“I can smell your bleeding heart from down the hall. What? Are you having second thoughts? Or fourth? Or hundredth? I’ve lost count.”
Darryn let go his knees and lifted his head and uncurled himself to look up at Talya. She wore a sad sort of smile as she stood above him.
Darryn would have liked to deny it, but Talya would know the lie. “Yes.”
“He has to be stopped.”
“I know. I know.” Darryn buried his face in his knees again.
Talya sank down beside him. He felt the pleasant weight and warmth of her beside him, more solid for not being able to see her with his head to his knees. She could be anyone or anything, the deity who could wipe the responsibility from Darryn’s sloping shoulders. Her skirts and sleeves whispered as she shifted herself.
“So what are you going to do?” she asked. Her voice was quiet, a breath, a question for him alone. “I can’t do this for you, Darryn.”
“No.” Fear widened his eyes as he looked up to see her face near level with his. “Please,” he whispered, “don’t.”
She laid a hand on Darryn’s arm. “I know. But I wish you didn’t have to. I wish I knew another way.”
“There’s no other way.” Darryn knew it. Talya knew it. They’d talked the point to death.
“I’ll be there,” she said. “Beside you. If you want me to be.”
“I don’t. I don’t want you anywhere near him. You understand that, don’t you?” he asked.
“I,” she said, “do.”
“Promise me you’ll keep away. Let me do this. Alone.”
“I will,” she said. “I’ll keep away.” She bit her lip. Her hand retreated into the folds of her skirt. Darryn missed the warmth of it.
“Thank you,” he whispered, and he looked away. He suppressed a shiver.
“Darryn,” Talya asked, “what if you can’t?”
The line this week was mine, stumbled upon while driving to work one morning and percolating in the back of my mind since. The “boys” decided to be angsty (the dictionary declares this is not a word, and I think Merriam-Webster needs to get on that) today. I would have liked a little more sass. I may on a sassier day have to return to this line.