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.”