The next day I reluctantly climbed out of bed, yawning and stepping out of the tent.
I squinted as the light blared into my vision, adjusting the sleeve of my robe.
I turned at the sound of metal on metal and sighed dejectedly when I saw the troops moving out of the camp.
I glanced up to see Lucifer sitting on Destroyer, armored and smirking.
“Yes. Unfortunately.” I muttered, “You aren’t riding at the front of the party?”
“We have some ground before we meet the enemy. I’ll catch up by then.”
And here I thought he was letting go of that pride.
“What can I do for you?” I asked, rubbing my eyes.
“What?” he asked, his silver eyes laughing, “I can’t even say a simple goodbye?”
“No. Not when I’m this tired.”
He slid off the horse and walked closer, his movement impressively silent.
“I’ll admit I had an ulterior motive.”
Lucifer reached into the saddlebag on Destroyer’s side and pulled out a small jar.
“Might as well make it a tradition, no?”
I rolled my eyes and took it, popping off the top and dipping my fingers into the cool paint. He bent his face down so that I didn’t have to reach too far.
“Lucifer.” I started, sighing as I felt the pain replacing my grogginess, “If I could say something.”
“Of course, Commander.”
“Just…be careful, okay?” I asked, spreading the darkness down his cheek.
“I would almost think you were worried about me.”
I made a face.
“Oh please. All I’m saying is that I won’t be out there to watch your back.”
“I assure you, I have many people watching-“
“Seriously.” I continued, finishing, “Hell needs you. Intact.”
“Fine,” he sighed, taking the jar and replacing it in the bag, “I promise you I will return today without so much as a scratch. Happy?”
“Yes.” I beamed, “Behead a few for me, will you?”
“Always.” He replied, kissing me on the cheek before swinging back into the saddle.
I watched him ride into the rising sun, a smile on my face. I didn’t know what Charon was going on about. Lucifer could win the war alone.
“Stubborn, isn’t he?”
I turned, quickly turning back towards the sun when I saw who it was.
“I can see where you got it from.” I replied coolly, folding my arms.
“How’s the pain?” he asked, unmoving.
“Hurts like hell.”
A few moments of silence passed.
“You know…what you did was pretty brave.”
“You risked your life…for him.”
I couldn’t read his tone of voice, but it was respectful enough that I couldn’t throw too much snark at him.
“I guess. It was instinct.”
“You care about him.”
It was a statement, not a question.
“It’s my job to keep him and the kingdom alive.” I shrugged, my voice flat.
“It’s okay.” He replied, distant, “I care about him too.”
I didn’t bother replying so he continued.
“Look…um…I haven’t been the nicest lately-“
“-and I want to apologize.” He continued, ignoring my jab, “I’ve been going through a lot of…change. Not that that’s an excuse.”
I turned around and his expression looked fairly genuine.
“Is this because of the castle invasion? You’re not going to get back the vote for the Council-“
“-No, it’s not like that.”
He ran a hand over his face.
“I just…can we be friends again?”
His golden eyes pleaded with mine and I felt the scowl slipping off my face.
In that moment I recognized our similarity – outcasts, torn between hate and love for the families that had disappointed them. We were children in the midst of a war.
“No promises.” I replied gruffly, trying to ignore the grin on his face.
THE TRIO IS REUNITED AGAIN!
"Bob?" I asked incredulously, "Where were you?"