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Akkey paced just outside where Stonegit was, fidgeting with the hilt of her sword nervously. She had spent the past week, checking up on her comrades, thanking them for saving her and apologizing for being away.

She had yet to speak with him, though.

Hunter had told her Stonegit’s role in saving her, and she wanted to thank him, but she purposefully avoided the bodyguard since her return. She didn’t know how to act around him; she could still feel traces of fear deep in her gut. Which was foolish… he had already said he would do anything to keep it from haunting her.

Akkey gave a small groan. No, I’m too nervous for this, maybe I’ll just come back tomo—

“Akkey…” Stonegit said quietly. He had opened the door to the keep, looking out at her, he gave her a sad smile, and lowered his eyes. “You’re looking well…”

She jumped a little and whirled around, “Stonegit! Hi! Hello, hi.” she pulled at her hair, subconsciously hopping from one foot to the other, “Yeah.. uh, yeah. Hunter and Hel did a few things and… you probably already know that.”

Akkey avoided his eyes, an uncomfortable silence surrounding them, “Uh… I wanted to say thanks for… taking care of these. Hunter told me,” she motioned towards her arms, scars both old and new now hidden under fresh bandages.

Stonegit shook his head slightly. “It was Blunt mostly,” he opened his mouth and then let his teeth click as he pressed his lips together. He scuffed his foot at the mention of that man, and turned his attention back to Akkey. “I hardly helped you…” he sighed, rubbing the back of his marked neck. “Ever…”

She shook her head, prepared to disagree but she stopped herself, biting her lip. She tried to smile, “No, it was still… it still helped. I’m grateful. To you and to Blunt.”

“Speaking of… where is he? I need to thank him, too.”

“Ugh…” Stonegit sighed, placing his hands on his hips and shaking his head. “That man…” he paused. “He scavenged up the dragon nip from the wreckage and skipped town. He took Shovel with him…”

She stopped fiddling with her hair, “What…? I thought he was going to fight with us? The dragon nip…” her eyes narrowed.

Stonegit shrugged again, looking a little more sullen now. “It’s a valuable herb…this was the only place that had a stock of it that wasn’t heavily guarded…so yeah…”

She felt slightly sick, “So what… he came here just to steal from us? To get his hands on whatever’s profitable?” she slowly clenched her fist, the realization sinking it, “He said he was a friend.”

“Yeah well…” Stonegit said, his voice a bit bitter. “He also said not to trust him but everyone did anyway. You saw how they all thought he was just the best thing ever when he arrived. And even if they didn’t at first, a few words here, a kind action there, and everybody forgot that he was still a Donz…” he rubbed his brow. “Let’s face it Akkey. This rebellion has a long history of trusting the wrong people. It’s come the point where it seems like the most trustworthy thing now is the manipulative, sneaky, and bossy goddess of the underworld.” 

Her arms jerked on her side. A few words here, a kind action there…

You have probably been one of the most singular and spectacular people I have been graced with meeting. 

Akkey, I’m going to keep you safe while you’re here. That you can trust. 

…from one friend to another 

“Still a Donz…” she ground her teeth, feeling ashamed, angry, betrayed by the passing second, “A goddamn Donz… yeah. You’re right, it was a mistake. Can’t believe he… you’re right.” she let her hands drop to her side, completely numb. Her eyes flicked up towards the bodyguard, a mirthless grin on her face, “Whatever.”

“Yeah…” Stonegit murmured, rubbing his arm. He was suddenly glad he had lost his gifts in the attack. He couldn’t even imagine being comfortable with them now. “Whatever…” he inhaled deeply, changing the subject. “So…what brings you here, you looked like you had something on your mind Akkey.” 

She shook her head, “I did what I came here for… just to say thanks.” And to see if I’ll be okay around you now. She put her hands behind her back, nails digging into her palm, “Hunter was also wondering if your injuries are healing up. You never came to him for a check up other than the initial relief spell.”

Stonegit stood in silence, and then rubbed his face, growling slightly. “This is stupid,” he muttered. He exhaled, raising his head to look at her. “Akkey…you don’t have to be near me if you don’t want to. When you want to see Haddock I’ll just step out and leg Snag take over.” his shoulders lowered. “You ought to be allowed to visit your dad in comfort after all. And I know that can’t happen when I am around.”

Her breath hitched, Was I that obvious…

“No… it’s fine. That’s unfair to you, and we can’t compromise Haddock’s safety. Just…” she took a deep breath, “Just give me some time, I’ll be okay. I mean… it’s looking great right now, I’m completely fine. It just needs time…” she turned around, unknowingly giving Stonegit full view of her hands, “I should go…”

“You know…” Stonegit said. “The last two people who threatened me with knife…I killed, and…and was never comfortable with the thought of them again.” he pulled back his coat. “I got rid of it…that knife I used to threaten you. I never did any good with it anyway.” he let the coat drop back to his side. “My King won’t be in any danger from you visiting Akkey. Please…a battle is coming…you should be with your father as much as you can.”

She pinched her lips, glancing at the empty spot where the weapon used to be. She shook her head again, her eyes gleaming and determined, “Right. I will. But… you still need to stay. You are a friend, I don’t want to lose that… Please, just let me try.”

A bit of hope gleamed in Stonegit’s eye. Hope that something he had damaged so long ago could now begin to heal. He side stepped to the left and extended his hand towards the open door. He gave a small smile. “Right this way…Akkey,”

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