The murmur of a soft voice infiltrated Jay’s dream. It wasn’t annoying like a bee or a gnat. Nor did it give him that Smack It Dead feeling like a mosquito’s drone. But it was terribly distracting. He couldn’t focus on any of the dream shenanigans going on around him.
So, he did the most sensible thing one can do in a dream. He woke up.
“Mnngh…” He cracked his eyes open a bit.
His eyes opened all the way. Isellta?
“I wish…I wish. I wish for so many things, my dear Jay.” Isellta paused. “I wish she could stay.”
Jay rolled onto his back and stretched out. “hnnngh…Isellta?” He sat up and looked towards the door. Sure enough, Isellta stood in the doorway. Jay quickly got out of bed.
Isellta turned pale and shook his head. “Don’t! I don’t want you to get hurt again.”
“What? Oh. Right.” He sat on the bed again. “The barrier. I forgot about that. Are you okay, kid? Does anything hurt?”
Isellta’s wings fluttered softly. “My dear Jay.”
“I mean it. Are you okay? Has she hurt you?”
Isellta lowered his gaze. “A little? Sh—she, umm.” He hugged himself. “She…I wasn’t…I…I didn’t….” His wings flattened against his back. “I don’t know why?”
Jay stood again, aching with the need to wrap that poor boy in a hug.
“I didn’t do anything wrong? I was just sleeping. That’s all. I—I…”
Jay felt like all of the air had been jerked out of his lungs. There was nothing to breathe. Nothing to gasp. No way to speak.
“But.” Isellta rubbed his arms. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”
“If she did what I think she did to you, no. Isellta, no. That is not okay. That’s the furthest thing from okay. It’s wrong.”
He didn’t respond or look up at Jay.
“You have to get away from her. Have her release the barrier. Tell her that you need—“
Isellta shook his head.
“—-to come back to me.”
He shook his head harder.
“Please! I can’t let you go through this. It’s going to destroy you in so many ways.”
“No.” He peeked up at Jay. “It is okay. If I make her happy, she’ll tell me when Robin comes. She’ll let me know.”
Jay took a step forward, which caused Isellta to take a step back. “I don’t want you to get hurt. I love you too much to stand by and let all of this horrible stuff happen to you.”
“She promised, though. She’ll keep her promise? I know she will?”
“But I can tell you when Robin comes. You don’t have to rely on her for that information. Isellta,” He held out his hand, even though there was no way for them to touch. “please.” He flared out his fingers. “Let me protect you.”
Isellta’s eyebrows quilted up and his lower lip trembled.
“If I do, she’ll be mad at me. She’ll come after me. I know she will. She’ll force me to stay with her and I won’t have a choice in the matter. Then, she really will hurt me and she’ll kill Robin when he comes. Jay, this…It’s better this way. Trust me on this, please?”