It was the exact email Jay was hoping he wouldn't receive.
Urgently, he typed away while doing his very best to ignore the throbbing pain in his leg. What was worse than arguing with his bosses in person was arguing with them through email, and the only thing worse than either of those would be to do one or the other while in pain. However, the result would be absolutely catastrophic if he didn't protest immediately, and so he did his best to do precisely that.
This was going to take weeks to sort out.
A gentle knock at the door broke the tension in the room.
"It's open," Jay mumbled, his pale eyes never leaving the screen.
Cautiously, a decidedly non-human being peeked his head through the door.
"Hey, uh... Jay, can I talk to you?" Leon asked.
Jay responded after a moment, his tone dry. "You and Aquila are supposed to be watching the others right now."
Whatever Leon wanted, it was crucial that it waited until this first email was finished and sent.
"She's got it handled," he said. "The painkillers knocked Sirius out, and Cyg is keeping Rigel busy, and Orion's hiding out in his room, so it's fine." He entered the room properly, and closed the door behind him, approaching Jay at his desk. "All the problem kids aren't problems right now."
He stopped, standing only a few feet from where Jay sat. "I need want to talk to you about something, though," Leon continued, fidgeting a bit.
Involuntarily, Jay smirked. "You need want?" he teased him, still not making eye contact.
"... Yeah. Need want," Leon replied sheepishly.
Jay continued to type.
"Alright, well," he began slowly, "I have a lot of really important emails I need to write because of what happened the other day, so I can't do that with you right now." He paused for a moment, proofreading the line he'd just written. "Go back outside and help Aquila, alright? We'll talk later. I promise."
Quietly, Leon stood there.
"I'm surprised you still trust me to do anything since what happened was mostly my fault."
Finally, Jay looked up at him. It was the tone of guilt in Leon's voice that forced him to shift priorities; the email could surely wait a few minutes. "You learned from it, right?" he asked.
"Yeah," Leon muttered, his persimmon eyes to the floor. "But I still messed up."
Jay shook his head. "Messing up one time doesn't make you irredeemable, even if it did result in something pretty bad." One of Leon's ears perked a bit, responding to the reassurance. He continued, "Also, what Rigel said would happen, and what actually happened, ended up being two completely different things, right?"
Leon hesitated, but made eye contact again. "Right."
"So that's not your fault."
"I still..." Leon began slowly, "I still agreed to help him beat up Orion in the first place."
Jay fell silent.
"What did Rigel promise you for that, anyway?" he asked, a faint chill to his words.
"He said he'd give me his lunch every day for a week."
Frowning and concerned for multiple reasons, most of which he decided to keep to himself, Jay replied,"You know, if you're still hungry, you can always just ask for larger portions."
"I know, but he said I'd be doing him a huge favor if I took his lunch, so--"
Jay cut him off. "You're not. He isn't supposed to skip meals."
Leon stood there nervously as Jay stared at him, unsure of what to say in response to being interrupted so abruptly.
As he realized how awkward he'd just made this conversation, Jay returned his attention to the email. "I'll talk to him later, I guess. Is this all you wanted from me?"
"W-well, no, I-I, um." Leon stammered. "Are you okay?"
"I've got plenty of pain meds. I'm fine," said Jay, purposely neglecting to include the part where he'd chosen not to take them today.
Again, Leon began to fidget. "N-no, um. Well, I mean I'm glad your leg is alright, but, uh." He wavered. "I've known you most of my life, a-and..."
Jay looked up at him again, an eyebrow raised, not due to impatience, but genuine curiosity.
"You're not... acting how I know you to act?" Leon finished as he combed a hand through his hair.
The raised eyebrow became a confused squint.
"What do you mean?"
As Leon spoke, he progressively became more uncomfortable."I mean, um. You've never... called any of us names, or... hurt us before." His voice shook. "That... that was never you, that was..."
He broke eye contact, knowing what he was about to say next would hurt. "You reminded me of Dieter, I guess."
Jay felt a hole form in the pit of his stomach.
"I'm fine, Leon."
"Are you sure?" Leon pressed him. "Because it seems like whenever Orion's involved--"
That was it.
"Go back outside and help Aquila like you're supposed to," Jay snapped.
Viciously, Leon slammed his hands on the desk as his eyes lit up and the plasma began to flow, ensuring he had Jay's attention now. "Y-you kicked him, and it's not like you, and I just want to know why, okay!?"
Jay stared at him, tense, unable to do anything else.
"Me, and Cyg, and Aquila have been talking about it, and we all agreed you're not acting right and we're kinda getting scared," Leon continued, the glow from his eyes beginning to fade again. "They're too young to remember what Dieter did, and I guess that's good, but um."
"We don't feel safe around you anymore."
His expression was neutral as he tried his best not to react either to Leon's accusation, or to his outburst, although his heart was now racing and he felt sick to his stomach.
A sudden throb of pain through his leg prompted him to speak.
"I promise I'm not turning into Bob," Jay's voice cracked. "That guy was awful to me too, remember?"
He returned his attention to the email, as Leon stared on with a furrowed brow.
The sound of keyboard tapping filled the room once again. "I'm doing something very important right now, so please go back outside and do what I asked."
Leon stood there for a moment longer, watching Jay type.
He turned and walked to the door, but stopped. With his hand on the handle, he looked back. "I really want to be able to trust you, Jay."
Jay ceased his typing, although his eyes remained on the screen.
"I want that too, Leon."