Aaron woke with a start, jerking upright on the stone bed. He was instantly aware of his surroundings, taking them all in at once along with the searing pain emanating from deep inside his head. He pressed the palms of his hands over his eyes, pressing on his forehead to try and drive away the pain.
“Why didn’t you kill me?” he ground out, his voice sounding dry and gravely.
He was back in the stone bed he’d woken up in before. The blanket covered his lower half again, and he noted that Van had taken off his boots as well.
The smell of seared meat and vegetables wafted over from the small cooking area.
Van tossed the mix in the pan over the portable gas burner he’d set up before responding. He didn’t glance over at Aaron. “You blacked out again. It’s not really a healthy habit. Especially in the midst of battle.”
Aaron swung his legs out from under the blanket and put his feet on the cold stone of the floor. “I’ll try to remember that in the future.”
Van turned off the burner and sliding the mix of meat and veggies onto a plate. Stepping over he lowered it to Aaron’s level, handing it to him.
Aaron looked at it for a moment trying to make up his mind whether he should take food from the man who had just tired to kill him. His stomach made the decision for him, growling loudly.
He took the plate with a sigh and asked, “How long was I out?”
“Long enough,” was all Van said in response.
Aaron turned to look outside through the small window. It was dark, pitch-black outside save for the soft glow of lights from the other dwellings set around the courtyard.
Van offered him a fork and Aaron took it, digging into the meal. He was ravenous. But that was normal after straining his body to the limit like that. Aaron wondered why he hadn’t felt it before. He guessed he’d been to preoccupied with getting away and back to his ship before.
“So…” started Van, sitting down in one of the chairs that he’d brought in from outside. “I take it you tried to make a connection with your weapon in the heat of battle.”
Aaron stopped eating, frozen to the spot.
“Maybe,” responded Aaron after a moment.
“What did you see?”
Aaron grunted around a mouthful of food. “So what happened to me having no honor and you wanting to kill me? I thought I was a dead man?”
“Oh, we still have a fight to finish. But we can’t finish it with you blacking out every time, now can we?”
Aaron grunted in response finishing off the food. He wished he had a bottle of strong brew to wash it down with.
“So now what?” he asked setting the plate down.
Van pulled the pistol from where he’d stashed in on the window ledge and tossed it to Aaron. “You have two shots left. What are you going to do with them?”
Aaron caught the gun mid-air and popped the catch holding the cylinder and barrel in place, the forward half of the gun flipped down, exposing the casings of the two rounds left in the weapon.
Pulling each one out. He let them fall to the floor. “Nothing,” he grunted.
Aaron had felt the searing pain subside slightly, replaced by the familiar feel of the presence the weapon emanated when he’d caught it, but the presence hadn’t tried to assert itself. It was quite for the moment, intermingling with the pain in the back of his head. He knew it wouldn’t last though. When he was back to his old self it would try to take him over then. And when that happened, he wanted to be far away from anywhere he would be able to cause another incident like what had happened in thoroughfare.
Van nodded slowly studying Aaron, his face passive. “And?”
“And nothing…” he grunted, rising from the bed.
Van watched him as he strode over to the door and pulled on his boots. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“Out. For a walk.” Aaron gazing back at Van, stuffing the pistol deep into a coat pocket. “Don’t worry, I’m not leaving just yet.”
Van nodded once.
Turning Aaron pushed open the door and stepped out into the cold, crisp night air.