With the dawn came light. Not the kind of light that made you want to soak it up, or the kind that woke you up softly, but the kind that blinded you with its radiance. Fortunately, Halley was already up and frying fish for breakfast. Next to him, Cashmere covered her eyes, not ready to start the day.
"Cashmere. You need to get up."
"Do I have to? The sun is such a bright light, and surely we only have a little further to go."
"Yes, but then we have to get through paperwork and find a place to stay before curfew."
Cashmere sat up, pouting. "I hate curfew."
Halley shrugged. "All the homeless people do."
She crossed her arms. "I'm not homeless."
"May as well be. You're small and young, with a small and young guide, and we don't have anyone to go to." He snorted. "And there hasn't be any areas destroyed very recently, so we couldn't even lie."
"Lie? We could never."
"Cashmere. I have been lying since the day I was born. You just have to suck it up and do it."
"But it's wrong!"
"So is being homeless. And hungry. And orphaned."
"Since when do two wrongs make a right?"
Halley narrowed his eyes, then sighed. "Fine. You're right. But we rarely have a choice you know."
"What about the other times? I've seen you lie even when you didn't have to. In fact, I know you've lied to me before."
"When? You don't know that!" he retorted defensively. "I can't believe you would say that."
"Look. I didn't mean to be rude. But I've been with you for weeks, and I can usually tell when you're starting to lie."
"Really?" Halley asked, now very curious.
"Yeah. You twist your finger to the right. If you're twisting to the left, you're probably telling a mostly truth." Cashmere told him cooly. She pointed to the fish. "Are they done yet? I'm starved."
"Are not." Halley said sullenly. He took the pan off the fire, shaking slightly. He couldn't believe that she of all people could tell if he was lying. And by such a tiny sign!
Cashmere, who was usually cheerful and talkative, didn't say anything for the rest of the morning, even once they had started walking. Everything they went by seemed to quiet down, as if there was a tiny Paul Revere riding ahead of them, shouting to be silent. Halley put some distance between them, always walking a little faster or slower than Cashmere.
Halley wasn't confident anymore. If Cashmere could tell he was lying, who else could? The businessmen he stole from? The old women who gave him free food? His greedy father?
Even worse, Cashmere kept stealing worried glances at Halley, as if afraid he would break into a million glass pieces. She wasn't wrong that he was acting differently, and he wasn't entirely ungrateful. Just annoyed she felt like she had to protect him. Halley usually happy to talk to her, telling her stories and teaching her lessons. Now though, he felt like a deflated balloon with no air left, nothing make him seem special.
A while after lunch, Cashmere decided to break the silence. She pulled Halley down to the side of a small river and sat underneath a weeping willow. Halley broke off a piece of bark and put it in his mouth.
"Halley, we should talk."
"About what? There's nothing to talk about."
"But there is. You look like a leaf could give you a black eye. I don't think that's a good thing for either of us. Please, tell me what's wrong."
"I'd rather not."
Cashmere gave him a plaintive look. "Who am I going to tell? You? Please, we're almost there, and I'm going to need help. Without you I'll be dead within fifteen minutes of being in that awful city."
"No buts. Just tell me. Please." Cashmere gave him puppy eyes.
Halley sighed. "Fine. Its just- if you can tell I'm not telling the truth, when you've only been out in the open for a couple weeks, who else can? Most of the people have been dealing with with people like me for years, if not their entire life. And if I can't trust myself, who can I trust?"
Cashmere smiled, and the willow branches swayed in the breeze. "I figured it was something like that. But most of those people don't look as closely as I do, and I'm not as new as you think. I been watching all kinds of people -- unscrupulous, gluttonous, greedy, rude, lazy, scheming, you get the point - my whole life. I'm an 'aristocat,' remember?"
Halley nodded. "You're right. Also, you're not drunk."
Cashmere rolled her eyes. "Right." Becoming serious again, she cupped Halley's hands in hers. "And you can trust me. No matter what."
Halley nodded, then, fully realizing what she had said, blushed and quickly stood up. "We have to get moving now if we want to get to the city before curfew."
Cashmere smirked. "Now that's the Halley I know." She stood up, and followed Halley back to the road, where he had began to almost run. She laughed at his sudden eagerness to change the topic. "Race you to the city gates?" she asked, calling after him.
"You're on!" And with that, they both took off, racing towards the sun.