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“Look,” said Roman, feeling the need to reign in the rhetoric a tad, “I don’t know what all you’ve been through. You’re much older and wiser than I am, so maybe this is just my youthful innocence talking, but after everything you’ve told me so far, it’d strike me as kind of a waste if you just gave up and waited for death.”
Leo’s half-drawn gaze lingered on Roman for a while before he finally spoke again. “Where’re you from, big cat?”
Roman hoped that was a compliment. “Uh...” He wasn’t sure he actually wanted to tell him that information, though.
The pressure returned, and Roman no longer had a choice. “I-I’m from Atreya.”
“Atreya? Heh! Wow. I was born in Kahm.”
Roman felt the pressure go away again. “Really?”
“Yeah, man. My mama brought me into this world right near the border, too. Another fifty miles north, and I woulda been Atreyan, myself. Small world, eh?”
Roman was at a loss for words again. Impulsively, a part of him wanted to use this to convince Leo to help him, but he resisted the urge. There was just something very disarming about this guy. So laid-back. Not quite friendly, but... whatever it was, it made Roman want to like him, somehow.
Which was dangerous. He was flirting with disaster here, and he knew it. He’d gotten Leo to perk up a little, but now he needed to get to the point.
“So... if you don’t think I should go to your boss for help, then would you recommend someone else?”
Leo flicked at one of his dreadlocks as he mulled the question over. “Maybe Kane? He likes the Rainlords, I think... But nah, I doubt he’d go against the Vanguard for ‘em.” He paused for another thought. “Yeah, man, you’re screwed. Ain’t nobody gonna help you outta the goodness of their heart--‘specially not with all the baggage in that kooky letter of yours. End of the day, everybody’s just in it for them ‘n theirs, daddy-o. Risk aversion, ya feel me? ‘s in our nature.”