Ira performed a Spatial Leap and landed in front of his house instead inside to avoid damaging anything in it. Just as he was about to open the door he turned to see consecutive strikes of lightning raining down followed by heavy thunderclaps. Without a word, Ira vanished from where he stood and moved toward it. It was obvious that Rhys was the one creating the lightning, so his first thought was that she was in a fight.
Ira appeared in the air above where the lightning continually struck to see a burning building in shambles and people nearby running away. He let himself fall through the curtain of lightning while searching for Rhys. Needless to say, he was struck a few times but continued on as if nothing had happened.
Ira found her pretty easily, the area around her was mostly ash as the lightning had burned everything it touched. Sparks continued to emerge from Rhys’ skin, even so, Ira lifted her up and began to move her. He was about to move when he noticed her mask and picked it up before finally disappearing from sight with Rhys in hand.
Ira reappeared somewhere in the Great Forest and as soon as he touched the ground he was struck by lightning. He covered Rhys’ ears as quickly as he could before the impending sound of thunder arrived.
“Fuck! That’s loud.” Due to Ira’s senses, his hearing was at an incredibly high level which meant he wouldn’t be spared from loud sounds. Ira’s ears bled as lightning struck him continuously, burning through his shirt and skin, though his regeneration quickly repaired the latter.
Ira stopped wasting time and nullified the torrent of lightning until it had slowly stopped. After the last bolt struck all Ira was faced with was the sound of Rhys breathing heavily.
“This was a new shirt, you know.” Ira sighed as he removed his shirt that was nothing more than threads at that point. He sniffed the air and moved toward the closest source of water and after several jumps he arrived at the edge of a lake.
He placed Rhys down softly before moving toward the water’s edge and gathering a handful of water.
“Wake up,” Ira slowly poured water on Rhy’s forehead before wiping away the grey ash that gathered.
Rhys’ brows wrinkled as she slowly came to, she opened her mouth to speak but realized she was no longer in that place with Gicae.
Still, Ira could see that she mouthed his name and smiled, “Who else would it be?”
Rhys slowly sat up and evaluated her surroundings, her first response was to look for her notepad, but it was missing. She recalled what happened and touched her face only to notice her mask was gone.
“I’m holding onto it for you,” Ira eased her worries before continuing, “Hold on.” He stood up and ran off before returning with a large boulder that he tossed into the middle of the lake.
Rhys used her finger to write a message in the soil, [I have questions]
Ira knelt down to read her crudely made writing, but understood the gist of it, “Let me guess, what are you doing here? What happened to you? Why did I move that boulder?How did we get here? Did you kill anyone?”
Rhys nodded as he correctly guessed a few of the questions she had.
“I should be asking you what happened, Rhys.” Ira narrowed his eyes as he searched her expression. Her face darkened which told him she didn’t want to speak about it.
“Yeah? Just tell me whenever you want. I have things I don’t like talking about either, so I don’t blame you.” Ira looked off toward the lake before shaking his head and laughing.
For a brief moment, Rhys thought she saw something in Ira’s empty gaze that was far from his usual self.
“Come on, you gotta wash all the dirt off,” Ira tapped Rhys on the shoulder before pointing to the lake.
Rhys looked surprised at his request, but Ira explained to prevent any misunderstandings.
“The boulder is for privacy,” He added before teleporting to the top of the boulder, “Sorry but you’re known to stare at others while they bathe.” Ira hugged himself as if to ward off her perversions. Before Rhys could respond, he removed his boots and jumped behind the boulder where he presumably removed his pants as well.
“Good thing it's not deep because I can’t actually swim. It's my greatest weakness...After ancient magic...and curses...and loud trumpets,” Ira spoke from behind the rock.
Rhys shook her head with a smile before she removed her damaged clothes and entered the water.
“So, to answer some of your questions. I noticed all of that lightning and thought you were fighting so I came to help–Oh, your house is completely destroyed by the way. If you’re wondering how we got here, I can teleport over large distances with other people. You didn't kill anyone with your lightning if that was a concern of yours. I just told you why I put the boulder here and I’m guessing you already know what happened to cause that whole mess. Did that sum of everything for you?”
Rhys nodded which was indicated by the sound of water shifting.
“Alright, we got everything sorted out except for a few important details, but who cares, right?” Ira went underwater for a few seconds before resurfacing.
“Oh yeah, I meant to tell you that I’ll help you with all of that stuff you wrote in the letter, I just need to go to the Underground City first,” Ira gulped a mouthful of water before spitting it out.
Rhys showed curiosity at his statement as if reading her mind he spoke up, “I need to get a birth companion for Avery...Ah, I don’t think I told you but I’m going to be a Dad.”
Rhys felt like her entire world had cracked as Ira finished speaking.
“I was surprised too.” Ira misinterpreted her jolt as being shocked by the news for what could be described their first miscommunication.
Rhys couldn’t do anything to correct him as it would be similar to saying she wasn’t happy about the news. She wasn’t upset about hearing that he was having a child, but the fact that it felt like he would slip away from that point and she couldn’t do anything about it.
For a while, it was silent between the two of them which allowed Ira to listen in on Rhys’ heartbeat and breathing. He found that there was an irregularity in both of them but assumed it was due to the earlier incident.
“Are you done?” Ira asked as he finally stood up.
Rhys nodded absentmindedly as she also rose from the water.
“You need clothes, right? Give me a second,” Ira disappeared from the lake.
At his home, Ira reappeared in his room with a loud sound that shook the walls. He quickly opened his closet and grabbed a handful of clothes before he teleported away.
“Ira!” Harper swung open the door to see nothing but droplets of water on the floor and Ira’s clothes thrown about.
“Iraaaa…” Harper dropped her shoulders as she grumbled.
Ira once again appeared behind the boulder and landed with a slight splash, “Catch.” He tossed the clothes over the rock which were caught by Rhys before they could get wet.
Rhys carried the clothes over to the dry grass and dressed in the clothes provided, while Ira waited an adequate amount of time before reappearing fully dressed. It was a little odd when one considering Ira’s nature, but he was well-mannered during the whole situation. He didn’t show any mischievousness except for his reference to what happened during the Summit. If someone who didn’t really know Ira were to see the events that unfolded, they might have mistaken him for an incredibly gentlemanly individual.
The two were wearing similar outfits it was just that Rhys’ clothes didn’t fit quite right. Her black shirt and pants were obviously too baggy, but she didn’t seem to be in the mood to pay much attention to them.
“Once I finish up in the Underground City, I’ll help you out...Since you don’t have a house anymore just stop by mine to let me know where you’re staying, I live right across from the Bluebird. If I’m not there, look for Samantha at the Mercenaries Union and leave a message for me,” Ira stretched. He noticed Rhys had a distant look of melancholy that was barely hidden by the damp hair clinging to her forehead.
Ira continued to look at Rhys who was inwardly struggling with something, but his gaze trailed over the parallel lightning-shaped scars that trailed the sides of her face and further downward. He waved his hand and produced her mask which he toyed with for a few moments before handing over.
“I like your scars, Rhys,” Ira said as he placed the mask in her hands.
Rhys couldn’t help but to look up and search his face for signs of falsity. She assumed that he was joking, but it was clear he was being sincere.
“You gotta worry about the ones you can’t see,” Ira smiled mysteriously as he poked her forehead, “Well, let’s head back.”
Rhys stared at her mask for a long while before she suddenly hugged Ira.
“Woah,” Ira raised his hands in surprise but laughed, “You don’t need to hold on to me to teleport…” He stopped laughing when he noticed that Rhys’ shoulders were quivering and his shirt was being soaked.
Ira’s expression turned into a complicated smile, as he hugged Rhys. There was no way that Ira was stupid enough to miss some obvious signs of affection, but it could be said that Amy acted the same way. She grew embarrassed when Ira held her metal hand to examine it when it was occupied by the Demon, but that was due to her inexperience with males. Ira would always remain as her benefactor and an ongoing inspiration for her to grow.
As for Rhys? She told him where they stood herself, so it was obvious that he would assume any gesture she made stemmed from him being her only friend.
“...Are you scared of being alone, Rhys?” Ira asked as she continued to silently sob into his chest. She clutched his shirt tightly as if answering him. Ira could definitely understand her since he spent a significant portion of his life in the Void. That’s why he always seemed friendly and was willing to do so much for the people that were close to him, but it also contributed to his inability to care about people he wasn’t close to.
“I get it, but we’re friends so don’t worry so much,” Ira smiled cheerfully.
Rhys looked up at him with tear-stained eyes and thought that his smile was the brightest thing she had ever seen. Her fears and worries were suppressed and she felt that if she died in that moment she wouldn’t regret it. It was then Rhys understood that she really loved Ira. It didn’t matter if certain people saw him as a monster because she felt that there was some type of pure-heartedness in his actions that couldn’t be faked.
Eventually, they separated and Ira spoke, “Come on, you can have dinner with me, Harper, Amy, and Aldis before you go.”
Rhys contemplated telling Ira about Gicae, but she was worried about causing trouble for him so she decided to put it off until a later time. If his reaction to her losing control of her ability was anything to go off of, then saying that Ira would be upset with Gicae would be more than an incredibly massive understatement.
Rhys gave a nod to Ira to show her agreement before putting on her mask.
Ira laughed in response since he could tell her mood improved by the smile he could hear forming underneath her mask.
Ira opened the door to his house and was instantly grabbed by Harper.
“Stop running, Ira!” Harper clung to his neck before she began to sniff him, “Who is that?”
She looked at Rhys with curious eyes which caused Rhys to shy away as if she had done something embarrassing.
“This is Rhys,” Ira answered as he lightly pinched her cheek.
“Ira...Oh…” Aldis had come to greet Ira but was taken off guard by the presence of Rhys who was clearly wearing Ira’s clothes. They both had wet hair which only added to the oddness of the situation.
“Is that Ira?” Amy had followed behind Aldis and showed an equally perplexed expression.
They began to form a certain thought as to what might’ve taken place between the two, but it quickly dissolved. Ira didn’t have a lascivious nature or else they would’ve known. Then there was the fact that Ira was incredibly devoted to Avery. It was more likely that the two had a sparring session or perhaps encountered a monster that would’ve warranted a wardrobe change.
Ira showed no reaction to the ever-evolving expressions and spoke, “This is Rhys, she’s having dinner with us.”
“Rhys?!” Amy gave another look toward Rhys with a gaze of admiration. Since she was a Mercenary she had obviously heard of Rhys. Even Aldis was impressed since she was the strongest Mercenary before Ira appeared.
“I’ve heard a lot about you,” Amy reached out to shake her hand to which Rhys obliged.
“She can’t speak...Come to think of it, don’t you have a notepad, Harper?” Ira asked.
Harper shook her head reluctantly, “No!”
“Just let her use it for today, her house kind of burned down.” Ira placed Harper onto the ground.
“...Just for today,” Harper grumbled as she ran upstairs to retrieve it.
As Rhys watched Ira interact with everyone, she felt that she was correct and that Ira couldn’t be the person Gicae described.