• Published 14th Oct 2019
  • 3,202 Views, 142 Comments

Never Seen - semillon



Ten years after Princess Twilight’s coronation, the Student Six are no longer friends.

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STRANGER

The towel around Gallus’s shoulders was still damp. Beads of water would drip down his sides, getting onto the letters on the desk he was sitting on. His wings fell limply down his sides.

Silverstream didn’t say anything. Not about the wings, or the letters she had spent hours writing.

Seeing him made her realize that she had grown a lot in recent years. She was nearly as tall as Celestia, judging from the last time the retired royal visited Mount Aris.

Gallus, however, had barely changed.

“Any survivors?” he asked.

Silverstream sighed. “You. An earth pony. Several griffons. Five or six, I think. It’s going to be a couple of hours before my doctor allows visitors. Why were you on that boat?”

“There’s some stupid magic stuff happening in Griffonstone,” said Gallus, “and we happen to know some of the most magically versed creatures on the planet. I need an alicorn, which means that as soon as you get me to Mount Aris, I can get the next train to Canterlot as fast as possible and we’ll never have to think about each other again.”

Silverstream ignored the last part and met his gaze. “Another villain?”

“You better hope not,” Gallus said. “The reaper still has Terramar and your mom to check off her list.”

“That’s not funny,” Silverstream whispered, but didn’t get angry. She couldn’t get angry. She didn’t want to.

Gallus scoffed. “Gabby’s dead. Probably. Gilda, too. And a council member. Whoever’s hurt them is probably hunting me down, too. I don’t see the sea monster attack as a coincidence.”

“Gabby?” Silverstream repeated. “A-And...oh no. Gallus, I’m—”

Gallus closed his eyes. “I really don’t want to be here.”

Silverstream sighed. “I’m sorry.”

“When did you even join the navy?” Gallus asked. “Who does that? I figured you’d become a politician or something after your professor shit fell through. You know, put the many wasted years of friendship school to good use? But no, you have this fancy ship and you’re suddenly Pirate Daring Do.”

“You’d know if you read my letters,” Silverstream said, attempting to sound angry but only sounding more pathetic as her heart fell.

“Do you want to know what I do with every single letter you’ve sent me for the past three years?” Gallus asked, opening his eyes once more to glare at her.

She wondered what she looked like to him. She could feel tears wanting to break free from her eyes. Could he see that? Did he know that he was getting to her?

“No,” said Silverstream. Whatever it was, she didn’t want to hear.

“I spit on every single envelope, rip it to pieces and I throw them in my fireplace.”

Silverstream whimpered. “Why—”

The door to the cabin opened, and Terramar stepped in, wet and wary. In his talons was the Crown of Grover.

Silverstream gasped as the amulet around her neck floated upwards, vibrating softly as it attempted to pull her towards the crown like a dog seeing its owner. She grunted, took hold of the chain and yanked the amulet back to her chest, where it fell limp.

Gallus and Terramar watched her until she got the amulet down, and then Terramar placed the crown on the desk.

Thin patches of seawater lay on the surface of the metal, air drying as the seconds passed. Other than its wetness, it looked perfect. Pristine, like it hadn’t just survived an attack from a giant magical sea monster.

Gallus blinked, turning to the young hippogriff that stood in front of the cabin door. “This has to be a joke. What else did you find?”

“Pieces of the ship,” said Terramar.

“Right, but I was asking about important things, shrimp.”

“Don’t call him that,” said Silverstream.

“Or what?,” Gallus asked. He picked up the crown and brought it closer to his face.

“You mentioned somecreature hunting you down earlier,” said Silverstream. “How is that possible when you have the Crown with you?”

“Maybe they just got a monster to attack every ship on the open sea,” Gallus snarked.

That was impossible. Probably. Silverstream sighed. “Is there anything else, Terramar?”

“I-I already said no.”

Gallus rolled his eyes and walked to the door, throwing an arm around Terramar and forcefully leading him outside of the cabin. Terramar had grown exponentially in recent years, giving him a significant height advantage over Gallus, but the young hippogriff was as meek as ever.

“Let’s get some food, shrimp!” Gallus said. “I’m getting a little tired of your boss over there.”

Silverstream leapt off of the bed, her wings beginning to flare. “I’m coming with you, actually.”

I don’t want you to hurt Terramar, she thought. He can’t take it.

Gallus turned back to glare at her. “Are you serious?”

Terramar squirmed. “Don’t I have a choice in this?”

“No,” Silverstream and Gallus replied.

Gallus sighed. “Whatever.”

They stepped outside, and for a minute they were assaulted by rain, falling as heavy and as plentiful as ever on the Coralvreckan’s main deck. Silverstream tried to find the joy in it, but couldn’t.

They kept their heads down and their eyes forward, moving past the working crew to the other side of the ship, opening a door leading below deck.

“I’m having a sugar craving,” Gallus said.

Terramar looked to her for permission to mention the appropriate amenity. She shrugged.

Her brother told Gallus about the ice cream parlour on the orlop deck, fashioned to look like an all-white version of Sugarcube Corner that she once dreamed about.

“An ice cream parlour?” Gallus asked, pointedly looking at Terramar and ignoring her. “Seriously?”

“Streamie did design the ship,” said Terramar.

The parlour was enchanted from floor to ceiling with runes that made the air tolerable whilst keeping the ice cream cold, and on hot days it was the busiest spot on the ship other than the top deck. There were a few crew members present when they entered, but they took their desserts to go, and after momentarily saluting her they left, and the three of them were alone.

Gallus and Terramar each grabbed themselves a few scoops of dark chocolate cherry in slightly toasted wafer cones, stealing a table at the centre of the room. Silverstream sat at a table adjacent to them, and said nothing.

Gallus ate as voraciously as one who had just cheated death, attacking the cold, creamy dessert without shame or care for the excess that was quickly building around his beak and cheek feathers. He finished in under fifteen seconds and vigorously wiped his beak with the back of a talon.

Terramar, meanwhile, only looked on at the savage display with restrained repulsion. He had chosen to take careful, savoring licks at his frozen treat, barely halfway done.

“So,” Gallus said. “You seeing anyone?”

Silverstream tensed.

“That doesn’t matter,” Terramar said, his feathers ruffling.

Gallus rolled his eyes. “So you’re not seeing anyone, then.”

“What do you care?” Terramar asked.

Gallus whistled. “I guess it’s not much of a surprise, though.”

“You don’t have to be rude,” Terramar murmured. “We’re all friends here.”

“We’re not friends,” Gallus snapped. “I’m not friends with anybody on this ship. I don’t want to be here. I never wanted to be here. Don’t pretend like this can be anything but painful for the three of us.”

Terramar shrunk in his seat. “I...”

Silverstream nearly interrupted, but—

“You’re melting on the left side,” Gallus cut in.

“Oh.” Terramar turned the cone in his talons until the thin stream of melting ice cream was facing towards him, and licked it away. He took another few bites before he put the cone down again. He sighed. “There’s still no reason for us to have a bad time while you’re here. We don’t have to act like—like everything’s normal, but we can at least all agree to play nice. It’s nearly Dad’s—”

“Do I look like I care in the slightest about your dad’s death anniversary?” Gallus seethed.

Silverstream exhaled, but stayed quiet, even as Terramar winced like he had just been slapped.

“I know that it’s a weird time for both you and Silverstream,” he said, “but if we can just agree to stay calm until we get to land, I think that this will feel a lot faster.”

Gallus scoffed. “No.”

“Why not?” Terramar begged.

“Because I don’t want to, shrimp.” Gallus reached over and firmly grabbed Terramar’s ice cream out of his talons before throwing it into his beak, loudly crunching it up as the younger hippogriff watched.

Terramar turned and shot Silverstream a pleading gaze, but she shook her head.

Then Gallus leaned back and belched. “I’m going to make myself at home on your nice, comfy ship, and if we manage to survive until we get to Mount Aris, then great.”

Terramar turned back to him, frowning.

Gallus made a bored, repulsed groan. “It’s not like you’re gonna do anything about it, anyway.”

Terramar went to say something, but stopped himself. Then he sighed. “You can do whatever you want, Gallus. I’m just so tired. We were supposed to be back home already. All I want to do is get out of this storm, and I don’t want to deal with your and Streamie’s emotional baggage anymore. Did you know this is the longest amount of time she hasn’t talked in weeks, barring sleep?”

“What are you gonna find at home, shrimp?” Gallus asked. “An empty bed and no daddy to comfort you about your sad, pathetic life following your sister around?”

“Why are you being so mean?” Terramar asked, his body trembling. Again, he turned to Silverstream. “Why aren’t you saying anything?

Silverstream swallowed. “I—”

“It’s because I hate you,” Gallus said, raising an eyebrow. “I hate you and your sister and I hate that I have to suffer looking at you two again. No, no, you know what? That’s not even a good enough word. I fucking despise the both of you, and I hope that whatever destroyed my last boat crushes this one to pieces so we can all be done with each other once and for all.”

Terramar’s beak clenched. He looked furious. And helpless. He attempted to say something, but whatever fire in his heart that had come alive died immediately. He blinked, and settled for attempting to hold his gaze with Gallus, but even then he quailed, and then he stood up and left without another word.

Silverstream watched him, her heart breaking by the inches. She wanted to say something. She felt like she wanted to stand up and yell and scream as loud as she could, but she didn’t have the words.

Gallus scoffed, and drummed a talon on the table. He looked to her. “Anywhere I can get a drink?”

“Find it yourself. I—I have things to do.” Silverstream muttered.

Gallus shrugged.

She stood up and took her leave. Her steps were wobbly. Uncoordinated. She felt his eyes boring into the back of her head until she rounded the corner, and even then, she couldn’t help but feel like she wasn’t alone.

The medical bay smelled like bandages and rubbing alcohol, and it made Silverstream hungry like nothing else, weirdly enough. She strolled down the rows of bunk beds filled with unconscious griffons to the end of the room, where a single earth pony lay on a bottom bunk, her forelegs crossed as she was being tended to by a powder blue hippogriff with glasses—the Coralvreckan’s medical officer: Deadwater.

Late Harvest had fur like butter, a short, tomato-red mane, and eyes like two chocolate truffles.

Silverstream’s belly growled audibly as she approached. She forced all thoughts of food out of her mind as she adopted a straighter posture—one befitting of an aristocrat and captain of the navy.

The earth pony, on the other claw, watched her cautiously.

“How’s she looking, Deady?” Silverstream asked.

Deadwater turned to her with a soft smile underneath sleepy eyes. “Her nervous system’s still recovering from the shock of nearly drowning and being thrown about by the tides. She’s got a bump on her head that should go down in a few days, and she’ll be able to move about the ship freely in a few hours, but for now I’m prescribing her a healthy few hours of bed rest. Maybe a nap.”

“Thank you,” said Silverstream. “Could you leave us alone, now?”

“Of course, Captain.”

Deadwater left the room, leaving Silverstream to sit in front of the earth pony.

“Hello,” said Silverstream. “I’m Captain Silverstream. You must be Late Harvest.”

“You’re one of the—Celestia, what did the papers call you guys? The Student Six? Princess Twilight’s star students?” Harvest asked. “You’re one of Gallus’s friends.”

Silverstream resisted the urge to cringe. “Sure! Let’s go with that. How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine,” said Harvest. “My head’s throbbing a bunch and I can’t move too fast or else I nearly throw up, but I’m fine. That doctor told me Gallus was alive?”

“He is,” said Silverstream. “Unfortunately.”

“What?” Harvest asked.

“Nothing,” Silverstream said. “Listen, it seems that the ship that you and Gallus were on was attacked by a deep sea monster of some sort. We’ve had a few kraken issues in these waters before, but nothing as disastrous as this. The rain’s cutting us off from our communications, so we can’t even ask about any other attacks that may have happened. You don’t know anything about what might have caused this, do you?”

Late Harvest shook her head. “Last thing I remember, Gallus left my room to check on what was happening on the deck and...then I was here. Are you okay, Captain? You look a little sick.”

Silverstream forced a laugh. “I’m fine, Miss Harvest. From what I understand, Gallus was fleeing Griffonstone. Were you there, also?”

“Yeah, but I can’t tell you about what happened that made Gallus grab me and leave,” said Harvest. “Honestly, that’s probably a bad thing, but I tend to prioritize my survival over asking questions. It seemed bad, so as far as I know, the less I know, the better.”

Say one more Gallus-like thing. I dare you. Silverstream smiled. “Well, I guess that’s the end of my questions for now. When Deadwater releases you, you’re free to make use of all of my ship’s amenities.”

“Thank you,” Harvest said, smiling back. “Is Gallus around, by the way? I’d like to talk to him. Ask him how he’s doing.”

“You think of him as a friend?” Silverstream asked.

“I’d like to think so.” Harvest shrugged. Her smile turned bashful. “We’re probably not as close as the two of you, though.”

Silverstream nodded. “Well, I’ll go and see if I can find him. Rest well, Miss Harvest.”

Harvest said something else, but Silverstream was barely listening.

She left the medical bay with hurried, anxious steps, and when she was outside of the room and by herself, surrounded by the beautiful light pink walls, trimmed with a metallic gold, Silverstream nearly collapsed.

Sorrow tore at her with sharp, iron hot claws. She wanted to fall to the floor, to press her forehead to it and let her tears come, but then she remembered the crew. They couldn’t see her like that.

There was a maintenance closet nearby. She stumbled to it and locked herself in with the darkness and the mops.

Her chest felt like it was going to collapse in on itself. She shut her eyes tight, struggling not to cry. The closet smelled like lime scented disinfectant and damp mushrooms.

When was the last time she and Gallus had spoken?

It had to have been at that dinner. What was it, three years ago, now?

The plan was simple. Get everycreature together and have dinner. One dinner, at a nice place in Canterlot that she would rent for the night.

The plan worked, surprisingly. Until the chef and server left and the wine was opened, and they were left alone, because that gave them the license to start speaking their minds.

And remembering the good times became remembering the bad, and passive-aggressiveness turned into insults, and insults turned into a brawl between Gallus and Smolder.

It was after Ocellus ran out of the place in tears. Gallus’s breathing had become pained, spiteful wheezing as he lay on that broken table. And Silverstream, at his side quicker than she could think, checked over his wounds as Sandbar awkwardly announced his intentions to go after Smolder.

Which left her and Yona to take care of Gallus.

Yona began to approach when Silverstream held a talon to the yak without looking.

“Go find Smolder with Sandbar. He’s gonna take too long.”

Yona tried to argue. “But Griffon—”

“Will be fine,” Silverstream told her, speaking slowly. “But Smolder might not be. He tore off a few of her neck scales so we have to find her fast.”

Yona tried to speak. Again, Silverstream interrupted. “Yona. Please leave.”

They locked eyes, and Silverstream summoned all the firmness she could muster to stay locked with Yona’s defiant stare. She didn’t need this right now. Finding Smolder was the most reasonable option and they needed to be reasonable right now. They didn’t need to be fighting. There had been enough of that for the night.

Yona wilted. She pulled her eyes away and slowly, so slowly, she lumbered out of the restaurant.

The front door closed, and then she was alone with Gallus, free to talk as she looked over his wounds.

His hind legs were singed. The burnt hair and flesh smelled absolutely disgusting, like roasted tuna that was freshly pissed on, but Silverstream didn’t let it show. Everything was sunshine and rainbows as far as she let onwas concerned. In terms of Gallus’s injuries she was most worried about the deep slashes on his chest, but as far as she could tell, those would be fine.

Gallus spat onto the floor. “What are you doing?”

“Checking to see if you’re in any danger,” she said, poking and prodding at his limp body.

“What’s the verdict?”

“You’re fine,” said Silverstream. “You didn’t have to make fun of Smolder and Ocellus like that.”

“I wasn’t making fun, I was pointing out the fact that they’re a mess and that everyone else can see it.”

“You...You don’t know that. And besides, even if it were true, you should be careful how you say things. You could really hurt somecreature. Well—I guess you did, already, but—”

“Don’t lecture me, professor.”

Silverstream clenched her teeth for a moment. Then she quietly spoke. “Are you feeling okay?”

“I’m fine,” said Gallus. “But I’m tired, Silly. I’m tired of hating everyone and everything I see. I yelled at some stallion asking Twilight for directions the other day. Like, full on yelled at him. My voice got hoarse. She’s worried about me. Asking me if I need a vacation or something. It’s really starting to get on my nerves.”

“That’s Headmare Twilight for you,” said Silverstream, looking out the window. In the distance she could see the shadows of a stallion and a yak running down the streets, no doubt calling out for Smolder.

“I’m leaving Canterlot,” said Gallus. “For good.”

Silverstream swallowed. “What do you mean?”

“I’m resigning.” Gallus reached up and rotated her chin back to look at him. “I’m kinda tired of fighting with everyone.”

“Then why do you do it?” Silverstream asked. “I don’t understand why you guys can’t be nice to each other. I just want a nice evening with my friends once in a while.”

“We’re not friends anymore,” said Gallus.

Silverstream shook her head. “There’s got to be a first aid kit somewhere.”

She left his side and scanned the empty restaurant for anything to help cover up Gallus’s wounds. She found a kit in the kitchen and returned to the dining room to find Gallus sitting up, licking himself.

“Stop that,” she said, and began to dress his wounds—bandaging his chest, pouring ointment on his legs, dabbing blood off of his beak and the top of his head.

“Ow,” Gallus whined as she worked, but made no move to stop her.

For a moment it was like they were comfortable with each other again.

“You know I love you,” said Silverstream. “We all do. You love us back. Please don’t leave us, Gallus. I don’t know what to say to make everything right, but if you can tell me, then please do. I don’t want to lose this.”

Gallus laughed. “Silverstream, you’re such a fucking idiot sometimes. You’ve already lost whatever ‘this’ is. We all stopped being friends the moment that Sandbar ran off to the Crystal Garbage Dump to work for that pretty pink royal excuse for a jizz rag.”

“That’s not tr—”

“Shut up. I’m not finished. You know why everything’s falling apart? It’s because our friendship was so weak, so petty, and so superficial that that pebble-brained mudpony was the only thing holding us together. And now he’s a total dick along with the rest of you. I don’t want to talk to any of you again.”

Silverstream pulled her talons away from Gallus as he turned to look out the window. Her heart was breaking.

She stayed quiet for a moment, passionately hoping that Gallus wouldn’t move. And he didn’t.

“...You don’t mean me, too, right?” she asked quietly. “You hate them. Not me, right?”

Gallus turned to look at her, and she suddenly felt like a chicken with three beaks.

“It’s always about you, isn’t it?” he jeered. “There’s not a single selfless bone in your body, is there? Little Miss Perfect Royal Niece. I’d honestly be tempted to call you the worst part about all of this if it weren’t for the dragon, the fruit fly and the clover addict."

He took a moment to collect himself. Then he leaned forward. "Do you want to know the truth, Silverstream?”

Silverstream shied away, but her body was weighed down by her fear. She could only move inches. Gallus followed.

“You’re just like me,” he growled. “There’s nothing in Equestria for you anymore and that’s good, because it’s better off without you. No one—not one creature—wants you here. You should just fly back to your cute little underwater mansion back in Mount Snobbery and stay there and live out the rest of your days getting fat on fresh salmon.”

Silverstream couldn’t breathe, like she was the one who had been in a fight. “M-My students—”

“I’ve seen your classes, stupid,” Gallus cut in. “The three of you make terrible professors. Let me dole out some truth to you again: you’re fucking up the future of friendship by pretending you know anything about it.”

Gallus stood up, and he turned towards the door and began to limp. He didn’t get far before Silverstream flew in front of him, an indignant desperation rising up inside of her. Her wings flared and she flapped them hard, stopping Gallus as he stilled his movement in her breeze.

“I was wrong!” Silverstream begged.

Gallus blinked. “About?”

“I was wrong...to blame you for my dad’s death, okay? I’m sorry! I’m sorry. Please, Gally, please just forgive me already. I shouldn’t have done that. I-I was a terrible friend. I’ve been a terrible friend. I’m sorry.”

Gallus was speechless for a moment. He looked shocked. Hurt. He looked like he was going to say something important, and then he smiled. The first time she’d seen him smile in ages.

“It’s too late,” he whispered. “Way too late for that. You think taking back one of the many mistakes you’ve made is enough? No, Silly. It won’t. And let me tell you one more thing.”

“No!” Silverstream barked. “If you’re just going to be mean, then don’t bother talking to me at all!”

She backpedaled, but her steps were clumsy, and she nearly tripped over herself in the process. She looked down as she got her bearings, only to look back up to see Gallus approaching her, and then she couldn’t move again. She could only watch as he stalked towards her, his anger thickening the air around them.

“You’re gonna like this one, I promise!” exclaimed Gallus, stopping and prodding her chest with a sharp talon. “One day, we’re gonna see each other again, and the only thing that we’re going to see in each other will be a stranger. And I, personally, from the bottom of my heart, want you to know that it’s going to be entirely your fault.”

Silverstream opened her eyes.

She needed a drink.

Silverstream punched the door open.

It swung hard and hit the wall, causing two light green hippogriffs walking down the hall to screech in fright. They whirled on her, ready to throw down, but upon recognizing her coat they scrambled against the wall and saluted.

“Captain!”

Silverstream smiled at them. “Sorry. Carry on.”

They did, and Silverstream was free to travel to the mess hall. Luckily enough, it was nearby.

She had designed it after the School of Friendship’s old cafeteria, complete with long tables made of magical weightless blue crystal and stores of peppers, cupcakes and hayburgers. There was other food and ingredients, of course, but those were her favorites, and she always made sure that her crew had plenty.

She opened the door to the cafeteria, keeping her head down until she reached the open kitchen where her chef, a light red hippogriff named Crosswind, sat on a rotating chair, spinning around boredly.

“Crossy,” Silverstream said loudly. “A bottle of rum, please. And fried eagle. Extra spicy.”

Crosswind nodded. “Aye-aye, Captain.”

“I’m surprised you drink now. You always hated the taste,” said Gallus from behind her.

Silverstream turned to find the griffon sitting at a table, a bottle of Lemon Drops’ Spiced Rum and two glasses in front of him. Both were filled, but before Silverstream could ask who the second drink belonged to, Gallus took both of them in his talons and knocked them both back, one after the other, barely showing a reaction either time.

He seemed so small now. So short and tiny. But as she looked at him there came an electric pulse running down her back that reminded her he was so much more than his size.

Silverstream walked to his table and sat across him. “Can I join?”

Gallus raised an eyebrow at her, but flicked one of the glasses to her side.

He poured each of them a drink.

“Your rum is garbage,” he said.

“I disagree,” Silverstream replied, taking another sip out of her drink.

“You not only drink now,” Gallus said, “but you’re good at it.”

“Is that a problem?” Silverstream asked.

Gallus snorted.

“I’m...I was glad to see that you were okay,” said Silverstream. Her body felt lighter than usual. “When Terramar came across the wreckage…For a second there I thought the amulet was leading me to your corpse.”

“If only,” he said. “But you’re wrong.”

“What?”

“You’re not seeing me okay,” Gallus said, finishing his drink.

“What?” Silverstream repeated. “What do you mean?”

Gallus didn’t reply. He poured himself some more rum.

“Are you trying to tell me that you’re not okay?” Silverstream asked.

There came a light breeze beside them, and they turned to find Crosswind with a platter of deep fried eagle wings slathered in hot sauce. He set the food down in front of Silverstream wordlessly, saluting before he flew back to the kitchen.

Silverstream picked up a leg, but her grip was too clumsy and she dropped it immediately. She shot Gallus an embarrassed smile and picked it up again. The leg was nearly half as big as her face, and she began tearing at the tender meat, enjoying the flavor of the spice and the mouth-watering texture of the crunchy skin as she ripped into it.

She was so hungry. It was like she had been starving herself for days on end. One eagle leg was quickly gnawed down to the bone, and she began eating a wing.

“Do you remember that last dinner?” she asked Gallus, pointedly looking down at the wing as she devoured it.

“Yep,” Gallus said.

“It was such a mess.”

“That’s an understatement,” Gallus said, chuckling.

Silverstream’s heart raced. “I think about that entire evening all of the time.”

“Are you drunk right now?” Gallus asked, gulping down another drink.

“I don’t know,” said Silverstream, lolling her head from left to right.

Gallus poured himself some more rum, and after a moment’s hesitation, poured her some too. She wiped her beak on her talons, and then wiped her talons on her chest before picking her glass up and taking a long drink, at the same time as he did.

They pulled away from their glasses, sighing, and slammed them on the table.

“I don’t wanna be here,” said Gallus.

“I’m sorry about Gabby and Gilda,” said Silverstream.

“Whatever,” Gallus muttered.

“It’s not ‘whatever’,” Silverstream asserted, leaning forward. She was swaying slightly. “You matter, Gallus. How you feel matters. It really does. It matters a lot.”

And then, unsure if she was doing it out of stupidity or recklessness or both, she reached forward and she took his talon in hers. He immediately tried to pull away, because of course he would, but her grip tightened and made him stay still.

Gallus looked at Silverstream. His eyes were as empty as they had been earlier, except for one thing—some kind of spark, she wasn’t sure how to describe it—that she couldn’t put a name to.

They didn’t speak for a moment. They simply sat there, holding each other’s talons as the delicious scent of eagle wings wafted by their nostrils.

Silverstream had an idea. She beamed. “You remember when I’d slip you my leftovers at lunch?”

“Yes,” Gallus mumbled.

She pushed the plate to his side of the table, two delectable pieces of meat still hot and ready to eat.

Gallus looked down at it, and the unnamable aspect to his gaze that Silverstream had seen not seconds before vanished when he blinked next.

His talon tore away from hers. Gallus took the plate and tossed it away.

Silverstream’s eyes watched the plate’s arc as it sailed through the air before it crashed into the ground. The shatter echoed through her mind.

They looked at each other again, but whatever miracle that had taken place in the previous seconds was lost, and before Silverstream could talk again, Gallus was leaving the cafeteria.

When Silverstream could no longer hear his steps trailing away from her, she closed her eyes. She didn’t cry, for Crosswind was in the kitchen, and would hear her, but she wanted to.