23. A Poor Reassurance
Ryan kept his head lowered, he wouldn’t look at me.
“Ryan, I don’t find you annoying, so let me see your eyes and tell me everything.”
I took his face between my hands and forcibly stared into his eyes.
When his distracted gaze settled on me, I felt that a bit of light had returned to his hollow stare.
I was suddenly embraced by him. It was suffocating.
His body was trembling.
I just hugged him silently and gently caressed his head which was covered by a towel.
We held each other for a while as I waited for Ryan to settle down.
After about five minutes, his trembling stopped and his arms relaxed.
As our bodies separated, Ryan laughed again with an apologetic look.
“I’m sorry, because of me, you got drenched.”
“I don’t care about that. Also, don’t force yourself to laugh.”
“…I’m sorry. I will return some other time.”
Perhaps due to my blunt words, he thought that I was angry. As Ryan, with a depressed expression, tried to leave—I grabbed his hand.
While holding his hand tightly, I flipped the store’s sign to ‘CLOSED’. Afterwards, I closed both the door and the curtain.
I pulled Ryan’s hand and took him to the back of the store.
I had Ryan, who was confused, sit the sofa reserved for dedicated guests. Then, I sat down beside him.
“…Tell me everything.”
I held his hand and stared into his eyes.
I knew that as a mere clerk, I was being nosy.
I also wasn’t in the position to inquire that of him.
However, I didn’t care about any of that at the moment.
I just wanted to get rid of anything that hurt Ryan.
“…One of my subordinates was gravely injured.”
“He hasn’t regained his consciousness for three days.”
“It’s because I let my guard down. I thought that we were doing fine. But amongst the opponents, there was a person who could use magic. They had set up a trap, and a large-scale spell was detonated.”
Ryan began to speak bluntly.
His emotionless words were flat and sounded cold. I couldn’t believe they were being spoken by Ryan.
“I thought that I was on high alert, but I actually wasn’t. I didn’t anticipate that at all. Even though it should have been my responsibility…”
…He had been blaming himself the whole time.
Under his expressionless façade, he was actually suffering.
“It’s not your fault.”
I reached my arms and encircled them around his neck.
Just like that, I gently reached the back of his head and pulled him into a hug.
Without resistance, Ryan leaned into my neck.
“You did everything you could.”
Words like that—Ryan might not welcome them.
Still, I couldn’t help but said it.
Ryan had fulfilled his duties.
He blamed himself for failing to foresee the attack. Regardless, knowing Ryan, he must had done his best.
If he still failed to protect somebody afterwards—then that had to be fate.
As I slowly caressed his head, I spoke some irresponsible words.
“I’m sure he’ll be alright. It’s okay, he’ll definitely recover.”
There was no way I could guarantee that.
I was aware of that, but still continued.
May Ryan’s heart be lightened as much as possible.
May he not blame himself anymore.
Even if that person didn’t survive in the end.
I had said something that may as well gave him false hope. However, I could perhaps avoid blame by claiming I was merely saying what felt right at the moment.
“Thank you, Flores…”
Ryan wrapped his arms around my back.
He shouldn’t have been comforted just by that.
Still, I hugged his freezing body so that it’d warm up as much as possible.
My shoulders became wet—probably not just due to the rain.
***T/N: RYAN’S CRRYINGGGG, OMG BRING A TRUCKLOAD OF SWEETS OUR PRINCE CHARMING NEEDS IT!1111
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