It was two AM and he was sitting in a bar in Rilth, once again. Judah sat beside him, imitating Pilot’s hunkered down posture and glum expression. It was a rare occurrence in their adulthood to mirror each other so closely.
“I’ll watch over Eden,” Judah said, unprompted, and even Pilot struggled to tell if his intentions were sincere, though it was his inclination to distrust his brother that won out. Years of experience told him when to put up walls with Judah. Gauging the rare occurrence his brother opted to be anything besides self-centered was a less practiced skill.
Sincere or not, Pilot had expected such a statement. To agree to it would be to allow Judah the opportunity to weasel his way into Eden’s day to day life, try and charm her when she was vulnerable. Frustration that he even had to consider such a possibility about his own brother overwhelmed him, momentarily, but was pressed out of mind again as the looming day of his departure took the spotlight. “Eden isn’t my house,” he said, “she’s not something I need to hire a sitter for while I’m gone.”
“She still needs someone looking out for her,” Judah said, and his tone was suspiciously non-combative.
“No,” Pilot said, a genuine laugh breaking off his sentence early. “She definitely does not.” He tried to keep the smirk from his face as he recalled a night, years ago, when he’d come home to discover the apartment had been broken into. Eden, all five-foot-ten of her, had walked away untouched.
The briefest flicker of indignation caused Judah’s nostrils to flare. He said, “There’s no way she’s prepared for all the enemies you’ve made who will definitely come after her once they hear you’re not around.”
Pilot, still recalling the night Eden had beaten and tied up four trained mercs by herself, knew Judah was wrong. “Eden can handle herself,” he said, a stern edge lining his tone.
Judah’s shoulders visibly tensed as he fought his own nature in order to try and get his way. “You’re leaving her unprotected. I won’t sit idly by while something happens to her in your absence.”
Pilot bit his tongue, knowing that calling Judah out on his true intentions would get them nowhere.
As if Judah could sense that he was losing his opportunity to win Pilot over with his offer, he added, “And what if you don’t come back?”
It was always Judah who brought the most somber, unwanted part of the conversation to the forefront. What did he expect Pilot to say to that? To assure him that nothing could possibly go wrong? He frowned and did nothing to conceal it. “What option do I have, Jude? Eden is not going to go for you following her around, and I don’t think there’s a damn thing you could do to protect her that she can’t do herself.”
“Why not run?” Judah gestured flippantly, continuing, his voice rising a little with every word. “For once in your life, let yourself be scared and just fucking run.”