This story is a direct continuation to FFM 2021 14: A Choice for the Short Run, so make sure you read the earlier stories in this chain.
Levi looked at the dark skies. The forecast on the car radio said that it would rain tonight.
“If he spends the night outside, he’ll freeze to death,” Warren muttered.
Like a swan song, Levi mused but knew better than to say aloud. He did not know what exactly had happened to Warren’s son, but it took even less social skills than he had to tell that Raiyo’s situation was bringing up some memories.
When they arrived at the park, it turned out that Warren had been right. There Raiyo was, curled up on a bench.
“Now what?” Levi asked. “He’ll probably run away from us again.”
“If we can get close enough before he sees us, we might be able to reach him and convince him that we won’t put him into danger.”
Levi was not a fan of the idea of sneaking up on his coworker — someone he had been training, no less — but he had to admit that he had no better ideas. “Let’s go then.”
Raiyo startled when a familiar voice called his name. His eyes flew open only to reveal that Levi and Warren had found him. A quick look at the escape routes revealed that he could not get away; the duo was most likely prepared for him bolting.
“We don’t mean you any harm, young man,” Warren — Raiyo was quite certain that was the man’s name — told, his voice soft. “We are merely concerned about your wellbeing.”
Sitting up, Raiyo looked at Levi, who was standing awkwardly a bit behind Warren but had a hint of concern on his serious face. When their eyes met, Levi nodded and said, “Please let us help.”
Raiyo shook his head. “Leave me be.” His voice was weak from exhaustion. “I don’t need help.”
“You don’t plan on spending the night here, do you?” Warren asked. He looked at the clouds. “It’s going to rain tonight. You’ll freeze out here.”
Raiyo shrugged. “I’ll be fine.”
Levi sat down on the other end of the bench to speak without having to make eye contact. “Raiyo, please listen to us. We do not know what is going on in your life, but it is clear that something is wrong.”
“It’s none of your-“
“Hear me out first, please.” When Raiyo did not protest, Levi continued, “If you do not want our help with whatever is going on, that is your prerogative. However, we would prefer not to let you die of hypothermia.”
“And how would you help with that?” Raiyo asked, trying find even an iota of faith that the apathetic man was actually going to help him.
“I have an empty guest room. You staying the night there would not be a problem.”
Raiyo looked at Warren.
“And you… you would not tell about… this?” Raiyo asked.
“If you insist on keeping whatever is going on a secret,” Levi answered.
Raiyo considered his options. He could either die tonight in the cold or accept the shelter for tonight and hope that it would not come back to bite him later.
Raiyo looked at Warren again. The grave concern on the man’s face convinced him that if nothing else worked, he would take matters into his own hands and alert authorities.
In the end, it was the easiest to accept the help and hope for the best.
“Fine. I’ll come with you.”