I’d like to say Juin’s training was more interesting than mine, but I’m afraid not. His powers were somewhat weak, but strong enough to live a bit longer. A year progressed as I watched Viirra die, and Guin grow up.
I leaned up against one of the huge windows that stared into the black void of space feeling annoyed. The Council began to review my case, but they were progressing slowly.
“Rilas,” Juin soft voice surprised me, as I lifted my head. A little bit of awkward youth clung to him, but he was on his way to manhood.
“Yes, my apprentice,” we both laughed. A joke we had, because officially I was only visiting, but everyone knew why I was here. “What did you need?”
“There is something I’ve been meaning to tell you.” He stared out at space.
I frowned, because he tended to be direct.
“I never realized before I came here how much you gave up.” He swallowed hard. I could feel an emotional storm springing passed his barriers. “Fighting to free the Einlari you gave up everything. And, how most of us talk, and think of you it must sting.”
One my shoulders shrugged as I forced myself to smile. “I understand why they do. I seem more like the Jirth than I do Einlari. Jirth scared me a bit when I first knew them.”
“Don’t pretend it never bothered you. I may not an Empath, but I know you.” A shift in his attitude as his eyes bored into my mine. “And, you didn’t have to deal with it. You could keep your mouth shut and played nice. The Jirth would have promoted you up the ranks, since Teacher’s often get promoted every few years. Or, you could have left Einndias and immersed yourself in Go On Don society. You could have even played down your abilities and lived quietly among us and died long ago. You never needed to carry the burden of freeing us. Why did you?”
The desire to dismiss it with a glib retort came and went. I didn’t like to talk about it. My own feelings on the issue were muddled. I felt in many ways betrayed by the others. They never accepted me and called me a traitor. Would I feel resentful toward them if I didn’t think myself a traitor? I couldn’t answer that. Yet the idea of leaving them here with the Jirth turned my stomach. “I couldn’t.”
Juin hands pressed against my shoulders as he grinned. “That is what so amazing about you. I’m sure you sometimes regret staying. You gained nothing for it. But, you could never go. As unhappy as everything made you, the idea of leaving probably upsets more than all that put together.” Then, he did something I would never expect he leaned up and lightly kissed me on the lips.
I jumped back to banging my back against the window. “Juin,” was all I managed to say.
Red flooded his face as his head dropped down. “I had to tell you, I’m in love with you. I know what you say, you’re too old for me. I’m so young. All sorts of objections. None of it changes the reality.”
His devotion and love me I’d had been ignoring for months now. I still wasn’t sure how I felt about him. Viirra told me it was, as usual, my obsession with freeing the Einlari was all that consumed me. I didn’t dare raise the objections he so casually dismissed mere moments before. Yet, I couldn’t think of what else to say. Times like this when I was genuinely thankful that Juin was not an Empath.
A beep startled me. I tapped my communicator. “The council has reached its decision.”
A wave of relief swept through me. Regardless of what happened at least now it was over. “What is it?”
“The Council desires to deliver the message in person. Five members will arrive on Einndias in a few weeks. They will be escorted to the planet, and there they will give their pronouncement before an assembled crowd. The Jirth have been contacted with requests for accommodation and needs. You must assemble whoever is your leadership among your people and have them there.” The communication cut off abruptly.
“I have to get back to Einndias right away.” In a moment of pure joy I hugged Juin.
“What does it mean? Why come here? Did they judge in our favor or not?” He asked over my shoulder.
I spun out of his grip. “I have no idea, but either way I have work to do.” I rushed off and realized I managed to avoid his implied question. I felt a bit guilty about it, but for now I was happy to to avoid answering whether or not I loved Juin.