"Sophia, are you all right?"

Sophia's head snapped up toward the door, toward Adela. "I'm fine. Why?"

"You sounded angry, is all," Adela said. She hesitated in the doorway. "... If there's really nothing..."

"Sorry. I didn't think you would be able to hear me," Sophia muttered. "I'm just upset because I'm having trouble lighting the Pax for tonight." She gestured to the lit incense burning in the dish beside her. "But I made it work."

"Yeah?" Adela settled down on the bed beside Sophia. "How have you been feeling?"

"Fine. I just can't seem to concentrate on spelling since we left Moarili. Something about the change in atmospheres, I think," Sophia said. She forced a smile. "Not used to recycled ship air anymore."

"Hah, yeah," Adela said. Her smile was more genuine. Add smiling to the list of things Sophia was struggling with. "So, how's your arm?"

"My arm? It's fine," Sophia said, lifting it off the bed and dropping it to demonstrate. "No problems. Why?"

"Just... just humor me, okay? You're using Pax again, and... are those blood magic marks on your fingertips?"

Sophia pulled her arm into its sleeve, but it was too late. Adela wasn't going to let it drop that easily. "... Yeah. I'm struggling to concentrate, so I just decided to make my task easier with a little extra energy. It's not a big deal. I already stopped."

"And your arm is numb? Sophia-"

Sophia pulled away from Adela. "My arm's not numb. It's fine."

"You didn't react to me pinching it." Adela's eyebrows were lowered. "Sophia..."

Sophia looked down. Adela's fingertips were right by her forearm.

"Alright, I guess it has lost some feeling," Sophia said. How long had she not been feeling anything in her arm? Her mind was blank.

Adela's hand moved around her waist. "I heard you single-handedly held off a Class 2 Dark Metamorph until backup could arrive."

"Mm." Sophia was barely listening. She flexed her fingers. Shouldn't it feel like something?

"And that was after you single-handedly built a lineal field that held off an army of Class 4 Destructive Phantoms, wasn't it?" Adela threaded her fingers into Sophia's, lifting their linked hands up closer. "So... is this the single hand that did it all?"

"It wasn't that big of a deal," Sophia said. She turned away. She was beginning to feel Adela's fingers... and something else, too. "Ren was the one actually fighting the Metamorph. And the Phantoms. I was just support. You should go celebrate Ren. I couldn't even see what we were fighting, so..."

"I have celebrated Ren. And more importantly, I have tended to Ren." Adela's fingers squeezed around her own. "Now it's your turn. Just because you weren't under attack, just because you weren't in danger, doesn't mean you couldn't get hurt. Doesn't mean you couldn't strain yourself."

"A-aahh..." A deep ache was beginning to spread from Sophia's hand down her arm. "Adela... It hurts..."

"Yes. You used far more of your own stream than is safe, all in one night. And since then, you have not let me take care of you." Adela's fingers remained entwined with Sophia's, and her voice remained calm. "Now it's numb, and it's going to hurt a lot as it comes back."

"Nnggghh...!" Sophia was beyond words. Her fingernails dug into the back of Adela's hand as her fingers curled in agony. "A... Aannggh..."

"You did what you believed was right. And whatever you say about the level of support you gave, or the level of threat that was present, Ren is still with us today, and the Wraiths are still back on Moarili. It will take them quite some time to catch up, and that will give us time to be ready for them next time." Adela didn't flinch. "You played a role in that. Ren didn't have to fight alone because you were there fighting too."

Sophia breathed shallowly through her teeth to try to control the pain. "I... I'm sorry..."

"You should be. If you had gone to me instead of using blood magic to try to power through..." Adela smiled wryly. "It's okay, Sophia. No permanent damage was done. Just be careful, okay? You're an important member of the Wraithdusters, too."

The searing agony was already beginning to subside, but with the relief came tears. "I... I just couldn't stand to lose them. Ren, I mean. The chance that the Wraiths could... have killed them..." Sophia's voice wavered unsteadily. "I kept thinking... what if I missed the Metamorph and hit Ren... what if I trapped Ren in there with the Metamorph... what if I wasn't strong enough to..."

"It was a frightening situation. Ren can handle themselves, but we all need support now and then," Adela said, not making any move to wipe up the oozing blood dripping down from the nail marks. "I'm glad you were there to be that support. Even Ren would be in real trouble taking on a Class 2 alone."

The ache had become a tingling mess of sensation. Painful, but mildly so, the television static of bashing one's elbow into a table. "... Thanks, Adela..."

"It's going to take a while to get it back to normal condition, but I think your body can take it from here," Adela murmured, taking a handful of blue-green hexagonal chips from her pocket. "Here. Put one under your tongue if the pain gets to be too much. Don't let me catch you using blood magic again, okay?"

"... Yeah..."

"Rest well, Sophie. Love you." Adela stood, making her way to the door and closing it most of the way. "I'm right next door."

Sophia swallowed hard and fell back on her bed, nodding mutely at Adela.