The next morning greeted Amon in the same room, but with a plate of food waiting on the table for him. The rich scents woke him from his slumber, something tugging at a hazy memory from the past. When he came to inspect the meal, he understood why.
‘Tis an Allagan breakfast dish.
Something he remembered his mother making long ago… something he thought he’d never eat again in a world that had forgotten all that once was. Of course, the food was modified slightly to use the ingredients on hand, but that didn’t make it any less nostalgic for him.
He was halfway done when the door opened at the far end of the room, admitting the dark-haired cat-girl. Koh or Noah? He’d find out soon enough.
She observed him eating, and sat down to wait, calmly. Biding her time.
“’Tis good,” Amon complemented the food. He may be frustrated with Noah, but he still had his charm.
“I’m glad.” She nodded. Then she said slowly, “Consider it an apology.”
“Oh?” He chewed, watching her from over his fork.
Noah was quiet for a moment before she pushed aside enough pride to continue. “The things I said last night were purposely intended to make you angry.”
“A test,” Amon noted. “I assume I passed, or I’d not be treated to such fine cuisine.”
“You’d risk hurting Koh to test a personality theory?”
“You’ve done worse,” Noah crossed her arms with a slight sneer.
“Besides, it wasn’t completely unknown.” She looped a lock of dark hair around one finger. “I’ve watched you. I’ve seen how you’ve interacted with your companions. How you’ve performed for people in the tavern. I had a pretty strong hunch you wouldn’t be able to bring yourself to hurt a frightened child.”
“And what about you?” Amon pointed the fork her way. “What about what you’re doing to her life?”
“I wish it wasn’t this way.” Noah’s expression was one of true regret, so much that he wanted to take his words back.
“Hmm…” He added nothing to the conversation, not wanting to shove his foot further in his mouth.
“At first, I thought of nothing more than what it would take to be free. To walk this world again.”
Her eyes lit up for a moment, fixing Amon. Knowing that he understood. That he, too, had done what he did to simply survive.
When he didn’t respond, Noah continued. “But now that I’m here, I realize that I’ve resigned myself to a different kind of captivity. One of my own making.”
“And you’ve taken Koh with you.”
“Yes.” Shame filled her eyes. She was genuinely compassionate towards this girl.
Amon finished eating his breakfast, saying nothing else until he was done. He left Noah to her own thoughts. It seemed like there was more she wanted to say, but emotion was keeping her words from coming.
Seeing she was sensitive at the moment, and being in a slightly petty mood after his treatment last night, Amon snarked, “So, is that why you paid one of my party to knock me cold?”
Her head jerked up, looking even more ashamed. “To the Samurai’s credit, he’s quite torn on the situation.”
“You told him who I am.”
“He was being all honorable and stuff. It was the only way to get him to work with me,” Noah shrugged.
“You told him I was dangerous.”
He snuffed down at his hands and lifted them for her to see. “’Tis… an uncoordinated mess of a cloned body that’s been locked in stasis for… how many eras? If I could own the world, don’t you think I would have already done it by now?”
She shook her head. “You are not Xande.”
Amon frowned deeply.
“You may have done some cruel and crazy things in the name of ‘saving’ the Allagans, but you sought out a leader. You didn’t take the control for yourself,” Noah observed. “Even though, by all means, you could have.”
He crossed his arms and looked up at the ceiling, changing his approach. “If you captured me thinking I can fix your situation, you’re wrong.”
She fell silent at that.
“My research… my lab… my power… everything… is locked in Syrcus Tower. I tried to get in. Trust me. It didn’t work.” Amon grumbled and glanced at her. “Because someone made it so only the royal bloodlines could unseal that front gate.”
Noah flashed him a cheerful grin. She thought it was funny.
“Go ahead and laugh.”
“I am,” she chuckled.
Amon looked at his hands again, speaking uncharacteristically somber. “’Tisn’t as if I’ve got it in me to do what I used to do. Whatever I had back then, I’ve lost it. I’ve lost my nerve.”
Noah’s face softened. “Or maybe, the experience of death has cleared your mind and taught you the value of life.”
“Sentimental nonsense,” he rejected, balling his fists. “What good is a scientist who doesn’t have the gumption to take a few losses?”
“I’d say, a lot of good, actually.” The cat-girl reached across the table and put her hands on his. Her touch was warm, and it caused his fists to unclench. “You don’t have to hurt the world to find a way to save it.”
“Who says I want to save the world?” Amon muttered.
“Now you’re just being childish.”
To prove her point, he huffed and rolled his eyes under the mask.
“The Amon of legends was always about saving the world. He just didn’t always go about it the right way,” Noah teased him gently. Then her tone turned more serious. “I wonder what you… and I… could have done if we had been dealt a different hand.”
“What do you mean?”
“Our civilization was already marred beyond our control by the time we were born.” She said sadly. “What we became was partially a product of our twisted time. My magic… Your mind… If we’d been born to a different era, we may have been heroes instead of footnotes in history.”
Amon withdrew his hands, gently rejecting this. “We are what we are. We did what we did. ‘Tis no changing that.”
“You think not?” Noah’s eyebrows lifted. “As long as we’re still here, there’s always an opportunity to change things.”
He couldn’t argue the logic, but everything in him denied her emotional spew.
Still, she had planted a seed, and she knew it. With a content look, she got to her feet and patted his cheek. “Think about it.”
Unfortunately, as Noah closed the door behind her, Amon knew he would.