This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.
Amon’s expression shifted from puzzled to concerned to surprised.
But then, why should he be surprised? Leave it to people to tell him one thing – that he had complete freedom – and do another – follow him and watch his actions. The fact that he tried to trust them to do as they promised made this all the more frustrating.
The Allagan started to quietly fume about this to himself… until he took notice of Scylla’s demeanor.
Was she suddenly distressed? Why?
She acted as if he had actually gone through with burning a certain Tia hairless that day. That’s when Scylla should be all upset. Not now. Not when he actually made the right choice.
But she was still upset with him for some reason.
Amon furrowed his brows, looking puzzled again.
“Dangerous? Me?” he asked and frowned a little. “But ‘tis what all this has been about. You’ve been healing me and restoring my aether. Eventually, if all went right, this would restore my aether-flow. Why do you act as if ‘tis a surprise?”
“Sometimes the ability to access the realm of the elemental never comes back to those who are aetherburned so deeply.” Scylla frowned, scratching the wood of the table with her finger. “But then you are Amon, the greatest mind of Allag. My father’s legendary prodigy. The man who can see aether.”
“But to these people, we are something completely different.” The white mage shook her head back and forth, struggling to admit her thoughts to the man in front of her. “You will heal in time, I’m sure… and your ability will return.”
Scylla swallowed, giving Amon a straight look in the eye.
“I am afraid… of what may return with it.”
Amon peered across the table at Scylla as she was obviously choosing her words carefully. She meant something much more than what she actually said, he knew. What she really feared was that this signaled a return to everything he used to be.
“After all of this? After you saw me at my weakest, saved my life and nursed me back to health, you think that I would…” his words trailed off, hinting at his disappointment and frustration. Then he stopped himself and looked away. “No. I suppose I cannot blame you. I just thought that…”
Thought what? – he chided himself. That it would be that easy for her to truly set aside the things he’d done? That she really forgave him? That she trusted him?
She forgave him and trusted him, but only when he was of absolutely no threat to her. But once that changed, what else would change? Would she just go back to hating him again?
His eyes squinted as his chest tightened with a feeling he didn’t quite understand.
Why did this bother him so much?
“I… I promised you. I don’t intend to go back on my word.”
“You were never one for bad intentions, Amon.”
Unless it involved me, it would seem.
Scylla waited quietly for Amon to finish eating before she began her daily healing regimen. She pulled his hands over the table, washing them clean of the food that was stuck under his nails.
She began to slowly channel aether into his fingers, carefully and gently checking his aetherpoints. She noticed the red tinge left on the tips of his fingers, not much worse than a sunburn. But for the white mage, she knew that the lack of control of aether could lead to endangerment of her healing patient.
“Hmmm…. Fire aether then?” Scylla frowned as she poked at his joints. “You’re lucky you didn’t turn your hands into two flaming piles of ash.”
“Fire always came most easily to me,” Amon murmured, answering her question.
Scylla was no happier about the situation even with his earnest attempt at easing her concerns. She’d not even finished her meal. And yet, here she was, going through the motion of healing him despite everything they just discussed.
“Why are you doing this?” the Elezen asked, pulling his hands away from hers. “If you really feel like… this… If you’re just afraid I’ll go back to being what I was in the Tower… why do you persist in helping me? This makes no sense.”
Amon frowned and looked away. Then he gave a short, rueful laugh.
“And here I thought you might be happy to know I was able to touch the elements… because that meant that your healing has been successful.” He shook his head. “If you’re just going to harbor all this fear and uncertainty, then this should stop here. Stop healing me.”
“I… don’t know.” The white mage answered truthfully. “Maybe I just wanted to hope for a moment that…” Her voice trailed off.
That Amon had turned over a new leaf?
That he would keep his promises for once?
That she wouldn’t be alone in a world away from Allag?
That she actually made a friend?
Amon? Thinking about my feelings? Inconceivable!?
“Well…” Scylla reversed the line of questioning, speaking the words out in a quick retort. “Since when did the Grand Technologist think about how I felt about things?”
The white mage raised her hands in dramatic motion.
“What reason would you have to even have the slightest worry about your more unctuous rival?” She squinted closely at his face. “Did Koh and Zuri put you up to this?”
“No. I choose this for myself,” Amon leaned back a little as she was staring at him a bit more than was comfortable. “’Tis no more strange than you fighting to save me. I know there were points in time where ‘twould have been far easier to let me die.”
The Elezen was well aware that he was still alive due to a choice and an action, not because it was ever a given. Scylla was right – his aether had been in complete tatters. It was a miracle he survived, much less had begun to flourish so much that he was able to draw upon aether for magic again.
“So, aye. I don’t want you to keep healing me merely out of duty if it brings nothing but fear for you,” Amon flexed his hands a little. “You’ve helped me far more than I deserve. I will figure something out on my own.”
“It is when you are on your own, when you are prone to get into the most trouble, Amon!” Scylla argued back, waggling her finger at him.