Chapter Fourteen: Gambit

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As Leo left the dream realm, the scene shifted. Riku was lying on a beach chair, overlooking the ocean. As his kimono turned into a pair of swimming trunks, he relaxed, watching the waves build and collapse. Before long, an attractive teen about his age came over and handed him a drink, then disappeared. Riku sipped the drink and continued to watch the waves. He gave a small smile.

“This must be what it’s like to truly be carefree,” he said to himself as he took another sip of his drink.

“I wonder if we’ll ever get sent to a beach.” he began to muse. “We would if we were in an anime series.”
His mind began to wander, wondering what the plot of the episode would be, when suddenly the scene began to change. Riku was on his feet, a katana materializing in his hands. The waves turned into a courtyard type area, the sand turning into a hallway, with large glass windows lining each side. He watched as the hall filled with uniformed students, most of them halfway or completely transparent, some walking in slow motion and some walking at a quick pace. Despite all of the students, the hall was completely silent, save a single conversation.

“Did it take long to get here?” One male voice asked.

“Not as long as you anticipated, Gideon.” the other voice said. “But long enough.”

Riku quickly memorized the boy’s uniform and shifted his kimono to match. He shifted his own appearance, making himself transparent. He began to approach where the voices were speaking.

 

Leo sat up as he regained consciousness. He turned to see Lucia with a tall energy drink in her hand. Lara stood next to her, talking to her about something Leo couldn’t interpret. Leo recalled something about concussed people falling into a coma if they fell asleep and Lara must have been helping to keep his friend awake. He yawned and instinctively combed his hair back. Lara seemed to notice and stopped talking. Lucia turned her head and smiled at Leo. She then turned to Lara and whispered something to her. Lara nodded and left the jet.

“Lucia.” Leo said.

“Yeah?” Lucia responded. Leo’s nerves dissipated when he heard her voice.

“Lucia...”

“I’m here, Leo. I’m fine.”

Leo forcibly shook himself.

“Yeah.” he said.

“OK, stop acting cool for a minute and talk to me. Don’t make me smack you,”

Leo straightened up. He had known Lucia long enough to know that no matter how injured she was, she would still do it.

“Lucia,” he said again. “I...” his voice led off, trying to think where to start.

“Am sorry you suck at shooting when I’m awake.”

“Good place to start,” he said, partly to himself. “And sorry that I couldn’t protect you. And I’m sorry that my plan was stupid.”

“Well, from what I heard, you didn’t do that bad. You took him down once. If he knew he could grow back his wings, you would have been the hero this time.”

“Yeah...”
“Leo!”

“Sorry!”

A silence feel over them. Leo closed his eyes and breathed deeply.

“That won’t happen again.” Leo said, clenching his fists together. “Next time, I won’t let anyone hurt you. I promise.”
“Leo...”

Lucia fell silent. She’d known him for all her life, but had never seen him like this.

“Leo...” she crawled over the table and pulled him to his feet and wrapped her arms around him. Leo held back a tear and hugged her back.

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