17. King of Jamarion
I sat by the fire, flinching as I cleaned out the wounds the earth had created on my arms. Thijs and Sarn sat a few feet away from me, cuddling as they stared off into the fire. One look at them and I turned away, knowing that was not what I came for.
I heard her soft steps as she approached me, the hesitancy in the way she slowed down and finally came to stop a foot in front of me. As stubborn as I am, I refused to look up, keeping my attention on my arm.
She sighed loudly before her small fingers tapped on my shoulders. I frowned, forcing my eyes on my fingers. A few seconds later, her fingers pressed against the bottom of my chin and she tilted my head up, forcing my eyes to land on hers.
There was a sadness, making them heavy, not that the guilt on her face helped at all.
"Jakko, I’m sorry." She signed quickly before I managed to bring my eyes back down to my arm. I nodded, acknowledging her apology, but not accepting it. She sighed again, her hands wrapping around my shoulders. I let my shoulders fall, accepting defeat, and looking up at her. ”Did you read my letter?"
I frowned, annoyed that she still believed that small piece of paper was good enough. Even as I sat in front of her. I stood up quickly, catching her off guard and dug in my pocket. With a flick of my hand I lifted up the note from my pocket. She took a step back, her eyed widening as I made my way to the fire, throwing the paper right in the middle.
I made my way back in front of her, “What note?” I spread my arms out, emphasizing my question.
"I don’t deserve your love, your affection and your protection." She signed.
With a loud scoff, I rolled my eyes, "If people only gave what others deserved there would be no such thing as love, Aria."
She took a step back, shaking her head, "Please, don't."
"Don't worry, I'm not here to confess my love to you. I'm here to take you to the portal, and...leave you. Finally, get back to my life." She visibly flinched, taking another step back, "Isn't that what you wanted?" I frowned, confused by her reaction. I was exaggerating all of my actions, frowning, moving my arms around, not ready to have her as a friend yet. She already expressed that she wasn't.
She nodded, though I noticed she was pushing against her cheek, her eyebrows in a small and pensive frown.
"Wha-What are you doing?" I pointed toward her mouth, and she shook her head, her eyes widening.
"My tongue, it- it's felt weird since Keena-"
"Do you think it's growing back?" My heart, much despite my current outward appearance, began to beat happily against my chest. Traitor. It was all she wanted, to be able to speak again.
She bit her bottom lip and shrugged, "I don't want to get my hopes up."
Again, I couldn't control the traitorous smile that spread on my lips, "I'll hope for you."
She smiled, nodding her thanks, but the brightness in her eyes dulled and her face fell. "You can't keep doing things like that."
"Like what?" I sat back down on the log, continuing my ministrations on my arm, wincing with every pebble, every wooden splinter I pulled from my arm.
"Things that make me want to stay." She signed, looking at my with pleading eyes.
I nodded, "Alright." I continued and finished working on my arm, knowing I would have to go back to ignoring her completely, maybe even being angry with her. I never returned my eyes to her and I heard her walk away.
"Hey." Thijs called out softly and sat beside me, "Just to let you know, I didn't agree with them about leaving you behind."
A short snort left my nose, "Yeah, because you're probably the only one that likes me."
He laughed, "I doubt that, Jakko." We sat in silence for a few moments before he inhaled loudly and spoke again, "So, will you be crossing the portal with us?"
I shrugged my shoulders, the uneasy pain of uncertainty in my chest. With a frown I said, "I'm not sure yet. There's nothing for me here, and there's nothing for me there.... not without..."
"Not without Aria?"
I nodded, "My entire life before for her consisted of me looking for her, and then when I met her my life became about having her, and now it is about protecting her. What does it tell you about a man when he can't define his own life without another?" I shook my head, realizing for the first time that I would have no idea what to do with myself without her.
"Isn't Jamarion waiting for you? You are their King." He was looking at the fire, the shadows playing on his face.
I looked at his profile, smirking, "You don't want me to stay here, do you?"
He shook his head, looking down at the ground, "You two have been some of the few that have accepted Sarn and I...we would never be able to thank you for the safety and home you have offered us. Aria loves you, Jakko. There might be many reasons that I do not understand, for her to choose Dastan, but I am hoping she will change her mind." He lifted his sights from the ground and turned toward me, "What will she do when she does change her mind and you are not there?"
With a desperate huff, I stood up, "It doesn't matter. I can't just sit around and wait for that. If I go back it would be for Jamarion and Jamarion alone. I hope you will respect that."
"Of course." He nodded, turning back to the fire.
With a final nod, I turned and made my way to a makeshift bed.