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Trust is a privilege we can't afford

Chapter Text

The hospital's corridors were silent bar his footsteps as he paced up and down the room, hands fidgeting behind his back and expression grim. His legs were beginning to feel numb, yet he was unable to stop himself, fearing that if he did his rapidly beating heart would shut down. He couldn’t understand why his mind wouldn’t rest. He knew that her injuries weren’t severe in the first place, and he knew the best doctors were assigned anyway. So why was he so- so-

Worried?

Fen shook his head with a snarl. This was sentiment’s doing, it had to be. It’s human to be sentimental, and unfortunately, he is still human. No matter how much he tells himself otherwise, he still feels. He knows that much, and has learnt to live with the fact. Yet this feels different somehow. Unlike other times where he could justify it, there was no reason for him to be worried now. Melia would be fine, logic dictated as such.

“Sir.”

The captain’s voice brought him out of his thoughts. With a dreary sigh, he turned to address the man. “What is it.”

“People will ask questions.” he said with furrowed brows. “About why you let them go.”

The captain states the obvious. He knew the repercussions the moment he gave the word, he knew he could find a way out.

“Then let them ask, captain. It does not concern me.”

“You let two people who we all saw cooperating with an agent of La Riiz escape. And they were with the 'Blue Eyed Black Fox’ no less. I fear your authority will come into question, sir.”

“We both know that he has full trust in me, captain. It’s only his opinion that I should care about, not that of your subordinates. You should do the same.”

The captain shook his head. Whether in disagreement or disappointment, Fen couldn’t tell. “In any case, I came here to tell you that the doctors have finished. You may… interrogate her now.” He walked past Fen, head low all the while. “Don’t get carried away by your emotions now, sir.” he whispered.

To never throw their duties away for the sake of petty human emotions. That was what Fen, and those before him were taught. The captain knew all too well, having served 3 others before the blond now, how difficult that task really is. He always claimed that Fen was the least likely to falter. He wondered if that opinion had changed.

Fen clicked his tongue. It didn’t matter. He had a job to do, so he briskly made his way to the room Melia was held in.

Truth be told, it was a disgusting sight to behold. An old torture chamber that had since been refurbished and made into an interrogation room. Remnants of its original nature were scattered throughout, from the restraints to the mechanisms he knew were the cause of many slow and painful deaths.

The room was cut into half, one for observation, and one for interrogation. A one way mirror allowed him to see the state Melia was in. The sorceress looked worse for wear, skin as white as the walls designed to unnerve surrounding her. Her hands and legs were clamped to the bed she laid in by magic restraining metal, giving her little room to move. No chance of escape.

Or at least, there wouldn’t have been if it wasn’t Melia.

Unknown to many, Melia’s powers aren’t defined by the same restrictions as normal magic. Those restraints would’ve done nothing to control her. So why then, why does she lay still?…

The answer was actually made clear to him the instant he saw her face, but he refused to accept it. Refused to accept the fear that he recognised as originating from some form of trauma written all over her face. He couldn’t sympathise, much less empathise with the enemy. Regardless of past relationships, Melia was now as much of an enemy as the demons they fought against.

With a deep breath, he pushed open the door that stood between him and his suspect. He ignored the gasp he elicited, and moved to sit on the chair in front of her bed.

“Melia.”

The sorceress doesn’t respond to his greeting, choosing instead to look away with her eyes shut tight.

“Let’s get this over with quickly. You are going to answer my questions in full honesty, and will divulge any and all details in regards to La Riiz’s plans. If you don’t, I can’t guarantee you that your death be merciful.”

She frowned at him, still unwilling to open her eyes. “Will you believe me if I told you I’m against La Riiz?” the question sounded more like a statement.

“Prove to me I should believe you then. Tell me everything.”

“I don’t know everything.”

“Sure you don’t. Vice-commander of the La Riiz 3rd Magus Division, and you don’t know everything.”

“After all we’ve been through… you still don’t trust me.” she says after a pause. He noted that she bit her lip ever so subtly, and her fists clenched.

“I can’t trust anyone. You know that, don’t you? You can’t either. Isn’t that why you didn’t tell anyone about what happened? To cause you to not like this situation?”

Melia’s fist turned white, and her eyes shut even tighter. He had found a point to attack, much to his chagrin.

“Is it the restraints? Is it the gown you’re wearing? Is it the room’s colour? Perhaps it’s all of the above.” Melia’s lip had turned red, so Fen pushes on. “Were you reminded of how La Riiz treats their victims? How they’re tortured before being disposed of? Are you disgusted by reminders of the true nature of the demons you chose to work for?”

“Shut up!” Melia snapped. The sudden activation of her powers broke her restraints. “You think you know everything, but you don’t! I didn’t choose to work for La Riiz, they forced me to! I wasn’t involved in torturing victims, was one of them!” The tears flowed from her now open eyes, wide with pain and sorrow.

The oldest trick in the book. Rile them up so they spat it all out. Melia fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. In order to make full use of it, one had to know what were the soft spots and be unable to feel bad for the person at the receiving end. Fen hated that couldn’t fulfill the second requirement for this one specific case.

“Oh? How would you prove that you speak the truth? How would you prove to me this isn’t all some elaborate ploy to make me feel bad for you, and collaborate with you?” he forced a grin. “Tell me, my friend.”

The room turned cold, and Fen felt himself frozen in place. Time had come to a halt, and Melia was glaring at him, her tears still streaming down her cheeks.

“I could’ve escaped the moment I woke up, Fen. But I didn’t. I didn’t because it would’ve made me look more suspicious. I didn’t because I had hoped after saving your life, you would trust me enough to believe me. So why- why don’t you?!”

Fen sees the balls of energy crash all around him, destroying everything in the room him and the chair he sat on. Time returned, and with it, his movement. He pushed himself off his chair, catching the sorceress as she slumped forward with a pained grunt.

“You’re supposed to be smart, Melia. Overexerting yourself isn’t very smart.”

“Please Fen, you-”

“We’ll speak again. If this was a performance, it was a very convincing one. Now rest, and I’ll see what I can do about changing the room you’re held in.” he said as he moved Melia back into her bed.

“Fen… I want to fight La Riiz. Please believe me.” Melia begs weakly.

“I will once you tell me what you know, but that can wait until you’re rested enough that I’m sure your memory won’t be impaired by lethargy.”

She fell asleep giving him a weak thanks. Fen made his way out of the building to prepare a report, only to be caught at the door by the commander without his helmet, and a face Fen hadn’t seen for a long time.

“I thought you should know Fen, I doubt she’s involved. When we cornered them, she looked unwilling to fight. Then she saved your life from that assassin, and we both know how much La Riiz love their assassins. To explicitly order that her life is ignored to kill the rest of us… they must see her more as a threat now.”

“And why, commander, would you tell me such a controversial opinion?” Fen asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Because I want you to know that at least one other person reached the conclusion you did, my student.” the knight shrugged. “I know how frustrating it is when people with less intellect doubt you after all.”

“Hmph. I haven’t heard you refer to me as your student for a long time.”

“Yes, well… my age has made me less capable of upholding my teachings you see. I wanted you to know I still have the utmost trust in you.” his teacher smiled as he patted his shoulder. “I should go now. Be wary, Fen. If even my old eyes can see you trust her, then the scum who keep trying to overthrow you can too.”

"You should know, commander. I don't trust her one bit. I'm merely toying with her. I'll get information out of her one way or another." a chuckle was all he got in response

As his teacher walked away, Fen sighed. He really had become soft. He gave it a moment’s thought, and reached the only logical explanation why.

It was Rayas’ fault.