Sylin woke the next morning, staring at an unfamiliar ceiling. He put a hand to his throbbing head, as a headache threatened to burst his skull. Sitting up, he noticed a familiar figure fast asleep against the bed besides him, as a towel fell from his forehead. What exactly happened last night?
He blinked his eyes to clear his vision. Dried tears clearly streamed her face. A sense of panic struck him. Did something happen to her brother? He looked around. But they weren’t in the hospital. He smacked his forehead in frustration, as he struggled to recall the previous day’s events. The last thing he remembered was leaving her brother’s hospital room to find her. He couldn’t even remember how he managed to get into the hospital.
Xiyana woke to find Sylin’s brows knitted, seemingly deep in thought.
“You…I,” he hesitated, noting her movements, “We…Your brother…did he?”
She shook her head, standing and placing a hand to his forehead to check his temperature, before letting out a relieved breath. His temperature was normal again, and his illusions were securely in place. “How are you feeling?”
“Me?” He asked, tilting his head in confusion, before flinching, and pressing a hand to the side of his head.
She reached toward him, concerned. Never knowing anything that could faze him, he’d always seemed so invulnerable to her. It never once occurred to her that she could one day lose him. But since last night, she couldn’t seem to shake the fear that it could one day happen. Even seeing him apparently stable didn’t fully comfort her. After all, he looked just as stable, just a day ago, moments before nearly scaring her to death.
“I’m fine.” He stated, brushing her extended arm aside, before staring intently into her eyes. “What happened yesterday?” That same serious expression. The one that he wore while healing her brother. A side of him that she wasn’t familiar with.
“You told me that you had some energy instability,” she answered, avoiding his gaze. The intensity coupled with the lack of the usual lightheartedness in his tone made her uncomfortable. It was like facing a stranger.
“Did I do anything to you?” He asked, grabbing her hand, squeezing tightly, voice suddenly urgent.
“What?” She asked, confused. Looking up at him, she found that despite the harshness of his grip, his eyes pored into her, genuinely concerned. Eyes that were more familiar. She let out a breath. “I was just afraid. Afraid that you were going to…” She paused, looking down and staring at the white blanket before her and taking a deep breath, before continuing, “…die. I was afraid I would lose you.”
“You should know me better than that,” he answered with a more familiar flirty tone. She looked up to find him grinning. “I wouldn’t put my life at risk to save another.” He continued, pausing deliberately for effect, before delicately cupping one side of her face with a hand, and whispering in her ear. “Not even if it brought a smile to my girl’s face. I can’t stand the thought of abandoning you lonely in the world.”
She wanted to hit him for that. He deserved it. Though she knew he was teasing her, the words hit too close to home. She wasn’t his girl, and he clearly told her off the previous day about having any thoughts like that. But at the moment she was too happy to care. The Sylin she knew was back. Eyes watering, she threw herself at him, burying her face into his shoulder as she drew him into a hug. He froze, seemingly startled at her reaction. But that didn’t matter. Everything else seemed insignificant compared to the thought of losing him. And right now, what she needed was to hold him for a while. Just a little longer…to persuade herself that he’s still here.
Xev pushed at the bed, forcing himself up. The presence of a warlock really set him off the edge yesterday. How could his sister associate with a person like that? And she acted so strangely after delivering breakfast, not even eating her portion, and not returning to check up on him thereafter. Though she did make a phone call every now and then, not coming in person was unlike her. Could the warlock have done something to her?
He moved toward the edge of the bed. Putting a foot to the ground, he immediately grimaced at his weakness and the resulting pain. As much as he hated to admit it, the warlock was right about injuring himself from standing too long, too soon. But the man’s presence the previous day really made his blood boil. Furthermore, the amount of stiffness he felt was definitely not as bad as what he expected, based on his previous experiences that left him bedridden.
He needed to secure a definite way to contact Xiyana. If she really was alone with the warlock, he needed a way to talk to her. To at least, convince her to stay away from the man for the time being. If the warlock was anywhere near as powerful as he suggested the day before, being alone near that man could put Xiyana in more danger than she realized. They needed more time to observe him. As her brother, he needed to make her aware of that. He struggled to reach for the phone on the nightstand beside his bed. He paused to catch his breath after placing his hand over the phone handle, frustrated over his body’s weakness and sluggishness at a time like this.
Finally, after what felt like a long wait, he dialed the number to the hospital front desk, as he recovered. “Nurse,” he said, addressing the woman that answered, “Can you to trace the number from the call that you forwarded me yesterday?”
For once, Sylin let her hug him in silence, likely an intent to genuinely share the moment with her once the shock wore off. They stood there for a moment in silence. Just as Sylin finally wrapped an arm around her back, hugging her back, she felt the gentle hum of her phone vibrating in her pocket.
“Ah, looks like someone else is pining for you,” Sylin laughed, immediately letting go of her. Then noting her hesitation to end the brief moment between them, he added, with a wink, “I think you’d better answer, before they die of heartbreak. I promise I won’t be jealous.”
She let go of him, slapping him on the side of his arm, before pulling out the device and looking down at the screen. “It’s the hospital.”
“Xiyana!” Shouted her brother’s voice over the gadget, as she placed the phone by her ear accepted the incoming call, the proximity and sudden loud volume directed at her ear causing her to flinch. She hadn’t expected her brother to be on the other side of the line. She changed her phone number recently, having lost her old phone transporting her brother to his current hospital. Since discovering her brother’s condition, she’s worked unceasingly, searching for and transferring her brother from one specialized hospital to another, hoping that some place had already developed a cure for petrification. Afterall, those old Harry Potter movies had to have some truth behind them right? But her efforts were met one with one disappointment after another, before she had no choice but to find Sylin, who agreed far more readily than she expected him to. With the urgency that she left the hospital the previous day, she had forgotten to give him the updated number.
“Where are you?” Her brother interrogated. “Are you with that warlock?”
She nodded, despite being over the phone, before speaking. “I’m with Sylin.”
“Are you okay? Did anything happen between the two of you?” Her brother asked, quickly firing one question after another. “Did he hurt you?”
“No, I’m fine.” she answered. “How are you doing? I’m sorry I didn’t stay long yesterday. Something came up.”
“Something to do with that warlock?” Her brother demanded. She could hear his anger spilling over through the connection.
“If it was, it would also be your fault.” She answered, taking a breath to keep her cool. Why did her brother have to be so unreasonable? He hardly even knew Sylin. A few moments of interaction could hardly count.
“So, it was because of that warlock.” Her brother concluded, tone almost malicious. “Stay away from that man. He was able to tell that I was a supreme tier. He might be more dangerous than I’d initially presumed.”
“Xev,” she huffed, growing exasperated at her brother’s prejudice toward warlocks. She still wasn’t even sure what Sylin was. Even if he was a warlock, she’s knows him well enough to trust him. “I’ve known Sylin since we were children. Ever since, you left for swordsman training. He won’t hurt me.”
“You can’t know what he’s thinking underneath.” Her brother asserted over the line.
“You’re right I can’t.” She acknowledged. “But I can’t read anyone else’s mind. Sometimes, you just need to trust.”
“Trust a warlock?” Her brother fumed.
“Yes.” She answered. “Race doesn’t determine who or what you trust. Character does. I’m done with this conversation.”
“Xiyana!” Her brother shouted over the line.
“See you in the hospital.” She said firmly, cutting her brother off, before hanging up the phone.
She sighed, as her phone vibrated with an incoming call from the same number. Setting her phone to silent, she returned her attention to the room. In their conversation, Sylin left to take a shower, presumably to give her some privacy. She sighed again, laying down onto the bed and staring up at the ceiling and letting the sounds of running water take her mind off all the questions racing through her head.