May your aim be true, and your captain wise,
And each fitful night bring a warm sunrise.
“...he died,” Travis says brokenly, too cowardly even to look into his friends’ eyes as he speaks the dire truth. “Or… I think he died. We were in this magical void thing and he… like, pushed me out, told me to run, and I… well, the spell broke. I can speak. So… I think he died.”
“Fuck,” Gable says profoundly.
Travis doesn’t think he’s ever heard Gable swear before and his head instinctually snaps up to look at them. They look lost, devastated, and just about as broken as he feels.
“Wh… what do you mean ‘died’?” Jonnit splutters. “He can’t have- he couldn’t have-”
Before Travis can even begin answering, the doors of the abandoned warehouse slam open, and a formidable figure steps through the door. In the blink of an eye, Gable is standing with their sword ready, when the moonlight catches the face of the intruder and their arm drops in disbelief. “Orimar?”
But Travis isn’t looking at their awol captain, he’s looking at what - or rather, who - he’s carrying. “Dref,” he breathes, not daring to believe his eyes.
Travis springs from his perch and flies towards them, his avian ears straining for any sign of life in the limp body.
“Orimar left to save Dref?” Jonnit exclaims, but his conversation with Gable sounds distant to his ears, too preoccupied with finding that precious little heartbeat.
Finally, he hears it. A very quiet and inconsistent - thump, thump, thump…
Travis breathes the sigh of relief that had been wrestling within him, “He’s still alive,” he cries.
He hears Gable spirit towards them at his declaration, just as Orimar places Dref gently on the ground, and Travis lands beside him, trying to track the source of the blood all over his chest.
“His stomach,” he squeaks, finally seeing the damage. “There’s a wound in his stomach. It’s… frozen or something.”
“Let me see,” Gable orders, nudging Travis aside. “It looks magical,” they confirm.
Jonnit makes a high-pitched groan behind them, “What do we do? What do we do?” he mutters, bouncing on the spot with nerves.
Travis is just thinking the exact same thing when a weak murmur speaks from beneath them, “‘s fine,” Dref whimpers, “Orimar has the…”
And like a good puppet on a string, for once, Orimar produces a vial, and methodically pours a magical metallic remedy into the wound. And, like magic, it begins to heal.
Travis hears his sigh of relief echoed by his companions.
Gable clears their throat beside him and for a moment Travis wonders what could possibly be so important before he realises that the shadows over them have shifted - Orimar has stood to leave. “Thank you,” Gable says, sincerely, and then, with a dramatic turn of his coat, Orimar is out the door.
Jonnit pipes up from behind them, “We’re just gonna let him leave? Really? I mean, it’s just... is that wise?”
“No,” Gable sighs, “Probably not.”
Travis is barely paying attention to their departing captain; his world has narrowed to Dref, as he watches the wound close and the colour return to his cheeks.
Jonnit cuts through the white noise and asks the question that they were all thinking, “What the hell happened, Dref?”
“Well, first of all he’s not Dref,” Travis interrupts before he can stop himself, “Isn’t that right, Alistair?”
“Please don’t call me that,” he murmurs, even managing the energy to gently swat at Travis. “I’ll explain,” he promises them, “All of it. But for now… Sorry. I’m just so sorry.”
“You don’t need to be sorry,” Gable reassures him, and Jonnit echoes similar sentiments beside them. “Just glad you’re not dead.”
“Heh,” Dref coughs weakly, “Not dead. I had it under control. Just… had to put all my magic in his brain. Easy.”
“If it was so easy,” Travis drawls, “then why did you tell me to run?”
Dref tilts his head against the dirty floor to look up at Travis. There’s more in his eyes than Travis can ever hope to interpret. “You got me,” he says finally, and it looks like it takes all his energy to do so. There’s the smallest pleased smile on his lips. “You’re welcome, by the way.”
Travis can’t help but return the sappy smile. “Yeah, well,” he says, “someone had to play carrier pigeon and I’m the one with wings so…”
Dref laughs weakly and Travis is momentarily glad he’s in bird form so he can’t actually cry the tears he know he would do otherwise.
“So,” Gable interrupts bluntly, “When Travis flew away like a coward, Orimar came in to save you?”
Dref makes a vague attempt at a shrug.
“Why would he do that?” they wonder aloud.
Dref makes the same gesture on the floor. “He likes me, I guess.”
“Gross,” Jonnit mutters from behind him.
“Oh, not like that, Jonnit!” Gable scolds, and then turns back to Dref with a frown on their face, “Wait, not like that, right?”
“No,” Dref protests weakly, “No.”
“Okay, okay,” Gable says, hurriedly backtracking, “It just… seems like a common trait with him. No harm in making sure.”
Their bickering continues on into the night but Travis doesn’t pay it much mind, listening to the reassuring thump, thump, thump, of Dref’s heart, as alive as ever.