Haemish was fuming, and Aarav could only sympathise with both parties. He switched his eyes from Boren to Haemish and back. Aarav had prompted Boren to confess his testing and work to Haemish. Honestly, the reaction he had been expecting was about ten per cent of what he was seeing right now. This guy is scary! Aarav thought.
All of Haemish’s anger was directed at the boy in front of him, his face was purple, and he honestly looked like he was in danger of exploding. “Haemish, take a few breaths and calm down! You’re scaring the boy!” Aarav’s voice finally cut through Haemish’s thoughts, and he took several calming breaths. Boren continued to cower on the sofa on the other side of the table, completely frozen like a deer caught in headlights. Aarav was half expecting him to bolt for the door any second.
After about five minutes of breathing like a winded rhinoceros, then another ten minutes of calmer breathing, Haemish was settled. Boren was unsure what to do with himself but being scared for over twenty minutes took a lot of energy. Now he sat on the sofa, looking nervous and exhausted.
“Prince Boren, I hope you understand how dangerous and reckless your actions were. I believe your mother thinks a neighbouring nation poisoned you and has feelers out trying to find out who is responsible. It might be enough to start a war. In addition, putting your own life in danger for the sake of experimentation is not the responsible thing to do. You can test these concoctions in much safer ways than on yourself. Especially with the type of violent reactions they can cause. Look what happened to my hope after I took every precaution!”
Oh, now his reaction makes sense. Honestly, I feel like knowing what had happened with Haemish’s lab should have made me a little angrier with Boren’s carelessness. But that was the difference between hearing about a catastrophe and experiencing it. Ask the people that survived Chernobyl.
“Haemish, I know what he did was dangerous, but he is a child. Cut him some slack.” Aarav said, coming to the boy’s defence. He was the one that had told Boren to say something in the first place. Now hopefully, they could get past this and make some real progress. “Anyway, besides being super angry, wasn’t there something else you wanted to say?”
Haemish huffed and begrudgingly said. “Apart from doing some extremely questionable things and taking no precautions whatsoever, you have done something extremely admirable, and I would like it….” Haemish took a deep breath as if the following words pained him greatly to say. “I think it would be great for us to work together on it in the lab. Would you like that?”
Boren squeaked. I can’ believe he actually squeaked. After the tirade, Haemish had unleashed on him, Boren’s expectations had plummeted by the second. So getting an invitation to work with Haemish was far more than he had expected. “Yes! Yes, please, Mr Haemish! Thank you! Shall I bring my equipment now? Or maybe take it straight to the lab or….” Haemish let him keep going for another minute before he ran out of steam, and Haemish raised a calming hand to him.
“It is excellent that you are excited to begin the process; however, everything will be taken care of tomorrow. You can explain more about your process and what you have been doing to get to this point. You may have unexpectedly achieved one of the goals I have been working towards. I look forward to us pooling our efforts and getting faster results. How there will be no more unauthorised experiments. That is my condition. Mark my words now, Boren; this is very important! If I ever catch you doing anything that I believe is a risk to your life, I will immediately ban you from the lab! Is that understood?”
“I understand, Mr Haemish! I agree. I won’t do anything that will risk my life! I promise!” Boren fidgeted a little, not sure what came next. “Umm, so, should I go now? Or….”
“Master, it is late. Perhaps we should call it a day and start fresh in the morning?” Aarav asked, a yawn forming in his mouth even though he didn’t need air, a reflex perhaps? Aarav had yet to truly understand this body and what its limits were.
Haemish and Boren both nodded, and Aarav moved to leave when Boren rushed out after him calling out. “Wait, where are you going?”
“To my room, of course. Where else would I go?” Aarav asked in confusion. “it is time to sleep, Boren.” Boren rolled his eyes at Aarav’s response.
“No need to go all the way there; just sleep in the room next to mine! It’s empty, and no one ever uses it. Plus, it would be nice to have a friend around.” Boren’s face betrayed his vulnerability, and he was scared that Aarav would reject his request.
Aww, come on, kid. If you’re going to behave like that, it makes it very hard to just go to my own room, doesn’t it? Even if my room was super comfortable, which it isn’t, I would be hard-pressed to say no. It was blackmail of a different kind, the type only children could achieve with adults. Irrespective of the circumstance, Aarav was ready to use the spare room in Boren’s quarters. They looked so much more comfortable than the room he had now, with its drafts and hard bed. Not that any of those factors mattered to him anymore, but why not?
“Are you sure about this, Boren? You don’t need to check with your parents or anyone else in the palace before deciding this?” Boren’s face seemed to fall, mistaking Aarav's response as a no. Aarav kept speaking as if he had not reacted at all. “If I sleep in a bed like that one, I won’t want to return to my previous accommodations, you know?”
Boren’s grin could have put the sun to shame. Feeling clear about the new sleeping arrangements, both boys quickly returned to Boren’s rooms and prepared for bed. Instead, Boren prepared for bed while Aarav just got into the bed he was assigned and collapsed onto the bed, shedding his fairy form and becoming a Slime once more.
Things had become more manageable since he had left his human body behind. The system had help as well, of course. But not needing to brush or use the bathroom or shower saved an incredible amount of time. Really why would anyone want to be human if they didn’t have to? It was easier to be in his Slime form. While it did not take much to keep his fairy form, it did require a small amount of concentration. Aarav suspected it was either because his tier was too low or his stats were too low. Not because it was just a complicated form to maintain. As he grew stronger, that strain on his mind would become less substantial, and he could retain it indefinitely.
“Aarav, I am glad that you decided to stay here.” Boren's voice came to him through the quiet and dark doorway, and he couldn’t make out the boy’s features. Was that a tremor in his voice? Aarav thought he had detected it, but it had to be a mistake. Who would get so emotional about something like sleeping in the room next door?
“Not a problem, Boren. Hope you’re not planning to kick me out when I get too annoying!” Aarav had to work a little to get the laugh out, but not as much as he expected. The situation felt unexpectedly awkward for some reason. Aarav prided himself on not allowing anything to make him feel uncomfortable. Still, this level of appreciation was too much for him, and he needed to defuse it quickly. “Anyway, you know I will be pestering you for more of those potions when we get them to work. I am super weak and have a lot of catching up to do with the rest of you all!”
Boren stood at the door for a few seconds, not saying anything. Aarav was about to fill that silence when the Prince spoke. “No way! I put in the work then I get the first taste! Even if you are weak now, we both know you have a lot of tricks up your proverbial sleeves to get more power.” Then there was a flash of teeth as he smiled, and this time it wasn’t awkward in the slightest.
“Well, anyway, goodnight, Aarav! See you tomorrow!”
“I look forward to it, Boren. See you tomorrow morning!” Boren lingered a little longer than necessary but eventually quietly walked out, closing the door behind him. Before Aarav even realised he was out and dreaming.