would temper, ease into a more casual affection, but if anything they had grown more fierce, more intense. It was painful to care this much, for theirs was often a hand-to-mouth existence, and death could reach out to grab one or the other at any moment. If something--any harm came to Aleister--
They ate their cakes and passed Strange’s flask back and forth. Now and again their companionable silence was broken by one of those long, mournful howls that seemed to issue from behind the giant, silver moon.
“You’re cold, whether you know it or not. Come here,” Strange said holding up his cape, and Aleister gave him an indulgent look and scooted over into the circle of his arm. He leaned against Strange’s shoulder. His lean, hard body was a warm weight down the length of Strange’s.
“Spring is coming,” he informed Strange, wiping the last pink stickiness from his fingers.
And only the entire winter still to get through. But Strange did not say that. He said, “Yes. Happy Solstice.”
“Happy Solstice, Val.”
“Those were the best cakes I ever ate in my life,” Strange said.
Aleister smiled and tilted his head to rest against Strange’s.