An Offer Unable to Be Refused

Addergoole, year ~29.

“Gabriel, we need to go.”

The sudden intensity in Leo’s voice was entirely unexpected. The real damage in the area had been patched and mended at least a day ago, and they were staying strictly for precautionary reasons – mainly at Gabi’s request. But for Leo to suddenly be insistent that they needed to leave was strange.

“I…very well.” Gabi packed up what he was working on and stood slowly. Leo’s emotions were a blur – more so than usual. This was urgency at its highest level, panic and uncertainty. It was the type of emotion Leo had before launching into a battle he wasn’t sure of the outcome of. “What’s happened; is something wrong?”

Leo had been walking, but at the question he froze. This was highly irregular. “You have to promise me you won’t freak out.”

Now Gabriel was worried. This was nothing like anything he’d seen from Leo, even in the years he’d been staying with the older man’s crew. “Leo, I can’t…”

“You have to promise me.”

“There is no way that I can make you a promise based on that little information,” Gabi insisted. “That would be highly improbable at best.”

“Promise you’ll try not to freak out.”

“Leo, what’s happened?” No response. “You know me – you know how incredibly difficult it is to get me to a point that I would be that emotionally expressive in the first place. What in the world could be dramatic and horrible enough to warrant the necessity of that level of promise?” Still no response. Now Gabriel stopped walking, moving to stand in front of Leo, forcing the other to meet his eyes. “Leo, what’s going on?”

After a long pause, Leo finally answered. “Arien’s not dead.”

If he said anything else after that, it was white noise. Gabriel had never quite had the feeling on the world falling away before, but in that moment, his hearing – his sight – anything he could have used to understand the world went into pure white noise. He could barely breathe – and then one small sliver of information stuck with him.

“What did you just say to me?” Gabi whispered, still trying to look at Leo. “That…that’s not possible. Leo, I watched him die – he died in my arms.
“Well…” Leo was attempting to salvage the situation and still determine if Gabi was officially Not Freaking Out. “He’s not, and he’s in trouble, and we need to go.”

Gabi didn’t have a response. He remembered – all too clearly – the feeling of Arien’s body limp in his arms.

But in the end, it didn’t matter. Delusion or not, Leo was asking him to help Arien – and those were the two people he couldn’t let down.

“Fine. Let’s go.”

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~ by R on November 13, 2012.

One Response to “An Offer Unable to Be Refused”

  1. A few minutes earlier…

    They could leave today, Leofric thought as he strolled idly through the town. They could’ve left two days ago, really, but Gabriel wanted to stay, “just to make sure”. Leo was noticing it was sort of a pattern. Not that he really minded; at least not once he’d taken it into account for trip itineraries. They seemed to hang around places less when Zita was along, but even then–

    “Leo!”

    Leofric looked up, startled, and turned around. That wasn’t Gabriel; in fact, it sounded almost like–

    …Arien? He stared at the younger man, eyes wide in startled confusion.

    But Arien was– well, okay, Gabriel hadn’t actually said what happened to Arien, and Leo tried not to bring it up, but still, he’d assumed…

    Whatever he’d assumed, Arien was running down the street towards him right then, looking pale and exhausted and generally like death warmed over. And there was something about his expression that nagged at the corner of Leofric’s memory, something he couldn’t – wouldn’t – place.

    “Leo, I need help.” The younger man tugged down the neck of his jacket.

    Leofric’s eyes followed with a quick glance, catching only a glimpse of the collar underneath. Not that it mattered; the gesture itself was enough. “Shit.”

    “They’re coming after me,” Arien continued. “And Gabriel thinks I’m dead.”

    Double shit. He had to think quickly; hell, he hardly had time to think at all. “How many?”

    Arien shook his head. “I don’t know how many are coming; there’s five of them.”

    “How far behind are they?”

    “I don’t know… I left a week ago.”

    Which meant it could be anywhere from a week to just hours. He really didn’t have time to think. “Have you eaten anything?”

    Arien hesitated as if trying to remember. “A little.”

    Leofric murmured a quick Working, just to confirm that the previously-presumed-dead man was in no immediate physical danger – exhaustion, hunger, minor fading injuries – and nodded.

    “Okay. Head back out of town and follow the trail going that way.” He pointed in the direction. “We’ll be right behind you.”

    Arien nodded. The something about his expression was still tugging at his consciousness – had been the whole time – and as the younger man turned to leave, the filter in the back of Leo’s mind reluctantly opened the tiniest bit.

    Guilt. It was a desperate, defiant guilt, and painfully familiar.

    “Arien.” Leofric called out after him, taking two quick steps to catch up as he stopped and glanced back. “If it’ll help, I can make the…” Leo grimaced as the word refused to come out. “The feeling go away. At least temporarily.”

    Arien met his gaze and smiled, just a little, as he shook his head. “I don’t think it would, but thank you.”

    Leofric smiled crookedly back. “It’ll be fine. Go on, we’ll be right behind you.”

    This time when Arien started to leave, Leofric turned and hurried off the other way. He still had to get Gabriel and tell him what had happened. …What the hell was he going to say? Hey Gabriel, we have to save Arien – who is alive, by the way – from some bastard Nedetakaei who caught and Kept him, let’s go.

    Yeah, that would work.

    The problem was, Leofric had no idea how Gabriel was going to react to the news. To any part of the news. The only thing he could be sure of was that Gabriel would be very, very upset. He had no idea what an upset Gabriel would do.

    Departed gods, what is he going to do?

    Whatever it was, Leofric wouldn’t have to wait much longer. He hurried up to Gabriel and put a hand on his dark-haired… friend to get his attention.

    “Gabriel, we need to go.”

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