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Qabian

What Friends Are For

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I slammed the door behind me and blocked it with my back. My heart was racing so fast I thought it would leap from my throat. "I did it. I killed him," I managed between panting breaths.

"Killed who?" he asked, not even looking up from his book.

"You know who," I hissed.

He calmly closed his book, laid it on the side table, then sat forward with his hands on his knees and grinned at me. "No," he said with an exaggerated tone of disbelief. "You don't have that in you. You're too good and obedient, choir boy. You couldn't kill someone, no matter how much you hate them."

I covered my ears with my hands. "Shut up shut up shut up. I did kill him. He's dead. What am I going to do?" I could hear the pleading in my voice and it made me feel sick, but desperation kept me standing.

He sighed and stood up. "Don't beg, choir boy. Never beg. It's gross. Let's go see what kind of mess you made."

I wanted to shout him down, to tell him he was wrong, but I was too relieved that he agreed to help me. It was difficult to feel anything other than worthless as I followed behind him.

---

I folded my arms across my chest. He was clearly being obtuse.

"Listen," he said. He leaned forward with his elbows on his knees and steepled his fingers. "This is not something I am ever going to understand. I know people say they hear the elements, but as far as I'm concerned the only voices they are actually hearing are their own."

I rolled my eyes.

"I have never heard the elements in my life, yet fire and water do as I ask."

I slammed my hand down on the page between us. The words "Because you abuse them" formed.

He leaned back. "If you truly believe that, why did you ever ask for my help?"

I opened my mouth, both in shock and that old habit, a reaction when not having anything to say. I had no answer for him.

He sighed. "The voices you heard then were the voices of the world, yes, but they were the magic that lives within it, magic you can know, and understand, and use, magic you can take apart and put back together, magic you can analyze, categorize, and calculate. It was magic speaking to you, not some sort of being with thoughts of its own. It was the world and yourself."

I frowned and looked down at the page between us. "If that's true, then no one cut me off from anything, and vengeance is pointless," I made it say.

He didn't answer immediately, and I held my silence, staring down at my words. When I looked up at him, he was staring at me, a deep frown etching his arrogant face. "Yes," he said.

"But then everything..."

He waved at me dismissively, simultaneously cutting me off and sparking anger in me. "You will need time. Do not do anything rash," he ordered, though his tone was more conciliatory than commanding. "I will help you with whatever you need. You will prove me right or prove me wrong before you choose what to do with this knowledge."

---

"Stop crying," his father demanded. We were in a cramped white room, me, him, his father. I was having a mental breakdown. I was sure my life was over. They would demand I suffer. If they didn't kill me outright, they would clap me in chains for the rest of my life. "Did you mean to do this?"

"N-no! Of course not!" I stammered. "Why would I--"

His father crouched down, put his hands on my shoulders, and spoke very slowly. "Take a deep breath, then ask yourself the question again. Did you mean to do this?"

I did as he asked, took a deep breath, closed my eyes and thought about the sequence of events that led me to this place. "Yes," I said quietly. The calm that settled in place of his father's hands when he took them from my shoulders was eerie and cold.

"Why?" his father asked.

"Because I hate him."

His father stared me down. "Even now that he is gone forever?"

"Yes," I answered clearly.

There was silence from everyone in the room. He was quiet, then looked up at his father and said, "Thank you."

His father nodded curtly, then opened the door and issued orders to whoever was outside. "There was an unfortunate accident. There was no crime here," his father said in a commanding voice. The door closed, leaving the two of us behind.

I fell against the wall and slid to the ground. 

He put his hands on my shoulders as his father had. "You'll be fine," he said with a smile. "I know, because I always am."

My face was still wet with tears when I looked at him, but I smiled back. "You're right," I said. "We'll be fine. Thank you."

---

I stared in awe as the city opened up before me. I had never seen anything like it. I could see he was trying not to smile at my reaction. The corner of his mouth twitched in that way it does. "Beautiful," I signed.

"All of it is yours," he said.

"Liar," I signed back at him, but I knew what he meant. The libraries, the people, the freedom to learn who I was, to decide who I was, and all of it without burning any bridges yet, all of it with the excuse of self-betterment for the cause. Not that anyone would ask. Like him, I did not make friends. But this place, this city that floated above the violence would keep me safe. No, he would keep me safe. If anything went wrong, he would put himself at risk to help me, as he had now several times. I stared up at him. I couldn't help but wonder what he gained, but the first time he agreed to help me, I decided then never to ask him why. Just in case the knowing broke the spell. I learned that knowing could break a lot of spells.

He just nodded. "Let's get you moved in, shall we?"

I nodded back, then looked at my feet as I followed him.

Edited by Qabian
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