Call of Destiny

By Kay

Disclaimer: Don't own, please don't sue.

Author's Note: Just another David/Jalil drabble I did a long time ago but never uploaded here. Post!series timeline.

David had once told him that, "When a man hears the call of destiny, he heeds it."

Jalil doesn't really believe that. He's always been a steadfast believer in the human will- what a man wishes to do, he can accomplish through his own strength and desires. Fate is a tool for the broken hearted and innocent, the concept of destiny nothing more than an elaborate excuse for change, a doormat to God and the higher steps of faith. When a man doesn't have the power to initiate change in himself or the world around him, he attributes his sudden urges to this invisible force that supposedly determines all that humankind will do. Jalil doesn't have time for that kind of bullshit, of course. He's too busy just trying to keep David Levin, Heeder to the Call of His Destiny, alive and kicking for another month.

"I don't think we should press an attack on the west front," Jalil says impatiently again, tapping his finger on the map spread out over the large library table.

"If we wait too long, they'll regroup with more strength," David says, reasonably irritated. His boots are propped up against the table edge, making him look far too young to be general of entire armies in a foreign world. For a moment, Jalil contemplates batting them off the clean surface- the shoe treads are clogged with dried mud clumps- but he lets it go with a sigh.

"Or they could take advantage of the fact that you've returned with almost zero supplies, no horses and a half-dead, exhausted army," Jalil points out in what he believes is a reasonable tone.

"Restocking will take too long." David's teeth are gritting now, a sure sign he's about ready to say something equally stupid and heroic. Jalil hides an internal groan, not entirely sure if he wants to hear this or stop it before it comes. "Battles aren't all about strength in numbers or supplies, Jalil! Damn it, my men are-"

"About ready to fall on their feet," Jalil interrupts firmly before he can start off on another tirade. He resists the urge to rub his forehead wearily, instead leaning forward over the table and glaring into David's face. "And so are you, for that matter. You haven't even let anyone dress your wounds, and you want to go out and prod sticks at the enemy again? Christ, General-"

"I'm fine," David protests loudly, eyes wide and shadowed against the pale waxy sheet of his face. He ignores the fact that his hair is still crusted over with mud and blood, and the ripped skin over his knuckles from gripping his sword too tightly and for far too long. Jalil's almost certain his ribs are bruised- it wouldn't be a surprise, considering the ugly, garish purple color surrounding most of his body. He sighs carefully, sitting down across from the general in resignation.

"You idiot, look. It's not that I don't think you can't do it-"

"Jesus, Jalil."

He holds up a hand, narrowing black eyes into slits. "Shut up and listen to me. It's not that I don't think you'd win. But there's more to this than just winning battles, General. What if we send you out now, and you come back triumphant but completely spent? And then we have an attack from the Hetwan the next day? What do you expect us to do, throw books and chainmail at them and hope it knocks them out?"

David's gone still. He's listening this time, his eyes darting around in deep thought and his lip gently held between his teeth. He looks like Hell warmed over, but Jalil always relaxes when he sees this expression- it means he's ready to listen.

"I know you can do this. I know your men can, and I know you all want to do this. But you have to take into account that there's more to think about here than what you and your men want. You have to remember that the safe hold," and he's not talking about the castle, not DaggerMouth, though it's the safe hold, "and home," and he's still not entirely sure what he's saying, but David is listening, "before you make assumptions you can't afford to be wrong about."

David's eyes are dark, like ink on parchment that stains Jalil's fingers, when he looks at him.

"Please," Jalil resorts to, amending his harsh tone. "Give me a little time, that's all. A little more time, General, and you'll have a battle plan worth following."

It weighs between them in the air like a stone, threatening to crash and send everything to ruin. But David eventually closes his eyes and relaxes, nodding. He trusts Jalil's opinion. He trusts where he'll take them.

Jalil only hopes it's not misguided trust in the end.

"In the meantime," he says in a purposefully light-hearted tone, "you should get some sleep. You look awful, General."

A smile quirks David's chapped lips. "You almost never call me by name anymore. I'm going to end up getting a complex, Jalil."

It's an entirely unexpected statement- Jalil's fingers freeze on the papers he had been gathering, his mouth hanging open slightly. He looks at David, and he's seeing something different than usual, but the next moment their dark-eyed mystery of a leader has risen from his seat and turned away.

"I'm going to bed," he says.

Jalil closes his mouth uncertainly. "… good night, then."

David nods without looking at him and moves towards the door. Jalil's hands are still rigid in their positions, tingling oddly, when his mouth moves without his permission. It's never done that before, so he's not entirely sure what to make of it.

"I'll see you in the morning? David."

Tense shoulders relax further, lagging down. David turns. Smiles. It looks painful. It looks sincere. "Sure, in the morning. If I don't sleep through it." His voice is strangely light, alarmingly hoarse from battle, and Jalil can only find the strength to laugh in a way that's more an inhale of air than a response.

The door shuts behind him.

Jalil wonders what the hell is happening to them all. Everworld has changed so much about them. Or has he always been able to read David Levin? They operate on similar wavelengths, after all, more so than the others…

He folds his papers up and tucks them away absentmindedly. It doesn't really bear worth thinking about, he tells himself, because it's such a little thing to think about. In the grand scope of things, it doesn't matter. Not really.

David had once told him that, "When a man hears the call of destiny, he heeds it."

Jalil wonders, in the dark of the library, how exactly one hears the call of destiny. If it sounds like a name spoken. If it's destiny or just your own will when it's a call you've already planned to heed for as long as it cried out.

Stupid, really. Their General- David- could be so dramatic.

He traces his fingers along the lines of the map, face softening in the empty room, before he even realizes he's doing it.