Born to Survive

Chapter 2

Tobyn had never liked sitting around and doing nothing. Some found it relaxing. He found unnerving and boring. He was used to being busy. He would always spend his days off either going over the maps he was in charge of, or the codexes, constantly checking and rechecking the facts.

His need to keep moving had only increased after what happened to him yesterday. He still didn't know the name of the FOE that paralysed him, nor did he know how it managed to do so. And that annoyed him.

He needed to know so it wouldn't happen again. However, if it did…Lynus would be able to heal the paralysis. That was intensely reassuring to know.

Feeling Lynus' hand on his forehead and hearing his voice as he spoke to him…seeing how calm he looked. There were no words to describe how comforting just having him there was. He was still scared witless by not being able to move, but when Lynus turned up, a sense of peace fell over him. He knew he was in good hands.

No exaggeration.

"Tobyn?"

Lifting his eyes up from the monster codex he was idly gazing at, Tobyn looked over to the doorway of his room to find the object of his thoughts standing there. "Hm?"

"Are you up for a walk?" Lynus asked him with a smile. "I'm going to visit Abigail. I thought that maybe you would like to restock your kit while I'm there."

Lynus' request might seem out of the blue, but Tobyn was absolutely sure he had good reason behind it. Perhaps he realised Tobyn's need to keep busy. He would, after all, as he also had that need to keep moving.

"I guess it wouldn't hurt," Tobyn said as he pushed away from the desk and reached for his explorer's kit that he would always take with him whenever he was in the labyrinth, regardless of reason they were there.

Lynus was undeniably pleased as they headed out of the inn and into the streets of High Lagaard. Lynus spoke idly along the way, asking Tobyn short answered questions. Tobyn had never been much a conversationalist, so was grateful that Lynus wasn't trying to pull him into deep conversation.

"Hoho, I was hoping I'd bump into you, Tobyn."

The familiar voice was startling. Tobyn immediately stopped walking and whipped around to face the source of the voice. An elderly man in a slightly hunched back and a walking stick in one hand, the other folded behind his back was walking toward him. His mouth dropped open in surprise and he quickly met with the man half way.

"Grigory?" Tobyn murmured, a look of surprise on his face. "What are you doing here?"

"Well now," the elderly man huffed and tisked at the same time. "That's no way to treat the man who raised you."

"I-I'm sorry," Tobyn stuttered as an embarrassed blush spread across his cheeks. "I'm just surprised."

"Oh, relax dear boy," Grigory said as he removed his hand from behind his back to flap his hand at him. "Still stoic and uptight, I see."

Tobyn flushed darkly, but didn't say anything in reply.

Suddenly, he felt a hand gently touch his arm, trying to get his attention. "Um, would you like me to go?"

Quickly remembering that Lynus was there, Tobyn turned around to face him, finding the orange-hair medic looking somewhat uncomfortable, but understanding at the same time. "No, it's fine," he said before turning to Grigory, whom of which was looking at Lynus with an expression of interest.

"Grigory, this is Lynus, my teammate," he introduced before turning his attention to Lynus. "This is Grigory. He, ah, helped raise me after the death of my mentor…"

"Oh," Lynus breathed as a look of understanding on his face, empathy in his eyes. He, however, smiled warmly as he turned to regard Grigory, offering him a hand to shake. "Well, it's nice to meet you, Mr Grigory."

"Pleasure's all mine," Grigory returned as he shook Lynus' hand in a firm grip, before dropping his hand and folding it behind his back again. "From your coat, I take it you're a medic?"

"Yes," Lynus smiled politely. "For quite a few years now."

"Good, good." Grigory seemed pleased as he turned to regard Tobyn. "You have a medic on your team now, Tobyn. Someone to patch you up." He then turned back to Lynus, giving him a quick once over parent-type figures would do before humming in thought. "Hm, I say, you're not that miracle medic I've been hearing about, are you?"

The smile on Lynus' lips suddenly dropped and was replaced with a look of mild embarrassment and confusion. "Um…miracle medic?"

"Yes," Grigory said, sounding quite adamant that he was right. "The one who can heal just about anyone!"

A flaring blush abruptly appeared on Lynus' cheeks and he shook his head. "I don't know about that-"

"Probably," Tobyn said, cutting him off as he folded his arms over his chest. He then turned his attention back to Grigory, leaving Lynus to his embarrassment. "Will you be in town long?"

"Hm," Grigory hummed in thought for a moment. "A couple of days. Just meeting up with an old friend."

"Visiting Julien?" Tobyn stated more than questioned, as he was more than certain to the answer. "I'll walk you."

As Tobyn turned to apologise to Lynus, only to find him once again with an expression of understanding on his face. "I'll let the two of you catch up," he said with a smile. "See you back at the inn, Tobyn. It was nice meeting you, Mr Grigory."

"Yes, you too," Grigory replied as Lynus offered his goodbyes before turning to continue his way. Grigory watched him until he left before turning back to Tobyn, allowing him to walk with him. "What a nice boy."

"Yeah," Tobyn replied.

"Good to see you're making new friends, Tobyn," Grigory commented idly as they walked. "Keshet would be proud."

Tobyn bit the inside of his mouth as a sharp pain tugged at his heart. "…Yeah."

… … … … …

After speaking with Hamza again about what had happened in that 'event' that brought about Tobyn's paralysis, Jhon walked toward the room he shared with the blond-haired survivalist and was only mildly surprised to find it empty. His books and maps were sprawled out upon the desk under the window of the room, giving the indication that he had only stepped out for a moment. If he had planned on being out for a while, he always tidied up his things and put them away neatly.

Survivalists weren't that fond of messes, after all.

Jhon's first stop on searching for Tobyn was to visit the tea room, the unofficial room for the Guardians. Inside the room, there is only one occupant and it was Axel. He was sitting in a chair by an open window, focusing his full attention on polishing and sharping his axe.

It was an old axe of his that he had to pull out of storage. His previous axe had been badly damaged during their brief battle against the Wyvern. His very first blow on such a powerful monster resulted in a huge chunk of the axe's blade breaking on contact. The second blow pretty much broke the blade in half.

The reason why Axel was pulling out his old blade was that he had placed an order with Thompson at his shop for another axe and was waiting for it to be forged for him. If he was needed in the labyrinth before it was ready, he still had a weapon regardless.

"Axel? Do you know where Tobyn snuck off to?" Jhon questioned as he walked into the room.

"Lynus got a hold of him and they're heading to the weapon shop," Axel explained as he lifted his gaze from his weapon, idly flicking it in front of him with a few twitches of his wrist.

Jhon nodded his head, pleased to hear that. "Oh, that's not too bad."

Axel continued to flex his axe, actually quite nimble with such a heavy weapon. "You know, can't help but notice that Tobyn is more sullen than usual," he suddenly remarked.

The comment somewhat surprised Jhon for a moment, but he smiled nonetheless. "Yeah. What happened to him yesterday frightened him."

"I'm not surprised," Axel said as he carefully set his axe down, leaning against the wall. "For someone so used to moving about on his own, being suddenly paralysed must have been his worst nightmare."

"Putting it lightly." Jhon sighed as he remembered how much Tobyn tossed and turned last night while trying to get some sleep. He hadn't mentioned it to him, but Tobyn had been greatly unsettled by the entire event. He was going to be even more skittish now.

He had to admit that he, too, was still unnerved by the entire event. Seeing Tobyn lying on the hard ground of the forth stratum, not moving a muscle. Just lying there. The look of fear in his eyes as Jhon picked him up in his arms was something he wasn't going to get out of his mind anytime soon.

Thank goodness they had Lynus on their guild. He wouldn't handle seeing Tobyn in that state for any longer than he was.

"I guess it's also because he's embarrassed by all the fuss?"

Axel's comment pulled Jhon from his thoughts and he turned to give Axel a small, thankful smile. Tobyn kept mostly to himself, so it was heartening to him to know that others also noticed little things about him. "Ah, you've noticed that as well?"

"He's a bit like Lynus in a way," Axel replied with a knowing smile. "Not like being in the centre of attention, not like drawing a fuss."

Jhon idly nodded his head. "I guess that's why he's comfortable around Lynus."

Axel chuckled lightly as he stood up from his seat and stretched his arms over his head. "That's just Lynus for you. Born to be a medic."

As soon as those words past Axel's lips, the voice of the very medic they were talking about rung through the inn. "I'm back! Axel?"

"In here!" Axel immediately called back. A smile made its way upon his lips as Lynus walked into the tea room, alone. He immediately went over to Axel, allowing the redhead to wrap an arm around his waist and press his lips against his forehead, gaining a smile from the medic. "Hey, welcome back."

Jhon glanced behind Lynus, watching to see if Tobyn was somewhere nearby, but it seemed that he had returned alone. Tobyn would have to walk past the tea room in order to get to their room.

After Axel and Lynus finished being cute together, as they always were, Jhon directed his attention to Lynus. "I thought Tobyn was with you."

"Oh, he was," Lynus replied with a smile on his lips. "But we ran into the man that raised him."

Jhon's eyebrows shot up toward his hairline. "Oh, you mean Grigory?"

"Yes, that's right," Lynus said as he ran a hand through his hair. "Tobyn's walking him to his friend's house."

"You must mean Julien," Jhon said as a pleased smile appeared on his lips. "I'll go pay them a visit, too, then."

Lynus looked somewhat surprised, but only for a moment. He still had a smile on his lips. "You know Mr Grigory as well?" he asked.

"Yes. He's friends with the man that raised me after my parents' deaths."

Lynus immediately looked shocked as he abruptly turned to give Jhon his full attention. "…Deaths?" he murmured softly.

Jhon winced and gave the medic a sympathetic smile. "Oh? Haven't I mentioned it? My parents both died on the first floor of the labyrinth when I was a small child."

"I'm so sorry," Lynus instantly responded, looking and sounding torn.

"…It's all right," Jhon managed to give him a gentle smile. Before he allowed his thoughts to be consumed of that day so many years ago, he turned his focus back to visiting Julien to meet up with Grigory again. "Excuse me."

"Hope you have a nice afternoon," Lynus kindly said as he stepped closer to Axel.

"Thank you, I will."

… … … … …

It was many hours later that Jhon and Tobyn left their two parental figures to talk and catch up on old times. Jhon was the one who engaged the two older men in most of the conversations, while Tobyn simply nodded his head at the appropriate times and offer a few short words. He didn't say much. He thankfully didn't need to.

It was well into the night as they walked through the quiet streets of Lagaard toward the inn.

"Grigory is in good spirits as usual," Jhon commented lightly as they walked side by side.

"Hm," Tobyn murmured as he nodded his head.

Always unfazed by his silence, Jhon continued to talk for the both of them. "He and Julien get along so well. It was inevitable, however, that Keshet would come up in conversation."

Tobyn immediately felt his stomach clench at the mentioning of that name and he looked to the side, at the ground away from Jhon's sight. "…Right."

"I see," Jhon suddenly murmured as he paused in his steps, allowing Tobyn to walk a couple of steps forward before he, too, came to a stop. "You still can't bring yourself to say his name."

Tobyn clenched his hands by his sides. His mentor's name. He couldn't say it. It…Damn it, it's been years, but it still hurt like hell. His mentor was the first to actually try to get to know him, to guide him rather than to control him, to help him mould himself into the person he wanted to become, not the person others felt he should be.

He wasn't worthy to say his name so casually.

"Tobyn."

Jhon suddenly snared his wrist, pulling him to an abrupt stop. Tobyn's long blond hair was caught in the breeze as he turned to face his companion, a look of confusion on his face. Before he could say anything, Jhon tugged on his wrist and pulled him toward him. Startled by the abrupt movement, Tobyn stumbled and fell against him. A mere moment later, as Tobyn tilted his head back, everything become still, silent.

"You've never been alone," Jhon whispered to him. "You know that."

He then watched as Jhon lowered his head toward him, to press his lips against his. At first, Tobyn froze, his eyes growing wide. He, however, felt his eyes slowly close as Jhon tightened his hold around him, one arm folded over the small of his back, the other across his shoulders, his hand holding his right shoulder. When Jhon's hand tightened on his shoulder, Tobyn felt himself melt into the embrace.

He shouldn't be enjoying this. Happiness was fleeting. He…didn't want to lose Jhon, too…He didn't want to go through that pain again. Not after becoming so close…

Then again…life was fleeting, too. It was better to enjoy it while it lasted, wasn't it?

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