(Skipping to leave thread, with permission from Mara.)
"I know what you mean." Quiet words and a small, miserable nod for Takeshi.
Ian's resolve wavered briefly at the boy's words. Takeshi was a nice kid, really, the kind of person Ian wished he'd gotten to know better before, and might have if he hadn't been so preoccupied for the last two days. Somehow, he felt guilty, almost like he was abandoning the other two, letting them down, and he didn't know why. He didn't like the thought of hurting either of them, still less that he owed them better, but it made sense, right?
"Just...what Bella said, basically. Time's running out every minute, and it's about talking with as many people as we can. It shouldn't be more than a day tops."
Deep breath, relax.
After all, it was just common sense, right? It was good for the plan, and it gave him an excuse to keep Bella from being a noble idiot until she really did hurt herself. It made sense, right?
Besides, Juhan had the map, he trusted his friend, and they shouldn't need him. He'd still be helping out, and they could take care of things in the meantime just fine. Then he wouldn't need to make all these decisions that had to be perfect, wouldn't need to answer the hard questions...
...On second thought, perhaps he understood his sense of guilt a little better than he cared to admit. Perhaps he'd jumped rather quickly at this...
One last chance to back out.
He thrust his hand out towards Juhan. Maybe it was cowardly, maybe it was just polite, but it didn't feel right to back out now, after he'd already committed.
"Take care, pal. I don't...I mean, well, just be careful okay? You too, Takeshi."
There was more after that, some delay before they actually parted, because none of them really wanted to, but the departure could only be prolonged so long. For a brief while, the walk did indeed do him some good, and it wasn't until much later that the nagging worry returned.
It was just one among many, at first, but then it started taking on shape. A thought here, a detail there, until it suddenly became clear, and he was left trying to grasp the implications of it all.
The rush from the apartments had been panicked, leaving no time, or even thought for plans. There was one thing they needed to escape, something essential to destroying the collars, and in the chaos, he'd simply forgotten it. He couldn't even tell Bella, couldn't turn back and tell the others without alerting the terrorists.
He grew very silent indeed for the rest of the trip.