This story was entered in the X-Day 2003 competition. 6 people rated it in the competition. Its final rating was 6.1666.
Emil Lapin winced in pain as he walked up to the front door of the safehouse. It hurt to move, it hurt to breathe, it hurt to just exist right then, it seemed to him, and he would be glad to climb into his bed and try to forget about what had happened. Looking at the large Garden District house, Emil sighed with relief when he saw all the windows were dark. The others were either out or in bed. 'Good. De las' t'ing I need right now is to be hounded wit' a buncha questions 'bout why I look dis way an' why I can' move a step wit'out cringin'...' Emil thought as he opened the door and went inside. He leaned against the door for a moment, eyes closed, absently wondering if he was bleeding as much as it felt like he was. He'd have to remember to ditch the jeans he was wearing before Mercy got around to doing the laundry.
Emil opened his eyes again and allowed them to adjust to the darkness. He then looked at the large staircase in front of him and sighed. 'Dis ain' gon' be fun...' He thought sadly. But if he wanted to get to his room, he had to go up the stairs. He sighed again and started walking, biting his lip to keep from crying as the pain shot through his body. He almost passed out by the time he reached the top of the staircase, but somehow managed not to. He kept walking, focusing on where his bedroom was, determined to get there and get the door closed before someone realized he was home and started asking questions.
Fate wasn't on Emil's side that night however. As he walked past the bedrooms, one of the doors opened. "Emil?" It was Zoe Ishihara who poked her head out her bedroom door.
Emil paused where he was and didn't turn around. He fought to keep his voice even and light. "Oui, Zoe?"
"You're late. Mercy was worried earlier. I said I'd stay awake until you got home. Is everything okay?"
Emil thought about what had happened to him and his inner voice laughed hysterically at the idea of it being "okay". Still he couldn't just start laughing like that in reply to Zoe's question, so instead he said, "Uh-huh! Of course! Jus' stopped at one of de clubs an' lost track of time. You know how we Cajuns love good jazz..."
"That's true. Well, good-night then. See you tomorrow." Zoe sounded doubtful as to whether she believed Emil's story, but she didn't press it, something Emil thanked God for.
He continued down the hall and stopped outside his own room. He knew someone was inside, waiting for him. Emil had inherited a powerful form of empathy from the Guild's spiritual healer, Tante Mattie, before she passed away, and along with that, had developed his own mutation. He was a visionary, a seer. He could see the future sometimes, and his empathy allowed him to feel the emotions of the people in the visions. This often left him with severe headaches and a feeling of helplessness when there was nothing that could be done to prevent the events from happening. He wondered why he never had a vision about the events of the night but then reminded himself that he never had visions about himself. His powers didn't work that way.
With a resigned sigh, Emil opened the door and went inside. Sure enough, Bella Donna Boudreaux, viceroy of the Unified Guild, was waiting for him, sitting at his desk playing solitaire on the computer. She shut the game down when he entered and turned in the chair to face him. "Remy's on his way down here wit' Dr. McCoy an' Professor Xavier." She stated matter-of-factly. "I heard de story you gave Zoe an' I don' buy it, from de look of you. Plus, people who are losin' track of time in a club don' let out mental screams like dat one you let out 'while 'go. Now you wan' try tellin' de truth or do I have to use my telepathy an' pry?"
"You called Remy?" Emil whispered, standing in front of her in shock.
"Non. Jean did. All de way in Alaska, she heard it too. You know how connected she is to you. She called de Professor, but she didn' have to, since he heard it as well. He got Remy an' Dr. McCoy, an' dey're comin'. All dey know is somethin's wrong wit' you. Wan' tell me what it is? You look worse'n you did when Gris beat you up dat time las' year."
"I don' wan' talk 'bout it. An' I don' wan' dem comin' here an' tryin' to take care of me. I can take care of myself." Emil said. "Jus' leave me alone Bel. An' don' try'n use yours powers on me b'cause I can tell when you do an' I'll jus' block you."
Bella Donna sighed. "Emil...please don' be so difficult...you're radiatin' pain like it's goin' outta style. You know we jus' wan' help. Can' do dat wit'out knowin' what de problem is." Bel reached out to touch his arm, in an effort to be reassuring. She got the shock of her life when Emil, who was usually very open to touch, jerked away and moved back, a look of panic on his pale, bruised face.
"I said leave me alone." Emil said, his voice shaking. He went over to his bed, turned away from her. "I jus' wan' go to bed, Bel. Please?"
Bella Donna noticed the large dark stain on his jeans and her hand flew to her mouth. She had seen similar stains on Questa's jeans enough times to know what it meant. She also knew she couldn't do a thing but respect his wishes. She sighed and stood up. "I'll leave you alone, Emil, sure. But when Remy, de Professor an' Dr. McCoy get here, you're gon' find dey won' let dis drop."
With that, Bel left the room and went down to the main floor of the safehouse to await the arrival of Remy and the other X-Men. She didn't have a long wait, as their jet, the Blackbird, was very fast. When they arrived fifteen minutes later, Bel met them at the door.
"Bel..." Remy began, his red-on-black eyes filled with worry. "Is he here?"
"Yeah." Bella Donna replied. "He lied to Zoe when she asked what happened, an' he won' tell me. I don' know how co-operative he's gon' be wit' you three, but I am glad you're here."
Professor Xavier frowned. "Do you have any idea at all what happened to him, to make him scream like dat, Bella Donna?"
"Actually...yes." Bel looked down. "Even t'ough he wouldn' tell me, I've seen de stains enough times on Questa's clothes when we were younger. I t'ink he was raped. Judgin' from de amount of blood on his jeans, I'd say by more'n one man."
"My stars and garters..." Hank breathed. He shook his furry blue head in disbelief. "That is horrible."
"Mon dieu..." Remy whispered. "Hank you don' know de half of how horrible it is. De guys left in de t'ieves side of de Guild now...Theoren, Claude, Genard an' Emil...none of dem ever been in any kind of romantic or sexual relationship in deir lives. De very idea dat a gang of men attacked my cousin an' raped him..." Remy couldn't finish the sentence.
"Well he's in his room..." Bel said to fill the uncomfortable silence that followed Remy's statement. "You guys should get up there if you don't want to have to wake him up."
Remy led the way up to the second-floor and down the hall to Emil's room. He opened the door after knocking on it softly and they entered. Emil was laying on his bed, the light on the nightstand was on, casting an eerie glow across his face. He was on his side, facing them, and had the covers pulled up tight around his body. Tears flowed silently from his eyes. "Go 'way."
"Emil...we can' go 'way." Remy replied, kneeling down beside his cousin. He reached out to brush some of the tears off Emil's face and got the same reaction Bella Donna had earlier. Emil pulled away; the sudden movement caused him such pain that he winced and cried out.
"Gambit, let me try to talk to him." Hank requested. Remy nodded and got up, moving to give the big doctor some room. Hank pulled the desk chair over and sat down in it, almost exactly where Remy had been moments before. "Bella Donna told us what she suspected had happened to you, my friend. If that is the case, I need to examine you. You are obviously in a great deal of pain, and I can give you medication to ease that somewhat, but I still need to do an examination. You may need stitches so your body can heal properly."
"Can you jus' give me de meds an' not examine me?" Emil questioned.
Hank laughed. "No, I'm sorry it doesn't work that way. Not when it comes to this."
Emil sighed, the tears starting to flow faster. "I don' want anybody touchin' me..." He whispered.
"I understand that. That's a perfectly normal reaction. But Emil, if you do not agree to it, I will have to sedate you and examine you after you've been sedated. I would really rather have your cooperation. I don't like giving drugs when drugs aren't a necessity. So what do you say?"
Emil nodded, a move that was barely perceptable. "Can Remy an' de Professor leave first?"
"If you want us to leave, Emil, we'll leave." Professor Xavier said. "We want you to be as comfortable as possible right now, and we know that's difficult, so we'll do as you ask."
Once Remy and Professor Xavier left the room, Emil obediently rolled over, an ordeal that took the better part of five minutes, so Hank could examine him. The examination itself too close to ten minutes. Hank wanted to be sure of the things he was seeing, plus he spent a great deal of time cleaning Emil up.
"There is quite a bit of tearing, but the bleeding is stopping nicely, so I do not believe you'll need stitches." Hank told him. "It will take awhile to heal though, and I expect you will feel a great deal of discomfort for quite some time."
"Great..." Emil muttered inwardly. "Can I have dose pain medications now, Doc?"
"Of course, Emil." Hank handed Emil two small white pills and Emil took them using the glass of water on his nightstand, while Hank went to the door and told Remy and Professor Xavier they could come in again. The rest of the Guild was now awake and most were in the hallway, looks of sympathy and horror on their faces. Remy and Bella Donna had told them what they knew of what happened to Emil.
"Can we come in too, Dr. McCoy?" Mercy asked.
Hank looked back in at Emil, who shook his head, and then back at Mercy and the other Guild members. "I'm afraid not right now...he's having a hard time coping with this and I think it would be best to leave him be for the most part until the morning."
Professor Xavier and Remy followed Hank back into Emil's bedroom, while the Guild remained converged in the hallway, talking among themselves.
"The good news," Hank said. "Is there isn't a need for stitches. The bad news is, he's going to be in considerable discomfort and pain for quite some time."
"Emil..." Remy said. "De others are all up...we're all worried 'bout you...Theoren's mad enough to spit bullets at whoever did dis to you...can you--"
Emil knew what his cousin was going to say and cut him off. "I don' wan' talk 'bout it, Remy. Why can' you jus' leave me alone? I did what Dr. McCoy asked an' let him examine me. Ain' dat enough? I don' wan' talk 'bout it now, an' I won' wan' talk 'bout it later."
Remy sighed and nodded. "I won' press it, Emil. Do you want me to send someone else in? Mercy, maybe?"
"Non!" Emil said, biting off the word sharply. "What part of I don' wan' talk 'bout it do you not understand, Rem?"
"I'm sorry, Emil." Remy said softly. He gave a sad little smile to Hank and the Professor and then left the room. Professor Xavier picked up on a stray thought from Remy and shook his head. 'I don' know what else to do but what he says...I don' wan' hurt him more'n he already has been...but it's hard to help when he doesn' wan' it...'
'I'll talk to him, Remy. You talk to your Guild. And remember something that might come in handy: Utilize all your options.' Xavier thought to Remy. He could sense Remy's confusion regarding the advice, but knew it would be thought about.
Aloud, Professor Xavier addressed Hank. "Henry, would it be okay if I spoke with Emil in private?"
"I don't see why not, Charles. Just try to keep it short, as he needs some rest." Hank replied with a smile. "I will be out with the others if you need me."
Once Hank left the room and the door was shut securely again, Professor Xavier looked at Emil. "Your friends and family are only trying to help you, Emil. They're worried about you, and anxious to make sure you're alright. It's hard for them to do that when they don't know the details of the situation."
"How can dey help me when dey don' understand it?" Emil demanded, his voice trembling. "Dey couldn' help me when I inherited Tante Mattie's powers an' got my own...b'cause dey don' know what it's like! An' dey can' help me now, for de same reason! Dey have no idea what I'm goin' t'rough. So how can dey help?"
"If you talked about it, perhaps it would help them understand." Xavier commented.
"I don' wan' talk 'bout it! If it happened to you, you wouldn' either." Emil retorted.
"But talking about it helps. None of us, myself and Hank included, have asked that you go into explicit details regarding what exactly happened...nor would we. That would be insensitive of us."
'Fine. You wan' know what happened, I'll tell you what happened. I don' care what you do wit' de information.' Emil thought to him suddenly. Emil's mental abilities always surprised Xavier, because he kept forgetting the young man was a strong empath and a visionary. 'I was walkin' home from de movie I went to by myself b'cause no one here wanted to see it an' I got jumped by four guys. Dey hauled me into an alley, beat de crap outta me an'...an'...raped me. Den dey left an' after I figured out I could still move even t'ough it hurt like hell, I came home.'
"Oh Emil..." Xavier said softly. "I'm so sorry..."
"Well you wanted to know. An' now dat you do, leave me alone." Emil said, rolling over and blocking Xavier from both his line of sight and his thoughts.
Professor Xavier left the room a couple of minutes later. He clicked out the lights before he left. He wasn't surprised to find Hank in the hallway with most of the Guild members.
"Professor, is he okay?" Theoren demanded as soon as the door was closed.
"Would you be, in his position, Theoren?" Xavier asked candidly.
Theoren thought for a moment. "Non...non I guess I wouldn' be. But dat's no reason to push us all away like he's doin'. Leavin' him alone isn' gon' do him any good."
"That is true, but he has a reason for saying he wants to be left alone." Xavier commented. "Merely hours ago he was attacked by four men, dragged into an alley, beaten and rather brutally raped. Do you know the first thing about how that feels? Chances are, no. You don't. That's his reasoning."
"Professor..." Remy said. "You told me earlier to utilize my options. I want to help Emil, we all do, but I don' get it. What options do we have if he won't let us near him?"
"Remy, think about it for a moment. Most of you have no idea how Emil feels, or what he's going through, correct?" Xavier explained.
"Oui, dat's right."
"But isn't there one among you who does? If there is anybody in this family who can help Emil successfully..."
Remy's eyes lit up. "Questa...! Of course! Why didn' we t'ink of dat?"
"Now you're utilizing your options. Why don't you go explain to Questa what happened, and ask for his assistance? Tell him he can talk to me if he has any problems or worries about it, as I know it will be quite a difficult and personal task for him to undertake." Xavier encouraged.
Remy walked down the hallway and stopped outside Questa Devereaux's bedroom door. He raised his hand to knock on the door, but hesitated. Asking Questa, someone who had been emotional, physically and sexually abused all his life, to aid in Emil's situation was insensitive, wasn't it? Remy wasn't sure.
"Askin' him don' hurt, y'know." A feminine voice said from behind.
Remy turned and smiled at Singer, who was floating behind him, her pretty green eyes hidden by the dark glasses she always had to wear. "It jus' seems..."
Singer nodded sagely. "Je sais, Remy. But t'ink of it dis way. Maybe helpin' Emil will in turn help Questa put his past behind him. Ask him. De worst he can do is say no, an' if I know my cousin as well as I t'ink I do, he won' say no."
"You're right, Singer. T'anks." Remy replied and knocked on the door as Singer floated back down the hall to talk to the others again.
"C'min..." A sleepy voice said in response to the knock. Remy took a breath and let it out slowly. 'Dis is for Emil...an' maybe for Questa himself, too...' With that thought, Remy opened the door and entered the room.
"Hey Q-Ball. How come you didn' come join ev'ryone in de hall? Somethin' wrong?" Remy asked, sitting down on the chair and facing Questa, who was laying in bed, his maroon comforter pulled up around him. Remy absently wondered how old the blanket was and how much comfort it gave the assassin.
"Not wit' me, non. But somethin' is wrong, isn' it, Remy?" Questa remarked. "De rest of de t'ieves been worried for awhile, an' Bella Donna got mad at Gris when he told her she should go to bed. Dat ain' right..."
"Non, it's not right. But you're correct, dere is somethin' wrong. Somethin' I t'ink you might be de only one of us qualified to help mend."
Questa frowned. "I ain' qualified to do nothin' but be an assassin an' a possible future mental patient, Remy an' you know it. I'd prob'ly screw up de problem even worse."
Remy sighed and shook his head. "Questa, you are way too hard on yourself. Do you at least want to hear what's goin' on?"
A shrug. "I guess so..."
"Well you know how Emil went to de movies tonight by himself...well on his way home, he was jumped by four men." Remy watched Questa's reaction sharply. He knew he wouldn't have to actually say all the words before Questa put the pieces together. "Dey dragged him into a nearby alley, beat him up an'...well..."
Questa tensed, all color draining out of his face, his eyes wide with shock and mortification. "Not Emil..." He whispered. "Dat kinda t'ing's s'posed to happen to me, not him..."
"No, Questa, it's not s'posed to happen to anybody. Not you, not him, none of us. But it happened to you, more often dan anyone cares to admit, yourself included, an' now it's happened to him." Remy said. "He's hurtin'...bad. An' he don' wan' talk to any of us 'bout it. Professor Xavier suggested you might be de only one who can get t'rough to him, seein' as you're de only one who knows how he feels right now."
Questa nodded thoughtfully and sat up. "I don' know if I can do dis, Remy...I don' know if I'm strong enough..."
Remy moved over and sat on the bed, putting a hand on Questa's shoulder. "I t'ink you're stronger dan you give yourself credit for, Q. B'sides, Professor Xavier's here, an' so's Hank. Dey're bot' willin' an' able to help you if you need it. Will you try? For yourself an' for Emil?"
Questa nodded again. "Okay. I'll try. Give me a minute?"
Less than five minutes later, Questa joined the group assembled outside Emil's bedroom door. He he put on a pair of sweat pants and a different t-shirt. His unruly hair was just as messed up as always. The expression on his face was a mix of fear, uncertainty and determination. "Y'know, mes amis, since Emil is an empath, he's prob'ly readin' your emotions loud an' clear right now. He knows you're worried 'bout him. You don' need to hold a vigil outside his room. It prob'ly ain' helpin'. Why don' you go down to de kitchen an' hang out dere, or watch a movie in de livin' room, if you don' feel up to goin' back to bed?"
"Questa has a very good point." Hank said frankly. "Why don't we go do something else and wait and see what happens? The least we can do is give him some space and time to try and converse with Emil. He might have better fortune if we're not hovering outside the door."
"T'anks Dr. McCoy." Questa smiled gratefully. "You an' de Professor ain' leavin', right...?"
"Oh no, we wouldn't dream of it. We know how difficult this will be for you. We're here for you as well as Emil. If you need us, just come and get us or something." Hank replied.
"Okay." Questa said. "T'anks. I 'preciate dat."
When everyone else left the hallway, heading downstairs, he knocked lightly on Emil's door. "Emil? It's Questa...can I come in?"
"You're gon' come in anyway, ain'cha?" Emil asked from inside the room. He sounded like he'd been crying, and Questa knew that was likely the case.
"Well..." Questa stammered, unsure what to say, exactly.
"Come on in, Q. May as well."
Questa opened the door and entered, shutting the door and looking at Emil. "You don' look so good, Red."
Emil raised his eyebrows. "Why are you here?"
"B'cause you don' wan' talk to anyone else."
"Don' wan' talk to you either, or did dey fail to mention dat when dey recruited you to come try'n help me?" Emil retorted. His words were angry, but his tone betrayed how scared and hurt he really was.
"You ain' angry wit' me or wit' dem, Emil, an' you know it." Questa said patiently, sitting down on the bed and facing Emil squarely. "You're angry wit' dose men an' maybe wit' your inability to fight back an ' stop dem."
Emil rolled his eyes. "You don' know how I feel or what I'm mad at."
"Sure I do, Emil." Questa replied, his voice quiet. "Been dere, done dat, burned de t-shirt. Remember? For years I hated my father an' brother for hurtin' me de way dey did...an' when I got older, I hated myself b'cause I couldn' stand up to dem an' make dem stop. I didn' have de emotional strength or independence to take my life into my own hands, not until Jean helped me. As for you...we all know you ain' much of a fighter anyway, but dat's not a bad t'ing, since you're into computers an' stuff. Dere's enough of us to do de actual fightin', y'know? You couldn' stop dose guys from attackin' you, any more'n I could stop Papa an' Percy from attackin' me."
"I hate dis..." Emil whispered. "If I fought back..."
Questa nodded. "I know. But it don' really help to play what-if. It jus' makes it hurt more. What dey did to you wasn' right. It was very, very wrong of dem, but above all else, it wasn' your fault."
"It hurts, Questa...it hurts a lot..." The tears that had welled up in Emil's blue eyes again spilled over and he wrapped his arms around himself. He found that no matter what position he put himself in, it still hurt, and he couldn't get any sort of comfort or security, and that made him cry even harder.
"Yes. It does." Questa sighed. "An' I wish I could tell you dat it'll stop hurtin' eventually...but it won'. Not really. De pain will kind of go away, an' it won' hurt as much, but you'll always be able to feel it. In some way, it will always hurt."
"Still hurts you?" Emil sniffled.
"Uh-huh. Inside an' out. Mos' of de time it ain' really noticable, but sometimes it is. I've more or less come to terms wit' de fact dat in some ways I will always hurt from what happened to me, in more ways dan one. But I don' blame myself, I know what happened was never my fault, even t'ough dey made me feel like it was."
"Do you still hate dem?" Emil asked, wiping the tears off his face and listening to Questa with some interest.
"On my bad days, like after a particularly hard night of vivid memories floating through my dreams, yes. But for the most part...not anymore. I guess you could say I grew out of hatin' dem. Do you hate de men who attacked you?"
"Yeah. I never did nothin' to dem, I didn' d'serve it..." Emil paused and the tears started fresh. "Why'd dey do it, Questa? Why'd dey single me out an' hurt me like dat?"
"Prob'ly de same reason why Papa, Percy an' deir cronies hurt me. Dey're sick men who get deir jollies out of sexually assaulting other men. Hell...dey're prob'ly all gay an' got sick of screwin' each other."
The ghost of a smile crossed Emil's pale face, in spite of the tears falling from his eyes. He tried to change positions and yelped in pain as he did so. He leaned back abruptly in defeat, sobbing in pain, a look of helpless frustration on his face. He turned away, refusing to look at Questa.
For his own part, Questa cringed in sympathy, remembering so many days of intense, agonizing pain. He'd been in Emil's position so many times...and each time it got harder, not easier. One thing that would have helped him back then was knowing that he wasn't alone, but at the time he was alone. Emil wasn't, and somehow, he had to prove that to the younger man. Instinctively, Questa got up and climbed onto the bed, maneuvering around until he was on the other side, in between Emil and the wall.
Emil watched the assassin move, his curiosity almost getting the better of his fear and pain. "What are you doin'?" He finally demanded when he was literally face to face with Questa in his own bed.
"Makin' myself comfortable." Questa shrugged.
"In my bed..." Emil countered.
"Well...on your bed, to be exact. Since you're under dose covers an' I'm not."
Questa smiled sympathetically. "B'cause I couldn' t'ink of anythin' else to do, Red. I know you're in a lot of pain, an' I can' fix dat, but I didn' know what else I could do."
Emil nodded. He wasn't angry, just shocked by Questa's actions. And he was very, very scared. "Can I tell you somethin'?"
"I'm scared. I mean I know I been pushin' everyone 'way, even you a little bit, but I don' really wan' be alone...I jus' don' want someone in here tryin' to tell me how it's gon' be okay an' all dat crap b'cause right now I don' buy it. You won' do dat..."
"Dat's right, I won'. B'cause I know dat what happened to you is not okay. An' hearin' dose horribly optimistic words so soon afterwards is unfair."
"Yeah. Questa?" Emil whispered. "I'm scared to be in here by myself...I'm scared to go to sleep...I don' wan' be alone...don'...please don' leave me here. You really are de only one who understands. Don' leave me alone. Please?"
Questa's heart almost broke when he heard Emil's words. "Emil, when I was goin' t'rough dis kinda t'ing b'fore, I didn' have anybody...not a single person in dat whole damned mansion...who understood what I was goin' t'rough. No one who knew what kinda pain I was in. An' dat hurt almost as much as de ordeal itself. Now...you're goin' t'rough a very similar ordeal an' you're not alone. Dat's why I moved over here...I wanted you to know dat. You ain' de only one of us who's been t'rough it. I have too. An' I'm here. I ain' goin' anywhere, I will not leave you, until you kick me outta dis room."
Emil sighed with relief. "T'ank you..." He whispered. He slowly and painstakingly moved closer to Questa, until he could rest his head on the other man's shoulder.
"Comfortable?" Questa asked, playing the role he'd been given perfectly and wrapping his arms around Emil's trembling body.
"Yeah." Emil replied. He finally felt safe and secure, and it was all thanks to an assassin. 'Go figure...' He closed his eyes and was asleep in moments.
Questa watched him sleep for a few minutes. He knew the thief would probably have at least one nightmare before the night was over, but he felt very at ease laying there and knew he'd be able to comfort Emil when the need arose. It felt weird, to be the one giving comfort instead of receiving it, but it was a good weird. He was making a difference. 'If I can make it jus' a little easier for him to deal wit' dis, den dat's good. He won' have to end up like I did...alone an' crazy.'
Before he settled down to sleep himself, Questa opened his mind and sent a thought to the Professor, who he knew would be able to relay the message to the rest of the Guild and Dr. McCoy. 'He's asleep. I won' leave him. Why don' you tell everyone else dat gettin' some rest is a good idea?'
'How is he, Questa?' Professor Xavier asked back.
Questa wondered how to answer that, but finally went with the truth. 'He's scared, an' he's hurtin' a lot, but he knows he's not alone an' I guess he's found some peace in dat b'cause he fell asleep quick enough after bein' assured I'd still be here when he wakes up.'
'Alright. Pleasant dreams then, Questa. I will tell the others. Do not hesitate to call for me if you need assistance during the night.' Xavier said.
'T'ank you, Professor. Goodnight.' Questa said with a smile. His shoulder would be sore in the morning, but it didn't matter, as long as Emil was secure. He hugged Emil a little tighter for a moment and then relaxed his arms, closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.