The wind picked up, bristling Brad’s skin. Teyata leaned into him.
“We’re going to have to huddle up for warmth,” she said.
Normally, Brad would have taken it as another excuse for her to sleep with him. A mixture of the chill night and the fact he might fall to his death while he slept, made him inclined to agree with Teyata’s suggestion. They stared at the star filled universe for a long period of companionable silence.
“How do the males of the old world pledge to stay with their females?” Teyata asked.
By her tone, Brad understood the question as innocent.
“You mean marry?”
She gave an absent nod.
“Well the man and the woman stand before God and make promises that they will stay together. Then the man and woman give each other a ring to wear for life.”
Teyata screwed her face. “Is that all? Male manines have to give their females a basp nest. It proves their bravery, and how much they want the female because sometimes the basps sting the males to death.”
Brad imagined a basp was a merge mutation of bee and wasp. He shuddered at the mix.
“Did your male give you one of these nests?”
“Yeah. Rorbin had a few stings, but he slept that night without a whimper or using the kanallis flower.”
“So you’re divorced now?”
It seemed she merely left Rorbin, but then it amounted to a divorce. Without a formal ceremony for their union, she didn’t need one to break away from her male.
Brad placed an arm around her and drew her tighter to himself.
Lisa watched for a time as they held each in silence, watching the night sky. She would have fast forwarded, except she absorbed the serenity that came from their companionship. After a time, she too began to nod off in her chair, succumbing to dreamless slumber.
Lisa awoke with a jolt, half sliding from her chair.
“Ow,” she said feebly, straightening her neck. “What time is it?”
“Five-o-two am, Professor Gudgeon,” said the computer.
She checked the corner of the still running projection scene. It’s orange numbers indicated virtually the same time. Teyata and Brad, laid huddled together on top of the bridge’s span, still sleeping. Only Brad shivered.
Lisa laughed to herself. If she experienced pain from sleeping in a chair, Brad would certainly feel it after waking up from sleeping tightly curled on cold iron. The projection’s night sky had faded, taking with it, the stars. They would wake up soon. Instead of pausing the scene, Lisa went into her kitchenette to make a coffee then returned in time to see Teyata stir.
Teyata fluidly rolled to her feet, disturbing Brad. He awoke with a loud grunt, cut off by Teyata’s hand slapped over his face.
“Never make noise before you’ve checked your surroundings,” she whispered close to his ear. “The first to make a noise is the first one discovered.”
Brad stifled his groans as he set his hands to the girders and rolled himself over to rise on his knees. Like Teyata, he watched in silence for anything untoward. He knelt almost back to back, facing the way back to his town, while his companion faced the road from where they came.