Where You Lead

“Mel, where’s Liam?”

Rina’s voice was ice on a windshield; too thin, distorted.

“Hmm?”

Her best friend might have been doing her best impression of her usual stoicism, but it wasn’t working.

She grabbed the novel out of Mel’s hands and threw it aside, which in the book-loving land of Rina was only a few steps below murder. “I said, where is Liam?”

This time, each of her words had its own emphasis, and her control was starting to slip. Mel could feel a breeze stirring, and reminded herself that she had a year of extra training. It wasn’t Rina’s fault she slipped up more easily–well, not entirely her fault.

“Rina, calm down. You’re losing it.”

“Of course I’m losing it. He just…he’s just vanished!” Rina switched to pacing, and the air calmed. “First Will, and now Liam. It’s like…”

She sank onto Mel’s bed, most of the fight going out of her, revealing the heart of her worry. “It’s like I’m destined to lose anybody who loves me.”

Mel could have reminded her that she chose Liam over Will, a willing sacrifice. She could’ve pointed out that unlike Mel, Rina had a large, loving family that truly supported her.

But both options would be cruel when she was the only one with the information Rina needed. An omission was the same as a lie.

And besides, it was close enough now to when he’d told her to deliver the news.

“Liam’s not missing like Will was,” Mel admitted. “He went back. He chose to go.”

Rina paled. “He wouldn’t. I know we had a fight, but he would never just…go back. He’s got a whole life here now.”

Mel huffed out a breath. “Yes, and he’s also Liam! He got it into that thick head of his that the reason Will can’t cross back is because he came here in the first place. Like a balancing of the worlds.”

“So he thinks that if he just goes back to his world and restores the balance, Will will be able to go back to ours?”

“A-plus,” Mel graded her efforts, flopping backwards on the bed.

“Well?”

She opened one eyelid to peek at a blurry Rina. “Well what?”

“What are we going to do about this?”

“What do you think we should do? Your boyfriend is more stubborn than you are, and if it came down to an attempted kidnapping I don’t think we could take him. Plus, I mean, his theory is as good as any. Will is stuck here. He’s innocent in all this.”

“So is Liam!”

“You know that’s not true.”

“It’s not his destiny,” Rina amended. “Not like it is ours. He shouldn’t be punished for anything we’ve done with the mirrors.”

Frowning, she tried a different angle. “Did he ask us not to help?”

“No,” Mel admitted. “Probably because he knows he doesn’t get a say in what we do as Guardians. He’s stubborn, not stupid.”

“Okay, so we help.”

Sighing, Mel sat up and brushed her hair back, watching Rina regard her anxiously.

“Yes, we help. Of course we help.”

Mel had a family too; it just wasn’t the one she’d been born into. There was never any question that they would save Liam from his hero complex.

Her brother could be such an idiot sometimes.


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