The Story Continues

Everything He Fears

There were a lot of things that frightened Magnus.

Losing control of his abilities and accidentally hurting someone was his greatest fear. Another of his fears involved Shen. No, no - he wasn’t afraid of Shen. He had nothing to fear regarding the stoic ronin. But what did cause him great anxiety was might happen if…something happened to Shen. If he just…disappeared one day.

Magnus liked Shen. He liked him a lot. In the same way that Lynus liked Axel.

And Shen? Though Shen kept his feelings to himself, Magnus knew that he cared for him in return. He was a powerful Ronin. Emotions were kept at bay. That was the creed of the ronin. Skill, power and detachment.

And yet his actions spoke volumes, Shen had stayed with him. He didn’t try to push him away. Never tried to distance himself. Held him when he needed to be held, cared for him when he needed someone to care. And for that, Magnus was grateful. He knew that he would not be where he was today if he had not met Shen. He felt safe with him. Shen wasn’t afraid of him in the slightest. He was able to pull him out of his despair whenever he lost himself to his fear of his abilities. He was always there, close by whenever he needed him. His silent but stoic presence was reassuring in a way.

“Magnus?”

The sound of a gentle voice full of concerned pulled Magnus out of his thoughts. But as he opened his eyes he soon realised that he wasn’t meditating. He was lying in bed, the blankets pulled to his chin, the soft light of the setting sun illuminating his room.

He hadn’t been thinking. He had been dreaming. When did he fall asleep?

Lolling his head to the side, he could easily make out Lynus through his slight blurry vision. The gentle medic was kneeling against the side of his bed, his violet eyes shining with a sense of relief.

Behind him stood Shen and he had thick bandages wrapped tightly around his torso, thick padding mostly against his left side. It was pure white, stark against his skin. It was then that he began to remember what had happened.

The labyrinth. Fourth stratum. Seventeenth floor. A surprise encounter with a FOE that appeared as if from the very ground under their feet. It towered over him. Shen was suddenly in front of him, reacting quickly. Not quickly enough.

Blood.

A spray of blood seemed to float in mid-air before Shen crashed to the ground feet away from him. After that, everything became still. He didn’t hear Axel’s command to attack. He didn’t see Lynus rush past him to get to Shen. He didn’t feel Chi-hung bump into him to push him aside.

Do you know what scares Magnus more than anything? Losing someone he cared for deeply right in front of him.

Magnus stared as a small trickle of blood seeped from the corner of Shen’s mouth as he rested against a stone pillar, Lynus desperately healing him while also trying to keep his attention on offering Axel support. As a look of fear appeared across Lynus’ face, Magnus turned to look at the FOE that had attacked them. He could see that Axel was struggling against it, the grotesque pumpkin head smirking and cackling with sadistic delight.

Something inside of Magnus seemed to break.

He couldn’t heal. But he could attack.

And he did.

A burning static raced through him. Anger bubbled in his throat. How dare that FOE attack Shen?, he remembered thinking as he raised his hands, his fingers twitching from a sense of fierce determination. How dare any monster viciously attack Shen? Attack anyone?

He had to stop it from hurting anyone else. He won’t allow it to hurt Shen again. He wasn’t going to lose him. He wasn’t going to allow anyone to die.

That stupid green pumpkin head…He remembered standing in front of the FOE, his hand in its face, fingers curled into the empty void of its eye sockets, and the burning desire to kill it. Remove it from existence. Destroy it.

“Perish,” he had said as he concentrated a powerful fire attack right into its head, right into the core of its very being.

He wanted that thing dead. It didn’t deserve to live. He wanted it to burn in hell for what it did to Shen!

But…after that…?

The tingling adrenaline from the rage suddenly subsided and he felt tired. Cold. Weak. He just wanted to sleep. Close his eyes and dream. The sound of someone shouting his name and then strong arms holding him was the last thing Magnus understood before everything went black.

Magnus swallowed thickly as he sat up. “I’m sorry…” he murmured. Was Shen mad at him for not paying attention to his surroundings?

Lynus smiled and shook his head. “You saved us,” he said simply before lowering his voice to a soft whisper and leaning forward so that their foreheads touched. “You saved him.”

Magnus felt his breath hitch in his throat as Lynus pulled away. Did he mean…?

“Rest now,” Lynus said in a gentle and comforting voice, a soft smile on his lips. “Everything is all right.”

Lynus pushed away from the bed and turned his attention to Shen. Magnus couldn’t quite hear what he was saying as he was whispering to the ronin. Lynus then gave Shen a small and quick pat on his arm, almost as if offering comfort before picking up his bag and quietly exiting the room.

Shen watched as the door closed behind him before turning his attention to Magnus on the bed. Magnus felt small under his gaze. He opened his mouth to utter another apology, but the words became lost when Shen suddenly across the short distance between them, sat on the edge of his bed and…

Magnus felt his eyes widen and his heart all but skipping a beat when Shen wrapped his arms around him, pulling him, cradling him against his chest. Shen was holding him. He was embracing him.

Magnus didn’t move and he didn’t question. He tilted his head slightly in attempt to look at Shen instead of gazing at the ceiling over his shoulder. But the way Shen was holding him, his chin resting on his shoulders, his arms warm and tight around him, all Magnus could see was his black hair.

“It was a flygourd,” Shen said to him. “You pushed yourself too far. You could have been lost. In front of me…”

Those words…They meant a lot. Shen, he…had the same fear.

Magnus slowly raised his arms to return the embrace, his fingers ghosting against the white bandages around Shen’s torso before resting on his back. He closed his eyes as he pressed his face against Shen’s shoulder, feeling comfortable and warm. More than he had ever in his life.

He then fell asleep. Wrapped up in Shen’s arms.

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