114 An Honest Discussion*
Rassa, Ebony and Aegin all sat around the table in the darkness of the apartment. Rassa had just spent an hour talking to them. He hadn't originally meant to spill everything, but once he started, it was hard to stop. And it felt so good to share it with someone, anyone. It was as if the mere act of saying it aloud was enough to give him some form of relief, as small as it was.
"It wasn't your fault," Aegin said, "Even with your skills, Rassa, no one can predict everything that will happen in a fight".
"He's right," Ebony agreed, "It's not your fault, and neither were the deaths of those before this. Those that imprisoned you deserved what they got".
"I didn't just kill those that imprisoned me," Rassa argued.
"No, you also killed those that attacked you out of fear. But everyone that left you alone? You let them go free," Ebony replied.
"That's hardly cause for praise," Rassa sighed.
"At least it proves your not the heartless monster you seem to peg yourself as," Ebony said, "After all, would a heartless monster care about what happens to a bunch of strangers?"
"I'm hardly a saint," Rassa said.
"I'm not saying you are," Ebony replied, "You can be arrogant and rude, and downright cruel, but only when you choose to be. A monster does not choose when he is a monster. He just is".
Silence lapsed between them.
"Look, we can't begin to imagine what you're going through, so I can't say that any advice we give will be worth it but..." Aegin paused, looking at Ebony for a second before turning back to Rassa, "But we are here. Here because we want to be, because we know you as a person and have judged you to be a worthwhile friend. Can you do us the small favour of accepting that? You've spent the last month trying to avoid it, but now that you've finally opened up..."
Aegin trailed off, the rest of his sentence left unspoken. He didn't want to say something presumptuous. He'd been guilty of that in the past and only succeeded in pushing Rassa further away.
"To be honest," Rassa began, "I'm not even sure why the two of you are here. You say I'm a worthwhile friend, but what have I ever done to prove that to you. The only commonality between the two of you was that we met in an environment where I had no chance to hide what I was. You both knew from the beginning. And yet, unlike those who found out later, after I'd had the chance to act with some semblance of normality, you stayed. Why is that?"
Ebony and Aegin looked at one another, their gazes unsure, then they looked back at Rassa.
"Well if we're being honest..." Aegin said, "I've got no clue. It just felt...I don't know, right seems like the wrong word-"
"Safe," Ebony said, "It felt safe. Not because you couldn't hurt us, we know you could. It felt safe because for once, there was someone who had no expectations regarding who we were and who we were supposed to be. You were just you. I was a slave all my life, every master I had always expected the best from me, and I was punished severely when I didn't deliver. While I don't know Aegin's story, I know he can relate. But when you came...there was no judgement, no ulterior motive, you were upfront and honest about what you were, and allowed us to make our own decisions. You have no idea how liberating that feels. How safe it feels to be beside the person who made you feel that way. I think that's why we're both still here".
The three of them lapsed into silence before Aegin spoke again, "You taught me to go after what I wanted, not what others want of me. To question rather than blindly comply. I'm thankful for that, so in a way, I think what Ebony's saying is right. You don't expect anything from us, and despite your best efforts to remain aloof, you give back to us more than you'd think, in ways that seem completely unimportant. We consider you a friend for sure. But I think the three of us are not as simple as that".
Rassa knew what Aegin was talking about. No friends interacted the way they did.
"We're all lost, and somehow, without meaning to, we've found each other," Ebony spoke.
Rassa couldn't disagree with what they'd said. If that was how they felt, then he was happy they were content. But that didn't change the fact that despite their best efforts, they couldn't really help him. He was alone in the Chaos. He'd been thinking as much for the past month but hadn't wanted to admit it to himself. After all, facing eternity on his own didn't seem all that exciting. It sounded like more routine. More mundaneness.
"Rassa?" asked Aegin in the silence.
Rassa looked up at Aegin, then at Ebony, "Thankyou, I appreciate your honesty. But the fact of the matter is that I am still dangerous. I will get you killed. But more importantly, I'm not sure I can take our friendship to heart".
"What do you mean?" asked Aegin.
"Should I not meet an untimely end, I will never die," Rassa said, "I will reach full maturity, then age no longer. That is what I face, and I must face it alone. It may seem silly for me to deny this now, but in a few decades, when you're both old and frail and I am still the same as I am today...I don't think I can handle more loss than I already have. You saw what loss has done to me. You've been seeing it ever since we came here. I'm not sure I have the strength for it".
Ebony and Aegin were silent for a while before Ebony spoke up again.
"In the end, when you are looking back on your eternity, do you truly wish to feel nothing at all?" asked Ebony, "Do you truly wish to know in yourself that you denied every connection you could for fear of losing it?"
Rassa opened his mouth to deny her, but stopped. That was exactly what he was doing. He was being a coward, "Putting it that way doesn't change the fact that I will continue to suffer loss".
"We will one day lose you too," Ebony replied, "But we do not fear that. We don't take joy in knowing it either, but we don't fear it. Loss is a part of life. If you do not lose, are you truly living?"
Rassa didn't argue back this time, instead, he stood and moved towards his room, pausing at the door.
"So, what now?"
"What do you mean?" asked Aegin.
"Thought you were bored of the Port, what do you want to do now?"
"What do you want to do?" asked Aegin.
"I've got eternity to find out, better we pay attention to the desires of you mortals first," Rassa replied, a small smile on his lips before he turned and headed into the bedroom.