Vaan reacts to Montblanc's surprise at his living through the Shadowseer hunt.
So worry only set in when he was whirled around to face Vaan, who raised his other hand in order to clutch both of Tomaj's shoulders tightly enough that it might leave a bruise, his eyes wide enough to see the whites around them. "Something wrong, Vaan?" he asked.
"Montblanc tried to kill me!" Tomaj noticed several people at the tables around them looking up at the exclamation, but they all quickly turned their attentions back to their drinks. If anyone was trying to kill someone else, they didn't want to risk getting caught up in it.
"Doesn't sound much like him," Tomaj said blandly, positive that Vaan must have misinterpreted something. If his clan leader had tried to murder one of his hunters, rumors of it would have reached Tomaj's ears before the attempted victim did, no matter how fast he'd run.
"He told me himself!" Vaan said, already calming enough to start shifting from looking afraid to looking outraged. "He sent me on this hunt, right? And when I just went to get my reward from him he told me he'd thought it would kill me when he gave it to me!"
"But it didn't, right?" Tomaj asked, giving him a solid thump on the shoulder. Admittedly, there was a chance that it had; Vaan had sat around regaling him with stories of his adventures often enough for him to know that the younger man had wound up working for more than one ghost in the previous few months without realizing it until they passed on, so maybe the same thing could happen to him. But Tomaj doubted that even Vaan would come back from the dead just to corner him and complain about it.
"Well, yeah," Vaan admitted grudgingly, like he though that acknowledging in any way that this wasn't the most awful thing that had ever happened would be turned against him.
"And you weren't even seriously injured?"
"You wouldn't say that if you could see my back." Vaan let go of one of Tomaj's shoulders, his grip on the other loosing a little at the same time, and reached back to touch the offending part of his body with a grimace. "And that doesn't change what he did!"
"And he did fulfill all the requirements of posting an elite hunt and hiring you as a hunter, right? He would be risking his position if he didn't."
"Yeah, so?" Vaan was starting to look suspicious, like he knew where this was going and wasn't happy with it. "That doesn't make it right."
"All right, Vaan. The table in the corner is empty. Sit down, think about why what you just said makes accusing our Clan leader of attempted murder ridiculous, and I'll get you a drink." The way Vaan's face lit up told Tomaj that he'd decided to focus on the final part of that sentence instead of getting annoyed with the rest of it, and he rolled his eyes as he turned him around and gave him a light nudge on the shoulder towards the table. "A non-alcoholic drink."
Vaan snorted and grumbled, "Everyone I'm traveling with doesn't care if I drink sometimes."
"Since Penelo's one of them, I sincerely doubt that's true." Tomaj couldn't resist staying where he was long enough to get a look at Vaan's back to see if any of the visible skin really was that bad. When he saw the scabbed over but still livid wounds peeking out from both the bottom of his shirt and its collar, possibly indication that the cuts stretched all the way between them, he winced a little himself. Maybe Vaan did have reason to be a little upset about his last hunt, even if he was aiming it in the wrong direction.
When he returned with two glasses of juice Vaan was slouched in his seat, not letting any part of his back touch the chair. His expression looked like he might actually be thinking about what Tomaj had meant, although it was just as likely that he was thinking about how he'd one day be the best sky pirate in the world or the best way to dodge Migelo if the bangaa found out that he was in town and tried to make him work.
"You know," he said when he set Vaan's glass in front of him, "if you're going to be angry at Montblanc about this you should be just as mad as me."
"Why?" Vaan asked, eyeballing him. "You weren't even there when he sent me on that hunt."
"But I was there when you grabbed the bill for Roblon and ran off to find the petitioner. A rank six hunt in the Nabreus Deadlands/? Between the mark itself and the hell that place has turned into I was /positive I was never going to see you again. And I didn't say a word to stop you, did I?"
For a moment Vaan looked so injured and betrayed that Tomaj rather wished he'd kept his mouth shut, but then his expression shifted, first to thoughtful, then to stubborn. "But you weren't the petitioner for that one. With this one, Montblanc /was/. Are you telling me you still would have let me go fight that one if I'd had to come to you to get the job."
"...Maybe not," Tomaj had to admit. "But I've known you for a lot longer than Montblanc. He wasn't sending off someone he's seen as a snot-nosed brat following his big brother around like a puppy."
Like Tomaj had hoped, outrage over that comment seemed to break through Vaan's mood. "Oh, shut up! You're only a year older than me, no matter how much you try to pretend that I'm just a kid. When I was a 'snot-nosed brat' you were one too."
"I've always been mature for my age," Tomaj said with a laugh, further annoying Vaan by reaching out to ruffle his hair before he got serious again. "But, honestly Vaan, you can't blame Montblanc for this. Most serious mark hunters, and at this level you've sure as hell become one, don't just expect to die on a hunt, they want to. Die in glorious battle, leave your mark on the world as other hunters strive to take down whatever it was that got you to avenge you, maybe even get a statue thrown up somewhere if you can drag out the battle long enough to get stories told about it. That's why you don't stop a hunter who you think is biting off more than they can chew; you expect that they know what they're getting into."
"Well, for future reference, I don't plan on dying on any hunt," Vaan said, glaring at him definitely.
"Noted," Tomaj replied, tipping his glass to Vaan before taking a swallow of his own drink.
Then Vaan smiled wanly, and if Tomaj had thought his betrayed look was one that he'd never want to see on Vaan's face this one was much, much, worse. "If I'm gonna die in battle, there are ones a lot more important coming up that I need to stick around to do it in."
And to that statement Tomaj finally had no response.