"Why do you sleep at night?" Hermes had asked, two countries and a forest behind them. "In the dark?"
Kino gripped the throttle as they decelerated around the curve. "So no one else can see our dreams."
"That sounds selfish," Hermes replied. The rest of its remarks were lost to the roar of the river they crossed.
Hermes, so far as either of them knew, did not dream. Perhaps it was jealous of Kino's unconscious, but that was unlikely.
Still, at the first opportunity, Kino made sure that they attended a magic lantern festival.
That was yesterday, here on the outskirts of the dead city.
Hermes fell alseep after fifteen minutes, snores put-put-puttering softly from its tailpipe. Kino watched the full program. Nimya was delayed again. Kino was desperate for the distraction.
Nimya explained what had kept her -- a broken back propeller, two jumped cables, a leaking cabin door. She used the most technical language possible, terms for gears and rotors she herself had invented, and spoke so quickly that her explanation was little more than a rush of wind.
Her flight helmet had not succeeded in flattening her hair. It sprang back, full and heavy, across Kino's palm. Against Kino's closed lips, the pulse in Nimya's throat jumped like a stone over water.
Their reunions were never leisurely. Fingernails scraped skin, teeth slid over flesh, throats stoppered up.
Nimya was the first person who went faster than Kino.
Even in sleep, she was never still, clutching at Kino, wrapping a leg around Kino's knees, mouthing at Kino's shoulder.
In the morning, the sun failed to rise.
The magic lantern show played on, flickering across the enormous walls of the town hall. Foreign armies marched ever onward; lovers parted, their fingers slipping away; assembly lines rolled forward, motorrads shimmying to life.
The last was Hermes's favorite. It didn't even greet Nimya when she trailed her fingers along its handle-bars and said, "Good morning."
Kino washed in the city fountain, the water stinging cold on scrapes and bruises, sloughing through sticky remains of sweat.
The walls around them played a crime drama, rat-a-tat-tat gun fire and bank vaults filling with gas.
When they'd finished breakfast, Nimya rose to leave.
It was not in Kino's nature to ask her to stay. It was not even possible to ask her why she always hurried away. Instead, Kino scratched at his hair and looked down into the dimming embers of the fire.
"Because," Nimya said to unspoken -- unconceived, even -- question. She dropped to one knee, the soft hair there catching the last light of the fire.
She embraced Kino, slipping one hand around Kino's waist, under his loose, flapping shirt.
Hermes whistled and giggled.
"After all," Nimya said into Kino's scalp, "You can't stay, either."
Kino's balance stuttered and he rocked against Nimya's firm side. "Fair enough."
The fog flapped, shredded and broken, behind Nimya's flying machine as it rose into the air.