“Shoot,” he says, the lazy son, the clever one. “I’ll wrassle ya, if you’re so het up about it.”

The stranger grins in that inhumanly beautiful way they had, and they drop into a wrassler’s crouch, hands held out like there was an invisible beer bottle in ‘em, as if to say, watch out for broken glass. Heelgripper, he pops a similar squat and they circle each other in the fading firelight, serious enough but also friendly. Nobody’s after grievous bodily harm, but it wouldn’t be the first time a body left a friendly wrassle permanently the worse for wear, nor the last; he might be a jackass with more lip than sense, but he’s not a fool. His time in exile has beaten some of his early bad habits out of him; his life in the hills has left him rich, strong, and be-sonned.

He gives as good as he gets, least for the first few hours, but the stranger keeps grinning that immobile, inhuman grin, eyes warm and friendly and fixed, even as they take turns flopping each other into the dust, and it ain’t long before he realizes the fix is in and he is a damfool, but by that point the fire’s long burned to ashes and the sun’s peaking over the hills.