Acronix's heart jumped as the older man nearly let him fall, "Again, Acronix, do. you, yield?"
Wu pulled him back up, gloating over his victory as he did so. It made Acronix sick.
And, just as Wu finished his spiel, the time vortex opened back up, and time skipped forward.
Suddenly, they were standing in front of the Forward Timeblade.
Its rushed, shoddy workmanship had not survived the fall.
Green energy sparked around the warped chronosteel, then faded.
Acronix had been on his feet for hours, and being drained of his powers had taken a lot out of him, the final leg of his fight against Wu had run on adrenaline, and that was fading, leaving him sore and exhausted.
Acronix fell to his knees, blinking back tears. He had failed.
"Whatever you do to me" he said, clear as he could, his voice weighed down by emotion "please, make it quick" he closed his eyes, finally allowing himself to rest. Maybe he'd at least see his brother again.
Instead, he felt a withered hand on his shoulder, "Acronix" Wu's voice was gentle, "I want to help you"
Acronix jerked his head up, eyes blinking open in shock, "what?" he snapped, "why would you help me?"
Wu sat across from him.
"I suppose I have grown sentimental in my old age" he said, a hint of melancholy in his voice, "and, we both know you were never the one calling the shots"
Acronix bristled, getting to his feet, "And you think I had a choice? My life was a living hell after they found out about me!, My brother was the only one who stood by my side"
Wu raised a hand, "Please don't misunderstand, your brother was a flawed man, but he loved you, the way my brother loved me, I don't believe it was his intention to make you his pawn"
"I WASN'T HIS PAWN!" Acronix lunged at the elderly man, but Wu dodged him easily. Acronix stumbled and fell, and didn't get back up.
Wu waited a couple minutes.
Acronix didn't move.
As cunning an opponent he was, it wasn't like Acronix to set up a trap like this, nevertheless, Wu takes caution in his approach, staying vigilant as he kneeled next to the prone figure.
No attack was launched, but he could hear quiet sobs.
Gingerly, Wu placed a hand on Acronix's shoulder, the younger man flinched, swiping weakly at the older man.
Wu pulled away, giving the former Master of Time some space. He backed off, keeping an eye on him from a distance.
Eventually, Acronix's breathing evened out, and he sat up, pulling his knees to his chest and burying his face.
Wu hesitated a moment, beginning to approach the younger man, "Acronix?" he called, keeping his voice low, Acronix raised his head and looked at him.
"can you talk?" Wu asked, Acronix nodded, "ye-yeah" he muttered, wiping his face on his sleeve.
Wu sat down, settling a fair ways away from Acronix, "I can give you a place to stay for as long as you need" he said, "I won't ask anything of you in return"
Acronix snorted, doubtfully, "and what do you hope to gain from this, exactly? No one's ever given us- uh" he briefly choked up, "me, anything for free, there's always a price"
Anything 'free' was a trap.
"I-" Wu started, and then sighed, "I hope to gain a clean conscience"
Even after everything he'd done, Wu could never forgive himself if he left Acronix to his fate in an unfamiliar world.
Acronix thought about his words, curling in on himself, "I guess I have no choice" he said.
"I will not force you"
Acronix scowled, "you know that's not what meant" he snapped, Wu lowered his head.
"yes, I know" he said, words tinged with guilt.
"I'll take your offer" Acronix said, bitterly.
Wu nodded, starting to get up, and reluctantly, Acronix followed suit, the elder of the two walked to the top of the stairs but stopped when he realized Acronix wasn't following.
He turned, eyebrow raised.
Acronix was staring down the mountain, no doubt contemplating the trek ahead, "I am... tired" he said, and Wu notices how worn he sounds. Of course, today had been far longer for him.
"of course" mentally, he kicks himself, "it's been a long day for you, you need your rest"
Acronix sagged in relief, he walked to a patch of grass and went to lay down, resting his head on his arm.
Within a few minutes, he was asleep.
Wu sighed, he didn't know how long Acronix would sleep. He guessed he'd have to stay here a bit longer.