Returning to the cul-de-sac after everything we’d been through was… strange, to say the least, even though only a day had passed. It felt like we’d experienced a year’s worth of trauma in less than twenty-four hours. How do you even go back to a normal routine after all of that? How do you go back to getting coffee with friends, reading corny novels, walking to the store because you have nothing better to do… It’s hard for me to conceptualize, and it seems to be hard for Krystoff, too.
I spend a week straight indoors, trying to work up the courage to see anyone other than Krystoff and Regenald again.
REGENALD: Jun. Might I have a word with you?
JUN: Yeah, come in.
REGENALD: I hope I’m not interrupting anything.
JUN: Nah, just updating my journal so that if I have a belated stress-induced break with reality and lose my memory, I’ll be able to refresh myself on everything that happened this month.
REGENALD: Is… that something you’re significantly concerned might happen…??
JUN: …Not really, but I shouldn’t joke about it. Sorry.
REGENALD: You have been through a lot, especially for a normal human. And I think you and Krystoff deal with things similarly, so I understand your instinct to deflect your own feelings. But please do not feel as though you need to put up a front. Especially around a mere umbrella such as myself.
JUN: Aw, you’re no mere umbrella, Regenald. Thanks for saying that, though. What did you want to talk about?
I close my memoirs and set them on the nightstand, swinging my legs over the edge of my bed so I can sit up and hear what he has to say. It’s extremely rare for Regenald to seek me out on his own, so I imagine there must be a good reason for this visit.
REGENALD: It would seem he intends to continue on as sector apparition. After the events that transpired, I believe he’s had a change of heart towards his duties.
JUN: Oh, really? I kind of had a feeling, but I wasn’t sure since it seemed to make him so miserable last we talked about it.
REGENALD: I think Angkit has finally given him something positive to aspire to rather than something oppressive to live in fear under. Shope, too.
JUN: Aw… That makes me happy. But why are you the one telling me about it?
REGENALD: I worried this news might spark a conflict of interest between you and Krystoff. That perhaps you’d prefer a normal life, rather than continuing to play assistant to an apparition. That you might wish to leave and move on to other things. Less… potentially hazardous things.
I lean forward onto my elbows and give Regenald a lopsided grin.
JUN: If he’s paranoid about me losing interest in him now after everything I endured, for his sake and my own, then he’s being silly.
REGENALD: I do not speak on Krystoff’s behalf. I don’t think the thought of you leaving has even occurred to him. This concern was one of my own, but I can see now that it was unfounded.
JUN: Aww, wait, really? Regenald! You don’t want me to go that badly?
REGENALD: Your presence has greatly brightened his life. And there is no greater joy a humble servant like me can experience than to see my master so happy. Even if the flirting occasionally drives me up a wall.
JUN: I… am so sorry about that.
Regenald chuckles, like, actually chuckles at that. Have I ever heard him laugh before?
REGENALD: I cannot complain if it means you are both in high spirits.
I don’t know if I’d say it’s always a side effect of high spirits. It’s more like an addiction I can’t kick. Krystoff is just so tantalizing to tease… but I refrain from saying that to Regenald.
REGENALD: Krystoff’s regalement of how I came into being was factual, but I think he failed to convey a particular piece of the story accurately. As a young, immature being with a lot of potent magic, there were things he did without meaning to. Giving me life was one of those things.
REGENALD: He held me in his hands and saw that I was thrown out for being old and weather-worn. This evoked a loneliness that he felt for himself, and the strength of that emotion seeped into me and brought me sentience. In so many words, I am a creature manifested by the raw power of Krystoff’s childhood loneliness.
REGENALD: So I’m certain you can understand why it brings me in particular joy to see him contented by another’s presence. There have been those who temporarily sated us, but…
REGENALD: Well, I will not mince words. You are special. To him, and to me by extension.
JUN: Geez. Thanks, Regenald, I kinda don’t know how to respond to that. I’m just a normal person.
REGENALD: Perhaps you are. Maybe that’s all you need to be, though.
REGENALD: The young master is making tea. Perhaps you might join us for a bit in the study? And… perhaps you might keep this conversation between the two of us?
JUN: Yeah, I’d like that. And no worries. Let’s head to the study together.