Minds as Cold as Ice

Author's note: The fourth (#4) entry in Jihli and Jahy's stories. If you're not up to date, you may choose to start from the beginning at #1 Welcome Home, Jihli or return to the previous post, #3 Chilling Out.

After you're done reading, you may advance to the next post, #5 Thawing Warmth. That post takes place after the level 83 quest "In from the Cold", so don't move on unless you're at least that far.

Warning: This post contains major Endwalker spoilers up to the point of completing the level 83 quest "No Good Deed". If you aren't comfortable with seeing such spoilers, then you should leave this post now.

Ready?

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Here comes the story...

And with it the spoilers...

Okay, that's enough stalling. Let's go.

Jihli huddles near one of the ceruleum warmers in the trains, arms wrapped tightly around herself. What little heat it once gave off has all but dissipated, and now it's just as cold as the surrounding station.

Beside her, Jahy is leaning against the wall. As usual, calm and cool and collected. Everything Jihli wishes she was. "It's no use. The ceruleum's gone. And it seems our captors have no interest in getting the train cars' heaters back to running."

"I failed them."

Jahy tips her head, one of her long rabbit-like ears twitching thoughtfully. "Failed who?"

"Everyone. Alphinaud and Alisaie. Licinia and her little sister. You." Jihli tugs at the collar around her neck, getting a mild shock as it discourages her from poking too much. "I shouldn't have let them put this on me. On them."

"And what would you - could you have done?" Jahy asks softly. She kneels, placing an arm around Jihli's shoulders. "Fighting would have been suicide. For all of us. We were far outnumbered. We have to wait, and... have faith. Our captors do not want to harm us. That's a good thing. The same is true of the twins."

Jihli's heart sags. Jahy's always so comforting. She feels so weak-willed. "I don't want to lose Alphinaud, the one person able to give me a run for my money at board games. He's so bright, and so young. They should have taken me instead. And I don't- I don't want my last words to Alisaie being teasing her about being an idiot for going in the pond!"

"You said the same thing to me," Jahy says simply. "I wasn't hurt. I knew you were having fun. So did she."

"But what if she didn't?" Jihli whispers. "What if we find her and Alphinaud the same way we found Licinia and her little sister, and she thinks I think her a fool right up until she's a crumpled body atop a bloody smear on the ground?"

Jahy takes Jihli's hand, pulling her upright and wrapping her in a hug. "We can't worry about that right now. Right now we worry about us. And we trust."

"Trust what? Trust who? The people holding us prisoner, using us as a bargaining chip?" Jihli feels her tears turn ice-cold as soon as they form, and wipes them away with an equally cold sleeve.

"Just have faith," Jahy murmurs. She doesn't stop holding Jihli, her arms a buffer against the harshness of reality. "Do you trust me?"

Jihli takes a moment to swallow back a lump in her throat. "More than anyone in the whole world."

"Then believe me when I say it will be all right. This will not be the last time you see Alphinaud and Alisaie. I would not have let them go off to their deaths. I promise you. When have I ever made you a promise and not kept it?"

Jahy speaks with such conviction, such certainty. And she's right - she's never once broken a promise in all the time Jihli has known her.

Jihli's body sags weakly against Jahy's, and she blinks back more of the tears that seem to endlessly fill her eyes. "I still wish they weren't in danger."

"I do too. But they're old enough to know what they're signing up for, and to be ready to take the risks." Jahy tilts Jihli's chin up. "And to be able to take care of themselves. Put your trust in them, too."

A long moment of silence passes, but at last Jihli nods her assent. "O... Okay."

"Thanks for being here with me." A smile warms Jahy's face - and it must be contagious, because Jihli soon finds it spreading onto her own. "It would have been super boring waiting for the Imperials to decide what they're doing with us if you weren't here with me."

Jihli barks a laugh, shaking her head. "Well, glad I can protect you from boredom, at least. And..." She hesitates, working up the courage. "...thanks. For being here with me, too. I don't know what I'd do without you."

"I don't think you have to worry about doing things without me for a long, long time," Jahy says, laughing. She stops when she notices the sound of footsteps approaching from one of the other cars. "Ooh, sounds like our hosts are coming back. Think they've got good news?"

"I doubt it," Jihli says. She grins. "It'll be alright, though."

"Now you're getting it!" Jahy steps out of the car to greet Jullus. "Come on, let's go see what exciting new menial task they have for us heroes of Eorzea now."

Jihli follows, her heart strong and resolute once again. So long as Jahy is by her side, she can do anything. She's sure of it.

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