Sarah enjoyed the warmth of Jason’s embrace. Though they had never been able to touch in The Grove, there was a comforting familiarity to it. All too soon he pulled away and turned from her. He pulled the dagger out of the wall and proffered it to her hilt first. Sarah looked at him puzzled.
“Normally, the Nigiri blade goes to the surviving family as a reminder of the victim’s defiance to the Gods; however as the only survivor of a Nigiri assassination, I think it is only proper for you to have it.” He smiled, “A reminder that the Gods are on your side.”
Sarah gingerly took the knife as her head began to pound. “The only survivor?” She remembered the Prince’s disbelief in that fact. “So Nigiri assassinations don’t fail?”
“Normally Nigiri targets are ordained by the Gods,” Jason started.
But that was all Sarah heard. The pounding in her head quickly overrode everything. Her hands immediately went to her temples as she slowly sank to the ground. She barely noticed Jason stroking her hair. It seemed to take forever before the sound of his voice broke through.
“Sarah?” She looked up at him. “Sarah, are you well?”
“I'm fine,” she said a bit more testily than she meant to.
Slowly her head returned to its normal state and Sarah stood. Jason helped her up, keeping one hand on her elbow. His face was contorted with concern.
“You should get some more rest.”
“I’m sick of rest,” Sarah sighed and leaned against the wall.
“If it comforts you, my mother has arrived and would like to meet you tomorrow.” Jason sighed and leaned on the wall next to her. “Like as not she will take you to the capitol as soon as she meets you and...”
“WHY?” A drunken tortured voice startled the two of them.
Jason turned to look first, his instincts honed by years as a Scout. Sarah was only a second behind him. Someone stood beneath the willow tree. The figure leaned towards the trunk before collapsing in a heap at its base.
“Shouldn’t we help him?” Sarah asked when Jason turned back to lean against the wall. She studied the man as she waited for Jason’s response. There was something familiar about him.
“It is Mathew. He will be fine.” Jason shrugged. “The Gods will care for him.”
“Jay!” Sarah was shocked by his uncaring response.
“What?” He turned to face Sarah. “He is only drunk, that is all.”
“And you’re going to let him sleep it off, outside?” Sarah couldn’t believe this.
“He is under a Willow. He will be fine.”
“What the hell does a willow have to do with it?” She did not expect Jason to be so indifferent to Mathew.
“Well...” Jason began, but Sarah cut him off.
“Never mind,” her head had begun to hurt again. “Why don’t you want to help him? He’s a member of your scout troop and a friend.”
“First off, we are off duty. Secondly he is my bodyguard, not my friend. Certainly not a friend as you would think of one. And lastly he insulted your honor.” Jason crossed his arms and leaned against the wall.
“Jay?” Sarah choked on laughter, “I can defend my own honor you know.”
“You should not have to, not as a Lady.”
“Jay,” Sarah chuckled, causing him to look at her. “I’m not a Lady.” Something in his eyes made her place a hand on his arm. “Not that I can’t play the part, but please,” Sarah’s eyes begged him, “don’t think of me as something I’m not.”
Jason looked down a moment then back at her. “I cannot help it. It is the only way...” his hands floundered like his words.
Sarah caught them. “Okay, I’ll play Lady now, as I played Scout then. Just,” she looked into his eyes, “promise me that someday I can just be me.”
Jason bowed and kissed her hands. “I promise, Sarah.”
Before Sarah could respond they heard Mathew retching. “Can we go help him now?” Sarah asked.
“The Gods will care for him.” Jason stated. “You should get some rest.”
Sarah rolled her eyes. “And what if the Gods put us here to make sure he was cared for?” She placed her hands on her hips and watched him. Jason had clearly not thought about that possibility. “Why don’t you go get a bucket of water and I’ll get a cup and cloth.” He nodded.
Mathew was very inebriated. Sarah doubted he’d even remember her and Jason tending to him. Jay insisted on letting him sleep under the willow.
“It is not uncommon,” he told her as he led her back inside.
He said more, but the words were blurred by another headache. Damn, Sarah thought, they were getting annoying. She needed to figure out what triggered them. Sighing she closed her eyes to get what little sleep she could in the remainder of the night.