Isellta stroked Jay’s back in a comforting gesture as the guard carried him to Mark Caten’s office. He sang softly:
“Aish ka no me nae si na.
Aish ka shi oh mi na. Ooo.”
Am I comforting him or myself?
“Aish ka fae si shi sha.
Ooo-ooo. Ooo-ooo. Ooo.”
Does it matter? We both need it.
“Aish ka no fae mi da su.
Aish ka sae ni ma eh du.
Robin needed it too.
A memory stabbed him in the chest, silencing him…
Robin opened his eyes. “Make the hurtin’ stop. Ev’rythin’…all hurts…hungry…hurts…hungry…If…don’t get better…stake me?”
Isellta tilted his head. “If I stake you, you’ll die.”
Isellta puzzled his way through that one. “You’re asking me to kill you.”
He groaned out a broken, “Yes.”
“That doesn’t make sense. If I kill you, I’ll never see you again. Why would I want to do that?”
The memory stabbed him harder and deeper.
It was my fault he was hurt. Robin. My beautiful Robin. Can we start all over again?
No. I guess not. But I wish we could.
Robin, I miss you. And…and I’m scared. Scared of what I’m about to do. Scared that Her Majesty may have hurt you beyond healing. Oh, Robin!
“Hey.” Jay said. “You okay, kid?”
Isellta didn’t answer. He just kept stroking Jay’s back.
“Isellta. You okay?”
“I love you, Jay.” Isellta said softly. “You are my dearest friend.”
“Do you want to talk about what’s worrying you?”
Isellta shook his head.
“Okay, but you know if you wanna talk about it, whenever you want to talk about it, I’ll listen.”
He blinked quickly and nodded.
Jay stopped outside Mark Caten’s office.
Isellta clung to Jay’s shirt.
Robin, I will run into the fire for you.
Jay managed to open the door. Before he could go inside, Hank called out his name. Jay turned to face him.
Isellta involuntarily flinched at the sight of Preyuna.
“Hey.” Jay said back. “What’s she doing here?”
Preyuna scoffed. “Isn’t that the never ending question. Of course, the real question is why are you over here with Isellta? I’m sure you two aren’t sightseeing.”
“Isellta wanted to see you.”
“Jay,” Isellta said urgently. “Put me down. I need to be down.”
“Okay.” Jay lowered him to the floor. “You okay?”
Isellta looked at Preyuna and was unable to answer.
I have to do this. Robin. Oh, Robin! Help me! I’m scared. Am I making a mistake? But what else can I do? But I’m scared. I don’t want to do this. But I must.
Isellta straightened his shoulders and walked forward with Jay at his side. His heart raced and his nerves jolted as if he were approaching his executioner. He tripped and stumbled. His feet didn’t want to work right. His legs just wanted to buckle and give up.
But Jay kept him from falling. “I got you, kid. I’m right here.”
His wings flittered anxiously.
Jay’s going to be hurt. But what can I do? What else can I do? He’s going to be mad at me. He’s going to hate me. But there’s nothing else I can do!
They stopped in front of Preyuna.
She tilted her head. “So, what did you want to see me about?”
The fear overwhelmed him. He crumpled to his knees before Jay could catch him. “Your Majesty. I went down to the dungeon. I went into that cell. Robin. Robin’s scent was in that cell. Ohh! It was so strong. But I. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t see him. But his scent was there and.” He pressed his fist against his chest. “And I felt his presence. Your Majesty, I know he’s there. Or maybe…He was there?”
Preyuna didn’t say anything. She didn’t even react.
“Please. Help me. If you know where he is…If. If you’ll let me see him, if you let him go…”
No. No, I can’t! I can’t do it. I can’t say it. I don’t want to. I DON’T WANT TO!
But….Robin. My beautiful Robin.
I’m sorry, Jay.
“If you help us, I’m yours.”