Guy furrowed his brow as he paced outside of Luke's room. It hadn't been more than ten minutes since the small cheagle had informed him of Luke's illness, and Guy was ashamed to admit he hadn't thought of a solution. Surely there had to be something... anything... Luke couldn't die!
But, from what Mieu had told him, Jade knew, as well. If even the great Dr. Balfour couldn't think of anything, then what chance did Guy have? None. There wasn't even a possibility, not with his current knowledge.
Guy had considered confronting Jade and demanding him fork over all of his information regarding fonon separation, but that wasn't going to work, and he knew it. If anything, it would only irritate the colonel, and make it even less likely Guy would find out anything from him. Guy also knew that there weren't any books within the manor that had anything on the subject, because he'd read all of them backwards and forwards during his time as a servant.
Finally Guy's feet stopped their relentless, restless work, and he forced himself to sit down on a nearby bench. What was he supposed to do? Luke was only seven! He wasn't supposed to be going through any of this!
Guy felt lost, confused. If that was what he was feeling, he couldn't even begin to imagine what Luke felt...
But, wait. Wasn't that his job? Guy frowned. He might not be Luke's servant any more, but he was still his best friend. Wasn't it his job to be there for him in times of need? That's what he liked to think, but Luke hadn't told anyone about his condition. Jade only figured it out, and Mieu had overheard.
That was another thing. Luke made some decisions that Guy didn't quite understand. Luke was supposed to trust him entirely. So why hadn't he said anything to him yet? It infuriated Guy, because Luke was always keeping one secret or another from him. Was he that terrible a friend? Was it because of the whole 'my dad killed your entire family' deal? Luke had seemed pretty worried about that, but Guy didn't blame him for it.
There was nothing he could do, Guy slowly realized. He was helpless in Luke's greatest time of need. Well, one thing he could do was scold him. Yes, Luke needed that. So Guy took a deep breath, stood, and knocked on Luke's door.
"It's open!" Luke called from inside, although he sounded very tired. Guy hesitated, unsure whether or not this was a good time for a lecture, but he decided it was best to get it off his chest. So he pulled the door open and closed it behind him.
"Oh, Guy," Luke greeted, sitting up from where he was lying on his bed. "What brings you here?"
And then, Guy realized, he had absolutely no clue how to bring it up. So he cleared his throat, awkwardly shifting for a moment, before finally saying, "Um, so, how are you doing?"
"Eh?" Luke looked confused, but he grinned. "I'm fine, Guy! Is there something bugging you?"
"Are you sure?" Guy reached a hand up to scratch his cheek, finding this conversation uncomfortable. "I mean... you're not getting sick, or anything?"
Luke laughed, as though Guy was being silly. "I'm fine! I know I've been coughing a lot lately, but it's not anything to be worried about. All I need is some rest."
That hurt. Guy reached up and fiddled with the medallion fastened around his neck absentmindedly, beginning to brainstorm a way to put his feelings to words. He'd given Luke a chance to admit it, but he still hadn't. Why?
"Do you remember?" Guy began, tapping the ornament in a gesture. "When you gave me this?"
"Eh?" Luke's grin settled into a softer smile, and he leaned back onto the bed. "Of course I do. How could I forget?"
"It was during one of those days your father scolded you," Guy continued, as though Luke had answered negatively. "Usually, when he did, you would just sit there quietly and take it, because he was an adult and therefore, he had to be right. But you disagreed with him that time, more passionately than you usually did."
"I know," Luke scowled. "Father was being so stupid! I still think I was right, even now! He was scolding me because I was hanging out with you and Père, right? 'If you keep fraternizing with the servants, you'll become one!'" Luke's imitation of the Duke's voice was so accurate that Guy had to bite back a snicker. "Man, that was stupid. I got so mad at him that I ended up slamming the door on him."
"You wouldn't talk to anyone for days," Guy recalled with somewhat of a smirk. "Not even to me. That's because you were afraid he was right, wasn't it?"
"...Well, yeah," Luke admitted, although he was blatantly reluctant to. "I mean, even though I was pissed, he was still my dad. So I decided that, just in case either one of us wrong, I'd shut myself out and never talk to anyone."
"And then I ended up climbing into your room after week three," Guy chuckled. "You locked your door between meals, so I actually got permission to sneak in through the window from your parents."
Luke paused then, thinking, as if he couldn't quite remember this particular part. "Wait. Yeah, I remember you coming into my room, but what happened after that? You convinced me to come out, right?"
"Sort of," Guy shrugged. "I felt pretty bad that I had been the subject of your little rebellion, so I made you something as a sort of apology gift. All I did was give it to you and then leave."
"Wait..." Luke frowned, and now it was obvious something was bothering him. "That's right. What did you give me?"
Guy laughed. "You mean you don't remember? You're wearing it right now."
"Eh? I am?" Luke jumped, obviously flustered and ashamed at his inability to remember clearly. "Wait, uh, m-my gloves?"
"No, silly," Guy shook his head. "On the back of your jacket, there's a very cartoon-like picture, isn't there? It looks like a demon."
"A demon?" Luke thought for a moment, before letting out an irritated sigh and removing his jacket, placing it directly in front of him. "Oh, yeah," he realized with a blink. "I guess it does."
"I put it there," Guy smirked, the memory eliciting a small laugh from him. "I told you that it would scare away anyone you weren't ready to deal with."
"Huh." Luke rolled his eyes. "Doesn't really work then, does it?"
"Oh, as I recall, it worked quite well," Guy snickered. "When you went outside the next day and realized nobody was running away, you didn't think that I lied. You thought that meant that you were ready to talk it out with everyone."
Guy shook his head as he looked up. "And then before long, you came running to me with a necklace you'd made yourself. Remember what you said?"
"I said, 'thanks,'" Luke replied, quieting. "And..."
Guy raised an eyebrow expectantly at him, and Luke continued. "And... 'I'm glad to know I can trust you.'"
"'With anything,'" Guy corrected. "You said, 'with anything.'"
And then Luke seemed to understand what Guy was getting at. His eyes grew wide and he paled considerably. "Y-you know," Luke managed through a scared voice, and it was more of a statement than it was a question as he intended it to be.
"I do," Guy confirmed with a small nod. "Mieu told me."
"That little..." Luke's attempt at humor or laughable anger was lost, even on himself, and he looked away as though he were upset. 'As though'? Guy mentally belittled himself for the wording. Luke was upset. "Please, don't tell anyone else."
"Why not? "Guy demanded, feeling his anger rise. "Don't you trust us, Luke? Don't you think that we would want to know about something like this? Don't you think we would care?"
"It's not that," Luke assured, and Guy faltered at how calm he was making himself appear. "I just don't want anyone to treat me differently. If they all knew, then they'd treat me like I was sick. I want to enjoy the rest of the time I have, not spend it all brooding or sulking."
Guy felt his fists clench, and he had to bite back a small snarl. "So you're not going to even try to find a way to cure it? You won't even put forth any small amount of effort to stay alive? You're just going to – to accept that you're going to die?"
"What else can I do?" Luke asked, and looked him in the eye. It was such a sad, solemn look. It was... it was unlike anything Guy had ever seen. The depths of hopelessness. "Tell me, Guy. What else can I do?"
And so Guy stood there, staring into a world where hope no longer existed, and he felt it bring him in. Luke was right. Fonon separation was rare enough, but to think someone, somewhere knew of a way to stop it? To hypothesize that some Dawn Age texts knew anything at all was foolhardy and despondent.
"But..." Something in him still protested at this surrendering, at this giving in to fate. "But if we went to Belkend, or Sheridan..."
Luke shook his head. "No. Dr. Shu was the one who diagnosed me. If I stayed at the hospital there, they'd be able to delay my... my complete separation," he decided on instead of 'death', "but I'm still needed here, with you all, aren't I?"
Guy desperately wanted to tell Luke that he wasn't. That they could go to Eldrant and take care of Van without him. And afterward, they would research Luke's condition, they would... they would find a way to keep him alive...
But no. Even Guy knew that that hope was folly. Defeating Van without him wouldn't accomplish anything, and was probably impossible. If Luke wasn't the one to defeat him, then the battle would be meaningless.
"Luke, I..." Again his fists clenched, but this time consciously as he struggled to hold back the strong winds of emotion that were suddenly beating against his chest. "I'm sorry..."
Luke stood and pulled Guy into an embrace, and Guy found himself sobbing. Guy was taller than Luke, but he felt as though he was slowly sinking below him, and found himself in Luke's chest anyway. Why? Why did it have to be him?
Why did it have to be the member of the group that always led them, who was always there to support them? The member of the group that smiled no matter what, who always sacrificed himself for their cause? The member of the group that had been the most forgiving, who had never once refused someone a second chance? Why did it have to be the member of the group that was the youngest, still striving to find his place in the world?
Why did it have to be the one who mattered the most?