The agony in Joe's eyes made my stomach turn in guilt. I wanted to apologize, say sorry and tell him that I didn't mean to hurt him. It was just a habit, something I did when I couldn't deal with the hurt. Something I was trying to change about myself but clearly failing miserably in doing so.

"What happened?" I asked instead.

He turned away from me and like expected stayed that way, torturing me with his silence. I didn't blame him. The anger, as fiery as it was a few minutes ago, dissipated into a hollowness inside me.

These few hours had been so tough. They were like having no place to go and still being lost. There wasn't much that had changed in these few hours, my sister and my friends were still missing, Arthur was on his way back to life and I was still stuck in the middle of a war that took my parents away from me. I also knew that the circumstances were the same those few hours ago but I didn't feel so helpless. I would never want to admit it but it was because those few hours ago I had him. And now he was gone too.

Life was crueler this way, having introduced hope and then snatching it away. It was better having none at all, at least you were spared from missing something until it felt like you couldn't feel anything at all.

"Her name was Scarlet."

"Huh?" I blinked and looked up, registering the fact that Joe had just spoken.

"My Sodali, her name was Scarlet. We were part of the same hunting team. I lost her on one of the missions." He said, his voice more composed and even than earlier although it still sounded like the words physically hurt his throat.

"She died a hero, it's more than any of us can hope for."

He smiled ruefully at that.

"And I will die a coward who didn't have the courage to go back inside that burning building and look for her."

"There was a fire?" I asked, unable to keep my curiosity at bay.

"The building was infested with Forsaken, there weren't enough of us. So we decided to burn the building down. Scarlet was the one good with gadgets in the group. She told me it was nothing, that she would be back in a blink of my eye. It took her so long, I should've known something was wrong, I just assumed she was taking time setting up the explosive."

"She didn't come out did she?" I looked down at my shoes. They were muddy and stained with dirt, there white soles looking like they had never been of the color. A small but not unnoticeable drop of clear liquid dropped on Joe's shoe.

"The building went up in flames. I waited for her to come out, through all that smoke but she never did. They must have caught her inside. She knew what would happen if they got away so she detonated the bomb anyway, sacrificing herself in the process."

I found myself at a loss for words. It wasn't because I couldn't think of something to say, it was because I couldn't think of something that would make him feel better. I could tell him that what she did was noble but I knew he already knew that.

"You shouldn't blame yourself because she only did what she knew you would do. She wouldn't have wanted you to go inside for her." I said. He looked at me then, his eyes still red-rimmed.

"She would've gone inside for me."

"And would you have wished that for her?"

"No." He answered without thinking.

"Then don't regret something she would have never wanted in the first place."

The rustling of the leaves behind me made both of us whip in the direction. Cassidy stood facing us, an unreadable expression on her face.

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