Aramis had too much on his mind, but he was too exhausted to keep his eyes open. He stretched out a hand and gently shook Azal awake. “Wake up,” he said softly, trying not to wake Bhavik. “It’s your watch.”
The tiefling raised herself up on one elbow and yawned dramatically. ”’Kay,” Azal muttered. “I miss anything?”
Aramis shook his head. “It’s been quiet. Well, the Citadel’s been quiet; you haven’t.”
“What do you mean?”
“You were saying Talgen’s name, over and over.”
“Was I?” She rubbed sleep from her black eyes and dragged herself upright. “I must have been dreaming about him…”
“Are you in love with him, Azal?” Not ‘do you love him’, Aramis thought. We both love him as a brother, at least…
Aramis knew her well enough to see her blush; most people would have missed the response in the redness of her skin. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she announced, her voice laced with warning.
“You’re just so desperate to find him; I thought that might be the reason.”
“He’s our friend, and it’s our job. What business is it of yours how I feel about him!” she hissed. Bhavik stirred and rolled over before his light snore returned.
“You two are my best friends,” the cleric replied calmly. “And if your heart overwhelms your head down here, it could get all of us killed. That makes it my business.”
Azal growled and slumped against the wall, her dagger suddenly in her fingers. She turned it over in her hands, staring at it, ignoring Aramis for an uncomfortable while.
Aramis moved closer to her, saying “You’re a very proud woman, and you don’t want to need anybody. I understand that. And maybe you don’t want to love Talgen, for fear that he won’t love you back.”
“I don’t want to lose his friendship,” she said, not looking at Aramis. “I don’t have that many, you know.”
“That’s true, but the ones you have would walk through fire for you. And you know that Talgen doesn’t care that you aren’t human… why not take the chance? Are you afraid you’ll win him, then lose him, and end up like me?”
That got her attention. “I’ll tell you this,” he continued. “Everything I’ve been through since Celeine died – all of this misery – was worth it for the years I got to spend with her. Even if I never know another hour of gladness until the day I die, it was worth it.”
“You can’t mean that.”
“When have I ever lied to you?”
“Never.” Azal dabbed the corner of one eye.
“So. Are you in love with Talgen?”
She nodded before she could say “Yes.” She was on the brink of tears now; Aramis put an arm around her, and she went slack in his embrace, quietly weeping.
“We’ll find him, Azal. I swear it. You’ll have your chance to tell him.”
She didn’t protest. Instead, she sniffed loudly, as if to say she was done crying, which caused Bhavik to stir again. “Celeine,” she said. “I wish I’d know her.”
“She made me very happy,” the cleric sighed. “Maybe Talgen will do the same for you. Don’t give up on him yet.”
“Thank you, Aramis.”