Billy Jo woke up from an uncomfortable sleep, his shoulder throbbing with a dull ache, to find Donovan sitting next to his sickbed in one of the chairs he'd built.
The expression on the pilot's face reminded him of his mother's look whenever he'd get home after one of his escapades, sometimes under police escort. He could almost hear her voice even now. "What have you got to say for yourself, Billy Jo?"
Why was everyone giving him that look? He hadn’t done anything wrong. “We were just out hunting Raptors. We didn’t know they were going to ambush us like that.”
Donovan simply continued looking at him mutely, his expression unwavering. Once he established that Billy Jo just wasn't getting it, he sighed and brought up two fingers.
"There are two things wrong with what you just said," he said, in a level voice. He ticked off one finger. "According to the Hunting People I've talked to, you don't hunt Raptors. They don't provide any worthwhile meat and are very dangerous," the second finger went down, "especially since they have a penchant for ambushing prey."
The look on the pilot's face didn't change, but emotion crept into his words. "The only reason I'm willing to cut you some slack is that Harfreder admitted it had been her idea in the first place. The rest of the village is pretty damn pissed at her for trying such a stupid stunt, but no one blames her as much as herself."
His face softened, just a bit. "She's pretty much put herself under the equivalent of house arrest. She won't come out of her bunk or see anyone. The only reason she was willing to talk to me is because she wanted to know how you were."
The hardness was back, in look as well as voice. "Look, I realize you're the kind of guy who pulls stupid shit as a matter of routine. And I'm not your goddamn father to tell you to knock it off. But right now, you've barely survived being a dinosaur's chew toy and there's a young girl out there crying her heart out and thinking her life is over because of it. Think of that next time you want to act like a jackass!" This was the first time Billy Jo had heard Donovan swear since they had arrived in this world.
Donovan stood up and said coldly before turning to leave, "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to tell Cyan you're awake so she can change your bandage."
That was harsh, thought Billy Jo. It also hurt because it was all true.
He knew it would be dangerous when Harfreder had said they were going Raptor hunting, but he'd just thought it would be fun at the time. He hadn’t expected to get hurt and it could have been much worse; Harfreder could have gotten hurt or even killed. He had been injured many times pulling stupid crap like this, but he’d never put anyone one else in danger.
He realized now what had been happening. The hunts with Harfreder had been more and more dangerous. Each success had spurred her to take greater and greater risks. She'd been counting on him to bail her out if anything went wrong. It was foolish; he was just a construction worker, not some big game hunter. He’d gotten lucky a few times, but he’d pushed his luck too far and it had run out.
He needed to talk to Harfreder; he couldn't stand thinking of her blaming herself. He felt the stiffness and dull ache from the wounds in his arm and chest as he got up. It didn’t feel that bad now, but it itched like crazy. That was strange. He knew from experience that it usually took days to get to that point in the healing process and it had only happened yesterday. He left the makeshift infirmary heading towards Harfreder’s place.
The moment he stepped out of the door, Billy Jo heard a familiar voice. "And where do you thing you're going?"
Donovan straightened up from where he'd been leaning against the wall, obviously waiting for Billy Jo to appear. His face was still set, but there was no sign of hostility in his pose.
“I have to talk to Harfreder. I can’t let her take all the blame; it’s just as much my fault as it is hers.” He wasn’t sure if Donovan was going to try to stop him or not; he might sic Cyan or Mother Gytha on him.
He pleaded, “I can’t let her suffer. I just need to talk to her real quick and I’ll come right back.”
Donovan scrutinized Billy Jo's face, an eyebrow arched. Billy Jo felt the pressure of the cool appraisal and swallowed.
After an eternity of seconds, Donovan nodded, "Go on. Try to not get eaten by a T. Rex along the way," he said with a slight smile.
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