Espio's Best Friend
Espio hadn't a clue as to why Jet and Amy sat before him so gravely, nor did any sort of scenario play out in his head as to what Jet could possibly have needed to talk to him about so seriously. He did wonder if perhaps it had to do with finances, perhaps even his rollercoaster relationship with Wave, however Amy's presence put doubt into those ideas. Espio frowned at the way Amy twiddled her thumbs as she sat on the far end of the ripped leather sofa across him, then at Jet, sitting at the opposite end. The air was heavy, as though the stress of his two friends weighed on the atmosphere in the humid room. Besides Jet's foot tapping and the whirring of the ceiling fan at the workplace, there was no sound between them, and Espio dared not say a word until beckoned to. Whatever it was that was on his dear friends' minds, it was grave.
At long last, Jet put his wings on his knees and rose. "Ya know what," he started, "I'm just gonna go." He turned on his heel to leave, but Amy yanked a feather on his theigh and made him squawk in pain. It was enough interaction to force the hawk back on the couch and in his original position. Espio decided to urge his friend, telling him that it was all right to tell him anything. Jet returned his gaze with a look that said otherwise.
Minutes passed until Jet finally gathered enough strength to start speaking. Espio didn't realize just how harmful his words would be. He should have left the room, refused to listen to anything that would be said. Wasn't the look in his eyes enough? It should have been. And even after that, he should have left when the signs were obvious, like how Jet started off by bringing up the topic of Bella. That was a taboo topic. Just her name straightened Espio's back and made his heart tighten. Time to leave. But he stayed.
Second sign: the flattening of Amy's ears and the way she clasped her hands together on her lap. Time to go.
Third: the way Jet avoided the chameleon's eyes, as though he didn't want to see what he would look like when Jet finished. Get out.
Last: when Jet said he wasn't the best friend Espio constantly claimed him to be. What the hell are you still in here for?
But he stayed.
It all started with Jet's fallout with Wave, the hawk continued. His way of beating around the bush.
Then he recalled Espio's advice, words that had been spoken out of kindness but was instead intrepreted as spite and ridicule.
Next, the rage, the sort that blinds and corrupts and makes people do stupid and regrettable things.
Finally, the conversation when he came to Bella's doorstep, the look on her face when he told her about things Espio never even thought of doing.
The words Jet spoke to her, the lies he slipped in a sense of vengeance and jealousy that would result in the most devestating event in Espio's life.
She left the city. She left Espio. She left their future behind because of the actions of a jealous, pompous, self-righteous snot-colored bird.
Because of Jet, Espio's best friend.
Espio's best friend who had ruined his future with the one he loved most.
Espio's eyes watered, his gaze dulled, his heart bled. He stared blankly in Jet's direction, his mind back to that day Bella left him, and again he was in the body of his broken soul when he had collapsed into Jet's arms because he no longer had the strength to carry on without her. He again felt his tears stream down his face and the green blur of his friend behind his wet stare, Jet's wing on his shoulder in the most sympathetic way. He remembered Jet looking off in the distance, unable to bear the look of Espio's sorrow, and the way he apologized over and over and over again, as though he were begging for forgiveness.
He wouldn't get it.
The next moment, Jet was on the floor, his breath thrown out of him. He coughed, trying to regain composure, but a punch smashed his head to the floor. Jet couldn't see the camouflaged chameleon, but he felt him sitting on him as he received one fist to one cheek and the next fist to the next, over and over again, in an uncontrollable fit of rage. Blood trembled from Jet's beak and his face started to bruise. He didn't fight back though. He wouldn't.
The weight on him slid off when Amy pushed Espio away, but when Jet sat up he was sent to the wall by a kick in his stomach. The hawk crouched over in agony, but his face met with Espio's knee by consequence. Espio at last made himself visible before him, and how Jet wished he hadn't. Never had he seen a glare more powerful, more crippling, than that of his best friend. He wore an expression Jet hadn't thought the kind soul capable of possessing, and it scared him immeasurably.
Jet took the fists. He did not try to fight back. He remained passive even as he began to see black specs and his vision blurred, even after he knew his beak was definitely broken, even though he knew that his body could not take any more blows. Let Espio kill him. This is what he had wanted for all these years every time he would look Espio in the face. He had always been sucking up since then, trying to make amends secretly for the err of his ways. But what he had wanted, all along, was to get a royal beating, to feel the heat of Espio's rage through his violence, to finally be relieved of the burden of his secret. Jet's head throbbed painfully and he felt himself losing consciousness. Let this be over with, he prayed. Let this all be done.
Jet's condition was critical at this point, and if Amy hadn't intervened it would have been beyond repair. Espio had been completely blinded by inexplicable rage, and it took all of Amy's strength to keep him at bay.
"You traitor!" yelled Espio, finally weakened by his struggle as he fell to his knees. "You stole my happiness for what reason? Out of spite? You depraved, cold-hearted miscreant!"
"Espio, please," Amy started, but in a sudden burst of rage Espio overpowered her and pinned her to the floor. Espio towered over her, his eyes fierce and not what she was use to seeing.
"You," he spoke, almost in a whisper, "you knew about this?" His voice softened from anger to that of a hurt tone.
"I...Jet he...he only told me recently. I-"
"I cannot believe you are supporting him." His eyes began to water.
Amy, who knew what heartbreak was and the importance of being in each others' confidence, had concealed such valuable information from him.
She betrayed him.
She betrayed him.
Out of strength, Espio used the rest of his energy to stand and turn his back to them.
"Get out." His demand was hardly audible.
"Espio," Amy tried, "I-"
Amy tensed and her eyes watered. Her plea was scared out of her.
"Do not ever show your faces before me again."
And so they stumbled out of the door, Amy in tears and Jet crippled, and when the door closed behind him, Espio fell to his knees.
He cried for a long while.
Even after the sun had set and the workshop was pitch black.
He just wept.
And, just after one single meeting, he became, once again, the empty and broken shell he used to be, and this is how Vector and Charmy found him, curled on the ground without the capabilities to so much as raise himself off of the floor.
Because of his best friend.
His god-damn best friend.
Other Titles: Don't Say a Word; But He Stayed; It's Too Late Now; The Err of His Ways; Because of His Best Friend