Jesse has never felt so empty in her entire life. There was a strange numbness that seemed to encase her entire being. So many questions, so many ‘ifs’ crowded her mind. She wondered if anything was real, and if she maybe was in some strange dream, where she couldn’t wake up.
She couldn’t bear look at what was left of Reuben, she put it delicately in her personal chest, closing the lid and swearing to never look at it again. Then she just seated herself on the windowsill of her treehouse, gazing out there to the unchanging world.
It was strange.
Everything else seemed the same, though. Trees rustled in the wind, clouds moved across the sky, the sun rose and it set, so did the moon. Everything was the same.
Maybe if she closed eyes hard enough, maybe things really would be the same.
Jesse just had to close her eyes hard enough.
But no matter how tight she shut her eyes, the tears still seeped from the corners of her eyes. Jesse wasn’t even aware when she really started crying, when she stopped, when she slept, or when she was awake, or when anything happened really. It was like she was stuck in this utterly sameness limbo.
It almost felt like a dream, if she believed hard enough. Perhaps it was.
All of it...it didn’t make sense. The image of her beloved friend falling to his death, the numbness she felt as she felt him disappear from her fingertips.
Leaning her head against the glass, wondering how it would feel if she just disappeared too. It was only fair.
“Has Jesse...come out at all?” Lukas asked the group who were all mulling at the foot of the treehouse.
Olivia gave him a saddened look. “No. I don’t think she’s even moved. She hasn’t touched the food we left there for her.”
“All she does is stare out the window.” added Axel. “We tried talking to her, but...It’s almost like she’s become a statue. It’s sort of creepy.” He admitted. Olivia shot him a disapproving look, shaking her head. Axel only looked away and fiddled his fingers.
“Reuben was her best friend. He had been with her even before she met us.” explained Olivia, who sighed. “I can’t imagine how much hurt she must be feeling. I think she just needs more time.”
Petra stabbed her sword on the makeshift table they had made outside the treehouse, startling on the others. She glared at the other three. “If we leave Jesse to mope any longer in there alone, she’ll die. Or even worse, she’ll live, but she might as well be dead.”
The others stared at Petra, a bit in shock, but they knew she was at least somewhat right about that. They couldn’t let Jesse stay there for the rest of her life.
“Petra, I know we all want Jesse to feel better.” Lukas finally said. “But I think we should at least give her a little more time to just think things through. Reuben was important to her.”
Petra stared at him evenly back. “And Jesse’s important to me. If she doesn’t come down tonight, I’m going up there to talk to her about it.”
The warrior glared at the three others, seeing if anyone was going to challenge her decision, but none of them said a word. Petra took it to them as agreeing with her, or at least allowing her the chance to talk to Jesse.
There wasn’t enough ‘sorrys’ in the world that anyone could give to Jesse that would make her feel better. Her beloved friend, Reuben, was gone. Aside, Petra was also hurt by Reuben’s death, she had only known him a pretty short while considering how long Jesse knew him. Reuben had been by her side the whole time she was sick with the Wither Sickness. He was a good friend, the best pig in the world in her opinion. Even so, she didn’t know Reuben as well as Axel, Olivia, and especially Jesse.
Try as she might, Petra wasn’t really good with the whole emotional department. Like Olivia said, she didn’t know how much this hurt Jesse. But there’s one thing she knew, that if she didn’t get over this death soon, the Jesse that saved the world, the Jesse that they all knew, the hero, would be dead. Locked away, consumed by grief and sadness.
Petra wouldn’t let that happen. Not to the friend who had risked her life to save her and the whole world. It wouldn’t be fair.
As per her word, Petra hung out by the base of the treehouse, waiting to see if Jesse might’ve somehow recovered and would come down the ladder. But as expected, she was nowhere to be seen. No one stopped her from climbing up the ladder. Even though they seemed against her trying to pry Jesse too fast, they knew that Petra was right at some regard.
When Petra pushed opened the hatch and climbed through, she was overwhelmed by such an intense feeling of sadness and grief in the air. Petra inwardly grimaced. She really wasn’t good with this kind of stuff, but no one else seemed brave or confident enough to be able to pull Jesse out of her depressive stupor or at least make her feel a little better. Ironically, Jesse would usually be the one hearing everyone out.
It was just so...quiet up there.
Petra closed the trap door and noticed Jesse sitting on the window sill. Like the others had said, she was just gazing out the window, but she wasn’t really facing it. She was just looking outside out of the corner of her eyes. Nearby was a table, with several pieces of food sitting on top of it. It was probably left by Axel and Olivia, but from the looks of it, she hadn’t touched it at all.
There was a single torch nearby that illuminated the room enough for Petra to see the dark circles under Jesse’s eyes. It was sort of scary, to see how frail and weak Jesse had become. Just a few days ago, she stood strong and proud, leading the small team against the monstrous Witherstorm. Now, she squeezed herself into a small corner, looking smaller and broken than she had ever been.
“...Jesse.” Petra said softly, trying to see if her friend would respond, but Jesse made no movement to acknowledge her.
It sort of hurt Petra to realize that she had been sitting up here this whole time on her own. She knew the others were being wary and had sort of scattered about, under the guise of giving her space, but it felt so lonely. Somehow, Petra really felt that.
Unsure what really to do, Petra instead pulled up a chair, putting it right next to the window sill, thereby putting it right next to Jesse. She sat down quietly and leaned back on it. She had said that she wanted to talk to Jesse, but now that she was here, it didn’t feel right to just start talking, especially if Jesse didn’t seem to want to talk or listen. Petra couldn’t let her be alone anymore. Not when she’s like this.
So the two just sat in silence.
They say together quietly. Petra wasn’t sure if she was helping, but she hoped she was.
It was only when the sun finally set and the darkness had truly set in did Petra finally see some movement from Jesse other than weary blinking. She turned her head to Petra. Jesse looked at her, but her eyes seemed so empty and dead.
“I’m here, if you need me.” Petra assured her quietly, breaking the silence of the room.
There wasn't any response and honestly Petra didn't expect one. She just wanted Jesse to know she was there and she wasn't going to leave.
But after a while Jesse did speak.
"Petra…" she started. "Is Reuben really gone?"
Petra was a bit taken back by this question. It seemed obvious and maybe a little silly in some way, but this was a grieving individual. It would be wrong to hold it against her.
"Yeah, but he was a hero. Everyone thinks so too." Petra said in response. She hoped she just wasn't saying anything wrong.
"I can't believe it... It's all a bit hard to remember he's not coming back. I remember losing my grip and him falling, and dying in my arms...but I still don't want to believe it." drawled Jesse.
"I'm...sorry this happened, Jesse. I really am." Petra wished she had anything better to say but she really didn't.
"Why couldn't it have been me?" Jesse asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
Petra blinked, unsure if she was really hearing what she was hearing. "What?"
For the first time in a while, Jesse finally sat up, looking at Petra with a fresh stream of tears running down her face. "If I had held on a little tighter. If I had thrown Reuben out when he jumped in…." bargained Jesse. "Maybe if I had died instead Reuben would still be alive…" At the last statement she leaned back, hugging her knees close and looked away.
There was nothing but pure hysteric grief in her voice. So remorseful, tired, and just sad. It was a lot for Petra just to hear. There was no one who could hear this plea bargain and be able to grant Jesse's wish. All Petra knew is that Jesse shouldn't feel like this. Being sad was one thing, but self blame wasn't really high up on things she should be feeling right now. Maybe not on the list at all.
Jesse had always been someone quick to blame herself. When Ellegaard died, when the bomb failed to truly kill the witherstorm, what happened to her and Gabriel. Petra didn't really know Jesse well enough to really know why she does this. Maybe in the past, or maybe it’s just the pressure of being the hero to end things all. Petra admired her sense of responsibility, but she shouldn't he consumed by her guilt whenever something wrong happens. Jesse is only human too.
“Jesse, I’m not really good at, you know, these feeling things.” admitted Petra, sitting up and looking at Jesse. “But there’s one thing I know, I’m glad you survived.”
Suddenly, Jesse turned to look at her as if she just realized something. She seemed to think for a moment before finally speaking. “When Reuben saw me, he was in a lot of pain, but...I saw him smile at me.” She looked down to her hands. “I thought, he was thinking that I could help him, but…” More tears fell off her face. “I knew he was happy to see I was alive. That’s why he smiled. He was happy that he died to save me.”
“Reuben loved you. He was a hero.” agreed Petra. She wasn’t much for physical contact, but she reached over and pat her on the back. “I’m sure he was happy in his last moments, to have you by his side.”
“Even if I know that.”Jesse continued. “Petra...I…” Jesse looked at her with just intense grief. “I still miss him.”
The emotions in the room were so intense that Petra thought she would start tearing up too when Jesse finally put her head in her hands and just start weeping quietly. But Petra thought she would be strong for her friend and instead sort of slung her arm around Jesse’s shoulder, just to let her know she was there.
Jesse continued to cry for the entire night it seemed. Petra has never been around this much crying before, and it was a little awkward, but she was glad that she was helping Jesse, at least she hoped. She didn’t really say anything more on her feelings. Petra guessed that she maybe just wanted someone to tell her that Reuben was happy in his last moments. Or maybe she just wanted someone to talk to. After that talk, the atmosphere seemed a little lighter, like someone had poked a hole and finally all the heaviness was leaking out slowly.
Eventually, Petra ended up falling asleep sometime throughout the night. She was sure Jesse had as well, because she felt someone leaning against her in the midst of her sleep. Petra dreamed that she saw Jesse smiling and laughing about something funny. She seemed so far away and Petra didn’t know if these were just memories or if she was thinking of the days to come. But it felt like even though it was far away, the Jesse she knew would come back eventually. Petra was happy with that.
The chirps of a parrot caused Petra to wake up. She blinked open her eyes, realizing that it was sometime in the morning now. To her surprise, behind her head was a pillow and a blanket was draped over her. She rubbed her eyes, feeling confused about how this happened. Her side felt cold and Petra soon realized that Jesse was no longer by her side.
“Jesse?” she asked. Petra looked around and then saw someone sitting at the table, munching on some bed.
“Hey, Petra.” Jesse said, between bites. She still looked exhausted and tired, still a bit sad, but she did look less broken than she did when Petra came to visit her last night. Petra stared a little dumbstruck at her, but Jesse sheepishly grinned. “Sorry, I was a little hungry. I didn’t leave anything for you.”
That snapped Petra out of her daze. “Oh, don’t worry about it. I’m sure I can wrangle up something to eat later outside the treehouse.”
At that statement, Jesse looked outside again at the rising sun. She still looked so sad, but there was a new light in her eyes, a small one, but it was there. At least, there now seems to be a way to recovery, it looked like.
“Outside…” Jesse said softly. She pursed her lips and seemed like she wanted to cry, but she just sighed instead. Then she looked at Petra with a small smile. “Do you mind if I accompany you?”
By the end of the week, Jesse regained a lot of the color she lost, each moment gaining a bit of herself and piecing it all together. It was still obvious that Jesse was still sad and grieving, but it seemed like she was dealing with it much better.
Turns out the townspeople were really grateful towards what Reuben did after they found out what had happened. With Axel and Olivia coordinated the people of Beacontown to create a memorial for Reuben. When Jesse had laid eyes on it, she was stunned. Petra thought she start crying, but she just gave everyone just a really thankful smile, maybe crying a bit. She thanked everyone.
She became well enough by the end of week to make a speech about their adventures and to place the new beacon lights in the center of town. Petra had expected for Jesse to mention something about Reuben during her speech, but she didn’t say a thing about him, but Petra knew what she was glancing at from across where she was standing.
After the speech, Petra was just chilling out as the townspeople dispersed, apparently going ahead and trying to rebuild their town, some went to clamor around Jesse, but was quickly chased away by Olivia and Axel, who knew that Jesse just needed some space.
Then, Jesse approached her, a smile on face. She seemed to wave goodbye at Axel and Olivia then came to sit by Petra.
“Hey Petra, what are you up to?” asked Jesse, as she sat down, looking at her friend.
“Not much. Just waiting around I guess.” admitted Petra.
“What are you planning to do after this?’ Jesse turned to her questionably. “Going back to doing your own thing again?”
Petra pursed her lips, realizing that she hadn’t really thought about what she wanted to do after this. She thought back to what she was doing back then. Just doing odd jobs here and there for people, getting loot in return, which she would use to go on more minute adventures for odd jobs. Looking back, that stuff just seemed so...lame. The adventure she had with Jesse, it was fun. Sure, she was sick the whole time, but there was something that ignited the spark of adventure in her.
“You know…” started Petra, glancing at Jesse out of the corner of her eye. “I think I might stick around for a while.” She stopped for a moment. “If you are going out and stuff, maybe I can…” Petra suddenly grew very shy. “...you know…” She hoped Jesse would fill in the blanks, but Jesse just stared blankly at her.
“I mean, I could accompany you guys, if you don’t mind…” Petra felt herself growing beet red at this. It wasn’t like her to act like this.
Thankfully, Jesse laughed, quelling a bit of Petra’s worries, but it made her feel like a bit of a fool. “I’d love to have you around, Petra.” Jesse told her. “You’ve become a really good friend.”
“Yeah, uh...thanks. I’ll stay…” Petra managed to say, before her shame seemed to overtake her.
The conversation took a short pause there, as the two sat together. It was frustrating to Petra how much she had changed from the way she used to be before. She used to be proud strong, adventuring by herself was fun...but, it was peaceful to be like this, Petra liked being around Jesse. She didn’t really know what about Jesse made her so drawn to her, but it she was certain it was why everyone else seemed to gravitate towards her. Jesse was that sort of person she guessed.
“Petra…” Jesse spoke up, breaking the silence, turning to look at her seriously. “I just want to say...thank you for coming up to talk to me back up in the treehouse.” She kicked her legs impatiently a little. “I was...in a really dark spot. Having you there, it made me feel a lot better.”
“No problem.” Petra said curtly, feeling embarrassed once more. “I know you would’ve done it for me.”
Jesse then grinned. “I didn’t know you were such a big ol’ softie.”
If Petra wasn’t already embarrassed before, she definitely was now. Her face flushed and she turned to Jesse in earnest. “I’m not. No, definitely not.”
The dark-haired girl raised her eyebrow questionably and Petra could only sulk and give her the stink eye, but they both knew that Petra didn’t really mean it. Then the two burst out laughing.
It was comfortable like this.
Jesse was soft and fun to be around, she made her feel better when the going got tough. Jesse had done so much for her ever since they met, Petra felt a strong urge to just repay the favor.
This all sort of felt like she finally had a place to belong. Before, she had wandered all over the place, never really staying in one place for too long. But this...she could get used to this. It feels like she belonged by Jesse's side.
Petra hoped that times like these, with Jesse, would last forever.