Well, here's chapter 3! Thank you so much for the reviews, Hikari No Aijou and Merel. And thanks for logging in this time, Merel, so people wouldn't think I was sockpuppet-reviewing my own fic. ;D Guest (I know who you are :3), words cannot describe how much I hate you. XD (Nuh, you're awesome as well. XD)

This chapter is a bit shorter, but there's some character interaction as promised! :) I hope I didn't make Songi come off as OoC here. I don't think so, and I'll explain further at the end. Anyway, enjoy!

Chapter 3

The sound of a low groan woke Gala from his thoughts, and with some kind of dim shock, he saw Songi's blue eyes open and move slowly and groggily around the room before focusing on the brunet beside him.

"H-Hey..." Songi said, barely above a whisper.

Gala sat perfectly still, unsure of what to say or do. The logical thing, of course, was to fetch Zalan as he'd promised, but he wasn't exactly thinking logically right then, so all he could do was stare stupidly back at his former best friend.

"I..."

Songi was swallowing, seemingly trying to get enough fluid into his mouth to speak. Finally, he managed:

"I-It hurts. A lot."

Gala came to himself enough to open his mouth and call for Zalan. Even as he heard the jeweller rushing into the room though, Gala couldn't take his eyes from Songi. He looked truly awful, with his hair and pale skin literally dripping with sweat, his chest heaving weakly as he struggled to draw breath, and his eyes creased with pain.

"He's awake?" Zalan asked, getting down on his knees beside them, Pepe right behind him. Gala made himself reply.

"Y-Yeah. He says he's in pain though."

Zalan nodded, then looked over his shoulder at his son.

"Pepe, fetch me the Jigul grass."

Gala felt a painful lurch in his stomach. Of course, it made sense to be using Jigul grass now, but after his past experience with it, Gala had never wanted to have anything to do with the stuff again. He averted his eyes from Songi and stared at the opposite wall as Pepe left the room to fetch the medicine.

Songi groaned again, more quietly this time. He sounded so weak, Gala hardly recongnized him. He'd always associated Songi's voice with strength and vitality. He didn't look back at him then. He couldn't. Instead, he just kept staring at the wall until Pepe returned with the Jigul grass. He handed it to Zalan and stood back, his eyes wide. It was clear that he thought Songi was going to die on them, no matter what they did.

"Thanks, Pepe," Zalan said. "Master Gala, could you please lift his head while I administer the grass?"

Zalan moved forward without waiting for an answer, probably because he assumed Gala would have no problem with doing such a thing. Then again, such a thought was only logical. If Gala didn't want to help make Songi well again, why would he have brought him to his house? Still...

Gala took his eyes from the wall, instead focusing them on the top of Songi's damp hair. He placed both his powerful hands behind his head and lifted it into a somewhat vertical position. The back of Songi's hair was as wet and sticky as it looked, and it made Gala somewhat sick to touch it, because it only confirmed how ill the man really was.

Zalan wasted no time in gently and patiently pushing the powerful medicine into Songi's mouth, making sure he swallowed each bit before he grabbed any more. Gala felt a powerful wave of gratitude towards him. He was all too happy to help, even though Gala wasn't explaining anything, and even though Fury Boosts and Jigul grass weren't exactly cheap. And when one considered that it had been Zalan's crafting that Ra-Seru egg into the Light Talisman that had saved Songi, it was almost impossible for Gala not to openly worship the jeweller.

Once he'd finished with the grass, Zalan took the small cup of water Pepe had also brought and carefully tipped it into the patient's mouth. Even with the care he took, Songi still coughed quite a bit, and Gala had to struggle not to lose his grip on the back of his head. Once the cup was empty, Zalan withdraw for a moment to retrieve another Fury Boost. The amount of blood Songi had lost made regular doses of the energy-enhancing concoction a very good idea, even though it, like the Jigul grass, brought back bad memories for Gala. Once he'd given Songi the Fury Boost as well, Zalan stood up again.

"The Jigul grass will make him sleepy and numb, but it'll help with the pain, and he's probably better off sleeping when he's lost so much blood anyway," Zalan said. For a jeweller, he certainly knew his stuff when it came to healing.

He cast a concerned glance at Gala, as though debating whether to ask him again if he wanted to leave Songi to him and get some rest, but he evidently thought better of it. He and Pepe left the room again, leaving the two young men alone once more.

Gala was extremely tired, of course. The long battle with Juggernaut and Cort, not to mention the one with Songi only a few hours beforehand, had drained him horribly. He would've loved to sleep himself, like Vahn and Noa were no doubt doing, like Songi would soon be doing once the Jigul grass took effect. But all the same he was moderately content. After all, Rim Elm and everyone who lived there was safe, Vahn and Noa were safe, and the world was finally free of the Mist. And maybe if things went well enough, Songi would make a full recovery, and then...

What? an inner, mocking voice asked. Songi will recover, and then you and he will be best friends again? Is that what you're thinking? What makes you think he won't just try to chase power and kill people again? A near-death experience doesn't mean he would've changed.

Gala ignored the voice. He was dimly aware that he was still holding the back of his former friend's head, and he let go, gently lowering his head back onto the pillow. Still, he didn't look at Songi. He didn't think he could face that right then, if ever, especially when he was still trying so hard to deny and ignore his inner rationale.

"Hey..."

Songi wasn't asleep yet, it seemed, although he sounded like he was nearly there. Gala hesitated for a moment before his nerves got the best of him, and he opened his mouth to reply in an attempt at a casual voice.

"Yes?"

There was a short pause, then:

"I-I'm sorry. Back then... with the Jigul grass."

Gala jolted. He could hardly believe his ears. He looked back at Songi, wondering if he'd imagined the words. Songi's eyes were almost closed, but there was a weak sort of smile on his face.

"I'm sorry," he mumbled again.

Gala stared stupidly at him for several seconds, unable to speak. He couldn't even remember the last time Songi had apologized for anything. It had certainly been before the incident he was referring to now, and that had been ages ago.

That didn't make it all right though. Songi had done a lot of unforgivable things. On a scale of one to ten, that stunt with the Jigul grass was probably only a one, compared to everything else. Gala swallowed, trying not to put too much emotion into his voice, and muttered:

"I would've thought you'd have a lot more to be sorry about than a stupid fight we had over two years ago."

Gala hadn't known what kind of reaction he was expecting from Songi at these words, but he certainly wasn't prepared for the one he got. Songi's smile faded, and his nearly-closed eyes darkened.

"Yeah," he said. His voice was much weaker and sleepier now. "I... I guess I really screwed up, huh?"

Gala didn't answer but turned away and looked at the wall again. He was feeling so many things at once, he didn't know how to handle it. Certainly, he couldn't stand looking at Songi any longer right then. He swallowed again, trying to keep down the painful lump that was steadily building in his throat.

"Never mind that now," Gala said finally, as coldly as he could manage. "Just go to sleep."

There was no reply, and when, several minutes later, Gala got enough control of himself to look back at Songi, he saw that the Jigul grass had finally taken effect and that the red-haired man was sleeping soundly.

Gala, utterly drained himself, took the now-almost dry wash cloth from where he'd discarded it when Songi had awoken. He folded it in half, laid it down on the edge of the low bed as far away from Songi's body as possible, and rested his head upon it.

He didn't really think about the fact that he was sleeping so closely to a man who, only yesterday, had been one of his greatest enemies. He was too tired to care anymore, and some part of him felt more secure in that position anyway, if only because he'd probably be alerted if Songi stirred.

As it turned out though, he was wrong about that, because when he awoke many hours later, his neck aching and his head thick with sleep, Songi had vanished, leaving only the bare sheets of the bed and a few bloodstains behind.

OMG! Cliffhanger! Yup, I'm evil! ;) Now, about Songi's dialogue: I like to think the fact that he was drugged, almost asleep, just freed of a Sim Ra-Seru and still shaken from his near-death experience guided him in what he said. The apology is definitely unlike him, but this fic goes over a lot of changes in his personality as he develops. He won't remember it when he wakes up, though Gala will. Although, what happened here is kind of tame compared to what happens in the next chapter. I hope I can pull it off. XD