I sat next to couch, my butt on the cold floor as my fingers threaded through his head. A chuckle left my lips as I looked at him, the way his feet hung off the edge of the couch and how one of his arms laid on the floor.
My cheeks stung from the dry tears on my skin, my teeth biting into my lips repeatedly. I could breath a little easier now, my chest not aching as much as it was before.
We had arrived back to Thijs, Sarn and Keena about two days ago. Keena somehow managed to put his chest back together, his heart regaining its usual rhythm of life. I was so sure he would leave my life and I would have to learn to breath without him, but he’s alive. As always, too stubborn to leave me behind.
“He will be fine, just needs a few more hours before he’s back to normal.” I looked up to Keena, who stood above me with a smile.
But then, I realized what she had said. I stood up quickly, ”A few hours!?" I signed frantically, looking over at Thijs and Sarn. They stood up as well, panic in their faces. I shook my head, holding my hands against my temples. ”I need to leave.”
“What?” Thijs took a step toward her, “Aria, I need you to slow down when you sign, okay? What’s wrong, what do you need?”
I closed my eyes, breathing in slowly before looking back at him signing as slow as humanly possible, ”I need to leave."
“Leave?” Thijs looked at me and then back at Jakko, “Without him?” He looked back at me with a frown, confusion written over his eyes. I nodded. “Wh-why?” He whispered in disbelief.
“Look at him.” Sarn spoke from behind him, catching my attention as well, “Thijs, she-she can’t be with him. And she will never forgive herself for his death, he would protect her at all costs. As I would you.” He turned to look at me, pity and understanding planted on his face, “We’re still going with you.”
I raise my hands to protest but Thijs cuts in, turning to face both me and Sarn at the same time, “Jakko deserves the right to go home. We can’t just leave him here. Are you guys nuts?”
“You think he would want to go and watch her end up with this...what’s his name?” Keena cuts in as well, leaning over Jakko to inspect his wounds.
“Dastan.” Thijs shakes his head, looking down at the ground, “Aria, Sarn and I have to go with you, we will be killed if we stay. I don’t agree with you wanting to leave Jakko behind.”
My eyes flew from Thijs, to Sarn, to Keena and finally to Jakko. No one knew of my plan to come back, no one knew why I didn’t mind as much to leave him behind. I would come back. The problem is now. If he would come with me, I wouldn’t be able to manage running into Dastan’s arms without guilt running though my blood. There was only one word to explain my decision to do all of this.
I wanted to be able to go back home and give Dastan and I the chance to survive. That chance would substantially decline if Jakko was there with me.
“Ohh, shh shh.” Keena stood infant of me now, wiping the tears from my face, “I know this can’t be easy, love.” She looked down at Jakko, “I will take care of him, make sure he’s healthy and then find him an adequate purpose in this realm.”
My face melted, my chest aching again. He could really be happy here, I hope. I really hope.
“You know now, that you can come back whenever you want.” She smiled at me, placing a soft kiss on my forehead before turning back to care for Jakko, “You must leave as quickly as possible.” Sighing, she shook her head, “I know you know this, but there is not much I can do if he goes after you. Is he a good tracker?”
I scoff, nodding with a frown.
“He’ll come after us.” Thijs looked at me, “He would know that you left him.”
I turned from him, not willing to let him fill me with guilt as well. My eyes focused on Jakko for the last time, eyeing the letter that I stuck underneath his thigh. Maybe he won’t be that angry with me after reading it, maybe he would understand.
With a last, long exhale I walked down the dark hallway and made it up the stairs to Eko. Eko, the creature that also refused to leave my side, and I so lovingly named, stood outside, next to the tree that marked Keena’s home and only left to feed himself.He abruptly stood form the ground, stretching and yawning. I chuckled, glad that there was at least one creature that could cause me to smile.
Thijs and Sarn finally came out of the ground, eyeing Eko with widened fear and curiosity. Though they had met him a couple of times, they were still careful around him.
“Do-do we have to?” Sarn gulped.
I looked at him with a frown, not understanding his question unstuck Thijs spoke, “He-he means...are-are you going to ride him?”
I nodded, smiling when I finally understood their increase in fear. There was no way they would be able to keep up with his pace, and the only way to remedy that is if they rode with me. Eko was definitely large enough to carry all of us.
I placed a calming hand on both of their arms, nodding toward Eko who now laid flat on his stomach ready for us to climb onto his back.
“Are you sure this is okay?” Sarn squeaked out with a high pitched voice. I chuckled, settling myself on Eko’s back and reaching down to help them up as well.
After a few minutes of struggling and multiple breathing breaks, we all sat on his back, and with a loud growl, we took off.