Everyone Gets Overwhelmed Sometimes and Needs Someone to Lean on
“Do you know what’s going to happen to Drew?” Greg asked quietly as they ate supper.
Gavin shook his head, looking over at the door to Drew’s empty room. “No, I don’t.”
Drew had gone away for some errands yesterday and come back covered in blood and chains, escorted by some people from Techen’s Stand who’d placed him under arrest and accused him of using mind control magic to enslave their entire town.
He hadn’t denied it.
“But he’s not going to be executed, is he?” Greg said, his voice characterized by the smallest quiver that Owen hated hearing.
“I don’t know,” Gavin repeated. “I don’t think so.”
Owen was sure Gavin wasn’t going to let anyone execute Drew. He sure wasn’t, even if he had messed up. From what Robby had explained, Drew had been possessed by some evil god who’d made him do all kinds of fucked up stuff behind everyone’s backs. Owen had never even noticed him acting out of the ordinary.
But apparently Drew had had the ability to erase people’s memories, so maybe Owen had noticed and had just forgotten. He didn’t know what to think, or whether Drew had used these powers on him or people he loved, or what. He didn’t know. And as much as he wanted to believe Drew hadn’t hurt anyone on purpose, it was hard to be sure of that when so many people in Techen’s Stand remembered being hurt, including Edwin’s brother.
“But if he didn’t do anything wrong,” said Greg, translating for Grey Rain this time because Gavin wasn’t looking at them, “then he shouldn’t get in trouble, right? Someone was making him be all spooky and gross, so it’s not his fault…”
“I said I don’t know, boys,” Gavin snapped, shutting his eyes. Then he opened them wide and looked up, taking a deep breath as he very clearly made himself look at Greg’s stricken face. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry for raising my voice. I’m not angry with you.”
Greg nodded, holding Grey Rain’s hand, breathing a little faster. “It’s okay. I shouldn’t have been asking so many questions…”
“No, you should ask all the questions you want,” Gavin said, sighing. “They’re important ones. I’m just also asking those questions and I don’t know the answers. It isn’t your fault and I shouldn’t have taken it out on you.”
“I know,” Greg said, looking away. “But thank you for saying it anyway. Can you tell me when you do know something?”
“Yeah,” Gavin said, picking up his fork. They’d long since finished eating. He put it down so he could sign alongside his speech. “I’ll tell you as soon as I know anything, promise. I don’t think they’ll execute Drew. Grey Rain was right; no matter what the people from Techen’s Stand are asking, if what everyone is saying about this god is true, the things Drew did weren’t his fault. He was a victim too.”
“Okay,” said Greg. “Is it safe for us to see him?”
“I think so. Lee from the mages’ academy looked at him and said he seemed like more of a danger to himself than anyone else, but she’s going to do a bunch more tests on him tomorrow to make sure he isn’t still being controlled. If she says he’s not dangerous, it’ll be okay for people to visit him,” Gavin said.
A knock sounded at the door and Owen got up. A servant was there, with a roll of paper. His name was Art, and he was taking up some of Drew’s work while they figured out what to do with him. “This came in for the prince from someone named Cal, sir,” he said, not quite in the soft voice that servants used when they were disturbing someone. He was apparently normally a laundry boy. “One of the servants from your house told me it should be given to the prince right away.”
Owen nodded. “Thanks, Art. I’ll do that right now.” Owen shut the door and went back inside, handing the paper to Gavin and staying on his feet.
Gavin looked at it a second, then sighed, unrolling it. He read for a second, then shut his eyes. “Okay,” he whispered. “Fine.”
He was swaying just a tiny bit in his seat, so Owen squeezed his shoulders. “What is it?”
“Cal found another underground bunker like the one the Calvinists were in. It was also full of people. Fuck.” He’d picked his fork up again and was gripping it tightly.
Owen looked at him and then at the boys. “Why don’t you two go have your bath?” Greg and Grey Rain had been bathing together almost every day after supper lately.
Greg nodded, and stood, taking Grey Rain’s hand. He hesitated for a second, then went around the table and gave Gavin a hug. “It’s going to be okay,” he said.
Gavin nodded, accepting a hug from Grey Rain too. “I know. Thanks.”
Owen waited until the boys had left before moving and taking Gavin’s hand. “It’s okay,” he said.
“It’s really not,” Gavin said, taking in a deep breath. “Aerchon’s trial is coming up and now this is going to complicate the fuck out of it. I’ve got all these new people who I need to figure out a way to protect and take care of, and if there were two there could have been a hundred of these fucking places. Somebody was mind-raping my page and I didn’t even notice and now he’s responsible for shit knows how many atrocities. There’s a would-be portal to hell under the city and we have no idea who opened it or why, people are still trying to kill my whole family, the world’s still ending, and that’s just the shit that needs my complete attention right now, and…”
“Hey,” Owen said, pulling Gavin into his arms as his voice got tighter and higher. “Hey. It’s okay, I’ve got you.”
Gavin nodded, hugging Owen so tightly. “I’m sorry,” he cried, eyes squeezed shut. “I’ll be okay. I just need a few minutes.”
“You don’t need to apologize.” Owen petted Gavin’s hair as he talked, which Gavin would enjoy telling him off for later. “You’re dealing with a lot.”
“I know that shouldn’t be an issue,” Gavin muttered. “I know I’m supposed to be the guy who takes care of one thing and then moves on to the next, who always has everything under control, but the world has just been making that so hard, Owen.”
“I know,” Owen whispered, feeling Gavin’s heart pounding against his. “I know it has. But it’s okay if you aren’t in control all the time, Gavin. Nobody expects you to do everything.”
“I do,” Gavin said, in a small voice.
Owen knew that he did. It was part of what made him such a good prince. “Well, I’m handling the portal under the city, so you’re not going to worry about that.”
“I am, though…”
“No, you aren’t, because you trust me, and you trust that if I say I’m handling something, then it’s handled. You know you have people to help you with all this stuff. You have me and Edwin and Cal and your sister and Franz. That’s all the most trustworthy members of your family and also God. ”
Gavin nodded but didn’t smile. “That’s not the problem. Rudy killed someone and I’m protecting him. My parents don’t want to prosecute Aerchon and I’m insisting that they do, because that’s the only way to protect the Calvinists. Hardly any of my oldest friends can still afford to trust me. People like me use political capital as our main currency, Owen. I don’t know if I have enough of it left to protect Drew. And I definitely don’t have enough to protect this new group of people.”
Oh. Owen thought about that for a second. “Do I have capital?”
“I thought you were going to talk to someone about your orchard…”
“The other kind, I mean. The kind you have.”
Gavin gave him a look, which Owen was glad to see; it was way better than the exhausted expression he’d had before. “Not really. A little, I guess, but not really.”
“Good. Then I can protect people the old fashioned way. You know that orchard?”
Gavin frowned, looking up. “What about it?”
“It’s not just an orchard, it’s got like ten buildings on it that are mostly empty. There’s also land around it and even a monastery or something there.”
“You’ve been reading your financial reports.”
“Of course I have. Ian’s a genius with all that stuff. The guys Cal just found are going to go live there. Problem solved; you’re not protecting them, I am. If you don’t think you can protect Drew, we’ll send him there too.”
“You can’t just ship everyone off to an orchard,” Gavin said with a small laugh.
“Why not? I did whatever I wanted even before I was rich.” Owen wiped a tear away from Gavin’s cheek. “You protect whoever you can. Anyone you can’t, I’ll make sure nothing ever happens to them. Anyone who thinks they can hurt Drew while I’m watching is going to get an entire tree shoved up their dick, fruit and all.”
Gavin was quiet for a long minute, but he wasn’t crying anymore. He shifted, moving his grip on Owen up a little. “What kind of fruit does your orchard even grow?”
Owen shrugged. “I don’t know, hopefully melons or some shit.”
Now Gavin laughed. “Okay. You make it sound way easier than it really is.”
“I make it sound exactly as easy as it is,” Owen insisted. Gavin was struggling and he was overwhelmed, and the best way not to be overwhelmed was to have less things to do. Simple. “When the boys get out of the bathtub we’re going to go to Pelican Bay for the night to get out of the castle; being here is stressing you out too much.”
“Okay,” Gavin whispered, heart calming down now. “Okay. I don’t know how I’d do this without you.”
“Without me, you’d be living pretty in Joey’s dad’s cave, without a care in the world except which pile of gold matched your hairstyle best that day, and the answer would somehow always be all of them.”
Gavin laughed at that, and he finally looked up at Owen, eyes rimmed with a little red. “I do need to answer this message before we go. But it’ll be easier now that I can tell them about the orchard. Thank you, Owen.”
Owen kissed him on the forehead. “Nobody expects you to do everything, but the fact that you’re going to try anyway is one of the reasons why I love you.”
“And the fact that you can tell me to stop being such an obnoxious control freak and still make me feel better at the same time is one of the reasons I love you,” Gavin told him. “Could you go tell Ian that I want a really hot bath when we get to the house?”
“Sure. And I’m going to tell the kitchen we want a cake or something.”
“Do we want a cake?”
“Cake makes you feel better,” Owen explained, letting Gavin go and heading for the door. “I’ll be right back. Don’t do any other work once you’ve written your letter.”
“Promise,” Gavin said, taking Owen’s chair.
Owen went out into the hallway to look for Art, and he smiled to himself. It was easy to think that Gavin could do everything alone, but he couldn’t.
And he didn’t need to, because he wasn’t alone. And the two of them together could do anything.
4 thoughts on “Dragon, 106”
I’m just saying, a lot of these problems would go away if you purged the nobility with fire and sword and replaced them with duly elected representatives of the common people.
Granted, you’d also have entirely new problems, but you definitely wouldn’t have to worry about protecting people from corrupt nobles.
You know, that’s such a good point. Maybe someone should bring that up with Gavin…of course, being part of that noble class, I’m not sure how receptive he’d actually be given that it would be his head on fire.
But it still might be worth it. Gavin’s popular, he might get elected as Dolovai’s first prime minister. 😀
The rest of the nobility gets the fire. Gavin gets the sword.
As long as he gets to pick the sword, that works for him! 😀