[This post is from Matt’s point of view.]
“Don’t do it.”
Matt flinched, glancing back toward the sound of Phelan’s voice. “Don’t do what?”
“Whatever it is that you’re thinking about doing.” Phelan shoved his hands deep into his pockets as he came abreast of his friend, watching him with a steady, appraising gaze. “And before you tell me that you weren’t think about doing anything stupidly dangerous, remember that you’re talking to the king of stupidly dangerous and I know that look when I see it. So whatever it is you’re thinking of doing, don’t do it.”
For a split second, he actually considered lying—denying that he’d been thinking about going alone and—
–and what? Negotiating? Trying to sneak past all the pickets and sentries that were sure to be set on Orcus’s camp and try to single-handedly kill something big and ugly?
Phelan clapped him on the shoulder, his fingers flexing to squeeze it gently, but firmly. “It’s usually not worth it.”
“Yeah,” Matt murmured, staring out over the field for a few seconds longer. “Doesn’t make it easier, though. Overcoming the desire to try to handle shit yourself without endangering anyone else.”
“That’s a given,” Phelan said, then smiled wryly. “I feel you there, too, but you know that as well as anyone.” He squeezed Matt’s shoulder again. “We’ll get through. Come on. They’re waiting.”
“Who is?” Matt asked.
“Pretty much everyone,” Phelan said. “Come on. We’ve got work to do.”
Matt cast a last lingering glance out over the field, then nodded, turning. “Okay. Has anyone started talking?”
“Not really,” Phelan said. “But they will. Coffee’s hot. Hopefully we’ll have hammered something out by sunrise.”
“If we do, we’ll probably be on horseback by noon.”
Phelan smiled wryly. “It wouldn’t surprise me at all if we weren’t picking a fight by nightfall.”
Maybe we will be, Matt thought. Maybe we will be.