This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.
“Well, then, you best give me your word that you’re not going to fret up a storm about all this while you’re healing me,” Amon told her. Then, on a strange whim, he reached across the table and took her hands in his, his voice gentle. “You didn’t even finish the food I brought for you.”
As his hands reached around her own, Scylla felt the blood rush to her face. Not in anger. She wasn’t quite sure what the feeling was, but it wasn’t the typical rage-followed-by-physical-violence.
She froze, heart pounding in her ears, the words melted away as his hands wrapped around her palms in an almost-tender grasp. Amon was acting strange… stranger than she had ever experienced. It was almost as if he cared about her.
Almost as if… he actually liked her?
Scylla swallowed, and cupped her hands around his, healing mindlessly as she was lost in contemplation. It just didn’t make sense.
This was a man who wanted her dead in a lifetime before, and wanted nothing more for her to suffer the worst torture known to all of Allag. He never spoke to her with gentle words, or fussed about her feelings in any way. She had never cared about his wounds, or whether he lived or died.
Maybe the near-death aether experience scrambled his brains.
The white mage realized that some time had passed as she had sunk into her own internal conversation. Amon was left there waiting for an answer.
“Uh… oh…” Scylla bit her lip nervously, cheeks still bright red. “I’m not hungry anymore.”
Her stomach continued to do acrobatics as she looked into his eyes.
What was this?
Scylla almost seemed embarrassed… and… yep. There it was – she was actually blushing!
He’d just wanted to enforce his words in a way she’d listen and believe. He hadn’t meant to make her uncomfortable. This certainly wasn’t the response he’d expected – though he knew he’d taken a bit of a risk in reaching out like that.
“I apologize… mayhaps you don’t fancy snails,” Amon coughed, trying to clear his throat. “I guess I never really asked.”
Her uncertainty was once something he’d revel in – when she was unsure of herself, it meant he’d triumphed. But for some reason, this time, her emotion was infectious. Instead of taking lead of the situation, Amon found himself not so sure how to respond, as well.
So he just sat there and let her heal his hands. Hopefully she’d focus on that and not take notice of the heat that gathered in the tips of his ears, a tell-tale sign of his own flustered state.
“Oh… they were good…” Scylla perked up, shaken out of her continuing deliberations. “It’s just that…”
Her voice trailed off as she brushed her own hair out of her face.
She couldn’t help notice that his ears were flushing, showing his own uncertainty in the situation. They always had a way of betraying him. She wondered if that is why he chose to wear ear-covers and large hats in his later days.
He’s vulnerable? Amon of the Tower… is vulnerable… and he’s letting it show… to me.
“Amon…” She closed her eyes, letting a deep sigh free, contemplating her next words carefully.
The more I lead him back to his powers, the more risk I take. But I have to know if he has truly changed.
“If you are going to use aether again, we are going to need to re-learn how to channel it.”
“It’s all different now.” She pulled his hands apart, holding them in front of him. “All of your patterning has shifted since you’ve come back from your injuries. If you attempt to channel aether the same way you did as when you were in the tower, you’re likely to harm yourself more than anything else. This time you burnt only the ends of your fingers. Next time, you could set your ears on fire.”
Scylla chuckled as her mind formed that picture.
“That is why, we need to find a way to retrain you to channel your talents.” The white mage mused. “And I think Ben has something just in mind.”
Amon blinked, taken aback by her sudden shift back into business-healer-mindset. He wasn’t sure what had just happened – it seemed from her words that Scylla did just a complete turn-about on the topic of his developing aetheric abilities.
It hadn’t been something he said –it couldn’t have been. What had changed her mind?
“I burned my fingers? I didn’t even notice.” The Elezen studied his fingertips, realizing this was why she’d been so intent on healing his hands.
Amon was always good about paying little mind to his own small physical pains. After all, pains like that had been constant companions in his previous life, especially in his later years.
What she said made sense, though. This was not his old body – a form fitted to withstand a large influx and flow of aether. A form made to accent and harness the energies of the Tower, even the vast temporal-tinged aether, and to bend them to his desires.
But then she mentioned Ben and his ears drooped slightly with displeasure. Re-learning magic was one thing. But re-learning magic at the whims of that strange mage was another.
“Ben?” Amon allowed his face and voice to reflect his incredulous response, “Really?”