"You could have gotten yourself killed."

Sinbad's voice is a low, solemn thing, and Ja'far finds it difficult not to scoff. A dozen times over, they have dealt with the wretched, warmongering brat that calls himself Magi. Never mind the cuts caused by blistering wind that now decorate his face—never mind the throbbing of his head, or the way he has been picking chips of stone from his flesh for hours now. No, far more pressing had been the need to protect Sindria, to protect his king, and if death were to come by that—

"You think yourself much safer around Judal than you are."

"I can handle him, Sin." A swift yank, and one arm's wires are rewound. Sinbad looks at him, his arms folded tightly over his chest, his expression tight and terse and displeased.

"I struggle with Judal. It's—"

"Are you saying I'm incapable?"

"I'm saying you serve me much better alive than killed over such a foolishly picked battle." There's an insult there, and it stings, reminding Ja'far of how his vision burns red whenever Judal is near, whispering dark promises into his king's ear, trying so, so hard to seduce him into his plans, slinky and slithering and yet altogether vapid—the worst kind of person, the kind of person Sinbad shouldn't touch, let alone look at, and yet—

"Is that an order, then? To no longer bother fighting him?"

An exhale of frustration follows, and Ja'far feels a tiny bit of satisfaction. This is what I do every day, he thinks. I worry about you over far more trivial things, and yet

"It's an order," Sinbad suddenly, softly says, "to use the same discretion that you do in all things, and stay safe."

Sinbad's hands are warm when they grasp his face, thumbing his cheeks, brushing over his freckles. "Something like this," he says, "is not worth leaving my side for."

Ja'far rocks back onto his heels, and he thinks of a dozen things to say—for if not by protecting Sin, what else should take him to death? Then again, there's that worry that it could be Judal that takes him there, an obnoxious thought, when he finds him so distasteful.

"I have told you before that I never will."

"Keep it that way." The words sound close to a plea, and Ja'far sighs, nods,relents, tips his head into Sinbad's touch as obedient as any pet.

Sin, for all his attempts to scold and nag, always only ends up soundingterrified, and it isn't something Ja'far relishes in the least.