16 The Doubt!
Mackenzie yelled so loud almost everyone in the store could hear her. Causing a commotion was the last thing on her mind but his words were the same as a stab in the back for her.
'Was he lying to me the whole time? But that is impossible, I would have spotted the signs of deception! Why though? Why would he pretend that he was a newcomer? There was nothing to gain! Wait, did he know about the...?' Her mind was working incredibly fast trying to connect the dots. Unfortunately, her impulsive personality finally got the better of her as she jumped to conclusions just like Lesedi did earlier.
"How could you lie to me like that!" She yelled at him without caring who would hear her, as her eyes started to well up with tears. She assumed that he was not a newcomer but someone with a different goal in mind.
She felt betrayed, and she couldn't handle another betrayal regardless of its scale, not again. Even though she told Lesedi that she trusted her gut when it came to Leon, the same emotions she had built up over the years quickly overwhelmed her once again.
Leon knew that he made a mistake, and judging by her teary eyes, it was no small matter. He had to fix it immediately. He didn't know how sensitive Mackenzie was to betrayal so he thought that all of this was caused by his own actions and words. He quickly analyzed what he said previously in order to find a solution.
He was a problem solver all of his life, even more so after Irene's passing. And here that characteristic of his came to fruition. People would usually try to defend themselves after being accused of lying, especially in a public setting, but he kept his calm and tried to ascertain the facts. He had an uncanny ability to disregard his surroundings when it mattered.
"Mackenzie, why do you think that I lied to you?" He asked calmly, with a serious and emotionless look on his face.
She expected a defensive attitude or even a tantrum and this question threw her off a little. She was prepared to argue and accuse further but the only words that she could muster were:
"Why did you pretend to be a newcomer? What did you expect to gain from me that I didn't already offer when we first talked?" This time her voice was a lot quieter, even Leon that was closest to her could barely hear it.
He finally understood that this was a misunderstanding that occurred because of his negligence.
And that was enough for him to peace everything together, or at least he thought it was.
"I am sorry. I have omitted the number of my karmic points from you, I wasn't sure that I could trust you with everything just yet" He said calmly once again, thinking that this was the core of the problem, only to realize how wrong he was after his words provoked an angry reaction from her.
"I don't care about your stupid karmic points! I want to know whether anything that you said was in fact true, about your wife, about cleansing..." Mackenzie started to fume, but abruptly stopped there.
She finally remembered about the cleansing that Leon hadn't gone trough. She was sure that Leon passed her lie-detection skill when he first mentioned it and only someone who was extremely proficient in lying could bypass that. Or someone that was truthful. So if that was true and he retained his skill proficiencies, then why not retain his karmic points?
'Did I jump to conclusions too early?' A frightening thought passed through her mind. She was now torn between trusting her skills which meant trusting Leon and her deeply rooted fear of betrayal.
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This was not the same as with her previous trainees, they were just assigned to her by the Association. She formed connections with them, but none of those were based on trust and a plea for help. That is why she didn't care when everyone left. It was way different with Leon, no matter how fast her connection with him was formed, it was deep enough to trigger her fears in this situation.
She couldn't handle it anymore, and just stared at him, finally letting tears roll down her face.
It was then that Leon finally realized that this sort of a panic attack couldn't be just his fault. Something else was going on that he was not aware of and he was just a trigger. Unfortunately he could only take a guess for now and hope for the best.
"Mack..." It was the first time he called her by that nickname, "I'm aware of my mistake, I was not completely honest, as I should have been from the start. I hope that you can forgive me" He told her slowly, as if trying to make sure that his every word portrayed his genuine feelings. This might not have been his fault, but he felt like it was, and that was enough for him to ask for forgiveness.
Leon basically told her what she needed to hear in order to calm down, and it worked.
"No, Leon, this ... I ... I don't know what to believe anymore." Her voice was so hesitant it sounded like she was stuttering.
"I have omitted some facts, but everything I said was the truth. I never lied to you." Leon thought that this was the right time to explain himself.
He then leaned closer to her ear, and whispered so that only she could hear him:
"I came into the Soul war world not only with my cooking skill proficiency but with karmic points and other skills as well."
His words caused another shock for her which her distressed mind showed on her face right away.
He thought that she already believed the story he told her yesterday, but apparently it was not the case. At least not entirely. He didn't blame her for it though, it was a stretch at best, and given the circumstances he would have had his doubts as well.
He didn't know about the existence of a lie-detection skill so Mackenzie's next words slightly confused him:
"Leon ... I am sorry. I jumped to conclusions and accused you of lying." She paused for a second in order to wipe her tears with her arm and clear her throat, "I just felt betrayed because of..." but her explanations was interrupted by another nearby voice:
"Mack, whatever it was, you two can talk about it later at your discretion when there are no hundreds of people listening to you."
Lesedi was the one that showed up, carrying the clothes Leon dropped on the floor when he went after Mackenzie. She pulled Leon aside, and gave him the clothes telling him to return to the Auxiliary Association after he's done with the shopping. Then she grabbed Mackenzie's hand and stormed out of the shop pulling her away leaving Leon alone.
It was then that the consequences of their previous actions kicked Leon. He just became aware of all the people that he ignored, staring at him. Most of them did not look favorably upon him.
He scratched his head, and returned to the line in front of the cashier. It was time to figure out how the 'trade' function of the system worked, which was not easy under scrutiny.
When it was his turn, the cashier that was kind towards the previous customers only blankly told him:
"Your bill is 482 karmic points."
Leon entered the correct amount and agreed to the trade. In just a few seconds the clothes appeared in his inventory, with system confirming the trade and logging it in.
After he was done, he left the shop, heading straight back.
The entire time, despite all the stares, nobody said a word to him.