The young refugee with the spiky blonde hair looked over at [Ash] as she caught up with everyone else. His breathing was strangely erratic and forced, his blue-gray eyes looking Ash over. Something was tattooed on his neck, and it looked like he had tried to hide it with his coat.
“I’m Ash,” Ash told him. He nodded, but didn’t respond. She looked at him questioningly. “I don’t think we’ve met. Who are you?”
The young refugee didn’t respond. He sucked in air and looked away, adjusting his coat to better conceal his neck. Inside his coat pockets, his hands fidgeted.
Ash was walking alongside Katrina. Ash looked over at her, and before she could ask, Katrina answered in a low voice.
“That’s Thane,” she said, inclining her head toward the refugee, who was still staring away from Ash. He looked about sixteen. “He’s… ah…” Katrina searched for the right words, and pursed her lips. “He can’t speak. He was born that way, I think. He’s Kayla’s friend. I have to admit, I don’t really know him that well.”
“What about the tattoo?” Ash asked in a quiet voice.
Katrina shook her head. “I don’t know. I’ve never really gotten a good look at it, since he’s always trying to cover it up. Whenever I try to ask Kayla, she changes the topic. I think they knew each other before coming to the cave. She’s rather protective of him. He’s pretty shy, and I don’t see him that much.”