Even after the initial confession from Jowd, Cabanela wasn't quite satisfied. He still wanted to hear the story one more time and get more details out of him. That evening, rather than head straight home, the two elected to take a long walk along a riverside path. There was nobody else around and the tranquil scenery made a perfect setting for their serious conversation. Jowd went over it all in painstaking detail with only the occasional question from Cabanela pressing him further.
When all was said and done, Jowd stopped and turned his gaze toward the horizon. The sun was halfway down, casting a golden glow over the purple hued sky. "Well, anything else you want to know?"
Cabanela was silent for a long while, gazing into the distance with a solemn look. "No matter how many times I hear it, I just feel completely overwhelmed. I keep going over it in my head again and again. So, I really never visited you once during those five years?"
"Not at all. You focused on climbing the ladder and keeping a spotless record, all so you could reach the top. All that, to save me." Jowd turned around to see the guilty expression on his friend's face. "I promise you, it was all for my sake."
Cabanela shook his head. "But it's just so hard to swallow. I really never came to see you in prison. You mentioned that stuff about rumours, about keeping a spotless white coat, and something rubs me the wrong way about it. I know it was all for you, but still, just what must you have thought of me?"
Jowd responded with a slight shrug. "What does it matter?"
"I want to know, Jowd." Cabanela's voice was firm. "Come ooon, it can't be any worse than the stuff I've already heard. People thought I was a shady character, didn't they? That I only caaared about climbing the ranks and would do anything to keep that spotless white coat. You doubted me too, didn't you?"
Jowd looked down at his feet. "Yes. I suppose I did. You did your best to make it seem like you only cared about your spotless record. Even Lynne ended up doubting you. When you arrested me, I honestly thought it was all for the sake of keeping clean, but I was wrong. I'm sorry."
Cabanela slowly shook his head. "No. I understand completely. It was all on me. At least the truth came out in the end." He put a hand to his head. "You could have gone to the gallows thinking that I no longer cared about you."
"If it hadn't been for Sissel, I would have. We wouldn't be standing here right now." Jowd exhaled, raising his head and looking to the horizon. "After losing Alma, all I wanted was to die. I was pretty jaded at that point. I really believed dying was the right thing to do."
Cabanela swallowed, forcing back the lump in his throat, and blinked his prickling eyes. He lowered his head. "Gods. It's all just so much to take in."
Jowd moved closer to Cabanela and put his hands on his shoulders. "I know."
"I should have been there for you. Why wasn't I? It doesn't make any sense. I abandoned you and made you lose faith in me. It's so hard to believe."
"It's alright," Jowd murmured. "You had your reasons. Still, you were thinking of me the whole time and doing your best to save me. You really are one of the best friends I could ever ask for. Thank you, Cabanela."
Cabanela raised his head, his teary eyes meeting with Jowd's. "Jowd..."
"I will never lose faith in you ever again."
Cabanela leaned in, wrapping his arms around Jowd. Jowd embraced him in return and the two held on tightly.
"I'm so glad that it all worked out," Cabanela choked out, his voice muffled by Jowd's coat. His tears slipped free, soaking into the fabric. "Losing Alma, losing you, I couldn't bear it. I can't imagine life without either of you."
"And you won't have to anymore."
When the two pulled apart, the sun had almost completely disappeared beyond the horizon. Jowd raised his gaze to the rapidly darkening sky. "It's growing dark. Guess we'd better be heading off home, eh?"
"Riiight. Alma must be wondering where we got to. Let's not keep her waiting, baby." Cabanela whirled around and set off with a jaunty gait, Jowd following him.